Sunday, June 28, 2015

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

"Rick Scott is a curious man"

Joe Henderson: "It’s a thing called payback."

“He promised that he would punish the constituents of those legislators who disagreed with him, and he kept his promise,” Okaloosa County Republican Sen. Don Gaetz told the News Service of Florida.

Scott gutted $15 million for a new downtown Orlando campus for the University of Central Florida, a project vital to Senate President Andy Gardiner, who opposed the governor on the issue of Medicaid expansion. He also vetoed $2 million Gardiner sought to improve water quality in Winter Park.

“It is unfortunate that the messaging strategy needed to achieve the governor’s political agenda comes at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our state,” Gardiner wrote in a statement.

Scott infuriated Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam by slicing $1.6 million budgeted to raise the salaries of workers who fight forest fires, while leaving raises for some other state workers in place. That includes, as Putnam wryly noted to reporters, “... the helpful people who take your driver’s license photo.”

Putnam, remember, publicly challenged how Scott handled the firing of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement head Gerald Bailey.

And don’t invite state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, to the same party as the governor.

“Thirteen sessions in the Florida Senate. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Latvala wrote on Twitter.

"Going after your own party when you’re going to need their help for the next three years is a curious strategy, but Rick Scott is a curious man." "Battle lines are drawn and Rick Scott drew first blood."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Not So Lazy Days of Summer."

Jeb's bad week

"Trump gains on Bush in New Hampshire among Republicans, poll finds." And he's shooting himself in the foot with this: "Jeb Bush rejects post-Charleston calls for stricter gun control laws."

Curbelo one of a handful of Republicans to applaud same-sex marriage decision

"In a swing district in South Florida, a freshman congressman and his Democratic challenger expressed support on Friday for the Supreme Court’s decision making same sex marriage the law of the land."

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., will be a top Democratic target in 2016 and the freshman congressman was one of a handful of congressional Republicans to applaud the decision. Along with U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who has been a key ally to his 2014 and 2016 efforts, Curbelo was one of the rare Florida Republicans who backed the ruling.

“I am pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality,” Curbelo said on Friday. “This decision illustrates a significant shift towards creating a more accepting and understanding future. This decision is a celebration of freedom and reaffirms the very rights in which our nation was founded.”

"Same Sex Marriage Not Much of a Dividing Line in South Florida Congressional Race."

Florida’s fight over uninsured continues

"The Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare reduces pressure on Florida lawmakers to create a state exchange." "Florida’s feud over the uninsured to continue after ruling."

"Miami journalists grovel before the entrenched power of the Cuban-American right"

Arturo Lopez Levy: "The Washington Post revealed what would have been old news if Miami journalists didn't grovel every day before the entrenched power of the Cuban-American right. In Florida, and especially in Miami, Rubio has twisted the truth for decades without anyone questioning him." "Why Senator Rubio's Lies Matter."

Expect "a 'ferocious and expensive' Republican primary" to replace Rubio

"Marco Rubio’s presidential aspirations are energizing the Florida political scene, sparking a scramble for his U.S. Senate seat that, in one analyst’s words, will produce a 'ferocious and expensive' Republican primary."

For now, things are relatively quiet on the Democratic side. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter has formally launched a campaign and is picking up some heavyweight endorsements — among them former Gov. Charlie Crist, former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Pam Keith, an attorney and former judge advocate in the U.S. Navy from North Palm Beach, also has filed on the Democratic side but is a political newcomer.

Others whose names have surfaced as possible Democratic candidates include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Florida House Minority Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando. . . .

Only U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach has declared he is a candidate on the Republican side, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami said he will make a campaign announcement July 15.

But the list of those considering joining the fray or being urged to is substantial.

It includes U.S. Reps. Curt Clawson of Bonita Springs, David Jolly of Indian Shores, John Mica of Winter Park, Jeff Miller of Chumuckla and Dennis Ross of Lakeland; former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker; State Sens. Anitere Flores of Miami and Don Gaetz of Niceville; former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos of Melbourne; former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV of Fort Myers; former Florida Attorney General and U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum of Longwood; and Commissioner of Agriculture and former U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow.

"Politicians lining up for Rubio’s seat." Related: "Lieutenant governor may fill calendar with Senate run."

Pay to play

"The Florida State Board of Trustees on Friday learned FSU scholarship athletes will start receiving $4,500 to $6,000 apiece annually, as part of the NCAA-allowed 'cost of attendance' stipend."

The athlete stipends were among the highlights of the trustees’ wide-ranging quarterly meeting at FSU’s Turnbull Center.
"FSU’s 457 athletes will be paid $4,500 to $6,000."