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White House isn't backing Crist, party chief says

Among the great unanswered questions this year is whether Charlie Crist would caucus with the Democrats or Republicans if he makes it to the Senate. Marco Rubio's campaign, eager to consolidate Republican support, is pushing the idea that Crist would be a Democratic vote, and there have even been unsubstantiated whispers that the White House tacitly backs Crist.

Nonsense, Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

"I don't have any control over that," Kaine said of which party Crist might work with. "What I can control is that we put our support behind the Democratic nominee - and that's Kendrick Meek."

Posted by Alex Leary at 01:54:58 PM on July 11, 2010

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Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

Winner of the week: Bill McCollum. Now that he and Republican gubernatorial rival Rick Scott have agreed to debates Aug. 2 and Aug. 5 (Scott has not yet agreed to an Aug. 11 Leadership Florida debate), McCollum has probably his best opportunity to outshine Scott, who tends to be much more impressive on his ubiquitous TV ads than in person.

Losers of the week Senate president-to-be Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker-to-be Dean Cannon. In a huge victory for those hoping to ban gerrymandered legislative and congressional districts, a judge threw out the sneaky and confusing ballot initiative Republican legislative leaders had proposed to essentially void two other proposed amendments to reform the redistricting process.

Posted by Alex Leary at 01:57:04 PM on July 11, 2010

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Crist's rejection of GOP has complicated life for Kottkamp

When Gov. Charlie Crist bolted from the Republican Party in April, he called it a "declaration of independence."

It was a savvy marketing ploy by a politician in deep trouble that needed to reinvent himself to have any hope of being elected to the U.S. Senate.

The day Crist did that, some Republican insiders now say, Jeff Kottkamp should have immediately declared his independence from Charlie Crist and resigned as lieutenant governor.

That's because Kottkamp is now a Republican candidate for attorney general, and he is coveting the very voters who despise Crist the most: conservative Republicans.

Posted by Alex Leary at 04:27:17 PM on July 11, 2010

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Feinberg to meet with Crist and locals Monday in Pensacola

Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration's oil spill claims czar, has scheduled a meeting in Pensacola on Monday to listen to locals and talk about how the $20 billion set aside for the claims process will be spent. Gov. Charlie Crist is planning to attend.

Here are the details:

Participating local elected leaders and business representatives will include Senator Alex Villalobos; Representative Jimmy Patronis; Secretary Mike Sole of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; John Sebree, vice president of public policy for the Florida Realtors Association; Ed Schroeder, director of the Pensacola Convention and Visitors Bureau; Evon Emerson, president and CEO of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce; Donna Tucker, executive director of the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce; Mayor Mike Wiggins of Pensacola; Tammy Bohannon, chairman of the Santa Rosa Island Authority; Julian McQueen, owner of the Hilton Pensacola Gulf Beach Front; Bill Patterson, proprietor of the Lazy Days Beach Rentals; Alison Davenport, realtor and vice chairman of the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce; Commissioner Grover Robinson, chairman of the Escambia County Commission; Commissioner Gordon Goodin, chairman of the Santa Rosa County Commission; Santa Rosa County Commissioner Lane Lynchard; Hunter Walker, Santa Rosa County administrator; Douglas Sale, city attorney for Panama City Beach and general counsel for the Bay County Tourist Development Council; Bill Williams of the Gulf County Commission; Chris Holley, executive director of the Florida Association of Counties; and Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Details for the event are as follows:

Date: Monday, July 12, 2010

Time: 10:00 a.m. (CDT)

Location: Crabs Restaurant

Address: 6 Casino Beach Boulevard

Gulf Breeze, FL 32561

Posted by Mary Ellen Klas at 07:07:04 PM on July 11, 2010

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Roots of Rubio's U.S. Senate success planted in 2007 property tax fight

Daytona Beach, February 2007: 30 people gather at a medical billing office to hear a young Miami politician. All they know about him is that he's about to become the speaker of the Florida House, and he supposedly shares their growing anger over property taxes and government spending.

"I loved him. I absolutely loved him," recalled Margie Patchett, leader of a local antitax group. "I thought, 'This is not your standard politician. This is a man of vision.' "

The scene played across Florida - from Panama City to Spring Hill and Sarasota. Marco Rubio shaped anger over soaring property taxes into the defining mark of his two years as speaker.

Today, the issue has been overlooked as Rubio stands atop the race for U.S. Senate. But that period was the foundation of his success, and it spawned another angst-ridden movement that has fueled his campaign: the tea party.

Posted by Alex Leary at 08:49:54 PM on July 11, 2010