Bill McCollum and his wife were present at FBC Jax for the a.m. worship service sitting next to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and a whole team of Republican politicians. McCollum has been in an absolutely nasty, no-holds-barred campaign against his opponent Rick Scott for the Republican governorship nomination.
Why was McCollum sitting next to Huckabee in the service? Earlier in the week Huckabee endorsed McCollum for governor, announcing their intent to visit the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville during their last minute campaign swing before Tuesday's election.
In a clever, roundabout way, McCollum was presented by FBC Jax as the conservative choice for governor. Huckabee sits next to him, and Huckabee comes to the platform to a standing ovation.
The St. Petetersburg Times blog called the church service a "Tallahassee quorum", with politicians Mike Haridopolus, John Thrasher, Steven Wise (FBC Jax member), Adam Hasner, Leonard Bembry, and Holly Benson all present and accounted for. Most, if not all of these, were supporters of McCollum for governor. As is customary Jim Whitmire graciously introduced each one (see the video at end of this post) and had them stand and wave to the crowd after which Whitmire reminded the congregation of their responsibility to pray for their elected leaders.
Maybe this is in part why Scott won Tuesday. McCollum, a career politician and current Attorney General, was the choice of almost all Tallahassee insiders and in this political season the people preferred an outsider not connected with all the career politicians. Not saying this is right, but that seems to be the case. The "Tallahassee quorum" at FBC Jax Sunday perhaps didn't help.
When Mac got up to preach, he first called Mike Huckabee to the stage. While they didn't mention McCollum, the connection was apparent when the church saw the two sitting together when announced by Whitmire. Mac told the story again of how Huckabee had been a blessing back in Dallas during a difficult time. As reported by the St. Pete Times:
"The 2012 White House hopeful received a whooping (for church) standing ovation and pastor Mac Brunson, a person [sic] friend, brought him to the stage to share a few words. (By contrast, McCollum received just polite applause when he was introduced.) In his brief remarks, Huckabee didn't mention McCollum but the connection likely stuck."While Huckabee didn't mention McCollum, Mike took the mike and instead gave the Brunsons a ringing endorsement of their Christian character. He said when he met them he "fell in love with them", and "they are some of the most authentic, most genuine Christian examples I've ever known in my life." Now THAT, is a strong endorsement from the Huckster. But I just wonder - are the Huckabees and Brunsons that close of friends where Huckabee knows them that well to give such an endorsement? Seems odd to me, unless they are very close friends. Huckabee added that the "platform team" of Brunson and Whitmire is the best in the country. Mac then gave a nice little endorsement of Huckabee's TV show. I thought next they both might plug each other's latest book - or hand out brochures on each other's respective 2011 Holy Land trips ("Walk Where Jesus Walked", while walking with Mac or Huck; sign up here, Master Card and Visa accepted: Mac's Holy Land Trip and Huck's Holy Land Trip).
Ironically, in that evening's service, Mac did give an explanation to his congregation of why he "tolerates" such brazen political displays in the church:
"Now thank the Lord I don't think we have any politicians [here] tonight....I so badly want them to experience and encounter Jesus Christ that I tolerate what we do, if they'll stay here and listen to me preach - with the prayer, that maybe, MAYBE, the word of God will penetrate somewhere."Interesting comment. Just as he tolerates politicians, probably the politicians at City Hall tolerate the preacher's invocations in their chambers, with the hope that he'll stay and be genuinely concerned about the city's needs instead of vacation excursions and church building renovations. And Mac would probably agree that his Bible sermons don't penetrate very far into the thick skin of politicians. After he preached on unwholesome speech and false attacks Sunday, McCollum continued his bashing of Scott over his company's Medicare fraud case and spending his fortune on political commercials. But Mac's sermon on lying in July didn't penetrate very far into Scott either when he heard it, as he continued the misleading ads including a last-minute ad linking McCollum to a corrupt politician, even putting a phony "mug shot" of McCollum matching the original mug shot of the politician.
But as I said, McCollum lost despite Huckabee's endorsement and their last minute campaign swing through conservative northeast Florida. And if you think this campaign was ugly, wait until Democratic candidate Alex Sink starts going after Rick Scott in the general election - this will be very, very ugly, and I predict a Democratic Florida gubernatorial victory in November.
Here is the video of Whitmire's introductions, followed by the Mike and Mac exchange on the platform.
Mac Loves Mike, Mike Loves Mac from FBCJax Watchdog on Vimeo.