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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

Democrats blow out GOP in registrations

Stunning numbers in the final voter registration report out this afternooon. Democrats head into the election with 657,775 more voters in Florida than Republicans. They added more than 200,000 to their advantage just since July.

When George W. Bush won Florida by 381,000 votes four years ago, Democrats had a registration advantage of 368,757. Now, of course, the 657,775 dollar question is how well can the Obama machine turn out all those voters.

Because of how the data was compiled, it's impossible to get a solid estimate for absentee ballots in 2004. Republicans estimate they had a 4% lead in absentee ballots , but come election day that evaporated to a virtual tie because of the Democrats' advantage on early votes. Democrats guestimate the GOP lead in absentee ballots was closer to 20%, and early voting made up for it.

So far, according to Republican estimates 267,000 Republicans have voted by mail, 179,000 Democrats, and 68,000 others.

Posted by Adam Smith at 5:57:38 PM on October 19, 2008

Boulware-Vasilinda race going down to wire

We'd love to see some of the internal polls in the captivating HD 9 race between Democrat Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda and Republican Peter Boulware. Because every day it looks like Boulware is making a serious run at the seat, which has been a lock for Democrats.

The latest sign: Democrats have arranged a Monday morning news conference in Tallahassee featuring Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, and term-limited Rep. Loranne Ausley.

Boulware continues to use his commodious cash pile to saturate the district with mailers, including this one highlighting an article in Sports Illustrated. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/the_bonus/08/21/boulware/index.html) Is it just me or are there suddenly a ton of Legacy Toyota ads, featuring V.P. Peter Boulware, on local TV?

Posted by Alex Leary at 3:05:30 PM on October 19, 2008

Times Union doesn't endorse McCain

Sorry there's no link, but Florida's most conservative major daily today today announced it would not endorse in the presidential race. Despite John McCain being a former resident of the area, the divided editorial board declared, "It's your call" and said mostly nice things about McCain and Barack Obama.

"The selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate is one example of a questionable decision, when a far more qualified candidate like Mitt Romney would be more useful during this economic crisis,'' the paper said of McCain, whom most people would have expected to be a lock for the T-U nod.

Posted by Adam Smith at 2:59:00 PM on October 19, 2008

Florida mailer rips Obama on economy

This mailer arrived in Florida over the weekend, courtesy of the Republican National Committee. The claim about higher taxes on income does not mention, of course, that Obama's plan to increase income taxes applies to couples making more than $250,000. The majority of Floridians do not earn nearly that much.

Continue reading "Florida mailer rips Obama on economy" " (http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2008/10/gop-hits-obama.html#more)

Posted by Alex Leary at 2:42:17 PM on October 19, 2008

Meet the winner and loser of the week

Winner of the week

Greg Howard: As we don't have a dirtbag of the week award, our winner of the week is Panhandle teacher Greg Howard, who managed, remarkably, to keep his job after "teaching" his students about Barack Obama. On Sept. 26, Howard, 43, wrote the word CHANGE - the mantra of Obama's presidential campaign - on a dry-erase board at Marianna Middle School, then, according to reports, added his own definition: Come Help A (N-word) Get Elected. The Jackson County School Board this week decided he only deserved a suspension (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/state/article859665.ece) and transfer, rather than termination.

Loser of the week

Tim Mahoney: Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, two years ago narrowly won his seat, succeeding disgraced Republican Mark Foley by touting "faith, family and personal responsibility." Um, maybe not so much. This week he admitted having "multiple" affairs, and paying one mistress/staffer $122,000 to keep her mouth shut. Two words, Tim: Bye-bye.

More of the print Buzz here. (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/article861336.ece)

Posted by Alex Leary at 12:40:47 PM on October 19, 2008

Sentinel endorses Obama

Orlando Sentinel: (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/orl-edp101908oct19,0,1569353.story) "As the primary season began, the candidate who seemed best qualified to be that leader was Republican John McCain. But Mr. McCain then was a different candidate from the one before us now. He has abandoned positions we admired. He has reacted inconsistently, even haphazardly, to events. In making the most important decision of his campaign, he showed shockingly poor judgment.

"In contrast to Mr. McCain, Democrat Barack Obama has exceeded our expectations during this campaign. He has demonstrated sound judgment and grace under pressure. Because we are now more confident in his ability to steer America through the rough waters ahead, the Orlando Sentinel is endorsing Barack Obama for president."

The Palm Beach Post, Sarasota Herald-Tribine, Daytona Beach News Journal and Naples Daily News also endorsed Obama today.

Posted by Adam Smith at 11:26:26 AM on October 19, 2008

Obama flooding the Fla zone

The contrast between how McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden are hailing the start of Florida early voting Monday, is striking. Here's what's announced on the Republican side: Monday will feature "Joe the plumber" events in Jacksonville and Boca. Mel Martinez and Meghan McCain do meet and greets in Orlando and Oviedo, and Meghan McCain does events in Tampa and Lakeland. Gov. Crist and GOP Chairman Greer hold rallies for downballot candidates in Sarasota West Palm Beach and Melbourne.

The partial Obama campaign schedule: On Monday Barack Obama campaigns in Tampa at about 12:40, and in Broward County mid-afternoon. Hillary Clinton will holds a rally in Fort Lauderdale ice cream social in West Palm Beach County Early evening, Clinton and Obama hold a joint rally in Orlando.

On Tuesday, Michelle Obama holds an early vote rally in Pensacola (on Wednesday, she'll campaign in Gainesville and Jacksonville) and then joins her husband for another one in Miami Beach. Obama holds his own rally in West Palm Beach. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson campaigns in Immokalee and Charlotte County (He'll be in Tampa and Kissimmee Wed).

Posted by Adam Smith at 10:52:11 AM on October 19, 2008

Crist's balancing act on McCain

Charlie Crist is walking a tightrope as the presidential election heads into the final 16 days in all-important Florida. The one-time vice presidential contender whose January endorsement helped crown McCain as the Republican nominee obviously wants the Arizona senator to win and is working to deliver Florida's 27 electoral votes. But if the popular governor attaches himself too closely to the McCain-Palin campaign, he risks tarnishing his own brand of bipartisanship.

More here. (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/elections/article861228.ece)

Posted by Adam Smith at 9:10:27 AM on October 19, 2008

With nervous look, Florida prepares to vote

In the eight years since Florida invited national scorn for the presidential recount of 2000, the state has rewritten its election laws and twice changed voting systems.

But as Floridians prepare to jam polling places in record numbers over the next 16 days, it's not at all clear that things will go any more smoothly. Consider:

" About 2.5-million more voters are expected to cast ballots this year than voted in the Bush-Gore race.

" Florida's biggest counties, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, will debut a paper-ballot machine that most voters will have never seen before.

" The new paper ballots take up to twice as long to complete as the touch-screen ballots they replaced, which could mean longer waits for voters.

And one thing will be exactly the same: Just as it was in 2000, Florida is again a critical battleground state in which the results are expected to be extremely close. (Click here [http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/article861016.ece]to continue reading the first in a two-part preview of the 2008 election by Times reporters Thomas C. Tobin and Steve Bousquet.)

Posted by Alex Leary at 4:09:23 AM on October 19, 2008

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