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Archive for July, 2010

Meek to join Obama at August event, White House says

Saturday, July 31st, 2010 by George Bennett

Democratic Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek won’t be shut out when President Obama visits Miami for an Aug. 18 fund-raiser, the White House says.

“Save-the-date” notices for the event list Obama and Democratic governor candidate Alex Sink as “special guests” but don’t mention Meek.

“Congressman Meek will be joining the President at the August event,” a White House spokeswoman told The Palm Beach Post late today. There was no immediate word on what the “joining” will entail, but details of presidential visits are usually kept under wraps until the last minute.

Obama has endorsed Meek, but U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings and other Meek backers have been pressing the president to publicly show support for Meek, the party establishment favorite who’s in danger of losing the Aug. 24 Dem primary to late-arriving, big-spending Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

Presidential appearances on behalf of a candidate in a contested primary are rare but not unprecedented. Obama appeared with Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in May before the Keystone State’s Democratic primary, but it was no magic bullet for the party-switching incumbent. Specter lost to Joe Sestak.

Crist’s Monday Broward campaign swing scrubbed

Friday, July 30th, 2010 by George Bennett

Indie Gov. Charlie Crist’s Monday Senate campaign stop to Democrat-heavy Century Village of Pembroke Pines has been called off so he can attend the funeral of LeRoy Collins Jr. Crist will reschedule the event, consultant Eric Johnson said.

Obama, Sink ‘special guests’ for Miami event; what about Meek?

Friday, July 30th, 2010 by George Bennett

obamasinkevent

Democrats have been getting notices asking them to save Aug. 18 for a Miami reception featuring President Obama and governor candidate Alex Sink as “special guests.”

Yet to be revealed: time, specific location and what role, if any, there will be for Obama-endorsed but down-in-the-polls Senate candidate Kendrick Meek. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and others have been pressing Obama to visibly help Meek before his Aug. 24 primary against billionaire Jeff Greene.

While Dem Senate rivals fight, indie Crist to campaign at Broward Democratic bastion

Friday, July 30th, 2010 by George Bennett

UPDATE: The event has been canceled so Crist can attend the funeral of LeRoy Collins Jr. on Monday. Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist, the onetime “consistent conservative” GOP candidate who’s now drawing strong Democratic support in his bid for U.S. Senate, plans a campaign stop Monday morning at Democrat-heavy Century Village of Pembroke Pines in Broward County.

With Democratic Senate rivals Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek duking it out in an Aug. 24 primary, a new poll shows Crist leading the three-way general election race for Senate and neither Dem topping 17 percent.

Word of Crist’s foray into Broward County’s Democratic heartland comes from consultant Eric Johnson, the Democratic operative and former Robert Wexler chief of staff who was hired by Crist to help make inroads with South Florida Dems.

‘Not part of a fraud case’ says Meek TV spot responding to Greene attacks

Friday, July 30th, 2010 by George Bennett

In case anyone doubted that Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene is driving the discussion in the Democratic Senate primary with his saturation TV campaign and blizzard of mailings, check out rival Kendrick Meek’s latest ad.

As with Meek’s debut ad Monday, the customary feel-good phase in which a candidate introduces himself to voters has been reduced to three seconds consisting of a nice shot of Meek and his family walking in sunlight. The rest of the ad responds to Greene attacks and throws a few counter-punches.

“All of these news organizations reported Kendrick Meek is not part of a fraud case. And to say he’s against children’s health care is ridiculous,” a narrator says before swinging into an attack on Greene for making a fortune by betting on massive subprime mortgage defaults.

Poll: Crist leads 3-way Senate race, guv contest a squeaker; voters down on Obama, drilling, health care law

Friday, July 30th, 2010 by George Bennett

Crist

Crist

Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist leads the general election race for U.S. Senate with 37 percent to 32 percent for Republican Marco Rubio and 17 percent for leading Democrat Jeff Greene, a new Quinnipiac University poll finds.

If U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek is the Democratic nominee, he gets only 13 percent of the vote, with Crist at 39 percent and Rubio at 33 percent, the poll says. Crist was also the leader in an early-June Quinnipiac poll.

Quinnipiac finds a tight November governor’s race. In a poll that has a 3.2 percent margin of error, GOP frontrunner Rick Scott would get 29 percent to Democrat Alex Sink’s 27 percent, with independent Bud Chiles pulling 14 percent.

If Attorney General Bill McCollum is the Republican nominee, he tops Sink by a 27-to-26 percent margin, with Chiles at 14 percent.

Quinnipiac released polls Thursday showing wealthy self-financed outsiders Greene and Scott holding double-digit leads in their respective primaries.

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Hobo makeover for Rader in Democratic primary rival’s mailer?

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by George Bennett

Stubbly Rader

Stubbly Rader

There’s nothing unusual about a candidate putting an unflattering picture of his rival in a negative mailer. But a recent piece from Democratic state Senate hopeful Pete Burkert slamming primary rival Kevin Rader on insurance issues deserves special note.

The photo of Rader (above right) makes the state House member look like he went a week or so without a shave and borrowed Michael Corleone’s Nevada mobster suit from The Godfather II.

Rader, unaltered

Rader, unaltered

It’s as if someone enhanced Rader’s stubble, added some ear hair and sprinkled in some black forehead dots that look like failed hair plugs.

At left is what appears to be the original Rader photo (with a reversed negative) from a different Burkert mailer.

Burkert today said he wasn’t aware of any attempt by his campaign to alter Rader’s image.

Florida Chamber of Commerce backs Bondi in attorney general race, Benson nails down former GOP party bosses

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Pam Bondi, a Tampa lawyer and frequent FoxNews contributor on legal issues, for attorney general.

It’s the first time the business group has backed an attorney general candidate, according to a press release issued by the Chamber, which represents 139,000 businesses throughout the state.

The endorsement should come as no surprise for one of the political neophyte’s opponents in the GOP primary. Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, is a trial lawyer, whose association has engaged in a Hatfield-McCoy’s battle with the Chamber for years.

But the powerful business group’s backing may have caught the third GOP candidate in the primary off guard. Holly Benson, who served as secretary of both the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Agency for Health Care Administration, is a pro-business, anti-tort reform conservative who regularly got high ratings from business groups during her tenure in the Florida House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, former Republican Party of Florida chairmen Tom Slade and Carole Jean Jordan endorsed Benson yesterday in the three-way GOP primary.

That gives Benson a 2-to-1 former-RPOF-party-boss-endorsement lead over Bondi, who’s backed by former chairman Al Cardenas, a Jeb Bush ally. So far, none have come out in support for Kottkamp.

Poll: Wealthy outsiders Greene (+10) and Scott (+11) lead their Florida primaries

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by George Bennett

After spending millions of dollars of their own money on TV ads and mailers over the last three months, wealthy outsiders Jeff Greene and Rick Scott lead their respective primaries for the Democratic Senate nomination and Republican gubernatorial nomination, a new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters says.

In the Democratic Senate race, Palm Beach billionaire Greene has surged ahead of of U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and holds a 33-to-23 percent lead, the poll says. The race was a virtual tie in June, with Meek up by a 29-to-27 percent margin.

Former health care executive Scott leads Attorney General Bill McCollum by a 43-to-32 percent margin in the GOP governor’s primary. Scott had a 44-to-31 percent edge in Quinnipiac’s June poll.

The primaries are Aug. 24, with early voting beginning Aug. 9.

Scott’s lead appears more solid than Greene’s, other numbers in the poll suggest.

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Democrat Sink’s careful reactions to Arizona law, federal suit and today’s injunction

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by George Bennett

Sink

Sink

Democratic governor candidate and Florida CFO Alex Sink opposes bringing an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration to Florida. But she also faults the federal government for failing to enforce immigration laws or enact immigration reform.

With polls showing the Arizona law is popular among Florida voters, Sink’s pronouncements on the issue tend to be carefully worded statements that minimize explicit criticism of Arizona while emphasizing her displeasure with Washington.

Sink’s reaction to today’s temporary injunction blocking enforcement of key portions of the Arizona law is no exception.

Read more after the jump….

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Republican guv hopefuls Scott, McCollum criticize injunction blocking Arizona immigration law

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by George Bennett

Republican governor hopeful Rick Scott, whose pledge to bring an Arizona-style crackdown on immigration to Florida is a key component of his campaign, criticized a federal judge’s granting of a preliminary injunction today to block the implementation of key parts of the law until a federal lawsuit is resolved.

Scott’s GOP primary rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum, who filed an amicus brief supporting the Arizona law, also slammed the ruling.

Read the Republican reactions after the jump…..

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Meek won’t say if he’d support Dem primary rival Greene in general election for Senate seat

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by George Bennett

UPDATED with reaction from Greene’s campaign.

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene said at this month’s Florida Democratic Party dinner that he’d support U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in the general election if Meek wins the Aug. 24 Senate primary.

On a conference call today, Meek was asked if there is “any way” he could support Greene if Greene wins the primary.

Read Meek’s answer, and the Greene campaign’s response, after the jump…..

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Meek defends missing Iraq-Afghanistan war funding vote

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by George Bennett

Democratic U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, on a conference call with reporters, said he missed Tuesday’s vote on financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because it was originally scheduled for later in the week and moved up at the last minute.

Meek was campaigning in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach early Tuesday and didn’t get to Washington until it was too late, a spokesman said earlier today.

With Democrats increasingly divided on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, Meek said he would have joined the majority in the 308-114 House vote for more money for military operations.

“My record stands clear, that I’ve supported the men and women in uniform,” Meek said on the conference call. He noted the large margin by which the bill passed and added that “there was not a threat that the funding was not going to be approved.”

Why Hastings opposed Afghanistan war funding bill…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by George Bennett

Hastings

Hastings

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, voted against a spending bill Tuesday to continue financing the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill passed 308-114, with Hastings and 101 other House Democrats going against the wishes of President Obama.

Palm Beach County’s other House members — Democrats Ted Deutch and Ron Klein and Republican Tom Rooney — supported the bill.

Hastings Chief of Staff Lale Mamaux on Hastings’ vote:

Congressman Hastings joined a majority of his colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in voting against the supplemental appropriations bill. The Senate version of the bill that the House passed was stripped of critical domestic and CBC priorities (i.e. funding for teachers, police, and fire fighters, Pell Grants, youth summer jobs, TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, and settlement funds for the decades-old discrimination Pigford and Cobell lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Ag).

Furthermore, as it pertains to Afghanistan the Congressman believes that it is past time that we re-examine our strategy in Afghanistan. He is a co-sponsor of H.R. 5015, to require a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of US Forces from Afghanistan. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Jim McGovern on April 14, 2010.

Hastings votes against Afghanistan-Iraq war funding bill; Meek misses vote

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by George Bennett

With Democrats increasingly divided on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 308-to-114 late today for a supplemental spending bill that includes $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Obama’s request got more support from Republicans (160 votes) than Democrats (148 votes). Local U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, and Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, voted yes. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, joined 101 other Dems and 12 Republicans in voting no.

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, did not vote. Meek, who’s running for U.S. Senate, was campaigning in South Florida earlier in the day.

Click here to see the complete roll call.

Aronberg calls Gelber request for attorney general debates ‘political stunt’ but says yes…if

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

State Sen. Dave Aronberg agreed to his colleague Sen. Dan Gelber’s request for debates before the primary election…sort of.

Aronberg and Gelber are in a heated Democratic primary for attorney general, and Aronberg’s taken off the gloves and attacked his opponent for Gelber’s former law firm’s representation of BP.

Gelber says he resigned from Akerman Senterfitt, the state’s largest law firm that recently was retained by BP, days before Aronberg demanded it.

Gelber then sent Aronberg a letter asking for 11 debates before the Aug. 24 primary.

Aronberg responded today calling a request for that many debates – nearly three a week – a “political stunt” and dragging BP into the debate arena.

“The next Attorney General will probably spend the better part of this decade involved in litigation of the state versus BP, Halliburton and other parties who might share liability for this disaster. Therefore, as we work together to agree on our debate schedule, I want to insist that at least one of the debates be held there so the citizens of that region can hear our plans for fighting for them as their Attorney General,” Aronberg wrote in a letter to Gelber.

Aronberg also agreed to a debate outside of South Florida, home to both Democrats, in Tampa Bay or Orlando.

Another sheriffs lunch, another political veteran complaining about his wealthy outsider rival

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by George Bennett

FORT LAUDERDALE — For the second day in a row, members of the Florida Sheriffs Association spent part of their lunch listening to a veteran elected official complain about the wealthy outsider who has surged against him in a statewide primary.

On Monday it was Attorney General Bill McCollum, who has gone from party establishment favorite to underdog in the GOP governor’s primary against multimillionaire Rick Scott.

McCollum described his race as one in which “the other guy’s spending all these millions of dollars” and blasted Scott’s leadership of Columbia/HCA, which paid $1.7 billion in fines for Medicare fraud.

Today it was U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, whose easy path to the Democratic Senate nomination has been complicated by Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

“I think this race that I’m facing right now, as relates to this primary, running against a billionaire who just got here a few minutes ago and his depiction of who he is and who I am is going to be a real test for Floridians,” Meek said of Greene, who became a Florida resident in 2008.

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Florida finalist in Race to the Top education grant

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Florida made the final cut in the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grant, now competing with 18 other states for $3.4 billion in federal funds for education reforms.

Florida failed to get any of the money in the first round of competition in which Delaware and Tennessee received a total of about $600 million.

Part of the reason for that was that Florida’s plan lacked support from the teachers’ unions and the state’s 67 school boards, who this time around have contributed to the state’s plan.

Governor Charlie Crist will lead a delegation to Washington, D.C., in August to present Florida’s Race to the Top proposal. He’ll be accompanied by Education Commissioner Eric Smith and Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association.

Florida schools is now in the running for up to $700 million in federal funds for education reforms.

“Florida has worked diligently to bring together diverse support from superintendents, school board members, teachers and teacher associations for our Race to the Top application,” Crist said in a press release. “I am confident our team will clearly communicate why Florida’s past and present success will ensure bold education reforms that are critical to Florida’s future.”

The final winners are expected to be named by the end of September.

Greene goes double-negative on Meek in Dem Senate primary ad war

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by George Bennett

The above ad is titled “Crooked.” Below is “Too Corrupt.”

Undeterred by Democratic Senate primary rival Kendrick Meek’s “How dare you?” admonition at last month’s Palm Beach Post debate, Jeff Greene released two new ads today blasting U.S. Rep. Meek — with one specifically mentioning Meek’s mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek.

Carrie Meek got a $90,000 consulting fee and a was provided with a Cadillac Escalade from the developer of a failed Miami project for which Kendrick Meek sought federal money. The developer, Dennis Stackhouse, was later charged with fraud. Kendrick Meek hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing and said he didn’t know about his mother’s ties to Stackhouse.

“How dare you attack the character of my mother,” Kendrick Meek told Greene in the Post debate after Greene said Carrie Meek’s consulting job was “the only job you really created in the last few years.”

Meek made his TV debut Monday with an ad attacking Greene.

The primary is still four weeks away.

Democrat Meek airs first TV ad in Senate primary

Monday, July 26th, 2010 by George Bennett

After watching billionaire Democratic Senate primary rival Jeff Greene run more than two months’ worth of TV ads and go from nowhere to roughly even in the polls, Kendrick Meek joins the air war today with a 30-second spot that paints Greene as a party-changing, carpetbagging, credit-default-swapping enabler of economic ruin.

Meek spokesman Adam Sharon said the campaign has made a “significant” statewide ad buy.

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