Saturday, November 15, 2014

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

"Another round of wonderful political voyeurism"

Aaron Deslatte: "Florida's two-year legal fight over redrawn congressional and legislative maps is about to provide another round of wonderful political voyeurism."

The Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that Republican strategist Pat Bainter and his Gainesville-based campaign-consulting firm, Data Targeting, must make public hundreds of pages of emails, maps and other documents that will provide more insight into the role they played in the state's redistricting process. But like every page in this drama, the smoking gun will probably be elusive by design.
"Bainter has until Thursday to try to reverse the court's ruling."
He has argued for nearly two years that disclosing the documents would violate his constitutional right to free speech and reveal trade secrets. The trade-secret argument might be a heavy lift, because the data we're talking about are publicly available and have been crunched by everybody from Boston political scientists to college students and tea-party activists since 2012. How they analyze it to decide where lines could be drawn to maximize GOP gains in Congress and the Legislature might be unique but hardly a "trade secret."

The First Amendment argument, though, is an important one. The groups fighting for release of the emails — the League of Women Voters of Florida and a cadre of media organizations — have argued along the same grounds that the public was entitled to access these records.

Bainter runs one of the highest-paid political shops in Florida. It just banked at least $3.7 million from House and Senate campaigns, including one supposedly hotly contested for Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg; the campaign of Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-DeLand; and newly elected, 23-year-old Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, among many others.

The documents are bound to include lots of juicy tidbits of communication among Bainter, his operatives and lawmakers and their campaign staff.

"Redistricting ruling has ramifications for decades."

"The Florida Supreme Court delivered a stinging rebuke to a top Republican political consultant Thursday, ordering that 538 pages of his documents be made public from the legal fight over the Legislature’s efforts to redraw congressional district boundaries ruled unconstitutional." "Court orders GOP consultant’s redistricting docs made public" (Subscription).

FlaDems "look inward"

"Dems squabble, look inward after brutal losses." (Subscription)

"Scott may reward campaign manager"

"Gov. Rick Scott may reward campaign manager with chief of staff job ("Tallahassee insiders say Melissa Sellers may be the next chief of staff to Gov. Rick Scott.")" (Subscription)

"Scott’s military veteran status is nothing to brag about"

Frank Cerabino: "Gov. Rick Scott’s Navy ball cap, one of his go-to campaign props, has apparently gone to his head. That’s the only rational explanation for his move to put a brick inscribed with his own name in the new Veterans Walk of Honor in Tallahassee." "Scott’s military veteran status is nothing to brag about" (Subscription).

Empty chair

"When lawmakers enter the Capitol next week to organize themselves for next year’s legislative session, state Rep. Jamie Grant may not be among them. . . . But because of a protracted legal struggle involving a write-in candidate, a valid election has yet to be held for the seat, meaning more than 157,000 people don’t have a state representative. " "Legislature might hold first meeting with Tampa seat empty."

Rising Star

"Ron DeSantis is a rising star for Florida Republicans but he could be facing something of a headache in the days ahead." "Ron DeSantis Has Choices to Make as GOP Special Election Primary Kicks Off."

"The kooks are pounding on the door"

"In the wake of the midterm elections, Republicans said they would prove they could govern. . . . But just a week and a half after the elections, the kooks are pounding on the door." "Conservatives: Let’s Prove We Can Govern by Shutting Down the Government and Impeaching Obama."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: A Big Supply of Demand."

Rivera "a bit... paranoid"

"Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera is known in Florida political circles to be a bit... paranoid." "The tale of the tail: David Rivera calls cops on mysterious follower." (Subscription)

"Election could be decided by a coin toss"

"With the high-profile governor’s race safely in the books[*], it seems as though the state escaped major election controversies. That would be true, unless you live in Mount Dora, where a local election could soon be decided by a coin toss." "Coin Toss May Decide Florida Election."

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*Actually no, the election isn't quite yet "safely in the books: Section 102.111(2), Florida Statutes provides that the Elections Canvassing Commission doesn't meet until "the 14th day after a general election to certify the returns of the election for each federal, state, and multicounty office."