November 06, 2014

Which side spent more on the midterms?

Rare was the recent commercial break not dominated by negative TV ads this cycle, a nasty byproduct of record piles of money thrown at competitive races across the country.

The money poured in from candidates, parties, super PACs and "dark money" groups that don’t have to report their donors, and also individual donors like you (though your influence is waning, sorry).

On the eve of Election Day, MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough and guest economist Jeffrey Sachs argued about whether the left or the right had more dough in what Sachs called the "billionaire’s election."

Most of the money will be well-disguised, with huge sums coming from private oil and gas companies, Sachs said, singling out millions of dollars in contributions from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Scarborough was not having this argument.

"Jeff, you just can't say that," Scarborough said. "You can look at the numbers, and the left and the right are both equal. It’s like the arms race between the Soviets and the Americans. It’s equal. You can say ‘big oil’ all you want to, that’s just not factually accurate."

Sachs replied that the Koch brothers alone have probably put $300 million into the election. Scarborough said, "You always talk about oil and gas when in fact there are environmentalists on the left that are putting in millions and millions," a reference to liberal super PAC donor Tom Steyer.

"Add up all the money, right now, it’s about equal on both sides," Scarborough said.

Turn to Katie Sanders' fact-check from PunditFact to find out if Scarborough was correct.

Cuban-American lawyers: 'Troubling' that Miami-Dade judge said she defeated 'nondescript Hispanic'


The Cuban American Bar Association is not happy with Miami-Dade County Judge Jacqueline Schwartz.

When Schwartz won reelection Tuesday over lawyer Frank Bocanegra, she issued a statement saying voters had "gone past the days when any nondescript Hispanic could go on the ballot and defeat any Anglo sitting judge."

Campaign strategists have long believed that candidates with Spanish surnames have an advantage in Miami-Dade, particularly in judicial elections where campaigning is limited.

In a letter sent to her on Wednesday, the Cuban American Bar Association said "the statement is incompatible with your duties as a judge and with the dignity of judicial office."

Her "troubling" words suggest that "some or all of your Hispanic colleagues on the bench achieved their positions by virtue of a 'nondescript Hispanic name' and not because of their hard work, professionalism and other qualifications," CABA President Ricardo Martinez-Cid wrote.

The veteran judge's campaign was marked by another poor choice of words. Before the August primary, a Coconut Grove store clerk complained that the judge said "Go and f--- yourself" in a row over an opponent's campaign sign.

Bob Levy, the campaign manager who released the statement, declined to comment on CABA's letter. 

"The judge herself is back on the bench doing what the people of Miami-Dade County re-elected her to do," he wrote in an e-mail.

And she is assigned to the courthouse in Hialeah -- one of the most overwhelmingly Hispanic cities in Miami-Dade.


Broward Dem chair tries to point to some wins

After Florida Democrats took a beating on election day, Broward Democratic chairman Mitch Ceasar posted a message on Facebook trying to find some silver linings.

“The Crist Campaign had informed me that they needed a Broward margin of approximately 175 thousand votes. Broward delivered 176 thousand. This is a substantial increase over 2010,” he wrote. "That was accomplished even through many of our senior super voters have been lost over the last four years. We spent advertising dollars in the minority community."

Broward voted for Democrat Charlie Crist but the 44 percent turnout lagged behind the statewide average, helping Republican Gov. Rick Scott keep his seat.

The solid base of senior Democratic voters has been waning for years so the challenge for Broward Democrats in 2016 will be to find ways to reach an increasingly diverse electorate. It's possible that 2014 will be Broward's last countywide election with a white voter majority: whites account for about 51 percent of Broward's voters while blacks equal 23 percent and Hispanics 18 percent.

Ceasar tried to dig up some victories, including that the Coral Springs city commission is now a Democratic majority. City commissions are generally non-partisan, but city officials help their party build a bench for more high-profile offices.

“Additionally our north end folks ensured a return of Congresswomen Lois Frankel and State Senator Maria Sachs,” Ceasar wrote.

If by “north end” he means, well, Palm Beach County then he is correct for the state senate seat. Sachs won because of Democratic votes in Palm Beach while Bogdanoff won the smaller Broward portion of the district.

Frankel, of West Palm Beach, had only token opposition in a safe Democratic seat.


More Herald post-election analysis on Florida, national politics via video

The Herald offers some more post-election analysis - florida and nationall -- via video ...

November 05, 2014

Judges keeps same-sex marriage ban in Florida until Jan. 5


Same sex couples in Florida will have to wait until next year to wed in the state after U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle on Wednesday ruled he would keep his stay in place until Jan. 5.

(That day also happens to be the day the state's top opponents to lifting the ban, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott, are inaugurated to their second terms.)

“We are disappointed that the day in which all Florida families are treated with fairness and dignity under the law is not happening sooner, but that day is still coming,” said Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the ACLU of Florida, which originally filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of eight same-sex couples and LGBT-rights group SAVE.

Hinkle ruled in August that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and stayed his ruling. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed his decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Last month, the ACLU of Florida asked Hinkle to lift his stay after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not hear federal appeals of similar gay-marriage victories in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana. More here. 


After 'shellacking,' Democrats say they will 'retool'

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant stated the obvious: "We took a shellacking." But she said the party will pick up the pieces from Tuesday's drubbing and keep working to restore a semblance of a two-party system in Florida.

"We're going to retool and move forward," she said.

Tant said the "national headwind" was a big problem in Year Six of the Obama presidency, along with the Republicans' lopsided advantage in the product that dominated the race for governor: money to buy TV ads. From the Democratic leader's point of view, the election looks like this: Gov. Rick Scott had the advantages of incumbency, vastly more money and wrote his campaign $12.8 million worth of checks -- and still barely won, at last count, by slightly less than 66,000 votes.

"I'm mystified," Tant said, by another disappointing Democratic turnout in South Florida, where this time fewer Democrats showed up in Miami-Dade, despite what she called an "unprecedented" grass-roots vote-building effort for an off-year mid-term election.

"Clearly we have to do things better," Tant said. She vowed that Democrats will continue to hold Republicans accountable while speaking up for middle-class families in Florida on issues such as education, health care and the minimum wage.

FL-26 changes political party hands again

@PatriciaMazzei @cveiga

South Florida’s 26th congressional district lived up to its label as a swing seat Tuesday, changing political party hands for the second time in two years.

Florida lawmakers redrew the boundaries of the state’s southernmost district in 2012 so that it’s almost evenly split among registered Democrats (35 percent), Republicans (33 percent) and independents (32 percent).

Low turnout in Tuesday’s election, particularly among Democrats, benefited Carlos Curbelo, the Republican who ousted Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami. Garcia spent only one term in office, having defeated Republican David Rivera in 2012.

Granted, Garcia was tainted by campaign scandals. So was Rivera. But the back-to-back victories by opposing parties in the district suggest it could remain competitive for years to come.

On Wednesday, Curbelo said he’s not worried that the frequent turnover, depending on the composition of the electorate in a given election, could affect his future chances.

“If I work hard and do a good job for this district, and I represent the community with effectiveness, I think I’ll get another shot at it,” Curbelo said. “It is certainly too early to start thinking about the next election.”

More here.

Nine reasons why Sheldon didn't come close to beating Pam Bondi

Although his campaign had raised nearly $1 million and his opponent, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi got some last-minute bad publicity, Democratic George Sheldon managed to get only 42 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election.

That’s just one percent more than the two Democrats running for the other two Cabinet posts, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Agriculture, and they raised a combined $80,000 between them.

So, what happened?

Continue reading "Nine reasons why Sheldon didn't come close to beating Pam Bondi" »

NextGen Florida director: the fight against climate change in FL is just beginning

NextGen Florida spent $19.8 million in Florida between Aug. 7 and Oct. 22 this year with the influsion of cash coming from California billionaire and former hedge fund investor Tom Steyer. Their goals: to defeat Gov. Rick Scott,  raise awareness about climate change and bring young people to the polls. They failed on the first, succeeded on the second, and the report card on the third goal appears to be mixed.

Here's the campaign wrap-up by Florida  Director Jackie Lee:

Continue reading "NextGen Florida director: the fight against climate change in FL is just beginning" »

Crist reflects on losing to Scott in governor's race

In his victory speech to supporters Tuesday night, Gov. Rick Scott described his defeated rival Charlie Crist as "very gracious."

On Wednesday, Crist added some details to that brief phone call, including a push to expand the Medicaid program in Florida.

Crist said he told Scott: "I just want to wish you well even though we had our differences" -- which, considering the tone of both candidates' TV ads, is probably the greatest understatemtnt of the campaign. The conversation turned to Scott's view that the campaign was over and it was time to move the state forward, and Crist said he told Scott: "Medicaid expansion might be an area where you can bring Florida back together." As Crist recalled it, Scott told him: "'I'll look at that.'"

Crist's loss by 70,000 votes out of 6 million cast was almost by the identical margin that Democrat Alex Sink lost to Scott four years ago. It also was Crist's third statewide defeat, which proved to be a political death knell for several other big-name Florida politicians such as Bill McCollum, Tom Gallagher, Bill Gunter and Jack Eckerd.

Crist was not ready to say he's leaving the political stage. "I care about Florida and I love my family," Crist said. "I want to remain active in a way that will help the quality of life in Florida. That's enough for me." He said he and his wife Carole will escape to Useppa Island near Fort Myers for a few days of relaxation.

"I've got to recharge my batteries," Crist said. "I left it all on the field."