"[A] review of the disclosure forms by The Miami Herald, including the latest filings, shows that lobbyists were paid at least $20 million in the first three months to lobby the Legislature. And the latest filings continue to show that companies and outfits that hired lobbyists walked out of the 2006 session with victories." "Paying lobbyists paid off well".
Smith Likes The Odds
"Rod Smith says he thinks Democrats are in a good position to win the governor's mansion this election year. Voters are frustrated with gas prices and the war in Iraq, Republicans aren't going to have a candidate as strong as Gov. Jeb Bush, and the U.S. Senate race at the top of the ballot is a good one for his party, the state senator from Alachua said. But in an interview last week with The Associated Press, Smith, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, said there was one issue he didn't see last year that could be a deciding factor in the race: how Republicans have handled skyrocketing home-insurance rates." "Smith likes odds for governorship".
"Will Walk Lead To Guv's Mansion?".
New Breeze Blowing?
"When the Southern Baptist Convention elected the Rev. Frank Page as the group's new president at their meeting this week in Greensboro, N.C., the news appeared on the back pages of most secular newspapers -- or it didn't appear at all. But Page's upset victory could be very significant, both to the nation's religious life and to politics. He defeated candidates supported by the convention's staunchly conservative establishment that has dominated the organization since the mid-1980s. His triumph is one of many signs that new breezes are blowing through the broader evangelical Christian world." "Significant shift in Southern Baptist Convention".
"In a move that could jeopardize the state's plan to preserve a 74,000-acre conservation tract in Southwest Florida, the Sierra Club filed a challenge Friday against the Babcock Ranch development, charging that it violates state planning standards by allowing urban sprawl." "Group says plan 'epitomizes urban sprawl'".
"It's no secret that Hillsborough County Commissioners Kathy Castor and Ronda Storms don't care much for each other. Their open fighting has been much publicized. But as Castor campaigns to succeed Jim Davis in heavily Democratic Congressional District 11, the irony is that Storms has helped Castor by raising her profile." "Storms raises Castor's profile".
"Instead, Gov. Bush blames the class-size amendment he hates. With a $4.4 billion budget surplus this year, the governor proposed $1.5 billion in tax cuts to benefit primarily the wealthy. Education Commissioner John Winn blamed demands of the amendment for his failed attempt to snatch the universities' and community colleges' shares of additional PECO money. Actually, raising or expanding the PECO tax would be more than fair. Many students who need those classrooms will get Bright Futures tuition scholarships from lottery money. In return, their parents could help pay for classrooms." "Raise the education tax".
"Members of Congress talk a good game on ethics reform. The ones who represent Central Florida are no exception. But their professed support for limiting the corrupting influence of special interests on Capitol Hill has not resulted in meaningful change. So-called reform measures passed by the House and Senate are too weak to make a real difference." "Only talk is cheap".
"Gallagher's campaign continues to assert that what is happening on the surface is not a harbinger for September. Gallagher's supporters assert this is going to be the classic ''air game'' versus a 'ground game' -- or a rematch of the Indianapolis Colts versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in last year's football playoffs."
The argument is that Crist is running a populist, general-election-type campaign with plenty of TV commercials. Gallagher will go up on the air as well, but his team maintains that Gallagher has a superior campaign organization with an outreach effort that will target and motivate voters who come out in force during primary elections. They are going after "the base" of the Republican Party."Gallagher's camp betting on Republican 'base' ahead of primary".
For this strategy to be successful, those primary voters must think Gallagher is a superior candidate to Crist. The problem, so far, is that Crist is seen as more dynamic, more gregarious and a more natural campaigner than Gallagher.
Gallagher's counter-spin? That he has more substance, more depth and espouses positions primary voters share. His campaign staffers say they are eager for a series of debates to bring that point home.
How To Gig A GOoPer
Just mention the word "Hillary":
Darryl Paulson, a political scientist at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and an active Republican, had interesting observations about a recent fundraising missive from Katherine Harris' Senate campaign."Does Harris Think Hillary Is Her Opponent?".
"You would think she was running against Hillary" Clinton, Paulson said in an e-mail.
Clinton "gets 12 mentions in the four-page letter. [The word] 'liberal' gets 10 and 'left-wing' gets 4 mentions."
Among his "favorite passages" from the fundraising letter:
"Will you help me defeat Hillary Clinton's best friend in Florida - Democrat Senator Bill Nelson?
"Plain and simple, it's time Floridians fired Hillary Clinton's best liberal friend - Democrat Bill Nelson."
A reference to Nelson's "love-fest of voting with and co-sponsoring radical legislation with Hillary Clinton."
Finally, Harris says voters will "see past the hatred and vitriol hurled at me [by] incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, and his favorite left-wing co-worker Hillary Clinton."
It is no secret that the "Chamber of Commerce" has been reduced to little more than an arm of the Republican Party:
The Florida Chamber of Commerce released its annual evaluation of the Florida Legislature last week, scoring lawmakers based on how they voted this spring on efforts to restrict lawsuits, limit constitutional amendment petition drives and loosen class-size caps, among other business-backed initiatives."From grade A to F in just 2 years".
Sometimes more interesting than the scores themselves, however, is how they change from year to year.
GOTV GOoPer Style
"Sex Business Vote Could Affect Races".
"Master of Campaign Hokum"
"Crist is the master of campaign hokum, and it's taken him from the state Senate to statewide elections as education commissioner and attorney general to the precipice of the governor's mansion. Long derided as a lightweight with a tenuous grasp of issues, the St. Petersburg lawyer is riding his 'nice guy' label as the heavyweight in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Jeb Bush, with sizable leads in the polls and in fundraising." "Crist aims to prove that a 'nice guy' can finish first".
"[T]he battle over conflicting education reforms is entirely of their own making. In their hands, the standardized test has become a blunt instrument intended to beat diverse schools into identical shapes, and the Bush brothers are pounding away from different angles."
This year, 72 percent of Florida schools failed the federal standard. More than 500 of them have failed four years in a row, which begins to trigger a requirement that the schools be closed or restructured or taken over by the state. ..."Competing standards".
In Florida, for example, 712 of the schools the federal law deems as failing this year are in line to receive millions of dollars in bonuses from a state system that grades them with an A. How is a principal or a classroom teacher expected to reconcile these contradictions?
It Is Father's Day ...
so we get a little "Daddy Tom".
"Gov. Bush and the other three members of Florida's clemency board will receive a packet of information this week. It will ask that the board allow Department of Corrections inmate K63957 to serve the remaining three-plus years of his sentence on house arrest. There is a case for the board to say no. There is a better case for the board to say yes." "".
" Liberal Rod Smith?"
"Term limits have opened the door for three new candidates to make pitches for why they should go to bat for Hollywood in the state House of Representatives." "3 bid to replace Rep. Sobel".
"Private toll road would blaze trail in state".
"She Was Weird"
"Associated Industries president Barney Bishop's assessment is not the kind candidates like to hear. 'She was weird,' Bishop said. 'She didn't score any points with us.' During a question-and-answer session, Bishop said, Storms was asked whether she favored a return to the days of Prohibition." "Storms, business group clash on question of Prohibition".
On Jebbie's desk:
Among other things, the bill would:"Those who plan for old age deserve protection".
- Require insurance companies to charge the same premium to the oldest customers as the newest. They now base their premiums on "blocks" of customers, then close off those blocks to new policies. So the premiums keep going up as the block grows older.
- Force insurers to give customers another option besides paying rate increases or dropping their policy. Customers would be able to choose to drop back to a lower level of benefits for a lower premium.
- Bar insurers from denying claims based on alleged fraud made in the original application once a policy has been in force for two years. That's how life insurance works.
House Bill 947 is in front of Gov. Jeb Bush, who must decide in the next few days whether to let it become law or veto it. The governor is under heavy pressure from the insurance industry. Florida would be the first state to adopt such a law.
Is "Dumb" Off the Table?
"Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland gave Leon County Democrats what they wanted - blistering attacks on President Bush and congressional Republicans - at the local party's first annual fundraising dinner."
"For any of the Bush brothers to call a Democrat stupid is like a frog calling somebody ugly," Cleland said. Local Democrats have called the governor lots of things over the years, but not dumb."Cleland draws gasps".
"The earthen berm that protects cities from Lake Okeechobee 'bears a striking resemblance to Swiss cheese,' three engineering experts say. So, what if the big storm comes?" "Does Florida's flood lurk behind this wall?".
Maybe we ought to start worrying about the legal immigration to Florida, starting with the folks who sneak across state lines and hide out in "The Villages"
With polls showing widespread discontent with President Bush and the Republican Congress, even among Republicans, you might expect some unhappiness around here. After all, the pastel stuccoed homes in the Villages are filled with conservatives who were outraged by the ethical controversies of the Clinton years. They should feel the same way about Tom DeLay, right?"Where the base is safe for GOP ".
Jebbie is really ramping up the spin:
Bush put education at the top of his list of achievements."Bush thanks Santa Rosa's GOP faithful at Milton event".
"Republicans value education," he said. "That was one of our fiercest reforms -- that every child receive a year's worth of knowledge in a year's time."
Bush also touted his administration's fiscal responsibility, including cutting 11,000 state jobs.
"In the last seven years, Florida's government has not grown faster than the people's ability to pay for it, and I'm proud of that," he said.