Saturday, July 19, 2014

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

As National Job Picture Improves, Florida Fails to Keep Pace

Florida continues to benefit from Obama's national job recovery: Florida's "unemployment rate dipped slightly to 6.2 percent — down from May's reading of 6.3 percent — and the state added 37,400 jobs."

However, the overall "the U.S. unemployment rate for June was 6.1 percent."

Before June, Florida's jobless rate had been equal to or lower than the national rate for 13 months in a row. Nationally, the number of jobs is up about 1.8 percent during the past 12 months.
"State unemployment rate ticks down to 6.2 percent."

To be fair, Obama’s jobs national recovery, as in Florida, has been a relatively low-wage jobs recovery.

Scott Claims Credit for Tiny Unemployment Drop, But Is Unable to Explain What He's Done

Rick Scott takes credit for Florida's June unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, notwithstanding the fact that Florida's rate has fallen behind and is worse than the U.S. unemployment rate of 6.1 percent." Consistent with Scott's inability to answer questions, and explain precisely what he has done to keep pace with national trends, it appears that he has done little more than "Being There" while the Obama economic recovery takes root. See generally "Rick Scott's nonanswers bring national ridicule."

Rick Scott "insults everyone's intelligence"

Aaron Deslatte: "News flash: Gov. Rick Scott doesn't answer questions."

Yes, it's media-driven sound and fury, but when a governor can turn an oxymoron into a national cable-news debacle with CNN's Anderson Cooper claiming he "insults everyone's intelligence," voters deserve an explanation.
"Scott's nonanswers are the 'in your face' variety. His public-relations staff has tried to soften him — losing the tie, holding news conferences in his office instead of behind a podium, workdays in a doughnut shop and restaurants."
His discipline in staying on script is impressive. But television turns hard-nosed obstinacies that may be assets in corporate negotiations into cringe-worthy YouTube curiosities.

Dodging one question is an art form. Dodging the same question repeatedly for 60 seconds is a bad week. And in the heat of a high-stakes campaign, it produces a positive-feedback loop.

Instead of talking about gay marriage, medical marijuana, giving tax dollars to an Orlando-to-Miami rail company or alleged prisoner abuses, he's fielding questions about not answering questions.

"Oh, gosh, I answer questions," he told the throng of TV cameras in Tampa this week. In Orlando, he was asked again about the law-enforcement snafu and blamed Crist for "mudslinging."

Meanwhile, Crist tapped a Miami-Dade County Democratic chairwoman for a running mate — Annette Taddeo — in a county the party comfortably carried in 2010. The decision smacks of confidence. Scott looks like he's worried about making media missteps, which is often when they blow up on CNN.

"The art of avoiding questions in a gubernatorial race."

Easy target

"The two men hoping to take on Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi this November have sharp criticism for the way she handled her first term in office. George Sheldon and Perry Thurston both say they could do a better job. Before they get to take on Bondi directly, one has to get past the other during next month’s Democratic primary." "Democrats vie to take on Bondi."

Shilling hard

Jeff Henderson shills hard for the Scott campaign today, arguing that "Charlie Crist hoped to get some positive attention by announcing Annette Taddeo as his running mate but his move was overshadowed by other events, some of which don’t help his campaign." "Charlie Crist's Gamble on Annette Taddeo Didn't Get Instant Payoff."

Scott outspending Crist on television advertisements at a five-to-one clip

"Through the last week of July, Republicans have spent $16.1 million on television advertisements as part of the governor’s race versus the Democrats’ $3 million, according to an analysis of television ad buys in the governor’s race obtained by the Scripps/Tribune Capitol Bureau." "Scott campaign dominating TV in governor’s race."

Atlas shrugs

"With weeks left before the August 26 primary, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is once again raising campaign cash far faster than anyone else running in any of six Central Florida Congressional races – and is spending it far faster than anyone else too, according to the latest federal campaign finance reports."

Grayson, the Orlando Democrat incumbent congressman in District 9, which covers Osceola, most of east Orange and part of north Polk, reported raising $1.8 million in contributions through June 30. That is nearly double anyone else running in the six congressional districts that cover all or parts of Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard and Volusia counties.
"Yet Grayson also reported, to the Federal Election Commission, that he spent $1.2 million campaigning, even though he faces only token opposition in the August 26 primaries."
Grayson’s district features a hotly-contested Republican primary, with three candidates who have been campaigning against one another for more than a year, mostly by taking shots at Grayson. Carol Platt of St. Cloud remained on top financially with $253,000 in contributions. Jorge Bonilla of Orlando raised $212,000. Peter Vivaldi of Windermere raised about $40,000. Democrat Nick Ruiz, who entered in April to challenge Grayson in the primary, reported raising $19,000.
"Grayson leads in cash campaign in Central Florida Congressional races."

Scott running low on wingnuts

"Scott has rejected six nominees for two spots on the Palm Beach Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission [including] two black women." "Gov. Scott rejects 6 for judicial nominating panel, more applicants sought."

Negron fears federal loan

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "A powerful state senator from the Treasure Coast has jumped onto the region’s growing bandwagon opposing All Aboard Florida, the private long-distance passenger rail that plans to transport travelers between Miami and Orlando. But not — he says — because of the fears of traffic jams or inconvenienced boaters or the specter of environmental Armageddon that so many residents conjure."

The supposed source of Sen. Joe Negron’s concerns? That the service might be created with help from a federal loan.
"Concern over All Aboard Florida loan sounds more like cover."

Environmentalists react swiftly

"Elected officials and environmentalists in Florida reacted swiftly to the federal government’s decision Friday to reopen the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil exploration using sonic cannons to find deepwater energy reserves." "Florida officials oppose reopening of offshore oil exploration."

Bits and Pieces

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Arrivals and Departures, July 18, 2014" and "Weekly Roundup: It's All About the Appeal."

Simply unable to get over it

"A Florida judge ruled that because the employer mandate was delayed, and not canceled, the compliance costs [Dr.] Kawa incurred in preparing his business to meet the requirements of the mandate did not amount to an unlawful taking -- even if he may have wasted significant resources. The same mandate would apply just one year later, the judge’s reasoning went." "Florida Orthodontist Braces for Oral Arguments in Obamacare Lawsuit."

TeaBaggers in a Dither: "Millennials Are More Liberal and Less Conservative"

This very recent libertarian poll [.pdf] shows that "Millennials Are More Liberal and Less Conservative than Americans over 30."