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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Two New Polls

    Two new pools on the heels of the Mason-Dixon poll. The latest Q Poll:
    Republican Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis hold more than 20-point leads in their respective races for the gubernatorial nomination among likely primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

    Crist leads Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher 55 - 32 percent among likely Republican primary voters, including leaners, and 47 - 29 percent among all registered Republicans, according to the independent Quinnipiac University poll, down from a 49 - 21 percent Crist lead in a June 29 poll of registered Republicans.

    Davis leads Smith 47 - 19 percent among likely Democratic primary voters, with leaners, and 39 - 15 percent among all registered Democrats, compared to a 32 - 16 percent Davis lead June 29. But the Democratic race is more fluid because 33 percent of likely voters remain undecided and 64 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind.

    In general election matchups:

    * Crist leads Davis 44 - 38 percent, up from 41 - 39 in June, and leads Smith 45 - 36 percent, compared to 42 - 35 percent in June

    * Davis leads Gallagher 41 - 39 percent, compared to 42 - 35 percent in June.

    * Gallagher leads Smith 39 - 38, compared to a 39 - 36 percent Smith lead in June.
    July 26 2006 Q Poll. See also "Q Poll: Big Leads for Crist and Davis, "Poll: Crist builds lead that could carry over to general election" and "Q Poll: Big Crist, Davis Leads".

    A new Strategic Vision poll includes the following:
    1. Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's overall job performance?
    Approve 36%
    Disapprove 54%
    Undecided 10% ...

    16. If the election for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2006 were held today between Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, whom would you vote for? (Republicans only)
    Charlie Crist 57%
    Tom Gallagher 29%
    Undecided 14%

    17. If the election for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2006 were held today between Congressman Jim Davis and State Senator Rod Smith, whom would you vote for? (Democrats only)
    Jim Davis 40%
    Rod Smith 35%
    Undecided 25%

    18. If the election for Governor were between Charlie Crist, the Republican and Jim Davis, the Democrat, whom would you support?
    Charlie Crist 49%
    Jim Davis 39%
    Undecided 12%

    19. If the election for Governor were between Tom Gallagher, the Republican and Jim Davis, the Democrat, whom would you support?
    Tom Gallagher 40%
    Jim Davis 39%
    Undecided 21%

    20. If the election for Governor were between Charlie Crist, the Republican and Rod Smith, the Democrat, whom would you support?
    Charlie Crist 49%
    Rod Smith 41%
    Undecided 10%

    21. If the election for Governor were between Tom Gallagher, the Republican and Rod Smith, the Democrat, whom would you support?
    Tom Gallagher 40%
    Rod Smith 40%
    Undecided 20%
    Strategic Vision Florida Poll (07/26/06) ("poll results based on telephone interviews with 1200 likely voters in Florida, aged 18+, and conducted July 21-23, 2006. The margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.") See also "Poll shows drop in Harris lead" ("In wake of recent controversy, opposing candidate Will McBride jumps 16 percent [to 22 percent]").

    "Jeb!" Watch

    "Speculation Focuses On Jeb's Life After Office".

    Bense To Endorse Crist

    "House Speaker Allan Bense is expected to endorse Charlie Crist on Wednesday in the Republican primary for governor over rival Tom Gallagher." "The Right Stuff". See also "State speaker expected to back Crist".

    Smith Support

    "An activist group focused on black communities endorsed Democrat Rod Smith's campaign for governor Tuesday. The African-American Grassroots Committee, which is active in South Florida, has pledged to reach out to black voters on Smith's behalf by passing out palm cards, holding rallies and organizing turnout for the election, the campaign said." "Black Grassroots Group Sides with Smith".

    Smith on Election Reform

    "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith, eager to endear himself to party activists, is stepping up his calls to improve reliability and accessibility in Florida's election system. The former prosecutor and state senator from Gainesville has created a new Web site, aimed at improving the election process in the state most famous for botched elections." "Candidate launches Web site to seize on election issue". See also "7/26/2006 07:02:00 AM">Smith Jumps on Election Protection".

    It's a GOoper Thing ...

    you know, reducing voter turnout:

    A new Florida law imposing heavy fines for voter registration violations could suppress turnout in elections and hamper the ability of labor unions, grass roots groups and other organizations to sign up people who wouldn't ordinarily vote, a political science expert testified Tuesday.

    Yale University political science professor Donald Green also told a federal judge that the law makes it catastrophically risky for such groups to mount voter registration campaigns because of the high potential costs of violations.

    "It seems to trample on basic constitutional rights of association and expression," Green said at a hearing in federal court. "It's essentially like creating a political moat around certain kinds of groups. They simply will not conduct voter registration drives."

    Green, a registered Republican who has written a new book on voter turnout, testified on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida AFL-CIO and other groups and unions that are challenging the registration law that took effect Jan. 1. All of the witnesses who testified Tuesday were called by the groups challenging the law.
    "Expert: New law may reduce voter turnout". See also "Voting law hearing begins".

    Campaign Blogs and Casts

    "Gubernatorial candidates try out blogs, podcasts". And here's a campaign manager that is desperate to keep his job:

    "He's a 62-year-old-guy, but, man, this guy's hip," said Gallagher campaign spokesman Albert Martinez.

    Insurance Crisis

    "The hyperactive property insurance market already has South Florida homeowners taking on dramatically more expense. Its school districts, however, also are taking on dramatically more risk and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in coverage from just a year ago." "Schools feel tight squeeze of rising costs".

    Avon Park

    "Last-minute vote switch dooms migrant ordinance". See also "Avon Park Mayor Isn't Giving Up" and "Beyond the rhetoric" ("A reassuring voice of reason prevailed over the usual noisy rhetoric in the illegal immigration debate Monday night in Avon Park.")

    Charlie's New Ad

    The new "ad fails to mention that Crist has no detailed proposal on what to do about the state's insurance crisis, nor does it explain that some of his other plans are controversial and have run into opposition from a Republican Legislature. On property taxes, Crist wants to allow counties to double their homestead exemptions from $25,000 to $50,000 despite concerns that this will create imbalances in school funding." "Adwatch: A look at candidates' campaign ads this political season".

    Charlies 527 Friends

    "A company that runs private prisons in Florida is among the handful of donors that have quietly helped bankroll an effort to tout the 'conservative' credentials of Attorney General Charlie Crist to Republican voters."

    At the same time that Crist was touting his ''conservative'' record in a television ad, a mailer from a group called the Conservative Values Coalition began flooding mailboxes across the state in late June. Although the campaign has denied collaborating with the group, the mailer used phrases and even a photograph identical to one used by Crist in his television ad.

    Recently filed IRS records show that the coalition, a third-party group known as a 527 organization, took in more than $219,000, including $50,000 from The GEO Group, the Boca Raton company that runs two private prisons in the state and is building a third.
    "Prison group endorses Crist".

    Mason-Dixon Tidbits

    Political Pilse has some "tidbits from [the]Mason-Dixon/governor's race poll". "Bits of Polling Tid". More on Mason-Dixon's latest: "Polls show Harris losing GOP voters", "Nelson's lead over Harris widens in poll", "Harris resolute in spite of polls" and "Harris Losing Ground, Poll Says".

    Gallagher Announces That He's "Conservative"

    "Gallagher on New TV Ad: I'm Conservative". See it here.

    To Replace Harris

    "Longboat Key businessman Vern Buchanan is dropping another $700,000 of his own money into his bid to replace Katherine Harris in Congress." "Permalink">Buchanan puts $700,000 in campaign".

    "The Florida Police Benevelent Association has endorsed Republican Nancy Detert and Democrat Christine Jennings in the 13th Congressional District primaries, a spokesman for the police union said [Tuesday]." "Permalink">Florida PBA endorses Jennings, Detert".

    Four Views

    "The high cost of homeowners insurance has rocketed to one of the most talked-about items in the Florida governor's race. In debates, television commercials and stump speeches, the four major gubernatorial candidates emphasize how Citizens Property Insurance is a mess and how the entire homeowners insurance market isn't in much better shape." "Insurance policy: Four varied views".

    Wishfull Thinking

    "It may be a case of wishful thinking, but some Florida Republicans are contemplating what could be the most bizarre turn yet in Rep. Katherine Harris' beleaguered run for the U.S. Senate. According to their speculation, Harris would withdraw from the race if she wins the GOP primary Sept. 5. State Republican Party executives would then appoint a replacement for Harris, an option under Florida's newly revised election law. That replacement would face incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, in the November general election." "Harris win could pose bizarre twist".

    House Races

    "National Journal's latest ranking of the 50 Congressional seats with the greatest potential for party shifts includes four Florida races". "Ranking those U.S. House Races".

    Nelson, Martinez Split on Drilling

    "This is where Martinez and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who likes the substance of the Senate bill, differ on tactics."

    Nelson has filed an amendment that would prohibit a conference with the House on the issue, meaning either the Senate bill would be passed or nothing.

    Martinez believes that confronting the House is not the way to go. He would allow the two sides to meet to try to settle their differences, but he apparently draws a firm line on what he would give up: nothing. "If an agreement comes out of conference that does not protect Florida, I will join Sen. Nelson in a filibuster (to delay a drilling bill), but it is counterproductive to purposefully antagonize the House," Martinez said.

    That appears to be the first sign of a split between the two senators, which could weaken Florida's position. Maybe Martinez's approach is best, to give the House a chance to offer a handshake on the Senate offer, but Nelson's reluctance is understandable.
    "Showdown on drilling". See also "Hands off bill, beaches" ("Nelson's answer is legislation to keep the Senate from participating in the conference committee and to ask that the House pass the Senate version of the gulf drilling rules. Critics have complained that Florida is asking for special, undeserved protection. In fact, Florida doesn't want Congress to make the state pay for Washington's failure to develop a comprehensive energy policy. That won't happen if the Senate keeps the drilling bill from going into the House shredder.")

    "Calamity Tomorrow"

    "Bush and the Legislature shouldn't wait to address the insurance crisis now hitting businesses and threatening Florida's economy. In the last month, companies -- large and small -- have discovered that their insurance rates have skyrocketed, if coverage is available at all. This urgent problem needs to be addressed before the economic damage is irreversible." "Insurance crisis now, calamity tomorrow".

    Soaring Tax Rates

    "Broward officials, residents seek solutions to soaring property tax rates". In the meantime, "Realtors report existing home sales down 29 percent in Florida".

    "Movers and Shakers"

    "Less than a year old, the Democratic Professionals Forum draws hundreds to sold-out monthly luncheons that feature the party's top national names. It's aimed at diversifying the local Democratic Party's base from the senior-heavy crowds and attracting 'fresh, new Democrats,' said Wendi Lipsich, the forum's vice-chairwoman and an aide to U.S. Rep Robert Wexler, of Boca Raton." "Democrats' forum lures 'movers and shakers'".

    Wingnut Infighting

    "The Executive Director of The National Pro-Life Action Center, the nation's only pro-life initiative located on Capitol Hill, has responded to the expected endorsement of Jim King for Florida State Senate by Gov. Jeb Bush. Dr. Paul Chaim Schenck, the Executive Director of the Center, which is a joint project of Catholics United for Life, Priests for Life and Faith and Action (with a combined membership of over 250,000), issued the following statement -"

    "Shame, shame on Jeb Bush for betraying the memory of Terri Schindler Schiavo by endorsing Jim King. As Senate president, King had the power to protect Terri, but for cynical political purposes he did not. Now Jeb Bush wants us to forget that King was largely responsible for Terri's death. Bush should know that King does not support the sanctity of life - he endorses Roe V. Wade."
    "National Pro-Life Leader Criticizes Bush-King Endorsement".

    What Election?

    "What if they gave an election, and nobody needed to vote?"

    Florida isn't at that point, but the story again this election year is how few elections there are when it comes to the Legislature. After last week's qualifying, a majority of the 2007 Legislature had been elected. ...

    One reason for a non-election election may be that the incumbent is all-powerful and all-popular. More often in Florida, though, the problem is that the district is all-safe. Partisan redistricting, which politicians use to choose their voters, has cut the number of competitive districts and discouraged challengers. Also, the Legislature wrongly allows write-in candidates to close primaries when the candidates are only from the same major party. Both parties use the loophole by finding put-up write-ins for the sole purpose of making the turnout smaller.
    "Election? What election?".


    "Clad in spandex bike shorts and a bright yellow jersey, Glenn Burkett is a tanned, buff millionaire on a 1,000-mile mission. Burkett is bicycling his way from the Panhandle to the Keys, and the 56-year-old has no doubt where the end of the road will be for him: the Governor's Mansion, where he says God wants him." "Tallahassee outsider tries cycling his way in".

    Lawyers, Doctors Heart Crist

    "The Republican gubernatorial candidate has raised more than $1 million for his campaign over the last two years from prosecutors, defense lawyers and some of the biggest trial attorneys in Florida. But he is also the son of doctor, has raised $440,000 from physicians, and has benefited when over the weekend Florida's largest medical group decided to throw its lot in with the Republican frontrunner. Crist has taken licks for accepting trial-lawyer contributions from conservatives aligned with his GOP opponent, Tom Gallagher. But the endorsement from the political arm of the 17,000-member Florida Medical Association gives the attorney general political cover from charges that he would saddle up with plaintiff lawyers." "Support from medical group may balance Crist's lawyer donations".

    Pinellas Dems

    "The Pinellas Democratic Party chose Ed Helm, a former Labor Department lawyer, as its chairman Tuesday night. Helm takes over with the primary election just six weeks away and with an unprecedented number of open local seats being contested." "Pinellas Democrats pick new chairman".

    "Agriculture-environment partnership"?

    "Rod Smith thinks he's the man to bridge the gap between agriculture and environmental interests, long at odds over how to preserve Florida's green spaces and maintain clean water." "Smith proposes agriculture-environment partnership".

    Bright Futures

    "Smith, a state senator from Alachua, said the program should be based in part on family income in an effort to increase the number of minorities using the program. Pruitt has opposed tinkering with Bright Futures. Should Smith take office in January as Florida's next governor he does not expect to get much help in changing the program until Pruitt steps down as Senate president in November 2008." "Bright Futures untouchable now, Smith says".

    Mack Endorsement

    "Connie Mack Endorses Crist For Govenor".

    Stem Cells In The States

    In Florida, stem cell research is a rare point of contention between two Republicans vying to succeed the president’s brother Jeb as governor. But when one of them, Attorney General Charlie Crist, announced that he “respectfully” disagreed with the veto, his rival Tom Gallagher, the chief financial officer, accused Mr. Crist of taking “every opportunity to disagree with the governor and the mainstream of the party.”

    Meanwhile, Rod Smith, the Florida state senator who is the Democratic candidate for governor, promised, “When I become governor, we are absolutely going to do stem cell research and we are going to fund it in this state.”
    "Stem Cell Work Gets States’ Aid After Bush Veto".

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