Friday, July 28, 2006

FLORIDA DIGEST July 28, 2006


2 attorney general candidates debate Schiavo case
'Skip' Campbell and Bill McCollum differ on Jeb Bush's role, with a slight
shift by McCollum.

Christopher Sherman
Sentinel Staff Writer

July 28, 2006

The leading Democratic contender to be the state's next attorney generalaccused Republican Bill McCollum of changing his position on the polarizingTerri Schiavo case after a debate in Orlando on Thursday.State Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell's campaign said the former Central Florida
congressman was repositioning himself for the general election since thelast of his competitors for the Republican nomination dropped out last week.McCollum's explanation of his position Thursday seemed to straddle theissue, illustrating what a touchy subject it remains for Republicans tryingo maintain a conservative base yet not take a position polls show most
Floridians disagree with.


Poll: Harris leads GOP rivals but trails far behind Nelson

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE - U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Sarasota holds a double-digitlead in her bid to win the Republican Senate nomination in September, butshe trails incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Melbourne by 37 points in ageneral election matchup, a new poll shows.Nelson, who is completing his first Senate term, was favored by 61 percent,while Harris had 24 percent and 11 percent were undecided in the surveyreleased Thursday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.''It would be hard to come up with a reasonable scenario in which Sen.Nelson has anything to worry about,'' Quinnipiac's Peter Brown said.The results were similar to a Mason -Dixon poll announced Wednesday thatshowed Nelson with 57 percent and Harris with 29 percent.



Crist's populist theme charms state's voters
John Kennedy
Tallahassee Bureau Chief

July 28, 2006

TAMPA -- Charlie Crist had been dodging summer thunderstorms as his campaignplane passed over Tampa Bay, but the clouds parted by the time he stoodbefore a friendly crowd at a landmark restaurant.But then, it's almost always sunny in Crist's political world."It's great what's happening in our state," Crist tells 200 supportersgathered for breakfast at La Teresita Restaurant on Tampa's working-classwest side. "You know, Ronald Reagan used to talk about America being theshining city on the hill. He's right. But if that's true, then Florida isthe shining state on the mountaintop."Crist, Florida's attorney general and Republican front-runner in the racefor governor, is packaging himself as a feel-good optimist who easily evokesthe names and imagery of Reagan, former Florida U.S. Sen. Connie Mack andGov. Jeb Bush as he campaigns across the state.


Article published Jul 28, 2006
Jul 28, 2006

Nelson backs drilling bill after senators vow to protect it during talks with House

Sun Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Sen. Bill Nelson said Thursday he would vote for legislationopening waters near Florida to offshore oil and gas drilling - disappointinghis environmental allies but not necessarily defeating them.The Florida Democrat made his decision after receiving written assurancesfrom the majority leader, Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, and the Democratic leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, that they would protect the bill duringnegotiations with the House. Reid further promised to lead a filibuster ifthe measure returns altered.Given the gap between the House and Senate, these pledges to Nelson cloudthe prospect of a bill reaching President Bush's desk this year. The Senateis expected to pass its version of the bill next week.


July 28, 2006
Gov. Bush signs intangibles tax repeal into law

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE -- A tax on stocks, bonds and other intangible property thatGov. Jeb Bush repeatedly has labeled "insidious" will be repealed by a billhe signed into law Thursday. Only about 300,000 people, some of Florida's wealthiest citizens, will share in annual savings totaling more than $131 million. That's because exemptions have steadily increased since 1999. Just those individuals with more than $370,000 in taxable assets and couples with more than $620,000 still are required to pay the tax."The repeal of this tax eliminates a penalty on Floridians who takeresponsibility for their own retirement by saving and investing over a lifetime," Bush said in a statement. "It is a bad tax." The Republican-sponsored legislation won easy passage 100-20 in the House and 30-9 in the Senate.


Crist receives $225K from auto dealers

AutoNation and other car dealers have given substantial financial support to
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign.


While the general election for the next governor of Florida is more thanthree months away, there's no doubt who car dealers and other businesses inthe auto industry want to succeed Jeb Bush.

Republican Charlie Crist, Florida's attorney general, has received 465contributions totaling about $225,000 from executives and companies in theautomotive industry. That's by far the most the industry has contributed toany candidate in the race.

Among the biggest contributors is Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, thenation's largest auto retailer. About 115 AutoNation dealerships in 10states, as well as a handful of company executives, have given more than acombined $60,000 to Crist's campaign.


South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

July 28, 2006

ISSUE: District considers borrowing millions for construction.

The Broward County School District has a problem. Actually three problems.It will take a lot of hard work and honest public service to overcome them.

The district needs money. That's the first problem. But the other two may beworse, because they'll impede the district's ability to solve the first one.

The School Board is considering whether to ask voters to approve a $749million bond issue to pay for school construction projects. But the timingcouldn't be worse. That's the second problem.

The loan would be paid back through substantial increases in property taxesover a 20-year period. But county residents are already overwhelmed byrising property taxes and insurance costs.


Governor hopefuls try to make religion an issue

By Anthony Man
Political writer

July 28, 2006

One of the last places a Democratic candidate for governor wants to beassociated with Christian conservatives is in the voter-rich liberal Jewishcondominiums of South Florida.

That's why Democrat Rod Smith hopes to draw attention away from hisson-in-law's appearance this spring before the Miami-based Christian FamilyCoalition by reminding voters that his opponent, Jim Davis, voted in favorof school prayer 10 years ago.

With five weeks before the Sept. 5 primary, the collision of religiousideologies and politics is being watched closely for its possible effects oncondo voters.



Voters unsure about Cabinet

About a third of Florida voters haven't settled on candidates for attorney general, chief financial officer or agriculture commissioner,a new Mason-Dixon poll found.


In a sign that Democrats have a shot at regaining a toehold in Tallahassee, a new poll says three candidates for the Florida Cabinet aren't far behind their Republican rivals.

The Democratic Party hasn't had one of its own in statewide office in the Capitol since former Attorney General Bob Butterworth stepped down in 2002. All four members of the Cabinet -- including the governor -- are Republicans.

But the climate may be more favorable for Democrats this year, with a fairly strong slate of candidates and two open seats up for grabs -- incumbents Charlie Crist, the attorney general, and Tom Gallagher, the chief financial officer, are running for governor.

On average, about one-third of Florida voters haven't made up their minds about the races for attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner, according to the Mason-Dixon survey of 625 voters who say they vote regularly.