Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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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 17, 2010

Sink taps Smith as running mate

    "Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink will choose a former state attorney and Gainesville state senator Rod Smith to be her running mate for governor in an pre-primary announcement on Thursday in West Palm Beach. Sources close to the Sink campaign said that she selected Smith after a two-month search of candidates that was narrowed to four finalists, including state Sen. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat who is in a tight primary battle for attorney general, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, and Sarasota state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald."
    Smith, 60, a former Alachua County state attorney who lost the 2006 Democratic primary for governor, could not be reached for comment, but a major fundraiser who spoke recently with Smith said he considered this "his last chance for public service.''

    Smith, who served in the state Senate from 2000-2006, was state attorney for the Eighth Judicial District from 1992-2000, during which time he successfully prosescuted serial killer Danny Rolling.

    Both Sink and her husband, Bill McBride, himself an unsuccessful candidate for governor, had been actively courting candidates since June, with the hopes of naming a running mate in time for the Democrat's Jefferson/Jackson Day dinner in July, a source said.
    "Democrat Alex Sink to name former state senator as running mate". See also "Democrat Alex Sink to tap Rod Smith as running mate in Florida governor's race".

    Webster and the Teabaggers ...

    ... can't find the words "Social Security" in the U.S. Constitution.

    "Former Florida state Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster, one of several Republicans seeking the nomination to run against Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, spoke out in favor of cutting Social Security benefits to balance the budget at a West Orlando Tea Party-sponsored forum on Thursday night in Winter Garden." "Alan Grayson opponent advocates cutting Social Security to balance budget".

    Never mind the hypocrisy

    "Despite top state officials saying health care reform is unconstitutional, Florida will get $1 million." "Florida gets money tied to federal health care reform".

    Making sense of Florida's recent polls

    William March writes that, for those "following Florida politics closely, you were probably bewildered by clashing poll results in the governor and Senate races reported this weekend."

    Depending on which poll you looked at, Bill McCollum was either 12 points ahead of Rick Scott in the Republican primary for governor, or 4 points ahead, or 10 points behind.

    In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Kendrick Meek was either 14 points ahead of Jeff Greene or 4 points behind.

    In the Senate general election matchup, a three-way race with Republican Marco Rubio, no-party candidate Gov. Charlie Crist and Meek or Greene as the Democrat, Crist either hung onto a narrow lead over Rubio or slipped to 5 points behind.

    What happened?

    The answer provides an interesting lesson in the vagaries of political polling – in particular, the difficulty in polling in low-turnout, volatile primary elections.
    March explains here: "Who's ahead in polls depends on methods used by pollsters".

    "One more fake education summit"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Doubts and shortcomings concerning this year's FCAT scores and school grades should make Floridians even happier that Gov. Crist vetoed the Legislature's punitive "merit pay" bill. In theory, it would have based teacher retention and pay primarily on student gains as measured by the next generation of high-stakes tests. We support the move to end-of-course exams. But the tests don't exist. Until valid tests are created, with teacher input, that pinnacle of accountability, like the FCAT, is just one more fake education summit on which politicians can plant their flags." "School grades meaningless: Florida can't phase out this failed system fast enough.".

    Thomas loves his Rubio

    Mike Thomas blathers on this morning about how "Republicans very much need a successful Marco Rubio in Washington. ... he is the most important Republican running this November." "Marco Rubio is most important Republican this fall: Here's why".

    "Bits and Pieces"

    Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces".

    Mario Diaz-Balart vacancy scramble

    "When U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart announced in February that he would run for his brother's more Republican-friendly seat in Congress, he set off a scramble to replace him. Suddenly, there would be an open race for a post that Democrats came tantalizingly close to picking up two years ago. The closely watched contest has not disappointed so far."

    Seven candidates are vying to represent the 25th Congressional District that spans western Miami-Dade, eastern Collier and Monroe counties. Five of them -- two Democrats and three Republicans -- will face off in the Aug. 24 primary. (The two others, Whig Party candidate Craig Porter and Roly Arrojo of the Tea Party, will not be on the ballot until November.)

    The general election race is widely expected to come down to a battle between Republican state Rep. David Rivera, the Florida House budget chief who already represents much of the district, and Democrat Joe Garcia, who almost defeated Diaz-Balart in 2008. The two frontrunners boast strong name recognition and impressive war chests, and in a sign of things to come, their campaigns have already sparred over federal stimulus money and immigration reform.

    But first, the two must defeat their opponents -- all running for office for the first time -- in the primary.
    "Rounding out the Democratic field is union leader Luis Meurice."
    In a district that leans Republican, with some neighborhoods long-suffering from foreclosures and unemployment, the five candidates have stressed their plans to create jobs and jump-start the economy.

    Meurice, a 32-year member of the International Longshoremen's Association, has touted his experience outside of politics, representing union members in disputes for higher wages and better health benefits.

    "People right now are looking for somebody they can relate to,'' said Meurice, who has the backing of the South Florida AFL-CIO, which supported Garcia in 2008.
    "Primary pits names against newbies".

    Country clubbers open the checkbooks

    "As Rick Scott freely spends his fortune in his bid to become governor, Republican rival Bill McCollum is fighting to keep up by spending the millions of others. McCollum's allies make up a long list: Big Sugar, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Progess Energy, real estate developers, road builders, beer distributors, car dealers, nursing homes and wealthy individuals like Fort Lauderdale entrepreneur H. Wayne Huizenga and Dallas philanthropist Peter O'Donnell. All have written hefty five- and six-figure checks to a pair of political committees controlled by McCollum, the state attorney general, as the two men battle for the nomination in next Tuesday's primary." "Scott, McCollum spending big dollars in GOP gubernatorial primary".

    "Equal parts role model, cheerleader and breadwinner"

    "The crowded race to replace Kendrick Meek is about more than winning a rare open seat to Congress. With election to the district that stretches from Overtown to Pembroke Pines comes the almost deified title of being the voice of South Florida's black communities in Washington, a position that entails being equal parts role model, cheerleader and breadwinner for some of Miami-Dade County's poorest areas." "9 seek rare House seat replacing Kendrick Meek".

    "Attack, after attack, after attack."

    "Fueled by unprecedented amounts of money and a bottomless barrel of attacks, the primary campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate have trapped Floridians in two escalating TV ad wars."

    Attack, after attack, after attack.

    In the Republican primary for governor, self-made millionaire Rick Scott is carpeting television screens with accusations that Attorney General Bill McCollum voted in Congress to raise taxes and fees 42 times.

    And McCollum and his advocates are claiming in ads that Scott, a former health care executive, is profiting off porn, illegal immigrants and fraud.

    In the Senate race, Democrats Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek are using their 30-second spots to debate who, essentially, is a bigger crook.

    And that may be putting it kindly.
    "Truth and TV ad wars". See also "Negative ads can get voters to the polls, professor says".

    Dem AG contest

    "Just a week before election day, more than one in three Democrats remains undecided about who to vote for in the party's contest for attorney general." "With 11 Point Lead Over Dave Aronberg, Dan Gelber's Sitting Pretty in Dem AG Race".

    Greer gets cash back

    "Crist's independent U.S. Senate campaign is refunding nearly $10,000 to Jim Greer after the indicted former Republican Party chairman asked for the money to help pay for his legal defense."

    "As you know circumstances have caused me to need money to defend myself and take care of my family,'' Greer wrote in an Aug. 5 letter. "I know sending the money back is hard, but with what has happened it may be politically beneficial for you to do.''

    Greer, 48, faces six felony charges, including organized fraud and money laundering, after authorities said he used a secret fundraising contract to funnel party donations to a consulting firm he owned.

    Greer and his wife made maximum contributions -- $4,800 each -- to Crist in May 2009. Crist's campaign first disputed the letter's authenticity but agreed Monday to return the money after Times/Herald inquiry.

    The move served as an inconvenient reminder for Crist about his close ties to Greer, the man he put at the party's helm when he was elected governor in 2006.
    "Crist returns $10,000 to Greer". See also "Crist to Refund Greer Contributions".

    "No, we really meant it"

    Howard Troxler: "If the voters decide Amendment 8 is reasonable, well, they get the last say. But given that the government has opposed class-size limits from the beginning, that it has waited until now to propose Amendment 8, that it has set up artificial penalties and a budget crisis, and that this is part of a greater philosophical animosity to citizen petitions, I would not mind in the slightest if the voters said, 'No, we really meant it.'" "Amendment 8 asks Florida voters to reconsider class sizes".

    The poor things

    Gary Fineout: "Florida lobbyists reported receiving less money during the first six months of this year compared with the same time period in 2009. This means that professional lobbyists were paid slightly less for work they did during the recently completed 2010 session. An analysis done by the Florida Tribune of new lobbying compensation reports turned in this past weekend shows that the median amount for the first two quarters was $61.8 million or $2.72 million less than the first two quarters of 2009." "Lobbying income dipped during first half of year".

    "Elitist junta of jodhpurs controlling the RPOF"

    Daniel Ruth: "We sure do love our cherished freedoms, our beloved rights, our rock-ribbed values — unless, of course, we actually have to defend them."

    And so even though it was a fairly fleeting comment, once again Gov. Charlie Crist offered up a compelling example of just how liberating it can be to shed the ideological strictures that come with being associated with the elitist junta of jodhpurs controlling the Republican Party these days.

    The newly minted independent candidate for U.S. Senate said he agreed with President Barack Obama's view that building a mosque near the 9/11 ground zero site in New York was perfectly appropriate and in keeping with fundamental American principles protecting religious expression.

    Crist could have taken the easy route and joined the chorus of political bloviating phonies decrying the very idea that a mosque might be built within blocks of ground zero.
    "An inconvenient U.S. Constitution". Related: "Rick Scott: New York mosque a ’slap in the face for every fallen American’ (Updated)" and "Florida Politicians Pile on in Ground-Zero Mosque Debate" ("Crist backs Obama while Scott, McCollum, Sink, Rubio and Greene oppose him").


    "Universities across America -- including Florida -- are sagging under increasing layers of bureaucratic bloat, a new research study reported Tuesday." "'Bloated' Administration Fuels College Costs".


    "The Florida Energy and Climate Commission decided Friday to allocate $13.8 million in unspent stimulus money to cover a portion of the state’s unpaid solar rebates. Even with that measure, though, more than $40 million in unfunded rebate claims will persist." "Commission funds portion of unpaid solar rebates, but state still owes millions".


    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard commandant who is the federal government’s point man in the BP oil disaster, makes an important point: The nation has a responsibility to not only clean up the spill but to learn from it. In a teleconference Monday with the Times’ editorial board, Allen pointed out several areas where the government needs to strengthen its response. These reforms should be pursued now even as the cleanup continues and the government decides how to cap the wellhead for good." "Sensible reforms for the next spill".

    See also "Oil spill recovery grant includes $3 million for mental health care in Florida", "" and "".

    "The cavalry arrived Monday"

    "For financially strapped Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, the cavalry arrived Monday in the form of Bill Clinton, who rallied the Democratic troops Monday at three back-to-back rallies in South Florida. The popular former president's appearances offered a shot of free publicity for Meek, a Miami congressman who's been outspent more than 5-1 on television by Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene." "Clinton lends his Democratic star power to Kendrick Meek in South Florida". See also "Bill Clinton Brings Star Power to Kendrick Meek Campaign". Related: "Meek Opens 15-Point Lead Over Greene".

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