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Mitch Perry Report for 8.11.15 — Will Rick Perry be the first one off the GOP island?

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

First of all, let me give a public welcome to the newest addition to the Florida Politics/SaintPetersBlog family, James Rosica, late of the Tampa Tribune. I am looking forward to reading his reports.

The advent of the super PACS, we’ve been told, will keep presidential candidates around a lot longer than before, since there’s a separate venue for fundraising. The idea is that a few rich millionaires can singlehandedly keep a candidate alive.

We’re about to see if that’s going to work with Rick Perry, whose campaign isn’t really going anywhere so far in 2015.

Reports surfaced last night that Perry has stopped paying his staff at the national headquarters in Austin as well as in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The Washington Post reports that the Perry campaign is scaling down its expenditures to bare essentials — such as paying for commercial plane tickets and hotel rooms for the candidate and an aide or two, and hoping for a miracle, like a breakthrough at the next debate.

Good luck with that.

The next GOP presidential debate isn’t for more than another month from now, at the Reagan Library in Southern California. But all is not lost for Perry, because he’s got “a group ” of super PACs called Opportunity and Freedom that had $17 million in the bank as of last month. Now, technically, the Super PAC can’t work with the campaign, meaning they can’t pay the staffers who are reportedly all still now working for free with Perry. The super PAC can keep Perry afloat by running ads in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, the bulk of where campaign money goes.

Of course, the first election in the country isn’t until February, so Perry is going to need more direct fundraising, or he’s not going to be able to campaign.

This is the problem for the GOP and its 17 candidates running for office. Normal attrition would start reducing those numbers around now. If memory serves, it was around this time four years ago when Tim Pawlenty stunningly left the race. He had put a lot of chips in doing well in the Iowa Straw Poll, and of course lost out to, among others, then Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

But the Iowa Republican Party canceled the Iowa Straw Poll, which would have taken place last month. Although that was applauded by most people in the party (and the press), it might have been a severe enough rebuke for the Jim Gilmores and George Patakis in the race to realize that voters just really aren’t into them.

Instead, they get that lack of recognition and love on a daily basis via polls.

In any event, if Perry doesn’t get the type of raves from the Reagan Library debate that Marco Rubio and Carly Florina generated from the Quicken Loans Arena event last week, all the Super PAC spending in the world may not be enough to deny reality.

In other news…

Marco Rubio’s moving up in the world. He’s now the recipient of criticism from no less than Hillary Clinton, who said she was more outraged by his stance on abortion rights than Donald Trump’s comments toward Megyn Kelly.

The Draft Joe Biden super PAC added new hires yesterday, as they hope that the vice president will soon commit to challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.

A Hillsborough County judge last Friday rejected the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission’s request for injunctive relief against Uber, meaning the popular ridesharing company can continue to operate in Hillsborough. PTC head Kyle Cockream says his agency doesn’t want Uber to go away, just to play by some of its rules.

And Polk City House Republican Neil Combee has already filed a bill for next year in the Legislature that will prevent people from creating backyard firing ranges like that guy from St. Petersburg who did so earlier this year. The bill has support from the NRA, so you can bank on it that it will get passed.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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