Friday, August 21, 2015

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

Redistricting deadline looms

"While a legislative impasse is hardly new in the recent political dynamics of the House and the Senate, the latest breakdown is complicated by the fact that they are under a Florida Supreme Court order to draw new districts because the last two attempts failed to produce a constitutionally sound map."

What happens if they don’t hit their noon Friday deadline to pass identical redistricting maps? Even legislative leaders are uncertain about the next step. “I don’t know the actual legal procedures from that point, but I’m sure I’ll be briefed on that at some point knowing that we are where we are today,” House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said moments after the House rejected a Senate plan that would have put all of eastern Hillsborough County — about 520,000 people — into one congressional district, instead of being split into three as they are now.
"Instead, the House forwarded a new proposal that is nearly identical to the base map both chambers started with two weeks ago, but with a few “nip and tucks,” as Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, called them."
“I can tell you that the Senate is not prepared to back away from these changes,” Galvano told Oliva in a face-to-face meeting after the House rejected the Senate plan.

But Oliva said the Senate plan had “inconsistent methodology” because in an effort to reduce splits to Hillsborough, they cut Lake County further into three districts.

The day’s result is that the Senate is prepared to meet again at 9 a.m. Friday with a clear choice: Pass the House plan and everyone goes home, or stick to the Senate plan and risk hitting noon without a deal.

Crisafulli refused to characterize the latest political divisions as a continuation of bad blood from previous conflicts with the Senate this year. In April, the House walked out on the Senate in the closing days of the annual session over a health care spending divide. In June, the two chambers battled in a special session to pass a budget before a July 1 deadline.

“I would never bring forward disagreements from the past,” Crisafulli said. “As a business person, I always know that when you’re trying to find common ground and compromise, the compromise is generally when both sides can consider a win and walk away with a good conclusion. I believe that what we’ve done is found good compromise out of the House, and hopefully the Senate can see that.”

"Legislature at impasse over how to draw Florida’s congressional districts." More: "Get ready for redistricting drama" and "Clashing cartogrophy: House rejects Senate's congressional maps." See also "Clashing cartogrophy: House rejects Senate's congressional maps," "Hillsborough at issue in failure to finalize U.S. House map" and "Map of Miami congressional district is still a problem, voting groups warn."

Gary Fineout writes that, "as the session reaches its conclusion - with the anticipation that a final deal on a map will be reached in the next day and a half - a big parlor game for those in Florida politics is what's going to happen to U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham." "A Democratic casualty of the court and redistricting remains upbeat about her future."

"Is a politically unbiased map possible for Florida?"

John Romano: "They got caught cheating over redistricting, and now they’re pouting." "Sorry? Our lawmakers don’t seem to know the word."

Southern Strategy

"The lobbying firm Southern Strategy Group on Friday reported collecting at least $1 million for representing legislative clients from April 1 to June 30, according to a state website. Lobbying firms were required to post quarterly compensation reports by a Friday deadline. Southern Strategy reported income from dozens of clients, including $72,000 from Costa Farms, LLC, and $62,000 from The Vestcor Companies, Inc." "Southern Strategy lobbying firm collected $1M in second quarter."

"High-profile Democratic primary"

"A day after former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings announced her candidacy for Congress in Florida's 10th Congressional District, state Sen. Geraldine Thompson said she will enter the same race -- creating a high-profile Democratic primary." "Geraldine Thompson plans congressional bid." See also "Val Demings to run for Congress."

Q Poll

"Clinton has 48 percent of Florida Democrats, followed by 15 percent for Sanders and 11 percent for Biden, with 17 percent undecided."

Among Republicans, Trump gets 21 percent, with 17 percent for Bush and 11 percent each for Rubio and Ben Carson. No other candidate tops 7 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
"In general election matchups in Florida:"
Bush tops Clinton 49 - 38 percent and Rubio leads 51 - 39 percent while Trump gets 43 percent to Clinton's 41 percent.

Bush leads Biden 51 - 38 percent, with Rubio up 48 - 42 percent. Biden gets 45 percent to Trump's 42 percent.

Sanders trails Bush 54 - 35 percent and loses 52 - 36 percent to Rubio and 45 - 41 percent to Trump.

Clinton gets a negative 37 - 55 percent favorability rating and voters say 64 - 32 percent she is not honest and trustworthy. Biden gets a split 44 - 43 percent favorability rating and voters say 52 - 40 percent he is honest and trustworthy.

Trump gets a negative 36 - 50 percent favorability rating and voters say 53 - 39 percent he is not honest and trustworthy. Bush gets a 53 - 39 percent favorability and voters say 64 - 28 percent he is honest and trustworthy. Rubio gets a 52 - 35 percent favorability and voters say 58 - 30 percent he is honest and trustworthy.

"In the battle of Floridians, former Gov. Jeb Bush is holding off U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and the former mentor to Rubio scores higher when voters rate the two men's personal qualities," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said.

"Biden Tops Trump In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll Finds."

"Donald Trump surges; Hillary Clinton slips in Florida."

"Scott picks the public’s pockets"

Carl Hiaasen: " Gov. Scott picks the public’s pockets."

Once you get to know him . . .

"Rubio's slow start in Iowa, New Hampshire puzzles GOP."

Medical pot getting closer

"United For Care, the political action committee trying to pass medical marijuana in Florida, says it's getting closer and closer to getting RX pot back on the ballot in 2016." "United for Care: We're Getting Closer to Putting Medical Pot on 2016 Ballot."

Behind the curtains

"Senate leaders crafting new districts for the chamber in 2012 held confidential meetings to discuss maps with lawmakers before the maps were made public, while at the same time boasting about "the most open and transparent redistricting process in Florida's history," according to court documents."

Depositions and other evidence in a long-running lawsuit about the Senate districts were released this week, at the same time that lawmakers are holding a special session to redraw congressional lines that were struck down as unconstitutional gerrymanders by the Florida Supreme Court.

The Senate has essentially admitted that its districts also violate the "Fair Districts" standards approved by voters in 2010, and the Legislature will return to overhaul that map in a special session beginning in October. In response to a Miami Herald-Tampa Bay Times story on the documents published Thursday, Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said that admission was only made because of the court's earlier ruling on the congressional districts.

"Documents Show Private Discussions in Senate Redistricting."

Scott's publicity stunt ends

"Gov. Scott reopens National Guard recruitment centers."

Wingers pile on

"State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister endorsed Tallahassee attorney Mary Thomas for Congress on Thursday. Siegmeister noted they were both members of the Federalist Society, a group of conservative attorneys. Thomas is running for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla." "Mary Thomas Gets Support from Conservative State Attorney."

Jeb! just as extreme as the rest of GOP field

"While Kasich and Bush certainly took a more measured tone in the first Republican debate compared to, say, Donald Trump, their policy positions and records as governor in Ohio and Florida show that they're just as extreme and far-right as the rest of the Republican field." "Kasich and Bush: More Like Other Extreme GOP Candidates Than Perceived."

"Revenue on the Rise"

"With General Revenue (GR) estimates now raised an additional $657.5 million for the next state budget, Florida TaxWatch noted this was a sign the economy is doing better." "Florida TaxWatch: Revenue on the Rise as Economy Improves."

"Jeb Bush Gets 'F'"

"Recent criticism (especially from the GOP) has caused many primary nominees to avoid the prickly barbs of Common Core." "Jeb Bush Gets 'F' on Common Core Report Card."