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 Thursday, December 01, 2011

RPOF marginalizes minority voters by isolating them

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "When the Florida Senate released its proposed congressional and legislative maps this week, it was as if last November didn't happen."
    A year ago, by landslide proportions, voters approved Amendments 5 and 6 to reduce the gerrymandering that parties have used to increase their power and protect their incumbents.
    "Here is just one example of how Republicans are seeking to increase their power and protect their incumbents:"
    Since the last line-drawing a decade ago, many Hispanics have moved into the greater Orlando area. They tend to be of Puerto Rican and not Cuban ancestry, and tend to vote Democratic, not Republican. So the Republicans packed nearly half of the Hispanic voters in Orange, Osceola and Polk counties into state Senate District 24. A Democrat will win, but Republicans have used other white voters in the area to fortify GOP seats, a tactic known as "bleaching." The map shifts District 24 incumbent Thad Altman, a Republican who isn't term-limited until 2016, to District 26. It is held by Republican Mike Haridopolos, the Senate president. He's term-limited after next year.

    As happened in 1992 and 2002, Republicans are using minority representation as a cover story. They claim that Amendments 5 and 6, which they opposed, require them to protect minority officeholders. Anything else, they warn, would be "retrogression, and violate the Voting Rights Act." That can sound bipartisan, since Florida has almost equal numbers of African-American Democrats and Hispanic Republicans.

    But packing Democratic-minority seats, as with Senate District 24, actually marginalizes minority voters by isolating them. The three congressional districts held by black Democrats - including Alcee Hastings, who represents a chunk of Palm Beach County - have roughly 50 percent of the districts' black voters. The percentages for some Senate districts are even higher.

    The GOP strategy explains in large part why a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 600,000 and where the fastest-growing registration is No Party Affiliation has 19 Republican members of Congress and six Democrats. The Florida Senate has 28 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
    "What stinking amendments?".

    Florida employers cut jobs in November

    "Florida employers cut about 1,100 job cuts in November".

    West's political days may be numbered

    "U.S. Rep. Allen West, a political lightning rod since his election last fall, was catching some static Wednesday as Democrats predicted his political days may be numbered under his own Republican Party's plan for redrawing congressional boundaries."

    West's District 22, which straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties, has toggled between Republicans and Democrats three times since district lines were last drawn in 2002. And Democrats say the congressional map unveiled Tuesday by the GOP-controlled state Senate includes enough challenges for West that 2012 could be the Democrats' turn -- again.

    "If there is a GOP loser in redistricting, it is West," said Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who directed President Obama's campaign in Florida in 2008. ...

    West has already built a $4 million campaign war chest, but is being challenged by a pair of Democrats, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Broward businessman Patrick Murphy, both also well-financed.

    West's current district is divided almost equally between Democratic and Republican voters. But it looks almost certain to be redrawn with a more Democratic tilt.

    Fellow Republicans, and political geography, are to blame. ...

    [T]he Senate's redrawn boundaries also would push West's District 22 deeper into Democratic-rich Broward by giving it an area of what is now Wasserman Schultz's district and having it exchange some areas with the district of Democrat Ted Deutch of Boca Raton.

    At the same time, District 22 would lose Republican-heavy areas of Palm Beach Gardens and communities west of Florida's Turnpike from suburban Gardens to suburban West Palm Beach, with most of those voters being steered into Tequesta Republican Tom Rooney's district.

    A precise count of Democratic and Republican voters was unavailable, because the Senate completed its first round of mapmaking without making public the partisan balance of the proposed 27 congressional districts.

    But the boundary changes gave rise Wednesday to speculation by Republican consultants that West might consider leaving District 22 -- to challenge Rooney in District 16.
    "Redistricting proposal by Florida's GOP-run Senate doesn't look good for U.S. Rep. West".

    "Gingrich is gaining momentum"

    "With less than two months until Florida holds its primary -- the fourth state in the procession that will determine the Republican candidate who will emerge to take on President Barack Obama in 2012 -- Gingrich is gaining momentum as he looks to carry the Sunshine State." "GOP Field Looks to Chip Away at Newt Gingrich's Lead in Florida". See also "Allen West and Mike Huckabee Chime in on GOP 2012 Race" and "Gingrich moves ahead in Florida polls".

    Graham urges Scott to reverse damage done by legislators

    "In a rare rebuke and surrounded by environmental officials who served under previous governors, former Gov. Bob Graham forcefully urges Gov. Rick Scott to reverse the environmental damage done by lawmakers in the last legislative session." "Bob Graham: Florida lawmakers 'reversed 40 years of Florida's progress in water and land conservation'". See also "Former Gov. Graham calls on Scott to provide environmental leadership".

    Conservative Florida Justices Canady and Polston in the minority

    "For Florida Supreme Court justices, the numbers are familiar: 5-2."

    The court in recent months has split by that margin on a series of cases, with Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Polston siding together and offering conservative --- and sometimes stinging --- dissents.

    The cases have included controversial issues such as injury lawsuits against businesses, Gov. Rick Scott's attempt to exert more control over state rule-making and, in a few instances, death sentences.

    Justices Jorge Labarga, R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, James E.C. Perry and Peggy Quince made up the majority in the cases.
    "For Florida Supreme Court, Ideology Counts: 5-2".

    Early voting at the country club?

    "Republicans say Brenda Snipes decision on early voting sites disenfranchises their voters".

    Goin' after the unemployed

    "A proposed committee bill from the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee seeks mandatory training for unemployment compensation applicants who fail a skills test. It also would rename the 'Unemployment Compensation Law' to the 'Re-employment Assistance Program Law' and extend the state's reach in fraud cases." "Lawmakers propose tougher unemployment compensation rules".

    Child poverty

    "The U.S. Census Bureau released data on local county poverty rates Tuesday, revealing that child poverty -- individuals under 18 years old -- is on the rise in several populous counties in Florida." "Map: Child poverty on rise in populous Florida counties".

    Bachmann's last gasp

    "Bachmann, lagging in polls, brings campaign to Fla". See also "Michelle Bachmann in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton on Thursday".

    Sink open to another run

    "Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink ... has not ruled out a future run for office and said she may take a look at the 2014 governor's race after the current election cycle is over. 'I learned never to say never,' Sink said. 'I'm going to be open-minded about evaluating what the mood of the state is.'" "Sink sees Florida slog for Obama".

    Citizens to reduce coverage, raise premiums

    "Citizens insurance prepares to drop or reduce coverage, raise premiums".

    State to settle wage-hour violations

    "The Florida Department of Children and Families continues to draft an agreement with federal officials that's designed to keep the state from violating federal labor laws." "DCF, Labor Department Continue Talks About Unpaid Overtime Violations".

    Florida aging more slowly than elsewhere

    "The country's overall population has been skewing older the past 10 years in tandem with aging baby boomers. Florida can't escape that trend, but it is aging much more slowly than practically anywhere else." "Florida is aging much more slowly".

    Florida's leaders should defend their education record in court

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "When the people of Florida adopted a constitutional amendment in 1998 directing lawmakers to make 'high quality' free public education a 'paramount duty' of the state, the expectation was that legislators would raise educational excellence and funding to a top priority."

    But Florida ranks 41st among the 50 states in total per-pupil funding, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the state's high school graduation rates and SAT scores rank near the bottom of the nation. Now the Florida Supreme Court is being asked whether a lawsuit that challenges this legislative negligence should be allowed to proceed — something the state is vigorously fighting. This shouldn't be a close call. Florida's leaders should have to defend their record on education in court.
    "On schools, hold officials to account".

    Vern catches a break

    "Redistricting change would help Buchanan".

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