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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

Winner and loser of the week

Winner of the week: Jeb Bush. The former governor showed his political might among conservatives when former state House Speaker John Thrasher won a tough, competitive and widely watched special election for state senate Tuesday. By all accounts Bush's endorsement was crucial in that northeast Florida district, a sharp contrast to Charlie Crist's endorsement of Deveron Gibbons for St. Petersburg mayor which appeared to be zero help to the third-place finisher. Imagine what a Jeb endorsement could do for Marco Rubio?

Loser of the week: Pat Bean. Is Hillsborough County Administrator trying to force commissioners to fire her from her $214,000 job? At a time when the county is cutting millions in expenses, she approves a $2,100 bonus for herself. "I didn't use the best judgment," she said in the understatement of the century.

Loser runner up: Florida trial lawyers who in the Senate District 8 tried and failed to send a message they can take out any politician who crosses them. What's that expression about payback?

Posted by Adam Smith at 05:26:00 PM on September 19, 2009

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Rick Baker, Pam Bondi looking at attorney general's race

Poor Jeff Kottkamp. While the state Republican party has done all it can to squelch primary challenges to gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum and senate candidate Charlie Crist, Republicans across the state are working the phones trying to recruit someone to run for attorney general besides Lt. Gov. Kottkamp.

A couple prominent Tampa Bay names are now in the mix for attorney general: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and Hillsborough County Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi. Both are getting lots of encouragement and both are seriously considering running.

"I'm going to keep a lot of options on the table," said Baker, 53, who also is looking at the presidency of St. Petersburg College and returning to private practice. (Peter Schorsch reported the Baker chatter first)

Baker had seriously considering running for governor, but concluded that would take too big a toll on his family. The lower profile attorney general's job presumably would require less time away from his family.

Bondi, 43, says she loves her job but is intrigued and watching the field.

"It's nothing that I've sought out at all. I've been approached by people across the state,'' she said. "How can you not seriously consider it? It's such an important job and we need a very qualified attorney there."

Meanwhile, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Holly Benson, 38, also is talking to Republicans about running. And speculation never ceases that eventually former state House Speaker Marco Rubio will quit his U.S. Senate campaign and run instead for attorney general.

Posted by Adam Smith at 10:46:02 AM on September 19, 2009

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