A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
HIGH PRAISE: “Love this, keep it coming.” — Whitney Ray, Capitol News Service
NEW POLL: CHARLIE CRIST 48%, RICK SCOTT 34%
A statewide poll conducted May 23-25 asked about a possible Charlie Crist vs. Rick Scott match-up; the results: Charlie Crist 48%, Rick Scott 34%, Other 5%, Do Not Know 13%.
Crist leads in all key demographics, except among Hispanic voters. More details about the poll here.
CHECKING IN ON THE STATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN AS THE SUMMER BEGINS
“Pay more attention to Obama’s approval ratings,” insists Greg Sargeant of the Washington Post, “although as it turns out they basically tell the same story: It looks right now as if it’s going to be a close race. The most recent Gallup reading is a 48 percent/45 percent approval/disapproval spread, which continues to track almost exactly with where President George W. Bush was in May 2004, when his most recent approval number was 47%.”
As has been the case for a while now, Obama is doing worse than Nixon (62 percent approval in his most recent poll in 1972), Reagan (54 percent), and Clinton (55 percent) at the equivalent points in their terms, but he’s also doing solidly better than Carter (38 percent) and George H.W. Bush (41 percent and headed down).
The best news for Obama, I’d say, is that economic confidence continues to be moving in the right direction, with both the traditional Michigan index and Gallup’s confidence index reaching or matching post-recession highs. The worst news is easy: Europe.
CHECK OUT the completely redesigned Electoral-Vote.com for the latest election forecast based on the latest state polls.
JEB LEAVES THE DOOR OPEN: In an interview with Linkiesta, an independnent online news outlet in Italy, former Florida governor Jeb Bush says, “If Romney would offer me the post of vice president, I would consider the proposal very carefully.”
EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “The Shark Tusks Society Launches Twitter, Blog Site To Respond To Obama”
MARCO’S VP STOCK BACK ON THE RISE: After his speech last week to the South Carolina GOP, Sen. Rubio’s VP prospects are improving, says ABC’s Jon Karl.
CONNIE MACK ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIRS: Alan Bense, Jeb Bush, Jr. Charlie Bronson, Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, Bill McCollum, Stanley Tate, and John Thrasher.
RANDOM ENDORSEMENT OF THE DAY
Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, announced that she was supporting George LeMieux for US Senate.
“For years, I have known George LeMieux and seen the positive impact he has had on our state and nation,” said State Attorney Angela Corey. “During his time as the Deputy Attorney General, George fought for justice and successfully argued a death penalty case before the US Supreme Court. While serving in the Senate, George LeMieux made reducing the debt his top priority and showed true leadership. George has always been a friend to Northeast Florida and I look forward to seeing him serve us once again in the US Senate.”
Connie Mack is speaking to Orlando Chamber Business Leaders Luncheon today.
EXPECT BIGGER POLITICAL SPENDING FROM AIF, FLORIDA CHAMBER
“There should be little surprise that the state’s largest and most authoritative business advocates expect to be as — or more — engaged in the 2012 election cycle than they were in past campaigns,” reports Jim Turner of Sunshine State News.
>>>“AIF will be bringing the weight of its political resources to bear this election cycle,” Tom Feeney, AIF president and CEO stated in an email.
>>>The Chamber has already spent $1.9 million in the current cycle, less than half of the $5.5 million spent in the 2010 cycle.
17 funny names for Super PACs here.
BLOG POST OF THE DAY: FLORIDA DEMOCRATS’ LARGE-COUNTY PROBLEM
“What we found was that Democratic performance in statewide elections in urban counties is far from satisfactory and Gubernatorial candidates face far worse than Presidential and US Senate candidates,” writes Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Political Hurricane in the blog post of the day. “Even in Hillsborough County, home to the last three Democratic Party nominees for Governor, federal candidates have run stronger. In some counties, such as Orange and Volusia, the difference between Federal candidates and state candidates is striking.”
STAT OF THE DAY: the performance of Florida’s Democrats for state level office is the worst in South since the turn of the century and the third worst in the entire nation. (Only in Utah and Idaho do Democrats perform worse.)
LEADERSHIP FLORIDA: MEMBERS BUILDING A BETTER STATE FOR THIRTY YEARS
“In three decades, Florida has blossomed from a significant state of about 10 million residents to a bustling mega-state of almost 19 million,” writes Lila A. Jaber, Chair of Leadership Florida 2011-2012 and a shareholder in the Government Affairs section of the Gunster Yoakley & Stewart Law Firm. “In part, this transformation has been guided by Leadership Florida, a non-profit organization that develops leaders with a statewide, rather than parochial, view of Florida’s needs – all for the purpose of making Florida a better place in which to live and prosper.”
WAGES RISING ACROSS THE STATE
Wages and employment are going up in Florida and South Florida, according to the latest government statistics. Statewide, average weekly wages are $812, and South Florida is one of the highest-paying regions in Florida, according to Bureau of Labor statistics for the third quarter of 2011. But South Florida’s rate of wage growth is lower than Brevard, Pinellas, Seminole, Escambia, Hillsborough, Manatee and Duval counties, which had growth rates of 4.6 percent to 6.6 percent.
PRISON HEALTH PRIVATIZATION READY FOR RULING
With opponents arguing that lawmakers can’t make such changes in the “recesses of the budget,” a Leon County circuit judge heard arguments Tuesday about the constitutionality of a plan to contract with private companies for prison health services. Judge Kevin Carroll, who held a two-hour hearing, did not give a specific time when he will rule but indicated a decision might come early next week. The Florida Nurses Association and a state-employees union are challenging a legislative move last year to privatize health care at prisons throughout Florida.
PRO-MIKE WEINSTEIN LEADERSHIP FUND COLLECTING $25K CHECKS FROM JAX POWERBROKERS
“Bolstered by some of Jacksonville’s deepest pockets, state Senate candidate Mike Weinstein has jumped out to a large fundraising lead in what could be one of the state’s most hotly contested races,” reports Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union.
Since May 7, former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, insurance executive Tom Petway and CSX executive Michael Ward have each penned a $25,000 check to Investing in Florida’s Future, a political group started by Weinstein, a Republican who now serves in the Florida House.
BERNARD, CLEMENS, RADER JOSTLE IN SD 27
An open Senate seat in Palm Beach County has drawn the interest of three current and former lawmakers, all Democrats, in what could be a heated primary contest.
The candidates for Senate District 27 so far include Rep. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, Rep. Mack Bernard of West Palm Beach, and former Rep. Kevin Rader of Delray Beach.
… already, attention is turning to the primary electorate and finding a way for each candidate to distinguish themselves in a way that Rader identified himself — as the “better Democrat.” And one of those battles is over who would best defending lower- and middle-income voters in the Senate.
Clemens points to Rader’s job as an insurance agent and Bernard receiving a “Champion for Business” award from business lobby Associated Industries of Florida as evidence that they would support special interests in Tallahassee.
“It’s basically two business and big insurance candidates against one middle-class candidate,” he said. Full profile of this race here.
REP. SCOTT RANDOLPH WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION
Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, a standar-bearer of the left wing of the Democratic House caucus, confirmed Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election, but is considering a run for the state Democratic Party’s chairmanship.
LINDA STEWART TO RUN TO REPLACE RANDOLPH
Linda Stewart will announce her campaign for Florida House District 47 outside the Church Street Railroad Station in downtown Orlando. Stewart, who previously served as the Orange County Commissioner for District 4, will be joined by Orlando area Representative Scott Randolph. Stewart will speak about why she is running for the Florida House, her experience delivering real-world solutions for the people of Orange County, and her plans to help middle class Floridians.
REP. MATT CALDWELL WON’T BE ON CHRISTMAS CARD LIST OF SOME LEE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
“By advocating historic changes to local politics, Matt Caldwell, the state representative from Lehigh Acres, has roiled the Lee County commission,” reports Bob Rathberger.
“Caldwell is guiding a petition drive to revise the county charter and switch to single-member commission districts; has called for term limits for county commissioners; wants the county manager to be elected; and has questioned the way the county has handled its budget reserves.”
… “If Caldwell is worried his outspokenness might hurt him politically, he shrugs.”
Congressional candidate Karen Harrington endorsed by former Ambassador and GOP major domo Mel Sembler.
The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s JAXBIZ has endorsed Mike Weinstein for Senate District 4.
State Senate candidate Rachel Burgin announced a 150-member “grassroots support team.”
WHAT’S JORDAN RAYNOR UP TO?
Checking-in with Jordan Raynor, one of the smartest operatives working in online political media: “Citizinvestor is a new project I am involved in that is essentially Kickstarter for local government projects,” Raynor says. “Our service will allow local government entities like the City of St. Petersburg to post projects that they have already scored and approved to Citizinvestor.com where citizens can financially invest in the projects they care about most. Citizens only pay if a project meets 100% of its funding goal, and governments never pay to use our service, ensuring there’s no risk for everyone involved.” Follow Jordan at @JordanRaynor.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sean Bevil, aide to Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Phil Vangelakos.
ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: The Florida Department of State, Office of Cultural, Historical and Information Programs holds a conference call to get an update on the Viva Florida 500 initiative to commemorate Florida’s 500-year anniversary, or Quincentennial, of the landing of European explorer Juan Ponce de León. Participants will talk about how things are coming in various communities planning to mark the anniversary. Call-in details here.