Sometimes, You Just Have One of Those Weeks to Forget; and Overnight, a Race's Political Dynamics Can Change Drastically

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Dixon

TALLAHASSEE | It has been a bad week for some Florida political candidates. Just ask Mike Horner and David Rivera.

On Monday, news broke that Horner, a Republican Florida House member from Kissimmee, has been named as a client in a prostitution and racketeering case. By Monday afternoon, he had dropped out of the race.

He was chairman of the House Transportation Committee and well-liked in his Central Florida House district. He is so well-liked, in fact, he will keep his gig as president of the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce.

The news did change the political dynamic in the race.

Democrat Eileen Game was getting no help from the Florida Democratic Party, and was seen as a long shot. That has changed.

Party operatives are now knocking on Game's door, as they see a chance for a pickup in a district once written off. Democrats are expected to gain a few seats in both the House and Senate, but with Republican supermajorities in both chambers, every seat counts.

In South Florida, Republican U.S. Rep. David Rivera's campaign is tied to an FBI investigation after a Democrat told investigators that Rivera helped steer unreported money to his campaign in an effort to knock off Joe Garcia, who is now running against Rivera.

This week, the plant, Justin Lamar Sternad, told FBI agents that Rivera was behind the plan. He says that a Republican campaign consultant acted as a conduit between his campaign and Rivera, reported the Miami Herald.

Earlier, the paper reported that, despite having raised only $11,400, Sternad's campaign purchased several expensive mail pieces. Sternad could face felony counts for intentionally filing false paperwork, conspiring to do so fraudulently and accepting laundered money.

He is cooperating with federal officials in hopes of getting leniency if formal charges are filed.

GOP: POLLS ARE WRONG

In a memo, the campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack teed off on poll numbers that he called "not accurate." The numbers had him trailing incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by wide margins.

"Some media outlets and Democrat-affiliated pollsters have released polls based on highly questionable party identification models that can serve no other purpose than to attempt to sway public opinion and voter enthusiasm," wrote Jeff Cohen.

The Republican Party of Florida is also getting in on the action.

In a statement, party chairman Lenny Curry blasted a Quinnipiac University poll that had President Barack Obama up by double digits in Florida. He also took to Twitter to slam the numbers.

"If you believe this morning's [Florida] Q poll I have swamp land to sell you. Come on man! This is Florida," he wrote.

Curry noted that Obama is still spending money in Florida as evidence his campaign does not view the state as a lock.

SCOTT STAYS EXECUTION

Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday temporarily stayed the execution of John Errol Ferguson to allow doctors to examine his mental stability. His attorneys have argued that Ferguson has experienced hallucinations, and shows signs of schizophrenia.

An order signed by Scott calls for the examination to take place Monday. If deemed competent, Errol's already-planned execution will happen Oct. 16.

He was convicted on eight counts of murder for the 1977 execution-style deaths of six people in 1977, and the murders of two Hialeah teenagers in 1978.

EXPENSIVE ARTWORK

Locked in a dispute about paying for photographs at the controversial 1st District Court of Appeal, the Florida Department of Management Services this week filed a lawsuit against state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and an agency he leads.

The dispute stems from Atwater's refusal to pay for $357,500 in historical photographs planned for the 1st District Court of Appeal - a nearly 2-year-old building in Tallahassee whose opulence has led to it being derisively called the "Taj Mahal. …