Saturday, July 12, 2014

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

Rivera's campaign lasts 72 days

"His reputation tainted by scandal, former Miami Congressman David Rivera vowed he would return to politics."

He did — for 72 days. On Friday, just over two months after launching a new campaign for his old seat, Rivera has called it quits, at least for now.
"Rivera, who is under federal investigation in a campaign-finance scheme, said Friday he is suspending his congressional bid."
But he said it had nothing to do with the FBI probe — which he refuses to discuss — and everything to do with a ruling Thursday from a judge in Tallahassee. . . .

Rivera cited “great uncertainty” following the ruling that invalidated two of Florida’s congressional district boundaries — even though neither of the districts was the one Rivera sought to represent.

The districts specifically invalidated by Leon Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis are in Central and North Florida and don’t border the 26th Congressional District that Rivera was campaigning for, which extends from Kendall to Key West. In the event that new districts are redrawn, they would likely not take effect until the 2016 election, assuming the case is appealed as expected. . . .

In his letter to supporters, Rivera said he intends to run for the Florida House of Representatives in 2016. “There are just too many issues to solve in Florida — Common Core, Medicaid, economic development and others to sit by and wait for unelected judges to decide the When he filed to run again two months ago, Rivera surprised even hardened politicians and the already crowded field of Republican contenders. Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck are running for their party’s nomination in the Aug. 26 primary.

"Rivera has not yet been required to file a campaign finance report, which is not due until July 15, so whether he has managed to raise any funds remains unknown. GOP heavyweights, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Miami Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, had endorsed Curbelo long before Rivera’s entry into the race."
Another sign that Curbelo is considered the establishment favorite: On Friday, the Democratic Party wasted little time on Rivera to instead attack Curbelo.

“David Rivera would have been a horrendous nominee for Republicans in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, but self-interested lobbyist Carlos Curbelo isn’t any better,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein said in a statement.

Curbelo, a political and public relations consultant who is not currently a registered lobbyist, countered that the DCCC “is desperately trying to deflect attention” from Garcia.

"David Rivera suspends Miami campaign for Congress."

Related: "Congressional ringer Justin Sternard, saying he was duped by David Rivera, gets 7 months."

Really? Mario Diaz-Balart blames Dems for failure of immigration reform

"U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a vocal proponent of immigration reform, was told by the House leadership on Thursday that the matter was done for the year. While he praised the help he got from the other side of the isle, the Florida Republican took shots at the Democratic leadership and President Barack Obama, saying they did little to advance the issue." "South Florida Congressmen Clash on Who to Blame for Immigration Reform's Demise."

"Fiercely partisan practice of gerrymandering"

"Democrats have long claimed that Republicans abused their legislative powers to elect a disproportionate number of U.S. House members. Now a Florida court is lending credence to their complaint. The full impact of the Florida ruling — plus a similar lawsuit pending in North Carolina — won't be known for some while. For now, at least, they shine light on the fiercely partisan practice of gerrymandering, in which state officials draw congressional districts to help their party." "GOP keeps House edge in Democratic-leaning states."

Silly Grade Games

"School Grades 2014: 'A' Schools Up, But So Are 'F' Schools." See also "More Schools Earn Failing Grades As Florida Prepares For Common Core Switch."

"Nan Rich defends viability"

"The lesser-known candidate for the Democratic nomination also has less money, but says she is the lone true Democrat on the primary ballot in August." "Nan Rich defends viability as gubernatorial candidate, rips Crist for not debating."

Weekly Roundup

"Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Arrivals and Departures, July 11, 2014," "Weekly Roundup: Looking for Answers" and "The Week in Review for July 7-11, 2014."

"Lawmakers responded to the public’s desire for honest government with deceit and disdain"

Aaron Deslatte: "Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis's scathing, 41-page decision blasted Republican political operatives for making a 'mockery' of Florida's 'non-political' redistricting process with a 'secret, organized campaign to subvert the supposedly open and transparent redistricting process.'" "Florida redistricting ruling could be felt for decades." See also "Redistricting Round 2 Could Impact Corrine Brown, Dan Webster Big in 2016."

Even the right-wing Tampa Trib editorial board acknowledges that "every Floridian, regardless of whether they supported those [Fair District] amendments, should be alarmed when lawmakers blithely ignore the rule of law to maintain political power."

How much House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz and former House Speaker Dean Cannon knew about the back-room dealings is unclear, though the judge did point to evidence that Cannon’s aide was sending draft copies of the new district maps to a Republican operative.

Legislative leaders are expected to appeal the judge’s ruling to the Florida Supreme Court. That may delay the redrawing of the maps, or even overturn the finding that lawmakers broke the law.

But it can’t conceal the evidence uncovered during the trial that lawmakers responded to the public’s desire for honest and transparent government with deceit and disdain.

"Judge’s ruling confirms redistricting sham."

Does this mean the public employee pension hysteria will wane? Don't count on it

Aaron Deslatte: "Here's a rare bit of good news brought to you by your state government: remember nearly seven years ago when credit markets crashed, and Florida's investment fund for local governments nearly went belly-up?"

Well, stay calm and read on. Turns out that most, if not all, of the 1,000 Florida cities, counties, school districts and other governmental entities that once had $27 billion in taxpayer cash in what was formerly called the Local Government Investment Pool will come out of the collapse with only a minor haircut.
"Investment collapse is ancient history these days."

"Everything from education to missed opportunities to tap federal money"

"The former governor attacked Gov. Rick Scott’s tenure on everything from education to missed opportunities to tap federal money." "Crist speaks to Florida press group in Miami."