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Politics

Who should run for lieutenant governor? Ask the Magic 8-Ball

By ADAM C. SMITH
Published September 10, 2006


The gubernatorial primaries are over, so it's time to talk running mates. Democrat Jim Davis and Republican Charlie Crist have until Thursday to make their picks, and speculation is rampant in political circles. Crist has been focused so much on that decision that throughout the campaign he has had an unsettling tendency to ask reporters their running mate suggestions.

Among the prospects often mentioned for Crist: state Rep. Jeff Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral; state Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey; and state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Green Cove Springs, an African-American with a military background.

Republicans have also talked up former House Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City, but he's also in the mix of contenders to become the next Florida Republican Party chairman. The pickings from Miami-Dade are slim because, given the bitter intraparty politics there, any selection is sure to infuriate others.

For Davis, who took a beating in the primary for voting in 1990 against compensating two black men wrongly convicted of murder, many Democrats think he needs to pick an African-American. State Rep. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale and former state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami are frequently mentioned, as well as former Miami-Dade commissioner Jimmy Morales and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

DEPRESSED TURNOUT: Florida voters set a record for lousy turnout in last week's primary elections. Just 15.5 percent of Florida's 10.4-million registered voters showed up, despite high-profile statewide primaries. The last record for low turnout was 17 percent in the 1998 primary.

A closer look at the numbers suggests Democrats have more to worry about heading into the general election than Florida Republicans. Nearly 25 percent of Republicans turned out, compared with slightly more than 20 percent of Democrats. When nearly 128,000 more Republicans turn out than Democrats, there's clearly a lot of work to do on the Democratic side.

THE VIEW FROM OUTSIDE FLORIDA: Check out University of Virginia savvy political scientist Larry Sabato on Political Connections today at 11 a.m. on Bay News 9. He offers his take on Democrats' chances of winning control of the Governor's Mansion (possible), Mike Bilirakis' and Katherine Harris' congressional seats (unlikely) and the U.S. House (pretty good). Afterward, the interview can be seen on Channel 342 (Tampa Bay on Demand).

GEORGE AND BOB: Democratic former Sen. Bob Graham will headline a fundraiser for U.S. House District 9 candidate Phyllis Busansky on Wednesday at the Temple Terrace home of Steve and Teresa Brandt. Meanwhile, local Republicans expect President Bush to hit the Tampa Bay area Sept. 21 on behalf of Republican Gus Bilirakis.

NOT BYGONES: From a statement from defeated U.S. Senate candidate Peter Monroe: "To date, I have supported all Republican nominees. I fully and enthusiastically support Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum and Tom Lee. However, I cannot support Katherine Harris as the Republican Party's nominee. Her anti-Semitic statements made to the Florida Baptist Witness were the last straw in a string of misdeeds during our race. They are indicative of a person who is unfit to serve in public office."

DOSTER'S THANKS: Tom Gallagher's respected campaign manager, Brett Doster, e-mailed a thank-you note to supporters last week: "The primary battle is over, but the war against those who will be trying to reverse the Republican leadership and progress that has been made in Florida over the past eight years continues. I urge you all to remain involved and keep fighting for the things in which we believe."

He never mentioned Charlie Crist.

BUYING VOTES: Consider a couple of numbers from Tuesday's primary elections for governor. Democrat Carol "Grandma" Castagnero, an obscure candidate who got 5.3 percent of the vote, spent $12,500 on her campaign for governor (through Aug. 31). She got 44,799 votes . Republican Tom Gallagher received 326,954 votes and spent $9,216,730.

Do the math: Castagnero spent 28 cents for every vote she received. Gallagher spent $28 for every vote he received.

Adam C. Smith and Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz. For much more breaking political news, check out blogs.tampabay.com/buzz.

[Last modified September 10, 2006, 06:28:35]


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