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.


Older posts [back to 2002]

Previous Articles by Derek Newton: Ten Things Fox on Line 1 Stem Cells are Intelligent Design Katrina Spin No Can't Win Perhaps the Most Important Race Senate Outlook The Nelson Thing Deep, Dark Secret Smart Boy Bringing Guns to a Knife Fight Playing to our Strength  

The Blog for Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rubio, Palin and the Teabaggers

    "Appearing with Palin were top GOP fundraisers, Republican national committee members and conservative activists such as anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist. The former Alaska governor also was joined by Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio."
    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele thanked Tea Party supporters for their contributions to the Republican Party.
    "Palin rallies GOP in Fla., says time to dig deep". See also "Palin stumps for GOP candidates in Orlando", "Palin helps rally Orlando Republicans as election nears" and "Palin blasts Obama at Orlando rally".

    Rivera has no one left to lie to

    "During a high-profile campaign to replace Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, the eight-year legislator has given muddy answers to questions ranging from his past political campaigns to his work outside of lawmaking, which he does not clearly identify."

    His first election was marred by controversies that have resurfaced in this year's congressional campaign.

    Four days before the 2002 primary, Rivera was involved in a collision on the Palmetto Expressway with a truck carrying his opponent's attack ads to the post office to be mailed to voters. A Florida Highway Patrol report did not assign fault for the crash.

    The ads linked Rivera to a domestic-violence restraining order submitted in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in 1994 against one David M. Rivera. The court file has long been destroyed, and a computer record available today contains no additional identifying details.

    Rivera denies he is the man named in the complaint and says he does not know Jenia Dorticos, the woman who filed it. He also says he does not recall a response flier produced by his campaign with a photo of Dorticos and a statement defending Rivera under her purported signature. The ad says it was paid for and approved by Rivera's campaign.
    "Rivera narrowly won the primary and made it to Tallahassee, where he rose to power as former House Speaker Marco Rubio's right-hand man. The two shared a home in the state capital that a bank sought to foreclose on earlier this year after the pair missed payments."
    Rivera's GOP primary opponents called for his resignation as Miami-Dade Republican Party chairman, saying he used his position to gain advantage in the campaign.

    He then came under fire for soliciting campaign contributions from 4,000 FIU employees, prompting the provost to issue a warning about using public resources for political activities. Earlier, Rivera -- despite fellow Republicans saying otherwise -- denied a close relationship with Ariel Pereda, a businessman who facilitates trade with Cuba and has donated to opponent Garcia's campaign.

    Rivera also raised eyebrows when he called Garcia an esbirro, or henchman, of Fidel Castro in a Spanish-language radio interview -- and later told The Naples Daily News that he had not used that word, which has harsh implications in the exile community.

    Recently, the Miami Herald reported that although Rivera claimed on sworn financial disclosures to have received income from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the agency had no record of him as a contractor.

    Rivera later said he worked as a subcontractor -- but wouldn't name who he worked for. He then amended the forms to remove any mention of USAID, saying he was not required to disclose any income from that consulting work from 2003 to 2009.
    "Rivera brushes off past attacks, controversies". Related: "Diverse district reflects disenchantment".

    Senate candidates debate

    "The three candidates for Florida's U.S. Senate seat will debate during a televised event hosted by CNN, The St. Petersburg Times and the University of South Florida." "US Senate candidates to debate in Fla. Sunday". See also "U.S. Senate candidates to debate on CNN Sunday". Meanwhile, "Poll shows Rubio again has commanding lead".

    "Garcia, version 2010"

    "A more mellow Joe Garcia seems better prepared this time around to vie for the congressional race he lost to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart two years ago." "Democratic House candidate Joe Garcia more mellow this time around".

    While the RPOFers teabag ...

    ... "Democrats rally in East Tampa, call for light rail".

    Bondi afraid to be seen with Teabaggers

    "Dan Gelber, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, put out a statement Thursday suggesting Bondi's absence may be an attempt to distance herself from Palin, whom many independent voters consider a controversial figure, in the vital last week of early voting and the run-up to Election Day on Nov. 2."

    "Throughout her campaign, Bondi has never failed to mention her endorsement from Palin. But now that Bondi needs to appeal to independent voters with less than two weeks to go before Election Day a lot seems to have changed," read the campaign release.

    "Ms. Bondi should explain to voters why she all of the sudden is avoiding Palin at all costs," said Gelber's campaign manager, Christian Ulvert.
    "Florida AG candidate Pam Bondi won't rally with Sarah Palin in Orlando today".

    That's not all Ms. Bondi is running away from: "Bondi de-emphasizing her work for Fox News in general election run".

    Not your great grandmother's Republican Party

    The St. Pete Times editors: "The question of whether Alex Sink or Rick Scott has been the most ethical, trustworthy leader in private business has been answered decisively in Sink's favor. Scott is marching in sync with his fellow Republicans, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon. What would it mean if the Governor's Mansion and the Legislature were always in lockstep?"

    - In Scott's Florida, government would all but abandon its obligation to protect consumers, parents, women, minorities and property owners.

    - Insurers, health care companies, developers, private schools and big business would be the big winners — which is why Associated Industries, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business interests are in Scott's camp. For the average Floridian, it is not a pretty picture.

    - Scott would deregulate property insurance, sending premiums sky-high.

    - He would fight health care reform, leaving 4 million uninsured Floridians on their own.

    - The evisceration of growth management would continue, allowing developers free rein.

    - The state's tourism and fishing industries would be at risk to offshore drilling.

    - The Republican talks about school choice, but that's code. Private school vouchers would be expanded and divert money from public schools.

    - There would be an Arizona-style immigration law that would discriminate against minorities ...

    - [A]bortion restrictions that threaten the constitutional rights of women ...

    - [A] ban on adoptions by gay Floridians that the courts have overturned.

    - Scott's fiscal promises are just as unworkable. He claims he can dramatically cut taxes and balance the state budget through spending cuts without harming education funding. But the few specifics he's provided, such as slicing the prison budget by 40 percent, suggest unthinkable trade-offs.
    "Scott's Florida is grim place".

    Florida lawyers getting rich off the mortgage meltdown

    Michael Mayo: "Does this sound familiar? South Florida lawyer from humble origins presides over a rapidly expanding business empire. He spends lavishly along the way, with a fleet of expensive sports cars, million-dollar waterfront properties and yachts, including one named 'Misunderstood.'"

    He has a trusted female aide, whom former co-workers say got generous perks, including a luxury car, a home and personal bills paid by the firm.

    No, I'm not talking about Scott Rothstein, the attention-seeking Ponzi schemer.

    I'm describing David J. Stern, a publicity-evading attorney headquartered in Plantation who has gotten rich from America's mortgage meltdown.
    "South Florida at center of growing foreclosure legal mess".

    FlaDems keeping powder dry

    "Republicans lead early voting in her home county; Democrats lagging statewide". "Poor Turnout Means Trouble for Alex Sink". For discussion on this, check out this front page post at Daily Kos: "FL-Sen: Killing early voting". Meanwhile, in the rest of the nation: "Dems Holding Their Own In Early Voting Numbers".

    "Politics was never in the plan," for Gianoulis

    "'Politics was never in the plan,' says Deborah Gianoulis, a well-known Jacksonville news anchor and longtime nonprofit board advocate, who is now running against Republican incumbent John Thrasher for Florida’s District 8 Senate seat. 'I spent 25 years in journalism and, especially within the past few years, I’ve been seeing firsthand how unresponsive politicians are to their constituents.' Gianoulis formed her campaign in late June — she qualified just one day before the cutoff date. After the controversy surrounding Senate Bill 6, which would have required that teachers be evaluated and paid based on their students’ test scores, she felt that the lack of consideration for 'what locals have to say' was simply too great, and she threw her hat in the ring." "Political newcomer Gianoulis waging a strong campaign against Republican insider Thrasher".

    The boss man won't let him

    This ("Decades of working hard for low pay") is all well and good, but why can't Bill Maxwell bring himself to say that this is what collective action is all about, and Florida's farmworkers need to be unionized"

    We know why ... the boss man won't let him. C'mon Bill, you can say it: "u-n-i-o-n.

    "2001 legislation was an atrocity"

    Martin Dyckman remids us that during the "Jeb!" years " — when [now Judge Paul] Hawkes headed the House policy staff — the Legislature gave Gov. Jeb Bush the power to appoint all nine members of each [judicial] nominating commission. The only compromise was to give the Bar [mere] input on four seats, a minority, on each of the commissions. Acting like Republican patronage committees, some of them began nominating people distinguished primarily by their political service. Of the 15 judges on the 1st District bench, four are former aides to Govs. Bush or Charlie Crist, including Hawkes."

    The 2001 legislation was an atrocity. But because of term limits, only a few of the perpetrators (or opponents) are still around to be judged by the people.

    One of them is Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio. He was in the majority in the 65-50 House vote on March 21, 2001, that foretold the end of an independent judiciary. His present Democratic opponent, Kendrick Meek, voted against the bill in the state Senate. ...

    Justices and district appellate judges are subject to "yes" or "no" votes every six years. There have been 329 of these merit retention elections; the closest any judge came to losing one was with 54.9 percent approval in 1978. Because of the furor over his court's "Taj Mahal," Hawkes is in plausible danger of becoming the first. He's on the Nov. 2 ballot, and there's a hard core of 1st District citizens, ranging from 30 percent to 40 percent, who vote "no" every time even without an issue to inflame them. In this instance, there is also a Bar poll in which 53 percent of the lawyers who claim the most familiarity with Hawkes' record opposed his retention. No other judge has ever polled so poorly.
    "A politicized judiciary shouldn't have happened". Related: "Two Florida Supreme Court Judges Face Some Angry Voters".

    "Mysterious, Democratically aligned PAC"

    "Though independent expenditures opposing Republican Steve Southerland outnumber those supporting him by approximately $545,000, he isn’t having any trouble staying ahead of opponent Rep. Allen Boyd. This week, a mysterious, Democratically aligned PAC added to the pile of opposition." "Democratically aligned PAC spends a hefty amount to oppose Southerland".

    Hard times

    "Hardscrabble past in Miami powers Kendrick Meek".


    Jane Healy: "Even though election day is more than a week away, some politicians must already have laments about their candidacies."

    Lament No. 1: "Why didn't I just stay put?'' ...

    Lament No. 2: ''Why didn't I pay more attention to independents?'' ...

    Lament No. 3: "Why didn't I energize the Democrats?"

    That would come from any Democrat right now because it is potentially their biggest problem Nov. 2. If reliable Democratic voters sit home rather than flood the polls as they did two years ago, nothing will counter the anger of the independents.
    "It's not too early for candidates' misgivings".

    New hope

    "New hope for prospective parents as Florida ends gay adoption ban".

    The RPOF at work ...

    Howard Troxler: "The Bag Awards will be awarded in three levels: gold, silver and bronze. ... First, let's recap the nine issues. One was a Senate-only vote, and one a House-only, so there are eight possible "yes" votes for each legislator:"

    • Senate Bill 360, passed in 2009, weakened Florida's growth laws by saying developers no longer have to pay for the impact of their growth on roads in most areas.

    • Amendment 7, which the Legislature put on the ballot this year, was a "poison pill" intended to defeat two citizen amendments for "fair districts." The courts threw it out as misleading.

    • Senate Bill 2080, passed in 2009, removed from the public process the awarding of permits for water use and environmental destruction.

    • House Bill 1207, passed this year, created legal "leadership funds" so that special interests could pay direct, unlimited donations to the incoming leaders of the Legislature. The governor vetoed it.

    • Under heavy pressure from the electric industry, the Senate this spring kicked out two members of the Public Service Commission who had dared to turn down $1.5 billion in rate increases. (I'm counting a "yes" vote for senators who voted to kick off either one, or both.)

    • With zero study, the House voted on the fly in 2009 for HB 1219, opening Florida waters to oil drilling. Even the Senate balked at that one.

    • The Legislature came into a special session in December to pass HB 1B, a sweetheart deal to buy track from the CSX Corp. — and to put the taxpayers on the hook for CSX's legal liability.

    • In another last-minute surprise, the Legislature this spring passed HB 1143, requiring any woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and view it, or listen to her doctor describe the fetus. The governor vetoed it.

    • This spring the Legislature voted for SB 6, repealing tenure for schoolteachers and tying their evaluations to standardized tests (which were to be invented later). The governor vetoed that one, too.
    "A recap of how Tampa Bay's legislators voted".

    Teabaggers in a dither

    "Over the protests of the insurance industry, state insurance regulators meeting in Orlando today endorsed a proposed federal regulation that would guarantee a certain portion of your health-insurance premium is spent on medical care." "State regulators OK federal guidelines for health insurance".

    Down at the club ...

    Kingsley Guy and his mates think teachers ought to take it in the shorts, yet again: "Money freeze: Teachers, seniors must accept it".

    Expect a Castor walk off

    "District 11 race pits Castor against Prendergast".

    Six key Florida House seats

    "Florida has 25 congressional districts. Republicans, Democrats and outside observers agree that six of those seats - four now held by Democrats, two by the GOP - are the most competitive. Democratic U.S. Reps. Ron Klein of Boca Raton, Alan Grayson of Orlando, Suzanne Kosmas of New Smyrna Beach and Allen Boyd of Monticello are in danger of being ousted by Republican challengers. " "Six Florida House seats could help tip Congressional balance of power in Washington".


    "Ten months ago, a stimulus-funded jobs program designed to spark the hiring of low-income citizens filled more than 750 jobs in Brevard County among the 5,500 jobs it generated statewide." "Stimulus jobs program falls short".

    Scott's "largely self-funded campaign"

    "Campaign finance figures for the week ending Oct. 15, show that Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott spent $3.9 million in his bid to succeed Gov. Charlie Crist. The Naples businessman added another $3.6 million of his personal fortune to his campaign fund, increasing to more than $60 million the money he and his wife have pumped into his largely self-funded campaign." "Rick Scott, Alex Sink campaigns spent $5 million in single week".

    The Miami Herald editors:

    Mr. Scott, 57, has spent a record $60 million of his own money to promote his candidacy, but the more voters know about him, the more questions there are. He calls himself an outsider whose business savvy will bring efficiency to state government, but it would be a disaster for Florida if he ran the state like he ran Columbia/HCA.

    The hospital chain wound up paying $1.7 billion in a massive Medicare fraud scheme that occurred when he was chief executive. He was never charged with wrongdoing, but he walked away with a golden parachute reportedly worth $310 million.
    "For governor, The Miami Herald recommends Alex Sink".

    Nurses say "no" to Scott

    "Nurses say former hospital exec Rick Scott not best prescription for Florida".

    Sink quietly jeered at NAACP forum

    "Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink was quietly jeered at a NAACP candidate forum last week in Miami. It wasn't what the Democrat said or didn't say, said Joy-Ann Reid, a Democratic activist who moderated the event that drew about 1,500 people. It was that she wasn't there." "Are Democrats taking black voters for granted for the midterm elections?".

    Ambler, Norman dissed

    "Republican officials today nominated former state Rep. Rob Wallace for a disputed state Senate seat, rejecting the competing claims of disqualified candidate Jim Norman and his primary foe, state Rep. Kevin Ambler." "GOP nominates Rob Wallace for disputed state Senate seat".

    Cops take on "I got mine" campaign

    "Police officers and others rallied in support of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who faces a recall effort." "Dozens rally in support of Miami-Dade mayor".

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