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Butterworth left cold by Democratic field

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published August 12, 2007


Last time Democrats almost won Florida's electoral votes, then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth was in the thick of things, leading Al Gore's Florida campaign in 2000. Today? Butterworth has little enthusiasm for any of his fellow Democrats running for president.

"Joe Biden, who is a friend and somebody I would easily be able to endorse, I don't think is going to be able to make it, unfortunately," Butterworth says in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

"Other than Joe, I really don't have a choice." said Butterworth, who said Hillary Clinton would have a tough challenge winning Florida in the general election if Republican Gov. Charlie Crist remains popular heading into 2008.

Butterworth, Gov. Crist's Department of Children and Families secretary, wouldn't even rule out endorsing GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani, with whom he served as co-best men at the wedding of pal Jon Sale, a Miami lawyer and former federal prosecutor. But Butterworth questions whether someone married three times like Giuliani can ever be elected president.

The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Bay News 9 and can be seen any time on Channel 342 (Bay News 9 on demand).

Obama wins over GOP-friendly Jabil exec

Jabil Circuit chief executive officer and president Tim Main has made campaign donations to President Bush and the state Republican Party in the past. But next month, he'll host Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at his St. Petersburg home.

The Illinois senator, who this week will be campaigning in Tallahassee and South Florida, is scheduled to return to Tampa Bay for fundraising receptions hosted by Tim and Donna Main in St. Petersburg and Tom and Linda Scarritt in Tampa.

Florida primary still has head start on S.C.

South Carolina Republicans may have shifted their primary date 10 days earlier than Florida's Jan. 29 primary, but Florida Republicans will still be voting before Palmetto Staters. That's because Florida, unlike South Carolina, lets voters cast their ballots starting two weeks before election day. That's one reason state leaders aren't worried about South Carolina's move.

"I don't view this as a competition between states. I just think Florida's issues should be addressed early on, and they're going to be," said state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the force behind Florida's early primary.

"Florida's importance in the primary isn't just the date of the vote," the Miami Republican said. "It's the diversity of our state, it's the fact that the issues you face in Florida are national in scope, it's the fact that Florida's a pretty good barometer of your national appeal and of your ability to win the swing states."

Local leaders on board with Giuliani ...

The Giuliani campaign rolled out some county chairmen of his Florida campaign last week. In Pasco, it's Heather Fiorentino, superintendent of Pasco County schools; Pinellas, Margie Milford, Pinellas County campaign chairwoman for Gov. Crist; Polk, Jerry Carter; and Manatee, former Sheriff Charlie Wells.

... but Democratic voters not crossing over

The Kitchens Group, a Democrat-leaning firm, released a Florida poll last week that showed Clinton and Giuliani just about tied at about 41 percent-40 percent, assuming they go head to head. About 16 percent of Florida voters remain undecided.

"This does not bode well for the Giuliani campaign. He is perceived as a fairly liberal Republican, yet this poll indicates his support comes mainly from the Republican base - despite going head to head with Clinton, who we know has high negatives," said political consultant Jim Kitchens, founder of the Kitchens Group.

"He's not winning support from so-called anti-Hillary Democrats, and he's losing independents by 13 percent to Clinton," Kitchens said.

The poll also shows that independents are still up for grabs, Kitchens said. "A relatively small bloc of voters will play a significant role in the coming months."

Small businesses like tax amendment

Small businesses in Florida overwhelmingly support the proposed constitutional amendment on property taxes, an industry group said today.

According to a National Federation of Independent Business survey, of those taking a position, 73 percent were in favor of the amendment and 27 percent were in opposition - a ratio of nearly 3 to 1. The amendment is largely geared at increasing homestead exemptions but also provides a $25,000 exemption on business tangible personal property tax.

"It's not the size of the tax cut that matters, it's how you use it," federation executive director Bill Herrle said.

Adam C. Smith, Alex Leary and Jennifer Liberto contributed to this week's Buzz.

[Last modified August 12, 2007, 00:00:13]

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