As ThinkProgress previously reported, five GOP officials who joined the completely merit-less lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act ran for governor this year. With Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum’s defeat at the hands of corrupt former hospital CEO Rick Scott last night, all but one of these five officials have lost their Republican primary:
This March, two attorneys general took the lead in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the health care overhaul: South Carolina’s Henry McMaster and Florida’s Bill McCollum. Another, Michigan’s Mike Cox, soon signed on.
The lawsuits made them national leaders on the central national issue, and seemed tailor-made for Republican primaries. But all three lost those primaries, as CNN’s Peter Hamby noted of the first two last night.
McMaster lost to Nikki Haley, whose reform message trumped his series of ads touting his health care fight. Cox, who also put his health care suit on air, lost to a wealthy businessman who ran on a non-ideological platform under the slogan, “one tough nerd.” McCollum lost to Rick Scott, and there the message may not be as clear — Scott was also a leading national foe of the health care bill.
In addition to these three losing attorneys general, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, who muscled his way into the health care litigation against his state AG’s objection, also lost his primary seeking another term as governor. Only Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett (R), who ran virtually unopposed for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, survived the voter’s scrutiny.
Of course, it’s hard to be sure just what message primary voters intended to send by choosing Scott over McCollum. Last May, 54 percent of Florida voters said that McCollum’s lawsuit was a “bad idea.” But it’s also quite possible that Florida Republicans were inspired by Scott’s decision to spend a portion of his vast personal fortune in a failed attempt to block the Affordable Care Act. It’s also possible that McCollum’s bitter confession speech, which claims that voters were bamboozed by Scott’s massive campaign spending, accurately explains his loss:
“The votes today have been tallied and I accept the voters’ decision,’’ McCollum said. “This race was one for the ages. No one could have anticipated the entrance of a multimillionaire with a questionable past who shattered campaign spending records and spent more in four months than has ever been spent in a primary race here in Florida.
One thing that is crystal clear, however, is that wasting taxpayer dollars on a frivolous lawsuit is never a good way to appeal to voters. Every single health care plaintiff in a contested primary for governor lost their election — hopefully this will inspire future candidates to abandon their counterproductive opposition to health reform.