Corporate outsiders pound Grayson
"Over the last two years, Grayson has netted more than $3.8 million in campaign contributions – more than four times as much as the $891,000 that Webster, a former state senator, has raised, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission. Heading into the final two weeks of the campaign, Grayson had nearly three times as much in his war chest as Webster, roughly $1.2 million to $400,000."
However, Grayson's advantage has been offset by attack ads financed by outsiders. The National Republican Congressional Committee has bought $600,000 worth, while outside groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the 60 Plus Association are spending hundreds of thousands more. ..."Grayson has big lead over Webster in money race".
The freshman legislator's haul comes largely from individual contributors, rather than the special-interest groups that normally fuel incumbents' war chests.
And so it begins
"Will riled conservatives and depressed Democrats send a message to President Barack Obama and usher in a Republican sweep up and down Florida's beefy ballot in 2010? Or will the nation's largest battleground state buck the national trend and rebuke GOP-controlled Tallahassee instead?"
Is the tea party movement surging or boiling over?"As early voting begins, mood of Florida electorate is anxious, frustrated". See also "Early voting starts Monday in Florida", "Early balloting off to smooth start" and "Early voting in Florida begins today".
As early voting gets under way today, these and other probing questions were put to two of Florida's best political minds: Republican Brett Doster, who led George W. Bush's successful re-election campaign in Florida in 2004, and Democrat Steve Schale, who was at the helm of Obama's victory here in 2008. ...
Doster and Schale don't agree on much. But asked to nominate a handful of counties that will play a pivotal role in the Nov. 2 election, Doster and Schale settled on four hubs: Palm Beach, Orange, Sarasota and Duval. Here are some scenes and voices from those counties
Related: "Voter Guide: Review races, amendments before early voting".
Sink races to define herself
"For Democrat Alex Sink, the governor's race has been a race to define herself before her multimillionaire opponent does it for her."
It's ironic, since Sink won election in 2006 as Florida's chief financial officer, while her opponent has never held office. But after spending $50 million of his family's money to win his primary, Republican Rick Scott entered the general election as a familiar face, and armed with plenty more cash for attack ads."Alex Sink still trying to define herself for voters".
West campaign imploding
Allen West, a national tea party favorite and the Republican nominee for Congress in Florida's 22nd Congressional District thinks hanging with racist gang members is just fine, but turns around and attacks incumbent Ron Klein for campaigning with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement:
Klein had recently campaigned with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and also a long time civil rights leader."Palm Beach debate has Klein, West questioning the company each other keeps". Background: "Teabagger says racist, anti-semitic and homophobic gang ties OK", "FL Tea Party Fav On Criminal Biker Gang Ties: They Don't Even Let African-Americans Join Anyway" and "Tea Party Favorite Fights Reported Connection To Criminal Biker Gang".
West then said that members of the Congressional Black Caucus, such as U.S. Representatives. Maxine Waters, D-California, and Charles Rangel, D-New York, had both run afoul of Congressional ethics investigators recently. He said by campaigning with Lewis, Klein might also be accused of campaigning in questionable company.
Klein attacked that comment after the debate. Klein referred to Lewis "an icon of the civil rights movement.
"For him to insult John Lewis is beyond the pale," Klein said.
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Responsible does not describe Rep. Klein's opponent, Republican Allen West."
He calls the TARP and stimulus failures. He opposes property insurance reform and wants to repeal health care reform. In fact, he wants to repeal the progressive income tax and replace it with a flat tax that would tax the wealthy at the same rate as the middle class."Latest endorsement".
All that would be damaging enough. But Mr. West, who lost to Rep. Klein in 2008, does not respond to public anxiety with Ronald Reagan-like optimism that the country will come through this crisis. Mr. West's rhetoric is the hyperpatriotism of a fear-mongerer.
Mr. West is so eager to create enemies that he goes ballistic over the "Coexist" bumper sticker, in which the word is formed from religious symbols from various faiths. A person displaying the bumper sticker, Mr. West said, "would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are." Mr. West laces his speeches with calls to take up arms, accusations that the government is tyrannical and comparisons of his opponents to Nazis.
Mr. West also has a self-aggrandizing streak, best illustrated by his false claim that he has a security clearance higher than the president's. And while Mr. West talks like a fiscal conservative, it remains the case that he has faced liens for failure to pay taxes and failure to pay homeowners association dues. Courts also ordered Mr. West to pay thousands in credit-card charges.
GOPer voter suppression schemes
"[T]here's one establishment organization that appears to be putting forth a major anti-voter fraud effort this year -- the Republican National Lawyers Association. "
To be clear, there's no evidence thus far that what is being said in RNLA training sessions is improper."GOP Lawyers Group Calls 2010 Efforts 'Unprecedented'".
But RNLA leadership has clearly been involved in the exaggeration of the threat that voter fraud poses to the election process, raising fears over an issue that most voting rights experts say has been overblown.
"The Republican National Lawyers Association, the GOP-affiliated group which has focused on the issue of voter fraud and is offering election training around the country, received a large influx in donations in the third quarter of 2010 -- mostly from two contributors."
The RNLA took in $150,000 from Richard DeVos -- the Amway co-founder and Orlando Magic's owner who Forbes named the 176th richest person in the world -- in September and $50,000 from Paul E. Singer in July."RNLA Received Influx Of Money Ahead of 2010 Elections". Background: "Wingnut voter suppression schemes" (the Republican National Lawyers Association has "held events in Illinois, Nevada, Wisconsin, California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida.")
DeVos is listed as a philanthropist in the employ of the RDV Corporation in Grand Rapids, MI, called "the management firm for the family of Mr. Richard M. DeVos and provides investment management, estate planning, tax and personal services, and foundation administration to the DeVos family"). His family has been longtime supporters of conservative causes.
Singer, the president of Elliott Associates, LP, is a close friend of Rudy Giuliani who has given millions of dollars to Republican organizations.
HD 9 an "unusually cordial affair"
"Incumbent Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, a Democrat from Tallahassee, easily overcame a bruising primary challenge in August. Her opponent made Rehwinkel Vasilinda's vote for a controversial off-shore drilling bill a central issue of the campaign. Now Rehwinkel Vasilinda faces Republican newcomer Kirk Headley-Perdue, a social worker from a prominent Tallahassee family who has eschewed attacks and even hugged Vasilinda at a public forum." "House District 9 race unusually cordial affair".
Bought and paid for
"With industry's backing and big fund-raising advantage, Republican tops four-way field". "Poll: Adam Putnam Leads Scott Maddox in Ag Race".
Hero to Zero
Nancy Smith: "Sen. Bill Nelson, Hero; Jon Ausman, Tiresome Democrat N'er-Do-Well and Zero".
Developers say jump!
And the Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board asks how high: "Amendment 4 would result in chaos". Related: "Ballot question would require voters approve comprehensive plans".
"The election could already be over"
Gary Fineout: "Florida’s souped-up, long-distance, and largely impersonal campaign for governor enters the final countdown with the start of early voting on Monday."
And the outcome of the election isn’t just a test of whether or not Florida will go along with the Republican tide expected to wash across the nation."Florida's long-distance campaign for governor enters the home stretch".
It could also be the final death knell of traditional campaigns in a mega-state like Florida – and a referendum on whether or not traditional media coverage can influence the outcome of an election. ... the election could already be over ...
A new state Senate report [.pdf] has concluded that early voting has actually had little impact on voter turnout in the last two election cycles – including the 2008 presidential election. Turnout was roughly the same that year as it was in 2004 and the report notes the same about the 2006 election when Charlie Crist was elected governor.
Instead early voting has just shifted the time frame of when people vote.
So if history holds true, this year’s election will attract about 50 percent overall turnout, many of whom will be deciding the next governor today, tomorrow and for the next two weeks.
He still believes
"Kendrick Meek is trailing in the polls, and has been since the primaries. Though he's got the support of the White House, former President Bill Clinton, and a host of other Democratic powerhouses in the state, he hasn't been able to move the needle and make progress against Charlie Crist, let alone Marco Rubio, in the race for a U.S. Senate seat." "Despite Calls to Give Up, Kendrick Meek Still Believes". Related: "Meek touts middle-class focus in Senate campaign".
"Leveling the playing field"
"Created to 'level the playing field' and open the elections process to less affluent candidates, Florida’s system of public campaign financing would likely go away if voters on Nov. 2 pass Amendment 1." "Amendment 1: To Finance or Not to Finance".
"Tea party favorite backs three congressional candidates in Florida ... While most of the potential Republican presidential candidates aiming at their party’s nomination in 2012 have campaigned in Florida for U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, Herman Cain has taken something of a slightly different tack with his PAC backing three congressional candidates in the Sunshine State." "Businessman Herman Cain Lays Groundwork for Possible Republican Presidential Bid".
Circular firing squad
"Republican state Senate hopeful Jim Norman is challenging a Leon County Circuit Court judge's ruling ordering him off the Nov. 2 ballot."
Norman's attorney Frank Winkles filed a notice of appeal in the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee this morning, just hours after rival Kevin Ambler filed a motion asking Leon Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford to put Ambler's name on the November ballot."Norman appeals ruling; Ambler asks to be put on ballot".
On Friday, Fulford issued a ruling that Norman violated state financial disclosure laws and should be removed from the ballot as a Republican state Senate candidate.
Bill Cotterell: "People power is not a good match for deep-pockets power".
Courtesy of Citizens United
"A federal judge has heard a libertarian group's request to block enforcement of Florida's campaign finance law on political action committees. ... The organization's lawyer based his argument on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision lifting restrictions on corporate and union spending on political campaigns. The libertarians want the law thrown out so PACs no longer would be required to tell who gave them money and what they spent it on." "Federal judge hears request on campaign financing".