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Political Bits and Pieces

February 6, 2014 - 6:00pm

Former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich continues to try to outflank former Gov. Charlie Crist to the left as she aims for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Besides getting the backing of former Gov. Buddy MacKay this week, Rich showcased her support of raising the minimum wage. Rich campaigned at the University of Tampa on Tuesday as she tries to catch Crist in the primary. ... Former Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary George Sheldon had a busy week as he continues his bid for the Democratic nomination to challenge Attorney General Pam Bondi. After hitting Bondi at a media event in Tallahassee at the end of January, accusing her of accepting $25,000 fromDonald Trumps foundation while considering investigating one of his enterprises, Sheldon called on Tuesday for Bondi to return the money. Bondi lashed back at Sheldon last week, arguing he had his facts wrong and questioning his integrity. ... Sheldon was on the road this week, campaigning across the state. Former Attorney General Bob Butterworth hosted a fundraiser for Sheldon this week at his home in Fort Lauderdale. Sheldon is an old ally of Butterworth, serving as his deputy during his time as attorney general and DCF secretary. ...

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., is facing a tough Democratic challenger in Gwen Graham but he has brought in a real pro to head his campaign effort. Luke Strickland moved over from the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), where he was a regional director, to head up Southerlands team this week. Strickland also worked for Mitt Romney in 2012 in Florida. ... U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., announced this week he would co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Jeff Millers, R-Fla., bill to stop cost-of-living adjustment cuts for military retirees which were incorporated in the federal budget crafted by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. ... U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., is ramping up his constituent services in the days to come. Ross will host a townhall in Plant City on Tuesday, Feb. 18, and a Service Academy Day on Saturday, March 1, in Lakeland. ...

Rep. David Santiago, R-Deltona, has a new challenger. Democrat Roberto Luis Garcia-Nazario from DeBary filed to run against Santiago this week. ... Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, has drawn a primary opponent. Arnitt Grice-Walker filed to run in the Democratic primary on Wednesday. ... Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, has a new opponent. Democrat Jorge David Lugo filed to run against Mayfield this week. Mayfield also faces a Republican primary challenger in Joshua Fields though he has not had much luck raising campaign funds since he filed to run back in September. ...

Larry Sabato included three Republicans from Florida in his ranking of the 2016 presidential field which he released on Thursday. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., topped the second tier of Republican hopefuls while former Gov. Jeb Bush led the third tier of wild cards. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who moved to the Panhandle after his 2008 presidential bid, is also listed in the wild cards. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the only Democrat listed in Sabatos first tier. ... Three members of the Florida delegation -- U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla. -- have already endorsed Clinton for 2016. Hastings talked to the Palm Beach Post on Friday and said he continued to support Clinton though he said that Bush would make a formidable opponent. ... While most of the attention concerning presidential candidates from Florida focuses on the Republicans, there is a Sunshine State Democrat gunning for his partys nomination. Tampa Bay attorney Michael Steinberg is running for the nomination in 2016.

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