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 Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mack neither a potent candidate nor a shoo-in to win nomination

    "With an iconic name and access to Washington cash, Congressman Connie Mack looked like the great Republican hope when he entered Florida’s U.S. Senate race and posed a serious threat to Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. Six months later, however, Mack has proven to be neither a potent statewide candidate nor a shoo-in to win the Republican nomination against his little-known rivals." "Mack campaign loses luster in Senate race".

    "The Cotton Mather of Fort Lauderdale"

    Daniel Ruth: "Do you suspect it's possible that Rep. Allen West, R-Tailgunner Joe, has retained the expert services of Ozzie Guillen to hone his well-crafted image as a dolt?"

    If West keeps this up, it's only a matter of time before the congressman accuses the College of Cardinals of having ties to Havana because of the red zucchettos the cardinals wear.

    Better not to encourage him.

    The Grand Inquisitor of the tea party was holding forth at a town hall meeting in Jensen Beach this week when one of the pitchfork attendees asked him to estimate how many fellow members of Congress are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists, as opposed to domestic Socialists.
    "The Grand Inquisitor of the tea party was holding forth at a town hall meeting in Jensen Beach this week when one of the pitchfork attendees asked him to estimate how many fellow members of Congress are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists, as opposed to domestic Socialists."
    West could have answered, "Sir, one of the downsides of holding public office is having silly twits like you as a constituent."

    Instead, the Cotton Mather of Fort Lauderdale responded with absolute certainty: "I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party."

    Who knew? ...

    By West's twisted reasoning, Florida U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville and Frederica Wilson of Miami are commies, commies, commies. So is Georgia's John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement. Lewis shed his blood fighting to open doors for the likes of Allen West, who has now returned the favor by accusing a venerated House colleague of, at least, being disloyal.

    And it's all because these folks believe in equality? Less guns and more education? Fairer taxes? Oh the Material Dialectic of it all.

    Both West and McCarthy are world-class panderers. Both displayed indifference to the ramifications of accusing fellow Americans of being unpatriotic because they held opposing views. Both couldn't prove their charges. And most notably, both could lay claim to being boorish, unpleasant people.
    "West channels his inner Joe McCarthy".

    Meanwhile, "West raises cash off comment about 80 House Democrats being communists".

    Sargeant blows hole in Greer-RPOF criminal case

    "Harry Sargeant III, former finance chair for the Florida Republican of Party says he and other party officials knew all about it when former GOP chairman Jim Greer and the party's executive director took over fundraising operations." "GOP officials knew about Greer fundraising deal, former finance chair says".

    "Former Florida Republican finance chairman Harry Sargeant III -- a South Florida billionaire entangled in his own financial scandal -- has signed a sworn statement that former Gov. Charlie Crist and George LeMieux first suggested the idea that Jim Greer take over as party fundraiser."

    Greer is awaiting trial in Orlando, charged with theft, fraud and money laundering. He is accused of setting up a shell company called Victory Strategies to funnel $125,000 in party funds into his personal bank accounts in 2009 while he was chairman. He says the money was rightfully earned as fund-raising commissions.

    He has filed a separate civil suit naming the state party, former chairman John Thrasher and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, both of whom signed different copies of the severance agreement. A judge moved the civil case to Tallahassee last month, and the RPOF has asked to have it dismissed.

    Sargeant states in his affidavit that he was aware Crist and Greer were both "frustrated and concerned" with the performance of then-RPOF uber-fundraiser Meredith O'Rourke and that Crist "instructed" Greer to fire her and replace her with someone else. O'Rourke told state investigators that Greer had approached her about teaming up to run the fundraising operations and splitting the commission. When she refused, she said she was forced out of the job. ...

    Sargeant has drawn his own headlines since resigning as party finance chairman in 2009. Last summer, he was ordered to pay $28.8 million to a member of the Jordanian royal family in a dispute about lucrative U.S. military contracts to supply fuel to troops in Iraq. Democrats have accused him of being a "war profiteer," and a former employee was indicted in Los Angeles federal court over allegations that he illegally funneled campaign cash to Crist and John McCain.
    "Ex-RPOF official says Crist OK'd Jim Greer fundraising". See also "Former official: Crist, LeMieux knew about Greer".

    Baggers in a dither

    "Scott defied tea party activists Friday and allowed an energy bill to become law that sets aside $16 million for tax incentives to solar, wind and biofuel companies." "Gov. Scott lets tax incentives for alternative energies become law despite tea party opposition". See also "Adam Putnam Energy Bill Prevails".

    Obama visits Tampa

    "Obama visits Tampa, touts trade".

    Health department reorganization bill goes to Scott

    "A bill that critics say will weaken Florida’s health department was presented to Gov. Rick Scott [yesterday]. House Bill 1263, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, and state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami, was heavily criticized by public health experts as it quickly made its way through both chambers this past legislative session." "Bill reorganizing state health department presented to Scott".

    Self-serving TaxWatch turkey talk

    The self-appointed corporatist "tax-watchers" share their self-serving wisdom with us again this year:

    The list this year contained some twists.

    For example, TaxWatch identified $5 million for a world-class regatta in Sarasota but recommended further review by the governor, rather than a veto.

    Robert Weissert, TaxWatch's vice president for research, said that's because the issue came up last year and emerged early during this year's session.

    "The classic turkey is one where everybody says, 'What the heck is that,' " he said. "This was on people's radar screens throughout the process, it was more of a gray area."

    Bradenton Republican Sen. Mike Bennett, sponsor of the proposal, said TaxWatch originally favored the bill but changed course when its consultants weren't hired for the project's economic analysis.

    "The governor has been to the site, we've had letters of support from the cities and counties," Bennett said. "The number of jobs this thing would create is phenomenal."
    Budget watchers unveil annual 'turkey' list; urge Scott vetoes. See also "TaxWatch urges veto of $150 million in budget 'turkeys'".

    Related: "USF-Polytechnic Avoids TaxWatch 'Turkey' Crosshairs".

    "Battle for Florida is on"

    Jeremy Wallace: "President Barack Obama left no doubt on Friday that the battle for Florida is on."

    Days after Republican Mitt Romney essentially sewed up the GOP nomination, Obama made a beeline for Florida, including a stop in Tampa to stake out a key message on the economy near the site where the Republican National Convention will be held in August. ...

    The ramped up effort in Florida, and specifically Tampa, is hardly coincidental, political experts say. If Obama wins Florida as he did in 2008, he will be nearly impossible to beat for re-election because of the way the electoral college math works out.

    And no county is a bigger bellweather than Hillsborough County, said University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus. In each of the last four presidential elections, the candidate who carried Hillsborough County — where Obama visited Friday — has won the state and the White House.

    “It’s the biggest swing area of the biggest swing state,” MacManus said.
    "Obama visit to Florida underscores swing state's role".

    Scott's investment tax credit strategy flopping

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board writes that "the Tax Foundation ranks Florida 44th in appeal to capital-intensive manufacturing. The national organization says Florida ranks low 'despite offering the most generous investment tax credit — roughly 10 times the average nationally.'" "Taxing surprises".

    Breaks to businesses diminish state funds

    The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy reports that "even though the Florida Legislature faced a shortfall of revenue needed to continue paying for current services, it passed an assortment of tax cuts that will diminish state funds even more in the future."

    In addition, it provided other tax breaks to businesses, continued the expansion of the tax-financed private school voucher program, and appropriated more than $100 million for subsidies for businesses promising new jobs.

    The reduction in funds through tax cuts and subsidies was accompanied by a $300 million cut to universities and hospitals and nursing homes, whose payments were cut for the fifth consecutive year. The dollars forgone through tax cuts could have been appropriated to lessen those and other budget cuts imposed by the legislature.
    "Tax Breaks Continue Despite Revenue Shortfall".

    FlaDems have 500,000 voter advantage, yet Senate proposes 23 GOP districts

    "A week before the Florida Supreme Court hears new arguments in the state’s redistricting case, the Florida Senate submitted Friday a 100-page defense of its plan for redrawing its 40 district boundaries."

    While the Senate plan includes 23 Republican-leaning districts and 17 favoring Democrats, the Democratic proposal creates a 20-20 voting balance.

    But Senate lawyers said that approach conflicts with what analysts say is the state’s natural bias toward Republicans.

    Although Democrats hold an almost 500,000 voter advantage statewide, research by Stanford University and University of Michigan political scientists concluded that Democratic voters tend to cluster in Florida cities — allowing Republicans to become the dominant party in a majority of legislative districts.
    "Florida Senate offers 100-page defense of its redistricting plan".

    Scott's "dogma trumping common sense"

    The Miami Herald editors: "In a stunning example of dogma trumping common sense, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that addressed one common cause of crime, a bill supported by 152 of 156 legislators in both houses. One wonders if he read the bill or thought beyond the use of a veto as a one-line campaign slogan." "Veto trumps common sense".

    FlaDems hold a 4% registration lead over GOP

    "Florida Democrats are picking up steam heading into the general election, beating the GOP in lassoing new voters last month by 8 percent, according to data released by the Florida Democratic Party" Friday.

    Registered Democrats in Florida now total 4,955,094 – 40 percent of Florida’s 12,328,235 registered voters – as of April 1, holding a 4 percent lead of the GOP, with 4,408,461 registered voters. Twenty-four percent – 2,964,680 – of Floridians are registered with no party affiliation. And independents grew by a larger percentage than either party last month, with 41 percent of new voters, or 23,333, shunning both the GOP and the Dems.

    While the Democrats are crowing about the new registration numbers, they’re still down overall from earlier this year. Figures released by the Division of Elections in January showed 40.5 percent of Floridians registered as Democrats and about 36.2 percent as Republicans.

    And Democrats still hold a smaller lead over Republicans than four years ago, when the gap favored Democrats by 5.8 percent heading into the 2008 presidential elections.
    "Fla Dems edge out Republicans in voter registrations last month".

    Florida state party committees rolling in cash

    "A new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics finds that Florida is No. 1 in the country for the amount of money that state party committees receive in campaign donations. More than $100 million in campaign contributions flooded the coffers of the Democratic and Republican Party committees during the 2009-2010 election cycle."

    he Republican state party committee in Florida out-raised Democrats by bringing in a total of $67,236,671, winning the party majority control of both the state House and Senate that year. The state Democratic Party raised $49,497,496 for the 2010 election, the Institute reports.

    Compared to the 2005-2006 election cycle, the state saw a total 24 percent increase in campaign contributions for state party committees.

    Florida’s campaign fundraising activity bucked national trends, as well. According to the group, the 100 state parties nationwide “raised 2 percent less than they did in the comparable 2005–06 elections.”

    There are several possible factors that have contributed to the popularity of donating to state party committees in Florida. As explained by a previous report from the Institute, Florida state party committees do no have the same caps on donations as donations to candidates have. State contribution limits currently cap donations at $500 per candidate per election. The Democratic or Republican party, however, can receive unlimited amounts.

    It is also sometimes impossible to tell which candidate is receiving money from which corporation within the system. Parties do not always disclose (nor do they have to) to whom they are specifically dispersing their funds.
    "Report: Florida leads nation in campaign contributions to state party committees".

    FlaBag extremists

    "Three years ago Sunday, the tea party movement burst into public consciousness with large and loud demonstrations — and went on to jolt American politics."

    Born of fear and frustration during the depths of the Great Recession, outrage over what tea partiers saw as an out-of-control government helped replace scores of Democrats with ultraconservatives in Congress and state capitals.

    And they're not done yet. In Broward and Palm Beach counties, activists say their movement has evolved into an even more potent political force that will determine winners and losers in the 2012 elections. ...

    With an energized tea party, voters anxious about the economy and discouraged Democrats staying home on Election Day 2010, tea party candidates won throughout the country, including U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

    In South Florida, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has been a frequent bogeyman, even before she became chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee in 2011. At one big tea party protest outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, one demonstrator's sign depicted Wasserman Schultz as a marionette whose strings were pulled by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    Wasserman Schultz said the tea party has had a big impact, but one that ultimately will hurt Republicans. "They successfully dragged the Republican Party so far to the right that they've embraced extremism," she said.
    "Tea party hopes clout continues through Election Day".

    Gay registration efforts

    "Gay pride events prompt voter registration efforts".

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