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156 posts from December 2007

December 31, 2007

Giuliani: I don't need Iowa

As if his trip to Hialeah on Iowa's caucus day weren't enough, Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign just posted a strategy memo underscoring the Republican's need to win Florida and show well in New Hampshire.

"Florida accounts for more than 40% of all delegates allocated before February 5th and has almost twice as many delegates as the next largest state. It is therefore easy and correct to conclude that in a multiple candidate race, whichever candidate wins Florida, with their winner-take-all delegates, will very likely have a delegate lead going into February 5th....

"In Iowa, one could anticipate that Mayor Giuliani might finish outside of the top 3. Governors Huckabee and Romney are battling it out for first, Senator Thompson is spending a lot of time in the state over the closing days of the campaign and Senator McCain received a recent boost from the endorsement of the Des Moines Register. While placement in Iowa will be a focus of the media, it should be remembered that Senator McCain came in 5th place in Iowa (behind Bauer and Keyes) before winning New Hampshire."

Titled "Looking Good," the email puts a perhaps brighter face on some of the troubles and media-kvetchting the Giuliani campaign has encountered. The whole thing is here.

Who's going to make it to Jan. 29?

When Iowans gather in high school gyms, community centers and church basements in just three days, their decisions will kick start a chain reaction that will determine who wins one of the most unpredicatable presidential contests in decades.

''Think of it as a pinball machine,'' said Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown, who is tracking voters in states with early contests. "It bounces you off those different posts, and the angle at which you hit each post affects where you bounce after that.''

The corn-friendly Midwestern state has developed a reputation for narrowing the field with its first-in-the-nation caucuses. So, who needs the money, momentum and media coverage that an Iowa win would bring? And who could join the list of presidential "also-rans" by the time Florida's Jan. 29 primary rolls around?

Read more here.

December 29, 2007

Giuliani hearts Hialeah

Rudy Giuliani, who has campaigned in Hialeah enough to begin to qualify for residency, is to return next week for an afternoon rally at the Milander Auditorium on Palm Avenue.

Giuliani's visit comes Thursday - the day of the Iowa caucuses. But the former New York City mayor isn't playing much in the early primary states, instead staking hope on a big showing in Florida, which votes Jan. 29 - just days before "Super Duper Tuesday" on Feb. 5 when nearly two dozen states hold primaries, including the delegate-rich states of Illinois, New York, New Jersey and California.

Giuliani's campaign advisors say they expect him to take several of those states, buoyed by a boost from Florida, home to lots of former New Yorkers who still revere "America's Mayor" for pulling the city together after Sept. 11.

But critics suggest it's going to be tough for him to sustain momentum as other GOP'ers rack up wins in the early primary states. And Giuliani is facing a new challenge in Florida from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has picked up a number of endorsements from South Florida legislators. Giuliani just left Florida for Iowa on Friday -- and he's up in Florida with his first campaign ads in the state.

December 28, 2007

Giuliani just can't stay away from Florida

How much is Rudy Giuliani banking on a big Florida primary win? So much that the former New York City mayor will spend part of Iowa caucus day in the Sunshine State.

According to a campaign advisory, the GOP prez contender will spend Jan. 3 campaigning in New Hampshire and Florida. Giuliani just wrapped up a 3-day Florida campaign swing Friday.

Giuliani's campaign is hoping a decent showing in Florida on Jan. 29 will help propel him to victory on Feb. 5 when a number of delegate-rich states, including New York, Illinois, California and New Jersey hold their primaries.

Giuliani's once comfortable lead in Florida has fallen as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee rises in the polls. Both contenders battled this week in Florida for votes.

Pruitt congratulates Siplin on his aquittal

Senate President Ken Pruitt, who rebuffed calls to expel State Sen. Gary Siplin after his felony conviction, just issued this statement:

"The principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' is a basic premise of our judicial system. The Florida Senate relied upon this fundamental ideal as Senator Siplin’s case made its way through the process. Regardless of the outcome, I believed then that we needed to allow the system to work. Today’s opinion only confirms the importance of allowing the judicial process to run its full course.  I congratulate Senator Siplin on his acquittal and wish his family well as they recover from this difficult ordeal.”

Senate loses a convicted felon in its midst

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach has thrown out the felony grand theft conviction of State Sen. Gary Siplin, the Orlando Democrat convicted of using state employees to aid his 2004 reelection campaign.

Siplin was convicted of both a felony charge and an underlying misdemeanor. The court's ruling orders that Siplin be acquitted of the felony charge and gives state prosecutors the discretion to retry Siplin on the misdemeanor charges. In the ruling, the court states that prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Siplin knew that his legislative aide Naomi Cooper would continue to get paid by the state while she worked full time on his campaign. Because of double jeopardy, the court notes that Siplin cannot be retried on the felony grand theft conviction.

But the court says there is enough evidence to retry Siplin on charges that two other employees, Sarah Caraballo and Jose Bosque, did campaign related work during work hours. Siplin's lawyers tried to get this conviction thrown out on grounds that the law was unconstitutional.

The ruling by the court will bolster Siplin's efforts to keep his law license, and more importantly, remove the main pretext for possible removal by the Senate. Senate President Ken Pruitt had refused to act against Siplin pending his appeal. The grounds for Siplin's removal was that convicted felons lose their right to vote - and the right to be elected. Orange County election officials had already removed Siplin from the voting rolls.

I'll take your Jed Bartlet and raise you a Toby Ziegler

First there was Martin Sheen stumping for Bill Richardson. (See post below) Now comes Dem prez contender Joe Biden touting an endorsement from Richard Schiff, who played White House communications director Toby Ziegler to Sheen's President Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet.

Schiff will campaign with Biden in Iowa in advance of the Jan. 3 caucuses.

"The West Wing inspired its audience to seek the kind of presidential leadership that is based on experience, judgment, wisdom and conscience," Schiff said. "Iowa and America need Joe Biden because he is ready to lead from day one and in the high-stakes world we live in, there are no re-takes."

What do Bill Richardson and Janet Reno have in common?

An endorsement by Martin Sheen, the politically active actor who played the American president on the popular television series, The West Wing.

Sheen, who campaigned in South Florida for Reno during her failed 2002 bid to oust former Gov. Jeb Bush as governor, has endorsed the Democratic presidential hopeful and will campaign with him in Iowa in the runup to the Jan. 3 caucus.

"Bill Richardson has the proven record of success and the real-world experience that this country needs in our next President: he is ready for prime time," Sheen said.

Richardson, who has struggled to gain traction in a race that has revolved around Clinton, Obama and Edwards, despite a resume that includes two terms as New Mexico governor and stints as an ambassador, congressman and Clinton-era Cabinet member, said Sheen is "used to backing the underdog in the fight, and I am confident that his participation will put the exclamation point on my grassroots campaign and help me finish very strongly in Iowa.

"I am looking forward to Martin showing me around the White House," Richardson said. "And I hope that I can serve as many terms in the White House as his characters have."

A recent Bloomberg/LA Times poll pegged RIchardson at fourth place with support in the single digits in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

December 27, 2007

Surprise! Judge rejects Florida's request

U.S. Judge Stephan Mickle late Wednesday turned down Florida's request for a stay in the ongoing legal battle over the state's voter registration law, a decision that in effect keeps intact the injunction that the judge slapped last week against the state. Micke's injunction blocks the state from enforcing the "no match" law that requires information on a voter registration application to match information found in state or federal databases in order for a voter to be eligible to vote.

Mickle rejected arguments from state lawyers that the change in election laws so close to the Jan. 29th presidential primary would create voter confusion and chaos. Mickle said that the state had not presented enough evidence to show that a stay of his previous injunction order was "warranted" and he argued that election supervisors can still verify the identity of voters without the match. Read order here: Download order_denying_motion_to_stay.pdf

Last week Secretary of State Kurt Browning announced that the state would add roughly 14,000 voters to the state voting rolls even though the voters were initially deemed ineligible to vote because they did not meet the matching requirements.

(UPDATE: Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit - including former Florida Supreme Court Justice Rosemary Barkett -- have also turned down Florida's request to stay Mickle's injunction. But the appeals court did grant a motion to expedite the case, requiring all legal briefs to be filed by Jan. 14.)

Will holiday travelers help Charlie out on amendment?

Among the tidbits included in the latest filings by the Yes on 1 committee is this: More than $100,000 worth of in-kind donations from companies in the billboard business has been donated to the group pushing to pass the Jan. 29th constitutional amendment on property taxes.

This is an interesting outreach tactic. Given the holiday season, and the soon-to-come barrage of television ads from Republican candidates, those running the campaign - which include people who helped Gov. Charlie Crist get elected - have opted to put up billboards touting approval of the amendment. The key question is timing: Will these billboards be seen by those likely to vote on the amendment, or will they be the rush of holiday travelers who may not live in Florida?

Vivian Myrtetus said Thursday that the billboards should be going up as soon as next week in "high traffic" areas such as Interstate 4, Interstate 275 and Interstate 95. She said the billboards will feature Crist's picture as well as the address of the Yes on 1 website.

The more than $100,000 in donated advertising space comes on top of the $2.43 million that Yes on 1 and Crist, who has become the main person campaigning for the amendment, has raised in cash donations.

Besides the Florida Association of Realtors, which gave $1 million to kickstart the campaign, the big donors are Florida Power & Light, which has now given $500,000, Dwight Schar, a home builder who gave $100,000, Ashbritt Inc. gave $125,000 and tobacco executive and Fisher Island resident Bennett LeBow has given $50,000.