June 20, 2013

Is Rick Scott's Florida No. 1 for corruption? Dems say so

The Florida Democratic Party is jazzed up about the chance to knock Gov. Rick Scott out of office, producing a Web video that touts the significance of "one" in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

One part features Scott saying, "Florida won't stop until we’re No. 1."

The words "Um, right" appear on the screen, followed by a newspaper headline typed over Scott: "Study ranks Florida No. 1 in government corruption." "No. 1 in government corruption," the text states. "Yep, Rick Scott, you're #1 alright."

Continue reading "Is Rick Scott's Florida No. 1 for corruption? Dems say so" »

June 18, 2013

Dems aren't ready to measure their candidates but they do have metrics on -- the JJ dinner

FLDEM infographicHere's a new one -- an infographic touting a dinner. This one is about the Florida Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner, held Saturday at the Westin Diplomat in Broward.

The party offers up on its web site its metrics for what says was an unprecedented number of attendees and $850,000 in money raised (compared to last year's $600,000.) It even measured the applause, with a decibel meter. 

Then there's what the graphic didn't measure:

* the rift between House Democrats;

* the rejection of former state Sen. Nan Rich, who is running for governor, from the speaker's platform;

* the reaction to Alex Sink, former CFO who narrowly lost to Rick Scott and is considering entering the race again; 

* or the crowd's receptiveness to likely-Democratic candidate and former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.

 A new Quinnipiac University poll out today did take a measurement on some of those folks. Respondents said that if the election were held today both Crist and Sink would defeat incumbent Gov. Rick Scott while too few people know about Rich to judge her.  Download 061813 FL GOV POLL + BP

Update: Republican political consultant Brian Burgess notes that, based on a report published in the Palm Beach Post last year, Democratic Party organizers in 2012 actually reported a higher number of people in attendance (1,000) and a fundraising threshold of $750,000. 

"Either the Florida Democrats are lousy at math, or they're lousy at telling the truth,'' he said. 

Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp, who wasn't with the Florida party last year, responded that the actual number of attendees in 2012 was closer to 900 and the amount reported as raised was based on amount pledged. This year's number, he said, was based on checks delivered and he stands by the percentages reported.

 

June 16, 2013

Amid governor's-race controversy, FL Dems boast they'll still whip Rick Scott

@MarcACaputo

              Florida Democrats’ best candidate for governor right now isn’t a candidate and wasn’t always one of them.

And party leaders caused a stir by snubbing a longtime candidate and party stalwart.

But when the elites of the Florida Democratic Party met Saturday for their annual fund-raising gala, they suggested none of that was really a big problem for one big reason: Rick Scott.

The unpopular Republican governor looks like an easy target for an incumbent.

“Whoever the Democratic nominee is will beat Rick Scott,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “We will win the governor’s mansion next November. There’s not any question.”

Even before the Jefferson-Jackson dinner began, Florida Democratic Party leaders said it was a success, bringing in a record $850,000.

More here

June 15, 2013

FL House Dem leader Rouson bashed by fellow Dems as 'a divider.'

The News Service of Florida:

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., June 15, 2013.......On a day when the Florida Democratic Party gathered to showcase its united drive to unseat Gov. Rick Scott, House Democrats held a caucus meeting that instead highlighted the concerns some members have with the leadership style of Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.

Rouson, who was chosen to lead House Democrats after the 2014 elections following a contentious contest with Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, is currently trying to increase the party's size in the House. But his style of doing so came under withering criticism Saturday from two members who said they were unhappy with Rouson.

It's not clear if the discontent goes beyond those two members, or how far it does go.

Rep. Mike Clelland, D-Lake Mary, questioned whether Rouson had managed to gain the full support of the Florida Education Association and the Florida Justice Association, two key constituencies in the party's organizing and fundraising efforts, as well as some other party leaders.

"Everything that I have heard from reliable sources is that you've alienated all of those folks," Clelland said. "And I want a leader in this caucus who's going to be a unifier, not a divider."

Continue reading "FL House Dem leader Rouson bashed by fellow Dems as 'a divider.'" »

June 14, 2013

"5 minutes?" Democrat Nan Rich fundraises off Florida Democratic Party snub

@MarcACaputo

From an email:

Dear Marc,

As you may know, I haven’t been invited to speak at the Florida Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser tomorrow night.  It seems to me that the Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser is exactly the kind of event where the Party would want to feature a Gubernatorial candidate who has been actively campaigning to defeat Rick Scott for the past year.  But they have decided not to do so and that is entirely their decision to make.

That decision, however, has not gone unnoticed by the media and scores of Democratic activists around the state who expected me to speak at J-J.  In fact, over the past few of weeks, a number of news stories have been written about giving me 5 minutes to speak at the event.

Continue reading ""5 minutes?" Democrat Nan Rich fundraises off Florida Democratic Party snub" »

June 11, 2013

GOP targets Democrats with robo calls urging them to 'free Nan Rich'

Putting its money where its mouth is, the Republican Party of Florida on Tuesday launched a robo-call campaign aimed at loyal Democrats urging them to "free Nan Rich" and let the underdog candidate for governor speak at the party’s annual fundraising dinner this weekend.

“Hi. I’m calling on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida,’’ the recorded female voice says in telephone calls targeting 13,000 Democrats in Miami, Palm Beach and Fort Myers. The phone campaign is part of an aggressive GOP media pitch aimed at exploiting the rift that rose when Rich was denied a speaking spot at the event.

“While our parties may not agree on most issues, we do agree when it comes to honoring those in our parties who represent its core values,’’ the recorded voice continues. “But Florida Democratic Chair Allison Tant is refusing to let Nan Rich speak for five minutes at this Saturday’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner.” Download RPOF_06112013_NanRich (1)

Rich, a former state senator, was left off the roster of the dinner to be held at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood even though she has been the only Democrat actively campaigning to defeat Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

Tant said Rich’s rejection was not a snub but an attempt to streamline and energize a program that has traditionally gone on for hours. Meanwhile, the high profile attention from Repupblican Party Chairman Lenny Curry has not suppressed interest but increased it, she said, noting that the party is sold 40 more tables than last year and is ahead of its fundraising goal.

“I hope it costs them some money,’’ Tant said with a laugh. “Maybe I ought to write Lenny a thank you note.”

RPOF’s focus on the issue – in an email to party stalwarts, the robo calls and press releases – has also helped draw attention to Rich’s campaign which, until now, had been dwarfed by a focus on former Republican governor turned Democrat, Charlie Crist, and former Chief Financial Officer and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink.

“They are trying to be my best friend,’’ Rich said Tuesday, adding that the RPOF attention and the party rejection “is backfiring on everybody.

“I’ve received two to three weeks of incredible media attention I wasn’t able to get before and people recognize that I’m a legitimate candidate for governor,’’ she told the Herald/Times.

Tant said she was also “thrilled that Nan’s gotten some buzz." 

The party program, which last year included six key speeches, is designed to be kept to 90 minutes, said Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp.

Speakers will include brief remarks from Tant, DNC Chairwoman Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Pembroke Pines, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and a keynote speech from San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the rising star who gave a well-received speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and will help the party highlight its outreach to Hispanics.

Rich, a former Senate Democratic leader, agrees there is a need to shorten the speechifying. "I have sat there for hour after hour and there have been too many speakers,'' she said. But she is not persuaded they couldn’t make room for a five-minute speech from the only Democrat who has been campaigning to unseat Scott.

“We have a different view what the purpose of the Jefferson-Jackson dinner is,’’ she told the Herald Times. “I believe I’ve earned the right to speak and it is totally appropriate for me to speak. The truth is people all over the state are expressing that.”

Curry clearly sees the advantage in exploiting the disagreement. In the robo-call to Democrats, the recorded voice quotes Democratic activists and a newspaper columnist and urges people to call the Democratic Party.

"To make your voice heard, call the Florida Democrats at 850-222-3411 Tell them to free Nan Rich and let her speak,’’ the caller says.

Here’s the RPOF script:

“Hi. I’m calling on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida.

"While our parties may not agree on most issues, we do agree when it comes to honoring those in our parties who represent its core values. But Florida Democratic Chair Allison Tant is refusing to let Nan Rich speak for five minutes at this Saturday’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

"Maggie Davidson, state Democratic committeewoman from Broward, told the Sun-Sentinel that “Nan Rich should be allowed to speak. She’s a high-level Democrat and she should be highlighted.”

"The Sun-Sentinel’s Gary Stein, wrote that “Jefferson and Jackson themselves would be all in favor of letting Nan Rich speak.”

"To make your voice heard, call the Florida Democrats at 850-222-3411 Tell them to free Nan Rich and let her speak."

June 10, 2013

Movers & Shakers

Former Romney spokesman new press secretary for the Republican Party of Florida

 Susan Hepworth, who served as director of the national traveling press for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign, is the new press secretary and deputy communications director for the Republican Party of Florida.

The Kansas City native traveled full time with former Gov. Romney and the press corp during his race for president.

During the 2010 election cycle, she directed the day-to-day political operations at the RNC. Prior to that she was at Majority Strategies, a mail firm in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Hepworth began her political career in 2007 in Iowa on Romney’s first presidential bid right after graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism.

“I graduated on a Sunday, drove to Des Moines on Monday and I started working on the campaign on Tuesday,” said Hepworth, who started her new job June 7. “And that’s been my life.”

Winsor new state solicitor general

Allen Winsor succeeds Timothy Osterhaus as Florida’s solicitor general,  the state government’s top appellate lawyer. Osterhaus was appointed to the 1st District Court of Appeal May 20th.

Winsor, 36,  has been the principal deputy solicitor general since January. Prior to that, he was a member of the Tallahassee office of GrayRobinson, most recently as a shareholder. He’s a 2002 graduate of the University Of Florida College Of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Florida Law Review.

The Florida solicitor general represents the state throughout Florida's appellate courts and in the U.S. Supreme Court. The solicitor general also serves as the Richard W. Ervin Eminent Scholar Chair and a visiting professor of law at Florida State University College of Law.

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June 06, 2013

Florida Dems announce big-data hire from Obama 2012 campaign

@MarcACaputo

Florida Democrats have long faced a conundrum: They greatly outnumber Republicans (522,267 by the most recent count of active registered voters), but the state Legislature, governor's mansion and Cabinet are controlled by the GOP. Only one Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, holds a statewide elected office.

One reason for the disparity between registration and results: the Republican Party of Florida has had an organizational edge for years.  But President Obama's data-driven campaign helped counteract that for two presidential elections in Florida. The Florida Democratic Party wants to tap that savvy and know-how and, today, announced the hire of one of Obama's get-out-the-vote hands.

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June 04, 2013

Movers & Shakers

Israel named to council on violent crime and drug control

New Broward County Sheriff Scott J. Israel has been appointed to the 14-member Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council. Israel defeated incumbent Al Lamberti in November.

Volusia County Sheriff Ben F. Johnson, 62, of Deland, has been reappointed to the council.

The council provides advice and makes recommendations on issues including gang criminal investigations, money laundering and drug control.

Teachers recognized at Cabinet meeting

Five of the 2013-2014 District Teachers of the Year were recognized at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting:

Carrie Cooper, Columbia County, Columbia High School

Deborah Hodge, Dixie County, Dixie County High School

Kathy Griffin, Hamilton County, Central Hamilton Elementary School

Nicole Roddenberry, Jefferson County, Jefferson County Elementary School

Kelli Williams, Suwannee County, Suwannee Primary School

Scott, Brogan at TaxWatch awards for cost-cutting employees

Scott will be speaking at the Florida TaxWatch's awards ceremony for state employees who have contributed innovative and cost-saving ideas. The 25th Annual Prudential - Davis Productivity Awards gala will take place from 5 to 8:30 p.m. June 5 at the Florida State University, University Center Club. 

The ceremony will grant 191 awards to state employees from the Tallahassee/Northwest Florida area. Frank Brogan, chancellor of the state university system, will serve as master of ceremonies. 

FMA tweaks government affairs team

The Florida Medical Association is making some changes in its government affairs team, with some staffers getting new titles and more responsibility.

Katie Ballard, director of legislative affairs, will play a key part on the FMA's lobbying team along with fundraising efforts.

Eric Carr, legislative and political grassroots coordinator, will be responsible for rebuilding the FMA legislative key contact program.   

Michelle Jacquis, director of policy management and legislative operations, will track bills introduced in the legislature and coordinate public policy positions.

Holly Miller, governmental affairs counsel, will assume a more active role on the FMA lobbying team.

Monte Stevens, director of governmental affairs and public policy, will manage the FMA’s in-house lobbying team.

FMA General Counsel Jeff Scott providea legal and policy guidance and will draft bills and amendments.

Executive Vice President Timothy J. Stapleton will be responsible for developing and implementing the FMA's overall legislative and political strategy.

Continue reading "Movers & Shakers" »

June 02, 2013

Why the Florida Democratic Party, and Charlie Crist, need Nan Rich

@MarcACaputo

The Florida Democratic Party knows it needs Nan Rich.

And, perhaps, so does former Gov. Charlie Crist, who could face her in next year’s Democratic primary for governor if he decides to run against her.

A long-shot for governor, Rich’s background is an inverse of Crist’s: a committed liberal and a longtime Democrat, but a virtual unknown. Rich, a former Democratic leader in the state Senate, represented Weston until 2012.

If Crist runs, which looks likely, the Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat will have to face her in a 2014 primary where only registered Democrats can vote.

Continue reading "Why the Florida Democratic Party, and Charlie Crist, need Nan Rich" »