Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another Jebbie for Romney

In the previous post, we noted that supporters of George W. Bush have been very visibly aligning themselves with the presidential campaign of Arizona Senator and independent maverick cum establishment figure, John McCain, but that in Florida, figures associated with Jeb Bush have been jumping onboard former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney's campaign (one of the ways in which Gov. Crist has been publicy, though subtly putting space between his own moderate to liberal views and those of his predecessor is by lending support to McCain).

Well, along those lines, the Jeb appointed former Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood has joined the Romney team. While Hood (see photo) may best be known for presiding over and doing nothing about a serious of election debacles, she is also a former Orlando mayor and will be an important ally for support along the I-4 corridor.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Split Among the Bush Brothers?

There has been a great deal of discussion about how various Florida Republican operatives have been dividing up between McCain, Romney, and Giuliani. Recently, the Hill postulated there was split among operatives linked to the Bush family, with those close to President Bush lining up behind McCain and those close to former Gov. Jeb Bush throwing their support Romney.

However, one spectator suggests the split does not represent division in the Bush family, but a Machiavellian strategy.

“Jeb Bush may be putting together the backup team,” said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Should McCain falter and prove not very appetizing, they’ve designated his successor.”

Baker said Romney “represents the fallback position of the Bush White House without having the Washington Bush supporters withdraw their support of McCain.”

“It’s betting on two horses,” said Baker of the Bush family’s apparent hedging strategy. “It seems to me an effort to diversify their portfolio.”

Martinez Under Pressure to Use RNC Funds for Senate Candidates

This writer was one of many who did not think that Senator Mel Martinez (seen above with his RNCpredecessor, Ken Mehlman) had the chops to lead the Republican National Committee (though it had nothing to do with his stance of immigration, which puts him to the left of the Republican base). Frankly, nothing has happened since he took charge to change my opinion.

But until recently, he was doing nothing to make the situation worse for national Republicans - but that may have changed. Martinez appeared to be sending a subtle signal that the RNC may be discreetly ceding the presidency to the Democrats in '08.

What do I mean?

Martinez recently told the Hill, and insider baseball publication: "Traditionally, in presidential years the RNC has not been of much help to either of the committees,” he said, referring to the NRSC and its House counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee. “My hope is that this year we can be of some help, that we can raise enough funds to take care of our presidential needs and also help Republican [Senate] candidates."

In 2006, then RNC chair Ken Mehlman poured tens of millions of dollars into Senate and Congressional races, but the RNC and DNC traditionally save their 2008 ammo for the presidential campaign, something that Martinez alluded.

By leaving out there the possibility of draining valuable resources from their presidential operation, Martinez is admitting the possibility that the best the Republicans can do next year is hold on to their current seats in the House and Senate (with, perhaps, some gains in the House and some losses in the Senate) and that it may impossible for the Republicans to hold onto the White House because of President Bush's low numbers, his unpopular war, and a seemingly neverending stream of scandals (including the Walter Reed scandal that has been spread all the way down to Florida to affect Pinellas Congressman Bill Young).

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The "Young Question" - the New York Times Gets in on the Game

There's been a long running discussion about Young's possible retirement, especially in light of the Walter Reed scandal and his negligent oversight of that disgrace. Many of the discussions lately have been around who the Democrats will recruit to run for the seat.

Lo and behold, some of the names mentioned by this blogger and others recently surfaced in the New York Times!

While a number of Democrats have been mentioned, the article zeroed in on the three most popular - Charlie Justice and Bill Heller, each of whom recently won a legislative seat previously held by a Republican, and Richard Kriseman (see photo), the former St. Pete city councilman and current state representative.

All three have reasonably good name recognition - Kriseman because of his long time public in service in south pinellas, Heller because of his profile as the former dean of USF-St. Petersburg, and Justice because of his victory in the most closely watched and highest profile legislative campaign in the state.

Another article mentioned some names that were new to me - former state Rep. Lars Hafner and former state House Speaker Peter Rudy Wallace, and Bayfront Medical Center CEO Sue Brody.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Young Takes on a More Partisan Tone

Congressman Bill Young's future plans have been a source of much speculation here, but let's take a look at what he's actually been up to.

While some folks have focused on his recent inaction on the Walter Reed scandal(rather than working to fix the problems which he saw in his frequent visits to the facility, he opted to simply stop visiting wounded soldiers at the hospital), I'm interested in a recent parliamentary maneuver he engaged in.

Young recently introduced an amendment in the House Appropriations Committee calling for immediate and total withdrawal from Iraq. "I'm not going to vote for it," said Young, "but let's find out where Congress really stands."

This was a little partisan maneuver to damange anti-war Democrats and was not serious, especially when one considers that even most of the members of the House "Out of Iraq" Caucus support a phased withdrawal over the rest of 2007, rather the immediate withdrawal. Had Young introduced a amendment calling for a phased withdrawal over the next nine months or twelve months, he might have actually succeeded in learning where Congress stands, but that wasn't what this was about.

So what was it about? Does Young's willingness to play these games signal increased partisanship from the long-serving politician? If so, rumors of his retirement might be overrated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Florida Democratic Party, Charlie Justice Win "Pollies"

Every year, the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) hands out its awards to the best political advertisements.

This year, in the awards celebrating work done in 2006, the Florida Democratic Party won the silver for a piece in support of Charlie Justice's campaign for State Senate.

Sen. Charlie Justice's campaign won a silver for the overall direct mail for a Democrat category (this includes U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, and all other statewide and legislative races in the country).

Both the Florida Democratic Party and Justice's pieces were designed by Tallahassee's Dylan Sumner of the Mack/Crounse Group.

Click here for a complete list of Pollie Award winner.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mulhern Wins, Redner Forces Miller into a Run Off

Mary Mulhern narrowly defeated city councilman Shawn Harrison for Tampa's citywide 3nd city council district on Tuesday by 13,180 votes to 12,592. Though technically nonpartisan, with only two candidates - one Republican (Harrison) and one Democratic (Mulhern) - the race quickly became a test of the strength of each party. After years of seeing Tampa Bay become steadily more Republican, Mulhern and Bay Area Democrats showed unexpected life by out hustling the better funded Harrison. Hillsborough Democrats saw it as an opportunity to seize the intiative in an area that had been trending Republican in recent years. Mulhern was outspent, with Harrison raising a record $215,000 for his city council campaign to swamp Mulhern's $48,000 in contributions. Much of Harrison's money went into television ads, while his opponent focused on direct mail. This represents a notable success for Democrats in the area, because the seat is also a pick up for the party - it's previous holder was a now County Commissioner Rose Ferlita, a Republican.

I was not convinced that the hard work and shoe leather of Mulhern's supporters would be enough against Harrison, but she proved me wrong. Kudos to Blurbex for seeing Mulhern's way to victory relatively early in the race (before she earned the endorsement of the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune).

In the other exciting race, incumbent Gwen Miller will face a run off with provacateur Joe Redner. Miller looked vulnerable, but finished strong as the highest vote getter by a 1,000 vote margin - but in a crowded field (there were six candidates), that was never going to be enough. Redner did not spend much of his own money in the primary, counting on name recognition from his race against county commissioner Jim Norman to carry him into a run off. Now that he's made it, there's no way of knowing whether or not he'll dip into his own, deep pockets to finance the second leg of the campaign.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More Bill Young Speculation

The Fix, a political blog on the Washington Post website, has put up a list of its top ten races to watch in 2008 - races that were not competitive last November, but which might be become battlegrounds in 2008. And who should appear at number on that list but our own 10th district!

But why would Bill Young, who rather easily won re-election last year, be on that list?

Because, especially now that he is part of the new Republican minority, Young is considered a likely candidate to retire. At 76, in a closely divided district (it narrowly went for Gore in 2000 and as narrowly for Bush in 2004), with his chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee (or, indeed, any other chairmanship) nothing but a fading memory, is Young finally ready to retire? Particularly if a strong, well-funded challenger emerges? It seems that virtually everyone has predicted his retirement at some time or another over the last ten years, but never in the last thirteen years have the inducements to remain been so meagre Young.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hillsborough Democrats to Hold GOTV Canvass for Tampa City Council Candidates

As part of an effort to preserve the Democratic majority on the Tampa City Council, Hillsborough Democrats are holding Tampa GOTV Super Walk on Saturday, March 3 at 9:30 am at Ballast Point Park at 5300 Interbay Boulevard in Tampa.

The marquis match up is looking to be Republican Shawn Harrison versus Democrat Mary Mulhern. Harrison is a sitting member of the city council, but term limits are forcing him to leave his 7th district seat and run for an open, city wide district 2 seat. Mary Mulhern is a community activists and former candidate for county commission.