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213 posts from July 2008

July 30, 2008

Sheriff's candidate links himself to Obama

Political experts say the Democratic candidates for Broward sheriff are trying to ride on the coattails of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Candidates for sheriff hope that Broward voters turning out to cast a ballot for Obama will also choose a Democrat for sheriff.

One candidate, Shahrukh Dhanji, is trying to link his campaign with Obama through a joint fundraiser.

Dhanji's website advertises an upcoming cocktail reception Aug. 7 in Fort Lauderdale presented by South Asians for Obama (SAFO) and Dhanji's campaign. Donations benefit both campaigns, states the invitation.

Anhoni Patel, spokesperson for SAFO, said that the organization doesn't endorse candidates.

"This was simply intended as a grassroots event to allow local members of the South Asian community to meet Mr. Dhanji as well as our local SAFO grassroots organizers,'' she wrote in an email. "We regret any misunderstanding about the nature of this event, which has been postponed due to logistical conflicts.''

The Obama campaign isn't getting involved in the sheriff's race, said Obama spokesman Bobby Gravitz.

Click here to see Dhanji's website   

McCain ad: Obama is just another Britney

Republican John McCain is up with a new television ad today that tries to undermine Democrat Barack Obama as a serious candidate by juxtaposing his image with celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The ad asks: "He's the biggest celebrity in the world? But is he ready to lead?"

McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, said in a conference call with reporters that the Obama campaign was "focused on the development of enormous image of celebrity status.'' Watch it here:

Charity hospitals bash tax-swap plan

Add the Florida Safety Net Hospital Alliance to the array of folks and groups that loathe Amendment 5, which proposes to eliminate state-required school property taxes in favor of potentially raising other taxes, cutting the budget and hiking the sales tax by a penny.

Joining a host of business groups and Republican and Democratic legislators alike, the alliance outlines all the reasons it opposes the amendment in an in-depth white paper authored by former Department of Revenue chief James Zingale.

Reading between the lines, the hospital group (which includes Jackson Memorial Hospital) has one major objection: It doesn't trust the Legislature to make wise taxation and spending decisions. But the study says far more than that:

Download snhaf_final_tax_swap_paper.pdf

Bird kicks off campaign against Atwater

After a bit of a false start, the Democratic campaign against incumbent state Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, is beginning anew with a campaign kick-off party on Thursday night in Fort Lauderdale.

The kick-off party for Linda Bird, a Broward activist and real estate agent who officially qualified for the race last week, will be held at L'Hermitage, a prominent condo tower inside the coastal district that stretches from Broward to Palm Beach County.

In attendance, according to the invitation: state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, and the race's former Democratic challenger Walter "Skip" Campbell. Campbell's much-talked-about departure from the high-profile state Senate campaign catapulted Bird into the race earlier this month.

But Bird has a tough (some say an impossible) road ahead of her. While rumors about Campbell's candidacy and a possible replacement candidate circulated, Atwater, the incoming Senate president, was extending his substantial fundraising lead.

The Republican senator has raised about $313,000 since the beginning of April, according to campaign finance reports released last week. And although that total pales in comparison to previous quarters, it still leaves Atwater with a campaign war chest of about $1.9 million -- by far the biggest in the Legislature.

And Atwater has well over $2 million in his coffers when you add in the money raised by his political organization, Preserve the American Dream.

Political whitewash?

The hundreds of caricatures of South Florida notables that adorned the walls of The Palm in Coral Gables are gone -- just like the restaurant at Village of Merrick Park.

Among them: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; former Gov. Jeb Bush; Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas; Gables Mayor Don Slesnick; attorney Roy Black; Dolphins Dan Marino and Bob Griese.

Read more here.

Florida is top state for Obama ads

For those still wondering if Democrat Barack Obama is really going to play in Florida: He has run more than 7,000 ads in the state -- spending more here than in any other state -- since becoming the presumptive nominee, according to the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project.

Obama has spent more than $5 million in Florida, according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project's analysis of TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG data. Running a distant second is Georgia, where Obama has spent $1.8 million.

Republican John McCain has not run a single ad in Florida since June 3rd, though voters may catch his commercials on cable. Obama also has the airwaves to himself in North Carolina, Indiana, Montana and Alaska. Former

"It is certainly worth noting that Obama is up in these red states and has the airways all to himself,'' said Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project. "That said, we won't really know if he's expanding the playing field until September."

July 29, 2008

More evidence of hot races?

Democrats note two South Florida congressional races -- Raul Martinez v. Lincoln Diaz-Balart -- and Joe Garcia v. Mario Diaz-Balart -- have made the cut of competitive races at the Rothenberg Political Report for the first time.

The Lincoln/Raul matchup was added as "leans Republican," and the Garcia/Diaz-Balart head to head was rated as "Republican favored."

Ash Williams resumes head of state pension fund

After a decade on Wall Street, Ash Williams will return to work in Florida government as head of the State Board of Administration. He will be replacing Robert Milligan, the state's former comptroller who took the job on as interim director last December, after then-director Coleman Stipanovich resigned in the wake of a run by municipal governments n the local government investment pool.

Gov.  Charlie Crist and the Cabinet unanimously approved Williams' appointment. He last headed the SBA in 1996 and was lured away to Wall Street where he managed investment funds for corporate clients. Back in Florida, he will manage the $166 billion Florida Retirement System accounts and make an annual salary of $325,000.

UPDATE: Dems to target Hispanics, "even in Miami"

National Democrats and Barack Obama's campaign rolled out what they're calling an "unprecedented, historic" effort at wooing Hispanic voters across the U.S. The initial pricetag for the voter registration and advertising effort: $20 million.

The effort will focus on swing states with sizeable Hispanic populations, including Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Democrats said it's the earliest and most aggressive effort a Democratic presidential candidate has ever attempted.

"I've never seen this level of commitment, in terms of resource, in terms of staff and this early in a campaign," said Tampa's Frank Sanchez, national chairman of the Obama for America National Hispanic Leadership Council. "Those to me are three indicators of the seriousness with which we're taking the Hispanic/Latino community."

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-NY, a onetime Hillary Clinton supporter, noted Obama lost overwhelmingly to Clinton in the Democratic primaries and though polls show him closing the gap, it would "be foolish of any campaign not to truly target that group to bring it in."

Continue reading "UPDATE: Dems to target Hispanics, "even in Miami"" »

Who knew? Rubio loves 'Wedding Crashers'

House Speaker Marco Rubio has updated his Facebook page quite a bit since this blogger wrote about it one month ago here. The conservative Republican's favorite movies include R-rated hits Pulp Fiction and Wedding Crashers.

Rubio has an impressively long list of 711 friends, though he's still "a Republican with 0 beliefs."

Here's his response to Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm's take on his new job at FIU:

"If you are looking for proof that the mainstream media is losing any objectivity, please read this column. Mr. Grimm ignores the fact that my salary is being paid mostly by private funds. He blames me personally for budget cuts at FIU (ignoring the fact that we are living in the worst budget conditions in the HISTORY of Florida). Of course he doesn't offer any ideas about where we could have gotten the money to increase funding for universities (especially since we had over $5 BILLION LESS than the year before). He even reads Professor Hauptli's mind!

"I do not take this personal. It comes with the territory. But these guys (especially the Miami Herald for some reason), see every story as an opportunity to spin to the negative. By the way, Mr Grimm never called me for my side of the story! Anyway, I am proud and excited about my new assignment."