Political news

Steve Newborn

Mitt Romney is in the midst of a campaign swing through Florida. Around noon, he appeared at a fundraiser at the upscale Avila development north of Tampa. Earlier this morning, he appeared before several hundred people at the Mirror Lake Lyceum in St. Petersburg. There, standing before a clock ticking up the amount of the national debt,  he went on the offensive against President Obama's economic policies.

CNN iReport

You might remember the Tampa vs. Miami Cuban Sandwich smack-down. Now, it’s a showdown between national political convention host cities.

CNN iReport is sponsoring the “City Smack Down” between Tampa, host city of the Republican National Convention, and Charlotte, N.C., host city of the Democratic National Convention.

Associated Press

Governor Rick Scott's chief of staff Steve MacNamara abruptly resigned on Saturday amid allegations of steering state contracts to friends and using state employees to help him apply for a job in Montana.

In an interview Monday with WUSF News, Gary Fineout with the Associated Press said, "we were in the middle of working on another story about MacNamara when he resigned" and suggested that more reports could be forthcoming.

Click ABOVE to hear the complete interview with WUSF's Carson Cooper.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, quit Saturday after a week of press reports of questionable dealings. Why now?

1. The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times team broke the news of a no-bid deal he made when he worked in the Senate: "a $5.5 million contract with Spider Data Systems for a software platform," Mary Ellen Klas reports, that benefitted a friend.

Gas prices may be going down, but they’re still a huge issue in the U.S. Senate race in Florida -- and each side is making some questionable claims, according to PolitiFact.

Republican candidate Rep. Connie Mack recently said, "I have always said that I would be for drilling." But Angie Holan of PolitiFact Florida says that claim received the group’s worst possible rating: Pants on Fire.

The Washington Post is reporting that during the uproar a few years ago over the CIA’s use of waterboarding, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told the agency he “wanted to find out for himself how it felt.”

That's according to a new book by former CIA official Jose Rodriguez. Rodriguez offers a spirited defense of the CIA’s use of waterboarding in the book, written with former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow.

President Barack Obama's personal endorsement of same-sex marriage has generated both support and opposition in the Tampa Bay region.

The Metropolitan Community Church, based in Sarasota, has reached out to the gay community for decades. Church moderator Nancy Wilson says she's thrilled with President Obama's definitive stand on same-sex marriage.

"It's a great time of hope for our community and for all people," she said, "and even with the defeats in North Carolina, the things that are discouraging, on the other hand there are these wonderful moments when you really know that progress is happening."

Congressional Investigation Targets Rep. Vern Buchanan

May 10, 2012

The New York Times is reporting that Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan appeared to have tried to illegally influence the testimony of an ex-business partner regarding allegations of campaign finance violations in his own race.

Small businesses in the Tampa Bay region are hoping the Republican National Convention will be a financial boon. The 2012 Host Committee just published an online small business directory to help.

Florists and janitorial services, limousines and staffing agencies are among the 500 certified small businesses listed in the business network online directory.

But, some local vendors have yet to see any convention business come their way

Gov. Rick Scott says his new "Project Sunburst" is an unprecedented act of transparency. But one political watcher says Scott appears to be taking lessons in communication from the mafia.

Scott recently started publishing all his e-mails and those of his top lieutenants online for the public to see.

"Project Sunburst" comes after a minor scandal where his e-mails were improperly destroyed during his transition to power.

The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee for the Republican National Convention has launched a 10-day push for volunteers.  

"As a Host Committee, we want our volunteers to reflect the diversity in our community, so we are encouraging everyone from all walks of life to get involved and register to volunteer," says Host Committee Director of Events and Volunteers Amanda Whitelaw.

For more information or to register for the Host Committee’s volunteer program click here.

Lance Shearer/Special to the Daily News

Jeb Bush, the brother and son of two former U.S. presidents, tells reporters Saturday he is "not going to be vice president."

Poll: Obama, Romney headed for photo finish in Florida

May 3, 2012

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney could be headed for a photo finish in Florida this November.

Forty-four percent of 1,169 Florida voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University between April 25 and May 1 said they'd vote for Romney if the election were now, compared to 43 percent who said they prefer the president. The latest snapshot of voter preferences has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The new figures were an improvement for Romney, who trailed Obama by 7 percentage points among Florida voters in late March.

Edward Linsmier for The New York Times

 The New York Times is reporting that the United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, voted against two proposals on Wednesday to divest from companies that provide equipment used by Israel to enforce its control in the occupied territories. The vote was held in Tampa at the church’s quadrennial convention. The Times wrote: 

Now that President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are pivoting to the general election, campaign watchers are handicapping the race that counts this fall — the Electoral College.

And right now, the Electoral College map is looking better for the president than the (generally very close) national polls, says NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving.

Florida House Photo

On Florida Matters this week, I talked with the state’s 45th governor about Florida Polytechnic, the Republican National Convention, and whether Florida is the most veteran-friendly state.

Five things we learned from our interview with Governor Scott:

1.  That Scott thinks a 12th University “makes sense.”

“I want to make sure, if we’re going to have a 12th university, that we can afford a 12th university,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during the legislative session when he was asking all the other public universities to dip into their reserves to cover budget cuts.

Scott signed legislation creating Florida Polytechnic as a fully funded independent university beginning July 1, 2012. He defended his decision to WUSF, but was short with specifics on how he will measure if the cost will be worth it to taxpayers.

Here’s five reasons Scott said Florida Polytechnic “makes sense.”

Courtesy GOP

Yes, the Florida Republicans will be staying at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor. That's about 30 miles from downtown Tampa, where the main RNC events will be going on. But there may be bigger concerns for the Florida GOP when it comes to how the state will play on the national stage come August.

University of South Florida Political Scientist Dr. Susan MacManus says in Denver Democrats faced a similar fate.  "In both instances, the parties went early and out of turn and the national party punished them for it.  Some would say that Innisbrook's not so bad, however."

Florida is in the doghouse for violating GOP party rules and pushing up its Presidential Preference primary to January 31st.

But MacManus says there are bigger issues for the GOP and Florida Republicans to tackle before the convention.  She says there are three things Florida Republicans would like to see at the RNC:

The Florida delegation to the Republican National Convention will be staying... in Palm Harbor.

That's 30 miles from the site of the convention, The Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that there is no other delegation located farther from downtown than Florida -- and their bunkmates at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor -- the South Carolina delegation.

Photo courtesy of FLGOVSCOTT

The state will likely appeal Thursday's ruling by a Miami federal judge that blanket drug testing of Florida state workers is unconstitutional -- saying it violates the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.

Gov. Rick Scott, during a visit to WUSF's studios, said the court ruling makes no sense because random drug testing is common practice in the private sector.