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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 Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rivera has no one left to lie to

    "Republican congressional candidate David Rivera has amended his state financial disclosure forms to erase any mention of consulting work for the U.S. Agency for International Development -- days after USAID officials said they had no records showing Rivera worked for the agency."
    Rivera's attorney, Richard Coates, told the Florida Commission on Ethics in an Oct. 15 letter that Rivera was ``not required'' to disclose any additional income from the lawmaker's consulting work from 2003 to 2009.

    In his original disclosure forms, Rivera, a four-term state representative from Miami, said he worked as an "international development consultant'' for USAID for seven years, through a company called Interamerican Government Relations, which Rivera founded in Puerto Rico. But USAID officials told The Miami Herald that they had no record of Rivera or his company.

    Rivera first told The Miami Herald that he won USAID contracts through competitive bidding. After learning that USAID had no record of his company, Rivera then said he worked as a subcontractor to other USAID vendors. But Rivera would not disclose the names of the contractors who hired him, saying he had promised them confidentiality.
    "Agency disappears from David Rivera's forms".

    Big Dog campaigns for Meek

    "Clinton campaigns with Meek in St. Pete".

    Grayson uses fat man to raise cash

    "Florida Democrat Alan Grayson — never one to shy away from quirky campaign antics — made a new plea to supporters via e-mail Monday: donate to the "Rush Limbaugh, Mind Your Own Business" fund." "Alan Grayson uses Rush Limbaugh in fundraising appeal"

    Klein-West debate

    "U.S. Rep. Ron Klein and Republican challenger Allen West got a chance to clarify their records and positions during a live, web-streamed debate Monday morning. WPTV Channel 5 hosted the debate and reporters from the Palm Beach Post and the Palm Beach Daily News asked the questions." "Allen West, Ron Klein Respond to Attack Ads During Debate". See "Ron Klein and Allen West label each other out of touch", "Allen West's biker ties, Ron Klein's ties to Lewis, blacks reps under investigation subjects of debate" and "Klein, West portray one another as out of touch".

    "A little too convenient"

    "A skeptical U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on Monday questioned a conservative group's motives for challenging Florida's campaign finance laws so close to the Nov. 2 election."

    "Isn't this just a little too convenient," Hinkle asked. "If a group of law students got together and wanted to come up with a fictitious case, they couldn't do any better."

    The conservative Institute for Justice, on behalf of four Southwest Florida political activists, asked Hinkle for an emergency order striking down a Florida law that requires groups who support or oppose ballot measures to form political committees and disclose their donors.

    The group includes Punta Gorda Tea Party founder Robin Stublen and Pat Wayman, a member of Venice 9-12. The activists claim in court papers that they wanted to pool $150 each for a local talk radio ad opposing Amendment 4, the ballot measure that would require local governments to get voter approval for land-use changes.

    But they said they dropped the plan when they learned that they exceeded the law's $500 threshold before registration is required. They filed the suit last month, claiming that their First Amendment rights to free speech were being violated.

    "That severely burdens core political speech," Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman told Hinkle. "Our clients can't simply pick up the phone and call the radio station because the state of Florida has made that illegal."

    Sherman said the Florida restrictions are no longer valid after last year's controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, that lifted restrictions on corporate and union funding of independent political broadcasts.

    Interrupting Sherman several times, Hinkle noted that a single group member could buy the ad without falling under the law. Granting the injunction, Hinkle said, could open the floodgates for special interests.
    "Judge skeptical of campaign finance laws challenge". See also "Federal Court Hears Campaign Finance Arguments".

    Early voting starts smoothly

    "The first day of early voting began with just under 10,000 votes cast in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Elections officials reported no major problems at precincts." "Early voting kicks off smoothly in South Florida". See also "Popular early voting gets under way in Fla.".

    SD 6

    "Democrat Bill Montford has all the advantages, politically and financially, but he's taking nothing for granted in the Big Bend state senate race. Once he won the Aug. 24 Democratic primary over former state Rep. Curtis Richardson, Montford became a heavy favorite to succeed Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson." "Montford taking opponents 'very seriously'".

    West fears "girly men"

    "Allen West is doing his very best to make manliness an issue in the campaign for the 22nd Congressional District. ... West believes that it's important for a manly leader to avoid feminist literature at all costs, lest that leader turn into a 'chicken man' or a 'girly man.'" "The Man Show: What Does Allen West Mean When He Appeals for "Manliness" in American Politics?" (via "Norwood").

    Expect GOP voter suppression this November

    "The RNLA is the leading independent entity on the right devoted to preparing Republican attorneys for election day and post-election lawyering."

    As Ryan Reilly has been reporting for us at TPMmuckraker, the RNLA is currently in the midst of conducting what it bills as an "unprecedented" series of election law training seminars in the run up to the midterms elections. The seminars have been held or scheduled in several states, including Illinois, Nevada, Florida, Washington, California and New York.

    The public gloss the RNLA puts on its seminars is that they're for professional training. In fact, the group offers continuing legal education credits to lawyers who pay to attend them. But according to a blog post by one of the lecturers at its recent Florida seminar, only Republicans are allowed to attend. "Please note that due to the RNLA's sponsorship of this event, that attendance is limited to Republicans," Sarah Rumpf, a Florida attorney wrote on her blog. "If you are not already a member of the RNLA or are not otherwise already known by the [Republican Party of Florida], you will need a reference in order to attend this seminar."

    The seminar speakers seem to have a decidedly political bent as well. The recent Florida seminar featured appearances by Rick Scott, the Republican nominee for governor, and Pam Bondi, the party's nominee of attorney general. An upcoming seminar in Seattle features the executive director and the general counsel of the state Republican Party. While the seminars offer CLE credit, they apparently aren't limited to lawyers. The sign-up sheet on the RNLA website for tonight's seminar in Chicago, for instance, includes a check-the-box for whether you are a lawyer, a law student, or "No, I am just a concerned citizen." How many nonpartisan concerned citizens attend CLEs on election law in their free time?
    "What's GOP Lawyers Group Up To?".

    More tort reform?

    "Tort reform an under-the-table issue in governor's race".

    HD 69

    "The race between incumbent Democrat Keith Fitzgerald and Republican challenger Ray Pilon is a classic matchup. Fitzgerald, an erudite New College of Florida professor, and Pilon, a long-time civic leader, take predictably divergent views of how to represent the district, which covers most of Sarasota County and just a sliver of Manatee." "State House Dist. 69 race a classic matchup".

    Gelber rejects teabagger games

    "Dan Gelber Wants No Part of Obamacare Suit".

    Scott, the Manchurian candidate

    "Scott has so far foregone the traditional round of meetings with newspaper editorial boards and has given few in-depth interviews, preferring to get his message out in campaign stops and television ads. His campaign declined requests by The Associated Press for an interview with the candidate. When he does talk to reporters, largely in gaggles after campaign events, he launches into snippets of his platform he's recited so often they seem rehearsed." "Wealthy outsider in close race for Fla. governor".

    He's even murkier under oath:

    Rick Scott the candidate promises voters "the unvarnished truth.''

    But Rick Scott the witness offers little but murky testimony.

    In a series of sworn depositions he gave in lawsuits against his former hospital company, Scott appears to be the polar opposite of the straight-talking Republican candidate for governor in his television ads.

    Under oath, Scott displays a poor memory and a penchant for parsing words. He answers a lawyer's questions with questions. Smirking or shrugging his shoulders ...
    "Rick Scott's straight talk gets fuzzy under oath". See also "Excerpts from Rick Scott under oath".

    Meanwhile, "Scott spends $1.7 million more of his own cash on campaign; Sink raises $420,000".

    Congresswoman Adams?

    "Did the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pull the plug on Rep. Suzanne Kosmas when it pulled its advertising commitment?" "Democrats Leave Suzanne Kosmas Hanging in CD 24".

    "Why me?"

    "Each morning as he heads out on the campaign trail, an increasingly bleak and hostile landscape, U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd must ask himself, 'Why me?'" "Of all Democrats, U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd should be safe, but he's not". More: "Poll: Southerland Poised to Oust Boyd in CD 2".

    High anxiety

    "Herald/Times reporters visited four Florida counties anticipated to play a pivotal role in the 2010 election. Voters expressed anxiety about the future and frustration with politicians." "As early voting starts, voters' mood is anxious".

    "Difficult racial knot"

    "Crist's no-party U.S. Senate candidacy is entangling Florida Democrats in a difficult racial knot of a kind they've experienced before, to their regret." "Crist takes on Meek for black votes".

    Is this what a Republican looks like?

    "When you're a Democrat running for Congress in a heavily Republican district, it helps to look like a Republican."

    Fifth District nominee Jim Piccillo's first TV commercial never mentions his party and shows the former Airborne soldier in uniform and civilian garb wielding an M4 rifle and pledging to "kick some butt" to stop special interests from ruining the country.
    "Dem's ad drops party ID, wields assault rifle, garners new medals".

    Registration down; NPAs up

    "Figures released by the Division of Elections on Monday show Florida has 11,217,384 voters registered for the Nov. 2 election. That's 20,250 fewer than in 2008. Of the total, 2,186,246 registered without party affiliation - 83,127 more than in 2008. ... Democrats still top Republicans by about 4.6 million to 4 million." "Fla. voter registration down 30,250 from 2008".

    "Some beauties on this ballot"

    Steve Otto "read one proposed constitutional amendment that sounded reasonable, even if I wasn't too clear just what it was about. Then I noticed I was reading the Spanish version. I switched over to the English example but it might as well have been in Chinese. There are some beauties on this ballot that you'd better know how you want to vote on before you head on down to your precinct." "None of the above".

    Musta failed Political Science 101

    Alleged college graduate Mike Thomas apparently drank too much tea this morning: Thomas actually accuses Obama of "socialism".

    Never mind

    "Republican CFO candidate Atwater downplays role in failed bank".

    Get over it, Billy

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "McCollum should stop defending Florida's ban on gay adoption".

    Can't imagine why?

    "Four years ago when Sink ran and won the state's chief financial officer seat, the Democrat carried Republican-dominated Sarasota County. It's one of the reasons she has visited the area only few times compared to her competitor, Republican Rick Scott, who has campaigned in the county a half-dozen times." "Sink's Sarasota campaign stops have been sporadic".

    "Likely R"

    Larry Sabato:

    The final Senate changes are expected ones in Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. For some time now, we have had Republican Marco Rubio the favorite over Independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek. Rubio’s lead is now so large, and the chances of Crist and Meek joining forces to unite behind one candidacy are now so small, that we are changing Florida Senate from Leans R to Likely R. ...
    "The Outlook for November 2nd". The Crystal Ball's 2010 Governor Ratings.

    "A storyline no one could have dreamed up"

    "With two weeks until Election Day, the race for U.S. Senate features a storyline no political operative in Florida could have dreamed up — at least not while sober."

    Three candidates spread across the ideological spectrum are racing toward a finish that looks increasingly anticlimactic.

    On the right is Marco Rubio, a rising star among conservative Republicans and frustrated Tea Party voters. On the left is Kendrick Meek, a Miami congressman and dependable Democrat.

    And in between — his precise location is often unclear — is Gov. Charlie Crist, a political institution who fled the GOP primary in April with polls showing him trailing Rubio by 20 points.
    "Time running out for Crist, Meek to overtake Rubio in U.S. Senate race".

    "Voters are confused"

    "Despite a court ruling last week ordering him off the Nov. 2 ballot, Republican candidate Jim Norman's name still appears on tens of thousands of ballots in the District 12 Senate race, amidst new legal maneuvers and confusion by local election and party officials." "Norman appeals ruling; Ambler asks to be put on ballot; voters are confused". The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Justice done; voters left hanging".

    Daniel Ruth: "'Tis a pity there is no elected office for a court jester. Jim Norman, Hillsborough County’s answer to Spiro Agnew meets Elmer Fudd, would be a prohibitive favorite to claim the post." "Norman’s gravy train gets derailed by a judge".

    Snitker struggles

    "He's been running for Senate for months, but remains unknown to most voters. That isn't discouraging Alexander Snitker." "Libertarian candidate for Senate fights for spotlight".

    One way to do it

    "Orlando parking meters collect money for homeless".

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