Monday, October 29, 2007

Tampa Bay Sites Win Two Netroots Award

The winners of the First Annual Netroots Awards, sponsored by the Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition, have been announced and Tampa Bay did very well with two winners.

Winner Best Local Blog: Tampa Bay Blue.

Winner Best Media Blog: The Buzz.

Congratulations all around.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Justice for the Tenth District?

What does it mean for the Tampa Bay area when State Senator Charlie Justice says that he is "pretty darn close" to being 100% committed to running for the 10th Congressional District - if Rep. Bill Young retires?

In the first place, it means "tough luck" to a lot of Democrats, if he's serious.

If you read the comments section here, you'll hear some pretty harsh words about Justice - most of which are completely unfair. The truth is, Justice has been a very active Senator and has driven a lot of issues, especially considering that he is in the minority party.

In short, Justice is among the strongest Democratic candidate for the seat, having already shown he can win 50-50 districts in his underdog victory over Rep. Kim Berfield.

Unfortunately, by stating his interest, he has also pressured other Democrats not to run.

Should Bill Young retire, you would have say that the seat leans Democrat, even if only marignally. Though the 10th went for Bush in 2004, it went for Gore in 2000 and the current dynamics suggest it will go for Democrat (particularly Clinton) by a bigger margin than it went for either Bush or Gore. Anyone who argues differently, frankly, has either not been following the numbers or is engaging in some poorly thought out partisan spin.

The best way to encourage Young to retire? Find a top quality candidate run against him. Young's fundraising in the last quarter was anemic and he took a beating over his failure to effectively respond to the poor conditions at Walter Reed Hospital, and he clearly doesn't have much passion for the job anymore. If Young knew he would face a strong candidate like Justice - or Rep. Rick Kriseman, Karl Nurse, Sue Brody or any of the other names that have been bandied about - then the odds go up that he retires.

Until Justice forms a committee to start accepting contribution for federal office, the DCCC has to focus on finding a candidate who will regardless of whether Young is running for re-election or not. That candidate may well be Sen. Justice - but until he makes his intentions known, he is only pressuring others from getting into the race, rather than pressuring Young by letting the Congressman know that he will have a real race on his hands and be forced to actively defend his record to the voters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tampa Bay Well Represented in Florida's Annual Netroots Awards

The list of nominees for the Annual Netroots Awards is heavy on Bay area organizations and candidates.

Under best local blog, local blogs GusWatch and Tampa Bay Blue were nominated.

Among the media blogs, the Buzz was nominated.

2006 FL-10 Congressional candidate Samm Simpson got a nod among the professional sites.

The East Hillsborough Democratic Club is up for best local political party website.

Tampa's at-large city councilwoman, Mary Mulhern, is up for netroots candidate of the year.

You have until Friday to send your votes to to support local online progressives!

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Indignities for Martinez

Martinez shame at his Ignominious exit from the RNC after only ten months was compounded at the Republican debate in Florida on Sunday night.

Florida's own bi-partisan/post-partisan golden child, Gov. Charlie Crist, was lovingly framed in every shot of the moderators, behind whom he sat.

In contrast, our poor junior Senator, was not so lucky. Despite being seated in a place of honor alongside Crist, behind the moderators, the head of one of the moderators blocked the camera from seeing Martinez.

Apparently, the Republicans don't want anyone to see that Mel is with them.


In addition, an for you viewing enjoyment, TPM put together a mash-up of all the times Hillary Clinton (the clear winner of the GOP debate) was mentionaed - including in the focus group Frank Luntz put together following the debate.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Now Taking Bets on When Young Will Retire

Bill Young's office isn't even taking the trouble to seriously deny the retirement rumors.

In the Buzz, it says "Young spokesman Harry Glenn checked with his boss Saturday afternoon and said that nothing has changed with the Congressman and that he has not decided if he will run again."

These rumors have been flying around for months. If Glenn has to check with Young before he can confirm that Young is still in it, then Young isn't really in it. If Young were committed to running, his staff would know and his communications director would already have a ready answer (a well run press operation has the answers to these basic questions). Also, a spokesperson typically only speaks on the record if the elected official will find it awkward to have the quote attributed to him or her (when I've spoken on the record, it typically meant things have gone horribly wrong and that my candidate is hiding in a bunker with Cheney).

In short, game over. The question now is whether Mrs. Beverly Young (his wife) jumps in and, if not, who takes up the GOP mantle and whether Rep. Rick Kriseman or Sen. Charlie Justice jumps in on the Democratic side.

My suspicion is that the wait is less because Young hasn't decided, but more because of pressure from the National Republican Congressional Committee and its chairman, Rep. Tom Cole. Because this seat will be difficult to hold without Young on the ballot, they will want to be ready to rally around a single candidate before the official announcement is leaked.

Leading GOP contenders will be his wife, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, and Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel.

On the Democratic side, Kriseman and Justice, as noted above, but also former state representative Lars Hafner, former state House Speaker Peter Rudy Wallace, and Bayfront Medical Center CEO Sue Brody.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bush Pretends Former RNC Chairman Martinez Not a Disaster for the GOP

When our own Senator Mel Martinez tendered his long expected resignation, President Bush issued a statement which not even the most optimistic Republican activist could possibly believe:

His goal was to ensure our party had the structure and resources in place for all Republican candidates in the 2008 elections to be successful. He has more than fulfilled that mission.

I believe this to be, as you have no doubt gathered from my tone, complete hogwash.

Martinez has been miserable as chair of the RNC. The Republican candidates for President are being out raised by the Democrats to an astonishing degree and the hypothetical ticket of crazy former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel and a potted plant is polling ahead of the leading GOP contenders in head to head match ups.

Martinez was brought in to shore GOP support among Latinos, but has seen leading Republicans avoid Latino voters like the plague, no doubt for fear of appearing soft on undocumented immigrants. Martinez was brought in to shore up Florida ahead of November 2008, but polls show Democratic frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Clinton, beating all takers in the Sunshine State.

No. The only mission Martinez has fulfilled is giving Democrats hope for a clean sweep next year. He will be lucky to hold on to his Senate seat in 2010 (we are taking bets on whether he even runs for re-election).

In the meantime, the Democratic National Committee is in mourning. They know that Martinez was one of their strongest allies in their quest to win the White House in 2008. With Mel gone, there is the possiblity that someone competent, qualified, or at least not embarrassing will take over at the RNC.

On the bright side, with Martinez becoming less visible, the odds of him publicly humiliating us on any given day have dropped considerably.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Florida GOP Incuments Posting Strong Numbers - Bill Young Excluded

Two Florida Republicans who have already been targeted for defeat by the Democratic Congressional Camapaign Committee (DCCC) posted impressive numbers. Rep. Tom Feeney raised $336,000, his strongest fundraising quarter since he was first elected. He is anticipating a tough challenge from former state Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, who just announced her candidacy last week.

Freshman Rep. Vern Buchanan, banked about $414,000 in the quarter. Banker Christine Jennings , who narrowly lost to Buchanan last year, raised about $263,000.

As most of you know, one of the most popular drinking games in the Tampa Bay area is "guess when Bill Young will retire." The game is, when Young denies he will retire, but then turns around and says something or does something that suggests he is planning to retire, the participants have to do a shot of tequila. And let's just say that Southwestern Regional Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee - the person in charge of keeping this seat Republican - has been going through bottles of Patron like every day was Cinco de Mayo.

To fule to the fire, Rep. Bill Young raised only $29,000.

An incumbent congressman can raise $29,000 without doing anything - just wait for the lobbyist checks to float in naturally. Clearly, Young is not making any effort to raise money.

He did make a strong appearance in the previous report - $201,000. It now seems like Young merely made the effort in order to forestall the retirement rumors, but that, in truth, his heart is not it anymore.

Florida Falling Behind in Women's Health

Florida is ranked 24th in the nation for women's health according to the National Women's Law Center. Florida's ranking dropped three spots from 2004, the last time the center did a report card on women's health.

Part of the reason for the poor results is the high number of Florida women lacking health insurance - a whopping 24%.

Florida got failing grades in categories including Pap smears, leisure-time physical activity, smoking, heart-disease death rate, lung-cancer death rate, high blood pressure, diabetes and poverty.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Quinnipiac Poll Has Clinton Beating GOP Candidates in Florida

An October 10th Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton defeating Giuliani 46% - 43%, breaking a 44% - 44% tie in the last Quinnipiac, done September 12th. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3%.

Clinton's support is also quite deep - 59% of her supporters in the poll say they are unlikely to change their mind.

"The news just keeps getting better for Sen. Clinton... [she] is widening her margin over the Republican hopefuls in each of those three critical states [Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio]," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Mayor Giuliani's lead over his Republican counterparts remains stable, but the vast, vast majority of Republicans don't believe he has the nomination locked up, and even six in ten of his supporters say they are somewhat or very likely to change their mind," Brown said.

Only 14% of GOP voters polled believed that Giuliani had the nomination locked up.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Florida General Election Numbers - Clinton Running Strong

A SurveyUSA poll, completed on October 1st, has Senator Hillary Clinton leading all three leading GOP candidates (former Gov. Mitt Romney, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Senator Fred Thompson) is head to head match ups in Florida. Giuliani comoes closest, being only 6 points behind, which is within the margin of error of +/- 4.4%.

Clinton v. Giuliani - 49/43
Clinton v. Thomspn - 50/42
Clinton v. Romney - 51/41

Obama v Giuliani - 41/50
Obama v. Thompson - 42/48
Obama v. Romney - 44/46

Edwards v. Giuliani - 43/48
Edward v. Thompson - 46/43
Edwards v. Romney - 50/37

I would like to issue a caveat - I don't completely trust SurveyUSA. gives them a thumbs up for their disclosure of methodology, but I am not sold on their automated calling system (same goes for Rasmussen).

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Latest GOP Florida Poll

The most recent Insider Advantage poll is now available. The poll gives Rudy Giuliani a ten point advantage - 29 to 19 - over Fred Thompson. Romney is third with 16&.

Even though I didn't see a margin of error, the 725 voter sample probably means a margin of error of between 3.5 to 4.0, putting Romney and Thompson in a statistical dead heat.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hoyer to Keynote 2007 Florida Democratic State Convention

The Florida Democratic Party's 2007 convention will take place at Disney World on October 27th. U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will be delivering the keynote address. Hoyer is known as a moderate Democrat.

FDP chair Karen Thurman noted that the location put the convention near the districts of two of their biggest congressional targets in 2008 - Ric Keller and Tom Feeney, both representing central Florida. Feeney is hampered by his need to focus on raising money for his legal defense fund and Keller is considered at risk from a spirited primary challenge. Both Congressman voted against the S-CHIP bill to expand healthcare coverage for poor and middle class children.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Klein and Mahoney Support a Federal Cat Fund

Two of Florida's new Democratic Representatives Ron Klein and Tim Mahoney - both of whom defeated Republican incumbents last fall - submitted a proposal to the House last month that would build on this by setting up a federal catastrophe fund where state funds could pool their risks. Perhaps the failure of Representatives Clay Shaw and Mark Foley to take similar action had something to do with their losses to Klein and Mahoney, respectively. Or maybe it had more to do Foley's history of sexually harrassing adolescent boys.

Next time former Senator Fred Thompson is in town and he is asked about a catastrophe fund, he could ask Klein and Mahoney for advice.

Martinez Wants Out of the RNC

Sen. Mel Martinez was always an imperfect choice for chair of the Republican National Committee. An unimpressive campaigner and a clumsy Senator, the only thing recommending him above sharper minds like former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele was his ethnicity and his close relationship with President Bush.

Well, it looks like Martinez won't even last a full cycle.

Less than a year after his appointment, Martinez is preparing to step down, according to conservative columnist and Washington insider, Robert Novak.

Martinez' tenure has been marked by a failure of the GOP's national committees to recover from the shock last November's defeats and the personal embarrassment over the refusal of all the leading candidates for the presidential nomination to debate on Spanish language television.

Novak writes that Martinez will step down after the nominee is determined, which is likely to be sometime in February.

Democrats are no doubt worried that a competent chair will be installed in his place. This writer will be pleased to see Martinez adopt a lower profile, thereby reducing the embarrassment he causes Florida.


On another note, it appears that former Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president after all. After stepping down from the speakership in relative disgrace, Gingrich has effectively rehabilitated his image and this writer, for one, is disappointed that he will be denied the pleasure of seeing him run intellectual circles around several of the intellectual lightweights currently vying for the Republican nomination.