November 13, 2008

How can the GOP attract more minorities?

“It’s not really complicated in my view,” Gov. Charlie Crist told a panel of peers at the Republican Governors Association. “You just are inclusive.

“I’ve appointed African-Americans that also happen to be Democrats to several of our agencies,” he added. “The idea is to lead and try to protect people and show them you care about that. If you show them that you really care by inclusion, it’s hard to have a counter argument that you don’t. It’s rewarding, and you can lead with grace.”

GOP governors and hurricanes

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, discussing how Republican governors can contribute to national politics, suggested that southern governors give the new administration recommendations on dealing with natural disasters.

"We know what we're doing. We do it very well," said Perry, specifically referencing Gov. Charlie Crist as well as the governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Governors could give suggestions on making FEMA a more effective agency and letting states do more after hurricanes, Perry added.

"Let us do more. That’s a message that we’d really like to penetrate into Washington with," he said. "Here's how we could save you a lot of money and we could make you look better to boot."

Recapping the race, Palin says she's disappointed but honored

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin urged governors to take on energy and health care reform as well as to lower taxes and spending in their states to lead the Republican Party outside of Washington D.C., since governors are able to take action, she said.

"We're not just one of many voting 'yay' or 'nay' or 'present,'" she said, taking a jab at President-elect Barack Obama and other legislators. "There is no 'present' button in our office."

On John McCain, who plucked her out of Alaska to become his vice-presidential nominee, Palin said she liked to tell his story on the campaign trail: "Things he could not say about himself because that’s just the kind of man that he is, so humble."

"The judgment of the majority is not for us to question now," she said of the election. "There was disappointment after a loss in a national election like that, because you run to win."

But she went home with good memories of the girls and special-needs families she tried to represent, she said. Palin mentioned -- who else? -- Joe the Plumber, who only got tepid applause, as well as the Colombian-born "Tito the Builder" who had recently obtained citizenship and owned a construction company.

"We are now the minority party, but let us resolve to not become the negative party," Palin said. "Losing an election does not have to mean losing our way."

Palin cracks jokes, thanks Bush and wishes Obama well

Starting her speech to the Republican Governors Association on "Looking to the Future: The GOP Transition," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took a cue from her appearance on Saturday Night Live, saying not much had changed in the year since the last conference.

"I had a baby. I did some traveling," she said. "I very briefly expanded my wardrobe. I made some speeches, I met some VIPs, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey."

Palin also thanked President Bush -- "The greatest measure of a president is whether he protected and defended this great country. He succeeded in keeping America safe from another attack," -- and wished President-elect Barack Obama well.

"If he governs with the skill and the grace and greatness of which he is capable, we’re going to be just fine," she said.

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.