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Political Bits and Pieces

August 14, 2014 - 6:00pm

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., the Republican Partys presidential candidate in 2012, will be heading to South Florida next week to hit the campaign trail for Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo. Romney and Curbelo will be in West Kendall on Monday, barely a week until the Republican primary on Aug. 26. Curbelo is a heavy favorite to win the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November. ...

In the closing days of the Democratic primary battle between former Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) called for the two candidates to hold a debate. The RPOF hit Crist for ducking a date with underdog Rich for 200 days and counting. ... Rich tried this week to woo Democrats to her side by stressing her support for gun control. Contrasting herself with Crist and Gov. Rick Scott, Rich noted both of her opponents had received A grades from the National Rifle Association (NRA). ...

Former DCF Secretary George Sheldon continues his bid to take on Attorney General Pam Bondi in November. This week, Sheldon hit Sarasota on Wednesday to rally Democrats. Despite facing House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, in the primary later in the month, Sheldon kept his fire on Bondi, scorching her for her opposition to same-sex marriage and jabbing her for moving around an execution for a fundraising event. Sheldon and Thurston appeared at a candidate forum in West Palm Beach on Thursday. ... Hearings continued this week in a Leon County court to see if Sheldon was eligible to serve as attorney general since he changed his primary residence over to Washington, D.C., during his time as an assistant attorney general in the Obama administration. Sheldon also had his Bar membership expire though he has argued that the Florida Bar told him he should follow procedures for nonresidents when he was in Washington. Henry Crespo, the president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, remains one of the plaintiffs chief supporters, looking to get Sheldon off the ballot. ... In the final days of the primary, Thurston has also been busy, trying to get his message out. This week, Thurston tried to shine some light on his various positions, including his support of medical marijuana and his backing of restoring voting rights to former inmates. ...

The gloves are off on the First Coast as Republicans Jay Fant and Paul Renner battle in one of the most competitive legislative parties in the state as they look to replace retiring Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, in representing Jacksonvilles Westside in Tallahassee. This week, Floridians for Economic Opportunity, which has ties to lobbyist Richard Coates, launched a new TV ad, hitting Fants record at First Guaranty Bank which the feds shut down in 2012. ... But Fant also reeled in a big endorsement this week. The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) announced on Friday that it was supporting Fant over Renner. ... Facing a primary challenge from retired Navy Captain Ryman Shoaf later this month, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., will be looking to make political hay in the western part of his district next week. Crenshaw will stump in Macclenny with state Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, next Saturday. ...

Gwen Graham insists she is a Washington outsider as she runs against U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., but she continues to get help from Beltway Democrats. On Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released a TV ad hitting Southerland for putting corporations over residents of the district. Grahams camp also sent out fundraising emails from her father, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. ... The Florida Medical Association (FMA) announced on Friday it was backing state Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Hialeah, for another term in the Florida House. Oliva is scheduled to take over as House speaker after the 2018 elections. ... This week, Rev. Mitch Hescox, the president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), turned in petitions to Scott signed by more than 60,000 people calling for him to focus on global warming. Hescox stopped by the governors office on Wednesday to drop off the petitions.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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