Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today's Political News and Punditry

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

Scott "intimidating" Elections Supervisor who refuses to limit voting

"Gov. Rick Scott delivered an ultimatum Tuesday to the election supervisor in the Florida Keys, who is refusing to limit early voting to eight days for the November election."

Scott said he will “take all necessary and appropriate action to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed,” a statement some elections officials said sounded like he’s considering removing the supervisor, Harry Sawyer Jr. from office. “He’s trying to intimidate me, no doubt about it,” Sawyer said. Sawyer, the longtime Monroe County supervisor of elections and a Republican, insists on offering early voting for 12 days and that more people will vote if early voting takes place over a longer period. Sawyer says the eight-day provision does not apply to Monroe, one of five counties in which any election law changes require preclearance by the U.S. government or federal courts because of past discrimination. The others are Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee and Hendry, where election officials agreed to Scott’s request Monday to provide eight days of early voting for 12 hours each from Oct. 27 through Nov. 3. All four submitted identical emails to the state, pledging that if the early voting changes receive preclearance, they would “offer early voting for 12 hours per day on each day of the early voting period, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.”
"Rick Scott pressures Keys elections chief on early voting". Fabiola Santiago on Florida's right-to-vote hero, and he's a Republican: "Leave it to the Conch Republic to bring a little heat to the fray."
Harry L. Sawyer Jr. — fifth-generation Conch, former Monroe County Sheriff’s detective and for the last 24 years the Key West-based supervisor of elections — has told fellow Republicans Gov. Rick Scott and his secretary of state that he’s not playing the disenfranchisement game. He’s not going along with Scott’s scheme to keep Florida Democrats from voting in the upcoming presidential election by curtailing early voting hours. He’ll offer 12 days of early voting that includes two Saturdays and will run for eight hours each day at five sites from Marathon to Key West. Scott wants only eight days, despite a federal court ruling saying such a move could hamper African-American turnout. “There’s an element here of discrimination that has been alleged by the people . . . and I agree with that,” Sawyer told me in a refreshingly candid conversation. “It’s [affecting] mostly working people, Hispanics and African Americans. They just can’t take off from their job any time they want to and stand in a long line and vote. They have family to take care of as well. A lot of factors why they need early voting.” In a conference call Tuesday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner tried to strong-arm five supervisors of elections into agreeing with Scott’s plan. Sawyer wouldn’t go for it — and Monroe County ended up the lone holdout.
"You tell ’em, Mr. Sawyer, about fair early voting".

"Scott and his right-wing extremists"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott and his right-wing extremists in the Legislature are putting their hatred of President Barack Obama and health care reform ahead of Florida’s poor children." "State picks ideology over health".

Medicaid plan would transform Florida health care

"Medicaid plan would transform health care in Florida".

"Rivera helped run a shadow campaign that might have broken federal laws"

"Fueled with $43,000 in secret money, Republican Rep. David Rivera helped run a shadow campaign that might have broken federal laws in last week’s Democratic primary against his political nemesis Joe Garcia, according to campaign sources and finance records."

As part of the effort, a political unknown named Justin Lamar Sternad campaigned against Garcia by running a sophisticated mail campaign that Rivera helped orchestrate and fund, campaign vendors said. Among the revelations: The mailers were often paid in envelopes stuffed with crisp hundred-dollar bills. Rivera and Sternad have denied working together in his campaign, which ended Aug. 14. But Hugh Cochran, president of Campaign Data, told The Herald this week that Rivera contacted him in July and requested he create a list of voters who were ultimately targeted in the 11 mailers sent by Sternad’s campaign. “David hired me to run the data,” said Cochran, who is a retired FBI agent. Cochran said he spoke numerous times with Rivera, produced the lists of targeted voters and emailed it to Rapid Mail and Computer Services in Hialeah, which mailed the fliers. Cochran cc’d the owner and Rivera in a July 29 email, which he provided to The Herald. When contacted by the Herald for comment, the Rivera campaign responded via email Tuesday night: “Congressman Rivera has never met or spoken to Mr. Sternad and knows absolutely nothing about him or his campaign.” But Rivera’s campaign acknowledged he might have received an email from Campaign Data intended for Sternad’s use. “Anything Campaign Data mistakenly sent to Congressman Rivera was done so in error, which has occurred previously, and without Congressman Rivera’s knowledge or consent,” Rivera’s campaign said. Sternard and his attorney declined comment.
"Campaign vendors say Republican Congressman David Rivera funded Democrat’s failed primary bid".

Rubio censors press

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who often speaks passionately about government oppression in his parents’ native Cuba, will practice a form of censorship today when he speaks to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches." "Editorial: Why is Marco Rubio shutting out the press from West Palm Beach speech?".

"Desperate to improve his bottom-of-the-barrel approval ratings"

Scott Maxwell writes that "the newest, high-profile opponent of FCAT is the man who, just a few months ago, was the highest-profile supporter of it … your governor. What you're seeing is raw politics — a man desperate to improve his bottom-of-the-barrel approval ratings by telling fed-up parents that he is their empathetic savior." "Meet the new Rick Scott -- FCAT foe".

"Teachers unimpressed"

"Scott is promising a better measurement of student progress but is unclear about what he means." "Governor talks up new school testing system in video; teachers unimpressed".


"A political writer for who for months has written stories attacking opponents of Hallandale Beach mayoral hopeful Jay Schorr did not tell her readers that she is Schorr’s wife." "Blogger covering Hallandale Beach election is candidate’s wife".