Monday, January 12, 2015

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

Is Rubio serious?

The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Florida Sen. Marco Rubio recently told NPR that he is close to deciding whether to run for president. The senator has been linked to a presidential run for almost as long as he has been in Congress. While the opportunity is there for Rubio, his short time in office has been more about positioning himself for a presidential run than any larger vision for the nation. If Rubio is serious about running, he needs to stop politicking and start leading." "Rubio must lead to show he can win GOP nomination." Meanwhile, Rubio bloviates that "he can win presidential election." Marc Caputo writes that "Marco Rubio is expected to run for president."

All that’s really in doubt is the year: 2016, 2020, 2024?
"What’s not uncertain is that the U.S. senator has a tough decision to make: does he make a longshot bid and give up his seat or does he run for president and then seek reelection? Either way, there’s increasing political chatter that Rubio is well-positioned to run for governor in 2018."
And then, if he wins, there’s a good chance Gov. Rubio will run for president — 2020 would be attractive if a beatable Democrat is president. The next presidential year, 2024, an open-seat year, would be more likely. He’ll only be 52."Political players from Tallahassee to Washington want a decision made soon."
"But he has to decide by the first week of May 2016, when federal candidates need to qualify in Florida, which prohibits a person from seeking two offices simultaneously on the same ballot. By then, voters in the four early-caucus and primary states will have weighed in. The moment Rubio announces a presidential bid he’ll create the appearance of a pending political vacancy. Some politicians will try to fill it in the same way nature abhors a vacuum."
Dominoes will start tumbling.

Democrats will see an opportunity for an easier-to-win seat. Washington Republicans will go from protecting an incumbent (relatively easy) to backing a newcomer for an open seat (harder). To give fellow Republicans time to campaign for his seat, there’s pressure on Rubio to make a decision early and stick to it.

There’s more pressure from Rubio’s fellow Republicans because of the Florida GOP’s embarrassment of riches. The governor, lieutenant governor, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner are all Republicans. All have ambitions for higher or other offices. So do former office holders in Tallahassee and a few less-mentioned members of congress.

Caputo shares his thoughts about:
♦Attorney General Pam Bondi (R)

♦CFO Jeff Atwater (R)

♦Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R)

♦Gov. Rick Scott (R)

♦Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R)

♦U.S. Rep Gwen Graham (D)

♦U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D)

♦Bob Buckhorn (D)

♦Former House Speaker Will Weatherford (R)

♦U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R)

♦U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R)

♦U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R)

"Sen. Rubio’s ambitions and Florida’s political dominoes."

Abortion games begin

"Doctors who perform abortions would be required to have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is done under the first anti-abortion bill filed in the 2015 legislative session. HB 147 is similar to controversial laws in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, which have the same 30-mile admitting privilege requirement for abortion providers." "Controversial abortion limits introduced in Fla. bill."

Raw political courage

"Rubio questions US low-profile at French solidarity march."

Florida's next Gub'ner

"With another four years till the next election for governor, it’s a little awkward being a political heir apparent."

Even this early, the guessing game for next governor has begun. Reports already have set up [Adam] Putnam, a former congressman from Polk County, as a potential Republican rival with Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. Others see Atwater skipping the governor’s race and taking on third-term incumbent Bill Nelson, a Democrat, for his U.S. Senate seat. Still others have Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn running for governor in 2018, framing him as the Democrat most likely to win statewide office. And Buckhorn has publicly suggested he’s interested: “There will be an open seat in four years – I’m just sayin’,” he joked at an apartment tower groundbreaking the morning after Election Day.
Some say
not to count out GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi, who’s proven her mettle by raising millions in campaign contributions and running two successful statewide campaigns.

Bondi, a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, also is known for her many appearances as a Fox News guest.

And then there's
U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, also is being talked about for governor in 2018.

Graham, daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, already is making news. She was one of four Democrats in the U.S. House who voted against Nancy Pelosi for speaker, saying it was time for new leadership.

“She’s got the potential to unite conservative Democrats in north Florida and liberals in South Florida,” said Lance DeHaven-Smith, a public policy professor at Florida State University. “In four years, she could build enough of a reputation to run statewide and possibly win.”

"Other early names for governor include:"
♦ Pasco County’s Will Weatherford, a Republican who ascended to speaker of the Florida House of Representatives before reaching term limits last year.

♦ Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a Democrat who also served in the state Senate.

♦ Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, a Democrat who previously represented Broward County in the state House.

"Names emerging for 2018 governor’s race."

Crazies lead to secret GOP meetings

"Broward Republicans limit access in bid to improve image."

Lie down with dogs . . .

The GOP cheerleaders on the Tampa Trib editorial board complain that state Republican "lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would allow the holders of concealed weapons permits to carry their firearms on college campuses." "Leave college presidents in control of guns on campuses."

Moving on

"Familiar faces stayed in the Florida Senate in 2014 but that will change considerably over the next two years. Many of the new senators won’t be strangers to Tallahassee since plenty of them are veterans of the Florida House." "Many Florida House Reps. Want a Senate Move in 2016."

Scott to rely on "more property taxes from local school districts"

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott is moving ahead with a campaign promise to boost the amount of money going to the state's' public schools." But there's a hitch: "the increase would rely on more property taxes from local school districts." "Gov. Scott to propose more cash for public schools."

"FDP's Thorn"

Nancy Smith: "Leslie Wimes, FDP's Thorn, Should Be Its Rose."

"Legislators hold the cards"

"Florida’s budget outlook is so good that legislative leaders have suggested they may not renew a key provision of the gambling agreement — known as the compact — between the state and the Seminole Tribe. Or, they could be just bluffing." "Legislators hold the cards in new casino deal with Seminoles."

Bondi drops out sight

"Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has become the most visible supporter of the gay rights ban, dropped out of public view for much of the week, barring reporters from one inaugural celebration while skipping another event where they awaited her." "Attorney General Pam Bondi elusive as gay marriage becomes legal in Florida."

Castro completes deal; Rubio silent

"Cuba completes release of 53 political prisoners." See also "As part of deal with U.S., Cuba releases political prisoners."

Another day at the office

"Firefighters: Toddler survives fall from 3-story apartment."

New Medical MJ proposal

"The proposed amendment, submitted Thursday to the Florida Secretary of State’s office, closely resembles the 2014 initiative that narrowly failed at the ballot box — however it was rewritten throughout in an attempt to quiet critics who said it had too many loopholes." "Medical marijuana supporters unveil new proposal for 2016." See also "Pot back on the ballot?"

Where's Jeb!?

"In more than a dozen Florida cities, including St. Petersburg and Miami, Catholics this week will urge Gov. Rick Scott to commute the death sentence of a convicted murderer to life in prison without parole." "Florida Catholics plan prayer vigils with hope of blocking execution."