Poor "Jeb!", "[i]n his eighth and final year as the state's chief executive, Jeb Bush is back where he began -- trying to cement his claim to being Florida's 'education governor.'"
After a series of closed-door huddles during the past week involving lawmakers and, separately, the governor and his advisers, what's emerging as a likely solution is a plan to ask Florida voters in November to change the state constitution and allow taxpayer dollars to flow to private schools.However,
Political polls have shown lukewarm support for vouchers. The proposed amendment likely would drive Democrats -- the idea's fiercest opponents -- to the polls during an election year with an open governor's race and U.S. Senate contest at stake."Jeb Bush scrambles to save vouchers".
The bottom line is this: The measure could lose and damage Republican political fortunes, as well.
"Gallagher's reckless assault on the courts"
"Tom Gallagher's strategy to win the Republican nomination for governor is clear. The state's chief financial officer is renouncing his moderate record and embracing social and religious conservatives in a bear hug, calculating they will push him past Attorney General Charlie Crist in the primary election. Those voters will have to judge for themselves whether Gallagher's flip-flops on abortion rights and school vouchers are a genuine conversion or a cynical political strategy. But his rush to the right could have real consequences, particularly for our legal system and the courts." "Reckless rhetoric".
"Success is relative - especially when it comes to Florida Democrats. New fundraising reports once again show Republicans dramatically outraising Democrats in Florida - five to one in the governor's race - but that's not stopping many Democrats from crowing about their recent money-raising." "For Democrats, fundraising numbers are worth a cheer".
While the fallout from members of Congress flying all around the globe continued to make news last week, Tom Feeney was, well, flying around the globe."Feeney keeps going and going . . .".
Yes, the Oviedo Republican who may have taken two international trips in violation of House rules spent Monday night in Beijing's five-star China World Hotel. ...
And there are still questions about who paid for Feeney's other big trip -- one to Scotland, where he played golf and was accompanied by Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist in the middle of the biggest corruption scandal to hit Washington in years. ...
The truth of the matter is that, in a pre-Abramoff world, no one would have paid much attention to this trip.
But things have changed. Feeney hasn't.
"Democrats were stung last week when state Rep. Sheri McInvale of Orlando, who has long quarreled with a number of party leaders and activists, decided to abandon ship and become a Republican."
But Democratic activists have taken some solace in the fact that one of the party faithful who had decided to challenge McInvale in 2006 -- even before she jumped to the GOP -- is off to a surprising start."New Democratic hopeful takes sting out of defection". And on television:
Scott Randolph, an attorney and environmental activist, raised $20,000 during his first quarter of fundraising, according to campaign-finance records filed last week. That's almost exactly as much as McInvale raised during the same period, despite the advantage of incumbency.
McInvale's account may shrink a little bit, too. The day she switched parties, she pledged to send a letter to all of her contributors offering them a refund. Randolph did his part to help, sending those same contributors a letter of his own urging them to take her up on the offer.
State Rep. Sheri McInvale continued to receive attention for dropping her Democratic ties and becoming a Republican last week. On Friday night, the Orlando public-relations exec showed up on Fox's Hannity & Colmes.Fox is digging deep these days.
Discuss this over at FLA Politics.
Gay Marriage and More
Credit Mike Thomas for recognizing that the Florida Republican party's anti-gay marriage amendment does much more than (unnecessarily) prohibit "gay marriage":
So it is not surprising to see the Florida Republican Party support an amendment for the November ballot that would ban gay marriage. Actually, it goes beyond that. It also would stop gay couples from going steady, getting pinned or even making plans for brunch next week."Anti-gay issue, GOP: Marriage of convenience". After recognizing this point, Thomas goes astray by giving "Jeb!" a pass on the Florida GOP being neck deep in the funding the amendment.
"South Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz testified against Judge Samuel Alito's record on privacy at Supreme Court hearings." "Wasserman Schultz blasts Alito's record".
Martinez Caught With Hand In Cookie Jar
The "Cellophane Man"
wants to make it crystal clear to his constituents that he is not interested in any campaign donation that has even a hint of impropriety in this matter," spokeswoman Kerry Feehery wrote in an e-mail.Of course, "Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein" wanted to make this crystal clear
just hours after the liberal group Campaign for a Cleaner Congress held a conference call with reporters to urge that the Floridians who had received contributions from American Liberty and Ney's campaigns return or donate the funds to charity."Martinez to donate funds from embattled congressman to charity".
The way the law works now, pregnant girls may petition a judge to bypass parental notificatioon. " judges must rule on bypass petitions within 48 hours of the time they are filed, and grant them if the girl proves at least one of three conditions: She is mature enough to make the decision on her own; one or both of her parents or a guardian has abused her; or the notification is not in her best interest.
But Rep. John Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the best-interest standard is too vague, allowing judges to grant waivers if a pregnant teen fears her parents won't, for example, pay for college or car insurance. He said that was not the intention of Florida voters who overwhelmingly approved a 2004 constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to enact a notification law."Notification often waived for teens' abortions".
"It leaves it wide open for the judge to make the determination that any negative consequence to the minor eliminates the parents' right to know under the Florida Constitution," Stargel said.
He is drafting legislation that would give judges more time -- possibly seven days -- to consider and issue orders in bypass requests. He also wants to tighten the best-interest standard to ensure waivers are granted only to girls who face personal harm if their parents learn of their pregnancies.
Abortion-rights advocates warn that lawmakers would tinker with the statute at their own peril. They note the law was carefully crafted to conform to U.S. Supreme Court guidelines after Florida's original notification law was struck down as unconstitutional.
Bill March ...
rounds up the week's political developments in "Feeney Says He'll Give Away Lobbyist's $1,000"
"Almost three months after Hurricane Wilma hit, there are still no conclusive answers as to what can be done to better protect the electrical grid or to restore power at a much faster pace." "Utilities".
Northwest by Southwest
Buddy Nevins writes that ""Panhandle, Broward appear promising for Democrat Davis".
In the meantime, Rod goes to Sarasota:
During a speech in Sarasota this afternoon, Smith told a Democratic Club that the state is overemphasizing the state standardized test, the FCAT, to grade schools and students. Children in the third grade shouldn’t have the pressure of being “branded a failure” as early as the third grade when FCAT testing begins.And
Smith, a state senator from Alachua County, went on to say that the state has to raise teacher pay, scrap any private school voucher programs and fund the class-size reduction amendment that voters passed years ago (the Legislature has balked at funding the program, saying Florida can’t afford to do it). With a $68 billion state budget, Smith said it’s not a lack of funding that is stopping the Legislature and the governor, it’s a lack of commitment to education in Tallahassee.
Although Davis represents parts of Manatee County in Congress, that relationship hasn’t translated into an advantage in neighboring Sarasota County. Smith has won over key Democrats in the region including Sarasota Mayor Mary Anne Servian, Sarasota City Commissioner Fredd Atkins, former state Rep. Shirley Brown, and former county Democratic Party Chairman Harold Miller."Rod Smith Stumps in Sarasota".
Charlie's Broward Crew
"Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist got a big head start in snaring those Broward GOP votes when many county Republican pooh bahs joined his race for governor. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Ed Pozzuoli, former Broward GOP chairman and former Broward chairman of Bush-Cheney 2004, was named Crist's Broward chairman this week."
Moreover, "Crist's Broward organization also includes state Rep. Susan Goldstein of Weston as honorary chairman. Some of the co-chairs are Joe Cobo of the Broward Hispanic Coalition; Rev. Dr. O'Neal Dozier, a key adviser to Gov. Jeb Bush on African American affairs; Linda Gill, owner of hotels and a fixture in the Fort Lauderdale business community; Kevin Tynan, former chairman of the Broward GOP and a Bush appointee to the South Broward Hospital District board; and Dr. Alan Mendelson, a South Broward ophthalmologist and fund-raiser in the medical community." "Crist's crew".
"Save Our Homes"
"A Florida law that helps keep property taxes in check has kept some stuck in homes. A proposal would let you take your cap with you." "Renovation time for 'Save Our Homes'?"
"House members from Florida hoping for a chairmanship next year include E. Clay Shaw Jr. of Fort Lauderdale on the Ways and Means Committee; Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Miami on the Rules Committee; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami on the International Relations Committee; and John Mica of Winter Park on the Transportation Committee." "Majority-leader pick to determine fate of Floridians' committee bids".