Starting my vacation today as we gear up for the final election swing...
--- Always sad to come across this type of news, but this hit especially hard. Polk County lost a fine citizen and Democratic activist Wednesday in Rev. William Standard Echols of Lake Wales. He was a retired United Methodist minister, having served pastorates in Miami, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Lake City, West Palm Beach, Nokomis, and Delray Beach during his long career. I had the pleasure of knowing Bill Echols as a fellow member of the Polk County Democratic Executive Committee, and I can say that Bill Echols was a gentelman of true class whose wonderful presence and great attitude will be missed by many.
My heart is heavy this morning as I type this, but glad in the fact that his pain is now subsided, and that he will be with our Creator. As you read this, please keep his beloved wife of 53 years, Verna, and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this time of condolence as they recover from their loss.
--- Another day, another poll: The Florida Poll, conducted by the New York Times Florida Newspaper Group, shows John Kerry with a slight lead over George W. Bush: 48.3 to 46.7 percent --- well within the three percent margin of error. But Kerry scores well with independent voters, 48 to 40 percent...and surprisingly strong among male voters, a strong Bush group. This poll shows both candidates at 47 percent each among men. Among women, it's Kerry 49-46...again within the margin of error.
Within the important I-4 Corridor (defined by the poll as Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, and Voluisa), Kerry leads 50.5 to 45 percent.
All the details are included in this article from today's Lakeland Ledger.
--- Speaking of polls, the new Mason-Dixon poll is out on the U.S. Senate race, and it's a dead heat. Republican Mel Martinez leads Democrat Betty Castor, but only by .3 point. Six percent are undecided, and Veterans Party candidate Dennis Bradley got into the mix with one percent. The margin of error here is +/- 4 percent. The Orlando Sentinel has the details.
--- And speaking of Mel Martinez, Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell noticed this:
Out on the campaign trail, Martinez has repeatedly said: "I have elderly parents that depend on Social Security." They depend on it? Yikes. That's either quite an exaggeration or Martinez might need some tips on being a good son -- seeing as how one of the financial disclosures he filed earlier this year reported a net worth of somewhere between $1 million and $2 million.
In recent days, Martinez has stressed that he wants to be a bipartisan leader who would build bridges across the political aisle. That notion is quite a contrast from the Republican primary when he vowed in a fund-raising letter: "I can become the Democrats' worst nightmare."
Scott also mentioned about the numerous celebrities trekking through our Sunshine State this political season...
--- Want to know how your county has done compared with others in early and absentee voting? Check out this chart, thanks to the Orlando Sentinel. Glad to see Polk has done well in ratio of absentee ballots mailed and returned: 70 percent! I've also been told by insiders that Polk's Democratic GOTV phone banking has been extremely well in the opinion of state party officials; one of the best statewide!
--- And 12th District congressman/Bush lapdog Adam Putnam may have a cakewalk in his reelection campaign, but that has not stopped him from raising money...and passing it on. Putnam has raised $753,083 compaired to $51,560 for Democrat Bob Hagenmaier --- about 80% of Hagenmaier's money is his own. Putnam has passed on approximately $128,000 of his contributions to other Republican candidates and to the Republican National Congressional Committee. Part of his money two years ago went to help relative and (now) fellow congressperson (not to mention former Florida Secretary of State...remember HER???) Katherine Harris in Sarasota, who is in a close race of her own now against Democrat challenger Jan Schenider