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APOLITICAL TWEET FROM THE WEEKEND: @FLGovScott: Congrats to the #Noles on a big win last night. @NikkiHaley – Ann and I are looking forward to the SC BBQ.
WHAT YOU’RE WATCHING FOR THIS WEEK
“Who will win the early and absentee vote in Florida? That winner will win the state.” — Brian Hughes, GOP strategist and former adviser to Gov. Rick Scott
“Will the Romney Campaign’s new ad strategy of using more of Mitt making the pitch have an impact leading up to the first debate?” — Mark Mills, Tampa Bay Leadership Institute
“How is it possible that the Supreme Court, the Florida Bar, and the Capitol Press Corps didn’t see it coming that the RPOF would be back to do with money what Dean Cannon didn’t get done with his Speaker gavel?” –
“It’s now time for (Mitt Romney) to say something substantive, or pack up his bags and go home, leaving us to suffer his desperate ‘air wars’ for another month.” — Gregory Wilson, Chief Creative Officer, Politicus
PUBLIC POLICY POLLING (RELEASED LATE SUNDAY NIGHT) OF FLORIDA – OBAMA 50%, ROMNEY 46%
Obama’s lead in Florida isn’t all about Romney losing ground … He’s pretty strong in his own right with 51% of voters approving of him to 47% who disapprove. That’s up a net 7 points from 47/50 before the Democratic convention. This is the first time since April we’ve found his approval over 50% in the state. Perhaps more importantly Florida voters trust Obama over Romney on the issue of the economy by the same 50/46 margin as the overall numbers- Romney’s not getting any traction on that front. And Obama leads 50-45 in terms of who voters have more faith in on foreign policy.
TIMES/HERALD POLL OF FLORIDA- OBAMA 48%, ROMNEY 47%
A new Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll in Florida finds President Obama edging Mitt Romney, 48% to 47%.
“It’s still very much a toss-up,” said pollster Brad Coker. “It’s a turnout game.”
OBAMA AND ROMNEY BOTH APPEARED ON 60 MINUTES LAST NIGHT
Obama talked to Steve Kroft and Romney spokes to Scott Pelley. One highlight:
Pelley: “You’re the CEO of this campaign. A lot of Republicans would like to know, a lot of your donors would like to know, how do you turn this thing around? You’ve got a little more than six weeks. What do you do?
Romney: “Well, it doesn’t need a turnaround. We’ve got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent President to the United States.”
Pelley: “[A] lot of people were concerned about the video of the fundraiser in which you talked about the 47 percent of the American people who don’t pay taxes.”
Romney: “[T]hat’s not the campaign. That was me, right? … I’ve got a very effective campaign. It’s doing a very good job. But not everything I say is elegant.”
IN FLORIDA, MORE DONOR MONEY FLOWING TO ROMNEY by Kevin Wiatrowski of the Tampa Tribune
From fall 2011 through the end of July, the Republican nominee’s campaign committee brought in $11.5 million in individual donations. Obama’s campaign, by comparison, has accumulated about $3.6 million in direct donations.
Four years ago, Obama raised that amount in just three months: May, June and July of 2008. He raised $1.3 million during those three months this year.
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ACCUSED OF PACKING UNIVISION FORUM
Romney’s campaign packed the audience for the Univision forum at the University of Miami this week by busing in supporters “after exhausting the few conservative groups on campus,” BuzzFeed reports.
Staffers even threatened to reschedule the event if organizers did not allow the exception to their student-only rule.
Mitt Romney himself also refused to come out on stage after anchors noted he “had agreed to give the network 35 minutes, and that Obama had agreed to a full hour the next night.” Romney insisted they re-tape the introduction.
“It was a little bit of disrespect for us,” said one of the Univision anchors.
CAN SUPER PACS HELP ROMNEY?
Politico: “Republican super PACs are about to face a potentially existential test of their reach and impact as the 2012 election cycle comes to a close, with their spending being closely watched as a way of answering a central question at the core of modern American politics: can an avalanche of money from outside groups move the needle in the presidential race and Senate contests across the country.”
JEB BUSH JOINS PAUL RYAN TO COURT LATINOS IN MIAMI by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
At the landmark Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, where Castro-bashing is as much a menu staple as the cortaditos and ropa vieja, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan courted Latino voters Saturday by accusing President Obama of a “policy of appeasement” toward the Cuban dictator and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.
Ryan appeared with a guayabera-clad former Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the GOP’s most popular figures with Hispanic voters. Ryan also was accompanied by his mother, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea resident Betty Ryan Douglas, who has become a key figure in Republican efforts to reassure seniors about Ryan’s Medicare proposal.
AT UCF, RYAN TOUTS ROMNEY’S SPACE POLICY
Promising a space program with a clear mission that would keep America the “unequivocal leader” in space, Ryan introduced Romney’s first space policy statements of the campaign Saturday at the University of Central Florida.
“We’re near the Space Coast and we know that our space program is a strategic national asset to America,” Ryan said, kicking off his 17-minute address.
The Romney campaign put out a policy statement moments before Ryan’s speech. That “white paper” broadly discusses Romney’s desire to set space as a priority, but neither offered any specific details on NASA or private-sector programs that Romney would support or oppose. The document also reveals little about any long-term mission goals Romney might seek.
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RICK SCOTT CHIEF-OF-STAFF: STAFF WILL LISTEN, BUT NO FAVORITISM by David Royse of the News Service of Florida
Scott’s new chief of staff told a group of lobbyists Friday that the governor and his aides understand that interest groups need access to government, and he promised that on some level lobbyists and advocates will get it – though he noted that they may not always get what they want from those meetings.
Adam Hollingsworth told a breakfast meeting of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists that his staff knows that advocates who want the governor’s office’s help deserve an answer about whether they’ll get that assistance.
“No is an answer,” sometimes, though, Hollingsworth noted.
While few lobbyists are willing to speak publicly about frustrations in the lobbying corps over access to the governor, it was voiced during a question and answer session with Hollingsworth, when lobbyist Susan Goldstein – a former Republican lawmaker from Broward County – said that some advocates have had trouble getting through to the governor and his staff.
She asked Hollingsworth whether that would continue to be the case.
How much Scott himself will meet with lobbyists, “going forward is an open question,” Hollingsworth acknowledged, but promised, “you’re always going to have access to us,” the governor’s staff.
CHARLIE CRIST ATTENDS HIS FIRST DEMOCRATIC DINNER via William March of the Tampa Tribune
Attending the Hillsborough County Democratic Party at the Tampa Convention Center was former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a no-party registrant, attending along with his wife, Carole, who actually is a registered Democrat.
I’m so excited — this is my first Democratic dinner,” she said. “I’m the Democrat, and he’s my guest.”
“I don’t really know that many Democrats yet,” she added. “I’m getting to know the family.”
FLORIDA GOP LINES UP AGAINST MERIT RETENTION OF STATE SURPREME COURT JUSTICES by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
The Republican Party of Florida announced Friday that its executive board had voted unanimously to oppose the retention of Florida’s three Supreme Court justices who are up for merit retention, R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy Quince.
The announcement, released with an statement attributed to no one, was not clear how much of the party’s resources would be used to campaign against the three justices. The justices have expected an aggressive assault against them but had not expected it to come from the party, since many of the state’s former bar presidents and Supreme Court justices had openly advocated against politicizing the judicial campaign.
… The announcement was immediately condemned by supports of the justices.
“Florida has had its experience with partisan political involvement in our judiciary and we know that it has been corrupting,” said Sandy D’Alemberte, former President of the American Bar Association and the former Dean of the College of Law and President of Florida State University. “The announcement that the Republican Party is engaged in this effort would shock those wonderful Republican statesmen who helped create the merit selection and merit retention processes. Surely we do not want to go back to the broken past.”
TWITTER EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
@SaintPetersBlog: .@FloridaGOP has a lot of time on its hands; worried about Crist in 14, Fla. Sup. Ct. #ThatsALotofBubbleGumToChewWhileWalking
@LennyCurry: I’m still chewing and walking. And I added a cigar to the mix. All in a days work.
SENATOR WILTON SIMPSON RISES, FROM THE GROUP UP by C.T. Bowen of the Pasco Times
He is a rookie, but one well-insulated from potential legislative pitfalls. Legg, a veteran of eight years in the House, will sit nearby in the Senate. Weatherford becomes House speaker after the November election. State Rep. Richard Corcoran of Trinity is in line to be speaker in 2016 and 18-year legislator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey moves back to the House of Representatives after a decade in the Senate.
“If we don’t get this right, shame on us,” Simpson says of the firepower in the Pasco legislative delegation.
IT’S HARD TO SAVE A LIFE, BUT NOT FOR REP. ED HOOPER
State Representative Ed Hooper is no stranger to saving lives. With 28 years spent as a fireman, Hooper’s rescued more than his share of people.
Well, now he can add one more life to his list.
Recently, Hooper was eating dinner at A Land Remembered in Orlando after receiving an award presented to him by Associated Industries of Florida. Several of Hooper’s colleagues in the Florida House joined him for dinner.
It was then that Hooper saw a commotion at a nearby table. He immediately recognized the situation — a man was choking to death.
Hooper did not hesitate to take action.
Read the rest of the story here.
STATE REP. MATT GAETZ SAYS MEDICAID IS LIKE CRACK by Brian Hughes of the Crestview News Bulletin
Florida is addicted to federal money, State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said during the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce Government Issues meeting. Kicking the habit will take a lot of political willpower, but it must be done because Medicaid negatively affects many other programs, he said.
“About one in six residents in Florida is on Medicaid. That costs us $20.4 billion out of our state budget of around $70 billion,” Gaetz said during the committee’s September meeting.
Because the state receives $1.40 from the federal government for every dollar it spends on Medicaid, Gaetz said there is little political willpower to reform the program.
The perception that the state is “making money” blinds legislators to the restrictions placed on receiving federal money, he said, saying, “You trade dollars for flexibility.”
*** The first post-primary campaign finance report for legislative candidates heading into the general election was due Friday, with subsequent reports coming fast and furious over the next 46 days. The G1 totals include everything raised/spent from August 10 to September 14. If you’re not getting On 3 Public Relations’ comprehensive finance reports for your clients and contacts, turn in your politico card at the door on the way out. www.On3PR.com. ***
CONGRESSIONAL RANKINGS FOR WEEK OF 9/24 by Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Political Hurricane
Two changes this week…
In CD 6, Democrat Heather Beaven is still a prohibitive underdog against Republican nominee Ron DeSantis. But Beaven has gotten high profile endorsements lately including former President Bill Clinton and is raising money decently. This seat is still overwhelmingly GOP performing and should favor any Republican. However, we’ve moved this from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
In CD 7, despite decent performance numbers and changing demographics, Rep. John Mica is just too strong to be defeated by any challenger of either party. Democrat Jason Kendall would have had a shot, perhaps a good shot against Sandy Adams, but against Mica he’s toast. We’re moving this from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.
FBI EXAMINES WHITE-OUTED INVOICES, ENVELOPES THAT WERE CASH STUFFED IN DAVID RIVERA INVESTIGATION by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald
A key witness in a federal grand jury case involving U.S. Rep.David Rivera is still missing, but she left important evidence behind for investigators: at least four envelopes that had been stuffed with unreported campaign cash.
Ana Alliegro, a Republican political operative, delivered the cash-stuffed envelopes to a Hialeah mail house that sent out fliers in a congressional race against a Rivera political rival, the mail house owner told the FBI.
The FBI has the envelopes to check for fingerprints and handwriting comparisons.
Also in the hands of FBI agents: at least six invoices initially made out to the attention of David Rivera — all marked paid “cash” — to cover the mailings for Democratic primary challenger Justin Lamar Sternad, a suspected Rivera straw-man candidate. The congressman demanded that his name be removed from the invoices with Wite-Out, documents and interviews show.
SD 4 – REPUBLICAN AARON BEAN ACTUALLY HAS CASH ON HAND THAN DEM. NANCY SODERBERG by James Call of the Florida Current
Aaron Bean depleted his campaign fund in a bruising primary with Mike Weinstein. Bean spent more than $139,000 to secure the GOP nomination for the Northeast Florida seat. His latest finance report shows he raised $62,000 and spent $52,000 in the past month. Now, Bean has less money on hand than his Democratic competitor Nancy Soderberg.
A foreign policy advisor to former President Bill Clinton, Soderberg’s fundraising was boosted with about $24,000 in contributions from the Florida Democratic Party. Soderberg has $86,000 on hand compared with Bean’s $50,000.
SD 8 – FRANK BRUNO NARROWLY OUTRAISES DOROTHY HUKILL
Bruno, the chairman of the Volusia County Council, raised $65,895 for the period compared with $64,275 for Hukill, a Republican state representative from Port Orange.
To date, Bruno has brought in $307,863, has spent $118,099 and has approximately $189,000 cash-on hand.
Hukill has now raised just over $395,000 for her campaign, has spent $241,252 and has just under $154,000 cash-on-hand.
SD 14 – DARREN SOTO OUTRAISES MCBRIDE, BUT WILL MCBRIDE STARTS TO SPEND by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
Democratic Rep. Darren Soto again outraised Republican lawyer Will McBride in the race for Senate District 14, though the deep-pocketed McBride began spending cash on television advertising.
Soto raised $30,000 in the reporting period from Aug. 10 to Sept. 14, while McBride raised just $16,000.
But McBride, who had earlier loaned his campaign $205,000 and is trying to prove to Republican Senate leaders that it is worth spending money on his race, also outspent Soto more than 7-to-1 during the period. McBride spent $87,000 — $78,000 of that on television air time —while Soto spent just $12,000.
Including the money he loaned himself, McBride now has $142,000 in cash on hand. Soto has $110,000 left.
SD 34 – THIS TIME AROUND ELLYN BOGDANOFF OUTRAISES MARIA SACHS
In the fundraising quarter ending September 14, Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff outraised her opponent Democrat Maria Sachs by about 30 percent.
Bogdanoff raised $94,841 during the period, bringing her overall total to $497,776; Sachs reported raising $63,866 during the period for an overall total of $274,426.
Still, the newly drawn district would appear to favor Sachs: Two years ago, voters selected Alex Sink over Rick Scott, 55 percent to 44 percent, and in 2008 the district voted for Barack Obama 58 percent to 42 percent.
HD 7 – HALSEY BESHEARS WIDENS FUNDRAISING LEAD
With a boost from the state GOP, Monticello Republican Halsey Beshears has built a large fund-raising lead over Democrat Robert Hill in the House District 7 race, new records via the News Service of Florida show.
Beshears received $73,400 in contributions between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, with the Republican Party of Florida chipping in $44,000 of that amount. In all, Beshears has raised a total of $248,564, though much of that was spent before he won the August primary election. Hill, a Bristol Democrat, raised $11,150 during the latest reporting period and has collected a total of $54,825 for his primary and general-election campaigns.
HD 30 – PLAKON HAS RAISED MORE THAN CASTOR DENTEL, BUT HAS LESS CASH ON HAND
In the closely watched race for House District30, Rep. Scott Plakon raised another $44,000. He also spent more than anyone else during the period: $123,000, which included $100,000 for a television ad buy. Plakon has now raised $242,000 overall and has about $54,000 cash on hand.
Democrat Karen Castor Dentel, Plakon’s opponent in the district that includes Altamonte Springs, Maitland, Casselberry and Eatonville, raised $25,000 during the period and has raised $97,000 overall. But because she has spent less than Plakon, she has more money remaining, with $75,000.
HD 47 – REPUBLICAN BOB BROOKS A BIG WINNER IN THE FUNDRAISING SWEEPSTAKES by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
Former state Rep. Bob Brooks, who is running in House District 47, was the biggest winner in the cash sweepstakes, raising $70,000 during the period. He has now raised $208,000 overall and spent about $63,000, leaving him $145,000 for the sprint to Election Day.
His Democratic opponent, former Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart, had the poorest results of anyone in the region’s major races. She raised a meager $14,000, boosting her total to $51,000. But she hasn’t spent much of it yet, so she has about $39,000 left to spend while campaigning in a district that runs from Winter Park through downtown Orlando to Conway.
HD 49 – JOE SAUNDERS A BRIGHT SPOT FOR DEMOCRATS by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
The bright spot for Democrats: Joe Saunders in House District 49. The civil-rights advocate raised $42,000 during the period and has now taken in $151,000 overall – more even than politically connected Castor Dentel. He has about $36,000 cash on hand.
His opponent in a district that includes the University of Central Florida, Republican Marco Pena, raised $28,000 during the period. Pena has now raised $101,000 overall and has about $18,000 left to spend. Both Saunders and Pena had to defeat primary challengers.
HD 67 – ED HOOPER’S BIG LEAD
Republican incumbent Ed Hooper raised $37,675, adding to his huge financial lead over Democratic challenger Ben Farrell in House District 67.
Hooper reported an overall total of $192,915. Hooper collected checks from interests as diverse as the Florida AFL-CIO, Chiro-PAC, Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Hooper’s campaign has spent just $29,046, leaving the third-term incumbent with a healthy warchest for the general election.
Farrell raised $1,545 to bring his overall total to $11,355. One notable expenditure by Farrell, albeit on July 12, was to Bardine Hazlett Political Consulting, the firm of local Democratic strategists Johnny Bardine and Shari Hazlett.
HD 106 – PETER RICHTER, LIBERTARIAN CHALLENGING REP. KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO, LOANS HIS CAMPAIGN $50K
Libertarian candidate Peter Richter has loaned his campaign $50,000 as he tries to unseat state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo in House District 106, according to newly filed campaign-finance records via the News Service of Florida.
Richter, a Naples resident who earlier this year reported a net worth of nearly $3.8 million, has received $5,821 in contributions since entering the race in 2011. Passidomo reported raising $6,350 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14 — the latest reporting period — and had an overall total of $147,507.
BEST CAMPAIGN BILLBOARD EVER: From Papua New Guinea, with a tagline of “Enough of bullsh*ts, time for ACTION!” Check it out here.
FUN READ: Oops! A Diary from the 2012 Campaign Trail by Jay Root.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to former State Rep. Bob Henriquez and Akerman Senterfitt’s Joe Gibbons.