Crist makes pitch for new Rays' stadium
Gov. Charlie Crist, as savvy a political analyst as they come, said Friday he can't predict whether voters will approve a new waterfront stadium in St. Petersburg, but he's as enthusiastic as ever.
"I think the new (Rays) ownership group is fantastic. What they have done for this team is extraordinary, and I think the notion of having a baseball stadium on the waterfront in a place like St. Petersburg makes perfect sense," Crist said while visiting the St. Petersburg Times editorial board.
But the governor joked that his enthusiastic support for the proposal isn't exactly a home run among his neighbors at St. Petersburg's Bayfront Tower: "My ratings have dropped in the Bayfront Tower more than they have in Florida."
Should Florida hold open primaries?
Nearly 2-million Florida voters were barred from casting ballots in Florida's presidential primary Jan. 29 because they have opted to register with no party affiliation. State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg and State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, have filed bills (HB 1189 and SB 2726) to open Florida's primaries and let unaffiliated voters weigh in on the presidential choices.
There's little enthusiasm so far from legislative leaders, and Crist sounded ambivalent. "It wouldn't offend me," he said of the idea.
Martinez loses ratings game
The latest Quinnipiac poll notes that Crist's approval rating has dipped to 59 percent. Only 25 percent of voters disapprove of his handling his job, and 51 percent say Crist has kept his promises so far. By comparison, 49 percent approve of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's performance and 25 percent disapprove, while Republican Sen. Mel Martinez is in the cellar. Thirty-six percent approve of Martinez's performance and 37 percent disapprove.
Train wrecks and bloody conventions
Nelson has been fond of referring to Florida's Democratic delegate mess as a looming "train wreck." Very, very fond. He's said it on the Senate floor, to Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Gwen Ifill on PBS, Bob Schieffer on CBS and countless newspaper reporters. We're semipleased to say first in the St. Petersburg Times on Feb. 7: "It hasn't sunk into their thick heads, the chairman and the DNC, the train wreck that's about to come if we don't get those delegations seated," said Florida's senior Democrat.
But now, it seems Nelson is giving the railway analogy a rest and switching to another gruesome image. Should Florida and Michigan have no delegates come the convention in August, Nelson said in South Florida last week, there will be "blood on the floor."
No regrets for DNC rules maven
Back in August, when the Democratic National Committee's rule committee decided to strip Florida of all its delegates as punishment for violating party restrictions by setting the date for its primary for January, most people expected the issue would eventually get resolved in early February when someone locked up the Democratic nomination. It hasn't worked out so well. Buzz asked rules committee co-chairman Jim Roosevelt last week if he had any regrets about that penalty, which now has the party tied up in knots. "No second thoughts, no second-guessing. Obviously I think everybody in politics had a different set of assumptions at that time. But it's also true that if the rules aren't followed … we'll have primaries and caucuses on Halloween next (cycle)," said Roosevelt, a veteran rules chief and grandson of FDR's.
Pinellas shifting toward Democratic
The birthplace of the Florida GOP, Pinellas County, is on the verge of turning Democratic blue. The latest voter registration statistics show there are only 805 more Republicans in Pinellas than Democrats. Back when Al Gore and George W. Bush essentially tied in Florida in 2000, Pinellas had nearly 30,000 more Republicans than Democrats.
Mayor Scott Wagman?
An interesting new name to add to the list of likely St. Petersburg mayoral candidates in 2009: businessman and philanthropist Scott Wagman.
On Political Connections on Bay News 9 today, former Florida Realtors Association president Nancy Riley talks about the efforts of the gubernatorial task force grappling with foreclosures in Florida. The show airs at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
State GOP chairman Jim Greer welcomed Michelle Obama, fundraising in Florida last week: "Florida Democrats should have some serious questions for (Barack Obama) when he gets here — like how he can stomach using Florida as an ATM, while failing to take a stand for the inclusion of the votes of 1.7-million Floridians in the selection of the Democrat nominee for president."
Adam C.Smith contributed to this week's Buzz.