"Former state Sen. Daniel Webster appears to have changed his mind and will announce today he wants to take on freshman U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson."
Webster's announcement — presuming he makes it — would upend the crowded field of largely unknown Republicans already vying to topple the Democratic political brawler.For those that don't know, Webster, unlike Grayson, is the darling of the local Orlando Sentinel newspaper, who describe him as
Webster's wife, Sandy, sent out an e-mail at 12:24 a.m. Wednesday telling supporters to gather on the football field of Central Florida Christian Academy at 5:30 p.m. today for a "major political announcement" on the District 8 congressional race.
an even-keeled and well-respected figure in local politics, a good contrast with the polarizing Grayson, whose verbal grenades have made him a darling of liberal cable TV shows and a target of conservatives locally and nationally."Will Webster run against Grayson? It looks like it".
Webster still has strong allies in the Legislature, where he spent 28 years — two of them as House speaker — before retiring in 2008. That could help him quickly raise campaign cash, a necessity given that Grayson has about $1.5 million in his campaign chest and a willingness to spend additional millions from his own pocket.
Meek may have Company
"Billionaire real estate developer and financier Jeff Greene is mulling whether to enter the Democratic Senate primary in Florida, according to a senior Democratic source, the latest twist in a race that has resembled nothing so much as a soap opera in recent weeks."
Greene, who became a billionaire over the past few years by pioneering credit default swaps, had been considering whether or not to run as an independent for Senate but with Gov. Charlie Crist (R) seemingly moving toward an independent run of his own Greene is apparently now weighing the idea of challenging Rep. Kendrick Meek for the Democratic nod."Billionaire Jeff Greene considering candidacy in Florida Senate".
Greene's massive personal wealth makes him a force to be reckoned with if he decides to run -- particularly in a state as large (and expensive in which to run) as Florida. According to one well-place source, Greene is reportedly soliciting advice -- on an informal basis -- from Democratic consultants Doug Schoen, Joe Trippi and Paul Blank. Neither Schoen nor Trippi returned emails seeking comment on a Greene candidacy or their involvement.
While Greene's wealth would make him viable, his past would seem to make him a ripe target for political opponents. In a profile of Greene written by Forbes magazine when he became one of the 400 richest people in the world (net worth: $1.5 billion), it's revealed that former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was the best man at Greene's wedding, former madam Heidi Fleiss lived with Greene for a year after getting out of jail, and he engaged in an extended legal fight with director Ron Howard.
National Democrats have acknowledged privately that Meek, while running a credible campaign, is still not likely to have the financial lift to put the state in play in the fall. The Crist vacillation about an independent bid coupled with former state House Speaker Marco Rubio's ongoing problems with his use of a state party credit card during his time as speaker has brightened Democratic prospects in the state, however.
If it happens, a Greene candidacy would provide further drama -- and unpredictability -- in a race that is already shaping up to be one of the best (and certainly most entertaining) of the 2010 cycle.
A history lesson
Bill Cotterell: "He was the people's governor, a toiler in the political vineyards who remained an independent-thinking, policy-driven and principled leader and put his sense of what's right for Florida ahead of party loyalty."
A shift in the political winds, both nationally and here in Florida, helped and hurt him at the peak of his political potential. Big-name state politicians bailed on him, but he listened to the voice of the people — and won.Cotterell continues:
Yet it cost him in the long run. His former friends had no place for him, once his term as governor was done, and he looked around to find he didn't have many allies.
No, not Charlie Crist, the Republican governor who seems likely to file as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate next week. The governor who did it his way, the last man to win a statewide race with neither "Dem." nor "Rep." next to his name on the ballot, was Sidney Catts — the Prohibition Party nominee for governor in 1916.
Everything points to an independent run. There's nothing indicating he'll stay with the party that nurtured his career from his time as a young aide to U.S. Sen. Connie Mack to the state Senate in 1992, a sacrificial-lamb run for the Senate against Bob Graham in 1998, a Tallahassee sinecure in DBPR under Gov. Jeb Bush, election as education commissioner in 2000, attorney general two years later and governor in 2006. ..."History can tell Crist about being a rebel".
Crist sometimes refers to Republicans as the party of Lincoln, Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt. Those last two are instructive, too. Reagan used to say he didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left him, and TR so alienated Republicans of the robber baron era that he wound up trying a comeback as a Progressive — when that term had a much different meaning, represented by a Bull Moose.
Reagan never looked back. Roosevelt couldn't return to the GOP in 1912, and neither could Catts go home to the Democrats in the Roaring Twenties. It's ancient history, but something Crist has to consider before making the leap next week.
RPOFer "day of tea-party-esque memorials"
"Not content to simply shape Florida law, House leaders advanced Wednesday a series of bills aimed at muzzling or stalling President Barack Obama's health, legal, environmental, space and fiscal agendas."
The balanced budget bill was part of a full day of tea-party-esque memorials, bills and proposed constitutional amendments that sought to influence national policy. ...Among the many nationally aimed bills moved forward Wednesday:
Memorials carry no weight. They are messages to Congress that often go overlooked. Still, the measures inspired passionate debate Wednesday, with Republicans occasionally standing together in unity on the House Floor during various arguments.
• A nonbinding referendum asking voters whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to require a balanced budget "to stop the uncontrolled growth of our national debt and prevent excessive borrowing by the Federal Government, which threatens our economy and national security.''"House leaders call for balanced federal budget". See also "House Pushes for Balanced Federal Budget".
• A nonbinding constitutional amendment against healthcare mandates.
• A memorial urging Congress to require that enemy combatants and terrorists be tried in military court, not civilian court. The bill passed on a board vote of 83-28.
• A memorial designed to block new water-quality standards opposed by agricultural and business interests.
• An anti-communism memorial in support of giving Taiwan a voice in the United Nations.
• A memorial urging Congress to reject Obama's cap-and-trade legislation or any other regulations on energy use.
Wingnuts run wild
"Florida lawmakers to vote on proposal against 'forced’ health care".
From the "values" crowd
The Miami Herald editors point out that "there are dozens of bad calls in the competing budgets in Tallahassee as legislators try to close a $3.2 billion hole in conference committee. Among them:"
• Raiding once again the road-building trust fund, about $160 million in gas taxes that would go instead toward balancing next year's budget. In a state desperately in search of jobs, Florida should be getting more crews on the ground. ..."Tallahassee's bad calls".
• Slashing crisis stabilization, mental health and alcohol counseling programs, endangering children's programs and services for the homeless. ...
• Gutting the Department of Juvenile Justice's rehabilitation programs by $16 million to send the money to the Department of Corrections. The Senate would rob programs that rehabilitate young offenders. Instead, the money would go to help a prison that's under capacity stay afloat.
That's beyond foolish -- it's reckless disregard for children at risk and for taxpayers who eventually will have to pay even more as these young people become adult criminals.
Rubio claims he "has nothing to hide"
"Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio said Wednesday he has nothing to hide about his use of a credit card issued through the state GOP and that all of the party spending should be made public." "Rubio says he has no fear of credit card probe". See also "IRS Investigating Rubio's Tax Returns".
Insurance company shills turn tail
"Top Florida lawmakers are indicating that they're not likely to give Gov. Charlie Crist a second chance at vetoing a bill that would deregulate rates on property insurance premiums. The sponsor of the legislation for the second straight year, Bradenton Republican Mike Bennett, said it's not a good time to push the measure (SB 876) when Crist - at odds with his own party - has already told lawmakers he'll veto anything he views as increasing insurance costs." "Insurance dereg bill goes down in Fla. Legislature".
Cantor jumps Crist
"Cantor: I Won't Support Crist Under Any Circumstances".
The Sansom scandal
"In a courtroom within sight of the Capitol where he once reigned supreme, former House Speaker Ray Sansom and two co-defendants asked a judge Wednesday to drop criminal charges against them for a second time." "Sansom requests dismissal of charges -- again".
Still the same
"Florida's public schools will receive the same amount of money per student next year that they are getting now, House and Senate lawmakers decided Wednesday... Earlier this session, both the Senate and Gov. Charlie Crist had recommended boosting per-student funding - unlike the House, which initially proposed a slight decrease." "Schools to get same amount of money next year".
"Rothstein's sentencing delayed for 1 month".
"Pregnant moms may face more barriers"
"The Florida House budget bill that went into conference committee this week eliminated the Healthy Start Coalitions all over the state and folded their function of caring for pregnant moms and their babies into county Health Departments. Monday, however, Healthy Start was restored to the budget with a 5 percent cut in its funding." "Healthy Start stays in budget".
Another unfunded mandate
"Tougher graduation rules may leave some kids behind".
Mikey and his merit pay
Mikey Thomas thinks Tennessee has the right ideas for merit pay: "If this makes Republican legislators gag, too bad. This is more important than vendettas and petty politics." So far so good.
But he quickly goes off the track, writing that "If unions balk, they look unreasonable by rejecting what the Tennessee unions accepted. They will be blamed, and rightly so, for costing our schools $700 million." "Let's try merit pay Tennessee's way".
Perhaps Mikey should be paid based upon the number of people that subscribe to the Orlando Sentinel because of him and buy products advertised in the Sentinel because of the advertisements in the Sentinel.
"A shameless, self-interested ploy"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida has been dominated for so long by one political party — first Democrats and now Republicans — it's hard to imagine what true competitive elections for Congress and the Legislature might look like. And it appears no one in Tallahassee wants voters to find out."
In a shameless, self-interested ploy, Republican legislative leaders and a few Democrats are rushing to try to thwart a pair of November ballot measures that would level the playing field. The citizen amendments, which would need approval by 60 percent of voters, would change the rules for drawing political districts. Now some lawmakers want to put their own constitutional amendment on the ballot in hopes of undermining the citizen amendments and maintaining the status quo. It's an indefensible power grab that would confuse voters and serve no interest other than incumbent politicians."Trying to block voters' will".
Greer's "fine hotels and pricey restaurants"
Adam C Smith: "The ousted party chairman charged nearly $500,000 to his American Express card to eat well and live well: spa treatments, flowers, flights, fine hotels and pricey restaurants. In a month ending in March 2008, he dropped $41,421.31 in Las Vegas, Washington and Beverly Hills, according to billing statements obtained Wednesday by the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald. " "Jim Greer charged big on Florida GOP credit card".
"Sen. John Thrasher, chairman of the maligned Republican Party of Florida, has a lot to contend with."
Things are heating up in the legislature with less than 10 days to go before the session’s end."RPOF Chairman Thrasher on Crist, credit cards and condemnation".
Federal investigators are snooping around former high-ranking GOP officials, including his predecessor at the Party Jim Greer, and their credit card spending.
And Gov. Charlie Crist is considering abandoning the party that helped him to victory in the state Senate, two Cabinet seats and the governor’s mansion.
Crist’s consideration of dropping out of the GOP primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and running as an independent in the fall has Crist’s former allies (and those who weren’t big fans of the governor to begin with) coming out in droves to distance themselves from the former sure-bet for U.S. Senate.
Thrasher offered some advice to Crist’s critics, including House Speaker Larry Cretul: Chill.
"Environmental turkey shoot"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Legislators have two weeks left in their 2010 session to show Floridians they care about the environment. Or they can continue turning the session into an environmental turkey shoot." "The bull's eye on a state environmental agency, and meek support for a solar energy program, make this legislative session disappointing".
"State employees, who escaped a salary reduction last year, might get hit with pay cuts in the budget being resolved by House and Senate appropriations officers late this week." "State workers could face pay cuts".
"Teachers unions are getting out the message: Thank the governor for his veto. But the unions are stopping short of making a political endorsement." "Unions thank Crist for SB 6 veto".
"It's not personal, Charlie. It's just politics. That's the message Gov. Charlie Crist is receiving from a handful of Republicans who abandoned his campaign - or threatened to - in anticipation that he'll run for U.S. Senate as an independent. Crist's reaction: 'So be it.' In the meantime, the state's largest teachers union confirmed Wednesday it will air a 'thank you' ad on television supporting Crist's tenure bill veto." "Merit-pay veto wins Crist a teacher-paid TV ad, loses him some GOP friends".
"Crist is expected to sign a bill today that will usher in the most sweeping expansion of private-school vouchers in Florida history." "Crist set to approve historic expansion of school vouchers".
A little help?
"Even as high-ranking state Republicans distance themselves from Gov. Charlie Crist, some of his biggest GOP donors are vowing to stick with him even if he leaves the party and runs as an independent for the U.S. Senate." "Key donors backing Crist".
Rasmussen's latest poll results at dKos:
FL-Gov: Bill McCollum (R) 45%, Alex Sink (D) 38%"Polling and Political Wrap-Up, 4/21/10".
In Florida, they also see a significant tightening in the gubernatorial race. Is it possible that being out in front on the HIR lawsuit is hurting presumptive GOP frontrunner Bill McCollum? Hard to say, but he went high-profile on that issue in the past few weeks, and his numbers have sunk like a stone.
Not so bright
"Legislators are making changes to the Bright Futures scholarship program that some believe could cut off many middle class families." "Bright Futures May Dim for Middle Class".
"Nursing Home Funding Cut"
"Lawmakers continued hammering out a Health and Human Services budget Wednesday, but Senate and House negotiators failed to agree on how to resolve a funding cut that removes nearly $200 million in Medicaid funding to nursing homes." "Negotiators Fail to Resolve Nursing Home Funding Cut".
"With rumors swirling through Florida political circles that Gov. Charlie Crist intends to abandon the Republican Party, Crist shared a stage Wednesday with Attorney General Bill McCollum, frontrunner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, at an event commemorating crime victims." "'Old Buddies' Crist, McCollum Smile Up a Storm".
"GOP references remain in Crist's campaign website, contrary to allegations".
"A bill requiring middle school students to take a civics class and pass an end-of-course test is on its way to Gov. Charlie Crist." "Civics requirement bill on way to Crist".
As Florida burns ...
"The Florida Senate has voted to ban the sale of smoking pipes and similar items except at stores that mostly sell tobacco products." "Senate cracks down on smoking pipes".