Friday, August 26, 2011

Poll: Buchanan would lead GOP Senate primary

A new poll suggests he would be the frontrunner, but U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan told the Bradenton Herald this week he is inclined to stay in the U.S. House and not enter the race to be the Republican nominee who faces off against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

"I'm focused on what I'm doing," Buchanan said in an interview with editors at the Herald, referring especially to his seat as the only member from Florida on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Buchanan did not completely rule out running for the Senate, saying he would take a closer look at the race at the end of the year. Among the considerations, he admitted, would be whether he would be willing to exchange the prestige that comes with his spot on Ways and Means -- which allows Buchanan a voice on a wide range of issues from taxes to health care to trade -- for a minimal amount of seniority in the Senate.

Another consideration might be whether Buchanan thinks he can beat Nelson -- a prospect the poll results do not suggest.

In a possible head-to-head matchup, Nelson beat Buchanan 45 percent to 35 percent, with the remainder undecided.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On second thought, Jo Anne Klement decides not to run for Manatee commission

Reversing strong hinting that she was going to run for the District 5 seat on the Manatee County Commission, currently held by Donna Hayes, Jo Anne Klement announced this afternoon she won't be running.

Klement, the wife of former Bradenton Herald editorial page editor David Klement, had indicated interest in the race after Hayes announced she would not be running for re-election. So far, the only announced candidate in the race is Lakewood Ranch businesswoman and activist Vanessa Baugh.

Here is Klement's news release:
Long-time Manatee resident Jo Anne Klement is officially announcing she will NOT run for the Republican nomination for the Manatee County Commission, District 5, in the 2012 election.

“After great consideration and family consultations, I have decided to not pursue a political career,” Klement said. “I think my 38 years of residency in Manatee County, working in the non-profit sector, business and journalism would have been excellent preparation for that position but it is not to be.

“At this very difficult time in our local and national economy, Manatee County is at a critical juncture. The choices we select now will impact us for decades. The people making these decisions must possess experience and perspective in our county. This is not the time to entrust those decisions to people with unknown local track records,” Klement added.

“Our children and grandchildren will benefit or suffer from our decisions the rest of their lives. When we moved here in the ‘70s, this was a county of opportunity. This is one of the most beautiful areas in the country, and people want to live here. We can rebuild that successful era again. I am sure of it.

“I hope whomever is nominated will possess a broad and deep understanding of Manatee County.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Michele Bachmann set to appear at Sarasota rally

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is scheduled to appear at a rally in Sarasota on Sunday.

Go here for the details.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hillsborough commissioner to challenge Kathy Castor

 Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, a Republican, on Monday announced his bid to unseat Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, whose 11th Congressional District currently includes part of Manatee County.

The St. Petersburg Times' Buzz blog has the story:
Saying times of crisis are times of opportunity, Republican Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe announced his intention to challenge Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor in the 2012 election.

"We're in a moment of peril," Sharpe said at the Buddy Brew Coffee house in South Tampa Monday. "The country is in crisis. I feel a duty and obligation to help deal with this crisis."

In announcing, Sharpe, 51, will make his fourth bid for the District 11 House seat. In 1992, 1994 and 1996, he campaigned against long-time Democrat Sam Gibbons, and then Jim Davis when the seat became open. He came up short in each race for the district, which is centered around South and West Tampa and is tilted heavily toward registered Democratic voters. But he showed himself each time to be a capable money-raiser.
While political district boundaries have historically favored Democrats in District 11, state legislators will be redrawing Congressional district lines. That could result in a further concentration of Democratic voters or a dilution. The exercise may not be complete until early next year, and Sharpe said he will stay in the race no matter how the lines are redrawn.

Sharpe said he does not intend to step down as a commissioner, and the law does not require that he do so. His current term runs into 2014.
 Sharpe joins Republican Josh Kiernan in the race.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CFO Atwater says nation's debt rating downgrade should not affect Florida -- for now

From the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau:
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said the nation's lowered credit rating by Standard & Poor last week may cause "some pause" in the market place, but should not immediately effect Florida's own borrowing or investments.

"Florida was AAA before the downgrade, it's AAA today, and in fact the rating agencies just upgraded our longer term outlook," Atwater said. "So I don't believe that it's going to have an impact on our borrowing here in the state of Florida."

Atwater asked Ash Williams, executive director and chief investment officer of the State Board of Administration, to let the Cabinet and governor know "immediately" if he thought the state's investment portfolio needed adjustments in wake of the stock market shock.

The value of Florida's pension, which usually fluctuates, dropped by $10 billion last week, mostly likely as uneasiness over the battered global economy grew.

Here's how much Florida's pension fell since Aug. 1, according to SBA estimates.

Aug. 1 - $127.07 billion

Aug. 2 - $125.61 billion

Aug. 3 - $125.15 billion

Aug. 4 - $122.22 billion

Aug. 5 - $120.95 billion

Aug. 8 - $117.54 billion

The SBA receives a flurry of phone calls when the markets go down, said spokesman Dennis MacKee on Monday. He cautioned Floridians to remember the pension was as low as $83 billion in March 2009.

"We kind of remind them that markets go up and they go down, and if you're in it for the long haul you're generally in pretty good shape," MacKee said.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Democrats target Buchanan in new campaign

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be targeting Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Bradenton, in a nationwide "Accountability August" campaign.

It's part of the DCCC's "Drive for 25" campaign to win back the House of Representatives. Beginning Monday they'll target Buchanan and 43 Republicans across the country with radio ads, billboards, robocalls, and gas pump advertising.

The DCCC also will be targeting other Florida Republican congressmen: David Rivera of Miami, Steve Southerland of Panama City, Daniel Webster of Winter Garden, and Bill Young of St. Petersburg.

No Democrat has indicated they are prepared to challenge Buchanan in next year's election.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Buchanan wants debt 'super-committee' to meet in the 'Sunshine'

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Thursday he will introduce legislation that would require the Congress's budget-deficit-reducing "super-committee" be fully accessible to the public.

“Too much is at stake to allow this 12-member committee to make critical decisions about the country’s future behind closed doors,” Buchanan said in a statement. “We need to make sure this new committee meets in public as they discuss how to cut $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The public and the press have a right to see this process unfold.”

Buchanan said his bill would require that all hearings and meetings held by the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction "are done in a transparent manner," through live television broadcasts, advanced public notification, and public attendance." Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is sponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.

Congressional leaders have until Aug. 16 to appoint the members of the committee, and the panel will have until Nov. 23 to report to Congress with at least $1.2 trillion in budget reductions over 10 years. The House and Senate would then take an up-or-down vote on the whole package, with no chance to add amendments.

Buchanan's effort is similar to one he lead in 2009 to ensure to that deliberations on proposed health care reform be conducted in the open. His resolution then had 172 co-sponsors in the House.

After all, Buchanan said, that's how they do it in Florida.

“The State of Florida leads the nation with one of the toughest right-to-know laws in the country,” said Buchanan. “Florida’s strong Sunshine Law guards against back-room deals and secret negotiations by government officials. I urge congressional leaders to follow Florida’s lead and let sun shine on the joint committee.”