10 June 2005

Sorry Charlie! Gallagher wins major endorsements

The buzz in political circles is that Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist is unbeatable in the GOP primary. Apparently no one told Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher or three former prominent Republican party officials.

Former GOP chairmen Al Cardenas of Miami, Tom Slade of Jacksonville, and Van Poole of Tallahassee officially endorsed Gallagher for governor on Thursday. Recent polls showing Crist and Gallagher running neck-and-neck. On the Democratic side, Congressman Jim Davis (D-Tampa), former Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox, and state Senator Rod Smith (D-Gainesville) are all vying for their party's nomination.

Governor Jeb Bush is prohibited from running again due to term limits.

07 June 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Katherine Harris to run for U.S. Senate

As reported by CNN's Inside Politics, the Miami Herald, and the Associated Press, it's official! Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota) will run against Democratic Senator Bill Nelson for the United States Senate.

The race will be one of the hottest in the country. Harris, most known for her role as the Florida Secretary of State in the controversial 2000 presidential election, is seen by most as a political moderate who has access to a lot of campaign money. Senator Nelson will surely have the most difficult campaign of his career in 2006.

06 June 2005

Crist botches Jeb's veto of crime bill

This past session, the Florida Legislature unanimously passed a bill that would have provided enhanced penalties for crimes committed during states of emergency and would have extended prison sentences for those who commit burglary following a natural disaster, with some sentences reaching 30-year terms. The legislation was prompted by looting during last year's busy hurricane season. House Bill 207, sponsored by Representative Holly Benson (R-Pensacola) passed the House 111-0 and the Senate 40-0. The Senate sponsor of the bill was Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres). Unfortunately for law-abiding citizens, Governor Jeb Bush vetoed the bill last week, stating that it was too broad. Ironically, Attorney General Charlie Crist, who strongly supported the bill during the 2005 session because it allowed him to look tough on crime to news reporters, was unaware of the governor's veto and issued a statement praising the "new law." Woops! That's pretty sloppy investigative work from the state's top law enforcement officer.

At 9:41 AM on Thursday, June 2nd, the Attorney General's office issued a statement by Crist praising Governor Bush for signing the anti-looting bill. Crist said, "This legislation sends a strong message to those depraved enough to steal from disaster victims. There is only so much we can do to limit nature's ability to create victims, but this new law shows we are committed to making sure criminals don't revictimize our citizens."

Apparently Crist's office was unaware of the veto message, issued by Governor Bush to Secretary of State Glenda Hood, which stated that the governor had vetoed the bill because it was too broad and could inadvertently enhance penalties for all burglars. "I am vetoing the bill because I am concerned that the scope of the bill is overly broad. The enhanced penalties would have application beyond just looting in the days following a disaster," wrote Bush. "Although the bill is well-intentioned, it creates a significant unintended consequence."

Crist's office learned of the mistake and sheepishly issued a retraction. At 1:49 PM on the same day, Crist's office distributed a release entitled "Regarding Action on Legislative Bills". The statement shifted the blame to the Governor's office by saying, "Please disregard and retract the earlier statement from this office regarding HB 207, the anti-looting bill. The Governor's Office has recently issued a revised list of Bill Actions taken over the past 24 hours."

The Governor's office later admitted to sending out word that he had approved the bill, blaming the mixup on a computer glitch. Crist refused to state whether he disagreed with the governor's veto of HB 207.