Thursday, November 30, 2006

Crist Attends McCain Event in Miami Lakes

Arizona Senator and GOP presidential hopeful John McCain is hosting an event this evening in Miami Lakes for Republican governors. While Gov. Jeb Bush will not be attending (many of Bush's closest aides have signed on to McCain's primary rival - Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney), Gov.-Elect Charlie Crist will there.

What does this mean? Potentially nothing, but it could also be considered a slap in the face of Romney, who led the Republican Governors Assocation (RGA), the GOP campaign arm devoted to electing Republican governors. Considering the RGA just helped elect Crist, one can't help but think Romney is somewhere fuming over a perceived stab in the back.

However, Romney is positioning himself in the presidential contest as the social conservative in the race and is doing the most outreach to the evangelical. As a staunch religious and social conservative, one could easily see the possible affinity beween Jeb and Romney.

On the other hand, as a pro-choice Republican who also supports civil unions for homosexual couples, it is easy to understand why Crist would want to distance himself from Romney - even to the point of offering tacit support to Romney's biggest rival, say by attending an event hosted by that rival.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Florida Congresswoman in the Running to Chair DCCC

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (see photo), who represents communities in South Florida, is one of three Democratic members of Congress being considered for the Chairmanship of the Democratic Congressinal Campaign Committee. Current Chair, Illinois Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, is stepping after a successful election that saw Democrats retake both chambers of Congress.

Since winning her seat in 2004, Schultz has earned a reputation as a strong fundraiser and has campaigned aggressively for other Democrats (her own seat, formerly held by Peter Deustche, it considered safe).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Martinez to Head RNC

Florida Senator Mel Martinez (seen here with recently defeated GOP Senator Rick Santorum) was selected to succeed Ken Mehlman as head of the Republican National Committee. Mehlman began letting the press know that he would be stepping as it became clear that his first cycle as chair of the RNC would go down in the books as an unmitigated disaster.

Martinez was not the obvious choice - at least not to this blogger. Maryland's outgoing Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele was actively campaigning for the job. Though he lost his campaign for the U.S. Senate, he was almost universally applauded as a savvy campaigner. An African-American himself, he would also have been the obvious choice to continue Mehlman's avowed goal of reaching out to African-American voters.

Senator Martinez on the other hand, has developed a reputation for silly gaffes and ineffectuality. He was clearly picked for four reasons - to help keep Florida red, to tap the deep pockets of Florida donors, to reach out to Latino voters, and because he is very close to President Bush.

In 2004, Latino voters were a true swing bloc, with Bush winning 44% of Latinos. In 2006, the GOP seemed to unilaterally decide to throw away all of the goodwill and gains they had made, winning only 30% of Latino votes in the last election.

There is little doubt that the Florida Republican Party will benefit from Martinez' new position. But there is still a great deal of doubt (at least in my mind) as to how effective Martinez will be, particularly since he will remain in the Senate and leave Mike Duncan, the RNC's general counsel, in charge of the day to day operations of that organization.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Make No Mistake - Tuesday Was Not a Good Night for the Florida Republican Party

There's a reason why Florida Republican Party Chairwman Carole Jean Jordan is will almost certainly step down and why the replacement is likely to be former Speaker Allan Bense - someone completely unconnected to Tuesday's elections.

Rank and file may be excited by Charlie Crist's promotion to the Governor's mansion, but insiders are not pleased.

The GOP retained the governorship only by circling the wagons to stop the campaign of conservative Republican Tom Gallagher and backing a pro-choice, pro-civil union candidate in Charlie Crist. They lost two congressional seats and may lose another in Sarasota, they lost their uncontested grip on statewide constitutional offices with the election of Alex Sink as CFO, and they lost eight legislative seats - including their number one target in Tampa Bay's own SD 16 (which also creates a 21-19 moderate majority in the Florida Senate). And let's not forget that the nation's most vulnerable Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson, sailed to re-election over a joke of a candidate in Katherine Harris.

The conservative ascendancy begun in the early nineties and that culminated in the election of Jeb Bush, a popular governor who was also a die hard conservative, has hit a roadblock.

The question now is whether the GOP will be able to regroup as a more moderate party under Bense and Crist, or whether Democratic successes the other night foreshadow what happened in the late eighties - the last time we saw (but did not fully recognize) the end of one party rule in Tallahassee.

GOP operative, elected officials, and activists will be able to ride on the good feelings generated by Crist's crushing defeat of Democrat Jim Davis, but it's only a matter of time before the reality of their reduced power becomes clear.

This is not to say Democrats are dancing in the streets. They are still the clear minority party in Tallahassee and they failed to effectively challenge for a potentially wide open governor's race. But they now have real power in Florida and a base to build on.

I personally do not see Democrats winning the state back in the next four years, but what happens in the next four years will go a long way towards determing happens in the next six to eight. I do wonder whether the GOP will not miss Jeb more than they might admit. He was a rare figure - a hard line social conservative who was well liked by moderates and rarely seen as polarizing figure, despite very conservative views. Crist is also well liked by moderates, but shares relatively little of Jeb's conservative ideology. It's an open question as to what this means for the GOP. Crist could succeed in continuing the GOP ascendancy led by Jeb, or he could be more like Lawton Chiles - a blip in a trend line moving in the other direction.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Election Night Party

Rep. Charlie Justice, who is running for the 16th Senate District, is holding his Election Night party at the Holiday Inn Select on 3535 Ulmerton Road Clearwater, FL 33762.

As I find out about more Election Night events, I will try to post them. However, it is likely I will not have much time between and the Election.

So, in case this is a final message - VOTE!

Click here to find your polling location if you live in Pinellas County. It's listed by precinct. If you don't know your precinct, click here.

In Hillsborough County, click here to find your polling place.

If you have questions, please call the office of your Supervisor of Elections.