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THE NEXT TWO MONTHS
Marc Ambinder: “The election in November may well turn on decisions made long ago. After Labor Day, there is little campaigns can do to alter the fundamental physics of a race. The best campaigns simply play defense well. In a close race, whichever candidate is most adroit at handling the unexpected will probably find himself with an advantage.”
ROMNEY CAMP CALLS OBAMA BOUNCE A ‘SUGAR HIGH’
Responding to the early polling showing President Obama with a bounce — and lead — after the two conventions, Romney pollster Neil Newhouse argues in a memo to reporters that the presidential contest “has not changed significantly.”
“Don’t get too worked up about the latest polling,” said Newhouse. “While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly. The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.”
LEADING INDICATORS? BIG CROWDS, AL GREEN’S ‘LET’S STAY TOGETHER’ & EVEN A BEAR HUG GREET SURGING OBAMA IN FLORIDA by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald
There are lagging indicators and leading indicators in presidential races.
Public-opinion surveys, like Gallup’s daily tracking polls, are the former. They measure support after an event. And they suggest President Obama is picking up steam nationally from the just-ended Democratic National Convention.
Some leading indicators: big crowds at Obama’s rallies from Tampa to Melbourne, people singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” before his West Palm Beach event Sunday, or the giant bear hug the president was given earlier by Scott Van Duzer, a Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and the owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Restaurant in Fort Pierce.
Put it all together and it looks like there’s an increase in enthusiasm for Obama that’s visible in Florida.
PEARL JAM’S EDDIE VEDDER COMING TO TAMPA FOR POLITICAL FUNDRAISER (BARACK OBAMA WILL BE THERE, TOO)
Obama is scheduled to be back in Tampa Sept. 20 for a fundraiser at the home of Donn Miggs and Lisa DeBartalo, reports Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. Among the guests expected? Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and prominent chef Tyler Florence, who is doing the food. It’s small, less than 50 people.
OBAMA OUTRAISED ROMNEY BY $2.4+ MILLION IN AUGUST
President Obama raised $114 million last month, and Mitt Romney took in $111.6 million. Romney’s campaign, including the RNC and state parties it raises money through, have about $168.5 million cash on hand. The Obama camp has not announced how much they have. Boston announced their numbers at midnight, and Chicago responded with theirs at 12:22. Chicago is highlighting that they had 1.1 million donors last month, including 317 thousand new ones. The Romney camp is highlighting that 94 percent (or 822,223) of their donations were for $250 or less, accounting for $34.6 million of his haul. Chicago says 98 percent of Obama’s donations were for $250 or less, and that the average gift was $58.
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TAMPA BAY TIMES NO LONGER HOSTING MACK VS. NELSON DEBATE, NOW SCHEDULED FOR OCT. 17
A scheduled debate between Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Connie Mack is still on for late October, although Tampa Bay Times will not be sponsoring the debate as previously planned, reports Nora McAlvanah of FLDemocracy2012.com.
A Nelson spokesperson said Monday that the senator will debate Mack in an event hosted by CNN and Bay News 9 of Tampa.
The Tampa Bay Times was an original sponsor, but Mack said he wouldn’t participate if the newspaper was involved after originally accepting the invitation. The Times endorsed Mack’s opponent, Dave Weldon, in the Republican primary and – along with the Miami Herald — broke the infamous story about Mack’s history of bar fights and road rage.
The debate was originally set for Oct. 30, but Nelson’s office said Monday they would prefer an earlier date. The two campaigns have also agreed to an Oct. 17 event organized by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association.
GOV. RICK SCOTT LAUNCHES MAJOR EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Scott is again signalling he’ll make improvement in education a major focus as he starts a tour today aimed at getting input from teachers, students and parents on what the schools can do better, reports the News Service of Florida.
Many of Florida’s tens of thousands of public school teachers have been skeptical in recent years of Republican motives on education, with support by three GOP governors and the Legislature over the last decade going to moving students out of the traditional public school system and into independent charter schools or into the private schools . That’s been seen by some as an abandoning of the public school ideal.
While Scott ran on a platform mainly of creating jobs, education improvement, both in K-12 and higher ed, have joined economic development at the top of Scott’s talking point list. Earlier this year, he made a video, for example, making it clear he agrees with the many parents who have said for years that high stakes testing shouldn’t be the full focus of the education system. Scott may have been behind the curve in talking about the state’s main test, the FCAT, which is already being phased out, but he joined in the video in a popular criticism of the system – that teachers teach to the test, denying a students an opportunity for a broader education.
TWEET, TWEET: @MaryEllenKlas: Gov’s ‘listening tour’ of parents and teachers to be closed events.
IS SCOTT’S “RE-EDUCATION” A REBOOT OR A ROD TO VICTORY? by Gary Fineout for his blog, The Fine Print
In order to position himself for the next election (Rick) Scott needs to connect with the Florida voters – and families – that care about education. Hence the need to show that this is an issue that he is deeply engaged with (and undo the damage caused by the budget cuts along the way.)
The only complication with all of this is that a lot of other prominent figures in Florida – notably former Gov. Jeb Bush – but also incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford and incoming Senate President Don Gaetz have their own education agendas.
SCOTT MUM ON CRIST via Brittany Davis of the Miami Herald
Gov. Rick Scott won’t say whether he’s concerned about a possible 2014 challenge by former Gov. Charlie Crist.
“Isn’t that a hypothetical?” he asked, in response to a reporter.
The Republican Party of Florida has locked in $2 million worth of television advertising time for Senate candidate Dorothy Hukill, in what will be one of the most expensive legislative races in Florida this fall.
Hukill, a state representative from Port Orange, is running against Democratic Frank Bruno, the countywide elected chairman of Volusia County, in Senate District 8, a tossup district that runs from New Smyrna Beach to Ocala.
The $2 million figure is based on a review of advertising contracts the state Republican Party has signed with Orlando’s four main broadcast network affiliates for ad time through Nov. 6. It does not include advertising time on local cable channels, meaning the total amount the GOP will spend is even higher.
ADAM PUTNAM ENDORSES HALSEY BESHEARS IN HD 7
“Halsey understands the challenges Florida’s small business owners face every day. From balancing a budget, navigating the maze of government regulations and making the tough decisions to keep his employees working and meeting tough deadlines; skills which are key for Florida,” said Commissioner Adam Putnam. “The qualities, experience and entrepreneurial spirit Halsey Beshears will bring to Florida’s government will allow him to make an immediate positive impact on our state.”
FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY BACKS INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE NANCY ARGENZIANO
Former Republican lawmaker Nancy Argenziano was foiled this year in her attempt to run for Congress as a Democrat, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.
But now running as an independent for a state House seat in Citrus and Hernando counties, the outspoken — and often controversial — Argenziano has received the backing of the Florida Democratic Party as it tries to knock out a Republican incumbent.
The party’s somewhat-unusual support of Argenziano came after Democrat Lynn Thomas Dostal withdrew from the House District 34 race just days after winning the Aug. 14 primary. Dostal’s move cleared the way for a one-on-one race between Argenziano and Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, and eliminated the possibility that Smith would face a divided opposition that could help him more easily win re-election.
Argenziano said Monday she is “very grateful and proud” to have the support and said it shows the Democratic Party knows she would be fair if elected. She said she has always been independent, including sometimes crossing Republican leaders while serving in the House and Senate from 1996 to 2007, when former Gov. Charlie Crist appointed her to the state Public Service Commission.
IN HD 68, DWIGHT DUDLEY RELEASES VIDEO OVER “FARKAS FEE”
After a Tampa Bay Times story about the rising costs for fixing Progress Energy’s nuclear plant, Dwight Dudley, Democratic candidate for House District 68, has released this video following up on his pledge to repeal the unfair utility tax, which he is attempting to link to his Republican opponent, Frank Farkas.
“I meant it when I made my pledge to repeal Frank Farkas’ unfair fee, which has already cost the average Pinellas family more than $320,” said Dudley. “Now, I’m asking Floridians to join me by signing a petition and sending a message to Tallahassee, that we’ve had enough of career politicians working for deep-pocketed special interests instead of us.” Watch here.
PERSONNEL NOTE: CESAR FERNANDEZ JOINS THE FLORIDA JUSTICE ASSOCIATION
Coming off of managing Rep. Jeff Clemens’ 17-vote state senate victory against Rep. Mack Bernard, Cesar Fernandez joins the Florida Justice Association, coordinating its campaign operations and strategy for South Florida, reports Brittany Davis of the Tampa Bay Times.
“I’m excited to join the Florida Justice Association,” said Fernandez. “South Florida will see a slate of battleground races that will determine the future of Floridians’ access to our courts.”
ALLAN KATZ LECTURE: Katz, the U.S. ambassador to Portugal, is slated to speak to the Economic Club of Florida at noon Tuesday in rooms A2-A3 of the Tallahassee-Leon Coun ty Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St., Tallahassee. His talk is called “From Ground Zero on the Euro Economic Crisis. What it looks like from here and how it is affecting America.” The talk is free to members, $25 for guests. Go here for more information.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Daniel Diaz Leyva
MEDIA NOTE: WUSF Public Media has acquired Health News Florida, reporter Carol Gentry’s hard-hitting non-profit health news website, reports Brittany Davis of the Tampa Bay Times.
MEDIA NOTE 2: Print sales in the first half of this year plunged 25 times faster than interactive revenues grew; In the fist six months of 2012, the aggregate print sales of the nation’s papers fell by $796.8 million, or 8.0%, from the prior year, according to data released last week by the Newspaper Association of America, an industry trade group. At the same time, the NAA says, digital sales grew by $31.4 million, or 1.9%, from the same period in 2011. Via Newsosaur.
TYPOS: The Week makes some nominations for the political “mangled-spelling hall of fame.”