Former health care businessman Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida find themselves on the same side tonight, whether they like it or not.
Scott has edged out Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in one of the ugliest races in the country. During the course of it, Scott took out a full-page newspaper ad suggesting McCollum knew more than he let on about former chairman Jim Greer's corrupt handling a of party funds, a scandal that has plagued Florida Republicans since January. Current RPOF Chairman John Thrasher accused Scott of "orchestrat[ing] a multifaceted campaign of misinformation to mislead Florida voters and confuse the facts," and Scott accused Thrasher of being "biased" and continuing Greer's tradition of questionable party rule. During the course of this, the suggestion was raised that RPOF had tapped its funds dry attempting to help McCollum.
But the RPOF says it will support Scott as the party's nominee despite all the animosity that's built up during the campaign.
"It's too important," RPOF spokeswoman Katie Gordon Betta said on election night, before multiple news outlets called the race for Scott as he led McCollum by over 40,300 votes (over three percentage points) with more than 92% of precincts reporting.
"We're going to rally around our nominee," Betta said.
RPOF has a "working relationship with every other [Republican] campaign" in the state other than Scott's, Betta said, acknowledging that Greer's tenure is a sore subject for Florida Republicans. Scott used some of the same talking points about Greer Democrats have employed to try to mislead voters, Betta said.
Scott has run his campaign as if he doesn't need the party's help: he has reportedly spent over $38 million of his own money on the campaign so far.