POLL: Naples' Rick Scott gaining ground on McCollum in GOP governor's primary

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Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott said people started suggesting he run for governor after hearing him speak out about how the federal government needed to stay out of health care.

Provided by Rick Scott for Governor

Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott said people started suggesting he run for governor after hearing him speak out about how the federal government needed to stay out of health care.

— Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum is losing ground to newcomer Rick Scott in the Republican primary, but he still leads Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the race for governor.

The latest Mason-Dixon poll released Saturday shows McCollum, a 20-year congressman, leading Scott 38 percent to 24 percent. McCollum was leading Sink, the likely Democratic nominee, 45 percent to 36 percent — down from a 15-point lead McCollum held in late March.

Sink, who has been campaigning for nearly a year, had a 38 percent to 36 percent lead over Scott, a health care executive who has spent millions in television ads and has pledged to self-finance much of his campaign.

"This new wild card will force both of the early frontrunners to recalibrate their thinking," said Brad Coker, director of the Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the survey of Florida for the media outlets. Coker said the television ads helped Scott since none of the other gubernatorial candidates are airing ads yet.

McCollum's campaign said the numbers were not surprising, considering the average Floridian saw Scott's ads 40 times in the last couple weeks. "My expectation is now that Scott has spent so much money, he will receive a thorough vetting by the press, which has not at this point happened," said Kristy Campbell, McCollum's campaign director.

State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, was favored by 7 percent.

The poll conducted Monday through Wednesday among 625 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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