Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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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 Sunday, October 10, 2010

GOP consultant: Sink running country's best Dem Guv ad campaign

    "One Republican consultant calls the political attack ads between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink the best political show on television. Viewers call those same ads annoying, while campaigns call them crucial."
    But the aggressive verbal air war between the candidates for governor waged on Florida's cable channels says more about the candidates than their campaign strategies. It also reveals a bit of their decision-making style.
    According to Frank Luntz, the well-known Republican media consultant, "who has monitored campaign ads across the country":
    "Alex Sink is running the best advertising campaign of any Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the country'' he said.
    "Attack ads between Sink, Scott getting uglier".

    Webster's "covenant marriage" problem

    "At a quarterly meeting, Florida-based members of the National Organization for Women said Grayson, a Democrat, was a champion for the group's causes. They also said his Republican opponent, Daniel Webster, would significantly delay or turn back women's advancement if elected."

    Webster, who was a member of the Florida Legislature for 28 years, sponsored a bill in 1990 that would have established covenant marriage and prevented divorce for people married under the program except in cases of adultery. He also voted against legislation to prevent health insurers from considering domestic violence to be a preexisting condition.

    In the 1990s, Webster reportedly said he opposed abortion in all cases including those involving incest and rape.
    "Florida chapter of National Organization for Women endorses Alan Grayson".

    Big questions

    Jane Healy writes that the "race for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida certainly is a spirited one. The problem is that voters have to wrestle with big questions about each of the three candidates — Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek." She reviews some of them this morning in "Crist, Meek, Rubio all have big question marks".

    Dubya, Jebbie ... same thing

    Michael C. Bender's take on the Scott-Sink debate: "Scribbles after Rick Scott and Alex Sink debate" One of Bender's little gems:

    Scott might be one of the few Republicans in Florida who has a deeper relationship with George W. Bush than Jeb Bush. Scott and his business partner Richard Rainwater both owned part of the Texas Rangers at the same time as W.

    That might help explain Scott’s stumble when he tried to drop Jeb’s name in response to an education question:
    "Governor George, uh, Jeb Bush is here in the audience supporting me. He had a major impact on our schools."
    Dubya, Jebbie ... same thing.

    Hiaasen on "well-financed desperation"

    Carl Hiaasen: "Major home builders are uncorking a bombastic media blitz to scare Floridians away from voting yes to Amendment 4."

    The same people who helped ignite the housing crash and mortgage meltdown are absolutely terrified of giving citizens actual control over growth in their own communities.

    The so-called Hometown Democracy Amendment would require local voters to approve any significant changes to a county or city ``comprehensive land-use plan,'' the map by which municipalities evolve.

    If the measure passes -- and it needs the support of 60 percent of voters -- no massive housing subdivision or commercial development could be built without the project first appearing on a ballot.

    It's not exactly a radical concept, but the opposing special interests will do just about anything to kill it.

    They're scared because they know Floridians are fed up with lousy planning and overbuilding, and the high taxes that always result.

    They're scared because they know Floridians are sick of watching elected officials cave in again and again to developers, making a farce of land-use regulations.

    But mostly they're scared because, if passed, Amendment 4 has the potential to disrupt the influence-peddling and outright corruption that's made it so easy to subvert the will of the public.
    Just read it: "Running scared over Amendment 4". Related: "Poll shows support slipping for land-use amendment" ("The [Mason-Dixon] poll found support for the slow-growth amendment slipped from 53 percent in September to 44 percent this month.")

    Undecideds dominate Cabinet poll

    "A new poll shows that the Republican candidates for state Cabinet races have pulled slightly ahead of their Democratic opponents. But a high percentage of undecided voters remain, according to the poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc."

    • In the Attorney General's race, Pam Bondi, a former assistant state attorney from Hillsborough, leads Democratic state Sen. Dan Gelber, of Miami Beach, 42 percent to 37 percent. That's up from [sic]* a 38 to 24 percent lead in September and slightly more than the 4 percentage point margin of error**.

    • In the Chief Financial Officer race, Republican Jeff Atwater leads Democrat Loranne Ausley 34 percent to 29 percent***, up from a two-percentage point lead in September. However, 33 percent of those polled are still undecided.

    • In the Agriculture Commissioner race, Republican Adam Putnam's lead has grown from four points to nine points. As in the CFO race, however, nearly a third of those polled are undecided.
    "GOP pulls ahead in Cabinet races, new poll finds". See also "GOP candidates lead all 3 Cabinet races".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    * "42 percent to 37 percent" is obviously not "up from" Bondi's previous "38 to 24 percent" lead; rather, the current "42 percent to 37 percent" lead is down from her previous "38 to 24 percent" lead. Indeed, and unless this is a typo (we don't have the actual M-D poll), Bondi's "lead" has actually been reduced (putting aside the MoE) from a spread of fourteen (14) points in September to five (5) points), a stunning improvement for Gelber.

    ** That the gap between the two numbers is "slightly more than the 4 percentage point margin of error" really is beside the point. Because the margin of error applies to both numbers, Bondi's support could be as low as 38% and Gelber's as high as 41%, giving Gelber a 3 percentage point lead. Or, Bondi's support could be as high as 46% and Gelber's as low as 33%, giving Bondi a 13 percentage point lead. We have written about this many times over the the years, most recently yesterday in "Sink 'leads' in latest M-D poll".

    ***Because the margin of error applies to both numbers, Atwater's support could be as low as 30% and Ausley's as high as 33%, giving Ausley a 3 percentage point lead. Or, Atwater's support could be as high as 38% and Ausley's as low as 25%, giving Atwater a 13 percentage point lead.

    Guide to the amendments

    Scott Maxwell: "Confused by the amendments on the ballot? Here's a breakdown".

    About Meek

    "Meek trying to convince Democrats he can beat Rubio". Related: "With Election Day 23 days away, a split Senate decision".

    Amendments 5 and 6

    Derek Catron: "If approved by 60 percent of voters, amendments 5 and 6 would require compact and contiguous districts that more closely align with boundaries of cities and counties. The amendments -- one deals with state boundaries, the other with federal -- also would prohibit districts drawn to favor a specific political party. "

    Supporters say it would provide better representation by linking areas of common interest and promoting more-competitive races.

    Opponents argue the new districts will prompt court battles and hurt minority representation. The Legislature sponsored an amendment opponents said would have crippled the measures, but it was stricken from the ballot by the state Supreme Court.
    "A recent academic study (.pdf) predicts even if districts are drawn with an eye toward geography rather than race or political affiliation, the results could still favor one party over the other."
    A series of computer simulations, as part of an academic study, concluded Republicans would still hold the advantage in about 60 percent of districts because of residential-living patterns -- close to what they hold now.

    "Pro-Republican bias is a natural outgrowth of the geographic distribution of voters when districts must be compact and contiguous and Democrats are concentrated in cities," according to a paper presented last month by University of Michigan professor Jowei Chen and Jonathan Rodden of Stanford University.

    Aubrey Jewett, a political-science professor at the University of Central Florida, said he believes the amendments will pass but said voters need to be aware of their limitations.

    "My thought is it might help (change) a seat or two," Jewett said. "I think to say there will be no impact is a little much. But I don't think the Democrats will get as much change as they're looking for.
    "Oddly shaped voting districts at issue".

    Puffing Marco

    "Ambition, charisma propel Rubio". See also "A once unknown Rubio takes over lead in the Senate race".

    Teabaggers crowd downtown Naples

    "Marco Rubio pumps up downtown Naples crowd of 300".

    Scott's "plans" Alarms Economists

    Lloyd Dunkelberger: "Many of the questions surrounding Rick Scott's campaign to be Florida's next governor have centered on the massive fraud that occurred when he was CEO of what was then the nation's largest health care chain, Columbia/HCA."

    But some economists, and more than a few members of the Florida Legislature, are also alarmed by what Scott aims to do if elected. Specifically, they're concerned about his plan to revive Florida's economy.

    The plan is so audacious that some doubt whether Scott could get it passed, even in a Legislature where Republicans are projected to hold a 2-to-1 advantage.

    What makes the plan so controversial? Start with the premise of cutting billions of dollars in tax revenue from the state budget. Even in a boom year, that would be a challenge. But Scott is advocating it at a time when Florida is already facing a $2.5 billion shortfall next year. So far in the recession, Florida has avoided deep cuts in law enforcement, schools and other services by raiding trust funds and taking in massive aid from the federal government, but both sources have run dry, making next year a pivotal one in state budgeting.
    "On top of the budget shortfall, Scott wants to reduce state revenue by:"
    Imposing an immediate $1.4 billion reduction in property taxes supporting Florida's schools. Scott says it will reduce taxes for the owner of a $200,000 home by $200 a year.

    Permanently ending the state's corporate income tax over the next seven years. The tax represents nearly 3 percent of the state's budget.
    Much more here: "A look at the Rick Scott economy".

    "In loco aequo tempore aequo"

    "Democrat Loranne Ausley's campaign to be the state's next chief financial officer has gained traction by decrying the building as a monument to insider politics and business as usual. ... 'In loco aequo tempore aequo'. In the right place at the right time. And with the right friends." "Right place, Right time".

    Not your Mother's RPOF

    Howard Troxler: "Seventh in a series of columns on key votes taken by the Florida Legislature since the last election."

    This past spring, the Legislature voted to require women seeking first-trimester abortions in Florida to have an ultrasound, to view it, or to have their doctor describe the fetus to them unless they signed a form opting out.

    Women also could avoid this requirement if they provided evidence they were victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking. (This always struck me as odd. It's still okay to have abortions sometimes, then?)

    The measure was House Bill 1143. It also declared that no public health plan under Obamacare would cover abortions in Florida. Poor women not only would have to have an ultrasound; they had to pay for it.

    As we have seen on so many issues, this was a last-minute amendment to an otherwise innocuous bill about nursing homes. It did not go through the full process of committees, public input or deliberation. It was done on the fly.

    Nonetheless, the House voted 76-44 for the final bill. The Senate voted for it 23-16.

    Gov. Charlie Crist, who by this time was in full breakup mode with the Republican Legislature, vetoed it.
    "How the Legislature voted, Part 7: Abortions and ultrasounds".

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