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News From the Campaign Trail

THROW THE BUMS OUT: Jacksonville mechanic Michael Yost filed this week to run for Congress against Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown. Yost, a Republican, initially had planned to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, but decided instead to take on Brown, the Gainesville Sun reported this week. Yost's platform is basically trying to unseat longtime incumbents.

THE LATEST ON PAULA-TICS: Sen. Paula Dockery has not decided if she will challenge Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination next year, but she is “excited about the possibility.” Dockery, R-Lakeland, told the News Service of Florida Wednesday that she was not yet focused on the governor’s race because she doesn't think voters are. But Dockery also said that she is remaining open to the possibility of a 2010 run for the Governor’s Mansion because of encouragement from GOP activists. “I’m going to wait a while, but if there is still as much enthusiasm as we get closer and people want a choice and a different kind of candidate out there, I’ll look at it,” she said. “I am getting excited about the possibility.” McCollum, an Orlando area Republican, has been considered the frontrunner for the GOP’s gubernatorial nod after Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson backed off a primary challenge and much of the party establishment backed him.

ROSS MAY GET PRIMARY CHALLENGE: The Tampa Tribune on Wednesday speculated that Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson may be about to jump into the race for U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam's seat in Congress. Putnam is leaving to run for Agriculture Commissioner. The Tribune noted that Wilkinson had scheduled announcements Thursday in Brandon and Bartow about his future plans and that it would be of concern to a certain number of voters in Hillsborough County that's pretty close to the number of voters in that county in Congressional District 12. The Republican would face former state Rep. Dennis Ross in the primary.

MACK BERNARD TO RUN FOR PALM BEACH-BASED SEAT: Delray Beach City Commissioner Mackenson “Mack” Bernard got into the race for House District 84 late last week, seeking to replace Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach, who is leaving to run for the Palm Beach County Commission. Bernard moved to Delray from Haiti in 1986, and if elected would join Rep. Ronald Brise, D-North Miami, as Haitian-born legislators. Current Rep. Yolly Roberson, D-Miami, was born in Haiti, too, but she's term limited in 2010 and is running for Congress.

THRASHER MAY OUTRAISE BEAN, BUT WHO'LL GIVE YOU BETTER ICE CREAM?: Deep research into the race for state Senate District 8 has uncovered this gem: Aaron Bean acknowledges he may be outraised by GOP primary opponent John Thrasher, but can Thrasher offer you a round of mini-golf and some ice cream? Probably not. The Jacksonville Observer earlier this month had a good Q&A with Bean, a former House member, about his priorities should he be re-elected, some of his thoughts on the race and what he considers his accomplishments while in the Legislature from 2000 to 2008. On the race: “We are most likely going to be outraised as Speaker Thrasher is expected to raise over $1 million. I may get outraised, but I will not be outworked,” Bean told the Observer. But he ended the interview with this curious – but kind of fun - closing thought: “In addition to working as a community relations officer for Shands Hospital, my wife and I are small business owners (Putt-Putt in Fernandina Beach). Come bring the family and play and enjoy the best ice cream!” How do you top that, John Thrasher?

FUNDRAISING

Gov. Charlie Crist is getting started right away on third quarter fundraising, with a Friday night $2,400 a person dinner in Orlando for his Senate bid hosted by several members of the state's Indian-American community. The finance chairman is Dr. A.K. Desai and and the host committee members for the dinner include doctors Siva Bellam, IVS Nath, Emandi Rao, Kotha Sekharam, Muppavarapu Swaroop, and several others. Friday night's dinner is at the Car Club in Orlando.

ENDORSEMENT TRACKER

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, is backing Dennis Ross in his bid to fill the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Adam Putnam. With the endorsement, Ross, a Republican former state lawmaker, from Lakeland can now stop worrying about Dockery getting into that race. She's increasingly mentioned as a possible Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Former legislator and Education Commissioner Betty Castor – also the mother of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, has endorsed Sen. Dan Gelber's candidacy for attorney general.

Sen. Mike Haridopolos has joined a growing list of sitting Republican legislators backing Wellington Councilwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto's bid for the Senate District 27 seat, being vacated by attorney general candidate Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres.

On Wednesday, former state Rep. Sharon Merchant got in the race for the Aronberg seat and announced several endorsements by members of the Republican caucus. Merchant announced she has the support of Sens. Alex Villalobos, Paula Dockery, Lee Constantine, Nancy Detert, Rudy Garcia, Dennis Jones, Evelyn Lynn, Durell Peaden and Stephen Wise.

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