"There's a new Democratic star in Florida, the mayor-elect of Jacksonville. Even Republicans who worked hard to defeat him quietly acknowledge Brown had a strong centrist message blended with likability and vision. Runnerup: Rod Smith. The state Democratic chairman bet against the odds and invested heavily in Brown's campaign and ended up helping revive his party's image." "Winners and losers".
Kenric Ward: "A Democrat's upset victory in Jacksonville's mayoral election was trumpeted as a major blow to Republicans and a repudiation of Gov. Rick Scott in particular." "Democrats Nationalized Jacksonville Mayoral Runoff".
"Someone like West"
Antonio Fins: "A few weeks ago, I was inundated by 'Draft Allen West for President' emails from around the country. At first I dismissed them, since West is barely into his first term in Congress. But now I'm not so sure it's that outlandish a proposition."
He's not a career politician, so you can't tag him with much of the wreckage that the Washington insiders have to account for. He's a military man, and let's just say the military is in a lot more vogue than at any point since World War II."Ripe climate: Someone like West for president? ".
More than that, West possesses the type of charisma that appeals to all kinds of people on the political spectrum. As I walked out of a speech he gave to a business group last month, I heard attendees muttering how much they liked him even though they didn't agree with a lot of his "far-right" stances.
I've been following West for the past four years, ever since a summer afternoon in 2007 when he showed up to introduce himself as a candidate for Congress. At the time of our meeting, a story was circulating that Lt. Col. West had mistreated an Iraqi detainee during an interrogation by, among other allegations, firing a round above his head.
On the heels of the Abu Ghraib scandals, the implication was that West had acted abusively. Good luck trying to make that case to the overall public in light of the deliverance of justice upon one Osama bin Laden.
Since then, I've seen West in various arenas — on TV talk shows, talking to local business groups, in political rallies — and he's been comfortable in each of those stages. He's someone who knows how to appeal to different and diverse audiences.
Now, can he parlay that into a national campaign, under much more intense scrutiny? Can he raise $1 billion to match the president's war chest? That's another matter.
And, like I said above, West has stated he's returning to District 22. I have no reason to doubt that.
But I have no reason to doubt that conditions for a successful run by someone like West will be there in 2012, either.
While we were sleeping ...
... people with pensions were working: "One carjacking suspect was fatally shot and a second was wounded in a shooting involving deputies from the Broward Sheriff's Office early Monday, authorities said. According to BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion, the incident began shortly after 1:30 a.m. when detectives who were leaving the scene of an earlier home invasion investigation were flagged down by man". "1 dead after 2 shot by BSO deputies".
The arrogance of these people, to actually expect a defined benefit pension upon retirement.
"Surge in homeless"
"This month, Brevard Public Schools counted 964
students it considers homeless or "in transition" ... because they have no stable place to live. That's 10 times more than just four years ago, about the time of the recession." "Brevard schools see surge in homeless, at-risk students".
Cracking down on unemployed
"State is now randomly checking whether unemployed are looking for work". Related: "It may get easier for employers to challenge jobless claims".
"As federal regulators continue to look for lessons from Japan's nuclear disaster, critics are pleading for changes in three key nuclear emergency areas. It matters to Floridians because the state has five reactors, four of which are slated to expand, with plans to build four new ones." "What will Florida nuclear power plants learn from Japan?".
The best she can do?
Nancy Smith loves her Ricky: "Why are we still hearing about the governor's 'extravagant' nameplate on Florida welcome signs? Enough already. As issues go, an $8,800 expense taken from a $69.7 billion budget is about as scandalous as a saucy seaside postcard." "$8,800 Worth of Welcome Signs: What's the Ruckus?".
In Miami-Dade, "Democrats are virtual nonentities"
"In the wake of a surprising Democratic victory in Jacksonville's mayoral election last week, the contest for the top job in Miami-Dade is a Republican-only affair. County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina are the clear leaders in the polls ahead of Tuesday's special election, and are expected to advance to a runoff. Democrats are virtual nonentities in the 11-candidate field."
"The Democratic Party in Miami-Dade is not organized. They have a terrible ground game. They've been shut out of county politics for years," says Sean Foreman, assistant professor at Barry University in Miami Lakes."Republicans Locked and Loaded for Miami-Dade's Mayoral Race".
Tuesday's mayoral race is officially nonpartisan, but, as in Jacksonville and Tampa, where Democrat Bob Buckhorn was elected mayor earlier this year, there's no confusion over party affiliations in Miami-Dade.
And Then There Were None
"The St. Petersburg Times and POLITICO have formed a partnership to cover presidential politics in Florida and the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa." "St. Petersburg Times, POLITICO team up for 2012 coverage".
Budget "another headwind in the economic recovery"
"The $69.7 billion state budget now before Gov. Rick Scott will send tremors through Florida's struggling economy, with school districts, hospitals and other big employers soon cutting jobs and programs because of a sharp drop in taxpayer dollars, economists say. Scott has generally praised the spending plan for shrinking government, cutting regulations and reducing taxes. He says it will spur private business expansion and fulfill his campaign pledge to create 700,000 jobs over seven years."
Many analysts aren't so sure."Florida's budget cuts stir fears of loss in jobs".
More certain, they say, is that state government's pullback will lead to at least a short-term reduction in dollars coursing through Florida. It could add to the state's 10.8 percent unemployment rate, they warn.
"A reduction in state spending? Well, first, that's just going to reduce jobs," said David Denslow, head of the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Demographic Research.
"It's going to be another headwind in the economic recovery," said Denslow, an occasional adviser to the Republican-led legislature. "You're cutting employment, reducing infrastructure spending and lowering the amount of money going to communities. That's going to have a negative effect."
Scott has until June 1 to act on the budget. But critics say a foreshadowing of its impact came the day lawmakers sent him the plan last week: Broward County announced 1,400 teacher layoffs.
"Two small rays of hope"
Tim Nickens: "It seems everyone is a sworn enemy of anyone with a different viewpoint, and there is no one searching for the middle ground in Tallahassee or Washington. Both political parties are too often held hostage by their most extreme elements, and there is little consensus building within their own ranks — much less reaching across the aisle. Democrats have been shut out in Tallahassee by perhaps the most conservative governor and Legislature in modern times."
Amid the gloom, I found two small rays of hope last week in a Democratic member of Congress from Tampa and Republican voters from Jacksonville."Glimmers of hope amid the extremes".
In a frank discussion with the Times editorial board, Rep. Kathy Castor recited the Democratic Party line about the fight over raising the federal debt ceiling. She said any plan for automatic triggers to reduce the federal deficit if Congress does not act on its own should include both spending cuts and revenue increases. But Castor went on to say that to raise revenue, she would be willing to explore limiting or phasing out the tax deduction for home mortgage interest as part of a broad deficit reduction plan. Similarly, she also would explore capping or phasing out the tax exclusion on employer-provided health insurance. In another era, Democrats wouldn't dare to raise either issue. But we're in different times, and Castor's moderate pragmatism reflects the sorts of discussions we all should be having about tough choices.
The bigger news came in generally conservative Jacksonville, which elected a Democrat as mayor for the first time in 20 years. Alvin Brown stitched together a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans to narrowly upset conservative Republican Mike Hogan, who was backed by the tea party movement and Gov. Rick Scott. Brown, who also becomes the city's first African-American mayor, ran as a centrist and focused on job creation. A Florida Times-Union analysis found Brown ran up large margins in Democratic precincts, won some precincts a more moderate Republican won in the primary, and kept it closer in precincts Hogan won.
Hypocrite is ...
... As hypocrite does: "Gov. Rick Scott has repeatedly slammed the $787 billion federal stimulus bill and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has been a critic as well, telling conservative website NewsMax last fall that the stimulus"
"has clearly shown that it has not created sustainable jobs. What it has done is grow government even larger.""Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, a stimulus critic, cut ribbon on Delray apartments built with $7.3 million in stimulus money".
But Carroll was wielding an oversized pair of scissors in Delray Beach on Friday to cut the ribbon on an affordable housing project that was financed with at least $7.3 million in stimulus money.
Speaking out of both sides of his derrière
"Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist said earlier this month he wanted the once-in-a-decade process of drawing new commission district lines to be as 'non-partisan and as simple as it can possibly be.' Shortly after he made that statement, however, Crist alienated his Democratic colleague, Commissioner Les Miller, with some backroom maneuvers to redraw the district. Crist ordered a county employee to draw a map that put most of Temple Terrace back into his district. The city had been moved into Miller's district on four initial maps drawn by a county redistricting task force." "[Victor] Crist's attempt to redraw district criticized".
Dems sellout teachers
"When Florida voted in 2001 to create a corporate tax credit voucher program for low-income students, only one Democrat supported the idea. Ten years later, when it came time to vote on a bill (HB 965) that expanded the amount of tax credit a company gets for making a donation to a school voucher program, 24 Democrats chose to support the bill. That’s a remarkable policy shift for Democrats, who started out nearly united in their opposition to vouchers."
The votes also coincide with an increasing number of campaign donations and political advertising support of Democrats by individuals or groups that back voucher programs, including the corporate tax credit scholarship program."Does Money Spent by Voucher Groups Equal Votes?".
Democrats say their support of voucher programs is not connected to contributions but rather an awakening that private school vouchers help many low-income students receive a good education.
“I support it because this money goes toward scholarships for children of African-Americans in low-income areas,” said Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, who received donations from a voucher proponent. Black caucus members especially have embraced some voucher programs and say it reflects demands of their constituents – who are more likely to live in areas with poor-performing public schools.
Since 2004, about $5 million was spent by two “527” groups, which are political fund-raising organizations that spend money advocating for an issue, according to campaign finance records.
These groups – All Children Matter and Florida Federation for Children – specifically support school voucher programs. These groups have ties with national pro-voucher organizations such as the American Federation for Children. Both of these political advocacy groups are run by John Kirtley, who successfully lobbied in 2001 to get the corporate tax credit scholarship program approved by the Legislature.
Scott likes "'vote-killing' regulations"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott hates regulations. Indeed, the phrase "job-killing regulations" has become a virtual motto. But while he has little use for rules intended to protect the public health, consumers or the environment, he doesn't object to 'vote-killing' regulations." "Vote-killing regulations".
"Haridopolos makes no apologies"
"State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, told a Leadership Pasco group last week that the Legislature would work better if presiding officers were barred from running for other offices while serving (like state Senate President Mike Haridopolos) ... Haridopolos makes no apologies." "No apologies from Haridopolos for running".
Ricky wingnuts it up in Virginia
"Gov. Rick Scott went to Tyson’s Corner in northern Virginia today for a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive and sometimes controversial religious right group."
The group, founded in 1981 by a group including the late conservative icon Paul Weyrich, doesn’t publish its membership or activities."Scott meets with secretive religious right group".
But according to various researchers, it has included the nation’s top religious right leaders over the years, from Pat Robertson to James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, as well as businessmen including the Coors brothers and Amway founder Rich DeVos, and political figures from former Attorney General John Ashcroft to Oliver North and Sarah Palin.
But it also reportedly has included more controversial figures including the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church and the late R.J. Rushdoony, a controversial figure who advocated dominion theology and a society run under Biblical law.
Third tier intellect strides world stage
Pammy Bondi strides the world's stage: "Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi headed to Israel Friday to announced today that she's touring that country along with some of her counterparts from other states and meeting with Israeli officials to discuss social, economic and political issues." "Bondi in Israel, but not on taxpayers' dime".
"Florida, of course"
"Where does one go after announcing a candidacy for president? Florida, of course. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is set to make his long-expected presidential announcement Monday in Iowa and then hop on a plane for Tampa Bay." "Times: Florida: ground zero for Republican candidates".