Archive for April, 2008

Obama a Drag in So. FL Races?
April 29, 2008

After having pretty much written off Hillary Clinton even in the afterglow of her PA win, this week’s news punditry finds a faint political pulse.

She gets an endorsement from North Carolina’s governor today (NC’s primary is Tuesday, and a new national poll shows her leading McCain by 9 points, while Obama’s ahead by only 2.  Finally– some backup for her argument she’s more “electable.”  Previous polling showing Obama running better against McCain had made Clinton’s argument ring hollow. 

Now, the web site politico.com is quoting Republicans who say that doubts about Obama–stemming from the controversy over Rev. Wright and the candidate’s comments that “bitter” small-town residents “cling to” God and guns because they’re alienated from Washington– may not only make him easier to run against, but may make their mission of holding onto endangered Congressional seats easier.

South Florida, cited specifically in the article by John Kraushaar– “Republicans believe they can also exploit Obama’s vulnerabilities in House battlegrounds where he has struggled to win over key demographic groups. Those areas include three culturally conservative seats in Pennsylvania, where Obama lost badly in last week’s primary, and three Cuban-American districts in Florida that Democrats are seriously contesting for the first time.”

McCain Biltmore Bash– $$$ & GOP Unity
April 25, 2008

John McCain’s in town, raising some mega-money at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.  It’s his first South Florida campaign foray since January 29th, FL Primary Night, which was really the beginning of the end for his competitors.  Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney dropped out shortly after McCain’s big Florida win, and though Mike Huckabee hung in for several more weeks, he was never a serious threat to be nominated after Florida voted.

The Biltmore event aims to pull together big FL names from those rival campaigns, and raise A LOT of money.  Event co-chairs include Al Cardenas (former state party chair who was Romney’s main man in FL), St. Reps. Marco Rubio and David Rivera (the best-known Florida backers of Huckabee), and Giuliani’s biggest-name booster, Attorney General Bill McCollum, is an “Honorary Reception Chairman”.  Governor Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez, who both weighed in with big pre-primary McCain endorsements, will also be on hand.  So will ex-Gov. Jeb Bush, who waited until the week after theb FL Primary to donate a thousand bucks to McCain.

A grand won’t even get you in the door at the Biltmore Sunday night. Organizer Ana Navarro says three fund-raisers are planned.  A VIP Reception- get your photo taken with the candidate.  Then a General Reception, with remarks by McCain and entertainment by singer Willy Chirino.  And finally– and most expensively– a Pig-Roast Dinner.

At a minimum, you have to pony up $2300 to the campaign to make it to the Biltmore for the General Recep.  If you want to eat lechon, it’ll cost you $28,500 to the “McCain/Victory 2008” fund, a joint account set up by the GOP and the McCain campaign. 

 

 

 

 

FL Superdelegates– PA Changes No Minds
April 23, 2008

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s 10-point win in Pennsylvania, I talked with 4 of 5 of our local undecided super-delegates, who look more and more like kingmakers as the tight Democratic nominating contest plays out.  Their comments, with some editing (in parentheses):

St Sen. Steve Geller- Cooper City- originally a supporter of Sen. John Edwards–

“I’m leaning toward Hillary for two reasons.  I want to support whoever will do the most to seat Florida’s delegation (to the Democratic convention), and so far, that’s her.  (Above all else) I care about one thing– who can beat John McCain?

I’m going to wait and see some polls (before making a final decision).  In Florida, the polling shows if Hilary is the nominee, Florida’s competitive.  If it’s Obama, it’s not competitive

(But the focus is nationwide).  Show me an electoral map supported by polls, over who’s stronger.  Shw me a road map to 271 electoral votes.  There’s probably only 10 swing states.  Show me polling in those ten states, I’d be in better position to say what I’m going to do.

Pennsylvania absolutely strengthened her case (as to electability).  For any genuinely undecided superdelegate, it had to strengthen her case.  If she’d lost, she would have had to drop out.

(While leaning to Clinton now), I don’t want a kamikaze mission.  If it’s clear she’s lost (the nomination battle), she should drop out.”

Diane Glasser, Tamarac- Broward’s State Committeewoman–

“I still haven’t made up my mind.  I’m going to wait until June, until it all runs itself, with all the primaries.

I want to see who’s standing up for the party in the long-term, not just the short-term.  The negativity is what’s bothering me.  They’ve both had their share (in negative campaigning).  I want to see how damaging they’re going to be to (each other).

Mitch Ceasar, Plantation– Broward Party Chair, member of Dem Natl. Comte.–

“My headline is– the saga continues.  I hope it’s not a soap opera, with the final act coming at the convention.  I think most superdelegates will make up their mind in June. My concerns about negative campaigning were heightened during Pennsylvania.

I’m looking ahead now to Indiana, for a couple of reasons.  Unlike Pennsylvania, it’s not a perceptions game (PA was widely assumed to be Clinton territory, so all the post-primary spin is about the margin of victory).  Indiana’s a tight contest.  I’ll be looking at the exit-polling there, as to who won and why.

St. Rep. Dan Gelber — Miami Beach–

“Did you see the movie Groundhog Day?  This is becoming a little like that.  We have a primary, somebody wins, and it’s an inkblot.  It literally becomes a spin zone, and it’s a gosh-awful way to run a primary. 

My hope is, this thing is over soon.  II’ve been thinking I probably need to decide soon, to move this thing along.  I’m up here in session.  I was thinking I’d do it at some point shortly after session ends (in ten days or so).

A lot of what we see now as negative (atmosphere between the rival camps) is just an energized party.  Once we settle on a nominee, we’ll coalesce.  Overnight, people are going to move, to be ready to bear down on November.” 

U.S. Congressman Ron Klein– Broward/Palm Beach–

His office said he had no time to discuss the PA results today, that he remains undecided, and still holds the opinion he expressed earlier to the Miami Herald– ”The general theory is that you don’t upend the popular vote, but I don’t see any hard lines.”  (according to RealClearPolitics.com, Obama leads the popular vote by about 500,000 votes if you don’t count disputed primaries in FL & Michigan… by about 205,000 if you count Florida’s results, where all candidates were on the ballot… and Clinton leads by about 120,000 if you include Michigan, where she was the only candidate on the ballot).

Obamans Say– FL’s in Play
April 10, 2008

   Ten days ago, I pondered the possibility that FL might not be a battleground state, if Barack Obama’s the Democratic nominee (3/31 “FL Off Center Stage?” below).  Obama’s FL Finance Chair Kirk Wagar disputes any such suggestion, so here’s some equal time:

   1) Wagar suggests that trailing John McCain by 9-points right now (46-37% in the Quinnipiac poll) is, in fact, great news for Obama, referring back to the GOP’s contested FL primary– “John McCain won, and spent millions, yet he’s not over 50%.  That’s staggering news for us.”

       I asked, if Obama clinches the nomination in June, whether we’d likely see an intensive “make-up” tour of Florida and Michigan, the two states he didn’t contest due the “The Pledge” the Demo contenders made to snub primaries that broke party rules by moving up to January.  Though Wagar didn’t like my “make-up tour” characterization, he did predict heavy-duty “introductory” tours in FL & MI…adding as an afterthought “if we’re fortunate enough to be the nominee.”

2)  Wagar scoffed at the notion the Obama campaign might target states like Virginia, Missouri, and Colorado rather than playing catch-up in high-priced Florida.   Referring to Obama’s record-breaking fundraising, Wagar said “Thankfully, because of the support we have in this country, we can target everywhere.”

    This raises the question of whether Obama will keep his pledge to run his campaign with public financing, which would limit his spending.  Usually, Democrats have to scramble to keep up with Republican fundraising.  Not this year– Obama’s blowing everyone out of the water– close to 2-to-1 last month over both McCain and Clinton.

   Florida’s an exception, so far.  The $4.7 million Obama’s raised here ranks 3rd,  behind Sen. Clinton’s $7.8 million and Rudy Giuliani’s $5.4 million.

   NBC News pundits, by the way, are predicting Obama won’t accept Federal matching funds, freeing him of spending limits the law would impose. 

3)  Wagar says skipping Florida would run contrary to Obama’s practice of running everywhere (“unlike other campaigns”, he adds pointedly).  Wagar points out Obama even contested Clinton’s home state of  NY (she won 57%-40%) and seems to be making a race of it in Pennsylvania, where his rival had a huge lead just a couple of weeks ago. 

Silly Season for FL D’s & R’s
April 8, 2008

  New nominees for the silliest war-by-press-release in this campaign year– Florida’s Republican and Democratic parties.

  The subject?  Housing- a worthwhile topic in Florida, to be sure.  But the political parties weren’t sniping over the very real problems of housing affordability in the state.  They were trading jabs over housing for delegates to the national conventions.

   The Republicans led off with a press release crowing over their newly-acquired reservations at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott.  A press release over getting rooms at a Marriott? 

   But not just any  Marriott, I guess.  Republicans point out it’s “a short drive” from the Xcel Energy Center, where the convention will be held Labor Day week, and exult in the fact that it’s “conveniently located adjacent to the Mall of  America”, the nation’s largest.  Whew– Shangri-la!  No wonder FL GOP chair Jim Greer describes himself as “incredibly excited.”

   Best of all, they write, the hotel’s big enough “to accommodate Florida’s significant delegation of 114 delegates and 111 alternates”.   They don’t get into the fact that those 225 Republicans will be going to the Twin Cities to cast all of 57 votes, since the GOP cut Florida’s delegates in half, as punishment for moving our primary up to January 29th.

   Of course, Democrats levied an even more drastic punishment–striking all of Florida’s delegates– and of course that’s the real reason Republicans thought it was worth putting out a press release about their hotel reservations.

   Democrats, apparently, just had to respond– they had hotel rooms, too.  Of course, they can’t tell us if it’s near the convention hall or any mega-malls.  They don’t know where they’ll be staying in Denver during the 8/25-28 convention.  They have only recent, vague assurances from Howard Dean that hotel rooms have been set aside for Floridians– whoever winds up getting seated from the Sunshine State, and whoever they wind up supporting.

   And the Democrats were OUTRAGED by a snarky Republican aside that they might have to stay at a campground, rather than a hotel, accusing the GOP of insinuating “camping is second-class or shameful.”  They counter that many Florida families choose to take camping vacations to save money “during this Republican recession.”

    Maybe Florida party spinmeisters are getting paid by the press release.  Maybe, somewhere, there’s a political writer or reporter or even a reader who can take this stuff seriously.  I doubt it, and sincerely hope the level of the discourse rises from this drivel over travel plans.    

Candidacy as Therapy
April 5, 2008

Tomas Regalado formally announced he’s running for mayor of Miami this week.  It was just a formality– the City Commissioner had said he was after the mayor’s chair months ago– on his way out of the polls last fall, when voters returned him to yet another term on the commission.

It’s awful early.  The mayoral election won’t happen until November of 2009. 

Regalado doesn’t need a long time to introduce himself to voters.  He’s been a commissioner for more than eleven years, and has spent many more years as a commentator on Spanish-language radio & TV.

A frequent motive for politicians to jump into a race early is to keep others out, by “sucking up the oxygen in the room”– getting so many donors or so much publicity that they take on an aura of invincibility, discouraging potential competitors.

But that can’t be Regalado’s motive.  He’s made a cottage industry out of opposing the Manny Diaz agenda, a reliable “No” vote on a lot of 4-1 commission votes.  There’s no way he won’t have opposition. 

Commissioners Joe Sanchez and Marc Sarnoff are said to be considering a run.  And if they don’t jump in, I couldn’t envision a scenario in which Manny Diaz would step down as mayor without finding a candidate who would defend his agenda and continue his work.

Besides, I thought, why does Regalado think anyone would pay attention to the city’s “Decision ’09” until the compelling national drama of “Decision ’08” is over?  There’s no way Miamians are focussed on the mayoral contest yet.

I did not cover Regalado’s announcement this week, so his motives for early declaration puzzled me until I read Rebecca Wakefield’s column in the Sun Post.  He told her he’s getting in now, at least in part, because of the recent death of his wife, Raquel.

“I spent a lot of time with Raquel,” he told Wakefield.  “I cannot sit and stare at the ceiling.  This will help me, I don’t want to say heal, but in a way it will help to have other things on my mind.”

Campaigns are not, generally, a soothing pastime.  But if politicking helps Tomas Regalado get through difficult times, what can you say but “Welcome to the campaign trail”?