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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 Saturday, November 18, 2006

CD 13 Lawsuit Looms

    As expected, the recount changed nothing in CD 13. You can't recount electronic votes that were never recorded in the first place (assuming there were "undervotes" that were never recorded):
    The recount and final tabulations of the military and overseas ballots show that while Democrat Christine Jennings trimmed Republican Vern Buchanan's lead, Buchanan still had a narrow 369-vote edge.

    "These are the official results," said Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent, a Republican. "Our job is done."

    On Monday, the Florida Division of Elections is scheduled to make the Buchanan victory official when it certifies the results from Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Hardee counties. The Jennings campaign would then have 10 days to challenge the results.

    Jennings' attorney, Kendall Coffey, said no decision has been made on whether to proceed with a court challenge. But he did pan the recount process for its failure to show why 18,000 Sarasota County voters didn't have a vote registered in the congressional battle. While less than 5 percent of voters in the other four counties that make up the 13th District skipped the race, almost 13 percent did so in Sarasota.

    "The recount was an important step in this election process, but ultimately it was an exercise that revealed nothing and did nothing to provide a real explanation for what went wrong with Sarasota County's voting system," Coffey said.
    "Buchanan wins District 13 recount; legal action looms". See also "GOP claims recount in Sarasota -- for now" ("Jennings could challenge the results early next week as soon as the state certifies them. Her campaign maintains there is widespread evidence that voting machines malfunctioned, costing Jennings an unknown number of votes.")

    "Something strange happened in Sarasota County when one in eight voters - more than 18,000 people - skipped a high-profile, neck-and-neck congressional race. But what was it?"
    These are the leading explanations - faulty, paperless machines, turned-off voters, and bad ballot design combined with careless voters - to explain how the voting pattern in Sarasota could be so different from surrounding counties voting in the same race.

    Jennings won Sarasota County, which recorded overwhelmingly higher numbers of undervotes than counties that used different voting machines, or even from Sarasota voters who cast absentee ballots.

    But as a two-day recount concluded Friday and lawsuits appeared certain, it is unclear whether there ever will be a clear explanation for what happened.
    "Voting mystery defies solid answer". See also "Manual recount ends leaving Buchanan leading Jennings".

    And then there's the so-called "audit" by the state of Florida:
    When the state of Florida announced it would investigate Sarasota County's disputed congressional race, officials suggested they would turn over every rock to find out why more than 18,000 ballots registered no vote in that campaign.

    "We are re-creating Election Day," Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, said last week.

    But now it's clear that when officials audit the race for House District 13, they will be "re-creating Election Day" only on a small scale, leaving many questions unanswered.
    "Voting problem could go unsolved". The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board is concerned about the "audit":
    To most people, an "audit" is a form of torture invented by the IRS. But what happens when an election, rather than a taxpayer, is in the hot seat?

    We've been asked that question lately as the state prepares to audit Sarasota County's disputed congressional election, in which Sarasota's blank-ballot rate was almost six times that of Manatee. ...

    A three-page "audit plan [note: .pdf file]" for Sarasota County is posted on the state Division of Elections' Web site (http://election.dos.state.fl.us/). ..

    Experts we've talked to say the plan looks comprehensive, but they want more specifics. The details of the parallel testing -- how many machines, who picks the participants and precincts, etc. -- could get particularly contentious.

    The thoroughness of an elections audit may be its most important characteristic, but the value of the process ultimately depends on its transparency -- citizens' ability to witness the whole shebang. The secretary of state has pledged to conduct the audit in an "open and public manner."

    That's a promise that must be kept.
    "What's in an audit? Wanted: thoroughness and transparency".

    Finally, to the extent anyone cares, "Bush likes the irony over touch screens".

    Open Mouth ...

    Insert Foot; Hotline explains:

    "White rednecks" who "didn't show up to vote for us" partly cost GOPers their cong. majorities, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) told fellow Republicans today. And Putnam, seeking the post of GOP conference chair, chided ex-Chair J.C. Watts (R-OK) for ruining the conference's ability to serve its members.
    "Putnam Wants To Know: Where Were The Rednecks?" (via William March) See also "Will Putnam's Gaffe Cost Him Leadership Race?"

    Bottom Line: Republicans are a forgiving lot, particularly of those who lament the loss of support of "white rednecks" while at the same time personally attacking Black GOP Congressman J. C. Watts (A "Watts associate confirmed that he had learned of Putnam’s comments and that he was angered by them."). See "Putnam wins leadership post" ("Rep. Adam Putnam has been elected chairman of the House Republican Conference, making the Bartow lawmaker No. 3 in the GOP leadership.")

    Rubio Apparently Likes Baxley's "Ideas"

    "Incoming House Speaker Marco Rubio announced Friday that Reps. Dennis Baxley, Marty Bowen, Ellyn Bogdanoff and Adam Hasner would be part of his leadership team when he takes over next week. Baxley, an Ocala Republican, will be speaker pro tempore, while Bowen of Winter Haven will become the next majority leader. Fort Lauderdale Republican Bogdanoff and Delray Beach Republican Hasner will have the jobs of majority whip and deputy majority leader respectively." "Rubio announces leadership posts". See also "Rubio names House leaders", "Rubio names House leaders" and "Rubio names four members to leadership team in House".

    A "W.D." Story

    "Florida's largest appellate court has quietly replaced its chief judge amid internal rancor and suggestions of political influence surrounding the bribery conviction and prison sentence of former Sen. W.D. Childers." "Chief appeals judge steps down".

    More Mel

    Can you imagine? "What may be good for Republicans may not be good for Florida."

    As party chairman, though, Sen. Martinez will have to be gratuitously partisan. ...

    Consider offshore oil drilling. Sens. Martinez and Nelson teamed up this year to block attempts to put rigs too close to the shore. President Bush and some of the party's biggest backers supported the plan. If it comes back, will Sen. Martinez go with his state or his party?

    Sen. Martinez resorted to homophobia during his 2004 primary campaign, then led the 2005 Senate charge to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. Later, he worked with Democrats to craft a good immigration reform bill and to protect the state's beaches. That role, not the one of party propagandist, is the one Florida needs him to play.
    "Stick with state, Mel".

    There is good reason to believe that "Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein" will always do precisely what Bushco tells him to do.

    On a related note, the "we heart Mel" crowd is concerned about Lott tarnishing Saint Mel: "Martinez's appointment as chairman of the Republican National Committee sent an encouraging message to Hispanics [who, according to the Orlando Sentinel, do not distinguish between wealthy Cubans and less well off Puerto Ricans and Mexicans] and others that the party wanted to be more inclusive. But that positive light dimmed this week with the appointment of Sen. Trent Lott as minority whip." "Mixed message".

    A more sober commentator fears that "if Congress fails to pass comprehensive immigration reform, or if most Republicans vote against it, Hispanics will see President Bush's party as the party that looks at Hispanics as potential criminals, erects walls on the border and jokes about bullet-ridden vests taken away from dead migrants.". In such circumstances, Mel will not make a difference even if he "decided to wear a Mexican sombrero and go around singing Guantanamera for the next two years." "Tall task for Mel Martinez".

    The Transition Thing

    "There are a whole lot of people in this capital city who are wondering if they're going to have jobs two months from now and a whole lot of people who are eager to replace them." "Crist transition team has large task to fill new administration".


    "Struck by their sudden celebrity status in the nation's capital, congressmen-elect Ron Klein and Tim Mahoney were warmly embraced by Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill this week and instantly recognized by their Republican adversaries at the White House. Full of smiles and praises, Democrats were delighted to greet the South Floridians and their fellow newcomers to Congress because they will give the long-suffering opposition party majority control of the House of Representatives." "Washington welcomes Klein, Mahoney to Capitol Hill". See also "Democrats surge ahead; Crist, Mahoney triumph".

    Hard Times

    "Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley attended funeral home visitation Friday for his father, who died of complications from cancer this week. Foley had been in seclusion since checking himself into an Arizona facility for treatment of alcoholism Oct. 1." "Foley: 'It's just been a real hard time'". See also "Friends provide support for Foley".

    Lie Down With Dogs

    "David Caton, the executive director of the socially conservative Florida Family Association, has a long record of supporting discrimination against homosexuals and opposing what he calls the 'radical homosexual agenda.'" "Misguided".

    Oh yeah, he also has "a long record of supporting" Republicans.

    Special Session

    "The incoming leader of the Florida House says he and his Senate counterpart agree in principle that they need a special legislative session to handle property-insurance problems, but they have not decided when to do it." "Special session comes down to timing".


    "Jim Greer, a 44-year-old Oviedo City Council member and member of the Seminole County Republican Executive Committee, will succeed Carole Jean Jordan after a formal election early next year. ... U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, hailed Greer as tireless and savvy, and both a principled conservative and pragmatic problem-solver. ... Greer, president of a consulting firm that trains and certifies employees for the hospitality industry, this election cycle gave $15,000 to the state GOP and $10,000 to a political committee backing Crist, called the Conservative Values Coalition." "Crist taps campaign activist to lead GOP". See also "Crist names James Greer GOP state chairman".


    "Greer's selection, however, is one more sign that 'Maestro' George LeMieux will wind up taking a lead role in the governor's office. LeMieux, who helmed Crist's campaign, has reportedly been weighing whether to run the party, or to work for Crist. The prime issue for LeMieux is the impact a job such as chief of staff would have on his family." "Whither George LeMieux?"

    Byrd's Baaack

    "Old politicians should not die, but they should fade away. Former Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd of Plant City is making a power play to take over the institute that bears his father's name: The Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida in Tampa." "Byrd power play stains good work".

    Another Great "Idea"

    "The House Spaceport and Technology Committee is being eliminated in the chamber's new committee structure." "Space committee faces chopping block".

    Slowin' Down

    "State's school growth spurt slows".

    Outa Here

    "Homeowners: Taxes force residents to move".

    Apparently, elimination of the opprobrius "intangibles Tax" - Jebbie's signature "achievement" - just wasn't quite enough to keep folks from leaving.


    On Thursday, "Florida's Board of Governors unanimously approved a University of Florida proposal for a $1,000-a-year student fee that would be used to boost the school's national ranking and hire more teachers." "$1,000 UF fee moves closer to state OK".

    Friendship Counts

    "Bense friend gets House job despite past arrests".

    I Am Shocked!

    "A 10-year Department of Juvenile Justice employee said Friday he was fired because he wouldn't go along with a coverup of the seriousness of an altercation between guards at a boot camp and a boy who later died." "Ex-official: Resisting boot camp coverup cost him job".

    "Mammoth Rate Increases"

    "A thankfully quiet hurricane season is poised to end with a jolt anyway -- the mammoth rate increases proposed this week by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. This umpteenth reminder that Florida's insurance net is a mess ought to put further pressure on state lawmakers to meet in special session and make meaningful insurance reforms." "Insurance".

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