Gov. race in full force with attack ads

Scott, Crist supporters trade barbs in TV ads as primary approaches

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One sure sign that the race for Florida Governor is officially heating up: negative attack ads are packing the airwaves.

Those ads go both ways, taking aim at current Gov. Rick Scott and his most likely challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

As backers of Scott and Crist pummel televisions with negative shots at the two candidates, it might be hard to know whether to vote for anyone in the gubernatorial race.

News4Jax political analyst Jennifer Carroll offered insight Tuesday on why the negativity is picking up steam.

"This is just the beginning, unfortunately," Carroll said. "Every election cycle we hear that we don't like negative ads. But the voters respond to those negative ads, whether they vote for them or not."

Carroll, who served as Lieutenant Governor under Scott, said now is about the time voters can expect the negative ads to pick up, particularly with the Florida primaries next week. Crist has not locked up the Democratic nomination, and Scott supporters hope to take advantage.

"There's an opportunity for the Republicans to oust Charlie Crist to get his opponent in a democratic primary as the one to ascend," Carroll said. "That's very possible, because you still have a primary."

In one ad, viewers see a deposition of Scott from years ago when he ran a large hospital chain. The ad says Scott pleaded the Fifth Amendment 75 times. In another ad, viewers see accusations that Crist is tied to a Ponzi schemer. One ad even says Crist is for sale.

Carroll said for voters it's important to take these accusations with a grain of salt and know that with the right editing you can make the ad say whatever the person who made it wants.

"It kind of skirts the real context of what the person is saying, which is unfortunate for the voters," Carroll said. "Because you get part of the information and a critical part is needed to discern whether it is factual or full context is not given."

A new poll out by the Florida Chamber of Ccommerce shows Scott is leading Crist by six points. Carroll said she doesn't put much stock in that or any early poll, saying they're usually designed to make one candidate look better than the other -- based on who's polling.

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