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.


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The Blog for Saturday, October 23, 2010

Will "the she-coon walk just before the light of day''?

    Tim Nickens: "The state’s chief financial officer has yet to drive home the same essential point Lawton Chiles made 16 years ago: She is the candidate who knows Florida best and has the proven track record in public office and private business." "Sink still looking for he-coon moment".

    Grayson's most formidable opponent

    "U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, put on a one-man show at Friday's Tiger Bay Club congressional debate."

    The podium for his opponent, former state Sen. Dan Webster, stood empty – Webster declined the invite -- so Grayson fielded questions from the audience for nearly an hour.

    Grayson was mostly at ease, and even coaxed snickers by sprinkling self-deprecating jokes amid his list of accomplishments.

    After noting Webster's absence, Grayson deadpanned, "That leaves me to debate my most formidable opponent: That would be me."
    "Alan Grayson debates himself at Tiger Bay".

    Guv race wide open

    "Republican Rick Scott narrowly leads Democrat Alex Sink in Florida's too-close-to-call governor's race thanks to enthusiastic conservatives and widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, according to a new St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll."

    Scott's 3-percentage-point advantage among likely voters comes at the perfect time: the opening week of early voting, with more Republicans than Democrats headed to the polls. Election Day is Nov. 2.

    But besting Sink, the state's chief financial officer, isn't a simple task for Scott, a political newcomer.

    Scott's 44-41 lead is well within the poll's 4.1 percent margin of error.
    "Playing down her Democratic roots has helped Sink attract independent voters. They favor her by 11 percentage points more than Scott. That's crucial for Sink because independents tend to be the deciding factor in Florida races."
    But it's not enough. About a third of independents are undecided — and they're the least likely to vote this election when compared with Republicans and Democrats, the poll shows.

    Republicans are the most fired-up voters this year. Three-quarters of registered Republican voters say they're "completely certain'' they will vote, compared to two-thirds of Democrats, who have narrowed the so-called "enthusiasm gap'' in recent months.

    By a 15 percentage point margin, Republicans are also more likely than Democrats to say they're paying a "great deal'' of attention to the election. Another problem for Sink: 16 percent of Democrats are voting for Scott, while 10 percent are undecided.

    Even Scott's bitter rival in the GOP primary, Attorney General Bill McCollum, has changed his mind. After the August primary, McCollum had refused to back Scott. But late Friday he issued a statement saying Scott was "the better choice for Florida."

    "She has work to do," said Julia Clark, pollster for Ipsos Public Affairs. "She needs to solidify her Democratic base, convince the undecideds to swing to her and get more independent votes."
    "It's still anyone's race". See also "Victory for Scott, Sink is up to swing vote", "Poll: Scott and Sink Locked in Dead Heat" and "Poll: Dem Sink, GOPer Scott Tied In FL-GOV".

    McCollum holds his nose

    "McCollum endorses Scott for governor".

    Sex with West ... now that's a gruesome visual

    "Wasserman, a Democrat from District 20, was written about in a decidedly unflattering manner that questioned her sexual desirability in this month's issue of Wheels on the Road, a South Florida-based publication. That magazine includes among its columnists Allen West, a motorcycle rider who is the GOP candidate in neighboring District 22, where he is trying to unseat Wasserman's Democratic colleague Ron Klein."

    Wasserman called the magazine, which regularly features bare-breasted or naked women, "degrading, sexist and misogynistic.'' She did not accuse West of personally writing anything derogatory toward women, but she said his association with the magazine was bad enough.

    "He thinks it's OK to objectivize and denigrate women,'' Wasserman told the crowd of several dozen supporters. She said such depictions can stir violence against women and called on West to condemn the publication.

    West has responded that he sends to the magazine the same column -- called Washingtoons -- that he e-mails regularly to all interested parties. He has said he has no other connection to the publication and the rest of its content and that his only motive in supplying the column is trying to get his conservative message out.
    "Wasserman Schultz critical of rival's ties to magazine".

    "In the October 2010 issue, West's column 'Washingtoons' appears on page 20. Another column, on page 40, says the upcoming election is the time to get rid of 'Barry Obongo,' and asks readers in some detail to imagine having sex with Wasserman Schultz." "Ron Klein supporters protest Allen West's links to magazine".

    Fla Bar credit for voter suppression training?

    TPM: "We've been telling you a lot about the Republican National Lawyers Association and the election law seminars they hold throughout the country. We had an idea of what the seminars were about, pieced together from who the featured speakers were. But now we have a much, much better idea."

    Thanks to the Florida Bar, TPMMuckraker took a look at the agenda for an election law seminar put on by the RNLA on Sept. 10 at a Disney resort. The agenda, which is part of the RNLA's application to have the seminar count for Continuing Legal Education credit for attending lawyers, includes bios of all the speakers, and a list of the lessons given.

    You can take a look at the whole thing here.

    The sessions, not surprisingly, focus a lot on Election Day activities: poll-watching, electioneering, voting machine problems, provisional ballots and Election Day litigation. ...

    At the Florida event, two speakers who were outwardly political were Rick Scott, the former hospital mogul and current candidate for governor, and Pam Bondi, candidate for attorney general. They aren't included on the agenda because their speeches didn't count as part of the continuing education. As one speaker who spoke about Election Day law, Sarah Rumpf, pointed out on her blog, the two were at the hotel because the Republican Party of Florida's quarterly meeting was being held there the same weekend.

    As for the educational speakers at the Florida event, they included ...
    "How A GOP Group Trains Lawyers For Election Day".

    Bottom line: RPOFer strategists always want fewer people to vote. Historically, GOPer "voter protection" activities are directed at Dem/minority precincts, with the object of discourage voting. To wit: voter suppression.

    They've been doing it for decades; some of our older readers may recall this story about one of the most infamous GOPer schemes, Operation Eagle Eye, starring a GOPer thug who would later be famously called "Renchberg": "Just Our Bill" (Published on Saturday, December 2, 2000 in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

    The historical norm

    "More Republicans have voted early or by absentee than Democrats so far this year -- a lead that has some in the GOP crowing, but Democrats arguing it reflects historical norms for this point in the election cycle."

    Data provided by the Democrats show that the GOP led by a similar margin in total ballots cast at this point in the 2006 election, when then-Republican Charlie Crist won the governor's race but Sink won her current office of chief financial officer. Even in 2008, when Democrats were rallying behind Barack Obama in the presidential race, Republicans held a slim lead in total ballots cast at this point.
    "Dems argue that early GOP voter turnout not a bad sign".

    Aaron Deslatte: "With an ominous enthusiasm gap exposed in the August primary, Florida Democrats have been comforting themselves by touting their superior "Accountability 2010" voter-turnout efforts over the past month. So it must have hit like a cold shower when the – early – early-voting figures started to trickle in last week." "Governor's race could hinge on early voting". See also "Poor Turnout Means Trouble for Alex Sink".

    Kos: "While Dems are keeping pace in early voting near everywhere around the country, there's one place where that's not the case -- Florida." One theory is that many Dems "are holding off in case Democrat Kendrick Meek or independent Charlie Crist drop out of the Senate race against Republican Marco Rubio." "FL-Sen: Killing early voting".

    Related: "Kendrick Meek Wants Dems to Come Home in Senate Race’s Final Days".

    Can Rubio see Cuba from Florida*

    Palin and Rubio together at last: "Palin is the main attraction at the 2010 Victory Fundraising Rally in Orlando Saturday. Also joining her is Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, Republican U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio." "Palin rallies Republicans in Fla.". See also "Palin rallies Republicans in Florida".

    - - - - - - - -
    *Palin famously suggested she had "insight into Russian actions" viz. the Georgia conflict because "you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska".

    Easy call

    "In the heart of North Florida prison country, where corrections jobs are handed down like a birthright and mistrust of government runs high, picking a governor has become more complicated than marking Democrat or Republican." "Corrections workers weigh gubernatorial candidates".

    Miller time?

    "If the Nov. 2 elections give Republicans control of the House as expected, Rep. Jeff Miller could become chairman of the committee that oversees issues vital to veterans living in Florida's Panhandle." "Election could hand Miller vets panel".

    Haridopolos' delusions of grandeur

    "Senate President Mike Haridopolos is talking with senators about the possibility of overriding some of Gov. Charlie Crist’s 18 vetoes from this year during the coming organizational session, raising the possibility of the first veto reversals in more than a decade." "Senate Talking Veto Overrides".

    Crist Continues Attacks on Rubio

    "Charlie Crist Continues Attacks Against Marco Rubio". Related: "Meek's Debate Plan: Hit Rubio, Not Crist".

    Questions about their motives

    "One particularly heated debate during the current election is the battle over Amendments 5 and 6, which, if passed, would create stricter rules for legislators to follow while redrawing state districts."

    Protect Your Vote, a political action committee founded in order to campaign against the amendments, argues that 5 and 6 would make redistricting a long and costly process and would result in a decrease in minority representation in Congress and the Florida legislature.

    But a look at the leadership behind Protect Your Vote raises questions about the organization’s motives.
    "Former Florida Secretary of State Browning leads Republican-bankrolled anti-Fair Districts group".

    She grew up on on a farm

    "Alex Sink"

    quickly identifies the bulldog mascot on Wanda Kemp's denim shirt and asks about the Friday night high school game.

    "Who y'all playing?" Sink asks. "I hear you're undefeated."

    In a state politically dominated by the cities and suburbs along Interstate 4, Sink often struggles to deliver the snappy sound bites favored by newscasts in Florida's major media markets.

    But in the conservative belt of rural North Florida, home to about 20 percent of the state's voters, Sink is affable and seems at ease slapping backs, shaking hands and selling her Democratic campaign for governor.

    "I grew up on a tobacco farm," she said in Perry. "Tobacco, cows, hogs — whatever my daddy could make money at. Year by year, it was a big decision."
    "Following the footsteps of Walkin' Lawton. Alex Sink campaigns in North Florida". See also "Sink courts Panhandle crossover votes with Southern charm, gridiron son" and "Governor-hopeful Sink starts tour of North Florida in Perry".

    RPOFers looking to sweep Cabinet

    "Republicans appear headed for a clean sweep of all seats on the Florida Cabinet, according to a new statewide poll of likely voters. The survey for the St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13 [of 801 registered voters, including 577 likely voters, was conducted Oct. 15-19 by Ipsos with an MOE of 4.1%] shows Republicans with wide leads in races for attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner, though a significant chunk of voters remain undecided." "Republicans poised to win Fla. Cabinet posts, poll shows".

    And then there's Rick

    "Young Rick Scott recalled as driven, frugal, studious, focused". See also "Rick Scott's austerity plan for state government may be tough sell in North Florida".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "An estimated 300,000 Florida homes sit empty, and the state is in the midst of a foreclosure crisis. Yet Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott wants to make it easier to build new homes. That may sound good to developers or unemployed construction workers on the campaign trail. But the strategy would only exacerbate falling property values and hurt our long-term quality of life." "Scott's bad plan on growth".

    Up one year ...

    Beth Reinhard: "Political careers: Up one year, down the next".

    King Cannon

    "The Legislature's new presiding officers are wasting no time making their presence felt."

    Like every Florida Republican, incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon has blasted the federal health-care overhaul bill that could pass along additional costs and mandates to the states. Now, it sounds like he could be trying to do something more than talk about it.

    The Winter Park Republican has sent out a memo criticizing Gov. Charlie Crist's executive branch stewardship as the state starts phasing in portions of the health-care reform that task state agencies with enforcing federal mandates. He notes that that Attorney General Bill McCollum's office is challenging the law in court.

    Cannon adds that he's concerned about state agencies acting without the Florida Legislature's "clear and comprehensive guidance." He wants agencies to disabuse themselves of the constitutional separation of powers and – basically -- start reporting to him.
    "Active presiders".

    Scott bids $60M

    "Scott's personal spending on Fla. gov race tops $60 million, inluding $3.6 in last filing period".

    "Distinct approaches"

    "Maddox and Putnam offer distinct approaches to Agriculture Commissioner job".

    Who owns Florida?

    "The Florida Medical Association ($670,000), a nursing home group ($390,000), the phosphate industry ($444,000), credit unions ($347,500) and Florida Realtors ($311,000) have combined to give the Republican Party of Florida more than $2.1 million this year. The Florida Chamber of Commerce poured another $100,000 into Scott's electioneering committee this month, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield gave another $100,000." "Gubernatorial candidates get big bucks from different donors".

    Will Scott disavow this endorsement?

    "A Florida organization 'advocating immigration enforcement' with ties to a nationwide anti-immigrant group flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center is endorsing Rick Scott for governor. ... Here is how the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes FAIR:"

    Founded in 1978 by John H. Tanton, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is one of the country’s best-established anti-immigration groups.


    Tanton remains on FAIR’s board and also is the publisher of The Social Contract Press, which sells racist anti-immigrant tracts.

    Dan Stein, the group’s executive director, has warned that certain immigrant groups are engaged in “competitive breeding” aimed at diminishing white power. Rick Oltman, FAIR’s western representative, has spoken before and worked with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens.

    Garrett Hardin, a FAIR board member, has argued that aiding starving Africans is counterproductive and will only “encourage population growth.” Overall, FAIR blames immigrants for crime, poverty, disease, urban sprawl and increasing racial tensions in America, and calls for a drastic cut in the numbers of those allowed in.
    "Scott endorsed by group with ties to Southern Poverty Law Center-cited anti-immigrant organization".

    Haridopolos asserts himself

    "Incoming Senate president says lawmakers could vote to override vetoes." "Haridopolos says there is a strong chance for a November special session".

    Shovel ready

    "High speed rail projects set to roll".

    Truth be told

    "When former Florida Public Service Commission chairwoman Nancy Argenziano resigned last week to make political endorsements, she delivered a stinging -- yet familiar -- criticism of the panel: That it is a revolving door with the utilities it regulates." "Analysis of Florida Public Service Commission shows truth in criticism".

    HD 61

    "State Rep. Will Weatherford responded to a question about harmony in his neighborhood with a joke: 'Nobody has shot me with a BB gun yet as I've been driving through, so that's good.' A Republican seeking to retain the state House District 61 seat he won in 2006, Weatherford was addressing the climate in Brookside, the small, upscale neighborhood where he lives near Democratic rival and political neophyte Elena McCullough." "Neighbors square off in race".

    It ain't me

    "With less than two weeks to go until the general election, Florida’s unemployment continues to grow -- and the politicians are attempting to point the blame at their opponents." "Florida's Unemployment Rate Rises, Shaking Up Political Landscape".

    Big of him

    "Bill McCollum drops gay adoption case, so Florida's ban is no more". See also "Florida Attorney General McCollum won't appeal gay adoption ruling".

    RPOFers set to re-appoint Norman

    "Many Republicans are worried about the adverse publicity stirred up by the Ambler lawsuit and an ongoing FBI investigation of the Hughes' gift. At least one witness is scheduled to appear before a federal grand jury next week looking into the case." "GOP meeting today to replace Norman".

    CD 25

    "Conventional wisdom has it that little connects the people of the 25th Congressional District, a mammoth and unwieldy, gerrymandered region spanning three counties and 13 cities. It is simultaneously suburban and rural, industrial and agricultural, Republican and Democratic. But this year, politically disenchanted voters collectively worry about one issue: the economy. So it would appear the race for the vacant congressional seat would remain in the political hands of Republicans on Nov. 2. Yet the 25th, with its wealth of independents, still defies easy labeling, making it a closely watched swing district in the country's largest swing state -- and a key target for both parties aiming to control the U.S. House." "Diverse district reflects disenchantment".

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