U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV made a four-stop trip in Pasco this past week while campaigning for U.S. Senate. He hit all four corners of the county, including Trinity, Wesley Chapel, Dade City and Hudson. At his last event in Heritage Pines, Mack continued his strategy of ignoring his GOP primary rivals and trying to tie Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to President Barack Obama.
"He's a lockstep liberal," Mack told the crowd of about 35. "Sen. Nelson has chosen to be the running mate, frankly, of Obama instead of supporting the values of Floridians." The event was more of rally against Obama than anything else. Mack spent most of his time criticizing the president and mostly mentioned Nelson in passing.
But Pasco was just the appetizer. Mack spoke later that evening to 150 people at a Hillsborough Republican Party meeting. In an exchange captured on video by POLITICO, Mack continued to pick a fight with the Tampa Bay Times. He called the paper a "mouthpiece for liberals." He also refused to answer questions from political editor Adam C. Smith, saying he is "not a real journalist."
Last Sunday, the Times editorial board recommended former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon in the U.S. Senate Republican primary. Smith is not a member of the editorial board and does not participate in discussions about recommending candidates.
Scott sunny about Florida's job future
Gov. Rick Scott stopped by Career Central in Zephyrhills on Friday to tout new state figures showing 9,000 jobs were added in June, leaving the state's unemployment unchanged at 8.6 percent. He said, "throughout our state, we see signs our economy is moving in the right direction." Scott isn't exactly singing from the same hymnal as the Mitt Romney campaign, which is trying to underscore Florida's economic struggles. Asked about the political effects of his sunny jobs message, Scott said he's focused on getting people back to work. "We have two individuals running for president, and they'll focus on those things," he said.
Starkey admits campaign mailer flub
County Commission hopeful Kathryn Starkey recently sent voters a flier with a five-point "Starkey Plan." One goal: "Rein in runaway local government spending." But in an interview with the Times on Monday, she apologized for including that sentence. She has since removed the line from other campaign literature, but she didn't catch it before the mailers were sent to voters.
"They don't have runaway spending," she said, adding she apologized to County Administrator John Gallagher and longtime budget chief Mike Nurrenbrock. "Just like at the school district, people are looking under every piece of paper for every dime and nickel they can save."
She added: "All in all, I think our county government has done a good job of being fiscally conservative in a tough time. We're ranked very high in the state as far as fiscal conservatism." (A Florida TaxWatch report from last fall shows Pasco ranks far below the statewide average in local government taxes and spending.)
State House hopeful is an art buff
First-time legislative candidate Strother Hammond erred by not including his Land O'Lakes home on his financial disclosure form. (He filed an amended report this week that listed the home.) But otherwise he was very thorough. He even disclosed a $1,100 painting by Thomas Kinkade, who died in April, instead of simply including the artwork in a lump sum under "personal effects." Kinkade, of course, was the best-selling artist who used the trademarked slogan, "Painter of Light."
A promise kept by home builders
Flash back to March 2011. Commissioners were learning about the new "mobility fee" that cuts transportation costs for developments in urban areas. To help pay for the subsidy, officials assumed the Penny for Pasco sales tax would be renewed by voters this November.
Because the mobility fee plan is a break for developers, Gallagher said, "they've got to pick up the reins and push Penny for Pasco." A commissioner asked what that means. "They know what it means," Gallagher said to laughter from a crowd packed with home builders. "Does anybody here not know what it means?"
Fast forward to this month. The political group supporting the Penny released its latest fundraising report. It included an $8,000 check from the Tampa Bay Builders Association.
Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236. For more political news visit The Buzz at blogs.tampabay.com/buzz.