Sink, McCollum in dead heat
"What kind of governor's race do you get when you take two buttoned-down politicians and add a rookie who splashes $6 million in television ads around the state?"
A neck-and-neck contest between Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink, a wild-card surge by Republican Rick Scott, and more than one-quarter of Florida voters on the fence, according to a new poll conducted for the St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13."They're neck-and-neck".
More than five months before the Nov. 2 election, the Ipsos Public Affairs survey finds Attorney General McCollum backed by 34 percent and Chief Financial Officer Sink by 32 percent; McCollum's lead falls within the poll's margin of error of 4 percentage points. ...
Sink faces no strong contenders for the Democratic nomination, though Lawton "Bud" Chiles III, son of the late governor, says he is looking seriously at jumping in the race and challenging her.
As a first-term chief financial officer who has only run for statewide office once before, Sink is not nearly as familiar as McCollum to Florida voters. The poll suggests many voters don't realize Sink is a woman since she and McCollum are virtually tied among female voters.
"Under pressure from his chief U.S. Senate rival, former House Speaker Marco Rubio released nine years of tax records on Friday, revealing how his personal income grew along with his political influence."
Rubio's tax returns show that his income increased from $82,710 in 2000 when he was elected to the Florida House to $301,864 in 2004 — the year he stepped on the political track to become House speaker, one of the Legislature's most powerful posts.And then there's this:
During his last year in Tallahassee, Rubio earned nearly $400,000, with the bulk of the money coming from the Miami law firm of Broad & Cassell.
Gov. Charlie Crist, who has made public his tax records and is now running as an independent candidate against Rubio, has been pushing the Republican front-runner to release his tax records since late March. The leading Democrat in the Senate race, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, released his returns earlier this week.
Unlike Crist and Meek, Rubio did not release itemized tax deductions that would show property taxes and interest paid on mortgages.
The records Rubio posted Friday on his campaign website are expected to be reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service as part of its inquiry into his use of an American Express card issued by the Republican Party of Florida."Rubio's income grew with his political clout, tax records show".
"State sees first jobless rate dip since '06". Meanwhile, "Sunshine State leads nation in mortgage woes".
Labor endorsements on the line
"The powerful Florida Education Association gave Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek a dual endorsement in the U.S. Senate race Saturday but said it won't try to split organized labor's affections between Crist's sudden new courtship and Meek's long-standing relationship." "FEA gives dual endorsement to Crist and Meek for Senate". See also "Teachers union splits endorsement between Meek and Crist".
Meanwhile, regarding the larger, overall AFL-CIO endorsement, "Meek blisters union with plea for endorsement" and "Meek Blasts Crist, Makes His Own Case to the Union".
However, "Crist, who shed the 'R' next to his name and replaced it with an 'I' — asked for the labor union AFL-CIO's endorsement for Senate today."
Crist, an independent candidate, made an unusual appearance before the union's leaders. The union traditionally supports Democratic candidates and Crist, a lifelong Republican until this month, had never sought their help."Sporting an I — not R — Crist seeks union help". See also "Crist Appeals to AFL-CIO For Support" and "Gov. Crist seeks union backing".
"I'm here for several reasons. I am hear to learn, I am hear to listen and I am here to show respect. There's not enough of that happening right now in government and politics," Crist said in a soft, humble tone. "I want your help, I want your vote, I want your support, I want your endorsement and I am asking for it."
"Although state Sen. Paula Dockery voted for a bill requiring a mandatory sonogram for women seeking an abortion, she said today she would veto such legislation if she is elected governor. ... Dockery's seemingly contradicting remarks come as she is trailing in the polls – and collecting fewer campaign contributions – than her Republican rivals in the governor's race." "As governor, Dockery says she would veto abortion bill she voted for". See also "Dockery on both sides of issue".
Spill baby! Spill!
"After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents — including paying for all cleanup — with oversight by federal agencies."
BP, which is in charge of the cleanup, said it will be at least Tuesday before engineers can shoot mud into the blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf, yet another delay in the effort to stop the oil."Anger, frustration over oil mounts along the Gulf". See also "Obama names chairmen of Gulf oil spill commission", "Oil spill drifts farther from Florida coast", "Obama: Former Sen. Bob Graham will head commission to regulate drilling", "'Loop current' shifts, but fears of oil from spill hitting Florida remain" and "As oil continues to spill, why is BP still in charge?"
A so-called "top kill" has been tried on land but never 5,000 feet underwater, so scientists and engineers have spent the past week preparing and taking measurements to make sure it will stop the oil that has been spewing into the sea for a month. They originally hoped to try it as early as this weekend.
Maddox fires up AFL-CIO crowd
"Agriculture candidate fires up AFL-CIO crowd by taking shots at McCollum, Rubio and Putnam " "Maddox Comes Out Swinging at Republicans".
We hardly know 'ye
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The nation barely knows Tampa".
Rethinking oil drilling
"As the Deepwater Horizon disaster threatens Florida's shores, state voters are growing more opposed to offshore oil drilling and now are evenly divided about whether to amend the state Constitution to ban the practice, according to a new St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll. " "Florida voters divided on oil drilling ban".
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Rewrite highway bill to control billboards".
"Over the past six months, Florida's Republican Party has been torn from within, through circumstances including the ouster of state Chairman Jim Greer and Gov. Charlie Crist's abandoning the GOP to run as an independent."
But if Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is worried that those issues endanger the party's chances in the fall, he didn't show it Thursday during a visit to promote Tampa's selection as the site of the 2012 GOP National Convention."Committee chairman says GOP drama done in Florida".
Steele said by the time voters go to the polls in November, Florida's internal party issues will be of little consequence.
"Experts say just more than 100 panthers are left in the wild." "Florida panther killed by vehicle".
"Governor a no-show"
"Governor a no-show at Puerto Rican 'summit'".
Haridopolos and Cannon in court
"Arguing that legislators are trying to thwart the signature-petition process, deceive voters and cling to power, a group of civil rights organizations and activists is going to court to fight a redistricting constitutional amendment that lawmakers rushed onto the ballot during the final week of the legislative session."
Amendment 7, as it will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot, was crafted at the behest of incoming House and Senate Republican leadership to "clarify" two other amendments headed to voters — amendments 5 and 6, placed there by the Fair Districts Florida group and intended to curb lawmakers' ability to gerrymander their districts during the once-a-decade redrawing of legislative and congressional boundaries."The lawsuit asks the court to remove Amendment 7 from the ballot."
But in a lawsuit filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court, lawyers for the NAACP, the Florida League of Women Voters, Democracia Ahora and former Republican state comptroller Bob Milligan called the Legislature's work an attempt to "hide the ball" from voters.
Amendment 7 was pushed through the Legislature on the session's last day in April by incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, both of whom have blasted Fair Districts and the Democratic-leaning trial lawyers and unions who backed the $3 million signature-petition effort to put amendments 5 and 6 before voters."Civil-rights groups sue to block lawmakers' redistricting amendment".
Last week, Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed Fair Districts and lambasted lawmakers for passing Amendment 7, saying he would have vetoed it if he could (constitutional amendments don't go to the governor for his signature).