FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a 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 Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"The conventional wisdom is already setting in"

    Adam Smith: "Thanks to Charlie Crist's jump into the U.S. Senate race, we're about to see the busiest election cycle in decades. The conventional wisdom is already setting in:"
    Charlie Crist is unbeatable. No way can stodgy Bill McCollum beat folksy Alex Sink for governor. Dan Gelber's U.S. Senate Democratic primary campaign is toast against Kendrick Meek's. The Florida GOP, with so many once-safe seats now wide open, is poised to take its biggest drubbing in a generation.

    Don't assume anything in this volatile political and economic climate. Especially not when we're about to mark the anniversary of Barack Obama's first extended campaign swing through Florida.

    Back then, all the talk was about how the Illinois senator was weak with seniors, Hispanics and Jews. He couldn't possibly win Florida's 27 electoral votes. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.
    "So let's review the 2010 landscape and assumptions.".

    Alex Sink will be the next governor? Not so fast. ...

    Crist is unbeatable for Senate? Nobody is unbeatable. ...

    In this election cycle, anything is possible.
    "Only uncertainty is certain in Florida this election cycle". Related "Rubio takes quick aim at Crist in campaign ad".


    Rubio stiffed

    "Crist draws quick support from GOP leaders for Senate bid".


    Primary fight

    "Crist: Too Moderate for Florida Republicans?", "Conservative activists question Charlie Crist's commitment to core GOP values", "Political reaction mixed to Crist’s Senate decision" and "Is GOP united behind Crist?".


    "Enough with the political slumber"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The political calm lasted less than a week here in the Sunshine State before the engines started racing again and pundits were all a Twitter.
    Advertisement With Gov. Charlie Crist's announcement Tuesday that fighting for the people of Florida from a seat in the U.S. Senate is where his 'heart is,' the speculation begins as to just how different the landscape will be in Florida in 2010 with the governor's office and all three Cabinet seats up for grabs." "The race is on".

    Beth Reinhard: "The Republican primary battle between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio reflects the party's broader struggle between its moderate and conservative wings." "Is Republican Party united behind Charlie Crist?".

    Jim Saunders: "Crist, who has governed as a bipartisan populist, could face a tough Republican primary against former state House Speaker Marco Rubio of West Miami. Rubio built a conservative record in the Legislature and quickly indicated Tuesday that he will run to the right of Crist. ... Democratic leaders also blasted Crist for launching the Senate campaign while Florida faces huge financial problems." "Crist's Senate bid mixes up Florida politics".


    Failure

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board:

    Crist had commendable goals going into this year's legislative session. [1] He wanted utility companies to produce 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020. [2] He wanted to bring Florida in line with clean-car rules adopted by California and a dozen other states. [3] He backed the $1.2 billion SunRail project, the commuter rail system that would have served Central Florida, including DeLand. [4] He wanted to consolidate state health agencies to make them more efficient.

    He failed on all four counts.

    Crist was mostly a spectator while legislators worked to plug the state's $6 billion budget gap. He could have tempered the debates, using some of his considerable political capital to slow the raiding of trust funds and press for reasonable alternatives to budget-slashing. He could have pushed for reforming the state's sales tax exemptions, which most Floridians favor (reform would increase state revenue without affecting most Floridians). He could have pushed for Internet sales taxes. He chose not to.
    "Florida needs Crist on the job in coming months". See also "Crist's session scorecard mixed".

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Charlie Crist might have what it takes to succeed in the U.S. Senate, which he announced Tuesday he wants to join. Affability, collegiality and popularity can get you far in that famously chummy club."
    But that combination clearly hasn't served Floridians well with Mr. Crist as their governor. His preference for dodging politically unpopular but important policy fights has set the state back financially. And his habit of abandoning worthy causes once legislators, special interests or the public challenges them has cost the state economically and environmentally, and in the ability of its residents to commute from here to there.

    Leadership from the governor could have spared Floridians at least some of this mess. It's what his successor will need to demonstrate to get them out from under it.

    Mr. Crist could have compelled lawmakers to pass reality-based budgets that placed Florida on firmer fiscal ground. Instead, they're built on federal stimulus dollars that will disappear after Mr. Crist leaves office, along with raids on state savings accounts intended for kids' health and transportation projects.

    It'll fall instead to Florida's next governor to build more credible budgets by making the state's sprawling bureaucracy more efficient, and by responsibly increasing its revenues and reforming the tax system.

    Clearly Mr. Crist hasn't been interested in doing that. He wouldn't even champion hiking the state's tiny cigarette tax. He said he's not "warm and fuzzy" about it. But he was hot about giving the public still more tax breaks, like one proposed for first-time homeowners, though doing so means bending the state's already lopsided tax system further out of shape.
    "Leadership, not smiles".

    "For Crist, the role as front-runner will only amplify questions about his brief record as governor. It's hard to tell whether his popularity is a reflection of his well-liked personal traits or his policies, and much of what he has begun can be labeled unfinished business:"
    • On taxes, Crist carried the torch for the Amendment 1 property tax-cut referendum last year. He calls it ''the largest tax cut in Florida history,'' though it has been criticized as having a negligible impact on a typical homeowner. He also persuaded legislators to put new tax breaks on the 2010 ballot, one aimed at helping first-time home buyers and another for commercial property owners.

    • On education, Crist needed to rely on nearly $900 million in federal stimulus money to maintain public school funding, and championed a 15-percent tuition hike sought by university leaders.

    • On insurance, Crist promoted a rate freeze on the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and opposed higher rates for private insurers, which backfired when the state's largest private insurer, State Farm, announced it will pull out of Florida. Crist declared ''good riddance,'' but it remains to be seen how Florida's insurance market will stabilize in the absence of such a large player. In the just-ended legislative session, lawmakers passed a series of steps to make the insurance industry more market-based.

    Leslie Spencer of AARP joined dozens of advocacy groups, some with ties to the Democratic Party, in criticizing a lack of leadership and shortsighted fiscal policy that relies on federal stimulus money without a thorough review of tax loopholes.
    "Gov. Charlie Crist's record will be put to the test". The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "While eyeing Senate, Crist can't ignore job".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Crist's announcement on Tuesday that he wants to move from Tallahassee to Washington surprised no one. Now the challenge for Crist and other state leaders is to avoid letting one of the most dynamic elections in years divert too much attention from governing during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." "Florida needs leaders now".


    It'll be Meek agin' Charlie?

    Scott Maxwell: "It'll be Kendrick Meek vs. Charlie Crist."

    How do I know this?

    Because Meek has the kind of smarts and charisma voters said they wanted in last year's presidential race.

    Because the other Democrat is just another cog in the Tallahassee machine.

    Because the alleged social conservative in the race is an unproven lightweight.

    Because the proven conservative who could win seems more interested in grousing from the sidelines than getting in the race himself.

    And because people just always seem to underestimate Charlie Crist.

    Here's a breakdown on how the Senate race is shaping up ...

    And if you think this race may be his most uphill battle yet, consider this: We're talking about a guy who flunked the state Bar exam — twice — and then went on to get elected attorney general.
    "Kendrick Meek vs. Charlie Crist in Senate race".


    The other race ...

    "If you don't know the names of Florida's attorney general, chief financial officer or agriculture commissioner, rest assured: you'll start hearing them -- a lot -- very soon. Each of those statewide elected officials, Bill McCollum, Alex Sink and Charles Bronson, hope to become marquee names to Florida voters during the next 18 months." "With Charlie Crist running for U.S. Senate, meet the likely Florida gubernatorial candidates". See also "Jeb Bush has no plans to run for governor again in 2010".


    'Glades

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "There's an admittedly high price to pay for buying large swaths of U.S. Sugar land. It's worth paying, however, because the South Florida Water Management District - not private sugar growers - would control the future of the Everglades."

    The governing board will decide today whether the district should pay $536 million for 73,000 acres. The district would pay a premium to shrink the deal from a purchase of 180,000 acres for $1.34 billion. Buying less land now, while retaining the opportunity to buy more, would reduce the district's debt at a time of economic hardship. But to improve the deal, the district must meet the modest demands of officials in Hendry County.
    "EDITORIAL: Buy the U.S. Sugar land".


    "The Deliverance lobby scored another victory in Tallahassee"

    Frank Cerabino: "Florida's barnyards remain a beacon of freedom."

    That's because the Deliverance lobby scored another victory in Tallahassee this month.

    For the second year in a row, the Florida Legislature failed to pass a bill that would have made it illegal to have sex with animals. ...

    I think it might be time to shame those paragons of virtue in the Florida House by proposing a "Squeal Free or Die" animal sex specialty license plate
    "Animal sex bill a casualty of political infighting".


    Liberty City Six

    "Third time was the charm for federal prosecutors in the so-called Liberty City terrorism trial. But don't be surprised if Tuesday's convictions are not the last we hear of this case." "Liberty City Six trial too costly for the results". See also "5 found guilty in Miami of trying to join in terror plot with al-Qaida".


    Poor Jeff

    "Analysts see little hope for Kottkamp".


    Buchanan

    "Buchanan will not run for governor or Senate". See also "Buchanan to seek reelection".


    "Special danger"

    "Hurricanes pose special danger to Florida farm areas: blown pesticides, other toxic chemicals".


    "Reality"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board: "Floridians can always rely on year-round sunshine, but rainfall is highly unpredictable in the Sunshine State. This makes water resource management one of Florida's greatest challenges, but also one of its greatest rewards. Water sustains more than 16 million residents, supports multibillion-dollar industries in agriculture and tourism, and is the lifeblood of our natural environment, from north Florida's underground springs to central Florida's Lake Okeechobee and south Florida's expansive Everglades." "Coming to grips with drought's dry reality".


    "Cue the creepy sound track from Psycho"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "It's the moment South Florida homeowners dread. The annual windstorm-insurance bill arrives and -- cue the creepy sound track from Psycho -- you open it to find another huge increase staring you in the face. You ask: How much more of this can I take?" "Seeking shelter against the wind".


    Interim director

    "Twenty days before the start of the 2009 hurricane season, Gov. Charlie Crist named Ruben Almaguer interim director of the agency that prepares Floridians for natural disasters." "Crist names interim emergency operations head". See also "Ex-Miami-Dade fire-rescue chief to lead Florida's emergency office".


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