Steve Bousquet: "Thanks, Jeb Bush."
And thanks, Dubya and Karl Rove, too, for planting the seeds of this wildly chaotic political year more than seven years ago. You really left a mark.Bousquet concludes:
The first domino fell in the spring of 2003, when news stories surfaced that the Bush White House was gently pressuring Mel Martinez to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004. ...
Let's try to enumerate the many ways this year in Florida politics is truly like no other.
If Crist and Sink win, the Republican Party would be abruptly shut out of control of the state's most powerful offices at a time when its former chairman is facing possible prison time for alleged misdeeds. That would represent a spectacular collapse of the GOP less than 15 years after rising to dominance in the Sunshine State."2010 — an election year that could alter the Florida political landscape".
That would be unprecedented — but in this totally unpredictable political year, not surprising.
Unemployment down slightly
"State unemployment rate falls to 11.4 percent, but rises in South Florida". See also "Fla. jobless rate trending down; Leon County unemployment rate up from May".
"Arrogant abuse of power by the Legislature"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "A Florida trial court has checked the arrogant abuse of power by the Legislature when it stuck a jumbled constitutional amendment on the November ballot to protect lawmakers’ own interests. Now, hopefully, Amendment 7 will stay off the ballot and attention will be focused on two legitimate redistricting amendments." "Fair districts, not self-interest".
Teabagger raising big bucks against Klein
"In Broward, Allen West -- a black Republican and retired army lieutenant colonel -- raised more than $1.4 million between April 1 and June 30, nearly triple the haul of about $510,000 by the incumbent, Democratic Rep. Ron Klein."
In his second quest to unseat Klein, who represents a swing district in Broward and Palm Beach counties, West beat his own fundraising record this quarter: Last quarter he raised $840,000. West has now raised about $3.5 million while Klein has raised about $2.4 million."Congressional candidates aggressively raising funds".
But thanks to leftover money from a previous election cycle, Klein is ahead in cash on hand with $2.9 million to West's war chest of almost $2.2 million.
Klein benefited from a wave of anger at President George W. Bush and the war when he ousted longtime Republican Rep. Clay Shaw in 2006. Klein easily beat West two years later, but this time West has attracted national media attention and more money as he has tapped into the anger of the Tea Party and voters' frustration with the economy.
As the Palm Beach Post's Randy Schultz recently pointed out, the tea is squirting outa Mr. West's ears:
Last year, Col. West gave a stemwinding speech in which he urged people to "fix bayonets" and "take back the country." It was a YouTube sensation, and brought in lots of donations. Col. West referred to the "tyranny" of the Obama administration. So we wanted to know what he considers examples of "tyranny.""It's democracy, not tyranny".
As it turns out, "tyranny" to Col. West means President Obama's criticism of the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address. It means extracting $20 billion from BP upfront to compensate victims of the company's negligence. It means the stimulus package, the financial bailout and the health care bill.
Tyranny? Elected representatives cast those votes. Most of those representatives will go before the voters and have to defend their records. Those who believe that parts of the health care law are unconstitutional will get to make their case in court. That's democracy, not tyranny. In a democracy, sometimes your side loses.
Entrepreneurs in action
"Arrests made in $251M Medicare scams". See also "'Grandparent scam' still active in South Florida" and "Two Florida men charged with running commodities scheme".
RPOFer oil-hos at work
"Fearing a major victory for Gov, Charlie Crist, Florida Republican leaders are prepared to take drastic action next week -- even blocking a historic vote on a constitutional amendment banning offshore oil drilling. Legislators are expected to reluctantly convene a special session Tuesday called by the governor, then swiftly reject a plan that could drive his supporters to the polls." "Florida GOP leaders may block vote on drilling". More: "House may have votes to put a amendment on ballot banning oil drilling". Related: "Not all lawmakers focused on drilling ban", "Does shut down of drilling amendment next week shield GOP from exposing its rift?" and "Thrasher denies 'quid pro quo' in blocking a vote on oil amendment".
Even the Tampa Trib is unhappy: "Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul calls Gov. Charlie Crist's push for a voter referendum to ban near-shore oil drilling "smoke and mirrors" and suggests that he won't even have House members vote on the measure during the special session that begins Tuesday. But if there is anybody using smoke and mirrors, it's Cretul and the other legislative leaders who call Crist's proposal a waste of time." "Blocking Florida's coastal protections".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Scientists late Friday were still testing the new cap BP placed over its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico. But this week, at least for a moment, anxious residents across the oil-ravaged Gulf Coast states were able to relish a welcome sight. For the first time in the nearly 90 days since the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, the nation was not standing by helplessly as up to 2.5 million gallons of oil a day spewed into the gulf." "At last, good news from the gulf".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Feds: Test Results From Capped Well Not As Good As Hoped", "The eye of the oil spill: Major cleanup and legislative issues remain.". See also "BP: No evidence of new leaks in capped well" and "BP capped well holding as waiting period ticks by; robots discover no new leaks".
Yeah ... "Jeb!"'s teacher hating was a real success
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum announced his education platform Friday,"
saying he wants to make it easier to fire teachers by eliminating tenure and base their pay raises on classroom performance instead of seniority."McCollum's education proposal would remove tenure". See also and "McCollum's education proposal removes tenure, makes teachers easier to fire".
McCollum would also increase standards for teachers in the state's voluntary pre-kindergarten program for 4 year olds, expand a program that gives corporations tax breaks for providing private school scholarships for low-income students and require most high school students to take at least one course online. ...
McCollum largely embraces the educational philosophies of former Gov. Jeb Bush, with merit pay for teachers a key element.
New wingnuts on the block
The wingnuts who have taken over the News-Journal are starting to find their voice: "State doesn't need double drilling ban".
As Pierre Tristam reminds us, the Daytona Beach News-Journal in April of 2010 underwent a "transformation into Fox News in print". That was the day the editorial pages died in central Florida.
"Mass transit may be Iorio's legacy".
"More than 1 million people in Florida are out of work. The oil spill is wreaking environmental and economic havoc. The state is one hurricane away from catastrophe. But anyone listening to Republican gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott and Bill McCollum would think that one of the most pressing concerns in this non-border state is illegal immigrants scaling palm trees and jumping over hibiscus bushes." "Candidate Rick Scott's focus seems fixed -- on Arizona".
"So far, Scott's 13-week introduction to voters has unveiled only paper-thin details on how he would create jobs. Scott, who would not comment for this story, announced Friday that he was planning to roll out more specifics in a six-day statewide bus tour beginning in Miami next week." "Rick Scott talks about himself — but not his policies".
Kosmas, Grayson laffing to the bank
"National discontent with Congress hasn't translated into dollars for Republican candidates looking to unseat Central Florida's two freshman Democrats."
Through the end of June, the seven Republicans facing U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando have cash-on-hand that totals just about half the $1.4 million stockpiled by the firebrand lawmaker, according to federal election records. In the neighboring seat held by U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas of New Smyrna Beach, her advantage over her three top GOP rivals stands at more than a half-million dollars."GOP congressional candidates' fundraising falters".
"Tea Party Leader Mark Williams Removes Racist Blog Post".
RPOFers "dig into the wallets of lobbyists and big-givers"
Aaron Deslatte: "With a special session looming, the House Republican big dogs have returned to the capital city to dig into the wallets of lobbyists and big-givers."
Although House leaders have balked at Gov. Charlie Crist's call to adopt a constitutional ban on near-shore oil drilling in a special session that starts Tuesday, they're not letting a mid-summer opportunity go to waste."In 2008, Barack Obama won a majority of the votes in 17 current House districts held by Republicans. But there are only a handful in Central and South Florida where Democrats have any hope of being competitive."
House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and his two planned successors – Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary — raised cash for House races this week at the private Governor's Club near the Capitol.
On Monday, they'll be back at it, collecting checks for Reps. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange; Steve Precourt, R-Orlando; Doug Holder, R-Sarasota; and Rob Schenck, R-Springhill.
The trend isn't unique to this election. But it helps explain why the Republican-controlled Legislature is going to great lengths to scuttle the Fair Districts Florida redistricting amendments."In legislative races, Republican money offsets Democratic registration gains".
In the last six months, the Legislature had spent more than $650,000 on lawyers to fight Amendments 5 and 6 as well as defending the now-scrapped Amendment 7, which a Leon County judge removed from the ballot this month because he said it didn't make clear it would undermine the existing rule that legislative districts be drawn "contiguously." That cost is expected to grow as the legal fights work their way to the Florida Supreme Court later this summer.
The Miami Herald editorial board's endorsements in the HD 112 Dem primary and RPOF primary, HD 109 Dem primary (no RPOF primary), and the
"You're wrong," Holly
"A lawsuit challenging the federal health care legislation provoked the most conflict during a forum Friday for Florida's attorney general candidates."
Republican candidates Holly Bensen and Jeff Kottkamp pledged to continue the lawsuit filed by current Attorney General Bill McCollum against the federal government. ..."Attorney general candidates debate whether health care is a right or a privilege".
The legislation, she said, is unconstitutional.
"You're wrong," Democratic candidate Dan Gelber told Benson. It's a "moral stain," he said, that 4 million Floridians don't have health care coverage.
"Health care should be a right, not a privilege," he argued.
And the legislation doesn't violate the commerce clause, he said, noting that workers now give up a portion of their paychecks to Medicare.
"It's a frivolous lawsuit politicizing the Attorney General's Office, and the moment I am attorney general, I will recede from it," he said. "We need to provide health care to people in Florida, and that's that."
Democratic candidate Dave Aronberg agreed, and said Florida's attorney general used to put more emphasis on consumer protection, such as suing tobacco companies and businesses that sold flawed tires. "If we don't de-politicize this office, it will continue to be used as a plaything for partisan politics by people who want to run for the next office," Aronberg said.
"Scott and McCollum want to make you losers"
Stephen Goldstein: "The two Republican wannabes for this state's governor wanna deprive Floridians of the benefits people are already getting, or will soon get, from federal health care reform. Republicans have mastered the art of getting Americans to vote against their own self-interest, while fleecing them."
Rick Scott boasts that he "led the fight to defeat President [Barack] Obama's government-run public opinion" and "supports a state constitutional amendment . . . that prohibits the federal government from imposing President Obama's individual mandate." He claims to be for "free market principles" in healthcare. Natch! He made mega-millions as CEO of Columbia/HCA, which got caught using "free market principles" to defraud Medicare and Medicaid of gazillions and had to pay the biggest fine in U.S. history — $1.7 billion."Republican candidates for governor running against health care reform".
Bill McCollum boasts that he's "filed and leads a lawsuit joined by 19 other states ... to have federal health care reform legislation declared unconstitutional." In other words, as Florida's attorney general, McCollum is using your taxpayer dollars to sue the federal government — so you'll lose your benefits.
Scott and McCollum want to make you losers.
For a good laff, read Kingsley - I wish I had gone to law school - Guy's "ObamaCare oversteps boundaries, and states are right to challenge it".
A right-wing look at 25 U.S. House races
Kevin Derby, at the right-wing Sunshine State News, takes a "look at the battle for Florida's 25 U.S. House seats", "Congressional Cash and More":
- CD 1: Jeff Miller Looks Headed for Another Term.
- CD 2: Allen Boyd Retains Massive Financial Advantage Over Crowd of Foes.
- CD 3: Challengers Lack Cash on Hand to Take on Corrine Brown.
- CD 4: Ander Crenshaw Looks Like a Lock.
- CD 5: Republican Rick Nugent Starts Strong for Open Seat.
- CD 6: Cliff Stearns has $2.6 Million Advantage Over Field.
- CD 7: John Mica the Favorite, but Heather Beaven's Fighting.
- CD 8: Some GOP Fund-Raising Success, but Nothing Like Alan Grayson’s $3.5 Million.
- CD 9: Democrats a Weak Threat to Gus Bilirakis.
- CD 10: Charlie Justice Struggles to Keep Up with Bill Young.
- CD 11: Kathy Castor Appears in Good Shape but Keep an Eye on Mike Prendergast.
- CD 12: Republican Dennis Ross Leads Pack for Open Seat.
- CD 13: Vern Buchanan Lapping the Field on Money.
- CD 14: Connie Mack Looks Headed Back to Washington.
- CD 15: Bill Posey Appears to be in Great Shape.
- CD 16: Tom Rooney Heavy Favorite for Re-Election.
- CD 17: Field of Officeholders Trails Rudy Moise in Money.
- CD 18: Looks Like Two More Years for Ros-Lehtinen.
- CD 19: Still Recovering from Special Election, But Deutch Looks Safe.
- CD 20: Wasserman-Schultz Enjoys Big Money Advantage.
- CD 21: 'Super Mario' Only Player in the Game.
- CD 22: Allen West Looks to Knock off Ron Klein.
- CD 23: Hastings Looks Favored to Win in November.
- CD 24: With $1.2 Million War Chest, Kosmas Awaits GOP Challenger.
- CD 25: Rivera and Garcia Look to Battle for Open Seat.
"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." "Races for Senate and governor aren't politics as usual".
"The prospects are dim"
"A newly formed coalition of alternative energy advocates is calling on the Florida legislature to act on several proposals during the upcoming special session, but lawmakers have said that action next week appears unlikely." "Solar advocates push legislature to address renewable energy next week, but the prospects are dim".
Florida labor leaders are scrambling
"As the United States Senate stands poised to vote to approve an extension of federal unemployment benefits next Tuesday,"
labor leaders in Florida are scrambling to persuade the Florida legislature to fix a section of state law that will prevent Floridians from receiving a portion of those funds once they pass. But the office of state Speaker of the House Larry Cretul says lawmakers are “unlikely” to address the problem during next week’s special session, leaving thousands of Floridians without access to the federal lifeline."Florida House Speaker’s office: Special session ‘unlikely’ to address unemployment extension fix".
"Florida Democrats gathered for a weekend fundraising pep rally Friday, confident they can cash in on Republican troubles by reigniting some of the grass-roots enthusiasm President Obama stirred two years ago." "Florida Democrats confident they can reignite grass-roots enthusiasm of two years ago".
"You don't get that joke?"
Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill walk into a bar. Kant orders one beer and declares: 'Everybody should drink like me.' Replies Mill: 'A round for everybody!' What? You don't get that joke? The way everybody in Palm Beach County is gabbing about ethics these days, I figured the county is full of experts on moral philosophy." "A sudden attack of ethics: Were McCarty, Newell treated unfairly?".
"Plenty of drama as Election Day draws near"
"The race to succeed U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, a five-term Republican running for state agriculture commissioner, has been sleepy so far, without the aggressive fundraising and campaigning of other competitive Florida congressional districts. But the district will likely see plenty of drama as Election Day draws near."
Three front-runners — a Republican, a Democrat and a tea party candidate — are vying to represent the sprawling, heavily agricultural region, which runs from southern Hillsborough County to the outskirts of Orlando."Tea party could be pivotal in three-way contest to replace U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam".
The contest could hinge on whether Randy Wilkinson, running under the tea party banner, splits the Republican vote with GOP front-runner Dennis Ross, allowing Democratic favorite Lori Edwards or perhaps 2008 Democratic nominee Doug Tudor to pull out a victory.
What's wrong with Hillsborough?
"Hearing set for lawsuit on Dingfelder's candidacy".
Crist still on top
" Crist raised $1.8 million for his independent U.S. Senate campaign in the past three months, trailing Republican Marco Rubio but conserving millions of dollars more for the last few months of the campaign. Rubio reported a monster-sized $4.5 million haul earlier this week -- replacing Crist as Florida's fundraising champ. Still, Crist's latest donations were up from the $1.1 million he collected in the previous three months before he ditched the Republican Party." "Charlie Crist leads in money race for U.S. Senate". See also "Crist's fundraising is down in 2nd quarter".