Tuesday, October 01, 2013

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

FlaDems "bad luck, bad timing and bad judgment"

"Democrats found some cheer last week as Florida House members buried the hatchet after an internal struggle and elected Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach to lead them through the 2014 elections. But that followed events in the last couple of months that one political analyst referred to as 'bad luck, bad timing and bad judgment':"

* A Democratic candidate for state chief financial officer dropped out of the race when it became known he had filed for bankruptcy three times in two states, the last time just five years ago, when he also defaulted on a payment plan.

* Former CFO Alex Sink, who lost the governor’s race to Republican Rick Scott in 2010, decided she won’t run against Scott in 2014, acknowledging that fundraising was a consideration.

* Republican candidate Bill Gunter raised more than twice the campaign funds of Democrat Amanda Murphy, $83,000 to $38,000, before the primary election to fill Mike Fasano’s House seat. Fasano left the Legislature to become Pasco County’s tax collector, and Democrats now consider his Pasco County seat a must-get.

* House Democrats ousted their own leader-designate, St. Petersburg’s Darryl Rouson, after discovering he had set up a separate campaign account to fund House races without telling Florida Democratic Party officials or members of his own caucus.

* After learning of the secret fund, Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant fired two senior staffers in charge of strategy and fundraising for House races who assisted Rouson.

"Florida Democrats try to overcome ‘bad luck, timing’".

Flabaggers in a dither

"When the federal healthcare marketplaces open Tuesday, hundreds of volunteers will fan out across the state urging colleagues, co-workers and students to investigate their healthcare options and sign up for insurance." "As Obamacare marketplaces open, sales pitch begins in earnest". See also "Policy Note: Health Insurance Exchanges".

Never mind

"Charges of massive fraud in early learning programs prove false".

An innocent man

"With two of his former staffers under criminal investigation for allegedly submitting phony absentee-ballot requests, Miami Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia released his own internal review on Monday and concluded that no one else on his staff was aware of the ballot scheme." "Congressman Joe Garcia clears remaining staff in absentee ballot probe".

Sarasota 9/11 investigation won't go away

"The Herald-Tribune Media Group and the Miami Herald Media Co. have joined a federal lawsuit asking a federal judge to make FBI officials release information about a 9/11 investigation in Sarasota." "Two Florida Media Companies Join Broward Bulldog In 9/11 Records Lawsuit".

Wingnut laff riot

Apparently having overdosed on Sopranos reruns, the deep thinkers at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity declare that "Union no-show jobs cost FL’s largest county millions" gazillions.

Developers run wild

"There were 13 findings of "adverse impacts" in 2012, the first full year after the Legislature approved sweeping growth management law changes, but none resulted in findings of 'not in compliance.' Critics say the newly written law was vague and discourages enforcement." "State agency hasn't filed legal challenges against any local growth decisions since 2011". Related: "Policy Note: Growth Management".

Buzz growing that Sheldon will challenge Bondi

"George Sheldon will be leaving Washington and heading home to Florida as buzz continues to grow that he will challenge Pam Bondi in 2014."

In recent years, Sheldon has been in Washington as a member of the Obama administration but he has spent many years on the Florida political stage. He had been appointed to serve as acting assistant secretary for children and families in the federal department of Health and Human Services. Kathleen Sebelius announced last week he was leaving HHS and was going back to Florida. He will leave the HHS post in the middle of October.

Sheldon’s name surfaced back in August as a possible opponent for Bondi. It’s not the first time he has popped up as a statewide candidate though he has little luck when he has sought higher office. Bondi has had some recent stumbles, namely moving the execution date of Marshall Lee Gore due to a fundraiser, but she can take some solace from Sheldon’s failed bids to run at the state level.

No bones about it. Sheldon has failed when he has sought higher office. The contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore in Florida is still synonymous for being a close race, but Charlie Crist had no problem dispatching Sheldon in the same election, beating him by 7 percent to be state education commissioner in 2000. Two years later, Sheldon ran for Butterworth’s job but he came in third behind Buddy Dyer and Scott Maddox in the Democratic attorney general primary. Even as late as 2010, Sheldon was talking about running for governor with no party affiliation but ultimately decided against entering the race.

Despite showing no ability as a candidate for statewide office, Sheldon’s credentials are impressive.

"George Sheldon Could Help Old Rival Charlie Crist by Taking on Pam Bondi".

Dirty water

"Policy Note: Water Quality".

"Medicaid Expansion"

"The Arkansas plan to use Medicaid dollars to buy private insurance for its low-income population was approved by the federal government on Sept. 27. Florida had a similar expansion alternative coming from Sen. Negron. While it failed in 2013, it is likely to serve as the starting point for lawmakers' discussions about Medicaid expansion." "Medicaid Expansion".

Pregnancy discrimination

"On Sept. 30, 2013, Sen. Geraldine Thompson filed a bill that would make employer discrimination against pregnant women illegal." "Policy Note: Labor Relations".

Raw political courage

"Florida Legislators Will Pay More For Health Insurance Next Year".

T-shirt sales booming

"Floridians' personal income rose to $811.5 billion at the end of the second quarter, up from $799.8 billion in the first quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said. Good news for the Sunshine State: Floridians' personal income rose 1.5 percent in the second quarter, compared with the first three months of the year, outpacing a 1 percent gain nationwide." "Floridians' personal income jumps 1.5%".