State Sen. and Republican Party of Florida Chairman John Thrasher will meet with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott today in Fort Lauderdale to go over campaign strategy, party officials say. The meeting will also be an opportunity for Thrasher and Scott to mend their relationship after a heated primary in which the RPOF was perceived as supporting Scott’s Republican rival Bill McCollum. Scott won 46 percent of the vote Tuesday night, eking out a victory over McCollum.
Thrasher and Scott will discuss “how the party can work with the campaign” on issues like getting out the vote, says RPOF spokeswoman Katie Betta. During the campaign, the Republican Party establishment-backed McCollum, including former Gov. Jeb Bush, incoming state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, and incoming state House Speaker Dean Cannon. The RPOF and the McCollum campaign headquarters even shared the same Tallahassee address. In July Thrasher famously castigated Scott for impugning the entire Republican Party in a campaign ad meant to paint McCollum as a career politician linked to indicted former RPOF Chairman Jim Greer.
Republican officials around the state are trying to repair relations with Scott, whose past as a CEO of a hospital chain that pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud was perceived as an undesirable liability in the general election. But Scott, a millionaire who has never held public office before, used his own money to fund a massive ad campaign and prevailed on his outsider status.
Now the party is obligated to back Scott’s run against Democrat Alex Sink in the general election. Republican Governor’s Association Chair Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, issued a statement urging Republicans to unite behind their candidate. Barbour issued a statement saying he talked with Scott and has offered the full support of the RGA. “The voters of Florida took a close look at Rick Scott and believe he is the candidate who can best revive the state’s economy and put Florida back to work,” Barbour wrote.