Monday, February 19, 2007

Gov. Granholm Brings in Big Names for Mulhern Fundraiser

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (see photo) headlined a fundraiser on Saturday, February 17 for Tampa City Couuncil candidate, Mary Mulhern. Granholm is Mulhern's sister-in-law. The event drew in some relatively big names in Democratic politics in Tampa Bay.

In attendance were: State Senator Arthenia Joyner; State Representative Betty Reed; Tampa City Council member Gwen Miller; former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman; former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky, former State Representative Helen Gordon Davis; State Senator Charlie Justice, State Representative Michael Scionti and former State Senator Les Miller.

Council member Shawn Harrison, Mulhern's opponent in the race for that at-large District 2 seat, has raised $157,000 to Mulhern's $23,000. No word yet on what the Granholm event pulled in for the campaign.

Click here to read an earlier take on this race, though the endorsement of the both the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Tribune gives her some much needed earned media and I might be changing my mind on this race.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Signs that Young Will Retire

This blogger has already particpated in the rumors about Congressman Bill Young's retirement, but the St. Pete Times continues to lead the way in throwing wood on the fire, noting that another senior aide for Young (see photo) is leaving to join the private sector.

Legislative assistant, legislative correspondents and field representatives come and go, but when multiple senior staffers start leaving, it usually means they know something that we don't.

In the comments left on the Buzz, someone threw in a new name (or at least new to me) - former St. Pete city councilman and current state representative, Richard Kriseman. Despite one poorly spelled commentator scoffing at the idea, Kriseman would be a very strong candidate for what would be a swing district - and I think we would all enjoy watching Kriseman and Mayor Rick Baker go at it.

McAuliffe Brings His Roadshow to Tampa

Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe will be promoting his political memoir, What a Party! on Friday, February 16th at the Tampa Tribune auditorium at 202 S. Parker St. in Tampa.

McAuliffe was not my favorite person in the world - far from it - but he is a canny political operative well worth listening to. He has also been stumping for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Election 2008 - The Florida Connection: St. Pete Mayor Signs on with Romney

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has thrown his support behind former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential sweepstakes game. Baker is popular moderate Republican and is considered one of the frontrunners to replace Congressman Bill Young when he leaves office.

In that vein, the rumors swirling around Young's successor are only getting stronger now that he has been relegated to the minority. Historically, many older legislators retire when a chamber flips and they become part of a new minority in the legislative body. As mentioned above, Rick Baker is a common name. Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel has never hidden her ambition to run for the seat, but the rumor that Young will stay on until 2010 and then step aside to let his son run (who will turn 25 that year and therefore be eligible to serve in Congress) has never died.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Martinez Parses His Words When Talking About Bush's Budget

When President Bush submitted a budget that included significant increases in military spending, offset by significant decreases in healthcare spending, Congressional Democrats were predictably cold to the idea - but so were many Republicans.

Even Bush's handpicked chairman of the RNC, Sen. Mel Martinez, did not sound supportive of the plan. When his office sent out a press release addressing the President's budget, it was not headlined "Martinez Applauds President's Budget" or "Martinez Praises President's Plan." No, it was headlined "SENATOR MARTINEZ COMMENTS ON PRESIDENT’S BUDGET REQUEST."

Martinez comments...

Further down, the Senator was even more effusive. "This is just the beginning of the budget process," he said, "and I look forward to refining the president’s proposal..."

Now, if even the chairman of the Republican National Committee cannot be counted on to support Bush's budget, I think we can safely it's dead in the water.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tampa Candidate Forums Set in Forest Hills, Tampa Palms

The Forest Hills Neighborhood Association is hosting a forum for candidates on February 13th at 7 p.m. at the Forest Hills Recreation Center, 924 W 109th Ave. Politically, Forest Hills is the biggest plum in the 7th Council District because of its above average turnout (37% in the last city election - good numbers for an spring election in an odd numbered year). The candidates for mayor, district 7 and the two contested at-large council races have been invited and ABC affiliate reporter Don Germaise will moderate.

The New Tampa Community Council (also in CD 7) is hosting its own forum on February 15th at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in the Highwoods Preserve, 8310 Galbraith. New Tampa does not have the turnout seen in Forest Hills, but still expect a good turnout from the candidates themselves at the forum. No word yet on who will be moderating.

As far the election itself goes, expect Iorio to more or less cruise to re-election. The real excitement is around the District 1 at-large seat held by City Council Chairwoman Gwen Miller (wife of former state senator and 2006 congressional candidate, Les Miller).

Miller has raised only $33,505 and had only $25,000 cash on hand as of the January 31st filing. Six candidates are running for the seat, including perennial candidate and strip club mogul Joe Redner.

Granted, Miller has still raised almost twice that of her nearest competitor in the money race (Julie Jenkins has raised $17,059), but it's still a weak showing for an incumbent. She's still on track to win based on name recognition, but she's showing herself to be vulnerable to a well funded opponent (Redner has loaned his campaign $5,000, but it's anybody's guess how much it would cost to overcome his reputation as Tampa's liberal enfant terrible - though it should be noted that Redner won the Tampa precincts in his run for the County Commission last year).

In Council District 2, also at large, Mary Mulhern is running for the seat vacated by Rose Ferlita - who defeated Mulhern in a race for Hillsborough County Supervisor last year. While she might have hoped that name recognition from her race would help her, it doesn't look good. Mulhern has raised less than $10,000 (most of which was raised at a single event), while her opponent, Councilman Shawn Harrison (term limits have forced him to run for the at-large seat, rather than his current District 7 seat) has raised almost $150,000 and currently represents the aforementioned plum of Forest Hills.

Mulhern will be getting some high profile help in the form of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. It is not clear what kind of event will be held with Granholm. For Mulhern's sake, one hopes it is a fundraiser.

Creative Loafing's Blurbex thinks Mulhern has a shot. This blogger is not so sure.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Florida Voters Finally to Get a Paper Trail?

After years of being the butt of election jokes - from the 2000 general election, to the 2002 gubernatorial primary, to Sarasota's problems in the last election, (combined, prompting Ann Louise Bardach to ask in the online journal Slate, "Why Is Florida's Voting System So Corrupt?") - is Tallahassee finally going to take action to raise our process above the level of occassional banana republic?

So it appears.

On Thursday, February 1st, Gov. Crist announced a plan to shift all of Florida's counties away from touch screens to paper ballots read by optical scanners by 2008.

The move by Crist (which the legislature is expected to approve), along with new legislation expected to be passed this year by the new, Democratic Congresss and Senate, could signal "the death knell for the paperless electronic touch-screen machines," according to the New York Times.

Note: While Tallahassee is only now taking action, in the sense of state government taking this issue seriously, the city of Tallahassee and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho has been taking the issue very seriously and conducted tests that found Diebold's touch screen technology to be highly flawed. Sancho praised Crist's move, saying, "We dumbed down the process to accommodate technology that has limited capacity to be audited. That was simply the wrong way to go."