More than four in 10 Florida homeowners are underwater on their mortgages. President Barack Obama has not done much to help them, and it doesn't sound like Mitt Romney has any serious plan in store either. His main idea? Repeal Wall Street reform.
"Bankers have been very slow in renegotiating the mortgages, helping people go through the process, short sales and so forth that allow these products, these homes, to be taken out of the market so they can be bought by new investors," Romney said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.
"Government has made it harder for the banks to do it. The Dodd-Frank (Wall Street) legislation has scared particularly community banks in such a way that they're just paralyzed. They're not taking action to help people get their mortgages renegotiated and let people either stay in their home or have the home ultimately go back in the hands of new investors that will turn it around and ultimately bring home values back up."
Check out the full interview at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9.
Mack's water bills
Critics keep raising questions about how much time U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, the front-runner for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, spends in his district. His ex-wife suggested in divorce filings that his condo there was just for show, and chief rival George LeMieux points to Mack's current wife, Mary Bono Mack, who resides in California.
PolitiFact Florida checked a Web ad from LeMieux making the claim that "sources show (Connie) Mack as a resident of California, living with his wife in Palm Springs." It rated the claim Mostly False, concluding there was not much evidence to the claim.
Intrepid reporters from the Orlando Sentinel also delved into the issue and pulled Mack's water bills. Those findings were inconclusive. The Sentinel reported:
The records show that Mack was billed for the minimum usage of 1,000 gallons required to trigger a bill in 19 of the 28 months since the start of 2010. In six of those months, 2,000 gallons were used. In three — August 2010, and March and June 2011 — he was not billed for any usage.
That suggests occupancy of a few days most months, typical of a congressman who flies back on weekends. His neighbors in the Tamarind Cay subdivision frequently use 3,000-8,000 gallons a month. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average family of four uses 280 gallons of indoor water a day.
Troubles for Mack?
Regardless of how much time he spends at home, Mack has some political problems there.
Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert shared with us part of a poll of likely Lee County voters conducted last week by pollster Tom Eldon for an unnamed Ulvert client. The results of the 300-sample poll look ominous for Mack.
For one thing, his favorability ratings are upside down, with 41 percent having a favorable view of Mack and 44 percent an unfavorable view. And incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson? Forty-two percent had a favorable view of the Democrat and 31 percent an unfavorable view. Mack is beating Nelson by just 4 percentage points in his home county, a Republican stronghold.
We should take any Democratic poll showing trouble for a Republican with a grain of salt. But Eldon is a respected pollster, and his Lee County findings don't look good for Obama either.
Romney is beating Obama in Lee County by 12 percentage points. Four years ago, Obama lost Lee County by 10 points.
Quote of the week
"I once loved and trusted Charlie Crist, I now know he would whore himself out to anyone that will put him in power again. I am sick of the games and lies, I have a family to protect and a precious baby girl on the way, the truth must come out to clear Jim's name. So go ahead Charlie, use what little juice you have left, why don't you make one of your cheesy, demeaning commercials to spread your lies. Jim Greer can't wait to face you and the rest of the party in court, the truth will come out and Jim will be found not guilty on ALL counts."
That's Lisa Greer, wife of former state GOP chairman and former close Crist friend Jim Greer (now facing charges of stealing money from the party), responding to a Tampa Bay Times report that Crist contacted state law enforcement over messages from Greer he perceived as extortion.
Sen. Dave Weldon?
A U.S. Senate race should be a marquee contest, but somehow Florida's Senate race seems to be exciting no one. Nelson is neither exciting nor antagonizing, and none of the Republicans are showing much so far.
So what to make of former Space Coast U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon jumping in? Not much. Few Floridians know much about the doctor best known for his social conservatism, and at this late date it would take someone equipped to spend millions of his own money to make a real splash.
Henriquez to run?
We're hearing Buzz that former Democratic state Rep. Bob Henriquez is being courted by big-name Democrats to run for House District 63 in the Temple Terrace area of Hillsborough County against Republican Shawn Harrison. Democrat Mark Alan Danish has already filed to run.
Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz. Follow Adam Smith on Twitter @AdamSmithTimes.