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239 posts from June 2011

June 26, 2011

Miami-Dade hopefuls wind down campaigns

With the end of the grueling campaign for Miami-Dade mayor in sight, Julio Robaina and Carlos Gimenez traversed the county on Saturday, trying to outrun the rain and seeking the last-minute support of voters casting their ballots early.

Gimenez started the day in Aventura and worked his way south to West Kendall, stopping in Hialeah and East Kendall along the way. Robaina began in West Dade, journeyed to Homestead and trekked north to Little Haiti.

For the two candidates, getting this close to Tuesday’s runoff election was a sprint that felt like a marathon, each day an interminable course of breakfasts with campaign workers, phone calls to financial backers and question-and-answer sessions with groups of homeowners.

As early voting wrapped up on Saturday, the rivals reflected on the whirlwind campaign it has been. Full story here.

June 25, 2011

Huckabee 'stunned' at Gov. Rick Scott's poll numbers

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee used his FOX News show tonight to lament Gov. Rick Scott's poor poll numbers and all but put the blame on the "idiot" newspapers.

"You're doing a lot of things people had hoped you would do, and yet (your) approval rating recently has not been steller," Huckabee said. "And I'm stunned as to why."

Huckabee pointed to the the state's declining unemployment (never has a 10.6 percent jobless rate sounded so good) as proof that Scott "had already done what you promised you going to do." Huckabee asked if his problems were the Legislature and the press, but Scott didn't take the bait.

"When you make tough decisions, some people don't like it," Scott said.

Apparently no one told Huckabee that Scott doesn't read Florida news, because the former presidential candidate stayed on point, showing these unpleasant newspaper headlines:

Sun-Sentinel: Is Rick Scott the country's worst governor?
Miami New Times: Will any GOP 2012 candidate even want Rick Scott's endorsement?
St. Petersburg Times: The job-killing governor

It's unclear if even Huckabee read any of the articles. Two of the three (the Sun-Sentinel and Times) are editorials and the third is a blog that teases to the conservative DailyCaller.com, which quotes GOP strategist Rick Wilson saying former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be more important endorsements than the governor of the country's biggest swing state.

"What is it about the newspapers and the press there that just seems to want to ignore the obvious of the positive successes that Florida is experiencing?" Huckabee asked Scott.

When Scott turned the question back to his own message about competing for jobs, Huckabee predicted that Scott's endorsement will be a prize for GOP presidential contenders.

"Can I tell you that every one of them are going to want it and they would be proud to have it and anyone else who thinks otherwise is simply an idiot," Huckabee said. "And I'll say that about the newspaper who had the audacity to put that headline in there."

Gov. Scott quietly signs abortion bills, vetoes public records exemption

Women must be given the chance to watch an ultrasound before receiving an abortion under a bill (HB 1127) signed into law on Friday by Gov. Rick Scott.

It was one of 14 bills Scott signed late Friday. Others included a second abortion-related bill (HB 1247) that tightens restrictions on parental notification when a minor seeks to end a pregnancy and another (HB 7185) that eliminates profit taxes for about half of Florida businesses.

While those actions were expected, Scott also vetoed a bill (HB 913) that created a new public record exemption for public airports. The action earned him praise from the Times editorial board in today's print edition. The bill had passed 38-1 in the Senate and 92-24 in the House.

June 24, 2011

One last debate in Miami-Dade mayor's race

It took three months to get there, but Miami-Dade mayoral candidates Carlos Gimenez and Julio Robaina on Friday hit on one of their strongest policy differences yet — over employee benefits for domestic partners.

In the last debate of the campaign, Robaina said he would likely support any move by county commissioners to repeal benefits currently offered by the county, which allows its unmarried employees to buy health insurance for their partners, and for the couples to visit each other in jail and in the hospital.

Gimenez said he would veto an effort to strike down those benefits.

The clear-cut disagreement was striking because it came just five days before Tuesday’s runoff election, after weeks of campaigning and a slew of forums and debates that had covered a gamut of county issues.

On Friday, the Christian Family Coalition endorsed Robaina — prompting WFOR-CBS 4 investigative reporter Jim DeFede, who moderated Friday’s half-hour-long debate, to ask the domestic-partnerships question.

County commissioners signed off on the benefits for unmarried couples three years ago, though not without opposition from the dais and from outside groups, including a coalition of religious leaders. Full story here.

Carlos Gimenez campaigns for 'bicycle vote'

Carlos Gimenez showed up unexpectedly Friday evening to the monthly critical mass bike ride that meets outside Miami-Dade County Hall.

Gimenez, dressed in a polo shirt and slacks, shook hands and posed for photos as he mingled through the crowd of hundreds of young hipster-types preparing to mount their bicycles. The bike ride takes place the last Friday of every month.

A former county commissioner considered an advocate for cycling, Gimenez told a Miami Herald in jest that he expects to get 90 percent of the "bicycle vote."


Updated: The Buzz: Barney Bishop is on his way out as AIF as head

No one on the elusive board of Associated Industries of Florida is talking, but word on the street from Tampa to Tallahassee is that Barney Bishop has been asked to resign his position as president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida.

Bishop, who was paid $403,137 by AIF in 2009 according to the organization's tax documents,  has not returned mutliple calls for comment. 

He butted heads with the AIF board at the end of the 2011 legislative session after a news conference in which he called for replacement of the entire board of state-run Citizens Property Insurance. Questioned about the statement, Bishop said: "If they're not doing the right things, which is trying to make Citizens smaller and trying to get the rates where they need to be, then those people need to be replaced because they're exacerbating the problem that we have right now."

The next day, the AIF board issued this statement:  "AIF does not allege that any Citizens board members have acted inappropriately or in violation of their responsibilities to Citizens or the people of Florida and will not be pursuing future action in that vein. Any misstatements or suggestions to the contrary were inadvertent and not intended to improperly accuse or impugn the board members and staff of Citizens who work diligently and serve graciously in tackling the challenges that Florida’s current insurance environment presents them."

Update: AIF chair Erika Alba released this statement after The Buzz posted the above item on Bishop: "The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) board of directors did meet today; however, it is a long-standing policy of our association to not discuss board matters. Contrary to some reports, Barney Bishop remains President and CEO of AIF." 

Yes, but for how long?

Adam Hasner's tea-party poll pitch

U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner is literally banking on a Miami Herald story concerning the political dangers of campaigning as tea-party candidate. (Story here). Hasner just sent out this fundraiser email that invokes the "C" word:

"There they go again...remember the geniuses who said Marco Rubio couldn't beat Charlie Crist, and that the best way to beat the Democrats was to be more like them?

As The Miami Herald reported this week, those same GOP "consultants" are now warning that the Tea Party poses a "danger" to the Republican Party. Nonsense. Help me fight back against this type of thinking by supporting our conservative effort today.

It's as easy as 1-2-3...."


PPPoll: Obama's FL numbers not so good -- but better than Repubs

From Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats and liberals:

You can talk about the economy and unemployment and Afghanistan all you want but Barack Obama has one huge asset when it comes to his reelection bid: the Republican Party. And nowhere is that clearer than in the vital state of Florida where voters are split pretty much right down the middle on the President, but nevertheless leaning toward reelecting him at this point.

48% of voters in the Sunshine State approve of the job Obama's doing to 49% who disapprove. Republicans are more unified in their disapproval of him (87%) than Democrats are in their approval (81%) and independents split against him by a 48/49 margin identical to his overall numbers.

Despite Obama's tepid approval numbers he still has at least a 4 point lead against all of his top potential challengers. It's 47-43 over Mitt Romney, an 8 point advantage over Tim Pawlenty at 48-40, a 9 point edge against Michele Bachmann at 49-40, an 11 point spread against Herman Cain at 48-37, and a 12 point blowout over Sarah Palin at 52-40.

Analysis here: Download PPP_Release_FL_624925

Docs want judge to stop enforcment of gag order over guns

Florida doctors today asked a judge to stop enforcement of the law that prevents them from asking patients about guns in their homes even before he decides whether the law is unconstitutional.

The Brady Center Against Gun Violence filed a lawsuit on June 6 on behalf of three physician groups against Gov. Rick Scott and the secretary of state alleging that the law violates their First Amendment right to free speech and endangers patients safety. Today, the doctors filed an injunction to block enforcement of the law.

Here's the release:

Continue reading "Docs want judge to stop enforcment of gag order over guns" »

Luther Campbell calls for support for 'Robaino'

Luther Campbell, the former Miami-Dade mayoral candidate and ex-frontman of hip-hop group 2 Live Crew, sent a message to his friends in cell phone text messages and via Twitter on Friday urging them to vote for the man Campbell has endorsed in Tuesday's runoff: Julio Robaina.

Spelling "Robaina," however, may not be Campbell's strong suit.

Here's the message: "Voting Robaino for good reasons he's the only on that cares about black people. You have to care about all people to be the Mayor."

(Gimenez, for the record, has repeatedly said he wants to be the mayor for all of Miami-Dade County.)