Tales from the Trail

Conservative Rubio pulls ahead in Florida Republican primary


Conservative Republican Marco Rubio is building a lead over moderate Governor Charlie Crist in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, a contest highlighting the perils facing party moderates in this rambunctious election year, a poll shows.

A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Republican primary voters released this week showed Rubio, a former Florida House Speaker, with 54 percent support against Crist’s 36 percent. A poll in January had Rubio ahead by 13 points.

The primary race has echoes in Arizona, where veteran Senator John McCain faces his strongest challenge yet from fiery conservative J.D. Hayworth, who is attacking his “moderate record” on taxes, social issues and the bank bailout.

Rubio, who like Hayworth is a favorite of Tea Party conservative activists who hope to make a splash in the 2010 congressional election and beyond, is campaigning on issues including opposition to “excessive and wasteful spending in Washington” and big government.

He is assailing Crist for taking funds from the $787 billion federal government stimulus, and for his willingness to work with Democratic President Barack Obama — a definite no-no with Republican hard-liners.

Tea Party ‘warriors’ take aim at Florida Senate race

TEA PARTYConservative Tea Party activists had loads of fun in Boston last month helping Scott Brown chuck Teddy Kennedy’s forever-Democratic Senate seat into Republican waters.

Now the painted warriors hope to stage a reenactment of Florida’s Dade Massacre, with Republican Gov. Charlie Crist playing the ill-fated Maj. Dade.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Crist 12 percentage points behind former state House Speaker and Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio in Florida’s Republican primary contest for the U.S. Senate. Rubio leads Crist 49 percent to 37 percent.

from Environment Forum:

Calling Dr. Strangelove!

Perhaps you've heard about the Russian submarines patrolling international waters off the U.S. East Coast (if you haven't, take a look at a Reuters story about it) in what feels like an echo of the old Cold War. The Pentagon's not worried about this particular venture, but there are concerns from the U.S. energy industry about another Russian foray -- this one in concert with Cuba. In rhetoric that may ring a bell with anyone who saw the 1964 satirical nuclear-fear movie "Dr. Strangelove,"
the Washington-based Institute for Energy Research is sounding the alarm about a Russian-Cuban deal to drill for offshore oil near Florida.

"Russia, Communist Cuba Advance Offshore Energy Production Miles Off Florida's Coast," is the title on the institute's news release. Below that is the prescription for action: "Efforts Should Send Strong Message to Interior Dept. to Open OCS in Five-Year Plan." OCS stands for outer continental shelf, an area that was closed to oil drilling until the Bush administration opened it last year in a largely symbolic move aimed at driving down the sky-high gasoline prices of the Summer of 2008.

Environmentalists hate the idea. So does Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has made opposition to offshore drilling one of his signature issues. But as it turns out, it's unlikely that anybody -- from Russia, Cuba, the United States or anywhere else -- is going to get petroleum out of the OCS in the immediate future.

Bush disappointed by brother’s senate decision

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush says he’s disappointed that his younger brother Jeb Bush has ruled out running for a Florida Senate seat in 2010.
The former Florida governor removed himself from consideration this week, saying now is not the right time for him to return to elected office.

“I am disappointed he didn’t run. I haven’t talked to him since he made the decision,” Bush said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News on Thursday.

“I actually wanted him to run for senator, but you know … We all have different family issues you’ve got to deal with,” Bush said. The Morning News will be Bush’s hometown paper when be begins his post-presidential life at his new home in Dallas later this month.

Bush stirs political pot for possible Jeb Senate run

WASHINGTON – The Bush dynasty in Washington may not be over just yet.

BUSH NAVYEven as President George W. Bush is packing his bags to head to Texas after eight years in the White House, he is stirring up a little political curiosity about his “little” brother Jeb possibly running for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida.

In an interview with the blog RealClearPolitics published this week, President Bush was asked if Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, would be part of comeback by Republicans in 2010 after a drubbing in the last two congressional elections.

“He would be an awesome U.S. senator,” Bush replied. The seat up in 2010 is being vacated by Republican Sen. Mel Martinez who decided earlier this month not to run for another term.

Sen. Martinez won’t seek re-election in battleground of Florida

Posted by Michael Peltier and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON — Republican Mel Martinez of Florida — a Cuban immigrant who says he lived “The American Dream” — is calling it quits as a member of the U.S. Senate.

Having narrowly won a first term in 2004 and facing an anticipated tough re-election in 2010, Martinez announced on Tuesday he will not run for a second term.

“The inescapable truth, for me, is that the call to public service is strong — but the call to home, family and lifelong friends is even stronger,” Martinez said in a statement that he read at a news conference in Orlando, Florida, and was also released in Washington.

Stuffing the ballot boxes: Florida overflows with votes

MIAMI – Voting monitors in swing-state Florida said the biggest problem was long lines, especially on college campuses.

In two Sarasota precincts, so many votes were cast that no more could be stuffed into the ballot boxes.

“The lock box is overflowing and they are putting the ballots in bags,” said Marcia Johnson-Blanco from the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which was part of a vote-monitoring coalition.

Cub scouts get impromptu tour of Biden’s plane

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden gave a group of Cub Scouts an impromptu tour of his campaign aircraft, showing them the cockpit and handing out Halloween candy.

The young scouts, some of them wearing red plastic fireman hats, had been visiting firefighters at the airport when Biden, on a campaign swing through northern Florida, arrived with his entourage.

“Have you ever seen a big plane before, up close?,” the senator asked the boys. “You guys wanna come and see my plane? I’m gonna get in trouble but come on.”

Biden smells “victory” in the air for Obama

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Just two days before the U.S. presidential election, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden smells victory for Barack Obama.

Speaking at Florida State University in Tallahassee, his first in a three-stop swing through the battleground state of Florida on Sunday, Biden pointed to a dramatic bronze statue entitled “Unconquered” outside the university’s stadium.

“This is a great place to have this rally in front of the ‘Seminole Unconquered’. I tell you, I don’t think you ever approach this stadium without smelling victory in the air,” Biden said. 

McCain discovers Garden of Eatin in Florida

PLANT CITY, Florida – Republican John McCain was taking advantage of the what the land provided to eat his way across Florida while on a bus tour on Thursday.

In Altamonte Springs, the Straight Talk Express made a beeline for Mi Viejo San Juan restaurant where McCain declared to the owner, “We’re hungry.”

Joined by his wife, Cindy, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, McCain tucked into heaping plates of chicken, beef, mounds of rice and fried plaintains.