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Florida governor's race: Why is GOP sending well-heeled Rick Scott $2 million?

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Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/AP

(Read caption) Florida governor's race: Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, right, and his wife Ann respond to cheering supporters at a unity rally at the Marks Street Senior Center in Orlando, Florida, Aug. 30.

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Rick Scott is one of the richest candidates running in the 2010 elections. The former health-care executive spent $50 million of his own money in winning the Republican nomination for the Florida gubernatorial race. He paid for so many 30-second ads that if one station broadcast them end to end it would have taken 25 days to see them all, according to one media analysis group.

So why is the Republican Governors Association (RGA) sending his campaign $2 million in precious GOP campaign funds? Isn’t that a little bit like giving Bill Gates $10 for lunch?

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One word: unity. Mr. Scott’s primary struggle with state Attorney General Bill McCollum was bitter. At one point, RGA leaders asked Scott to pull ads linking Mr. McCollum to indicted former state Republican chairman Jim Greer; Scott refused, and complained that “Washington insiders” were rallying to his opponent.

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Now the RGA wants to show the world that bygones are bygones (even if McCollum still seems a little, um, peeved). RGA head Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour popped down to Florida to campaign with Scott this week. And those “Washington insiders” are sending along cash to help pay for ads attacking Democratic nominee Alex Sink.

After all, Florida Dems were pretty happy about how much Scott and McCollum scrapped leading up to the primary. Right now, a compilation of polls has Ms. Sink with a slight lead.

In the weeks to come, Scott will probably remain a fixture on Florida screens.

“Scott has got to pummel Sink relentlessly, counting on the GOP tilt of this year, while Sink is going to have to depict Scott in much the way McCollum and the Republican establishment did – as someone who is sleazy and trying to buy an election,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.