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 Sunday, June 20, 2010

McCollum wants some of that "welfare for politicians"

    "Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum says Florida faces such severe budget shortfalls that everybody needs to cut back."
    But even as the attorney general touts his plan to freeze tax rates for local governments, he won't forgo hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for his campaign.

    "There's going to be a $6 billion shortfall -- or more with the oil spill -- in state government alone,'' McCollum said in a Tampa Bay area TV interview.

    "I want to ask everybody to pull in that belt. Am I going to take some taxpayer-matching funds? Yes I am, because I've got an opponent now who's a multi, multimillionaire,'' McCollum said. "He's spending unlimited wealth and I'm going to have maybe $6 or $7 million to spend.''
    Scott responds:
    "After 30 years on the government payroll, Bill McCollum cannot find enough Floridians who are enthusiastic about his candidacy, ideas and vision to finance a statewide campaign,'' said Jen Baker, spokeswoman for the Rick Scott campaign. "Now he is asking taxpayers to bankroll his inept campaign out of some entitlement to hold onto power.''
    But Billy is not completely without support:
    McCollum is also taking heat for two semi-mysterious and supposedly independent political committees, the Alliance for America's Future and the Florida First Initiative, which have spent about $2 million on TV ads attacking Scott. Though McCollum has solicited contributions for their efforts, his campaign fundraiser is raising money for one of them, and his TV buyer is buying their TV time, McCollum says he does not know much about them.

    "We don't run them, we don't maintain them, they're not my organizations,'' the attorney general said. "We're not violating the law, and any way we can encourage compliance with it, it will be done.''

    "Bill McCollum is either lying or has a split personality,'' Baker said, scoffing at his suggestion that his campaign is unaware of what Florida First Initiative is up to.
    "McCollum says he'll use taxpayer funds to compete with Scott".

    Aaron Deslatte: "Florida Republicans for years have lambasted the state's public campaign-finance system, enacted to level the playing field for state candidates,"
    labeling it "welfare for politicians."

    But that system – which took effect in 1987 -- might be the only thing that keeps the once-frontrunning GOP candidate Attorney General Bill McCollum from getting nuked out of the governor's race.
    "McCollum counting on 'welfare of politicians'".

    Unclean hands

    Randy Schultz: "Some politicians come to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster with, pardon the expression, clean hands. You will not be surprised to know that most don't. You also will not be surprised to know that those who don't want to wash that record away."

    Return with us to 2008, when Republicans were chanting "Drill, baby, drill!" at the party's convention to nominate John McCain and Sarah Palin. ...

    Mr. Obama has his own timing problem. About a month before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, he called for more offshore drilling, because Republicans in the Senate wouldn't support an energy bill designed to combat global warming unless it allowed more domestic drilling. ...

    Then there's Gov. Crist. Until mid-2008, when his name popped up on Sen. McCain's short list to complete the ticket, the governor - like most leading politicians in Florida, regardless of party - opposed oil drilling closer to the coast than the 125-mile barrier Congress created in 2006.

    As soon as Sen. McCain backed more drilling, however, so did Gov. Crist. ...

    Finally, there's George LeMieux, whom Gov. Crist appointed to fill the Senate seat that the governor once expected to win easily. He's bashing the Obama administration on the drilling response. Sen. LeMieux would like Floridians to forget that in 2009 he was a paid advisor to the group seeking to lift the state drilling ban.

    So let's end with the two people who do have clean hands: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater, a Republican.
    "Dish soap won't clean politicians' oil-smudged fingerprints".

    Raw sewage

    "Raw sewage closes Biscayne Bay to swimmers".

    RPOFer echo chamber

    "If the rest of Florida sounded like the crowds huddled at the state Republican Party quarterly business meeting, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum wouldn't be facing a potential primary defeat to a health-care millionaire waging his first race for public office."

    Around the Hyatt Tampa Bay, signs adorned the halls that read "Bush would vote for Bill McCollum." Longtime political allies spoke well of the man from Longwood who spent two decades in Congress, who helped lead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and as Florida attorney general, launched a 20-state legal challenge to the federal health-care reform Congress passed.

    But every day seems to deliver more evidence that Naples GOP newcomer Rick Scott has cemented himself as the front-runner among politician-weary voters. The latest proof: A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll last week found Scott with a 35 percent-to-30 percent edge over McCollum, thanks to the $15 million campaign-ad splurge Scott personally bankrolled.
    "Governor's race: McCollum, Scott at GOP meeting". See also "Scott still a question mark for many Florida devoted Republicans".

    Steve Otto wonders how to
    explain the 44 percent to 31 percent in the poll of Florida Republicans? Do they dislike McCollum [who "has labored for years to reach the level of hack politician"], who has been endorsed by party golden boy and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, that much?

    You hesitate to bring in the dumbness factor, like the one that must have been at work last week in South Carolina when Democratic voters selected as their U.S. Senate candidate a man who is facing a felony charge, raised no money and was a complete unknown.

    More likely: Right now Scott is oozing along on the color of green as money once again proves to be at least as much a factor as character or anything else in Florida politics.
    "Green slick oozes across Florida".

    Howard Troxler warns Dems, however, that
    Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor, is as uninspiring as McCollum. She is lucky not to have a Scott in her own party primary. At this rate she might well end up facing Scott in November anyway — and unless she gets better campaign stuff, it will not go well for her.

    At least Gov. Charlie Crist, now running as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, is interesting: You never know what he'll do or say next. Also interesting is Marco Rubio, the Republican front-runner for the Senate.

    Which is the more interesting matchup vs. Sink in November — McCollum or Scott? Is the U.S. Senate race more interesting with Greene in there against Crist and Rubio, or with Meek?
    "The Rich New Guys vs. the Ho-Hum Insiders".

    "Two-front battle"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "You don't need statistics to know that Florida's homeowners are among the hardest hit by the one-two punch of the housing crash and Great Recession. Just tour the Tampa Bay area and count the 'Bank Foreclosure' signs. The state has hundreds of thousands of foreclosures pending and one of the nation's highest rates of homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Now government is simultaneously punishing some of those responsible and helping some homeowners struggling to hold on." "A two-front battle against mortgage meltdown".

    "Official Monster Raving Loony Party, USA"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Friday was a big day in elections circles, with candidates putting their qualifying fees on the table and locking in announcements made weeks ago of their intentions to run for public office."

    If ever there was a robust election season, this is it. Candidates are breaking out of the traditional two-party mold, going independent, going rogue as one might expect of, say, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, USA — a clique of dubious but colorful origins.

    Even those with traditional party affiliations must make fine distinctions. The Republican primary for Congress, for example, includes five candidates hoping to either unseat incumbent Allen Boyd, a Democrat, or take on Boyd challenger Al Lawson. The five, any one of whom could be nominated by as little as 21 percent of the vote since we have winner-take-all primaries in Florida, offer five interpretations of what it means to be a Republican in 2010.
    "Election season".

    "Unpredictable campaigns, predictable answers"

    Thomas Tryon: "Unpredictable campaigns, predictable answers from the campaigners."

    That's a seven-word summary of Thursday's seven-candidate, political marathon in Sarasota.

    For the first time, most of the major candidates running for governor and U.S. Senate were at the same venue.

    If politics were big-league baseball, it would have Opening Day: The candidates have been in training and engaging in exhibitions, but the campaign season went into full swing with the event and the end of the qualifying period on Friday.
    "Races for Senate and governor aren't politics as usual".

    "Florida dream-machine is on the brink of disaster"

    Stephen Goldstein writes that

    the Florida dream-machine is on the brink of disaster. Our consciousness has shifted from the headiness of Florida's East Coast to the West Coast and the environmental Armageddon in the Gulf. From the water's surface to its deepest depth, the seeds of likely devastation loom. And ultimately, whether our precious ecosystem is mildly scarred or miraculously spared, the days of our heady self-confidence are over — except for the most incorrigible Pollyannas.
    "Bad dreams: Florida and nation paying the price for hubris".

    Speaking of "incorrigible Pollyannas" ...

    ... Kingsley Guy writes that "Lower tax burden leaves Florida better off than other states".

    Whenever Florida starts to fall apart, all we have to do is demand help from the rest of the Nation (in the form of federal assistance). After all, "southern states have been benefiting from Northern taxes for years". I-got-miners like Guy "love to preach about fiscal responsibility and lower taxes, but they keep dipping their beak into the Federal trough. ... the applicable Southern phrase is 'a handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged.'"

    RPOFer laff riot

    "Eager to shed scandals of ousted chairman Jim Greer and distance themselves from renegade Gov. Charlie Crist, Florida Republicans started revising their rules in a show of openness Saturday and plotted strategy to capitalize on voter anger at politicians."

    "It's an exorcism," said Allison DeFoor, a Wakulla County state committeeman. "They're putting those guys behind them."

    Neither leader's name was mentioned often during the first quarterly State Executive Committee meeting since Greer's felony indictment on six charges, including grand theft and money laundering, and Crist's decision to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent.
    Check out this LeMieux's latest stand-up-routine:
    U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, formerly Crist's chief of staff, said he supports Rubio "because he has the courage of his convictions, who'll go up there to Washington and say no, who'll make hard decisions."

    But LeMieux said he didn't mean that as a slam at Crist, who appointed him to the Senate when Sen. Mel Martinez resigned last year.
    "Fla. GOP work at show of openness".

    Crossing the line

    "State Sen. Al Lawson angrily snatched a video camera from a young campaign worker for U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd on Saturday, complaining that the congressman 'crossed the line' in their Big Bend congressional campaign by invading his private political space." "Lawson confronts Boyd staffer who 'crossed the line'".


    "Sixty days into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the command structure for the response is getting an overhaul." "Response command structure changing".

    "Political sparks have been flying"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "In theory, the prestigious panel is insulated from improper pressure and politics, much like a judge. In practice, some of the political wires have been stripped bare by campaign contributions the utilities have made to loyal lawmakers. Political sparks have been flying." "Put 'public' back in Public Service Commission".

    "A welcome show of independence" from Sink

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board:

    Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink's support for easing the state's class size requirements for public schools is a welcome show of independence from the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. She also happens to be on the right side of the issue in supporting Amendment 8, the constitutional amendment placed on the November ballot by the Republican-led Legislature.
    "A sensible adjustment on class sizes".

    "The right call and a big relief"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The Supreme Court’s 8-0 ruling siding with the government over beachfront property owners in the Panhandle probably saved the state’s long-standing program that restores beaches and protects the shoreline from severe erosion. It was the right call and a big relief to the state’s $65 billion tourism industry." "A good day for the beaches".

    "A certain amount of gall"

    Howard Troxler: "It takes a certain amount of gall to run a company that systematically ripped off the U.S. government, the taxpayers and the sick and weak — and then to run for governor of Florida."

    "Riskier investment bets"

    "Chasing bigger investment returns, the agency that manages Florida's $113.8 billion public pension fund wants to make far riskier investment bets. The state wants to reduce the pension fund's holdings in publicly traded stocks and bonds and triple its allocation to hedge funds and other private investments that are less liquid and harder to value." "Florida rolls the dice with chunk of pension funds".

    Blood sports

    Fred Grimm writes that "Floridians imagine ourselves as residents of a modern, civilized state that would never condone redneck dog owners sending packs of baying hounds into fenced enclosures to chase and maul foxes or coyotes." "Blood sport doesn't belong in civil society".

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