"Never mind the voice coaches who worked to get Alex Sink to soften her Southern twang, or the image-makers who urged her to be more aggressive, or the handlers who lined up free TV time."
The state chief financial officer and presumed Democratic nominee for governor may have found her campaign voice in the Gulf oil spill disaster that has consumed the coast of several states."Sink gaining momentum in focus on Gulf oil spill".
Sink also appears to be moving in the polls: "The Florida Chamber ... that has long supported Attorney General Bill McCollum and other Republicans showed close races for both the GOP gubernatorial primary and the general election match up. According to the poll, Rick Scott leads McCollum 35-30, with 33 percent undecided. In the general election, Scott leads Alex Sink 30-26, with 15 percent going to indy Bud Chiles. With McCollum in the race, the numbers are similar, 31-26-15." "Chamber poll: gov race tightening, Crist still with wide lead".
"Biggest sales job in the history of Florida politics"
Steve Bousquet argues that "If this super-rich Republican businessman from Naples (now there's a demographic for you) can get himself elected governor, it will be the biggest sales job in the history of Florida politics." "Can Rick Scott sell himself to voters?".
RPOFers cry foul
"A flurry of candidates qualified for dozens of state races before Friday's noon deadline, creating a few surprises and prompting conspiracy theories among some political observers."
The tea party is at the center of the controversy, as 19 of its candidates submitted election paperwork to run for the Legislature and one Cabinet-level race."Tea partyers grab attention as 19 file to run for state office in Florida". See also "TEA Party Stirs Up Florida Election".
Republicans immediately cried foul, questioning the tea partyers' [sic] credentials and motives, suggesting their goal was to draw votes from traditional Republicans.
"The recent flurry of last-minute filings by so-called 'tea party candidates' looks awfully suspicious,'' GOP Chairman John Thrasher said in a news release.
More: "Weatherford faces Tea Party activist". Related: "Qualifying ends: Candidates come out in droves".
The hardest to predict political season in Florida history
"Fire the starting gun on what promises to be the busiest — and hardest to predict —campaign season in Florida political history. The qualifying period for statewide and legislative races closed Friday, setting the field for a busy political season in Florida. With Gov. Charlie Crist vying for U.S. Senate, the governor's mansion and the entire state Cabinet — attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner — are up for grabs, the first time no incumbents have been on the ballot since Reconstruction." "No incumbents means election season is wide open". See also "Fla. closes qualifying period".
"Naples businessman Rick Scott has used his personal fortune to buy a campaign-ad blitz and front-running status in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Now, the question is whether the money can also buy him love."
McCollum's gubernatorial prospects have taken a serious beating over the last nine weeks as Scott, a former chief executive at hospital giant HCA/Columbia, has poured upwards of $15 million into 30-second ads that have caught fire with incumbent-weary voters."GOP gubernatorial primary shaping up as expensive and nasty".
At the same time, Scott is facing charges -- most from McCollum supporters with ties to Tallahassee – that, as an investor and hospital CEO, he profited from Medicare fraud, illegal immigration and even abortions.
The $218.6 million man
Rick Scott, the political rookie who is leading the polls in the Republican primary, also filed the required financial disclosure 15 minutes before noon. Scott submitted most of his other paperwork Thursday.See also "Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott lists net worth at $219 million" and "Rick Scott Filing Shows Impressive Fortune".
The Division of Elections office was packed with candidates and politicos, many of whom wanted to know how much the former healthcare executive was worth. Scott, a wealthy Naples businessman listed his net worth as $218.6 million. Through Friday, he has poured $16 million of his own wealth into campaign advertising.
Scott attended a GOP breakfast in Tampa where he faced loyal party activists who asked tough questions about his role as CEO of a hospital chain that paid a record $1.7 billion fraud fine for overbilling federal health services.
A woman accused Scott of being an "unindicted co-conspirator,'' which prompted a testy exchange caught on audio tape.
Scott gave a heated response, calling attacks on him "not consistent,'' and repeating a now familiar response, that he was never questioned in the investigation. By the end of the confrontation, Scott raised his voice and sounded clearly angry.
"In all, 35 candidates won office this year with nary a vote cast, despite a ballot robust with high-profile federal and Florida Cabinet races that could attract voters favorable to untested politicians. There are also a slew of ballot measures, including an effort to inject more competition in state elections by changing the way districts are drawn. The conflict-free elections extended to congressional races. U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, who switched districts to seek the seat being vacated by his retiring brother Lincoln, had no challenger. " "Unopposed, 35 win House, Senate, Congressional elections without campaigning". See also "No surprises as Florida candidates qualify by deadline".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Federal mortgage fraud dragnet snares 86 South Florida suspects".
The end of "freedom" ...
... or at least what the RPOFers call "freedom": "Oil Spill Could Spur Support for More Coastal Management".
Connections between McCollum campaign and secretive political committees
William March: "More evidence has emerged of connections between the Bill McCollum campaign for governor and a group of secretive political committees running attack ads against his opponent in the GOP primary, Rick Scott."
The Tribune has obtained an e-mail in which ad producers for one of the groups, the Alliance for America's Future, appear to be seeking approval from top campaign officials for the ad's contents."E-mail links ads to McCollum camp". See also "McCollum comments on his campaign’s association with anti-Scott 527".
The Scott campaign says that's a further indication that the groups are merely extensions of the McCollum campaign, which means their failure to report donors is illegal. ...
In the e-mail addressed to individuals who work for the McCollum campaign, the Alliance or both, including McCollum's campaign manager, Matt Williams, and general consultant, Arthur Finkelstein, the ad producers say they are "Standing by for final approval" before sending the ad to television stations.
The McCollum campaign says it has nothing to do with the committees and denied Friday that it had authorized the content of the advertising.
"Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene visits with The Palm Beach Post editorial board".
As editorial boards whine about firefighter pensions
"Firing of Hillsborough administrator exposes excessive government severance packages".
"McCollum may pay a political price"
Former Miami Herald reporter Casey Woods: "In the annals of hypocritical flame-outs, few can compete with George Rekers. The psychologist, Baptist minister and purveyor of anti-gay religious ideology is now notorious for having taken a 10-day European trip with a male prostitute who advertises on the gay-escort website Rentboy.com."
Ever since that revelation, Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Attorney General Bill McCollum has been getting politically spanked for hiring Rekers to testify in the state's legal fight to uphold a law banning gay adoption.Woods continues:
McCollum faced a difficult, if not impossible, task: to find a credible scientific witness to testify in support of a scientifically unproven point of view. I'm not surprised he believed Rekers was the best he could do. If you look at conflicts over gay adoption bans in Florida and other states, it's clear that the pickings are slim for ``experts'' in this largely fringe world of homophobic junk-science.
A common thread that ties many of them together is the work of Paul Cameron, a psychologist who was expelled by the American Psychological Association and censured by the American Sociological Association for distorting research about homosexuality. For decades, he has published "research'' claiming that gay men are much more likely to molest children and to die before they reach their mid-40s.
And so McCollum had his work cut out for him when he set out to find witnesses to testify that a broad consensus of the scientific community was wrong. Little wonder that one of the few he managed to drum up was Rekers."The high cost of pseudoscience".
McCollum may pay a political price for defending Florida's misguided gay adoption ban. Whoever succeeds him in the attorney general's office should learn from his experience and abandon this mean-spirited, wasteful attempt to deprive Florida's foster children of a better chance of finding a loving family.
"Escambia emergency responders are winding down to a skeleton crew for the weekend as oil impact in the county was light and the outlook remained good." "Responders follow as oil moves east".
More: "A shift in tactics captures more oil", "County readies oil warning signs", "Tar balls moving east along Fla. Panhandle coast", "Airborne scientists look for signs of more oil near Florida", "Crist extends oil spill emergency declaration", "100 dime-size tar balls wash ashore on beach east of Pensacola" and "Costner's centrifuges deploy for Gulf oil cleanup".
Horner gets a hand
"State Rep. Mike Horner's campaign got a boost Thursday from a conservative heavy-hitter — former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. ... Horner, R- Kissimmee, is being challenged in the Aug. 24 Republican primary by Thomas Chalifoux, a former Osceola County School Board member. Chalifoux could be a threat to Horner because he has name recognition and money. A wealthy real-estate entrepreneur, Chalifoux reported his net worth to be $40 million on a 2008 financial disclosure form." "Mike Huckabee gives Kissimmee campaign a boost".
Atwater gets a bye
"Another surprise on qualifying day was a candidate who did not make the ballot:"
Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand, who said as late as Thursday he would run for chief financial officer. The move cleared the GOP field for Senate President Jeff Atwater, who holds a large financial advantage over his opponents.More.
Rubio's bad day
"Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio is again answering questions about troubles with his personal finances after a bank sought to foreclose on a Tallahassee home he owns with another Miami lawmaker." "Senate candidate Marco Rubio in foreclosure tangle over Tallahassee property". See also "Bank forecloses on Rubio's Tallahassee home".