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 Saturday, August 29, 2009

"A mockery"

    Jim Saunders: "Crist announced Friday that Republican George LeMieux, the governor's former chief of staff and campaign manager, will succeed Sen. Mel Martinez, who announced this month he was resigning from the job." "Crist selects ex-aide to Senate".

    "LeMieux, 40, will be the youngest sitting member of the Senate. The Fort Lauderdale native will be Broward's first senator, and will hold one of the most powerful elected offices in the nation without ever having won an election." "George LeMieux -- Gov. Crist's 'maestro' -- is picked for Senate seat". See also "Gov. Crist appoints LeMieux to finish Martinez's U.S. Senate term" and "Crist names LeMieux to U.S. Senate".

    William March: "Crist's decision to name former aide and political strategist George LeMieux to fill the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez was immediately controversial Friday." "Crist taps LeMieux for Senate".

    "Some Tampa Bay area Republican Party leaders from the conservative side of the party expressed their displeasure bluntly."
    "Obviously what the governor did is what's in the governor's best interest . . . but I think it's about as far away from his Republican base as he could be," said Debbie Cox-Roush, chairman of the Hillsborough party.

    "I believe we had candidates that would have served Florida better in Washington. That's about as diplomatic as I can be."

    Cox-Roush and other leaders of the party organizations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties had backed former U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis of Palm Harbor for the appointment.

    Rubio, who's appealing to conservatives in his challenge to Crist in the GOP Senate primary, called the appointment "disappointing."

    "George is a talented political operative and the governor's best friend, but that doesn't make him the right choice to represent Florida in the Senate," he said.
    "Some Republicans criticize Crist's pick for Senate".

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Democratic Congressman and Senate candidate Kendrick Meek framed the appointment as 'a mockery,' suggesting that 'various Hispanic leaders' would have been in a better position to hit the ground running." "Political? Of course". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It's all about Mr. Crist".

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "In choosing his longtime political confidante and former chief of staff George LeMieux to fill Mel Martinez' seat in the U.S. Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist did what he usually does: what's best for Charlie." "Crist sends friend to Washington". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "In LeMieux, Crist serves himself".

    The New York Times: "Karen Thurman,"
    the state’s Democratic party chairwoman, criticized the choice in a statement released on Friday: “This glaring example of political cronyism is the last thing Florida needed while we face these tough economic times and the Congress is tackling critical issues such as health insurance reform and global warming. In appointing LeMieux, someone who has made millions over the past several years selling access to Crist to the highest bidders among Tallahassee’s special interests, Charlie Crist once again put his own political ambition above doing what is right for Florida.”
    "The Miami Herald also outlined some of the questions surrounding Mr. LeMieux’s work at the law firm of Gunster Yoakley, and new information available on the forms he filed in seeking this Senate appointment:"
    While LeMieux has steadily avoided discussing the clients he represented at Gunster Yoakley, he had to disclose on a Senate questionnaire last week that he had a consulting business, MTC Strategies, named after each initial of his three boys. Federal election records show he earned $150,000 in consulting fees in the past 13 months from the Republican Party of Florida.

    LeMieux wouldn’t discuss what he did to earn that money.

    LeMieux said he’s representing the Florida Department of Transportation in negotiations with Florida East Coast railroad and he’s negotiating the Seminole Tribe of Florida gambling agreement on Crist’s behalf for free.

    But Republican operative Roger Stone, who has campaigned publicly against the choice of LeMieux for the Senate, questioned whether LeMieux was really working pro bono. Stone pointed to a Herald/Times blog report showing that 71 percent of the $912,000 the Seminoles directly gave to the Republican Party since 1996 was donated since Crist took over party fundraising after he won the 2006 Republican governor’s race primary.

    "The pattern of giving and the flow of money to LeMieux are deeply concerning,” said Stone, who has done political work for South Florida pari-mutuels opposed to the Seminole compact. “I don’t see how you can be an objective negotiator with the tribe when it appears as if he was paid by the Seminoles using RPOF as a pass through.”

    An analysis of Crist’s Senate campaign documents shows Gunster Yoakley and its clients accounted for $142,250 in contributions.
    "Crist Names Ally as Senate Replacement for Martinez". The Washington Post: "Thurman said LeMieux 'has made millions over the past several years selling access to Crist to the highest bidders among Tallahassee's special interests.'" "Florida Governor Taps LeMieux for Senate".

    Adam Smith:
    "I'm practically speechless," longtime Republican strategist J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich said after hearing George LeMieux beat out eight other finalists to be appointed Florida's next U.S. senator. "George LeMieux is a great guy and very capable.

    "But you've got a list that has a former U.S. attorney (Roberto Martinez) who was the go-to guy of three governors; you've got the mayor of a major city, a chancellor and university president (John Delaney); you've got a guy who won repeated statewide elections (Jim Smith); you've got a guy who served decades in Congress (Mike Bilirakis and Clay Shaw). And you pick George?"
    "Crist places a bet on loyalty by appointing George LeMieux".

    More from Steve Bousquet: "For insight on LeMieux, look to an election loss".

    "Maestro" dropping the ball?

    "LeMieux, Crist's former chief of staff, served as the governor's lead negotiator with the tribe." "Casino deal still not reached".

    An honest editorial about the LeMieux pick

    Most of the editorial commentary about Crist's self-serving LeMieux pick has been (predictably) tame.

    Fortunately the The Palm Beach Post editorial board has supplied a little honesty to the discussion: "The honest thing would have been for Gov. Crist to appoint himself to Mel Martinez's former Senate seat. The governor's choice of his stunt double should fool no one."

    With this choice, the governor showed that what matters most is that nothing disrupt his plan to flee Tallahassee - and the hard decisions that would lie ahead in a second term - for a Senate seat that he can use to promote himself while he decides whether to run for president. The governor has attempted to cover his retreat by saying that he wants to bring Florida-style solutions to Washington, but that's no more believable than the idea that anyone but Mr. LeMieux was in contention.
    The editors continue:
    Though Mr. LeMieux will serve only through next year, key legislation could come before the Senate. President Obama and Democratic leaders still promise a vote on health care reform. Gov. Crist used the word "cockamamie" to describe the health care negotiations, but this state has more at stake than most because Florida has the highest percentage of residents over 65. Will Mr. LeMieux vote based on what is best for the state, or will the governor tell him to be obstructionist and play to the president's critics who favor ex-Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary? ...

    With Florida at its most fragile since World War II, it is infuriating to have a governor who so clearly places his future above the state's.
    "Charlie's cardboard cutout".

    "Only everything"

    Mark Hohmeister: "What do the voters want? Only everything".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Regulators clamped down last fall on shady sales practices for privately run Medicare health insurance for the elderly."

    New regulations for the plans, known as Medicare Advantage, banned unsolicited phone calls and door-to-door sales. They stopped agents from churning up commissions by switching customers to new policies. Meals tied to marketing activities also are now forbidden.

    But customers and advocate groups say the plans' confusing nature still leaves room for pitches bordering on the deceptive, and abuses still crop up.

    Seniors report being pressured with unsolicited phone calls or home visits that are clearly prohibited. Some have signed up for plans that didn't include their longtime doctors or hit them with unexpected costs, things they learn weeks later.
    "Rules rein in Medicare Advantage marketing". Related: "Some question private Medicare plans' advantage".


    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "State Sen. Charles Dean is running out of alibis." "Senator, it's time to pay your fees".

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