Monday, February 19, 2018
Politics

Persistent pro-Alex Sink phone calls rubbed recipients the wrong way

Alex Sink's campaign touted its legions of volunteers and tens of thousands of phone calls to mobilize voters in last week's special election.

Is it possible, though, that the Democrats' phone program was too impressive — that all those calls to voters actually cost her votes from people fed up with the constant nagging? We'll never really know the answer, but we've certainly heard a lot of Democrats speculate about that and recount how excessive and exasperating those pro-Sink calls were.

"There were seven calls on election day, the first even before we were awake and the last a recording from Alex herself at 5:55 p.m. telling me to go out and vote because there was an hour left," Sink supporter Genie Redd emailed. "That get-out-the-vote routine was not robust. … It was an intrusive annoyance."

The highlight, Redd said, came when a fellow named Tim or Jim called one Saturday night as they were heading out the door.

"Jim/Tim went into his spiel so I interrupted him and said, 'No more calls. Please don't call me anymore. I told you all I was voting for Alex so please accept that and don't keep calling.' Jim/Tim said, 'Don't yell at me.' (I wasn't and don't.) He continued, 'Give me the same respect that I give you,' and then he hung up on me — respectfully, of course — before I could say anything else."

Sink still got her vote, however.

Sink campaign manager Ashley Walker dismissed the notion that an overly aggressive Democratic phone operation may have hurt the campaign.

Nick Hansen, a David Jolly adviser, said he heard many complaints about the Sink phone calls and speculated they likely cost the Democrat some votes.

"Phone calls used correctly can be very effective. Phone call abuse can be very ineffective," Hansen said.

Tweet of the week

"Tonight's victory in CD 13 is good on so many levels, my brothers and sisters. For one, electing lobbyists simplifies things considerably." That's Republican lobbyist J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich, reflecting on Jolly's victory Tuesday night.

Crist rents in S. Florida

Charlie Crist has been spending so much time in South Florida — from where most of the big Democratic campaign money comes — that he and wife Carole Crist have rented a place on tony Fisher Island near Miami's South Beach. Mrs. Crist used to own condos there but sold them after marrying the former governor. Crist, who has never owned a home, continues to rent a condo in downtown St. Petersburg's Bayfront Tower.

"I'd never leave the 'Burg. Ever," Crist said Saturday night.

Castor on Bay News 9

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has long been talked up as an appealing statewide candidate, and recently we've heard chatter about her running for U.S. Senate in 2016 when Marco Rubio is up for re-election (and/or running for president).

But in an interview for Political Connections today on Bay News 9, Castor, 47, all but rules it out. "I have a fantastic committee assignment in the U.S. House. The Energy and Commerce Committee deals with Medicare, Medicaid, travel and tourism, all energy policy, the environment — these are the issues that are central to the state of Florida, so I can best serve the state by gaining seniority there," Castor said.

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Now you see it …

Probably the oddest story of the week was an Associated Press report that a $500,000 campaign donation from sugar corporation Florida Crystals to Gov. Rick Scott's re-election committee disappeared from state records. An "accounting error" and a "mistake," explained campaign adviser John French. "There was never a $500,000 check."

The Democratic Party, of course, scoffed. "You'd think a millionaire would be better than most people at managing his own money — or at least be good at the basics, like keeping track of checks worth half a million dollars," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp.

Dinner with a Reagan

Michael Reagan, conservative columnist and son of former President Ronald Reagan, will be the keynote speaker at the Pinellas Republicans' annual Lincoln Day Dinner at 6 p.m. March 26 at the Carillon Hilton. Tickets cost $150. For more information, call (727) 539-6009.

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