Sunday, April 05, 2015

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

"Jeb, the juggernaut that wasn’t"

"Three months into what allies once confidently described as a “shock and awe” drive to overcome his rivals and dominate the Republican presidential field, Jeb Bush’s early campaigning looks like the juggernaut that wasn’t."

But while Mr. Bush continues to position himself as Republicans’ best hope in the general election, recent polls show him performing no better against Hillary Rodham Clinton than Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin or Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. And he is well behind Mr. Walker in Iowa, which has made a habit of rejecting candidates seen as their party’s inevitable nominees.
"Mr. Bush’s intense focus on fund-raising has left him to contend with a donor class far more restive than in his brother’s day, before the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and other court rulings amplified the power of wealthy contributors.?
For example, Mr. Bush must navigate between the party base, which remains strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, and elite donors who have tried to steer the party to support it or leave the issue aside altogether.

In California last week, Mr. Bush told donors that he approved of a decision by Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana to seek changes to a new law billed as protecting religious freedom — just two days after Mr. Bush had firmly defended it on a conservative radio show.

Jewish donors also remain angry at Mr. Bush for a March 23 speech that Mr. Baker, who was secretary of state under Mr. Bush’s father, delivered to J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group. Mr. Adelson, perhaps the single largest Republican donor, quickly complained to Mel Sembler, a Florida developer who has long supported Mr. Bush. And Mr. Bush was pressed again about Mr. Baker’s speech at another California event last week.

"Bush as Inevitable Choice? Republicans Say Not So Fast."

"Legislators pay attention to powerful interests"

"With Florida lawmakers having reached the halfway point of their 60-day session last week, the lineup of legislation with traction looks like a Who’s Who of fundraising and lobbying heft."At midway point, Florida Legislators pay attention to powerful interests."

"Reveling in divisiveness and obstruction"

Scott Maxwell has discoved divisive GOPers: "House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, with the help of local Republicans such as Eric Eisnaugle, Scott Plakon, Jason Brodeur and most of the rest of the local delegation, has reveled in divisiveness and obstruction." "In Legislature, practical Republicans battle obstructionists."

Hopes of major overhaul for underfunded mental-health system fading fast

"With Florida legislators past the session's halfway mark, hopes that they'll agree on any sort of major overhaul for the state's overwhelmed, underfunded mental-health system are fading fast." "Mental-health reform languishing in Florida Legislature."

"Everglades Show Business"

Nancy Smith: "Buy the land, don't buy the land -- it's all pretend, all a big show and all for naught." "There's No Business Like Everglades Show Business."

FDLE's "misguided Magical Mystery Tour probe"

Carl Hiaasen writes that, when a blogger made fun of the "piddling $43 that an average Florida family supposedly would save annually from the governor’s proposed tax changes," and called it "'Gov. Scott’s Magical Mystery Tax Cut Calculator,'" adding "a line from the original Lennon-McCartney song: Coming to take you away, take you away...," somebody

at FDLE (an “analyst,” the agency said) eyeballed those words on Tilson’s blog and perceived a potential threat to the governor. Could somebody be plotting to take him away, take him away...?

Not since Charlie Manson got mesmerized by Helter Skelter has anyone twisted the words of a Beatles song so ludicrously — and Manson, let’s remember, is crazier than an outhouse rat.

Yet the FDLE, the top crime-busting force in Florida, detected possible ominous undertones in the lyrics of Magical Mystery Tour. An agent was promptly sent to interview Tilson. . . .

After Tilson wrote online about what happened, the FDLE hastily said the matter was closed. Its statement, in part: “Commissioner (Rick) Swearingen is reviewing the incident and believes FDLE could have better evaluated the post...”

You think?

Swearingen is new to the top job, having been hand-picked by Scott. The entire Cabinet is supposed to participate in the appointment process, but that’s not what really occurred.

The governor wanted to get rid of longtime FDLE chief Gerald Bailey and promote his buddy Swearingen, who was once in charge of Scott’s personal security detail. . . .

That landmark statute requires state government to be conducted in the open, a practice that cramps the covert style of Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and the other Cabinet members.

All their legal fees — possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars — will be covered by taxpayers. This newspaper and several major media outlets are among those suing to find out how Bailey got fired.

Meanwhile, Rick Swearingen has said he wasn’t named FDLE commissioner just to be “the governor’s boy,” and vows to walk away from the job if he’s asked to do anything unethical.

"Beatles’ lyrics inspire misguided FDLE probe."

Fair and balanced polling

Here's a summary by Real Clear Politics of the eight Bush v. Clinton polls released since late March: General Election: Bush vs. Clinton. An average of all eight polls has Clinton 7 points ahead of Jeb.

The only poll in this group that does not have Clinton in the lead is . . . you guessed it . . . a Fox poll, which has the race tied.

See "FOX News Poll: Examining Potential 2016 Matchups" and "Polls show Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton tied in 2016 matchup | On Air Videos."

More fair and balanced polling here: "Fox News Poll: More families feel worse than better as a result of ObamaCare."

Fox's poll was conducted by "Anderson Robbins Research (D) / Shaw & Company Research (R)." In that regard, you may be interested in 538's poll rankings.