Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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

Possibility of primary challenge to oust Scott

William March: "Emboldened by their gains on Nov. 6, Florida Democrats are buoyant with enthusiasm to take on Gov. Rick Scott in 2014."

Recognizing Scott's low popularity, meanwhile, some Republicans are talking about the possibility of a primary challenge to oust him and pick a different candidate for governor in 2014.

But even those Republicans realize the odds of a credible challenge are slim.

Despite their confidence, Democrats face their own problems — a field of candidates with no clear champion, all with at least some drawbacks.

Because of former Gov. Charlie Crist's recent alliance with President Barack Obama, some Democrats consider him the Democratic front-runner. But not all are prepared to accept the former Republican, and Crist won't get the nomination without a fight, probably against Alex Sink of Tampa and others.

Scott's job approval ratings have improved during his tenure but remain upside-down.

"'There's quiet opposition within the party,' said retired University of South Florida political scientist Darryl Paulson, a Republican."
Potential challengers mentioned include Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who couldn't be reached for comment last week, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Asked about the subject during a Romney Tampa campaign event Oct. 31, Putnam, who's widely expected to run for governor some day, sounded negative about a 2014 race but didn't close the door. "I don't anticipate a primary," he said.

Former GOP Chairman Tom Slade said he has heard "whispers" that state Sen. John Thrasher would have the fundraising ability and political clout to mount a challenge, but no serious talk of it.

"The elephant in the room," he said, is former Gov. Jeb Bush, "clearly the strongest candidate we've got for anything in Florida." But most Republicans are skeptical Bush would run for governor again.

Putnam, possibly the strongest candidate known to be interested in the governorship, is only 38 and can afford to wait for a better opportunity, several Republicans noted.

A major obstacle to any primary challenger is that Scott could spend heavily from his own personal fortune on a campaign. In 2010, he spent more than $70 million.

"Gov. Scott seen as beatable in 2014".

West prays Murphy puts the interests of the nation "before his own"

"Allen West concedes, congratulates Patrick Murphy". In one last cheap shot, West prayed that Murphy would "put the interests of our nation before his own". "Allen West Ends Quest for Congressional Seat".

Michael Mayo doesn't "know why West is fighting so hard. He'll rake in more cash from speeches/appearances/broadcast gigs as a conservative blowhard than he ever could in Congress." "Allen West's legacy: Recounts for everyone!".

Imagine that: Tampa depicted as a "yahoo town"

The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Tampa is taking its lumps for the David Petraeus affair."

"Saturday Night Live" lampooned the city last weekend with a skit featuring a "never-used Tampa correspondent" and punk-talking, self-proclaimed Tampa Mayor Derek "Fat Deuce" Derek, who bragged about Tampa having everything, including "cigars, Jill Kelley, tattoos" and gutted-out Applebee's — or at least that is what we thought he said.

It was funny, but pointedly depicted Tampa as a yahoo town.

During the show's "Weekend Update," anchor Seth Meyers called Kelley and the entire state of Florida "losers," saying sordid sex scandals are like Jewish New Yorkers: "They always find their way to Florida."

National Public Radio's humorous quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," also had fun at our expense. The Daily Beast reported MacDill Air Force Base was known as "party central" to the military.

"Embarrassing limelight must not intimidate Tampa".

"Florida can always be counted on to be the Ground Zero of Zeroes"

Daniel Ruth writes that "whenever some weird, strange, twisted, perverse story surfaces involving tawdry sex, or political chicanery, or complete morons, Florida can always be counted on to be at the Ground Zero of Zeroes." "A rotten cherry atop sleaze sundae".

"Secret Emails Controversy"

"No Sunshine? Florida Connection to Obama Environmental Agency Secret Emails Controversy".

Marco speaks

"In what many see as the first steps toward the 2016 presidential contest, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, outlined a road map for his party while attending a birthday party in Iowa for Gov. Terry Branstad". "Marco Rubio’s 2016 Advice for the GOP: Make ‘Poor People Richer’".

And so it begins

"The two men taking the reins of the Florida Legislature this week are a character study of shifting political eras." "Legislature's new leaders — a political odd couple — promise ethics reforms". See also "Democrats pick legislative leaders". Steve Bousquet: "The Class of 2012 arrives at the Capitol in Tallahassee ahead of a one-day organizational session. As the newbies look ahead with idealism, they would be wise to look back, too. The history of the Legislature is full of good lessons." "New Capitol class can learn from past".

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "Good signs from the Legislature". See also "Gambling, Obamacare Committees Forming in Senate", "Sen. Gaetz calls for new ethics rules, shakes up committee structure" and "Ethics Refresher Before Florida Senators".

Privatization follies

Bill Cotterell: "Unions for public workers and the Florida Nurses Association contend the Department of Corrections and legislative leadership went too far when it requested bids from private corporations to provide services for inmates." "Judge hears lawsuit on prison health care privatization".

"A skeptical judge on Monday raised questions about whether it was legal for the state to move ahead with a plan to privatize nearly 3,000 jobs in the state's prisons. Circuit Judge John Cooper spent more than two hours Monday hearing a lawsuit from three public employee unions that challenged a move by the state's prison agency to have private companies take over prison health care operations." "Florida judge skeptical about prison privatization". See also "Lawsuit Could Bring Ruling on Legislative Budget Commission's Power".

Miami-Dade elections supervisor in spotlight

"Unlike in every other county in the state, the Miami-Dade elections supervisor is not elected."

Florida — and Miami-Dade and Broward counties in particular — once again became the butt of post-election jokes, and that some voters were deterred by the lengthy waits.

Speaking on Spanish-language television two days after the election, former Miami City Manager Joe Arriola called for [the Miami-Dade elections supervisor,Penelope Townsley's] ouster.

“Just because Broward County got a double ‘F’, we still got an ‘F’, didn’t we?” Arriola later told The Miami Herald. “This is very poor preparation. I am absolutely adamant that if she’s in charge, she needs to pay the price.”

But Townsley’s boss, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, has backed his appointee. Unlike in every other county in the state, the Miami-Dade elections supervisor is not elected.

“I’m not going to put everything on her,” Gimenez said after Election Day, when he announced plans to convene a task force to recommend elections improvements.

"Voting lines, slow counting put Miami-Dade elections supervisor in spotlight". Related: "Why you spent hours in line at the polls".

Still the same

"The incoming leaders of the Florida Legislature say they want to clean up the state's murky campaign-finance laws by doing away with third-party funds that lawmakers use to accept giant checks from corporations, unions and wealthy benefactors."

But they're not proposing to choke the flow of political cash. Instead, they want to lift the 30-year-old, $500 limit on checks to candidate re-election committees so they can take more cash directly.
"Proposed campaign reforms wouldn't choke off political cash".

"Florida's 825,000 undocumented immigrants suddenly have brighter prospects"

"In the wake of the 2012 elections, most of Florida's 825,000 undocumented immigrants suddenly have brighter prospects for becoming legal residents — and maybe, someday, U.S. citizens." "Election boosts chances for an immigration overhaul".

Citizens scandal?

"Scott is now backing calls to have the state inspector general look into why the corporate integrity team was dismantled at Citizens Property Insurance Corp."

Scott on Monday directed Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel to study the termination of the four members of the watchdog team after a report was released Friday that the integrity team was investigating how leadership at Citizens handled a number of internal issues, including allegations of sexual harassment, indecent drunken behavior in public, questionable payments and falsified documents.
"Rick Scott Wants to Know Why Citizens Insurance Watchdog Team Was Fired".