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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, August 15, 2010

Latest polls and analysis

    Two new polls to report: the just released Aug. 6-10 by Ipsos Public Affairs poll, and a Aug. 9-11 Mason-Dixon poll released earlier in the week.

    According to the just released Ipsos Public Affairs poll: "Florida voters are in the dumps, deeply pessimistic about the state's direction and not particularly impressed with any U.S. Senate candidate."
    Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene is barely leading Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary, according to a new poll -- and both look headed for defeat in the Nov. 2 general election.

    In an election year already defined by surprises and shake-ups, The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9/Central Florida News 13 poll underscores the unpredictable Florida electorate. In the homestretch before the Aug. 24 primary, nearly one-third of Democrats have not made up their minds between Greene and Meek.

    Looking ahead to Nov. 2 with Greene as the Democrat, voters only barely favor independent candidate Charlie Crist over Republican Marco Rubio, 32 percent to 30 percent, within the poll's margin of error. Greene trails at 19 percent.

    If Meek wins the Democratic nomination, the picture looks slightly better for Crist. He beats Rubio 33 percent to 29 percent, while Meek gets 17 percent.

    But in a potentially major advantage for Rubio, the poll of registered voters found that three-quarters of Republicans said they were certain to go the polls, while less than half of Democrats said they were a sure bet. The stronger motivation among Republican voters reflects polls nationwide and has boosted the party's hopes of taking back Congress in November.
    "In Florida Senate race, voters unimpressed, undecided" ("The telephone survey of 602 registered voters was conducted Aug. 6-10 by Ipsos Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonpartisan research company. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points overall, 6.4 percentage points for questions based only on Democrats and 5.9 for those based only on Republicans.")

    For more detail of the entire Ipsos Public Affairs poll, see this slide show of the poll results.

    However, the "Aug. 9-11 Mason-Dixon poll showed markedly different results. Among likely Democratic primary voters, Meek was crushing Greene, 40 percent to 26 percent. For the general election, the poll showed Rubio leading with 38 percent, compared to 33 percent for Crist and 18 percent for Meek. It had a margin of error of plus or minus four percent." "Voters undecided and annoyed".

    More on the Mason Dixon poll: "McCollum takes lead in GOP poll", "New Senate poll shows Crist in trouble as Rubio surges". See also "Report: Crist's approval rating bottoming out" and "Crist losing ground to Rubio in Senate race, poll shows".

    "It's the economy, stupid"

    "Rick Scott leads the Republican primary for governor in a new statewide poll thanks to his massive TV ad buys and the old maxim: It's the economy, stupid. Despite lingering questions about his business record and a Medicare fraud scandal in his background, the former health care executive has a 10 percentage-point lead over rival Bill McCollum ahead of the Aug. 24 primary in part because voters see Scott as the candidate who can best pull the economy out of the doldrums." "Scott leads McCollum by 10 points".

    Crist only gets a "pat on the shoulder"

    "There was no hug and little in the way of a photo op, but Gov. Charlie Crist did get a brief pat on the shoulder Saturday from President Barack Obama. It came after Obama made his only scheduled public comments during a two-day trip with his family to the Florida Panhandle to promote a tourism industry that has been battered by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Obama was at the podium at the Panama City Coast Guard Station with first lady Michelle at his side in front of the cutter Coho and a phalanx of blue-clad Coast Guardsmen. Crist, who needs Democratic votes in his run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, watched Obama, who is backing Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in that race, from a distance well behind a bank of cameras." "".

    Related: "Crist's lowest approval ranking mirrors Obama's".

    McCollum's "calculated move that backfired"

    Myriam Marquez: "It was a calculated move that backfired."

    On the same day that Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum unveiled his proposed "tougher but fairer than Arizona'' immigration law, a statewide poll showed him pulling ahead in the race.

    He didn't need to exit fringe right with a proposal that would require every immigrant to carry papers or face jail time. But that's what he did.

    Never mind the potential for profiling or the injustice of setting stiffer penalties for the undocumented if they commit the same crime as a legal resident. The damage was done. Key Hispanic supporters were incensed.
    "McCollum's desperate move smacks of disrespect". Related: "Poll shows immigration may be tough issue for McCollum" and "Bill McCollum braces for Hispanic backlash over law targeting immigrants".

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "It may be great political theater, but Florida should not try to outdo Arizona. Unfortunately, that's where the state is headed thanks to the decision by Attorney General Bill McCollum to join state Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, in proposing a new immigration enforcement law that would go 'one step further' than Arizona. The change is not only ill-advised, it has the potential to really hurt Florida." "Outdoing Arizona will cost Florida taxpayers, not resolve the crisis".

    Flat out desperate

    "As early voting begins, Bill McCollum pursues votes with Jeb Bush".

    "Breathlessly awaiting McCollum's next attempt"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "If Bill McCollum hopes to show he's governor material, he'll need a stiffer spine than he had during a recent interview."

    Florida Baptist Witness recently asked Mr. McCollum whether Florida should change the law that currently allows gays to serve as foster parents.

    His response, published Monday: "I think that it would be advisable. I really do not think that we should have homosexuals guiding our children." Mr. McCollum already supports Florida's ban on gay couples adopting children — the nation's only such ban.

    Now Mr. McCollum is saying gay people shouldn't shelter children. His reasoning: Florida's laws on adoption and foster care should be consistent.

    We're breathlessly awaiting his next attempt to dehumanize Florida's gays and lesbians.

    In fairness, his Republican foe in the primary, Rick Scott, said basically the same thing to the Baptist Witness. He was just more adept at deflecting the question.
    "Bill McCollum on gay adoption & Caviar dreams".

    Related: "Bill McCollum's growing problem". Steve Bousquet: "Bill McCollum's political career marked by contradictions over gay rights".

    Michael Mayo: "Only nine days until the Aug. 24 Florida primaries, and we know what that means: It's open season on gays. They're an easy target for Republican candidates courting the conservative vote, which is why a resurgent Bill McCollum not only defended Florida's outdated ban on gay adoption last week, but said gay foster parents should be outlawed, too. ... Florida has the backward distinction of being the only state that bans adoptions based on sexuality, but it has long allowed gays to be foster parents. ... McCollum, the Florida attorney general who's battling Rick Scott for the Republican governor's nomination, got one thing right: It's simply illogical for the state to allow one but not the other. Too bad he's gone the wrong way in reconciling the discrepancy." "Time for Florida to allow gay adoptions, not ban gay foster parents".

    There's always hope: "Battered and bruised in the midst of a race against Rick Scott, McCollum's fourth statewide campaign in the past decade is on the mend in the final, most important days before the Aug. 24 election, polls now suggest." "McCollum shows signs of righting bruised campaign". See also "Tagged an insider, an experienced Bill McCollum grows ever tougher" and "On the Road: McCollum at ease courting voters in Central Florida, 'setting record straight'".

    Crist the only one?

    Crist seems to be the only major statewide candidate to agree with President Obama on the Mosque issue. Meanwhile, Scott grovels for tea leaves, calling the President "shameful" and "cowardly".


    Gov. Charlie Crist, meanwhile, said he agreed with the president's view about religious freedom.

    "I know there are sensitivities and I understand them,'' he said after meeting with Obama in Panama City about the oil disaster. "This is a place where you're supposed to be able to practice your religion without the government telling you you can't.''

    Crist is running for U.S. Senate as an independent, having left the Republican Party, and his views could appeal to Democrats.

    But some Democrats in Florida were sharply critical of Obama. "President Obama has this all wrong,'' said Jeff Greene, who is running for U.S. Senate. "Freedom of religion might provide the right to build the mosque in the shadow of ground zero, but common sense and respect for those who lost their lives and loved ones gives sensible reason to build the mosque someplace else.'' ...

    Alex Sink, Florida's CFO and Democratic candidate for governor: "It is my personal opinion that the wishes of the 9/11 victims' families and friends must be respected. They are opposed to this project and I share their view.''

    Rick Scott, one of the Republicans in the gubernatorial race, was the first to criticize Obama, calling his stance "shameful and the act of a cowardly politician.''

    Scott's GOP rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum, said, "It is simply symbolically wrong at a time when we're at war.''

    In the Senate race, Republican Marco Rubio said, "It is divisive and disrespectful to build a mosque next to the site where 3,000 innocent people were murdered at the hands of Islamic extremism. I strongly disagree with President Obama and Charlie Crist.''

    U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the other leading Democrat in the race, issued a statement reflective of the sensitive nature of the debate. ``Our nation was founded on the pillar of religious freedom and construction of the mosque should not be denied on religious grounds,'' Meek said, "but this is ultimately a decision for the local community in New York City to make.''
    "Mosque divide enters Florida politics".

    Unaffiliated voters

    Scott Maxwell reminds us that "both Republicans and Democrats have lost shares of Florida's electorate."

    The Democrats' piece of the pie has shrunk by 4 percent in the past 10 years.

    Republicans have fared even worse, losing 8 percent of the market share.

    Unaffiliated voters, on the other hand, have grown from about 15 percent of the electorate to 19 percent — an increase of more than 25 percent.

    Approximately one out of every five voters in this state now wants nothing to do with either party — at least when it comes to registration. ...

    Democrats, by the way, now account for 41.5 percent of Florida voters. Republicans constitute 36 percent.
    "I'm in no mood for any party right now".

    Of Kirk, Catts and Jebbie

    Martin Dyckman: "Florida voters almost always have expected their governors and U.S. senators to win election the old-fashioned way: by earning it. Never has either of these offices been bought."

    But this year's polls suggest that Rick Scott's fat checkbook is persuading Republican primary voters to overlook his lack of any record of public service.

    If he goes to the governor's office, he would be only the third man since 1900 to get there without first having been elected or appointed to any lesser public office.

    What the first two did with the state's top job points out the huge gamble Scott's voters would be taking.
    Dyckman continues:
    Of the 27 governors since 1900, 22 had served in the Legislature; Kirk, Catts and Jeb Bush (elected in 1998) were the only ones who had no experience in elected offices.

    Bush had been briefly in Tallahassee as Gov. Bob Martinez's secretary of commerce and was familiar with politics in Miami-Dade County and through the career of his father George H.W. Bush, whose long record of public service culminated in the 41st presidency. But the fact that the younger Bush had not held his own elected office may have had a lot to do with his defeat in his first run for governor and his disinterest in obtaining bipartisan support for his more controversial policies when he was elected in 1998. Relying on large majorities of Republicans in the Legislature, Bush did not have to view compromise as a necessity. That he did not regard it as a virtue either will count against his historical record. Voters may want to consider his example along with Kirk's when they ponder how well or poorly Scott might perform his duties.
    Much more here: "Florida's history unkind to untested newcomers". Related: "Money a Dominant Factor In Race".

    Money talks and ...

    "Florida's property tax appeals system favors big businesses and wealthy homeowners, the Sun Sentinel finds." "South Florida property tax appeals are on a blistering pace".

    Derby looks at all 120 House races

    Kevin Derby: "All 120 seats in the Florida House of Representatives will be up for grabs come November. With Republicans controlling 76 seats, it will take a near miracle for the Democrats to gain control of the House this election cycle. Already controlling 44 seats, the Democrats hope to pick up five more -- giving them enough votes to block Republicans sending proposed constitutional amendments to the voters." "Race for the House".

    "Obscene excess"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The obscene excess of a new $48 million courthouse in Tallahassee will be a permanent reminder of why voters distrust government to spend taxpayer dollars wisely. It represents everything wrong in a state capital where insider dealing and secrecy, rather than obligations to Floridians, dictate policy."

    St. Petersburg Times senior correspondent Lucy Morgan detailed last Sunday how 1st District Court of Appeal Chief Judge Paul Hawkes and Judge Brad Thomas lobbied legislative leaders in 2007 to secure a little-noticed deal for an ostentatious courthouse that even the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court did not support. As the Legislature in subsequent years slashed courts' operating budgets statewide, forcing layoffs and increasing backlogs, its leaders remained committed to the palatial new home for a few friends and colleagues at the court.

    Hawkes and Thomas are longtime Republican insiders, former staffers for the Legislature and former Gov. Jeb Bush. Hawkes had served two House terms representing Crystal River. Clearly, this pair felt entitled to a setting worthy of their lofty status. They sought a courthouse that mimicked the Michigan Supreme Court building. It was to have 60-inch TVs, granite-trimmed bathrooms and private kitchens in each mahogany-trimmed judge's chamber. To help foot the bill in an economy already slowing in 2007, Hawkes and Thomas convinced legislative leaders to borrow $33.5 million for the building and charge the court rent — an unprecedented arrangement.

    Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, enabled the deal by tucking an amendment into a transportation bill on the last day of the 2007 session. Crist claimed he was just doing then-Senate President Ken Pruitt's bidding. Now Pruitt and Gov. Charlie Crist, who signed the bill into law, seem to have amnesia.
    "Obscene palace of privilege".

    You remember Mr. Hawkes, don't you? Back in 2002 The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board described the flaws in Jebbie's new the judicial appointment process this way:
    Exhibit A: the appointment this week of Paul Hawkes to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

    The judges there should be legal scholars foremost, politicians last if at all. In picking Hawkes, Bush got it backward.

    Hawkes is a former state representative who has spent the last two years as chief of policy for the speaker's office, for which he had been a consultant in 1997 and 1998. In those roles, he actively promoted much of Bush's agenda. Former Speakers Tom Feeney and John Thrasher, close allies of the governor, led Hawkes' list of references.
    "Backward choice in Hawkes". And then there's this:

    Police your garbage

    "In this July 31, 2010 photo released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, two black bear cubs, one with a jug on its head, run along a roadway in Ocala National Forest, Fla. The black bear cub in Florida affectionately known as "jarhead" can finally enjoy a good meal. The clear plastic container was removed from the 6-month-old cub's head after being stuck for at least 10 days. The cub poked its head into the jar when digging through trash in a neighborhood in central Florida. Biologists say the cub was days away from death because the jar made it impossible to eat or drink. The team had to tranquilize the mother bear and then grab the cub to remove the jar from the bear's head." "Plastic jar removed from bear cub's head".


    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Keep pressure on BP to pay claims". The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "System must protect state: Even if oil never gets here, all Floridians could be affected.".

    See also "Obama gives personal assurances of Gulf's safety" and "Final plug on Gulf oil leak at least days away".

    What, Thrasher worry?

    Steve Bousquet: "After he served as speaker of the House, he made millions as a lobbyist in Tallahassee. Now he's a state senator and heads the Republican Party of Florida, giving him direct access to mountains of campaign money. He's extremely well-connected. So why does John Thrasher seem worried?" "For GOP chairman Thrasher, election poses real challenges".

    Note to Alex: "The he-coon walks just before light of day."

    Daniel Ruth: "It has probably become abundantly clear to Sink and her brain trust that she cannot simply run against Scott by consistently pointing out he is the Dr. Jack Kevorkian of scruples. McCollum harped on that theme with precious little traction."

    So maybe it is time for Sink to be thinking: Lt. Gov. Bud Chiles. After all, He-Coon Jr. has clearly demonstrated that even with a minimum of campaign funds the old family name still has some notable appeal across the state.

    With sparse media attention and virtually no advertising, Bud Chiles has attracted as much as 20 percent support in the polls, a commentary perhaps as much on the strength of his father's legacy as the relative weaknesses of better known candidates.

    Chiles would bring name recognition and enhanced media attention to the Sink campaign. His presence would also likely help with fundraising, which Sink will sorely need should she find herself running against the Tea Pot Dome of prescription drugs [Scott].

    The entire object of the exercise of running for office is to … win. Adding Bud Chiles to the Sink ticket helps her … win, if that is what she has in mind.

    And since the lieutenant governor's job carries with it less formal duties than a Chernobyl tour guide, really now, unless Chiles turned the post into one long taxpayer funded Club Med retreat like the current incumbent, Jeff Kottkamp, how much harm could he do?

    In a 1994 debate Lawton Chiles famously observed, "The old he-coon walks just before the light of day." Jeb Bush is still trying to figure out what he meant.

    But for Alex Sink it might be suggested dawn is just breaking over her campaign.
    "A sly strategy for Alex Sink".

    Bad news for FlaDems?

    "Bad news may be coming for Democrats in the November elections -- and that dismal prediction comes from a Democratic pollster."

    Hamilton Campaigns, a Jacksonville- and Washington-based Democratic consulting firm, reports that Democrats are ambivalent about the fall election as President Barack Obama's popularity flags.

    A memo obtained by [or leaked to the conservative] Sunshine State News shows the results of a private poll[*], which surveyed 1,000 Florida voters who say they are likely to cast ballots in the Nov. 2 election.

    Among the findings:

    * The electorate in Florida identifies as moderate to conservative -- 24 percent liberal; 29 percent moderate; and 47 percent conservative. Even among Democrats, fewer than half (43 percent) call themselves liberal.

    * There is a significant gap in the level of interest in the upcoming election held by Democrats vs. Republicans. Almost two-thirds of the electorate say they are very interested in the election (64 percent very interested; 26 percent somewhat interested; 10 percent not interested).

    Only 58 percent of Democrats say they are very interested in this election, compared to 76 percent of Republicans.

    Republicans who identify as very conservative are the most interested at 87 percent.

    * President Obama’s personal favorability rating is split (51 percent favorable; 49 percent unfavorable; 32 percent very favorable, 35 percent very unfavorable).
    Much more here: "Democratic Poll Boosts Republican Election Hopes".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *The company that conducted the poll and the margin of error, was not disclosed in the article.

    What's wrong with Hillsborough?

    "For the second time in two weeks, a Hillsborough County circuit judge has ruled that the embattled campaign for county commission of a former Tampa City Council member can continue. On Friday, Circuit Judge Herbert Baumann decided that Democrat Linda Saul-Sena can remain on the ballot for the Hillsborough County District 5 seat. Saul-Sena, a 20 year veteran of the Tampa City Council, had been sued by a Republican voter who claimed she had failed to follow Florida’s 'resign-to-run' law. Saul-Sena conceded she failed to resign her post on the council prior to qualifying, and pulled herself from the commission race, only to be nominated back on the ballot by the Hillsborough Democratic Executive Committee. In a strange twist, another former Tampa City Council member, John Dingfelder, made the same mistake in running for the District 1 Hillsborough County Commission seat. He too was sued by a Republican voter, but a circuit judge ruled last week he could stay on the ballot because he had pulled out of the commission race and been nominated by the DEC." "Judge rules former Tampa councilwoman can continue bid for commission".


    "Amendment 4, the proposed state constitution amendment that would have voters giving final approval to changes to city and county comprehensive land use plans, is opposed primarily by developers, the lobbyists who represent them and the city and county governments who would lose final say over these plans if the amendment passes. But mainly, it’s the developers."

    With voters able to approve changes to comprehensive land use plans, that Wal-Mart that would bring in piles of tax dollars but would be loathed by the community will never see the light of day. This, perhaps, explains why Wal-Mart has given $100,000 to the No on 4 campaign, a donation that hardly makes the big-box store unique among its peers.

    But it’s the people who build those stores — along with everything else — who have the most to lose. That’s why the largest new home builder in the nation, Pulte Homes, has given the No on 4 campaign more than half a million dollars in 2010, and why the country’s second-largest home builder, Florida’s Lennar Homes, has contributed $367,000.

    How are these construction companies, hit hard by the housing bubble burst, so flush with cash? The money flowing to No on 4 is there in part thanks to an underreported clause in one of Congress’ many extensions of unemployment benefits in the past year.
    "Developers collect federal tax breaks, pour money into defeating Amendment 4".

    "Hurling insults daily"

    "The candidates, Rep. Kendrick Meek and billionaire Jeff Greene, hurl insults daily at each other. But with the no-party candidacy of Gov. Charlie Crist attracting a wealth of support from Democrats and independents, either candidate stands a distant third to either Crist or Republican Marco Rubio, according to numerous polls released on the Senate race." "No love lost between Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene".

    End of the week report

    "Campaign roundup for Friday".

    1.7M in tax dollars to Billy

    Gary Fineout: "Florida taxpayers have already handed more than $5 million in matching funds for the 2010 election in just three weeks. It shows that Florida may still wind up eclipsing the amount of taxpayer money spent on campaigns back in 2006 when new laws adopted by the Republican-led Legislature allowed candidates to collect larger amounts of money from the state. That year the state handed out $11.1 million in matching money to campaigns for governor and Cabinet." "Taxpayers have spent more than $5 million on help for political campaigns".

    "Always controversial ... equally theatrical"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Always controversial, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is equally theatrical. FCAT often unfolds with drama over testing angst and below-bar scores. Other years, it's morphed into a comedy — of errors — that tortures parents and educators acutely aware of the high stakes." "Shore up trust in FCAT".

    No room for RPOF moderates

    "After months of fighting with local party bosses, state Sen. Mike Fasano has resigned from the Pasco County Republican Party's Executive Committee. Fasano's resignation comes after a nasty public fight between the New Port Richey moderate and the more conservative heads of the Pasco GOP, Bill Bunting and Randy Maggard, sparked by Fasano's continued support of his longtime friend and ally, Gov. Charlie Crist." "Fasano quits Pasco GOP".

    Delusions of grandeur

    This is a real howler: Beth Reinhard imagines herself part of "an aggressive press corps". Huh? were there a bunch of new hires while I was gone?

    Anyway, Reinhardt writes with a straight face about how Florida's political reporters get "in the faces" of candidates and "scours their backgrounds", and how they apply "heat" to the candidates. She explains:

    Today [her column] is about [Jeff Greene and Rick Scott] fumbling another ritual of the state's highly hazardous campaign trail: going toe-to-toe with an aggressive press corps.

    As we reporters like to say to irritable, wealthy candidates: "If you can't take the heat, get out of Florida in August. And for the love of God, take us with you -- to Martha's Vineyard or the Hamptons or any more pleasant clime.''

    One thing about rich folk who have never held public office: They are typically unaccustomed to reporters getting in their face and scouring their backgrounds for misdeeds and conflicts of interest.
    "Rich political novices wince in media spotlight".

    I know ... nuthing ... nuthing

    "Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene said Friday he will sue the St. Petersburg Times if the paper does not retract an article about his real estate transactions."

    The article, which was published Aug. 8, detailed Greene’s sale of condos in California that landed at least one of the buyers in prison. Greene said the article ignored documents in order to paint him in a negative light. ...

    Greene said the paper exaggerated his ties to the man, James Delbert McConville, in an effort to make him look bad.
    "Greene Threatens to Sue St. Pete Times".

    Freedom to defecate

    The teabaggers can't find "septic tank" in the U.S. Constitution: "Some of Florida's nearly 3 million septic tank owners are getting angry, and a veteran lawmaker who said he was tricked into voting for the first statewide mandatory inspection program is getting nervous." "Septic tank owners are angry over inspection legislation".

    Raw political courage

    "Back-to-school sales tax break begins".

    Scott in hiding

    Aaron Deslatte: "We know this about Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rick Scott: He has a temper. We also know he doesn't like to answer a lot of questions, particularly from the media."

    That's why Scott's campaign handlers have taken the highly unusual step this summer of keeping him away from all of the editorial boards at Florida newspapers. It's also why they refused to participate in what would have been the only statewide televised debate in the race, a forum last Wednesday in Orlando sponsored by a business-backed group called Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association.

    Even after a debate he did attend in Tampa, his campaign refused to make him available to reporters afterward in the typical post-debate "spin room" – unlike rival Bill McCollum, who answered questions for half an hour.

    Scott's campaign said he didn't need to answer any more questions because he had clearly won the debate – but his fall in recent polls suggests otherwise. In the past week, he's gone from a six-point lead to a four-point deficit in two separate polls taken by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.
    "Would Gov. Rick Scott answer the questions that candidate Scott avoids?".

    "Tea party groups say Everett Wilkinson, the heckler [in this video], is out of control " "Rick Scott Awkwardly Ignores Heckler at Tea Party Rally".

    Donors ... who needs 'em

    "With the Republican nomination on the line, two candidates looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas in November have dug deep into their bank accounts to finance last-minute advertising before the Aug. 24 primary, according to recent reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Craig Miller, a former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steak House, has pumped more than $500,000 of his own money into the race, including $180,000 in the last two weeks. That counters the $200,000 that former Winter Park commissioner Karen Diebel gave herself last month." "Kosmas foes dig into their bank accounts to fund campaigns".

    CD 17

    "For the first and likely only time, all nine Democrats vying to replace Kendrick Meek in Congress gathered Thursday, highlighting their similarities and few differences in a friendly forum of supposed political foes." "Rivals in congressional race sound mostly alike".


    "A nearly $2 billion land deal once described as the Louisiana Purchase of Everglades restoration ended up getting whittled away under the weight of a sinking economy and shifting political winds. Now two years after Gov. Charlie Crist announced a blockbuster deal to buy out all of U.S. Sugar Corp.'s more than 180,000 acres, a radically reduced plan has emerged to acquire two strategically located pieces of the sugar giant's vast real estate holdings." "Crist's downsized Everglades restoration land deal still faces legal scrutiny". See also this Mike Thomas column: "Ever-shrinking U.S. Sugar buyout means putting on happy faces".

    Nancy Smith: "More land to no purpose, more government waste in Florida. Thursday’s South Florida Water Management District vote was all that and so much more." "Lost Hope for the Everglades?".

    "Someone, prepare the dunking chairs!"

    Scott Maxwell: "In the attorney general's race, far-right zealots are targeting GOP contender Pam Bondi for her many alleged sins — including divorce."

    Holy chastity belts! What will these modern-day demon-women do next? Wear shorts? Work outside the home? Someone, prepare the dunking chairs!

    The fact that these blowhards are still screaming isn't surprising. The fact that anyone's still listening is.

    Because these people and their constant crusades against equal rights do more than just embarrass themselves; they embarrass Christianity.

    The latest news has John Stemberger — the guy best known for leading his tireless fights against homosexuality with the Florida Family Policy Council — going after Tampa Bay prosecutor Pam Bondi.
    "Zealots give religion a bad name".

    "But what do Floridians know about these two?"

    "They complain about the attack ads against them, but the two multimillionaires running for top offices in Florida only have themselves to blame."

    Slick TV ads by Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott and U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jeff Greene have pummeled their primary opponents as ``career politicians'' and pointed to deals and votes they made during public careers. That's normal in a campaign.

    So, too, should Mr. Scott and Mr. Greene expect voters to ask them about their past -- and present -- business deals and lifestyles even as they claim they are free of "special interests'' because they are financing their own campaigns.

    Their slick messages promising to bring common sense to Florida politics as astute businessmen surely attract voters frustrated by partisan wrangling in Tallahassee and Washington. But what do Floridians really know about these two men?

    Not much if all voters see are their glitzy ads.

    After spending millions of dollars on the campaign Mr. Scott, a Texan until recently, still hasn't explained his role in the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history as head of the mammoth Columbia/HCA hospital chain in the 1990s.

    Mr. Greene, a billionaire thanks to his betting against the housing bubble, has been more available to the press and answered some tough questions from this Editorial Board, but he, too, seems surprised that his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, is attacking how Mr. Greene made his money. Mr. Greene, a California Republican until recently, scoffs at having to answer questions about yacht trips to Cuba or recent business deals or who he counts as his friends. Yet those issues speak to his judgment.
    "No free pass".

    "Misleading ads written to persuade by deception"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board:

    "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," the Wizard exhorts Dorothy and cohorts toward the end of "The Wizard of Oz" as he is unveiled to be "a very good man" and a fraud.

    Unlike the erstwhile travelers on the yellow brick road, voters shouldn't be fooled near the finish of this primary election cycle by shifty campaign commercials seeking to lure their votes through misleading ads written to persuade by deception.
    "Selective quotes sling political mud".

    "Strippers and other tawdry tales"

    "Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene finds himself answering inquiries about strippers aboard his Summerwind yacht and other tawdry tales." "Jeff Greene's yacht holds the secrets: Sexcapades or Sabbath?".

    "There's the Florida guy ..."

    "There's the die-hard Democrat from Texas who says November's elections are about keeping Republicans from power. There's the North Carolina Republican who says it's about firing Democrats for growing government. There's the Florida guy who lost his job and says it's all about unemployment." "Many voters, many views of election's meaning".

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