Monday, October 08, 2012

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

"The strangest county in the weirdest state in America"

Adam C. Smith: "What if a presidential election came down to the strangest county in the weirdest state in America? For better or worse, that's Miami-Dade, whose vote Nov. 6 will go a long way in determining who wins America's biggest swing state."

If we see an enormous Miami-Dade margin of victory for Barack Obama as the returns come in, it probably means he wins Florida's 29 electoral votes and another presidential term.

But this is Miami, so it's likely we'll have to wait on the vote tally because some precinct worker is stuck in traffic behind a delivery truck parked for no clear reason on the interstate express lane. Or stuck behind a grisly crime scene, perhaps involving face-eating. Maybe behind paparazzi stalking a misbehaving celebrity.

"There's a reason the Obama campaign has 12 offices in Miami-Dade, and the Mitt Romney operation has four. Size matters and so do demographics. The county is home to 1.2 million voters, including 540,000 Democrats and 371,000 Republicans. Only about one in four is non-Hispanic white voters."
There's a reason the Obama campaign has 12 offices in Miami-Dade, and the Mitt Romney operation has four. Size matters and so do demographics. The county is home to 1.2 million voters, including 540,000 Democrats and 371,000 Republicans. Only about one in four is non-Hispanic white voters.

Four years ago, Obama won Miami-Dade by more than 139,000 votes ­— nearly 60 percent of his statewide victory margin and the biggest margin of any Florida county. Compare that with John Kerry in 2004, who won here by nearly 49,000 votes, and Al Gore ­— damaged by the Clinton-Gore administration's decision to return Elian to Cuba ­— who in 2000 won it by about 39,000.

Broward County has long been viewed as the ultimate Democratic stronghold in Florida, but Obama won 7,100 more votes out of Miami-Dade than he did in Broward, a first in modern history.

To many veterans of Florida politics it was an astounding Miami-Dade outcome. The bad news for the president? If he fails to match it this November, Florida's 29 electoral votes ­may flip to Romney.

Obama's support among white voters is likely to dip across the state. Few Democrats will predict with a straight face that he will match his 2008 performance in places like Sarasota, Polk and Lee counties.

Squeezing every last vote out of Miami-Dade is critical to Obama's prospects.

"Inside complex, colorful Miami-Dade, Florida's largest county where every vote is critical for Obama". See also "" and "".

Another fine Jebacy

"As Miami-Dade schools chief Alberto Carvalho stumps for the district’s $1.2 billion bond proposal, schools and groups have started jockeying for potential dollars. Even a charter school, Doctors Charter School of Miami Shores, would like some. In a letter to the Miami-Dade School Board, the charter school’s board presented its financial case and said it has plans for a new gym and needs dressing rooms for P.E." "Charter school lobbies for potential Miami-Dade bond money".

Rubio pushes transformation of Medicare to Vouchercare

"With an earnest look full of concern, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is warning television viewers in Florida that the nation must transform Medicare in order to save it, saying it's "the least we can do" for the sake of older people like his 81-year-old mother. The Florida senator's Medicare ad is designed to sell Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's plan to cut the popular program and turn it into a voucher-like system." "Rubio brings star power to pitch Romney Medicare plan".

Romney starting with the Dubya "heart" thing

"With a crowd of 13,000 pumped up by Mitt Romney’s performance in last week’s presidential debate, the applause lines came easily for the GOP nominee and other speakers at a rally Sunday afternoon that capped a three-day Florida campaign swing." "Romney rides debate surge into Port St. Lucie for speech; ‘I’ve seen the heart of the American people,’ he tells crowd of 13,000".

'Baggers in a dither

A detailed discussion of Bill Nelson's record: "Congressional ratings indicate Nelson is a centrist".

No one hugged him

"Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney invaded the region where President Obama last month received an infamous hug from a pizza shop owner." "Romney Draws a Kiss, Vibrant Crowd in Land of Obama’s Pizza-Parlor Hug".

CD 18

"Negative Ads Dominate Heavily Watched, Financed Allen West-Patrick Murphy District 18 Contest".

"More than 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots"

"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez scored a comfortable election victory that could extend his rule to 20 years and vowed to deepen his self-styled socialist revolution that has polarized the South American OPEC nation. . . . More than 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots." "Venezuela's Chavez revels in re-election victory".

Darden works to undermine HCR, help Romney

"In an experiment apparently aimed at keeping down the cost of health-care reform, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses." "Darden tests limiting worker hours as health-care changes loom".

Activist judges?

Nancy Smith: "The justices in the Florida Supreme Court now are about as close to politics as anybody in the legislative branch of state government. It is frustrating to listen to their bluster. Of course they are political. Of course they make decisions -- both conscious and unconscious ones -- based on political favoritism."

We have an election upon us. Are you happy with these justices for six more years? It's a personal decision. But you folks who don't like the leftward lean of the justices' decisions have every right to vote against retention in November. Just as the justices will have every right to continue activist rulings.
"Check With the Supremes: Judiciary Doesn't Have to be Politically Independent".

"SD 4 Money Chase"

"Nancy Soderberg Competitive in SD 4 Money Chase".

Unconstitutional for colleges to charge higher tuition to children of illegal immigrants

"State education officials are debating how to respond to a federal ruling that deemed it unconstitutional for Florida colleges and universities to charge higher tuition to the dependent children of illegal immigrants." "Florida will reply to ruling on tuition for immigrant children".

All they got?

" U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Palm Beach Gardens, drew shouts of “West! West! West!” and at least one suggestion he run for president when he showed up this afternoon for a Mitt Romney rally at Tradition Square. . . . Florida CFO Jeff Atwater and state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, are among the elected officials on hand. Romney is expected to arrive and speak later this afternoon." "West, Atwater, Negron fire up crowd before Romney’s Treasure Coast appearance".

"Partisan dominance begets arrogance"

Randy Schultz: Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, who sponsored the election bill that was aimed at suppressing the Democratic vote, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who next month will be president of the Florida Senate "spoke with straight faces in support of a bill that the courts correctly have shredded — the sort of bill that the court correctly would shred if Democrats tried it."

Choose your weapon: Restrictive photo ID requirements, decreased early voting hours, needlessly tough rules on registering voters and, in Florida’s case, purges of what allegedly are hordes of “non-citizens” on the voter rolls. Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico are presidential swing states. All passed tougher voter ID laws since 2010. Poor and minority voters, who usually vote Democratic, are less likely to have the new IDs. In Texas, a concealed weapons permit is a valid ID, but a student ID is not. . . .

Detecting partisan election laws is easy. Just ask if the sponsors can cite examples of the fraud they seek to prevent. Florida Republicans couldn’t do it in 2011. Gov. Scott couldn’t do it this year when he ordered Secretary of State Ken Detzner to purge the rolls of non-citizens. All the state’s elections supervisors pushed back, and the governor’s recent fund-raising letter on the issue proves that the “purge” was more about politics than electoral integrity.

And four months after a federal judge threw out the voter-registration restrictions in the 2011 law, the spreading registration controversy just before the 2012 election involves not a left-wing group but one working for the Republican Party of Florida. It’s the GOP here and now, but it could be the Democrats later. It happens when partisan dominance begets arrogance, and the desire to win overwhelms the desire to do good.

"Schultz commentary: New politics seeks to rig elections legally".

"Nearly 4 million Floridians are without health coverage"

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The proposed Health Care Services charter amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot — Amendment 1 — is nothing more than a reminder that the Florida Legislature cares more about making political statements than about the health care needs of Floridians."

A better response would be for the Legislature to worry that Florida has the third-highest rate of residents who lack health insurance. Nearly 4 million Floridians, or 21 percent of the state, are without health coverage.

Despite that, Gov. Rick Scott has said the state will not set up health insurance exchanges, as required by the health care law for individuals to buy coverage with government subsidies, or expand its Medicaid program to provide insurance to those making up to 133 percent of the poverty level. The federal government will set up the exchanges if the state won’t.

"Reject bogus ‘health services’ amendment".

Roughly 1 million gay, lesbian or bisexual voters in Florida

"The marriage issue raises special concerns for roughly 1 million gay, lesbian or bisexual voters in Florida — many clustered in South and Central Florida — and for countless religious conservatives. Evangelical voters amounted to an estimated 40 percent of Republicans who turned out for Florida's presidential primary this year. The political impact extends to like-minded voters on both sides, including supportive friends and family members."

"It closed that enthusiasm gap," Ron Mills, 58, of Fort Lauderdale, campaign director of the GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender) Democratic Caucus, said of Obama's recent statements and actions. . . .

Mills estimates that Obama won as much as 75 percent of Florida's GLBT vote when he carried Florida in 2008, and he predicted that the president could get 80 percent to 85 percent of their vote this year.

A gay Republican leader, Andy Eddy, 65, of Deerfield Beach, has a somewhat different prediction. He estimates that Romney will get at least 30 percent of Florida's gay and lesbian vote, about the same as GOP candidate John McCain received in 2008. Many gay voters are appalled by Obama's record on the economy and will remain loyal to Republicans, said Eddy, a board member of the Log Cabin Republicans of Broward County.

Eddy added, however, that the fervent resistance to gay marriage by religious groups that back Romney may have blocked an opportunity for Republicans to gain support this year.

"It may very well steer votes away, especially in a county like Broward that is heavily Democratic," he said.

The issue is important for reasons that go well beyond the symbolism and customs of marriage.

"Marriage itself affords other benefits that most people take for granted: child-visitation rights, inheritance issues, immigration issues, the ability to sponsor one's spouse so they can become an American citizen, tax breaks," said Justin Flippen, former vice mayor of Wilton Manors and a gay Democratic activist. "With the economy being what it is, it's unfair to tax gay and lesbian couples more than married couples. Those are issues that hit home."

At the same time, Obama's support for same-sex marriage has spurred conservative activists to safeguard what they see as traditional values.

"It has created additional motivation and a sense of urgency," said John Stemberger, president of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, a well-connected advocacy group for traditional marriage. "Both the parties and the candidates, with some exceptions, couldn't be farther apart in their positions on these issues."

Though he has not formally endorsed Romney, Stemberger said he has organized the largest campaign effort in the group's history, mustering 25 staff members and thousands of volunteers to canvass neighborhoods and operate phone banks. The group has held 37 conferences with 1,600 pastors and hosted rallies in Pensacola and Miami. Another rally is planned for Orlando.

In an oblique reference to some conservative Christians' discomfort with Romney's past positions and Mormon religion, Stemberger said, "The issue is: Can we turn out people and have them vote their values?

"Clash over same-sex marriage motivates voters".