Sunburn for 10/10 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on October 10, 2012

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BATTLEGROUND POLLING

Colorado: Romney 50%, Obama 46% (American Research Group); North Carolina: Romney 50%, Obama 41% (Gravis); Ohio: Romney 48%, Obama 47% (American Research Group); Ohio: Obama 45%, Romney 44% (SurveyUSA); Pennsylvania: Obama 43%, Romney 40% (Siena)

NATIONAL POLLING

American Research Group: Romney 48%, Obama 47%; DailyKos/SEIU/Public Policy Polling: Romney 49%, Obama 47%; Rasmussen: Obama 48%, Romney 48%; Washington Times/Zogby: Obama 45%, Romney 45%

SUFFOLK UNIV. NO LONGER POLLING FL, NC OR VA; SAYS OBAMA CAN’T WIN THERE

Pollster David Paleologos of Suffolk University told Bill O’Reilly that his organization will not be doing any further polls in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia because he believes President Obama has no chance to win those states.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I am concerned about the polls in the last week, but not quite to the freaking out point. I’ve been telling people since the Democratic convention that something crazy would have to happen for Obama not to win. I think the incredibly lopsided debate does qualify as ‘something crazy’ and that who will win is a much more uncertain question than it was a week ago.” – Tom Jensen, a pollster for the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling.

ROMNEY POPULAR, OBAMA MORE POPULAR

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds Romney with his highest personal popularity of the election campaign — but not by enough to lift his head above water, nor to surpass President Obama, who reached his own best favorability rating of the season.

Romney is now seen favorably by 47% of registered voters overall, unfavorably by 51%; Obama’s rating is better, 55% to 44%.

ANN ROMNEY TO VISIT TAMPA’S MOFFIT CENTER; PAUL RYAN DOES DEBATE PREP IN ST. PETE via William March of the Tampa Tribune

Paul Ryan has been in St. Petersburg since late Monday preparing for Thursday’s vice presidential debate, and Ann Romney will tour Moffitt Cancer Center on Wednesday.

Romney, a breast cancer survivor who also battles multiple sclerosis, will tour the Women’s Oncology Center, a clinic at Moffitt devoted to cancers in women.

FAMILY REBELLION SHOOK UP ROMNEY CAMPAIGN

Politico reports a “family intervention” just before the first presidential debate chnaged things up dramatically inside the Romney campaign.

“The family pushed for a new message, putting an emphasis on a softer and more moderate image for the GOP nominee — a ‘let Mitt be Mitt’ approach they believed more accurately reflected the looser, generous and more approachable man they knew. Chief strategist Stuart Stevens — whom the family held responsible for allowing Romney’s personal side to be obscured by an anti-Obama economic message — has seen his once wide-ranging portfolio ‘fenced in’ to mainly the debates, and the television advertising that is his primary expertise, according to campaign officials. Tagg Romney, channeling his mother’s wishes, is taking a much more active role in how the campaign is run.”

“The family rebellion, long building despite Mitt Romney’s initial reluctance to change, reached a climax in September, amid mounting evidence that the status quo was doomed to failure. The course correction came after internal polls showed him losing nearly every swing state and a loud chorus of second-guessing among prominent conservatives.”

OBAMA IGNORED TOP AIDES ON DEBATE PREP; THOUGHT HE GOT BETTER OF ROMNEY

Obama “did not take his debate preparation seriously, ignored the advice of senior aides and walked off the stage in Denver believing he had got the better of Mitt Romney,” Toby Harnden reports.

A top Democrat “said that Obama’s inner circle was dismayed at the ‘disaster’ that the first presidential debate had turned out to be and believed that the central problem was that the President was so disdainful of Romney that he didn’t believe he needed to engage with him… The Democrat, who is aligned with the Obama campaign and has been an unofficial adviser on occasions, said that David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, was stunned that the President left the stage feeling that he had won the debate.”

NEW OBAMA AD STARS BIG BIRD

President Obama’s reelection campaign is up with a new ad hitting Mitt Romney over his comments about Big Bird at last week’s debate.

The ad features images of notorious corporate villains Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay and suggests that Romney sees Big Bird as the biggest villain of all.

>>>Sesame Street has asked the Obama campaign to remove an ad featuring Big Bird. “Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns,” a Tuesday statement on Sesameworkshop.org reads.

TWEET, TWEET: @LennyCurry: Floridians r scratching their heads. Obama campaign events= 8 mentions of big bird, 5 mentions of Elmo. Zero mention of jobs plan.

MORE TWEETAGE: @JustinSayfie: Romney draws a big bullseye on PBS in front of 67M Americans & completely closes the gender gap with Obama.

OBAMA WILL HOLD FINAL FUNDRAISER THURSDAY…

President Obama will attend his last fundraiser of the 2012 campaign Thursday and then shift into top gear following his disastrous recent debate performance that vaporized his polling lead over challenger Mitt Romney, The Hill reports. Sources say the president “will spend the rest of the campaign at swing-state rallies or preparing for the next two debates instead of attending more private fundraisers.”

… YET DNC FACES CASH SHORTFALL

The DNC “had more debt than cash on hand when the general election started in September, a troubling fact few people have noticed to this point in the campaign,” the Washington Post reports.

“We already knew that the Republican National Committee had more than 10 times as much cash as the DNC while the party’s were holding their conventions, but a closer look at the DNC’s August report shows it also took out $8 million in loans during that month — which means it had more debt ($11.8 million) than cash on hand ($7.1 million).”

DEMOCRATS MAKE MASSIVE FLORIDA PUSH FOR ABSENTEE VOTES by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

The “Vote Now!” initiative aims to spread the word that voters can go to their local elections office, request an absentee ballot, and complete and return the ballot on the spot. That option has been available for years, but this is the first time a campaign has organized a statewide effort to promote the process.

“We’re encouraging voters to not wait and cast their ballot today,” said Ashley Walker, Florida director of the Obama for America campaign. “We will be utilizing all of the resources we have available to us to ensure folks know about this option, and understand how it works. We want to make this election as easily accessible and open to any eligible voter as possible.”

CONNIE MACK, BILL NELSON TIED ACCORDING TO ONE NEW POLL

A new We Ask America poll of Florida finds Nelson locked into a dead heat withcMack, with each candidate receiving just under 44%.  These numbers represent a deviation from the Real Clear Politics average of +6.5 for Nelson and a suggestion that Mitt Romney’s recent surge in the polls may be providing some sort of coattail effect.

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COMMITTEE TO DEFEND JUSTICES LAUNCHES FIRST TV AD

“What do the politicians in Tallahassee want?” asks the announcer in the 30-second spot. “Absolute power,” he answers. “Even over our courts.” The announcer then quotes a series of newspaper editorials critical of the Republican Party of Florida’s decision to get involved in the issue and asks voters: “Want to stop the politicians from trying to take over the Supreme Court? Then stand up for our justices against this political power grab.”

RICK SCOTT BACKS DECISION OF RPOF ON MERIT RETENTION VOTE by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday stood by the decision of the Republican Party of Florida to oppose the three justices up for merit retention, despite mounting opposition to the issue from several prominent Republican attorneys, including a top advisor to his transition team.

Scott would not say how he will vote but said it was the party’s right to oppose the justices.

“The Republican Party makes the decision what they want to get involved in,’’ Scott told reporters Tuesday. “But it’s a retention vote, it’s important for all the citizens to decide if they want to keep judges or not. It makes a lot of sense.”

FLORIDA BAR TO OPPOSE AMENDMENT 5 via The News Press

The Florida Bar will oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Senate confirmation for state Supreme Court justices appointed by the governor.

The Bar’s Board of Governors voted last week to officially oppose the ballot question. The provision would also make it easier for lawmakers to influence court procedural rules, allowing them to change them with a simple majority vote, rather than a supermajority. The proposal also would give lawmakers more access to confidential files involving judges accused of misconduct.

“The courts’ rulemaking process should be primarily within the purview of the court,” said Florida Bar President Gwynne Young. “Court procedural rules do not concern substantive rights or policy matters which are properly the domain of the Legislature. Amendment 5 would erode the meaningful balance of governmental powers now clearly outlined in Florida’s Constitution.”

AL LAWSON SURGING IN RACE FOR CD 2 by Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Political Hurricane

Three weeks ago we downgraded former Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson’s chances of defeating Congressman Steve Southerland in the Tallahassee based 2nd Congressional District. But since then Lawson has surged more more quickly and quietly than just about any Congressional candidate in the country. The  local popularity of Lawson, combined with a stronger than expected Obama presence locally has helped remake this race. Even with a Republican comeback in other parts of the country post first Presidential debate, this area is going in the other direction the last few weeks.

NATIONAL DEMS SHIFT MORE MONEY AWAY FROM VERN BUCHANAN’S CAMPAIGN

Roll Call reports that the DCCC had shifted to other races $502,520 it had planned to spend Oct. 23-29 on advertising in support of Fitzgerald. The newspaper said the Fitzgerald-Buchanan race was one that appeared to be a “steep climb” for Democrats.

ERIC CANTOR-LINKED SUPERPAC PUTS $200K BEHIND POSITIVE ALLEN WEST AD

The entirely positive spot, entitled ‘Common Sense,” highlights the freshman’s military service, support for Israel and opposition to tax hikes. “Solutions, straight talk, leadership: Allen West for Congress.” The Eric Cantor-linked super PAC put over $200,000/1,000 points behind the ad, which will run through Oct. 19. Watch here.

EXCLUSIVE FIRST-LOOK AT LATEST POLLING DATA IN FLA.’S KEY STATE SENATE RACES

Here is a look at fresh polling numbers in four key battleground races via St. Pete Polls. Margin of error +/- 4.9%.

SD 8 – Democrat Frank Bruno 33.2% vs. Republican Dorothy Hukill 53.5%

SD 14 – Democrat Darren Soto 43.3% vs. Republican Will McBride 37.1%

SD 34 – Democrat Maria Sachs 43.5% vs. Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff 43.1%

SD 38 – Democrat Gwen Margolis 48.5% vs. Republican John Couriel 41.8%

BRUNO, DEMS CONDEMN OFFENSIVE RPOF RADIO AD…

The state Democratic party are crying foul over a radio ad paid for by the Republican Party of Florida. The ad, features two men named “Vinnie” and “Joey” talking in stereotypical Italian accents, going through a litany of taxes that have gone up during Bruno’s tenure as County Chairman and referring to him as a “political boss.”

…HUKILL CAMPAIGN TAKES ISSUES WITH DEM REACTION

Hukill campaign spokeswoman Christina Johnson took issue with the characterization of “stereotypical Italian accents.” “That is false,” she said in an email. “The ad is NOT aimed toward any ethic group (as noted in our statement). It is two men, with New Jersey accents, and in no way infers anything else but that.”

MY TAKE: Methinks the voices used in this ad against Bruno are probably the same used in a borderline offensive ad deployed against Mike Weinstein. Several sources close to the Weinstein campaign told me at the time they thought that ad was an attempt to portray Weinstein as Jewish in a district that is devoutly Christian. Weinstein lost that race handily. That’s why I’m not surprised to see the return of “Joey” and “Vinnie” to the radio. Full analysis here.

CHRIS DORWORTH AT NEARLY 400k RAISED FOR RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN FOR HD 29

Rep. Chris Dorworth, a Lake Mary Republican slated to become House speaker in 2014, is the top fund-raiser among House general-election candidates, with a total of $388,772 through Sept. 28, records show.

Dorworth raised a relatively modest $10,800 between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28, including contributions from the agricultural firm A. Duda & Sons, Inc., the Florida Medical Association and Dosal Tobacco Corp. Dorworth’s general-election opponent, Maitland Democrat Mike Clelland, reported a total of $52,845 through Sept. 28, according to the records filed by a Friday deadline.

MONEY TRICKLES IN FOR JIMMIE SMITH VS. NANCY ARGENZIANO RACE

Rep. Jimmie Smith and former lawmaker Nancy Argenziano raised only a combined $15,300 between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28 in their House District 34 race — though Smith still has a massive financial edge heading toward the November election. Smith raised $10,075 during the two-week period, giving him a total of $190,462, according to records filed by a Friday deadline via the News Service of Florida.

Argenziano, a former Republican House and Senate member who is running as an independent, collected $5,225 during the period and reported an overall total of $20,828.

FIREFIGHTERS JOIN POLICE UNIONS IN ENDORSING EILEEN GAME FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 42

The Osceola County Professional Firefighters (IAFF Local 3284) and Florida Professional Firefighters endorsed Eileen Game for House District 42. The announcement follows the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, both the FOP Lodge 93 of Orange County and the statewide Florida Lodge who backed Game’s candidacy.

“We are looking for leadership in Tallahassee, not just a rubber stamp. Eileen shares our values and cares about public safety, and we look forward to working with her as a state representative,” said Adam Seithel, President of the Osceola County Firefighters.”

TOM GUSTAFSON STRUGGLING TO RAISE MONEY FOR RETURN BID TO FLORIDA HOUSE

Former House Speaker Tom Gustafson, a late entrant into the House District 89 race after another Democrat dropped out, raised $5,060 between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28.

Gustafson reported collecting a total of $48,568 since getting into the race in August, with $19,000 of that amount coming from the state Democratic Party. Gustafson had also received $28,885 in in-kind contributions, such as staffing and polling, from the party. His Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Hager of Boca Raton, collected $14,425 between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28, and reported an overall total of $192,765.

FLA. DEMS. MAILER NAILS ALEX DIAZ DE LA PORTILLA ON CUTS TO EDUCATION — view the mailer here.

HD 120 CANDIDATE HOLLY RASCHEIN, IN HER FIRST TV AD OF THE GENERAL ELECTION: “Good ideas don’t belong to one party or the other.” Watch here.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>The Florida Medical Association endorsed Connie Mack for the U.S. Senate.

>>>The Florida Nurses Association endorsed Aaron Bean for State Senate District 4

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REP. SETH MCKEEL TAPPED AS NEXT APROPS CHAIR IN FLA. HOUSE

McKeel will oversee the House’s writing of its budget in the coming year, incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford announced Tuesday.

“Seth’s expertise and background as a small business owner, a former Lakeland City Commissioner and the previous Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee will prove to be invaluable as we manage our state’s future budget priorities,” Weatherford said in a memo to House members Tuesday.  “Rep. McKeel has demonstrated a commitment to putting the priorities of our state over his own interests and will serve the House well as we develop an appropriations plan in the coming months.”

FRACKING COMING TO FLORIDA?

The controversial process of drilling for oil and natural gas is pumping billions into government coffers, residents’ pockets and energy company bank accounts across the country, creating thousands of jobs, reducing reliance on foreign energy — and causing environmental concerns. And it could be headed to Florida very soon, reports the Fort Myers News-Press.

PRAYERS for Tim Nungesser, the Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Business & Professional Regulation, to take care of his ailing father.

***Are you tired of getting your ASSETS TAXED OFF? Amendment 4 can help. Join the movement at TaxYourAssetsOff.com or check us out on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.***

CAN’T WAIT TO READ the new e-book from Mashable: Politics Transformed: The High Tech Battle for Your Vote. The book “uncovers the major ways in which tech is affecting the 2012 elections and beyond, including how the campaigns are collecting massive amounts of voter data and what they’re doing with it, how crowdfunding might change campaign finance forever, what role mobile will play in the future of campaign politics, why most of us still can’t vote from home online, how social media is helping to stop voter suppression, and what the future might hold for the presidential race of 2040.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Florida Petroleum Concil’s David Mica.

HARDLY ANYONE USING CAMPAIGN APPS: While 88 percent of registered voters own some sort of cell phone, according to a survey released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, just five percent have signed up to receive text messages from a campaign or related group, and only eight percent have used an app from a candidate.

WHERE ARE THE MOST EXPENSIVE VOTES?: Bloomberg TV has an interesting piece on the relative cost of electoral votes for the presidential campaigns.

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