Saturday, October 11, 2014

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

Crist holds his ground in debate

With Charlie Crist pulling ahead in the polls, a seemingly desperate Rick Scott was swinging at dead air in the candidates' first debate. There was no clear winner.

"Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist arrived at WSCV-Telemundo 51 in Miramar Friday for their first of three televised debates, prepared to rip each other apart on a variety of issues -- and that’s exactly what they proceeded to do." "Claws Come Out in First Debate Between Scott and Crist." See also "Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist spar in first debate that gets testy as candidates hammer campaign," "Crist, Scott let the barbs fly in debate," "Crist and Scott Clash in First Gubernatorial Debate," "Tense exchanges, zingers, clear differences in debate between Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist" and "First debate between Scott, Crist contentious."

More: "No clear winner in first Crist, Scott debate," "Crist, Scott carve out identities in first debate," "Crist, Scott Face Off In 1st Debate, Wyllie Supporters Protests," and "Charlie Crist, Rick Scott face off in first debate."

Crist hammers Scott on hypocritical reliance on fed cash

"Charlie Crist says in debate that stimulus saved 20000 teacher jobs."

SoFla "race is key to GOP supermajority"

"Sachs-Bogdanoff race is key to GOP supermajority (subscription required)."

Attacks on Scott's failed job promises wait in the wings

Scott repeated his favorite canard during the debate: "During the Oct. 10 Telemundo debate in Miramar, Scott noted about a half dozen times that 832,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed while Crist was in office."

Scott said "832,000 people lost their job" while Crist was governor, blaming his opponent for not doing enough while in office to improve Florida’s growing ranks of the unemployed.

It’s possible to quibble with the specific number of job losses that occurred under Crist, but the differences are small -- 1.5 percent in one direction or the other.

The bigger issue is that it’s a stretch for Scott to ascribe blame for job losses on a governor’s watch, since it’s unclear whether any given governor’s policies have had an effect on employment trends. If Scott is trying to impugn Crist’s record on jobs during a recession -- something that depends heavily on the national and international economic picture -- he’s largely off base, even if his numbers are pretty close.

"Rick Scott blames Charlie Crist for 832,000 job losses."

It won't be long before Crist lets loose on Scott's failed job promises - Esquire Magazine columnist Charles P. Pierce has the details: Scott

promised that his crack economic team soon would have the state buried in new jobs. Local newspapers down there have looked at the record and, frankly, Scott would have been better off sending the state's cash down a sinkhole in the Everglades.
- Of the jobs Scott can influence most, only a fraction now exist. Scott has pledged $266 million in tax breaks and other incentives in return for 45,258 new jobs. But 96 percent of the jobs have yet to materialize, according to state data.

- The total number of new jobs Scott ultimately might deliver doesn't offset the jobs lost at companies with more than 100 workers in the same time period. Between January 2011 and November 2013, large Florida employers reported 49,163 layoffs, according to federal data.

-Nearly 14 percent of Scott's deals - 46 in all - have collapsed for various reasons, the state says, and more projects are dormant.

-Florida offers tax breaks in most cases only when a company creates the jobs it promised, and $45 million sits idle waiting to be claimed by companies that have not yet reached hiring goals.

-The jobs outlook isn't better in Tampa Bay, where Scott inked deals to create 7,251 jobs in exchange for $39 million in tax breaks. Jobs created to date: 462.

The ghost in the machine, of course, is the strategy of offering massive tax breaks in return for promises from industry. (Also, many of the people to whom these promises are made turn out to be thieves and grifters.)
"Rick Scott's Broken Promises."

Wingnuts running wild in streets of Miami

"Americans for Prosperity builds political machine."

Haters in a dither

"Unlike other Democrats who are running from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., has shown no hesitation in embracing her. This week, Grayson announced that Pelosi would campaign with him in Orlando at the end of next week and went out of his way to praise her." "Beltway 'Bigs' Rubio and Pelosi Lock into Alan Grayson-Carol Platt Race."

It's SoFla, stupid

"Charlie Crist places heavier bet on South Florida than Rick Scott."

"Lost in the hoopla"

"Lost in the hoopla with a dramatic Florida gubernatorial contest between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat after spending most of his political career as a Republican, some compelling fights for congressional seats and a high-profile fight over Amendment 2 on medical marijuana are the legislative elections. "

All 120 Florida House seats and 20 Florida Senate seats will be up for grabs in November. No matter who wins the gubernatorial contest, the Legislature will play an important role when it convenes in March 2015. Factor in leadership contests, major issues ranging from casino gambling and education spending, perhaps more legal challenges to congressional redistricting and the Legislature will have its hands full -- whether a Republican governor is looking to cement his legacy or the first new Democratic governor in 24 years leads the Sunshine State.
"Starting Monday, Sunshine State News Looks at the Hottest Legislative Races in Florida."

Sharpton in town

"Al Sharpton pushes for higher turnout among black voters."

"Old" news; really?

Rick Scott ran a company that was, as a result of false claim act litigation pursued by the federal government, forced to return $1.7 billion dollars to American taxpayers. Balanced "journalist" Aaron Deslatte thinks Crist raising this issue as a campaign issue is just typical politics. He writes that this is just "old" news. He writes that Crist is merely

exhuming 20-year-old accusations about what Scott might have known about the massive Medicare overbilling and fraud committed at his former hospital chain, Columbia/HCA.
" Florida governor's slugfest kicks up old piles of dirt."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Stretch Run for Campaigns, Gay Marriage."

He's not a lobbyist, he's just "a tour guide"

"When asked if he has represented Roberto and William IsaĆ­as, who are wanted in their native Ecuador, Republican Carlos Curbelo said yes. But he argued he did not have to register as a lobbyist for the brothers and their relatives." "Miami congressional candidate Carlos Curbelo represented Ecuadorean fugitives."

Meanwhile the FlaGOP keeps hoping: "New Poll: Obama and Scandals Hurting Garcia Against Curbelo." See "Curbelo Leads Garcia, 46-42, in South Florida."

"What is it about Florida politics?

Nancy Smith: "What is it about American politics? Or Florida politics? Or both."

"Hispanic voters strongly back Charlie Crist"

A "poll, released just as the two major candidates prepare to square off Friday in a debate hosted by Spanish-language network Telemundo, is the latest spot of good survey news for Charlie Crist." "Poll: Florida Hispanic voters strongly back Charlie Crist, Medicaid expansion."