*** The first post-primary campaign finance report for legislative candidates heading into the general election was due FRIDAY, with subsequent reports coming fast and furious over the next 46 days. The G1 totals include everything raised/spent from August 10 to September 14. If you’re not getting On 3 Public Relations’ comprehensive finance reports for your clients and contacts, turn in your politico card at the door on the way out. www.On3PR.com. ***
HALF OF AMERICA BEGINS VOTING TODAY
Election Day may be Nov. 6th, but with President Obama grabbing a lead nationally and in key swing states, Americans are already starting to vote.
Idaho, South Dakota, and the crucial swing state of Virginia are the first states to begin early, in-person voting today.
Also today, absentee voting begins in Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Georgia, Arkansas, Idaho, and Maryland, bringing the total number of states already accepting ballots to 13. Twelve others — South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Delaware, Louisiana, and Missouri — will begin absentee or early voting Saturday.
That means, by today, half the country will be casting votes. By the end of the month, voters in 30 states will be voting already.
PURPLE POLL OF FLORIDA: ROMNEY 48%, OBAMA 47%
Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama in Florida by a single point, 48 to 47 percent, in a new installment of the Purple Poll, a result unchanged from the poll’s last installment in August, reports William March of the Tampa Tribune.
The Purple Poll is done in a dozen “purple states,” states that could swing between Democrats and Republicans, by a bipartisan polling group. Full results here.
PAUL RYAN IN MIAMI, AT UCF ON SATURDAY
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will attend a rally at Versailles Restaurant in Miami and a town hall at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on Saturday.
Currently, a schedule released by the Romney-Ryan campaign has Ryan appearing in Miami at 9:25 a.m. and at UCF at 3:00 p.m. with doors opening about two and a half hours before each event.
CRIST ENDORSEMENT HAS LITTLE IMPACT by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman of POLITICO
In a poll for the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and Bay News 9, the survey firm Mason-Dixon finds little evidence that Charlie Crist’s endorsement boosted President Obama in Florida — and some reason to question whether Crist would really be the Democrats’ strongest candidate for governor.
Only 8 percent of voters say they are more likely to vote for Obama because Crist endorsed him, and they already supported Obama. Another 13 percent say they are less likely to vote for the president because of Crist’s action, and the remaining 79 percent say it doesn’t matter.
Of course, in a state as competitive as Florida, Crist’s endorsement would be a help to Obama even if it only moved a couple thousand votes. Democrats believe that Crist’s favorability among senior citizens and independents is an asset to the president, and as Maggie and I wrote earlier this month, Florida Dem leaders are less concerned about Crist’s gubernatorial prospects than about what he can do for Obama now.
>>>Sunshine State News’ Nancy Smith op-ed on Crist: “He’ll be coming around the mountain when he comes”
BILL NELSON WIDENS GAP OVER CONNIE MACK
A new Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll in Florida shows Sen. Bill Nelson leads Rep. Connie Mack IV in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 40%, a three-point shift in the Democrat’s favor since July.
MACK KICKING-OFF WEEK-LONG BUS TOUR TODAY IN GAINESVILLE via Nora McAlvanah of FLDemocracy2012.com
Trailing Sen. Bill Nelsonby double-digits, GOP Senate hopeful Connie Mack is launching a week-long bus tour this week aimed at conservative voters.
Mack’s “Freedom Tour” will kick-off in Gainesville on Saturday and continue through traditional Republican strongholds in northern and central Florida.
Mack is expected to sound conservative themes during his stops. On Monday, for example, the Fort Myers congressman will visit Buck’s Gun Rack in Daytona Beach to talk about gun rights.
FLORIDA GOP LINES UP AGAINST MERIT RETENTION OF STATE SURPREME COURT JUSTICES by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
The Republican Party of Florida announced Friday that its executive board had voted unanimously to oppose the retention of Florida’s three Supreme Court justices who are up for merit retention, R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy Quince.
The announcement, released with an statement attributed to no one, was not clear how much of the party’s resources would be used to campaign against the three justices. The justices have expected an aggressive assault against them but had not expected it to come from the party, since many of the state’s former bar presidents and Supreme Court justices had openly advocated against politicizing the judicial campaign.
… The announcement was immediately condemned by supports of the justices.
“Florida has had its experience with partisan political involvement in our judiciary and we know that it has been corrupting,” said Sandy D’Alemberte, former President of the American Bar Association and the former Dean of the College of Law and President of Florida State University. “The announcement that the Republican Party is engaged in this effort would shock those wonderful Republican statesmen who helped create the merit selection and merit retention processes. Surely we do not want to go back to the broken past.”
TIMES EDITORIAL: “A SUPREME ATTEMPT TO INTIMIDATE”
Whether voters agree or disagree with the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in that case or any other case is not what merit retention is about, regardless of any special-interest group’s effort to corrupt the process. States such as Iowa have seen their supreme court justices thrown out by voters because of the unpopularity of a legal decision. Floridians should not fall for such an attempt to intimidate the state’s highest court and compromise its independence.
LISA EDGAR REAPPOINTED TO PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
Gov. Rick Scott announced late Friday that he is satisfied with the direction of the state’s powerful utility board and re-appointed Tallahassee lawyer Lisa B. Edgar to a third term on the panel.
Edgar, 49, has served on the Florida Public Service Commission since January 2005, when she was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush. She urged the governor to give her another four-year term to give the commission continuity in the wake of frequent turnover. … Edgar will now become the third commissioner to serve a three-year term.
Scott had been urged to reject Edgar by a Gainesville-based Tea Party group and state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who accused Edgar of favoring the utility industry in rate cases.
The governor rejected those arguments and also passed over three other candidates, former state Rep. Ken Littlefield, Tampa Bay Water official Donald Polmann and Aventura Commissioner Luz Weinberg.
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CD 22: LOIS FRANKEL RELEASES FIRST ANTI-HASNER AD
Democrat Lois Frankel released her first anti-Hasner TV ad, accusing Republican Adam Hasner of causing a $6,000 yearly increase to seniors in Medicare cost and giving the wealthy $250,000 a year tax breaks while raising taxes for the middle class. View here.
SENATE REPUBLICANS RAISING COIN TODAY DURING FSU VS. CLEMSON GAME by Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel
While the game is a sellout, there is apparently room for some like-minded and deep-pocketed Republicans to watch Saturday night’s much-hyped Florida State-Clemson football game alongside some of the Legislature’s most powerful politicians.
This is the fundraising invitation that went out this week for the game, from incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, Senate Majority Leader (and future Prez) Andy Gardiner, and aspiring leaders Jack Latvala, Joe Negron, John Thrasher, and Lizbeth Benacquisto.
SD 4 – REPUBLICAN AARON BEAN ACTUALLY HAS CASH ON HAND THAN DEM. NANCY SODERBERG by James Call of the Florida Current
Aaron Bean depleted his campaign fund in a bruising primary with Mike Weinstein. Bean spent more than $139,000 to secure the GOP nomination for the Northeast Florida seat. His latest finance report shows he raised $62,000 and spent $52,000 in the past month. Now, Bean has less money on hand than his Democratic competitor Nancy Soderberg.
A foreign policy advisor to former President Bill Clinton, Soderberg’s fundraising was boosted with about $24,000 in contributions from the Florida Democratic Party. Soderberg has $86,000 on hand compared with Bean’s $50,000.
SD 8 – FRANK BRUNO NARROWLY OUTRAISES DOROTHY HUKILL
Bruno, the chairman of the Volusia County Council, raised $65,895 for the period compared with $64,275 for Hukill, a Republican state representative from Port Orange.
To date, Bruno has brought in $307,863, has spent $118,099 and has approximately $189,000 cash-on hand.
Hukill has now raised just over $395,000 for her campaign, has spent $241,252 and has just under $154,000 cash-on-hand.
SD 14 – DARREN SOTO OUTRAISES MCBRIDE, BUT WILL MCBRIDE STARTS TO SPEND by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
Democratic Rep. Darren Soto again outraised Republican lawyer Will McBride in the race for Senate District 14, though the deep-pocketed McBride began spending cash on television advertising.
Soto raised $30,000 in the reporting period from Aug. 10 to Sept. 14, while McBride raised just $16,000.
But McBride, who had earlier loaned his campaign $205,000 and is trying to prove to Republican Senate leaders that it is worth spending money on his race, also outspent Soto more than 7-to-1 during the period. McBride spent $87,000 — $78,000 of that on television air time —while Soto spent just $12,000.
Including the money he loaned himself, McBride now has $142,000 in cash on hand. Soto has $110,000 left.
SD 34 – THIS TIME AROUND ELLYN BOGDANOFF OUTRAISES MARIA SACHS
In the fundraising quarter ending September 14, Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff outraised her opponent Democrat Maria Sachs by about 30 percent.
Bogdanoff raised $94,841 during the period, bringing her overall total to $497,776; Sachs reported raising $63,866 during the period for an overall total of $274,426.
Still, the newly drawn district would appear to favor Sachs: Two years ago, voters selected Alex Sink over Rick Scott, 55 percent to 44 percent, and in 2008 the district voted for Barack Obama 58 percent to 42 percent.
HD 7 – HALSEY BESHEARS WIDENS FUNDRAISING LEAD
With a boost from the state GOP, Monticello Republican Halsey Beshears has built a large fund-raising lead over Democrat Robert Hill in the House District 7 race, new records via the News Service of Florida show.
Beshears received $73,400 in contributions between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, with the Republican Party of Florida chipping in $44,000 of that amount. In all, Beshears has raised a total of $248,564, though much of that was spent before he won the August primary election. Hill, a Bristol Democrat, raised $11,150 during the latest reporting period and has collected a total of $54,825 for his primary and general-election campaigns.
HD 30 – PLAKON HAS RAISED MORE THAN CASTOR DENTEL, BUT HAS LESS CASH ON HAND
In the closely watched race for House District30, Rep. Scott Plakon raised another $44,000. He also spent more than anyone else during the period: $123,000, which included $100,000 for a television ad buy. Plakon has now raised $242,000 overall and has about $54,000 cash on hand.
Democrat Karen Castor Dentel, Plakon’s opponent in the district that includes Altamonte Springs, Maitland, Casselberry and Eatonville, raised $25,000 during the period and has raised $97,000 overall. But because she has spent less than Plakon, she has more money remaining, with $75,000.
HD 47 – REPUBLICAN BOB BROOKS A BIG WINNER IN THE FUNDRAISING SWEEPSTAKES by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
Former state Rep. Bob Brooks, who is running in House District 47, was the biggest winner in the cash sweepstakes, raising $70,000 during the period. He has now raised $208,000 overall and spent about $63,000, leaving him $145,000 for the sprint to Election Day.
His Democratic opponent, former Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart, had the poorest results of anyone in the region’s major races. She raised a meager $14,000, boosting her total to $51,000. But she hasn’t spent much of it yet, so she has about $39,000 left to spend while campaigning in a district that runs from Winter Park through downtown Orlando to Conway.
HD 49 – JOE SAUNDERS A BRIGHT SPOT FOR DEMOCRATS by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel
The bright spot for Democrats: Joe Saunders in House District 49. The civil-rights advocate raised $42,000 during the period and has now taken in $151,000 overall – more even than politically connected Castor Dentel. He has about $36,000 cash on hand.
His opponent in a district that includes the University of Central Florida, Republican Marco Pena, raised $28,000 during the period. Pena has now raised $101,000 overall and has about $18,000 left to spend. Both Saunders and Pena had to defeat primary challengers.
HD 67 – ED HOOPER’S BIG LEAD
Republican incumbent Ed Hooper raised $37,675, adding to his huge financial lead over Democratic challenger Ben Farrell in House District 67.
Hooper reported an overall total of $192,915. Hooper collected checks from interests as diverse as the Florida AFL-CIO, Chiro-PAC, Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Hooper’s campaign has spent just $29,046, leaving the third-term incumbent with a healthy warchest for the general election.
Farrell raised $1,545 to bring his overall total to $11,355. One notable expenditure by Farrell, albeit on July 12, was to Bardine Hazlett Political Consulting, the firm of local Democratic strategists Johnny Bardine and Shari Hazlett.
HD 106 – PETER RICHTER, LIBERTARIAN CHALLENGING REP. KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO, LOANS HIS CAMPAIGN $50K
Libertarian candidate Peter Richter has loaned his campaign $50,000 as he tries to unseat state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo in House District 106, according to newly filed campaign-finance records via the News Service of Florida.
Richter, a Naples resident who earlier this year reported a net worth of nearly $3.8 million, has received $5,821 in contributions since entering the race in 2011. Passidomo reported raising $6,350 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14 — the latest reporting period — and had an overall total of $147,507.
TAILGATE FUNDRAISER TODAY AT FSU GAME FOR HD 71 CANDIDATE JIM BOYD
Join Charlie Dudley, Robert Reyes, Richard Reeves, and Paul Mitchell as they host a Tailgate Fundraiser for HD 71 candidate Jim Boyd. The event begins at 5:00 p.m. before the Clemson vs. Florida State football game in Lot 6, Space 50. A contribution of $250 is suggested.