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Notes from the Campaign Trail

SINK: AMENDMENT 1?

Democratic candidate for governor Alex Sink may have chosen temporary amnesia when speaking to Miami's Latin-American Builders Association this week. The organization's members supported Gov. Charlie Crist's push for the property-tax cutting Amendment 1 in January 2008. But Sink said she couldn't remember whether she voted for the measure or not, which easily topped the 60 percent voter-approval needed to pass.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who helped lead the campaign and now is an ally of Sink rival, Republican Bill McCollum, said Monday he was "astonished that a candidate for governor," couldn't remember her vote on "historic tax reform." Sink's vote is still a secret. But a week before the statewide vote on the measure, she was quoted deriding the proposal's expected $240-a-year savings for the average homeowner.

"For $20 a month, I'm not willing to take the risk that my fire service is going to be deteriorated, my schools are not going to be supported, and I'm not going to get my potholes fixed," Sink said.

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JEB! TO HOST FUNDRAISER FOR MCCOLLUM

McCollum, meanwhile, is raising money with help from former Gov. Jeb Bush with an event that comes in just under the quarterly fundraising deadline. Bush will headline a June 30 event in Coral Gables. Both McCollum and Sink are pushing to raise money by the close of the first quarter since they announced their candidacies.

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RAMUSSEN POLL PUTS MCCOLLUM AHEAD OF SINK, CRIST AHEAD OF DEMS:

A new poll of the likely 2010 gubernatorial match-up released Thursday by New Jersey-based public opinion firm Ramusssen Reports put McCollum ahead of Sink by eight points. The current attorney general was ahead in the June 22 survey of 500 Likely Voters by 42 percent to 34 percent, with another 18 percent undecided. McCollum leads among men 51 percent to 36 percent, while the candidates nearly split women voters. McCollum also was the leader by 38 percent to 22 percent in the poll among independents. Each enjoyed high job approval ratings for their current offices, with 53 percent liking the job McCollum is doing as AG and 50 percent liking the job Sink is doing as chief financial officer. The poll also found Gov. Charlie Crist enjoying big leads in the U.S. Senate race over two U.S. Reps. who are either running for sure or publicly considering it. Crist led U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, 50 percent to 29 percent and Meek, D-Miami Beach, 46 percent to 28 percent.

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ODOM WAS BIG DONOR

Florida Democrats have done the math on Jay Odom, who along with former House Speaker Ray Sansom faces felony misconduct charges over $6 million in taxpayer money that went to a Destin Airport building.

Odom, a well-connected Panhandle developer gave almost $1.3 million to Florida Republicans over the past 10 years, compared to $1,500 to Florida Democrats. Among those getting money, Attorney General Bill McCollum ($2,000), a candidate for governor, chief financial officer contender Jeff Atwater ($3,500), the Senate president from North Palm Beach, and Sansom, who drew $23,500, according to state records reviewed by the state Democratic Party.

The most prominent Democrat getting money was Rod Smith, who is considering running for attorney general and collected a $500 contribution from Odom for his 2006 governor's race.

The money came either from Odom or from among 25 of his companies. The biggest chunk, more than $886,000, went to the Florida Republican Party, the Democrats pointed out in what likely will not be the last time Odom contributions are tied to the GOP.

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GELLER TALKS UP ROD SMITH

Former state Sen. Steve Geller of Cooper City, meahwile, may have breathed new life into Smith's attorney general ambitions while appearing on a South Florida television interview show. Geller handicapped the race by saying the former Alachua state senator and gubernatorial candidate would be a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination in the primary fight now shaping up between Sens. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach and Dave Aronberg of Greenacres.

Talking 2010 politics on WPBT-TV 2's Issues program, Geller said, "If you have one North Florida moderate-to-conservative running against two South Florida Jewish Democrats in a primary...there's no question in my mind that Smith would win the primary."

While Gelber and Aronberg jumped into the race relatively quickly, Smith has kept a low-profile. But he has not yet ruled out a run.

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PATTERSON STARTS MONEY CHASE FOR CFO

Volusia County Rep. Pat Patterson, running against Senate President Jeff Atwater for the Republican nomination for chief financial officer, won't travel far to kick-off fund-raising for his campaign. Patterson will open this year's second quarter of fund-raising Wednesday with a downtown event in his Deland hometown.

It's mostly a meet-and-greet with no price-tag on tickets. But it does call to mind Patterson's comment when he got in the race against Atwater, the North Palm Beach lawmaker expected to be better positioned to soak up lobbyist cash. “Outside the four blocks surrounding the Capitol, most people in Florida have no idea who the Senate president or House Speaker is," Patterson told the News Service of Florida earlier this month. Now, Patterson will apply his own current events test to Deland residents.

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LEGISLATIVE RACES

HOW MUCH TO MAKE THE OTHER CANDIDATES QUIT?

Tyler Sirois had a fundraiser Wednesday in Tallahassee to raise money for his effort to succeed Rep. Ralph Poppell in District 29. The invite for the fundraiser, sent by Corey Matthews, was particularly candid about what fundraising is about well over a year before Election Day. “While we would love to get a bunch of $500 checks to scare everyone out of the race, support in the form of even $250 from organizations or $100/$50 from individuals would be greatly appreciated.”

Sirois, of Cocoa, is one of four Republicans running to replace Poppell, R-Vero Beach. The others are Rob Dale of Rockledge, Tom Goodson of Cocoa, and Erin Grall of Vero Beach.

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DOES GOVERNORS CLUB NEED A REVOLVING DOOR?

With the end of this month a fund-raising deadline and candidates looking to gain bragging rights, Tallahassee's Governor's Club ought to consider putting in a revolving door.

No less than nine Democratic House members and one wanna-be are holding fund-raising events on the 29th and 30th at the members-only club in the Capitol's shadows.

On Monday, Democratic Reps. Debbie Boyd of Newberry and Janet Long of Seminole are scheduled to lead-off the cash call. A day later, House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands of Weston and his designated successor, Rep. Ron Saunders of Key West, are among those who will be accepting checks.

Lisa Lesperance, who is looking to succeed Republican Rep. Julio Robaina of Miami, is the sole Demoncratic non-incumbent slated to raise cash at the club before the midnight Tuesday deadline closing second quarter fundraising.

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ENDORSEMENT TRACKER

--Fort Lauderdale Mayor and former state Rep. Jack Seiler is backing Dan Gelber in the Democratic primary for attorney general, Gelber's campaign announced this week.

--House Majority Leader Adam Hasner crossed county lines Tuesday to endorse Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale in the Republican primary to succeed Senate President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach. Hasner, a Delray Beach Republican, stiffed two fellow Palm Beach County Republicans in backing Bogdanoff. Rep. Carl Domino of Jupiter and businessman Nick Loeb of Delray Beach, are also seeking the nomination.

--U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Chumuckla, announced this week he's endorsed Marco Rubio in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate race. “Marco Rubio possesses an impressive combination of idea-driven, principled leadership and the ability to communicate conservative values in ways that resonate at the kitchen table,” Miller said in a statement. “Americans deserve better than the current big government, borrow-and-spend road we are on, and I believe Marco Rubio will be a compelling voice to lead us to a stronger and more prosperous America.”

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