Saturday, August 23, 2014

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

Judge gives victory to GOP in map case

"A judge on Friday gave a victory to the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, rendering a decision that effectively forces voters to choose candidates in November based on a congressional map that he ruled was invalid because it favored the GOP."

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis approved a new congressional map that been swiftly adopted earlier this month during a special session. But he agreed with attorneys for the Legislature that there was no time to implement the new map before voters head to the polls this year. Florida’s primary is Tuesday.
"David King, an attorney for the groups that sued the Legislature over the district boundaries, said they were disappointed with the decision and planned to appeal the ruling."
The groups had been heartened by the judge’s July ruling invalidating the 2012 map but said the redrawn map offered little more than cosmetic changes and was still unconstitutional. They had hoped Lewis would either adopt a map proposed by them or draw up one on his own.
"Judge: Use flawed map for this election cycle." See also "Candidates reactions mixed over Lewis's ruling" and "Judge Lewis accept new maps."

"battle for equality rages on in the Sunshine State"

"It’s been nearly six years since Florida voters cast their ballots to ban same-sex marriage, but the battle for equality of marriage still rages on in the Sunshine State." "Fight to Legalize Gay Marriage Only Gets Hotter."

"Scott Ups the Ante on Education"

"Scott Ups the Ante on Education Spending; Oh, Pooh, Responds Crist."

"More concern for political influence than academic excellence"

The Tampa Tribune editors: "Two recent events highlight the political mess Tallahassee has made of Florida’s higher education system."

In Polk County last weekend, Florida Polytechnic celebrated its grand opening, with Gov. Rick Scott and other notables on hand for the festivities. . . . In Tallahassee, Florida State University has gone nearly six months without a president and, as the Tribune’s James Rosica reports, students and alumni are expressing their fury about the situation on a website developed to take comments on the search. Both situations are the direct result of the state showing more concern for political influence than academic excellence.
"Treating higher education as political toy."

Florida’s parties raise millions

"Florida Republicans and Democrats are spending millions they received this year from corporations and wealthy donors." "Florida’s 2 political parties raise millions."

Nary a "scientist" in sight

"In a TV show to be aired Sunday, four of the five contenders revealed disagreements over gay marriage, immigration and sea-level rise." "Miami GOP congressional candidates spar over key issues."

On the cheap

"Irizarry was a caseworker for Children's Home Society, a non-profit contractor for the Florida Department of Children and Families. It was his job to check on the safety of children who had been victimized by abuse and neglect." "Child welfare worker arrested in Rachel Fryer case."

"If you can’t beat them, join them"

Jeff Henderson is under the impression that, rather than smothering his opponents with money, "Scott upset Bill McCollum and beat Alex Sink by stressing his business background and how he would use that experience to be fiscally responsible in Tallahassee and keep the state government out of the way so the private sector would grow and create jobs. Despite Scott’s awkward public persona, it worked. Floridians gave Scott the keys to the car instead of career politician McCollum or Sink who had some private-sector credentials of her own."

Henderson now complains that

Scott’s attitude increasingly seems to be if you can’t beat them, join them. Scott is calling for an extra $800 million for transportation projects, called for $1 billion spending on the environment earlier this month and, on Thursday, boasted that he would raise education spending to its highest level based on per-student spending.
"Rick Scott Can't Let the Race Turn Into a Spending Contest."

Turnout down

"Early voting numbers down from 2012."

HD 61

"Those running in the House District 61 race, like most candidates, have been encouraging people to get out and vote. And they practice what they preach." "Dist. 61 candidates ask for your vote – and haven’t missed a vote themselves."

Weekly Roundup

Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces." See also "Weekly Roundup: Nobody's Perfect" and "Arrivals and Departures, Aug. 22, 2014."

Broward GOPers looking for volunteers

"A group of Republican activists, mostly from northwest Broward, has set up a political action committee to fund a volunteer mobilization effort on behalf of the party's 2014 candidates." "Republican group raising money to mobilize in northwest Broward." See also "Less than 100 days before election, Broward Republicans continue infighting."

Thurston gets boost

The Orlando Sentinel endorses "Thurston for Dems' AG." See also "Sheldon and Thurston Bogged Down in Last Days of Dem AG Primary."

The best Wisconsin can do?

Kevin Derby: "Having released a new book earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the U.S. House Budget Committee chairman and a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, hit Florida on Friday. Ryan was former Gov. Mitt Romney’s, R-Mass., running mate on the 2012 presidential ticket." "Paul Ryan Hits Florida With Questions About 2016 Left Hanging."

Southerland desperate

"The most vulnerable Republican congressman in Florida is going on the attack against his Democratic opponent as he focuses on his opposition to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law." "Steve Southerland Attacks Gwen Graham over Obamacare."

"Political Enemy No. 2"

"Unfazed by the Democratic critics who regard her as Political Enemy No. 2 – right behind the governor – Attorney General Pam Bondi touted her record Thursday as a fighter and vowed to continue the course after the November election."

"We don't have to moderate our message. We don't have to change, come up with some fancy new marketing plan. All we have to do is just stick to what we say we're going to do and do it," she told a gathering of 75 to 100 Republicans at the Palm Beach County Republican Party's 2014 election Victory Office.

Bondi described her fight against politically safe enemies: human traffickers, producers of synthetic drugs aimed at children, Internet predators, and doctors who recklessly prescribe addictive painkillers.

"Pam Bondi vows to keep fighting range of enemies."

Nan likes Nan

Nancy Smith: "At the End of the Day It's Nan Rich Who Embodies Character."

Dems crafting 2016 presidential nominating calendar

"Democrats are preparing to approve the 2016 presidential nominating calendar, setting the stage for a successor to President Barack Obama."

The Democratic National Committee, or DNC, was expected to adopt a schedule on Saturday that would begin with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016, followed by voting later that month in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The 2016 framework was in line with plans pushed by Republicans and gives states incentives to hold their primary contests between March and June, aiming to avoid a front-loaded calendar that encroaches on the Christmas holidays.
"Democrats to vote on 2016 primary calendar plan."