July 15, 2013

Movers & Shakers

Ferre appointed to Metropolitan Planning Organization in Miami-Dade

 Former Miami Mayor Maurice  Ferre, a Democrat who supported Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial race after losing his own bid for the U.S. Senate, has been appointed by the governor to the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Miami-Dade County.

Ferré, 78, succeeds Maritza Gutierrez.

Miami attorney named Bondi's associate deputy for legal policy

Nilda R. Pedrosa has been appointed by Attorney General Pam Bondi to serve as associate deputy attorney general for legal policy, based in Miami. Pedrosa’s previous positions include chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart; a senior policy advisor to former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez; and assistant dean at Florida International University College of Law. Attorney Pedrosa is a Miami native and graduate of FIU and New England Law.

New appointments to Children’s Trust board in Miami-Dade 

Scott made three appointments to the Children's Trust governing board in Miami-Dade County.

Marissa Leichter, 36, of Surfside, the senior program attorney with the Guardian Ad Litem Program, succeeds Benjamin F. Gilbert Jr.

Trudy Novicki, 62, of Miami, the executive director of Krisiti House, Inc., succeeds Pamela Lillard.

Kadie Black, 30, of Miami, the external affairs director for Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., succeeds Jose Gregoire.

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October 28, 2012

With 1.6m Floridians having voted, Dems cut GOP absentee vote-lead in half in 1st early vote day

In just 12 hours of in-person early voting Saturday, Florida Democrats swamped the polls so heavily that they ran up a more than 39,000-vote margin over Republicans out of the nearly 300,000 votes that were cast at polling stations.

The Democratic vote was so big that it cut a Republican lead, built up during a month's worth of absentee-ballot voting, by about 60 percent. As of Saturday morning, Republicans were ahead of Democrats by nearly 66,000 absentee ballots cast, or 5 percentage points.

Factor in the day's worth of Democratic early voting, and that GOP lead is now just above 26,300, or 1.6 points. Add in Duval, whenever those numbers come in, and the GOP lead should be even smaller.

Here are the absentee and early vote ballots combined:

Party   Total votes      Total %         REP edge
REP     684,744 43%           26,310
DEM     658,434 41%
IND     262,516 16%
Total  1,605,694

 The early vote numbers:

Party    EV votes       EV%   DEM EV edge
DEM     145,470 49% 39,522
REP     105,948 35%  
IND       47,219 16%  
TOTAL     298,637    

 The absentee vote numbers:

Party AB votes      AB%     REP AB edge
REP     578,796 44%           65,832
DEM     512,964 39%  
IND     215,297 16%  
Total  1,307,057    

In the Democrats' favor: the eight days of early voting continues today. And It's the only Sunday of early voting, when African-Americans prefer to head to the polls after church for their "Souls to the Polls" rallies. The Legislature, in shortening the Democrat-heavy early voting days, eliminated the Sunday-before-Election Day early voting.

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October 12, 2012

Sens. Garcia, Dockery and Jones speak up against GOP decision on merit retention

Two outgoing Republican senators and one returning member joined a growing chorus of prominent Floridians Friday and signed a joint statement opposing the Republican Party of Florida's executive board decision to oppose the merit retention of Supreme Court Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.

"The Justices who are up for merit retention on the November ballot have served ably and honestly in their roles as Supreme Court Justices,'' wrote Sens. Rene Garcia of Miami, Paula Dockery of Lakeland and Dennis Jones of Semnole, in a joint letter. Dockery and Jones are retiring because of term limits this fall. Garcia was elected withouth opposition.

They urged the party "to reconsider this unprecedented insertion of politics into what has been a system that has served Florida and her citizens well."

Here's their letter:

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September 26, 2012

Q poll: Another day another poll showing Nelson up, Gov. Scott struggling

Here are the numbers in Florida from today's Quinnipiac/New York Times poll on the U.S. Senate race: Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson leads U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, the Republican challenger, 53 – 39 percent.

Florida voters continue their disapproval of the job Gov. Rick Scott is doing: 48 – 38 percent. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio gets a 47 – 27 percent favorability while former Gov. Charlie Crist gets a split 40 – 40 percent favorability.

“If Gov. Charlie Crist is contemplating a political comeback, he is neither in great or terrible shape. Overall voters are split on whether they view him favorably or unfavorably,” said pollster Peter Brown.

September 20, 2012

Mack announces week-long 'Freedom' bus tour

Republican Connie Mack announced Thursday he will launch a week-long "Freedom Tour" in which he takes a bide-your-time trip through the rural reaches of the state, in old-fashioned retail style.

The tour kicks off Saturday in Gainesville, in time for some tailgating at the UF v. Kentucky kickoff at noon. It continues to Tallahassee that night, where he'll make it to tailgating parties for FSU's rivalry with Clemson, which starts at 8 p.m.

The bus will continue through North and Central Florida most of the week, where polls show Mack performs strongest against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. It ends in Pensacola on Thursday.

Here's the schedule:

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August 30, 2012

Chris Christie tells the party faithful to focus on 'big things'

PALM HARBOR _ Maybe the spicy chorizo sausage woke up Florida's delegates, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie brought them to their feet Thursday morning as he delighted the crowd with his comical story-telling and blunt-talking admonitions.

“I don’t think our convention needs to be about making the case for Barack Obama. The case has been made against Barack Obama,” he said. Republicans must persuade voters they are '"the party of big ideas," and can-do leaders, he said, and counter the people who have become cynical and say "it doesn’t matter who you vote for, they’re all the same.’’

Christie repeated many of the themes of his Prime Time convention speech from Tuesday night and urged the party faithful to "do the big things," "tell the truth" and communicate a broad message.

That message, he said, should not sugar coat. "We can’t any longer just whistle a happy tune to folks because the public is a lot smarter than the politicians give them credit for.”

He listed the GOP state leaders who have made a difference, Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Susana Martinez of New Mexico. (Notably absent from his list was Gov. Rick Scott of Florida.)

By contrast, he said, Obama doesn't know how to lead and instead comes across "like a guys walking around in a dark room searching for the light switch of leadership."

He drew peels of laughter from the crowd when he described how Mitt and Ann Romney came to visit on short notice last October, in search of Christie's endorsement. The couple scrambled to clean the house and "have the talk" with their four kids. When the Romney's arrived, their middle child, 12-year-old Patrick, greeted them on roller blades, practically careening into Mitt while their 9-year-old daughter, Bridget, competed for attention by showing off her gymnastics in the year.

Romney engaged the kids, spoke to them with sincerity and won Christie over with his heart. "He's characterized so unfairly as a CEO, reserved, a person who doesn't show his heart,'' he said. "My kids were drawn to him and if I had any doubt in my mind who I was going to endorse after his interaction with my two children I had no doubt left."

"The one thing you can’t get on a resume is what’s in here,’’ he said, patting his heart.

The crowd loved it and, as Christie left, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had to pause the morning program as people rushed to the stage to shake Christie's hand and get a photo. "The Boss is in the house," Putnam joked. "But he has to leave to get to the South Carolina delegation,'' he said, referring to New Jersey's other famous son, Bruce Springsteen.

Christie's remarks were preceded by speeches from U.S. Rep. Allan West, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and followed by Republican Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and Newt Gingrich.

July 19, 2012

Obama returns to Jax with refrain that middle class is 'at risk like never before'

Four years after running against the teetering economy, President Barack Obama returned to Jacksonville Thursday, the same place he used to draw a stark contrast to John McCain in 2008 who memorably told a Jacksonville audience after the fall of Lehman Brothers that “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.”

This time, Obama deflected criticism of a national economy still staggering under his watch and told a much smaller crowd that Wall Street’s “culture of anything goes” prompting the nation's record debt are the factors that continue to threaten the future of the middle class. 

“We are here today because we recognize that this basic bargain, this essence of who we are …is at risk like never before,’’ he said. “What’s standing in our way is not technical solutions…what’s standing in our way is our politics.’’ 

In his 27-minute speech, delayed by an hour because of bad weather, he appealed to the cheering crowd to work for him, saying the opposition "will spend more money than we’ve ever seen in our lifetime on ads that same the same thing:...the economy is not where it should be and it’s all Obama’s fault."

He called the tactic a "plan to win an election but they can’t hide the fact that's not a plan to create jobs. That’s not a plan to revive the economy."

He revived his familiar criticism of Romney’s plan for a “25 percent tax cut for every millionaire in the country” by gutting job training, and college aid, rolling back health care reform and “forcing more than 2,000 Floridians to pay more for their prescription drugs.” 

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November 16, 2011

Report: Poor disclosure laws inhibit tracking of cash into Fla politics

A new report by the National Institute for Money in State Politics finds that, surprise, campaign spending in Florida is increasingly allowing both large donors and candidates to circumvent the state's campaign finance limits but, "poor disclosure laws inhibit analysis of the impact this spending had on the outcome of elections."

From the report:

"Between 2006 and 2010, $96.8 million of independent spending was reported in Florida, with just under half spent during the 2010 election. In each election, independent spending reached 25 to 30 percent of the amount contributed directly to candidates and ballot measure campaigns. While not showing much growth in relative terms, the total amount of independent spending grew substantially in absolute terms between 2006 ($31.5 million) and 2010 ($48.2 million). This increase, however, is not due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, which did not affect Florida’s campaign finance laws."

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October 06, 2011

Atwater to Ash Williams: Where is your inspector general?

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is the latest Cabinet official to vent about a senator's $10,000 invoice for requested records from the State Board of Administration, but his beef with SBA executive director Ash Williams goes beyond the steep bill.

Atwater said he is "frustrated" by Williams' failure to appoint a new inspector general, a watchdog position designed to root out waste and misconduct by state officials -- everything from insider trading to abuse of taxpayer money.

"I have repeatedly asked you to fill this position over the past few months, as have members of my staff, and I am frustrated by the lack of response," Atwater wrote to Williams on Wednesday.

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September 23, 2011

Marco Rubio votes to block House stopgap bill

Here's an update on that Congress vote to fund the federal government in the short-term -- including disaster relief for FEMA:

The Republican-controlled House passed a tweaked measure in the wee hours Friday, after failing to pass a bill on Wednesday. But Friday morning, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the House's measure, and GOP senators blocked Democrats from bringing up an alternate proposal.

That means lawmakers will be returning to Washington next week -- even though they had originally planned to be in their home districts working -- to try to resolve the problem before FEMA runs out of money and before the government is forced to shut down. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was one of seven Republicans to vote with Democrats to kill the House measure in the Senate Friday -- though for different ideological reasons. Rubio had been one of 10 GOP senators to vote to fund FEMA last week.

In a statement, Rubio explained his vote Friday saying the level of spending proposed to fund the government in the short term is too high.

Read the statement after the jump.

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