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GOP state Sen. Jeff Atwater takes page from Obama playbook

State Sen. Jeff Atwater is as entrenched an incumbent as there is, a prodigious fundraiser and the Senate president designate. But in his re-election campaign, he is attaching himself to the Barack Obama banner of "change." A new campaign mailer uses that word several times and it also makes no reference to the fact that the North Palm Beach Republican is an incumbent, first elected in 2000. To the voters in Senate District 25, he's regular old Jeff Atwater. Atwater is expected to face Broward County Democratic activist Linda Bird, who replaced Skip Campbell last week. Through March, Atwater has raised $1.6-million. Atwater's consultant, Rick Wilson, cautioned against overanalyzing the message of the flier. Speaking of political ads … U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, drew some laughs from Republicans for running a classified ad in the Stuart News seeking people to go door to door talking to voters for him. The pay: $10 an hour. His GOP challengers said they have plenty of volunteer help.

Democrats tear into gift quote from Crist

The Florida Democratic Party pounced on comments Gov. Charlie Crist, who has been on a trade mission in Europe, made to the Financial Times in London on Thursday. Writes the Times: "Mr. Crist would not be drawn on whether he would accept a White House job. Asked if he had been vetted for the vice presidency, he said: "No. I can't talk about it. Since [the post] has not been offered, I'm prepared to accept being governor of Florida." To which Democrats replied: "Nearly two years into his only term as Florida's governor, Empty Chair Charlie Crist bleakly admitted he is prepared to accept the job he was elected to do."

Obama keeps it cool, according to sis

Check out Barack Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, on Political Connections on Bay News 9. Imagine someone who never, ever loses his temper. That's how she describes her big bro. The show airs today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Candidate on an endorsement comeback

Things have not been looking good for Nancy Detert's bid for state Senate District 23. Last month, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and Crist endorsed Rep. Michael Grant over Detert. "People were confused with the Charlie Crist thing," Detert told the Buzz. "They asked, 'Does that mean he doesn't like you?' "

But Detert may have one-upped Grant as the Republican primary nears. On Monday, at a well-attended rally in Osprey, she scored the backing of Sen. Lisa Carlton, who currently holds the seat, as well as Senate President Ken Pruitt and Rep. Bill Galvano. "Lisa really helps seal the deal," Detert told the Buzz. "It sends a message to the community, that's who she wants to replace her." Noting that she assumed Carlton's House seat years ago, Detert added: "I am considered the natural replacement. I intend to fill Lisa's high heels."

Speaker has something to say to students

Marco Rubio is adding professor to his burgeoning resume. The Miami Republican and outgoing House speaker will begin teaching a course on state politics and elections this fall at Florida International University. Rubio has also just started a stint as visiting scholar at the school's Metropolitan Center, a think tank headed up by friend Dario Moreno. "It's a good opportunity to interact with people, get the perspective of young students," the 37-year-old Rubio said.

Times staff writers Alex Leary, Adam Smith, Steve Bousquet and Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

Winner of the week

Alex Sink, Florida's chief financial officer. Amid growing talk of her being a strong Democratic challenger to Gov. Charlie Crist, she got national exposure on Dateline NBC. She appeared as part of a story called "You Might Be Rich!" on efforts to return millions of dollars worth of unclaimed property to its rightful owners, including a stray Purple Heart that belongs to a Vietnam veteran living in Ocala. The segment ran Monday night. By Tuesday, Sink's state Bureau of Unclaimed Property Web site, with a searchable database of unclaimed items, was getting so much traffic (45,781 unique visitors in a day) that it crashed for an hour.

Loser of the week

Holly Benson, secretary for the state Agency for Health Care Administration. Benson, a former Republican state House member, went on a public radio show in Tallahassee this month and was asked whether the economic downturn would create a downward spiral on people's health. Benson said she disagreed. "Just because you're poor doesn't mean you're unhealthy; it just means you have a lot more time to go running," she said. Say what? A man phoned in and called the comment "low class." Benson expressed immediate regret. "I meant there's no reason that anybody couldn't be healthy at any time."

GOP state Sen. Jeff Atwater takes page from Obama playbook 07/19/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2008 5:46pm]
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