Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nearly Final Thoughts on the Election

Sorry I've been gone so long, but it's been busy for a political operative lately. I've been up to my eyeballs in voter file lists, press releases, campaign finance filings, phone banks, canvass teams, fundraising appeals, and cup after cup of strong, faintly gritty coffee.

So, what do I think is going to happen?

I think that Carl Zimmerman wins in State House District 48 rematch against Peter Nehr.

I think that Phyllis Busansky is a strong candidate for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, but that a carton of expired milk could beat someone as publicly incompetent as Buddy Johnson has been.

I think that both the Diaz-Balart brothers lose over in South Florida.

Obama wins Florida, partly because he gets 55%+ in Pinellas County.

And the Rays will win the World Series... oh wait... darn. Never mind. Well, I stand by the rest.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

But What About Agriculture?

In a little noticed race, Miami attorney Eric Copeland took on Charles Bronson, the incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture.

Yes, Copeland lost. Badly, actually – 57% to 43%.

But incumbent Charles Bronson raised 2,190,032.49 and Copeland raised only $265,901.99 – an 8 to 1 advantage for Bronson who will be term limited out in 2010. In light of that fact, Copeland's showing looks pretty good.

Will Copeland run for Commissioner of Agriculture again? I’m not so sure, but we definitely saw a rising star. $265,901.99 may not be enough to run statewide, but it is a respectable sum for a more local race – particularly one where he is not seen as a sort of sacrificial lamb, as he was in 2006 running against Bronson.

Bronson cannot run for re-election and will probably not go much of anywhere, unless he moves to a safe Republican congressional seat and waits for someone to retire. So his story probably ends here.

Former state senator and former gubernatorial nominee Rod Smith drew a lot of contributions from agricultural interests and though Attorney General might be a sexier position to run for, Ag Commissioner will be open.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Future of Tampa Bay Politics...

Well, it’s time to look ahead.

Not to November 4, 2008, but to November 3, 2010.

Florida is looking pretty exciting this year – Obama is pulling ahead, but whatever juice McCain has left will keep this race close in the Sunshine State and right here in the Tampa Bay area.

2006 was an exciting year, politically. For Democrats, it was exhilarating, and for Republicans it was disenheartening.

Nationally, we didn’t see much of interest happen in Florida. Yes there was that little incident with Mark Foley and Tim Mahoney narrowly winning that seat and yes the whole missing votes debacle in the Buchanan-Jennings race in the 13th Congressional District. But what I mean is that we didn’t see the kind of tidal wave that occurred in the rest of the country.

But some interesting things did happen – each of which will have a major impact on the 2010 elections.

In the state senate, Democrats picked up one seat, but also lost one seat. The seat they lost belonged to gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith of Gainesville. The seat they won was right here in Pinellas County and was won by St. Pete’s own Charlie Justice.

In an expensive race that saw Republican Kim Berfield’s campaign turn more than a little nasty, the likeable and hard working Justice won the open state senate seat.

Immediately after winning, he became a topic of interest for folks making their fantasy political team picks as a possible Democratic challenger to Congressman Bill Young.

Assuming Young survives this year’s challenge from Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth, Justice will be talked about again. But whether or not he runs, his state senate seat is likely to be targeted by the GOP and St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker will be looking for his next job. If Young retires, Baker immediately becomes the favorite to be the GOP nominee for the seat. If Young does not retire… well, Baker may choose to go for Justice’s state senate seat – whether or not Justice runs for Congress.

Later this week, we will take at look at... the Secretary of Agriculture?