Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.
Quinnipiac: "August 23, 2010 - Meek, McCollum Lead One Day Before Florida Primaries, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; But Many Likely Primary Voters Remain Undecided ".
More: "A weekend of last-minute polling shows that the primary race for governor continues to be volatile as a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday shows Attorney General Bill McCollum's lead narrowing to 39 to 35 percent against insurgent Rick Scott." "Bill McCollum's lead over Rick Scott narrowing, newest poll shows". See also "Poll: Meek, McCollum lead in primary races".
Related: "Polling Challenge: Identifying Likely Voters".
Early voting strong, overall turnout remains a question
"A record-setting 361,615 Florida voters participated in early voting through Sunday, although election officials cautioned that the number may reflect the convenience of voting before Election Day, not a higher-than-expected overall turnout." "Early voters turn out in large numbers as candidates push for votes".
Kevin Derby: "This is it -- primary Election Day in Florida -- in a state of increasing national importance and political vigor. As the rest of America watches -- for that matter, as Florida intently watches itself -- voters go to the polls to decide who will be their party's nominees in November’s general election. " "Close Contests Across Florida on Primary Day". Related: "Nation's eye turns to Florida primary voting".
"Conventional wisdom for this election year is voters will exorcise incumbents, purge weak-hearted partisans and send an insurgent message to those in power. But don't expect a wholesale revolt in today's primaries in Florida, where fear of the unknown appears to trump the desire for change." "Florida poised to resist revolt". More: "Record-Setting Primary Season Ends With Uncertainty" and "Money for nothing in Fla. primaries".
See also "Bill McCollum, Rick Scott and other rivals criss-cross state in final scrum for votes", "Candidates rally before primaries" and "Wealthy Insurgents May Fall Short in Florida" and "GOP governor, Dem Senate races highlight Fla. vote".
Daily kos: "In both the primaries for Governor and Senate, it has been a pitched battle to the last minute between absurdly well-funded neophytes and classic politicos."
In the GOP gubernatorial primary, the big winner might be Democrat Alex Sink. The primary between longtime insider and state AG Bill McCollum and uber-wealthy hospital magnate Rick Scott has been so ugly that Sink has gone from a double-digit underdog against the GOP nominee to a single-digit leader. ..."FLORIDA: Governor, Senate, FL-08, FL-24, FL-25".
On the Senate side, late polling is more uniform, and seems to confirm that Congressman Kendrick Meek is favored to successfully fight off the cash-infused challenge of wealthy real estate investor Jeff Greene, who it is fair to say was something of a flawed candidate from the outset.
Downballot, Republicans will pick nominees in two targeted races for November: FL-08 (Alan Grayson) and FL-24 (Suzanne Kosmas). The big downballot race to watch here is in FL-25, one of the better Dem pickup opportunities in the nation. It will be interesting to see if the late revelations about the myriad of troubles for GOP fave David Rivera [see below] will drop this nomination in the lap of one of his lesser-known GOP rivals.
"Rarely has a Florida primary election been so captivating"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Rarely has a Florida primary election been so captivating. No one can predict today with certainty who will win the top-of-the-ballot races for the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate and Republican nominee for governor. Also hanging in the balance are each party’s nomination for state attorney general. And down the ballot, voters across Tampa Bay will pick new school board members, circuit and county judges and nominees for county commissions." "Now it's up to you, voter".
Steve Otto: "As difficult as it is to work up much enthusiasm for this mess, if you have taken the time and looked beyond those television cheap shots, there are some decent people on the campaign trail. There are still a few candidates who made real sacrifices in their lives to knock on doors and sell themselves." "Hold your nose and vote". See also "It's primary day: Your turn, voters" and Tom Jackson's "Procrastinators know what's what at polls".
"Will money or grass roots win Fla. Senate primary?". More: "Final day shows contrasts between Meek and Greene" and "Sidewalk drama between Greene, Meek supporters in WPB as primary campaign nears end".
"As Republican gubernatorial candidates Bill McCollum and Rick Scott flew around the state on Monday in the last day of campaigning before election day, they had a chance meeting at Tampa International Jet Center ... and said nothing to each other." "McCollum, Scott don't even exchange glances as they cross paths campaigning". See also "Bill McCollum, Rick Scott fly around Florida one day before gubernatorial primary", "In Shadow of Differing New Polls, McCollum, Scott Engage in Down-to-the-Wire Slugfest" and "The Rivalry Behind the Scott-McCollum Battle".
Meanwhile, "facing only token opposition in her primary, Democrat Alex Sink is expected to emerge victorious Tuesday but with one big problem: In her quest to become governor, she is unknown to half of Florida's voters. Meanwhile, a barrage of television ads in the high-profile Republican primary has given her competitors -- Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and Naples businessman Rick Scott -- plenty of name recognition. It has also given her plenty of ammunition to use against them in the Nov. 2 general election. Sink's challenge now is to define herself as a candidate and explain to voters what she wants to do in office, say pollsters and political observers." "Alex who? Sink still is unknown to many". See also "Alex Sink needs to quickly establish herself with voters for Nov. election".
More: "For GOP, it's McCollum or Scott for governor".
"Florida's next attorney general will take the lead on Gulf oil damage claims and a pending lawsuit over the federal health care program, but many voters were still undecided between three Republican and two Democratic candidates as Tuesday's primary election approached." "Florida's top lawyer seat is an open race".
"Ill winds are coming into convergence"
Mike Thomas: "Dirty politics is entering a new, muddier phase infecting races at all levels."
Many ill winds are coming into convergence. The public's attention span is getting ever shorter. There is increasing competition to be heard above the growing din. There is a heated battle for audience share by a growing number of media outlets, websites, blogs and so on. There is the need to make maximum impact . And there is a complete lack of accountability."Seek public service if you like public shame".
"As the political season starts reaching its pinnacle of shrillness, candidates will be filling the airwaves and your mailboxes with pitches galore. Here are three ways things have gotten off track so far."
1. Experience seen as bad."Jane Healy: 3 troubling trends this election season".
2. Arrogance seen as acceptable.
3. Voting seen as unnecessary.
All in for McCollum
"The latest report for the Republican Party of Florida's federal campaign finance account — the rich source of funds for get-out-the-vote efforts, voter registration drives and even staff salaries — shows it has dipped to an unusually low $54,000."
Money raised in the federal account must come from individual, not corporate, contributions. Judging from the push in the past several weeks, Republican leaders have been very busy raising corporate money, but it has apparently gone only to the political committees aimed at boosting Attorney General Bill McCollum's campaign for governor."GOP could use Greer's money right now".
For what it's worth, the Democrats appear to be in a better shape, with $1.6 million on hand.
State Senate challengers
"State Sen. John Thrasher, who splits his time as chairman of the state Republican Party, will learn Tuesday if GOP voters in his Jacksonville-area district believe he can do both jobs well. Thrasher is one of two Senate Republicans with an opponent in Florida's primary election. Rep. Thad Altman, R-Viera, is the other. No incumbent Democrats are being challenged." "GOP chairman has primary challenge for Senate seat".
Will Hispanics vote?
"Candidates are stepping up their efforts to reach Hispanics as the final day for the primary vote nears Tuesday, but it remains to be seen whether a significant number of Latinos will vote. While many participated in the 2008 elections, Hispanics typically show low turnout during primary races." "Election time: Will Hispanics vote in the Florida primaries?".
"The knock on Democratic state Sen. Dan Gelber, first when he ran for U.S. Senate and then when he jumped to the attorney general's race, was that the guy couldn't raise money. Sure, the press would lap up his quotes, the chatter went, but Gelber would fall short in critical campaign cash. Wrong."
Gelber: $1.676 million (5,150 donors)."Attorney general hopefuls reel in cash".
Aronberg: $1.662 million (4,660 donors).
Jeff Kottkamp: $1.115 million (2,539 donors).
Pam Bondi: $999K (2,190 donors).
Holly Benson: $914K (2,043 donors).
Bob likes Charlie
"On Aug. 11, Dole cut a $1,000 check to Gov. Charlie Crist's independent U.S. Senate campaign." "Dole gives $1,000 to Crist campaign".
""Effect of tea party vote in GOP primary for Fla. governor remains unclear"".
Grayson's likely opponent, "Taliban Dan"
"There's a reason Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) calls Daniel Webster, his likely Republican challenger in November, 'Taliban Dan.'" (from a Grayson release):
Dan Webster -- endorsed in the primary by the Orlando Sentinel and by Jeb Bush -- may not have a clue on what to do about joblessness, homelessness, expensive healthcare, no money for schools or endless war. But he does know what to do about divorce."FL-08: Taliban Dan and the covenant marriage".
In the Florida Legislature, Dan Webster sponsored and supported a bill to institute "covenant marriage." In a covenant marriage, you can't get divorced.
So Dan Webster's bill reduces the institution of marriage to a roach motel: You can check in, but you can't check out.
With one exception: adultery. So, let's say that your husband, God forbid, has been abusing you. And you need a divorce. You have only one option. According to Dan Webster's law, you would need to deliberately commit infidelity in order to get a divorce.
Ah, but here's the catch. Under Dan Webster's law, if both parties cheat on each other, then they can'tget a divorce. Ever. They're locked in holy matrimony, forever. Like two scorpions in a bottle. So if you cheat on him to get away from him, and it turns out that he's cheated on you, well then . . . .
There is only one place where in the entire world where both divorce and annulment are forbidden: The Taliban Government in Northwest Pakistan. And Taliban Dan wants to institute the same rule here. The man with the 19th century name wants to pass 13th century laws, which you and I will have to live by.
"Seven incumbent U.S. House members- five Democrats and two Republicans - are facing challenges from within their own parties." "7 Fla. congressional incumbents challenged".
The Rivera problem
Daily kos: "Eric Cantor has a bit of a problem brewing: he's closely linked himself to David Rivera, the likely GOP nominee in Florida's 25th CD -- a troubled candidate who has been accused of not just of domestic violence but also lying to cover it up." "FL-25: Cantor stands with alleged domestic abuser".
"With eight years experience in the house and several years after that working as a lobbyist, many consider Sharon Merchant the "insider candidate" in the Senate District 27 Republican Primary. But Lizbeth Benacquisto is benefiting from ties to the inside too." "Merchant vs. Benacquisto: In or Out?".
"Voters should recognize Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Julio Robaina". "In SD 36 GOP Primary, It May Be All in the Name".
"The Keith Richards of the hustings"
Daniel Ruth admits it:
I admit it. I'm a junkie. I mainline rallies. I snort polls. I smoke bunting. I'm the Keith Richards of the hustings. "Democracy at its weirdest— and best".
"Federal Judge Federico Moreno denied the emergency request of the Miccosukee tribe to bar the South Florida Water Management District from buying 27,000 acres to help restore the Everglades. The order does not block the tribe from filing another motion to stop the sale." "Federal judge denies Miccosukee tribe effort to block Everglades land deal".
Economic impact of "your papers please" bill
"A statewide immigrant coalition that reacted angrily last week to an Arizona-style immigration enforcement bill in Florida, showed today that it has support from state Legislators who are concerned about the economic impact of such a bill on a state that depends on tourist dollars." "Florida immigration bill could hurt tourism, legislators say". See also "Coalition opposes popular Arizona-like immigration bill for Florida".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The Obama administration owes the American people plain talk about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - particularly about how much oil remains and the dangers to humans, wildlife and the environment."
The White House last fully addressed the issue in early August. A report by government scientists declared that three-quarters of the 5 million barrels spilled had disappeared - skimmed, burned, dispersed. Top officials took to the airwaves to celebrate the news."Credibility gap in gulf". Related: "Florida Realtors get $16 million from BP oil spill account" and "Feinberg takes control of spill compensation fund, dismisses criticisms from McCollum".
This rosy narrative has since been badly shaken. Scientists at the University of Georgia said last week that the rate of evaporation and biological breakdown had been greatly exaggerated. Another team of scientists wrote in the journal Science about the discovery of a vast 22-mile underwater oil plume the size of Manhattan. Most alarmingly, they said they saw little evidence that the oil was being rapidly consumed by the gulf's petroleum-eating microbes, raising the possibility of significant future damage to the ecosystem.