Sunday, July 22, 2018
Politics

William March: Florida Dems seeking options in Senate race against Dana Young

Florida Democrats apparently are seeking an alternative to Bob Buesing to challenge state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, in 2018.

Insider talk is that the party considers Young’s seat its top Senate priority in 2018, and wants an Hispanic candidate.

City Council member Mike Suarez confirmed he was contacted recently by someone representing the state Democratic Party about the race. He wouldn’t say who, but he wasn’t interested — Suarez is a likely 2019 mayoral candidate.

Buesing, a prominent lawyer known for volunteer work on child welfare, lost to Young by 7 percent in 2016 while Joe Redner, running as an independent, got 9.5 percent.

Some Democrats say Buesing would have won absent Redner. Others say Buesing and Young might have split the Redner votes, and that Buesing’s campaign wasn’t aggressive.

Buesing will decide soon on a rematch, but any Democrat will face a tough challenge.

Young’s campaign and independent committee spent about $2.7 million in 2016, and Democrats estimate the Republican Party added another $2 million. Young said she doesn’t know the party’s spending total.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, head of the Democratic state Senate campaign arm, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Buesing said he’s serious about the race, and, "I want the cause to get the best possible candidate."

Sink backs Lee’s
CFO amendment

Former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, agrees with the idea for a constitutional amendment proposed by Republican state Sen. Tom Lee — who hopes to be a future CFO — on the duties of the office.

But Lee’s proposal is mired in what he calls "a turf war" among Republicans.

Currently, the CFO pays all the state’s bills but has little say over whether the spending is proper or how much should be spent.

The Legislature makes budgets based on estimates from the state Revenue Estimating Conference, which includes only representatives of the Legislature and governor. State agencies then contract with vendors for purchases of goods and services.

That means, Lee said, "The only people who decide how much to spend are the people who are going to spend it, and they want to produce as rosy a fiscal picture as they can."

If an agency then produces a faulty contract, there’s nothing the CFO can do.

"If the contract was poorly written, didn’t have the appropriate requirements in it, or maybe it was a sweetheart deal, you still can’t withhold payment," said Sink, who said she saw that happen frequently as CFO.

Lee has proposed making the CFO part of the Revenue Estimating Conference and giving them authority over contracts of $10 million or more.

But a committee of the state Constitution Revision Commission rejected the idea after it was opposed by the current CFO, Jimmy Patronis, and his ally Gov. Rick Scott. Patronis will be Lee’s opponent if Lee runs in 2018.

Scott and Patronis argue it would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy and set the CFO against other elected officials in charge of state agencies — the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner.

Lee notes that Republican former CFO Jeff Atwater also favored the concept and said he’ll keep trying in both the CRC and the Legislature to get an amendment on the 2018 ballot.

Wicker announces campaign team

Republican Joe Wicker’s campaign staff for state House District 59:

•Tom Piccolo of Strategic Image Management, general consultant.

•Audie Canney of AIM Consulting, former chief legislative aide to Lee, political adviser.

•Treasurer Anibal David Cabrera, financial adviser and Tampa Bay and Florida Young Republicans treasurer.

Gonzalez runs for state chair

Two Tampa Democratic Party activists have made announcements about the race for state party chairman: Alma Gonzalez is running, and Alan Clendenin is not.

Both are on the Democratic National Committee; Gonzalez has also been state party treasurer. An employee relations lawyer, she works for the county Civil Service Board.

Also running in the Dec. 9 election are Brevard County party Chairman Stacey Patel, union leader Monica Russo of Miami, and Palm Beach County Chairman Terrie Rizzo.

The winner will take over a party in disarray after the resignations of Chairman Stephen Bittel over sexual harassment allegations, and President Sally Boynton Brown.

Clendenin ran twice, nearly winning in 2013.

Contact William March at [email protected]

Comments
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Published: 07/20/18
March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

In the wake of good fundraising news for Democrat David Shapiro, who is running against Rep. Vern Buchanan in Congressional District 16, political analysts are upping their odds of Shapiro’s winning. But what about Congressional District 15, where Re...
Published: 07/20/18
Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday that running against Joe Biden in 2020 would be "a dream," claiming that Barack Obama "took him out of the garbage heap" to make him his running mate in 2008.Trump was asked ...
Published: 07/19/18
At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

ST. PETERSBURG — Linda and Jack Miller braved the humidity at Demens Landing on Wednesday night for a simple reason: "Treason," said Linda Miller, 66. The St. Petersburg couple joined more than 100 protesters toting signs, pins and megaphones...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/19/18
Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

During the summer of 2012, Cody Wilson hung around J&J, a car-repair shop run by two "goofy" guys in their late 20s. The Austin warehouse was crowded with engine blocks, car parts and Pelican boxes that never seemed to have been opened, but the 24-ye...
Published: 07/18/18
‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

WASHINGTON - For nearly five years, the young Russian political-science student was an unusual fixture at the most important events of the U.S. conservative movement.Maria Butina, who was indicted this week on charges of being a covert Russian agent,...
Published: 07/18/18
PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin made inaccurate statements to the media following their one-on-one talks in Helsinki about election meddling, global terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.Here’s a rundown of our fact-checks.Trump:...
Published: 07/17/18
Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

JOHANNESBURG — Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday took aim at "strongman politics" in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in an imp...
Published: 07/17/18
Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Hypocrisy, thy name is Rick Scott.And, yes, I owe Shakespeare an apology.But I think Florida’s governor owes all of us an apology.This isn’t about one man’s opinion, and it isn’t about philosophical differences. This is about a politician who is publ...
Published: 07/17/18
Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

HELSINKI — Standing next to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trump’s benefit and seemed to accept Putin’s i...
Published: 07/16/18