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240 posts from February 2010

February 24, 2010

Crist: I'm the real deal, Rubio's 'let's make a deal.'

Gloves are definitely off, or as Gov. Charlie Crist says, "Game on" in the U.S. Senate primary vs. former House Speaker and Crist rival Marco Rubio, who is leading in the race right now. Crist, as we've reported in recent weeks, has been ramping up the negative stuff about Rubio, portraying the West Miami Republican as a hypocrite who doesn't walk the talk when it comes to conservatism.

Crist "I’m confident about the race. I know what the numbers are and all of the projections and all of that stuff. And that’s all fine and well and good. But we’ve got six months to go. And the reality is this: The people really don’t know the opponent.

"You all have covered both him and me. And I think that it’s important before people vote that they are an informed voter. And I am confident that by the time Aug. 24 comes, they’ll be well informed."

Question: What will the people be informed about?

Crist: "What he says isn’t what he does. Do you want the real deal or let’s make a deal? Do you want somebody who really is going to fight for you and is truthful about what he believes in, or somebody who has to think about what the answer is supposed to be because of the group he’s trying to appeal to?"

Question: Like what?

Crist:"Saying he wants to reduce spending and reduce taxes. I hate to say it, when the guy got here, I said it the other day – you really want to be able to judge the character of somebody, give them power and then you’ll see what they’ll do. Well the speaker, to his great credit, rose to power. He was the third most powerful politician in the state of Florida as Speaker of the Florida House. So what did he do when he got power? Well, he comes here to Tallahassee… he hires 20 people at $100,000 a piece. He spends what, half a million dollars to make the place where the House members eat nicer? Are you kidding me? This is a fiscal conservative? Not by any definition that I’ve ever seen. Those things aren’t right. You carve in for a buddy of yours the opportunity to sell food on the Turnpike, and who has to veto it? The governor – who he calls the moderate. Who’s the real fiscal conservative here? His first budget that he presents to me as Speaker of the House when he had power – almost $500 million of earmarks, I’ve got to pull out my veto pen and get rid of them. That’s what I mean."

A few corrections: Not all 22 staffers earned more than $100k. Rubio spent $400k on renovations, which included a members-only dining room. The dining room wasn't $500k. The budget Crist vetoed a record amount of spending from wasn't just Rubio's budget; it was a budget that the Senate signed off on as well and helped stuff with pork.

Meet Ronnie, the new RPOF exec director

New RPOF Chairman John Thrasher has named a replacement for former Executive Director Delmar Johnson: Capitol Hill veteran Ronnie Whitaker, who has been working with former House Speaker Allan Bense on the party's Victory 2010 push.

Whitaker is the first member named to Thrasher's senior management.

“Ronnie recently returned to Florida after having gained political experience over the last 12 years on Capitol Hill and assisting Republican campaigns in 27 states,” Thrasher said in a release. “Ronnie’s diverse experience in managing general strategy, message development and voter targeting as well as his knowledge of how to develop and implement finance and budget plans will certainly provide a great benefit to the RPOF and to our candidates and campaigns.”

A graduate of Crescent City High School in Crescent City, Florida, Whitaker earned a poli sci degree from Thrasher's alma mater, FSU. He most recently served as a regional field director for the Republican State Leadership Committee, developing campaign strategy for a 25-state region.

Whitaker also served as the communications director for the Republican Party of Virginia and as the campaign manager for Kevin Triplett for Congress. He also worked for Congressman Ander Crenshaw, Congressman Dan Miller and for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson.   

Jeff Atwater longs for the days of... Bill Clinton?

Fresh off gobbling up billions in federal money raised by deficit spending in a Democratic Congress, Republican Senate President Jeff Atwater is now interested in... a balanced federal budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Last time there was a balanced budget is when Bill Clinton was president. After Republicans took over the White House and Congress, the deficits began ballooning. But once a Democrat became president again with a Democratic bunch of deficit spenders well -- my God! We've got deficits! Somebody change the Constitution!

Here's Atwater's letter, which has nothing to do with the fact that Atwater is running for state CFO:

Continue reading "Jeff Atwater longs for the days of... Bill Clinton?" »

DLP predicts 'competitive Republican primary'

On the news that Rep. David Rivera plans tomorrow-or-so to announce his bid for Congress, Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla suggested he's close to running against Rivera. Oh boy. Here's the written statement from the Republican Senate leader titled Senate Majority Leader Will Make His Decision at a Thoughtful and Deliberate Speed

"As I seriously consider a bid for Congress this year, my decision will be made at a thoughtful and deliberate speed after careful consultation with family, friends and supporters.  I am humbled by the outpouring of grassroots support I have received as the residents of Congressional District 25 understand this is a critical year for our Conservative Republican party. Our party is in desperate need of a proven, battle-tested Republican who can go toe-to-toe with the liberal Pelosi Democrats and actually win.  As we fight to take our country back from the current liberal agenda, our constituents deserve a choice in this election and I am confident that a competitive Republican primary will ensure the best candidate will emerge to ensure victory in November."

Jail term over for ex-Hollywood commissioner

Former Hollywood City Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom said he got out of the Broward jail at about 11:30 a.m. today. He didn't have much time to talk because he was in the middle of a meeting with the day reporting staff who he will report to for the next six months.

When asked about his plans and whether he will return to his consulting business, the suspended lawyer said: "I haven't figured that out yet. I have to figure out what I'm allowed to do."

Here are some of the rules Wasserstrom will have to follow while under electronic monitoring: he must remain in South Florida, abide by a curfew and tell the truth.

Once a young rising political star in Hollywood, Wasserstrom was convicted in 2007 of lying on conflict of interest forms. He never voted on a contract with a sludge processing firm but prosecutors convinced a jury that he failed to disclose that his firm would earn money if other cities piggybacked on Hollywood's contract. 

Wasserstrom started his jail sentence in January after his appeals were exhausted and served about six weeks. He will have to pay prosecutors about $23,000 toward the cost of prosecuting him.

David Rivera in for Cong. And DLP?

On good information from the lobbyists he's hitting up for cash, we hear Rep. David Rivera plans to announce as early as tomorrow that he's running for Mario Diaz-Balart's U.S. House seat, thereby leaving the state Senate race where he earned raised more than $1m. Not all that can be used in the House race because a good deal of the money is corporate cash that can't be used in a federal race.

Rivera might make his announcement at Florida International University, his alma mater and a recipient of Rivera's largesse as a House budget chairman last year when, despite budget cut backs, he insisted in negotiations with the Senate that state funding be boosted by about $11m more to build an FIU medical school.

Rivera, though, said it wasn't a trade.

"I would never use that term, that it was a trade," Rivera said at the time. "I would say we came to a compromise."

But don't call it pork or (in Tallahassee parlance), a "turkey." FIU (which also hired Rivera pal, former House Speaker Marco Rubio of U.S. Senate campaign fame) said it deserved the money. Apparently big spending is fine for Republicans as long as it takes place in their districts for their alma mater.

Continue reading "David Rivera in for Cong. And DLP?" »

Rubio, DeMint and the 2012 SC primary

From MSNBC/NBC's First Read:

It's amazing to think about it, but it was just a year ago that there was a legitimate debate within the Republican Party whether it should be a "big tent" party or a "purist" one. Now? Many of the big-tenters have either left the building or are running for their lives. Examples: Arlen Specter switched parties; Dede Scozzafava had to quit her race in that NY-23 election because she was perceived being too liberal for a Republican; Marco Rubio is beating Charlie Crist in the polls; and John McCain has steered hard to the right to stave off a serious primary challenge. To put it another way, the GOP has become Jim DeMint's party. I'd rather have 30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters,'' DeMint said at last week's CPAC confab. (Ironically, the way things are going for the GOP in the midterms, it looks like were going to see more than 30 Rubios in the next Senate.)

...DeMint is now trying to deliver a coup de grace to Crist, with his PAC running this internet ad: Will Charlie Switch Parties -- Yes or No? In addition, DeMint is escorting Rubio to handful of fundraisers next month in South Carolina, which has set off 2012 speculation for Rubio (before he's even won his Senate race actually before he's even won his primary). "Some are trying to spin this as a 2012 toe in water, and that's just ridiculous," a GOP source told First Read... But given the rock-star treatment Rubio is getting, does he really need to step inside South Carolina to raise cash? And does Rubio tying himself to DeMint so publicly hurt him in a general election. Florida -- a battleground state Obama won in 08 -- isn't Massachusetts, but how would Scott Brown have fared earlier this year had he publicly stumped with DeMint in South Carolina before hisrace? It's truly stunning that Rubio has agreed to do this; Could Rick Perry have gotten away with a stop in SC, IA or NH during his primary?

Crist responds to Jeb's 'unforgivable' remarks

Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday responded to remarks by former Gov. Jeb Bush that it was "unforgivable" for Crist to embrace President Obama's economic stimulus package. Bush said in a Newsmax TV interview that Crist was the only statewide leader that Bush was aware of who "embraced the stimulus package when Republicans were fighting to suggest an alternative."

"Well, everybody has a right to their opinion," Crist said. "I understand that different people view it in a different way. In the shoes that I stand in right now, I've got to look out for the people, and that's what I'm doing."

Without the stimulus money, Crist said, Florida would have lost another 87,000 jobs, including 20,000 in the teaching profession.

Bush's criticism of Crist is likely to rekindle speculation that it's only a matter of time before the former governor backs Crist's opponent in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Continue reading "Crist responds to Jeb's 'unforgivable' remarks" »

PolitiFact: RGA attack on Sink 'Mostly True'

Mostlytrue PolitiFact took a look at the new RGA ad - "As bank president, Alex Sink eliminated thousands of Florida jobs while taking over $8 million in salary and bonuses. Alex Sink. Not one of us. One of them" - attacking Alex Sink. See here.

Chris Dorworth: I don't gallivant

A top Republican selected Tuesday as the future speaker of the Florida House can't get his own financial house in order.

The home of Rep. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary is in foreclosure. He is struggling to pay a $2.7 million legal judgment from a bad land deal. And his driver's license was temporarily suspended this month after what he called a misunderstanding with his car insurer.

But the financial struggles didn't stop Dorworth, 33, from earning the votes of his Republican colleagues, who anointed him as House speaker for 2014 in a battle that ended last weekend when his main rival, Rep. Erik Fresen of Miami, quit the race.

Dorworth financed his bid to become speaker through his re-election campaign fund and his political committee, Citizens for an Enterprising Democracy. A good portion — more than 30 percent, or $40,000-plus — went into his pocket for reimbursements in the past two years, records show.

Among the recent expenses: a $600 flight to Miami for the Super Bowl and a $527 stay at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

Dorworth said all the expenses were legitimate but acknowledged they don't look good given his financial situation and the dismal economy. He said a campaign for the top post in the House requires a candidate to travel the state, raising and spending big sums to win other lawmakers' support.

"It's a Catch-22 for me," Dorworth said. "If I sit around and do absolutely nothing, then people say, 'Hey man, this guy's got a lot of stuff going on and he's not doing anything.' But if I go out, then you say, 'You're gallivanting around the state.' I clearly don't gallivant. If you've ever seen me before, I'm not a gallivanter."

More here