Friday, July 19, 2013

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

Whither Rubio?

Josh Marshall writes that "Rubio seems trapped, on the wrong side of his party’s base on a key issue [immigration] - and one that looks unlikely even to deliver legislation that might have bipartisanship traction with middle-ground voters. "

It’s one thing to say ‘I bucked my party to bring change the country needs’, another to say ‘I bucked my party on change my country needs but it actually didn’t pan out. Sorry.’ And now he’s forced to become some sort of hyperactive conservative wild man - what he wasn’t supposed to be - in order to recoup ground on the right that likely can’t be salvaged.
"The End of Marco Rubio". But see "Too Soon To Write Off Rubio?"

We look forward to seeing Rubio revert to his natural self: "hyperactive conservative wild man".

"Tallahassee-influence-peddler starter kit"

Daniel Ruth: "You do have to wonder who is handling the Republican Party of Florida's image-crafting public relations machine these days. Paula Deen? When you are already perceived as the party of the 1 percent, is it really such a bright idea to throw a megabucks soiree aboard a luxury cruise ship on a voyage to a tropical ATM? How much does it take to purchase your Tallahassee-influence-peddler starter kit? It's $50,000 — mai tai umbrella optional."

Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-The Capt. Stubing of Legalized Baksheesh and anticipated speaker of the Florida House in 2014, decided to get a jump-start on the pocket-stuffing by arranging for the party's benefactors to sail Aug. 1-4 to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream
"As awkward optics go, the cruise to the land of gilt and money would be a bit like Quentin Tarantino complaining about too much violence in the movies."
Crisafulli, R-The Loot Boat, apparently doesn't remember or doesn't care that his party is just coming off one of the more embarrassing scandals it has endured in recent years when former RPOF Chairman Jim Greer was the social director of a Bahamian bacchanalian getaway/fundraiser for GOP big shots. It has been described as having all the class and dignity of a night on the town with Hustler Magazine's Larry Flynt.

During depositions in connection with Greer's criminal indictment on charges of money laundering and theft, to which the ex-chairman eventually pleaded guilty, testimony emerged that during an earlier Bahamian GOP event, disproportionate numbers of courtesans in golf carts were believed to be in attendance.

Now it is entirely possible all of this was merely a big misunderstanding. Perhaps Greer's GOP men's-only fundraising trip simply coincided with the Professional Association of Trollops annual golf outing. But when you claim to be the party of family values, it doesn't look very good to have under oath depositions ruminating about Jezebels in golf carts.

It was tawdry enough that the new GOP travel holiday appears to be nothing more than an opportunity for Tallahassee's schmoozing class to make generous $50,000 down payments to ensure a compliant Florida House once Crisafulli assumes the deposit slip of power.

But to have the Disney Dream return to the scene of the slime? How goofy is that?

"GOP benefactors to return to scene of the slime".

West struggles for relevancy

"Al Sharpton Draws Fire From Allen West on Zimmerman Protests". Related: "Rick Scott Rejects Call for Special Session in Meeting With Protesters".

Big of him

"After days of avoiding Capitol, Gov. Rick Scott meets with protesters".

Gaetz, Weatherford fold like cheap suits

"Florida’s two top lawmakers have serious reservations about the assessments being created to test the new curriculum standards for hundreds of thousands of public-school students. The concerns are so grave that Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford want Florida to back out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the national consortium crafting the exams, and develop its own program for testing students across the state."

Politics are likely at play. For months, the Tea Party has been blasting Florida Republicans for moving toward the Common Core and PARCC exams. The right-leaning Americans for Prosperity called the pitch from Gaetz and Weatherford “a victory for those who believe education should be controlled at a local level.”
"Florida House, Senate leaders oppose new curriculum tests". See also "Gaetz, Weatherford to Bennett: Drop Common Core test".

Broken record

"The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) is gearing up for a new campaign season and attacking Democratic candidates as public attention turns to the 2014 elections." "Florida Republicans Gearing Up for 2014, Going on the Attack With New Staff".

"Empty chair"

"Republicans say the site's sole purpose will be to post material Democrats published criticizing Crist's performance as Governor and his quest to be the GOP's vice president nominee in 2008." "GOP revives empty chair website".

T-shirt shops not hiring

"Early-bird report shows no change in joblessness". See also "Early-bird report shows no change in joblessness".

"Lack of competitive seats in the state"

"Most challengers to the state’s 27 U.S. House members posted light fund-raising quarters, which could require a re-evaluation of the competitiveness of some seats or a need to draw bigger-named candidates off the sidelines."

Based on money raised between April 1 and June 30, two races are relatively competitive — involving the seats held by Republican Congressmen Steve Southerland of Panama City and Bill Young of Indian Shores. Other contests show potential to tighten as the November 2014 elections approach, despite financially underperforming challengers.

But so far, incumbents in potentially competitive districts, including Democrats Joe Garcia of Miami, Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and Alan Grayson of Orlando, and Republicans Vern Buchanan of Sarasota and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, face little financial threat, despite optimism from across the political aisle.

University of Florida political-science Professor Dan Smith, whose expertise is in the conduct of elections, said fiscal totals are indicative of a lack of competitive seats in the state. Smith added he was most surprised that Garcia’s opponents have yet to mine deep pockets of contributors.

"Congressional challengers slow to raise campaign dollars".