August 20, 2010

Greene's usual attack falls flat

Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene has made a campaign out of criticizing "career politicians,'' especially his rival, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami. It's a popular appeal in this anti-incumbent election year.

But in a ballroom full of local officeholders from across the state -- with a bunch of career politicians among them -- Greene's usual lines about the "corrupt political system" didn't resonate. When he wasn't government-bashing, he was media-bashing, making for a slightly sour and defensive speech.

The folks at the The Florida League of Cities candidates' forum were more receptive to Meek, who is announcing endorsements from 51 mayors today. "I want to have that personal cellular phone number relationhip with every one of you,''  Meek said.

Democratic and independent candidates for governor Alex Sink and Lawton "Bud'' Chiles III, also catered their comments to the pro-local-control, anti-unfunded-mandates crowd.

Referring to the GOP-controlled state Legislature, Sink said, "No more can they stand on the steps of the Capitol and brag about cutting taxes when all they did was shift the burden to you,'' she said.

"I'm going to be a governor who will do it not from the top down, but from the bottom up,'' Chiles said.

The Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate were invited but did not attend the conference at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood,

Jeff Greene's spending

We're already hearing some veteran Florida campaign operatives cluck over what they see as Jeff Greene having blown his opportunity to have knocked out Kendrick Meek early. As of Aug. 13, he had reported spending about $22.89-million of his own money on his primary - which is more than four times as much as Meek and about half what Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott has spent. (We'll refrain from wondering aloud how someone can spend $23-million of his own money and still have Florida's only statewide campaign that can't or won't provide a schedule of campaign events more than 12 hours in advance.)

Had Joe Trippi convinced Greene to keep up the spending early on, the theory goes,he could have buried Meek to the point where he could not dig out. After all, Greene arguably had an easier job than fellow self-funder Rick Scott. Scott faced an opponent who had already been on the statewide ballot three times, while Meek was far less known. What's more, Meek never was going to have access the $15-million to fight back, like McCollum.

August 19, 2010

Greene gets green -- but not with Obama envy

Greene bus

Standing in front of a compressed natural gas pump in Tallahassee, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene expressed reservations Thursday about the cap-and-trade legislation in Congress.

“I think the cap and trade concept has been difficult to work because they can’t seem to figure out how to do it,” he said after touring a Leon County school district facility that uses natural gas to power buses. “But I think the long term goal of discouraging people from using dirty burning carbon and encouraging them to use clean burning energy like natural gas is something I will push in the Senate.”

Greene dismissed President Barack Obama’s embrace of rival Kendrick Meek at an event in Miami last night. “I’ve been running against the Democratic establishment since I got into this race,” he said. “I’m not running on endorsements. Kendrick Meek is running on endorsements and very few accomplishments.”

Continue reading "Greene gets green -- but not with Obama envy" »

Q poll: Sink, Crist lead November matchups

Alex Sink continues to gain ground in November's race for governor as the two Republicans wage an expensive battle to drive up each other's negatives, a new Quinnipiac University poll finds. If she were to face Bill McCollum (as yesterday's Q poll suggests), she would lead 31 percent to 29 percent. Against Rick Scott, she had a 33-29 lead. In both cases, indy Bud Chiles gets 12 percent and about a fifth of the electorate is undecided.

In the Senate race, Charlie Crist continues to hold about a seven point edge over Marco Rubio. According to the poll, his lead is relatively the same regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. Against Kendrick Meek, Crist leads 39-32-16, while facing Jeff Greene he is up 40-32-15.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 11-16 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points with a 1,096 sample size.

Full story here.

August 18, 2010

Crist feeling the love from Wynmoor Democrats

Gov. Charlie Crist was feeling the love today when he spoke in front of several hundred at Wynmoor -- a retirement condo community in Coconut Creek that is predominantly Democratic. Lots of voters in the room wore Crist for U.S. Senate stickers and warmly applauded the governor who ditched the GOP earlier this year and is running with no party affiliation.

Crist spent about an hour at Wynmoor -- schmoozing with every single last person who wanted to chat with him, pose for a photo or wish him luck.

Crist knew his audience -- he knew to give a shout-out to Wynmoor Democratic club president Gert Weinberg who sat in the front row and embraced Crist but said she is supporting Democrat Jeff Greene.  "He's wonderful, he spoke beautifully, very impressive charming person,'' Weinberg said. When asked if Crist could win Wynmoor she said: "It's hard to tell."

Crist talked up his support for Israel with the heavily Jewish crowd and one of his longest anecdotes was about visiting Israel in 2007 with Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler. Crist said that Wexler told him to write a prayer and stick it in the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Crist wrote: "Dear God: Please protest Florida from storms and other difficulties."

Every year since then Crist has asked some other Floridian traveling to Israel each year (one year it was state Sen. Nan Rich) to put the same prayer in the wall. Crist said he and Wexler later teamed up to push for a paper ballot trail.

His point wasn't just appeal to Jews in the room by talking about Israel -- Crist underscored how he and Wexler worked together despite being in opposing political parties. He repeatedly told the crowd that he'll put them -- not a political party -- first.

Asked after his talk why he bothered visiting a Democratic stronghold after the event Crist told the Herald: "because every vote counts. .. It's almost like why not come here? These are Floridians."

Politicians in the room included Republican Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti who was initially appointed to his post by Crist and said he is making no endorsement in the race, Democratic state Rep. Ari Porth who has endorsed Crist and Democratic City Commissioner Mikkie Belvedere who has endorsed Democrat Kendrick Meek. Democratic state sen. Jeremy Ring said he made a phone call to Wynmoor to help Crist get space to speak but said he has made no endorsement in the race.

Air war v. ground game on Tuesday's ballot

In the frenzied homestretch before the Aug. 24 primary, U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek made a brief detour into tiny Holmes County to have lunch with a single Democratic party leader.

The meal was worth it, Meek said, and not just for the fried chicken wings.

"I gave him 10 yard signs and he said he knew exactly where to put them,'' the Miami congressman told about 50 voters in Port Richey during a recent statewide bus tour. "You can't buy a nomination in the state of Florida.''

Or can you?

His Democratic competitor, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, is dwarfing Meek's modest advertising budget with a television and mail blitz. A similarly lopsided dynamic is playing out in the Republican gubernatorial primary, in which Naples corporate executive Rick Scott is overpowering Attorney General Bill McCollum on the air.

Full story here.

The insiders are back: McCollum, Meek lead in Q poll

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has surged by 12-percentage points and now leads fellow Republican Rick Scott, leading by a 44-35 percent margin in the governor's race, according to the latest Quinnipac University survey. The last likely voter poll from Quinnipiac, on July 29, found McCollum trailing Scott 32-43.

In the Democrats' senate race, Rep. Kendrick Meek is also besting a political newcomer, Jeff Greene, and leads him 35-28. Less than three weeks ago, Meek was trailing 23-33.

Full story is here

August 17, 2010

Tyson says he didn't do drugs on Greene's boat

Politico is reporting an interview with fomer boxing star Mike Tyson in which he says he never did drugs aboard U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene's boat when they traveled together in 2005.

"I didn't do drugs on the boat. I had a problem. I had just lost a fight. I was depressed. I was fighting for 20 years, I was finding out after 20 years I was broke. Jeff said, 'Come with me on the Summerwind.'"

"I would go places," he said. "I wasn't with Jeff 24 hours a day. I wasn't on the boat 24 hours a day."Mo

Greene campaign picks the wrong Cuban-American

IMG00024-20100817-1111 Just days after saying he was reconsidering his support for the Cuban embargo, U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene stepped into the lion's den, campaigning this morning at Versailles restaurant in Little Havana.

A campaign staffer was trying to line up some patrons for the Democrat to meet. She approached Ninoska Perez Castellon, not recognizing the popular Radio Mambi talk show host and hardline embargo supporter.

"Not after his trip,'' Castellon said, referring to Greene's 2007 visit to Cuba. "Not after his comments on the embargo. I don't want to have coffee with him.''

Greene sat down to have coffee with some friendlier gentlemen, who denied that the campaign had staged their appearance. In front of a scrum of local television and newspaper reporters, Castellon interrupted the conversation: "Are you aware that while partying on your yacht in Cuba...there's apartheid?''

Greene kept his cool. He denied that there was any partying going on and said he had stopped his yacht in Cuba for emergency repairs.

"It's a 50-year program that hasn't worked,'' Greene said of the trade embargo. "We all want to get rid of the Castro regime."

August 16, 2010

Jeff Greene stumping in Kendrick Meek territory

While U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek was holding rallies with former President Bill Clinton, what better for Jeff Greene to do than go to Liberty City, a community in the heart of Meek's congressional district?

Greene attended a "community party" at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, where there was a percussion band, face painting, barbecue and, later, a DJ.

Inside the center, the real-estate mogul talked about creating jobs and forming a "national infrastructure bank" to fund infrastructure improvement projects. He didn't talk about public housing or crime -- two issues people who attended they event said they wanted to hear about -- but before walking on stage, Greene told reporters, "This area has just got nothing but problems...People don't have enough to eat." (To apparently drive the point home, Greene stood on stage next to a table piled with canned goods and ramen noodles for a food drive.)

Greene ended his speech by acknowledging Meek but not praising him -- only his mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek. Greene has slammed Meek for seeking money from Dennis Stackhouse, a developer who paid Carrie Meek as a consultant.

"I know this is Kendrick Meek's district," Greene said. "He's a perfectly nice fellow, and I'm a big fan of his mom, who was an exceptional congresswoman."