An Interesting Year

florida Well, friends, it’s shaping up to be an interesting couple of years in Florida politics.  The statewide and legislative races in 2010 have been blown wide open, and then we’ll see a new Mayor and several members of the Jacksonville City Council elected in 2011.  And for those who love to watch the process, there’s never a better time.

Speculation began when Senator Mel Martinez announced he would not seek a second term as in the U.S. Senate.  Immediately, a ton of names began floating to the surface as to who might replace him.  Obviously, Republicans want to hold on the the seat.  Republicans are only one vote away from losing their ability to filibuster in the Senate, and if Al Franken holds on to win what may be the worlds longest recount, it may be moot.  I’m a little concerned about a Senator Al Franken.  I just keep hearing bad Saturday Night Like sketches being read into the the Congressional Record.

For the record, I’d have been concerned about a Senator Dennis Miller, too, when that little idea was floating around out there.   “Mr. President … I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but …”

But I digress.

crist With his announcement this week that he would seek Martinez’ seat in the U.S. Senate, Governor Charlie Crist became the instant front-runner in the race.  He’s popular, moderate, and charismatic.  State Representative Marco Rubio also plans to seek the seat, from a more conservative vantage.  Rubio is a former speaker of the Florida House, and is popular with the more conservative wing of the party.  He doesn’t have the name recognition and fundraising advantage as Crist,though, and likely faces an uphill battle with the Governor in the race.

But that opens up the Governor’s race, and one of the few name NOT being mentioned is Lt. Governer Jeff KottKamp.  Why?  Well all three cabinet officers have announced their intention to run for Governor:  Charles Bronson, Commissioner of Agricultural and Consumer Services, Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer and the lone Democrat in the Cabinet, and Bill McCullum, Florida Attorney General and former U.S. Representative.  So, Lt. Governor Kottkamp plans to run for Attorney General.

That leaves all five seats up for election statewide wide open.  No incumbent.  They will be long and hard fought campaigns, and the races are truly wide open.

Meanwhile, former Florida House Speaker John Thrasher announced today (Thursday) that he would jump into the 8th District Senate Race against Art Graham, Aaronsenate 8 Bean, and Dan Quiggle.  Graham is a current Jacksonville City Councilman, Bean was term limited out of the Florida House and Quiggle is a businessman who ran against Ander Crenshaw a few years ago for the U.S. House.  Jim King, the current Senator, is term limited.  But that race could quickly turn from 18 months to 3 months should King be selected for the position of University Chancellor.  He said during the session he intended to throw his hat into that ring, and now that the session is over, that discussion will start to rise to the surface.

Who ever is the next governor, he or she will have a difficult time next year.  Real estate HERE is picking up, but not state wide.  Retail sales are down as well, and property values are still so soft that tax receipts will likely not keep pace with expected spending.  As David Letterman might say, I wouldn’t wish those problems on A MONKEY ON A ROCK!

Florida politics is always interesting.  The next two years will be no exception.  City elections promise to be just as interesting in 2011.  The standard joke around political circles is “Raise your hand if you’re NOT running for Mayor”.  There will be several open City Council seats, including the At Large 2 seat won by John Crescembeni in a special election last year.  There will be plenty of issues to be discussed, policy statements to be parsed, candidates to interview, hopefully debates to be moderated.  I’ll miss being in the thick of it.

Unless I can find my way back.  It’s certainly a goal.  I wouldn’t count me out yet …

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