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Bronson Officially Endorses McCollum for Governor

Weeks after scuttling aspirations of his own, Florida Agriculture Commission Charlie Bronson on Tuesday threw his support behind fellow Republican Bill McCollum to become the state’s next governor.

Bronson, who weeks ago defended the primary process as a necessary component of any gubernatorial race, said his desire to launch a vigorous primary bid was outweighed by the party’s needs as it prepares for a battle in tough economic times with Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the expected Democratic candidate.

“I think Bill has shown in his past experience in politics as well as his current position as attorney general that he is dedicated to his work,” Bronson said. “He’s been a strong advocate for children and to protect the public and the consumers of this state from people who would do them harm.”

McCollum said the popular agriculture commissioner and party insider would be an active member of the campaign as McCollum tries to replace Gov. Charlie Crist, who set the wheels in motion by announcing he would not seek re-election but would seek the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez.

“He’s going to campaign for me as much as I can get him out there,” McCollum said. “There are a lot of places he goes and can go and people he can see and people who he can talk to that respect him highly and who can be very beneficial to the cause we both share.”

McCollum also said Bronson would be on any shortlist to become lieutenant governor – though Bronson hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for that.

In May, Bronson said he had been interested in running for governor, but wasn’t going to because there might not be enough political money to go around as the party seeks to hold on to a U.S. Senate seat, the governor’s mansion and couple of Cabinet seats. He has yet to publicly endorse Crist saying he’s been focusing his attentions on how to get Florida’s economy back on track.

“I’m more concerned about that issue than I am right now on the U.S. Senate race which I think will kind of work itself out during the process,” Bronson said. “I’m here today to support Bill McCollum for governor.”

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and former Sen. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, have been named as possible Republican contenders, an inner party contest Bronson said would be ill-advised as the GOP faces a full slate of statewide races.

“The primary process is a great process, but you have to take everything into account,” Bronson said. “Is there going to be money to run a very strong primary with three or four people and then at the end have to run against someone who is going to have all the money in the world?”

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