Friday, November 30, 2007

Tim Mahoney Off the Friday Line

Every Friday, the Fix puts together a top ten list. It's a list of those seats most likely change hands, alternating between House, Senate, Governorships, etc.

Since narrowly winning election in 2006, Democrat Tim Mahoney of our 16th Congressional District has been on that list.

With very little fanfare, on this Friday's line, Mahoney was dropped from the list. What does this mean? It means that the Fix does not think that this seat is nearly as likely to change hands, i.e., that the Republicans will re-capture it.

Two Polls, Two Very Different Pictures of Florida
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll showed Giuliani maintaining an overwhelming here in the firewall state, with Romney sitting 21 points behind and Huckabee not even in double digits.

An Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion Poll shows a very different race in Florida, with Giuliani clinging to nine point lead over the fast rising Mike Huckabee.

What does this mean?

Both polls were done before the St. Petersburg debate, where Huckabee played a very good hand and probably increased his national numbers. I tend to believe the second poll, because it seems clear that Giuliani is fading a little. Not sinking like Fred Thompson, but definitely seeing his numbers decline or stagnate. Huckabee, in contrast, is moving nowhere but up. That won't last - he has some skeletons in his closet, some ethics issues that wipe some of the shine off that folksy, honest demeanor - but for now, Huckabee is the ascendancy.

As a side note, all of this may prove meaningless if recent allegations of misuse of city funds to pay for his sexual trysts stick to Giuliani. Becuase if they do, "America's Mayor" will disappear beneath the surface of our political waters and be lucky to resurface as an occasional talking head on Meet the Press.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Huckabee Rising in Florida?

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has already risen to 2nd place in Iowa - and in some polls is within the margin of error of Iowa frontrunner, Mitt Romney. Though I haven't seen the polls yet, word has it that he has also taken 2nd in Florida.

Just another reason for Giuliani to worry about the security of his "firewall."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Giuliani Distances Himself from "Florida Firewall"

For some time, it has been clear that Rudy Giuliani was not going to win the Iowa caucuses, but recent polls show that New Hampshire may also be slipping out of reach - as Mitt Romney takes leads in both states. Meanwhile, Fred Thompson's southern roots are helping him to run strong in South Carolina. He also seems to losing faith in his Florida Firewall's ability to keep him in the game should he lose Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

"It is not inconceivable that you could, if you won Florida [after losing in the early states], turn the whole thing around," Giuliani said. "I'd rather not do it that way. That would create ulcers for my entire staff and for me. . . . We want to win as many of the early ones as possible. That's why we're here and not in Florida right now."

Besides not wanting to tell voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina that he doesn't think he needs them, he is almost certainly sweating his "big state strategy" - which puts the focus on states that hold their primaries on or after February 5th. The main reason for this is that Romney has been translating his Iowa strength to New Hampshire and South Carolina (and also to Michigan, who have moved their primary up - Romney's grandfather was governor of Michigan). The "firewall" was based on no one racking enough wins in the early states to gain significant momentum. Now, it seems the Romney will be that person.

The Cook Political Report seems to concur, giving Romney the same odds as Giuliani to win the Republican presidential nomination - 45% each (leaving very little room for the likes of Thompson, McCain, and Huckabee to win, in Charlie Cook's estimation).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Crist and Nelson for VP?

So asks a pair of stories in the Tampa Tribune - one about Senator Bill Nelson and another addressing Governor Charlie Crist's chances of being their party's Vice Presidential standbearers in 2008.

The Nelson piece actually puts forward some good arguments for the Senator and makes him sound like a better choice than he did in 2004 (though I still believe him to be the successor to Bob Graham in one respect - doomed to be on the short list, but never on the ticket).

The Crist piece is actually deceptive - it lists all the reasons that no one in their right mind would pick him to join their ticket, including

"unsubstantiated rumors that he's gay"
"accusation of having fathered an illegitimate child, who was adopted by a St. Petersburg family 18 years ago"
"accused him of seeking offices more than results"

I have said before that there is no way Crist is going to be on the Republican ticket. The only major candidate who doesn't need a social conservative to balance him out is Fred Thompson, who does not need another politician from the South.

But, though I had not seriously considered Nelson likely before, I admit that the Tampa Tribune makes some good points (when was the last time someone said that?). I'm not sure he's risen ahead of people like former Navy Secretary and current U.S. Senator Jim Webb and former Governor and current U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, but the case has been made.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Florida Poll

A new Florida poll by the Republican firm, Strategic Vision, Florida that shows Rudy Giuliani leading with 31%, followed by a statistical tie for second place between Fred Thompson (13%), John McCain (13%), Mitt Romney (12%), and Mike Huckabee (10%).

The Democratic race is not nearly as close, with Hillary Clinton leading the field with 47%, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 27% and John Edwards trailing badly at 8%.

An Elon University poll of five southern states -Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia - showed similar results, though with Giuliani doing less well and Thompson apparently moving away from the pack into second place.

The Elon poll shows Hillary Clinton with 45%, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 17% and John Edwards at 11%.

Among Republicans, Rudy Giuliani leads with 25%, followed by Fred Thompson at 16%, Mitt Romney at 12%, Sen. John McCain at 8% and Mike Huckabe at 8%.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Faye Culp on GOP's Endangered List

The invitation to the GOP's battleground fundraiser contains Tampa's own perennial non-entity, Faye Culp.

One of the most non-descript members of our legislature, Faye has twice faced a challenge from Deborah Cope. Because of term limits, 2008 is the last year she can run for re-election to the state house.

The Republicans lost a numbert of seats in the Tampa Bay area in 2006 and are hoping to avoid a repeat - hence the attempt to shake down Tallahassee lobbyists for some of their most endangered members.

Young Opposes Legislation to Withdraw Troops, Ban Torture

The House passed legislation Wednesday that allocated $50 billion to get American troops out of Iraq by December 2008. The legislation also banned interrogation techniques that are not part of the Army Field Manual.

Young voted against the legislation and spoke out in particular against the anti-torture provisions, saying that they were "just not right" becuase the bill would offer "the same constitutional protection that all our constituents enjoy."

Among the techniques banned would be waterboarding, shown above.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Giuliani's Plan - Lose the First Three Contests, But Win Florida

On a conference call with reporters on Monday, Giuliani's campaign manager Mike DuHaime (see photo) was explicit about a strategy that ignored the early contests, focusing on later prizes.

DuHaime confirmed the reliance on the Florida firewall when a reporter asked, "are you guys confident that you guys could perhaps go 0 in 3 out the gates and still be strong in Florida in February?"

He replied, "Yes, I am confident of that." He added, "We believe that whoever wins Florida will have a delegate count lead going into February 5."

ABC political commentator Mark Halperin had already identified Florida as the key battleground for the GOP nomination - something that DuHaime clearly also believes.

Monday, November 12, 2007

CD 10: 2008 or 2010?

With Sen. Charlie Justice's semi-announcement that he wants to run for Bill Young's seat - but that he is certain to get in only if Young retires - brings up the question of timing.

No one wants to run against an incumbent Congressman, but are there other factors that make running now a better bet than running later?

Assuming this to be a question of 2008 or 2010, let's take a look.

Even though Young is waffling on this - no doubt torn between a clear desire to get out of the game and constant phone calls from NRCC chair Tom Cole, begging him not to retire - any examination of 2008 has to assume that Young will run for re-election.

Conversely, an honest examination of 2010 says that Young will be gone. If he doesn't retire next year, he will certainly not stand for re-election in 2010. Right now, he has spent less than a year as part of the minority. In 2010, not only will be be three years old, he will have spent three years in the minority. This is not something a master of Congressional pork, like Bill Young, will relish.

This all seems to point towards waiting for Young to retire - which means assuming a run in 2010, rather than 2008.

But there are other factors.

All signs point towards the tenth congressional district going for a Democrat in the presidential contest, meaning that 2008 will bring some coattails. In 2010, on the other hand, Crist will be up for re-election and will likely win this seat in his bid. For those saying, "but in 2008, might not Crist be on the Republican ticket," I say to you, "not a chance in h---."

Were the rumors about his orientation not enough to scuttle his odds, someone like Giuliani, a man who has been divorced twice - once from his second cousin - simply cannot afford a bachelor like Crist, whose recent dating choices have been suspect, at best.

So - in 2008, the Democrat is more likely to run against an incumbent, but will have the political winds from the top of the ticket blowing in his or her direction. In 2010, the opposite will true.

For Charlie Justice, there is also the factor that he is up re-election in 2010 and will have to choose, but in 2008, fresh off his upset victory over Kim Berfield, he has no such problem.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Florida Freshmen Are Two of the Top Ten Congressional Fundraisers

Newly elected Congressmen Ron Klein (see photo) and Vern Buchanan are among the top ten Congressional fundraisers, according to CQPolitics.

Klein is number four on the list with $1.8 million raised. Buchanan is number ten with $1.4 million.

Rep. Klein defeated long time incumbent Clay Shaw last year, in one of the most hotly contested races in the nation. Buchanan narrowly inherited the 13th Congressional district from Katherine Harris.

Buchanan's opponent, Christine Jennings, is one of the best fundraisers among congressional challengers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bush Family: A House Divided

Jeb Bush's older son, George P. Bush, has agreed to raise $50,000 for Fred Thompson - but his brother, "Jebby" Bush is Giuliani's chair for outreach to young professionals in Florida (one of those made up titles that campaigns give out and that really don't mean anything).

Jeb's brother, Neil, the one who cost taxpayers so much money in the S&L scandal of the 80s, attended an event for Mitt Romney.

There has also been the rumor that Jeb is providing Romney support behind the scenes.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rudy Not Defending His Firewall?

There was some talk about Giuliani using Florida as a firewall to keep in the race should he lose Iowa (which is almost certain) and/or New Hampshire (which is likely).

But Slate, which has been tracking candidate appearances, found that only Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney have bothered to visit Florida since the October 21st debate here in Florida.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Jennings a Top Challenger Fundraiser

Christine Jennings lost a controversial election last year due to drastic undervotes in Sarasota and is running again for the 13th.

The Congressional Quarterly analyzed the receipts of all the congressional challengers this cycles and found Jennings to be the 9th best fundraiser in the country, among challengers.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bush Vetoes $2 Billion to Save the Everglades; Thompson Open to Drilling in the Everglades

A water bill, containing $2 billion to prop up the floundering efforts to save the Everglades, a state and national treasure and one of the most beautiful and important eco-systems in the contry, was vetoed today by President Bush.

No doubt his reasons for doing - most likely related to other aspects of the bill - we desperately need Washington's help.

Since Bush took office in 2000, the promised federal help has not come.

While Florida has contributed $2 billion to the effort, Washington has spent only $358 million.

We have to do something!

Please urge Senators Nelson and Martinez to push for the $2 billion and more from Washington. We cannot do this alone.

Nelson is already fighting hard for the Everglades, opposing Bush's proposed veto, as well the administration's effort to take the Everglades off the list of endangered national parks.

Even Martinez is ready to vote to override a veto.

We need to let them know we will support them when they vote to protect the Everglades and we must urge them to redouble their efforts.

They must demand a vote to override the veto and they must win it! The bill passed both the House and Senate by wide margins - enough to override a veto if everyone who voted for it also votes to override the veto. Martinez, in particular, must convince his Republican colleagues not to waver and to side with our national heritage and not their president.

On a side note, I urge everyone to withdraw any and all support for Fred Thompson - the Washington Post reported that he suggested he might allow oil drilling [in the Everglades]. As far as I'm concerned, that suggestion is a criminal act and tantamount to treason and the man should be heckled and booed every time he steps foot in our state until he gets the message that Florida doesn't want him and doesn't want him in the White House.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Defense Contractor, Under Investigation for Bribery, Maxed Out to Young's Campaign, Gets $21 Million Earmark in Defense Bill

Taxpayers for Common Sense and the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative-leaning nonprofit, sent a letter to Bill Young, the ranking member of the House Appropriations committee, urging him to suspend millions of dollars in earmarks for BAE Systems.

The Department of Justice is investigating BAE Systems for alleged bribery in dealings with Saudi Arabia. According to news reports, BAE set up a slush fund with hundreds of millions of dollars in a Washington, D.C. bank to bribe Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan in order to win weapons contracts.

BAE gave Young the maximum $10,000 in his easy victory over unknown Democrat, Samm Simpson.

According to data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, seven earmarks worth $21 million are targeted at BAE programs in a House defense-spending bill.

The group says that 'the committee will be sending the message that the way to success in getting taxpayers’ money is to put your facilities in key congressional districts, give campaign donations to those congressmen, and hope the Congress rewards you despite an ongoing federal investigation regarding possible defrauding of the government and accusations of bribery."

Republicans Spending Big in Florida

Typically, the biggest spending in a presidential primary is in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire - but on the Republican side, things aren't shaping up that way.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Florida is one of the biggest beneficiaries of Republican campaign spending.

We have already writtena about Florida being Rudy's firewall against defeat and Mark Halperin calling Florida the key to the GOP nomination.

There is another factor - at least for Thompson and Giuliani. And that is that both candidates have already all but acknowledged defeat in Iowa, where Mitt Romney's organization is firmly in control.