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13 posts from July 2006

July 31, 2006

Ringside seats in Poinciana: Gallagher v. Crist

Is Tom Gallagher ready to take the gloves off? Do you have ringside seats at the Polk County Republican candidates forum in Poinciana Tuesday?

In a written statement released late Monday, Gallagher sounded ready to spar with Republican opponent Charlie Crist over Crist's latest statements about gay adoptions. Crist told WINZ-AM radio host Jim Defede Friday that he hasn't "taken a position on gay adoptions'' and said that civil unions are "fine, but I support marriage between a man and a woman."

Gallagher, who has aggressively courted the religious right in his primary campaign, concluded those remarks are proof that Crist is "opening the door to gay adoptions in Florida.'' He then went on to say that he looks forward to discussing gay adoption and other "important issues facing our state''  at the Republican forum.

Schiavo's father blasts Crist

Terri Schiavo's father, Bob Schindler, claims in the conservative online magazine Human Events today that Attorney General Charlie Crist "let my daughter die'' when he failed to intervene to save Schindler's severely brain-damaged daughter from the court order that allowed her feeding tubes to be removed last year.

Schindler accuses Crist of violating his oath of office and refusing his family "lawful access to the assets of his office'' by failing to investigate claims of abuse of his daughter.

Crist said in a statement Monday he did not join Gov. Jeb Bush and the chorus of conservative Republicans seeking a legislative override of the court because he believes "that end-of-life decisions are ultimately best left to God and family'' and that "where there is a dispute, courts are the appropriate arbiters.''

But he did consult others, including his father, Dr. Charlie Crist, a family practice doctor in St. Petersburg.

Dr. Crist told the Miami Herald's Gary Fineout Monday that he read the publicly-available medical reports and brain scan of Schiavo and talked to his son. "I told him 'Charlie, I think this lady is brain dead. I don't think there's any hope for this lady'...How much that influenced him, I don't know.''

Dr. Crist said he understood the issue was "very emotional'' for Schindler and would not criticize him. But, he added, "Charlie's a good person. His instincts are moral and Christian.''

Gallagher wasn't first Dade Republican

Tom Gallagher's Spanish-language television ad, running in Miami since this weekend, takes a bit of license with history. It says Gallagher, who was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1974 in a special election, was "the first Republican representative from Miami.''

Actually, the honor of being first Republican state legislator from Miami since Reconstruction goes to John Cyril Malloy, a trademark and patent lawyer who was elected in 1972 and served one term in House District 113 as a Republican. He was elected in 1976 in District 118 and switched parties, to become a Democrat. That same year, he was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford to be a member of the National Highway Safety Committee.

Gallagher's campaign holds by its description.

"We strongly feel that Tom was the first Republican in Miami elected on a Republican platform,'' said Gallagher spokesman Alberto Martinez. "He served the delegation for nearly 10 years as the only Republican."

Skip got zip, but fix is coming

A paperwork gaffe kept Skip Campbell, the Fort Lauderdale state senator and Democratic candidate for state attorney general, from collecting $380,000 in state matching funds on Friday, but that's expected to be fixed today, his campaign manager says.

Florida's division of elections doled out more than $6.5 million Friday to nine other statewide candidates, including Campbell’s Republican rival, Bill McCollum.

Skip was the only candidate to get zip.

Jeff Garcia, Campbell’s campaign manager, says the campaign didn't properly document its request to the state for the matching funds. He takes the blame, saying he gave underlings poor direction on how to file.

The corrected paperwork will be filed today, Garcia says. Eligible candidates get a dollar-for-dollar match for individual contributions up to $250 made by Florida residents.

On Friday, McCollum snagged $507,000. That's on top of the approximately $1.1 million he’s raised from individuals and corporations.

Garcia says Campbell should see his $380,000 in matching funds delivered next week. He'll need it: Campbell has raised just under $900,000 so far.

Smith, Davis court gay voters

Gay-rights activists say the Democrats vying to replace Gov. Jeb Bush are not their dream team, but they are a lot more sympathetic to their cause than the Republican contenders. Read about it here.

Move over Hillary, here's Bundy

The clandestine group that mailed a flier morphing Republican state Sen. Alex Villalobos into Hillary Clinton has moved on to spookier personalities: serial killer Ted Bundy.

Pairing the killer’s pic with the West-Dade senator’s, the latest attack mailer from Citizens for Conservative Values flogs Villalobos for being soft on crime in light of his failed bill to require unanimous jury recommendations for death sentence. Bundy was executed after a 10-2 jury vote.

Villalobos, who has helped craft tough laws like the Jimmy Ryce Act, said the mailer misleads because Bundy would likely have been executed even if his Florida jury used the unanimous-approval standard – in place in the 37 other death-penalty states, such as Texas. Rather than deliberate until they reach a unanimous decision, Florida juries stop as soon as they reach a majority vote to recommend death.

Fighting off claims by challenger Frank Bolaños that he's not conservative enough, Villalobos also notes that Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, a conservative Jeb Bush appointee, had called for the legislation. The conservative attack group’s chairman couldn’t be reached.

Meantime, the Frank Bolaños camp is complaining about another secretive group, Tell the Public the Facts, which produced an earlier, rattlesnake-adorned flier linking Bolaños to the federal probe into campaign backer Sergio Pino. Bolaños supporters say they’ve received automated telephone calls from the group urging them to call Bolaños and demand he give up the "dirty money'' - even though there's no evidence of wrongdoing on Bolaños' part nor allegations that his campaign money is tainted.

What’s more: the phone number people are told to call is the cell of Bolaños' wife and, his supporters say, the number that popped up on their caller IDs made it appear that the call came from Bolaños’ own cell. Villalobos said he opposes the calls and the snakes mailer. Tell the Public’s chairman couldn’t be reached.

Voters can expect more robo-calls from yet another third-party group, Teachers United for Better Schools, which plans to echo its recent campaign mailer suggesting that Villalobos supports higher taxes because he voted with the teachers’ union to keep the expensive voter-approved class-size amendment that Gov. Jeb Bush has sought to derail since 2002, when he first made his doom-and-gloom predictions about its price tag only to get caught on tape saying he had “devious plans” to scuttle the law.

The class-cap mailer advocates the so-called “65 percent solution” that seeks to steer more money to class rooms – a measure that polls almost as well as the class-size amendment, according to some surveys. The proposal has been traced to Arizona, where one Republican political consultant noted it had the added benefit of splitting teacher’s unions.

The chairman of Teachers United, Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High teacher Ira Paul, says the teachers unions are “socialist.” Paul, a close ally of Bolaños backer Rep. Ralph Arza, said “Ralph’s not involved with this” mailer or the planned calls.

July 30, 2006

Gallagher and Smith struggle to get out of second place

With the Sept. 5 primary less than six weeks away, the presumed runner-ups in the governor's race have a lot of catching up to do and not much time to do it. But Republican Tom Gallagher and Democrat Rod Smith don't sound discouraged. Read about their comebacks plans.

Charlie at the gun show

Sales were brisk at Saturday's gun show at the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds, but Charlie Crist wasn't there to shop. After a stop in Hialeah, the state attorney general came to the show to promote his gun rights record and campaign for governor.

"Have you been to a gun show before?'' Crist asked a Miami Herald reporter. "It's rock 'em sock 'em!"

Crist said he has owned a 12-gauge Remington shotgun since he was a kid.

"No one will work harder to make sure your Second Amendment right is protected,'' he told the crowd browsing among countless racks of guns and ammunition.

Crist handed out "Sportsmen for Crist" bumper stickers, shook lots of hands and enjoyed some beef jerky and a cortadito.

The gun show's promoter, Victor Bean, said he was supporting Crist because  Republican rival Tom Gallagher once voted to ban assault weapons and track guns by serial number.

Bush won't go quietly

So far this election season, Gov. Jeb Bush has loomed large in the race to replace him. The two main Republicans vying in the Sept. 5 primary have constantly dropped his name and used his photo in their television ads.

And there are signs that Bush is looking forward to campaigning against the Democrats after the primary. "If they are looking for someone to compare and contrast and take on the forces of evil, I will be there,'' said Bush, who then quickly added: ``But the election will be about them, not me.''

Here's what else Bush had to say about his role in this election.

July 29, 2006

Tax dollars help fuel air war in governor’s race

Coming to a television near you: the race for governor.

Democrat Rod Smith and Republican Tom Gallagher became the first candidates for governor to launch television ads in the expensive South Florida media market this weekend, beating their primary opponents in the all-important air war. Smith’s ad was the first 30-second spot of his campaign and Gallagher’s Spanish-language ad was his fifth 30-second spot, but his first in Spanish and first in South Florida.

Gallagher's ad runs only in Miami and features U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. He will launch a second ad later in the week featuring the popular Ros-Lehtinen endorsing him, sources close to the campaign said.

Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist is expected to be next, launching his first South Florida television ad Monday. Democrat U.S. Rep. Jim Davis is holding his fire and has no plans for television next week, his campaign said.

The arrival of new ads into vote-rich Miami-Dade and Broward counties is no coincidence: all four of the leading candidates for governor received a hefty check last week from the taxpayers of Florida. The money came in the form of public campaign finance money, doled out to the candidates in a dollar-for-dollar match of every individual contribution they’ve raised up to $250 through June 30. More checks will follow as they raise more cash.

Here’s how the Division of Elections divided the taxpayer dollars: Crist received $1.8 million. Gallagher drew a $1.3 million check. Davis collected $932,000 and Smith received $823,000.