"Wednesday was the first day of the two-month battle between Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis for governor of Florida, and they wasted no time making the outlines of their campaigns clear."
Crist aimed at moving onto his opponent's political turf, extending an appeal to Democrats and independents on issues including public schools, the environment and civil rights.And give Crist credit for gumption, U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings "said he had received a 'reach-out' call from Crist on election night"
In a news conference in his hometown, St. Petersburg, Crist declared himself a "Reagan Republican" but also a populist and almost seemed to try to be a better Democrat than Davis.
To some Florida political veterans, the situation was reminiscent of 1998, when Democrat Buddy MacKay ran against Jeb Bush."Crist, Davis Fire First Salvos In Battle For Governor". See also "Civil rights a key issue in governor's race".
Bush sought to reach out to Democrats and independents as a "compassionate conservative," while MacKay faced a rebellion among black Democrats over Willie Logan, a former state Senate Democratic leader who was removed from that post by white senators. MacKay was not involved in that move.
Logan and other black Democrats crossed party lines to endorse Jeb Bush.
In Davis' case, he starts out having to "invest time in putting back together some things that were ripped apart" during the primary battle, said Derek Newton, a Democratic consultant. "You can blame Davis, you can blame sugar, you can blame Rod Smith. It doesn't change the fact he has to do it."
Hastings and Newton both said Davis may give stronger consideration to a black running mate as a result; Davis said he had not started compiling a list of running mates.
"If I were advising Jim Davis, Kendrick Meek would be at the top of my list," Newton said.
More: "Time for sales pitches from governor wannabes", "Crist, Davis rush to campaign trail" and "Crist, Davis come out swinging in race for governor" ("Crist and Jim Davis couldn't have made the choice any clearer.") The New York Times has this: "Democrats See Chances to Gain in Florida".
As things stand now: "Crist has early edge over Davis in governor's race" and "With Runaway Victory In Light Turnout, Crist Is The Man To Beat". To that end, "Opponents size up new strategies" ("Jim Davis survived a brutal fight to emerge as the Democratic Party's nominee for governor, but the preliminary bout will be nothing like what he is facing in the main event.") Some suggest that "Davis needs to run a 'different' campaign". Today, "Davis in O-Town"
Charlie's strategy? Well, let's just say it is less than creative: "Charlie Crist will board a campaign plane with Gov. Jeb Bush today for a three-city tour aimed at convincing voters that Crist is a worthy heir to Bush." "Easy win continues Crist's run of surprises". But, "Is Crist win sign of shift for GOP?" ("Charlie Crist could be on the way to giving a more moderate face to the state Republican Party.")
Reliable GOP slipperlick, Mike Thomas argues that "Davis will not lose as badly as Smith would have lost." "Dems' turmoil clears path for 'Teflon' Charlie".
"Still some snags in voting process". See also "Touch-screen machines cause confusion with results", "Martin battles to tally votes", "Precinct decision muddies primary", "New screens spark delays, confusion", "'Incomplete' grade kind for [PB SOE] Anderson's first test", "Slow to count votes? Supervisor of Elections says no", "Computer glitches delay final vote tally in 17 Broward precincts", "Elections Office provided a bumpy ride", "Two days after small primary, Palm Beach County one of last in state to report" and "Voting chief sees few glitches -- but some see potential for more".
But see ""Experts: Primaries run smoothly, thanks in part to low turnout"".
Harris, Nelson To Debate
"Running 30 percentage points ahead in the polls and sitting on a comfortable cushion of cash, Sen. Bill Nelson agreed Wednesday to two televised debates with his Republican challenger, Rep. Katherine Harris." "Senate foes will spar on TV". See also "Harris v. Nelson, in two parts". In the meantime, "Harris wastes no time taking shots at Nelson". See also "Harris faces uphill battle to knock off Nelson".
"Tuesday's primary was all too predictable in one aspect: low voter turnout. Less than 20 percent of Florida's eligible voters chose the two gubernatorial candidates to vie for the state's most important job. In a year when Floridians are up in arms about skyrocketing property-insurance premiums, scarce affordable housing and unacceptably high property taxes, the low turnout is unfathomable." "Did voters forget that we're a democracy?" See also "Holiday, blah races make voters yawn" and "How Low Can We Go?" ("Tuesday's primary had one of the lowest turnouts in state history. What's behind voter apathy?")
Bay Area Governor
"Homegrown Governor Likely A Bay Area Boon".
Canvassing Board Conflict
"Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair says he doesn't see a problem with serving on the county's elections canvassing board despite his involvement in two political campaigns, including one for which he sent out a mass e-mail endorsing judicial candidate Samantha Ward. Blair says he will carry out his duties with integrity, but he should step down nonetheless." "Blair's Conflict On The Canvassing Board".
The Education Governor
How much more of Jebbie's education "reform" can Florida stand?
Florida students continue to lag behind the rest of the nation in preparing for and attending college, while the state also gets a failing grade for higher education affordability, according to a new independent assessment."Report: Florida students unprepared for college".
Those factors could limit Florida's access to a competitive workforce and weaken its economy in the future, said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. ...
Key reasons why Florida did so poorly is that only 56 percent of the state's students graduate from high school within four years, one of the nation's lowest rates, and just 31 percent of ninth graders are enrolled in college four years later, center officials said.
"Voters use polls to fight sprawl, protect lifestyle".
"Despite primary win, Harris faces stiff battle in November".
Jebbie Spoke ... Who Cares
Among other things, Scott Maxwell notes that "Jeb spoke, and his Republican flock didn't listen." "Primary results were chock-full of winners, losers -- and oddities".
"$200 Per Vote"
"Slosberg spent almost $200 per vote in attempt to win state Senate seat". See also "Slosberg loses the state Senate race".
"Tom Gallagher awoke in his condo here Wednesday morning knowing he soon faces a decision: Does he stay in Tallahassee, his base for half his life, or come home to Miami?" "On heels of loss, Gallagher is faced with big decision".
"Flush with cash, Delray Beach lawyer Maria Sachs led the four-candidate race for the House District 86 seat held by outgoing Rep. Anne Gannon, but with an undetermined number of precincts reporting late Tuesday, the race was too close to call." "Race for Gannon's seat 'impossible to predict'".
Please Don't Misunderstand
"Congressional incumbents in Florida faced no serious opposition in Tuesday's primaries, but it would be a mistake to view that as a vote of confidence. Recent polls reflect growing public frustration with Congress." "Keep working".
"As primary night wore on, the Florida Republican Party sent out congratulatory e-mails to winners of the statewide races. Charlie Crist got one. So did Tom Lee. But conspicuously absent was any "atta boy" for U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris." "Congrats (not quite) all around".
No Time To Lose
"Hours after Rep. Katherine Harris sealed the GOP nomination for Senate, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson sent out a fundraising e-mail to donors, suggesting that 'starting today you can expect to see an increase in the level of distortions and negativity from the Harris campaign.'" "Wasting no time".
Florida's "hobbled Democrats see a rare opportunity to regain some of the ground they have lost in this swing state over the last 12 years."
The going will be rough. Governor Bush’s popularity will almost certainly help Attorney General Charlie Crist, who in Tuesday’s primary became the Republican nominee to succeed him. And the State Legislature, controlled by Republicans since 1996, will stay that way. Republicans now hold every statewide office except for that of Senator Bill Nelson, who now faces a challenge from Ms. Harris, and all but 7 of Florida’s 25 seats in the House."Democrats See Chances to Gain in Florida".
Yet Democrats believe they can capitalize on national anger toward Republicans this year, and on local concern about home insurance rates and education policy, including what many see as an overemphasis on standardized testing. They are hoping that social conservatives will be kept at home on Election Day by Mr. Crist’s moderate positions: he supports stem cell research and civil unions for same-sex couples, and, though against abortion, has said he would not support new restrictions on it.
Republican dominance notwithstanding, Florida has more registered Democrats, who number 4.2 million, than Republicans, at 3.9 million, according to the Division of Elections.
"Florida is so evenly divided that fairly small constituencies can make a big difference," said Lance deHaven-Smith, a political science professor at Florida State University. "All the Democrats would have to do is undermine turnout among the Republican base just a bit."
The state also has a rich pool of two million unaffiliated voters, concentrated in the central corridor between Tampa and Orlando, who sustain its standing as a swing state. The Democratic nominee for governor, Representative Jim Davis of Tampa, would have to win over those voters while keeping conservative Democrats in the Florida Panhandle from backing Mr. Crist.
"Harris aide leaves for Bilirakis campaign".
Villalobos and Cardenas ain't exactly tight:
Cardenas no longer speaks for the Republican Party, Villalobos said. "He is a paid, hired lobbyist who makes millions off of clients' contributions to senators who vote not based on principles but based on profits. He is not the state GOP, he is a lobbyist," said Villalobos."Villalobos on Cardenas". The background: "Cardenas on Villalobos".
Losers: "Conservative Republicans with narrow agendas"
"But the most significant message came from Republican voters in Miami. Alex Villalobos, one of the state Senate's brightest and most moderate Republicans, dared to cross Bush and other conservatives this year by supporting the class size amendment and refusing to back a constitutional amendment to allow tuition vouchers. Bush endorsed Villalobos' primary opponent, and third-party groups spent an estimated $6-million against the incumbent. But Villalobos narrowly won, and his victory offers hope that the state Senate will not be hijacked by conservative Republicans with narrow agendas." "Mighty moderation".
"Hiding court cases on a secret docket would be effectively outlawed in Florida under rules proposed by a study group at the request of Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Lewis." "Ban on hidden court cases urged".
"As most winners of legislative primaries began campaigning for the general election Wednesday, at least one state House race remained unsettled with the possibility of a recount or a change in the winner based on uncounted provisional ballots. Two other House seats were also close with provisional ballots still to be counted before the results were finalized." "Legislative primaries not over; one race could go to recount". See also "Votes, and candidates, remain in limbo in state House races".
"Florida’s primary election set the table for races in eight U.S. House districts but it had no effect on the state’s hottest congressional matchup. Neither incumbent Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, nor his Democratic challenger in the 22nd District, state Sen. Ron Klein of Boca Raton, had a primary opponent Tuesday." "Primary had no effect on Florida's hottest congressional race". See also "Off and running".