The buzz on Florida politics

Published June 24, 2007

The Governator will pump up Florida GOP

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a member of the Charlie Crist socially moderate wing of the GOP and another rare Republican winner in the last election, is set to come to Tampa next month to raise money for the Florida GOP.

Schwarzenegger, who is also coming to Crist's environmental summit in Miami with Robert Kennedy Jr., will headline the state party's July 13 "2007 Foundation for Victory Dinner" at the downtown Tampa Hyatt. You can go to the dinner for $100, but a mere $50, 000 buys two tables of "premier seating."

Cheap or expensive? Edwards offers both

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards will hold a rally/fundraiser in Tampa Friday night. For just $15, folks can come see the former North Carolina senator at 7 p.m. at the Saunders Pavilion at Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W. Sligh Ave. Sign up online at johnedwards.com/events.

Edwards also will hold a pricier fundraiser at the Tampa home of lawyer Steve Yerrid.

Rudy pins his early hopes on Florida

A "strategy memo" from the Rudy Giuliani campaign Friday underscored the central role Florida plays in Giuliani's nomination strategy. While other Republicans for months have been organizing in the earliest contests like Iowa and New Hampshire, a host of major Giuliani-friendly states like New York and New Jersey will vote on Feb. 5.

Said the memo: "Florida is a critical state in the Pre-Feb. 5 primary lineup. We are optimistic about the Mayor's potential for success in Florida as he has been the frontrunner in nearly all polls conducted in the state and enjoys a considerable lead. Florida may prove to be the most important primary of this election."

Was hizzoner a year too late or 3 too early?

We saw at least 11 TV cameras covering Giuliani at a Miami-Dade rally last week. One weird thing: He kept talking about campaigning for W in Florida just before the 2001 election. Repeatedly, he mentioned campaigning for Bush among Cuban-Americans in South Florida on the Sunday before election day in 2001.

Our guess? He's so used to invoking 9/11, his mind defaults to 2001. For hizzoner's sake, though, we hope he doesn't plan his campaign so it peaks in 2009.

Maybe it wasn't the wisest tax strategy

Check out Hillsborough Property Appraiser Rob Turner on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. talking about the state's tax reform efforts. "The jury's still out" on how effective those efforts will be, said Turner, who agrees local government shares some blame for swallowing up so much of the revenue generated by rising property values.

"Practically every dime of that newfound revenue was pulled into the local taxing authorities, " Turner said in the taped interview. "There weren't many refunds that were being offered to the taxpayers, and had that happened at that time we may not be in this kind of a crisis mode."

Also on the show is Carlos Lacasa, a former legislator and member of Florida's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. He is so skeptical about the tax reform passed by state lawmakers that he personally may vote against it in January.

Mitt's Tampa Bay pals plan to catch cash

The host list for Mitt Romney's fundraiser at Sembler Center in St. Pete Monday evening ($1, 000 gets you into the reception and $2, 300 gets a photo op): Brent Sembler, Carlos Alfonso, Bill "Hoe" Brown, Dr. Robert Entel, Shelly Kamins, Bing Kearney, Scott Roix, Dr. Manuel Rose, Chris Sullivan, Robert and Nancy Watkins, Don DeFosset, Dr. A.K. Desai, Jim Holton, Jim and Suzanne MacDougald, Steve Mitchell, Lance Ponton, Ed and Marsha Droste, Ann Duncan, Deveron Gibbons, Tom James and Dave Lageschulte.

Feeney opens legal defense fund

Rep. Tom Feeney, the Oviedo Republican who attracted FBI inquiries over a Scotland trip he took courtesy of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has opened a legal defense fund. Documents filed with the U.S. House state that Feeney, who denies any wrongdoing, "has incurred legal expenses in connection with his official duties and position in Congress, and matters bearing on his reputation or fitness for office."

A jump on 2010

State Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Indialantic, says that he has enough votes pledged today to win the Senate presidency in 2010.

Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, who had been running against Haridopolos, decided last week to throw his support to Haridopolos, Haridopolos said. Those who supported Alexander also are also now supporting Haridopolos, Haridopolos confirmed. Also, Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, is "unquestionably" going to be Senate president in 2008, Haridopolos said.

Adam C. Smith, Jennifer Liberto, and Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz.