Now I admit that since Sink married to a guy who graduated high school from my alma mater, I have somewhat of a bias. But several other matters give her a serious front-runner edge. Most obviously, Sink has run and won statewide, and is the only Democrat on a statewide ballot this year to have done so. She has also been running for a little over a year, and raised about $6.2 million as of the end of March. And while self-financing candidates can shake up a race, I am not sure Bud Chiles has millions stuffed in the couch cushions that could be risked on a vanity run.
I won't sell Chiles short though, or discount Sink's negatives.
On the plus for Chiles is his name. His father Lawton Chiles ran two successful campaigns for governor and served in the U.S. Senate for 20 years. Between 1970 and 1998, he was a powerhouse in Florida that not even Jen Bush could stop. And when he died in office days before retirement, his legacy became all the more difficult to taint. Bud bears his father's legal name, as well as a nice nickname, which has become a requirement to run a serious campaign for governor in Florida. He has taken on the "Walkin' Lawton" mantel as well, and is leading a walking campaign across Florida for the "Worst to First" education effort. Among other things, that will give him credibility with the teachers' unions, a pivotal voting bloc in Democratic politics here.
As for Sink, it is no secret incumbency has become a bit of a burden. As the state's Chief Financial Officer, she will be held responsible by some for the economic recession and lack of recovery in this state. She has been going after banks recently, but won't erase the fact her private sector background is in banking. Remember, when she ran four years ago it was her time at NationsBank/Bank of America which served as her major selling point. Now that background isn't the best "Tallahassee outsider" resume to pitch.
But if nothing else, maybe having interesting contests for both the Democratic party with a Sink-Chiles fight and the Republicans with a McCollum-Scott battle will get voters to pay attention to something besides the Senate race. That can't hurt anyone.