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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 Thursday, January 07, 2010

RPOF to be led by right wing lobbyist

    "John Thrasher emerged Tuesday as the front-runner to become chairman of the Florida Republican Party, after embattled GOP leader Jim Greer announced his resignation."
    Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican whose state Senate district includes parts of Volusia and Flagler counties, issued a statement saying he would seek the chairman's position but serve only for the coming year. ...

    A former lobbyist who has close ties to the business community, Thrasher has long been a major player in Republican politics. He served in the state House from 1992 to 2000, including two years as House speaker. ...

    Jaryn Emhof , a spokeswoman for Senate president Jeff Atwater, said it did not appear that any rules or laws would prevent Thrasher from serving both as a legislator and party chairman, though Senate attorneys were looking at the issue.

    But Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, blasted the possibility, saying "you cannot serve two masters."

    "In a body that has long been known and respected for its collegiality, its decorum, and most of all, its bipartisan independence, a decision to simultaneously remain in this Senate while leading the Republican Party of Florida threatens its very foundation," Lawson said.
    "Sen Thrasher poised to lead Fla. GOP".

    But everyone isn't happy in RPOFerville: "hrasher's swift coronation by the party's elite as the next party chairman immediately after Jim Greer's resignation Tuesday has created new problems for the party, too."
    The staged show of support carried unpleasant echoes of the party establishment's push to crown Gov. Charlie Crist as Florida's next U.S. senator over rival Marco Rubio.

    Questions cropped up about Thrasher's ability to represent his constituents and the party at the same time in a crucial election year. "The heavy-handedness of what happened yesterday was disrespectful,'' said Sharon Day, a longtime activist who has been lining up support to challenge Thrasher from her Fort Lauderdale condominium. "It was like, 'By the way, here's your new chairman.' ''
    More on those silly rules:
    Some election law experts and Democratic leaders have questioned whether the party can raise money at all during the session with Thrasher at the helm. Party staff members report to him and he signs off on checks coming in.

    But state Sen. Alex Villalobos of Miami, who heads the Senate's rules committee, said the fundraising ban applies only to senators, not to party staff. He also said Senate rules do not prevent Thrasher from heading both the Senate's ethics and elections committee and the state party.
    "Quick choice of Sen. John Thrasher for GOP chairman doesn't please all". See also "Replacing Greer leads to even more GOP infighting" ("It's not so much Thrasher they appear to be objecting to — several said they don't know him well — but the fact that a small group of elected officials picked him without consulting the folks on the front lines. That's not going down well with activists who say one of their chief complaints about Greer was that he ignored the party's rank-and-file"), "John Thrasher called "big business sell-out" as Fla GOP chairman" and "Feeney joins Thrasher fan club" and "Greer resigns, accuses critics of trying to 'burn the house down'".

    RPOFer "moderates (whatever those are) are now dead meat: "Dr. Aubrey Jewett, political scientist at UCF, says Thrasher's appointment would mark a shift in the direction of the Florida Republican Party."
    "He was firmly aligned with the conservative faction when he was speaker of the house," Jewett said.

    Greer emphasized the inclusion of Republican moderates in the party and was criticized for his endorsement of Charlie Crist in the Senate primary.

    If Thrasher takes over he'll be charged with unifying the party ahead of the 2010 elections that provide Republicans a chance to make gains if they can put fourth dynamic campaigns.

    "To the degree unifying the party means making sure that the conservative faction continues to be the dominant faction, I think he'll be excellent at that," Jewett said. "If it means reaching out to moderates, I'm not so sure that he's going to that."
    "Thrasher would mark shift in Fl GOP, says UCF expert".

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board weighs in: "Consummate Tallahassee insider John Thrasher should know better than to execute this power play. The former House speaker and über lobbyist, now a state senator from St. Augustine and chairman of the Committee on Ethics and Elections, is vying to become the state Republican Party's next chairman."
    Mind you, he's not offering to give up his policy-steering Senate chairmanship for the most partisan job a state political party can bestow — its chairmanship. He's looking to juggle both. It has conflict-of-interest written all over it, and it's a move Mr. Thrasher speedily needs to give up.

    Not because holding both positions simultaneously will make him a less effective state party chair, though it will.
    The editors continue, writing that"
    a committee chairman can control how legislation gets debated and whether it's altered. And there's not a committee that needs its chairman to exercise that power more judiciously than elections.

    To satisfy the public, what passes that committee needs to pass the smell test: It's got to be fair, not awash in partisanship.

    But how could a state party chairman put partisanship second? He couldn't. Not Mr. Thrasher, or any other party chair given a legislative committee chairmanship. Hence, some of the worst examples of partisanship that routinely get introduced in Tallahassee could advance more easily under a state political party-legislative committee chair.

    Partisan bills that subject people who circulate petitions registering new voters to criminal penalties if they miss deadlines for turning in signatures. Or bills that seek to gut laws facilitating early voting.

    Mr. Thrasher shouldn't put himself or the state in this position. If he wants to pursue the GOP chairmanship, he needs to relinquish his legislative committee chairmanship. If he wants to help steer the state's elections, he needs to give up on running the Republican Party.
    One too many hats". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board agrees: "Party leader or senator, not both" ("And how effective would Thrasher be working with Senate Democrats, since any deviation from hard-line Republican positions as a senator could undermine his authority as party chairman?")

    Background: "the Tea Party/Club for Growth wing of the GOP scored a major victory ... in finally forcing the resignation of FL GOP Chairman Jim Greer, a key ally of Gov. (and senate candidate) Charlie Crist. But lest you think Greer is some utter milquetoast, he's no real stranger to the crazy either. Greer's the guy who started the whole Obama is indoctrinating our children ruckus back in the fall." "All Relative on the Right". See also "Not a Good Day for Charlie Crist".

    And then there's Mr. Rubio: "Marco Rubio's latest dodge: John Thrasher or Sharon Day?".

    Wingnuts open their wallets

    "In the race for campaign cash, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum outraised Democrat Alex Sink in the final three months of 2009. But the Democratic state chief financial officer still has a considerable fundraising lead over the Republican attorney general, having raised more than $5 million to date, compared to roughly $3.3 million by McCollum." "Bill McCollum outraises Alex Sink in 4th quarter".

    Wingnut watch

    Joel Engelhardt: "Mr. Fruth says he's not a Tea Partier or Glenn Beck devotee, though his ideas are similar. ... For the past 15 years, Mr. Fruth has been an economic consultant advising cities and states." "The next James Madison? Stuart man wants to be the new Framer".

    "Crist pal" crashing and burning

    TPM: "The Florida attorney and Charlie Crist pal who vigorously denied charges that he was running an elaborate Ponzi scheme out of his law office and continued to live it up in public after being charged has decided to plead guilty." "Crashed and Burning".

    "A disbarred South Florida attorney agreed Wednesday to plead guilty later this month to charges arising from an alleged Ponzi scheme that cheated thousands out of $1.2 billion." "Alleged Florida Ponzi schemer Rothstein alters plea to guilty; hearing Jan. 27". See also "Rothstein to plead guilty to unspecified charges, his attorney says".

    Mike Mayo has "no idea what's going on in Rothstein's head now. Rothstein is known as a huge fan of mob movies such as The Godfather and Goodfellas, where the code is to not rat out others. But he might want to drag down everyone around him, especially those he considers dishonorable and hypocritical." "Michael Mayo: Rothstein to admit the crime — will he do much time?".

    Related: "Fort Lauderdale chief: Rothstein fooled me, but I'm not alone".

    RPOFers running government like a business

    "South Florida school districts will lose millions of dollars in funding because more students enrolled in public schools than the state was expecting." "Unexpected enrollment surge cuts cash for schools".

    Crist swings and misses

    Mark Lane: "This is the first week of Gov. Charlie Crist's last year as governor. A good time to review the swings his political reputation has taken."

    January 2006: Crist is a nice guy but out of his depth. It's not his time yet.

    January 2007 (Inauguration Day): Crist is a political genius. He senses trends before they happen. A charmer with first-class temperament. He's the New Model Republican.

    January 2008: Crist's act may sound corny at times, and some of his proposals are amazingly slight, but people are eating this up and things are running smoothly. It's nice to have a governor who occasionally listens to people and doesn't get snippy when somebody steps out of line. This guy's going national.

    January 2009: Too bad about that whole adventure with Sen. John McCain. Now, without the distractions of national politics, he'll be able to, you know, actually accomplish things.

    January 2010: Crist is The Man Who Can Do Nothing Right. He seems unable to react to the recession or anything else that happened last year. The man he picked to head the state party was run out of town. A nice guy but out of his depth. It's not his time yet.

    There are many theories about how this drop in political fortunes came to pass.
    Lane shares his theory here: "Crist's political reputation comes full circle in Year 4".


    "Crist shoots down re-election rumors".

    Sansom back in hot seat

    "In a surprise escalation of the case against ousted House Speaker Ray Sansom, a state prosecutor Wednesday charged him with grand theft and conspiracy to commit grand theft for directing $6 million in taxpayer money for an airport building that a private developer wanted to use."

    Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs filed identical charges against former Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg and developer and major GOP contributor Jay Odom.
    "New charges escalate case against Ray Sansom". See also "Meggs charges Sansom, two others with grand theft, conspiracy" and "Sansom faces new charges". Background: "The rise and fall of Ray Sansom".


    "Everglades advocates gathering to push for restoration progress".


    "U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor told President Barack Obama in a letter this week that Florida needs the jobs and economic investments high-speed rail can provide more than any other state." "Castor cites woes in call for high-speed rail money". Meanwhile, Mica is mired in his own irrelevant hubris: "Mica: Florida among 4 high-speed-rail finalists".

    Yaaawwwnnn ...

    "Haridopolos seeks testimony to boost port security in Florida".

    And where did these workforce boards come from? ...

    ... goodness, they're a another fine Jebacy ...

    "A local lawmaker is angry at a new report showing that the state's Workforce boards spent more than $600,000 on food and drink in a year and is calling for the president of the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance to step aside." "Fasano blasts Workforce chief".


    "A new media company backed by a powerhouse Arkansas investment firm has agreed to pay $20 million for the News-Journal Corp.'s publishing assets."

    Documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Orlando name Halifax Media Acquisition LLC as the buyer of The Daytona Beach News-Journal, the Pennysaver shoppers and the Complete Phone Book.

    The sale also includes the News-Journal offices and printing plant at 901 Sixth St.
    "News-Journal sale in judge's hands".

    Sea cows

    "Manatee death rate hit record high in '09". The Miami Herald editors: "Opinion | MiamiHerald.com".

    As Charlie sleeps ...

    "Turmoil and finger-pointing within the state's disaster planning agency intensified Wednesday -- with the recently resigned general counsel accusing top officials of wasting taxpayer dollars and violating state laws for bids and contracts." "Accusations continue at Florida emergency management division".

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