Friday, March 25, 2016

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

Scott Signs Anti-Choice Bill

"Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a sweeping abortion bill into law that attempts to limit funding for Planned Parenthood, bans the sale, purchase, donation or transfer of fetal remains obtained through an abortion and requires physicians to have admitting and transfer privileges." "Scott signs abortion bill." See also "Gov. Rick Scott signs abortion restrictions bill into law."

Seven Florida Counties Go GOP

Nancy Smith: "Donald Trump apparently has done more than energize just the Republican base. He may be helping to nudge angry Democrats to the right, in Florida anyway. . . . The seven counties include Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Hardee, Holmes, Pinellas and Washington." "Republicans Rejoice: Seven Florida Counties Flip to GOP."

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

Marc Caputo: "Corrine’s problems deepen – why’d Jeb back Ted? – Cuba differences emerge in Senate race – Scott dings Obama." "Florida Playbook."

Grayson-haters spinning on their heads

It is no secret that the Tribune company uses its media holdings to spread its right wing agenda. The latest borders on comedy: "Grayson had investments with a number of companies that did business in Middle Eastern and African countries that Grayson visited in 2009 and 2010."

They include telecom companies that operated in sub-Saharan Africa and Pakistan and oil companies involved in drilling and pipelines in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
"Grayson investments tied to official travel? He says no."

Hacking HMOs

"Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Thursday a bill that carves dental services out from the list of mandated benefits that HMOs must provide the poor and directs an arm of the Legislature to study the effectiveness of the dental care the HMOs provide." "Scott signs dental carve-out bill into law, with a caveat."

Good luck whining about this, Marco

"The Rolling Stones are in Havana for a free concert in the communist country where its music was once silenced." "Rolling Stones in Cuba for historic concert in Havana."

DOJ asks House Committee to defer Brown Investigation

"The Department of Justice is investigating fraud-related allegations that have also netted Jacksonville Democrat Corrine Brown an ethics investigation in the House of Representatives, a rare combination that has in the past landed members of Congress behind bars."

The House Ethics Committee on Wednesday announced it was creating a subcommittee to investigate whether Brown, among other things, conspired to commit “fraudulent activities,” improperly solicited charitable donations, or misused campaign contributions.

In a release from the committee announcing the subcommittee had been created, DOJ’s involvement was clear: “Department of Justice has asked the Committee to defer consideration of the matters in the investigative subcommittee’s jurisdiction.”

"Department of Justice request deepens worries for Corrine Brown."

See also "Corrine Brown: 'I'm clean' of wrongdoing."

Weak GOP bench

"In a survey conducted this month by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, a whopping 65.1 percent of likely Republican voters said they don't know who they will vote for in their party's U.S. Senate primary. Likely voters on the Democratic side are only a bit more decisive, with 54.6 percent saying they're unsure."

Among GOP voters who have made up their minds, Congressman Ron DeSantis leads with 11.1 percent, followed by Congressman David Jolly with 10.1 percent. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera checked in at 7.4 percent, businessman Todd Wilcox had 3.2 percent and Ilya Katz was at 2.1 percent. Home builder Carlos Beruff, who recently entered the race, wasn't included. . . . A few caveats: First, the sample size on each party's likely voter pool was relatively small. Saint Leo polled just 189 likely GOP voters and 216 likely Democratic voters.
"Backroom Briefing: Ron Who? (And David Who? And ... )."

Meanwhile, "Lois Frankel: Patrick Murphy Can Help Flip the Senate."

Scott takes credit for merely Being There

"Unemployment Rate Dips to 4.9 Percent." See also "ersonal income grew 5.2 percent in Florida in 2015, outpacing the national rate of 4.4 percent, but the state remained well behind the rest of the country in per capita personal income, ranking 28th at $44,101. - See more at:"

FlaGOP in a dither

"Already one of the leading Republican critics of businessman Donald Trump, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., did not rule out voting for former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton over the GOP frontrunner in November." "Curbelo Won't Vote for Trump, Could Vote for Clinton."

FlaGOP living in the past

"The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) threw its support behind a proposal from a Florida congresswoman ending the embargo on Cuba, drawing fire from another member of the Sunshine State’s delegation." "Manufacturers, Mario Diaz-Balart Clash Over Cuba Embargo."

Meanwhile, "Miami’s Cuban-American business elite spent spring break in Havana."

Brown "fighting for her political life"

"In a last-ditch effort to save her seat, attorneys for U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown on Friday made the case that her newly drawn congressional seat is unconstitutional because it will disenfranchise the pockets of black voters she currently represents." "Brown packs courtroom for federal redistricting hearing."

See also "U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown fights Congressional redistricting in court."

Floriduh . . . voter registration snafu

"Banned from voting in the March 15 presidential primaries? It gets worse. If you’re one of those who insisted on submitting a provisional ballot, and it was tossed, your vote in one of 20 municipal elections got thrown out as well."

While hard numbers aren’t expected to be posted until next week, it’s possible the 2,000 provisional ballots that were disallowed affected closer votes in some of the local races.

Florida has closed presidential primaries, so only people registered as either Republican or Democrat can vote in their party’s race. Many a voter complained of being told at the poll that he or she was on the books as “no party affiliation” and so could not vote in the primaries, even if he or she was were sure of being in one of the parties.

At that point, voters still could cast ballots in the booth for any municipal election.

Some voters insisted the registry was wrong. They were given the option of submitting a “provisional ballot.”

But Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher has said that when the canvassing board got those ballots, its hands were tied. If the person wasn’t registered Democratic or Republican, the ballot was tossed. All of it.

"Officials believe hundreds of would-be voters had been people who were asked, as federal law requires, whether they wanted to apply to vote or to update their voter information when they had gone to have their Florida driver’s licenses renewed."
Originally it had been surmised that voters either, in haste, skipped the computer page listing party affiliation, or just presumed it defaulted to their longstanding affiliation, and the state, seeing no box checked, presumed that meant “no party.”

But on Friday, clerks at the tax collector’s office at the Palm Beach County Governmental Center walked a Palm Beach Post reporter through the process. The steps taken suggested it wasn’t possible for existing voters to have accidentally had their party status changed.

If the person asks to update their driver license, perhaps to reflect a new address, they also may update their voter information, but never go to the page showing party affiliation. People wanting to do that are directed to go to the elections office.

Someone who hasn’t registered to vote can go through the process there and the system does indicate a party. That person is asked to confirm everything on the screen at the end, and gets a printout to take home as well.

So the mystery of how those people ended up “NPA” becomes even murkier.

[SOE] Bucher said this week there’s evidence this problem is cropping up statewide. She said her counterpart in Tampa’s Hillsborough County also encountered problems. And she said she’s discovered that in some cases people mailed registration forms straight to Tallahassee, and clerks there keyed in the wrong party.

One possibility is that people, whether inadvertently or otherwise, switched to NPA at some point, perhaps even years ago, but it never came into play because they voted in general elections; now some for the first time were casting ballots in presidential primaries.

"Was your presidential ballot tossed? Your local vote was too."

DWS challenger gets voter data

"Florida Democratic Party reverses position, gives Wasserman Schultz challenger voter data."

FlaBaggers in action

"The Tea Party Express endorsed U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., for a third term on Thursday." "Ted Yoho Endorsed by Tea Party Express."

Here comes Senator Scott

"Scott [has] openly implored Obama to come to Florida. The catch: It was a backhanded invitation, a way of criticizing the president for not leaving his swing through Latin America (including a historic trip to Cuba) to return to the United States in the wake of a terrorist attack in Belgium."

Scott suggested that any speech Obama makes be concerned with how the administration plans to fight extremist groups like the Islamic State, which took responsibility for the deadly attacks in Brussels.
"The statement could be counted as just another example of Scott's boosterism for Florida, but criticizing the president on an international issue is unlikely to diminish speculation in Tallahassee that Scott will run for the U.S. Senate in 2018. By then, of course, the term-limited Obama will presumably be free to fly wherever he likes without Scott weighing in." "Scott Has Invitation for Obama."