Monday, August 30, 2010

Will Special Interest Money & Old Line Republican Party of Florida Power Compromise Rick Scott?

As the Republican Unity Tour makes it's way across Florida, it might be a good time to raise questions about the future of Mr. Scott's campaign. His ascent to nominee was both costly ($50 million out of his pocket) and shocking to the state GOP establishment.

But even billionaires have self-imposed limits to which they'll gamble their fortunes. It appears now that Mr. Scott has reached his.

He's quoted in media as saying that 'I spent more than I would have liked to' on defeating McCollum. In the next breath he says, "I'm ready to start fund raising for the Republican Party of Florida," with the understanding that lots of that money will be funneled back to his campaign.

To accomplish this the, the traditional establishment of RPOF must be brought in. Which is what happened today in Orlando.

The Unity Tour brought together not only Rick Scott, but Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, and Florida State House Speaker Dean Cannon. Each congratulated the other without a hint of the rancor that marked the Republican governor's primary.

But here's the rub. If Mr. Scott has indeed reached his limit to self-financing his own campaign, are these show's of 'unity' coming at a price?

Mr. Scott has said publicly that he welcomes lobbyist money as long as they are supportive of his agenda. Fair enough, and we'll have to take him at his word. But hundreds of our Republican state legislators say that they are not influenced at all by lavish spending of corporate special interests that fund their campaigns, yet vote for boondoggles like SunRail, the US Sugar land deal, and others. These same entities make sure to reward helpful incumbents with millions at election time.

And still we have Mr. Scott who says that he is beholden to no one and will use the special interest money for his campaign with no strings attached. Let's hope so. But the biggest reason Scott beat McCollum was the desire by rank and file Republicans to stop the whole circus up in Tallahassee.

Remember this. When Bill McCollum got into trouble RPOF was able to funnel millions in corporate donations to prop up his campaign. Will Scott follow in the footsteps of others that have accepted special interest money? Wait and see!

Hope the old saying that 'he who pays the piper calls the tune,' does not apply here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rick Scott And RPOF Begin November Campaign With Lots Of Questions

Now that the contentious primary is over, Rick Scott will see if the Republican Party of Florida wants to back a winner. There are serious questions whether this will just be a token effort or sincere support.

The Orlando Sentinel has a great piece about the back-story of Scott and RPOF ( The usual cast of characters like powerful money lobbyists that oil the wheels in Tallahassee are understandably concerned. They're used to long term good old boy contacts not some newbie they've, ahem, 'never done business with before.'

And while some insiders are concerned with whether Scott can be bought, others like US Sugar, is looking to cash a $197 check from the state for an overpriced land deal. And the fact that they contributed $100's of thousands of dollars to fund anti-Scott commercials, will certainly make for some awkward moments.

But most intriguing of all might be whether RPOF and Republican state leaders would be happy to not strongly support Scott at all, purposely loosing the election for governor. The reasoning runs that if Scott were to win the governorship, it would strengthen him above the traditional RPOF power structure.

Scott could make wholesale changes in the board of RPOF and spoil state legislator's cozy system with lobbyists. No more trains to nowhere (like SunRail), no more sweetheart land deals (like the US Sugar one), and no more having taxpayers foot the bill for a brand new state prison (that was later given to a private corporation for free).

In order to protect all these 'family secrets' it has been suggested by those in the know, that RPOF may have a lot more to lose if Scott ever moves into the governor's mansion. Therefore a loss is preferable to a win.

To be fair there have been some congratulatory comments emanating from some legislators. A meeting is scheduled in Fort Lauderdale between Scott and party chairman John Thrasher. Wonder if Mr. Thrasher will soften his negative campaign rhetoric against Scott! He better.

But talk is cheap. Let's keep an eye on how Florida GOP executives respond to the 'new guy in town.'

Republicans Counting On Tea Party'er Support To Win Primaries Come Up Short

One lesson coming from last night's Florida primary: if you thought there were legions of tea party voters eager to support 'one of their own' running for office, you are mistaken. In every race with a grassroots candidate in it (speaking statewide here) there is single digit loss after loss. The career politicians and bureaucrats still rule at the ballot box.

But this does not have to be. Many of the mistakes of the tea party movement can be traced to running multiple grassroots candidates in the same race. Congressional District's 8 and 24 in central Florida are great examples of this.

Both had 3-4 conservative/constitutional tea party activists trying to win office for the first time. Pro's know that even winning a primary requires a lot of money AND volunteers. Splitting this up between multiple candidates yields the kind of results we saw last night. Lesson? Next time try and figure out who has the most resources, then persuade weaker candidates to 'get behind a winner'.

Likely these mistakes of underfunding and splitting votes will not be repeated again.

What is more troubling is the apparent lack of tea party voters at the poles. Statewide only about 23% registered voters bothered to go to the polls. In some major Florida counties, turnout was BELOW 20%. Wasn't this supposed to be the year of outraged voters yelling 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!'

Sounds more like a whimper to me!!

Well we live and learn. I've talked to several tea party organizers, activists, and candidates. Most are pretty depressed and I can't blame them. When you give you're all to a race and then see dismal results, you have every right to 'not even want to get out of bed the next morning' as one campaign aide told me.

One tea party leader even told me that "the tea party movement in Florida is dead." Say it ain't so! But the dwindling numbers at various state events indicate otherwise.

There's always November. Another battle is brewing. Time to get to work!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bill McCollum Continues To Whine That He Didn't Get Office He Deserved

I guess this is how career politicians take their final bow. As the audience boo's at an over-choreographed show, Mr. McCollum steps on stage and blames everyone but himself. Even in his concession speech, he rips Rick Scott with the same mud, oblivious that most people didn't like his summer performance and were actually rooting for the other guy.

But this is what McCollum's part of the Republican party stands for. Shady backroom deals and then closing off any opponents that aren't part of the club.

It took a multi-billionaire to do it, but there will now be open fissures in the Republican Party of Florida. True, our hero does not ride on a white horse, but he vanquished an enemy that we have so long wanted to be broken up.

So there is lots of drama in RPOF. But perhaps this new star will tell a story that rank and file Republicans (and Floridians as a whole) will find more appealing.

The Orlando Sentinel link to McCollum's concession speech.

One Paragraph Tells It All In Florida's Governor Race

"As the evening wore on, the mood turned grim at McCollum headquarters at a Hilton in Altamonte Springs, just north of Orlando. The candidate and his wife, Ingrid, were sequestered in a suite watching returns. The lobby bar, filled with hopeful Tallahassee lobbyists earlier in the evening, was quiet."

This one paragraph taken from The St. Petersburg Times really speaks volumes about what exactly is ailing the Republican Party of Florida. People have seen the headlines of RPOF corruption recently displayed by last year's chairman being led out in handcuffs. It also entailed a list of dirty tricks that activists don't like.

And those activists are the ones that came to the lightly voted primary. They were saying no to the Tallahassee elite of the GOP. They were saying we want complete change!

Sure, RPOF brought to bear it's full might to crush outsider candidates like they so often have done in the past. This time the activists spoke clearly that they would take a never-tried newcomer to the incumbent that they knew all too well.

Round one is in the books. Let's see if Rick Scott can persuade the rest of the voting populace that he is more than just a protest vote against a corrupt regime.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Could The Florida Race That No One Is Watching Be The Most Important Of All?

Not mentioned much in Florida's big dollar political slug fests, is Florida State Senator John Thrasher against fellow Republican Charles Perniciaro. What makes this more than just a normal primary, is Thrasher's role as the Republican Party of Florida state chairman.

If Mr. Thrasher were to loose his state senate race, would it not also tarnish his standing as the RPOF chair? Many people think so and are wondering how that race is looking.

Through my network of political activists, it appears the race is trending in Mr. Perniciaro's favor. Volunteers knocking on doors in this Jacksonville-based district are reporting 'high negatives' for Mr. Thrasher. Apparently there is still bad blood flowing from when Thrasher bought his way to victory in a highly contested special election.

The person previously holding that senate seat was Jim King who died unexpectedly prompting the special election. That race had four legitimate contenders splitting the vote. Thrasher narrowly won, but did not receive a majority of the votes cast.

One volunteer I spoke with said, "Most people I talked to were definitely voting against Thrasher. Once in a while a homeowner will say they're for Thrasher, but not many. We are also having success with reaching the undecided's."

Mr. Pernciaro is a medical physician, and has had a lot of financial support lending his campaign more than $300,000 dollars and then raising a million dollars more. Mr. Thrasher has accused the doctor of only recently registering Republican. Pernciaro responded by showing that he has only donated to Republicans.

Keep your eyes out tomorrow for this low profile race with big implications.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Was Mike Huckabee Ready To Sell His Endorsement to Rick Scott for $250,000?

I have spoken with a reliable source telling me that a little over a week ago, Mike Huckabee approached the Rick Scott campaign and made overtures that his endorsement could be had for $250,000 dollars.

A heated exchange occurred between Rick Scott and his campaign staff whether to pay-for-play for Huckabee's endorsement. Scott made the final call saying that, 'we're not going to have that kind of a campaign.'

My source is inside the Scott campaign and cannot be disclosed. Suffice to say they are on the payroll.

Once the offer was rejected, Mike Huckabee obliged establishment candidate Bill McCollum with the endorsement.

The Vested Powers Have Spoken: We Control The Election Process/Newcomers Need Not Apply

Judging from the latest polling in the Florida governor's race, it appears that the party insiders have taken the lead. Both Jeff Greene and Rick Scott have been condemned by the power brokers as 'not one of us, so you can't trust them.'

Let's set aside the charges of fraud leveled at these upstart candidates (no one has been indicted, let alone convicted of anything). More often than not, when you hear accusations of bad business practices coming from career politicians you can bet the elected official has a hidden agenda.

The fact of the matter is that you will need to be a multi-billionaire to upend the wishes of the state leaders of Democrats and Republicans. And to amass this much wealth, you're going to have to engage in some ruthless business practices.

The real issues facing voters are quickly fading into which power club is going to run our state. I'm not real comfortable with this and here's why.

The huge amounts of money that the Democrat and Republican party's rely on to mold public opinion come from lobbyists and special interests. This is not good because they are then beholden to the sources of this cash and that obscures the debate on issues.

The answer to this payola scheme is not more laws. We've been writing them for decades and nothing has changed.

What needs to happen is we MUST get involved (read takeover) the Democrat and Republican state party's. That means gaining voting rights for your favored group via their local county executive committees.

I will shortly be launching a website that will detail how this can be done. The window for this insurgency is quite short. Please add me as a friend on Facebook (Nick Egoroff) so I can keep you informed.

Till then, good luck with the mudslinging and accusations.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Down To The Wire: The Race To Beat Congressman Alan Grayson

Birds are tweeting that the Florida 8th Congressional district race has both narrowed and tightened. Three separate internal polls are showing that Todd Long and Dan Webster are in a statistical dead heat. All the other candidates: Ross Bieling, Dan Fanelli, Patricia Sullivan, Kurt Kelly, Bruce O’Donoghue are far behind in single digits.

This brings up an interesting question for those of us who still haven't voted. Namely that if we vote for any of the other five candidates, we're likely going to be backing a non-winner.

But here's where it get's really complicated. If we assume that Todd Long is the tea party front-runner, and Dan Webster is a career politician, a vote for anyone else would be splitting the tea party vote and give the election to Mr. Webster.

I trust that my sources are correct on the polling data. Now comes decision time. Barring any other late breaking news, I'm going to the Orange County Library and pulling the lever for Todd Long.

While I like all the candidates for differing reasons, I feel comfortable with Todd. As to all this mudslinging about his past drinking problems, I've talked with Todd off and on for the last couple of years in a variety of different situations. Never have I seen him show the slightest bit of inebriation. And his profession of christian faith helping him to reform his character appears genuine.

Amazing how writing something out makes decisions so much easier.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let's Get Ready To Rumble: After the August 10 Primaries

I try to remain objective in politics, which is sometimes misunderstood by my friends because I don't mimic the party line. With that in mind, here's my take on the August 10 primaries.

Overall, I think the Democrats aren't going down without a fight. They stuck with Bennett, a strong Obama supporter, against a Democrat outsider. So Dem's are going to feel embolden to fight against the tea party surge.

And speaking of surges, Colorado conservatives really pulled off a surprise victory. Starting as an underdog, Ken Buck beat the Republican insider candidate who was thought to be a shoe-in. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund played a huge role.

Bottom line? Money is still important. One billionaire lost (Dem Ted Lamont in Conn. governor) and one won (McMahon for Maryland senate). Is Rick Scott listening?

And still too close to call: Georgia's Governor race. Less then 2500 votes separates the two Republican run-off opponents. One backed by Palin, another backed by Newt. This is less than a 1 percent difference in hundreds of thousands of votes. Like they say, 'every vote counts.'

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Most Important Information Political Activists Will Ever Need!

Over the years I've tried many strategies to influence people's votes. Sign waves? Done 'em (lots of sunburn to prove it). Writing letters? Yep, and it is cool when one get's published. Posting notes to Facebook and emailing friends? Yes, and who can resist the internet!!

But here's the one that has worked for multiple decades and always will: Getting a map of your precinct along with voter records from your local Supervisor of Elections. Armed with these two powerful weapons you'll learn more about politics and political behavior then anywhere else.

Let's start with the basics. On election night we are glued to the screen as the votes role in. They're presented usually with the adage: "With 12 percent of the vote counted, Harry Houdini leads his opponent by 11,000 votes." Most people assume that all the votes cast that day are stacked up in a huge pile and counted one by one. Nothing could be further from the truth (and more misleading).

What really happens starts long before election night and even longer before a candidate even enters the race. It's all based on something called PRECINCTS. These small squares drawn within each county are the building blocks of the candidate's district. To put it another way, before a candidate can win an elected office he must win a plurality of precincts.

Precincts have a long history attached to them which is easily seen from records obtained from the local supervisor of elections. In my precinct (#319 in Orange County Florida) there are about 1000 houses. That's a lot of houses (not to mention most houses contain at least two adults).

But thanks to the meticulous record keeping of the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, I (or more precisely my candidate/chosen political party) can ferret out all sorts of info to help me be more successful in shifting electoral outcomes.

Right off the bat they will tell me which houses to go to that have REGISTERED voters. Would it surprise you to know that about half the adult population is not registered to vote? So all those sign waves, emails, and letters to the editor fall on deaf ears so to speak since 50% of the folks you reach can't vote even if they wanted too. Voter registration is an altogether different subset of what I'm trying to explain and won't be delved into here.

But here is where it really gets interesting. The records from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections span decades. And the particular candidate that I'm volunteering for is interested in only reaching Republicans and those registered Independent. So with this criteria I now have a print out with a map showing me that there are just 327 houses that I need to contact. A much more manageable number!

There are a lot of other data that a campaign might choose to use in precinct walks. For instance when I go to someone's door I would know how often they vote, what party they are registered with, etc. Some software will tell me if they are gun rights supporters, their age, and just about anything else.

Here's the real kicker: how often have you ever wondered 'were those sign-waves really that effective? Was it really useful to attach brochures to cars in Publix parking lots?

Answer: YOU'LL NEVER REALLY KNOW, because elections aren't done in parking lots or on street corners.

Precincts are the only place you will know proof positive whether you're efforts really paid off! That's because the hours you spend leafleting in precincts, knocking on doors in precincts, and making calls into precincts; all can be quantitatively measured on the night of the election.

A simple process of comparing a precinct that has been 'worked' with one that hasn't will teach invaluable lessons. You'll see how 'real' voters (not political junkies and activists) vote. Nowhere else will you get clear feedback on the viability of a given candidate and their message. Nothing affected me more than when a candidate I worked my heart out for still lost despite herculean effort on my part. These are lessons I have learned well and draw upon all the time in political debates.

One more thing about precincts. Professional political consultants and candidates count precincts like Vegas gamblers count cards. They constantly scrutinize trend voting in precincts to determine likely hood of which party and candidate would win. Key: running a Republican in a district composed of trending Democrat precincts is a fool's errand.

I could go on and on about the underlying forces that determine and shape the political landscape.

But here's one tidbit of information. If just one person in each precinct determined that they would knock doors and make phone calls for a chosen candidate or cause, THEY COULD AND WOULD CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS!

Think about this when you decide how to use your time! Meanwhile, I'm still going to hangout on Facebook (friend me under Nick Egoroff). But now through the 2010 election I'll be volunteering some of my time 'out in the field' to really affect change.

See you on election night, where I'll be either crying in my beer or gloating over a job well done. I'll compare my efforts to those other precincts and know for certain what really happened.

Nick Egoroff

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