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 Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zogby: "Florida is in play"

    "A new Zogby International poll shows Barack Obama sitting on a 16-point lead over John McCain in South Florida."
    In a sign that Democrat Barack Obama will be competitive in the nation's largest swing state, he is beating Republican John McCain comfortably in South Florida and has a slight edge among Hispanics, according to a new Miami Herald poll.

    Obama is ahead 46-30 percent over McCain in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in the survey of 807 people conducted by Zogby International. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

    ''Obama's 16-point lead in South Florida could springboard him to make it a competitive race statewide,'' said pollster John Zogby. ``I really think Florida is in play.''
    "Among Hispanics in the three counties, Obama leads McCain 40 to 35 percent."
    Until the tide started to turn against the Republican Party in 2006, Hispanics in Florida have long favored the GOP.

    ''That shows the depth of anger that Hispanics are feeling toward the Republican Party,'' Zogby said. ``If Democrats walk away with 65 percent of the Hispanic vote in Florida, that will be almost insurmountable for the Republican party.'' ...

    Democrats point to signs that the Hispanic community's political stripes are changing. A protest Saturday outside Obama's speech in Miami drew only about three dozen people, mostly older Cuban-Americans. The group attacked Obama for surrounding himself with two high-level advisors who helped send Cuban rafter Elián González back to his father in Cuba.

    When the custody battle raged eight years ago, Cuban-Americans rose up in droves. ''We understand the Elián González issue is something that passed, and that it was not Obama's fault,'' said Ramón Saúl Sánchez of the Miami-based Democracy Movement, who tussled with the federal agents who seized Elián from his relatives' home in Little Havana. ``People are giving more weight to other issues, like lifting the travel ban.'' ...

    Obama has called for lifting the Bush administration's restrictions on Cuban-Americans who want to visit family on the island. McCain has criticized Obama for wanting to ease sanctions and for his willingness to meet with the Cuban government in the hope of sparking democratic reform.

    ''A lot of Cuban Americans are very disappointed with President Bush,'' Sanchez said. ``If McCain says he's going to follow the same policies as Bush, that says a lot.''
    And then there's this: "The survey also showed Obama leading among independents voters by 33-20 percent, with the rest favoring other candidates or undecided." "Obama has a lead in South Florida, poll shows".

    Dateline 5:00 PM EDT: "A Times/Bloomberg Poll says that in a two-man contest, 49% of respondents favor Barack Obama, while 37% support John McCain. With Ralph Nader and Bob Barr added to the mix, Obama holds 15-point edge."
    Buoyed by enthusiasm among Democrats and public concern over the economy, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has captured a sizable lead over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the opening of the general election campaign for president, the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll has found.

    In a two-man race between the major party candidates, registered voters chose Obama over McCain by 49% to 37% in the national poll conducted last weekend.
    "Obama holds 12-point lead over McCain, poll finds".

    Luvin' that "Bush legacy"

    Joel Engelhardt: "State Rep. Gayle Harrell, a Republican from Stuart running for Congress, says her stand on torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq reflects the views of her district."

    "When I see our people having their heads cut off," Rep. Harrell told The Post Editorial Board last week, "what we did at Abu Ghraib is minor, very minor."
    "So that's how the people of District 16 - made up primarily of voters in Martin, St. Lucie and northern Palm Beach counties - view America's decision to torture prisoners of war."
    Americans didn't just parade naked Iraqi men in front of female jailers and force them to perform degrading sexual acts. They set out to break those men by forcing them to violate centuries-old cultural taboos. Imagine the outrage here if Arabs forced U.S. prisoners to urinate on the American flag.

    Rep. Harrell is one of three Republicans running in the Aug. 26 primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens. It was a safe Republican seat until the downfall of Mark Foley in 2006. Now, it's a local stage in the national debate over the Bush legacy. The three GOP candidates - Rep. Harrell, former Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Hal Valeche and former Army lawyer Tom Rooney - cling stubbornly to the Bush approach, although, to his credit, Mr. Rooney breaks with the pack by opposing torture.

    This election - surprise, Democrats - is shaping up to be the battle Democrats wanted. The three Republicans who want Rep. Mahoney's seat refuse to run away from the Bush legacy. At the top of the ticket, Sen. McCain, despite his efforts to stop it, is letting himself be defined that way as well.
    Much more: "Mahoney's luck still holding".


    "Rising gas prices, the falling real estate market and deep state budget cuts have not only brought South Florida's economy to a crawl, they've deflated the once sky-high approval ratings of Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a new Miami Herald poll." "Hard times in state deflate Crist's approval ratings".

    Round 2

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "One Terri Schiavo case should be more than enough for Florida." "Schiavo II? Please, no".


    "A Republican congressman has apologized for posting a speech on his Web site without acknowledging that it was largely written by a fellow Republican from Georgia. But Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., says he did nothing wrong in delivering the heavily borrowed address at a University of West Florida graduation in 2004." "Florida congressman defends giving borrowed speech".

    "$1.75 billion deal"

    "Crist and other state leaders signed off this morning on the outlines of a $1.75 billion deal that will give United States Sugar Corp. six years to end its operations while handing taxpayers control over 187,000 acres in the historic northern Everglades." "Crist, U.S. Sugar tentatively sign off on $1.7 billion deal".

    Mike Thomas: "Everglades deal's impact would be huge - for all of us". See also "Crist unveils $1.75 billion deal for U.S. Sugar buyout", "Gov. Crist announces sugar, Everglades deal" and "Clewiston: The town U.S. Sugar built".

    "Trial run"

    "A new era in Palm Beach County elections begins today as voters mark paper ballots and slip them into optical scanners." "Optical scanners get a trial run in West Palm Beach today".


    "Loophole allows candidates to cherry-pick voters by using write-in candidates to close primaries".

    RPOFers paint themselves into a corner

    "Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Indialantic, called for a series of 10 public debates on Amendment 5. The proposal, put on the ballot by the Tax and Budget Reform Commission, would wipe out the required county property tax levy for schools and make future legislative sessions come up with replacement revenues to support education." "Sen. Haridopolos calls for public debates on 'tax swap' amendment".


    "The United States and the international community are not succeeding in Afghanistan and the Taliban is extending its reach to urban areas, a peace advocate warned Monday." "FSU hosts human-rights lecture series".


    "A broad coalition ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to banks, retiree advocates and schoolteachers is lined up to oppose the $9 billion-plus property tax swap on the Nov. 4 ballot known as Amendment 5." "Many lining up to fight 'tax swap' idea with summer blitz".

    Wingnut loses "bid to seize the life savings of a Guatemalan dishwasher"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "After nearly three years of misguided prosecution and wasted tax dollars, the federal government finally appears to have lost its bid to seize the life savings of a Guatemalan dishwasher."

    On Monday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that U.S. District Judge James Cohn of Fort Lauderdale was wrong when he ordered Pedro Zapeta to forfeit $49,000 of the $59,000 he had tried to carry aboard a flight to Guatemala in September 2005. Robert Gershman, the dishwasher's West Palm Beach attorney, had argued that Judge Cohn's penalty 18 months ago was excessive - a "cruel and unusual" punishment for Mr. Zapeta's failure to fill out a form and declare the cash.
    "Money for dishwasher, lesson for government".

    "It was no accident"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "When the qualifying deadline ended Friday, nearly one-fourth of the Florida Legislature's membership was re-elected with no opposition. It was no accident. In fact, it was almost by the cynical design of our current political system." "Editorial: Gerrymandering discourages good citizenship".


    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It's good to see former state Speaker Johnnie Byrd and other directors of the Alzheimer's center come to their senses." "With USF Affiliation, Byrd Center Can Focus On Alzheimer's Research".

    Green scam

    "The environmentally conscious customers who gave Florida Power & Light $11.4 million for green energy did not get their money's worth, according to a state report released Monday." "State scolds FPL, finds green program misleads".

    "Nearly 39,000 Florida Power & Light customers gave the company $11.4 million over four years to develop green energy, but a report released Monday shows that most of the money went toward administrative and marketing costs" "Report: FPL green energy program misleading".

    "Competitive congressional races"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The election's not just about John McCain and Barack Obama. But who can remember more competitive congressional races in Central Florida -- contests that also, invariably, can help tip the next president's legislative agenda in Washington?"

    Reps. Tom Feeney, Ric Keller and Ginny Brown-Waite all stand to sweat the Florida summer more than usual, facing what should be determined challenges led by former state Rep. Suzanne Kosmas and former opponents Charlie Stuart and John Russell, respectively. And Rep. Dave Weldon's departure from the House has state Sen. Bill Posey leading a crowded seven-candidate field wishing to succeed him.

    Just who holds those and other House seats can help fuel or trip Mr. McCain's or Mr. Obama's widely divergent goals on offshore drilling, public financing of campaigns, health care and taxes. Or voting on those district seats for some can turn into referendums on the incumbent representatives' records on regional economic development or their peccadilloes; say, on Mr. Feeney's connection to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Mr. Keller's vow not to run for re-election this time, or Ms. Brown-Waite's view of Puerto Ricans.
    "We think: It's good to see some competitive races, but others are lacking".

    "'Vicious' Obama bloggers"

    "Though not affiliated with the Clinton campaign, Slater was part of a vast army of volunteers who showed all of the resolve of their favored candidate."

    But, of course, resolve didn't win Clinton the nomination, and when Clinton dropped out of the race, Slater channeled her intensity into something unexpected: The 51-year-old from Aventura left the Democratic Party, registered as an Independent and declared her support for Republican Sen. John McCain.

    "McCain has always been a liberal Republican," said Slater, who made time to blog, unpaid, while getting a master's degree in accounting from Nova Southeastern University. "Why do you think the conservatives are not happy with him being the nominee? He is not your run-of-the-mill Republican."
    "The Democrats' long, intense primary created especially close attachments for some supporters to their candidates. "
    "Supporters go through a grieving period, but then they'll realize McCain is much worse," said Jon Ausman, a Democratic National Committee member and super delegate who endorsed Clinton but supports Obama in the general election. "I think they'll come home. This is very normal."

    To some former Clinton supporters, McCain doesn't seem so bad. He has long been considered a maverick who has spent much of his political career at odds with some in his party on things like stem cell research and campaign finance laws.

    Slater said she prefers McCain to Obama because McCain has more political and governing experience. She said she's bothered by the fact that some of Obama's short time in the U.S. Senate has been spent running for president. (She said she's also turned off by "vicious" Obama bloggers.)
    "Will Hillary supporters defect?".

    "Political gimmick"

    Fred Grimm: "Floridians can rightfully complain that a proposal to reverse the coastal drilling ban by John McCain and his vice presidential wannabe, Charlie Crist, amounts to a political gimmick." "Energy-greedy Floridians say no to oil wells".

    Off topic

    "Ivy Leaguers and other top law students were rejected for plum Justice Department jobs two years ago because of their liberal leanings or objections to Bush administration politics, a government report concluded Tuesday."

    In one case, a Harvard Law student was passed over after criticizing the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. In another, a Georgetown University student who had previously worked for a Democratic senator and congressman didn't make the cut.

    Even senior Justice Department officials flinched at what appeared to be hiring decisions based - improperly and illegally - on politics, according to the internal report. ...

    Democrats quickly seized on the report to bludgeon the Bush administration for playing politics with a department sworn to uphold the law fairly.

    "This is the first smoking gun," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We believe there will be more to come. This report shows clearly that politics and ideology replaced merit as the hiring criteria at one of our most prized civil service departments."
    "Report: Justice Dept. passed over Dems, liberals".

    "National catastrophe fund"

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Nobody knows what the final monetary toll will be for the floods that have devastated the Midwest. But one thing is for sure — the disaster shoots a hole in the arguments from folks who say a national catastrophe fund would just be a big giveaway for disaster-prone coastal states, like Florida." "Natural disasters are hardly just a Florida problem".

    "More ballot choices empower Florida voters"

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "In Florida -- as in other states -- the presidential race is likely to grab the most attention. But the ability to choose in most local and state races gives voters an opportunity they don't always have. That should count as the first win of this election season." "Crowded fields for election".

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