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And So It Begins

Florida Senate Outlook

by Derek Newton

For years, the Florida Senate has been the only bastion of common sense in our out-of-touch and out-of-control state government.

Since a 20-20 tie in the 40 member body in 1992 forced an odd power-sharing agreement, Democratic numbers in the Senate have gone steadily downward to just 14 today. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the top races for the Florida Senate this year.

First on everyone's radar is District 16 - the seat being vacated by squishy Republican Jim Sebesta. The district leans Republican. Sebesta won the seat in a 52/48 upset of Democratic Rep. Mary Brennan in the 1998 contest to replace Senator Charlie Crist. Yes, that one.

Republicans have a compelling primary fight on their hands between two sitting members of the House: Frank Farkas of St. Petersburg and Kim Berfield of Clearwater.

Farkas is the self-described "Rodney Dangerfield" of politics. Since he won his House seat, he's been a target of Democrats each time squeaking by with small victories. The Chiropractor is a respected fundraiser having already raised about $92,000 and spent a little more than $30,000 leaving him a comfortable $62,000 in cash.

Berfield is an underestimated young and energetic Republican whose father and mother both served on the Clearwater City Commission. Berfield has raised $114,000 and spent about $15,000 leaving her a strong $99,000 to spend.

My money is on Berfield to win this primary. She's a tenacious campaigner and smart Republicans will see the wisdom in nominating a woman. But the field is wide open for a Hillsborough Republican to shake things up by running. With two strong Pinellas candidates, a Tampa entry could win the nomination just based on geography.

And such a scenario would be a blessing Rep. Charlie Justice - the Democratic candidate. Like Farkas, Justice has been a frequent and aggressive target of the opposition yet manages to win. Justice is moderate but understated and has already given pundits and legislative leaders night sweats by raising a paltry $9,000. A 10:1 disadvantage this early is downright terrifying.

Even though there's been talk about finding another candidate to carry the Democratic banner in this seat (Lars Hafner?), it's unlikely. It's more likely that, regardless of how Justice performs, the Democratic Party will come to his rescue.

Winning this seat will be tough. And it will take some top-tier strategic thinking and flawless execution - especially if Charlie Crist is the nominee for Governor. But it's possible. And possible means District 16 is the number one focus of Senate Democrats.

Republicans will make noises about picking-up Rod Smith's seat in the Senate.

But that's a joke.

Any seat where George Sheldon beat Charlie Crist for Education Commissioner is probably safe. Smith's seat is conservative but it's not Republican. Democrats outnumber Republicans in that seat by 30% and as long as we don't nominate an idiot, we should keep it.

District 24 probability isn't on the target list for Democrats. But it should be.

This space-coast seat is currently held by Sen. Bill Posey. That you've never heard his name is all you need to know. He's a lightweight. Posey won the seat in 2000 in a very close race (Posey got 51.8% as a sitting House member).

Posey hasn't been on the ballot since then (he faced a write-in only in 2002). The district leans Republican but only by about 3% and it covers Brevard County and the eastern outreaches of Orlando which Bill Nelson represented in Congress. Nelson continues to enjoy strong political support there and with Nelson running statewide it may be the only place in Florida where coattails work for us.

Most importantly, former Senator Patsy Kurth is sitting there. Kurth was a well-respected moderate who was termed out of the Senate in 2000 and lost a tough race for Congress that year against Dave Weldon (59/39). Kurth could enter the race with name ID and a fundraising base to re-claim her old seat.

And it's political malpractice not to field a credible challenger in Senate District 12 represented by Victor Crist. Kathy Castor almost won in 2000 – falling 52/48 and the district actually has more Democrats than Republicans. I don't think there's a chance to beat Crist. He's actually a Democrat who happens to be a member of the Republican Party. Moreover, it's a good time to be running in Tampa with the last name Crist.

But the Castor example is why Democrats should get serious about this seat. Castor lost but used that race as a springboard onto the County Commission and now is the frontrunner to replace Jim Davis in Congress. The Senate seat will be open in 2010 and it would be a treat to have someone with name ID and experience in the wings.

Even though Democrats can't win the seat and shouldn't spend resources there, the Republican primary in District 8 will be a national event. Former Senate President Jim King faces proselytizing pabulum pusher Randall Terry.

Terry is the poster-child for right wing nut job with the resume to match: big wig in the terrorist group Operation Rescue and spokesperson for the Schindler family in the Terri Schiavo scandal.

King is a moderate. Republican, but a voice of reason in the Senate. If Terry knocks off King, the implications are not bad. They are catastrophic. Every Republican will lurch right and Terry's victory will be used a symbol of approval for the abuse of power stunt the Republicans pulled in the Schiavo case.

If ever there was a time to support a Republican, this may just be it.

It's a long shot to think Democrats will come into the 2007 session with anything more than 15 members. But even that would be a cause for celebration - especially if King wins and the other Republican moderates feel empowered to be rational, thoughtful Senators.


7/27/2005 8:07 AM, by Anonymous Mr. C

If ever there was a time to support a Republican, this may just be it.

Hearing this from you is enough reason to donate money to King's opponent. This is exactly why King should be defeated, he's a pawn of special interests and democratic operatives. I think you may have just created Randall Terry's first fundraising letter.



7/27/2005 10:40 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I totally disagree with your analysis in the Senate seat currently held by Rod Smith. A Republican can and will win the seat because of who the likely candidate will be -- the Alachua County Sheriff. He's very popular and has won county-wide before. This will be a case of a candidate winning in a district despite his party registration.



7/27/2005 11:37 AM, by Anonymous Expertwitness

No offense, Derek, but you are off base on a few things.

First, King will win easily. He will raise 2 million dollars and Adam Goodman will buy more f-king television than Merv Griffin in Jacksonville, making Terry look like an idiot.

Second, the Republicans can win the Gainesville seat if Ed Jennings wins the primary. Sad but true. (can you say trips to Africa)

Third, Charlie Justice is one lazy mofo. The Ds are going to recruit Brad Culpepper to run in the St Pete/Tampa senate seat, and he is going to kick the balls off any Republican in that seat.



7/27/2005 12:23 PM, by Blogger DerekTNG


No offense taken because we mostly agree.

I think King will win that seat. My comment was that it's an interesting seat. That's all. And the Democrats need to be rooting for King.

And I also said that if we nominate an idiot, we can lose the Smith seat. And I don't think Jennings is a good choice. But if we make a good choice there, I'm not worried (despite what anon said).

I agree Justice needs to get motivated. But I will be surprised if Culpepper runs. We tried to recruit him in 2000. He's a good guy. Decent candidate, but I don't see it. And I remember his comments on his way out of town about my home team Bucs. Not too cool. As I said, I think it's far more likely that the party comes in and saves Charlie.

Mr. C. is a whack job. So I'm not even going to comment.

Thanks for your comments, though.



7/27/2005 12:43 PM, by Anonymous spencer

Mr. C. is a whack job.

True enough, but as right-wing whack jobs go, I've (so far) found him to be one of the more civil whack jobs on the internets . . .



7/27/2005 12:49 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

In defense of Mr. C. It is always good to have the "perspective" of the other side. He is a real right winger judging by his website, but, again, good to know what the dark side is "thinking".



7/27/2005 1:29 PM, by Blogger Peter

In S-16, there is a talk of LeRoy Collins III jumping into the race from Hills. If Farkas and Berfield split Pinellas, a Tampa Republican could win.

But Derek, I am almost close to agreeing with you on Berfield (and I was the one who came up with Frankly Farkas back in the day). Kim looks great lately, she's trimmed and seems very ready to campaign.

Still, I think Farkas' machine is better than Berfield's. The Mallard Group is the best consulting firm here nowadays. And I think they will be able to mix up the media better than Kim. Farkas' TV, billboard, etc., will be better than Kim because she'll rely too much on DMS. Frank's staff is also better.

As for Charlie Justice, I don't know what to say. If I complain, I'm not being a good democrat. If I complain, local people here will bitch that I am jealous he is not my client. But to be honest, I just can't tell you how widespread the disappointment is here. First of all, Charlie isn't that well know in this part of the Bay to begin with. And his campaign style is just so lackluster, I don't see how he ever gets back the advantage he has ceded to Frank or Kim. Then again, you may be right, the state Dems and the Academy may be able to save the day.



7/27/2005 2:37 PM, by Anonymous blogger x

Rod Smith's seat will transfer to Bill Oelrich who consistently wins elections in a democrat county as a republican.

Perry McGriff is a nobody, and he will get his clock cleaned by Jennings who will lose all the backwoods bluedog d's in alachua to Oelrich. See how that works.

St. Pete seat will stay in R hands in the year Charlie Crist is running for Gov. Justice has no chance. He should just stay in the House and continue with being a mediocre member of the legislature that will never pass a bill. Just like all the other Dems, he has no real ideas.

I tell you what, if Terry can tap into the Schiavo fundraising network he might have a chance to defeat King from the Right. It's a real long shot, but it can happen. You have to remember that R's nominate from the right and King is hated by that wing of the party. If I were Jim King, I wouldn't want my ugly face all over TV. His money would be better spent reminding the voters of Terry's extremist borderline terrorist behavior in the past.



7/27/2005 4:46 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Let me second Spencer's comments about Mr. C ... he certainly is a civil fellow.



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7/28/2005 6:46 AM, by Blogger BlueDawgDem

King is almost as safe as safe can get. He does a good job back in the district and despite the impressions that the Times-Union might get, he is well liked. I think he crushes Terry.

As for the Rod Smith seat, I concur with the sentiments that this is no where near a sure thing for the Democrats. As Registration is almost meaningless in this part of the state, and while redistricting secured the seat for Smith, it hardly did so for the Democrats--and while George Sheldon carried the district, so did Jeb Bush (and Tom Gallagher). The Dems need to be on their game here.

As for the Bay area seat, I agree that Justice needs to step it up. There is no reason why this should not be competitive. However, he should pray that a Tampa-based Republican gets in and wins the R primary.

Finally, S-12---it is fools gold---not going to happen. The Republicans do hold a slight registration advantage, but that part of Hillsborough has been performing far more Republican in recent years than the registration figures. Hopefully for the Dems, by 2010 there will be a new map allowing for a more competitive seat.



7/28/2005 8:09 AM, by Blogger DerekTNG


I agree.

As I said earlier, I think King is safe. My point was that the race will get lots of attention and that it's not a typical GOP primary.

Rod Smith's seat should be safe. Emphasis on the "should be." It has a heavy Democratic lean and a conservative or moderate Dem should be able to win it as Rod did.

I also agree that we're not going to win the Tampa seat. My original post said, "I don't think we're going to beat Crist." Rather, I think we should use it as an opportunity to get someone ready to run in the future - as with Castor.

Good points. And, as always, good to hear your thoughts.



7/28/2005 3:59 PM, by Blogger AFBackbreaker

derek - you miss one key problem of any of your predictions about democratic success: the democratic party is running the races! the debacle we've witnessed over the last decade didn't just happen - the geniuses tasked with "running" the senate operation lined their pockets and ran campaigns into the ground (hi bob butterworth). and now you have a south florida democrat in charge who will bring his pathetic south florida local yokel consultants to do battle with the republican machine in tallahassee? mismatch of the relatively young century. these races are over before they start because the democratic campaign teams are pathetic.



7/28/2005 6:05 PM, by Anonymous Mr. C

you have a south florida democrat in charge who will bring his pathetic south florida local yokel consultants to do battle with the republican machine in tallahassee?

We keep the cogs well oiled and always turning.



7/28/2005 9:22 PM, by Blogger Joe

I don't believe the Democrats have a snowballs chance of winning Posey's seat. That's the sort of seat where we constantly think the R is a lightweight and we ger our clocks cleaned.

If Al Lawson leaves the Senate, that seat which should be a Democratic hold could be interesting also. I don't think Loranne Ausley or any Tallahassee based candidate is right for that district.



7/29/2005 5:12 AM, by Anonymous Redneck Democrat

Interesting discussion....

S-14 (the Smith seat) should stay Dem, UNLESS the Alachua Sheriff gets in, then it's still not a done deal - he has to continue his trend of winning in a D county, this time against all the resources that the FDP will put into that race to hold the seat - not sure he's had that much opposition before.

Also, depending on Dem Gov primary and the shakeout, you could have Rod Smith on the ballot in some capacity (hopefully the top), which gives any Dem a big boost there.

King should be safe - the thought of Randall Terry in the Florida Senate should give any reasonable-minded person shivers. (I forget, we are talking about REPUBLICAN primary voters... haha. Due respect to Mr. C, of course)

If Al Lawson leaves the Senate, that seat which should be a Democratic hold could be interesting also. I don't think Loranne Ausley or any Tallahassee based candidate is right for that district.

Totally disagree - this is a Dem seat: about 30% minority, a full 50% of voters from Leon County. I think it's tough for anybody NOT from Leon County to have/build enough exposure to win that seat - D or R, but it will stay Dem.

Justice better get his S#*T in order or he's done, if he's not already. Welcome to the big-time.

now you have a south florida democrat in charge who will bring his pathetic south florida local yokel consultants to do battle with the republican machine in tallahassee...

Backbreaker, I think I need to remind YOU that FDP isn't a Party, we're a lose coalition of interest groups!

Seriously, quality of South Florida Dem consultants notwithstanding, the Repubs are definitely doing something right, and 8 years of dominance is a long time to keep those cogs well-oiled, as Mr. C said.



7/29/2005 6:38 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

now you have a south florida democrat in charge who will bring his pathetic south florida local yokel consultants to do battle with the republican machine in tallahassee...

Could we be talking about David Brown and Dan Lewis? I toally 100% agree with Af Backbreaker that this will undermine the party's senate efforts further.



7/29/2005 6:52 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

The party's senate effort is really pathetic and has been for years. The solution- dive deeper into the minor leagues and go after dinky consultants who lose municipal races regularly in Broward. Dan Lewis and David Brown are despised by over half the county and have no knowledge of the state as whole. Heck, they probably think the Democrats still run the state because half the Broward Democratic legislators still behave that way. My prediction: Dan Lewis makes well over 150 k on the Senate races and the Democrats continue to lose seats. Derek, this is just harsh reality.



7/29/2005 7:32 AM, by Anonymous Redneck Democrat

Funny, I've never even heard of those guys... not that I'm in a hotbed of Democratic activism or anything up here, but I do try to keep up with who's who.

It is telling that the Dems toughest races this year (most of them suburban, rural or at least "swing" districts) would be run by folks from the least "competitive" area of Florida.




7/29/2005 7:41 AM, by Blogger R2K

I cannot say that I agree with everything you say, or what others say here, frankly I dont with much of it, but great page still!

I like to read it and enjoy it a great deal!




7/29/2005 9:13 AM, by Blogger flworld

Dan Lewis & David Brown that's funny.

Brown just lost a gimmie race against Aleman for judge -- she's the judge that Bush appointed who took major heat about cases and was skewered by the press as a right winger. Every one thought she'd be a goner come election time.

Nonetheless, in liberal Democratic Broward, having almost twice the opponent's money & the papers on their side -- Brown's candidate lost and Aleman is still judge.

Brown did Geller's Senate race against Bogdanoff and he was put on the run by the GOP even though it was a very Democratic seat.

Lewis from what I heard is about selling his database. An expert on winning swing seats? I doubt it.

But yeah I've heard that Geller is tight with Lewis and and Brown and heck the Democratic Party is known for croynism so why not make it Brown and Lewis' turn to make lots of money and we lose some more seats. At least we are consistent!



7/29/2005 9:23 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous


I agree we are all about recycling operatives - heck look at the House, we rehired the same guy from last cycle who I heard from others is Mr. I Have My Own Agenda and is a pain in the butt to boot. Heck I don't expect every operative to be likeable but we aren't hiring people with a record of any sorts. It seems like if someone can pull off being bitter about every one else and criticize the party -- then they are given a chance to show their worth. However, I think its time we actually hire some people with a real track record. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to criticize the party. We seem to hire either the same old people that have been part of the problem or people that have been part of the problem but reiivent themselves as critics of the same process they were a part of. I am sure the Republicans are watching this spectacle and laughing.



7/29/2005 9:31 AM, by Blogger Joe

I agree with FL World on Dan Lewis. He is awful!



7/29/2005 10:19 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

The guy that ran the house races last year, from what I understand, is not back in Florida this year.



7/29/2005 10:22 AM, by Blogger AFBackbreaker

I find it comical that people on this blog can't see the difference between real political operatives and the local yokels who just suck campaigns dry. a guy like kory mitchell has a national reputation (positive), gets offers from every corner of this country and gets dragged into a horrible situation in the Maddox campaign where the manager is a nightmare that no one likes and he's a bad guy yet we'll welcome the local yokels with open arms where nobody outside their little corner of the world has heard of them.



7/29/2005 11:05 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

From what I've heard the House caucus director is back I don't know the guy but a bunch of people call him Steve the Snake and say he's an example of another operative who is about their own power moves behind the scenes as opposed to the party. Again I don't care about personality some of the nastiest people are good operatives but I hear he doesn't have much experience, he just criticizes others.

I don't mean to pick on him because I've not directly dealt with him so who knows but I've encountered a bunch of these types the critics --the operatives who just shoot everyone else down without their own record to stand on.

That's why it might be worth bringing in some people from out of state. Us Democrats can be too into our own egos as opposed to the party -- its one of the reasons why I think the GOP is so better organized.



7/29/2005 11:06 AM, by Blogger Orlando Democrat

Why isn't Constantine being discussed? He's ripe for defeat- he's a womanizer an alcoholic and a liar to boot.



7/29/2005 11:10 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I think the Democrats need someone with national experiecne to turn around the ship. Jared Asch is probably the most connected Florida Democratic operative in Washington.

Yeah, yeah I know what you're thinking- he's just an over anxious kid. But since leaving Florida in 2000, Jared has worked for NJDC, Joe Lieberman and has raised lots of cash for Democratic congressional candidates across the nation. Jared is also very well connected in Florida boasting close ties with Senator Dave Aronberg among others.

Instead of promoting the usual losers who keep giving away elections, I would hope we take a look at Jared and others like him who bring a fresh perspective to the party.



7/29/2005 11:59 AM, by Blogger BlueDawgDem

As for the out of state crowd, let us not forget that the Kerry effort, the Castor effort, and the State House effort were all run by people from New Jersey.

Kerry lost.
Castor lost.
State House lost three.

Is that a record we really want to repeat?

Personally, I would argue that the primary problem with the FDP has been that the Party has never truly existed as a fundraising or organizational tool, rather, it has served to be little more than a tool to hire consultants and staff, and to run election activitites for six months out of every two years. While ourside has seen a phenominal turnover in staff, the Republicans have developed a machine that runs year round, and has some consistency among staff. The Florida Democratic Party has ever truly existed as a "political party." For example, no political party would ever totally cede State Senate races, like was done in 2004.

I do hope that Thurman will take a longer term view of these matters, using this cycle to build on the next, and so on. You can't run before you can walk, meaning this is not the time to set unachievable goals, but rather to begin building a foundation---stronger local parties, better data, message discipline from activists to elected officials and some consistency from cycle to cycle among party staff.

Finally, I do not believe that any party can be built on a foundation of consultants. Do consultants have their place? Absolutely---to consult and advise in their area of expertise, not to run the Party or try to control one area of the state or another. The FDP's strength going forward will be found in good staff and active local parties, who together create an organization that provides the base for candidates and consultants to win races. I don't care how smart the candidate or consultant is, wins will be few and far between unless the FDP and local organizations first lay the groundwork to identify the voters and turn them out to vote.

That---and redistricting reform :-)



7/29/2005 1:21 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I agree with some of what BlueDawg has to say:

Consultants should not be the driving force of the party. In fact, The R's from what I understand don't have set consultants for their targeted races but let each individual campaign choose whom they want.

We all know that party leaders and operatives like to push their own consultants anyway either for comfort, financial reasons, or to keep control over the process. Thereby, the party's operatives should get out of the business of choosing their consultants considering the process by nature is rigged.

In terms of the permanent staff idea I don't know how that's going to help unless we shake up the mindset of the party. The opertaives I know most of them at least just basically bicker and think they are genuises becuase they can point out the party's flaws.

We need team oriented people that aren't into political backbiting and are just focused on building the party, regardless of whether they are out of town or in town.

I don't think out of towners are better but they are probably less into the political behind the scenes bashing that goes on with our party.

It seems that there are too mnay insecure people close to the party that are more into out gaming their perceived competitors then focused on bettering the party.

If we can find good people that are team oriented in this state terrific.

A lot of sports team go down with talented players who just are into the game for themselves and depress moral by being a negative and destructive force within the club house. I don't think things are too different with party building, negative people with their own agendas will keep us down.



7/29/2005 1:29 PM, by Blogger AFBackbreaker

i assume you are a floridian. Did you work directly on any state house races? if so, what were the results of those races?



7/29/2005 3:11 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Role players just like in sports are what wins elections. The FDP is filled with top heavy consultants who are all chiefs. No wonder our track record is so poor as a party. It would be like the Magic trying to field a team all good shooters who don't have any rebounding or defensive skill- a team full of MEmac's in reality.



7/29/2005 3:21 PM, by Blogger BlueDawgDem

One of the comments above was dead-on, which I should have mentioned, is that the mindset of the FDP must change. In my humble opinion, that starts with electing a leader at the top whose one and only goal is building a party. I do believe that is the case with Karen Thurman. At least (we all hope), she is not planning on using this to run for Governor or some other office.

Derek made some very good remarks a few days back about Tom Slade. Slade is an excellent model for how to put together a party. He focused on the fundementals, and hired a bunch of folks who were eager to get this state back.

My point about consultants is that we could hire James Carville or Paul Begala and still lose here, simply because we totally lack any party apparatus. I am sure Derek could back this up from his experience in Miami-Dade---he is obviously an extremely bright person, but his candidate was running upstream with a local party apparatus that according to one news report, doesn't even own a fax machine.

The good news, again, IMHO, is that the FDP is in such bad shape, that rebuilding---or quite frankly, building a new party, is the only route to choose.



7/30/2005 9:19 AM, by Anonymous Redneck Democrat

The "role player" comment was dead on. Seems to me the real question is, "What is the role of the Party?"

BlueDawg mentioned a lot of things I think the Party should do - recruit candidates, develop good databases, build strong local party organizations, training, etc.

But these things should all be done in the context of helping candidates win elections. Let's face it, politics today is much more candidate-driven than about party, at least on the margins that matter (winning swing voters)... which is where the whole consultant discussion comes in.

So, the Party shouldn't be about winning elections - it should be about empowering candidates and giving individual campaigns the resources to win (financial, volunteers, infrastructure, data, GOTV, etc) at all levels. This is definitely something the party has NOT been doing, instead preferring to cherry-pick a few big off-year municipals and the top-of-ticket races.

And let's be sure when we're talking about consultants that we're truly talking about consultants and not party operatives who are actually employees of a particular campaign or political/party committee.

(Then there's the whole consultant vs. vendor/advertiser discussion, which is a whole different post.)



7/30/2005 10:32 AM, by Blogger Sweety Gold

"It's a good time to be running in Tampa with the last name Crist."

Oh..the cynicism :)



7/30/2005 3:42 PM, by Blogger Kartik

The Rod Smith seat should be a Democratic hold more because of reapportionment than anything else. Certain areas which are reliably Democratic were taken out of Richard Mitchell's district and placed in Rod Smith's district in 2002.

Do I think we can beat Posey? Absoultely not. The results of recent races in Brevard County have not been encouraging. We had two good county commission candidates in 2002 who got almost no help and got thrashed. We had an opportunity to win the House seat vacated by Randy Ball in 2002, and barely made a blip on the screen and Dave Weldon gets more and more entrenched every cycle.

While Palm Bay has become more Democratic, areas between Melbourne and Cocoa have gotten more Republican in the last few years, and the areas in South Orlando aren't much better. While more and more hispanics are moving into the area just north of Orlando Int'l Airport, they are far from reliable Democratic voters.



7/31/2005 2:04 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

From an experienced political realist if you please:

Jim King knows he's in a serious race and will thereby run a full blown, successful Sen. reelection campaign.

The St. Sen. Dist. 14 seat being vacated by Rod Smith is indeed up for grabs. The Dist. closely resembles that area's St. Atty. Dist. and Republican St. Atty. Bill Cervone was just REelected there.

Steve Olerich, Alachua Co.'s Rep. Sheriff, has been reelected a couple of times and will be the leading candidate to replace Smith. Former Dem. St.Rep. Perry McGriff, will likely be the Dem. nominee. St. Rep. Ed Jennings' gaff on introducing a bill jeaopardizing No.Cent.Fla. Hospice has hurt him with white and black voters in both Parties. Plus, the Sen. Dist 11 is simply not a "black" Dist.

David Flagg former Gainesville Mayor, St. Rep., who was a Dem. and now retired as Shands' lobbyist was being encouraged to run for this St. Sen. seat, but he declined. If the R Sen. leadership sees any "slippage" in Olerich's electibility, they may yet try to get Flagg to run as a moderate R. He'd do well in the mainly Dem. voter Dist.

Charlie Justice, a good guy, does need to light a fire under his campaign motivation if he's going to have any chance of winning.

A Rep. agribusinessman named David Pope of Alachua, seems to be the front runner to take the place of conservative Dem. House Member Dwight Stansel, who is term limited out. No Ds surfaced here so far.

For Jennings' House seat, another Chestnut, Charles III, is lining up as a D. Right now he's a Gville City Commissioner. An Af.American Gulf War Vet, Cain Davis, is the likely Rep. candidate.

Rep. St. House Member Larry Cretul standing pat. Has another term before limited out. He may be interested in the Cliff Stearns' Cong. seat in the future.

The Labor Day weekend will not only kick off another football season but also the beginning of another very active political year to come !



8/01/2005 1:00 PM, by Anonymous Mr. C

He may be interested in the Cliff Stearns' Cong. seat in the future. I frankly don't know about all the races mentioned above, but you are correct that Cretul will not be stopping his political career when his term limit is up. Look for him to start making noise for himself this year and next.



8/01/2005 6:01 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Charlie Justice has been underestimated in the past, and has always prevailed. Farkas and Berfield are engaging in a bloody primary battle, which only helps Justice. I do admitt though that he needs to really begin raising some major cash!

The only GOP candidate currently running for Rod Smith's seat is Columbia County Commissioner Jennifer Flinn. She is an impressive young woman who will certainly make some noises in this race. In 2002, she unseated a longtime incumbent Dem Commissioner. Her husband is an Asst. Public Defender, just back from National Guard duty in Iraq.I think she will give Perry McGriff a run for his money!

I would be very surprised if Patsy Kurth came out of retirement. As for the Crist seat, forget about it. I busted my butt for Mary Figg against John Grant in that dist in 92, and we ran into a brick wall then, that still stands today!

There will be some interesting Dem Senate primaries for Campbell and Klein's seats in South Florida.



8/01/2005 7:16 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Regarding Senate 14 - remember this:

- Kerry, Castor, McBride, Dyer, and Nelson all won that district - not exactly "conservative" Democrats

- Jennings is working hard - $70,000 raised and McGriff is going on bike rides again

- Al Lawson wins in a district very similar to this in NW Florida, which most certainly does NOT perform Democrat at state and national level.

- Oelrich is strong in Alachua, but if he gets beat down just a few points there (I think he barely won reelection) then Dems could hold the seat.



8/01/2005 7:54 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

On the Tampa seat: Kathy Castor got 49% there. It's hardly a GOP lock.

And I think the original post was that we should be grooming someone.

I agree.



8/03/2005 5:53 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

The 49% was
BEFORE redistricting.



8/03/2005 8:51 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Jared Asch is a child among men. He is an annoying person that is full of himself. A real empty suit.

He should stop promoting himself on websites, and work to get someone elected first.



8/04/2005 11:08 AM, by Blogger Peter

Derek and BlueDawg are as close to being right as possible when they refer to the need for wholesale change within the Party infrastructure.

One of the best moves Slade and Co. made was hiring a top notch staff...just look at how many former RPOF staffers have gone on to prominent positions throughout the nation. One of the RPOF's field operatives went on to be, what, Georgia's ED...and they flipped the whole damn state there.

We have no one on par with a Frank Terrafirma, someone who puts his own agenda aside to win races for the entire party. Could you imagine what that guy could have made as a consultant in 2002 or 2004? Instead he goes to work for the Majority Office and they have one of their smoothest legislative years.

And there are literally dozens of Terrafirma wannabees. (And Frank, in his own words, is one of the nerdiest guys around.)

Now take our guys and put them up against theirs. Its no contest.

Let me give you an example of how inept our party is...I have a client here in H-52, Liz McCallum. Moved into the district three years ago, but is a great candidate and came very close to knocking off Farkas. She got screwed by the party at the end re: $$$, but oh well. She's back and ready to give it a shot. Now, here is at the least, a good candidate with a great personal resume who raised $80K on her own when no one gave her a chance. She's running in the ultimate swing district. Now, she got off to a slow fundraising start, but nothing bad for a D. And what does the party do...it out and out continues to recruit another D (who ran before for H-52 and lost and ran for city council and lost), rather than doing something to clear the field or help raise money for Liz.

The flip side of this coin is that the Rs, sensing a tough primary and a tough general, moved Rod Jones (son of Dennis) into a safe seat and cleared the field for Mel Sembler's godson. So, they are stronger in two seats in the most competitive county in the state.

This all sounds like personal bitchiness, but its not. I was an R who helped win 8 out of 8 seats in 2002, including King, Jones, Farkas and Culp. And I swtiched back to a D (at the height of victory) because I believed in our principles more. But I am just amazed at the ineptitude of the Democratic establishment in Tallahassee.



8/06/2005 12:04 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Agree the Dem operatives and staff within the party sucks especially the House. The problem is who wants to work for the House? So they get the same old second rate people year after year.



8/08/2005 2:16 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Peter - i sympathize. mccallum was a first rate candidate and as you point out, the house couldn't manage their money and it ran dry - bush league. not i hear the same house operatives, steve schale, jeff ryan, etc. are parading around another local yokel mail guy to all the house candidates so they can all make a boatload of money together and good candidates like yours get screwed. insanity.



8/22/2006 8:15 PM, by Anonymous Geraldine Jensen

Please help us get the word out about why to stop Ron Pritcahrd (Rep) from being relected in Brevard County -- see http://www.nomoreron.com



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