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296 posts from September 2011

September 30, 2011

Committee formalizes Jan. 31 as Florida's primary date

Florida agreed to withstand party penalties and formally shook up the primary calendar Friday, officially setting Florida's presidential primary date for Jan. 31.

The 7-2 vote from the Presidential Preference Primary Committee  rejected a Democratic motion to set the date for Super Tuesday,  March 6, and accepted a plan to make Florida's primary on the last Tuesday in January. The committee is comprised of six Republicans and three Democrats.

"Florida has more voters than all of those states combined and has an incredible amount of diversity. It is a reflection of the national interest and Florida ought to be an early state,'' said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine.

Voting against the motion were Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, and Rep. Cynthia Stafford, a Democrat. Story here

Continue reading "Committee formalizes Jan. 31 as Florida's primary date" »

Live blogging of primary discussion here

Florida's legislatively-dominated presidential primary committee began discussion today on a plan to  formally shake up the primary calendar. On the table: the GOP plan to officially set Florida's primary calendar for Jan. 31.

Democrat and former Sen. Al Lawson moved to set Jan. 3 "I don't think that Florida needs to take a back seat to any state. We are a mega state,'' he said. He noted that other states are considering moving their dates and "I don't see where being fifth is any real position we ought to be in."

There was no second. Rep. Carlos Lopez Cantera replaced the motion with a plan to set it for Jan. 31 because, he said, other states have boxed us in. "It is the best date for the state of Florida,'' he said. "It would give us a place that our citizens deserve."

Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, moved to set the date to March 6 "to give delegates for each party an opportunity to participate." He said the Democratic Party continues to be penalized and they want a chance to participate.

Lopez Cantera countered: "The conventions have become nothing more than a coronation of the de facto nominee that has been determined by the states,'' he said. He noted that in 2008, Sen. John McCain's nomination was "a formality."

"Since our taxpayers are pyaing for this election, it's important for them to get as much bang for the buck as possible," he said.

Lopez Cantera noted that when Florida bucked the party and set its primary date for Jan. 31 in 2008, Republican voters participation soared from 19 percent to almost 50 percent.

Former Gov. Bob Martinez seconded the Lopez Cantera motion. "We're the biggest swing state in the nation,'' he said, noting that Florida has 10 more electoral votes than Ohio. "Florida is a closed primary state. Most states coming before us are either open or they are caucus...It will be the best indcator as to how well you will run as a Republican or a Democrat."

They agreed that it was undetermined how many party delegates would be lost as a result of the decision.

Rep. Cynthia Stafford, a Miami Democrat, said she agreed that we should set the date later to abide by party rules and seconded Siplin's motion to set the date as March 6.

Rep. Seth McKeel said that "tickets to the convention" should not "deter the voices of the people in our state." He said that waiting until March would mute the impact of Florida's voters.

Failing a second, Lawson withdrew his motion. Lopez-Cantera moved a stand-alone motion and Thrasher seconded it.

Lawson said he agreed "Florida needs to be a player" because of the financial impact the primary will have on the state of Florida. "It is more important for states such as Florida to not be on the back end but to be on the front end of these primaries," he said.

Sen. Rene Garcia said he believes we should respect the traditional early primary states but Florida "should take an active role in the presidential primary selection."

Stafford asked what happens if the delegates are needed and a race is close when it comes to the convention.

Lopez Cantera said the last brokered convention was 1952 for Democrats and 1948 for Republicans. "Today's modern convention, I believe...has become a formality and a coronation of a nominee that has been determined by the amount of coverage he gets in a 24-hour news cycle."

Florida judge calls prison outsourcing unconstitutional

A state judge on Friday declared unconstitutional the Legislature's decision to privatize 30 prisons in 18 counties, saying the action violated existing state laws.

Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford's decision -- which is likely to be appealed by the state -- brings to a halt, for now, a massive outsourcing venture and is a victory for the Police Benevolent Association, which filed suit to stop the privatization and save thousands of its members' jobs.

Read the developing story here.

Here's a copy of her decision: Download Pba.v.doc.fulford.

-- Steve Bousquet

In early primary angst, David Rivera plays the Rubio card

From Rep. David Rivera:

Dear Fellow State Republican Executive Committee (REC) Member:

 As the original House sponsor of the 2007 law that moved Florida’s presidential primary to fifth place in January 2008, I want to commend House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Governor Rick Scott for their vision and leadership in once again assuring Florida’s rightful place in the presidential nominating process.

 It is important to remind those who would question or criticize this early primary effort as to the original rationale for such a move.  Placing Florida’s presidential primary fifth – respecting the role of the traditional early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada – was included in then-Speaker Marco Rubio’s policy agenda, “100 Ideas for Florida’s Future”, precisely because of the growing national consensus that Florida has become a must-win proving ground for presidential candidates.  Simply put, Florida is undeniably the most important swing-state in the nation; and as such should play a relevant role in testing a prospective nominee’s viability for the November general election.

 To make the point as to why Florida should justifiably be placed fifth in the process once again in 2012 as in 2008, here are some indisputable facts:

Continue reading "In early primary angst, David Rivera plays the Rubio card" »

Survey USA: Romney on top in Fl, Cain in second. Perry a distant 3rd

Survey USA: In the Florida Republican Primary for President, Mitt Romney at 27% edges Herman Cain at 25%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for WFLA-TV Tampa. Rick Perry finishes 3rd with 13%, others further back. The Primary is tentatively, and controversially, scheduled for 4 months from today, on 01/31/12.

Romney is strong among older voters, women, moderates and in Southeast Florida. Cain is strong among men, younger voters, Tea Party members, affluent voters and in Northeast Florida. Perry is strong among those who say they are “very conservative,” among those who attend religious services regularly, among Evangelicals and in Northwest Florida.

Newt Gingrich at 6%, and Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, effectively tie for 4th place. Jon Huntsman, in 7th place, finishes ahead of Rick Santorum.

Interviews for this survey were conducted 09/24/11 through 09/27/11, in the days immediately after Cain won the Florida Straw Poll on 09/24/11, and in the week following televised debates in Tampa and Orlando. The results may reflect a genuine surge for Cain or may reflect the fact Cain was on the front page of every Florida newspaper on Sunday 09/25/11 and at the top of many Florida newscasts during the field period for the survey. More clear is that Romney emerges from the 2 Florida debates and the Florida Straw Poll with twice the support of Perry. Romney today has a Plus 36 favorability rating in Florida, 4 times greater than Perry, who has a Plus 8 favorability rating.

More here

Posted by Adam C. Smith


Florida GOP voters want the shining city on the hill, not just mud slinging

For three days last week Republican activists in Orlando heard an unrelenting stream of taunts, slams and jokes against President Barack Obama, a feast served by the candidates who want to replace him.

Raucous cheers followed. But some left Presidency 5 wondering if it was too much of a good thing.

“I don’t like the Obama-bashing,” said Judy Gordon, a Tampa retiree. “I can figure that out for myself. I want to hear what people are going to do. People want answers and they want solutions.”

The sentiment was driven home by Herman Cain’s shocking straw poll victory over front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Delegates said they were drawn to Cain’s “9-9-9” tax reform plan and his call to overhaul Social Security by using a model from Chile.

Most of all, people were drawn to his enthusiasm. While his rivals slung mud, Cain inspired with a booming voice and a preacher’s cadences, implicitly offering to lift people up in a down economy.

Full story here

Gallup: Americans favor GOP more than Dems on economy, terrorism, problem solving

Yesterday,Gallup told us that Democrats are less fired up to vote nationwide than Republicans (an enthusiasm gap we've written about before). Now comes more bad news for liberals: Americans are more likely to believe the GOP is better able to handle the economy, terrorism and whatever they believe the most important problem is.


Check it out: 


Miami-Dade becomes first school district to enact merit pay

In Gov. Rick Scott's draft legislative agenda, he includes an item that suggested he would support funding the merit pay plan for teachers. The governor's agenda is expected to get significantly whittled down, we hear, but will merit pay remain? Miami-Dade County is not waiting to find out. It has launched its own program. The Miami Herald story is here:

In their latest paychecks, thousands of Miami-Dade teachers got an extra bump based on their students’ or schools’ FCAT scores. Some 120 teachers are poised to receive even bigger bumps — $4,000 to $25,000 — for their students’ gains.

The bonuses mark Miami-Dade’s foray into performance pay, a controversial policy that is part of the Obama Administration’s education reform agenda.

As the first district in Florida to implement such a plan, Miami-Dade has a head start on what will become a state requirement in 2014.

As the nation’s fourth-largest school district, it is also trying to succeed where others have failed. Places like New York and Texas have scrapped or deeply slashed their merit-pay systems because of a lack of money or results — or both.

September 29, 2011

Republicans eyeing more debates for Florida before early primary

The early Jan. 31 presidential primary, expected to be finalized tomorrow, could mean another Republican debate in the state.

NBC and the St. Petersburg Times are in discussions to hold a debate in the Tampa Bay area and CNN is looking at a debate in Jacksonville. The GOP candidates have already debated in Tampa and Orlando, both earlier this month.

The CNN debate was described as "nearly finalized." It would be held between Jan. 25-29. Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Hughes said the talks accelerated after . "CNN obviously recognizes the importance of Florida," Hughes said.

Florida legislators backing away from hotly contested immigration reforms

Immigration 2011 Can Florida legislators turn their backs on immigration reform?

That is the question hovering over Republicans this week after Rick Perry’s performance in last week’s presidential debate and the results of the Florida straw poll, which show that being soft on the issue can imperil Republicans strapped to a primary.

Florida’s Tea Party activists say they will accept nothing short of requiring every employer to check the immigration status of their workers through the federal E-verify program in January when legislators convene in regular session. But armed with the support of Florida’s powerful agriculture and business groups, the same legislative leaders who last year promised Arizona-style immigration reform are now barely offering tentative support for it.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos said his chamber is ready to revive a Senate bill, which gives police additional enforcement power. But the watered-down measure does not include E-verify and is too weak for many in the Tea Party.

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