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 Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"So many tea parties, so little time" for Rubio

    Beth Reinhard: "U,S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio is trying to convert tea party activists into supporters of his campaign for the Republican nomination."
    So many tea parties, so little time.

    Up-and-coming U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio has become the hottest ticket on Florida's tea-party circuit. The movement of disaffected, disillusioned and generally fed-up conservative voters has helped fuel his increasingly competitive campaign against the more moderate Gov. Charlie Crist.

    Here's the problem: Rubio, the Republican former leader of the Florida House, could be sidelined as a fringe candidate if he is too closely associated with the loosely organized, quirky tea party crowd.

    When a recent New York Times headline asked: "The first senator from the tea party?'' Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos quipped: "At least they put a question mark.''

    The impact of tea party voters on the 2010 election is as unpredictable as the political climate in the nation's largest swing state.
    "Rubio becoming star on tea-party circuit". Related: "Rubio returns Crist’s message in U.S. Senate Republican video volley" and "New Rorschach test for GOP primary candidates: Crist or Rubio?".

    Sink and McCollum

    "Fellow Cabinet members by morning, rivals at afternoon press conferences, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink spent Tuesday juggling their day jobs and their quest to be Florida's next governor." "McCollum, Sink alternate between cabinet, campaign".


    "Democrats on Tuesday rounded out their 2010 statewide ticket by fielding a candidate for chief financial officer: Loranne Ausley, a Tallahassee lawyer and former legislator. ... Republicans have fielded two candidates for CFO: Rep. Pat Patterson of DeLand and Senate President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, who had a strong fundraising quarter to conclude 2009." "Democrat joins CFO contest".

    Broaward says no thank you, Mr. Obama

    "The Broward County school district on Tuesday forfeited its chance to get $34 million, voting not to be part of the state's application for a federal education grant. School Board members said the Race to the Top Competition, a $4.35 billion education reform program, had too many unanswered questions, unfunded mandates and a re-emphasis on testing. 'What they're saying is to be in the mix, you, Maureen Dinnen, must sign something you don't believe in,' Dinnen said during an impassioned argument against the program." "Broward School Board rejects chance for $34 million". See also "Broward schools say no thanks to Race to the Top initiative", "Seminole schools won't pursue federal 'Race to Top' money" and "Polk School Board Rejects Obama's Race To Top Program".

    Daily Rothstein

    "Rothstein to appear in court Wednesday".


    "UF reaches deal with faculty union".


    "Florida State University's new president will have a larger salary than his predecessor, T.K. Wetherell, and stands to make even more in bonuses as a reward for big-time fundraising." "New FSU president signs contract for $395K, plus bonuses".

    Storms challenger

    "An attorney from Valrico is challenging state Sen. Ronda Storms in the Republican primary contest for her District 10 seat. Paul Phillips filed papers on Monday to run for the Senate seat that Storms has held since 2006."

    And isn't this fellow a chip off the old RPOFer block: "As a lawyer, Phillips represents banks and other financial institutions."

    His background in the business sector has informed his political views, he said, which he boils down to restraining government to make room for market innovation. Among his concerns, he said, is regulatory pressure on banks preventing them from making commercial loans.
    "Ronda Storms gets primary challenger".

    Public Counsel games

    "In the midst of two votes over the largest rate cases in state history, the lawyer who represents consumers is on the hot seat."

    J.R. Kelly, the head of the Office of Public Counsel, faces confirmation from a newly formed legislative committee that had its first meeting on Monday. The Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight convened the same day the PSC was voting on the Progress Energy rate case.

    Kelly opposed Progress Energy's request to raise base rates $500 million a year, as well as Florida Power & Light's request to raise them $1.3 billion a year. He said the utility companies not only didn't deserve a rate increase but that because they have over-collected from customers, regulators should order them to reduce rates.

    Now Kelly faces more than a routine vote over his reconfirmation. Legislative leaders have decided to open the job to new applicants. The Office of Public Counsel is an arm of the Legislature and Kelly is appointed by lawmakers. ...

    Jack Shreve, a previous public counsel who held the post for 25 years, said Monday that during all his time as public counsel, he faced confirmation every year but the Legislature never opened the job up for applications.
    And the fine fellow behind this?:
    Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, chairman of the joint committee.
    "Utilities' public advocate faces competition for post".

    "Two politically potent issues"

    "Attorney General Bill McCollum Tuesday injected two politically potent issues into the governor's race Tuesday: trial lawyer fees and the state's massive, $120 billion-plus retirement system."

    McCollum, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, used a State Board of Administration meeting Tuesday to urge his fellow trustees on the Cabinet -- Gov. Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink -- to support capping fees to law firms hired to help the state recover billions of dollars lost in last year's meltdown on Wall Street. ...

    Sink stopped short of endorsing the cap, saying instead that lawyers' fees should depend in part on "how much money might be at stake."

    "I think we have to look at it on a case-by-case basis and get the best deal for the taxpayer," she said.
    "Sink has pushed for broader oversight of the SBA,"
    but her staff also recommended the Broward County law firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler -- co-founded by alleged Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein -- be considered as part of the pool of firms eligible for the business, according to a St. Petersburg Times report.

    Rothstein's firm, which had heavily financed Republican campaigns, subsequently donated $200,000 to the Florida Democratic Party. After Rothstein was arrested, the party refunded the money; Sink said her office did nothing wrong and passed along "any and every firm that has expressed any interest" to the SBA.

    McCollum also held a press conference to announce that his top legislative priority would be passing a bill that imposes contract "transparency" and the $50 million contingency-fee cap on law firms hired by the his office -- and took a veiled swipe at the Sink-Rothstein connection.
    Much more here: "McCollum goes after Sink, trial lawyers' fees". See also "McCollum, Sink split on cap for lawyer fees in suits".

    "One of the biggest con jobs in Florida politics"

    Scott Maxwell finds it "strange to see so many ideological opponents embracing each other nowadays. "

    We have uber-liberal Corrine Brown making a point — and hard-core Republicans nodding their heads in agreement.

    And what issue, pray tell, could be significant enough to make sworn enemies unite?

    Protecting their own rear ends; that's what.
    Maxwell continues, writing that
    one of the biggest con jobs in Florida politics is that Republicans have convinced many Floridians — and much of the lazy media — that Brown is the prime beneficiary of this gerrymandering.

    She is not.

    Republicans were thrilled to dump tons of Democrats into Brown's district because it left more GOP voters for them.

    They gave Brown a district where she had a 40-point party advantage, so that they could give themselves five districts with a five-, six- or seven-point lead.
    "Fair districts? Parties unite in opposition".

    "It shouldn't be that hard"

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "It shouldn't be that hard to define open records obligations for text messages exchanged with and among government officials. Many government entities around the state are already doing so. State lawmakers, who are the stewards of Florida's cutting-edge Government-in-the-Sunshine law, need to get busy and issue statewide guidelines." "Text messaging guidelines needed at state level".

    Press conference alert

    "Charlie Crist Miami bound over Haiti quake".

    "Fast-forward almost exactly two years"

    William March: "On a Saturday night in January 2008, several hundred Pinellas County Republican Party members turned out for a political fundraising dinner featuring two of the nation's most popular Republicans, presidential candidate John McCain and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist."

    It's hard to overstate the adulation those party activists then felt for Crist, their favorite son -- a St. Petersburg High football star, son of a prominent local doctor, and maybe the most successful politician ever from their county.

    That night, he surprised and delighted the crowd by endorsing McCain for the GOP presidential nomination, boosting McCain to a Florida primary win.

    Completely upstaged was the night's intended keynote speaker, state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

    As Rubio got up, a mass of reporters and Republicans followed Crist and McCain to the rear of the banquet room for a news conference, leaving Rubio speaking to empty seats.

    Fast-forward almost exactly two years, to Monday night.
    "Home county party's rebuke raises questions about Crist's chances".


    "Another group is calling on the Tampa City Council to abolish its decades-old tradition of opening public meetings with prayer." "2nd group asks Tampa City Council to halt invocations".

    Florida Power & Light

    "The Public Service Commission's vote Wednesday on the proposal by Florida's largest electric utility comes two days after the panel refused to raise rates for the state's second-largest power company - Progress Energy Florida." "PSC voting on Florida Power & Light rate hike". See also "FPL rate hike case kicks off" and "Progress Energy rate hike rejected; will FPL lose too?".

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "The Florida Public Service Commission was right to reject most of Progress Energy's requested $500 million-a-year rate increase, which would have raised rates by about $10 a month for the utility's 1.6 million Florida customers, 76,000 of whom are in west Volusia County. In light of Progress Energy's solid recent profits, its 21-year streak of generous dividends to investors and the harshest economy Floridians have known in three generations, the utility's request was untimely and unreasonable."

    The commission today should consider Florida Power & Light's request for a $1.3 billion rate increase in the same light. FPL's request is similarly unreasonable and derives more from the utility's commitment to its shareholders than to its customers.
    "Those poor public utilities just can't catch a break".

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