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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 Saturday, August 19, 2006

Crist Disses Christian Coalition

    Can Charlie continue to burn the candle at both ends?
    The conservative credentials of Charlie Crist, already under scrutiny in rival Tom Gallagher's campaign commercials, are likely to be examined anew for his indirect answers to a questionnaire from the Christian Coalition of Florida.

    The Christian Coalition expects to distribute at least 1.5-million of its voter guide in churches, bookstores and radio stations starting Monday, just two weeks before the Sept. 5 primary. Of the seven questions that will be profiled in the guide, Crist, the state's attorney general, will be listed as "not responding" to four of them, said Bill Stephens, the group's executive director.
    "Coalition survey roils GOP campaign".

    In the meantime, "Two state legislators and two anti-abortion activists backing Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher for governor said Friday that Attorney General Charlie Crist's past pro-choice positions should make Republican voters worry that he will name 'activist' judges to the Florida Supreme Court." "Abortion stance enters gubernatorial race".

    Mark Your Calendars

    "The major Republican and Democratic candidates for governor of Florida will participate in televised debates on Tuesday and Wednesday. The hourlong programs will take place at the studios of WEDU in Tampa and be broadcast over most public television stations around the state, with a simulcast by many public radio stations." "Gubernatorial debates on TV next week".

    Gelber Responds ...

    to Jebbie's silly guest column in the Washington Post in "In Education, Florida Moved the Bull's-Eye". Among Gelber's points:

    - "According to federal statistics, while Bush's self-labeled 'A+ plan' has been in place, Florida's high school graduation rate is dead last in the nation for the second consecutive year. When confronted with this devastating statistic, rather than try to figure out why our kids aren't graduating, Jeb Bush's administration called for an overhaul of the way high school graduation rates are calculated."

    - "Florida's teachers are paid more than $6,000 below the national average. Asked about this statistic, the administration called for an overhaul of the way teacher salaries are calculated nationwide."

    - "For the past seven years, school grades were premised almost entirely on whether schools moved students to minimal competence in primarily two subjects. Administrators and teachers became totally obsessed with devoting resources to get students to pass, and only pass, those few subjects tested. Other core subjects are ignored. Enrichment and advanced programs are becoming scarcer."

    - Florida "has basically shot the arrow into a wall and drawn a bull's-eye around it. Other states could do well by avoiding Florida's example."

    More in this AP piece today: "Florida lags in No Child Left Behind, Jeb wants law changed".

    Air War

    "After weeks of holding back to save money, the Democratic candidates for governor -- Jim Davis and Rod Smith -- have begun airing waves of television commercials. Their Republican rivals -- Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher -- have been on the air for more than a month, but their tone became noticeably sharper this week. And a pair of televised debates, which will be broadcast across the state, will take place in the next 10 days." "Can TV enliven ho-hum election?".

    Not Holding My Breath

    I seem to recall Bill McBride having difficulty with this issue, and look forward to seeing the mini-Russerts and other Florida media types savaging Crist over this issue:

    In an election season rife with big promises, Charlie Crist's biggest commitment is one he spends little time discussing. The Republican frontrunner for governor wants to double spending on teacher bonuses, double the homestead exemption, lock up more criminals and cut your taxes. But his biggest-ticket promise thus far has been to end four years of GOP reluctance to fund the multibillion-dollar mandate to shrink class sizes that Florida voters approved in 2002.
    "Class size key issue in governor's race".

    I'm not holding my breath - don't expect either Florida's media, let alone "Jeb!" and the Jebbites, to have much to say about Charlie (I never supported a tax increase) Crist's silence on this issue.

    Jebbie's Pollster Gets a New Gig

    Joementum hires Jebbie's pollster.

    Tramm's Timing

    "As political crises go, this one is pretty bad. While the severity of congressional candidate Tramm Hudson's comments about blacks and their ability to swim was being debated in political circles, the timing of the comments becoming public was not. Early voting for the Sept. 5 primary starts Monday. With little time to respond, Hudson is in a position where the remarks made public this week could cost him votes, said Michael Shannon, a media crisis consultant based in Virginia.
    " "Timing couldn't be much worse for Hudson campaign".


    "Pinellas County developer Peter Monroe, a former bureaucrat in the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations, said the United States went into Iraq 'under false pretenses.'" But, "the other three Republicans in the race — U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Longboat Key, retired Adm. LeRoy Collins Jr. of Tampa and Orange County attorney Will McBride — have all said the invasion was justified. So has Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, who points to intelligence information given at the time." "GOP Senate hopefuls similar on Iraq".

    Secret World

    "Secret political organizations are outraising the major candidates for statewide public office, setting the stage for a campaign rife with shifty attacks from well-financed special interests." "The secret world of campaign financiers".


    "There was little room for middle ground Friday in a fiery debate pitting Democratic County Commissioner Burt Aaronson against the county's Republican Party chairman on embryonic stem cell research, an issue that has landed on several platforms this political season."

    Aaronson and Sid Dinerstein held their party lines in the half-hour exchange at a luncheon of business professionals, though both said the topic transcends politics. The exchange was not without a rehashing of old insults and an unexpected outburst from the audience.

    Anthony Cutaia -- whose wife founded Citizens for Science and Ethics to oppose state funding for the research -- interrupted Aaronson's opening remarks with an invitation to debate him instead. Moments earlier, Cutaia applauded when Aaronson, recounting a newspaper quote by Dinerstein, said, "I guess I'm a murderer" for supporting embryonic stem cell research.
    "Debate over embryonic stem cell research gets personal".

    Fraud Secret

    "Congressional candidate Vern Buchanan convinced a judge Friday to keep a six-year-old lawsuit sealed, leaving even the case's most basic details out of public view before the Sept. 5 primary. The sealed court file includes a fraud allegation against Buchanan, an auto dealer who touts his reputation as a self-made businessman as he seeks to replace U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in District 13." "Buchanan file will stay sealed".

    In the meantime, "Buchanan fattens his campaign coffer again".

    Alex Diaz de la Portilla

    "The battle between the Florida Elections Commission and Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla will go on. On Friday, the commission voted 5-1 to fine the Miami Republican $8,750 for 17 campaign violations stemming from his 1999 election to the state Senate. Diaz de la Portilla, blasting the commission as a 'kangaroo court,' said he planned to appeal the ruling." "Diaz de la Portilla vows to keep fighting". See also "Senator fined $8,750; appraiser fares better".

    Harris "Foul Up"

    "Despite their insistence to the contrary Thursday evening, the Katherine Harris campaign said today that State Sen. Daniel Webster had never agreed to endorse Harris in her bid for the U.S. Senate."

    Harris spokeswoman Jennifer Marks said "mistakes have been made" and that Webster should not have been included on a flier listing officials who were supporting her. Thursday, Harris and her staff had repeatedly said Webster had agreed to endorse the Longboat Key Republican in the GOP primary. Webster, however, supports one of her challengers -- Orlando lawyer Will McBride -- and has done so since he entered the race in May.

    Marks would not explain the nature of the foul up.
    "Harris camp backs off on Webster nod". See also "Harris campaign: No Webster support" and "Um, Katherine...Part 2".

    This doesn't help: "Harris blames phantom tree for low turnout at rally". And this is plain mean, "Gone totally Katherine Harris crazy": "The Urban Dictionary, an online resource for only the hippest words and phrases recently added the term "Katherine Harris crazy" to its lexicon." The definition: "As insanely optimistic as Congresswoman Katherine Harris. Usually characterized by an overly optimistic estimation of someone's chances of achieving success."

    Meanwhile, "Harris diehards admire her for many things, but especially respect her fortitude under pressure.". "In dark days, they love her even more".

    "16 First Dates"

    "Want a date with Tom Gallagher, Katherine Harris, LeRoy Collins, Ric Keller, Dean Cannon, Sandy Adams or Lee Constantine? Next time, attend the East Orange County Chamber of Commerce candidate breakfast. You gotta give the chamber some kudos. Rather than the traditional, stand-and-give-a-stump-speech seen at most events, the chamber Friday subjected candidates to a version of 'speed dating,'". "16 First Dates".

    HD 69 "Pole Dancer"

    Republican campaign tactics:

    County Commissioner David Mills said he didn't start the rumor that School Board member Laura Benson was a "pole dancer" -- he only passed it along.

    And after he was confronted by Benson on Thursday night before a roomful of fellow Republicans, he apologized and admitted it was the wrong thing to do.

    "The whole thing is in very bad taste on my part," said Mills, who mailed an apology letter to Benson. "We feel very badly about it."

    Mills admits that he told a local newspaper editorial board that he had heard that Benson had been married five times and was once a pole dancer. ...

    Mills and Benson are running for the House District 69 seat being vacated by Donna Clarke, who is running for Congress. The winner of the Sept. 5 Republican primary will face Democrat Keith Fitzgerald.
    "Candidate apologizes for spreading rumor".

    McBride Money

    "U.S. Senate candidate Will McBride tells the Buzz he pumped $660,000 of his own money into his uphill battle to beat Rep. Katherine Harris this week. The Orlando lawyer had already put in $68,000." "McBride throws in some more money".

    Jumping Ship

    "Republican Tom Gallagher lost one of his Central Florida leaders Friday, when lawyer and lobbyist Fred Leonhardt jumped from the campaign and endorsed Charlie Crist in the governor's race." "A Leader Leaves". See also "Leonhardt, Roberts Join Crist Campaign", "Gallagher leader resigns" and "Keeping the Focus on Conservative" ("With his campaign for governor staggered by another high-profile defection this morning, supporters of Republican Tom Gallagher organized a conference call with reporters to try and keep attention focused on what Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa, called opponent Charlie Crist's 'moderate to liberal' record.")

    Crist quickly capitalized: "Crist touts Gallagher's Orlando defector".

    Bottom line: who really gives a hoot about a fatcat GOP lobbyist who jumps ship to retain access with the candidate he thinks is going to win the primary? One must assume he has already done as much fundraising as he could (for Gallagher), so who really cares if he crawls on his hands and knees into Charlie's camp?

    Lake County

    "Lake County GOP primary won't be open to Democrats". For more on closed primaries, see this editorial in today's PBP: "Restore power to voters ".


    Crist and Gallagher's "political records show both men have taken positions on both sides of the hotly charged abortion issue and they now offer different views as to what they might do if they were elected governor." "Gallagher and Crist both morph on abortion".

    Crist Backers

    "The outdoor rally in Pensacola drew hundreds of supporters. Besides McCain, a likely GOP candidate for president in 2008, Crist was joined by U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, an Orlando Republican who is ardently opposed to abortion and embryonic stem cell research." "McCain, Martinez stand up for Crist".

    The Storm Name

    "Front-Runner Storms To Trade On Her Name Recognition".

    GOP Consultant Goes Down

    "A leading Republican campaign consultant who helped wage a last-minute campaign to try to defeat the 2004 slots amendment has paid $12,000 in fines to settle two cases before the Florida Election Commission. The commission on Friday morning approved two separate consent orders with Roger Pennington, the chairman of the Committee to Restore Integrity in Politics. Pennington is a well-known political consultant and owner of a direct-mail firm who has worked on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida as well as Republican candidates." "Slots opponent agrees to pay fines".

    Trib Endorses Collins

    "For Senate, LeRoy Collins Jr. Trumps Dramatic, Erratic Harris".

    Campaign Cash

    "The newest round of fundraising numbers for the governor's race are in, and it's more of the same: Republicans Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher were far apart, while Democrats Jim Davis and Rod Smith were pretty close. Crist raised $158,000 over the last week and, with just over two weeks to go, has $4.6 million in the bank. Gallagher raised $22,000 and has $2.5 million remaining. Davis, meanwhile, raised $57,000 and has $2.3 million left. And Smith raised $81,000 (though $42,000 of that came in the form of public matching money, which the other candidates are still due) and has $300,000 in left." "Another Week's Worth of Fundraising". See also "Crist maintains huge lead in fundraising" ("Charlie Crist's fundraising machine continued its record pace Friday, with the latest campaign finance records showing he raised nearly as much as the other three gubernatorial candidates combined") and "New round in never-ending case against senator".

    Sink looks good in the CFO race: "CFO hopefuls count their cash ".

    It is of note that Davis has $2.35-million cash on hand compared to Smith's $302,000. "Rolling (and not rolling) in Cash".

    Klein v. Shaw

    "So with immigration such a visible and unresolved problem in the 22nd Congressional district, why isn't it more of an issue in the campaign between Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw and his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Ron Klein? In part, it's because the men have similar positions. Klein does not support amnesty or a guest worker program; Shaw backed the House bill that had no provisions for an amnesty program." "Immigration a no-show in the Shaw/Klein race?" See also "Illegal immigrants a 'burden,' Shaw says".

    Oppo Research

    "The Smith campaign has found an old Legislative vote that shows that back in 1993 Jim Davis voted to preserve the Rodman Dam while conducting a study on a dam. Also Davis voted for preserving it in a 1995 budget bill, says the Smith campaign (using a tactic perfected by the Davis campaign of attacking a vote on an issue buried within a big budget). Davis is now a proponent of restoring the Ocklawaha River." "Davis and the Dam".

    The CFO Race

    "Two lawmakers, financial adviser vie in GOP primary for CFO".

    Jumping the Gun

    "Bush reinstated a death warrant Thursday for condemned killer Clarence Hill and prison officials scheduled his execution for next month although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the inmate can challenge the state’s method of lethal injection." "Gov. Bush reinstates Hill death warrant although appeal pending".

    GOP Front Group

    "The 30-second ads, which are being paid for by the Florida Police Benevolent Association and its Miami-Dade and Palm Beach affiliates, focus on the Republican attorney general's crime-fighting credentials, such as Crist's support for stricter sentencing." "Outside Ads Help Crist". See also "PBA and Dobson ads".

    Note: it is curious that the PBA would spend its cash on Crist, who hardly needs it, instead of Smith (whom the PBA endorsed some time ago), wgho really needs the cash in his race with Davis. Further evidence that the PBA is largely an arm of the Florida GOP.


    "But if gambling companies try to rig elections and make suckers out of the voters, that's a different matter. A three-judge panel of Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal was right this month to reinstate a lawsuit that could shut down four casinos preparing to open in Broward County." "Cheating the constitution".

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