"Latinos fleeing Republicans"
"Look out, Democrats, conservatives are trying to win over more of the Hispanic vote. But with Latinos fleeing Republicans, will it work?"
Just beneath the surface of President Barack Obama’s strong approval ratings, Republicans see signs of a chance to woo Hispanic voters and turn this influential bloc of voters to their side."A big reason for the Hispanic gap in Obama’s favor: The so-called DREAM Act, which seeks to give the best and brightest children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship for enrolling in college or the military."
A new poll from a new Republican-leaning group called the Libre Initiative finds that Hispanic voters are unhappy with the country’s direction, pessimistic about their kids’ futures and suspicious about what government can do to foster the American dream.
“We’re getting in front of Hispanics with a different message than you’ve been hearing,” said Jose Mallea, Libre Initiative’s national coordinator.
“The Democrats want to talk about immigration, and the Dream Act,” Mallea said. “This is an effort to talk about economic freedom, opportunity, the American dream, and government over-reach.”
Mallea acknowledged that the nationwide poll for the group — which oversampled Hispanic voters in states like Florida and California — showed that Republicans have catching up to do when it comes to Hispanics.
Though President Obama failed to get the act passed when Democrats controlled Congress, many Republicans have opposed it outright, saying it allows for too much “amnesty” that encourages more illegal immigration."GOP sees chance to win over Hispanic voters".
Now, Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has offered a scaled-back version that would give legal residency status — but not citizenship — to some college- and military-bound residents who aren’t legal citizens [see "Rubio's phony 'DREAM Act without the dream'"].
The Libre Initiative didn’t poll the DREAM Act or Rubio’s proposal. The former is wildly popular among Hispanic voters, and one recent poll by the group Latino Decisions showed that Hispanics are less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the act.
Nationwide, Obama pulls in 61 percent of the Latino vote against a generic Republican who would get just 31 percent, according to the Libre Initiative poll of 500 likely Hispanic voters conducted by the Tarrance Group, a firm that typically surveys for Republicans. The pollster oversampled 700 Hispanic voters in seven states.
Likely Hispanic voters in Florida were the least-enthusiastic when it came to support for Obama, with 48 percent saying they’d vote for the president and 45 percent planning to vote against him. That lead is well inside the poll’s error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percent.Florida, however, is an anomaly when it comes to the Hispanic vote due to the heavy concentration of Cuban American voters, who tend to be more conservative than, say, Mexican or Puerto Rican voters.
"Obama to fundraise in South Florida on Tuesday". See also "President Barack Obama in Florida today, Tampa on Friday". Related: "President Barack Obama visiting Florida to talk about 'Buffett Rule'" and "President Barack Obama's coming. So what's a Republican to do?".
"Scott should be held to account"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott were quick to congratulate themselves for legislation aimed at curbing fraud and abuse under the state's auto accident insurance law, which passed on the last day of the legislative session. But it may not be that great for consumers. Starting Jan. 1 — Scott is expected to sign HB 119 — victims of accidents with injuries short of an emergency will be entitled to just $2,500 in personal injury protection coverage (known as PIP) for medical bills and lost wages — just one-fourth of the current $10,000 limit. If car owners don't see commensurate decreases in their premiums starting in 2013 and beyond, lawmakers and Scott should be held to account." "PIP reform may miss consumers".
"The 'garbage' of mindless 'tough on crime' talk"
"It took six long years for Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff to pass a law intended to help a few people deal with their drug addiction in state prison. It took Gov. Rick Scott only a few seconds to wipe it out."
“I’m phenomenally disappointed,” said Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican who could not convince Scott that the modest reform in the bill would save taxpayers’ money by reducing the chance that inmates would re-offend by getting them the help they need."Scott veto of drug-addiction bill irks lawmakers".
“He said it was a 'public safety’ issue. No it’s not,” she said. “These are non-violent drug offenders.”
Political leaders have to get past what she called the “garbage” of mindless “tough on crime” talk, Bogdanoff said.
She said Florida cells are full of people whose only crime is an addiction to drugs, and if they don’t get help, they’ll soon be back on the streets, committing new crimes to support the habit that flourished in prison.
But that’s not how Scott saw it.
New Rivera challenger
"Democrat Gloria Romero Roses, a Southwest Ranches businesswoman and first-time candidate, launched a congressional campaign on Monday against Republican U.S. Rep. David Rivera."
The Florida Democratic Party, eager to show that Roses has the backing of the state establishment, announced her intention to run a week after Miami state Rep. Luis Garcia quit the congressional race after accusing national Democrats of betraying him by recruiting other candidates for the seat. Garcia is now running for the Miami-Dade County Commission."Broward businesswoman to run against U.S. Rep. David Rivera".
The 40-year-old Roses — who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, but raised mostly in Hollywood — is a political rookie unknown outside of certain Democratic circles where she has been active the past couple of years, raising money and awareness for women candidates in Florida.
Magic City mess
"The public could be asked as soon as August to decide whether saving millions of dollars on elections is worth it if it means giving current leaders an extra year in office."
Meanwhile, "Auto magnate Norman Braman, who led the successful drive to oust of former Mayor Carlos Alvarez, is recruiting a slate of candidates to target incumbent commissioners who, he says, have not embraced charter reform." "Charter change in Miami would save millions, but give elected leaders an extra year in office".
Myriam Marquez asks "Is Braman a bully or a reformer?"
Scott's re-election campaign begins with the budget
John Kennedy: "Scott says he doesn't expect to come 'anywhere close' to last year's record $615 million in budget vetoes as he wraps up his review of the legislature's new $70 billion spending plan." "Budget vetoes seen as less likely in Gov. Scott's second year". Related: "Scott barnstorms schools touting $1 billion boost that will go fast".
FSC takes on term limits
"Link to Broward term limits case at Florida Supreme Court".
"Florida CHAIN sends a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Atlanta saying that proposed reductions to the program in Florida are 'dangerous' and 'unjustifiable.'" "Group asks feds to 'decisively reject' caps to Medicaid program".
"Florida communities risk losing flood insurance"
"A FEMA official asks Florida to clarify, if HB 503 is signed into law, how communities can comply with the National Flood Insurance Program requirement that they ensure all federal and state permits have been received for development. State Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon responded that his agency will issue a memo directing communities to attach the requirement as a permit condition." "FEMA says Florida communities risk losing flood insurance because of legislation".
Quinones recall stalls
"A recall drive against Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones has stalled -- and perhaps fizzled."
Petition papers were filed last week with the Osceola County Supervisor of Elections by local businessman Jorge Coronado. The campaign was launched just days after Quinones announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for the new 9th Congressional District."Murky Recall Bid Against John Quinones Muddies CD 9 Primary".
But recall organizers quickly withdrew their petition, citing "technical" glitches in the paperwork. On Monday, Coronado told Sunshine State News that he is "no longer involved."
Forget pensions, just pay them their wages
"Two Florida restaurant companies will have to pay back wages to almost 150 workers, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced Monday." "Florida restaurants ordered to pay wages owed to almost 150 workers".
"Poll-watching group with tea party ties"
"A new organization in Hillsborough County says it is making a non-partisan effort to clean up errors or possible fraud in voter rolls, but it is associated with a tea party group accused of seeking to suppress minority votes in Texas."
The organization, Tampa Vote Fair, is combing county voter rolls using a database and software obtained free from a national organization called True the Vote."Some wary of Hillsborough poll-watching group with tea party ties".
True the Vote is an outgrowth of King Street Patriots, a Houston-based group accused in court of using poll watchers to suppress minority voting in Houston in 2010.
Backers say the Tampa group's efforts will be nonpartisan, but its work could draw fire in a state already roiled by allegations of attempted voter suppression.
Democrats and others are challenging new laws passed by the Republican majority in the state Legislature, which Republicans say are aimed at preventing voter fraud, but Democrats say are aimed at reducing voting by minorities, young people and women.
The group's formation also suggests the increasing extent to which partisan battles are being fought through voting regulations. ...
Voter challenges by Republican poll watchers in the past have led to national litigation and court orders against "voter caging," challenging voters based on previously compiled evidence of incorrect addresses on voting rolls.
Asked under what circumstances Tampa Vote Fair poll watchers might challenge voters, [Kimberly Kelley, member of the local Republican Party executive committee and head of Tampa Vote Fair] didn't give a clear answer, saying she hasn't been through the poll watcher training provided by True the Vote.
Nancy Smith: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Women: Talk About Selective Memory".
"Robbing Peter to pay Paul just doesn't make sense"
The Sun Sentinel editors: "State legislators did Floridians a disservice when they crafted a new budget by tapping reserve funds for the state's 11 universities — to the tune of $150 million. Not to address higher education needs, mind you, but to help pay for other state government services. You don't need a college degree to know this particular case of robbing Peter to pay Paul just doesn't make sense." "Stop raiding ed reserves".
And these guys expect pensions?
"200 acres consumed by Miami-Dade brush fire".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Florida's employment peaked in February 2007, when 8.87 million of us were working. That was 10 months before the recession officially started."
Obama's stimulus spending plan was enacted in February 2009. By that time, Florida had lost 578,000 jobs, and the next year it elected Rick Scott as governor, largely because of his emphasis on jobs and private enterprise. He promised the state 700,000 new jobs in seven years."The great jobs mystery".
The nationwide recession may have ended in June 2009, but Florida's employment didn't snap back as is expected in a recovery. By February 2010, Florida had lost 827,000 jobs in three years.
Now job growth has returned, but as in the nation, many people have given up hope of finding work. Florida is adding jobs slightly faster than the 20,000 a month it needs to keep up with population growth, but not much more than that.
The state's unemployment rate is falling, but it is no longer the most reliable gauge of prosperity. A bill recently introduced in the U.S. House, called the "REAL Unemployment Calculation Act," would count all potential workers, even those too discouraged to continue asking for a job. Changing how the rate is calculated would instantly raise the U.S. unemployment rate from 8.2 percent to 9.6 percent and send Florida's back into double digits.
"Best January ever"
"Florida businesses reported their best January ever, posting a 12.5 percent jump in sales, the biggest single monthly increase since August 2006." "Florida businesses post best January ever".
Sloppy social media
"The head of the Democratic National Committee, Broward Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is sticking by a Jewish-outreach aide who was embarrassed last week by an old Facebook posting where she joked about 'Jewbags.'"
The aide, Danielle “Dani” Gilbert, quickly apologized for the six-year-old slur. But by then, the Facebook posting had gone viral."In flap over Jewish slur, Debbie Wasserman Schultz stands by aide".
Also, Democratic sources started leaking stories that her hiring at the DNC exposed a rift with President Obama’s campaign.
Wasserman Schultz said on Monday that Gilbert, who is Jewish like the congresswoman, should be forgiven. She said it also showed the perils of social media in today’s campaign world.
“She was 20 when she posted that picture,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I spoke to my own children and gave that unfortunate posting as an example of how, no matter what you think is funny among your friends, nothing on social media is private.”
Wasserman Schultz made the comments in response to a reporter’s questions after a Sunny Isles event where she bashed the Republican House budget for cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — a perennial line of attack for Democrats during an election year.
Wasserman Schultz also disputed anonymous sources who told the website BuzzFeed that Gilbert’s hiring for Jewish outreach at the DNC was made over the objections of top officials at the Obama campaign and the DNC, which already has a Jewish-outreach coordinator.
The sources fretted to BuzzFeed that Wasserman Schultz was putting her own personal politics and relationships ahead of the interests of the party when she hired Gilbert, the daughter of major Democratic donor Mark Gilbert of Boca Raton.
"Nelson speaks to Hispanic seniors"
"Sen. Bill Nelson speaks to Hispanic seniors about concerns".