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Dems will ‘shoot Obama out of a cannon’ at convention next week

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave Post on Politics a glimpse into what her party will do next week during their national convention in Charlotte.

Wasserman Schultz, in Tampa to counter the GOP’s national convention, also had a few snarky words for what she’d seen far from the opposition.

“Our convention next week is designed as being the most open, accessible, inclusive, participatory presidential nominating convention in history,” Wasserman Schultz said over a mushroom omelet at the Spain restaurant in downtown Tampa.

“We made a decision that our convention was not going to be the invitation-only, exclusive, only-the-elite-need-apply affair that this one has been,” she said.

“Ours is going to be one that, when we finish on Thursday night, will have shot President Obama out of a cannon into the fall campaign and leave with an enthusiastic, fired-up, broad base of supporters who understand that he’s been fighting for the middle class and working families and that he is someone who hasn’t done things the same old way.”

Here’s DWS’s take on the GOP’s glitzy fete thus far.

“I think that they have bent over backwards to run a fact-free convention,” she said. “Their convention has been a pretty nasty barrage of criticism that if they took a mirror and turned it around would be reflective of many of the policies that they’re criticizing that they themselves have embraced.”

Wasserman Schultz blasted GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who blamed Obama for an auto plant shutting down in Ryan’s hometown, Janesville, Wis. She said the plant was slated for closure before Obama was elected four years ago.

That was “a big jaw-dropper,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“It’s utter malarkey,” she said. “My overall sentiment so far is it’s really disappointing how cynical they obviously are and how willing they are to just say anything to get elected. We should aspire to better things in American politics,” she said.

Fla Dems edge out Republicans in voter registrations last month

Friday, April 13th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida Democrats are picking up steam heading into the general election, beating the GOP in lassoing new voters last month by 8 percent, according to data released by the Florida Democratic Party today.

Registered Democrats in Florida now total 4,955,094 – 40 percent of Florida’s 12,328,235 registered voters – as of April 1, holding a 4 percent lead of the GOP, with 4,408,461 registered voters. Twenty-four percent – 2,964,680 – of Floridians are registered with no party affiliation. And independents grew by a larger percentage than either party last month, with 41 percent of new voters, or 23,333, shunning both the GOP and the Dems.

While the Democrats are crowing about the new registration numbers, they’re still down overall from earlier this year. Figures released by the Division of Elections in January showed 40.5 percent of Floridians registered as Democrats and about 36.2 percent as Republicans.

And Democrats still hold a smaller lead over Republicans than four years ago, when the gap favored Democrats by 5.8 percent heading into the 2008 presidential elections.

But that didn’t stop Democratic party officials from bragging about the March registrations.

“The Republicans’ Tea Party extremism and their continued assault on women and the middle class is turning off Florida voters,” FDP executive director Scott Arceneaux said in a press release. “The Democratic message of economic fairness and helping businesses create jobs — coupled with our strong grassroots organizing across the state — set the stage for us to out-register Republicans yet again and maintain our overall registration advantage. Florida Democrats are entering the general election season strong.”

More Hispanics, the subject of intense outreach by the GOP, also registered as Democrats in March, beating out Republicans by 46 to 17 percent.

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.

Federal court says no to Scott administration on elections law rush-job, blames Florida for delay

Friday, October 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A federal court has turned down Gov. Rick Scott’s request for expedited review of four of Florida’s most contentious election law changes, blaming Scott’s administration itself for delays.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning asked the three-judge panel to decide whether the four election law changes violate the federal Voting Rights Act and earlier this month asked the panel to also rule on whether the act is unconstitutional and speed up its review. Browning said a decision is needed before the Florida’s early Jan. 31 presidential preference primary or the state could be in trouble for not having the same set of elections laws in all 67 counties. Five counties – Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe – require federal preclearance of voting rights laws. The rest of the counties have already implemented the changes, but the five counties cannot until federal officials or a federal court approves.

In a 12-page memo issued today, the judges chastised Florida for dragging out the process by side-stepping Department of Justice review. The court said Browning waited three weeks after Scott signed the law before sending it to the Justice Department for approval, removed four provisions of the law from the department’s review after 50 days and later asked the court to expedite its review.

“Thus, the present state of affairs is, at least to an extent, a matter of Florida’s own choosing,” judges wrote. “The Court is neither willing to rush to judgment on the complex statutory and constitutional issues raised in this case nor inclined to impose unreasonable litigation burdens upon the United States and Defendant-Intervenors simply because Florida chose to schedule its primary election early in the election season.”

Browning’s proposed schedule would have given the parties only 28 days to prepare for arguments and allowed the court just two to three weeks to hold hearings and draft an opinion, the judges wrote.

“The Court finds this extraordinarily abbreviated schedule to be unworkable,” they wrote.

UPDATE: FL Dems want to know – What have Republicans done for you lately?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Florida Republicans call the Dems new website “desperate.” This from Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Hughes: “With the most recent state reports showing RPOF outraised Florida Democrats by 5-to-1, it’s no surprise they are desperate to raise money. But this lame website demonstrates a level of desperation that is even worse than we thought possible. Instead of touting their anointed leaders, Barack Obama or Debbie Wasserman Schultz, they recycle ridiculous, cheap attacks. This tactic is more evidence why Floridians reject Democrats on Election Day.”

The Florida Democratic Party launched a new website today blaming Gov. Rick Scott and his fellow Republican lawmakers for the state’s dire economic straits.

The website accuses “Rickpublicans” of ethical lapses and causing teacher layoffs, among other things, and blasts Scott for “backsliding” on his campaign pledge to create 700,000 jobs over seven years as governor.

And the Dems remind viewers that Republicans have had a stranglehold on the state legisalture and governor’s mansion for more than a decade.

The site gives this definition of a “Rickpublican:”
1. Proper name for Florida Republicans wrought with greed and corruption who are hell-bent on selling out to the corporations and special interests while leaving Florida’s middle class families out-to-dry.

The Dems also use “Six Degrees of Separation” to link half a dozen GOP politicians – including Palm Beach County’s Adam Hanser and U.S. Rep. Allen West – to Scott, whose popularity among voters remains dim.

Chris Smith tapped as Senate Democratic Leader

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Sen. Chris Smith, whose district includes part of Palm Beach County, will head up the Senate Democratic caucus next year as the minority party tries to make inroads in a post-redistricting era.

With a 28-12 partisan split, Smith takes the reins of a caucus from Nan Rich in a GOP-dominated chamber. But by working with moderate Republicans, Democrats have helped put the brakes on conservative issues such as House Speaker Dean Cannon’s Supreme Court overhaul and a thorny immigration bill.

“Our numbers are few but we’ve been able to build coalitions,” the Fort Lauderdale lawyer said.

In a typical election year, Smith’s priorities would be to regain the two seats lost to Republicans last year – including former Sen. Dave Aronberg’s District 27 seat won by Lizbeth Benacquisto – or capture others.

But redistricting and the presidential elections leaves much of the 2012 work up in the air, Smith said.

“It changes so much with the political landscape. I’m sure two years ago Nan didn’t know the tea party was going to be so front and center. So who knows what’s going to happen in ’12. Hopefully after the Obama reelection the tea party will realize their five minutes of fame are up, we’ll be able to get down to some serious agenda of governing the state,” he said.

Rod Smith new Dem chief? ‘I believe I’ll be the appointee’

Thursday, November 18th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Despite grumblings from Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel to the contrary, former state Sen. Rod Smith insists he’ll be the next state party chairman.

“I believe I’ll be the appointee,” said Smith, a Gainesville-area former prosecutor who most recently was Alex Sink’s running-mate in her losing bid for governor.

His bid to replace Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman, who is retiring, got a boost yesterday when an officer of the Alachua County party stepped down to make room for Smith.

Smith would have to be elected the chairman of the county executive committee or state committee man before he can be eligible to run as head of the FDP.

Once that happens, Smith said he’ll continue to build support from activists, donors and other county leaders.

“It’s a process that’s ongoing. It sometimes appears slow and ponderous but it’s an important process that allows people to have input about their concerns,” Smith, 61, said.


State Dem party leader Thurman should step down, senator says

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

After getting trounced in the Florida House and Senate races and a GOP sweep of the Cabinet, state Sen. Jeremy Ring is demanding that Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman resign.

“With the momentum of all the losses on the Democratic sides, there needs to be new leadership. Karen Thurman needs to resign. Immediately,” Ring, D-Margate, said of the Florida Democratic Party chairwoman early today.

Republicans swept the Cabinet seats and won a veto-proof majority in both the state Senate and ultimately recaptured the governor’s seat after Palm Beach County’s election returns left Rick Scott’s victory in the lurch overnight.

Ring, a moderate Democrat who frequently votes with Republicans, said the “election activities of the Republicans trumping the Democrats” at polling places he visited on Election Day demonstrate that his party is in a shambles.

“Whether it was hundreds of more signs and volunteers and palm cards and all the precincts covered, I didn’t see any coordinated effort on the Democratic side yesterday,” Ring said.

Ring was among several prominent Democrats who tried to oust Thurman when she was reelected as chairwoman two years ago.

Those efforts failed because no replacement could be found, Ring said.

He blamed Thurman for that.

“Part of any leader’s job is not to only raise money and recruit candidates but they should recruit their successor…part of her job is to have a succession plan. Clearly there isn’t one,” he said.

Republican Sen. Alex Villalobos backs Sink

Monday, September 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for governor, is continuing her efforts to make inroads with Republicans with the support of term-limited state Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami.

Villalobos previously broke ranks with his party by endorsing Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist in his bid for U.S. Senate.

Sink’s banking on her business background and reputation as a fiscal conservative to sway Republican voters away from her GOP opponent Rick Scott who defeated Attorney General Bill McCollum in a nasty primary last month.

Villalobos has plenty of reasons to shun his party. Former Gov. Jeb Bush joined Villalobos’ fellow GOP senators four years ago in a campaign to unseat the incumbent by backing his opponent in a brutal primary. Villalobos won.

Democratic Governors’ Assoc. gives cash infusion to Fla Dems for Sink race

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Democratic Governors Association gave Florida Democrats a $2 million cash infusion to aid Alex Sink in her race against Rick Scott, Politico is reporting this morning.

According to Politico, the DGA wired the cash into the Florida Democratic Party’s account and will be spent on television ads.

Democrats nationally are eying the Florida race with the hope that Chief Financial Officer Sink can score a coup for Democrats, who’ve been out of the governor’s mansion since former Lt. Gov. Buddy McKay lost to Jeb Bush in 1998. Sink’s husband Bill McBride made a losing against Bush four years later.

Scott spent more than $50 million of his own money – much of it on advertising – to defeat Attorney General Bill McCollum in the GOP primary last month.

Independent Chiles out of governor’s race, backs Dem Sink

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 by Dara Kam

“Bud” Chiles will officially drop out of the governor’s race tomorrow and is throwing his support behind the Democratic nominee, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Chiles – the son of Florida’s last Democrat governor, the late Lawton Chiles for whom he was named -could have been a spoiler in the governor’s race for Democrats who feared the independent candidate could be the Ralph Nader of Florida elections by pulling votes away from Sink. Many Democrats blamed Al Gore’s 2000 election loss to President George W. Bush on Green Party candidate Nader. Gore lost by 537 votes; Nader received 97,421.

Meek calls Sachs defection to Crist ‘strange’

Monday, August 30th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Just two weeks after publicly pumping up U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary race against Jeff Greene, state senator-to-be Maria Sachs yesterday pulled a switch and endorsed Meek’s general election rival Gov. Charlie Crist.

Meek said Sachs, a Delray Beach lawyer, signed an endorsement pledge for him in December and called the switcheroo “strange” especially because Palm Beach County Democrats virtually anointed her to fill U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch’s seat when he left the state senate to go to Washington.

“She spoke very passionately two weeks ago of her support of my candidacy, felt that I should be the next U.S. Senator of Florida,” Meek said at a roundtable with reporters this morning.


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

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: Top House Dem calls GOP transportation budget job-killer

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 by Dara Kam

In a tongue-in-cheek hint of what will likely take place during a budget debate on the floor tomorrow, House Democratic Leader-to-be Ron Saunders filed an amendment on a transportation bill that sweeps nearly $150 million from road projects to fill a $3.2 billion spending gap.

The veteran Key West lawmaker’s amendment renames the transportation bill the “Job Killer Act of 2010.”

Look for Democrats to try to amend the budget mainly in the House but without much success.

As evidence, House Majority Leader Adam Hasner offered his own amendment to counter Saunders’.

Hasner, R-Delray Beach, wants to name the bill (HB 5503) the “Protecting Healthcare and Education Funding Act of 2010.”

The Senate is expected to debate and amend its budget and pass it out so they can cancel session on Thursday and get in a longer Easter weekend.

Dems spoof state GOP credit card scandal with ‘priceless’ video

Friday, February 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Capitalizing on the scandal erupting over the state GOP’s credit card spending, national Democrats released a video take-off of the MasterCard “Priceless” television campaign.

The spoof highlights some of the Republican Party of Florida-issued credit card charges now-U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio made when Florida House Speaker, including $1,000 in repairs to his family mini-van.

“Getting your personal bills paid for by the Republican Party of Florida like Marco Rubio: Priceless,” the Democratic National Committee video mocks.

The state GOP may get some unwanted mail as a result of the “Priceless” satire.

“Want your bills paid for by the Republican Party of Florida? Just send them in. 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301,” it concludes.

The DNC ad targets Rubio at a time when the once-long-shot candidate’s popularity is soaring while his GOP primary opponent Gov. Charlie Crist’s is on the wane.

Obama picks Palm Beach Dem donor for UN post

Thursday, September 24th, 2009 by Dara Kam

President Barack Obama tapped Palm Beach Democratic supporter and Hillary Clinton pal Elaine Schuster to represent the U.S. at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate.

The Schusters, who also own a home in Boston, are philanthropists who have held fundraisers for Democratic candidates at their Jungle Road home. In 2007, they donated $5 million to Brandeis University’s Institute for Investigative Journalism, which was renamed after them. shows support for public option – with campaign cash

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 by Dara Kam launched a website to urge contributors to give to Democratic Congressmen who back a public health care option despite the toll the health care reforms have taken on President Barack Obama’s popularity here in Florida.

The organization’s website claims to have raised nearly $250,000 from more than 4,000 supporters for Democrats.

“Democratic members of Congress need to understand that a healthcare reform bill with a Public Option is simply not an option– it’s a requirement. The congressmembers on this list have said in no uncertain terms that they will not vote for a bill without a public option all the way through Conference. That takes courage, and we need to show them how much we appreciate them for doing so,” the website urges.

Recipients include Floridian U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler of Delray Beach, Corrine Brown of Jacksonville and Alcee Hastings of Miramar. Wexler and Hastings held a jam-packed health care town hall meeting in Delray Beach today.

Wexler received $3,610 from the site. Brown pulled in $3,306 and Hastings $3,195.

State GOP “impotent,” former chairman says

Friday, July 24th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Infighting within the state GOP has weakened the party so badly that it is verging on irrelevant, a former party chairman says — despite its overwhelming dominance in the legislature and its decade-long lock on the governor’s office.

Other Republican leaders charge that current party Chairman Jim Greer and, by default, Gov. Charlie Crist are out of sync with what grass-roots Republicans want.

“It would be hard to imagine us being any more impotent than we appear to be right at this point,” said former state Republican Chairman Tom Slade, who headed the party from 1993 to 1999. That was a period when the GOP took over the state House and Senate and sent Jeb Bush to the governor’s mansion.

Greer flexed his political muscles this year when he tried to use a parliamentary procedure to hamper former state House Speaker Marco Rubio’s candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez. Crist had jumped into the Senate race in May, garnering Greer’s support immediately.

That transformed what had been a whisper campaign against Greer into public criticism from county leaders and others throughout the state, who said the chairman had gone too far.

Rubio later characterized the Senate GOP primary as a battle for the “heart and soul” of the Republican Party in Florida.

But Greer, hand-picked by Crist, says the party is doing just fine and blames reports of its demise on a few disgruntled but vocal outliers.

“I don’t think that the party has anywhere near the problems that some are promoting in the state. In fact, I think this party in Florida is very strong and I see it each and every day,” Greer said in a telephone interview.


State GOP: We’re not falling apart!

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 by Dara Kam

Fueled by a recent Orlando Sentinel column advising that the state GOP wise up or continue to lose its domination of Florida politics, the RPOF is striking back.

National committeeman Paul Senft penned a rebuttal to Jane Healy’s column asserting that the Republican Party of Florida is just fine, thanks very much.

Despite Barack Obama’s Florida win in last year’s presidential election, Republicans held on to down-ticket seats and picked up a Congressional seat, ousting former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney from Palm Beach County, Senft pointed out.

And while it’s true that GOP voter registration is slipping, that’s nothing new in Florida, Senft wrote.

So what if the Dems have also reversed their years-long fundraising slump.

Not to worry, according to Senft.

“If Democrats couldn’t produce down-ticket results in a year with more money, resources and momentum than they have ever had, I don’t see how they’ll do it in 2010,” he wrote.

But Senft’s op-ed may do little to quell dissension in a party whose dirty laundry is increasingly being aired in public.

RPOF Chairman Jim Greer has earned the wrath of the right-wing “Liberty Caucus,” a conservative group of libertarians whose leaders are being targeted by Greer for ouster at the upcoming convention.

Like many other conservatives, Greer ticked off the caucus by his early endorsement of pal Gov. Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race and his efforts to quash a GOP primary with former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Meanwhile the St. Johns County GOP are trying to oust the Liberty Caucus’ state chairman, Will Pitts, from the party and remove other critics from their committee posts.

Greer’s strong-arm tactics and dismissal of right-wing darling Rubio coupled with growing dissatisfaction among die-hard Republicans with Crist’s moderate stance have left the party in disarray, critics within the party charge.

They say the party leadership is out of touch with the base and this could hurt them in next year’s elections.

The grievances against the rogue Republicans will be heard this weekend.

FDP Executive Director goes to Washington

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Joseph Leonard is going to work for President Barack Obama’s administration.

img00027-20090715-1229Joseph, 34, is taking over as chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Policy.

The Dems tapped a Florida outsider, Scott Arcenaux, to replace Joseph as ED and also serve as political director.

Joseph, who also worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign, has been at the ED post for about three years and first went to work for the state party in 2005.

Arcenaux was also executive director for the Louisiana state party and was U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s national political director in his losing presidential bid.

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