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Political Bits and Pieces

September 25, 2014 - 6:00pm

After being selected by Florida State Universitys (FSU) board of trustees to be its next president, FloridaSen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, resigned asGov. Rick Scottsre-election campaign chairman on Wednesday.

Besides his legislative experience in the Senate and in the House where he rose to be speaker, Thrasher has plenty of political experience, including leading the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF),President George W. Bushs efforts in Florida back in 2004 and helpingformer Gov. Mitt Romneys, R-Mass., campaigns in the Sunshine State in 2008 and 2012. ...With the Board of Governors not voting on Thrashers nomination until after Election Day, he remains on the ballot in Florida Senate District 8. ...

Thrasher is a heavy favorite to beat Democrat Kathleen Trued and Greg Feldman who is running with no party affiliation. ... In the very likely event that a special election will be held to fill Thrashers Senate seat, two of the names receiving the most buzz are Rep. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, and Rep. Doc Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach. While the two House members could soon be exchanging political attacks in the primary, this week they teamed up to help the United Way of St. Johns County which held its kickoff event in St. Augustine on Wednesday. Renuart spoke at the event and both he and Hutson will be vice chairmen of the United Ways campaign efforts in St. Johns County. ...

Scott was endorsed for re-election by the Latin Builders Association (LBA) on Friday. Praising Scott for his work on jobs and the economy, the LBA made the announcement at its 2014 Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Miami Downtown. ... The Democratic National Committee (DNC) looked to rally Hispanic voters this week, launching a new Spanish language radio ad in Florida and other states on Thursday. The ad hits Republicans on education, the minimum wage and Medicare, and urges Hispanics to hit the polls in November. ... State CFO Jeff Atwater has an easy assignment this year with Democrats running William Rankin against him. Despite his weak opposition, Atwater continues to build his organization for a future run for higher office. This week, Atwater reached 20,000 followers on Facebook as he looks toward the future. ...

Members of the Florida congressional delegation wrote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry this week, looking to ensure the U.S. does all it can to ensure Venezuela does not join the U.N. Security Council for the 2015-2016 session. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., led efforts to send Kerry a letter and fellow Florida Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Ron DeSantis, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ted Yoho as well as Florida Democrats Ted Deutch, Joe Garcia, Patrick Murphy and Debbie Wasserman Schultz signed it. ... Speaking of Ros-Lehtinen, she will be serving as the grand marshal for the Lupus Foundation of Americas Florida Chapters (LFAFL) Walk to End Lupus Now in Miami on Saturday. The longtime Florida congresswoman does not face any opposition in November. ... While he has been in the U.S. Senate for less than four years, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is now the ranking Republican on the Senate East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee. Rubio used that post to pen an op-ed published at on Thursday in which the senator ripped Chinas One Child policy which was launched in 1980. ... This week, Rubio went to bat for former congressional aide Barbara Comstock, the Republican candidate looking to keep U.S. Rep. Frank Wolfs, R-Va., seat in the GOP fold in November. Rubio held a fundraiser for Comstock, drawing fire from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) which blasted the Republicans on abortion and other issues. ...

Engaged in what is increasingly shaping up as the most competitive congressional election in the state, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerlands, R-Fla., team came out swinging at Democrat Gwen Graham this week. Southerlands campaign hit an ad Graham is running accusing the congressman of supporting the federal shutdown back in 2013. Pointing to votes their boss made to keep the government open, the Southerland camp accused Graham of smear tactics and tried to link her to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. ... This week, Grahams team has been attacking Southerland on other fronts, painting him as a puppet of the Koch brothers and accusing him of putting the interests of tea party extremists over the needs of the district. ... Southerland will be getting the help of some big-name Republicans on Saturday during a Women for Southerland rally at Panama Beach. Two Republican congresswomen --Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Martha Roby-- will be rallying voters there. So will outgoing Florida House Speaker Pro Tempore Marti Coley, R-Marianna, and Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst. Also speaking on Southerlands behalf is Janet Huckabee, the wife of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., who moved to the Panhandle after his 2008 presidential bid.

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

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