National News

Republican candidates for governor rush to the right

Posted March 25, 2018 6:06 p.m. EDT

Oh, that mischievous Richard Corcoran. Such a big tease.

The outgoing speaker of the Florida House has scheduled an event on April 16 to reveal once and for all his future political plans.

What will he say? Pins and needles. Pins and needles. The mystery of it all.

Conventional wisdom suggests Corcoran will officially kick off his campaign to succeed Rick Scott as governor. The Land O'Lakes Republican could always shock everyone by seizing the moment to announce he intends to become a street mime. Or perhaps move to Idaho. But we'll have to endure the long wait.

Corcoran has loomed over the Florida political landscape as the all-powerful Big Daddy of Tallahassee. But with the end of this year's legislative session, the speaker's juice has sprung a gaping leak. Now he's just another hustling Sammy Glick politician on the make looking for a job.

If Corcoran leaps into the governor's race (duh!), he will face some daunting obstacles, not the least of which is himself.

But there are also his opponents in the Republican primary field, starting with U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, President Donald Trump's personal beefcake boy, who has spent so much time on the tube he practically qualifies for a homestead exemption on Fox & Friends.

And then there is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has positioned himself as a proud "NRA sellout." That's one way to wrap up the lemming vote.

You can't deny all this fawning hasn't paid off. Putnam has taken in some $20 million in his bid to become the National Rifle Association's hand-picked pawn in Tallahassee.

Meanwhile, Corcoran's legal slush fund, Watchdog PAC, has collected some $6 million. That's not exactly chump change, except Corcoran already has blown through nearly half his war chest, most of it going to hysteria-filled commercials to boost his bigoted, Islamophobic, fear-mongering bona fides.

By now you have probably been exposed to one fulminating Corcoran ad decrying nonexistent sanctuary cities in Florida. The spot featured a young, attractive white woman being gunned down in a suburban neighborhood by a swarthy illegal immigrant, who could be Pablo Escobar or Osama bin Laden.

More recently, Corcoran has aired another commercial featuring more dark-skinned prison inmates, described as illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes like rape and murder who are costing taxpayers millions for their incarceration when they ought to be deported.

While DeSantis is showing up on Fox News more often than ads to buy gold and silver and Putnam is only a click away of showing up as Rambo's love child, all is not lost for Corcoran and his "A Brigand Behind Every Shrubbery! We're All Doomed!" campaign.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll revealed all three of these chaps are about as well known in Florida as the lieutenant governor, whoever that is. Some 86 percent of the voters have no clue about Corcoran despite all the millions spent on commercials trying to make people think El Chapo is about to move in next door. Meanwhile, 75 percent had no opinion about Putnam, even though he has run successfully for statewide office twice, and 83 percent had no opinion about DeSantis, which might suggest he will be moving a sleeping bag into the Sean Hannity show green room.

So obviously the game between Corcoran, Putnam and DeSantis is to see who can out-crazy the others before the Aug. 28 primary.

Would anyone be all that surprised if Corcoran launches a desperate string of commercials warning that alien body-snatchers are in our midst?

For Putnam, the challenge appears to be informing voters that he is also a "proud" sellout to sugar interests, developers, oil and gas companies, bankers and a special interest to be named later.

And by the time Aug. 28 rolls around, DeSantis probably will be volunteering to give Fox's Tucker Carlson a pedicure in prime time.

Corcoran may be on to something. Maybe we really are doomed.