Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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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 Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Gallagher smells blood"

    Gallagher rallies the troops:
    Mike Murphy sounds excited on the phone. He is speaking with key supporters of Tom Gallagher Friday night, telling them that Charlie Crist's new commercial slamming Gallagher is good news for the campaign.

    And later, to a reporter, Murphy says Crist has "punched the panic button."

    If the Crist campaign was panicking last week, there were no signs of it. During a three-day campaign swing from Tampa to Jacksonville aboard a pair of luxury motor homes, Crist and his campaign team seemed to be regarding the Republican primary for governor as merely a required formality on the way to becoming the GOP nominee.

    But for Murphy, one of the nation's best-known Republican media consultants, Crist's new ad calling Gallagher "Taxing Tom" as well as "liberal, pro-choice and anti-gun" was a sign that Crist is seeing evidence that the race is getting closer. And almost on cue, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll Friday showing Gallagher just 10 points behind, compared with more than double that figure in earlier polls.

    The chamber poll, done by Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion Research of 500 likely Republican voters, found 39 percent supporting Attorney General Crist and 29 percent supporting Chief Financial Officer Gallagher. Undecided stood at 29 percent. The poll was conducted Aug. 23-24 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
    "Gallagher smells blood as poll numbers narrow". See also "Gallagher Campaign Struggles as End Near".


    The Miami Herald endorses Crist and Smith. See "The two main Republican candidates for governor, Charlie Crist and..." and "In 2006, the Democratic Party has its best chance since the days of...". See also "Herald backs Crist and Smith".

    The Tallahassee Democrat likes Davis and Crist.


    "Harris' 3 Challengers Are Tired Of Backseat". See also "McBride gaining in Senate bid".

    Outside Cash

    "The ability of Democrats to raise individual contributions from outside their state is especially evident in close, open seat races, where Democrats are seeking to win in formerly Republican-held districts. That fundraising outreach has helped make Democrats in these contests among the best financed candidates in this election, second only to Republican incumbents." Democrats Inspire Outsiders"".

    Barley's Been There

    "If there's anyone who can relate to what Jim Davis is going through right now, it's Mary Barley." "Ads backed by Big Sugar familiar to ex-candidate".


    "Zapata released a statement on Friday in which he complained that Democrats were promoting his comments to the media." But, it was

    Republican state Rep. Juan Zapata [who] said his own party has failed Floridians by not coming up with a solution to the state's insurance crisis and accused a fellow GOP lawmaker who has had a large role in insurance legislation of being "in the pocket of the insurance companies."

    Zapata, a Kendallite who has no opposition on the ballot this fall, was speaking last weekend at a meeting in Coral Gables in which state lawmakers were discussing the insurance problems many Floridians have faced in the last couple of years. After two years of hurricanes, rates have spiraled and companies have refused to write policies for many residents.
    "Lawmaker's candor stings".

    Beer Money

    Scott Maxwell: "Here's something for you to think about the next time you plunk down 60 bucks to visit SeaWorld. While Republican Tom Gallagher's campaign for governor is struggling, the theme park's parent company, Anheuser-Busch, recently dumped $40,000 into a group that has been helping Gallagher run for office. I'm not sure which is more disturbing: that Shamu backs Gallagher -- or that Anheuser-Busch is willing to waste that much money on a race that the whale stands a better chance of winning." "Gallagher Gets a Whale of a Donation".

    Political Connections

    In Tampa Bay, "Check out Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jim Davis and Rod Smith today at 11 a.m. on Political Connections on Bay News 9. Sitting side by side for an extended hourlong interview, the Democrats frequently became heated, even with some softball questions thrown in." "Interview gets a little more personal with Democratic candidates".

    Feel Free to Skip the General As Well

    "Disillusioned with the Republican Party and uninspired by the candidates, conservative Christians could sit out next week's primary." "Key GOP supporters may skip primary".


    Daniel Ruth is "Absolutely, Decidedly Undecided".


    This St. Pete Times editorial is inexplicable: "Always the cheap politics. Always.".

    Coastal Insurance

    "To those of you on the coast gagging over insurance premiums, it is going to get much worse. Very few people understand this, even many of the state legislators who made it all possible this year by passing Senate Bill 1980. This new law paves the way for rate increases that will slam the coast for years to come. And I'm all for it. It is all we have left to discourage rampant development in hurricane alley." "Living seaside? Cost will finally reflect reality ".

    Damage Control

    "Harris tries to douse furor over remarks to Baptists". See also "Rival criticizes Harris' comment on religion", "Harris: Christian remarks misconstrued", "Harris' Campaign for U.S. Senate No Cakewalk" and "Ad Watch: Katherine Harris' Senate campaign".


    An ugly thought.

    "Jeb!"'s Betrayal

    "Betrayal is at the heart of the state's most bitterly contested legislative race, one that also has conjured up a human-sized dancing chicken and serial killer Ted Bundy."

    Like many of the senior citizens gathered at a west Miami-Dade banquet hall for a hot lunch and games of bingo and dominos last week, Dominguez said she felt betrayed by Gov. Jeb Bush's endorsement of Villalobos' Republican opponent in the District 38 race for state senator.

    Betrayal is at the heart of the state's most bitterly contested legislative race, one that also has conjured up a human-sized dancing chicken and serial killer Ted Bundy.

    Villalobos' votes against two of Gov. Jeb Bush's education priorities prompted Miami-Dade School Board member Frank Bolanos to became the first candidate to challenge Villalobos in his 14-year legislative career.

    It's also the reason why Bush is touting Bolanos on the radio as the only candidate in the Sept. 5 primary who "can be trusted to fight for our conservative beliefs and defend our Republican principles in Tallahassee."

    There is no Democrat in the race between the two Cuban-Americans, who are vying to represent the heavily Hispanic and Republican district that stretches through the suburbs of west Miami-Dade down to Homestead. So, the primary winner will take the seat.

    And while neither man's victory would change the balance in the Republican-controlled Senate, a Bolanos victory could have ramifications, helping to carry on Bush's conservative philosophy after he leaves office in January, and sending what some observers say would be a chilling message.

    "It would send a powerful message to the people in the Senate: If you get out of line with the party, we'll come after you," said Kevin Hill, a political scientist at Florida International University. "That could be sobering."
    "Miami-area Senate race tests GOP discipline".

    North Florida

    "Rod Smith spent most of Saturday in North Florida, where he talked about some things that don't often come up down south."

    In a speech to about 50 Perry Democrats, Smith dispelled a rumor that he was anti-gun or wanted to take guns away. Smith said Republicans were trying to spread such rumors and that he's a hunter who supports the Second Amendment. Smith told the audience that if they hear such a rumor: "You tell them, I've talked to him, and that's a bunch of bunk. It ain't about to happen," he said at the Forest Capital Hall.
    "Smith in North Florida".

    Sweet Talk

    "Jim Davis and Rod Smith spent Saturday on the campaign trail, blazing different paths but ending at the day at a Democratic dinner in Daytona Beach where they addressed the U.S. Sugar Corp. controversy." "A Dose of Sugar To End The Day".

    CD 13

    "Politicians work on the winning look". As for the current occupant of the seat, "Judge Harris on her record -- not her eyeliner".

    Crist, Gallagher Profiles

    The St. Pete Times profiles Crist and Gallagher. See also "Charlie Crist".

    Urban Davis Votes

    "With a little more than a week left in an increasingly bitter Democratic primary for governor, it may seem odd that Davis was looking for votes in the middle of a congressional district he has held since 1997. But it also underscores the advantage Davis may have as he and state Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua head toward their Sept. 5 showdown. Davis has served nearly two decades in public office in the Tampa Bay area, including eight years in the Legislature and nine in Congress. It means he is a familiar presence to many voters in the state's largest media market, a 10-county region that happens to contain a quarter of the state's voters." "Urban district could aid Davis".

    "We know nothing... nothing!"

    "Business groups oppose plan forcing them to police hiring".

    Where Was "Jeb!"?

    "The Army Corps of Engineers is refusing to release detailed historical information about leaks in the Herbert Hoover Dike, saying the data could prove useful to terrorists or saboteurs." "Corps keeping the lid on dike data".

    Piotr Blass Who?

    "Write-in gubernatorial hopeful takes an Einstein approach".

    Public-Private Profiteers

    This excellent (lengthy) piece exposes Enterprise Florida, but for some reason fails to detail the political contributions Jebbie has reaped from the business that have profited from the "public-private partnership".

    "Enterprise Florida is a public-private partnership that helps determine where incentive money gets spent to create jobs in the state. Sometimes, board members' companies reap the benefits."

    Members of its 63-person board of directors, which is chaired by Bush and includes some of the state's most widely admired companies, say they provide active, independent oversight of the organization.

    But a St. Petersburg Times investigation shows that a corporate seat on the board - which in most cases requires a $50,000 annual donation - often benefits board members' companies.

    Consider the following:

    - Seventeen companies represented on the board between 2000 and 2005, including BellSouth, qualified for incentives promoted by Enterprise Florida.

    Those companies - about one-fifth of the organizations on the board during that time - have lined up as much as $43.8-million in state-authorized incentives. Additionally, they often get other government benefits, such as local property tax breaks, federal grants, free land and county building fee waivers.

    Companies that are not represented on the board aren't as lucky: There are an estimated 1.4-million businesses in Florida, and less than 1 percent have gotten incentives promoted by Enterprise Florida. In fact, most aren't eligible.

    - About one-third of the organizations now represented on the board have business ties to Enterprise Florida or its affiliates. It has engaged in a wide variety of transactions with insiders, including payments of about $1.9-million to 15 organizations associated with current board members.

    Among those payments: $1.1-million in legal and consulting fees for the Holland & Knight law firm and $157,000 for Florida Trend magazine, an affiliate of the Times. Some of the business was awarded without a full or open bidding process.

    - Three big banks are among Enterprise Florida's biggest winners. Companies affiliated with Bank of America, Wachovia and SunTrust have collected about $12-million since 1995 through two Enterprise Florida affiliates, according to Times estimates.

    The affiliates manage about $100-million in bonds and a partnership in which the banks invested more than $19-million. Yet four times between 1995 and 2001 auditors raised questions about the public benefits and oversight of those affiliates.
    "Deal me in". See also "Who is Enterprise Florida?"

    Truce Collapses

    "Only a month ago, the four men campaigning to be Florida's next governor seemed intent on playing well together. But over the last two weeks, that truce has collapsed into a free-fire of big-spending negative attacks, heightened by this week's televised debates and likely to leave voters perplexed over what to believe about the men they're voting for when they head to the polls." "Barbs traded in governor's race". See also "Both parties in governor's race step up attacks", "Democrats get more personal on TV" and "Davis, Smith Agree on Issues, Not on Records".

    Property Taxes

    "Property taxes on the rise throughout Broward County". See also "Local governments in Palm Beach County see windfalls from tax increases". See also "Property tax system no longer equitable".

    Jebbie's "Legacy"

    "Smith pushed the theme that he should succeed Republican Gov. Jeb Bush because he was the legislator who defeated Bush's 'legacy' proposals in this spring's legislative session, including a repeal of the class-size amendment and the placement of vouchers in the state constitution." "He halted Bush 'legacy' proposals, Smith recalls".

    Is He Serious?

    "LeRoy Collins Jr. bills himself as "a serious candidate for critical times." Maybe a little too serious. 'Smile ... smile,' his U.S. Senate campaign staffers worry as the square-jawed retired U.S. Naval Reserve rear admiral settles into a stern commander's look at a photo shoot outside a Tampa coffee shop." "Collins, former governor's son, focuses on relaxing Cuba embargo in Senate race".


    "Hear That Roar? Sept. 5 Primary Elections Are Near".


    "Two candidates vying for the Republican nomination for chief financial officer have healthy personal finances." "Two for CFO set cash-flow example".

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