BusinessForce kicked off what could be the most exciting election cycle for our region and state in a generation by presenting on Feb. 4th the first in its 2010 series of “Insider’s Briefings” sponsored by host sponsor AT&T and supporting sponsors Tucker Hall and Progress Energy. Special guest speakers for the event were Democratic strategist and consultant Dick Batchelor who was joined by his Republican counterpart, Tico Perez.
At the national level following the healthcare reform debacle, both speakers saw the focus in Washington now moving to jobs and the economy with Batchelor holding that President Obama had exhausted precious political capital on healthcare reform and Perez suggested the Democrats were forming “a circular firing squad” in its aftermath.
Batchelor observed that many congressmen, with their jobs on the line and election day looming, are not as concerned with principles now but self-preservation. He went on to add that that the Republicans face a risk by not providing alternatives. Citing the recent negative Moody’s report on U. S. bonds, Perez offered his view that Obama must change his approach to the federal budget and went on to urged “business solutions rather than government solutions” to the nation’s budget woes.
The two also sparred over the impact of a recent landmark U. S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate contributions with Batchelor lamenting the potential for foreign influence in U.S. elections and Perez defending the first amendment rights upheld under the ruling.
In the marquee Florida U.S. Senate race, Batchelor foresaw an early exit by Gov. Charlie Crist brought on by the state’s budget problems and predicted difficulties for him in the upcoming legislative session. While Perez disagreed on the Crist exit, he suggested a possible endorsement by former Gov. Jeb Bush for the current GOP frontrunner, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, could be fatal for the governor.
In some top tier local races, both Batchelor and Perez agreed re-election would be very difficult for incumbent freshman Cong. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) against “any meaningful candidate” in the 8th Congressional district and the developing “dirty, nasty” race would receive national attention. In the Orange County Mayoral race, Perez felt the recent entry of former Commissioner Teresa Jacobs has “complicated the race” and both he and Batchelor predicted that she will likely face Commissioner Bill Segal in a run-off.
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