Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek on whether he will be involved with President Obama's Aug. 18 fundraising trip to Miami: "It's hard to say. I haven't been told anything by the White House, but you usually get notice just a few days or even 48 hours before. I will just be finishing up my bus tour. I will be stumping throughout the state of Florida...The fact that he is coming on the 18th -- he could have planned this trip after the primary. I'm sure I'll be involved in the trip in some way."
Newly independent Gov. Charlie Crist is besting former Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio in Florida's U.S. Senate race by a 37-32 margin, according to Quinnipiac University's latest poll. Democrat Jeff Greene, the new frontrunner in his party's race, gets 17 percent of the vote. If Democrat Kendrick Meek bests Greene in the Aug. 24 primary, he would get just 13 percent of the general election vote. In that case, Crist's lead reaches 39 percent.
Those numbers reveal that Crist's success hinges in good measure on Democratic voters. But we didn't need a poll to show us that. The turncoat Republican has scrubbed his website and campaign-trail talk of red meat conservatism.In the race for governor, state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink slightly trails the Republican nominee, whether it's frontrunner Rick Scott or Attorney General Bill McCollum, who are busy stripping in the bark off each other in a vicious multi-million dollar attack ad war. Thanks to the mud-slinging that has damaged both her potential GOP rivals, Sink's position has improved. But she still trails Scott 27-29 and is behind McCollum by a 26-27 percent margin. That's all well within the poll's 3.2 percentage point margin of error. So it's effectively a tie.
The gov race wildcard: former Democrat and son of the last Democratic Gov., Lawton Chiles. Bud Chiles garners 14 percent of the vote in the poll.
An intriguing side note to the poll: the approval ratings for Crist's Senate appointee George LeMieux, whose approval ratings are upside down. Voters disapprove of the job he's doing by a 25-21 percent margin. Just why is unclear. LeMieux is little known, and he's done little to distinguish himself by going along to get along in Washington. But Democrat Bill Nelson, whom LeMieux might run against in two years, gets a 46-30 job approval rating, despite the fact that the electorate is shifting rightward.
President Obama is upside down, with 46 percent approving of his job and 50 percent disapproving.
Crist's approval ratings are positive: 53-37 -- a big factor in his lead, along with his high name identification numbers.
"Gov. Charlie Crist’s small lead comes as neither Democrat breaks 20 percent in the trial heats. If that were to be the case in November, Gov. Crist would have a very good chance to win. But if the Democratic nominee can move into the mid-to-high 20s, Crist’s chances decrease substantially,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
President Barack Obama is slated to headline a fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party on Aug. 18 at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
The fundraiser with the Democratic frontrunner for governor, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, comes shortly after the Obama family is slated to spend the Aug. 14 weekend vacationing in the Gulf to promote the post-oil spill tourist economy.
The news of Obama's trip will escalate speculation over what the president will or will not do on behalf of Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is struggling for traction in the U.S. Senate race. Will Meek get to fly with him on Air Force One? Greet him on the tarmac? Put his arm around him at the fundraiser?
In the meantime, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is planning to headline a fundraiser for Meek on Aug. 2 in Washington.
On the day Jim Greer was jailed for alleged fraud, the former Republican Party of Florida chairman found himself in a strange world as he scrambled to find a bail bondsmen, his lawyer, a suit for his first court appearance and his kid's tennis coach to cancel a lesson, according to recordings of his phone calls from the Seminole County Detention Center.
The recordings, which have received scant attention in the press, reveal a bewildered Greer, who had garnered a reputation as a high-rolling party boss. In jail, Greer often didn't know the time, had little clue about the specific charges against him and acknowledged that jail was ``tough.''
But Greer also struck a defiant tone and said he was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct. Greer's wife, Lisa Greer, also made sure to bolster her husband's spirits.
``Now listen, there's going to be press all over this,'' she told him. ``So you smile. You hold your head up high. And don't walk in there like a beaten down dog, you hear?''
``Ok,'' he told her.
Gelber sums up Aronberg's legal experience this way: "Less than two years as Asst. AG/private attorney."
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It started with one question from Buzz about the Q poll numbers in the governor's race showing that voters believe Rick Scott is more "consistently conservative" than Bill McCollum (38-26 percent).
And it ended four minutes later with McCollum taking out the trash against Scott -- saying everything that came to his mind and all but calling him a crook -- which is a long limb to walk given the fact McCollum is the attorney general and governed by strict Bar rules. Scott spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said McCollum is coming "unhinged." (Apologies for the poor quality.)
Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson had no patience Thursday for the decision of the Florida legislature to strip the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's police training trust fund of $2.7 million to fill its budget hole.
The agency asked the Cabinet to approve a $50 increase in the examination fee given to law enforcement candidates to make up at least $450,000 of the lost money. The fee increase must go through one final hurdle -- a rulemaking process to formalize it.
"There's no trust in the trust funds,'' Bronson said, adding that he hopes to have a word about it with House and Senate leaders. "I realize the problems the legislature is having, trying to make things work and having to move money...but it's like saying 'let's throw our money down a rat hole and maybe this time it won't go to the bottom.''
Attorney General Bill McCollum agreed. "It's a very, very bad scene when we go out and raid these trust funds,'' he said. He also noted that the Cabinet can't be called out for enacting a new fee since the legislature authorized it.
FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said he had no choice but to ask for the increase, although he conceded: "It's going to be tough to ask them for another $50 to take a test'' after they've already paid between $1,500 to $3,500 for training.
Gov. Charlie Crist was the lone vote against the fee hike. "On behalf of the 9000 people who have to pay 50 bucks more,” he said.
Here's two more backers: Frank Pumilia, president of the Margate Democratic Club, and Gert Weinberg, president of the Wynmoor Democratic Club in Coconut Creek. Not a good sign that Meek, a Democratic congressman and former state legislator, is losing these diehard Democrats to a political outsider who wasn't registered as a Democrat until 2008.
Weinberg said Greene will be the name on the top of her palm card for the Aug. 24 primary. "I am fond of Jeff. I think he'll do a good job,'' she said. "You don't have to be a politician. You have to be a smart person...I think there's something about Greene that's sensational."
"Truthfully, I never really knew Kendrick Meek,'' said Pumilia, who is hosting a luncheon for Greene on Aug. 21. "He hasn't once came to me and said, "I need your support.' I don't think he's made such a great mark in Congess. I think his mother did more than he ever did."