Saturday, February 06, 2016

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

Jeb! Dead Enders are sticking with him

"Most of the state’s GOP lawmakers endorsed former Gov. Jeb Bush back when he was being touted as the odds-on favorite to gain their party’s White House nomination. And they are sticking with him now, even as the odds for his flagging campaign grow longer."

Some Bush stalwarts in Florida appear to be starting to hedge their bets in the wake of Rubio’s Iowa finish. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican from Indian Shores, south of Clearwater, speaks highly of Rubio as he recalls his election to the U.S. Senate in 2000. . . .

Yet Jolly is in the Bush camp for now, though not adamantly. “I still hope Jeb’s our nominee,” he said, before adding “but we would be a fortunate nation to have Marco as our president.”

"It’s hard to gauge whether others might be struggling with their early endorsement of Bush. Most of Bush’s Florida congressional backers declined to make themselves available for questions."
Among the 11 Republican lawmakers who’ve endorsed Bush for president, aides to two – Reps. Dennis Ross of Lakeland and Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville – did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Aides to four other Bush backers said their bosses were too busy to talk.

“Unfortunately, the congressman isn’t available to chat today,” said Nicole Rapanos, a spokeswoman for Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Kendall. “Feel free to reach out for future requests!”

Rep. Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key was similarly unavailable. “I'll try to get him to call you, but it may be difficult,” his spokeswoman, Gretchen Andersen, said Wednesday. Asked for an update Thursday, Andersen responded: “We’re going to take a pass on this right now. Thanks for reaching out!”

Dan McFaul, a spokesman for Rep. Jeff Miller of Chumuckla in the Panhandle near the Alabama line, said Wednesday he’d try to get hold of Miller but cautioned “it might be tough. Perhaps another day?” Thursday, McFaul did not respond to repeated requests.

Rep. Ted Yoho, a tea party enthusiast from Gainesville, said he was disappointed that his preferred candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, had dropped out after Iowa. Neither Floridian in the race will draw his support, he said. Bush is part of the Republican establishment, which Yoho wants to shake up, and Rubio doesn’t have enough experience outside politics, Yoho said. “I see Ted Cruz standing for the things that I believe in,” Yoho said of the senator from Texas. “He feels the way I feel, that we’re in a constitutional crisis. In his arguments [as a lawyer] before the Supreme Court, he fought for core conservative principles and defended the Constitution.”

Told that it sounded as if he were endorsing Cruz’s White House run, Yoho responded: “I wouldn’t dispute that"

"Floridians in Washington stick with Jeb Bush despite Marco Rubio’s surge."

Rubio whines about "sanctuary cities," except his own

"Miami's two Republican presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both get applause when they campaign against federal funding for so-called 'sanctuary cities,' where local law-enforcement agencies limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. But advocates consider their home county of Miami-Dade to be such a sanctuary." "Jeb Bush says Miami isn't the same kind of 'sanctuary city' as San Francisco."

FlaGOP "Bill gives Rick Scott military power over 'invaders'"

"Gov. Rick Scott would be able to use military power to keep immigrants or refugees from entering Florida if they are from or have been near countries where "invaders" live or train if a bill a House committee approved Wednesday becomes law."

The Prevention of Acts of War bill would let the governor declare that certain immigrants and refugees are "restricted people" if he determines they are from countries where he believes invaders want to come to the United States to attack people or property.
"HB 1095 would prohibit any state or local government employee or any person receiving state assistance of any kind, including Medicare, from helping immigrants or refugees entering or resettling in Florida unless the immigrants were born in the Western Hemisphere. Anyone assisting a restricted person would have to turn that person's personal information over to the state. The state would be allowed to monitor restricted people."
It was approved on a 9-4 vote with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. Instead of a simple "yes," Republican Rep. Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights cast his vote with an emphatic "Absolutely."
"Bill gives governor military power over 'invaders'."

More: "Florida bill would allow military force."

What's wrong with Hillsborough?

"Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn issued a statement Wednesday decrying the possibility of a meeting in Tampa organized by controversial 'neomasculinity' blogger Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh through the website Return of Kings." "Anti-feminist Return of Kings group has no place in Tampa, Buckhorn says."

"What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "Will old scandal hurt Garcia’s new run? – FL’s Zika state of emergency – Rubio edges Bush in endorsements – Militarizing immigration fights – Hide your goats, Caryville." "Florida Playbook."

"A preview of next governor’s race?"

Joe Henderson: "there they were, Putnam and Scott, sharing smiles and compliments from the [Florida State Fair' annual Governor’s Day Luncheon] dais Thursday, even as Putnam wryly cracked, 'Last year’s luncheon for some strange reason ran late.'"

Putnam is much at ease in front of a microphone while Scott still seems stiff, like someone starched his undershirt with super glue. And since he might (cough, cough) be running to replace Scott in 2018, the contrast is notable.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was also on the stage, receiving plaudits from the governor but no time at the microphone. Buckhorn will be scurrying off to New Hampshire today to campaign for Hillary Clinton and, gee, wonder why?

On the off chance (cough, cough) Buckhorn wades into the 2018 governor’s race, today’s trip will be a marker he can call in from the Democratic National Committee — especially if Hillary is elected president.

To be fair, there is a fair amount of skepticism whether Buckhorn will get in the race. It will be tough to win, especially if Putnam is the opponent.

"Was head table at state fair luncheon a preview of next governor’s race?."

Marco-mentum may be dragged down by Jeb's failing candidacy

Vanity Fair: "One of the biggest wild cards for Rubio, ironically, remains the fatally staid Jeb Bush."

The former Florida governor and his super-PACs have spent tens of millions of dollars on anti-Rubio ads, a largely ineffective strategy that has nonetheless been a boon for Cruz and Trump. Despite his collapsing poll numbers and a sixth-place finish in Iowa, Bush still has a massive war chest and a larger super-PAC, Right to Rise, which is expected to continue spending its money even as donors repeatedly signal that they would rather their own doomed candidate quit than bloody Rubio further. But if Bush himself is considering an early exit, his campaign is showing no signs: an internal memo leaked to Politico indicated that Bush plans to focus on South Carolina and Nevada, where he has a stronger ground operation and an advantage among Hispanic voters, and hopefully survive to face Rubio in their home state of Florida.

This is a scenario that the Rubio campaign wants to avoid, making the next two weeks crucial. Now that they need to plan for a three-way slugfest, no one wants the Marco-mentum to be dragged down by a candidacy in its death throes.

"How Jeb Bush Could Derail Marco Rubio."

Meanwhile, "Hoping for the Silver in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio Can Expect to Feel the Heat in Saturday's Debate."

Budget blues

"Budget bills presage fight over Planned Parenthood funding."

Guns, guns . . . guns on the roof

"House overwhelmingly approves open carry gun bill."

Florida's Media Poodles Taking Jeb's Failure Hard

Alex Leary: "'Jeb Bush is a college professor in a used car salesman’s election'."

A "college professor," really? To the contrary, Jeb's success in Florida suggests the Florida electorate that elected Jeb! - and the media poodles who adored him - were something lesser than "used car salesmen."

"What’s the Point of Jeb Bush?"

"What’s the Point of Jeb Bush Now?

Old scandals in new bottles

"Democrat Joe Garcia, who lost his 2014 congressional re-election bid amid two scandals tied to a former aide, has decided to run for his old seat against a one-time friend, Annette Taddeo. Garcia’s announcement for Florida’s 26th Congressional District prompted swift criticism from Republicans and some Democrats who said the fraud case that played into his election loss two years ago will haunt his effort." "Garcia seeking congressional comeback, but old scandal could hurt."

Death politics

"With executions indefinitely on hold in Florida, lawmakers hurriedly are considering legislation to address a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the state’s capital sentencing law as unconstitutional. The House and Senate are divided on how far the changes should go." "Senate seeks unanimous juries in death sentences."

Scott benefits from Obamanomics

"National Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 2008."

Endorsement snafu

Nancy Smith writes that, "At least two of three Florida City commissioners claim they did not endorse CD 26 candidate Annette Taddeo -- or any candidate -- even though Taddeo's campaign issued a press release in English and Spanish saying they did."

Commissioner Avis Brown and Vice Mayor Sharon Butler told friends, in fact specifically sought out friends to say they attended a Taddeo event, even had their pictures taken with the Democratic candidate vying with Joe Garcia to challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Carlos Curbelo. But they had no idea in so doing they were giving permission for an endorsement.
"Did Annette Taddeo Campaign 'Phony Up' These Endorsements?."

More from Ms. Smith: "The Annette Taddeo Ultimatum."

Ross would censure the President

Climate change denier, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., "filed a resolution censuring President Barack Obama over his failure to implement the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act." "Dennis Ross Files Censure Against Obama Over Visa Waivers for Iran."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Hot Button Issues and Budgets."

Poodles in love

Carl Hiaasen, yet another chatterer who bought into Florida's poodle-press' Jeb-worship: the talented Hiaasen blabs that "A year ago this scenario was unimaginable. He had more money, more brains, more connections and more governing experience than any other Republican wanting to be president. Like many people, I thought his nomination would be a slam dunk."

Really, Carl? Jeb has "more brains" than, say . . . fellow GOPer Ted Cruz, who graduated cum laude from Princeton University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School? Jeb's hold over the Florida's media never ceases to amaze.

Jeb's fall was obvious - the moment someone looked at this man in the cold light of day - something most of Florida's media was and remains incapable of doing (because they, after all, wanted one of their own in the presidential fray . . . and perhaps an opportunity to ride on the big bus with the real journalists). Hiaasen continues:

Jeb hasn’t made any huge, embarrassing blunders on the campaign trail. He’s not obnoxious or unlikable. True, he’s not an electrifying personality, but in most election cycles that wouldn’t disqualify him.

Obviously, he misjudged the depth of the anger and division within his own party. He isn’t the only candidate to get caught off guard.

But he is the only Bush on the ballot, and that’s probably hurt him more than it has helped. Jeb isn’t the one who invaded Iraq and basically exploded the Mideast. He isn’t the one who jacked up the deficit with war spending, then left the U.S. economy teetering on a cliff.

That was his brother, but seven years later lots of voters haven’t forgotten. Before committing to Jeb, they need to be convinced that he’s way different from George W., that he’s wiser and more careful, and that he doesn’t have a Dick Cheney blow-up doll riding shotgun.

Hiaasen seems to lament that
there is no sign of a grass-roots pro-Jeb frenzy. The fact he was Florida’s governor for two terms isn’t wowing the masses — even in Florida.

Polls here show Jeb trailing Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. He is only slightly ahead of the sleepwalking Ben Carson.

Hiaasen wonders, "How is this possible?"

Well, the better question is "why would anybody want to vote for President Jeb?" Florida has had enough of "King Jeb," and Republican primary voters apparently feel the same way.

Hiaasen closes, however, with something most Floridians can agree on - Marco Rubio:

Here’s a guy who has accomplished zero in the Senate, flip-flops when he feels the heat and can’t even manage his own credit cards. How is he beating an old pro like Jeb?

By successfully casting himself as a fresh and electable alternative. Rubio’s only got one speech, but he’s good at it. Ironically, he grew up to be slicker and more calculating than his mentor.

"When the applause dies for Jeb Bush."