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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 Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our "Do-Nothing Legislature"

    Aaron Deslatte: "Gov. Charlie Crist is fond of citing past presidents when he explains his own moves, and this week he called lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a special session that he knew would be as savory as a taste of turnip stew."
    GOP lawmakers lambasted the governor for using them as a prop in his independent U.S. Senate campaign. Democrats, including Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, and Crist feigned outrage that lawmakers would be so rude as to not place a constitutional ban on near-shore oil-drilling before voters this fall.

    The ensuing political theater gave almost everyone what they wanted. Except for voters, who appear to favor the idea of voting to ban oil drilling – already barred under state law -- come November.
    Be the first to know. Click here to get breaking news alerts.

    "Today, I'm calling this legislature the Do-Nothing Legislature. And I'm going to give them hell for it," Crist told reporters shortly after lawmakers adjourned the session in just over two hours.

    "To have the Legislature disrespect them so much and to thumb their noses at the people in this way is absolutely astonishing," the governor added.
    "'Do-Nothing Legislature' says 'Just wait'".

    Open mouth ...

    "Rick Scott's statewide bus tour stumbled Friday as he endured tough questions about the fraud at his former company and appeared to misstep on volatile questions from voters."

    The bumps in the road for the bus tour began the night before at a stop in the Villages, when someone asked what Scott would do as governor to keep Obama off the Florida ballot in 2012, suggesting he was born outside the country. Scott appeared surprised and responded, "I'll have to look into it.''

    Asked Friday whether he thought Obama was a citizen, he said, "I assume he is or he wouldn't be president.'' Moments later, a campaign spokeswoman clarified: "He's not a birther.''

    In Clearwater, Scott talked to Sean O'Flannery, a high school government teacher, about the difficulty of judging schools statewide, because what works in one place may not in another.

    "And also a school's color,'' Scott said. "If you're 70 percent African-American, you are going to deal with different issues.''

    McCollum's campaign and Democrats seized on this. A McCollum spokeswoman said his comments "suggest he believes minority students shouldn't be held'' to the same standards as others, an insinuation Scott adamantly rejected.
    "Scott hits some speed bumps on the trail".

    "Greene is fabulously wealthy"

    "Florida Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene is fabulously wealthy, that we know. But the depth and scope of the billionaire's fortune was revealed Friday when he filed his financial disclosure form, only a short while before the deadline. The 56-page document shows a dizzying and diverse array of investments, from real estate to stock and government bonds." "Extent of wealth emerging".

    Related: "Five years ago, the Summerwind, a three-story, 145-foot luxury yacht owned by Senate candidate Jeff Greene, dropped anchor and plunged into controversy over severe damage to a coral reef system officially recognized by the United Nations as one of the world's most irreplaceable treasures. " "No love in Belize for candidate".

    Amendment 3 goes down

    "A judge Friday removed from November's ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given an extra property tax break to some homeowners, saying its ballot title and summary are misleading. Tallahassee Circuit Judge John Cooper said Amendment 3's ballot language did not tell voters that the exemptions were available only on property bought on or after last Jan. 1. He said voters who bought property earlier might think they were eligible for the exemption." "Fla. judge takes property tax measure off ballot".

    Scott shatters Crist's record

    "Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott has shattered Gov. Charlie Crist's record for spending on a Florida election, reporting Friday that he burned through $22.6 million — almost all of it his own wealth — in his first three months as a candidate."

    It took Crist two years and hundreds of personal appeals to donors to raise and spend $19.8 million en route to winning the Governor's Mansion.

    Scott's $218 million in personal wealth has turned the tables on what had been a forgone Florida political conclusion: that longtime Republican stalwart and state Attorney General Bill McCollum would be the standard-bearer for the GOP in the fall elections.

    McCollum on Friday reported raising just more than $1 million in the last quarter, while he spent $4.3 million in a futile effort to keep pace with Scott.

    The veteran Florida politician's campaign is down to its last $540,000, though McCollum accepted $1.26 million in public funding this week.

    But with a double-digit deficit in the polls, he was already in trouble. Even that lifeline of public financing made available to match his own fundraising comes at a price: Halfway through Scott's six-day bus tour across the state, he has blistered McCollum as a career politician with his head at the taxpayer trough.
    "Republican Rick Scott's $22.6M smashes state campaign-spending record".

    McCollum, Scott's "deceptive pandering"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Attorney General Bill McCollum claims his opponent in the Republican primary for governor, health care executive Rick Scott, has plagiarized parts of his economic plan. But both men are rehashing the same tired and outdated plans for reviving Florida's economy. Their promise to cut corporate income taxes and property taxes — and still invest more in education to spur economic development — is deceptive pandering that even the Republican-led Legislature hasn't stooped to in recent years because it knew it couldn't deliver. Neither can McCollum or Scott." "Scott, McCollum offer plans that don't add up".


    Update: "Bonnie fizzling in the Gulf".

    Mark T. Brown, professor of Environmental Engineering Sciences and director of the Center for Environmental Policy at the University of Florida writes that "few have noted that BP, like Exxon and other oil companies implicated in past spills, will likely pay nothing for perhaps the most important consequence of its mishap: Damage to hard-to-quantify but essential natural benefits provided free of charge by a healthy Gulf of Mexico. " "The oil spill's hidden toll".

    See also "Tropical Depression Bonnie could draw oil up from the depths to form new slicks", "Some areas of the Gulf reopened" and "USF Scientists: Oil Plumes Below Gulf Surface Are From BP Spill". The Sun Sentinel editors: "Tropical system brings more uncertainty, worry to Gulf coast".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Technician: Deepwater Horizon alarm system purposely disabled".

    Charlie's Rothstein blues

    "Another year, another opportunity to raise money. That's Gov. Charlie Crist. Sadly, though, this year's birthday celebration won't include one of Crist's richest and most colorful pals who a) isn't rich anymore, and b) can't make it to the party. Yes, the governor turns 54 Saturday, and he and his wife, Carole, are using the occasion to beat the drum for more campaign cash. " "Birthday Boy Charlie Crist Needs $100,000: Scotty, Come Back ..." ("Call this party the 2nd anniversary of Rothstein's $52,000 'cake'").

    Cleaning up the Legislature's mess

    "Gov. Charlie Crist issued an executive order that allows Floridians who had exhausted 79 weeks of jobless benefits to be eligible for up to 20 more weeks." "Aid for the long-term jobless".

    "The starring role some thought was his destiny"

    "Night after night for two years, Rep. Kendrick Meek forcefully built a case that Democrats had a better vision for the country. The effort helped craft a message his party used in November 2006 to regain control of the House after 12 years of Republican rule."

    Now Meek is trying to make the argument for himself. He wants to jump from representing a Miami congressional district in the U.S. House to representing the state in the U.S. Senate.

    Those late-night speeches helped edge him in that direction. Most of America was asleep or getting its political fix from Jon Stewart, but Washington noticed.

    "It established his reputation as a fighter," said Rep. Adam Putnam, a Florida Republican.

    Nancy Pelosi, who became House speaker in the Democratic takeover, heralded Meek as emblematic of a wave of young leaders, and he quickly ascended the ranks, gaining a prestigious seat on the Ways and Means Committee.

    But Meek, 43, has never fully assumed the starring role some thought was his destiny.
    "Standing out in crowded U.S. House has been the challenge for would-be Senator Kendrick Meek".

    Meanwhile, "Black lawmakers are prodding the White House to get more involved in Florida Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek's campaign amid growing concern that less-than-robust backing from President Barack Obama will signal to Democrats that it’s all right to help independent Charlie Crist." "Obama support: Meek so far".

    False choice

    "Who's more likely to be the champion of the common man? A multimillionaire businessman or a politician who began more than two decades of public service in 1981?" "Multimillionaire Candidate May Have Less Disconnect than Career Politician".

    More Rubio teabaggery

    "Tying Gov. Charlie Crist to Democrats on Capitol Hill, Republican gubernatorial candidate Marco Rubio said Florida and America are 'paying the price for a lack of leadership.' ... And challenging backsliding Republicans to stand up for free-enterprise principles, the former Florida House speaker said, 'We don't need two Democratic parties.'" "Rubio Links Crist and Democratic Agenda".

    "Bits and Pieces"

    Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces".

    More entrepreneurs in action

    "Burned in Ponzi scheme, Nadel victims have their say".

    What goes around ...

    "A feud over Florida’s multi-million dollar anti-smoking ad campaign has been settled. St. John & Partners Advertising and Public Relations has withdrawn its legal challenge to a decision by the Department of Health to choose Coral Gables-based Alma DDB, a part of the large advertising firm DDB, to handle the contract. ... Alma DDB’s relationship with tobacco companies went beyond ties to its parent company. Additionally, one of the top executives at Alma DDB had listed on the company website that he once worked for British American Tobacco." "Fierce battle over state's anti-smoking ad contract ends quietly".

    Wingnuts run wild

    "A failed effort to fast-track Arizona-style immigration bills by state Rep. Kevin Ambler during this week’s special session has the legislator critical of his colleagues and House leadership."

    Ambler — who is also a candidate for the District 12 Florida Senate seat — voted against adjourning the special session called by Gov. Charlie Crist to discuss an amendment to ban offshore oil drilling, losing to a majority of House members who closed the session without a vote on drilling or any other issue.
    "State Rep. Ambler critical of Cretul over curtailed special session".

    "Great Recession paradox"

    "When Jeff Greene, a k a the Meltdown Mogul, recently brought his Democratic campaign for the United States Senate to a poor Miami neighborhood rife with the kinds of subprime mortgages that he became a billionaire betting against, did he: "

    A) Arrive in a Cadillac Escalade S.U.V., before stumping for energy conservation;

    B) Tell the crowd that he was “fed up and frustrated” with Washington while suggesting job-creation ideas previously proposed by Washington politicians;

    C) Receive a raucous welcome as an outsider who could turn Florida around.

    The answer? All of the above, of course.

    Call it the Great Recession paradox. Even as voters express outrage at the insider culture of big bailouts and bonuses, their search for political saviors has led them to this: a growing crowd of über-rich candidates, comfortable in boardrooms and country clubs, spending a fortune to remake themselves into populist insurgents.
    "More of the Rich Run as Populist Outsiders".


    "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) endorsed New York congressional candidate Chris Cox Wednesday. Cox is locked in a Republican primary in New York’s 1st Congressional District. Cox, who is largely self-funding his bid, is the son of New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox and the grandson of former President Richard Nixon." "Jeb Bush backs N.Y. Republican Chris Cox for Congress".

    Class size lawsuit

    "The Florida Education Association, the statewide union, has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of a proposed amendment on school class sizes. ... The complaint contends the amendment cannot be lawfully submitted to voters because the ballot summary is misleading." "Education union files suit against class-size amendment". See also "Teachers union files suit to take class-size amendment off ballot".

    FCAT Follies

    "State slaps an extra $11.7 million fine on contractor that missed FCAT deadlines".

    Fly me to Havana

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It's possible to go to Cuba, but it sure isn't easy."

    Travel restrictions, a relic of the Cold War confrontation with the communist island, tightly limit access. The policy is supposed to isolate Havana and encourage democratic reform.

    Rep. Kathy Castor is right that a more open approach may bring more success. The Tampa Democrat is so far the only member of Congress from Florida to support a bill to allow free travel to Cuba.

    Florida's influential Cuban-American lobby has long lobbied hard against any softening in policy. But the bill is getting broad support elsewhere, including backing from Republicans in 11 states.

    Opening travel is a good idea, we think, for many reasons. It would be economically beneficial to many states, including Florida and especially Tampa.
    "Let anyone fly to Cuba".

    CD 12

    "Jobs, government belt-tightening and alternative energy are top priorities for candidates seeking the District 12 Congressional seat."

    The district, which encompasses most of Polk County, a part of eastern Hillsborough County and a sliver of western Osceola County, is represented by Adam Putnam, a Republican, who is running for state agriculture commissioner.

    District 12 is a mix of suburban and rural areas, mostly occupied by a conservative base with a strong Republican presence.

    The race has five candidates: two Republicans, two Democrats and one from the Tea Party.
    "5 vie for District 12 seat in Congress".


    "More jobs, tax cuts key for three Republicans in House District 83 race".

    "Why would McCollum interfere"?

    Steve Bousquet: "Bill McCollum is in the fight of his life in a Republican primary for governor against Rick Scott, the guy with the checkbook on steroids."

    McCollum needs every last Republican vote he can find, especially in a big place like Hillsborough County.

    So why would McCollum interfere in a Republican primary for a Tampa state Senate seat and distort the record of one of the candidates, Rep. Kevin Ambler?

    He wouldn't, his campaign says, insisting that McCollum has done nothing of the kind.

    But it looks different to Ambler.

    See for yourself.
    "Best for Bill McCollum to disavow attacks on GOP senate candidate Kevin Ambler".

    The concert pianist agin' the attorney

    "Two political newcomers are vying to challenge Republican incumbent Gus Bilirakis in November for the District 9 congressional seat. Retired concert pianist Anita de Palma is running against attorney Phil Hindahl in the Aug. 24 Democratic primary. " "Rookie Dems vie in District 9".

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