Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has lost his bid to be the GOP's nominee for governor, the AP reported. Republicans instead elected to give newcomer Naples businessman Rick Scott a try.

The defeat ends 24 years of public service for McCollum.

The 66-year-old politician made headlines in May when ex-gay leader George Rekers of North Miami was exposed by the Miami New Times as having hired a male prostitute off the pageviews of gay website RentBoy.com.

As attorney general, McCollum defended Florida's outright ban on gay adoption and personally urged the state to hire Rekers to testify as an expert witness. Rekers was paid $120,000 for his testimony.

In the waning days of the campaign, Scott turned the Rekers scandal to his advantage. In a flyer paid for by Scott's committee Let's Get to Work, he attacks McCollum for hiring Rekers.

“Bill McCollum wasted our money and showed poor judgment,” the flyer says.

While admitting that Rekers was a poor choice in hindsight, McCollum has denied that the scandal has compromised the state's case, which is currently on appeal after a district judge struck down the law.

“And it's unfortunate that all this publicity has come up over it, but the lawsuit, I think, is on sound ground and we're carrying it forward,” he told the Florida Baptist Press.

McCollum has publicly stated his opposition to all gay parenting.

“I really do not think that we should have homosexuals guiding our children,” he said. “I think that it's a lifestyle that I don't agree with.”

Gay adoption has also leaked into the campaigns of other high-profile races.

Sharron Angle, the GOP nominee challenging Nevada Senator Harry Reid, said last week that she opposes protections based on sexual orientation and gay adoption.

Karen Handel, a Republican running for governor of Georgia, recently said she would sign a bill that bans gay and lesbian couples from adopting children.