It’s not that Rick Scott is spending so much money, it’s why he’s spending it now…

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The all-of-a-sudden-pugnacious Kevin Cate — communications consultant to Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign — emailed reporters today attempting to make the case about how the Crist campaign is “leaner,” than Rick Scott’s operation because of the high burn rate of the millions of dollars raised by Scottworld.

By our accounting and published reports, by the end of session, Rick Scott will have hemorrhaged about $20 million to artificially boost his horrible poll numbers,” writes Cate.

Continues Cate, “To match his extravagant spending from 2010, Rick Scott needs to raise way, way more than the $100 million his campaign has boasted about. In fact, to match what Scott spent from May through Election Day in 2010, he’d have to spend another $91 million on top of the $20 million he’s already thrown away. And that money won’t go nearly as far, since he has a much bigger campaign bureaucracy to fund.”

While it’s welcome news to see Cate doing his best impression of Erin Isaac, the former press secretary for then-Governor Crist known for her fierce defense of her principal, his email doesn’t fully encapsulate the real issue with Scott’s spending.

It doesn’t matter that Scottworld has spent so much money this early in the race because it has accomplished what it set out to do: the race is closer today than it was on the day before Crist formally announced his campaign. 

I think the way to look at this race is that Scott has spent ONLY $20 million and he’s within the margin of error with Crist. Honestly, I would have thought this would’ve cost Scott twice what he has spent so far.

Think about it this way, what is Scott’s campaign shifts from fourth gear to fifth? What if it decides to do to Crist what Barack Obama did to Mitt Romney in 2012 and further define him before he starts spending money? Why would anyone think that Scott isn’t going to spend another $20 to $30 million between now and July 4 hammering Crist?

What Cate should be pointing out to reporters is why Scott is spending so much money now. It’s a Rube Goldbergian plan to juke the stats. I call it the “Afterburner Plan.”

As any one who has ever watched “Top Gun” knows, a fighter jet can turn on its afterburners for a few moment to go really, really fast. But it can’t maintain this speed for long, lest it run out of fuel.

The fighter jet that is Scott’s campaign has turned on its afterburners to catch up with Crist in the polls. By doing so it has generated significant earned media about how the race is tightening. Reading that media are the top donors and lobbyists who at the beginning of the 2014 Legislative Session who were anonymously, but openly talking about beginning to donate to Crist once the veto period ended.

But Scott’s afterburner surge has put a stop to much of this talk. Folks who were talking in March about hedging their bets and funneling donations to Crist are now wringing their hands about how close the race is.

That’s the true goal of Scott’s activities these last six weeks. He’s trying to keep his financial base in line.

And you can’t put too high a price tag on that.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.