December 13, 2012

Private poll: Crist has big lead in Democratic primary

A new private poll of 1,000 Democratic voters gives former Gov. Charlie Crist an overwhelming advantage over all other Democrats in a hypothetical primary for governor, including a 21-point lead in a test matchup against Alex Sink, the party's 2010 nominee.

Neither Crist nor Sink has announced plans to run for governor. The poll concludes that Crist is far better known than Sink and that 75 percent of Democrats believe he has the best chance of beating Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014. 

In a coincidence of timing, about half of the poll was done before Crist's Dec. 7 announcement that he was becoming a Democrat, and half was conducted afterward. The poll showed Crist increasing his lead over Sink from 17 points to 25 after his switch became public at a White House holiday reception, for a bottom-line advantage of 21 points (55 percent to 34 percent with 11 percent undecided).

The poll was done for an undisclosed client of ClearView Research from Dec. 4-9, and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. ClearView, a market research firm, is run in part by Screven Watson, a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party and a Tallahassee political operative who said he has no connection to Crist. 

"This was not done to promote or demote anybody," Watson said. "A client had a curiosity. We do not have a dog in this fight."

According to the poll, 79 percent of Democrats have a somewhat or very favorable view of Crist compared to 58 percent for Sink. Crist, a former Republican governor who ran as an independent Senate candidate in 2010, completed his conversion to the Democratic Party Thursday.

The poll tested six other names, all of whom had much lower favorability ratings than Crist or Sink, larggely because they are less well-known: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, former Sen. Nan Rich, former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith and former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

Nearly half of voters (47 percent) said they would be "much more likely" to vote for Crist if he were endorsed by Democratic leaders such as former Gov. Bob Graham, Sen. Bill Nelson or President Barack Obama. The poll shows Crist is weakest where the president is, too: among "Dixiecrats," conservative Democrats in North Florida

The pollster also offered voters a series of "push" statements that did not affect the results in any statistically significant way. Among the statements: that Crist endorsed Sarah Palin for vice-president in 2008 and campaigned for Obama in 2012; that he "can't be trusted" because he has switched parties and positions so often; that Sink and her husband, Bill McBride, have both run for governor and lost; and that Sink is pro-choice.

-- Steve Bousquet

November 12, 2012

Sink and Goodman headline WEDU Tampa fund-raiser

Sink, Goodman headline WEDU fund-raiser in Tampa

Alex Sink, the Democratic Party's 2010 candidate for governor, and Adam Goodman, a leading Republican political consultant, will co-chair a unique bi-partisan event to raise money for WEDU, Tampa Bay's public television station.

Billed as "The One Night That We're All Together," the event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, Nov. 14, at the WEDU studios at 1300 N. Boulevard in Tampa. A limited number of tickets are still available for purchase. A special feature of the evening will include two tapings of WEDU's award-winning statewide public affairs program, "Florida This Week," with a live studio audience.

More information on the event can be found online at

Sink and Goodman are featured in this special promotional message marketing the event.

-- Steve Bousquet

September 10, 2012

Hype-doubting Dem pollster: Alex Sink (31%) and Charlie Crist (29%) are likely tied in '14 gov. race

A new poll showing former Republican governor Charlie Crist utterly destroying former state CFO Alex Sink, a Democrat, in the 2014 Democratic primary is at best an outlier.

That's according to a cursory glance of the results from a nearly unknown polling outfit that hails from Crist's hometown, St. Petersburg, and other surveys concerning Crist that have far different results.

Bottom line, the basic methodology of the survey released yesterday from St. Pete Polls has a major oddity: It has no undecided voters in a theoretical race two years away while everyone's focused on the current presidential and (to a lesser degree) Senate races. With zero undecided votes, the poll showed Crist earning a whopping 61 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary with Sink earning just 25 percent. A handful of lesser-known candidates, including only-announced candidate Nan Rich, were in the single digits.

Undecideds: 0

"There's no one undecided? Well, we've now made history: two years before an election before nearly all the candidates have really declared, everyone knows who they'll vote for," said Tom Eldon, pollster SEA Polling & Strategic Design, who has surveyed for Democrats and trial lawyers since 1996 in Florida. Along with a Republican-leaning pollster, Eldon used to conduct surveys for The Miami Herald.

Eldon was hired last month by the Democratic firm EDGE Communications to survey 600 registered Democrats to gauge their interest in the race. It found Crist and Sink basically tied, with Sink earning 31 percent and Crist 29 percent of the vote. A handful of other candidates were in the double digits. Undecided: 26 percent.

That's still great news for Crist (who's still an independent after leaving the GOP) and not-so-good news for longtime-Democrat Sink, whose 2010 loss to GOP Gov. Rick Scott rankles some Democrats to the core so much that the party is willing to seriously consider a former Republican as their nominee.

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September 06, 2012

Florida Dems' dilemma: Sink with the rank-and-file, Crist with the money men

Crist and SinkAn image that speaks volumes about the potential looming Democratic gubernatorial primary between Alex Sink and Charlie Crist: Last night Sink and hubbie Bill McBride sat in the arena with Florida delegates watching the speakers.

Crist, meanwhile, was shmoozing in the luxury suites with the Democratic big wigs. We hear he also hung out at the Ritz for awhile with Kirk Wager, Florida Finance Chairman of the Crist campaign (who says he merely bumped into him at the bar, though "I do like him). Today CNN's Peter Hamby chatted with the former Republican as he left a DNC national finance committee meeting.

The former governor has steered clear of the delegates and party activists in Charlotte. Most of them show little enthusiasm for Crist, who generally show little enthusiasm for his running for governor, let alone getting a speaking gig on the final night of the convention. No, the enthusiasm for Crist mostly comes from the Obama campaign.

Continue reading "Florida Dems' dilemma: Sink with the rank-and-file, Crist with the money men" »

April 18, 2012

Sen. Nan Rich says she will run for Gov in 2014


Check out this clip of state Sen. Nan Rich declaring her candidacy for governor in 2014 and scoffing at the prospect of Charlie Crist challenging her for the Democratic nomination. It's no secret that Rich has been preparing for a gubernatorial bid, but fairly or not the 70-year-old Weston resident is not widely seen as strong favorite in a Democratic field that could include Crist, Alex Sink, Jeremy Ring, Rod Smith, and plenty of others.

Is she underestimated?

"It's not a surprise to see Senator Rich running. She's been the Florida Senate's most consistent voice from the left," said Republican consultant Brian Hughes, former spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott. "Given that her constituency is the heavily Democrat portion of the state, I don't see how she's anything but formidable in a Democrat primary. Party leaders may want to embrace a chameleon like Charlie Crist, but South Florida Democrats see Rich as a fighter for what they believe."

--Adam C. Smith

July 26, 2011

Alex Sink: Rick Scott is 'clueless' in debt ceiling debate

Alex Sink, the state's former Chief Financial Officer and the 2010 Democratic nominee for governor, took aim at former political opponent Gov. Rick Scott for his comments on Monday that Congress should not raise the federal debt ceiling

"It's clueless," Sink told the Times/Herald. "Heck yes our credit rating will be impacted. That's Florida budgeting 101."

Scott, however, believes the impact to Florida and financial markets would be minimal.

An analysis his office prepared (read it here) showed a federal government shutdown would have few immediate consequences for Florida: the Florida National Guard would suspend drill activities, child support enforcement would have cash flow issues and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement might not be able to use E-verify, the federal database used to check immigration status.

There would be significantly more long-term impacts to say nothing of the potential impact on state and local government credit ratings.

"Suggesting the debt ceiling should not be addressed is outrageous and irresponsible," Sink said in an e-mail. "A default by the federal government would have immediate impact on the state of Florida, our budget, and our credit ratings.

"The people of Florida know better, and we need our governor to know better."

April 07, 2011

Alex Sink joins Tampa investment banking firm

Alex Sink[1]
Former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate for governor last year, has joined Tampa-based investment banking firm Hyde Park Capital as a senior advisor.

Sink, 62, will work with the firm on a part-time basis and will continue to move forward with plans to establish a non-profit policy institute based in Tampa. Sink said her role at the firm will be to help develop the company's South Florida market. 

 "It fits really well with my love of finance and my interest in working with entrepreneurs, middle market companies and small businesses and helping them raise capital,'' Sink told the Herald/Times. The company focuses on middle market companies that make between $10 million and $500 million in sales that are looking for capital as they grow.

Sink offered her thoughts on the first three months of Gov. Rick Scott's administration. "It seems in an environment in which 1 million Floridians are still out of work, it seems so much of the conversation coming out of Tallahassee is not about creating jobs,'' she said. She said the loudest complaint she hears from people and business owners is complaints about the governor's proposal to cut education by 10 percent.

"They say young people don't want to come to Florida,'' she said. "They are concerned about the quality of life and the support for public education and families."

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January 05, 2011

Why Florida is 'absolutely' in play for Obama, Bill Nelson in 2012

Despite the whipping his party and candidate (Alex Sink) just received in November, wunderkind Florida Democratic strategist Steve Schale says all's not lost for Dems in the upcoming presidential elections. Here's his take:

Tis the season for speculation on 2012, so it came as no surprise that after my Holiday self-imposed no-telephone call break, I found several messages on my phone from reporters asking my take on whether Florida is truly a toss-up state for President Obama, especially after what here (and everywhere else) happened in November. 

My answer:  Absolutely.  There is no question that Florida in 2012 will be competitive.  For those who want to write off President Obama here, or anywhere for that matter, history has proven never to count him out.  Personally, I believe he can and will win Florida in 2012.  But more on that later.

There are lots of reasons why Florida will be competitive in 2012, but mostly the state's Presidential election make-up is vastly different than its Gubernatorial election make-up.  Look at the last five elections and you will see it doesn't really matter what happens in the Gubernatorial cycle, Presidential elections are always tight.

Schale's blog here 

December 26, 2010

Alex Sink seeks new role as moderate voice and party builder

Stung by a narrow defeat in a governor's race she says she never expected to lose, Alex Sink is retiring from public office, but not from public view.

The departure of the chief financial officer and Democrat, who lost to Republican Rick Scott by 62,000 votes, leaves Tallahassee with no Democratic statewide officeholder left standing. Dozens of Sink's employees must either leave government or seek work with Republicans, who control the Legislature and all three Cabinet posts.

To fill a void, and continue the policy work begun by her campaign, Sink told The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times that she wants to establish a nonprofit, nonpartisan, Brookings Institution-style think tank to advance the policies she focused on during her campaign and to keep herself in play for her next political move.

``I'm not closing any doors,'' said Sink, 62. ``I'm at the stage of my life when I've learned never to say never.'' Story here.

December 21, 2010

Medicaid battle begins: Sink report puts $69 million pricetag on giving docs immunity

As the Legislature and now Gov.-elect Rick Scott consider giving doctors immunity from lawsuits in return for treating Medicaid patients, a new report warns that such an arrangement would cost taxpayers at least $69 million a year.

   Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who lost to Scott in November, commissioned the actuarial report last month after lawmakers indicated they are considering extending sovereign immunity to Medicaid providers.

   The report concludes that if legislators extend the state cap on legal liability, known as sovereign immunity, to Medicaid providers who commit negligent acts, îîthe state basically takes the place of a doctor who commits a negligent act.'' When a patient sues, taxpayers pick up the tab of any medical malpractice claim up to $300,000. The cost of defending and investigating an estimated 551 claims a year would cost Florida $69 million a year, the report claims.

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