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, September 10, 2006

Suggestions for Davis

    Scott Maxwell has some suggestions for Jim Davis; some of them are even good:
    Get Charlie off-script. He's good -- better than you -- at reciting his talking points. But when he gets off-script, he can blow it big-time. During an interview with The Palm Beach Post's editorial board last month, Charlie was going on and on about the FCAT when he revealed that he didn't know when the test was given or even what constituted a passing score. Make Charlie do that on live TV.

    Speaking of the FCAT, whenever Charlie defends it, say the following: "Mr. Crist, I would think that, if anyone could understand the pitfalls of standardized testing, it would be someone who twice failed the Bar exam."

    Don't let Charlie talk about his grandiose plans for public education without reminding people that he spent several years as the state's education commissioner. If he really wanted to improve this state's sad-sack schools, he certainly had an opportunity to do so.

    You're not that exciting. You don't really excite white people. So you darn sure don't excite black ones, whose votes you need. Think about getting a strong black Democrat as your running mate. How about Daryl Jones? Everybody liked the handsome Air Force Academy graduate in 2002 . . . just not as much as they liked Bill McBride. (Boy, was that a mistake.)
    "Talking points, Maxwell style".

    I think we could add to that list.

    Sugar Crist; Media Gives Crist A Pass

    The media savaged Smith for his support by big sugar; Charlie was given a pass, even though sugar "companies also contributed at least $600,000 to groups that backed Attorney General Charlie Crist, who won the Republican nomination." Now that Crist is the only sugar backed candidate in the race, can we expect Florida's corporate media to give Charlie the same treatment? "Daniel Smith, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, said the sugar companies' ... would be smart to avoid a repeat of such a heavy-handed approach in the general election, because Crist will likely raise much more money than Davis, and the association with 'Big Sugar' can hurt a candidate." "Despite primary loss, Big Sugar still a player in governor's race".

    CD 8

    "This election season, Republican Congressman Ric Keller faces the toughest fight of his political career since he was first elected in 2000."

    Keller, 42, has more money -- about $1.3 million to Stuart's $200,000 -- which can be spent on advertising and staff. Keller has a congressional track record from three terms in office and significant committee positions, such as chairman of the Higher Education Subcommittee.

    And he is sitting on a Republican majority in the district he represents -- U.S. House District 8 -- even if that majority is slim. ...

    Stuart, a marketing consultant, has support of local unions and an endorsement from the state's most prominent Democrat, former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham. He also has strong local ties. Stuart's brother Robert is an Orlando City Commissioner; his brother Jacob runs the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce; and his brother George is a former state senator. ...

    But The Cook Political Report, a respected nonpartisan think tank that handicaps races, lists the race as a likely Republican win.
    "Experts: Keller not a sure thing in race with Stuart".

    Pretenders To Moderation

    "After Charlie Crist's lopsided victory over Tom Gallagher in Tuesday's Republican primary, some Republicans fear - and others hope - that Crist will revamp the party that Jeb Bush steered hard to the right in the 1990s." "Crist May Tip GOP To Center". There may not be much to this, though:

    State Sen. Dan Webster, an Orlando Republican and a conservative standard-bearer, said Tuesday's results show that voters didn't see much difference between the GOP candidates for governor.

    He dismissed talk of a significant shift in voting patterns.

    "I don't think 15 percent turnout can determine the direction of the party on either side," Webster said.
    "Election may signal GOP turn from the right". See also "Shift To Center?"

    Young Wingers

    It is no secret that "Young Republicans" are perhaps the most extreme of the many radical factions in the RPOF. For example, "In straw polls during the GOP primary, some 80 percent backed Tom Gallagher over Charlie Crist." Now they are throwing their weight behind Representative B. "YR's, But No One Else, Hear Harris Strategy Chat".

    Speaking of Representative B

    "U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' former campaign manager in her candidacy for Senate has been interviewed by federal investigators as part of an inquiry into her relationship with a convicted defense contractor, a newspaper reported Saturday. Jim Dornan spoke to FBI and Defense Department investigators in Washington for about 90 minutes Thursday, the St. Petersburg Times reported." "Ex-worker for Harris questioned in inquiry". See also "Former Katherine Harris campaign manager interviewed by officials".

    Electing Judges

    "Critics say there are several problems with electing judges - and all those allegations are true. Elections mean money, and campaign contributions from lawyers, and possible conflicts of interest. They mean that candidates can be tempted to go too far, to say undignified or even unethical things to get elected. Voters sometimes choose on something as superficial as a name, or gender." "If voters got it 'wrong,' let Supreme Court fix it".

    Viable Reform Candidate Could Hurt Crist

    The media won's pay attention to a candidate with cash who might take some votes away from Crist:

    Linn, a 46-year-old retired financial planner from St. Petersburg, is a Reform Party candidate and one of almost two dozen little-known gubernatorial hopefuls struggling to penetrate the political bubble around Democrats and Republicans.

    He has pumped $1-million of his own cash into his campaign and spent hundreds of thousands on statewide TV ads during shows like The Today Show, Good Morning America and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He has the campaign managers of former presidential candidate Ross Perot and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. And he has recruited as his lieutenant governor Tom Macklin, the Avon Park mayor who proposed to make English the city's official language and to issue fines against landlords and businesses that help illegal immigrants. ...

    Linn counts Sembler, President Bush's former ambassador to Italy, among his mentors and says the St. Petersburg developer persuaded him to open his own financial planning business. ...

    At age 24, Linn was hired by A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. as a financial planner. While at A.G. Edwards, Linn's secretary accused him of sexual harassment. The allegation came out during Linn's first attempt to seek political office - a 1990 Republican bid for a state Senate seat. Linn denied the accusation and the matter was eventually dropped. ...

    Linn served on the first President George Bush's inauguration team, escorting Mel Sembler and Joe Zappala, former ambassador to Spain, to the event. He also donated to Crist's 1998 campaign for U.S. Senate and other to Republican candidates.
    "Waiting for campaign to take off".


    "The keys to Villalobos' success: the elderly and Hispanics. In the precincts he carried, 62 percent of voters were Hispanic and 25 percent were over the age of 64. In the precincts Bolaños carried, only 54 percent were Hispanic and just 18 percent of voters were over 64. Many voters were troubled by the third-party attack groups that littered mailboxes with ads depicting Villalobos as Hillary Clinton, as a hippie or with killer Ted Bundy. A number couldn't understand why Bush and other Tallahassee insiders were targeting their senator, a grandson of Lolo Villalobos, a popular mayor of the Havana suburb of Guanabacoa." "Elderly Hispanics boosted Villalobos".

    And there could be long term ramifications for the fractured RPOF: "Bush's attempt to punish an apostate could turn into a big political miscalculation. Sen. Villalobos' allies resented the campaign against him. In November, the Senate must choose a president for 2007-08. That is supposed to be Ken Pruitt of Port St. Lucie. But he worked to boot Sen. Villalobos from the 2009-10 presidency in favor of Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach." "Jeb's primary mistake".

    Harris in The Corridor

    "Results from the GOP primary election show that U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris has a difficult road ahead of her."

    While the Longboat Key Republican won the four-way contest against the mostly unknown trio of challengers, she fell short of winning 50 percent of the Republican primary vote.

    The numbers were even worse along the Interstate 4 corridor, a critical battleground that political analysts believe is vital for a candidate running for statewide office. In the most populated counties along that stretch, Harris struggled to gain even 40 percent of the vote.

    Worse, the region has been a political stronghold for her November opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
    "Corridor along I-4 will be key for Harris". See also "Nelson, Harris speak in Sarasota".

    Lt. Guv Speculation

    - "Among the prospects often mentioned for Crist: state Rep. Jeff Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral; state Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey; and state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Green Cove Springs, an African-American with a military background."

    - "For Davis, who took a beating in the primary for voting in 1990 against compensating two black men wrongly convicted of murder, many Democrats think he needs to pick an African-American. State Rep. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale and former state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami are frequently mentioned, as well as former Miami-Dade commissioner Jimmy Morales and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle." "Who should run for lieutenant governor? Ask the Magic 8-Ball". See also "Running Mates".

    The Scientology Thing

    "Scientologists are relieved that Frank Farkas' efforts to use Kim Berfield's links to the church against her didn't work in their primary race." "Appeal to prejudice may have fallen flat".

    What Unions Do

    "More than 150 members of the South Florida AFL-CIO knocked on doors throughout Miami-Dade in an effort to turn out union members for the Nov. 7 election." "Union labors door-to-door to get out vote". See also "Union members walk around the state to support Davis, oppose amendment".

    Warning Signs

    "Ordinary voters had few complaints, but some political insiders say Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson should heed some warning signs after overseeing his first countywide election last week." "Primary mishaps shouldn't harm Anderson if fixed by November".

    Earth to Sentinel Editorial Board

    The "We Heart Jebbie" crowd at the Orlando Sentinel editorial board thinks the latest "blistering national report" on "Jeb!"'s legacy - education - is unfair: "the last criticism one can lay on the doorstep of Florida's universities is that they are too expensive. Indeed, many would argue they are too cheap." "A bargain".

    "Too cheap"? The pampered and powdered editorial board have no idea what is happening out in the real world. Sure, compared to other states, tuition rates in Florida are cheap; but, folks in other states actually have jobs with decent wages and, heaven forbid, health insurance and pension benefits. So, they can afford the higher tuitions in other states. Instead of just regurgitating RPOF talking points, the editorial board should spend time reading the articles in their own newspaper (you have to read it all the way to the end); in the Sentinel's own story on the "blistering report" by "the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes education beyond high school," the RPOF/Sentinel Editorial Board stance is rebutted:

    But the report card on higher education indicates that Florida families on average must spend a quarter of their income to send a child to a community college or four-year public university.

    Verdell Pugh Horne, a reading teacher at Seminole High School in Sanford and chairman of the trustees at Seminole Community College, said low incomes in Florida undercut the benefits of low tuition.

    "Someone making $20,000 a year can hardly feed their family, let alone pay for college," Horne said.
    "Report: Uneducated kids imperil state growth".

    The cocktail party set at the editorial board refuse to believe that Florida's employee wage and benefit structure is a disaster, and getting worse.

    South Florida Hispanics

    "Democrats are forming Hispanic caucuses in South Florida to bridge the quiet, clannish divisions among immigrant groups and coax more Latinos to the polls in November. The last decade's surge in eligible voters with ties to countries as disparate as Venezuela and Peru has challenged the Cuban Republican vote, experts say. But Democrats trying to seize on the numbers and find a common Latino voice are often stumped." "Democrats working to attract Hispanics throughout South Florida".

    Oil Drilling

    Mike Thomas believes that "Oil drilling along our coast matter of time".

    He's right, if Floridians (including Thomas) continue to vote for candidates that are wholly owned subsidiaries of the oil industry.

    Tax Revolt

    "Elected officials are getting an earful from Floridians whose property tax bills skyrocket while others enjoy artificially low rates. ... the Save Our Homes amendment, promoted as a way to protect elderly widows from being taxed out of their homes, has led to a massive redistribution of the tax burden." "Tax revolt is rising". See also "Tax truths".

    Ready, Fire, Aim.

    "After a dismal voter turnout in the primary election and a hard-fought governor’s primary that was closer than expected, Florida Democrats vow they’ll make a difference in November." "Democrats, GOP set sights on each other".


    "With loss, Slosberg to retire".

    (No Longer) Secret Deal Will Hurt Buchanan

    "The settlement between Buchanan -- a multimillionaire who just won the Republican primary to succeed Katherine Harris -- and Buford, a wealthy Kansas developer, was supposed to remain secret. But now that some of the details have been revealed, questions are being raised about the way in which Buchanan avoided income taxes and the manner in which his penthouse was appraised." "Accountants, others question settlement between Buchanan, wealthy developer".


    "Nick Thompson was declared the winner in the Republican primary for a Lee County House seat after a re-count Saturday gave him a 35-vote lead over County Commissioner John Albion. ... Thompson faces Democrat Pete Burkert in the November general election to replace Rep. Bruce Kyle, R-Fort Myers, who can't run due to term limits." "Thompson declared winner after re-count in Lee County primary".

    Duking It Out

    " Television viewers will get a double dose of political attacks in the coming days, as U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw and his challenger, state Sen. Ron Klein, duke it out." "Shaw-Klein race heating up".

    CD 9 dKos Diary

    Check out this dKos Diary (with plenty of links) on Busansky v. Bilirakis:

    The campaign has already gotten weird, with allegations of others tampering with Busansky's yard-signs and Susan S's reports of attacks on Max Cleland when he campaigned for Busansky, and her report in the same diary that Bilirakis is being kind enough to hire Swiftboatties. Lovely.

    But there is better news. The race shows up as #34 in Superribbie's August ranking of potentially vulnerable GOP House districts, in the top of the second tier. She's on the DCCC red-to-blue list. And her fundraising puts her in a place to be competitive.
    "FL-09: Phyllis Busansky v. Gus Bilirakis".


    "Chuck Mohlke, chairman of the Collier County Democratic Party and a partner in a firm that does telephone polls, says it is the economy of the robocall that makes it so attractive. That and the fact that the content can be tailored day by day and even hour by hour to reflect the message the candidate wants to convey at a given moment. Mohlke said a candidate has to judge whether robocalls will win or lose points. 'It is in the category of a calculated risk,' he said, adding that little research has been done to determine whether they are a net plus or minus." "Brent Batten: Impersonal 'robocalls' not the best way to win over voters".

    Haitian "Growing Pains"

    "The recent primary showed that, despite its perceived clout, South Florida's Haitian-American community has political growing pains." "Haitian-American candidates faced a double challenge".

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