Tuesday, September 04, 2012

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

"Let the battle for Florida begin"

"The convention is over. Let the battle for Florida begin, because that may be what the next 64 days of the presidential campaign boils down to."

Here's what a couple of top Florida strategists expect:

- "There's a unifying theme between the campaigns: Florida counts big," said Republican media guru Adam Goodman of Tampa. "Both are going to go all out with reckless abandon."

- "Florida's critically important — even Newt Gingrich said at the Republican convention that Mitt Romney can't win without Florida," said state Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux. "If Florida's ground zero, Tampa's the ground zero of Florida. You're going to see a frenetic pace."

It's already started.

"It's almost impossible for a Republican to win the presidency without winning Florida."
The reason: Among the four largest states, a Democratic candidate can count on winning No. 1 California with 55 Electoral College votes, and No. 3 New York with 29, starting the race nearly a third of the way to a 270-vote majority.

A Republican, meanwhile, can count only on No. 2 Texas' 38 votes. GOP candidates must also carry Florida's 29 to have a chance at a majority; no other state has more than 20.

To carry Florida, with its Republican north and southwest and its Democratic southeast, candidates must win the swing area in the middle of the state — the famed Interstate 4 corridor, including the state's biggest media market, the Tampa area.

"You're going to see high-level surrogates, the president, the vice president, the first lady here, very often, and I'm sure you're going to see the same from the other side," said Arceneaux. "It's hard to overstate the importance of Florida this year in the national picture."

Even if he doesn't win the state, Obama can tie down Romney in Florida, forcing him to spend time and money in a state he can't afford to lose, denying those resources to other swing states.

"Obama wouldn't be surprised to lose Florida to Romney, but contesting it strongly means Romney can't just take it for granted," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. "And Romney needs many other swing states to get to 270."

The two start the battle in a near tie. Since early May, neither has led by more than 2 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of Florida polls.

"The battle is joined: Tampa is election's frontline".

Setting the bar low

The Miami Herald Bushco publicity machine sets the bar low when it comes to evaluating "Jeb!"'s utterances, and by the way did you know Jebbie "is bilingual and met his wife in Mexico"? "Jeb Bush says illegal immigration is "net zero"".

"Pure examples of right-wing social engineering"

Stephen Goldstein: "Attention Florida voters: Just say "No" to all 11 constitutional amendments on the November ballot. And don't be fooled by their high-minded and compassionate-sounding, but intentionally deceptive, titles. They are not what they seem."

Put on the ballot by the tea-party-dominated Florida Republican Legislature (aka the "voter suppression folks"), they are Trojan Horses, designed to fool you into voting against your best interests. They intensify the war on women, give greater power to the Legislature over the judiciary, gut government revenues, destroy the historic and fundamental separation between church and state, and create tension (and expensive, futile lawsuits) with the federal government. In short, individually, they are pure examples of right-wing social engineering; collectively, they have the net effect of hurling Florida back into the 16th Century.
"All 11 amendments are a bad bet". Related: The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Amendment affront to tax fairness".

All they got?

This short story in The Orlando Sentinel is about how a Romney supporter "strolled boldly Monday through an AFL-CIO-sponsored Labor Day picnic". "Lake Eola Labor Day picnic serves chicken, beans — and politics".

That, dear readers, is all The Orlando Sentinel had to say about Labor Day. See generally: "Annual Labor Day Insult".

FIU Report: the State of Working Florida

"Florida's slow job creation during the recovery has created growing inequalities among workers, according to the 'State of Working Florida' report released Monday by Florida International University. 'Minority groups were hit much harder,' said Bernardo Oseguera, author of the report for FIU Research Institute on Social & Economic Policy, which features an unfinished condominium on its cover." "Minorities not recovering from recession, FIU report says".

"This year’s State of Working Florida highlights how slow job creation has created growing inequalities in wages and among groups. The Great Recession ended in 2009 but Florida continues to do worse than other states, especially those that have been able to boost manufacturing, which has in turn spurred growth." Here's the report: "The State of Working Florida 2012".

RNC job boom? Maybe for rent-a-cops

Joe Henderson: "Remember, to get the public behind the idea of hosting the RNC, it was sold as a chance to attract new businesses and jobs. We don't even need to say how badly those are needed, do we? The hope was to show CEOs around the country and beyond that Tampa has the right stuff to run with the big boys."

The theory went that by doing that, Tampa's economy could diversify with the coveted high-tech and well-paying jobs needed to lift everyone out of the doldrums. . . . Did it work?
"Will RNC pay off with jobs for Tampa?".

Tampa did prove its mettle when it came to rent-a-cops hustling delegates out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum: "GOP convention-goers throw nuts at black camerawoman: 'This is how we feed animals!'".


The black CNN camerawoman who had nuts thrown at her at the Republican National Convention said she's "not surprised" by the incident.

"This is Florida, and I'm from the Deep South," Alabama native Patricia Carroll told journalist Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute. "You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don't think I should do."

Carroll, 34, was doing her job inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday when two [as yet unnamed] RNC attendees threw nuts at her and said: "This is how we feed animals."

"CNN camerawoman speaks about RNC flap".

"It's hard to miss the irony"

The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Charlie Crist's chameleon-like talent for blending into any political environment will be on full display this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, where the former Republican, perhaps former independent and former governor of Florida will give his full-throated support to President Barack Obama."

Crist landed a speaking gig at the Democrats' Obama coronation after he wrote a column for the Tampa Bay Times endorsing the president. "I'm confident that President Obama is the right leader for our state and nation," Crist wrote.

Well, if Charlie Crist is confident about his position, you can take that to the bank. Please inject sarcasm here.

Just four years ago, when Obama was on his way to the presidency, Crist not only was a Republican, he was a leading contender for the second spot on John McCain's ticket. . . .

Crist wrote that the president built his record "by spending more time worrying about what his decisions would mean for the people than for his political fortunes." It's hard to miss the irony there. Crist's record as a politician clearly shows that he made decisions based on his calculations of his own political fortunes. That tendency was his undoing, and it likely will get in the way of any plans he may have for returning to politics in Florida.

"Shape-shifting Crist finds place with the Democrats". Related: "Florida Democrats say Crist must ‘prove himself’".

"Hard to tell where Havana ends and Hialeah begins"

Fabiola Santiago writes about "the daughter of Cuba’s vice president, Marino Murillo — the man in charge of executing Raúl Castro’s economic policies — left a psychologists’ conference in Mexico earlier this month, crossed the border into Texas and was paroled into the U.S." "Cuba love story comes to Hialeah".

"Informed votes are a challenge"

"Informed votes are a challenge in judicial races".

"Few Florida stars"

"At Democratic convention, few Florida stars". Related: "Longtime delegate Bailey heads to his 10th Democratic convention". Related: "Florida delegates a big deal".

Meanwhile, charter schools are all the rage

The Miami Herald editorial board: Miami-Dade voters "in November will be asked to extend soon-to-expire construction bonds for another 30 years. The money raised will be used to make desperately need upgrades in schools, a third of which were built before the Beatles sang I Want to Hold Your Hand on The Ed Sullivan Show. Half of the schools in Miami-Dade County are more than 40 years old, and a third are older than 50. Too many classrooms need technological enhancements — imagine, schools with no computers or Wi-Fi. Then there are the deteriorating buildings with leaky roofs, moldy air-conditioning and exposed bathroom pipes that smell just awful." "A snapshot of the need".

"How much do local elected officials make?"

"How much do your local elected officials make? Think high pay, low pay and plenty of perks".

Tuff girl

"Getting a dinged up in the rough-and-tumble political fray is part of the job, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz says in an interview before Democrats begin their convention." "Wasserman Schultz says she’s grown "alligator skin" as DNC chair".