Sunday, August 23, 2015

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

Possibly "the most pathetic year in the history of Florida politics"

John Romano believes that there is "the distinct possibility that we may soon be able to proclaim 2015 as the most pathetic year in the history of Florida politics."

After all, this is a state that single-handedly held up a presidential election in 2000. It bungled the 1876 presidential election, too. For crying out loud, this is a state that elected Rick Scott as governor. Twice!

Considering such an inglorious history, how could 2015 possibly be in the running as the worst of the bunch?

"Simple. It is the consistent stupidity. The relentless undermining and backstabbing. It is the utter dedication to self-interest in the guise of public service. Truly, it has been a remarkable eight-month run in Tallahassee. Scandal followed by embarrassment followed by ineptness. And all of it without a hint of shame or remorse." Some of his many observations include the following:
[1] We began with a bang in early January when Scott kept insisting that Florida Department of Law Enforcement chief Gerald Bailey had resigned a month earlier. Turns out, that was a crock. Bailey told the Tampa Bay Times that he had refused to politicize investigations at the behest of the governor's office, and Scott later sent a henchman to force him to resign or be fired.

The problem with that scenario is the governor doesn't have that power. He needed someone from the Cabinet to sign off on it. Except Cabinet members were under the impression, fostered by Scott, that Bailey was resigning on his own.

So the governor lied to cover up the fact he was defying the Constitution to fire a law enforcement official who was guilty of having too much integrity. . . .

[2] The state House followed by ending the legislative session early — technically, another constitutional no-no — because it refused to accept billions of dollars in federal money so poverty-level residents could buy private health insurance. . . .

[3] As if one special session weren't enough, the state Supreme Court sent legislators back to Tallahassee this month to redraw congressional maps that had been influenced by political consultants in violation of the Constitution. Noticing a trend here? . . .

[4] Then there was Attorney General Pam Bondi refusing to back off a same-sex marriage lawsuit that even a first-year law student knew was a loser. . . .

[5] Finally, there is the governor sticking taxpayers with a $700,000 bill because he got caught violating the state's open government laws.

Much more here: "2015 in the running for most pathetic year in Florida politics history."

"Bush is abruptly shifting strategy"

"Bush is abruptly shifting strategy, going after Trump head-on and repeatedly launching some of his toughest shots yet at Trump over the past few days."

It's a risky strategy — dueling with Trump has only plunged candidates like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Some Republican strategists consider it necessary for Bush, the candidate who has yet to dominate in the way many thought he could and would, to light a spark in his campaign. He trails Trump by double digits in national polls and in New Hampshire. And in the Granite State, he's getting squeezed by candidates like Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R).

"Jeb Bush is drastically changing his strategy for dealing with Donald Trump — and it could have significant ramifications." See also "Jeb Bush has finally decided to firebomb Donald Trump."

"An insult to everyone’s intelligence"

The Gainesville Sun editors: "A bonus intended to reward the brightest teachers is an insult to everyone’s intelligence. The program rewards teachers who received top ACT or SAT scores — tests that most took as high school students. It has sent teachers on a scramble to find their scores, in some cases from decades ago, to qualify for bonuses of up to $10,000." "Teacher bonus not a bright idea."

Swells speak

"Florida Insiders say Trump's candidacy will last until Florida primary in March and Jeb Bush will win it."

"Jeb Goes Full Dolezal?"

This is a laff riot: "Is it getting this bad? Flailing in the polls and struggling to find a rationale for his candidacy, is Jeb Bush suggesting he may be black?" "Desperate Jeb Goes Full Dolezal?" See also "Jeb Bush super PAC admits to Photoshop 'fail' in mailer to 86,000 Iowans after one of candidate's hands appeared to be someone else's." This isn't the first time Jebbie has been associated with a campaign misprint: "Fate of 25,000 Votes in Seminole and Martin Counties Is Now in Judges' Hands ("The Seminole and Martin cases stem from an unusual get-out-the-vote effort and a printer's error.")"

"Epic failure"

"The epic failure of the Florida House and Senate to agree on a new congressional district map last week isn’t bad news for Palm Beach County." "Legislature’s redistricting failure may be good for Palm Beach County."

"Lawmakers arrogantly ignored voters"

The Tampa Trib editors: "The group that successfully pushed the constitutional amendment mandating land conservation is restructuring itself into a political action group that can work on individual elections, and we hope it is successful in holding lawmakers accountable for their betrayal of Florida voters."

"[L]awmakers arrogantly ignored voters, using Amendment 1 dollars to fund salaries and other ongoing expenses, instead of bolstering land preservation. It was a shameful episode and one that underscored how lawmakers, mostly in safely drawn districts, feel little responsibility to voters." "Holding arrogant lawmakers responsible for failing to deliver on Amendment 1."

Jeb burnishes his extremist bona fides

"Newcomer to Koch scene, Jeb Bush competes for tea party support."