Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida Democratic Primary - Early Exit Poll

Well, sort of. I went down to the polling place closest to my abode when the polls opened this morning. I went equipped with my CNN=Politics reporters' notebook (a bit of swag from the GOP YouTube debate here in St. Pete last November) and stationed myself in the nicely marked exit polling area. I was wearing my FDP State Convention T-shirt and when the precinct deputy came to shoo me back to the "free speech zone" away from the poll, I told her that I was there to do exit polling for the Florida Democratic Party. Believe it or not, it worked.

My polling place is a church in an old residential area adjacent to downtown St. Pete. D's outnumber R's in this precinct by 45 to 27%. Other registrations actually beat out Rs in this precinct at 28%. In the hour or so that I was in the exit polling area this morning, the turnout was D's-58%, Rs-37, Others-5%. Who says D's won't show up to vote becasue their votes won't count?

For some strange reason, I didn't feel comfortable exit polling folks on their Presidential Preference. Instead, I focused on Amendment 1 and the Democrats most important issue in making their Presidential Preference choice.

If it were up to this precinct's early morning voters, Amendment 1 would be going down to defeat in flames. The folks I interviewed were voting NO at a rate of 59 to 41%. Sorry Charlie.

What really surprised me was the range of issues that were imprtant to the Democrats in making their choice for our nominee. Of the 10 voters I talked to in any length, I only got one repeat most important issue - The economy. That got mentioned twice. Only one Democrat indicated they were "bummed out their vote wouldn't count." And yet she came to vote anyway. The other voters I spoke to listed these as their most important determining issue:
  • Who's not married to a former President
  • Iraq
  • Leadership
  • Women's Issues
  • Experience
  • Change
  • Integrity
I did ask the person who stated integrity who they had voted for. Their response - Senator Obama. One person first said economy, but quickly followed up with "and the war". I asked her who she voted for and her answer was Hillary.

So, this is certainly not an attempt at a complete exit poll. But I just wanted to get a feel for the mood of the voters. I went back by that polling place earlier this afternoon. Some very stalwart Dem friends of mine were still there getting candidate petitions signed. They indicated that the turnout in our precinct had been steady and strong. That really heartens me for the mood of our Democratic voters. We just have to keep that buzz going through November's elections.

Monday, January 28, 2008

FDP Netroots Coalition: The Website!

Announcing the newest website in the progressive arsenal - The Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition . This is:
the official web site of the Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition. We're trying to bring together the Democratic Party and the progressive Netroots in Florida.

We're here to assist you. If you need assistance with any online activity, contact us and we'll see what we can do help out.

We're here to support DECs, clubs, candidates, and activists who are interested in helping promote the Democratic Party agenda. Of course, we need your help as well, so if you can, help us out by joining us or donating to our cause, so we can afford to promote the online Democratic community and train people in the use of online resources.
The Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition, was officially born at the Florida Democratic Party State Convention last October. The mission of the FDP Netroots Coalition is:
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. We also seek 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.
The FDP Netroots Coalition is ably led by our President, Kenneth Quinell.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ted Deutch Campaigning to Get Dem Candidates Here

Yesterday, I reported on State Senator Ted Deutch's letter to the four early state Democratic Party Chairs asking them to release our candidates from the Pledge not to campaign in Florida once the South Carolina Primary is over on Saturday.

Today there is word of a grassroots campaign by Senator Deutch to persuade the four early state chairs to release the candidates from the Pledge after South Carolina. This is from an email sent from Senator Deutch:
My Fellow Democrats -

Each one of you already knows how important it is for Florida Democrats to cast their votes on January 29th. The eyes of the world will be on Florida, and the national media will report that a strong Democratic turnout bodes well for our Democratic nominee here in November. But wouldn't a two-day burst of campaigning help generate even more excitement before this important primary election?...

Please ... reach out to the party officials at the addresses below to remind them that after South Carolina , the pledge should end. Their OK will give us two days of campaigning, two days to drive voter turnout in the largest and most diverse swing state, and two days to remind all Floridians how important it is to elect a Democrat in November.
Senator Deutch goes on to give the email addresses of the parties of the four early primary states. As a public service, here they are:

New Hampshire Democratic Party

Nevada Democratic Party

Iowa Democratic Party
mmilligan@iowademoc rats.org

South Carolina Democratic Party

Senator Deutch closes his letter as follows:
Please help make this effort a grassroots success.
Your leadership in asking others to help is vital to bringing us the campaign rallies which will generate the record turnout that this election should produce!

Many thanks,

Ted Deutch

30th District
15340 Jog Road, Suite 201
Delray Beach, Florida 33446-2170

So there you have it. This is your chance to let the Democratic parties in the four early states know how you feel about the no campaign pledge. And if you want to drop Senator Ted Deutch a line to thank him for his efforts on our behalf, you can do so here:



Monday, January 21, 2008

Will the Florida No Campaign Pledge Be Lifted (or Broken)?

cn1044 has a diary up on DailyKos titled Florida might be getting interesting detailing how Senator Barack Obama has purchased national cable ads that are now running in Florida. Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign calls this
a clear and blatant violation of the early state pledge that Sen. Obama and the other leading Democratic candidates signed last year.
Meanwhile, Florida State Senator Ted Deutch has written a letter to the four early state Democratic Party Chairs asking them to release the leading Democratic candidates from their pledge not to campaign in Florida.

Could Florida become more relevant all of a sudden? And what can all this mean?

On Thursday, Florida State Senator Ted Deutch sent a letter to the Democratic Party Chairs of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The letter asks the Chairs of the four early states to release the Democratic candidates from their pledge not to campaign in Florida before February 5th. Florida's primary is scheduled for January 29th, 3 days after the last of the four early primaries in South Carolina on the 26th. Senator Deutch's letter states
On January 26th when the polls close in South Carolina, the goals you established in September when you asked the candidates to sign the Pledge will have been fully satisfied, and there will be no compelling reason for you to ask the candidates to continue to abide by the Pledge.

For five months, the candidates will have concentrated their attention on your four states. Allow Florida to have two days.
No word yet if Senator Deutch has received any responses from the four state party chairs.

Today, the St. Petersburg Times Buzz Blog is reporting here that the Clinton campaign is criticizing the Obama campaign because
CNN viewers in Florida today are seeing a Barack Obama campaign ad, which is part of a national cable TV buy.
The Clinton campaign is quoted as saying
Sen. Obama’s flagrant disregard for the pledge that he signed is disturbing and calls the integrity of the pledge into question.
Obama's campaign tell the Times:
We asked the cable channels if we could prevent the ad from airing in Florida and we were told that would be impossible.
Meanwhile, Politico.com's Ben Smith is reporting this:
“Both national cable networks told us it would be impossible for us to run advertising nationally that excluded only Florida. For that reason we consulted with the South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler who told us unequivocally she did not consider this to be in violation of pledge made to the early states,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
So, is this a sign that the early states might look favorably upon Senator Deutch's request to release the candidates from the pledge after South Carolina's primary? Will the Clinton campaign consider the pledge broken and launch their own national cable ads that will air in Florida?

Stay tuned.


Politico is now reporting this form Clinton campaign spokesperson Mo Elleithee:
“We have honored the pledge in every way possible,” Elleithee said. “Now … we’re going to review all the options that are available to us moving forward.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm Voting Today

Early voting for the Florida Presidential Primary started yesterday. I am going to do what has become my tradition. I am going to vote today, on the second day of early voting. I know my friend Alonewolf would want me to change this tradition and vote by mail, and he is more than probably right. But there is just something for me about going to a polling place to cast my ballot.

And of course, here in Florida there has been all this talk back and forth about whether or not my vote will even count. Well, it counts enough for me to get myself to the Supervisor of Elections office in downtown St. Petersburg to cast my ballot for...

John Edwards, because he speaks directly to me on the kind of things our next President will need to do to take back our country and to begin to repair all the damage that has been done by Bush & Co. I want somebody who is going to fight for me. I want someone who understands that when Republicans talk about compromise and bipartisanship, what they are really talking about is you having to give in to them. These people never compromise their positions. They always expect you to compromise yours. John Edwards understands that. He speaks directly to my values and has earned my vote.

So that's me. What about you? Are you going to let some talking head pundit tell you that your vote doesn't count, so don't bother? Please do not listen to that bull. We are having an election in Florida. The results will be tallied. The winners and losers will be known. And all of this is going to happen one week before Tsunami Tuesday when all those other states vote. The Florida results will undoubtedly have an influence on the outcomes in those states. That's what going early is really all about. It is not about delegates. The candidates did not spend all those millions in New Hampshire to get 9 delegates, the number that both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama received there. They did it because New Hampshire goes early and its results influence the outcome in all the other states that follow. It will be the same for Florida, only more so.

And what about our independent friends? Florida does have a closed primary system, so they will not be able to vote in our Presidential Preference Primaries. However, we do have a very important state constitutional amendment on the ballot this election on which independents can vote. The so called property tax reform, Amendment 1, is a very weak attempt at reform of our property tax system. In fact, this is not so much reform as it is pandering to homestead property owners.

Homestead property owners have been very well protected by the wildly successful Save Our Homes amendment which caps increases in taxable values of homesteads at 3% per year. This has protected homesteaders from the tax impact of the rampant run up in property values in recent years. Yet almost all of the benefits of this "reform" are directed at them. Small business owners and renters do not have this protection, yet they are getting basically none of the "relief" in this amendment. And this "relief" only amounts to $240 per year for the average Florida homeowner. This amount, while small individually, is large in the aggregate and will have very damaging impacts on the ability of local governments and school boards to deliver to us the services that we want. For these reasons, I am voting No on 1. Sorry, Charlie (Crist, our Republican Governor and a big backer of Amendment 1).

Strangely enough with a property tax cutting amendment on the statewide ballot, we are asking the voters in Pinellas County to keep a tax increase on themselves. Four years ago, voters in my county approved a small increase in their school property taxes. This tax was pledged to go mainly to increased teacher salaries, to keeping arts programs in the schools and to adding technology for our students. The proposal passed overwhelmingly four years ago with well over 60% of the vote. However, our Republican legislature will only allow us to choose to tax ourselves for four years at a time. Thus the measure is back on the ballot for renewal.

This program has been wildly successful. There is an independent citizen oversight committee that ensures that this money is, in fact, going where it is supposed to go. And it is. Our teacher salaries have been able to be increased to the point that we have a regionally competitive advantage in recruiting. We have more arts and music programs than we had four years ago. And we now have computer labs in every high school in the County. I am going to vote to keep this program going. (This is also another measure on the ballot that independents can vote for.)

So, as the Florida Democratic Party has asked, I am going out today to "Make it Count!" I can't wait to put that "I Voted" sticker on. I hope all my fellow Floridians will do the same on or before January 29th. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Nine Florida candidates among DFA's Grassroots All-Stars

Democracy for America's 2008 Grassroots All-Stars vote is underway, and I was thrilled to find nine candidates from Florida in the running, including my personal favorite, Clint Curtis! You may already know Clint as the election integrity advocate who challenged Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff) for the FL-24 seat in 2006. And there's great news - Clint just received the endorsement of the local Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) regularly honors Mr. Feeney as one of the 22 most corrupt members of Congress.

Clint is taking on Feeney again this year, and in addition, must defeat two other Democratic challengers in the primary: Suzanne Kosmas, a former Florida state representative and realtor in New Smyrna Beach, and Gaurav Bhola, a business development specialist with no public service experience.

Make no mistake - Clint is the true grassroots candidate, and his success in the DFA All-Star competition will provide a tremendous boost to his campaign and help him kick "Teflon Tom" Feeney to the curb.

Therefore, I humbly ask that you vote for Clint as one of DFA's 2008 All-Stars. And I'll totally be your best friend and everything!

Our friend Christine Jennings (FL-13) is also in the running. Ms. Jennings hardly needs an introduction here, as it's impossible to forget the debacle that was the 2006 FL-13 election, in which 18,000 votes went mysteriously unregistered. Ms. Jennings is not giving up, though, and she has been endorsed by EMILY'S List. FL-13 is currently held by Vern Buchanan, who was seated by the Florida legislature despite the lack of resolution on the vote irregularity issue.

As I reviewed the other Florida candidates, I was especially pleased that two of them put the environment high up on their priorities lists. Stephen Blythe (FL-15), is a lifelong environmentalist and Sierra Club member. Florida's natural bounties are increasingly under threat from overdevelopment, poor land use planning, and climate change, and we need representatives in Congress who will fight to protect them and all of America's environmental treasures. Dr. Blythe is also a physician, and must know firsthand the struggles uninsured patients contend with; he supports a national health care plan. Dr. Blythe is challenging Republican incumbent Dave Weldon.

Next up is Corbett Kroehler for FL-08, currently held by Ric Keller. Mr. Kroehler is a member of his local Nature Conservancy chapter, as well the local Sierra Club chapter, for which he serves as Chairman of Energy Issues on the Executive Committee. He's studied climate change thoroughly and understands the dangers faced by everyone on Earth if we don't act quickly to curb it. Mr. Kroehler has also been endorsed by the Greater Orlando PDA.

Other Florida DFA All-Star candidates include:
Although I didn't elaborate on some of the candidates, this in no way means I don't think they're worthy. I just wanted to focus on the particular ones who matter most to me: Clint Curtis, because I live in FL-24; Christine Jennings, because of Kossacks' outrage over the FL-13 voting problem; Dr. Blythe and Mr. Kroehler due to their strong environmental focus, which is also my top concern. I trust all of you to research the other potential All-Stars and decide which three are most deserving.

As long as you make one of them Clint Curtis! ;-)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why Vote: To Take Our Country Back

I just got done reading this diary and comments on DailyKos titled Admirers of Constitution Booted for Wearing Impeach T-shirts in DC. This diary chronicles something that happened today, something I would have thought impossible in the United States of America:
With the original First Amendment "Freedom of Speech" looking on, admirers of the U.S. Constitution in the Washington D.C. National Archives Building today were ordered to leave for wearing tee-shirts reading "Impeach Bush and Cheney."
The only thing I could think of to add to the comments was this:
This is just another reminder of why it is so important to elect a Democrat President this year. We have GOT to take our country back from those people.
But then I got to thinking, this is why we need to vote in the Florida Presidential Primary on January 29th. We do have to take our country back. Some folks being told they have to leave the National Archives building because their T-shirts bothered the rent a cops seems like a rather trivial thing. But something like this should never happen in our country.

However, many things that should never have happened in this country have happened in the past seven years. The current administration has:
  • Ignored the threat from Osama bin Laden and then was surprised when 9/11 happened.
  • Failed to finish the job against bin Laden in Afghanistan, thus allowing him to regroup and remain dangerous today.
  • Lied us into a war in Iraq for their own political purposes.
  • Wiretapped us without warrants.
  • Employed torture against captured enemies.
  • Thrown away habeas corpus.
  • Allowed political hacks to over rule scientists.
  • Robbed our national treasury with no bid contracts to their corporate cronies that are then fraught with fraud.
  • Allowed the creation of private armies (a la Blackwater)
  • All but broken our military with this endless war in Iraq.
And I'm sure you all can add many, many more items to this list.

None of the current crop of viable Republican candidates repudiates any of this. In fact, most of them fully embrace all of this list. And in a few short days, most of them will be running around all over our state spouting their own brand of nonsense. Meanwhile, our Democratic candidates will not be here. Well, maybe not until January 27th, anyway (the day after the South Carolina Democratic primary).

So we Dems have had a little intra party squabble about moving the primary up. What is that in comparison to the importance of putting an end to the atrocities listed above? We all need to get out and vote for the primary candidate of our choice. We need to show the Republicans, and more importantly, the independents in this state, that we Democrats are going to be fighting hard here in Florida.

So get out and vote, Democrats. Let's show that we are going to fight hard here in Florida to take our country back!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Mole's Focus on Florida

Mole's Progressive Democrat has a Florida Focus today. Actually, it is a pretty impressive list of upcoming Democratic events in Florida. Not bad for a New Yorker.

Thanks, Mole.

Busansky Considering Supervisor Race

TBO's March on Politics is reporting that Phyllis Busansky, former Hillsborough Commissioner and recent Congressional candidate is considering a run for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. Windy March quotes Phyllis
“The issue is competence and integrity,” she said. “Our elections office makes me fearful. People need to have faith in our votes.”
Buddy Johnson has made misstep after misstep in that job. It is important for Hillsborough Democrats to field as strong a candidate as possible for this very important position.Having just run for Congress last cycle, Phyllis certainly has the name recognition. And her long experience in civic affairs gives her the credibility to make her a very strong candidate indeed.

This is good news for Hillsborough Dems.