Political news

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.


A Miami federal judge has declared that Gov. Rick Scott's order requiring drug testing for state workers is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled today that blanket testing of some 85,000 workers violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The ruling could eventually have an impact on a new state law also permitting random worker drug testing.

Most of us Americans find it hard to watch any sort of a competition without a scoreboard. And when the prize is the White House, the desire to know who's winning gets overwhelming.

That's why, now that Mitt Romney has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination for president, nearly every day brings a new national poll predicting the popular vote results in November.

Or purporting to do so.

President Obama stopped at the Port of Tampa to talk up his goal of doubling U.S. exports. He said the country's 46 percent increase in exports to Latin America during his term signals the country is heading in the right direction.

Here is the transcript of his speech, provided by the White House.

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Tampa!  (Applause.)

Steve Newborn/WUSF

The Port of Tampa is key to increasing exports of U.S. goods – that’s the message that President Barack Obama delivered during a brief visit Friday on his way to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

Surrounded by stacked shipping containers with an American flag flying above, President Obama delivered a 10-minute speech to an enthusiastic, invited crowd of about 100 people at the port. He also took a quick tour of port facilities.

President Barack Obama is visiting the Port of Tampa on Friday to talk about trade with Latin America on his way to Colombia. Maritime folks hope he's bringing good news with him.

Dwayne Keith is president the Tampa Chapter of the Propeller Club, which promotes the maritime industry. He says the federal government has a role to play in supporting the shipping business.

"We'd certainly like to see the federal government do its part and keep this vital industry going," Keith said.

It was a statement so outrageous, a lot of people thought Congressman Allen West was joking.

At a recent town hall meeting, West said, "I believe its about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party are members of the Communist Party."

A little later, he said he was referring to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of representatives that focuses on civil rights, social justice other liberal causes.

President Obama is making his case for the "Buffett Rule" in Florida today. 

He'll also beef up his campaign war chest with fundraisers at stops in Boca Raton and in Tampa on Friday. 

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn signaled that he’s flexible regarding some elements of his proposed “Clean Zone” ordinance. It sets up strict rules about protests in and around Tampa the week of the Republican National Convention.

Buckhorn said that he’s willing to negotiate with Tampa City Council which delayed its vote on his Clean Zone ordinance after raising concerns about its scope.

After losing a county-wide vote in 2010 to fund light rail in Hillsborough County, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has come up with a new idea to bring mass transit options to his city.

Buckhorn wants Florida lawmakers to give municipalities the right to go to the voters for a sales tax referendum. Right now, all such votes must be countywide.

"If we had the ability to do that, I think you could see Mayor Foster and I get together to run referendums in our respective jurisdictions that would pass," Buckhorn said.

Tampa City Council delayed their vote Thursday on the Clean Zone ordinance because council members brought up what they saw as some problems. Council members plan to pick up the issue again April 19th.

Some council members like council woman Lisa Montelione wanted clearer language. Others, like council woman Mary Mulhern, didn't agree with the size of the Clean Zone.

"Davis Islands, Harbor Island, Downtown... those are residential neighborhoods," Mulhern said, "So to think that you need to encompass that with these kind of restrictions is completely unworkable."