Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Thursday, February 16, 2006

"'Grassfire' Campaign"

    Katherine wants to fire up the GOoper grass-roots:
    It's what she calls a "grassfire" campaign — one meant to ignite grass-roots support into an inferno of volunteers who will sweep her to victory against Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Brevard County.

    It's an uphill battle — as it invariably is for a challenger facing an incumbent. Until recently, the GOP political hierarchy has been noticeably cool to a Harris candidacy. Their concern, it is frequently said, is that although Harris could easily win a primary election, she cannot attract enough independent voters to defeat Nelson.

    Harris is aware of such perceptions and goes out of her way to remind listeners that she has a history of successfully bucking common wisdom and defeating incumbents.

    She says the press and the pundits didn't think she had a chance when she defeated Democratic state Sen. Jim Boczar in 1994, spending $500,000 of her own money. And they wrote her off in her 1998 primary against incumbent Secretary of State Sandra Mortham.

    "If we can turn out our base, we can win," Harris says.
    "Harris hopes to ignite Florida 'grassfire'".

    Reports of Death Premature?

    "Efforts to modify Florida's ban against gay adoption are not dead, despite a state Senate committee's decision to table the bill, the head of a gay-activist organization said Wednesday. Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, said there still is a chance that the bill will be revived later in the legislative session: 'It's not dead. It's not dead at all.'" "Gay-adoption bill 'not dead,' activist says".

    It's Baaaack

    Here's one way to fire up the GOoper faithful - religious school vouchers:

    Bush and Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday they would try to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot that would revive one school voucher program struck down by the state Supreme Court and protect two others against a similar fate.
    "Bush, GOP lawmakers announce push for voucher amendment". See also "GOP tries to revive vouchers", "Gov. Bush touts voucher proposal" and "Bush leads push to save school vouchers".

    Bill Cotterell says that
    Passage seems certain, with the GOP holding 26 of the 40 Senate seats and 85 of the 120 House seats. Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, are both on board, and Bush said their designated successors - Sen. Ken Pruitt of Port St. Lucie and Rep. Marco Rubio of Miami - will sponsor the amendment.

    Politically, an amendment campaign would force the FEA and other pillars of the Democratic Party to devote time and money to fighting the ballot initiative. It could also help the Republicans make inroads in black precincts, where school choice polls well.

    "Voters, parents, should be able to decide whether or not poor, minority or disabled students should have the same option as wealthy parents," Bush told the crowd. "I know, if presented this choice in November, that Floridians will say yes - that this is a fundamental right, that this is a civil right, that this is as American as apple pie."

    Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, predicted that both parties and national education organizations will make Florida a battleground if the amendment gets to the ballot.
    "Governor not ready to end fight for vouchers".

    Tuition Increase

    "If approved by lawmakers it would mark the 11th year in a row that tuition for state universities has been raised". Governor says he'll lower tuition hike request". See also "Protest frivolity" ("Bush immediately backed down on his original 5-percent tuition-increase proposal for in-state students (7.5 percent for out-of-state) after students marched on the Capitol saying they didn't want to pay more.")

    Keller Race Top Tier?

    Good to see that

    the widely read Cook Political Report has moved the Orlando Republican's re-election bid onto its list of potentially competitive races. The good news for Keller (whose announced competition includes Republican Elizabeth Doran and Democrats Homer Hartage and Charlie Stuart) is that Cook still predicts Keller will win.
    "Political Potpourri".


    Some thoughts on why Villalobos went down:

    Alex Villalobos believed that he had at least enough votes to become Florida's Senate president in 2008. When will these people learn not to trust Republicans?

    Oh, wait. They are Republicans. ...

    Treachery worthy of Richard III is not a new thing for Sen. Atwater. As Post reporters Dara Kam and S.V. Dáte reported last week, he was elected in 2002 after Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, and Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, redrew a district to oust then-Sen. Debby Sanderson, R-Fort Lauderdale, because she had decided not to support Sen. King's ultimately successful bid to be Senate president. Sen. Pruitt, who is set to become Senate president in November, also apparently has made treachery a habit. Speculation is that — despite initially pledging support to Sen. Villalobos — he now is supporting Sen. Atwater's coup.

    An interesting wrinkle: Sen. Villalobos, were he to regain the upper hand, would be the first Cuban-American to lead the Senate. Cutting off a minority at the knees is reminiscent of the Democrats' idiotic decision in 1998 to oust Rep. Willie Logan, an African-American, as party leader. Rep. Logan, proving that he could be as petty and shortsighted as his peers, proceeded to support the gubernatorial campaign of Jeb Bush — who later would outlaw affirmative action for college admissions. A slight difference is that Democrats supposedly care about minorities..

    What did Sen. Villalobos do to deserve the Atwater insurgency? He didn't raise enough money for fellow Republicans, some say, but he also last year did not support Gov. Bush's efforts to repeal the class-size amendment. And, according to Post reporters Kam and Dáte, Sen. Atwater "is also likely to keep Pruitt's political consultant friend Randy Nielsen on the Republican Party payroll through at least 2009, while Villalobos has said he would not allow Nielsen to do any work once he takes control."
    "New GOP hero: Richard III".


    "On Friday, Jan. 27, the five members of the Florida Public Service Commission received a mysterious e-mail. It urged a ruling in a pending issue in favor of BellSouth, the state's largest local telephone company. ... PSC members are not allowed to receive such information outside of public proceedings. Some past members (but none current) have been criticized for seeming to skirt that law. " "Attempt to influence PSC was an inside job".

    "Short on Merit"

    "Florida Education Commissioner John Winn has ordered up a teacher merit pay plan that lacks sufficient standards and doesn't come with a guaranteed way to pay for it. Such a 'performance-based' pay plan is seriously short on merit." "Winn's 'merit' pay plan too reliant on the FCAT".


    More Scripps:

    The governor, who favored the Boca Raton site, warned Wednesday that "Scripps will leave" if the deal was based on "empty promises."
    "Bush urges north county to deliver on Scripps". In the meantime, the Sun Sentinel slams the County Commission:

    It was all about who was willing to pay the most for the affections of Commissioner Addie Greene, who took full advantage of her status as the swing vote. In one of the most blatant displays of pandering local government has ever seen, an unabashed Greene went with the highest bidder: FAU/Abacoa, whose backers gave just $4.5 million to offset county taxpayers' $200 million costs, but dedicated a full $8 million in public and private money for undefined economic diversity efforts of Greene's choosing. By contrast, Boca pledged $4 million for minority opportunities and Florida Research Park chipped in $2 million and promised to try to raise $3 million more.

    Greene, who firmly opposed the north county site just two months ago, used the catbird seat and delivered for her largely black constituency like few local African-American politicians get to, but at a substantial cost to the rest of the county and state. Today, Florida is saddled with a problematic site plan, Palm Beach County is once again a laughingstock and state officials are scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong.

    They can scratch all they like, but it's too late to meddle in this site decision. Bush had an opportunity to remove FAU/Abacoa from contention because it didn't meet criteria. He chose not to, letting others fight for his vision. That fight was lost, and the county has made its decision.
    "A poor decision". But see "A home for Scripps".

    Those Crazy GOoPers

    Scott Maxwell notes that "On Wednesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out a news release titled "BILL NELSON'S SELLOUT TO TRIAL LAWYERS." Um, wrong state to bang that drum, guys -- seeing as how your guy Mel Martinez wasn't just connected to the trial lawyers . . . he was their statewide president."

    Class Warfare Anyone?

    Anytime a Dem opens his or her mouth, GOoPers scream class warfare:

    Bush and other speakers at the rally hammered at the argument that rich people can afford private schools and the middle class can move to better districts - and that vouchers help poor families choose better schools.
    "Governor not ready to end fight for vouchers".

    Thomas For Crist Campaign Continues

    Crist surrogate Mike Thomas continues his campaign for Charlie Crist in a column nominally about Citizens Insurance:

    Who was responsible for this glaring oversight at Citizens?

    The insurer was the brainchild of Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who pushed it through the Legislature. Back then, he was the insurance commissioner. He claimed Citizens would hold down insurance premiums on the coast, particularly in South Florida, which serves as his political base.

    He appointed the Citizens Property governing board, which made the decision not to do the study.

    So what you have here is Gallagher's board making people happy by selling them discounted policies.

    The man who replaced Gallagher as insurance commissioner, Kevin McCarty, knew better. He ordered Citizens to comply with the law and do a study on its rates in 2004.

    Finished last year, it recommends a huge increase in premiums, particularly for those policyholders with windstorm [hurricane] policies. They could see rates go up an average of about 70 percent.

    Naturally, a lot of them are screaming. It's hard to wean folks off welfare. And Gallagher, who is running for governor, is worried.

    His office has questioned the increases, with Gallagher saying Citizens "should not be allowed to arbitrarily raise rates without justifying them."

    That's interesting. He didn't mind Citizens keeping rates arbitrarily low.
    "Politicians have paved way for hurricane tax".

    The Gallagher campaign responds via a press release, asking:
    What has Attorney General Charlie Crist, who is now one of four state officials along with Gallagher that appoints the insurance commissioner, done about the problem?

    ... The Gallagher release claims Crist, in November, told a DeLand audience that the state needed a new insurance commissioner. Well then, the release asks, why hasn't he done anything? And what does a "new commissioner" mean, anyway?

    Contacted by Buzz, the Crist campaign declined to comment on the press release. Asked where the attorney general stood on electing an insurance commissioner, the response: "He is open to the idea and believes the people deserve a voice in the process."
    "Insurance: The campaign issue".

    Car Salesmen for Charlie

    "Stung by multimillion-dollar fines and refunds for unfair sales practices, car dealers from two national chains are putting tens of thousands of dollars into Charlie Crist's campaign for governor." "Auto Dealers Steer Support To Crist".

    "Truth Campaign"

    "Florida would bring back the edgy "truth campaign" and other elements of a program to combat youth smoking under a $58 million proposal announced Wednesday by the state Senate's top health care budget writer." "Senator proposes bringing back anti-tobacco 'truth' campaign".

    Not Quite Top Tier

    "Among 36 gubernatorial races this year, National Journal pegs Florida as the 11th most vulnerable for a partisan shift." However, National Journal concludes that the "'Democratic donor base is paltry compared to the GOP base [and that] alone is the reason we can't bring ourselves to move this race into the top'". "Gubernatorial Rankings".

    6 o'clock news

    "Sooner or later the videotape of seven boot-camp guards reportedly kicking, hitting and choking 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson is going to make the 6 o'clock news. When that happens, Floridians whose tax dollars pay for the Bay County Boot Camp will have hard questions for state officials. The teen died hours after his arrival at the military-style facility. According to his parents, doctors found his organs so damaged that they could not be donated." "Teen's death deserves better state response".

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