"Four members of the U.S. House of Representatives, all Democrats, will return to Congress unopposed, but 17 other Florida incumbents who are seeking re-election drew challengers before qualifying closed Friday for federal races. No one filed against Reps. Allen Boyd of Monticello, Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, Robert Wexler of Delray Beach and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston." "Four Fla. representatives unopposed for re-election". See also "Unchallenged Wexler wins 6th term in Congress" and "No challengers sign up to run for House seat: Robert Wexler an automatic winner".
"Gov. Bush Resisted Appeals To Run".
And Then There Were Four
"The eleventh-hour entries of a former governor's son, LeRoy Collins Jr., of Tampa, a suburban Orlando businessman, William McBride, and a Pinellas County developer, Peter Monroe, posed no obvious primary threat to the biggest if most controversial name in the race, Katherine Harris."
No sooner had the dust settled, with a noon deadline for filing paperwork, than the Longboat Key congresswoman began gathering limited support from some party leaders. Other big names remained silent or dismissive of her chances of unseating Democrat Bill Nelson."Harris Now Has 3 GOP Opponents In Bid For Senate". See also "Three qualify to challenge Harris in GOP primary", "Harris Has Company", "Harris draws token Republican opposition in Senate race" and "Few candidates clear Harris' primary path" ("Despite efforts by the GOP to recruit a big-name candidate, only a handful of relatively unknown contenders stepped forward Friday to challenge U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' bid for the Republican nomination in Florida's U.S. Senate race.")
U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Orlando, quickly endorsed Harris and promised to campaign for her. Other Republicans were more circumspect. "We'll let nature take its course for a while and see how that goes," said Al Cardenas, the still-influential former state party chairman.
Party Chairman Carole Jean Jordan said she has been a longtime supporter of Harris but would not say whether she could win against Nelson.
"On the day that Rep. Katherine Harris learned she will face three opponents in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, she received the strongest backing yet from the national Republican Party."
Hours before Friday's noon filing deadline, North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who leads the committee that helps Republicans run for Senate, said that if Harris wins the primary in September the Republican Party would support her."Party speaks up more for Harris".
If she wins the primary, "the Republican Party would support her." That's hardly a rousing vote of confidence.
"State Farm wants to hike insurance premiums an average of 70 percent, and Allstate Floridian plans to shed policies as both companies get ready for hurricane season." "Insurers set to squeeze even tighter". See also "State Farm asks for steep rate increases" and "State Farm hiking rates; Allstate shedding policies".
Dems "Licking Their Chops"
Multiple headlines about Dems "licking their chops".
- "Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Robert Wexler were automatically reelected when they failed to draw challengers. Other incumbents dug in for competitive contests." "Democrats lick chops, see GOP weak"
- "With fields set, the party trains its sights on congressional seats held by Bilirakis and Harris. The field is set for the busiest round of congressional races Tampa Bay has seen in ages, and the specter of an unpopular president looms large." "State Democrats start licking their chops".
Token Mica Challenger
"Unopposed in 2005 after weathering a challenge in 2002 from millionaire Wayne Hogan, Mica will be opposed in the Nov. 7 general election. A primary will be held Sept. 5 in races with three or more candidates. Chagnon, answered the call to oppose Mica, but no one answered his phone number listed on the Department of Elections Web site. A local Democratic leader also had no contact information for Chagnon, an unsuccessful candidate for Palm Coast mayor in 2003." "Rep. Mica confident as campaign begins".
How Much Is That Lobbyist In The Window?
"A federal judge Friday refused to block a new state law banning gifts to legislators and requiring that lobbyists disclose who pays them and how much." "Judge refuses to block lobbyist law". See also "Judge's ruling crushes lobbyists' challenge" and "Lobbyists fail to stop law making them disclose pay".
Here's the kicker: "Judge: Lobbyists must file financial info by Monday".
"McKay Scholarships, one of Florida's three voucher programs, are named for former Senate President John McKay, who sponsored legislation that created them. Since 2000, students with disabilities have used McKay scholarships to attend private schools. This year, about 16,000 students are getting them."
But the state never required sufficient financial and academic oversight for schools taking McKay vouchers. Post reporters have found home-schoolers misusing McKay vouchers for which they didn't qualify. Non-existent oversight and resulting scandals also have been a problem for schools taking vouchers paid for by corporate donations, for which the donors received a dollar-for-dollar tax break. About 14,000 low-income students are getting corporate vouchers this year."Correct voucher policy? Stick to McKay vouchers".
Lax standards pose a fundamental legal problem for the voucher programs. The state Supreme Court this year ruled that the third voucher program - the governor's so-called "Opportunity Scholarships" used by about 700 students whose schools repeatedly scored an F on the state's FCAT-based grading system - is unconstitutional. The justices based their finding, in part, on the Legislature's failure to hold private voucher schools to the same standards as public schools.
Dual FEA Endorsement
"After throwing millions of dollars and all its might into trying unsuccessfully to elect Bill McBride governor in 2002, the Florida Education Association is playing it safer in this year's governor's race. The state's largest union on Friday decided to endorse both Democrats, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa and state Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua." "Teachers endorse Smith, Davis". See also "Teachers union backs both Democrats".
"The Cuba pretext"
"A bill to allow natural gas (and by extension, oil) drilling within 10 miles of Florida's coastline soared through a House committee this week en route to a full floor vote. Congress barely needs an excuse these days to break its decades-old ban against drilling in coastal waters. This week, Cuba provided it." "The Cuba pretext".
"With high prices at the gas pumps, Florida's candidates for governor all say everyone needs to put less in the tank with three of them touting a long-term strategy of shifting to crop-based alternatives to pure gasoline." "Candidates on the future of fuel".
"Five counties received new touch-screen voting machines that weren't certified for use in Florida because they were upgraded without approval from state officials, officials said. The Diebold Election Systems machines were delivered in Volusia, Polk, Leon, Putnam and Glades counties with memory, processor, display and other improvements. The devices are similar to those previously certified, but still require more scrutiny before they could be used in elections." "Uncertified vote machines sent to five Fla. counties".
Pruitt is a miserable failure, even at pandering:
Early this year, incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt sent out a fund-raising letter promising to use his "influence" as chairman of the Rules Committee to push "The Boy Scouts and Pledge of Allegiance Protection Act.""Pruitt falls short on pledge protection in constitution".
However, the effort to put protection for the pledge in the state constitution died in Pruitt's own Rules and Calendar Committee when the legislative session ended last week. Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, never brought the matter to the Senate floor — despite his claim in the letter that he wanted "to force liberals in the Florida Senate to take a stand one way or the other."
"Florida, Southeast region targets in push for nuclear power plants".
"But this is a measure pushed by the National Rifle Association, the same group that convinced the governor and the Legislature that requiring gun range owners to comply with state environmental laws is tantamount to trashing the Second Amendment. The governor has a chance to avoid making a mockery of federal constitutional rights and Florida laws regarding open government -- again. He should veto this problematic bill as soon as it hits his desk." "A troubling public records exemption bill threatens to become law".
Remember When Newspapers Had Clout?
Brian Crowley puts his foot in his mouth: "Remember When Unions Had Clout?"
"South Florida's very own 'Welfare Queens'"
"There were Floridians -- many of whom drive posh cars and vote Republican -- who found themselves in long lines at an ice and water distribution point because the local Publix had no power to operate, much less having shelves stocked with ice and water. ... but there may be legitimate reasons even for Lexus drivers to wait in line for emergency supplies." "Storm Season".
Bousquet Hearts Bense
"Despite Bense's stated intentions to leave politics and reconnect with his family, they may not last. He's at or near the top of any list of potential lieutenant governor running mates for Charlie Crist or Tom Gallagher." "Bense's humble leadership makes him anything but 'nobody'".