During his successful campaign to win the GOP nomination for governor, Rick Scott ran TV spots that painted Bill McCollum as liberal. I remember laughing out loud because McCollum is about as liberal as, well, nobody. The laugh was on me and everybody else who believed the strategy of labels wouldn't work.
I mention this because when the next election comes around, I wonder how Team Scott will deal with the liberal guy who now lives in the governor's mansion. It should be easy pickings to exploit someone who was against early voting but now is for it, or who slashed education budgets but now wants to build them up.
It's almost as if Scott decided the best way to beat Charlie Crist in 2014 is to be Charlie Crist. If one position doesn't work, change your mind. The strategy might actually work.
I know what the polls say, especially in Scott's standing with women. Even with all that, I am not as dismissive of his re-election chances as many. It's clear somebody got in the governor's ear and told him, "Um, sir? Your approval ratings are roughly that of toxic waste. We need to change some things."
Even more amazingly, Scott appears to have listened. There is plenty of time between now and 2014 to point out everything he did wrong, but it also should be noted he has been doing a few things right.
Look, I'm glad Scott realized the $1.3 billion cut to the state's education budget he championed in his first year was too much. Restoring $1 billion to schools, which Scott pushed for, doesn't win him the title of "education governor," but it was better than being stubborn.
And this week he moved to adopt election reforms demanded by Democrats!
Of course, by restoring the early voting period to 14 days with other election changes, Scott was trying to fix a problem he helped create with the restrictions he pushed through for 2012. Maybe people will have forgotten that by 2014.
Or maybe not.
"Governor Rick Scott continues to lead from behind, breaking our elections system in 2011 and making our state a national embarrassment in 2012," Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said in a statement.
"Heading into an election year, Scott is attempting to distance himself from his actions, which have hurt Florida voters and underscored that he simply can't be trusted. Floridians will see through this election year lip service."
Who is this guy?
You can already see the spin, too. House Speaker Will Weatherford, via Twitter, praised Scott "for his leadership on improving FL's election system. We'll look closely at his proposal."
Never mind that the leadership and improvements are necessary because, well, you know why.
A lot can happen between now and 2014. The economy could improve, enabling Scott to brag about jobs he created. If Bill McCollum can be painted as a liberal, think what the GOP can do with Charlie Crist. Then again, think what a Democratic challenger can do to Scott. You know what this state thinks of those liberals.