"Depending on who you talk to, the latest upset by a tea party-backed conservative candidate either signals a Republican surge in November or bodes well for Democrats vying for mainstream votes."
In Florida, the nation's largest political battleground, the lessons from the primary season that wrapped up Tuesday are even harder to discern."Tea party success puts Florida to the test". Related: "Tea party raising risks for GOP?".
The state featured one of the earliest and most dramatic battles for the proverbial soul of the Republican Party when a grass-roots favored conservative, Marco Rubio, overtook the moderate Gov. Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race. Crist bowed out of the GOP primary to avoid a rout and is now running as an independent against Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek in the Nov. 2 general election.
But the unprecedented, three way-race in Florida defies the classic tea-party narrative, in which an ideologically pure political outsider triumphs over the weak-kneed establishment.
Rubio evades personal responsibility
"Rubio, who was state House speaker when a controversial courthouse in Tallahassee called the 'Taj Mahal' was put in the state budget, is denying responsibility for it." "Rubio denies responsibility for 'Taj Mahal' courthouse funding".
"Unlike in past elections, independent Charlie Crist's name won't be at the top of the November U.S. Senate ballot." "Crist's name will be 9th on ballot".
"The tartuffery in the land of make-believe"
Daniel Ruth: " How long does it take a pol to go from claiming to be a crusading outsider who will ride to the rescue of that den of iniquity in Tallahassee, to being a monied-up insider darling of special interests?"
About the same time it takes to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination. "But wait! The tartuffery in the land of make-believe was only just getting started."
Thrasher emerged from a Republican Party board meeting as man in full harrumph, accusing Gov. Charlie Crist of being part of a now defrocked GOP cabal that misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars. He cited a trip the now independent U.S. Senate candidate took to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where apparently considerable sums of money were spent on … well, they did go to Las Vegas.Much more here: "Rick Scott, Mr. Outsider, is clearly on the inside now".
There were just a few itsty-bitsy problems with John Thrasher's discovery of his inner J. Edgar Hoover. Although the chairman was blithely thrilled to accuse a political rival with engaging in more questionable — and by implication illegal — free-spending, Thrasher refused to offer any proof.
That kind of McCarthyism sort of makes you wonder whether on the day they taught due process while the chairman was attending law school at Florida State University, he wasn't otherwise engaged in burning a witch.
"Florida GOP needs to come clean on its spending scandal"
Update: "GOP to release audit of party finances".
The Tampa Tribune editors: "State Republican Party Chairman John Thrasher says an internal audit found that Gov. Charlie Crist may have spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" inappropriately."
Yet Thrasher, who is also a Jacksonville state senator, hasn't revealed any details. He promises to release the "forensic audit" Friday. It will need close review."Thrasher should put up or shut up".
Thrasher and the Republican hierarchy have been trying to trash Crist since he abandoned the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent.
Thrasher is a former House speaker and influential lobbyist known for bulldozing opponents. He is hardly the most credible of sources.
One thing is clear: The Florida GOP needs to come clean on its spending scandal.
Thank you, Mr. Obama
"Feds give Central Florida $48 million to battle foreclosure blight".
"Southwest Florida flavor"
"The newest upper tier of the state House leadership team will have a distinctly Southwest Florida flavor. Incoming Speaker Dean Cannon Wednesday named Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, his budget chief and Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, his rules chairman." "New House leadership has Southwest flavor".
To the extent one believes anything the Heritage Foundation has to say ...
"If Congress fails to extend Bush-era tax cuts this year, Florida retirees will suffer a blow to their wallets -- adding to their health-care pains, a Heritage Foundation report says." "Florida Seniors Queasy Over Obamanomics".
What a blast
"Guns and crime took center stage in the gubernatorial contest Wednesday as both nominees, Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink, showed off their endorsements."
Earlier Wednesday the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and the United Sportsmen of Florida (USF) endorsed Scott for governor, citing his strong support of the Second Amendment."Rick Scott, Alex Sink Bring Out Endorsements on Guns, Crime". Related: "Campaign: NRA backs Scott in Fla. governor's race".
“We sincerely appreciate your support of Second Amendment, self-defense, and anti-crime issues,” Marion Hammer, past president of the NRA and executive director of the USF, wrote to Scott. “Your position on pro-sportsmen, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-freedom issues has earned you our endorsement and our gratitude.”
The NRA gave Scott an “A” grade and the USF rated the candidate as “pro-gun.” Scott had received an “A” grade from the NRA during his hotly contested primary contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Attorney General Bill McCollum, whom Scott bested in the primary, received a “B” grade from the NRA, though he had earned higher marks from the organization in the past.
“I am pleased to once again have the support of the NRA in this campaign,” said Scott. “As a lifelong firearms enthusiast and hunter, I am glad that the NRA has chosen to endorse me. As governor, I will work tirelessly to ensure that Floridians’ Second Amendment rights are protected.”
While Scott was trumpeting his endorsement, Sink had one of her own.
Having already won the endorsements of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Benevolent Association, Sink continued to show off her crime fighting credentials Wednesday when she unveiled the backing of 27 current and former county sheriffs, including Sheriff Jerry Demings of Orange County and Sheriff Larry Campbell of Leon County.
RPOFers sit on their hands
"Payments for two popular green energy rebate programs are stalled because of a high-profile budget disagreement between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature. Florida is in line for $31.5 million in federal stimulus money for the 2006 solar rebate program and a new program that helps people modernize their air conditioners." "Energy rebates stalled amid tiff between Crist, lawmakers".
"Alex Diaz de la Portilla vehemently denies ..."
"A Miami senator wrote a letter to support a Miami Beach company involved in a contract dispute after his brother's campaign received cash from the company's owner." "Link denied between letter, campaign cash". Related: "Senate leader intervenes in prison contract after brother's campaign gets check".
"To infinity and beyond"
Mike Thomas: "This is the latest plan NASA is considering to get us to infinity and beyond." "NASA incompetent — or just lying to us?".
"Frivolous, questionable, even fraudulent expenses"
Fred Grimm on how "staffers and stalwarts with the state Republican Party managed to forget about their own Visas and MasterCards. Instead, they charged frivolous, questionable, even fraudulent expenses to the party." "GOP business has new meaning".
Scott's boneheaded ""Rhetoric is clashing with reality"
The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "Rhetoric is clashing with reality in Florida, where Rick Scott -- the Republican nominee for governor -- and key GOP legislators disagree over the state's use of federal stimulus funds."
Scott has repeatedly stated that Florida should not have used any federal dollars connected to economic-stimulus initiatives and should not take any more."Budget rhetoric meets reality 'Failed stimulus'? Republican legislators beg to differ". Related: "Scott, Sink differ sharply on how to cut, reshape state government".
This week, the state Legislature's budget panel authorized Florida to spend an additional $2 billion in stimulus funds during the next four years.
The decision is in line with decisions by the Republican-dominated Legislature to accept billions in stimulus dollars and use them to preserve important programs and prevent budget cuts even deeper than those that have been made.
As of July 31, according to the Florida Office of Economic Recovery, the state was expected to receive $21.7 billion in stimulus funds -- not including additional reimbursements for Medicaid or the value of federal loans that prevented the Legislature from having to raise the unemployment-benefits tax levied on businesses.
Unlike a lot of Republican legislators who groused about the "failed stimulus" initiative and its effects on the federal deficit, but then willingly accepted the money, Scott has taken a dogmatic position. Not only does Scott oppose the stimulus, but claims he could have "figured out how to balance the budget without it."
"Campaign roundup for Wednesday".
"Judicial pincer movement"
"Crist may face a twin-pronged legal attack by members of the political party he used to lead - a judicial pincer movement aimed at cutting his U.S. Senate campaign off at the knees."
The former Republican, turned breakaway independent, continues to lead the U.S. Senate race in most polls. But a lawsuit facing a pivotal ruling next week could freeze millions of dollars in disputed campaign contributions now in his account and make it virtually impossible for him to mount an effective final push in his three-way race against Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek."GOP Tries Full Court Press on Crist".
The Republican Party of Florida also will decide by next week whether it will go to court to force Crist to repay thousands of dollars in American Express charges leaders say a forensic audit of party spending showed he rang up during the tumultuous reign of ousted and indicted former chairman Jim Greer, Crist's hand-picked party boss.
A judge in Naples is expected to rule Tuesday on whether Crist can spend money he raised while campaigning as a Republican.
"Attorney General Bill McCollum said Wednesday that he was "cautiously optimistic" after meeting with Ken Feinberg, the administrator of a $20-billion fund for Gulf oil spill disaster victims." "McCollum 'cautiously optimistic' after talk with BP claims czar".
Spend it already
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "If Florida and the rest of the nation haven't come close to spending the bulk of the money from the first stimulus plan 18 months after it passed, why should anyone be confident that they'll do any better with the second stimulus' $50 billion?" "Florida lags in allocating stimulus dollars".
"If the new Reuters/Ipsos poll in Florida is correct, Charlie Crist is now a good deal closer to getting passed for second place than he is to frontrunning Republican Marco Rubio. The survey shows Rubio at 40% of the vote, with Crist back at 26% of the vote and Democrat Kendrick Meek at 21%. In an interesting twist, Ipsos polled the possibility of a head-to-head Rubio/Crist matchup. That race would be a coinflip, with Rubio up by a single point (46-45). They did not, in an even more interesting twist, pursue a Rubio/Meek trial heat." "FL-Sen: Another poll confirms Rubio/Meek surge, Crist plummet".
"'My fellow right-wing extremists'"
"For decades, Republicans have accused Democratic candidates of being too liberal for Florida. This year, Democrats are accusing Republicans of being too far to the Right."
Congressman Ron Klein -- a Democrat running hard in a Broward/Palm Beach county swing district -- constantly calls Republican opponent Allen West “too extreme for South Florida.”"Are Republicans 'too extreme' for Florida?".
Klein unfurled a TV ad on Monday that features a video clip of West telling a crowd of supporters: “I’m just honored to be here today with all my fellow right-wing extremists.”
Klein’s ad also depicts West as a threat to Social Security and Medicare.
West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, has raised more than $4 million while drawing support from the conservative tea party movement. He has often taunted Klein and fellow Democrats with sarcastic references and may have been speaking ironically when he referred to fellow extremists.
Sink respects picket line
"Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek arrived outside the Kravis Center around lunchtime Wednesday as roughly 50 union members carrying signs greeted hundreds of Palm Beach County leaders." "Meek greets union members at Kravis; Sink vows not to cross picket line". Related: "Meek-Crist Debate Canceled Over Labor Dispute".
Just a another RPOF front group
"NRA backs Scott in governor's race".
"Ever so slowly"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Ever so slowly, gay rights are being endorsed by the courts. In South Florida, three circuit court judges have ruled that the state's ban on gay adoptions is unconstitutional. The state, wrongheadedly, is appealing two of the rulings in the Third District Court of Appeal." "Gay rights a matter of equal rights". Related: "Crist's change of heart could thwart gay adoption advocates" and "Crist may drop defense of state gay adoption ban".