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State certifies election with unofficial results from West-Murphy race

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Two weeks after the Nov. 6 election, Florida’s 2012 results are now official.

Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi this morning certified with special attention to St. Lucie County’s prolonged recount the nationally-watched U.S. House District 18 contest between tea party icon U.S. Rep. Allen West and newly-elected U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

After lawsuits and recounts, West conceded this morning.

Scott and the two Cabinet members, acting as the state Election Canvassing Commission, were about to certify the results of the presidential, statewide and multi-county races as well as a few special elections, Secretary of State Ken Detzner told them.

“However, I bring to your attention that the St. Lucie County official returns were not received by the statutory deadline of noon, Nov. 18,” Detzner said. Florida law mandates that if a county’s returns are not received by the Department of State by the deadline, “the date filed returns shall be ignored and the results on file at that shall be certified by the department,” Detzner said.

“Therefore, the results before you reflect the unofficial returns filed from St. Lucie County at noon, Nov. 18,” he went on.

But a final recount, which ended in St. Lucie County on Sunday, did not change the results or give West enough of an edge to trigger an automatic recount, Detzner noted.

Murphy has led by less than 1 percent since election night. Final results Sunday from Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties gave the Democrat a lead over West of 1,904 votes or 0.58 percent.

“If St. Lucie County had timely submitted its retabulated returns, those returns would not have affected the ultimate outcome of any race and would not have placed any race within the margin of a recount,” he said.

Gov. Rick Scott, whose tea party support helped boost him to victory two years ago, said he was confident that Murphy is the winner.

“That’s what all the numbers show,” Scott said. Having to certify the unofficial results is disappointing, Scott said, “but it didn’t impact the election.”

Frankel to team up with Pelosi for Medicare forum in North Boca Monday

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 by Dara Kam

Lois Frankel

Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel is adding a high-profile notch to her Congressional candidacy belt a week before the Aug. 14 Democratic primary.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.


U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the former House leader from California, will join Frankel for a Medicare forum at an assisted living facility in North Boca Raton Monday morning.

National Democrats, who’ve made the new Palm Beach-Broward District 22 one of their highest-priority races in the country, have thrown their clout behind Frankel in the race, thus far virtually ignoring the primary match-up against Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. They’re focused instead on the November contest against Republican Adam Hasner, who doesn’t have a primary.

While Pelosi’s a divisive figure on the national stage, appearing side-by-side with the often-vilified former majority leader just a week before the primary – and after early voting begins this weekend – likely won’t hurt Frankel with hard-core Dems who typically show up at the polls in primaries.

Frankel garnered the support of Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC chief, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, joined Frankel for a fundraiser earlier this year. Frankel jumped into the race last year in an effort to oust U.S. Rep. Allen West, who moved out of the coastal district after the GOP-dominated legislature redrew it with a Democratic edge.

The Monday event will be held at the The Veranda Club at 10:30 a.m.

CD 22: Underdog Jacobs outraises Frankel, Hasner eclipses both Dems

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 by Dara Kam

Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, the underdog in the U.S. House District 22 Democratic primary, outraised former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel by more than $9,000 over the last four weeks, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Jacobs – eclipsed overall in fundraising by Frankel, who has a year-long head start in the race, and with just a fraction of Frankel’s cash-on-hand – raised $59,230 in the short July 1- July 25 pre-primary period and another $8,000 since then, according to the reports. And Frankel collected $53,192 for the period and another $5,000 as of Aug. 2.

But GOP candidate Adam Hasner, who does not have a primary in the new Palm Beach-Broward congressional district, overshadowed both Democrats over the past month. Hasner raked in more than $172,847 and another $3,000, bringing his total for the short fundraising period to more than the Democrats’ combined contributions.

And, with $1 million in his campaign war chest as of July 25, Hasner had a slight edge over Frankel, who reported $950,000 cash on hand after spending more than $330,000 on TV ads and nearly $16,000 on polling. Jacobs had about $48,000 going into the Aug. 14 primary.

Frankel hires third campaign manager in campaign for Congress

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

Maybe the third time’s the charm for former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel’s Congressional campaign. The combative Democrat has hired Jonathon Bray as campaign manager #3 in her quest for U.S. House District 22.

Bray, 28, comes from North Carolina, should be an asset for Frankel in her Democratic primary against Broward County Commissioner. He recently left North Carolina state Rep. Patsy Keever’s congressional campaign, where as her campaign manager he successfully shepherded her through a Democratic primary in May. The Democratic operative was helped Kendrick Meek gather petitions to make it on the ballot in his failing bid for the U.S. Senate two years ago. Frankel’s spokesman Joshua Karp said Bray has strong family ties to Palm Beach County.

Bray replaces Greg Richardson, who Karp said left the campaign because of family health problems. Richardson fumbled when he sent a memo to Jacobs demanding that she resign from her Broward County Commission seat before Gov. Rick Scott can appoint a Republican replacement. Within hours, Richardson sent Jacobs’ campaign manager Marcia Monserrat a second memo, saying he misstakenly sent the e-mail and it was not approved by Frankel. Richardson left the campaign shortly afterwards but the memo mishap had nothing to do with his departure, Karp said.

“Greg was a phenomenal manager that Lois was lucky to have. Greg steered the campaign through a crucial phase, building the kind of network needed to take on Adam Hasner,” Karp said, referring to the GOP candidate in the District 22 race.

As with the Hasner reference by Karp, Frankel – the clear frontrunner in the race – is all but ignoring her challenger. Frankel is ahead in the polls, has the backing of numerous national heavyweights, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and has eclipsed Jacobs in fundraising. As of the latest campaign finance report filings on June 31, Frankel had nearly $1.4 million in her war chest – more than ten times the $75,000 cash-on-hand Jacobs reported.

Monserrat said Jacobs has had three campaign managers as well, sort of.

“Me, myself and I. That’s it,” she quipped.

Frankel scores big in quarterly fundraising

Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by Dara Kam

Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel nailed down $400,000 in this second quarter of fundraising for her congressional race, her campaign announced today.

That brings Frankel’s total contributions to a whopping $2.2 million and making her one of the country’s top-performing fundraisers, according to a press release issued by her campaign.

It’s the fifth quarter in a row in which Frankel raked in more than $300,000. Frankel’s the financial frontrunner District 22 Democratic primary pitting her against Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. The official campaign finance reports aren’t due to federal elections officials until July 15.

Frankel entered the District 22 race last year in a challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Allen West. But after state legislators redrew the Palm Beach-Broward district with a pronounced Democratic tilt, West opted to run for a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast district instead. Jacobs jumped in, setting up an all-female, Democratic duel.

Frankel’s press release boasting about her quarterly figures ignores the primary altogether and instead focuses on Republican District 22 candidate Adam Hasner.

“Our campaign continues to build a grassroots campaign based upon the idea of focusing on getting our economy working again. Over the next 5 months, Lois’ campaign will have the resources necessary to her message out in
Broward and Palm Beach Counties,” the release reads.

Also today, Frankel announced the endorsement of fellow Palm Beach County politico U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, while Jacobs announced the support of the SEIU labor union.

Mack supporters demand LeMieux go away to ‘benefit the entire party’

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Political and financial heavy-weights backing U.S. Rep. Connie Mack are asking George LeMieux step out of the U.S. Senate race, a “difficult and selfless step toward unifying our party now.”

Mack supporters sent a letter to LeMieux saying that with Mack leading in the polls, it’s time for LeMieux to drop out.

“Your withdrawal from the election and endorsement of Connie would be of great benefit to the entire Party as we turn now to the fall elections and unify behind our shared goal of stopping President Obama and Senator Nelson from doing any more damage to our state and country. We thank you for your dedicated service to our Party, and hope that you will not only recognize how important it is for conservatives to win in November, but that you will take the difficult and selfless step toward unifying our Party now,” the group wrote.

The ask comes just days after Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said some influential GOP’ers are trying to convince him to throw his hat into the race because they’re dissatisfied with both LeMieux and Mack and are worried that neither can oust incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

LeMieux spokeswoman Anna Nix responded with a swipe at Mack.

“With Mack the Fourth’s history of violence and financial misconduct, voters will no doubt realize he lacks the maturity to be a United States Senator. George LeMieux is the only candidate who can defeat Bill Nelson in November and end Harry Reid’s reign as Majority Leader,” Nix said in a statement.

Read the entire letter after the jump.
(more…)

Al Lawson to make another bid for Congress

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Veteran Tallahassee legislator Al Lawson, a Democrat, intends to run for Congress again, this time with the help of the GOP.

“Big Al” said he is going to make another stab at the Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, a tea party Republican who ousted long-time Democratic Congressman Allen Boyd in 2010.

After being termed out of the Senate in 2010, Lawson lost in a brutal primary by about 2,000 votes to Boyd, who held the seat for 16 years before losing to Southerland.

But the maps drawn by the Republican-dominated legislature, slated to be voted out of the Senate this week and sent on their way to Attorney General Pam Bondi and ultimately the courts for review, may give Lawson (and other Democrats) a leg up against the incumbent from Panama City.

Five GOP-leaning counties that helped Southerland get to Washington – Okaloosa, Walton, Dixie, Lafayette and Suwannee – will no longer be in the District 2 North Florida seat if the maps withstand Department of Justice scrutiny and expected legal challenges.

Lawson said one of the reasons he’s running again is because he didn’t like what Southerland said after Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot last summer. Southerland suggested his $174,000-a-year Congressional salary wasn’t worth the safety risks and the time away from his family and funeral home business.

“Throughout my political career, I’ve always fought hard for workers, for economic development and jobs for this district. And this Southerland complained about his $174,000 salary that was taking away from his business,” Lawson, who served in the Florida House and Senate for nearly three decades, said in a telephone interview. Lawson said he intends to formally file to run for the seat next week.

“He seems to be more concerned about the tea party than concerned about his distict where you have high unemployment, and people need somebody to fight for them in Congress. I have a 28-year history of doing that and it’s something the people need,” Lawson said. “I just need to retire him. And let him go back to the funeral home business.”

Lawson could face another veteran state lawmaker in what may be a crowded primary. Nancy Argenziano, a former Republican who switched to become an independent, wants to run as a Democrat for the seat. But she can’t because of a provision included in an election law (controversial for other reasons) approved by lawmakers last year and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in June. That provision bars candidates from switching parties one year before the qualifying period for the general election begins, meaning the candidate must be registered in the party for nearly 18 months before the 2012 November election. Argenziano, who served in both the state House and Senate and also as the chairwoman of the Florida Public Service Commission, is challenging that part of the election law in court.

State Rep. Leonard Bembry, a Greenville Democrat and Boyd look-alike, also intends to run for the seat.

Dems unleash robo-call attack on West

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

National Democrats launched an attack on U.S. Rep. Allen West today, blaming him for the failure of the Congressional “super committee” to reach a consensus and accusing the Plantation politician of “demanding more tax breaks for billionaires.”

Click here to listen to the robo-call.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unleashed the robo-calls today, and the campaign also includes live telephone calls, online ads and a website for voters to fill out letters to the editor today, according to a release issued by the DCCC. The calls are supposed to start going out to voters in West’s district that includes Palm Beach County today.

Democrats have targeted West in his reelection bid. The tea party favorite is being challenged by Democrat Patrick Murphy.

Here’s the script of the robo-call:

Hi, this is Rick calling on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee calling about Congressman Allen West and Republicans forcing the Super Committee to fail.

Americans demanded a bipartisan, big, bold, and balanced plan to reduce the deficit and grow our economy – but that’s not what we got. The Super Committee failed because Republicans insisted on extending the Bush tax breaks for millionaires and refusing to include a jobs proposal – while ending the Medicare guarantee! That’s something that Democrats stand strongly against.

By rejecting a balanced approach, Republicans chose to protect the wealthiest one percent at the expense of seniors and the middle class. Now they’re even talking about raising the payroll tax.

Please call Congressman West at 561-655-1943 and tell him it’s time to focus on us.

West slams door on U.S. Senate run

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

U.S. Rep. Allen West has officially shut the door on a U.S. Senate run and will instead seek reelection to his current seat, West said in a statement issued today.

The outspoken West, a tea party idol from Plantation and the only Republican in the Congressional Black Caucus, recently made news when he called himself a modern-day Harriet Tubman during an interview with FoxNews’ Bill O’Reilly.

“Over the last several weeks, numerous leaders of the Florida Republican Party, including current and past elected officials, have spoken to me about the race for the United States Senate. Out of respect, I was willing to listen,” West said in the release.

“I have been given one of the highest honors to serve in the House of Representatives and I will continue to serve the citizens in that capacity. I will not seek the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 2012. With regard to my future, the only goal I have is to do my very best to represent the constituents of the Congressional District and to restore the exceptionalism of our nation.”

Last week, West told reporters the door was open “a crack” to the possibility that he would run, saying it would be disrespectful to supporters to “slam the door in their face.”

Nancy Argenziano to run as Democrat against incumbent Southerland

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Nancy Argenziano, a former chairwoman of the Public Service Commission and lifelong Republican, is running against incumbent freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland – as a Democrat. Southerland, a Panama City Republican, ousted Congressional veteran Allen Boyd, a Democrat, from his North Florida District 2 seat in November.

Argenziano, who earned a reputation as a maverick during her tenure in both the state House and Senate, will formally enter the race for the North Florida Congressional seat within two weeks, Argenziano said.

Argenziano sent a letter to supporters declaring her intention to run as a Democrat, saying she needs at least $200,000 to be taken seriously as a candidate and to get the Democratic National Congressional Committee to throw some money her way.

Argenziano has been an outspoken critic of GOP leaders as a legislator and as a utility regulator, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist, and unleashed her sharp tongue in her message to supporters, explaining why she is switching parties. Crist also abandoned the GOP in a failing bid as an independent against now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Current Republican leaders have neither patience with nor allowance for honest elected officials, and they demand that members of the various legislatures – who, after all, have sworn to uphold the Constitution – instead just follow the hijacked party line and shut up,” Argenziano wrote. “While I am of the opinion that Americans are not ready to vote in a third party, greater parity of the two parties in state legislatures would allow for far better public policy. When one party – or one intransigent, ideological arm of a party – controls governmental and political policy, as in Florida, it breeds a dangerous hubris and promotes the worst kind of extremism and acceptance of those whose public service is merely a well paid hobby.”

West answers critics with cash

Monday, July 11th, 2011 by John Kennedy

After drawing some questions following what some thought was a tepid first-quarter fund-raising, U.S. Rep. Allen West unveiled a $1.5 million take Monday for his second three months of the year.

West’s campaign said the cash came from 23,500 contributors — what it took as a sign of widespread support for the first-term, Plantation Republican in a Broward-Palm Beach county district that has been a battleground for the past decade.

West collected $433,000 through March, third in the nation among freshmen Republicans. But West also was burning through cash quickly — raising alarms.

The GOP incumbent’s $1.5 million also eclipses the $450,000 second quarter by challenger Patrick Murphy, a first-time candidate who is facing former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel for the Democratic nomination. Murphy’s total topped his $321,000 debut quarter.

Frankel hasn’t reported the latest quarter, after totaling $254,605 through March. But she hinted Monday that she expects to keep pace with Murphy.

UPDATE: Haridopolos on Paul Ryan budget

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate President Mike Haridopolos took a stand on U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget but stopped short of an outright endorsement after being kicked off a conservative talk show yesterday.

Haridopolos, running in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, got hammered by opponents in the blogosphere and on Twitter for refusing to give a straight-up “yes” or “no” on the Ryan budget.

Hounded by a conservative talk radio host to take a stand, Haridopolos this afternoon released a statement that applauded Ryan’s spending plan but said it “must be amended to provided (sic) greater protections for Seniors.”

The Ryan plan’s most controversial feature is a proposal to change Medicare for those now 54 and younger from a defined-benefit program to one that provides subsidies for future retirees to purchase private insurance.

Here’s Haridopolos statement:

I absolutely support the goals of the Ryan Plan to cut federal government deficit spending and applaud Rep. Ryan’s bold leadership in putting forth an intelligent and serious plan to tackle the largest issue confronting our nation. Rep. Ryan’s leadership in actually putting forth a plan to tackle the deficit is in stark contrast to the irresponsibility demonstrated by President Obama and the Democratic Senate who have failed to pass a budget for over 750 days, adding trillions to the debt during that time. While I support almost every provision of the Ryan Plan, I believe that it must be amended to provided greater protections for Seniors.

Fighting for Seniors is not new to me. One of the main reasons I fought ObamaCare, including passing Florida’s Health Care Freedom Act, is because of the devastating cuts it dealt to Seniors, cutting $500 billion from Medicare to fund ObamaCare-Welfare programs.

Again, I absolutely support the goals of the Ryan Plan and believe in almost all of the provisions to cut federal government deficit spending and address entitlements. As a candidate for the US Senate, I am the only person in this race with a proven record of reforming entitlements [Medicaid, Government Pensions, and Welfare] and a demonstrated commitment to making cuts to balance the budget in the state of Florida without increasing taxes or fees.

Senate prez booted off conservative talk show

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate President Mike Haridopolos is the big cheese in his chamber but apparently not so much on conservative talk show host Ray Junior‘s turf.

Junior cut short a telephone interview with Haridopolos, who is running for U.S. Senate in what could be a brutal GOP primary, because the Merritt Island Republican refused to answer whether he would vote for U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget if elected.

As he did with The Palm Beach Post’s reporter George Bennett earlier this week, Haridopolos sidestepped questions about how he would vote on Ryan’s controversial spending plan.

Among the non-answers Haridopolos gave: “I’m not in the U.S. Senate but I am in the Florida Senate.”

After repeatedly asking Haridopolos to answer the question, an exasperated Junior wound up the interview.

“Get him off my phone. I don’t want anything to do with this guy. Get rid of him,” he told an aide.

Democrats try to dent Young; could Crist be in the wings?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee began airing radio ads Tuesday targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young and others in senior-heavy districts nationwide for supporting a budget proposal that could reduce Medicare spending.

Young,  80, is the longest serving Republican in Congress and represents Pinellas County. That’s also home to politician-in-waiting,  former Gov. Charlie Crist, an ex-Republican turned independent — oft-rumored to be considering becoming a Democrat. 

But in Tallahassee this week for the unveiling of his gubernatorial portrait, Crist downplayed such talk.

“I’ve heard a lot of that speculation,” Crist said of the party-switch scenario. But I’m paying all my attention to (wife) Carole and the rest of my family. And working hard for the people at (Orlando-based trial lawyer firm) Morgan & Morgan. I’m enjoying being an independent, it’s a great place to be.”

Crist also seemed to distance himself from running against Young, or looking to succeed him should the veteran congressman choose to retire. Asked if he might be on the 2012 ballot, Crist replied, “I doubt it.”

Scott testified in DC on pill mills – watch live

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee about prescription drug abuse.

Gov. Rick Scott will appear before a Congressional committee on Thursday to testify about prescription drug abuse.

Watch the hearing live now.

Scott will join Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat, at the hearing entitled “Warning: The Growing Danger of Prescription Drug Diversion” at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

Scott, who previously asked lawmakers for a repeal of the statewide prescription drug database law enforcement officials say is crucial in cracking down on prescription drug abuse, yesterday signed off on the latest state House pill mill bill that would keep the database, restrict doctors’ ability to dole out the drugs and establish new standards for pharmacies. The compromise raises hopes that the House and Senate will strike a deal on pill mill legislation before the session ends on May 6.

Democrat challenges ‘right wing extremist’ West

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Ft. Lauderdale businessman Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, is running against U.S. Rep. Allen West, a tea party favorite who unseated U.S. Rep. Ron Klein in November.

“I love my country. I love South Florida. I’m not going to stand by while right wing extremists like Allen West divide us,” Murphy, vice president of Coastal Environmental Services, said in a press release today announcing his candidacy for District 22, which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.

National Democrats have targeted West in next year’s elections.

“South Florida simply deserves better than what it’s now getting out of Washington. If we’re going to actually create jobs and protect families, we need representation that isn’t looking backwards,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s company specializes in disaster relief and environmental cleanup, and last year, the native Floridian spent six months in the Gulf of Mexico doing clean-up work after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. West, who lives in Plantation, supports offshore oil drilling.

Mica crafts rail run around Scott

Friday, February 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

U.S. Rep. John Mica has come up with a plan to thwart Gov. Rick Scott’s refusal of $2.4 billion for a high-speed rail project connecting Tampa and Orlando.

Mica, GOP chairman of the House Transportation Committee, is proposing that a “partial project rescue plan” that would substitute Orange and Osceola counties and Orlando for the state and allow the local governments to move forward with the initial 21-mile stretch.

“The first 21-mile section of the proposed corridor from the Orlando Airport to the Convention Center and Disney World holds the potential for not only being a viable project, but one that could turn a profit with a qualified private operator,” Mica said in a statement.

Mica’s plan would work like this:

· The initial operating segment would consist of 21 miles.

· The sub-grantees would consist of Orange, Osceola and the City of Orlando.

· The inter-local agreement would be crafted with these three initial participants, with the potential for additional future partners.

· The federal government would provide financial support for construction of the first segment, up to an agreed upon funding amount.

· The inter-local parties would solicit private sector proposals to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain the project.

· All parties would agree to proceed only if the project is financially viable and they had unanimous consent regarding the terms of ownership, development and operation of the project.

Earlier this week, tea party-backed Scott stunned fellow Republicans as well as Democrats by refusing highly sought-after federal government’s $2.4 billion in stimulus funds – 90 percent of the project’s total cost. Scott said he did not believe the rail ridership would support the project, potentially putting the state on the hook for future expenses.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave Florida’s Congressional delegation until Thursday to come up with an alternate plan that would alleviate the state’s responsibility for the remaining $280 million and any potential cost overruns.

According to the press release, Mica is awaiting a response from local officials.

“The ridership numbers for this 21-mile corridor would be some of the best in the United States and the world, and I believe could also return revenue to each of the participating partners,” Mica said.

It remains unclear whether Scott ultimately would have to sign off on the plan.

Hot ticket: Another Allen West SRO town hall meeting

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by George Bennett

West speaks to a packed gym at St. Mark's Catholic School in Boynton Beach.

BOYNTON BEACH — A standing-room-only crowd of 400 or more packed a gym Monday night for a town hall meeting with new U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, a few days after West drew about 400 to a town hall confab in Deerfield Beach.

It was an adoring throng for the most part, with West even getting applause when he announced where his district offices will be and eliciting a “Whoo-hoo!” from the audience when he said he’ll be on the Small Business Committee.

When it was time for Q and A, West said he wanted to hear first from people who didn’t vote for him.

He did. Read about it here.

How much clout will Florida gain with today’s census figures?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by George Bennett

The U.S. Census Bureau will release state-by-state population figures later this morning and reveal how many U.S. House seats each state will have beginning in 2012.

Florida, which has 25 House seats now, is expected to gain at least one and possibly two seats. That means the perennially up-for-grabs Sunshine State will also add one or two electoral votes for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Another big question: Will Florida overtake New York to become the nation’s third most populous state (after California and Texas)?

The figures are to be released at 11 a.m.

In the meantime, population buffs can check out the Census Bureau’s interactive map showing population and apportionment data from the 1910 through 2000 censuses. Note that Florida had fewer than 1 million people as recently as 1920 and only four congressional seats at the time. By the 2000 census, Florida’s population was nearly 16 million and it had 25 House seats and 27 electoral votes.

House budget chief trying to stake out “most conservative” in Congressional race

Monday, March 8th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Like many GOP candidates across the nation, including his pal former House Speaker Marco Rubio, House budget chief David Rivera is working the conservative angle in his Congressional run to replace U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Rivera was in Palm Beach County on Friday at a Club For Growth meeting at The Breakers.

He met with U.S. Rep. Tom Price, Chairman of the “Republican Study Committee,” the self-proclaimed “Caucus of House Conservatives.” Rivera said Price, a Georgia doctor who’s in charge of recruiting Congressional candidates in the South, promised to give his campaign a hand and gave him tips on how to woo other conservatives.

Rivera’s expected opponent, Senate Republican Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla, hasn’t officially entered the race yet. Diaz-Balart is jumping from his district to his brother Lincoln’s, a safer GOP seat. U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart isn’t seeking re-election this year.

“We discussed several policy issues, including health care reform as well as the overall political landscape and outlook for Republicans in the upcoming election,” Rivera, R-Miami, said.

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