How Will Self-Funding Candidates Fare in Florida?

Former Florida U.S. Senator, governor, and presidential candidate Bob Graham (D) told me the other day that Congressman Kendrick Meek would win the Democratic U.S. Senate primary Tuesday, in part because no self-funding Democratic millionaire has ever won anything big in Florida. He said much the same is true for Republicans and predicted Attorney General Bill McCollum would win the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Campaigns in Florida are notoriously media driven and expensive to advertise. Both Meek and McCollum face super rich rivals, who've spent tens of millions in attack ads.

Self-funders who can pony up millions think they have a shot, particularly in this volatile cycle.

But the private sector, outside Washington experience found in Florida's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial self-funders may be at odds with big swaths of the Florida constituencies they are trying to court.

Republican Rick Scott is running for governor in a state with one of the highest populations of Medicare recipients in the country. Yet, when he was CEO of HCA/Columbia Hospitals it settled the biggest Medicare fraud in history, a bit controversial.

Florida suffered one of the worst real estate collapses in the country and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene made a billion dollars betting mortgages would fail, also controversial, just a bit.

About one in five of Florida's 8 million voters, or a little more than a million and a half people will cast ballots Tuesday in two of the longest toughest primary fights all year.

Most other states have been in general election mode for weeks or months. That battle in the Sunshine state starts tomorrow.

A record-setting 361,000 Floridians had early voted by Sunday afternoon. That's more than 40 percent higher than 2006.

Polls in the final days suggested a third of likely voters were undecided in the Democratic Senate primary and a fifth couldn't make up their minds in the GOP gubernatorial primary. That is in part why super rich candidates often think they can win here - because races remain volatile until the last minute (remember 2000)? What the self funders forget is few before them have ever won anything.

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