Friday, May 30, 2008

Obama Campaign Registering Voters in Tampa on Saturday

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has been focused on ground up, grassroots organizing from the beginning (no doubt due to his roots as a community organizer).

As part of that focus, the campaign will be registering voters in all 50 states, regardless of their likelihood to vote Democratic in November.

Time: Saturday, May 31 at 11:00 AM
Duration: 4 hours
Host: Johnny Dobbins
Location: Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park (Tampa, FL)
1001 North Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602

Saturday, May 10, 2008

10th District Update

In some ways, the situation in the 10th CD hasn't changed much in the last two years. The seat is still vulnerable, Rep. Bill Young still isn't acting like he wants it that much, and Democrats don't seem like they are going to put up much of a challenge this year.

It's also curious that each of the Democrats has had a tenuous relationship with the Democratic Party. Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth only recently changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat, Samm Simpson threatened to change her registration to vote for Republican Ron Paul, and Max Linn ran for Governor as a Reform Party candidate two years and has also expressed his great affection for the ideas of Republican Ron Paul.

First, let's look at the money.

Bill Young:

Young raised $127,701 in the last quarter (January-March) and just under $375,000 for the cycle to date. He spent as much as he raised, but still has over half a million dollars on hand - mostly because the 2006 Democratic nominee, Samm Simpson, failed to provide much of a challenge, allowing him to stockpile money. $127k is not an impressive total.

One interesting note is that his FEC report says that contribution limits have been increased due to opponent's spending. Under normal circumstances, $2300 would be the limit. That is tripled if the so-called "millionaire's amendment" under McCain-Feingold is triggered. The "millionaire's amemdment" allows for increases in allowable receipts if an opponent spends $350,000 of personal money. I am not convinced that this threshold has been triggered and hope someone looks into the matter.

His biggest expenses were $65,000 for direct mail (probably for a combination of prepaying for persuasion mail and fundraising solicitations) and almost $20,000 spent at the Sheraton Sand Key Hotel. Whatever else you may say, the man likes to relax in style. He also has a ton of disbursements to Bank of America for credit card purchases, though it doesn't say what that was spent on. I suspect that he is paying for a lot basic operating expenses, including salaries and maybe even polling and other consultants with his campaign credit card to avoid having to put the actual expenditures on his report.

Max Linn:

The only way Linn was going to win was by using some of his own money, which he has started to do. He loaned his campaign $110,000 and contributed another $58,000 of his own money (not enough, unless I'm misreading this, to trigger the "millionaire's amednment), but raised only a little more than $10,000 from other sources. He also spent close to $100,000. Part of that, no doubt went to his consultants, including Miami's Derek Newton and our own Liz McCallum.

There is no nice to say this, so let's just say it: these numbers suck.

Samm Simpson:

She raised $3854 and has $2020 cash on hand. This anemic total makes Max Linn like Chuck Schumer. You can talk all you want about Simpson's suppposed grassroots support, but if you can't turn that support into $100 and $200 checks, then you've confused grassroots support with your "friends" list on Facebook.

She can't win with these numbers. 'Nuff said.

Bob Hackworth:

He hasn't had to file yet, having only recently joined the race. I will be very curious to see what the Dunedin mayor can do in the money race.

What it all means:

It means that we are still waiting for a real contest. Hackworth might be able to make this race interesting, but he got in awfully late and Dunedin is not very close to the district's population center in the southern part of Pinellas County. Linn's got the ability to self-finance, but that appears to be his only advantage. Simpson, to be frank, is no longer a factor.

Unless Hackworth turns out to be an impressive fundraiser (raising at least $200k by the next filing) or Linn shows unexpected reserves of political talent, we are still waiting for the expect race that political watchers have been hoping for here.

In effect, we are waiting until a Rick Kriseman, Charlie Justice, or Karl Nurse jumps runs for this seat in 2010 or beyond - someone with a combination of local, political star power, fundraising prowess, and strong skills on the trail.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sink Campaigning for Redistricting Reform

No reasonable person doesn't acknowledge that Florida's redistricting system is in desperate need for reform. Legislators write their own districts, which results in a paucity of truly competitive races. The only reason seats ever change hands is term limits.

Seriously. Can you even remember the last time a Florida legislator lost a re-election campaign? I can't.

Under normal circumstance, as the highest ranking Democratic elected, Sen. Bill Nelson would the be effective head of the Florida Democratic Party. A few years back, he did exercise that perogative to place Luis Navarro as the executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, but lately, his inaction on behalf on Democrats has ceded that position to Tampa's own Alex Sink - the Florida Chief Financial Officer.

In that capacity, she most recently began pushing for folks to sign the Fair Districts Florida petition.

This is a ballot initiative effort, not a partisan election, fixing Florida's broken electoral system has been a priority for the Florida Democratic Party - and not fixing it a priority for the Republican Party of Florida.