[Note To Readers: Our daily review of Florida political news and punditry will resume Monday, July 24.]
"The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) picked Lee over Democratic rival Alex Sink, powered by what union spokesman Doug Martin said was a 'good working relationship with Lee.'" This may have had something to do with it:
Although Sink has promised to scale-back the wholesale privatization of state services that has gone on under Bush -- antagonizing the workers' union -- she also skipped the organization's endorsement meeting earlier this summer. 'I guess she took our endorsement for granted,' Martin added."Changing Times". See also "A Big Union Backs Tom Lee for CFO", "State workers union backs GOP candidate" and "Large state workers union surprises in CFO race with Lee endorsement".
The Florida AFL-CIO, the statewide labor organization in which AFSCME plays a prominent role, has endorsed Sink: "The Florida union representing more than 100,000 government workers endorsed Republican Tom Lee for the state's chief financial officer Thursday, surprising other unions that have thrown their support behind Democratic challenger Alex Sink. ... Florida AFL-CIO President Cindy Hall gave Lee an 'F' grade for efforts on union members' behalf during the legislative session that ended in May. She said AFSCME's endorsement is inexplicable." "Union's support for Lee stuns Florida labor leader".
"A developer agreed to limit sprawl on a huge conservation project in exchange for the Sierra Club agreeing to not demand lower density levels on the purchase." "Land deal demand dropped".
Smith's Small Liability?
"Smith's small-town sensibilities could be big-time liabilities for him in the Sept. 5 primary against a congressman from Tampa, Jim Davis. With a smaller political base and fundraising network, Smith is the underdog at a time when Democrats are desperate for victory in the GOP-dominated capital."
As he campaigns for governor of the nation's fourth largest state, Democratic state Sen. Rod Smith often jokes about his stagnant hometown of Alachua, population 6,098."Small-town roots could entangle governor candidate". See also "Smith hits road with a passion".
"When someone got pregnant, someone else left town," he says.
His statewide bus tour this week showed that his small-town, North-Central Florida roots are a large part of his popular appeal -- and his potential undoing.
He's a different kind of Democrat, supporters say, who can win over parts of the state where other Democrats have failed. From the Gadsden County Courthouse to the Live Oak train depot to a Pensacola diner that vows "no grits, no glory," supporters gushed over his folksy demeanor and sensitivity to small-town and rural issues.
Gallagher: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher promises higher pay for teachers, more power for principals and an emphasis on math and science in his latest TV ad focused on education." "Gallagher's latest ad focuses on education". See also "Gallagher's New TV Ad".
Crist: "The radio ad is the first by any major candidate for governor to air in Miami-Dade County and is meant to introduce voters to Crist. By airing it on Spanish-language radio first, Crist, who has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, is marching ahead with his strategy to reach out to Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade who will be a decisive bloc during the GOP primary" "ADWATCH: A Miami Herald look at candidates' campaign ads this political season".
One Last Shot
"The final day of Rod Smith's bus tour brings another jab from the Jim Davis campaign. It asserts Smith voted with other lawmakers to "raid" $20-million from the hurricane catastrophe fund in 2001, resulting in higher insurance rates." "Davis: Smith raided CAT fund". See also "Davis slams rival's voting record" ("Davis said Thursday that his rival for the Democratic nomination for governor has voted wrong on environmental issues and has been too helpful to the insurance industry.")
See "Rod Smith vs. Jim Davis" ("During Rod Smith's three-day bus tour, his Democratic primary rival dispatched daily e-mail attacks. Here are Jim Davis' accusations and Smith's responses").
"Huge reservoir to restore flow to the Everglades".
"St. Petersburg's Max Linn, president of Florida Citizens for Term Limits, filed papers Thursday as a Reform Party candidate for governor, and will get help from former campaign staff of one-time Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and presidential contender Ross Perot." "Reform to the Max". See also "Pinellas activist joins governor's race".
"Opening a window into how he intends to lead Southwest Florida's Catholics, Bishop-select Frank J. Dewane said Thursday he would not deny Holy Communion to pro-choice politicians, but would continue the church's fight against abortion." "New bishop plans to be vocal politically".
"Towns blight themselves by legalizing discrimination"
"It's a distasteful trend. States and towns across the country are manipulating the law to go after illegal immigrants."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 57 pieces of legislation have passed in more than two dozen states (out of 500 introduced) to restrict or cut off employment, health, housing and other benefits to illegal immigrants. Towns are rewriting trespassing, rental, code enforcement and permitting ordinances to literally exclude illegal immigrants from town and declare themselves -- as one small Cape Cod, Mass., town did -- "not a sanctuary for illegal aliens.""Black-listing illegals". See also "A Town Without Pity And Sense" and "Immigration debate heated in Palm Bay".
Next Monday, the City Council in Avon Park, a town half-way between Orlando and Lake Okeechobee, is scheduled to vote on just such a far-reaching ordinance, the culmination of a debate that has triggered national publicity and ugly reactions, none of those flattering to the American ideals of inclusion and fairness. Antagonism against illegal immigrants shrouds itself in righteous language: "They" should play by the rules, "they" are destroying the fabric of American life, "they" are taking jobs away from Americans. But it's racial and ethnic prejudice, an attempt to use legalese to discriminate against the country's growing Latino population, and to use illegal immigrants as the emotional wedge.
"Republican Tom Gallagher poked fun at his own gubernatorial campaign themes Thursday during an appearance at Tallahassee's Tiger Bay political club. Gallagher, who has anchored his candidacy on pro-family issues and draws a contrast with rival Charlie Crist, who is unmarried and childless, introduced himself to the crowd this way:"
"In case you missed it, I'm Tom Gallagher. I'm married. And I have a 7-year-old son. As a married man with a 7-year-old son, I'm a father." "Family Man".
On The Attack
"Republican Tom Gallagher, stepping up his campaign to be Florida's next governor, went on the attack Thursday, deriding primary opponent and front-runner Charlie Crist for providing 'bumper sticker answers' to Florida's insurance crisis." "Gallagher goes on attack".
Smith and Jones
"State Sen. Rod Smith on Thursday wrapped up a three-day, 1,129-mile bus trip across the state that was intended to raise the profile of his gubernatorial campaign by winning the support of a former Senate colleague, Daryl Jones of Miami. Jones' endorsement is significant in that he is seen as a potential running mate for Smith, an Alachua County lawyer and lawmaker who is running in the Sept. 5 Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa." "Smith ends state tour with big endorsement".
"For the Republican Party to attempt to buy seats on the Pinellas School Board is offensive enough if big money alone were the issue. But its $50,000 down payment this summer comes in school elections that, by state constitutional mandate, are nonpartisan. ... If political parties can dump $50,000 into low-budget races in which all other contributions are limited to $500, then the parties will hijack nonpartisan school elections. That's not what voters intended, and lawmakers shouldn't allow it." "Partisan interference".
"New in mailboxes in Florida Thursday was a full-color, four-page mailer from the Florida Democratic Party promoting Rod Smith's candidacy, asking 'Are you ready for a straight-talking Governor who gets the job done?'" "Smith: 'Straight-Talking Governor'".
"The provision naming federal 'preclearance' jurisdictions - including Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe counties in Florida - requires those jurisdictions to prove to the Department of Justice that any change to redistricting, annexation, at-large elections, reregistration requirements, polling place changes and new rules for candidate qualifying doesn't have a discriminatory purpose or effect before the change can be implemented." "Voting Rights Act affects five Florida counties".
GOoPers In A Stem Cell Bind
"President Bush's veto this week of legislation to expand federally supported embryonic stem cell research has exposed a rift in the Republican Party and provided fresh grist for Florida's political campaigns, especially the governor's race and a high-stakes South Florida congressional contest." "Governor hopefuls divided on Bush's stem-cell veto".
"Rep. Clay Shaw and his Democratic opponent disagree on many issues. But they both decry President Bush's veto of a bill to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research." "GOP congressman unhappy over stem-cell research veto".
"Accusations flew in a state Senate race Thursday, with a political consultant saying candidate Rep. Irving Slosberg had taken too much credit for hurricane relief and Slosberg countering that the consultant was simply upset at not being hired." "Slosberg rapped on Wilma claims".
Could It Be Politics
"After the House speaker doles out $638,000, the Senate leader holds staff merit increases to $115,000." "Lee tighter on Senate bonuses".
Jebbie Isn't "Going to Protect Florida"
The Palm Beach Post: "The deal Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., negotiated to protect the state's coastline from oil and gas drilling could offer many of the protections in a bill the state's other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, filed in February. But Sen. Martinez threw away guaranteed protection through 2012, banking on the hope that fellow Republicans who are tight with the energy industry won't hijack his deal".
A better strategy would have been to not make the deal in the first place. A moratorium on offshore drilling remains in effect until 2012, though some central Gulf areas could open next year. If Sen. Martinez had not acted, the moratorium would remain. Now, all the balls are in the air again. Despite Sen. Martinez' "hope" that Republican leaders won't sell out Florida, Rep. Pombo could trade paradise for rigs in closed-door negotiations."'Hope' on oil drilling not enough for Florida".
President Bush and Gov. Bush aren't going to protect Florida. The president consistently backs the energy industry, and Gov. Bush has treated Rep. Pombo as Florida's ally. Since Sen. Martinez has rolled the dice, it is his responsibility to see that they don't come up snake eyes, leaving Florida the loser.
"When Randall Terry came to Tallahassee this week to file papers to run for the state Senate, he brought what might seem unlikely friends -- two write-in candidates for the same seat." "Candidate brings write-ins for GOP-only vote in state race".
Realtors For Gallagher
"Tom Gallagher's gubernatorial campaign announced backing today from '160 Floridians who will make up the Gallagher Realtors and Homeowners Association.'" "Gallagher Rolls Out Realtor Backing".