November 07, 2014

Tampa Bay region liked Libertarian Wyllie the most

Florida's Libertarian streak appears to run right through the heart of Tampa Bay.

Voters from Tierra Verde to Wesley Chapel must love their craft beers, because Libertarian candidate for governor Adrian Wyllie performed better in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties than elsewhere.

Wyllie got 3.75 percent of the statewide vote, according to unofficial returns that will change slightly after the counting of provisional and overseas ballots. That's less than what most polls projected he would receive, but Wyllie did better in Tampa Bay, where he ran a TV ad.

The Palm Harbor resident, who made a statewide tour of craft breweries, got 5.6 percent in Pinellas and 4.8 percent in Hillsborough. Pasco, the home of Wyllie's running mate Greg Roe, gave Wyllie 7 percent of the vote, his high-water mark. Those three counties account for 22 percent of all Wyllie votes statewide (Pinellas and Hillsborough also have the most Libertarian Party voters).

The Wyllie boomlet continued up the Nature Coast. He got 6 percent in Hernando and 6.5 percent in Citrus before fading to 3.74 percent in Levy, almost identical to his statewide share of the vote.

Compare those numbers to Wyllie's dismal South Florida showings: Miami-Dade, 1.4 percent; Broward, 1.9 percent; Palm Beach, 2.2 percent.

Breaking down the media-market wins of Rick Scott and Charlie Crist


Whenever a statewide political race is decided by a percentage point or so, it can be argued that every little thing played a major role in a campaign's win or loss.

And so it is with Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist, who lost to the Republican by 1.1 percentage points, or 65,838 votes. In 2010, Scott beat Democrat Alex Sink by 1.2 percentage points, or 61,550. So Scott's overall margin in raw votes increased by just 4,288 while the number of ballots cast increased by 581,974. 

Yes, it was a tight race. Money played a big part. Money doesn't buy an election. But it puts a downpayment on it. And Scott not only outmuscled Crist in media message, the governor vastly improved his numbers in North Florida.

In the three North Florida media markets Scott won, he improved his 2010 margin by almost 90,000 and and in the two he lost, Scott also improved his margin by nearly 20,000.

Crist improved on Sink's margins in the two Southeast Florida media markets by 96,000. But, consider how Scott fared in North Florida, it wasn't enough.

Here's our first day-after story on the race and the graphic that went with it, breaking down the media markets.

Fixed Graphic for Marc

Don Peebles joins the list of executives seeking Miami-Dade grant dollars


[updaetd 10:24 a.m. Nov. 8 with statement from Peebles.]


Add Don Peebles to the still-growing list of prominent business executives pursuing economic-grant dollars funded by Miami-Dade property taxes.

The application for $6 million from Peebles and partners is slated to be heard Thursday, one week after another batch of grant proposals divided county commissioners. Peebles and company want the money for Overtown Gateway, a 30-story tower of hotels rooms, residential units and retail in one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods. 

Peebles, who splits his time between New York and Coral Gables, developed the luxury Bath Club high-rise in Miami Beach.

But the former chairman of Miami-Dade's tourism bureau is probably best known in South Florida for relaunching South Beach's Royal Palm hotel in a subsidized redevelopment deal with Miami Beach.  Like the subsidies for the adjoining Loews hotel, the Royal Palm arrangement was designed to create large blocks of room for conventioneers. Peebles and Miami Beach frequently feuded over the Royal Palm deal.

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November 06, 2014

Bipartisan coalition to push for ban against anti-gay and LGBT discrimination in the workplace

Looking ahead to the 2015 legislative session, Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce has hired a team of bipartisan political operatives to push for a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

President Obama's top 2012 Florida strategist, Ashley Walker, will be campaign manager of the coalition. She'll be joined by longtime Republican lobbyist TowsonFraser, who was communications director for former House Speaker Allan Bense; Ann Herberger, a Miami-based Republican fundraiser and an advisor to former Gov. Jeb Bush; and Christina Johnson, a Tallahassee public relations executive who worked with the Republican Party of Florida and the Republican National Committee.

Johnson said she's not aware of any new legislation banning anti-gay and gender discrimination being filed yet for the 2015 session.

A bill to eliminate sexual orientation and gender identity, supported by Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, failed to pass the 2014 legislature.

The House version was sponsored by Rep. Holly Merrill Raschein, a Key Largo Republican, and Rep. Joe Saunders, an openly gay Democrat from Orlando, who was defeated on Election Day. A Senate version of the measure was sponsored by Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington.

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Florida's exit polls (from CNN)

Interested in a deeper dive who voted in Florida during this year's election. CNN has an online graphic based on exit polls from voters on Tuesday.

Click here for the CNN graphics 


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.