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Fierce Attack Ads Escalate the War in Gubernatorial Race

October 4, 2010 - 6:00pm

The attacks are flying in the heated -- and close -- contest to be the 45th governor of Florida as Democrats and Republicans pummel each other.

The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched a new television commercial Tuesday attacking state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for governor. The commercial focuses on banks that Sink worked for -- and the fraud charges they faced.

Alex Sinks bank was fined millions for deceptive sales practices in her own bank branches and she claims she didnt know they were going on, said Dan Conston, a spokesman for the RPOF. Was she involved in the marketing and operations of the scam or did she not know what was going on in the lobbies of her Florida branches?

The Sink camp responded in kind Tuesday, unveiling a new commercial of its own which attacks Republican candidate Rick Scotts record in the private sector. Using law-enforcement officials, including Republicans such as State Attorney William Cervone and Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder, the ad reminds voters of the investigations into companies affiliated with Scott.

We're increasing our advertising across the state this week because every Floridian needs to know the truth about Rick Scott, wrote Jim Cassady, Sinks campaign manager, in an e-mail to supporters unveiling the ad.

Here's a tough ad with a tough message, but it tells the truth about Rick Scott, who cannot be trusted to be Florida's governor, continued Cassady.

The state CFOs team has increasingly made Republicans for Sink an important focus of her campaign -- gaining the backing of Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami. Villalobos, who had been a rising star in the Republican Party and rose to become Senate majority leader before breaking with Gov. Jeb Bush on education issues, has also backed Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, the Democratic nominee for attorney general.

Aspects of the Sink strategy were on display when they brought out Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, a Cuban-American Republican who is backing Sink, to respond to three Republican members of Congress endorsing Scott on Monday.

"As a Republican I have been very proud of our elected Washington officials; in fact, I consider them my friends," said Regalado. "However, given the critical state of our public education, I am disappointed by their support of Rick Scott. As elected officials, we need to look beyond party lines and do what is best for Florida and its future. We need to choose a governor based on what is best for our schools and for the revitalization of our economy. Rick Scott's plan will devastate our public education, and therefore supporting him puts the future of Florida's children at risk.

While Scott defeated Attorney General Bill McCollum in the primary, he did not do well in South Florida. For example, in Miami-Dade, McCollum won 61.3 percent of the vote while Scott took 32.5 percent. McCollum also beat Scott in Broward County by 5 percent. Sink is looking to hit Scott where he is the most vulnerable -- in voter-rich South Florida.

While McCollum had most of the backing of the GOP establishment in the Republican primary, he has not endorsed Scott to this point.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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