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134 posts from October 2006

October 31, 2006

Michael Schiavo blasts Crist's debate claim that he took a stand on the issue

Among the viewers to last night's debate between Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis was Michael Schiavo, the Pinellas Park man whose right-to-die crusade for his wife Terri, made national headlines in 2003. He didn't like what he heard.

When moderator Chris Matthews asked what he thought of the way Gov. Jeb Bush handled the case, Crist replied that while he respects his governor "on this, I think it's important to stand up on issues you believe in yourself.'' When Matthews asked Crist if he stood up when Congress got involved, he said: "Yes I did'' and Davis snapped back: "No he didn't.''

Schiavo, who has endorsed Davis, said he was outraged when he saw Crist try to rewrite history in that way. He recalls Crist, the attorney general, "said nothing, did nothing and he avoided this case like the plague,'' he told the Herald. "He chose to stay away from it and let Gov. Bush's legal counsel handle it.''

Meanwhile,  when Congress began to get involved, Davis led the fight to stop him, Schiavo said. Davis "stood up and said, 'I object.' He brought it to the floor and brought everybody back to have a debate. He got it stopped.''

Davis has used the Schiavo case to point out that while Crist has criticized Davis for his poor attendance record in Congress -- airing television commercials that poke fun of him by showing an empty chair traveling through Washington -- Davis has been "standing up" for issues when Crist has been absent.

Brotherly love

With control of Congress up for grabs next week, Gov. Jeb Bush has joined the Republican chorus, charging that Democrats will raise taxes and go soft on terrorists.

Bush, in an e-mail sent out by the Republican National Committee, urges donors to either boost the party's get-out-the-vote effort with a contribution or volunteer to make calls to "voters in key states."

"In this fight we cannot afford to fall short - not by a single vote - or very soon we will see the consequences in a weaker war on terror and a future of guaranteed, automatic tax increases," Bush says in the e-mail, adding that his older brother, President Bush, is "absolutely committed to winning this election.

"With Congress on the line, it's time to stand side-by-side with our president and elect leaders he can work with to defend America,'' said the term-limited governor who enjoys considerably rosier job approval ratings than his older brother. "We won't allow this good man's presidency to be obstructed by a Democrat Congress with an agenda of anger and revenge."

Democrats hope to pick up at least three House seats in Florida in a bid to take control of the House.

October 30, 2006

Rate the debate

Just as we did last week during their first debate, we want to hear from you during and after tonight's debate between Charlie Crist and Jim Davis. Let us know if the candidates are answering the questions you want answered. Let us know what you think of their performance and whether they said anything that you agree with or disagree with. Joining the discussion will be Miami Herald reporter Gary Fineout, who like most other Floridians will be watching the debate on TV.

Parkinsons and politics

Appearing on CNN this afternoon, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno lauded actor Michael J. Fox for taping a television ad supporting embroynic stem cell research and a Democratic Missouri Senate candidate.

Reno, who like Fox has Parkinson's disease, said it was "important for Michael to get out on the table how Parkinson's affects people and what can be done to make a difference.

"We need a bipartisan solution to the stem cell funding issue,'' she said. "And we need to do it with proper science, not politics."

She said Fox was well within bounds to publicize his illness.

"Why shouldn't they be able to talk about it, why shouldn't they be able to say 'Look, this is my experience,' " she said.

Fox's appearance led radio show host Rush Limbaugh to suggest that Fox was exaggerating the effects of the disease, a contention Reno rejected.

"I think that anybody who said that should know a little bit more about Parkinson's,'' she said.

Reno, who lost the Democratic nominee for Florida governor in 2002, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1995 while she was serving the first of two terms as attorney general under former President Bill Clinton.

"We're so close to solving this problem," she said. "It is imperative from just good common sense and human compassion that we solve this problem now."

Run for office, see your clout plummet

Rep. Jim Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, is already getting battered for his voting record in Congress.

Now he's near the bottom of the pile when it comes to power, according to a new analysis that ranks power in the GOP-controlled Congress.

According to the study by the non-partisan research firm, Knowlegis, the Tampa congressman is ranked 432nd in the House - dropping 12 slots since last year, a finding attributed to his pursuit for a different office.

Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Sarasota, who is challenging Sen. Bill Nelson for re-election, took an even greater dive, falling 43 slots to 284th in the House.

But it's not like many members of the Florida delegation have that much to brag about. Despite the fact that it's the fourth-largest state in the country and boasts the third-largest number of Republicans in its delegation, Florida ranks 40th when it comes to clout.

Nelson, a Democrat, outranks his Republican counterpart, Sen. Mel Martinez, perhaps by dint of seniority. Nelson was elected in 2000; Martinez in 2004. Nelson ranked 75th in the Senate, Martinez ranked 87th.

Members were graded on several criteria, including position, influence and success at pushing legislation.

Florida's highest ranking House member was Rep. Bill Young, R-St. Petersburg, whose 11th place ranking in the House reflects his years in office and chairmanship of a House appropriations subcommittee. He was followed by Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, who ranked 62nd.

Rankings for every member of Congress can be found here: www.congress.org

Linn back in court

He's back. Reform Party candidate for governor Max Linn filed a lawsuit in a Hillsborough County court Friday demanding that he be allowed to participate in tonight's gubernatorial debate between Charlie Crist and Jim Davis. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled to be heard at 2 p.m. this afternoon. Linn, you may recall, filed a similar lawsuit in South Florida prior to last week's debate. A circuit court judge agreed that Linn should participate but an appeals court overruled the decision.

The prospect of Linn participating in the debate has fueled speculation that he would ask Crist if he is gay. Linn has maintained on several radio interviews that he and Crist discussed Crist being gay when they knew each other in Leadership Florida classes. Crist has repeatedly denied Linn's statements and maintains he is heterosexual.

Spreading the wealth

After months of incessant fundraising on his own behalf, Sen. Bill Nelson is working for other Democrats on the ticket.

Nelson's campaign today sent out a fundraising e-mail asking for donations to Democrat Christine Jennings who is locked in a competitive race with Republican Vern Buchanan for the seat that Rep. Katherine Harris gave up to challenge Nelson.

Democrats - who hope to take at least three Republican congressional seats in Florida in their quest to take over control of the House - suggest Harris' seat would be particularly satisfying. Several polls have suggested Jennings has more than a 10 point lead over Buchanan, who has self-financed much of his campaign and benefitted last week from a visit by President Bush.

"With one week to go, Christine is on the verge of winning Katherine Harris' House seat and securing a key win for the Democrats,' Nelson said in the e-mail.

Nelson goes 22-0

Sen. Bill Nelson's re-election bid has picked up 22 of 22 daily newspaper endorsements.

The last two came Sunday with backing from the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville and the Orlando Sentinel, which called Nelson a "practitioner of civility and bipartisanship when both are sorely lacking in Washington."

His Republican opponent, Rep. Katherine Harris, did pick up one endorsement: that of the Polk County Democrat, a twice weekly, that noted in the endorsement it was a "voice in the editorial wildnerness." Harris, born in Key West, grew up in Bartow, and the newspaper noted it has "watched with pride as she worked her way up the political system."

Nelson and Harris will hold their second and final debate at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Bense, Goodlette fly to Miami, pressure Arza

In a rare and high-stakes meeting, one of Florida's most powerful legislators and a top lieutenant flew to meet Rep. Ralph Arza at his Miami Lakes home Saturday and discussed whether he should resign for using a racial slur in mean-spirited phone calls placed to a colleague.

Neither House Speaker Allan Bense nor Rep. Dudley Goodlette could be reached to say whether they joined the bipartisan chorus calling for Arza's resignation, though numerous sources say Republican leaders want him gone to avoid shaming the chamber and embarrassing the GOP. Story here

Click here for a primer on the rise of Arza.

Broward Democrats get more pro-gun mail

Broward Democrats -- and who knows who else -- got more mail over the weekend from the Republican Party of Florida that rips Democrat Jim Davis' stance on gun control.  "That dog just won't hunt. Jim Davis would take away the rights of gun owners,'' says the mailer, which notes Davis got an "F" from the National Rifle Association.

That's a badge of honor among some Democrats. The state party had said the mailers weren't a mistake. If that's the case, the GOP's millions have addled its mail-targeting strategy.