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A Republican Abandons Rick Scott: Paula Dockery and Florida’s Fraying GOP

| September 28, 2013

Paula Dockery will not be supporting Gov. Rick Scott's re-election.

Paula Dockery will not be supporting Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election.

By Cary McMullen

It’s an interesting sign of these confusing political times that general elections tell us as much about political parties as primaries. It used to be that Republicans would gleefully pick off centrist Democrats who were disaffected by their party’s perceived leftward direction. Now it appears that Democrats are returning the favor, capturing centrist Republicans (a relatively small herd, to be sure) who are turned off by the GOP’s lurch to the right.

Cary McMullen

Cary McMullen

Last Friday, former Republican state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland told the Tampa Tiger Bay Club that she would not support Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election. According to a report in The Ledger, “I can’t see a scenario by which I would stand by a Scott administration,’ she said following her talk.”

Dockery has not declared who she would support. She told the Tiger Bay Club that the Democrat she favored most was Alex Sink, the unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial candidate, but Sink announced last week she would not run again. She also said she thinks former Gov. Charlie Crist has the best chance to defeat Scott.

This coy little flirtation with the possible Charmin’ Charlie candidacy drives Florida Republicans into mad-dog frenzies. They regard Crist as right there with Judas in the seventh circle of hell for his defection to the Democrats, and already you can hear the conspiracy theorists whispering that Crist has promised Dockery an appointment in exchange for an endorsement.

context floridaFormer Lakeland City Commissioner Don Gifford posted on the Ledger’s Facebook page, referring to Dockery and her husband, businessman and onetime Jeb Bush supporter “Doc” Dockery, “I am heartbroken. Doc and Paula have been political heroes of mine for years. I feel like the little boy baseball fan whose hero’s (sic) were accused of throwing the world series, ‘say it ain’t so Joe, say it ain’t so.’ ”

But Dockery’s rejection of Scott should not have been a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Dockery had supported Scott in his first election bid and was rumored as a possible running mate, but Scott was a tea party favorite and Dockery had different ideas about governing.

As a senator, she supported commonsense public policies that in another era would have found a broad consensus but got her branded a moderate by the true believers on the right. She parted sharply with Scott over his rejection of federal funds for high-speed rail, a pet project of her husband. Since leaving office, she has criticized Scott and Republican legislative leaders over water quality regulations and their decision to turn down federal funds for expanded Medicaid.

Crist has repeatedly said that he left the Republican Party over similar differences, so it’s no wonder that Dockery has publicly turned her back on Scott.

On Wednesday, Dockery felt compelled to respond in her syndicated column to the fallout from her remarks. She referred to herself as a “lifelong Republican” and observed that the reactions show “the depth of fear and loathing in these partisan battles.” She also speculated that a Republican challenger to Scott might emerge that she could support.

Yeah, probably not gonna happen.

Which brings us back to the point that Democrats now look like a party united compared to the Republicans, some of whom are having trouble finding a home in the general elections.

Cary McMullen is a journalist and editor who lives in Lakeland. Reach him by email here.

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7 Responses for “A Republican Abandons Rick Scott: Paula Dockery and Florida’s Fraying GOP”

  1. Suwannee says:

    Charlie Crist makes me MAD as HELL ! Don’t even mention that traitor’s name down here in Florida again !!

    • Rick Wilson says:

      I’m looking forward to your next post… “Paula Dockery makes me MAD as HELL ! Don’t even mention that traitor’s name down here in Florida again !! ”

      Your post is suspect… “down here in Florida” as if this is some foreign website invading Florida. Bottom line, Crist was a good governor of Florida. I can only assume, from your comment above, that his name makes you “MAD as HELL” not because he was a bad governor, but because he didn’t go bat shiz crazy in 2010.

  2. m&m says:

    It’s a shame our choices for the leader of our state comes down to a turn coat {flip flopper useless Crist} and a guy that avoided prison for stealing from all of us.. Isn’t there someone out there who can fill the bill??

  3. Random Citizen says:

    And the point of the author is? Oh yes, I see the quote, to perpetuate, “the depth of fear and loathing in these partisan battles.”

    There was a time when the differing parties respected each other for perspective.

    Why has American democracy become such a hate-fest?

  4. NortonSmitty says:

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the GOP self destructing here in the Sunshine State. Unless we somehow can resurrect the German National Socialist Nazi Party, The Know-Nothings or Genghis Khan, the Gravy-Sweating Cousin Fuckers will vote the way Pat Robinson tells them God told him to tell them to without hesitation. A Republican could get elected here in a landslide even if he was caught in bed with a dead hooker or a live Cub Scout.

  5. Ben Dover says:

    She had to get out , afraid she`ll get struck by lightning or dragged down to hell if she helped this horror of a human being , hurt more homeless , sick and hungry people , I`m sure being near him makes her skin crawl , he`s evil

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