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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, September 24, 2006

Good News For Davis

    Crist polls at 49 percent and Davis at 43, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, in a statewide survey of 600 likely voters conducted Sept. 18-20 by Maryland-based Research 2000.

    "Davis, a Tampa congressman, could make up ground on Crist, the state's attorney general, by stressing education themes to appeal to undecided 'independents,' blacks and women, the poll shows. Many of those voters are leaning toward Davis' stance on public school policies. And many black voters, the poll reveals, are energized by Davis' selection of a lieutenant governor running mate who is black." "Crist has slim edge over Davis in poll". See also "Poll: Crist up by 6 points", "Election polls show Crist, Nelson with leads" and "Sun-Sentinel, T-U Poll: Crist 49, Davis 43".

    This poll shows that Crist has no lead at all, let alone the "slim edge" expressed in the headline. As the Columbia Journalism Review laments, when it comes to understanding the margin of error, reporters frequently fall "prey to a trap that persistently plagues the political press." See "Margin of Ignorance". In the poll discussed above, the margin of error is plus or minus four points for each number, as opposed to the difference between Crist's number and Davis' number. If we subtract four points from the Crist-Kottkamp ticket and add four points to the Davis-Jones ticket, the result is Davis-Jones at 47 percent, two points ahead of Crist-Kottkamp at 45 percent. Or, Crist-Kottkamp could have as much as a 14 point lead (53% to 39%). The only thing we know for sure is that the race is statistically tied.

    In addition, the St Pete Times reports on a "new poll for the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers shows Republican Crist leading Democrat Jim Davis among the 818 likely voters surveyed, 45 percent to 39 percent."
    Considering Crist has been on TV steadily since May and has run statewide several times before, this is pretty encouraging for Davis. Crist has not yet reached the key 50 percent mark.

    The Bendixon & Associates poll shows 56 percent of independent voters have a positive opinion of Crist while 46 percent have a positive opinion of Davis (42 percent didn't know enough to answer about Davis, while 27 percent didn't know enough about Crist). Among Republicans, 71 percent backed Crist-Kottkamp, while 65 percent of Democrats backed Davis-Jones. Crist had the support of 45 percent of independents, compared to 37 percent for Davis.

    Among Hispanics, 43 percent backed Crist and 36 percent Davis. Among African-Americans, 61 percent backed Davis, 13 percent Crist, and 27 percent were undecided.
    Here's more good news for Davis: "Crist, rest of GOP now embrace Harris". See also "Florida GOP leaders insist Harris has shot" and "They Love Katherine".

    From Inspector Clouseau to Sleazy Hack

    A Sleazy Political Stunt in Two Acts:

    Act I - Inspector Clouseau Pretends To Solve A Case

    "Crist stands by claim he solved 1951 civil rights slaying". This, despite the fact that a "retired law officer's claim that he was the anonymous tipster who cracked a 1951 slaying has cast further doubt on whether Attorney General Charlie Crist's recent investigation turned up anything new in the deaths of civil-rights pioneer Harry Moore and his wife. W.J. 'Buzzy' Patterson said the information he provided was nearly 30 years old and had been included in two previous probes of the infamous Christmas night bombing." This is on top of the criticism from "Ben Green, a Florida State University professor who wrote a book about the slayings, [who] says Crist found nothing new and exaggerated the evidence against the four." "Ex-cop's claim casts more doubt on Crist probe".

    Act II - Sleazebags Arrive With Cameras

    "Republican Charlie Crist's campaign for governor is seeking to use Evangeline Moore, daughter of murdered civil rights leader Harry T. Moore, in a television campaign commercial, even though according to friends, Moore doesn't want to be involved in the race."

    Last week, the campaign sent a camera crew to the home of Moore, age 76, near Washington, and taped her for more than an hour, friends said.

    Moore told William E. Gary and others she thought she was taping a "thank-you" message to Crist. ...

    [However] Darryl Rouson, former head of the NAACP's St. Petersburg chapter, confirmed that the [real] purpose of the trip was to film a campaign commercial, and that he was present for the taping.
    "Idea For Crist Ad Raises Concern".

    Jebbie's 527

    "A new nationwide report shows Florida is near the top in overall spending by so-called "527 organizations'' this fall -- part of a trend that finds these tax-exempt groups shifting from national issues. The study by the Center for Responsive Politics shows these murky organizations -- which typically feature feel-good names but are often responsible for the nastiest mudslinging -- have spent the most in California, New York, Illinois and Florida campaigns so far."

    Maybe it's no surprise, then, that even Gov. Jeb Bush has launched one of his own. An early, $100,000 installment to his Foundation for Florida's Future Action Fund, an arm of a similarly named charitable organization he already established, came from The Villages and its developer, Gary Morse. The Villages also has given $550,000 to Bush's other nonprofit group.

    Bush, though, isn't saying what kind of activity he plans for the political committee. Campaign television spots and mailers are typical spending.

    Why does he have a 527?

    "I don't know. I don't know yet," Bush told reporters last week. "It's just intriguing for you all. That's why we're doing it."
    The man's arrogance knows no bounds:
    Asked if TV ads might be coming, Bush dodged but didn't rule anything out.

    "The great thing about America is, you can ask, and I don't have to say," he said. Then the governor added this postscript:

    "Vague enough?"
    "Shadowy groups flourish in state, and governor coy about his own". See also "Soft-money groups election's big winner".

    GOP Robots

    "Christian conservative leaders hope to make sure 'values voters' feeling abandoned by Republicans in Congress don't stay home on Election Day." "Conservatives try to deploy 'values voters'".

    McCollum Can't Make Traction

    "In a little-watched statewide race, attorney general candidate Bill McCollum is in many ways running against himself. So far, voters are split. With 44 days until Election Day, McCollum is in a virtual tie against a relatively obscure Democrat, state Sen. Walter 'Skip' Campbell, according to early polls." "Being known hasn't helped".

    Gambling on Gaming

    "Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis will spend the next seven weeks trying to show how each is the better choice than the other for governor, but one group in Florida has already decided the pick between them is a win-win: the gambling industry. The odds have never been better for the casinos and parimutuels in Florida, as Gov. Jeb Bush prepares to leave office in January, taking his staunch antigambling stance with him." "Gaming industry bets on Davis -- and Crist".

    Ahem ... Charlie, You Had Your Chance

    "Tapping into the growing anger of residents and business owners over rising rates, Charlie Crist and Jim Davis are touring the state with plans to fix the property-insurance system." "Insurance front and center in the race for governor". See also "Candidates' promises to fix insurance mostly empty".

    Randy Schultz argues "at this point, neither candidate for governor deserves your vote, because neither candidate has spoken directly and forcefully enough about the state's insurance crisis. The latest dodge came from Attorney General Charlie Crist." "Crist, Davis not tackling insurance".

    Is there some reason Davis is not seizing this issue? Cristy has been in the cabinet for years and has sat on his hands. He's had his chance to lead and failed.

    Kootkamp's Answer Makes Him "Sound Like an Idiot"

    Scott Maxwell on Uber-GOoPer Kottkamp's response to his confederate flag problem:

    What Kottkamp said when reporters asked him last week about the bill -- a bill that he co-sponsored, mind you -- was: "I don't even remember the flag being mentioned."


    Here are some of the headlines that ran in newspapers around the state back in 2001: "Flag bill outrages black caucus." "Black legislators ask speaker to kill flag bill." "Latest flap over flag raises new tensions."

    But nowadays, Kottkamp has amnesia. In fact, he told the St. Petersburg Times last week, "I don't think there was anything to do with flags in that bill" -- the one known as the "flag bill," you understand.

    In readying himself to deal with this issue, now that he's running for lieutenant governor, Kottkamp could have prepared answers that made him sound steadfast, remorseful or even conflicted.

    Instead, he chose an answer that makes him sound like an idiot.
    "Politicians say the darndest things".

    Racial Issues

    Fine, let us put race issues on the table and consider the RPOF record of abject failure: "From old votes on compensating wrongly jailed men, to jobs at 'whites only' country clubs and claims that Islam is a cult, racial and ethnic issues have become almost daily discussions in the campaign to become Florida's governor." "Governor candidates delve into racial issues".

    CD 13

    "Still trying to repair fractures from one of the roughest Republican primaries in the country, congressional hopeful Vern Buchanan on Saturday turned to one of his biggest political allies for help. U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Orlando, was the star attraction for what Buchanan had billed as a 'unity rally' to help refocus Republicans on helping him win the general election for the 13th Congressional District seat in November." "Buchanan calls for GOP unity".

    Shaw Whines

    "Democrats relying on Mediscare strategy".

    Unity ... Finally

    "The Buzz has learned plans are under way for Rod Smith and Jim Davis to appear together at an event next week, possibly Tuesday in Gainesville. The meeting would mark the first time they have been together since the Aug. 23 debate in Tampa." "Finally, Davis and Smith To Put on 'Unity' Face".

    Charlie Running, Hiding From His Base

    "Crist distances himself from controversial minister".

    GOP Convention

    "GOP organizers working to bring the 2008 Republican National Convention to Tampa have pulled out all the stops in their effort to lure the biggest pep rally in politics to Florida two years from now, said Sharon Day, Florida National Committeewoman and a member of the selection committee." "Florida leads in national convention bid promoters say".

    Another Nutty GOP Idea

    "Local school districts are right to be concerned about a new state commission created to oversee charter schools. After all, parents don't look to Tallahassee bureaucrats when these taxpayer-supported schools fail; they want answers from school board members. The creation of the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission could enable charter schools to get around tougher local rules. The last thing the state should do is make it easy for charters with weak finances and questionable academic credentials to skirt local review." "Keep a close rein".


    "Republican activists gathered in Orlando for their party's quarterly meeting this weekend, cheering on their candidates - and also quietly buzzing about another looming election. The next GOP chairperson will be elected in Orlando early next year, and it's unclear yet whether current chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan will seek another term." "GOP looks to the election after the election". See also "The next GOP chair", "GOP hopefuls rally troops in Osceola", "GOP leaders energize the base" and "GOP showcases Crist, Harris, other statewide candidates".

    Jebbie Drops the Ball Yet Again

    "Six years ago Florida voters put in the state constitution a mandate to connect Tampa, Orlando and other major cities with rapid rail. Two years ago Gov. Jeb Bush and the state's chief financial officer, Tom Gallagher, led a successful campaign to repeal the bullet train amendment. Today Bush and Gallagher are preparing to leave office, having done little to address the looming I-4 problem that casts a cloud over the economy of our region. " "As Wider I-4 Nears Capacity, Economic Growth Could Stall".

    Here's Another Fresh RPOF Idea

    "Cutting taxes is back as centerpiece of Republican Party's agenda".

    Charlie Crist - ECO Creature

    The Orlando Sentinels takes a look at electioneering-communications organizations (ECOs), and finds Charlie Crist up to his neck in the "best-funded ECO" and a net of other intertwined ECOs

    an Orlando Sentinel analysis of contributions and expenditures of Floridians for Truth and Integrity in Government -- the best-funded ECO, with more than $3 million, which is aligned with Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist -- found it intertwined with seven other ECOs through transfers of money among the groups.

    The Byzantine money trail connected two groups -- teachers and the Florida Chamber of Commerce -- in an alliance that seemed incongruous at best. The chamber, after all, supports vouchers for private schools and opposes the 2002 constitutional amendment limiting class size. That's the polar opposite of the teachers unions' position.

    But Teachers United for Better Schools -- which received $250,000 from the chamber-backed Partnership for Florida's Future -- is not a union group. It claims 22 members donating $5 apiece -- many of them educators -- and is led by Ira Paul, a Miami Lakes-Hialeah high-school math teacher. It received an additional $50,000 from a political committee backed by developers, raising its total contributions to just over $300,000.

    Paul's group actually supports vouchers and weakening the class-size amendment. More important, Teachers United also supported a chamber-favored candidate -- Miami-Dade School Board member Frank Bolanos, who was running against Republican incumbent Sen. Alex Villalobos.
    "Who's paying for all these attack ads?".

    Jebonomics - Low Wage Economy, Escalating Costs

    Mike Thomas won't blame Jebbie for it, but he concedes this much:

    Florida isn't cheap anymore.

    We were a Wal-Mart state. Now we're a Target state. We're headed toward a Nordstrom state.

    And lots of families can't afford it.

    Our home prices now exceed the national average, which also means higher property taxes and rents.

    On top of that are skyrocketing property-insurance rates and gas prices, which make getting around in Sprawlsville quite expensive.

    Our escalating cost of living is clashing with our low-wage economy.

    This stops some families from moving here, squeezes some families out of Florida altogether and pushes others into cheaper outlying areas. They are being replaced by empty nesters from up North and young singles. This is why you see school enrollment flat or declining in more expensive urban areas.
    And here's something to point out to the next right winger who claims Jebbie has created good quality jobs:
    The percent of managers, scientists and engineers in our work force is actually declining.
    "State no longer cheap paradise for families".

    Sink Surging

    "Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for chief financial officer, just had another impressive fund-raising spurt. In the first full week after the Sept. 5 primary, she raised $187,896, scoring $500 checks from 225 contributors. Sink donors include former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, assorted labor unions, and the Hamilton Forman-Austin Forman real estate empire in Fort Lauderdale." "Alex Sink, All the Way to the Bank".

    Lee is going to have to do better than this: "Lee: Sink's a liberal".

    CD 16

    "Foley In A Tough Campaign?".

    Money Race

    "These numbers bring Crist's totals to $15.1 million, compared to Davis' $4.7 million. The Davis camp dismisses the lop-sided comparision, saying only that Crist is going to need every penny." "Florida GOP: Cash keeps coming but we need more". See also "Tax dollars at work" and "".


    "GOP GOTV".

    Davis Moves North

    "Jim Davis and Daryl Jones began a two-day tour of North Florida on Saturday, appearing before large crowds in Pensacola and Panama City before splitting two football towns (Davis in Gainesville and Jones in Tallahassee)." "Davis-Jones Begin North Florida Swing". See also "Davis set to 'fight for change'" ("n Pensacola on Saturday morning, Davis and his running mate, Daryl Jones, stirred the pot of discontent while speaking to more than 200 supporters at Granny Cantrell's Whistle Stop Cafe.")

    The Gay Thing

    Yesterday, Steve Bousquet wrote that "though Linn has already spent $1-million of his $16-million fortune on his campaign, it's tempting to dismiss him as a hopeless gadfly." However,

    if the Crist-Davis race gets very tight, Linn has the potential to be a spoiler and siphon votes away. Crist is more likely to lose votes to Linn than Davis, because Reform Party candidates and their supporters tend to lean Republican.

    Linn knows he has to draw attention quickly. He's chasing publicity.

    On Orlando radio station WFLA-AM 540 last week, Linn told host Bud Hedinger he would "put my hand on a stack of Bibles" to say Crist is gay.

    "His sexual preference is not to women," Linn said.

    Hedinger sounded speechless. "A bombshell," he said over the air.

    Linn claimed to know this because he and Crist were in the same 1985 class of Leadership St. Petersburg, a Chamber of Commerce program. "We discussed it," Linn said.

    Linn repeated the statement in interviews with the St. Petersburg Times, and said if Crist were to win, he would be subject to extortion and blackmail.
    "Gadfly in governor's race may have a sharp stinger". See also "The Max Linn factor".

    3 Homes for Kottkamp

    In this piece on Crist's attack ad, we read this: "Crist does not own a home, although his Republican running mate, Jeff Kottkamp, owns three." "GOP ad targets Davis' record".

    Crist Wimps Out ...

    in the Bushco tradition: "Organizers of a health care conference say Republican candidate Charlie Crist strung them along for months and then backed out at the last minute, forcing them to pull the plug on Monday's event at the University of Miami." "Crist cancels Miami appearance".

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