Sunshine state political shift? Establishment candidates favored to win

2010 has been a year rife with anti-incumbent sentiment, but Florida voters are likely to buck that trend this week and advance sitting elected officials toward new political positions.

With just 72 days to decide the general election, decisions will be made in two key primary races on Tuesday. The Republican gubernational primary pits Attorney General Bill McCollum, a former U.S. congressman, against health care executive Rick Scott. The candidates have been locked in a bitter battle, and have spent extraordinary amounts of money campaigning, making it the most expensive primary battle in Florida's history.

Running on an anti-establishment platform, Scott originally surged ahead in the polls, but now trails McCollum by nearly 10 points in the latest Quinnipiac poll. In recent days, Scott has been hard-hit by McCollum over his refusal to release a deposition related to a lawsuit involving his health care company, Solantic. Florida political insider Justin Sayfie, publisher of the political website,, gives the advantage to McCollum, who, he said, "has really caught momentum, especially in the last two weeks" and is entering the "final days of the campaign" ahead of Scott.

On the Democratic side, Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek is competing against billionaire real estate entrepreneur Jeff Greene in the Democratic Senate primary. The latest Quinnipiac poll puts Meek 7 points ahead of Greene, who has been plagued by controversy, including questions about a trip to Cuba aboard his luxury yacht and his company's use of credit default swaps. Meek is also benefiting from public support from both President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who visited the state last week. Sayfie predicted Meek will pull out the win on Tuesday. Despite being the "establishment Democrat," Sayfie said Meek is profiting from Greene's "colorful past" and also got a big boost from high-profile endorsements, which have given him the "momentum to win."

If McCollum and Meek emerge victorious on Tuesday, they'll go on to the November midterm elections. If McCollum is the winner, he'll face the presumptive Democratic nominee Alex Sink in the general election for governor. Meanwhile, Meek can expect to go up against former Republican turned independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race. Describing the Crist-Rubio match up as "one of the most watched races in the country," Sayfie said it remains to be seen if Crist will be able to gather the support he needs now that he's running as an Independent.

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