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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 Saturday, October 09, 2010

Feisty Sink comes out swinging

    "Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink came out swinging against Republican Rick Scott in their first debate Friday, calling him a liar, slamming him repeatedly for the fraud scandal at his former hospital company and accusing the multimillionaire of trying to buy the office." "Sink takes on Scott in contentious debate".

    "Echoing their ubiquitous TV ads, a feisty Sink, in her strongest jabs against Scott yet, tried to paint her opponent into a corner for heading a hospital chain that was slapped with a record $1.7 billion in federal fines for Medicare fraud. An unflappable Scott stuck to his mantra of job creation and portrayed Sink, the state's chief financial officer, as an ineffective Tallahassee insider."
    "I don't think the people of Florida want you to run the state of Florida the way that you ran your business,'' Sink retorted.

    Later she mocked Scott's 7-7-7 economic plan, saying it was a more apt description of his seven years as a Florida resident, the 75 times he pleaded the Fifth Amendment in a lawsuit and the $70 million she expects him to spend in his quest to become governor.
    "Rick Scott, Alex Sink go 1-on-1 in first debate". See also "Gloves off as governor debate hits at character of candidates".

    Blogosphere goes off on Meek withdrawing; hedenies it

    Daily Kos: "GOP fears Meek's withdrawal". Related: "Kendrick Meek: 'I'm Not Going Anywhere Except the ... Senate'" and "Wall Street Journal story about Crist/Meek deal laughable, Meek says".

    Meek hammers away

    "Meek was trying to reinforce his message to Latinos who, despite leaning Democratic outside of Miami's Cuban enclave, have shown skepticism toward Meek's candidacy." "Kendrick Meek courts Central Florida's Hispanic voters". As Mike Thomas recently put it, "How about a little Democratic love for Kendrick Meek?"

    Sink "leads" in latest M-D poll

    Bill Cotterell: "A new statewide [Mason-Dixon] poll Friday showed Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink with a slim lead over Republican Rick Scott in the race for governor."

    The poll showed Sink with 44 percent support, Scott with 40 percent and 13 percent of voters undecided. Sink's lead was right at the poll's 4 percent margin of error.
    "Poll: Sink has slim lead over Scott". See also "Sink's lead over Scott shrinks, poll says", "Mason-Dixon poll: Alex Sink narrowly leads governor's race" and "Poll: Sink ahead of Scott, but damaged by attack ads".

    As an aside, the writer of the above-quoted Florida Today piece, the venerable Bill Cotterell, seems to be evincing a common misstatement regarding poll numbers and margins of error ("MoE").
    [W]hen comparing two poll numbers, remember that the MoE applies to both numbers. For instance, suppose that in a single poll with a MoE of ±3%, Candidate D gets 46% and Candidate R only 42%, this will often be reported as a lead for D. However, D's support could be as low as 43% and R's as high as 45%, giving R a 2 percentage point lead. So, in order for the absolute difference between two poll numbers to be statistically significant, it must be greater than twice the MoE, which is equal to the confidence interval.
    "How to Read a Poll".

    Although the poll is good news for Sink, and the article spins the numbers in her favor, Cotterell's statement that "Sink's lead was right at the poll's 4 percent margin of error" is a bit misleading because the margin of error applies to both numbers.

    By this poll, then, Sink's support could be as low as 40% and Scott's as high as 44%, giving Scott a 4 percentage point lead. Or, Sink's support could be as high as 48% and Scott's as low as 36%, giving Sink a 12 percentage point lead.

    Another way of looking at this poll is in light of previous Mason-Dixon polls. An August 9, 2010 M-D poll had Sink up by 16 in a pre-primary theoretical matchup; a September 22-27 M-D poll (warning: this is a word doc) had Sink's lead reduced to 7. So, at least in Mason-Dixon world, Sink is trending downward, but still in the lead.

    By the same token, other pollsters placing Scott in the "lead" have had him trending downward (and Sink upward) in recent weeks (e.g., Rasmussen). But see "Poll: Rick Scott Takes Lead, 'Favored to Win'".

    William March: "Voters who follow political news closely may feel whipsawed by new poll results in the Florida governor's race, showing Democrat Alex Sink with a narrow but significant lead over Republican Rick Scott. For example:"
    •A Sept. 23 poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, sometimes called the state's most reliable published political pollster, showed Sink with a 7-point lead over Scott, 47-40 percent. But over the next two days, Rasmussen Research and Quinnipiac University polls showed Scott ahead by 6 points, and CNN/Time showed Scott up 2 points.

    •The same CNN/Time and Quinnipiac polls showed Republican Marco Rubio with comfortable, 11- and 13-point leads over no-party candidate Gov. Charlie in the Senate race.

    But the following week, Zogby and the Republican-oriented Public Opinion Strategies, polling for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, showed Crist in striking distance, 6 or 7 points down.
    "Volatile mood of voters, turnout among reasons polls differ so much".

    Democrats licking their chops

    If you're wondering how weak the GOP bench is, this should give you some insight: "Websites and organizations of every description are looking to draft former Gov. Jeb Bush and former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough, who now hosts a morning news show on MSNBC, into what probably will be a crowded field gunning for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Add to those names a third. The rise of former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate and the clear front-runner in the U.S. Senate race, has supporters pointing to his charisma and ability to run a rocket of a campaign -- and they're saying don't rule him out." "Three Floridians in 2012? Supporters Ask, Why not?".

    Scott thrives in Obama years

    "Rick Scott blames President Barack Obama for the nation's economic woes, but Florida's Republican nominee for governor is doing far better now than he was under the last year of George W. Bush's presidency."

    That's according to Scott's last three years of tax returns, which portray a man who, like more and more out-of-work Floridians, earns no wages.

    But unlike most of the state's 1 million unemployed workers, Scott earns millions from a long list of investments.

    Scott's adjusted gross income in 2009 was $7.87 million, more than double what he made in 2008 during Bush's last year in office. Not only did his income grow under Obama, he paid less in federal taxes -- 13 percent -- than he did the previous year when Uncle Sam took 16 percent.

    His best year was 2007, the height of the stock market, when his adjusted income was more than $13 million, of which he paid 15 percent in federal taxes.

    How Scott fared in previous years is unknown, because his campaign declined to release anything earlier, unlike his Democratic opponent, Alex Sink, who disclosed her past five years of tax returns.

    ``We released the three years that Alex Sink has been in office,'' Scott spokesman Brian Burgess said.
    Get this:
    But his biggest charitable [sic] deduction for a tax break in 2009 totaled more than $1 million and went to a group called Conservatives for Patients Rights, his tax-exempt political committee that fought Obama's federal healthcare overhaul.

    Known as CPR, the committee helped spark the conservative tea party movement. Running TV ads across the country, the group elevated Scott's profile and included a public relations machine that eventually formed the backbone of his gubernatorial campaign staff, which includes Burgess.
    "Tax returns show Rick Scott makes millions, gets tax breaks in Obama's economy".

    Strange how the spry Mr. Scott manages to get by without having to earn any "wages" ... or what the rest of us call "earned" income. "Scott tax returns: millions made on array of investments but no wages". Related: "Rick Scott Releases Tax Returns -- Yeah, He's Rich".

    Where's Dubya? Holed up

    "Former President Bill Clinton is busy on the campaign trail, helping candidates in races from Florida to Washington state. His successor, George W. Bush? Holed up in Texas." "Where's President Bush?".

    RPOFers afraid to debate

    Aaron Deslatte: "Loranne Ausley sounded frustrated as a statewide candidate with no sparring partner."

    While the Democratic nominee for chief financial officer has verbal Molotov cocktails to throw at Republican opponent Jeff Atwater – what with Tallahassee politicians being so popular these days – her target has been a hard man to find. With just over three weeks left until Election Day, the two have yet to agree on a single debate. ...

    Though gubernatorial wannabes Rick Scott and Alex Sink held their first debate Friday, Scott avoided any statewide TV debates in his $75-million GOP primary, letting his acid-tongued advertising make his case to voters. ...

    Pam Bondi, the Republican candidate for attorney general, called in June for a "series of debates" with her two GOP rivals. But, she's agreed to just two debates with Democrat Dan Gelber – and turned down a third that would have featured all the Cabinet races at the University of Florida.
    "Aaron Deslatte: Candidates prefer televised commercials to confrontations". See also "Ausley demands late debate with Atwater".

    Kosmas gets big endorsement

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "For 24th District voters, it comes down to a choice between a moderate Democrat and a now stridently partisan Republican. No matter which party controls Congress next year, we think Ms. Kosmas is more likely to get things done for her district and for the nation. We endorse Suzanne Kosmas." "U.S. Representative District 24".

    Beware "hippie-type environmental activists"

    "In the campaign over Florida's proposed Amendment 4 — which would change how development is controlled in Florida — each side is painting the other as iconic figures mistrusted by many Floridians: shrill environmental activists or bulldozer-crazed developers."

    The images in an anti-Amendment 4 video: hippie-type environmental activists playing guitar and babbling, trying to explain their support for Amendment 4. Snippets from their messages: "Jobs will have to come to a halt"; "It's a struggle to liberate us from capitalism"; "Industry has to change; it has to scale down."

    The image in a pro-Amendment 4 video: A voting booth in a clearing outside a forest is run over by a bulldozer. The message: "Rich, out-of-control developers want to crush our right to vote on new, sprawling development. … They're spending millions to kill Amendment 4."
    "Special interests bankroll push for, against Amendment 4". Related "Amendment 4 forum set for Wesley Chapel".

    Bill Clinton stands by Meek

    "Former President Bill Clinton is set to campaign for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek on Oct. 19 in St. Petersburg. Clinton and Meek will be at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg that morning and the next day they will campaign together at the University of Central Florida." "Bill Clinton to campaign for Kendrick Meek at USF St. Pete".

    The latest from teabag-world

    "Ohio Tea Party Candidate Revealed As Nazi Reenactor" ("The Atlantic's Josh Green reports that millionaire businessman Rich Iott, the Republican nominee challenging Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in Ohio's Ninth District, has an unusual hobby: He likes to pretend he's a Nazi.")

    Times endorses Crist

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board goes local: "Crist for U.S. Senate".

    Shocked — shocked!

    Steve Bousquet: "People in Florida are shocked — shocked! — that Rick Scott would stretch the truth in his TV ads. "

    An example of the Republican nominee for governor's distortions is Scott's ad claiming that Democratic opponent Alex Sink is solely responsible for losses in the state pension fund. In fact, Sink is one of three trustees overseeing the fund and the other two are Republicans.

    Challenged to defend the exaggeration, Scott told me: "She's the chief financial officer of the state. That means she's responsible for the funds of the state. This is a big deal." ...

    Florida has long been an especially fertile place for mudslinging.
    "Florida politics churns mud faster than a swamp buggy in the 'Glades".


    "Rothstein's right-hand woman sentenced to 10 years in prison".

    Firefighters (with pensions) in action

    Heroic firefighters do their jobs yet again, rescuing "two injured workers laid for hours facedown and deep inside the bottom of Hollywood's dark and empty [160-foot] water tower. One suffered a spinal injury, the other a broken hip when a scaffold they were standing on collapsed and dropped the two men about 45 feet into the cavernous bowl on Friday morning."

    After nearly six hours, technical rescue workers from three agencies finally managed to bring down the two men safely. At one point, the scenario involved having two firefighters take turns hoisting the patients down the side of the tower using only ropes. ...

    To rescue them, members of the team first had to climb the tower up a narrow ladder, walk across a catwalk and then scale the curve of the bowl. They had to bring up their equipment with ropes. They then built their own scaffold on top of the tower using a pulley system. They set up a ventilation system to get rid of the fumes and bring a fresh breeze into the bowl.

    Driver-Engineer Aaron Caja of the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department was picked to bring down Valderrabano, the one with the spinal injury. Caja strapped himself to a system of ropes that also was attached to Valderrabano, who was lying on a stretcher. The two appeared at the top about 2 p.m. and slid down the curve of the bowl. ...

    "I didn't know it was going to be me until they said, 'OK, you. Get your stuff together. You are going,'" said Corolla.

    The two rescuers said they had trained to do similar rescue missions but never on a water tower. They struggled to keep their adrenaline down.
    "Workers rescued from inside Hollywood water tower after 45-foot fall".

    And we begrudge these heroes their damn defined benefit pensions? People who think like that really ought to move to Obion County, Tennessee.

    Meanwhile, "the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will conduct an investigation." Teabaggers are of course outraged because the phrase "worker safety" appears nowhere in the original language of the Constitution. Republicans are equally outraged because employees and "entrepreneurs should be "free" to work without safety regulations and the interference of jack booted OSHA investigators.

    Billy, "the well-heeled persuader"

    "Attorney General Bill McCollum — who was a high-priced Washington lobbyist in between his bids for statewide office in Florida — may be returning to the ranks of the well-heeled persuaders." "Lobbyist McCollum?"

    "Expensive, flashy but ridiculously impractical"

    "If Charlie Crist were a car salesman, the $1.75 billion buyout of a sprawling sugar empire he pitched as the salvation of the Everglades more than two years ago might be likened to a Ferrari Enzo. Expensive, flashy but ridiculously impractical. One economic meltdown and three downsizings later, water managers are poised to drive off with what amounts to a Honda Civic of an Everglades restoration land purchase. Not nearly all they wanted but all they can afford." "Sugar land deal finally a lock". See also "Everglades Fight Prepares for Next Round".

    Slow down

    "Boaters headed south into the Indian River Lagoon or Mosquito Lagoon in Brevard County this weekend might want to be cautious of their speeds." "FWC enforcing boat speeds to protect manatees".

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