Pundits had questioned what a Crist indie bid would mean for George LeMieux, Crist's one top aide whom Crist appointed to the Senate. Here's the answer: "I am saddened that my friend, Governor Crist, has decided to leave the Republican Party.
"Our friendship runs deep, but my commitment to the principles of the Republican Party runs deeper," said LeMieux, who has been talked about as a potential 2012 challenger to Democrat Bill Nelson. "I cannot walk down the path he has chosen. Now more than ever, our nation’s future depends on our ability to uphold the core Republican ideals of fiscal restraint, peace through strength, individual liberty, personal responsibility and smaller government.
"I will support our Republican nominee and will continue to do everything I can both in Florida and across the country to increase the number of Republicans in the United States Senate."
Got this from a lobbyist...
10. Lobbyists have implemented “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on whether or not they support Charlie Crist.
9. RPOF bans use of AmEx card – no limit on use of the Race card.
8. Haridopolos adds Glenn Beck viewers to the list of
“Communities of Interest."
7. DROP retirement plan now defined as “retire when you drop
6. Red light camera bill diluted to Thad Altman sitting on the
corner with a Polaroid.
5. All this talk of “Python” and “Guns” legislation prompting
Hulk Hogan to consider 2010 run.
4. Turns out DMS had info for JD all along, just couldn’t find
3. Kevin Ambler winding down farewell speech.
2. After 20 hour caucus meeting –Senate Dems take a unified
position – side with Sandra Bullock.
1. Ray Sansom seen writing proviso.
And you thought Florida's topsy-turvy election year couldn't get crazier. Now comes billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene of Palm Beach, a Democrat, jumping into Florida's already chaotic U.S. Senate race.
“I am an outsider, the only candidate who isn’t a career politician. I’ve succeeded in the real world of hard work – the others have only succeeded at running for political office after office,’’ said Greene, 55, in a video announcing his candidacy.
Greene said he he will refuse campaign contributions from special interests, and will limit individual donations to $100. That should be no giant sacrifice considering that Forbes last year estimated his net worth at $1.25-billion.<br> His colorful profile - Mike Tyson was best man at his 2008 wedding, ex-Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss lived in his guest house after prison, and he made many of his millions betting on the housing collapse that killed Florida's economy - normally would make a candidate like Greene a long shot.
But in a race where Democratic frontrunner Kendrick Meek is little known to most voters and Crist non-partisan candidacy means it will be a three-way race, Greene's ability to saturate Florida TV with commercials could make him a major contender.
"There is a big difference between what I did and what Wall Street did. What Wall Street did was wrong – they were motivated by greed and tried to win either way. That’s why I am a strong supporter of President Obama’s efforts to reform our financial regulatory system,'' said Greene, explaining that he invested in complex credit default swaps to protect his real estate investestments when he saw the real estate bubble look shaky. "Never did I imagine that the subprime mortgage market would implode, and I would make hundreds of millions of dollars."
Greene's pitch is similar to another obscure multi-millionaire candidate who recently popped up suddenly in Florida, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. Both are touting their outsider status.
“I’m just as frustrated as you are,’’ Greene says in the video announcing his candidacy. “For too long, the career politicians we’ve sent to Washington have played partisan games and have failed us. All of the major candidates for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat have been inside government for the past 10 years. And during those 10 years, things have only gotten worse.’’
Greene only became a Florida resident in 2008, but he touts his longtime connections to the state. As a college student, he says he bussed tables at The Breakers posh hotel in Palm Beach, and his mother lives in Century Village, a modest retirement complex not far from the 12,000 square foot Palm Beach mansion purchased from Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer last year.
In her characteristically colorful fashion, PSC Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano wrote to Senate President Jeff Atwater today complaining that House leaders never consulted with the experts at the PSC when it drafted its renewable energy bill -- which has one more chance to come up before the Senate on Friday.
She notes that the measure would allow the state's electric companies to earn higher profits and charge customers more than any other form of energy but said the House leadership sought "neither advice nor analysis...from the PSC Economic Regulatory Division.''
In an often disjointed letter, she said she was prompted to write Atwater because of the "disturbing ignorance reflected by the House'' and her hope that there were legislators who still "give a damn about the impact of their actions on the people they ostensibly represent.'' Later, she also refers to "the leadership cabal of chronic, conniving, policy selling hacks masquerading as public servants.''
Here's Argenziano's letter: Download Ltr to atwater re house bill
It's win one and lose one for Florida's electric utilities. Senate President Jeff Atwater said the attempts to reach agreement on how to fix the troubles at the Public Service Commission probably can't be reconciled with one day left.
PSC reform has been one of the bills the utilities wanted to kill, along with the confirmations of the two PSC commissioners.
But also likely dead is a priority for the utility companies -- a bill to jump start renewable energy in the state by allowing the state's electric companies to build their own solar farms. The bill has been a hard-fought fight that has separated Florida Power & Light from the other investor owned utilities -- Progress Energy, Tampa Electric and Gulf Power -- and pitted the biomass companies against the solar manufacturers and FPL.
On PSC reform, the utility companies didn't like the fix proposed by the Senate, which wanted to force all private communications between the utilities and regulators onto the record, or ban them. The House tried another approach -- a focus on a sweeping overhaul which the governor vowed to veto.
The Senate has a list of four fixes it wants to make to the watered-down House PSC bill but the House won't take it, Atwater said.
"We put that as a high priority, so high that we passed it the very first day of session and here we are the night before finishing and it looks like it may not be completed,'' he said.
On renewables legislation, Atwater said he's still hopeful "but there is so many different players that are trying to -- regrettably -- weigh in. We had biomass, good solar that would have been good, putting some standards in that would have been good but I don't think I can make a prediction."
Atwater received this letter from PSC Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano about the renewable energy bill. She notes that the PSC's experts were never consulted by the House and the bill would allow utilities to earn higher profits and charges customers more than any other form Here's Argenziano's letter:
Asked what he would do following Gov. Charlie Crist's announcement today, Sen. John Thrasher, the chairman of the Florida GOP, had this to say:
"All I’m going to do is take his picture down at the Republican Party
headquarters, and probably put it on ebay," he said, adding he didn't
know how much it would fetch.
Not too surprising here, but the Republicans who worked for Gov. Charlie Crist's U.S. Senate campaign are leaving him now that he's leaving the Republican race.
Eric Eikenberg, his chief of staff, is calling it quits. So are spokeswomen Andrea Saul and Amanda Hennenberg.
Eikenberg's departure is particularly notable. Since graduating from college in 1998, Eikenberg has worked in Republican Party of Florida politics. He started with now-Sen. George LeMieux's failed state House race (that's right, he's a senator who never won a real election), moved into the RPOF as a director of opposition research and then deputy executive director, worked for Republican Rep. Clay Shaw in Washington and then became Crist's staff chief before managing his imploding GOP campaign.
"I'm resigning. There will be a transition," Eikenberg said. He didn't want to say any more about the governor and candidate he vociferously stood by until now. That leaves Dane Eagle, Crist's former travel aide and current fundraiser, as the closest Crist ally in the dwindling campaign.
The big question: Who will replace Eikenberg? Dane Eagle aside, no Republican in his right mind would work for him (unless s/he is a spy). A Democrat probably won't. So that leaves what, a Green Party person?
Crist sent a letter to Republicans and released them from their endorsements, saying they don't have to stick by him. One Republican, Viera Sen. Thad Altman, said he'd stick by Crist.
"He has been a great governor," Altman said. "I endorse the person."