Ferre tries to make noise in Senate race, and Crist talks about Rothstein

There is a relatively new candidate in the race: former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, who's doing whatever he can to make some noise and attract some attention.  Recently, Ferre tried to create some separation from Meek by declaring his break with the Obama administration regarding the escalation of troops in Afghanistan, and now he's calling out Charlie Crist in the scandal involving disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein.

“It is time for the Governor to answer questions about the troubling connection between his judicial appointments and Rothstein contributions,” said Ferre. “It is difficult to believe that all of this is just coincidence.”

In a letter to Broward County Judge Victor Tobin, who is charged with directing the activities of the Grand Jury that was convened at the request of Gov. Crist, the twelve-year former Mayor of Miami asked the Judge to focus on the question of whether there was corruption in the Fourth District Court of Appeals nominating process.

Ferre, the first Hispanic Mayor of a major US City, reiterated his call for Crist to return all of Rothstein’s donations as well as those of Rothstein’s family and law partners.

Meanwhile, Governor Crist is speaking out about Scott Rothstein.  In an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Crist said he heard rumors about Rothstein's ascension to becoming wealthy but didn't find anything extraordinary about it, telling the paper's editors and reporters, "Should we distance ourselves from people because there's a lot of talk? Is that a fair standard?"

Crist said he met Rothstein about 5 or 6 years ago, and named him to serve on a committee that nominates judges for the state 4th District Court of Appeal.  Crist told the Sun-Sentinel that Rothstein's political contributions played no role in that decision.

When asked whether it was a mistake not to have delved deeper into Rothstein's background and actions, Crist, a former Florida attorney general, replied, "I give people the benefit of the doubt. … Unless I have a reason to believe that somebody is doing something wrong, then I don't have a reason to believe they're doing something wrong.

"As I've said before, I don't have a crystal ball. If somebody's running a law firm, or running an IT business, or running a newspaper, and they seem relatively successful and have a lot of friends who want to try to help you, then who am I to judge, if there's no reason to judge?"

Meanwhile, Crist's good buddy, state party chair Jim Greer, continues to remain under siege with fellow state Republicans, prompting this explosive new column written by CL contributor (and noted Crist and Greer critic) Chris Ingram.

Earlier this week much was made in some political circles (like conservative blogs) about a Rasmussen poll showing Marco Rubio tied with Charlie Crist in the race for the GOP Senate nomination.

As I wrote at the time, I believe that Rasmussen skews a bit towards the right, and thus I will wait until the much respected Quinnipiac Institute releases their next survey taken of GOP voters on the race before declaring that it's completely changed.

Well, Quinnipiac hasn't released anything in the past 48 hours, but there is a new poll, and it shows Charlie Crist with a pretty strong 9 point lead, 44% to 35%.   The Insider Advantage/Zogby survey released Thursday  also shows Bill McCollum with a solid lead over Paula Dockery, but with nearly half the electorate undecided, in no way should Dockery be dismissed, though she remains the decided underdog.

An interesting poll by Rasmussen released Wednesday shows that not only do both GOP contenders continue to lead probable Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, but now Rubio leads over Meek by a larger margin than does the Governor.

Meek of course, hasn't had any serious competition for the Democratic seat since he quickly garnered union support and had fundraisers hosted by notables such as Bill Clinton.  But the lack of a serious contender has not only not sharpened Meek's game, but also left him out of most news cycles completely, save for the occasional press release or news conference that reporters actually cover.

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