McCollum Rising In The Polls, Faces Backlash On Arizona Like Immigration Proposal (UPDATED)

Arizona is a major issue in Florida… Bill McCollum, the state’s current Attorney General, took a calculated risk this week is his bid for the Republican nomination for Florida Governor and unveiled his plan for immigration reform, a tough version of the Arizona-style immigration policy. McCollum’s plan requires immigrants to carry legal paperwork or face up to 20 days in jail. The measure would also impose stiffer penalties on illegal immigrants who commit the same crimes as legal residents.

The immigration proposal comes just after a new Mason – Dixon poll showing McCollum leading in the Republican primary race against millionaire Rick Scott. McCollum has 34% support versus Scott’s 30% support. (Some newer polls, have McCollum up by 12 points)

McCollum has enjoyed strong support from Florida’s Hispanic voters. The Mason-Dixon poll shows McCollum with 57% support from Hispanic Republicans, while his opponent, Scott has 27% support from Hispanic Republicans.  Many point to McCollum’s support from Latinos as a major reason he has stayed neck in neck in the polls against millionaire a political newcomer Rick Scott, who is outspending McCollum. Yet, political analysts are wondering how the Attorney General’s new strict immigration proposal will impact his chances in the race and his relationship with Florida’s eclectic Latino electorate.

Many Hispanic Republicans supporters are mad at Team McCollum for not giving them a heads up on the measure or consulting them before the announcement. Team McCollum hastily put together a conference call for his Hispanic Leadership Team to discuss the proposal on Thursday night to address their concerns.

Still many Hispanic Republicans in Florida are divided in their support for an Arizona-style immigration law, and some have left the McCollum campaign.


Ana Navarro, a Republican lobbyist and fundraiser, who was a Senior advisor to the 2008 McCain presidential campaign, said she would no longer support the McCollum campaign. State Representative J.C. Plans has called the McCollum’s immigration proposal “a great economic failure for Florida.”

U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a co-chair of McCollum’s Hispanic leadership team, said she was “disappointed and was blindsided” by McCollum’s proposal, the Miami Herald reports.

In an interview today with Politico, U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart said he was “no fan” of McCollum’s new immigration proposal but still supported his bid for Governor.  “I believe that Bill McCollum is best positioned to lead the state of Florida as governor, and I continue to support his candidacy… However, I disagree with his immigration proposal and do not believe it is the solution to our country’s broken immigration system.”  He also went on to attack President Obama’s lack of leadership on the issue.

The Orlando Sentinel talked to several members of the community supporting and opposing McCollum’s measure – read here.

Here are some of the numbers:


McCollum 34%
Rick Scott 30%


81% of likely Republican primary voters support the Arizona Law.
54% of Hispanic GOP voters support the Arizona Law*
34% of Hispanic GOP voters oppose the law*

(NOTE: dew to the small sample size, support for the law may range 10 points)

ARIZONA LAW – General Public:

55% favor the Arizona law
61% of Independents support the law
62% of Democrats oppose the law

47% of all Hispanic voters favor the law
46% of all Hispanic voters oppose the law

Important lesson to campaigns, don’t forget your coalitions. Creating coalitions and not consulting them when you are about to announce major news that directly impacts them will cause problems, especially when those coalitions have well-respected elected officials.

Florida’s Republican Primary is August 24th… let’s watch what happens.


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