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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

The defense calls Bill McCollum to the stand (maybe)

Former RPOF chairman and accused fraudster Jim Greer announced plans to call Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum as a witness in his case.

Not much of a shock Greer would try to pressure one of "The Four Horsemen," whom the Florida Department of Law Enforcement seems loathe to interview. Greer had planned to depose top Republicans as part of his civil lawsuit, which is in abeyance. Now that Greer's facing criminal charges, is this a real strategy that would yield real results, or just an attempt at delay and obfuscation by the accused?

Posted by Marc Caputo at 02:29:40 PM on July 5, 2010

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Economy pushes war into political background

Four years ago, Kathy Castor put the war first.

The Tampa Democrat won a seat in Congress in part by pledging to push for a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq. She called for the firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and investigations into wartime spending.

"A change in course is needed in Washington," Castor said on election night. "It's time."

The war continues today, and about 5,500 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Castor, like other candidates across the United States, is focused on something else: jobs.

With the 2010 midterm elections becoming a referendum on the economy, politicians are reacting to voters consumed with troubles at home. After nine years, America has become war weary.

But the winners in November will have to confront decisions on future troop deployment and funding. The question on Iraq that Democrats thought they had answered in the 2006 and 2008 elections may be looming for Afghanistan: Stay in or get out?

Posted by Alex Leary at 01:34:38 PM on July 5, 2010

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Heavy-hitting Tampa trial lawyer Steve Yerrid building legal team to take on BP

As legal battles over the gulf oil spill flow into Florida courts, a high-profile Tampa lawyer is emerging as a key figure, thanks to his friendship with Gov. Charlie Crist.

Attorney Steve Yerrid is eager to bring the same confrontational legal approach to BP that he and others did to Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and other cigarette-makers on behalf of the state's landmark case against the tobacco industry in the 1990s.

Yerrid now has wide latitude from Crist to assemble a posse of high-powered trial lawyers, similar to the "dream team," hired by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles, who secured an $11.4 billion settlement with the tobacco industry in 1997.

Posted by Alex Leary at 01:32:14 PM on July 5, 2010

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