"Drinking the Kool-Aid"
A good piece about how the Florida Republican Party - or at least a part of it - is starting to see the light about their wingnut antics over the past few years.
When the Florida Senate rejected two constitutional amendments on education in the closing days of the recent legislative session, it didn't just hand Gov. Jeb Bush a stunning setback.And this pretty much describes where the GOP was when "Jeb!" assumed the crown:
It also raised questions about the future direction of the Florida Republican Party.
That year, "we were all drinking the Kool-Aid," said Sen. Dennis Jones, of Seminole, who helped pass the vouchers program as speaker pro tem in the House in 1998, though he has never favored vouchers. He was one of the four GOP senators to vote against vouchers last week."GOP Votes Suggest Centrist Future".
But don't expect the GOP to transform itself overnight, if ever. For example, in the above-cited article, we read that Charlie "Crist denies being a 'moderate,' a term that in today's state party is virtual anathema."
And, the "independent" GOoPers in the Legislature are at pains to make clear that they're on board with most of the wingnut agenda:
But don't think for a minute that [Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach] is any less a Republican. For instance, the longtime supporter of vouchers voted for another bill (which also failed) to expand vouchers through corporate contributions. She also supported the governor's initiative to give teachers bonuses based on their pupils' FCAT scores (another bill that died). On the other hand, she demonstrated independence again in voting against a measure (that passed) to authorize cities and other entities to co-sponsor charter schools."Breaking ranks".
"In a blow to Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican leaders that could echo across state and national politics this fall, House Speaker Allan Bense said Wednesday that he would not challenge Katherine Harris for the party's U.S. Senate nomination." "Bense rejects pleas by Gov. Bush, others to enter Senate race". See also "Bense won't run for Senate", "House Speaker Won't Enter Senate Race Against Harris", "GOP can't elude Harris vs. Nelson", "Bense ends suspense, won't try Senate bid" and "Bense decides against run for Senate".
It is hard not to enjoy the moment; so let's do:
Republicans will be left with Harris, who Bush says, and polls indicate, cannot win. She may have name recognition and celebrity, but she's also controversial, and the odd campaign she has run so far leaves even supporters with little confidence."Bense Puts Family Before Party".
The Republican base may back her, as it backs the president. But Harris, like George W., isn't winning over anybody else. And her association with a defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is going to haunt her throughout the campaign.
The mystery is why the Republican Party in Florida, which controls both chambers of the Legislature, and the national party, which all but begged Bense to run, can't come up with an alternative to Harris.
It is remarkable that as dominant as Republicans have become in Florida they could not do better than Harris, a caricature whose role in the 2000 recount as Florida's secretary of state turned her into a polarizing figure."Going out on top".
Troxler adds this on the oh so "clever" Jebbites: "Impressive decision by Bense is uh-oh moment for GOP".
A Very Weak Bench
"At least three Republicans, all from West Central Florida, said Wednesday they are seriously considering running against Harris: state Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland, LeRoy Collins Jr., the son the late Gov. LeRoy Collins, and Peter Monroe, a developer from Safety Harbor who in the early 1990s headed the Oversight Board of the Resolution Trust Corp., which handled failed savings and loans." "GOP can't elude Harris vs. Nelson".
Always on message:
Despite his own plummeting poll numbers and the sixth-year jinx that besets the party in power, President Bush confidently predicted Wednesday that "a strong and positive agenda" will keep Republicans in control of Congress next fall."President: GOP will stay strong". See also "President touts brother Jeb for his job in 2008", "Jeb Would Make a 'Great President,' Bush Says", "President endorses Jeb, for anything", "Another President Bush? George thinks brother Jeb would be a great one" and "Big brother wants to see Jeb make presidential run".
In a morning round-table meeting with seven Florida reporters, the president also said he would like to see Gov. Jeb Bush stay in politics. He said his younger brother could "be a great president," but that the governor probably hasn't decided what he will do after leaving office next January.
"Two legislators on Wednesday requested an independent inquiry into the handling of a $364,400 data-sharing contract at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, sent a letter to Florida's auditor general asking that the office launch an audit to determine whether an FDLE manager acted properly in steering work to an Ohio firm he once helped as a consultant." "Lawmakers question FDLE deal".
GOoPers "Managed to Make the Crisis Worse"
"Florida lawmakers entered the session vowing to help working people find affordable housing. Amazingly, they actually managed to make the crisis worse." "Crisis mismanagement".
One can dream:
After years of electoral futility, Florida Democrats are optimistic they can level the state's political field this November."Democrats Dream Of Breakthrough".
Their statewide candidates are considered strong and potentially appealing to independents and moderate Republicans. The GOP, meanwhile, must cope with President Bush's low approval ratings, congressional scandal and angst about rising gas prices and skyrocketing homeowners insurance.
It's still money that matters in politics, though, and Republicans have plenty to go around. Some Democrats are worried it could cost them a rare opportunity to win legislative and Cabinet seats.
"This year's education increase creates some good will. And Gov. Bush's imminent departure removes a class-size opponent whom many voters didn't trust. So there's an opportunity for Rep. Rubio and others to offer a genuine, generous compromise that voters might accept. It could include increased teacher pay, very small classes in lower grades, and reasonable caps - with some flexibility - in higher grades. It would help if Republicans quit pushing vouchers, which voters see as an attack on public schools." "Class-size compromise".
"An awful plan to sell off national forestland deserves a quick death in Congress." "No deal".
Comparing Teacher Salaries
This is getting silly:
State education officials want the federal government to compile comparative teacher pay numbers across the nation, but a teachers union spokesman dismissed the idea as public relations spin to make Florida’s salaries look better than they are.And the teachers have a point about the way Florida wants to compare salaries with other states::
"They are seemingly cherry-picking statistics to make Florida look better," said FEA spokesman Mark Pudlow."State wants feds to compile national teacher pay figures".
He questioned why income tax, which Florida doesn’t have, was considered but not sales and other taxes. Florida also looks good in the study because it pays 100 percent of contributions to the teacher pension plan, but the comparison fails to include pension payout, he said. That’s area in which Florida trails other Southern states, Pudlow said.
In the meantime, and notwithstanding the GOoPer spin, the Sun Sentinel observes today that:
It's unacceptable that Florida, the fourth-largest state in the nation, ranks 47th in per capita school funding. The state can, and must, do better."Vouchers".
Go ahead, "Jeb!", spin those numbers.
"Environmentalists: Session good, bad".
"Crist and his campaign workers handed out red roses to the women. At one point he began salsa dancing with a woman. Then another. And another. And another." "Crist takes gubernatorial campaign to Little Havana".
"Legislative bills on condos seen as a mixed bag".
"Florida lawmakers in Congress plan to fight a proposal to open up most of the U.S. coastline to natural gas exploration." "Coastal drilling bill advances". See also "House panel OKs drilling near shores of Florida", "House panel moves to lift offshore drilling ban for gas" and "House panel moves to lift offshore drilling ban for gas".
Credit Scott Maxwell:
A full year after Ric Keller first refused to answer questions about a taxpayer-funded mailing -- even enlisting the help of a deputy general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives who said Keller was not required to respond -- his office finally had a change of heart. Keller chief of staff Bryan Malenius said last week that Keller's 2005 mailing ("FROM THE BATTLE FRONT . . . Congressman Ric Keller is Supporting our Troops and First Responders!") was sent only to men over age 30 who voted in the 2004 election, as well as a "handful of constituents" who had contacted Keller before then. Sorry, ladies. The mailing cost you $30,042.18. So now you know. And to think it only took us 12 months, and approximately as many column items, to get that information."Keller comes clean".