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July 2011

Haridopolos unimpressed with Hasner, LeMieux wants Jeb instead

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos tells To the Point that neither Adam Hasner nor George LeMieux impress him as U.S. Senate candidate and he would like to see Jeb Bush or Allen West get into the race.

Haridopolos says little about his reasons for dropping out of the Republican primary during his appearance on the Sunday show which airs after Meet the Press on WPTV-NewsChannel 5 at 10 a.m.

Lots of Republicans would like to see Jeb Bush run for office in 2012 but most of Bush's supporters dream about him running for president. Bush has repeatedly said he is not interested in the White House and there's a snowball's chance on a hot Florida day that he will run for the senate.

Crowley Political Report - a political analyst for WPTV - recently suggested that Allen West may have no better time than now to run for the Senate. So far, West has expressed no interest in the race.

Haridopolos has made it clear in a number of interviews that he think very little of Hasner and question's Hasner's credential's as a conservative.

Does Haridopolos' opinion matter?

Not hardly. Once he dropped out of the race insisting that he would not run for any political office next year, he turned himself into another soon-to-be forgotten portrait in the Senate chamber.

Once out of office, people quickly forget you were there.

Ask Bill McCollum.

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Tea Party says don't blame Tea Party for debt crisis

In another Dear Patriots email, the South Florida Tea Party says it "will not be a pawn for Republicans or Democrats."

"We are experiencing an epic level of failure of leadership on all levels and political parties. Fewer than 10 years ago, America was on track to have a budget surplus. Unfortunately, President George W. Bush ran up the deficit by more than $400 million per year, but President Obama managed to spend more than $1 trillion and called it “savings.”

Everett Wilkinson, leader of the South Florida Tea Party, goes on to write:

". . .Now, Washington, D.C., wants to blame the Tea Party for the debt crisis. Senator John McCain even derided us by calling us 'tea party hobbits' in debt ceiling fight. I remember the the famous line from the movie "Josey Wales. "Senator - Don't go pissing down my back and tell me it's raining." I am tired of the excuses. Do your job!" (emphasis is Wilkinson's not Crowley Political Report).

Wilkinson urges Tea Party members to go to where one will find several unflattering photos of the Arizona senator who dared to disagree with the Tea Party.

It is one thing for McCain to buck the Tea Party, but can other GOP members of the House and Senate do it without risking loosing their seats next year?

Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

Art by Chicago artist Brian J. Crowley

FreedomWorks making a profit off fear

FreedomWorks and FreedomWorks Foundation offers itself as watchdogs of the public purse. They are largely credited with helping the Tea Party find a national voice. The organization is led by former Congressman Dick Armey, Boyden Gray and Steve Forbes.

It appears to be a very profitable enterprise.

FreedomWorks also does a pretty good job of taking care of its own purse by charging hefty fees to speak out and campaign on issues.

Here's an example from a FreedomWorks "overview of tools and tactics."

If you are willing to pay from $15,000 to $75,000 "per D.C. or state capitol lobbying trip" FreedomWorks will work for you.

For $25,000 to $35,000, FreedomWorks will "engage an earned media campaign on a certain issue, depending on the intensity of the campaign and Chairman Armey's involvement.

Of course the price of freedom is not cheap. If you want Armey or another FreedomWorks principal to have "formal and informal meetings and phone calls" with top policy makers that ranges from $10,000 to $65,000 "for principal to principal outreach."

Need expert testimony from Armey - $15,000 to $35,000.

Would you like a two-page Capitol Comment or a 10 page Issue Analysis? That will cost you from $15,000 to $50,000.

None of this is unique to FreedomWorks. Other organizations on both sides have similar operations.

Which raises a serious question - is FreedomWorks stoking controversy because that is how they make money? After all, there's no cash when there's no outrage.

FreedomWorks claims 564,000 online activists. That's a lot of people to get fired up. And those folks don't get paid.

Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

Lois Frankel takes a cheap shot at Allen West

Democrat Lois Frankel is calling Republican Allen West a "woman hater."

This is nonsense but coming from Frankel, not surprising.

After the dust-up between West and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, where the freshman Republican went  too far in his reaction to comments made by Wasserman Schultz on the House floor, Frankel decided to turn it to her advantage by creating a website dubbed WestHatesWomen.

It is a cheap shot.

Frankel hopes to defeat West in the 2012 election. First, she must get past Patrick Murphy who also is a candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Frankel has a long history of running nasty campaigns. Read more about that here.

The WestHatesWomen site features a petition demanding that West apologize for berating Wasserman Schultz.

"This man has a problem with women. Demand an apology. And, demand he donate $1,000 to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to show he's serious!"

Frankel, who can make a Marine blush, has done her share of berating people.

There is not a single issue that Frankel and West will agree upon. There are plenty of issues that they can fiercely debate.

And while West's behavior was disturbing because it was out-of-proportion to the act that caused it, there is no evidence that West hates women.

Allen West takes on Bill Nelson

Allen West always one a bit puzzled.

The Republican Congressman worked himself into self-righteous outrage when Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz took the House floor to talk about the GOP "cut, cap and balance" plan.

During her remarks she said: ". . .President Obama has vowed to veto this bill which ends the Medicare guarantee and incredulously the gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase the cost for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from South Florida."

When West heard about her remarks, he fired off an email to Wasserman Schultz and House leaders calling her "vile" "despicable" "unprofessional" and other choice descriptions.

West also said, "If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up."

This brings us to Florida Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. After the Senate voted not to take up the House bill today, West sent out this Tweet:

Voting to table Cut, Cap & Balance for fear of passing the Senate is a disgrace. Fl Sen Nelson and the Dems play tricks at Americans expense.

What happened to "say it to my face"?

Oh well.

Perhaps more interesting is that fact that West is taking on Nelson. Is this a hint that he is thinking about running against Nelson.

West has the money and the love 0f the Tea Party. Crowley Political Report suggested in a previous article that West might easily win the GOP primary.

Maybe West will let know if he is interested on Twitter.


Democrats try to make a few bucks off Allen West's tirade

Well that didn't take long. 

Crowley Political Report just received the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's new fundraising appeal using Republican Congressman Allen West's email outburst against DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz yesterday as a reason why folks should quickly send cash.

They are calling it the "emergency rapid response fund."

Emergency? Really?

Here's the DCCC message:

“You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives... you are not a Lady.”
- Republican Congressman Allen West in an e-mail to
Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Last night, Republican Rep. Allen West sent a disgraceful e-mail outburst to one of our most accomplished colleagues in the House, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, telling her to “shut the heck up” for daring to challenge the GOP plan to gut Medicare and Social Security to pay for tax cuts for billionaires.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of partisan tantrum we're used to from House Republicans as they push our economy to the brink of disaster while pandering to their Tea Party base.

We can't let this shameful display go unanswered.

Contribute $3 or more right now to help us defeat disgraceful Republicans like Allen West in 2012. My Democratic colleagues are so appalled that they’ve agreed to match all gifts today dollar-for-dollar up to our $100,000 goal.

This kind of appalling behavior is all too familiar from Congressman West, who has riled up his extremist right-wing base by attacking progressive women for “neutering American men,” calling supporters of President Obama, “a threat to the gene pool” and writing for a misogynist magazine that denigrated women with words I'd be ashamed to even repeat.

And now that he’s in Congress, West thinks he can attack a respected legislator like Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz with this kind of hate-filled screed.

Allen West has shown us his true colors, now let’s show him ours.

Contribute right now to help throw Allen West and his Tea Party colleagues out in 2012.

Let’s make sure Republicans don’t forget this moment.

Rep. Steve Israel
DCCC Chairman

Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

Allen West has a temper tantrum

One tries to give Florida Congressman Allen West the benefit of the doubt. Surely, you think, the Republican freshman says some outrageous things simply to appease some of his more fervent supporters.

For example, in a message West sent Monday to his supporters, he closed with, "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool."

Seems a bit harsh but that's politics. And for West, that was fairly mild.

So weren't we surprised when West turned into a threatening bully after Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz made a passing remark about him during the floor debate about the GOP plan called  "cut, cap and balance."

Wasserman Schultz spoke for 2 minutes, 28 seconds. At about 36 seconds she said:

". . .President Obama has vowed to veto this bill which ends the Medicare guarantee and incredulously the gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare  beneficiaries as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase the cost for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from South Florida."

Those 20 seconds sent West over the edge.

Continue reading "Allen West has a temper tantrum" »

Florida Senate race looking for a frontrunner

Hatchet135 copy
Crowley Political Report
drops off the grid for a few days and the next thing you know there is a shake-up in Florida's U.S. Senate race. Or was there?

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination with the feeble excuse that he just now discovered that running for statewide office while being senate president is very time-consuming.


Of course, that excuse is nonsense. There is lots of speculation that Haridopolos will soon be embroiled in the legal problems of ousted and arrested former state GOP chairman Jim Greer. He is scheduled to give a deposition in the case next month.

Whatever the real reason for Hariodopolos' hasty departure from the race, the fact is that he was very unlikely to win the nomination.   And while everyone, including Gov. Rick Scott, went through the motions of wishing Haridopolos a fond farewell from the race, seconds after he dropped out the scrambling for position began.

If you're anybody of importance in Florida GOP circles who supported Haridopolos,  your phone is already ringing with calls from former  substitute U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.

Neither Hasner nor LeMieux have shown a commanding presence at this point.

Continue reading "Florida Senate race looking for a frontrunner" »

Should Allen West run for the Senate?

AllenWest Seriously, isn't Allen West the best GOP candidate to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson?

As Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo aptly put it, West has given Florida Republicans 1.5 million reasons why he might be the GOP's best candidate.

As Crowley Political Report noted recently, this stage of the U.S. senate race is all about money. During the 3 month period ending June 30, West raised $1.5 million for his campaign to win reelection to Florida's 22nd congressional district. Toss in the $433,000 West raised during the first three months of the year and he has collected nearly $2 million.


Politics is about money and timing. West has said he is not interested in running for the senate but money and timing suggest there may be no better time than now for the former Army Lt. Colonel.

Republicans love West. Tea Party activists love West. Rush Limbaugh loves West. Conservative independents love West. And most Democrats loathe him.

If you get West, you get someone who doesn't pull his punches and leans extreme. That might not sell in any other election cycle but right now, in the Tea Party controlled Florida Republican Party, extreme sells.

Should West decide to run for the U.S. Senate, much of the GOP field will collapse shortly after his announcement.

Compare West's $1.5 million in the last quarter to the money raised by the existing U.S. Senate candidates - Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos' $900,000, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux's $950,000, and former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner's $560,000.

Could West defeat Nelson?

Nelson will not be easy for any Republican to defeat. For now, the more interesting political question is whether West will be convinced by his supporters to take a chance on running for GOP senate nomination.

In Florida, anything can happen.

Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

Florida U.S. Senate race gets more complicated for Republicans

There must be a lot of Republicans who are convinced that Florida Democrat Bill Nelson is not going to be able to hang on to his U.S. Senate seat.

On Tuesday, the Florida GOP gets it fifth candidate for U.S. senate with the addition of Craig Miller, former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Miller is going to fly around the state for a series of airport press conferences with stops in Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Naples and Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, the latest report in the money primary shows that George LeMieux raised $950,000 during the three month period ending June 30. LeMieux's campaign did not say how much cash former U.S. senator still has in the bank after expenses.

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos fell short of LeMieux's total, raising $900,000. Haridopolos had already raised $2.6 million, so he remains the frontrunner.  Coming in third is former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner who raised $560,000.

Also running for the senate is retired Army Lt.Col. Mike McCallister. He is not expected to raise much money.

Which brings us back to Miller. How seriously should we take him as a statewide candidate?

His first bid for office is not a promising sign. Miller ran for an Orlando congressional seat in 2010 and finished third. To be fair, LeMieux lost his only previous campaign - a state house seat race and he has not been on the ballot since.

What will make Miller a viable candidate?


Yup money. And lots of it. Can he get it? Does Miller have his own dough to spend?

Crowley Political Report believes in cash. Having it doesn't mean a candidate is going to win. But not having it almost certainly means a statewide candidate is going to lose.

There are more than 4 million GOP voters in Florida. If only 25 percent vote in the primary that is 1 million voters. If a candidate talked to 1,000 voters every day for 365 days, he would only reach a bit more than one-third of the GOP primary voters.

It takes money to reach voters. And most of that money is spent on television ads. A significant, statewide television buy will cost a candidate more than $1.5 million a week. And you need money for all the things it takes to make a candidate competitive.

That's why, fellow political watchers, you have to keep an eye on the money.


Political newcomer is making race for Allen West's seat interesting

Who in the world is Patrick Murphy?

Surely that has to be a question that Democrat Lois Frankel is asking this week. Murphy is a 28-year old newcomer to Florida politics who is challenging Frankel, a political veteran, for the Democratic nomination in the 22nd congressional district now held by Republican Allen West.

Murphy's campaign tells Crowley Political Report, that the candidate raised $450,000 in the last quarter. Murphy raised $350,ooo during March bringing his total to $800,000. We should note that $30,000 of that total Murphy gave to himself. Still $770,000 from contributers is impressive.

This is not good news for Frankel who has not yet revealed what she raised during the three-month period ending June 30. In March, Frankel raised $254,000 and there is no reason to believe that she did not have a good quarter.

If Frankel had hoped to walk away with the nomination, the former state representative and West Palm Beach mayor may find the road a bit rockier than expected.

Murphy, who was a Republican not long ago, was born in the Keys and lives in Broward County. He is vice president of Coastal Environmental Services. His campaign team includes South Florida Democratic operatives Jeff Garcia and Eric Johnson.

One of the most interesting aspects of this and all congressional seats is that no one knows what the district will look like in 2012. The Florida Legislature will begin seriously redrawing the districts in January with the final lines not completed until late February. And there will be legal challenges that will leave the lines in doubt until mid-summer.

Democrats in Washington must be looking at the West seat with some concern. Enormously popular with GOP conservatives and Tea Party activists, West will have no trouble raising money. Democrats will need to invest heavily to defeat West and a bloody primary is not going to be helpful.

 Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

George LeMieux, the final mystery in the Senate money race

Eler We're waiting on George. Florida's former substitute U.S. Senator is the last hold out in the big reveal of how much money was raised by GOP senate candidates last quarter.

Will LeMieux be competitive?

We just got numbers from Adam Hasner and the former state House Majority Leader, says he raised $560,000 from April 1 to June 30.

Not bad, not great. But when you compare that number to Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos' $900,000, it looks a bit weak. And Haridoplos had already raised $2.6 million.

This puts LeMieux in an interesting position. If he raised more money than Haridopolos during the past three months, LeMieux could argue that Haridopolos' best money days are behind him. LeMieux could emerge as the favored candidate.

On the other hand, if LeMieux raised significantly less than Haridopolos, or even worse, less than Hasner, LeMieux's campaign is in serious trouble.

As for Hasner, he needs to at least stay competitive with LeMieux. If Hasner is significantly behind LeMieux and Haridopolos, it will get even harder for Hasner to raise money.

Excerpts from Hasner's statement:

We always expected the two establishment opponents to start off raising more money than us, because that's what the establishment does. But we'll ultimately win this race because of our positive conservative principles and a growing grassroots movement that's looking for leaders who'll stand up to Democrats and Republicans who act like them.

More impressive than how much we raised is how we raised it. Nearly 2000 grassroots conservatives across Florida and the country donated small amounts to build a big number. More than 90% of our contributors have not made the maximum contribution, meaning they can give again and again in future quarters. And more than 85% of our contributors donated less than $1000.

Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

Art by Patrick Crowley

Why Obama could lose Florida

Obama cartoon Ending with car crashes and a train wreck, the new Republican National Committee ad being shown in Florida more than suggests that the Obama administration has wrecked America.

And the ad takes Obama's 2008 campaign promise of "change" and thows it a back at him. You can see the ad on the next page. Here is the text of the voiceover:

He promised to change direction - $800 billion in stimulus. Trillions for government health care. Two million jobs gone.

Left turn after left turn. America's headed the wrong way fast.

Six million foreclosures. Fourteen trillion in debt. $500 billion in higher taxes. And the worst long term unemployment in generations. Don't let Obama drive us to disaster. Change direction.

This RNC ad basically asks the same questions that Ronald Reagan asked Jimmy Carter during the 1980 election. One week before voters went to the polls, Reagan closed the deal with voters by asking:  "Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment...than there was four years ago?"

Those questions are usually reduced to the simpler, "are you better off than you were four years ago?'

Florida Democratic strategists are worried. Several have told Crowley Political Report that they think  2012 could be very difficult. And for good reason.  There has been little sunshine in the Sunshine State since Barack Obama won the White House. Unemployment remains high. Job propects remain gloomy and signs of an economic recovery are few.

Continue reading "Why Obama could lose Florida" »

AUC launches Facebook campaign against Allen West, Dan Webster

Americans United for Change, a liberal activist group, has begun a Facebook ad campaign accusing Florida Republican Congressmen Allen West and Daniel Webster of favoring corporate jets over health care for seniors.

Here is the logic behind their argument - both Republicans voted for the Ryan Budget Plan. That plan does not remove tax breaks for corporate jets and a host of other things. AUC and other groups have focused on the jets and other items largely benefiting the rich to argue that the wealthy are getting tax breaks while everyone else is footing the bill.

The Facebook ad links to AUC pages - one for West and one for Webster - with similar content.

AUC writes that both men, "supported a plan that makes Floridas seniors shoulder more health and prescription drug costs, so CEOs flying corporate jets can have another tax break.

West/Webster, would also kick Florida seniors back into infamous Medicare Part D Rx drug donut hole. A new report out shows the Affordable Care Act has already saved nearly half a million seniors on Medicare $260 million in prescriptions this year. But West/Webster voted to take away that discount and once again leave seniors who fall in the donut hole to choose between food and medicine.

Meanwhile, Their  plan gives more tax cuts for billionaires. It protects billions of dollars in big oil subsidies. He even wants to continue tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas. But he opposes efforts to save money and strengthen Medicare? Congressman West/Webster needs to get his priorities straight.

Who does he think he represents? Because he isn't acting like he's representing you!

What this really is all about is that this is another sign that Democrats think they have a shot at winning back those two congressional seats.

Rick Scott's folks defend handling of public records

On Monday, Crowley Political Report told readers how the state of Alaska charged $725.97 for 24,000 pages of former Gov. Sarah Palin's email record while Florida Gov. Rick Scott's administration charged $784.84 for just 1,100 email records belonging to communications director Brian Burgess.

Our report has spawned a gread deal of reaction including this story today by New York Times Regional reporter Lloyd Dunkelberger. Crowley Political Report is quoted at length in the story questioning the administration's public records policy.

Since our report, Burgess has sent numerous emails telling Crowley Political Report that the administration is complying with the law.

Here's a sense of the administration's position as quoted in Dunkelberger's story:

Scott's aides said the more stringent public records policies are a response to the flood of public records requests that have hit the governor's office in its first six months.

And they said most requests are being handled in a timely manner.

"Since January, we've fulfilled 669 public record requests with an additional 74 in the process of being completed," said Scott spokeswoman Amy Graham. "This is more than any other administration after just six months in office, proving that we not only comply with public record laws, we exceed them."


Graham called the comparison of Palin's emails to those from Brian Burgess, Scott's communications director, unfair, because Palin's records were more accessible since they were segregated in a special email account.

In contrast, many of Burgess' government-related emails end up in his long-established private email account and the cost comes from having to sort out the public records from his personal messages, Graham said.

Continue reading "Rick Scott's folks defend handling of public records " »