05 August 2005

Florida discussion leads to Novak's suspension from CNN

Yesterday, conservative columnist Robert Novak lost his cool during a debate with Democratic stategist James Carville and used profanity on the air. Immediately following the spectacle, CNN announced that Bob Novak would be temporarily suspended from the network.

Go to AmericanpolitiX.com to read the transcript and access the video footage online.

03 August 2005

Bense will not run for United States Senate

Today, Republican Speaker Allan Bense announced that he will not challenge Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota) in the GOP primary for the United States Senate. This news is devastating to Florida Republicans who have been hoping for Harris to leave the race, believing that she cannot defeat the moderate Democratic incumbent, Senator Bill Nelson. Most people believe that she will not only lose to Nelson but possibly drag down the entire GOP ticket.

Harris is still seen as an extremely polarizing individual over her role in the controversial 2000 presidential election. Harris, who that year served as secretary of state, oversaw elections in Florida, and during that time, also served as co-chair of then Governor George W. Bush's presidential campaign. Many people saw these dual roles as a blatant conflict of interest, and Harris has been unable to regain confidence with Florida's voters ever since.

Bense, a former Democrat himself, is seen as left-of-center politically, and many GOP operatives believed he had the best chance to defeat Nelson in a general election. Instead, Bense says that he will focus his efforts on leading the Florida House of Representatives.

Today, Bense issued the following statement:

“After much thought and prayer, and after extensive discussions with my family and friends, I have decided to remain focused on my responsibilities as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives,” said Florida House Speaker Allan Bense. “When I was elected Speaker, I made a commitment to the other 119 Members of the Florida House and to the people of Florida, and it is a commitment I intend to uphold to the best of my ability.

“I greatly appreciate the sincere confidence so many have expressed in me, the enthusiastic encouragement they have given me as well as the candid counsel they have provided. However, I believe it would be extremely difficult to fulfill my duties as Speaker while also running for the United States Senate in a campaign that will attract national attention and require a huge commitment of time and energy.

“Therefore, I have decided that it is in my best interest, my family’s best interest and in the best interest of the Florida House that I do not run for the United States Senate at this time.”

This news is good for Nelson, but Harris shouldn't be ruled out just yet. She is tough and will not go down without a fight. Democrats should hold back on popping the champagne, but it might not hurt to start putting it on ice.

UPDATE (8:07 PM): The Associated Press reports on the Bense decision.

Senator Bill Nelson issued the following statement: "Regardless of who our opponent is, we expect it's going to be a tough race. Between now and election time, I'm just going to keep doing the best job I can for the people of Florida."

Congresswoman Katherine Harris issued the following statement: "Allan Bense is a living example of leadership, solidly grounded in character and integrity. I have long admired him, and deeply value his friendship."

01 August 2005

St. Pete Times creates a Buzz with their new blog

Every Sunday, Florida's Who's Who have become accustomed to reading the widely-acclaimed political column, The Buzz, on the St. Petersburg Times web site. Now the column has taken a life of its own and will be converted into a realtime blog, where the paper's staff writers contribute and readers are invited to comment.

St. Petersburg Times Blog - The Buzz

Check it out online now!

BREAKING NEWS: President Bush appoints John Bolton as United Nations Ambassador

Read about the Bolton appointment at AmericanpolitiX.com.

The story can be found at http://americanpolitix.blogspot.com/2005/08/breaking-news-president-bush-appoints.html

DeFending DeFede

Last week, the Miami establishment was shocked when former Miami City Commissioner Arthur E. Teele, Jr. entered the lobby of the Miami Herald building and shot himself in the head. The longtime Republican politician, who had served on both the county and city commissions, had recently been convicted of assault on a police officer and was facing federal and state corruption charges.

The morning of his suicide, a local tabloid, the Miami New Times, published a lengthy piece detailing personal affairs in Teele's life, including an alleged affair with a male prostitute. According to Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede, who spoke with Teele on numerous occasions that day, the former commissioner was very upset about the article, particularly with the reports of the male prostitute. DeFede sensed that Teele was very upset, so he reached for a tape recorder and began to document the conversation.

While Teele lost his life, the events leading to this tragic event caused DeFede to lose his job. Following the suicide, DeFede went to his editors and confessed that he had recorded the conversation without Teele's consent. The columnist recommended that he face suspension for his conduct, since taping a conversation without one's consent may be a violation of state law. Herald management decided to immediately fire DeFede.

Now a blog and a website have been launched in defense of Jim DeFede. The blog, http://journalistsfordefede.com, is run by Peter Wallsten of the Los Angelese Times and Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe, both Miami Herald alumni. The host of the website is unknown.

The blog features an open letter to Herald Publisher Jesus Diaz and Executive Editor Tom Fiedler and criticizes the papers decision to fire DeFede. The website, http://www.savedefede.com, provides links to various news articles on the subject of DeFede's firing and to the aforementioned blog. Both sites discuss the Florida law that DeFede allegedly violated when he taped the conversation.

Now the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is investigating DeFede's conduct. On Friday, prosecutors questioned the former Herald columnist over the taping of the journalist's last conversation with Art Teele.

While the state attorney's decision is still unknown, it is evidently clear that DeFede's fellow journalists are rushing to support him. The DeFede blog features a petition and is soliciting e-signatures from journalists around the country. As of now, the number has reached 361 names and that number is expected to grow. Only time will tell if these journalists can make a difference.