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187 posts from August 2007

August 31, 2007

Richardson, Biden and Dodd: Good bye Florida, but we'll see you at the debate

Dem prez contenders Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have signed a pledge to not campaign in early primary states like Florida - but the pledge at least won't put the kibosh on the upcoming Univision debate at the University of Miami

That's because the Sept. 9 debate is within the 30 days the national Democratic party gave Florida officials to figure out whether they want to be spanked for moving up the presidential primary.

The pledge was written by Democratic officials in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina and is aimed at convincing candidates to stick to the Democratic National Committee's sanctioned primary and caucus schedule. Of course, the candidates will still be able to accept campaign contributions from Florida.

The Richardson campaign says its designed to prevent "chaos in the nominating process."

"This process is completely out of control and only an agreement by the candidates can restore sanity," the New Mexico governor said. "I hope no candidate tries to manipulate this situation for his or her own purposes."

Said Biden's campaign manager, Luis Navarro, a former Florida Democratic Party official, "We intend not only to sign the pledge, but to honor our pledge to Iowa, Nevada, New Hamsphire and South Carolina to respect their primacy in the process," said Navarro. "They played by the rules of the DNC. We respect those rules."

The public despises this kind of maneuvering for political advantage. If the Republicans want to play this way, let them. But we will not be a party to it."

According to the DNC rules, campaigning includes - though isn't limited to: "purchasing print, internet or electronic advertising....hiring campaign workers, opening an office, making public appearances, holding news conferences, coordinating volunteer activities, sending mail, other than fundraising requests that are also sent to potential donors in other states, using paid or volunteer phoners or automated calls to contact voters, sending emails or establishing a website specific to that state...attending events sponsored by state or local Democratic organizations...."

Whew. Pretty much covers it all. Except for accepting money.

Carrie Giddens, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, said the pledge is aimed at "showing respect for the calendar" and bringing "finality and predictability to the nominating calendar."

Florida can avoid the penalties by changing the official date of the primary - now sked for Jan. 29. Instead, national party officials say, Florida could move up its delegate selection to a party caucus held on Feb. 5

Sex and theft charge lead Giuliani event organizer to quit

An organizer for a Rudy Giuliani presidential event in St. Petersburg plans to step down amid revelations of his arrests for allegedly extorting an FSU student in a sex case and his conviction for dealing in stolen state computers.

Barry S. Edwards, 45, told The Miami Herald that the charges against him were "old news'' …- and were "unfounded' in the student sex case -- but he nevertheless thought it would be best to withdraw from the Pinellas County Republican Party fundraiser because "I'm not relevant and I shouldn't be the story.''

Edwards said he was not being paid for organizing the Sept. 7 Reagan Day dinner, and had no real connection to the campaign of Giuliani, who is to be the keynote speaker at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club.

Edwards, a former Democratic party worker, most recently worked for Tarpon Springs Republican Rep. Peter Nehr.

Full story here

Arrest reports: Download Extortion.pdf Download Theft.pdf

PIP Politics: Anti-PIP group says state is wrong

Floridians for Lower Insurance Costs, the insurance-backed group pushing to keep the Oct. 1 repeal of no-fault insurance intact, today issued its own legal analysis that contradicts one put out last week by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The group, whose members include State Farm and Allstate, says that motorists will have to carry proof of insurance and show it to police officers if they are pulled over for routine traffic stops. That's not the opinion of the state, which says it plans to tell law enforcement agents across the state that after Oct. 1 they cannot require a driver to show proof of insurance if the driver is pulled over. The state did say police could ask to see proof of insurance if they are investigating an accident.

"Law enforcement will continue to be able to enforce these laws after October 1,'' said Allison North Jones, a spokeswoman for Floridians for Lower Insurance Costs. (See full statement in comments.)

Gelber to Dean: retire circular firing squad

House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber pulls no punches as he joins the chorus of voices to the Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today with a sharply-worded letter that urges him to "retire the circular firing squad."

"The worse and most self-destructive scenario is one where we purposefully give Florida Republicans a competitive advantage in the 2008 election cycle,'' he writes.

He says "toe-tapping Republicans" are "imploding on the national stage'' but warns that Democrats are hurting themselves with the infighting. "Leave it to Democrats to create a distraction born out of a nuanced disagreement over some arcane party rule.''

Read the letter here: gelber_letter_to_dean.doc

Another corporate board for Jeb

Dow Jones reports today that Lehman Brothers has appointed Jeb Bush to its private equity advisory board in what is seen by some in the financial world as an attempt to influence Congress and the president as the company joins others in the fight over regulation of private equity issues.

This will be the second mega board that will seat the former Florida governor. Tenet Health Care announced in March it had named Bush to its board, paying him a hefty annual compensation of $450,000 a year. No word yet on how much the securities company is going to pay him.

Gelber joins anti-DNC fray

While Democratic party leaders have been arguing that they tried to stop the Republican-led Legislature from breaking party rules and moving up the presidential primary to Jan. 29, House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber has a confession to make: "Of course we didn't fight against the bill."

In a letter to Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, Gelber explains that Democratic lawmakers had little choice but to back a bill supported by voters and destined to become law.

"Today, toe-tapping Republicans with their excesses and over-reaching, are imploding on the national stage,'' Gelber wrote. "Leave it to Democrats to create a distraction born out of a nuanced disagreement over some arcane party rule."

Here's the letter: Download dan_gelber_letter_to_dnc_0831072.doc .

Pruitt hopeful but urges patience on tax cuts

In an op-ed distributed to several newspapers, Senate President Ken Pruitt is joining Gov. Charlie Crist and House Speaker Marco Rubio who used recent media events to lower expectations about property tax savings, and insurance rate cuts.

Writes Pruitt: "While the message may not be popular, it must be told: A turnaround in the real-estate market, lower insurance rates and lower property taxes are going to take time.

"Our state, like a trauma patient, was in crisis. Like a doctor, we needed to do everything we could to stop the bleeding before healing could take place. Florida will recover from the problems brought on by an economic downturn and natural disasters. The policies and changes that are in place have already yielded initial relief, and I am confident that the benefits will only increase.''

Read the op-ed here.

Martinez calls Craig incident "very troubling"

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, who leads the national Republican party, said in a telephone interview from Jordan that he'd wait to get back to Washington "to opine on his [Craig's] service.

"'But it's very disturbing, very much of concern,'' Martinez said of the senior senator who entered a guilty plea following a sting at an airport mens' room. ``As senators we are held to a higher standard and we should be.''

Read the increasing pressure on Craig to resign here.

And Martinez's own "disturbing" moment - his military plane was fired on after leaving Baghdad airport here.

Martinez and Miami Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek each spent about 22 hours in Iraq, meeting with the same military officials. But they came back with starkly different impressions.

Read those here

August 30, 2007

Martinez's plane is shot at in Iraq

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez says the C130 E wasn't hit and no one was hurt, but three rocket-propelled grenades were believed to be fired at it as it left Baghad airport, carrying Martinez and a congressional delegation.

The Republican and staunch backer of President Bush said the incident did little to shake his faith that Bush's troop surge is making progress in Iraq.

"It's isolated incidents," he said. "These people are out there trying to kill and maim, but that doesn't diminish in the least what are signs of military progress and political reconciliation."

More details to come.

Gelber cranks up money machine

On the eve of a proposed special session to cut millions from the state budget, Rep. Dan Gelber will be holding a fundraiser for his state Senate campaign. The fundraiser being hosted by Sen. Gwen Margolis will be held at the Governor's Club from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Gelber announced his plans to run for Margolis' seat earlier this summer.