Saturday, November 23, 2013

Please consider giving newspaper subscriptions as gifts for the holidays and/or buying one or more subscriptions for delivery to your workplace (here's how); and, whenever you visit a newspaper site online, please click on one or more of the advertisements and make an effort to patronize newspaper advertisers. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Hillary and "Jeb!" within margin of error in Florida

"Former Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are tops in their respective party primaries and run neck and neck in Florida in an early look at the 2016 White House race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released [Friday]."

Secretary Clinton tops U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other possible Republican candidates, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

Gov. Bush gets 22 percent in a hypothetical GOP primary with Rubio at 18 percent, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie at 14 percent and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 12 percent. No other candidate tops 9 percent, with 12 percent undecided.

Clinton sweeps a Democratic primary with 70 percent, followed by Vice President Joseph Biden at 9 percent and no other candidate above 4 percent. Ten percent are undecided.

Head to head, Clinton gets 47 percent to Bush's 45 percent. She tops other Republicans:

45 - 41 percent over Christie; 50 - 43 percent over Rubio; 51 - 41 percent over U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky; 50 - 42 percent over U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; 52 - 36 percent over Cruz.

Florida voters say 56 - 39 percent that Clinton would make a good president, the best score of any candidate, followed by Christie at 45 - 35 percent, with Bush at a split 46 - 44 percent. All other candidates get negative scores, including Rubio with 39 - 47 percent.

"It's no surprise that Hillary Clinton is well thought of by Florida voters, but when asked whether she would be a good president, more voters say yes than say they will vote for her," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Nonetheless, she is neck and neck with former Gov. Jeb Bush and has a narrow lead over Chris Christie. Another Florida favorite Son, Sen. Marco Rubio, doesn't fare as well."

"Florida Democrats have eyes for no one but Hillary; seven in 10 back her for the nomination in 2016 and no one else is in double digits," Brown added. "The GOP nomination fight is another story. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio and three other potential aspirants get 9 percent or more and it is a forgone conclusion that the 2016 GOP nomination fight in Florida will be very competitive."

"Florida voters disapprove 57 - 40 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, matching his all-time worst score, a 57 - 39 percent disapproval, in a September 22, 2011, Quinnipiac University poll."
Disapproval is 93 - 6 percent among Republicans and 64 - 34 percent among independent voters, while Democrats approve 79 - 16 percent. Women disapprove 52 - 44 percent and men disapprove 63 - 35 percent.

Voters oppose the Affordable Care Act 54 - 39 percent, with partisan numbers that roughly match the president's approval rating.

ACA will make their healthcare worse in the next year, 44 percent of voters say, while 21 percent say the reform act will make their healthcare better and 31 percent say ACA will not affect their healthcare.

"When things were going well for President Barack Obama, he enjoyed overwhelming support among women and either tied or was slightly ahead among men. Now the shoe is on the other foot. He's down 28 percentage points among men and eight points among women," said Brown. "He is losing independents by 30 points and losing by 40 points among white voters. Even one in six Democrats give him a thumbs down. The question for the president is whether he has hit bottom or whether, as happened when President George W. Bush's numbers reached this neighborhood, there is further downside to come?"

"November 22, 2013 - Jeb Bush, Clinton Tops In Florida In 2016 Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Obama Approval Near All-Time Low In State". More: "Fla. poll: President Obama hurts Democrats, seen as untrustworthy". (From November 12 - 17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,646 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points). See also "Poll: Floridians prefer Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton in presidential race", "In Florida, Hillary beats Jeb in 2016 matchup, poll says", "Poll: Crist’s lead over Scott narrows" and "Crist’s lead over Scott dwindles; Nelson still not out".

Background: Nelson "told a reporter this week" he might run for governor if it starts looking like the Democratic nominee, presumably Crist, would lose to Scott.

Will unincorporated Hillsborough secede?

"Tampa ranks at the top of Florida cities for its support of gay and lesbian people, according to report issued this week by the Human Rights Campaign, a group that promotes gay rights." "Tampa tops among Florida cities for support of gays".

What say you, Mr. Scott?

"The long-simmering battle over teaching evolution in Texas boiled over at a late-night meeting, as the Board of Education extended preliminary approval of new science books for use in classrooms across the state but held up one biology text because of alleged factual errors." "Evolution debate again engulfs Texas board".

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed Scott’s run for reelection in 2014. "It’s a bromance: Texas Gov. Perry endorses 'passionate' Rick Scott".

"Big Data v. Big Cynicism"

Aaron Deslatte: "Florida is months from next year's election, triggering the hard legwork that comes with processing the expressed political will of millions of voters."

And there's still no word from Gov. Rick Scott's elections apparatus about when or whether the state will re-initiate a controversial attempt to use a federal immigrant-verification database to prune illegal voters from the rolls.

Call it a case of Big Data v. Big Cynicism.

Although Secretary of State Ken Detzner staged a statewide roadshow this fall to showcase a reboot of the program — which was attempted in the midst of the 2012 elections and then abandoned — the details funneled to county election supervisors have been scant.

Critics of the effort — including groups such as the Advancement Project, League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union — blasted the 2012 effort over what they say was a blatant, 2000-style attempt to trim Democrats from the rolls.

But because the U.S. Supreme Court has whittled away at the Voting Rights Act, those organizations would have fewer legal options to challenge another voter purge.

The court ruling last summer is the main reason Florida has kick-started its review. Last year, the Division of Elections identified 182,000 potential noncitizens but ultimately whittled that to a list of 2,600. Even that list was flawed, with a World War II veteran accidentally flagged as a noncitizen.

Detzner has pledged the federal database access is a "game-changer" and will help state employees review each case individually and forward documentation on the findings to the counties.

But some aren't buying the effort as anything more than what they already do — and are insisting that they have access to the federal database themselves to verify the state's work.

Detzner has steadfastly refused to say when the effort will kick off.

"Florida's illegal-voter review remains stuck in neutral".

Of RNC police and portalets

"The city of Tampa spent just more than half its $50 million federal security grant housing and feeding out-of-town law enforcement officers, renting portable toilets and leasing a protest area near the Forum during last year’s Republican National Convention, according to a city report issued Friday."

The weeklong gathering also cost the city nearly $677,000 in costs not covered by the federal grant — including $171,000 in lost revenue from closed parking garages, more than $63,000 spent maintaining streets and welding manholes shut, and $28,000 picking up trash downtown.
"Police, portalets used most of RNC grant".

Florida takes lead nationwide in adding (low paying) jobs

"Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in October — the lowest in more than five years — as the state added more jobs than any other in the country, officials said Friday." "Florida unemployment drops to 6.7% in October". See also "Florida's jobless rate drops to 6.7 percent" and "Florida jobless rate drops to 6.7 percent".

Where's Florida's "conservative 'bad girl'"?

"Here today. Gone tomorrow. Maybe to Nicaragua. Maybe not."

Ana Alliegro is again shrouded in mystery.

The self-styled conservative “bad girl” at the center of a federal criminal investigation into a former Miami congressman, Alliegro appeared to have left town and claimed on her Facebook page last week that she was in Granada, Nicaragua.


But no one’s sure

"It’s unclear if Alliegro, who surrendered her passport to authorities when she returned to the United States late last month, left with federal approval. Some sources indicate she departed without permission, but they can’t see how she could have entered a foreign country without her passport."
Her Facebook page makes it sound as if she’s much happier in Nicaragua.
"Where’s Ana Alliegro? Mystery woman might have disappeared — again.".

Florida wingnuts in a dither

"Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is strong among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, the poll shows." Poll: 82 percent favor medical marijuana, plurality support pot legalization.

Clinton-Crist Ticket in 2016?

"Hillary Clinton-Charlie Crist Ticket in 2016?".

Big of him

"The former-Republican-governor-turned-Democrat has an overwhelming lead on the former state senator in polls but Nan Rich created a lot of goodwill among liberal Democrats during her legislative career. A faction is committed to her and a North Florida party activist said a debate will be a good thing for Rich, Crist and the party. " "Crist open to debating Rich".

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Don't Worry? No. But Be Happy? Maybe". See also "Week in Review for Nov. 22, 2013".

Rubio strides world stage

"In a possible preview of a 2016 presidential platform, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday broadly criticized the international record of President Barack Obama while outlining his own plan for more robust U.S. involvement overseas." "Rubio targets Obama's record in foreign-policy speech".

Will anti-flouride crowd dominate CD 13 GOP primary?

"If conventional wisdom applied here, Kathleen Peters and David Jolly would cast themselves in the most conservative light possible, disavowing gay marriage and embracing gun rights while portraying the other as centrist — even liberal — as they vied for the Republican nomination in the District 13 congressional race."

But that approach might not work so well with voters used to the more pragmatic approach of C.W. ”Bill” Young, who represented the district for 42 years until his death last month.

In this district, which includes most of Pinellas County from Dunedin south, excluding downtown and South St. Petersburg, the tea party’s 2011 ruckus over fluoride left a bad enough taste with voters that they ousted two of the incumbent Republicans that voted to remove it from the water supply.

It’s a district where Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike toured beaches and hotels in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill and openly criticized offshore oil drilling. It’s also a district where most of the county’s Republican county commissioners support revamping public transit and possibly building a light rail system linking Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

"Will conservatives sway the District 13 Republican primary?"

Expect a "last-man-standing mud bath"

"A race for governor between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist will be a last-man-standing mud bath, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll . . . ." "Quinnipiac Poll forecasts nasty Scott-Crist campaign for governor".

Scott insider power struggle

"Amid a power struggle with Gov. Rick Scott’s new chief of staff, the pollster-architect of the Republican’s unexpected campaign victory in 2010 has taken a step back from day-to-day operations of his reelection campaign for next year."

Pollster Tony Fabrizio said in an email that he is still working for the governor, but he downplayed and declined to comment about what has become an open secret in Tallahassee — his clashes with Scott’s chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth.

Since he was appointed in the summer of 2012, Hollingsworth has tried to take over more political operations in the state capital and minimized Scott’s 2010 loyalists, Republicans say.

"Rumors from the Republican Governors Association meeting in Arizona flew this week that Fabrizio was gone from the campaign, but he made clear he’s just taking on a different role: handling long-term strategic planning rather than day-to-day campaign-management and messaging activities."
Replacing Fabrizio as his day-to-day overseer of tactics and message role: Curt Anderson of the firm OnMessage, which remains the lead ad firm on Scott’s team. Anderson and Fabrizio are close friends and worked hand-in-glove on the 2010 campaign.

Fabrizio remains Scott’s pollster and his firm will continue to handle the campaign’s media buying. His firm has been paid at least $1 million by Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, and the Republican Party of Florida. . . .

News of the reshuffle in Scott’s campaign world troubled Republican consultants who have grown nervous about Scott’s unpopularity and polls showing Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat and former governor, could beat him by as many as 10 percentage points if the election were held today.

"Fabrizio helped install Hollingsworth in his current role, but they soon clashed, sources say."
One early conflict arose after Hollingsworth unilaterally decided to advise Scott to sign into law a bill to increase campaign contribution limits by six-fold — to $3,000 per individual — which Fabrizio said ceded a significant advantage to Crist who is already a prolific fundraiser.

Crist is on pace to raise more than $1 million since announcing this month his gubernatorial bid, though much of the money was donated to his political committee, which can take unlimited sums.

One Republican said Fabrizio told others that Scott’s decision to sign that bill "did more politically for Crist" than Crist’s mega-donor boss, trial lawyer John Morgan or the Florida Democratic Party could do.

And Fabrizio, apparently
questioned Hollingsworth for approving an alligator-hunting hunt fundraiser for the governor only to scuttle it amid bad publicity; and Fabrizio questioned why Scott was encouraged by Hollingsworth to not attend an education summit that the governor called.

The final conflict came more recently when Hollingsworth pushed to have his longtime ally, Sen. John Thrasher, appointed as Scott’s new lieutenant governor. Fabrizio staunchly pushed for a Hispanic female.

Both lost, apparently.

Neither Thrasher nor a Hispanic female made the list.

"Amid power struggle with chief of staff, Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 victory architect takes a step back".