Gary Fineout writes that "the election's impact on a state with a million residents out of work and hundreds of thousands of homes in foreclosure looms far more prominently than all that campaign vitriol filling airwaves and mailboxes." "High stakes in Florida vote".
"The governor's race — which promises to be the closest in years — is shaping up as a referendum on just how conservative Floridians want their state government to be."
On Tuesday, voters will decide between Rick Scott, a conservative Republican whose views match those of a state legislature that has moved to the right in the past two years, and Alex Sink, a moderate Democrat who promises to wield her veto pen."The throw-the-bums-out mood has taken an unusual twist in the Florida governor's race."
"It's a real litmus test for the electorate," said Lance deHaven-Smith, a political scientist at Florida State University. "We're either going to go far right, or center."
Republicans have held the governor's mansion for 12 years and the legislature for longer, but there has been constant tension between the conservative and moderate wings of the GOP in that time.
During Jeb Bush's eight years as governor, his conservatism was backed by the state House but tempered by the more moderate Senate. As the state Senate has shifted rightward in recent years, the legislature has been thwarted by Gov. Charlie Crist.
Even as he runs as the nominee of the party that has won the past three governor's races and controlled the state legislature for longer, Scott talks about the failed policies of Tallahassee over the past four years, a period when Sink was the only Democratic member of the Cabinet."Governor's election will be a watershed for Florida". Related "Scott gets shout-out from Jeb Bush".
"The irony," said Kevin Wagner, a political scientist at Florida Atlantic University, "is that Scott is running as a change candidate, even though conservatives have been in charge in Tallahassee for a long time."
Florida RPOF/Teabaggers expect to "run the table"
"With just two full days of campaigning left before Election Day, Republicans are giddy with anticipation. Democrats want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over their heads."
Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, is anticipating a political tsunami that washes away Democrats in South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington, D.C."Republicans gleeful, Democrats glum as campaign season reaches climax".
"I can't stop smiling. You have no idea. I'll need surgery to get this smile off," said Dinerstein. "By every anecdotal measure, we're going to run the table."
Howard Troxler: "How a Republican landslide would look Wednesday morning".
Scott wears his teabags proudly
"Gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, at a tea party event Saturday, led a parade of Republican and conservative candidates -- including a possible 2012 presidential hopeful -- in making one last pitch to conservative Floridians to get out the vote on Election Day." "Rick Scott Ignites First Coast Tea Party Event".
"Look what you've wrought, Charlie"
"Look what you've wrought, Charlie Crist."
Since that casual May 2009 e-mail announcing your candidacy for U.S. Senate, you've ripped apart the Florida GOP, and now it's dividing Florida Democrats. You've gone from national superstar and future presidential contender to someone banished from your lifelong party and fighting for political survival."Charlie Crist sends Florida politics on a wild ride".
Not to mention the trickle-down effect: Republican fixture Bill McCollum, poised to breeze into a second term as attorney general, is now through in politics; probably so is your lieutenant governor, Jeff Kottkamp; Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the state Democratic Party's great hope, skipped reelection and is locked in an ugly, neck-and-neck race for governor against a controversial businessman no one had heard of nine months ago.
Amid the flood of nasty TV spots, robo calls and mailers, it's worth pausing at the close of the craziest election cycle in modern Florida history to review where we've landed after an 18-month political roller coaster.
Most vulnerable Florida House seats
"For the last time this election cycle, the Times' political blog the Buzz is ranking the six U.S. House seats in Florida that are most vulnerable to a party switch. The difference between first place (the most vulnerable) and sixth (less vulnerable) remains quite narrow, and we feel there's an even-money chance that partisan control of the top five seats could flip. And we wouldn't be surprised to see each of the six seats flip. The rankings are based on interviews with a range of political practitioners and independent observers. The Buzz considers the state's other 19 House seats to be safe for the party in power." ""The Buzz" House Race Rankings: The Final Frontier".
Call it a"handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged"
"State is eligible to get millions from the same health care overhaul that has been called unconstitutional by Republicans." "Florida could get $39 million to help with state employee health insurance costs".
Meek campaigns with Clinton
"Clinton set to join Meek at Orlando stop".
Money changes everything
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's personal campaign spending has shattered records. But opponent Alex Sink has shown she's a powerful fundraiser." "Rick Scott's spending hits $73M". See also "Party Money Big, But Rick Scott's Personal Cash Makes Huge Difference".
Jenny and Ricky ... two peas in a pod
"Altered documents filed with Jacksonville City Hall in 2006 helped lieutenant governor candidate Jennifer Carroll's consulting firm appear eligible for a city program that annually gives out tens of millions of dollars in city contracts to small businesses, a Florida Times-Union investigation has found." "Newspaper: Altered documents filed for GOP Lt. Gov. candidate Jennifer Carroll's firm".
"Marco Rubio seen with early edge in NE Florida battleground vs. Charlie Crist, Kendrick Meek".
"Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink are deadlocked in the most expensive governor's race in Florida history, and the outcome hinges on which party can get its voters to the polls and which candidate can win over a sizable group of undecided voters, a new Florida Poll shows." "Poll: Scott retains narrow lead over Sink, 44-39".
"Nauseating blizzard of snarky lies"
Carl Hiaasen: "As the days tick down drearily toward the mid-term elections, the mute button is our friend. Every time a political commercial comes on television, millions of Americans are lunging for their remote controls to turn off the volume. This is a perfectly reasonable response to a nauseating blizzard of snarky lies, breathless exaggerations and ludicrous promises that will never, ever be kept."
Another lapse in mute-button vigilance resulted last Thursday in my viewing a dumbfounding campaign commercial by a Broward state Senate hopeful, Lizbeth Benacquisto, who out of the blue announced that she’d been raped 23 years earlier."Thank heaven for the TV mute button".
A rigid opponent of abortion, Benacquisto said she was revealing this terrible incident in her past to debunk claims by her opponent that she was insensitive to the plight of women impregnated during incest or sexual assault.
It takes great courage for victims of such crimes to step forward, but the timing of Benacquisto’s revelation – two decades after the attack, and only five days before the election – raises too many dispiriting questions. In a cycle of acute skepticism, some constituents are bound to dismiss her ad as an exploitive, last-minute grab for votes.
Who pulls Ricky's strings?
"Final fundraising reports released this weekend show Scott has coaxed a parade of interest-groups to pour $31.6 million into Republican Party of Florida coffers during the past two months — some of which Scott personally maligned in the primary but are now footing part of the tab for his unprecedented campaign-spending spree."
Many of the corporations and big-check writers are the same companies and industry groups that went "all in" for Bill McCollum in his failed primary run against Scott, including from Walt Disney Co. ($251,000); Publix Super Markets ($70,000); the developers of The Villages ($310,000); plus gaming interests, phosphate mining concerns and Big Sugar."Who's giving tons of cash to candidates?".
"Republican Rick Scott gave his campaign another $11.6 million in the final 12 days, bringing his total personal spending to more than $73 million and making this far and away the most expensive governor's race in history."
By contrast, $11.2 million Sink
raised over the entire campaign is less than what Scott spent in the last 12 days. But with Sink at the top of the ticket, the state Democratic Party had its best fundraising quarter ever, matching the $31.5 million raised by the Republican Party."Money flows as campaigns near end".
The Democratic Governors Association was the largest contributor, steering $6.3 million to a political committee set up by Tallahassee lawyer Mark Herron, named MARK pac. Lawyers and labor unions are the next top donors, contributing $3.9 million and $1.7 million respectively, according to the reports.
MARK pac also raised $2.8 million from the Florida teachers union and its national partner, the National Education Association, and collected $450,000 from Emily's List, the organization that promotes liberal-leaning women candidates.
As long as my taxes don't go up
A "warning to Florida's teachers, students and parents: If you think indoor-air quality in public schools is bad now, just wait a few years. " "Money to fix Florida's moldy, leaking schools is hard to find".
"The status quo on steroids"
The Saint Pete Times editors: "We cannot let our anger with Washington cloud our judgment about what is best for Florida. Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott and other GOP candidates are portraying themselves as change agents. They are trying to ride the wave of discontent with President Barack Obama and Democrats who control Congress to victory in state elections."
Rather than bringing change to Tallahassee, Scott would put the status quo on steroids. Republicans have controlled state government for a dozen years and failed to prepare this state to weather an economic recession by creating a broader tax base, diversifying the economy or investing in public schools and universities. The rush to cut taxes for big business, slash spending on needed services, abolish protections for consumers and property owners, drill for oil offshore, restrict abortion rights and undermine public schools would become a stampede with Scott as governor."Don't let anger cloud judgment".
Alex Sink would steer the state in a better direction and act as a counterbalance to the right-wing Legislature. The Democratic candidate for governor has pragmatic plans to generate jobs while Scott makes wild promises he can't keep. She embraces the possibilities of a rail system that could transform the economy while Scott is dismissive. She would build a public consensus to better manage growth and improve public education while Scott and the Legislature would shove their radical plans down our throats.
Sink also would provide a stronger dose of ethical, accountable leadership that is desperately needed in the state capital. The former state Republican Party chairman and the former Republican House speaker were forced out and indicted amid scandal. Republican legislative leaders have repaid thousands of dollars in personal expenses charged to state party credit cards. Scott presided over a hospital company that paid record fines for Medicare fraud, and he once invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times in a deposition. Electing him as governor would reinforce the perception that anything goes in Tallahassee.
"Among the worst states in the nation ..."
Professor James P. McHale, chair of the Psychology Department and director of the Family Study Center in the College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida: "Florida ranks among the worst states in the nation on virtually every measure of how we care for our children. The litany of legislative cuts over the past decade to services and supports for pregnant women and young children, and the impact these 'budgetary' decisions have had on children and families, is astonishing."
They have been chronicled in a compelling report entitled "Investing in Florida's Children: Good Policy, Smart Economics" assembled by researchers at Florida State University. The data are almost beyond belief."Florida loses sight of caring for children".
Here are some of the report's findings:
• Florida ranks 47th in the percentage of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester, despite the critical importance of good prenatal care for the gestation and delivery of healthy infants.
• We are the ninth-worst in the country in child abuse deaths. Nonetheless, the 2010 Florida Legislature cut our state's Healthy Families program, which effectively prevents child abuse before it occurs.
• Average wages of $9 per hour without benefits contributes to child care staff turnover rates of 30 to 40 percent.
• Florida serves less than 25 percent of infants and toddlers eligible for federally sponsored Early Head Start, a comprehensive, high-quality program with demonstrated positive outcomes.
• Florida is ranked at the bottom in national spending for prekindergarten. We are the only state to actually decrease funding for pre-K two years in a row.
• In 2009, Florida met only three of the 10 quality pre-K standards established by the National Institute for Early Education Research. This is a decrease from 2008.
The pathetic litany of findings in the report continues. If the state of Florida were a parent, we would not be deemed fit to raise a child.
The land of hanging chads
Steve Otto reminds us "that this is Florida and what you see may not be what you get." "Otto: Voting in the land of hanging chad".
Voter suppression alert
The Saint Pete Times editorial board: "Beyond ongoing problems with absentee ballots, voter fraud is not a serious problem. It just doesn't occur very often. But in at least half a dozen states, "
conservative activists are being organized and dispatched to look out for anyone Tuesday who appears to be voting when he or she shouldn't. This is an old intimidation ploy to keep voters in poor and minority communities away from the polls. Interfering with a person's right to vote is illegal, and any hint of this kind of activity in Florida should be investigated by law enforcement."Watch the watchers on 'vote fraud'".
There already have been some outrageous actions to suppress African-American and Hispanic turnout in other states. It is couched as combatting voter fraud, but the real intent is to scare people who might be new citizens or have a criminal record away from exercising their franchise. ...
history shows that when election security and surveillance efforts target African-American and Hispanic voters, the intent is to tamp down their election participation. The Republican National Committee got into trouble for this kind of thing in the past. Now the tea party and other conservative groups are adopting the same strategy. Someone needs to be watching these watchers.
"Class size rule is 'no-win'".
Teabaggers to the barricades
Andres Oppenheimer: "If the Republican Party wins by a landslide in Tuesday's mid-term elections, as most polls suggest, we are likely to see growing support in Congress for Arizona-style anti-immigration laws that many Hispanics fear would lead to growing discrimination against them." "Elections may boost immigration foes".
"For better or worse"
Bill Cotterell: "Rick Scott, for better or worse, is defined by business background".
To be Florida's first woman governor
"Four years ago, when a U.S. Senator from Illinois was making history by becoming the nation's first African-American president, Alex Sink was launching her political career in Florida, running statewide for chief financial officer. This time, the ex-banker is fighting to climb the next rung on the ladder and make history of her own by becoming Florida's first woman governor." "Alex Sink fights to make history in a tough political environment".
"A poll released Saturday shows Republicans verging on a sweep of three open Cabinet seats." "Independent voters leaning toward GOP, poll shows".
"Government takeover of health care"?
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Every poll shows that their votes last March for the health care law will cost many Democrats. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who by now must be measuring drapes in the speaker's office, calls the law a 'government takeover of health care.' So why wasn't it a 'government takeover of health care' when Republicans proposed it in 1993?" "Republicans stand to benefit in 2010 from opposing what they favored in '93".
Teabaggers insane over sanity rally attendance
"Rally Attendance OBLITERATES Turnout To Glenn Beck Rally".