Some of Florida's biggest and most well-known democrats -- including a surprise appearance by former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, who got a standing ovation -- are in Hollywood this weekend for the Florida Democratic Party's Jackson-Jefferson fund-raising dinner and conference at the Westin Diplomat Hotel, with more than 1,200 attendees.
But candidates will have to shell out precious campaign dollars to eat. Christina Boltin, finance director for the Florida Democratic Party, told me none of the $180 tickets for the dinner event Saturday night were comped to candidates or their campaign staff. So we expect to see those expenses -- and vendor tables at $500 a pop -- on future finance disclosure reports. Who got vendor tables? According to Boltin, gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink (who had technical difficulties with the mic during her speech Saturday night), Loranne Ausley, Democratic candidate to replace Sink for CFO, both Democratic candidates for Attorney General Dan Gelber and Dave Aronberg, and dueling Dem U.S. Senate candidates Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene (blogs and websites already reporting that Meek got a bigger applause. That's news? It's the worst kept secret that the party is already behind Meek.)
Among candidates making appearances were U.S. Senate candidate Maurice Ferre, who was giving away free "Win With Ferre" t-shirts, and U.S. Congressional candidate Joe Garcia, who spoke at the dinner and was "looking forward to sitting with" Alex Sink, he said on facebook.
Most of the committee meetings and caucuses (Hispanic, Haitian, LGBT, students, and more) met on Saturday. But a few meetings were left for Sunday. The legislative committee will meet from 9 to 10 a.m. in the Atlantic Ballroom, a campaign committee meets at 10 a.m. in room 214 and the Democratic county committee chairs meet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. All meetings are open to all Democrats. I guess Republicans and Independents are not welcome, but do they really ask for your voter's reg at the door?