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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

Sally Bradshaw gets Obama calls, not McCain

One nugget from a spot on NYT story (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/25/us/politics/25florida.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin) about McCain-Palin underestimating Barack Obama's potential in Fla:

But even several state Republicans said they saw evidence that Mr. Obama was bringing new and highly effective methods to the state to find voters and turn them out.

"I've gotten seven calls from live Obama volunteers - and the reason I'm getting calls is because I signed up on their Web site to get notifications from their campaign," said Sally Bradshaw, a Republican who was a senior political adviser to Jeb Bush, the former governor. Ms. Bradshaw, who supported Mitt Romney in the primary, had signed up for the list to keep informed about a rival. "I haven't received any McCain calls," she said.

Posted by Adam Smith at 11:22:20 PM on October 24, 2008

Crist dining with Petraeus

Gov. Charlie Crist's schedule has him down for dinner tomorrow night in Tampa with Gen. David Petraeus.

Posted by Adam Smith at 7:52:44 PM on October 24, 2008

Times recommends Obama

Not exactly a shocker, but here's (http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article870039.ece) the recommendation from the editorial board of Florida's largest newspaper: "These are uncertain times. Americans' confidence in our leaders and institutions has been shaken by a failing economy, lengthy wars and an erosion of civil liberties. We feel uneasy about our personal financial security, the country's place in the world and what the future holds.

"Frankly, after eight disastrous years under President Bush, either John McCain or Barack Obama would be a significant improvement and offer more reassuring leadership. But one candidate offers a clearer break with the past, the qualities to unite this country and the vision to lead it in a new direction. With enthusiasm, the Times recommends Barack Obama for president."

Posted by Adam Smith at 5:55:51 PM on October 24, 2008

Biden to have early-voting rally in New Port Richey

Joe Biden will hit Sims Park on Monday evening to start an "Early Vote for Change" bus tour. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Not tickets are required, and the campaign warns that parking will be limited. The venue, which President Bush hit in 2004, has a 10,000-person capacity.

Biden then will open Tuesday in Ocala with a rally before ending up in Melbourne and West Palm Beach.

For Pasco Democrats, it's their first major presidential campaign visit in a long time(http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/local/article868476.ece) -- as in Jimmy Carter's campaign in 1976.

Posted by David DeCamp at 5:34:00 PM on October 24, 2008

Franklin Sands: party animal

Democrats paint themselves as the loose, party-ready end of the political spectrum. What, then, explains their answer to the upcoming House Republican retreat at WaterColor(http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2008/10/httpwwwsptimesc.html)?

On Nov. 19, the Democratic Caucus will head to the Florida Education Association building, third-floor conference room, on Adams Street in Tallahassee.

Highlights: a 10 a.m. lecture by Les Miller on "how to work effectively as the minority party," a 2 p.m. lesson by Ron Meyer on "how not to get in trouble as a legislator" and a 3 p.m. budget overview by Amy Baker and Jim Tait. Cocktail hour begins at 5 p.m. at the Governor's Club across the street.

Posted by Alex Leary at 5:12:25 PM on October 24, 2008

Cindy McCain, Giuliani headed to Orlando

Cindy McCain and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani will visit volunteers at the Orlando "Victory Office" on Saturday.

Posted by Alex Leary at 4:52:06 PM on October 24, 2008

'Clueless' star hits Florida for Democrats

Actress Alicia Silverstone is hitting Florida over the weekend to encourage early voting.

The actress best known for starring in the 1995 film Clueless will hit Tallahassee's Paradigm restaurant (4:15 p.m.) and Gainesville on Saturday and Orlando on Sunday. On Monday, she's participating in a Democratic march at the Joe Chillura Courthouse Square in Tampa.

Posted by Jennifer Liberto at 4:29:23 PM on October 24, 2008

Gelber's words of warning

The speech could have been given today. But three years ago, Rep. Dan Gelber was spewing Democratic outrage over a provision of a elections bill (HB 1567: http://flhouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=17234&SessionId=38) that limited early voting hours to no more than eight hours a day and no more than eight total on the weekend.

The Buzz has the video here(http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/files/hb_1567h.264%20300Kbps.mov). "This is like French day here in the Florida Legislature," Gelber says. "Louis the XIV would be so happy as to what we are doing here."

Despite the speech, Rep. Ron Reagan's bill passed the House 82-36 and the Senate 29-9.

Posted by Alex Leary at 4:06:36 PM on October 24, 2008

Giving first-time voters a hand

It's the sound Barack Obama wants to hear: clapping filling the Leon County courthouse every minute or so this afternoon. "We have a first-time voter," election volunteers shouted, drawing applause from rain-soaked people in the room.

The young faces belonged to students at Florida A&M and Florida State University, and if the buttons and stickers on their backpacks are any guide, they voted for Obama.

Time will tell, however, whether Obama's heavy reliance on the youth vote will help him on Nov. 4.

Posted by Alex Leary at 2:53:42 PM on October 24, 2008

Mahoney skips debate

Does U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney have a cold? Because we're not sure why he skipped a debate today in West Palm Beach.

The AP reports that Mahoney, embroiled in an adultery scandal, backed out because organizers would not ban television cameras. Republican challenger Tom Rooney simply took questions during the luncheon, which was held by the nonpartisan Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.

Posted by Alex Leary at 2:24:35 PM on October 24, 2008

Democrats overtake GOP on ballots cast

After four days of early voting, Florida Democrats had cast 653,573 absentee (316,853) and early (336,720) votes. Republicans had cast 652,648 absentee (457,395) and early (195,253) votes. Independents have cast 224,136 votes.

One thought: Anybody else remember those giant early voting lines in Democratic strongholds in '04? Bush-Cheney still won Florida comfortably.

Posted by Adam Smith at 1:04:11 PM on October 24, 2008

Feeney feels tarnished GOP brand

NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Tom Feeney's path to Congress was easy. As Florida House speaker in 2002, he used his power to carve a safe seat for himself.

But after three terms in Washington and a fateful overseas golf junket, a once-rising Republican star could be finished. Stigmatized by his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Feeney is a symbol of the tarnished Republican brand in this volatile election year. (story here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/state/article869392.ece)

Posted by Alex Leary at 12:31:25 PM on October 24, 2008

Politico Florida poll: Obama 48, McCain 47

Politico/InsiderAdvantage poll(http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14895.html) shows a neck-and-neck race in Florida. In the normally solidly Republican county of Hillsborough: "McCain trails Obama in Hillsborough by just two points, 46 percent to 44 percent. That represents a four-point improvement for McCain since Politico's last Hillsborough survey, conducted Oct. 12, which showed Obama leading 47 percent to 41 percent."

Posted by Adam Smith at 11:37:04 AM on October 24, 2008

Dems: Detert soft on drunk drivers

The Florida Democratic Party has launched a Web site called Dangerous Detert(http://www.dangerousdetert.com/), that highlights Nancy Detert's sponsorship, when the Republican was in the Florida House in 2002, of a bill that would have allowed drunk drivers who lost their driver's licenses to get their licenses back in certain circumstances.

The bill(http://www.flsenate.gov/session/index.cfm?BI_Mode=ViewBillInfo&Mode=Bills&SubMenu=1&Year=2002&billnum=211) went nowhere, had no Senate companion and didn't even get a legislative analysis. But now it's the subject of an anti-Detert TV ad being aired in the Sarasota area, featuring a young woman who lost her leg and her husband when a drunken driver hit her.

Posted by Jennifer Liberto at 11:00:25 AM on October 24, 2008

Coping with 'a rush of voters'

Election supervisors told the state Friday they're coping with the flood of early voters well, but that they never expected this many people to turn out. As of Thursday night, 608,796 people had cast early ballots or more than 5-percent of the statewide electorate of 11-million. Early voting ends Sunday, Nov. 2.

"What we're all experiencing is just a rush of voters that we could not have anticipated. No one could have anticipated that this election would be so historic and draw as much attention as it has," said Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes, who posts wait times on her web site.

Snipes and Sarasota's Kathy Dent voiced opposition to expanding early voting hours next week because it would cause logistical problems. Secretary of State Kurt Browning told them in a conference call that he has no plans to expand it, despite a plea from all nine Democratic members of Congress in Florida.

In other developments:

* The state will not post any returns on its web site before 8 p.m. EST on Nov. 4, because most of the Panhandle is in central time and Browning doesn't want projections of winners and losers to influence voters who are still voting. This is believed to be the first time the state is withholding some election results.

* Hillsborough County's Kathy Harris had a testy exchange with Browning on whether the county needs state approval to "deviate" from state directives and verify voters' identities at the polls on Election Day. "You don't need my authority, nor will I grant that authority," Browning replied tersely.

* Pinellas Supervisor Deborah Clark wants an expedited OK from the state so she can begin a machine recount in a close race as soon as possible after Election Night. Browning said no but that the state is prepared "to do whatever we can" to avoid recount delays.

Posted by Steve Bousquet at 10:00:38 AM on October 24, 2008

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