Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When Opportunists Knock

Bill McCollum, Florida’s attorney general and (ahem) Republican candidate for governor, joined a bunch of other mostly Republican attorneys general in filing suit against the healthcare bill even before the echo of Joe Biden’s f-bomb faded from the signing ceremony.

”We simply cannot afford to do the things in this bill that we’re mandated to do,” McCollum, a Republican candidate for governor, said in a packed news conference in Tallahassee, hours after making his pitch on Fox News.

Normally, that sort of media exposure is campaign gold. This year, the electorate is tough to gauge, pollsters say.

Though most polls show more Americans opposed the healthcare bill than supported it, recent surveys suggest that people are warming up to it. Gallup, one of the nation’s leading polling firms, reported Tuesday that 49 percent of those surveyed now support the bill’s passage, while 40 percent opposed it.

With such swings in sentiment, pollsters and political strategists are split over whether McCollum’s court fight is a vote-getter — or a risk to his gubernatorial campaign if more Floridians start supporting the law. The new law calls for $250 subsidies for some needy seniors, some small-business tax credits and more insurance coverage for children with preexisting conditions.

So if Mr. McCollum has a better idea on how to provide for Floridians without health insurance, let’s hear them:

Asked what he has done to help reduce the ranks of the uninsured or improve healthcare quality, McCollum said ”that’s not my job to do as attorney general.” But, he said, he has ”advocated” good public policy.

McCollum said his job is to protect citizens from laws like the health reform bill. McCollum noted that one state attorney general who has joined the lawsuit, James ”Buddy” Caldwell of Louisiana, is a Democrat.

”This is not a partisan issue in terms of the constitutionality of this law,” McCollum said. ”It’s a question [about] the rights and freedoms of the individual citizens in upholding our constitutional duties.”

Oh. So it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he’s running for governor in the same party — and trying to attract the same audience — as the teabagger fav Marco Rubio who now has a two-to-one lead over Gov. Charlie Crist. Well, if Mr. McCollum doesn’t make it to the governor’s office, he can have a very nice career as a weathervane. He’s already proven to be a master at being a political opportunist.

Sidebar: See what happens when a state attorney general joins the lawsuit without telling the governor of the state.