Sunday, July 14, 2013

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

"Awkward signs of division between the governor and top Republicans"

Adam Smith: "As much as leaders of the Florida Republican Party want to project unity, we keep seeing awkward signs of division between the governor's office and other top Republicans, especially over Medicaid expansion."

Take Attorney General Pam Bondi's latest appearance on Fox News last week. The party was happy to send out a video clip of Bondi's appearance, but cut off the clip when she hailed the decision of Republican legislative leaders to reject billions of federal money to expand Medicaid.

Gov. Rick Scott, who really leads the state party, supported taking the money (after thundering against the Affordable Care Act for years).

"Likewise, when Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry recently gave the News Service of Florida a 'five questions' interview, the party blasted out an email that included only four of his five answers."
Lopped off? Curry on Medicaid expansion: "This is the one where there were no good choices. The governor took the information before him and made the best decision that he thought that he could," Curry said. "And then it had to go through the Legislature, and they made their decision, and that's just the process. It is what it is at this stage. That's why we have elected representatives."
"Florida Republican divide over Medicaid expansion creates awkward gaps".

RPOF looks to mimic Dem campaigns

"The Republican Party of Florida's quarterly meeting centered on pushing a positive message of economic recovery under Gov. Rick Scott to people beyond its traditional voter base, but also on data mining and targeting more voters through an aggressive ground game in 2014." "RPOF: We'll win in 2014 if we tell our story ... to more people".

Good luck.

The LA Times reported just after Obama's re-election that "No other presidential campaign has relied so heavily on the science of analytics, using information to predict voting patterns. Election day may have changed the game." "Obama campaign's investment in data crunching paid off". See also this article from MIT Technology Review, "How President Obama’s campaign used big data to rally individual voters".

Week in review

"Week in Review for July 12, 2013".

RPOF "building a mammoth war chest"

William March: "State Republicans appear to be building a mammoth war chest heading into 2014, when they'll be defending Gov. Rick Scott against a re-election challenge. Florida Democrats, meantime, have shown only tepid fundraising so far this year, despite the election of a new party chairman, Allison Tant of Tallahassee, who campaigned for the party office partly on her ability to raise money." "Republicans ahead in fundraising race".

The real "moochers"

Robyn Blumner: "Leave it to Rush Limbaugh to bellyache about the good life of the unemployed. Limbaugh is part of a conservative push to paint people who have lost jobs during the worst economic downturn in recent history as welfare queens."

Yes, what life must be like living on the average unemployment check of $300 per week, or $230 a week in Florida, the state where Limbaugh resides in a Palm Beach compound worth tens of millions of dollars. . . .

Florida's state benefits are now down to 19 weeks and could go as low as 12 weeks due to changes passed in 2011 under Republican Gov. Rick Scott. (Though federal benefits are still available thereafter.) In addition, only about 17 percent of Floridians eligible for benefits actually receive them — the worst rate in the country. A complex online process makes it so hard to apply that the U.S. Department of Labor said it violates the civil rights of people with disabilities and those who have difficulty with English.

Even if we put compassion aside, this intense effort to end benefits and force unemployed people into any job no matter how menial or low-paying is shortsighted for state economies.

Do we really want an engineer to take a job as a restaurant server because she can't afford to look for a job on a reasonable par with the one she lost? The low wages she earns will result in her family qualifying for public benefits instead of paying significant taxes. How does this serve the state's long-run interests?

It is a bizarre world view that says struggling Americans laid off during a recession are "moochers" if they receive unemployment insurance or food stamps, but not when they take farm subsidies, private school vouchers or any form of corporate welfare.

"It doesn't pay to be jobless".

GOP stronghold has no problem with free lunches

"The percentage of Pasco County students who qualified for the free or reduced-price meal program continued to climb this past school year, a possible indication that many area families still struggle to make ends meet in a slowly recovering economy." "More students eligible for free meals".


"Weak evidence and state witnesses who helped the defense case combined to torpedo the prosecution of George Zimmerman on second-degree murder or manslaughter charges, say legal analysts." "State never proved its case, legal analysts say".

After the great job Crist's appointees did on the FRS case

"It could be called Charlie’s Court, and it could reign for a decade or more."

Should former Gov. Charlie Crist once again win election to the governor’s office, he will likely have four more appointments to the Florida Supreme Court, including the replacement of Justice James Perry, whom he appointed in 2009 and faces mandatory retirement in 2017.

Including his four picks to the bench during his previous term from 2007 to 2011, that means all seven members of the court could be Crist appointees by the end of his second term -- if he’s re-elected in 2014.

“That’s never happened before,” said former state lawmaker Talbot "Sandy" D’Alemberte, who was instrumental in implementing judicial reforms in the 1970s. He noted that historically, justices were elected positions until 1974, and governors have only recently been able to appoint judges. It’s a power that extends well beyond a governor's term in office.

"Charlie's court? Crist could pick entire Supreme Court if he wins second term".

"Enormous and illegal"

"Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Francis Suarez must take down their enormous, and illegal, campaign signs by early August." "Oversize political signs in Miami to be taken down".