Frank Torres, Orlando Freelance Reporter

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Matt Falconer is back and he wants to take on Precourt in New FL House D44

In Uncategorized on February 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm

In 2010 the Orange County Mayor’s race featured 4 very different personalities. The honest and calculating, eventual winner Teresa Jacobs. The savvy and calm Commissioner Bill Segal and, the sincerity and friendliness of Commissioner Linda Stewart.

Then there was businessman Matt Falconer and here’s one of his verbal gems.

“The reason Pine Hills isn’t getting any money is because my opponents have spent all of it, in the Emerald city (Orlando) on (performing) art centers”

He brought an “Economics for Dummies” book to a televised debate. He attacked on blogs, radio, social media, and television. His battle against Sunrail made him the Tea Party favorite for that race.

When he was defeated there was no doubt he would be back. He continued to attack Mayor Jacobs’ policy and stayed active on the Tea Party scene. Oh, he was going to run again it was only a matter of time and opportunity.

Today, he announced that he was going to run for Florida House. In the new District 44.

That’s Rep Stephen Precourt’s expected seat. Fellow State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle also lives in the district. Here is an excerpt of the release from the Orlando Sentinel story.

Matthew Falconer’s rock solid conservative resume and strong support of conservative and tea party groups will pose a serious challenge to the incumbent, Representative Steve Precourt, so much so that Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford called Matthew Falconer yesterday to inform him the Speaker is backing Precourt.

This race will be a classic case of a citizen candidate against the establishment and determine if the conservative groups, including the tea party, have enough grass roots strength to defeat the well-financed establishment candidates.

“While I do not consider myself the frontrunner by no means am I a long shot. We the people have always outnumbered the group called the establishment, we just never had the tea party to level the playing field.”

“It is time to restore faith in government and I hope to lead that effort in the Florida House.”

Much like he did in the Orange County Mayor Race, Falconer is shaking things up. The reception has been hostile. No, the reception has been brutally hostile.

Precourt has the support of his colleagues in Tallahassee

In addition to Will Weatherford supporting Precourt, House Speaker Dean Cannon removed Falconer from the Government Efficiency Task Force. A post Falconer was proud to serve on.

Falconer-Letter-02-24-12-SIGNED1

Stone cold and straight-forward. Classic Dean Cannon.

Then there was this letter from Ormond Beach State Rep Fred Costello. Who’s running against Craig Miller for Congressional District 6.

Hi Matt!
I just read Sayfie Review.
Congrats on your continuing interest to enter the arena to save taxpayers’ money!
As you may recall, I contributed to your mayoral campaign because (even though we don’t always agree on every issue) I like your focus on saving taxpayers’ money!
However … I am a huge fan of Representative/Chairman Steve Precourt!
I have been honored to serve with him on the Finance & Tax Committee which he chairs.
So I know his values.
He is conservative!
He has earned my ongoing support!

So why am I bothering to email you?
I have NO idea who else is in your new House District (or if the Supreme Court will require us to change the lines) now or in the future … but as I understand it, Chair Precourt only has two more years before he is termed out.
I am quite confident Chairman Precourt will do well in the upcoming election as he has an excellent conservative record and has also earned the respect of folks who are in positions to help him raise significant campaign funds.
He will be a most formidable opponent!
Therefore, I respectfully suggest you consider talking with Chairman Precourt (I’ll be happy to set it up if that would be helpful) and IF he is not aware of anybody else he is already supporting for 2014, you could announce that you will seek the seat in 2014 and agree with him to record your votes on 2012-2014 bills so he can see how you would have voted and therefore hopefully you will be able to earn his support when the 2014 race begins. (Notice I did NOT encourage you to make a “deal” … I don’t like endorsement “deals.”)

Please realize I am not saying you are not/will not be a great candidate.
I’m just saying there is a fabulous candidate who has earned my/our support.
And btw, I’m confident you don’t want another “loss” on your record.
Fred Costello

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So, much like he did in the Orange County Mayor race. Matt Falconer is making noise and this was just the announcement.

Can he win? He’s got a puncher’s chance

Falconer can hustle with the best of them and his team was canvassing every weekend in 2010. Precourt ran a good ground game as well, and will certainly have the fundraising advantage.

The conservative culture between the two camps could not be further apart. Falconer’s loyal Tea Party following vs. Precourt’s traditional conservative crowd

It’s going to be fascinating to watch.

Matt Falconer's announcement was a bold statement against Florida House Republicans

Mayor Buddy Dyer delivers State of City address

In Uncategorized on February 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm

At the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered his State of the City address.

Facing re-election this year, Dyer thanked UCF President John Hitt and others and quickly launched into a list of the city’s achievements over the last year.

Dyer started with the flourishing medical city. Describing how the College of Medicine, Nemours, R&D facilities and the recently delayed VA Hospital (sincerely wish more lawmakers would look into that) would deliver 250 thousand jobs and an 8 Billion dollar positive impact in the region.

The Mayor also touted the success of All-Star weekend. The positive impact on the local economy and the demonstrated strength of the Amway Center (which recently reached it’s first anniversary) He pushed for a refurbished Citrus Bowl, which has become a hot topic as local leaders look at the next possibility for staying competitive with other cities for events.

There was also Sunrail where, the Mayor announced he would expand the free Lynx Lymo to other communities to accommodate the commuter rail system which, is expected to arrive in 2014 and, the Creative Village which Dyer expected to create another 5 thousand jobs.

To his critics (and possibly opponents) Dyer pushed back at accusations of supporting corporate welfare. “You are mistaken. This is not a handout. This is a hand-up” and that companies would not be able to receive incentives without providing proof they had created jobs.

The Mayor went on to address the decrease of crime. He praised the achievements of the Orlando Police Department and announced a new division, that would specialize in the prevention and investigation of burglaries in the city.

The preceding points were all leading up to the centerpiece of his address, that they’re would not be any tax increases this year and that Orlando residents pay the lowest tax rate of any major city.

He closed by saying “There was no doubt that the next decade would belong to Orlando”.

Orlando Mayor Race shows “signs” of ramping up.

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2012 at 1:20 am

Literally, there are yard signs all along the streets in Delaney Park (see what I did there).

You have the winter-green, mouth wash themed, yard signs of our incumbent Mayor Dyer.

City Commissioner Phil Diamond’s well, diamond-shaped signs are currently outnumbering Dyer’s but, it’s early and both campaigns are rallying the troops for a big grassroots push in the coming weeks.

We also can’t forget long-time Dyer foe Ken Mulvaney and Activist Mike Cantone.

Buddy Dyer has been able to raise huge amounts of cash and even has a superpac called Moving Orlando Forward. A superpac for a municipal race? Yes, and he can put that money wherever he likes. He can even park it if he decides to run for Governor in 2014. And his donations are not confined to one political party. The Mayor has secured donations from both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans, unions and private companies, local and out of area donors.

He’s also got all of the benefits of being an incumbent. City events double as campaign functions, he can point to All-Star weekend, Sunrail, and DPAC as highlights of his term (even if OC Mayor Teresa Jacobs had to put him in check over the finances). He’s even down to fighting weight, losing what seems like 40lbs doing yoga and other activities.

There is the homeless problem, and brightly colored parking meters to collect donations aren’t the answer. Still, he’s looking pretty strong.

Dyer is a powerful incumbent with a wealth of resources.

City Commissioner Phil Diamond has been in an awkward position since he started running months ago. Running as the fiscally responsible alternative to Buddy Dyer, Diamond has had to distance himself from events celebrating projects where financial risk is involved. He’s done well fundraising and is running a decent grassroots campaign so far.

There is a good chance you've seen one of these. Diamond is winning the ground war early.

What Mike Cantone hasn’t deposited in the campaign account, he’s almost made up for with media coverage. Running as far left as you can without falling over, he’s set up joke websites, called out other city commissioners, and last year he even dressed up as a zombie to protest congressional policy.

Activist Mike Cantone has been a thorn in Mayor Dyer's side.

Ken Mulvaney goes way back with Buddy Dyer. The lone Republican in the race lost to Dyer in 04′ and 08′. He’s a late entry but with his campaign experience, has gotten his operation up and running in a hurry. It’s a non-partisan race but, if you vote the party line, he’s your guy.

Is this the year Mulvaney beats Dyer?

This is going to be a great race, I advised another candidate some time back. That campaign has since ended.

Orlando is a terrific city to campaign in. It’s a diverse community, and a politically savvy one. Economic development and responsible growth will be big issues along with others like public safety and services. The Orlando Sentinel will be holding a debate March 7th at UCF’s Metro Center. If you’re an Orlando voter, you should try to be there.

Lemieux Doubles Down on Mack Attack, Concerned with Character

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm

On a Friday afternoon phone call with Florida Bloggers, Former Senator George Lemieux reiterated his concerns with GOP rival Connie Mack IV past.

“I believe that we’re operating under a case of mistaken identity that the fourth is the first” referring to Mack’s famous family name.

Lemieux also brought up Mack’s past concerning earmarks, an issue hot off of the national debate stage, where Rick Santorum woke up the “boo birds” Wednesday, defending legislation that included earmarks. He also cited a history of violence with Mack’s past, bringing up incidents involving the Congressman.

“I firmly believe that if he were to win the nomination he would have a very difficult time winning the election. With this 20 year rap sheet Connie Mack couldn’t get a job as a police officer, a teacher, as a bank officer. So, why in the world should we elect him to the United States Senate” Lemieux said on Friday.

When asked if this would come down to Mack’s past vs. Lemieux’s past relationship with former Governor, and Republican turned Independent Charlie Crist, Lemieux said it was about “putting the best players on the field” through a critical vetting process. He also reminded those on the call, that he endorsed current Senator and GOP rising star Marco Rubio, the day after Crist left the party and Mack didn’t do so until several weeks later.

I asked if there were any plans for a formal debate, where both candidates would be on stage at the same time, and so far nothing has been set. Lemieux went on to say he welcomed the opportunity and would discuss these issues “any time and any place”

The one takeaway from the race this week, has been Mack’s silence. I would like to see more aggression from his campaign. He’s been raising dollars and stumping for Mitt Romney but, one sided conversations like these aren’t working now, and they won’t work against Bill Nelson in a general election.

Lemieux launched an aggressive campaign attacking Mack's character this week

Is Connie Mack the Charlie Sheen of Politics?

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2012 at 1:43 am

The George Lemieux camp threw a haymaker in the Florida Senate race.

Lemieux released this potent graphic today.

This was all in response to recent allegations regarding Mack’s past. Divorces, earmarks, bar fights. This graphic has gone through the cycle and it rates..

The mainstream media pushing this story makes this potent

Mack has had a lot of momentum before these issues came up. We’ll see how he responds

UPDATE: The Lemieux campaign released this webvideo.

Who Won the CNN Arizona GOP Debate 2/22/12

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2012 at 1:06 am

Instant Analysis:

Winners:

Mitt Romney: He intercepted all of Rick Santorum’s attacks and pushed them back into his face. His strategy was to paint him as a Washington insider and it worked. He Santorum stick up for earmarks and once again demonstrated that when he asserts himself during these debates that he’s Presidential material.


Didn’t win or lose:

Newt Gingrich: There were flashes of brilliance. Is he going to pull off another South Carolina upset in Michigan or Arizona? Probably not. Newt did misspeak once. Marco Rubio was specifically talking about Gingrich when addressing illogical immigration rhetoric.

Ron Paul:The Revolution must have stuffed the venue with a lot of supporters. He looked good tonight. But, he hasn’t won any states. He’s almost a better general election candidate than a GOP primary hopeful. He should have been in the winner column tonight except….
he faltered on Israel and Iran…again

There also isn’t six dollar gas in Florida… yet


Losers:

Rick Santorum: You can’t defend earmarks in front of a tea party crowd. Booooooooo! The politically savvy know how the system works and how common it is but, you still can’t allow it in a Republican primary.

It was a solid effort by all involved. Worthy of ending a debate drought and moving into important primaries.

More analysis tomorrow!

Alex Sink vs. Rick Scott II?

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

It could happen according to this report from the Tampa Bay Times. Former CFO and Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink could run again in 2014.

Yes, Alex Sink who lost to now Governor Rick Scott. Scott who, jumped on the scene in 2010, shoved Bill McCullom out of the way in the primary, and won the general election by a text message.

When I say text message, I’m referring of course to textgate in which Sink used a cell phone to receive some advice from campaign personnel during her CNN debate. Scott called her out on that during commercial and the story broke nationwide that she violated the rules. Here take a look.

Anyways, her narrow defeat from Scott caused her to be called the “Worst candidate of 2010” from the guys at MSNBC. She later went off on the President’s policies and Washington in general for the low Democrat turnout, that resulted in the “Red November” of 2010.

She’s thinking about jumping back in. There are pros and cons to consider. Let’s take a look.

Pros:

Rick Scott’s low approval rating: Scott’s numbers are forever in the low 40’s/upper 30’s range. While he’s distanced himself from election year conservative rhetoric and the legislature’s agenda, he’s still going to have a tough time getting reelected if this trend continues.

Name ID: Yeah, that’s an easy one. Swing voters unhappy with Scott’s policies won’t think twice about voting for her this time around.

Cons:

An inevitable tough primary: She’ll have one this time. There’s no way around that. Dan Gelber, Nan Rich,……Charlie Crist(!?) Plus any others. Sink might not fare so well in a primary after taking time off. All of the other Democratic hopefuls have demonstrated much more poise than she has. Speaking of other hopefuls..

What does Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer think of all this speculation?

Hesitation from the party: She’s well liked, don’t get me wrong but, are they willing to stand with her again? Especially at the risk of giving Rick Scott another term?

Age: She’ll be 67 in 2014 (plus 4, carry the 1, think), 71 when her first term ends. She looks fine but, how many more legislative fights does she have left?

Yes, if Alex Sink’s intention was to get back into the political conversation with this interview, it worked. But, there is still plenty of time and it’s a long way till November 2014.

Alex Sink is considering a rematch with Governor Rick Scott

Catching up: Mica vs. Adams, Races to watch, Personal updates

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Hey guys, I hope all of you are doing well and moving into February with all of your New Years resolutions in tact.

Here are just a few quick hits, to keep the cobwebs off of the blog!

John Mica vs. Sandy Adams:

Incumbents all over the country are dealing with redistricting the best they can. Some are retiring, most are running in different districts, and the kicker that Republicans and Democrats are both having to cope with….

The incumbents that aren’t going to change a doggone thing and are going to run, where ever they feel like it.

This brings us back to Central Florida where longtime incumbent John Mica is posturing for a run against popular freshman Rep. Sandy Adams.

It’s a lose/lose, divisive primary, that has pits establishment Republicans vs. the Tea Party. As if the Newt-Romney storm that passed through last month wasn’t enough. High-ranking Mica is the Chairman of the Transportation committee in Washington, Adams is a Congresswoman that’s never missed a vote and hasn’t blinked when siding with her constituents.

Okay guys, this is what needs to happen. Someone has to move from District 7 to District 6.
The only candidate running in D6 is Craig Miller, who dropped out of the Senate race last week after failing to get traction, and he’s already lost to Adams in the 2010′ D24 primary.

Democrats would love a long, expensive, primary between two, sure-fire Republican votes in the house. Especially, in this climate where they could find any scrub to be competitive with the President on the ballot in November.

Races to watch:

– While we’re talking about the redistricting shuffle. The three way trade between Alan West, Tom Rooney, and Adam Hasner should be a model for the Adams/Mica standoff. I thought Hasner was doing well in the Senate race, until the “Connie Mack” name showed up, he could be terrific in the house. The Allen West/Patrick Murphy race “feels personal” with Murphy vowing to follow West and run against him anywhere. It appears that Murphy is in this to beat Allen West instead of getting to Washington. It’s got DWS-DNC fingerprints all over it.

State Senate D19 will have a Democratic primary to behold. With Rogue Gallart, Linda Stewart, State Rep Geraldine Thompson and Victoria Siplin all going for Gary “Droopy Drawers” Siplin’s seat. Victoria is the wife of current Senator Siplin.

Orange County District 3 is going to be a fantastic race with some great candidates. It’s set against the backdrop of district that is expected to be vocal about what they want out of the next commissioner. The current candidates include Eric Lasso, Lydia Pisano, Pete Clark, and former appointed commissioner Lui Damiani.

Some personal stuff:

– Things are good at CF News 13. Make sure to watch Political Connections, Sunday at 130 and 730 on Brighthouse networks.

Political Connections Sunday at 130 and 730

– Last week, I had the chance to attend an immigration panel discussion moderated by the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell. It was informative and at times intense. These events are gold, I can’t wait until the Orlando Mayor debate March 7th at UCF’s Metro Center. It could be the only chance the candidates get, to go head to head with Mayor Buddy Dyer. And with the personalities and followers involved, it could get “very real, very quickly”.

– My predictions that the Patriots would win the Superbowl came up short. I guess that’s why I talk politics and not football.

– I had the chance to join Crash, LT, Sloar, and Supa Dave for the WJRR Super Bowl-a-thon at Boardwalk Bowl last Saturday. It was an awesome time for a great cause!

WJRR Superbowl-a-thon. A great time and a great cause!

Till next time!

Sun Sentinel Article:Hispanos claves para la victoria de Romney

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Hi guys! I hope this post finds you well!

Had a talk with Carolina Salazar from El Sentinel who was working with the Sun-Sentinel on an article about the Romney win in Florida and the Hispanic Vote. A special thanks to her and the good people over there!

———————————————————

Buscan al que pueda vencer a

A pesar de su retórica anti inmigrante y de haber llegado en desventaja tras su derrota en Carolina del Sur, el pre candidato republicano Mitt Romney se impuso entre los votantes de Florida — con la ayuda de los hispanos.

De acuerdo con las primeras cifras electorales, los votantes hispanos —que representan el 22.5 por ciento del electorado de Florida —apoyaron en un 53 por ciento a Romney frente al 30 por ciento que favoreció a Newt Gingrich.

“Los resultados no sorprenden”, dijo Darío Moreno, profesor de ciencias Política de la Universidad Internacional de Florida. “El electorado hispano se ha vuelto más diverso y le importa otros asuntos más allá de Cuba”.

Por su parte, Frank Torres, analista político de la Universidad Florida Central en Orlando, donde hay una gran concentración de puertorriqueños, opina que Romney ganó porque aparenta ser más moderado.

“Los puertorriqueños ven a Romney más hacia el centro y más digno de confianza y también respondió a preguntas el estatus de Puerto Rico, lo cual le interesa al corredor de la I-4”.

Los puertorriqueños, que ahora son el segundo grupo más grande de hispanos en Florida, son vistos como el “swing vote”, electores que pueden cruzar líneas partidistas a la hora de sufragar.

Tanto los puertorriqueños como los cubanos no tienen problemas de inmigración (los primeros son ciudadanos por nacimiento y los segundos están favorecidos por la ley) y por lo tanto el tema no es importante para ellos. Les interesa más la situación económica, la creación de empleos y, en el caso de los republicanos, el candidato que pueda derrotar al presidente.

“No hay duda de que los hispanos votaron por el que puede ganarle a Barack Obama”, dijo Alex Penelas, ex alcalde del condado de Miami-Dade, quien opina que los cubanoamericanos también votaron pensando en la economía.

Para hispanos de otras nacionalidades, Romney también es favorecido.

“Es el mejor preparado para levantar la economía, impulsar los negocios y por eso que los hispanos votamos por él”, dijo Fabio Andrade, colombiano y presidente de Americas Community Center de Weston.

Los expertos señalaron que Romney también se benefició del respaldo de algunos líderes del estado, como los representantes Ileana Ros-Lehtinen y Mario Díaz-Balart, así como el hermano del segundo, el ex representante Lincoln Díaz-Balart.

“Los hispanos no somos una comunidad de un sólo tema” expresó Ros-Lehtinen. “También nos importa la economía, la falta de empleos, el alto costo de la vida, el desplome del mercado de viviendas y la necesidad de tener un presidente que verdaderamente crea en menos impuestos, menos regulaciones gubernamentales y mejores iniciativas para las pequeñas empresas”.

En las primarias del pasado martes, los electores se volcaron hacia el candidato que parecía contar con mayores recursos económicos para financiar la marejada mediática. Romney gastó más de $14 millones frente a los $3 millones de Gingrich.

Pese a su derrota, Gingrich, quien cuenta con el apoyo de la rama más conservadora del partido, ha prometido seguir adelante con su candidatura.

La contienda continuará el sábado en Nevada y durante la semana próxima en Colorado, Minnesota y Maine. Tras un descanso de dos semanas la contienda sigue en Michigan y Arizona. El 6 de marzo habrá un “súper martes”, que será menos “súper” que otros años, ya que sólo coincidirán las primarias y caucus de 10 estados, entre ellos, Massachusetts, Ohio y Virginia.

“El Partido Republicano ya sabe que el voto latino es muy importante, y no va a repetir los errores que cometió en 2008. Aprendieron la lección. Van a poner más dinero y van a hacer un mayor esfuerzo para llegar a la comunidad”, dijo Jennifer Korn, directora ejecutiva de la organización de activistas Hispanic Leadership Network.

Según el Departamento estatal de elecciones, un total de 1,669,653 republicanos votaron en las primarias del martes y de ellos 775,000 lo hicieron por el ex gobernador de Massachusetts.

La convención republicana será en agosto en Tampa.

Carolina Salazar colaboró con esta historia que también se completó con información de agencias de noticias.