June 15, 2010

Dueling sheriff's endorsements in Florida ag race

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.

Continue reading "Dueling sheriff's endorsements in Florida ag race" »

June 12, 2010

Candidates shake hands for votes

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.

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May 20, 2010

Politics of the (oil) slick, Thursday edition

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.

May 12, 2010

Voters undecided in statewide 2010 races

A new Ron Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll shows wide open races for statewide offices with few voters confident about which candidate to elect. (Here are the findings.)

Take the race for Attorney General: voters are 73 percent undecided in the Democratic primary (feature Sen. Dan Gelber verse Sen. Dave Aronberg) and 72 percent undecided in the three-way Republican primary (which pits Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp against prosecutor Pam Bondi and former agency head Holly Benson).

The most intriguing figures come in the Agriculture Commissioner election where the poll tested a the match-up between Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam and former Tallahassee mayor Scott Maddox, a Democrat. It's a deadlock with Maddox at 31 percent, Putnam at 30 percent and undecideds at 39 percent. (The margin of error is 4 percent for this question.)

"The huge number of undecided voters is really where this election rests," said PR guru Ron Sachs, whose firm isn't representing any candidates.

Continue reading "Voters undecided in statewide 2010 races" »

May 04, 2010

Scott Maddox firm sues BP over oil spill

You knew it was going to happen. The growing oil spill in the gulf has spawned a number of lawsuits against BP. One class action lawsuit, on behalf of eight Panhandle fishermen and seafood restaurants, is suing the oil company and Transocean, which managed the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Fun fact: One of the attorneys listed on the suit works at Maddox Horne law firm in Tallahassee, home of Scott Maddox, the leading Democratic candidate for Agriculture Commissioner. He’s not listed personally, but Maddox’s views on the oil spill are well known.

From the suit: "The oil slick has caused and will continue to cause harmful effects to Florida’s and the United States’ marine and coastal environments, and their contiguous environs, which will severely impact activities Plaintiffs and all others similarly situated rely on for income, such as, but not limited to, commercial fishing, seafood processing, distribution and consumption, and tourism and tourism related activities."

Download Oil spill complaint

May 03, 2010

Maddox hopes oil spill will 'shame' Putnam

Scott Maddox -- the leading Democrat running for Agriculture Commissioner -- essentially held an "I told you so" press conference where he laid out his repeated calls against efforts to open up Florida's waters to oil drilling. After the Deepwater Horizon spill, he is asking all candidates for the Cabinet to sign a pledge against offshore oil drilling.

Under proposals bandied about by Legislative leaders, the Cabinet would vote on whether to grant drilling leases as close as three miles from Florida's coast. Maddox said he hopes the spill will "shame" his opponent, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, into changing his mind on oil drilling.

“I think it’s astounding that four days after the explosion Adam Putnam was reaffirming his position in favor of off-shore and near-shore oil drilling,” Maddox said. “The most important thing is that we don’t face this type of risk very close to our shores.”

Putnam has been in favor of expanded drilling in the past, including a few days after the spill. (Though it's fair to say most people didn't grasp the magnitude of the spill until several days after it happened.) We've got a call out to his camp on the Maddox pledge, and we'll update you with his reaction.

UPDATE: Putnam's campaign e-mails this response: "I am deeply concerned about the economic and ecological damage the oil spill is causing. Everyone from the President on down has correctly said we should have a thorough investigation of its causes and the lack of preparedness of the industry to respond to a disaster before proceeding with any new exploration.

Unlike my lobbyist opponent, I have been focused for the past decade on homegrown sources of energy in Florida from agriculture, and a hundred other things relating to the job for which I am running. Maddox  refuses to answer questions about the most basic issues facing agriculture and this position. Instead he uses this tragedy as to deflect his complete ignorance of the issues in this race and his own checkered past."


April 13, 2010

First quarter fundraising roundup

Here are the highlights of the official first quarter fundraising numbers that came out last night. (With a helpful assist from Christina Johnson over at On3PR)

Toplines in the governor's race: Republican Bill McCollum raised just less than 1.4 million in the first three months of 2010, compared with Democrat Alex Sink's 1.1 million. Sink still holds the overall edge in campaign cash, though, with $5 million on hand compared to $3.8 million for McCollum. GOP challenger Paula Dockery has $410,000 on hand. That figure includes $280,000 in personal cash she has put into her campaign.

An interesting note in the AG race. Days before the official numbers came out, Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber announced an impressive haul of $330,000. Turns out that number was pumped up with about $100,000 worth of in-kind contributions. His actual cash haul was $218,000.

Other AG candidates: Sen. Dave Aronberg took in $259,000 to use in the primary against Gelber. On the Republican side: Lt. Gov Jeff Kottkamp raised $232k, Pam Bondi raised $222k and Holly Benson raised $198k.

Senate President Jeff Atwater and Congressman Adam Putnam both opened up wider leads in their races for CFO and Agriculture Commissioner. Atwater took in $446,000 and has almost $2 million on hand. His Democratic challenger, Loranne Ausley has $346,000 on hand. Putnam had about $1.2 million on hand, while Democrat Scott Maddox has $314,000.


April 01, 2010

All the people that supported Jim Greer

In the political fallout from the criminal investigation of Jim Greer, one question remaining is who it will hurt. Gov. Charlie Crist was the obvious target when the initial news broke, given that he handpicked Greer for the GOP helm. But this flier for Greer's re-election -- slogan, "The service we trust. The leadership we need -- as chairman includes many more bold-faced names: including Attorney General Bill McCollum, Senate President Jeff Atwater and disgraced Speaker Ray Sansom and former Speaker Marco Rubio.

See the invite here.

February 04, 2010

Florida's take on EPA water standards: 'Be afraid'

Florida's Congressional delegation sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today asking the agency to extend the comment period and expand public hearings on its water quality standards issued last month. The letter  -- signed by U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and George LeMieux and 18 U.S. House members, led by Rep. Adam Putnam -- follows the first detailed remarks from Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole, who told a state House committee Wednesday to "be afraid" of some components of the new rules.

EPA is hosting two public forums at three locations Feb. 16 (Tallahassee), Feb. 17 (Orlando) and Feb. 18 (West Palm Beach) and soliciting comments for 60 days. 

Sole and EPA critics -- including Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson -- were surprisingly quiet when the standards were released. But now the campaign to fight them is gearing up. State lawmakers joined the chorus Wednesday with Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, wondering aloud why the lawsuit against the federal government isn't already filed. "What do we do other than seceding from the Union?" he asked.

Find the full text of the letter from the Congressional delegation below.

Continue reading "Florida's take on EPA water standards: 'Be afraid'" »

December 15, 2009

Crist commutes sentence in Tampa manslaughter

From the Times' Meg Laughlin: Jennifer Martin, who was convicted of manslaughter in a 1998 car crash that killed a passenger, had her sentenced cut in half Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Crist. She will be released Wednesday from prison.

Martin, 30, was sentenced in 2000 to 16 years in prison for her role in the Interstate 4 crash that killed Josh Nicola, 23, and severely injured Scott Schutt, 23.

Crist's decision followed a clemency hearing last week at which Martin's former prosecutor had sought mercy. Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink had championed Martin's clemency bid after reading a story in the St. Petersburg Times.

The other two members of the state's clemency board, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson and State Attorney General Bill McCollum, also voted to commute Martin's sentence.