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 Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Shallow, empty suit vs. the policy whiz"

    Charlie's not a mere "empty suit", but rather is a "shallow empty suit":
    The shallow, empty suit vs. the policy whiz.

    That's pretty much what many observers expected back in 1998 when a state senator named Charlie Crist faced Bob Graham in a U.S. Senate debate televised across the state. No, Crist didn't take down Graham, but his unexpectedly strong performance taught politicos to never underestimate the St. Petersburg charmer in a televised appearance.

    Attorney General Crist is still often derided as a policy lightweight, even as he has emerged as the heavyweight in this year's Republican gubernatorial primary. Tonight he faces another policy ace, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, in the first gubernatorial debate televised across the state.
    "GOP's rivals for governor face off". See also "Candidates Set To Square Off", "Stakes high in tonight's Crist-Gallagher debate", "Debates could have sway in governor's race" and "Governor debates this week".

    Daniel Ruth thinks tonight's debate will be nasty:
    It took a little while, but we have at last arrived at that point in the Republican gubernatorial primary where all the high-toned policy wonk gibberish has been replaced by duplicity, below-the-belt uppercuts, nastiness and more distortions than Mr. Magoo trying to read agate type.

    And all one can say is, Thank Gawd. It's about time!

    If you are a political junkie, tonight's debate between Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher ought to recall that great quip by Alice Roosevelt Longworth: "If you can't say anything good about someone, sit right here by me."

    For until a few days ago, these two chaps were treating the primary campaign like something out of "Masterpiece Theatre," with merely gentle gibes and mutually respectful repartee. "Good show on tort reform, old bean. Jolly good! Jolly good windstorm insurance idea, my good man."

    But nothing stirs up the pol pot more than a candidate on the verge of oblivion. Enter Gallagher - stage far, far, far right.
    "Dirty! Nasty! Mean! Yes! Thank Gawd!"

    America's Craziest?

    "Pole dancing. Possum holding. Racially insensitive remarks. Welcome to politics, Sarasota style. While every community in America has its brand of oddball politics, Sarasota is quickly becoming Capital Weird on the national political map." "Sarasota politics: 'America's craziest?'"

    One Can Only Hope

    "'My sense is that it's three states: northern, central and southern,' McCain said, "and I think they're very distinctive politically. But if I had to guess ... it seems to be moving a little bit back toward the center."" "McCain and the 'Three Floridas'".

    "Jeb!"'s Failing Grade

    The Sun-Sentinel is too kind to Jebbie:

    Florida's educational system still has a long, long way to go. It's discouraging that that's the case even after almost eight years of reforms during the administration of Gov. Jeb Bush.

    The conclusion is unavoidable, though, in light of recently released scores on the ACT college entrance exam. The results showed that nationally, this year's high school graduating class had the highest scores on the exam since 1991 and produced the biggest year-to-year increase in 20 years.

    But Florida's scores declined. Not only that, but Florida ranked only 41st among the states and the District of Columbia in overall performance. That's deplorable for a state that ranks fourth in population. But it's hardly surprising: Florida also spends less than almost all other states on education.

    It's true, of course, that merely throwing money at education doesn't guarantee success or improvement. But when the fourth-largest state in the nation ranks 47th in per-capita school spending, it's a sure sign that something isn't right.

    Nelson On Canadian Drugs

    "Sen. Bill Nelson urged senior citizens in Palm Beach County on Monday to demand a congressional investigation into seizures of prescription drugs from Canada." "Nelson questions seizures of prescription drugs from Canada".

    Bill's Big Bucks

    "It may have cooled a bit, but Bill Nelson's fund-raising this summer remains red hot."

    The latest Federal Election Commission report, due Monday, shows the Democratic senator with $12.05-million on hand, more than any other senator up for reelection this year except for Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who is expected to run for president. As of the last public reports, through June 30, she had $22-million.

    According to Monday's FEC filing, Nelson raised $433,720 in the six weeks from June 30 to Aug. 15, bringing his total raised to a whopping $15.7-million.
    "Florida's Money Man". See also "Nelson stays on trail" and "He's ahead, but he's not resting".

    Castor and Miller

    See "Miller Not Afraid To Show Emotion" and "Castor Has Deep Roots In Community".


    "Schiavo received a long standing ovation when he rose to speak to 150 to 200 Collier Democrats. He became a controversial figure after he went to court to re- move his wife Terri's feeding tube." "Schiavo stumps in Collier for Democrats".

    Long Shadow

    "Whether you agree with the policies of Bush or not, he has had a profound impact on state politics. Even the ablest of candidates would struggle to get out from under his political shadow. By force of his personality and political standing, Bush has swung state politics sharply to the right, made it difficult, if not impossible, for his successor to raise taxes or to expand government, made choice and accountability by-words in public education, and helped create an economic Pax-Florida for much of the past eight years by marketing Florida to the world." "Bush casts long shadow over Crist, Gallagher".

    SD 16 Dramatis Personae

    "Interesting Frank Farkas mailer is hitting mailboxes in SD 16."

    "Your 2006 Political Storm Preparation Guide" offers Republican voters a handy guide to the various independent committees he says may be "doing (Berfield's) dirty work" and bashing him. Among those listed:

    Floridians for Lower Insurance Costs (a Start Farm group backing Berfield because "I'm not inclined to be so friendly, so they're coming after me." People for a Better Florida is "organized medicine ... Concerned only with their dominance and profits, they oppose my efforts to make health care more affordable and accessible to Floridians." Florida Citizens for Social Reform is a Scientologist-backed group "counting on her as a key ally in their current ambitious expansion plans across Tampa Bay." Committee to Restore Integrity in Politics was started by an operative who helped Berfield in the past and, Farkas says, faces "potential six figure fines for election law violations."
    "Know your enemies".

    GOP Convention

    The St Pete Times argues that "the Tampa Bay area offers Republicans a lot - not least votes and fundraising - as they weigh where to hold their 2008 convention." "Memo to GOP". See also "GOP Comes Calling".

    Early voting

    "Floridians Begin Early Voting In Primary". See also "Davis votes early, encourages others", "First ballots are cast at courthouse" and "Early voters trickle in".

    "Dirty Little Secret"

    "Tim Mahoney says Mark Foley has a 'dirty little secret.' 'He comes down here from Washington, D.C. and he wants you to think that he’s a Democrat,” Mahoney told about 160 people at a health care candidates' forum sponsored by the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans. But up in Washington, Mahoney went on, Foley is part of the 'Bush-DeLay leadership team.'" "Foley's 'Dirty Little Secret'".

    Ugly Politics

    "They're coming, so be prepared. The phone's going to ring and you're going to hear a recorded voice attacking someone who's running for political office. The goal is to sway your vote in the Sept. 5 primary. These below-the-belt phone calls are a cancer on the body politic, but unfortunately, they work." "Coming Soon: Ugly Politics On Your Phone".


    "Smith, Davis trade barbs for TV".

    "Green Approval"

    "Candidates get green approval".

    If A Tree Falls on a Hangar ...

    More on the story first reported yesterday

    Rhyan Metzler, Harris' political director of three months, left Thursday, the day that Harris blamed the paltry rally turnout on a change in location after a tree fell on the originally planned airport hangar site.

    It turns out there was no fallen tree.

    Harris spokeswoman Jennifer Marks later said Harris gave reporters the misinformation because "that was the information we were given by our political director."

    Reached on Sunday night, Metzler wouldn't say whether his departure had anything to do with the tree.

    "I adore her and wish her well," he said of Harris.
    "Political director leaves Harris team".

    Seaworld Hearts Tom

    "A pro-Tom Gallagher political committee -- the very first outside group to pop up in this year's governor's race -- was briefly rekindled earlier this month, state records show, thanks to a five-figure donation from beer giant and SeaWorld Orlando-owner Anheuser-Busch." "SeaWorld Owner Betting on Gallagher?"


    "It seems strange that a new state law would require voters to present photo and signature identification cards at the polls, yet the signature line has been eliminated on Hillsborough's new voter registration card."

    Hillsborough's supervisor of elections, says the new card is no longer called a voter registration card. Now it's called an information card. He says state law dictates what's printed there: your name, voter registration number, political party, political district and precinct.

    If you forget your IDs, you can still vote using a provisional ballot. However, your signature will be compared with one on file - from who knows how long ago - at the supervisor of elections office.

    It makes no sense that signatures of voters are not kept current.

    So much for voting reforms.
    "Senseless Change To Voter I.D.".

    Christian Coalition

    "The Christian Coalition of Florida probably isn’t going to support either Jim Davis’ or Rod Smith’s campaign for governor. But only one of two Democrats has tried reaching out to the group at all. Smith was the only one of the two to fill out the coalition’s six-page questionnaire, which asks candidates whether they support or oppose more than 50 issues, such as same-sex adoption, stiffer penalties for criminals who kill a fetus while attacking a pregnant woman and school prayer. (Smith supports the first two and opposes the third, according to his responses.) " "The Democrats and the Christian Coalition".

    Alleged Dems

    What is it with some "Dems"?

    Nine different companies run by Miami developer and former lobbyist Chris Korge have doled out at least $4,500 to Republican Tom Gallagher's campaign for governor. That wouldn't be blogworthy if not for Korge's title as chairman of Democrat Rod Smith's campaign for governor. ...

    Korge is a Democratic party soldier who has raised lots of money for big-time Democrats such as former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, and former presidential candidate Al Gore. But he is also a businessman who occasionally supports members of the party in power, including Republican state Reps. Ralph Arza of Hialeah and Julio Robaina of Miami.
    "With Friends Like These..."


    Naked Politics reports that "Sen. Alex Villalobos and Frank Bolanos have agreed to debate head to head next Wednesday. On Aug. 30, from 8 to 9 a.m., they'll debate on 940 am WINZ. Host Jim DeFede, a former Miami Herald columnist, will moderate. The debate will appear on streaming audio at jimdefede.com" "Villalobos and Bolanos to debate".

    Imagine That

    "According to the latest campaign reports, King has raised $451,560.79 so far while Terry has raised $153,894.50. King's money continues to pour in from powerful special interests while Terry's money continues to be largely from individuals, many of them from out of state." "King Continues to raise more than Terry". See also "In Senate race, family values campaign tested by real life".

    Jeremy Wallace

    Yesterday's column: "Harris is stood up by GOP leaders".

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