Sunday, December 14, 2014

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

A North-South FlaDem schism?

Adam C. Smith: "As Florida Democrats continue their perennial soul searching over how they lost another critical election, most of the talk from the Charlie Crist camp has been about how Rick Scott and the Republicans outspent them by nearly two-to-one." Former state Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith of Alachua points out that,

In the five TV markets north of Orlando — Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Panama City — Scott beat Crist by nearly 250,000 votes.

"We simply cannot write off a quarter of a million votes, and have a chance," said Smith.

Translation: For all the talk by Democratic strategists about the importance of driving up turnout among Democrats in South Florida — especially minorities — Democrats will never be successful if they don't also improve their standing among voters in North Florida, especially white voters.

We heard a remarkably similar assessment from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who may already be the frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018. He appears today on Political Connections on Bay News 9, and along with questions about a Tampa Bay Rays stadium in Tampa, we asked him why he did zero to help Crist this year and what Democrats need to do next time.

"Democrats have to have a candidate that can compete in areas other than the traditional Democratic areas. If you cannot compete, and if you don't have a compelling message, and if you aren't looked upon as someone who is pro-business, who is centrist, who is all about getting things done, north of Orlando you don't stand a chance," Buckhorn said.

"The Democrats wrote off everything north of Orlando. I think as a mayor, that pragmatic, practical approach that's focused on results and less concerned about partisan politics potentially could be a winning message, whether it's me or (Orlando Mayor) Buddy Dyer or (Fort Lauderdale Mayor) Jack Seiler.''

"Big losses in North Florida in the governor's race catch the attention of Democrat strategists."

"A dead man sniveling"

Daniel Ruth: "Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber, who earned a Ph.D in mea culpas during his appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Larry and Curly didn't get slapped around by Moe with anywhere near the vigor directed at Gruber, a health care economist who served as a consultant to the Obama administration during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act."

We've seen this Kabuki dance of contrition countless times before. Public official says or does something dopey. Congressmen go into full high dudgeon of outraged frothing. Public official is compelled to appear in the dock of the Capitol to grovel in humiliation. And an indignant time is had by all.

Still, there was a parallel universe feeling as Gruber, a dead man sniveling, began his Beltway bootlicking tour. Consider that Gruber was compelled to testify under oath that he was indeed a shameless, arrogant, self-promoting, thoughtless huckster who had inflated his own sense of self-importance and belittled the American public as a bunch of morons in an inexcusable spasm of hubris.

." "In Congress, it takes one twit to know one."

Runnin' Gub'mint like a bidness

"Rick Scott’s choice to run Florida prisons, one of the toughest jobs in state government, will be receiving nearly $10,000 in monthly taxpayer-funded pension payments on top of her $160,000 annual state salary, according to state records." "Taxpayers will pay prison chief twice."

Primary games

"Republican party leaders in Florida are signaling they are content for the state to share the spotlight with several other states on what is likely to be a “Super Tuesday” primary day on March 1, 2016." "Florida GOP unlikely to flout RNC orders on 2016’s presidential primary."

Frack this

"The drilling process known as fracking holds promise in helping the United States achieve energy independence, but it has also drawn concern for its potential to cause widespread pollution of underground water supplies." "Fracking: State utilities want you to pay."

Yee haw!

"Florida gun dealers saw a sharp increase in sales as shoppers flooded stores the day after Thanksgiving."

As of Nov. 30, there were 1.337 million concealed-weapon or firearm licenses issued in Florida, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The state went over the 1 million mark in December 2012, becoming the first state in the nation to surpass that figure.
"Gun sales soar in Florida on Black Friday."

Entrepreneurs in action

"The Florida Department of Revenue is in a legal battle with hospital giant HCA over claims it owes the state more than $10 million in back taxes."

"The company is also a big player in Florida politics, giving more than $2 million to candidates and committees during the 2014 election."

The company in 1994 was known as Columbia/HCA and led by Gov. Rick Scott, who served as CEO before entering politics. A Medicare fraud scandal that led to a $1.7 billion fine forced Scott out of the company in 1997.
"HCA goes toe-to-toe with Fla. revenue department."

Where was the Gub'ner?

"SeaWorld CEO stepping aside as company announces layoffs."

"Scott's failed promise"

The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Gov. Scott's failed promise of transparency."

Buying access on layaway

"The Florida GOP says it will release the names of donors to Gov. Rick Scott's inauguration activities weekly. The first to step up? U.S. Sugar Corp., $15,000; Allstate Insurance, $5,000; FCCI Insurance Group of Sarasota, $25,000; Calder Race Course of Miami, $15,000." "Early inaugural donors."

Jebbie "running as the second coming of Mitt Romney"?

"As Jeb Bush looks more and more like a soon-to-be presidential candidate,"

last week ran a tough article about Bush's recent private equity ventures, including offshore tax havens and funds relying on Chinese investors. "Running as the second coming of Mitt Romney is not a credential that's going to play anywhere, with Republicans or Democrats," Republican consultant John Brabender told Bloomberg. "Not only would this be problematic on the campaign trail, I think it also signals someone who isn't seriously looking at the presidency or he wouldn't have gone down this path."
"Bush's business." See also "Jeb Bush's business dealings come under scrutiny."