Wednesday, January 07, 2015

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

Florida without political clout in DC

"Florida may now be the third-biggest state by population, and the presidential candidates in 2012 made certain Sunshine State residents knew what a significant role they play in national politics."

But that heft and goodwill doesn’t seem to have paid off in Washington. With the 114th Congress opening this week, just one member of the Florida congressional delegation holds a coveted committee chairmanship and no one from the Sunshine State is in the president’s inner circle.

“It has bothered me since I got here,” said Rep. Dennis Ross, a three-term Republican from Lakeland. “Florida should be leading the charge instead of being in the rear with only one committee chairman. We’ve got a great delegation. We’ve got good people. But we’ve got to assert ourselves more in leadership roles.”

Assignments to 21 House and 20 Senate committees are still being settled in Washington, but members of the local delegation say they’ve been advised where they’ll land in 2015. The process is critical to what legislation is pursued, where tax dollars flow, and to political careers.

"Political clout missing as Florida’s population rank rises."

"Jeb!" declares "The Right to Rise"

"Jeb PAC: Right to Rise." See also "Jeb Bush Takes Big Step Toward 2016 With Leadership PAC."

Well, Joe, there was this Batista thing

Joe Henderson "can’t imagine what it was like to be in Cuba when Fidel Castro seized power, and if you didn’t live through it, you can’t either."

Yoho's pandering to his political base is not an act of courage

The Gainesville Sun editorial board: "U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho needs to stop acting like pandering to his political base is an act of courage."

Yoho, R-Gainesville, has settled into a bad habit as he starts his second term in Congress. He regularly says outlandish statements or takes symbolic actions that grab headlines, but do little for the well-being of his constituents.

The latest example is Yoho’s quixotic bid to be speaker of the House. That effort fell predictably short Tuesday when John Boehner, R-Ohio, handily won the speakership.

"House speaker."

Florida concerns in the new Congress

"Political clashes over immigration and Cuba have thrust Florida concerns to the forefront of the 114th session of Congress, which opened on Tuesday with festive swearing-in ceremonies mixed with signs of infighting to come." "Florida concerns at forefront in new Congress."

"This is, unfortunately, the Florida way"

Scott Maxwell: "Florida was dragged kicking and screaming into an age of equality."

The drawn-out delay was thanks to Attorney General Pam Bondi, a constitutional amendment and most every governor this state has ever had ... including Charlie Crist.

This is, unfortunately, the Florida way. We were also one of the last two states in America with a ban on gay adoption.

The adoption ban finally fell when courts found that no one could provide a single legitimate reason to deny foster children a home with loving gay parents. (The state's supposed anti-gay "expert" turned out to be a quack who was later found traveling with a gay hooker.)

The state tried to grasp at straws of legal nonsense with gay marriage, too.

At one point, Bondi tried to argue that marriage was meant only for couples who planned to breed and provide "enduring family relationships" ... an odd stance for a woman who is twice divorced with no kids of her own.

Still Bondi fought and fought. She was part Anita Bryant, part George Wallace — trying to put a pretty face on discrimination while blocking the doorway to equality. And to the 21st century.

Bondi claimed she was obligated to defend this constitutional amendment. Interestingly, she felt no such obligation to defend the Fair Districts amendment against gerrymandering. She let legislators run roughshod over that.

The courts shredded Bondi's anti-gay arguments — the same way judges of all political stripes have shredded similar arguments in other states.

"Florida fought equality every step of way."

That and spending millions of his personal fortune . . .

The Tampa Trib editors: "It was no surprise that Gov. Rick Scott’s second inaugural address Tuesday focused on cutting taxes and creating jobs. After all, the governor was re-elected largely due to his commitment to bringing new jobs and enterprises to Florida." "Scott stays on track," "Florida's Leaders React to Rick Scott Starting a 2nd Term," "Inaugural Guests Came to Say 'Thank You, Rick Scott; Well Done'," and "Gov. Rick Scott wants Florida to be ‘global leader in job creation’."

"Scott urges Northerners to move here"

"Scott takes oath of office, urges Northerners to move here."

Prisoner release remains a mystery

"The Cuban government has promised to release 53 political prisoners but which names are on the list and exactly how many prisoners have been released remain a mystery." Human rights activists search for signs of Cuban prisoner release."

"Rick Scott Shows No Signs of Slowing Down." See also "A more seasoned Scott settles in for second term."