Jeff Atwater’s just-ended flirtation with a U.S. Senate bid speaks volumes about the nervousness of Florida Republicans these days.
The GOP’s best hope, Congressman Connie Mack, hasn’t been running the type of campaign many Republicans want to unseat a beatable Democratic incumbent, Bill Nelson. Some wanted Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, to run. Others approached House Speaker Dean Cannon, who declined as did a wealthy no-name.
But the drama is about more than just Mack or the Senate race.
It’s about a Republican Party grappling with ebbing fortunes compared to the red-wave of an election year in 2010. It’s about a movement nagged by a sense of perpetual disappointment that stretches to the top of the ticket.
And it’s about the potentially colliding political agendas of Atwater, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Jeff Atwater’s just-ended flirtation with a U.S. Senate bid speaks volumes about the nervousness of Florida Republicans these days.
House Speaker Dean Cannon: "I share Governor Scott’s commitment to making the tough policy decisions that will benefit our state in the long-term, rather than settling for a knee-jerk Washington approach that tries to put off short-term problems regardless of negative long-term consequences. I look forward to working with the Governor on the many issues for which he has advocated which require legislative approval or oversight. I am confident that we can work together to refine the best ideas that come from each chamber and the Governor’s Office and am very encouraged by the progress we have already made."
Senate President Mike Haridopolos: "I congratulate Governor Scott for laying out a vision for Florida that will result in the economic turnaround we so badly need in our state. The message of getting to work that propelled him to the Governor’s office has carried forward in his role as Florida’s chief executive. The Governor’s vision for Florida is bold and decisive. The Florida Senate is prepared to work with him to accomplish the goals he discussed in his State of the State address. During the next 60 days, his agenda will get a thorough review in the Senate. We all share the same goal – getting Florida back to work."
Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith: "Tonight, Governor Rick Scott’s words trying to defend his job destroying agenda rang hollow to Floridians hurting during the hard economic times. Since he took office, Floridians have seen that Rick Scott only cares about imposing his rigid and extreme philosophy on our state, rather than working to implement common sense solutions for Florida. Whether he is killing high speed rail, proposing his spending plan that would lay off 20,000 teachers, or putting communities at risk by ending critical law enforcement tools to stop pill-mills, Rick Scott’s agenda is doing real harm to our state."
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam: “I share the Governor’s vision to reduce unemployment and grow our economy by creating jobs. I look forward to working with the Governor, the members of the Cabinet and the Legislature to accomplish this goal. As Commissioner of Agriculture, I’m focused on fostering an environment in which businesses can grow and thrive in Florida. I believe we should invest in higher education, research and grants that will enable Floridians to create, innovate and, ultimately, generate more jobs across our great state."
Florida Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Mark Wilson: "It’s refreshing to have a Governor who says the same things after the election as he did before the election. Governor Scott understands that to grow the private sector, we must shrink the government sector. Tonight, Governor Scott reinforced his pledge to improve education, lower taxes on entrepreneurs, and to pass legal reform. Florida is keeping the American dream alive, and Governor Scott has the bold vision and the uncommon courage to stay strong and help Florida lead the nation back to prosperity."
House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera: “I, like Governor Scott, believe that Florida should not rely on handouts from the federal government or participate in the reckless spending practices that have become so commonplace in Washington D.C. The governor highlighted the need for a fiscally responsible government that eliminates wasteful spending, curbs the growth of entitlement programs, and restores jobs to Floridians. Although addressing these difficult issues may not be easy, it is necessary to ensure the future economic prosperity of our state and our state’s citizens. I look forward to working with him this Session."
Florida Democrats had been proudly touting the fact that they were doing better in absentee voting requests then they had in 2006, but the Republican Party of Florida has its own stats that could spell doom for every Democrat on a statewide ballot this year.
RPOF says that, for the first time ever, they've won the first two days of early voting. And compared to 2008 (the year of Obama, when Dems outperformed Reps), Republicans are doing far better in absentee voting requests and returns. If true and the trend continues, Democrats have a dim future. Maybe governor candidate Alex Sink could squeak by Republican Rick Scott, in large part because she'd not running as a Democrat and she's at times running away from President Obama. But the numbers suggest the Obama millstone will weigh her down as the red wave swamps Florida.
Requested absentee ballots: Republicans lead by 228,930 – a 13.21% lead over Democrats. In 2008, Republicans had an 8.89% lead by Election Day. Then, President Obama only won by 2.8 percentage points after a massive ad blitz.
Voted absentee ballots: Republicans lead by 112,534 absentee votes – a 21.88% lead. In 2008, Republicans had a 10.8% lead on Election Day.
Early Voted: Republicans lead by 15,281 votes – a 11.32% lead (Monday and Tuesday). In 2008, Republicans were losing by 73,384 votes at this point in 2008. By Election Day, Republicans had lost the Early Vote by 23.97%.
"We don’t expect to win early voting, but any lead at all is shocking at this point and a testament to the incredible enthusiasm amongst Republicans," RPOF spokesman Dan Conston said.
Adam Putnam responded to Scott Maddox's charge on green energy with this statement: "My record of support for alternative and renewable energy technologies is clear, and dates back years before the home stretch of a statewide campaign. I was an early leader shaping America's farm policy into renewable energy from cellulose, rather than just corn."
The campaign also noted two major bills that Putnam supported, the
2008 farm bill, which extended several renewable energy programs and
provided research funds for cellulosic ethanol production. He also voted for a bill lauded by Speaker Nancy Pelosi
as "an historic bill to make America more energy independent." That
bill, among other things, required more stringent fuel economy standards
Check out the rest of Putnam's statement below:
Democrat Scott Maddox today blasted his opponent in the agriculture commissioner race, Adam Putnam,
for what he calls hypocritical votes in Congress against green energy
legislation. Maddox cited six bills, though he said the "big one" is the
stimulus bill, which provided Florida will $34 million for solar
programs, part of which would pay down the state's backlog of solar rebates it promised.
"These votes made by Congressman Putnam hurt everyday Floridians," Maddox said. (Reaction from the Putnam camp to come.)
The solar rebate money is currently held up by the Legislature, which argues it is not legally able to spend the money yet. Maddox called on Putnam to urge lawmakers to release the funds.
Also on hand at the press conference was a solar power company owner who relocated his small business from Tallahassee to Arizona. Pete Rosen
of ProSolar Systems said he has about 20 customers owed $1 million in
rebates. "I'm a 37-year Florida resident and unfortunately I can't work
in my home state."
The upcoming debates for the three Cabinet positions have been canceled, according to Florida Press Association president Dean Ridings. He said the campaigns of Pam Bondi and Jeff Atwater never confirmed their participation in the debate. “There’s not much of a debate without either of those two,” Ridings said.
Atwater's press guy Brian Hughes e-mailed this: "The schedule in
these final weeks of the campaign is packed with candidate forums,
grassroots organizing, and travel around the state. There are countless
requests of Jeff's time and we simply can't be everywhere all the time."
Bondi had a similar statement.
Scheduled for Oct. 5 at the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida, the other four Cabinet candidates had said they would debate, including Dan Gelber, Loranne Ausley and both Agriculture Commission candidates, Adam Putnam and Scott Maddox.
Ridings said his group, along with Leadership Florida, declined to just produce the Ag
Commission debate because of logistics. The two groups are still on to
produce debates for the governor's race and the U.S. Senate race at Nova
Republican Congressman Adam Putnam and his chief Democratic rival in the agriculture commissioner's race, Scott Maddox, released dueling lists of endorsements from Florida sheriffs on Tuesday.
Putnam, who represents a Central Florida district, won the numbers game with 37 sheriffs (and the PBA) backing his campaign. Maddox, the former mayor of Tallahassee, held a press conference in his hometown to announce the support of seven sheriffs and the Fraternal Order of Police.
A six-county Whistle Stop tour through the Panhandle on Saturday showcased a number of lesser know Republican candidates fighting for attention amid the Marco Rubio-Charlie Crist showdown and gubernatorial hopeful Rick Scott's big-money campaign.
With sweat soaking through shirts and campaign fliers doubling as hand fans, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, an agriculture commissioner candidate, and Holly Benson, a former state lawmaker running for attorney general, showed that retail politicking still holds a place in a state known for its media-market campaigns.
Observations from the campaign trail:
--The details: The tour began at 9 a.m. central time in Chipley before stopping in Bonifay, DeFuniak Springs, Ft. Walton Beach, Gulf Breeze and finally ending in Pensacola at 6 p.m. The crowds varied from the 25 people under a park pavilion in Gulf Breeze to the 200 awaiting the statewide and local candidates in Ft. Walton. The oppressive heat, with temperatures topping 100 degrees, kept enthusiasm to a minimum. In fact, in DeFuniak Springs, a tense auction for a two-layer patriotic cake drew more participant attention than most candidates.
June 12, 2010 in Adam Putnam, Barack Obama, Bill McCollum, Charlie Crist, Election 2010, Florida, Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Florida Attorney General, Florida Governor's Race, Florida Politics, Florida Voters, Jeff Kottkamp, Marco Rubio, Republican Party of Florida, Rick Scott | Permalink | Comments (1)
So much oil. So many politicians. Just one day.
Today started out with U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek saying the state needs more than $25m from BP for an ad blitz to say all's well in Florida. Gov. Charlie Crist, Meek's opponent in the U.S. Senate race, had pressed for the money from BP.
Crist later extended his emergency declaration by adding several South Florida coastal counties to the list of those that could be affected from the oil slick: Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Now every county from the Panhandle to the Gold Coast is covered.
In Washington, the man whom Crist appointed Sen and hopes to replace, George LeMieux, got in a tussle with Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu when she tried to block Florida from getting a share of some oil-cleanup disaster money. Lots of hard feelings in Louisiana when states like Florida got oil slick-halting booms when Louisiana needed it more.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, running to replace Crist as governor, wrote a letter to BP demanding that it accept resposibility for oil troubles in the event of a hurricane. McCollum later scheduled a Friday presser in Miami.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson announced with Chairman Rodney Barreto of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that the summer oyster harvesting areas in the Apalachicola Bay System will open 11 days early (Friday at 12:01 a.m.) to give fisherman some chance to make some money.
And Senate President Jeff Atwater, running for state CFO, sent Crist a letter asking for details about how the $25m in marketing money would be spent: I am told that a Memorandum of Understanding between BP and the State exists but has yet to be executed. I would respectfully urge your office to share with the citizens of this State exactly how these funds are to be transmitted to and received by the State, how they will be spent, who will drive the process of distribution, how decisions on deployment will be made, and who will be asked to participate in that decision making. It would be helpful to have one person designated to make timely decisions, and a central repository of data which would be made available to the residents of this State. We should be able to track these funds and identify the accountable parties, as well as determine what, if any, responsibilities various parties throughout the State may be asked to assume. The greater the lead time to prepare, the higher quality and more timely the response.