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134 posts from October 2006

October 27, 2006

Courting Cuban exiles

The Republican Party of Florida has launched a new ad linking Democrat Jim Davis to a villain that to Cuban-Americans, looms even larger than Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden: Fidel Castro. Check it out at www.rpof.org or www.charliecrist.com.

The Spanish-language ad rips the Tampa congressman and candidate for governor for visiting Cuba but fails to mention that he met with leading dissidents. 

"I did not see Fidel Castro while I was there,'' he told The Miami Herald in August. "I wanted to see for myself the plight of the Cuban people, and I came back more convinced than ever that Fidel Castro has treated his people miserably.''

In related news, the ACLU asked a judge Thursday to suspend a state law that bans universities in Florida from allowing travel to Cuba for research and academic exchanges. Read more about the lawsuit here.

October 26, 2006

Nelson ponies up

Sitting comfortably atop a 20-plus point lead in the polls, Sen. Bill Nelson said Thursday he's giving $250,000 to the Florida Democratic Party's get-out-the vote efforts.

Nelson, who has raised more than $14 million for his re-election campaign, has been criticized by some Democrats for not sharing more of the wealth.

But Nelson in a press release said the contribution brings to $2.3 million the money he's raised or given to state and national Democrats in competitive races. That includes about $1.2 million for the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and about $1.1 million raised or contributed to the state party.

Nelson said the money will benefit voter turnout efforts on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, along with Cabinet and congressional candidates. It will also boost Nelson, who is listed first on the ballot.

Debate broadcasts

Political junkies: Start your TIVOs.

At 7:30 a.m. Sunday, the first broadcast will be made of Tuesday's debates between attorney general candidates Bill McCollum (R) and Walter "Skip" Campbell (D), and CFO candidates Alex Sink (D) and Tom Lee (R).

The debates, hosted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and The Miami Herald, were held Tuesday at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Key Biscayne.

The broadcasts will be shown again at 8 a.m. Monday and Tuesday.

You can find the local channel for your area by going to this web page, and scrolling down: http://www.fcta.com/programming.html 

Jones mum on Dawson defection

Daryl Jones, former state senator from Miami and running mate of U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, wouldn't say much Thursday about the decision of State Sen. Mandy Dawson, a member of the Legislature's black caucus and a Fort Lauderdale Democrat to endorse GOP candidate Charlie Crist.

"I really don't have anything to say about it,'' said Jones, who shrugged off all follow-up questions regarding the endorsement, which was announced by the Coalition for Bipartisan Progress, a 527 organization started up by supporters of Rod Smith, who lost to Davis in the Democratic primary. In her letter to the coalition, Dawson, who has been reprimanded by the Senate for her dealings with lobbyists, praises Crist as a "great public servant" and says he "listens," "deliberates" and "cares."

Things Jones was willing to talk about? He said that he wanted to match up against Rep. Jeff Kottkamp in a lieutenant governor debate but that the Crist campaign had refused. And Jones praised how Speaker Designate Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican has dealt with the controversy surrounding Rep. Ralph Arza, the Hialeah Republican who left a obscenity and racial ephitet-filled message on the voice mail of a fellow Republican. "The incoming speaker has taken the right action,'' said Jones.

Campbell: Terrorist threat due to outsourcing

State Sen. Skip Campbell, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General Charlie Crist, lambasted GOP frontrunner Charlie Crist again Thursday for failing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the shipment of sensitive personnel data overseas to India and Barbardos by a company working for Convergys, the corporation that took over personnel functions for state government.

But Campbell this time notched up the rhetoric, saying that allowing social security numbers and drivers license information for state employees to go overseas could lead to identity theft, including by those who may "terrorist purposes,'' also adding there is a "potential for terrorists getting this information and getting into the United States and doing harm." Campbell's press conference on the Convergys contract included the two whistleblowers who used to work for GDX, a Colorado based company that at one time was responsible for indexing millions of personnel files. (GDX no longer has a contract, a lawyer representing the women said.)

At the same event, Campbell unveiled a new television ad that will begin airing in "select" markets that blasts his opponent Bill McCollum for pushing a change to the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to file lawsuits that contend that the government is being defrauded. The legislation did not pass but it was roundly criticized by GOP U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa at the time.

Democrats to walk out on Arza

The Democrats in the Florida House of Representatives are threatening a rare and politically explosive walkout from the chamber floor if Rep. Ralph Arza is not immediately removed from office for his repeated use of racial slurs and what they call his allegedly bullying behavior.

The Democrats' decision in a closed-door meeting came within hours of a move by House Speaker Allan Bense to fast-track an inquiry into Arza's taped, profanity-laced tirade, left on the cellphone of Miami Rep. Gus Barreiro late Saturday.

Read more here.

October 25, 2006

Crist Unplugged!

Fresh off his debate with U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, Attorney General Charlie Crist barnstormed across the Panhandle on Wednesday _ making stops in Pensacola, Shalimar, Santa Rosa Beach and Panama City, an area that he called "Victory Lane" based upon the Panhandle's record of voting heavily for Republicans.

While traveling on his tour bus, Crist sat down with reporters and talked about everything from Rep. Ralph Arza to insurance. Some of the tidbits include: Crist said he "probably would" have vetoed the insurance bill passed this past spring by the Florida Legislature, which included a subsidy to Citizens Insurance to minimize the surchage it would need to charge in order to make up an operating deficit. Crist favored sending money directly to the people instead of routing it through Citizens. That bill also allows insurance companies to get small automatic rate increases without state regulatory review _ although most companies are asking for amounts far beyond what's covered in the bill.

On Arza, Crist would not say if the Miami Republican should resign, saying instead that he supported "the efforts" of Speaker Designate Marco Rubio on what should be done. "I think it's appropriate to conduct an investigation,'' Crist said.

On the issue of automatic restoration of felons voting, Crist said he is willing to consider issuing an executive order to accomplish that goal. "I would like to do it the most expedient way,'' he said.

Gun-loving Broward Democrats for Crist?

A new mailer from the Republican Party of Florida touts Charlie Crist's endorsement from the National Rifle Association. "Charlie Crist proudly defends our Second Amendment rights,'' says the mailer, which features photos of the candidate for governor holding a rifle.

This would be a smart, targeted mailing had it landed in the mailbox of a conservative Republican, or perhaps a rural Democrat. But it came to diehard Democrats in the state's liberal stronghold of Broward County.

"For us, this is a persuasion piece in favor of Jim Davis,'' said a puzzled Dan Reynolds, president of the Broward AFL-CIO.

Some Broward Democrats also received another mailing from the Republican party that calls Crist a "pro-family conservative'' who opposes same-sex marriage, adoption by gay couples and abortion. 

The GOP denied that the mailings were a mistake. "We are reaching out to all types of voters, regardless of their party,'' said party spokesman Jeff Sadosky.

Boosting the early vote

Coasting comfortably ahead of his Republican challenger, Sen. Bill Nelson plans to cast an early vote Thursday in Orlando.

According to the Democrat's campaign, Nelson will vote at 10:30 a.m. at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office before heading to Tampa for a political event.

Floridians began casting early votes on Monday and Nelson noted, "with early voting there's no excuse for anyone not to participate."

A poll out Wednesday showed Nelson with a 64 to 29 percent lead over Rep. Katherine Harris.

Jeb says it's Arza's own call to resign

Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday state Rep. Ralph Arza's racially-charged phone messages to Rep. Gus Barreiro "is really unfortunate" but the Republican governor stopped short of saying the Miami lawmaker should resign.

"He's got problems. He's got to work on his problems,'' Bush said, adding that Arza has been a leader and "a great partner in education reform" as a member of the legislature. "Now, I think it's time for him to focus on his own personal issues. Whether he stays in the legislature is really up to him but, he's not going to be in leadership and I think that's appropriate.''

The governor did offer Arza a bit of advice: "After you do something like this, you've got to explain yourself and you've got to seek forgiveness. I don't know if that's possible. Opening up wounds like that just doesn't make sense. It's tragic and sad."