Sunday, November 09, 2014

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

Scott Florida's "only governor elected twice without getting a majority of the vote either time"

"The biggest winner in Tuesday’s election in Florida was the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature. It coasted to victory with little effort, broke fundraising records and came away with enough political power to control the agenda — even that of Gov. Rick Scott’s."

Florida voters gave the governor four more years in office, but more people voted against him than for him. Unofficial election returns gave Scott a 1.1 percent victory over Democrat Charlie Crist, a margin of nearly 66,000 votes out of 6 million cast, nearly identical to Scott’s 61,550-vote win over Alex Sink four years ago. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie got 223,000 votes.

By contrast, Republicans in the Legislature picked up a supermajority in the House and preserved their majority in the Senate, essentially restoring the numbers they had in 2010 when Scott was first elected in the tea party wave.

The results are a reminder that Florida remains a deeply divided state with a majority that swings right during the mid-term elections and swings left in presidential years.

The returns also show that, even in a year in which Republicans swept most competitive seats and the Florida GOP invested more than $100 million reelecting the governor, Scott’s political persona remains weak. He will go down in the history books as the only governor elected twice without getting a majority of the vote either time.

Nevertheless, "the GOP juggernaut is expected to lead an agenda of reducing regulations, taxes and union power. Legislation is also expected to track the agendas of some of the GOP’s largest donors:"
The gambling industry gave $8.6 million. Florida Power & Light gave $7.5 million. U.S. Sugar gave $2.7 million. The telecom industry gave $1.5 million. The construction industry gave $1.8 million. The healthcare industry gave $2.3 million. Charter school and school choice proponents gave $900,000, and the business lobby, which collects money from all those entities, gave more than $10 million.
"Gov. Rick Scott’s weak win empowers GOP -dominated Legislature." See also "Scott's weak win empowers already powerful GOP legislature" and "".

Run! Marco, Run!

"Sen. Marco Rubio says he'll make presidential decision in weeks."

Still the same

"Candidates for the Florida House spent a combined $23.8 million on their races." "Big money, little turnover in Florida House races."

"GOP sweep of state seats fueled by national money"

"The single biggest benefactor of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign also was crucial in clinching races from Maine to Michigan, bringing the number of Republicans in governor's mansions to a nearly two-decade peak."

The Republican Governors Association contributed $18.5 million to Scott, a record amount from the Washington, D.C., fundraising organization, but a fraction of the $130 million it spent nationwide.

RGA spent $14 million to help re-elect Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. It helped secure another four years for embattled Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback by contributing $5 million. And it spent $27 million flipping what had been Democratic strongholds in Massachusetts, Maryland, Arkansas and Illinois.

With RGA's massive fundraising, Republicans picked up two more governor's mansions Tuesday, padding their lead over Democrats to 31-18, the most lopsided balance in 17 years.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 ruling in Citizens United allowed unlimited contributions to third-party groups like RGA, Republicans have taken the upper hand over Democrats in steering money into races for governor, state legislature and attorney general.

"Perspective: GOP sweep of state seats fueled by national money."

"Democrats got their clocks cleaned"

Scott Maxwell: "It's hard to overstate how badly Democrats got their clocks cleaned last week — continuing a decade-long tradition of losing in a state where they outnumber Republicans."

Some Dems whine they were outspent by special interests. And they were. But Democrats need to look in the mirror when playing the blame game. The party didn't even try to compete in some of the state's biggest races. Democrats were MIA in two of three Cabinet contests. Some congressional candidates were so lame that one actually left the state halfway through the campaign. And even though Democrats did have a strong candidate in the attorney general's race, the party abandoned him financially. Democrats spend on races they lose. They ignore races they could win. And they have no bench.
"10 takeaways from Florida's 2014 election season."

An exercise in flip-floppery

The Tampa Trib editors: "It’s easy to forget that Scott didn’t move to Florida until 2003. It takes a while for transplants to fully appreciate all the diverse needs of this beautiful state."

But the governor’s outlook clearly evolved during his first term. We hope he further broadens his horizon in the second.
"Broader horizon for Gov. Scott."

Fight over Democratic leadership

"Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, confirmed that he would challenge incoming House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, at a caucus meeting scheduled for Nov. 17, one day before of the Legislature’s organizational session." "A fight over Democratic leadership in Florida."

"Could Crist have expanded Medicaid?"

"To hear Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist tell it, the 2014 gubernatorial campaign isn’t about policy positions, but more about which candidate did less as governor." "PolitiFact Florida: Could Charlie Crist have expanded Medicaid in Florida?."