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 Friday, September 24, 2010

"Thrasher needs tea party help"

    "When state senator and Florida Republican Party Chairman John Thrasher shared a St. Augustine stage last week with statewide GOP candidates at a tea party rally, it was conveniently located in his district. Thrasher acknowledges he needs tea party help. One of the Democratic Party's biggest targets in the Legislature, Thrasher is struggling to fend-off a stern election challenge from Democrat Deborah Gianoulis, a former television anchor familiar to most voters in Senate District 8, which hugs the coast from Jacksonville to the Daytona Speedway." "Legislative Leaders Running Scared -- Fearing Rub-Out".

    Putnam tagged with "stunning hypocrisy"

    "Republican Adam Putnam drew heat Thursday over a television ad touting his support for wind power and solar energy, with Democratic opponent Scott Maddox saying the agriculture commissioner candidate has a lousy record in Congress on green issues."

    Maddox cited six bills from 2007-2009 that Putnam voted against that would have provided environmental grants to businesses, tax credits for wind facilities, and solar energy breaks for companies and residential customers. Putnam failed to vote on an energy-efficient loan program that went before the U.S. House earlier this month, Maddox said.

    "These votes by Congressman Putnam hurt everyday Floridians," Maddox said.

    Putnam has been airing a campaign spot that depicts a child marveling at a pinwheel blowing in the wind. On camera, Putnam promotes the need for more alternative energy.

    "Only in Washington do you see that stunning hypocrisy," Maddox said of his opponent.
    "Putnam Under Fire for Environmental Ads".

    Mason Dixon has Sink by Seven

    Mason Dixon has Sink by seven:

    The survey of 625 likely voters, which has a margin for error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points, found that Sink can credit her advantage to those always-crucial independent voters, among whom she led 44-percent to 37-percent in the survey.
    "New poll shows Alex Sink with 7-point lead in governor's race". See also "Poll: Dems' Alex Sink has 7 percentage-point lead on GOP's Rick Scott for governor".

    Meanwhile, this from notoriously right wing Rasmussen Reports: "New poll shows Scott hits 50 percent mark with voters, 6 point lead over Sink". See also "Scott, Sink edge each other in conflicting polls".

    Florida "entering the 21st century"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Don't look now, but Florida is one big step closer to entering the 21st century." "Is Florida ready to join 21st century?".

    More M-D numbers

    "A new poll indicates Florida's three races for Cabinet seats are all toss-ups, while the controversial Hometown Democracy amendment holds a solid majority, but less than the 60 percent needed for passage. An amendment modifying the state constitutional limits on public school class sizes, meanwhile, is trailing distantly in the new Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey."

    • In the attorney general's race, Republican Pam Bondi of Tampa leads Democrat Dan Gelber of Miami Beach 38 percent-34 percent with 26 percent undecided and 2 percent for no-party candidate Ken Lewis.

    • In the CFO race, Republican Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach leads Democrat Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee 29 percent to 27 percent, with 37 percent undecided and 7 percent for other candidates.

    • In the agriculture commissioner race, Republican Adam Putnam of Bartow leads Democrat Scott Maddox of Tallahassee 36 percent-32 percent with 28 percent undecided and 4 percent for no-party candidate Thad Hamilton.

    • Amendment 4, the Hometown Democracy amendment, which would require that changes in local governments' land-use plans be approved by voters, leads with 53 percent "yes," 26 percent "no" and 21 percent undecided responses.

    • Amendment 8, which would loosen the limits on class sizes passed in a 2002 constitutional amendment referendum, trails with 35 percent "yes," 53 percent "no" and 12 percent undecided responses.
    "Poll: Class-size amendment losing; cabinet races are toss-ups". See also "'Hometown Democracy' amendment passage is iffy, poll shows".

    "Rubio has a terrible memory or an aversion to telling the truth"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Marco Rubio has a terrible memory or an aversion to telling the truth. Neither trait is desirable in a candidate for U.S. Senate. Despite mounting evidence that he was a driving force behind a ridiculously expensive new courthouse in Tallahassee, the former state House speaker insists he is as surprised as anyone by this monstrosity. He needs to tell voters what really happened — or perhaps a grand jury will do it for him." "Marco Rubio must be frank about the "Taj Mahal" courthouse".

    Biden in town

    "Vice President Joe Biden praised Florida's Democratic slate at a reception attended by about 450 Democratic donors in Hollywood." "Biden praises Fla. Democratic candidates". See also "VP Joe Biden Stumps for Kendrick Meek" and ""100 percent" for Meek".

    "Rhetoric in Senate race is heating up fast"

    "With Election Day less than six weeks away, the campaign rhetoric in Florida's U.S. Senate race is heating up fast. Gov. Charlie Crist is on the airways with a new ad in the state's major television markets challenging the credibility of his two opponents in the Senate contest."

    In the 30-second ad, "What Do we Really Know about Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek," the announcer says Meek, a Democrat, steered government contracts to an indicted developer who gave his mother a Cadillac. It says Rubio, a Republican, is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for using a Republican Party credit card to pay for personal meals, trips, and a family reunion.

    "Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek. What we don't need in Washington," the ad concludes as pictures of the governor pop onto the screen briefly with the announcer introducing him, "Charlie Crist. An honest, independent leader for a change."
    "Crist questions trustworthiness of Senate foes in new ad".

    Florida's fat cats feeding Scott

    Aaron Deslatte: "Look for Tallahassee interest groups to make an investment unlike any other in this fall's elections – certainly bigger than it would have been had kingmakers in the capital city not tried to save money by crowning Bill McCollum the Republican gubernatorial nominee."

    Now many of those same lobbyists and corporate interests are working feverishly to raise cash for Scott as a way to get into his good graces.

    The Florida Chamber of Commerce, for example, invested more than $2 million in McCollum ads, but had to endorse Scott last week – even though Democratic nominee Alex Sink had been a Chamber board member back in her banking days.

    Scott is holding a fundraiser Sunday night at New York's Yankee Stadium, where donors are expected to write big checks to the Republican Party of Florida to help finance his campaign. The invitation RSVPs to Bridget Nocco, a lobbyist whose clients include HCA and U.S. Sugar Corp.

    HCA was fined $1.7 billion for committing Medicare fraud during the 1990s when Scott was its chief executive. And U.S. Sugar Corp. poured millions into an ad campaign trashing Scott in his primary, even as Scott blasted the company's attempt to sell off its land holdings to taxpayers as a give-away to "special interests" who run the show in Tallahassee.
    "Will the 'fat cats' be fat enough?".

    The RPOF's latest desperate attack on Sink

    The "GOP claims Alex Sink gave bonuses to state pension workers who lost billions." That claim, however, is just not true:

    - [I]n addition to getting the number wrong, the ad also is inaccurate in suggesting the money is gone.

    - It's a fair question to ask whether Sink, as a member of the SBA [with Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum.

    - It is not accurate to imply that she alone was making the investments. Could Sink have done more? It's a good question but the ad doesn't ask; it concludes she knew all.

    - Did Sink approve the bonuses? Not directly. It was included in the 2007-08 SBA budget, MacKee said, and Sink and the other trustees approved the budget. On this point, the RPOF is again misleading.

    - More importantly, the ad inaccurately implies that the bonuses were linked to the investment losses.
    "GOP claims Alex Sink gave bonuses to state pension managers who lost billions".

    No class (action)

    "A Florida judge has rejected a legal maneuver could have enabled thousands of Republican contributors to seek refunds of up to $7.5 million they gave to support a GOP Senate candidacy by Gov. Charlie Crist. Circuit Judge Jack Schoonover in Naples refused Thursday to certify a lawsuit brought by two GOP donors as a class action covering at least 2,000 similar contributors. The decision means donors would have to sue individually for refunds." "GOP quest for Crist refunds blocked".

    Say what?

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Palm Beach County Senior Judge Roger Colton opened his afternoon foreclosure session by telling homeowners that he'd heard all their stories before, and he would give them a maximum of five months before letting lenders take their homes."

    That was not the intent of state legislators this year when they appropriated $9.6 million to reduce the foreclosure backlog. Though the state has set a goal of reducing the more than 500,000 cases by 62 percent within a year, that goal should be met by handling each case based on its merit and not by watching the clock. That's particularly important given the fraud perpetrated by lenders - many of which knowingly issued loans to buyers who couldn't afford them - and their attorneys.
    "Legislature did not approve $9.6 million for judges to listen only to lenders".

    Talkin' agriculture

    "Candidates for Florida governor said today that the most important issue facing the state's agricultural community is hiring legal farmworkers."

    Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott pledged to help farmers in streamlining the process of hiring workers and promised not to enact policies that would hurt family farms.

    Sink and Scott, along with candidates for attorney general and agriculture commissioner, spoke during a luncheon at a Farm Credit-Agriculture Institute of Florida forum. It was attended by about 100 farmers and agriculture experts.

    The session was not a debate; the candidates had 10 minutes each to speak, took several questions from the audience and were not allowed to ask questions of each other.
    "Gubernatorial candidates share views at Orlando ag forum". See also "Sink, Scott weigh in on immigration issues".

    Heritage Foundation continues to lose credibility

    "Obama Plan: Higher Taxes, Fewer Jobs for Florida".

    A math thing

    "U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings is accusing his GOP election rival with distorting the nine-term Democrat's voting record."

    Republican candidate Bernard Sansaricq said in an interview with the Sun Sentinel that Hastings was absent 57 percent of the time. Hastings said his opponent is repeating that figure at speaking engagements and constituents are asking about it.

    Congressional records show that during his 18 years in Congress, Hastings has voted or appeared for calls to the floor 89.8 percent of the time.
    "Hastings accuses GOP opponent of distorting voting record".

    Rubio's Party card

    "A Republican consultant claims Marco Rubio had at least $4,000 of kitchen remodeling work charged to his Republican party credit card. Rubio's campaign dismissed the claim." "Political consultant: Rubio charged $4K in home remodeling work on GOP credit card".

    Grayson, Webster and "a road map for success in 2012"

    "If the stakes weren't so high — control of Congress — you could think of it as a political experiment."

    With the national spotlight trained on them, Central Florida voters will choose between two political opposites whose views and strategies align closely with the core beliefs of their parties. Whoever emerges to represent Florida's 8th District — and proves that his message works — could hand his party a road map for success in 2012.

    On one side is freshman U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a tough-talking Democrat whose unapologetic embrace of the health-care overhaul, stimulus spending and an anti-war policy boils liberal politics down to its essence.

    On the other side is Republican Dan Webster, a quiet former state lawmaker who has adopted the conservative mantra of stopping an out-of-control Washington spending the country into oblivion.
    "Grayson vs. Webster: House race epitomizes left vs. right".

    The third rail

    "In classic fashion for the nation's biggest retiree state, Social Security is jumping to the front of the U.S. Senate race. Each of the three major candidates – no-party candidate Charlie Crist, Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio – says he's the only candidate who can be trusted to preserve the program in its current form." "Crist, Meek, Rubio using Social Security's future to lure voters".

    Tribune editors say Rubio's excuses "won't wash"

    Rubio is in trouble when he starts losing people like the ultra conservative Tampa Tribune editors. They write that "Rubio, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, dismisses inquiries about his use of a party credit card as 'an internal party matter.' That won't wash."

    [T]he former state House speaker should arrange the release all of his credit card bills. His credibility is at stake.

    The law is clear that donations should be used solely on party-related events. But Rubio has yet to give a good explanation of why he used the party card for personal bills and expenses.

    Some confusion in card use is understandable. For instance, Rubio's account of how his travel agent accidently charged the GOP card for a family trip is entirely plausible.

    But he has yet to give a good explanation of why he needed to use the card so extensively - at least $16,000 worth in personal bills. After all, it is a simple feat to pull the correct card out of one's wallet.

    Why use the GOP card for any personal expense? Were Rubio's personal credit cards maxed out?
    The editors continue:
    Rubio has been plagued by debt. In 2005, he owed more than "$1 million with mortgages on three homes, a home equity line of credit, a car loan and more than $150,000 in student loans."

    All this, coupled with what appears to be casual, if not cavalier, use of donors' money undermines Rubio's compelling message of fiscal frugality.
    "Disclosure needed on Rubio's bills".

    "Florida will the third state to seek a waiver"

    "Florida will become the third state to seek a waiver of the controversial medical-loss ratio provision of the Affordable Care Act, the remnants of President Barack Obama's health-care reform law signed in March." "Florida Seeks Waiver to Avoid Losing Health Insurers".

    "Grit and pride"

    "Alex Sink says grit and pride were legacy of famous ancestors, Siamese twins Chang and Eng".

    Crist singles out LeMieux

    "Crist lamented Washington's hyper-partisan shift Friday, singling out his one-time top adviser and campaign 'maestro,' George LeMieux, the man whom Crist appointed to the U.S. Senate just a year ago." "Independent Charlie Crist takes on old ally, Sen. George LeMieux, during editorial board interview".

    Special session in November?

    "Crist and House Speaker Larry Cretul clashed last week over using federal stimulus money for rebate programs." "House Republicans hint at special session in November to tackle energy rebates".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    "Federal authorities say Pinellas businessman Shannon Wren for years dealt in counterfeit computer chips, risking the lives of military personnel and potentially endangering national security." "Defense contractor confirms indicted Florida businessman sold counterfeit computer chips".

    HD 97

    "Candidates for Florida House District 87".

    More entrepreneurs in action

    "http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/09/22/1835833/florida-led-nation-in-mortgage.html">Herald: Florida led nation in mortgage fraud, federal commission says".

    "Accounting is long overdue"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It's possible the Florida State Board of Administration wasn't fully informed by Wall Street brokers three years ago when it cavalierly bought exotic mortgage-related securities just weeks before the credit markets crashed. But newly disclosed e-mails and internal documents show SBA staff members were just as eager to buy the securities as Wall Street was to sell. It was a reckless pursuit of higher returns that disregarded federal regulations, and those SBA staffers involved should have been fired. "

    National embarrassment may succeed where old-fashioned accountability hasn't. Just this week, Congress' Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission sought documents aimed at understanding the forces at play when the SBA bought the tainted securities. That should force Crist, McCollum and Sink to provide a full public explanation of what happened inside the SBA in 2007 rather than place all of the blame on Wall Street. Such accounting is long overdue to the people of Florida.
    "Full accounting needed at SBA".

    Attack ads

    "Kendrick Meek Attacks Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist on GOP Pledge". See also "Crist tags Rubio, Meek as corrupt pols in new ad".

    "Mischievous, filibuster-proof, lame-duck Senate session"

    "Meek or Crist could provide Dems with a mischievous, filibuster-proof, lame-duck Senate session". "Will Obama Use Florida Law to Push Defeated Agenda?".

    Crist sets record!

    Scott Maxwell: "Charlie Crist sets record for fastest flip-flop".

    Luvin' the Obama

    "At a time when President Barack Obama's poll numbers have waned and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the GOP's favorite target, some Democrats have distanced themselves from the administration and Democratic leaders in Washington."

    But two South Florida Democratic congressional candidates in fierce races are taking part in fundraisers hosted by Obama and Pelosi in the coming weeks.

    Joe Garcia, in a feisty race with Republican state Rep. David Rivera, will hold a brunch headlined by Pelosi Sunday in Hialeah, days after the Republican National Committee's "Fire Pelosi'' bus tour rolled through Tampa. U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, facing the well-financed Republican Allen West in Broward and Palm Beach, will tap donors for checks at an event hosted by Obama Oct. 11 at the Coral Gables home of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.

    Unlike Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Alex Sink -- who made sure to get off the stage before Obama was introduced at a recent Miami Beach reception -- Garcia and Klein are betting that private appearances with the country's top Democrats won't hurt them.
    "Democrats embracing ties to top".

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