Gambling mogul and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson has spent $2.5 million to oppose Florida’s medical marijuana ballot initiative, according to filings reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times. The major donation signals what may be the most moneyed opposition to a medical marijuana initiative yet. It also comes from a particularly unlikely source.What exactly is going on here? Probably not pot. Looks like he's worried that a medicinal marijuana ballot initiative may pull in support for Democrat Charlie Crist in the state's tight gubernatorial contest against Republican incumbent Rick Scott. But if that's the case, then it's an odd tactic.
Adelson spent nearly $150 million to elect Republicans in 2012, but he has veered away from targeting cultural issues. He made his billions on gambling — considered a vice by most — and describes himself as “socially very liberal. Too liberal” — a refrain he has repeated over the years.
For one, the pot initiative has huge support. PPP:
-Florida's medical marijuana amendment that will be on the ballot this fall continues to appear headed for easy passage, with 66% of voters saying they support it to just 25% who are opposed. Those numbers are almost identical to 65/23 when we last polled on it in January, indicating the proposal is not losing any steam. Democrats and independents are overwhelmingly in support of it, and even Republicans narrowly favor it 44/42.And that poll is pessimistic. Quinnipiac found support at 82 percent.
So it's hard to see how jumping on this doomed effort helps Adelson help Scott. Sure, the governor's race is tied by all accounts, and will be decided by inches, but there isn't direct correlation between supporters of the initiative and partisan preference. Democrats who support the initiative won't change their minds and decide to vote Scott, and even Republican supporters of the initiative aren't likely to vote Crist.
And it's not like those ads will suppress the pro-pot vote, keeping potential Crist supporters from the polls. At best, they'll take some of that 42 percent of Republicans who support the initiative and flip it to the "anti" side. And if so, big deal. It has little bearing on the initiative's ultimate result.