Sunday, November 22, 2015

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider "Liking" us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Scott remains one of the least popular governors in the nation"

"A year after winning re-election Gov. Rick Scott remains one of the least popular governors in the nation. According to a Morning Consult poll released Friday, 44 percent of respondents approve of Scott’s performance and 47 percent disapprove. The survey comes a little over a month before the start of the 2016 Legislative Session."

Scott leads a Republican Party firmly in control of state government but sharp divisions have emerged between the House and Senate on issues like health care and taxation while the two chambers have also waged a three-year battle over redistricting. Three legislative sessions descended into chaos during 2015, delaying passage of a state budget and resolution of two lawsuits over the redistricting maps lawmakers approved three years ago.
"Political observers say Scott’s low public standing does not help the situation."

Scott is the eighth least popular governor in the nation. The list is led by Kansas’s Sam Brownback whose performance is met with approval by 26 percent of Kansan voters. Also less popular than Scott is Connecticut’s Dan Malloy at 36 percent, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Maine’s Paul LePage, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bruce Rauner of Illinois, who has approval of 40 percent of Illini voters. . . .

The surveyed included 5,886 Floridians and has a margin of error of 1.3 percent.

"Rick Scott, America's eighth least popular Governor."

Contractors quick to object to corruption bill

Matt Reed: "Quick to object were the road contractors. Tougher still were some misinformed representatives." "Corruption bill meets capitol critics."

Map quest

"Just when we thought the state redistricting process couldn’t get any more fouled up, the judge trying to sort out the mess last week received yet another version of the map that draws election districts for the Florida Senate." "Map quest demands unbiased panel."

"Its bark is its bite"

Bill Cotterell: "Suppose you were looking for a watch dog."

The one thing that you’re sure not going to do is, you’re not going to want any dog that might bite you. That is, you’d want something like the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The Ethics Commission is neither lap dog nor pit bull. Its bark, however, is not worse that its bite; its bark is its bite.

And state legislators like it that way.

"Let the reliable ethics watchdog choose whom to investigate."

About Jeb

Here’s how the GOP race stands nationally:

Trump remains in the top spot with a record 28 percent support from Republican primary voters. He was at 26 percent in the last Fox poll, which was completed before the last debate and the Paris attacks (November 1-3, 2015).

Carson drops from 23 percent to 18 percent in the new poll. Cruz and Rubio are both up three points and garner 14 percent each.

All others are in the low single digits: Jeb Bush gets 5 percent, while Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee each get 3 percent. John Kasich and Rand Paul receive 2 percent a piece.

"FOX News Poll."

A Suffolk University/Boston Globe Poll released Sunday: "In the wake of the Paris attacks, terrorism has become the top issue among Republican voters in New Hampshire, and Donald Trump has maintained a 2 to 1 lead over a crowded field of competitors. . . . Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who led the Suffolk New Hampshire poll taken in June, is now sixth, at 8%." "N.H. GOP poll: Terrorism the top issue, Trump the leader."

Uninformed slackers "a sleeping giant"

In The Tampa Bay Times today, a slacker valiantly asserts the right to remain uninformed:

"I reserve my right to register to vote. But I won't be forced to make an uninformed decision."
Really? This person reserves the right to remain "uninformed," and let others - uninformed or otherwise - make decisions for her? Steve Bousquet explains: "The letters are NPA. It's short for no party affiliation, for voters who refuse to label themselves Republicans or Democrats because they do not identify with either party."
They are deserting the two major parties in droves, mostly in South Florida and in greater Orlando, and many are young and Hispanic.

Far outpacing both parties, they are the fastest-growing segment of Florida's electorate, but they are a sleeping giant.

Many of them don't vote, and some are so turned off by the negative tone and extreme partisanship of politics that they have no interest in voting.

"More than one of every five no-party voters in Florida is listed as Hispanic. The actual figure is probably much higher because voters do not have to list race or ethnicity on a registration form, and many don't."
The 3.2 million people who avoid both major parties now are 27 percent of all Florida voters as Republicans and Democrats continue to lose political ground in America's biggest battleground state.

Two decades ago, 47 percent of Florida voters were Democrats and 41 percent were Republicans.

When NPAs are combined with a much smaller pool of minor-party voters, they outnumber Republicans in the three most populous counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, along with Orange and Osceola on the I-4 corridor in Central Florida. They eclipse Democrats in seven counties: Clay, Collier, Lee, Martin, Okaloosa, St. Johns and Santa Rosa.

"As they track the explosive growth in NPA voters, political experts in both parties are troubled by the implications."
One reason is that Florida is a "closed primary" state where only Republicans and Democrats can vote in most party primary contests, including a presidential preference primary next March 15. As a result, NPA voters find themselves walled off from the political system, effectively disenfranchised in primary elections.

"A group that is already passive has even less incentive to vote," said Matthew Isbell, a Democratic political consultant. . . .

In Florida, all voters can vote in a primary if only one party has candidates, but a persistent loophole allows a write-in candidate on the ballot to "close" a primary, again shutting out NPA voters.

Much more here: "Dramatic rise of renegade 'no party' voters is reshaping state politics."

Latvala says "no"

"Latvala: No need for independent redistricting commission."

"The last thing Florida needs"

The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Opening the door to more abuses of the state’s 'stand your ground' law is the last thing Florida needs."

Yet that didn’t stop a number of state lawmakers and the National Rifle Association from backing bills that would make it easier for defendants to invoke the law when trying to avoid prosecution for deadly shootings.
"Thankfully, the measure failed to pass in a 6-6 vote during a House committee meeting last week. But it passed 5-1 in a subsequent Senate committee meeting, keeping its chances alive for the session that starts in January."
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer reacted to the House committee’s vote with typical outrage.

She suggested a Republican lawmaker who voted against the bill, Carlos Trujillo, a former prosecutor from Miami and chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, shouldn’t be in the Legislature because his experiences color his judgment on “stand your ground.”

Actually, Hammer has it backward.

"Fix, don’t expand, ‘stand your ground’."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: High Noon at the Capitol Corral."