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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, October 29, 2010

Sink in a "nail-biter"

    "With Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott making multiple campaign stops Thursday, three new polls show the Florida governor's race remains a tough-to-call nail biter."
    Sink leads Scott by 3 percentage points in a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey. And she's up by 4 points in the Quinnipiac University poll released earlier Thursday. Later, [GOP oriented] Rasmussen Reports released a survey showing Scott had a 3-point lead over Sink.

    None of the leads is solid and each is essentially within the polls' error margins. Also, the Quinnipiac survey found that 9 percent of those who name a candidate say they could change their mind by Tuesday.

    That makes the race too close to call, putting pressure on both candidates and their political parties to turn out base voters. Sink could have more of a challenge motivating Democrats, who are less enthusiastic this year.

    All the polls anticipate a disproportionately higher number of Republican voters casting ballots, but Sink leads anyway thanks to independent voters, who decide close Florida elections. Also, registered Democrats greatly outnumber registered Republicans.
    "Scott, Sink hit homestretch in nail-biter race". See also "Thursday Polls Show Close Contest as Alex Sink, Rick Scott Enter Homestretch" ("Two polls have Dem up, one has Republican ahead, but all show tight race ").

    The New York Times' "FiveThirtyEight Forecasts" a 53.1% chance of a Democratic win.

    See also "Sink, Scott locked in tight race, poll shows", "New polls show a skintight governor's race", "" and "Sink has thin lead over Scott in two polls".

    Grayson, Kosmas TV blitz

    "U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas are presenting barrages of TV commercials this week in the closing stretch before Election Day as they bid for re-election against Republicans Dan Webster and Sandy Adams. The two Democrats, battling in tough, tight races, have purchased more than 600 commercials on Orlando TV stations in the final two weeks of the campaign, about twice as many as their Republican challengers." "Grayson, Kosmas plan final TV-ad blitz".

    Meek kerfuffle

    "Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek said Friday it was his independent opponent - not former President Bill Clinton - who suggested that he drop out of the Florida Senate race." "Meek: Crist suggested quitting Fla. Senate race". See also "Meek Denies Agreeing To Clinton-Arranged Deal To Drop FL-SEN Bid", "Meek: I'm not quitting U.S. Senate race", "What's Bill Clinton Up To?", "Kendrick Meek: 'Was Never Dropping Out, Will Never Drop Out'", "Meek denies that Clinton asked him to drop out of race", "Meek says Crist asked him to consider early exit from race" and "Meek: No one told me to quit".

    But see "Clinton Did Urge Meek To Quit", "Bill Clinton: I spoke with Meek twice" and "Former President Clinton asked Kendrick Meek to drop out of U.S. Senate race".

    Mr. Steele weighs in: "Subtle, Mike, Real Subtle".

    More: "Meek: I'm Still In" and "Senate race turns into political theater with Clinton, Meek, Crist and Rubio".

    Meanwhile, "Poll: Crist Slumping Toward Third Place In Senate Race".

    Meek flap fallout

    "Attempts by some Democrats to nudge Kendrick Meek out of the Senate race rather than rally behind him could have an impact on African-American turnout in the mid-term elections." "Will Meek flap depress turnout in Florida?".

    Wade steps up for Meek

    "Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade is giving Democrat Kendrick Meek a boost in his struggling U.S. Senate race campaign. Wade [was] scheduled to join Meek at an early voting rally Thursday afternoon at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center." "Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade campaigns for Kendrick Meek in Senate race".

    "'Enthusiasm gap' theory"

    "Pundits and pollsters declare an "enthusiasm gap" among would-be voters, with revved-up Republicans characterized as more motivated to vote in Tuesday's general election than dispassionate Democrats."

    While Democrats have traditionally dominated early voting and Republicans reigned supreme among absentee ballots, both figures have favored Florida's GOP this year. Of the more than 1.2 million ballots that had been cast statewide through Tuesday, more than half were Republicans -- giving the party about a 200,000-vote advantage.
    "'Enthusiasm gap' theory persists".

    "Wee Willie Winkie of the hustings"

    Daniel Ruth: "Apparently it doesn't take much to shock Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, who is attempting to turn himself into a hand-wringing, whining Wee Willie Winkie of the hustings."

    • It makes you wonder if Scott would get his debentures into a wad after being confronted by a testy Bichon Frise.

    • The Lurch of the stump was supposedly flabbergasted, bumfuddled and completely discombobulated the other night during his debate with Democrat Alex Sink when he noticed during a commercial break that the candidate had glanced at a cell phone text message handed to her by a makeup artist in violation of the agreed-upon rules.
    "Was this a boo-boo? Sure. Should Sink have looked at the message from a campaign aide essentially reminding her to be tougher in responding to the Luca Brasi of health care? Absolutely not. It was wrong, shouldn't have done it. Bad, bad Alex. You naughty girl, you."
    And let's all throw in a clucking harrumph for good measure, too.

    But among all the Sturm und Drang over Sink's momentary use of a cyber crib sheet, could just a pinch of perspective prevail? Good grief, it is not as if someone slipped Sink the nuclear codes. This wasn't a Wikileaks document dump. This wasn't a Cold War dead drop of secret CIA papers to be collected by Soviet spies. ...

    If we lived in the real world of adults, Sink's misstep would be simply dismissed as an unfortunate gaffe, which in the end had zero effect on the debate and will have even less impact by Election Day.

    Alas, this is a political campaign for governor of Florida, which probably explains why Scott is trying to turn the cell phone kerfuffle into the stump's version of a war crime meets Watergate.

    For all his feigned indignity, Scott does shock and appall with all the sincerity of my goldendoodle pretending she's contrite after she's been caught raiding the garbage.

    After all, while Scott is acting as if Sink had given him a hot foot, short-sheeted his bed and stolen his lunch money, this is same guy who presided over a company that was indicted in the largest Medicare fraud scheme in United States history, which led to $1.7 billion in fines.
    "Great Scott, this man is over the top".

    GOP "voter integrity" plans hit a wall

    "The United States Attorney for the Southern District Wifredo A. Ferrer has announced that his office will lead efforts to make sure no one is impeded from voting on Election Day in South Florida." "South Florida feds watching for voting rights violations".

    "Too bad neither candidate checked the records"

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Drug testing Florida's welfare recipients isn't a new idea, nor is it necessarily a budget-saving panacea. Nevertheless, it's come up in the heat of this year's gubernatorial campaign. Republican Rick Scott backs it enthusiastically. Democrat Alex Sink's only concern seems to be about the costs." "Welfare recipients become a campaign issue".

    "A 'slap in the face'"

    Doug Lyons: "Florida Democrats have a problem."

    The party seems to be sticking it to senatorial hopeful Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, at a time when Democrats need a big turnout from the party's African American base to help gubernatorial hopeful, Alex Sink, win a close contest against Republican Rick Scott.

    The latest debacle over whether former President Bill Clinton asked Meek to drop out of the race at the last minute to give Gov. Charlie Crist a clear shot at taking on Republican Marco Rubio isn't helping quell what a growing number of black Democrats see as a "slap in the face."
    "Florida's Democratic Party Has a "Base" Problem".

    "Credibility at PSC dead"

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "In July, we declared credibility at the state's Public Service Commission dead. A nominating council that's dominated by the Legislature, which in turn is dominated by the utility monopolies, had effectively purged two PSC commissioners, who had rejected the biggest electricity-rate request in Florida history." "Public Service Commission gives another reason to shudder".

    We don' care how you do it in South Asia

    "The on-again, off-again contracting fight over a statewide prescription drug database is on again." "Another contract fight looming for statewide drug database".

    Bondi claims it ain't her

    "Powerful lawyers accustomed to throwing their weight around the courtroom have pounced on recent attack ads accusing Dan Gelber, Democratic candidate for Florida attorney general, of being 'toxic to Jewish education.'"

    The group of 100 lawyers -- including former federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office -- issued a statement saying the mailers aimed at South Florida Jewish voters were funded by an "anonymous group'' that supports Gelber's Republican opponent, Pamela Bondi, a Tampa-based state prosecutor. The flyers, which attacked Gelber's "record against scholarships to help our needy children attend Jewish private schools,'' contained "blatant falsehoods,'' his supporters said. Gelber's campaign director, Christian Ulvert, called the mailers by the Committee for Florida's Education Inc. "disgusting.'' Gelber is a Jewish state senator from Miami Beach and a former federal prosecutor in Miami.

    "There is no doubt in anybody's minds these are mailers closely aligned with Pam Bondi and her campaign,'' Ulvert said.

    Not true, said a spokeswoman for Bondi's campaign. "Neither I nor the Bondi campaign had anything to do with these flyers,'' Kim Kirtley said.
    "Gelber attack ads prompt lawyers to come to his defense".

    "Latest Bondi attack "

    "‘Women for Gelber’ rebut claims made in latest Bondi attack ad on so-called ‘scarlet letter’ adoption law".

    Scott's wingnut tactics

    "Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott has bucked the tradition of meeting with newspaper editorial boards. Instead he broadcasts his message through TV, the web and grassroots rallies. The strategy, which mirrors that of many conservative candidates around the country this year, is rooted in the media maneuvers of right-wing movements, and Scott’s campaign in fact shares DNA with both the press management of the district attorney who prosecuted Kansas abortion provider George Tiller and the public relations company that promoted Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in the 2004 presidential campaign." "The right-wing roots of Scott’s press strategy".

    $1.7 billion in fines remain unexplained

    "The question for Rick Scott at last week’s debate had been asked countless times: Why was he qualified to be Florida’s governor when his tenure as a chief executive of Columbia/HCA led to $1.7 billion in fines for defrauding the government? Was he involved, or too out of touch to know what was going on?"

    “Well, we built a great company, I started with my life savings” Mr. Scott said — but then a moderator interrupted. “We’ve heard that, though, you’ve already said that. So explain to me how it went so wrong.”

    Mr. Scott continued with the same general response he has been using for months, leaving unanswered persistent questions about whether he was a competent and honest executive.

    The answers to those inquiries, however, may determine whether Mr. Scott wins or loses.
    "A Campaign of Few Details, but Questions Keep Coming".

    "Taj Mahal Screw-Up"

    Nancy Smith"Now Look Who Alex Sink Blames for the Taj Mahal Screw-Up".

    HD 26

    "The statistics and trends may not be with Democrat Tim Huth in his race for the Florida House District 26 seat, but he still sees a path to victory." "HD 26: Democrat Tim Huth Hopes to Overcome Trends, Republican Fred Costello".

    Will Governor Scott plead the fifth?

    "The state Department of Health won’t discuss its handling of a health-care fraud complaint against Solantic, a chain of walk-in centers co-founded by gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott in 2001. ... If an investigation was opened and continues beyond Tuesday’s election with the potential that Scott is elected governor, any investigation could make for a conflict for the health department’s secretary, who is appointed by the governor. When asked while campaigning Thursday how he would handle that situation, Scott said he wouldn’t get involved except for making the appointment of the head of the health department." "Rick Scott would pick agency head, but vows to stay clear of any state Solantic probe". See also "Governor candidate Rick Scott vows to stay clear of any state Solantic probe".

    Bits and Pieces

    Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces".

    "Candidate seeking a last-minute advantage"

    The Palm Beach Post's Randy Schultz: "The rape of any woman is an outrage, and the decision about how much - if anything - to say about it publicly is personal. The question is whether the ad is a courageous public admission forced on Ms. Benacquisto [Republican candidate in Senate District 27] or a calculated move in a key campaign."

    For someone who claims that she was motivated by concern for rape victims, Ms. Benacquisto tried hard in the Thursday interview to avoid saying whether she would vote for a similar ultrasound amendment if elected. She said, "You will find a fierce vote to protect these women," meaning rape victims who might have to document their assault to avoid paying for an ultrasound. But what if the amendment comes back in the same form, and she can't change it? "I will win." But she might not. So then what? After nearly a dozen attempts to get a yes or no answer, Ms. Benacquisto said, "I'm only going to support a bill that provides protection."

    Ms. Benacquisto also was contradictory on her hopes for the election. Because of the response she has received from women, "winning almost doesn't matter." But she also said, "I'm going to work my tail off to win."

    The fact of Ms. Benacquisto's revelation does not suspend all other judgments about her candidacy. Rep. Rader is on record as opposing the ultrasound requirements that Ms. Benacquisto would seek to change. Her charge that Rep. Rader's ad demeaned rape victims does not hold up, even if the "make criminals" part is a stretch.

    Ms. Benacquisto's unwillingness to personally address basic questions about the ad - Was it her idea, or the party's? - makes her look like a candidate seeking a last-minute advantage with a charge that any male candidate would find very hard to answer with another ad. "You don't get it, Mr. Rader," Ms. Benacquisto says near the end of the 30-second spot. "I live with this every day." Only with the election looming, however, did she decide to say so.
    "Politically timed revelation?".

    "Far-reaching and costly"?

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Supporters of Amendment 4, the so-called Hometown Democracy initiative, minimize the amendment’s likely effects. They say it simply would give residents the right to vote on major development projects proposed in their communities. But the amendment’s impact could be far-reaching and costly to every Floridian." "Amendment 4 fallacies".

    Ausley a fighter

    "In a statewide race that's received little public notice, chief financial officer candidate Loranne Ausley has resorted to a 400-mile bike ride to get her message out. A lawyer and former Democratic state lawmaker from Tallahassee, Ausley is down in the polls and outgunned on TV nearly 3-to-1. She hopes when she finishes the ride Friday afternoon in West Palm Beach that voters will see she's a fighter." "Feisty CFO race features Senate president and ex-lawmaker".

    Dorworth "living off the Republican Party"?

    "State Rep. Chris Dorworth says he wants to return to Florida's House of Representatives to hold the line on spending and help build a flourishing economy where businesses thrive."

    But Dorworth has had difficulty keeping his own household stable and managing his own finances, according to records that surfaced this week as a result of his filing for divorce in September from Elizabeth Dorworth, his wife of 10 years.

    Dorworth is still fighting a 2008 foreclosure on his 8,200-square-foot home in Heathrow and says his monthly household deficit is more than $12,000. He claims a monthly income from land-use consulting of $3,250, plus his legislative salary of $2,500 a month.

    He said he is dipping into a family trust to deal with the shortfall. His estranged wife has accused him of not adequately supporting their children and living off the Republican Party, the divorce filings show.
    "Florida House candidate Chris Dorworth's divorce records reveal financial problems".


    Scott Maxwell thinks it is "time to ramp up the Malarkey Meter for one more round of truth-testing and lie-detecting, based on the campaign claims and attacks filling your mailboxes and airwaves this year." "Malarkey keeps piling up".

    Ross's conspiracy theory

    "Congressional candidate Dennis Ross has taken up the verbal sword against what he sees as a scheme to split the conservative vote."

    Ross is in a three-way race for the U.S. House District 12 seat with Florida Tea Party candidate Randy Wilkinson and Democrat Lori Edwards. District 12 covers portions of Polk and Hillsborough counties.

    Ross's campaign has mailed out three fliers at a cost of some $60,000 to fight against what he calls a Democratic scheme to steer votes toward Wilkinson by leading people to believe Wilkinson, a Polk County commissioner, is affiliated with the national tea party movement.
    "GOP candidate seeks to derail 'fake' tea party foe".

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