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 Sunday, February 17, 2008

FlaDems to hold caucuses to select "delegates"

    The Sarasota Herald Tribune's Jeremy Wallace reports today that Florida Democrats are keeping hope alive by hold "caucuses" in each of the Congressional Districts on March 1 to see who will make the trip to the convention. The caucuses are to "choose" delegates "based on the Jan. 29 primary election results". The delegates go to the convention, but as things stand now, they of course will not be seated.

    "Despite vehement opposition from Barack Obama''s supporters, Florida Democrats will hold caucuses March 1 to choose delegates based on the Jan. 29 primary election results."
    The move is being encouraged by the campaign of Hillary Clinton,, who stands to pick up 105 delegates after winning 50 percent of the vote in the Florida primary. Obama would gain just 67 delegates after winning 33 percent of the vote. Democrat John Edwards,, though no longer in the race, would get 13 delegates.
    "Each congressional district is awarded three to seven delegates based on its Democratic voter turnout."
    All registered Democrats are allowed to vote in the caucuses for a delegate.

    The national Democratic Party has refused so far to reinstate Florida's delegates, although pressure to do so, particularly from Clinton supporters, is mounting.

    Florida Democrats are convinced that the delegates they choose on March 1 will eventually get seated at the National Convention in Denver in August despite tough talk from the national party.
    "State Democrats pressing on". See also "Clinton Campaign: Count Fla., Mich. Delegates".

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board goes with a pro-Hill idea: "A better solution, one that could be supported by party rules, would be to sit 50 percent of the delegates, as the Republican Party plans to do. Then, apportion the delegates in proportion to the votes each candidate received. Since Clinton beat Obama in Florida - 50 percent to 33 percent - she would have an advantage of 36 delegates. But that's fair because she was the first choice of voters." "Seat Half Of Democratic Delegates According To How Florida Voted".

    Playing defense

    John Kennedy and Aaron Deslatte:

    The GOP had once targeted freshmen Democratic Reps. Tim Mahoney and Ron Klein, both of whom captured GOP seats centered in Broward and Palm Beach counties in 2006. Now, the party could have to spend big just to not lose ground in South Florida, where incumbents in three Miami-Dade districts face tough races.

    That's on top of the three Central Florida seats, including Weldon's, that the nonpartisan Cook Political Report says could be competitive for Democrats this year.
    It gets better: "Orlando Rep. Ric Keller and Feeney have drawn stiff challenges from Democrats who are off to solid fundraising starts. Winter Garden Democrat Mike Smith has raised $366,000 in a crowded primary field vying to take on Keller. Likewise, Democrat Suzanne Kosmas of New Smyrna Beach raised twice as much as Feeney in the last quarter of 2007."

    Long distance Dem

    "Since his election, Michael Scionti has spent months serving in Afghanistan [on his third deployment since his election in November 2006.] But he keeps up on the home front. ... Scionti, a Democrat who represents parts of Hillsborough County, including West Tampa, Town 'N Country and Seminole Heights, is running for re-election this fall." "When politics isn't local".

    Will Scionti be swiftboated, or do the GOPers only do that to America-hating "cowards" like John Kerry who win silver stars in combat

    GOPer apparatchiks effect Stalinist coup

    "When it comes to who's on this year's ballot, Florida Republicans are fighting hard to resist their ideological preference for free markets. Last week, a full-court press of Central Florida's GOP leadership helped clear the field for state Sen. Bill Posey of Rockledge to replace retiring U.S. Rep Dave Weldon, R-Indialantic." "GOP wrangles to hold seats in a competitive environment".

    The money trail

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Amendment 1 dealt with property taxes in Florida, not nuclear power. Soon, though, Amendment 1 could have a lot to do with nuclear power in Florida."

    First, flash back to 2005 and 2006. In 2005, then-Attorney General Charlie Crist intervened in Florida Power & Light's request to the Public Service Commission for an increase in the basic monthly rate. After negotiations, FPL had to postpone at least until 2009 any such rate increase. In 2006, Mr. Crist intervened again when FPL wanted a surcharge to cover hurricane repair costs. FPL got only two-thirds of what it wanted, costing the company almost $570 million.

    Later in 2006, when Mr. Crist was running for governor, FPL gave $500,000 to Tom Gallagher, Mr. Crist's primary opponent. Retaliation? Of course. Dumb? Of course. After Mr. Crist won, FPL clumsily tried to give him half a million for the general election. Mr. Crist, flush with money, could afford to look virtuous by saying no.

    Cut to 2007. Now-Gov. Crist wanted voters to approve the tax-cutting Amendment 1. Backing it was a political action committee led by the state's Realtors. FPL gave $1 million to the committee. The governor did not criticize that contribution.

    In January, the Public Service Commission heard FPL's case for two more reactors at its nuclear plant in Miami-Dade County. If the commission approves it, the request goes to Gov. Crist and the three members of the Florida Cabinet. Federal regulators also have to go along, but rejection by the governor and Cabinet would kill it.
    "Crist, FPL, nukes, taxes".

    Late call

    "The 2004 and 2005 hurricanes were bad for Florida. The state will owe the federal government roughly $500 million more than budgeted over two years for Medicaid, the health-care plan for the poor." "Late call hurts Florida".

    Hispanic vote

    "In Florida's own primaries last month, Hispanics pushed Sen. John McCain within striking distance of the Republican nomination. In the neck-in-neck Democratic race, Hispanic voters have stood solidly with Clinton, but may finally be flirting with the candidacy of Obama, who has enjoyed little support from them so far." "Presidential candidates seek support from Hispanics".

    Can't back down ...

    "This year, Robert Wexler is backing off a little from the race for supervisor of elections in Voting La-La Land, otherwise known as Palm Beach County." "Wexler can't take a pass on elections chief".

    "Fight for civil rights is never-ending"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: When it comes to the civil rights movement, "one thing was different about Florida"

    Gov. LeRoy Collins, elected as a segregationist in 1955, was a pragmatist. He may not have liked the Supreme Court's Brown decision, but he respected the court's authority and recognized the mayhem that resistance would create. Collins sought ways to diffuse tension and set a tone of moderation in turbulent times. When the bus boycotts came to Tallahassee in 1956, he got a law passed that gave him broad authority to mediate. He successfully ended the practice that forced blacks to sit in the back of buses, and the law he championed was used nearly a decade later by Daytona Beach's Dan Warren, former state attorney, to ease racial tensions in St. Augustine.

    Collins' biographer Martin A. Dyckman quotes the governor as saying in 1959, "We can never stop Americans from struggling to be free."

    Still, Florida failed to move forward as quickly as it should have. Jim Crow laws were still being written in the 1950s. And many of its schools remained segregated well into the 1960s.

    The Civil Rights Movement was at its pinnacle in the 1960s and clearly had long-term effects, stimulating the women's movement and offering models of courage for others, including the most recent target of discrimination, immigrants with brown skin.

    Fighting for civil rights is a never-ending struggle. Battles are won, but new ones emerge. It is easy to become content with rationalizations for institutions like slavery, far harder to sustain the energy to seek the justice, equality and dignity that were part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.
    "Florida's challenges". The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Bush's comments about nooses show how far we have to go".

    At the trough

    "Over the next two weeks, lawmakers have scheduled more than two dozen events around the state."

    Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson of Tallahassee hosted a $1,500-per-person fundraiser Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Lighting-Washington Capitals hockey game at the Forum.

    The Florida Mainstream Democrats, a political committee that supports Democratic legislators, is hosting a $1,000-per-person party Wednesday at the capital city watering hole Clyde's & Costello's. ...

    Senate Republicans are hosting a lunch Friday at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival at the Hotel Victor, hosted by Senate President Ken Pruitt and President-designate Jeff Atwater.
    "Cash-call time".

    "Pruitt's sneering reaction"

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board:"Universities are now laying off faculty, courses are being curtailed, and eager young students are being caught in the squeeze. In just the past three years alone, the share of first-college students whose applications are accepted has dropped from 67 percent to 57 percent. This fall, the total 300,000 university system enrollment may shrink by as many as 17,000 students. Translation: "

    More graduating seniors and successful community college students will be denied a seat in their state universities.

    This disaster wasn't created overnight, and it won't be solved in a single session of the Legislature. Yet it is not clear whether the 2008 Legislature will even try.

    Rubio did invite the 11 public university presidents to the capital last week, and his willingness to listen is commendable. But neither Rubio, nor Senate President Ken Pruitt, nor Gov. Charlie Crist is doing anything tangible to help. Pruitt even had the hubris to ridicule the presidents' offer of a five-year, $1-billion compact between the universities and the Legislature - a process used successfully in California.

    "One would assume," Pruitt snapped, "that these are goals they have been pursuing all along with the $3.6-billion they are receiving now."

    The multiyear compact is being proposed by the university system Board of Governors and presidents as a way to bind both the universities and the Legislature to certain obligations each year. The intent is to create a predictable stream of revenue for universities while holding them to a rigorous set of performance standards.

    This kind of arrangement holds great promise as a method to rebuild university resources, but Pruitt's sneering reaction suggests it has little chance in the Capitol. That's unfortunate.
    "A master's in neglect".

    Dumb and Dumberer and Charlie's magic trick?

    Is it really possible that McCain is dumb enough to even consider selecting the dumberer, serial bar flunker Charlie Crist as his running mate? Bill Cotterell takes a close look at the issue this morning. [As an aside, note the usual cabal of fourth tier lap dogs - like Greer, Lemieux and Ballard, who doubtless dream of access to the VP's office for their clients - all think Charlie would be a fab VP].

    Our look at Cotterell's analysis of the matter, will be framed by the three parts of a magic trick, as explained in the film "The Prestige"; recall from the that

    first, there is the setup, or the "pledge," where the magician shows the audience something that appears ordinary but is probably not, making use of misdirection. Next is the performance, or the "turn," where the magician makes the ordinary act extraordinary. Lastly, there is the "prestige," where the effect of the illusion is produced.
    First, let us consider the "the setup, or the 'pledge'"; this is "where the magician shows the audience something that appears ordinary but is probably not," like this:
    Many around the Capitol scoffed last spring when legislators exempted federal offices from Florida's "resign to run" law, so that a sitting governor might audition for Washington without giving up his day job.
    Ah ... yes ... by this act, Charlie has been "setup" as a possibile running mate.

    Next up in our little magic show, is "the performance, or the 'turn,'" and it is here that Charlie act really begins to shine:
    Crist's endorsement two days before the state primary gave Sen. John McCain a push to eclipse Mitt Romney, [and once and for all dash the hopes of poor Rudy].
    With this surprising "turn" of events, Charlie has managed to at the same time (1) reneged on his promise to stay neutral in deference to Bushco's support of Mittens and (2) at the same time repudiating his allusion to a Giulani endorsement.

    This :turn" has of course opened the door to the aptly named third and final part of a magic trick, "the 'prestige'" - might this final part of the act be in the offing, with the
    semi-serious speculation turned to ponderous prognostication. Could the man known as "Chain Gang Charlie" just 10 years ago, in a hopeless mismatch with then-Sen. Bob Graham, have the gravitas to enter the history books among the likes of Hanibal Hamlin and Catcus Jack Garner?

    "I've always said Gov. Crist is the future of the Republican Party," Greer said. "He would be an asset to any administration."

    Attorney George LeMieux, the political confidante Crist dubbed "the maestro" for his role in past campaigns, said ... "it's all about electoral votes and Gov. Crist absolutely takes Florida off the table." ...

    Crist was dogged by vice-presidency questions at a mid-week news conference, after a Cabinet meeting and following a Washington luncheon with Republicans in Congress. Tradition and common sense demand an aw-shucks modesty of Academy Award nominees, beauty pageant contestants and vice-presidential possibilities, so Crist coyly insisted it was an honor just to be mentioned.

    "I'm focused on Florida; I mean, it's very flattering to have even the discussion of it, but frankly, it's premature," he said. "It's not something I'm focused on, not something I think about."

    Would it be hard to resist if asked? Crist chuckled and said, "I don't know. Nobody's asked." ...

    Lobbyist Brian Ballard, who is close to the governor, said Crist ... "isn't too moderate to sooth conservative doubts about McCain. ... You look at 'Chain Gang Charlie,' who just passed a $9 billion tax cut, and if Charlie Crist isn't a conservative, then I don't know what people are looking for," Ballard said. "Gov. Crist is the one person who could put Florida in the bank for McCain."
    Much more in Cotterell's column: "Pundits say McCain-Crist duo is possible". Might Charlie pull of "the 'prestige'" and pull the VP slot out of the hat? If he does, one might ask who is "dumberer", Charlie or McCain?

    Adam Smith thinks "Vice President Crist? Chances aren't bad": "This week the Buzz debuts our exclusive Charlie Crist Veep-O-Meter, which tracks his vice presidential prospects."

    While we're on the topic of "dumberer"

    "Some of the educators who helped devise Florida's new science standards said Saturday that they object to a last-minute alternative put together by the state Department of Education, which would insert 'the scientific theory of' before the word evolution."

    They said the phrase compromises scientific knowledge merely to mollify those who oppose making the teaching of evolution a requirement in Florida's public schools.
    "Proposed evolution compromise angers some educators" Background: "Poll: For Florida public, faith trumps science".

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board thinks "It's silly even to debate whether evolution should be taught in schools". They argue,
    Please, board members, spare this state's beleaguered school system any more embarrassment.

    That evolutionary theory is not already an integral part of public-school science education is a travesty that has hurt generations of Florida students. They perform far below average on national science tests. When the science component of the FCAT was counted for the first time last year, school grades based on the state's standardized test plummeted. In 2005, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave Florida an F for the current standards and singled out the superficial treatment of evolution as an example.

    These embarrassments were only magnified in Orlando last week when public meetings were held on this way-belated curriculum plan. Opponents, several of them school-board members from around the state, argued that evolution is "just a theory" and therefore should not be taught as fact. Biblical explanations of creation, they claimed, are every bit as valid as Charles Darwin's theory.

    That's just plain wrong.

    The truth is that there is a big difference between the everyday notion of a "theory" and a recognized "scientific theory."
    'Ya reckon?

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board has a little fun with Florida's new science experts:
    Suddenly, there is grave concern over holes in the fossil record. Suddenly regular citizens are experts in entropy and in what constitutes scientific "theory."
    "Raise the bar: approve new standards, evolution and all".


    "One superdelegate is U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, 41, in her first term representing the 11th District that includes much of Hillsborough County and parts of Pinellas and Manatee counties.We asked Castor about the process and this unusual primary season. Here's what she had to say in an interview with Times staff writer Janet Zink:" "I am a super-delegate".

    Another "unwelcome surprise"

    "Homeowners expecting to pocket an average $240 property tax savings this year might be in for an unwelcome surprise: their tax bills could be cut by a lot less, or might even inch up."

    The reason: a little-noticed nuance in Florida's Save Our Homes annual cap on tax assessments dubbed the "recapture rule," which mandates that, for many homeowners, their taxable values will rise even if their home's market worth falls. That mechanism kicks in so long as a home's market value remains above its taxable value.
    "Rule may offset property tax relief in Florida".

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