In 18 Months, Florida Voters To Stop Music; Pols to Look Feverishly for Seats | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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In 18 Months, Florida Voters To Stop Music; Pols to Look Feverishly for Seats

This blog has neglected the 2010 mid-term elections that are only 18 (eighteen!!) months away. It is the longest game of musical chairs. Ever.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, Kendrick Meek has surged to frontrunner status, raising $1.8 million in the first quarter -- roughly five times that of his closest competitor, Miami Beach State Sen. Dan Gelber.

Charlie Crist bolting the Governor's Mansion for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate has gone from "likely" to "foregone conclusion." And while that's been enough to discourage some GOP candidates, like U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV and Attorney General Bill McCollum, it appears former House Speaker Marco Rubio will challenge Crist on behalf of the state's conservative wing of the party, irked by the governor's support of Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan. That mini-insurgency sparked this new blog, which flew into a rage after the St. Pete Times published this quote by Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer:

"Anyone thinking of challenging Charlie Crist for any public office, I would encourage them to look somewhere else."
In other words, "Marco, you're in the wrong game of musical chairs."

No, Rubio should be like friendly Florida Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson who earlier this month announced a campaign on a caveat: If Crist goes for Senate, I'll go for governor. That would seem to pit Bronson against another Republican member of Crist's cabinet, Attorney General McCollum, who's also likely to get in the in the race after Crist declares. McCollum, it should be noted, got a nice boost in that race earlier this week when he made an appearance on Oprah to talk about how great he is at catching internet sex predators.

McCollum's departure would open another big state job, but we'll get to that in a minute. First, a question: How does the likely Democratic candidate for Florida governor, Alex Sink, react to McCollum's getting a chance to seduce Florida's housewives? We shall see. My bet: At some point after Sink officially declares her candidacy (another foregone conclusion), her campaign will write a letter describing exactly how much of an ogre McCollum is, along with how very Democrat and female Sink is. At which point Oprah will be overwhelmed with guilt and find some flimsy excuse to put Sink on the show at a crucial point in the campaign.

Did I mention that Sink is the Florida Chief Financial Officer? Because her governor's bid would mean that job is open. It just might tempt Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who's been talked about as a U.S. Senate candidate based on her appeal to red portions of the state but who has, according to Adam Smith at the St. Pete Times, "fire-in-the-belly questions." Sounds terribly uncomfortable, but Smith guesses that Iorio might have more intestinal comfort in the CFO's job. He also mentions North Palm Beach Sen. Jeff Atwater as a possible Republican contender.

Back to the AG. As McCollum's run for governor has grown more likely, we're starting to see some candidates taking measurements of his office. Watch out for Sen. Dave Aronberg, the Democrat from Greenacres whose campaign is liable to call for fewer skirt inspections and Rod Smith -- who you'll remember from the 2006 gubernatorial race. The Palm Beach Post is billing this one as a clash between frenemies.

All that and I haven't even mentioned polls, so here's a poll that Quinnipiac University released last week.