Monday, January 20, 2014

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

"Rubio seizes role of working-class Republican"

"In the growing debate on income inequality, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is presenting himself as the Republican from working-class roots who can help you rise up, as he did, to achieve the American Dream."

The Florida senator, widely considered a presidential prospect, looks to states, not Uncle Sam, to confront poverty and help workers acquire the skills needed for higher-paying jobs. His latest proposals made him a leading conservative counterpoint to President Barack Obama's ideas for closing income gaps.

"Even people in the middle class have this pervasive sense that they are just one bad break away from losing everything they worked so hard for," Rubio told Florida reporters after launching his proposals. "And everyone believes that their kids are not going to have the same chance that they had."

"His focus on upward mobility renews a role he began more than a year ago before he was engulfed in immigration reform, which sparked a backlash from fellow conservatives."
Although polls show his rising star has dimmed, the Cuban-American from West Miami may be Republicans' best hope for uniting the party establishment with the tea party movement while reaching out to working-class and minority voters.

"He's still a leading candidate — a conservative from Florida, which always makes him viable," said Kevin Wagner, associate professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University. "He's certainly much more working-class than somebody like Mitt Romney.

"Rubio seizes role of working-class Republican in debate on income inequality".

Really, "much more working-class than somebody like Mitt Romney." Who isn't?

"Meek could remain in political limbo for a while"

Jeff Henderson: "Kendrick Meek returned to Tallahassee last week to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, in one of his most high-profile moments since his 2010 Senate bid."

To his credit, Meek handled the Senate race with grace, even as his campaign was undermined by a novice billionaire in the primaries and a party switcher in the general election. After the election, it was expected Meek would resurface. But despite being a good solider for the Democrats, Meek largely vanished from Florida politics after his underwhelming showing in 2010.

Meek has become forgotten by Florida Democrats as the man who assured he would not be a factor in the Senate race has moved to the head of the line. Despite Crist’s years as a Republican, Democrats across the nation have welcomed him to the party. Crist had a prime speaking spot at the Democratic convention in Charlotte as he endorsed Barack Obama. The likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Allison Tant have done what they could to welcome Crist to the party as he runs against Rick Scott. Meek, on the other hand, has generally kept a very low profile and the Obama administration hasn’t been beating down his door with job offers. No reason for the Democrats to give any attention to Meek and remind party faithful what Crist did to him.

"If Crist loses in November, Meek could well resurface. But if Crist becomes governor, Democrats will want Meek to continue to keep a low profile. He’s become something of a ghost, a painful memory for Democrats who are now so desperate to win that they’re backing Crist."
Meek is only 47 and he should have chances down the road, but the cards aren’t exactly friendly. Another Senate bid or a gubernatorial campaign seems out of the question after the 2010 debacle. Nor has Meek shown much interest in any of the state Cabinet offices. The only real option in the short run for Meek could be his old congressional seat. While she’s only in her second term, Frederica Wilson is 71 but she shows no signs of slowing down. Meek could remain in political limbo for a while even as the man who stole his thunder becomes Florida Democrats’ new love.
"Charlie Crist Continues to Eclipse Kendrick Meek".

Gay clout comes out of the closet in gov's race

"This may be the year that gay political clout comes out of the closet in a Florida governor's race. Gay activists and others sympathetic to their causes are eyeing the 2014 governor's race as an opening, with a Democratic candidate, Charlie Crist, who professes to support the call for equal rights for marriage and workplace anti-discrimination." "Gay issues may rise in governor's race".