Kevin Derby's blog

On Wednesday, the American Conservative Union (ACU) revealed that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event held in Orlando in September will feature a straw poll for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012.

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is taking part in a fundraiser with U.S. Sen. Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., in Lake Tahoe later this month and Craig Miller is not happy about it.

Miller, the former Ruth's Chris CEO who is now running in the Republican primary to challenge Nelson, took off the gloves on Wednesday and ripped into Nelson.

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the defending champion of the Iowa Republican presidential caucus, will be heading back to the Hawkeye State on Saturday to take part in the straw poll in Ames.

The former presidential candidate will not be making a surprise reversal and jumping into the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Nor will he be making an endorsement.
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The team behind former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman promised they would have a major campaign announcement on Tuesday in South Florida. Jeb Bush Jr., the son of the former Florida governor, will endorse Huntsman’s bid for the Republican nomination and will serve as national chairman for the campaign’s youth outreach. Ana Navarro from Florida will be in charge of Huntsman’s Hispanic outreach.

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, one of the dark horses in the field of candidates battling for the Republican presidential nomination, has made no secret of the importance of his Catholic faith in shaping his political positions. Santorum has taken aim at JFK’s celebrated speech to Protestant ministers back in 1960 where the future president vowed to leave his faith out of the Oval Office.

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On Monday, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning unveiled the Florida Civil War Heritage Trail guidebook.

“The Florida Civil War Heritage Trail guidebook offers a factual account of the impact that the Civil War had on Florida’s communities and families,” said Browning. “Information presented in this publication provides a valuable educational resource that will enhance our knowledge and understanding of the Florida places, people and events that played a role in this historic struggle.”

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With all eyes on Iowa, with a debate between the Republican presidential candidates and the straw poll in Ames on Saturday, pundits are starting to make picks about who will prevail.

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Politico is reporting that Gov. Rick Perry of Texas will enter the Republican primary race, and will make the announcement during a speech in South Carolina on Saturday. Perry’s announcement steals some of the thunder from the Iowa straw poll in Ames which most of the other candidates have been focusing on in recent weeks. Some of the candidates, namely Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, are not focusing on the event in Ames, giving an opportunity to the other hopefuls.

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While most eyes in Washington were focused on the stalemate and finally the agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, another story was developing. After almost four years of wrangling, it appears that the U.S. Senate and Congress will be ready to pass pending free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. It looks like the measures will be passed when Congress returns to Washington in September.

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Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, who is now running in the Republican primary to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, unveiled a major endorsement on Monday from Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

"George is a solid conservative who served the people of Florida well in the U.S. Senate. I am happy to lend my support to his campaign,” said Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) who some Republicans were hoping would enter the 2012 presidential race.

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