Monday, July 27, 2009

Following the campaign money not entirely easy

If you want to know if your friends, neighbors or co-workers have contributed to the U.S. Senate campaigns of Marco Rubio or Kendrick Meek, it's rather easy. Click on the right links, and up pops the list of donors for Rubio and Meek as listed on their most recent campaign finance reports and then you can search by name, city, etc. to find what or whom you are looking for.

You'll have to work a little harder to find who has donated to Charlie Crist's campaign. There isn't a similar, searchable link to take you to a list of individual Crist donors. (However, there is a link to the list of political action committees that have contributed to his campaign.)

You can generate a 884-page copy of Crist's filing detailing almost $4.4 million in contributions. To then find out who has donated to the governor's campaign, all you will need is time and a strong pair of eyes.

But then making it as easy as possible for the public to find out who is funding his campaign for Senate may not be Crist's top priority.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Galvano: With health care, a little prevention goes a long way

State Rep. Bill Galvano can almost empathize with lawmakers in Washington trying to reform the nation's health care system.

The problem, says Galvano, is that it is a "system that has been created backwards," designed to respond, if that, to crises and catastrophes, and the expensive costs they bring, than in nipping potential problems at the earliest stages for the benefit of patients and taxpayers.

Over a chicken-fried steak lunch on Tuesday, Galavano, R-Bradenton told the Kiwanis Club he has tried to change the state's approach to health care, focusing more on prevention, especially for children, so that the little problems don't grow out of control. Galvano, in the Legislature since 2003, touted changes in the Medicaid funding formula, children's health care insurance, adoptions and an emergency room diversion program as examples of how Florida has tried to address health care-related challenges before they grow out of control.

Other topics Galvano addressed in his remarks included the federal economic stimulus program, the state's economic development efforts, his work negotiating a gambling compact with the Seminole Indian tribes and the state budget.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Buchanan: His constituents don't want Obama-care

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan went to the House floor this morning to deliver what he said is the 13th Congressional District's message on proposals to reform health care in the United States:

"My constituents don't want a one-size-fits all system where bureaucrats choose treatment and doctors. My constituents want to make their own choices," Buchanan said.

Buchanan said legislation currently working its way through Congress has "numerous challenges," including what he said is a 8 percent tax on small businesses.

"This is a job killer, not a job creator," Buchanan said.

Watch the speech, here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Buchanan: The campaign cash keeps coming in

Vern Buchanan

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today reported that his campaign has raised more than $900,000 in contributions during the first half of 2009.

At the same time, his only announced opponent, former Bradenton City Council member James T. Golden, a Democrat, said he had raised $26,000.

"Vern's message of smaller government, less spending, lower taxes and free enterprise is resonating with the voters of the 13th District," campaign spokesman Joe Gruters said in a news release. "People recognize that Vern is a businessman, not a career politician, who has created jobs, met payrolls and balanced budgets. And in this time of economic uncertainty, Vern's background and experience is exactly what's needed to help turn our state and country around."

The campaign said contributions during the second quarter, April-June, were $341,130 and that the campaign will report cash on hand - contributions minus expenses - in excess of $700,000 when it files its campaign finance report today with the Federal Elections Commission.

All the signs say former Bradenton councilman Golden is running for Congress

James T. Golden

He has filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission.

He has raised $26,000 for his campaign.

He even as a Web site.

But former Bradenton councilman James T. Golden is not ready yet to talk about his nascent campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.

Golden's campaign today issued a news release bragging about the contributions, as well as endorsements from local high-profile Democrats like former Florida First Lady Rhea Chiles, Manatee County Commission Chairwoman Gwen Brown and Sarasota City Commissioner Fredd Atkins.

Golden is the first candidate to file to run against Buchanan, who is expected to seek a third term. However, a campaign consultant, who asked not to be named, said Golden would not be doing any press interviews about the campaign, and that an official announcement would come later this year.

“This first (financial) report shows how eager the people of this district are for a change," Golden said in the news release. "I plan to officially declare my candidacy later this year."

Defeating a congressional incumbent is never easy, especially one like Buchanan who in two elections now has shown the ability and willingness to tap his personal wealth to run a campaign. As of the end of March, Buchanan had more than $522,000 in cash on hand in his campaign account.

Of course, anything is possible in politics; in neither of his two first campaigns, both against Christine Jennings, Buchanan did not win easily. But if Golden, who lost his last city council election in 2007 to challenger Harold Byrd, is to have a chance of knocking off Buchanan, he first has to start running.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Steube widens fund-raising lead

It's only money, and the Republican primary is still more than a year away, but if campaign finance reports are any indicator, Greg Steube has widened his lead in the race for District 67 seat in the Florida House.

Steube, son of Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube, collected $46,646 in contributions during the second quarter of this year, April through June, according to finance reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections. That brought his total haul so far to almost $108,000.

Steube, a Bradenton attorney, has spent a little more than $10,300, leaving him with just less than $100,000 in cash on hand.

The second-biggest fund raiser in the race, Robert K. McCann, collected $21,865 in contributions during the second quarter, bringing his total take to a little more than $52,600, according to campaign finance reports. McCann, a Lakewood Ranch attorney and businessman, has spent more than $13,000 on the race so far.

Next is Sarasota businessman Jeremiah Joseph Guccione, who raised $6,375 during the second quarter. He has raised a total of $26,660, and spent $3,000. He has narrowed some of the gap with Steube by loaning his campaign $50,000.

The fourth candidate in the race, Marie Nisco, a member of the Sarasota County charter review commission, has reported no financial activity by her campaign.

District 67 includes parts of Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties. Incumbent Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

So far, no Democrats have entered the race.

In other Manatee County races, Bradenton businessman Jim Boyd, a Republican, collected almost $32,000 in contributions during the second quarter, bringing his total to $46,825. He also has loaned his campaign $10,000, and spent more than $17,000. He is the only candidate so far in the race to replace District 68 Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

In District 55, which includes slivers of Manatee and Sarasota counties, Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, reported $5,500 in contributions during the second quarter, bringing his total to $11,800. He has spent just under $3,000 so far, according reports.

His Democratic challenger, Martha Allen, reported no financial activity by her campaign.

To review the reports, which include the names of donors, visit the Florida Division of Elections Web site, here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The latest polls ... ON VIDEO!

The sponsors of the Mason-Dixon polls on the Florida Senate and governor's race attempt to go viral with their presentation of the latest poll results.

And just in case you can't figure them out, they have spin-masters from the Democrats and the Republicans to give you their takes.

Slot machines at Miami airport?

Looking for cash wherever they can find it, Miami-Dade officials say they are hoping to use a loophole in state law to acquire a license that would allow slot machines at Miami International Airport.

Not so fast, says state Rep. Bill Galvano of Bradenton, the Florida House's point man on gambling during the most recent session.

The Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog reports:
Miami Dade County leaders are ready to pounce on a loophole in state law that allows slot machines at leased facilities that hold a quarterhorse permit as a cure for their financial woes at Miami International Airport.

Miami-Dade commissioners voted Tuesday to allow the county manager to immediately seek the permit that would give the county the ability to apply for a slot machine license from state officials. See Matt Haggman's story today.

But legislative leaders are urging caution. Rep. Bill Galvano, the House rules chairman who led negotiations over gambling legislation, warned that if the state finalizes the compact with the Seminole Tribe and the gambling bill becomes law, the loophole will close.

"What they're proposing to do, they could not do if our bill becomes law,'' Galvano told the Herald/Times. "If our bill becomes law, they're going to have to build a racetrack.''

The slots/quarterhorse loophole that allows anyone with a quarterhorse permit to lease a facility to operate slot machines was tucked into the 2008 law but it was closed by the legislation that passed this year. The 2009 legislation imposed the same requirements on quarterhorse tracks that thoroughbred tracks now have to meet. The closing of the loophole will take effect when a negotiated compact becomes law.

"If I were the commission, I would proceed with caution,'' Galvano said.