August 24, 2011

Did McCalister join reserves to avoid Vietnam?

Despite his denunciations and push-back, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McCalister continues to face veterans questioning his military record. The latest comes in a release by the Stolen Valor Task Force, which says it is not backing any candidate in the race. Today they sent out this:

Former Army Captain Ed Maxwell, who served as an enlisted man prior to being commissioned and serving a 19 month combat tour in Vietnam was emphatic about McCalister’s claim of enlisted active duty service. “All of Mike McCalister’s enlisted service was limited to reserve component Active Duty for training going though his initial basic training, and attending 2 week training periods with his units. Only active duty performed in an active component unit, or as a member of a mobilized Guard or Reserve unit counted for veterans’ status during the Vietnam era. McCalister did not qualify for veterans status until 1992, after serving a 2 years as an ROTC instructor at Florida A&M University as a major.” Maxwell who is also a Vietnam Veterans organization leader, added: “I have had it with McCalister’s charges and innuendos against us. I can not conclusively prove Mike’s actual motives for initially joining the Guard in 1971, but I can offer some strong evidence to base conclusions on. The facts are that in 1971, Guard units were extremely unlikely to be activated and sent to Vietnam. Joining the Guard gained exemption from the draft. After 4 to 6 months of active duty, a Reservist or Guardsman returned to their communities as part-time soldiers and resumed their normal lives. During the draft lottery, Selective Service drafted young men who drew lottery numbers, based on birth dates. Mike McCalister’s number gave him a very high probability of being drafted, at about the same time he joined the Guard.”


We haven't received a response from the McCalister campaign yet, but the Plant City Republican briefly addressed his military experience in an August Political Connections interview on Bay News 9, when he still looked like the longest of long shots. The clip is above.

August 23, 2011

Bense backs Hasner

Former state House Speaker Allan Bense, a respected elder statesman in the Florida GOP who had been recruited to run for U,S. Senate, is throwing his support behind Adam Hasner. The Panama City businessman will be Hasner's statewide chairman.

"I've known both Adam and George throughout the years, and there's no doubt in my mind that Adam is the principled conservative that Florida Republicans should support," said Bense. "Adam has a long record of standing up for mainstream, conservative principles that no other candidate in this race can match. He's earned a reputation as a fighter and a straight-shooter who sticks to what he believes, no matter which way the political winds blow. I know he'll go to Washington and stand up to both parties when they stray from the common sense, limited-government reforms needed to turn our country around." "It's not enough to elect just any Republican next November. Our Party needs to nominate someone who can fight against the Obama-Nelson agenda and stand shoulder to shoulder with Marco Rubio in the United States Senate. Adam Hasner has the best track record of any candidate on cutting taxes, cutting spending, and fighting for the pro-growth economic policies that we need to create jobs and re-ignite the American economy."

Hasner: "I was proud to call Allan Bense Speaker and I have tremendous respect for him and his family. He was a role model to all of us who had the privilege to serve with him and I am honored to have earned his support for our campaign. During our time in the legislature we worked to advance Governor Jeb Bush's conservative reforms to improve education and grow Florida's economy. As a businessman and community leader, Speaker Bense will help spread our positive message of an American resurgence throughout Florida."

August 19, 2011

LeMieux and McCalister tag-teaming Hasner

If you like politics and you like conspiracy theories, you’ll enjoy this: Speculation that the George LeMieux and Mike McCalister campaigns are working hand in hand to take down former state House majority leader Adam Hasner.

Crazy? Or just crazy enough to work!?

Here are the facts: 1. Both the LeMieux campaign and Hasner campaigns see McCalister, a little known former Army Reserve Col. from Plant City, as bad news for Hasner as both Hasner and McCalister are campaigning for tea party votes.

2. McCalister often criticizes Hasner, but rarely LeMieux.

3. When a veterans group last week raised questions about McCalister’s military record, LeMieux leaped to his defense: "I denounce the unfounded attacks on the military service of Colonel Mike McCalister. The Colonel served our nation honorably in the United States military and he as well as all of our men and women in uniform deserve our gratitude and respect. Any campaign engaging in such baseless attacks should immediately apologize to Colonel McCalister and denounce these tactics."

4. The LeMieux campaign and McCalister campaign often sound like they’re reading from the same script when questioning Hasner’s conservative credentials. 5. LeMieux’s chief consultant, Jon Lerner, worked with the Club for Growth to help  Sharron Angle's U.S. senate race in Nevada last year. McCalkister consultant John Yob worked on Angles's campaign.

No, it doesn’t add up to anything solid, but it’s enough to make people suspicious.

"The voters of Florida can draw their own conclusions when campaigns begin to sing off the same hymnal,’’ said Hasner senior adviser Rick Wilson. "Its no surprise that Charlie Crist called George LeMieux "the maestro." As a political operative he was famous for orchestrating smear campaigns against people like Marco Rubio and setting up shady third party groups. It’s no surprise that George LeMieux would attempt to manipulate another campaign to do his dirty work."

The McCalister and LeMieux campaigns scoffed at the suggestion they’re coordinating - in very similar ways.

McCalister adviser Buzz Jacobs: "Adam Hasner is pretending to be a conservative, when in reality he is a self-proclaimed moderate. The only connection between the campaigns is disdain for chameleons."

LeMieux adviser Brian Seitchik: "It seems like the McCalister campaign has sniffed out that Hasner’s a phony conservative just like we have. We’re running our own campaign, they’re running their campaign."

Yob emails:

Although "I have great respect for Jon Lerner by reputation, in my memory I have not met, talked to, nor communicated with him in my life. "

August 08, 2011

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour backs George LeMieux

Mississipppi Governor and former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour is endorsing George LeMieux for U.S. Senate.

Gov. Barbour said, "George is a solid conservative who served the people of Florida well in the U.S. Senate. I am happy to lend my support to his campaign."

LeMieux statement:"I am honored to earn the support of a principled conservative like Haley Barbour. When Governor Barbour was RNC Chairman, he helped orchestrate the Republican Revolution in 1994 that built the type of conservative majorities we need to turn our country around," stated LeMieux. "More importantly, from his leadership during hurricane Katrina to his work passing key pro-life legislation, Governor Barbour is a case study in effective conservative governance."


August 04, 2011

McCalister tries to leverage top poll position into $15k

mccalister.jpgRepublican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McCalister wasted no time today jumping on news that he leads the pack of primary challengers hoping to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012.

In a "Dear Patriot" letter, McCalister sets a goal of raising $15,000 online. He also includes an "Interested Parties" memo from consultants Buzz Jacobs and John Yob.

"Now, the whole world knows what we’ve known all summer," the pair wrote. "Mike McCalister’s outsider message is resonating with conservatives throughout Florida."

Here's the letter: 

Continue reading "McCalister tries to leverage top poll position into $15k" »

Debt Ceiling Agreement Doesn't Help President's Approval Ratings in Florida

    President Barack Obama's approval ratings in Florida have dipped in the last two months.

In late May, more than half of Florida voters approved of President Obama's job performance. That's no longer the case.

Quinnipiac University surveyed two groups of Florida voters, one before Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling and the other after. The agreement to raise the nation's debt limit did little to change how Florida voters feel about the president.

WLRN Miami Herald reporter Gina Jordan has more on the poll numbers.





July 21, 2011

Tea party announces U.S. Senate debate

The Tea Party Network says it has confirmed most of the Republican U.S. Senate candidates for a Nov. 5 debate in Daytona Beach.

"The U.S. Senate debate is a very valuable event for patriots, activists and voters to see, first hand, the U.S. Senate candidates and what they stand for,” said Patricia Sullivan, chair of the Tea Party Network.

The group said it had confirmed the attendance of Mike McCalister, Adam Hasner, Craig Miller and Ron McNeil. An organizer said George LeMieux has also been invited.

The debate coincides with a tea party convention to be held Nov. 4-6 at the Volusia County Ocean Center. Gov. Scott is expected to attend, as well as "national conservative talk show hosts, according to an announcement.

Posted by Alex Leary


July 19, 2011

PolitiFact Florida: Did former CEO Craig Miller create over 40,000 jobs?

Former Ruth's Chris Steak House CEO Craig Miller, who jumped last week into the GOP race to take on Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., vows to "take on the career politicians."

He's running on his business credentials, which he says include creating over 40,000 jobs. He was a long-time restaurant exec, so it seemed more plausible than other big job creation claims we've checked.

PolitiFact Florida looked back nearly four decades. See how we ruled.

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 05, 2011

Will Weatherford on redistricting, 2012 and more

UPDATE: Weatherford endorsed former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

State Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, sat down for a wide-ranging, one-hour conversation with the St. Petersburg Times editorial board this morning. The future House speaker has a busy summer going as he chairs the House redistricting committee and attends public hearings across the state. He covered a number of hot topics. Here are the highlights:

The redisctricting process: "It's putting a very complicated pie together that involves a lot of testimony, it involves a lot of law, federal law, state law, constitutional state provisions, case law, I mean, it’s a lot. And I had no idea what this was going to entail when I asked to be chairman of this committee."

Where will FL's new congressional seats be? "The two new seats … that’s probably further down the road in fall. I can tell you the greatest population increases have been I-4-based, really pretty much from Tampa to Orlando, the southwest Florida corridor, down there in Collier, Lee county … and then in northeast Florida, kind of between Jacksonville and Orlando, along that Palm Coast, I-95 corridor. Those are the three that have had the most. So we have two congressional seats, obviously, not three. I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be those are the areas with the most population, they could potentially be where a seat goes."

Getting lobbied by current members of Congress? "Yeah, I’ve had them call, 'Hey, how’s it going Mr. Chairman, what’s happening?’ All the sudden I’m a pretty popular guy to people who didn’t know who I was. I give them the same speech I give our members, which is, ‘Do me a favor, have your people come to hearings, we’d love to hear from you if you want to give us your opinion. But don’t talk to me about where you live, don’t talk to me about what your political agenda is. Talk about the communities of interest in your district, talk about how it can be more compact, talk about how it can follow geographic boundaries better. If your comments are tailored toward the district and not you, it’s okay. But anything you say to me can and will be used.' "

Gov. Rick Scott's low approval rating a concern for 2012? "I’m not concerned about it. I think it’s early. Just like when Gov. (Charlie) Crist in … 2008 his numbers were through the roof, I mean, absolutely through the roof and he got walloped in the polls. To me, if my election hinges upon the popularity of the governor, then I’m probably not a very good legislator for my district."

Endorsing for Republican presidential primary? "I'm flirting. I’d be jumping the gun if I told you. I have narrowed it down and there’s a couple that I really like and one in particular that I’m leaning toward. I’m not going to share it today because I’ll probably be coming out with something pretty soon. We’ll see." (Could it be Jon Huntsman? The former Utah governor is making several Tampa Bay area stops this weekend, perfect for an endorsement.)

What about FL's primary? “I think the goal is to be as close as we possibly can, hopefully like the fifth slot, without penalty. So we’re negotiating with the RNC as to how we get that done. There may be a penalty anyway, no matter what we do. ... but playing devil’s advocate, as Florida, if we were to go into it and say, okay, we’ll take the penalty, we’re going to go the Thursday before Super Tuesday  … Let’s say they take away half of our delegates, they’re worth more than Iowa’s, New Hampshire’s and almost South Carolina’s combined.”

FL Senate race: Won't endorse before the Republican primary. Says all of the candidates are friends.

Asked if PSC was wronged: “Gov. (Charlie) Crist politicized the PSC. The PSC is supposed to be a quasi-judicial branch that is supposed to look at facts and figures and make a determination based on what is in front of them and what they know, not based on political pressure. Gov. Crist, who I still consider a friend of mine, he’s a nice guy, but he went out there and campaigned on lowering people’s rates, he was very consumer-friendly, he wanted to make sure that the PSC was always fighting back and not approving anything that he thought could potentially increase rates for consumers. Well that goes against what the whole PSC was supposed to be. The reason we created the PSC was to take politics out of the decision-making process and make it a judicial decision on facts. Gov. Crist was calling PSC commissioners and telling them how to vote, minutes before the vote, a couple years ago. And so he politicized it first and I think the reaction of the Legislature was to depoliticize it."

Open FL waters to oil exploration? "Not interested. We’ve had the debate. Not interested.”