"April 30 is the deadline for Gov. Charlie Crist to declare whether he's running for U.S. Senate as a Republican or independent or at all. Until Crist makes his intention clear, there is almost nothing Crist or Rubio can do to transcend the looming question."
As he trails Republican rival Rubio by an average of more than 20 points in polls even after weeks of anti-Rubio TV ads, Crist has to answer some important questions: Is running as a no-party affiliation candidate his only chance at winning? Would his entire campaign team quit? Would most or all of his longtime Republican supporters and money-raisers abandon him?"Will Crist jump the GOP ship?". See also "Will Charlie Crist leave the GOP?"
"Charlie and I have a personal relationship, a longtime friendship and loyalty. I would not answer that hypothetical question,'' said Dr. A.K. Desai, a St. Petersburg insurance executive and top Republican money-raiser, who is helping host a Crist fundraising reception Sunday at the house of Crist's sister in St. Petersburg.
Tampa developer Al Austin, another elite GOP money-raiser, also declined to speculate on what he would do if Crist ran as an independent. "I'm going to cross that bridge if I get there. I don't know. If he ran as a no-party and kept his Republican registration, that would make it even tougher for me to decide,'' Austin said.
Remember that Kendrick feller
"Amid all the Crist/Rubio buzz, we neglected to log in Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek's latest fundraising haul: more than $1 million in the last quarter, according to the campaign, bringing his cash on hand to more than $3.7 million." "Meek adds $1M, picks up buzz".
"The zenith of their fundraising prowess"
Aaron Deslatte: "Special-interests with big issues pending in Tallahassee this session have stepped up big-time so far this year, doling out $10 million to Florida's political parties and another $14.3 million to state candidates."
Predictably, the biggest checks went to the Republicans who run the Capitol.And get this, from a supposed big-time "Democrat":
And that would include two Central Florida lawmakers at the zenith of their fundraising prowess. Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon have taken full advantage of their pending ascendancy to near-absolute power over their respective chambers.
Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, has collected $707,000 in campaign checks over the last 15 months, even though he faces no Democratic opponent.
Cannon, R-Winter Park, is not far behind with $661,000 raised – including $400,000 in the last three months. Over $100,000 came from Tallahassee political organizations and lobbyists with business pending before the Legislature.
Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan – who has known Cannon since he clerked in Morgan's building -- threw a fundraiser at his home for Cannon on Feb. 5 that netted at least $125,000, mostly from lawyers in the Morgan & Morgan firm and their spouses."No interests are more special than Legislature’s new leaders".
Cannon backs off
"The House sponsor of legislation that would lift a ban on offshore drilling in Florida's state waters said Friday he was dropping the effort for this year but would try again in 2011. Rep. Dean Cannon made the announcement as a committee he chairs began reviewing a draft that had yet to be filed with just two weeks left in the 60-day legislative session." "House will wait till next year to push offshore drilling plan".
Maybe next year
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Apparently, the Republican leadership of the Florida House doesn't like legislation that would make it harder for politicians to get away with corrupt behavior." "The anti-corruption payoff: Politicians, not just the public, can benefit.".
Tax cuts - The best he can do?
"McCollum proposed trimming back the state's corporate income tax by one percentage point to 4.5 percent and exempting start-up businesses entirely for 10 years to spur economic growth. ... Some of McCollum's other strategies: lowering property taxes; exempting high-tech business equipment and infrastructure costs from sales taxes; expanding Florida's manufacturing machinery and equipment tax exemption; giving tax credits for research and development; and rolling back business regulations" "Bill McCollum unveils his economic platform".
The The Orlando Sentinel editors want more: "Killing jobs in Florida" ("Florida's legislative leaders talk a good game when it comes to being business-friendly.")
"House and Senate leaders have nixed plans for budget talks Saturday on resolving a nearly $2 billion spending difference between the chambers." "Fla. lawmakers nix plans for Saturday budget talks". Related: "House, Senate still split on budget".
More: "Update: Budget talks suspended to negotiate differences in House, Senate spending plans".
Merit pay mess
"Only a few weeks ago, Florida's teacher unions were on the ropes as the merit-pay bill flying through the Legislature threatened to significantly reduce their influence. But in a last-ditch effort to kill the bill, they helped rev up an email and phone campaign the likes of which Gov. Charlie Crist has never experienced."
Looking ahead, though, the question becomes: Will Florida's teacher unions and the current Republican Legislature be able to agree on any kind of a plan that makes teachers more accountable?"Merit-pay deal soon with GOP? Not likely".
Union officials say it can be done, but there's little evidence to suggest that either side will work hard to make that happen.
At the trough
"In spite of the worst recession in a generation and the highest unemployment in a century, Florida's healthcare companies, electric utilities, gambling interests, prison operators and tobacco companies steered more than $10 million into Florida's two major political parties in the first three months of this year."
Their goal: influence legislation and grease the cogs of the state's political machine."Both parties in Florida raking in special interest money".
The money flowed in despite a fundraising ban that prevents legislators -- but not parties -- from raising cash during the session. Republicans raised $7.6 million for the first three months of the year while Democrats raised $2.6 million. Most of the money came in prior to the March 2 start of the session.
Teabaggers want theirs
"Republican Senate primary frontrunner Marco Rubio said this week the tax cuts contained in the stimulus bill, aimed mostly at middle- and lower-income taxpayers, weren't the right kind of tax cuts to stimulate the economy." "Rubio: Obama tax cuts not the right kind".
"Romney to endorse Rubio in Senate race".
Mike Thomas: "Dear President Obama, Welcome to Cape Canaveral. Now give us money."
Tell U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and state Rep. Bill Posey that you'll fly them to Jupiter if they'll just come on stage, give you a big old man hug and own up to their budget-busting waste."GOP wants budget cut — except at home".
You will never see such conflicted Republicans in your life. The last one who did a Hug for Bucks went from being the most popular governor in America to being an unforgivable traitor.
So if you wouldn't mind, Mr. President, just fill the Vehicle Assembly Building with unmarked $20s, then be on your way. And when you get back to the White House, quit bankrupting this nation by spending billions of dollars in other states.
LeMieux complained about that this very week to our editorial board, reiterating his message that, "Federal government needs immediate action to rein in spending!''
"With little debate, the lottery provision was excised from an anti-illegal immigration bill in the House. ... [T]he measure would have barred illegal immigrants from winning the lottery." "Lottery line out of immigrant bill".
"Two former Hernando County commissioners, who now find themselves on opposite sides of a battle for the District 44 Florida House of Representatives seat, are trading verbal blows over the latest campaign finance contributor list."
Democrat Diane Rowden is blasting her opponent, Republican incumbent Robert Schenck, for accepting campaign contributions from what she calls out-of-county special interests and lobbyists whose only intention is to curry favor with the two-term legislator."Candidates spar over donations".
Rowden said she is "humbled" by local support of her candidacy as reflected in the latest campaign finance filings.
Schenck fired back by saying he is used to this kind of attack, having endured it two years ago from his Democratic challenger Jason Melton, who ran and lost against Schenck in his re-election bid.
The Tampa Tribune editors: "Last month, when Hillsborough County commissioners tried to get to the bottom of accusations that Administrator Pat Bean and Attorney Renee Lee had secretly pulled thousands of the independent auditor's e-mails, it became obvious the county's public records policies were a mess." "Cleaning up messy affair with a public records overhaul".
"Florida joblessness at all time high." See also "Panhandle sees job gains".
"President to NASA: Reach for the stars".