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305 posts from August 2010

August 30, 2010

Cannon quietly conducts school for Republican candidates in House chambers

Rep. Dean Cannon, the Winter Park Republican who has been designated the next House speaker, organized a private little training session in Tallahassee last week for about 30 House Republican candidates who survived the primary. The event, hosted jointly by Cannon and the Republican Party of Florida, gave candidates a primer on campaign strategy -- including dealing with the media -- at RPOF headquarters, and then escorted them to the Capitol, where they heard a speech in the House chambers by Cannon.

His message: We've got a $6 billion budget hole so watch what you promise.

"I wanted to point out that campaigning as a fiscal conservative is easy and governing as a fiscal conservative is much harder than people appreciate,'' he recalled Monday. "A lot of Republicans have said this should be easy -- we just cut waste, fraud and abuse. Yes, we should, but that alone isn't enough to deal with the revenue and budgetary obligations of the state.''

The group also met Cannon's leadership team -- Reps. Will Weatherford, Chris Dorworth, Denise Grimsley, Carlos Lopez Cantera and Gary Aubuchon -- and attended a "Policy Fair" on the 22nd floor where they could ask questions of the staff directors of the House's policy committees. The use of non-partisan policy directors for a partisan event took the House Democratic office by surprise. So, when asked about it, they weren't kind.

"Given the shameful record of failure that Republican legislative leaders have to defend, it’s difficult to imagine what use would come from attending their political soiree,'' said Mark Hollis, the Democrat's spokesman.

All of this would have remained out of the limelight had Tallahassee Democrat reporter Bill Cotterell not stumbled upon the meeting while looking for a candidate and wrote about it. There was no public notice for the distinctly partisan event.

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Crist won't 'Meet the Press' with Rubio and Meek

Gov. Charlie Crist is not joining his rivals for the U.S. Senate, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek, this Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press.''

"The governor has long planned Labor Day events, when he'll be out talking to working families,'' said Crist spokesman Danny Kanner.

Crist has only accepted one debate invitation so far, on Oct. 24 in St. Petersburg. Rubio and Meek have agreed to four other debates, and the Meek campaign is trying to work out a scheduling glitch on one more.

Back in March, when Rubio declined a "Meet the Press" date because he had promised FOX News the first debate between him and Crist, the governor told The Palm Beach Post: "This is a guy who says he’s willing to stand up to Barack Obama, but he won’t sit down with David Gregory on Meet the Press? The hypocrisy and inconsistency from Marco Rubio is appalling.”

Sink launches audit of Tallahassee 'Taj Mahal'

CFO Alex Sink's office announced Monday she is conducting an audit of the new First District Court of Appeals construction,

Citing a St. Petersburg Times report, Sink wrote a letter to the Department of Management Services saying her team "reviewed invoices and other documentation that raise questions" about the project, dubbed the 'Taj Mahal.' Read more from Lucy Morgan here and Sink's full annoucement below.

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Sink rhetoric sounds similar to Chiles

From Alex Sink's letter today to Rick Scott calling for five televised debates: "A 30-second attack ad has never created a single job or improved the qualify of public education for a single child."

Kind of reminds us of a line from when Bud Chiles, the Democrat-turned-indy, announced he was entering the race back in June: "The head knocking between parties in Tallahassee has not added one job, or fixed one school or helped one kid to get health care."

Bondi names campaign team

Republican Pam Bondi named her campaign team as she transitions into the fight against Democrat Dan Gelber for attorney general. It's largely the same crew from her successful primary bid. Martin Garcia will serve as campaign manager in collaboration with consultant Brett Doster. Read the full roster below.

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Rick Scott: from outsider to King of the Insiders

Watching the passel of legislators fawn over Rick Scott this morning at the University Club in Tampa today, I couldn't help but think of the final scene in The Godfather when we know Michael Corleone's transformation into the Don is complete.

Mr. Outsider Rick Scott is now the Kingpin insider, schmoozing with legislative leaders and courting special interests and lobbyist money so he does not have to keep digging into his own pockets. Whether he can maintain his outsider persona while embracing Tallahassee insiders may determine whether he beats Alex Sink for governor.

"My job is to stay who I am,'' Scott said.

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Meek steps up finger-in-the-wind attacks on Crist

Locked in a battle with Gov. Charlie Crist over likely Democratic votes, U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek stepped up his attacks on the governor during a morning press conference in Tallahassee.

“When it comes down to the governor, I think Florida voters are going to really pay close attention because you don’t know where he stands on the issues,” Meek said. “You just can’t get by a United States Senate race just saying that you ‘love Florida.’”

Marco Rubio, the Republican former House speaker who has been leading some recent polls, was almost an afterthought. He was mostly mentioned in tandem with Crist as examples of two conservative peas in a pod.

Meek, a four-term congressman from Miami, underscored his point with a D.C. joke: “It’s going to be hard for the governor to master the Potomac two-step.”

Meek stressed that he is the underdog in the race but will “out work” his two opponents. “We will continue to move up and I know that Democrats will be with us.”

Sink letter to Scott: five debates

Democrat Alex Sink is challenging Rick Scott to accept five debates in the governor's race. She sent a formal letter Monday to the Republican's campaign. When asked Friday about the debates, Scott was noncommittal. The dates Sink is prepared to accept:

October 4th:   University of Florida in Gainesville

October 8th:    Univision (Spanish language) in Doral

October 14th:  PBS/League of Women Voters/Florida Hospital Association in Orlando

October 20th:  Leadership Florida and Florida Press Association in Davie

October 25th:  NBC Debate in West Palm Beach

Crist speaks on gay marriage, then campaign clarifies

Charlie Crist, an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, is once again clarifying his position on a major issue. This time it's gay marriage.

Here's what he told CNN on Sunday when asked whether he is still in favor or a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage:

CRIST: "I feel the same way, yes, because I feel that marriage is a sacred institution, if you will. But I do believe in tolerance. I'm a live and let live kind of guy, and while I feel that way about marriage, I think if partners want to have the opportunity to live together, I don't have a problem with that.

"And I think that's where most of America is. So I think that you know, you have to speak from the heart about these issues. They are very personal. They have a significant impact on an awful lot of people and the less the government is telling people what to do, the better off we're all going to be. But when it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution. I believe it is between a man and woman, but partners living together, I don't have a problem with."

But later Crist's campaign issued a statement clarifying his remarks: "I was not discussing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, which I do not support, but rather reaffirming my position regarding Florida's constitutional ban that I articulated while running for governor."

Dockery not interested in No. 2 slot

State Sen. Paula Dockery, widely seen as a strong contender to be Rick Scott's lieutenant governor, said she told Scott over dinner in Tampa last night that she's not interested. Her husband Doc Dockery, she said, has no interest in moving to Tallahassee (governor was different), and he's her top priority.

"I will have a pivotal role in his adminstration, but not as lieutenant governor," she said of Scott.