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11 posts from October 10, 2012

October 10, 2012

Jimmy Buffett to serenade Nelson's statewide tour

Island troubadour Jimmy Buffett will headline an event for Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson in Orlando Friday as the candidate launches what his re-election campaign is describing as a "Florida First" tour.

Buffett will perform in Orlando in "a brief solo acoustic performance" in between concerts in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

The event is the first of Nelson's "19 planned stops across the Sunshine State leading up to Election Day,'' the campaign said in its statement.

Nelson challenger Connie Mack IV has announced a similar statewide bus tour beginning Oct. 18, the day after the two face off in their one and only debate in Fort Lauderdale.

Citizens president nudges consumers to leave 'government-created insurer'

After five private insurance companies sent out 210,000 letters to Citizens Property Insurance customers offering to take over their policies last week, Citizens president has been following up with a letter of his own.

The letter represents the first time state-run Citizens has taken such an active role in promoting the private takeover of its policies.

“This offer means that you are no longer limited to receiving property coverage from a government-created insurer,” reads the letter signed by Citizens’ CEO Barry Gilway. “We urge you to carefully consider this important insurance decision.”

Written in bold-typed, one sentence in the letter sticks out: “You do not need to take any action to begin your insurance coverage with [NAME OF INSURER].”

That is significant because the takeout program requires homeowners to proactively opt-out within 30 days if they do not want to be taken out of Citizens into a private insurer. Homeowners who receive the letter and take no action will be automatically shifted out of Citizens into a private company that likely will have higher rates when the policy renews. Gilway’s letter does not mention the 30-day opt-out deadline.

Continue reading "Citizens president nudges consumers to leave 'government-created insurer'" »

What the Obama camp's early-vote stunt tells us about voting in the nation's biggest battleground

A42zHGhCEAIDvLSA warning to Florida voters: pack plenty of patience at the polls.

In what amounted to a dry-run for early voting and Election Day, President Obama’s campaign encouraged supporters Wednesday to cast mail-in ballots in person at elections offices throughout Florida where voters said people need to do their homework and to be prepared for a long stay because of lengthy ballots.

It took some voters an hour to cast their ballots Wednesday morning in Miami-Dade.

Many more Floridians — 76,000 and counting — are voting from the comfort of their own home by mailing in absentee ballots. Republicans hold a small edge.

Democrats have historically waited until the start of in-person early voting before they cast their ballots.

But the GOP-controlled Legislature shortened the number of in-person early-voting hours compared to 2008. It also lengthened the ballot with 11 proposed constitutional amendments printed in full for the first time ever.

"There had to be some type of intention to discourage people from voting,” said Stephen Wayner, a 67-year-old Democrat from Miami, who cast his absentee ballot Wednesday.

On Wednesday, many of the 30 people who showed up to vote early with Wayner shared the belief that Republicans want to suppress the vote — a concept dismissed as groundless by Rep. Richard Corcoran, a Tampa Bay-area Republican from Trinity who helped sponsor the legislation that called for full-length constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Corcoran said people should take their ire out on the “liberal Florida Supreme Court,” which repeatedly struck down the Legislature’s proposed constitutional amendments over the years on the grounds that the initiatives’ ballot summaries were misleading or needed “clear and unambiguous” language.

“They created this concept out of whole cloth, it’s not in the Constitution,” Corcoran said. “So what we did is we said ‘fine, if this is the unfortunate game you want to play, we will make it clear and unambiguous.’ Now people know exactly what they’re voting for. And that’s a wonderful thing.”

More here

Movers & Shakers: New hires at Governor's Office, FMA, Southern Strategies

Weatherford appoints appropriations chair

Incoming House speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, named Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, as his appropriations chair. This is Weatherford's first major committee assignment.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement.

"Seth's expertise and background as a small business owner, a former Lakeland City Commissioner and the previous Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee will prove to be invaluable as we manage our state's future budget priorities. Representative McKeel has demonstrated a commitment to putting the priorities of our state over his own interests and will serve the House well as we develop an appropriations plan in the coming months."

Keith Fitzgerald hires new communications director

Matt Harringer has left his job as a legislative assistant to Republican state Senator Paula Dockery to work as communications director for Sarasota congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald.

The Fitzgerald campaign recently ran into some hot water over partisan comments posted by their former spokesperson, Ana Maria Rosato, on her personal blog.

Continue reading "Movers & Shakers: New hires at Governor's Office, FMA, Southern Strategies" »

Nelson reports raising $2.3 million, with $6.5 in cash available

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced today it will report raising $2.3 million for the third quarter of the year, slightly less than his challenger, Republican Connie Mack IV, raised for the period that ended Sept. 30.

Mack reported raising $2.7 million, his highest quarter yet, following lackluster fundraising in the first two quarters in the race.

By contrast, Nelson started strong and ends the quarter with more than $6.5 million in the bank, even after spending heavily on an aggressive television campaign. Nelson has raised a total of $16.2 million, his campaign said, while Mack has raised a total of $6 millon.


76,000 Floridians already voted. Dems scoring in Tampa Bay, South FL; Reps dominating North Florida

Voting by absentee ballot is a week old in Florida and already 76,000 people and counting have voted.

Normally, Republicans dominate this type of vote-by-mail system, and again they're leading. But Democrats have made a push for mail-in voting -- especially now that the GOP-led Legislature reduced early in-person voting hours compared to 2008, when Democrats swamped Republicans.

Starting today, Democrats have encouraged their partisans to consider dropping the ballots off in person and supervisors of elections offices in various counties.

The absentee-ballot breakdown:

Requested    Party
894,500        Republican
821,000        Democrat
374,000        Independent

Voted        Party
33,000        Republican
31,000        Democrat
12,000        Independent

The county-by-county numbers are intriguing. Democrats are leading in the crucial I-4 corridor counties of Hillborough, Pinellas and Orange counties. They have smaller leads in the Democrat-heavy counties of Broward and Miami-Dade. Republicans are dominating in North Florida, rolling up comfortable leads in Santa Rosa, Escambia, Okaloosa and Duval counties.

These numbers will obviously change. Absentee ballot voting can occur right up until 7 p.m. Election Day. Early voting starts oct. 27 and ends Nov. 3.

Though this is just a fraction of the vote that is yet to be cast by Florida's nearly 12 million total voters (not all of whom will vote), this is shaping up to be a close election. And while all the focus is on Ohio, there's little chance Mitt Romney can win without winning Florida.

Florida has 29 Electoral College votes; Ohio just 18. So if Romney lost Florida, he'd need to win Ohio plus Wisconsin and its 10 points -- and he'd still be 1 point shy of the Sunshine State's total (the swingier swing state of Colorado is just 9 points).

Miami-Dade commissioner backers highlight lawmaker opponent's pensions

Photo (5)On the heels of a campaign flier attacking Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro comes a new mailer hitting Barreiro's opponent, state Rep. Luis Garcia.

The flier criticizes Garcia, a former Miami Beach firefighter and city commissioner, for receiving pensions from his three public positions (including the one he will receive once he leaves the Florida Legislature). The flier includes a photo of Garcia's financial disclosure forms listing the pension income.

The group behind the flier is Transparency in Government, an electioneering communications organization linked to Barreiro. The flier features a line -- "Tell Luis Garcia we just can't afford him!" -- similar to a line used in the anti-Barreiro flier mailed late last week -- "We can't afford Bruno Barreiro." That flier came from Change Miami-Dade Now, an ECO backed by auto magnate Norman Braman.

Photo (6)Garcia has put out a flier of his own, callingfor county reforms including term limits for commissioners. His flier, which also says Garcia would "investigate and report Absentee Ballot fraud in District 5 and the County," includes cards for voters to fill in and mail back to the Garcia campaign to request absentee ballots. The campaign, the piece notes, "will submit all information provided directly to the Miami-Dade County Elections Department."

District 5 includes neighborhoods along the Miami River, the Roads, Little Havana and the southern and eastern portions of Miami Beach.

Mack raises $2.7 million in third quarter

Republican Senate candidate Connie Mack IV had his strongest fundraising quarter yet this fall, raising over $2.7 million in the race to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, Mack's campaign reported Wednesday. 

"Of that total, over $295,000 was raised from July 1 – July 25 and was reported on the pre-primary FEC report. The remainder, over $2.42 million, was raised between July 26 and September 30," the campaign said in a statement. 

Mack, who had raised $839,000 in the second quarter and had only $1.39 million in the bank by June 30, has relied on third party groups to assist him in the expensive ad wars while Nelson has funded most of his race himself.  

Nelson had raised $13 million and had $11 million in the bank after the June reporting period ended. He has used it to finance attack ads against Mack that began in early August. The tactic has helped to repress any momentum Mack could have gotten after his primary victory over former Congressman Dave Weldon.

Update: Nelson reported raising $2.3 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30 and has $6.5 million on hand.

Polls continue to show Nelson with a steady lead. A WeAskAmerica poll on Monday had the two candidates tied, a Rasmussen Reports poll on the same day showed Nelson ahead by 11 points. The RealClearPolitics average shows Nelson still up by 5.6 points with a month left in the campaign.

Mack has been assisted by the conservative Americans for Prosperity, Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul's RAND PAC which have each run attack ads against Nelson.

On Miami TV ads, Rep. David Rivera touts support for undocumented student, attacks rival Joe Garcia

Embattled U.S. Rep. David Rivera has at least two campaign ads running on television in Miami, one positive and in Spanish and one negative and in English.

The positive ad features Daniela Peláez, the North Miami Senior High School valedictorian who faced deportation to Colombia because her parents had brought her to the U.S. illegally as a child. She got a reprieve in part thanks to congressional intervention and has become a fixture at Rivera events, including one last week where he held an immigration workshop at his Miami district office.

Update: Here's the video of the ad, titled El Sueño Americano (The American Dream).

Here's our translation:

I'm Daniela Peláez. When I faced the threat of deportation, I went to see my congressman, David Rivera. He never asked if I was Republican or Democrat. David Rivera put all of his resources at my disposal. Like me, David Rivera has been fighting to help undocumented youth to achieve the American Dream. David Rivera has always backed us. Now it's our turn to back him.

Peláez is one of South Florida's so-called DREAMers, who would be granted legal permission to remain in the country under the DREAM Act, legislation that has stalled in Congress. It was supported by Rivera's fellow Cuban-Americans currently and recently in the U.S. House: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Rivera, however, has never backed the DREAM Act and criticized the Obama administration's recent decision to allow young people brought into the country illegally as children to temporarily remain in the country legally. Instead, he has suggested modified versions of the legislation, one for students graduating from high school and planning to attend a four-year college and another one for young people serving in the military.

The negative ad features an unidentified man and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who campaigned for Garcia when he ran for Congress in 2010 against Rivera and in 2008 against Mario Diaz-Balart. The ad makes several inaccurate claims.

Continue reading "On Miami TV ads, Rep. David Rivera touts support for undocumented student, attacks rival Joe Garcia" »

Veteran prison officer is 11th placed on leave

Capt. Wilfred (Dean) Ellis is the 11th employee of the Florida prison system to be placed on leave amid a criminal investigation of the possible excessive use of force in incidents involving six different inmates, one of whom died in state custody.

Ellis, of Alachua, is approaching his 25th anniversary as a DOC employee, but prison officials placed him on paid leave "pending investigation of charges which could result in your dismissal."

Ellis' annual salary is $50,398.

Read the letter here. A notation in the upper right hand corner indicates Ellis accepted it on Monday and signed his initials, WDE.

--Steve Bousquet