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Negative attacks on Florida CFO Alex Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist run before next campaigns form

They aren't even candidates (yet), and already we can see the arguments revving up to defeat Republican Charlie Crist for the Senate and Democrat Alex Sink for governor.

On Friday, an anonymous Web site surfaced ( hammering Chief Financial Officer Sink for her ties to Bank of America, where she was head of Florida operations until her retirement in 2000. A sample:

"FACT: In 2006, Alex Sink ran for CFO on her experience in the banking industry, primarily as President of Bank of America — a bank that the federal government has had to bail out so many times that the American taxpayer is now a primary shareholder. …

"FACT: This week, Sink's mentor, CEO Ken Lewis, has been the subject of citizen protests in more than 20 states, sponsored by groups such as"

The address listed on the anti-Sink site is a UPS store in Gainesville.

And the anti-Crist case

Sink is expected to run for governor, rather than re-election as chief financial officer, if Crist jumps into the open race to succeed Mel Martinez in the Senate.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, apparently none too thrilled about the candidacy of our popular governor, last week aired a TV spot in Tallahassee giving Crist a taste of what's coming.

"Florida faces tough times. And a budget mess could mean cuts in police, schools and health care. But instead of working to fix it, Charlie Crist wants to quit, to go to Washington," says the ad's narrator.

"Crist enjoys being governor when he attends basketball games and Super Bowl activities. And when he takes over 60 days off with no schedule. But now the job's getting tough and Crist wants out — leaving Floridians with the mess."

Good time to bail

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, among the legions of politicos expecting Crist to jump ship for Washington, doesn't exactly disagree with the Democratic committee on this.

"If I were the governor, I'd probably jump to Washington too, because I think that Florida certainly has some financial problems that the next governor … and Legislature are going to have to deal with," Brown-Waite, citing Florida's underfunded catastrophe fund and Citizens Insurance, said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

Brown-Waite also called on state legislators to seriously review sales tax exemptions and gave a big shoutout to former state Senate colleague Jack Latvala, running to succeed Charlie Justice in the state Senate. The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Marco's moment?

We've been hearing for months that the announcement is imminent, but the latest Buzz is that Republican former House Speaker Marco Rubio will announce for the U.S. Senate this week. The big question is whether Jeb Bush publicly endorses Rubio or whether he stays on the sidelines, letting everyone assume he prefers Rubio over Crist.

Thank you, lobbyists

The state Republican Party has some new regional finance chairmen to help fill the coffers, relying heavily on prominent lobbyists: Dr. A.K. Desai of St. Petersburg, an insurance executive and member of the state Board of Education is regional co-chairman for Tampa Bay; developer Brent Sembler of St. Petersburg is another co-chairman for Tampa Bay; lobbyist Marty Fiorentino is co-chairman for northeast Florida; insurance lobbyist Fred Karlinsky is co-chairman for Fort Lauderdale; lobbyist David Rancourt is co-chairman for Tallahassee and North Florida.

Finance chairman John Rood of Jacksonville and co-chairman Steve Burton of Tampa already had been named.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Charlie Justice. For three years, the Democratic state senator from St. Petersburg has been trying to pass a bill preventing local governments from spending taxpayer dollars to launch political campaigns under the guise of citizen "education" on issues such as sales tax initiatives or charter amendments. His bill passed last week and is awaiting the governor's signature. "In this rough economic time," Justice said, "public funds should be spent on services, education and infrastructure, not political campaigns. I look forward to Gov. Crist's favorable support."

Loser of the week

Jeb Bush. The former governor is still widely viewed as an idea-driven savior for an adrift national Republican Party, so it was no surprise he's joining the likes of Mitt Romney and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in leading a new group, the National Council for a New America. The group is supposed to generate new ideas for the GOP. But back in Florida, his political juice looked limited as a top Bush priority — raising high school graduation standards by phasing in Algebra II, biology and chemistry — failed to get through the Legislature.

Negative attacks on Florida CFO Alex Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist run before next campaigns form 05/02/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 2, 2009 7:04pm]
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