FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a 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 Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Jeb and the tea party/GOP are acting out a Greek tragedy"

    Stephen Goldstein: "This column answers three questions: Will wonders never cease? Does hypocrisy know no limits? Can you fool all of the people all of the time?"
    Extremist Jeb Bush is now parading as the self-proclaimed voice of moderation — and the press is letting him get away with it. During his recent appearance before a Congressional committee, the same man who as Florida governor swore he would never raise taxes had the chutzpah to say that, had he been president, he would have accepted the hypothetical deal that every tea party/GOP presidential candidate rejected when it was proposed to them during one of their debates: $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.

    In addition, uncompromising Jeb now has the gall to posture himself as the leading GOP spokesperson for bipartisanship — and against take-it-or-leave-it, my-way-or-the-highway ideological rigidity.
    "As Florida governor, he was partisan, divisive, and autocratic."
    He set out to recreate the Sunshine State in his image — and let no one stand in his way. He relentlessly attacked government as the cause of our problems, was the sworn enemy of unions and public education. When he told Marco Rubio to jump, the former Florida House Speaker asked, "How high?"

    Even now, behind-the-scenes, Jeb pushes an activist, fiercely ideological agenda in Florida: Constitutional Amendment 8, which would destroy our historic separation of church and state and allow unlimited tax dollars to flow to religious organizations — for any purpose. In other words, Jeb is still an example of the rabid partisanship he claims to be against.

    The obvious question is: Why is Jeb speaking out now? Why has he not been the voice of compromise and moderation during most of the Obama years — and especially after Sen. Mitch McConnell said his chief goal was to make Obama a one-term president?

    Obviously, because the strategy has boomeranged!

    Being anti-everything-Obama has made the tea party/GOP anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-a-lot-of-good things. Jeb now realizes he and his party opened a Pandora's box of political mischief, indulged the tea-party Frankenstein that has taken over and is destroying them — and he's lost any chance of becoming president.

    "All the world's a stage"— and Jeb and the tea party/GOP don't know it, but they are acting out a Greek tragedy.
    Much more from Goldstein here: "Who does Jeb think he's kidding?".


    Rubio not ready for prime time

    "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) attacked President Barack Obama's new immigration policy on Sunday, claiming that the new standard, which grants certain young undocumented immigrants a reprieve from deportation, 'injects politics' into the debate over immigration." However,

    Rubio has long supported an immigration policy very similar to Obama's, which provides people who came to the United States at a very young age with a path to legal status, but not citizenship. He did not offer alternatives to the administration's policy during his appearance Sunday [on "NBC's Meet The Press"].
    "Marco Rubio Criticizes Obama Policy Similar To His Own".


    Corporate welfare explodes

    "Since January 2011, Florida has pledged nearly $155 million in tax breaks and other incentives to companies promising to create jobs in the state." "Mistakenly released database reveals that Florida has pledged nearly $155 million in incentives to create jobs". See also "Incentive deals cut by Scott are small but numerous".


    Scott's "contradictions abound"

    "The governor has learned to tune his message as he keeps a constant eye on reelection. But while some changes are shifts in policy, others are contradictions."

    Eighteen months into his first political job, Gov. Rick Scott has mastered one thing: the art of the perpetual campaign.

    He has a political consultant and media strategist on retainer and speed dial. The Republican Party has run statewide television ads and hired a company to regularly update his Facebook page. He has warmed to the media, become adept at his talking points, learned to deflect tough questions and passed the most important test in Florida politics: Showing that he can raise money for his reelection, at $3.7 million so far.

    The former health care CEO is still awkward on camera, so his advisors have steered him to friendly conservative talk-radio shows where he spends many early mornings as a regular call-in guest. The result: He has polished his patter.
    "But every campaign must run on a record, and that’s where the governor’s carefully crafted image gets wobbly."
    Scott has stopped touting the state’s job creation and instead brags that “we’ve had the biggest drop in unemployment of any state in the last 18 months.”

    The statement implies that Floridians have gone back to work at faster pace than the rest of the nation, but the state’s top economists note that 75 percent of the drop is due to people dropping out of the labor force and who are no longer counted among the unemployed.

    Other contradictions abound. The governor vowed to make education a priority, then signed the state budget that cut $300 million from universities and included a spending plan that assumed a 15 percent tuition increase and the creation of a 12th university. Last week he then urged the Board of Governors to make Florida “Number 1 in affordability” and reject the tuition hikes. They didn’t.

    The governor has promised to keep the cost of living down for Floridians but has accepted $250,000 in campaign cash from Florida Power & Light, which wants to raise electric rates for its 4.5 million customers.

    Scott campaigned on being a Tallahassee outsider but supporters say he does not like being the enforcer. When a series of Herald/Times reports detailed how Scott’s second chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, steered contracts and jobs to friends, the governor called him into his office and asked him to resign earlier than planned.

    He kept MacNamara on the job until July 1 and when the governor left the country and spent a month touring the state, MacNamara’s deputy told the Department of Juvenile Justice to give another company a contract advantage. The connection? The lobbyist for the company was close friends with MacNamara’s former boss, Senate President Mike Haridopolos. ...

    Scott’s image crafting also has done little to help him in the polls and made him damaged goods on the campaign trail. He has not been invited onto GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign bus, and a recent Public Policy Poll of likely voters showed that even little known state Sen. Nan Rich, a Democrat from Weston, could beat Scott if the election for governor were held today.
    "Gov. Rick Scott never turns campaign off as he learns on the job".


    Rubio expresses "phony outrage"

    "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, last week accused Republicans, in particular Rubio, of expressing “phony outrage” over the administration’s policy. The administration’s directive allows young undocumented immigrants who were raised in the United States to remain for two years under a deferred deportation." "Obama’s immigration maneuver could box in Romney, GOP". Related: "Rubio calls for depoliticizing immigration issue to find solution" and "Sen. Marco Rubio criticizes those playing politics with immigration".


    "Tough look at Vern Buchanan"

    "CNN takes tough look at Vern Buchanan". Meanwhile, "Buchanan seeks to muzzle former business partner".


    "Florida racing to the bottom"

    Lauren Ritchie: "If a clanging gong were used to sound the insincerity of Florida's 'commitment' to educating young people, everybody south of Valdosta would be deaf by now." "Florida racing to the bottom with dual enrollment retreat".


    "Impacts of phosphate mining in Florida"

    The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "For more than a decade, local governments, environmental groups and concerned citizens have pleaded with federal and state authorities for a comprehensive study of the cumulative impacts of phosphate mining in Florida."

    They've watched as mines were proposed and approved piecemeal, and as mining companies gouged phosphate rock out of Central and Southwest Florida.

    Landscapes became moonscapes, wetlands were destroyed and the flow of rivers, streams and underground aquifers were altered. Mine-site reclamation projects eventually improved, but many scientists contend that, despite the companies' claims, the impacts are long-lasting, not temporary.
    "Phosphate mining: not much impact?".


    Gun nut

    "Scott defended his purge of state voter rolls and refusal to ban guns in the event zone of the Republican National Convention in a speech to local Republicans Saturday night." "Scott defends RNC gun stance in Tampa speech".


    "Why Scott hasn't been invited to campaign alongside Romney"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "In his presidential campaign, Republican Mitt Romney stresses the weak economic recovery and high Florida unemployment and, naturally, blames it all on the policies of Barack Obama. Republican Gov. Rick Scott says the state's economy is steadily improving because of his own conservative leadership. The conflicting messages could explain why Scott hasn't been invited to campaign alongside Romney. Whom should we believe?" "Rhetoric obscures state's true outlook".


    Scott's "poll numbers are at naked-zombie levels"

    Carl Hiaasen writes that Sheldon Adelson

    donated $250,000 to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s PAC, cheerily titled Let’s Get To Work. The contribution — which surely wasn’t intended to influence Scott’s views on upcoming casino legislation — was a boost for the Republican governor, whose poll numbers are at naked-zombie levels.
    "Super Pacs: who comes up with those names?".


    Nelson decries the polarization

    "Wrapping up three days of speeches headlined by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Saturday decried the polarization in Washington, echoing remarks made by other legislators at the annual gathering of Latino lawmakers in Orlando." "Sen. Bill Nelson decries 'ideological rigidity' in American politics at NALEO 2012".


    Rising seas will drown Florida Keys and Miami-Dade

    "Under current projections, the Atlantic would swallow much of the Florida Keys and Miami-Dade in a century, according to experts at a sea-level rise summit". "Rising seas mean shrinking South Florida future, experts say".


    Blame Fidel

    Medicare fraud? Myriam Marquez thinks Fidel did it! "After 53 years of elaborate schemes, murder and mayhem from Angola to Venezuela, Fidel and Raúl have gotten pretty good at it. But the bottom line really isn’t that complicated if the doubters care to seek the truth. Nothing happens in Cuba without the consent of the Castros. Certainly nothing having to do with money, and certainly not millions of dollars in deposits in Cuban government-controlled banks. Was the Cuban government taking a cut?" "Medicare fraud’s men in Havana".


    Kristin Jacobs

    "Congressional candidate Jacobs emerged from abusive marriage".


    "Getting eyeballs"

    "How can a political candidate guarantee getting eyeballs on his campaign advertising? By airing it during the NBA Finals, of course. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s reelection campaign aired its first TV spot last week during Game 4 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat." "Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s reelection ad airs during Heat game".


    Scott "steering Florida toward a 'Mad Men'-esque vision"

    Aaron Deslatte: "This is the kind of news that probably makes Mitt Romney happier than Rick Scott: Florida's declining unemployment rate is due more to would-be workers dropping out of the hunt for jobs than to new hirings by employers. That's the consensus of the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research, which noted this month that although the state's jobless rate fell from 9.9 percent in December 2011 to 8.7 percent in April 2012, '75 percent of the drop … is due to people dropping out of the labor force.'"

    When The Miami Herald asked Scott spokesman Lane Wright why the governor kept claiming success by pointing to a statistic that actually reflects a dwindling labor pool, Wright responded that Scott was simply using the same metric as other governors.

    Then he posited an interesting theory:

    "How many of those people are mothers who decided they just want to stay at home and let their husbands provide for the family? They didn't need to work. Do you know how many mothers qualify and have dropped out of the unemployment rolls? How many have retired? How many of those are baby boomers that have retired?" Wright told the Herald.

    Wright clarified to us that "my point wasn't to hype stay-at-home moms. My point was to say we don't know. All my point is, we don't know" who is dropping out of the labor force.

    And Scott's office certainly doesn't want to suggest its economic policies are steering Florida toward a "Mad Men"-esque vision where more women stay home to make babies and highballs for their bread-winning husbands. (Because really, who wants to smoke that much anymore?)

    But, could a shift to single-income households be a legitimate explanatory variable for people dropping out of the labor force? The research appears thin.
    "Does unemployment rate mean what politicians say it does?".


    "Other U.S. cities exploiting what should be Miami's slam-dunks

    The Miami Herald editorial board complains that "other U.S. cities are exploiting what should be our slam-dunks. For instance, Miami is the favored port — this year — for Brazil, Honduras and Peru. But Houston is the port of choice for Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela, according to WorldCity, a Miami-based trade publication. And Los Angeles, bereft of Latin American banks, may be giving a flirtatious eye to those lining Brickell." "Miami can lead the pack".


    LeMieux, Broward blues

    "George LeMieux dropping out of the U.S. Senate race last week was a blow for some GOP activists in his home county of Broward." "Broward Republicans lose prominent local candidate".


    "The write-in tactic"

    "Kevin Gross is running for Seminole County Commission, but you won't see his name on a ballot. He doesn't have a campaign website, and it's unlikely he will knock on doors looking for votes."

    Gross, a registered Republican from Longwood, is a write-in candidate. Yet despite his low profile, he could have a significant influence on the District 3 commission race Aug. 14.

    Because of a loophole in state law, his candidacy means that only registered Republicans — about 41 percent of the county's 260,000 registered voters — will be able to vote in the race. If not for Gross, all registered voters in Seminole could vote in the Republican primary.

    Across Florida, Republicans and Democrats alike have used the write-in tactic to keep voters from other parties out of their primaries.

    In the Seminole case, no Democrats are seeking the commission seat now held by Dick Van Der Weide. But opening the Republican primary to Democrats and independents would likely benefit candidate Lee Constantine. A longtime state legislator, Constantine could draw votes from non-Republicans because of his name recognition. Donald Epps and Kathleen Gallagher McIver are also seeking the seat.

    "I do wish this was changed," Seminole Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel said of the loophole. "What's frustrating about this for a lot of people is that it just seems to be used as a tactic by one side. … And it causes people not to have much faith in the election process overall."

    According to state law, everyone can vote in a primary election when only one party fields candidates. The exception: If write-in candidates, such as Gross, enter the race, then the primary is open only to registered voters of that party, with the winner facing the write-in candidates in the general election.

    Supporters of the loophole say that the purpose of a primary should be to allow members of a party to select their best candidate for the general election.
    "Loophole keeps other voters out of Seminole GOP primary".

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Editorial: To protect voter rights, purge write-ins".

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