No sooner had Barack Obama won the presidential election than pundits started looking to 2012 and possible Republican challengers. A Gallup Poll asked people to rank the top 10 candidates they would like to run. Topping the list: Sarah Palin (67 percent), Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Second to last: Gov. Charlie Crist (23 percent), one below former Gov. Jeb Bush (31 percent). The telephone poll was taken Nov. 5-16 and included 799 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Sink looks to future
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Florida's only Democratic elected executive officer, promised a decision soon on her political future, which could include running for the Senate seat held by Republican Mel Martinez in 2010 or running for governor — or staying put and perhaps preparing for a run for governor in 2014, when the office will be open.
"I'm going to make up my mind very soon," Sink said. "It's all about what's best for me, and what's best for the state."
If Sink runs, who are the Democrats most likely to run for her Cabinet post? One name getting pushed is Palm Beach County clerk of court Sharon Bock.
Filling the Baker void
Political circles are abuzz about who is running to replace St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who leaves office a year from now because of term limits. But don't believe everything you hear. Some potential candidates being discussed said they aren't interested. State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, said he is not running, no matter what you heard. He said he is busy enough with the state House. Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch also is not running. But that doesn't mean he is ruling out a future bid. Kathleen Ford, a former council member and another widely discussed name, said it's doubtful she will run. Only two candidates have formally applied: activist Sharon Russ and Paul Congemi, a former builder. Others have said they will run and will formally announce early next year. That group includes: City Council Chairman Jamie Bennett, former council member Bill Foster, Amscot executive Deveron Gibbons and real estate investor/philanthropist Scott Wagman. Meanwhile, the maybe candidates include: council member Leslie Curran, former council member Larry Williams and state Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg.
Are you ready for some taxes?
Last week, in the LeMieux Report, Crist's long-time adviser George LeMieux signaled the big tuition hike announcement, with a declaration that "for years, state leaders have ignored higher education reform." This week, the LeMieux Report states that "everything, including taxes, will be on the table when legislators return for the March regular session." LeMieux says to look for a special session in December or January to shore up the 2008-09 budget. The Buzz hears from a well-placed source that lawmakers are considering the weeks of Jan. 5 or 12 for a budget-related session. That would give staff members sufficient time to analyze the latest revenue forecast to develop a menu of options, and would place the session shortly before President-elect Obama's inauguration. (Note: In 2006, Crist campaigned on a promise to lower taxes, not raise them.)
State plane goes to highest bidder
A $1.35-million bid for a state-owned King Air 300 was accepted Wednesday by the Florida Department of Management Services. George Levin of Fort Lauderdale has seven days to complete the purchase. "With tightening budgets and increasing costs, we're seeing a decline in air travel with the State Bureau of Aircraft Operations," said department Secretary Linda South. "Our air service will continue to provide safe and efficient service to those who serve Florida with our two remaining aircraft."
Consultant recaps the Florida election
Check out Democratic consultant Bernie Campbell's take on the Florida elections today on Political Connections on Bay News 9. The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Times staff writers Steve Bousquet, Cristina Silva and Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.