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Political Bits and Pieces

December 9, 2010 - 6:00pm

Incoming Gov. Rick Scott continues to meet with as many legislative members as possible before he takes office in January.

He met with almost a dozen members of the Legislature, including Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, in Orlando on Friday. Scott stayed in Orlando on Saturday to meet five more House members and Senate Majority Whip David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs Speaking of Dockery, keep an eye out on the race to replace her when she faces term limits in 2012. Two strong Republican candidates -- former Polk County Commissioner Jack Myers and Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland --are looking at moving up to the Senate With Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, facing term limits, two strong candidates on the Democratic side look ready to run for his seat: former Rep. Audrey Gibson and former Rep. Terry Fields. These two Democrats are very established, as both of them served four terms in the House and Fields also had a stint on the Jacksonville City Council. This is shaping up into a primary race to watch in 2012 ...

Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan scored a big assignment on Thursday. He was named to the Ways and Means Committee, one of the most powerful committees in Congress. Unless something very unexpected happens, Buchanan will be the only member of the Florida delegation on Ways and Means South Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart also walked away with a plum assignment. The congressman, who switched from the 25th district to run in the 21st, a seat which had been held by his brother outgoing U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, was named to the Appropriations Committee Steve Schonberg ran with no party affiliation against Republican U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns in November and took 29 percent of the vote against the veteran incumbent. Based on that showing, it appears that Schonberg, a backer of campaign finance reform, plans to run again in 2012 ...

Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who is considering running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, sent out a letter to all members of Congress late Thursday, demanding once again that Venezuela be recognized by the federal government as a state sponsor of terrorism. Mack pointed to an article from a German paper claiming that Iran was building medium-range missiles in Venezuela with the blessing of Hugo Chavez Speaking of Nelson, the crowded field of potential Republicans mulling over running against him should be happy over a new article in U.S. News & World Report that listed the Florida senator as the fifth most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in 2012. Possible challengers include Buchanan, Mack, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, outgoing U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, incoming U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner and former gubernatorial candidate Mike McCalister If Mack runs for the Senate, one Republican who may run for the congressional seat he will vacate is outgoing Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. While Kottkamp lost the Republican attorney general primary back in August, he remains popular in the Fort Myers area and he backed GOP candidate Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race instead of his boss, Gov. Charlie Crist, who ran with no party affiliation

Outgoing state CFO Alex Sink, the Democrat who lost to Scott, announced on Friday that she was backing Rep. Oscar Branyon, D-Miami Gardens, in the crowded race to replace Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, who was elected to Congress last month. Other Democratic candidates looking at the seat -- which will become vacant when Wilson resigns on December 31 -- include former Reps. Philip Brutus, James Bush, Darryl Reaves and Yolly Roberson. Wilson routed Brutus, Bush and Roberson for the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat. Nadia Pierre, an assistant to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, is also looking to run on the Democratic side. The only Republican to emerge so far is frequent candidate Joshua Larose Speaking of Branyon, three Democratic candidates -- educator Erhabor Ighodaro and two councilwomen from Miami Gardens Sharon Pritchett and Barbara Watson -- have already filed to run for the seat he currently holds in the House No rest for the weary. After a week of meetings in Tallahassee, Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, headed off to meetings of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) that ran from Wednesday to Saturday. The next NCSL event will be held in Washington in January on a topic that the Legislature will be grappling with in the coming months: redistricting.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (85) 727-0859.

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