We've barely hit 2011, and the 2012 political Buzz is already going strong.
Shopping for media talent
Prospective challengers to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson are lining up political talent. The Buzz is that Senate President Mike Haridopolos — who last week stopped by a party in Washington for Marco Rubio — has been talking to Tampa-based media consultant Adam Goodman.
George LeMieux recently reached out to Fred Davis, best known for the "Celebrity" ad for John McCain in 2008 and the infamous "I'm not a witch" spot for Christine O'Donnell. Reached by e-mail, Davis confirmed LeMieux had contacted him but said he's not been hired, and added that LeMieux did not outright say he'll run. But it's a strong possibility. LeMieux, who this week officially ends his temporary stint as a senator, has returned to Florida and his law firm and has said he'll make an announcement soon.
Kristol's Ryan-Rubio dream ticket
At some point we may have to unveil a Rubio Veep-O-Meter. For now, we'll just share some of the never-ending 2012 chatter about Florida's junior senator.
The Weekly Standard's William Kristol noted on his blog that he had just seen Paul Ryan, the wonky Republican representative from Wisconsin, speak and recently heard Rubio.
"I'll just say this: Wouldn't it be easier just to agree now on a Ryan-Rubio ticket, and save everyone an awful lot of time, effort, and money over the next year and a half?" said Kristol.
Audacity of another autobiography
Want to meet a likely contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination? Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be in Tampa Jan. 14, hawking his new autobiography, Courage to Stand: An American Story. The book signing is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 11802 N Dale Mabry Highway.
Florida may still have that swing
After the trouncing Democrats took last year, people may question whether Florida should even be considered a swing state in 2012. Nelson is the only Democrat in statewide office, while Republicans gained ground in the Legislature and congressional delegation.
Democratic consultant Steve Schale, who managed Barack Obama's Florida campaign in 2008, has no doubt.
"There are lots of reasons why Florida will be competitive in 2012, but mostly the state's presidential election makeup is vastly different than its gubernatorial election makeup," Schale wrote on his blog last week. "Look at the last five elections and you will see it doesn't really matter what happens in the gubernatorial cycle, presidential elections are always tight.
"In fact, if you look at the five presidential elections since 1992, when Florida first joined the ranks of the highly competitive, the record is essentially 2-2-1. Both parties have a 5-6 point win (Dems '96, GOP '04), both have a 2-3 point win (Dems '08, GOP '92) and we all know what happened in 2000, some of us more acutely than others."
Florida's case for an early GOP primary
Meanwhile, we hear more and more talk from Florida Republicans that despite potential penalties from the Republican National Committee, they are intent on once again having an early presidential primary in 2012.
"What's the point of Florida voters having a primary later in the year that won't mean anything?" asked Rubio. "I think Florida is the ideal test. There isn't an issue confronting America that they won't have to address in a state like Florida. And as a Republican, I think it behooves us to have an early Republican primary in Florida. Because if a Republican can't win Florida, they can't win the presidency. So we better make sure whoever we nominate is someone who can be palatable to Floridians."
Rep. Nugent on 'Connections'
Check out newly elected Republican U.S. Rep Rich Nugent of Spring Hill, Ginny Brown-Waite's successor, today on Political Connections on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at [email protected].