***On the eve of the Republican National Convention, several of Florida’s leading political and public affairs consultants will be hosting an invitation-only party in St. Peterburg. The “Full Lid Party” will be the go-to after party following the official welcome reception at Tropicana Field. Click here for more information and tickets.***
HAPPY ELECTION DAY: Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday for the primary election to determine party candidates for the races leading to the November elections.
PRESIDENTIAL RACE REMAINS CLOSE
A new Politico/George Washington University Battleground poll conducted just before Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan and his running mate found a very tight presidential race. President Obama leads Romney by just one point among likely voters, 48% to 47%.
“Both candidates also maintained their previous advantages among specific demographic groups. Romney leads among independent voters by 10 points, 47 percent to 37 percent, the same margin he had in May. And Obama continues his advantage among female voters by 15 points – also similar to his May margin.”
NO KIDDING: FLORIDA MAY DECIDE ELECTION
First Read notes that while it’s possible for Romney to get to 270 electoral votes without Florida — it’s extremely unlikely: “If Obama were to win Florida, Romney would need to win CO, IA, NV, NH, NC VA, and WI. In other words, he’d have to run the table.”
OBAMA ATTACKS ON MEDICARE
As Mitt Romney heads to Florida on a campaign stop — without running mate Paul Ryan — the Obama campaign greets him with a new video attacking the GOP ticket on their approach to Medicare. The tagline: “Romney-Ryan ending Medicare as we know it.”
CHRIS CHRISTIE TO GIVE KEYNOTE AT RNC
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is giving the keynote address at the Republicans’ national convention later this month.
Republican officials directly involved in the planning say Christie will speak during the confab in Tampa. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the formal announcement was not planned until later today.
Christie, a first-term governor known for his blunt and sometimes acerbic tone, is already a favorite among fiscal conservatives in the party. Some urged him to seek the presidential nomination. He declined and endorsed Romney.
RICK SCOTT’S BIG DAY by Nora McAlvanah of FLDemocracy2012.com
It was a big day for Gov. Rick Scott — first he introduced Mitt Romney at the candidate’s largest rally of the campaign. Then he topped Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a fishing contest.
Perry and Scott joined military veterans aboard a 65-foot commercial fishing boat off Destin on Monday. Scott and his team reeled in five fish, while Perry’s team caught two.
Scott, who presented his Texas counterpart with a large trophy that said “#2″ on it, wore a Navy blue ball cap emblazoned with “Beat Perry,” and Perry wore a cap that said “I’m worried.”
Monday morning, Scott appeared for the first time with Romney – introducing the candidate to a packed crowd at Flagler College.
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FLORIDA PRIMARY LACKS EXCITEMENT OF STATEWIDE BATTLES via The Associated Press
Unlike two years ago, when there were competitive primaries to pick Republican nominees for governor and attorney general and Democratic primaries for attorney general and U.S. Senate, there’s only one statewide race on the ballot and even that’s not stirring up excitement.
The race to see which Republican will face Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson seems to be all but forgotten after four major candidates, including former Sen. George LeMieux, dropped out. That leaves Rep. Connie Mack IV as the heavy favorite against former Rep. Dave Weldon, who doesn’t have statewide name recognition or the money to effectively reach voters.
“There’s hardly anything that’s really driving folks to the polls at all,” said Dan Smith, a University of Florida political science professor. “Having LeMieux dropout undercut some of the excitement among the Republicans. Dave Weldon’s campaign was late to get in, slow to ignite and it does seem like a coronation of Connie Mack.”
So that leaves local races and congressional and legislative primaries as the main driver to get people to the polls. Perhaps the most talked about race is in central Florida between Republican U.S. Reps. John Mica and Sandy Adams, a contest that guarantees at least one member of Congress will lose a job.
If history is any indication, turnout will be light. In 2008, when there were no statewide races, only 17.7 percent of Florida’s voters cast a primary ballot. And even in 2010, only 22 percent of voters cast primary ballots even though there were competitive statewide races involving both major parties.
TWEET OF THE DAY:@ChrisCate: More than 1 million votes have been cast in FL primary. 679k Absentee & 367k Early Voting.
ELECTIONS FORECAST: MORE MONEY WILL EQUAL MORE VOTER CONFUSION
Aaron DeSlatte’s three predictions: 2012 will break records for the amount of cash Florida corporations and interests will pour into campaigns for state offices. Elections get more expensive every cycle, advertising costs go up and the armies of high-priced political consultants always get bigger. … Despite all the money thrown into influencing your votes, we will be more thoroughly confused than ever. … No matter what marginal changes are made to the Florida Legislature, there will be very little policymakers can do to affect the economy.
Florida’s earliest primary election in more than 40 years has campaigns sweating-out this final weekend as candidates compete with the Olympics, back-to-school shopping and the dog days of August in trying to push voters toward the polls.
… But the earlier date is proving a wild card for elected officials and campaign operatives. Predicting winners and losers is even tougher when such reliable measures as name identification and the size of a campaign bankroll are undermined by voter disinterest, they said.
“People have it ingrained in their mind that the primary should be sometime around Labor Day,” said Screven Watson, a Democratic consultant. “But this one is catching everyone off guard.”
DOJ TO MONITOR FIVE FLORIDA COUNTIES DURING PRIMARY
Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice will monitor Tuesday’s primaries in five Florida counties — Collier, Hendry, Lee, Osceola and Polk — to make sure that elections officials there will provide language assistance in Spanish.
The DOJ announced the monitoring today in a short news release, which also mentioned that the city of Milwaukee, Wis. would be monitored as well. It’s not certain if the oversight was regular procedure or sparked by complaints. Each year, the DOJ deploys hundreds of federal observers to monitor elections across the nation.
But the department doesn’t comment as to how jurisdictions are chosen for monitoring, said Mitchell Rivard, a DOJ spokesman.
STEVE BOUSQUET’S 5 STORIES AND SUBPLOTS TO WATCH: A good night for Gaetz? Luck for Latvala? A DLP dynasty? Mack’s margin? Bound for congress?
MY TOP TEN MOST INTERESTING MOMENTS OF THE 2012 FLORIDA PRIMARY: 10. Possible upsets in several House races throughout Florida; 9. The US Chamber donates $250,000 to committee supporting Jeff Brandes for State Senate; 8. Allen West launches emotional ad, “Body Armor”; 7. Connecting the dots behind Rachel Burgin’s attacks on Tom Lee; 6. The barrage of some of the least creative direct mail ever inflicted upon the voters of Florida; 5. The ugly, no-holds-barred race between Miami GOP Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Ana Rivas Logan; 4. The most lethal political ad I’ve seen in Florida politics; 3. Conservative groups influencing Democratic primaries; 2. The referendum on Jack Latvala; 1. Money
JOHN MICA LOOKS POISED TO BEAT TEA PARTY CHALLENGE by Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO
Freshman Rep. Sandy Adams is the insurgents’ choice, backed by Sarah Palin, Rep. Allen West and a host of tea party groups. But she’s the decided underdog against veteran GOP Rep. John Mica, the powerful transportation committee chairman who embodies just about everything the tea party hates,” Alex Isenstadt reports from Winter Park ahead of tomorrow’s primary. “A 20-year Capitol Hill veteran, Mica has used his incumbency to great effect, reminding voters of his long record of service to the state and – more important – filling his campaign coffers with cash from industry groups who depend on his influential committee. Through the end of last month, the 69-year-old Mica had outspent Adams more than three-to-one. In an acknowledgement of her campaign’s financial straits, she recently loaned her campaign $100,000 despite being one of the least wealthy members of Congress. Reduced to running a campaign on the cheap, Adams has relied on a paid staff of just a handful of workers. She wasn’t able to open a campaign office until just a few weeks ago. And while Mica has aired a flight of slickly-produced TV ads, Adams has run just one.”
>>> “Mica should defeat Adams two-to-one. … If she comes close or wins, it should scare members of Congress, or ought to,” former Florida GOP chairman Tom Slade.
>>>Orlando’s WFTW-9 reports that Mica has claimed the endorsement of American Conservative Union head Al Cardenas with a supportive quote on a mailer – something he didn’t mean as an endorsement in his capacity at the ACU, according to a spokesperson.
ONE TALLAHASSEE INSIDER’S PREDICTIONS: “Bean wins in SD 4; Stargel in SD 15; Lee in SD 24; Closer in SD 22 than most think; both SD 12 and SD 39 will be close. Razor wins for Renuary in HD 17 and Pigman in HD 55. Welcome to Joe Wicker and a few others.”
FINAL POLL SHOWS BRANDES RUNNING AWAY WITH WIN IN DISTRICT 22
StPetePolls.org has released its latest poll showing Rep. Jeff Brandes pulling away from GOP primary opponent Jim Frishe.
According to the poll, the once-close match-up between Brandes and Frishe is moving strongly in Brandes’ direction, 64 to 36 percent. In July, StPetePolls had the race at Brandes 41 percent to Frishe’s 28 percent with 31 percent undecided.
PLEASE READ my final take on Brandes v. Frishe here.
CHALLENGERS THINK THEY HAVE SHOT AGAINST INCUMBENT PETER NEHR by Will Hobson of the Tampa Bay Times
First-time candidates Tory Perfetti and Philip Tropea both think they have a chance to win Tuesday’s Republican primary for state House District 65. Second-time candidate Marg Baker thinks she has a chance, too.
Incumbent Peter Nehr disagrees.
Running for a fourth and final term before he would be term-limited out, Nehr, 60, feels as confident as he ever has before a primary election. “I respect all three of my opponents, they’ve all worked hard,” Nehr said. “I feel I’m going to win. My record is good, it’s conservative, and I represent the people of my district well.”
If money has anything to do with it, Nehr should feel confident. He has a massive fundraising advantage, with nearly $128,000 raised, according to state campaign filings. He has spent $75,563, which dwarfs what his three opponents have spent, combined. The runnerup in the District 65 money race is Perfetti, who has spent $5,723 of the $7,196 he’s raised, according to state filings.
FUNDRAISING UPDATES via the News Service of Florida
>>>RON SAUNDERS CONTINUES FUNDRAISING DOMINANCE IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR SD 39: House Minority Leader Ron Saunders continued his fundraising dominance in the Senate District 39 race, collecting $65,215 between July 21 and Aug. 9, new reports show. Saunders had an overall total of $167,455. His likely chief competitor in Tuesday’s primary, Rep. Dwight Bullard raised $13,850 during the most recent period and had a total of $49,495.
>>>PERRY WIDENS MONEY LEAD IN HD 21: Rep. Keith Perry raised $34,725 in contributions between July 21 and Aug. 9, giving him an overall total of $164,430 as he tries to win the newly redrawn House District 21 in Alachua, Gilchrist and Dixie counties, records show. Democrat Aaron Bosshardt of Gainesville raised $7,575 during the period and had a total of $123,715.
>>>ALEX DLP TOPS BARREIRO IN RAISING MONEY: In a Republican primary pitting two former Miami lawmakers, Alex Diaz de la Portilla collected $29,000 in contributions between July 21 and Aug. 9, far outdistancing Gus Barreiro in House District 112, according to new records. Diaz de la Portilla, who has served in the House and Senate, had an overall total of $57,100. Barreiro, a former House member, raised $7,250 during the most-recent period and had a total of $38,711.
>>>DIAZ TOPS $300K IN HD 116 RACE: Rep. Jose Felix Diaz collected $45,457 in contributions between July 21 and Aug. 9, giving him an overall total of $310,622, according to new reports. Diaz is running in Tuesday’s primary against fellow Rep. Ana Rivas Logan in the newly drawn House District 116. Rivas Logan raised $12,300 during the most-recent period and had a total of $153,770.
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ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: A new Gallup poll finds 64% of Americans say they have given quite a lot of thought to the 2012 presidential election, a slightly lower percentage than Gallup measured in July of 2004 and 2008. However, Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to say they are thinking a lot about the election, 74% to 61%, a 13-point Republican split that is larger than Gallup has measured in recent presidential election years.
ENGAGED: Rubio Campaign alum Todd Harris proposed to Purple Strategies’ Ieva Augstums this weekend at the Ritz-Carlton in Beaver Creek, Col, reports POLITICO’s Mike Allen. She was surprised, not expecting a proposal until after the election. She said yes. Three weeks earlier, Harris had secretly flown to Ieva’s hometown of Lincoln, Neb. (telling her he was going to South Carolina for work), to ask her family for permission to propose. The wedding will be in the Colorado Rockies in fall 2013. Friends are already conspiring to out-do each other with which wines they’ll open to toast the couple.”
MEDIA NOTE – AP PUBLISHES 2012 ELECTION STYLE GUIDE: The AP’s guidelines for political reporters during the upcoming presidential election are a welcome guide to maintaining journalistic sangfroid while covering political passions: Not just nuts and bolts stuff (e.g., “press secretary” is “Seldom a formal title and thus lowercase”) but also a roadmap to help journalists avoid cliches like “pressing the flesh” (use “shaking hands” instead) and not wander into linguistic minefields (e.g., don’t use “Democrat Party”).
MEDIA NOTE – PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MODERATORS SET: PBS’s Jim Lehrer will host the first presidential debate on October 3 in Denver, Colo. CNN’s Candy Crowley will host the second, town-hall debate on October 16 in Hempstead, N.Y. CBS’s Bob Schieffer will host the third debate on October 22 in Boca Raton. ABC’s Martha Raddatz will host the vice presidential debate on October 11 in Danville, Ky.
NEW TO THE TWITTERS: Housde District 89 candidate Tom Gustafson. Follow him @Gustafson2012
WHY IS ELECTION DAY ALWAYS ON A TUESDAY? In 1845, before Florida, California, and Texas were states or slavery had been abolished, Congress needed to pick a time for Americans to vote. We were an agrarian society. We traveled by horse and buggy. Farmers needed a day to get to the county seat, a day to vote, and a day to get back, without interfering with the three days of worship. So that left Tuesday and Wednesday, but Wednesday was market day. So, Tuesday it was. In 1875 Congress extended the Tuesday date for national House elections and in 1914 for federal Senate elections.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sean Miles, former adviser to Gov. Rick Scott.