Monday, April 30, 2012

Sheriff Steube releases list of endorsements

Sheriff Brad Steube has released a list of endorsements that reads like a who's who of the Manatee County political, law enforcement and business establishment, as he seeks to bolster his re-election campaign.

Steube, who faces former sheriff's detective William Waldron, a Republican, and non-affiliated Alphonso Scott Junious, also announced he had qualified for the Aug. 14 primary ballot by turning in 2,000 petitions to the county elections office.

“I am humbled by the support of so many citizens of Manatee County,” Steube said in a statement. “They’ve helped us get the needed petitions signed and have helped us raise money for this campaign. I look forward to serving the citizens of Manatee County well throughout my next term, as I have more work to do to continue the efforts we started five years ago that are making such a positive impact on the county.”

Steube was appointed sheriff in 2007 after Charlie Wells retired. He was elected in his own right in 2008.

As of March 31, Steube had collected more than $116,000 in political contributions, more than any candidate for any local or county office.

Individuals and organizations endorsing Steube include:
United States Congressman Vern Buchanan
State Representative Jim Boyd
State Representative Greg Steube (the sheriff's son)
Former State Representative Bill Galvano
Former State Representative Ron Reagan
Former Senator John McKay
Former Senator Pat Neal
State Attorney Earl Moreland
Public Defender Larry Eger
Former Sheriff Charlie Wells
Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle
Bradenton Police Chief Mike Radzilowski
Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine
Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells
Mayor Wayne Poston, City of Bradenton
Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, City of Palmetto
Gulf Coast Builders Exchange
The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance
Fraternal Order of Police, Manatee Lodge 70
Suncoast Professional Firefighters and Paramedics, Local 2546

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marianne Barnebey announces bid for mayor of Bradenton

Bradenton City Council member Marianne Barnebey on Thursday announced via email that she is challenging incumbent Mayor Wayne Poston in the Nov. 6 election.

Here is the email:
Bradenton City Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey will enter the mayor’s race for this November’s election. 
“After receiving encouragement from many citizens and business owners in our community, I have decided to run for mayor. We all want our community to prosper. We have serious issues we must face to maintain and improve our quality of life for all.  I will remain committed to the citizens as we continue to move forward together and look forward to hearing from all the citizens of Bradenton.”
“I believe I have the vision and the ability to pull our community together in order to operate an open and transparent government. I will be asking the citizens to voice their concerns and opinions through traditional channels as well as newer technologies.” 
“We have tremendous opportunities with the redevelopment of our downtown and neighborhoods.  For our community to be successful with this, it is critical that the city government listen to the citizens who pay for the government.” 
Mrs. Barnebey has served on the City Council since 1998. She is the founder and coordinator of Winter Wonderland, a family friendly festival in downtown Bradenton held in December. She serves on the boards of the Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program, ArtCenter Manatee, the Gold Star Club and Crimestoppers. She is the chair of the Manatee County Library Board of Trustees and is a founding member and soloist of Faith United Methodist Church. 
In the past Mrs. Barnebey has served as Chair of the Sarasota Manatee Metropolitan Plannning Organization and is still the City's representative on that board. She has served on the boards of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness and Just for Girls Inc. SRQ Magazine has awarded the Best Local Official in Bradenton toMrs.Barnebey for the past two years.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Campaigns put their spins on polls showing Buchanan with large leads over Fitzgerald

Competing poll results released this week show U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan with large leads over his Democratic challenger Keith Fitzgerald. But what the numbers really mean depends on who is doing the spinning.

Several news outlets Wednesday reported on a memo from Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies showing Buchanan with a 58 percent to 36 percent lead over Fitzgerald. The poll was conducted in March.

"Congressman Buchanan's brand is strong — he is a good ideological match for the district and despite the anti-Congress political environment, he is viewed favorably by likely voters," pollster Glen Bolger wrote in a polling memo, quoted by The Hill.

In turn, Fitzgerald's campaign released a memo from campaign manager Adam Scott detailing results of a February poll conducted by SEA Polling showing Buchanan with smaller lead, 49 percent to 38 percent.

Scott wrote that the fact the Buchanan is polling at less than 50 percent shows that he is "extremely vulnerable." Buchanan's weakness, according to Scott, is because of questions raised about his ethics during investigations by the Federal Elections Commission, the Office of Congressional Ethics and other agencies.

Scott also noted Buchanan loaned his campaign $250,000 a week after conducting his poll.

The Fitzgerald memo also included results of a separate poll showing that the percentage of voters who view Buchanan "favorably" declined from 53 percent in August to 44 percent in Feburary; and view of his "job performance" dropped from 59 percent positive in August to 52 percent positive in February.

"Since the initial assessment poll in August, Vern Buchanan’s favorability and job approval have seen double-digit erosion," Scott wrote. "In the months between the polls, the FEC found that Buchanan 'more likely than not' violated campaign finance laws and provided inaccurate and inconsistent testimony to federal investigators, and the office of Congressional Ethics found there is 'substantial reason to believe' that Buchanan violated federal law by failing to disclose income from his businesses."

Buchanan supporter Joe Gruters, the chairman of the Sarasota County Republican Party, countered with a press release stating that the numbers show Buchanan is "safe." He also passed along results of a poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies at the same point in the 2008 campaign, that showed Buchanan with a 53-37 lead over then-Democratic challenger Christine Jennings.

Buchanan went on to win by a 56-37 margin.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gulf Coast Builders Exchange endorses John Colon for Manatee County Commission

The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange has endorsed John Colon for a seat on the Manatee County Commission, picking up support in a race that has separate building groups endorsing rival candidates.

"I am pleased and honored to be endorsed by the leading organization of prominent business people and entrepreneurs in Manatee County," said Colon, a Republican running for the District 5 seat now held by Donna Hayes, who is not running for re-election.

District 5 is comprised of neighborhoods in East Manatee, including Lakewood Ranch.

Last week, the Home Builders Association Manatee-Sarasota endorsed a second Republican in the race, businesswoman Vanessa Baugh. She also has been endorsed by the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, although Colon, a senior vice president with Wells Fargo Advisors, said other endorsements were issued before he became an official candidate.

As of March 31, Baugh had raised almost $35,000 for her campaign. Colon had raised slightly more than $21,000, according to the Manatee County supervisor of elections office.

James T. Golden, the only Democrat in the race, has raised a little more than $4,000.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Keith Fitzgerald challenges Vern Buchanan to release his tax returns (UPDATED)

Democratic congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald is challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan to release copies of his federal income tax returns for public review.

"This tax week, millions of Floridians are playing by the rules and paying their fair share of taxes, and they expect their Member of Congress to do the same," Fitzgerald's campaign said in a news release announcing a conference call for later Thursday. "Suncoast residents deserve full transparency from Vern Buchanan and ought to know where and how, the member of the chief tax writing committee in Congress, earns his income."

Buchanan's response?

 “With all the serious issues facing our nation, is this the best Fitzgerald has to offer?" said campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts. "He needs to stop taking orders from Nancy Pelosi and start focusing on the issues our families care about – creating jobs, lowering gas prices and strengthening the economy.” 

The returns might provide details of Buchanan's exact worth. According to disclosure reports members of Congress do file that list their holdings and liabilities in broad ranges, Buchanan is one of the wealthier members of Congress.

In making the demand, Fitzgerald is again demonstrating he will make the ethical clouds hanging over Buchanan a major theme of  his campaign. The campaign today made Fitzgerald's tax returns available on its website.

"According to the New York Times, Buchanan is reportedly under investigation by the IRS and has a history of failing to disclose his financial interests. Recently, House Congressional Ethics investigators found there was a “substantial reason to believe” that Buchanan broke federal law by failing to report more than $14,000 in income over four years," the news release states

The House Ethics Committee currently is reviewing whether to start a full investigation of Buchanan.
So far, there has been no response from Buchanan's campaign to Fitzgerald's challenge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Report: DCCC reserves $2.5 million in TV ads for Tampa, maybe to help Keith Fitzgerald (UPDATED)

After Labor Day, it may be very difficult to watch television in Tampa Bay without seeing ads touting either side in the likely congressional race between U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and Democratic challenger Keith Fitzgerald.

Politico reported Wednesday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign has reserved almost $2.5 million in advertising time in the Tampa television market, and that the Buchanan-Fitzgerald race is a "possible" target for the money. Previously, the DCCC has identified the race as key to its efforts to retake control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and has promised Fitzgerald fund-raising and other support.

The Tampa ad buy, according to Politico, is part of more than $32 million in time the DCCC has reserved in key television markets across the country:
The ad buy, the earliest in Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee history, stretches from the Northeast to the Mountain West and covers dozens of congressional districts in 14 states — most of them key presidential battlegrounds.
A strategist familiar with the buy said that with presidential candidates, outside interest groups and well-funded super PACs poised to unleash an unprecedented flood of ads, the committee wanted to lock in TV advertising early, before inventory is bought out and rates become more expensive. Operatives from both parties say they expect ad prices to skyrocket by summer.
Democrats, in particular, can’t afford to wait. While the party has been successful in keeping pace in fundraising with the National Republican Congressional Committee — the DCCC outraised the House GOP campaign arm last year despite being in the minority — the NRCC heads into the final seven months of the campaign with $4 million more cash on hand. 
According to the latest Federal Election Commission figures, the NRCC had $27.1 million cash on hand through the end of March, compared with $22.8 million for the Democrats.
Democrats say the purchase by the DCCC’s independent expenditure arm is just a first investment — money can be moved or added later. Still, there is a sense of urgency to their efforts, driven by the uphill climb confronting the party, particularly in the wake of a redistricting round that solidified the GOP majority. 
Democrats need to net 25 seats to retake the House but a gain of that many seats has occurred just six times in the past 20 election cycles — and just once in a presidential election year.
And the Republican response?
Behind the scenes, House Republicans are also taking steps to prepare for the coming fall campaign season. The NRCC recently tapped Joanna Burgos, a former committee spokeswoman, to oversee its independent expenditure effort, and GOP officials say they are also exploring the possibility of laying down an early TV buy. 
Republicans said the early Democratic move smacked of desperation. 
“We always knew Nancy Pelosi was going to have an uphill climb back to the speaker’s chair, but nobody could’ve predicted the DCCC would go into a prevent defense down five touchdowns in the first half,” said Paul Lindsay, an NRCC spokesman. “When you’re spending money on Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre, it’s not going to be a pleasant election cycle for House Democrats.”
NRCC spokesman Nat Sillin told the Bradenton Herald: “We always knew the DCCC was going to spend millions attacking members who have fought against President Obama’s job-destroying tax and spend agenda that has made Florida’s economy worse.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Home builders endorse Vanessa Baugh for Manatee County Commission

The Home Builders Association Manatee-Sarasota has endorsed Vanessa Baugh for the District 5 seat on the Manatee County Commission.

 "This is such an honor and I am thrilled to have the Home Builders Association behind me," Baugh, a Republican, said in a news release issued by the builders group. "We will work together to serve the citizens and businesses of Manatee County and especially those in District 5."

District 5 is comprised of eastern portions of Manatee County, including Lakewood Ranch. Incumbent Donna Hayes is not running for reelection.

Other candidates in the race include John Colon, a Republican; and James T. Golden, a Democrat.

Rep. Vern Buchanan loans $250,000 to his campaign; Fitzgerald collects more contributions in first quarter of '12 (UPDATED)

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has loaned his re-election campaign $250,000, as he braces for what increasingly looks like will be a heated battle versus Keith Fitzgerald for the local seat in Congress, according to his campaign and the Federal Elections Commission.

Without the loan, filings would have shown that Fitzgerald's campaign took in more contributions than Buchanan's during the first three months of the year.

The loan -- or as the Buchanan campaign termed it, the "investment" -- makes up a bulk of the $484,000 the campaign reported raising in the first quarter of 2012. In all, Buchanan has raised $1,762,681, finishing after expenses with $1,473,199 cash on hand, as of March 31, according to the FEC.

"It's clear that we will have the resources to spread our positive message of hope and opportunity," spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said in a statement. "We are appreciative of the tremendous support for Vern's agenda of creating jobs and growing the economy."

Tibbetts added that the loan shows the "personal commitment Vern brings to changing Washington and restoring prosperity to America."

Not counting the loan, Buchanan raised $234,000 in contributions during the first three months of the year -- $57,000 less than the $291,000 collected by Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, who entered the race in October, has raised a total of $516,220, and after expenses finished the quarter with $422,360, according to the FEC.

In a news release Monday, Fitzgerald's campaign said the fund-raising reports show it is gaining momentum among voters in the 16th Congressional District.

Fitzgerald indicated last week that how Buchanan funds his campaigns will be an issue in this election. In this election cycle, Buchanan has accepted more than $462,000 in contributions from political action committees, or PACs, compared to $92,600 collected by Fitzgerald.

"Unfortunately, Vern Buchanan has become a living breathing example of everything that is wrong with Congress. Taking huge amounts of money from every big special interest Washington has to offer and riddled with more scandals than any other member of Congress, Vern Buchanan is the problem.  With the help of so many supporters, we will solve that problem in November."

For a detailed look at the the candidates' campaign finance disclosures, including a list of donors, visit the Federal Elections Commission website.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lakewood Ranch business group says it's time to defeat Joe McClash

A Lakewood Ranch business group endorsed two Manatee County commissioners for re-election, but threw its support behind a challenger trying to oust long-time incumbent Joe McClash from the board.

The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, which says it represents almost 500 businesses and their employees, on Friday announced its endorsement of Betsy Benac, a former county government planner, challenging McClash for the Republican nomination for the at-large District 7 seat on the county commission.

The group also endorsed Larry Bustle and John Chappie for re-election representing District 1 and District 3, respectively. Both are Republicans.

Also, the alliance endorsed Linda Schaich, who is trying to replace Robert Gause on the Manatee County School Board; and school board candidate Robert Moates, who is running for the seat being vacated by Harry Kinnan.

School board races are nonpartisan.

Here is the complete list of endorsements.
  • Larry Bustle, Manatee County Board of County Commissioners, District 1.
  • John Chappie, Manatee County Board of County Commissioners, District 3.
  • Betsy Benac, Manatee County Board of County Commissioners, District 7.
  • Robert Moates, Manatee County School Board, District 2.
  • Linda Schaich, Manatee County School Board, District 4.
Here is a list of previous endorsements.
  • Tom Knight, Sarasota County sheriff.
  • Brad Steube, Manatee County Sheriff.
  • Ed Brodsky, State Attorney, 12th Judicial Circuit.
  • Larry Eger, Public Defender, 12th Judicial Circuit.
  • Vanessa Baugh, Manatee County Board of County Commissioners, District 5.
Other endorsements for other races will be announced later this year. Read more here:

Keith Fitzgerald reports almost $300,000 in new donations

Keith Fitzgerald says his campaign raised almost $300,000 in contributions during the first three months of 2012, an indication that the race for the local seat in Congress will -- at least financially -- be competitive.

Fitzgerald's announcement comes after Rep. Vern Buchanan's campaign this week told supporters he had raised more than $484,000 during the same period.

Fitzgerald, who officially entered the race in October, ended the quarter with more than $422,000 in the bank. Buchanan had $1.47 million in cash on hand, according to his campaign.

The campaigns have until Sunday to file their latest campaign finance reports with the Federal Elections Commission, and as of Friday morning the updated filings had not shown up on the FEC's website.

In total, Fitzgerald has raised more than $520,000 for his campaign, as of March 31. Buchanan, who was first elected to Congress in 2006, has raised more than $1.7 million.

Fitzgerald's fund-raising prowess has been key in his ability to draw support from the national Democratic Party, which has identified the race for the 13th Congressional District as key to its efforts to retake control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Already, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has promised Fitzgerald fund-raising and other support for his campaign.

In the most recent quarter, Fitzgerald's campaign said it received more than 1,500 individual contributions during the first quarter, averaging $136 each.

“I'm humbled to have the support of so many hardworking Floridians and seniors who simply want a representative willing to fight to protect Medicare, stand up for the middle-class and hold Congress accountable for how our tax dollars are spent," Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Florida legislative candidates file their latest campaign finance reports

He's running in a newly redrawn district, but that hasn't slowed down Bill Galvano's fund-raising for his campaign for a seat in the Florida Senate.

Galvano, running as a Republican in the new District 26, collected just more than $30,000 in contributions during the first quarter of 2012, bringing his total raised to more than $378,000, according to the Florida Division of Elections. He has spent a total of more than $164,000, leaving him with a nice cushion if anyone else chooses to enter the race.

The new District 26 includes almost all of Manatee County; all of Hardee and Desoto counties; and parts of Hillsborough, Highlands, Glades and Charlotte counties.

Parts of Manatee County, primarily in Palmetto and Bradenton, are in the new District 19, which runs south from Tampa. Incumbent Sen. Arthenia Joyner,, D-Tampa, raised $8,500 in the first quarter of 2012, bringing her total to more than $56,800, according to her filings.

On the House side, three incumbents who represent Manatee County have built huge fund-raising leads in their respective races -- even as they were limited in fund-raising because of the legislative session.

In District 71, Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, raised $6,000 in the first three months of this year, bringing his total to just more than $99,000. He has spent a little more than $9,200, according to the Division of Elections.

His only announced opposition, Democrat Adam Tebrugge, just entered the race last week, and has not reported any fund-raising.

In District 73, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton, raised $3,500 in the first quarter, bringing his total to almost $77,700. He has spent about $28,000, according to his campaign finance reports.

And in District 55, Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, raised $2,000, bringing his total to more than $41,000. He has spent almost $27,000 on his re-election effort, according to the Division of Elections.

Republican challenger Sharon Russ of St. Petersburg has raised a total of $715, according to her filings.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Memo: Buchanan ends quarter with almost $1.5 million in the bank (UPDATED x 2)

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan raised more than $484,000 in political contributions in the first three months of this year, and as of March 31 had $1.47 million in cash on hand for his re-election campaign.

Celena Thibodeaux, finance director for Buchanan's campaign, updated donors on the candidate's fundraising in a memo obtained by the Bradenton Herald.

"As you know, this is an election of historic importance to the future of our nation," Thibodeaux wrote. "Your contribution will allow us to spread Vern's positive message of economic growth, job creation and fiscal restraint."

Official campaign finance reports for the first quarter of 2012 are due to the Federal Elections Commission by April 15, and as of Monday Buchanan's campaign had not filed an update.

Keith Fitzgerald, the likely Democratic nominee in the 13th Congressional District, had almost $195,000 in the bank at the end of last year, according to his latest FEC filing.

Fitzgerald's fund-raising totals for the first quarter of 2012 were not available, but in a Facebook posting last week Fitzgerald said "we just finished our second successful fundraising quarter. The enthusiasm and generosity you have shown has been overwhelming."

In part because of his fund-raising success, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified the likely Buchanan-Fitzgerald contest as key to the national party's effort to re-take control of the House of Representatives.

A DCCC spokeswoman responded to the news of Buchanan's with a blistering reminder of continuing investigations related to Buchanan's fund-raising and other practices as he tries for a fourth term in Congress.

“It’s no surprise that Vern Buchanan who is under investigation for an ‘extensive and ongoing’ illegal campaign finance scheme to reimburse employees can raise campaign funds," said Stephanie Formas, in a statement. "While Congressman Buchanan is desperately raising money for his tough re-election bid, taxpayers are continuing to foot the bill for at least five investigations into Congressman Vern Buchanan’s unethical behavior."

The FEC closed an investigation of the alleged "scheme" described by Formas without taking action against the congressman. However, Buchanan's lawyers have acknowledged that a Justice Department investigation is continuing.

The House Ethics Committee also is reviewing allegations that Buchanan omitted certain positions and income from his financial disclosure reports.

Buchanan's Republican colleagues -- for whom Buchanan is a key fundraiser -- remain on his side.

“The negative attack and smear campaign by Keith Fitzgerald and his Washington, D.C. handlers is a desperate attempt to deflect attention from President Obama’s failed economic policies," said Nat Sillin, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. " Voters in Florida will hold Fitzgerald accountable for being a cheerleader for ObamaCare and the failed trillion dollar stimulus bill, and no amount of mudslinging by Fitzgerald will change that.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bradenton attorney Adam Tebrugge seeks seat in Florida House

Bradenton attorney Adam Tebrugge on Wednesday announced a bid for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives.

A Democrat, Tebrugge is seeking to unseat Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton.

Boyd currently is a member of the House, but he technically is not the incumbent in the newly drawn District 71 since the district was just created during the recent redistricting process. The district stretches from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Manatee County to Siesta Drive in Sarasota County, and includes most areas west of Tamiami Trail.

Tebrugge served as an assistant public defender for 23 years in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties, before running unsuccessfully for the top spot in 2008. The next year, he opened a private law office in Bradenton.

 “As a student of the law and an advocate for the people, I’m concerned that public policy is out of balance in Tallahassee,” Tebrugge said in a statement. “I felt compelled to run to give a voice to the people of Manatee and Sarasota counties.”

A Sarasota resident, Tebrugge has served as president of the Sarasota County Civic League, vice-chairman of the Sarasota Police Advisory Panel and most recently, as chairman of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Adam Tebrugge is married to Regina, who is an attorney, teacher and farmer. The couple lives in Sarasota and have two grown children.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Gov. Rick Scott to visit Sarasota to raise money for political committee

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will be in Sarasota on Thursday to raise money for his "Let's Get to Work" political action committee.

A fund-raising reception is set for 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Marina Jacks on the Sarasota waterfront.

Event co-chairs include Manatee builders Carlos Beruff and Pat Neal and their wives.

The suggested donation is $500 per person and $1,000 per couple. But as the invitation distributed by the Sarasota County Republican party notes, "maximum contribution by law is unlimited."

On its website, Let's Get to Work says it hopes to "foster accountability in government by identifying and communicating about conservative public officials and candidates who have track records of creating jobs, balancing budgets, and holding government accountable."

In two years, Let's Get to Work has raised almost $18 million, including $11.3 million from a trust controlled by the governor's wife Annette, according to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Beruff has donated $25,000.

To RSVP or for other details, contact Maryann Grgic at or 941-301-1929 or Debbie Alexander at 850-508-6080.