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210 posts from August 2011

August 31, 2011

Huntsman in single digits, while advisor John Weaver rakes in $217k and counting

While Jon Huntsman trumpeted a big jobs plan today, his homestate newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune, reported on even more lucrative work: For his campaign consultants. (Story is here).

Tops on the list is Jon Weaver, who took in nearly $217,000 from Huntsman's political action committee. That doesn't include the money Weaver has raked in from the campaign itself.

Weaver garnered a few bad headlines due to his bad temper, including this Miami Herald story earlier in August about Huntsman's struggles. We quoted Republican operative Roger Stone saying this at the time: "This is vintage John Weaver. He goes for the treasury misspends money and inevitably there’s a staff shakeup. If Jon Huntsman is smart, he’ll get rid of Weaver before he goes broke."

Since then, Huntsman has moved from single digits in a Florida poll to 0 in the latest Mason-Dixon survey, which has undecideds at 3 percent. Huntsman's campaign is nominally based in Florida.

Wife of Jim Greer touts TV report, says it will expose GOP "corruption, lies, crimes"

Last week, former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer's lawyers went on offense in his criminal case by deposing some top Republicans. Now, Greer's wife, Lisa Greer, is getting her shots in by promoting a show that she says will expose how her husband was set up (he'saccused of ripping off the party for $125k via a fake fundraising company).

Here's Mrs. Greer in her own words via a flurry of text messages:

"I sent this out to my friends tonight. Please visit www.wtsp.com at 11:00 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night for a hard-hitting, accurate investigative report months in the making that will finally expose how some of your most prominent elected officials, consultants and lobbyists orchestrated the takedown of an honorable chairman, husband and father to cover their own corruption, lies and crimes. This is just the beginning. Wait for the book...

"Jim and I were interviewed and the producers felt the media at large had ignored the injustice to our family while glossing over the real corruption within the party, some of its elected officials, lobbyists and consultants. Jim was merely the scapegoat due to him protecting Crist. Other reporters are now calling as the see what this really is. The biggest story is yet to unfold."

Well, we've got the popcorn.

Here's the first installment. Despite the hype of, though, there doesn't seem to be anything new here, save Greer going on record/camera.

Union pits Rick Perry vs. Rick Scott in Worst Governor Ever contest

The friendly rivalry between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Florida Gov. Rick Scott is well-known. But the Transport Workers Union of America is taking the competition to an extreme, pitting the two against each other in their contest for the title of Worst Governor Ever in this YouTube video, which shows a Scott impersonator voting for himself and then having a Skype chat with Perry. 

On its website calling for votes, the union calls out Scott for rejecting high speed rail money and taking 3 percent from state worker paychecks to offset retirement fund contributions. The union calls out Perry for cutting education funding and a voter ID law. Other candidates in the contest include Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, among others.  Voting ends Sept. 6.



Alan Levine, one of Gov. Rick Scott’s appointees to the Republican Executive Committee of the state party, listened in to the conference call where party Chairman Dave Bitner describe his struggles with ALS and his decision to quit his post later next month.

Levine described it in one word: “Heartbreaking.”

Levine said it was tough to think that Bitner, a hulking man with a bear-paw of a handshake and a warm demeanor, has had trouble walking and even talking at times. He said Bitner read much of his letter to state Republicans, but it was difficult for him to speak.

“David spoke briefly at the beginning but his voice was clearly very weak and he couldn't say very much.  He has clearly worked as hard and for as long as his health would let him.  The man has given it everything he has and I am so proud of him,” said Levine, a former hospital chief for former Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. “It sounded like he struggled through it….

“David worked so hard for so many people. I'd see him at functions where he was dripping with sweat because he’d spend the entire day helping a candidate.  And he got nothing in return....just wanted to help.  He really is an honorable man and I think he deserves that legacy,” Levine said. “And shame on the jerks he apparently trusted who took this moment away from him. He did not deserve that.”

Levine's last sentiment was a reflection of the fact that Bitner's pending announcement was first noted on the Shark Tank blog and then mentioned by the mainstream press and other bloggers. Asked who the "jerks" are, Levine said "I'm talking about the people internally that David trusted and then went and ran their mouths. I have no problem with the media reporting news.  I mean that is your job.  But it takes a special kind of ass for a trusted person to do this to David, who has earned the right to exit with the grace he deserves."

Fla. Dems react to RPOF chair's resignation

After Republican Party of Florida Chairman David Bitner announced his resignation Wednesday morning, his Democratic counterpart, Rod Smith, issued this statement:

"I have known Chairman Bitner for a number of years. While we often differ on our views, I have always respected him as a talented andable spokesman on behalf of his party. Party allegiance aside, we all wish Bitner the very best in the difficult days ahead. We pray God's grace is upon him and his family."

RPOF chair to resign Sept. 23

A letter from Dave Bitner to Republican Party of Florida members. Bitner, suffering from ALS, is stepping down as chairman and wants vice-chair Lenny Curry to succeed him.

My fellow Republicans,

When I disclosed a medical diagnosis that comes with tremendous challenges, you opened your hearts and have never wavered in your support. For myself and Wendy, I offer my heartfelt gratitude for those displays of love and kindness.

At the time I first discussed my health with you, I also made a promise that I would serve as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida only as long as I could do so with all the energy and attention this position deserves. I have kept that promise, and it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve you and my beloved Florida.  The position of Chairman was not my life’s ambition, but through prayer and faith I came to understand that it was another opportunity to serve my community.

Today, amidst speculation about my current capacity to serve as your Chairman, I wanted to update you. Whether out of malice or in the interest of political posturing, some who had been entrusted with my thoughts about the future shared that information with the media. Something I would never allow to happen on my watch is for the future of the RPOF to be called into question. So, today, after talking with my wife, my friends, and trusted advisors, I have decided to resign my position as Chairman effective Friday, September 23.

Pursuant to Article IX, section 2, of the Constitution of the Republican State Executive Committee of Florida, I hereby call a special meeting of the State Committee for the purpose of a special election.   Such special meeting shall be held on Friday, September 23 in Orlando, Florida at the Rosen Centre hotel.

In the days between now and that special election, I will continue to work with our Vice Chairman Lenny Curry to advance our Republican vision of making Florida a better place now and in the future. Since our election to Chairman and Vice Chairman, Lenny and I have worked side-by-side on every important RPOF initiative. Through it all, our Vice Chairman has shown the leadership and tenacity that makes our party such an effective political force.

These demonstrations of leadership and commitment to our Republican cause not only make Lenny a great Vice Chairman; they also make him the best qualified leader for our party moving forward to the 2012 elections. Therefore, I respectfully ask for your vote to make Lenny Curry the next Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Lenny is more than qualified to continue the work I have begun, and there is no need for the party to face a protracted race or divisive infighting. In fact, now is the time for us to come together and focus on moving our state and nation in the right direction.

In closing, I want to reiterate the joy I have had working with you. Now is a time when Wendy and I look to God for his grace and wisdom as we write my life’s next chapter.

In Hialeah, a mystery over campaign mirrors

It began as a classic Hialeah politics whodunit: Little mirrors were glued on some of Acting Mayor Carlos Hernandez’s campaign yard signs.

The mirrors prompted a rumor in the no-love-lost mayor’s race that Hernandez was trying to appeal to voters who practice Santería.

Or spiritism. Or some other potentially politically embarrassing sect.

Turns out it was none of the above.

The real culprit: Luis Lopez, a Hernandez supporter who owns Luis Glass & Windows. Lopez says he placed the mirrors on the signs to reflect sunlight and headlights, and draw attention to Hernandez’s candidacy.

“Even at night, the lights reflect,” Lopez said. Some of his mirrors are little triangles. Others are trapezoids or rectangles. He said he is working on a mirrored frame. (See a photo of one of the signs here.)

“I’ve seen his effort,” Lopez said of Hernandez. “I like him. He’s a lover of God, as I am.”

Hernandez — who described his first reaction to seeing the mirrors as, “Wow, it’s pretty cool” — said he had no idea how Santería and spiritism made it into the picture.

“Maybe you need to ask those people that are concerned about this,” he said, indirectly referring to his opponents, former state Sen. Rudy Garcia and former Mayor Raul Martinez.

Spiritists tend to believe that mirrors deflect evil influences or the evil eye, which is why they are often prominently featured in a home’s entrance, said prominent Santería priest Ernesto Pichardo of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye.

On the other hand, santeros are not big on mirrors: “They get covered so as not to reflect any shadow that could cause disequilibrium,” said Pichardo, lamenting that his faith would be mistaken with believing in spirits.

“People constantly confuse one thing with the other,” he said. “In Hialeah campaigns, historically, you see everything imaginable.”

RPOF chairman to address health issues in conference call, announce plans

State GOP spokesman Brian Hughes confirms that chairman Dave Bitner this afternoon will hold a conference call with the party's executive committee to discuss rumors and speculation about his health and status as chairman.

Hughes didn't say so, but this could be the first step toward a resignation by Bitner, who has been diagnosed with ALS, often called Lou Gehrig's disease. If he steps down, it would likely be just after the Presidency 5 straw poll/convention Sept. 24. There could be an election for him as soon as Sep. 25 

-- Adam C. Smith

Q Poll: Rick Perry tied with Barack Obama, who's in trouble

From a new Quinnipiac poll of the nation's voters:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has zoomed to the front of the line of GOP presidential candidates with a 24 - 18 percent lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among Republican voters, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Romney and President Barack Obama are in a dead heat while Perry trails the president by 3 points in 2012 matchups. 

Republicans and Democrats are tied 38 - 38 percent when the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey asks American voters who they would vote for in the 2012 races for U.S. Congress - the so-called "generic ballot." 

The percentage of all registered voters who say President Obama deserves a second term in the Oval Office has fallen to a negative 42 - 51 percent, matching a 41 - 50 percent all-time low reading on whether he deserves another four years in office from a March 30 survey. 

More here

August 30, 2011

Updated** RPOF spox blasts reports that chairman will soon resign

The Shark Tank blog confirms the word in Republican circles that Republican Party of Florida Chairman Dave Bitner will likely resign his post after the Sept. 24 RPOF straw poll. A former legislator, he was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease shortly after winning his post. Bitner's health has been badly deteriorating for months, and some wondered if he'd quit before that.

But RPOF spokesman Brian Hughes takes issue with the reports:

"David Bitner is the Chairman of the RPOF, and he is working everyday to advance the mission of our party. He has courageously and publicly discussed his ALS diagnosis, and yet he works everyday to make Florida better. These new reports about his future as the RPOF’s chairman are premature, factually inaccurate, and reek of the worst kind of political opportunism. People should spend less time gossiping about Chairman Bitner and more time admiring a man who displays principled leadership every single day."