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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

30 minutes, four TV markets, one Fla gov race

It's no secret that Florida is essentially several different states in one. How one area of Florida views the world - and votes--  is often quite different than how another does. The Times/Herald tried a little experiment today, monitoring the political commercials that aired in three distinct TV markets/political territories during the 6 p.m. local news.

A few obvious conclusions:
***Competitive campaigns are a glorious gift to TV station owners. And even if your region is not so politically divided to be a top target from both Democrats and Republicans, a competitive congressional race -- like Steve Southerland vs Gwen Graham in the Tallahassee and Panama City markets -- can be gold for the bottom line.

***In Tampa Bay, the words "Duke Energy" are political poison (And, it seems, the Florida GOP has decided Republican State House candidate Bill Young may not be competitive enough to merit a big TV campaign). …

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Crist, Scott court female voters

From the sound of things, Florida's gubernatorial candidates consider female voters key to the Nov. 4 election.

Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist stressed his record on women's rights Thursday while campaigning in Broward County.

Sen. Anitere Flores issued the response from Republican Gov. Rick Scott's campaign.

"Charlie Crist is waging a serious and offensive war on women," said Flores, a Miami Republican. "First he takes $90,000 in campaign cash from strip club bosses who ran prostitution and drug rings, then he said 'it's worth it' to lose another 500,000 jobs. There's no telling how many of those jobs will belong to Florida women. Last time Charlie was governor, 244,000 women lost their jobs."

Both campaigns (as well as the Republican and Democratic parties and various third-party groups) are making a serious effort to engage women before Election Day. Earlier in the week, union leaders and pro-immigrant groups rallied female voters during a left-leaning telephone townhall meeting. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed Crist leading Scott among female voters, 45-39.

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Big Dog Clinton coming to campaign with Charlie Crist

Barack Obama won't make it to Sunshine State before the election, it appears, but former President Bill Clinton is expected to headline an early vote rally in Tampa on 5 pm Sunday. It will be at Cyrus Greene Park.

Clinton will be campaigning with Congressional candidate Gwen Graham earlier in the day in north Florida.

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Election supervisors are reminded to 'expect the unexpected'

Gov. Rick Scott's chief elections official gave a pep talk to county election supervisors Thursday in which he reminded them to "expect the unexpected" in the upcoming election. Secretary of State Ken Detzner and his staff even spoke the word no one wanted to hear, the dreaded R-word: Recount.

Recent polls show a dead even race between Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. Could it actually be that close? Yes.

On paper, the mathematical possibility of a recount seems extremely remote: The candidates would have to be separated by half of one percentage point or less. That's 27,500 votes, if 5.5 million votes are cast. Scott defeated Democrat Alex Sink in 2010 by 61,550 votes, but that margin was greater than 1 percent, and not nearly small enough to trigger a recount.

But in the state where control of the White House was decided by 537 votes in 2000, election supervisors know anything can happen. On a monthly conference call Thursday with dozens of election supervisors, Sarasota's Kathy Dent said: "The most important thing is to expect the unexpected. There's always something that pops up that none of us expected." …

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Latest GOP ad against Crist: He was helpless

Here's the latest TV spot from the Florida GOP


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Scott won't show for depo in lawsuit but is scheduled to show for Biltmore fundraiser

Gov. Rick Scott is planning to be a no-show Friday for a video-taped deposition in a lawsuit he filed in California to block the release of information about Google email accounts used by him and his executive staff. 

Attorney Steven R. Andrews was prepared to put the governor under oath in Tallahassee but Scott’s communications director, Frank Collins, said Thursday “there is not going to be a deposition tomorrow.” Scott's lawyers asked the judge to quash the deposition but, as of late Thursday, they hadn't received an answer. 

Scott is instead expected to attend a $250 per person fundraiser at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, featuring former Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera.  Rick Scott's Oct. 24 fundraiser

However, if the governor is a no-show for a deposition in a case he initiated, it may not be without consequences.

According to California's rules of civil procedure, the governor must submit to the deposition Friday unless he has received the court's permission to change the date, said Walter Clark, a trial lawyer who practices in Southern California.

If Scott fails to submit to the deposition, the judge could hold him in contempt and make him pay damages, according to California law. 

"You can’t just not show up at a deposition and say we’ll talk about it later,'' Clark said. "You have to ask a court for relief."

The governor filed the lawsuit in September in a Santa Clara County court in an attempt to prevent Google from releasing information on who and when the private G-mail accounts used by Scott and two staff aides were created. 

Andrews alleges that Scott set up the account to circumvent the state’s public records law. When the governor refused to turn over the information, Andrews got a Tallahassee court to approve a subpoena to seek the information from Google. Circuit Court Judge Charles A. Francis also ordered the governor to stop fighting the request.

Scott then hired private Tallahassee attorney Pete Dunbar and a California law firm to challenge the subpoena. Scott then hired private Tallahassee attorney Pete Dunbar and a California law firm to challenge the subpoena. After the state spent nearly $100,000 on a Jacksonville attorney to fight the release of records, Scott's staff said last week the governor will no longer use taxpayer funds as he pursues the California lawsuit.

The subpoena asks Google to turn over documents that show when the G-mail accounts were created, who created them, and which computers, such as state computers, were used. Andrews has also scheduled depositions for next week for two of Scott's former aides, Brad Peipenbink and Sarah Hansford, to counter the lawsuit against the subpoena. 

Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair said the deposition was never on the governor's calendar because "a deposition is not scheduled just because Steven Andrews taps his heels and tries to make it so. All sides have to agree to a date before saying it is 'scheduled.'"Full Story

Maybe that seemingly irrelevent Libertarian will swing Fla gov race after all

Given how little the vast majority of Florida voters think of Charlie Crist and Rick Scott after all their negative TV ads, it's pretty astounding that Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie failed generate sufficient support in credible polls to be included in any debates.

 This seems like an ideal climate for a none-of-the-above candidate even if, like Wyllie, that candidate raises little money and offers up pixie dust policy proposals too vague for even the most cynical and shameless major party establishment candidate (Wyllie intends to cut 30 percent out of the state budget by---you guessed it --- trimming unidentified waste and inefficiency).

But Republican consultant Adam Goodman points me to the David Jolly/Alex Sink special election earlier this year in a bellwether Pinellas County congressional district. Goodman, a Jolly adviser, said their internal polling consistently showed  Libertarian Lucas Overby winning 8 to 10 percent, though Overby ultimately won less than 5 percent. …

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Steve Schale: No, it only seems like Charlie Crist is losing

From Charlie Crist adviser Steve Schale, making the case, again, that everyone should ignore that more Republicans have voted so far than Democrats, and focus on how Democrats are doing better with their early and mail-in votes than they were in 2010 when Scott sqeaked to victory:

With three days in the early voting books, lets take a quick look at where we are today in the Florida Governor's race.

I apologize for not writing these daily like the Scott campaign. I continue to be amazed that they have enough time to write daily memos. I barely have time to steal a candy bar from the secret stash of some field organizer in the office.

First, thank goodness the debates are over, and for me the winner was clear: The Omni in Jacksonville was definitely nicer than the Sheraton Suites in Plantation.

And Rick Scott, according to Quinnipiac, is still at 42, same place he was 60-70 million ago. However, given my past reviews on this blog of Quinnipiac, I will stipulate that quite frankly the race could also be tied at 78-78, because you know, Quinnipiac. The averages continue to show Crist with a small lead.

Back to the numbers. Democrats are outpacing their 2010 performance by 8.6 points. …

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GOP vote lead over Dems in Fla grows

Marc Caputo crunches to numbers:

More than 1.3 million Floridians have cast absentee and in-person early-vote ballots and Florida Republicans continue to have a strong lead over Democratic ballots cast: 142,000.

Yesterday morning, the GOP lead was almost 138,000.

There’s a sliver of good news in here for Democrat Charlie Crist: the GOP’s advantage in terms of percentages has fallen slightly from 11.7 percent to 10.8 percent.

Democrats will be quick to note this trend and point out that they’re getting more elusive “sporadic” voters than the GOP. Democrats are doing much better relative to 2010, a governor’s race year, when the GOP won early AND absentee ballots before Election Day.

Republicans will point out they’re doing relatively better than in 2012, a presidential election year, and their base is motivated. Indeed, 15 percent of registered Republicans have cast ballots so far compared to just 10 percent of registered Democrats. There’s just more conservative intensity.

Republicans are outvoting Democrats big time by absentee ballot (12.1 percentage points), and they’re narrowly winning in-person early voting by fewer than 2 percentage points. …

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Bill Clinton to rally for Gwen Graham

Bill Clinton will appear at a rally for Gwen Graham on Oct. 26 in Tallahassee, adding star power to neck-and-neck race with incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Southerland.

The event will be held at Florida A&M Quad and lands in the only Sunday of early voting -- the "souls to the polls" day that could drive a critical African American vote. Admission is free and doors will open at noon, according to the campaign.

“There is so much at stake for the middle class in this election – from expanding our economy to protecting Social Security and Medicare to ending the partisan dysfunction of Congress," Graham said. "Now more than ever, we need to bring the North Florida Way of cooperation, independence and problem solving back to Washington – and I am so excited that President Clinton will be here to help remind North Floridians to make their voices heard by casting their ballots.”

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Video: Crist stops by Jacksonville campaign office, says Obama visit unlikely

Crist and his wife, Carole, stopped by a campaign field office in Jacksonville on Wednesday, where he greeted volunteers and sat down to talk about issues with five college students.

They talked about Gov. Rick Scott's cuts to education early in his term, why they should vote, and Crist's decision to restore voting rights for non-violent felons who have served their time. He urged the students to get the word out to encourage people to show up at the polls but, in what is a measure of the size of that hurdle, only two of the students present were registered to vote in Florida. (Two were from other states.)  

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Hospitals, AHCA quibble over emergency care for undocumented immigrants

A coalition of Florida hospitals is challenging a state policy on emergency care for undocumented immigrants.

The coalition, which includes Broward Health and Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, says the state Agency for Health Care Administration has been unlawfully limiting payments to hospitals that provide emergency services to undocumented immigrants.

"There clearly is a federal intent that these hospitals be paid, and the state is supposed to follow it," said Joanne B. Erde, a Miami attorney representing the hospitals. "It is a condition of participating in the Medicaid program."

The state Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, says it is has followed the law.

"We believe the agency is in compliance with federal and state laws with regard to payment of claims for undocumented aliens," spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman said.

Read more here.

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Telephone town hall urges women to vote

Thousands of women across Florida took place in a telephone town hall Wednesday night aimed at getting out the vote.

Speakers included Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin; Jeanette Wynn, president of AFSCME Florida Council 79; Monica Russo, president of the SEIU Florida State Council; and Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The call had a decidedly liberal bent. The panelists addressed the importance of public education, Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage.

Wynn stressed that women could make a difference in the razor-tight contest for governor.

"It is crucial that we all understand the important role we will play in determining the future of this state and this country," the union leader said. "If enough women turn out to vote, it will be the deciding factor."

Experts say women tend to support Democratic candidates. An Oct. 22 poll from Quinnipiac University shows Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist leading Republican incumbent Rick Scott among female voters, 45-39. 

The panel also answered some questions from participants. Among them: …

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Rubio campaigns in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida gave what sounded a lot like a speech from a presidential candidate during a visit with South Carolina Republicans on Wednesday.

Rubio told reporters afterward that he hasn't made any plans for re-election or a presidential run in 2016. But in his 20-minute speech in the state that will cast the first presidential primary ballots in the South, he only briefly mentioned the GOP's candidates, spending most of his time outlining his conservative, populist vision to improve America.

Rubio called for more school choice and said college needs to be more affordable, citing student loan debt of $100,000 after he got his law degree. He also said Republicans need an alternative to the new health care law back by President Barack Obama instead of simply promising to overturn it.

Rubio also talked about his upbringing, recalling days sitting and listening to stories from his grandfather, who came to the United States several years after Rubio's parents arrived in the country from Cuba. He said his grandfather instilled a love of the American dream that he wants to bring back. …

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Video: Rudy Giuliani's revenge on Charlie Crist

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who says Charlie Crist promised him his endorsement for president in 2008 before endorsing John McCain, campaigned in Miami today for Rick Scott.


Here's what Giuliani had to say about Rick Scott in 2010, as Scott was about to snatch the Republican gubernatorial nomination away from Giuliani's former Florida chairman, Attorney General Bill McCollum:

" This is not a guy who should be governor, it is as simple as that ." Giuliani said about Scott, the former head of the Columbia/ HCA hospital chain that in the 90's was immersed in  the largest Medicare fraud case in history. Scott's former company ended up paying 1.7 billion dollars in fines and penalties.

 "If we nominate somebody who has had serious fraud problems in the health care system that is going to be a big mistake," Giuliani said to reporters outside a Boca Raton Republican event.

" There is not going to be a lot of credibility fighting (President Obama's )health care with somebody who has had very very serious problems: one of the largest Medicare frauds in the history of this country," he added.

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