Will lobbyists start hedging their bets in governor’s race?

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Lobbyists may be small in numbers, but in Florida’s gubernatorial race, they could make all the difference in fundraising.

A top lobbying firm will raise $2 to $4 million in the election cycle.  In a race where Charlie Crist may raise $30-$50 million, the help of just a few lobbying firms can make a big difference.

Conventional wisdom is that lobbyists will wait until after Gov. Rick Scott finishes the budget veto process before risking anything to antagonize the administration.

Those vetoes will occur this week, maybe even today.

Many lobbyists also carefully monitor poll numbers before making decisions. Luckily for Governor Scott, he closed a polling gap at almost exactly the same time the advantage he held over lobbyists evaporated, signaled by the end of the veto period.

So now, a situation exists where it is far riskier for lobbyists to jump behind Crist.

Vetoes and poll numbers aside, support for Crist in the Tallahassee lobbying trade would be limited, at best.

A few businesses will never give to Crist, regardless of his lead in the polls — most notably, insurance companies and public utilities. Over time, both of those industries have been the target of Crist’s enmity; it resulted in such a deep-seated history of bad blood, the big money players will not help Crist under any scenario.

However, rumors abound of a few lobbyists already helping Crist behind the scenes, introducing him to big business types and funneling money to Crist’s campaign—albeit indirectly.

The actions of this handful of rogue lobbyists are done with full knowledge that if outed, retribution from Team Scott will be swift and harsh, holding them up as a cautionary tale to the rest of the rest of the lobbying corps.

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.