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Jennings hopes last word isn't final one

Published December 17, 2006


Check out Christine Jennings, the Democrat contesting the messy Sarasota-area congressional election on Political Connections at 11 a.m. today on Bay News 9.

"I truly believe the machines are faulty, and there are errors in those machines," said Jennings, who officially lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 369 votes. "I can't tell you what but the reason I am contesting this is I want to make sure we have honest, fair and accurate and thorough elections for the people of this country, and I think this is a test case so I'm going to go all the way with this."

Jennings talked about her hopes that if her court challenge fails, the new Democratic House will insist on a new election, how she's convinced officials of all parties should want to get to the bottom of an election where machines showed 18,000 people failed to vote, and about the personal effect of such a murky outcome.

"When you've been in the corporate world for 40 years, you toughen up. But election night, getting ready I thought, well tonight's the night. I thought one of two things will happen: I will either win or I will lose. I can honestly say I never knew there was a third option."

The taped interview airs at 11 a.m. and can be seen later on Ch. 342 (Bay News 9 on Demand).

Bay shows clout in House, Senate posts

The state House and Senate doled out committee assignments last week and Tampa Bay fared well. Here's a look at a few of the new faces. Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole, will play an important role on the Insurance committee. She also was assigned to the Education Innovation & Career Preparation committee, Military & Veterans' Affairs and the Schools & Learning council. Rep. Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg, was put on Agribusiness, Postsecondary Education, Utilities & Telecommunications and the Schools & Learning council. Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, will be vice chair of Utilities & Telecommunications and he'll serve on Conservation & State Lands, Health Innovation and the Jobs & Entrepreneurship council. Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, will be vice chair of Ethics & Elections and serve on Environmental Protection, Postsecondary Education and the Economic Expansion & Infrastructure council.

In the Senate, for the first time in a long time, Democrats scored a number of key leadership positions. They'll be heading a record five committees.

Even local newcomers Sen. Charlie Justice of St. Petersburg and Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa got second-in-command posts to some pretty powerful committees: Justice is vice chair of Commerce and Ethics and Elections; and Joyner is vice chair of Judiciary and Justice Appropriations.

To see all the appointments, visit or

Watch your back, Gus

He hasn't even been sworn in yet, and soon-to-be U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, already has a challenger for 2008. Tampa attorney Bill Mitchell, who dropped out of the Democratic primary this year, has filed to run for District 9 seat. "I'm starting early because meeting as many people as possible is an important part of building my campaign," he said.

For Rubio, torn ACL doesn't stop the game

House Speaker Marco Rubio, a high school gridiron standout turned flag football fanatic, underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ACL suffered during a game earlier this fall. Rubio promises to be back on the field some time in 2007. He plays for the Vipers, a South Florida Sports League team made up of his buddies from South Miami High School. At Rubio's side during the surgery, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala. Baxley's in the funeral business, but we think he was rooting for his friend.

Maddox in the clear

Remember the controversies and allegations of financial mismanagement and election law violations that helped sink former Florida Democratic Chairman Scott Maddox's bid for governor? The Florida Elections Commission this month found no probable cause to pursue further a complaint against Maddox from his bitter enemies in the Police Benevolent Association. The PBA alleged that Maddox used the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee to funnel more than $20,000 to Maddox's gubernatorial campaign even before Maddox officially declared his candidacy, paying consultants who wound up on his campaign team. The commission last March similarly found no probable cause to pursue another PBA complaint against Maddox alleging he certified a false campaign finance report.

DiMatteo remains top Pinellas Republican

Pinellas Republican Party chairman Tony DiMatteo has been chosen to head the local party for another two years. He said he has three priorities: 1.) Ensuring that Pinellas goes Republican in the '08 presidential race; 2.) Getting State House seats 51 and 52 back in the GOP column; 3.) Finding a Republican to unseat School Board member Janet Clark. "She's on the hit list, so to speak," DiMatteo said.




[Last modified December 17, 2006, 05:33:26]

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