"The battle to succeed outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush suddenly will go from simmering to red hot this Memorial Day weekend, with the holiday marking the unofficial start of Florida's campaign season." "Race to succeed Gov. Bush revs up".
"At first glance, Will McBride, a young immigration lawyer from Orlando, doesn't appear to have the political experience to make him a threat to Harris for the nomination - particularly with such a late start and only 100 days to go before the primary."
But he does have connections to the nation's most powerful conservative political circles, including a wealthy and politically active family and ties to a secretive Washington-based organization of influential religious and social conservatives."McBride Is Harris' Main Foe".
So far, McBride is keeping his nascent campaign under the public radar.
He does not respond to requests for media interviews and hasn't sought coverage of campaign activities. But friends say he is making appearances and starting to put together a campaign team.
"For months Republican leaders tried finding a candidate to take on Katherine Harris in the U.S. Senate primary, and now a recent poll shows Republican voters want an alternative to the woman who was once a party hero. But even so she appears a safe bet to win the Republican nomination because GOP voters now have too many choices and know too little about them." "Harris has advantage in suddenly crowded Republican Senate field".
"Jeb!"'s slush fund:
Gov. Jeb Bush has a problem not many Floridians are facing. He has more than $1.8 million that he doesn't know what to do with."Jeb finds himself swimming in cash".
The Foundation for Florida's Future, the nonprofit that Bush revived last August, has been taking in piles of cash that the governor apparently had planned to use to support ballot initiatives on class-size and private-school vouchers.
During the just-completed, 60-day legislative session, the foundation received a stunning $739,211 in contributions as Bush carefully worked the Legislature to accept his ballot proposals. Some of the largest donations included $500,000 from Cast-Crete Corp., a Tampa-area company headed by conservative activist Ralph Hughes; $100,000 from The Villages, the retirement development led by GOP rainmaker Gary Morse; and $30,000 from companies controlled by Miami developer and Bush-Cheney fundraiser Sergio Pino.
(Bush, it's worth noting, has criticized lawmakers before for raising money while meeting in special sessions, though the governor defended his foundation's fundraising by saying he was not actively seeking out the contributions.)
Gingrich Hearts "Jeb!"
Gingrich likes Jebbie in 2012 or 2016:
Probably '08 is a little bit tricky, but " '12 or '16 isn't. And he's a young enough guy (53) that he has a great future," Gingrich said on the Political Connections television show airing [Saturday] on Bay News 9. "I just think his natural, personal ability is so great that people are going to realize he is not his father and he's not his brother. He's a very unique, charismatic leader with extraordinary capabilities. ... Jeb Bush may well be the most innovative (governor) in the entire country.""Gingrich: Gov. Bush could be president".
Bill March has the scoop on the GOoPer feud, and it is a hoot: "Party Infighting Divides GOP Women's Group".
Pigs at the Trough
"Florida's professional lobbyists, who fought to keep their earnings secret, earned at least $17.4 million in just three months to lobby the Florida Legislature, a review of new disclosure forms shows." "Review: Lobbyists earned $17M".
"Despite all the effort, the decline this year in 10th-grade reading scores is startling."
Judging from the buzz that came from Gov. Jeb Bush's office last week, there was nothing but good news in the latest round of fourth- through 10th-grade FCAT scores. ..."Grade 10 reading scores still poor".
But the governor's office was silent about the continuing deterioration of 10th-grade reading scores.
Since 2001, the number of 10th-graders reading at grade level or above on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test has dropped from an already dismal 37 percent to 32 percent. Meanwhile, the number of 10th-graders reading at Level 1 - the lowest level on a scale of 1 to 5 - has jumped from 31 to 38 percent.
And there's more: "Florida educators are at a loss to explain this year's peculiar fourth-grade reading scores, which dropped sharply statewide after rising steadily for the past five years." "Grade 4 FCAT results a puzzle".
"Gov. Bush and Republican legislative leaders still can't admit that they were wrong on insurance." "Democrats take chance to make insurance case".
The Puerto Rican Vote
"For more than a decade, Puerto Ricans have slowly moved from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt. And nowhere is the change more noticeable than in Florida, which has supplanted New Jersey as the No. 2 state for mainland Puerto Ricans, behind New York. The number of Puerto Ricans in Florida was estimated at 656,300 in 2004, the latest year available, up 165 percent since 1990." "Puerto Ricans choose Florida; influx could cause political rift".
"Since her narrow upset of veteran Democratic Rep. Karen Thurman in 2002, Democrats say, Brown-Waite has committed several of the sins they believe will drive voters to their party in November:"
She has aggressively supported the war in Iraq, even as the death toll climbs and its popularity plummets. She accepted $14,000 from former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in her last election and $1,500 from a former DeLay aide who pleaded guilty in a corruption scandal."Brown-Waite is no one's rubber stamp".
She supported changing House ethics rules to allow DeLay to remain as leader if indicted, as well as expanding corporate tax cuts and allowing police to search library records. A Congressional Quarterly analysis shows she has voted with her party more than 90 percent of the time since she got to Washington.
"Congress' tinkering with sugar policy worries cane growers".
"Clock's ticking for students at state universities".
The education Governor?
As part of an unprecedented $448.7-million line-item veto of state funding, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush slashed a total of $5.8 million in grants to public libraries, pilot projects for library homework help and web-based high-school texts, and funding for a joint-use library in Tampa."Jeb Bush Vetoes Florida Library Appropriations". See also "Libraries to see less funding".
[I]t defies understanding why Mr. Bush, who is admirably [sic] called "the education governor," has vetoed a $2.2 million appropriation for Florida public libraries. The money, about a fourth of the $10 million requested by the Florida Library Association, was intended to help public libraries recover from the last five years of reduced state funding in our growing state, where 8.7 million citizens hold library cards. "Audacious veto".
That's Jebbie and the rest of the GOoPer values crowd: cutting public library funding for six straight years while proclaiming reading as a top priority.
Another Complaint Against Pruitt
"A Democratic opponent of Senate President-to-be Ken Pruitt filed a complaint Friday against Pruitt with the Internal Revenue Service, alleging misuse of money from a registered charity that the Port St. Lucie Republican ran. Stan Smilan, a retired airline pilot in Lake Worth who is running against Pruitt, cited articles in The Palm Beach Post showing that between 2003 and 2004, Pruitt raised $264,434 for his Partnership for Better School Funding but spent only $7,495 on scholarships for needy students, a stated top priority of the charity." "Pruitt foe alleges misuse of charity".
"Crist rewriting history?"
Crist Claim: "'I've never voted for [a tax increase], and I've never supported one," he told supporters last week."
But was Crist rewriting history?"TV sound bites oversimplify Crist-vs.-Gallagher issues".
As a U.S. Senate candidate in 1998, Crist supported a penny-a-pound tax on sugar companies to clean up the Everglades. "I wouldn't call it a tax; I'd call it a fee," Crist said then.
Two years earlier, Crist backed a rental car tax for a stadium for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and said he did so because the tax was subject to voter approval in a referendum.
As a state Senate candidate in 1992, Crist was asked by the St. Petersburg Times in a questionnaire if Florida's tax base was sufficient to maintain the state's quality of life.
"Probably not; no," Crist wrote. "The elimination of unfair and unjustified exclusions and exemptions could assist in the improved revenue base necessary to help maintain and improve our quality of life."
His Better Half
"The accomplished Laura Gallagher helps define her husband's campaign, and, perhaps, him as well." "Tom Gallagher's formidable running mate".
Nelson Takes A Stand
"As a protest to offshore drilling, Sen. Bill Nelson refused to help confirm Dirk Kempthorne as the new Interior secretary." "Nelson refuses to support Interior secretary". See also "Sen. Nelson votes against Kempthorne nomination".
To Replace Harris
"Immigration and term limits produced some of the biggest distinctions among the seven candidates running to replace Katherine Harris in Congress during a Thursday forum." "Few fireworks at first forum for candidates".
"Rep. Mark Foley of West Palm Beach doesn't just watch the birdie, he tracks it. In the political game of jockeying for face time on camera, he's a master." "Working the angles".
"Suarez versus Carollo yet again"
"In his bid for a state House seat, Miami ex-Mayor Xavier Suarez will run up against the brother of former nemesis and ex-Mayor Joe Carollo." "Same names, but a new face in race for House seat".
"Blah, blah, blah"
One hopes Jebbie doesn't really believe his own "blah, blah, blah"
"The Democrats go 'Blah, blah, blah.' Republicans deliver. Democrats talk. Republicans act," Bush said."Bush touts successes, urges Republicans to push for more". His sophisticated remarks continued with gems like this:
"If the next governor of this state is a Democrat -- God forbid -- the education policies of this state will be driven by the teachers unions," Bush said. "The unions only care about the adults . . . and because of that we need to elect a Republican governor."And this sounds delightful:
Setting a sentimental tone for the governor's address, the audience watched a video montage of his career set to Paul Anka's The Times of Your Life. Bush served as chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party from 1984 to 1986."Governor returns to home turf".
"A Sunny Start"
"'What if Florida's neighborhoods could talk?' asks Attorney General Charlie Crist in the 30-second spot that begins airing [Saturday] in some markets across the state. Crist faces Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher for the Republican nomination in the campaign to succeed Gov. Jeb Bush." "A Sunny Start". See also "Gallagher wants debate, downplays ad timing".
The Buzz: "The Crist campaign won't release details, but our spies tell us he bought $1.4-million worth of ads to run for four weeks in the Tampa Bay area, Orlando, Fort Myers and Jacksonville and for one week in West Palm Beach." "Crist's TV Spot".