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Sachs defeats Bogdanoff in brutal, costly Senate District 34 race

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach

After a brutal and expensive contest, Democratic state Sen. Maria Sachs is returning to Tallahassee after edging out GOP opponent Ellyn Bogdanoff in the state’s only battle between two incumbent lawmakers.

With nearly all precincts reporting, Sachs, a former prosecutor from Delray Beach, handily defeated Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, in Palm Beach County, winning more than 56 percent of the county votes. Bogdanoff maintained a lead in Broward County in the newly drawn, Democratic-leaning district.

Speaking to supporters at a Democratic victory party in West Palm Beach Tuesday night, Sachs called her victory a defeat of a political “machine” that “beat up a little guy.”

Instead, she added, “it’s the little guy here who beat them up.”

“And we didn’t do it with money, did we? We didn’t do it with limousines. We didn’t do it with phony TV ads. We didn’t do it with airplane banners. You know how we did it? We did it with people,” she said.

Sachs said the race wasn’t about her and Bogdanoff but “about the power of money of corporate greed and the arrogance of power trying to take over the people.”

Bogdanoff and Sachs were both elected to the Senate two years ago after serving in the state House. After redistricting, both women’s districts were redrawn and they opted to run for the new seat encompassing portions of southern Palm Beach County and northern Broward County.

The race was considered by leaders of both parties the most important legislative contest in the state. A Bogdanoff win would have allow Republicans to maintain a two-thirds majority in the chamber and meant a virtual carte blanche to pass legislation without cooperation from Democrats.

With a price tag estimated at up to $10 million, the District 34 race was one of the most expensive legislative races in Florida. And the contest was highlighted by ugly attacks on both sides with accusations involving limo rides, the Holocaust and abortion.

Sachs threatened to sue the state Republican party over a mailer she said scared Jewish voters. The mailer accused Sachs, whose husband is Jewish and who traveled to Israel with Gov. Rick Scott, of “a political power play” with her vote against the state budget that included funding for the Florida Holocaust Museum and holocaust survivors.

Palm Beach County Republican Party chief Sid Dinerstein also filed an ethics complaint against Sachs last month, accusing Sachs of breaking state law by neglecting to report her legislative salary as income and a Tallahassee condo she owns with her husband on her financial disclosure forms. And the Republican Party of Florida also ran TV ads accusing Sachs of more than $7,000 worth of limo rides without submitting receipts for the state-paid travel.

The Florida Democratic Party paid for ads accusing Bogdanoff of “crimes” including “child abandonment, senior abuse and neglect, plus forcing pregnant women to have ultrasounds,” referring to Bogdanoff’s votes on legislation and the budget.

Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz congratulated Sachs on her win but was unapologetic about the partisan attacks.

“Senator Bogdanoff ran a hard-fought campaign in a district where Republicans are less than one-third of registered voters. The hard work and vigor she displayed on the campaign trail comes second only to the dedication with which she has approached her role in the Senate. I am proud that our Republican Caucus strongly supported Senator Bogdanoff and that many members of our caucus raised resources to help her and came to South Florida to walk door-to-door for her. She will be truly missed in the Senate,” Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a statement. “I fully expect Ellyn Bogdanoff to resume her service to the people of Southeast Florida in future years. I congratulate Senator Maria Sachs on her victory and look forward to working across the aisle with her in the days ahead.”

Sachs joins a handful of Democrats who made surprising upsets in legislative races on Tuesday. Democrats ousted incumbent state Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, and nailed down two open seats in GOP-dominated Central Florida. Late Tuesday night, future House Speaker Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, appeared to be leading Democratic opponent by less than 100 votes.

Florida Dems ask Scott to extend early voting

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida Democrats are asking Gov. Rick Scott to extend early voting an extra day, blaming the GOP-backed changes to the election law that shrank the number of early voting days for long lines at the polls.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said Scott should take the lead from his predecessor Charlie Crist who extended early voting four years ago in response to long lines around the state and election machine problems in certain counties.

Lawmakers last year cut back on the number of early voting days from 14 to eight and did away with the final Sunday before Election Day. Democrats have historically used early voting in greater numbers than Republicans in Florida.

Although the number of early voters casting ballots was down in Palm Beach County from four years ago, voters are still having to wait in long lines, in part because of the 11 proposed constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by lawmakers. About a third of Florida voters are expected to vote early either by mail or in person before Tuesday’s election.

Voters in Palm Beach County continue to wait as much as two hours to cast ballots at the county’s 14 early polling places. On Wednesday, 14,615 voters cast ballots – down 90 votes from Saturday – the busiest day at the polls with 15,525 county voters casting early ballots.

Smith joined former state and senator Dan Gelber in making the demand on Scott.

Here’s Smith’s statement:

“In 2008, Floridians had 14 days of early voting — and Florida’s then Republican governor still found it necessary to extend early voting. The long lines at the polls show it was clearly a mistake for the GOP controlled Legislature in Tallahassee to cut early voting in half — but it is past time for Governor Scott to show some leadership and fix that mistake. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue: protecting the right of every eligible Floridian to make their voice heard by participating in our democracy is an American responsibility which every elected leader has sworn to uphold and defend. In light of of the record turnout this year, we call on Governor Scott to extend early voting hours in every county across Florida through Sunday, so that Florida citizens can exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right and freedom to participate in this election.

“To all Floridians of whatever persuasion, do not be deterred from casting your vote. It is the sacred duty of every citizen.”

Leading Republicans didn’t seem too interested Thursday in meeting Smith’s demand.

“There’s no unusual circumstances, no weather-related events,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, moments before leaving Tallahassee for a multi-city bus tour promoting presidential contender Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates.

“There’s nothing out there in the state of Florida that would create the basis for an emergency order,” Putnam said.

In 2008, Crist’s decision to extend daily hours of early voting stunned his then-fellow Republicans and was seen as helping President Obama claim Florida over Republican John McCain. Crist, who has abandoned the GOP, has been campaigning for Obama this fall.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll also dismissed the Democrats’ request.

“It’s not the end yet, and we still have Election Day as well, when people certainly can turn out to vote,” Carroll said.

UPDATE: Bill Clinton back in FL for five-city sweep including Palm Beach County tomorrow

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: President Bill Clinton, arguably the country’s most popular living president, will kick off a five-city Florida campaign blitz for President Obama tomorrow morning in Lake Worth. Clinton will appear at the Duncan Theater at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth. Doors open at 8 a.m., and Clinton is expected to speak around 9. Tickets aren’t required, but supporters can go online to sign up in advance here.

President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama’s chief surrogate, will be back in Palm Beach County tomorrow as part of a five-city Florida sweep just days after his last visit to Orlando on Monday.

Clinton will hold rallies in Ft. Myers, Palm Bay, St. Petersburg, somewhere in Palm Beach County and Tallahassee in the crucial swing state where polls show Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney neck-and-neck.

With early voting underway, both campaigns have pulled out the stops in Florida in an effort to get voters to the polls before Tuesday’s election.

Campaigning today in Florida, Michelle Obama is stumping in Jacksonville, where she’ll be joined by R&B icon Stevie Wonder this afternoon, Daytona Beach and Miami. Clinton visited West Palm Beach in mid-September.

Obama was scheduled to join Clinton on Monday but instead took a several day campaign hiatus in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Yesterday, he toured the devastated New Jersey shoreline with Gov. Chris Cristie, one of Romney’s chief supporters and who delivered the keynote address at the RNC in Tampa this summer.

The president, back on the campaign trail today, will be back in Florida with a visit to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

Romney was joined by Gov. Jeb Bush at rallies in Tampa and Coral Gables yesterday and will return to Florida before Tuesday’s election.

Obama team bullish with eight days to go

Monday, October 29th, 2012 by Dara Kam

President Obama’s campaign team held a bullish conference call with reporters shortly after President Clinton addressed an Orlando crowd Monday morning.

“We’re winning this race. And I say that not on the basis of some mystical faith in a wave that’s going to come or some hidden vote,” said Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod.

Axelrod said the Obama team’s confidence was based on “cold, hard, data-based” facts on early voting and swing state polls.

“You’re going to get spun and spun and spun in the next week,” he said. “In just eight days we’ll know who’s bluffing and who was not.”

In Florida, Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina said record-breaking early voting in some areas, including Jacksonville, overcame a GOP advantage in absentee ballots.

“That is a really strong, incredible sign of strength,” Messina said.

Some voters waited as long as six hours before casting their ballots, he said. “That’s what enthusiasm looks like.”

The Obama camp’s enthusiasm comes a day after Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker declared Romney the winner of Florida. Coker said Mitt Romney has nailed down the I-4 corridor crucial to a statewide sweep. In a poll of the region from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach conducted for The Tampa Bay Times and its media partners, Romney held a 51-45 percent edge over Obama with 4 percent undecided.

“Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida,” said Coker told the Times. “Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney’s going to win Florida.”

Obama dropped by an Orlando campaign office Sunday night before bailing on the Central Florida event with President Bill Clinton (who showed up with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson) and instead returning to the White House to monitor Hurricane Sandy threaten much of the Northeast.

“The president…has real responsibilities. Those responsibilities come first,” Axelrod said. “We’re obviously going to lose a bunch of campaign time but that’s as it has to be. We’ll try to make it up on the back end. It’s not a matter of optics. It’s a matter of responsibility.”

Obama’s aides pointed to polls showing the president leading in key swing states, including Iowa, Nevada and Virginia.

“As is befitting the Halloween season, Gov. Romney is running around the nation posing as an agent of change,” Axelrod said, adding that Romney’s economic plan would cost “middle class” $5 trillion in tax cuts “skewed to the wealthy” and a $2 trillion boost in defense spending the Pentagon is not seeking.

Romney’s plan is “an echo of the failed policies of the past,” he said.

“We’re going to be pounding that message everywhere in the final days of this campaign,” Axelrod said.

The Obama camp’s swagger drew sneers from the other side. Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski sent out the following e-mail shortly after the call.

“All – a couple things stuck out to us while we were listening to Axelrod and Messina on their call – they are extremely defensive about Pennsylvania acknowledging OFA and Restore Our Future are going up with ads, Bill Clinton will be headed to at least four states that were not on Messina’s map as of April 2012 and they are spending time reaffirming their confidence about Wisconsin – a state they won by 14 points in 2008. Oh, and Axelrod made it two days in a row that the campaign has attacked the Des Moines Register. You’re right Axe, 8 days and we’ll see who is bluffing.”

An exclusive Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of likely voters along the Interstate 4 corridor finds Romney leading Obama 51 percent to 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided.
“Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida,” said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll for the Times and its media partners. “Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney’s going to win Florida.”

Obama: ‘Reckless and wrong or steady and strong”

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Two days before early voting begins in Florida, President Obama wooed an overflow crowd in Ybor City, echoing his recent campaign themes of GOP presidential foe Mitt Romney as “reckless and wrong” for the country.

Obama hammered Romney on women’s issues, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of wanting to “turn back the clock 50 years” on women’s reproductive rights and stressing his administration’s support for women’s health care in the federal health care policy.

“Women should be making their own health care decisions,” Obama said to a cheering crowd of more than 8,500 attendees. “That’s where it belongs and that’s where it will stay as long as I’m president.”

Under pressure from Romney’s campaign for a lack of details regarding his plan for a second term, Obama urged supporters to visit his website to check out his five-point plan.

But the president made a slight gaffe when reaching for a copy of the plan that had slipped off the podium.

“Where’s my plan?” he joked.

Brandon resident Sharon Troupe said she plans to cast her ballot for Obama on Saturday, the first day of early voting.

“He’s doing the best and we are improving. Mitt Romney just wants to take us back and we can’t have that,” she said.

Overflow crowd at Ybor park near Obama HQ for prez visit

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A crowd appears to be spilling outside a city park blocks away from President Obama’s Florida campaign headquarters in anticipation of the Democrat’s appearance here shortly.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s been stumping with the president, spoke briefly at 8:30 this morning at Centennial Park. The crowd greeted Crist, a Republican-turned-independent who lives in nearby St. Petersburg, with a huge cheer.

The one-time U.S. Senate candidate reminded Obama supporters of the president’s aid to the state during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the awarding of $2.4 billion for a high-speed rail project in Central Florida. Gov. Rick Scott rejected the federal funds.

“He had our back. Florida, it’s time for us to have his back,” Crist said, echoing a line he’s frequently used promoting the president,” Crist said.

Obama, back in swing-state Florida after campaigning in Delray Beach Tuesday morning following Monday night’s final presidential debate Monday night, is expected to speak at 9 a.m.

‘No on 6′ launches third TV ad against abortion-related amendment

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 by Dara Kam

The “No on 6″ political committee, funded largely by Planned Parenthood organizations from around the country, launched a third television ad in Florida urging voters to reject a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with abortion.

The proposal, placed on the November ballot by the GOP-dominated legislature, would ban state money from being used to pay for abortions or insurance policies that cover the procedure except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger. The measure would also change privacy rights included in the state constitution used in previous court cases to strike down anti-abortion laws.

The latest ad, called “I’ve Seen First Hand,” features a doctor warning that Amendment 6 would bar insurance companies from covering abortions in pregnancies that could threaten a woman’s health.

“No on 6″ has earmarked at least $2 million for TV, radio and online ads before the Nov. 6 election.

A previous ad entitled “Don’t Let Politicians Play Doctor” features a Gov. Rick Scott look-alike barging into a woman’s examination with her doctor.

The “No on 6″ campaign’s first TV ad starred Sandra Fluke.

UPDATE: Bernard concedes, Appeals court upholds Clemens victory in SD 27 primary

Friday, October 19th, 2012 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: State Rep. Mack Bernard has conceded the Senate District 27 race to Democratic primary winner Jeff Clemens.
“I spoke to Sen. Jeff Clemens and congratulated him on a hard-fought race and I look forward to helping make sure we re-elect the president of the U.S. and make sure we get as many Democrats elected during this election,” Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, said.

Bernard said he won’t appeal an appellate court decision upholding Clemens’s 17-vote margin in the August primary.

“It’s time for us to move forward and to move on to the November election,” he said.

Clemens

State Rep. Jeff Clemens remains the winner in a Democratic primary for Senate District 27 after a three-judge panel unanimously upheld a lower court decision today. Clemens, D-Lake Worth, won the hotly contested battle by a slim 17-vote margin, prompting state Rep. Mack Bernard to sue.

Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, had asked the 1st District Court of Appeals to overturn Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis’s ruling that agreed with the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board’s rejection of 40 absentee ballots. The signatures on the ballots did not match the voters’ signatures on file with elections officials, the board and Lewis decided.

The appellate judges rejected arguments by Bernard’s lawyer J.C. Planas that Lewis should have considered information other than the two signatures, including affidavits filed by 23 of the 40 voters. The court heard oral arguments in the case yesterday.

“The statute explicitly states that the circuit court may not review or consider any other evidence,” the judges wrote in a short opinion issued today.

Bernard, a West Palm Beach Democrat, can appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

Skeptical judges hear arguments in Bernard appeal of Senate District 27 election

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A three-judge panel appeared skeptical Thursday of state Rep. Mack Bernard’s appeal of a lower court decision affirming his Democratic opponent Jeff Clemens as the winner in a Palm Beach County state senate race.

Bernard appealed Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis’s ruling that the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board was correct in rejecting 40 ballots in the District 27 race that Clemens won by 17 votes.

The canvassing board rejected the ballots because the signatures did not match the voters’ official signatures in the voter registration file, indicating they may have been fraudulent.

Representing Bernard, former state Rep. J.C. Planas argued during a hearing before the 1st District Court of Appeal on Thursday that Lewis should looked beyond just the signatures to determine whether the ballots were valid. Lewis rejected Planas’ request to introduce affidavits of the voters, many of whom are Haitian-American. Planas also said Thursday Lewis should have looked at the entire voter registration forms to determine whether the writing on the absentee ballots was made by the same person.

And, Planas argued, Lewis should have examined the ballots the canvassing board accepted as well as the ones they rejected to ensure that they were consistent.

But the three judges appeared unconvinced, saying that a new Florida law passed last year severely restricted Lewis’s ability to examine anything other than the signatures on the ballots and the signature in the voter registration file. The law was intended to limit protracted legal challenges over absentee ballots in elections.

“It’s almost like you’re asking us to rewrite the statute,” Judge Nikki Ann Clark said shortly after oral arguments began.
(more…)

Sandra Fluke joins Amend 6 opposition

Thursday, October 11th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Sandra Fluke has joined a cadre of abortion advocates urging voters to shoot down Amendment 6, a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot dealing with abortion.

The measure, one of 11 proposed changes to the constitution put on the ballot by the GOP-dominated legislature, would bar the spending of state money for abortions, something already banned by state and federal law. And it would do away with privacy restrictions in the state constitution used to strike down abortion restrictions on other proposed Florida laws.

Fluke drew national attention when Republicans refused to allow her to testify at a congressional hearing earlier this year about whether Georgetown University, a Catholic school where she was a law student, should be required to provide contraception coverage in its insurance plan. Palm Beach resident Rush Limbaugh drew condemnation for bashing attacking Fluke on his radio show, calling her a “slut.” He later apologized.

Realtors move another $1.5 million into Amendment 4 pro-property tax campaign committee

Monday, September 24th, 2012 by Dara Kam

State and national Realtors associations pumped another $1.5 million into a campaign pushing a constitutional amendment limiting property taxes mainly for nonhomestead property owners, bringing to $3.5 million the groups have raised so far, according to campaign finance records.

The Florida Association of Realtors added another $1 million on Aug. 31 and the National Association of Realtors gave $500,000 on Sept. 5 to the “Taxpayers First” political committee, the records show. The Florida group had already dumped more than $2 million into the campaign, which includes a slick “Tax Your Assets Off” marketing blitz, urging a “yes” vote on Amendment 4.

Amendment 4 would save money for first-time home buyers, rental property owners and snowbirds, and it could cut taxes for homestead owners who lose value on their homes.

Local governments oppose the amendment, one of 11 put on the November ballot by the GOP-dominated legislature, which state economists say could cost schools, counties and cities about $1.7 billion over four years.

The Florida Association of Counties recently set up the “Citizens for Local Decision Making” political committee but haven’t reported any contributions yet, the campaign finance records show.

More fallout from secret Romney tape: Moveon.org ad blasts GOP candidate for Hispanic wannabe remarks

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Moveon.org is releasing a Spanish-language television ad in key swing states Florida, Colorado and Nevada, blasting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for remarks he made this spring at a secretly-recorded Boca Raton fundraiser.

Romney, appearing at a Univision forum tonight, told supporters in May that he’d “have a better shot at winning” the election if his parents had been Mexican. Romney’s father was born in Mexico but was a U.S. citizen.

“I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino,” Romney said.

Speaking to the camera but addressing Romney in ad, a Hispanic woman lists issues that Romney’s been on the wrong side of for many Latino voters.

“You’ve pledged to kill the Dream Act, you’d enable the police harassment of Latinos in Arizona, and your party is trying to suppress Latino votes. But you joke that you wanna be one so you can win?” she says. “We’re not laughing, Gov. Romney. Because regardless of race a Presidential candidate who has such contempt for Latinos would never deserve our support.”

The ad, sponsored by the left-leaning Moveon.org PAC and PresentePAC+, will begin airing Thursday on Spanish television stations in Orlando, Tampa and Miami along with Las Vegas and Denver.

Romney holds fundraisers in Palm Beach County on Thursday

Friday, September 14th, 2012 by Dara Kam

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will hold two fundraisers in Palm Beach County on Thursday, the same day President Obama campaigns in Tampa and Miami.

Romney will be at the North Palm Beach home of Chris Cline for a VIP reception. The ask for a photo op with the former Massachusetts governor is $10,000 or a pledge to raise $25,000.

Later in the evening, Romney will attend a dinner hosted by Al and Dawn Hoffman in North Palm Beach. Al Hoffman, a developer, is a former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former ambassador to Portugal.

President Obama and First Lady to campaign in Florida next week

Thursday, September 13th, 2012 by Dara Kam

The First Couple will campaign in Florida next week.

President Obama will make stops in Tampa and Miami, his campaign announced in a press release today. No details are available yet about the events so not sure if there are any hugs on the agenda. The president just completed a two-day tour of Florida this weekend, including an event in West Palm Beach.

And Michelle Obama be in college towns Gainesville and Tallahassee on Monday. She’s attending a rally at the University of Florida first and then will meet with supporters at the Tallahassee Civic Center in the late afternoon.

On the GOP side, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will appear in Oldsmar on Saturday.

GOP moves Romney nomination up to Monday

Friday, August 24th, 2012 by Dara Kam

TAMPA – Mitt Romney will become the GOP’s official presidential nominee at the onset of the Republican National Convention on Monday, a break from tradition to keep the party faithful “on message,” according to Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus.

The decision about the early “roll call of states” wasn’t prompted by worries about Tropical Storm Isaac or to avert a disruption from Ron Paul backers, Priebus told reporters today. Rather, it’s about controlling the message.

“I just think it’s better for us to get all our business done in one shot … do everything on Monday, the nomination, all our rules and resolutions, get that done, so we can get on to telling the Mitt Romney story, how we’re going to help save our country,” he said.

The purpose of the early roll call was not to allow the convention to wind up before the scheduled end on Thursday if Isaac threatens the Tampa Bay region or to thwart Paul supporters from hijacking the nomination from the floor, he said.

“Oh no… It’s to get all the business of the party out of the way and get on with the two things, prosecuting Barack Obama, the promises he made and what he delivered, and telling the Mitt Romney story.”

Priebus also said he’s not worried about Tropical Storm Isaac.

“I’m feeling a lot better today than I was yesterday,” he said. “Right now we don’t have to change anything. Obviously we worry if this thing turns into a hurricane and the safety of people if it hits shore, but as far as the convention is concerned we’re full steam ahead and we’re going to have a great week.”

- Tampa Tribune staff writer William March contributed to this post.

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.

Former House Speaker Tom Gustafson to replace Goodman in state House run against Hager

Friday, July 27th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Palm Beach County Democrats will pick former House Speaker Tom Gustafson to run for state House District 89 race incumbent against state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, according to Palm Beach County Democratic party leader Mark Alan Siegel.

Gustafson, who represented Broward County in the House for more than a decade, will replace Pamela Goodman, who ended her campaign earlier this week because of her husband’s health problems.

The county Democratic Party executive committee will meet on Tuesday to officially make the selection, Siegel said.

Gustafson, a Wellington resident and the godfather of Tri-Rail, currently does not live in the Palm Beach County coastal district but said he’s had his Wellington house on the market for six months and had planned to move to the Boca Raton area before deciding to join the race.

Gustafson, 62, was elected to the Florida House in 1976 and served as speaker from 1988-1990 when Democrats controlled the legislature. His resume includes lengthy stints as a politician, lawyer and academic. Gustafson now serves as the director of research programs in the Finance and Administration Department at Florida International University but is retiring Tuesday, he said.

Gustafson specializes in community planning and transportation issues and was instrumental in the creation of Tri-Rail, which serves Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Gustafson said he wants to bring his multi-disciplinary expertise to Tallahassee again to help make the state a better place to live.

“The issues don’t change very much. They get updated. Things become more important one year than the next. But the rhythm stays the same,” Gustafson said. “The parties come and go in terms of who’s the majority. It changed before. It will change again. What is important is we have a state that needs attention. Politics is in the details. If you can work through the details with a focus and, in my case experience not only in politics but in the practice of law and academia, you can come up with good answers. And that’s what I hope to do.”

Democrats have targeted the District 89 race as one of their state priorities and were disappointed by the departure of Goodman, a former vice-president of the Florida League of Women Voters who had nearly universal support within the county.

Gustafson has been out of office for more than two decades and never represented Palm Beach County. Democratic operatives predicted Gustafson, who’s lived in Wellington for a decade but is well-known throughout the state, will be able to tap into resources far beyond the county to help fund the race against Hager, who has collected more than $100,000 for his reelection.

“I don’t think anyone except political aficionados will remember him but remember campaigns are about sharing and providing information,” Siegel said. “This is somebody who’s ready to hit the ground running.”

Mack leads Nelson in new poll

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 by Dara Kam

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack has opened up a 46-37 percent lead over incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll.

The statewide telephone survey of likley voters also found seven percent of voters preferred another candidate and 10 percent were undecided.

The latest numbers show a reversal of an April poll when Nelson edged out Mack by 47-36 percent. Since then former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux dropped out of the GOP contest.

Rasmussen Reports put the race into the “leans Republican” category because of the new poll.

Nelson’s drop may be attributed to the high-dollar ads launched by conservative groups who’ve spent more than $7 million so far blasting the Democrat. And American Crossroads, founded by George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, announced it has reserved another $6.2 million in air time to run attack ads against Nelson, who raised about $1.8 million this quarter and has about $11 million in the bank, according to his campaign.

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