Saturday, May 10, 2014

Now that the session is over, we here at FLA Politics will be able to get back on our regular publishing schedule. We apologize for the inconvenience.

"They're Off and Running"

"Both Gov. Rick Scott and his likely Democratic opponent for re-election, former Gov. Charlie Crist, are making appearances in the Tampa area this weekend as the campaign for governor gets underway in what may be the state’s most crucial political battleground."

The Tampa area is a swing-voting area as well as the state’s largest media market, and a place where Crist has the advantage of being from St. Petersburg.

Crist, though, has been less visible in his home turf because he’s been campaigning just as obsessively in the three South Florida counties that are the home of around a third of the state’s Democrats. His chances of victory may turn on a high turnout in those counties, while Scott’s may depend on winning the swing voting area around Tampa.

"Scott, Crist continue to wage campaign war in Tampa Bay." See also "They're Off and Running."

FlaDems Struggle to Find Candidates

Jeff Henderson: "Florida Democrats Struggle to Find Candidates."

Session summary

"Session summary: Legislature struggles to agree on overhauls for nurses, physician assistants and telemedicine." More: "Session Summary: Environment and Natural Resources," "2014 Session Summary: Economic Development and Transportation" and "Our 2014 Florida Legislature Winners and Losers."

Another fine Jebacy: "Florida’s achievement gap continued to remain below the national average"

"More troubling for Florida was the state breakdown, which showed Florida’s high school seniors falling well below the national public average for mathematics proficiency. Only 19 percent of Florida’s high school seniors scored at or above “proficient” in mathematics. When it came to reading, Florida matched the national average with 36 percent performing at or above “proficient” in the NAEP test. Florida’s achievement gap continued to remain below the national average, but the results were unchanged from the 2009 NAEP test." "Stagnant NAEP Scores Raise Concerns for High School Seniors."

Bits and Pieces

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces". See also "Weekly Roundup -- They're Off and Running", "Arrivals and Departures, May 9, 2014" and "Week in Review for May 9, 2014."

Murphy crosses party lines because . . . Benghazi

"On Thursday, the U.S. House voted to create a select committee investigating the Benghazi attacks from September 2012 in which four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed and the Obama administration’s response to it. The House voted 232-186 to establish the committee. All 186 congressmen who opposed the creation of the committee were Democrats while 225 Republicans and seven Democrats voted to back it. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., was one of the seven Democrats who crossed party lines and voted to create the committee." "Florida Delegation Votes to Create Benghazi Committee."

Another FlaDem mess: "Florida Delegation Clashes on Holding Lois Lerner in Contempt."


The public school haters on the Tampa Trib editorial board predictably argue that "Voucher expansion justified," even "though the schools would not be required to use the same standardized test as public schools."

"100 Powerboys"

Fred Grimm: "They hired 100 powerboy lobbyists. They poured gobs of money into the campaign accounts of the governor and our legislators. They enriched the state political parties."

They got nothing. They bet all that money on a favorable comprehensive overhaul of Florida’s madcap gambling statutes. They rolled snake eyes.

They wanted legislation to establish destination casinos, or to lower tax rates for racinos, or to allow slot machines in parimutuels beyond South Florida, or to expand the gambling monopolies enjoyed by Indian casinos, or to “de-couple” dog racing from the greyhound racinos, or to allow revival of the strip mall casinos. And to get what they wanted, gaming enterprises invested prodigious amounts of money in the 2014 legislative session.

"Big bucks flowed in Tallahassee this year, but gambling supporters got nothing in return."

Congressional Races, or not

"Florida's Congressional Races Take Shape". See also "Members of Congress face easy path to re-election."

"Politicians are people. People fib."

Marc Caputo: "Politicians are people. People fib."

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is a politician. And on Thursday, he misled — but in the rarest of ways.

Weatherford praised someone else (Gov. Rick Scott, to be exact) for something he really deserves the greatest credit for: securing the passage of a controversial bill giving in-state college tuition rates to some Florida high school graduates who are undocumented immigrants. . . .

Scott was far more cautious and he once opposed the measure outright. He wasn’t out front on the issue until the session’s waning days, though he’ll get credit (or blame) for it the way any governor who signs legislation does. . . .

Said Scott: “I have always supported lower tuition for all Floridians.”

That’s not true.

Here’s what Scott told Newsmax in 2011: “With regard to in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, I completely oppose it.”

Scott’s I-always-supported-it fib is the kind of misleading statement we expect out of people, particularly politicians. So is his flip-flop on the issue.

And there Scott has company. Crist lauded the death of a Dreamer tuition bill in 2006 when he was still a Republican running for governor.

Now the politics have changed, as have Crist’s and Scott’s positions.

"How House Speaker Will Weatherford saved the ‘Dreamer’ tuition bill."