Florida GOP picks its final delegates to convention this summer

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia on Saturday selected the 15 delegates and 15 alternates chosen as at-large delegates who had yet to be determined to be part of the state’s contingent of  99 delegates that will represent the Sunshine State at the Republican National Convention:

They include former Miami-Dade Rep. Adam Hasner, who worked on U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign; incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who campaigned for former Gov. Jeb Bush in New Hampshire; and Senate President Joe Negron, who also endorsed Bush.

Donald Trump won the Florida GOP presidential primary last month, and all 99 pledged delegates are bound to vote for him at the party’s convention in Cleveland in July.

Electing a president is never easy, but our party is strong, focused, and ready,” said Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. “We have made incredible gains in the past year that outpace the Florida Democrats’ best efforts, and I know every single member of our party is prepared to keep up the hard work to ensure we are successful in November.”

Here’s the entire list:

Automatic Delegates

RPOF Chairman:                           Blaise Ingoglia

Ntl. Committeewoman:                 Sharon Day

Ntl. Committeeman:                      Peter Feaman

At-Large Delegates

Brian Ballard

Majority Leader LizBeth Benacquisto

Robin Bernstein

Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran

Mayor Lenny Curry

Jeffrey Feingold

Adam Hasner

Belinda Keiser

Frmr. U.S. Sen. George LeMieux

Congressman Jeff Miller

Senate President Joe Negron

Speaker-DD Jose Oliva

Mike Barnett

Nancy Watkins

Susie Wiles

At-large Alternates

Rep. Jason Brodeur

Cynthia Crowe

Ron Howse

John Falconetti

Barbara Feingold

Janet Glassman

Karen Harrington

Scott Hoppes

Julie Ingoglia

Fred Karlinsky

William Lasky

Susan Moore

Mitzi Prater

George Scarborough

Robert Wakins

CD 1

Delegate 1          Martin Simmons

Delegate 2          Charlotte Flynt

Delegate 3          Tim Norris

Alternate 1         Dorothy Davis

Alternate 2         Sam Mullins

Alternate 3         Jeremy Evans

CD 2

Delegate 1          Clint Pate

Delegate 2          Evan Power

Delegate 3          Thelma Rohan

Alternate 1         Bill Helmich

Alternate 2         S. Curtis Kiser

Alternate 3         James Wyckoff

CD 3

Delegate 1         Layne Schultetus

Delegate 2          Kay Durden

Delegate 3          Sherri Ortega

Alternate 1         Delores Lansford

Alternate 2         Sherrie McKnight

Alternate 3         Sally Beach

CD 4

Delegate 1          Cindy Graves

Delegate 2          Lake Ray

Delegate 3          Ander Crenshaw

Alternate 1         Danny Norton

Alternate 2         Charles Cordes

Alternate 3         Alexander Pantinakis

CD 5

Delegate 1          Patty Redlich

Delegate 2          Mike Cribby

Delegate 3          Clarence Allen

Alternate 1         Thuy Lowe

Alternate 2         Gloreatha Scurry-Smith

Alternate 3         Caleb Spencer

CD 6

Delegate 1          Tony Ledbetter

Delegate 2          Bill Korach

Delegate 3          Alan Burton

Alternate 1         Jospeh Fieldus

Alternate 2         Paul Porter

Alternate 3         Stuart Epperson

CD 7

Delegate 1          Al Schwarz

Delegate 2          Ray Valdes

Delegate 3          Dana Dougherty

Alternate 1         Kathy Gibson

Alternate 2         Wade Vose

Alternate 3         Phil Kaprow

CD 8

Delegate 1          Carlie Rogers

Delegate 2          Barbara Davis

Delegate 3          Lew Oliver

Alternate 1         Richard Lacey

Alternate 2         Joseph Semprevivo

Alternate 3         Carole Jean Jordan

CD 9

Delegate 1          Rich Crotty

Delegate 2          Tammy Celeste

Delegate 3          Mark Cross

Alternate 1         Ruth Coberley

Alternate 2         Bertica Cabrera-Morris

Alternate 3         Chadwick Hardee

CD 10

Delegate 1          Jim Guth

Delegate 2          Wendy West

Delegate 3          Mark Oxner

Alternate 1         Robbie Ford

Alternate 2         Ronald Janssen

Alternate 3         Patricia Sullivan

CD 11

Delegate 1          Mike Moberley

Delegate 2          Darilyn Dolimpio

Delegate 3          Daniel Wright

Alternate 1         Sandy Balfour

Alternate 2         Lucy Sullivan

Alternate 3         Ana Trinque

CD 12

Delegate 1          Sandy Graves

Delegate 2          Tina Harris

Delegate 3          Chris Sprowls

Alternate 1         Steve Graves

Alternate 2         Pam McAloon

Alternate 3         Mary Gaulden

CD 13

Delegate 1          Nancy Riley

Delegate 2          Dan Tucker

Delegate 3          Nick DiCeglie

Alternate 1         Todd Jennings

Alternate 2         Dorine McKinnon

Alternate 3         Chely Hernandez-Miller

CD 14

Delegate 1          Terry Castro

Delegate 2          Marjorie Mittleman

Delegate 3          Spencer Rogers

Alternate 1         James Buntyn

Alternate 2         Tony DeSisto

Alternate 3         Mike Mikurak

CD 15

Delegate 1          Debbie Hannifan

Delegate 2          Tina Pike

Delegate 3          Dena DeCamp

Alternate 1         Tony Jackson

Alternate 2         Judith Wise

Alternate 3         Mark Proctor

CD 16

Delegate 1          Kathy King

Delegate 2          Joe Gruters

Delegate 3          Christian Ziegler

Alternate 1         David Matthews

Alternate 2         Donna Hayes

Alternate 3         John Colon

CD 17

Delegate 1          Bill Folchi

Delegate 2          Jimmy Nelson

Delegate 3          Kathy Rapp

Alternate 1         Jane Sturges

Alternate 2         Allen Goldstein

Alternate 3         Natalie Schmidt

CD 18

Delegate 1          Bill Paterson

Delegate 2          Mary Ann Russell

Delegate 3          Don Pickard

Alternate 1         Darlene Fuggetta

Alternate 2         Julie Paterson

Alternate 3         Linda Stoch

CD 19

Delegate 1          Mike Lyster

Delegate 2          Jonathan Martin

Delegate 3          Lisa Musial

Alternate 1         Rosealie Lesser

Alternate 2         Jesse Purdon

Alternate 3         Mike Hook

CD 20

Delegate 1          Rico Petrocelli

Delegate 2          Roger Gingerich

Delegate 3          Daniel Diaz

Alternate 1         Patrick Castronovo

Alternate 2         Terrance O’Loughlin

Alternate 3         Camille Petrocelli

CD 21

Delegate 1          Bob Sutton

Delegate 2          Maureen Jaeger

Delegate 3          Tami Donnally

Alternate 1         Marion Frank

Alternate 2         Jay Goldfarb

Alternate 3         Richard Eddins

CD 22

Delegate 1          Cindy Tindell

Delegate 2          Ed Pozzuoli

Delegate 3          Gay Gaines

Alternate 1         Mike Barnett

Alternate 2         Sue Snowden

Alternate 3         Al Massey

CD 23

Delegate 1          Sanjay Narang

Delegate 2          Corey Brier

Delegate 3          Eric Shure

Alternate 1         Richard DeNapoli

Alternate 2         Kevin Cooper

Alternate 3         Florine Goldfarb

CD 24

Delegate 1          Jessica Fernandez

Delegate 2          Kelly Mallette

Delegate 3          Stephanie Woodard

Alternate 1         Uri Benhamron

Alternate 2         Nikita Mizgirev

Alternate 3         Steve Karski

CD 25

Delegate 1          Steve Nisbet

Delegate 2          Margie Nelson

Delegate 3          Carlos Trujillo

Alternate 1         Manny Diaz

Alternate 2         Doug Harrison

Alternate 3         Doug Rankin

CD 26

Delegate 1          Carey Goodman

Delegate 2          Alex Trujillo

Delegate 3          Jeanette Nunez

Alternate 1         Jose Felix Diaz

Alternate 2         Harry Hoffman

Alternate 3         Debby Goodman

CD 27

Delegate 1          Nelson Diaz

Delegate 2          Liliana Ros

Delegate 3          Bernie Navarro

Alternate 1         Rey Lastre

Alternate 2         Rudolfo Milani

Alternate 3         Marili Cancio

Jeb Bush enjoys outpouring of local support with new Broward campaign organization

With the announcement of a Broward County campaign organization on Friday, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush is enjoying a wave endorsements from more than 130 state leaders, including 20 of Florida’s 26 state senators.

Earlier this month, Florida House Speakers for Jeb and the Jeb!2016 Miami-Dade County Campaign Leadership announced the support of three Florida Cabinet members and 11 congressional representatives from the Florida delegation.

This latest outpouring from Broward comes as the former Florida governor struggles in home state polling. Donald Trump and Ben Carson, among others, are leading the pack recently by appealing to voters looking toward candidates with strong anti-establishment messages.

Broward County Republicans lining up behind Bush include former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux of Fort Lauderdale as honorary campaign chair; state Rep. George Moraitis and County Commissioner Chip LaMarca are county co-chairs.

According to a statement from Bush campaign officials, the initial Broward County campaign list includes:

Jeb 2016! Broward County Campaign Organization:

Honorary Chairman

U.S. Sen. George LeMieux*

Honorary Co-Chairs

State Rep. George Moraitis
Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca*

Campaign Committee Chairs

Ed Pozzuoli*
Paul Sallarulo
Shane Strum
*

Campaign Committee Organizational Chairs

Maureen Jaeger
Rocky Rodriguez

Campaign Committee Co-Chairs

Milton Aponte
Jim Blosser
Dr. Miya Burt-Stewart
Sam Chagani
Berthy De La Rosa-Aponte
David DiPietro
Georgette Sosa Douglas

Cindy Guerra*
Sherry Hage
Jon Hage

Dr. Art Keiser
Belinda Keiser
Clarence McKee
Elaine Miceli Vasquez
Sally Musser
Ryan Reiter
Justin Sayfie
Colleen Stolberg
Norman Tripp
Kevin Tynan
*
Sheela Van Hoose
Levi Williams, Jr.
Bob Wolfe, Jr.
Zach Zachariah
, M.D.

Broward County Campaign Leadership

Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bruce Roberts
Mayor of Lighthouse Point Glenn Troast
Lighthouse Point City Commissioner Michael Long
Oakland Park City Commissioner Shari McCartney
Hollywood City Commissioner Patty Asseff

Hillsboro Beach City Commissioner Victoria Feaman
Broward County Republican Party State Committeeman Rico Petrocelli*
South Broward Hospital District Commissioner Laura Raybin Miller
Florida Senate President James A. Scott (1994-1996)
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle (1991-2009)
Coral Springs Mayor Vincent Boccard (2012-2014)
Coral Springs Vice-Mayor Tom Powers (2008-2014)
Broward County Court Judge Catalina Avalos (2005-2009)
Broward County Republican Party State Committeeman Ed Kennedy (1996-2000, 2004-2012)

Nuvia Abigantus
Ileana Almeida Esq.
Joel Altman
Susan Aprill

Dr. Luis Barreras
Heather Baumwald
Kim Bentley
Nancy Blosser
Tracy Briggs
Rosa Brito
Alfred  Bulkan
Andy Bulkan
Jerome Bulkan
Gloria  Bulkan
Phyllis Bulkan
, M.D.
Kim Campanile
Charlie Caulkins
Ashton Charles
Joy Cicero
Lauren Cobb
Brady Cobb
Syliva Cobo
Joseph Cobo, Sr.

Richard DeNapoli*
Richard Ferris
Jean Findeiss
Cliff Findeiss
Lina Garcia
Phillip George,
M.D.
Mary George, MD
Samuel Goren
Juanita Gray
Laurel  Harris
Doug Harrison
Suzanne Higgins
Karin Hoffman
Robert Keiser
Kaki Kirby
Rob Kornahrens
Eileen LaMarca
Julie Lauder
Nadina Lavernia

Dr. Ivan Lavernia
Donna Linder
Andrea Macatangay
Johanne Marcoux
Louise Marks
David Maymon
Barbara McNulty
Michele Merrell
Gladys C. Millan
Linda Mills
Cristina Mineo
Heather Moraitis
George Morgan, Jr.
Lisa Oliveri
Mark O’Loughlin
Camille Petrocelli
Lais Pontes
Georgina Pozzuoli
Tina Quant
June Quinn
John Radtke
Nancy Reyes
Carlos Reyes
Brandon Rodriguez
Daniel Ruoss
Elaine Salen
Kathy Salerno
Ron Scott
Daniel Seigel
Dr. Tiffany Sizemore-Ruiz
Phil Smith
Dennis Smith
Margaret Stein
Theresa Sutton
Priscilla Swanberg
Daniel Taylor
Joe Thomas,
D.D.S.
Cynthia Wagner
Christine Welch
Richard Welch
TC Wolfe
Alexis Yarborough
Rachel Zachariah
Reggie Zachariah
Alexander Zachariah
, Esq.
Richard Zaden

*Indicates former chair of the Broward County Republican Executive Committee

Personnel note: Chamber taps former Daniel Webster aide as new influencer

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster‘s former chief of staff has been named the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of government affairs, the Chamber announced in a Friday press release.

Frank Walker III also worked for three other U.S. lawmakers: Former U.S. Sens. George LeMieux and Mel Martinez of Florida, and U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington state.

“After more than a decade in Washington, I know the solutions to the challenges facing Florida and our nation come from the state and local level,” Walker said in a prepared statement.

“I am excited to join the Florida Chamber’s unparalleled team … to advance these solutions, unleash free enterprise and secure Florida’s future as a leader in our 21st century, global economy.”

The Chamber called the hire part of a “larger, more aggressive move by the Florida Chamber to prepare for Florida’s next election cycles and legislative sessions.”

More from the release:

Additionally, Walker’s experience includes serving on multiple congressional campaigns, including campaigns for Webster, Reichert, Steve Southerland for Congress and Bob Corker for U.S. Senate.

“Combining the Florida Chamber’s longstanding pro-business advocacy efforts with Frank’s experience and talent puts Florida’s businesses in a winning position,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL-10).

“The Florida Chamber’s board of directors and veteran team of professionals are dedicated to securing Florida’s future, and Frank Walker shares that passion for growing the private sector, creating jobs to help Florida families prosper and making Florida a global leader,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “Adding Frank’s expertise will further enhance our focus on making Florida more competitive.”

Walker joins the Florida Chamber’s government affairs team, which is spearheaded by David Hart, executive vice president. He will oversee a team of 25+ pro-business advocates … Frank is a Tallahassee native, a graduate of Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and he and his wife Katie have a daughter Fiona, and are expecting their second child.

Republican Rick Kozell announces run for Florida’s CD 18

Attorney and Republican activist Rick Kozell is announcing he will launch a bid for South Florida’s 18th Congressional District based in Palm Beach County.

Kozell is running as an outsider who, like most Americans, is fed up with dysfunction and gridlock in Congress.

“Today, Congress seems more focused on growing the bureaucracy than on solving problems. It’s time we fix Washington and restore America’s reputation abroad,” Kozell said in a statement.

“Throughout our community, working people are struggling while big government in Washington is thriving,” Kozell continued. “We need a congressman who will fight to promote greater opportunities for hard-working Floridians and to create a healthy economy for everyone. As a former small business owner, I have seen first-hand that a rising tide of prosperity can lift all ships. I have been blessed to be the beneficiary of the American Dream and it is time we restore that Dream for everyone.”

The Jupiter native and Georgetown University Law Center graduate pointed to his experience as counsel for a Republican member of a federal administrative court.

“For the past year, I have fought the Obama Administration’s attempts to increase the reach of government into our local communities and small businesses. Now it’s time to take the fight to Congress,” Kozell declared.

Kozell has also previously worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Senate alongside Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, and for former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux of Florida and longtime U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, whom Kozell’s campaign called a “conservative hero.”

Kozell is hoping to take the 18th District back from the Democrats, who took it when former U.S. Rep. Allen West was felled by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in 2012. The open seat was left vacant when Murphy decided to run for the U.S. Senate earlier this year.

Mitch Perry Report for 4.21.15 — Odds looking better for David Jolly for Senate in ’16?

A week ago I spoke with someone close to David Jolly about the fact that the Pinellas County congressman was going to take some time to consider a candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

There were and are a number of pros and cons, of course, for the still newbie Republican representative to contemplate in making such a momentous career decision. The biggest downside is the very real possibility that after yearning to serve in Washington for perhaps his entire adult life, he could, if unsuccessful, leave that all behind after just a couple of years in office.

But there were two obstacles for Jolly — part of the political equation a week ago — that have gone away. They are Will Weatherford and Tom Rooney, both of whom say they won’t run for the seat.

It was Rooney’s name that made him formidable. The scion of the family that has owned the Pittsburgh Steelers, he represents a wide swath of the state in his unwieldy District 17 seat that has included a small portion of Hillsborough County.

“While I feel like I could mount a successful statewide campaign, the toll I believe the process would take on my family is something I cannot put them through,” Rooney said  in a statement yesterday. “There is no greater responsibility I have than the upbringing of my three young sons. Therefore, I will not seek the Republican nomination for Senate in 2016.”

So who’s left standing? If the names are Bill McCollum and George LeMieux, you know the Democrats will be cheering.

There are plenty of other Republicans contemplating the race: Carlos Lopez-Cantera could catch fire, and Don Gaetz and Vern Buchanan are going to have money to burn if they get into the race.

It’s all part of the equation for the 42-year-old Jolly to consider. He may ultimately decide that it’s better for him to stay in the House (and based on voting patterns, it will be a challenge for any Republican in an open seat in a presidential election year), but it’s not as intimidating a challenge as it was just a week ago.

In other news….

Well, that “conscience protection” bill that religious groups in Florida say is necessary for them not to have to allow gays to adopt may be dead in the Florida Senate, which means the entire Legislature. Yesterday Senate Rules Committee Chairman Dave Simmons didn’t seem to be in that big of a hurry to get a vote on the bill before the committee’s four-hour meeting came to a close at 5 p.m.

Hillsborough County’s transit agency HART still has dreams of getting some funding from Tallahassee this spring, but those hopes are faint with less than two weeks to go in the regular session.

Jeb Bush still leads the field over Scott Walker in a CNN poll released yesterday among Republican candidates for 2016. But Hillary Clinton is crushing both Bush and Marco Rubio in the survey.

And we’ve got a wrap-up on our weekend in New Hampshire with all of the GOP presidential hopefuls here for your perusal.

George LeMieux ‘saddened’ by Charlie Crist’s independent run

Sen. George LeMieux on Charlie Crist’s independent U.S. Senate run:

“I am saddened that my friend, Governor Crist, has decided to leave the Republican Party. Our friendship runs deep, but my commitment to the principles of the Republican Party runs deeper. I cannot walk down the path he has chosen.

“Now more than ever, our nation’s future depends on our ability to uphold the core Republican ideals of fiscal restraint, peace through strength, individual liberty, personal responsibility and smaller government.

“I will support our Republican nominee and will continue to do everything I can both in Florida and across the country to increase the number of Republicans in the United States Senate.”

George LeMieux ‘saddened’ by Charlie Crist’s independent run

Sen. George LeMieux on Crist’s independent U.S. Senate run:

“I am saddened that my friend, Governor Crist, has decided to leave the Republican Party. Our friendship runs deep, but my commitment to the principles of the Republican Party runs deeper. I cannot walk down the path he has chosen.

“Now more than ever, our nation’s future depends on our ability to uphold the core Republican ideals of fiscal restraint, peace through strength, individual liberty, personal responsibility and smaller government.

“I will support our Republican nominee and will continue to do everything I can both in Florida and across the country to increase the number of Republicans in the United States Senate.”

Who is running Charlie Crist’s campaign, now that Eric Eikenberg has left

Now that Charlie Crist has dropped out of the Republican primary to run with No Party Affiliation, the question of who is really in charge of Crist’s campaign continues to intrigue reporters, bloggers and political observers.

On paper, Eric Eikenberg was the official campaign manager of Crist’s effort.  But saying Eikenberg was running the Crist campaign is just as ridiculous as saying Tony Sparano is in charge of the Miami Dophins when everyone knows that Bill Parcells is calling the shots.

Alex Leary just wrote that the effervescent and recently-resigned gubernatorial staffer, Michelle Todd is now the “de facto” leader of the campaign, but I doubt seriously she will function as the official campaign manager.

So who, other than Crist himself, is calling the shots at Crist campaign headquarters?  Some say that Carole Crist is in the catbird seat and it’s hard to disagree with that.  Honestly, I don’t think Crist would even consider running as an Independent if he didn’t have Carole by his side.  Carole has imbued Crist with a new sense of self that, as a longtime observer of the Crist, um, phenomenon,  has been missing from his public disposition since he was a man about town in St. Petersburg. Yet, as intelligent and worldly as Carole is, she is still a political neophyte and Crist is not so enthralled with his new wife to hand her control of his campaign.

No, my sources, both inside and outside of the campaign, point to Dan Smading, a college football teammate of Crist and Atlanta real estate developer, as the Alexander Haig of Crist’s kinetic campaign.

First of all, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Crist’s campaign paid Smading $14,000 in January for public relations work, about the same amount the campaign pays Eikenberg.

Mind you, Dan Smading is not a public relations consultant.  Smading is a real estate developer from Marietta, Georgia.  Of course, he also played defensive back on the Wake Forest football team in the mid 1970s.

You remember which US Senate candidate was a walk-on quarterback for Wake Forest?  It’s right there in the Demon Deacon’s 1975 media guide: Charlie Crist,  6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, with a goal “‘to make the traveling squad.”

Thirty-five years later, Crist’s goal is to win a seat in the United States Senate.  And he’s leaning on his ol’ college teammate to help him get there.

“Every decision is being run by this guy named Dan Smading,” said one former Crist campaign staffer who asked to remain anonymous.  “No one is sure if Erik (Eikenberg) is gonna stick with Charlie…after he switches to an Independent.  So that leaves Carole and Dan as the two people Charlie trusts the most.”

According to a second source very close to the Governor, but not affiliated with the campaign, all new personnel decision being made in preparation for Crist’s Independent/NPA run are being coordinated by Smading.  Only, Smading is the  one who is meeting with each possible new hires.  The proof of that is the p

A third source confirmed that it’s Smading who Crist leaned on as the Governor went through the due diligence of hiring a legal and political team to work on his Independent campaign.  (Crist has attempted to hire several Washington lawyers, including Ben Ginsberg, who are expert in election law, but they have all demurred, fearing a backlash from the Republican Party.)

I guess what’s interesting about this is that everyone in Florida politics knows who Eric Eikenberg is, but almost no one following the race is familiar with the name Dan Smading. I asked (via Twitter) more than 50 political observers and reporters if they knew anything about Dan Smading and only three knew about whom I was asking.

Little has been written about Smading.  A Google search doesn’t turns up much except for a possible grade-school connection with another member of Crist’s inner circle, Chris Kise.

Make no mistake, the person in charge of Charlie Crist’s campaign is Charlie Crist.  And Florida’s political reporters will tell you that Smading isn’t a major player in Crist’s campaign, but its these same reporters who have been blindsided by Crist’s decision to abandon the GOP.  But I’m telling you, Dan Smading could be the new George LeMieux (at gig that worked out nicely for LeMieux, didn’t it?)

Who is running Charlie Crist’s campaign, now that Eric Eikenberg has left

Now that Charlie Crist has dropped out of the Republican primary to run with No Party Affiliation, the question of who is really in charge of Crist’s campaign continues to intrigue reporters, bloggers and political observers.

On paper, Eric Eikenberg was the official campaign manager of Crist’s effort.  But saying Eikenberg was running the Crist campaign is just as ridiculous as saying Tony Sparano is in charge of the Miami Dophins when everyone knows that Bill Parcells is calling the shots.

Alex Leary just wrote that the effervescent and recently-resigned gubernatorial staffer, Michelle Todd, is now the “de facto” leader of the campaign, but I doubt seriously she will function as the official campaign manager.

So who, other than Crist himself, is calling the shots at Crist campaign headquarters?  Some say that Carole Crist is in the catbird seat and it’s hard to disagree with that.  Honestly, I don’t think Crist would even consider running as an Independent if he didn’t have Carole by his side.  Carole has imbued Crist with a new sense of self that, as a longtime observer of the Crist, um, phenomenon,  has been missing from his public disposition since he was a man about town in St. Petersburg. Yet, as intelligent and worldly as Carole is, she is still a political neophyte and Crist is not so enthralled with his new wife to hand her control of his campaign.

No, my sources, both inside and outside of the campaign, point to Dan Smading, a college football teammate of Crist and Atlanta real estate developer, as the Alexander Haig of Crist’s kinetic campaign.

First of all, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Crist’s campaign paid Smading $14,000 in January for public relations work, about the same amount the campaign pays Eikenberg.

Mind you, Dan Smading is not a public relations consultant.  Smading is a real estate developer from Marietta, Georgia.  Of course, he also played defensive back on the Wake Forest football team in the mid 1970s.

You remember which U.S. Senate candidate was a walk-on quarterback for Wake Forest?  It’s right there in the Demon Deacon’s 1975 media guide: Charlie Crist,  6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, with a goal “‘to make the traveling squad.”

Thirty-five years later, Crist’s goal is to win a seat in the United States Senate.  And he’s leaning on his ol’ college teammate to help him get there.

“Every decision is being run by this guy named Dan Smading,” said one former Crist campaign staffer who asked to remain anonymous.  “No one is sure if Erik (Eikenberg) is gonna stick with Charlie…after he switches to an Independent.  So that leaves Carole and Dan as the two people Charlie trusts the most.”

According to a second source very close to the Governor, but not affiliated with the campaign, all new personnel decision being made in preparation for Crist’s Independent/NPA run are being coordinated by Smading.  Only, Smading is the  one who is meeting with each possible new hires.  The proof of that is the p

A third source confirmed that it’s Smading who Crist leaned on as the Governor went through the due diligence of hiring a legal and political team to work on his Independent campaign.  (Crist has attempted to hire several Washington lawyers, including Ben Ginsberg, who are expert in election law, but they have all demurred, fearing a backlash from the Republican Party.)

I guess what’s interesting about this is that everyone in Florida politics knows who Eric Eikenberg is, but almost no one following the race is familiar with the name Dan Smading. I asked (via Twitter) more than 50 political observers and reporters if they knew anything about Dan Smading and only three knew about whom I was asking.

Little has been written about Smading.  A Google search doesn’t turns up much except for a possible grade-school connection with another member of Crist’s inner circle, Chris Kise.

Make no mistake, the person in charge of Charlie Crist’s campaign is Charlie Crist.  And Florida’s political reporters will tell you that Smading isn’t a major player in Crist’s campaign, but its these same reporters who have been blindsided by Crist’s decision to abandon the GOP.  But I’m telling you, Dan Smading could be the new George LeMieux (at gig that worked out nicely for LeMieux, didn’t it?)

Hotline: How much will move cost Charlie Crist?

From Hotline: FL Gov. Charlie Crist (R) is contemplating his political future this week as he decides whether to run for Sen. George LeMieux‘s (R) seat as an independent. But he also should be contemplating just how much it’s going to cost him.

Crist has benefitted from several strong fundraising quarters, but conservative bloggers and activists have vowed to make a potential independent bid hurt his bank account. And he should take note: Those same activists helped cost Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) more than $1M after his own defection last year.

When Specter bolted, he told donors they could have their money back if they wanted. And the conservative Club for Growth took him up on the offer. The Club received permission from the FEC to help donors contact the campaign and ask for donations to be returned.

A review of FEC reports filed over the last year shows Specter gave $224K back during the second quarter, when he made his party switch, and $602K back during the fourth quarter, when the Club mailed his donors informing them of the policy. All told, Specter has returned $1.031M so far this election cycle.

On Tuesday, the Club said it would pursue the same program if Crist were to leave the GOP. “If and when Charlie Crist leaves the Republican Party, we will contact his contributors and help them make formal refund requests to his campaign,” Club President Chris Chocola said in a statement.

It’s impossible to tell just how many individual donations Crist would lose if he pulls the switch, but he’s certain to receive requests from DC GOPers, who wrote checks from their PACs. So far, the NRSC, NRSC chair John Cornyn, Senate Min. Leader Mitch McConnell and a host of others have contributed, either directly or through their PACs, a total of $87K; Crist would almost certainly return those funds. Continue reading here.