14 May 2005

Florida icon backs Jim Davis for governor

Yesterday, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham announced that he "enthusiastically" supports Congressman Jim Davis (D-Tampa) in his run for governor. The announcement by the former governor and presidential candidate advances Davis into the frontrunner position among Democrats in the race for chief executive of the Sunshine State.

Davis currently faces state Senator Rod Smith (D-Gainesville) in the Democratic primary, and state Attorney General Charlie Crist is the only Republican who has yet filed. Former Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox is predicted to join the field, and many expect Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings to jump into the race on the Republican side. Republican Jeb Bush currently holds the state's top position, but is prohibited from running for reelection because of term limits.

The Graham endorsement is a major feat for the Davis campaign. Bob Graham is revered by Floridians of all party persuasions and receives the respect of political leaders from throughout the country. The former senator brings with him an impeccable reputation and an impressive list of contributors. Graham and his wife Adele will be hosting a fundraiser in Coral Gables on June 1st, and the senator plans to actively campaign on behalf of Davis.

Other prominent players in the race for governor include former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who has endorsed Smith, and Congressman Robert Wexler (D-Boca Raton), who has indicated that he would throw his support behind Maddox if he enters the race.

The timing of the endorsement is quite interesting, because it comes very early in the campaign. The Graham announcement comes days after the entrance of Crist into the race and within a week of Maddox resigning from the state party to prepare for his own run. Following the Crist announcement, some pundits were quick to declare the race over. The Graham endorsement may be the elder stateman's way of saying, "Not so fast." And while Maddox is widely expected to run for governor, the Graham announcement may have been intended to steer the former party chairman into a different cabinet race.

While overlooked for months, Jim Davis is now the candidate to beat in the Democratic primary. Let's see if the former senator can help put him in the governor's mansion.

13 May 2005

Karen Thurman to lead Florida Democrats

Last Saturday, Florida Democrats elected a former congresswoman to lead their party back to political relevance in the Sunshine State. Karen Thurman, of Dunnellon, was overwhelmingly elected to the state chair position by the party's State Executive Committee. Scott Maddox resigned the party chairmanship in order to run for statewide office, presumably for governor, and Thurman will complete his term until December 2008. Thurman was defeated in 2002 by Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (R- Brooksville) after Republicans gerrymandered the district during reapportionment so Brown-Waite could win.

Karen Thurman inherits a party in crisis. Florida Democrats suffered devastating losses at the polls last fall, and recent finance reports show the party in horrendous financial shape. After the party's disappointing results in 2002, no one thought that the state Democratic Party could sink any lower. They were wrong. Under the leadership of Maddox, Florida Democrats saw Senator John Kerry lose by five percentage points to President George W. Bush, House Democrats lost three more seats in the legislature, and the U.S. Senate seat that had been held by Bob Graham for eighteen years was won by the Republicans. The icing on the cake was an act of cronyism reported by the Tallahassee Democrat when the former chairman offered a $100,000 party contract to Maddox loyalists, essentially sticking his successor with the bill.

Now, the party that once held all positions of power in Florida has a steep hill to climb. Most agree that it will take the star power of someone like Karen Thurman to bring the Democrats back to political relevance in Florida. FloridapolitiX.com expects great things from Thurman and wishes her the best of luck.

12 May 2005

From Florida Politics: The Tamiami Trail

Derek Newton, president of The November Group, has started writing editorials for the blog, Florida Politics. His piece is very informative and a definite must-read for all party activists and candidates who want to win statewide.

Here is a sample:

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Tamiami Trail by DerekTNG

For years, state and national pundits have blathered on about the so-called I-4 corridor between Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach being the key to unlocking Florida elections.
The candidate who wins I-4, the old wisdom was, wins Florida. But the 2004 elections paint a different picture: namely that winning the Tamiami Trail may be more politically important than I-4.

Unlike I-4, the Tamiami Trail runs, as the name suggests, from Tampa to Miami. And Tampa Bay is, as John Kerry learned, Florida’s unquestioned electoral king-maker.

Of George Bush’s top six “most improved” counties from 2000 to 2004, four of them encircle Tampa Bay. Together Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk gave the Bush campaign a comfortable winning margin of 81,000 in 2000. But the 2004 Bush outfit nearly doubled that margin in whipping up on Kerry by 161,000 votes in those same four counties. Those four Tampa counties alone accounted for nearly 20% of Bush’s entire winning margin statewide and instantly dashed Kerry’s hopes of stealing Florida.

Farther south along the Tamiami Trail are four overlooked but important counties along the lower western coast. Bush carried Sarasota, Manatee, Collier and Lee Counties by a combined 81,000 votes in 2000. In 2004, he pushed that advantage to 127,000 – a 54% increase. The difference, 46,000 votes, accounted for another 12% of Bush’s total Florida victory margin.

For those scoring at home, those eight large counties along Florida’s west coast accounted for about one third of Bush’s Florida winning margin.

But while the top of the Tamiami Trail was a walk in the park for Republicans, the last leg is more a bright spot for Democrats. It is Miami-Dade County – Florida’s largest. With little fanfare, Miami-Dade County gave a 49,000 vote edge to John Kerry when it mustered a 39,000 vote margin for Al Gore four years earlier. Even though it’s only an increase of 10,000 votes, Miami-Dade is one of just three large counties in Florida to actually increase its vote margin for Democrats.

To read more, go to:

http://flapolitics.blogspot.com/2005/05/tamiami-trail-by-derektng.html

10 May 2005

FloridapolitiX.com to return later in the week

As a result of some computer hangups and other unforeseen complications, FloridapolitiX.com has been forced offline for the last few days.

I hope to have FloridapolitiX.com up and running by the end of the week.

My sincerest apology!