A week ago, it looked like the August 24 Florida Republican gubernatorial primary would be a snoozer.
Health clinic mogul and Obamacare foe Rick Scott was cruising to victory over establishment favorite Attorney General Bill McCollum. Scott jumped into the race late and with heavy TV buys and the right message for an outsider year and obliterated McCollum's once dominant position in the race.
But now, the fight is getting very bitter again. Scott showed up for a testy exchange with capitol reporters in Tallahassee to talk about the latest allegations from McCollum's campaign - claims from a disgruntled former doctor at one of Scott's 30 walk-in clinics who claims Scott's company misused his medical license to over bill Medicare.
The McCollum campaign has glommed on to the lawsuit as evidence that Scott's 1997 run-in with Medicare that led to a $1.7 billion fine for former employer Columbia/HCA and Scott's departure as CEO was not an isolated incident. Scott was howling mad about the suggestion telling reporters that the McCollum campaign was calling former patients and current employees and called it "Chicago-style smear politics" and "what thugs do in third-world countries to keep power."
Scott claims McCollum is using his office to gin up support for the new lawsuit. McCollum denies the charge but his campaign is pushing hard on the former Scott doc's allegations.
With this much mud flying, the real winner is certain Democratic nominee Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer. With a fundraising boost coming from President Obama next week, Sink has improving chances of winning the seat being vacated by Gov. Charlie Crist.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.