August 09, 2010

Early voting begins...with the Electric Slide

Early voting got under way in Florida Monday, and at the International Longshoremen's Association local 1416 in Overtown, that meant dancing to...the Electric Slide.

Yep, Leslie Meek was boogieing to it. So was Lisa Lesperance, a lawyer and Democratic candidate for Florida House District 117.

The South Florida AFL-CIO held a rally with union-endorsed candidates. Union members were then going to brave the impending rain to march to downtown Miami and cast their ballots early.

"When working people vote early, we win," Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek told the crowd. "We've got beat this billionaire Republican who's running against me," he added, referring to his primary opponent, real-estate mogul Jeff Greene.

Added South Florida AFL-CIO President Fred Frost: "I'm sick and tired of businessmen, especially zillionaire businessmen, trying to reinvent themselves."

He also touted Luis Meurice, a Democrat running for the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

"We are doing something unprecedented: We are going to elect one of our own," Frost said.

August 08, 2010

Meek-Greene debate on as planned

The debate sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association featuring the two leading Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday in Orlando. Expect Kendrick Meek to go after Jeff Greene over this devastating report about his California real estate deal gone very bad.

UPDATE: Responding this morning to yesterday's letter from Meek's campaign manager, the Greene campaign said it tried to accommodate Meek's request to move the debate so he wouldn't miss a vote in Congress. Meek got permission from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to miss the vote and was "twisting the facts."

August 07, 2010

Meek v. Greene debate on the rocks

Oy. Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek wants to move Tuesday's 2 p.m. debate in Orlando against rival Jeff Greene so he won't miss a hastily scheduled vote in Congress.

According to a letter from Meek's campaign manager, Abe Dyk, the Greene campaign balked at the two alternative times offered by sponsor Leadership Florida -- 8 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. Tuesday.

This would be the Democrats' third and final debate before the Aug. 24 primary and the only live forum televised statewide.

"We once again urge you to reconsider this position and not to allow politics trump good public policy,'' Dyk says in the letter to the Greene campaign that was released to the press. "While under no circumstances are we willing to forgo the only chance for a statewide audience to view the debate, if your inflexibility persists, Kendrick will be left with no choice but to miss this critical vote (in Congress) that is so imperative for the future of our state."

By signing blank deeds, did Jeff Greene enable mortgage fraud in desert Calif. town?

RIDGECREST, Calif. — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene says he had nothing to do with creating the sub-prime mortgage mess that made him fabulously wealthy.

He was simply a savvy investor who “could see that the housing market was imploding” and lucky enough to make more than $500 million by betting against it.

But he wasn’t just a spectator to the housing collapse. Four years ago, Greene was party to precisely the kind of deal that decimated the market. 

Greene insists he did nothing wrong. Yet the way he handled the deal left an opening for massive fraud and put him uncomfortably close to a man now under federal indictment.

Read the story from St. Petersburg Times staff writers Kris Hundley and Caryn Baird here.

Cuba misadventures with Scott and Greene

I must admit to a certain perverse pleasure seeing the political outsiders of the 2010 campaign stumble over the tripwires of Florida politics.

Republican gubernatorial front-runner Rick Scott figured out this week, hopefully, that drinking a cortadito does not make you simpatico with Hispanic voters. And Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene learned the hard way that in certain quarters of Florida, visiting Cuba is akin to high treason.

"Welcome to politics in Florida,'' quipped Radio Mambi host Ninoska Perez Castellon, during an on-air discussion of Greene's Havana adventure.

Read column here.

August 06, 2010

August 05, 2010

M-D poll shows Scott with smaller lead

From a new Mason-Dixon poll conducted for Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association (Aug. 2-4, MoE: 4%): Rick Scott leads Bill McCollum 37-31, with 29 percent undecided.

“Hispanic Republicans favor McCollum over Scott by a 3-1 margin, which now is keeping McCollum in the race,” said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

Other results: In the Democratic race for U.S. Senate, the poll also shows U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek with a slight lead over real estate tycoon Jeff Greene, with Meek at 33 percent and Greene at 29 percent.

In the Democratic primary race for Florida Attorney General, state Sen. Dan Gelber is edging Sen. Dave Aronberg by 23 percent to 21 percent.

In the Republican primary for Attorney General, prosecutor Pam Bondi narrowly leads Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former legislator Holly Benson by 17 percent to 16 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

August 03, 2010

Greene changes story (again) on Cuba trip

Democratic Senate frontrunner Jeff Greene is backtracking on his claim that he had visited Cuba as part of a Jewish humanitarian trip, and a former deckhand says he's still not telling the truth.

Greene spokesman Luis Vizcaino said Tuesday that the real estate mogul's 145-foot yacht Summerwind docked for two days in Havana's Hemingway Marina in 2007 while awaiting repairs. In Sunday's debate against Democratic rival Kendrick Meek, Greene said he went to Cuba on a Jewish mission.

"During the debate Jeff misspoke,'' Vizcaino said after receiving media inquiries about the trip. "What he meant to say was that in 2007, he went on the boat from Honduras to the Bahamas, and en route the boat had a hydraulic problem...The captain said we could wait for the part at Hemingway Marina.''

But a deckhand on that trip tells a different story. John Walenczyk said the boat traveled from Fort Lauderdale directly to Cuba and docked for about one week.

"It was their total intention to go to Cuba,'' he said Tuesday. We never went to Honduras, not even close. I figure it was the glamour of wanting to go to a banned country.''

Full story here.

August 02, 2010

Was Greene on 'vomit-caked yacht' to Cuba or not?

For some Hispanics in South Florida, one detail stood out in Adam C. Smith's profile of Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene: Former crew members say his 145-foot yacht went to Cuba in 2007, and "everybody talked about the vomit caked all over the sides from all the partying going on.''

Greene says he supports the Cuba embargo and stumbled in yesterday's debate againt rival Kendrick Meek to explain. From today's story on the debate:

"I don't know if I need to slide my chair over, because a bolt of lightning may come in and hit Jeff,'' Meek scoffed. "You're saying you weren't on your yacht, when it went to Cuba and eyewitnesses said you were on the yacht?"

"No," Greene responded. "I went to Cuba years ago on a Jewish mission to Cuba, yes, for the Jewish community."

"Were you on the yacht when it was reported …" Meek pressed.

"No, not that time … I was not on the yacht on the trip you're talking about. I was on the yacht on another time when I had a visa to go there and visit the Jewish community," Greene stammered as Meek cross-examined him.

Greene said during the debate he hadn't been to Cuba in probably five years but later acknowledged it may have been 2007.