"Former state Rep. Loranne Ausley announced her candidacy for chief financial officer today. Ausley, D-Tallahassee, had been running for the Big Bend state Senate seat of term-limited Sen. Al Lawson. Switching to the statewide CFO race, Ausley picked up quick endorsements from Sen. Bill Nelson, CFO Alex Sink, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and ex-Sen. Bob Graham." "Update: Ausley announces candidacy for CFO".
Meantime, "Bob Butterworth, a Florida Democratic icon who served as attorney general, is backing Senate President Jeff Atwater’s statewide campaign for chief financial officer."
Atwater’s campaign sent out a press release about Butterworth and other Democratic supporters today, the same day Democrat Loranne Ausley, a former state representative, announced her candidacy."UPDATE: Democrat Butterworth endorses Republican Atwater for CFO…in the primary".
Butterworth said there may have been some confusion about his endorsement of Atwater. When he wrote a $500 check to the campaign three months ago, Butterworth said, there wasn’t a Democrat in the race and he didn’t specify that it was for the primary. ...
Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican, also nailed down endorsements from three other Democrats today - James Harold Thompson, Lee Moffitt and Hyatt Brown, all former House Speakers. Moffitt and Thompson are now lobbyists.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, also a Democrat, is also supporting Atwater.
"Symbolic blow for Crist"
"Among the many indignities Gov. Charlie Crist has faced over the last several rocky months, this one hit home."
Republican Party activists in his own county of Pinellas, many of whom have been campaigning alongside Crist for years, on Monday overwhelmingly declared that they prefer Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate. The 106-54 "straw poll" vote is officially meaningless, but it's a symbolic blow for Crist."Crist loses straw poll to Rubio in his home county". See also "Crist not concerned with poll results" and "Crist campaign said Rubio is a ‘road to nowhere’".
After all, many of the people lining up to cast secret ballots against Crist on Monday night at Tucson's restaurant were the party activists who know him best. ...
The Crist campaign downplayed the significance of Monday night's vote, just as it has with the more than a dozen similarly lopsided straw polls taken in recent months by other county GOP organizations and clubs across the state.
Local climate change prep
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Local governments right to put climate change preparations on front burner".
Sink outpacing McCollum in $ race
"In the race for Florida governor, Republican Bill McCollum posted a good fundraising quarter, but Democrat Alex Sink had a better year."
McCollum reported $1.4 million in contributions in the final three months of 2009, giving him $3.3 million raised so far."Alex Sink takes fundraising lead for year".
Sink raised $1.05 million in the three-month period for a total so far of $5.1 million, and $4.3 million cash on hand in the race to succeed Gov. Charlie Crist, who is leaving after one term to run for U.S. Senate.
"Two members of Florida's congressional delegation showed up Monday to deliver a bipartisan blasting of proposed constitutional amendments designed to ban redrawing political districts to favor or hurt incumbents or political parties."
U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, and Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, argued the two amendments heading to voters in November could make it harder for minorities to get elected to Congress or the Legislature."Bipartisan duo blasts efforts they say will destroy minority congressional districts".
"It is nice to think you can take politics out of politics. Not possible," said Brown, an African-American whose district stretching from Jacksonville to Walt Disney World was drawn by the courts in 1992 after state lawmakers' maps couldn't meet legal muster.
Brown told a joint House-Senate committee that with population gains, Florida stands to pick up at least one seat — giving the state 26 in the U.S. House — and at least six of those should be held by minorities. The Florida delegation now includes three African-American and three Cuban-American members.
"Joe Carollo, the pugnacious former Miami mayor who narrowly lost a reelection bid in 2001, is likely to launch a Florida Senate campaign next month [for the Florida Senate seat currently represented by Alex de la Portilla]. Carollo recently helped his brother, Frank Carollo, win a seat on the city commission. He is best known for ousting Xavier Suarez from the mayor's office in a voter fraud scandal and for leading the city during the vitriolic dispute over rescued Cuban rafter Elián González." "Joe Carollo may run for state Senate".
Raw political courage
"Crist, lawmakers call for return of annual school tax holiday". More courage: "LeMieux calls for no delays in F-35 production".
RPOFer laff riot
"South Florida developer-turned Orlando resident Armando Gutierrez will bring George P. Bush into Orlando next month to help him raise money to knock off U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando." "Jeb’s son stumps for Grayson foe".
Billy holds a press conference
"Attorney General Bill McCollum renewed his push to cap contingency-fee payments to outside lawyers who sue on behalf of the state and make contracts with outside firms competitively bid and open to public scrutiny." "McCollum continues push to cap contingency-fee payments".
Thank you, Mr. Obama
The Miami Herald editors: "Nothing talks quite like money. This helps explain the optimism at the annual Everglades Coalition's 29th annual conference this past weekend in Palm Beach Gardens. The mood was generally upbeat thanks to the Obama administration's $600 million infusion into the lagging Everglades cleanup plan." "Everglades momentum".
"Conflict as legislator and state GOP chief untenable"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Thrasher put himself and his fellow state senators in a difficult position last week. By accepting a job as chairman of the Florida Republican Party, with no intention to leave his Senate job, Thrasher will be serving two masters. He will be representing his district, which is based in Jacksonville but reaches down into Flagler and Volusia counties. And he will be serving as the state GOP's chief fundraiser and candidate recruiter." "Sen. Thrasher's dual role".
"Posey blasts politics, spending".
"Will Weatherford, widely presumed to be the next speaker of the state House of Representatives, faces competition for the seat he hopes to retain in November."
A Wesley Chapel Republican, Weatherford, 30, is being challenged by Democrat – and neighbor – Elena McCullough, 48, who filed to run for the District 61 seat last week. The district includes most of Pasco and part of Hillsborough counties."Weatherford to have Democratic challenger for state House seat".
A founder of the youth group Wesley Chapel Community 4 Change, McCullough is a Dominican Republic native who moved to California at 16. She joined the Coast Guard two years later and retired as an officer after 24 years.
"I was very involved with Obama's campaign" in 2008, she said. "One of the things I liked about him was that he recognized that it's not all about him. It's about us, if we want to make our community better. He inspired me."
McCullough has lived in the area since 1997 with her husband, Ray, and two children.
"Several mothers are testifying in a class action lawsuit this week that Florida doesn't give their children access to quality health care." "Moms say Florida denies kids good care under Medicaid".
"tTe biggest Big Oil con since..."
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Offshore drilling may not be coming to Florida's Gulf Coast, thanks, it appears, to Senate President Jeff Atwater."
We'd feared otherwise just three months ago, when it seemed the fix was in. Mr. Atwater had just appointed Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla to chair the Senate's energy committee, which is supposed to vet legislation by Rep. Dean Cannon and Sen. Mike Haridopolos that would allow rigs just five miles from Florida's beaches."Capping offshore drilling".
The rub? Mr. Diaz de la Portilla's wife lobbies for the oil and gas industry. Florida seemed primed for the biggest Big Oil con since sax player Tony Curtis told Marilyn Monroe his family owned Shell Oil in Some Like it Hot.
Hillsborough's "lack of vision and leadership"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Tampa attorney Mary Ann Stiles has spent a good deal of her own time and money during the past four years pushing to create a county mayor in Hillsborough. Done right, the move could inject some much-needed leadership into the fourth-largest county in the fourth-largest state."
But Stiles announced last week that she would change a key component of the referendum that may go to voters in November. Instead of the mayor being a nonpartisan post, the job would be decided by a partisan election."Focus on leadership, not partisanship".
The switch undercuts the strongest rationale for changing how the county is governed. The lack of vision and leadership under the current county commission-manager form of government is the result of too much political meddling — not a lack of it. Indeed, the last straw that led Stiles to conceive of the mayor initiative in 2005 was the smear job Republican commissioners launched on the county bus system — just before gas prices jumped and county bus ridership spiked to all-time highs.
Stiles still must submit the final ballot language to the county elections supervisor for approval, a process that starts the clock for her to obtain the necessary signatures to put the referendum on the 2010 ballot. Stiles said changing the job to a partisan post would likely blunt opposition by the local political parties and help the measure's chance for passage. She also said any race for mayor would likely evolve into a partisan campaign, anyway.
"Broward schools ethics panel vows action on public's complaints".
"No new legislation is needed"
"When Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Marti Coley agreed to co-author a bill clarifying how Sunshine Laws apply to economic development groups that receive taxpayer money, they pledged to get the input from several outsiders."
On Monday, about 20 of those outsiders — media representatives, open government advocates and various economic development groups — met in Tallahassee to discuss how the potential legislation should be crafted."Lawmakers, outsiders: No new Sunshine legislation needed".
Their consensus: No new legislation is needed.
"Connect the dots"
Mike Thomas: "Florida's economy is based on tourism, speculative housing, expanded gambling and — to nab the occasional six-figure salary — bribing California high-tech firms to move here."
Such is our rut that we can't even see the opportunity now presenting itself."Florida should be leader high-tech education".
Orlando could become a national leader in designing the 21st-century classroom. We could create an industry from seeds.
Follow along and connect the dots.
High speed rail stim funds
"Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said this morning he expects the Obama Administration to approve Florida's request for high speed rail stimulus funds to create a Tampa-to-Orlando route by 2014 that could create thousands of jobs." "Florida leaders lobby for rail funding".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Office of Public Counsel, which represents utility customers before the PSC, has recommended no rate hike for FPL, arguing that it would be another blow to residents and businesses. Business groups, retailers and South Florida hospitals also want no increase. Politicians, of course, don't want any rate increase attached to their names during an election year." "FPL asks too much".
Michael Mayo: "It's cold out, but FPL execs are sweating bullets"
"Storms wants state to mandate better locker room security".
"Groundhog Day -- or a fresh new start"?
"After Tuesday's Miami election, will it be Groundhog Day -- or a fresh new start for Miami-Dade's biggest city?" "Is Tuesday's Miami election a fresh start or peek into the past?".