"It's still early in this election season, but something odd is happening. The old anti-Castro rhetoric seems to be fading."
But if the candidates don't sound like they used to, that may be because Miami's Cuban community doesn't think like it used to.Just read it:"GOP losing grip on Cuban-Americans".
"There has been a seismic shift in the political views of Cuban-Americans," said Joe Garcia, chairman of the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade County. "The Cuban vote is becoming less Republican." ...
Among Hispanics in Miami-Dade, Republicans still outnumber Democrats 251,929 to 132,432 123,985 are not affiliated with either party. But almost 25 years after Reagan's speech, the Republican Party's once seemingly unbreakable grip on the Cuban exile community may be loosening. ...
The majority of older Cuban-American voters remain a solid Republican party bloc, but their numbers are dwindling.
"The 'historic' exiles are passing away and not being replaced in the same weight," said Sergio Bendixen, a Miami pollster working on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Less than half of Miami Dade County's Hispanic voters are registered Republicans (48 percent), down from 59 percent a decade ago, the Miami Herald reported last month. One Hispanic group which organizes voter registration drives, Democracia USA, reports that 45 percent of the 56,000 voters it registered last year chose no party affiliation. ...
Younger exiles show less interest in Cuba and are more engaged in national issues, he says. "They give Cuba almost no importance," he said. "For them it's education, health care, and Hispanic issues such as immigration."
On top of that, new arrivals from the island are less enthusiastic about isolating Cuba, in large part because they still have relatives there.
The number of Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County who support dialogue with the Cuban government has risen from 40 percent in 1991 to 65 percent, according to a poll by Florida International University.
In one recent poll conducted for the Democratic Party in two heavily Cuban-American congressional districts in Miami-Dade County, voters rated getting rid of Castro sixth among their concerns. Their top priority was getting out of Iraq
FlaDems to Fold?
"Florida Democrats, unable to work out a compromise to avoid harsh sanctions imposed by the Democratic National Committee, appear ready to give in and declare the Jan. 29 presidential primary meaningless." "State Democrats backing down on primary".
Freddie Ain't Ready for Prime Time
Freddie is really grubbing For the Wingnut Vote: "On the day South Florida mourned a slain police officer, Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson stopped in Miami and stuck firmly to his guns over what he says is the unnecessary call for limiting the right to bear arms." "Thompson: No gun limits".
Freddie shares a bit more of his wingnut wisdom here: "Thompson: Reconsider automatic citizenship for everyone born here".
Freddie's knuckle dragging may be paying off - he looks to have locked down Pasco's political powerhouse: "Thompson got a strong endorsement from gun control opponent and local GOP chairman Bill Bunting during a campaign stop Friday." "Thompson Visits Pasco".
"A Screeching Halt"
"The ruling stunned government officials and lawyers across Florida, leaving them perplexed over whether all bonds would have to go out for a vote. ... 'School construction is going to come to a screeching halt,' said Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association." "Ruling imperils public projects". See also "Schools question high court's ruling".
Your Tax Dollars at Work
"In recent years, [Orange] county officials have defended taxpayer-funded trips to far-flung destinations, saying they learn important information at conferencessponsored by professional organizations"
.But an Orlando Sentinel investigation has found that those trips are only aportion of the costs: Seven county governments in Central Florida have morethan 1,000 memberships with dues of about $1.5 million annually."Group dues tax counties' coffers". See also "Memberships cost Volusia $545,000".
Taxpayer money goes to groups ranging from big-budgeted organizations suchas the Florida Association of Counties -- Orange County's annual dues top$100,000 -- to hyper-specific groups such as the International Council ofShopping Centers, which costs Osceola $50.
Raul to Run?
"Former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez says his tenure as a radio host -- all of a week -- is over because he won't rule out running for elected office. ... Martinez, a Democrat who stepped down as the city's mayor in 2005, said he's still considering whether he wants to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart in 2008." "Martinez: Politics tops radio".
"PIP law may not disappear after all". See also "New plan resurrects form of PIP insurance in Florida".
"What used to be a 51-mile railroad corridor is poised to become the East Central Rail Trail -- if the Florida Cabinet gives the nod Wednesday to spend $16 million from Florida Forever funds to acquire about 671 acres." "Trail in the making".
"It's easy to say what should be in the casino deal Gov. Crist negotiates with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It's harder to figure out what kind of deal is possible." "Limit deal with Seminoles".
"To Do List"
Mark Lane makes a point and a list:
There are a few bitter people in Florida politics who do not love Gov. Charlie Crist.See what he means here: "Crist's to-do list grows".
They feel he has led a strangely charmed existence. They feel he has coasted along and avoided heavy lifting. But at a time when the Republican Party is not terribly popular, they cannot gainsay a guy whose popularity is in magical 70 percent range.
Well, new polling this week shows that unhappiness over property taxes, car and property insurance, and the need for painful new budget cuts on the state and local levels have taken their toll on the governor's popularity. Where he once had an approval rate in the mid-70s, a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday measured his approval at a deflated 65 percent.
It might be a good idea, however, to pause a moment and put that number in perspective. A 65 percent approval rating is still 3 points higher than the highest spike in popularity former Gov. Jeb Bush ever experienced. (The so-called "hurricane bounce" after the 2004 storms.)
Crist is no longer Superman in the opinion polls, but at 65 percent, he's still Batman.
So what does he need to do to turn things around and regain his astounding powers over the minds of Florida voters? Well, in no particular order: ...
"A new law allows people to revoke signatures within 150 days of signing petitions. Opponents of Hometown Democracy have launched a campaign with mail, a toll-free line and Web site. They hope to convince enough people to change their minds to kill the antigrowth initiative. The clock is ticking."
The letterhead bears the name of "The Honorable John Thrasher," a former House speaker."Urgent! Act now or developers will suffer!".
Writing on behalf of a group called "Save Our Constitution," his pitch is that Hometown Democracy is the work of "big developers," when they are the actually targets of the initiative.
"Tangled politics and sticky personalities surround Florida's five-year-old Alzheimer's disease initiative, threatening its potential to yield new treatments or even a cure." "Byrd Alzheimer's Center Opens Amid Funding War".
"The Florida Legislature's new and improved teacher merit pay plan may have passed with grudging union support, but teachers still don't like it and some school districts have declined to participate, turning down millions of dollars in state bonus money." "New, improved teacher merit pay still draws opposition".
Thank Goodness Jebbie Eliminated the "Intangibles Tax"
What's the big deal? They're just bridges:
"You'd be surprised about the number of bridges across the state of Florida that have been neglected for years," said J. N. "Junior" Tuten, the chairman of the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners. "There's no money.""Counties seek money for bridge repairs".
Good Time Charlie
"While acknowledging the need to pare back government spending, Gov. Charlie Crist said Friday he opposes cutting 90 officers from the state wildlife commission staff." "Manatee money won't go extinct". More on manatees: "Manatee's downlisting needs to be killed, not delayed".
"A state House candidate in the Tampa area is drawing criticism for his affiliation with a group that promotes the creation of 'white-only living spaces' and has distributed fliers criticizing the war in Iraq as only benefiting Israel."
John Ubele is running with no party affiliation for the Pasco County seat of Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey."State House candidate criticized for 'white activism'".
Ubele (pronounced yoo-bul) is operations manager of the Nationalist Coalition. The group promotes "white activism," according to its Web site, which says the organization will "do whatever is necessary to achieve this White living space and to keep it White."