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The Biz: McCain, Obama both have strong financial support

Fundraising race a tight one

What do health care entrepreneur Akshay Desai, ex-Tampa Bay Rays managing partner Vince Naimoli and TECO Energy CEO Sherrill Hudson have in common? Let's ask the same question about the likes of Jabil Circuit chief Tim Main, Tampa Bay Partnership chief Stuart Rogel and businessman and Tampa Bay Bucs Glazer family member Avram Glazer.

The first group has made political contributions to Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain, while the latter group of executives has financially supported Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

In Florida, for now, John McCain is the $8-million man and Barack Obama is the $7-million man. It's that close in presidential campaign contributions — as of June 30 — gathered from the Sunshine State, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Kudos to McCain's fundraising here since his campaign's contributions are eclipsed by Obama on the national level. Nationwide, McCain's raised $145.5-million, while Obama's way out in front with more than $339-million, according to the center's data.

But let's go from macro to micro. Typically, the vast majority of the U.S. and Florida community of business executives vote Republican, while more working stiffs tend to lean Democratic. That seems again to be the case, based on a close look at individual campaign contributions from Tampa Bay area business leaders. But it's not as Republican here as you might think.

To be sure, there is a traditional McCain stronghold of fundraisers symbolized by such party stalwarts as the Sembler real estate development family in St. Petersburg, financier William R. Hough and Blake Caspers of the Caspers Co., a big owner of area McDonald's.

Yet Obama has his backers among business folks, too. Consider the contributions from Beltz & Ruth attorney Larry Beltz, retired auto dealer and investor Frank Morsani, HSN executive Marty Nealow and Rooms To Go CEO Jeffrey Seaman.

Bank ramps up collection efforts

Alabama-based Colonial BancGroup is not taking its disappointing second-quarter earnings lightly. After a loss of $8.9-million in the second quarter, the bank boosted its collections staff by 51 percent and created a "war room" in Tampa focused on 42 foreclosed or problem credits worth $325-million to help rid the bank of soured loans and foreclosed properties, Colonial CEO Robert E. Lowder told analysts in a recent conference call. "Their objectives over the next two quarters (are) to dispose of those properties and those loans at full value and we think that we do a good job of doing that," Lowder said.

Times Staff Writer

The Biz: McCain, Obama both have strong financial support 08/02/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:01am]
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