Saturday, March 22, 2014

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

"The latest upheaval in Scott’s campaign"

"In a campaign shakeup, Gov. Rick Scott’s top fundraiser — billionaire healthcare CEO Mike Fernandez — abruptly quit his post late Thursday after weeks of behind-the-scenes disagreements."

Fernandez said he was quitting to spend more time with his family and businesses. And he praised Scott’s campaign in a letter to the campaign’s leadership team.
"Despite the praise, Fernandez has been unhappy for weeks with the struggling campaign’s direction and and the attitude of some of its workers."
Fernandez began expressing his frustrations at least a month ago when he sent an email to top Scott allies and complained about two campaign aides who had joked around in a cartoon-style Mexican accent en route to a Mexican restaurant in Fernandez’s home town of Coral Gables.

Fernandez, who is Cuban, wouldn’t comment about the email.

Fernandez, though, said his real issues concerned the campaign’s direction and not the governor. But he acknowledged his own faults, noting he never ran a campaign. . . .

Fernandez’s departure is the latest upheaval in Scott’s campaign.

In November, the governor’s office chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, helped minimize the role of Scott’s once-top political advisor, pollster Tony Fabrizio, who has been credited with being the driving force behind Scott’s improbable 2010 win.

Republicans say Hollingsworth has also had a tense relationship with Fernandez’s possible successor: former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas, John Rood.

"Gov. Rick Scott’s finance co-chair exits amid campaign turmoil".

Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces"., See also "Week in Review for March 21, 2014" and "Weekly Roundup: Governors, Past and Present, in the Spotlight". More: "Arrivals and Departures".

"Lawmakers poised to clash over budget in coming weeks"

"The two chambers' spending plans are similar, yet lawmakers are poised to clash over budget priorities in the coming weeks." "House and Senate budgets close as chambers prep spending plans".

Scott (literally) chased out of town

"A day after Gov. Rick Scott was picketed by angry Pensacola residents and refused to talk to them, he abruptly canceled a controversial plan by his prisons chief to shift a probation and parole office to a residential neighborhood."

Scott’s action Friday followed a furor as he left a Thursday fund-raiser at The Fish House, a popular Pensacola waterfront restaurant.

About three dozen residents of the historic North Hill neighborhood, some carrying picket signs, had gathered on a public street outside the seafood restaurant, hoping to make a direct appeal to Scott to reconsider the decision to put a probation and parole office in a former Coca-Cola plant. They said they had public safety concerns about parolees and probationers walking in an area with many single-family homes. According to a report in the Pensacola News Journal, Scott not only did not stop to listen to the residents, but the driver of his black sport-utility vehicle flashed its lights and blew its siren as his three-car caravan drove off, scaring the residents.

"Pensacola protest puts Scott on the spot".

Big of 'em

"Legislature keeps insurance perks for workers".

"Polk County Republicans set to duel"

"With Seth McKeel headed out of Tallahassee due to term limits, two Polk County Republicans are set to duel in what should be one of the most competitive legislative primaries in Florida this year." "Colleen Burton and John Hugh Shannon Get Set to Run for Open House Seat in Polk".

"A decidedly negative affair"

"The race for the Republican nomination for the 19th Congressional District seat has turned into a decidedly negative affair, with hyperbolic accusations and character assassination floated freely in television ads, mailers and news stories bombarding Southwest Florida voters." "Dirty politics: Republican primary for House takes nasty turn".

"A pattern of hubris by politicians"

The Miami Herald editors bemoan "a pattern of hubris by politicians, local and national, that appears epidemic." "When will they ever learn?"

Wingers in a dither

"As federal health officials are aggressively courting young adults to sign up for health insurance with celebrity endorsement and social media campaigns, they are also getting significant help from the very demographic they're targeting."

Busy medical, nursing and law students across Florida are getting certified as counselors and are staffing enrollment events as the March 31 deadline to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act looms. Many of the students were active in outreach programs to provide medical and legal services in low-income neighborhoods, but being "able to sign up patients for health insurance and get coverage that's more than just one time care really completes the circle," said Ali Moody, a second year medical student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"Fla students assist 'Obamacare' enrollment".

Voucher madness

"A Republican senator withdrew his [voucher] bill, saying there were too many unanswered questions about accountability." "School voucher bill suffers serious setback".

Good luck with that

Fabiola Santiago: "Sports subsidies should not override funding for social issues".

Yee haw!

"The so-called Pop-Tart and warning shot bills passed out of the House with bi-partisan support." "Gun bills find support in state House".

BushCo rising

"Will Florida's Jeb be the third Bush president?" More: "Jeb Bush is ‘seriously’ considering White House run: GOP heavyweight".

"Look for surprises and good-old-fashioned horse-trading"

Aaron Deslatte: "When Florida policymakers set major goals for a two-month lawmaking session in an environmentally and economically fragile megastate, it is inevitable that entropy takes hold and things start falling apart."

But politicians do have one marketable skill when it comes to making a deal. So look for surprises and good-old-fashioned horse-trading in the six weeks ahead on issues such as gambling, school vouchers and efforts to save Florida's dying springs.
"Can gambling, vouchers and springs bills ever be killed?". Meanwhile, "Lawmakers write state budget with something for nearly everyone".

"House Democrats are poorly served"

Nancy Smith believes "House Democrats are poorly served when their leader [in her view] puts personal ambition ahead of the good of the caucus." "Perry Thurston's Lamentable Leadership Lapse".

"Yoho Kicks Off Second-Term Bid"

"As he kicks off his bid for a second term, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., finds himself in a much different position than last time out."

In 2012, Yoho, a large-animal veteran who was a political unknown, was challenging longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., in the Republican primary. But this time, Yoho started his campaign off by touting the endorsement of one of the leading Republican presidential possibilities of the 2016 election.
"With Rand Paul's Endorsement, Ted Yoho Kicks Off Second-Term Bid".

Sink loss "dampened Democratic hopes that the party could retake the House"

"The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare was implicated in Democrat Alex Sink’s narrow loss last Tuesday in a nationally watched special election for an open St. Petersburg congressional seat. The loss dampened Democratic hopes that the party could retake the House." "President Obama visits Miami to raise money for Democrats still hurting from Alex Sink’s loss in congressional race".

Scott politics while conducting "official business"

Health care wizard "Rick Scott Friday made another in a series of appearances in Tampa that are technically on official business but which have strong political overtones -- this one to push his anti-Obamacare message and his contention that President Barack Obama 'cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare.'" Never mind that

similar cuts were included the budget plan pushed by House Republicans and authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.
"Scott bashes Obamacare during Tampa appearance".