Friday, March 08, 2013

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

Clinton holds a dominant lead among Latino voters against Rubio

"Hillary Clinton holds a dominant lead among Latino voters with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a head to head matchup for president, according to a new national poll that could impact a fierce debate within the GOP over immigration."

The survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University, tested a variety of possible 2016 pairings with 1,944 registered voters and had a margin of error of +/-2.2 percent. Clinton lead Rubio by a 50-34 margin, including 60-24 among Latino voters. Rubio performed worse than Chris Christie overall, who trailed Clinton 45-37 nationally, and only slightly better with Latinos, where Christie was down 62-23.
"Poll: Rubio Trails Hillary Big Time Among Latinos". See also "March 7, 2013 - Clinton, Christie Lead The Pack In Early Look At 2016, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds" and "".

"Jeb Bush isn't ready for the national stage"

Adam Smith writes that "maybe, after all the gushing about his policy chops, strong executive record and ability to broaden the appeal of conservative Republicans [by the obsequious media], Jeb Bush isn't ready for the national stage."

Certainly anyone watching the clumsy kickoff of his book tour this week — where he pushed the 2016 presidential door wide open — had to acknowledge that his political skills are a bit rusty six years after leaving Florida's Governor's Mansion. . . .

A series of national interviews this week made Bush look like a cross between Mitt Romney — flip-flopper — and Rick Perry — having to walk back what he wrote in his own book.

"Clumsy book tour shows Jeb Bush still untested on national stage"

"Jeb Bush watchers had been amazed and scratching their heads last week when Jeb came forward and placed himself squarely on the right of the immigration reform debate, outlining a flat no to a so-called ‘path to citizenship’."

Was he cleverly outmaneuvering the likes of Marco Rubio? Was this an ingenius bid to stomp into the 2016 presidential race? None of it seemed to make sense since Bush is or was a pro-immigration reform guy from a pro-reform political dynasty.

By the end of this week though it was looking like he was just off his game or even more comically that his book had simply gone to press while being an immigration hardliner was still good politics.

Well, now he’s admitted that the most embarrassing explanation is actually the real one.

"Simply Amazing". See also "Bush’s line on immigration".

House's "scheme is a recipe for inconsistent access to the polls"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "It was designed to be a symbolic gesture of significant proportions. On the first day of the 2013 session Tuesday, the Florida House overwhelmingly approved a mea culpa bill aimed at correcting the legislative-created dysfunction of the 2012 election. Despite its good intentions, the House legislation falls short of the cure-all Republican leaders claim — particularly when it comes to early voting. "

Florida's election issues in November can be tied directly to the 2011 Legislature. Dramatically shortened early voting opportunities combined with a ballot the Legislature crammed full of lengthy constitutional amendments led to extraordinary lines at the polls on Election Day. In parts of Miami-Dade County, some ballots weren't cast until after midnight. Then it took days for county elections officials to process the record number of absentee ballots that were cast.
"The scheme is a recipe for inconsistent access to the polls and flies in the face of the state's arguments as it defended the 2011 law that reduced early voting and drew objections from the U.S. Justice Department as it applied to five counties — including Hills-borough — with a history of discrimination."
House Republicans said all the right things this week about learning from the 2012 election. But actions speak louder than words
"House voting reforms don't go far enough". See also "" and "".

"Jeb!" laff riot

Jebbie is scrambling to explain his monumental flip-floppery: "Jeb Bush (R), who caused controversy this week when he came out against a pathway to citizenship despite previously supporting one, pointed out in his defense that he didn't anticipate others, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), would make the switch in the opposite direction." "Jeb Bush : Marco Rubio 'Wasn't For' Path To Citizenship When Book Was Written".

Even the wingers at the Daily Caller are in a dither: "Jeb Bush continues to amaze and confuse. Not only is it weird that he flip-flopped on immigration himself, but now he’s spinning excuses — and seeking to undermine other Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio."


"Scott’s endorsement of a plan to expand Medicaid has many Republicans fuming, but not Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist." "Charlie Crist backs Medicaid expansion".

Forst fuss

"In the wake of Gov. Rick Scott's appointment of Alan Forst to the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal, Sunshine State News has discovered that state Supreme Court Justices Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince donated nearly $30,000 to the liberal activist group that opposed Forst's candidacy." "Justices Pariente, Quince Gave $30,000 to Liberal Group Opposing Conservative Colleagues". Background: "Rick Scott Foils Liberal Activists, Appoints Alan Forst to 4th District Court of Appeal".

The writer failed to mention that the so-called "liberal activist group" is headed by one Alex Villalobos, the former Republican majority leader of the Senate.


"A bill that would shift some of the cost of cleaning up the Everglades from sugar and agricultural interests to Florida taxpayers and South Florida property owners is on the fast track in the Florida House." "House pushes bill to cap Everglades cleanup costs for agriculture". See also "Everglades Bill Gets Strong Bipartisan Support from House Committee".

More: "House committee rejects environmental opposition, votes to file Everglades bill". See also "Florida sugar growers win House vote on Everglades pollution payout".

"Health care workers rally"

"About 400 health care workers crowded the Florida Capitol on Thursday, singing, chanting — with even a few in costume — to urge legislative leaders to endorse the Medicaid expansion allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act." "Health care workers rally at Florida Capitol to expand Medicaid coverage".

"Five things to look for"

"Five things to look for in Friday’s Legislative session".

Bills can be amended "without leaving a fingerprint"

The Palm Beach Post editors: "The Florida Senate made a big show this week of passing an ethics reform bill that Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville said is long overdue. He’s right, but missing is a requirement that legislators legislate in the sunshine."

As it stands, senators and representatives can amend bills without leaving a fingerprint. There’s no way to tell who is responsible, and thus no one to hold accountable.
"Florida Legislature should repeal special-interest billboard law".

Scott "hasn't followed through" on ethics

Steve Bousquet: "Long before the Legislature saw the need for new ethics laws, Gov. Rick Scott made a bold commitment to fight public corruption. But he hasn't followed through." "Rick Scott promised big ethics reform, but nothing has happened".

And the problem with FRS is what?

"A bill proposing major changes to the Florida Retirement System pension program will be brought up this morning before the House Appropriations Committee." "House committee takes up FRS pension revision bill".

Charter madness

"Charter Schools Post Higher Scores than Traditional Public Schools in Florida".

Scott and Weatherford "self-serving, and ultimately disgraceful"

Frank Cerabino: "Can we please have a moratorium on telling heart-melting family stories as a way to peddle your views on who should pay for the health care of Floridians?"

Yes, I’m talking to you, Gov. Rick Scott and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Both men dipped into their family histories this week to arrive at opposite conclusions about whether Florida should opt in to an expansion of Medicaid in the new national health care law.

I guess both performances were supposed to make the men seem more caring and compassionate. But they were mostly self-serving, and ultimately disgraceful.

"State lawmakers should leave the sad family stories to those that really matter".

"This is what passes for economic-development in our state"

Scott Maxwell: "Last year, Florida agreed to give up to $430,000 in incentives to a company that promised to bring 300 jobs to South Florida."

Last month, that same company filed for bankruptcy.

Oh, and as it turns out, the chairman of the company was a convicted cocaine trafficker. . . .

This, my friends, is what passes for economic-development in our state: hoping the convicted drug guy who lied on his incentives application left behind a team capable of bringing the company out of bankruptcy.

Welcome to Florida.

"State incentives for … a cocaine trafficker?".

"Property insurance overhaul"

"Property insurance overhaul clears Senate panel".

The education experts are at it again

"Another year, another highly-charged debate over educational accountability. The same players are arranging themselves around the same board. The number on the bill has changed, but not much else, with Republicans and conservative groups pushing for reforms versus Democrats and liberal groups opting for status quo." "GOP Clears First Step in Push for School Fixes, Accountability". Related: "Controversial 'parent trigger' bill passes its first test in Legislature" and "House moves parent-trigger legislation".

Rick Scott and the "business lobbyists"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "It is a common refrain among conservative politicians that government should be managed like a business. But sensible efforts by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to introduce greater accountability into the way the state negotiates more than $50 billion in private sector contracts and grants has run into difficulty with Gov. Rick Scott and business lobbyists." "Sharper eye needed on state contracts".