"The Republican Party of Florida on Saturday elected a new chairman -- former legislator and lobbyist David Bitner -- after one of the nastiest contests the party has ever seen."
Capping a tumultuous period for the GOP in America's biggest battleground state, the election came months after the ouster and subsequent arrest of former state party chairman Jim Greer on charges of stealing party funds."Bitner faces some major challenges in his two-year term:"
"The problems of the past are behind us,'' declared Gov. Rick Scott, who was officially neutral, although his 10 appointees to the party executive committee united behind Bitner.
Congressional and legislative lines will be re-drawn, always a dicey process; a potentially divisive U.S. Senate primary; a looming showdown with the national GOP as Florida looks to buck the rules and schedule an early presidential primary in 2012 and stage a presidential debate in October. He also will have to rebuild the trust of the party's small donors, who stopped giving amid revelations of lavish spending by party officials."Republicans pick state chief". See also "Bitner voted chairman of Fla. Republican Party", "Tallahassee lobbyist Bitner elected to lead state GOP", "Dave Bitner Elected New RPOF Chairman", "Florida Republicans pick new party chairman" and "Dinerstein, rivals chill after heated race" ("Saturday’s GOP chair vote ends weeks of incognito vitriol.")
What's more, Democrats still have a 600,000 voter edge, and Obama has already shown the capacity to build a juggernaut campaign.
"Expanding criminal investigation" of Rivera
"After dropping out of a state Senate race last year to run for Congress, David Rivera set aside tens of thousands of dollars from his dormant Senate campaign account to say 'thank you' to supporters of a race he never intended to finish." This latest by Rivera is being
scrutinized as part of an expanding criminal investigation of the Republican congressman's personal and campaign accounts by Miami-Dade police and prosecutors, The Miami Herald has learned."Investigators look into Rep. Rivera's 'thank you' spending".
Tampa GOPer convention team booted
"There's a new Republican national chairman in office, and he's about to clean house on the team putting together the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa." "New chairman targets GOP team setting up 2012 national convention in Tampa".
"Please do not rant against the liberals on this one"
Mike Thomas: "There will be no Arizona-style immigration law in Florida. There will be no crackdown on illegal workers. Gov. Rick Scott will be leading no bus caravans back to Mexico."
Too much of Florida's economy relies on illegal workers. So they aren't going anywhere except back to the hotel rooms, the construction sites, the restaurant kitchens and the vegetable fields."There's no way Florida will crack down on illegal workers". Related: "Aaron Deslatte: Anti-immigrant law gets chilly reception".
If it's any consolation for him, McCollum was right when he said: "We don't need that law in Florida. That's not what's going to happen here."
Truth can be bad politics.
And please do not rant against the liberals on this one. ...
The business round tables that preside over Florida's economy don't mind if Republicans demagogue on illegal immigrants to get elected. If that's what it takes to beat Democrats, then so be it. But once they are in office, and it's time to govern, business is business.
"Las Vegas wants to come to Florida"
Michael Mayo: "Florida's gambling hodgepodge isn't meant to be consistent, rational or efficient. It hasn't been designed with the interests of gamblers or tourists in mind, but is mainly a testament to turf battles and special-interest legislation."
Over the last decade, South Florida's tribal casinos and pari-mutuel racinos arose despite widespread opposition by state political leaders, spawned by court battles, statewide amendment drives and local votes in Broward and Miami-Dade counties."Vegas style casinos in cards for S, Fla.?".
A maddening mix that befuddles bettors and ultimately shortchanges the state.
You want to go someplace where you can play slots, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, horses and dogs, all under the same roof?
For that, you still have to go to Las Vegas.
Now Las Vegas wants to come to Florida.
Central Florida Latinos want Congressional seat
"Florida's population growth has earned it two more seats in Congress. Because Hispanics in Central Florida have been key to that growth, Latino leaders are gearing up to try to claim one of those seats."
They also want the Florida Legislature to ensure that the 900,000 Hispanics living in the Interstate 4 corridor are better represented in Tallahassee."Latino leaders: Hispanic growth deserves new districts".
Members of the Democratic National Committee, the Latino Justice Program and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials are among those already working to make that happen.
College students might openly carry weapons
"In the aftermath of Tucson's shooting rampage, lawmakers in Florida are ready to make their stand on guns clearer: They want more people to have the right to carry them in the open and fewer government restrictions."
Legislators have filed three separate bills, one that would restrict local governments from regulating firearms, another to stop doctors from even asking patients about them and a third to grant licensed gun owners the right to wear firearms outside their clothing — including on college campuses."Looser gun laws, including open carry, in Florida's legislative hopper". See also "Lawmaker still aims to liberalize gun laws". See also "Bill would ban doctors from asking patients about ownership of firearms".
Fred Grimm: "NRA & friends totally oblivious to Ariz. tragedy". See also "Arizona aftermath: Fla. gun bill would allow 'open carry’" ("'Wild West’ state may affect tourism, some say.")
Never mind the wingnuttery
Myriam Marquez observes that at the Hispanic Leadership Network's meeting (little more than a jazzed up right wing GOTV conference), "no one mentioned the tea party or that GOP legislators had just spent days in Tallahassee discussing offensive Arizona-style tactics to harass people who talk with an accent or 'look' Hispanic." "GOP wise to court Hispanics".
"We do stupid like Nebraska does corn"
"Here in Florida, we see so many outlandish political ploys that it's hard anymore to get too worked up about any particular one. We do stupid like Nebraska does corn. Still, one Central Florida legislator's proposal for a new law is so box-of-rocks awful that it's worth highlighting." "An idea as dumb as it sounds: Make it a crime for doctor to ask you about guns".
Thank you, Mr. Obama
"Florida is stuck in the transition between the time when companies stop laying off and when they begin to hire, said economist Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida's College of Business. ... U.S. companies are predicting a 9 percent increase in jobs when adjusted for seasonal employment, such as summer workers." "Florida 'on the cusp' of job creation".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board argues that "Congress mustn't drown out sensible proposals to eliminate oil spills." "Better ways to drill". Related: "Bob Graham Wants Greater Standards, Regulations for Drillers".
"It will be up to the Florida PSC"
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "It will be up to the Florida Public Service Commission to ensure a multistate corporate parent treats its Florida customers fairly." "What Florida needs from new utility".
Fop on first
"Sen. John Thrasher made an important political endorsement on Saturday. Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, had remained officially neutral in party primaries and races for Republican offices as chairman. But once the GOP state executive committee elected his successor, the powerful political player endorsed Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, for the party's 2012 U.S. Senate nomination." "Thrasher endorses Haridopolos for US Senate".
Wingnut of the week
We usually don't link to letters to the editor, but this laffer is worth a read: "Unions destroying America".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "States that produce their own energy have a big economic advantage over states like Florida that do not. The unemployment rate in Florida in November was 12 percent. In Iowa, the leading producer of ethanol, it was 6.2 percent."
Florida imports almost all of its energy, which means it exports money. A good way to keep some of that money at home would be to look to what has always been a cornerstone industry in the state: agriculture. Lately it has suffered from bad weather and falling property values even as food and energy prices have increased. And unlike drilling for oil in state waters a few miles off shore, tapping biofuels would not jeopardize our coast or our $65 billion a year tourism industry."Energizing agriculture".
Conservative Florida leaders, including Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam from Polk County and Sen. Mike Bennett from Bradenton, are right to explore reasonable ways to help farmers and ranchers get into the energy business.