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134 posts from October 2006

October 25, 2006

GOP pushes Crist's NRA endorsement

Charlie Crist poses with two members of the Pinellas Park shooting club, the Wyoming Antelope Club, in a new mailer out this week which proclaims: "Our 2nd Amendment Rights are Safe with Charlie."

The mailer is paid for by the Republican Party of Florida and continues the gun rights group's effort to promote Crist among gun owners. The National Rifle Association has also paid for billboards across Central Florida along Interstate-75 touting its endorsement of the attorney general.

The lead widens

A new poll shows Sen. Bill Nelson opening an even wider margin over Republican opponent Rep. Katherine Harris.

The Quinnipiac University poll, which earlier this week suggested the governor's race is tightening, gave Nelson a 64 percent edge to Harris' 29 percent. That compares to 61-33 percent Nelson lead in an Oct. 11 poll.

Seven percent remain undecided in the poll of 816 likely voters and 10 percent of those who named a candidate said they might change their minds by election day.

Still, the poll notes that Nelson leads "across virtually all demographic groups and regions" - even garnering 33 percent of Republican voters to Harris's 62 percent.

"Sen. Nelson can sleep very well at night. It would be hard to think of a previous election in which a U.S. Senate candidate was up 35 points with two weeks to go and lost the election,'' said Peter Brown, assistant director of the university's polling institute.

The poll was conducted Oct. 18 to 22 - before the pair's first debate - and has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

The poll also carries some sobering news for President Bush, who campaigned Tuesday in Florida on behalf of embattled GOP Congressional candidates.

The poll shows a majority of those surveyed - 58 to 36 percent - disapprove of the job Bush is doing. And by 52 to 35 percent, voters said they prefer the Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress.

By a 45 to 18 percent margin, those surveyed said the administration's and Republican-led Congress's records make them less likely to back GOP candidates running for office in Florida.

But at a White House press conference Wednesday morning, Bush rejected polls that suggest Democrats will take over at least one chamber of Congress.

"We're going to win,' Bush said. "From our perspective, our people are ready to go out there and vote to return our candidates to power."

October 24, 2006

Weigh in on tonight's debate

Chat with Herald political reporters during tonight's debate between governor candidates Charlie Crist and Jim Davis. Just post a comment here and share your thoughts with Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas and staff writer Gary Fineout, who will be offering their perspective in real time. You don't have to register.

Max Linn not ready for prime time

Reform Party candidate Max Linn's effort to crash tonight's debate has been blocked by the Fourth District Court of Appeal. Linn sued on Monday to force groups putting on the debate between Charlie Crist and Jim Davis to include him as well. A Broward County judge agreed but the groups putting on the debate appealed that order. And the court quickly responded this afternoon in a one-page order, saying the "debate may proceed without the participation" of Linn.

Debate organizers were obviously pleased with the decision.

"We fully respect Max Linn's candidacy, but we believe our criteria, based on a threshold of support, offered an opportunity for a robust debate,'' said Jeff Bartel, chairman of Leadership Florida, which is sponsoring the debate along with the Florida Press Association and the Florida Public Broadcasting Service.

Black group calls for Arza to resign

A Miami community activist organization, People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, has called a 4 p.m. press conference to demand that Miami Rep. Ralph Arza resign for making racially insensitive remarks left in a phone message for Rep. Gus Barreiro, R-Miami Beach. Arza has apologized but the group's president, Rev. Richard Dunn, says the black community is "outraged at the racist slurs" and says "our community must take a strong stand and demand Arza...resign."

Mailer calls Crist "Pro-Life leader."

North Florida voters--including Democrats--are getting a mailer from the Republican Party of Florida that describes a different side to Attorney General Charlie Crist. The slick, two-sided brochure has a smiling picture of a couple that says "because every life has meaning." Inside voters are told that Crist is a "pro-life leader."

The mailer notes Crist voted for a ban on partial birth abortions, that he supports voluntary silent prayer in schools and that he has "backed efforts to permit the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings." It also notes he supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and that he "supports Florida's ban on gay adoption."

While on the campaign trail, however, Crist has also come out in favor of embryonic stem cell research, said he favors civil unions for gays because he's a "live and let live" kind of a guy, and has said that he would rather change "hearts" than change the law when it comes to abortion. While in the state senate Crist also voted against requiring a waiting period before an abortion can be performed.

And let's not forget that Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and his allies constantly called Crist "pro-choice" and that he would take Florida down the path of "Liberal Lane."

Three's a crowd at tonight's debate

Organizers of tonight's gubernatorial debate between Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis have appealed a ruling that calls for the virtually unkown Reform Party candidate, Max Linn, to participate.

The request was filed with the 4th District Court of Appeals, said Jeff Bartel, chairman of Leadership Florida, which is sponsoring the debate along with the Florida Press Association and the Florida Public Broadcasting Service.

"Right now it's up to the court to decide whether we will have two or three participants,'' Bartel said. "We are planning for the prospect of three participants.''

Bartel said it is unclear whether the court will respond before the 8 p.m. debate, which will be broadcast live on all public television stations.

"We think the voters of Florida will welcome the opportunity to hear from Max Linn and know that there is an alternative to the two-party system,'' said his spokesman, Liz McCallum.

Barreiro: Arza, the N-word = Flavor of the Month

Rep. Gus Barreiro, the Miami Beach Republican, took the airwaves this morning to discuss Rep. Ralph Arza and Arza's recent diatribe against Barreiro. While on The Jim DeFede show, Barreiro called Arza a racist, a "street-level thug" and was dismissive of Arza's statement that he had been drinking the night he called Barreiro and left a ranting message on voice mail.

"To me, to sit back and blame it on alcohol, I guess that's the flavor of month,'' said Barreiro. "Representative Foley is the flavor of the month because somehow he was abused as a young person. Now it's okay, that's an excuse for abusing other kids. Because you are drinking that's an excuse to act irresponsibly.''

Barreiro then said that Arza should give up his House seat: "If he can't make rational decisions because of alcohol he should resign and seek help."

Click here to listen to the entire interview.

What do voters want from tonight's debate? Share your thoughts on Herald's interactive forum

With polls showing the race for governor may be tightening, the pressure is on for Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis to perform. Each must display his strengths while drilling into his opponents weaknesses and exposing flaws. What strategy do you think each candidate should take? What questions and topics do you want to hear?

Please share your thoughts here before the debate and log-in to Naked Politics for an interactive forum with reporters during the debate. No registration will be required. You can listen to a live webcast of the event from your computer on WLRN radio, or watch it on your own TV. Check back onto Naked Politics for links before the debate and then join us with your comments.

An angry Arza calls Barreiro, Barreiro calls the cops

Angered that an issue he thought he'd resolved had surfaced again, Miami Rep. Ralph Arza called Miami Beach Rep. Gus Barreiro on Saturday  blistering mad. The message he left on Barreiro's cell phone was filled with invective that Arza later described as "offensive and shameful." Arza publicly apologized late Monday, but the police investigation has begun. Read more here.