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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Who, if anyone, will party with Democrats?
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published September 30, 2007
"This is the biggest, most exciting event the party does every four years!" the Florida Democratic Party boasts of its Oct. 26-28 state convention at Disney, promising "some exciting guests you'll be hearing about soon!" But with the leading presidential candidates boycotting Florida because of its early primary, Buzz wonders who will be the marquee speakers to help the party raise crucial bucks.
Long shot Mike Gravel, who hasn't joined the boycott? State Rep. Bill Heller? Charlie Crist has been friendly with Democrats lately.( "My heart bleeds for the Democrats in the state of Florida," he told Fox News Friday when asked about the Democratic National Committee insisting that the Jan. 29 presidential primary will be officially meaningless.) Maybe he'd consider.
So where will the Democratic presidential candidates be campaigning that weekend? Try Michigan - which happens to be the other state where Democrats are blowing off the DNC rules allowing only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to hold elections before Feb. 5. The divine Democratic overlords (state Democratic chairmen) in those four early states who organized the boycott of Florida and Michigan have deigned to allow the candidates to address the Arab American Institute's national leadership conference.
"We believe that the Arab-American community is an important constituency, and we are sensitive to your concerns. For this specific one pre-scheduled national event in Michigan, this request will be acceptable," wrote the merciful and all powerful early state chairmen.
A four-state axis of conventional evil
That kind of attitude by states smaller than some Florida counties naturally has some Democrats a tad perturbed. Senate Democratic leader Steve Geller last week called them "four terrorist states. You know, the axis of evil."
South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler, who played a lead role in drafting the DNC rules and candidate pledge not to campaign in Florida, said she feels bad about this, really she does, but everybody knew the rules from the start.
"I like Florida, and I love to go there, but I'm afraid to go down there right now. I'm afraid people might shoot me," she quipped.
Columnist sees Martinez leaving RNC post
Republican columnist Robert Novak writes that Florida Sen. Mel Martinez is likely to step down as general chairman of the Republican National Committee once someone locks up the presidential nomination, probably in February.
"When Martinez took the party post Jan. 19, it was expected he would stay on through the 2008 elections as the GOP's principal national spokesman," Novak wrote. "Many Republicans now grumble that Martinez has been ineffective in that role, partly because he has been drowned out by the many presidential hopefuls."
RNC spokesman Danny Diaz said Martinez will remain general chairman, focusing on key national issues and electing Republicans.
State Democrats ponder a test pledge
If Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada Democrats can pressure presidential candidates to sign a pledge not to campaign in Florida, maybe Florida Democrats should test their own might. The state party is looking at asking the presidential hopefuls to pledge that as the nominee they would help restore the 210 delegates to the national convention that the DNC is stripping away.
"Let's start putting them to the test," Democratic National Committee member Janee Murphy said in a conference call with receptive party leaders Saturday. "You think Florida's important? ... Have a pledge to us.
Dern is Harris in HBO drama, 'Variety' says
Variety reports that Laura Dern will play former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in HBO's upcoming drama Recount, about, well you know. Other cast members announced: Kevin Spacey as former Al Gore chief of staff Ron Klain, Denis Leary as Democratic operative Michael Whouley,Tom Wilkinson as Republican James Baker, Bob Balaban as the lead Bush/Cheney attorney Ben Ginsberg, and Ed Begley Jr. as the Democrats' lead attorney, David Boies.
'Frustrated' Florida voters still waiting
So how are Florida voters feeling these days about their state leaders? "They're frustrated. They're very frustrated," said state Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, noting that leaders have promised them big cuts in insurance premiums and property tax bills that haven't yet happened.
The first-term Republican spoke on Political Connections in an interview airing today at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.