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State Politics Round-up

Wearing his chairman's hat, Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said he plans to announce later this week the formation of yet another panel to investigate how the Republican Party of Florida pays its bills and reimburses its members and staff. With fresh revelations involving tens of thousands of dollars in questionable American Express purchases, the RPOF chairman said the panel of outside business executives will look into how the party can make its accounting and expensing procedures more secure. "I'm looking at some CEOs who I have a great deal of confidence in who contacted me and said they might have an interest in doing something like that," Thrasher said. He also said he's personally going through Amex bills dating back three years to see if anything else jumps out at him.

A week after announcing his smallest fundraising quarter since entering the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, Gov. Charlie Crist polled at his lowest level in a poll against former House Speaker Marco Rubio. Crist, who announced last last week he had raised a third of what his upstart opponent Rubio has hauled, was down to 28 percent in a poll released Monday by Rasmussen Reports. The poll, a telephone survey of 500, likely Republican primary voters, found Rubio drawing 57 percent, his best showing in the automated poll. Last month, the firm found Rubio leading 56 percent to 34 percent. Perhaps further troubling to the beleaguered governor-turned-Senate candidate, the poll found 81 percent saw Rubio as “somewhat likely” to win the general election and 53 percent thought a Rubio win in November was “very likely”, compared to 63 percent and 30 percent for Crist.

Behind in the polls and in fundraising to former House Speaker Marco Rubio, Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination released a television ad highlighting the Miami Republican’s ties to ousted former Speaker Ray Sansom. The ad, titled “Two Politicians,” calls Sansom, who resigned in the face of an investigation into his dealings with a Panhandle college, points out that Rubio was subpoenaed in Sansom’s legal proceedings. Sansom, who the ad calls "Rubio’s 'hand-picked budget chief'," was accused of steering money to his alma mater and later accepted a job at the college. “Two career politicians, both known for preposterous deal-making,” a narrator says over ominous music. “The ultimate insiders, both steered millions of taxpayer money into two colleges, then received cushy jobs from the colleges.” “Marco Rubio, it’s not what we know, it’s what we don’t know yet,” the ad concludes. Rubio’s campaign called the ad “sad,” saying the commercial indicated Rubio’s momentum in the Senate race. “It’s sad that Charlie Crist’s political fortunes have fallen so far that he is willing to do and say anything to try to win this election,” Rubio’s Communications Director Alex Burgos said in a statement. "Only a candidate on his last gasp of desperation would run an ad so false and so over the top against a fellow Republican.”

The Florida Democratic Party announced Monday that it has raised about $2.77 million in the first fundraising quarter of 2010, far short of their Republican counterparts who posted a $7 million grab during the same period. Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman said the party received more than 2,500 donations to reach that total. "Fueled by the grassroots army we are building, the Florida Democratic Party's momentum to end business as usual in Tallahassee and clean up the Republican culture of corruption keeps growing," Thurman said.

Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Scott Maddox raised $132,000 in the first quarter, his campaign announced Monday, and while that easily bested all his Democratic rivals, he remains far behind his likely Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, who pulled in $280,000 in the first three months of the year. Maddox also remains far behind Putnam in cash on hand, with about $325,000 in the bank, compared to $1.2 million for Putnam.

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