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CRIST'S JUDICIAL DIVERSITY PUSH DOESN'T INCLUDE THIS WISE LATINA

Is Gov. CHARLIE CRIST trying to reach out to the right side of his party in light of the challenge from the conservative side by MARCO RUBIO?

Crist on Tuesday joined Rubio in coming out against the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court – though, of course, neither candidate will get a say. Crist may have been trying to appeal to voters on the right – many of whom have said publicly and privately that they prefer Rubio over the “moderate” Crist.

In saying that if he were in the Senate he wouldn't approve of Sotomayor, Crist cited .... guns.

Like Rubio, Crist also questioned Sotomayor's constructionism, saying he feared she wouldn't “strictly and objectively construe the constitution.” Conservatives, of course will like that too. But Crist, whose appreciation for the Second Amendment hasn't been questioned – but hasn't been a focus of his politics either – then added that he was concerned Sotomayor wouldn't respect the right to keep and bear arms.

The decision comes just a couple days after Rubio criticized Crist for his judicial philosophy, saying that the governor has been too liberal in how he chooses justices and judges.

In saying he woudn't vote for Sotomayor – at odds with Florida's Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez who has said he will vote for her - Crist, in effect, says 'Liberal? Ha!'

Another irony of Crist's stance: He has pushed vocally and forcefully for more diversity on the bench – even going to court to try to avoid having to choose from a slate of white judge candidates and saying that's been a priority for him in how he chooses those he elevates to the bench.

Being a wise Latina apparently doesn't trump the Second Amendment, though.

ENDORSEMENT TRACKER

SCRIPPS TREASURE COAST PAPERS ENDORSE NEGRON:
The Scripps Treasure Coast papers said over the weekend that state Senate candidates JOE NEGRON, a Republican, and Democrat BILL RAMOS are both “intelligent, articulate, no-nonsense individuals,” seeking to replace retiring Sen. Ken Pruitt. But the papers gave their endorsement to Negron, citing primarily his experience in the Legislature. The Stuart attorney served six years in the state House – and two as appropriations chairman. The two will be on the ballot in a special election Aug. 4. Pruitt, R-Stuart, is stepping down a year early.

OTHER RECENT ENDORSEMENTS

The Blue Dog Coalition last week announced its first endorsement of the 2010 cycle by picking a Florida candidate, announcing it was backing Democratic Polk County Supervisor of Elections LORI EDWARDS in the race to replace Rep. ADAM PUTNAM (R) in the state's 12th congressional district. Edwards likely Republican opponent is former state Rep. DENNIS ROSS, of Lakeland.

Also last week, Gov. CHARLIE CRIST picked up another blue-chip backer for his Senate bid, with Miami-Dade County Mayor CARLOS ALVAREZ saying he was endorsing Crist over MARCO RUBIO, the hometown contender. Alvarez joined a roster of establishment names in Florida and Washington, D.C., who have already signed on with the governor. Alvarez called Crist a "common-sense conservative."

Meanwhile, Rubio is boasting about capturing another straw poll.

Rubio, the West Miami former House speaker, trumpeted his weekend victory over Crist in a straw poll conducted by the Lee County Republican Executive Committee. In a twitter feed Rubio said he drew support from 85 percent of those party activists casting ballots -- a groundswell similar to the 77 percent backing captured a couple weeks ago in a Pasco County REC survey.

House 45 candidate Richard Corcoran was endorsed this week by Pinellas County Commissioner JOHN MORRONI in his bid to succeed Rep. TOM ANDERSON, R-Dunedin in the Pasco and Pinellas County seat. Corcoran, who has worked as an advisor to several Republican House speakers, faces Pasco School Board member KATHRYN STARKEY and newcomer FABIAN CALVO in the GOP primary.

OPERATIVE WATCH

Democratic gubernatorial contender Alex Sink named PAUL DUNN as her campaign manager last week, tapping the strategist who helped U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas down troubled Republican incumbent Tom Feeney last fall. Dunn joins Sink after having worked for Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and the John Edwards presidential campaign in New Hampshire. He also worked in Florida for proposed ballot initiatives to overhaul the state's redistricting process and increase the state minimum wage. Dunn's most remarkable claim, however, was leading Kosmas, a former state House member, to victory over Feeney last fall in a Central Florida congressional contest. Feeney, a three-term incumbent, had been tarred by the Jack Abramoff scandal, having accepted trips and a golf outing at Scotland's St. Andrew's Golf Club paid by organizations tied to the imprisoned lobbyist.

U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek's new “new media director,” is KEN QUINNELL. Look for Quinell to be tweeting, facebooking, blogging, and otherwise putting Meek's campaign talking points out on whatever other new media come up next. Quinell – who runs the blog Florida Progressive Coalition blog – http://quinnell.us/sspb/ - is a Democratic activist and political science professor.

A Tallahassee political veteran and two respected energy experts are starting a new lobbying firm. Earlier this month, former state Rep. JERRY PAUL and energy expert ROB WILSON announced they were joining forces with former Republican Party of Florida spokeswoman ERIN VANSICKLE to start the firm Capitol Energy Florida LLC, which will lobby the Legislature and the executive branch, advise clients on grant procurement, communications and serve other governmental needs of clients in the energy sector. The company's already signed up some high profile clients, including Florida Power & Light, as well as several green energy companies.

Also last week, the Florida Democratic Party named SCOTT ARCENEAUX executive director following the announcement that LEONARD JOSEPH is stepping down to take a job with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Arceneaux comes to the party fresh off helping Creigh Deeds in his upset gubernatorial primary win in Virginia, and in addition to being the day-to-day director of the party's Florida operation, will serve as political director as well.

Arceneaux has also worked for Chris Dodd, and was executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party from 2001 to 2004. Joseph, who has headed day-to-day operations at the party since 2006, will serve as chief of staff in Homeland Security's policy office.

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