On July 1, 2005, Tom Gallagher appeared to be the early frontrunner in the race to win Florida's GOP nomination for governor.
On that day, his campaign announced a then record setting fundraising pace. Gallagher had collect $3.02 million in only 43 days. Even Jeb Bush had not raised money that fast in his campaigns for governor.
Gallagher campaign manager Brett Doster talked up the success with the media and Florida's political heavy weights. The message - the Gallagher train is leaving the station and you better hurry and get on board.
Florida's Chief Financial Officer appeared to have every reason to feel comfortable and his chief rival, Attorney General Charlie Crist, seemed to agree.
"It is well known that [Gallagher] knows how to raise money," Crist said in a statement. "I look forward to a campaign not just purchased on television but a real discussion of issues before the people of Florida."
On July 7, Crist made an announcement that changed all of the assumptions about the 2006 race for governor.
Crist said his campaign had raised $3.8 million is just six weeks making Crist the new fundraising champion.
Gallagher's campaign reeled from the announcement and never fully recovered.
This weekend, Crist will attend the Florida Democratic Party's statewide conference in Orlando. The newly minted Democrat is being hailed as the party's best chance to defeat Republican Gov. Rick Scott in November.
Crist, in a new video released today, demonstrates his natural knack for appearing to care deeply about average Floridians. He also demonstrates his ability to find an opponent's weakness and capitalize on it.
Scott's tiresome slogan "It's Working" is flipped by Crist into a somber and concerned "It's Not Working."
Crist knows how to campaign. He has an ability to connect with individuals in a way that continues to elude Scott.
But while Scott may be sorely lacking in charisma, he has plenty of the other important campaign ingredient - money. He spent $70 million of his own dough in 2010. He is raising money this time and while he says he doesn't want to spend his own money again, be assured that Scott will write checks if that is what it takes to win.
The 50 million dollar question for Crist is - can he raise big money?
The fact is, no one knows. Crist has no experience raising money as a Democrat. A lot of his previous money sources won't pony up for him. Crist needs to find new donors.
Crist is expected to formally announce his campaign in November. If he does, he will need to report in January how much money he has raised in November and December.
He will need a very good showing to prove that he is a viable candidate.
Forget his lead in the polls. Forget his charm. Forget his winning campaign style.
None of that will matter if Crist does not have the money to compete in a very large and very expensive media state.
If Democrats really want Crist to win, they are going to have to open their checkbooks.
That is first and most important test of the 2014 campaign.
No one knows that better than Tom Gallagher - and Charlie Crist.
This morning Democrat George Sheldon announced he is running for Florida Attorney General. The Republican Party of Florida responds:
STATEMENT FROM RPOF CHAIRMAN LENNY CURRY:“In his candidacy announcement for Attorney General, George Sheldon has proven to be just like the rest of the Florida Democratic Party: offering no positive policy agenda for Floridians. Sheldon is already doing what Washington politicians seem to do best: do little, accomplish even less, but always attack your opponent. Meanwhile, Attorney General Pam Bondi fights for Floridians every day, whether it be against the overreach of the federal government or against criminals who seek to harm our children, our job creators and our seniors.”
Pam Bondi has staked out some interesting political ground during her first three years as Florida Attorney General.
She was the lead attorney in the lawsuit attempting to declare Obamacare unconstitutional. She lost.
Bondi was forced to apologize after cancelling the execution of killer Marshall Lee Gore because the execution date conflicted with a political fundraiser she was having.
She added Florida's name to a tough Arizona immigration law that she felt needed Florida's support in the courts. Bondi opposes gay marriage although she has not taken any action beyond restating her objection.
This would seem to make Bondi ripe for Democratic opposition next year. But up until today, the Democrats appeared to have difficulty finding a candidate.
Now they have one - George Sheldon, 66, who has served in a wide variety of capacities in Tallahassee and Washington. He is resigning, effective immediately, from his current post as Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.
Sheldon began his career working for then state Sen. Reubin Askew. He was elected to the state House in 1974 and left in 1982. In 2000, Sheldon ran for education commissioner against then-Republican Charlie Crist. Sheldon lost. Two years later, Sheldon ran for attorney general and lost in the Democratic primary to Buddy Dyer (now Orlando Mayor). Crist defeated Dyer.
Could Sheldon have a Crist jinx?
He may find out when Crist finally announces that he is a candidate for governor.
Meanwhile, Bondi has handed the Democrats some clear issues to use in the 2014 campaign. The best thing she may have going for her right now is that the Democratic Party is a shadow of its former self.
It's been a long time since Democrats have dominated statewide.
Here's Sheldon's announcement:
"This past Friday I officially resigned as Assistant Secretary for the United States Department of Health and Human Services and today I am announcing my candidacy for Attorney General for Florida. As Deputy Attorney General for Bob Butterworth I know the potential that office holds for protecting our families and taking on any one or any corporation that would threaten us. Taking on predatory lenders, human traffickers, and those who engage in deceptive practices is the job of the Attorney General…not working full time trying to deny health insurance to children and anyone with preexisting conditions. This race is about character. Who has the experience and character to use the office of attorney general for general good rather than as a personal, political, partisan platform. I hope you agree that my experience in Florida’s Attorney General office, serving as Secretary of Children and Families in Florida, and as Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of Health and Human Services allows me to serve as Florida’s Attorney General. I’m proud that children and families have been in my job title for almost a decade and that protecting has been a job description. It is time to restore integrity in the Attorney General office. Together we can do it. I ask for your vote, your help, your time and your prayers. Together we can restore character to the office of attorney general. "
Florida Congressman Bill Young, who served in the U.S. House of Represenatives for 42 years and as a state senator for 10 years, died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He was 82.
Young recently shocked his home district - Pinellas County - by announcing on Oct. 9, that he would not run for reelection.
Congressman Young's death follows the loss in September of retired Congressman E. Clay Shaw, who like Young was prominent and power Republican in the House of Representatives.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Andrew Meacham has written an excellent story marking Young's passing. Many will be surprised at some of the details of Youngs life - particularly his childhood. The story is here.
This is the Young family statement:
“U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (FL-13) passed away this evening at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the company of his family. The cause of death was complications related to a chronic injury. Information on services will be forthcoming.”
Speaker John Boehner - The House has lost another dear friend http://j.mp/1bGHe5g We'll miss Bill Young, as will countless others blessed by his life & service
Florida Agriculture Commission Adam Putnam who served with Young in the House - FL lost a statesmen tonight, in every sense of the word. Ppl will say they don't make 'em like Bill Young anymore. Truth is they never did.
Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis - Tonight, we lost a great leader & an even better friend. "Chairman" will be remembered for his pure/honest leadership
John Harwood, reporter MSNBC/NYTimes - RIP Bill Young & thx for serving America more than 4 decades as House member from St. Petersburg (where I started covering him 35 yrs ago)
Charlie Crist - My prayers are with the family of Congressman Bill Young. He served our county, state and country with distinction.
Congressman Vern Buchanan - Bill Young was a mentor. He was an inspiration to so many bc he personified the most important virtue of public service-he did it for others
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi - RIP Cong Bill Young. An advocate for veterans and Tampa Bay, and a great Floridian. Keeping Beverly and the Young family in my prayers.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio - Floridians have lost one of the greatest public servants we’ve ever had in our state’s history.