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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gibbons: Florida Republicans are a "bunch of clowns"



Former Congressman Sam Gibbons, who just turned 90, delivered the biggest zinger of the night at the Hillsborough County Democratic Party's Kennedy Graham Dinner on Saturday. He called Florida's Republicans a "bunch of clowns," which should guarantee Democratic wins in 2010. "I don't see how we can not possibly win," he said. He urged the room of more than 300 to make the GOP's credit card controvery an issue during election season, saying it illustrates the "carelessness and greed" that has marked Republican rule.

State Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman carried on that line of thought, noting that Florida Senators Dan Gelber and David Aronberg, two Democrats running for state attorney general,  want an investigation of the GOP's spending, but the current AG and candidate for governor, Bill McCollum, refuses. And Republicans don't just misspend campaign money, Thurman said, they misspend tax money. Her case in point: Ray Sansom's also controversial airplane hangar earmark. 

Alex Sink was the night's keynote speaker, introduced by Florida Sen. Arthenia Joyner who said: "If she doesn't win I'm leaving the state and I'm inviting you to go with me." Sink told the group that even though Republicans typically raise more money than Democrats, the state GOP has only $250,000 in the bank and the Democrats have $2 million. Her two campaign pledges during the speech: She'll wake up every morning trying to think of ways to bring jobs to Florida and she'll reinvent the economy by turning  the Sunshine State into a leader in solar and other renewable energy.

Other notes from the evening: Aronberg ended his remarks by saying he clearly should be attorney general because his last name starts with an A and ends with G. Get it?? Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and commission candidate John Dingfelder chatted about the possibility of working together to make the commission more progressive. Longtime Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena said that now that she's running for county commission, she's been venturing out into the far corners of the county and is always happy to return to her home on Davis Islands. And state House District 58 candidate Janet Cruz told a reporter she's worried people won't remember there's a special election coming up. Cruz faces Republican Hunter Chamberlin on the ballot on Feb. 23.

Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:25pm]


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