Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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

Hard to be a FlaDem Candidate

Marc Caputo: "With a 500,000 edge in registered voters and a victory by President Barack Obama’s well-organized campaign in the state, the Florida Democratic Party had all the makings of a possible political juggernaut at the start of the year."

Last week, however, it looked like a joke.

The party’s Florida Chief Financial Officer candidate, Allie Braswell, withdrew Monday just days after announcing his bid. Braswell quit after Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union reported he had a few bankruptcies in his past — a damaging bit of history for someone running to manage the finances of the fourth most-populous state in the nation.

"Aside from highlighting the tactical ball-dropping by the Florida Democratic Party (didn’t they vet him or prepare him for all of this?), Braswell’s candidacy underscores Democrats’ troubles more broadly. . . . And it’s not easy work for Democrats anyway. Prospective candidates have many reasons to stay away:"
Money: Controlling no statewide seats based in Tallahassee and barely a third of the Legislature, Democrats have relatively little clout to squeeze contributions from the special interests who dominate the state Capitol and fund campaigns. But if the Democrats win the governor’s mansion — a good possibility with Crist or Sink — it could help slowly turn the red Republican tide that has flooded the Capitol since the mid-1990s.

Flakey voters: The party’s voters can’t be trusted to show up for mid-term, gubernatorial elections. The last Democrat elected governor was Lawton Chiles, in 1994. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Sink in 2006 were the only recent Democrats to win in a mid-term year when the GOP started to fall apart nationally. Compare that to presidential elections. Disregarding the disputed 2000 White House race, Republican presidential candidates have clearly won Florida just twice in two decades: 2004 and 1992.

Loyalty: Democratic strategist Steve Schale points out that his party punishes those who lose in a race. Hence, it seems, mid-terms more often than not showcase new Democrats running to the same-old slaughter. Compare that to the GOP, which often rewards repeat candidates with eventual wins. Crist, for instance, was one of them.

History: When you run for an office, you go back and look at the last election. And it’s a turnoff for a Democratic candidate because 2010 was a blood-red Republican year. Except for Scott, each Republican holding a Cabinet seat won by double-digit margins, with CFO Jeff Atwater besting the Democrat by an astonishing 18.4 percentage points (this is the guy Braswell was going to beat?).

Incumbency: It’s always tough to beat an incumbent. And all statewide seats are held by Republicans.

Obama’s cult of personality: For all the talk of the Obama campaign’s rigorous organization, data targeting and turn-out operations, it looks like the campaign was all about Obama. That was the story in 2010, when Obama and his team didn't do enough as Republicans roared and Democrats scurried; 2014 could be a repeat.

On that last point, Florida Democrats have privately said that they know they can’t count on Team Obama, which isn’t just greedy about hoarding its data — it’s arrogant to boot.

But arrogance isn’t a disqualifier in politics. Just look at the Republican Party of Florida.

"Florida Democratic Party more joke than juggernaut".

"Christian conservatives rally"

"Christian conservatives rally in Miami-Dade against gender identity non-discrimination law".

Another term please

Republican "Gayle Harrell slammed the door on running for Congress Tuesday, announcing she is seeking another term in the Florida House. Harrell tried to run for Congress before. First elected to the Florida House in 2000, she ran against Tom Rooney in the Republican primary to challenge Tim Mahoney in 2008. But she came up short and returned to the Legislature in 2010 as a member of the Florida House." "Gayle Harrell Says No to Congressional Bid Against Patrick Murphy".

Housing market sees boost

"Florida housing market sees boost in July". Related: "Florida consumer confidence holds steady after drop".

Fred Grimm wonders:

Maybe sleazy associations and suspicious gobs of money and rampant amnesia are inevitable in urban communities that still elect politicians to run their police forces. The late Broward Sheriff Ron Cochran once ruefully once described BSO as “a 5,000-member political action committee with badges and guns.”
"Broward sheriffs share amnesia about money".

Dems find HD 44 challenger

"As former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, seeks to return to the House, he now faces the prospect of a Democratic challenger. Orlando Democrat and businessman Shaun Raja opened a campaign account Monday to run in 2014 in House District 44, the same seat sought by Eisnaugle and another Republican, Ronney Roger Oliveira of Ocoee. Eisnaugle served in the House from 2008 to 2012, but stepped aside last year to allow Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, to run unopposed in the redrawn District 44. Precourt is term-limited in 2014. " "Eisnaugle gets Dem opposition in HD 44".

Perry and Jindal look to Florida as 2016 looms

"Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry Look to South Carolina and Florida as 2016 Looms".

To replace Joe Gibbons

"A new candidate has jumped into the increasingly crowded Democratic primary to replace term-limited Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Pembroke Park, in representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Tallahassee. Ben Sorensen, a businessman, pastor, community activist and officer in the Navy Reserve, filed to enter the race as a Democrat at the end of last week. Sorensen joins former North Bay Village Mayor Joe Geller, Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Alex Lewy and teacher John Paul Alvarez who are seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Gibbons. Whoever emerges in the Democratic primary in 2014 will be a heavy favorite to head up to Tallahassee. No Republicans are currently running for this seat which represents a solid Democratic district." "Open South Florida House Race Gets More Crowded as Ben Sorensen Joins Dem Primary".

Alternative to Boy Scouts

"Florida Conservative Poised to Launch Alternative to Boy Scouts".

School score rigging

"Florida may keep a safety net for another year that could keep some schools from getting branded with an 'F' grade." "Safety net for Fla. school grades may get extended".

SoFla mayors keep falling

"Authorities early Wednesday arrested Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman in connection with a secret $125-an-hour secret consulting gig for a nonprofit organization. Bateman, cuffed at his home, was charged with unlawful compensation." "Homestead mayor arrested over consulting job".

Health care costs

"As health care costs rise in Florida, insurers and hospitals vested in the success of the Affordable Care Act, are coming up with new ways to cut costs from buying services in bulk and piloting programs to lowering hospital readmission rates and limiting the number of doctors within a plan's network. Florida's health care costs rose an average of 6.9 percent in the past 18 years, higher than the national average of 6.5 percent. Health care expenditures per capita in the state are $7,156 compared to the national average of $6,815 during that same time period, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Reining in health care costs, which have been growing far faster than inflation and wages, will be crucial to the long-term success of the Affordable Care Act." "Insurers curbing costs as health care costs rise".

Scott’s emails still out of public eye

"Gov. Rick Scott said Sunburst would give Floridians 'an open and transparent window into how their state government works,' and that hasn’t happened." "Scott’s emails with staff still out of public eye".

Shameless Rubio plays politics with his mommy

"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has vigorously opposed Obamacare for many reasons. Lately, he's been invoking his mother, suggesting she'll be harmed by the president's health care plan."

Since there is always a lot in play when it comes to Medicare Advantage, experts say it's just too early for Rubio to worry seniors. Insurers have submitted their bids to Medicare, and the annual announcement of plan changes comes in September. Open enrollment is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

"We don't know what's going to happen, but that's true every year,'' said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, the national nonprofit advocacy group that fields around 12,000 calls a year to its consumer help line.

Still, Baker and others doubt seniors will find a September surprise in their mailboxes.

"If the last few years under the (health law) and this administration is any indication, it's going to be a pretty smooth year and a pretty even year,'' Baker said.

Mendelson [CEO of strategic analysis firm Avalere Health], too, is dubious of a rate spike.

"Is Obamacare bad for Rubio's mom?"

SYG amendment

"Sen. Chris Smith to propose bill that would amend 'stand your ground' law". See also "Smith files 'stand your ground' bill".

"Scott appears to be finally getting the message"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Gov. Rick Scott appears to be finally getting the message that public education needs his attention. His three-day education summit starting Monday in Clearwater is aimed at tackling four growing controversies. Scott has invited an impressive list of stakeholders, but he will be successful only if he comes prepared for more than a photo opportunity. The governor needs to accept responsibility for improving all public schools and establishing a clear direction." "Schools need talk, then action".