"An uncommonly bitter fight for the chairmanship of Florida's victorious but battered Republican Party comes to a showdown this weekend in a five-way contest."
"This is not your father's Republican Party," said Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the party in Palm Beach County.True that.
Rick Scott, a total newcomer to politics, has publicly avoided endorsing anyone. The race has been uncommonly nasty, in some quarters. "5 in contest for Republican leadership".
Cox Roush was hurt by revelations of a 2004 drunk-driving arrest along with criticism of her catering company doing some business with the Tampa Bay area party. Long-dismissed allegations of domestic violence against another candidate, Jefferson County state committeeman Dave Bitner, were also distributed via e-mail.
Other candidates have denied being behind any of the attacks. Thrasher said the bitterness is partly a result of "people hiring campaign consultants and digging things up, which I don't like" and partly because many of the 257 Republican committee members don't want a rerun of the party's recent scandals. Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer of Oviedo was elected with then-Gov. Charlie Crist's backing four years ago, but was forced out last year. He was indicted on charges of grand theft and money laundering involving party funds and secret business dealings.
The other contenders for the chairmanship were Sarasota County Chairman Joe Gruters and Tony DiMatteo, a Pinellas County state committeeman.
Scott trips over that Sunshine thing
"Scott's public schedule on Wednesday left out the fact that he was holding a dinner for a group of seven lawmakers at the governor's mansion that night."
The dinner wound up being more than social, as conversation drifted from small talk to a few legislative issues. Petersen argued that the meeting obligated the House Speaker legally to give public notice of it, since three or more House members were there discussing legislative business."Scott, media adjusting to differing ideas on access".
Katie Betta, spokeswoman for House Speaker Dean Cannon, said there was no notice, as the Speaker's office was not told of the event. But she also disputed Petersen's contention, noting that House rules require such notice only if the purpose of the meeting is for the lawmakers to agree on or take formal legislative action.
Concerns about the event triggered a lengthy meeting on Thursday between members of the capital press corps and Burgess, who said afterward that the governor appreciates the role of the media and looks forward to working with them.
"This is a period of adjustment," he said. "The press is still getting used to us, and we're still getting used to the press."
The best Ricky can do?
Ricky continues to have a serious problem finding top talent willing to work with him.
"Gov. Rick Scott stayed close to home for his latest batch of political appointees, choosing a pair of Tallahassee veterans for two key posts Friday. Shoring up a staff short on local talent, the man who campaigned as an outsider picked up expertise in the nuances of state government, along with a seasoned investigator familiar with the bureaucratic landscape."
Curious, but perhaps understandable, choices: one (Darling) missed a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme, and the other (Miguel) was the IG with the troubled SBA:
Darling was in charge of the state Division of Accounting and Auditing under CFO Alex Sink in 2008 when she fired him following an internal audit that found a lack of internal controls. The audit followed discovery of a bizarre plot by a man in Miramar to defraud the state of billions of dollars by diverting the money to Lebanon. The scheme was discovered in time and defused by alert bank employees -- not state financial experts -- but it cost Darling his $111,000-a-year state job."Scott finds local talent for posts".
Miguel, 47, served as chief inspector general under Charlie Crist as both attorney general and governor, and left the governor's office last November to take a similar post at the State Board of Administration, which manages the state pension fund.
Ricky flipping on Arizona-style?
"Looks like the Arizona-style anti-immigration wave that helped float the political fortunes of candidates like Gov. Rick Scott is getting a reality check in Florida."
Although Republicans walked in virtual lock-step during last year's elections on the need to import the Arizona immigration law, the idea is getting a rough reception in Tallahassee."Aaron Deslatte: Anti-immigrant law gets chilly reception".
You might remember Scott's TV commercial: "Rick Scott backs Arizona's law; he'll bring it to Florida and let our police check if the people they arrest are here legally. That's common sense." ...
Florida's agricultural barons – who rely heavily on migrant workers – aren't supporting it.
Now that he has been elected - in no small part due to the Teabagger vote - Rick Scott has flip-flopped hard on the issue:
Scott has avoided the issue since he seized it to tar-and-feather primary opponent Bill McCollum last summer. He didn't broach the subject last week at a Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Coral Gables meant to help Republicans improve outreach to Latino voters.Will the Teabaggers give Scott yet another pass?
The governor has already scaled back his campaign promise to require all employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check the legal status of employees. The system has been known to produce false results, especially for women who change their last names after getting married.
Last week, Scott said he was fine with sticking to his executive order requiring state agencies to use the system and gave no indication he'd try to mandate private businesses use it as well.
"Called before an angry Senate committee with questions about a new $50 million courthouse, 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Paul Hawkes spent a lot of time saying he could not recall the answers."
What did Sen. Mike Fasano, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, think of Hawkes' appearance?"Judge behind lavish courthouse "lied'' in his testimony, legislator says".
"He lied,'' Fasano said.
Bits and Pieces
Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces".
Good luck with that, Bob
"Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who co-chaired a national commission on the Gulf oil spill, urges Florida to demand safety reforms." "Gulf oil spill a 'wake-up call'". See also "Graham: US needs watchdog for Big Oil" and "Bob Graham Wants Greater Standards, Regulations for Drillers".
Another fine idea by Ricky
"The E-Verify system, a federal database available to employers, failed to identify those workers as unauthorized 54 percent of the time, according to an audit released last year. Investigators discovered that was the percentage of illegal workers incorrectly deemed eligible for work. ... among those ultimately found to be here illegally — the group Scott is concerned about — its accuracy rate plunged." "E-Verify illegal-worker screening system has holes, report says".
GOP hypocrite has Florida connection
"The national Republican Party, coming off huge election victories but facing a $22 million debt and an internal war over identity, ousted chairman Michael Steele Friday and chose Wisconsin party chief Reince Priebus to lead in the run-up to the 2012 presidential race."
"Priebus will have to figure out how to navigate a GOP civil war in which conservatives and tea party disciples are trying to pull the Republican Party [even] further to the right".
Virtually unknown nationally, the Wisconsin GOP chairman has a high profile in his home state."New RNC chairman faces host of challenges". See also "New RNC head Priebus a driven, lifelong Republican" ("He earned a law degree from the University of Miami").
He's an attorney with the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, where he is a partner specializing in corporate litigation, according to the firm's website. State and federal campaign finance records show the Wisconsin Republican Party has paid the firm at least $89,572 in legal fees during Priebus' tenure as state GOP chairman.
Priebus' political statements have sometimes contrasted with the law firm's actions.
He has criticized Obama's multibillion-dollar economic stimulus package as a costly failure; Michael Best & Friedrich has helped clients try to win stimulus funds.
Comments of the Week
"Comments of the Week: Kaufman, Giffords, West, Wasserman Schultz, E-Verify and dirty tap water".
"Republicans stuck in a deep rut of denial and inflexibility"
"Republican leadership is stuck in a deep rut of denial and inflexibility when it comes to Latino outreach and their party’s position on immigration. They seem to think that taking up kinder, gentler 'rhetoric' and reaching out on 'common values'—instead of revisiting their party’s extreme immigration policies—will do the trick." "GOP Hispanic Conference Highlights Deep Denial on Immigration". See also "Jeb to GOP: How to Appeal to Hispanics" and "GOP leaders: Anti-immigration stance hurts party".
"A Senate bill is being written that could eventually bring Las Vegas-style destination resorts to the state and maybe even to Southwest Florida." "Bid is in for more Florida casinos; Senator to author bill calling for expansion".
Castor's Cuba coup
"For the first time in nearly 50 years, Tampa International Airport will be eligible to restore direct flights to Cuba, fulfilling a longstanding goal of local Cuban Americans forced to rely on Miami's airport because of federal restrictions."
And then there're the knuckle-draggers:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who took office earlier this month, said in a statement that the new policy toward Cuba was "unthinkable.""Castor: Tampa airport will be eligible for direct flights to Cuba". See also "Obama's new policy opens way for flights to Cuba out of Tampa". See generally: "White House: Obama to ease Cuba travel restrictions".
"I was opposed to the changes that have already been made by this administration and I oppose these new changes," Rubio said.
Update: "Day wins RNC co-chair".
"Following Reince Priebus’s win as chairman of the national Republican Party, Sharon Day of Fort Lauderdale, one of three Florida delegates to the Republican National Committee and secretary of the RNC, is about to run for co-chairman. Because of gender rules for national GOP officials, Priebus’ win removes a possible roadblock for Day." "Priebus win opens way for Day".
Ricky's self induced rail bind
"Florida would be mistaken if it did not proceed with its high-speed rail project, given the feasibility, funding and economic opportunity, the lead author of a national report on high-speed rail said Thursday. That's what she would tell Florida Gov. Rick Scott if she were asked, said Petra Todorovich, an urban planner with America 2050, a New York-based consortium of planners, scholars and policy makers. " "Planner says Scott should take high-speed rail money".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Scott is getting conflicting advice from within his party about whether to seek bids to build a Tampa-Orlando rapid-rail line or abandon the concept. The case against taking federal money to build the train comes mostly from people and groups skeptical of government projects, especially transit, and most especially rail. Supporters, including this newspaper, believe that starting the nation's high-speed rail network in Florida will benefit the state's economy and image, at little risk to state taxpayers." "Making rail deal a winner".