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178 posts from November 2008

November 18, 2008

Peter Deutsch says he's the change Broward needs

Former Broward Congressman Peter Deutsch confirmed that he is running as chair of the Broward Democratic Party.

He wants to replace Mitch Ceasar who has held the job for 12 years.

"It's a case of people coming to me more than me coming to people,'' he said speaking on a cell phone from Beijing where he is on business. "There are people who are really not happy with the local party and really want change.''

The party's executive committee -- which consists of about 900 people -- will vote Dec. 7. If he wins, Deutsch says he wants to hire a professional director who isn't a lobbyist. That's a stab at Ceasar who works as a lobbyist.

"If you are being paid to lobby there is a question of where are your loyalties?'' Deutsch said.

Deutsch said he is supportive of candidates running for other positions within the party -- including Linda Bird who lost a state senate race to Jeff Atwater -- but he says they aren't running together as a slate.

Asked how he could run Broward's Democratic Party when he lives part time in Israel, Deutsch said that he is accessible.

"You reached me in Beijing,'' he said. "It's a small world.''

Broward Dem chair to face Peter Deutsch

Broward Democrats fired up about Barack Obama and smarting from losing the sheriff's race and two key state legislative contests say it's time for a shake up at their own party headquarters.

Former Congressman Peter Deutsch will challenge Mitch Ceasar for the position of chair of the Broward Democratic Party, according to active Democrats supporting Deutsch.

Deutsch couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon but Robin Rorapaugh, his former chief of staff, said he plans to run in the Dec. 7 election. Rorapaugh is the spokesperson for a coalition of organized labor, GLBT leaders, and other active Democrats who say after 12 years it's time for Ceasar to go.

"There is a lot of new blood in the county, a lot of opportunity like the governor's race upcoming, the U.S. Senate race upcoming. All of those need Broward County to be the vote producing machine,'' she said. "At this point doing things the same old way is not going to get the party and candidates across the finish line.''

Some of Deutsch's other supporters include Michael Albetta, a board member of the Dolphin Democrats, and Dan Reynolds, AFL-CIO president.

Ceasar, an attorney and lobbyist, said he's heard the rumors for months that Deutsch planned to challenge him for the four-year unpaid gig. He says he shouldn't be blamed for Republican Sheriff Al  Lamberti's victory or for Republicans Jeff Atwater and Ellyn Bogdanoff keeping their seats in the state Legislature.

"They were all incumbents,'' he said. "They raised unbelievable amounts of money.''

Deutsch will run on a slate along with Linda Bird who lost the senate race to Atwater, Marta Prado, wife of former Attorney General Bob Butterworth and activist Ron Mills.

Since losing the U.S. Senate primary in 2004 to Betty Castor who later lost to Republican Mel Martinez, Deutsch launched a charter school that teaches Hebrew in Hollywood.

On Dec. 7, about 900 members of the Broward Democratic Executive Committee will vote for a chair.

Nelson cracks the whip

Bill Nelson's been named to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's leadership team. Nelson will serve as one of three deputy whips -- expected to play a role in marshalling the caucus.

Chief Deputy Whip is California Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Atwater for CFO?

It's barely Day 1 for the new Legislature, and already the jockeying for the 2010 ballot is beginning. One name is rising to the surface: Senate President Jeff Atwater for Chief Financial Officer.

Republican fundraisers have started floating the Atwater-CFO race. And a top legislative Republican said it's being discussed at high levels and that Atwater would be foolish not to give it a go. Affable, sharp and the scion of a political family that includes two Florida governors, Atwater's a banker like current CFO Alex Sink and he knows how to hit up donors for loads of cash - a skill intensified by his new office. Atwater's changes to the senate's political-committee disclosure laws probably won't hurt, either.

Beating Sink wouldn't be easy. But then, he might not have to run against her. Informed speculators say U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez is weak and, considering his shakey performance against Betty Castor in 2004, Sink could give him a real run.

Continue reading "Atwater for CFO?" »

Martinez: "No one wants to see the American automobile industry fail"

The auto industry is making its case for a $25 billion rescue plan, but it's getting a skeptical reception.

"No one wants to see the American automobile industry fail, but equally, no one wants to see taxpayer dollars put at risk in an investment that is at best risky and perhaps destined to fail," Sen. Mel Martinez said at today's banking committee meeting.

"What assurances will you give us that you are putting forth a business model that can be sustained? " Martinez asked of the auto industry execs.

He said he's "not against helping the industry stay afloat....the last thing we need is additional unemployment," he said.

Continue reading "Martinez: "No one wants to see the American automobile industry fail"" »

Baker throws in hat for Ag Commish

Sen. Carey Baker of Eustis said he's making it official: He's running for Agriculture Commissioner in two years. Rep. Marty Bowen of Haines City might do the same thing, and U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam might as well. So get ready for a Republican rural battle royale

Dem fundraiser Milton Ferrell dies

From the Daily Business Review:

Prominent Miami attorney Milton M. Ferrell Jr. has died from complications of mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked primarily to asbestos exposure.

Ferrell started his legal career in Miami in 1977 when he joined his father’s legal practice handling criminal defense work. He shifted to civil litigation in the late 1980s and started taking international clients in 1993. With the turn of the millennium, Ferrell took his firm worldwide, opening offices in cities like Beirut, Buenos Aires and Mexico City.

A firm that in 2000 had one office and 12 lawyers mushroomed to a 17-office, 67-lawyer litigation boutique by 2003. The firm suffered some major departures but maintained its offices in New York and Buenos Aires.

Ferrell, 57, was lauded as a superb lawyer and a shrewd businessman who emphasized community involvement as past chairman of the Jackson Memorial Foundation and a board member of the American Red Cross of Greater Miami.

An active Democrat, Ferrell was the Florida finance chairman of U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

One of Ferrell’s last acts in court was as a plaintiff. He and his wife Lori filed an asbestos liability suit last week against Chrysler, General Motors, Borg Warner and others, alleging the companies were negligent in their use of asbestos, which he blamed for causing his mesothelioma.

He died Saturday. He was survived by his wife, daughter Whitney and son Morgan.


Lieberman keeps his post, thanks Nelson

Senate Democrats today decided not to oust Joe Lieberman from the caucus or his committee chairmanship despite campaigning against president-elect Barack Obama. Among those helping Lieberman retain his status: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

The Dems emerged from a closed door session to announce they voted against expelling the Connecticut Democrat: "He's part of this caucus,'' Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Lieberman thanked Reid and singled out what he called "four great friends who led this effort to draft this resolution ...my senior senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd, Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and Senator Tom Carper of Delaware."

From Kipling to dad's wisdom to a select committee, Atwater takes office

Incoming Senate President Jeff Atwater used his inaugural speech to announce that he'll appoint a bipartisan select committee to examine the state's finances and make recommendations for legislation and, potentially, constitutional amendments for the voters.

"We face unprecedented challenges that cannot be deferred and will not be delayed," Atwater said before making the announcement.

"Our national economic storm has cast us upon a sea of uncertainty," he said. "There is a long and uncertain journey ahead."

Atwater, a Republican, said the senate will lead by example and took a shot at local government, saying they appear to tax and spend too much. He said government must act "not as an anchor, but as a sail" to allow private business to take off.

Atwater also called on his colleagues to protect the Everglades and to think big to help create a dynamic state with high-wage jobs and nationally acclaimed universities.

Referencing Rudyard Kipling, the journeys of Lewis and Clark, and Abraham Lincoln, Atwater also quoted his father who, on Sunday mornings, would line up the family military-style before breakfast and tell them to "grab it and growl" before heading out to church.

"Senators," Atwater said, "let's grab it and growl."

Sansom takes helm, 'flattens' rules and vows 'to be humble'

Florida's first Cuban American House Speaker, Marco Rubio, handed over the reins of the Florida House to his successor, Destin businessman Ray Sansom, who has been the chamber's budget chief for the last two years.

Sansom thanked Rubio for letting him chair the budget "in the worst economy Florida's ever faced. I mean that. Thanks."

He urged members to think about how they will be judged by Florida voters in two years when they're up for election again. He urged them to "take the approach that we're just a little underqualified every day,'' to "dig in and problem solve,'' and to be smart.

He repeated his call to "stay grounded, to stay connected and to avoid distractions."

"Tallahassee is not our home,'' he said. "Our homes are the districts that sent us here. The answers are not found on the four walls of this chamber." 

Sanson's hand-picked Rules chairman, Rep. Bill Galvano of Sarasota, described the House's new rules, as published this morning on the House web site. The goal, he said, is to "flatten leadership'' and allow "each and every member to be part of the process.''

As a result, there will be more powerful committees and the committees will no longer "be subject to the sanction of the hierarchy and it should set a stage for a real interchange of ideas.''

Among the changes is the creation of a House Office of Reapportionment, to prepare the way for the 2012 rewrite of state legislative districts based on the 2010 census. There will be a Finance and Tax Council, two Appropriations Councils -- for education and education development and general governmetn and health care. Sansom has yet to announced committee appointments.

He will continue Rubio's rule change, which will allow the Democratic leader, Rep. Franklin Sands, to name a “ranking member” of each committee.