Friday, September 20, 2013

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

"The perils of being Marco"

Fred Grimm writes about "the perils of being Marco."

A throng of vexed constituents gathered on the plaza by the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States District Courthouse in downtown Miami Wednesday. For anyone dabbling in Miami politics, this was not an insignificant gathering.
"Sen. Rubio had earned their collective ire by blocking Senate consideration of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas and Nassau Circuit Judge Brian Davis for the federal bench. Yolanda Strader, president of the Ferguson Bar Association, noted that President Obama had nominated Judge Thomas 10 months ago for the Southern District court in Miami, while Davis’ nomination has been languishing for 16 months. Both candidates are black."
Neither judge can get a confirmation hearing, according to the peculiar convention observed by the Senate, until both home state senators submit a so-called “blue slip” for each judge. Bill Nelson gave his go-ahead. Marco Rubio turned obstinate.

Both candidates were vetted by Florida’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. Both were rated “well qualified” by the American Bar Association. And both were recommended to Obama by Nelson and Rubio. . . .

Times change. Rubio has since taken a drubbing from the Tea Party for the temerity of championing immigration reform. His rehab strategy (and his hope for the Republican presidential nomination) has been to appease right-wing zealots who see any cooperation with the president as utter duplicity. Even when it comes to the confirmation of lowly district judge appointments. . . .

But like so much else that comes with the politics-as-total-war madness, like the sequester or the looming government shut-down, political gamesmanship in Washington has real consequences back home. In Miami, Rubio is not just fomenting political and racial divisiveness, he’s clogging the courts. He’s impeding justice.

"Rubio stands in way of justice". See also "" and "".

As Flabaggers whine . . .

"Grass-roots Obamacare group seeks uninsured people".

Pissing away tax dollars

"Gov. Rick Scott intends to take his fight for random drug tests of tens of thousands of state employees all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a lawyer for the Republican governor told a federal judge Thursday." "Gov. Rick Scott seeks Supreme Court review of worker drug test".

Auditing lobbyist pay

"Now that Senate President Don Gaetz has expressed an interest in enforcing the never-used provision of a 2005 ethics law requiring audits of lobbyist pay, an association representing Capitol lobbyists is pressing to have some say on the issue."

The Florida Professional Lobbyist Association, which met Thursday, sent Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, a letter signed by its high-powered (and paid) board Thursday night, asking to make recommendations to lawmakers on how to conduct the audits.
"Lobbying association weighs into Gaetz push to start auditing their pay".

"Disney's Anti-Gambling 'Mafia Tactics'"

Nancy Smith: "In case you still doubt the Mouse runs the show in Orlando, check out the lobbying contract the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority awarded Wednesday to a Disney "friend" (wink, wink). Entertainment conglomerate Disney first told Authority board members who they couldn't consider to lobby for them, then who they had to consider." "Two Top Lobbyists Fall Victim to Disney's Anti-Gambling 'Mafia Tactics'".

Scott takes credit for Obamacare jobs

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who last year called the federal health care law the “biggest job-killer ever,” was front and center Wednesday to celebrate a health care company’s announcement that it will add 1,000 jobs thanks to — yes — the health care law." "Scott announces company will add 1,000 jobs in Tampa".

Rubio "in free fall"

"Two polls released Wednesday had bad news for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential hopes in 2016."

Rasmussen Reports released a poll in which Vice President Joe Biden is a clear second choice for Democrats behind former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- but Biden still has a commanding lead over Rubio, who drew the displeasure of conservatives with his role in immigration reform, in a possible 2016 matchup. . . .

The Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters was taken from Sept. 16-17 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

According to Pubic Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with Democratic connections, Rubio is in free fall in New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary. Back in an April PPP poll, Rubio placed second in the Granite State with 25 percent behind Paul with 28 percent.

Paul leads the new poll with 20 percent followed by Christie with 19 percent. Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida takes third in New Hampshire with 14 percent followed by favorite daughter U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., with 12 percent. Cruz takes 10 percent. Rubio stands tied in sixth place, knotted up with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., with 7 percent. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania trails with 2 percent.

"Marco Rubio Collapsing in NH, Losing to Joe Biden, as 2016 Looms". Related: "Hillary Clinton Continues as the Democratic Front-Runner in 2016".

"Scott is in a political bind"

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott is considering an executive order to address growing controversy over the Common Core State Standards."

Once a clear Common Core supporter, Scott is in a political bind. Tea party groups, which make up an important part of his base, want Florida to jettison the new standards and tests. But schools across the state are already teaching Common Core, and Republican leaders in the House and Senate are standing behind the benchmarks.
"Gov. Rick Scott considering executive action to address Common Core controversy".

The Miami Herald editorial board argues that, "instead of political games, Gov. Rick Scott should lead on stronger education standards." "No backtracking on Common Core".

"Florida's war on the Affordable Care Act"

Douglas C. Lyons: "Florida's war on the Affordable Care Act amounts to a tremendous waste of time and money, particularly in a state with the nation's second highest number of uninsured residents behind Texas. Our state isn't simply dragging its feet. It's sabotaging health reform outright. Undermining an unpopular president in Washington may be the rationale for going after Obamacare, but the real harm is taking place closer to home. Uninsured Floridians are the real collaterial damage in a conflict that shows no signs of slowing anytime soon." "War on Obamacare leaves Floridians as casualties". See also "Sobel blasts Florida House on health care before U.S. House".

An orchestrated move?

"Former Central Florida state legislators Scott Plakon and Eric Eisnaugle are holding a fundraiser tonight at the Orlando offices of Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell."

Eisnaugle, who left office after redistricting placed him in Rep. Steve Precourt's Orlando district, is running for that District 44 seat which encompasses much of southwestern Orlando and Orange County. Eisnaugle is also politicking to be House speaker down the line, a phenomenon spurred by Florida's eight-year term-limit law for legislators.

But here's a hitch: Precourt may land a job heading up the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, a gig he has eyed for a long time. He would then have to resign the seat early, and trigger a special election. If that were to happen, Eisnaugle would almost certainly step in to fill the seat, and rumors have been circulating since Precourt lost his majority leader job that this was an orchestrated move giving Eisnaugle an early advantage in that 2020 House speaker's race.

"Plakon, Eisnaugle to raise coin -- but for which election?".

State offering insurance to part-timers

"Despite postponent of a federal mandate, the state will start offering health care insurance to thousands of part-time and noncareer employees next month." "State will offer health care to part-timers".