Sunday, November 18, 2012

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

Recount Deadline Missed: Murphy claims victory

"Campaign officials for Patrick Murphy, Democrat candidate for the congressional district 18 race, are calling their candidate the winner because the St. Lucie Canvassing Board has missed the noon deadline to certify results to the state Division of Elections." "Murphy camp declares victory due to missed deadline". See also "Noon passes and no results yet in St. Lucie elections recount".

"Viva la Diferencia" dividing Cubans from all other Latinos

"Being on the losing team never felt so good. Just don’t expect U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to acknowledge it."

“My trip to Iowa has nothing to do with 2016,” he said Thursday, a remark no one in Washington took seriously, even though Rubio pointed out the visit was set up months ago back when he expected Mitt Romney would be seeking re-election in four years.
"Yet there was Rubio on Saturday evening in the state that holds the first nominating contest, giving a keynote speech at a birthday fundraiser for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad."
Absurd as it may seem — the next presidential election is 48 months away — potential contenders are taking faint steps, and Rubio has claimed his spot in the fray. Two years ago, he defied convention by winning a Senate seat on the winds of the tea party. Now he is propelled by a demographic crisis. . . .

The party has a strong list of possible contenders, from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Romney running mate Paul Ryan and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. As Rubio continues to expand his profile, critics will increase scrutiny.

“The wattage goes up significantly on the bulb that shines once you try to emerge on the national stage,” said Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, which will happily share a dossier, hundreds of pages long, that opposition researchers assembled on Rubio as he was being considered for Romney’s running mate. . . .

A post-election National Journal poll of insiders showed Republicans think Rubio is the strongest candidate for president, followed by Jeb Bush, one of the undisputed heavyweights of Florida politics. During a rally in Miami a week before the election, Rubio and Bush stood on stage with Romney but it was Rubio’s name the crowd shouted, and when it came time to introduce the candidate, Rubio stepped forward.

"Rubio, eyes on 2016, pays Iowa a visit". See also "Rubio makes first postelection trip to Iowa", "Rubio's Iowa visit sparks 2016 speculation" and "Rubio takes message to Iowa".

The GOPers just don't understand "the differences that divide Cubans from all other Latinos. While not all Cubans believe in the differences, the Cuban GOP Right does. In fact Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla, is the poster boy for 'Viva la Diferencia'." "There Are Hispanics and Then There Are Cubans".

Separate and apart from that, Latinos recognize an empty suit when they see one: When Rubio's name was floated as a possible VP nominee, those who studied these things recognized that "most Latinos in and outside of Florida are not enthused about a Rubio candidacy, both in general and when it comes to the specific issue of immigration. Nominating Rubio would not be a game changer for Romney in winning the hearts and minds of the Latino electorate, not even in the swing state of Florida, the one place where a Rubio candidacy might have mattered to the general election." "Nominating Marco Rubio Likely Not a Game Changer for Romney in Florida".

Interactive map: Miami-Dade's longest and shortest lines

"During the 2012 Presidential Election, voting locations in the south and west tended to shut down the latest in Miami-Dade County, indicating they had the biggest lines at the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time." "Interactive map: Longest and shortest lines on Election Day in Miami-Dade County".

Murphy-West numbers due by Noon, Sunday

"The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board resumed ballot counting this morning in the tight congressional race between Republican Rep. Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy under the watchful eyes of dozens of attorneys and supporter of both candidates."

Canvassing board member Tod Lowery, who regularly updates the audience on the process, explained that the board still had write-in ballots and other questionable ballots from 8 days of early voting to review before the noon deadline for the state’s 67 supervisors of elections to submit their final, certified tallies to the state Division of Elections.

Last Sunday, the canvassing board agree to recount ballots cast the last three days of early voting after election officials revealed that machines had been unable to read some of the electronic memory cartridges. West’s attorneys then sought a recount of all early ballots after the elections office admitted double-counting some ballots and ignoring others on election night.

“There was such a cloud of suspicion,” said Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a Boca Raton attorney on the West legal team. Shapiro observed much of the ballot review in Palm Beach county. “I felt the way the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections handled it created suspicion and I still don’t know if it was unnecessary or justified.”

That recount began at 9:40 a.m. yesterday and continued until 10 p.m. The canvassing board resumed counting at 8 a.m. today. Unlike the 4-day ballot review in Palm Beach county that ended November 10, where Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher offered few updates and ignored or routinely declined to answer questions from reporters, attorneys and the public, the St. Lucie Canvassing Board has allowed representatives has encouraged officials from both campaigns to agree on protocol. That includes how and when results will be released today.

"West-Murphy recount resumes as deadline looms". See also "Judge Refuses to Halt Recount in West-Murphy Saga".

SNL ridicules Florida

"‘Saturday Night Live’ ridicules Florida in Petraeus scandal".

Rick Scott's Promise

"Nearly 2,000 state workers are being displaced from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration because of the nation’s biggest outsourcing of prison health care."

“Due to the outsourcing of this function, your position will be deleted,” reads a dryly worded dismissal notice from the Department of Corrections, sent to 1,890 state employees in the past two weeks.

The Department of Corrections signed a $230 million contract with Corizon Healthcare of Nashville to provide all health care in central and north Florida prisons and is negotiating contract terms with Wexford Health Sources of Pittsburgh to take over health care in nine South Florida prisons for $48 million a year. In the dismissal letters, prison officials emphasize that dismissed workers will get first consideration for new jobs at one of the two for-profit vendors, though with fewer benefits. The workers also expect to pay more out of their pockets for their own health insurance.

Many make less than $35,000 a year, have not had a raise in six years and live in economically distressed areas home to many state prisons, including Bradford, Dixie, Levy, Suwannee and Union counties.

"Fallout from privatizing prison healthcare: layoffs".

"I'm as conservative as you can get"

"After Crist endorsed Obama and was preparing to speak at the Democratic National Convention, the state GOP paid for a statewide television ad to knock him down. The ad showed video of Crist praising prominent Republicans like former Gov. Jeb Bush, former President George W. Bush and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. It also showed Crist saying he is pro-life and pro-gun, and ends with him saying, 'I'm as conservative as you can get.'" "Fla. GOP tries to beat Crist before he can run".

"Dems got their mojo back . . . Well, sort of"

Myriam Marquez: "The Florida Democratic Party is gloating after the Nov. 6 election, as well it should. After two decades of losses, facing a veto-proof GOP majority in the Legislature, a tea party governor who spent $73 million of his own money in a TV sweepstakes to win, the Dems got their mojo back."

Well, sort of.

Florida Democrats can point to gaining four seats in Congress, handing President Barack Obama a second term and finally breaking the supermajority hold that the Republican Party has in Tallahassee by picking up a handful of legislative seats. Voters also gave a resounding ‘No’ to the Republican Party of Florida’s attempt to kick out three state Supreme Court justices for rulings the party disagrees with (talk about one-party state), and nixed constitutional amendments that sought to inject government into women’s reproductive rights and open the door to public funding of religious schools.

"Obama won Florida, but it was more a testament to his own re-election team’s organization than anything the Democratic Party did."
Heck, just two years ago, at the height of the tea party frenzy, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink wouldn’t even mention the president. Instead of defending healthcare reform, she scampered away, and lost to a man who didn’t even get the majority vote.

When you check on several of the young Republican bucks that have been elected in recent years in Miami-Dade, you find that they started out as interns for legislators, many of them non-Hispanics, in Tallahassee. They gained experience on how the system works, and they built connections from the Panhandle to the Keys. If Democrats really want to build on their get-out-the-vote success, and ensure it’s not a flash in the political pan, they need to get out and groom young Hispanics.

"Democrats are gloating over Florida wins but not so fast".

"Trying to rationalize the nuts' positions"

Scott Maxwell discusses how "more than 33,000 people have signed an online petition for Florida to secede from the United States."

Yes, it's 1861 all over again … well, except without any of these folks actually sacrificing anything for their alleged principles.

In fact, in 2012, you don't even have to leave your cubicle. Or give your last name.

Instead, the president made the mistake of setting up a website to listen to citizens' concerns — and the nuts quickly pounced.

Guys such as "Thomas V." from Mansfield, Ohio, are now demanding that Florida secede.

Don't ask me to explain why a guy from Ohio thinks anyone should give a flip about his opinions on Florida. Trying to rationalize the nuts' positions is like trying to explain calculus to my cat.

Still, Tom V. from Ohio had plenty of company from residents here in Florida. I saw cybersignatures from Orlando, Ocoee and Ormond Beach. . . .

So what do these seceders want?

Well, the petition says they want the White House to "Peacefully grant the State of Florida to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government."

Florida is not alone. Thousands of residents from other states — including Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina — are also asking to secede.

So I say: Let 'em.

"Oh, nuts! It's secession talk again".

"State's hand may be forced on gambling regulations". See also "Timeline of gambling in Florida".

Scott approaches Sebelius on bended knee

"Gov. Scott seeks meeting with Sebelius before deciding Florida’s health exchange". Yesterday: "Scott asks for health care meeting".

Brilliant mistake

"The Miami-Dade Elections Department had a plan earlier this year to evenly distribute voters across polling places on Election Day, to avoid packing thousands of people into precincts where the population had boomed."

But the plan was put on hold because county leaders didn’t want to confuse voters by changing their polling places before a presidential election.
"Miami-Dade put off plan to draw new precincts before Election Day".