Today's Florida political news and punditry.
HD 3 Election Day
"Democrats statewide have poured more than $37,000 in the last two weeks into a special House race in the Panhandle, where the party has recently found little cause for celebration."
Democrat Elizabeth Campbell of Pensacola is facing off against Republican Clay Ford of Gulf Breeze today in the House District 3 race set up when Gov. Charlie Crist appointed incumbent Holly Benson to head the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation."Dems funnel cash to open race". More at this dKos diary here.
According to Democratic polling, the fundraising has made Campbell competitive against Ford. But the Republican has still dominated the money race.
Ford's $125,000 total raised includes $35,000 that he loaned to his campaign and $48,000 of in-kind expenses such as direct mail, office space, phone banks and staffing the state Republican Party provided. ...
More than three-fourths of the $46,000 Campbell raised for the race came from outside Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
"But if one believed much of the rhetoric coming from the Capitol, most local governments in Florida are fiscally fat and routinely reckless, bimbos behaving like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears during a night on the town. Even if one believes that's true, a solution that punishes the responsible governments as well as the irresponsible ones is unfair." "Hazard of haste".
Florida's Dueling VP Prospects
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The talk is that Mr. Bush could be Mr. Romney's running mate." And if that weren't enough:
Since Gov. Crist might be a potential McCain running mate, the change [i.e.,no RPOF straw poll] could help his own politics."Crist wins, state wins".
"House Speaker Marco Rubio embarked Monday morning on a two-day tour to spread the word about his plan to abolish property taxes. But things went awry even before he left Miami." "Rubio tries to sell tax switch". Among other things, Rubio
caused an uproar ... on The Jim DeFede Show. He informed listeners that his dad was a bartender and mom a casino maid, and that the working class "depends on people's leftover money.""Rubio's 'working class' comments cause stir". See also "Rubio: working-class lives off 'leftover money'". On a different subject, "Rubio Talks About House Demotions".
The remarks came as Rubio defended the House plan to eliminate property taxes in favor of a 2.5 percent sales tax increase. The more money people have to spend, he argued, the better off the working class will be -- a sort of trickle down theory.
The more disposable income there is, "the faster the working class can join, can grow into the ranks of homeownership, can send send their kids to college," Rubio said.
Elon University Poll
The Buzz reports:
A Feb. 18-22 Elon University poll of 719 voters in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia shows Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton leading. Among Dems, Clinton had 30%, Barack Obama 14%, Edwards 8%. Among Republicans, Giuliani had 21%, John McCain 16%, Mitt Romney 3 %.And get this:
57% of the southern voters said they would support a national health insurance system."Poll: Hillary and Rudy lead". More on the health insurance issue:
Forty-nine percent of respondents said they are dissatisfied or strongly dissatisfied with the quality of health care, while 47 percent are satisfied or strongly satisfied. Seventy-seven percent said they have some form of private health insurance or private health care coverage; 22 percent do not.Poll Press Release.
Fifty-seven percent said they would support or strongly support a national insurance plan paid for by the federal government that would pay all medical and hospital costs for all citizens. Thirty-four percent oppose or strongly oppose such a plan.
"Strong support for national health care in the south is surprising," said [Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll]. "This initiative was very unpopular 10 years ago when it was proposed by the Clinton administration. Given the support we now see, this could possibly be the deciding issue for the Democrats in the 2008 elections."
Garcia Takes Over Miami-Dade DEC
"In a shake-up aimed at whipping activists into shape for the 2008 presidential election, the Miami-Dade Democratic Party on Monday picked a newcomer with national credentials to be chairman."
Joe Garcia joined the party's executive committee just three months ago but has years of political experience as the Hispanic strategy director of the New Democratic Network and former executive director of the Cuban-American National Foundation.He's got a lot of work to do:
As chairman of the Miami-Dade party, he will be responsible for recruiting local and state candidates, raising money, and getting out the vote in Florida's largest county. Garcia, who is a Cuban American, takes over at a time when the political parties are fiercely jockeying for the growing and influential Hispanic vote.
The local party has hovered at the margins of political power for years, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans in Miami-Dade, representing about 42 percent of the county's more than 1 million voters. Few elected officials and major donors are involved. Monthly meetings fall apart without a quorum."Dade Democrats pick new chairman".
Building Code Delay Sought
"Florida's home-building industry is pushing to delay strengthened building codes, claiming hurricane protections sought by Gov. Charlie Crist and passed by the Legislature in January come too fast." "Home builders want to delay tougher rules".
"A group of Alabama residents with second homes in the Panhandle have filed a class-action suit asking a Leon County judge to throw out the state's Save Our Homes property-assessment cap. The four Alabama residents with second homes in Walton and Okaloosa counties are asking that back taxes be refunded to thousands of Florida's non-homesteaded homeowners." "Group sues over Save Our Homes".
"Crist will ask Tuesday morning that his fellow members of the Florida Cabinet vote to name Electra Bustle, assistant commissioner at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to replace Fred Dickinson, the long-time chief of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles." "New Highway Safety director up for vote Tuesday".
100 Ideas That Won't Go Away
"School Board considers 100 ideas".
"The Florida Elections Commission has dismissed a complaint filed against Gov. Charlie Crist by a St Petersburg man who accused Crist of accepting illegal campaign contributions from his running mate and Battaglia Enterprises Inc., a corporation controlled by St. Petersburg attorney Anthony S. Battaglia." "Ethics complaint against Crist dismissed".
"The state has found probable cause that Adrien Helm's Pinellas Democrats PAC violated contribution limits in August by accepting $5,000 from local Democratic Party activist Frank Lupo." "Helm PAC in Hot Water".
Michael Mayo: "Even Broward's nonprofits are singing the property tax blues".
One Stop Shopping
"It's the week before the annual legislation session which means: money, money, money!" "One stop in the pre-session fundraising spree".
"Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning" and All That
National Geographic has a lengthy piece on Orlando: "Walt Disney's utopian dream forever changed Orlando, Florida, and laid the blueprint for the new American metropolis." "The Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning of America: How Walt Disney Changed Everything" (via Taking Names).
In Daytona Beach, "Leaders from the Florida House of Representatives and Senate want your opinion about taxes." "Town hall meeting on property taxes slated".
A Florida Thing
"And while people might be strolling the grounds in the buff, resort General Manager Rebecca Enrico said it's possible no one will be naked at the forum." "Forum at nudist resort is more than Loxahatchee candidate can bear".
"This could be the people's year in Tallahassee, if you believe state lawmakers." It must be true if a lobbyist says so:
"There's never been a year that could have more of an effect on the masses," said Ron Book, who has been lobbying at the Capitol for almost 40 years."Legislature promises more relevance this year".
"One Step Closer"
"Florida came one step closer to creating a paper trail for elections when last week the manufacturer of electronic voting machines received state certification of AutoMark, an optical scanner accessible to disabled and non-English-reading voters."
This brings the 15 counties in Florida that use error-prone touch-screen machines (Broward and Miami-Dade counties among them) closer to switching to optical scanners. With optical-scan machines, voters circle or fill in boxes on cards, creating a paper trail that can be used for a recount. Touch screens provide no such tangible record."A voting advance".
Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan reminds us how dopes like Ric [sic] Keller slid
into office. Back in 2000, the Orlando Republican seized upon an $18,500 statue of a frog that was put up while Linda Chapin, a Democrat, was county chairman."Politics just isn't an artful affair".
It made no difference to Keller that the money actually came from a public-arts fund established by a Republican-controlled board of commissioners. He was amphibian-obsessed. He got an intern to dress up in a frog costume for campaign events and even brought Dick Armey to town, so that the House majority leader could actually stand next to the bronze frog and complain about it.
Keller ended up beating Chapin by 2 percentage points -- and the Republican Party started showing the frog ads to other GOP candidates as an example of how to win an election.
Said Sheehan: "Keller rode that frog into office."
It also didn't hurt that Keller became a wholly owned subsidiary of the "Club for Growth", which funded his initial election. Put differently, Keller got elected because he is "'a hood ornament for the Club for Growth'". The
Washington, D.C.-based group kept Keller alive during the 2000 election with $600,000 in hard and soft money, much of which went to vicious attack ads against [primary opponent Bill] Sublette and [Democrat Linda] Chapin. Keller was the club's top priority ..., and it claimed responsibility for his win.""Ricky-boy's rebirth". The "Club" also "ran radio and television ads in the district during his primary and run-off." "It Keeps Growing, and Growing, and Growing...".
"Charlie Crist sure likes the Greer family." "Crist Gives Another Greer a Job".
More From the "Values" Crowd
"Florida has a subsidized health insurance program for children who have no coverage. So, does the Florida Constitution need to be amended 'to guarantee every child in the state has available, accessible and affordable comprehensive, quality health care including basic dental and vision care'?"
If the Legislature adequately financed the KidCare program the answer would be an easy no. Instead, the Legislature repeatedly has done everything possible to ensure that KidCare does not reach many of the 700,000 children in the state who lack access to health care. Renewed commitment to KidCare is encouraging, but is it enough to overcome - and prevent a repeat of - the state's efforts to undermine KidCare over the past seven years?"Guaranteed KidCare?".
"Martinez told the Tampa Tribune editorial board today that he’ll continue pressing for immigration reform, despite the criticism his prominent role in the issue got him from the conservative wing of his own party." "Martinez Says He’s Not Backing Down On Immigration Reform".
"Sea cows call the warm waters near energy facilities home. Scientists fear that if a plant closes, those animals might not head to springs or migrate to South Florida." "Troubled waters for manatees?".
We're Number One!
"Florida's latest No. 1 designation is no reason for celebration. The state is the most dangerous in the country for the homeless." "Homeless".
"Crist pressed congressional leaders Monday to reform disaster insurance by creating a national catastrophe fund, but his enthusiastic pitch got only a lukewarm reception on Capitol Hill." "Gov. Crist pitches disaster backstop" See also "Crist touts catastrophe fund idea".
Indeed, "Crist hinted Monday that his support for a presidential candidate could depend on how that candidate views what many Floridians consider the state’s top federal issue—a national reinsurance fund to deal with natural catastrophes, or 'cat fund.'" "Cat Fund Politics".
More Public Hearings
"Florida's public universities are being told they need an extreme makeover if they want to boost their reputations and make room for thousands of new students. ... Prospects might become clearer today at the University of Central Florida as the Board of Governors launches a series of hearings to collect ideas as it shapes a blueprint for the state's higher education of the future." "University governors want your opinions".
Largo City Manager
"Last summer, Largo commissioners gave City Manager Steve Stanton another glowing evaluation. After 14 years as manager, he still won their praise. Yet tonight those commissioners will meet to consider firing Stanton."
The meeting comes less than a week after he revealed that he plans to get gender-reassignment surgery to become a woman. Commissioners who stood by Stanton late last week are waffling now after an onslaught of critical messages from upset Largo residents. The commission's most conservative member, Mary Gray Black, has called for Stanton to be put on leave, with a public hearing and vote on firing him to follow. ..."Judge official on skills, not sex".
It is understandable that some people would be shocked or feel awkward around Stanton at first. The harsh community reaction to his decision should not have been unexpected, either. A proposed human rights ordinance was bitterly opposed three years ago in Largo, where conservative churches are politically powerful.