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 Saturday, May 16, 2009

More blood for the bath

    "A Republican backlash is brewing against the state and national party as they anoint Gov. Charlie Crist's U.S. Senate campaign -- thereby dissing that of his rival, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio."
    From South Florida to Tampa Bay, a few county Republican parties are discussing or passing resolutions telling the state party to butt out of the Senate race or any other primary.

    If the state party presses forward, Crist's election could be rockier than expected and his hand-picked Republican Party of Florida chairman, Jim Greer, could find it tougher to hold on to power.

    ''I like Jim Greer, but the ball is in his court. He needs to level the playing field,'' said Palm Beach County Republican chairman Sid Dinerstein.

    ''If he doesn't level the playing field,'' Dinerstein said, "we have a serious problem in the Republican Party of Florida and we'll have to straighten it out at our July meeting. The press might want to be there for that.''

    Hillsborough County's Republican Party passed a resolution Thursday demanding that the state party remain neutral. Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Pasco and Hernando counties might follow suit.

    The wave of resolutions was fueled by reports that Greer was talking with GOP higher-ups about whether to invoke party ''Rule 11'' to expressly endorse Crist.

    Right now, polls and insiders suggest that Crist will have an easy time dispatching any rival in the 2010 primary or general election. But if the backlash against the party turns into a revolt, the primary might not be the cakewalk for Crist because Florida has closed primaries dominated by the conservative wing of the party.

    Broward County state Republican committee man Ed Kennedy said Crist's embrace of President Barack Obama and his stimulus package cost him points with conservatives. And Palm Beach's Dinerstein said Crist and Greer's decision not to fully back a Republican congressional candidate embittered some Republicans.
    "Republican backlash brews in Florida, national parties". See also "Marco Rubio responds to Jim Greer trying to shut him out" and "Crist bid widens Fla. GOP rift".

    Adam Smith on poor little Marco:
    The line between fearless warrior, unhinged zealot and doomed martyr can be hazy. It's hard to tell where to place the underdog Republican U.S. Senate candidate.

    On the surface, it's absurd: an obscure Republican former legislator from Miami trying to beat Florida's most popular Republican, a sitting governor named Charlie Crist, who happens to be a record-shattering fundraiser. And 37-year-old Rubio intends to do this in the face of the national Republican establishment uniting behind Crist, and the Florida Republican Party bent on pushing Rubio out altogether. ...

    Maybe it matters that in Crist's home county of Pinellas, more than half the people at this week's party meeting signed up to help Rubio's campaign. Or that the words "Charlie Crist" draw boos at some Republican gatherings. Or that local Republican parties this week have been scolding state GOP chairman Jim Greer for trying to throw the party's full support and resources behind Crist.
    The money is on Rubio going negative early:
    Polls show nearly seven in 10 Republicans approve of Crist's brief performance as governor, so the challenge for Rubio is spreading doubts about Crist's conservatism — and having the money to do it — beyond hard-core activists. That means aggressively tearing down the governor's record and ideas.

    "The way to win for him has got to be all the way or nothing,'' said Republican consultant Adam Goodman. "The problem for him is he's going to hit the line where the party — and even the conservatives — will rebel against him. That's his Catch-22."
    This is a bit much: Rubio
    is drawing fawning coverage from the national conservative media — a Republican Barack Obama, swooned the Weekly Standard — eager to knock down the notion that Crist's brand of sunny centrism is the GOP's path to success.
    "Marco Rubio: an underdog battles for the Republican soul". See also "Marco Rubio: courageous or delusional?". Related: "Brevard GOP riled over Crist".


    Charlie about to break no-new-taxes pledge

    "Charlie Crist signed a no-new-taxes pledge Thursday, indicating that while he's running for the U.S. Senate he might veto some of the fees and taxes legislators raised to balance Florida's budget."

    In the Americans for Tax Reform pledge for federal candidates, Crist promises to oppose income-tax increases. Crist's Republican rival for the Senate seat, Marco Rubio, also signed the pledge on Thursday. Crist and Rubio had signed a similar pledge for state officeholders.

    But Crist is about to break that promise if he doesn't veto most of the $2.2 billion in new taxes and fees that legislators approved May 8.
    "Gov. Charlie Crist's pledge might lead him to veto Florida budget".


    More Atwater for 'ya

    "Senate President Jeff Atwater will run for chief financial officer. A political source close to Atwater said the announcement will be made on Tuesday". "Atwater plans to run for CFO, source says".


    Not so fast, Jeff!

    "Tom Gallagher, former rival of Gov. Charlie Crist, may run for Florida CFO".


    The other Jeff

    "Kottkamp will 'most likely' run for AG, not governor".


    "Kids' health bill wins last-minute passage"

    "The changes to KidCare, which includes children's Medicaid and the subsidized insurance program Healthy Kids, would remove barriers keeping many families out of the program. Fifteen years ago, Florida led the nation in providing health insurance for low-income children. Since then, the state's record has slipped, in large part, because of bureaucratic hurdles and underfunding." "Taking down barriers".


    "Fiendishly expert at playing Pontius Pilate"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Tallahassee politicos have become fiendishly expert at playing Pontius Pilate. Rather than deal decisively with the nasty business of doctoring our ailing education system, the Legislature washes its hands." "Ease small-class angst".


    "Republican leadership" at work

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The 'growth-management' bill that eliminates Florida's strongest growth-management tools is special-interest government at its worst."

    The special interests favored by Senate Bill 360 are developers. They have long complained about the two rules in the state's 1985 Growth Management Act that actually have teeth. One, called traffic concurrency, requires adequate roads to be in place before construction is allowed. The other requires huge projects on large parcels to undergo a rigorous review called a Development of Regional Impact. SB 360 would eliminate both.

    In their place, the Republican leadership of both chambers has created fuzzy exemptions.
    "Growth-management bill a disaster".


    Scary visual

    "Atwater, in future Prez nod, passes Senate fundraising torch to Haridopolos".


    Lock 'em up

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida's prison population has jumped by nearly a quarter in just the past five years. It cracked 100,000 inmates for the first time this year."

    Only California and Texas have more people behind bars. Over that same period, Florida's annual spending on criminal justice and corrections has shot up by more than a third to $4.5 billion. Rising crime is a factor in these increases, but they also reflect a wave of stiffer sentencing laws coming out of Tallahassee.

    If current trends were to continue, Florida's prison population would top 120,000 in another five years. With the average cost of holding a prisoner now more than $20,000 a year, that growth in the inmate population would add hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the annual tab for taxpayers and force billions more to be spent on new facilities to house them.

    The average prison, which holds 1,300 inmates, costs $100 million to build and $26 million a year to operate. The idea of plowing that kind of money into housing more criminals is especially hard to accept right now, with legislators slashing spending on basic services like health care and education for law-abiding Floridians, or relying on handouts from Washington, D.C.
    "Save money on prisons".


    Charlie wants voters to know: he's a green guy!

    "A day after winning approval for his landmark Big Sugar land purchase, Gov. Charlie Crist thanked water managers in person. The governor, on his way to a hurricane conference in Fort Lauderdale, paid an impromptu visit Thursday to the South Florida Water Management District in West Palm Beach. " "Gov. Crist thanks water district officials for 'yes' votes in U.S. Sugar deal". See also "Crist to water managers who approved $536 million land deal: 'God bless you'".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The scaled-down proposal for restoration of the Everglades that South Florida water managers approved this week shows that pragmatism is not always the enemy of the ideal." "A better deal for Everglades".


    Conservatives gone wild

    "A small, radical Midwestern church that has made headlines for picketing Iraq War veterans' funerals plans to protest an America it believes has gone pro-gay and anti-God with demonstrations in South Florida beginning this weekend." "Anti-gay, radical Westboro church to protest in South Florida".


    Now if they wanted a union ... that'd be different

    "The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with the writers, journalist and librarians of Cuba. ... It was co-sponsored by Florida's other senator, Bill Nelson, as well as Bob Menendez, Lindsey Graham, John Ensign, George Voinovich and Richard Lugar." "Senate supports free press in Cuba".


    Never mind the "Forever" part

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board find it "disheartening that, for the first time since the inception of the state's hugely successful land preservation program, lawmakers put a zero on the Florida Forever ledger for the new fiscal year beginning July 1. If bullheaded legislators responsible for this neglect had wanted to fund it, they could have."

    Residents, who polls have shown strongly support preserving the state's natural riches, should remember this budgetary neglect come election time.
    "State budget has big void".


    It's up to the so-called "People's Governor"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "During the legislative session this year, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business interests lobbied hard to cap legal fees, which they blamed for the rising costs of workers' compensation insurance."

    On the other side, lawmakers also heard from firefighters, police officers and first responders injured on the job who said the state's earlier effort at capping worker's comp legal fees kept lawyers from taking cases. Insurance carriers could deny legitimate claims with little fear of challenge.

    Business interests prevailed, persuading lawmakers to impose rigid limits on legal fees in worker's comp challenges.
    "In doing so, the Legislature effectively stripped injured employees of their right to counsel. Lawmakers passed a bad bill that will almost certainly lead to a wholesale challenge of the workers' comp law. Gov. Charlie Crist should veto it."
    The measure robs workers of their legal rights. Carriers essentially have control over the claims process. In too many cases, they can run up legal fees for both sides by denying benefits in a deliberate attempt to force workers to settle claims for less than they are due. Because of the caps, workers' lawyers can ill-afford to continue the fight. ...

    Crist should recognize the grave injustice and kill the bill.
    "Workers' comp bill kicks injured workers".


    Poor Vern

    "Buchanan's Venice Dodge one of dealerships Chrysler closing".


    "Dyer straits"

    "Orlando government will cut its workforce by more than 10 percent -- some 342 positions, including more than 100 cops and firefighters -- unless an unexpected tax windfall comes through in the coming weeks." "Dyer straits: Orlando to lay off 100-plus emergency workers".


    "Florida is one big storm away from disaster"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "The clock is ticking, with hurricane season just a few weeks away. And Florida is still putting itself unnecessarily at risk, with homeowners finding themselves scrambling for reliable property insurance even as Florida is one big storm away from disaster. Gov. Charlie Crist has within his ample power, the ability to give consumers a little more control over their insurance decisions and that is by NOT vetoing the Consumer Choice Bill (HB 1171 and SB 2036), which even many homeowners who appreciate his interest in keeping their rates low hope he won't veto." "Editorial: Storm time".


    Now that's entrepreneurship

    "After the Rapture: Orlando man will deliver messages to those left behind".


    Bright Futures

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "When the Legislature created the Bright Futures scholarships in 1997, its primary goal was to encourage Florida's best and brightest students to attend state universities. But lawmakers, flush with lottery dollars, transformed this worthy effort into a costly entitlement. Now the program has ballooned into a subsidy of nearly $400 million a year, and it is taking away money from other budget needs, including higher education itself." "Reform Bright Futures to sensible levels".

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