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The Buzz: Florida politics

McCain needs Crist's help in Florida, poll suggests



Gov. Charlie Crist loses a little ground this week on the Veep-O-Meter. Obama came a big step closer to locking up the Democratic nomination, and most indications pointed to Clinton being the stronger candidate to put Florida's 27 electoral votes in the Democratic column, so Crist's help for John McCain may not be quite as crucial.

Democrats' delegate mess gets messier

As if Florida Democrats didn't have enough confusion and ill-will over their unsanctioned presidential primary. Now they face the prospect of having to tell a bunch of loyal party activists who campaigned and won local elections as Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama delegates to the national convention that they won nothing after all.

That's because the Florida Democratic Party, after being told by the Democratic National Committee it had no delegates as punishment for holding an earlier than allowed primary, went ahead and started electing nearly 200 pledged delegates. Nearly 40 more are scheduled to be elected in Tampa Saturday, despite the prospect that the national party may rule most or all of them ineligible.

The main complaints about this are coming from Obama allies in Florida, who never organized a slate of delegates and fear some of the delegates pledged to Obama could be closet Clinton supporters. They haven't convinced the state party to back off, however.

"In 2007, the Party's Executive Committee committed to respecting the will of the voters in the state-run primary and electing the state's 40 at-large delegates on May 17,'' state Democratic party spokesman Mark Bubriski said of the latest round of elections causing internal grumbling. "We have not been asked by the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee or either presidential campaign to postpone our delegate election dates so we are continuing the process."

Obama's Israel credentials earn approval

Florida Democratic House leader and new Obama backer Dan Gelber, D-Miami, on his blog addressed one of the concerns some Florida Democrats have with the Illinois senator. Does he have a problem winning over Jewish voters?

"Yes, but only because the Internet doesn't have a truth key," Gelber wrote. "Don't believe everything you read in a viral chain e-mail. As an American Jew, a strong and secure Israel is a paramount concern of mine. Not a single fiber in my body worries that Sen. Obama will not cherish Israel with the same fervor I would expect of any American President. Anyone who says otherwise is simply trying to exploit passions for Israel for partisan gain — and that is truly endangering to Israel."

Party switch? No, thanks

The GOP wants to make a Republican out of state Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole. The Pinellas County lawmaker told the Buzz she had several conversations with "a good friend" in the party who asked her to give the idea some thought. "They said, 'You know in the majority you could be a chairperson, you could have a stronger

voice.' "

Long, who would not identify her friend, said she has never tried to define herself by party, but "I decided not to do it." She added: "It seems a bit disingenuous to change my stripes in midstream. Do I realize maybe I might get a chair or it would be easier to pass bills? Maybe I do. But I don't think I would have as clear a voice in the majority as I do in the minority. I wouldn't take kindly to being told what to do."

Long is a swing district House member who is not shy about voting differently than her party leadership.

Nehr to speak of property tax on TV

Check out state Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, on Political Connections today on Bay News 9. He's another swing district representative in Tampa Bay who rarely departs from the GOP leadership line. In a taped interview he talked about his voting record, the political climate for Republicans, and the bill he sponsored to help ensure fairer (read "lower") property assessments.

The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Crist hooked on fishing trip despite spider

The fourth annual Charlie Crist Fishing Trip will be held in the Keys at the end of the month, with event chairman Rodney Barreto (a Fish and Wildlife Commission member) prominently featured in the invitation fliers. It was at this GOP fund-raising event last year, you political junkies may recall, that Crist got a life-threatening bite from a brown recluse spider that aggravated him on his first trip to Israel.

Delegates may get day at convention

Gary Shay, a DNC rules and bylaws committee member from California, told Democrats in his state he is confident Florida's delegate mess will be resolved when the committee meets May 31, though Michigan remains murkier:

"What I anticipate will happen is that — and I have not received any communications from anybody, this is just my own thoughts on the matter — that the superdelegates will likely be seated from both states,'' he was quoted saying on a Democratic Web site. "That Florida will be seated with a half delegate for each pledged delegate based upon the January results. The concept there being that there must be some punishment for violating the rules, and at the same time, excluding those two states is very difficult. And as far as Michigan is concerned, that's anybody's guess."

Adam C. Smith, Steve Bousquet and Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

McCain needs Crist's help in Florida, poll suggests 05/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2008 11:53am]
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