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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 29, 2010

Teabaggers have captured the RPOF

    Check out "Webster and the accidental neo-Nazi". Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

    Teabaggers have captured the RPOF

    "The tea party movement muscled its way into the American political psyche over the past year with huge rallies, angry voters and colorful rhetoric. It’s not clear how much voters are responding, but in Florida, at least, the Republican Party appears to have taken notice."

    Nearly all of the statewide candidates on the GOP ticket have embraced – and been embraced by - the tea party movement, the group of disenfranchised, mostly conservative voters who paraded the call for a change from the status quo over the past year, spurred at least in part by opposition to federal health care reform and the Obama administration in general.

    Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick Scott has sounded tea party themes and showcased tea party paraphernalia on his campaign tour bus.

    Senate nominee Marco Rubio became the immediate darling of the movement, gracing the cover of a New York Times Magazine titled “The First Senator From the Tea Party?”

    And the woman who is arguably the tea party movement’s leader, Sarah Palin, is stumping for attorney general candidate Pam Bondi.
    "The result is a party slate that is more conservative than others in recent history. In 2006, Gov. Charlie Crist topped the ticket, putting a political moderate at the head of the Republican Party."
    While the more formal Tea Party itself may not have actually convinced any candidates to run as representatives of that party, political scientists Susan MacManus aruges the group had a strong impact nonetheless, dictating the issues that GOP candidates have taken on and even the tone, with which they’ve campaigned.
    "State GOP Slate Reflects Tea Party Movement".

    Campaigns to go negative early and often

    Eager for a respite from the political attacks of the primary season? Anxious for a nuanced debate over Florida's jobless rate, the housing market, the cost of healthcare? Turn off the television. But for a brief post-primary lull, the airwaves are expected to be flooded until Nov. 2 with attacks and counterattacks" "Experts expect to see Florida campaigns go negative early, often".

    "Some Democrats see a change in the air"

    William March: "On the morning of Nov. 4, 1998, Florida Republicans awoke to a new political world - one they controlled."

    The previous day's election meant that for the first time in modern history, a Republican governor, Jeb Bush, would take office along with Republican majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

    That election led to a decade of GOP dominance of state politics.

    Republicans used the power of the Legislature and governor's office to draw GOP-friendly districts for state legislators and members of Congress, to influence the outcome of presidential elections, and to twist the arms of industries and their lobbyists for political donations.

    After 2002, when the new districting plans took effect, Democrats became virtually irrelevant in state politics. They have since regained ground, but remain the minority party.

    Some Democrats, however, see a change in the air.
    "2010 election may be pivotal".

    "Endorsement came with a caveat"

    "Days before Florida’s primary, President Obama finally did what Rep. Kendrick Meek’s supporters had been begging him to do for some time: He showed up in the Sunshine State and referred to Meek as 'the next senator from the state of Florida.' But the in-person endorsement came with a caveat." "Meek won his primary, but still struggles to rally Democrats".

    "Republican wave" or "enthusiasm deficit"

    "Despite outnumbering Republicans by more than 612,000 in Florida, Democrats saw 912,044 voters for the Democratic Senate primary, while nearly 1.3 million Republicans cast ballots in the GOP primary for governor. Turnout was about 32 percent for Republicans, 19.7 percent for Democrats." "'Enthusiastic' GOP gets out the voters in Florida".

    "Florida Republicans angry about President Barack Obama's health-care reforms and government bailout defied the rain and flocked to the polls Tuesday, a turnout that dwarfed the Democratic total and bodes well for GOP candidates in November."

    There's just one problem: They nominated Rick Scott, a gubernatorial candidate whose checkered business history complicates the mission of now uniting Republicans and their major donors behind a ticket, according to many party leaders and donors.
    "Republicans touted Tuesday's voter turnout as evidence that the party was fired up."
    Whit Ayres, a national GOP strategist and senior advisor to Marco Rubio, pointed out that more than 1.25 million Republicans voted in the Scott-McCollum primary, while only about 912,000 Democrats turned out for their U.S. Senate primary between Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene. In the GOP Senate primary, Rubio — running virtually unopposed — received more than 1 million votes, Ayres said, or about 150,000 more than the total cast in the Meek-Greene race.

    Of those who voted early or by absentee ballot, Republicans had a huge 190,000-vote advantage, with 572,579 compared with 382,544 Democrats.

    Ayres said Republicans enjoy a "huge intensity" edge over Democrats. He said his firm recently conducted a poll for the Republican National Committee and found that 53 percent of Republicans said they were "extremely interested" in the fall elections. About 43 percent of independents and 35 percent of Democrats answered the same way.

    "We've passed the point now where there's a question about whether there will or will not be a Republican wave this fall," Ayres said. "There will definitely be a Republican wave. The only question now is the size of that wave."

    Florida Democrats dismissed Tuesday's turnout gap, with state-party spokesman Eric Jotkoff noting that GOP turnout fell well short of the 1.7 million Scott's campaign had predicted might show up.

    "Rick Scott's own analysis," Jotkoff said, "shows a major enthusiasm deficit."
    Scott's GOP constituency has largely been reduced to the Central-North Florida area:
    Along the critical Interstate 4 corridor from Daytona Beach through Orlando to Tampa Bay, Scott spent $18.2 million on TV commercials — 45 percent of the total $39.6 million he devoted to the air war. That compared with McCollum's $8.7 million — which was 64 percent of his total TV money.

    As a result, McCollum lost six of the eight counties in the Central Florida television market — all but Seminole and Orange — and eked out only an 8,092-vote advantage in a region he represented for 20 years in Congress. In comparison, Scott amassed a 24,768-vote lead in his home turf in the Naples-Fort Myers media market.

    Meanwhile, Scott cleaned up in conservative North Florida counties and outspent McCollum heavily in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, where McCollum was banking on his historical Hispanic support and didn't spend much money on television. At the same time, Scott forced McCollum to break with his supporters in the Hispanic community and embrace a hard-line, Arizona-style immigration bill.

    McCollum won 61 percent of the Miami-Dade vote, but the turnout was only 17 percent. The 27,000-vote advantage McCollum drew from Miami-Dade and Broward was almost entirely offset by Scott's 22,000-vote advantage in the eight-county Jacksonville television market.
    "GOP primary turnout bodes well for November".

    They leapt off to vote for Scott

    "A 48-foot yacht has mysteriously run ashore on Florida's Gulf Coast west of St. Petersburg." "Luxury yacht washes up on Gulf Coast".

    Help us, please, Mr. Obama

    "Florida's Department of Transportation is seeking more federal funding to boost high-speed rail and regular passenger train service." "Fla. seeks more funding for train projects".

    Form over substance

    "Rick Scott's campaign a massively funded marketing machine".

    Credit to, ahem ... "unions"!?!

    No, that's night a typo. Rather, a traditional media outlet refrains from urinating upon a group of employees who have the temerity to get together and act collectively to improve their working conditions: "Florida's state officials, school districts and teachers unions deserve extra credit for winning up to $700 million in the federal Race to the Top initiative. The grant money will support efforts over the next four years that have the potential to transform Florida's public school system." "Race for the grant".

    Wingnut in the house

    "Despite the dismal turnout for Jacksonville anti-abortion group Heroic Media’s 'An Evening of Hope' event, keynote speaker Sarah Palin still managed to stray from pregnancy to politics." "Palin goes rogue, uses anti-abortion event to tout her stance on health care reform".

    "Market forces" in action

    "The size of Florida’s state-created reinsurance fund has dramatically reduced in size this storm season. A combination of market forces, as well as a higher cost now attached to certain types of coverage, has resulted in a much smaller Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. The Cat Fund as it is known had up to $8 billion worth of coverage available for sale in its top optional layer of coverage. But insurers this year only bought $1.3 billion." "Florida's massive reinsurance fund is much smaller this storm season".

    "Their own words"

    "Florida's candidates in their own words".

    "Scott will do to Sink what he did to McCollum"

    Mike Thomas: "Attacking ['the corrupt, rusting machinery of political parties and special-interest groups'] was a key part of Alex Sink's battle plan back when McCollum was a shoo-in to face her in November. That's what you get with one-party rule by career politicians. But Scott beat her to the punch."

    Why would he now put himself in those same crosshairs by embracing the state party?

    And why would he put himself in our media crosshairs either?

    Let's be honest. We hate the guy. We think he's a crook. We think people who vote for him are a bunch of dumb bigots.

    We will profess objectivity in this election, just like we did in Obama v. McCain.

    But we're [the media] in the tank for Alex Sink.

    Scott will do to her what he did to McCollum. He'll pound her with populist positions from the right and wait for her to crack. And we won't be able to save her.

    Sink is worse at dodging and shifting than McCollum.
    "Rick Scott will become Florida's governor if he sticks to his style".

    "NPA's could hold the key"

    "Looking ahead to the Nov. 2 general election, the truly independent voter, the NPA's (No Party Affiliation), could hold the key in tilting the balance of the year's closest contests -- particularly between the increasingly polarized major political parties. They were the fastest-growing segment of registered voters, even before Gov. Charlie Crist bolted the Republican Party for an NPA designation in his run for the U.S. Senate." "Candidates put faith in No Party Affiliation voters".

    Poor Bill

    "McCollum said he was defenseless against Rick Scott's biggest weapon — his deep pockets." Especially damaging in a primary dominated by right wingers, however, was McCollum's brief display of decency: "the attorney general saying Florida likely would never invoke anything similar to the Arizona immigration law was – in the minds of many conservatives — an early bull's-eye for Scott." "McCollum: Lack of money caused defeat".

    FlaDem "unity rallies"

    "Florida Democrats kicked off their run to November's elections Saturday with a spirited show of party unity and promises of a rugged race to reverse a dozen years of Republican rule in state government."

    "Our grassroots can beat Rick Scott any day — any day!" Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the nominee for governor, told about 350 party activists who fanned themselves with blue spray-painted signs proclaiming "UNITY" in a sweltering pavilion of the Florida State Fairgrounds.
    "Dems kick off November election efforts".

    "Six Democratic candidates held a 'Unity Rally' at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Saturday, chock full of sound bites and thumbs-ups, but without many specifics. About 300 supporters cheered as the candidates took to the stage in the second of three such events. The first was in St. Petersburg a couple hours earlier, and the last one was Saturday night in Orlando. Attendees were asked to sign up to make calls and help register new voters." "'Fired up' candidates rally their base". See also "Democratic candidates rally at UCF" and "Sink to Dems: Grassroots, not money will win election".

    RPOFers in Tally ... unemployment climbs to 11.4 percent

    Randy Schultz: "So voters should fire all congressional incumbents, most of whom are Democrats, right? Sure. Check the numbers."

    In January 2007, when Democrats won control of the House and Senate, the nation's unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. Since then, it has more than doubled, to 9.5 percent. It got as high as 10 percent, and hasn't been below 9 percent since April 2009.

    Using that same logic, though, voters also should fire all the incumbents in the Florida Legislature, most of whom are Republicans. In January 2007, even as the real estate bubble shrunk, Florida's unemployment rate was 3.3 percent. Since then, it hasn't just doubled. It hasn't just tripled. It's gone up to 11.4 percent.

    Unlike congressional Democrats, Tallahassee Republicans can't claim that they inherited an economy heading for the cliff. The GOP has controlled the Governor's Mansion and Legislature for 11 years. But you can imagine the incumbents' defense: Hey, Florida can't escape what's happening across the nation as we go through the toughest times in decades.

    To a degree, that's true. You also can't expect Florida to be like North Dakota, where the jobless rate is 3.6 percent but the population of the state is half that of Palm Beach County.

    Still, Colorado, like Florida, is a fast-growing state, but that state's unemployment rate is 8 percent. Minnesota, hardly a backwater, is at 6.8 percent. Among other large states, New York and Minnesota have unemployment rates almost one-third lower than Florida's.
    "Beware of false promises on 'fixing' the economy".

    Drag a dollar bill through a polo game ...

    "The GOP establishment essentially locked down Florida Republican money for Bill McCollum during the primary, but now it looks like Republican lobbyists/fundraisers/legislative leaders are jumping as fast as they can to get on the Rick Scott train." "GOP heavy-hitter$ lining up for Rick Scott and Jeb may join unity tour".

    Keeping the wingnuts happy

    "Crist says he'd have voted for health care, then retracts—'I misspoke'".

    Marching in lockstep

    "After a bruising Republican primary for governor in which millionaire Rick Scott ousted the establishment candidate, Attorney General Bill McCollum, Broward Republicans gathered over eggs, grits and potatoes Saturday morning to declare unity. Both Scott and McCollum were invited. Neither showed." "Broward GOP stresses solidarity".

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