Thursday, April 29, 2010

Manatee's Sharff quits GOP position to support Crist

Paul Sharff, the Florida Republican Party’s committeeman for Manatee County, announced today that he was resigning his party position in order to support the independent candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Sharff on Wednesday told the Bradenton Herald he would resign because of his affinity for Crist.

Here is Sharff’s statement released Thursday:
To ALL the Voters of Manatee County
It is with mixed sadness and joy that I resign today as the Florida Republican State Committeeman for Manatee County.It is a sadness, as I have enjoyed being the hands on representative elected by the Manatee County Republican Voters almost 2 years ago, and it is a joy that I will now help elect the next Republican Senator from Florida running on the Independent Ticket, our Great Governor Charlie Crist. I took a loyalty oath that when elected the Republican Committeeman I would only support the Republican Candidate on the Republican Ballot in an Election. Although Governor Crist will still remain a Republican, he has announced today that he will run for the United States Senate on the Independent Ticket. Although this is a controversial decision for some, it is by far the best thing for the people of Florida. In these times of political unrest, the people of Florida need and deserve a representative in Washington that is not just all about politics. We need someone who is all about the people. That person is Charlie Crist. This is a new day in Florida Politics and this bold move will have a ripple down effect throughout our Great Country and I look to see many changes in the political landscape.

I have been a registered Republican since I was 18 years old, I have been an active member of the local Manatee County Republican Party for almost 20 years and served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Party for a decade. I will remain a Republican just as Charlie Crist will. Charlie Crist has been a champion for the elderly and children since he started his political career. Our State Legislature put our Governor in a no win situation last week when they sent The Education Bill to his office. The Governor vetoed the bill because it was the right thing to do. The bill had some good points, but had many more bad ones. Teachers and Educators deserve better than what was proposed. As we move forward with the Independent Campaign, I ask voters to look at the Governors Record. Some criticized the Governor for taking the Stimulus Money last year. I know firsthand of the economic problems that face all of us today. With a local unemployment rate that is one of the highest in the nation, I cannot imagine how much worse things would be here in Florida had the Governor not accepted these funds. Charlie Crist is a man of his word. He will be the Senator of the People and for the People.


Paul A. Sharff

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fox, Naked Politics blog say Crist is going independent

Reports say that Gov. Charlie Crist is telling key financial backers that he's running for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation. The announcement is scheduled for 5 p.m. in Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg. They're expecting a small army of media, and it looks like Crist may have no Republican press staffers with him.

-- Read more from Herald/Times reporter Adam Smith:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crist: I'll announce my political plans on Thursday

Gov. Charlie Crist this morning said he will end the guessing game about his political future on Thursday with an announcement on whether he will abandon the Republican Party and run for U.S. Senate as an independent. (The deadline for a decision is Friday.)

The Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog has video.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, who without a vote cast has knocked Crist from his once lofty perch on the state's political landscape and forced him to reconsider his party affiliation, took another step towards qualifying for the race.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Manatee elections office makes it easy to follow the campaign money

Want to know who is contributing how much money to which Manatee County commission candidate?

And how they are spending that money?

The Manatee County elections office makes it easy to track right from your computer.

With a few clicks of a mouse, you'll find a list of donors, amounts contributed, what they do for a living and how the candidates are spending the money to get elected.

That's how we compiled the numbers that served as the basis for the Page 1 story Sunday on contributions so far to candidates seeking one of three seats on the Manatee County commission in this year's election.

As of March 31 -- the end of the most recent quarterly reporting period -- eight candidates had raised a total of more than $225,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. (The total also includes loans some of the candidates have made to their respective campaigns.)

With a limit of $500 per contribution, the total given represents the political preferences of scores of local residents and businesses, as well as the support of interests from outside Manatee.

As for possible connections between the contribution and how the candidate will govern if they win, that's for you, the voter, to conclude.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Aranibar takes fundraising lead in school board race

Julie Aranibar has jumped out to a wide lead over her rivals for the District 3 seat on the Manatee school board, according to finance reports filed with the Manatee County elections office.

As of March 31, Aranibar had raised more than $13,400 in cash and in-kind contributions, and spent almost $3,100.

By comparison, incumbent Jane Pfeilsticker had raised only $450, and a second challenger, Albert Yusko, had raised $2,240.

Aranibar raised all but $100 of her contributions during the first quarter of 2010. Her donors included school board member Bob Gause, who has contributed $100.

The race has also drawn the interest of members of the county commission.

Commissioner Donna Hayes has contributed $100 to Yusko; and Commissioner Carol Whitmore has contributed $150 to Aranibar.

For more, including a complete list of donors for each candidate, go here.

The school board election is Aug. 24, and if no one receives more than half the votes, the runoff will be Nov. 2.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nelson: Chinese leader says he will look into drywall mess

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Tuesday was able to snare an audience with Chinese president Hu Jintao to bend his ear about the Chinese drywall crisis.

Here's a news release from Nelson's office:
When U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was at the Nuclear Security Summit here yesterday afternoon, he took the opportunity during one break to talk with Chinese President Hu Jintao about a less significant issue – but one important to and affecting many Floridians: drywall imported from China.

Nelson brought up the findings of the federal consumer product safety panel that a Chinese manufacturer sent tainted drywall to the U.S. that is now making homes uninhabitable, leaving thousands of homeowners not only in Florida but also around the country looking for answers and help.

President Hu through a translator pledged to investigate – to “look into it” immediately, Nelson said. “If we can get the top government official of China working on this,” Nelson said, “then that’s where we’re going to get the money to make these homeowners whole.”

Just last week, a judge in New Orleans awarded seven Virginia families $2.6 million in damages to pay for the removal of Chinese drywall. The decision could potentially affect thousands of other U.S. homeowners who have tainted drywall in their homes.

There are over 3,000 reported cases of toxic drywall in the U.S., with nearly 1,800 of these cases coming from the state of Florida. Nelson got involved because a lot of Chinese drywall was brought into Florida to repair homes after hurricanes hit the state hard in 2004 and 2005. Likewise, Louisiana and other Gulf coast states are seeing reports of the drywall because it was used in rebuilding after Katrina. Many of those states, including Florida, also underwent a huge housing boom in the past decade.

Nelson was the first to call for an investigation of the toxic drywall by the U.S. government, and he previously traveled to China to press officials there to help U.S. consumers. Yesterday marked the first time the matter was broached directly with President Hu.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rubio pulls out of Sarasota fundraiser

His father's illness has caused Marco Rubio to scrap several campaign-related events on Thursday -- include a fundraiser in Sarasota.

“Unfortunately, my father Mario Rubio has been diagnosed with a recurrence of lung cancer. This will require me to return to South Florida," Rubio said in a statement issued by his campaign.

“We are in the process of rescheduling some of the coming days’ events and look forward to continuing our conversation with voters in these communities in the near future.”

The Sarasota event, part of a 14-city bus tour by Rubio, had been scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Sarasota Yacht Club.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Greg Steube keeps fundraising lead

Greg Steube has maintained the fund-raising lead he established early on in the race for the District 67 seat in the Florida House of Representatives.

In the first three months of this year, Steube raised $26,555, bringing the total raised to more than $176,000, according to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections. After spending more than $26,000 in the first quarter of 2010, Steube had more than $129,000 in cash on hand.

Three other Republican candidates -- Jeremiah J. Guccione, Robert K. McCann and Marie Nisco -- have announced for the seat, but as of Monday afternoon Steube was the only one to have qualified for the Aug. 24 ballot by submitting the required number of petition signatures.

Incumber Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

The latest campaign finance reports, covering activity in the first three months of 2010, had been filed by all the campaigns, except for Guccione's, by Monday afternoon.

McCann reported raising $20,860 in contributions during the first quarter, bringing his total raised to more than $89,000; he also has loaned his campaign an additional $25,000. As of March 31, he had almost $40,000 in cash on hand.

This was the first time in the campaign that Nisco has filed a finance report. She reported no contributions or expenses, but did list a $300 loan from herself to the her campaign.

The lone Democrat in the race, Z.J. Hafeez, reported collecting more than $19,900 in cash and in-kind contributions. He spent almost $3,600, bring his cash on hand to almost $50,000 -- including a $10,000 loan from himself.

In another race of local interest, Republican Jim Boyd, the only candidate in the District 68 race, reported collecting more than $13,700 in cash and in-kind contributions, and spending almost $7,100. As of March 31, he had more than $72,000 in the bank -- including $12,500 in loans from himself.

District 68 incumbent Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

But Galvano has been busy raising money for his bid for the 21st Senate District seat now held by Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton.

In the first three months of 2010, Galvano raised almost $52,000, bringing his cash on hand to more than $168,000

To read the campaign finance reports, including the list of donors and itemized lists of expenses, go here.

Rubio to visit Sarasota for fundraiser

U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio - a darling of no less than Sarah Palin - will be in Sarasota later this week to pick up some cash for his campaign.

Rubio, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, is currently leading in most opinion polls in the race against Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican nomination for the seat now held by Sen. George Lemieux, who was appointed by Crist after Mel Martinez resigned.

On Thursday, Rubio is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser sponsored by Sarasota Volunteers for Marco Rubio at the Sarasota Yacht Club, 1100 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. The event will run from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

So far this year, Rubio has raised more than three times as much money as Crist for their respective campaigns. Rubio has reported raising $3.6 million, and Crist has raised $1.1 million.

Organizers are asking attendees at the Sarasota event to donate between $500 and $2,400 - the maximum allowed by federal election law during the primary campaign. For more information or to donate a smaller amount, contact Gale Wyman at (941) 312-6100 or

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Greg Steube first to win spot on ballot in District 67

There are still more than five months until the Republican primary, but Greg Steube has already won the race to be the first candidate for the state House District 67 seat to qualify for the ballot.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, Steube has submitted 1,623 verified petition signatures as of March 23 -- 126 more than required to win a spot on the ballot.

"Words are not enough to express the thanks and gratitude that I have for the many volunteers who have sacrificed their time and effort in gathering the necessary signed petitions for my name to be placed on the ballot," Steube said in a news release. "It is an example of the grassroots campaign and widespread support that exists throughout the district, and I will continue to work hard and provide real leadership to earn the support of the local community."

Only one other candidate in the race, Republican Robert K. McCann, has notified the Division of Elections that they would submit petition signatures to get on the ballot. As of March 22, he had submitted 1,024 verified signatures.

The required number of 1,623 is equal to 1 percent of the number of registered voters in House District 67, which is comprised of parts of Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties.

The other announced candidates in the race, Republicans Jeremiah J. Guccione and Marie Nisco, and Democrat Z.J. Hafeez, have not indicated they will win a ballot spot by submitting petitions.

(The District 67 incumbent, Ron Reagan, cannot run for re-election because of term limits.)

Candidates with a party affiliation can also qualify for a spot on the ballot by paying a fee of $1,781. 82, which is equal to 6 percent of the salary for state representative. Non-party-affiliated candidates can pay a fee of $1,187.88, which is equal to 4 percent of the salary.

The qualifying deadline is June 18. The primaries are on Aug. 24, and the general election is Nov. 2.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Castor to Obama: Don't drill off Florida

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, on Monday wrote to President Barack Obama to object to his administration's plans to open parts of the eastern of Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration.

(T)here are some places in our country that are too precious to drill," wrote Castor in a letter released by her office. "Florida's coastline certainly meets that description."

Castor, who represents portions of Manatee County, went on to describe how drilling off of Florida would not meet the administration's own criteria for new oil and gas exploration.

"I continue to support your efforts to stay focused on a balanced plan that includes renewables, solar, wind and conservation while promoting domestic production where benefits outweigh the risks. The objective, scientific data demonstrates that the risks of drilling certain (Outer Continental Shelf) areas far outweigh the rather dubious benefits," Castor wrote.

You can read the whole letter here.

Giluiani takes his revenge out on Charlie Crist

Rudy Giluiani hung his 2008 presidential bid on a strong showing in the Florida Republican primary. His campaign, however, was derailed by several factors - including Gov. Charlie Crist's endorsement of John McCain a few days before Republicans went to the polls.

On Monday, Giluiani finally got his payback against the governor when he endorsed Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination for Senate.

"This is an easy choice. Not just for Republicans but for Floridians. He is the one and only candidate we can trust to represent Republican principles in Washington,'' Giuliani said during a 20-minute speech in Coral Gables.

Giliuani finished a distant third in the 2008 primary, so it may be overstating it to conclude that Crist's non-endorsement doomed his candidacy. Or that it will give that much of an edge to Rubio.

But politicians have long memories, and when given a chance, like the one Giuliani had Monday, they aren't shy about taking out their revenge when they feel slighted.