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 Friday, December 14, 2007

Rudy in Florida "trying to stop the slide"?

    Rudy will pontificate in Tampa and Jax Saturday in
    an attempt to counter problems that have eroded Giuliani's position in the race over the past month.

    His choice to make the speech in Florida - and in the Tampa Bay area, the state's biggest media market - underscores his campaign's reliance on Florida as its fortress among the early primary states.

    The campaign hopes Florida's Jan. 29 primary will compensate for possible losses by Giuliani in the early January states where he's trailing in polls - Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

    A big win in Florida, where he holds a double-digit lead, could springboard him into the Feb. 5 "tsunami Tuesday" primaries. On that day, some 21 states will vote, possibly deciding nominees in both parties.

    Though he's long been considered frontrunner in the large, competitive GOP primary, Giuliani has been unable to pull away from the crowd.
    "'He's trying to stop the slide,' said Luis Miranda, Democratic National Committee spokesman."
    [Campaign manager Mike ] DuHaime denied that was the purpose of the speech.

    "We've always known this race was going to be a close, tight race with at least five candidates getting double-digit support," he said. "At this natural turning point, it's the right time for the mayor to make his case."

    He acknowledged that Giuliani's heavy reliance on Florida and Feb. 5, putting less emphasis on Iowa and New Hampshire, "clearly is not the traditional strategy that's been followed in the past." ...

    A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed Giuliani with 30 percent among Florida Republicans, Romney 12 percent, Huckabee 11 percent, Thompson 10 percent and John McCain 9 percent.
    "With Lead Fading, Giuliani To Speak In Tampa".

    "Organized opposition"

    "The battle over property tax cuts being pushed by Gov. Charlie Crist began in earnest Thursday, picking up organized opposition from the front-line workers who could feel the biggest pinch — teachers, firefighters and local government" "Firefighters, teachers and others lining up to oppose property tax cuts".

    'Ya think?

    "Ask the Governor: Teacher pay a concern".

    Meet Caren Lobo, from Osprey

    "At first glance, there is no obvious explanation why Sarasota donors have given more money to Barack Obama than to any other presidential candidate."

    As a Democrat, he agreed to boycott Florida until after the primary, meaning he lacks local campaign staff and has not appeared in public.

    Around the state and nation, he trails the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in contributions.

    He is even from the wrong party: since 2000, donations to presidential candidates from Sarasota have favored Republicans 2 to 1.

    But Obama has a special supporter in Sarasota. And her name is not Oprah Winfrey.

    "Two words" said Kate Harris, an Obama supporter from Osprey. "Caren Lobo."

    Lobo, the former owner of Sarasota News and Books, organized a local coalition that has raised nearly half a million dollars -- enough to get Lobo a seat on Obama's national finance committee and put Sarasota on the Illinois senator's map.
    The power behind Obama's local oomph For her, he's 'exactly what the world needs'"".


    "Cuban-American political leaders in Florida are dividing their support among the candidates in the Republican presidential primary. If Cuban-American voters follow their lead, it means no candidate will benefit from cohesive backing of one of the most powerful GOP voting blocs in the state. That's good news for Florida front-runner Rudy Giuliani, who's also ahead among the state's Hispanic Republicans, according to some polls."

    Florida's roughly 300,000 Cuban-Americans typically make up 10 percent of the voters in a GOP primary, a potentially decisive group that has swung primaries in the past.
    "All three leading primary candidates - Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney - have been competing for months for the backing of prominent Florida Cubans, and can lay claim to several."
    McCain, for example, is backed by Florida's three Cuban-American Congress members, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and brothers Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, all from the Miami area.

    Romney's Florida co-chairman is Al Cardenas, a prominent Miami Cuban, former state Republican Party chairman and key ally of Jeb and George Bush.

    Giuliani lists endorsements of several Miami-area elected officials, including Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and several state House members.

    As of this week, Mike Huckabee, whose late surge in early primary states has put him in the top tier of candidates, joined the club. State House Speaker Marco Rubio endorsed him Monday, as did Rubio ally and fellow Miami state Rep. David Rivera.

    Florida's most prominent Cuban political figure, Sen. Mel Martinez, remains neutral so far, and won't say whether he'll take a side.
    And make what you will of this: Dario Moreno, a Florida International University political scientist and an expert on Hispanic voting, said "'all the Republican candidates have good anti-Castro credentials, and so does Hillary Clinton, for that matter.'" "Cuban-American Bloc Splintering".

    FCAT Follies

    The Palm Beach Post's Jac Wilder VerSteeg argues that it is "Time to wake up about the FCAT".

    "Ongoing investigation"

    "The chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission traveled from Washington, D.C., on Thursday for a private meeting with leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida at tribal headquarters in Hollywood."

    It was the second such visit in almost four years by Phil Hogen, chairman of the federal regulatory agency, to discuss the tribe's use of gambling profits. The commission began monitoring the Seminoles in 2004 after learning that Tribal Council members were spending tens of millions of dollars on themselves, their families and individual tribe members. Federal law requires that gambling revenue be used to benefit the tribe as a whole.

    Hogen told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel his visit is part of "an ongoing investigation."
    "Federal gambling chairman and auditors visit Seminole leaders".

    Pigs at the trough

    "By day, legislators were on light duty at the state Capitol this week, meeting in committees to review programs and proposed laws. By night, they flocked to clubs, law firms and trade-group suites to collect campaign checks from lobbyists and their clients." "Focus at the Capitol: raising money".

    Adult arcades

    "Are video slot machines that pay out with gift cards at mom-and-pop arcades illegal gambling that should be shut down, or are they games of skill that can be regulated?"

    That is the question the House Business Regulation Committee tackled Thursday as it heard testimony that the proliferation of the ''gray market'' games at penny-ante game rooms confuses law enforcement and opens the door for money laundering and fraud.

    The committee's chairman, Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, said he wants illegally operated machines closed down and the state laws clarified to regulate the rest. ''I don't want anyone to think this is a witch hunt,'' said the Miami Republican. ``This is an industry that a lot of seniors attend, and it has no regulation.''

    Jennifer Pritt, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent, told the committee that her agency's experience with the machines that have been cropping up in strip malls and low-income neighborhoods across the state is ``they are operated without rules, regulations or industry norms.''

    State law is murky as to whether the video-style machines that look like slot machines qualify as games of chance -- like slot machines at Indian casinos and some racetracks -- or games of skill, like arcade amusement games, she said, so law enforcement around the state ''is struggling.'' Some operators have been arrested for running gambling rooms, while others have gone unchecked.
    "House panel gives its spin on games at adult arcades".


    "Florida voters, who have been asked in the past eight years to approve smaller class sizes, ban smoking in restaurants and allow slot machines in South Florida, will decide in the fall of 2008 whether to put Florida's ban on same-sex marriage in the state Constitution." "Gay-marriage ban will be on ballot". See also "Same-sex marriage vote upcoming".

    Local Government Investment Pool

    "Mortgage-backed assets in the Local Government Investment Pool's portfolio lost value this fall because of the subprime mortgage collapse that peaked in August. As reports surfaced about risky holdings in the investment fund, panicked investors withdrew $10 billion from the $27 billion-plus fund during two weeks in November. The State Board of Administration, which oversees the investment pool, froze trading temporarily to stop the bleeding. SBA trustees re-opened the fund a week later, to limited withdrawals only. The local governments that remain invested in the pool share proportionately in the riskiest securities, which the SBA has isolated from the rest of the fund and kept frozen. As of Thursday, the fund stood at about $12.2 billion." "Withdrawals From State Fund Are Called Unfair".

    Not gonna happen

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Florida Atlantic University trustees finally roused themselves Wednesday to tighten the employee severance policy they had insisted didn't need fixing. Now, President Frank Brogan should tell state legislators why he gave nearly $600,000 to FAU's former chief fund-raiser." "Real story on Davenport still Brogan answer away".

    "Stunned state fundraisers senators"

    "Fugate and his staff told stunned state senators Thursday that Florida ran into a succession of problems during the past 18months — from the rising costs of concrete, copper and insurance to the refusal of many local governments to chip in to help finish installing the generators. Though some of the problems resulted from bureaucratic delays that haven't cost any money, they still mean that dozens of facilities won't be refitted by the June 1 start of next year's hurricane season. And the senators who sponsored the money said it looked as if the agency had abused its spending authority in some cases." "Senators question how $151M hurricane plan went wrong".

    Red tide

    "Red tide on the Atlantic coast seems to have claimed another victim: sea turtles in Brevard County. About 30 to 40 sea turtles have washed ashore, primarily between Cape Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet, over the past few days, and biologists think the only logical cause is the current outbreak of the toxic algae. Some of the turtles were still alive, but most died or washed ashore dead." "Red tide may be killing sea turtles in Florida".

    A checks and balances thing

    The Sun-Sentinel editors:

    House leaders now suing the governor are asking a valid legal question that Florida's Supreme Court needs to answer. Can the governor sign [a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe] without the consent of or review by the Legislature?

    It's up to the justices to sort this one out, but the lawsuit points to an existing void in the checks and balances system.

    At the federal level, for example, it's the executive branch that negotiates treaties, which must then be ratified by the Senate. If Florida's system of government does not require legislative review, then the governor would be granted de facto sovereign powers, as argued in the lawsuit filed by the House and Speaker Marco Rubio.

    That seems ill-advised, particularly on an issue as important as gambling.
    That said ... and here comes the impossible hard part, the editors argue that Saint Marco and his ilk
    must act in accordance with their role as public policy stewards, and not simply to lob grenades at a leisure activity they find distasteful.
    "Florida House raises legitimate constitutional question in gambling lawsuit".

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