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Several presidential battleground states are moving quickly to reach agreements with federal officials to access a U.S. immigration database to purge noncitizens from voter rolls.

The states, including some with large Latino populations, are following Florida, which last week reached its own pact with the Department of Homeland Security to use a database that contains information about immigrants who are in the U.S. legally. The states' efforts had initially been blocked by DHS until the agency relented.

New City Manager Chosen for Sarasota

Jul 16, 2012

Sarasota City Commissioners voted unanimously this afternoon to select Thomas Barwin to be the next City Manager.   The consulting firm hired to facilitate the candidate search process will now negotiate a contract between Barwin and the City of Sarasota.  The contract is expected to be presented to the City Commission during a Special City Commission meeting Monday, July 30. 

Barwin was the Village Manager for the Village of Oak Park, IL from 2006 - 2012.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

There's 40 days to go until the Tampa Bay Times Forum hosts one of the biggest political events in the world. Today, the Republican National Committee took over the keys to the arena, and final preparations are being made for the convention - and who will get to go to the podium.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

He's considered a legend in Tampa political circles. Saturday, former Congressman Sam Gibbons regaled an audience with tales of how things used to be in Washington - and how different politics in the nation's capital is today.

Molly Redden is an assistant editor at The New Republic.

There are plenty of establishment-sanctioned Super PACs at work in this year's Senate and Congressional races — the Democratic Majority PAC, the Republican Club for Growth Action and American Crossroads. But they're not alone in spending gobs of cash on these elections.

Leading up to the November presidential election, there has been plenty of talk in Florida about voting.

Not just who to vote for, but who can actually vote in the state.

We're talking about The Scott administration's effort to purge non-citizens from the voter rolls.

That has led to plenty of controversies, several lawsuits and some claims that have drawn the attention of PolitiFact Florida.

The polling company Rasmussen Reports is saying Republican Congressman Connie Mack draws his highest level of support yet against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in Florida’s 2012 U.S. Senate race.

Ben Adler is a contributing writer for The Nation.

On Friday Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS announced a major advertising blitz. Over the next month, beginning Tuesday, it will spend $25 million on air time in the key swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / 2011 / CARRIE WELLS

Former North Port police chief Terry Lewis has announced he's stepping down as interim city manager of Sarasota on Aug. 3.

Lewis told the Sarasota Herald Tribune he's ready to retire.

"It appears I am headed to retirement," said Lewis, whom commissioners asked last week to stay as they threw out all the finalists to replace him.

David July

Would you vote for someone before you even got to know them? 

One Florida lawmaker is asking to be selected as the House Speaker... six years in advance. 

As soon as Florida Representatives make their way into the House, the clock starts ticking. 

Candidates can only serve four two year terms, eight years all together.  That means if they have any ambitions for Speaker of the House, they have to get the ball rolling early to gain enough support. 

Bill Young's "Macaca" Moment?

Jul 10, 2012

In 2006, Virginia Senator George Allen used an obscure racial slur -- Macaca -- when referring to somebody at a campaign rally.

That man was following Allen around with a video camera and captured the moment on tape. The tape hit the internet and some say that moment cost Allen the election.

On the Fourth of July, Congressman Bill Young was at a campaign event and told someone to "get a job" when that person asked Young about a Jesse Jackson-backed proposal to raise the minimum wage. 

Rep. Bill Young Tells Man to Get a Job

Jul 9, 2012

Representative Bill Young (R-Indian Shores) tells a young man who is asking him a question to "get a job."

graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Feel like you’re barraged with political ads every time you turn on the TV? That’s because you are.

According to this map in the Washington Post, Tampa is No. 1 in the amount of money the presidential candidates and groups supporting them have spent on television campaign ads this year.

So far, they've spent more than $13 million in the Tampa Bay media market. The only other markets that come close are Charlotte, N.C., and Orlando.

Courtesy of Reuters

Ordinarily, you'd have to go way out to the west and north to South Dakota to see the iconic monument, Mount Rushmore. 

But this weekend, you just have to travel south on Interstate 95 to West Palm Beach to see the shining, orange faces of the U.S. Presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Why orange?  Because the homage you will witness in West Palm Beach is made out of cheese.

Professor says Florida's Voter Purge List is Flawed

Jul 3, 2012
Joe Skipper / Reuters

Most Florida counties are not complying with the state’s plan to remove possible non-citizens from the voter rolls. One political researcher at the University of Florida says the state is working from a flawed list.

Daniel Smith has testified in front of Congress about Florida’s voting laws. He runs a popular blog about election laws and practices. He says election supervisors are justified in defying the state.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott spent the weekend expressing his opposition to President Obama's Affordable Care Act.  He appeared on Fox News, CNN and CNBC.  He announced he will not expand Medicaid in the state or allow open health insurance "exchanges."

But PolitiFact Florida says Scott needs to recheck his facts:

Scott: Medicaid expansion will cost the State $1.9 billion a year.

PolitiFact Ruling: False

New polls show that President Obama's shift in deportation policy appears to have had the intended effect of boosting his support among Latino voters, many of whom have been adrift since 2008 and uninterested in the presidential election.

University of South Florida

With Election Day still four months away, the anger and elation felt in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act may die down slightly by November. But if the economy is issue-1 on people's minds when they go to the polls, USF Political Science Professor Dr. Susan MacManus says healthcare reform will likely be issue-1a.

"Clearly the economy and jobs is still going to be preeminent," she said. "But what this ruling does do is to now interweave healthcare as a cost item and a job creation item into the debate. So in that way, it sort of joined the two issues."

Even in Washington, a city where hyperbole rules, it still seems difficult to overstate how big a win the Supreme Court's decision on President Obama's signature piece of domestic legislation is for the man in the Oval Office.

The Affordable Care Act is so identified with him, after all, that its opponents quickly dubbed it "Obamacare," a term supporters at first eschewed but later came to embrace.

Florida is a perennial battleground state in presidential elections. And within Florida, the area around Orlando is a battlefield where the terrain has changed radically.

It used to be a tossup. But four years ago, Barack Obama won in Orlando — or technically in Orange County — with 59 percent of the vote, a margin of almost 80,000 votes.

What happened in Orlando?

There were several things: The Democrats registered a lot of black voters. Obama ran well among independents. But the biggest difference was the number of new arrivals to the area.

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