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 Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gallagher Ground Game

    "Gallagher launched the active part of his ground game Saturday, with an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 volunteers going door-to-door in 10 counties and making calls in the other 57. The goal is for volunteers to knock on 10 doors a day for 10 days and ask for votes, survey people on issues important to them and recruit more volunteers." "Gallagher begins ground game in GOP gubernatorial primary".

    The Harris Effect

    "'God wants [Harris] to be senator.'"

    Heading into the November election, Republican Party strategists fear U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key, won't just lose her own race for the U.S. Senate but injure other Republicans on the ballot, too.

    Concern grows over a "negative coattails" effect as rising gas prices and President Bush's falling public poll numbers darken GOP election prospects.

    In response, high-profile party leaders have begun saying openly that they would prefer another candidate. GOP strategists and operatives have begun a whispering campaign. Calling and requesting anonymity, they feed reporters the same kinds of negative story tips about Harris they would normally seek to spread about a Democratic opponent.

    Those tactics may not work, though, partly because of Harris' appeal as a GOP superstar and partly because her determination may come from a source beyond politics: She has expressed a religious calling to run.

    Harris has hinted at that, but former top political adviser Ed Rollins says it straight out, quoting Harris as telling him: "God wants me to be senator."
    "GOP Fears Harris Will Be Drag On Other Candidates". See also "Harris tables ethics issues".

    In the meantime, "Nelson adds to campaign coffer, while Harris stumbles".


    "A campaign finance reform effort championed by Senate President Tom Lee to prevent candidates from tapping into secretive slush funds is headed for a final-days showdown in the Florida Legislature. On Friday, House Republican leaders signaled that they still have little appetite for the get-tough measure that would sharply curtail the use of shady political fund-raising committees in Florida." "Campaign reform showdown at hand".

    Klein Raises Money

    With the State Senate

    prepared to vote on one of the most heavily lobbied, big-money issues in years, one side with a huge stake in the battle was pouring money into the congressional campaign of state Sen. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.

    A South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis of Klein's campaign contributions shows a spike in donations from attorneys in March. He took in $50,350 from attorneys that month, 21/2 times his $19,750 monthly average from attorneys since becoming a candidate for Congress last year. He is seeking the Broward-Palm Beach County seat held by U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale.

    Klein is one of the few members of the Legislature allowed to raise campaign cash during the session. State rules prohibiting fund raising during the legislative session don't apply to candidates for federal office.
    "Attorneys stuffed Klein's campaign coffers before key vote".

    "Market is teetering"

    "The announcement that three Florida insurance companies face closure was just a start. The state's property-insurance market is teetering." "Lawmakers may shift more cost to vacation owners". See also "Legislature saves insurance bills for last".


    "Consider the predicament of the Florida farmers. May is a critical harvesting month, yet the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association has no choice but to support the boycott - up to a point - because without reforms and a guest-worker program from Congress, farmers will continue to struggle to maintain a stable workforce. Jay Taylor, owner of Taylor & Fulton farms, a fruit and vegetable grower in Florida and Virginia, is shutting down operations Monday so hundreds of his workers can attend rallies." "We say we don't want illegals here".

    But the Orlando Sentinel editorial board - whose maids, pool boys and yard men must work on Mondays - are imploring those concerned with the issue to abanodon the effort and "Keep working".

    The Tribune Company's "know nothing" founders and its wingnut former president Colonel Robert R. McCormick would be proud,

    Warped System

    Tallahassee Democrat Editorial Page Editor Mary Ann Lindley argues that in Florida "We need to repeal term limits, end single-member districts and reorganize reapportionment - or sit and wait until an effective third party upsets the apple cart and appeals to all of us who are no longer very thrilled with either party." "System warps political interplay".


    "Scripps' lawyers haven't understood that the county needs to show taxpayers that the institute is making a genuine commitment. There are lots of ways to do that, but Scripps acts as though even the slightest symbolic commitment will threaten the institute's future. So the county looks like it has the soul of a number cruncher, and Scripps looks like an ingrate. Is that how each side wants this marriage to end?" "Only the right kind of talk saves Scripps". See also "Scripps' deal drifts away from consensus on liability concerns, jobs".


    "Busansky's race is one of 22 chosen for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red-to-Blue effort, which seeks to take House seats held by the GOP. It provides campaign assistance, including money." "Busansky Gets Help From National Party".


    Here we go again:

    The Sarasota County Republican Party chairman is practically begging for candidates to run for County Commission. Even though three Republicans are already in the District 2 race, Chairman Bob Waechter is pushing to get at least one more registered Republican in the contest, but with a stated mission: lose.

    What he wants is a Republican to file as a write-in candidate, which under state law would stop the race from becoming an open primary in which any registered voter in the county could cast a ballot.

    "That's just plain wrong," said Ben Wilcox, executive director of Common Cause of Florida.
    "Sarasota GOP leader tries to use loophole".


    "But nearly five years shy of picking up the gavel for the first time, the 37-year-old lawyer [State Rep. Dean Cannon] has been drawn into the inner circle of Republican House leadership in a way that was unthinkable for a freshman before voters sped up the leadership-selection process with eight-year term limits.
    " "Statehouse rookie from Winter Park making fast ascent".

    Heavy Lifting

    "With five days to go in the session, the most important legislation remains unresolved. That's not unusual for the Legislature, but some particularly daunting tasks remain, including passing a record-breaking $70 billion budget and dealing with complicated legislation concerning insurance, education, ethics and tax cuts." "Lawmakers Leave Heavy Lifting For Final Days Of Session". See also "Bills die slow death at session".

    FCAT Follies

    "While it's a stretch to see a pressing public need to know the graders' names, the department and the company are on weak grounds in defending their secrecy. The 'trade secrets' provision in the contract does not apply to performance-related matters, and maintaining secrecy in a matter of high public importance violates at least the spirit of the 'sunshine law.'" "FCAT Graders".

    "Excellence is pursued only by the penny."

    "Florida schools long have suffered from the political illusion that cheap is better. They have ranked 48th in the nation in per-student spending, and they are known for the nation's largest schools and some of its most overcrowded classrooms. The fact that a governor would portray first-grade classes with 18 students as a form of financial Armageddon speaks to a mind-set where excellence is pursued only by the penny." "More money for schools".

    You Do The Numbers

    Let's see, Brian

    Ballard collects a total of about $270,000 a year representing the cities of Palm Beach, Pembroke Pines and Boca Raton, and Charlotte and Martin counties. He said his rates, $40,000 to $65,000, are lower than what he charges 63 private clients, including Verizon, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Yankees.
    "Even elected officials hire lobbyists".

    $270,000 for his public sector clients. And a conservative $65,000 annually for each of his 63 private sector clients that works out to $4,365,000 per year(63 x 65,000 = 4,095,000 + 270,000 = 4,365,000).

    Remind me why Brian Ballard is so special?


    "Florida's big budget surplus was originally supposed to mean money back for residents. But semantics may be getting in the way." "'Tax cut,' a term that's still evolving".

    Jebbie's Defeat A Boost To Smith?

    "A vote blocking the governor and GOP leaders from asking voters to ease class size caps can be traced to a power struggle in the Senate."

    The present Senate president, Tom Lee, R-Valrico, said the power struggle played a role in Friday's vote. He also singled out the success of Sen. Rod Smith, D-Alachua, a candidate for governor, in uniting Democrats and dissident Republicans to torpedo the class size overhaul. "It's a very dangerous situation to find yourself in as a presiding officer, so I wanted to address it as soon as I saw it beginning to happen," Lee said.

    As Republican support on other issues melted away, Lee disappeared from the rostrum for long stretches, working to save a working majority.

    Lee's dilemma could be a political boost for Smith. It reinforces a theme of Smith's gubernatorial campaign that he can get things done, despite being in the minority. "We were able to put together a coalition here and hold that coalition for success on this issue," Smith said.
    "Analysis: Division defeated a Bush priority".

    The Rich Are Different

    "According to financial disclosure reports filed last July, 60 of the state's 160 lawmakers reported a net worth topping $1 million. Also, the average income of legislators was about $187,000 -- five times that of the average Floridian. Maybe that helps fuel empathy with the wealthiest 1 percent of Floridians affected by the so-called intangibles tax. One thing is clear: The tax break will cost the state treasury $130.6 million this year, and another $161.2 million expected next year." "Wealthy lawmakers ease the pain".

    Surging To The Wingnut Right

    A GOoPers gotta do what a GOoPers gotta do:

    In the Republican race for attorney general, that position puts former U.S. Rep. McCollum of Longwood on the same page on Schiavo as state Rep. Joe Negron of Stuart. The other two Republicans running to succeed Crist, Sen. Burt Saunders of Naples and Rep. Everett Rice of Treasure Island, disagreed with the legislative intervention.

    The Democrat running for attorney general, state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell of Tamarac, supported intervening in the Schiavo case in 2003 but voted against it in 2005.

    Sen. Mel Martinez beat McCollum in the 2004 Republican Senate primary, in which Crist took the unusual step of endorsing Martinez. Now that Crist is in a tough gubernatorial primary against Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, however, McCollum won't return the favor.
    "McCollum says he favored Schiavo case intervention".

    Screwing State Workers

    "State lawmakers are shortchanging the Florida Highway Patrol -- again." "Support the troopers".

    "It ought to be illegal"


    It ought to be illegal, it ought to be a felony and grounds for removal from office, for a member of the PSC to have contact with a regulated company outside of public regulatory proceedings in Tallahassee.

    It ought to be illegal for a regulated company to be able to supply the PSC or its staff with any material that is not filed in the public record, with proper notice supplied to all parties.

    It ought to be illegal for a former member of the PSC to work for regulated companies after they leave office. Period. If they don't like it, then don't serve. There are 18-million people in this state; we won't run out of qualified folks.

    Even the humblest traffic court judge in Florida somehow manages to abide by these kinds of rules every day. Certainly, unelected regulators with the power to take billions of dollars out of the pockets of Floridians should have no lower standard.
    "Regulators of utilities need tighter regulating".

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