Monday, July 28, 2014

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

Florida Democrats convene circular firing squad

Marc Caputo writes: "A governor’s race doesn’t seem to go by in Florida without Democrats ending up in a circular firing squad."

A disgruntled Nan Rich supporter was the unwitting bullet this time.

Angered with the way the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee treated her, party member Barbara Walters secretly filed an obscure tax complaint with the IRS last October — and then she leaked the information recently to a conservative-website columnist dedicated to tearing down Charlie Crist.

The story targeted the county party’s leader, Annette Taddeo, just after Crist coincidentally chose her to be his running mate.

IRS Investigating a 537 Consulting-Related, Tax-Violations Complaint Against Annette Taddeo, read the Sunshine State News headline, which wondered why the mainstream news media wasn’t looking into the case.

For starters, the complaint about employee classification for tax purposes is without merit, experts say.

And the story’s headline is false.

There is no IRS “investigation,” federal law-enforcement sources confirmed to the Miami Herald. Also, the story drips with hyperbole, misleading innuendo and, in one case, a statement that Walters said is “totally inaccurate.”

“There were probably other ways I should have handled this,” Walters acknowledged on Sunday to the Herald.

Walters’ fellow Democrats are furious. Regardless of the veracity of the story’s headline, it’s now out there. And it reinforces the “Democrats in disarray” narrative that looks all too familiar to a party that, despite superior numbers of voters, hasn’t won a governor’s race since 1994.

Much more here: "Dade Democratic dysfunction emerges in governor’s race." The Sunshine State News responds here.

Ex-lobbyist described by prosecutors as "bag man" in federal bribery trial

"Ex-lobbyist Richard Candia, described by prosecutors as a 'bag man,' will testify against suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, above, at federal bribery trial." "Ex-lobbyist becomes star witness in bribery trial."

Q Poll: Surprising Numbers on Medical, Even Recreational MJ Use

The latest Florida Q poll has some interesting numbers regarding medical and even recreational marijuana use:

Florida voters support legalized marijuana for medical use 88 - 10 percent, with support ranging from 83 - 14 percent among voters over 65 years old to 95 - 5 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

The lowest level of support is 80 - 19 percent among Republicans, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

More surprisingly, "Sunshine State voters also support 55 - 41 percent 'allowing adults in Florida to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use," or so-called "recreational marijuana.'"
There is a wide gender gap and an even wider age gap: Men back recreational marijuana 61 - 36 percent while women back it by a narrow 49 - 45 percent. Voters 18 to 29 years old are ready to roll 72 - 25, while voters over 65 years old are opposed 59 - 36 percent.

Support is 64 - 32 percent among Democrats and 55 - 40 percent among independent voters, with Republicans opposed 56 - 41 percent.

"July 28, 2014 - Florida Backs Medical Marijuana 9-1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Young Voters Lead Call For Recreational Marijuana" ("From July 17 - 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,251 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.")

More: "Florida voters approve of medical marijuana," "Support for Medical Marijuana Soaring in Florida" and "Poll: Floridians ready to legalize medical marijuana ("The poll also found that 55 percent of voters would favor a straight legalization of pot for recreational uses, similar to states like Colorado.")"

Right-Wing Radio, With a Florida Twist

"Kevin Derby, senior political reporter for Sunshine State News and one of the state's most knowledgeable people on Florida political history, will hit Florida’s airwaves on a daily basis, starting today. His 'Sunshine State News Update' is set to launch on the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily conservative talk show, 'Ed Dean Radio Show.' Derby's 'Update" segment will air at 6 p.m.'" "Kevin Derby's 'Sunshine' Politics on Air Every Weekday."

"Distortions and misrepresentations"

William March writes that "Florida voters are being inundated by an unusually early and negative wave of advertising in the governor’s race, launched by Republican Gov. Rick Scott against his likely Democratic challenger Charlie Crist and drawing an immediate response from the Crist camp. The ads contain a number of distortions and misrepresentations of fact. Here’s one of the most obvious:"

In repeated ads, Scott blames Crist for the 2008 global economic meltdown’s effects on Florida and takes credit for the effects of the recovery — a message that forms the basis of his campaign.

Experts say neither governor had much to do with that history. The effects were largely determined by global or national forces and the state’s own, underlying economic structure.

Crist, meantime, takes credit for aid that came to the state under the Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan, helping prevent layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters. He also may be exaggerating the effects of that aid. In addition, the Florida Democratic Party is running ads castigating Scott for the kind of education cuts and tuition increases that also occurred under Crist.

The state parties and Scott’s independent political committee Let’s Get To Work are airing many of the ads.

They can accept donations of unlimited size, while the campaigns face contributions limits. Scott and the Republicans, with far more money, have run far more ads.

March takes a close look at the ads here: "Scott, Crist ads malign, mislead."