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By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published December 9, 2007
Forget Iowa and New Hampshire. Florida voters are No. 1 after all.
Sunshine State absentee voters will be the first to vote in the presidential primary, according to a survey of elections deadlines across the country by Paul Gronke, an elections expert at Reed College in Oregon. Florida's deadline for sending out overseas absentee ballots is Christmas Day, though many supervisors are sending them earlier.
"Some counties may have them out in early December," said Stirling Ivey of the division of elections.
Other dates to keep in mind: Dec. 31 is the last day to register, or switch party registrations, for the Jan. 29 primary. Florida's in-person early voting sites open Jan. 14.
Poll says Clinton, Giuliani lead in state
For Hillary Clinton sweating it out in Iowa, Florida can't come soon enough. Quinnipiac University's Nov. 26-Dec. 3 Florida poll: Clinton 54 percent, Barack Obama 17 percent, John Edwards 7 percent.
Among Republicans, Rudy Giuliani gets 30 percent of Republican votes, with 12 percent for Mitt Romney, 11 percent for Mike Huckabee, 10 percent for Fred Thompson and 9 percent for John McCain.
In general election matchups, Clinton beat Giuliani 48 to 41 percent, though Giuliani led Clinton by 3 points in an October Quinnipiac poll.
Looking to the Sunshine State for money
Michelle Obama is heading to Florida this week for a trio of fundraisers. First up: a gathering Thursday at the Tampa home of Lynda and Donald Temple.
Then, on Friday afternoon, Mrs. Obama heads to Caren and Dick Lobo's home in Sarasota. That evening, she'll go to Coral Gables for a fundraiser.
'Political Connections' features Buchanan
Check out U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, today on Political Connections on Bay News 9. The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Romney all for ban on gay marriage
Romney, feeling the footsteps of Baptist preacher-turn-pol Huckabee, is trying to shore up support with Christian conservatives. And what better way than to declare support for the drive to ban gay marriage in Florida?
"In Florida, a ballot initiative has been proposed that would give constitutional protection to the definition of marriage as one man and one woman and prevent unelected activist judges from trying to invent and impose new laws that disregard the will of the people. I strongly support this initiative," the Republican presidential candidate said in an e-mail to supporters last week.
The Florida Democratic Party followed up with its own e-mail, recounting Romney's prior campaign promises to seek equality for homosexuals.
Making it official for Atwater?
Florida Senate Republicans plan to meet Tuesday evening in the Old Capitol to name the Republican Senate president-designate for 2008-2010. It's been expected for some time that Sen. Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach will be named the next president.
She likes Crist, but doesn't like him
The Buzz attended the fundraiser Charlie Crist and pal Donald Trump held at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Thursday. Amid the high rollers, Carole Rome, the woman a New York tabloid said is Crist's new girlfriend. We popped the question: Are you dating? "No, no, no. That's silly," Rome said, smiling as a friend pulled her away.
Moments later, Rome was at Crist's side, introducing him to friends. Crist talked to Rome for a while, gave her a hug and left with his entourage. And then probably headed straight to bed. Crist had an interview with the New Yorker at 8:30 Friday morning, followed by a tour of Goldman Sachs then a sit-down with Time magazine.
Despite denying any romance, Rome said she's a big fan of Crist's, who was in New York to raise money for to promote the property tax cut plan on the Jan. 29 ballot. "He's a wonderful man. He's doing wonderful things for Florida. I'm a Florida resident (Miami Beach), and I believe in him," Rome said.
Adam C. Smith and Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.
[Last modified December 8, 2007, 23:08:48]