November 13, 2008

Palin: Republican governors can lead on energy, other issues

In her brief press conference Thursday morning, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin touted the work Republican governors can do to move the GOP forward.

"We don’t let obsessive, extreme partisanship get in the way of doing what's right," the former vice-presidential nominee said. "We have to balance our budgets -- it doesn’t matter who controls our legislatures."

She will focus on energy policy to propose ways to make Alaska and the country energy independent, she said.

"This group is going to be looked to, is going to be looked at, for leadership that perhaps has been lacking (in Washington)," she said. "Only we by working together can bring back the change that has been so desired by the American public."

Governors will have to focus on health care and immigration reform she said, as well as energy: "We want to reach out to the new administration and offer our assistance, our support offer solutions that I think will be sought."

November 12, 2008

'Drill, baby, drill' not enough, Pawlenty tells GOP

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told the Republican Governors Association luncheon Wednesday in Miami that getting party faithful to chant on drilling would not be enough to bring voters back to the GOP.

"Drill, baby, drill, by itself, is not an energy policy," said Pawlenty, who was thought to be on John McCain's short list for vice presidential nominees. "It's helpful. We need that, but we need a lot more than that. We're going to need it all," he added, referring to wind, solar and other alternative energy.

If applause is an indication, it was perhaps the best received part of Pawlenty's remarks among the crowd, still hurting from last week's Election Day loss.

Crist: Florida could be GOP 'model of success'

On his way to the first event of the Republican Governors of Florida two-day meeting in Miami, Gov. Charlie Crist said Florida-style "common-sense solutions" could help attract more people to the Republican Party.

"I would think that would be a great recipe...for the future of our party," he said, touting lower property insurance, lower property taxes ("although not as much as I would like") and the recent U.S. Sugar deal which Crist said would protect the environment.

"We need to reach out more as a party," he said -- although he skirted a question about whether that would mean less focus on hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage. "I don’t know if you move away from them," Crist said.

He also said future Republican leadership would come from states -- "That's where it is right now" -- and that it was "a little early" to say whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a contender for the 2012 presidential nomination.

"I think that's up to her to decide," Crist said before being whisked off to the governors luncheon.

After the luncheon, Palin was surrounded by reporters following a TV interview. She answered a few questions, calling Hispanic voters a "very, very important" that the GOP "didn't quite grasp" in last week's election. She also called anonymous aides from the John McCain campaign  who have criticized Palin as "cowardly."

October 16, 2008

Broward voter rolls cross one million mark

Voter-registration drives at barbershops and gun shows, celebrity appearances by pro athletes and TV stars, and a high-profile presidential election have put Broward County over the one-million-voter mark -- a total poised to affect races from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ballot in the state's Democratic stronghold.

Broward crossed the seven-figure threshold following last week's voter-registration cutoff for the Nov. 4 election, with county voter rolls hitting 1,005,706 voters as of Wednesday evening. Fueled by an increase in Democratic and Independent voter registrations, the county now joins Miami-Dade County as the only Florida counties with more than one million voters.

Political observers in both parties say that could help Broward Democrats counter the effect of Republican presidential votes typically cast in other parts of the state. And while registration is one thing and turnout another, if party affiliation continues to carry those voters down the ballot, it could make a difference in several hotly contested local elections -- like the race for Broward sheriff or several high-profile legislative races.

Technically, this isn't the first time Broward had passed the one million mark.

But five years ago when the county celebrated, the total had an asterisk attached. That's because former Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant didn't scrub inactive voters from the list as required by state law. As a result, ''that number was probably exaggerated,'' Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said.

The long-overdue purge of 67,000 voters in 2003 left Broward under the threshold it claimed to have passed earlier that year.

This time, most of the county's gains come from the Democrats. The party makes up more than half of Broward's registered voters.

Keep reading here.

July 28, 2008

Party vote: Bar scene used to get younger voters involved

The Hollywood nightclub is dark and the music so loud that conversation means leaning into an ear and shouting. But the drinks are free until midnight, and anyway most in the upstairs room of Passion nightclub are dancing, not talking.

Still, Chris Chiari, a Democratic candidate for the Florida House of Representatives, mingles in the crowd, drink in hand, campaigning. He shouts, by way of conversation: "This is real political action.''

This, to be exact, is Party Politics Inc. -- the latest, but not the first or only effort to engage 20-somethings in politics by appealing to their inner party animal. The idea is simple: host parties with a two-hour open bar about once a month at South Florida nightclubs. Post fliers at local colleges and send messages to friends on Facebook and MySpace.

The target audience: Generation Y, or Echo Boomers, or Millenials. Really, anyone born between 1980 and 1994.

Read more here.

July 14, 2008

Nelson: Bush is "cruelly misleading Americans"

No question where Sen. Bill Nelson stands on the question of rolling back the offshore drilling ban. He just sent out a release saying President Bush by lifting the offshore drilling ban is "cruelly misleading Americans for attempted political gain.

"He knows ruining our coastlines won't bring down gasoline prices nor solve our energy challenges," the Florida Democrat said. He notes that a recent administration report found that increasing offshore drilling "will have no impact on gas prices."

Nelson has pointed at oil speculators as the cause of rising prices and is pushing a bill that would ban all unregulated speculative trading in oil futures.

June 19, 2008

House Dems to oil companies: "Use it or Lose it"

Accused by Republicans of blocking efforts to find new sources of oil and gas, House Democrats today unveiled legislation they say will help lower gas prices by demanding that oil companies use what they say are 68 million acres of land onshore and offshore that they currently lease.

"Before we put Florida's economy and families at risk, I want to know why the major oil companies have yet to drill on more than 68 million acres of federal lands that are already under lease," said Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, a co-sponsor of the legislation and opponent of plans to lift a drilling ban off the coast.

The act would bar companies from obtaining any more leases until they demonstrate they are producing oil and gas, or developing the leases they already hold.

Republicans have scoffed at the measure, saying oil companies already have time limits to explore and tap leases. They held a dueling press conference of their own, poking fun at two of the Democrats' more liberal members who earlier this week raised the possiblity of the government controlling gas prices.

"Apparently," said Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow. "They went to the Hugo Chavez school of goverment enterprise."

April 26, 2008

Raul Martinez to help make Dems case

Democrats have picked Democratic congressional hopeful and former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez to help them make their case for relevancy next month in DC.

Democratic National Committee member Jon Ausman, who filed the appeal asking the national party to recognize Florida's Jan. 29 presidential primary, said he's asked Martinez, a Hillary Clinton supporter and Janee Murphy, a Barack Obama supporter from Tampa to help him make his case May 31 before the national party's rules and bylaws committee. Ausman, a onetime Dennis Kucinich supporter, is uncommitted.

The move is sure to boost Martinez's national profile as he challenges Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, for re-election. Ausman noted Martinez "has already raised a large treasury and is a very credible candidate."

More on the appeal here.

April 12, 2008

Garcia defends controversial fundraiser

Under fire for inviting an anti-embargo congressman to a campaign fundraiser, Democrat Joe Garcia is looking to turn the tables, assailing Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart for accepting campaign contributions from companies with ties to the Cuban government.

At a news conference, Garcia defended his campaign's decision to invite New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel to an April 21 fundraiser. Critics see Rangel as an ally to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez; Garcia says he's a powerful legislator who could help bring sorely-needed dollars to South Florida.

Diaz-Balart called the New York Democrat a "radical left wing extremist."

Read more here.

April 04, 2008

Miami's "battle of the titans" reaches the small screen

The looming matchup between Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and rival Democrat Raul Martinez has already been billed as a battle of the Cuban-American titans.

Now it's being paid fitting tribute in a mash-up video that lampoons the expected slugfest. The nearly 2-minute long YouTube video splices together interviews of the two combatative pols with movie clips, portraying them as brawling boxers, bawling babies, sharks and sequined ice skaters.

It ends with a shot of a track-suited Fidel Castro who notes in a phony voiceover, "The one who ends up winning is me."