October 16, 2014

With nearly 700k ballots cast, memo says 'Rick Scott is winning' early-vote war. True


More than 683,000 absentee ballots were cast as of Thursday morning, and Republicans continue to hold a solid lead over Democrats in returns, 48-35 percent.

That's not huge news, in that Republicans typically overperform in absentee-ballot casting while Democrats do the same when it comes to early in-person voting. But Democrats have been expected to close the gap with Republicans in ballots cast. Instead, the margin has increased, to 13.7 percent.

"As Charlie Crist likes to say, facts are stubborn things. Here’s a particularly stubborn fact for Charlie: Election Day is already here – and Rick Scott is winning," Gov. Rick Scott's deputy campaign manager. Tim Saler, says in a fundraising memo to donors (the entire memo is below).

Yesterday, it looked as if Democrats were starting to really pull ahead in Hillsborough, remaining close in Miami-Dade. But now Republicans are widening the gap.

But after the 2012 elections, when President Obama was supposed to have left a solid campaign infrastructure behind, Democrat Charlie Crist should probably be doing better. This is a measure of voter interest in a campaign and a campaign's ground-game turnout operation. So far, Scott is winning on both counts.

Democrats can still pull even, either with an improved ballot chasing program or an early-vote operation. Early voting starts Monday. Here's a top 10 list of ballots cast by county and party:

 Ballots cast  Party County % of total
      34,779 REP PIN 43%
      30,503 REP LEE 55%
      29,510 DEM PIN 37%
      23,039 REP DAD 46%
      18,357 DEM DAD 37%
      16,418 REP HIL 42%
      15,650 DEM HIL 40%
      14,835 DEM ORA 43%
      13,873 REP ORA 40%
      13,369 DEM LEE 24%

Continue reading "With nearly 700k ballots cast, memo says 'Rick Scott is winning' early-vote war. True" »

Gov. Rick Scott has released his 2013 tax return; see it here

Gov. Rick Scott waited until the deadline Wednesday to file his 2013 income tax return, the final day allowed under law for anyone who received the six-month extention. The campaign has released it today. It his here. 

Charlie Crist broke rules by insisting on fans, debate organizers say

via @stevebousquet

The organizers of Wednesday's statewide TV debate between Gov. RIck Scott and Charlie Crist released a statement Thursday saying that Crist's insistence on having a portable electric fan was a violation of debate rules.

The statement from Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association reads in part:

"Both campaigns received a letter in advance from the debate organizers (FPA and LF) stating the format, logistics and other detailed information relating to the debate. The letter also specified that 'candidates may not bring electronic devices (including fans), visual aids or notes to the debate, but will be provided with a pad and pen.'

"The Scott campaign signed and returned the letter on Thursday, October 9. The Crist campaign signed and returned the letter on Monday, October 13, but with the added hand-written note '*with understanding that the debate hosts will address any temperature issues with a fan if necessary.' Dean Ridings, FPA President, received and reviewed the note and told the Crist campaign that the partners want all candidates to be comfortable, but that he expected that Bailey Hall, the newly renovated-facility at Broward College where the debate was to be held, would be maintained at a comfortable temperature, and if there was a temperature problem, the partners would deal with it appropriately."

The statement said the temperature at Bailey Hall at Broward College was 67 degrees at the time of the debate.

"Between 6 and 6:20 p.m., someone from the Crist campaign placed a fan under Charlie Crist’s podium, and they were again told that no fans would be permitted," the statement said. "Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association did not anticipate or plan for the possibility that a candidate would not honor the Debate rules. In retrospect, the Debate Partners should have been better prepared for this possibility. In addition, we regret that one candidate was allowed to take the stage and allowed to talk before the fan issue was resolved."

Pro-voucher group flexes political muscle


School voucher supporters said they would get involved in Florida statehouse races this year -- and they are deliving on that promise.

Some evidence: this new mailer from the Florida Federation for Children supporting state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami.

The education-themed mailer gives Fresen an A+ in three subjects: approving a record-high education budget, lowering college tuition costs and creating "more options" for parents (i.e. voucher programs and charter schools).

The Florida Federation for Children is a political communications organization that supports school choice. Its chairman is Tampa venture capitalist John Kirtley, who helped craft Florida's original voucher legislation in 2001. (Kirtley also chairs Step Up for Students, the non-profit organization that runs the state's largest voucher program.)

Continue reading "Pro-voucher group flexes political muscle" »

For Charlie Crist, the fan is a mainstay


The fan. It’s Charlie Crist’s security blanket.

The fan that created a nationwide uproar in Wednesday’s TV debate is never far from Crist.

The man with the tan doesn’t want people to see him sweating under the glare of hot TV lights. So Crist keeps a portable fan handy whenever he knows he’s going to be on camera.

He brought one to his first debate in the 2006 election for governor with Republican rival Tom Gallagher at a steamy hall in Poinciana in Polk County. When Gallagher threatened to walk out, organizers raced to provide him with a fan.

Crist kept a fan under the podium in the Capitol, just out of camera range, for all four years he was governor.

He requested one when he spoke to the Associated Press’ annual seminar for Florida reporters and editors in January.

He asked for one when he met with the editorial boards of the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

And he insisted on one under the lectern for his debate with Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday night at Bailey Hall at Broward College in Davie.

Crist adviser Dan Gelber said Scott threatened to boycott last Friday’s Telemundo debate in Miramar if Crist got a five-inch portable fan in the Miramar studio. Gelber said the network’s debate producer, Maria Barrios, agreed to the request.

The debate rules typically prohibit the use of “electronic devices” on stage to prohibit one candidate from gaining a tactical advantage through the use of a handheld device like an iPhone.

More here.

SkyRise Miami gets an assist in a pivot by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez


A batch of controversial economic-development susbidies being pushed by the administration of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez got a last-minute thumbs down from the mayor. On the eve of preliminary county-commission vote, Gimenez announced he no longer endorsed the subsidies for projects backed by former congresswoman Carrie Meek and other prominent Miamians. 

But Gimenez has a new batch of projects that have much large ambitions: SkyRise Miami, the 1,000-foot observation tower planned for downtown Miami, and Miami Wilds, a theme park 20th Century Fox wants to build on county land by Zoo Miami. 

SkyRise is a project by Jeff Berkowitz, a big donor in county-level races. He won city approval of SkyRise in a Miami referendum in August, and the slogan was "No Cost to the City." Now he's in line for $9 million in economic-development money funded by a special property tax.  The hope is SkyRise will become a major tourist attraction like the Space Needle in Seattle. 

Environmentalists oppose Miami Wilds -- it's in the same area as the land University of Miami sold to a developer planning a Walmart that's drawn fire. 

Read the full story here

October 15, 2014

Twitter world hurls unkind commentary on Florida for 'fangate'

It took only eight brief minutes for all the serious questions and answers poised by reporters at the second governor's debate in Florida were forgotten.

That's the time it took to begin the debate after Charlie Crist arrived on stage with a fan at his feet and Gov. Rick Scott remained off stage, in alleged protest. 

The Twitterverse went crazy and, for the next three hours, politics watchers across the country streamed commentary. Here are some excerpts:

Luke Russert, NBC capital news reporter:
"As somebody who uses a fan for occasional live shots, it's a HUGE psychological advantage. Nothing worse than sweating under TV lights"
Jake Tapper, CNN reporter and host of the next Florida governor's debate:
"Seriously, who among us ISN'T a fan of Florida politics? cbsloc.al/1vxnUEy"

Christian Camara, conservative Republican operative: 

"Whoever made the call to not let @ScottforFlorida on stage over such a triviality should be fired. Tonight. I've held my tongue long enough."
Jorge Sedano, ESPN radio:

Continue reading "Twitter world hurls unkind commentary on Florida for 'fangate'" »

Fact-checking the second Crist vs. Scott debate

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist fought over who was the biggest fan of the truth Wednesday night, at the second debate of the governor’s race.

At the onset of the Oct. 15 debate, we thought we might not have anything to fact-check except whether the debate rules allowed candidates to have fans at their podium. Republican Gov. Scott initially didn’t take the stage at Broward College in Davie because challenger former Gov. Crist had a small podium fan. Florida’s political junkies know that Crist is famous for insisting on a fan at all his public events.

Scott eventually gave in and joined Crist on stage, where they attacked each others’ records as governor on a wide swath of issues -- jobs, education, the environment and more. They also recycled many of their favorite talking points from the campaign trail.

Throughout, Scott and Crist both said the other was playing fast and loose with the facts. So we’re here to fact-check some of the key claims they made during the debate and point you to fact-checks from our archives on similar topics.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our complete story.

Crist's claim about Jeb Bush and Duke Energy

While Fangate was the talk of Wednesday’s gubernatorial debate, there were other moments, too -- like when Charlie Crist slammed the door on Gov. Rick Scott’s accusations that Crist was the one who let utility companies charge customers for unbuilt power plants.

"Charlie signed legislation that allowed companies like Duke (Energy) to pass on costs for power plants that were never built," Scott said during a discussion of energy policy.

Crist cut his Republican opponent off immediately.

"That’s not true. That was Jeb Bush," he said to applause from the crowd in Davie.

This claim has come up before, when the Republican Party of Florida ran a campaign commercial that said Crist "made it easier for Duke to take your money." We rated that False.

What Crist said at the debate is accurate. Turn to Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

Scott's Mostly False claim about teacher layoffs under Crist

Republican Gov. Rick Scott is a fan of attacking former Gov. Charlie Crist’s record on jobs.

At an Oct. 15 debate between the candidates -- the second debate of the campaign -- Scott repeatedly said 832,000 Florida jobs were lost during Crist’s term. (We’ve previously rated that claim Half True.)

Crist swatted away Scott’s critique, arguing that the recession was to blame for those job losses. He said he took federal stimulus money that "helped us make sure we didn’t have to fire 20,000 school teachers." (We’ve rated that claimMostly True.)

Scott retorted by saying Crist was responsible for killing thousands of teacher jobs as he focused his attention on other career opportunities.

"He spent all his time trying to be vice president and then running against Marco Rubio for the Senate," Scott said. "3,000 teachers lost their jobs when Charlie was governor."

When Scott used the same statistic in a June ad, we rated it Mostly False. Here, we will review the evidence on whether 3,000 teachers were laid off under Crist and, if so, whether he was to blame. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of our report.