Sunday, February 28, 2010

Aronberg v Gelber Redux

I recently noted the relative fundraising of Aronberg and Gelber - well, they apparently got into it at the Pinellas DEC's Kennedy-King Dinner.

Aronberg (in the barnburning speech of the evening) said that he had $100,000 more cash on hand than any other candidate for Attorney General and had likewise raised more money than any other candidate.

Gelber took a little umbrage at that and said that he was the best fundraiser.

As I mentioned last week, they are both right - Aronberg does have more cash on hand and did outraise Gelber in the last quarter, but Gelber has raised more overall.

Why does this matter? Because this is the marquee match up on the Democratic side of the aisle come August 24th. It doesn't have the vitriol or faint oedipal tinge of Crist v Rubio, but it is still a critical decision by the electorate.

Especially because the GOP side of the aisle is seen to be relatively weak. Pam Bondi could become a strong candidate, but she is late to the game and behind the eight ball in the money race. Jeff Kottkamp is generally considered to be a weak candidate and damaged goods for spending significant sums of taxpayer money to travel around the state (as Lieutenant Governor, he has zero responsibilities and authority, so excessive travel looks like politicking on the public dime - and it didn't even help him much - most Floridians still don't realize that Toni Jennings isn't still the Lieutenant Governor).

What I'm saying is, the winner of Aronberg v Gelber will be a strong favorite in November.

Friday, February 26, 2010

He Loves the GOP... He Loves the GOP Not... He Love the GOP... He loves the GOP Not...

Will he or won't he?

The DailyKos has been blogging about this for some time.

For myself... I just don't know. It's clear to me that Crist cannot win the Republican primary, but who knows what Crist and his team are seeing when they look at things.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lawyer to Lawyer Letter from Sandy D'Alemberte

Sandy D'Alemberte, a former president of the American Bar Association, is supporting Senator Dan Gelber in the Democratic primary for Attorney General (full disclosure - I am personally friendly with Senator Dave Aronberg, Gelber's opponent in the primary). She sent out an email to Florida lawyers, asking them to support Gelber. The letter touts (among other things) that "though I"m not a big believer in polls and fundraising, Dan has raised more than other candidate in the race, and has been ahead in each poll reported."

I suspect that those polls actually have "undecided" winning and both Aronberg and Gelber running fairly close. I know that Gelber was only marginally ahead in the money race in the last filing - $669,906.50 to $655,750.10 - and that Aronberg actually outraised by my $50k in the last quarter and has a $100,000 cash on hand advantage over Gelber.

But, lest I come across as a shill for Aronberg, let me say that having D'Alemberte actively fundraise for him is a good get by Gelber. I'm not sure what the email universe looked like (I got it from a Republican attorney who has been a family friend for almost 25 years), but this could go a long way towards to giving Gelber a real advantage.

P.S. - Check the new website of the Hillsborough County Budget to follow the budget process.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Voters Are Just Not That Into You Anymore

It appears that Crist is taking my advice and will be dropping a chunk of change on some comparison ads against Rubio. I'm sure we've all seen the latest Rasmussen poll that has Crist down 18 points to Rubio and sitting at under 36%, so I don't need to tell you about it.

Well, I kind of think this means game over in the Republican primary for Crist.

That's right - I don't see a way back for Crist. Rubio will continue to see his fundraising improve and the best Crist can hope for is a slow stagnation in his finances (we already saw signs of this in their last FEC reports), so Crist will have no chance to overwhelm Rubio with paid media in the summer. Yes, I think Crist is back on his game, but it's too late.

The comparison I would make is to Jon Corzine in New Jersey. Corzine lost not because voters didn't like him or objected to his position or action on a particular issue. No - voters had just reached a point in their lives where they were "over" that particular politician. There was really nothing Corzine could do to make them want to vote for him. It's the same with Crist in the GOP primary. If you look at the numbers, no one dislikes Crist. No one thinks he will do a bad job. They are just "over" him. And I don't think there is anything left he can do to make them fall in love with him again.

P.S. - The RGA is so worried about McCollum's lackluster campaign skills that they are dropping a six figure, broadcast in Florida now. This speaks volumes about their lack of confidence in him.

Monday, February 22, 2010

53 Fixes for House District 53

Got an idea for fixing Florida? Send it to Rep. Rick Kriseman here!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Love Wonkette

Have I recommended Wonkette lately? If you follow politics, this blog is the equivalent to Perez Hilton or Gawker (it is actually in the Gawker family of websites).

Anyway, they provided what is probably the most trenchant remarks about the straw poll at CPAC (and if you don't know what CPAC is or its importance in the political universe and if you have any pretensions to being a political junkie you need to leave my blog and educate yourself, because it is a major event).

Romney finished with 22%, proving once again that he can’t even get a fourth of the room to like him, even when that room is exclusively filled with Republicans.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Steve Schale on Redistricting

Steve Schale is definitely my new favorite Florida political blogger/analyst and he's talking about one of my favorite topics - the coming redistricting and the host of factors that will play into it - demographic changes, the possible end of blatantly partisan redistricting if Fair Districts passes, a possible change in partisan control of the governor's mansion, and rising voter unrest that could see a surprising number of seats change parties.

Anyway - check out his latest blog posting on the subject.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Young Definitely Running

I know that I said I was done with prognosticating on whether or not Congressman Bill Young will retire, but...

This time is different - because I'm saying Young will definitely run for re-election.

Not really news, I know.

But, just to explain my reasoning - PREC is holding their Lincoln Day Dinner (usually, the biggest fundraising event of the year for local Republican party organizations) on February 20th and Young is expected to announce his re-election plans on that occasion.

I just don't think he's going to use this event as a forum to say "I'm retiring." Retirements are usually done more discreetly.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What I Think Happens Next

It's been fun, commenting on the collapse of the once unstoppable juggernaut that was Crist for Senate, but now it's time to put my prognostication abilities on the line.

In other words, what would I do, if I were on Crist's team?

First, I would drop a poll in the field to see where, exactly, we are and where Republican primary voters see Crist as stronger than Rubio.

Once that's in, I would drop $1 million on statewide television, plus a heavy campaign schedule to complement the advertising.

After things have been allowed to percolate, it's time for a tracking poll. Not just who will you vote for, but who do you trust most on this hypothetical issue that might be Crist's best wedge? If the dial hasn't moved, then maybe Crist needs to ask himself what his options are.

I'm not saying that this tracking poll needs to show him winning, but it needs to start showing some positive movement.

And what are Crist's options?

Run as an independent - giving up whatever field infrastructure he might have had and count on his cash on hand (because he will find it much harder to raise money as an independent).

Test the waters for a switch the Democratic party and see if Meek can be beaten in the primary.

Prepare for a race against Bill Nelson in 2012.

Run for re-election as governor and tell McCollum "My bad, but go s---w yourself, you'll never be governor and you'll always be second best." (Note: while that might sound fun on paper, keep in mind that Crist could not transfer any of his Senate monies to a state race and would be starting from near zero in the money race).

Call it a day and take Carol to the Green Iguana and regale us with stories of how he was almost picked to be McCain's running mate.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Florida House

I made my first stop at the Florida House, the Sunshine State's non-partisan embassy in Washington, DC, the other day. I'm up scoping for some work from one of the national committees (and am getting no love - the campaign manager will be on half rations until he can put something together) and stopped by this beautiful property just behind the Supreme Court.

Part of my reason for stopping by was to score some free orange juice, but mostly I wanted to see their collection of paintings by the Florida Highwaymen.

I was told that a Canadian art collector loaned the paintings to the Florida House after learning how much the tariffs would be to bring them with him back to Canada.

Anyway - check out the Florida Highwaymen and the Florida House the next time any of y'all find yourself in our capitol.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Can Justice Still Beat Young?

The recently posted FEC filings by Congressman Bill Young and Senator Charlie Justice don't paint a clear picture.

Neither candidate is doing proper fundraising.

Young "raised" only $750 - $250 from an electrical utility in Tallahassee and $500 from UPS (headquartered in Atlanta). He also got another $223.31 in interest from money in accounts in six different banks.

So why the air quotes around "raised?" Because Young clearly isn't raising money - that $750 just represents a couple of PACs on autopilot more or less randomly sending checks ("Hey - who was the Congressman in Florida who carried water for us that time? Let's send him a courtesy check.").

If Young were actually raising money, he would have just held a couple of cocktail parties at a lobbyist's house on Capitol Hill for 100 defense contractors and insurance lobbyists at $1000 a head and called it a quarter.

He's still dropping little hints that he will retire, but I've learned my lesson and will cease speculation.

He does have almost $400,000 cash on hand (COH) and could get someone to put those cocktail parties together in about a week, so if he decides to campaign.

Justice raised a viciously disappointing $48895.37 with less than a quarter million raised for the campaign and less than $100,000 COH.

Once again (he had the same problem last quarter), Justice's burn rate is inexcusable - this time he spent $10,000 more than he pulled in, eating into his reserves.

At this stage of the game, it is all about stockpiling the money for television down the road.

Justice has done a good job of raising smaller donations from the Tampa Bay area, an important way to build the grassroots and show strong, local support - but at some point (and that point was three months ago), his campaign needs to buckle and start raising serious cash. He only received donations from eight different unions and only a handful of other PACs - the institutional donors, in other words.

There probably needs to be some kind of shakeup.

Stopping paying $3500 a month for FEC compliance assistance - he's not raising enough money to need compliance help, besides which, he has NGP software, which should enable his finance director and treasurer to handle the compliance. If at any time, he starts raising $250,000+ a month, he can consider paying for help.

Any staff not directly raising needs to start making that his or her full time job. Maybe someone new needs to come on to get the finance operation in order and probably some kind of finance consultant.

Both candidates are well liked. The district favors Justice, but incumbentcy favors Young. Right now, neither candidate is approaching the fundraising with the seriousness. Young is the incumbent and can afford not to. He can drop $350,000 on cable in the district and another $50,000 to hit 25,000 households with twice with full color, glossy mail.