As Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones Monday seeking legislative support for his proposed constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling, polls showed public favor for it may be rising.
The four-day special session called by the governor begins at noon Tuesday and is expected to end a few brief hours later. But while the Republican-led Legislature prepared to squash the governor's plan and rob him of a victory he can use in his bid to win the U.S. Senate seat, they may take a political hit in the process.
Protestors from oil-ravaged regions of the state are heading to the Capitol Tuesday and dozens of business owners, restaurant workers, defense industry contractors and hotel operators from Northwest Florida plan to sit in the House gallery as lawmakers reject the drilling ban.
"We want to make it clear that we are paying very close attention," warned Cathy Harrelson, a St. Petersburg environmental activist and one of the organizers behind a rally at the Capitol to support the constitutional ban.
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Eric Draper, of Audubon of Florida, said that legislators will be siding with the oil industry if they vote to keep the proposal away from voters. "Put it on the ballot and let the voters vote."
A Times/Herald review of campaign contributions to legislators and their political committees shows that between Jan. 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010, lawmakers received $278,452 from the oil and gas industry and their affiliated companies, including nearly $185,800 to the Republican Party of Florida and $77,000 to the Florida Democratic Party.
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