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Money not only talks, it'll answer questions

It's campaign finance report season again, which means politicians, campaign operatives and political junkies across Florida are whispering about who might raise what and what it all means. It's been 134 years since Florida last had open seats for every statewide office, so there's plenty to Buzz about.

Here are some of the key questions to be answered once the quarterly fundraising reports are released:

• Is Marco Rubio a credible candidate for the Senate? After glowing pieces about him by the likes of George Will and the National Review, it will be hard to take him seriously if he raises less than the $340,000 he pulled in last quarter. Look for north of $2 million for Charlie Crist.

• Is Jeff Kottkamp sure to face a primary? If the lieutenant governor and candidate for attorney general doesn't report a big number, at least several hundred thousand dollars, he'd better gear up for a tough primary.

• Is Kendrick Meek blowing through all his money? The Democratic U.S. Senate candidate has a big staff working on getting him qualified for the ballot by signature, but he'll need every penny for an uphill race against (probably) Crist. Plus it looks like Meek will face his own primary challenge from former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre.

• Are Alex Sink and Bill McCollum still competitive? Both are expected to raise in the vicinity of $1 million, and people will be watching if either gubernatorial candidate is far ahead. This is Sink's third quarter raising money and McCollum's second.

• Will state Republican Party chairman Jim Greer have some explaining to do? The state GOP took some heat for having been surpassed in fundraising by the state Democrats last quarter, and the party has pushed candidates to raise money for the party as well as their own campaigns. It's an ominous sign if the state Democratic Party raises more money again.

• Should Adam Putnam sweat? Once viewed as the all-but-inevitable agriculture commissioner (though he faces a primary challenge from state Sen. Carey Baker), the Republican U.S. representative from Bartow now has a potentially tough Democratic opponent in Scott Maddox. If the former Tallahassee mayor debuts with a strong money-raising quarter, that race could certainly start looking interesting.

Candidates on the air

St. Petersburg City Council candidates Karl Nurse and Vel Thompson will appear at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. today on Political Connections on Bay News 9. The show airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Brother comes to Sansom's defense

The legal defense fund set up for indicted ex-House Speaker Ray Sansom has raised $18,725, according to a newly filed disclosure form. The money comes entirely from Panhandle residents, including members of Sansom's family. The largest donation, $5,000, came from accountant Stephen Riggs of Destin.

In a June 11 solicitation letter, Sansom's brother Randy Sansom called the indictment led by State Attorney Willie Meggs politically motivated and said the cost of the case would be about $100,000. "Ray does not have the financial means to pay these fees and needs your help!" the letter said.

And baby makes six for new Senate family

Sen. George LeMieux and his wife, Meike, are expecting their fourth child. The LeMieux clan currently includes three sons, Max, Taylor and Chase, who were a hit during their father's swearing-in ceremony last month.

Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com.

Winner

of the week

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson: Following the lead of Joe "You lie!" Wilson, Grayson, sadly, proved that these days it can pay to be outrageous or offensive. Nobody in America had heard of the Orlando Democrat until he went on the House floor and insisted, "the Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick." Now lefties are championing Grayson as a hero, and $150,000 has rolled into his campaign account.

Loser

of the week

Chairman Matthew Carter and Katrina McMurrian. Charlie Crist bumped the two Jeb Bush-appointed commissioners off the Public Service Commission after weeks of controversy over whether the PSC is too cozy with the utilities it regulates. Interesting to note that at a time when some conservatives are souring on Crist, he ousted a Baptist minister, Carter, and appointed the owner of a bar that features pole dancing.

Money not only talks, it'll answer questions 10/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 3, 2009 8:41pm]

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