Monday, February 04, 2013

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

Rubio's "problem is how to embrace a Democratic idea without giving the Democrats credit"

Randy Schultz on Rubio's immigration plan:

What Sen. Rubio and his colleagues have proposed as a reform “principle” — permanent legal status for illegal immigrants, with the chance to seek citizenship after meeting certain conditions — has been a Democratic idea for more than a decade. It became a bipartisan idea in 2007, when President George W. Bush tried immigration reform.
"But nearly all the opposition to reform has come from Republicans."
In December 2010, Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly against the DREAM Act, which would have granted permanent resident status to younger illegal immigrants whose parents brought them as children. That proposal also would have imposed conditions: Get a two-year college degree or serve two years in the military.

The right wing of the GOP still opposes a path to citizenship. And if Sen. Rubio has national ambitions, he would have to face tea party voters in a primary. He wants to keep his options open for 2016, so he would like to keep their support.

Similarly, right-wing TV and radio shouters who for years have railed against “amnesty” when Democrats proposed it also want to adjust to the realities of America’s new electorate and help Republicans recover from the licking they took last November. The shouters also want to keep their audiences.

The problem is how to embrace a Democratic idea without giving the Democrats credit. So Sen. Rubio and right-wing media want to make the moderate, reasonable proposal of legal status for illegal immigrants — an idea that most Americans now support, based on recent polls, and one that The [Palm Beach] Post has supported for a decade — a conservative idea.

"Rubio breaks with tea party on immigration reform".

"Crist about to draw fire from both the left and the right"

"Charlie Crist, the once and certainly hoping-to-be-future governor of Florida, is riding high at the moment, dreaming of a return to Tallahassee -- but he's about to draw fire from both the left and the right."

Crist is certainly gaining ground with Democrats, despite spending most of his political career as a Republican before moving over to no party affiliation after Marco Rubio caught him in the Republican primary battle for the U.S. Senate in 2010. After endorsing Barack Obama for re-election and speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Crist switched to the Democrats late in 2012 and attended the presidential inauguration in January.
However, "Scott is starting to develop his line of attack against Crist. In many ways it’s a replay of what propelled Scott to victories over Bill McCollum and Sink in 2010 -- a focus on job creation. In recent weeks, Scott has clearly attempted to contrast his record on jobs with Crist. Scott has repeatedly noted that when Crist took office in January 2007 Florida had a 3.5 percent unemployment rate. When Crist left in January 2011, that rate was almost 12 percent. With the unemployment rate down to 8 percent in December 2012, Scott is already hammering home the differences between his record and Crist’s."
Crist has drawn attacks from left and right before, namely in 2010 when he was under fire from Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek and Rubio. Despite solid leads in the primary polls against Rubio, Crist collapsed and eventually continued his campaign with no party affiliation. In the summer of 2010, Crist had healthy leads over Rubio and Meek in the polls. On Election Day, Rubio took 49 percent while Crist took a distant second with less than 30 percent.

As he runs for office yet again, Crist is riding high for the moment. But he’s pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory before. With more than a year and a half until Election Day, his leads in the Democratic primary and in the general election should not be taken for granted.

"For Charlie Crist, It's the Lull Before the Storm".

Rubio rolls teabaggers

"Rubio was lifted to national prominence with help from the tea party, but his leadership on immigration reform has elicited strong reaction from members of the conservative movement, from outrage to acceptance." "Sen. Marco Rubio's role in immigration debate draws tea party criticism and support".

"Republicans pounce"

"Republicans pounced last week when newly sworn-in Rep. Murphy of Jupiter appeared in a testimonial video for House Majority PAC. The PAC is a Democratic organ that raised $35.8 million in 2011-12 by taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allows corporations and labor unions to make unlimited political expenditures if the spending isn’t coordinated with candidates." "GOP slams Murphy for thanking PACs after criticizing them".

"Navarro: no nonsense GOP operative"

"Long a behind-the-scenes political player, Republican political consultant Ana Navarro these days is often showing off her frankness and impeccable fashion style on cable TV. Last year, CNN and CNN en Espanol hired her as a political analyst." "Ana Navarro: no nonsense GOP operative always speaks her mind".

"A Florida whodunit"

Marc Caputo writes that "the cast of possible characters in the drama . . . includes a Senator, a high-flying donor, prostitutes, Republican dirty tricksters, Cuban spies, and federal agents. For now, it certainly reads like a mystery novel. But truth can be stranger than fiction." "With sex, the FBI and shady characters, the Menendez saga is a Florida whodunit".

"Where were the legislative leaders"?

"Where were the legislative leaders who should have been looking out for taxpayer interests?" "Boondoggle sinks $20M in Florida funds".

Scott’s latest gimmick

"Gov. Rick Scott’s push to keep tuition low includes a new twist submitted with his budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The governor’s idea: tuition should be the same when students graduate as when they start. Scott has offered legislation that would hold tuition steady for four years for students entering a state university this fall or afterward." "Gov. Rick Scott pushes 'Finish in Four' tuition plan to save college students money".

"Senator Disappear-Down-the-Back-Stairway"

Nancy Smith: "Even folks who voted for Bill Nelson have to wonder how Senator Disappear-Down-the-Back-Stairway can make a '10 Toughest Politicians in Washington Today' list." "Just When You Think You've Heard It All, Bill Nelson Gets Named One of America's '10 Toughest Politicians'".

Jim Greer's witness list

"Former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer, set for trial in less than two weeks, has filed a witness list, that includes a great many political heavyweights:"

former Gov. Charlie Crist, former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, former Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon and former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

It also lists former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, House Speaker Will Weatherford, former party chief John Thrasher and many others. . . . And although it reads like who's who of Florida GOP office holders, it also includes key party insiders and fund-raisers, including lobbyist Brian Ballard, Harry Sargeant, Al Hoffman and Tom Feeney, a former member of Congress and now head of Associated Industries.

"Jim Greer witness list a who's who of state politics: Crist, McCollum, Cannon, etc."

"More like a fraternity than a collection of serious statesmen"

Scott Maxwell: "If you've ever thought that Florida's Legislature looked more like a fraternity than a collection of serious statesmen, there's a reason for that … besides just the immaturity of their ideas. Legislative leaders are increasingly closer to college students in age as well." "In Florida Legislature, inexperience rules".

5 things to know

"5 things to know in Florida for Feb. 4".

GOP-leaning advocacy group: "Don't mention Ronald Reagan"

"As the national debate over immigration reform began last week, a GOP-leaning advocacy group circulated talking points for Republicans. Among them: Don't mention Ronald Reagan."

The unusual warning to party faithful reflects the hangover Reagan left over immigration reform in 1986 by granting amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act was pitched as a get-tough moment, with sanctions on employers and beefed-up border control. But it was largely a failure.

"Reagan’s record haunts debate".

"Hazards of keeping guns in the home"

"Florida doctors, backed by the White House but opposed by state lawmakers and the powerful gun-owners' lobby, are fighting for the right to talk to patients and their families about the hazards of keeping guns in the home."

They are especially concerned about mentally distressed patients who may pose a threat to themselves or others. But mostly, they want to talk with the parents of young children about safety measures to keep guns out of harm's way and prevent accidental shootings.
"Docs challenge gun lobby to raise safety concerns".

Last raise for all state employees was 6 years ago

"The last across-the-board pay raise for state workers was Oct. 1, 2006. We rate the statement True." "PolitiFact: State workers' last raise for all 6 years ago".