July 31, 2010

Meet the wives of the Florida Senate race

Florida's Senate race is about four men elbowing each other in a fierce bid to join the most powerful legislative branch in the United States.

But behind the candidates' nasty accusations are four spouses with mirror ambitions. They are their husbands' ultimate political accessories, the lapel flag in human form: slim legs, coiffed hair, dazzling smiles, a walking thesaurus of their spouses' winning attributes.

Carole Crist. Mei Greene. Leslie Meek. Jeanette Dousdebes-Rubio. Read about them here.

July 29, 2010

Two more Democratic leaders for Greene

Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene, who has pulled ahead of rival Kendrick Meek in a new poll, is increasingly picking up support in South Florida's retirement condos.

Here's two more backers: Frank Pumilia, president of the Margate Democratic Club, and Gert Weinberg, president of the Wynmoor Democratic Club in Coconut Creek. Not a good sign that Meek, a Democratic congressman and former state legislator, is losing these diehard Democrats to a political outsider who wasn't registered as a Democrat until 2008.

Weinberg said Greene will be the name on the top of her palm card for the Aug. 24 primary. "I am fond of Jeff. I think he'll do a good job,'' she said. "You don't have to be a politician. You have to be a smart person...I think there's something about Greene that's sensational."

"Truthfully, I never really knew Kendrick Meek,'' said Pumilia, who is hosting a luncheon for Greene on Aug. 21. "He hasn't once came to me and said,  "I need your support.'  I don't think he's made such a great mark in Congess. I think his mother did more than he ever did."

So Fla condo war rages between Meek, Greene -- and Crist

Gov. Charlie Crist hasn't done an actual event for his U.S. Senate campaign in weeks, though critics would say the lines between his campaign and public office are indistinguishable. Anyway, guess where he's going as a Republican-turned-independent U.S. Senate candidate on Monday? The Jewish Center at Century Village in Pembroke Pines -- holy ground for the Democratic party.

The influence of the Democratic-heavy retirement condos of South Florida has been on the wane in recent years but could matter in a low-turnout, mid-term election. And the longtime Democratic frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, could be in trouble on Aug. 24.

Palm cards -- the endorsements handed out by influential condo leaders -- are starting to trickle out. At the top of the card approved by Marvin Manning, president of the Democratic club at Century Village in Boca Raton is Meek's chief rival, Jeff Greene. Greene only became a Democrat in 2008, but has been sending mailers to the heavily Jewish retirement communities that note his experience living in Israel and teaching Hebrew school.

"The function of the primary is to select a team, and in looking at the polling, Meek is always at the bottom of the list,'' Manning said. "Greene came from nowhere and is in contention. We feel he makes a stronger candidate for the ticket."

Also supporting Greene, a billionaire who is bankrolling his own campaign, is one of the most powerful Democratic leaders in Broward County, Diane Glasser.

"I personally do not think that Kendrick Meek can ultimately win this race,'' she said. "If Jeff does, he helps the ticket...Jeff has unlimited resources and is doing what needs to be done."

But in a coup for Meek, he will lead the palm card at Century Village in West Palm Beach -- where Greene's mother lives.

"The fact that his mother is there is wonderful, but our board came together and decided Kendrick was the best choice,'' said the club president, Sam Oser. "He's been a Democrat. He's a congressman...Jeff of course is new on the block and we're hoping people like him will be active in the future."

Q Poll: Rick Scott and Jeff Greene lead by double digits

Whether its the Democratic or Republican primary, outsider millionaires are leading the pack in the Florida governor and Senate races, according to Quinnipiac University's latest poll of likely Florida voters.

In the governor's primary, Republican Rick Scott leads Attorney General Bill McCollum by 11 percentage points -- 43-32, the poll says.

In the Senate primary, Democrat Jeff Greene leads Rep. Kendrick Meek by 10 points -- 33-22. Greene has gained the most ground since the last Q poll on June 10. Then, Greene trailed Meek by 2 percentage points (27-29).

Like Scott, Greene then poured his millions into advertising and watched his poll numbers rise. Neither Greene nor Scott have held elected office before. McCollum has held or run for office for the past 30 years. Meek has been in Congress and the Legislature for more than a decade.

“If there was any doubt that enough money can make a political unknown into a front-runner, the Democratic Senate primary and the Republican primary for governor should lay them to rest,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“Both Greene and Scott have come from nowhere to hold double-digit leads with just a little more than three weeks until the voting.” 

The poll only concerns the Aug. 24 primary. So there's no numbers concerning independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio in the overall Senate race. Nor does the poll include questions about Democrat Alex Sink or independent Bud Chiles in the overall governor's race.

July 28, 2010

More stores close under Greene bankruptcy

The latest on the gas station chain bought less than one year ago by Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene from The Johnson City Press:

A landlord that has closed 12 APPCO convenience stores got U.S. Bankruptcy Court permission to close another nine last week, but APPCO’s owner beat it to the punch by closing two of the stores. APPCO owner Sunshine Energy, embroiled in a battle with former APPCO owner Jim MacLean over the 28 store properties he still owns, last week closed APPCO No. 11, at Broadway and East Main streets, and APPCO No. 40 in Elizabethton. Sunshine Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy June 10, days after MacLean’s Management Properties Inc. began repossessing some of the properties it owns. By June 10, 12 of the company’s 47 stores were closed, and have been since. The latest closures came shortly after Bankruptcy Judge Marcia Parsons ruled last week that MacLean could repossess nine more stores (including a half-dozen in the Johnson City area) that had been protected by Sunshine’s bankruptcy filing. That decision followed on Parsons’ June 24 refusal to let Sunshine reopen the 12 stores MPI had closed between June 2 and June 9, and applied to stores that state courts had ruled before June 10 could be repossessed. For its part, MPI has filed a motion to have the entire bankruptcy case as a “bad faith filing,” contending Sunshine only filed to prevent repossession of the stores...The additional stores slated for closure include the Broadway and Elizabethton stores, stores on South Greenwood Drive and East Unaka Avenue in Johnson City, two stores in Gray, and one each in Boones Creek, Roan Mountain and Mountain City. Sunshine shuttered APPCO 11 around Wednesday of last week and removed the pumps the next day, the owner of the store located next door said.

Staff changes for Greene

First campaign manager Josh Morrow abruptly leaves the Jeff Greene Democratic Senate campaign, and Jessica Vanden Berg comes on board. Now Jeff Greene's campaign is bring on board a new media consultant, Devine/Mulvey.

"Jef wants to bring in additional creative ideas to the media and the message,'' said Paul Blank, noting that his partner, media consultant Joe Trippi is still with the campaign. Tad Devine

July 27, 2010

Greene calls Meek 'crooked' and 'corrupt' in new ads

It's official: The Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate is a slugfest. Jeff Greene is up with two new, ugly television spots bashing U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami.

A quick fact check: One spot says he "lobbied for Big Tobacco against children's health care.'' Meek did help a MIami cigar maker get a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but he voted in favor of the legislation -- later vetoed by President Bush -- to raise taxes on tobacco to expand a health insurance program for poor kids.

The other spot focuses on Meek's ties to a developer accused of fraud. Meek has not been charged in the case.


July 26, 2010

Kendrick Meek's first TV spot is attack ad

Six million dollars in advertising behind Democratic Senate rival Jeff Greene, Kendrick Meek is airing his first television spot. And while candidates typically start out with a soft debut to introduce themselves to voters, Meek is going after Greene right from the start.

The accusations are familiar -- Greene is a carpetbagger who profited from the real estate meltdown while homeowners suffered. One questionable claim: that Greene "helped fuel the economic meltdown." Politifact on that issue is here and the ad is below.

July 24, 2010

Why you gotta love (or hate) Jeff Greene

IMG00011-20100724-0803You got to admire the chutzpah of this guy. He spends his life registered as a Republican and independent until 2008, when becomes a Democrat. He's given to Republican candidates as recently as 2009. And then he challenges U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, who hails from the closest Florida has to a Democratic dynasty.

Who's the true Democrat in the U.S. Senate race? I am, says Greene, in a new mailing that features a picture of him and his wife at the Obama inauguration. He also makes Meek out to be a supporter of offshore oil drilling, even though he's not.