Thursday, March 27, 2014

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

"A rare public display of campaign dirty linen"

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott has stockpiled millions for a focused TV ad campaign and is backed by a highly disciplined Republican Party, but all it took to throw them off stride was one rich, angry donor with a send button."

Coral Gables billionaire Mike Fernandez was co-finance chairman of Scott’s campaign, gave $1 million to his re-election effort and helped raise much more by opening two of his homes to wealthy Republican donors. He sat near the first family at Scott’s State of the State speech three weeks ago before everything fell apart with his resignation followed by leaked emails laced with frustration and armchair quarterbacking, a rare public display of campaign dirty linen.
"A disgusted Fernandez relinquished his title last week after three of his emails, leaked to the Herald/Times and Politico, questioned the judgment of Scott’s advisers and the quality of his ads and his Hispanic outreach. He also complained about a lack of access to Scott and accused unidentified campaign aides of mimicking a Mexican accent in front of his business partner, a charge the campaign denies but will not discuss in detail."
A frustrated Fernandez saw problems everywhere he looked. Scott’s campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, can be “paranoid,” he said, and Scott’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, has a knack for “making enemies out of much-needed friends,” Politico reported.

He said Scott’s new TV ad, the centerpiece of a $2.2 million effort that seeks to portray Scott as humble and caring, is “sterile (and) reinforces how people see him.”

The controversy has been riveting to prominent Republicans such as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who wonders why it seems to be taking so long for Scott’s campaign to move beyond an episode that erupted last Friday. . . .

Fernandez is a highly successful health care entrepreneur who came to the United States as a poor boy from Cuba — an ideal symbol of a successful pro-businessman who could help Scott court Hispanic votes.

He may have assumed that Scott’s young team of political advisers would respect his success and value his opinions.

Nearly a week later, they are still coping with the ugly fallout that included Scott’s TV adviser, Curt Anderson, labeling Fernandez a “renegade donor” in a Politico interview.

In his emails, Fernandez repeatedly cites his wealth and success in business.

“Trust this, my net worth exceeds $3B, and I made it because I am not stupid and I can sell!” Fernandez writes in a March 15 email that trashes the new Scott commercial.

"GOP insiders incensed, fascinated by tirades of Gov. Rick Scott’s fundraiser". See also "Reports: Miami GOP fundraiser's email suggest insensitive out-of-staters crimping Scott campaign".

St. Leo Poll a Yawner

"Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and favorite sons former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are in great shape in Florida for the 2016 presidential race, according to a poll from St. Leo University released on Wednesday." "Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio Lead the 2016 Pack in Florida".

"Will Democrats get loud?"

"House Democratic leaders criticized their chamber's $75.3 billion spending plan Monday, but the opposition from the minority party is not as unified as it has been in recent years to Republican budgets." "House, Senate budgets incredibly close - will Democrats get extremely loud?".

"Curbelo brings out the big guns"

"Leading politicians at the state and national level are getting involved in a South Florida congressional race which is increasingly appearing to be one of the most competitive contests of the 2014 election cycle.U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and his leading Republican challenger, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, brought out the big guns this week as they ready for the campaign. . . . Curbelo battles Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck and Jose Peixoto in the Republican primary." "Big-Name Politicians Take Sides in Joe Garcia-Carlos Curbelo Showdown".

"I don't like the son of a bitch that much"

"'There is a lot of problems with Obamacare,' John Morgan said when someone put a video camera in front of him Tuesday night and asked him."

Here's what Morgan said earlier:

"But they didn't finish. I said 'There are a lot of problems with Obamacare. I said, The problem is governors of states trying to block it and not help implement it,' " Morgan said.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who could face Crist in the November gubernatorial election, opposed Obamacare and has offered few state resources to help with implementation.

"They just put a camera in my face and took a clip from it. I'm the biggest supporter of Obamacare in the whole state," Morgan said Wednesday. "But the only way it will work is if you have a critical mass, people signing up. The problem with Obamacare is people aren't signing up. And people aren't signing up because the governors are trying to block it."

What the raw video released by the RPOF shows is Morgan saying, "Obamacare, look, I'm not a politician. Obamacare is not my issue. I think there is a lot of problems with Obamacare. So, I mean, I think it needs to be fixed."

"If Republicans wanted another juicy short video clip to edit back to draw a rift between Morgan and Crist, they could have gotten one from another comment that Morgan made Wednesday, this one during his speech to the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers."
He spoke to them about medical marijuana. Morgan is chairman of United For Care, which is campaigning to support Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative, on the November general election ballot. He has also contributing most of the money for that campaign.

"I've spent $4 million so far," Morgan told the lawyers. "People say, well, you're just trying to get Charlie Crist elected. Let me tell you something: I don't like the son of a bitch that much. I like him. But not that much."

"Morgan, Republican Party argue over his Obamacare comments". Meanwhile, "New Crist commercial fights for Obamacare without actually calling it that".

"Sen. Tom Lee wants to make clear the winner of the 2014 gubernatorial election would appoint the replacements of three Florida Supreme Court justices whose terms end January 2019." "Senate readies court pick clarification amendment".

Fine, just don't bother showing up at public hospitals

"Rubio says increasing number of Americans want Obamacare repealed".

Yee haw!

"Scott backs bill allowing concealed guns without permits in emergencies".

The Tampa Trib editors: "Legislative gun play at school".

Voucher madness

"School voucher bill gets second chance".

FlaGOP "push to dismantle state growth-management rules"

"The Florida Legislature is poised to press ahead with its four-year push to dismantle state growth-management rules." "Legislature ready to keep rolling back Florida growth-management rules". See also "Permitting bill gets substantial changes in Senate but still faces environmental opposition".

Putnam packs little punch

"Renewable energy bills backed by Putnam appear dead in the House".

"Snag" in FlaGOP effort to appear less hostile to Hispanics

"The sponsor of a measure that would allow undocumented immigrant students to pay cheaper tuition rates insists he has the votes to pass the bill in the Senate."

But the biggest snag with the bill -- a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford -- is getting it to the Senate floor for a full vote, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said Wednesday. Last week, the House approved a similar plan (HB 851) that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities as long as they first go to school in Florida for four years in a row.
"Jack Latvala: Getting Immigrant Tuition Bill to Floor Biggest Challenge".