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, January 23, 2010

Charlie "... you're no Scott Brown"

    Beth Reinhard: "Out of the cascade of commentary about Tuesday's upset by a Republican in Democrat-rich Massachusetts came this gem from state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, who used to shoot hoops with the U.S. senator-elect in college:"
    "To the legions of Republicans in Florida who are claiming the 'I'm Scott Brown mantle,' let me say this: 'I know Scott Brown, Scott Brown was a friend of mine . . . you're no Scott Brown.'''
    "The riff on the famous slap at Republican Dan Quayle after he compared himself to Jack Kennedy during the 1988 vice presidential debate was spot on."
    The leading candidates for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat -- Gov. Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek -- are all career politicians who commit sins of omission when they distance themselves from the establishment. ...

    The governor is the biggest insider of them all. Crist compared Brown's avowed commitment to "the people's seat'' in Massachusetts to his own claim to be the "people's governor'' of Florida. It's quite a leap for the sitting governor of the nation's fourth largest state, a vice presidential shortlister, and the once-presumed Republican nominee to claim kinship with a truck-driving state senator who faced a double-digit deficit in the polls. (Do they even let pickups onto Fisher Island, where Crist's wife owns a $3.2 million manse?)
    "Florida's top candidates for U.S. Senate hardly political outsiders". Background: "Florida's GOP candidates rush to claim they're like Massachusetts victor Scott Brown".

    SCOTUS decision helps Rubio?

    Jeremy Wallace: "A U.S. Supreme Court decision is adding more tinder to the hottest political race in Florida"

    The court ruling that lifts restrictions on how much money corporations and unions can spend to influence federal elections is expected to have an impact on the Republican primary race between Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio, and an even greater role in the general election involving the GOP winner against Democrat Kendrick Meek, a House member from Miami.
    "Crist has raised three times more money -- $6 million to $2 million for Rubio. That seemed like a large gap to cross."
    But now with companies and unions able to spend freely for one candidate or against another, analysts said Friday a huge, unpredictable element has entered the race. ...

    While candidates such as Rubio could potentially benefit by the vast potential of money that can now influence races, political experts warned that the ruling could also be a double-edged sword.

    Corporations and unions will be able to promote their own messages -- independently of political campaigns. In doing so, there is risk that message could backfire, wounding the candidate they are supporting.
    "Rubio may benefit from high court decision".

    "What's in a name?"

    "What's in a name? Only the true identity of a grass-roots movement, says a federal lawsuit filed by a handful of tea-party activists against the founders of Florida's new political party by the same name."

    The activists argue that registering the "Tea party'' as a political party with Florida election officials amounts to hijacking their populist uprising against the political establishment. In other words, a Tea Party with a capital ``T'' is no tea party at all.

    "We don't want to become what we're fighting,'' said Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the South Florida Tea Party and a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in West Palm Beach. "Filing as a political party is detrimental to everything we've done.''

    Orlando lawyer Fred O'Neal, who officially registered the "Tea party'' five months ago, acknowledged that he had never actually been to an official tea party. No matter. He said the "Tea'' in his party stands for "Taxed Enough Already.'' ...

    The legal dispute reflects the growing pains of the crusade against big government, deficit spending, and pretty much anything on President Barack Obama's agenda. How it will influence Florida's most hectic election season in decades is a matter of dispute. Critics dismiss what they describe as a fringe movement, while tea-party supporters warn not to write them off.
    Much more here: "Legal dispute erupts over Florida 'Tea party' name".

    Charlie's budget "short on cash and new ideas"

    "Crist proposed a $2.1 billion environmental-protection budget Friday that's a reflection of the dire financial times: Bare bones and lacking new initiatives." "Charlie Crist unveils environmental budget short on cash and new ideas".

    Fair Districts

    "Organizers for the Fair Districts proposal have gathered enough signatures to put the measure -- to change the way lawmakers draw legislative districts -- on the November ballot." "Redistrict plan on ballot". See also "2 redistricting amendments go on state ballot".

    "Paper or plastic?"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:

    Paper or plastic? For an increasing number of Floridians, the answer is "neither." Instead of carrying their purchases out in store-branded bags, they use their own shopping totes or just carry their purchases out unbagged. The result: fewer plastic bags clogging landfills or littering the landscape.
    "Florida's option of totes".

    Citizens United and Florida

    William March: "Under Florida law, you can contribute a maximum of $500 to your candidate for governor."

    For all practical purposes, that law does not apply to real estate investor Jonathan R. Politano of Aventura, who has contributed at least $18,000 to Alex Sink, the top Democratic candidate for governor.

    The limit doesn't matter to Fort Myers physician Daniel Dosoretz either. He operates a chain of radiation therapy clinics and has given about $10,000 to Sink's top GOP opponent, Bill McCollum.

    Both donors control numerous corporations. Because Florida campaign finance law treats corporations as individuals, each of those corporations can give the maximum $500.

    On Thursday, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling took the nation a step closer to that.

    Corporations long have been banned from contributing directly to campaigns for federal offices: U.S. senator, U.S. representative and president.

    They also have been prohibited from spending their money to campaign independently for a federal candidate, known as "independent expenditure" campaigns.

    In strictly Florida races - for governor, the Cabinet, the Legislature and for local office - corporations can do both.
    "Election ruling tracks Fla. law". Background: The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "High court overreaches".

    Crist copyright violation?

    Steve Bousquet: "Crist's use of a video clip of U.S. Senate rival Marco Rubio prompted a state-run TV station to accuse Crist of a copyright law violation, and the video of Rubio has vanished from Crist's campaign Web site." "WFSU-TV station says Crist can't use Rubio clip on campaign site".


    "Deutch said Senate leaders have excused all of his absences and that he had no control over the special election date, which Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, set after U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat, resigned." "State Sen. Deutch most-absent Florida lawmaker since his U.S. House campaign began".


    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Cleaning and storing water that flows into Lake Okeechobee from the north isn't the whole solution to Everglades water needs south of the lake. Still, it's part of the Everglades solution. In addition to being worthwhile, the idea to work with cattle ranchers and farmers might be innovative." "A partial Everglades answer: It can't replace U.S. Sugar deal, but it can help".

    Sansom looking for a lawyer

    "Ousted House Speaker Ray Sansom got more time Friday to find a new lawyer as he defends himself against charges he damaged the Legislature's integrity." "Sansom hearing delayed". See also "Hearings on charges for ex-House speaker postponed".

    Money please, Mr. Obama

    "While the White House remained mum on details of the Florida itinerary of President Obama's and Vice President Biden's visit to Tampa or St. Petersburg on Thursday, high speed rail advocates remain optimistic that the reason is to announce federal funding for a Tampa-Orlando route." "Advocates hope Obama-Biden visit is to award rail funds". See also "Will Obama bring billions for Florida trains?".

    Grayson takes the lead

    "[W]hen the high court cleared the way Thursday for exactly that, the fiery Orlando Democrat was ready with a raft of six bills meant to undermine the 5-4 decision and slam the door on businesses that would use the ruling to flex more muscle in federal elections." "Grayson aims to rein in corporate campaign ads".

    "Real differences separate Aronberg and Gelber"

    Steve Bousquet points out that "real differences separate Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber, who are fighting for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. The contest is one of three down-ballot statewide races likely to be decided by TV ads and obscured by high-profile free-for-alls for U.S. Senate and governor."

    Gelber, 49, has a much more extensive legal background, as a federal prosecutor for nearly a decade and as counsel to a U.S. Senate committee. He was a forceful House Democratic leader who helped his party win back nine seats in 2006, while offering frequent policy alternatives to the Republican agenda. Gov. Charlie Crist credits Gelber with his decision to expand early voting in 2008, a decision seen as having favored Barack Obama's fortunes in Florida.

    Gelber's prosecutorial style, with an emphasis on public corruption, was on display in a recent speech to Polk County Democrats. "You give me 400 lawyers and I will prosecute Ponzi schemes. I will prosecute public officials," Gelber told them. "I am not afraid to make enemies."

    If elected, he promises to immediately sue the Legislature for failing to adequately pay for public education.

    Aronberg, 38, is an affable, boyish politician who represents a more diverse Senate district than his rival. He has the backing of 10 Democratic sheriffs, some in small counties not often hospitable to Democratic candidates. He also has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police.

    As a senator, Aronberg has worked on privacy and consumer issues, such as his sponsorship of laws banning hidden cameras in public — the so-called "video voyeurism" law — and a requirement that companies tell customers when personal data is compromised. A former assistant attorney general for two years in the Bob Butterworth era, Aronberg emphasizes fighting consumer fraud and protecting civil rights.

    "This is my passion," Aronberg says of the office. "My model as attorney general is Bob Butterworth. He was dedicated to the job. He didn't use it as a political stepping stone."
    Much more here: "In Democratic race for attorney general, candidates offer contrast in style, experience".

    McCollum "out of bounds"

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum insists that his threat to file a lawsuit to stop federal health care reform is not about "politics." There is a great way for McCollum to demonstrate that — by dropping his plans to engage in a politically charged lawsuit."

    McCollum is locked in a competitive race — facing state Sen. Paula Dockery in the Republican primary and, if successful, Democrat Alex Sink, Florida's chief financial officer, in the general election — to become Florida's next governor. McCollum has criticized Sink for her refusal to comment on the bill, but now he wants to take the campaign out of bounds by going to court. ...

    [I]t's not like Florida's attorney general doesn't have more pressing concerns here. McCollum, and the state he serves, would be better off if he dropped plans to sue the Obama administration and concentrate on the many problems facing Florida. For starters, he might explain his own health care plans to the state's 5.8 million residents who don't have health insurance.
    "McCollum misfires on health care mandate".

    Environmentalist for a day

    "Crist said he's confident that this year, House and Senate members will see the wisdom of helping preserve the features that make Florida's quality of life so desirable. " "Crist pushes to restore funding for Florida Forever".

    Thank you, Mr. Obama

    "A preliminary state report estimates the federal stimulus program directly and indirectly created or saved at least 87,000 jobs in Florida during the last quarter of 2009." "Stimulus saves, creates 87,700 Fla. jobs".

    To which Marco and Rubio say what?

    HD 73

    "Another candidate for the state House District 73 seat now held by Rep. Nick
    Thompson, R-Fort Myers –– who's running instead for a circuit judge post –– is in
    the wings: John Schultz, a Florida Highway Patrol officer who does security for Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp." "Another candidate emerges in race for U.S. Rep. Nick Thompson's seat".


    "Court: Alachua violated state open records law".

    Gay adoption

    "Foster father braces: Ruling may overturn gay-adoption ban or take kids away".

    Hillsborough blues

    "A Republican political consultant [Chris Ingram, a former aide to Republican U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris] has filed a state ethics complaint against Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White, charging that White violated state law by voting in a matter that affected his own financial situation." "GOP consultant files ethics complaint against White".

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