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 Thursday, February 04, 2010

"Jeb!!" can't hep it!

    That didn't take long:
    A group of prominent Republicans is forming an organization to develop and market conservative ideas, copying a successful Democratic model and hoping to capitalize on the fund-raising and electioneering possibilities opened up by a recent Supreme Court ruling.
    And there's little surprise as to who is in the mix:
    Republicans who are donors, board members or both include Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi; Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida; Ed Gillespie, like Mr. Barbour a former chairman of the Republican Party; Fred Malek, an investor and official in the Nixon and first Bush administrations; Robert K. Steele, a former executive of Wachovia and Goldman Sachs who was a Treasury official in the second Bush administration, and Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot and a former director of the New York Stock Exchange.
    Prepare for a wingnut onslaught:
    And the Supreme Court’s decision last month in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission potentially will allow the organization to take unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals to use to advertise for or against political candidates.

    "This administration as well as Citizens United — when you combine the two the prospects for funding these types of efforts are greatly enhanced," Mr. Coleman said.
    "G.O.P. Group to Promote Conservative Ideas".

    Deutch - Lynch

    "After a long night of uncertainty, Republican Edward Lynch emerged Wednesday as the victor in the special congressional primary, eking out a narrow win over Joe Budd."

    Wednesday morning it seemed like a list of possibilities could keep the outcome in doubt even longer:

    A technical glitch in Palm Beach County kept questions about the final tally lingering into the predawn hours.

    Then there was talk of a mandatory recount because the margin of victory was so narrow. Some spoke -- erroneously -- of a runoff.

    And, with no Republican given much of a chance of actually winning the general election April 13, some wondered why it even mattered.

    Wednesday it appeared that only 46 votes separated Lynch and Budd. Lynch had 3,320 votes to Budd's 3,274. Curt Price was a distant third with 1,566 votes.

    But even that might change -- Budd started the day saying he hoped that provisional ballots, cast by people whose voting status is questioned at the polls, could close the gap. Military absentee ballots are not due until 10 days after an election. If the race is within half of 1 percent, state law provides for a recount.

    By Wednesday afternoon, however, Budd concluded he would not get that close and conceded.
    "Edward Lynch to face Ted Deutch for congressional seat".

    "When it rains, it pours"

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Welcome to Florida, land of perpetual sunshine."

    That's the image the eternally optimistic Gov. Charlie Crist is trying to sell with his latest (and last) state budget recommendations. Crist wants to boost education spending, buy environmentally sensitive land, increase spending for the state's overburdened court system and pour nearly $10 billion into economic development.

    Florida needs all these things. But Crist's plan to fund them runs up against the maxim that better defines Florida's current budget forecast: When it rains, it pours.
    "Budgeting in tough times".

    The editors add this: "Last year's decision to spend $2.3 billion of the main reserve fund caused the state's credit rating to waver, increasing the amount the state will have to pay to borrow more money. (The state is already $26.4 billion in debt, and is projected to borrow $10.2 million more over the next 10 years.) And projected interest rates are already climbing."
    According to the Division of Bond Finance, Florida can expect its bond payments to increase to $2.4 billion by 2015 -- a 20 percent increase. That's assuming the state doesn't continue the land-preservation program, and that demand for new schools will continue to decline.

    If the Legislature follows Crist's recommendations -- and doesn't find additional revenue sources -- Florida's debt, and the interest it pays, could grow even more precipitously, consuming money that could otherwise have been spent on schools, roads, public safety and other state priorities.
    "What about Florida's growing debt?".

    Brogan shows "courage"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It is encouraging to see a state leader with the courage to offer an intelligent, if challenging, strategy for revitalizing the state's economy. Florida University System Chancellor Frank Brogan wants Florida to gradually double its annual investment in the state university system." "Brogan offers strategy to remake our economy".

    Troxler calls bullsh**

    Howard Troxler: "As you might recall, the public just won historic victories against Florida's two biggest electric companies."

    Progress Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light came in asking for something like $1.5 billion in annual rate increases. They lost.

    Now, amazingly, here is the reaction of the Florida Legislature:

    The Legislature is threatening the job of the public's lawyer who won the rate cases, Public Counsel J.R. Kelly.

    In an unprecedented move, the Legislature has reopened interviews for Kelly's job while he still holds it.

    Make no mistake — this is a new trick. Never, under the state's venerable old public counsel, Jack Shreve, did the Legislature dare such a thing.

    Laughably, the Legislature claims this is just a sudden burst of good government.

    I have a two-syllable reply, and the first syllable refers to the male version of a cow.
    "I have a two-syllable reply, and the first syllable refers to the male version of a cow."
    At the least, this is a thuggish attempt to warn Kelly not to fight so hard for the public.

    At the worst, they really mean to fire him. All it would take is a flick of a wrist from an obscure committee.

    The control of this committee alternates between the Senate and the House. This is the Senate's year.

    The president of the Senate, Jeff Atwater, is in charge. This is his doing.
    "Floridians should rise up against Legislature's attack on public counsel".

    Class size

    Mike Thomas "argued for the class-size amendment when it went on the ballot in 2002 and have defended it against Jeb Bush's diabolical plots ever since." "Be reasonable, not literal, on class size".

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Make belated class-size fix".

    "Unless you look at history"

    Bill Cotterell asks whether, "if Crist's polls and political handlers say he'll lose on Aug. 24, would Crist file as an independent — skipping the primary and saving his cash (now $7.5 million on hand) for November, when his odds are better in a three-way race?"


    another Rubio-as-giant-killer scenario has Crist running for four more years as governor, with Attorney General Bill McCollum and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp keeping their current jobs. Sayers of sooth see this as a way for Crist to reunite the Republican Party and, in 2012, maybe have Sen. Rubio's support in a race against Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat — leaving Kottkamp the Governor's Mansion and a two-year head start on keeping it.
    Cotterell dismisses such talk because, as we all know, Florida politics is predictable: "Front-runners win, long shots lose and things stick pretty much to the script."

    That is, unless you look at history. We excerpt a few examples from his column, but you really must go and read the entire thing for yourself:
    - [In] 1970, when the U.S. Senate rejected Judge G. Harrold Carswell's appointment to the Supreme Court and then-Gov. Claude Kirk got him to run for the Senate. Congressman Bill Cramer was the GOP establishment choice that year, just as Crist is now, and he beat Carswell. But he lost the general to an obscure state senator, Lawton Chiles, who'd beaten an ex-governor — while an equally unknown Reubin Askew overtook an incumbent attorney general for the Democratic nomination and then beat Kirk.

    - 1978 was just an anomaly, as an obscure state Sen. Bob Graham beat a two-term attorney general to succeed Askew. And 1980 was the exception that tests the rule, with a U.S. senator losing the Democratic primary to a Cabinet officer who then lost to a Republican.

    - 1986 was just a fluke, when everybody knew Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter and Attorney General Jim Smith would slug it out for governor. Except, they both dropped out. Smith dropped back in, joining Senate President Harry Johnston's ticket for lieutenant governor, but they wound up running against each other and cancelling each other out.

    - [W]e should have foreseen how Smith, losing a Democratic runoff, would become Republican Gov. Bob Martinez's co-chief of staff[*]. Then, when Democrat George Firestone resigned — as, of course, everyone expected when they'd re-elected him a few months earlier — Smith was named secretary of state.

    - [M]aybe we shouldn't have been surprised when Chiles started running for re-election to the Senate in 1988, quit, so then Askew ran for a while and quit. Then-congressman Buddy MacKay lost the Senate race that year to Connie Mack but — of course! — Chiles and MacKay were back 15 months later, teaming up for governor and lieutenant governor.

    - Smith got Jeb Bush into a runoff for the GOP nomination for governor in 1994 and then dropped out, later becoming a stand-in nominee for agriculture commissioner. Having been attorney general as a Democrat and secretary of state as a Republican and losing bids for governor in both parties, he had to run for the ag job.

    - Jeb Bush led by wide margins in all the 1994 polls, so Chiles was re-elected, assuring us that "the he-coon walks just before the light of day," whatever that means.

    - In 1998, then-Secretary of Agriculture Bob Crawford remained a Democrat but endorsed Bush for governor and went on to take Bush's place on the elections canvassing commission that certified the 2000 presidential election.
    Much more here: "Bill Cotterell: Expect anything in Florida politics".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *Strange how Cotterell, and the The Tallahassee Democrat generally, continue to give Mr. Smith a pass for his past conduct (see e.g., "The problem with Florida's traditional media"). Recall Mr. Smith's dishonorable behavior when he ran in the Dem primary against one Steve Pajcic two decades ago. Pajcic was a kid from Jax who went to Princeton, where he played basketball and managed to graduate magna cum laude, after which he attended Harvard Law School and graduated with honors. Not bad for a public school kid who attended Jacksonville public schools.

    In 1974, Pajcic was elected to the first of six terms to the Florida House of Representatives, where he showed particular interest in educational issues and actually worked on crazy things like farmworker rights.

    Wikipedia tells the rest of the story:
    In 1986 he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida. In the primary election Pajcic slightly led the second-place finisher, state Attorney General Jim Smith; but, as neither had received 50%, per Florida law, a runoff primary was held. During the brief campaign before the run-off, Smith's rhetoric was seen by many as unprecedented in its vitriol for an intraparty contest.
    If Smith's vitriolic rhetoric weren't enough, he dishonored himself forever in the eyes of many Floridians, with this:
    [I]n a televised debate, the candidates were asked if, should they fail to win the nomination, would they endorse their runoff opponent in the general election against the Republican nominee. Both Smith and Pajcic answered in the affirmative. However, when Pajcic emerged victorious, Smith evaded the issue of an endorsement for several days [something about riding his tractor around his panhandle farm].
    "Eventually, Smith came out and openly endorsed the Republican candidate, Tampa mayor Bob Martinez. This split in Democratic ranks was a major contributor to the election of Martinez as only the second Republican governor in Florida history, as even Martinez himself acknowledged in later years."

    Smith has since cashed in on his dishonorable behavior as a "lobbyist"; and RPOFers in the Legislature have been paying him back for his back-stabbing (via access purchased and sold in the form of "lobbying") ever since.

    "GOP fundraiser's hefty pay"

    Why is this man smiling? See "Florida GOP fundraiser's hefty pay riles donors".

    "Long on hope and somewhat short on reality"

    The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Optimism is one thing; a realistic state budget apparently is something else. But that's where state lawmakers are now that Gov. Charlie Crist has put forth a $69.2 billion budget plan that is long on hope and somewhat short on reality." "Governor's budget leaves much to be desired".

    Private colleges

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: Painful choices await state legislators as they prepare to go Lizzie Borden on a budget that'll require lots of whacks to resolve what could be a $3 billion deficit. Gov. Charlie Crist isn't much help, putting off tough decisions until later (when he's no longer governor).

    The editors find it "hard to generate a lot of sympathy when the recently departed president of Nova Southeastern University raked in salary and benefits totaling $1.2 million in 2008. Or when it's unclear whether private schools are resorting to belt-tightening measures such as job or salary freezes, layoffs, furloughs, or employee benefit reductions."

    We cringe at cuts to education. But the state needs to make responsible cuts. Difficult cuts. One way to accomplish that is to continue helping private college students — but only those who truly need the help.
    "Serve those who need".

    "Massive unemployment-tax hikes"

    "The race is on to head off massive unemployment-tax hikes that threaten most Florida businesses at the end of April." "Unemployment-tax hikes may be delayed".

    Rubio scores "an easy victory"

    "Former House Speaker Marco Rubio scored an easy victory over Gov. Charlie Crist in a straw ballot of Big Bend Republicans on Wednesday."

    Crist shrugged off the 71-15 vote by the Capital City Republican Club. The secret vote was at least the 17th straight win Rubio has taken among county Republican Executive Committees, party clubs and other grassroots organizations.
    "Rubio wins Big Bend GOP straw poll".

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