"How deep is Gov. Bush's capacity for revenge? Deep enough that the governor, who wants to bring Latinos into the Republican Party, would try to oust from the Legislature the man who not long ago stood to become the first Cuban-American president of the Florida Senate."
Unfortunately for Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, this year he crossed the governor on the class-size amendment and vouchers for private schools. He was correct on both. But when he cast the vote that kept repeal of the class-size amendment off the November ballot, and then did not provide what would have been the deciding vote on another amendment to nullify the Florida Supreme Court decision outlawing vouchers for religious schools, Sen. Villalobos lost his leadership position. A campaign that began last year to deny him the presidency picked up steam. Now, because the class-size and voucher issues were Gov. Bush's priorities, Sen. Villalobos also is in danger of losing his seat."Jeb High Executioner".
First, Gov. Bush and his allies lined up Miami-Dade County School Board member Frank Bolanos to challenge Sen. Villalobos in the Republican primary. While Sen. Villalobos has been the voice of younger, moderate Cuban-Americans who aren't obsessed with Fidel Castro, Mr. Bolanos recently voted to ban from Miami-Dade schools a book he considered too pro-Castro Cuba. A federal judge overturned the board's decision.
Then, the anti-Villalobos crowd recruited an assistant principal to enter the race as a write-in candidate and help close out Democratic voters from what could have been an "open primary." As The Miami Herald reported, Alejandro Rizo said, "If Alex Villalobos wants Democrat support, he can run as a Democrat." ...
If Sen. Villalobos loses, it will show how narrow the Republican Party in Florida has become. That narrowness has shown itself in votes to "save" Terri Schiavo, shift public money to private, religious schools and consistently back corporations over consumers.
In 2003, when Gov. Bush goaded the Senate to intervene in the Schiavo case, Sen. Villalobos objected, saying, "We're being asked to actually try a case without knowing the facts." Now, he has been judged guilty of moderation, and Gov. Bush, the Lord High Political Executioner, is ready to hand down the maximum penalty.
Charlie Denies He's Gay, Supports Civil Unions
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist told a radio talk-show host on Friday that civil unions between gays are 'fine.' Crist, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, added that he has not decided whether Florida should lift its long-standing ban on allowing gays to adopt children. He hasn't yet "reached a conclusion," he told Miami radio talk-show host Jim DeFede. 'Haven't taken a position yet,' Crist told DeFede." "Crist: Gay civil unions 'fine'".
"The ever-unflappable frontrunner didn't miss a beat when DeFede asked about talk Crist is gay: 'Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as they would say on Seinfeld, but I just happen not to be.'" "That Crist Tan".
Gallagher's Ethics Case
"The Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause Friday that state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher broke state ethics laws when he bought stocks in four companies that were either regulated by his office or had a contract with the state."
The commission concluded, however, that Gallagher neither abused nor misused his office when he purchased the stock, so the finding is likely to draw a recommendation from the commission that Gallagher pay a nominal fine or be reprimanded."Ethics panel: Gallagher didn't misuse office". See also "Ethics hearing next for CFO?", "Gallagher facing 2 ethics counts", "Gallagher hit by ethics-panel ruling", "Two ethics complaints plague CFO", "Ethics panel finds Gallagher stocks may have violated law", "Commission: Gallagher may have broken law" and "Gallagher Faces Ethics Charges Over Insurance Stocks".
The reason: Gallagher failed to sufficiently distance himself from Penn Treaty American, an insurance company that his office regulates, and Conseco Inc., which had a contract with the state.
Gallagher's attorney, Richard Coates, said the commission found probable cause on two other complaints that Gallagher violated ethics laws but recommended no further action: his purchase of stock in Nextel and in a software company, both of which had state contracts, which Gallagher would never have had a chance to review.
"Gallagher makes mastery of issues his focus".
"Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor continues to rake in the dough in her bid to replace Jim Davis in Congress as the District 11 representative. She took in another nearly quarter-million to raise her total to $910,543, appearing to tap those Emily's List donors who funneled money into her mother's U.S. Senate campaign two years ago. She has outraised her four Democratic candidates combined. More importantly, she still has $660,069 in the bank, more than three times her opponents' combined. That will give her that much more of edge in the blitzkrieg advertising days ahead. State Sen. Les Miller raised $50,595 in the quarter through July and has $171,770 left in the bank. Lawyers Scott Farrell and Michael Steinberg took in $20,503 and $8,489 respectively. Farrell has $26,880 left, Steinberg, $2,295." "Castor standing tall on fundraising in congressional campaign".
"Broward trial lawyer Walter 'Skip' Campbell and Orlando area lobbyist Ira 'Bill' McCollum, running for state attorney general, agree on this much: They both hate sexual predators." "Attorney general race shows opposites attack".
As for Campbell's last minute primary challenge, "McCollum's campaign does not buy Campbell's claim that he was taken by surprise. Without giving any specifics, campaign officials say they believe Campbell may have orchestrated Ehrlich's decision to jump into the race." "Last-minute run for attorney general raises questions".
"More than $6.5 million in taxpayer money flowed to nine candidates for statewide office Friday, as this year's big-money elections virtually assure a new record will be set for public matching funds. Florida's public-finance law was created in 1991 to help underfunded candidates run for statewide office and cap the cost of campaigning. But thanks to state lawmakers raising that cap, the law now helps rich candidates get richer." "9 state candidates get $6.5 million to spar". See also "State divvies election dollars" and "Crist rakes in $1.8 million matching funds".
"Regardless of the candidate, faith per se ought never be viewed as politically toxic - even though some seeking public office drape themselves in unholy robes in attempts to attract votes." "Faith-baked".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board proclaims today that:
University of Central Florida President John Hitt's 40 percent pay raise [to $450,000] may seem eye-popping, but it's well-deserved.Hitt may deserve the nearly half million a year, but there's something smarmy about this editorial. Perhaps it is that I don't seem to recall these same editors ever calling for wage increases for, say, theme park, hotel and other hospitality industry employees, many of whom are paid less than poverty level wages.
"The lawsuit is an attempt to get rid of a well-known loophole in election rules -- a loophole that advocacy groups like Common Cause of Florida and some state legislators are also trying to plug." "Democrats have goal: Close write-in loophole".
"He didn't get any special treatment."
"A top deputy at the Florida Division of Real Estate was fired earlier this month after state officials determined he lied on a state application, a spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation said Friday." "Real-estate official fired in application flap".
Country Clubbers Ecstatic
"AP: Bush signs intangibles tax repeal into law".
Voting Rights Lose Meaning
"It would be tempting to say the sparse hooting and hollering over the extension is because those for whom the Voting Rights Act was originally passed in 1965 don't give a hoot about casting votes. In Florida, in particular, there would be some truth to that: A recent report by the American Enterprise Institute notes that 'the rate at which Florida African-Americans registered to vote continues to be lower than in the rest of the nation.'" "Voting rights lose meaning if not exercised".
"Lt. Gov. Gelber?".
"State Rep. Charlie Justice hopes the politics of Terri Schiavo helps his chances in the closely watched Senate District 16 race. Speaking at a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club luncheon Thursday, Justice was quick to point out both his Republican opponents -- state Reps. Kim Berfield and Frank Farkas -- voted to intervene in the Schiavo case, while he did not." "Justice: It's about Schiavo".
Smith Beats Davis To Airwaves
"This is the first ad aired by either of the two major Democratic candidates for governor; the Republican candidates have been on television for weeks. Smith has less money than Davis but decided to beat him to the punch on TV in an effort to catch up in the polls. The Smith campaign spent about $700,000 on the commercial, which will run starting today for one week." "Campaign: Democratic primary for governor". See also "Smith launches his first television ad", "Smith to begin airing ads in Dem race for governor", "Smith kicks off TV campaign with folksy spot", "Smith attempts to edge ahead, airing his TV ad before Davis" and "Gallagher Faces Ethics Charges Over Insurance Stocks".
About the ad: "Ad Watch: Rod Smith campaign".Attention Deficit
"From flashlights to Web sites, Florida politicians seek voters' attention".
Nelson's Drilling Reprieve
"Floridians can breathe a little easier over the way the offshore drilling debate has gone in the Senate. At Sen. Bill Nelson's insistence, the leaders of both parties gave formal assurances of protection for the Florida coast. That doesn't make the Senate bill a good response to the energy challenges ahead, but it is much less of a threat to the state's environment and tourism industry than the House bill. " "A welcome reprieve on offshore drilling".
"President Bush to visit Florida next week".
Dirty Little Secret
"There's a dirty secret when it comes to how Floridians elect their legislators: most districts are drawn to favor one party or the other. That means in many districts, one party sits the race out, or has a candidate who doesn't have much of a chance. That means the decision on who will represent many voters actually takes place in the September primary, rather than November." "With many seats safe for one party, primaries where the action is".
"At Forum, Commission Candidates Asked About Gay Rights".
A Tough Job
"Katherine Harris' new campaign manager is an energetic young conservative best known for an anti-gay marriage initiative in Massachusetts and for bringing actor and National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston to speak at his liberal college." "New Campaign Manager Faces Challenge".