Jeremy Wallace: "A rare wide-open race for U.S. Senate in Florida was supposed to create one of the most competitive elections in decades."
And it looks like it will, but not for Senate."Hot campaign brews in Florida, but not the one you think".
Instead, with Gov. Charlie Crist now an all-but-confirmed candidate for Senate, the quickly developing race is for governor.
At least six Republicans and the fastest rising star in the state Democratic Party are now either running for governor or headed in that direction if Crist announces he will seek Mel Martinez's vacant Senate seat next year.
The oddity of the campaign will be fully on display Tuesday morning in Tallahassee at a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, which threatens to be mistaken for a gubernatorial candidates' forum.
The Senate mix
Adam C. Smith: "If Charlie Crist isn't planning to run for the Senate in 2010, he certainly seems to relish encouraging people to think so. The Crist-O-Meter moves toward the Senate this week based on several factors". See what they are here: "Crist not looking like Senate run is in doubt".
Aaron Deslatte: "Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson, who had previously said he would retire to his Osceola County ranch after he's term-limited next year, now says he may run for governor if Crist opts not to. That scenario (many [including us] consider Crist all but certain to lunge for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez) would likely put him up against Attorney General Bill McCollum (and maybe ex-Speaker Marco Rubio) running for the right to face Democratic CFO Alex Sink." "Bronson for governor?"
The best they can do?
"Hasner's passion for his party is hard not to notice: from a pair of custom-made red-white-and-blue boots made of elephant skin to an office full of photos with Republican politicians. Outside his office hang shots of Hasner with Gov. Charlie Crist, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Gov. Jeb Bush." "Florida news, photos and Florida Legislature updates from Tallahassee".
See you in Havana
"Cuba watchers are waiting to see how Cuba will respond if President Obama, as expected, lets Cuban Americans travel freely to the island." "After Obama olive branch, next move is Cuba's".
Randy Schultz: "You can argue about whether Barack Obama has kept most of his campaign promises. ... But on Friday, the president is set to keep a campaign promise that has major symbolic importance for Florida, especially South Florida."
President Obama will announce at a Caribbean trade meeting that the U.S. will end the restrictions on travel and remittances between Cuban-Americans and Cuba. The president already has eased some of the restrictions that George Bush tightened in 2004, when he was running for reelection and wanted votes from the hard-line exiles in Miami-Dade County. Now, Mr. Obama is expected to announce that, starting in the fall, Americans who have relatives in Cuba can visit whenever they want, stay as long as they want and send as much money as they want to their families."Cuba back on the itinerary".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It is truly a new day. A Miami-based organization that represents the interests of Cuban exiles and has for decades used its political muscle to promote isolation and hostility toward Cuba has called for a "new course" for U.S.-Cuba policy."
This encouraging turn of events comes as President Barack Obama signals moves to increase travel and trade between the United States and the island. Now he may have a powerful new ally in adopting more rational U.S.-Cuba relations that will serve America's economic interests and the Cuban people's humanitarian ones."A welcome shift on Cuba policy".
"Not bad for a registered Republican"
"[T]he soft-spoken Rev. Joel Hunter of Longwood does [has] an evangelical church of 12,000, a talent for building diverse coalitions and a prominent spiritual advisory role in the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Not bad for a registered Republican who came to Central Florida in 1985 to take charge of a small flock that grew into one of the region's largest megachurches." "Where Obama turns for spiritual advice: Rev. Joel Hunter of Longwood".
"Micromanaging and dictating"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Memo to the Legislature: Micromanaging and dictating how districts will spend their money — whether mandating school board salary caps or requiring board votes for interstate travel — is not appropriate." "Let school districts decide".
"In an attempt to suppress the sale of tax-free cigarettes sold on Florida's Indian reservations, state senators want the tribes' smokes labeled 'Indian cigarettes' and any non-Indian caught with them forced to pay a $1,000 fine and face misdemeanor charges." "State senators want Indian cigarettes labeled, barred from non-Indians".
The "Fee" thing
Aaron Deslatte: "Even though the House and Senate budgets are still miles apart on some sticky proposals — the tobacco tax and a gambling expansion top that list — this weatherman predicts it's 99 percent certain that a sizable chunk of these increases will become law."
The main motivation is the cloudy conditions next year.He explains here: "How to lawmakers spell T-A-X in Tallahassee? F-E-E".
"Well, fool you once"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "This year, the subterfuge offered up by rail's opponents again has rail backers on their heels. But it shouldn't. Most of it is so preposterous that only the most pliable or hapless legislator would fall for it. And only the most inept and ineffective legislators and lobbyists championing SunRail would let them fall for it. Here's a sampling". "Don't let traps stop SunRail".
"Environmental groups leery of proposals"
"Amid a national recession, the state's growth engine has sputtered to almost a complete stop. And now, lawmakers are debating a series of proposals that would again revamp growth-management laws and regulations." "State rethinking growth laws".
The Tampa Tribune editors: "The Legislature is on the verge of overreacting to pleas from developers and builders to scrap Florida's strongest growth rules to try to revive the homebuilding industry." "Slow-growth panic risky to taxpayers".
"Sen. Paula Dockery, a veteran Republican from Lakeland considered to be the "mother" of Florida Forever, has a plan to rescue the largest environmental land-buy program in the nation from budget cuts." "Florida Forever's future uncertain". See also "Making 'Forever' last".
"At an 'ever increasing risk of ... failure'"
"The state's $2.2 billion unemployment insurance program — a safety net crucial to the welfare of jobless Floridians — relies on 35-year-old computer technology that is antiquated, "well beyond its useful life" and at an "ever increasing risk of ... failure," according to documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel." "Florida jobless-benefits computer at 'increasing risk of ... failure'".
"Move to privatize Northeast Florida State Hospital becomes political football".
My right to raise my children without interference from the government is being trumped by the state's right to protect my child's right not to be injured by the negligence of others."Court decides: Father doesn't know best".
Charlie covers his eyes
"The GOP's struggle over its future and the party's fitful steps to attract minorities are on full display in the differing responses of Republican governors to a major Supreme Court case on voting rights. ... State officials in Florida, South Carolina and Texas have taken no position in the Supreme Court case". "Differing views in GOP on voting rights case".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Capital city businesses as well as residents are going to feel proposed state budget cuts in ways that many areas of the state will not if lawmakers go forward with pay reductions for all state employees." "Furloughs are better: But universities are hit twice".
"State's revised land buyout offers a better compromise"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Maybe for Gov. Charlie Crist the third time in his dance with U.S. Sugar will be the charm. The latest version of the governor's proposal to buy land for Everglades projects is much improved over the previous two offers. The price is about a third of the $1.75 billion first offer, and it buys less than half of the original 180,000 acres. Now, the deal is affordable -- a concession to the recession -- and some of the unattractive features have been removed or changed for the better." "On sugar deal, it's try, try and try again".
Related: "Dexter W. Lehtinen: This plan helps politicians, does little for River of Grass".
No word on the honorary degree
"Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected president of an African country, is scheduled to speak at the University of Tampa commencement." "Africa's first female president to speak in Tampa".
Back to normal
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "There's enough intolerance in the world that some people don't consider transgender people normal and will be upset that Lake Worth has chosen Susan Stanton to be the next city manager. In fact, if she accepts the job, Ms. Stanton could be the most normal city manager Lake Worth has had in years." "Good choice in Lake Worth".
"Guts and imagination"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Florida lawmakers want to put Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the state's hurricane catastrophe fund on firm financial footing. It is going to take guts and imagination." "Lawmakers must confront painful property insurance challenge".
"This wasn't 1926. It was last week"
It was a weird show. There they were, a judge and a lawyer from Florida's 6th Judicial Circuit, defending a rule before Florida Supreme Court justices that would turn state judges into autocrats of records. Judges would decide if and when electronic recordings of court proceedings would be made available to lawyers, public defenders, the media or the public. This wasn't 1926. It was last week."Lest the judge needs reminding, it's our courtroom".
Smith back in action?
Joe Follick "called former state Sen. Rod Smith, the Alachua Democrat who narrowly lost the 2006 gubernatorial primary to Jim Davis, to address the buzz that he is interested in jumping in the attorney general race in 2010. He was coy, but clearly more warm to the idea of re-entering politics than he was just a few months ago." "Attorney General Rod Smith? Stay tuned".
"Against all common sense"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Against all common sense, the Indian Street Bridge planned for Martin County is on the fast track to receive $128 million in federal stimulus money - the most expensive project on Florida's list. But putting the Indian Street Bridge on the fast track actually would put major job creation for the region on the slow track." "How to waste stimulus? On Indian Street Bridge".
"The cities of New Port Richey, Port Richey, San Antonio and Zephyrhills are conducting municipal elections Tuesday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m." "City elections Tuesday".