Sunday, November 10, 2013

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

"Crist’s changing positions are an irresistible target"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Almost as soon as former Gov. Charlie Crist made his expected announcement last week that he intends to run for his old seat in 2014, negative ads against him started popping up on television."

Welcome to Election Year 2014. It’s going to be a rough and mud-spattered ride.
"By now, most voters are resigned to the sad reality that negative campaigns are a driving force in most races."
This time around it’s starting far earlier than usual, with the promise of lots more to come.

Gov. Rick Scott plans to spend upward of $100 million through his political campaign committee to retain his seat.

Considering that Mr. Scott won his own primary in 2010 by using his personal fortune to finance attack ads portraying conservative former Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum as a liberal, negative campaigning is likely to overshadow the real issues.

No doubt, Mr. Crist’s changing political affiliations and policy positions are an irresistible target. Compared to Florida’s ex-governor, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney seems like a pillar of consistency.

Mr. Crist will have to work hard to persuade skeptics that his convictions are something other than a matter of political convenience.

"Florida governor’s race: All signs point to rough ride ahead". The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors warn of "Mud in the governor's race".

Bad timing

"President Obama is closing out a fundraising trip to South Florida by hitting the links at a golf club — made famous in the 1980 classic film Caddyshack." "President Obama hits the Fort Lauderdale golf course where Caddyshack was filmed".

"Looming disaster many Floridians don’t know about . . . a 'zombie apocalypse'"

"It’s the looming disaster many Floridians still don’t know about, the equivalent of a 'zombie apocalypse' for the state’s multibillion-dollar citrus industry." "Citrus greening threatens Florida orange industry".

"We’ve got more than our share of cranky oldsters in Florida"

Fred Grimm reminds us that we all "live in Florida, where the state leadership pretends public sentiment about marijuana hasn’t evolved since the days when young Republicans were grooving to The Captain & Tennille on their eight-track cartridges."

Last spring, in a burst of drug-war nostalgia, the Legislature passed a quaint throw-back law (32-2 in the Senate, 112-3 in the House) that outlawed sales of bongs and water pipes. In fact, selling any smoking device is now illegal in Florida other than a pipe “that is primarily made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob.” Which is such a peculiar specification, it was as if legislators were puffing SleeStax X Skunk before the vote.

Meanwhile, 20 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, eleven of those by statewide referendum. Most of those passed by more than a 60 percent margin. Perhaps something similar could happen in Florida, given that we’re stuck with the most arthritic, oh-my-aching-back/knees/elbows electorate in the western world. A group called United for Care has collected 200,000 names on a petition toward the 683,149 needed by Feb. 1 to get a medical marijuana initiative on the statewide ballot next fall.

This has not pleased the state’s attorney general, speaker of the House and president of the Senate, who have demanded that the Florida Supreme Court keep this measure away from the voters. Senate President Don Gaetz complained the pot petition appealed “to voters by using language that evokes emotional responses [that] are not appropriate for ballot titles and summaries of proposed constitutional amendments.”

Gaetz knows something about misleading ballot initiatives. As the Herald’s Rochelle Koff pointed out, Gaetz was one of the architects of a blatant misnomer called the “Health Freedom Act,” which was designed to torpedo the Affordable Care Act. Last year, the state Supreme Court said the Health Freedom act was misleading and needed to be rewritten. It was. And voters rejected it.

"Florida’s political leadership seems oblivious to a fast-evolving public attitude toward marijuana."
In October, a Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans thought the drug should be legalized. Straight legalization. None of this medical marijuana pretense. (Back in 1969, when Gallup made its first query on legalizing marijuana, only 12 percent said yes. Times have changed.)

Among Democrats and independents, more than 60 percent told Gallup they favored legalization, compared to only 35 percent of Republicans. . . . Florida’s anti-pot legislators might find solace in another finding in last month’s Gallup Poll. Some 53 percent of the respondents over 65 still oppose legalization. And we’ve got more than our share of cranky oldsters in Florida.

"Florida GOP fights yesterday’s war".