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By Alex Leary, Adam C. Smith and John Frank, Times Staff Writers
Published March 2, 2008
[Ron Brackett | Times]
For a guy who keeps saying he's too focused on Florida to think about being John McCain's running mate, Charlie Crist finds a lot of time to talk to the national media about how he's so focused on Florida.
"POSSIBLE McCAIN RUNNING MATE," CNN emblazoned on its screen last week for an interview with our governor, who also sat down for extended interviews with the Hill and Politico.com in Washington.
Crist generated considerable grumbling for blowing off a South Florida civic fundraising commitment Saturday to socialize with McCain in Arizona, but changed his plans once this newspaper asked questions. Crist's clumsiness balancing his home state and too-obvious national ambitions helps swing the Veep-O-Meter backward this week.
A Mason-Dixon poll released last week suggested McCain may not need much help from Crist in Florida anyway. McCain was beating Barack Obama 47 percent to 37 percent in Florida and Hillary Clinton 49 percent to 40 percent.
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato noted last week on his widely read Web site that while Crist could guarantee Florida's 27 electoral votes for the GOP, "McCain is a natural for military-oriented FL, and he should be able to carry it himself."
People like Crist, but worry about the state
The governor enjoys 71 percent job approval rating, according to a new poll for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. But he shouldn't feel too good: Forty-seven percent say the state is on the wrong track while 38 percent believe the state is headed in the right direction. The statewide poll was conducted Feb. 12-14.
Agriculture commissioner seat a hot ticket
The election is in 2010, but there is no shortage of contestants for Florida agriculture commissioner. State Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, confirmed last week he is leaning toward running, as did Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis. Rep. Marty Bowen, R-Haines City, has already opened a campaign account.
And Democrats are quietly touting one of their own: U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd of Monticello. Boyd is a fifth-generation farmer and among the more conservative Dems on the Hill. He's also friendly with incumbent Charles Bronson.
Show gives a look at the upcoming session
Check out Political Connections today for a look at what's in store as the legislature starts its session. Republican state House Speaker Marco Rubio of Miami, state Rep. Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg, and Senate Majority Whip Mike Haridopolos of Melbourne are guests. The show airs on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
For state senator, a doctoral dustup
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Sen. Mike Haridopolos is not getting a doctorate in history from the University of Arkansas, as was described last week when he landed a $75,000 teaching gig at the University of Florida. The University of Arkansas said he has not been enrolled since 2000. The Melbourne Republican says he's transferring to FSU, and UF officials did not fault him. But the Florida Democratic Party did. "It seems the Republican recession has hit the state so hard that GOP senators are becoming more blatant about stretching the truth and blurring ethical lines to put a little more cash in their own pockets."
Ex-corrections chief heads to New Orleans
Jim McDonough's newest challenge, fresh off trying to rid the Florida Corrections Department of scandal: Figuring out how to serve the mentally ill in New Orleans when 80 percent of the local psychiatrists haven't returned after Hurricane Katrina. Hiring him for the task is none other than fellow Jeb Bush administration alumnus Alan Levine, who as Florida Agency for Health Care Administration secretary oversaw Florida hospitals' responses during the state's own spate of hurricanes in 2005.
Brown-Waite explains her absence
U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, said the reason was absent from Congress last week is to be with her husband, Harvey Waite, who has been diagnosed with cancer. "I plan on returning to Washington, D.C., as soon as we know more about Harvey's prognosis, and both of us look forward to the upcoming campaign for the 5th District House seat this fall."
This week's Buzz was compiled by Alex Leary, Adam C. Smith and John Frank.
[Last modified March 1, 2008, 22:50:36]