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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

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Previous Articles by Derek Newton: Ten Things Fox on Line 1 Stem Cells are Intelligent Design Katrina Spin No Can't Win Perhaps the Most Important Race Senate Outlook The Nelson Thing Deep, Dark Secret Smart Boy Bringing Guns to a Knife Fight Playing to our Strength  

The Blog for Saturday, August 19, 2006

Crist Disses Christian Coalition

    Can Charlie continue to burn the candle at both ends?
    The conservative credentials of Charlie Crist, already under scrutiny in rival Tom Gallagher's campaign commercials, are likely to be examined anew for his indirect answers to a questionnaire from the Christian Coalition of Florida.

    The Christian Coalition expects to distribute at least 1.5-million of its voter guide in churches, bookstores and radio stations starting Monday, just two weeks before the Sept. 5 primary. Of the seven questions that will be profiled in the guide, Crist, the state's attorney general, will be listed as "not responding" to four of them, said Bill Stephens, the group's executive director.
    "Coalition survey roils GOP campaign".

    In the meantime, "Two state legislators and two anti-abortion activists backing Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher for governor said Friday that Attorney General Charlie Crist's past pro-choice positions should make Republican voters worry that he will name 'activist' judges to the Florida Supreme Court." "Abortion stance enters gubernatorial race".


    Mark Your Calendars

    "The major Republican and Democratic candidates for governor of Florida will participate in televised debates on Tuesday and Wednesday. The hourlong programs will take place at the studios of WEDU in Tampa and be broadcast over most public television stations around the state, with a simulcast by many public radio stations." "Gubernatorial debates on TV next week".


    Gelber Responds ...

    to Jebbie's silly guest column in the Washington Post in "In Education, Florida Moved the Bull's-Eye". Among Gelber's points:

    - "According to federal statistics, while Bush's self-labeled 'A+ plan' has been in place, Florida's high school graduation rate is dead last in the nation for the second consecutive year. When confronted with this devastating statistic, rather than try to figure out why our kids aren't graduating, Jeb Bush's administration called for an overhaul of the way high school graduation rates are calculated."

    - "Florida's teachers are paid more than $6,000 below the national average. Asked about this statistic, the administration called for an overhaul of the way teacher salaries are calculated nationwide."

    - "For the past seven years, school grades were premised almost entirely on whether schools moved students to minimal competence in primarily two subjects. Administrators and teachers became totally obsessed with devoting resources to get students to pass, and only pass, those few subjects tested. Other core subjects are ignored. Enrichment and advanced programs are becoming scarcer."

    - Florida "has basically shot the arrow into a wall and drawn a bull's-eye around it. Other states could do well by avoiding Florida's example."

    More in this AP piece today: "Florida lags in No Child Left Behind, Jeb wants law changed".


    Air War

    "After weeks of holding back to save money, the Democratic candidates for governor -- Jim Davis and Rod Smith -- have begun airing waves of television commercials. Their Republican rivals -- Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher -- have been on the air for more than a month, but their tone became noticeably sharper this week. And a pair of televised debates, which will be broadcast across the state, will take place in the next 10 days." "Can TV enliven ho-hum election?".


    Not Holding My Breath

    I seem to recall Bill McBride having difficulty with this issue, and look forward to seeing the mini-Russerts and other Florida media types savaging Crist over this issue:

    In an election season rife with big promises, Charlie Crist's biggest commitment is one he spends little time discussing. The Republican frontrunner for governor wants to double spending on teacher bonuses, double the homestead exemption, lock up more criminals and cut your taxes. But his biggest-ticket promise thus far has been to end four years of GOP reluctance to fund the multibillion-dollar mandate to shrink class sizes that Florida voters approved in 2002.
    "Class size key issue in governor's race".

    I'm not holding my breath - don't expect either Florida's media, let alone "Jeb!" and the Jebbites, to have much to say about Charlie (I never supported a tax increase) Crist's silence on this issue.


    Jebbie's Pollster Gets a New Gig

    Joementum hires Jebbie's pollster.


    Tramm's Timing

    "As political crises go, this one is pretty bad. While the severity of congressional candidate Tramm Hudson's comments about blacks and their ability to swim was being debated in political circles, the timing of the comments becoming public was not. Early voting for the Sept. 5 primary starts Monday. With little time to respond, Hudson is in a position where the remarks made public this week could cost him votes, said Michael Shannon, a media crisis consultant based in Virginia.
    " "Timing couldn't be much worse for Hudson campaign".


    Iraq

    "Pinellas County developer Peter Monroe, a former bureaucrat in the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations, said the United States went into Iraq 'under false pretenses.'" But, "the other three Republicans in the race — U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Longboat Key, retired Adm. LeRoy Collins Jr. of Tampa and Orange County attorney Will McBride — have all said the invasion was justified. So has Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, who points to intelligence information given at the time." "GOP Senate hopefuls similar on Iraq".


    Secret World

    "Secret political organizations are outraising the major candidates for statewide public office, setting the stage for a campaign rife with shifty attacks from well-financed special interests." "The secret world of campaign financiers".


    Wingnuttery

    "There was little room for middle ground Friday in a fiery debate pitting Democratic County Commissioner Burt Aaronson against the county's Republican Party chairman on embryonic stem cell research, an issue that has landed on several platforms this political season."



    Aaronson and Sid Dinerstein held their party lines in the half-hour exchange at a luncheon of business professionals, though both said the topic transcends politics. The exchange was not without a rehashing of old insults and an unexpected outburst from the audience.

    Anthony Cutaia -- whose wife founded Citizens for Science and Ethics to oppose state funding for the research -- interrupted Aaronson's opening remarks with an invitation to debate him instead. Moments earlier, Cutaia applauded when Aaronson, recounting a newspaper quote by Dinerstein, said, "I guess I'm a murderer" for supporting embryonic stem cell research.
    "Debate over embryonic stem cell research gets personal".


    Fraud Secret

    "Congressional candidate Vern Buchanan convinced a judge Friday to keep a six-year-old lawsuit sealed, leaving even the case's most basic details out of public view before the Sept. 5 primary. The sealed court file includes a fraud allegation against Buchanan, an auto dealer who touts his reputation as a self-made businessman as he seeks to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in District 13." "Buchanan file will stay sealed".

    In the meantime, "Buchanan fattens his campaign coffer again".


    Alex Diaz de la Portilla

    "The battle between the Florida Elections Commission and Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla will go on. On Friday, the commission voted 5-1 to fine the Miami Republican $8,750 for 17 campaign violations stemming from his 1999 election to the state Senate. Diaz de la Portilla, blasting the commission as a 'kangaroo court,' said he planned to appeal the ruling." "Diaz de la Portilla vows to keep fighting". See also "Senator fined $8,750; appraiser fares better".


    Harris "Foul Up"

    "Despite their insistence to the contrary Thursday evening, the Katherine Harris campaign said today that State Sen. Daniel Webster had never agreed to endorse Harris in her bid for the U.S. Senate."

    Harris spokeswoman Jennifer Marks said "mistakes have been made" and that Webster should not have been included on a flier listing officials who were supporting her. Thursday, Harris and her staff had repeatedly said Webster had agreed to endorse the Longboat Key Republican in the GOP primary. Webster, however, supports one of her challengers -- Orlando lawyer Will McBride -- and has done so since he entered the race in May.

    Marks would not explain the nature of the foul up.
    "Harris camp backs off on Webster nod". See also "Harris campaign: No Webster support" and "Um, Katherine...Part 2".

    This doesn't help: "Harris blames phantom tree for low turnout at rally". And this is plain mean, "Gone totally Katherine Harris crazy": "The Urban Dictionary, an online resource for only the hippest words and phrases recently added the term "Katherine Harris crazy" to its lexicon." The definition: "As insanely optimistic as Congresswoman Katherine Harris. Usually characterized by an overly optimistic estimation of someone's chances of achieving success."

    Meanwhile, "Harris diehards admire her for many things, but especially respect her fortitude under pressure.". "In dark days, they love her even more".


    "16 First Dates"

    "Want a date with Tom Gallagher, Katherine Harris, LeRoy Collins, Ric Keller, Dean Cannon, Sandy Adams or Lee Constantine? Next time, attend the East Orange County Chamber of Commerce candidate breakfast. You gotta give the chamber some kudos. Rather than the traditional, stand-and-give-a-stump-speech seen at most events, the chamber Friday subjected candidates to a version of 'speed dating,'". "16 First Dates".


    HD 69 "Pole Dancer"

    Republican campaign tactics:

    County Commissioner David Mills said he didn't start the rumor that School Board member Laura Benson was a "pole dancer" -- he only passed it along.

    And after he was confronted by Benson on Thursday night before a roomful of fellow Republicans, he apologized and admitted it was the wrong thing to do.

    "The whole thing is in very bad taste on my part," said Mills, who mailed an apology letter to Benson. "We feel very badly about it."

    Mills admits that he told a local newspaper editorial board that he had heard that Benson had been married five times and was once a pole dancer. ...

    Mills and Benson are running for the House District 69 seat being vacated by Donna Clarke, who is running for Congress. The winner of the Sept. 5 Republican primary will face Democrat Keith Fitzgerald.
    "Candidate apologizes for spreading rumor".


    McBride Money

    "U.S. Senate candidate Will McBride tells the Buzz he pumped $660,000 of his own money into his uphill battle to beat Rep. Katherine Harris this week. The Orlando lawyer had already put in $68,000." "McBride throws in some more money".


    Jumping Ship

    "Republican Tom Gallagher lost one of his Central Florida leaders Friday, when lawyer and lobbyist Fred Leonhardt jumped from the campaign and endorsed Charlie Crist in the governor's race." "A Leader Leaves". See also "Leonhardt, Roberts Join Crist Campaign", "Gallagher leader resigns" and "Keeping the Focus on Conservative" ("With his campaign for governor staggered by another high-profile defection this morning, supporters of Republican Tom Gallagher organized a conference call with reporters to try and keep attention focused on what Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa, called opponent Charlie Crist's 'moderate to liberal' record.")

    Crist quickly capitalized: "Crist touts Gallagher's Orlando defector".

    Bottom line: who really gives a hoot about a fatcat GOP lobbyist who jumps ship to retain access with the candidate he thinks is going to win the primary? One must assume he has already done as much fundraising as he could (for Gallagher), so who really cares if he crawls on his hands and knees into Charlie's camp?


    Lake County

    "Lake County GOP primary won't be open to Democrats". For more on closed primaries, see this editorial in today's PBP: "Restore power to voters ".


    Morphing

    Crist and Gallagher's "political records show both men have taken positions on both sides of the hotly charged abortion issue and they now offer different views as to what they might do if they were elected governor." "Gallagher and Crist both morph on abortion".


    Crist Backers

    "The outdoor rally in Pensacola drew hundreds of supporters. Besides McCain, a likely GOP candidate for president in 2008, Crist was joined by U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, an Orlando Republican who is ardently opposed to abortion and embryonic stem cell research." "McCain, Martinez stand up for Crist".


    The Storm Name

    "Front-Runner Storms To Trade On Her Name Recognition".


    GOP Consultant Goes Down

    "A leading Republican campaign consultant who helped wage a last-minute campaign to try to defeat the 2004 slots amendment has paid $12,000 in fines to settle two cases before the Florida Election Commission. The commission on Friday morning approved two separate consent orders with Roger Pennington, the chairman of the Committee to Restore Integrity in Politics. Pennington is a well-known political consultant and owner of a direct-mail firm who has worked on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida as well as Republican candidates." "Slots opponent agrees to pay fines".


    Trib Endorses Collins

    "For Senate, LeRoy Collins Jr. Trumps Dramatic, Erratic Harris".


    Campaign Cash

    "The newest round of fundraising numbers for the governor's race are in, and it's more of the same: Republicans Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher were far apart, while Democrats Jim Davis and Rod Smith were pretty close. Crist raised $158,000 over the last week and, with just over two weeks to go, has $4.6 million in the bank. Gallagher raised $22,000 and has $2.5 million remaining. Davis, meanwhile, raised $57,000 and has $2.3 million left. And Smith raised $81,000 (though $42,000 of that came in the form of public matching money, which the other candidates are still due) and has $300,000 in left." "Another Week's Worth of Fundraising". See also "Crist maintains huge lead in fundraising" ("Charlie Crist's fundraising machine continued its record pace Friday, with the latest campaign finance records showing he raised nearly as much as the other three gubernatorial candidates combined") and "New round in never-ending case against senator".

    Sink looks good in the CFO race: "CFO hopefuls count their cash ".

    It is of note that Davis has $2.35-million cash on hand compared to Smith's $302,000. "Rolling (and not rolling) in Cash".


    Klein v. Shaw

    "So with immigration such a visible and unresolved problem in the 22nd Congressional district, why isn't it more of an issue in the campaign between Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw and his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Ron Klein? In part, it's because the men have similar positions. Klein does not support amnesty or a guest worker program; Shaw backed the House bill that had no provisions for an amnesty program." "Immigration a no-show in the Shaw/Klein race?" See also "Illegal immigrants a 'burden,' Shaw says".


    Oppo Research

    "The Smith campaign has found an old Legislative vote that shows that back in 1993 Jim Davis voted to preserve the Rodman Dam while conducting a study on a dam. Also Davis voted for preserving it in a 1995 budget bill, says the Smith campaign (using a tactic perfected by the Davis campaign of attacking a vote on an issue buried within a big budget). Davis is now a proponent of restoring the Ocklawaha River." "Davis and the Dam".


    The CFO Race

    "Two lawmakers, financial adviser vie in GOP primary for CFO".


    Jumping the Gun

    "Bush reinstated a death warrant Thursday for condemned killer Clarence Hill and prison officials scheduled his execution for next month although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the inmate can challenge the state’s method of lethal injection." "Gov. Bush reinstates Hill death warrant although appeal pending".


    GOP Front Group

    "The 30-second ads, which are being paid for by the Florida Police Benevolent Association and its Miami-Dade and Palm Beach affiliates, focus on the Republican attorney general's crime-fighting credentials, such as Crist's support for stricter sentencing." "Outside Ads Help Crist". See also "PBA and Dobson ads".

    Note: it is curious that the PBA would spend its cash on Crist, who hardly needs it, instead of Smith (whom the PBA endorsed some time ago), wgho really needs the cash in his race with Davis. Further evidence that the PBA is largely an arm of the Florida GOP.


    Gambling

    "But if gambling companies try to rig elections and make suckers out of the voters, that's a different matter. A three-judge panel of Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal was right this month to reinstate a lawsuit that could shut down four casinos preparing to open in Broward County." "Cheating the constitution".


The Blog for Friday, August 18, 2006

Florida GOP Has No Shame

    The GOP has zero compunction about using the government as a political campaign tool:
    As a candidate for governor, Democrat Rod Smith has no real power to influence the state's insurance market. But that hasn't kept government regulators from criticizing an insurance reform plan that is part of his campaign.

    The regulator's report was sought by staff of the Republican-controlled Legislature, and Democrats suggest it might be circulating now to discredit Smith and other party candidates in an election year.

    The report was prepared by Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation, and it is highly critical of the Democrats' plan to convert the state's retail insurer, Citizens Property, and the state's reinsurance fund, into a new fund that would cover the first $100,000 in wind damage on any Florida home.
    "In his quest to appeal to the broadest possible constituency, the Republican candidate for governor has walked a fine line on the issue of abortion; so fine, in fact, it can be hard to tell where he stands." "Insurance reform? Report hits back".


    He Was For It Before He Was Against It ... Or Was He?

    "Crist's stance on abortion still hazy". See also "Foes have taken both sides on abortion".


    He Said It

    The GOP's leading candidate in the CD 13 primary, Tramm Hudson, "apologized Thursday for making derogatory comments about the swimming ability of blacks at a Christian Coalition political forum earlier this year." "Candidate apologizes for racial remark". Hudson is "the immediate past Chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota County. In 1996, 2000 and 2004 he was a Sarasota County Delegate to the Republican National Convention. He is also a Pioneer in the Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign. A Pioneer is someone who has raised over $100,000 for the President’s re-election." "Black men can't swim?" See also "Congress candidate Hudson apologizes for comment" and "Tramm in trouble?"


    Nitwit Nurse

    "Jeb!" has successfully interevened on behalf of the nitwit nurse who claimed that Terri "Schiavo, far from being in a vegetative state, was responsive, spoke, laughed and even ate pudding and milkshakes."

    After Gov. Jeb Bush's office got involved in the case, a state nursing panel Thursday dropped a complaint against a nurse who spoke publicly about Terri Schiavo's care.

    Registered nurse Carla Sauer-Iyer, 42, of Plant City was accused of improperly disclosing patient information about Schiavo on CNN last year.

    In interviews, she said Schiavo, far from being in a vegetative state, was responsive, spoke, laughed and even ate pudding and milkshakes. That prompted another nurse to complain that Sauer-Iyer violated Schiavo's privacy.

    The state Health Department had pursued a complaint against Sauer-Iyer for several months and initially urged the nursing board's Panel of Probable Cause to authorize a complaint that could have cost Sauer-Iyer her license.

    But the Health Department changed its position in July after the governor's office sided with Sauer-Iyer. In response, three members of the Senate Health Care Committee questioned Bush's involvement in the case.

    On Thursday, the nursing board's two-member panel reversed itself, dismissing the case after the Health Department said it had new information, including a response from Sauer-Iyer and a copy of an affidavit she provided Bush's legal team in its defense of Terri's Law.
    "Comments on Schiavo unpunished".


    Whatever

    "Jeb: Glad the Gloves Are Off".


    Mahoney v. Foley

    "Republican Congressman Mark Foley and his Democratic challenger, Tim Mahoney, have pondered each other's politics and prepared for a fight to Election Day." "Foley, Mahoney trade barbs, make pitches".


    Florida Progressive Coalition

    Some recent posts at the FPC Blog: "Hudson: Blacks Can’t Swim", "My Friendly Martin Kiar FL-97" and "Vote for Phyllis".


    GOP Convention Scramble

    Tampa "City Council members informally decided to coordinate so only one of them would be at each event to welcome the Republican National Convention site selection committee." "City To Divide RNC Duties".


    An Ugly Sight

    "After buying a chicken costume, what's Frank Bolanos to do in Sen. District 38? Salsa." "Bolanos has rhythm".


    Unpaid Wages

    "The state is now home to nearly half of all federal lawsuits over wages. Why? Well, at least four reasons." "Floridians make up for lost overtime".


    Brain Dead

    "Bush dominates one of the two television ads Lee's camp launched on Monday. It opens with Bush telling viewers the state needs Tom Lee." And with brain dead voters like this in the GOP primary, you can't blame Lee:

    "I haven't done a lot of research, but I saw the governor on television endorsing him (Lee), and that's good enough for me," [Patty] Cowherd said as she munched sushi Wednesday evening at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Political Mingle.
    "Bush, homeowners star in CFO candidates' ads". The straw poll results: "The results are in for the straw poll conducted Wednesday evening at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Political Mingle".

    For the straw poll results at another such - GOP dominated - event, see "Central Florida Straw Poll: Round 2".


    Bios

    "Republican candidates for U.S. Senate".


    Chiles Everywhere

    "Jim Davis has the widow of former Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles in his corner, and now Rod Smith has his son. Lawton 'Bud' Chiles III endorsed Smith's gubernatorial campaign today, telling reporters on a conference call that Smith could "move the Democratic Party back towards a centrist, moderate, fiscally conservative...socially conscious party that's willing to reach out and help people."" "A Chiles in Every Corner". See also "Chiles family splits primary vote" and "Bud Chiles for Rod".


    Trib Endorses Castor

    "Kathy Castor Is The Choice In Strong Field For Congress". The Dem primary winner is expected to easily win the general.


    No Room For Discussion

    "Republican U.S. Senate candidate Peter Monroe says his three primary opponents are 'all soft on the embargo on Cuba,' but two of them say he has misrepresented their positions. In a speech Wednesday night at the Versailles Restaurant in the heart of Miami's Little Havana, Monroe said two of his opponents 'want the embargo lifted and the third actually said she wants Mexico and Spain to review the U.S. embargo.'" "Cuba embargo speech stirs up GOP Senate opponents".


    Big of 'Em

    "State tells developers to stop burying tortoises alive while bulldozing sites".


    Shaw Holds A Hearing

    "In a town with a visible undocumented worker population, leaders and candidates debated the best way to regulate immigration." "Views vary at Shaw hearing". See also "US Rep. Shaw holds Lake Worth immigration hearing".


    Insurance Crisis

    "Several hundred residents of Century Village, a large retirement community west of West Palm Beach, turned out Thursday for a town hall meeting on Florida's escalating property insurance rates." "Scared Century Village seniors pack meeting on Florida's insurance crisis".

    The News-Journal observes that "Once upon a time, property insurance policy was the exclusive province of wonks and bean-counters. But with flurries of cancellation notices and rate hikes arriving in mailboxes across Florida, windstorm insurance -- which protects against hurricanes, tornadoes and other violent weather -- has become one of the defining issues of 2006." "Worthy risk".


    Siplin

    "It's been a tough week for Sen. Gary Siplin, found guilty Monday of stealing thousands of dollars in taxpayer money stemming from his allegedly having three members of his legislative staff work on his 2004 re-election campaign. But he caught a break Thursday from the Florida Elections Commission, which waived a possible $1,875 fine hanging over Siplin for submitting a campaign finance report due last April 10, eight days late." "Siplin Gets a Pass".


    "Lee on Storms"

    "State Sen. Tom Lee is staying carefully neutral in the primary to replace him in Senate District 10. But before taping a 'Political Connections' interview [the Buzz]asked the Republican CFO candidate how he thinks Ronda Storms often combative style would play in Tallahassee." "Lee on Storms".


    A Chamber Thing

    "Chamber of Commerce Chairman J. Russell Greene said it's important for the business community to keep a close eye on the county's schools and their students." "Better teachers won't necessarily be better for schools, superintendent says".


    Calling The Kettle Black

    "U.S. Senate candidate Peter Monroe wants specifics from fellow Republican Will McBride on immigration. But Monroe isn't very exact himself, judging by his website's 'key issues' section." "Lost in translation".


    Catch-Up

    "For the past three months, LeRoy Collins Jr. and Peter Monroe have felt like the kids in the back of the class. They have something to say, they're waving their hands, but it's hard to get the teacher -- or the voting public -- to pay attention." "Collins, Monroe play catch-up for Senate race".


    Death Penalty

    "Jeb Bush reinstates death warrant". But see "New death warrant may be blocked".


    No One Came

    "U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris came to Sen. Bill Nelson's hometown Thursday to try to prove she could unseat him in the fall, but the help she hoped for didn't come. It was expected to be one of Harris' biggest events leading up to the Republican Senate primary next month, with a host of prominent public officials standing by her side. But no elected official showed up at Orlando Executive Airport for Harris' fly-in - just 30 to 40 people, in a hangar that could hold hundreds." "Touted guests missing at Harris rally". See also "No-shows batter beleaguered Harris".


    What a Jerk

    After stiffing state employees on wage increases for years, Jebbie has the temerity to challenge "state employees Thursday to raise $2.5 million in the annual United Way campaign for the Big Bend area." "Bush urges state workers to dig deep".


    Unintended Consequences

    "Davis, who derides the state Legislature for giving insurance companies a break by approving a 'loophole' in hurricane coverage, also happens to be tarring a bunch of legislators who have already endorsed him but voted for the measure approved by wide margins during the 2005 session." "Campaign Crosswinds". See also "Davis Slamming His Own Team?"


    Well Perpared

    "Maybe Charlie Crist should have changed shirts. It turns out that the 'response' ad that Crist began airing Wednesday as a reply to an ad Tom Gallagher put on the air Tuesday was actually made as early as May. Both are candidates in the Republican primary for governor.In the Wednesday ad, Crist, the state's attorney general, is wearing a black shirt as he is posed outside in a front of a body of water. It is the same shirt and same setting that were used in another ad that began airing in early June." "Crist 'response' ad filmed well before Gallagher criticism".


    Herald Hearts Mel

    The effort to rehabilitate the Cellophane Man is underway: "Fast learner Martinez moves to forefront"


    "Why Remember?"

    "Fifty-five years ago, Florida was a sleepy Southern state of fewer than 3 million people; now six times that number call Florida home." "Why remember?".


The Blog for Thursday, August 17, 2006

GOP Gets in the Mud

    Attack ads, "seems to be exactly where the Florida Republican governor’s race is heading." "Charlie Chucks One Back". See also "Mud flies in GOP governor race".
    A day after rival Tom Gallagher began airing tough-toned television ads, Republican gubernatorial front-runner Charlie Crist fired back Wednesday with a spot tarring his opponent for having advocated tax increases and once linking Gov. Jeb Bush to Cuban President Fidel Castro.

    The move may be surprising, given Crist's double-digit lead in most polls and more than two-to-one fundraising advantage.

    But in a Republican primary where fewer than one in three eligible voters may cast ballots, Crist wants to push back quickly against Gallagher's criticism.
    "GOP ads heat up race for governor". See also "Crist spot fires at Gallagher over '94 ad", "Crist Fires Back at Gallagher", "Gallagher, Crist race takes a testy turn" and "Crist fires back at Gallagher".

    More on the primary: "Gallagher facing an uphill battle" while "McCain, Martinez to join Crist at rally".


    Our Education Governor

    "Florida students ranked last in 2005 among 23 states that gave reading or English language arts tests required for high school graduation, with only 52 percent passing on the first try, the independent Center on Education Policy reported Wednesday." "State students ranked lowest in reading test" ("Florida did much better, though, in mathematics. The state's first-time passing rate was 77 percent, good for 10th place [out of 23].")


    Charlie Solves A Case

    "Crist IDs Klansmen in Mims couple's 1951 blast deaths". See also "Conclusion: Klansmen killed two" and "1951 bombing of black activists blamed on KKK".


    Davis Hits Hard

    "One day after Republican Tom Gallagher began airing the first hard-hitting television commercial of the governor's race, Democrat Jim Davis has launched an aggressive new ad of his own. Davis' second statewide ad blisters both the Florida Legislature and the property insurance industry for passing a law that Davis calls a 'loophole' that puts policyholders at risk. While the 30-second spot doesn't mention Davis' primary opponent, state Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua, it is a less than subtle shot at him. Smith, after all, is a member of the Legislature and he supports the law Davis is targeting." "Davis' Aggressive New Ad". See also "Davis TV ad focuses on insurance problems" and "Davis' New Ad Blasts Insurance 'Loophole'".


    Gun Nuttery

    "The spotlight may veer away from Florida, but the fact remains that this state was the first to enact this dangerous and bloody law. Florida can get national headlines again -- for the right reason -- by being the first state to tear up this virtual get-out-of-jail-free card." "On shaky ground".


    Smith Absentees

    "Democrat Rod Smith is sending out more than 450,000 mailings to absentee voters, hoping their ballots will give him a boost. GOP candidates are also courting those voters." "Underdog Rod Smith finds hope in absentee ballots".


    CD 8

    Scott Maxwell

    What once looked like a sure thing -- Democratic consultant Charlie Stuart taking on Republican Ric Keller -- no longer looks that way. Self-financed liberal lawyer Alan Grayson came on to the scene gangbusters and has plastered his name on TV and put his voice on the radio. For many casual voters, Grayson is the only Dem in the race. And now Stuart is on the defensive, attacking Grayson for being a newcomer without much local history. But why hasn't Stuart advertised himself? As of the last reporting period, he had plenty of cash -- nearly half a million dollars. And he has a boffo ad -- one where former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham endorses him. But he sent out an

    e-mail this week saying he was so cash-strapped that he needed money to air it. Where did all the money go? Much of that looks like it's been spent on consultants and staffers -- things voters don't see. And now Stuart's playing catch-up -- though Stuart's campaign said Wednesday that they still consider him the front-runner and have money; they just want more.
    "Will It Be Sorry, Charlie?".


    An Orlando Sentinel Thing

    "Jeb!" flack and occasional Orlando Sentinel "columnist" Mike Thomas pens this gem today: "Smith would be fiasco for Dems, environment". Thomas accuses Smith of being "a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Sugar".

    Funny, I don't seem to recall Thomas expressing similar reservations about Jebbie, who is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business in general, and big sugar in particular (consider Jebbie's efforts to undercut federal supervision of court mandated Everglades restoration). Indeed, Thomas claims he voted for "Jeb!"

    In any event, here's the gist of Thomas' column:

    Smith sells himself as a conservative Democrat who can win crossover votes, particularly the North Florida Dixiecrats. This is fantasy.

    The probable Republican candidate, Charlie Crist, has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. He is pro-chain gang and anti-murder.

    There is no weakness here for Smith to exploit.

    Meanwhile, environmentalists would abandon Smith in droves to support Crist. He consistently supports their causes. In an issue very dear to their hearts, he wants to drain the Rodman Reservoir and restore the Ocklawaha River. Smith has blocked those efforts while in the Legislature.

    Crist would take more votes from Smith than the reverse. I am amused
    Looks like Thomas has fallen into his old habit of reprinting GOP talking points.


    "I didn't know whether to smile or puke."

    Reacting to Crist's patronizing in an editorial board interview, Scott Maxwell says he "didn't know whether to smile or puke." "Charlie Crist -- up close and personal".


    Harris' Diminishing Circle of Friends

    "In the U.S. Senate primary, Rep. Katherine Harris has been touting key political endorsements from fellow Republican lawmakers. The problem is, some of them never endorsed her. Several members of the U.S. House called the Harris campaign to complain Wednesday after the St. Petersburg Times notified them of the endorsements listed on Harris' Web site. Minutes later, their names were removed. The list of politicians whose names came down includes Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville, Cliff Stearns of Ocala, Mark Foley of West Palm Beach and Jeff Miller of the Panhandle." "Backing Harris? Her list shortens".


    Spanish Lesson

    "When he bashes his opponent as soft on immigration, U.S. Senate candidate Peter Monroe could use a lesson en español."

    Monroe is criticizing fellow Republican Will McBride for appearing at a May 1 immigrants-rights rally in Tampa where a Spanish-language paper, La Prensa, snapped a photograph of him holding a banner of a liberal immigration group.

    The paper wrote that McBride and others "encabezaron la parada" -- which Monroe translates as "headed the shutdown."

    Well, that's one translation. A more likely translation, according to common usage: "headed the parade." The article's author couldn't be reached for comment.

    McBride said he's being attacked because he's the closest of the three lesser-known candidates to beating front-running U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in the GOP primary.

    McBride, a personal-injury and sometime-immigration lawyer, said he appeared at the march because he was asked to act as a translator, not because he was an organizer or because he supports illegal immigration -- a topic that's a central focus of Republicans this campaign season.
    "Campaign immigration spat hinges on misunderstanding". See also "Harris' Rivals Test Odds" and "Collins, Monroe play catch-up for GOP Senate race".


    "Write-In Loophole 'Scam'"

    "Challenging the Write-In Loophole 'Scam'". See also "Law that closes primaries with write-ins challenged".


    Johnson

    "Hurricane keeps CFO candidate in political fray".


    "Herald ignores Jeb"

    Bolanos is whining:

    the most important Governor in the United States endorsed my candidacy for the Florida State Senate in the midst of a hotly contested primary. And The Miami Herald never printed a word.
    Putting aside the silly "the most important Governor in the United States" remark, the statement is simply untrue: see "Miami Herald ignores Jeb while Backing Villalobos". See also "Herald ignores Jeb".

    The Bolanos folks are furious about the Herald's endorsement of Villalobos:

    - Bolanos writes that "The [Miami] Herald loves Villalobos and despises the Governor". The Miami Herald "despises" Jebbie?

    - "'It is no surprise the liberal editorial board of the Miami Herald would join the trial lawyers and big unions in supporting the liberal in this campaign,' Bolaños said." The Miami Herald? "Liberal"?


    Lee Flip-Flops

    "Johnson's campaign has put together a website, The Man Behind The Mustache". See also "Cue the porn music in CFO race".

    Meanwhile, "Lee Goes on the Air".


    More GOP Mud

    "The growing political feud between congressional foes Tramm Hudson and Vern Buchanan took an odd twist Wednesday. Buchanan lashed out at his Republican rival in the 13th Congressional District race, saying Hudson once loaned him a lot of money and tried to land him a cushy job as ambassador to the Bahamas." "Buchanan: Hudson tried to help me land job". See also yesterday's "Buchanan says Hudson slings 'trash' against him" ("Buchanan lashed out at Tramm Hudson in closing remarks during a debate televised live on SNN Tuesday night, accusing his Republican primary opponent of spreading lies and negative campaigning.")


    Daily Slosberg

    "Perman's campaign shot into the political gossip columns last spring when state Rep. Irv Slosberg, a Democrat and Machek's political foe, announced Perman's intent to run in the primary at an April 12 breakfast. 'I think Mr. Perman stepping into the race, knowing Mr. Slosberg was behind it, irritated a lot of people,' said Machek, 68, a fifth-generation Floridian who speaks with an unhurried drawl. 'When you start dividing your own party, I don't think it's in good taste.'" "Old-style Florida vs. the new in 2-way race".


    Purchasing Power

    "Republican Doug Holder moved from the liberal hotbed of West Palm Beach to traditionally conservative Sarasota last August. A month later he filed paperwork to become a candidate for state representative. Now he's spent $171,000 of his own money -- and $240,198 total -- on his run for the District 70 seat that pays $30,996 a year. It's the second most spent by any state representative candidate in Florida." "District 70 candidate outspends others in legislative race".





    Gotcha?

    "Jim Davis was the only one of the four major candidates for governor without a like-minded political committee to launch attack ads. Until now, according to Democratic rival Rod Smith. Smith's campaign discovered that two Davis supporters set up a new committee called 21st Century Florida. The committee's president, Ed Dees of Plant City, leads the Gulf Coast Building Trades union. Committee secretary and treasurer Michael Joblove of Hollywood is a pro-Israel activist who recently defended Davis after he was the target of an attack ad himself." "Gotcha, Smith tells Davis". See also "Pro-Davis 527 Formed" and "A Pro-Davis 527?"


    A Miami Thing

    "Last week, Miami state Rep. Juan-Carlos 'J.C.' Planas succeeded in getting two of his Sept. 5 Republican primary opponents knocked off the ballot for not qualifying properly. One problem: Planas says the two ousted challengers aren't acting like noncandidates. They're still sending mailers to voters, he says, and, in one case, even suggesting that Planas is the one declared ineligible by the courts." "Candidate mailers irk incumbent Planas".


    Merry-Go-Round

    "Melissa Shuffield, spokeswoman for Florida Sen. Mel Martinez since his 2004 primary campaign, is leaving to work as Sen. John McCain's press secretary. The Miamian replaces Andrea Jones, who went to work as ABC News' media relations director in Washington after leaving McCain." "McCain's Florida footprints".


    NRA Hearts Campbell

    "The NRA Likes Skip Campbell, Too".


    Ad Watch

    See "Adwatch: Republican governor's primary" and "Adwatch: Democratic governor's primary".


    Siplin

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board argues that "Siplin should resign".


The Blog for Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gallagher Rips Crist

    In Gallagher's new ad,
    He accuses Crist of supporting a "liberal spending plan" and of being "pro-choice." Both charges are open to debate: Crist supports the voter-enacted class-size amendment which, after four years, has been far from big spending, but has the potential to cost the state much more in education money in the future. Gallagher wants the amendment changed so it costs the state less and provides districts with more flexibility.
    "Gallagher takes off the gloves". See also "Gallagher's new TV ad rips opponent", "Gallagher sharpens tone with new TV ad", "Gallagher blasts 'liberal' GOP rival in new ad", "TV Static", "Gallagher ad says Crist is pro-choice, supports gay unions" and "Gallagher ad attacks Crist as 'liberal'".

    And Charlie ain't happy: "Charlie Crist lashed out at Tom Gallagher on Tuesday after a new Gallagher campaign ad comparing the differences between the two Republican gubernatorial candidates began appearing on television.Gallagher, behind in the polls, is going 'down the path of desperate measures,' Crist's campaign said." "Gallagher's 'Compare' TV ad annoys Crist campaign"

    This is the work of Gallagher's new media team: "Gallagher Media Buy". The Buzz notes that "at Camp Crist there's some nervousness about how Murphy's presence might change the Gallagher message." "What's Fair and What's Negative?"


    Dem Debate

    "Jim Davis and Rod Smith just wrapped up an hour-long telephone debate put together by a coalition of activist groups, including the Florida Public Interest Foundation, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida."

    The clearest differences between the two came on the most complicated issue: property insurance. Smith called for having the state provide some coverage to all homeowners, while Davis focused on establishing an appointee to watchdog insurance companies when they look for rate increases. Davis continued to hammer at a law passed by the Florida Legislature in 2005 that says wind insurers are only responsible for damage caused by wind when a hurricane destroys a home. Davis called it a "loophole," said it gives insurance companies a way to avoid paying fair amounts to policyholders, and called it an example of the insurance's industry's influence in Tallahassee. Smith said overturning the law would only serve to drive rates higher and accused Davis of labeling it a loophole "because it fits a bumper sticker."

    Davis was more aggressive for most of the debate, repeatedly criticizing "this governor and this Legislature" -- and, by implication, Smith -- for passing a law that delayed cleanup standards for the Everglades, shifting the tax burden onto property owners, and failing to scrutinize government contracts, among a host of other issues.
    "Davis and Smith Tangle Over the Telephone". See also "Davis, Smith reveal similarities in conference call", "Smith, Davis try to sharpen their differences", "Hopefuls list health care, debt, seniors as priorities", "Phone Battle".

    "A fairly monotonous debate between the Democratic candidates for governor Tuesday ended on a sharp note, with state Sen. Rod Smith stepping up his criticism of U.S. Rep. Jim Davis for missing votes in Congress. ... 'This race is about leadership and effectiveness,' Smith said. 'The way to get things done is to go to work every day and do your job.'" "Smith steps up no-show attack". See also "Return to Sender" ("Even as Rod Smith was finishing up a telephone debate by criticizing Jim Davis' poor attendance record in Congress over the last two years, Smith's campaign was doing the same in a press release.")


    CFO Race

    "Senate president, state representative battling for Republican CFO nod".


    Charlie's Latest Publicity Stunt

    Charlie Crist has no compunction about using his office for grandstanding, sometimes pretending to be a civil rights warrior: for example, "Today, Crist will travel to Central Florida to announce results of his office’s 20-month investigation into the 1951 Christmas night bombing in Mims that claimed the lives of civil rights pioneers Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette." On other occasions Charlie holds himself out as a consumer warrior:

    "As Floridians struggled to recover from eight hurricanes over the past two years, they faced a new threat from merchants making a fast buck.

    Prices of gasoline, hotel rooms and even bottled water shot up, prompting consumers to flood the state with more than 13,000 complaints of price gouging.

    They called a toll-free number activated by Attorney General Charlie Crist, who promised to bring the scam artists to justice.

    But Crist's office found that fewer than one of every 100 complaints warranted a full investigation. Crist's army of attorneys launched formal investigations in 81 cases."
    "Price-gouging cases bring few lawsuits".


    Jebbites Collect Cash for Villalobos Attack

    "The Committee for Florida Justice Reform went on a fund-raising binge last week and raised $658,000. That's way short of the group's goal of $1-million, according to several lobbyists who were solicited to make contributions, but it's plenty to make life difficult for Miami Sen. Alex Villalobos, which is one of the committee's goals." "(Soft) Money to Burn".


    Collins Ad

    "Ad watch: LeRoy Collins, U.S. Senate candidate".


    Poor Thing

    "Buchanan says Hudson slings 'trash' against him".


    But He'll Take The Wingnut Vote

    Jim King has a problem with the heart and soul of his party: "King Snubs Terry". In the meantime, "Terry Continues to Wage Web Campaign".


    Jebbie Speaks

    "Jeb: 'Shame' on Siplin".


    "Jeb!" Watch

    Some are less than impressed with Jebbie's latest attempt to get some national exposure. "I can just see Jeb's wide, glossed-over, puppy dog eyes, looking up at older bro Georgie for a great nod of approval."

    Under the first "lesson" Bush and Bloomberg propose in regard to proficiency standards, the strong statement is made that "We need a uniform measuring stick." Wow boys, that's deep. But how about a uniform playing field?

    There's no denying the funding gap in the United States. According to an article written by Kevin Carey for The Education Trust — an organization promoting high academic achievements for all students, focusing on those most often left behind in education (African American, Latino, American Indian and low-income students) — a report from 2001 showed a funding gap of more than $1,000 per student nationwide. The report also showed a similar disparity between white and minority students.

    In another study, which looked at the total amount of state and local revenue 49 state's districts received for the 2001-02 school year, in 25 states the school districts with the highest poverty got fewer resources than the lowest-poverty districts.

    Besides the atrocity of funding not being equal, it seems we are forgetting to acknowledge the fact that there are many added costs of educating children in poverty. Carey writes in his article, "School funding experts generally agree that high-poverty schools need more resources to meet the same standards."
    "Bush posse not looking out for kids".


    Endorsements

    SPT - "Campbell for Democrats" and "Lee for Republicans".


    Judicial Candidates Roll In Mud

    "Barbs fly in circuit judge race".


    Hispanic Forum

    "The forum lured Democrat Jim Davis and Republican Tom Gallagher, but many who attended said they were disappointed not to see Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Rod Smith. Max Linn, a Reform Party candidate who said it was his first political forum, offered some of the more off-the-cuff remarks." "3 candidates debate Hispanic issues".


    "Davis unveils plan for elderly"

    "Jim Davis' campaign stopped in Tampa this morning, where the Democratic candidate for governor delivered a speech to the Florida Council of Aging. Davis outlined what he's billing as a 'Security for Our Seniors' plan that includes, among other provisions, buying prescription drugs in bulk along with other states and from Canada, funding embryonic stem-cell research and tailoring hurricane-evacuation plans for seniors." "Davis Courts Seniors with 'Security' Plan". See also "Davis unveils plan for elderly". More on Davis' plan here (.pdf).


    The Comedy Show Continues

    - Rodriguez-Gate: "Mystery Harris staffer speaks!"

    - "Harris Bucks GOP, Other Naysayers".

    - "If you didn't see the article earlier, Katherine Harris told the St. Petersburg Times that her staff told her not to visit newspaper editorial boards across the state. But on Tuesday, the day the article ran, Chris Ingram (who recently left Harris' campaign and now works for rival LeRoy Collins) said it was not the staff's fault." "Former Harris staffer disputes claims".


    "Jeb!" Shill Getting Desperate

    "A man in the suit appeared outside Villalobos' Kendall office earlier today after the Villalobos' camp failed to agree with a debate offer by the Frank Bolanos camp. Villalobos cited scheduling conflicts and the fact that the debate wouldn't be in the district." "Finger-lickin' silly".


    Using Their Positions

    "Less than three weeks before the Sept. 5 Republican primary, the lastest moves by Crist and Gallagher underscore how these candidates maneuver their powerful statewide posts to fortify their bids for the state’s top job."

    Gallagher, the state’s chief financial officer, unveiled a $250 million state home inspection and repair program to blunt hurricane damage that features his photo prominently in its brochure for applicants and also on its web site.

    Crist, the attorney general, dispatched a deputy to argue against an attempt by Florida Power & Light to add $10 million to its fuel surcharge to develop an underground gas storage facility.

    Today, Crist will travel to Central Florida to announce results of his office’s 20-month investigation into the 1951 Christmas night bombing in Mims that claimed the lives of civil rights pioneers Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette.
    "All Campaign, All The Time".


    Early Voting

    "Counties Open More Polls Early".


    Huh?

    "OK, so now it turns out class size may not be that big a deal to Gov. Jeb Bush anymore."

    On Monday, Bolanos said he does not support repealing the costly class size amendment first approved by voters in 2002. In the past two years, Villalobos has been one of the crucial votes in the Legislature to kill off proposals to undo the amendment. One of those proposals was crafted by Bush himself.

    Yet Bush said Bolanos' decision is not surprising to him. "That doesn't change my support for Frank Bolanos, not at all," the governor said.

    Bush said that the more important vote during the annual legislative session was the one Villalobos took against a proposal to ask voters to preserve private school voucher programs that have been a key component of his A+ education plan.
    "Bush OK with Bolanos position on class size".


    States' Rights

    "Governors angered by Guard plan".

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in testimony on Capitol Hill in October, argued against federalizing the National Guard after natural disasters.

    Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush’s brother, along with the Pennsylvania and Idaho governors, said much the same thing. Jeb Bush pointedly said that disasters can be handled "without the federal government stepping on state’s rights."
    Except, of course, the Florida 2000 disaster.

The Blog for Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Crist is a tough target"

    "With Republican Charlie Crist looking poised to be his party's nominee for governor, Florida Democrats are focusing on him as a likely opponent this fall. And they are worried. Crist's middle-of-the-road politics defuses several education, environmental and social issues that Democrats had hoped to use for rallying their key supporters heading toward November. Instead, to many Democrats, Crist's positions on class size, vouchers, abortion, offshore oil drilling, stem-cell research and even same-sex civil unions sound an awful lot like their own, making the prospective Republican nominee a tough target." "Crist is a tough target".


    Schiavo Judge

    The wingnuts are after Judge Greer: "Schiavo Judge's Campaign Under FEC Review This Week". For some background see "Schiavo Judge's Political Ad Headed To Probable Cause Hearing" and "Another Reward For Schiavo Judge?"


    Crook? What Crook?

    "Attorney General Charlie Crist said he doesn't remember Bruce Carlton Jordan, a former funeral-lobby director who helped get the future governor frontrunner to attend an Orlando event when Gov. Jeb Bush unexpectedly cancelled. The Miami Herald reported last week that Jordan, a twice-convicted thief, is now a travel aide for U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris. In the article Daniel Perrin, incoming president of the Florida Funeral Directors Association, recalled the time Jordan helped bring Crist to an event. Carlton was fired from the lobby in 2003 when he was caught stealing money from it." "Crist: Bruce who?"


    Awaiting Decision

    "A ruling is expected on an appeal of a new state law that some say tied their hands." "Voter-aid groups awaiting decision".


    That's our "Jeb!"

    That's our "Jeb!", AWOL in the Bush family tradition. Instead of doing his job,

    Bush spent the day Monday on a campaign sweep through the Interstate 4 corridor, making stops in both Tampa Bay and Orlando. Bush insisted that Florida's economy has been aided by his eight years in office during which he and the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed through tax cuts and set aside money for economic development.

    But while Bush was busy touting his party's message in voter-rich Central Florida, he missed a meeting in Columbus, GA. to discuss water issues with Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama and Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia. Alabama, Georgia and Florida have been at odds for years over the flow of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river systems.
    "Bush a no-show for water wars talk".


    Siplin Goes Down

    "Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, was just found guilty of charges that he required his aides to work on his re-election campaign while being paid by the state." "Jury Finds Siplin Guilty of Grand Theft". See also "Siplin may face 5 years in jail for felony theft", "Siplin guilty of misusing public money" and Senator guilty of misusing public money


    Murphy To The Rescue?

    "The man who helped Jeb Bush twice win election as Florida's governor has committed to helping Republican Tom Gallagher's struggling bid for the same job. Political strategist Mike Murphy, whose recent victories include helping Arnold Schwarzenegger become California's governor, confirmed Monday that he is helping Gallagher on a volunteer basis for the final three weeks before the Sept. 5 Republican gubernatorial primary." "Talented old hand to give Gallagher effort a new push". See also "Gallagher changes media consultants".


    HD 69

    "Insurance, schools top District 69 debate".


    Miami Bound

    "Alex Sink and Jim Davis appeared before more than 100 Miami area Democrats on Monday night, casting themselves as the candidates who can recapture some of the state's top political posts for the party." "Sink, Davis Campaign In Miami".


    FUBAR

    "The Senate candidate says her staff earlier advised her not to seek newspapers' endorsements. Now she's changed her mind." "Harris tries late to get editors to back her".


    CD 11

    "Lacking significant differences in their stances on the nation's challenges, five Democrats trying to replace Jim Davis in Congress emphasized their backgrounds during a debate Monday. The League of Women Voters debate will be broadcast on city and county cable channels four times before the primary on Sept. 5." "5 Candidates For Davis' Seat Stress Their Experience".


    CD 13

    "The race to replace Katherine Harris in Congress has turned vitriolic. The two millionaire candidates who tout themselves as the front-runners in the Republican primary race for the 13th Congressional District seat are attacking one another over their business ethics. And one candidate has made the unusual move of purchasing a Web site using his rival's name." "House candidate takes case against his opponent online". See also "Candidates unearth history for mud to sling".

    See the handiwork here: "www.therealvern.com".


    Endorsements

    SPT - "Castor for Democrats", "Penberthy for Democrats" and Bilirakis for Republicans.

    SS - "Senate 32" ("Ben Graber") and "House 78" ("Richard Machek's record recommends him.")


    Pre-K

    "Children's Campaign wants concrete solutions from the gubernatorial candidates about how they'd improve the program." "Group demands answers on pre-K".


    Smith's Soft Money

    "Jim Davis is a member of Congress. Rod Smith is not. And that one distinction could prove critical in the Democratic primary election for governor in three weeks by allowing Smith to use hundreds of thousands of dollars — or even millions — in state party 'soft money' for his television ads." "'Soft money' advantage in TV ads goes to Smith".


    Corporate Welfare

    "It prompts a controversial question as the county seeks to capitalize on The Scripps Research Institute's progress toward building a Florida campus: Should more of the public purse be used to bankroll new industry in South Florida? The Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies wants $21 million in county money to put its headquarters in Boca Raton, where at least 189 jobs would be located. And Scripps and IBM are seeking $9 million to help establish the world's fastest supercomputer to battle avian flu. That project would mean only 42 jobs, but it's high on prestige." "PBC commissioners questioning $30 million in incentives for biotech companies".


    True Colors

    "From questions posed on the campaign trail to talk radio, many Hispanic Republicans are worried the 'mean-spirited' discussion about immigration could harm their party."

    The caller to the talk-radio show discussing ''the illegal-alien invasion'' listed the three strikes against Republican Will McBride's campaign for the U.S. Senate:

    "You're a lawyer for one thing. You're young. And you're Hispanic."

    That last comment troubled McBride -- partly because it's true. For the 34-year-old son of a Mexican field worker has found he's campaigning against GOP icon Katherine Harris, two other little-known candidates and an insidious challenge: the "offensive" tone over immigration from a minority of Republicans.

    And it worries not just McBride, but also Republican leaders seeking to protect the GOP's historic gains with Hispanics. Polls show Hispanics nationwide moved 32 percentage points in the GOP's favor over the past three presidential elections -- the nation's largest demographic electoral shift.
    "Election immigration debate turning 'offensive'".


    Private Meeting

    "Some elected officials are thinking twice about attending a private breakfast next week to welcome a group of Republicans scouting Tampa as a potential site for the 2008 GOP convention. After being told by The Tampa Tribune that the media and the public cannot attend, several elected officials said they were concerned the private gathering might violate state open-meeting laws." "RNC Convention Event Hits Snag".


    The Insurance Thing

    "CFO candidates spar on insurance". See also "Candidates for CFO discuss state's role in insurance crisis".


    Another Rate Hike

    "In a move that's becoming something of a painful pattern for homeowners, Florida's fifth-largest insurer hopes to raise prices soon after imposing another rate hike. United Services Automobile Association, or USAA, last week asked state regulators for permission to raise rates by 40 percent statewide. That increase, if approved, would take effect Jan. 1." "USAA latest insurer to seek 2nd rate hike".


    Florida A Majority-Minority State

    - "The youngest Anglo children in Hillsborough County and across Florida are now a minority, foreshadowing the day when Florida - like four states now - becomes a majority-minority state." "White Children Now In Minority". See also "Hispanics lead minority boom".

    - "New Census numbers show a continued surge in minorities in Broward, and dwindling numbers of white non-Hispanics in Broward and Miami-Dade, particularly among children under 5." "Minority populations booming in Broward".

    - "Every population group is growing steadily in the Orlando area, but minorities are gradually outpacing whites to give rise to a more-diverse region."

    The picture that emerges from Census Bureau figures out today shows that minorities now make up one-third of Central Florida's population, surging to 33 percent last year from about 26 percent in 2000.

    The local estimates reflect shifts at the state and national levels.

    In Florida, the move to more diverse communities comes primarily from the continued growth of Hispanics -- a combination of people from outside the country, migrants from Puerto Rico and larger U.S. cities, and a higher rate of births.

    The census estimates that more than 3.4 million people now live in Central Florida. In the seven counties, Hispanics had become the largest minority group in the last census in 2000. But their expansion did not stop there. The latest estimates show that Hispanics added another 181,000 people since then.

    The 49 percent increase puts Central Florida's Latino population at about 549,000, or 16 percent of the overall population. Asians grew 72 percent, to more than 104,000. The number of blacks rose 26 percent to more than 473,000. Whites grew at a slower rate of 11 percent, to about 2.4 million.
    "33% of us are minorities, and numbers are growing".


    HD 86

    "Election 2006, House District 86: Democrats align on issues, differ on experience".


    Klein

    "Democratic congressional challenger Ron Klein campaigned as a consumer advocate Monday, calling for tax relief for homeowners socked by insurance hikes and airing a new ad that says he'll "take on the big oil, insurance and drug companies who call the shots in Washington."" "Klein seeks tax relief against home insurance".


    Daily Slosberg

    "You would think that, after three terms in the state House, Irv Slosberg would have plenty to talk about when selling voters on why they should promote him to the Florida Senate over a political novice." "Politics".


    Villalobos

    "Negotiations for a GOP debate between candidates in Florida's toughest Senate race fell apart Monday, but shorter joint appearances have led to plenty of exchanges."

    The debate dates are falling through, the gloves are coming off -- and the chicken suits are coming out in Florida's toughest Senate race.

    On Monday, Sen. Alex Villalobos and challenger Frank Bolanos couldn't agree to debate at Miami-Dade's Republican Executive Committee this week -- prompting the Bolanos camp to buy a $180 chicken suit that they plan to have a supporter wear to mock Villalobos at public functions.

    The failed debate negotiations came as Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Bolaños. At issue for Bush, who once spoke highly of Villalobos: class size and publicly funded vouchers for private-school students, two Bush legacy issues that Villalobos helped scuttle in the Legislature, earning him the support of the teachers' union.

    Villalobos said he wants to debate Bolaños at community events in the West Dade district. But Bolaños supporters, who already had a bad experience at a Kendall event packed with Villalobos supporters, say they want a forum with just Republicans, said Bolanos spokesman Michael Caputo, who bought the chicken suit after failing to reach a deal with Villalobos strategist David Custin.
    "Rivals disagree on debate". See also "Governor opposes incumbent in GOP state senate primary".


    Smith Moves South

    "Smith travels to South Florida to rally Democratic activists".


    Tough Weekend

    "No matter how upbeat he seemed Monday, Jim Davis is coming off a tough weekend. Several major newspapers, including the St. Petersburg Times, endorsed his opponent in the Democratic primary for governor." "Davis on Endorsements".


    Smith

    "After he put Danny Rolling on death row for the murders of five Gainesville college students, Rod Smith often was stopped on the street by strangers wanting to shake his hand. People applauded when he entered restaurants and public meetings. Then he went home to visit his father, who imparted a little advice: 'You're not nearly as smart as people say you are right now, but you're not nearly as stupid as they'll say you are the next time you mess up.'" "Smith counts on folksiness for votes".


The Blog for Monday, August 14, 2006

Jebbie's Way or the Highway

    "Confirming what everybody pretty much knew, Jeb Bush comes out in support of Miami-Dade school board member Frank Bolanos unseating Republican state Sen. Alex Villalobos, who lost his leadership position after bucking party leaders on vouchers and repealing the class size mandate". "Jeb Backs Bolanos". See also "Bush Plays Favorites", "Jeb endorses Bolaños, cuts ad" and "Bush endorses Bolaños in closely-watched race".


    Gallagher Wants To Debate

    "Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher wrote Attorney General Charlie Crist a letter Monday (delivered simultaneously to the Crist campaign, Republican Party officials and the Florida press corps) asking Crist to reconsider participating in a pair of candidate forums this week in Orlando and West Palm Beach." "Gallagher to Crist: Debate Me". See also "Opponents say Crist's single status is an issue".


    Just Say No

    "Tom Gallagher presumably wanted the endorsement of The Palm Beach Post and other 'liberal' media when he appeared at the newspapers’ editorial boards. But now, after The Palm Beach Post, The St. Petersburg Times and others endorsed Charlie Crist to be the GOP nominee for governor Sunday, Gallagher apparently has a different view." "Gallagher - Just Say No To The 'Liberal' Media". See also "Papering Over the Endorsements", "That 'Liberal' St. Pete Times" and "Gallagher: Crist can have the newspaper endorsements". See generally "Crist, Smith Win First Round of Newspaper Endorsements".

    Well, there's always this: "Dobson Endorses Gallagher".


    Getting Desperate

    "On the campaign trail, U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris says Democrat Bill Nelson is so liberal that even his own family is turning on him."



    Proof, she says, came at the Wausau Possum Festival two weeks ago in rural Washington County in the Florida Panhandle, where Nelson's family roots lie. That's the county where his mother, Nanny Myrle Nelson, grew up.

    "I even had Bill Nelson's relatives coming up saying: We love him but, hey, he's not voting and doesn't vote our conscience in Washington, D.C., and we are going to support you," Harris said during a speech to the Collier County Republican Party last week.

    Not so, says Farrell Nelson, Bill's 94-year-old uncle, who lives on a farm 7 miles "as a crow flies" from Chipley, in Washington County. He said there are surely distant relatives throughout the county, but he'd be surprised if they'd turn on their own blood.

    "I don't think any of them are gonna vote for her," said Farrell Nelson, who lives on Farrell Nelson Road.

    It may seem unbelievable that Nelson's own family is voting against him, but Jennifer Bau, one of the 22,000 people who live in Chipley, says it's true. Although Nelson said he's never heard of Bau, she says they are distant cousins. And she said she's one of those who told Harris she'll support her over Nelson.
    "Nelson relatives in Harris' corner?"


    Davis Courts Black Vote

    "Looking to make inroads with black voters -- a crucial constituency in Democratic primaries -- Jim Davis this morning cobbled together a lengthy list of African-American supporters who have endorsed his campaign for governor. It comes just a couple of weeks after his primary rival Rod Smith did the same." "Davis, Smith Woo Black Voters". See also "Haitian-American politicians for Davis".


    Schiavo

    "The husband of Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman whose plight fueled fierce debates in Tallahassee and Washington last year, is headlining an Aug. 19 fundraiser for Florida House candidate Martin Kiar." "Michael Schiavo on the campaign trail".


    U.S. Senate GOP Primary

    The St Pete Times endorses: "Collins for Republicans". See also "Collins Picks Up Major Newspaper Endorsement".


    Hispanic Base

    "Gubernatorial candidates are expected to come to Orlando on Tuesday to speak to the growing constituency of Hispanics in Central Florida. Three of the four men vying for the state's top electoral spot [(all but Crist)] confirmed with organizers that they are planning to attend the first Hispanic forum of its nature in the region." "Hispanic vote lures hopefuls for governor to Orlando".


    Biotech

    "It's decision time on biotech giant's site".


    Bolaños, Villalobos Dustup

    "A Sunday morning talk-show appearance stirred up differing perspectives on a potential debate between the Republican candidates in Florida's toughest state Senate race."

    On WPLG-Channel 10's This Week in South Florida, Republican challenger and former Miami-Dade School Board member Frank Bolaños opened by saying he looked forward to an upcoming "full-course" debate with state Sen. Alex Villalobos at the Miami-Dade County Republican Executive Committee meeting on Thursday.

    The comment referred to an Aug. 11 letter from Mary Ellen Miller, the committee's county chairwoman, offering the opportunity for a debate at the group's general meeting, "provided it is in complete agreement."

    But Villalobos said after the show that Bolaños' comments were "dishonest and deceitful" because Villalobos has yet to agree to the debate because specific scheduling and format details remain undecided.

    "Maybe he should show up at the debates in the community unless he's afraid to because he doesn't live in the district," Villalobos said.
    "Political beat".


    Klein-Shaw

    "State Sen. Ron Klein, the Democrat who's challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Chaw, got a boost today from one of Shaw's Democratic colleagues. U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, stumped with Klein in Deerfield Beach, where Klein touted his plan to help ease the cost of windstorm insurance premiums. Israel's visit coincided with the release of Klein's newest campaign commercial, which also hit the air today. In it, Klein boasts of his efforts in the state Senate to write consumer-friendly hurricane legislation. He also pledges he will stand up to 'big oil, insurance companies and drug companies.'" "Another TV ad in the Shaw/Klein race".


    GOP Positioning

    "Positioning the state's next leaders".


    HD 86

    "Even as State Rep. Anne Gannon pondered her political future last year, the players were lining up, eager to fill the void the outgoing incumbent would leave in this Democratic stronghold. The race to replace Gannon in District 86 has attracted a diverse crowd: two former legislators from the Northeast, a criminal defense attorney and an ambitious 25-year-old. Whoever wins the Sept. 5 primary will claim the seat because there are no Republican challengers." "Five Democrats running for state House seat 86".


    Crotty Still Under Scrutiny

    "When a special prosecutor cleared him of criminal wrongdoing in a lucrative private land deal, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty declared it was "time to move on" and put the controversy behind him. But that has proved tougher than Crotty hoped. And now he faces a new investigation into the same land deal by the state Ethics Commission, expected to begin this month." "Crotty's land-deal fight hits Round 2".


    "Davis fighting to make 'what's right possible'"

    "To Davis, what's right is funding the 2002 voter mandate to reduce class sizes in public schools, naming an insurance 'advocate general' in the governor's office, raising teacher salaries, forbidding use of public money for private-school tuition vouchers and fighting offshore oil drilling. He remembers fondly the community health purchasing alliances championed by Gov. Lawton Chiles to help small businesses provide health insurance for employees, and calls for better growth management policies statewide." "Davis fighting to make 'what's right possible'".


    Dem AG Race

    "The race to win the Democratic primary for attorney general is a tale of two political extremes."

    On one side there's Walter "Skip" Campbell. The Coral Springs lawyer has been a state senator for 10 years, is one of only two Democrats to chair a committee in the Republican-controlled Senate, is the Democratic leader pro tempore and has collected more than $800,000 in campaign contributions.

    On the other side there's Merrilee Ehrlich. The Fort Lauderdale lawyer once ran for a judgeship in Broward County — and lost — and her only campaign contribution has been her own $10,000, which mostly went to cover her qualifying fee.

    The overwhelming difference has led many to wonder about Ehrlich's true intentions for running.

    Campbell said he was approached by Broward political consultant Norman Leonard, who insisted that Campbell needed a primary opponent to raise his name recognition around the state. Campbell said he didn't want one.

    Others wonder whether Campbell orchestrated Ehrlich's run himself to get a few extra stories in the media and boost his name recognition by having his name on the Sept. 5 primary ballot.
    "Democratic leader dwarfs foe in status, cash in attorney general's primary race".


    Alternaive Fuels

    "Florida farmers asked to grow corn for fuel".


    CFO

    "Their party has a banker running for state financial officer, and most, but not all, unite behind her." "Democrats sniff victory in race".


    Task Forces

    "Affordable housing, property insurance, hurricane preparedness and a handful of other issues will be delved into in the coming months by appointed groups of lawmakers, industry representatives and citizens before the Legislature convenes in March." "Michael Peltier: Task forces in legislative process".


    New Voting Technology

    "New technology awaits local voters".


    Prison Fees

    "For years, Florida officials have espoused the notion that prison should be as miserable as possible. Some state facilities have eliminated face-to-face visits. Educational programs have been cut. And the cost of being incarcerated continues to rise: Inmates must buy personal items from a canteen at ludicrously high prices. Phone calls from prisons are on a collect-only basis -- again, at a significant upcharge -- and prisoners are charged for any medical care (though care is not denied for indigent inmates)." "Raising prison fees punishes inmates' families".


    "Jeb!" Writes A Letter

    "How to Help Our Students".


    'Glades

    "Improvement that still fails to solve a problem is just that. News that water flowing out of the Everglades Agricultural Area has showed "significant improvement" in phosphorus reductions for the 11th consecutive year doesn't mean that the state has solved the problem of making water clean enough to send to the Everglades." "No Everglades victory yet".