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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

To shore up Fla, Romney/RNC shifting Mo resources here

PoliticMo: ...Citing confidence in his chances in the state, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has shifted many of their resources out of Missouri to the battleground state of Florida.

Quietly this week, the Romney campaign and Republican National Committee’s Missouri Communications Director, Tom Brandt, was moved from St. Louis to Ft. Lauderdale to assist with the party’s effort Florida, a critical swing state.

“We’re confident that Missouri will deliver it’s electoral votes to Governor Romney in November,” RNC spokesman Matt Connelly said in a statement to PoliticMo. “Accordingly, we have made the strategic decision to shift our Missouri Victory Communications Director to Florida where his efforts will have a greater impact on ensuring we elect Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.”...

More here

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Rubio to rally for Romney in Denver before critical debate; Boehner in Florida

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will lead a "victory rally" for Mitt Romney on Wednesday morning in Denver, hours before the debate between Romney and Barack Obama.

The 10 a.m. MDT rally will be at National Western Complex. Romney will appear at a rally Monday evening in Denver. Obama will campaign there on Thursday.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner will attend a meet and greet Tuesday in Naples. The event will be held at Romney's Naples office, 2500 North Tamiami. Doors at 9 a.m., show at 10 a.m.

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Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

vvote.jpgcurry.jpgWinner of the week: Florida elections supervisors. Republicans and Democrats alike, they proved to be a reassuringly effective check and balance against Gov. Rick Scott administration's ham-fisted voter purge efforts — and for the Florida Republican Party's apparently fraudulent voter registration program.

Loser of the week: Lenny Curry. The GOP has spent years screaming about ACORN and elections fraud with little or no evidence of a widespread problem. Now we learn that the Florida GOP led by Curry paid a consultant with a checkered track record $1.3 million to register voters in Florida. The firm apparently submitted phony registrations across the state.


 

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Need help navigating Florida's proposed constitutional amendments? Your guide is here

For the 2012 general election, Florida voters are facing perhaps the longest ballot ever. The ballot will have choices for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, the state Legislature, county offices and merit retention for judges, plus city and county referendums.

But what may prompt some voters to go cross-eyed as they wind their way through the ballot is the Legislature's decision to place 11 proposed changes to the Constitution on the ballot. All of them, some written in densely legal language, appear in their entirety.

The Tampa Bay Times is publishing a closer look at what each amendment means so voters can study the amendments more closely before they head to the polls or before their ballot arrives in the mail. 

Everything you need is at tampabay.com/amendments.

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Connie Mack struggles to generate interest

mmmack.jpgDESTIN — If Republican Connie Mack IV is shouldering the burden of his party's control of the U.S. Senate, you wouldn't have known it last week as he finished a six-day bus tour of 17 cities in North and Central Florida.

In 26 stops, Mack drew modest crowds and meager media attention. The steady drip of negative poll numbers had him battling expectations as much as barbs from his challenger, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. And with about four weeks before early voting begins, the general public still seems ambivalent.

In the Republican stronghold of Destin on Thursday, Mack greeted about 25 supporters outside the Donut Hole cafe on U.S. 98, and then went inside to introduce himself to customers.

"Could you get us menus?" one elderly couple asked Mack, 45, the four-term congressman from Fort Myers, after he shook their hands. The congressman obliged.

None of it has cracked Mack's cool.

He has tethered his fortunes, his message and his strategy to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and confidently tells audiences, "If Mitt Romney wins, I win. If I win, Mitt Romney wins."

Story here

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GOP names new candidate after Horner prostitution scandal

 The Republican Party of Florida on Saturday chose Michael LaRosa, R-Celebration, as a replacement candidate for House District 42, which became enmeshed in scandal this week.

On Monday, Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, abruptly dropped out of the race when his name came up on client list during an investigation into an alleged prostitution ring.

Horner’s name will remain on the ballot, but all votes cast for him will go to LaRosa, a young candidate who graduated for the University of Central Florida in 2004.

"I commend Michael LaRosa for his strong desire to serve his fellow Floridians in the State House and his willingness to run under difficult circumstances. The citizens of House District 42 will be well represented in Tallahassee under his leadership" RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry said in a statement.

LaRosa, the son of a Cuban immigrant and a Miami native, will face Eileen Game, a business woman running on the Democratic ticket. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the Central Florida district, but Horner was widely expected to win reelection. The district is home to a large number of Hispanic voters. …

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Former Fla GOP exec dir Delmar Johnson says 'presumed' hookers joined donor bash in Bahamas

deljim.jpgOrlando Sentinel:

Delmar Johnson, the state's star witness in the fraud and theft trial of former Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer, told attorneys in a sworn statement that he saw a golf cart full of women — he presumed they were prostitutes — at a party fund-raiser in the Bahamas in 2008.

Johnson, 33, of Winter Garden, gave a video-recorded deposition June 15 in the criminal case against Greer, the ousted party chairman now awaiting trial on theft and fraud charges. The Orlando Sentinel obtained a copy Friday.

....Johnson's most dramatic revelation was about a party fund-raiser in the Bahamas in 2008. In attendance were major party donors and prominent Florida Republicans, he said.

"I specifically saw a golf cart with young ladies drive by, the extent of why they were there I did not specifically know," Johnson said. "But I could presume they were prostitutes."

Story here

www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-jim-greer-delmar-depo-20120928,0,823302.story

 

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Romney's final Florida fundraiser

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Fla Chamber rolling in campaign ca$h

The top fundraisers among political committees in the first reporting period of the general election:

1. Florida Jobs PAC, CCE (David Hart, Florida Chamber) $435,000

2. Committee for a Conservative House (Will Weatherford) $378,750

3. Partnership for Florida’s Future (Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber) $340,000

4. Committee to Protect Florida (Roger Pennington) $314,533

5. Let’s Get to Work (John French – Rick Scott) $306,700
 

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Lenny Curry lashes back with sarcasm and commentary on judicial elections

Hit with a barrage of criticism over the Republican Party of Florida siding with a right-wing conservative group in opposition to the state's three Florida Supreme Court justices, RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry roared back on Friday with an op-ed in a handful of newspapers and online sites.

Some news organizations, such as the Tampa Bay Times, have refrained from running it because they claim it includes false information.

"Here’s a riddle for Florida voters,'' Curry begins, in an opening laced with sarcasm. "Who wears a black robe, is sitting on a stack of a million greenbacks, and has a red face because voters get to decide whether or not they keep their jobs?"

He answers his rhetorical question by naming the state's three justices who are up for merit retention, Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. Then adds:

 "The three of them are sitting on a combined political war chest of more than a million dollars, given to them by special interest groups, trial lawyers and political activists.  And they are red-faced with anger that voters get to decide their fate at the ballot box."

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Long-time Tallahassee lobbyist Fred Martin has died

Fred Martin, a veteran Tallahassee lobbyist for two decades and a former top staffer for the Senate Commerce Committee, has died. He would have turned 72 next week.

The News Service of Florida reported Friday that Martin passed away on Thursday. A native of Anniston, Ala., his clients ranged from insurance companies and banks to a sports museum. He also worked for the state Department of Insurance for more than a decade.

"Today we honor Fred Martin, a friend and colleague who passed away," Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said on Twitter. "Fred's good nature made a lasting impact on all who knew him."

Martin moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State and was also a graduate of the banking school at the University of Florida. After serving as staff director of the Senate Commerce Committee in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he went into lobbying, first as vice president for governmental relations for Barnett Banks of Florida.

 

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PolitiFact Florida: Did Dan Webster use tax money to build a lobbyist lounge?

Democratic congressional candidate and former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings goes on the attack in a TV commercial, claiming incumbent Republican Rep. Daniel Webster "used taxpayer funds to build a lobbyist lounge."

The reality of the "lobbyist lounge" is pretty different than the boozy, smoke-filled image Demings tries to convey. As House speaker the year Republicans took over the Florida House, Webster designated an unused office in the speaker's suite for use by a few Republicans who served as minority leaders throughout decades of Democratic control. These former leaders were lobbyists.

Read why the Democrat's claim earned a Mostly False on the Truth-O-Meter.

More from PolitiFact Florida this week:

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FDLE arrests Rep. Daphne Campbell's aide on grand theft charges

A legislative aide to state Rep. Daphne Campbell was arrested Friday for grand theft after she allegedly charged constituents phony fees for assistance that never materialized. 

Janice Y. Shackelford, 49, resigned her job as a secretary in Campbell’s Miami Shores office after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement started investigating complaints from constituents who said she charged them for assistance on mortgage issues, immigration concerns and traffic violations.

The victims were all of Haitian descent, investigators said, and Shackleford often would have them sign court forms and documents, charge them fake fees of as much as $1,110 and fail to follow through.

Sometimes Shackelford would claim their paperwork was processed and charge them additional fees to push it through the process. Other times, victims would arrive in court for a date set by Shackelford “only to discover it was a bogus court date and no court hearing was scheduled,” FDLE spokesman Keith Kameg said in a statement.

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Julian Castro, rising Dem star, in Tampa on Saturday for canvassing

castro.jpgSan Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will join Rep. Kathy Castor and other Florida Democrats for a canvassing effort in Tampa tomorrow as the Obama campaign opens its 100th office in the state.

"With the October 9th voter registration deadline quickly approaching, our grassroots army will be working to ensure Floridians can make their voice heard on Election Day,” Ashley Walker, Obama for America state director, said in a statement.

Castro, who delivered the keynote address at the Democration National Convention, will appear at the new South Tampa office, 3825 Henderson Boulevard, Suite 405, at 1:30 p.m.

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Movers & Shakers: VISIT FLORIDA president hits the road, DMS spokesman heads to DC

VISIT FLORIDA president hits the road

VISIT FLORIDA president and CEO Chris Thompson is leaving his post to be president and CEO of Brand USA, a public/private partnership to increase international travel to the United States.

The departure from the state's tourism marketing corporation prompted a mention from Gov. Rick Scott, whose office sent out a press release tying Thompson's promotion to the state's tourism and job numbers.

“Tourism is directly linked to Florida’s employment situation: for every 85 tourists that visit Florida, another job is created," a press release from The Governor's Office states.

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