Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Helm's PAC Investigated

The Florida political committee of Adrian Helm, the wife of former Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee chairman Ed Helm, is under investigation.

The committee, the Pinellas Democrats PAC, is under investigation over a $5,000 contribution from activist Frank Lupo.

My understanding of Florida campaign finance rules is that political committees can only raise $500 per contributor and can only provide contributions (including in-kind) of $500 per candidate. The Florida Division of Elections appears to list the committee as a political committee.

Hillary Hires Veteran of Florida Campaigns

Mo Elleithee was hired by Senator Hillary Clinton as a senior spokesman. Mo's Florida ties include managing Attorney General Janet Reno's gubernatorial race and working as Sen. Bob Graham's communications director on his short-lived presidential campaign.

Mo has a pretty impressive resume as a communications director for Tim Kaine's successful, 2005 campaign for Virginia governor and was press secretary on Mark Warner's also successful 2001 campaign for Virginia governor (Virginia governor's are not allowed to hold successive terms).

He brings a record of working in some of the country's most difficult media markets (South Florida and Washington, DC/Northern Virginia) and his record in Virginia speaks for his ability to help elect Democrats in "red" states (in the case of current Virginia Govenor Tim Kaine, the ability to elect a flat out liberal in a "red" state).

Monday, January 29, 2007

St. Pete Senator Takes a Leadership Role on Protecting Taxpayer's Money

Newly electe Senator Charlie Justice (D-St. Petersburg) is sponsoring a bill to prevent local governments could not spend public funds in favor or against a ballot item, and could not pay anyone to run such a campaign. At present, local governments are allowed (and frequently do) to spend taxpayer money to campaign for or against ballot initiatives. Justice's bill would prevent this behavior.

He is also sponsoring legislation to make it illegal for local governments to sue each other and another to outlaw the practice by cities of using state-owned land to make it easier to grab adjacent private property in annexations.

Crist a "McCain Man?"

Former Massachussetts Governor and almost certain GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been busy scooping up operatives with close ties to Jeb Bush, but the Washington Post suggests that while Romney may have the edge with the former governor, Sen. John McCain may hav the current governor on his side.

Crist already appeared to snub Romney by attending a McCain event and now the post hints that Crist is already McCain's man.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tampa's Adam Goodman Appears Out of Giuliani's Inner Circle

The Washington Post has been chronicling the "inner circles" of the various announced and likely presidential contenders and this blogger has not been the first to notice that Tampa's Adam Goodman is no longer considered part of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's team.

Goodman was Giuliani's longtime media consultant, but no longer appears to figure in the mayor's presidential plans. He has hired Katie Levinson, former director of television operations at the White House and communications director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's successful re-election campaign. Bringing her on without having chosen a media consultant suggests that he might be seeking her input in choosing his new communications team rather simply using previous consultants.

Don't worry though - Adam will be just fine.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Martinez Officially Takes Charge of RNC

Senator Mel Martinez (see photo) was officially instated as chair of the Republican National Committee on Friday, Jan 19th. He succeeded Ken Mehlhman (see photo).

Despite Mehlman's success as Presidet Bush's campaign manager was never reflected in his tenure at the RNC. He attempted to reach out to African-Americans and Latinos and repudiated the GOP's so-called "Southern Strategy," wherein Republican candidates would utilize race related wedge issues to win white voters, but racist ads continued to be used by high profile candidates while he was at the helm - ads that he defended.

Of course, he also led the RNC during Congressional Republicans worst year since 1974.

Despite Mehlman set the bar low, Sen. Martinez is quickly running into trouble with conservatives over the immigration issue.

This blogger has also questioned the wisdom of the choice - though for very different reasons.

Sink Wasting No Time in Building Profile

While our new CFO, Tampa's Alex Sink, will clearly be a bit of a policy wonk in her new post (a necessary trait if we are going to seriously address the issue of homeowner's insurance), she is also building and expanding her profile.

Sink has been aggressively contacting her constituents via e-mail with regular newsletters (I've received two so far this year). She has also appeared on Florida Face to Face in an episode that will be broadcase in the Tampa Bay area on WEDU channel 3 at 11:30 am on Sunday, January 21.

Relating to the problem of rising homeowner's insurance premiums, she is pushing hard for HB 5A, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representatives Franklin Sands (D-Weston) and Tampa Bay's own Trey Traviesa (D-Brandon). HB 5A would, among other things, expand access to the services available from the My Safe Florida Home program.

“I share the Legislature’s goal of ensuring the proper protections are in place and serving a greater number of Floridians through the My Safe Florida Home program,” said Sink. “This program provides valuable information, and we are finding that many homes are better fortified than are currently recorded by insurance companies. Many homeowners are eligible to receive discounts from their insurance companies without even making a single improvement.”

Thursday, January 11, 2007

2008 Presidential Candidates: The Florida Connection

Lately, a number of political operatives with Florida ties have been scooped up would-be presidetial contenders and this seems as good an excuse as any to discuss the 2008 primaries and caucuses.

Most of the stories have been on the GOP side, from Senator John McCain and former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney courting Jeb Bush, to Gov. Charlie Crist attending a McCain reception in Miami Lakes.

However, the biggest news is Luis Navarro leaving his position as executive director of the Florida Democratic Party to manage the fledgling presidential campaign of Delaware Senator Joseph Biden (see photo). I have had some dealings with Biden in the past and he is an impressive candidate, but he is not high on anyone's handicapping list.

Biden ran for president once before - in 1988. He will be a strong fundraiser at least initially. The reason why? Check your credit card bill. The address will almost invariably say "Wilmington, DE." That's right. For various tax reasons (Delaware is a sort of mini tax haven), many financial institutions are actually incorporated in Delaware - and Biden will be able to tap that for his fundraising base. He will also be able to use his bully pulpit as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to burnish his credentials on the Iraq war debacle.

Despite these advantages, he lacks many of the advantages of some of the other candidates. His fundraising base isn't as broad as some other candidates and his star power is nowhere near candidates like Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He also doesn't have strong connections to any of the early test states like New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (whose latino heritage and proximity to Nevada will serve him well in that state's caucus and who, my sources tell me, will announce before the end of January) or former Senator John Edwards (who was born in South Carolina).

In other news, Romney hired Mandy Fletcher, who worked for both Bush brothers and also consulted for Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

St. Petersburg College Benefits from Late Pork Flurry - Martinez Implies Credit

While the last days of the old Congress were better known for abdication of responsibility (having only passed nine of eleven appropriation bills, instead using continuing resolutions to keep the government running until a new Democratic controlled Congress could start - it seems that even Republican Congresspersons think Democrats would do a better job), some things were accomplished - including something for our own St. Petersburg College (which this author still remembers as St. Petersburg Junior College).

Less than popular Florida Senator Mel Martinez applauded the $1.2 million given to St. Petersburg College for job training programs in healthcare, specializing in information technology. While the press release is meant to imply that Martinez had something to do with this, it is far more likely that the St. Petersburg area Congressman and the cunning former chair of the House Appropriations Committee pulled the strings for the college. Even in a lean year for pork, Young was able to take advantage of a minor, last minute flurry of earmarks.