Campaigns focus on Florida

You may have heard about the vaunted Barack Obama grass-roots campaign, which in Florida now includes nearly 80 field offices, hundreds of full-time staffers and the recent addition of 1,100 "fellows" — specially trained organizers who commit to devoting at least 20 hours a week to turning out the vote.

It stands to make the campaign's unprecedented 2008 effort in Florida look like amateur hour.

But don't underestimate how much stronger the GOP/Mitt Romney ground game is this year compared to four years ago. Last weekend featured another "Super Saturday" statewide voter outreach effort.

The Romney campaign has made more than 5.5 million voter contacts in Florida this year, including 16 times more phone calls than in 2008 and 77 times more door knocks than in 1998.

Romney, Obama in state this week

No word yet on public campaign events in Tampa Bay this week, but Mitt Romney is scheduled to be in Sarasota for a fundraiser Thursday, the same day Barack Obama is in Tampa for a fundraiser at the home of Donn Miggs and Lisa DeBartolo. Among the guests expected? Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and prominent chef Tyler Florence, who is doing the food.

Polls show president leading in Florida

A Sept. 13 NBC/Marist Florida poll found Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 49 percent to 44 percent among likely voters (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%) and 50 percent to 42 percent among a wider pool of registered Florida voters (Margin of error plus or minus 2.8 percent.

Asked which candidate will do a better job handling the economy, Romney had a 1 point advantage among likely voters while Obama had a 10 point lead over Romney in handling foreign policy.

Among likely voters, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson held a 14 percentage point lead against Republican challenger Connie Mack IV, and 16 percentage points among registered voters.

Hypothetical field led by Sink, Crist

Democratic strategist Christian Ulvert shared with Buzz a fascinating Aug. 5-7 SEA Polling & Strategic Design poll of the potential Democratic primary field for governor in 2014. It wisely includes Miami resident Anthony Shriver, part of the Kennedy clan, who looked seriously at challenging Alex Sink for the Democratic nomination in 2010.

In a hypothetical Democrat primary Alex Sink receives 31 percent support, Charlie Crist 29 percent, Shriver 8 percent, former state Sen. Dan Gelber 3 percent, former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales 2 percent; and state Sen. Nan Rich 1 percent. Undecided voters accounted for 26 percent.

Buchanan won't face criminal charges

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's office says it has been informed by the Department of Justice that it closed its investigation of all allegations of campaign finance and other irregularities and would not bring any criminal charges.

"As we stated from the beginning, any fair-minded inquiry into these allegations would establish that Congressman Buchanan never engaged in wrongdoing," said attorney Robert Luskin.

The chief of the DOJ's public integrity section, Jack Smith, advised Buchanan's lawyers today of DOJ's conclusions and authorized them to announce it, Luskin said.

So many allegations and investigations have swirled around Buchanan, R-Sarasota, in recent years it's hard to keep up. But it appears the only ongoing investigation into Buchanan is one by the Office of Congressional Ethics involving witness-tampering allegations. That involves Buchanan being accused of making a $2.9 million settlement offer in a business dispute to influence the testimony of a witness regarding alleged fundraising violations in his 2006 campaign.

Bush writing book about immigration

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is writing a book with a title that cuts directly to the emotion and complexity of the subject: Immigration Wars.

Pinellas sheriff hopefuls on TV today

Check out the candidates for Pinellas County sheriff, Bob Gualtieri and Scott Swope, on Political Connections on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. today.

Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz. For updates on Florida politics, follow Adam Smith on Twitter: @AdamSmithTimes.

Winners of the week

Vern Buchanan. The Justice Department dropped its criminal investigation into the Sarasota congressman's smelly campaign finance activities. Voters on Rick Scott's purge list. After a legal settlement between Gov. Rick Scott and voter rights groups, the governor's office will tell more than 2,000 Floridians identified as potentially ineligible, non-citizen voters that they have no need to worry about being purged from the voter lists.

Losers of the week

Connie Mack IV. Two Florida polls released last week showed Mack losing to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by anywhere from 11 to 16 percentage points. Pinellas County Commission candidate Janet Long. Hey Janet, if you're going to tear into firefighters, perhaps — just perhaps — you should refrain from doing it on the eve of Sept. 11.

Campaigns focus on Florida 09/15/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 16, 2012 2:43pm]

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