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Secret Service visit, GOP push don't deter Black

Say you're a rookie political candidate eager to raise your profile. Here's one sure way to do that you DO NOT want to try: publicly call for the president of the United States to be hanged.

That's what Republican state House candidate Joshua Black did on Twitter Monday. It generated a widely read article in the Tampa Bay Times, a call from Anderson Cooper's guest booker, an interview for Political Connections on Bay News 9 and, naturally, a visit from the Secret Service.

Black, a taxi driver, said that Secret Service representatives were waiting for him at his house while he taped the Political Connections interview.

"It was not a threat," said Black, insisting that his tweet — "I'm past impeachment. It's time to arrest and hang him high" — was merely expressing outrage over the president killing U.S. citizens with drone attacks and without due process.

Black said he resigned from the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee at the request of county chairman Michael Guju. But he dismissed a tweet from Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday that Black "immediately withdraw his candidacy to represent families of Pinellas County."

"I do not take orders from the governor, I'm staying in the race," said Black, a candidate for Florida House District 68.

Jolly's poll says he's ahead

An internal poll from Republican David Jolly's campaign shows Jolly leading Democrat Alex Sink by 5 percentage points, 43 percent to 38 percent.

The Jolly campaign released the memo to supporters in an attempt to raise money, warning that Sink and Democrats would pour "millions upon millions" into the contest for Florida's 13th Congressional District.

Hoyer to raise funds for Sink

U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Alex Sink Jan. 29 at the St. Petersburg home of Bloomin' Brands CEO Liz Smith and her husband, Chip Newton. Others on the host committee include Home Shopping Network CEO Mindy Grossman, Bill and Jeanne Heller, Lindsey Jarrell, Craig Sher, Lorna Taylor, Scott Wagman and Beth Houghton.

Scott lines up press team

Changes are under way in Gov. Rick Scott's communications shop.

With communications director Melissa Sellers leaving to manage Scott's re-election campaign, Frank Collins III has been named Scott's official spokesman.

Collins, like Sellers, was part of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's press operation before coming to Florida.

Also joining Scott's revamped election-year press shop as deputy communications director is Monica Russell. Russell, a University of Florida graduate, had been director of communications at the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Springs protection bubbling up

Gov. Rick Scott called on the Legislature Tuesday to spend $55 million in next year's budget for the restoration and protection of springs in Florida. He made the announcement in Tallahassee at an event honoring the work of 125 employees in the Department of Environmental Protection.

"We need to continue to protect our springs. They're part of our state parks. They're part of our heritage," Scott told reporters afterward.

That $55 million may sound like a lot of money, but the Senate is talking about appropriating nearly $380 for springs protection — seven times as much as Scott's proposal.

Times staff writers Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz.

Secret Service visit, GOP push don't deter Black 01/21/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 2:42pm]
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