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.


Older posts [back to 2002]

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The Blog for Saturday, May 05, 2012

Romney's weakness among Hispanic voters "spells doom"

    Adam C. Smith: "At a private fundraising reception in Palm Beach recently, Mitt Romney was overheard acknowledging his weakness among Hispanic voters."
    If it's not turned around, he said, "It spells doom for us."

    Take a look at the electoral map, and you'll see why.

    President Barack Obama starts the general election with a sizable electoral vote lead over Romney, looking strong in states totaling 247, while Romney has a strong edge in states totaling 191. It takes 270 to win.

    And if Romney can't narrow Obama's considerable lead among Latino voters, key battlegrounds including Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida could be out of reach for the Republican nominee. Even reliably Republican Arizona could wind up in play, and Obama already has five campaign offices there. ...

    An April Pew Research Center poll found the president leading Romney among Hispanics 67 percent to 27 percent. That's similar to the 67 percent to 31 percent margin among Hispanic voters that helped Obama handily beat John McCain four years ago.

    Romney is coming off a bruising Republican primary where, except in Florida, he did little outreach to Hispanics.

    While polls show immigration is not a top issue for Hispanic voters, the former Massachusetts governor did not help himself by positioning as the toughest candidate on illegal immigration and undocumented residents.

    He called Arizona's immigration law a national model, and said he would veto a "Dream Act" that provides a pathway to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants if they serve in the military or go to college. He advocates "self-deportation" — essentially making life so difficult for undocumented residents that they see little option except to leave the country.
    "Hispanic vote presents electoral map hurdle for Mitt Romney".

    And Rubio ain't the answer: "Rising Republican star though he may be, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's national appeal may be tepid among the Hispanic voters both parties are so desperately courting this election year."
    "We don't have any evidence that [Rubio] would provide any significant boost to Romney if he were on the ticket," said Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions, which in January conducted a widely cited poll of Hispanic voters for Univision and other media outlets.

    He noted the survey found Rubio did best in Florida with first- and second-generation Cuban-Americans, but was less popular with Hispanic voters with roots in Puerto Rico, Colombia and Mexico. Voters of Mexican descent are critical because they represent a significant majority of U.S. Hispanic voters.

    "He's not going to be the type of candidate who can go out and resonate with the Mexican-American audiences in the Southwest," Barreto said.
    "It's not clear how much Rubio helps Romney in Florida, either. A mid-April poll conducted by Public Policy Polling of North Carolina found that with Rubio on the ticket, Romney drops in Florida from 45 percent to 43 percent. Obama stays at 50 percent, PPP pollster Tom Jensen wrote. Among Hispanics in Florida, the pollsters found Obama leads 52 to 37 percent with Hispanics. With Rubio on the ticket, Obama still leads 52 to 37 with Hispanics."
    They looked at how well a Romney-Rubio ticket would do in Florida, how Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval did with Romney on the ticket in Nevada, and what the outcome would be if they paired Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico with Romney. It had negligible effect, Hanauer said. "Hispanic voters are still going to overwhelmingly vote for President Obama," she said. ...

    The Florida Democratic Party has been salivating over the possibility of such a high-profile target as Rubio, releasing daily rundowns of media reports about the Florida senator. They include rehashing Rubio's personal use of the Republican Party of Florida's credit card, campaign finance irregularities, and his friendship with U.S. Rep. Florida David Rivera, R-Fla.
    "Would Sen. Marco Rubio appeal to Hispanic voters as Mitt Romney's running mate?".

    Enjoy "Burger King's Springs"

    "SB 268, allowing sponsorships of state trails, faced opposition from outdoor enthusiasts who said it would allow the corporate naming of trails and advertising in natural areas. A compromise eliminated the naming and advertising along trails and allowed sponsorship of only seven trails. But the Florida Trail Association requested a veto after the bill was amended on the Senate floor to allow sponsorships on any trails with approval by state park officials. 'The Florida Trail Association does not support this bill as it will promote commercial sponsorship signs at trails where the public goes to enjoy wilderness settings and natural landscape without the intrusion of commercialization,' the group said in a April 25 letter to Scott." "Governor signs bills to streamline environmental permitting, allow sponsorship of trails".

    Changes to personal-injury-protection (PIP)

    "Scott on Friday signed into law massive changes to the state's auto-insurance laws that he and lawmakers say will stamp out fraud and reduce the cost to motorists of no-fault insurance, which pays medical expenses in an accident regardless of fault. ... The resulting changes to personal-injury-protection (PIP) insurance range from limiting how quickly an injured person must seek treatment to creating an organization to fight insurance fraud." "How will sweeping overhaul of Florida's auto-insurance laws affect you?" See also "Gov. Scott signs PIP fraud bill", "Bill Signed to Put Brakes on No-Fault Insurance Costs" and "Gov. Rick Scott signs law to cut down on no-fault car insurance fraud".

    Stand your stoopid

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, sponsored the 'stand your ground' law in 2005. Lobbyists for the National Rifle Association wrote it. Any change, Rep. Baxley said, 'leaves the innocent in danger.' In fact, he and other supporters presented no documentation seven years ago that anyone who had legitimately used deadly force in self-defense had been wrongly charged, let alone prosecuted. Yet self-defense cases have doubled. If there is no clear and convincing evidence that Florida needs this law, the panel should recommend that the Legislature weaken or repeal it." "A double-barreled standard".

    But school rankings are OK?

    "Florida election supervisors voiced relief Friday after Gov. Rick Scott bowed to their request not to publish online the results of a rating survey elections officials said was badly flawed."

    Scott had directed the Department of State to rate all 67 election supervisors in eight areas based on their work in the Jan. 31 presidential preference primary. The supervisors, all elected and many of whom are, like Scott, Republican, were aghast, saying the criteria bore little resemblance to the real work they do.

    Scott aides and Secretary of State Ken Detzner decided to pull the plug on the controversial venture at a Wednesday meeting in the governor's office.
    "Scott backs off publishing ratings of elections supervisors".

    "Not every act coming out of the Legislature was a bone-headed one"

    The Miami Herald editorial board points out that "not every act coming out of the Legislature was a bone-headed one — even though it might have seemed that way."

    But while lawmakers were creating an unneeded 12th public university, cutting $300 million from the rest of the public-university system, shifting Medicaid costs to the counties, forcing welfare applicants to take drug tests and letting us dye our poodles hot pink, they managed to maintain funding for an effective program for seniors. Next time, they should work to expand it.
    "Help more seniors".

    Running higher ed like a bidness

    "The Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform will focus its attention on the State University System’s governance model, mainly the interaction between the Board of Governors and individual universities. Final recommendations are due October 31. The chair, Dr. Dale A. Brill [president of the Florida Chamber Foundation], will be joined by six members, two selected by Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Senate President Designate Don Gaetz, two selected by House Speaker Dean Cannon and Speaker Designate Will Weatherford and two selected by the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dean Colson and Mori Hosseini." "Scott signs Florida no-fault fraud legislation". See also "Scott creates panel to look at changes to state universities", "Gov. Scott panel to recommend university changes" and "Rick Scott Assigns Blue Ribbon Task Force to Reform Florida's Colleges and Universities".

    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Maps, Hazing, Stand Your Ground".

    "It makes Florida look like a bumpkin state"

    Joe Henderson asks "You want to loosen the restrictions on Cuba?"

    Be prepared for charges you're supporting a ruthless dictator. You say continuing economic sanctions that have been in place more than 50 years is a good idea? You are piling misery on the island's neediest people, of which there are many.

    [Henderson] asked a couple of people on opposite sides of this emotional and complex issue how they felt about it. Norma Camero Reno, from Temple Terrace, is a lawyer specializing in international law. Al Fox grew up in Ybor City, has made 82 visits to Cuba and has argued for years that we have to open up trade and travel there.

    Release the hounds.

    "I agree with (Scott) totally," Reno said. "Cuba has been our enemy forever. If there is something they can do to destroy this country, they will. If we stop the embargo, we have to accept all those Cubans who will be coming here.

    "These people have been taught their entire lives the United States caused their problems. They think everything bad that has happened to them is because of us."

    Fox said the backlash from the law will rally those who say it's time for a change.

    "I can tell you that the governor of Florida did a good thing in signing that bill because he didn't have a clue what he was doing," Fox said. "He overplayed his hand. Anyone with a seventh-grade civics class understanding knows this law is a joke, and it makes Florida look like a bumpkin state."
    "On Cuba, there's no compromise".

    Stop the madness

    "Four years ago, former Miami City Attorney Jorge Fernandez pleaded no contest to charges he had misused his personal expense account — and resigned his post. Now, he’s teaching government and civics at a Coconut Grove charter school." "Former Miami attorney teaching civics at Coconut Grove charter school".

    Campaign Roundup

    "In the latest edition of the Campaign Roundup, some Northeast Florida candidates get major endorsements, a Democratic primary for a South Florida Senate seat heats up, candidates scramble to qualify by petition and a Central Florida lawmaker drops out." "Campaign Roundup: Early endorsements edition".

    "Here’s a clue: She was elected with the help of Tea Party voters"

    Fabiola Santiago writes that, given Republican freshman member of Congress Sandy Adams'

    own experience with abuse, it’s tough to understand why Adams would deny the protections that have existed since 1994 for immigrant survivors of violence and abuse.

    But here’s a clue: She was elected with the help of Tea Party voters, notable for blaming America’s problems on immigrants instead of looking inward.

    Adams has said that her bill provides equal protection for everyone.

    But that’s not true, says the Miami-based non-profit Americans for Immigrant Justice.
    "It’s bad enough that Adams is making distinctions among her constituents, as many in Central Florida are immigrants, but as a woman who endured abuse and made a career helping victims, her stance is incomprehensible. Why not meet with the immigrant-rights groups and come up with better legislation?"
    As Adams well knows, when it comes to domestic abuse, it’s not easy to rebuild without the help of others. The secrecy of a geographic location is crucial. So is compassion.

    Vulnerable victims need Adams’ help, not the additional burdens and disenfranchisement she brings to the table with parts of this bill.
    "Abuse bill needs to protect immigrants".

    On the dole again

    "The state has tapped former state Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero to defend last year's pension changes. ... The case was rushed to Supreme Court after Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford struck down the provisions requiring employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to their retirements. In a Tuesday court filing, T. Neal McAliley, one of Cantero's colleagues at the law firm White & Case, asked to extend the deadline for filing the first round of briefs, in part because 'the undersigned counsel was hired today to represent Appellants in this matter.'" "Arrivals and Departures".

    "A cliched complaint from conservatives"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Three Florida Supreme Court justices already had been targeted for defeat by conservative activists before they recently handed their opponents some ammunition. Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince, up for retention in November's election, got help from court staff in a last-minute scramble to beat the deadline for filing the necessary paperwork. State Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, pounced, asking Gov. Rick Scott for an investigation."

    The group leading this year's charge to unseat the three justices, Restore Justice 2012, has accused them of "activism," a cliched complaint from conservatives who object to opinions they consider liberal. The group is spotlighting the three justices' votes to strike from the 2010 ballot a proposed constitutional amendment, sponsored by Plakon, that purported to let Floridians opt out of federal health care reform, including its mandate to buy health insurance.

    By a 5-2 vote, the high court upheld a lower court ruling that found the amendment confusing and misleading. Even so, the vote outraged amendment backers.

    But bouncing the three justices from the high court as payback for that ruling or others would be an abuse of the retention process. Worse, it could make others still on the bench wary or even unwilling to issue controversial or unpopular rulings for fear of losing their jobs.
    "Drive to bounce justices threatens independence".

    "Governor chose to inflame and grandstand"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It's unfortunate, but hardly a disaster, that Gov. Rick Scott did not honor Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's request to ban guns downtown during the Republican National Convention."

    Rather than acknowledge the challenges of protecting the public during a historic national event, the governor chose to inflame and grandstand.
    "Governor's potshot at mayor off target".

    MacNamara buddy feasts on no-bid contract

    "Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff helped steer a no-bid consulting contract worth $360,000 to a friend who now leads a task force rooting out state government waste."

    Steve MacNamara was still working for the Florida Senate when he recommended Sarasota business consultant Abraham Uccello for the contract to streamline the Legislature's computer systems.

    Their connection remains strong: Uccello said he sometimes stays at MacNamara's house when visiting Tallahassee. After Uccello was tapped by Scott to lead the government efficiency task force, MacNamara let Uccello get a government security badge that gives him access to the governor's office.

    Uccello's company, Harvester Consulting, was hired when MacNamara was then chief of staff for Senate President Mike Haridopolos. State corporation records show that Harvester Consulting was formed the month before the contract was awarded.

    In an email, MacNamara said Uccello was highly qualified and said that the contract was not required to be put out to bid.
    "Waste watchdog got no-bid contract from state".

    "Cobwebs from a previous campaign"

    "Miami-Dade State Attorney candidate Rod Vereen debuted his stump speech last week — but had to shake off some cobwebs from a previous campaign." "Miami-Dade state attorney hopeful slips in campaign kickoff".

    "Scott, the Legislature and the PSC have failed to lift a finger"

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Businesses that make big mistakes and force their customers to pay for them can expect a smarter competitor to take away their customers. But Progress Energy is a regulated monopoly, and it announced last week it expects customers to pay to expand a broken nuclear plant and to continue to finance a proposed nuclear plant that may never be built. Yet Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission have failed to lift a finger to stop this fleecing of the ratepayers." "Stop the fleecing of Progress Energy customers".

    But Ricky and Pammy said ...

    The Sarasota-Herald Tribune editorial board: "Opponents of the federal Affordable Care Act -- which they ridicule as "Obamacare" -- have warned from the beginning that the law would encourage employers to drop their employee insurance plans."

    The critics' rationale was that employers would find it cheaper to pay fines, to be imposed by the ACA starting in 2014, than to provide insurance for their workers.

    But opponents needn't worry: A recent report shows that employees lost work-related coverage with no "help" from the ACA. The report found that from 1997 to 2010 -- the year the initial provisions of the ACA took effect -- the percentage of U.S. workers covered by employer health insurance plans fell from 60.3 percent to 56.5 percent.

    The ones who should be worried, if the trend continues, are just about everyone else, including:

    • Workers for whom employer-provided coverage is increasingly harder to find and increasingly expensive.

    • Hospitals and health-care facilities required to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay.

    • Citizens and insurance policyholders who pay -- through taxes and higher premiums -- the rising costs of treating the uninsured. So far, 50 million Americans (one-sixth of the U.S. population) lack insurance, but number is sure to rise before 2014.
    "Insurance erosion".

    That's a relief

    "Thousands of state's unemployed facing cutoff of benefits".

    "Project Sunburst"

    The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Scott has taken a significant step forward for government-in-the-sunshine. The governor's unprecedented effort to make his email and the emails of his top staff easily and readily accessible on the Internet reflects the spirit of Florida's public records laws, and other public officials should follow his example." "Scott brings more sunshine into government workings". See also "Rick Scott praised for making emails public" and "Sunburst Offers Public Access to Governor's Email".

    Mini-Mack holds a press conference

    "Connie Mack Calls for Keystone Pipeline As New Rerouted Application Filed".

    Our tax dollars at work

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Scott's executive order permitting random testing of all state workers - which he suspended last year but signed into law again this year after the Legislature passed a similar bill - was part of a push that included a shortsighted move to screen welfare applicants. Both moves have proved manifestly unnecessary and constitutionally questionable. Both seemed designed more to fire up the Republican base than to address a policy dilemma."

    In striking down the governor's drug-testing policy for 85,000 state employees, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro correctly said Gov. Scott failed to establish sufficient need for the testing. Under Supreme Court precedents, a government agency must show that its drug-testing policy is tailored to address a specific and serious problem, one that is urgent enough to justify the "intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests." Thus, drug tests have been upheld for train operators, public school students and U.S. Customs agents who handle seized narcotics.

    As for Florida's wrongheaded policy, the judge found the drug-testing plan overly broad and underwhelmingly urgent. She wrote that Gov. Scott "shows no evidence of a drug-use problem at the covered agencies." She scoffed at the argument that the prevalence of drug-testing by private firms, which are not bound by this constitutional concern, was sufficient to negate a state employee's reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Florida's move to implement mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients also seems doomed. Last year, a federal judge ordered those tests suspended while a legal challenge to their constitutionality moves forward. In halting the tests, a federal judge called the law "likely to be deemed a constitutional infringement."
    "Scott railroaded the state".


    "Former Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder is dropping plans to run for the Volusia County Council and instead turn his sights to a newly drawn seat in the Florida House that has Deltona at its heart." "Deltona's Mulder to run for new state House seat".

    Fla-baggers run wild in Jax

    "Gov. Scott to GOP activists: Unite behind Romney".

    Entrepreneurs in action

    The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The Justice Department needs to aggressively pursue the case. Nailing down who knew what and when could factor into whether BP pays a premium for gross negligence on its per-barrel Clean Water Act fines. It also would shed light on the risks of continuing to rely heavily on the oil companies to police themselves." "Getting to bottom of BP spill".

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