JaxPoliticsOnline.com

Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Kendrick Meek Top Recipient of Tobacco Dollars

Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek has been raking in the tobacco dollars, according to The Center for Responsive Politics.  Meek, the presumed Democratic frontrunner in the race to fill the seat of retiring US Senator Mel Martinez, has raised over $30,000 from tobacco interests.  Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader hailing from Kentucky, is the second highest recipient.  No other Floridians make the top 15.

It should come as no surprise that Meek has long had a reputation as a man who enjoys a good cigar.  He is, in fact, featured in this month’s Cigar Aficionado.

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Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , ,

Carrie Meek “heartbroken” over Corrine Brown

Former US Rep. Carrie Meek is said to be “heartbroken” over the decision by Rep. Corrine Brown to challenge Meek’s son, Kendrick, for the Democratic nomination to the US Senate. Former Representative Meek and Congresswoman Brown were among the three African-Americans elected to the US House in 1992 following redistricting. According to a prominent Democratic fundraiser, the two women were as close as “sisters.”

The Miami Herald has more here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , ,

Corrine Brown Body Slams Charlie Crist

Admit it.  A Corrine Brown v. Charlie Crist race would be one for the ages.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, confirms that she is launching an exploratory campaign for U.S. Senate, and said an internal statewide poll shows her comfortably ahead of any Democratic contender including Kendrick Meek.

“Experience,” she said, when asked why the 17-year U.S. House member would be a stronger candidate than Meek. “I like Kendrick and I love his mother but this is about making sure we have someone at the table when we’re talking about energy, we’re talking about education, we’re talking about jobs, we’re talking about health care.”

And likely Republican nominee Charlie Crist? “I just think the state needs more than someone who’s there to talk a great game, smile and take pictures. The key is to deliver for the people of Florida.”

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , ,

Politicians on Twitter = B-O-R-I-N-G

Great column by Beth Reinhard in the Miami Herald – sharing how politicians on Twitter spell “booooring” in 140 letters.  For example, I’m sure we all wanted to know such facts like it takes Marco Rubio’s wife forever to blowdry her hair.

I joined Twitter this week. Does that make me a twit? (Please don’t answer that.)

This is not why I got into journalism. Spewing online quips limited to 140 letters isn’t the crusade for truth and justice I once envisioned.

But as a lucky survivor in the struggling media biz, I wanted to see what the cool kids were doing. Surprisingly, I learned a lot about Florida’s political twittering class.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , , , , ,

The Coming Battle for the soul of the Florida GOP

The race to succeed retiring Senator Mel Martinez just got very interesting, not only for Florida, but really for the entire nation. 

The “contraction” of the Republican party has received a lot of media attention of late, particularly in light of Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic party.  The reasons for Specter’s switch were fairly obvious—he was a moderate Republican incumbent facing a primary challenge from a conservative and all signs were pointing to a primary loss.  Specter’s move was the latest in a series of defeats for the Republican party, particularly the moderate wing within the party.  

In 2006, Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chaffee lost his re-election bid after a tough primary challenge from a conservative Republican left him weakened in a general election.  In fact, more than one of the seats lost in the House during the 2006 and 2008 elections could be directly attributed to the defeat of moderate Republicans in a primary—or the retirement of a moderate.  So, how does this translate to Florida?

Charlie Crist is seen as a moderate, due in part to his support of Barack Obama’s stimulus package.  But, even before the Obama position—for which he was roundly attacked on talk radio—Crist had staked out more moderate positions on many of the hot-button issues. He’s anti-abortion, but don’t try to engage him in a long conversation on the matter.  He’s anti-gay marriage, but says it in a way that leaves no one completely offended.  He won a GOP primary in 2006 against an opponent who had tried to define himself as the only “true conservative” in the race.  In didn’t work in 2006, but could 2010 be a different story?  

Marco Rubio, after all, is no Tom Gallagher.  Sure, he never had a cameo appearance on “The Golden Girls”, but Rubio is young, telegenic and has always been a passionate “conservative”-something that Gallagher could only claim a late-in-life conversion to.  And, Rubio has come out swinging.  In his announcement, he took a step that many saw as unprecedented—attacking sitting Senators of his own party with whom he would have to caucus, assuming he won the primary and general election.  Lashing out at Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Rubio said that adding to their ranks was essentially the same as electing a Democrat.

While Crist’s popularity ratings have remained unusually high, his popularity among the rank-and-file Republican voters has suffered as of late, particularly after the onslaught he took from political
powerhouses like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity over his support of Obama’s stimulus package.  Their opposition [Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s], when combined with the support already being offered Rubio by the conservative Club for Growth, could signal trouble for Crist in a Republican primary likely to be dominated by conservatives.  While Crist’s political fortunes don’t necessarily concern many other than himself, Republicans do have to wonder how Rubio’s increasingly conservative message will sell in a state that voted for a Democratic President and a Democratic Senator in the most recent statewide elections.  

At this point, despite the potential of a bloodbath, the Republicans still have the strongest field in the race.  Both Democratic candidates currently in the race are facing their own hurdles.  Both candidates are from South Florida, something that could prove challenging as they move to win over more moderate and conservative voters from central and northern Florida. Likewise, neither are well known throughout the state, something that will necessitate significant fundraising success to change.  But, if bloody primaries offer a moderating state the choice between an outspoken conservative Republican and a more moderate Democrat, the Republican Party might have reason to worry.  

Could one have imagined Jeb Bush’s Florida with a Democratic Governor, Democratic Attorney General and two Democratic US Senators?  It may very well be possible…

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , ,

Sink turns down Senate race

The one person seen as the inevitable front-runner has decided to take her name out of the running for Mel Martinez’s Senate seat. Alex Sink, Florida’s CFO, said she will run for re-election to the CFO position. The full story is here. Democratic speculation now turns to the already-declared US Rep. Kendrick Meek, State Rep. Dan Gelber, US Rep. Allen Boyd, US Rep Ron Klein and Rod Smith.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , , ,

Kendrick Meek (D-Miami) Jumps into Senate Race

The first “major” candidate has jumped into the race that will be left vacant by the retiring Mel Martinez in 2010. From the St. Pete Times:

The 42-year-old former legislator and son of former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, should be a significant force in the campaign. He has a national and statewide profile and network, built leading the class size amendment, the sit-in at Jeb Bush’s office, and leading John Kerry’s Florida campaign in 2004.

And it’s a sign of Meek’s confidence and scrappiness that he’s jumping in the race – essentially giving up a lifetime Congressional seat if he stays in – while other candidates wait to see what heavy favorite Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink decides. Other prospective Democratic candidates include Sink, state Sen. Dan Gelber, and U.S. Reps. Allen Boyd and Ron Klein.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , , , ,

Jeb Bush vs. Alex Sink

Is it a race to replace Mel Martinez?  

Jeb Bush:

A July 2008 St. Pete Times article wondered if Jeb would seek political office again.    Looks like the St. Pete Times was right on the money as Jeb has now announced he’s seriously considering a run for Martinez’ US Senate seat.  With all the talks he had been giving about the education system, the numerous non-profits he started that many felt were to keep his political base and staffers in place, and the secrecy surrounding his low-profile but extremely public entrepreneurial makeover, rumors had flown that he could be in line to be in the Presidential circle as Education Secretary if John McCain won the Presidential race.  With McCain losing, Jeb has had to set his sights just a little lower.  Now Jeb has been named to sit on the Board of Jacksonville’s Rayonier Inc. for $40,000 a year.  Quite a plum, as Rayonier is a Republican-leaning international timber, real estate, and performance fiber company.  That will certainly re-establish his NE Florida connections (recall that his son went to Bolles while Jeb was Governor) and gain him the favor of Jacksonville’s Republicans.  Connections he’ll desperately need to run for the US Senate now that Florida went blue in the last Presidential election. 

Alex Sink:

Will she or won’t she?  Seems Alex has had mixed feelings about whether or not she wanted to give up her position as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.  Quite frankly, who wouldn’t want to give up that position right now with Florida staring down the sights of a $2+ billion deficit that’s projected to balloon to somewhere around $4 billion next year?  Democrats have been pushing her to run for Governor in 2010, but again who in their right mind would want to have to stare down that huge deficit facing Florida.  Now that Martinez has seen the writing on the wall and announced he doesn’t intend to seek the seat, Alex has again been publicly expressing her interest in running for his seat.  Alex is a wildly popular Democrat – even among Republicans.  Could Alex take a race with Jeb?  She’d certainly be the Democrat candidate that could give him a run for his money.

Other candidates who have expressed an interest:

Republicans:  Bill McCollum, Allen Bense, Marco Rubio, Vern Buchanan, Connie Mack IV, and Adam Putnam.

Democrats:  Allen Boyd, Kendrick Meek, Dan Gelber, and Ron Klein.

Not a NE Floridian among them. 

Stay tuned.

Filed under: Florida Politics, Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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