Monday, December 31, 2007

The Answer to Partisan Gridlock

We've been seeing a lot of crap about bipartisanship lately. There's going to be a meeting next week
challenging the major-party contenders to spell out their plans for forming a "government of national unity" to end the gridlock in Washington.
Well, I have an answer to partisan gridlock, and it ain't a "government of national unity".

Follow me below the fold for the surprisingly simple answer...

The answer to partisan gridlock is pretty simple, really. Here it is:
It's really not any more complicated than that. The Republicans certainly have not been looking to take the bipartisan road to solving our nation's problems. Consider this from the New York Times:
Now Republicans are in the minority, and they have been using skills honed while they were in charge, throwing up procedural roadblocks, forcing vulnerable Democrats to take difficult votes and just generally harrying members of the majority
does that sound bipartisan to you?

Matt Stoller also does a good job illustrating
what this bipartisanship is really about is undermining the public's ability to participate in policy-making.
Matt uses the famous 2003 $87 billion Iraq supplemental vote to make his point. Even though the public overwhelmingly opposed this funding, Congress , in a show of bipartisanship, passed this measure with huge, bipartisan majorities. This despite the fact that the public opposed the measure by a margin of 64% to 34% - 30 points!

In March of this year, The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007. The subheading for this report:
Political Landscape More Favorable To Democrats
On issue after issue, the trend of the American electorate is more and more progressive. This caused the good folks at Pew to write:
Increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies have improved the political landscape for the Democrats as the 2008 presidential campaign gets underway.

Even more striking than the changes in some core political and social values is the dramatic shift in party identification that has occurred during the past five years... Today, half of the public (50%) either identifies as a Democrat or says they lean to the Democratic Party, compared with 35% who align with the GOP.
The American electorate wants the government to work to solve the problems that face our country today. And they see progressive solutions as the way to to this. In order to give the American people what they want, we need more Dems in Congress and particularly in the Senate where it has become necessary to get 60 votes to move legislation forward. And we need a Democratic President to sign progressive legislative solutions into law instead of vetoing them.

To undo the damage that George W Bush and the Roadblock Republicans have done to this country, we don't need bipartisanship. We need more Democrats.

And when we give the Democrats the ball, they are going to need to run with it!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Forward to 2008

Since I did my look back at 2007 at Thanksgiving, as we enter this long New Year's weekend, I am looking forward to 2008. Man, am I ever!

First off, 2008 brings us the campaign to replace George W. Bush in the White House. It can't come a moment too soon for me. And it really does get out the gate right away with the Iowa Caucuses on January 3rd. Florida finally gets to weigh in when it still matters on January 29th. With all the controversy over going early, we are in a unique position to set the table for Super Duper Tuesday, one week later on February 5th. We could very well know who the nominees for both sides are going to be by the time the smoke clears that night. Or maybe not.

On the Democratic side, I think we have a much better chance of having our nominee decided on February 5th. MSNBC just showed a poll of Iowa Dems showing a literal dead heat with Edwards and Obama tied at 29% each with Clinton right behind at 28%. The winner in Iowa is likely to be propelled to victory from the momentum of an Iowa win. If it's Edwards that's a little less certain, but if it is either Obama or Clinton, my money would be that the winner there becomes the presumptive nominee on the night of February 5th.

The Republicans are much more muddled, but it really doesn't matter much. The Republican field is a slate of midgets compared to any one of the Dems, with the exception of John McCain, (who, believe it or not, is still in this thing) and he's the past, not the future.

The economy is likely to continue to go south through much of 2008 and that only helps the Dem nominee as the voters see us as much better on the bread and butter issues than the Republicans. And any kind of terrorist or other foreign policy "surprise" (October or otherwise) can easily be shown to remind people that after 8 years of Republican "leadership", their efforts have failed to make us safer. Even allowing for our Democratic propensity to screw things up, I just can't see any one of the Goper candidates actually defeating any one of our three top Dems in 2008.

In Congress, I see the same dynamics lifting Dems to big victories in both the House and the Senate. Everything that applies to the Presidential race applies to the congressional races. The lineup of open seats heavily favors the Dems. And, surprise of all surprises, the Democratic Campaign Committees in both the House and the Senate are kicking the crap out of their GOP counterparts in the money raised department.

In Florida, the only Dem who is even threatened is Tim Mahoney in FL-16. However, the Gopers are going to have a nasty primary fight and the winner will be broke coming out of that mess. Mahoney will be there waiting and sitting on north of $2 million. I just don't see him getting beat.

Christine Jennings has an excellent chance to defeat Vern Buchanan in FL-13 (again). CQ Politics has FL-8, FL-15 and FL-24 as Republican favored, but we've got a good chance to pick up one or even two of those seats as we have excellent candidates in FL-8 and FL-24. On top of that, I'm predicting a Democratic surprise victory or perhaps even two. In total, we could pick up as many as 4 House seats in Florida.

In the Florida Legislature, the rising tide is likely going to do nothing but help lift Dem candidates all up and down the ticket all over the state. Here in the Tampa Bay area, where we did so well in 2006, our best chance to pick up at least one more state House seat is with Carl Zimmerman in HD-48. Carl faces first termer Peter Nehr who he came oh so close to beating in 2006.

As far as I'm concerned, 2008 can't get here soon enough. Neither, for that matter, can January 20th, 2009.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Wish for Florida Kossacks

In this season of peace and good will, I wish you peace. Peace for you and yours, and peace for our country.

Unfortunately, we will not be getting peace until January 20, 2009. And for that we must work our tails off to make sure that we elect Democrats. We need to elect a Democratic President. We need to elect as many more Democrats in the US Senate as we possibly can. And we need to elect more Democrats to the US House of Representatives.

But for this holiday season, let's just all enjoy our family and friends. And in the spirit of the season, let's all try to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Small Biz Likes Hillary, But

Last Friday, masslib posted this diary titled "Hillary Favored by Small Business Leaders". masslib had picked up this story about MarketTools Inc.'s Zoomerang online survey of small business leaders. And the diary was quite right that Hillary Clinton was favored for President by 22% of the survey respondents with Rudy Giuliani coming in second at 17%. That diary drew quite a number of comments (90 as of this writing).

However, I found the press release
on the Inc.-Zoomerang Entrepreneurial Report. And to my mind, there is much bigger news in this report than the fact that Hillary is first choice of 22% of the survey respondents.

How can that be, you say? Follow me below the jump...

Some of you of you may remember that I have advocated before that small business leaders are a constituency for the taking for Democratic candidates. In my diary last year, How to Talk to Small Business People , I wrote:
Small Business People also vote overwhelmingly Republican. They are mistaken in their understanding of what the Republican Party stands for (by its deeds, not by its words).
Well, this survey indicates that small business people are finally getting it! Here is the subtitle to the aforementioned Zoomerang press release:
Independent Voters and Health Care
Put Republicans at Risk of Losing Traditionally Loyal Constituency
In fact, the survey numbers show Republicans and Democrats in a dead heat for the votes of small business leaders. Considering that a US Chamber of Commerce survey taken in the lead-up to the 2004 election found that
77% of small businesses said that re-electing President George W. Bush would have a positive impact on their businesses
running neck and neck with the Republicans at this stage is huge.

But the news for Democrats gets better yet. This constituency is there for the taking. All they need is someone to talk to them. Again from the Inc.-Zoomerang Entrepreneurial Report:
85 percent believe that the current crop of presidential candidates do not focus enough on their issues.
80 percent of the business leaders surveyed feel that government doesn’t do enough to help growing business and is more focused on big business.
Small business people are finally getting it. They now are starting to understand that the Republican Party is and always has been the party of big business, not small business. Here's another tidbit from the survey that is very enlightening - 71% of small business leaders surveyed believe that aggressive corporate lobbying hurts competition.

Democratic candidates need to speak directly to the concerns of these small business leaders. Look at this from the
Inc.-Zoomerang press release:
In another surprising turnaround, the report shows that this traditionally anti-tax and anti-regulatory constituency today chooses health care as the number one issue impacting their vote. A majority, 57 percent, say that a regulated health care system would be good for growing businesses.
Now there's an issue that belongs to the Democrats if there ever was one.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gators - Noles - Voter Turnout?

Today is the day the Florida legislature wrought - the annual UF - FSU football game. Back in the day when FSU was recovering from its start in life as the Florida State College for Women, The University of Florida had no interest in engaging the FSU upstarts on the gridiron. It actually took the threat of a legislative mandate for the Gators to agree to play the girls school. But what a rivalry it has become!

Ok having got that out of the way, what in the heck does that have to do with voter turnout? Well, people are going to turn out in droves for the game today. Florida Field will be jammed to the rafters with well over 90,000 in the stands. The bars will be packed with Noles and Gator fans cheering for their teams. And the number of game day parties are literally too numerous to count. And all for a football game? Well, yeah.

The game will be played, one team will win and secure the bragging rights for the year. But other than that, will the game really affect your life all that much? Answer - no, not really.

But how about the impact of the next person to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Or the next Member of Congress from the _ _ District of Florida? Or the next state legislator or Governor? How do we get people as fired up for these things that truly make a difference in our lives as they do for the big game?

That may actually be the answer - convincing potential voters that they can make a difference. You would think that it wouldn't be that hard to do in Florida, of all places. After all, just seven years ago, 537 votes made all the difference in the world. Yet we still get elections like the recent special election for the state House where only 3.5% of the registered voters in Broward County bothered to vote. Or the recent City Council elections in St. Petersburg where we got a whopping 11% voter turnout. And those are just the registered voters. Who knows what a miserable number it would be if we were measuring all potentially eligible voters?

Well, I'll tell you it doesn't help when we get quotes like this:
"She's relentless and she knows Iowa," Davis said. "She's terrific at organizing volunteers and building grass roots. In a state like Iowa, that's important. Florida is more of a TV state where field operations don't matter as much."
That was Jim Davis talking about his campaign manager, Jennifer O'Malley, who is now John Edwards State Director in Iowa. Well, you know I love ya Jim, but those kind of quotes don't help us much. Field operations always matter. And to my way of thinking, they actually matter more in Florida than they do in Iowa. That's because everybody gets it in Iowa and they go all out on their ground game. Here, the team with the better ground game stands a much better chance of winning.

Even Joe Biden, who's campaign manager used to be the Executive Director of the FDP doesn't get it:
"You can't campaign like this in Florida," said Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware. "What do you have, 17-million people? In the last two years, I will have probably met with 60,000 Iowans who plan to caucus. Only in a small state can you do that."

Well, sure you can, Joe. You just need to turn as many of those 60,000 folks as you can into volunteers for you. You don't do it because you don't try. And if you don't try, you don't win.

I assure you, those young men on the field in Gainesville today will be trying.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How to Run a Primary Campaign Without the Candidates

OK, it's Thanksgiving and football games haven't started yet, so I've got a couple minutes on my hands. Let me pose this question: How do we run presidential primary campaigns here in Florida without the candidates?

Florida's presidential preference primary will be held on January 29th. That's just 67 days away. And it will be one week before Super Duper Tuesday on February 5th when so many other states are going to vote. So Florida's voice will have influence this cycle.

The question becomes, how do we begin to make this a fair contest in Florida if the candidates can't campaign here?

This diary is not about all the silliness that has brought us to this point. This diary really is about how do supporters of the various candidates actually mount campaigns without the overt presence of the campaigns and the candidates?

Since we are going to go before Super Duper Tuesday, and our results will be all over the media for that week, what are we going to do to make sure that the voters get a chance to really know the candidates before they go into the voting booth?

You will notice that so far this diary is full of questions and not any answers. I really don't purport to have the answers and I want to hear from y'all. I do have the thought that as members of the Florida blogosphere community and with our commitment to Blog Florida Blue, that we ought to be thinking about how to make that happen.

And we better do it quickly.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks for a Wonderful Year

Yes, Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. I am thankful for many things, including the past year (almost) that Florida Kossacks has been in existence. So, I thought I'd get a jump start on the New Year's look back posts and do mine now at Thanksgiving and as we approach the one year anniversary of the Florida Kossacks blog.

It all started on November 28, 2006 my __th birthday. And as the first post said:
We can blame this whole thing on Susan S. She thought a Tampa Bay Kossack email list would be a good thing to put together after the election. I thought that was such a good idea that I have been trying to expand it across Florida.
Maybe that is why Susan S was named Netroots Activist of the Year? Well, probably not the only reason.

Before November 2006 was out, we went on to blog about the FL-13 Re-Vote Rally and the word on the street about Florida moving up it's Presidential Preference Primary. Have we been talking about that for a whole year?

Tally kicked off December 2006 with a couple of extremely thoughtful posts titled The Future and The Plan. Tally, where ya been buddy? We miss ya.

December went on the bring the start of my "How to Talk to" series. (I need to get back to that.) The series in December included How to Talk to Fear Mongers, How to Talk to the Main Stream Media and How to Talk to Small Business People. More on small business people in the very near future. Stay tuned.

December ended with a couple of very silly predictions posts here and here. At least I got the things about the Florida Gators winning national championships and Al Gore winning the Oscar right.

As this year started, I blogged about taking local action. We also had the special election in HD-3, which Tally blogged here and here. We lost that special election because we did not get our vote out. This caused me to write about one of my really pet peeves in What Every So Called Political Professional Needs to Know .

In March we got a significant victory as Mary Mulhern was elected to the Tampa City Council, defeating an incumbent Republican. And if you don't do anything else, check out the video of Mitch Kates at the Mulhern victory party. If that doesn't get you fired up, I don't know what will.

And of course in the spring we also had the regular session of the Florida Legislature. There was a lot of talk, but no action, on property taxes at this session. Seems this is something else we are still talking about. We did get paper ballots and the beginning of the messy debate about moving up the presidential preference primary.

It was in early May, however, that what I feel is the most significant piece of the year was posted on this blog. Blog Florida Blue starts out like this:

Last week, representatives from the Florida Progressive Coalition , Florida Netroots and Florida Kossacks held a conference call with staff from the Florida Democratic Party. The topic of the call was upcoming opportunities for bloggers to interact with the FDP, particularly at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in June and at the FDP Convention in October.

It wasn't the post, really, that was significant as it was the meeting and what came out of it. Meowmissy had gotten a ball rolling that resulted in the Bloggers / Netroots Luncheon at the FDP's Jefferson Jackson weekend in June, the Netroots Conference at the FDP Convention in October and the formation and official induction of the FDP Netroots Coalition as an official part of the Florida Democratic Party! And of course, we came up with this wonderful logo

for good measure.

We just came off local elections here in St. Petersburg (see, we're still talking about property taxes) and we are looking intently at the polls for the Florida Presidential Preference Primary on January 29th (still talking about that too.) But I just want to say that I am really thankful for all the new great Democrats I met this year, both online and off. I am really thankful for all the great Democrats I knew before this year as well. I am thankful that , together, we have the opportunity to make a real difference in the elections next year and if we do continue to work together, we will make that difference.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Latest Florida Mason-Dixon Poll

The latest Mason-Dixon poll has the top tier Republican presidential candidates beating Hillary Clinton in the Florida general ection.

Giuliani - 50
Clinton - 43

Romney - 46
Clinton - 45

Thompson - 48
Clinton - 44

The poll shows one in five voters will not vote for a Democrat because of the candidate boycott and the DNC stripping Florida of delegates. Ouch.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Capitol Idea

The Republican Presidential hopefuls are going to be at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petrsburg on Thursday, November 28th. They may alternatively make you mad, sad, glad (that this is the best the Gopers could come up with ) or sick. Who knows, they might even make you laugh.

But, if you want to be at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and surely laugh, then the night you want to be there is December 3rd. That's when the Capitol Steps will be performing. This is the song and dance troupe made up of Capitol Hill staffers and they are a hoot! No subject is taboo for them and they take everybody and anybody on in a satirical, lyrical way.

Here's all the pertinent info:

People from Washington who actually mean to be funny!

Capitol StepsPolitical Satire at its Finest
presented by Suncoast Tiger Bay Club
Monday, December 3, 7:40 PM
Mahaffey Theater at Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts
400 First ST S, St. Petersburg
Tickets $25, $30 and $35
Charge by phone 727-898-2100, buy online at,
or available at the Box Office
For more info:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jeer on the GOP Presidential Hopefuls

This just in from the Pinellas DEC:

Protest Rally in St Peterburg's Pioneer Park - If you saw the St. Pete Times yesterday you would see that the local Republican Party will be hosting a 'pep rally' outside of the UTube Debates on November 28th. However, what you did not read is that many people who oppose the Republican party and its agenda will be rallying at Pioneer Park on this same day. Unlike our Repulican counterparts, you can vote in a straw poll and it WON'T cost you a penny. Many groups will be represented at this rally.

If you are interested in joining us, please let us know.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Local Elected Officials - Please Stand Up

This past week has given us some important pieces of information about the voter mind set in Florida. I hope our local elected officials throughout the state will take a close look at the tea leaves and then do something very important. Stand up!

Municipal elections were held throughout Florida last week. In St. Petersburg, two incumbents were on the ballot. Both were reelected. One of them, Jamie Bennett, through a quirk of fate and St. Pete's wacky election code, was actually running against "New Election ". That's about as straight up a "throw the bum out" choice as you are going to get. Bennett won with 82% of the vote.

In Largo, only one incumbent was on the ballot. Largo is an interesting place because earlier this year, Largo used the super majority authority the legislature granted, and did not roll back its property taxes as much as it was otherwise required to do. The incumbent, Harriet Crozier, won with 72% of the vote.

The other interesting news came from a poll commissioned by various Florida media, including the St. Petersburg Times. This poll is not a pretty picture for the Republican run Florida Legislature. Only 53% of respondents said they would vote yes on their proposed property tax constitutional amendment. Typically this is perceived as the kiss of death.
That's because the initial polling for an amendment usually is the high water point for it's poll numbers. And remember, constitutional amendments now require a 60% super majority vote to pass.

But it gets worse for the legislators. 44% of respondents believe Florida is on the wrong track. Only 34% believe we are on the right track. A whopping 77% of respondents rated the legislature's performance on property tax relief as only fair or poor.

But here is the crux of the legislature's real problem. Fully 77% of respondents believe they will see little, if any, property insurance relief as a result of our legislature's reforms of earlier this year. In my opinion, this is something the legislators have known all along. And that is why they have been on this unending campaign to demonize local elected officials as "spending like drunken sailors." They needed to do something to take the heat off them for their failure on property insurance reform.

Now is the time for our local elected officials to stand up. Stand up and tell your constituents to let their legislators know what they really think of their cockamamie property tax reform efforts. The election results tell you that the voters like what you incumbents have been doing. The poll results tell you the legislature's credibility is in the toilet.

Stand up and push back. The voters are on your side.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Year Out

This week marked the date that put us one year out from the November 2008 elections. Much has been written on this subject already. As I have looked at some of these pieces and reflected on the election that just passed this week in my hometown of St. Petersburg, I have been thinking about what this next 12 months will bring us.

The landscape nationally seems to clearly favor November 2008 as being a very happy time for Democrats. That's because one year out polls have been pretty good at predicting presidential winners. All the polling done one year out is predicting a Democratic victory in the race for the White House. Similarly, the generic polling for Congress is giving Democrats the edge.

So, am I just a nervous nellie or is it legitimate to worry about what we could do to mess this up? Actually, I'm more interested in thinking about what we have to do to make sure that we'll be celebrating the happy results a year from now.

We must guard against complacency. While the generic polling is looking pretty good for Democrats, actual head to head polling is not nearly as pretty. Rudy Guiliani currently polls within the margin of error against all 3 leading Democratic candidates. When you get to Congressional races, the popularity of the incumbent figures prominently into the outlook for those races. That and gerrymandering make both Congressional and State legislative races much more of an open question.

Don't get me wrong. I am not all doom and gloom here. In fact I think things are looking pretty damn good for Dems in this upcoming election cycle. All I am trying to say here is that these elections will not be handed to us.

We must make sure we get out and do the work that is necessary to get our Democratic candidates elected. Precincts need to be organized. Volunteers must be courted and money must be raised. And of course, we should continue blogging away in order to

Friday, November 2, 2007

ALWAYS Follow the Money!

"Follow the money" has been my mantra since childhood. My father explained that you always had to consider who benefited from any action or decision. That said, I've have failed to properly apply that time honored tradition of following the money to one of the last decade's most controversial issues. Stem cell research. I've always taken it for granted that our leaders were opposed to stem cell research because either (a) they thought it immoral or (b) because it would bring in money and votes from those who thought it immoral.

Both a and b do apply but the really big money reason eluded me until today. I was kicking back to watch Beyond Tomorrow on the Science channel (yeah, I'm that annoying guy with all the answers in their commercials) when up came a piece on a new heart treatment. Medical researchers had done a study wherein heart patients facing imminent death from heart failure were offer a one chance "If it works you live; if is doesn't..." treatment.

What was this new treatment? Stem cells that were injected directly into the heart muscle. In some cases the stem cells were used in conjunction with traditional surgical procedures but the really interesting results came when using the stem cells without the surgery. In both cases the results were dramatically improved outcomes.

Prompting Belinda Linden, Head of Medical Information, British Heart Foundation to say, "Most current treatments are aimed at relieving the symptoms; if we can actually repair the heart itself this will be a significant advancement."

The "ah ha moment" for me came when another doctor said the new stem cell treatment has the potential to eliminate the need for prescription medications to treat heart disease. There it was. While I was focused on the small change of political contributions, it was the pharmaceutical industry's huge potential losses that are the money I should have followed.

This new science doesn't just apply to the treatment of heart disease. These new stem cell therapies could provide real cures that eliminate lots of types prescription medications. For years I've been annoying my doctor friends by pointing out that they are only focused on treatment and not cures. Well, stems cells could change all that and that must scare the hell out of Big Pharma.

Don't take my word for it. Google - stem cell heart treatment.

Here endith the lesson - in this case my lesson.

Cross posted on DailyKos

Blog Focus on Florida

Praxis has a post up now titled We need more attention on state politics. Here is how the Praxis post describes "state politics":
State politics involves the state legislature, cabinet, governor, and state bureaucracy.
While I don't quarrel with the sentiment, I do have a little to say about the definition and the complaint itself.

First of all, I was a little taken aback that Praxis notes that Florida Kossacks had only 5 posts in October. Wow. For a guy who just stood up and told people that to build readership, one should post early and often, that's more than a little embarrassing. However, in my defense, I have noted that I have been consulting on City Council elections in my hometown of St. Petersburg. But only 5 posts? Oh my, I'll have to start doing better than that.

But Praxis says that by its definition, none of the 5 posts were about state politics. That's where I differ a little bit. I'd say that 2 of the 5 posts are on state politics. Just not by the definition in the Praxis post. In We're Official!: Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition, I am blogging about the Florida Democratic Party's decision to include the Netroots coalition in the official structure of the state party. That's pretty much state level, no?

And in From the White House to the Court House , I blogged about a possible rallying cry for campaigns all over the state in 2008. Neither of these meet the definition of state level politics as outlined by Praxis. I would argue that the Praxis definition is too narrow. State party level politics are state politics. So is talking about tactics and strategy in the state. There really is more to state politics than just the government.

I would also argue that people ought to blog about what people are moved to blog about. I don't want to get into a long discourse about why people might not be blogging about the state legislature as much as we would all like. I might suggest that a lot of us are commenting on the St. Pete Times Buzz blog, which covers state politics quite extensively, for one thing. But as it says on our masthead here, Florida Kossacks is:
A gathering spot for Florida Kossacks to keep in touch with issues of primary concerns to Floridians, or whatever else Florida Kossacks might think worthwhile.
I am looking forward to having a little more time to be blogging about state issues after our elections on Tuesday, but I really think it might be on Praxis and others to go out and maybe recruit some people into the blogosphere whose main interests are state politics.

Others of us may be moved to blog about issues at all levels of government.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What a Week in the Florida Blogosphere


What a week it has been in the Florida Blogosphere! Well, if you want to start a week on Friday and end it on Thursday, that is.

This week in the Florida Blogoshpere started off in Orlando and ended up in the Wall Street Journal!

Follow me for a recap of the week that was...WOW!

On Friday, Florida Democratic Netroots activists began gathering in Orlando for the Florida Democratic Party 2007 Convention. Normally the convention in the year prior to a presidential election is all about the Democratic presidential candidates. But because of the flap over Florida's January 29th primary date, only Mike Gravel came to see us. However, the convention was far from a bust.

Included as a part of the convention was an afternoon long Netroots Conference on Saturday. This conference had a standing room audience all afternoon long. As we moved from panel to panel and as people came and went, hundreds of Florida Democrats took in some or all of the Netroots Conference.

The Conference began with a Florida Progressive Coalition blog talk radio interview with none other than one Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos. There followed the panel discussions on blogging and netroots activism. The conference proper ended up with a rousing talk from our keynote speaker, Matt Stoller of Open Left and BlogPac.

Matt was moved to say some very nice things about the Florida Blogosphere and netroots activists:

I met the most wonderful people in Florida yesterday, and though I've become immensely cynical of late, the people-powered revolution quietly sweeping through the party was clearly in evidence. ... The whole Democratic Party is actually in transition, and I was impressed with the talent I met. The Florida netroots, who are simply amazing, raved about Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink as a star and a future Governor. I spent some time chatting with state Senator Dave Aronberg and candidate Michael Calderin. Both are eminently comfortable with blogs, with Facebook,and with the open form of politics that is on the ascent.

The feeling I got was one of renewal. ... The Florida netroots is growing, and you can find a list of blogs off of the Florida Progressive Coalition blogroll. I was so impressed I joined the Florida netroots caucus with a $35 contribution.

The Netroots conference was followed by the Netroots / DFA / Progressives soiree which ended up being addressed by none other than the aforesaid Mike Gravel. But the highlight for me came when the winners of the 1st Annual Florida Netroots Awards were announced.

On Sunday, The Florida Democratic Party made the FDP Netroots Coalition an officially recognized organization within the Party. The FDP Netroots Coalition is organized like an interest group caucus within the Party. Among it's purposes:

Section 1 - It shall be the policy of this coalition, in the execution of all endeavors, to contribute to the growth and influence of the Democratic Party, to establish and maintain a Democratic online community, and to promote the party and all party candidates for Democratic leadership throughout the state and nation.

Section 2 - We further resolve to assist and encourage Florida Democrats, including clubs, county, and grassroots organizations to get online and establish a communication network and promote online participation among Democrats.

Thanks again to Phillip Perry and Mark Bubriski at the FDP and to FDP Chair Karen Thurman for reaching out to embrace the Democratic netroots activists in Florida.

On Monday, it was back to the real world of working to get Democrats elected to office. But the Florida Blogosphere was a Buzz with every one's take on the FDP Convention and the Netroots conference. Florida Netroots blog has a good roundup of the MSM press coverage of the convention.

And then today (Thursday), an amazing thing happened. The Wall Street Journal linked to this Florida Kossacks blog in a Page One story online about the influence of the blogosphere on the presidential campaign. Of course, being MSM, they got it wrong. They confused our Blog Florida Blue branding effort with the FDP Netroots Coalition. But, hey, they didn't spell my name wrong! Actually, they didn't spell my name at all. The story was mainly about the Blue Hampshire blog, an influential Democratic blog in New Hampshire.

But the Florida Blogosphere is getting noticed and we are making a difference. So let's get out there and

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From the White House to the Court House

I just replied to a comment to my posting on DailyKos about the approval of the FDP Netroots Coalition this weekend. Here is the sequence:
Great job guys! Go kick some sunshine state ass! (2+ / 0-)

I want a blue Florida in 2008!

I'm supporting Chris Dodd, and his plan to create the Rapid Response Reserve

by Skulnick on Wed Oct 31,
2007 at 10:22:39 AM EDT

And my reply:

We are planning on kicking a lot of ass in 2008, from the White House to the Court House, we are going to be kicking Republican ass all over this state in 2008.

So it just struck me that maybe here is an unofficial (and somewhat uncouth) rallying cry for this campaign cycle in Florida:

From the White House to the Court House,

We are going to be kicking Republican ass all over this state in 2008.
Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We're Official!: Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition

On Sunday, October 28, 2007, the Florida Democratic Party Central Committee approved the recommendation of the Committee on Clubs, Caucuses and Organizations to grant approval to the charter application of the Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition.

We are now an officially recognized organization within the Florida Democratic Party!!!!!

Congratulations to all those who had a hand in this achievement, especially meowmissy, Ken Quinnell, our Presidente, and everyone who worked so hard to get us to this point. I also want to extend a special thanks to Phillip Perry, Internet Technology Director, and Mark Bubriski, Communications Director of the FDP. Thanks also to FDP Chair Karen Thurman who went along with this crazy idea to embrace netroots activists within the party!

Now the real work of the FDP Netroots Coalition begins. We will soon be unveiling our website and will be meeting (online, of course) to map out our goals and objectives for 2008. So for all of you who wish to be an official part of the FDP Netroots Coalition, I have a request of you:


We will soon have a PayPal account available, but for now, the $35 annual dues can be paid by snail mail to the FDP Netroots Coalition at the following address:

FDP Netroots Coalition

P.O. Box 1856

St. Petersburg, FL 33731

Thanks to all of you who already paid at the convention, including Matt Stoller. And yes, Matt, you do owe me an email. That's because for campaign finance reporting purposes, I need your name, and address and just in case you want to contribute more than the $35 annual dues, I also need your occupation.
We have a lot of work to do if we are going to

so I hope to see those checks start rolling in!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Down on the Hustings - More Local Politics

I can't believe it has been over a month since my last post on DKos. But what a month it has been in local politics in the City of St. Petersburg. The last post was a rundown on our City Council elections, which will be on November 6th. Follow me below the jump, and I'll bring you up to date on what has been happening in our little corner of the world.

First let me do a little quick recap and a correction. St. Petersburg, Florida's 4th largest city, is a city of about 250,000 folks on the west coast of Florida. It's eastern boundary is Tampa Bay, so that puts us in the Tampa Bay area, the western terminus of Florida's infamous "I-4 Corridor". Our county, Pinellas, (pop approx 1 million) is the westernmost county in the corridor, Florida's swing area of the state. In 2000, Pinellas went for Al Gore by about 10,000 votes. In 2004, it went for George W Bush. So we are the swing county in the swing region in the swing state of the country. Just a bunch of swingers is what we are.

But St. Petersburg, which occupies the southernmost part of our county, is actually a fairly solid blue city. The map of legislative seats in the southern half of Pinellas County is almost solidly blue. The sole exception to this are the state House and Senate seats (1 each) which also include the beach communities on the barrier islands.

In St. Petersburg, we have a strong Mayor and City Council form of government. While the Mayor, Rick Baker, is a conservative Republican, 5 of the 8 seats on the officially nonpartisan city council are now held by Democrats. There is now one Independent, who most often votes with the Dems and but two Republicans remaining on the Council. To get to my count of Dems on the Council in my previous diary, I miscounted the Independent as a Dem.

This party lineup of 5 Dems, One Independent and two Rs is not likely to change after November 6th unless something (else) really strange happens. I say something else really strange because we have had several really strange happenings in this election cycle in St. Petersburg.

The first really strange thing was the sudden resignation and then suicide of the City Council Chairperson. This occurred on the Friday before the September 11th City Council primary elections. John Bryan was accused in family court of having improper physical contact with his his teen aged adopted daughter. He resigned his City Council seat and committed suicide the following day.

The vacancy in the Distrcit 2 Council seat was filled last Thursday when the City Council selected attorney James Kennedy, a Democrat, from among the five applicants for the seat. Again, although officially nonpartisan, the 4 Democrats on the council voted for Kennedy, while the two Republicans and the Independent voted for the lone Republican applicant. Thus, the District 2 seat was flipped to Democratic, as John Bryan had been a Republican (albeit of the moderate, not right wing Christian nut case type). Kennedy will serve out the remaining two years on John Bryan's term. And that's how 4 Dems got to be 5.

The other strange thing happened in the District 5 council race. Incumbent Jamie Bennett won his primary with 67% of the vote and advanced to the general election facing political newcomer Chris Kelly. In St. Petersburg, if more than two candidates file for a seat, a district only primary is held. The top two vote getters then advance to a city wide general election. But here's where things really got weird, as if they weren't weird enough already.

Chris Kelly dropped out of the race claiming exhaustion. It is tough to campaign in Florida in the summer time, but that was just very strange. What happened next is even stranger. A long forgotten provision of City Code declared that Kelly's name would be replaced on the ballot by the phrase "New Election". That's right, "New Election." Had the third person in the primary received 20% of the vote, her name would have gone on the ballot as a replacement for Kelly. But since she received only 14%, the city code dictated "New Election." What this means is if the voters decide not to retain Council Member Bennett in office, they can vote to hold a brand new election for this seat, starting from scratch with a primary.

The result of this is a pretty much straight up or down "throw the bum out" vote. You don't get to see this very often. We actually have a "retention" vote for judges in Florida, but nobody really knows much about them anyway. This is very unusual and it comes at an interesting time. In the state of Florida right now, we have the Republican dominated legislature busy demonizing local governments as tax and spend scoundrels, just wastefully spending away a bonanza in property taxes that had been provided by rising property values in Florida.

No matter that this very same legislature required local school boards to raise property taxes by $500 million this year. At the same time they required county and municipal governments to roll back their property tax rates and have been trying to get a "tax reform" state constitutional amendment on the January 29th Presidential Primary ballot.

This is our legislature's 3rd shot at property tax "reform" this year. They failed to accomplish it during the regular session in the spring. They thought they had something in a special session earlier this year. However, a state judge ruled that the ballot summary our legislature wrote about their proposed constitutional amendment was unconstitutionally vague and misleading. Now they are back at it again. Lord only knows what they will come up with. But through it all, to cover up their failure to provide meaningful property insurance relief, our Republican dominated state legislature has been painting local elected officials as tax and spend villains.

That brings us back to the city council race of Jamie Bennett vs "New Election". Council Member Bennett has been one of the more vocal critics of the legislators meddling with local governments ability to set their own millage rates to meet their communities needs as they see fit. The vilification of local electeds by our legislators did not seem to have a major impact on his primary. As mentioned above, Council Member Bennett got 67% of the vote in his district primary. Perhaps that kind of popularity is why no organized effort for "New Election" has emerged as of this date. Maybe the local voters like the job their local elected officials are doing. Maybe a big win for Jamie Bennett should be a message to our legislators that they are barking up the wrong tree in their so called "tax reform" efforts.

Now if they could only put this amount of energy into truly reforming property insurance in this state...

Full Disclosure: I am a paid fundraiser for Council Member Bennett's campaign, as well as for two other council candidate's campaigns. Part of the reason I have not been on these pages much lately.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stupidest email yet from Tom Feeney (R-FL-Abramoff)

While I certainly don't enjoy hearing from Tom Feeney in any medium, the sad fact is, he's my Congressman and I need to keep track of what he's up to. I've been subscribed to his email list for a couple years, and when I see his name in my inbox, can always count on being amused, annoyed, disgusted, angered, confused, or some combination of those emotions. Not to mention, he's been known to make factual errors and misrepresentations in these emails (shocking, I know), and I've even been compelled to write back to him with corrections on a couple of occasions. The most recent one was earlier this year when ol' Tom perpetuated the childish misnomer "Democrat Party." I gently informed him that the correct phrase is "Democratic Party" and suggested he have his staff more carefully proofread these emails before they get sent, because otherwise his constituents just might think he's ignorant.

Tom regularly rails against teh ileegul imagrintsOHN0EZ!@@!! and is proud of his anti-SCHIP vote. But this week's email really took the cake. My first reaction on seeing the subject line was, "The hell?" as it made no sense to me whatsoever. Anyway, here it is in all its glory, for your own WTF?ing pleasure:

Member of Congress
24th District, Florida

Financial Services Committee
Judiciary Committee
Science Committee

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

October 11, 2007

Contact: Pepper Pennington

Capitol Architect No Longer Censors Architect of the Universe

(Oviedo, FL) - U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Oviedo) was pleased that the Architect of the Capitol, Mr. Stephen T. Ayers is now allowing "God" on flag certificates. Earlier this week, Rep. Feeney expressed his frustration with reports that flag certificates using the word "God" were being censored by the Architect of the Capitol. Mr. Ayers had reportedly informed several congressional offices that the use of the word “God” violates the Architect’s rules prohibiting religious references on flag certificates.

"I'm pleased that the Architect of the Capitol is no longer censoring the Architect of the Universe. Fortunately, he responded to congressional pressure and public outcry and decided that 'God' may now be used in flag certificates.

"I was outraged earlier this week to learn that Americans are censored because they want to fly a flag over the Capitol and express their faith or even say something as simple as 'for the love of God, family, and Country.'

"I want to thank my colleagues for joining me to sign a letter to Speaker Pelosi that reminds the Architect of his authority and the scope of his office. The Capitol contains many religious symbols and now Speaker Pelosi needs to condemn the censorship," said Feeney.

Rep. Feeney's office offers a flag service to constituents. This is a very popular service where Central Floridians can purchase flags to be flown over the United States Capitol. The flags are also accompanied by certificates from the office of the Architect of the Capitol that details the date and the occasion that the flag was flown.

Rep. Feeney signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking for an immediate review of the authority under which the Architect is making these rules, as well as the reversal of this policy which censors our citizens’ right to expressions of their faith.

When I first read that subject line prior to opening his email, all that came to mind was Masters of the Universe. Now, I freely confess to never being a particular fan of the MOTU franchise, but I do at least know He-Man, She-Ra, and Skeletor. But which one was the Architect, and what powers did he possess? Could he speed-read blueprints? Mix thousands of tons of concrete with his bare hands? Keep the nation's infrastructure from collapsing? (That last one certainly would come in handy these days!)

Then I realized, of course, that Tom was talking about God. What a buzzkill, especially after momentarily thinking our crumbling infrastructure would be mysteriously repaired overnight, with the only clue as to whom accomplished this monumental task being "AotU" scrawled into the cement before it dried. (He couldn't have used just "AU," of course, lest the credit mistakenly be ascribed to Americans United.)

It never hurts to remind everyone that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has listed Feeney among its most corrupt Congressmen since practically the day he took office. I'm still supporting Clint Curtis for FL-24, and there's now a DCCC-recruited challenger, former FL state Representative Suzanne Kosmas.

I look forward to one of these candidates winning FL-24 in 2008 and thus relieving me of further WTF? email moments, as least as far as Tom Feeney is concerned. I get too many of those moments without his help.

Race tracker wiki: FL-24

[crossposted to my Daily Kos diary]

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Presidential Primary - Adam: Our Votes WILL Count

Well, Adam Smith is at it again. In a front page article in today's St. Petersburg Times, Adam again makes the assertion:
Florida Democrats stand to be the only voters in America whose votes won't count toward picking a presidential nominee.
This is just not true. Let me be perfectly clear about this, because Adam remains fixated on this. Adam is wrong. Florida's votes will count.

On January 29th, 2008, Florida Democrats will go to the polls and express their preference for the Democratic Presidential Nominee. We will do this before most of the other states have done so. After our votes are counted, and they will be counted, the rest of the country will hear and will be influenced by the Florida results.

That is exactly the goal all Floridians have had in mind when the whole discussion of moving the primary date up began. Floridians were sick and tired of having our nominees selected by small, non diverse states. We were getting stuck with candidates whose plan to win in the South was to win New Hampshire. My apologies to my friends in Massachusetts, but Democrats lost two presidential elections we might have won because these small non diverse states picked nominees who could not win in Florida. Now Floridians are going to have a real voice in who our Party's nominee is going to be.

Here is something else to keep in mind. The Presidential candidates do not go to Iowa and New Hampshire for the massive number of delegates they win by competing there. They go there because these states are first and thus have major influence on the entire process. Florida will now share in that influence.

Our voices will be heard and our votes will count.

Friday, September 28, 2007

FCAN Jib Jabs Legislators

Florida Consumer Action Network has posted a Jib Jab video on You Tube that is just too funny for words. They are taking their pokes at State Senator Mike Fasano and State Representative John Legg. Actually, if you are the victim of a sink hole in Florida, it could bring you to tears. Here it is. Judge for yourself:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Working on the Basics

I have not been on these pages hardly at all lately. There are two main reasons for that. The first is because I have been working at the basic building block level of elected politics - City Council elections. The second is, well, er, it is football season and the Florida Gators are 4 and 0.

But this diary is about the hard work of building a bench down on the hustings. If you want to know what life is like at the bottom of the political totem pole, about failures and successes and lessons learned, follow me below the fold...

I live in St. Petersburg, Florida. St. Petersburg is a city of about 250,000 folks smack dab on the west coast of Florida. We are the western anchor of the infamous I-4 corridor in Florida. Our county, Pinellas, (pop approx 1 million) went for Al Gore in 2000 but went for George Bush by a small margin in 2004. So, as a political scientist friend of mine likes to say, we are the swing county of the swing region of the swing state of the country. Real swingers. And we are doing all this swinging right here at Ground Zero.

St. Petersburg holds its municipal elections in November of odd numbered years. We have an eight member City Council and a strong Mayor form of city government. The Mayor and Council can serve two four year terms before being forced out by term limits. This is an "off year" for city elections, as the Mayor's seat is not up for election. The four odd numbered city council seats are up for election. Officially the Mayor and Council races are "non partisan". Having said that, we have a very conservative Republican mayor, Rick Baker, a friend of and protege of former Governor Jeb Bush. But five of our eight City Council seats are held by Democrats. There's that swing thing again.

There are two seats coming open on the St. Petersburg City Council due to term limits this cycle. One is held by a Democrat, Rene Flowers. The other is held by a Republican, Bill Foster. Both are considered likely Mayoral candidates in 2009. But by some estimates, so is half the population of St. Pete. Council members must reside in the districts they represent. St. Pete's Council districts are drawn pretty straight forwardly, i.e with a minimum of gerrymandering. However, due to the housing patterns in St. Petersburg, Rene Flowers, an African American Democrat, will be succeeded by an African American Democrat.

In fact, only two candidates filed for Rene Flowers District 7 seat. Gershom Faulkner is a 36 year old African American male. The former Marine served for six years as legislative assistant to State Representative Frank Peterman. He is currently Outreach Coordinator for Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D, FL-11). Faulkner served as Deputy Campaign Manager through Castor's primary campaign last cycle, delivering for her the hugely African American St. Petersburg portion of FL-11. He then moved on to take the position of state wide African American outreach coordinator for Jim Davis' ill fated campaign for Florida's Governor last year. By contrast, his opponent, Wingay Newton, also an African American male, is a relative political newcomer. He is, however, a neighborhood association president and his brother happens to be head of the St. Petersburg Fire Fighters Union.

Because only two candidates filed for this seat, they avoided a primary election. They will be voted on City wide in the general election on November 6th.

This was not the case in the other seat coming open this cycle. The District 3 seat held by Republican Bill Foster drew a four person crowd. This district includes some of the more affluent and more heavily Republican precincts in St. Petersburg. However, it is part of a swing State House seat most recently won by Democrat Bill Heller last year. It was hoped that this seat would provide a pick up opportunity for Democrats.

To that end, an excellent candidate was successfully urged to run. Cathy Harrelson is a single mother, a financial services professional with years of experience working for a very well known local municipal bond firm. And she was immediate past president of the 3,000 member strong Sun Coast Sierra Club. Joining Harrelson in the race for this seat were three white Republican men. Cliff Gephardt, a mortgage broker, is a political neophyte. Bill Dudley is a retired high school wrestling coach who finished second to Bill Foster for this seat four years ago. And Ed Montanari is an American Airlines pilot. However he was Bill Foster's campaign manager four years ago. To further groom him for this run, Montanari was appointed to head a prestigious task force on the future of our downtown airport in St. Petersburg. To say that Montanari is the candidate of the St. Petersburg Republican establishment is by no means an understatement.

In the only case of an incumbent Council member running for re election, Council Member Jamie Bennett drew two opponents and was also faced with a primary election. Bennett is a white male Democrat in a just over 50% African American District. District 5 covers the southern portion of St. Petersburg. He drew another white male Democrat, activist Chris Kelly and an African American private school teacher, Debra Woodard. Bennett was first elected to Council in 2001 to fill an unexpired term. In 2003, Bennett was re elected without opposition. Kelly and Woodard are making their first political runs.

Distinct 1 features the other incumbent Council member on the ballot. Democrat Herb Polson, the current Council Member was appointed to fill the seat vacated by now State Representative Rick Kriseman. Polson was a long time City employee who started his career with the city in the Police Department and wound up as the City's lobbyist, He retired from the City employment last year so that he could be appointed to fill the seat Rick Kriseman vacated to run for the Stat Legislature. So this is Polson's first election campaign. Polson is opposed by 70 something former Council Member, Republican Bob Kersteen.

Primary elections for Districts 3 and 5 were held September 11th. You would think that such a date would spark an outpouring of patriotism and every one would show up at the polls to vote. Nothing could have been further from the truth. In the District 5 race, only 8% of the registered voters cast a ballot. That's right, only 8%. Jamie Bennett, the incumbent Democrat Council Member advanced to the general election with 66% of the vote. Chris Kelly finished second with 19%.

In the District 3 race turnout was somewhat better, a whopping 14%. The results of this race were much more competitive as well. Ed Montanari, the Republican establishment candidate, was the top vote getter with 42% of the vote. finishing second and also moving on to the general election in November was Bill Dudley, the retired high school wrestling coach and driver's ed teacher. Dudley reeled in 30% of the vote. That was 206 votes more than Cathy Harrelson, the Democrat received. Harrelson gathered in 23% of the vote falling short of the top two vote getters. The District 3 seat will remain in Republican hands this cycle as both Montanari and Dudley are Republicans.

Cathy Harrelson did win a few precincts. However, the precincts she did win were both more heavily Democratic and turned out at a much lower rate than most of the the precincts won by her opponents. The precincts that went heaviest for Montanari turned out at twice to four times the turn out rate of the precincts that Harrelson won. This just points out what i have been carping about. We Dems need to do a much better job of getting our voters to the polls. It will continue to hurt us if we continue to get big percentages in heavily Democratic areas but get a low turn out rate. We need to find some way to get our voters to the polls in the same proportion the Rs get theirs. If we can do that, we will start winning a lot more elections around here.

Stay tuned. I will be coming back with some diaries about the day to day effort in a municipal election campaign. This is where it all starts. Our future state and national leaders will be groomed right here at this level of government. It is crucial that we get good people to run for these seats and to get our people elected.

Rainy Saturday Random Musings

I can't believe it has been nine days since I have posted here. I have been a little busy lately. I've been doing some bench building here in St. Petersburg. Some of you may have heard, we had a primary election in St. Pete on September 11th.

Actually not many people heard here in St. Pete either. The overall turnout was a paltry 11%. But we have strange elections here. We have four of our eight City Council seats up for election in November of this year. Primary elections were held in only two of those races. That's because these seats had more than two candidates. So on September 11th, the voters in those two districts chose the top two contenders to advance to the general election on November 6th. They will then join the candidates for the other two seats in a city wide election. Everybody clear on this? Voters within a district hold a primary to determine which two candidates advance to the city wide general election in November. Weird, huh?

What actually was a bit weird was how the primaries turned out. Not the actual results. They were fairly predictable. The real shocker was how most of the people voted. The majority of votes in this election were cast by mail. That's right, we essentially had a vote by mail election here in St. Petersburg. How about that?

Incumbent Council Member Jamie Bennett easily cruised into the general election in District 5 winning a full two thirds of the vote. He will face challenger Chris Kelly who received 19%. In the District 3 Primary, Ed Montanari led the four candidate pack with 42% of the vote. He was followed by Bill Dudley who garnered 30%. The disappointment here was that Cathy Harrelson failed to get through. Cathy was our hope to put another Democrat on the St. Petersburg City Council. Harrelson did manage to get 22%, but it was not enough. Well, we are most likely to retain the five out of eight Democratic majority on this allegedly non partisan Council.

The District 3 seat is going to remain in Republican hands as both Montanari and Dudley are Republicans. The District 5 and District 7 general election candidates are all registered Dems. In District 1, we have incumbent City Council Member Herb Poslon facing off against former Council Member Bob Kersteen. Polson is raising a bunch of money, way more than Kersteen. If he keeps that up, he will have no problem keeping that seat safely in the Dem column.

I am still going to be involved in 2 of the 4 races helping raise money. So I have just a bit of a breather here. But I wanted to let y'all know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Far from it. Last week I held fund raising events for each of my candidates and attended a fundie for Fairness for Florida's Families. That's the coalition that has formed to defeat the anti gay marriage constitutional amendment the wingers are going to put on the ballot for 2008. Nadine Smith gave a great talk at that event.

And I can not close without giving a shout out to Michael Hussey. His Pushing Rope Blog was just named Best Local Political Blog in the Tampa Bay area by Creative Loafing.

So Congrats to fellow Florida Kossack Michael Hussey!

And now it's time to go watch the Gators!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The MSM Is Starting To Get It

The St. Petersburg Times has this story today on the Florida Primary and Hillary Clinton. And while it is harder to see in the web version, the Times is finally starting to get it about the January 29th Florida Primary.

Buried several paragraphs into the story about Clinton's visit to Florida yesterday is this little gem:
Scoring well in Florida is important, even if the votes technically don't count, given the state's size.
Finally! I have been saying exactly that for quite some time now. And in the print edition, the inside headline reads like this:
Even if the votes don't count, Winning Florida Important
They are still on the "votes don't count" meme, but at least they are starting to recognize the vast other benefits of winning in Florida.

So keep beating the drum, folks. You are having an impact!

This story is also on the Buzz here. Be sure to get over there and put in your 2 cents. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Barack Obama Music Video

Now this is not something I see everyday. Meg Foster is going to shoot an Obama Barack music video.

Put on your Obama gear and come on over to participate in our first O - Train Youtube Music Video project.

We only have room for 75 Obama supporters, so RSVP ASAP!

Video rehearsal will commence immediately following our September 13, 2007 general meeting at the Marti-Maceo Club. Please wear your Obama shirts to the general meeting. We also need volunteers for the Ybor City video segments Thursday after the meeting and on Saturday morning.

If additional rehearsal time is necessary, we will ask that volunteers attend a dress rehearsal on Saturday morning on the 15th.

Here is the event information.

Name: Countdown to Change O - Train Music Video Shoot Party
Tagline: Barack Obama, Tampa Bay O -Train, Countdown to change, O - Train Music Video, Youtube
Host: Tampa Bay O - Train
Type: Music/Arts - Performance
Time and Place Date: Saturday, September 15, 2007
Time: 3:00pm - 7:00pm
City/Town: Clearwater Beach, FL

St. Peterburg Votes Today: Primary Edition

Today is Primary Election day for City Council races in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, I had one candidate ask me last night if I thought voter turn out would exceed 15%. On September 11th, what could be a more patriotic thing to do than to go out and exercise your right, and duty, to vote?

There are 2 races on the ballot today. Primaries are being held for Districts 3 and 5. Districts 1 and 7, with only 2 qualified candidates each, skip the primary and will be on the ballot for the city wide General Election in November.

Today, only voters in Districts 3 and 5 can vote to winnow down the number of candidates for the Council seat in their districts to 2 each. The top two vote getters within these districts today will go on to the city wide voting in the November General Election.

The District 5 race features one of only two incumbents on the ballot this cycle. Acting Council Chair Jamie Bennett is seeking re-election to a post he first won in 2001 in a special election to fill the seat of Larry Williams who had resigned to run for Mayor. Bennett drew no opposition in his bid for a full term in 2003. The widely held belief that Bennett will run for Mayor in two years has drawn at least one candidate to challenge him this time.

Chris Kelly, a community activist, appears to be running with 2009 in mind. Kelly is a former President of the Roser Park Neighborhood Association. He did move to Pinellas Point a few years ago, but has not been civicly active within the district. His campaign seems to be aimed at establishing himself as a viable candidate in 2009 should Bennett vacate the seat to make his Mayoral bid. Bennett's other challenger is little know school teacher Debra Woodard. Ms. Woodard has run a perfunctory campaign at best.

The much more competitive race is for the District 3 council seat. This district, encompassing Snell Isle, Shore Acres and other neighborhoods in northeastern St. Pete will see Council Member Bill Foster leave the seat due to term limits. We will probably see Foster again in a Mayoral bid in 2009.

Meanwhile, 4 candidates are vying to replace Foster. Ed Montanari is Foster's anointed heir apparent. Montanari, an America Airlines pilot, was Foster's campaign manager in 2003. Montanari was groomed for this run by being appointed Chair of the Albert Whitted Airport Advisory Board. Prior to that, Montanari, who has been heard to say that "the Mayor's the boss", had no civic involvement. Montanari's connections have enabled him to lead the pack in fund raising. However, as befits a good airline pilot, no one will mistake Montanari for Mr. Excitement.

Returning from his unsuccessful 2003 bid to unseat Foster is now retired Northeast High teacher Bill Dudley. Dudley got through a 3 way primary in 2003, but was drubbed by Foster in the citywide general election. To improve his chances this time, Dudley is President of the Snell Isle Neighborhood Association. Much like John Edwards, Dudley has been running for this seat since his defeat 4 years ago. The experience shows. Dudley is a much better candidate this time around, and has managed to raise substantial dollars as well.

The significant new face in this race belongs to Cathy Harrelson. Harrelson is a financial professional whose long civic involvement has been focused on environmental concerns. Harrelson is immediate past President of the 3,000 member strong Suncoast Sierra Club. She has also been recently appointed to the County board advising on the Booker Creek preserve. There she was elected Policy Chair by her peers.

Harrelson brings the rare combination of business acumen and enviromentalist to the race. She also has the most realistic chance of maintaining the two woman minority on the Council. With Renee Flowers leaving the District 7 seat due to term limits, Leslie Curran is the only other woman on Council. Also, in this allegedly nonpartisan race, Harrelson is the only Democrat.

Mortgage Broker Cliff Gephart rounds out the field in District 3. Gephart has not run a substantial campaign, but speaks well in forums. Hopefully Mr. Gephart will stay involved in civic affairs and try again sometime in the future.

The District 3 race is really too close to call at this time. Dudley, Montanari and Harrelson are closely bunched and each has run a vigorous campaign. Which two advance to the General Election in November could literally come down to a hand full of votes. So if you are reading this in District 3 today, be sure to get out and vote. Your vote will definitely matter in this race.