Tuesday, September 11, 2012

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please join us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

5 Gears in Reverse

"After a summer of snafus over the state’s public school testing system, Gov. Rick Scott hit the road Monday on the first day of a week-long education "listening tour" designed, he said, 'to hear ideas for improvement.'" "Gov. Rick Scott embarks on education ‘listening’ tour". See also "Rick Scott Embarks on Education Tour, Questions 'Purpose' of FCATs" and "Gov. Scott likely to face tough questions from teachers, parents on FCAT, merit pay during Boca Raton visit".

"Do you want purity? Or do you want to win?"

Daniel Ruth reminds us that "Crist was practically given the bum's rush out of the GOP after he had the audacity of good manners to warmly welcome Obama to Florida and accept a boatload of stimulus money."

For his sin of common sense, Crist was denied a U.S. Senate seat, which eventually went to a handsome Miami 12-year-old. And since then the former governor has been walking the streets of St. Petersburg contemplating his next political move.

It is conventional wisdom that Crist is positioning himself to run for governor in 2014. This might be a very technical political science term some of you might not understand, but — Duh!

"Of course he's going to run."
Come 2014, the challenge is awfully basic. If the Democrats can't come up with a candidate who can defeat bumbling Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, who makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Warren Buffet, they pretty much deserve whatever happens to them.

And if the Democrats are going to start imposing an ideological purity test on candidates before welcoming them into the fold, they are no better than the dogmatic oafs on the Republican right who drove the likes of Utah's Robert Bennett and Indiana's Richard Lugar out of their Senate seats.

The idea that professional politicians who spend their entire waking moments plotting, strategizing, conniving, angling to gain any edge, would take umbrage at Crist for doing exactly that to advance his own political agenda is beyond ridiculous.

Instead of treating Crist as if he's an uninvited interloper, [Rod] Smith and the rest of the Democrats should welcome him with open arms, if for nothing else than to watch one of the state's best politicos in action again.

Do you want purity? Or do you want to win?

"Charlie and Barack: not such an odd couple". Related: "Rick Scott Shrugs Off Hypothetical Charlie Crist Challenge".

Dems Back Independent Argenziano

"Former Republican lawmaker Nancy Argenziano was foiled this year in her attempt to run for Congress as a Democrat. But now running as an independent for a state House seat in Citrus and Hernando counties, the outspoken -- and often controversial -- Argenziano has received the backing of the Florida Democratic Party as it tries to knock out a Republican incumbent."

The party's somewhat-unusual support of Argenziano came after Democrat Lynn Thomas Dostal withdrew from the House District 34 race just days after winning the Aug. 14 primary. Dostal's move cleared the way for a one-on-one race between Argenziano and Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, and eliminated the possibility that Smith would face a divided opposition that could help him more easily win re-election.
"Dems Back Independent Nancy Argenziano in House Race".

SD 8

"The Republican Party of Florida has locked in $2 million worth of television-advertising time for Senate candidate Dorothy Hukill, in what will be one of the most expensive legislative races in Florida this fall. Hukill, a state representative from Port Orange, is running against Democratic Frank Bruno, the countywide elected chairman of Volusia County, in Senate District 8 — a tossup district that runs from New Smyrna Beach to Ocala." "GOP buys $2 million of ad time for local Senate race".

Is DEP misrepresenting issue to EPA?

"The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is telling federal officials again that DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. in prior jobs did not work for a pollution permit holder in violation of federal law. But a group that petitioned the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency says DEP is misrepresenting the issue to the federal agency." "DEP again argues no law violation in Secretary Vinyard's prior jobs".

"GOP-backed constitutional amendments"

"Groups both for and against constitutional amendments strive to reach voters in noisy presidential election year." "Sen. Rich rallies support against GOP-backed constitutional amendments".

Wetlands mitigation bank challenged

"The Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank permit was issued in August, three months after DEP scientist Connie Bersok said a permit should not be issued. The Florida Wildlife Federation petition contends DEP doesn't have the authority to waive the financial responsibility requirement for the mitigation bank." "DEP permit for wetlands mitigation bank is challenged by Florida Wildlife Federation".

"Florida is dead last in the nation"

John Romano: "There's a nifty little fact on Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity website."

If you go to the page where folks file claims for unemployment benefits, it cheerfully points out that the number of individuals seeking benefits declined from 556,941 to 325,448 in Rick Scott's first 17 months as governor.

That's just wonderful. Uplifting. One might even say it's terribly impressive.

One might also say it is horribly misleading.

You see, Florida isn't really efficient when it comes to actually providing unemployment assistance for its residents. Based on U.S. Department of Labor statistics, Florida is dead last in the nation in the percentage of unemployed workers receiving benefits.

Color me pinko, but I'm not sure that's something to brag about.

Now there are a lot of reasons why only 16 to 17 percent of Florida's unemployed have been receiving state assistance in the past couple of years. For instance, a lot of those unemployed have already maxed out their benefits. And others were not in their jobs long enough to qualify for unemployment insurance.

But there are some workers' rights groups who also believe a significant factor is policies enacted during Scott's tenure that have made it more difficult to apply for assistance.

"Denying benefits is good news?".

Grayson update

"The race for the newly drawn 9th congressional district is heating up, with Republican Todd Long accusing Democrat Alan Grayson of distorting his positions and dodging debates." "Republican Todd Long rebuts Alan Grayson's claims in 9th district race".

"Not big contributors"

"A Contribution Link analysis of the 396 Florida delegates to the Republican and Democratic national conventions found they are not big givers. However, 80 percent of the Republican delegates and 82 percent of the Democratic delegates contributed to at least one state campaign during the past two election cycles." "Political convention delegates not big contributors".


"The chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party reports that a Democratic congressional candidate has been registered to vote in both Florida and Maryland since at least 2006." "Md. Democratic congressional candidate withdraws after state party says she voted in two places — Maryland and Florida".