It's the rich and the not-so-rich in the Democratic and Republican party primaries to be Florida's next U.S. senator and governor.
One way Kendrick Meek is countering billionaire Jeff Greene for the Democratic vote in Tuesday's U.S. Senate primary is by kicking it back old school -- asking people to put up campaign signs on their lawns.
Greene's advertising budget dwarfs Meek's more modest ledger, The Miami Herald reported. Ditto for the two Republican gubernatorial candidates, with Naples corporate executive Rick Scott swamping Attorney General Bill McCollum on the airwaves.
"At some point in a campaign, it isn't all about television," said McCollum, who argued that endorsements and volunteers mean more to voters than a bombardment of 30-second ads. "It's about people talking to each other."
A recent Quinnipiac University survey indicated Meek leads Greene among likely voters, 35 percent to 28 percent, reversing a 10 percentage point lead Greene held last month.
Then there's the wild card, Gov. Charlie Crist, who abandoned the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. He's been battered by the left and right over his leadership, particularly his enthusiastic acceptance of federal stimulus money and joint appearances with President Barack Obama at groundbreaking ceremonies. Crist didn't follow other Republican governors who blasted -- but still accepted -- the funding designed to save jobs while improving the nation's infrastructure, business and economy.
After generating buzz for leaving the GOP, Crist's political legs have gotten rubbery against potential nominees from the Democratic and Republican parties. A recent poll commissioned by The Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times and two cable news channels shows Crist capturing at least 32 percent of the vote in November against likely Republican nominee Marco Rubio and either Democratic candidate but within the margin of error.
The same poll indicated that nearly a third of Democrats haven't made up their minds between Greene and Meek.
Riding a late TV ad blitz of his own in the home stretch and touting former Gov. Jeb Bush's endorsement, McCollum pulled into a statistical tie with rival Scott in the Republican gubernatorial race, a Sunshine State News Poll indicated.
McCollum trails Scott 44 percent to 42 percent in the poll conducted in mid-August after trailing by 16 percentage points a month before.
"McCollum's growth is largely due to a surge in support with both senior citizens and voters in North and Central Florida," pollster Jim Lee said.
The winner is expected to face off against Democrat Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, and third-party candidate Lawton "Bud" Chiles III.
Before the latest Sunshine State poll was released, McCollum spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said Floridians are learning more about Scott and accusations of possible criminal activity at Solantic, Scott's chain of walk-in clinics.
"It's a question of credibility and integrity going into the election," Campbell said.
Scott spokesman Joe Kildea said the campaign knew the race would tighten, but said McCollum, despite backing from the GOP establishment, "still hasn't been able to overcome his record as a career politician of raising taxes, abusing the state airplane, raising his pay and covering up for his political mentor, Jim Greer," the former state GOP chairman who faces six felony charges, including organized fraud and money laundering.
McCollum returned $1,000 in March before the party and state authorities revealed the Greer investigation.
Greer's name popped up in a negative way in Crist's senatorial bid, the Herald reported.
Crist's campaign said it was refunding nearly $10,000 to Greer after the indicted former Republican Party chairman asked for the money for his defense.
However, the Sunshine poll indicates Crist is ahead in his stomping ground of Tampa Bay and on Rubio's turf in South Florida. Moreover, Crist is ahead of Rubio, the first Cuban-American state House speaker, among Hispanic voters.
"Rubio is to the right of the center of the Republican party so that may be a slightly alienating factor for more moderate Republicans," pollster Julia Clark said.