"[T]o hear Smith tell it, he's the one Democrat running for governor who can win back the moderate and conservative voters of North Florida and the Panhandle who have abandoned the party during its 12-year slide from power."
But making such an argument requires a tricky balancing act. While he touts his appeal to more-conservative voters, Smith, 56, also has to reassure the more-liberal ones who make up his party's base that he is still one of them."Smith hopes message of change helps win fans". See also "Electoral math hurts Smith's primary chance" ("the biggest obstacle to Smith winning the gubernatorial nomination boils down to two words: Tampa Bay"), "Smith Says He Can Carry North Florida" and "'3-pack' TV ad touts Smith".
By most objective measures, the odds are against him. Polls show him trailing his main Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa, although many voters are still undecided. And he's behind Davis in fundraising: $3.4 million compared with the congressman's more than $4.1 million.
"A Miami Herald poll found that Florida Republicans and Democrats disagree on most issues, with the exception of funding for stem-cell research." "Florida voters deeply divided on key issues".
Cuban Influx Plans
"The United States would respond to a massive exodus of Cuban refugees by setting up long-term detention sites across the country, according to Florida's emergency plan for such a crisis." "Plans In Place In Case Cubans Start Fleeing Isle".
"With every campaign brimming with new state matching funds, Republican Charlie Crist continues to lead in the fundraising race for governor and is pulling away from his primary rival Tom Gallagher." "Crist tops Gallagher in campaign cash; Davis leads Smith". See also "Gallagher fund raising turns in worst month yet", "Gallagher lags behind Crist in July fundraising", "Crist Campaign Has Raised $14 Million", "Fla.'s candidates release July fundraising totals".
Gallagher Last in Fundraising, Rumors Swirl
"Already lagging in the polls and facing possible ethics violations, Republican Tom Gallagher suffered another setback Friday, finishing dead last in fundraising among the four candidates for governor. Gallagher's $45,740 in so-called hard dollars raised during July trailed fellow Republican Charlie Crist by nearly $290,000 and leading Democrat Jim Davis by about $150,000. Democrat Rod Smith raised twice as much as Gallagher. Friday's news raised fresh speculation among Republican insiders about whether one of Florida's longest serving politicians will drop out of his fourth and likely last run for governor." "Gallagher trails field in race for funds". See also "Political Bottom Line".
And pieces like this are less than helpful to Gallagher's campaign: The Real Tom Gallagher".
Davis The Outsider
"It's the rhetoric of an outsider -- and it's coming from an unlikely source."
It's the rhetoric of an outsider -- and it's coming from an unlikely source."Davis making points with 'outsider' rhetoric".
Davis is, after all, a former state lawmaker and a current U.S. congressman from Tampa who has spent the past 17 years -- more than half his adult life -- in office. In fact, he has been in elected office for more consecutive years than anyone else running for governor this year.
But Davis, 48, sees a crucial difference between himself and the other contenders, a difference he's making the thrust of his campaign: He is the only candidate who isn't serving in Tallahassee right now.
See also "Davis touts creating national catastrophe fund", "Davis raises another $200,000", "Davis to use Graham in first campaign ad" and "Davis Unveils First Ad" ("Democrat Jim Davis is finally going on the air, his campaign announced today, with a television ad starring former Democratic Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham as narrator.")
"Making Florida safe for medical malpractice".
Floridians Like Dems in the Legislature
"One fascinating surprise lurks in an otherwise predictable poll by Florida United Business this week: If state legislative races were held today, more people would vote for a Democrat than a Republican. The numbers: 38 percent of the 600 voters surveyed July 24 and 25 would pick a Democrat, compared to 30 percent who would support a Republican. Another 32 percent are undecided." "New poll: Voters want more Democrats in Legislature?.
Harris Telling Stories?
Is Representative B playing fast and loose with the facts?
A document at the center of Rep. Katherine Harris' efforts to secure a $10 million defense contract for a big campaign donor has been seen by three of her employees -- despite Harris' claims it cannot be made public because it is "classified.""Ex-Harris staffer saw classified document".
Former campaign manager Glenn Hodas said he was one of the three, and that none of them had security clearance, raising a question about whether the Longboat Key congresswoman is freer to share the document than she asserts -- or whether she impermissibly allowed advisers access to sensitive government secrets.
"The two Democrats vying to replace Gov. Jeb Bush have launched new advertising campaigns aimed at introducing themselves to a huge number of voters who know little about either." "Democratic Contenders For Governor Take To TV".
Harris Predicts Victory
"Harris predicts Senate victory against odds".
"Channeling The Wrath"
"Democrats Jim Davis and Rod Smith are channeling the wrath of many South Florida parents and educators, bashing key reforms adopted over the past seven years."
Promising wholesale change, they scorn how the FCAT is used to punish or reward schools and students based on their scores. They say the state has failed to boost teacher salaries and has made a paltry financial commitment to education, including too little to meet the state's tough class-size mandate."Democratic candidates tap into voter frustration on FCAT, education reform".
"We're 47th in public school spending and we're second in the nation on what we spend for prisons," said Smith, a state senator from Alachua County. "What kind of irony is that?"
"Politics of Israel"
"A new Miami Herald poll finds that more Florida Republicans than Democrats support the level of Israel's bombing of Lebanon -- a sentiment that could presage more chipping away at the Democrats' base." "Politics of Israel: More Jews to the GOP?" Much more here: "Conflict reveals partisan split" ("A Miami Herald poll found Republicans more likely than Democrats to support Israel's actions in the Middle East conflict.")
Jax Murder Rate
"Florida Highway Patrol will send troopers to Jacksonville to help curb murder rate".
"Country crooner Jones completes trifecta with Jeb meeting".
Divvying Up Corporate Welfare
"Bush has recommended emptying a $200 million stash of state incentives to ensnare three job-generating research institutions, sending the largest cut of money to the La Jolla, Calif.-based Burnham Institute for Medical Research." "Governor wants 3 institutes to split $200 million".
" State Rep. Irv Slosberg turned his pockets inside out in the past month to finance his campaign for an open state Senate seat, reporting Friday that he has personally thrown nearly $1.3 million into the race. Political observers say Slosberg, who listed a personal fortune of $8.7 million in a December financial disclosure form, is on pace to spend a record amount for a state legislative primary campaign." "Senate candidate has thrown $1.3 million of his money into race".
Counterproductive Cuba Policies
"On this side of the Straits, the Bush administration and its anti-Castro allies hold tightly to their counterproductive policies." "Cuba Policy".
Three Open Seats
"Name recognition may be the deciding factor in races for two of Florida's three vacant congressional districts, where the offspring of well-known politicians will be on the Sept. 5 primary ballot."
State Rep. Gus Bilirakis is trying to keep his father's 9th District seat in the family. U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis is retiring after 24 years in Congress. Both are Palm Harbor Republicans."Florida congressional primary focuses on three open seats".
Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor, the daughter of former Florida Education Commissioner and 2004 U.S. Senate candidate Betty Castor, is a Democratic candidate for the 11th District seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Davis, D-Tampa. Davis is running for governor. ...
Democrats also are hoping to take the Harris seat, which had been in Republican hands before she was elected in 2002, but Paulson doesn't see it that way.
"Southwest Floridians won't be watching the two Democrats running for governor on their television screens for awhile." "Smith, Davis TV ads skip Southwest".
"In early 2005, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam criticized the executive director of a Head Start agency based in Polk County - and even called for a federal investigation - after allegations of mismanagement surfaced. One of Putnam's key criticisms was that the agency's boss accepted a free trip to Las Vegas from a copy machine supplier."
Four months later, the Bartow Republican accepted an expense-paid trip to a Missouri resort, according to a disclosure form filed by Putnam's office and recently included in a national database of congressional travel."Putnam Criticized Free Trip, Then Went On His Own".
One of his opponents in this year's congressional election sees that as evidence Putnam is a "puppet" of a Washington culture that caters to lobbyists.
"Casino developer a big donor to ally of Crist".
Collins Drops a "Bombshell"
"U.S. Senate candidate Leroy Collins Jr. just dropped a bombshell at a candidates' forum in North Reddington Beach, asking Katherine Harris to quit the race for the good of the Republican Party amid reports about a federal investigation into a campaign contributor. ... The forum's moderator, who asked candidates to not speak ill of each other, said she was 'speechless.'" "Collins to Harris: Drop out". See also "Rival urges Harris to quit", "Harris brushes off attack", "GOP opponent calls on Harris to quit race" and "GOP rivals turn up heat on Harris".
"19 schools win appeals of state, federal ratings".
Mel's "No. 1 goal for Florida in 2006"
"Rep. Katherine Harris' U.S. Senate campaign staff may be deserting her, but she's still got a friend in Sen. Mel Martinez. In a letter addressed to 'fellow conservatives,' the Republican senator implores donors to pony up for Harris' campaign, telling them her victory is his 'No. 1 goal for Florida in 2006.'" "Martinez: Give Harris a hand". See also "Martinez backs Harris in Senate race".
"Red tide moving up Florida's west coast".
"Democrat attorney general candidate Walter “Skip” Campbell finally collected state matching funds on Friday, but not the full $380,000 his campaign said last week he’s due. Instead, Campbell got $229,320. ... Campbell campaign manager Jeff Garcia said then that a mistake had been made in applying for the funds, and took the blame. Since, he’s wrangled with Tallahassee bureaucrats to get them to show the campaign some money." "Campbell gets matching funds".
"Avon Park officials, residents know debate on immigration isn't over".
"Bush has taken sides in two other Republican primaries this fall, but this marks the only House race that he has endorsed in during this election season." "Bush endorses Robert Fernandez".
"A poll shows that the candidates for governor hold big leads over their primary opponents. Even so, Davis can't rest easy." "Voters leaning Crist, Davis".