Bill McCollum is having kind of a tough time right now in his bid to become Florida's next governor. Things were going so well for him, until it was discovered he spent over $120,000 dollars of tax payer money to pay a discredited witness to defend Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption. That and, till Rick Scott came along.
The one time Republican golden boy is having some money troubles. It was recently reported that McCollum is down to just $800,000 dollars in his campaign account. That's nothing in a statewide race that costs about $1 million a week to stay on TV.
McCollum is having a hard time keeping up financially with Rick Scott, the multi-millionaire candidate. So far Scott has put about $21 million into his own campaign and is poised to do a lot more. McCollum is hoping to use a state law that would allow public financing of his campaign in order to level the playing field.
Under the law, candidates running for statewide office (Governor, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer) the state will match contributions that are $250 or less once a candidate raises at least $150,000. Past candidates have received millions from this provision, as did Charlie Crist in 2006 with $3.3 million. Enacted in 1987, the law is there to encourage contributions from small donors. The law also includes state dollar-for-dollar matching funds if a candidate's opponent goes above the spending cap, which in this year's governor's race is $24.9 million.
Republicans have opposed the state financing law, including many of the folks supporting McCollum. This year, the Republican dominated legislature went so far as to put an amendment on the ballot that would repeal the system. It will be Amendment 1 on the ballot in November. In 1998, the voters put public financing into the constitution with a 64% majority.
Today Scott and McCollum go to court because Scott has sued to throw out the law that provides matching funds for a candidate who has exceeded the state spending cap.