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. office@pinellasdemocrats.com

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