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 Friday, September 15, 2006

Charlie Slithers; Will Davis Respond?

    As Chain Gang Charlie slithers to the middle ("Adwatch: Crist seeks middle ground"), we read that "Crist's Running Mate Pick Revives Rebel Flag Issue":
    Charlie Crist's emphasis on civil rights in his campaign for governor could be hampered by running mate Jeff Kottkamp's support of a 2001 bill perceived by some as aimed at preserving Confederate flag displays.
    Meanwhile, the Crist damage control team looks like it is asleep at the wheel:
    The Crist campaign said Thursday that Kottkamp wouldn't be available for comment. Spokeswoman Erin Isaac said in a written statement, "Jeff Kottkamp is an advocate for civil rights and for veterans. His leadership on both issues is clear."
    Does the Davis campaign have what it takes to expose the Crist-Kottkamp-Harris agenda?

    And, Crist apparently has no problem tying himself to the failed Dubya agenda: "President to headline fundraiser for Crist".

    A "Bold and Potentially Historic" Selection

    "While Crist played it safe as the Republican front-runner, Davis' decision was uncharacteristically bold and potentially historic."

    But Jones also has to be prepared to respond to familiar attacks. President Clinton nominated him to become secretary of the Air Force in 1998, but a U.S. Senate committee shot Jones down on a tie vote along largely partisan lines. Critics raised questions about Jones' flying skills as a fighter pilot in the Air Force Reserves, his tactics as an Amway salesman and his involvement in a Miami-Dade bond deal. The criticisms were unsubstantiated or overblown, but Jones has to have quicker answers now than he did then.

    One snappy suggestion: Invite Republicans to compare Jones' record in the Reserves to President Bush's military record.

    Crist's selection of little-known state Rep. Jeff Kottkamp of Cape Coral was disappointing in its cautiousness. The trial lawyer won the Christian Coalition's 2004 "Faith and Family Award" and supported state intervention into the Terri Schiavo feeding tube controversy (which Crist has criticized).
    "Advantage, Davis". "The choice of Daryl Jones as Jim Davis' running mate signals a shift in Democrats' attention -- back to South Florida."
    In the calculus of the state elections map, the Republican doesn't need to win Miami-Dade or Democratic strongholds in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Following the road map of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez and Gov. Jeb Bush, who parlayed their targeted minority outreach to Spanish speakers into GOP votes, Crist just needs to hold his own in South Florida and clean up along the West Coast and Panhandle, while winning the GOP-leaning Interstate-4 corridor.

    Here, Jones could be an asset for Davis.

    In his own 2002 run for governor, Jones won 12 percent of the Democratic vote, even though he had little money and faced better-known and better-funded primary opponents Janet Reno and Bill McBride. Jones even edged Reno in a few counties of the military-friendly Panhandle counties, in part because he was a former active-duty fighter pilot.

    Though McBride went on to win the primary, his campaign became so fixated on the Panhandle and the I-4 corridor that he forsook South Florida's black voters until the final days of the campaign. By then, it was too late. McBride, who chose a white-male running mate instead of Jones, already had estranged himself from black voters when he declared himself the winner of the primary election against their favored candidate, Reno, before all the ballots had been counted. ...

    Fearing that he would drive away white conservatives ... McBride shunned help from former President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. Davis, who campaigned little in South Florida before the primary, is scheduled to appear in Miami today with John Edwards, the Democrats' 2004 vice-presidential candidate.

    Former McBride spokesman Tony Welch, also African-American, said that in picking Jones, Davis is being more aggressive than McBride. "It's a fearless pick," Welch said. "It's historic for Florida."
    "Davis' pick could make history". See also "Davis picks ex-state Sen. Daryl Jones as running mate", "State Democrats hope Davis' choice of running mate fires up campaign" and "Jones has seen political storm".

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board correctly notes that Jones appointment to be Secretary of the Air Force was scuttled by "politics"; Jones, an F-16 fighter pilot and a colonel in the Air Force "was almost secretary of the Air Force under President Bill Clinton, but politics got in the way. He survived a committee vote but his name was never forwarded to the full Senate." Four Lawyers Top Gubernatorial Tickets. As we noted yesterday, this was a forerunner to the familariar GOP "swiftboating" tactic, in which Crist ally John McCain was a participant.


    "President to visit, give GOP a lift". See also "President plans Orlando benefit" and "President to headline fundraiser for Crist".


    "Running in a competitive district with a large Jewish population, Democratic congressional candidate Ron Klein said Thursday that America's ability to support Israel and fight terrorism has suffered because the U.S. is 'mired' in Iraq." "Klein asserts Iraq hampers Shaw, U.S.". See also "Congressional hopeful Klein appeals to Jewish voters to support him".


    "The board of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has approved a 2.07 percent assessment for Florida homeowners to cover losses from the 2005 hurricane season. The charge amounts to $20.70 on every $1,000 in premiums." "Homeowners looking for ways to stretch premium payments".

    Paper Trail

    "Voters in this southwest Florida county will be able to decide in November whether to continue using computerized voting booths or go back to paper ballots, a circuit judge ruled. County attorneys argued a proposed ballot initiative asking voters to choose between the county’s current electronic voting and the old paper system was unconstitutional. " Paper or plastic: Sarasota voters will choose voting technology.

    Wingnuts Rally Around Jebbie

    "A report issued by a conservative think tank supports Gov. Jeb Bush's education policies, but critics challenge the group's findings."

    It is the second time this week that a conservative think tank has praised Gov. Jeb Bush's education policies, but critics have challenged its findings. ...

    Those results contradict another study by University of Chicago researchers on a test-based retention program for Chicago schools. ...

    Florida Education Association spokesman said a coauthor of the report, Jay P. Green, is "one of the go-to guys for the governor" who frequently questions traditional public schools. Mark Pudlow said other studies agree with the Chicago findings and cited an Arizona State University review of the Manhattan Institute's Florida study that concluded it had "several major flaws."
    "Test-based promotion backed". See also "Think tank: FCAT-based promotion requirement works" ("the second time this week that a conservative think tank has praised Gov. Jeb Bush's education policies, but critics have challenged its findings.")

    "The So-called Bush Legacy"

    All the bought and paid for self-serving, right wing studies can't change the facts:

    Florida's falling SAT scores are more proof that Gov. Bush's education agenda has not pushed the state ahead where it matters most: in producing high school graduates who are ready to compete on a national and global level.

    This year, average SAT scores for Florida students fell two points in reading and one point in math. Only South Carolina and Georgia had lower scores. ...

    Gov. Bush and his education secretary, John Winn, argue that scores might be declining because, at their urging, more minority students are taking the SAT. That development has a positive aspect: More minorities are striving for admission to college. But shrugging that "minorities" are causing the lag sounds suspiciously like the "soft bigotry of low expectations" Gov. Bush is so quick to detect in any criticism of his policies that deny promotion or graduation to low-scoring students.

    Gov. Bush has congratulated himself for FCAT gains in elementary schools and for the surprisingly high scores Florida students earn on the FCAT writing test. Hold the congratulations. This is the first year the SAT included a writing portion, and only Hawaii had lower writing scores than Florida.

    Low 10th-grade scores already showed the cracks in Gov. Bush's self-contained, FCAT-based system. Declining SAT scores emphasize the problem. The SAT, like the FCAT, can be overemphasized. Maybe an eventual answer will be to give both less weight. But poor performance by too many Florida high school students is a real issue. Gov. Bush didn't have the answers. To get some, his successor will have to do more than just protect the so-called Bush legacy.
    "SAT scores dispel myth of FCAT-based system".

    The LG Thing

    "But what will they do?"

    "Miami Herald only latest victim of media manipulation"

    "Last Friday the Miami Herald announced it had fired three writers (one a free-lancer) for writing in a Spanish-language Herald publication while also getting paid by the federal government for propaganda work aimed at Cuba. One of the former staffers was found to have been paid almost $175,000 since 2001 for his work, while another had been paid $71,000 by the so-called U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting." "Propaganda as journalism".


    "U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris announced Thursday that she's a co-sponsor of a renewed effort in the House to put up hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico."

    Harris charges Nelson has "stymied recent efforts to bolster border security" by backing a Senate bill: the same Senate legislation favored by Harris's fellow Republicans, Sen. Mel Martinez and President Bush. That bill - which is likely dead for the year - calls for border security but would create a foreign guest-worker program and give millions of illegal immigrants an opportunity to gain U.S. citizenship.
    "Building fences".

    In the meantime, "Harris misses votes in her bid for office".

    Foley In "Free Fall"?

    "Democrat Tim Mahoney wants voters to know that polls he paid for show him just 13 percentage points behind 12-year Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Foley. 'This guy is in a free fall,' Mahoney said. 'He'd love to have George Bush's ratings right now.'" "Foley's numbers in 'free fall,' says Mahoney".


    Who writes these headlines? "Crist picks moderate running mate"

    Where's The Love?

    "After a blistering primary campaign, Congressional hopeful Vern Buchanan promised Republican loyalists that he will work to bring the party faithful back together. But that may be harder to do than say. His closest challengers still have not publicly endorsed Buchanan." "Buchanan vows to bring party together".

    Dem Dissension

    "Richard Blank, chairman of the Polk County Democratic Executive Committee, and his wife, Carol Franklin, the state committeewoman for the county, have resigned their offices amid disagreement on how this year's campaigns should be conducted. ... Yet in the end, their departure mirrored the debate going on among many Democratic Party organizations this year -- wait for 2008 or go all out this year? And, in a repeat of past Polk Democratic Party changes, personalities and disparate factions got in the way as well. Blank and Franklin wanted to forgo the expense of large campaign headquarters for this year's election, to campaign differently and to save up for the presidential election of 2008, said Mark Hopkins, the Polk Democratic Party campaign chairman." "Local Democratic Party Leaders Resign".

    No Robo Calls

    "There's a fine line between campaigning and harassment. It's a fine tradition to knock on doors, wave at passing motorists and call friends and neighbors. But when you're unable to politely decline to receive the message, then campaigning becomes an annoyance and an intrusion." "CAMPAIGNING: Stop automated calls".

    Another Cuban Senator

    But this one isn't a Bushco pool boy:

    Since January, Cubans here and in South Florida have boasted of having two U.S. senators with Cuban ties -- one a Republican, one a Democrat, both of them staunchly anti-Fidel Castro.

    Republican Sen. Mel Martinez became the first-ever Cuban-American senator, elected out of Florida in 2004. New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez -- the son of Cuban immigrants -- joined the Senate in January, appointed to the post.

    But Menendez's effort to retain the seat is turning into an unexpectedly close and increasingly contentious contest.
    "Cuban American fights for Senate seat".

    GOP Dissension

    "The president of the Lakeland Republican Club has criticized GOP candidate Betty Hill and some of her contributors for negative campaigning in her unsuccessful campaign to unseat County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson, and for then supporting Wilkinson's Democratic opponent." "Lakeland GOP Club Criticizes Hill".

    Four More

    "Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis are not the only candidates for governor."

    Four others will join them on the Nov. 7 ballot: Max Linn of the Reform Party and three independents, all of whom were required to complete the field by choosing running mates by 5 p.m. Thursday.

    Linn chose Tom Macklin, the Republican mayor of Avon Park, who gained national attention recently for trying to pass an ordinance that would fine employers who hire illegal immigrants (it failed by a single vote). The choice of Macklin signals that Linn, a wealthy term limits advocate from St. Petersburg, plans to make immigration a campaign issue.
    "Four More Running Mates".

    "The Foundation for Jeb's Future"

    "The Foundation for Jeb's Future - er, Florida's Future - is sitting on nearly $2-million, and the governor is mum on what it will go for. "

    Now he's kicked into gear a sister political committee - the Foundation for Florida's Future Action Fund - that is structured under IRS rules to do more overtly political activities.

    Its first donors? The Villages, a sprawling central Florida developer, kicked in $100,000, and New Yorker Robert W. Johnson IV of the Johnson & Johnson family gave $5,000.The Villages developer Gary Morse has been mighty kind to Republicans and especially Gov. Bush. He had already ponied up $550,000 for the Foundation.
    "Jeb's 527".

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