Only one incumbent state senator has drawn a major challenger
Jeff Henderson: "Less than a year until the general elections, it appears the Florida Senate will feature more of the same after November 2014. Not a single senator faces term limits in 2014 and only one of the current incumbents has drawn a major challenger."
With Republicans controlling the Senate, it appears Democrats will be hard-pressed to flip the chamber next year. So far, most Republican incumbents in the Senate are cruising to victory in 2014 with next to no Democratic opposition."Jeff Brandes is the only Republican incumbent who has drawn a major Democratic challenger so far in Judithanne McLauchlan, a professor at the University of South Florida. McLauchlan has an impressive background working with the New Hampshire Democrats and being one of John Kerry’s chief organizers in Florida back in 2004. But Brandes has been successful in getting his message out and raising funds. With Republicans outnumbering Democrats in this Tampa Bay district, Brandes starts off with the edge, though McLauchlan is a live underdog and Democrats are building momentum in the area."
But if Brandes can expect a fight, the same can’t be said of any of his fellow Senate Republicans in 2014. Democrat Scott Landry has been in the race for a few months now but he hasn’t given Tom Lee a reason to sweat yet. Joe Negron can expect a spirited primary challenge from underdog Brandon Michael Cannon over poker rooms and gambling but there’s no Democrat in the race yet. Jack Latvala should have no problem dispatching Zahid Roy in the primary yet again."Florida Senators Cruising to Re-election in 2014".
But most Senate Republicans have nothing to fear so far in 2014. The likes of Republicans Greg Evers, Aaron Bean, John Thrasher, Dorothy Hukill, David Simmons, Thad Altman, Wilton Simpson, Bill Galvano, Nancy Detert, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rene Garcia and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla have not even drawn opponents yet. Granted, that could change but, with less than a year to go, most Republican incumbents have little to worry about in 2014.
Hedging his bets
"Morgan & Morgan invests heavily in politics, not just to Democrats but also Republicans who in recent years have much more say in how far state leaders go in curbing lawsuits. "
Since 2010, the firm has given about $175,000 to the Florida Democratic Party and nearly $200,000 to the Florida GOP. Morgan, a registered Democrat, calls himself a big supporter of state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, in line to be Florida House speaker, and calls Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi "one of my closest friends.""John Morgan: the bombastic, omnipresent lawyer fueling Florida's 2014 election".
"The old party never forgives"
Nancy Smith: "Candidates can be moderate and still win elections, but the ones who do it by switching parties and feigning middle-of-the-road principles plain turn voters off."
The old party never forgives, the new party never trusts. That's just how it is."Party-Switching Candidates Don't Win Hearts".
And, by the way, I'm not talking specifically about Charlie Crist. There are more shameless ship-jumpers out there than just Charlie filing papers to run and making holier-than-thou speeches about what they believe.
Campaigns work 'round the holidays
"The special election to fill the late C.W. 'Bill' Young’s seat in Congress is riddled with numerous challenges for the candidates, not the least of which is having to campaign during the holidays." "District 13 campaigns must work around the holidays".
"State is more interested in preserving a particular party’s political power"
The Tampa Tribune editors: "Here we go again. The state’s top elections officer is attempting to dictate another policy that local elections supervisors say is unnecessary and an impediment to thousands of voters."
This time, Secretary of State Ken Detzner is telling the state’s supervisors to eliminate any remote sites — such as libraries or other public buildings — where voters could drop off an absentee ballot during early-voting hours.The editors of one of the solidly Republican editorial board point out that, "in the course of just a few short years the state has instituted questionable changes to popular early-voting hours, launched a flawed voter purge effort, and issued a misguided absentee ballot directive." They continue, writing that,
Detzner says his directive is meant to clarify a state law that stipulates the return of absentee ballots be restricted to the office of the supervisor of elections.
But it’s only his interpretation of the law, and state elections supervisors should challenge that interpretation before agreeing to eliminate the popular remote sites. If Detzner’s interpretation is upheld, state lawmakers should change the statute to allow for the remote sites.
The supervisors this week were once again caught by surprise by Detzner and left to wonder why they are being told to eliminate a practice that makes it easier to vote. . . .
Detzner, a member of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, continues to spar with some elections officials over the state’s renewed effort this year to purge ineligible voters from the rolls.
During the last election cycle, the purge attempt turned disastrous when the majority of names the state sent to local elections supervisors turned out to be eligible voters mistakenly placed on the purge list.
Critics claimed the move targeted minorities more likely to vote for Democrats rather than the Republicans now in power in Tallahassee.
Those same critics say this latest directive is meant to influence the March special election for the District 13 U.S. House seat representing most of Pinellas County by making it less convenient to cast an absentee ballot. Pinellas voters cast 105,000 absentee ballots in 2012, more than any other county in the state.
Rather than make the voting process better, these moves have instead given life to claims that the state is more interested in preserving a particular party’s political power than in preserving the integrity of the vote."State elections officials should stop meddling".
The state’s meddling needs to stop.
Miami-Dade’s science teacher of the year ranked "barely effective"
"When Miami-Dade’s 2012 elementary science teacher of the year finally got her annual evaluation last May, she was confused."
Despite the top honor from her peers for her work with Howard Drive Elementary fifth graders, the official record ranked Julie Rich as barely effective due to her students’ poor test results — in reading."For thousands of Florida teachers, evaluations aren’t making the grade".
“It makes no sense,” said Rich. “I’m just trying to get a fair evaluation. I felt really offended by this because I’m not even being judged by the subject I teach.”
Nor are thousands of other Florida teachers.
As the Department of Education prepares to release another batch of evaluation results Monday under the state’s new job review process, local school boards and state officials are still struggling to improve a system that judges as many as two-thirds of the state’s teachers on the test scores of students they’ve never met or on subjects they don’t teach.
Scott out-raises Crist by wide margin
"Charlie Crist made it into the millionaire’s club three weeks after jumping into the race for governor as a Democrat."
“Charlie Crist for Florida,” the political committee backing the one-time Republican governor, posted contributions totaling $1.28 million on its website as of Nov. 23. The soft money includes $100,000 from the Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence in Ocala."Crist Cracks $1 Million; Scott Hits $25 Million Goal".
Crist also raked in more than $36,000 at a fundraiser last week at the home of Tallahassee trial lawyer Don Hinkle, including $15,000 from lawyer Darryl Parks. Parks is a law partner of Benjamin Crump, the attorney who represents Trayvon Martin’s parents.
However, "Scott, a Republican whose unpopularity in polls has left him vulnerable, has demonstrated no weaknesses on the fund-raising front so far: collecting $5.84 million for the same time period through his own electioneering group, Let's Get to Work." "Scott blows away Crist in first-month fundraising".
Florida's all-star empty suits
USA Today - Potential 2016 GOP candidates "Marco Rubio" and "Jeb Bush".
Scott's self-congratulatory letters
"Gov. Rick Scott has sent congratulatory letters to law-school grads, lottery winners, new-business owners and others that tout the state's advances under his watch, at a cost to taxpayers of at least $11,370."
With Scott's re-election on tap for 2014, along with his near-automatic propensity to reel off his jobs and economy mantra in public comments, don't expect the letter-writing campaign to slow or the questionable language to disappear from such messages."Scott views the missives as a means to applaud individuals and to promote Florida. His critics say some of the messages include language that deviates into campaign talking points."
The use of letters highlighting positive accomplishments isn't unusual by government agencies and elected officials, it's just that Scott hadn't always employed such a bulk of correspondence, said Susan MacManus, a political-science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
"Re-election Puts Focus on Rick Scott Congratulatory Letters".
Mica peddling KSC
"NASA is in the midst of a huge yard sale at Kennedy Space Center, peddling unused hangars, assembly buildings, launch complexes and even a landing strip to commercial space companies. But at the request of U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, Congress soon may be asking whether the space agency is cleaning out the closets thoroughly enough." "Mica questions whether NASA has let go of enough unused KSC property".
"Radel scandal running its course"
Bill Cotterell: "Immediately after the revelation of Radel’s case, Democrats expressed the appropriate hope that he gets help and that rehab will work. At the same time, they recalled that Radel supported Republican efforts to require drug-testing of welfare recipients."
That’s not a precise comparison, but close enough for politics. Leaders should vote for what they consider good public policy, no matter what goes on in their personal lives. But the hypocrisy of one standard for the poor and another for the privileged was underscored by Radel’s admission."Radel scandal is running its course".
Meanwhile, "Republicans Gear Up to Replace Trey Radel in Congress".
Charter school follies
"Sen. Clemens says he's frustrated by the battle for dollars between charter and traditional public schools. He sponsored a bill to insert a specific need requirement in the law authorizing the creation of charter schools." "Senator wants to tighten charter school focus".
Jeb Perpetuates Another Wingnut Myth About Obama
"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) called out President Barack Obama for closing the U.S. embassy to the Vatican, questioning whether the decision was political "retribution" for Catholic opposition to the Affordable Care Act." "Jeb Bush Perpetuates Myth That Obama Is Closing The Vatican Embassy".
Week in Review
"Week in Review for Nov. 27, 2013".
Scott gettin' desperate
"Rick Scott has some thinking to do as names drop off his short list to be Florida’s next lieutenant governor, leaving two Tampa Bay Republicans in the mix. . . . It’s not the most impressive of short lists but the lieutenant governorship hasn’t exactly helped Florida politicians over the years." "Tampa Bay May Hold Rick Scott's Next Lieutenant Governor".
"Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman has confirmed she’s being vetted as a possible appointee to become Gov. Rick Scott’s lieutenant governor but stopped short of saying she would accept the job if it’s offered." "Murman flattered by Lt. Gov. consideration".
Groundwater contamination . . . no problem
"The Legislature provided about $10 million a year for the Dry-cleaning Solvent Cleanup Program at DEP until 2009 when funding was cut to $4 million for the following three years. 'Legislators do not understand or realize the potential health risk that exists,' said Phil Leary, lobbyist for the Florida Groundwater Association and an alliance of cleanup contractors." "Support urged for dry cleaning contamination sites program that saw sharp budget cuts".
Scott pushes more voting restrictions
William March: "A new state directive restricting absentee ballot returns sparked renewed Democratic accusations of voter suppression Tuesday against Gov. Rick Scott, with suggestions the Scott administration hopes to influence the special election to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young."
Several elections supervisors also criticized the directive from Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, saying it will cause unnecessary inconvenience for absentee voters who return their ballots in person."Florida absentee ballot directive draws criticism". See also "Detzner’s directive on absentees sets off spirited debate".
Pension haters in a dither
"City of Tallahassee pension plan is 91 percent funded" (similarly "the Florida Retirement System defined benefit plan, which serves 517,000 teachers, state workers, law enforcement professionals and county employees that include those for Leon, was 86.2 percent funded as of October.")
"Don't tell Nan Rich she can't win"
Nancy Smith: "Don't tell Nan Rich she can't win. She won't believe you."
This is a Democrat who knows who she is, what she wants to do and why. In her marathon, year-and-a-half run for governor of Florida, she didn't expect help from the men in her party, and certainly she hasn't had any."Democrat Nan Rich's Enduring, Families-First Rise in Florida Politics".
The Miami Herald editors: "Delicate balance in the Everglades" (subscription required).
FlaGOP fights for freedom to be uninsured
"GOP Attacks Florida Democrats on Obamacare".
Garcia draws another GOP challenger
Kevin Derby: "National Republicans are increasingly turning their attention to Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo to dispatch freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., even as Curbelo draws another major primary opponent." "South Florida Congressional Race Heats Up".
"GOP leader: Rep. Radel should step down". See also "Calls for Trey Radel's Resignation Grow Louder" and "Florida GOP chair calls for Radel to step down".
Low wage employers all atwitter
"On the heels of new unemployment figures showing a hiring surge in recent months, Florida businesses have mixed news as they consider hiring decisions for next year. The Department of Revenue released the 2014 unemployment tax rates Tuesday, showing the minimum rate will drop by 42 percent. The minimum wage, though, will jump 14 cents to $7.93 per hour starting Jan. 1. The direct wage for tipped employees will also rise 14 cents to $4.91 per hour." "Businesses to see conflicting cost pressures next year".
Florida's wildfire-beating firefighters still waiting
"Several of the people who make the money for Florida’s market-beating pension fund are getting major raises -- some as high as $25,000 -- to bring the state’s fund managers closer to what they might make on Wall Street or in other state capitals." "SBA hands out hefty pay increases".
Florida's crime-beating and wildfire-beating cops and firefighters are still waiting for their raises
Miami’s foreclosure rate falls
"Miami’s foreclosure rate falls to 9.9 percent".
Runnin' Gub'mint like a bidness
"Struggles Continue With New Unemployment Computer System".
Florida's new method for counting and calculating income to determine Medicaid, CHIP, and the Premium Tax Credits and Cost-Sharing Reductions available through the new Health Insurance Marketplace
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy reports that "starting January 2014, Florida will begin using the concept of Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) when determining eligibility for its Medicaid and CHIP programs."
More than just a number, MAGI is a new method for counting and calculating income under the Affordable Care Act."MAGI: The Other Change to Medicaid Eligibility and What It Means to Florida".
Specifically, MAGI will provide a basis for aligning, simplifying and streamlining eligibility across Medicaid, CHIP, and the Premium Tax Credits and Cost-Sharing Reductions available through the new Health Insurance Marketplace.
The "translation" between the current system and MAGI is not completely straightforward, however. In fact, as a result of the differences between the two systems, some Floridians who are Medicaid-eligible under current rules will become ineligible in 2014, even if nothing about their situation changes. On the other hand, some who are ineligible under current rules will be able to qualify once MAGI is implemented.
How about proper staffing levels?
"Jim Karels led the independent investigation last summer into the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, which killed 19 members of a firefighting "hot shots" team and was the deadliest wildfire since 1933. With Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam last week having raised concerns about a potentially difficult 2014 fire season, Karels said there are lessons from the Arizona fire that apply to Florida." "Florida Forest Service director reflects on lessons learned from Arizona wildfire deaths".
"Economic statistics aren’t all they sometimes appear to be"
Rick Scott's pals on the Tampa Trib editorial board write that "he took great satisfaction last week in the release of new jobs numbers and unemployment rates that give plenty of reason for optimism in a state hit particularly hard by the great recession. Florida added 44,000 jobs last month, more than any other state in the nation. Here in the Tampa Bay area, 7,100 jobs were added last month and nearly 40,000 over the past year, which leads the state."
However, even they acknowledge that
the positive economic statistics aren’t all they sometimes appear to be. For instance, economists say one reason the unemployment rate is dropping is because the long-term unemployed have given up looking for work and no longer show up in the statistics."Scott makes progress on jobs front".
Allegations of altered calendars, private email accounts and dilatory provision of text messages
"A persistent critic of Gov. Rick Scott filed lawsuits on Monday accusing top Florida officials of flouting the state’s public records laws by failing to turn over emails and other documents."
The lawsuits contend the Scott administration altered calendars of one top aide, relied on private email accounts and waited more than a year to hand over text messages of another aide."Gov. Scott, Bondi sued over public records".
The lawsuit against Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says her office refused to hand over notes from meetings Bondi kept on her iPad and didn’t provide emails from private accounts that deal with state business.
Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews, who is embroiled in a land dispute with the governor and members of the Cabinet, said he decided to file the lawsuits after failing to get records he has been seeking for months.
Crist defends Obamacare
"Health law may take toll on Democrats at polls". See also "Crist defends Obamacare at Palma Ceia fundraiser".
Cuba suspends consular services
"In a startling move, the Cuban government's diplomatic mission in Washington announced Tuesday that it was suspending consular services until further notice — in effect no longer issuing passports or visas for travel to Cuba." "Cuba indefinitely suspends consular services in U.S.".
Florida company received no bid Obamacare contract worth $12 million
"Caught flat-footed by the challenges of building the financial-management and accounting parts of the U.S. government's new online marketplace for health insurance, officials rushed to hire a familiar contractor without seeking competing bids, according to government procurement documents reviewed by Reuters."
The documents dated in August - less than two months before the opening of online marketplaces established by President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law - showed the agency in charge had only "recently learned" that building the financial management functions was "beyond (its) currently available resources.""Although the consumer-facing part of the marketplace, the HealthCare.gov website, opened for enrollments on October 1, CMS had a goal of January 1, 2014 for the financial components of the system to be operational."
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) documents shed more light on the problems facing the agency as it worked on the marketplaces established by the law commonly called Obamacare and on its revelation this week that at least 30 percent of the marketplace is still being built.
"The prospect of a delay...even for a few days, would result in severe consequences, financial and other," CMS said in a "justification and approval" document explaining the lack of competition for the contract."Federal agencies are normally required to solicit bids for work, so as to get the best deal for taxpayers, but can award a contract to a favored company in emergencies as long as they document the urgency."
The contract, valued at nearly $12 million, was awarded on August 9 to Novitas Solutions, according to the documents. Novitas has numerous contracts with CMS, including to administer doctor and hospital claims in the federal Medicare program for elderly Americans.
Just a few weeks before the financial-management contract was awarded, according to emails released last week by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, CMS officials were becoming increasingly concerned about the status of the federal insurance marketplace, asking for assurance that the lead contractor was not "going to crash the plane at take-off."Here's the Florida connection:
On Tuesday, CMS's deputy chief information officer, Henry Chao, author of the "crash" email, told a congressional panel that 30 to 40 percent of the federal marketplace was still under construction.
Invisible to consumers are what Chao called the "back office systems." Those include accounting and payment systems to send premiums to insurers and transfer funds to insurers that attract more than their share of customers with high medical costs.
The no-bid contract awarded to Novitas includes these systems.
Novitas is a subsidiary of Diversified Service Options, which is wholly-owned by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.When asked
about how Novitas was awarded the contract and the work it is doing, Florida Blue spokesman Mark Wright said a company official told him, "We're not going to be able to get into this right now.""Obamacare agency rushed in contractor without bids, documents show".
How nice to read that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is being handed no bid contracts. Background: "Blue Cross is top donor in Florida politics but its investment has produced mixed results" (the contributions since January 2013 "include $867,000 sent to Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature"). That said, it was mighty big of the "Florida Blue CEO [to] Refuse to Play Along with David Gregory's Concern Trolling".
"Florida’s prison lockup rate higher than Cuba’s"
"There is a fast way to save big bucks on prisons, say a growing chorus of conservatives and liberals alike: Stop putting so many people behind bars." "Florida’s prison lockup rate higher than Cuba’s" (subscription required).
Woman in wheelchair shot
"S. Florida woman in wheelchair shot, wounded".
Will Rubio remain "slavishly loyal to his tea party masters?"
Stephen Goldstein: "The millions of victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines are lucky Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio and tea party-Republicans don't represent them; if they did, they wouldn't be sending help to the victims anytime soon."
Instead, they'd be playing politics — dithering, posturing, and holding aid hostage until they got cuts in some program that helps poor kids or ailing seniors."So much hot air."
Impossible as it may be for civilized people with a moral compass to imagine, the sight of dazed, destitute, injured, dying and helpless people, through no fault of their own, doesn't seem to affect people of a certain disposition (aka tea party Republicans); their empathetic screws are loose, if they ever even had them.
Shedding crocodile tears, Rubio said he "watched with great sadness as Hurricane Sandy hit various eastern seaboard states and destroyed towns, property and lives." He "offered . . . prayers that the people impacted by Sandy would find strength in God's love and the company of their loved ones in its aftermath."
They'd better merit divine intervention, because Rubio lifted a finger, but it wasn't to help them. He claims he's opposed to holding natural disaster relief hostage to cuts in social programs. In his first chance to help, he voted against "the Hurricane Sandy supplemental bill . . ."As we breathe a sign of relief after another placid hurricane season, I have two nightmares."
It took Congress three months to approve a $50.7-billion aid package. But, even then, in his second chance to show a smidgen of human decency, Rubio voted against it — along with 35 other tea party Republicans in the Senate and 179 House members. A year after Sandy struck, many victims are still destitute, their homes still not rebuilt, their lives shattered.
First, South Florida suffers unthinkable devastation from a storm like Sandy. . . .Much more here: "When help is needed, don't look for Rubio".
And second, I'm afraid that we'd be treated no better than the victims of Sandy, by tea party/GOP members of Congress, who'd block aid from getting to us — and by insurance companies replacing Citizens who sold us policies that don't really cover us.
Where will Marco Rubio be when Floridians need him? If there's any pork in a Florida relief bill, will he refuse to vote for it and remain, as usual, slavishly loyal to his tea party masters? Or will he hold his nose and abandon his "principles" in the interest of suffering Floridians? Or will he do none-of-the-above and "watch with great sadness," "offer prayers" and hope we find "strength in God's love"?
We have reached a moral low-point in America, when everything that has been our collective strength slowly but surely has been eroded. Government, which has historically been the protector of all people, has been vilified as our common enemy. No one knows for sure what's left that we can rely upon or how much of our social and emergency infrastructure has been compromised or dismantled.
Perhaps Rubio has the answers. If not, maybe he'll shed some of his hallmark crocodile tears.
Rubio laff riot
"Florida's Sen. Rubio targets foreign policy, decries divisive Obama".
Hillary and "Jeb!" within margin of error in Hypothetical Florida Matchup
"Former Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are tops in their respective party primaries and run neck and neck in Florida in an early look at the 2016 White House race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released [Friday]."
Secretary Clinton tops U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other possible Republican candidates, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds."Florida voters disapprove 57 - 40 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, matching his all-time worst score, a 57 - 39 percent disapproval, in a September 22, 2011, Quinnipiac University poll."
Gov. Bush gets 22 percent in a hypothetical GOP primary with Rubio at 18 percent, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie at 14 percent and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 12 percent. No other candidate tops 9 percent, with 12 percent undecided.
Clinton sweeps a Democratic primary with 70 percent, followed by Vice President Joseph Biden at 9 percent and no other candidate above 4 percent. Ten percent are undecided.
Head to head, Clinton gets 47 percent to Bush's 45 percent. She tops other Republicans:
45 - 41 percent over Christie;
50 - 43 percent over Rubio;
51 - 41 percent over U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky;
50 - 42 percent over U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin;
52 - 36 percent over Cruz.
Florida voters say 56 - 39 percent that Clinton would make a good president, the best score of any candidate, followed by Christie at 45 - 35 percent, with Bush at a split 46 - 44 percent. All other candidates get negative scores, including Rubio with 39 - 47 percent.
"It's no surprise that Hillary Clinton is well thought of by Florida voters, but when asked whether she would be a good president, more voters say yes than say they will vote for her," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Nonetheless, she is neck and neck with former Gov. Jeb Bush and has a narrow lead over Chris Christie. Another Florida favorite Son, Sen. Marco Rubio, doesn't fare as well."
"Florida Democrats have eyes for no one but Hillary; seven in 10 back her for the nomination in 2016 and no one else is in double digits," Brown added. "The GOP nomination fight is another story. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio and three other potential aspirants get 9 percent or more and it is a forgone conclusion that the 2016 GOP nomination fight in Florida will be very competitive."
Disapproval is 93 - 6 percent among Republicans and 64 - 34 percent among independent voters, while Democrats approve 79 - 16 percent. Women disapprove 52 - 44 percent and men disapprove 63 - 35 percent."November 22, 2013 - Jeb Bush, Clinton Tops In Florida In 2016 Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Obama Approval Near All-Time Low In State". More: "Fla. poll: President Obama hurts Democrats, seen as untrustworthy". (From November 12 - 17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,646 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points). See also "Poll: Floridians prefer Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton in presidential race", "In Florida, Hillary beats Jeb in 2016 matchup, poll says", "Poll: Crist’s lead over Scott narrows" and "Crist’s lead over Scott dwindles; Nelson still not out".
Voters oppose the Affordable Care Act 54 - 39 percent, with partisan numbers that roughly match the president's approval rating.
ACA will make their healthcare worse in the next year, 44 percent of voters say, while 21 percent say the reform act will make their healthcare better and 31 percent say ACA will not affect their healthcare.
"When things were going well for President Barack Obama, he enjoyed overwhelming support among women and either tied or was slightly ahead among men. Now the shoe is on the other foot. He's down 28 percentage points among men and eight points among women," said Brown. "He is losing independents by 30 points and losing by 40 points among white voters. Even one in six Democrats give him a thumbs down. The question for the president is whether he has hit bottom or whether, as happened when President George W. Bush's numbers reached this neighborhood, there is further downside to come?"
Background: Nelson "told a reporter this week" he might run for governor if it starts looking like the Democratic nominee, presumably Crist, would lose to Scott.
Will unincorporated Hillsborough secede?
"Tampa ranks at the top of Florida cities for its support of gay and lesbian people, according to report issued this week by the Human Rights Campaign, a group that promotes gay rights." "Tampa tops among Florida cities for support of gays".
What say you, Mr. Scott?
"The long-simmering battle over teaching evolution in Texas boiled over at a late-night meeting, as the Board of Education extended preliminary approval of new science books for use in classrooms across the state but held up one biology text because of alleged factual errors." "Evolution debate again engulfs Texas board".
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed Scott’s run for reelection in 2014. "It’s a bromance: Texas Gov. Perry endorses 'passionate' Rick Scott".
"Big Data v. Big Cynicism"
Aaron Deslatte: "Florida is months from next year's election, triggering the hard legwork that comes with processing the expressed political will of millions of voters."
And there's still no word from Gov. Rick Scott's elections apparatus about when or whether the state will re-initiate a controversial attempt to use a federal immigrant-verification database to prune illegal voters from the rolls."Florida's illegal-voter review remains stuck in neutral".
Call it a case of Big Data v. Big Cynicism.
Although Secretary of State Ken Detzner staged a statewide roadshow this fall to showcase a reboot of the program — which was attempted in the midst of the 2012 elections and then abandoned — the details funneled to county election supervisors have been scant.
Critics of the effort — including groups such as the Advancement Project, League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union — blasted the 2012 effort over what they say was a blatant, 2000-style attempt to trim Democrats from the rolls.
But because the U.S. Supreme Court has whittled away at the Voting Rights Act, those organizations would have fewer legal options to challenge another voter purge.
The court ruling last summer is the main reason Florida has kick-started its review. Last year, the Division of Elections identified 182,000 potential noncitizens but ultimately whittled that to a list of 2,600. Even that list was flawed, with a World War II veteran accidentally flagged as a noncitizen.
Detzner has pledged the federal database access is a "game-changer" and will help state employees review each case individually and forward documentation on the findings to the counties.
But some aren't buying the effort as anything more than what they already do — and are insisting that they have access to the federal database themselves to verify the state's work.
Detzner has steadfastly refused to say when the effort will kick off.
Of RNC police and portalets
"The city of Tampa spent just more than half its $50 million federal security grant housing and feeding out-of-town law enforcement officers, renting portable toilets and leasing a protest area near the Forum during last year’s Republican National Convention, according to a city report issued Friday."
The weeklong gathering also cost the city nearly $677,000 in costs not covered by the federal grant — including $171,000 in lost revenue from closed parking garages, more than $63,000 spent maintaining streets and welding manholes shut, and $28,000 picking up trash downtown."Police, portalets used most of RNC grant".
Florida takes lead nationwide in adding (low paying) jobs
"Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in October — the lowest in more than five years — as the state added more jobs than any other in the country, officials said Friday." "Florida unemployment drops to 6.7% in October". See also "Florida's jobless rate drops to 6.7 percent" and "Florida jobless rate drops to 6.7 percent".
Where's Florida's "conservative 'bad girl'"?
"Here today. Gone tomorrow. Maybe to Nicaragua. Maybe not."
Ana Alliegro is again shrouded in mystery."It’s unclear if Alliegro, who surrendered her passport to authorities when she returned to the United States late last month, left with federal approval. Some sources indicate she departed without permission, but they can’t see how she could have entered a foreign country without her passport."
The self-styled conservative “bad girl” at the center of a federal criminal investigation into a former Miami congressman, Alliegro appeared to have left town and claimed on her Facebook page last week that she was in Granada, Nicaragua.
But no one’s sure
Her Facebook page makes it sound as if she’s much happier in Nicaragua."Where’s Ana Alliegro? Mystery woman might have disappeared — again.".
Florida wingnuts in a dither
"Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is strong among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, the poll shows." Poll: 82 percent favor medical marijuana, plurality support pot legalization.
Clinton-Crist Ticket in 2016?
"Hillary Clinton-Charlie Crist Ticket in 2016?".
Big of him
"The former-Republican-governor-turned-Democrat has an overwhelming lead on the former state senator in polls but Nan Rich created a lot of goodwill among liberal Democrats during her legislative career. A faction is committed to her and a North Florida party activist said a debate will be a good thing for Rich, Crist and the party. " "Crist open to debating Rich".
"Weekly Roundup: Don't Worry? No. But Be Happy? Maybe". See also "Week in Review for Nov. 22, 2013".
Rubio strides world stage
"In a possible preview of a 2016 presidential platform, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday broadly criticized the international record of President Barack Obama while outlining his own plan for more robust U.S. involvement overseas." "Rubio targets Obama's record in foreign-policy speech".
Will anti-flouride crowd dominate CD 13 GOP primary?
"If conventional wisdom applied here, Kathleen Peters and David Jolly would cast themselves in the most conservative light possible, disavowing gay marriage and embracing gun rights while portraying the other as centrist — even liberal — as they vied for the Republican nomination in the District 13 congressional race."
But that approach might not work so well with voters used to the more pragmatic approach of C.W. ”Bill” Young, who represented the district for 42 years until his death last month."Will conservatives sway the District 13 Republican primary?"
In this district, which includes most of Pinellas County from Dunedin south, excluding downtown and South St. Petersburg, the tea party’s 2011 ruckus over fluoride left a bad enough taste with voters that they ousted two of the incumbent Republicans that voted to remove it from the water supply.
It’s a district where Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike toured beaches and hotels in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill and openly criticized offshore oil drilling. It’s also a district where most of the county’s Republican county commissioners support revamping public transit and possibly building a light rail system linking Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Expect a "last-man-standing mud bath"
"A race for governor between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist will be a last-man-standing mud bath, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll . . . ." "Quinnipiac Poll forecasts nasty Scott-Crist campaign for governor".
Scott insider power struggle
"Amid a power struggle with Gov. Rick Scott’s new chief of staff, the pollster-architect of the Republican’s unexpected campaign victory in 2010 has taken a step back from day-to-day operations of his reelection campaign for next year."
Pollster Tony Fabrizio said in an email that he is still working for the governor, but he downplayed and declined to comment about what has become an open secret in Tallahassee — his clashes with Scott’s chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth."Rumors from the Republican Governors Association meeting in Arizona flew this week that Fabrizio was gone from the campaign, but he made clear he’s just taking on a different role: handling long-term strategic planning rather than day-to-day campaign-management and messaging activities."
Since he was appointed in the summer of 2012, Hollingsworth has tried to take over more political operations in the state capital and minimized Scott’s 2010 loyalists, Republicans say.
Replacing Fabrizio as his day-to-day overseer of tactics and message role: Curt Anderson of the firm OnMessage, which remains the lead ad firm on Scott’s team. Anderson and Fabrizio are close friends and worked hand-in-glove on the 2010 campaign."Fabrizio helped install Hollingsworth in his current role, but they soon clashed, sources say."
Fabrizio remains Scott’s pollster and his firm will continue to handle the campaign’s media buying. His firm has been paid at least $1 million by Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, and the Republican Party of Florida. . . .
News of the reshuffle in Scott’s campaign world troubled Republican consultants who have grown nervous about Scott’s unpopularity and polls showing Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat and former governor, could beat him by as many as 10 percentage points if the election were held today.
One early conflict arose after Hollingsworth unilaterally decided to advise Scott to sign into law a bill to increase campaign contribution limits by six-fold — to $3,000 per individual — which Fabrizio said ceded a significant advantage to Crist who is already a prolific fundraiser.And Fabrizio, apparently
Crist is on pace to raise more than $1 million since announcing this month his gubernatorial bid, though much of the money was donated to his political committee, which can take unlimited sums.
One Republican said Fabrizio told others that Scott’s decision to sign that bill "did more politically for Crist" than Crist’s mega-donor boss, trial lawyer John Morgan or the Florida Democratic Party could do.
questioned Hollingsworth for approving an alligator-hunting hunt fundraiser for the governor only to scuttle it amid bad publicity; and Fabrizio questioned why Scott was encouraged by Hollingsworth to not attend an education summit that the governor called."Amid power struggle with chief of staff, Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 victory architect takes a step back".
The final conflict came more recently when Hollingsworth pushed to have his longtime ally, Sen. John Thrasher, appointed as Scott’s new lieutenant governor. Fabrizio staunchly pushed for a Hispanic female.
Both lost, apparently.
Neither Thrasher nor a Hispanic female made the list.
"Bill Nelson for governor could endanger Charlie Crist"
Marc Caputo writes that "there are unmistakable doubts at the highest levels of the Democratic Party about Crist’s viability– a sign some Democrats are scared of Republicans despite all the talk of a strong party turnout machine. If Nelson does get in:"
• Nelson, a three-time statewide winner, becomes a little more-favored than Crist to beat Scott, according to lawmakers, pollsters and consultants of both parties. However, the last major poll by Quinnipiac University in June, showed each could beat Scott by exactly 10 points, and that Crist and Nelson had similar favorable ratings."There are scores of scenarios and conspiracy theories."
• In Scott, Nelson faces a candidate like no other, a $100 million attack juggernaut. Though unpopular, Scott has a far tougher team than anything faced by Nelson, who had relatively easy-meat opponents he bested in Democratic wave years. Though Crist’s flip-floppery is an inviting target for Scott, so is Nelson’s record as a career Washington politician who has voted to raise taxes and back Obamacare.
• Barack Obama has egg on his face. The president used Crist (and vice versa now) in his campaign and tapped him to speak at the national party convention. Top Florida Obama hands work for Crist, who officially became a Democrat at a White House Christmas reception.
• A safe Democratic U.S. Senate seat — worth untold millions in D.C. — is put at risk. If Nelson becomes governor, he appoints his successor. Expect the GOP-led Florida Legislature to consider changing that — especially because some Nelson donors want him to appoint his protégé: Weston Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee’s chairwoman, reviled by many Republicans.
• The Florida Democratic Party takes a step back. Lacking a bench, it had one clearly recognizable statewide figure — Nelson — until Crist joined its ranks. Now Nelson could undercut the politician who essentially increased the party’s number of high-profile Florida Democrats by 100 percent.
And the risks right now seem to outweigh the benefits for Democrats. Why go through the trouble?"Bill Nelson for governor could endanger Charlie Crist, U.S. Senate seat and Democrats.
Nelson, 71, had wanted to be governor for a long time. And perhaps he’s tired of being a member of a do-little Congress.
Crist put the best face on it all, saying he seeks Nelson’s counsel, respects him and speculates that, if the senator does have concerns "maybe he's just really worried about me. And that's pretty nice."
"A Closer Look at Who's Giving to Charlie Crist". See also "Crist holds first Tampa fundraiser Sunday"Meanwhile, "Candidate Crist: I'm not afraid Obamacare will hurt campaign".
Rubio grubs for wingnuts
"Rubio to anti-gay group: Nation's morality at risk".
Crist hitting the campaign trail hard
"Former Gov. Charlie Crist has been hitting the campaign trail hard lately, all while knocking Gov. Rick Scott’s record along the way. One of Crist’s harshest criticisms of Scott is on education -- the former governor attacked Scott for cutting education by $1.3 billion during his time in office." "Charlie Crist Hits a Nerve of Anti-Common Core Movement".
"A Florida congressman has been charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession in Washington." "Fla. Congressman charged with cocaine possession". See also "Tea party Rep. Trey Radel busted for cocaine in D.C.".
Wingers go after Dem CFO candidate
Nancy Smith is worried about William Rankin. She writes that, "If Democrats think William Rankin sounds too good to be true, he probably is."
Never mind the military service and swooning female fan club. From his questionable Florida residency to a wildly embellished resume, the slick, pretty boy from Cincinnati looking to unseat CFO Jeff Atwater just doesn't add up. "William Rankin: He's Allie Braswell All Over Again". See also "Democratic Candidate for Florida CFO Has Questionable Background".
"Call him Governor Congratulations."
For the last year, Gov. Rick Scott has asked for the names and addresses of lottery winners, Florida bar candidates, professional license applicants, recent college graduates and even agency staff so that he can pen them a personalized note or an “attaboy.”"Gov. Rick Scott’s courtesy notes double as campaign promotion".
Some get a hand-written recognition of a special achievement, a new family member, even a birthday wish. Most get a form letter of congratulations, studded with the talking points of the governor’s re-election campaign.
"It is my pleasure to congratulate you on winning a Florida Lottery prize!’’ Scott has written to 18,541 lottery winners since September. He then notes how Lottery proceeds go into education, how education helps create jobs and repeats his mantra: "I am focused on keeping Florida’s economy moving in the right direction."
It’s all a part of the governor’s attempt to turn the routine courtesies of the office into a public relations machine.
"No hesitation in taking shots at Ross"
"With 2014 looming, [Republican Congressman Dennis] Ross won’t have as easy a time as he did in the last election cycle. He faced no opposition in 2012. That isn’t the case this time out. Alan Cohn, a former television investigative reporter, is already running hard as a Democrat and has shown no hesitation in taking shots at Ross." "Dennis Ross Remains a Conservative Force in Washington".
"3 GOP candidates, Sink qualify to run for Young's House seat". See also "Qualifying begins in District 13 congressional race".
Putnam says no to MJ
"Putnam adds opposition to medical-marijuana amendment".
Scott politics using taxpayer-funded letters
"Gov. Rick Scott is known as the 'jobs' governor, but he's happy to take on another title: Florida's braggart-in-chief."
“Gosh, I think every Floridian ought to brag about our state,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Look, we live in a great state.”"Scott brags on record, faults Crist in taxpayer-funded letters".
Scott responded to a question about his sending out letters on official letterhead congratulating new lawyers on passing the Florida Bar.
The letters, dated Oct. 30, are similar in tone to those he sent to new business owners earlier this year.
He first takes a swipe at former Republican governor and now Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, whom Scott succeeded in office.
Scott's letter notes, without naming Crist, that he inherited a state that had “lost more than 832,000 jobs” while “state debt increased by $5.2 billion, our housing market had collapsed, our economy was off track, and our families were hurting.”
He then goes on to tout the state's job creation, decrease in unemployment, low taxes and efficient government under his administration.
The letter to business owners includes more personal touches, discussing his childhood growing up in public housing and his first job “… selling TV Guides door to door.”
In sum, the letters parrot many of Scott's talking points as he heads toward the 2014 election season.
Florida Forever has languished since 2009
"While funding for the Florida Forever land-buying program has languished since 2009, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program received a big boost in the 2013-14 state budget with an $11.5-million appropriation." "Putnam touts alternative to land-buying but environmentalists say purchases still needed". The Tampa Trib editors: "DEP should revamp surplus lands list".
"Common Core comments run from 'great' to 'commie brainwashing'".
A real yawner
"Gov. Rick Scott considering four names for lieutenant governor". See also "Scott taking it slow with lieutenant governor, insurance appointments".