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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, October 17, 2009

Crist getting conservative backlash

    "The governor is looking nervous on the campaign trail. He's trying to bolster his conservative credentials, but he's making some questionable claims to do it."

    Josh Hafenbrack continues:
    The ads come at a critical time for Republican Crist: His once-bulletproof popularity is showing cracks.

    And despite having a $6 million campaign account, he is facing a real primary fight against former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, a favorite among conservatives.

    In the ads, Crist presents himself as a penny-pinching conservative and blasts President Barack Obama as a big spender.
    "The ads, though, make some dubious claims."
    Crist takes credit for cutting state spending by $7 billion, reductions forced by the lousy economy and declining tax receipts. In fact, the Legislature has trimmed his proposed budgets every year he has been in office. ...

    On one radio station in Fort Myers, the same city where Crist appeared with Obama to embrace the president and his stimulus package, WINK News conservative host Mandy Connell ripped the governor's claims.

    "Oh, my God, my head is going to explode," she said. "I cannot stand people to take credit for things that they didn't do. We can't spend our way to prosperity? What ... was your standing on stage begging Barack Obama for stimulus money, then?"
    "The radio spots hit the airwaves during a tough stretch for the governor."
    A poll done by Insider Advantage this week showed his approval rating at 48 percent — below 50 percent for the first time — though a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll had his approval rating at 62 percent.

    Either way, Crist is no longer considered a sure bet against Rubio, who raised $1 million this summer and has had a string of decisive victories in straw polls among party activists.
    "Crist's ads tilt to right".

    "Crist is either forgetful, or he's hoping voters are."
    Crist also boasts that while spending in Washington has been increasing, he has cut Florida's budget by $7 billion since taking office. What he doesn't say is that Florida's constitution requires a balanced budget, and that state revenues have declined because of the recession, forcing the budget cuts.

    When Crist pushed for the stimulus package, one of his arguments was that it was needed to prevent even deeper budget cuts. When it passed, Crist said, "I couldn't be more pleased on how this turned out."

    Crist also says in the ads that he has cut taxes. And while Crist did successful push for cuts in property taxes, he doesn't mention that the last budget he signed included $2 billion in increased taxes and fees, including increased vehicle registration fees and a higher cigarette tax.
    "Analysis: Crist ads count on forgetful voters". See also "Fact check: Crist’s first radio ad for U.S. Senate campaign".

    Jim Saunders has more: "Crist climbed to the top of Florida politics during the past decade, drawing conservative and moderate voters with his optimistic, populist style."
    But as Crist runs for the U.S. Senate in 2010, he faces a Republican primary battle with former state House Speaker Marco Rubio who is helping spur some conservative party activists to turn against the governor.

    Rubio, who will make campaign stops today in Volusia and Flagler counties, is traveling the state pitching a conservative message that ranges from cutting taxes to opposing the federal stimulus package.

    And in the process, the Miami-Dade County lawyer is trying to draw sharp distinctions with Crist and present himself as the best candidate to go to Democratic-controlled Washington.

    "I don't believe (Crist) will be a check and balance on the direction that President Obama and (Democratic leaders) Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would take our country," Rubio said.
    "Rubio drums up conservative support".

    Meantime, the The Orlando Sentinel editorial board accuses Charlie of being a drama queen in "Grand gesture".

    More from The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Crist's call for a statewide grand jury to probe public corruption could do a lot more good if it also addressed shenanigans in state government, and if the governor were willing to lead efforts to strengthen Florida's anti-corruption laws." "Statewide grand jury fine – but where are details?".

    Wild horses ...

    "20 wild mustangs found galloping along Kissimmee River north of Lake Okeechobee".

    Kosmas krushing challengers

    "U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas more than doubled the combined fundraising efforts of her top Republican challengers in the past three months, raising doubts as to whether the GOP can recapture the east-central Florida seat from the freshman Democrat. Kosmas, of New Smyrna Beach, collected more than $305,000 from a combination of individual Florida donors and powerful political-action committees, including at least $17,500 from unions, $4,000 from aerospace companies and more than $20,000 from the financial sector."

    Her efforts far outpaced the three Republicans who had jumped into the race. One of them, state Rep. Dorothy Hukill, announced last week that she would abandon her fledgling campaign. The Port Orange lawmaker raised less than $25,000 in her inaugural quarter.

    Her GOP peers fared slightly better. Winter Park Commissioner Karen Diebel — a favorite of national Republican strategists — raised more than $50,000. Most of these contributions came from her hometown, where about 40 supporters gave money to her campaign.

    "In the beginning, you do focus on where you're from — your friends and your family," said Anthony Bonna, her campaign manager. He said fundraising slowed when former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz briefly considered entering the race. Holtz has since headlined a fundraiser for Diebel.
    "Kosmas shoots past GOP foes in fundraising".

    Thank you, Mr. Obama

    "Stimulus spending puts 33,547 to work in Florida, more than half in education".

    Muscogee Nation of Florida

    The Tribe's "last victory was in 2007, when U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez introduced the Muscogee Nation of Florida Federal Recognition Act. The bill, a giant leap after a series of baby steps, remains under consideration in the Committee on Indian Affairs. U.S. Reps. Jeff Miller and Allen Boyd are co-sponsoring a House version. The bill could take another leap later this month, when either committee could send it up for a vote." "Panhandle tribe seeks US recognition".

    Expect a Crist press conference at any moment

    "Housing booming: Naples area Realtors report large increase in home sales from July to September".

    Even the Trib gets it

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The state Senate, to its credit, did approve a funding plan, but it failed in the House, where the leadership linked Florida Forever funding to a controversial plan to allow oil drilling immediately off the coast. This time lawmakers, regardless of how they feel about coastal drilling, should recognize petroleum production is an inappropriate funding source." "State must preserve Florida Forever".

    Florida Hometown Democracy

    Jim Saunders: "Florida voters are still more than a year away from an election showdown about how to manage the state's growth. But opponents are gearing up to try to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment, known as Florida Hometown Democracy, which would allow the public to make many major development decisions." "Debate rages on Hometown Democracy amendment".

    The best they can do?

    "2 in GOP may oppose Kottkamp for attorney general".

    Grayson green

    "U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, netted about $345,000 for his re-election — even as several established Republican opponents declined to challenge the bombastic freshman lawmaker."

    [H]e raised his profile among Democratic donors last month when he said the Republican proposal for health-care reform was for sick patients to "die quickly."

    The comments — made on the eve of the Sept.30 reporting deadline — did not have a major effect on his totals. But a last-minute flurry of out-of-state donations through the liberal political-action committee ActBlue hints that Grayson's comments could fuel a big haul in the next cycle.
    "Grayson raises cash".

    As Crist parties in Las Vegas* ...

    ... "For the first time, more than 1 million Floridians are out of work. " "High Florida jobless rate to persist". See also ""Florida sees worst jobless rate since 1975".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *"Crist will benefit from a fundraiser at the Palazzo Hotel and Casino, one of the newest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, on Oct. 29. His host, Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson, is the 26th-richest man in America, according to Forbes magazine." "Governor Charlie Crist plans pricey event with Freedom's Watch funder".

    Marco goes local

    "A preliminary analysis of Rubio’s most recent fundraising records, available today, show that the former state House Speaker pulled a majority of donations from Florida, undercutting speculation that he would get much of his support from out-of-state conservatives, rather than supporters (and more importantly voters) in his home state. What's more, the vast majority of these gave relatively small contributions -- less than $1,000 -- which means Rubio can go back to them for more money. Late Friday, the Rubio campaign estimated that he received more than $698,000 from almost 5,800 Florida donors and nearly $315,000 from almost 3,200 donors outside Florida." "Where did Rubio get his $1 million in donations?".

    "The definition of a public record ..."

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The ruling makes clear that public agencies cannot circumvent Florida's Sunshine laws by doing government business with private companies or by using the Internet: 'The appeal by the university is a matter of public concern. It is not transformed into a private matter merely because the documents the university lawyers used to prepare the appeal reside on a computer owned by a private organization. The definition of a public record does not turn on the sender's method of transmission.'" "EDITORIAL: The 'Sunshine' gets brighter".

    Legislative Film, Entertainment and Television Caucus

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "While we anxiously wait for the Legislature to honestly notice and earnestly invest in higher education to rev up the economic engines of the knowledge economy, it is heartening to see other approaches being championed."

    This week, Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, made another step forward in her efforts to build momentum in the film and entertainment industry, which is such a natural for Florida. It is also links to major assets of our community: Florida State University's College of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts and other FSU and Florida A&M music and performing arts programs.

    Ms. Rehwinkel Vasilinda announced Thursday that leading actor Jeffrey Donovan of USA Network's "Burn Notice," will join Florida legislators on Nov. 3, the next committee week, to launch the Legislative Film, Entertainment and Television Caucus.
    "Economic talent".

    Brown takes a pass

    "Fla. Rep. Brown won't run for Senate".

    "Another economic stimulus is needed"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:

    Millions of Americans are hurting from loss of jobs, homes and health insurance. In Florida, the unemploment rate is 11 percent (11.7 percent in Volusia County and 16.2 percent in Flagler County). Unemployment insurance should be extended, and with it, extensions of subsidized health benefits for the unemployed and their children. Jobs should be created. Federal and state governments have various means. One option is tax breaks or tax credits for businesses that create jobs, as long as the system isn't easily gamed to enable bogus job creation.

    Another option is faster government spending of stimulus money already approved in February. As of this week, just $111 billion of the February $787 billion stimulus package has been spent. The package included $213 billion in tax cuts. An additional $470 billion is left to spend. Just $63 billion in tax cuts have been issued, leaving $150 billion yet to stream through the economy. Florida has been among the most laggard states in its spending of highway aid.
    "Money where it counts".

    More Grayson

    "The petition accuses Reid, D-Nevada, of trying to placate Republican Sen. Olympia Snow, the lone Republican to vote for the Finance Committee bill. 'Olympia Snowe was not elected President last year. Olympia Snowe has no veto power in the Senate. Olympia Snowe represents a state with one half of one percent of America's population.'" "Democrat Alan Grayson turns on his own party".

    Thanks, Senator Atwater

    "Florida Power & Light Co. got the OK on Friday to collect nearly $63 million next year to upgrade two nuclear power plants and build another that hasn't even been approved, thanks at least in part to state Sen. Jeff Atwater and an amendment he quietly added to a bill passed into law three years ago."

    The "nuclear cost recovery clause" allows utilities to charge customers for planning and building nuclear plants before federal authorities approve them and doesn't require power companies to reimburse customers if the plants never come to fruition.
    "FPL approved for $62.7 million for FPL nuke costs".


    "Special election to fill Wexler congressional seat could cost $600,000 in Palm Beach County".

    Billy gettin' desperate

    Steve Bousquet: "Bill McCollum and Alex Sink share common skepticism about oil drilling".

    Trial lawyer staffers suspended

    Aaron Deslatte: "The Florida Justice Association announced Friday that it had suspended its top three staffers -- Scott Carruthers, Paul Jess and political director Albert Balido -- for their role in the production of a racially charged mailer at the center of a multimillion-dollar special election last month." "Trial lawyer lobby suspends its top brass over racial mailer".

    Which explains Kathy Castor

    "As Florida cities go, Bay area is smart, Web site says".

    Huth in the game in HD 26

    Jim Saunders: "The race to replace state Rep. Pat Patterson next year is attracting early money."

    New campaign reports show Republican Fred Costello raised $36,590 between July 1 and Sept. 30 for the House District 26 race. In all, Costello, the Ormond Beach mayor, has raised $65,224 since starting to collect contributions early this year.

    But Democrat Tim Huth, a Volusia County deputy schools superintendent who entered the race in July, nearly matched Costello during the recently completed fundraising quarter. Huth brought in $30,070.

    Republican Vince Champion of Ormond Beach raised $5,977, giving him a total of $21,477. Another Republican in District 26, Nathan Daniel McDonell, entered the race in September and raised $1,520.
    "Money flows in early to state House race".

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