Perhaps the most inexplicable candidate of them all

PERHAPS THE MOST INEXPLICABLE CANDIDATE OF THEM ALL…. I’m occasionally amazed at who’s willing to run for public office. Rob Portman is running for the Senate in Ohio, despite his work as the head of the Bush/Cheney budget office. Dan Coats is running for the Senate in Indiana, despite having been a corporate bank lobbyist in D.C. for the last several years. Tim Griffin is running for a House seat in Arkansas, despite his controversial work for Karl Rove and role in the U.S. Attorney scandal.

And while all of these candidacies strike me as inherently odd, arguably the most inexplicable of them all is Rick Scott’s gubernatorial campaign in Florida.

The former hospital mogul behind early astroturfing efforts to oppose Democratic health care reform efforts at town halls is hoping to become Florida’s next governor.

Millionaire businessman Rick Scott, the founder of Conservatives For Patients’ Rights, launched his bid today for the Republican gubernatorial nomination promising to “to lead the state in a new, conservative direction and into a prosperous future.”

Florida already has a very competitive GOP gubernatorial candidate — state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who’s actually leading in most polls — but Scott believes he’s not right-wing enough. And he has until August’s primary to test the proposition.

But the oddity here is why Rick Scott would seek public office in the first place. He is, after all, perhaps best known as the former head of the Columbia/HCA health-care company that got caught up in a massive fraud scandal in the 1990s. Scott’s firm later pleaded guilty to charges that it overbilled state and federal health plans, and agreed to pay $1.7 billion in fines, a record penalty for a health care company. The fines covered fraud perpetrated under Scott’s watch, and he was forced out of his job as a result of the scandal.

More recently, Scott used his personal fortune to hire the Swiftboat liars’ p.r. firm, and proceeded to launch a breathtakingly deceptive right-wing ad campaign in opposition to health care reform.

And now he wants to be Florida’s chief executive.

What a strange development.