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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, November 28, 2006

Pruitt Hides Behind Lawyer's Skirts

    Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, the fellow the subject of a series of Palm Beach Post and St Pete Times' articles, including: "Pruitt defends ties to home builders association, consultant", "Pruitt defends associating with big donors", "How Ken Pruitt used bus tour, committees to rise in Senate" and "Class-size flip-flop of Pruitt tied to interests", and "Shame on Ken Pruitt". See generally our Febuary 25, 2006 post, "Today's Political News - Heat Is On Pruitt" (note that the Palm Beach Post links are archived, and thus available for a fee and/or via Nexis)

    In any event, Pruitt "will give a sworn deposition Thursday in a defamation suit filed by Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, against political consultant Randy Nielsen and the Florida Home Builders Association, among others." Pruitt doesn't want the public to know the details, so any "news reporter who tries to attend Pruitt's deposition is likely to force a postponement, pending a hearing by the judge assigned to the case." "Reporters not welcome at Pruitt deposition".

    For more on the sordid Kreegel-Pruitt matter, see these earlier stories: "Michael Peltier: Lawmaker turns tables on secretive electioneering organizations", "Pruitt must testify in defamation suit" and "Mailed fliers target politician again".

    CD 13 "Audit"

    "For 12 hours today, state elections officials will try to re-create a slice of Sarasota County's controversial Election Day."

    "It's like having Ford employees doing all the test driving of the Taurus to see what went wrong," said Jennings' attorney, Kendall Coffey, of the state's plans to have its employees conduct the mock voting.

    Because the state approved the type of equipment used in the election, it has an interest in seeing the audit reveal no unusual problems, Coffey said.
    "Sarasota workers to relive Election Day". See also "An audit to nowhere?" ("Regardless of the results, the state can’t order another election; that will be decided in court.")

    Per The Buzz, "here's the drill for auditing the Sarasota touch screen machines for the CD 13 race".

    Palm Beach Post Editorial Writer Joel Engelhardt pens this today, "Here's how to jam up Election Day", about how, with the Sarasota County imbrolgio, "one election expert has his way, touch-screen voters will don headsets to give themselves the best chance of knowing that machines accurately record their vote." Engelhardt ain't impressed.

    In the meantime, as "frantic shoppers are busy searching for the perfect holiday gift, Sarasota County commissioners will soon be shopping for new voting machines that will satisfy citizens' demand for a paper trail." "Sarasota begins voting changes". See also "Commissioners will talk about machines today".

    Remember to keep an eye on the Sarasota Herald Tribune's most excellent "Special section: District 13 recount". The site has links to the latest stories and official documents. Another good resource is the Leon County Clerk's Office High Profile Case page, which includes links to all the court filings in the Jennings litigation.

    Finally, in this typically insightful Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial today, we are reminded that, the
    problems are not limited to touch-screen machines: Here in Volusia County, many still remember how, in the early hours of vote-counting for the 2000 presidential election, Democratic candidate Al Gore at one point showed negative 16,022 votes. But when technology went haywire, Volusia County had paper ballots to recount. Sarasota County does not.
    The editorial concludes with this:
    Legislators can spare other Floridians the courtroom brawls and crippling uncertainty of another botched election -- by mandating paper trails in other counties and only finalizing elections after electronic machine tallies have been verified, when necessary, by hand recounts.

    The Sarasota County debacle proves, once again, that Florida voters aren't using the best technology. It's difficult to understand why state officials keep arguing for less reliable means of vote-counting.
    "Vote smart".

    GOP Leader Insults Miami

    Will someone explain why Cubans put up with GOP garbage like this?

    In South Florida to attend Restoration Weekend, a gathering of conservative activists, [Rep. Tom Tancredo] the Colorado Republican, whose district includes suburbs of Denver, pointed to Miami as an example of how "the nature of America can be changed by uncontrolled immigration," the story says.

    "Look at what has happened to Miami," the WorldNetDaily quotes Tancredo as saying in an interview. "It has become a Third World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America. You would certainly say you're in a Third World country."

    The remarks drew an instant rebuke from Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who called Tancredo "flat out wrong" and extended an invitation for him to come and judge the city for himself.
    "Congressman calls Miami a 'Third World country'".

    Who Knew?

    The Palm Beach Post advises that Congressfolk "Klein and Mahoney crossed Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi by supporting Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer for majority leader over Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, the Iraq pullout advocate and unindicted Abscam figure."

    Dems Fight For Paper Trail

    "Though Gov. Jeb Bush has opposed legislation in Florida mandating the paper records, fellow Republican Charlie Crist, who succeeds Bush in January, has expressed vague support. South Florida Democrats including state House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, and state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Fort Lauderdale, said they expect to lead the effort in Tallahassee to require that voting machines deliver paper proof of a vote. Ring called it 'absolutely unconscionable that we can't seem to get this [vote-counting] right in Florida.'" "Democrats renew drive for paper trail in voting".


    After his genuflection to Mel the other day, Scott Maxwell redeems himself a bit in this (easy) shot at Ric [sic] Keller (who always seems to be leading with his chin anyway); Maxwell writes that

    in politics, where promises often last only as long as a roll of toilet paper (and are roughly equal in value), there is an art to breaking your word.

    And Ric Keller proved to be a professional in this genre last week.

    Keller, you see, vowed to serve four terms and then leave Congress. U.S. Term Limits, a national advocacy group that promotes such restrictions, said he even signed a pledge.

    No one forced Keller to do this. He volunteered to do so in 2000 when he was an upstart candidate who figured signing the contract would earn some good publicity. It did, helping Keller eke out a 50.8 percent victory that year.

    But with his inaugural victory long behind him, Keller announced last week that he was reneging on his pledge. He said he made a mistake as a "rookie candidate" and had subsequently discovered the value of tenure.

    His excuse may have rung hollow. But his timing was quite smart. He announced his broken promise just a few days after his last election and long before his next one.
    "Maxwell: The art of breaking your word".


    Tim Mahoney's chief of staff will be

    Charles Halloran, who joined the underdog Mahoney campaign against Foley in June as a general consultant. Halloran helped direct the negative ad strategy that already had lopped 11 points off Foley's approval rating before the scandal hit.
    And isn't this delightful
    Halloran has worked for a long list of Dems going back to former Veep Walter Mondale and also has ties to maverick Republican consultant Roger Stone. Halloran was campaign manager for the Rev. Al Sharpton's Stone-encouraged Democratic presidential bid in 2004.
    "Campaign aces to pilot Hill offices" (As an aside, "Brian Smoot, who managed Klein's Iraq- and President Bush-focused campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, will be Klein's chief of staff in Washington.")

    One supposes this is a relief to Mahoney: "Don't include new Florida Senate Prez Ken Pruitt of Port St. Lucie in chatter about potential 2008 Mahoney challengers. Says Pruitt: 'I never say never. But I'm saying never.'".

    The Other Undervote(s)

    Strange: "Less noticed on Nov. 7 were problems at polling stations in Charlotte, Lee and Sumter counties where, according to Common Cause of Florida, more than 40,000 voters who used touch screens appear not to have chosen between candidates in the state attorney general's race."

    Licking Their Wounds

    "Gov.-elect Charlie Crist is likely to get rock star treatment at this week's conference in Miami of the Republican Governors Association. Crist's victory was one of the bright spots nationwide for the GOP, which lost its majority of governorships in the Nov. 7 election." "Republican governors unite".

    Bristling Republicans

    "Sarasota County Republican Party chairman Bob Waechter isn't sugar-coating what he says went wrong for local Republicans in 2006. Standing before the Sarasota County Republican Executive Committee, Waechter told the 100 people in the crowd what he thought. ... The scolding was clearly hard to listen to for many in the audience who bristled in their chairs at Waechter." "Candidates already thinking ahead".

    Mainstream Dems

    "A political group called the Florida Mainstream Demcrats, formed back in 2004 to keep conservative North Florida Dems from fleeing the party, is tooting its horn over the $1.13 million it raised during the election cycle. That's because it's the most the group has ever raised." "'Mainstream' Dems raise $1 million".

    Bushco Meeting In Tally

    "Former President George H.W. Bush is expected to be in Tallahassee next week." "A visit from '41'". In the meantime, grab your orange vest as "Dick Cheney flew into Tallahassee on Monday afternoon to go on a hunting trip." "ice president passes through".

    "Giv[ing] Bipartisanship a Bad Name"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "There's no good reason that state Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando - now felon Gary Siplin - should be allowed to continue in the Legislature. Yet in a move that gives bipartisanship a bad name, the Senate's Republican president says the first felon to serve in that body can keep doing so until his appeals are exhausted." "Senator in name only".

    New Rules

    Teach me the rules: In

    the House, Rubio decreased the number of councils and the number of committees _ meaning that there will be less plum assignments to hand out to his fellow Republicans. And the committees themselves will likely be composed of more members. This was done to accomplish Rubio's goal of tying together the committees that vote on substantive legislation with the ones responsible for drawing up the budget.

    But in the Senate, Pruitt actually increased the number of standing committees, creating new committees to deal with education facilities, higher education budget issues and higher education legislation. This is a very interesting decision. Funding for education facilities used to be done behind closed doors by the chairman of the entire budget committee. And spinning off higher education budget issues into a stand-alone committee will reduce the influence of the education appropriations chairman.

    The other big change in the Senate: The creation of six new policy and calendar committees that will be responsible for shepherding legislation to the floor instead of having it handled by a single committee. Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster calls this an effort to spread out the power instead of concentrating it in the hands of a few people.
    "New bosses bring new rules".

    Depends On What You Mean By "Productive"

    "At the wonderful hour of 8 a.m. on Tuesday, House Speaker Marco Rubio will kick off a two-day "House Member Academy. ... The session on how to have a productive meeting with a lobbyist will be led by Reps. Joe Pickens and Andy Gardiner." "It's academy time for House members". See also "Lawmaking 101".

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