BY GAYLE ANDREWS
Governor Rick Scott is a very strange man. I say that because he belligerently continues to do things that make him the most unpopular governor in Florida history. The first rule of politics is: get people to like you or you won’t survive. After a nearly four-year rule and many hurtful policies, His Highness Rick Scott has managed to unite the vast majority of Floridians against him. And the popularity polls reflect that. Scott can’t break 40 percent and he has hovered in the low- to mid-30’s for most of his term. This has been worrisome for the Republican Party of Florida for a long, long time.
In a desperate attempt to get him out of the race, Republican Party insiders leaked their own poll earlier this year. The grim numbers said that Scott lost badly among the groups and in regions that are “must wins”—Independents, Democrats, women, and men, Hispanics, in South and Central Florida and taking a major whooping among blacks. He was winning North Florida by only one point. Of course that only made Scott mad so he did what he always does, spend tons of money, to the tune of $25 million – only to find out that 60-65 percent of Floridians still don’t like him.
But the biggest threat to the Scott’s re-election is black voters. From the day he took office, Scott went about undermining blacks with his ultra-conservative policies and never considered changing any of them. All the crazy stories you’ve heard about his interaction with black people are unbelievable but true. What was really disturbing was his indifference to the outrage over his insults. He just thought he was immune from any kind of accountability to the people, especially black people.
Scott’s attempts to suppress black voters during the 2012 election backfired and actually increased turnout. That won a second term for President Barack Obama. But the continued suppressive election laws are so obvious that the U.S. Justice Department is monitoring Florida again.
The power of black voters is not lost on Tea Party Republicans. This summer they watched another unusual political move play out in Mississippi. Black Democrats voted in the Republican primary for a moderate incumbent U.S. Senator and beat the Tea Party conservative by over 7,000 votes. Black voters chose the palatable candidate rather than risk the election of the right-wing extremist. It was totally unorthodox, very empowering and a stunning rebuke of a Tea Party candidate like Rick Scott.
Scott and his operatives were watching all this horrified by the possibility of a similar fate for him in November. So their reaction was to spend more money on TV and radio ads, and run more misleading robo calls to discourage black voters from voting. But, the polls still show that he goes up and down but does not gain approval.
Black voters will play a major role in deciding whether Rick Scott continues to lead Florida backwards. It’s hard to imagine what he will do with four more years at the helm. Let’s hold that thought….no, let’s forget it or better yet, prevent it by voting for a different direction.
Gayle Andrews is a former member of the Capitol Press Corps, adjunct Journalism instructor at Florida A & M University, where she was awarded Distinguished and Outstanding Graduate status. She is a corporate & political consultant in Tallahassee.