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STATE OF THE RACE: ADVANTAGE, OBAMA by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of POLITICO
President Obama heads out of the national political conventions with a much clearer path to winning, top advisers to Mitt Romney privately concede. Romney advisers, while pleasantly surprised by Obama’s lackluster prime-time performance, said the post-convention bounce they hoped for fell well short of expectations and privately lament that state-by-state polling numbers – most glaringly in Ohio – are working in the president’s favor. …
Three officials intimately involved in the GOP campaign said Ohio leans clearly in Obama’s favor now … “Our problems are Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire,” a top [Romney] official said. “Our opportunities are Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado. We can’t trade our problems for our opportunities and win the presidency. If we trade our problems for our opportunities, we lose.” …
[Romney strategist Stuart] Stevens said Romney remains unfazed by the hand-wringing among Republicans and staff. “We’re a very patient campaign,”‘ Stevens said. “We’re the campaign that couldn’t break 25 percent [in the primaries]. We just have tremendous confidence in the governor’s ability to talk to people in a way that resonates. Very steady, very confident.”
OBAMA EXPANDS LEADS IN THREE DIFFERENT POLLS
Despite a mixed reaction to President Obama’s convention speech and a mediocre jobs report this week, all three daily tracking polls show Obama expanding his lead in the presidential race over Mitt Romney.
>>>Nate Silver notes that Romney has never held a lead over Obama by any substantive margin in the polls.
THE HUG, REDUX
Charlie Crist introduced Obama on Saturday before an estimated 11,000 people and, “yes, they did share a hearty man-hug — even heartier than the one in Fort Myers in 2009 that helped end Crist’s career as a Republican,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.
TWEET, TWEET: @adamsmithtimes: Dem says internal polling has Charlie Crist 59% favorable rating among Fla indies.
SPOTTED on his phone during the President’s speech, Amscot’s Deveron Gibbons.
HOW OBAMA’S FLA. TRIP PLAYED – Daily News: Obama tells Central Florida crowd: ‘Choice between two different paths; ‘ Sentinel: President Obama delivers upbeat message in Kissimmee; Times: Obama kicks off Florida tour at fired-up rally in Pinellas
MITT ROMNEY UP WITH TWO NEW ADS IN FLORIDA
Mitt Romney’s campaign released two new spots in Florida, one focusing on foreclosures and another on defense jobs, reports Nora McAlvanah of FLDemocracy2012.com
In the spot, titled “A Better Future: Florida – Home Values,” a narrator says Florida is not better off with one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.
The ad makes the case that, on the president’s watch, “home values collapsed” and construction jobs were lost.
The narrator says Romney will provide alternatives to foreclosure and create over seven hundred thousand new jobs for Florida.
The other new ad, titled “A Better Future: Florida – Defense,” says Romney’s plan would “reverse Obama defense cuts.” That spot also closes with a pledge to create seven hundred thousand new jobs in the state.
The two Florida spots are part of 15 new ads the Romney campaign launched in eight battleground states.
…ANN COMING ON WEDNESDAY: At first, Mitt Romney was to hold a rally in Oldsmar on Wednesday. The latest buzz is that Ann, not Mitt, will visit the Tampa Bay area this week.
ROMNEY’S SHRINKING BATTLEGROUND
Jonathan Chait looks at where Mitt Romney is currently running ads and notes the eight states “add up to a neat 100 electoral votes, of which Romney needs 79 and Obama just 23. If you play with the electoral possibilities, you can see that this would mean Obama could win with Florida alone or Ohio plus a small state or Virginia plus a couple small states, and so on.”
“Unless I’m missing something badly here, Romney needs either a significant national shift his way — possibly from the debates or some other news event — or else to hope that his advertising advantage is potent enough to move the dial in almost every swing state in which he’s competing.”
DEBATES LOOM LARGE
Mark Halperin: “Given the political cult of personality that exists around the Obama brand and the man himself, it is ironic that he was the weak link in Charlotte, even though the President might well receive a bigger convention bounce than Romney because of the overall program. The Democrats end this fortnight with a chance to widen their lead and it is unlikely they lost anything. For all the sound and fury in Tampa and Charlotte, Romney still has about the same amount of ground to make up as before. Now, the debates loom even larger, especially for the challenger.”
CLINTON COMING TO FLORIDA
Former President Bill Clinton will campaign in Florida for Obama on Tuesday in the Miami area and Wednesday in the Orlando area. Additional details haven’t been announced. … Clinton is also slated to appear at a midday $250-and-up fundraising reception in West Palm Beach on Tuesday for Democratic congressional candidates Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy.
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FIRST IN SUNBURN: CRIST LAPS FIELD FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION, NEW POLL SHOWS
The first Florida-based poll conducted since the close of the Democratic National Convention shows former governor Charlie Crist lapping the prospective field of Democratic candidates eyeing the 2014 gubernatorial race.
Crist is the top choice of 61% of likely Democratic voters, followed by former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink with 25% support. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer comes in at 7%, state Senator Nan Rich at 3.5% and Florida Democratic Party chair Rod Smith at 3.4%.
ED COMMISSIONER SEARCH ON FAST TRACK, NEW CHAIRMAN APPOINTED
A search firm told State Board of Education members Friday it has been in contact with approximately 20 potential candidates to replace Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson who stepped down earlier this year. The search group faces a Sept. 27 deadline for applications. Ray and Associates, the company doing the search, will touch base with board members by Sept. 24 to determine if an adequate pool of serious candidates for the statewide post exists. Search firm president Gary Ray told members that not all 20 candidates who may be interested in the position are likely to have the necessary qualifications to be considered. Ray said he expects many applications to come in close to the deadline to be as discreet as possible, given state public records laws. The board on Friday also named member Gary Chartrand to become chairman of the board. Chartrand, appointed to the board in May 2011, replaces Kathleen Shanahan, whose term on the board expires in 18 months. Chartrand is the executive chairman of Acosta, a service sales and marketing agency. The company employs over 18,000 associates and operates 64 offices in the U.S. and Canada. He will assume his chairmanship duties immediately.
MUST-READ BLOG POST: Unlike Kathleen Shanahan, Gary Chartrand does not answer to Jeb Bush – Read here.
CONGRESSIONAL RATINGS: VERN BUCHANAN, ALLEN WEST A LITTLE SAFER by Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Political Hurricane
Despite continues scandal and one of the best progressives in the state as opposition, Congressman Vern Buchanan’s lead is growing almost insurmountable according to recent polling. Given that it is unlikely a smoking gun will be revealed relative to the Buchanan scandals between now and election day, we are moving the race, although as with every ranking this is subject to chance.
… We have left the much discussed Allen West-Patrick Murphy race in the toss-up column, but it seems as if West has positive momentum in this Treasure Coast area seat where Obama is running behind his 2008 numbers according to polling data. Murphy will be dependent on Obama voters and moderate Republicans to win.
TODD LONG TO HOLD PRESSER TODAY TO CHALLENGE ALAN GRAYSON TO DEBATES
Republican U.S. House District 9 candidate Todd Long has a news conference scheduled for Monday to “combat the lies” of his Democratic opponent Alan Grayson and to challenge Grayson to three debates. The event is at 10 a.m at the Osceola County Social Security Office.
FLORIDA VOTERS TO FACE LONG, LONG BALLOT by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
Brace yourselves, Florida voters: The election ballot you’ll see this fall is longer than ever.
It’s so long that voters will have to fill out multiple sheets with races on both sides, then feed those multiple pages through ballot scanners, one page at a time.
It’s a pocketbook issue, too: Some people who vote by mail will have to dig deeper and pay at least 65 cents postage and up to $1.50 to return their multipage ballots in heavier envelopes.
WITH HALF A DOZEN COMPETITIVE RACES, CENTRAL FLA. VOTERS HAVE A CHANCE TO RESHAPE TALLAHASSEE by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
In one corner of Central Florida, a Republican state representative and the Democratic chairman of Volusia County are competing for a Senate district that reaches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ocala National Forest.
In another, a Democratic state representative and a wealthy Republican trial lawyer are vying for a Senate seat covering predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods from southeast Orange County to Polk County.
And in between, in the Orange and Seminole County suburbs, a Republican House member is fighting for his political career against the daughter of a Florida Democratic Party icon.
Those skirmishes are among a half-dozen competitive races this fall in Central Florida for seats in the Florida Legislature — an unusually large number of battlegrounds created by the once-a-decade process of redrawing political districts.
Statewide, strategists from both parties say, there are as few as three competitive elections in the 40-seat Senate and only about a dozen in the 120-seat House of Representatives.
For Central Florida voters, it is a rare opportunity to have a meaningful effect on matters in the state Capitol, particularly in the Senate, where some major policy issues have been decided by slim margins.
HUKILL, BRUNO ALL BUT TIED IN SENATE DISTRICT 8
Democrat Frank Bruno and Republican Dorothy Hukill are locked into a dead heat for Senate District 68. According to a new survey, Hukill is at 41.9% in the polls, with Bruno all but tied at 41.0%.
>>>Fresh off of helping Jeff Brandes to a win in District 22, Sydney Riley, formerly a legislative aide to Rep. Dana Young, is on-the-ground in Volusia where she is helping Hukill.
PHIL GIORNO REPLACES DENNIS MULDER IN HOUSE DISTRICT 27 RACE, BUT NOT ON BALLOT
Phil Giorno, chairman of the Volusia County Democratic Executive Committee, will replace Dennis Mulder as the Democratic nominee for Florida House District 27 in the Nov. 6 election. However, Mulder’s name will remain on the ballot, Volusia County Elections Supervisor Ann McFall said, reports the West Volusia Beacon
Members of the DEC chose Giorno as the new candidate Sept. 6, after Mulder unexpectedly withdrew from the race Aug. 30.
A Sept. 7 email from Assistant General Counsel Gary J. Holland at the Florida Department of State sealed Mulder’s name on the ballot, McFall said.
The email stated, “Because Phil Giorno (the named replacement candidate by the Democratic Party) did not qualify before certification of the results of the primary election, Dennis Mulder’s name is to remain on the ballot for the State House D27 race.”
POLL: LARRY AHERN JUST UP 1.5% OVER MARY LOU AMBROSE IN HOUSE DISTRICT 66
Democrat Mary Lou Ambrose and and incumbent Republican Larry Ahern are locked into a dead head for House District 66.
According to a new survey conducted by St. Pete Polls, Ahern is at 46.1% in the polls, with Ambrose right on his heels at 44.4%.
Newly drawn, District 66 includes much of central-western portion Pinellas County.
The poll of likely voters was conducted Sept. 1 through Sept. 3.
As for the veracity of St. Pete Polls data, I wrote this analysis about their numbers vs. actual results and determined, “Its results in the most important races outweigh its askew numbers in down-ballot campaigns. Moreover, the residents and voters involved in these races should be grateful for St. Pete Polls’ contribution to the public debate.”
ESSAY WORTH READING: While waiting in line at Whitewater, an amusement park outside Atlanta, Tom Junod draws a very poetic analogy about America: “I have seen boobs the size of butts, and butts the approximate size of bumper cars. I have seen stretch marks in geographic profusion, and every kind of scar, from every kind of delivery system — the sinkholes left by bullets, the crenellations left by knife, the apocalyptic lightning left by scalpel and surgical saw. I have seen people comparing scars, to while away the time. I have seen piercings in Babylonian profusion, and nail art in colors found not in the rainbow but rather in boxes of Froot Loops. And I have seen tattoos — oh, Lord, I have seen tattoos. … I have seen every form of erotic invitation and advertisement, not just tramp stamps but entire tramp field maps, and mothers of three and four and five with cobras and Tasmanian devils arising from their bikini bottoms. I have seen all the evidence I need that America, far from being a Christian nation, is at heart a pagan one, with democracy, at last, turning into a preference for the most personalized decoration.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Senator Thad Altman, Chris Cate, Senator-to-be Jeff Clemens, St. Petersburg City Councilman Jeff Danner, legislative candidate Karen Castor Dentel, Nick Ergoff, former congressman Mark Foley and J. Alex Kelly.
MUST-READ BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg. “Over the last decade, almost entirely out of view, campaigns have modernized their techniques in such a way that nearly every member of the political press now lacks the specialized expertise to interpret what’s going on. Campaign professionals have developed a new conceptual framework for understanding what moves votes. It’s as if restaurant critics remained oblivious to a generation’s worth of new chefs’ tools and techniques and persisted in describing every dish that came out of the kitchen as either ‘grilled’ or ‘broiled.’ “
TWEET OF THE DAY: @FLGovScott: Congrats #Gators. @GovernorPerry – FL has beaten TX in football and fishing. Next- jobs. RT for FL football!