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Former Miami mayor among Democrats eyeing Gov. Scott's job

Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz looks ready to run for governor and has spent the past three weeks lining up support from strategists, financiers and elected officials.

Diaz, who served as mayor from 2001 to '09 and recently changed his registration from independent to Democrat, said Friday he wasn't ready to speak about the matter, in part because he was attending a charity golf tournament. He met Friday morning with top Democratic strategist Jeff Garcia, who said he would like the former mayor to run.

"His potential candidacy presents a unique opportunity for Democrats and Floridians to take the state in a completely new and positive direction," said Garcia, U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia's chief of staff. "I'm excited he's considering running. It adds something new and fresh to the field."

Former Democratic state Senate leader Nan Rich, of Weston, has announced her intention to run. Former state CFO and the last Democratic candidate for governor, Alex Sink, is mulling a run as is former Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who helped President Barack Obama's campaign in Florida this year, as well as Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales.

As a past leader of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Diaz has some close allies in top spots. He wants to hire some of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's campaign team.

Media tycoon and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote the forward to Diaz's book, Miami Transformed, which Diaz is promoting.

Crist would have loads of explaining to do about his long record as a Republican, but Diaz has baggage, too.

His successor, Republican Tomas Regalado, faulted Diaz for leaving the city's budget in bad condition.

Regalado noted that as mayor, Diaz spent more money than Miami took in, draining the reserves from $120 million at the beginning of his tenure to just $20 million by the end.

Rubio on 'Roe'

Sen. Marco Rubio on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade last week: "Today marks the tragic anniversary of one of America's most blatant instances of judicial activism that paved the way for the destruction of innocent unborn life. Since this decision, tens of millions of our nation's unborn babies have been denied the chance to celebrate a birthday, begin kindergarten or go on to contribute their God-given talents to our world.

"As a U.S. senator, I am privileged to serve in a position that allows me to fight for the lives of the unborn. I will continue to fulfill my duty to fight to reduce the number of abortions."

Elections chief on TV

Check out newly elected Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Electoral game

Republicans in five states, notably Virginia, have discussed changing the way they award Electoral College votes in presidential races by apportioning them on each congressional district, rather than the state's popular vote. The reason: Mitt Romney would have won the presidency despite losing the popular vote in states where the GOP controls the legislatures: Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida.

But Florida, the largest swing state, won't go along with changing the Electoral College if Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has any say (and he has a major say).

"To me, that's like saying in a football game, 'We should have only three quarters, because we were winning after three quarters and they beat us in the fourth,' " Weatherford, a Republican, said. "I don't think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better."

Not only is Weatherford opposed to the idea, fellow Republican and Florida Senate President Don Gaetz is decidedly cool to it. When asked about changing the way Electoral College votes are apportioned, Gaetz thought the entire system should be scrapped. "I think we should abolish the Electoral College, but nobody in Washington has called to ask for my opinion," Gaetz said.

"If James Madison had asked me, and I had been there, I would have said a popular vote is a better way to do it." Gaetz said the electoral college shrinks the presidential campaign to a handful of states as it did in 2012. "The farmer standing in his field in North Dakota should be just as important as the factory worker in Ohio," Gaetz said.

West campaign funds

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West has launched a nonprofit, the Allen West Foundation.

His spokesperson released no details about the Boca Raton foundation. West, who lost in November to Democrat Patrick Murphy, transferred $250,000 in unspent money from his campaign to the foundation. He also transferred the same amount to American Legacy Guardians, which shares the same postal box as the foundation.

West now works for PJ Media.

Times/Herald staff writers Alex Leary, Steve Bousquet and Amy Sherman contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Florida teachers. Gov. Rick Scott, with an eye toward re-election, wants to shower often-snubbed Florida teachers with more money, and he's not even talking about performance pay. Runnerup: Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz averted embarrassment as her anointed candidate for Florida Democratic chairwoman, Allison Tant, won the race Saturday after a tough campaign against Tampa's Alan Clendenin.

Loser of the week

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster. The Rays are meeting with Hillsborough officials to lament lousy attendance at Tropicana Field, Sweetbay is pulling out of Midtown while Foster struggles to keep his story straight about his talks with company executives, and budget cuts are freezing admissions to a $42 million Job Corps center. Rick Kriseman's or Ken Welch's prospects against hizzoner are looking better.

Former Miami mayor among Democrats eyeing Gov. Scott's job 01/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, January 26, 2013 8:44pm]
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