"If you believed the attacks, Monday's debate between the leading Republican candidates for governor pitted a know-nothing political hack against a crooked corporate executive."
Down in the polls and running out of time and money, Bill McCollum desperately needed a game-changing moment in Monday's debate with his surging rival for governor, Rick Scott."In the noon debate aired later in Spanish by Univisión stations in Miami, Orlando and Tampa, the two men sparred about a wide range of issues beyond the Hispanic community."
It never came, though McCollum delivered a more polished performance in the first of only two matchups between the leading Republican candidates before the Aug. 24 primary.
Among McCollum's best moments came when he took Scott to task for his role as the embattled chief executive officer of Columbia/HCA. Referring to the hefty stock Scott received after being ousted as CEO amid a massive Medicare scandal, McCollum sneered, "Rick let's get serious. You said you took responsibility, but the only thing you took was $300 million. You took it from seniors, you took it from veterans, you took it from the sick.''"A former front-runner takes the offensive".
It was a zinger -- not a knockout blow.
For his part, Scott awkwardly suggested that he had embraced the Hispanic community by learning to drink cortaditos and eat late dinners, but he did not commit any major gaffes.
Scott smoking McCollum
"Bill McCollum's troubles continue. That's the word from the inaugural Sunshine State News Poll that shows Rick Scott holding a commanding 44 to 28 percent lead over the attorney general in the Republican gubernatorial primary."
With just three weeks until Election Day, and early voting beginning next week, Scott is beating McCollum in every demographic and geographic category of likely GOP voters, said Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service of Harrisburg, Pa., which conducted the survey."Scott Lead Grows in Latest Poll". See also "New poll reaffirms wide lead for Scott".
"Most startlingly is the 50 percent negative number for McCollum. That's a very huge red flag and suggests very little room to grow. You never want to have that going into an election," Lee said.
The VSS survey, commissioned by Sunshine State News and conducted July 26-30, builds on results of an earlier Quinnipiac Poll that showed Scott holding an 11-point lead over McCollum. The Sunshine State News Poll is the largest sampling of likely voters -- 1,345 -- of any poll so far taken for a 2010 statewide election in Florida.
Bits and Pieces
Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces".
"BP's use of chemicals used to disperse some of the oil gushing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico might have been a cure worse than the disease, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday." "Nelson blasts use of chemicals".
Mike Thomas: "Doom was in everybody's self-interest. Anti- Obama conservatives. Anti-drilling liberals. Grandstanding politicians. Tort-happy lawyers. Grant-hungry researchers. Ratings-hungry cable stations." "Put hysteria aside, and learn from oil spill". Oh yeah, Mike, let's not forget the print "journalists" who pumped and soaked the story for every nickel.
See also "BP: Mud pumped into well is holding back the oil", "Testing begins for attempt to plug Gulf oil well", "BP begins attempt to cut off gusher by pumping mud", "Despite anger over the spill, changes in rules may be limited", "AP EXCLUSIVE: Salazar keeps oil drill ban, for now" and "Biologist using Noah's Ark idea to save sealife".
The best Haridolopos can do?
In a feat of silly self promotion, "incoming Florida Senate President Mike Haridolopos is leading a three-day bus tour in search of ideas for cutting soaring Medicaid costs." "Fla. lawmakers seek Medicaid cost-cutting answers".
"Rachel Burgin and Marc Johnson agree that Hillsborough County residents need work. Jobs and educating people are high priorities for both Republican candidates vying for the Florida House District 56 seat." "Primary foes put spotlight on schools".
"A former professional wrestler, a retired lobbyist, a lawyer and a risk-management specialist all want to represent Florida House District 47. The district covers the northwestern corner of Hillsborough County, including Keystone, Northdale and Carrollwood. Incumbent Kevin Ambler can't run again because of term limits." "District 47 GOP contest crowded".
"That Nehru jacket left the closet a long time ago"
The Saint Petersburg Times's Daniel Ruth: "Are you beginning to get the sneaking suspicion your options in the Florida Democratic U.S. Senate primary are between one guy who makes Captain Bligh seem like Gilligan, and another chap who has used his U.S. House seat as if it were one long-running Mother’s Day gift? " "It's a tough call: the crass or the clueless".
"Unappealing and unqualified millionaires"
Scott Maxwell: "Remember the movie 'Trading Places'?"
That was the one where a couple of rich guys bet each other that they could turn the most unlikely, unappealing guy (Eddie Murphy) into a success."Such unappealing candidates … isn't it rich?".
I've concluded that must be what's happening in Florida politics.
How else can you explain the front-runner status of two so thoroughly unappealing and unqualified millionaires?
Government deprives entrepreneurs of "freedom"
The RPOFers and their teabagger allies are in a dither today, as Florida gub'ment yet again interferes with the boundless energy and creativity of the state's entrepreneurial class: "Florida has ordered the Association of Independent Managers to stop selling unauthorized health insurance. The order Tuesday by the Office of Insurance Regulation came too late, though, for up to 1,800 consumers who already purchased the unauthorized health plans." "Fla. stops sales of bogus health insurance".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Friday's federal appeals court decision striking down part of Florida's public campaign financing law is a blow to the idea of voters getting more political speech, not less. It's a blow to the idea that millionaires and special interests should not be able to buy elections. For people hankering after examples of hypocrisy, however, the case is a bonanza."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, who is contemptuous of federal authority over health care and immigration, ran to the federal courts when he got into a jam. His personal spending on TV ads threatened to trigger a Florida law that would have given Attorney General Bill McCollum, his rival in the GOP primary, a dollar-for-dollar match of everything Mr. Scott spent above $24.9 million.Much more here: "Go with the voters, not Scott: Appeal ruling that would a multimillionaire spend more to buy the Gov".
We noted previously the irony of Mr. Scott's opposition to taxpayer-financed races. He made the personal fortune he's using to bankroll his campaign from a hospital company that ripped off taxpayer-financed Medicare.
In Congress, Mr. McCollum voted against the House version of what became the McCain-Feingold campaign reform act. Now that his own campaign is staggering, he clutches for the state's 23-year-old law - which voters placed in the constitution in 1998 - that provides some public financing to state candidates who limit individual contributions and overall spending.
RPOFers in action
"Back-to-school tax holiday comes too late, parents say".
Jeff Greene pressed his attack on Kendrick Meek, "telling voters in Orlando that Meek is a "failed career politician" tainted by his ties to a developer now facing criminal charges in South Florida. Greene defended a campaign ad that highlights Meek's inclusion on a watchdog group's 'Crooked Candidates' list -- even though Greene is now on the same list." "Greene assails rival as 'failed career politician'".
Race to replace Florida's longest continuously serving legislator
"Richardson, Montford vie for Senate seat".
Haridopolos fires uppity staffers
"Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos dismissed five high-level legislative employees Tuesday and said he plans a few more top staff changes as he streamlines the committee structure and operations of the Senate." Haridopolos:
"I felt strongly, as did other senators who actually used the phrase that some of the staff felt like they were 'the 41st senator' or '42nd senator,' and I find that unacceptable.""Haridopolos fires 5 top-level Senate staffers". Related: "Florida Senate to reorganize, lay off some employees this week".
Amendment 9 goes to FSC
"The Florida Supreme Court has received a challenge to a fifth proposed constitutional amendment. The 1st District Court of Appeal, without ruling Tuesday, forwarded an appeal of a Tallahassee judge's decision to remove Amendment 9 from the Nov. 2 ballot. It would prohibit a state health care plan similar to President Barack Obama's national program." "Florida justices get fifth amendment challenge". Related: "High Court Holds Key to November Ballot".
"In the Republican primary race for the state House District 25 seat, candidates Larry Metz and Rick Joyce seemingly agree on the main issues: Government spending should be capped, no additional taxes, property insurance needs to be reformed and Florida should adopt a law similar to Arizona's in cracking down on illegal immigrants. But they differ on whether political experience or business experience is more important to serve the district. The winner of the primary election Aug. 24 will face Democrat Frank Wood of Mount Dora on Nov. 2." "Florida House District 25".
"The front-runner in the Republican race for attorney general is none of the three candidates in the contest, according to a Sunshine State News Poll released Wednesday. It is 'Undecided.'" "GOP Primary Voters 'Undecided' in Attorney General Race".
Country clubbers in a quandry
"With so many candidates and so many high-profile races, business leaders attending the annual Associated Industries of Florida conference in Orlando say they're having a hard time trying to decide who to spend their money on." "So Many Candidates, So Little Cash".
McCollum reaches out to Hispanics
"With three weeks to go until the primary, Attorney General Bill McCollum is looking to reach out to Hispanic voters in an effort to catch up with health-care executive Rick Scott, front-runner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination." "Trailing Rick Scott, Bill McCollum Reaches Out to Hispanic Voters".
You read that right
"Does Casey Anthony's right to a fair trial trump public's right to know?"
"The incumbent in the House District 55 race is a self-described former crack addict who says his problems with the drug spurred him to push for a law that prohibits the sale of bongs at certain head shops. His challenger is a social services advocate in Sarasota who has wrangled with landlords, tenants, even a Winn-Dixie supermarket, from whom she won an undisclosed sum after slipping on some sugar left in an aisle, according to court records." "Both candidates faced debt issues".
"Jeremiah Guccione, Bob McCann and Greg Steube want to be the next state representative in a district where job loss is one of the highest in the state. While there have been charges of nepotism, resume inflation and political relocation between the Republican candidates for the House District 67 seat, the bottom line is that they all want to put constituents back to work." "District 67 race focus is on jobs".
"Greene is backtracking"
"Democratic Senate front-runner Jeff Greene is backtracking on his claim that he had visited Cuba as part of a Jewish humanitarian trip, and two former crew members on his boat say he is still not telling the truth."
Greene spokesman Luis Vizcaino said Tuesday that the real estate mogul's 145-foot yacht Summerwind docked for two days at Havana's Hemingway Marina in 2007 while awaiting repairs. In Sunday's debate against Democratic rival Kendrick Meek, Greene said he went to Cuba on a Jewish mission."Jeff Greene's account of Cuba trip is clarified, then disputed".
"During the debate Jeff misspoke,'' Vizcaino said after receiving news media inquiries about the trip. "What he meant to say was that in 2007, he went on the boat from Honduras to the Bahamas, and en route the boat had a hydraulic problem . . . The captain said we could wait for the part at Hemingway Marina.''
But a deckhand on that trip tells a different story. John Walenczyk said the boat traveled from Fort Lauderdale directly to Cuba and docked for about one week.
"It was their total intention to go to Cuba,'' he said Tuesday. "We never went to Honduras, not even close. I figure it was the glamour of wanting to go to a banned country.''
Another crew member, Billy Blackwell, told WPLG-ABC 10 news that Greene and his then-girlfriend, Mei Sze, spent three or four days visiting the island.
"Bill McCollum to visit Sentinel Editorial Board this morning".
McCollum gets more bad news
Steve Bousquet: "Bill McCollum, seeking to regain his mantle as the only tried-and-true conservative Republican running for governor, got some bad news Tuesday when the National Rifle Association gave his rival, Rick Scott, a higher ranking."
Scott got an A and McCollum a B according to the NRA's grading system. The grades came after what NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer called a "lengthy and thorough" analysis of candidates' records, statements and responses to a questionnaire."In candidate shootout for NRA backing, Rick Scott hits a bull's-eye".
Neither man won the influential gun-rights group's outright endorsement, which amounts to good news for McCollum, the state attorney general. An endorsement might have come with paid advertising to amplify the NRA decision.
But Scott got bragging rights, no small feat in a statewide Republican primary where gun rights is an important test of conservatism, particularly in North and Central Florida.
Hammer said McCollum, while serving in Congress, cast a number of antigun votes, including for the Brady Bill on final passage and against an amendment that would have allowed District of Columbia residents to keep guns in their homes.
Bud Chiles, the"independent candidate for governor wants the state to hand over the more than $50 million owed to homeowners and businesses in solar-energy rebates." "Bud Chiles: Florida should pay energy rebates".
Get 'em while you can
"More And More Employers Turning From Furloughs To Outright Pay Cuts". Meanwhile, "The Republican Jobs Plan: Bigger Tax Cuts For The Rich".
Sole hits the bricks
"One of Florida's top officials to respond to the Gulf oil spill is leaving for 'unspecified opportunities.'" "Environmental chief Mike Sole resigns".
At least one more jai-alai season
"The sport's popularity peaked in the 1960s and 1970s before other professional sports franchises moved into the state and Indian gaming became more popular. The only six frontons left in the U.S. are all in Florida - in Miami, Dania Beach, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Ocala and Jasper. Birdoff says a jai-alai season will be played next year. But he says the 2012 season will be determined by the success of the revamped business." "Orlando Jai-Alai sold to New York firm".
By the way, aren't the players union members, represented by the UAW?