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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, May 04, 2006

Dems Fight Voucher Revival

    "Moments before Tuesday's adjournment, Republican leaders used a surprise procedural move to reconsider the voucher resolution. Democrats appealed that the move was out of order, but Republican leaders interpreted the rules in their favor."
    The political catfight over school vouchers virtually shut down the Florida Senate on Wednesday morning as jilted Democrats [specifically Sen. Les Miller, D-Tampa] pulled a procedural maneuver of their own, forcing bills to be read in their entirety.

    The strategy was abandoned and the chamber went back to work after nearly two hours of monotony as a clerk read the text of three bills. But it made a statement of the party's ire over a Republican leadership scheme the day before to resurrect the controversial voucher issue.
    "Senate Feud Stalls Activity".
    Bush, Lee and other voucher supporters are hoping that at least one of the senators who voted against the measure Monday will switch and approve the ballot proposal.

    The four Republicans who broke away insist they have no plans to change their vote, heightening lobbying efforts directed toward five black Senate Democrats who voted against Bush.
    Of course,
    Lee, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the Cabinet post of chief financial officer, is vigorously defending Bush -- perhaps with an eye toward ensuring the still-popular governor's support on the campaign trail. Lee is squaring off against Rep. Randy Johnson, R-Celebration, in the GOP primary.
    "Democrats try to stall revival of vouchers". See also "Senate Democrats hit the brakes", "GOP move on vouchers angers Democrats", "Voucher revival try snarls state Senate" "Florida's six black senators hold swing votes in school vouchers battle" and "Power plays bring delay" ("Frustrated by Republicans' measure to revive school vouchers, Democrats strike back with a delay tactic. And amid the partisan politics, a friendship struggles.")

    "Sen. Mandy Dawson, D-Fort Lauderdale, accused Gov. Jeb Bush's staff late Wednesday of using "hard-ball" tactics to try to get her to change her vote on the proposed constitutional amendment for private school vouchers. But Dawson, who voted against vouchers Monday, said she won't change that stance." "Voucher Fight, Newest Installment".

    For background on the attempt to revive the voucher issue see yesterday's "Maneuver revives vouchers but stirs GOP implosion", "Republicans give vouchers another shot", "Senate reverses, keeps hopes for vouchers alive", "Senate to reconsider proposed voucher amendment" and "GOP leaders revive issue with motion for reconsideration".

    Harris Death Watch

    Anonymous former staffers are turning on Harris:

    Former senior members of U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' congressional staff say they initially rejected a defense contractor's $10 million appropriation request last year but reversed course after being instructed by Harris to approve it.

    Harris insisted that Mitchell Wade's request for funding be given to a defense appropriations subcommittee, despite the request's being late and difficult to understand, according to two former staff members and Harris' former chief political strategist.

    "She said, 'It's important to me, so submit it,' " said an ex-staffer who was involved in the process. "She wanted it in."
    "Contractor's deal was Harris priority, former staffers say".

    In the meantime, "Harris Responds to Common Cause Complaint".

    "GOP Urges Bense To Take On Harris"

    Bushco is apparently abandoning Harris

    Gov. Jeb Bush, echoing publicly what many Republican leaders hope privately, thinks Bense would make "a great United States senator." Tuesday, Bush said he hopes someone challenges Harris, adding "I have doubts about whether she can win."

    If Bense agrees to run a last-minute campaign, a decision he is to announce after the Legislature adjourns Friday, he could restore at least some plausibility to the party's visions of defeating incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

    Overcoming Harris, the defiant, well-known Longboat Key congresswoman in the Sept. 5 Republican primary is hardly a sure thing, even for a savvy politician known for making friends and finding common ground between adversaries.
    "GOP Urges Bense To Take On Harris". See also "White House aide has praise for Bense" ("He 'would be great in any office he ran for,' offers President Bush's political director - another nudge of Florida's House speaker toward a U.S. Senate race.")

    Kids "Left behind"

    "When they pass the coming year's budget, Florida lawmakers will fall short of their obligation to the state's children. In light of the record fiscal surplus at the Legislature's disposal, it's a sorry performance. The budget, scheduled for a final vote Friday, scrimps in areas that could be crucial to the future of young Floridians." "Left behind".

    House Clerk

    "Clerk Retires After Keeping House On Track For 20 Years".

    Open Mouth ...

    embarass self: "Down with Iraq 'Defeatism'" ("Martinez is not up for reelection until 2010.")


    Blame game:

    If Sen. Lee wants leaders to blame, he might try Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, and Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach. They reportedly crafted the plan to stop Sen. Villalobos from becoming Senate president as scheduled in two years and promote Sen. Atwater instead. First they undermined Sen. Villalobos' authority. Then they blamed him for not delivering.

    But most of the blame falls on Gov. Bush, who has betrayed his own voucher programs by refusing to make them accountable.
    "Senate ploy on vouchers badly timed distraction".

    "Be careful what you wish for"

    "Supporters of Tom Gallagher's campaign for governor take heed: Be careful what you wish for. In response to their complaints that the Broward Republican Party improperly endorsed rival Charlie Crist on Jan. 30, a second endorsement vote is scheduled for today. And party leaders -- even some who back Gallagher -- are sure about the outcome." "Broward GOP to vote again on candidates".


    "Can a makeover and French cuffs help Jeb Bush succeed his brother?"

    Insurance Crisis

    "With only one day before the 2006 Legislature adjourns and less than a month from the start of hurricane season, lawmakers have crafted bills to lessen insurance surcharges and sweeten the pot for insurers. Yet these measures, even taken together, will do little to attract insurers to Florida or stop rate hikes that will affect homeowners for the foreseeable future." "No legislative remedy for insurance crisis".

    Temp FDLE Chief

    "Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet chose a veteran police executive Tuesday as temporary head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Gerald Bailey, inspector general of the Lottery Department, said he will not be a candidate to permanently replace Commissioner Guy Tunnell, who resigned last month. Bailey said he won't be returning to the Lottery 'because the department needs to fill the position.'" "Veteran law enforcer appointed as temporary FDLE chief".

    Oh Pleeez ...

    The Tampa Trib thinks Lee "has responded to the unpleasant situation quietly but decisively and without concern for what others might think. That's leadership." "Voucher Legislation Was Victim Of Backroom Tallahassee Politics".

    Helpless Bystander

    "With eight months left in office, Gov. Jeb Bush is more helpless bystander than lame duck." "As time dwindles, worries pile up for Bush".

    Tallahassee "Offenses"

    A list of "The latest Capitol offenses".


    "An attempt to cash in with arcade games that require "skill" deserves to lose." "The slot machine spin".

    Destroying Wetlands

    "Not satisfied with destroying thousands of acres of wetlands each year, the building industry and compliant lawmakers are pushing a measure that would add to the devastation. Legislation progressing in the House and Senate is aimed at preventing counties from enforcing wetlands protections tougher than the state's. " "Pulling The Plug On Wetlands".

    "The hypocrisy is palpable"

    Poor Rush:

    Rush Limbaugh is in his comfort zone: full spin mode. Even as the talk radio host is being held responsible for breaking the law by seeking multiple pain pill prescriptions, he used his radio pulpit to claim vindication after 21/2 years of fighting The Man.

    Some vindication. He turned himself in to the Palm Beach County Jail on the felony, and was fingerprinted, photographed and released on $3,000 bail. This, he absurdly insists, is not an "arrest."

    While he spends the next 18 months in mandatory drug treatment, he can't own a gun, he can't get drunk, he'll pay $30,000 for prosecution costs and he has to submit to random drug tests, all part of a first-offender program sparing him a criminal record if he complies. If not, he could be looking at jail time. ...

    Rather than admit he was caught, Limbaugh tried to get the courts to stop prosecutors from looking at his doctors' records. He tried to paint himself the victim. He succeeded only in prolonging his moment in an unflattering spotlight.
    "Rush Limbaugh".

    "Money was quietly slipped into the budget"

    "The $70.3 billion budget that lawmakers began debating Wednesday includes $7.6 million for two state contractors, including one with ties to the office of Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon. The money was quietly slipped into the budget without a single committee hearing." "Money for contractors added to new budget".


    "Leaders work to firm up Scripps 'cluster'".


    "Members of Congress are joining forces with Gov. Jeb Bush to hasten efforts to bolster the aging levee surrounding Lake Okeechobee." "Support grows for bolstering levee". See also "The Lake" ("Report warns of major threat from Lake Okeechobee's deteriorating dike.")

    Davis, Lawson Spat

    "He and a state senator disagree on who said what during a phone call about vouchers."

    Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis is the clear leader in the polls in the Democratic governor's race. But in the state Capitol, Sen. Rod Smith is the runaway front-runner, and Davis has to tread lightly when he steps on Smith's turf.

    The latest example? Davis' efforts to kill a proposed constitutional amendment to ensure the continuance of school vouchers.

    Sen. Al Lawson of Tallahassee, the only Democratic senator who supported the voucher bill, said Davis called him Sunday night and urged him to join fellow colleagues in rejecting the measure.

    "Jim said vouchers are very important to him, and once he got in as governor, he would like me to consider joining him in his administration," said Lawson, who is supporting Smith in the governor's race.

    It's illegal under Florida statutes to promise a job in state government to someone "for the purpose of influencing the vote or political action of any person or for any consideration."

    The Davis campaign denied Lawson's account.
    "Davis gets caught in Capitol spat".

    Session News

    - "Upcoming".

    - "Legislature 2006: Developments from day 58, May 3". See also "Legislative Briefs", "Tallahassee ticker" and "".

    - "Budget Includes Teacher Raises".

    - "House OKs tax hike on car rentals to pay for roads".

    - "The Legislature clears a no-fault auto bill that would extend the law until 2009 but contains no major reforms." "Auto bill passes, lacks reform".

    - "Lawmakers get tough on alcohol sales to underage drinkers".

    - "Legislature signs off on 'doggie dining'". See also "House OK's table for 2 and doggy, too" and "Hey, waiter, woof, woof!".

    - "House sees future in nuclear power".

    - "Energy tax holiday OK'd".

    - "Florida House approves more than $300 million in incentives to lure companies to the state. The Innovation Incentive Program is a Gov. Bush priority but still requires Senate approval." "House OK's $300M incentive bill".

    - "Use of stun guns reined in".

    - "Budget Affords Parking For Bolts".

    - "The Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously moved to make sure records of private organizations that buy public hospitals are not subject to state public records law." "Change in public records law passes House".

    - "Bill makes forced labor a racketeering offense".

    - "K-8 virtual schools' expansion headed for governor's signature".

    - "Back-to-school tax break".

    - "Legislation named for a Daytona Beach murder victim passed the House on Wednesday, giving police the authority to charge family members as accessories to crime if they help a relative hide evidence or flee." "Legislation named for murder victim awaits signature".

    - "Bill would remove mine-industry fee cap".

    - "Public records exemptions alarm activists".

    - "A disagreement between the House and the Senate could kill the politically popular proposal." "Easing phone rates is unsure". See also "House backs partial repeal of phone measure".

    - "Legislation banning college and university students and professors from traveling to 'terrorist nations' -- including Cuba -- is headed to the governor." "School trips to Cuba face ban".

    - "Senate tunes out film bill".

    - "House kills canker eradication program".

    - "Nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court sparked a furor about property rights, Florida lawmakers appear ready to block cities and counties from condemning private property to use in redevelopment projects." "Decision on property rights expected this week".

    - "Marlins stadium funding gets a new life".

    Oil Drilling

    "Published reports suggest Republicans eager to take action on the spiraling cost of gasoline may use a Senate bill that singles out Florida waters as a centerpiece of legislation that could come to the Senate floor as early as next week. The bill would open up nearly four million acres of Lease Sale Area 181, a sprawling, natural gas-rich region of the Gulf of Mexico off Florida's Panhandle." "Oil drilling near Florida gets boost".

    Revenge of the Jebbites

    "Alex Villalobos lost his bid for the Senate presidency and his post as majority leader after helping to kill a proposal dear to the governor. Now, the Miami Republican may face something he hasn't seen in 14 years: an opponent for reelection." "From majority leader to GOP outcast".

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