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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott-Crist ad war tops $50m in spending

Another week. Another $10.4 million thrown in the fire we call television advertising.

Florida’s governor’s race is now a $50 million-plus commercial spectacle, with more than 71 percent of that spending from Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott dropped an additional $8 million for ad buys during the week that ended Friday. That’s about a 23 percent increase for the Republican, dwarfing Democrat Charlie Crist’s ad-buy increase of 17 percent, or almost $2.5 million.

If TV ads decided the governor’s race, Scott would win in a landslide.

There’s more to an election than running commercials, however, just as there’s more to winning a war than just using air power. Like a military campaign, a political campaign needs infantry — the “ground game” or “field operations” of paid staff and volunteers who phone voters and reach out them face to face.:

But the latter depends on the former. And so, therefore, does the election.

Think of the old military adage: Fire without maneuver is inconclusive, maneuver without fire is suicide. A Florida campaign that exists only on air isn’t enough; an off-air campaign goes nowhere.

Column is here. …

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Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

Winners of the week

Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy. For Florida Democrats, one positive side of having no statewide officeholder in Tallahassee is that it's easier to look like a rising star. That's why a woman not even elected to office yet — Graham — and a one-term South Florida congressman — Murphy — would be mentioned by a fair number of our astute Florida Insiders as leading statewide contenders in 2016 or 2018.

Loser of the week

Debbie Wasserman Schultz. As if the tough climate for Democrats wasn't enough to worry the DNC chairwoman and Florida congresswoman, Politico piled on with a scathing article loaded with anonymous quotes from critics casting DWS as an inept, self-serving party leader who's consumed with getting the DNC to fund her wardrobe

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As pressure increases over inmate deaths, prison head fires 32 guards

255 Michael Crews071114 Department of CorrectionsThirty-two guards with the Florida Department of Corrections were fired Friday afternoon in what union officials were calling a “Friday night massacre.” All were accused of criminal wrongdoing or misconduct in connection with the deaths of inmates at four state prisons.

One of them is Rollin Suttle Austin, the subject of a Miami Herald investigative report coming Sunday. The Herald has published a string of articles alleging brutality and corruption in the prison system.

Eighteen of those fired by Secretary Michael Crews were involved in the death of Matthew Walker at Charlotte Correctional Institution on April 11. Walker, 55, was killed in what the DOC is calling an “inappropriate use of force.”

Five other fired corrections officers from Union Correctional had been accused of using excessive force in the death of inmate Rudolf Rowe on Aug. 16, 2012. Story here. 

Photo: Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews, shown in this July 10, 2014, file photo, fired more than 30 guards Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in connection with inmate deaths.AL DIAZ/MIAMI HERALD STAFF

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With black vote crucial to Crist, will they turn out?

Crist black vote

Mary Wilkerson is aware there's a governor's race on the November ballot, but "it's not on my radar,'' says the 60-year-old from Jacksonville.

Wilkerson, a black Democrat and reliable supporter of Barack Obama, is the kind of voter who is pivotal to the candidacy of Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor turned Democrat.

His campaign has put a premium on building a field operation aimed at turning out the vote in key communities and has crafted a careful message of inclusion that aims to avoid the mistakes that imperiled Alex Sink, the Democrat who lost to Gov. Rick Scott four years ago by less than 2 percent of the vote.

Blacks made up 11 percent of the vote in 2010, "but if that vote share had been over 12 percent, Rick Scott would not be governor,'' said Omar Khan, Crist's campaign manager.

While the two remain virtually tied in recent polls, black voters overwhelmingly support Crist over Scott this election cycle. Black voters showed up in larger numbers in 2008 and 2012 than white voters, but will they bring record numbers to the polls if Obama is not at the top of the ticket? …

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Court hears case over redistricting docs, consultant claims conspiracy

One of Florida's top Republican political consultants stopped short of accusing the state Supreme Court of lacking "integrity" Friday if it rules that he must disclose emails in a case brought under the state’s new anti-gerrymanding laws.

Pat Bainter, whose firm Data Targeting Inc. has battled for two years to keep the documents private in a lengthy legal battle over the state’s redistricting maps, argued that the release of his emails violates his First Amendment right to anonymous political speech.

But after the justices – who have had access to the documents -- raised doubts about Bainter’s argument that they were trade secrets, he issued a blistering statement.

"Today’s Supreme Court hearing is the culmination of a legal assault and press sensationalism as to whether or not I, a private citizen, have the right to petition my government without fear of a political inquisition into my private matters," he wrote after the oral arguments. "After today's hearing, it is clear to me that, as interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court, Amendments 5 & 6 are unconstitutional because they criminalize political speech based upon its content."

Photo: Pat Bainter, left, consults with his attorneys before the courtroom was closed for his testimony about his undisclosed emails.Full Story

GOP consultant threatens court that its 'intrigity is at stake' over his case

With his First Amendment challenge pending before the Florida Supreme Court, GOP political consultant Pat Bainter issued a rare statement calling out the court after oral arguments today in which he urged the court to keep secret his emails related to redistricting.

Bainter is now suggesting that the "institutional integrity of the court is at stake" in how they rule.

Here's the statement: Full Story

Crist releases "4,000 lies' response ad to Scott's 'swindle"

In response to Gov. Rick Scott's second ad about Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, Democrat Charlie Crist is releasing his second response commercial, called "4,000 lies" -- a references to the estimated number of times the ad called "swindle" ran.

At the heart of Crist response: the misleading nature of "swindle," which The Miami Herald exposed this week. Scott, too, has walked back part of the ad's core allegation that suggests Crist was complicit in Rothstein's crime.

Crist's ad is an improvement on his prior response spot in which he said Scott has "teamed up" with Rothstein. PolitiFact rated that Crist claim False (and it found that Scott's first ad's claim that Rothstein claimed Crist sold judges was half true). It's likely to rate this Crist commercial either true or mostly true because the ad pivots to video of Scott ducking questions in a civil deposition concerning his former hospital company, Columbia/HCA, which was socked with a record $1.7 billion Medicare fraud fine.

While it's true that Scott once invoked his right against self-incrimination 75 times in a deposition, it wasn't in this deposition featured in the spot.  …

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The brand of Duke Energy is poison in Tampa Bay

This flier went to a Republican in Pinellas


This flier went to a Republican in Pinellas

That's why legislative candidates are falling over themselves to distance themselves from the utility and why the Democratic group NextGenClimate sent this flier against Rick Scott, following up on TV ads with a similar anti-Scott/anti-Duke message.

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Elections panel tosses 'cops as props' complaint against Scott

The Florida Elections Commission has thrown out a highly-publicized complaint that was filed against Gov. Rick Scott in July, calling it "hearsay."

The complaint accused Scott of illegally coercing uniformed law enforcement officers from the Hillsborough County sheriff's office and other agencies to attend a campaign event in Tampa. Widely reported by Florida TV stations, the incident was a distraction for Scott's campaign for at least a week and it attracted national news coverage.

A colonel in the Hillsborough sheriff's office, Jim Previtera, said at the time that he and other officers believed they were going to an official state function, not a political event promoting Scott's re-election. The elections panel dismissed the complaint without conducting an investigation.

Amy McKeever Toman, executive director of the elections commission, dismissed the complaint in an Aug. 21 letter to Jeff Marano, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, who had filed it. The Broward PBA chapter and its statewide association both support Scott's Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist. …

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John Thrasher's FSU foes point to political links with Koch brothers

From a story running in Saturday's paper:

One of the latest lines of attack against state Sen. John Thrasher becoming Florida State University's next president: Tying him to the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers.

But Thrasher's ties to the political activists — whose name at FSU is especially radioactive since a controversial gift several years ago — are not as clear as some are suggesting.

Thrasher has accepted campaign donations from the Kochs and attended events with other conservatives that were sponsored in part by Koch dollars. But Thrasher's conservative politics have conflicted with Charles and David Koch's libertarianism.

"I have been saying I've never met them, I've never talked to them and I wouldn't recognize them if they walked into the room," Thrasher told the Times/Herald Thursday.

Thrasher's campaign received a $1,000 check in February from Koch Industries, the Kansas-based company that made the brothers billionaires. He received another $1,000 from the company in 2012.

Thrasher raised nearly $847,000 in total during those two campaign cycles.

Read more here.

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Gov. Scott raises money in Texas, meets the other Rick -- Perry

Gov. Rick Scott was in Texas Thursday, meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and raising money in Dallas. Scott attended law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and worked there as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer. Perry appeared on the Fox Business Network's' Opening Bell Friday where he talked up Scott's record. The Dallas Morning News has a story on Scott's visit.

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Putnam goes shopping to promote three-day sales tax holiday

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam shopping at a Tallahassee Lowe's on Friday to promote the state's sales tax holiday weekend. It's a first-of-its-kind three-day break from sales tax for purchases of energy-efficient and water-efficient appliances.

Steve Bousquet | Times

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam shopping at a Tallahassee Lowe's on Friday to promote the state's sales tax holiday weekend. It's a first-of-its-kind three-day break from sales tax for purchases of energy-efficient and water-efficient appliances.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam went shopping Friday to promote the state's latest tax holiday for consumers: a first-of-its-kind three-day break from sales tax for purchases of energy-efficient and water-efficient appliances.

Through Sunday, retailers will waive state and local sales taxes on products that carry an Energy Star or WaterSense logo up to the first $1,500 of the purchase price. Putnam picked up a new shower head and some light bulbs at a Lowe's store in Tallahassee.

"It will continue to save you money," Putnam said. "By definition, Energy Star rated products save 10 percent on electricity and WaterSense products save 20 percent. It's an excuse to check some things off that honey-do list that somebody's been after you to do."

The Legislature set Sept. 17-19 for the dates of the holiday and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law. Putnam's state web site lists the items that are tax free and more information about the energy tax holiday can be found on the Florida Retail Federation's web site.

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Political Connections Sun: Sheriff Judd predicts pot busts will soar if med marijuana passes

Ben Pollara, director of the United for Care group campaigning to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, appears with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd Sunday to debate the pros and cons of Amendment 2 on Political Connections on Bay News 9. Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9 and Tampa Bay and News 13 in the Orlando area. Here's a clip.


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Fla Insider Poll: Adam Putnam overwhelmingly favored as next GOP gov nominee

Florida Republicans have a deep and wide bench of candidates for top statewide offices, but according to 140 of the state's most plugged in political players the next Republican nominee for governor is almost a foregone conclusion.

Take a bow, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Even with lots of potentially strong Republican contenders in the mix, more than two thirds of those participaing in the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider poll predicted Putnam, the red-headed 40-year-old from Bartow, will be the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2018. None of the other most popular choices - Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio - cracked 10 percent. …

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NextGen Climate builds Rick Scott's ark

 And now for the latest gimmick: NextGen Climate has built an an ark, and the Democrat-leaning enviro gorup is trucking it around Florida using a pretty low-efficiency vehicle to bring home the point that Gov. Rick Scott won't talk about, yes, climate change. 

The ark made its first stop in Tallahassee on Thursday and is headed to Tampa on Friday. The high-profile visual comes a day after 42 scientists from universities around the state asked the governor and other state leaders to call a Climate & Solutions Summit to bring the issue front and center. Scott met with five scientists last month but wouldn't say whether he has changed his mind from denying that human-induced pollution has caused climate change. He did say he likes solutions. 

In Tallahassee on Thursday, Dr. Ron Saff, an alergy and asthma specialist and a member of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, warned that the time for talk has already passed as Florida is feeling the effects of human-induced global warming with increase cases of mosquito-borne illnesses such as enchephalitics dengue fever.  …

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