"Major help for him and rival Crist is pouring into less-regulated third-party groups, reports show."
A third-party political committee formed just a month ago to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher has raised $1-million, nearly matching money raised over the past several months by a similar committee backing rival Charlie Crist."Pro-Gallagher committee has raised big bucks fast". See also "Republican backers have $2 million, untold plans".
The fundraising success of both groups, spelled out in state campaign finance reports filed Monday, highlights the intense battle between Gallagher, the state's chief financial officer, and Crist, the state's attorney general, to win the primary Sept. 5.
"The Republican Party of Florida outraised the state Democratic Party by about $600,000 in the three months ending June 30, even as Democrats made history with their second-quarter figures, the parties reported." "Parties post bountiful quarters". See also "State Democratic Party posts best 2nd quarter figures in history", "GOP remains at fundraising top" and " Dems close the fundraising gap".
There is an explanation for the GOP lead:
Gary Morse, the man behind Central Florida's The Villages retirement community, has long been a Republican Party rainmaker. He has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Gov. Jeb Bush and his brother the president, and flown party leaders around on his private jet."GOP gets $500,000 donation".
But Morse topped himself last month by handing the Republican Party of Florida $500,000, according to new state records.
His gift matches the largest single contribution the state GOP has ever received, campaign-finance records show.
It also provided most of the difference between the $3.1 million the state Republicans reported raising in the last three months and the nearly $2.5 million reported by the Florida Democratic Party. It was a dramatic falloff for the GOP, and the biggest fund-raising quarter in nearly two years for the Democrats.
"United Farm Workers, the labor group with more than 135,000 members in Florida, endorsed Jim Davis' campaign for governor [Tuesday]." "Farmworkers for Davis".
"Jeb!" Takes Credit
"But Ronald Akers, a professor of criminology and sociology at the University of Florida, said scholars were uncertain why the crime rate has steadily decreased nationwide since the 1980s. He said tougher sentences for criminals may have kept repeat offenders off the streets, but that demographic factors like an aging population may have played a role." "Local, Florida crime rates dip".
Cellophane Man Weighs In
"Martinez backs Bronson".
"A top Republican Party consultant hired by incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt has mailed out fliers attacking a Republican House member who is suing the consultant for libel."
West Palm Beach-based Randy Nielsen sent out a glossy ad to homes in Charlotte and Lee counties with the huge headline, "IN CASE YOU MISSED IT! Important news about Representative Paige Kreegel." In the return address section is Nielsen's name, work address and the statement: "A public service announcement to keep citizens informed."Kreegel
said he cannot understand how a party consultant making $30,000 a month as a retainer plus additional payments for mailings can use his money this way. "The Republican Party has paid this guy over $400,000 since the start of the year, and the only tangible thing that he's done is attack a Republican incumbent," Kreegel said."Consultant for GOP attacks incumbent".
State records show that the party has paid Nielsen $437,848 this year, which represents more than two-thirds of the $645,102 he has earned in state political races in 2006.
The state Republican Party did not return phone calls on the matter Tuesday.
A Charlotte County circuit judge ruled last month that Pruitt must provide Kreegel's lawyer a deposition in the lawsuit, which Pruitt had attempted to avoid. He did not return phone calls or e-mails.
Nielsen wrote in his e-mail: "Senator Pruitt had no involvement whatsoever with the mailing."
"Rev. O’Neal Dozier has two missions, and he has been outspoken about achieving both: saving souls and helping Republicans." "Pastor appointed by Bush won't apologize for remarks on Islam".
No More Rate Hike Hearings
"Florida insurance regulators will no longer hold hearings around the state to listen to what consumers have to say about rate hikes." "Regulators put end to insurance-rate hearings".
"Money wins elections -- not always, but often. And in the hotly-contested District 16 state Senate race in Pinellas and Hillsborough, Rep. Kim Berfield of Clearwater has taken a commanding lead." " Berfield's Big Haul".
From The Values Crowd
"A Florida Department of Children & Families supervisor who asked pastors to find 'Christ-centered foster homes' for Palm Beach County children has earned the praise of her boss but criticism from civil- and child-rights groups."
"I'm disappointed that the richest, most diverse county in Florida is incapable of meeting the needs of those most vulnerable -- its children," St. Germain wrote, using her DCF address at the top of the letter. "However, I'm more saddened that we are asking a community to do what we as Christians are commanded to do, which is expose Jesus Christ for the active living Savior that he is and there is no better way than meeting the needs of our children." ..."State official criticized for letter promoting 'Christ-centered' foster homes".
"This letter says to Hindus, Buddhists, mainline Protestants, Jews and just good folks who may not have your passion to a faith system that they somehow fall short in DCF's eyes," Bill Gralnick, regional director of the American Jewish Committee, wrote to St. Germain last week. "It says rather bluntly that this unfortunate pool of children has no chance without being fostered, or I assume better yet, adopted by born-again Christians."
"The office supply company plans to use the tax incentive package endorsed Tuesday, as well as $10.2 million expected from the state, to relocate from Delray Beach to a new site in Boca Raton." "Enticed by nearly $11 million in tax breaks, Office Depot plans HQ in Boca".
"Stricter building standard rejected"
"The Florida Building Commission, meeting at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel near Hollywood, voted 15-3 against a measure that would make hurricane shutters or impact-resistant windows and doors mandatory for new construction across a wide swath of the state's Panhandle -- now largely exempt from those requirements." "Stricter building standard rejected".
"A lack of political experience isn't hurting Alex Sink's fundraising ability. The candidate for state chief financial officer, from Thonotosassa, bested not only her Republican rivals but also every other candidate for a Cabinet-level post in raising money during the second quarter, records show. Sink, former head of Bank of America for Florida, raised $508,586 in cash, bringing her bankroll to $1.24 million. Her campaign says she has $1.12 million in cash on hand. Tom Lee, of Valrico, the outgoing president of the Florida Senate who is seeking the office on the Republican side, raised $298,027 in cash, bringing his total to $1.6 million. Lee said he has $1.4 million in cash on hand. Randy Johnson, a state representative from Celebration who will face Lee in the GOP primary on Sept. 5, raised $117,670 in cash in the quarter, bringing his total to $706,843. He has about $623,000 in cash on hand." "Sink Has Cash Flow In CFO Race".
"Senate leaders produced a compromise on offshore oil and gas drilling Wednesday that they hoped would satisfy lawmakers in Florida and other coastal areas who fear for their tourist-based economies."
The deal would limit new offshore development -- outside the central and western Gulf of Mexico -- to an area of the eastern Gulf known as Lease Area 181 and protect waters within 125 miles of the Florida coast."Senate leaders propose compromise on offshore drilling".
To gain support from states that already allow offshore oil and gas development -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama -- it would substantially increase the royalty revenue that would be funneled to those states.
This "will protect our shoreline," said Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who negotiated the compromise with GOP leaders and had insisted that protection be extended to at least 125 miles off Florida's shore.
But Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he's not yet convinced and still held open the possibility he would filibuster the legislation, meaning supporters would have to get 60 votes to get it through.
"Florida's probation measures strict enough"
[M]any [legislators] quickly endorsed a knee-jerk reaction that would slam probationers who break the rules back into jail without bail -- no matter how slight their offense, no matter how long they'd been on probation.
Such a solution might sound tempting to the public. Undoubtedly, people are tired of hearing about career criminals. But what about the thousands of probationers -- by far, the majority -- who make it through sometimes lengthy sentences without any major slip-ups? It's important to remember that many violations of probation are relatively minor -- such as a missed appointment or an unpaid fine.
This approach calls for a huge expense -- from $500 million up to $828 million over six years -- with no measurable increase in public safety to justify it. The majority of that burden would be borne by counties, which are already straining under burgeoning jail costs." "Knee-jerk lockups".
"If successful, a Sierra Club lawsuit could destroy the state's plans to buy and preserve 74,000 acres of the Babcock Ranch in Charlotte and Lee counties." "Sierra Club Gambles With Babcock Ranch".
"Before Florida recognized the benefits of smaller class sizes, the Palm Beach County School District was putting more teachers in its lowest-performing schools. When class-size money from Tallahassee arrived, the district continued assigning additional teachers to those schools — even after the district met the state's class-size requirements. Now, faced with a budget deficit in the millions, the luxury is too much to afford." "Class-size rules force teacher transfers".
For most of the first half of the year, the candidates for the state Legislature have dealt with a hodgepodge of low-key issues, with no one issue floating to the top of the list."Candidates struggle with insurance crisis".
"Legislature drops ball"
"When Floridians asked for help this year with homeowners insurance, the Legislature decided to go bare. So, it's no surprise that Floridians are doing the same thing. As The Post reported Sunday, some homeowners have calculated that they are better off without wind insurance and are dropping coverage before their insurer drops them or because they refuse to pay post-Charley-Frances-Ivan-Jeanne-Dennis-Katrina-Rita-Wilma rates. Others are trying to guess how long it might take to build up a repair fund with money that didn't go for premiums over several years." "Legislature drops ball, so people drop coverage".
West Wing Wexler
"These are nervous times for congressman as the midterm elections approach. Any measurement of public approval becomes a source of concern. Rep. Robert Wexler, whose 19th Congressional District winds through Broward and Palm Beach counties, doesn't have those worries this cycle: The five-term Democratic legislator is running unopposed for the second time. As a result, he has the luxury of checking out a different set of numbers that have no consequence to his political future -- TV's Nielsen ratings. Wexler, D-Boca Raton, and his staff are the subjects of a Sundance Channel documentary series, The Hill, a nonfiction congressional version of The West Wing, which was showcased Tuesday on TV's summer press tour. The series of six enlightening and entertaining half-hours, shot cinema verite style, premieres Aug. 23." "Wexler gets West Wing aura in TV show about his staff".
"When two of Florida's largest insurers requested huge rate hikes recently, they also asked for profit margins of about 15 percent, much higher than the industry average. That has the state's insurance consumer advocate asking whether the insurers are inflating their rate hikes." "Insurers blasted for profit margins".
A Criminal Too
"Former Corrections Secretary Jimmy Crosby spent three decades keeping watch over criminals in state prisons. In a hushed federal courtroom Tuesday, Crosby admitted he became a criminal, too, and faces prison time as a result." "Ex-chief of prisons pleads guilty". See also "Former prisons chief pleads guilty, apologizes".
Smith Hits Road
"Rod Smith is about the latest candidate for statewide office to take to the highways in a bus tour. The state senator from Alachua and Democratic candidate for governor will launch a four-day, 15-stop "Straight Talk and Real Change" bus tour this Sunday in Gainesville." "On the Road Again".