Monday, May 26, 2014

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

Campaign contributions rolling in at a higher clip than 2010

"Driven by a record-setting governor’s race, campaign contributions are rolling in this election cycle at a higher clip than the 2010 cycle, the last time Florida had a gubernatorial race."

Statewide, there have been $150.5 million in contributions, most of it to candidates, committees or state political parties. That is up nearly $9 million from a similar time frame during the 2010 cycle.

Political observers say a new law increasing the amount a donor can give to an individual candidate along with a big-money governor’s race is helping set the tone.

Statewide candidates can now accept $3,000 checks, while lower-level candidates can receive up to $1,000 contributions. Both caps were at $500 prior to new limits passed during the 2013 legislative session.

"Campaign cash flowing at faster pace."

Taxpayer-funded hometown projects on chopping block

"The Florida Legislature used its best financial outlook in nearly a decade this spring to sprinkle in more taxpayer-funded hometown projects – more than $600 million requested by individual lawmakers during session. Now Gov. Rick Scott's office is poring over money lawmakers have tucked into their $77.1 billion budget for hometown projects, from a Brevard gun range and gay men’s chorus in Broward to a Panhandle ballet school and Miami observation tower." "Gov. Rick Scott's office poring over budget 'turkeys'".

Democrats push so-called "war on women," infuriating FlaGOPers

Anthony Man: "New Florida legislation making abortions more difficult to obtain could become a lynchpin issue in the Charlie Crist-Rick Scott race for governor."

Already, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and state Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, have joined forces in an attempt to use the proposed new abortion restrictions as a way to rejuvenate their party’s long-running charge that Republicans are engaged in a war on women.

And they’re aiming squarely at Scott, the Republican governor running for re-election.

“It’s clear that Florida Republicans want to follow the misguided leadership of Governor Scott and take their extremism a step further by restricting the right of Florida women to make their own health care decisions,” Wasserman Schultz said during a recent conference call with reporters.

Berman said the “real intent” of Scott-led Republicans is to “turn back the clock” and limit women’s ability to get access to abortions.

When Democrats push the so-called war on women, it infuriates establishment Republicans and social conservatives. “If you want to talk about a war on women, what about the war on women in the womb,” said Tami Donnally, a Lake Worth Republican activist.

"Abortion could play role in Crist-Scott governor race".

"Election-year uncertainty"

"Florida soon will have a new agency to handle state government’s information technology, but a chief information officer may not come along till next year."

The reason? Floridians will vote for governor in November, and the head of the new Agency for State Technology is an executive-branch appointee.

Doug Robinson, executive director of the nonpartisan National Association of State Chief Information Officers, said Florida should expect to see a placeholder agency head at first.

Florida “would not be able to attract a highly qualified state CIO … until after the election,” Robinson said, explaining that top candidates don’t want to worry about being out of a job mere months after taking it.

Florida’s is the only state government without a CIO.

Should Gov. Rick Scott lose the election, “new governors have the full right to select their own leadership team, and the CIO is part of that leadership,” Robinson said.

"Election-year uncertainty may stall new state technology agency".

"Small men with ugly thoughts"

Carl Hiaasen: "Small men with ugly thoughts, expressed aloud."

GOPer Staffer Cornered on Witness Stand

"An employee of the state Republican Party who drew congressional districts that appear to have been submitted to the Legislature under someone else's name took the stand in a redistricting trial Friday, as lawyers continued to battle over access to documents generated by political consultants."

Frank Terraferma, who became director of state House campaigns for the Republican Party of Florida in January 2011, began testifying late Friday as the trial's first week came to a close. Voting-rights organizations and some individual voters have challenged the state's congressional maps, saying they violate the anti-gerrymandering Fair District amendments approved by voters in 2010.
"Under questioning from David King, a lawyer representing the map's opponents, Terraferma conceded that maps submitted to the Legislature under the name of Alex Posada contained districts that looked nearly identical to districts Terraferma had drawn on his computer."
Terraferma did not send maps to lawmakers through the public system that the House and Senate's redistricting committees used to gather ideas.

"But you were willing to put your work product before the Legislature under somebody else's name," King said.

"I'm not aware that it was done until potentially right now," Terraferma said a moment later.

"Sitting here today in this courtroom, this is the first time you've ever realized that your work product was contained in public maps 132 and 133?" King asked.

"Yes," Terraferma replied.

"GOP Staffer Questioned About Districts He Drew."