As campaign mudslinging reaches new heights, Florida's two Republican gubernatorial candidates have something else at stake. Should one of them win the November election, they would have tremendous influence over the Republican Party of Florida.
For proof, one must only look at the first thing newly elected Governor Charlie Crist did in 2006: he muscled in a new chairman for day-to-day operations of RPOF. Jim Greer was a little known party insider. His meteoric rise to power and his subsequent fall are well known.
But the story is far from over. While Greer has been indicted for siphoning off some of the money he raised for RPOF, he will soon have the chance to face his accusers.
And as radio commentator Paul Harvey would say, "And now for the rest of the story..." This is the last thing that RPOF want's to hear blaring from radio (or any other media).
Bill McCollum has held many elected offices. He is considered a long time Florida politico that knows where all the skeletons are buried and he's proven his ability to keep his mouth shut.
Perhaps that's why he and legislative leaders Mike Haridopolos & Dean Cannon led the efforts to try and buy off Greer. Why exactly Greer went from party boss to pariah will no doubt be told in court.
But in the meantime RPOF must be very careful to guard the party secrets. That's why longtime insider and lobbyist John Thrasher was rushed into taking Greer's place as chairman. So far, so good.
And with McCollum looking like an easy win, everything seemed fine.
But Rick Scott is looking like the uninvited guest at a private party. Should he win, it will be awfully hard to hide anything from the most powerful elected Republican in the state.
And that friends, is not going to be easily tolerated by insiders that want a nice dark place to conduct business. Big business. Like raking in millions from special interests looking to buy favors from elected officials.
Money is very important to RPOF. Florida election laws place strict limits on the amounts individuals and corporations can give to candidates. Those same rules allow UNLIMITED amounts of special interest money into races as long as it is funneled through a political party.
This has the perverse result of making the party even stronger. And it also shields politicians from being directly linked to any pay-to-play conflict of interests.
The problem with Rick Scott is that he's an outsider that hasn't been tested. Will he keep his mouth shut, or will he go digging in the graveyard? These are questions that will be answered shortly (or not at all IF he does not win)!
Not surprisingly, all the RPOF brass have come out strongly for McCollum. They know that this house of cards is best kept in tack by protecting it from outsiders.