Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Please consider giving a newspaper subscriptions as gifts and/or buying one or more subscriptions for delivery to your workplace. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Expect Scott to sidestep his FlaBagger roots

The Democratic win in the Virginia Governor's race highlights "challenges the GOP faces as its tea party wing competes with an establishment wanting to reach a broader audience of younger voters, women and minorities — a struggle certain to persist through the 2014 midterm elections where a number of congressional Republicans face primary challengers from the right."

If McAuliffe can break the streak [in Virginia], might the playbook apply to another diverse battleground state also twice won by Obama? Florida Democrats, who haven’t controlled the governor’s mansion since 1998, are plotting to characterize Gov. Rick Scott as similarly extreme, reminding voters of his tea party ties and positions on immigration, abortion and voting rights.

The goal is to turn off moderate Republicans and independent voters in Florida the way they are being repelled in Virginia.

However, there "are clear differences between the states and the players."
McAuliffe, a master fundraiser, has vastly outspent Cuccinelli on TV ads that have highlighted and sometimes distorted his conservative positions, particularly abortion. Scott has already raised more than $18 million and has pledged to pour $25 million early on to define his opponent.

“Rick Scott will not be outspent 2- to 3- to-1 down the stretch,” said David Johnson, a Republican consultant in Florida who countered that Crist’s past as a Republican would blunt any attacks on Scott.

“Running on issues of choice, life, abortion, Charlie Crist has a long record of being a ’Jeb Bush pro-life Republican,’ ” Johnson said. “I just don’t think it’s going to be successful.”

"Tuesday’s Virginia governor’s race offers sneak peek at next year’s Florida governor’s race".

Dems keep St. Pete

"Kriseman beats Foster in St. Pete mayor race".

Goin' local

"After losing out to Mark Pafford to be the next leader of the Democrats in the Florida House, Alan Williams said he was thinking about running for local office. But by opening the door to leaving office, Williams, intentionally or not, let other Democratic candidates slip into the race for his House seat." "Alan Williams Closing the Door on Florida's House".

No fault

"The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee looked at a draft bill Tuesday to move from a no-fault auto insurance system to a system that only pays for the medical costs of those not at fault in an accident. A similar House version, HB 267, was also filed Tuesday as health and auto insurers and other special interests groups stake out tentative positions while prior reforms are taken up in court." "Lawmakers look at scrapping no-fault system despite favorable court ruling".

As FlaGOP wails, 1.6 million Floridians eligible for Obama care tax credits

"Once the federal health-insurance-exchange website starts working correctly, 1.6 million Floridians could find that they are eligible for tax credits, says a new study released Tuesday."

Florida ranks third, after Texas and California [still recovering from the Schwarzenegger years], for the state having the most residents that could get subsidies if they purchase coverage through the exchange, according to the report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health-advocacy group.
"1.6 million Floridians could get tax credits through health-care exchange, study says".

State readies to launch new purge

"As the state readies to launch a new effort to scrub suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls, one key question remains: How many county supervisors of elections will join the effort after they essentially torpedoed a similar purge last year?" "Supervisors Key to Any Voter Purge Effort".

About Charlie

Nancy Smith: "Charlie Crist Hopes to Turn Trial Lawyers into Caring People". Jeff Henderson: "Can Charlie Crist Shape His Own Florida Democrats?".

Crist attacked from both the right and left

"With a year to go before the election, former Gov. Charlie Crist challenges Gov. Rick Scott. Both start trashing each other." "A full year of negative campaigning starts as Charlie Crist bids for governor". "A day after former Gov. Charlie Crist announced he was running again for governor, Republicans and his chief Democratic primary rival are turning up the heat on the new candidate." "Charlie Crist Faces Right and Left Attacks". Meanwhile, "Crist getting down to business of fundraising".

"Tallahassee couldn’t care less about SoFla"

Fabiola Santiago: "Tallahassee couldn’t care less about South Florida. . . . What else can explain the location of the Senate Gaming Committee hearings on the future of the gambling industry in Florida in places like Pensacola, Jacksonville and Lakeland when the issue has the potential to negatively affect the quality of life in Miami?" "Gambling interests turn deaf ear to Miami".

Weatherford and Gaetz are late to the game

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz have joined the debate over medical marijuana. But they might be too late."

The legislative leaders last week joined Attorney General Pam Bondi in challenging the ballot language of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Floridians to use marijuana for medical reasons.

Bondi has asked the Florida Supreme Court to block the proposal, which was put forward by a citizens group, from being put on the November 2014 statewide ballot.

Unfortunately, Weatherford and Gaetz didn't show as much interest in the medical marijuana issue when it came up in the Legislature last session. Bills introduced in the House and Senate that would have permitted the medical use of marijuana under strict conditions died in committees.

"Delayed reaction on marijuana".

FlaGOP freaking as House Dems ramp up fundraising by more than 1,000%

"Mingling money, politics and legislation is nothing new in Tallahassee, but an email leaked last week provides a glimpse at just how much pressure Republican lawmakers are under to maintain their dominance in campaign fundraising."

Rep. Steve Crisafulli, who as incoming speaker for 2015-2016 oversees all Republican House races, scolded members for falling behind the pace of Democratic candidates.

“This is a trend that must be broken!” Crisafulli wrote in bold and underline before reminding Republicans that half of them had fallen short of a fundraising goal set earlier by the caucus. “Like you, I recognize fundraising is a commitment of time we would rather spend in other ways, but given the tough election year ahead, we MUST redouble our efforts so that everyone has the financial resources for victory.”

With a 75-45 margin, Republicans are clearly in charge of the House. And collectively, GOP House incumbents raised $1.5 million between July 1 and Sept. 30, or $188,000 more than they raised during the same period two years ago, the last nonelection year.

Additionally, they averaged $24,434 for the third quarter, dwarfing the $9,666 average raised by the 38 House Democrats seeking re-election.

So what has Crisafulli so concerned? The pace.

While Republicans increased their haul by a robust 13.6 percent from two years ago, House Democrats ramped up their take by more than 1,000 percent. Two years ago, these same House Democrats raised a paltry $4,133 per member during the third quarter, a fifth of what Republicans raised. Democrats still lag, but now are at about a third of what Republicans raised.

"GOP lawmakers falling behind on fundraising".

Charter madness

"Days after an Orange County charter school threatened to dismiss students for failing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests, a state lawmaker has filed a legislative proposal that would ban the practice."

The school, Cornerstone Academy Charter School in Belle Isle, withdrew the threat after parents complained and reporters contacted the principal.

But state Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, says state law should have prevented it from happening in the first place.

“Charter schools should not be allowed to kick out students for failing the FCAT or whatever test they are being evaluated on,” Jones said. “Traditional public schools can’t do that. There is supposed to be an even playing field.”

"State lawmaker seeks changes to charter school law".