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Tiger Bay becoming lion's den for GOP

Hard to say whether the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club is drawing ever more Democratic members or if its membership has just become fed up with Tallahassee politicians. Maybe both.

The club has skewed Democratic in recent years, but it's striking just how overtly hostile members have been lately to Republican state legislators.

State Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, found a tough crowd when he appeared recently, and Republican Pinellas members repeated groans and scoffs last week from the crowd.

County Commissioner Ken Welch asked a good question: Grade the performance of the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott.

Among the Republicans, state Reps. Larry Ahern of St. Petersburg gave both A's, prompting astonished groans from the crowd. Jim Frishe gave the Legislature a B, and passed on the governor. Ed Hooper gave the Legislature a C and Scott an incomplete, since he's only been in office six months. ("Too long!" someone shouted.) Peter Nehr gave the Legislature an A for fiscal discipline. And state Sen. Jack Latvala graded the Legislature "below average," Scott "improving."

Among the Democrats, state Reps. Rick Kriseman and Darryl Rouson both gave the Legislature and governor F's.

No wooing Scott

Remember the presidential courtship of then-Gov. Charlie Crist — the folks working him hard for an endorsement (mainly Rudy Giuliani and John McCain) or, failing that, to stay on the sidelines (Mitt Romney)? So far it looks highly unlikely Florida's currently unpopular governor will get the same kind of wooing. A reporter in Tampa on Thursday asked Romney about Scott's endorsement, and drew a courteous, albeit neutral, response.

"Anybody running for president would like every endorsement that they can get. We have spoken from time to time, I'll continue to keep in touch, and I have no idea what his plans are in that regard," said Romney.

Romney also declined to say if he thinks Scott did the right thing in rejecting $2.4 billion in federal high-speed rail dollars sold as a job creator.

"I read the governor's decision. He was concerned that the rail project would be a long-term sinkhole … financed by taxpayers, subsidized for years thereafter, so I can't opine on his analysis. If that were the case I certainly can understand the logic. Sometimes these transit projects look great until you have to subsidize for decades," said Romney, who as Massachusetts governor sought to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on rail and transit improvements.

A literary suggestion

Scott, the rare statewide politician who doesn't read Florida news, is asking supporters to send a letter to their local newspaper editor praising his work as governor. The letter, of course, would be printed in a paper's editorial section. Scott has yet to sit for an interview with any editorial board in the state.

Scott includes a pre-written letter on his website that refers to himself as "refreshing" and that he deserves "unwavering and enthusiastic support." A link to the letter was included in an e-mail Scott sent to supporters Friday boasting that Florida's unemployment rate declined for the fifth consecutive month.

New child advocate

First lady Ann Scott, mother of two and wife of the state's chief executive, has a new title: chief child advocate. The mantel was quietly bestowed on her Wednesday by the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet. The 20-member board was created in 2007 under Gov. Crist.

Roy Miller, president of the Children's Campaign, an advocacy and watchdog group, told the News Service of Florida that Ann Scott's role will be similar to former Florida first ladies Adele Graham, Rhea Chiles and Mary Jane Martinez, who also took on special children's causes during their husbands' tenure.

Castor to Energy

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, is in line to take a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, now that fellow Democrat Anthony Weiner has resigned in a sexting scandal. By seniority, Castor is next in line for the seat, and she served on Energy and Commerce during the last Congress when the health care debate was in full stride. She was bumped when Republicans took over the House.

Times staff writers Michael C. Bender and Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Mitt Romney. By no means does he have the nomination — or Florida — locked up. But despite some clumsy joking about his employment status in Tampa last week, he seems to be winning over elite Florida GOP donors and fundraisers in big numbers.

Loser of the week

Kevin White, the former Hillsborough County commissioner. The only thing worse for a politician than everybody wondering when you'll be indicted? Getting indicted.

Tiger Bay becoming lion's den for GOP 06/20/11 [Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2011 5:45pm]
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