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Key Republicans quick to disparage Obama for extending ban on drilling off Florida

Some prominent Florida Republicans, including Marco Rubio, Rick Scott and, particularly, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, wasted little time venting about Barack Obama's decision to extend the ban on drilling in federal waters off Florida's coast.

"It's another example of a job-killing policy led by the president and, unfortunately, embraced by Sen. Bill Nelson,'' said Haridopolos, whose anticipated challenge to Nelson in 2012 surely was not helped by him essentially pleading guilty last week to the Florida Commission on Ethics for failing to properly fill out financial disclosure forms.

But one new Republican star, Attorney General-elect Pam Bondi, sounded much less bothered by the president's decision.

"That's the president's prerogative. Right now I'm opposed to near-shore drilling, absolutely, given what I know and what I'm learning," Bondi said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

"We still have miles and miles of dissipated oil sitting on the floor of our Gulf. Thank goodness we haven't had a hurricane. ... We've got to protect our state," Bondi said.

Check out the full interview at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., during which Bondi also talks about her transition, her priorities in office and about her traveling to Vegas to celebrate the birthday of Jim Wilkes, one of Florida's top trial lawyers.

Dockery looking like a player in Scott regime

There's a lot of speculation that state Sen. Paula Dockery could wind up with a spot in the Rick Scott administration, say, as secretary of transportation or environment. The Scott transition team is taking its time with such appointments, but Dockery confirmed to Buzz that she would be receptive to considering such an offer.

Wide open GOP race

Florida Democrats have all but settled on former state Sen. Rod Smith, D-Alachua, as the next party chairman, but the race for state GOP chairman remains unpredictable. Based on the anonymous fliers attacking Hillsborough Republican chairman Deborah Cox-Roush, she appears to be the frontrunner, but the contest is wide open. Also in the mix are Pinellas state committeeman Tony DiMatteo, Sarasota GOP Chairman Joe Gruters, Palm Beach Chairman Sid Dinerstein, and Jefferson County state committeeman David Bitner.

The fact that Gov.-elect Scott unsuccessfully urged John Thrasher to stay on as chairman suggests no candidate has emerged who makes both the activist base and the Tallahassee party establishment fully comfortable. Don't be a bit surprised to see a another candidate emerge before long.

The vote will take place in mid-January at Walt Disney World.

Divided over Rangel censure

The U.S. House last week voted 333-79 to censure Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. for financial improprieties, and every Florida Republican in attendance supported the censure.

Democrats were divided. Voting against it were Reps. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Corrine Brown of Jacksonville. Voting in favor were Reps. Kathy Castor of Tampa, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Ron Klein of Boca Raton.

West picks capital insider as chief of staff

Congressman-elect Allen West, who created a fire storm by picking a conservative radio host as his chief of staff, has gone a safer route this time. The South Florida Republican announced he's hired Capitol Hill veteran Jonathan Blyth as his chief of staff.

West had hired Joyce Kaufman, but she backed out amid controversy over her sharp partisan views and lack of Washington experience.

Alex Leary and Michael Bender contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner

of the week

Rod Smith. The former lieutenant governor candidate appears to have locked up the votes and scared away any serious challenge to his campaign to become the next Florida Democratic chairman. Of course, the former prosecutor and state senator from Alachua may regret it once he finds himself refereeing petty disputes among dysfunctional local parties. But for someone lacking a significant geographic base, winning over die-hard party activists could be just the ticket for, say, mounting a gubernatorial campaign in 2014.

Loser

of the week

The Republican Party of Florida. Here's how the party's new emphasis on transparency works: First they get a subpoena from federal investigators and keep it hush-hush even from executive board members. Then, when the press finds out, the party bosses say it's no big deal and decline to comment. Finally, they reluctantly own up to it.

Key Republicans quick to disparage Obama for extending ban on drilling off Florida 12/04/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 4, 2010 7:10pm]
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