Friday, February 26, 2010

Dems hit Rubio with 'priceless' ad

Buchanan town hall on Saturday

If you are looking for a way to stay out of the cold on Saturday, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan may have a good idea for you.

Buchanan, R-Sarasota, on Saturday will hold a town hall meeting on jobs, the economy and health care at Braden River High School.

"This is the second in a series of town meetings Buchanan will hold throughout the district this year to give his constituents a chance to express their views on federal issues," a news release states.

The meeting will start at 11 a.m. at the Braden River High, 6545 S.R. 70 E., Bradenton.

Manatee Tea Party to host candidate forum

The Manatee County Tea Party on Sunday will host a candidate forum at Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton.

According to the group, at least seven local candidates will attend and have the chance introduce themselves and answer questions.

The forum will run from 4 to 6 p.m. Mixon Fruit Farms is located at 2712 26th Ave. E., Bradenton.

For more information, go to

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rubio fights back ... by asking for more money

Marco Rubio this morning woke up to perhaps the bleakest moment of his insurgent campaign for the U.S. Senate --- a newspaper report that he used an American Express card provided by the Republican Party of Florida to pay for personal expenses, including a $133.75 haircut.

Rubio, it appears, never left home without it.

The money Rubio spent wasn't taxpayers' dollars. But as a political entity, contributions to the RPOF, which were used to pay its credit card bills, are supposed to be used only to help Republicans get elected, not to look good or for other personal expenses.

But adhering to the notion that in politics you never let a good crisis go to waste, Rubio is fighting back by asking supporters to dig into their wallets to help fight off a "smear" attack orchestrated by none other than his rival for the GOP Senate nomination, Gov. Charlie Crist.

"Have you had enough of these desperate smears against Marco?" an e-mail from the Rubio campaign states. "If so, here’s what you can do: Send Charlie Crist a signal that you're not going to let him get away with it. Help Marco fight the smears. Donate today and help Marco fight back."

And yes, you can charge it.

For its part, the Crist campaign, which is as much as 18 points down in the polls, is relishing the chance to go on the offensive against Rubio.

“A clear pattern is emerging in Speaker Rubio’s unfortunate behavior," the Crist campaign said in a statement. "The lobbyist-politician whines and plays the victim while continuing to make every effort to hide the facts surrounding his personal financial gain while in office."

--- Marc R. Masferrer

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jeb Bush: Crist was wrong on stimulus

Former Gov. Jeb Bush has stayed officially neutral in the battle for the Republican Senate nomination between Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.

But when it comes to one of the major issues so far in the campaign - Crist's support for President Barack Obama's stimulus program, complete with awkward man-hug - Bush has taken a clear-cut position:

Crist was wrong.

The St. Petersburg Times' Adam Smith found the money quote in an interview Bush did with
Gov Crist is a talented guy. He's about the nicest person I ever met in politics. But there's one thing he's done that I just find unforgivable. That I'm aware of he is the only statewide political leader that embraced the stimulus package when Republicans were fighting to suggest an alternative. ... He did it the day before the vote, it was a mistake, and then he denies that he would have supported the bill. I know I'm supposed to be politically correct and I said I was neutral and all that (but) I got a problem with that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Buchanan to hold town hall meeting at Braden River High

EAST MANATEE – U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Florida, announced Monday that he will hold a town hall meeting on jobs, the economy and health care in East Manatee County Saturday.

“We need to create jobs and restore economic growth,” said Buchanan. “We also need to make health care more affordable without raising taxes or expanding government control. I want to listen to the people and get their ideas and suggestions.”

It will be the second in a series of town meetings Buchanan will hold throughout the district this year to give his constituents a chance to express their views on federal issues.

The meeting will be at 11 a.m. at Braden River High School, 6545 S.R. 70 E.

If you plan to attend, call (941) 951-6643 or (941) 747-9081 or go here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marco Rubio rocks the house at CPAC

U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio had the conservative faithful on their feet this morning during the opening of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., further elevating the candidacy of a politician who a year ago was the decided underdog in what was considered a David-vs.-Goliath challenge of Gov. Charlie Crist and the GOP establishment.

The Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON — Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio has risen from obscurity to become a darling of conservative Republicans nationally, exciting a crowd Thursday during his most important speech yet in his effort to defeat Gov. Charlie Crist.

Rubio received several standing ovations from more than 3,000 people gathered for the American Conservative Union Foundation's Conservative Political Action Conference as he criticized the country's Democratic leadership and called for more policies that benefit free enterprise.

His warm reception is the culmination of his rise since last summer — when he had little money and drove himself to small Republican gatherings around Florida amid pressure from the party establishment to give up on his Senate hopes. By contrast, Crist was raising nearly $13 for every $1 Rubio raised, had an enormous lead in the polls and was quickly endorsed by top Washington Republicans.

It's a different story now. On Thursday, Rubio was the keynote speaker at the what's considered the most important gathering of conservative activists in the country. People booed when Crist's name was mentioned. Crist was not at the conference.

The 2010 elections will be a referendum on "the very identity of our nation," and the politics of old won't work, Rubio said.

"A long list of early establishment endorsements will not spare you a primary, clever one-line slogans are not going to spare you the need to discuss policy issues in detail, and old, tired political attacks that worked once in the past aren't going to get you elected," Rubio said.

The month before they entered the race, a Quinnipiac poll showed 54 percent of Republican voters supported Crist compared with 8 percent for Rubio. Last month, a Quinnipiac poll showed 47 percent supported Rubio, while 44 percent supported Crist.

Rubio eliminated the lead with a message based on sticking to core Republican principles. He has also criticized Crist's support of the $787 billion federal stimulus package before Congress passed it. The image of Crist hugging Obama at a rally to promote the plan nearly every Washington Republican fought has been used repeatedly in the campaign.

While he didn't mention Crist by name, he distinguished himself from the governor who is known for working with Democrats.

"What people want are leaders who come here to Washington, D.C., and stand up to the big government agenda and not be coopted by it," Rubio said. "If the goal is not to fix America, but to change America, then they want leaders who are going to come up here and fight it every step of the way."
Learn more about CPAC here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The quotable Ann Coulter

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter undoubtedly will come out firing against liberals in government, the media and elsewhere when she is the keynote speaker at the Manatee County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday.

Over the years, she has sharpened her wit by using columns, books and television appearances to take on all perceived threats to America and her way of looking at the world.

A quick Google search revealed numerous sites that have compiled some of more incisive, more memorable quips and quotes. Here are a few from
"I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester. ... I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don't want to impose my moral values on others." --on the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller, FOX News interview, June 22, 2009

"We just want Jews to be perfected, as they say." --arguing that it would be better if we were all Christian

"If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women. It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it's the party of women and 'We'll pay for health care and tuition and day care -- and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?'"

"If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

"I'm more of a man than any liberal."

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much." -on 9/11 widows who have been critical of the Bush administration

"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee. That's just a joke, for you in the media."

"Liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole."

"There are a lot of bad republicans; there are no good democrats."

"We need to execute people like (John Walker Lindh) in order to physically intimidate liberals."

"Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots."

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."

"Liberals are stalwart defenders of civil liberties -- provided we're only talking about criminals."

"The New York Times editorial page is like a Ouija board that has only three answers, no matter what the question. The answers are: higher taxes, more restrictions on political speech and stricter gun control."

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

"Usually the nonsense liberals spout is kind of cute, but in wartime their instinctive idiocy is life-threatening."

"God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"

"Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

"I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo."

"We've finally given liberals a war against fundamentalism, and they don't want to fight it. They would, except it would put them on the same side as the United States."

"If John Kerry had a dollar for every time he bragged about serving in Vietnam -- oh wait, he does."

"Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the President."

"The swing voters -- I like to refer to them as the idiot voters because they don't have set philosophical principles. You're either a liberal or you're a conservative if you have an IQ above a toaster."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Report: Florida slow to spend stimulus dollars

So how has Florida benefited from the almost $7.7 billion in federal stimulus dollars delivered here in the year since President Barack Obama signed the measure into law?

Not much, according to the Orlando Sentinel:
Targeted for everything from road projects to teachers' salaries, green-energy programs to cancer research, the money was sent with orders to spend it as quickly as possible to put people to work and help lift the economy out of the recession.

But by the end of 2009, only 15 cents of every dollar sent to Florida had been spent, one of the lowest rates in the country, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of federal-stimulus-grant progress reports.

What's more, the money created or saved just 34,966 jobs. The bulk of them -- 30,647 full-time jobs -- were credited to the $5.5 billion of stimulus dollars administered by state government. But all but about 5,000 of them were teachers, counselors and other public-school employees targeted for layoffs.

Meanwhile, Florida's work force lost nearly 1.1 million jobs in 2009 -- and the unemployment rate increased from 9.4 percent to 11.8 percent.
Accompanying the story is a link to a database where you can search where exactly in the Sunshine State the money. There are enough disclaimers to make you wonder how complete the database is, but a quick search found that much of the money targeted, for example, forManatee County government had not been spent as of Dec. 31.

The Sentinel report jibes with a similar story by the Bradenton Herald's Duane Marsteller last week on how less than half of the Florida transportation projects slated for stimulus funding were actually under contract.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bradenton city clerk's duties expanded, but not his pay

BRADENTON — The City Council unanimously approved today a change in the job description and title for City Clerk Carl Callahan.

Callahan, whose duties as city clerk and treasurer remain the same, will now be responsible for overseeing all other city departments as chief of staff.

Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey said she wanted to make it clear to the public that these extra duties do not come with an increase in pay or extra staff for Callahan, as some of her constituents had questioned.

Councilman Gene Gallo said last week he wanted the changes because with reduced revenues and tightened budget, the city needed one person to make sure spending was under control in each department.

For a previous Bradenton Herald story on this proposal, read "Bradenton city clerk may get more power."

--- Carl Mario Nudi

Anti-drilling protest set for Manatee, Sarasota beaches

Anti-drilling demonstrators are expected to picket at beaches around the state - including in Manatee and Sarasota - on Saturday to protest proposals to allow expanded oil and gas drilling off Florida's coasts.

"Hands Across The Sand is devoted to protecting our coastline and waterways from the devastating environmental effects of oil exploration and support industries," according to the official Web site for the protest.

"This protest will bring thousands of Florida's citizens to our beaches and will draw metaphorical and actual lines in the sand; human lines in the sand against near shore oil drilling in our waters."

Among the local beaches expected to see protesters are Manatee County Beach on Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota.

The protests are scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Participants are asked to dress in black - the color of an oil spill - and hold hands for 10 minutes.

For more information about Hands Across the Sand, visit the group's Web site.

And more information about events in Manatee and Sarasota, visit this Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rubio, FOX News wait for Crist to decide on debate

FOX News has agreed to host a debate between Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio so Florida Republicans can decide who should be the party's nominee for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Naked Politics, the Miami Herald's political blog, reports that Rubio, the darling of many of the same conservatives who made FOX News Channel the No. 1 cable TV news network, has accepted an invite for a March 28 debate, so all that is needed now is for Crist to do the same.

The debate would be moderated by FOX's Chris Wallace, and take place either in Florida or in Washington, D.C.

"We've made no secret about our enthusiasm to debate Charlie Crist in this campaign so when FOX News proposed, we accepted,'' said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos.

Friday, February 5, 2010

McCollum fund-raiser set for Feb. 10

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum will be in Bradenton on Wednesday, Feb. 10, for a fund-raiser at the Riverview Boulevard home of Dr. George and Mary Thomas.

Organizers are asking for a minimum contribution of $100, and the maximum individuals or corporations can give is $500.

In addition to the Thomases, "event sponsors" for the reception include Bob and Aldona Beall; Randy and Lori Benderson; state Rep. Bill and Julie Galvano; and former state Sen. Pat and Charlene Neal.

The reception will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Thomases' home, 4610 Riverview Blvd., Bradenton.

To RSVP, call (941) 328-1112 or e-mail

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Court's campaign finance ruling won't affect local races

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling will allow corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to support their favored candidates for federal offices, like president and Congress, with TV ads and the like, while leaving in place prohibitions against them contributing directly to a candidate's campaign.

In politics, the Supreme Court ruled, money is speech - even when spent by a business - so under the First Amendment, you can't restrict it.

The ruling, however, should have no effect on Florida law, which already allows businesses and unions to directly contribute up to $500 per election to candidates for state and local offices, like the Legislature and county commissions. (They can also contribute additional amounts to political action committees that turn around and support candidates of their choice.)

To see the financial role companies, labor unions and the like can play in funding, look at the campaign finance reports filed by candidates for the Manatee County Commission this year.

Out of the more than $80,000 in contributions District 4 Republican candidate Robin DiSabatino - by far, the most prolific fund-raiser among candidates for the commission - had collected as of Dec. 31, almost $50,000 had come from land development firms, small businesses and other companies, according to reports filed with the county elections office.

That does not include contributions that business owners, executives, etc. and their families might have given in their own names. (Of DiSabatino's business contributions, $9,000 came from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch and other business entities with direct ties to the developer of Lakewood Ranch.)

By comparison, the second-biggest fund-raiser in the District 4 race, Norm Luppino had collected $511.75 in business contributions - with all but a single $100 donation coming in the form of in-kind services. Luppino, a former county planner, had collected more than $4,500 in contributions, as of Dec. 31, according to the elections office.

Another beneficiary of corporate giving has been Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who as of Dec. 31 had collected $35,600 in contributionsfor her re-election campaign for an at-large seat on the commission. Of that amount, more than $14,000 had come from donors listed as businesses on her disclosure report.

To see the list of DiSabatino's contributors, go here.

To see the list of Luppino's contributors, go here.

To see the list of Whitmore's contributors, go here.

And for information on other candidates for the commission and other local positions, go here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

G.W. Bush to speak at Southeastern University in March

If your answer is yes, you might want to buy a ticket - although it will cost you at least $800 - for the fourth annual National Leadership Forum at Southeastern University in Lakeland. Former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura will be the headline speakers at the March 10-12 event.

Seating is limited, but tickets are still available. Tickets start at $795 for the three-day forum.

The Forum is an innovative and creative approach to teaching the servant leadership concept not only in the academic community, but in the business and church communities as well," the program's Web site states. "Led by speakers who are among the most well-known leaders in America, the 2007, 2008, and 2009 sold-out Forums ignited the flame of servant leadership and challenged participants to expand their vision and build bigger dreams."

Ticket information is available at or(877) 367-8620. For a list of other speakers, go here.

Buchanan holds big fund-raising lead over Democratic challenger

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan ended 2009 with more than 100 times more money in his campaign account than his Democratic challenger in the 13th Congressional District, James T. Golden, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

As of Dec. 31, Buchanan, R-Saraosta, had $914,352 in cash on hand, compared to Golden's $8,372.

Buchanan last year raised more than $1.3 million in contributions, including more than $181,000 from political action committees and the rest from individuals. He spent more than $523,000, and was carrying more than $915,000 in debt.

Golden, a former member of the Bradenton City Council, raised a total of $61,033 in 2009 - all from individual contributors - and spent $52,661. He did not report any debt.

For a look at who has contributed to the campaigns, go here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Buchanan: Terror suspects shouldn't get trials in civilian courts

U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, discuss Buchanan's proposed bill that would require suspected terrorists to be tried in military courts. (Photo by Marc R. Masferrer/

With an airport baggage screening machine behind them, U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Tom Rooney gave a plug for Buchanan's proposal to require military, not civilian trials, for suspected terrorists.

"Terrorists with ties to known terror organizations such as al-Qaida should be tried by military tribunals, not our civilian court system," Buchanan said in a statement. "Al-Qaida is waging a war against America. Why would we want to treat an al-Qaida terrorist like an ordinary criminal?"

At a news conference at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, Buchanan, R-Sarasota, said the Christmas Day attempted bombing of an airliner near Detroit and the controversy over whether the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks should be tried in New York City highlight the difficulty in relying on the civilian justice system to prosecute suspected terrorists.

Rooney, R-Tequesta, a former Army lawyer whose district includes Charlotte County, has lent his support by co-sponsoring Buchanan's "Military Tribunals for Terrorists Act."

"As a former Army JAG officers, I fully believe the military tribunal system is a better venure to provide due process yet still provide protection the American people expect," Rooney said in Buchanan's statement. "This bill will go a long way to making our country a safer place."

Read the bill, here.

Report: Tampa on short list for 2012 GOP convention (UPDATED)

Tampa has made the list of final four cities being considered to host the Republican National Convention in 2012, according to the St. Petersburg Times' political blog.

No word on who the other finalists might be, but the Salt Lake Tribune reported over the weekend that Salt Lake City also is on the list. Other cities that were believed to have put in bids include Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Antonio, Houston and Indianapolis.

Holding the convention in Florida - albeit in the middle of hurricane season - might appeal to a Republican party looking to wrestle back the White House from Barack Obama.

Undoubtedly, Florida will again be a key battleground in the race.

But maybe not if a Sunshine State favorite launches a presidential bid in 2012.

UPDATED, 6 p.m. EST - Phoenix reportedly is also a finalist.

Prosecutor announces for judgeship

Thomas Krug

Veteran prosecutor Thomas Krug announced today that he running for a judgeship being vacated by Circuit Judge Robert Bennett, who is retiring. Krug is the first candidate to announce for four circuit court positions up for election this fall.

Krug, a former Notre Dame quarterback and a son-in-law of sportscaster Dick Vitale, is seeking the Group 11 seat for the 12th Judicial Circuit, which covers Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties. He has worked for several years as a prosecutor in the Sarasota County district attorney's office.

"I believe my background will serve the citizens of our area well," Krug said in a statement. "From quarterbacking the Notre Dame football team to coaching my son's Little League games, I have learned to lead and to give back to our community. From teaching and working with troubled young people in Teen Court to prosecuting sexual crimes against children, homicides and violent career criminals, I know the importance of giving people a second chance when they deserve it but understand the vital importance of protecting our community."

In making his announcement, Krug said he has been endorsed by several high-profile officials, including Public Defender Larry Eger, Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube, Sarasota Sheriff Thomas Knight, DeSoto Sheriff William Wise, former Manatee sheriff Charlie Wells and Krug's current boss, State Attorney Earl Moreland.

A backup quarterback at Notre Dame in the mid-1990s, Krug earned his law degree from Stetson University College of Law. He is married to Sherri Vitale-Krug, and the couple has three children.

Bennett, who hears cases in Sarasota County, has been on the bench since February 1992.

The other three circuit judges in the 12th Judicial Circuit whose terms expire later this year are: Diana Moreland, Scott Brownell and James Parker. No one has yet filed to run for those seats, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Judgeships in Florida are nonpartisan and candidates do not have a party affiliation.