The strange politics of rail continue in Florida. Now, it's SunRail, the Central Florida commuter line approved in late 2009 by the Legislature. Current Senate President Mike Haridopolos voted for the project then. He's now a U.S. Senate candidate and has decided to raise fresh concerns about the project in a letter that puts Gov. Rick Scott on the spot.
Some tea party folks hate SunRail, and want Scott to block the project, just as he did with a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. The difference between the two projects: SunRail puts Florida taxpayers far more directly on the hook than high-speed rail.
But House Speaker Dean Cannon and the Central Florida power structure want SunRail desperately. And Scott's decision to cancel the project would be a political bombshell. So, in a perfect tea-party world, Scott would cancel it. But this isn't a perfect tea party world.
That's especially true for Haridopolos' former chief of staff, Steve MacNamara. As Haridopolos top exec, he would have approved the letter that highlights Scott's tough position. The letter was delivered yesterday. Today is MacNamara's first day on the job -- working as Scott's chief of staff. So now he has to explain to his new boss why he helped usher in this spot of controversy that the governor's office has to deal with.
Then there's Cannon. He has endorsed Haridopolos, but on the last day of session he put the Senate President through the ringer. Now, as Haridopolos moves a little to the right on the rail issue and takes the mantle of fiscal watchdog from Scott, he can enjoy a little incidental gigging of his counterpart in the Legislature. That's likely not Haridopolos' motivation, but it's a bit of a political-paybacks plus.
Here's the letter Download Sunrail_eog: