Crist in "free-fall"
Adam Smith: "Crist, 53, is in a free-fall among likely Republican voters, say Crist supporters and detractors alike, while Rubio's trajectory is heading straight up. Crist's credibility among hard-core Republicans is practically gone, they claim, while the contest's ever-growing national attention ensures Rubio won't be as overwhelmingly outspent."
It's nine months before the primary — way too early for predictions. What's clear, though, is that Crist's long-held image as a man with remarkable gut instincts for politics and people is shot."Five ways Crist can beat Rubio".
It took him way too long to wake up to Rubio, and then he kept handing ammunition to critics, such as lamely insisting he did not endorse the $787 billion stimulus package that he campaigned for.
It's a pretty strong sign he's in trouble when the once-inevitable Senate nominee starts airing radio ads nearly a year out touting his conservatism. Crist's mostly self-inflicted wounds are real but not necessarily fatal.
Rest of the nation to subsidize ...
Florida's low tax, public irresponsibility? See "Florida to seek $1 billion in U.S. education grants".
Miami politics don't play in real world
"New Florida Sen. George LeMieux's first foray into foreign relations has drawn brickbats from former high-ranking State Department officials who say his effort to block the Obama administration's new ambassador to Brazil is damaging U.S. relations with Latin America."
"This continuing, prolonged vacancy sends an unintended signal that the United States does not consider Brazil an important relationship,'' the nine former assistant secretaries of state wrote in a letter to LeMieux, urging him to lift his opposition to nominee Tom Shannon.The "maestro" - in reality a second tier Palm Beach lwayer - is obviously out of his league in his attempt to translate his cheesy South Florida RPOFer politics to DC:
Shannon had triggered the ire of South Florida Cuban Americans who believed he wasn't tough enough on the Castro regime during his tenure as a former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs under President George W. Bush.
Senate staffers suggested Wednesday that LeMieux -- who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to fill the seat vacated by Mel Martinez -- could be trying to burnish his Cuba credentials to help Crist, who faces a Cuban-American opponent in the Republican primary for the Senate seat.
The nine former secretaries, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents, noted that Shannon had been approved by the Foreign Relations Committee -- of which LeMieux is not a member. Shannon was confirmed by a 14-to-4 vote."Sen. LeMieux blasted for blocking diplomat".
The letter to LeMieux follows a rebuke from Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who -- without naming LeMieux -- last week suggested "unnecessary delays'' in confirming the "outstanding and highly regarded career diplomat'' were hurting efforts to work with Brazil.
"He has every right, if he doesn't think this individual is qualified, to go to the floor and make his case, but why should one freshman senator with no background in Latin America, no background in Brazil, decide the Senate can't vote on the president's nominee?'' said Bernard Aronson, who served as an assistant secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, and signed the letter. "It's really a slap in the face to Latin America. You don't see nominees to France, Germany, China, held up by a single senator. It would be an insult.''
Florida's 15-point failure
Pamela Hasterok: "When is a 15-point lead a failure?"
When it's half what it used to be and held by Charlie Crist."Conservative Republicans have the knives out for Gov. Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate. They're delighting in the latest poll numbers showing Crist up by only 15 points over Marco Rubio, former speaker of the Florida House, instead of the 29-point advantage he held this spring."
Some party leaders contend Crist is facing opposition not because of his moderate policies, but because he's shown a lack of leadership handling the state's money woes. If he had only cut government services more, he'd be in much better stead."Crist feels conservative heat".
Others say Crist is being reviled simply for being the governor of a state suffering through its worst financial crisis in modern memory. Floridians are losing homes, jobs and income and they blame him for it. And, as Rubio won't let anyone forget, Crist embraced Obama when he visited in February, making the governor suspect.
But those who underestimate Crist usually pay. In the past 17 years he's won every race but one and that was against the legendary Bob Graham. He beat Tom Gallagher, the establishment choice to be the gubernatorial nominee, by 30 points. He out-works, out-charms and out-raises almost every opponent he's ever had.
But if this race is a litmus test for conservatives, a principled stand for how far right a candidate must fall on the Republican spectrum, it's also a stand for the party's moderates. They've been shunted aside for a decade, marginalized by a strong Christian conservative voting bloc. Crist restored their stature and increased their effectiveness from Tallahassee to Washington.
Will moderates allow the vocal few to return Florida's GOP to the extreme ideology of governors past?
If they do, they risk a seat in the U.S. Senate.
"Florida Keys wild bird center struggles to make ends meet".
"The state GOP executive committee is huddling in a private meeting with RPOF Chairman Jim Greer appease demands from numerous county chairmen that he back down from what critics say are heavy-handed tactics." "GOP huddle hush-hush".
"Posey joins Treasure Coast Republicans who say stimulus package jobs numbers incorrect".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Two weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp rejected former Palm Beach County Commissioner Tony Masilotti's plea to get out of prison early but threw in an aside: the judge's personal belief that the law that put Tony away is unconstitutional." "Verdict in: Corruption clear".
Bill Cotterell: "Author takes a fresh look at Collins' legacy".
"State House Speaker Pro Tempore Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, confirmed Wednesday that he will not run for the state Senate when his current term expires. Reagan cited a compelling reason for passing up the opportunity to run for the Florida Legislature’s upper chamber: his friendship with an already-announced candidate, state Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton." "Reagan to pass on state Senate".
We don' need no stinkin' HCR
"The March of Dimes released its second Premature Birth Report Card on Tuesday. In it, Florida and 17 other states as well as Puerto Rico got the lowest grade possible for percentage of early deliveries. The state has logged a 13.8 percent rate of premature births. The national rate of premature births was 12.7 percent, statistics through 2007 show." "Florida gets F on early births".
"A Boca Raton attorney has filed to be the first Republican in 12 years to challenge for the historically Democratic state House District 78. Meanwhile, Boca Raton chiropractor Steve Perman is going to take a third run for the seat as the freshman incumbent, Rep. Kevin Rader, has already set his sights on the Florida Senate." "Republican attorney gunning to make history in House District 78 seat".
"Tampa businessman Frank Sanchez’s nomination to be under secretary of international trade has hit a snag. One source is saying it's because of an investigation into the now-defunct Renaissance Steel, where he was CEO. But the Commerce Department says that’s not the issue."
LeMieux says he is unaware of what is holding up Sanchez’s nomination, but the Huffington Post reported late last month that Sanchez’ nomination is being delayed by Republican staff serving under Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee."Healthcare Reform Stalling Frank Sanchez's Nomination?" Related: "Obama backer Frank Sanchez and defunct steel company part of federal inquiry into $700,000 grant".
Citing sources in the private sector, the weekly newsletter “Inside U.S. Trade” speculated this past August that Sanchez’ holdup may be related to his role as CEO of the now-defunct Tampa company Renaissance Steel. The Department of Health and Human Services has been investigating whether the company may have misused federal funds it received from a non-profit group in 2005.
Mike Mayo: "Before the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm became known as the possible scene of one of the biggest financial crimes in Broward County history, it was touched by the tragedy of violent crime — the March 2008 murder of attorney Melissa Britt Lewis.
At first, police theorized that she was a random victim, followed to her Plantation home by a robber upon leaving a supermarket. There were signs of a struggle in her garage, and her body was found in a nearby canal two days later."Does lawyer's murder need fresh look after Rothstein allegations?". See also "Holy Cross Hospital spurns $1 million Rothstein donation".
Then the official version changed upon the arrest of Tony Villegas, the then-estranged husband of Lewis' best friend, Debra Villegas, RRA's chief operating officer. Tony Villegas allegedly killed Lewis because he was jealous of how close the women had become, investigators said.
Tony Villegas, a conductor for Florida East Coast Railway, has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial, held without bail for 20 months in the Broward County Main Jail.
Now that federal authorities are investigating firm co-founder Scott Rothstein and Debra Villegas for their possible roles in a suspected $1 billion Ponzi scheme, is it time to go back to re-write on Lewis' murder once again?
Long walk home
"Crist ordered an internal investigation Wednesday into travel by Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Frank Peterman, who has often commuted home to St. Petersburg on weekends." "DJJ chief under investigation". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Peterman travel tab deserves inquiry".
"The Kottkamps have rescued three dogs from the county dump near their home, where people often abandon pets. They named two of them George and Jeb—after the Bush brothers—and another Buddy. George went to an adoptive home, but the Kottkamps have kept Jeb and Buddy, both yellow Labrador retrievers." "Florida attorney general race could be contest of dog lovers".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Retailers call for rollback of hike in unemployment tax".