Thursday, July 19, 2012

Today's Florida Political News and Punditry

"The TPM Electoral Scoreboard moves to Obama 265, Romney 191 as a new Quinnipiac poll pushes Virginia from Lean Obama to Toss-Up." "Obama 265, Romney 191". Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Obama in Florida

"President Barack Obama will campaign in Florida over the next two days, with plans to push for passage of his proposed 'middle class' tax cut." "President Barack Obama visits Florida to tout his plans for ‘middle class’ tax cut, debt reduction". See also "In Florida, Obama aims to keep pressure on Romney".

More: "Rollins College prepares for Obama's Friday visit".

"Vicious attack mailer, an eyebrow-raiser"

"A vicious attack mailer, an eyebrow-raiser, against former Florida Senate President Tom Lee hit mailboxes this week in Senate District 24, and among politicos in the state capital especially, it's still causing a stir."

The mailer includes a reproduction of a fractured wedding photo, mentioning Lee's 2001 divorce, claiming he had an affair with a gaming industry lobbyist -- an allegation Lee has categorically denied. ...

The direct-mail piece is the latest example of how political committees are heating up targeted Senate races this election cycle, due to the enormity of their implications on the chamber's leadership. Republicans could see as many as 10 new senators added to their caucus, representing a large new voting bloc with the potential to determine the Senate leadership outcomes post-Don Gaetz and Andy Gardiner.

The Lee hit piece was produced by The American People Committee Inc., a Florida Committee of Continuous Existence (CCE), whose chairwoman is powerful Tallahassee lobbyist Kenya Cory. Of note, under Florida elections law, this type of advertising is allowed for Electioneering Communication Organizations (ECOs) but not for CCEs.

Said attorney Mark Herron, ethics and elections specialist with Messer, Caparello & Self PA in Tallahassee, "CCEs are prohibited from doing political advertising or electioneering. They can't do it."

Cory was unavailable Wednesday afternoon.

Examination of The American People Committee’s financial records revealed a link between the committee and state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who is currently in a contentious leadership race with Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. The committee has made contributions to numerous candidates supported by Latvala as well as a $5,000 contribution to Latvala’s leadership committee – the Florida Leadership Fund.
"Does Attack on Tom Lee Have Senate Leadership Overtones?".

Meanwhile, "Burgin says she didn’t know about negative mailer".

GOPer Senate Primaries heat up

Kevin Derby: "SD 15: Kelli Stargel Leading GOP Primary Field in Money Chase" and "SD 4: First Coast GOP Rivals Unveil Endorsements".

Lt. Gov. Carroll denies she "looks" lesbian

Lloyd Dunkelberger: "The head of a major gay rights group in Florida criticized Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s recent comments that women 'who look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.'"

In an opinion piece, Nadine Smith, head of Equality Florida, which calls itself the largest civil rights organization in the state that promotes equal treatment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said Carroll’s comments were out of line.

“There are many ways for a person to deny accusations, but Lt. Gov. Carroll reached into her anti-gay bag of tricks and ended up hurling a series of stereotypes about women, lesbians and black people in one fell swoop,” Smith said in her critique. “The hyper, nervous giggling didn’t help matters.”
"Gay rights group responds to Carroll's comments".

"Masked protesters will not be allowed"

"The city releases details of the rules and parameters for the area, which extend beyond this photo, around the convention welcoming cocktail party at Tropicana Field and other events." "City plans expansive event zone". See also "See detailed map of the event zone". Background: "Tampa established event zone for convention".


The Miami Herald editorial board: "U.S. District Judge Alan Gold’s order last week ... clears the way for a historic $880 million cleanup plan agreed upon by state and federal governments. The Obama administration also announced an $80 million program to preserve 23,000 acres of farmland by buying up the development rights to ensure that ranchland in the Northern Everglades remains pristine in perpetuity — a key to saving the endangered Florida panther." "Everglades gets fighting chance". Related: "U.S. interior secretary urges continued Everglades commitment".

Bob Graham, he ain't

"Gov. Scott 'gets to work' at Hillsborough River State Park".

"A tax system that hasn't evolved"

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida has a chronic budget problem: The money raised by its tax system hasn't been growing as fast as state government's expenses. Lawmakers have been closing annual deficits primarily through spending cuts. Last year, they slashed $1.3 billion in funding for public schools. This year, they hacked $300 million out of higher education and sliced $350 million from hospitals. While part of the shortfalls in recent years can be blamed on the Great Recession and its lingering effects, part is also attributable to a tax system that hasn't evolved with the economy. " "How should state taxes change?".

Convenience store jobs on the way!

"Rick Scott: 4,500 Jobs on the Way as Wawa Opens, Digital Risk Expands". See also "Gov. Scott touts new jobs in Central Florida".

HD 24

"Primary Profile: Democrats square off in House District 24, hope to nab seat from Republicans".

"Quiet voter purge"

"Long before Florida's controversial non-citizen voter purge drew national attention, a dozen Sarasota County residents got letters in the mail from the supervisor of elections warning them that they may have broken the law by registering to vote."

They had all checked a box on a form excusing them from jury duty that indicated they were not U.S. citizens.

All but one — later found not to be a citizen, though he had never actually voted — had checked the box in error. Many were not added back to the voting rolls until months later.

That 11 of them ultimately had their citizenship confirmed underscores the difficulty for elections supervisors seeking to identify fraudulent voters. Various databases can contain out-of-date or inaccurate citizenship information.
"Sarasota County's quiet voter purge".

Bondi loses another one

"A federal judge Tuesday tossed out a challenge by Florida and six other states to the part of the federal health law that requires coverage for contraceptives in insurance plans." "U.S. judge rejects states’ challenge to health care law’s contraceptive rule".

"BP Money Fight"

"The payoff may be years away, but Florida stakeholders are already coordinating efforts to make sure the state gets its share of BP oil spill compensation in what could be the largest Gulf restoration effort in history." "Groups Ready for BP Money Fight".

Dawson seeks less jail time

"When former South Florida lawmaker Mandy Dawson is sentenced Friday for tax crimes related to a pay-to-play political corruption case, she wants a federal judge to give her a lighter punishment because of her depression and ongoing illegal drug abuse problems." "Former state Sen. Mandy Dawson seeks less jail time, admits to cocaine abuse".