Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.


Poll: Race for governor is dead even

"The race for the governor's office is dead even and voters now are ready to support Amendment 2 approving medical marijuana use in Florida, a new poll finds."

Gravis Marketing, which has found voters hovering at or just below the 60 percent level needed to approve Amendment 2 in past surveys, found Floridians have passed that level now and 64 percent said they would "vote for the current amendment use of marijuana for certain medical conditions." Just 26 percent were opposed and 10 percent said they were unsure.

Other polls have shown much greater support for medical marijuana in Florida -- notably the Quinnipiac University poll, which found support as high as 88 percent. But the Quinnipiac Florida Poll did not ask specifically about Florida's Amendment 2, but rather generically about medical marijuana.

The Gravis poll's finding of a solid approval level strikes at Amendment 2 opponents argument that voters could overwhelmingly favor medical marijuana in principal without agreeing to the specific proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.

"The poll also put Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and former Republican-turned-Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in a dead heat with 37 percent each, with 26 percent undecided."
It found Floridians unhappy with President Barack Obama, giving him an approval rating of just 38 percent, and a disapproval rating of 53 percent.

For the 2016 presidential campaign, Gravis found former secretary of state Hillary Clinton ahead of Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida 44 percent to 36 percent, and ahead of former governor Jeb Bush 39 percent to 37 percent.

"Florida voters split on governor, support medical pot"(The Gravis survey of 859 registered Florida voters was conducted August 14 through 24, with a 4 percent margin of error; the poll skewed toward a larger Republican sample than the Florida electorate.) See also "Amendment 2 on Medical Marijuana Does Well in Poll."

Gravis doesn't have the best reputation, as this Slate piece reports: "The Worst Poll in America."


"A choke-on-his-Cheerios moment"

"A lawsuit seeking $375,000 from a brain-damaged and paralyzed Broward County man caused a choke-on-his-Cheerios moment for state Rep. Jamie Grant." "Tampa lawmaker says ‘disgusting’ lawsuit should prompt claim bill reform."


"A notary’s mistake"

"Reggie Fullwood could well pay the price for a notary’s mistake as he ponders his political future." "Johnny Gaffney Blocks Reggie Fullwood's Easy Path Back to Tallahassee."


"Saying the same thing again. And again. And again"

"Rick Scott in some respects makes it easy on journalists. If a reporter misses something he says in an interview, maybe even spaces out for a moment, it doesn’t really matter because Scott is certain to say the same thing again. And again. And again." "Governor candidates stump on Labor Day."


"One Person's Fairness . . ."

Lloyd Brown: "One Person's Fairness Is Another Person's Gerrymander."


"Strange fate"

"Charlie Crist and George Sheldon will be at the top of the Democratic ticket this year, a strange fate for these former rivals and current allies. As he takes on Pam Bondi in the fall, Sheldon won't be able to eclipse Crist who is running against Rick Scott." "George Sheldon's Back in Charlie Crist's Shadow."


Perry to Morgan

"Judge Belvin Perry to join John Morgan law firm."


"Battle over Bright Futures"

"The battle over Bright Futures has begun. But while Charlie Crist keeps criticizing Gov. Rick Scott over changes to the popular merit-based scholarship program in the years since Scott took office, some of the key changes were put in place while Crist was in the governor’s mansion." "Scott, Crist both face criticism for changes to Bright Futures program."


One trick pony

The public employee haters on the Tampa Trib editorial board bemoan what they call an "unfortunate lawsuit by the teachers union and other groups seeks to have Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship voucher program declared unconstitutional. The suit claims the vouchers divert money from public schools." "Taking school choice to court."


"Cause to regret"

The Tampa Tribune editors think "Florida lawmakers may have cause to regret not adopting legislation last session providing incentives to attract film projects." "Nurturing a film industry."

Monday, September 01, 2014

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

It is Labor Day. The National Labor Relations Act includes some language that may be surprising to some:

It is declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self- organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection. . . .

Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment . . . .

Even the Florida Constitution recognizes the fundamental right of Florida employees to unionize:
The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged.
Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.


SoFla Dems Stayed Home

Marc Caputo: "In midterm after midterm after midterm after midterm, Democrats have done an extraordinary job of suppressing (more like repressing, in a psychoanalytic sense) their own vote. Florida Democrats excel at being mediocre stewards of democracy when there’s a governor’s race."

That’s doubly true if you’re a South Florida Democrat.
"Look no further than the Tuesday primary."
Fewer than 840,000 of nearly 4.6 million registered Democrats cast their ballots in the primary — an 18.2 percent turnout — in which Crist beat longtime Democrat Nan Rich by a whopping 48.7 percentage points.

After the win, SurveyUSA’s tracking poll for WFLA-Tampa indicated Crist moved marginally ahead of Scott, 45-43 percent. That’s essentially a tie, with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie pulling 4 percent of the vote. . . .

So what did Southeast Florida do on Tuesday? Stayed home, by and large. Overall turnout was abysmal in Miami-Dade (14 percent), Broward (11 percent) and Palm Beach (13 percent). . . .

Compared to Democrats, Republicans had 19 more races for state House, state Senate and Congress combined on Tuesday’s ballot. That drove turnout.

Not only did the total ballots cast for the Republican candidates in the state House, state Senate and congressional races exceed the total ballots cast by Democrats — the margin between Republican and Democratic ballots in each type of legislative race exceeded the Republican-over-Democratic margin in the governor’s race.

That indicates thousands of Republicans were more fired up for their local candidates than for Scott, who didn’t have a true primary challenger of note.

"Florida Democrats’ biggest problem is ... Florida Democrats."


Hot races in St. Pete

"With the general election barely nine weeks away, Pinellas County’s legislative candidates are hitting the ground running in the days following the primary. The candidates will join a fiercely competitive governor’s race and the Greenlight Pinellas sales tax referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot. And as the legislative races heat up, some are proving more competitive than others." "After primary, Pinellas races heating up."


Remembering Joe Shoemaker on Labor Day

You won't find any mention of Florida labor martyr Joseph Shoemaker in the traditional media today, or on any other day for that matter. "One of the most notorious Klan incidents in Florida history occurred in Tampa in 1937, when labor organizer Joseph Shoemaker was flogged, castrated, and tarred and feathered. Shoemaker eventually died from his injuries." Although some of the killers were charged, all were eventually freed after a charming decision by the Florida Supreme Court.


Facebooking judge

"Facebooking judge asks state to toss out ethics charges."


Just a tax cut away

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott is beginning a two-week, 28-city campaign bus tour to promote proposed tax cuts as part of his re-election campaign." "Scott to begin two-week bus tour on tax proposals."


Dead Inmates

"The 2010 death of an inmate in a prison in the Panhandle is being investigated once again amid questions about the original investigation." "After Florida inmate’s lethal gassing, claims of cover-up."


"Half True" and "Mostly False"

"As Florida’s students return to school this month, we thought it was a good time to review PolitiFact Florida’s fact-checks." "Reviewing the record of Charlie Crist, Gov. Rick Scott on education."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.


Scott disses FlaBaggers, they blithely support him anyway

It is no secret that Florida's Teabaggers are nothing but a Republican front group, and this election cycle will prove no different. William March writes that "Crist isn’t the only candidate in the race to be governor who has undergone a change."

The tea party champion Rick Scott who harshly blasted the Republican establishment and promised to shrink Florida’s government when he ran for office in 2010 has become the consummate GOP political insider.

Today, he wheels and deals with the dealmakers he once said would be “crying into their cocktails” over his election, and he scores campaign points for increased spending on education and environmental restoration.

Big political donors Scott denounced in 2010 now pour six-figure contributions into his campaign, and Scott has powerful lobbyists and veteran political operatives as his closest advisers and backers.

Hypocrisy? Nah . . . FlaBaggers are all about beating Democrats, nothing more. As William March reports, notwithstanding Scott's flip floppery, Florida's 'Baggers "will still back him over Crist." March explains:
“I’d say right now the tea party is totally on board with Rick Scott,” said Karin Hoffman, a nationally known tea party leader from Broward County. “There’s not a single politician you agree with 100 percent, but It’s an easy side-by-side comparison with Crist.”
"Gov. Scott’s reboot caters less to tea party."


Meet the Legislature

Florida's newly minted HD 31 Representative is "the home-schooled daughter of North Lake Tea Party founder Patricia Sullivan," who is "taking online classes through Liberty University, an evangelical Christian university in Virginia." "At 23, she's youngest woman elected to Florida Legislature."


About John

"John Morgan: The man behind the medical pot drive."


Crist's "path to victory"

Adam Smith writes that the Crist campaign believes its "path to victory" is tied to Alex Sink’s narrow loss to Scott in 2010.

The plan essentially boils down to matching Sink’s performance — the former chief financial officer lost to Scott by 1.2 percentage points, less than 62,000 votes — and then, through sophisticated computer modeling, analytics and voter targeting, to modestly improve on her showing among various voter groups that make up Florida’s complicated electoral mosaic. . . .

Crist need not do dramatically better than Sink, just improve on the margins here and there.

"Based on interviews with senior members of the Crist campaign team, here are some opportunities and goals the team is focused on:"
• Win 42 percent or more of the white vote, compared to the 41 percent Sink won, according to exit polls. That includes matching or exceeding the 44 percent of white women Sink won in 2010.

• Win 49 percent of the Tampa Bay region, compared to the 46 percent Sink won.

• Win at least 52 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to the 48 percent Sink won.

• Win more Republican voters than Scott wins Democratic voters.

• Win at least 93 percent of the African-American vote and strive to increase black turnout from the 11 percent of the electorate it represented in 2010 toward the 14 percent it represented in 2012.

"Some of the advantages for Crist are organic as Florida’s population and electorate steadily grow less white and thereby less Republican. That’s particularly true in the increasingly Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade.
If Crist merely gets the same share of the vote as Sink did in Miami-Dade (56 percent), he would pick up 29,000 more votes than she did — almost half the margin of Scott’s victory in 2010. And if Democrats can ramp up turnout in Miami-Dade from the anemic 42 percent that voted in 2010 toward the 67 percent who voted in the 2012 presidential election, Crist could pick up tens of thousands of more votes.
Much more here: "Here is Charlie Crist's path to becoming Florida governor again."


"As they sling mud"

The Miami Herald's editors argue that "Gubernatorial candidates must address issues — even as they sling mud." "Nasty and expensive."


Bill Clinton stumps for Crist in SoFla

"Former President Bill Clinton is headed to Miami to stump at a campaign rally for Florida gubernatorial candidate Charile Crist." "Former President Clinton to speak at Crist rally."


Bondi fusses with locals over forfeiture millions

"Court records: Eslinger at odds with Bondi over $86 million forfeiture case."


"Scott’s shadow life"

Carl Hiaasen: "No Florida governor has ever operated with such jet-setting stealth, concealing so many details of his daily travels and contacts. He says he’s out working nonstop for the citizens of his adopted state, yet his official schedule is full of more gaps than the Nixon transcripts."

Occasionally, Floridians catch an intriguing glimpse of Scott’s shadow life. His secret hunting trip to a Texas game ranch courtesy of U.S. Sugar had been kept under wraps for more than a year before it was sniffed out by reporters from the Tampa Bay Times.

The governor still refuses to divulge who went with him, or whom he met. One known fact is that U.S. Sugar, an epic polluter of the Everglades, has donated more than $534,000 to Scott’s reelection campaign so far.

Read the rest here: "If you don’t ask, Rick Scott ...."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.


Desperate for votes, Scott throws open the cookie jar

"Gov. Rick Scott’s most ambitious proposal: a constitutional amendment to prevent property tax increases on homesteaded property if a home’s value stays level or goes down." "Gov. Rick Scott promises $1 billion in tax cuts for second term." See also "Scott promises new tax cuts for 2nd term."


Big guns come to SoFla

"The big guns are starting to come out in South Florida as congressional candidates in a tight race relied on national figures to help them raise funds before the end of August." "S. Florida Congressional Race Aided by National Party Leaders."


"There isn’t much" to Scott's eduction plan

"When Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his proposed education budget five months earlier than normal, his political opponents were quick to cast the move as an election-year stunt."

Scott is in a heated campaign against Democrat Charlie Crist, and education is a central issue in the Nov. 4 general election. Normally, a governor’s proposed spending plan isn’t released until January.

He is asking the Legislature to pass a $19.6 billion education budget, which would be the largest overall spending plan in history.

Hours after the announcement, the Republican Party of Florida was sending email blasts touting the record request to support education.

As it turns out, there isn’t much to the plan.

"Scott touts an education plan without much to it."


Legislature will compress time

"With a November election coming up, the Florida Legislature will compress the time it meets in committee before the yearly legislative session." "Legislature releases committee meeting plan."


Easy to ignore

"U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., continues her focus on the national political stage despite an aggressive Republican opponent waiting for her in November." "Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Focus Ignores GOP Foe Joe Kaufman."


Weekly Roundup

"Arrivals and Departures, Aug. 29, 2014." See also "Weekly Roundup: The Inevitable Battle Begins."


"The new Crist narrative"

Douglas MacKinnon writes that, in the Washington Post's "Charlie Crist, Rick Scott battle for every Florida vote", "some would say the Post was looking for a fresh news story. I would offer up the theory that in general, the liberal intelligentsia, the Obama White House and the national Democratic Party are starting to slip into panic mode as they watch the once double-digit lead of Crist morph into a three- to five-point lead for Scott. Independent of the White House or the Democratic Party, one could argue the Post — with its national following — is trying to warn and energize the base of the Democratic Party that the handpicked candidate in Florida may be in trouble." "The new Crist narrative doesn’t hold water."


All Aboard

"All Aboard Florida Foes Get Their Audience with DOT, Rick Scott's Office."


Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen snag free trips to China

"The trips are a popular perk on Capitol Hill and come with luxury hotel stays and visits to top tourist sites, including the Great Wall. The cost can exceed $10,000 a person." "Aides to Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen travel to China on trip sponsored by Chinese government."


Lee County opts out - testing repercussions nationwide

"Lee County Jumped into the Fire: Many Repercussions for Opting Out of Tests."


Recount review

"On Friday, banker Jay Fant was declared the winner of the Republican primary to replace Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, in the Florida House. After the Duval County elections supervisor held a machine recount and examined ballots, Fant beat attorney and Navy veteran Paul Renner by two votes: 5,962 to 5,960." "Jay Fant Holds Off Paul Renner by Two Votes in Jacksonville GOP Primary." See also "Fant wins House District 15 race by two votes."


A tuff bid'ness

"A couple that worked for a week promoting electoral candidates outside a voting precinct in Hialeah complained on Monday that the well-known political strategist Sasha Tirador had fired them and refused to pay them for the days worked." "Campaign workers say employer stiffed them on paychecks."


FlaDems unite around Crist

"'Unity' is the Byword for Florida Democrats Now." See also "Democrats embrace Charlie Crist at rallies in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale."

Some are less than impressed: "Unity Tour All Show, No Go."


Voucher litigation

"Legal challenge takes aim at Florida’s school voucher program."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.


FlaGOP's "Pants on Fire!"

"Charlie Crist's vow to change Florida law about insurance regulation during a Facebook Q&A on Aug. 6 was not liked by the Republican Party of Florida."

In answer to a voter's question, Crist said he would reinstate the state insurance commissioner's power to renegotiate 2015 health insurance rates in time to keep costs down.

"The fact that we have a law on the books under Rick Scott that says the Office of Insurance Regulation can't regulate insurance is astounding," Crist said. "We deserve better, you deserve better."

But the state Republican Party contradicted him. "Wrong, Charlie," the GOP's Facebook account wrote. "It's Obamacare that prevents OIR (the Office of Insurance Regulation) from regulating insurance … a law that you think is great even though premiums will go up by double digits for Floridians."

"Is the party right that the Affordable Care Act stopped Florida from regulating insurance?"
The 2010 Affordable Care Act said states had to follow minimum federal guidelines for insurance plans, like requiring that pre-existing conditions be covered. The health care law also required insurance companies to justify unreasonable rate increases, defined as more than 10 percent year over year. . . .

So the state GOP not only misrepresented the terms of the law, but it also implied it was to blame for the state's (temporary) regulatory woes. And it was mostly Republican lawmakers who spearheaded change to Florida law after the state rejected a $1 million federal grant to help improve the process.

Most other states regulate insurance rates without the difficulty the Republican Party of Florida claimed. We rate its statement Pants on Fire!

"PolitiFact Florida: GOP claim on Obamacare rated Pants on Fire." Related: "GOP Anti-Obamacare Strategy at an End? Not a Chance."


So much for Scott's "transparency"

"Records produced in a Tallahassee attorney’s quest to get documents show that top officials in Gov. Rick Scott’s office found ways to limit access to records despite vows of transparency." "Records show governor’s office put up barriers to public records."


"It’s not fixed"

Joe Henderson: "You may have heard there were thousands of complaints late last year when the new [unemployment computer] system was introduced on Oct. 15, but the state promised to get things fixed."

It’s not fixed.
"The state unemployment computer system that was fixed? It’s not fixed."


"Campaign devoid of a campaign"

"In the Democratic primary for governor, Charlie Crist is expected to roll up a big double-digit victory over Nan Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader who lacks money and name recognition." "Florida’s Charlie Crist and Nan Rich: the campaign devoid of a campaign."


Goin' local

"Tuesday's election focuses on local offices, issues."


Rubio at home in the heart of the Confederacy

"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is scheduled to speak at a fundraising barbecue for South Carolina Republicans." "Florida Sen. Marco Rubio boosting SC Republicans."


FlaGOP dances victory jig

"Congressional district boundaries redrawn by the Republican-led Florida Legislature were approved Friday by a judge, who also ruled that this year’s elections can continue using a 2012 map he had earlier invalidated." "Judge rules for Florida Legislature across board in redistricting case."


CD 26 hopefuls move on as Rivera is charged

"David Rivera’s four opponents in the Republican congressional primary have largely ignored the once-influential politician, preferring instead to focusing on Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia." "U.S. 26th District hopefuls move on as David Rivera is officially named in campaign rigging."


"What is wrong with you people?"

Gary Stein: thinks "the voting process is so ridiculously easy, it's laughable." Nevertheless,

number of voters Tuesday will be embarrassingly low, but hardly shocking. . . .

People have their excuses, of course.

They were busy taking kids to school. They were busy picking kids up. They were more concerned with the elections in New York than the elections here. They were busy worrying about whether Fluffy the dog would be returned to its owner in Boca Raton. The judicial candidates confuse them because the only judge they know is Judge Judy. It's hard to concentrate on voting when you have something like that on your mind.

So the very, very few who take the minimal amount of time needed to vote will have the biggest say in things that matter to everybody. They will vote on people who will spend your tax money, fix your streets, hire your cops and firefighters, restrict hours in parks and libraries, set policy the affects your school children, decide if you get fined or go to jail, things like that. It is to the point where one floor of people in a condominium can affect an entire local election, because nobody else cares.

Oh, they care enough to complain, to me and others, when things are screwed up in their city or county or the courthouse.

What is wrong with you people?

"Could voting be any easier? Of course." See also "A steady trickle of early voters turn out for final Sunday of balloting."


Yee Haw!

The Tampa Trib editors: "Hernando County School Board member John Sweeney compromised academic integrity to falsely puff up his son's high school scholastic record. A school district investigative report released last week showed Sweeney wanted a teacher fired for refusing to raise his son's poor grades, misled administrators by falsely indicating he had the superintendent's blessing, culled questions from a test as invalid to raise his son's scores, and portrayed the sophomore English class as an honors class in a failed attempt to improve the teenager's transcript. Yet Sweeney has the gall to seek re-election Tuesday, and Hernando voters should send him a clear message that they want better from their school board." "Editorial: School board member flunks Ethics 101."


Ethics Complaint

Steve Bousquet: "Gay-Marriage Issue At Heart Of Ethics Complaint In Miami-Dade Judicial Race"

1. Scott's victory margin

Unlike his bruising 2010 primary battle with Bill McCollum that produced a narrow victory, Scott's path to the Republican nomination is a breeze this time. He faces two opponents, Yinka Abosede Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, who are so obscure that any votes they get could only be interpreted as shunning Scott. It likely will not amount to much, but it will be interesting to see if Scott's percentage is lower in counties where some of his policies are less popular with the party base, such as in the Panhandle, where opposition is stronger to Scott's support for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

The other things to keep an eye on:
2. Charlie can't cruise

3. Will Democrats vote?

4. Chosing Bondi's challenger

5. More ballots should count

After years of being accused by Democrats of trying to suppress turnout, Republican legislators have taken recent steps to make voting easier. Counties can offer up to 14 days of early voting, including on the Sunday before the election. The expanded use of electronic poll books to verify IDs should reduce the number of provisional ballots because the devices allow instant updating of voters' address changes. For the first time in a statewide election, voters who forget to sign absentee ballot envelopes can cure the problem if they fill out an affidavit and provide proof of ID by 5 p.m. Monday. In past elections, unsigned absentee ballot envelopes were not counted.

"Five things to watch in Tuesday's primary."


Not everyone swooning over Charlie

"Charlie Crist Won Democrat[ic] Hearts But Other Voters Aren't Swooning."


Right next to the Wal-Mart

Aaron Deslatte: "Here's one aspect of Florida's medical-marijuana debate getting little airplay: Would the dispensaries be crowded into poor and minority neighborhoods?"

If voters statewide pass Amendment 2 this fall, the dispensaries have to open somewhere. Critics of legalizing marijuana such as Attorney General Pam Bondi and others have warned it could lead to pill-mill-like explosions of dispensaries "on every street corner." But there is some evidence that they may be concentrated in poorer, urban and disproportionately minority areas, not suburban strip malls.

A new study published this month in the Journal of the American Planning Association found evidence that the dispensaries are being concentrated in poorer, minority communities within states that have already legalized medical marijuana.

"Will medical-pot centers end up in low-income areas?."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.


Judge gives victory to GOP in map case

"A judge on Friday gave a victory to the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, rendering a decision that effectively forces voters to choose candidates in November based on a congressional map that he ruled was invalid because it favored the GOP."

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis approved a new congressional map that been swiftly adopted earlier this month during a special session. But he agreed with attorneys for the Legislature that there was no time to implement the new map before voters head to the polls this year. Florida’s primary is Tuesday.
"David King, an attorney for the groups that sued the Legislature over the district boundaries, said they were disappointed with the decision and planned to appeal the ruling."
The groups had been heartened by the judge’s July ruling invalidating the 2012 map but said the redrawn map offered little more than cosmetic changes and was still unconstitutional. They had hoped Lewis would either adopt a map proposed by them or draw up one on his own.
"Judge: Use flawed map for this election cycle." See also "Candidates reactions mixed over Lewis's ruling" and "Judge Lewis accept new maps."


"battle for equality rages on in the Sunshine State"

"It’s been nearly six years since Florida voters cast their ballots to ban same-sex marriage, but the battle for equality of marriage still rages on in the Sunshine State." "Fight to Legalize Gay Marriage Only Gets Hotter."


"Scott Ups the Ante on Education"

"Scott Ups the Ante on Education Spending; Oh, Pooh, Responds Crist."


"More concern for political influence than academic excellence"

The Tampa Tribune editors: "Two recent events highlight the political mess Tallahassee has made of Florida’s higher education system."

In Polk County last weekend, Florida Polytechnic celebrated its grand opening, with Gov. Rick Scott and other notables on hand for the festivities. . . . In Tallahassee, Florida State University has gone nearly six months without a president and, as the Tribune’s James Rosica reports, students and alumni are expressing their fury about the situation on a website developed to take comments on the search. Both situations are the direct result of the state showing more concern for political influence than academic excellence.
"Treating higher education as political toy."


Florida’s parties raise millions

"Florida Republicans and Democrats are spending millions they received this year from corporations and wealthy donors." "Florida’s 2 political parties raise millions."


Nary a "scientist" in sight

"In a TV show to be aired Sunday, four of the five contenders revealed disagreements over gay marriage, immigration and sea-level rise." "Miami GOP congressional candidates spar over key issues."


On the cheap

"Irizarry was a caseworker for Children's Home Society, a non-profit contractor for the Florida Department of Children and Families. It was his job to check on the safety of children who had been victimized by abuse and neglect." "Child welfare worker arrested in Rachel Fryer case."


"If you can’t beat them, join them"

Jeff Henderson is under the impression that, rather than smothering his opponents with money, "Scott upset Bill McCollum and beat Alex Sink by stressing his business background and how he would use that experience to be fiscally responsible in Tallahassee and keep the state government out of the way so the private sector would grow and create jobs. Despite Scott’s awkward public persona, it worked. Floridians gave Scott the keys to the car instead of career politician McCollum or Sink who had some private-sector credentials of her own."

Henderson now complains that

Scott’s attitude increasingly seems to be if you can’t beat them, join them. Scott is calling for an extra $800 million for transportation projects, called for $1 billion spending on the environment earlier this month and, on Thursday, boasted that he would raise education spending to its highest level based on per-student spending.
"Rick Scott Can't Let the Race Turn Into a Spending Contest."


Turnout down

"Early voting numbers down from 2012."


HD 61

"Those running in the House District 61 race, like most candidates, have been encouraging people to get out and vote. And they practice what they preach." "Dist. 61 candidates ask for your vote – and haven’t missed a vote themselves."


Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Weekly Roundup: Nobody's Perfect" and "Arrivals and Departures, Aug. 22, 2014."


Broward GOPers looking for volunteers

"A group of Republican activists, mostly from northwest Broward, has set up a political action committee to fund a volunteer mobilization effort on behalf of the party's 2014 candidates." "Republican group raising money to mobilize in northwest Broward." See also "Less than 100 days before election, Broward Republicans continue infighting."


Thurston gets boost

The Orlando Sentinel endorses "Thurston for Dems' AG." See also "Sheldon and Thurston Bogged Down in Last Days of Dem AG Primary."


The best Wisconsin can do?

Kevin Derby: "Having released a new book earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the U.S. House Budget Committee chairman and a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, hit Florida on Friday. Ryan was former Gov. Mitt Romney’s, R-Mass., running mate on the 2012 presidential ticket." "Paul Ryan Hits Florida With Questions About 2016 Left Hanging."


Southerland desperate

"The most vulnerable Republican congressman in Florida is going on the attack against his Democratic opponent as he focuses on his opposition to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law." "Steve Southerland Attacks Gwen Graham over Obamacare."


"Political Enemy No. 2"

"Unfazed by the Democratic critics who regard her as Political Enemy No. 2 – right behind the governor – Attorney General Pam Bondi touted her record Thursday as a fighter and vowed to continue the course after the November election."

"We don't have to moderate our message. We don't have to change, come up with some fancy new marketing plan. All we have to do is just stick to what we say we're going to do and do it," she told a gathering of 75 to 100 Republicans at the Palm Beach County Republican Party's 2014 election Victory Office.

Bondi described her fight against politically safe enemies: human traffickers, producers of synthetic drugs aimed at children, Internet predators, and doctors who recklessly prescribe addictive painkillers.

"Pam Bondi vows to keep fighting range of enemies."


Nan likes Nan

Nancy Smith: "At the End of the Day It's Nan Rich Who Embodies Character."


Dems crafting 2016 presidential nominating calendar

"Democrats are preparing to approve the 2016 presidential nominating calendar, setting the stage for a successor to President Barack Obama."

The Democratic National Committee, or DNC, was expected to adopt a schedule on Saturday that would begin with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016, followed by voting later that month in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The 2016 framework was in line with plans pushed by Republicans and gives states incentives to hold their primary contests between March and June, aiming to avoid a front-loaded calendar that encroaches on the Christmas holidays.
"Democrats to vote on 2016 primary calendar plan."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.


Scott unreceptive to climate change "teaching moment"

Update: The Tampa Trib editors: "Scott has heard the science, now he should act."

"After months of dodging questions about climate change, Gov. Rick Scott met today with a panel of climate scientists who have been trying to brief him on the human influence on global warming."

Then he quickly left the office without answering any questions. The scientists were Jeffrey Chanton of Florida State University, David Hastings of Eckerd College, and Ben Kirtman, John Van Leer and Harold Wanless of the University of Miami. . . .

Scott listened for half an hour with a throng of reporters watching, then excused himself without answering questions.

"Scott briefly sits with climate scientists." "Scientists arrived hoping for a ‘leadership’ moment from the governor on climate change but left concerned that his silence means he wants to continue to do nothing." "Gov. Rick Scott meets with scientists but remains silent on climate change." See also Scientists fear Scott avoids climate change."


League of Women Voters want new congressional maps

"A coalition of plaintiffs has asked a Tallahassee judge to redraw the state’s congressional maps and implement them for the 2014 midterm election. That request came from the plaintiffs, led by the League of Women Voters of Florida, who successfully challenged the state’s congressional maps in court." "Judge urged to redraw redistricting maps." See also "Black voters become focus in redistricting fight" and "Legislative lawyers ask court to consider role of Democratic operatives in redistricting case."


Another fine education Jebacy

"Florida at Back of the Pack in ACT Scores."


Failing Charters

"For children at two charter schools,"

the first day of school brought unwelcome news. The state Board of Education on Monday denied appeals from two failing charters to remain open after they earned consecutive failing grades.
"A bad couple days for Florida’s Charter Schools." See also "Want to see the list of Florida's 250 failed charter schools?"


CD 8

"In a congressional race that might otherwise be an uneventful re-election stroll for incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, Democratic nominee Gabriel Rothblatt is drawing attention for family connections that are fueling his run with money. Congressional District 8, which covers Indian River and Brevard counties and part of eastern Orange County to Bithlo, has a solid Republican-leaning voter base and a long history of backing Republicans." "Congressional candidate has faith in technology."


Scott promises to boost school funding

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott is promising to boost school funding in Florida to its highest levels if he is re-elected. . . . The state cut $1.3 billion from schools in 2011." "Gov. Scott promises to raise school funding again."


Crist focuses on Scott

"Charlie Crist focuses on Rick Scott, ignores primary foe."


FlaGOP "scrambling" to protect incumbents

"The Republican Party of Florida, which declined to discuss its strategy, spent $40,357 the first week of August in four of the five Senate contests in which sitting members have drawn GOP opponents." "Florida Republicans ‘scrambling’ to protect state Senate incumbents."


"Redistricting Redux"

"The authors and critics of Florida's re-drawn congressional map were back in a courtroom Wednesday haggling over the same seat that sparked their two year legal fight: the African-American-leaning district of Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville." "Redistricting Redux in the courtroom." See also "Black voters become focus in redistricting fight as both side claim to offer better protections," "Soto: Hispanics might lose clout" and "Black voters become focus in redistricting fight."


"Whoda thunk"

Adam C. Smith: "Whoda thunk you'd see Democratic consultant Steve Schale pounding the pavement in Pinellas County on behalf of Republican state House candidate Chris Latvala?"

Schale, after all, is one of the brightest lights in Florida Democratic political circles, having helped Obama win Florida twice and now helping Charlie Crist, try to unseat Gov. Rick Scott. And House District 67 at least on paper should be one of the more competitive districts in Florida, one in which some credible Democrats are running.
"Who's that big shot Dem campaigning for GOP Fla House candidate?."


Taddeo has never before held a public office

"Should anything happen to the state's top executive, this is the person who will assume responsibility for running Florida. And in the case of Taddeo, that means one of the largest states in the union could possibly be led by someone who has never before held a public office. In fact, someone who has lost the only two elections she's previously entered." "Crist's lieutenant governor choice would cause outrage, if anyone cared."


Good luck asking Rick Scott about King Ranch

On YouTube: "Ask Rick Scott on King Ranch Trip (08-19-2014)."


Shaping the region's politics

"Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been one of the leading figures in South Florida politics for three decades now and she continues to shape the region's politics by throwing her support to Republican allies." "Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Works to Shape S. Florida's Elections Next Week."


Funny how that works

"The group was founded and is funded by United Auto Insurance, which appears frequently in court cases against personal injury lawyers." "Auto insurance political committee flexes muscle in Miami judicial races."


Latvala wades in

"Influential Republican State Sen. Jack Latvala is not endorsing any of the seven Republicans running for the Pinellas County Commission District 4 seat being vacated by his former wife, Susan Latvala, who is retiring from office. But he isn’t being shy about saying whom he does not want elected." "Sen. Latvala pans Pinellas GOP candidate."


"In the convoluted, money laundering world of Florida politics . . ."

Steve Bousquet: "Those recent robocalls to Democratic voters featuring the voice and the conservative views of former Republican Charlie Crist have prompted Democrats to file a formal complaint with the Florida Elections Commission. Their target is Republican Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon."

Lee engineered what he said were about two million robocalls to voters, using the same calls Crist used in his successful 2006 Republican campaign for governor, in which he called himself a pro-life, Ronald Reagan Republican who opposed same sex marriage and supported public display of the 10 Commandments -- views now starkly at odds with Crist the Democrat. Lee has taken responsibility for the robocalls and used a long-dormant electioneering communications organization (ECO) called Conservatives, which also created a web site featuring all of Crist's audio clips at www.charlieinhisownwords.com. . . .

Conservatives is headed by Stafford Jones, a Republican activist from Gainesville and a behind-the-scenes player in state politics. Conservatives' largest donor ($7,500) was Innovate Florida, a political committee run by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. In the convoluted, money laundering world of Florida politics, Conservatives also got $5,000 from a committee that calls itself Jobs for Florida, which got a $2,500 check from the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a group that supports Crist's candidacy for governor.

The complaint was filed by Allison Tant, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party. It cites a state law, Ch. 106.147(1)(c), which states that "No telephone call shall state or imply that the caller represents any person or organization unless the person of organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to make such representation."

"Tom Lee's robo-rewind on Crist prompts complaint by Democrats."


Putnam still won’t answer questions

"Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam still won’t answer key questions about his trips to King Ranch, where he and other top Florida Republican elected officials have visited." "Gov. Rick Scott and Adam Putnam disclose a few more details on King Ranch trips."


Federal prosecutor names Rivera as co-conspirator

"A federal prosecutor identified former congressman David Rivera as a co-conspirator in a campaign-finance scheme to prop up a little-known candidate in the 2012 Democratic primary." "David Rivera named co-conspirator as friend pleads guilty in campaign-finance case."


Crist votes early

"The man campaigning to be governor again came home to St. Petersburg on Monday to vote early in the Florida primary." "Crist casts early ballot."