Sunday, January 19, 2014

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

"Republicans kept Chris Christie under wraps"

The Hide-the-Christie strategy is apparently working. Try as they might, few if any photographs of Chris Christie and Rick Scott emerged from this weekend of Florida fundraising crapulence.

Understandably, "Republicans kept Chris Christie under wraps Saturday, and Democrats seized on the news vacuum by attempting to turn the New Jersey governor's Florida trip into a political liability."

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she was happy to "welcome" Christie to the Sunshine State — with news conferences mocking Christie and his host, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, for avoiding public appearances.

She termed it "bizarre" for Scott to bring in Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate and chairman of the Republican Governors Association "and not brag about it, not show him off, not spend some time in front of the cameras." Her theory: "Rick Scott doesn't want to be seen standing next to Chris Christie and Chris Christie doesn't want to be answering any uncomfortable questions."

"Christie raises money for Scott, energizes opposition". See also "As Chris Christie hides in FL, Debbie Wasserman Schultz trashes him in two major media markets".

Perhaps we have it all wrong, and it was not Scott, but Christie who is concerned about being photographed with Scott, who after all is a man who once "invoked the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 75 times." Not the best person for Christie to be seen with in the middle of multiple corruption investigations.

To be sure,

Scott said he wanted to fight the federal government accusations; the corporate board of Columbia/HCA wanted to settle, and did. In 2000, the company pleaded guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies and agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines and civil damages and penalties. The company agreed to further settlements in 2002, paying an additional $881 million in fines.
Scott's protestations of innocence notwithstanding, the criminal accusations against Scott's company went unchallenged.

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Rick Scott, Legislature Gear Up for 2014". See also "Week in Review for Dec. 20, 2013".

It would be "comical if it weren't so consequential"

The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The state’s slippery effort to distance itself from the Common Core State Standards is bound to cause more problems than it solves. Gov. Rick Scott should quit trying to tiptoe around the issue and, like former Gov. Jeb Bush, candidly confront opponents’ inflated fears of the education standards."

Rather than embrace the standards Florida adopted in 2010, Scott has spent the past year placating critics who claim Common Core represents a federal takeover of the state’s education system.

He pulled the state from a consortium creating standardized tests related to Common Core, and ordered a public listening tour that resulted in 98 changes to the standards being proposed. For good measure, state officials now refer to them as “Florida standards,” rather than Common Core.

That could be considered comical if it weren’t so consequential.

"State shouldn’t waffle on Common Core".

"Headed for political obscurity"

"Carlos Lopez-Cantera is at the peak of his political career, but for the next few years, he may be headed for political obscurity. That’s what usually happens to lieutenant governors in Florida." "History predicts obscurity for Florida’s new lieutenant governor".

Ring may run for CFO

"In another ripple effect from Florida Atlantic University's moves to select a new president, state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland, is thinking about running for state chief financial officer this year."

Just two months ago — one year before the general election in which voters will pick a new CFO — Ring said in an interview a the Sun Sentinel editorial board that he wouldn't be a candidate for anything in 2014.

There have been two big changes since then:

• Ring didn't make the list finalists on Monday for a job he coveted: president of Florida Atlantic University.

• Current Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a Republican widely favored for re-election, did make the finalist list for the FAU job.

If Atwater is selected [but he wasn't], he'd have to give up his seat in the Cabinet, which could give Democrats a shot at picking it up in the November election.

"Jeremy Ring might run for chief financial officer".

Florida to pay some jobless claims

"Florida's jobs agency met with federal Department of Labor officials over the state's problem-plagued unemployment compensation system and will now start paying claims on hold for more than seven days, the agency announced Saturday." "Rick Scott's jobs agency meets with feds over fouled-up unemployment system". See also "NEW: Fla. to pay thousands of held-up jobless claims".

"A behind-the-scenes dealmaker"

"The man Gov. Rick Scott selected to be his No. 2 has built a political career around being affable, loyal and not a rigid ideologue." "Florida’s next lieutenant governor is known as a behind-the-scenes dealmaker".