Brace yourselves. The final days of our state’s gubernatorial election are upon us. So far, billboards have been raised, millions have been spent, and the TV ads have been brutal. As the November 4th election for governor of Florida approaches, Democratic candidate Charlie Crist and Republican candidate Rick Scott battle it out; voters keep polls neck-and-neck.
Florida, though it has a slight majority of Democratic voters, is a purple state, meaning that it could swing red (Republican) or blue (Democratic) in any given election. The winner of this battle will represent the party that may determine the way Florida votes in the 2016 presidential election.
In this expensive and notorious campaign, both candidates are fairly unpopular. Scott, for various decisions, including slashing education spending and not standing up to environmental polluters and Crist for flip-flopping parties and positions.
For an election that will determine the next four years of our state’s leadership, there has been an extreme amount of mud-slinging. The ads have not expanded on the issues, but instead have sought to characterize each opponent as more evil and incompetent than the other.
The tensions of the campaign came to a head October 15th in what is now known across the country as “Fangate.” The candidates had agreed to a televised debate at Broward College without electronic devices, though Crist’s team had written in an exception for a fan, which he brought to the podium to keep from sweating.
When Governor Scott’s debate team saw the fan, they voiced their opinion that it violated the rules, and the Governor did not appear at his podium for seven minutes, disrupting the start of the debate.
The fan controversy continued between the grown men into the terms of subsequent debate — diverting attention away from Florida’s main issues — and again making Florida the joke on shows like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.
Big donors have backed both candidates. Scott won his first campaign with a significant amount of funding from his own coffers. This time around, big business is supporting him generously, including the Koch brothers of Coca-Cola and Georgia Pacific, who are known for being Tea Party proponents. Crist is backed by trial attorneys and more recently, NexGen, which supports pro environmental candidates.
And of course all that donated money can’t be discussed without mentioning the absurd amount of money spent by both campaigns, mostly used on negative advertisements aimed at the opposition. So far, Rick Scott’s campaign has spent about $55 million on ads, and Charlie Crist has spent about $26 million. The barrage of ads have been playing nonstop, with some declaring Crist a “typical flippin’ politician,” in reference to his party changes, and other ads against Scott pushing the hashtag “ShadyRick.”
Before the final result is out, many more ads will plague Florida’s airwaves. With health care at what it is, the economy in the condition it is in, too much gun violence in Florida, and a myriad of other issues, the focus of this campaign has been focused instead on a feud between two men, leaving the rest of Florida stuck in the middle.