Rep. Alcee Hastings will lead the international election observation mission for the presidential elections to be held in the Republic of Georgia on January 5 - two days after the US kicks off the presidential primary voting with the Iowa caucuses.
The Broward Democrat, who chairs the Helsinki Commission, was jointly appointed to the position on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe by Foreign Ministers Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain and Ilkka Kanerva of Finland.
"The world will be watching Georgia, and it is my sincere hope that these elections are conducted in the most free, fair, and transparent manner," Hastings said.
Surging GOP'er Mike Huckabee, who picked up campaign cash last night in Miami, picked up support from two more Cuban-American legislators.
House Speaker Marco Rubio is co-chairing Huckabee's Florida operations and colleagues, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami and Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, have signed up as honorary co-chairs of Huckabee's Miami-Dade campaign.
"Gov. Huckabee is a leader who understands the value of freedom and democracy," Rivera said of Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor who once opposed the U.S. embargo on Cuba because of its effect on his state's rice industry. (He says he's now pro-embargo.) "He has demonstrated his commitment to these principles by taking a strong pro-active stance on US policy toward Cuba."
Huckabee, whose recent rise in the polls is shaking up the GOP primary, is raising dollars in Orlando today before flying to Iowa.
Banking on voters in the Sunshine State to boost his fortunes, Rudy Giuliani is campaigning today in Fort Lauderdale, Dania Beach and Miami, and Friday will launch a national TV ad that will air in Florida as well.
The former New York City mayor has not campaigned as aggressively as his GOP rivals in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, instead hoping that a solid showing in the Jan. 29 Florida primary will propel him to the top just in time for the mega-primaries on Feb. 5.
But analysts suggest its a long time to go without a win - Iowa holds its caucuses Jan. 3 and New Hampshire is Jan. 8 - so Giuliani heads to Iowa and New Hampshire after an appearance tomorrow in Orlando.
Today, he meets with the press in Fort Lauderdale, holds a "law enforcement" town hall meeting in Dania and is to deliver remarks at the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Miami.
His new ad, available here, contains a familiar theme for Giuliani, who is staking much of his campaign on his post 911 performance.
According to the Jerusalem Post, former Gov. Jeb Bush, his wife Columba, and his children are arriving Monday in Israel. The visit comes two weeks before older brother President George W. Bush is scheduled to make his first trip to the country since he became President.
The Post describes the trip as a "private visit" that will include stops in Massada, Nazareth and a tour of the northern border with Deputy Chief of General Staff. Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel. Bush is scheduled to meet Monday with Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and a number of Knesset members.
Fresh from accepting his Nobel Peace Prize and enduring a Jenny Craig weight-loss blitz, former vice president Al Gore has decided to make a last-ditch bid for the presidency he believes was stolen from him in 2000.
But admit it, in the helter-skelter, roller-coaster-riding, anything-can-happen presidential campaign of 2008, it's possible. For more hoaxes and surprises, the rest of Beth Reinhard's column is here.
Following a suggestion from Interim Director Bob Milligan, the audit committee for the State Board of Administration voted today to hire an outside law firm to assist with the controversy surrounding with the Local Government Investment Pool.
The move to hire outside lawyers was urged by both Gov. Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. Tara Klimek, a spokeswoman for Sink, said the push for outside attorneys was another way to reassure investors about what is going on with the pool. Several people, including Pat Frank, the clerk of the court for Hillsborough County, have raised questions about the legality of what the trustees of the SBA have done to the local pool, including limiting money to the assets and using November interest payments to help out Fund B, the segregated group of investments that caused the near collapse of the pool.
"This is to provide more confidence to investors,'' said Klimek. "There have been a lot of rumors...This is to answer those legal questions.''
Secretary of State Kurt Browning said that the state will take steps starting on Dec. 28 to add at least 14,000 voters previously rejected back to the rolls while the state continues its legal fight over a 2-year-old voter registration law. The state also plans to go back and add as many as an additional 2,000 voters who were rejected between Oct. 1 and now to the rolls.
Browning told the Miami Herald today that state officials have always intended to comply with the ruling of Judge Stephan Mickle - but that it took a couple of days to deal with the logistical and technical issues.
"Quite honestly, we are changing the tire on a car going 100 miles per hour,'' said Browning.
And Browning said even though lawyers for the state have requested a judge to lift the injunction - state officials are moving full speed ahead to comply with Mickle's order. Mickle sided with the NAACP and other groups that contended Florida's "no match" law that requires the state to match information from voter registration applications with state and federal databases appears to violate federal voting rights laws.
Former state Sen. Skip Campbell is thinking about his New Year's resolution for 2008 and it goes something like this: beat Jeff Atwater, the North Palm Beach Republican senator (whose Senate district has favored Dems in some recent elections.)
"I may be coming back,'' Campbell told the Miami Herald on Friday. "The Democrats are trying to get me to run against Jeff Atwater.''
Campbell said he will make up his mind after the New Year but, he says, in his unsuccessful run for attorney general last year, Campbell won in Atwater's district "and three polls show I can win again.''
Two weeks ago, Atwater was just named by his Republican colleagues the incoming Senate president, in line to replace Ken Pruitt in 2009.
Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill McCollum, said this afternoon that there was no reason for McCollum to urge Bob Milligan to hire outside counsel to analyze what's going on with the State Board of Administration because he has the power to do that already.
"He has the discretion to hire outside counsel at the appropriate time,'' said Copes. "The Attorney General trusts Milligan to decide if he needs to do that.''
Both Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist - who named Milligan as interim director of the SBA earlier this month - sent out a one-sentence statement urging Milligan to get outside help in reviewing what happened with the near collapse of the Local Government Investment Pool, which led to the resignation of executive director Coleman Stipanovich.