Thursday, July 24, 2014

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

So much for Jeb's "favorite son" status

Quinnipiac University Poll released this morning: "Florida voters back Clinton over Bush 49 - 42 percent in the 2016 White House race. "

The Democrat tops other Republicans by wider margins:

  • 53 - 39 percent over Rubio;
  • 53 - 37 percent over Paul;
  • 54 - 33 percent over Christie;
  • 51 - 38 percent over U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

    Independent voters back Clinton over Bush by a narrow 45 - 41 percent. Against other Republicans, her lead among independent voters is 16 to 20 percentage points. Clinton's lead among women runs from 56 - 36 percent over Bush to 61 - 28 percent over Christie.

    Florida voters give Clinton a 58 - 38 percent favorability rating, compared to 48 - 37 percent for Bush, 43 - 35 percent for Rubio, 32 - 28 percent for Paul, 35 - 36 percent for Christie and 33 - 30 percent for Ryan.

    "Secretary Clinton leads the Republicans against whom she is matched by double digits with the exception of former Gov. Bush who trails her by 7 points," [Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll] said. "Inside the Beltway they may be talking about Mrs. Clinton's potential weaknesses should she run in 2016. But at this point in Florida, the nation's largest presidential swing state, her assets overwhelm any vulnerabilities."

  • "Rubio Narrows GOP Gap As Jeb Bush Sags (From July 17 - 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,251 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.)"

    Meanwhile, "Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton Exchange Shots as Both Look Ahead to 2016."

    Libertarian candidate brings down Crist's numbers

    Marc Caputo"Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are essentially tied 37-39 percent in Florida’s hotly contested governor’s race, partly because a little-known Libertarian candidate is sapping support from the Democratic challenger, a new poll indicates."

    Libertarian Adrian Wyllie pulls 9 percent support, according to Quinnipiac University’s survey, which shows Crist’s 2 percentage-point lead would grow to 5 points without Wyllie on the ballot.
    "The close race between the frontrunners is a marked improvement for the unpopular Scott since Quinnipiac’s last April survey. The results also underscore the power of the Republican’s mammoth $18 million ad campaign, which has damaged Crist and boosted Scott."
    [Moreover,] the underlying trends in Quinnipiac’s polling since April favor Scott:

    • Strong leadership. By 54-38 percent, voters say Scott is a strong leader compared to Crist’s 49-43 percent. That’s close to the opposite of the April findings. Scott’s index has moved 11 percentage points in the governor’s favor, Crist’s index has moved 12 points to his detriment.

    • Truthfulness. Crist took a notable hit in appearing honest and trustworthy. His -9 index (39-48 percent) is down from a +2 index in April. That’s a net 11-point shift. Scott’s index is about the same.

    • Favorability. Only 40 percent have a favorable impression of Scott and 45 percent an unfavorable impression. But his -5 favorability index is an all-time high and a 2-point improvement since April. Crist’s 40-42 percentage favorability spread is an all-time low; a -2 index that represents a 9-point shift to his detriment.

    • Job approval. Scott’s anemic 43-48 percent job-approval numbers is his best ever. The -5 index represents a 3-point shift in his favor since April.

    • Compassion and caring. Does Crist care about voters? More say no than yes now. His index is -3, a 9-point shift against him. Scott’s index is worse: -11. But that’s an improvement from -17. Crist is seen as more compassionate than Scott by 12 percentage points, but the spread is 3 points smaller than it was in April.

    • Head-to-head lead. Leaving out Wyllie, Crist’s 5-point lead of 45-40 percent has been cut exactly in half from his 10-point, 48-38 percentage lead he had in April.

    "The poll sheds no light on Crist’s decision Thursday to name Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo to his ticket."
    Another poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for Tampa-based WFLA-TV and released Tuesday, indicated Crist might have picked up support, however.
    "Poll: Libertarian Adrian Wyllie helps Gov. Rick Scott catch Charlie Crist." Details of the Quinnipiac Poll: "July 23, 2014 - Unknown Libertarian Confuses Florida Gov Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Don't Trust Scott Or Crist."

    Related: "Marc Caputo: Numbers favor Rick Scott, despite troubles." See also "Charlie Crist, Rick Scott Locked Tight in New Q-Poll as Adrian Wyllie Factors In" and "Adrian Wyllie a Factor in Florida Governor's Race, But Can He Be a Contender?."

    Fair Districts group ask judge to re-draw maps and push back election

    "On the eve of a hearing in which a judge is set to decide whether to allow congressional elections with unconstitutional maps to go forward this year, the groups that sued to block the plan are asking him to re-draw the maps and push back the election." "Fair Districts group proposes to break up Corrine Brown's district, threatens further legal action." See also "Florida judge must decide whether to delay map fix."

    Attack Ads

    Kevin Derby: "Charlie Crist, Republicans Exchange Attacks in TV Ads."

    Crist will get millions in campaign cash to counter his big-pocketed opponent

    "The former governor will get millions in campaign cash under the state’s public campaign financing program created to help low-budget candidates counter big-pocketed opponents." "Charlie Crist about to get millions in campaign subsidy."

    "Conservatives Place Their Bets"

    Kevin Derby: "On Monday, freshman U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., announced he was backing attorney and Republican activist Paul Renner in the primary to replace state Rep. Dan Davis, R-Jacksonville, who is leaving the House to focus on running the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. In his endorsement, DeSantis stressed Renner’s service in the Navy." "Conservatives Place Their Bets in Jacksonville House Race."

    What Walmart Wants . . .

    Fabiola Santiago: "Florida has a fragile ecosystem in desperate need of conscientious stewards."

    That’s why it’s so hard to understand how the University of Miami’s leadership could have thought it was a good idea to sell to a developer a 135-acre site that includes a unique habitat for endangered plants and animals — one that only exists in this tract between two national parks in south Miami-Dade and in the Bahamas.

    But, preposterous as it sounds, UM has sold for $22.1 million the tract of pine rockland off Coral Reef Drive and Southwest 127th Avenue to a Palm Beach County developer, Ram Realty Services, known for building dense shopping and housing projects.

    The developer plans to add to the already crowded, sensitive area 900 apartments plus a Walmart, an LA Fitness Center, and Chik-fil-A and Chili’s restaurants. . . .

    [I]f a leading educational institution isn’t sensitive to the environmental plight of this state, then who is? If an educational institution chooses to participate in the rampant over-development of this state to the detriment of the conservation of a unique and endangered ecosystem, who’s left to inspire others to care?

    Government hasn’t been a responsible steward, and in this case, neither were UM President Donna Shalala and UM’s Board of Trustees, made up of influential Miamians.

    "UM wrong in sale of fragile land"

    "Scott had stake in pipeline firm whose $3 billion venture he and his appointees backed"

    "Upon his election in 2010, Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team included a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched his company’s plan to build a major natural gas pipeline in North Florida to fuel a new generation of gas-fired power plants in places like Port Everglades. What wasn’t publicly known in 2013, however, was that the governor owned a stake in Spectra Energy, the Houston company chosen by Florida Power & Light that July to build and operate the $3 billion pipeline. Sabal Trail Transmission LLC is a joint venture of Spectra Energy and FPL’s parent, NextEra Energy." "Gov. Scott had stake in pipeline firm whose $3 billion venture he and his appointees backed."

    "Per-pupil spending is still about $189 below the historic levels of 2007"

    Aaron Deslatte thinks you should "know this: Crist bumped up school funding to record levels early in his term, then cut it as the economy crumbled; Scott, meanwhile, slashed $1.4 billion from schools his freshman year in office, and has gradually added money back since then. Today, total spending on education is bigger than ever, but that's because the school system has grown. Per-pupil spending -- which adjusts for student-population -- is still about $189 below the historic levels of 2007." "New Crist ad, same misleading education claims."

    Florida versus NY. Really?

    "Florida’s top finance official, CFO Jeff Atwater, is accusing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of running a deceptive TV ad campaign designed to lure businesses to the Empire State."

    “We know a huckster when we see one,” Atwater, who dashed off a letter about his concerns, told the New York Post about the Cuomo administration’s $113 million TV and radio “START-UP NY” ads in Florida and other states that promote New York's business climate and tourism.

    Cuomo’s office fired back, saying Atwater was misconstruing the incentives that the ad campaign is promoting.

    “For a CFO, he must be pretty bad at math if he doesn’t understand that the zero in StartUp’s zero-tax zones means no state taxes for new businesses,” Cuomo spokesman Matthew Wing said in an email response.

    In his July 18 letter, Atwater says the ads contain “glaring errors and misstatements” about New York as a place to work. And Atwater needles the number of New Yorkers who have moved to low-tax Florida, a job-creation leader.

    "From ‘huckster’ riff to math dis, Florida CFO Jeff Atwater and N.Y. Gov. Cuomo have war of words."

    Labor relations, Florida style

    "A week after a former employee and union official testified before congress about problems at the Veterans Benefits Administration St. Petersburg Regional Office, management installed a surveillance camera outside the office of the union representing employees. On Tuesday, that union, the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1594, filed [an unfair labor practice charge], saying it was an attempt by management to create a chilling effect on union activities." "St. Pete VA center camera riles union."

    Reality of amendment 1 in the eyes of the Legislature

    "Amendment 1 on the November ballot sounds like a godsend for green groups. If passed, the constitutional question could steer $700 million or more to conservation projects next year, and more than $1.3 billion annually within two decades. But the reality of the amendment may be in the eyes of the Legislature, which would have broad authority to decide what types of projects could qualify for the money." "Amendment aims cash at conservation efforts."