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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — April 16

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IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING: Republicans fret about Connie Mack campaign [Times/Herald] "From Washington to Tallahassee to local GOP clubs, GOP professionals and activists are buzzing about Mack's underwhelming campaign and debut as a statewide candidate. Some want another candidate…Only twice has Mack appeared for candidate forums with the two other major Republican candidates, and each time conservative activists who questioned and listened to all three voted Mack the weakest of the bunch."

SEE ALSO: Mack and LeMieux are now fighting over money [News-Press] "Campaign manager Brian Seitchik said LeMieux raised just over $305,000, and is sitting on $1.2 million in cash. 'Cash on hand is what matters most and LeMieux and Mack the Fourth are neck in neck,' Seitchik said in a news release. Indeed they are close, Mack announcing earlier he had $1.3 million in the bank."

MEANWHILE…Breaking the foreign-oil habit [Politico guest column by Sen. Bill Nelson] "To lower gas prices, we need to keep increasing existing domestic oil, keep increasing fuel-efficiency standards and crack down on oil speculators who drive up the price of oil. We can even help balance our budget by ending the billions in special tax breaks that big oil companies receive."


SCANDAL ALERT: Crist & LeMieux knew about RPOF Greer fundraising deal [Tampa Bay Times] "Harry Sargeant III, former finance chair for the Florida Republican of Party says he and other party officials knew all about it when former GOP chairman Jim Greer and the party's executive director took over fundraising operations…Sargeant said he, Gov. Charlie Crist and George LeMieux, the governor's former chief of staff, had several discussions about the situation and determined in January 2009 that Greer should terminate the contract with O'Rourke and take over fundraising responsibilities with Johnson."

Ex-RPOF official says Crist, LeMieux approved Jim Greer fundraising [Orlando Sentinel] "Former Florida Republican finance chairman Harry Sargeant III -- a South Florida billionaire entangled in his own financial scandal -- has signed a sworn statement that former Gov. Charlie Crist and George LeMieux first suggested the idea that Jim Greer take over as party fundraiser."

More evidence showing GOP party leaders knew about Jim Greer's funding raising deal [WTSP] "There is new evidence tonight showing former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer was acting with the knowledge of party leaders when he formed a company to do the fund raising for the party."


ON THE VEEP FRONT -- GONZALES: RUBIO NOT READY TO BE VP Former AG Gonzales: Rubio not a wise VP pick [CNN] "Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would not be a wise pick for number two on the GOP ticket this year, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told CNN Saturday. Rubio is not ready to be president, Gonzales said, and the vice president 'must be ready on day one.'"

THE EDUCATION GOVERNOR? HARDLY. UF, other schools nearing infrastructure ‘crisis' [Gainesville Sun] "A lack of state funding for building construction and maintenance has University of Florida officials struggling for ways to repair aging buildings and construct new ones…UF's budget woes go beyond buildings, with the university's colleges and units last week being informed of $38.2 million in cuts that are expected to lead to layoffs. An additional lack of money for buildings means UF must defer scheduled maintenance and concentrate instead on repairing things that break down, university officials said."

Governor, veto Florida Polytechnic [Tampa Bay Times editorial] "This is an extraordinary opportunity for Scott to show Floridians what it means to hold government accountable. Planning thoughtfully, spending wisely and measuring results have to be more than campaign talk."

ON THE CONGRESSIONAL FRONT — MORE BAD INK FOR WEST, DEMS BOAST STRONG #s

Loser of the Week: Allen West [Tampa Bay Times] "The congressman representing Crazyville, Fla., last week declared that up to 81 Democrats in Congress are members of the Communist Party. But at least Sarah Palin thinks West would be the best choice for vice president."

Where's the outrage over Republican's 'communist' claim? [CNN Column] "If elected officials start to equate liberals with communists, it is time to break the glass in case of emergency, because we are losing any sense of perspective in American politics."

Rivera's Low Number [The Hill] Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) raised barely $100,000, a number that is sure to spark Republican concerns about his reelection prospects amid ongoing ethics issues. Rivera has almost $180,000 on hand, but his campaign also owes vendors and consultants more than $150,000.

Fitzgerald keeping pace with Buchanan on fundraising [Bradenton Herald] "The race between Vern Buchanan and Keith Fitzgerald for the local seat in Congress is shaping up as a competitive one -- at least when it comes to fundraising"

Webster trails Demings in fundraising, filing shows [Orlando Sentinel] “U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, is falling behind Democratic opponent Val Demingswhen it comes to scoring money for their 2012 race. The freshman legislator raised less than $150,000 in the first three months of 2012, according to recent filings with election officials. That’s less than half the reported $330,000 that Demings, a former Orlando police chief, netted to start the year. Demings’ campaign also has reported $484,000 cash-on-hand, a slight edge over Webster’s $391,000.”


OTHER NEWS WE THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Florida Senate women flex muscles [Herald/Times] "Together, they defeated a massive expansion of private prisons, blocked an omnibus antiabortion bill from debate and prevented unregulated, out-of-state companies from taking over state-sponsored homeowners insurance. The unexpected force of unofficial leaders and whips had crossed party lines to build moderate coalitions aimed at thwarting priorities of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and his deputies."

More counties weighing joining Medicaid suit -- Flagler to weigh joining Medicaid lawsuit against state & Escambia may join Medicaid suit

Scott tries to woo back tea party in 'Tax Day' rally in Orlando [Orlando Sentinel] "Democrats, on the other hand, believe the governor is squirming, trying to balance priorities of the old-school Republican-dominated legislature and the tea party. 'It's certainly a tricky spot for this tea party darling,' said Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Brannon Jordan."

Scott may slash state's payment to workers' retirement plan [Gainesville Sun] "Three days after a trial judge ruled the Legislature’s 2011 effort to make public employees pay part of their pension costs was unconstitutional, lawmakers passed another pension bill reducing government contributions to more than 100,000 public employees."