"Candidates in the homestretch"
"Candidates in the homestretch of tumultuous races for governor and U.S. Senate fanned out Saturday across Florida, with once-vulnerable political insiders surging in the polls and mega-rich outsiders struggling to regain momentum before Tuesday's election."
In the Republican gubernatorial race, Attorney General Bill McCollum dredged up an old deposition to continue his tarring of opponent Rick Scott as a shady businessman. Scott, also campaigning in North Florida, dismissed the attack and countered that McCollum was in hock to special interests and ransacking state party coffers to keep his campaign afloat."In the Democratic Senate contest,"
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek rallied voters in Jacksonville and condemned a harsh new mailing in which rival Jeff Greene accuses him of "bland promises'' on Israel. Greene stood by the ad and touted his political independence in appearances before a heavily Jewish crowd at a Broward County diner and a Hispanic-oriented trade show in Kissimmee."Charges fly in the homestretch of tough Senate, governor's primary races". See also "Poll: McCollum, Meek have large leads", "Big-spending novices now lag in Florida campaigns", "AP: Florida Democratic Senate race is about spending money, time", "Bill McCollum, Kendrick Meek hold commanding leads in respective races" and "McCollum, Meek maintain substantial leads on primary challengers".
The latest polls show Greene and Scott slipping out of their front-runner spots after weeks of outgunning their opponents with explosive television spots and mailings. A Mason-Dixon poll released Saturday found McCollum now leads Scott 45 percent to 36 percent, while Meek has opened up a 12-point lead over Greene, 42 percent to 30 percent.
Teabagger wackos run wild
"Brigitte Gabriel, a prominent activist who says she’s fighting to keep the United States from being overrun by Islam, asked local tea party supporters to join her cause Saturday."
Gabriel, who frequently appears on Fox News, was the keynote speaker at the U.S. Constitution Freedom Rally at the Emerald Coast Conference Center. The event, sponsored by the Emerald Coast Tea Party, drew several hundred people, including local political candidates."Fox News regular lights up Tea Party rally: 'Terrorists are coming in droves'".
The controversial speaker, who has drawn criticism from Muslim groups, urged the crowd to "throw political correctness in the garbage." She urged them to speak out about the threat of radical Islam, which she says has become more emboldened during the Obama administration.
"The terrorists are coming in droves from all over the place," she said. ...
Gabriel asked visitors Saturday to join or donate to her organization, ACT! for America, a lobbying group that says its main goal is to keep Shariah law out of the courts.
Earlier this month, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked politicians to boycott the rally, calling ACT! for America an “anti-Islamic hate group.” During her speech, Gabriel accused CAIR of aiding terrorists and asked its representatives to debate her in Arabic.
"The best and hardest-hitting claims"
PolitiFact: "Florida's primary election day is finally here. We watched the mud fly for months, and we've worked hard to tell you who's throwing it and whether it sticks. Here are a few of the best and hardest-hitting claims by Jeff Greene, Kendrick Meek and Maurice Ferre in the Democratic U.S. Senate race, and by Bill McCollum and Rick Scott in the Republican governor's race. In the AG's race, we have highlights in the contested races for both parties: Democrats' Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber, and Republicans' Holly Benson, Pam Bondi and Jeff Kottkamp." "A primer on the primaries".
"Entertaining and depressing"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It's been entertaining and depressing, this primary election season. Billionaire Jeff Greene spiced up the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate amid reports of his exploitation of the housing collapse and wild parties on his yacht. Millionaire Rick Scott spent tens of millions of his own money on a blizzard of ads in the Republican primary for governor, but he cannot make voters forget his former hospital company paid a record fine for Medicare fraud. Voters head to the polls on Tuesday hungry for change, but frustration should not override sound judgment." "A wealth of shortcomings".
We don' need no stinkin' regulations
"Panhandle GOPers Like What Scott Is Saying".
Another Jebacy bites the dust
"Florida's bold plan to revamp its health care system for the poor -- and which was initially championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush -- could be in trouble."
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed state Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Tom Arnold in a letter this week that it would not extend the waiver that allowed the reform project to operate."Feds say no to extension of Medicaid reform waiver".
CMS said that the state cannot "extend" its waiver -- called a Medicaid 1115 waiver -- for three years because waiver extensions apply only to statewide programs. The Medicaid reform project is currently limited to five counties.
The decision could force the state to unravel its existing program or require state officials and Florida hospitals to follow new rules and conditions.
Meek ain't "most people"
Sean Daly: "Most people would flee Mr. Possum Pants". "Possum and primaries".
"Scott is going ballistic"
"Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott is going ballistic over the state Republican Party’s finances — particularly the funneling of nearly $4 million to help primary rival Bill McCollum with polling, field staff, phone banks and other expenses." "Scott attacks McCollum’s RPOF ‘piggybank’".
South Georgia blues
"The growth in no party affiliation has been strongest, as a percentage of registered voters, in four rural, north Florida counties - Calhoun, Columbia, Lafayette and Suwanee counties. Democrats have been leaving the party in this part of Florida for the past two decades and the trend continued over the past two years. The number of registered Democrats in these four counties dropped from 2008 while the number of NPAs and registered Republicans grew robustly." "Independents grow in Florida voter rolls".
Florida retains "status as a bottom dweller"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board writes that "the comparative performance of Florida students on the ACT isn't a good thing":
Florida occupies a spot near the bottom of the national rankings, with a statewide average composite score of 19.5. The national average for 2010 is 21.0. The state's composite score didn't budge this year, remaining at the 2009 total."Progress in Volusia; Florida scores still lag".
A lot of Florida high school students take the ACT (the state participation rate is 65 percent). But that doesn't excuse the state's status as a bottom dweller. In Louisiana, 98 percent of students were tested and the state did significantly better than Florida, with an average composite score of 20.1. Alabama's participation rate was 78 percent: the state's composite score was 20.3.
Teabaggers heart Beck
"Flagler County Tea Party President Tom"
Lawrence, 68, a retired chemical engineer, businessman and former Palm Coast councilman who lives in the city's gated Grand Haven community, said people are fed up with government."Tea party: Make an informed decision".
"They are just tired at a government that's hell-bent on destroying the private sector," Lawrence said. ...
Another tea party member is Jill Sommer of Palm Coast. ...
She dismisses any accusations of racism leveled against the tea party.
"Unfortunately, nowadays, everything appears to be racism to somebody," Sommer said. "It just depends on what side of the fence you are.
"I don't believe there's racism in this country," she said. "Oh, there are little pockets here and there. I don't think it's a major thing."
She said the Tea Party supports candidates who will be fiscally responsible and adhere to the Constitution.
She follows Glenn Beck's reading list.
"A lot of people call him crazy but you don't have to believe what he says," Sommer said. "You just have to go read the books he recommends. Because some things I find hard to believe but then you read the books and find out "Wow, he was right."
Scott - McCollum
"Few would argue that Florida's struggling economy, projected $6 billion state budget shortfall and record unemployment rate will demand strong action from the next governor. But what leadership style is best suited to solve those problems? A proven dealmaker who understands the nuances of state government and can work with the Legislature? Or a political outsider who views state government with a CEO's scrutiny and is not afraid to question sacred cows such as benefits paid to public employees?" "McCollum and Scott offer contrasting styles". See also "Rick Scott: Get to work as Florida governor or go home to Naples?" "Bill McCollum: Career politician’s last hurrah or governor Florida needs?".
Randy Schultz: "The Legislature blundered by rushing a merit pay bill for teachers without consulting the people whom the bill would affect. Florida politicians are rushing the immigration bill the same way. Advice is something they need to have time for." "State's police, sheriff's deputies already walk immigration beat".
"Entertained but queasy"
"Scott Maxwell, Mike Thomas: Candidates leave us entertained but queasy".
"Nauseatingly pleasant ... country club Republicans"
Fred Grimm: "Imagine the perplexity of those nice retirees from the polite Midwest this week, ambling along the fairways at the Naples National Golf Club, wondering how the rude and inscrutable politics of Miami had come to be their politics. ... Suddenly, these nauseatingly pleasant, unfailingly civil, Ohio-style country club Republicans must sort through plots, charges, cover-ups, lies and conspiracy theories swirling around the Miami politician who also happens to be their leading Republican congressional candidate."
Voters in Miami-Dade County, of course, know the contenders for the congressional seat in Florida's 25th District, where State Rep. David M. Rivera has been fending off claims that he was the David M. Rivera accused back in 1994 of domestic violence. The controversy entails convoluted explanations and evolving recollections and, of course, charges on Spanish-language radio that the allegations were hatched by Castro sympathizers."Grimm: Miami politics don't belong in Collier County".
Miamians are unfazed, but retirees in West Florida towns like Golden Gate must be flummoxed. Back in Milwaukee or Madison, Fidel Castro was rarely a factor in local elections.
Fishermen in Everglades City and farm laborers in Immokalee -- their precincts little more than unwieldy appendages stuck onto the not-very-contiguous 25th District -- must also be thinking that they've been misplaced.
They have. They don't belong. They were tossed into the 25th as afterthoughts (if computers can have afterthoughts) to round out the numbers in a Miami congressional district. The 25th is just another of Florida's many misshapen congressional and legislative districts assembled by a computer program after the 2000 Census for the sole purpose of creating safe seats for the ruling party. Which had the perverse effect of creating fewer, but equally safe seats for the minority party.
PolitiFact Florida reports that in the last six general elections, incumbents have been voted out of the 160-member Legislature only 15 times. Elections, for incumbents, have become formalities. And voters mere pawns.