POLL: McCollum camp: Scott’s early success in GOP governor primary due to $4.7M advertising blitz

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State Attorney General Bill McCollum.

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State Attorney General Bill McCollum.

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.

A local gubernatorial candidate is gaining momentum, and supporters cite his clear message for that bump in the polls.

The latest Mason Dixon poll shows state Attorney General Bill McCollum leading Naples resident Rick Scott 30 percent to 24 percent in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

McCollum, a 20-year congressman, also led state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink 45 percent to 36 percent, according to the poll which was released Saturday.

“I don’t think we were surprised by the traction Rick is getting,” said Jennifer Baker, spokeswoman for Scott’s campaign. “Floridians are clearly responding to Rick.”

McCollum’s campaign said the numbers were not surprising, considering the average Floridian saw Scott’s ads 40 times in the past 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.

Scott, 57, has spent more than $4.7 million in television and radio campaigns since announcing his candidacy last month. That’s estimated to be more than what McCollum has raised in 12 months.

The campaign treasurer reports — which outline how much money candidates raise, and how they spend it, during the election cycle — are due July 23.

Baker said advertising plays an important role in campaigns, especially for someone new to politics.

Scott is the co-founder of Columbia Hospital Corp. and quickly built the Texas corporation into the largest for-profit hospital chain, Columia/HCA.

Columbia owned three Southwest Florida hospitals — Southwest Florida Regional Medial Center and Gulf Coast Hospital in Lee County, and Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte — at the time.

Baker said the bump in the polls has less to do with Scott’s advertising campaign, and more to do with the message he’s sending.

“His message is clearly resonating,” she said. “It’s something that people are clearly interested in hearing. I think that people are fed up with the failed policies of career politicians. They want their government to get back on the right track.”

Baker said Scott will spend the next few months working “24/7 to make sure that his message gets out to as many Floridians as possible.”

The Florida gubernatorial primary is scheduled for Aug. 24.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Connect with Naples reporter Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jenna-buzzacco

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