Rothstein's kiss of death
George Bennett: "Republican Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams hasn't drawn a Democratic challenger and is well-liked by many Dems."
But Democrat Robert Weinroth, an attorney from Boca Raton, is considering the race and spent $5,000 this month on a poll with several questions linking Abrams and Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein."Potential Abrams challenger test-markets Rothstein strategy".
Attorney Abrams made $204,321 in 2008 while working in the three-lawyer Boca office of Fort Lauderdale-based Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. He says he had little contact with Rothstein and no knowledge of his financial dealings. Rothstein, money-raising friend of Gov. Charlie Crist, was listed as a reference last year when Abrams applied for the commission appointment after Mary McCarty resigned in a corruption scandal.
Weinroth said an initial poll of 300 voters showed Abrams handily defeating him. But the race tightened after voters were fed information about Rothstein.
The Saint Petersburg Times's Aaron Sharockman: "With Republicans Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio dominating news coverage about Florida's U.S. Senate race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek would like you to know he's running, too." Sharockman continues, writing that may of the "experts" are still calling the race for whoever the Republican Senate candidate might be; he cites the following (notably undated) remarks from a handful of pundits:
Congressional Quarterly lists Florida as "Likely Republican.""Pundits agree: Senator likely to be Crist or Rubio, not Meek".
Stuart Rothenberg, an oft-quoted political analyst, says "Clear advantage for incumbent party," or in this case, Republicans.
Another familiar name in political speculating, the Cook Political Report, lists the Florida race as "Likely Republican."
Larry Sabato at the Center for Politics: "Likely Republican."
Ken Rudin at National Public Radio: "Republican favored."
A group called Intrade says Republicans have a 78.45 percent chance of keeping the seat.
New York Times: "Likely Republican."
At FiveThirtyEight.com, Florida ranks as 13th-most likely seat to switch hands in November.
Struggling to find the word "tossup" associated with the Florida Senate race, we asked the Meek campaign for help.
They referred us to a Jan. 6 blog post from the Wall Street Journal titled "2010 Tossups: A Rundown of the Most-Competitive Senate Races." It includes Florida among 11 other races.
"Spotlight on Meek"
Beth Reinhard: "An onslaught of attention for Miami Democrat Kendrick Meek — who represents more Haitian-Americans than any other member of Congress — comes after months of scrapping for publicity for his U.S. Senate bid." "Amid tragedy, spotlight on Meek".
The least we can do
Michael Mayo: "After Hurricane Katrina walloped New Orleans in 2005, the devastated city emptied as evacuees flocked to surrounding states. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia — these were the safe havens that became home away from home."
Like it or not, South Florida will almost certainly be pressed into similar duty following the catastrophic earthquake that has leveled Port-au-Prince. There's sure to be a wave of Haitian immigration and emergency relocation here in coming months, legal and illegal, by every conceivable method."Haitians might need S. Fla. sanctuary". Related - The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "America's response to Haiti befits a King" and "Haitians finally granted TPS status".
How will South Florida react?
With compassion and humanity, I hope.
And with more sensitivity than Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh, I hope.
"During visits to Little Haiti and Homestead Air Reserve Base, Vice President Joe Biden promised that U.S. earthquake aid would continue 'long after it's off the crawler at CNN.'" "Vice President Joe Biden stresses U.S. aid commitment during visit to Little Haiti".
"Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks at a Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast in South Florida." "Biden to speak at MLK prayer breakfast".
Scrub that e-mail list
Bill Cotterell: "State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, last week received a little admonition from the Division of Elections about an errant e-mail. She has a fundraising reception set for Thursday night and, apparently, her re-election campaign bought a mailing list of University of Florida law school graduates in the Big Bend area."
It's always good to invite Gators to a party, if for no other reason than to watch them eat. And UF law grads tend to have spare change for politicians."Let's explain those fundraising e-mails".
The problem is, at least one recipient of our lawmaker's e-mail had an address that ended with "state.fl.us." That says "state agency." ...
Reaching out is smart prior to a legislative session. She can't raise money after the session starts March 2, but Rick Minor, her opponent in the Aug. 24 primary, will be running hard.
Reaching out via state e-mail, though, is not cool. An employee — who, incidentally, is not involved in Minor's campaign — forwarded the note to the Division of Elections.
FlaDems winning fight for young and Hispanic voters
Aaron Deslatte: "Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux sent out a memo last week bragging of a"
"banner year" for registering new voters and raising cash, adding that the party rings in the 2010 election year with a sizable cash advantage over Republicans."Florida Democrats claim more money, voters".
Democrats are reporting $1 million more in cash-on-hand than the traditionally better-funded Republican Party of Florida, as well as an 800,000-voter edge.
Though that latter figure is inflated by "inactive" voters who haven't cast ballots for years, the underlying registration lead that Democrats built over the GOP in 2008 is not weakening, according to numbers compiled by the party. Official year-end totals aren't yet available from the state.
Acreneaux's made-for-media memo called it "striking" that the party held a nearly 16-percent advantage among voters under 35.
Perhaps more importantly, Democrats appear to still be winning the fight for Hispanics.
Democrats claim that 28,000 Hispanics registered with their party last year while 9,000 filed as Republicans – a three-to-one advantage that the GOP can't possibly allow to continue if it wants to win statewide in the coming years.
"After All, He Is Black"
One wonders how many of us that voted to amend Florida's constitution to force Florida courts to follow the the SCOTUS when it comes to the Florida constitution's unreasonable search and seizure provisions are off celebrating MLK Day today.
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "In an encounter with police, location can mean the difference between getting a pass and losing your freedom."
That troubling dichotomy was decried in a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling involving a Hillsborough County teenager[*]. He was convicted of resisting an officer without violence after he ran from deputies in a high-crime area and ignored their command to stop."Fix double standard".
Talk about wrong place, wrong time. Deputies wouldn't have had warrant to stop him had he bolted in a safer — that is, wealthier — neighborhood.
In other words, running without provocation from police in [Orlando's historic minority neighborhood] is considered guilty behavior and justification for a stop and frisk. Doing so in Baldwin Park might not justify a stop.
As Justice Barbara Pariente noted on the Hillsborough case: "If this occurred several miles away, in an area where crime or drug activity was perhaps not so prevalent [i.e., a nice, safe "white" neighborhood], [he] would have been free to do the 'crime' for which he was charged and remain unscathed."
Nevertheless, the state high court affirmed the conviction. It had to. The Florida Constitution compels the state's highest court to honor the U.S. Supreme Court's stance on unreasonable search and seizure.
And a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2000 held that "headlong flight" in a "high-crime neighborhood" constituted reasonable suspicion to justify an investigatory stop.
That ruling coupled with Florida law — it's a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail for anyone willfully to fail or refuse to comply with a lawful police command — troubled the court enough to urge lawmakers to erase the double standard.
Lawmakers should heed the courts' plea.
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*Hillsborough County of course holds a prominent place in our "After All, He Is Black" chronicle.
The poor things
"Not as many raises for university presidents".
Lawton "Bud" Chiles III
"Forty years after the late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles walked the length of the state in his underdog bid for the U.S. Senate, his son and namesake is marching on his own mission. Lawton 'Bud' Chiles III, 56, looking more and more like his famous father as he gets older, is trying to spread the message that state lawmakers are failing children by cutting education and child-welfare programs — even as they continue to lock up juvenile-justice offenders at an alarming rate." "'Bud' Chiles treks across Florida as advocate for kids' health, education".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "A federal judge's decision last summer that Georgia isn't entitled take all the water it wants to accommodate poorly planned growth in the Atlanta area was a victory for millions of people downstream in Alabama and Florida."
But a ruling last week by the same court taints that triumph because the general public is being shut out of negotiations between the three states to resolve the dispute, which centers on the Flint, Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers, before the order takes effect."Secrecy taints tri-state water talks".
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson issued an order - at the requests of the states - that allows the governments to try to hash out an agreement in secret.
It's disappointing that Florida, which prides itself on laws championing "government in the sunshine," agreed to such an arrangement.