The Times originally backed [former U.S. Housing Secretary Mel] Martinez in the Republican primary. But that was "before Martinez took his campaign into the gutter with hateful and dishonest attacks on his strongest opponent, former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum," the paper said on its editorial page. "The Times is not willing to be associated with bigotry. As a result, we are taking the almost unprecedented step of rescinding our recommendation of Martinez."Here's the full St. Petersburg Times editorial: McCollum for GOP, which concludes: "McCollum is a better choice for Republicans who care about producing their strongest ticket for November. He also is a better choice for Republicans who care about the soul of their party."
The editorial continued: "No matter what else Martinez may accomplish in public life, his reputation will be forever tainted by his campaign's nasty and ludicrous slurs of McCollum in the final days of this race. The slurs culminated with Martinez campaign advertisements that label McCollum, one of the most conservative moralists in Washington during his 20 years as a U.S. representative, 'the new darling of the homosexual extremists' because he once favored a hate crime law that had bipartisan support."
Meanwhile, in another St. Pete article breaking down the Florida Senate race:
Martinez has been viewed as the White House favorite in the race, a conservative who could win a general election and draw Hispanic voters to support President Bush. His strategy has been to emphasize his ties to the president.Looks like Martinez is taking campaign tips from Bush as well as support (Bush appeared in ads with Martinez).
Let the repudiations begin!