Florida Primary News
"With their rivals fading, John McCain and Mitt Romney maneuvered to be seen as the strongest Republican general election candidate." "Analysis: McCain, Romney maneuver to be seen as top candidate". See also "Poll: Romney edging McCain; Clinton leads Obama in Florida". More:
The GOP numbers are Romney 30 percent, McCain 26 percent, Giuliani 18 percent, Huckabee 13 percent, Ron Paul 3 percent and 10 percent undecided."Romney Vaults To Florida Lead". See also "Orlando Sentinel poll: Romney, McCain too close to call; Clinton way out front" and "Romney, McCain look to Florida as launch pad".
Because the poll's error margin is 5 percentage points, Romney's four-point lead over McCain could be considered a statistical tie.
However, pollster Brad Coker of Mason Dixon Polling & Research, which did the poll for The Tribune and other news agencies, called it a "narrow lead" based partly on how the candidates' standings in the race have changed in recent weeks.
Early voting: "Nearly 7 percent of Florida's 10-million registered voters have already cast their ballots for Tuesday's election, suggesting the vote may buck the recent trend of lackluster turnout. Nearly 700,000 voters had voted early or returned absentee ballots as of Thursday. Just 786,000 voted in the uncontested 2004 presidential primary." "Early vote may be decisive in Florida".
The Debate: "Three Republican presidential contenders seeking support in Florida's slingshot primary voiced support for an interstate catastrophic insurance system Thursday to clean up after monster hurricanes and other major disasters. " "Presidential hopefuls battle in Boca". "With just five days to go before Florida's do-or-die Republican primary, Thursday's nationally televised debate could have been a bloodbath." "Republicans keep it civil". See also "Republicans go easy on each other" and "GOP rivals focus on economy, need for more tax cuts". More: "Debate candidates, audience well-behaved" and "'The whole nation is looking at us'".
Blah, blah, blah: "GOP candidates: Clinton weak on Iraq, will raise taxes". More: "Candidates avoid clashes, bash Democrats on war". See also "Economy top issue at Republican debate at FAU" and "Huckabee criticizes Romney's business past before Fla . debate">Huckabee criticizes Romney's business past before Fla. debate" See also "Candidates say fiscal jolt" ("Leading Republican presidential contenders agreed in a campaign debate Thursday night that the newly minted bipartisan economic stimulus package marks a good start, but does not do enough to cut taxes.")
To the extent you care, the St Pete Times has this: "Breaking down the debate"; the Sun-Sentinel has this: "Presidential debate notebook"; and the Palm Beach Post has this: "Quotes from the candidates". Whatever: "Student pride fuels festive mood for Republican debate at FAU".
Rudy: "Back when he was mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani told constituents who disagreed with him to seek psychological help. One of his predecessors penned a book titled 'Giuliani: Nasty Man.' And some version of the word 'jerk' often emerged from Giuliani during a news conference, usually directed at a reporter." "Florida sparks to a 'nice' Giuliani. Voting for him is something else.". See also "Giuliani falls far, fast" and "The chinks in Giuliani's 9/11 armor" ("Riches heads a group of relatives of Sept. 11 victims who question Giuliani's leadership. They are gathering in Florida for a publicity campaign against him ahead of Tuesday's state primary, which is widely viewed as crucial to Giuliani's bid for the GOP nomination.")
Mitt: Try not to lose your lunch: "Jeb Bush has been out of the Florida governor’s office for more than a year, but you’d hardly know it from the high profile he still cuts in state Republican politics."
"I love him,” said Romney in South Carolina last March. ..."Mitt Romney courts neutral Jeb Bush".
“When it comes to Florida Republican politics, Jeb Bush is still the sun, the moon and the stars,” says Dan Schnur, an unaffiliated Republican strategist and professor at Stanford University. ...
Romney’s not just a fan of the former governor, he’s an admirer of Bush’s staff, too. The Romney campaign boasts at least nine ex-Jeb Bush staffers.
"An all-too-familiar feeling": The Forward: "As Florida steps into the national political spotlight with its upcoming January 29 primary, some Jewish Democrats are bracing for what is, by now, an all-too-familiar feeling: Their votes may not count." "Florida Democrats Face Voicelessness, Yet Again".
Bernie takes it in the shorts
Inside Higher Ed takes Bernie to task: "Institutional neutrality is the much-invoked principle by which colleges and universities rarely take stands on public issues that don’t directly relate to higher education."
It’s that background that explains why many long-time followers of higher education and politics were stunned to learn that Bernie Machen, president of the University of Florida, has endorsed Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid. While the endorsement, released by the McCain campaign, included the expected “should in no way be construed as an endorsement by the University of Florida” line at the end of the announcement, the headline was pretty clear: “University of Florida President Bernie Machen Endorses John McCain for President.”Much more here: "A University President Backs McCain". The Florida Independent Alligator is less diplomatic: "Machen's endorsement irresponsible, bad for UF" ("It was a blatant gesture to influence public opinion as a state leader.").
The lead paragraph of the release noted that Machen “has held leadership positions at some of America’s most prominent institutions of higher learning over two decades” and the announcement went on to note his previous positions as president of the University of Utah and an administrator at the Universities of Michigan and North Carolina. In addition to quoting Machen’s praise for McCain, the announcement quoted McCain praising Machen as “one of America’s most distinguished leaders in education.”
Sheldon E. Steinbach, a lawyer in the postsecondary education practice of the Washington law firm Dow Lohnes, said he was “stunned” by the endorsement. In Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign and Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign, Steinbach was in charge of recruiting college presidents to serve on education task forces for the two Republican nominees. Even at points much later in the campaign year, post-nomination, Steinbach said that he could not recruit a single public university president, even though plenty supported the respective candidates privately.
Billy burnishes his wingnut bona fides
The Palm Beach Post editors: "To hear Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum tell it, parents in Florida hardly have any authority left - all because a federal judge ruled two years ago that schools can't force students to say the Pledge of Allegiance."
To avoid that imagined dire consequence, Mr. McCollum has wasted the public's money and his time by appealing the 2006 ruling by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp, who was appointed to the bench in 1991 by the first President Bush. He issued his ruling in favor of Cameron Frazier, a Boynton Beach High School student whom school officials disciplined in December 2005 for refusing to say the pledge. District policy at that time required students to have parental permission to not recite the pledge."Appeal of pledge ruling wastes public's money".
It's been settled since 1943, Judge Ryskamp noted in his ruling, that the government can't force students to say the pledge. Mr. McCollum argues that parental permission is the key. In other areas, he says, "parental consent is required to opt out of certain science and health education classes, to obtain excusals for religious reasons, and to receive school contraceptive services."
Mr. McCollum thus punches all the social-issue hot buttons in case he decides to run for governor or try again for the Senate. But he still doesn't have much of an argument.
"The impact for now: none."
"The U.S. Department of Justice has blessed some, but not all, of Florida's latest voting changes, despite protests from civil rights groups. The impact for now: none." "Justice Dept. OKs Florida voting changes".
"Facing a state budget shortfall of $2 billion or more, legislators are looking everywhere for cuts, and the state's 11 public universities aren't exempt. Florida's universities cut more than $58 million from their budgets last fall, and the Board of Governors is predicting another cut of nearly $89 million systemwide this spring. For the next fiscal year, who knows?" "Permanent injuries". This is a start: "State University System board proposes 8% tuition hike to halt downward financial spiral".
On a related issue, the Trib editors have this to say: "We can't achieve quality at our 10 comprehensive universities without focus. The last thing we need is each major university competing to build a system that overlaps with others and wastes scarce resources." "Florida Doesn't Need Sprawling Systems".
"As Florida real estate prices rose in recent years, many people felt trapped in their homes because moving would mean getting hit with a property tax bill that could at least double or triple." "Property tax 'portability' may cure one problem, cause another". See also "Homestead exemption may be made tougher to get". More: "Governor on road to pitch Yes on 1".
The Orlando Sentinel editors write that: "if the candidates for president are smart, they'll keep promising relief to homeowners who've taken a beating on property insurance." "Our position: Presidential candidates should help solve Florida property-insurance crisis".
Get off your duff Billy
The Trib editorial board:"Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum should scrutinize the cozy relationship between state transportation officials and the railroad industry that is being given hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds." "McCollum Should Scrutinize State's Close Ties With Railroads".
The right way?
The DBNJ editors: "While Florida voters are deliberating about an ill-advised constitutional amendment proposal on Tuesday's ballot, the state Tax and Budget Reform Commission is pushing toward a deadline to determine what it might do to truly reform Florida's convoluted taxing structure." "McKay's way".
"South Florida schools urge students to study issues, take part in elections".
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Granted, the water district board members are unpaid, and some of the flights are necessary. But the frivolous ones that don't justify this expenditure of public money beg for guidelines and corrective action. Particularly now, with the state facing a big budget shortfall and service cuts being threatened, this is a practice that must be tightly scrutinized. Not just for the South Florida Water Management District, but all state agencies." "Time to set guidelines, penalties for agency flights".