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Veep-O-Meter retires along with Crist's VP hopes

It's time to retire our Crist Veep-O-Meter, since the prospects of John McCain tapping our governor as his running mate look so dim.

He already seemed like a long shot, and then this week McCain faced some lousy national publicity and had to return $50,000 of suspicious campaign donations funneled through Charlie Crist's pal and top fundraiser, Harry Sargeant III of Boca Raton.

Sargeant, an oil trader and former fraternity brother whom Crist tapped to be finance chairman of the state GOP, helped bundle thousands of dollars in donations for McCain from moderate-income Californians — some of whom also gave to Crist in 2006 — with little interest in politics and in one case a distinct dislike of McCain, according to reports in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Sargeant's business interests include Defense Department contracts, and some Democrats are asking whether he skirted laws against foreign nationals funding campaigns because a Jordanian business partner helped him raise money for McCain.

McCain owes a lot to Crist, but tapping him for veep would guarantee a lot more scrutiny of Crist's newly controversial political benefactor.

Lieberman can't be happy he lost, can he?

Since Al Gore opposed the war in Iraq from the start and Joe Lieberman strongly supported it, does Lieberman think the world is better off that Gore-Lieberman lost in 2000? Check out the Connecticut Democrat's thoughts on that today in a Political Connections interview on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Sen. Lieberman, in Tampa Bay for a fundraiser to help McCain, apologized that he didn't have a suit on. The evening before he was riding on McCain's Straight Talk Express in Miami, sitting beside a staffers' birthday cake, when the bus collided with a minivan.

"The cake went all over me. That was the end of my suit," he said. "I always wondered whether sometime a political protester would hit me with a pie in the face. I never thought a friendly birthday cake would attack me from the rear."

Democrats lack quorum for presidential electors

Imagine this scenario: Barack Obama wins Florida in November, and those 27 electoral votes enable him to reach the magic, winning number of 270 electoral votes. But Obama can't actually claim victory because Florida Democrats neglected to properly elect the 27 presidential electors who ultimately vote for a president.

It's unlikely, but not entirely far-fetched. The state Democratic Party's executive committee intended to select those electors at a meeting in Tampa Saturday, but failed to get a quorum. Now party leaders are getting a legal opinion about possibly holding a mail-in election or conference call election in time for the Sept. 1 deadline for those electors to be certified.

"We will get our electors approved before the deadline," said party spokesman Eric Jotkoff.

Sink not on board with 'tax swap,' yet

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink told the Buzz last week that while she hasn't taken a formal position on constitutional Amendment 5, she's leaning against it.

If passed by 60 percent of voters, the "tax swap" amendment would eliminate most property taxes that now fund education, and plug that funding gap by directing the Legislature to consider things like increasing sales taxes, eliminating sales tax exemptions and reducing spending.

"I'd like to hear the governor and legislative leaders tell the voters where the shortfall is coming from, and unless I hear that I'm not sure we ought to take a gamble," said Sink, a Democrat. "Education funding is very important. … Part of our economy has to be based on attracting and keeping good-paying jobs. And we can't do that without a well-educated work force."

Winner of the week

Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp: He won a $200,000 settlement from Lee Memorial Hospital over a fungal infection he developed after bypass surgery to clear blocked arteries in 2004, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. He also settled with three construction companies that worked on the hospital, but the terms were confidential.

Loser of

the week

Kevin White: The Hillsborough County commissioner may brush off allegations from a convicted swindler, but it's a seriously lousy week when you have to publicly deny being on the take.

Veep-O-Meter retires along with Crist's VP hopes

08/09/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 1:26pm]

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