Monday, August 11, 2014

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "liking" us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Early voting begins

"Early voting starts Monday in some counties." See also "Early voting in Palm Beach County starting for Aug. 26 elections" and "Everything you need to know to vote today!"

"Nelson's Place in Politics Now?"

Jeff Henderson wonders, "Where's Bill Nelson's Place in Politics Now?"

Koch brothers fund "shadow GOP" Hispanic initiative

"Looking to make inroads with the rising number of Hispanic voters, conservative activists are offering English classes, health checkups and courses to help Spanish-speakers earn high school diplomas. Picking up part of the tab: Charles and David Koch."

The billionaire industrialists are working to patch a gaping hole in the GOP coalition that could spell a generation of irrelevance if Republicans cannot build some credibility with Hispanic voters, who typically shun the GOP. The fast-growing group could have tremendous sway in American politics for years to come. Party elders have acknowledged their struggles to win over Hispanic voters, who as recently as 2004 were roughly split in party preference.

Enter the Libre Initiative, an organization that has collected millions from the Kochs' political network. Libre, which is pronounced LEE'-bray and means "free," pushes a message of limited government and economic freedom between lessons on how to build family-run businesses and prayer breakfasts with Hispanic pastors.

Its organizers pitch conservative ideals while offering tutorials on U.S. immigration law, support for overhauling the broken immigration system that stops short of campaigning for the Senate's bipartisan bill and collecting donations for the unaccompanied children crossing the United States-Mexico border illegally.

In effect, it is a shadow GOP — one with a gentle emphasis on social services and assimilation over a central party often seen as hostile to immigrants and minorities.

"Koch brothers reach out to Hispanics."

Fruit packing plant raid

"Workers from a Naples vegetable and fruit packing plant are headed back to court as they face charges related to alleged workers comp fraud. The case stems from the raid of a packing plant where more than 100 workers were detained, most of them presumed to be in the country illegally. . . . Using a fake ID to gain employment . . . is a third-degree felony, under Florida law." "Naples packing plant workers back in court.