Saturday, October 26, 2013

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider becoming a site fan on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Crist to announce on Nov. 4

"Charlie Crist will make it official Nov. 4 in St. Petersburg, his hometown. The former Republican governor widely expected to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday he will declare his intentions that Monday morning in downtown Straub Park. That’s near where he announced in 2010 that he was leaving the GOP to run for U.S. Senate as an independent." "Charlie Crist will announce plans for governor's race Nov. 4 in St. Petersburg". See also "Crist site hints he’ll join race soon" and "Charlie Crist launches site, posts YouTube dig at Gov. Scott".

Meanwhile, "GOP blasts Crist on eve of Democratic gathering". More: "Charlie Crist Kicks Off Attacks Against Rick Scott".

Rubio has been reduced to an "afterthought in the Republican presidential field"

Kevin Derby: "Support for Sen. Marco Rubio is collapsing in New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary, according to a poll released this week."

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) and WMUR released the Granite State poll this week, which found Rubio, R-Fla., who is looking at a possible White House run in 2016, an afterthought in the Republican presidential field.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., takes 17 percent, edging Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who follows with 16 percent. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., stands in third with 9 percent followed by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida with 8 percent. Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., whose name was floated as a possible Republican candidate in New Hampshire, gets 7 percent, followed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, with 6 percent. Rubio takes 4 percent, tying him with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin wins 2 percent while Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has the support of 1 percent. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, all lag behind with less than 1 percent.

"Rubio’s poor performance in the new poll is a major reversal from where he stood in two earlier UNH and WMUR Granite State polls. Back in February, Rubio took 12 percent, placing him second behind Christie. In April, Rubio and Paul tied for the lead with 15 percent each."
The poll of 663 New Hampshire voters was taken from Oct. 9-16 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.
"Marco Rubio's Support Collapses in New Hampshire".

"Tough to take seriously"

Orlando Sentinel employee, Scott Maxwell wants you to know that Alan Grayson, is "tough to take seriously" ("With KKK talk, Grayson reverts to old, extremist ways"), you know, like perennial Sentinel favorites Congressman John Mica and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

Crist's new-found fans

"Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist tells new-found fans 'judge me by my deeds' as the party gathers in Lake Buena Vista for a weekend of politicking." "Former Gov. Charlie Crist gets big welcome at Democratic conclave".

"Should be heady days for Florida Dems"

Scott Powers and Aaron Deslatte write that, "These should be heady days for Florida Democrats."

As they gather to talk, plan and party at their 2014 campaign kickoff in Orlando this weekend, they've got momentum from the debt-ceiling battle in Washington and a Republican governor with low poll numbers, experts say.

The problem is, they're still waiting on candidates — and money [update: Crist will announce Nov. 4]. Until this week, Democrats had no viable statewide candidates outside of former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, someone the party leadership has not embraced in her bid for governor.

"Florida Democrats await candidates, cash".

Dirty water

"Draft springs legislation would reserve spring flows, require septic tank hook-ups".

Political stunt

"State agencies hoping to replenish their budgets next year in light of a healthy projected surplus may be in for disappointment. Gov. Rick Scott released a white paper this week announcing he will seek $100 million in spending cuts next year. He says every department must find areas to cut back to meet the goal." "Gov. Scott: All agencies must find cuts in search for $100 million in savings".

"Conservative 'fortress precincts'"

Marc Caputo: "Florida Democrats celebrate this weekend at Disney World; Republicans might wind up knocking on your door."

The contrast between the two parties — one reveling in repeat election wins and favorable polls at its state conference, the other canvassing neighborhoods door-to-door statewide — illustrates Florida’s state of political play over the next election year.

“Florida Democrats are in Orlando this weekend to talk to themselves,” said Tim Saler, a top Republican Party of Florida political strategist.

“While their wheels are spinning at their convention,” he said, “we will have hundreds of precinct captains knocking on doors and talking to thousands of real voters about the issues that matter to them.”

For months, even as Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s poll numbers remained poor, RPOF says it has been identifying and then personally contacting thousands of voters — especially the estimated 450,000 Republicans who vote in presidential elections but didn’t in 2010.

More than half live in conservative “fortress precincts” targeted by Republicans.

"Florida election turnout war off to early start". On the other hand, Florida "Democrats Gear Up for Governor's Race".

Fresen ethics deal rejected

"The Florida Commission on Ethics needs more time in deciding a financial disclosure case of a powerful south Florida lawmaker. Commissioners Friday did not accept an agreement between Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and a state advocate -- a lawyer from the Attorney General’s office who serves as the commission’s prosecutor." "Ethics Commission wants more time for Fresen case".

Week in Review

"Week in Review for Oct. 25, 2013". See also "Weekly Roundup: High Time for Politics (and Better Security)" and "Arrivals & Departures for Oct. 25, 2013".

"Anything but a smooth debut"

"How many furloughed federal workers received unemployment assistance from the state of Florida as a result of the government shutdown?"

Who knows.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, responsible for issuing unemployment benefits, is unable to provide that information, despite the roll-out of its new $63 million “re-employment” website last week.

The website, called CONNECT, had anything but a smooth debut.

Reports of unemployed workers unable to log in or receive payments have been widely documented. The agency’s Facebook page contains numerous accounts of website problems to which DEO has responded. The agency has also issued updates through its Twitter feed and FAQ page.

Department spokesperson Jessica Sims said in an email that DEO was converting unemployment data from its old system to the new CONNECT system for six days during the 16-day government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

"DEO's Glitched-Up, $63 Million System Caused Big Problems for Furloughed Workers".

"Jeb!" is "firmly in the second tier"

"In New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida stands just below the first tier of candidates in the potential field of Republican presidential hopefuls in 2016. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) and WMUR released the Granite State poll this week, which found Bush, who is considered for a possible White House run in 2016, firmly in the second tier in the Granite State." "Jeb Bush Looks Steady in NH as 2016 Looms".

Thurston floating trial balloon

Jeff Henderson: "After George Sheldon announced on Monday that he would run for the Democratic nomination to challenge Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Perry Thurston said he could possibly run."

Currently leading Democrats in the Florida House, Thurston is looking at running for a Senate seat in 2016, which makes sense. Democrats generally have more influence in the more congenial Senate which is much less partisan than the House.

Right now, Thurston has an open election in 2014. He’s term-limited in the House while Chris Smith won’t be leaving the Senate until 2016. In floating his trial balloons about running against Bondi this week, Thurston said he is willing to help the party in any way he can and that could mean entering the attorney general contest.

Thurston doesn’t have Sheldon’s experience in running state and federal agencies or serving as deputy attorney general. But Thurston’s political credentials far exceed Sheldon’s.

"Perry Thurston Makes More Sense for Democrats than George Sheldon".

Meanwhile, Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida has "Five Questions for George Sheldon".

"Rubio's Bill to Save Americans"

"Marco Rubio's Bill to Save Americans from Penalties".

West-Love laff riot

"Former U.S. Rep. Allen West went to bat on Tuesday for congressional hopeful Mia Love, a fellow African-American Republican, who is running again in Utah. Republicans across the nation have high hopes for Love who spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last year while she was running against U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. Despite losing to Matheson in 2012, Love is running again in 2014." "It's Love Again for Allen West (Mia Love, that is)".

"A tax, a hidden and regressive one at that"

The Tampa Trib editors: "Clearly, expanding gambling is seen as a way to increase state revenues — without the appearance of increasing taxes."

But make no mistake. Gambling represents a tax, a hidden and regressive one at that. Gambling entices citizens to waste their money in casinos, where the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against them, and the state gets a sizable cut.
"State-sanctioned gambling nothing but a tax".

Raw political courage

"Attorney General Pam Bondi is asking the state Supreme Court to invalidate the language of a proposed constitutional amendment allowing medical use of marijuana in Florida — a move that, if successful, could derail the measure for this election cycle." "Pam Bondi challenges medical marijuana measure".

"Rig the f--- brakes in his car. F--- take him out"

"Since his arrest in August, suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi has defiantly claimed he committed no crime after he was accused of accepting $6,000 in an alleged cash-for-contract scam. On Friday, the two-term mayor will finally get to plead not guilty when he faces an indictment charging him with seeking kickbacks in exchange for sponsoring federal grant applications that prosecutors say were meant to enrich him. Pizzi, indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Miami, is charged with conspiring to commit extortion and four counts of attempted bribery. If convicted at trial, each count carries up to 20 years in prison." "Suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi to plead not guilty in FBI corruption case".

Fred Grimm says, "It wasn’t me. No matter what Mike Pizzi says."

Pizzi, the ex-mayor of Miami Lakes, suspended from office in August after he was rung up on federal kickback charges, has taken exception to a Herald story about another investigation into suspicious doings.

Pizzi was not charged, but Miami-Dade police have given the feds a 2010 audio and transcript of a secretly recorded conversation between Pizzi and a former police officer about what he needed done about a nettlesome member of the Miami Lakes town council.

One the recording, Pizzi comes off like someone who just binged on all 13 episodes, season two, of The Sopranos in one sitting. “I don’t care what you have to do, Tom. Rig the f------ brakes in his car. F------ take him out. I don’t want to see him anymore. I don’t want to see him anymore.”

Mike’s voice, recorded outside Shula’s Steakhouse in Miami Lakes, is loud. He sounds agitated. His Brooklyn accent doesn’t help.

He has now taken exception to the Herald story about the 2010 investigation that came to naught (Though it’s hard to imagine a newspaper ignoring the release of unseemly undercover recordings of a local elected official.). He emailed reporters Jay Weaver, David Ovalle and Charles Rabin Sunday, suggesting that we Herald sorts indulge in similar “over the top bar talk.”

"Pizzi says chat about coke bust is just ‘over the top’ bar talk".

"No Casinos' Nerve"

Nancy Smith: "No Casinos is at least partially right in its latest latest press release">press release, which, by the way, is generously devoted almost entirely to my gaming issues. (Thank you, for the unexpected publicity, guys. I'm like the family dog -- you can do anything but ignore me.) I have indeed made myself the loyal opposition. To No Casinos' hypocrisy. " "I Hit a No Casinos' Nerve".

"Ready for Hillary" arrives in Tampa

"The 2016 presidential election may be three years away, but that hasn’t stopped a super-PAC from encouraging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a second bid for the highest position in national politics. Ready for Hillary arrived in Tampa on Tuesday for a fundraising and informational event. Hosted by former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, the event featured Craig T. Smith, who served as a former assistant to President Bill Clinton and as White House political director for the president and the first lady." "Super-PAC for Hillary Clinton Takes on Tampa".

Young's death accelerates race for competitive seat

"Republican Congressman Bill Young's death will accelerate the race for one of the more competitive seats in the country, even as it remains unclear when a special election will be held and which candidates will be involved." "Special Election Could Reshape Race for Bill Young's Seat".

Shameless, at the rate of "$10,000-an-hour"

"House leadership called it 'a mark of respect' for beloved Florida Congressman C.W. 'Bill' Young."

But when 30 House members of both parties turned their backs on House business Thursday -- even floor votes -- and commandeered an expensive military airplane to attend Young's Largo funeral, it opened up the floodgates to jeering Twitter, Facebook and other biting online comment. . . .

Sequestration cuts supposedly put an end to the perquisite of Washington lawmakers traveling on military aircraft, but somebody, somehow (apparently House Speaker John Boehner) gave the green light to make an exception for Thursday's funeral.

Cmdr. Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, told Sunshine State News Friday he isn't aware of who made the arrangements and doesn't have the final numbers on the cost of the flight from Joint Base Andrews, but acknowledged the tab likely is "in the $10,000-an-hour ballpark."

"Bill Young's Former Colleagues Urged to 'Keep Goin' to Gitmo, Cuba'".