Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mack to walk in U.S. Senate primary

Via the Miami Herald:

The dominoes are falling.
U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner will likely leave the race and run for Allen West's soon-to-be-vacated Congressional seat, a source tells us. West's seat looks a lot like Hasner's old legislative Delray Beach-based district.
Hasner's move makes sense on more levels than that. Rep. Connie Mack, of Fort Myers, is cruising in the U.S. Senate race, leading in the polls and, soon, fundraising. Hasner could have handled that.
But Hasner's campaign was dealt a death blow, of sorts, bythe presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, who stumped in the final days across Florida with Mack. Mack picked up precious TV time and the aura of the favored.
Meanwhile, to avoid a bloody primary, leadership in the U.S. House asked Hasner to run for West's seat. But first, West had to announce he'd leave his seat and run for Tom Rooney's seat. And before that happened, Rooney had to announce he'd leave his district and run for a new district.

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/#storylink=cpy

Yahoo News!: Newt Gingrich goon squad assaults Ron Paul supporter

Via the Miami Herald:

Ron Paul's campaign is demanding an apology for what looks like an assault, according to a report filed by Yahoo! News concerning a physical attack on Ron Paul supporter Eddie Dillard in Windermere:

Dillard, a 29-year-old Ron Paul supporter from this suburb near Orlando, arrived to vote at his precinct at Winderemere Baptist Church early Tuesday morning. Pulling into the parking lot, Dillard noticed a man outside the polling place with a Gingrich sign. He decided to run home, slip into his "Ron Paul Rocks America" T-shirt, grab a "Ron Paul 2012" sign from his garage, and return to give his candidate some representation outside the precinct after he cast his vote....
One of Gingrich's security agents stepped in front of him. When Dillard didn't budge, the agent lifted his heeled shoe over Dillard's bare foot and dug the back of it into his skin, twisting it side-to-side like he was stomping out a cigarette. Shocked, Dillard kept his ground and took a picture of the agent with his phone, which was quickly knocked out of his hand. Dillard slipped off his flip-flop to pick up the phone with his foot, and a Gingrich supporter kicked the sandal away.

"Don't kick me!" Dillard said to the man who knocked away his sandal. More members of Gingrich's security retinue approached, shoving their shoulders and chests in front of him.

"Just block him!" a Gingrich campaign aide said. "Everyone step on his toes!"

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/#storylink=cpy

Oh vey! Newt Gingrich kicks Mitt Romney right in the kishkes over kosher food veto

The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo reports:
The campaign of Newt Gingrich is robo-calling to bashing Mitt Romney for his veto of kosher nursing-home money in 2003.
This can only help Democrats, to the degree it's effective at all. No one's really sure how many Jewish voters there are, and it's a given that there are 1) few of them and 2) even fewer Republican Jews. And of those who will vote, it's a good bet to think this won't sway them too much.
Anyway, here's the alleged robo-call, according to the Huffington Post:**
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney vetoed a bill paying for kosher food for our seniors in nursing homes. Holocaust survivors, who for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher. Where is Mitt Romney's compassion for our seniors? Tuesday you can end Mitt Romney's hypocrisy on religious freedom, with a vote for Newt Gingrich. Paid for by Newt 2012.
Asked in Celebration today if he approved this, Gingrich wouldn't answer a reporter.
This was his last scheduled stop before awaiting returns in Orlando. He visited with a small crowd of residents on the manicured lawn outside the picture-perfect Heritage Hall. Ron Paul signs seemed to outnumber Gingrich signs, though a few were sporting Gingrich stickers.
He told one woman, "I need your help."
Spokesman RC Hammond told reporters that Gingrich intends to keep competing, across the board.
"The medias' picked front runner hasn't broken 50 percent yet," he said. "That leaves a lot of math out there for the conservative side of the party to pick up, which is how we'll stay competitive in the nomination. Which is why it will last late into the spring. because we will continue to bring in delegates, we will continue to bring in large amounts of support. As long as the tea party supporters keep coming our way, we're going to be able to do very well."

He also said of the campaign's FEC report -- says $5 million was raised from $250 contributors -- "We are a campaign of small donor donations," he said.
**incidentally, "kishkes" is yiddish and translates as guts.

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/#storylink=cpy

Newt Gingrich goes to Disney

McClatchy Newspapers' Lesley Clark reports:
Newt Gingrich's last scheduled stop before awaiting returns in Orlando was to a polling place in Disney's planned community of Celebration. He visited with a small crowd of residents on the manicured lawn outside the picture-perfect Heritage Hall. Ron Paul signs seemed to outnumber Gingrich signs, though a few were sporting Gingrich stickers. 
He told one woman, "I need your help." 
Spokesman RC Hammond told reporters that Gingrich intends to keep competing, across the board. 
"The media's picked front runner hasn't broken 50 percent yet," he said. "That leaves a lot of math out there for the conservative side of the party to pick up, which is how we'll stay competitive in the nomination. Which is why it will last late into the spring, because we will continue to bring in delegates, we will continue to bring in large amounts of support. As long as the tea party supporters keep coming our way, we're going to be able to do very well." 
He also said of the campaign's FEC report. which says $5 million was raised from $250 contributors: "We are a campaign of small donor donations," he said.

Voters have the final say in Florida Republican primary

The polls and the pundits can say whatever they want but in the end, the only thing that matters in an election is what the voters say.

Today in Manatee County and across the state, and after 10 days of a campaign that went into their homes via their televisions and their telephones, Republicans are having the final say in campaign for the Florida's 50 presidential nominating delegates.

This morning, and throughout the day, Bradenton Herald reporters have been talking with voters to see what they think.

Here is the story so far:

MANATEE -- Manatee County Republicans are headed to the polls today to cast their ballots in the GOP presidential primary. 
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, a Bradenton dentist, voted at the Christ Episcopal Church precinct this morning. 
He voted for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. 
"I think we need a businessman," Thompson said. 
Top concerns for Thompson were education -- he is the father of four -- and healthcare, being a healthcare provider. 
Also voting at Christ Episcopal Church was Ron Koval, who declined to say who he voted for. 
"It's secret ballot," Koval said, but added that he voted for the candidate he thought would continue to the end of the election campaign and win the presidency. 
Voting was steady throughout the morning at the precinct, but there were no lines. 
Polls will be open until 7 p.m. at 117 polling places, according to Bob Sweat, Manatee’s supervisor of elections. 
Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, anticipating a long county commission workshop meeting this morning, said she took advantage of early voting last week. 
"It was a breeze," she said, adding, "My husband did it, too." 
Early voting ended Saturday. 
DiSabatino said she missed going to her regular voting place, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 7461 Prospect Road. 
"I do like going to my precinct," she said. "I like to be involved." 
About 1,100 poll workers are on the job. 
Many Manatee County residents have already voted, either during early voting days that lasted through Jan. 28, or via absentee ballot. 
About 2,211 voted early, and a little over 10,000 voters as of Monday had made their choice with an absentee ballot, Sweat said. 
“We’re still getting those in, but right now, we have a little over 10,000,” he said late Monday.“We’ll get more mail this afternoon, and twice tomorrow,” he added.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/01/31/v-print/3832885/republican-presidential-primary.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, January 30, 2012

Crowd gathers for Newt Gingrich rally in Fort Myers

Richard Dymond reports from a Newt Gingrich rally in Fort Myers this afternoon:


Jim and Rosie Murphy, from Plano, Texas, arrived at 12:30 pm Monday to grab a front row seat for the Newt Gingrich rally in Fort Myers.

The Murphys are fervent Gingrich fans and were the first people to arrive today for the rally at a local airport.

"Newt is the only one who can get on stage and debate the president," Rosie Murphy said. "Barack Obama is a smart man, but Newt isn't afraid of anything."

Read about Gingrich's appearance at an earlier rally in Tampa, here.

Follow Richard Dymond's coverage of rally on Twitter @RichardDymond.

New poll shows Mitt Romney with 20-point lead

Here's the news release:

BOSTON – Republican hopeful Mitt Romney has opened up a 20-point lead in the final days leading up to the Republican primary in Florida, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll of likely Republican primary voters in Florida.
Romney led Newt Gingrich 47 percent to 27 percent, while Rick Santorum got 12 percent and Ron Paul finished fourth with 9 percent.  Five percent were undecided.
“It is almost certain that Mitt Romney will top his 39 percent showing in New Hampshire,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “This poll also tells us that Romney could reverse and exceed Newt Gingrich’s percentage and margin in South Carolina – and do it in Gingrich’s backyard.”
Romney led Gingrich 55 percent to 24 percent among those voters who indicated that they had already voted, and he led 56 percent to 23 percent among Hispanic voters.
"If Mitt Romney hits a historic benchmark in this election, he has Hispanic voters to thank,” said Paleologos.
Romney was seen as the candidate who can fix the economy by 50 percent of respondents, compared to 23 percent who expressed confidence that Gingrich could fulfill that role.
Voters disagreed with Gingrich’s claim that Mitt Romney was carpet bombing him with negative TV ads; 37 percent of likely Republican voters said Gingrich ran the most negative campaign, while 31 percent said Romney.
November predictions
Most loyal Republican voters expressed some skepticism about a GOP win in November. Regardless of who they personally support in the primary, 45 percent said they believe Romney will be the next president, while 21 percent said President Barack Obama and 15 percent predicted a Gingrich win.
In a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) survey of general election voters fielded before Obama’s state of the union address, Romney led Obama in Florida by 5 points, 47 percent to 42 percent.
A majority of likely Republican primary voters (55 percent) are satisfied with the field of candidates, while 39 percent were dissatisfied. Fifty-four percent don’t want another candidate to jump in at this point.
Three separate Florida Republican presidential primary bellwether counties also indicate a Romney romp. In both Martin and Volusia counties, Romney topped Gingrich 52 percent to 24 percent, and in Sarasota County, Romney bested Gingrich 45 percent to 21 percent.
“When you see numbers like these, Romney is actually flirting with a fifty percent threshold, which would be devastating to his opponents given how difficult it is to get to that threshold in a multi-candidate field,” said Paleologos.
There are nine candidates listed on the Florida ballot.
In the 2008 Republican primary, Martin, Sarasota and Volusia counties reflected the state’s 1-2-3 order of finish and were within 4 points of the percentage of the vote taken by John McCain, Romney and Rudy Giuliani. The same held true for candidates Bob Dole, Steve Forbes and Patrick Buchanan in 1996, the last year that Florida Republicans cast a GOP presidential primary ballot with a Democratic president in office.
Bellwethers are designed to predict outcomes – not margins. Over the past three election cycles, bellwethers have correctly predicted outcomes in more than 90 percent of trials. In the instances where three out of three bellwethers have agreed on the same candidate winning, bellwethers have been 100 percent accurate.
In January 2008 Suffolk University’s statewide poll forecast that John McCain would win Florida’s Republican presidential primary by 3 points; McCain won by 5 points. In addition, the 2008 bellwether of Florida’s Hillsborough County predicted a 7-point win for McCain.
The statewide survey of 500 likely Florida Republican primary voters was conducted Jan. 28-29, 2012, using live telephone interviewers. The GOP survey of bellwethers Martin, Sarasota and Volusia counties (300 likely respondents each) was conducted Jan. 28-29 and carries a margin of error of +/-5.65 percent.  Marginals and full cross-tabulation data will be posted at noon on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.
Suffolk University, located in historic downtown Boston, with an international campus in Madrid, is a comprehensive global institution distinguished by the teaching and the intellectual contributions of its faculty.  Suffolk Universityoffers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 90 areas of study.  Its mission is to provide access to excellence in higher education to students of all ages and backgrounds, with strong emphasis on diversity. 

Gingrich the favorite among Tea Party Patriots in Florida

The Tea Party Patriots on Sunday surveyed their members, producing at least one poll showing Newt Gingrich with an advantage in Florida.

Here is a news release with the details:

Today, the Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest tea party organization, announced that Newt Gingrich leads their Tea Party Straw Poll in Florida with 35 percent of the vote following Sunday night’s Tea Party Patriots Presidential Tele Forum which featured questions by Florida activists and leaders of Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum (Ron Paul was invited but could not attend). 
Nearly 6,000 Tea Party activists in Florida participated in the call, and 600 voted in the Straw Poll.  Tea Party Patriots do not endorse candidates, but the Straw Poll provides a snapshot of Florida Tea Party Patriots activists. 
“Last night's Tele Forum and Straw Poll demonstrated again that the tea party values are winning in America,” said Jenny Beth Martin, Co-Founder and National Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.  “The three participating candidates all pledged to decrease spending below the current spending level their first fiscal year in office, and vowed to repeal government controlled health care.  As long as tea party supporters hold the elected officials accountable, regardless of whom is elected, our priorities will be addressed.” 
Straw Poll results:Question: If the election were held today, who would you vote for?         Newt Gingrich                                35%
        Rick Santorum                               31%
        Mitt Romney                                   18%
        Ron Paul                                         11%
        Undecided/None of the Above     5%

In Jacksonville, Romney stays on the attack vs. Gingrich

McClatchy Newspapers' William Douglas reports:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, kept up his aggressive rhetorical attack against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Monday, the last full day of campaigning before Florida’s Republican presidential primary.

Speaking at a morning rally at a Jacksonville forklift supply company, Romney jumped straight into attacking Gingrich.

“Speaker Gingrich wasn’t very happy with the debates,” Romney said. “He said in the first debate he didn’t do well because the crowd was too quiet. He said he didn’t do well because the crowd was too loud.”

Romney continued: “I think the real reason he hasn’t done so well in connecting with the people of Florida is the people actually saw him in those debates, listened to his background and experience and they learned, for instance, that he was paid $1.6 million to be a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and they said ‘That’s not what we want in the White House.’”

Romney told the crowd that Gingrich received money from Freddie Mac at the time the housing foreclosure crisis was in full swing.

 “The idea that someone running for president at the time that was going on…that’s the real reason why Speaker Gingrich has had such a hard time,” Romney said. “If (people) want to see change Washington, you can’t just select the same people to take different chairs.”

Romney mocked a campaign promise Gingrich made on Florida’s Space Coast that, as president, he would return to manned space flight and establish a permanent U.S. colony on the moon.

“The idea of the moon as the 51st state is not what would come to my mind as a campaign basis for here in Florida,” Romney said.

As Romney spoke, Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich aide and top adviser of the pro-Gingrich Super PAC Winning Our Future stood in the audience inside the massive garage where the event was held and listened. Tyler said he intended to bird-dog Romney’s campaign stops.

After the first event, Tyler told a scrum of reporters that Romney was “a liar.”

“He said Newt Gingrich resigned in disgrace (from Congress), there’s no evidence of it. Newt Gingrich resigned honorably,” Tyler said. “Romney has said Newt Gingrich was fined $300,000 - $100,000 ethics. That’s not true. (Conservative columnist) Byron York did a good piece the other day that explained the whole story. It’s a long story but I encourage people to look at the truth and not believe the lie.”

Tyler’s Winning Our Future bankrolled the 28-minute anti-Romney documentary “King of Bain” which media and non-partisan fact-checking groups along with some conservative organizations and Republicans say contained several inaccuracies and overstatements about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.

More polls show Romney leading in Florida

The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo reports:

 From InsiderAdvantage:
  • Mitt Romney: 36 percent
  • Newt Gingrich: 31 percent
  • Rick Santorum: 12 percent
  • Ron Paul: 12 percent
  • Other: 9 percent
From Public Policy Polling:
  • Mitt Romney 39 percent
  • Newt Gingrich 32 percent
  • Rick Santorum 14 percent
  • Ron Paul 11 percent

Newt Gingrich will fly over Manatee County on Monday

Newt Gingrich last week held a fly-by rally at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.

Today, he will do a fly-over, bypassing the local airfield during the last full day of campaigning before Tuesday's Florida presidential primary.

After an event at 1 p.m. at Tampa International Airport, Gingrich will hop a plane, fly over Bradenton and travel to a 3 p.m. rally in Fort Myers. From there, he will fly to Orlando, where he will finish his day with a "Crossing the Finish" line rally.

Mitt Romney, who has not campaigned at all in Manatee or Sarasota during the past 10 days, will spend Monday to the north, with events scheduled for Jacksonville, Dunedin and The Villages.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jeb Bush slaps Gingrich for 'ridiculous' Crist bashing

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dissed Republican candidate Newt Gingrich for invoking the name of former Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist, whose former staffers work for Mitt Romney (some former Crist-ites also work for Gingrich's camp) 
“That’s not a serious accusation,” Bush told the National Review Online. “Candidates win elections. I’m not a big Charlie Crist fan, as you recall, but these guys shouldn’t have that moniker attached to them, as if Governor Romney is part of some evil plot. That’s ridiculous.” 
Bush's comments are a harsher version of Sen. Marco Rubio's statementon the matter Tuesday. Rubio followed up Wednesday with a forceful condemnation of Gingrich's Spanish-language radio ad.

New poll shows Romney leading Gingrich, 38-29

From Quinnipiac (via Tampa Bay Times)

Just four days before the nation’s first big-state presidential primary,former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney opens up a 38 – 29 percent lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich among Republican likely voters in Florida, according to a Quinnipiac University poll taken Wednesday and released today.  Only 6 percent are undecided, but 32 percent say they might change their mind by Tuesday. 
This compares to results of a January 25 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, showing Romney with 36 percent of likely primary voters to Gingrich’s 34 percent.  Wednesday’s survey showed Gingrich ahead 40 – 34 percent among voters surveyed after the South Carolina primary.
 In today’s survey, men back Romney 36 – 29 percent, a shift from January 25, when men backed Gingrich 37 – 33 percent.  Romney leads 40 – 30 percent among women, virtually unchanged. 
Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has 14 percent of likely primary voters today, with 12 percent for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Romney gets a 61 – 28 percent favorability rating from likely primary voters, compared to 50 – 38 percent favorable for Gingrich, 53 – 19 percent favorable for Santorum and a negative 35 – 42 percent for Paul.
“Speaker Newt Gingrich’s momentum from his South Carolina victory appears to have stalled and Gov. Mitt Romney seems to be pulling away in Florida,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Romney also has a better favorability rating from likely primary voters, which supports his lead in the horse race.  Of course, with four days before Election Day, there is time for another reversal.  Three in 10 voters say they might change their mind.”
“With the debates now over, Gingrich will need some other way to reverse the tide that appears to be going against him,” Brown added.
From January 24 – 26, Quinnipiac University surveyed 580 Republican likely primary voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points.  Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones. 
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and the nation as a public service and for research. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Manatee GOP likes proposed redistricting map

Manatee County Republicans are joining Rep. Vern Buchanan in singing the praises for a proposed Congressional redistricting map moving its way through the Florida Legislature.

Ninety-six percent of  proposed 16th Congressional District is the same as the 13th Congressional District that Buchanan, R-Sarasota, has represented in the U.S. House since 2007. In his last re-election in 2010, Buchanan won with 69 percent of the vote.

Under the proposal, sparsely population sections of East Manatee would be included in a new central Florida District, but the 16th -- dubbed by Buchanan as "Sweet 16" -- would be made up of the heart of Manatee and Sarasota counties. An earlier proposal adopted by the Florida Senate would have placed Parrish, Lakewood Ranch and other neighborhoods east of Interstate 75 into the new district.

"While we regret losing a portion of eastern Manatee County to a newly created district, we like the fact that the new District 16 is basically the same district Vern has been representing for the past five years," said Kathleen King, chairwoman of the Manatee County GOP.

While the new district may lean slightly more Republican than his current district, Buchanan stands to face perhaps his toughest re-election battle yet.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted the race, singling out Democratic challenger Keith Fitzgerald for fund-raising and other support as part of its campaign to regain majority control of the U.S. House.

Where in Florida will the candidates be today?

Via the Tampa Bay Times:

Florida presidential primary tracker for Jan. 26

Mitt Romney: Jacksonville, 10:30, Paramount Printing; Sen. John McCain campaigns for Romney at a town hall at 3:40 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce building in Sun City Center, then a second town hall at 6:25 p.m. at VFW Post 4256 in Madeira Beach.

Newt Gingrich: Mount Dora, 9 a.m., Lake County Tea Party rally; Jacksonville, 1 p.m., University of North Florida, Jacksonville Veterans Event

Rick Santorum: Tallahassee, 7 a.m., Florida State University, CFC Leadership Prayer Breakfast; Tallahassee, 9 a.m., “Faith, Family and Freedom” Town Hall; Pensacola, 1 p.m., New World landing, Escambia County Republican Party rally.

Ron Paul: No events scheduled. GOP debate: 8-10 p.m., CNN, live from Jacksonville. All four candidates participating.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New pro-Gingrich Super PAC ad links Romney with Obama (with video)

Have you seen the ad from the pro-Newt Gingrich "super PAC" that says Mitt Romney is little more than Barack Obama?

If not, that probably will change in the next six days, as the group, Winning Our Future, uses $6 million from a Las Vegas casino mogul to go on the air in Florida with the ad.

You can watch it here:

New Florida poll: Romney, 36 percent, Gingrich 34 percent

Newt Gingrich's big South Carolina primary win last weekend helped wipe away Mitt Romney's double digit lead in Florida, where the two are now neck and neck, a new Quinnipiac University poll founds. 
The Jan. 19 - 23 poll found Mitt Romney with 36 percent support, Newt Gingrich with 34 percent, Rick Santorum with 13 percent and Ron Paul with 10 percent. More than one in three likely Republican voters said they could change their mind before the Jan. 31 primary. 
"Florida is essentially a dead heat and a two-man race between Gov. Mitt Romney and Speaker Newt Gingrich entering the last week of the campaign," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Gingrich's South Carolina victory clearly gives him a boost in Florida. The question is whether there is more of that to come, or whether any bump from a previous victory will dissipate as happened to Rick Santorum in New Hampshire after winning Iowa and Romney in South Carolina after taking New Hampshire," Brown added. 
Romney was seen by more likely primary voters as best able to handle the economy and most sharing voters' values, and Gingrich as having the knowledge and experience to be president, being a strong leader and better at handling foreign policy. 
Gingrich gets 37 percent of men to 33 percent for Romney, while Romney is ahead 38 - 31 among women. Gingrich leads among white evangelical Christians 43 - 30 percent and among those who consider themselves to be tea party supporters 43 - 28 percent. Each makes up roughly a third of primary voters although there is substantial overlap among those two groups. 
Romney is viewed more favorably, 71 - 19 percent, than is Gingrich, at 61 - 26 percent. Here again, Gingrich does better among voters polled after the South Carolina victory. Santorum gets a 58 - 13 percent favorability rating, while Paul gets a negative 36 - 40 percent score. 
"Newt Gingrich's edge is that he is the candidate with momentum and the one viewed as best on a host of issues and characteristics important to voters. Romney, however, holds the potential trump card that on the question most important to voters - who can best fix the economy - he is seen as the best candidate," said Brown. 
The survey includes 254 voters surveyed January 19 - 21, before South Carolina results were announced, with a margin of error of +/- 6.2 percent, and 347 voters surveyed January 22 - 23, after the South Carolina results, with a margin of error of +/- 5.3 percent. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Duggar family of TV fame stumping with Santorum

Members of the Duggar family in Punta Gorda. (Photo by Richard Dymond)

PUNTA GORDA  - Believe it or not, the Duggar family was in Punta Gorda Tuesday.

So, what was the family famous for the TV show, "19 Kids & Counting" from the TLC network doing at a political rally in a Punta Gorda waterfront park?

The answer is that Jim Bob Duggar and his wife, Michelle, are so sold on Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, he of the "family values" platform, that they loaned Santorum their huge 2003 Prevost RV bus, painted "Santorum For President" on the side and are out stumping with him and for him.

"We bought the Prevost as a bank repo," Jim Bob Duggar said. "It has 12 bunks. We lettered Rick's name on the side."

"We share many of Rick's views," added Duggar, who has 10 biological sons and nine biological daughters with Michell. "We agree with Rick that if we could drill more for oil and if we had gotten that pipeline deal through, gasoline prices would drop to $2 a gallon and it would stimulate the economy."

Duggar also applauds Santorum's 21-year marriage and seven children.

"He knows what it is like in America today to raise a family," said Duggar who lost a baby girl, named Jubilee Shalom, when his wife had a recent miscarrage.

Duggar spoke to the crowd in Punta Gorda and urged every person to call 10 people and tell them about Santorum.

"Then, hopefully, those 10 will call 10 more," Duggar said.

This is the way Santorum's low budget campaign has to work, Duggar added.

 "He's being out-spent here on the campaign trail 100 to one but, with grassroots support, he could win Florida," Duggar said.
 - Richard Dymond

Follow Santorum rally in Punta Gorda on Twitter

Follow Bradenton Herald reporter Richard Dymond's tweets here:

Follow the Newt Gingrich rally at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

Follow Bradenton Herald reporter Laura Morel's tweets from the Newt Gingrich rally at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport here:

Rick Santorum to campaign in Punta Gorda

Rick Santorum is scheduled to campaign at a gathering of Punta Gorda Tea Party members Tuesday afternoon.

The "Rally by the Water" is set for 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Laishley Park, off U.S. 41 on the Peace River.

For more information, go here.

Also, Newt Gingrich is set to appear at 1:45 p.m. at a rally at Dolphin Aviation at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. For more information, go here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Follow the Republican presidential debate on Twitter

Follow the Twitter chatter about tonight's Republican debate in Tampa here:

Newt Gingrich (finally) to go on FL TV with ad.

McClatchy Newspapers reports:

Newt Gingrich is going up with his first ad in Florida, and it looks pretty simple. It's a just a clip from his South Carolina debate where he defended calling Barack Obama the"food stamp president." Rather than use music, the Gingrich ad crew just let the applause from the Republican crowd play. Here's the ad:

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has a new ad targeting Spanish-speaking voters.

He's running a new radio spot featuring Reps Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros Lehtinen. He's already advertising on Spanish-language TV, plans to give a Cuba-Latin American policy speech in Miami Wednesday and appear at the Hispanic Leadership Network on Friday.

The text:

CONGRESSMAN MARIO DIAZ-BALART: “I am Mario Diaz-Balart. Republicans should elect the best candidate to go up against President Obama, the candidate with the plan to get our economy going and create jobs. I am convinced that Mitt Romney is that candidate. That is why I am with Romney.”

CONGRESSWOMAN ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: “I am Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Mitt Romney will fight against the despotic efforts of Castro and Chavez. He understands the urgency to stop them and increase our support for the valiant heroes who fight for democracy in Cuba. The policy of Obama has failed. We need the leadership and conviction of Romney to change course in our hemisphere. That is why I am with Romney.”

FORMER CONGRESSMAN LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART: “I am Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The presidential election this year will be decisive for the cause of liberty. We have an obligation to confront Barack Obama with the candidate who has the greatest opportunity to win. That is why I am with Romney.”

VOICEOVER: “Paid for by Romney for President, Incorporated.”

MITT ROMNEY: “I am Mitt Romney. I am running for President and I approve this message.”

Gingrich also has a Spanish-language ad, but he doesn't criticize Romney. Instead, he bashes President Barack Obama -- much like Romney had been doing all along before suddenly finding himself on the back foot and attacking Gingrich. Among the criticisms Gingrich's new ad levels on Obama: "We are still losing our homes," a key issue in Florida, one of the centers of the foreclosure crisis. "Let's not make the same mistake," the ad continues. "This Jan. 31, vote for Newt Gingrich, the only candidate with experience, leadership and an economic plan to recuperate our country that we so love."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newt Gingrich set to rally in Manatee County

With momentum from his big win Saturday  in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich is scheduled to make a campaign stop Tuesday in Manatee County.

Numerous groups, including the Sarasota County Republican Party and Tea Party Manatee, are hosting Gingrich at Dolphin Aviation, 8191 N. Tamiami Trail, at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. The rally is set for 1:45 p.m.

For more information, go here.

Rick Santorum is the only other presidential candidate currently scheduled to appear in the area. He is set to attend a rally at Dolphin Aviation at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29. More details, here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rep. Vern Buchanan slams SOPA

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today slammed the proposed "Stop Online Piracy Act," or SOPA, as "a serious threat to a free and open Internet." Here is Buchanan's news release.
Buchanan Condemns Internet Censorship Bill Slams Legislation Regulating Freedom of Expression on Internet 
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-FL, in a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders, expressed strong opposition to the “Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA),” -- a bill that could have a chilling effect on free speech and innovation on the Internet. 
“This misguided legislation poses a serious threat to a free and open Internet,” said Buchanan. 
“While we need to combat copyright infringement and online piracy, the solution is not censorship or excessive regulation of the global Internet. The heavy hand of the government must not be allowed to threaten our basic online freedoms.” 
Internet and technology companies such as Google and Yahoo have expressed serious concerns with the anti-piracy legislation. 
“The censorship regulations written into these bills won’t shut down pirate sites,” Google said on its website. 
“These sites will just change their addresses and continue their criminal activities, while law-abiding companies will suffer high penalties for breaches they can’t possibly control.” 
Buchanan said regulation of the Internet is something to be expected from restrictive societies like China, Iran, and North Korea -- but not the United States. 
“Since its inception, the Internet has been a revolutionary tool in our society, encouraging the free exchange of information and ideas,” said Buchanan. “Excessive regulations and government intrusion would only serve to hinder the innovation and progress of this cutting-edge tool. I will continue to fight for policies that preserve and protect an open and democratic Internet.” 
Legislation restricting the Internet has been drafted in both the House and Senate – the main sponsors intend to move forward and push for its passage.
Read the letter to President Obama and congressional leaders here.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he likely will not endorse in GOP primary

Gov. Rick Scott meets with the editorial board at the Bradenton Herald.

Gov. Rick Scott today said he likely will not publicly endorse a candidate in advance of the Florida Republican presidential primary on Jan. 31.

"I haven't made a decision, but I'm leaning towards not to do it," Scott said during an interview this morning with Bradenton Herald reporters and editors.

Scott said he has had conversations with the remaining candidates, and that all but one have asked for his support. In deciding whether to endorse, Scott said he remembers his own experience running in statewide primary in Florida in 2010.

"I was the outsider no one endorsed in the primary," he said.

Scott said he has offered the same advice to all the candidates: Engage with local Republican committees and Tea Parties. And talk about the one issue that matters most to the state.

"If you want to win the Republican primary in Florida, you have to talk about one thing -- jobs," Scott said.

Scott said the national attention the Sunshine State is likely to receive starting Sunday, after the primary in South Carolina, vindicates the decision to hold an early primary in Florida. (The Republican National Committee has sanctioned Florida Republicans because of the early date by slashing in half the size of the delegation to the Republican convention in Tampa and other measures.)

"We did the right thing," Scott said. "This is clearly a microcosm of the country, the biggest swing state."

"It looks like this will be the decider."

The interview with Scott touched on a variety of other issues, including the budget, education, health care and the lessons learned from his first year in office.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fitzgerald wins key support from national Democrats

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has named the race in the 13th Congressional District in Florida one of 18 "red to blue" campaigns, providing a boost to presumptive Democratic nominee Keith Fitzgerald as he tries to unseat Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.

Red-to-blue candidates, according to the DCCC website, will be offered "financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support. The program will introduce Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns."

Fitzgerald, who raised $223,000 during the first three months of his campaign, welcomed the support.

“Getting named to the Red-to-Blue program is a testament to this community's desire to see a different kind of leadership in Washington," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "For too long, we've seen a Washington more consumed with what they can do for themselves, rather than how they can serve their nation.

"This is a huge step in our effort to bring an honest, common sense approach to creating jobs and protecting the commitment made to our greatest generation.”

Before the national Democratic Party decided to invest in Fitzgerald as part of its campaign to re-take the House of Representatives, he had to prove he was viable. He helped make that case not only with his fundraising, but with a demonstrated ability to organize grassroots support and to draw a clear contrast with Buchanan, said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chair of the DCCC.

"Keith impressed us tremendously with his work ethic early on," Israel said during a conference call with Florida reporters.

Israel said the emergence of Fitzgerald has been one of the "nicest surprises" for Democrats during the current election cycle.

Fitzgerald's fundraising prowess and support from national Democrats will be key in a race against Buchanan, a skilled fund-raiser with a proven willingness to spend part of his personal wealth on his campaigns. As of Dec. 31, he had $1.1 million in cash on hand in his campaign account.

Israel said Fitzgerald now has a "coveted status" among Democrats. The DCCC will back it up by granting Fitzgerald to national donors and providing other support.

National Republicans are likely to rally around Buchanan, vice-chairman for finance of the DCCC's Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, as the GOP works to hold onto control of the House. But there also are questions about Buchanan's ethics revolving around some of his fundraising, and his votes on certain issues, that the DCCC's assistance could make it easier for Fitzgerald to try to exploit as the campaign proceeds.

Israel said Buchanan has been "enmeshed in scandal," and is currently being investigated by the Justice Department and the House Ethics Committee.

"If the Girl Scouts could, my guess is they would start investigating Vern Buchanan," Israel said.

Israel said Buchanan is vulnerable because he sided with other Republicans and against his constituents on a variety of issues affecting seniors and other middle class constituents in his district. For example, Buchanan voted for a budget proposal authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that Israel said would eliminate Medicare.

Fitzgerald has been "focused on protecting Medicare, while Congressman Buchanan is focused on protecting himself from investigation."

In a statement, Buchanan's campaign indicated it wasn't ready yet to engage with Fitzgerald.

"We look forward to discussing the issues later this year when we get closer to the election," the campaign said.

Senate redistricting plan would split Manatee among 3 Congressional districts

The Congressional redistricting plan approved by the Florida Senate on Tuesday would split Manatee County among three districts, according to a review of the map.

But whether that is what eventually be adopted still waits to be determined. The Florida House will vote next week on a Congressional redistricting plan. None of the three plans approved by a House committee would divide Manatee among three districts.

Under the Senate's plan, most of the county west of Interstate 75 would be included in a district that would stretch along the coast through Sarasota County and into Charlotte County. Half of the district's residents would live in Sarasota County; about 30 percent in Manatee; and 20 percent in Charlotte.

Neighborhoods in Bradenton and Palmetto would be included in a district that would stretch down from the Tampa area. Those residents would make up about 5.9 percent of the district.

The biggest change proposed would take Lakewood Ranch, Parrish and other areas east of I-75 and include it in a district made up of a large chunk of the central part of the state stretching from near Okechobee in the east, Lakeland in the north and Fort Myers in the south.

Parts of 11 counties would be in the district. The Manatee portion would be home to about 73,000 people, or 10.5 percent of the district's residents, the third-largest share behind Polk, 26.1 percent; Highlands, 14.2 percent; Hillsborough, 14 percent; and Lee, 12.2 percent. Sarasota County residents would make up about 3.9 percent of the district.

You can view the proposed map here, and get more information about the plan here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fitzgerald: FEC may have cleared Buchanan, but he has still failed voters

The Federal Elections Commission may have closed its investigation of allegations that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan improperly raised some of his campaign contributions in 2006 and 2008.

However, his presumptive Democratic challenger in the fall says the FEC's decision does not mean the question of what exactly Buchanan did and his ethics are closed issues with voters in the 13th Congressional District.

Keith Fitzgerald on Tuesday afternoon responded to the posting on the FEC website of records in the case.

"I look at what Vern Buchanan has done with sadness and deep disappointment," Fitzgerald said in a statement released by his campaign. "Because whatever the final judgment of the FEC, Vern Buchanan has time and time again failed to live up the high standards we should demand of our elected officials.

"Vern Buchanan has been dogged by legal and ethical questions that bring dishonor to his office, distract him from his duties, and sew distrust between Vern Buchanan and the people of Southwest Florida."

Former Rep. Ron Reagan considering bid for Manatee elections supervisor

The Bradenton Herald's Sara Kennedy reports:

Former Republican state Rep. Ron Reagan today said he's thinking of running for Manatee County supervisor of elections, but has not made up his mind definitively.

"I will know next week," said Reagan. a Republican.

He did confirm he was not considering running for any other office.

Reagan served eight years in the Florida House of Representatives. He could not run for re-election in 2010 because of term limits. The seat is now held by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton.

The post of supervisor of elections is being vacated by Bob Sweat, a long-time incumbent who has announced he would retire later this year. His long-time assistant, Nancy Bignell, has also said she would retire.

Candidates for the post who have already filed include former Manatee County Commissioner Jane Von Hahmann, and first-time political candidate Rodney P. Smithley, a Bradenton businessman. Both are Republicans.

FEC releases records in Vern Buchanan case

The Federal Elections Commission has posted on its website records documenting its recently concluded investigation of charges that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan broke campaign finance laws and its decision to close the matter.

(To review the records, go here, check the box next to "Matters Under Review" and enter in the box next to "Case #" 6054)

Once again, the Buchanan campaign is claiming vindication.

“The documents released today show that the Federal Election Commission voted unanimously to clear Congressman Buchanan and his campaign of any wrongdoing after an exhaustive, multi-year investigation," Buchanan's attorney William McGinley said in a statement issued Tuesday by the campaign.

"Based on its careful examination of the entire record, the commission voted 5-0 on a bipartisan basis – with three Democratic and two Republican commissioners – to dismiss the claims against Congressman Buchanan and his campaign and close the matter. We are grateful that the public now can see for itself that the FEC’s three Democratic and two Republican commissioners completely rejected these false and partisan allegations.”

That the documents were released is significant, in that it means the FEC has officially closed its investigation.

Various types of documents were included in the release, but the most important ones may be several reports from the FEC general counsel's office that update progress in the investigation.

The FEC had been investigating since 2008 allegations that Buchanan had instructed a former business partner, Sam Kazran, to reimburse $67,900 to employees of a Jacksonville auto dealership they co-owned for contributions they made to Buchanan's 2006 and 2008 congressional campaigns.

At first, FEC lawyers believed there was probable cause to pursue a case against Buchanan, in part because of questions they had about his credibility on certain "background issues."

But those concerns were eventually outweighed by a continuing investigation that revealed numerous questions -- some of which Buchanan's lawyers raised in the congressman's defense -- about Kazran's credibility.

"Given the concerns about Kazran's credibility and other gaps in the evidentiary record, the lack of direct support is significant," the general counsel's office wrote in a Jan. 25, 2011, report. "Further, the circumstantial evidence does not sufficiently corroborate Kazran's testimony to overcome our recent concerns with his credibility because in many cases, the evidence supports Buchanan's claims or is ambiguous.

A week later, on Feb. 1, the FEC's commissioners voted 5-0 to close the investigation.

Previously, FEC commissioners in June 2010 voted 4-1 to reject a separate complaint, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleging that employees at Buchanan-owned auto dealerships in Venice and Sarasota had been improperly reimbursed for a total of $5,000 in contributions made to Buchanan's 2006 congressional campaign.

The FEC document release includes a report from commission Vice Chair Caroline Hunter detailing how questions about the credibility of those making the allegations led to her voting to close the matter.

"While the circumstances of the contributions may seem suspicious, the documentary evidence failed to point conclusively in either direction," Hunter wrote.

Candidates joining races for Manatee County Commission

The new year is bringing interest from candidates wanting to run for a seat on the Manatee County Commission.

A few days after Donna Hayes said her off-again, on-again run for re-election in District 5 was again off-again, former Bradenton City Council member James T. Golden filed to run for the seat representing East Manatee, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Golden, a Democrat, is on a two-election losing streak. He lost his city council seat to Harold Byrd Jr., and in 2010 he was trounced by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, in the race for the local seat in Congress.

Golden lives in the Braden River Lakes subdivision, which after a recent redistricting is now in District 5.

On the Republican side, Lakewood Ranch businesswoman Vanessa Baugh previously filed for the seat. Pending the possibility that Hayes might again re-enter the race -- the elections office still lists her as an official candidate -- Baugh is currently running unopposed for the GOP nomination

Elsewhere in the county, Democrat Corie M. Holmes, a former Manatee County sheriff's deputy, has filed to challenge GOP Commissioner Larry Bustle in District 1. Bustle, a former Palmetto mayor, is running for re-election to the seat he won in 2008.

Other incumbents up for re-election this year are John Chappie and Joe McClash.

Chappie, who previously filed for re-election to represent District 3 (Bradenton and the islands), is currently running unopposed.

Two Republicans, Betsy Benac and Paul G. Stehle, have filed to run for the at-large District 7 seat.

McClash has not announced whether he will run for re-election.

The qualifying period for the elections is June 4 through June 8.

The primaries are Aug. 14, and the general election is Nov. 6.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Buchanan reports having $1.1 million in campaign account

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's re-election campaign ended 2011 with $1.1 million cash on hand.

The campaign said in a statement Sunday that Buchanan, who faces a challenge from Sarasota Democrat Keith Fitzgerald in the 13th Congressional District, raised more than $321,000 in the final three months of 2011.

Buchanan's fourth quarter filing, which covers activity between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31,  wasn't yet posted on the Federal Elections Commission website. But the amount  the campaign said he raised would be almost $100,000 more than the amount Fitzgerald said Friday he had raised during the same period. Fitzgerald's report also wasn't available on the website.

Fitzgerald, who in 2010 lost his re-election bid for a state House seat, announced his candidacy for Congress in early October.

"Vern's agenda to create jobs, restrain spending and reduce the national debt has resonated with the people of the 13th District," Buchanan campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said in a statement. "We are humbled and grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support for Vern's re-election."

At the end of the third quarter, Buchanan, R-Sarasota, reported having more than $904,000 in cash on hand, and no debt.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Keith Fitzgerald reports raising almost $223K in bid to unseat Vern Buchanan

Almost 900 donors have contributed more than $223,000 to Keith Fitzgerald's campaign to unseat Vern Buchanan from the U.S. House of Representatives, Fitzgerald said Friday on his Facebook page.

That leaves Fitzgerald, a former state representative from Sarasota, far behind Buchanan, R-Sarasota -- and his ability to raise money and established willingness to spend his own wealth on his campaigns. But his fundraising since he announced last fall shows that Fitzgerald's likely will be more than a token candidacy.

"Clearly, this community came together quickly and decisively sending a message loud and clear that enough is enough and it’s time to restore honesty and integrity to Congress starting here in the 13th District," said Fitzgerald, a Democrat and professor at New College of Florida.

Details of Fitzgerald's campaign finance report for the fourth quarter of 2011 had not yet been posted on the Federal Elections Commission's website. The report is not due until Jan.15.

Buchanan's most recent filing also was not available. As of Sept. 30, Buchanan had reported having more than $904,000 in cash in his campaign account.

(We have an inquiry into Buchanan's campaign about what he will report to the FEC.)

Bignell not running for Manatee elections supervisor

Manatee County's assistant elections supervisor Nancy Bignell has decided not to run for the top spot in the elections office and to instead join her boss Bob Sweat in retirement.

Sweat, who announced earlier this month that he would not run for re-election, had encourage his long-time assistant to run to succeed him. Sweat has been in office for 27 years, and will retire at the end of the year.

In an email to the Bradenton Herald's Sara Kennedy, Bignell said she had decided not to run:
I have been giving considerable thought as to whether or not I should run for Supervisor of Elections. I have received encouragement from Bob Sweat and so many members of the community to continue my career with the elections office. The decision has been very difficult for me as I have been with the elections office for 20 years and have enjoyed what I do; but at this point in my life I feel that it is in my best personal interest to retire at the end of Bob’s current term. I want to thank all the people that have encouraged me and pledged support for my candidacy, but I am not a candidate for Supervisor of Elections.
So far, Bradenton businessman Rodney P. Smithley, a Republican, is the only announced candidate for the position.

More than 107,000 Republicans have already voted in Florida primary

From Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Hughes' @GoMeteoric Twitter account: Absentees as of today: 435,067 requested, 107,779 of these ballots already cast.
Yup. That means Florida Republicans are just days away from casting more ballots by mail than the votes cast by the 122,000 Iowa Caucus voters earlier this month.
The polls don't even open until Jan. 21, when South Carolina holds its early primary. At the same time, Floridians can show up to the polls and vote early. Or they can wait until the official election day, Jan. 31.
Other big differences between Florida and the early vote states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina: Florida has more electoral college votes than all of them combined, and during the primary, only Florida Republicans can vote for the Republican nominee. Sorry Ron Paul.
Likely beneficiary: Mitt Romney, who has blanketed Florida airwaves and mailboxes with ads.

Manatee's Craig Bachler takes key spot in Santorum presidential campaign

Veteran Manatee County political operative Craig R. Bachler has taken a senior position in Rick Santorum's Florida campaign.

Bachler, who previously had worked on Pat Buchanan's presidential campaigns, as well as other campaigns for lower offices, will be Santorum's director for Florida grassroots and field operations.

Santorum's campaign on Friday announced its leadership team for Florida, leading up to the Republican presidential primary on Jan. 31.

There is a strong Manatee-Sarasota bent in Santorum's organization.

The Florida campaign chairman is Jesse Biter, president/CEO of Biter Enterprises LLC., a Sarasota-based management firm. Biter has previously worked on Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign and Rep. Vern Buchanan's congressional campaigns.

Also, Manatee political activist James Ferguson is in charge of Santorum's regional operation in West Florida.

To see who else is on Santorum's team, go here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rep. Jim Boyd raises $37,100 in final three months of 2011

State Rep. Jim Boyd collected $37,100 in campaign contributions in the final three months of 2011, leaving him with more than $85,600 for his re-election effort, according to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Boyd, a Republican from Bradenton, has raised a total of almost $93,100 and spent less than $7,500.

Boyd's current district includes Bradenton, Anna Maria Island other large swaths of Manatee County. But the district in which he will run for re-election is still taking shape through the Legislature's redistricting efforts.

He is currently listed as candidate in House District 68, and no one else has filed for the seat.

To see a detailed list of Boyd's donors, go to this page and click on "Campaign Finance Activity."

To see what other local and statewide candidates are raising and spending, start here.

Greg Steube raises $51,000 in final 3 months of 2011

State Rep. Greg Steube collected more than $51,000 in campaign contributions in the final three months of the year, according to records filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

So far for his re-election effort, Steube has raised almost $74,200 and spent more than $18,700, leaving him with more than $55,400 in the bank.

Steube, a Republican is running for re-election in a district that officially is still taking shape through redistricting, currently represent House District 67, which includes Lakewood Ranch and East Manatee. He does not yet have an opponent.

To see a detailed list of Steube's donors, go to this page and click on "Campaign Finance Activity."

To see what other local and statewide candidates are raising and spending, start here.

Bill Galvano adds to his campaign fund-raising advantage

Bill Galvano continues to pad his war chest for his campaign for the Florida Senate -- and there still is not an opponent in sight.

Galvano, who is running to represent a district still taking shape during the Legislature's redistricting process, collected $42,945 in contributions during the final three months of year, bringing his total haul so far to more than $348,100, according to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Galvano, a Republican from Bradenton, has spent more than $136,700 on his campaign, meaning he ended 2011 with more than $211,000 in the bank.

The most recent reports, filed this month, cover the fourth quarter of 2011.

Galvano, a former member of the Florida House, is hoping to replace Sen. Mike Bennett as Bradenton's representative in the Florida Senate. However, the exact boundaries of his district -- and other legislative and congressional districts -- remain to be set by the Legislature. (Bennett cannot run again because of term limits.)

Galvano is currently listed as a candidate for Senate District 21. No one else has filed to run for the seat.

To see a detailed list of Galvano's donors, go to this page and click on "Campaign Finance Activity."

To see what other local and statewide candidates are raising and spending, start here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Subcommittee passes Boyd's anti-fraud insurance bill

State Rep. Jim Boyd's office this afternoon provided an update on a piece of insurance-related legislation he is carrying during this session of the Florida Legislature.

Here's the press release:
Boyd’s PIP Fraud Legislation passes House Subcommittee
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee passed House Bill 119, Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Protection Insurance by Rep. Jim Boyd R-Bradenton. 
CS/HB 119, creates the Emergency Care Coverage (ECC) Law, a new no-fault motor vehicle insurance system. The ECC replaces the PIP system, but still retains many aspects of PIP. The bill also includes other fraud-fighting components. 
“The Emergency Care Coverage Law will eliminate the enormous opportunity for fraud while
insuring those injured in an automobile accident are promptly treated” said Boyd. 
HB 119, had twice been workshopped in the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee before being voted on and passed out of the subcommittee today.

Daily digest for Florida Legislature, 1/11/12

Trying to get a handle on what's up with the Florida Legislature and its just-started session.

The Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog offers a daily primer.

Here's today's:

Five Stories To Think About Today

  • Florida's Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, is supposedly going to hand his resignation to the Governor today. Who will be appointed in the interim?
  • The 22-member Senate Reapportionment Committee casts its first vote on a proposed remapping of all 27 congressional districts, including two new ones as a result of population growth. It looks like Rep. Allen West is most likely to be on the chopping block.
  • The Proposed Committee Substitute for House Bill 119 will overhaul the state's no fault insurance system, creating a new system with a completely new approach for treating auto accident victims. Keep an eye on this.
  • The House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee is the latest to take up the issue of gaming, inviting public testimony from supporters and opponents. Will also be heard: cutting unemployment compensation tax for Florida businesses.
  • The House Subcommittee on Community and Military Affairs will vote on House Bill 609, which would prevent local governments from enacting wage theft protection ordinances. This is particularly important in counties with large immigrant communities, like Miami-Dade.

Three Issues You Missed Yesterday

  • Governor Rick Scott gave his State of the State address, pledging $1 billion in additional funding for education. About 50 protestors were not allowed into the Senate chamber Tuesday afternoon because of the noise the group had made outside during Scott's speech earlier in the day.
  •  The Senate passed a bill to award Eric Brody $10.8 million, after all parties agreed to a settlement. The measure now moves to the House where it died last year. This is the fifth year the bill will be up for vote -- it was cut for budget reasons the last four.
  • Marco Rubio opened his new Tallahassee Senate office Tuesday.

Who To Watch Today/Quotable Quotes

“With all the lovely flowers in the House chamber, I can barely smell the Occupy people outside.” -Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, on Twitter