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September 2011

Florida presidential primary will be Jan. 31, New Hampshire is not pleased

In a short meeting, the committee to pick Florida's presidential primary date overwhelmingly settled on Jan 31.  This will not make Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina happy.

The New Hampshire Union-Leader is clearly unhappy. Here's what political columnist John DiStaso had to say yesterday about Florida's move to Jan. 31.

That creates quite a mess and clearly means that the New Hampshire presidential primary, which traditionally follows only the Iowa caucuses, could well be held in early- to mid-January — a month to six weeks before previously envisioned.

The man empowered to set the New Hampshire primary date isn't talking about dates or even ranges of dates at this point.

“We'll act accordingly,” New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner told the Granite Status.

Continue reading "Florida presidential primary will be Jan. 31, New Hampshire is not pleased" »

Claude Kirk and his lost hat

By Brian E. Crowley

I ran into former Gov. Claude Kirk at a green market in West Palm Beach. I would bump in to him from time-to-time and he always seemed pleased, especially if there were folks nearby, when I called him Gov. Kirk.

He started to tell me about his lost hat.  But more on that in a bit.

Claude Kirk profile mug Gov. Kirk's  death this week, at the age of 85, marks the passing of one of Florida's most flamboyant and underrated governors. In some ways, he was ahead of his time. He arrived in Tallahassee to take the oath of office n 1967 and the next four years were turbulent ones.

Gov. Kirk arrived determined to shake things up. He also dearly wanted to advance his own political career and took deep pleasure in being in the spotlight.

I didn't get to know Gov. Kirk until many years later. The early history of his governorship was harsh. But as time passed, historians and governors who succeed him began to recognize that Kirk had accomplished quite a bit during his four years in office.

He created the FDLE helping to break the hold of county sheriff's who sometimes abused their power. He helped usher in the new 1968 state Constitution - which had been penned by others - but would have had more difficult time without Kirk's help.  Few today understand just how sweeping the 1968 constitution was in changing how Floridians are governed today.

Kirk campaign poster   Gov. Kirk created the first statewide environment effort and helped bring the 1968 Republican National Convention to Miami Beach where he dearly hoped Richard Nixon would pick him to be vice president.

Gov. Kirk opposed school busing at a time when such opposition was considered racist. When Florida teachers went on a statewide strike in 1968 he helped break the strike and more than 40 years later the teacher unions have still not fully recovered.

Gov. Kirk, because of the 1968 constitution, was the first governor eligible to run for a second consecutive term. But voters had enough and the first modern Republican to be elected governor lost to Democrat Reubin Askew.

Gov. Kirk would run again, even as a Democrat, but the campaigns were more about getting attention than winning.

 In 2006, Gov. Kirk and former governors, Askew, Bob Graham and the soon-to-leave office, Jeb Bush, got together at the University of Central Florida to talk to the students.

Continue reading "Claude Kirk and his lost hat" »

Mitt Romney gets serious about Florida

Yes, Crowley Political Report knows that Mitt Romney did not take Presidency 5 seriously, but it is time for Florida Republicans to get over it.

Of course, it is still a tad embarrassing that Romney finished well behind Herman Cain in the straw ballot.

Anyway, we reported earlier that Romney had hired Brett Doster to help lead his Florida effort. Today, Romney added some new folks to his Florida staff.

Aaaaaannnnnndddddd - here they are:

Continue reading "Mitt Romney gets serious about Florida" »

Florida GOP thanks Rick Perry for breakfast votes for Herman Cain


 Herman Cain whooped Rick Perry soundly in Florida Republican Party straw poll Saturday leaving one critical question - Does the Florida GOP still exist or is it now the Florida Tea Party?

Cain - the Godfather's pizza guy. Mr. 9-9-9.

He left Perry drowning in tomato sauce. Cain got 37 percent of the more than 2,500 votes cast. Perry got 15 percent. Romney, who decided not to participate in Presidency 5, got 14 percent.

The sad candidacy of the strident, anti-everything Rick Santorum got nearly 11 percent followed by his political twin, Ron Paul at a tad over 10 percent.

Poor Perry. His swaggering Texas image crumbles in every debate. The delegates may have been disappointed when Perry looked lost at Thursday's CPAC debate, but by golly he bought them breakfast.

Perry told them they were important. He said Florida was important. Shucks,  Presidency 5 was supposed to be a major jumping off point for the Perry campaign.

Is Perry doomed?


Is Cain going to be the GOP nominee?


Will the Sunday talk shows go on and on and on about this with dire warnings that Perry better get his act together? (Note: think Ames, Iowa and Michele Bachmann).


Does anybody at this point really understand what is going on with Florida Republicans?


Is the Florida Republican Party being taken over by the Tea Party?


And who is the leader of the Florida Tea Party?

Gov. Rick Scott.

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Democrats - Tell Congress no more games

Crowley Political Report gave you Rick Perry's "President Zero" ad in an earlier report, now we have the new Democratic National Committee ad promoting President Obama's "American Jobs Act."

The ad urges voters to tell Congress,  "no more games, pass the plan."

Which ad will resonate most with voters? That decision is yours dear reader.

Here's the DNC ad:


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It's getting very cloudy for Obama in the Sunshine State

Obama cartoon If President Obama loses Florida in 2012, his presidency will be over.  A new Quinnipiac Poll is echoing what many Sunshine State Democrats are saying privately - Obama is losing his Florida support.

One Florida Democratic leader told Crowley Political Report that he has never been this discouraged. A party fundraiser grits his teeth and warns that Obama better start spending some quality time in Florida. Out of loyality, they did not want to named complaining about the president.

Republicans are almost giddy. As they flock to Orlando for Presidency 5 and the CPAC gathering, the party faithful are convinced that Obama is a one-term president. For Republicans the biggest quandry is which candidate they want to see in the White House.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made an impressive showing with a group of about 30 party leaders and elected officials in West Palm Beach. Palm Beach County chairman Sid Dinerstein, who insists he is remaining neutral, was clearly charmed by Perry.

"I like what he has to say and he really listens," said Dinerstein.

The only dark moment came when Perry's goons, otherwise known as Texas Rangers, shut down the Kravis Center property to the media. The Kravis center has hosted scores of national political figures and the shut down was unprecedented.

One Ranger threatened to have a television reporter handcuffed if he tried to go the normal media staging area.  It was an unnecessary bullying tactic since Perry was using a back interest to enter the event site and was nowhere near the media. In fact, all Perry's folks accomplished was making it difficult for the TV stations to do interviews with guests who were praising the governor.

Brilliant advance work guys.

Meanwhile, the Quinnipiac Poll found that "Florida voters disapprove 57 – 39 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his worst score in any Quinnipiac University poll in any state."

No wonder Republicans are excited and Democrats are in a funk.

And here's the really bad news for the White House - "Obama does not deserve a second term, Florida voters say 53 – 41 percent." 

Here's a closer look at the Quinnipiac Poll (the results include the Florida U.S. Senate race):

Continue reading "It's getting very cloudy for Obama in the Sunshine State" »

Dole wins, another Texan fails and Pat Buchanan saves his surprise

Bob Dole button PIII Once again, Florida's GOP voters confronted a choice of an establishment Republican, a conservative Texan and a hard right extremist. But instead of Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, PresidencyIII delegates were choosing among Bob Dole, Phil Gramm and Pat Buchanan.

The November 1995, straw ballot was a bitter battle between Kansas Sen. Dole, Texas Sen. Gramm and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander.  Dole, who first ran for president in 1980, desperately needed to win Presidency III to shore up support for his campaign.

There were 3,325 voting delegates and the halls were intense as the candidates pushed hard to win votes. When the voting was over, it was Dole 33, Gramm 26 and Alexander 23.  

Dole's weak victory cast a long shadow over his campaign. Gramm and Alexander both pushed the idea that Dole could not win the nomination and that if he did he could defeat incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Gramm tried to convince national party leaders that Dole's less than 40 percent showing was a terrible performance by a perceived frontrunner. Indeed it was. But there was little interest in either Gramm or Alexander when the campaign moved to the Iowa caucuses.

Dole won Iowa getting 26 percent of the vote. Buchanan, who thrived in the dark side of gutter politics, shocked the political world by coming in second with 23 percent. Alexander was third with 18 percent. Gramm was fifth (and done) with 9 percent to Steve Forbes 10 percent.

Crowley Political Report had one of its coldest nights in New Hampshire watching a Dole, torchlight parade of supporters. It was a very cold primary for Dole who was stunned by Buchanan who won New Hampshire with 27 percent of the vote to Dole's 26 percent. Alexander finished third with 22 percent.

It was Buchanan's last hurrah and Dole would go on to easily become the nominee. Dole would live up to the fears of Gramm and Alexander by being an awful general election candidate.

What will be the big surprise at Presidency 5, this weekend? We'll soon find out.

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New Perry ad calls Obama "President Zero"

Just in time for Florida's Presidency 5, Texas Gov. Rick Perry offers up a new, nearly 2 minute web ad, that starts out with doom and gloom and ends with Perry riding to the rescue.

In what may well become a Republican call-to-action - the ad dubs Barack Obama as "President Zero."

It is a powerful campaign slogan that the ad justifies with images of empty offices, empty businesses, empty streets and stormy skies. The ad opens with Obama talking about the economy and as the images flash by, Obama is heard saying, "We are headed in the right direction."

Then newscasters and campaign voiceovers are heard talking about "zero jobs" in August and,  "Not a single job being added." "No jobs created, net zero."

And then - you ready - we see a quick image of the legs of horse. Yup. Can't be true Texan if you ain't got a horse. You can't see the rider but one can assume it is Perry riding to the rescue.

Frankly, the ad should have stopped at the end of the Obama portion with a quick Rick Perry for President image. Instead, the ad switches to more over-the-top images that gives one a feel that Rocky XXXIIIV is about to air.

 Here's the ad. Does the message work for you?


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Religious Right takes on Bush during Florida straw poll

Pat Robertson was just as nutty 1n 1987 as he is now which is probably why he decided that year to run for president against Vice President George Bush (this was before he became an HW). Robertson and his Christian right followers scared the hell out of Bush during the 1987 Presidency II in Florida.

Hundreds of Robertson's followers showed up at county caucuses where 60 percent of the delegates were being picked for the November Presidency II. The effort paid off and many of the delegates that showed up planned to vote for Robertson.

Bush's campaign was caught off guard. They quickly starting taking Robertson seriously understanding that a sitting Vice President could not afford to lose to a television evangelical at a nationally watched event.

George Bush PII Bush, a blue-blood Republican with deep ties to party leaders and elected officials turned to them - they represented 40 percent of the delegates at Presidency II.

His strategy worked. Bush, who was clearly spooked by the Robertson surge, got 57 percent of the vote to Robertson's 36 percent. Robertson's team claimed victory noting that they were after all running against a vice president.

Everyone else that year largely ignored the contest conceding that they could make little headway against Bush's claim to the establishment and Robertson's hold on the rank-and-file. Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, Pete DuPont, and Alexander Haig divided up the leftover votes.

Continue reading "Religious Right takes on Bush during Florida straw poll" »

Politico: Wexler says Israel "would pay in blood" under Rick Perry policy

Former Florida Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler - never known for being shy - lashed out at Texas Gov. Rick Perry in an interview with Politico.

From Politico:

(Wexler)  told POLITICO today that while Hamas would "cheer" Governor Rick Perry's threats to defund the Palestinian Authority, Israelis would "pay in blood."

"The policies that Governor Perry is advocating are so far out of the mainstream, and would result in so much damage to the state of Israel, that for him Israel must be an ideology or a religious obsession, without a care about the safety and security of the seven million israelis who actually live there and the brave soldiers of the IDF," he said. Wexler said he was concerned, particularly, about Republican threats to defund the Palestinian Authority, and the resulting prospect that the PA's security forces could collapse.

"If we actually did what Governor Perry advocates, Hamas would benefit greatly and the Israeli people would pay in blood, as would the Palestinian people," he said. Read more from Politico here.

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Perry says Florida critical names leadership team

This just in to Crowley Political Report from the Rick Perry campaign:

AUSTIN – Texas Gov. Rick Perry today announced his leadership team for Presidency 5 (P5), with Speaker Dean Cannon serving as chairman. Gov. Perry will participate in Florida P5 this week, including the P5 debate, CPAC and straw poll in Orlando, Fla.

“Florida is critical to the presidential nomination process, so I look forward to bringing my pro-jobs, conservative message to Florida and the Presidency 5 events,” Gov. Perry said. “Floridians care about jobs, fiscal responsibility and ending Obamacare and other federal excesses. I am pleased to have the opportunity to share my record and vision for job creation and fiscal conservatism with the voters of the Sunshine State.”

“Gov. Perry knows that the path to the nomination and eventually the White House goes through Florida,” said Speaker Cannon. “He also knows how critical it is for Florida’s grassroots leaders to get a chance to know the candidates early, which is why he is focused on this state and participating in Presidency 5.”

Continue reading "Perry says Florida critical names leadership team" »

Can Rick Perry do better than George Bush in Florida straw poll?

Eler In November 1979, Florida Republicans held Presidency I, featuring a battle between a former Texas governor, a former California governor, a moderate Tenessee senator,  a hard-right Illinois congressman and a former Texas congressman.

Seems like little has changed since 1979, where this week's Presidency 5, features a Texas governor, a former Massachusetts governor, a moderate former Utah governor,  a hard-right Minnesota congresswoman and a Texas congressman.

Continue reading "Can Rick Perry do better than George Bush in Florida straw poll?" »

Why Florida should move its presidential primary ahead of New Hampshire

So Florida has finally appointed a committee to decide when the Sunshine State should have its presidential primary.  These fine folks will give us their decision by Oct. 1.

What should Florida do. Well let's have some real fun and have the primary Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011.

The very thought of this would drive the folks in Iowa and New Hampshire nuts. Both states insist that their events must take place before any other state.

Every four years, bigger, more important state such as Florida, wonder why they continue to let Iowa and New Hampshire bully them. And every four years they cave.

State law in  New Hampshire requires the Granite state to have its reality show, we mean primary, at a week before any other state primary.  So they would be forced to move their primary to November.  Iowa would have to make a similar move.

While this would cause great consternation withing the Republican National Committee, such a move would finally break the stranglehold that Iowa and New Hampshire have on the nation's politics.

Crowley Political Report discussed the issue at some length in February.  Let's revisit what we said then.

New hampshire 
February 21, 2011

Really, Crowley Political Report loves New Hampshire.

Since 1980, CPR has spent many a cold winter night in the Granite State chasing presidential candidates and chatting with countless "Live Free or Die" residents.

There isn't a town or hamlet that has not been visited. Living there has been an occassional fantasy.

Unfortunately, New Hampshire has become a spoiled brat, clinging desperately to the notion that they alone must first determine who is the proper presidential nominee for the Republican and Democratic parties.

It is a quaint notion.

New Hampshire's primary has nothing to do with selecting presidents. Their record of soothesaying was pretty good for many years. But no longer.

Consider - in 1996 New Hampshire voters picked Pat Buchanan to be the GOP presidential nominee. In 2000, they picked John McCain. Ditto 2008. Among Democrats, they passed over Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008.

New Hampshire's primary is a helluva lot fun. It's like going to political carnival. All the acts are there, easy to see and hear. You can go as often as you like and admission is almost always free. In fact, candidates wandering Elm Street in Manchester are more abundant than circus clowns at Ringling.

Continue reading "Why Florida should move its presidential primary ahead of New Hampshire" »

Tea Party shows its ugly side during CNN debate

During last night's CNN/Tea Party debate in Tampa, Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul a hypothetical question that finally led to: What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn't have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage? "Are you saying society should just let him die?"

Some members of the Tea Party crowd shouted, "Yes."


They booed Gov. Rick Perry for supporting in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.

They booed Paul for saying that having U.S. troops in the Middle East contributes to resentments, terrorism and perhaps even 911.

Some Tea Party folks appear willing to dump Social Security.

But nothing was more heartless than the shouted "yes" to the idea of allowing someone to die just because they can't afford treatment.


Crowley Political Report was not surprised. There is a hard, uncompromising edge to many members of the Tea Party that has little to do with reasonable disagreements about public policy.

Continue reading "Tea Party shows its ugly side during CNN debate" »

Brett Doster to run Mitt Romney's Florida campaign

Brett Doster, who got his start as a driver, travel aide and all around go-to-guy for the 1994 campaign of Jeb Bush, is the new Florida  strategic advisor for Mitt Romney.

Bush did not win the 1994 campaign but many of those who worked for him went on have successful careers in and out of politics. Doster has become one of the leading GOP operatives in Florida. He continued to work for Bush and then helped out Bush's older brother George W. as manager of his Florida campaign in 2004.

Doster was Florida political director for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign. He was campaign manager for Tom Gallagher's 2006 race for governor.

Doster, a fifth generation Floridian and graduate of The Citadel, is know for his hard work and easy-going manner.

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What they are saying about Florida and the CNN, Tea Party debate

While Crowley Political Report and others have long noted Florida will be the key to victory in the Republican presidential primary and in next year's election, it is now becoming, heaven help us, conventional wisdom.

Washington Post, The Fix - For the next 12 days, Florida will stand at the center of the 2012 Republican race, playing host to two debates — one tonight and a second on Sept. 22 — as well as a straw poll that will help shape the presidential nomination fight.


The next week and a half will also serve as the precursor to the Sunshine State primary early next year — a contest that many people believe could decide the identity of the party’s nominee.


In conversations with a handful of unaligned strategists, however, there was broad agreement that if the race comes down to Romney and Perry — as almost everyone expects it to — Florida will likely be decisive.

Houston Chronicle - The Tea Party movement is officially welcomed into the Republican mainstream today as the first presidential debate sponsored by a Tea Party group takes place in Tampa, Fla.


In many ways, the Tea Party Express involvement in the debate works to Perry's benefit. He was an early supporter of the movement in 2009 and made headlines at an April 15, 2009, Tea Party event when he suggested that Texas could secede from the Union.

The Daily Beast - the candidate with the most at stake is the Tea Party queen herself, Michele Bachmann, who badly needs to capitalize on the sympathetic audience. The congresswoman’s luster has clearly faded since her Iowa straw-poll victory last month, and she was practically invisible in last week’s MSNBC-Politico debate


No single debate is as important as the storyline that emerges from it. Perry must show that he can stop the bleeding on a sensitive issue (Social Security). Romney, who scored few points by attacking Perry’s jobs record, needs to prove he is nimble enough to stay on offense. And Bachmann, after being relegated to the sidelines, has to get into the arena.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer  I want potential voters out there to have a better appreciation of these candidates – their strengths and weaknesses. I want to make sure we can drill down on where they agree and where they differ. When the candidates dodge the questions, I will follow up and press. That’s what the voters want, and I’m looking forward to this opportunity.

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As Huntsman staff pulls out Perry adds three to Florida staff

It appears that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is sending a signal that he is very serious about winning the Florida Republican presidential primary even as former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman beat a hasty retreat from the Sunshine State.

In addition to announcing that he will be a major presence at Presidency 5, Perry's campaign just named three new Florida staffers - Nick Hansen, Bret Prater and Anthony Bustamante.

Here's the press release:

AUSTIN – Texas Gov. Rick Perry will participate in the Florida Presidency 5 (P5), including the P5 debate, CPAC and straw poll in Orlando, Fla. at the end of September. Gov. Perry also announced key members of his Florida team for his presidential campaign. Nick Hansen will serve as the Florida State Director, Bret Prater will serve as the Florida Political Director, and Anthony Bustamante will advise the Florida team’s grassroots efforts.

“Florida is very important to me, and I am looking forward to bringing my pro-jobs conservative message to Florida and the Presidency 5 straw poll events,” said Gov. Perry. “I have also assembled a strong team of Florida Republican professionals to help carry my record and vision for job creation and fiscal conservatism to the voters of the Sunshine State.”

Continue reading "As Huntsman staff pulls out Perry adds three to Florida staff" »

Huntsman's troubled campaign pulls staff out of Florida

Things are looking grim for Jon Huntsman as he shuffles his campaign, abandons Florida and desperately tries to gain momemtum for his Republican presidential campaign.

This just in to Crowley Political Report from the Huntsman campaign: 


Orlando, FL – Jon Huntsman for President announced the addition of four senior staff members all of whom will play an integral part in the campaign organization in the coming months. They are as follows:

  •  Tom Loeffler, Campaign Chairman
  •  Ann Woods Herberger, Senior Finance Director
  •  Ben Porritt, Senior Adviser for Communications
  •  Sarah Crawford Stewart, New Hampshire Senior Adviser

“Coming on the heels of the traditional kick-off of the campaign, we are very fortunate to be adding these accomplished political veterans,” said campaign manager Matt David. “These new team-members will be critical in our efforts in New Hampshire and across the country.”

In addition to adding senior leadership, David announced that the Huntsman campaign is reassigning staff from the Florida campaign headquarters to New Hampshire, a move reflective of the diminished importance of Florida’s “P5”, and the campaign’s focus on success in New Hampshire.

Continue reading "Huntsman's troubled campaign pulls staff out of Florida" »

Mike McCalister, Communists, RINOS, Adam Hasner

Geoff Ross, who claims to have been Mike McCalister's volunteer campaign manager, offers a, shall we say, vigorous defense of McCalister's campaign to win the Republican nomination to be Florida's next U.S. Senator.

This missive was posted on the Volusia County for Col. Mike McCalister Facebook page.

Dear Patriots,

 In October 2010 Colonel Mike McCalister US Senate candidate asked me to help set up and run his US Senate campaign. He asked me to get things moving forward for him as we arm the front lines to defend our Republic from this weak inefficient Communist style, tax and spend leadership of the Obama Administration.

Let’s not forget the misinformed lost and confused RINO's (who are actually Dems in elephants clothing) who are also running around the Republican party creating chaos and supporting the Obama agenda.

 I worked unpaid as a volunteer Campaign Manager and we put together one hell of a team across the State of Florida. I am not the most politically correct person in the world so I did what I could and kept my mouth shut as best as I could.

Continue reading "Mike McCalister, Communists, RINOS, Adam Hasner" »

Rick Perry plans strong presence at Florida Presidency 5

Eler Texas Gov. Rick Perry is "all in" for this month's Presidency 5 Straw Poll, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

"Gov. Perry is fully committed to participating in P5," said Perry campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan. "The governor is committed to working hard for the vote in Florida. We have the beginnings of a very good organization in Florida and believe the governor's message will win support in Florida."

Perry is also planning a fundraising blitz throughout Florida leading up to the start of Presidency 5 as Crowley Political Report noted in an earlier report.

Of course the immediate speculation is whether Perry's comments about Social Security will alienate Florida's older voters. 

Ever since Perry upped the ante by pushing even harder against Social Security during Wednesday's debate, commentators have said that Perry's description  of the program as a "Ponzi scheme" and a "monstrous lie" could hurt him.

On Friday, the Morning Joe roundtable was still questioning Perry's remarks with Joe Scarborough asking if Perry wants to end Social Security entirely.

Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann have shown less interest in Presidency 5 but with Perry making a push it will behoove them to embrace the Florida Republican Party's 3,500 delegates. Ignore them now, and it could hurt Bachmann and Romney in next year's critical Florida primary.

Why? Because these are the activists who help turn out the vote.

More on Rick Perry's Presidency 5 decision on the St. Pete Times Buzz.

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