Tag Archives: Florida

The Sports Animal replaces Progressive Talk

Last Friday afternoon, WINZ 940 dropped its Progressive Talk lineup in favor of Fox Sports.  They’ll be going by the name The Sports Animal 940 and will be broadcasting Fox Sports programming, the Florida Gators and the Miami Heat.

By switching its format to sports, 940 joins an oversaturated sports programming market.  Ratings leaders WQAM (560), The Ticket (WAXY – 790) are joined by WFTL sister stations 640 and 1400 providing sports outlets for a very weak sports talk market. 

As a Progressive Talk station, WINZ beat each of the 4 sports stations as they finished second in the battle of English AM stations.  Only conservative talk WIOD finished ahead of WINZ in the ratings.  Both stations are owned by Clear Channel.

940-format-change

I found this statement on the Rhodes Scholar board where my previous post on this subject was linked.   The original link can be found here.

This statement contains numerous inaccuracies which I must point out.

“The audience for the format is very loyal but also very small compared to WIOD, WQAM/WAXY and the FM’s.”

First of all, AM radio is not as popular as FM in any market that I am aware of.  There are only a couple of AM stations that do remarkably well and the rest post mediocre numbers.  WIOD is the number one English station in the market so I could say that about every other English speaking station.  The way that WINZ management can make the WQAM/WAXY comment true is if they combined the numbers from both stations.  WINZ as a progressive station beat both WQAM and WAXY individually.  And remember that WQAM broadcasts The Neil Rogers Show from 10-2 which consistently ranks atop the ratings.

They proceed to discuss the sales numbers which I can not dispute since I do not have access to their data but what I can point out is the logic behind this.  It is important for me to once again state that in the last ratings book WINZ finished above WQAM, WAXY (The Ticket), WFTL 640 and 1400. 

640 previously broadcasted Fox Sports to dismal ratings.  Fox Sports switched this past Friday to WINZ.  Why would we expect the ratings to improve drastically especially since most listeners are happy with the local programming on WQAM and WAXY? 

Therefore, if the ratings on WINZ plummet as logic would indicate, how could the WINZ management expect the sales numbers to improve if so few people would be listening?

 

“So the economy, Randi Rhodes (a huge part of WINZ) losing her syndication and the size of the listening audience forced this company to make this decision.”

The Economy:  Did the economy just get bad?  Did I miss something for the last 8 years? 

Randi Rhodes:  Randi’s last show was February 3, 2009

 

In doing research, I discovered this link that referenced a format switch on February 2, 2009. Black Monday continued: WINZ flipping to sports?  

This decision was not made on the fly.  This must have been in the works.

I found this blurb on the Miami Herald website dated January 29, 2009.  Randi Rhodes was still on the air.

AROUND THE DIAL

• Though the station isn’t confirming it, WINZ-940 will become a Fox Sports radio affiliate in March — a move that will allow owner Clear Channel to reduce costs. WINZ now airs news, talk shows and live sports, including Heat games. The new lineup will include Fox shows such as Steve Czaban (6-9 a.m.) and Chris Myers (3-7 p.m.), Dan Patrick‘s syndicated program from 9 a.m. to noon and Jim Rome from noon to 3 p.m.

WFTL-640 is carrying Fox Radio programming, but Steve Lapa (who runs WFTL) was informed recently that Fox struck a deal with another local station. Lapa said WFTL-640 will keep a sports format, but he hasn’t settled on the programming beyond Jeff DeForrest‘s morning show, which will add an hour and run from 6 to 10 a.m.

WFTL-1400 will remain an ESPN Radio affiliate. WINZ’s format switch means the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market will have five all-sports stations, including WQAM and 790 The Ticket.

 

 Size of the audience:  Remember that they were the #2 English AM in the market.  If that is the case, shouldn’t every station dump their format or go off the air?

*  *  *  *  *  *

The fact is Clear Channel owns WINZ along with 7 other South Florida stations.  They can do whatever they want.  Complaining to WINZ management will do no good.  This was not a rash decision and was clearly planned for months. 

So what do we do about it?

My recommendation is that we all contact WFTL 850 and ask them to consider dropping their weak conservative talk format (their ratings barely register) and pick up Progressive Talk broadcasting as many shows live as possible. 

Local programming at 6-9, Stephanie Miller from 9-noon, Thom Hartmann from noon-3, Randi Rhodes from 3-6 (more on her in a moment) and Mike Malloy from 9-midnight. 

I’m sorry to say that I am not a huge Lionel fan and nor do I enjoy the program from 6-9 on Sirius.

Randi Rhodes started on Nova M on April 10, 2008.  I have to assume that she is under a 1 year contract which means that we should be hearing more from her any day now. 

A shake-up at 850 is necessary and their conservative programming is loaded with WIOD rejects. 

Regardless, any station would be wise to consider the Progressive Talk line-up.  WINZ had good ratings and every listener would most certainly move to the new station. 

If you have suggestions on how we can bring Progressive Talk back to South Florida – please let me know.

If I hear anything – rumors or facts – I will post on this site and link to it from this post.

 

Click here to read original post and associated comments.  Progressive Radio to Leave South Florida?

My2Buck$

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Progressive radio to leave South Florida?

It’s just what we need – another all-sports radio station. The 2 kings of South Florida sports talk are WQAM (560) and 790 The Ticket will be seeing a 5th sports station join the market any day now.

You read correctly. When WINZ – 940 AM converts from Progressive talk radio to all-sports (picking up their Fox Sports programming), the Miami – Ft. Lauderdale radio market will have 5 sports talk radio stations and 0 Progressive talk.

It doesn’t take rocket science to understand the reasoning behind these decisions and we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let’s look local sports radio competition:

WQAM – 560 is the original sports talk station in South Florida. They are the flagship station for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and college’s University of Miami. And on Monday – Friday, they take a 4 hour break from sports at 10am – 2pm to broadcast the top program in the market – The Neil Rogers Show. Mostly local sports programming.

WAXY – 790 The Ticket came on the scene in 2004 and does carry mostly local programming and is the flagship station for both the Florida Marlins (Major League Baseball) and the Florida Panthers (National Hockey League).

WFTL 640 had broadcasted a couple of local shows mixed in with Fox Sports until Clear Channel claimed the Fox Sports shows for WINZ. It will be interesting to see how 640 recovers. Outside of Jeff ‘DeFo’ DeForrest, there is nothing of substance on this station.

WFTL – 1400 ESPN Radio. The call letters are not a typo. There are 3 radio stations that use WFTL as their call letters. 2 are sports stations and 1 is a news / conservative talk radio station which I will address shortly. This station focuses on ESPN programming and doesn’t even appear to have a website – just a link to ESPN radio.

WINZ 940 is owned and operated by Clear Channel and has been an Progressive Talk radio station since it switched from Fox Sports radio in July, 2004. They are the flagship station of the Miami Heat and as I have mentioned earlier will become the 5th local sports station in the South Florida radio market when it switches back to Fox Sports radio.

It had to be the ratings

This is exactly what the right would want us to believe. Who would listen to such vile left-wing trash?”

Then when you compare 610 WIOD’s conservative talk line-up and their strong ratings to WINZ’s mediocre ratings, it seems to strengthen their argument.

WIOD broadcasts Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Schnitt and Sean Hannity during their day. Three of 4 are huge names with long radio and/or television history. They rank #2 in the AM market and #1 English speaking.

WINZ and it’s progressive talk rank #4 in the AM market and #2 in the English speaking AM market. Both stations are owned and operated by Clear Channel.

South Florida also has conservative talk radio WFTL 850 which broadcasted Bill O’Reilly’s radio Factor and Mike Savage, Laura Ingraham and Dennis Miller. WFTL’s ratings are a terrible 0.5 and it gets worse when you realize that WFTL’s ratings are calculated by using 850 (conservative talk), 640 (sports) and 1400 (sports).

How does WFTL 850 stay on the air with those dismal ratings?

Comparing WINZ to the 4 existing sports stations

WQAM finished 14th of 33 stations in the Men 25-54 demographic as compared to 16th for 790 the Ticket.

In a head-to-head, WINZ 940 topped WQAM in the ratings book with a 1.5 to a 1.4.

As WINZ moves into a 5 horse race with 2 champions already running, WINZ is doubtful to even register a blip on the screen.

So why change the format of the #2 English speaking AM station to an oversaturated format?

Could it be money? It’s always about the money. The fact is that Fox Sports is very cheap since Clear Channel broadcasts this format in many markets. Clear Channel only has a handful of Progressive Talk radio stations across the country so the cost must be higher.

Could it be about politics? Could be, but I doubt it. If Clear Channel could make a financial killing with any format, believe me they would. The problem is with the shows that they air.

In the morning they had a local program – Nicole Sandler who was okay. I found myself listening to other programming about 80% of the time. Then they pulled her show and replaced it with Don Imus. Really? Imus?

How is he progressive? Imus proudly voted for McCain. But if you were paying attention, 940 stopped calling themselves Progressive Talk. Now they ceased airing Imus.

Stephanie Miller has an entertaining show. At noon, is Thom Hartmann, who I believe is the smartest talk show host in the country. The man is brilliant and brings in a terrific perspective. Until February, the 3-6 slot was held by Randi Rhodes who takes a little getting used to but I have enjoyed her show since Clinton was in the White House. For a while I listed to only Rhodes and Rush Limbaugh. Mike Malloy at 9 is interesting but you can keep Alan Colmes and Lionel.

Here’s what I do

WFTL needs to rethink their market. They have 3 stations, none of which are particularly strong in ratings or in financial gain. They should remarket 850 as News / Progressive Talk and broadcast the best Progressive programs available. I would also bring in 1 local program that features state and local politics and how it affects us. This could air on Saturdays and Sundays.

Remember that WINZ currently destroys 850 in the ratings so the move would be a no-brainer. If they were insistent on their intent to continue broadcasting the right-wing loons (Savage, Dennis Miller and Ingraham) they could move them to 640. This would remove 1 sports station from the market and keep us at 4.

WFTL 1400 ESPN sports could remain. I suspect that it is low cost programming and who cares really?

In conclusion . . .

We have determined that Clear Channel’s WINZ’s upcoming switch to Fox Sports from Progressive talk is not about ratings as they will assuredly get much lower ratings numbers after the switch. It could be about the money since Fox Sports programming costs considerably less than bringing in the progressive programs. I doubt that it’s about political position even though Clear Channel seems to lean right because most companies will broadcast anything that will bring in tons of money. How else do you explain Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and So You Think You Can Dance?

The bottom line is listeners of Progressive Talk will soon have no terrestrial radio options in South Florida but sports lovers will have 5 choices in a very limited market.

It’s a sad day for South Florida radio.

My2Buck$

Update:  WINZ changed format on Friday, April 3rd.  For more on this story, please read The Sports Animal Replaces Progressive Talk.

 

Crist and Obama in Ft. Myers, Florida

This past Tuesday, President Barack Obama was in Ft. Myers, Florida to push the stimulus package. Democrats and Republicans need to work together in order for us to rebound from this downward spiral.

President Obama was introduced to a town hall by Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

Watch Governor Crist introduce President Obama.

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more about “Crist Introduces Obama Video“, posted with vodpod

President Obama’s initial remarks addressing Governor Crist.

I want to start by thanking your governor, Charlie Crist, for joining us today. Governors understand our economic crisis as well as anyone; they’re on the front lines dealing with it every day. And Governor Crist shares my conviction that creating jobs and turning this economy around is a mission that transcends party. When the town is burning, we don’t check party labels. Everyone needs to grab a hose!

Governor Crist and governors across the country understand that. Mayors across the country understand that. And I think you understand that, too. Which is what I want to talk about today.

 

OT_301553_ALLE_Obama_14

Hotline TV offered some interesting analysis on the Republican governor’s introduction of the Democratic president.

 

 

I think it is funny that anytime bipartisanship occurs or if a Republican does something ‘right’ for a change, people think there is something suspicious going on.

Crist has demonstrated (except when he was vying to become John McCain’s running mate) to be a moderate Republican looking to do what is best for the state of Florida.

He extended early voting hours so more people could vote – to the dismay of his party. He instituted a health insurance program in Florida that covers people who previously lacked coverage. He used his line item veto to remove harsh budget cuts against education and the environment. Florida’s House and Senate are about 67% Republican and they are not happy with many of the decisions Crist has made in the 2 plus years he has been governor.

I, for one, am not surprised that he reached across the aisle to President Obama who has already shown that he wants to reach across the aisle as well.

 

crist-obama-3

crist-obama-2

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Obama and Crist to appear together in support of the stimulus

Florida was the laughing stock of the 2000 General Election and we’ve had to live with that tag for 8 long years. In 2008, Florida went for President Obama yet the state House and Senate remained overwhelmingly Republican.

Finally, we have something to be proud of. In the true definition of bipartisanship, Florida’s Republican Governor Charlie Crist will appear with Democratic President Barack Obama in a Tuesday event in Ft. Myers to support the stimulus package.

Governor Crist will introduce President Obama at the town hall meeting.

The Rush Limbaugh Republican Senators and Representatives are against the stimulus package because they believe that with economic failure the Republican Party could once again rise and as Rush Limbaugh proclaimed “I want Obama to fail.”

But Florida needs a stimulus package now. They need jobs.

With the 61-36 cloture vote, the Republican filibuster was avoided. Now the Senate can get down to the vote.

MEMORANDUM: GOVERNOR CRIST TO JOIN PRESIDENT AT FORT MYERS TOWN HALL MEETING TOMORROW

February 9, 2009

Contact:

GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE
(850) 488-5394

MEMORANDUM

TO: Interested Media
FROM: Erin Isaac, Governor’s Communications Director
RE: GOVERNOR CRIST TO JOIN PRESIDENT AT FORT MYERS TOWN HALL MEETING TOMORROW

The White House announced today that Florida Governor Charlie Crist will introduce President Barack Obama at a town hall meeting in Fort Myers to discuss the urgent need for a plan to help American families cope with the severe economic downturn and lay the foundation for our long term recovery. Statements from the President and Gov. Crist about tomorrow’s event are included below.

“I look forward to traveling to Ft. Myers tomorrow to talk to Floridians about how we get our nation’s economy back on track. Gov. Crist and I have seen firsthand the toll that this economic crisis has taken on the American people, and we agree that we can’t allow politics to get in the way of urgent relief for the millions of families and small businesses that need it,” said President Barack Obama.

“Florida has taken prudent steps to cut taxes for our people and balance our budget in these increasingly difficult times. Any attempts at federal stimulus must prioritize job creation and targeted tax relief for small business owners. I am eager to welcome President Obama to the Sunshine State as he continues to work hard to reignite the US economy,” said Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

Sources:

Stimulus filibuster shut down in Senate

Crist to introduce Obama at event

MEMORANDUM: GOVERNOR CRIST TO JOIN PRESIDENT AT FORT MYERS TOWN HALL MEETING TOMORROW


State Farm announces pull-out from Florida – sends me letter that they’ll still take my money for auto

I am not certain how much national attention this story received but State Farm announced last week that they will be pulling their Homeowner’s Insurance coverage from Florida because their request of a 47% rate increase was rejected.

Actually, they said they planned to request the 67% rate hike but only requested a 47% hike because they figured they had a better chance of getting the 47% increase approved.

Let’s think about that a second. A 47% rate hike?

Let’s say that you just paid $2,000 for homeowners insurance, you would have to pay $2,940 the next year.

If you planned on buying a television for $2,000 would you be okay paying almost $3,000 for the same TV later? Then again, at least you could shop for a different brand of TV. We don’t have that luxury in Florida with homeowner’s insurance as most companies either bailed out of Florida already or no longer write new policies to home owners.

That means if your homeowner’s insurance policy is cancelled, most likely you will have to seek coverage from Citizens Property Insurance Company – a nonprofit company established in 2002 to offer Floridians coverage where private insurers will not write policies.  

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty had rejected the State Farm bid for the huge increase.  

kevin-mccarty

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty

“I will do everything within my power to protect Florida consumers from unnecessary destabilization of the insurance market that this might cause and to ensure that Florida consumers are protected and have access to insurance at rates that are not excessive or unfairly discriminatory,” McCarty said.

We’re very disappointed with (the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s) decision not to grant rate relief,” State Farm spokesman Chris Neal said. “We believe the facts we presented should have led to a different outcome.”

A 47% increase isn’t rate relief? What about the 9% increase in 2007? I would say that this is relief – but a 47% increase? That’s rate rape.

“The courts have backed up the insurance commissioner and the result is lower rates,” said Bill Newton, director of Florida Consumers Action Network. “State Farm ought to play it a little straighter and ask for a realistic rate backed up by the numbers, not a speculative shoot-for-the-moon number.”

As a result of the rejection, State Farm has announced that they will pull out of Florida – no longer renewing the policies for the 1.2 million customers. The excuse, of course, is due to the losses they have suffered since the 2004 hurricane season.

I admit that they had big losses in 2004 and 2005 but the last 3 years have been particularly light and should have been profitable. And what about all the other years before 2004 when hurricane seasons had been light?

State Farm claims that since 2000 they have paid out $1.21 in claims for every dollar they have collected in premiums. They said that they have suffered billions of dollars in losses due to the 4 major hurricanes hit Florida.

In 1998, State Farm Florida was created as a separate entity “to address what the company called the ‘unique risks’ of doing business in Florida. Do they have the same types of entities to deal with earthquakes and mudslides in California, tornados in Kansas, or hurricanes in the other Gulf Coast states?

Since they didn’t get their massive rate increase, State Farm is planning on taking their toys and going home.

Well not all their toys. Just the ones that may not make money.

I received a letter from State Farm that read:

Dear State Farm Policyholder,

You may have seen or heard the recent announcement that State Farm Florida Insurance Company (State Farm Florida) has submitted a plan to discontinue its property insurance lines in Florida. I want to clarify for you that this plan involves insurance coverage only for homeowners, renters, condominium unit owners, personal liability, boats, personal watercraft, personal articles and business property and liability policies.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm Mutual) and its affiliated companies will continue to provide – as they have for decades – automobile insurance, life insurance, health insurance and other financial products and services in Florida.

State Farm has kindly informed me that my homeowners, flood insurance, wind (hurricane), mold and personal articles and property will no longer be covered in the future. But they will gladly continue to accept my money for my automobile insurance.

Uh, I think not.

state-farm-logoWhat State Farm doesn’t get is that I’ve stayed with their insurance company all these years because of the multi-line discount they offered. I also suspected that if they reduced the coverage to some customers, the likelihood diminished the more lines of coverage you had.

Since they no longer want my business for the riskier investments, I’ll have to look around to see if there are any companies out there willing to provide me these lost policies. Of course, I will not keep my automobile coverage with them either.

I suspect that this is the general feeling by all of the 1.2 million of us who are about to lose our coverage. I know Governor Charlie Crist agrees and has told State Farm that if they are going to drop the homeowner’s coverage that they should pick up their agents and get out of Florida.

State Farm has been charging some of the highest rates in our state for a long time. They haven’t been very friendly to our people and if they want to leave the state goodbye,” Crist says.

“I don’t think we need them,” Crist says. “I don’t want to work with them to give them a rate increase hell no.”

I agree with the governor. My rates are very high across the board but as I was fearful they would drop my coverage, I paid for the extra lines of coverage since my options for homeowners insurance was so limited.

 

Sources:

Regulators reject State Farm rate hike

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sfl-statefarm0112,0,1433397.story

State Farm to stop insuring Florida

Governor Crist sounds off on State Farm

State of Florida case: – State Farm Florida Insurance Company, Petitioner, vs. Office of Insurance Regulation, Respondent


The Battle for the Florida Senate Seat (2010 edition)

It has been 1 day since Florida Senator Mel Martinez announced that he will not seek re-election in 2010. He was going to be in for a 2-year dogfight in order to hold on to the seat. The Democratic Party was going to target this race as Martinez is not popular within the state.

He had announced that his desire was to spend more time with his family. That may be partly true since I suspect it would have been immensely time consuming to regain any lost popularity and essentially making up for barely visiting South Florida during the last 4 years.

So where do we go from here?

Names are being thrown around from both parties. The media has been speculating about the Democratic names for a while since it was assumed that Martinez would be the Republican nominee. The names being bandied about from the Republican side are quite tough to beat. Most of the names I mentioned yesterday are now being mentioned plus some that I overlooked / never expected.

Before reviewing the potential names, I need to mention the party balance of the state. Florida leans Republican but will swing to the Democrats with a viable candidate option. We all know about Florida in the presidential race of 2000. Florida did vote for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008.

2000 also had an open Senatorial race. Republican Connie Mack III was retiring from the Senate and in the General Election Florida elected Democrat Bill Nelson over Republican Bill McCollum.

Approximately two-thirds of Florida’s House and Senate are comprised of Republicans and the ratio didn’t improve during the 2008 election which saw a strong move to the Democrats nationally.

The Republican names

Without question, the Republican field to replace Martinez is packed with huge names. These candidates are well-known statewide and a number are well-known nationally. Unless something changes between now and Election Day 2010, I can not fathom that the Democrats will win this seat.

The name that must top the list is former Governor Jeb Bush. He was the first Republican to be elected to 2 terms as governor in Florida. He was thought of to be destined for the presidency until George W’s popularity hurt the Bush name. As I mentioned yesterday, the Senate would be the perfect place for Jeb to restore the name and for time to pass so the Americans with short memories can forget the last 8 years.

I do suspect that Floridians have forgotten that Jeb, like W, governed for his party, without checks and balances. If Floridians voted for an amendment that Jeb didn’t agree with, he ignored it. How’s the Florida bullet train doing or the smaller class sizes?

Today, Americans look at Jeb as just another W. In my opinion, Jeb is smarter, just as stubborn and a much better communicator. If America sees Jeb in the Senate for 4-8 years, they may decide that Jeb would be a strong president and quite unlike his older brother.

With regards to Jeb’s interest in the Senate: Reports are that he is interested. He sent an email to Politico Tuesday night saying, “I am considering it.”

And if Jeb does announce his candidacy, it will quiet the blogs as well as the media. I would suspect that most of the prominent candidates from both parties would forego a run and anyone else would be crushed.

But in case he doesn’t run, we should have 2 years of interesting discussions ahead. The rest of the Republican field could consist of:

Marco Rubio – Former Florida Speaker of the House, he is a strong conservative and has been at odds with Republican Governor Charlie Crist because Crist is too moderate. It was rumored that he may consider a run at governor against Crist in 2010 but the senate does seem like an option if Bush opts not to run.

Charlie Crist – First-term Florida governor. He was a short-list candidate to be John McCain’s running mate. He is highly popular in the state – even with Democrats – and should coast in his re-election bid, but his name has come up for the Senate. Obviously, his office has indicated that he will run for re-election in 2010. Crist, for the most part has attempted to cross party lines. I don’t agree with everything he does but he has scored points with me for a number of items, most recently extending early voting hours in the state which permitted more Floridians to cast a vote.

Bill McCollum – The current Attorney General who twice lost in governor’s races. He is up for re-election in 2010 and has indicated his intention to go that route. I would consider him a top tier candidate but well below Bush and Crist.

Toni Jennings is the former Lt. Governor under Jeb and decided against a run for governor.  I will be curious to see if her name surfaces as a candidate.

Jeff Kottkamp is the current Lt. Governor. A sure mid-tier candidate, he will definitely wait to see if Jeb or Crist opt for the seat. If neither do, I suspect that Kottkamp may go for it. If Crist decides to aim for the Senate, Kottkamp may run instead for governor. Otherwise, expect Kottkamp to run with Crist again in 2010.

Connie Mack IV – He currently is the US Rep from Florida’s 14th district which includes Naples and Ft. Myers. His father was a U.S. Senator from 1989 – 2001. This seat is now currently held by Bill Nelson. Thanks to his father, Mack has strong name recognition in the state. I suspect that only die-hard sports fans will have heard of his great-grandfather.

Joe Scarborough – Host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Scarborough served in the US House from 1995 – 2001. He was approached to run against Bill Nelson in 2006 which he refused – the Republican nominee was former Sec. of State Katherine Harris.

John Mica – I said ‘who’ when I first saw his name. He is a US Rep out of the Winter Park area. His spokesman stated that a decision on whether or not to run will not come until after the first of the year.

Rush Limbaugh – he lives in Palm Beach. He makes a ton of money and loves to criticize the left. I’d love to see him put his money where his mouth is and give the Senate a try. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh were both in the Senate?

Regardless of who the Democrats put out there, it will be tough for them to win. Only Florida CFO Alex Sink has any real statewide name recognition. The Democrats do have 2 years to build a viable candidate – Obama was able to do it on a national scale in that time. The problem is, the Florida Democrats are not a particularly well-run group. How else do you explain their inability to capitalize on a Democratic year? The national party would have to come down here and get involved.

I will discuss the Democratic candidates and any changes with the Republicans in my next post on the race.

Senator Mel Martinez opts not to run for re-election in Florida

Huge news out of Florida.  Senator Mel Martinez WILL NOT run for re-election in 2010. 

The Hill is reporting that Martinez “announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2010, passing on what looked to be one of the most difficult reelection battles in the country.”

Republican Senator Martinez calls out lie by Cheney

Mel Martinez

The Republican Junior Senator from Florida really hadn’t been heard from during his 4 years in office.  The Cuban-born Martinez did weigh in on the illegal immigration issue as well as against the party’s ‘drill baby drill’ position until John McCain and Florida Governor Charlie Crist became supporters of off-shore drilling.

He had short runs as Housing and Urban Development secretary and as co-chair of the Republican National Committee when the party lost seats during the 2006 election.

During the 2004 Republican primary for the Senate, The St. Petersburg Times had endorsed Martinez against his opponent, Bill McCollum.  The Times retracted the endorsement after Martinez called McCollum “the new darling of the homosexual extremists.” 

Martinez’s had indicated his intention to run for re-election but was planning on making the announcement after the first of the year. 

His decision to forego the reelection bid makes the already difficult attempt at a Republican hold even more difficult.

There have already been a large number of Democrats whose names have been tossed about – Representatives Allen Boyd, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ron Klein, Robert Wexler and Kathy Castor and Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Wexler was an early Barack Obama supporter and was one of Congresses loudest voices pushing for the impeachments of Bush and Cheney.

Wasserman Schultz is best known in Congress as the person who threw the rubber stamps and declared that the former Republican Congress would not be a ‘rubber stamp Congress.’  She is also Chris Matthews’s favorite Congressional guest.  You have to watch him interview her.

Sink is a first term CFO and is married to former Florida Governor candidate, Bill McBride.

I would like to see either Wasserman Schultz or Wexler get the nod though I am a big fan of a person not on the initial list.  My personal choice is Daryl Jones.  He is a retired colonel in the Air Force and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives.  In 2002, he became the first African American to run for Florida governor in 2002 and the second chosen to run for lieutenant governor in 2006 (the only other African American was Republican David Montgomery in 1876.  Yes 1876)

The question is who will replace Martinez as the Republican candidate for the seat? 

Former Governor Jeb Bush comes to mind.  He needs somewhere to build up the Bush name again.  Bush, however, had already declined to run against Bill Nelson in 2006.

Will Katherine Harris have the stones to give it another try?  I seriously doubt it.          

MSNBC host of Morning Joe and former Congressman, Joe Scarborough was also approached about running in 2006.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he would give it a go this time.

My prediction is that U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV will go for that seat.  His father held the Senate seat now held by Bill Nelson.

Other names I can think of:  Current Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and current Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (who twice failed in previous Senate runs, including the 2004 loss to Martinez).

I would love to see Rush Limbaugh throw his hat into the ring.  Rush lives in Palm Beach County.

In order to give the Republican the advantage in 2010, Martinez should resign the seat allowing Republican Governor Charlie Crist to appoint his replacement.

Sources:  Read Sen. Martinez won’t run for re-election in 2010 in The Hill

[Update] 

The spokesman for Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced today, “the congresswoman is very happy in the House of Representatives where she plans to continue to work on behalf of the people of Florida’s 20th Congressional District.”

The Sun-Sentinel provided some good analysis for Wasserman Schultz’s decision:

She’s chairwoman of a subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee. That position, known as one of the cardinals who make decisions on the federal budget, is extraordinarily powerful, and achieving it was a major feat for a junior member. And it puts her on the ladder that ultimately could see her ascend to the top levels of government in the House.

“Wasserman Schultz is also unabashedly liberal, something that puts her in sync with her South Florida district but might not sit so well with voters in a statewide election.” 

[Another update]

At 1:50 pm Bill McCollum has put out a statement.  If you recall from a few paragraphs up, McCollum was the one smeared by Martinez in 2004 and is currently Florida Attorney General.

“I have been asked today whether this announcement will have any effect on my plans for the future. At this point, my plan is – at the appropriate time – to announce my intention to seek re-election as Florida’s Attorney General. However, given today’s development, I will seriously consider and discuss with my family a race for this U.S. Senate seat, and we will share our decision at a later date.”