Crist is engaged, but will it help?

Tricky week for the Veep-O-Meter. The national Buzz about Gov. Charlie Crist being John McCain's running mate has ebbed considerably lately. The respected Politico Web site (politico.com) has McCain insiders saying Mitt Romney is high on the short list, and Crist squarely in the second tier of "less likely, but possible" contenders. The latest National Review has a cover story about Crist, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge being unacceptable choices to conservatives.

"The business community doesn't like him," Grover Norquist, the influential president of Americans for Tax Reform said of Crist to the Los Angeles Times. "Besides, if you can't win Florida on your own, you're not going to win."

But Crist is now engaged, and that makes him a more appealing pick than if he were still a bachelor. What's more, a bunch of new polls came out last week underscoring how tight Florida may be in November. McCain leads in must-win Florida by just 2.2 percentage points, according to the average of recent polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com. As long as Florida's in play, so are Crist's veep prospects.

Oh, the possibilities …

Had an unusual call last week from Democratic 25th Congressional District candidate Joe Garcia, who is running to unseat Mario Diaz-Balart in Miami. He launched into a rapid-fire monologue about how much he appreciated my support (huh?!), how well his campaign's going, blah, blah, blah. Finally, when he mentioned my political committee, I cut him off. "Joe! This is Adam Smith of the St. Pete Times, not Adam Smith the congressman from Washington."

The mind reels thinking about the mischief I could have caused if I'd let him go on thinking I was U.S. Rep. Adam Smith.

"Pelosi thinks you're a sissy."

"I'm with my mistresses now, Joe. Can you call me later?"

"Tancredo was right, Garcia. Miami really is a Third World Country."

Sen. Alex Sink in 2010?

A Public Policy Polling survey of Florida voters last week found Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, beating Republican incumbent Mel Martinez 37 percent to 31 percent in a hypothetical U.S. Senate contest. Not everybody trusts the kind of automated phone polling employed by Public Policy, but Sink, 60, is certain to remain a strong prospect to take on Martinez in 2010. Check out Sink on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., where she talks about the possibility of running for the Senate, Barack Obama and her opposition to offshore drilling, among other subjects.

A bad mistake, worse timing

U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, was trying to be patriotic during July 4 week. But a mailer he sent out touting his care for veterans has backfired. It shows a nice old man wearing a jacket full of service medals — Soviet service medals.

Mahoney's office has apologized for the gaffe. But Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer (sounding as though the Red Army is storming North Miami Beach. RIGHT NOW!) demanded the Democrat reimburse taxpayers for the mailer.

"Is a taxpayer-funded mail piece featuring a Soviet Veteran who defended communism really the way that Congressman Mahoney wants to 'honor' our men and women in uniform?" Greer asks. "Unbelievably, Congressman Mahoney and his staff are so disconnected with the American people that they can't tell the difference between an American Veteran and a decorated communist veteran."

McCollum no fan of drilling

Don't count Attorney General Bill McCollum among the Republicans like Crist changing their tune on offshore drilling. "I'm personally not in favor of drilling off Florida's coast," he said, arguing that the state needs to do more to foster nuclear energy. He said he agreed with moves to explore new tracts very far away, but "any kind of wholesale opening of the coastline of Florida to drilling is just unnecessary to the bottom line of the energy needs of our country and a risk to the beaches and tourism and the beauty of our state."

Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz..

Winner of the week

State House Speaker Marco Rubio got the Charlie Crist brushoff when he questioned the governor's authority to a sign a casino gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe, but Rubio had the last laugh. The Florida Supreme Court shot down Crist's deal.

Loser of the week

Former Sen. President John McKay's efforts to pass the Amendment 5 "tax swap" is looking tougher every day. Last week Gov. Crist equivocated when asked if he'd campaign for it or even vote for it. Then a broad group of opponents filed suit challenging the ballot language.

Crist is engaged, but will it help? 07/05/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 6, 2008 4:07pm]

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