"The Democratic candidates for governor are jockeying for a prized endorsement Sunday from the Florida AFL-CIO, whose half-million members crave a more union-friendly successor to Gov. Jeb Bush." "Democrats for governor seek union backing". "Democrats for governor seek union backing". In the meantime, "Rod Smith was endorsed Thursday by the Central Florida AFL-CIO -- a development that could be a harbinger of the Alachua senator snagging the backing of the statewide union this weekend." "The Union Label".
GOoPers Eat Their Own
"Alex Villalobos, until recently a rising star in the Florida Senate who paid a steep price for crossing the governor on education issues, got another dose of reality Thursday: a challenger for the first time in 14 years. Frank Bolaños, one of the most conservative members of the Miami-Dade School Board, said he will challenge Villalobos in a Republican primary that could become a referendum on the governor's losses on class sizes and vouchers." "Villalobos gets foe: Bolaños". See also "A Challenge for Villalobos".
"Despite a significant Thursday night victory in Congress against attempts to allow natural gas drilling in waters of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and near other long-protected coastlines, conflicts over opening the outer continental shelf to energy development are far from settled." "House Votes To Keep Offshore Oil, Gas Drilling Ban". See also "House beats back two proposals to allow drilling near Fla. coastline", "Votes bar offshore drilling", "Floridians fend off attack on drilling ban", "House votes to keep drilling ban Efforts by Florida lawmakers were critical in turning back" and "House votes continuation of offshore oil and gas drilling ban".
"A state elections panel is reconsidering fining former Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant for neglecting her duties." "Oliphant may escape fine". See also "Oliphant awaits judge's ruling".
Timid GOoPer Fix
"The law on homeowners insurance contains too many half-measures and delays to count as the comprehensive solution Floridians need." "A timid insurance fix".
"Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles director Fred Dickinson was unfortunately suffering under the illusion that no conflict was created by the fact that his wife was paid to lobby for six businesses with agency contracts. One of those, National Safety Commission Inc., was picked to print the official state driver's handbook, allowing it to be the sole advertiser for its own traffic school." "The right call to make".
"Republicans still heavily out number Democrats in the district, which includes all of Sarasota, Hardee, and DeSoto counties, plus most of Manatee and a small portion of Charlotte. There are more than 211,000 Republicans compared to 151,000 Democrats. Republicans make up 46 percent of the electorate. Democrats are at 33 percent." "How Conservative Are We?".
Politically Expedient Tax Break
"Need hurricane supplies? They're tax-free starting on Sunday". See also "Floridians to buy hurricane supplies during tax-free week" and "Memo for next week: storm-prep tax break". On a related issue, "Few homes will receive hurricane upgrade grants".
Goosesteppers for Gallagher
"RightMarch.com, the online conservative political action group formed to counterbalance MoveOn.org, announced Thursday it was endorsing Republican Tom Gallagher in the governor's race and pledged to counter any funds Michael Schiavo's TerriPAC puts into the race." "RightMarch.com Endorses Gallagher".
Charter School Flops Can Continue?
"Charter schools determined unfit to open could soon be teaching students anyway — out from under the watchful eye of local school districts that have rejected them. A bill passed by the legislature and expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush will create a statewide charter school board, an alternative to the local school boards that now oversee more than 300 state charter schools." "Statewide board for charter schools nears reality amid cheers, warnings".
Challenge To Voter Registration Law
"A coalition of grassroots organizations and labor unions sued in federal court Thursday to challenge a new Florida law they contend could shut down voter registration efforts by imposing stiff penalties when deadlines are missed to submit the forms." "Grassroots groups, unions challenge Florida voter registration law".
Charlie Tries The Net
Not the best way to make use of the net:
The Charlie Crist campaign called it a "Chat with Charlie," suggesting the give-and-take of a two-way dialogue. But those who dialed in Thursday night heard only a 20-minute stump speech by the attorney general and Republican candidate for governor. ..."Charlie's Chat".
Perhaps most revealingly, Crist saluted the class size amendment that Jeb Bush has spent four years fighting. Said Crist, the former education commissioner: "We have to make sure that our classes have the right size, but we'll find a way. We'll find a way to do it within our budget."
Crist made the election sound like a referendum on fealty to Jeb. A riff in his speech (one we'll hear again) is that Crist is the only candidate "who has always been a strong supporter of Jeb Bush." (His primary ooponent, CFO Tom Gallagher, ran against Bush in 1994).
Charlie Has A Plan
"Crist to announce proposals on hurricane preparation, response".
"[O]ther states are passing Florida up with provisions that make it easier to access a wide variety of records. Meanwhile, Florida's once-comprehensive law is wounded and limping under a heavy burden of exemptions." "Blocking Sunshine".
"The anti-kickback provision of Florida’s Medicaid fraud statute conflicts with federal law because it doesn’t feature some of the same exemptions, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday." "Supreme Court strikes down Medicaid provision".
"Current system stifles competition"
"Two months after the Florida Supreme Court struck from the ballot a proposal to reform the way lawmakers' districts are drawn, the list of candidates filing for this year's congressional elections in the state is a fresh reminder of why change is still so badly needed. The current system stifles competition, and cheats voters out of the choices they deserve in a democracy." "Cheating the voters" ("The dearth of opponents in the congressional races shows rigging.")
Charlie In The Crosshairs
Amid questions about why Republican Charlie Crist hadn't planned on attending tomorrow night's Florida Family Policy Council dinner in Orlando, the Florida Democratic party is eager to fan the GOP's intra-party rivalry."Democrats Pile On Crist".
"An anti-choice, right-wing fringe group in Orlando is up in arms about Crist’s inability to come clean with them on whether he’ll attend their Friday fundraiser where notable guests will include Jeb Bush and Tom Gallagher – indecision that likely stems from Crist’s affinity for playing every side of every issue," said an e-mail from the Democrats.
Masilotti Bows Out
"Tony Masilotti has been rude, bullying, divisive, unbearable and unpredictable for much of his nearly eight years on the Palm Beach County Commission. He also has invested in real estate, making partners of landowners who do business with the county. As a result, Commissioner Masilotti's decision not to seek a third term this fall is good news." "Masilotti used position for 'Let's Make a Deal'".
Tampa Bay Area Registration
"New voter registration statistics are burnishing the Tampa Bay region's reputation as the home of swing voters, the persuadables who are independent-minded and not tethered to either party. Since Feb. 26, when the state state kicked off an aggressive effort to register voters, more than 19,000 people have signed up in the five-county region that includes Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Hernando and Citrus counties. In all, new Democrats outnumber new Republicans by 7,106 to 6,844, but the total number of voters who registered as NPAs, or no party affiliation, is 5,781, far above the statewide NPA average of about 20 percent." "Tampa Bay's Independent Streak".
"It's going to be bloody"
"The primary contest between Kim Berfield and Frank Farkas could hinge on some of their votes in the House."
The Pinellas Republicans, one of whom will face Democrat Charlie Justice in the general election, took opposite sides on at least 12 issues, from the class-size amendment to high-interest title loans and public records exemptions, a St. Petersburg Times analysis shows."Voting records could tilt race".
Those differences are ripe for exploitation, if not distortion, in the form of TV ads and direct mail as the candidates head into what is expected to be the most watched, best financed state Senate race in Florida. The seat spans Tampa Bay, taking in parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
"It's going to be bloody," said Doug McAlarney, a Republican consultant in Tallahassee who is not helping either candidate. "It'll be fun to watch from a distance but no fun to be there on the ground."
"Ever wondered how powerful your congressional representative is? Well, the nonpartisan government-info site Congress.org decided to answer that question with its newly released 'Power Rankings.'".
"Confirming what we already knew, Florida doesn't have a lot whole lot of clout on Capitol Hill. The state ranked a mere 41st on a new list of Power Rankings." "Who has the power?"
"Florida flexes muscle in Congress". The rankings are here.
Harris Hardcore on Immigrants
Playing to the GOP base, "Harris has backed a tough House bill while Nelson leans toward a bipartisan compromise." "Candidates diverge on thorny immigration issues".