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Gov. Scott, former Gov. Martinez, 2006 Dem governor nominee Davis all on hand for business confab

Monday, April 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Not the Blue Man Group at Palm Beach County Convention Center but Gov. Rick Scott in odd lighting at a business gathering.

WEST PALM BEACH — After failing to persuade Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to enter the governor’s race this year, former U.S. Rep. and 2006 Democratic nominee for governor Jim Davis says he’s not ready to endorse either of the leading Democrats vying to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — who defeated Davis in the 2006 election — is favored to win the Democratic primary over former state Sen. Nan Rich.

“I spent a lot of time talking with Sen. Nelson because we need a strong governor to lead this state and unite this state,” Davis, a Tampa attorney, said while attending the Palm Beach Strategic Forum at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Davis said he hasn’t endorsed Crist or Rich because “I’m still coming off the Sen. Nelson effort.”

Former Rep. Ron Klein (left) and former Gov. Bob Martinez (center) repping Holland & Knight at the convention center.

Davis, former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez and former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein — all members of the Holland & Knight law firm — were on hand for the international business gathering.

Scott spoke briefly in the morning, touting job growth and a drop in unemployment in the state since he took office.

Martinez, who was governor from 1987 to 1991, said the economy should be a plus for Scott.

“The state’s doing real well economically. We weathered the storm as well and without incurring operational deficits. So basically speaking he’s got a real good platform to run from,” Martinez said.

Martinez, Florida’s only governor of Hispanic descent, was asked about the GOP’s poor standing with Hispanic voters.

“It’s sometimes a matter of communication,” Martinez said. “I don’t think there’s that much difference in policy. Sometimes it’s how you communicate policy. Sometimes it’s how you express your views. And I think there the party can do better in terms of explaining what we stand for and when there’s a difference of opinion not to be using hot-button words to describe differences, which too often, unfortunately, that’s done.”

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein takes leadership position at Florida Democratic Party

Friday, February 15th, 2013 by Dara Kam


Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein is taking a top fundraising spot at the Florida Democratic Party.

Klein, a Boca Raton lawyer ousted from Congress in 2010 by former U.S. Rep. Allen West, will take over as chairman of the state party’s Board of Trustees, according to a press release issued by FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant.

Veteran Democratic fundraiser Andrew Weinstein, a Coral Gables lawyer who served on President Obama’s national finance team, will be the party’s new finance chairman. The appointments are part of FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant’s restructuring of the party since she took over as its chief late last month.

“I couldn’t be more excited that Ron and Andrew are coming on board. They’re proven fundraisers and longtime veterans of Democratic campaigns. And they’re just as focused as I am on defeating Governor Rick Scott and electing Florida Democrats in 2014, 2016, and beyond,” Tant said on the blog.

Klein served as two terms in Congress and 14 years in the state legislature, including a stint as Senate Democratic Leader.

Romney’s Florida fundraising swing includes $50,000-a-plate Boca dinner

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 by George Bennett


Mitt Romney will make some money stops in Florida on Wednesday and Thursday, including a $50,000-a-plate dinner at private equity mogul Marc Leder‘s Boca Raton home.

Romney visits the Tampa home of Dick and Cornelia Corbett on Wednesday afternoon, then heads to Coral Gables for a reception at the Biltmore and a dinner at the home of Phil and Pat Frost. There’s also a Romney reception and private lunch in Jacksonville on Thursday before the presumptive Republican nominee arrives in Boca for a Thursday evening reception at Woodfield Country Club and then dinner at Leder’s nearby home.

In each city, Romney’s schedule includes a general reception for $2,500 donors, a VIP event with a photo opportunity for $10,000 contributors and a private meal for those who pony up $50,000.

Leder is the co-founder of Sun Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Boca Raton.

Leder has given $125,000 to the pro-Romney superPAC Restore Our Future and showered contributions on a variety of Republican candidates, including Sen. Marco Rubio and Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. In Florida’s 2012 Senate race, Leder gave $5,000 to Adam Hasner‘s GOP campaign before Hasner switched to a U.S. House race; Leder recently gave $2,500 to Rep. Connie Mack‘s Senate bid.

Leder also gave $4,800 to Charlie Crist‘s 2010 Senate bid before Crist bolted the GOP. And he has contributed to South Florida Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein.

Five past and present Democratic congressmen host Aronberg fundraiser

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 by George Bennett

Former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg — still the only announced candidate for Palm Beach County state attorney — will get fundraising help next month from U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and former Democratic Reps. Robert Wexler, Ron Klein and Harry Johnston.

The congressional quintet and former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth are on the host committee for the March 15 event at the Delray Beach home of Aronberg’s parents. Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioners Burt Aaronson, Shelley Vana and Priscilla Taylor and several Democratic club presidents and municipal officials are among the co-hosts.

With an April 20 candidate qualifying deadline approaching, Aronberg is the only candidate who has opened a campaign to replace State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, who is stepping down March 16 for a private sector job. Gov. Rick Scott will appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of McAuliffe’s term, which ends in January. Scott last week said he hasn’t decided whether he wants an appointee who will also run for the job in the fall.

Former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein says he’s an Obama bundler but not a D.C. lobbyist

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 by George Bennett

Ron Klein

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein of Boca Raton is all over the internets today after The Washington Free Beacon noted that Klein is registered as a lobbyist for Spirit Airlines and listed by President Obama‘s reelection campaign as a bundler who has raised between $200,000 and $500,000 — an apparent violation of the Obama campaign’s self-imposed ban on accepting money from lobbyists.

Klein, however, said he’s not a lobbyist and the registration listing him as one was a “mistake” by someone at Holland & Knight, the law and lobbying firm that hired attorney Klein last year.

“I brought the client in in my business-development work, but we have other people that do lobbying on Capitol Hill,” Klein said in an interview.

A form filed with Congress last month by Holland & Knight lists three lobbyists for Miramar-based Spirit: Klein, former Tampa Democratic Rep. Jim Davis and Lisa Barkovic, who was an aide to former Republican Rep. Mark Foley.

Klein said he’s not doing any lobbying, but is active in bringing clients to the firm and recently took a trip to Israel to recruit high-tech businesses. Klein said he’s also been active in raising money for Democrats, including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Defying history, Palm Beach County Democrats ponder incumbent protection

Monday, September 5th, 2011 by George Bennett

As Palm Beach County’s Democratic Party considers a measure to protect incumbents from “unnecessary” primary challenges, it’s worth noting that some of the biggest local Democratic names of the last two decades were once outsiders who challenged incumbents in Democratic primaries.

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler first gained office by ousting Democratic incumbent Don Childers in a 1990 state Senate primary. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein‘s electoral debut was unseating Steve Press in a 1992 Democratic state House primary. County Commissioner Burt Aaronson won his seat by toppling Carole Phillips in a 1992 Democratic primary.

After giving up her state House seat in 1992 to pursue a failed congressional bid, Lois Frankel made a comeback in 1994 by challenging the one-term incumbent who had replaced her, former Frankel aide Mimi McAndrews, and defeating her in a memorably bitter Democratic primary.

Facing state House term limits in 2000, Addie Greene set her sights on the county commission and pushed aside veteran incumbent Maude Ford Lee in a Democratic primary.

State Rep. Irving Slosberg first gained office in 2000 by beating incumbent Curt Levine in a Democratic state House primary.

Tax Collector Anne Gannon made a failed try to defeat incumbent Suzanne Jacobs in a 1994 Democratic state House primary. Before winning his seat in 2010, state Rep. Steve Perman tried and failed to oust Richard Machek in a 2006 Democratic state House primary.

Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher won her nonpartisan office in 2008 by defeating incumbent and fellow Democrat Arthur Anderson.

Former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein says he’ll sit out in 2012

Friday, March 25th, 2011 by George Bennett


Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein of Boca Raton says he won’t run for his old congressional seat next year.

That gives departing West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel a clearer shot at the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, in District 22. Frankel launched a campaign this week. Fort Lauderdale businessman Patrick Murphy has also opened a Democratic campaign.

Klein broke the news of his plans to the Sun-Sentinel‘s estimable Anthony Man before a Wednesday night Democratic event in Pompano Beach.

Klein, a two-term congressman who was defeated by West in November, recently took a job with the powerhouse Holland & Knight law firm. Klein’s 2006 campaign manger, Brian Smoot, has signed on as a consultant to Frankel.

Lois Frankel launches bid for Allen West’s congressional seat

Monday, March 21st, 2011 by George Bennett

Term-limited West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel announced today that she’s running for the congressional seat of freshman U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, setting up what could be yet another expensive, nationally watched race in Palm Beach-Broward District 22.

Democrat Frankel said she’ll focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but declined to outline specific policy stances in an interview today.


Frankel was a fiery liberal Democratic state House member before winning the first of two nonpartisan terms as West Palm Beach mayor in 2003. She lost a bitter 1992 Democratic primary runoff for Congress to eventual U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar.

District 22 includes much of coastal Palm Beach and Broward counties and is fairly evenly split between Republican and Democratic voters. But new boundaries will be drawn before the 2012 elections.

West is an outspoken conservative with a strong national following who won the district with 54.4 percent in November.

“Allen West’s record’s going to speak for itself,” Frankel said. “I believe the focus needs to be not on talk radio. The focus needs to be on working people — on people paying their mortgages, on people getting jobs and that should be the focus of Mr. West and the rest of Congress.”


Former Rep. Ron Klein joins powerhouse Holland & Knight government advocacy team

Friday, March 11th, 2011 by George Bennett


Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein has joined the powerhouse Holland & Knight law firm, where he’ll be part of a “government advocacy team” that also includes former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis.

Boca Raton attorney Klein will also be on the same team as Eric Eikenberg, who was chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist and to former Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw — the man Klein defeated in a nationally watched 2006 congressional race.

Klein was defeated last year by Republican Allen West and has not closed the door on the possibility of running for the seat again in 2012.

Klein said he’ll be working primarily from South Florida and will not be lobbying or registering as a lobbyist in his new job. He said he’ll provide clients advice on dealing with government, with an emphasis on health care, financial services and energy policy. Before going to Congress, Klein was a state House member and Senator for 14 years.


Top Dem recruiter in town looking for challenger to Allen West

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 by George Bennett

PALM BEACH — The head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is here looking for a 2012 challenger to freshman U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation.

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chatted with Tax Collector Anne Gannon today at the Four Seasons Resort about running in Palm Beach-Broward District 22. Israel breakfasted today with former Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, who lost to West in November, and said he has a “strong interest” in talking to term-limited West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel.

Israel and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi met Wednesday in Boca Raton with Patrick Murphy, a Coastal Construction VP who lives in Fort Lauderdale and is getting consulting advice from veteran Democratic strategist Eric Johnson.


Where Palm Beach County’s congressmen stand as the 2012 money chase begins

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by George Bennett

Rooney: early cash king

Federal candidates filed reports Monday showing their campaign bank account balances as of Dec. 31.

After raising and spending more than $6.5 million on his 2010 race to unseat Democrat Ron Klein, new U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, begins the 2012 cycle with only $52,459 in cash on hand. Should Klein attempt a comeback, he’ll begin with a mere $41,390 in the bank.

After a fairly easy glide to reelection in 2010, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, begins the 2012 cycle as the Palm Beach County delegation’s money leader with $432,474 in cash on hand.

Foley: seven-figure leftover account

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, reported $128,766 in cash on hand.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, reported $161,204 in cash on hand.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley still has more than $1.2 million in his campaign account. And former Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler’s campaign still has $320,673.

Lame duck Klein breaks with Pelosi, Dems on Bush tax cut vote

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 by George Bennett

Klein: one of 20 Dems to vote 'no.'

Republicans blasted U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, for voting the Democratic line 98 percent of the time, including his support for the landmark health care and stimulus bills. A billboard depicted Klein as a marionette controlled by liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Klein, who was defeated by Republican Allen West on Nov. 2, was one of 20 Democrats who bucked the party today and voted against a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts only for those making $250,000 a year or less.

The bill passed by a 234-to-188 margin. Click here to see the roll call.

Republicans favor a permanent extension of all the tax cuts. Klein during the campaign favored a one-year extension of all the tax cuts, and reiterated that position today.

“The middle class is the heart and soul of America, and I strongly support middle class tax cuts,” Klein said in a statement released by his office. “However, I couldn’t vote for today’s proposal because it just didn’t go far enough. I have said consistently over the last few months that I believe all tax cuts should be extended for one year while our economy recovers and we work out a stable, long-term tax structure that allows American families and business to reasonably plan ahead.”


On House floor, Rep. Ron Klein thanks constituents for ‘privilege of a lifetime’

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 by George Bennett


Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, defeated in his reelection bid Nov. 2, delivered parting remarks on the floor of the House late today.

“The opportunity to serve in this body has been the privilege of a lifetime,” said the two-term representative from Boca Raton, who lost to Republican Allen West.

Klein expressed pride in lining up bipartisan support for his homeowner insurance bill, closing the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” and helping veterans.

“Some might disagree with our policies,” Klein said. “But I think it is clear that each of us loves this country, and stood up for what we believe in the best way we know how.”

Read Klein’s complete remarks after the jump…


Klein’s statement on ‘hard-fought campaign’

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by George Bennett


U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, came into office during the Democratic wave of 2006 and was swept out during Tuesday’s Republican tsunami. Klein got 45.7 percent against Republican challenger Allen West.

Here’s a statement Klein released this afternoon:

“This has been a hard-fought campaign, and the votes are in. My family and I are deeply grateful for the strength and support we have received from our friends and neighbors in this community.

“It has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to serve South Florida as a public official for the last 18 years. For most of my adult life, I have dedicated every waking hour to doing my level best for this community. It is my home, and where my wife Dori and I have raised our family. We love this community, and remain devoted to the families and businesses here, both today and tomorrow. We will always find ways to serve, because difficult times require everyday people to give of themselves to move this country forward.”

Sierra Club funds ad attacking West over drilling and choosing Klein

Monday, October 25th, 2010 by John Lantigua

The Sierra Club has pumped $800, 000 into last minute television ads for three Democratic Party Congressional campaigns around the country and one of them is the District 22 race in South Florida.

“With ‘Big Oil’ doing everything they can to try to buy back Congress, today the Sierra Club launched three new television ads in key congressional races – Michigan’s 7th District, Arizona’s 8th District, and Florida’s 22nd District,” said a press release by the environmental group.

In District 22, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein,D-BocaRaton, is locked in a tight race with GOP contender Allen West.

The ad being screened in South Florida pictures smoke spewing from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded April 20 and was finally plugged Sept. 9, not before dumping millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The ad also shows a pelican covered in oil and then superimposes West next to an offshore oil rig.

“For five months BP spewed oil into the gulf – polluting Florida beaches and devastating our economy,” says the narrator. “ But Allen West still supports drilling for oil off the Florida coast. And West says he ‘sees nothing about the situation in the Gulf that will change his mind’”

“No wonder West received thousands in contributions from oil companies,” continues the ad. “Ron Klein has a better way – protect our beaches and develop alternative energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Ron Klein for Congress.”

The Klein/West race is believed to be the most heavily financed Congressional contest in the nation.

Bock shock: Klein-backing Dem says name on West invite a mistake

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by George Bennett

Palm Beach County Clerk ‘n’ Comptroller Sharon Bock, a Democrat who backs U.S. Rep. Ron Klein’s reelection bid, says she was “shocked” to see her name listed as a host for a fund-raiser for Republican challenger Allen West.

“I have no idea how my name would get on something like this,” Bock said this afternoon.

UPDATE: West campaign manager Josh Grodin said someone mentioned Bock as a potential host when the event was being organized and her name made it onto the invitation by mistake. Grodin said he had called Bock to apologize.

Rod Smith rejects Rick Scott’s Obama-liberal ‘metaphor’

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by George Bennett

Rod Smith and Alex Sink

Democrat Alex Sink’s running mate says Republican Rick Scott’s repeated invocations of President Obama “as a metaphor for all things liberal” won’t work in Florida governor’s race.

Rod Smith, the former state Senator who is Sink’s lieutenant governor pick, says Scott keeps bringing up Obama — including the term “Obama math” in Wednesday night’s debate — because he’s afraid to discuss the issues and his own past, which includes $1.7 billion in Medicare fraud fines paid by Scott’s former hosptial chain.

Liberal metaphor

“He is trying to link Alex Sink and Rod Smith to everything Obama — that’s his clear strategy. And the fact is that Alex is a fiscal conservative and I’ve probably been considered the most conservative Democrat in elected office in the last several years. So that’s not going to work,” Smith said while campaigning in West Palm Beach this morning with U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.

“He has to try to nationalize this election. He has no plan for Florida and he has no record to run on,” Smith said.


What’s the definition of ‘is?’ Sink camp releases Scott deposition video

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink’s campaign released a Clinton-esque video of her GOP opponent Rick Scott’s deposition in a 1995 lawsuit, one of several against his former hospital chain Columbia/HCA.

In the two-minute clip of the two-hour video of the deposition, Scott repeatedly answers the interrogator’s questions with questions, including this response when asked about a deal he allegedly struck with an El Paso doctor.

“I don’t know what the def — your definition or anybody’s definition of an ‘agreement’ is, or an ‘offer’ is, or ‘promise’ is,” Scott answered.

The video first surfaced in a report by The St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald.

Scott’s campaign folks contend the health care executive was trying to stave off money-grubbing lawyers.

Klein backer with biker ties calls West-Outlaws criticism ‘unfair…dirty politics’

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 by George Bennett

Former Democratic state Rep. and former Pompano Beach mayor John Rayson is backing Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein’s reelection bid. But Rayson, an attorney who used to represent a group of South Florida motorcycle clubs, says it’s “unfair…dirty politics” for Democrats to criticize Republican challenger Allen West for his brushes with the Outlaws biker club.

West said he’s not associated with the Outlaws, but was once shielded by some of them when he had to do a cellphone interview in a crowded club. He also told a supporter in an e-mail to make “no more references to ‘criminal’ “ in describing the Outlaws.

The national Outlaws organization was called a “highly organized criminal enterprise” in a June federal indictment of 27 Outlaws leaders. The Florida Outlaws website includes a page honoring “Brothers in Prison.”


New ad: ‘Without Col. West, my children would be fatherless…’

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 by George Bennett

After absorbing eight weeks of negative ads from Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, Republican challenger Allen West launches this testimonial spot in which a soldier who was under West’s command in Iraq says West gave him his body armor and saved his life.

“Without Colonel West, my children would be fatherless today,” says Sgt. Robert Delgado. “Allen put his men first then, and will put our country first now.”

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