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Will Democrats abandon Meek to beat Rubio?

A month ago, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek predicted that if he beat billionaire Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination, he'd ride a wave of momentum and national attention toward victory in November.

It hasn't happened. In poll after poll, the Miami Democrat appears stuck in the low 20s, and in some cases with less than 20 percent support. He and Republican Marco Rubio have succeeded in dragging down independent candidate Charlie Crist's support, but the only result has been to give Rubio a comfortable double-digit lead.

The election is a month away. Financially, Meek is running on fumes and has yet to alleviate widespread doubts about his viability. Very soon, Democrats will have to ask themselves how badly they want to beat Rubio and who has a shot at doing that — former Republican Crist or lifelong Democrat Meek.

Lesson learned

The book is Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases, and it's included in a number of college syllabuses across the country, including a class at Florida Atlantic University. Gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott is featured in "Case No. 13: The Healthcare Company: Learning From Past Mistakes."

Scott was chief executive of Columbia/HCA, which the textbook describes as a company where "health-care services and staffing … often took a back seat to the focus on profits." The case study describes Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Charlotte as the focal point of a federal investigation that resulted in $1.7 billion in Medicare fraud fines.

The textbook points out that federal investigators alleged that Scott and another executive "were briefed routinely on issues relating to Medicare reimbursement claims that the government charged were fraudulent." Scott resigned from the company and was never charged with any crimes.

In its post-Scott existence, Columbia/HCA had "a new emphasis on compliance, integrity and social responsibility," according to the textbook. New training seminars focused on ethical compliance and quality issues. The company developed a code of conduct and created an internal mechanism to report wrongdoing.

The chapter ends with a list of questions for students to ponder, starting off with this: What were the organizational ethical leadership problems that resulted in Columbia/HCA's misconduct?

Sorry, Charlie, but Semblers are split

Former Republican National Committee finance chairman Mel Sembler of St. Petersburg helped host a $250-per-person fundraiser at Tampa's Palma Ceia Country Club on Friday for Rubio. The main attraction? Mitt Romney. Ouch. Sembler had long been a benefactor for Crist's political career, and his son Brent is Crist's finance chairman.

CFO candidates to be on TV today

Check out the candidates for chief financial officer, Republican Jeff Atwater and Democrat Loranne Ausley, today on Political Connections on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Race to head state GOP has local flavor

The next race for state GOP chairman could have a heavy Tampa Bay presence. Hillsborough County GOP chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush already has said she's in on the January race to replace John Thrasher. There's also Buzz about Pinellas state committeeman Tony DiMatteo and Sarasota GOP chairman Joe Gruters, an early Rick Scott supporter.

Palin to headline Orlando 'victory rally'

Sarah Palin will headline a Republican "victory rally" Oct. 23 in Orlando, but bring your checkbook. General admission tickets cost $20.10, or $25 at the gate. Prices increase sharply from there, up to $950 for a photo and her book.

Times staff writers Michael Bender and Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at


of the week

Marco Rubio. The Miami Republican is sitting pretty a month out from election day, largely getting a pass from Democrats who have been more intent on knocking down independent candidate Charlie Crist than the Republican front-runner. The average of recent polls, compiled by, shows Rubio with nearly 43 percent support, compared to 29 percent for Crist and 22 percent for Kendrick Meek.


of the week

Alan Grayson. Demonstrating that integrity falls considerably lower than ego among his character traits, the Democratic U.S. representative from Orlando released probably the sleaziest campaign ad in Florida this year. He selectively edited a videotaped speech of Republican rival Daniel Webster to falsely suggest Webster was insisting that wives must submit to their husbands.

Will Democrats abandon Meek to beat Rubio? 10/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 2, 2010 7:22pm]
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