Businessman Rick Scott, who gained notoriety during the health care debate for spending millions of dollars on ads fighting Obamacare, has launched a bid to be governor of Florida.
Scott, whose group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights blanketed the airwaves in opposition to the Democrats’ health care push, will be challenging the state’s Attorney General, Bill McCollum, in the Republican primary. While he enters the race with low name recognition, Scott will be able to spend millions of his own money to get his message out.
As his website indicates, Scott will try to run as a “conservative outsider” and focus on his background as an entrepreneur. He founded the Columbia Hospital Corp. (later merged with HCA) and, more recently, Solantic – a chain of low cost urgent care walk in clinics in Florida.
Yet his business record is also likely to draw fire. Scott was pushed out from Columbia/HCA in 1997 in the midst of a fraud investigation that led to a $1.7 billion settlement on charges that the company overbilled state and federal health care programs. While he was never charged with any wrongdoing himself, Scott was the head of the company – and thus the situation will garner more scrutiny now that he’s a political candidate.
Judging by his website’s issues section, Scott is looking to run as a full-spectrum conservative, though most of his views (beyond health care policy) will require fleshing out.
UPDATE: A campaign spokesman tells me that Scott will be on the airwaves Thursday with a $1.5 million ad buy statewide. To put that in context, McCollum raised less than $1.4 million in the first three months of the year and Democratic candidate Alex Sink raised $1.1 million during the same period.