Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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

Scott on verge of dipping into his wallet for $20 million more

Gary Stein: "It is time for Gov. Rick Scott to bring out the heaviest hitter in his political arsenal."

We’re talking about his wallet.

After spending more than $75 million of his own money to get into the governor’s mansion four years ago, Scott is now in pretty much a dead heat with Charlie Crist as they head into tonight’s final debate, and then the last two weeks of a campaign that has turned off so many voters.

According to a report in the Miami Herald, Scott has spent $56 million on ads, more than double what Crist has spent.

But still, they are tied.

When asked if he would spend his own money as the campaign winds down, Scott replied "we'll see." Rumors are he might spend as much as $20 million more.

"Tuesday: Will Rick Scott spend his millions to win the election?."

"A heated moment"

"For a live hour on CNN and in TV stations across Florida, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist disagreed, distorted each others’ records and exchanged insults." "Final Florida governor’s debate between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott: nasty and personal."

"A heated moment came when Crist accused Scott of delaying an execution so that his attorney general could attend a political fundraiser."

"She asked me to delay it because it didn't work on the dates that she thought it was going to be on," Scott said in response. "She apologized."

In September 2013, Pam Bondi apologized for delaying the planned execution of Marshall Lee Gore, a notorious rapist and murderer, because it conflicted with a fundraiser.

Scott denied at the time that he knew the reason for the delay.

"Did you know it was for a political fundraiser?" Crist pressed.

"What would you like her to do?" Scott asked.

Crist went on to blast Scott for not answering questions.

"Florida debate turns bitter over executions." See also "Few holds barred in final Crist-Scott debate before election" and "Final Florida governor’s debate between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott: nasty and personal."

Bogdanoff agin' Sachs

"SD34: Can Ellyn Bogdanoff Beat Maria Sachs in the Rematch?."

CD 2

"Conservatives and Pelosi Lieutenants Roll into CD 2."

Q Poll

Here's today's Q poll. Although Scott and Crist are now "tied" 42 - 42 among likely voters, the most recent survey on September 24 had Scott with 44 percent of likely voters, and Crist trailing with 42 percent.

More: "Democratic chair: Election is 'neck and neck'," "Poll: Scott, Crist in dead heat in governor’s race," "'No Nice Guys' in Deadlocked Scott-Crist Race, Says Q-Pollster," "Poll: Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are deadlocked and "Poll: Scott is from Mars, Crist is from Venus."

Rubio proposes travel ban

"Marco Rubio Launches Ebola Travel Ban Bill."

First Amendment right to be a "conduit" in Sunshine Law violation?

"An Orange County judge on Tuesday dismissed a charge of breaking the state's public meeting laws against former state representative-turned-lobbyist Chris Dorworth."

Judge Tanya Davis Wilson, who was set to start jury selection Thursday, ruled Dorworth's First Amendment right to free speech was violated by the misdemeanor charge against him.

"A private citizen has a protected constitutional right to communicate with public officials or members of a public body about matters that may come before that body," Wilson wrote. lRelated Former toll road board member Scott Batterson sentenced to 7-1/2 years in prison

Dorworth's attorney, Richard Hornsby of Orlando, said, "I'm pleased. I thought this was a flawed prosecution from the beginning." Orange/Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton said he "respectfully disagrees" with Wilson and intends to appeal the decision.

Dorworth's prosecution was believed to be the first time a conduit was charged under the Sunshine law in the state, officials with Florida's First Amendment Foundation said.

"Sunshine Law case against Chris Dorworth dismissed."

Slade passes

"Tom Slade: Republican Party leader for Florida was influential, colorful."

October 22, 2014 Q Poll - Gov Race Is Dead Heat

"Women and men are polar opposites in the Florida governor's race, as likely voters split 42 - 42 percent between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, with 7 percent for Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today."

This compares to results of a September 24 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, showing Gov. Scott with 44 percent of likely voters, Crist with 42 percent and Wyllie with 8 percent.
"October 22, 2014 - Florida Gov Race Is Dead Heat, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds."

Monday, October 20, 2014

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

"Thinly-veiled partisan power grab"

"A low-profile ballot proposal that supporters say would avert a constitutional crisis but opponents say is nothing more than a thinly-veiled partisan power grab is headed to voters in November, possibly with the future of the Florida Supreme Court at stake." "Amendment 3 Could Determine Future of Court." More: "Voters face big decisions on 3 amendments."

Scott "too often let his hard-right ideology dictate his policies"

The conservative Orlando Sentinel slams Scott: in choosing between incumbent Republican Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, "voters have the unusual advantage of being able to compare their terms in office."

If we shut out the cacophony of the campaign, and both candidates' flip-flops, our comparison of their records leads us to an inescapable conclusion. We recommend Charlie Crist.
"Though he ran as a conservative Republican in 2006, Crist governed as a moderate. He showed more interest in doing what was in the best interest of all Floridians than in placating his party base. Scott, by contrast, has too often let his hard-right ideology dictate his policies."
Scott has carried out a series of needlessly divisive policies as governor: shortening early voting, which contributed to the nation's worst lines in the 2012 elections; ordering drug tests for welfare applicants and state employees, until the courts stopped both programs; signing a bill that Crist had vetoed requiring ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.

The Legislature's Republican leaders have been partners with Scott in these policies. Florida would be less prone to ideological extremes if power in Tallahassee were better balanced between the parties. That's a final argument for voters in this race to pick a Democrat — even a newly minted one like Crist.

"Our choice for governor: Crist."

GOP poll dismisses "Fangate Effect"

"Widely reported and heavily mocked, the ‘Fangate’ from Wednesday’s governor’s debate doesn’t appear to have had any effect on the race, according to a new poll from the Republican-leaning firm 0ptimus that shows the contested remains tied." "0ptimus FL poll : Rick Scott tops Charlie Crist 41-40, no Fangate Effect found."

Columnist: When You compare actual records, "It's Crist by a landslide"

Scott Maxwell writes that "'Fangate' was the perfect piece of petty nonsense to encapsulate the petty, nonsensical campaign Floridians are being forced to endure this year."

Maxwell continues, "We still have one more debate to go. But I have to tell you:"

I'm done.

I am done listening to the yapping, the attacking and the lies. I'm done listening to two men who vilify each other far more than they speak about their own ideas.

"And I suggest you do the same. Here's why:"
Nothing these men say now means squat compared to their actual records. Why listen to constant attacks when you can look at proven actions?

And when I look at those, it's not even close.

It's Crist by a landslide.

"Forget fans, ads: Look at records in governor's race."

Early voting

"Early voting starts Monday." More: "Early voting starts today in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee" and "Early voting begins today in Pinellas County." See also "How to vote early."

"Pay attention to the legislative contests"

"The governor's race has top billing, but pay attention to the legislative contests as well. The Legislature, even more than the governor, has the power to shape the future of Florida." "For Florida House, incumbent candidates are hard to beat." See e.g., "HD 89: Can GOP Lean Help Bill Hager Beat David Silvers?."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

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

Rick Scott's very own "He-Buffoon" moment

Daniel Ruth: "If Rick Scott goes down in defeat two weeks from now, he might well attribute his electoral misfortune to a bizarre night in Davie when the Florida governor had his very own "He-Buffoon" moment."

Wednesday night, over the space of six short minutes, Rick Scott defined himself as a petulant, prickly pansy trying to wriggle out of a debate against Democrat Charlie Crist because his opponent had installed a small fan at the foot of his lectern.
"Fan dance in Broward." More: "From Favorite to Fanghazi: The Two Worst Days of Gov. Rick Scott’s Re-Election Campaign."

More: "#fangate social media." Jon Stewart: "Jon Stewart Finds Florida's Biggest Problem Might Be Sweaty Balls."

Crist no longer required to dance for FlaBaggers

"There’s no question Crist’s positions on some issues have changed substantially since he was considered a conservative in a comparatively moderate state Senate during the 1990s. But the story behind those changes takes many turns. In some cases, political expediency apparently was involved; in others, Crist says, he was responding to changing circumstances or simply growing older and wiser." "Crist calls changes in position evolution, foes call them flipping."

Election may be won by the time the polls open

"With the race for governor in a dead heat and more than half of Florida's voters likely to cast their ballots before Election Day, the contest could be won or lost by the time the polls open on Nov. 4 — prompting intense efforts by Charlie Crist and Rick Scott to win those prized early votes." "People who vote before Election Day could decide outcome of governor's race."


The Miami Herald, "Charlie Crist for governor" and Orlando Sentinel: "Our choice for governor: Crist." And then there's the Tampa Trib.

Will lame-duck governors make judicial appointments?

The Miami Herald editors: "Don’t let lame-duck governors make future judicial appointments."

Bean counters running the show

"Hillsborough River State Park, Fort DeSoto, the Babcock Ranch Preserve critical to Florida panthers in South Central Florida, first-magnitude springs that manatees call home." "Saving state’s beauty or tying budget-makers’ hands?."

"Scott Privatized, Inmates Died"

"Between 2008 and 2013, Corizon Health -- the country's largest prison health care provider -- was sued 660 times for malpractice. But Governor Rick Scott's administration failed to take note of this history when it awarded Corizon a $1.2 billion contract in 2011. Now an investigation by The Palm Beach Post reveals that Florida inmates have been dying in droves since the state privatized prison health care." "Inmates Dying After Governor Rick Scott Outsources Prison Health Care."

"Long-shot opponents"

"Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens drew little-known reelection challengers." "2 South Florida races pit well-known congresswoman against long-shot opponents."

Curbelo exploits "loophole" to hide lobbying clients

"By putting his government and public relations firm under his wife’s name, Carlos Curbelo has avoided having to publicly disclose his clients." "Loophole allows Miami candidate to keep firm clients secret."

Garcia in one of the most competitive races in the country

"One of the most competitive congressional races in the country pits Rep. Joe Garcia, a freshman Democrat, against Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo." "Miami Rep. Joe Garcia faces tough challenge from Carlos Curbelo."

Scott desperate to show signs of leadership

"CDC Agrees to Two of Gov. Scott's Requests for Ebola Safeguards."

Wyllie on the move

"Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie is scheduled to make a campaign stop in South Florida on Sunday with a Calle Ocho visit to La Carreta restaurant in Miami." "Libertarian candidate stumps in Miami on Sunday."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider becoming a site fan on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Please consider giving a newspaper subscription as a gift and/or buying one or more subscriptions for delivery to your workplace. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Scott’s sudden absence at the start of debate reshapes the race

Steve Bousquet, Amy Sherman and Marc Caputo write that

Gov. Rick Scott’s sudden absence at the start of a statewide TV debate reshaped the governor’s race Thursday as event sponsors accused Charlie Crist of breaking the rules and Scott’s side fretted over whether he damaged his re-election prospects.
"A day after fangate, Rick Scott feels blowback." See also "Will 'fangate' swing Florida's gubernatorial fight?." More: "Will 'fangate' swing Florida's gubernatorial fight?."

Meanwhile, Nancy Smith works hard to explain Rick Scott's side of "fangate, writing that: "Charlie Crist didn't have to answer a single question to win the gubernatorial debate Wednesday night. All he had to do is break the rules and take advantage.""Charlie Cheated ... Quick! Look the Other Way!." More: "Fact check: Did rules of debate say there would be no fan?." See also "Backroom Briefing: Fanning the Controversy" and "Yes, Charlie Crist Did Break the Debate Rules, Organizers Say."

"Mutual smear job"

The Miami Herald editors write that "Rick Scott and Charlie Crist deserve a D for their media campaigns in the race for governor: D for dismal, dispiriting, discouraging and downright disappointing. The campaign has been a downer."

Both candidates have spent tens of millions of dollars on negative ads. Thanks to the mutual smear job, the public is turned off. Negative ads are a common feature of campaigns, but nastiness shouldn’t dominate a race.

Both Mr. Scott and Mr. Crist have spent most of their resources disparaging each other, or arguing over silly matters, like the fan at Wednesday night’s debate. A brief review of their records may remind voters that the candidates have a positive side.

The editors review their records here: "Beyond the negative ads."

Scott musta gave at the office

"According to tax returns he released this week, Gov. Rick Scott and his wife gave 0.8 percent of their $8.2 million income in 2013 to charity, a significant drop over the previous three years." "Charitable giving by Scott, wife, drops significantly."

"Financing Kept Suspiciously Secret"

Nancy Smith "All Aboard Florida's New Financing Kept Suspiciously Secret, Attorney Says."

Crist has a history (with his fan)

"The fan that created a nationwide uproar in Wednesday’s TV debate is never far from Charlie Crist, who keeps a portable fan handy whenever he knows he’s going to be on camera." "Charlie Crist and his portable fan have a history together." Meanwhile, "Fan friction propels Crist at Pasco rally."

Bondi cruising

"From her unwavering defense of Florida’s ban on gay marriage to her outspoken opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act, Attorney General Pam Bondi is known for setting off critics." "Incumbent Pam Bondi cruising in attorney general race."

Amendment 3

"Florida voters will be asked to decide which governor has the right to replace retiring justices on the state Supreme Court during a change of administrations." "Politics, power play role in Amendment 3."

HD 36

"Anyone who paid attention to last year’s state House District 36 special election might have expected a repeat of Pasco’s most expensive — and perhaps nastiest — campaign." "Murphy, Gregg vie for District 36."

They wish

"The campaign of Republican congressional candidate Carol Platt has released internal poll results that show her 5 points down in her effort to unseat Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando."

The poll, by Republican pollster Data Targeting of Gainesville, finds Grayson leading Platt 40 percent to 35 percent, with independent candidate Marko Milakovich getting 7 percent and 18 percent unsure or refusing to answer. . . .

The make-up used by the pollsters included 41 percent Democratic respondants, 39 percent Republicans and 20 percent "other." The actual voter registration in District 9 includes 42 percent Democrats, just 25 percent Republicians and 33 percent other.

"Platt poll shows her close in Grayson race."

Child protection a political football

"During the first two debates in Florida’s hard-fought gubernatorial race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott said child protection has improved on his watch — especially compared to the record of his challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist." "Crist, Scott trade barbs over child protection."

Write-in candidate reinstated in HD 64 race

"A write-in candidate will be reinstated in the race for Florida House District 64, now held by Republican Jamie Grant, an appellate court ruled Thursday." "Court ruling will likely delay House District 64 election."

HD 63

Jeff Henderson: "HD 63: Can Mark Danish Beat Shawn Harrison Without Obama's Coattails?."

Scott passes buck on Medicaid coverage to roughly 1 million uninsured Floridians

"Local city officials and health advocates will rally in St. Petersburg to convince state lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage to roughly 1 million Floridians under the federal health law."

Medicaid expansion has been one of the biggest issues in the tight race between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist says he'll call a special session or pass it through executive order. Scott says he'll let the Legislature duke it out and only supports it as long as the federal government pays 100 percent of the bill.
"Advocates to rally for Florida Medicaid expansion."

Brain Trust

"Incoming Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, named some of his leadership team on Thursday as he readies to take the gavel." "Steve Crisafulli Starts to Name Florida House Leadership."

Does this really help?

"Post-Debate, Former Opponent Marco Rubio Tears into Charlie Crist."

Scott talks Ebola; really?

"After ‘Fangate,’ Gov. Rick Scott shifts the conversation to Ebola." See also "Rick Scott Wants More Help from Feds on Ebola."

Crist stumps with first lady

"In one of his first public appearances since Charlie Crist’s trusty fan took center stage during a debate, the Florida gubernatorial candidate made hay of it during rallies with Michelle Obama on Friday in Orlando and Miami Gardens." "Crist stumps with first lady — and his trusted fan." See also "In Orlando, Michelle Obama urges early voting — for Crist."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: The Winds of War." See also "Arrivals and Departures, Oct. 17, 2014."

Looming climate-change regulations

"The guys who want your vote for governor have both made themselves out to be friends of Florida green spaces, waters and environmentally threatened ecosystems. But there's one major environmental issue neither Gov. Rick Scott or former Gov. Charlie Crist has touched: the looming climate-change regulations Washington announced last summer that have the potential to make a big dent in the country's carbon emissions." "EPA's clean-power rules loom over next governor."

"Questions remain" about Scott's tax returns

"Gov. Rick Scott waited until the final day of the extension deadline to file his 2013 tax return, in which he reported $8 million in mostly investment income." "Gov. Rick Scott releases 2013 tax returns; questions remain."

Scott a dead-ender on gay marriage

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, and former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-now-Democrat, take opposing sides whether to strike the state’s constitutional gay marriage ban." "Rick Scott supports, Charlie Crist opposes Florida’s same-sex marriage ban (with debate video)."

Amendment 1

"Amendment 1: Saving state’s beauty or tying budget-makers’ hands?."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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

"The debate was over before it started"

"The live televised debate between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and challenger Charlie Crist got off to one of the most bizarre starts in political history Wednesday night when Scott initially refused to take the stage because of a fan. Yes, a fan."

The governor said Crist was in violation of debate rules prohibiting electronic devices by placing a small fan underneath his lecturn. Debate moderators initially said Scott had decided he would not appear in the debate at all because of the rules violation.

Some in the crowd at Broward College hooted and booed at the announcement.

Crist was bemused, saying, "That's the ultimate plead of the 5th (amendment) I've heard in my life."

"Rick Scott, Charlie Crist debate gets off to bizarre start over rogue fan."

See also "PolitFact Florida reviews debate beyond ‘fangate’," "'Fangate' delays start of Rick Scott, Charlie Crist debate," "Mayo: Forget issues, Crist-Scott now all about the fan," "Florida governor debate reflects nasty campaign" and "‘Fan’ dispute overshadows sharp debate between Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott."

This from the reliably conservative Kevin Derby: "The debate was over before it started."

When Gov. Rick Scott didn't immediately come out on stage in Wednesday night’s debate against former Gov. Charlie Crist at Broward College due to concerns about the Democrat using his ubiquitous fan, the governor lost the debate right off the bat. The Crist team quickly took to Twitter, insisting under the agreed-upon rules their candidate was allowed to have his fan.

Crist’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sent out emails before the debate was over, mocking Scott’s decision. . . .

With his momentary protest over the fan, Scott lost control of the narrative of Wednesday night’s debate, no matter what he said about education, the Second Amendment or the economy. Scott’s handlers seriously hurt their candidate in what is shaping up as a close contest -- over a fan. This was a major unforced error by the Scott team.

"The Senseless Scott Meltdown Over Crist's Fan."

See also "Fangate Flap Stirs a Chill Wind in Charlie Crist-Rick Scott Debate" and "Top 10 Tweets from Rick Scott-Charlie Crist Debate."

"Communications breakdown"

"A communications breakdown between state and county elections officials looks like it will cost more than $13,000 in unanticipated expenses that will be picked up by Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott out of her taxpayer-funded budget."

The glitch was the result of Kourtney Ann Waldron, a write-in candidate for Florida House in District 53, dropping out of the race last month.

Waldron on Sept. 11 notified the Florida Department of State's Division of Elections of her decision to withdraw.

But the state did not pass the information on to Scott's office before ballots were printed a week later. So the local ballots, including absentee ballots, included a line for a write-in candidate in the District 53 race.

"State's write-in glitch costs Brevard $13,000 to fix."

Will the South save the Dems?

The Miami Herald editors: "Could the South save the Democrats?."

"How journalism in the capital of the fourth-largest state in America ends"

Adam Weinstein: "The capital of Florida used to have a good newspaper, I’m told. It’s hard to know, because by the time I started working there — 2006 — Knight Ridder had sold the Tallahassee Democrat to Gannett, the cigarette-perfumed, drunken used-car salesman of media corporations, and the paper was a ghost of itself."

There was always a handful of talented, dedicated writers and reporters who dodged each successive set of layoffs and furloughs and dumbing-downs of stories (which came to be called “content,” in the newsroom, which came to be called the “information center”). But their number was constantly shrinking.

Three or four of those good people, but no more, even survived the latest and worst bloodbath: On Tuesday, cost-conscious Gannett ensured its profit margins with stealth layoffs. It had made the existing staff compete for a limited number of new jobs with Orwellian titles (“content coach”?) and sent the rest packing.

This is how journalism in the capital of the fourth-largest state in America ends: in a corporate game of musical chairs. But the story of the Democrat’s decomposition is a deeper cautionary tale on how monopoly media can turn a vibrant, growing community into a cloistered cultural backwater.

As I’ve suggested before, if you’re jonesing for the Seminole Boosters party line, Comcast cheerleading, godawful grammar, action shots of the Florida State cowgirl’s cleavage, or good birdcage lining, you’ll love the Tallahassee Democrat.

If you have enough brain cells to rub together, you won’t love it — and for that, you should blame the musical-chairs maestro: Executive Editor Bob Gabordi, who carpetbagged into town in 2005 and set about turning a once-mighty community and state news organization into a clearinghouse for deep-pocketed flacks and hacks.

"Bloodbath at Deteriorating Tallahassee Democrat Is Newspapers’ Latest For-Profit Suicide."

Scott's Lt. Gov. family profited from statehouse campaign

"Relatives of Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera formed a political consulting business and collected a total of $37,500 in 2008 and 2010 from his campaign for the statehouse — and it was perfectly legal." "Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s relatives profited from his statehouse campaign."

If only the rules allowed

The Miami Herald editors: "Debates may help voters decide which gubernatorial candidate to vote for, instead of against — if the rules allow." "Scott/Crist debate could clarify issues for voters, if rules allow."

Another Herald editorial: "A classical guide to debate."

Crist holds a consistent, but very slight edge

SurveyUSA 10/14/2014 poll: "Charlie Crist is 4 points in front of Rick Scott, according to WFLA-TV's weekly tracking poll conducted by SurveyUSA. Crist today gets 45%, Scott 41%. On 09/30/14, Crist led by 6 points. On 10/07/14, Crist led by 2 points. Today, Crist leads by 4 points. In 8 tracking polls going back to August 2014, Scott has led 4 times, Crist has led 4 times. Week-on-week, favorable and unfavorable opinions of the two candidates are unchanged." "For 3rd Consecutive Week, Democrat Crist Atop Incumbent Republican Scott in Florida Governor's Contest."

Real Clear Politics' poll average: "Crist has bounced back in recent polling, and now holds a [very] slight edge in the RCP Average." "Florida Governor - Scott vs. Crist." See also Huffington Post's poll average: "2014 Florida Governor: Scott vs. Crist" and "Rick Scott and Charlie Crist Locked in the Polls."

An outlier from a reliably FlaGOP poll: "Gravis Poll: Scott up 2."

"Into the full light of day"

Nancy Smith: "The Florida Press Association's questionable alliances were bound to catch up with this once-venerable, 134-year-old organization. I knew it would happen -- just not quite so soon. It took Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie to connect the dots and flush them into the full light of day -- something none of the rest of us in the press apparently had the guts to do, even though we all could see what's been happening." "Not Your Father's Florida Press Association."

"What the ads don't say"

"Gov. Rick Scott and fellow Republicans are spending millions of dollars on TV ads attacking Democratic challenger Charlie Crist for raising taxes and fees by $2.2 billion when he was governor, letting state universities raise tuition by up to 15 percent each year and allowing a power company to charge customers billions for a nuclear plant it will never build. What the ads don't say is that Scott's very own running mate, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and other top Republicans voted for all those same policies." "Florida Gov. Scott Blasts Rival Crist With TV Ads" ("The probability that Crist will beat Scott is 50.8%.")

Debate centers on ethics

"Joe Garcia and Carlos Curbelo bickered over ethics and highlighted their differences over Obamacare, the minimum wage and Cuba." "Debate between Miami congressional candidates centers on ethics."

"Republicans are hoping"

Jeff Henderson: "Karen Castor Dentel may come from one of the most prominent Democratic families in Florida but that might not be enough to help her win a second term in the Florida House. Castor Dentel beat Scott Plakon in 2012 but that Republican had moved over from his Seminole County base to HD 30 in order to help Chris Dorworth. Republicans are hoping they can grasp this seat back as Bob Cortes runs against Castor Dentel in November." "HD 30: Can Bob Cortes Overcome Karen Castor Dentel's Name and Cash Advantages?."

"Taxpayers are subsidizing low turnouts"

"Taxpayers are subsidizing low turnouts with spring elections."


"U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., sent a letter to Obama and members of his administration on Tuesday, asking what they plan to do to combat Ebola. Besides Obama, Rooney also wrote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and CDC Director Tom Frieden on the matter. Rooney ripped Obama’s handling of Ebola and the current crisis in the Middle East and called for Congress to return to Washington to tackle the matters." "Florida Officials Continue to Push Obama on Ebola Readiness."

First lady in Orlando

"First lady to headline Charlie Crist rally."

"Calmer Tone"

"The candidates in one of the nation's most-watched congressional races toned down the rhetoric in their second and final debate Wednesday, as Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland and Democratic challenger Gwen Graham found some common ground." "Debate Brings Calmer Tone to Southerland-Graham Race."

Why is Bucher contracting with a right-wing publisher?

"Two years after Bucher's office sent out judicial-rentention questions without section headings on absentee ballots in 423 of the county's 842 precincts, history repeated itelf ... well ... sort of."

New sample ballots will be in the mail by the end of the week to some 740,000 Palm Beach County voters after another printing company error went undiscovered. . . .

A watermark identifying the ballots as samples was so dark it blocked some text on the ballots and rendered some candidate names and other words illegible. The bad batch went out to every registered Palm Beach County voter who didn't sign up to vote absentee.

The story was reported in the Sun Sentinel, whose parent company -- [the conservative] Tribune Publishing -- also owns Tribune Direct, the vendor Bucher hired to print the sample ballots.

"Another Election Year, Another Susan Bucher Ballot Screw-Up."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

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

"A partisan ideologue"

Even the conservative Orlando Sentinel editorial board has had it with Pam Bondi: "When Pam Bondi became Florida's first female attorney general in January 2011, some who had known her as a prosecutor in Tampa had hopes she would be a real problem-solver, not a partisan ideologue. "

Those hopes faded quickly.

Just two months later, as a member of the Parole Board, Bondi enthusiastically voted to make Florida the toughest state for ex-felons to regain their civil rights. She ignored former Gov. Jeb Bush's Ex-Offender Task Force, which concluded that easier rights restoration would help Florida by motivating more ex-felons to stay straight.

Most recently, Bondi has continued her defense of Florida's same-sex marriage ban, despite five court rulings against it.

Same-sex marriage, however, is just one of many issues where Bondi has acted against the interests of the state and its people. In February, she joined a lawsuit opposing cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the urgency here of restoring the Everglades after decades of abuse from agricultural runoff, Bondi sided in that case with the American Farm Bureau and the Fertilizer Institute.

"Compared to other attorneys general, Bondi also was passive in the multi-state lawsuit against financial companies. She has never intervened on behalf of consumers in a utility rate case, unlike her three predecessors, from both parties. She sued BP very late after the oil explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. She has no major consumer protection victories."
Last year, she talked about joining a lawsuit against Donald Trump's online university. Later, the Trump Foundation donated $25,000 to a committee supporting Bondi. She has not joined the lawsuit.

Bondi waited eight months before visiting the Miami office that is the center of the fight against Medicaid fraud. And two years after she took office, the fraud unit had 23 vacancies. Yet Bondi has found time to argue against the Affordable Care Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. She lost, as she lost her defense of Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to drug-test welfare recipients and the Legislature's stealth attempt to privatize prisons through budget language, rather than legislation.

Bondi demonstrated similar poor judgment last September when, to accommodate her campaign kick-off event, she asked the governor to postpone the execution of double-murderer Marshall Lee Gore, delaying justice.

"Sheldon for Atty. General."

"Far right froths"

Daniel Ruth: "the pillar of salt community, like the Florida Family Policy Council's John Stemberger, argue [that] lifting the gay marriage bans "dilutes and devalues marriage." But how?" "Far right froths as rest of nation yawns."

"Easier said than done"

"As outrage increases over electric rates, particularly in Charlie Crist’s home county of Pinellas, Crist is promising that if elected governor, he’ll 'completely overhaul' the state Public Service Commission that regulates them." "Crist ‘overhaul’ of utility panel easier said than done."

All this and no surprises . . .

The Tampa Trib editors surprise no one with this: "Editorial: Re-elect Rick Scott." Oh yeah, the other FlaGOPers are just fine too: "Tribune endorsements: Bondi for attorney general; Putnam for agriculture commissioner; Atwater for CFO."

Equally unsurprising, the Tampa Bay Times editors like Mr. Crist, writing that "Charlie Crist understands this state and cares about its people and their aspirations, their struggles to make ends meet and their dreams for the future. His return to the Governor's Mansion would advance Florida's best interests and send a message that the concerns of average Floridians are more important than big money and rigid ideology." "Charlie Crist for governor."

"Democrats barely bother"

"Despite an electorate split down the middle that voted for Barack Obama for president twice, half of Florida's All-Republican state Cabinet is cruising toward re-election with only token Democratic resistance." "Florida Democrats barely bother with 2 Cabinet races."

Scott slow dancing with FlaBaggers over federal dollars

"Rick Scott and Charlie Crist agree that Florida should accept $51 billion in federal money for Medicaid expansion, but have conflicting ideas on how — and how quickly — it can be accomplished." "Rick Scott, Charlie Crist split on Medicaid expansion." Related: "Scott, Crist weigh in on Medicaid expansion."

"Debate over whether Scott or Crist is better for education"

"There’s been talk of budget cuts and tuition increases, of curriculum changes and pay cuts. And as Election Day nears, the debate over whether Rick Scott or Charlie Crist is better for education continues to drive the discussion." "Testing, not education spending, key in governor’s race."

Funny how that works

"In the heat of a statewide campaign, with a rush of money coming in and going out, it’s not surprising reporting errors happen."

It’s usually nickel-and-dime stuff: A missed address here, a blank for a donor’s occupation there.

Yet none of the Republican candidates — incumbents Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — has received a single “error report” from the state Division of Elections, online filings show.

But every Democrat —gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, Attorney General candidate George Sheldon, CFO candidate Will Rankin and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton — has been dinged multiple times.

Greg Blair, a spokesman for Scott for Florida, declined comment, referring questions to the division. Brendan Gilfillan, Crist’s spokesman, didn’t respond to an email.

The Division of Elections falls under Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee.

"Scott, Cabinet have perfect record on finance reports."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

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

Crist holds his ground in debate

With Charlie Crist pulling ahead in the polls, a seemingly desperate Rick Scott was swinging at dead air in the candidates' first debate. There was no clear winner.

"Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist arrived at WSCV-Telemundo 51 in Miramar Friday for their first of three televised debates, prepared to rip each other apart on a variety of issues -- and that’s exactly what they proceeded to do." "Claws Come Out in First Debate Between Scott and Crist." See also "Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist spar in first debate that gets testy as candidates hammer campaign," "Crist, Scott let the barbs fly in debate," "Crist and Scott Clash in First Gubernatorial Debate," "Tense exchanges, zingers, clear differences in debate between Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist" and "First debate between Scott, Crist contentious."

More: "No clear winner in first Crist, Scott debate," "Crist, Scott carve out identities in first debate," "Crist, Scott Face Off In 1st Debate, Wyllie Supporters Protests," and "Charlie Crist, Rick Scott face off in first debate."

Crist hammers Scott on hypocritical reliance on fed cash

"Charlie Crist says in debate that stimulus saved 20000 teacher jobs."

SoFla "race is key to GOP supermajority"

"Sachs-Bogdanoff race is key to GOP supermajority (subscription required)."

Attacks on Scott's failed job promises wait in the wings

Scott repeated his favorite canard during the debate: "During the Oct. 10 Telemundo debate in Miramar, Scott noted about a half dozen times that 832,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed while Crist was in office."

Scott said "832,000 people lost their job" while Crist was governor, blaming his opponent for not doing enough while in office to improve Florida’s growing ranks of the unemployed.

It’s possible to quibble with the specific number of job losses that occurred under Crist, but the differences are small -- 1.5 percent in one direction or the other.

The bigger issue is that it’s a stretch for Scott to ascribe blame for job losses on a governor’s watch, since it’s unclear whether any given governor’s policies have had an effect on employment trends. If Scott is trying to impugn Crist’s record on jobs during a recession -- something that depends heavily on the national and international economic picture -- he’s largely off base, even if his numbers are pretty close.

"Rick Scott blames Charlie Crist for 832,000 job losses."

It won't be long before Crist lets loose on Scott's failed job promises - Esquire Magazine columnist Charles P. Pierce has the details: Scott

promised that his crack economic team soon would have the state buried in new jobs. Local newspapers down there have looked at the record and, frankly, Scott would have been better off sending the state's cash down a sinkhole in the Everglades.
- Of the jobs Scott can influence most, only a fraction now exist. Scott has pledged $266 million in tax breaks and other incentives in return for 45,258 new jobs. But 96 percent of the jobs have yet to materialize, according to state data.

- The total number of new jobs Scott ultimately might deliver doesn't offset the jobs lost at companies with more than 100 workers in the same time period. Between January 2011 and November 2013, large Florida employers reported 49,163 layoffs, according to federal data.

-Nearly 14 percent of Scott's deals - 46 in all - have collapsed for various reasons, the state says, and more projects are dormant.

-Florida offers tax breaks in most cases only when a company creates the jobs it promised, and $45 million sits idle waiting to be claimed by companies that have not yet reached hiring goals.

-The jobs outlook isn't better in Tampa Bay, where Scott inked deals to create 7,251 jobs in exchange for $39 million in tax breaks. Jobs created to date: 462.

The ghost in the machine, of course, is the strategy of offering massive tax breaks in return for promises from industry. (Also, many of the people to whom these promises are made turn out to be thieves and grifters.)
"Rick Scott's Broken Promises."

Wingnuts running wild in streets of Miami

"Americans for Prosperity builds political machine."

Haters in a dither

"Unlike other Democrats who are running from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., has shown no hesitation in embracing her. This week, Grayson announced that Pelosi would campaign with him in Orlando at the end of next week and went out of his way to praise her." "Beltway 'Bigs' Rubio and Pelosi Lock into Alan Grayson-Carol Platt Race."

It's SoFla, stupid

"Charlie Crist places heavier bet on South Florida than Rick Scott."

"Lost in the hoopla"

"Lost in the hoopla with a dramatic Florida gubernatorial contest between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat after spending most of his political career as a Republican, some compelling fights for congressional seats and a high-profile fight over Amendment 2 on medical marijuana are the legislative elections. "

All 120 Florida House seats and 20 Florida Senate seats will be up for grabs in November. No matter who wins the gubernatorial contest, the Legislature will play an important role when it convenes in March 2015. Factor in leadership contests, major issues ranging from casino gambling and education spending, perhaps more legal challenges to congressional redistricting and the Legislature will have its hands full -- whether a Republican governor is looking to cement his legacy or the first new Democratic governor in 24 years leads the Sunshine State.
"Starting Monday, Sunshine State News Looks at the Hottest Legislative Races in Florida."

Sharpton in town

"Al Sharpton pushes for higher turnout among black voters."

"Old" news; really?

Rick Scott ran a company that was, as a result of false claim act litigation pursued by the federal government, forced to return $1.7 billion dollars to American taxpayers. Balanced "journalist" Aaron Deslatte thinks Crist raising this issue as a campaign issue is just typical politics. He writes that this is just "old" news. He writes that Crist is merely

exhuming 20-year-old accusations about what Scott might have known about the massive Medicare overbilling and fraud committed at his former hospital chain, Columbia/HCA.
" Florida governor's slugfest kicks up old piles of dirt."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Stretch Run for Campaigns, Gay Marriage."

He's not a lobbyist, he's just "a tour guide"

"When asked if he has represented Roberto and William IsaĆ­as, who are wanted in their native Ecuador, Republican Carlos Curbelo said yes. But he argued he did not have to register as a lobbyist for the brothers and their relatives." "Miami congressional candidate Carlos Curbelo represented Ecuadorean fugitives."

Meanwhile the FlaGOP keeps hoping: "New Poll: Obama and Scandals Hurting Garcia Against Curbelo." See "Curbelo Leads Garcia, 46-42, in South Florida."

"What is it about Florida politics?

Nancy Smith: "What is it about American politics? Or Florida politics? Or both."

"Hispanic voters strongly back Charlie Crist"

A "poll, released just as the two major candidates prepare to square off Friday in a debate hosted by Spanish-language network Telemundo, is the latest spot of good survey news for Charlie Crist." "Poll: Florida Hispanic voters strongly back Charlie Crist, Medicaid expansion."