A lot of Florida politicos are closely watching the special election to succeed maverick Republican Mike Fasano in his west Pasco state House seat for any insight into the political climate heading into 2014.
Both Barack Obama and Rick Scott have won House District 36, so either party could plausibly win Oct. 15, though Republicans should have far more money to spend. Money is immensely important, but so is one particular endorsement — Fasano's.
The recently appointed tax collector has said he expects to stay neutral in the race and might not even endorse the ultimate Republican nominee. But after weeks of watching the three Republicans and one Democrat, Fasano now says he may endorse in the general election after all and we wouldn't be surprised a bit to see him endorse the Democrat, investment adviser Amanda Murphy.
"All of a sudden the state GOP wants to be my best friend. The same GOP that stood by while the local few in the GOP voted me off the Pasco GOP Executive Committee last year. The same GOP that funded my primary opponent," Fasano told Buzz.
"The candidate who advocates in helping the uninsured of Pasco and Florida, the candidate who won't follow the script and the Tallahassee leadership on every vote, the candidate who will sincerely want to help and protect the little guy and gal will get my full support."
Only one of the three Republican candidates, James Mathieu, supports accepting federal money to insure more than a million additional Floridians. But Mathieu, who tried to unseat Fasano two years ago and helped lead an effort to expel him from the local GOP, seems unlikely to warm Fasano's heart.
DeMint on Rubio
Former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, was one of the first influential conservatives in the country to back Marco Rubio's campaign for U.S. Senate.
This year, though, he has staunchly opposed Rubio's immigration reform efforts, and in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, he said those efforts have damaged Rubio's presidential prospects.
"I think it's hurt some. We hear that around the country," DeMint said, referring to Florida's junior senator as "one of my best friends."
"But he's getting his footing back in helping us on Obamacare," DeMint said, referring to Rubio's calls to defund health care reform even if it means a budget impasse and government shutdown.
Florida's other top-tier presidential contender, Jeb Bush, also has at least one key disagreement with DeMint: Bush is a strong defender of Common Core educational standards, while DeMint opposes anything that smacks of national standards for student achievement.
"We are very much opposed to another federal role in setting standards for education," he said. "We've seen what that's done through No Child Left Behind."
Also appearing on Sunday's Political Connections is Brad Woodhouse, head of the pro-Obamacare group Americans United for Change.
Foster's good deed
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster took a break from politics last weekend to serve as good Samaritan. Foster, his wife, daughter and future son-in-law were crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge at about 9:15 p.m. Saturday just after a Honda Pilot crashed head-on into the cement barrier on the roadside, after striking another car. The mayor saw a young woman crouched down by the retaining wall and promptly pulled over to check on injuries and offer help.
The young woman, 16-year-old Olivia Snow Smith of St. Petersburg, was distraught but not seriously injured. Nor was anyone else injured.
Still, Foster remained on the scene comforting Smith and contacting her parents. I know this because I'm her father. He stayed on the scene at least 40 minutes, comforting her before I arrived.
"I stopped because I saw someone in need. That's what we do," said Foster, who initially worried someone might have been thrown over the wall.
"It was Divine providence — being in the right place at the right time."
Emily's List poll
The Democratic-leaning Emily's List is touting a poll it commissioned that shows Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, neck-and-neck with U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, in their race for the Panhandle congressional district. The poll showed Southerland with 44 percent support and Graham with 42 percent, which is within the survey's margin of error.