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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 Tuesday, August 31, 2010

RPOFers "zipping on their Hazmat suits and embracing Scott"

    "Once viewed as a pariah among Republicans, Rick Scott is embraced by top party leaders who hope he can forgive and forget."
    Politics is funny sometimes in Florida.

    One day people call you a fraud who ripped off taxpayers and financed smut, the next day they hail you as a visionary leader, job creator and good friend. One day you're denouncing special interest and lobbyist money, the next day you are courting it.

    Such is the case with Rick Scott, the mega-rich businessman ['who has more baggage than J-Lo on a camel safari'] who stunned the GOP establishment last week by beating Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Only a week ago, state and national party leaders treated Scott as a dangerous pariah, but now they're eagerly embracing him and hoping for forgiveness.
    "GOP leaders reach out to Rick Scott". See also "Scott, GOP make a show of unity".

    Carl Hiaasen: "Now that Florida's bitter Republican primary is over, party leaders are zipping on their Hazmat suits and preparing to embrace Rick Scott."
    Whether Sink can capitalize on the rancorous split in the GOP remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the efforts of Thrasher and others to present a unified front will provide some much-needed comedy, if nothing else.

    Expect staged photo opportunities of Scott posing with ex-McCollum backers, pained smiles all around. It will also be intriguing to see how party godfather Jeb Bush devises to appear enthusiastic about Scott, when the truth is the opposite. ...

    McCollum will face mounting pressure from GOP insiders to hold his nose and praise a man whom he truly believes is unqualified to be governor.
    "How McCollum responds will be a measure of his own integrity. Either he'll continue to say what he really thinks, or he'll join Scott's make-believe lovefest and paste on a smile."
    With his résumé reeking from one of the nation's worst health-care ripoffs, the new GOP gubernatorial nominee is now being courted by the same stalwarts who did everything in their power to sink his self-financed excursion into politics.

    Scott's surprise victory last week over Attorney General Bill McCollum was a gift to the Democrats and a blow to the wobbly state Republican machine.

    Now comes the fun part, when all the GOP bigshots who spent months trashing Scott now pretend that they didn't do that, or didn't really mean it if they did.

    Listen to this kissy-face lie from incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos: "When you people check the record, you'll see it's only positive from me.''

    Haridopolos, a vocal supporter of McCollum, was one of numerous Republican leaders who helped raise millions of dollars for attack ads against Scott.
    Much more here: "Let the lovefest begin".

    Free Choice Kerfuffle

    "There’s no doubt Florida’s business community holds a lot of sway when it comes to electing the state’s next governor. Associated Industries of Florida boasts the most powerful business lobby in the state and the Florida Chamber of Commerce claims the largest membership with 139,000 businesses in its group."

    One issue important to both of them, affecting endorsements and fund-raising for the candidates, is the Employee Free Choice Act, or card-check.

    Card-check is currently being considered in Congress. It was co-sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and is expected to be taken up by the Senate this fall. The bill would change the way unions can organize by getting rid of the secret-ballot system, and allowing businesses with as few as 10 employees to become unionized.

    Many in the business community worry that getting rid of the secret ballot would allow unions to intimidate employees, essentially checking their cards while voting.

    AIF president Barney Bishop says that’s one of the major reasons they are not endorsing Alex Sink, even though she’s described herself as a business-friendly Democrat.

    "She’s a business person who just happens to be a Democrat," said Bishop. "And that dog just ain't going to hunt."

    Bishop says one of his primary concerns with Sink is that she will side with Congress and the White House when it comes to the union-favored card-check legislation.
    "Union-Supported Card-Check Bill May Help Decide Next Governor".

    Scott claims he was "a victim of Bill and Hillary Clinton's wrath"

    Myriam Marquez the other day:

    Hi, it's me again!

    With his ah-shucks, Opie Taylor demeanor and his "Let's get to work!'' slogan, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott pulled it off. He beat seasoned politico Bill McCollum in the primary by campaigning against his own party.

    At his victory party in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday night, I marveled at the rise of a businessman who just a decade ago was forced to leave the company he created after a multibillion-dollar criminal scandal. Scott maintains that the $1.7 billion paid by Hospital Corporation of America -- the largest fine in U.S. history -- was not an admission of fraud.

    As he implies on the stump (check out YouTube for illuminating videos of his "explanation''), he was a victim of Bill and Hillary Clinton's wrath once their healthcare reform plan went bust.
    "We still don't know who Rick Scott is".

    Joy-Ann Reid gives us "Five things to know about Rick Scott".

    See also "Outsider Scott surrounds himself with GOP insiders".

    "Scott must choose a running mate by Thursday"

    "The Florida Republican Party’s newest supernova, gubernatorial nominee Rick Scott, blazed Monday across Central Florida on a party unity tour with legislative leaders – and a star-studded fly-around on deck. ... But while the self-styled political outsider basks in the glow of party insiders, Scott also is getting ready to create an instant celebrity of his own. Scott must choose a running mate by Thursday, under state law." "Who's Ready for 15 Minutes of Fame? Scott to Choose LG".

    Never mind

    "As a House panel wrapped up its work on Monday, chances for a September oil spill special session appeared to be slim and none." "Oil spill special session not likely". Related: "BP data reveals high stakes for Florida in oil spill claims process".

    Crist "hedging, backpedaling and two-stepping"

    "A longtime target of finger-to-the-wind accusations, Gov. Charlie Crist has engaged in an unusual amount of hedging, backpedaling and two-stepping since Tuesday's primary crystallized his opposition in the U.S. Senate race."

    What's more, he is refusing to join his chief rivals, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek, on NBC's Meet the Press this Sunday.

    "When it comes down to the governor, I think Florida voters are going to really pay close attention because you don't know where he stands on the issues,'' Meek said in Tallahassee on Monday.

    Twice in the past three days, the Crist campaign has scrambled to put out statements clarifying his remarks on healthcare and same-sex marriage. The Republican-turned-independent candidate has also given muddy answers on returning money to disgruntled donors and on which party he would caucus with if elected.

    The difficulty in pinpointing Crist's positions reflects the unprecedented balancing act of an unaffiliated candidate trying to hold together a fragile coalition of Democratic, Republican and non-partisan voters.
    "Crist remarks give fodder to opponents".

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "Crist's bid to become the next U.S. senator from Florida -- and make history as an independent -- has liberated the long-time Republican from following a party script. But in so doing, Gov. Crist has left many voters confused and others angry. They're right to wonder what being an independent means, if all his positions seem to follow popular opinion. Voters aren't selecting a pollster. They are looking for a leader -- ideally, one who won't just parrot the mob." "Charlie Crist's challenge" ("Running as independent is no free pass to flip-flop").

    SOE stoties

    "The Sarasota Herald-Tribune is reporting new accusations that Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent influenced charter review board candidate Kathy Bolam’s decision to concede last Wednesday, after primary results indicated she had lost her bid by just over 100 votes. The narrowness of that margin would have triggered an automatic recount, if Bolam had not conceded." "Sarasota supervisor of elections accused of influencing candidate’s decision to concede".

    "Smaller this storm season"

    "Florida's massive reinsurance fund is much smaller this storm season".

    The week ahead

    "The Week Ahead for Aug. 30-Sept. 3".

    Grayson - Webster on the air

    Mark Schlueb reports that the Webster - Grayson "TV battle began last week. Americans for Prosperity, the stealth conservative group backed by oil billionaire David Koch, launched attack ads against Grayson and fellow Democrat Suzanne Kosmas from the neighboring 24th District, noting their support of the federal stimulus. Grayson has paid for a spot slamming Webster for spending $32,000 of taxpayer money to install a spiral staircase in his state House office in 1997 and for billing taxpayers for 68 flights private jet flights. The staircase claim is true, and the information about the flights is partially true."

    That Webster would associate himself with "Americans for Prosperity" speaks volumes. Jane Mayer has a lengthy piece in the New Yorker titled "Covert Operations", about the Koch brothers, who are "the billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama". She writes:

    The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a "kingpin of climate science denial." The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.
    "Americans for Prosperity" is part of the Kochtopus.

    The Kochs are also propping up the teabaggers. One Peggy Venable — "a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, and who has worked for Koch-funded political groups since 1994" — announced at an Americans for Prosperity [an organization that David Koch started in 2004] event that
    "We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!" she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a subsequent interview, she described herself as an early member of the movement, joking, "I was part of the Tea Party before it was cool!" She explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help "educate" Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them "next-step training" after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled "more effectively." And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, "They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do."

    Venable honored several Tea Party "citizen leaders" at the summit. The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. On June 14th, West, writing on her site, described Obama as the "cokehead in chief." ...

    During a catered lunch, Venable introduced Ted Cruz, a former solicitor general of Texas, who told the crowd that Obama was "the most radical President ever to occupy the Oval Office," and had hidden from voters a secret agenda—"the government taking over our economy and our lives." Countering Obama, Cruz proclaimed, was "the epic fight of our generation!" As the crowd rose to its feet and cheered, he quoted the defiant words of a Texan at the Alamo: "Victory, or death!"

    Americans for Prosperity [the organization that David Koch started in 2004] has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception. In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a Web site offering supporters "Tea Party Talking Points."
    "Covert Operations".

    Frank Rich last weekend on the history billionaires subsidizing the wingnut "movements":
    Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government "handouts" to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of "a takeover" of America in which Communists would "infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us." That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.
    "The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party". See generally "American Politics is Getting All Koch'ed Up" and "Group Is Accused on Tax Exemption".

    One wonders if the Orlando Sentinel will ask Taliban Dan if he agrees with the views of his billionaire benefactors?

    Grayson debate debate

    "The candidates in the most closely watched congressional race in Florida might not have a televised debate because the campaigns disagree over who should be invited."

    Incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson refuses to debate Republican challenger Dan Webster unless lesser known candidates are invited to the stage. Webster, a former state senator and the GOP standard-bearer, says he wants to take on Grayson solo. ...

    In addition to the two major-party candidates, the Nov. 2 ballot in Florida's 8th Congressional district also will include Florida Tea Party candidate Peg Dunmire and independent George Metcalfe.

    The choice of which candidates would participate is a calculated one for both camps. It is to Grayson's advantage to have Dunmire and Metcalfe there because they'd likely peel conservative votes away from Webster.

    "Webster wants me and Peg Dunmire to go away," Metcalfe said. "He wants to frame this as a two-party election. This is not an exclusive boys' club.''

    Dunmire called her exclusion "elitist."
    "Candidates debate having debate".

    The teabaggers will whine for a moment, but will of course flock to Webster in the end.

    What say you ... Mr. Scott

    "Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Francis has agreed with the city of Weston that a law passed last year by the state Legislature would create unconstitutional expenses for local governments. He threw the ill-advised bill in the trash can. Gov. Charlie Crist, who signed the Community Renewal Act, should not appeal." "On growth law, judge protects taxpayers".

    "All that stood between the GOP and dynastic dominance were ..."

    Thomas Tryon: "When the Republican Party gained firm control of Florida politics in the late 1990s, all that stood between the GOP and dynastic dominance were ... the Republican Party and its members." "Tryon: GOP's challenge is to keep it together".

    "Frequent filer"

    "Frequent filer Josue Larose runs for governor, raises questions". "$14.2 Million Write-In 'Challenges' Division of Elections".

    Pathetic turnout

    "Final turnout figures for the primary election are in: statewide, the 2.43 million votes cast were 21.9 percent of registered voters, according to the state Division of Elections. Leading the pack were the smaller counties, like Liberty, where more than 51 percent of the 4,237 voters turned out. ... Miami-Dade, 17.2 percent, Palm Beach, 16.2 percent, Broward, 14.7 percent". "21.9% of state's registered voters in cast ballots in primary, final figures show".

    "Perverse political hubris at work here"

    Daniel Ruth complains, "so it was the other day as we attempted to enjoy our first cocktails of the evening while watching the news only to be exposed — again and again and again — with yet another wave of campaign commercials."

    Couldn't we just have a break from this silliness — just a short one? Haven't we earned it?

    There is a perverse political hubris at work here — that the general public is sitting at their kitchen counters breathlessly, anxiously awaiting the next commercial pimping a candidate's fitness for office or why their opponent is a vile agent of darkness who makes Saddam Hussein look like Dr. Seuss.

    Really, do either Rubio, Sink or the Committee of Sleazy Mysterious Touts for Rick Scott honestly believe if they merely went away until after Labor Day they would lose potential votes to be cast more than two months from now?

    It is estimated that during the recent primary mosh pit, the average television viewer in the Tampa Bay area was treated to 266 commercials — most of them portraying Bill McCollum as a shiftless poltroon — hawking the candidacy of Rick Scott. Madonna hasn't exposed herself this much.

    Imagine — if you dare — what we can expect going into the general election.

    Of course the argument for the airwaves carpet bombing is that it is important for the public to get to know these candidates. But the problem, unfortunately, is — we know, we know.

    At the risk of committing heresy — could we just know a little less?
    Much more here: "Call it a campaign, but it’s more like torture".

    Union hating fun

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Palm Beach County teachers are forced to watch from the sidelines, because their union, in a petulant fit, opted not join in the Race to the Top fun." "Palm union's petulance cost teachers a bundle".


    "Just two weeks after publicly pumping up U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary race against Jeff Greene, state senator-to-be Maria Sachs yesterday pulled a switch and endorsed Meek’s general election rival Gov. Charlie Crist." "Sachs' defection to Crist in Senate race strange, Meek tells reporters". Related: "Meek, Thurman: Few Dems will defect".

    Taj Mahal audit

    "Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, was chairman of the House committee that oversaw court expenditures."

    Dean says he rejected a plea from Hawkes and Thomas to fund the courthouse after Dean toured the existing courthouse. He said he rejected it because the state was slashing budgets, and he said the courts had more important needs than the construction of a new courthouse for the appellate court.

    Dean said Hawkes and Thomas indicated they would go around him to get the funding they needed.

    "He (Hawkes) just looked at me and grinned and said, 'I got friends,' '' Dean said.

    Dean said the two judges had help from Richard Corcoran, then chief of staff for House Speaker Marco Rubio, and from Hawkes' son Jeremiah, who was general counsel for Rubio.
    "Alex Sink orders audit of 'Taj Mahal' courthouse finances". See also "Sink orders audit of building deal".

    Skip the scotch and read the cross tabs

    The wingers on The Orlando Sentinel editorial board are outraged that Florida's overworked, underpaid (they haven't had a raise in years), state employees have ... get ready for this ... not had their pensions gutted. They whine this morning: "Most legislators panicked at the idea of antagonizing the state's politically powerful public employee unions in an election year." "Make state pensions more equitable, more affordable and more sustainable".

    Of course, "equitable, affordable and sustainable" pensions are code words for cutting pensions. The editors then whine about "apologists [who] bring up poor pay for public employees, ignoring a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that shows public employees make more than their private counterparts". Of course, the editors are merely passing along the propaganda they hear from their Chamber buddies at the club - we urge the editors to skip the scotch and read the cross tabs.

    To complete the whinge, the editors look adoringly into the eyes of Rick Scott: "only Republican Rick Scott is proposing to raise employee pension contributions. Good for him."

    Related: "Millions in salary, pension cuts in front of Miami Commission on Tuesday".

    In the heart of darkness

    "Rubio campaigning in Pasco and Hernando". See also "Warm welcomes greet Rubio in Pasco, Hernando visits".

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