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 Monday, May 28, 2012

FlaBaggers in a dither

    "U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, raised eyebrows last week when he told constituents it might be OK to "talk about raising taxes" at some point in the future if Congress slashed spending and 'right-sized the federal government' beforehand." "U.S. Rep. Allen West willing to 'talk about raising taxes' if government ever is 'right-sized'".

    "Things aren't what they used to be"

    "Splashy parties filled with high-end booze and late night revelry is an awkward fit with the austerity message the Romney campaign and congressional Republicans are spreading in their quest to win the White House and control of the Senate. And it's hard to justify spending thousands of dollars on parties when money is tight elsewhere." "Washington lobbyists, trade groups scaling back on Tampa convention".

    "Caputo reworks the tired Florida GOP press release"

    Marc Caputo reworks the tired Florida GOP press release about Castro being the third rail of Florida politics. He writes that, "Of the simple rules in Florida elections, few stand out like this one: Don’t look wobbly over Castro — especially in an election year."

    President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t seem to get the memo.

    The administration granted the niece of Fidel Castro a visa to speak at a gay-rights summit in California last week. Mariela Castro repaid the kindness by engaging in the same type of Orwellian and hypocritical doubletalk as her uncle and father, Cuban President Raul Castro.

    Then she made sure to bang in the final public-relations coffin nail.

    "I would vote for President Obama," she said, according to Agence France-Presse. "I think he’s sincere and speaks from the heart."

    Count that de facto endorsement of Obama as an independent expenditure for his challenger, Mitt Romney. The Republican’s campaign made sure to denounce the Castro clan at every turn.

    AFP noted that Castro’s trip has been denounced by "opposition Republicans." But it utterly failed to mention that Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward congresswoman [who would never want to offend her Republican friends in Congress*], and [cautious**] Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (the only statewide elected Democrat) also opposed the granting of her visa.
    To be sure, "some of Obama’s biggest Florida supporters agree. They just can’t fathom this. It’s not as if Castro is some wayward child. She’s a face and mouthpiece of the dictatorship."

    Really? One wonders how many people even heard of Mariela Castro prior to the Florida GOP going predictably apoplectic*** over the visit. Caputo continues:
    Obama’s defenders are quick to counter with two points: 1) During President George W. Bush’s term, Castro was allowed to travel three times to the United States and 2) Cuban-hardliners who opposed the visa opposed Obama anyway. So it was a wash.


    The president doesn’t need more bad headlines. Despite the unemployment rate shrinking, the pool of the unemployed remains staggeringly high. His attacks on Romney’s business background backfired when a campaign surrogate dissed the criticisms. And then Nelson and his DNC chair split with him over Cuba.
    Caputo recognizes he's recycling old arguments, but tries anyway:
    Earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott came to Miami, signed a Cuba crackdown bill favored by the exile community and then undermined it by calling the bill unenforceable. Then he flip-flopped as Cuban-American Republican politicians beat him up on radio.

    If Scott were on the ballot this November, his move would cost him dearly. Cuban voters are overwhelmingly Republican, favoring GOP candidates by 15-17 percentage points depending on the presidential election, according to a September 2011 study “The Political Incorporation of Cuban Americans: Why Won’t Little Havana Turn Blue?”

    Co-authored by University of Miami political science professor Casey Klofstad, the groundbreaking study showed that the Cuban community’s vote remains largely Republican despite the influx of so-called “economic refugees,” many of whom came during and after the 1980 Mariel boatlift and tend to lean left.

    But they don’t really vote in the same high proportions as the right-leaning pre-Mariel voters.
    But, as Caputo acknowledges, the study shows that times are changing:
    [A]s popular sentiment continued to shift against Republicans in 2008, more Cuban voters started to identify more with the Democratic Party.

    The study showed the pre-Mariel voters are more attuned to the Cuban embargo and Cuba-travel restrictions — support for which has plummeted in the Cuban community overall between 1991 and 2008. In the community, strengthening the embargo has more support (45 percent) than continuing the travel ban (34 percent), according to Florida International University polls.
    "Obama forgot to read the Castro memo".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    * Indeed, Wasserman Schultz doesn't bother to support fellow Dems running against her South Florida Cuban-Republican friends. "Democrats torn between party, GOP friends". See also "Wasserman Schultz slaps Obama Cuba policy" and The Hill's "DNC boss, president at odds on Cuba policy".

    ** See today's "A cautious political trajectory".

    *** As Anthony Man reported last week,
    Many Florida politicians are apoplectic over a visa granted to Fidel Castro's niece, but the state's voters don't seem to have the same hard line on Cuba.

    Insight into voters' feelings comes from the May Suffolk University/WSVN-Ch. 7 poll. Three of five Florida voters questioned said they'd support trade, travel and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba — even with the Castro family still in power.

    Another 29 percent were opposed, and 13 percent undecided.
    "Floridians want more travel, trade with Cuba".

    The President is not looking "wobbly over Castro". Rather, the Castro dead enders are looking consistently stuck in the mud.

    "Lack of raises is particularly hard on teachers this year"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Lack of raises is particularly hard on teachers this year, because the Legislature for the first time since 1974 required them to contribute to the retirement system. For now, that 3 percent contribution seems like a cut, even if the teachers will get it back."

    Ironically, if teachers win their lawsuit to overturn mandatory contributions, all hope for regular raises would be gone, because the district would have to kick in $27 million for teacher retirement.

    County teachers got a 2 percent across-the-board raise, which also gives newer teachers a much smaller bump, in 2008-09 and have not had a significant raise since. We believe they should make more. We also suspect that the Legislature enacted an FCAT-based "merit raise" system without providing money for raises.
    "Deserved, but unaffordable".

    "Districts look ripe for Democrats, Hispanic candidates"

    "Changes create districts that look ripe for Democrats, Hispanic candidates".

    "Rubio has been eclipsed in the veepstakes"

    "Marco Rubio isn't the only rookie Republican senator from a swing state to generate considerable vice presidential buzz as Mitt Romney looks for a running mate. To some political handicappers, Rubio has been eclipsed in the veepstakes by Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio." "Marco Rubio, Rob Portman offer splashy, safe options for Romney as VP candidates".

    "Talk about lack of social graces. Exit Yeehaw Junction"

    Myriam Marquez writes that Gov. Rick Scott "was captured on video during an overseas trade mission acting like a blundering Local Yokel before His Majesty of Spain, AKA the hip-impaired Elephant Killer."

    For the uninitiated in European scandals that don’t involve Greece’s imminent economic and political collapse or the wardrobe of Britain’s latest princess, King Juan Carlos of Spain became the subject of his subjects’ ire for taking a fancy hunting trip that cost more than an average working stiff’s annual wages, then falling on his tush and breaking a hip, requiring a private jet to take him back for socialized medical care.

    “While ordinary Spaniards cope with harsh austerity, recession and soaring unemployment, the country’s royal family has been enjoying expensive hunting trips, one of which resulted in King Juan Carlos ending up in hospital,” reported Britain’s The Guardian in April. The 74-year-old monarch’s 13-year-old grandson shot himself in the foot during one of those trips, raising questions about his age and whether he was illegally handling a powerful weapon.

    You would think Spaniards would be proud that the king preferred to get hip surgery in Spain and not Botswana, but that’s not quite how it played out. A contrite Juan Carlos begged forgiveness, apologized for going on a safari when an economic crisis is gripping Spain and vowed no public funds would be used to pay for any of it. Scandal closed, move on.

    Still recovering from last month’s harsh headlines, the king greeted Scott, our always smiling albeit socially addled governor, who entered the room with his wife and seemed to think that raising the Botswana trip as a greeting would be the best ice breaker ever:

    “I’ve ridden elephants; I’ve never tried to shoot one,” Scott started, hand extended, blue eyes unblinking.

    The king — always a class act; that’s what royalty is groomed to be, after all — seemed caught off guard. Scott kept smiling and jabbering about the elephant because he had been to Botswana with his wife, and she, too, wanted to share with the king her wild ride in a jeep.

    Talk about lack of social graces. Exit Yeehaw Junction.
    "Hunting for elephants, unleashing political tsunamis".

    "He is a connoisseur of low-hanging fruit"

    "During 12 years in the Senate, the Florida Democrat has maintained a tight focus on the state, rarely missing an opportunity to exploit headlines or take up populist causes, whether sounding alarms over Burmese pythons in the Everglades or Chinese drywall or demanding pensions for ex-Negro League ballplayers in Tampa."

    "He is a connoisseur of low-hanging fruit," said Florida Republican strategist J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich. "The best way to win elections is to not do anything hard. Take the easy issue of the moment, kind of the effervescence, climb all over it and then wait for the next one. You can always find Bill Nelson on the side of the momentary majority, well down in front near the cameras."
    "A cautious political trajectory".

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