July 15, 2011

Mike Haridopolos loses tea-party straw vote in his own backyard

The bad news keeps coming for Florida Senate President and U.S. Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos. Yesterday, we learned his two top-level staffers were leaving his campaign. Now we get word he lost the Space Coast Tea Party straw poll.

The big winner: Adam Hasner, who's getting that tea-party buzz.

Straw polls by themselves are no biggie. But this is the backyard for the Merritt Island Republican. And straw polls they mean something. Just ask Charlie Crist when now-Sen. Marco Rubio parlayed straw-poll wins and tea-party appearances into what seemed like an improbable win in 2010.

The results: 

Who would you MOST like to be Florida’s U.S. Senator in 2012? 

Adam Hasner – 36 votes

Mike McCalister – 24 votes

George LeMieux – 12 votes

Mike Haridopolos – 5 votes

Undecided – 13 votes


Who would you LEAST like to be U.S. Senator in 2012?

Mike Haridopolos – 62 votes

George LeMieux – 7 votes

Adam Hasner – 1 vote

Mike McCalister – 1 vote

Undecided – 1 votes Bill Nelson – 1 vote


July 14, 2011

Mike Haridopolos's campaign says goodbye to spokesman, pollster

Earlier, we reported on likely staff changes at the campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos. Here's a statement from the Florida Senate President:

"Pat Bainter has been a longtime friend throughout my political career and that has not changed.  As a proud member of the Florida GOP and a state Senator, I know how important the 2012 elections are for state Senate campaigns and quite frankly Pat is the best at what he does and I know that his talent and expertise are needed to ensure that Republicans maintain and grow their majorities in the Florida Legislature. 

"As long time friends, we decided together that Pat should not continue to divide his focus between legislative races and my U.S. Senate race and I wish him continued success and friendship.

"Additionally, Tim Baker will also be seeking new opportunities and I thank him for his good work and wish him the best.

"I look forward to announcing the new additions to my campaign team in the near future and continuing the forward momentum of our bid for the U.S. Senate."

Said Baker in a written statement: "Pat and I agreed with Sen. Haridopolos some time ago that we needed to make some changes in the direction of the campaign, particularly in light of the coming legislative session. We feel we have laid the early groundwork for success and though Pat and I will be leaving the campaign, when we do, we will certainly be rooting for the Senator's continued success."

Shakeup alert: Another Mike Haridopolos staffer leaves, another to follow?

Mike Haridopolos' pollster and longtime political adviser Pat Bainter is winding down his role on Haridopolos' U.S. Senate campaign to focus more energy and attention on legislative races in the busy 2012 cycle, sources say. It was described to us less about problems on the Haridopolos campaign and more about the state GOP needing Bainter's full attention on the huge number of legislative races in a redistricting year.

But that explanation from a source doesn't quite add up when we talked to Sen. Don Gaetz, who's to succeed Haridopolos as Senate President and is in charge of the Senate Victory campaign effort to elect Republicans to his chamber.

Asked if he had spoken with Bainter about specifically working on any campaigns for Senate Victory, Gaetz said: “No. I’ve had very general discussions with Pat. I understood his first loyalty was with President Haridopolos. I don’t have a contract with him. I haven’t come to any agreement with him about how much time he has available. He’s one of the most successful political campaign managers in our state’s history, and if he can work for us that would be great.”

Gaetz was surprised with the word that Bainter might leave Haridopolos' campaign, but said he had heard nothing until he was called by a reporter.

Bainter and Haridopolos go way back so it's a major development that bodes badly for Haridopolos. It would be like George LeMieux leaving in the middle of Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign, Randy Nielsen (who might replace Bainter) dropping off of Jeff Atwater's campaign or Dave Beattie dropping off  Bill Nelson's. And it comes after Haridopolos' Florida Senate chief of staff and communications director left Haridopolos.

What's more there's considerable buzz that Tim Baker, Haridopolos' campaign manager, also is leaving the campaign. We asked Baker about that two hours ago, but he has had no comment so far. Haridopolos also has not responded to a request for comment. Bainter would not return calls, either.

The response (or lack of it) is odd. Florida is a state where Republicans have a good shot at winning, albeit Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is tough to beat. If reporters from two of the state's biggest and most influential newspapers call and send emails, wouldn't a major-league campaign muster some type of response?

--Adam Smith contributed substantially to (i.e., broke) the story

July 13, 2011

Hasner is an E-Verify fan -- but was his co-sponsored bill the first to pass?

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Adam Hasner and Mike Haridopolos have had their share of back and forth spats about who did more (or less) to promote E-Verify in Florida -- the federal electronic verification system to check if employees are illegal immigrants.

But in a recent debate, Hasner declared he "sponsored and was the co-sponsor of the only legislation that ever passed that had E-Verify provisions in it back in 2010 when I served in the Legislature." 

Was he really the first? Read PolitiFact to find out.

July 06, 2011

PPPoll: Ryan Medicare plan is a loser for GOP, winner for Dems (Haridopolos?)

From Public Policy Polling, which typically surveys for Democrats and liberal causes:

"If Democrats want to take back the House next year they're going to have to pick up some seats in Florida and there's good news for them on that front: right now Florida voters prefer the party by a 45-40 margin on the generic Congressional ballot over the Republicans.

Democrats have a registration advantage in the state and right now the party's voters are staying in line- the 82% of Democrats planning to vote Democratic for Congress is almost identical to the 81% of Republicans planning to vote Republican for Congress. That's a change from last year when GOP voters were a lot more unified around their party's candidates than Democrats were...

-One thing that may be helping Democrats in Florida, as it did in the special House election in New York in May, is that voters are opposed to Paul Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare. 40% say they're against his plan to 24% in support of it and 36% with no opinion. Independents split against it by a 42/25 margin, and Democrats (58%) are a lot more unified in their opposition to it than Republicans (43%) are in their support. This is definitely not going to be a winning issue for the GOP in Florida."

But it could be somewhat of a winning issue for Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, the only Republican in a crowded U.S. Senate candidate field who said he'd vote against the Ryan plan. If rank-and-file Republicans are no fan of the plan and his opposition doesn't cost him, Haridopolos has staked out relatively save territory to buck party leaders.

The PPP survey, though, shows that Florida is still socially conservative when it comes to gay marriage (an issue that's not on the ballot in 2012)

"-A majority of Florida voters still express opposition to gay marriage even as much of the country moves in support of it. 53% think it should be illegal to just 37% who think it should be permitted. There's a huge generational divide on the issue with voters under 45 thinking it should be legal but far outweighed by the 65% of seniors who don't think it should be.

Floridians may not be on board yet with full marriage rights for gay couples but 2/3rds do support some form of legal recognition for them. 33% support marriage and another 34% say civil unions are their first choice, with only 31% opposing any sort of rights for same sex couples."

More here

July 05, 2011

Mike Haridopolos narrowly misses the million-dollar man mark

The Mike Haridopolos campaign says it raised more than $900,000 in the last quarter. No cash-on-hand numbers are available yet. Campaign spokesman Tim Baker said they're very pleased with the haul, which comes on the heels of a big deput fundraising quarter that brought in $2.4-million. He noted that he held no fundraising events while the legislature was in session and has been focused mainly on grass roots campaigning since the session.

"We expect the other guys will beat us,'' Baker said, noting that George LeMieux has been tapping into his Washington network and Adam Hasner has received "gushing coverage" in the press and has been raising money for five months.

--Adam C. Smith

July 01, 2011

How Mike Haridopolos stands apart from the Senate candidate pack

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos is breaking with fellow Republican Senate candidates (and Washington partisan orthodoxy) to stand alone on two high-profile issues: The so-called Ryan Medicare plan and the draw-down of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Haridopolos said he would've voted no on the Ryan Medicare plan (albeit, after bumbling his answer). Republicans Adam Hasner, George LeMieux and Mike McCallister said they'd vote for it.

Yesterday, at a candidate forum, Haridopolos seemed to back President Obama's draw down of troops. His GOP opponents and Capitol Hill Republicans have criticized the draw-down saying it's too much too quickly and bucks the advice of the generals.

 “Our politicians need to let the generals win the war and they need to listen to them,” said McCalister, a former military man who boasts of being the only candidate to wear a service uniform. Drawing the support of LeMieux and Hasner, McCallister said it was a bad idea to set a date for troop withdrawals.

But Haridopolos said the troops should come home quickly.

"That has to be done because we are stretched thin at home,'' said the Merritt Island Republican, who later backpedaled and added that he did not support any timeline for withdrawing. "I think we need to look at home first.” 

Aside from separating himself from his opponents, Haridopolos' positions have another similarity: Both are popular positions that befit a candidate in a general election, rather than a partisan primary. Haridopolos will argue his positions make him more electable. Opponents will say it makes him a poll-tested "populist," which has became a slur in the GOP in the wake of Charlie Crist.

More here on that


Charlie Crist, the slur

He has been off the public stage for nearly seven months and yet Charlie Crist's shadow still looms over the Florida GOP.

The main Republican candidates for U.S. Senate held their first debate Thursday, and it sometimes felt like a game of who could sound most disdainful of the ex-governor.

"I never supported Charlie Crist in his U.S. Senate race despite a lot of pressure to do that,'' stressed state Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Former state Rep. Adam Hasner boasted that his antagonism to Crist was well known in Tallahassee.

Crist, who dropped out of the Republican Party while running for U.S. Senate, is never a great topic for former Sen. George LeMieux — he being Crist's former chief of staff, campaign manager and longtime friend. Running in a GOP primary where many staunch conservatives see Crist as a moderate traitor, LeMieux has to keep his distance from the man who appointed him to fill Mel Martinez's unexpired term in the Senate.

Adam C. Smith's story is here


June 27, 2011

The Dept. of Told ya So: Mack endorses Haridopolos

Confirmation of yesterday's report re: Connie Mack endorsing Mike Haridopolos. Here's the statement:

"For too long Bill Nelson’s liberal record has been at odds with Floridians.  From his support of ObamaCare, his opposition to tax cuts and his recent attempt to further bankrupt our state and federal government with his support of an unnecessary rail line, Bill Nelson can no longer be trusted with our tax dollars.  Mike Haridopolos has confronted the challenges of our day with a steadfast commitment to freedom, limited government, and fiscal responsibility and I am proud to stand with him to put Florida and our country back on a path of economic and job growth," said Rep. Mack. "I remember fondly Mike’s participation in the Freedom Caucus in Tallahassee and his watchful eye on the state budget as President of the Senate.  I ask all Florida Republicans today to join me in my support of Mike Haridopolos for the U.S. Senate," Rep. Mack concluded.

 "I'm proud to have earned the endorsement of Congressman Mack, as I greatly admire his dedication to being a strong champion for limited government and freedom, here and abroad," Haridopolos said. "He has been a leader in reforming government and promoting fiscal discipline both in Florida and Washington, D.C. I look forward to having Connie with me on the campaign trail."