The Corcoran Report: July 2009

A Whirlwind of Political Activity

As summer continues, Florida has begun to see incremental, positive indications from an economic perspective, most notably in revenue collections.

The state's team of economists and economic forecasters establishes monthly revenue estimates for each month and presents that information periodically in the Revenue Estimating Conference. For the past several years, monthly revenue collections were less than forecast, causing the conference to modify downward their estimates for future months. Last month, for the first time in several years, revenue collections exceeded estimates indicating that perhaps a floor of support has been established and bringing hope that Florida's revenues will begin a trend of growth rather than continuing the contraction that has occurred over the last several years.

Fueling a portion of the revenue collection growth are increases in doc stamp collections. This corresponds with increased real estate purchasing activity over the last several months and is yet one more sign that Florida's economy may have established a floor of support and turned the corner toward economic growth.

The summer months have also been a whirlwind of political activity following the end of the regular Legislative Session.

Within two weeks of the end of session, Governor Charlie Crist announced his intention to seek the open U.S. Senate seat in 2010, opening as a result of Senator Mel Martinez's announcement that he will not seek re-election. Governor Crist is joined in the race for U.S. Senate by former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, setting the stage for a Republican primary. Additionally, Congressman Kendrick Meek is the leading Democratic candidate in the race.

Governor Crist's announcement resulted in two of the state's statewide elected officials - Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican, and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat - joining the race to succeed Governor Crist. With their announcements to run for Governor, all statewide elected seats are now open seats in the 2010 election. The first quarter fundraising results were released late last week and right now, McCollum has raised approximately $1.1 million and Sink has raised $1.2 million.

Following CFO Sink's announcement, Senate President Jeff Atwater immediately announced his intention to seek the office of CFO. Within the last several weeks, Representative Pat Patterson has announced as well. Both are Republicans; and at this time, there is no Democratic candidate in the race.

Also following Attorney General McCollum's announcement, Senator Dave Aronberg and Senator Dan Gelber quickly entered the race for Attorney General. Both are Democrats from South Florida. Currently only one Republican candidate, Jim Lewis, has entered the race; however, Republican Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp very likely will join the race in coming weeks.

The other remaining statewide elected office is the Commissioner of Agriculture position; and after serving for eight years, Commissioner Charles Bronson is term limited in 2010. There are several Republican and Democratic candidates running for this seat. Leading Republican candidates include Congressman Adam Putnam from Lakeland and Senator Carey Baker from Eustis. Leading Democratic candidates include Eric Draper and Scott Maddox, both from Tallahassee, and Rick Minton from Fort Pierce.

The number of candidates in these races also means that several House and Senate seats are now open, in addition to those seats already open due to term limits. This makes for a frenzy of activity, with candidates crisscrossing the state daily raising campaign funds.

Our team continues to be active participants in the fundraising process, assisting candidates throughout the state. We travel throughout Florida weekly to help candidates financially and through volunteer work in their campaigns. We continue to work tirelessly on behalf of CPF to seek and support candidates championing pro-business principles for Florida.

Also this summer, the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee is compiling an interim project 2010-106. This interim project stems from proposed legislation filed last session which would allow public notice to be offered on Web sites instead of being run in the state's daily newspapers. This report will likely form the foundation of additional proposed legislation next session dealing with this issue and potentially opening the legal notice statutes to changes.

We are working with CPF staff to provide information and serve as a resource to Senate staff that is beneficial and informative as they work to craft this interim report. The report is due October 1st and will likely be presented to the Senate committee during the fall committee weeks. We are continuing to be actively engaged serving as a resource and monitoring this process as the committee undertakes this report.

We appreciate the partnership we have with CPF. As always, should you have questions or need specific information about issues, we are pleased to provide that to you. As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you, the members of the Community Papers of Florida.

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