Thursday, January 29, 2009

Boyd, McCollum Out? Klein, Iorio In? Me With Egg On His Face?

Rep. Allen Boyd will not be running for the U.S. Senate. Nor will Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Boy, was I wrong. The only thing I was more sure about than Boyd running was that Bill McCollum was desperate to be a U.S. Senator.

I don’t know why Boyd is passing, but it is pretty clear now why he was so noncommittal when I accosted him at Florida’s inaugural ball.

I will attempt to cling to some of my shredded pride and say that McCollum may be looking ahead to 2012 when Sen. Bill Nelson will be 72 and possibly thinking about retirement (though if he decided to run for re-election, sorry McCollum, but Nelson’s got your number and you’re not taking him down).

On the Democratic side, this leaves a lot more room for possible candidates Ron Klein and Pam Iorio.

Klein is a monster fundraiser and will be able to tap into South Florida donors better than either Meeks or Gelber (or at least that’s my suspicion – Meeks has never been a particularly strong fundraiser and Gelber hasn’t been tested at this level). He is still competing with two other South Florida for the same rich lodes of voters – which is why I thought that Boyd’s roots outside of South Florida might give him a leg up, which brings me to Iorio…

Our own Mayor Iorio represents the largest single media market in the state (South Florida is actually two media markets) and sits smack dab on that all important I-4 corridor. She would be the only woman in the race and the only major Democrat with a base outside of South Florida (ask Alex Sink how that profile worked out for her). Her ability to raise money is still untested, but Mayor of Tampa is not a bad perch to start out from – especially if she can enlist Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor and her mother’s rolodex in the effort.

St. Pete Times To Sell Off Assets?

The Poynter Institute, owner of the Times Publishing Company, publisher of the St. Petersburg Times is looking to sell what has become a Washington, DC institution – CQ or Congressional Quarterly.

CQ is a inside the beltway publication that is heavily relied upon by Congressional offices, lobbyists and trade associations for update information on what is happening on the floor. As a boutique publication (actually, it is an umbrella for a number of subscription websites and publications) whose clientele are not likely to see their need for its services decrease, CQ should be relatively immune to the media downturn that is killing the newspapers and magazines.

But, in the words of one CQ staffer, “there’s a realization that St. Pete is willing to cannibalize CQ to save [the St. Petersburg Times].

This a prestigious publication and it is obvious that the St. Petersburg Times is in more trouble than any of us thought.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Florida Goes to Washington

After braving the cold and record crowds, let me just say that this Floridian was thrilled by the experience of attending the inauguration of our 44th President. It is hard to express what is like to be amongst 2 million of your fellow Americans, packed as tight as any cargo brought into the port and as excited, hopeful and expectant as college grads waiting to receive the diploma that would mark them as the first in their family to earn a degree.

That said, the absolute highlight of the last several days was attending Florida’s Sunshine and Star Inaugural Ball and having Bob Graham ask my girlfriend and I when we were getting married.

This summer, I said.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sink Is Out – What Does That Mean?

It means that there is no one on the Democratic side capable of clearing the field. Congressman Kendrick Meeks is already in, Congressman Allen Boyd’s rumblings will get louder and Dan Gelber seems near certain to get in, as well.

Who does this most benefit? Boyd, in my opinion.

The DCCC will be begging Boyd not to run, because his Congressional seat may be difficult for Democrats to hold without him, but his ability to win moderate and conservative independents in a Republican leaning district will have the DSCC excited.

Gelber and Meeks risk splitting the Democrat-rich precincts in South Florida, leaving an opening for Boyd to win the primary.

Of course, we all risk overthinking this. It is only January and the primary is more than a year and a half away.

Another issue is that there won’t be a scramble for CFO. The GOP will put up a sacrificial lamb – probably a termed out state senator – but s/he will get thoroughly spanked by Sink.

As it stands, we are likely to have three open, statewide seats – U.S. Senate, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Bronson is termed out), and Attorney General (I can’t see McCollum passing this up).

Rod Smith and Dave Aronberg are possible Democratic contenders for Attorney General (Smith might also look at Agriculture) and our own Rick Baker has to be thinking that Attorney General would be a great next step.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What About That Open U.S. Senate Seat?

So, let’s recap…

Senator Mel “Somewhat Unpopular and Not Really Respected By His Constituents” Martinez has decided not to stand to for re-election and get beaten by a termed Florida state senator with a “D” after their name on the ballot and pulse (take your pick – the list of people who had at least a 50% chance of beating Martinez and who were thinking about running includes your next door neighbor; your grandmother; members of Mel’s immediate family).

Jeb Bush decided not to run for the U.S. Senate. This is more interesting. There are two sides to this issue. The first is the well publicized notion that Jeb is not really suited for legislative work. He is an impatient man and famous for holding grudges and generally, none of his virtues or vices would play well in Senate. No one doubts that he wants to be President and that he needs a way to stay in the political limelight, but perhaps the Senate would not have been the right place to do that.

The other side of the issue is this – he could lose. Yes, I would not have bet on it. Despite his brother’s Marianas Trench level numbers, Jeb is still reasonably popular in Florida and has a brand separate from his father and brother. And yet… if there was ever a time when Jeb could lose a statewide race in Florida, with the Bush name near its lowest ebb, this was that time.

Unlikely? Of course. But so unlikely that he would risk his entire future political career on it? Because losing this race would have permanently put a stake through the heart of his presidential ambitions – he would be both a “Bush” and a loser.

What’s next?

CFO and Democrat Alex Sink is seriously considering the race and, in the absence of Jeb, would be considered a prohibitive favorite and would probably see the field cleared for her (no disrespect to Congressman Kendrick Meeks). But we haven’t heard much recently and, as noted, Rep. Meeks is already gearing up.

On the Republican side, Jeb appears to have given his blessing to former state house Speaker Marco Rubio to run, but he’ll have to prove himself. He would be an exciting candidate – a young Latino with a long future ahead of him, but…

Attorney General Bill McCollum wants it. He wants it so bad he can taste it with every breath of Florida air he takes. And, he has won two statewide Republican primaries and one statewide general election. Rubio has won… a state house seat. Yes, he was Speaker, but let’s face it – if our current Speaker, Mr. Sansom, hadn’t been spending the last months a hair’s breadth away from being indicted by a grand jury, would you be able to name him?

Finally, NRSC Chairman, Texas Senator John Cornyn, is desperately trying to recruit Charlie Crist. In addition to being horribly insulting to Rubio and McCollum, Cornyn is probably kidding himself.

Crist – despite the fact that he is very close to presiding over the complete collapse of budget and who will, in all likelihood, face such a massive deficit in 2009-2010 that he will be forces to sell all of our kindergarten-age children to a shady multinational conglomerate who will put them to work sewing socks next to illegal immigrants – is a pretty safe bet for re-election and might look at life in the Senate minority and decided to bet on Bill Nelson retiring an opening that seat up in 2012 when things don’t look quite so bleak.