Barack Obama's former campaign manager, David Plouffe, was in Tampa on Friday, talking to volunteer supporters and raising money for the Democratic National Committee at Mise en Place restaurant. Looks like they'll need every penny raised, given their ambitious plans for a campaign field organization, called Organizing for America, in Florida and across the country.
The Obama 2.0 campaign, as it's sometimes called, says it has put a staff in place in about 15 states so far, and hires are coming soon in Florida. It hasn't made any announcements yet, but we hear it's already tapped John Bivona for Florida field director. He was a regional field director based in Pinellas County during the election. Names in the mix for state director include veteran Florida organizers Ashley Walker and Nate Jenkins.
"The newly hired state director will almost immediately begin a series of listening tours around the state to continue to engage our supporters in a dialogue about the issues most important to them at a national level (health care, energy, education, etc.) as well as issues specific to their own communities,'' Organizing for America spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth said in an e-mail. "They are also intended to continue providing our supporters with the tools they need to keep these conversations going across kitchen tables, on front porches and in their own neighborhoods."
A group of conservative, Republican activists in South Florida has launched an online petition to discourage Charlie Crist from running for the Senate: www.keepcharliecrist.com.
"We need Charlie Crist in Florida. We believe the vast majority of Floridians agree with us. We need Charlie Crist to stay as our governor and keep his pledge to make property taxes 'drop like a stone' and lower insurance rates. We need Charlie Crist's strong leadership here at home,'' says the petition, which we suspect has more to do with helping likely Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio than genuine fondness for Crist.
Several of the leaders of this effort have been vocal critics of Crist's anointed state GOP chairman, Jim Greer.
On the tube
Check out Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham on Political Connections on Bay News 9 today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
How worried are Republicans that they might lose the Governor's Mansion if Crist runs for the Senate? Enough to place a provision in a controversial and probably doomed elections bill that would give the "senior U.S. senator" of a political party the authority to appoint 15 members of that party's state executive committee "if the governor is not a member of the party."
It sure sounds like an effort to assure Sen. Crist would retain significant control over the state party if Alex Sink winds up in the Governor's Mansion.
A half-dozen sons and daughters of capital press corps members were ushered in for a meeting and pictures with Crist during Take Your Child to Work Day last week, and 11-year-old Lily Fineout stole the show.
"What are you going to do about the university budget cuts?" she asked a startled Crist, who answered: "Try to stop them. We don't want to have cuts if we can help it."