February 02, 2008

Another Victory for Traditional Marriage

I have to be honest, when I heard that due to a reporting error tens of thousands of petitions in support of the Florida Marriage Amendment left the measure over 21,000 petitions short of the required 611,000 with less than two weeks before the deadline, I wasn't positive the amendment would be on our ballot.  I am so glad I was wrong. 

All the required signatures are in and he State Division of Elections has certified the Amendment for inclusion on the November 2008 ballot.  Now the real work begins.

January 30, 2008

Amendment 1 Aftermath

The Property Tax Amendment decisively made it through the voting yesterday.  We've had a bit of a debate here at PEER about what the effect will be.  Many worried that this would squelch any chance of getting any further tax relief any time soon.  I was thrilled to hear quotes from both Crist and Marco Rubio before the end of the night saying that this is just the beginning and we've got to continue to push to drive down tax rates.  Rubio is apparently already suggesting plans for the next step.

Folks, don't worry, this issue is not going away.  The only thing we need be concerned with are the democrats who are already saying that we've gotten enough tax relief.

Let's move onto the next stage of this battle.

Florida Primary Aftermath

Last night, for the first time, I was glad that only half of Florida's delegates will count.  With McCain's win he picks up not just 57 delegates, but he also now has the momentum required to win the Republican primary. 

I will try not to dwell too much on Romney's loss, but there was much screaming at the Mr. G house last night.

So where does this leave us?  There are a few things we learned on the Republican side last night:

1.  McCain can win without appealing to Conservatives.  The conventional political wisdom for a while has been that Republicans don't have to run Conservative candidates because Conservatives if pitted with the choice of voting for a non-conservative Republican vs. a democrat will normally pick the Republican.  This political strategy hasn't been put into practice often because Conservatives energize the party and make the race that much easier.  But for whatever reason, whether it is because some Conservatives are believe McCain is the most electable or because Romney and Huckabee are splitting votes, or that Conservatives just aren't energize, McCain is showing that he can get along just fine without really targeting Conservatives.

This is a pretty significant shift in Republican politics.  If McCain is able to win because of his broad appeal, it will set the standard for Republican candidates to come.  I've heard many argue that McCain is a good candidate because he will set the stage for a Conservative candidate, but I don't see that happening.  Once the party begins to go down the road towards solidifying in the middle it is going to be a tough task to get back to the right.

2.  The only chance for a Conservative to beat McCain is for Huckabee to drop out.  With Giuliani's impending endorsement of McCain, Huckabee and Romney can no longer afford to split votes.  As last night's results showed, Romney has a much broader base than Huckabee and is in a better position to win.  Huckabee has been sold as the strong pro-life and pro-family candidate.  Folks have joined him because of belief in those causes.  But it is now time for Huckabee to put those causes before his campaign.  The longer Huckabee stays in the race, the less chance a Conservative has of winning the primary.  It is time for Huckabee to take one for the team and do what is best for the causes we believe in; drop out and endorse Romney.  An exit by Huckabee after Super Tuesday may be too late.

I will also say that watching the post results speeches that Romney looked more presidential and was more inspiring and energizing in defeat than McCain in victory.



January 28, 2008

Crist Endorses McCain, America Yawns

So Charlie Crist and Mel Martinez have jumped on board with McCain.  Neither of these come as any real shock, though I'm a little disappointed.  Unlike many of my fellow bloggers and the media however, I do not expect this will have any huge effect on the Florida primary.  While both of these men are skilled politicians, I don't see them as wielding a huge amount of public influence.  With Crist, in fact, I would argue just the opposite, public opinion and polls likely have more effect on him than the other way around. 

Let me ask you this, knowing what you know about Charlie Crist, if Giuliani had remained the front funner, do you think he would still be endorsing McCain?  I digress...

As for Mel Martinez, his approval ratings will tell you how much support will come with his endorsement... not much... and this is coming from someone who approves of Martinez.

Both of these guys have performed well in their respective roles and I respect both of them for it, but let's be honest the person is few and far between who is going to be tipped in one direction or the other by a politician's endorsement unless that politician has a devoted following.  Folks like Daniel Webster may garner that kind of following, but I don't see that with either Crist or Martinez.  A Jeb endorsement would have carried some weight, though he's probably angling for a VP spot.

Yes, yes, I know, Crist has ridiculously high approval ratings, but let's be honest, the reason for this is that he has managed to to completely tick anyone off yet.  Thats what makes him a great politician, but its that same mushy middle position that will prevent his endorsement from carrying much weight.

The media and bloggers are making this into a much bigger issue than it really is.  Perhaps if the endorsement had come a month ago and Crist went stomping around Florida stumping for McCain he could have swayed some folks for McCain with some passionate speeches, but a mere endorsement won't cut it.

If John McCain pulls off the victory it will be because of John McCain, not because of Charlie Crist.

But all of this is a moot point because all of you Republicans out there are going to vote for Mitt Romney... right?   Right?

January 25, 2008

Mr. G's Thoughts on the Republican Debate in Florida

I managed to catch the midnight rerun of the Republican debate in Florida on MSNBC last night.  Allow me to give you might thoughts on the performances and even a little on the status of the campaigns.  Start with the best performance of the night and move down.

1.  Mitt Romney

Even right out of the gate I thought Romney gave a dominating performance.  The commentators last night, and many in the papers today are attributing this to the fact that the candidates didn't go after each other like the democrats have been doing.  We can speculate, but it doesn't really matter.  The fact is that Romney, as has become his style, looked presidential, sounded presidential and had all the right answers.

But hey, I'm biased.

Regardless of who you believe "won" the debate, there must at least be a consensus that Romney had the line of the night when asked by Tim Russert whether he is ready to face a campaign against both Hillary and Bill Clinton stating that he "can't imagine Bill Clinton in the White House again with nothing to do..."

Romney, in my mind really established himself as the guy to beat once again, in not just Florida, but the national race as well.

Romney really got put on the spot by Russert when he was asked is he would share with Florida how much of his own money he has spent on his campaign here.  Romney explained that he wouldn't for strategy reasons as he didn't want to reveal that to his opponents just yet but would when the law requires.  I think that was a fair answer.  But then he really hit it out of the park by explaining that:
1.  He has raised more money than any of his opponents,
2.  He couldn't ask his others to donate to his campaign if he was not willing to make a substantial contribution himself, and
3.  The fact that he is his own biggest contributor means that when elected he won't owe anyone anything.

Well said.

2.  Mike Huckabee

Huckabee really gave a fantastic performance.  He was certainly the most likable of all the candidates.  He also managed to stay relevant in the debate which is important for a guy that is going to have a hard time remaining relevant in the upcoming primaries.  A few things he said concerned me though.  Huckabee really pushed the idea of the Fair Tax, which I'm not opposed to, but he made it seem like that was the end all solution to all our financial woes.  I'm sure that is not what he believes, but lets look at an example.

Huckabee was asked about problems with social security.  His solution?  The Fair Tax.  Why? because that would allow a more stable source of funding for the program.  That is not what I want to hear from a Conservative candidate.  The answer is, social security is broken and we need to find ways to begin moving away from it and replacing it with a financially stable system.  Romney was hit with a similar question right after Huckabee and responded with three viable solutions.  He also explained that these options would have to be explored with the democrats to reach an agreement on the best solution.  Romney sounded realistic.  I don't want to say Huckabee is dreaming because I think the Fair Tax is certainly a possibility, though it may be a good distance off.  Romney has solutions for us now.

Another thing that concerned me was when Huckabee was asked about whether he agreed with Chuck Norris, who endorsed him, that John McCain is too old to be president.  Huckabee responded that he was with Norris when the comment was made and that he didn't say anything because he was standing next to Chuck Norris who "can put this foot on that side of my face and there is nothing I can do about it."  He went on to explain that later he made clear that he doesn't think that McCain lacks the capacity to be president.

It was a cute answer, but the fact of the matter is that Huckabee stayed silent after the comment was made not because he was afraid of getting kicked in the face.  I realize that it was one of those in the moment experiences and he may have said something if he could go back.  However, it bothers me a little that the guy that is most vocal about other candidates changing with the polls stays silent when the comment is made, but then reveals this strong conviction about it mostly likely after a strategy meeting on how to handle it.  I'm probably making something out of nothing, but something just didn't sit right with me.

I like Huckabee, but he didn't do anything to resolve my fears about his domestic policy positions.

3.  Ron Paul
Confession: I love making Ron Paul out to be the crazy of the group, but I have to admit he is a sharp guy.  Not all of his ideas are that bad.  I thought his performance last was the best I've seen so far from him.  But his question to McCain about whether he would abolish the President's Working Group on Financial Markets confused me.  Most Americans don't know or care about the PWG and Paul wastes his one chance to really distinguish himself on trying to pin McCain to a position that no one cares about.  Paul is playing to a fringe audience in this primary, and that is why he will remain a fringe candidate. 

4.  John McCain
McCain looked comfortable, as well he should given his current poll numbers. I was a little confused by his presentation however, as he kept claiming that he is a Conservative but every chance he got he touted when he broke away from Republicans and Conservatives.  Let me assure you, McCain is no Conservative.  That said, he didn't do anything to really hurt himself last night, sat back a little, and tried to demonstrate that he's not as old as he may appear to be.  Exactly what the old guy in the lead needs to be doing.

If nothing else, the fact that the New York Times just endorsed McCain proves that McCain is no Conservative. 

5.  Rudy Giuliani
As the guy who is betting everything on Florida, Giuliani needed to have his best performance.  Instead, he looked like a man on the run.  His campaign is watching this focus on Florida strategy fail miserably as he has absolutely no momentum.  My guess is that this will be the last time we see this strategy employed.  Giuliani made the comment during the debate that he had lulled the competition into a false sense of security, which was cute. But the fact is that he doesn't decide the result of the election.  We do.  And  it is the voters have been lulled into the impression that his campaign in about to collapse.

After the race, Giuliani's campaign manager was asked about the dropping poll numbers and he responded that people are most concerned about the "issues" that the "horse race."  It is not that simple.  Voters are concerned with both.  The truth is that front-runners are attractive because people don't want to feel like they are throwing their vote away.  I was at dinner with an Evangelical family last night who asked who I though they should vote for.  They like Huckabee, but wanted to vote for someone who was electable as well to help the cause of the best candidate with the best chance.  For the Huckabee supporters out there, I didn't tell them that a vote for Huckabee was a wasted vote.  I did sell them on Romney, however...

Giuliani looked like Giuliani last night.  Great guy, great leader, but nothing to pull himself out in front of the other candidates.

January 22, 2008

Thompson Exit May Define Florida Primary

Word on the street is that after reading here at PEER Review that his candidacy was all but over, Fred Thompson saw the writing on the wall and dropped out of the race for the Presidency today.  This will have some rather strong effects on the race nationally, but particularly in Florida.

Thompson's campaign has, in my opinion, been the defining campaign of the race.  Virtually drafted by Conservative's unhappy with the then standing options, many anticipated that Thompson would bring an energy and boldness that would excited the Republican base.  Unfortunately, that energy never really came.  When Conservatives observed that Thompson was not necessarily going to be a candidate they could get excited about, they began looking elsewhere... enter the Huckabee surge.

At first glance, it may not appear that Thompson's exit will have any huge effect on the race in Florida; he has been polling at about 8% over the last few weeks.  But that 8% could make a huge difference when there is only a combined difference of 4% between Giuliani, McCain and Romney.

The logical landing point for Thompson supporters are with the other two Conservatives in the race, Romney and Huckabee; but there are two caveats.

(1) Since Thompson entered the race long after Romney, Thompson supporters have inherently decided that there was something they didn't like about Romney.  Many will be hesitant to go back to a candidate they weren't happy with in the first place.  As a result, many will likely lean towards Huckabee.  However (2), Huckabee's strong stance on domestic issues such as the economy was a tremendous selling point.  It is here that Huckabee has, as of yet, succeeded in completely winning over Conservatives.  Add to that the fact that Huckabee is far behind the other three top candidates in campaigning in Florida and you have Romney picking up some votes. 

The key here is that Romney needs less votes than Huckabee.  With Huckabee polling at about 16% and Romney at 19.3% a split with less than half of Thompson's support going to Romney keeps Romney in the lead over Huckabee and may hand the Florida primary as a whole to Romney on a silver platter.  Especially with the hint of a Romney surge that we see in the latest Rasmussen Poll showing Romney at 25% in Florida followed by Giuliani at 20%.

All in all, Thompson's exit may (and if I had to guess, will) give Romney the push he needs to win Florida and give him the momentum required to succeed beyond Florida.  Thompson's exit will also be great for Huckabee, but likely won't be enough to solidify Florida, or any other state.

Now, this could all totally change, of course, if Thompson pulls a Sam Brownback and endorses his fellow Senator, John McCain.  I anticipate that a Thompson endorsement of Romney or Huckabee will have the impact as no Thompson endorsement at all, at least in Florida.

January 21, 2008

Mr. G Says Vote "Yes" on Amendment 1

In the upcoming primaries Floridians will be asked to not only select a candidate for the Presidential election, they will also be asked if they want to lower property taxes through Amendment 1 which, among other things, allows for the portability of accrued tax benefits from home to home.  I encourage you to take the time to study the finer points of the Amendment (as with most thing from the legislature on both the state and national level, it is complicated).  I also encourage you to vote in favor of it.

Understand that this falls far short of the tax reform which Florida desperately needs.  Our tax system which relies so heavily on property taxes is bound to be unstable and will be subject to constant change.  We need an overhaul.  As I've suggested for some time, a sales tax would be far more equitable and easy to manage, but I digress.  In the meantime while we are waiting for said tax reform, Amendment 1 puts more money back in the pockets of Floridians and that is a good thing.

As a rule of thumb I will always support tax cuts and government spending cuts.  I've not seen anything to indicate that if we pass the Amendment that counties, as the left is claiming, won't be able to provide police officers, firefighters and teachers. 

This isn't the solution we need, but in the meantime there is no sense in not voting for an amendment that will save Floridians their hard earned money.

Mr. G says Vote Yes on 1.

November 14, 2007

Why the Sales Tax Idea Won't Go Away

When the Florida House of Representatives Sales Tax idea failed to make it out of the Legislature alive most of us promptly put the concept of axing property taxes out of mind.  I mentioned at toward the end of the discussion on the issue that this was not something that was going to disappear and we would be talking about again as a viable option. 

With news like this, it may be sooner than even I expected:

Report:  Orlando foreclosure filings up 184%

The Orlando Business Journal explains that even with this tremendous increase Orlando is still only 28th out of the top 100 areas as far as foreclosures.  Ft. Lauderdale came in at 4th, and Miami at 8th.

The legislature will only be able to tinker with band-aid solutions to the mortal economic wound which Florida's property tax scheme presents.  As the unstable real estate market continues to crush Florida families we must pursue options to provide relief, while allowing for the collection of a taxes at a fair rate.  I continue to propose that a statewide sales tax rather than our current property tax provides such a solution and if news like this continues to hit the papers, expect that I won't be the only one calling the legislature back to the table to discuss the idea.

October 04, 2007

This is why democrats scare me...

On a casual stroll through the Florida blogosphere I found this gem over at the Florida Progressive Coalition:

Earth to Florida:  You Need an Income Tax

Unreal.  Absolutely unreal.

Oh, and if you're making over $100k per year, the author suggests a 9% tax on you.  From there it goes up to 15% if you make $300k per year.  Just tack that extra amount on top of your federal taxes.  And don't fuss at me about it, mister, because having Florida adopt an income tax is "not debatable."

In fairness, the author is suggesting that this replace the property tax system, so you've at least got that going for you.  However, I'd take our defunct property tax set up over an income tax any day.  Oh, the proposed income tax would also "fund high quality socialized early education for all two, three and four year olds, class size reductions and parent training courses for all high school students and all other imminent parents."

I'm speechless...

At least we can be thankful that this guy is not Governor, as he states that, "If I were Governor, I’d go all out to enact an income tax and this week I’d be proposing a budget that increases state spending by a billion dollars, not slashing it one billion."

Where do these people come from?

At first I just wrote this off as one of the many far left moonbats out there peddling half-brained tax hikes and massive government spending increases.  But then I remembered that we're not just hearing proposals like this from the liberal fringes.  In fact, we have a democrat presidential candidates, including the front runner, pushing and promising programs which will result in massive increases in government spending.  How do we pay for it?  Massive tax hikes!

Despite the fact that it has been this way for as long as I can remember, I'm still confounded by the way democrats on all levels consistently demonstrate a complete lack of restraint in taking and spending my money.

July 24, 2007

Fred Thompson picks one of Florida's best

One of Florida's best political strategist Randy Enright is chosen by the Thompson's campaign to manage the campaign. I suspect fund raising has been good as of late.

July 20, 2007

Some thoughts on the Florida Goracle's Green orders

My friends, details are sketchy. They (meaning the Governors office and staff) have no idea how this will impact Florida's economy. This whole venture is a power grab pure and simple.

Yesterday, I briefly read through some of the orders. It's shocking. I first summarize some of what the orders do, then offer an opinion as to it's impact.

Yesterday's executive order seeks to reduce reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state with target dates of 2017 (10years), 2025 and 2050. To accomplish this DEP is directed to develop rules for maximum emissions levels for electric utilities in Florida and to adopt California emissions standards.
   - Higher monthly electricity, higher price at the pump and higher purchase price with less options on new cars. Will likely lead to inspections compliant registrations and retrofitting all cars on the road to meet new standards.

DCA is directed to revise the Florida Energy Code for Building construction, and to implement rulemaking authority with the Florida Energy Conservation Standards to increase by 15% the energy efficiency of consumer products.
    - Higher costs for new home and business construction directly impacted through increased material costs, inspection and licensing fees. Higher costs mean higher prices which will mean higher insurance premiums too.

Requires
the PSC (with it's newest member Nancy Argenziano) to develop rules by September of this year requiring utilities to obtain at least 20% of their electricity from so called renewable sources (think wind farms and solar panel farms), reduce the cost of connecting renewable sources to the power grid and allow customers to generate their own electricity.
     - Direct and immediate impact on residential utility bills as price for construction and implementation of plan will be shared by all customers. These things don't happen for free you know! The likelihood that more than a couple percent of all residential units in Florida can afford the material necessary and the construction cost required in to install the necessary electricity generating equipment is nearly zero. I ask you, how many retirees will be retrofitting their homes with solar panels and windmills.?

Directs all state agencies to reduce emissions 10% in five years, 25% in ten years and 40% in 18 years,requiring fiscal analysis and impact tracking using a "Florida Governmental Carbon Scorecard";directs all governors agencies to assess current energy usage and "quantify" greenhouse gas emissions;requires DMS to adopt US Green Building Councils Leadership (USGBCLEED) in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction standards for all new building, to implement the USGBCLEED plan for existing buildings currently owned and operated by the state, and prohibit governors agencies from entering any new contracts unless the space meets the USGBCLEED standards, to develop energy conservation measures and guidelines for new and existing office space, requires implementation of a "model solar project"; starting Jan 1 2008 agencies can not contract a meeting or conference space at hotels without a "green lodging" certification; requires every state agency to immediately assess transportation related energy uses and emissions which must be posted on the "FL Governmental Carbon Scorecard" by Oct 1, 2007; DMA may only approve vehicles with the greatest fuel efficiency (expect for law enforcement); all state agencies must use ethanol or biodiesel when available as determined by DMS who will assess demand by metro area, and agencies must procure biodiesel if needed
    - Wow. Breathtaking. More licensing, inspection, red tape. Construction of a state run "model solar project" and a new "green lodging" certification? Who's going to pay for all this? When possible, hotels will pass this additional cost on to visitor in the form of a green fee, but what about this use of ethanol, biodiesel and vehicles with only the greatest fuel efficiency? It's well noted ethanol is not only less efficient than oil based gas, but actually produces more harmful chemicals than gasoline, and can corrode engines from the inside out, destroy rubber seals and gaskets, clog fuel injectors and void some warranties if the mixture is too high. Besides, who's going to pay for this new line item for fuel purchase, replacing all state cars with more expensive and higher maintenance cost ethanol based vehicles. We don't know the answer to that question for any new policy change, because it hasn't been considered. Staff are working on that as we speak. Will the governor allow them to come to honest conclusions?

Creates the "Florida Governor's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change" which will develop a plan including policy recommendations and changes to existing law to successfully implement the aforementioned goals and changes; some of these recommendations must be issued by Nov of this year and the remainder by Oct of next year.
    - Think of this as the Governors private farm team onto which he will appoint what he hopes will be his next crop of agency heads and political hanger-ons eager to please and pull the GOP toward the "moderate" middle. This is the first step (a huge leap?) in dismantling Jeb's political infrastructure
.


This isn't merely a "call to action" as some have portrayed. This produces some of the largest increases of administrative growth ever implemented in Florida, creations of new regulatory measures, and directives to assess and implement state operations immediately. These things cost money, take time, and clog up the system with more red tape. Explain to me how that's remotely conservative or Republican?

July 13, 2007

Florida's newest environmentalist is a GOP!

Unlike the leader that many in the media are portraying Gov. Crist to be, I'm starting to think of him as more of a Goracle. His ego fattens as his gumption grows with every new poll that confirms it's hard to dislike a Governor that get's out of the way. Crist was elected on assurances of "Jeb like" leadership, strong conservative fiscal policies and discipline, with promises of maintaining low taxes and opposition to tax increases, opposition to invasive regulatory policies and action, opposition to red tape and growth of bureaucracy. His actions today are in direct contradiction to those positions. There was nothing conservative, nothing Republican, nothing even remotely helpful about today's initiatives.

Press coverage of his environmental plans has been summarized to a few talking points - reduction of gas emissions, energy goals, new standards - but the scope and details of the executive order he signed is truly breathtaking, and thus far ignored or glossed over by the bleeding heart liberals who are cheering him on.

All conservatives, but especially the House and Senate leadership who will be dealing with Cristened benchmarks for the next ten years, should take pause to consider the appropriate reaction, and the appropriate tone in which it should be done. This is not a time for meek response and repercussions. Crist has laid down the gauntlet and if someone does not rise to accept it, then power will be perceived to have swung back to the Governors mansion. Today's actions show what a dangerous turn of events that would be for the state of Florida.

Today, Florida conservatives met Gov. Hyde. For a man who should be leading our economy and state in a responsible manner these sweeping, unexpected and unplanned changes to our budget, economy and culture should be rebuked swiftly. They are at once irresponsible and reprehensible. I should think that conservatives and responsible Republican politicians would expect slower, moderate and compromised movement.

His actions today, if fully implemented, will undoubtedly undermine the short term foundations of Florida's economy, and ratchet up by exponential amounts state spending... with no clear revenue source. If fully implemented, it's not overly gloomy to predict continued reductions in revenue and tourism, coupled with increased mandatory state spending and no line item as of yet for some of these dictates. The money has to come from somewhere, and the responsibility will fall to the Legislature to move cautiously, not to commit dwindling state resources to unproven (and sometimes disproved) claims of wild exaggeration.

Why would a state facing insurance crisis take actions that will only serve to drive up the cost of coverage? Why would a state that depends on tourism take an action that ensures the price of a nights stay in a Florida hotel will increase? Why would a state that prides itself in personal responsibility, low taxes and few invasive policies take such a breathtaking step towards doing away with all three? Governor Crist, Florida is not California, and for good reason. This is a big mistake. Every conservative elected Representative and Senator should consider it as such and respond appropriately.

My Forecast - monumental tax increases and a slowing economy, which will only get worse, are on the horizon. Stormy regulatory seas and unprecedented power grab opportunities at agency levels across the entire state will allow Gov. Crist and his new environmental regulation into your homes, your cars, your businesses and your checkbook. The only way he could have done more damage would have been to invite ELF - whose dictates include "to inflict maximum economic damage... " - for the weekend with a get out of jail free card.

How will the new environmental standards impact Florida, state agencies, business and industries? I plan to have more tomorrow.

June 25, 2007

Florida Marriage Amendment

The 2008 election cycle promises to be nothing short of electric in Florida.  With the presidential election as well as, as of last week, a vote on a Florida constitutional amendment to give even more tax relief the political machine will be firing on all cylinders.  Add to that yet another vote which promises to be one of, if not the most hotly contested issue; the Florida Marriage Amendment. 

The amendment needs only 21,000 more signatures before February 1, 2008 and it will be on the November 2008 ballot.  Easy.

Anticipating the battle to come, the opposition is already gearing up and Equality Florida is calling on bloggers to enter the fray.  As is typical of the enemies of traditional marriage, even this initial call to arms ignores the truth in an effort to paint a picture of a nation moving towards the warm embrace of same sex marriage.  This is, of course, does not accurately reflect reality.

For regulars here at PEER Review, much of this will be a review.  We've covered this topic in detail, but Florida's liberals obviously need a refresher course.

Continue reading "Florida Marriage Amendment" »

June 13, 2007

Florida democrats Voicing Opposition to Property Tax Reform, Lower Foreclosure Rates and Voter Involvement

Democrats in the Florida legislature now seem poised to fight the property tax reform measures proposed by Republicans.  In all likelihood this is nothing more than political posturing since democrats know that Republicans have put all their eggs in one basket on this issue.  Prediction: the reform measures pass.

In the meantime, let's take a moment to examine the position the democrats have put themselves in with their opposition.

First, a report released yesterday shows that for the month of May, Florida has one of the top ten highest foreclosure rates in the country.  Miami is in the list of top ten cities.  Reducing property taxes can only help those facing foreclosure as it will reduce housing payments.  Democrats are opposed.

Second, one of the larger concerns democrats have is with the second half of the tax cut plan which requires an amendment to the Florida Constitution.  It would cut about 16 billion in property taxes.  democrats say it is too much and that the people of Florida don't want it.  Remember that this amendment will require a vote in November 2008.  So if you are opposed, vote against it.  Perhaps the democrats are be right.  Maybe the people are opposed, but the Republicans are advancing a way to find out.  I suspect that the democrats are dead wrong on this one and the amendment will have a good chance of passing.  There is only one way to find out; let the people vote.

I don't suggest that state-wide votes are the solution to every issue.  However, it does seem silly that democrats are parading about with their rhetoric about the will of the people when the Republicans have proposed a measure to allow voters to voice their will.

June 11, 2007

The Tax Cut Man Cometh

Florida House and Senate leadership unveiled today the property tax cut plan which they've been able to agree upon.  The plan includes $15.6 million in statutory tax cuts that will apply this year and an additional 16 million in tax cuts which will be the subject of a January referendum.  The broad strokes of the plan are detailed by a release from House Speaker Rubio and are as follows (found here):

$15.6 billion in Immediate Tax Relief and Reform (Statutory Changes)

  • Beginning this year, every category of property taxpayer will benefit from the cut and the cap that the statute imposes.
  • All cities and counties will be required to cut taxes in the upcoming 2007-2008 fiscal year to the 2006-2007 revenue levels. These local governments will then be required to make an additional cut of 3%, 5%, 7% or 9%. The level of cuts will be determined by a formula that analyzes their taxing performance over the past 5 years, measured against a statewide average.
  • Special taxing districts and fiscally limited cities and counties will be required to cut taxes to the 2006-2007 revenue levels and make an additional cut of 3%.
  • A cap on future property tax revenues (based on the rate of personal income growth and new construction) will be imposed to ensure that government cannot grow faster than personal income.
  • Local governments may override the cut and the cap. The method for the override will vary based on the magnitude of the local government's action (escalating from a supermajority vote of the local governing body, to a unanimous vote of the local governing body, to a referendum).

$16 billion in Further Tax Relief and Reform (Constitutional Amendment)

  • The estimated average savings for a homestead property (combining statutory and constitutional changes) will be $1,300 in 2008-2009. This average savings represents a 44% reduction.
  • "Save our Homes" is replaced with a new "super exemption". An estimated 73% of homesteaded properties will receive a greater benefit under this new exemption.
  • The      new "super exemption" will be as follows:
    • Level 1: Homestead Property will receive an exemption of 75% of the first $200,000 in value of the home. The minimum exemption is $50,000 per homestead.
    • Level 2: In addition to Level 1, homestead property will       obtain another 15% exemption for the next $300,000 in value.
  • We will grandfather the tax savings and assessment cap for the minority of property owners who have greater benefits under the current "Save our Homes" plan.
  • We will preserve all existing constitutional exemptions based on special circumstances, including those now provided to disabled veterans, low income seniors and agricultural lands.
  • Because the tax base for all taxing authorities will decline under the constitutional amendment, the fiscal analyses reflects a reduction in school funding. We intend to hold schools harmless from these cuts.

Other Constitutional Changes

There has been agreement to address remaining issues such as additional relief to low income elderly taxpayers, offering incentives for affordable housing and providing tax reform for "working waterfronts" and small businesses. Small businesses will receive a $25,000 tangible personal property tax (TPP) exemption resulting in a total exemption for $1 million of the 1.3 million businesses who must pay this tax. Furthermore, those who receive a total exemption on their TPP will never have to file the burdensome paperwork associated with the tax again.

More details are found in the presentation materials for the plan which can be accessed here.  Also, the Sun-Sentinel has a good quick review of the cuts and where they will apply here.

What everyone really wants to know is how much of a cut they can expect.  That will differ from county to county, but on average we'll see a cut of about $174 this year, and $1,306 next year, if the referendum passes.  Over five years the savings are expected to be about $6,159, on average.  The plan is pretty impressive in the way it attempts to limit the impact on smaller counties and counties which have done well in keeping taxes lower.  But it is complicated and I still maintain that a simple sales tax is the way to go.  But I digress.

This plan is a start, but let's look ahead.  Expect counties and cities to be out in force trying to defeat the additional $16 million via referendum.  All the rhetoric about the shame of cutting "vital" county services will only increase over the next few months.  Also expect voices from the opposite end; people who don't think the tax cuts are enough.  This plan is certainly enough for the legislature and Governor Crist to declare "victory" over property taxes, but my prediction is that this is a temporary fix.  New problems will emerge, as will old ones, and we'll be back to the drawing board within the next 5 years.

June 04, 2007

Counties the Cause of Tax Crisis

I always hesitate to argue with another Conservative because Conservatives draw their strength from their shared ideas.  But it is always entertaining to see Conservatives argue.  In that spirit, I take aim at a post by my friend Jim Johnson over at the State of Sunshine in which he comes to the defense of Florida counties in the battle over property tax reform.   

Continue reading "Counties the Cause of Tax Crisis" »

June 03, 2007

Senate District 3 - Mr. C picks Baxley

I haven't been reading much about the Senate 3 race to replace Nancy Argenziano... except for the near daily emails from the Baxley campaign (somebody's doing their homework). But I did get an email from somebody who started a site called "CharlieDeanisaRINO.com"  and a link to this You tube video in my inbox this morning. I looked around briefly this morning and didn't see anybody on it so there you go. Enjoy.

Even if I had never seen the video I can tell you here in Tallahassee all I hear on the radio is about Dennis Baxley, and knowing Dean is Argenziano's endorsed candidate (the only thing I've heard from the Dean camp) is not something that encourages me to vote for the guy.

And if I had never heard of Dennis Baxley, knowing that he passed the "Stand Your Ground" bill last year is all I need to know to vote for him.

But, he did other things too.

If appearances mean anything, and they mean everything in politics, then Baxley has the grassroots support, organization, fund raising, advertising, experience and credentials to win the Senate 3 seat this week. If he doesn't, I'll have to investigate why.

May 23, 2007

Florida Turkey and Federal Pork

The Florida newspapers today are buzzing today about a Florida Tax Watch report on the 507 pet projects included in the budget passed by the Florida Legislature this year.  These pet projects account for$267.3 million in spending and have been labeled "turkeys" by the group.  Many have been quick to point out the significance of the Legislature's demand that counties reduce their budgets, while the Legislature goes on a spending spree.  democrats in particular have gleefully noted the hypocrisy.  Honestly, I don't disagree.  I hope Governor Crist makes full use of his line-item veto power to trim the turkey.  In fact, cut it out altogether.

However, while I agree with my democrat friends on the spending in Tallahassee, I cannot help but wonder why there has not been a similar reaction on the spending in Washington, D.C.  Let us not forget the $21 billion worth of pork that democrats slipped into their initial Iraq spending bill and rammed through Congress.  I hope that my democrat friends here in Florida who are outraged at the spending by Republicans in the Florida Legislature will begin to apply the same standard to their own leadership in the Federal Legislature.  We should demand fiscal responsibility and spending restraint and we should demand it at every level of government, local, state and federal.  We should cut both the Florida turkey and the federal pork.

May 22, 2007

Why We Haven't Seen the Last of the Sales Tax

Much to my frustration the reports coming out of the pre-special session negotiations between the Florida House and Senate indicate that the sales tax idea is off the table.  Depending on who you ask, there are 3 or 4 current proposals, all centered on issuing a reduction on property taxes but differing on how and who to give those cuts to.  Any of the ideas is going to lead to cries of inequity from some group, and none of them will effectively and permanently end the property tax problem.  It may quell some of the discontent for now, but any of the current proposals will be a band-aid on a mortal wound.

And that is why we have not heard the end of the sales tax idea.

My guess is that within the next five years max, we are going to have another serious discussion about axing property taxes and moving to a sales tax because people will still be dissatisfied with the property tax system.  In fact, the push will be even stronger because we'll be able to see that the cut backs won't work on a permanent basis and more will realize that we need a fundamental change in our state tax structure.

So if you are like me, and are disappointed to see the discussions on the sales tax idea end in Tallahassee, fear not, because we'll be having them again soon.

May 21, 2007

Polls, Polls, Polls and Romney

New polling data on the presidential campaigns is coming out on an almost daily basis already.  Of particular interest is that Romney is gaining traction.  In fact, the recent poll averages now have Romney in the lead in New Hampshire and two-tenths of a point behind McCain for the top spot in Iowa.

As for Florida?  Giuliani retains a commanding lead; an average of 15.5 points.

I'm also keeping a close eye on the Fred Thompson and Gingrich numbers who, combined, continue to hold onto about 17 points.  While Romney remains behind Giuliani and McCain in national averages by 17 and 10 points respectively, those leads will likely drastically dwindle if and when Fred and Newt announce that they are not running.  Those holding out for these two are likely mostly Conservatives.  And when given the choice between the top three candidates many, if not most, will side with Romney.

May 18, 2007

Special Interest Group Paid Signature Gatherers

Attached to the opposition to the Hometown Democracy idea, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has launched a public awareness campaign about paid petition signature gathers from outside the state.  While the the ability to amend the Florida Constitution provides for an unmatched opportunity for the people to direct government, it also provides an opportunity of out-of-state interests to push policy in Florida as a testing ground and for others to profit from the signature gathering process.  It is in these situations where the amendments become more about special interest groups, out of state interest groups none-the-less. 

The point of all this?  Don't sign a petition unless you have taken to time to research what the amendment would actually do.  Sadly, the statement that with two million dollars, you can buy an amendment to the Florida Constitution is true.  That needs to change.

The Chamber has put together a brief PSA with a great summary of what is going on and how to respond.

Yet Another Dumb Ballot Initiative

As always, there is yet another bad idea floating around the state in the form of a petition for a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution.  This one would require local governments to hold election for the approval of comprehensive land use plans.  It is called "Hometown Democracy" and it is, to get to the point, dumb.

I support giving the little guy a voice.  On major issues like the marriage amendment or the sales tax proposal I like the idea of having an election to determine what policy stance the state will take.  But I also recognize that we have a Republican Democracy which places the responsibility of policy decisions in the hands of our elected government.  The reason for this?  Most of us don't want to go to the polls every time the Government wants to change something.

I can understand the desire to preserve as much of the natural state of Florida as we can.  I can understand some being upset about the ever increasing development of our state.  I can understand folks wanting to restrict development in some areas.  These positions should certainly be open for discussion and we have local government avenues to address these concerns.  However, an election over every major change is only going to complicate the process beyond repair.

Can you imagine the burden of having campaigns and elections over land use proposals?  It is a logistical nightmare that can only, and will cripple Florida's growth and business.

The idea is still in the petition stages, so if you are approached by an individual looking for your signature, feel free to use my description of the idea; dumb.

May 17, 2007

Another conservative targeted...

and cleared. Just one more example of baseless hate perpetrated by the left.

I know Mr. G will be happy.

May 04, 2007

What Florida's New Primary Date Means for Newt and Fred

Yesterday the Florida Legislature has passed a bill to move the Florida primary to the last Tuesday in January; this much you probably already know.

What you have not heard, or heard much about, is the huge implications this bill has for two men; Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson.

We know an average of 10% to 15% of of Republicans polled, whatever that means, are holding out waiting for Fred Thompson to jump into the race and about 8%to 9% are waiting for Gingrich.  Should either of them declare, many more supporting other campaigns would likely jump on board.  After last night's Republican debate many are claiming the winner was Fred Thompson as it only proved he needs to get into the race.  It seems like they could enter the race and quickly gather the support needed for a successful campaign.  However, campaigns, especially national campaigns take time to develop, and time just became a bigger issue than before.  I've been one of the few arguing that time is running out for these two, and that if they are going to get into the race, they need to get in now.  My case just got stronger because as soon as Governor Crist signs the bill their time table is getting much shorter. 

Campaigning in Florida is expensive.  While running a nickel and dime campaign operation in Iowa and New Hampshire for the primaries might work, it won't in Florida.  Moving the primary is going to require campaigns to spend much more money up front and have state campaigns in place much sooner than normal, obviously.  But raising money and developing campaign networks take time.  Florida's primary, once the bill is signed, will be nine months away.  Nine months is a lot of time, except for a guy who has, to date, no campaign staff, no campaign structure, raised no money and wants to run a successful primary in one of the most populous states in the Union. 

Many seem to think that Gingrich or Thompson entering the race is inevitable, but unless we have a declaration from them by the end of the month, I would be surprised to see them jump in.  Volunteers, staff and money are already being quickly dedicated to other candidates and Gingrich and Thompson, should they decide to run now have less time to pick up the scraps than they had before.

On a side note, on other individual who may be dramatically impacted by this bill is Governor Crist.  The bill would allow him to run as a VP candidate without leaving office, which makes him a much more plausible option for the front-runners.  Maybe we'll see Charlie in D.C. sooner than we thought?

April 26, 2007

Crist's Property Tax Proposal and Stalemate in Tallahassee

With the potential stalemate between the House and Senate tax plans, Governor Crist ran to the mushy middle with his own.  Shocking, I know.  Crist's proposal looks like the Senate plan.  It features a roll back of rates, a special election for doubling the homestead exemption, an exemption for first time home buyers, and a formula restricting future increases.  My complaint, as I said about the democrat plan as well as the Senate plan; it doesn't fix the property tax problem, it just prolongs it.

But the reality is that we are more likely to end up with a plan that looks like Crist's proposal than anything else.  The plan is close enough to the Senate plan that they will likely come out to meet Crist's structure.  The interesting thing to watch will be how the House handles this. 

House negotiator Dean Cannon's, R-Winter Park, stance of "This issue is not about splitting the difference," has made it clear that the House is not interested in meeting in the middle.  The House recognizes that this effort is not just about immediate tax relief, it is about fixing a broken system.  However, with both the Senate and the Governor putting their foot down on the sales tax, it will be almost impossible for the plan to get through.  The problem the three face is that someone has got to give.  There will be a riot if no tax plan is passed by the end of a special session which now almost seems to be inevitable.  Whoever finally breaks is going to be seen as the weaker party.  None of the three want that.  So who is going to take the fall?  Personally, I hope the House stands strong and does not give any ground on the sales tax.

Instead, my hope is that the House and Senate realize that there is a way to resolve this with everyone as a winner; structure a special election to give the people the option of choosing which tax structure to take.  Sure, it seems unlikely based on current polling that the sales tax plan would pass, but it would let the House leadership get out of this without mud on their face from having to back down due to pressure from the Senate and Governor.

Either someone will have to break, or the choice will have to go to the people.  I say let the people decide and in the process, everybody wins.

April 24, 2007

No Doubt

At a campaign appearance in South Carolina last month, Romney, who has absorbed several of Jeb Bush's former aides, said, "Down in Florida, that Jeb Bush. He's quite a guy, isn't he? I love him. If his name weren't Bush, he'd be running for president, I'm convinced. And we'd all have to stand aside because he'd be such a sure-fire winner."

If only. CNN.

I'm starting to think about Jeb as a VP. It's very hard for me to think Jeb could handle being number two, and I'm having a hard time imagining anybody but Jeb beating these yahoos on the left. Jeb is such a strong policy wonk, and considering the "new model" of Vice Presidency that Cheney has developed over the years, much more influential in policy setting and project control, Jeb would really have a lot of direct control over policy setting without all the media attention. In a lot of ways, the VP may actually be a better fit in a world where the GWOT makes the presidency focused on interest not related to education, abortion, medicaid, medicare, social security, welfare, space exploration, Federalism, gun control, growth of government...

any of which I'd wager Jeb could give a lecture on at the drop of a hat.

April 13, 2007

Property Tax Town Hall Meetings tomorrow

Town Hall Meetings for Property Tax Reform

 

Dear Friends,

 

Tomorrow, April 14, 2007, members of the Florida House of Representatives will hold Town Hall meetings throughout the state to hear about how rising property taxes are affecting you and your families. If you are interested in sharing your stories with us, we encourage you to attend one of the events below.

 

Pensacola

Representatives Clay Ford and Dave Murzin

10:00am CDT

Pensacola Junior College Downtown Center

418 West Garden Street

Pensacola, Florida

 

Milton

Representative Greg Evers

4:00pm CDT

Santa Rosa County Commission Chamber

6495 Caroline Street, Suite M

Milton, Florida

 

Panama City

Representatives Marti Coley and Jimmy Patronis

9:00am CDT

Florida State University Panama City Campus Auditorium

4750 Collegiate Drive

Panama City, Florida

 

St. Augustine

Representative Bill Proctor

9:30am EDT

Flagler College Auditorium

14 Granada Street

St. Augustine, Florida

 

Palm Harbor

Representative Peter Nehr

1:00pm EDT

Highland Lakes Auditorium

3300 MacGregor Drive

Palm Harbor, Florida

 

Clearwater

Representative Ed Hooper

6:00pm EDT

Homeowners Association Block Party

1900 Block of Clearview Lake Drive

Clearwater, Florida

 

St. Petersburg

Representative Jim Frishe

10:00am EDT

Largo Public Library

201 Highland Avenue

Largo, Florida

 

Bradenton

Representative Ron Reagan

10:00am EDT

Lakewood Ranch Town Hall

8175 Lakewood Ranch Boulevard

Bradenton, Florida

 

Fort Myers

Representative Nick Thompson

1:00pm EDT

Centennial Park

2100 Edwards Drive

Fort Myers, Florida

 

Stuart

Representatives Gayle Harrell and William Snyder

10:00am EDT

Stuart Recreation Center

East 10th Street & Tarpon Avenue

Stuart, Florida

 

Juno Beach

Representative Carl Domino

9:00am EDT

340 Ocean Drive

Juno Beach, Florida

 

Miami

Speaker Marco Rubio and Representatives Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Julio Robaina

12:30pm EDT

Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Church

2055 Coral Way

Miami, Florida

 

Marco Rubio                      Ray Sansom                     Dean Cannon

Speaker, 2006-2008        Speaker, 2008-2010       Speaker, 2010-2012

Florida House of                Florida House of              Florida House of

Representatives                Representatives                Representatives

April 12, 2007

The Senate Property Tax Plan and Mr. G's Ultimate Resolution to the Debate

The Florida Senate rolled out today their proposal for fixing the property tax problem.  Senate President Pruitt calls it a "thoughtful, responsible, and bold plan."  I call it the "Why fix it now when we can deal with it later?" plan.  There has got to be a better way to deal with property taxes than this plan; and I have it.  I warn you, this is a plan that will rock your world and blow your mind.  If you work in Rubio's office or another legislator's office, and I know you're reading this, please take the time to read my recommendation below and pass this idea up the chain. But first...

THE SENATE PROPOSAL

Similar to the House democrat proposal, the Senate plan, rather than fixing the property tax problem simply rolls back rates to 2004/2005 rates It also somehow changes the assessment formula tax collectors use (though I can't find the details just yet), and allow portability of Save Our Homes.

What is most telling to me is this line from the Tallahassee Democrat:

"Senate leaders have said they wanted to target property owners who have borne the largest share of the shifting tax burden since Save Our Homes took effect in 1995: commercial property owners, or those who don't claim homestead exemptions on their Florida homes."

If you're not claiming a homestead exemption it is likely because you are either a non-resident or this is your second home in Florida.  Essentially, this plan would diminish the benefits of the Save Our Home Act by portioning benefits to commercial property and second homes at a greater rate than homestead property.  If democrats are crying about how the sales tax would allegedly hurt the poor, there should be weeping and gnashing of teeth over this plan.

Ultimately, though, the biggest problem is that is plan does nothing to solve the underlying problem; a tax system which bases revenue on a revenue source that fluctuates greatly and is increasing in Florida at a rate greater than most of the rest of the country; that being real property.

Mark my words, if the Senate plan gains traction we will be at this same place again within 10 years, trying to figure out what to do about an unmanageable property tax system.  This plan is a loser.

The sad reality is that this plan is probably closer to the one that we will actually end up with than the sales tax plan.  The sales tax is going to face huge battles in the House, the Senate, and then at general election.  Instead we will likely end up with some bastardized version of the Senate plan, agree to meet up on this issue in 5 to 10 years, and call it a day.

I have a better idea though...

MR. G'S RECOMMENDATION:  PASS BOTH PLANS

Stay with me.  The smart move on Rubio's part here is to negotiate a deal with the Florida Senate; the House will pass the Senate plan if the Senate will pass Rubio's plan and allow special election to allow the people to vote on whether or not to take out portions of property taxes in exchange for a sales tax increase.  It seems Rubio will be able to get his plan though the House, but not the Senate. And the House leadership will fight the Senate plan, but we can actually pass both.  If the sales tax doesn't pass the election, everyone wins.  The Senate plan remains in effect and Rubio and others like me can know that the state is not ready for such a change and move on.  If the sales tax passes election, the Senate can know that the state did indeed what such a change and the Senate plan would be overridden by the House plan which is a Constitutional amendment.

Let the people vote.  We can argue all day about the merits or each plan, about polls, about what the people want.  I say let the people decide.  Pass both plans and let us choose which one we will keep.

April 11, 2007

Another Triumph for Adult Stem Cell Research

Just nine days ago a research team announced it was able to successfully grow a human heart valve using adult stem cells.

Today we find out that another research team has possibly discovered a cure to diabetes using adult stem cells.

Yet another example of the tremendous strides being made in the area of adult stem cell research while embryonic stem cell research time and time again proves to be a hollow promise.  I said it before and I'll say it again:

"If the government is going to fund medical research let's support research that not only avoids the great moral implications that comes with the destruction of human embryos but also has a firm foundation of proven success and potential.  Let's support adult stem cell research and leave embryonic stem cell research in the trash bin of history where it belongs."

To bring things home to Florida, the Florida Legislature has just axed legislative provisions to provide state funding for embryonic stem cell research, but rather focus efforts on the proven potential of adult stem cell research.  Bill sponsor, Anitere Flores of Miami said, "This bill funds scientific results, not promise."  I applaud this action by our representatives.

April 10, 2007

The Coming of the Crist v. Conservatives Civil War?

Recently there have been a number articles in Florida papers and posts on Florida blogs describing numerous differing opinions between some state Republican leaders and Governor Crist.  The most recent include the coverage of Attorney General Bill McCollum's strong position against Crist's effort to lower the bar for the restoration of the rights of felons.  To read the media that has been out there on this subject you would think there is a coming civil war between Crist and Conservatives such as Bill McCollum.  However, if you're one of those Florida liberals dreaming about the day when the Republican Party suddenly turns on Crist for wandering too far from the Florida base, you're wasting your time.  Below are the three reasons why.

Continue reading "The Coming of the Crist v. Conservatives Civil War?" »

April 07, 2007

Cutting Through the Hype on Mandatory HPV Vaccination

It is beginning to look like the legislation requiring all young girls in the state to be vaccinated against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.  Conservatives are taking heat on the issue because many are opposed to the legislation for concern with the message it sends to young women about sexual activity.  Agree with that position or not, one thing remains true:

You are free at anytime to get vaccinated against HPV.

It is not like Tallahassee is outlawing the HPV vaccine.  It is simply not mandating it.  Worried about HPV?  Fine, go get vaccinated.  The end.

April 06, 2007

Will Florida Felon Voting Restoration Stick?

Last night during a discussion of yesterday's post on the side-stepping of the Florida Constitution by Crist, Sink and Bronson, I made a realization; this system of automatic restoration is not permanent.

As we discussed yesterday, the Governor has used his discretionary ability under the Florida Constitution to grant restorations of rights to set up a system of automatic restoration for felons in certain categories.  However, this new system does not change the structure of the law.  The Florida Constitution and Statutes remain the same... and yesterday's decision is not binding on future governors.

As a result, the next governor, any governor in the future, or Crist himself, at any time can cease this automatic restoration.  In fact, my understanding of the language of the Florida Constitution and Statutes leads me to believe that even Sink or Bronson can stop the automatic restoration at any time should they recant their vote.

I'm not arguing that this should be done, however, it is good for us to be mindful of the fact that this hailed change could evaporate as quickly as it appeared. 

April 05, 2007

Giuliani on Publicly Funded Abortions

It has been interesting to watch so many Conservatives falling all over themselves to hop on the Giuliani train.  Yes, I know he's electable.  I know he's strong on the war and national security.  I know he's a fiscal Conservative (what I call a "half breed").

Giuliani is going to be tough to beat, and that goes for the democrat candidates as well.  But while we march towards what many Conservatives are calling inevitable let's not fool ourselves about what we are getting.

On his stop here in Florida this week he reiterated his support for publicly funded abortions.  If that doesn't make a Conservative stop in their tracks I don't know what will.

"Ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected,"

I'll hand it to him, he is consistent if nothing else.  Here's what he said in 1989. 

"There must be public funding for abortions for poor women," and "We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decisions about abortion."

I can't blame folks for wanting to support Giuliani given the opposition we face on the other side.  But as for me, I can't get excited about a guy who has this position on what I consider to be the most important issue we face today.

Crist, Bronson, Sink Sidestep Constitution to Automatically Restore Rights of Felons

This morning the Florida Clemency Board, comprised of the Governor, Attorney General, CFO and Agriculture Commissioner approved 3 to 1 a new structure for the restoration of voting rights for a majority of Florida's convicted felons.  Attorney General Bill McCollum was the lone dissenter in the vote.  This issue has presented somewhat of a dilemma for myself and many other Conservatives.  The reason being that we aren't thrilled with the idea of those who commit major violations of the law being automatically able to participate in the government process.  However, at the same time, we recognize that these folks have served their time.  However, regardless of your stance on the core issue, there are some significant Constitutional issues that have been raised.  Namely, today's vote uses a loophole to completely bypass the language and intent of the Florida Constitution.

Continue reading "Crist, Bronson, Sink Sidestep Constitution to Automatically Restore Rights of Felons" »

April 02, 2007

*UPDATED* Liberal Blog on the Attack on Property Taxes

I'm Mr. Hussey over at Pushing Rope got a little wound up over my last post on the mindless defense of the property tax system by democrats.  In recent months I've just ignored Mr. Hussey's attacks, but this is an important issue and Mr. Hussey's arguments are typical of what the democrats are saying about the Republican and democrat tax proposals.  Like other democrats arguments on the issue, I found his post amusing as Mr. Hussey out of one side of his mouth blasts the problems of property taxes, but out of the other side pays his required support for the proposed democrat tax scheme which prolongs the property tax structure.  To quote:

"Property taxes need to be dealt with. The state's growth will suffer if it doesn't."

I agree with you Mr. Hussey, the property tax structure is terrible.  So let's get rid of it.

Continue reading "*UPDATED* Liberal Blog on the Attack on Property Taxes" »

More Success for Adult Stem Cell Research

As the State Legislature gears up for debate over two bills, one which authorizes state funding for stem cell research and one which does not researchers in the field of adult stem cell research continue to make huge strides.  This article today in the Guardian describes the success of a British research team which has grown a human heart valve from adult stem cells.

Despite the repeated claims of embryonic stem cell advocates that embryonic stem cell research holds more potential than adult stem cell research the latter continues to have breakthrough success across the globe while the former consistently yields cancer and death in test animals.

If the government is going to fund medical research let's support research that not only avoids the great moral implications that comes with the destruction of human embryos also has a firm foundation of proven success and potential.  Let's support adult stem cell research and leave embryonic stem cell research in the trash bin of history where it belongs.

March 28, 2007

democrats ♥ Property Taxes

I really can't figure out why democrats are so emotionally attached to property taxes.  Republicans suggest eliminating the property tax structure and democrats are screaming and crying like the world is coming to an end.

We've seen multiple proposals by various democrats to replace the Republican sales tax idea.  All of the democrat plans have included saving the property tax structure.  The new Senate democrat proposal is no different.  In fact, the Senate democrats even took it to the next level; they've proposed an increase in property taxes.

Only in the mind of a democrat is the solution to a property tax problem raising property taxes.

The new plan provides for an increase in the save our homes cap which, ultimately, will result in higher property taxes for some.  Granted, the plan offers trimming and rollbacks in some areas for some, and a few for all, but in the end the democrat plan will bring us right back to the same problem we're facing now in a few years.

Democrats are missing a key component of the discussion; the fact that the property tax system is broken.  Why?  Because for whatever reason they are convinced that property taxes are the ultimate form of taxation.  Look, I'm not totally sold on the sales tax idea, either.  But it is better than a property tax scheme.  Think we can do better?  Fine, let's look at other options, but attempting to prolong the failing property tax schedule is not an option.  Maybe it would be in states where property values are not an volatile as Florida, but property in our state is always going to be expensive and will continue to grow in value.  Florida is awesome.  People want to be here.  People want a piece of the action.  We need a tax structure that doesn't slam residents because we live in such a desirable state.

Democrats, it is time to let this one go, it's no good for you.  I know you love property taxes.  I know you've been together for a long time and it is a comfortable relationship.  I know the idea of putting yourself back out on the market for new tax structure is a scary thought, but it is ok, we'll be right here with you.  And who knows, maybe you'll meet a nice sales tax or flat tax that you really get along well with, that can really make you happy.  One that you won't be ashamed to take home to introduce to your mother.  I'll even help you write the Dear John letter.

March 23, 2007

County Budget Cuts are Coming, No Matter How Much You Whine.

Despite the modification to the sales tax plan, Florida Counties are still in opposition because of the effect on their budgets.  Their opposition is understandable, nobody likes having their budget cut.  At the same time, they need to realize that a budget cut is coming, period.

Even if the sales tax idea falls completely flat the legislature is going to pass some sort of cut so that they can declare victory, whether that victory is real or not.  With that in mind, it seems to me that the better approach for the Counties is not stomping their feet about the proposal.  Rather, the counties should be helping to develop an alternative that they can live with.

And has anyone heard of any counties that have announced that under the sales tax they would have to lay off police officers, firefighters or teachers?  Until that happens I'm still not going to cringe at the idea of cutting county budgets.

Bad Move on the Sales Tax Plan

As the State of Sunshine notes, the budget and policy council of the Florida House will be considering the property tax reform plan. 

The process so far has been interesting to watch, and we are already seeing the first in a series of compromises on the proposed tax plan.  The plan now requires counties to hold a referendum to determine how much of the plan to adopt.  Under the new version there will be 1% sales tax increase statewide, with a matching reduction in property taxes.  Then the counties will hold a referendum vote on whether to adopt a further 1% sales tax increase as well as an additional 1/2% increase each with further property tax relief.

I'm not a fan of the new structure.  While it is still better than what the democrats are pushing in the Florida Senate, which is nothing, and what they are pushing in the house, which is a logistical nightmare, the idea that were could have drastically differing tax schemes from county to county unecessarily complicates our tax structure.  Further, the plan seems to leave open the possibility of future increases of property taxes that remain, putting us right back where we started, but with a higher sales tax.  Let's just cut all property taxes and move on.

That said, I understand that the political process requires compromise, and there will likely be further compromise on the plan before we have anything that both houses of the legislature can agree upon.  But this feels like a move in the wrong direction.

March 14, 2007

Argenziano/Corcoran deal

I heard it this morning from a friend, but just realized I haven't seen anybody talking about it....

Except Florida Insider,

Argenziano-Corcoran deal struck (03/14/07)
It goes all the way to the top.

and I don't subscribe, so maybe somebody can tell me what happened at "the top?" From what I understand Argenziano either has been, or is assured, of a spot on the PSC and it was made possible by Corcoran  "assisting" something through for Governor Crist himself with assurances of support for the vacated Argenziano seat.

I'd like a little sunshine on that please.

Why don't I know already you may ask? Well, I'm busy working on an experiment. Maybe I'll tell you about it later.

March 13, 2007

Florida Legislature Top Ten

Jim Johnson at the State of Sunshine has the definitive Top Ten Amusing Bills for the 2007 Session.

March 08, 2007

The Plan

The Florida House of Representatives has proposed a bold plan to transform the way we pay for government services. The proposed Constitutional Amendment would:                      

Eliminate all property taxes for homestead homeowners.             

Roll-back most property tax rates to 2000-2001 levels plus inflation and population growth for non-homestead homeowners and commercial property owners. (Property taxes for schools, payment of bonds and voter approved property taxes are not rolled back.)             

Limit future increases in all property taxes, including those that fund schools, to inflation and population growth.             

Limit the growth of state government to 2000-2001 levels plus annual inflation and population growth.             

Protect taxpayers by requiring a unanimous vote of a local commission or board to override the constitution.             

Provide funding for local government with an additional 2.5% state sales tax which is paid by Floridians and tourists.

Get more details and sign the petition here.

March 07, 2007

Democrat Response to the State of the State

Mr. C hit the nail right on the head with his brief review of Governor Crist's State of the State:  "Money, money, money.  This guy wants to spend."

With that said, I didn't have anything to add.

But I just had the chance to read the democrat response to the State of the State by Bill Heller of Pinellas County.

I have three thoughts, which you will find below...

Continue reading "Democrat Response to the State of the State" »

March 06, 2007

Sound Familiar?

From the American Spectator, Jeb in 2008? posted on 2/27/07

Somebody with major name ID, with access to large amounts of money and organizational might at a moment's notice, and with a solid reputation across the Republican philosophical spectrum.

Of course, Jeb Bush qualifies on all counts.

BUT WHY WOULD HE RUN when the name Bush is so unpopular these days?

From PEER Review FL, The Case for Jeb Part I, and Part II, both written way back in June 2005.

Governor Jeb Bush is the only Republican with the requisite name ID, governing experience, conservative credentials, political ties and fund raising ability to even compete with the Clintons. He is term limited out of office in 2006 giving him two years without obligation to elected office.

Read both pieces. There are some differences, namely they don't go into as much detail as PEER Review FL, but I'll let you decide where they got the main idea.

Oh, good lord...

Charlie is now proposing Florida find a solution to "global climate change." He's going to look silly latching on to this "popular" problem when "global climate change" is proven to be completely out of our control.

Forget about Rubio for President, how about for Governor?

Overall impressions of Charlie and his speech this afternoon? Money, money. money. This guy wants to spend.

First Glance at the democrat Tax Cut

So the democrats are rolling out their own tax plan.  While I'm thrilled to see any democrat support a tax cut, I can't say I like their proposition.

One of the aspects of the sales tax that I like is that it is streamlined.  We've already got the sales tax system in place and it removes the bulky property tax system.  Less government is a good thing here.

But the democrat plan, well, can anyone guess how much government effort will need to be expended to make this plan work?

Granted, I've not seen the proposal, I've only read the Florida Newspaper's articles on the plan.  But let's be honest, most of those papers are under contract with the Florida democrat party to give beaming reviews of anything the party does.

Regardless, the very concepts being advanced by the democrats seem cumbersome.  For example, the idea that government will provide a subsidy for renters.  Not a bad idea in and of itself.  But are you telling me that Florida will now monitor all citizen's in the that are renting?  Likely, the plan would require renters to submit a form verifying that they rent their residence, but how large of a government department will we have to create to review and verify the submissions of every renter in the state?

It seems like a ton of extra government and red tape for minimal relief.

At first glance, to me, the plan looks like an attempt to put a band-aid on a mortal wound.  Rather than providing real relief it gives some folks enough money to feel like somebody in government cares and doesn't solve the growing property tax problem.

I have my concerns with the sales tax as well, but I'll take a fair distribution tax cut like the sales tax over the targeted, short-sighted plan put out by the democrats any day.

March 05, 2007

The Missing Links in the Sales Tax Proposal

As I've said before, what I have seen so far of the sales tax, I like, though I am not completely sold.  Most of the arguments against the sales tax are sheer rhetoric and lack any real analysis of the effect of the plan.  But the plan is certainly not without flaws.  The result is that both the democrat and Republican advocates on either side of this issue are missing a key element in their support or opposition to the sales tax concept:

What the democrats are Missing: The Numbers
While the democrats stepped up their whining this week about how apartment dwellers will not enjoy the fruits of the sales tax proposal, I've not heard a single one acknowledge the fact that apartment complexes pay property taxes and a cut can be passed on to renters resulting in lower rent.  Still think that renters will get hurt despite this fact?  Fine, show us the numbers.  Show us the average a renter pays towards the property taxes of their complex.  Show us how that number is lower than what those people would pay under the sales tax increase.  From the numbers I've seen, it looks like renters (except those spending so much they could not possibly be considered "poor") will ultimately be able to keep more of their money as well.  But the numbers I've seen may be wrong.  If that is the case, show us.

In the meantime, the accusations that the tax will hurt renters doesn't hold water as the numbers Republicans have published show that renters stand to benefit just like everyone else. 

As a renter myself, I appreciate the sentiment that you are trying to look out for me, but the sheer speculation on your side of this issue is not helping anyone.  And if you are able to shoot down a proposal that could have allowed me to keep more of my money it will be you that is hurting renters like me.

What Republicans are Missing:  Guarantee of Lower Rent
I believe in the market just as much as the next guy.  I believe that if property taxes are reduced and apartment complexes are able to offer rent at a lower rate they will do so to remain competitive.  However, I also understand that this will likely take time.  The result is that some landlords might not cut rent at all at first, or might cut at a lower rate than they could.  This means that there could be a period where the democrats are right, renters would get hit hard.  You know how much I hate democrats being right (though it is so infrequent I rarely have to worry about it) so we need a strategy.  We need a way to guarantee that under the sales tax plan the savings on property taxes enjoyed by landlords would be passed down to renters.  This could be done through a system which requires landlords, in order to receive the tax break, must demonstrate that they are reducing their rent at a rate equivalent to the reduction in property taxes.  Apartment complexes will necessarily follow through with this because it will allow lower rent, keeping them competitive, while not affecting their profit margin.

The Republican leadership needs a mechanism like this in their plan to neutralize the argument that renters will suffer under the sales tax.  So far, this is the one hole I've seen in the plan.  Fortunately, it is one which can be easily plugged.

There are many people out there, like me, who still have not made up their mind about the sales tax idea.  Either side has the opportunity to win us over by providing the missing link in their argument, but I have a feeling that if the Republican leadership is able to fix their side of the issue, the democrat opposition will be left without a leg to stand on.

February 26, 2007

Why I'm Not Sad About Cutting County Tax Revenue

While liberals all around the state are crying over the very thought of cutting county budgets, Blog-Stew addresses the very reason I'm not terribly torn up over the idea; silly, unnecessary spending.

When it comes down to a question of whether we can pay firefighters and police officers I'll start worrying.  But when we're looking at cutting tax breaks on $25,000 bird statues in downtown Orlando I have a hard time getting worked up.

Any other Orlando residents remember the frustration over the "tower of light" going up in front of city hall several years back?

February 25, 2007

Sales Tax - First Round of Numbers

Speaker Rubio's office sent us the numbers on the sales tax proposals. They got lost in our email for a few days, so I know the numbers are out there already, but it's nice to feel the love.  We share that love with you.

The top half includes the averages.  For county specific amounts, take a gander at the full release here:

Download Property-Tax-Plan.pdf

Statewide Savings for Property Owners Under House Property Tax Relief Plan

Statewide Savings This Year

$5.77 Billion Total                                                     19% Total Savings

Average Taxpayer Savings
Homestead Property Owner:                                         $433
Non-Homestead Residential Property Owner:                 $767
Commercial Property Owner:                                         $3,353

Statewide Savings Upon Passage of Constitutional Amendment

$13.55 Billion Total Property Tax Reduction
$7.78 Billion in Sales Tax Replacement
$5.77 Billion in Total Tax Savings

Average Taxpayer Savings
Homestead Property Owner:                                         $2,283
Non-Homestead Residential Property Owner:                 $767
Commercial Property Owner:                                         $3,353

February 23, 2007

The Sales Tax is Coming! We're Doomed! DOOMED!

I've rather enjoyed the debate over replacing the state property tax with the sales tax.  On the one hand, it has been refreshing to hear some new ideas on taxes in Florida.  On the other hand it has been amusing to watch the reaction by those opposing the sales tax; from timid objection to doomsday style calls for repentance.  The fact of the matter is, the sales tax idea has a long way to go, and in order for it to go through just about everybody is going to have to agree with the idea.  As has been pointed out in the comments on this site, in order for the sales tax to go through it will require a two-thirds majority vote of support.  That is going to be a tall order to fill and for that to happen, Republicans and democrats, business groups, consumer advocacy groups, state and local government advocates are going to have to be united on the idea to a certain degree.  That is going to be next to impossible unless... well... unless the sales tax turns out to be a really good idea.

So for all of you out there preaching that the end of government as we know it is coming unless we stop this sales tax idea, calm down.  We have much more time to discuss the idea and work out any of the kinks.

Thus far, however, I have been unimpressed by the arguments against it.

The strongest argument against the sales tax has been that it will hurt the poor.  The problem with this argument is that we really don't have the numbers to prove the point either way right now.  I understand the argument that renters will be asked to shoulder the sales tax that were not previously asked to pay property taxes.  Believe me, as a renter myself this was my first question.  However, what many are missing is that apartment renters already pay property taxes, just indirectly.  Those big complexes we live in, guess what they have to pay?  Property taxes.  Guess how they pay for those taxes?  It is part of our monthly rent. 

The Speaker's office is anticipating an average $767 annual difference for tenants.  Regardless, that would require $30,000 in annual spending on taxable goods for it to result in higher taxes for renters.  Does anyone who fits that description qualify as poor?

Furthermore, I had a friend send me a 2005 review of the national differential between property taxes levied on apartment complexes and single family residences from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard.  The paper reviews the data from the 2001 Residential Finance Survey by the Census Bureau and found that apartments are actually taxed at a higher rate than single family residences.  In fact, Florida is in the top three states with the largest disparity in the tax rate between private residences and apartment complexes.

Thus, those advocating that the sales tax will unfairly burden renters must acknowledge that our current system already unfairly burdens renters and the changes won't burden those classified as "poop."

Few would argue that we do not have a tax crisis in our state and we need a solution.  I certainly do not want a system that would unfairly burden the poor.  But unfairly burdening others doesn't seem to be a reasonable solution either.  From what I have seen thus far, the sales tax seems to by a solid solution.  But again, we will certainly have reports and reviews by numerous consulting and polling firms paid tens of thousands of dollars to analyze the numbers before we have to make a decision.

The second argument against the sales tax has been that the resulting 5 billion dollar total cut to county budgets is a bad thing.  While certainly don't want crucial county services cut, I'd be shocked if there were not at 5 billion dollars in non-necessary government programs throughout or state.  Again, I'm sure we'll hear about all of it soon.

From where I stand now, I like the sales tax idea.  But if it turns out to be a bad plan, I'll be the first to switch sides.  I hope you will join me, even those opposed to the tax, in hearing out the arguments of both sides before making a concrete decision. After all, for this solution, or any solution to pass, just about all of us are going to have to agree.  There is no need to feel like the sky is falling with the debate over a sales tax, we have plenty of time to think this one through.

*Updated with correct numbers from the Speaker's office.

February 20, 2007

Fresh Ideas on Property Taxes

Earlier this month I suggested that rather than discussing changes to property taxes that we needed to discuss getting rid of the property tax scheme altogether.  Rep. Daniel Webster agrees.

"The idea of having no property tax is pretty awesome, in my mind."

I have to agree and I must say that I am thrilled... thrilled, to hear that Republicans in Tallahassee are leading the discussion on replacing Florida's property tax system.  The Orlando Sentinel has an article covering the issue today, in specific, the idea of using an increased sales tax to replace the property taxes. 

Today on the Bud Hedinger radio show in Central Florida Rep. Frank Atkinson of Kissimmee discussed the possibility of a tax that would not be levied on goods such as food or medicine and would also replace those taxes paid by renters as well.   He's hosting a series  of townhall meetings across the state to take suggestions from citizens.

Sure, this would require a pretty major sales tax increase on many items, but would it reach the almost $200 most renters and many homeowners are paying in taxes each month?

It is all just discussion right now, but I am excited to hear that it is taking place and it sounds like we may have a solid solution right in front of us.

February 18, 2007

Mr. G on Ric Keller on Iraq Surge

The House passed it's resolution against the surge in Iraq this passed week and 17 House Republicans joined in sliding the knife into the backs of our troops; including our own Ric Keller.  He gave a speech prior to the vote, the text of which can be found here.  His suggestion for the war is essentially that we follow the Iraq Study Group's report and get everyone else to do everything.  If I thought that would work, I would support it, too.

I have to say, this one completely baffles me.  Consider me baffled.  I can understand the frustration with the war.  I can understand that many Republicans oppose the surge, even my friend over at Blog-Stew.  I can understand Keller wanting to send a message to the administration on the issue.  But he could have expressed all of those things outside of the resolution.  His vote almost certainly guarantees that he will have a well supported opponent in the next primary for his seat (Blog-Stew has already brought up Daniel Webster, good choice).

The fact is the surge is happening and the resolution will not change anything.  All Keller's vote has done is given democrats a new talking point, and I hate democrat talking points.

On a side note, the vote has now officially pigeon-holed the democrats on the surge.  Any success that comes from the surge democrats can receive no credit for.  As a result, despite democrat promises not to try to undermine the military effort, expect them to come.  Politically, democrats need the surge to fail and will begin making efforts to ensure that this happens.

I don't doubt Keller's sincerity, but if he had really thought about it, there were much more effective ways to voice his position to the administration without damaging his party, troop morale, and his own political career.  Central Florida needs a Representative that is going to make better decisions than this.  Oh, his vote in favor of the minimum wage increase didn't help my opinion of him either.

Mr. G supports the administration, supports the troops, supports the surge and now, doesn't support Ric Keller.  I'm with Blog-Stew, let's get Webster into the ring.

February 16, 2007

UPDATED: Is Marriage a Fringe Issue?

As we get closer to the 2008 election one issue that is going to take the spotlight in Florida is same-sex marriage.  The Florida Marriage Amendment is almost guaranteed to be on the ballot and the debate over the issue will be heated. 

In anticipation of this fight liberals on the blogosphere and in the mainstream media in our state are already gearing up.  The tactic thus far has been to paint the issue as a fringe issue.  Examples abounded this week with numerous articles on Governor Crist's statement that the state GOP should put its priorities elsewhere.  The tone of the articles and blog posts covering Crist's statements was that the marriage amendment was an issue that only appealed to the right of the Republican party.

Even today the Miami Herald released an editorial comparing those in our party that support the amendment to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, asserting that same-sex marriage would have no ill effect on our state, and arguing that involvement in this edge issue would hurt Governor Crist's poll ratings and eliminate any hopes he might have of running for Vice President in 2008.

Reading this garbage gives you the impression that only a handful on the far right support the Florida Marriage Amendment.  I only wish that sentiment were true, because if it was it would mean that the majority of Floridians belong to the right wing of the Republican party. 

I'm sure that some of you reading this very post don't consider yourself Conservatives, but would vote for a marriage amendment.  Guess what, you're not alone.

Every poll I've seen on the concept of a marriage amendment in our state has shown a majority of the state supports the idea.  I can give you Strategic Vision polls but liberals in our state just blow those off.  I can also give you Equality Florida's (our own homegrown homosexual lobby) own poll from just over a year ago showing that 55% of Floridians  support the idea of a marriage amendment, with an anticipated additional margin of 5 to 8% who would support the amendment over what the poll indicated.

The truth is that marriage is not a fringe issue.  It is an issue that voters all across the spectrum are passionate about and poll after poll confirms that the majority of Floridians support traditional marriage and want to protect it with an amendment to our state constitution.

The strategy over the next year and a half by liberals and the media will be to be to make supporters of traditional marriage feel as though they are on the fringe, that they are extremists with outdated views.  Don't let the rhetoric get to you because your support of traditional marriage is the majority view, both nationally and in our own state.

UPDATE: Over at Pushing Rope Mr. Hussey takes his shot at me.  A few thoughts...

"The amendment would do what is already on the Florida law books. Make marriage between same sex couples illegal."

Wrong.  The amendment will protect marriage in our state from activist judges.  We've seen all to often that judges across the country are far to willing to throw state statutes in the trash to advance a political agenda.  Marriage is under attack and the homosexual lobby has learned that the easiest place for them to push their agenda is in the Courts.  We've seen this in our own state as they have fought vigorously to repeal the state's homosexual adoption ban.  It is only a matter of time until they take aim at marriage in Florida, as they have already done in other states.  The Florida Marriage Amendment puts marriage completely outside of the reach of the judiciary, thereby preserving traditional marriage in Florida.

"Just because the polls are tipped to a certain side doesn't make it legal or morally right."

Correct, and I've not argued that the polls make anything right.  But on this issue, it just so happens that most people are right.

"Eventually, gay marriage will be legal in America."

Wrong.  As long as we are willing to stand for our convictions we will prevail and preserve marriage in our state, and nationwide.

"The harder the Christian Right pushes the issue the more the American public will get used to the idea of same sex marriages."

Wrong.  As I noted above, Mr. Hussey, like the media, presents the issue as though the Christian Right is in the fringe on this issue.  The Christian Right need not push the issue because most people agree with us on this issue.  It is the left that is pushing their agenda upon the majority.

In conclusion, I always find these situations entertaining.  The left constantly berates the right for pushing its morality on the majority.  But Mr. Hussey, like the rest of the left, has no qualms pushing arguing that the majority is wrong when the majority disagrees with them. 

Over the next year as the left berates you for your values, attempts to marginalize you, and compares your views to racism as Mr. Hussey does I encourage you to stand by your convictions and what is right.

 

February 14, 2007

Crist to Prevent Funding of Florida Marriage Amendment?

Most of the big Florida papers had an article today about Governor Crist's statements yesterday about the idea of the state Republican Party continuing to give funding to the effort to pass the Florida Marriage Amendment.  Most of the articles made it seem as if Crist was ready to single-handedly pull the plug on the amendment. Of course, the statements Crist made and the portrayal of the statements don't match up.  I'd give you the analysis, but someone beat me to it.

Now, pay attention, because I rarely, if ever say this... Florida Politics got this one right.  Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day  (I smirk as I type this because Florida Politics is one of the sharpest democrat bloggers in Florida).

In his daily review of the news today he explains that Crist has not said he would not allow the state GOP to fund the marriage amendment this year and, based on his past statements and actions, it seems unlikely that he would prevent such funding.  And he's right.

It is yet another example of a prediction on Crist that I made during the campaigns, that while Crist would not be an advocate for the causes of Conservatives, he would not stand in our way.  We saw this on embryonic stem cell research recently, and we will see it again here.  Crist might not be excited about the marriage amendment, but he is certainly not going to try and impede the efforts of Conservatives in

Florida.  Especially on this issue because Crist realizes this amendment will bring out Conservatives to vote and get them active in the election and campaigns.

Regardless, my prediction on the amendment is that it will pass with or without GOP money.  The amendment is just 28,000 signatures short of the 611,000 needed to get on the ballot.  We have about a year to get those remaining signatures.  The amendment has made it this far with less than a fourth of the funding that most successful ballot measures require ($400k as compared to $2+ million).  The polling data I've seen has shown support around 61 and 65% for the amendment in

Florida, with suggestion that these percentages might actually be low.  This is going to be very difficult for the anti-marriage lobby to stop.

Of course, it is far from a done deal.  One major problem might be that Conservatives may have shot themselves in the foot by pushing the amendment requiring all future amendments to pass by 60% rather than a simply majority.

But for the time being, Conservatives have little to worry about.  Crist is not going to prevent funding for the effort, and even if he directs that funding should be decreased the Conservative leadership in this state will see the effort through with your help.

February 12, 2007

Karen Thurman Tries to Mislead Floridians, Again.

When Karen Thurman says anything my gag reflex usually starts to act up.  Her podcast and press release today on the Florida democrat website had its usual effect.

On the stalled resolutions on the war in Congress:

"It is the troops and their families that truly have to pay the price for failed policies, but George W. Bush and a stubborn Republican minority in Congress don't even want to talk about it."

Nothing could be father from the truth.  The strongest Republican opposition arose only after the democrat leadership rescinded its promise to allow a comparable Republican resolution supporting the war to be debated.  Further, during debate on the democrat bill this week, no Republican amendments will be permitted.  Sure, democrats are willing to discuss the war, just on their terms with major limits on debate by the opposition.  Heaven forbid anything interrupt their grandstanding.

That said, I understand the motivation.  Disapproval of the war was a big selling point for democrats in 2006 and they want to demonstrate resolve on the issue now that they are in power.  Disgusting as it is the resolution in and of itself is not surprising.  What is surprising is the complete lock-down of debate on the subject by the party which promised the most open and ethical Congress ever followed by accusations that Republicans are the ones limiting debate... wait... we're talking about democrats, so even that is not surprising at all.

"Worse yet, our Republican Senator, Mel Martinez, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, was apparently too busy to even show up to the procedural vote.  "This war is the most important issue facing our country, and Mel Martinez can't even show up? The Republican Party of Florida slammed Jim Davis again and again for missing votes on inconsequential things such as naming post offices. What do they have to say now about their Senator missing these crucial votes?"

Please, Republicans slammed Davis for having the second worst voting record in Congress.  I'm not excusing Martinez for missing any votes, but I understand that it happens.  When Mel misses 300 more votes to match Davis' 301 missed votes you will have a valid talking point comparison between the two.  Last year Martinez missed 3.4% of all votes.  Davis missed 24.8%.

In fact, every single democrat from Florida in the House of Representatives missed more votes than Senator Martinez and had a higher percentage of missed votes in the 109th Congress.  Only seven Florida Congressmen had better voting attendance percentages than Martinez; all of them were Republicans.  The only democrat in Congress with a better voting attendance record than Martinez last year was Senator Nelson with 1.6% of votes missed (12 less than Martinez).

Thurman closes by urging democrats to call Senator Martinez and "tell him to stop missing votes and most importantly ignoring the people of Florida."  While I won't discourage you from making that call, if missing votes is your concern, you should call every Florida democrat in the House first.

As for "ignoring the people of Florida," democrats only cry about the people being "ignored" when the polls go their way.  On issues such as the federal and state marriage amendments which polls show the national majority and state majority both favor they certainly don't call it "ignoring the people" when they oppose the amendments.  When Senator Graham and Senator Nelson voted against the federal marriage amendment in 2004 despite the fact that the Senate offices on Capitol Hill received one of the largest, if not the largest, totals of constituent contacts within a single week (with the vast majority in favor of the amendment) democrats certainly didn't categorize it as "ignoring the people."  When democrats go against the polls we get a lecture about Congressmen being elected to "exercise their judgment."  When Republicans go against the polls they call it "ignoring the people."

Thurman's message today was typical of democrat attacks; filled with half-truths and ultimately lacking any real substance.  No wonder most Florida voters aren't willing to trust the democrat leadership in positions of power.

February 07, 2007

Time for Fresh Ideas on State Taxes

If you took the articles in the major state papers today about the debate over cutting property taxes at face value you would think that Governor Crist was attempting to eliminate all funding for police, firefighters and schools.  Everyone was real excited about the idea of cutting property taxes, but now that we're examining the logistics, well, it seems it might be more difficult than originally anticipated.  True to style, at the first sign of some difficult decisions many of the major Florida papers and democrats are ready to let the accusations fly that the Governor is going to ruin the state.

Unfortunately, the reality is simply that cutting property taxes directly affects county budgets.  While this discussion provides a perfect opportunity to examine county budgets and consider trimming the fat where fat exists I anticipate that the Governors office will find that many counties simply don't have much to trim.  As many county officials are already arguing, a cut in property taxes will likely result in a tax increase to make up the difference.

So where do we go from here?  While I'm not opposed to the idea of continuing to examine a property tax cut and I loom forward to hearing the ideas that come from the Governor's office on the issue I hope that the debate will evolve into a discussion of alternatives to the property tax system.

The fact is that we have a crisis with our property taxes in our state and if the Counties and Cities are not able to reduce their budgets to manage a property tax cut, then we need to consider replacing the property tax system altogether.  I am a supporter of flat tax and sales tax concepts, so personally, I would like to see discussion drift to the possibility of an expansion of locality sales taxes.

We cannot afford to allow the debate to end at whether or not the Counties can afford a property tax cut.  We have an opportunity to simply the Florida tax system and ease the tax burden on a class of tax payers that have been targeted for dramatic increases.   Whether or not a property tax cut is feasible or effective, it is time for fresh ideas on the system of taxation in Florida.

February 06, 2007

Hey democrats, Stop Whining!

I'm always a little torn when I see  liberals and democrats squandering political opportunities.  Part of me wants to point out the chance they are missing because this part still somehow believes that there is some good that comes from a political system with two strong parties.  The other part of me just wants  to keep my mouth shut and enjoy the show as the left continues to alienate itself more and more from the mainstream public.

In the end, however, I know anything I say will likely have no effect as it will either be ignored by democrats and I doubt many democrat party executives are regular readers of PEER Review.  Regardless, I submit the following for your consideration:

Hey democrats, stop whining, Governor Crist gives you a tremendous opportunity to build political capital.

Continue reading "Hey democrats, Stop Whining!" »

January 29, 2007

Jeb Bush Rallies Conservatives

That goes without saying. Jeb Bush's second inauguration address contained a line that went something like this,

"There would be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers - silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill."

That line encouraged me to make a decision that included moving to Florida. The rest is history.

Yesterday, Jeb was making inspirational speech again, and it doesn't sound like retirement speech...

It's important for us to realize we lost, and there are significant reasons that happened, but it isn't because conservatives were rejected. But it's because we rejected the conservative philosophy in this country."

He added, "If the promise of pork and more programs is the way Republicans think they'll regain the majority, then they've got a problem."

If he could be elected Jeb Bush would become, hands down, the defining GOP president. But, we aren't at a place yet when Jeb could enter the race, or even consider running, for President. Besides him saying, repeatedly, that he is not running, solid conservatives like myself wish he were.

Running or not his words will be remembered in the early election season as the field of potential GOP candidates ply their worth in early primary states, one of which is possibly going to be Florida.

Are they solid conservatives? Do they understand what they are saying, or is it just a long string of sound bites? Do they talk the talk? Have they walked the walk? Do they have the "special sauce" needed to find success and popular support in a difficult media environment?

What's a scenario in which Jeb gets the nomination? A complete collapse of the current field and a sufficient surge of support for Hillary that pushes conservatives to find a candidate who can confront the Hillary myth (Rick Lazio need not apply)... or, IHMO a potential McCain-Clinton race which is to say it's not a race - you lose no matter what you do.

Basically, Jeb Bush doesn't need to enter the race when he can be begged into it.

Likely? No. Possible? Yes.

So stay tuned, and watch for more "pork busting" speeches from Jeb in the next year. I I'll be watching for the subtle signs.

January 24, 2007

Crist Sticks to His Word and Supports Funding For Embryonic Stem Cell Research

During the gubernatorial primaries this past year Conservatives were torn between two candidates; Tom Gallagher, a man with a moderate background who pushed the Conservative agenda in the primary, and Charlie Crist, a self proclaimed Conservative with moderate views on most social issues.  Ultimately, the conventional wisdom that Crist was the better candidate because he was more "electable" won out in Conservative circles.  All the while, many Conservatives understood their values would later pay a price because of that choice. 

It is time to pay the piper.

Governor Crist recently announced his support of a new stem cell research bill that would provide state funding for embryonic stem cell research (story here and here).

Continue reading "Crist Sticks to His Word and Supports Funding For Embryonic Stem Cell Research" »

January 22, 2007

Florida NOWCelebrates Death

Florida NOW recently revealed their design for a proposed license plate in the state of Florida.  Take a moment to ponder the message that this imagery presents.

United_for_choice_1

John Stemberger, President of the Florida Family Policy Council has a great analysis of the proposed plate titled "A Pro-Abortion License Plate: The First Really Bad Idea of 2007."

"The "award winning" license plate design is a half way honest but creepy depiction of a blood-red mother star with her patriotic blue star baby apparently floating upward into the sky after being aborted-- all against a pure snow white background. I supposed you have to think long and hard about how to come up with a user friendly way to depict the grizzly surgical procedure of an abortion."

This celebration of death by Florida Now is nothing short of disgusting.  As are the many celebrations by liberals today of the 34th "anniversary" of Roe v. Wade, marking the death of more than 48 million unborn babies.

Meanwhile, millions joined together yesterday and celebrated life on National Sanctity of Human Life Day and many will gather today to participate in the 34th annual March for Life in Washington D.C..  These are folks that are rallied by images such as this depicting a twin kissing her sister on the cheek in the womb.

Twinkisswomb_228x237_1

Image from the Daily Mail's article A Crowded Womb by Natasha Pearlman discussing advances in ultrasound technology.  The image caption reads: "Womb for love: A twin kisses the cheek of her sister. Such affection, believed to help foetuses develop, may be mirrored in how the twins interact once they are born.

January 18, 2007

Rep. Feeney Leads Charge Against Social Security for Illegal Aliens

Our own Rep. Tom Feeney from Florida's 24th District is leading the charge against the US-Mexico Social Security Totalization Agreement.  The Agreement, which does not require any support from Congress as a treaty, would provide full social security benefits to immigrants currently in the country illegally should they later receive legal status.  The new burdens this places on the already dying social security system will only serve to usher the program to bankruptcy faster than it is already.

Today Human Events released an article by Rep. Feeney addressing the agreement.  It gives you all the details you need to know and the way it can be stopped.

January 11, 2007

Republicans and Minimum Wage

I try not to let myself be surprised by democrats anymore.  But I find myself being shocked by Republicans more and more as of late.  For example, we all heard about the democrat minimum wage increase being passed.  No surprise there.  However, I was floored to learn that 82 House Republicans voted for the measure as well, including a good number from our own state.  See the full list here.

It is going to be a really long two years if we have that many Republicans in the House that are willing to go along with the half-brained economic agenda the democrats are pushing.

January 09, 2007

Romney Establishes a Dominating Fundraising Lead

2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney held a fundraiser today.  It was called the "National Call Day."  I'd expect a few more of these, from Romney and the other candidates because Romney raised over 6.5 MILLION dollars.  Unbelievable.  Estimates have McCain at 2 million and Giuliani at 1 million.  The "frontrunners" now have much work to do to show that they can keep up.

Continue reading "Romney Establishes a Dominating Fundraising Lead" »

January 04, 2007

Feeney Pays Treasury for Trip and Liberal Sharks Come Out to Feed

Even a the possibility of impropriety by a Republican and the liberal sharks come out to feed; St. Pete Times:  Feeney's Scotland jaunt broke rules; Miami Herald:  Lobbyist's largesse costs congressman.

The short story is that Rep. Tom Feeney has agree to pay $5,643 to the US Treasury for a trip he took to Scotland which Feeney believed was paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research but may have been paid for by Jack Abramoff.  If you read the review at FLA Politics, you'd think Rep. Tom Feeney had gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  But if you take the time to read the statement by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for the House you'll notice that there is much more to the story.

Continue reading "Feeney Pays Treasury for Trip and Liberal Sharks Come Out to Feed" »

December 28, 2006

Massachusetts Legislature Continues to Violate Massachusetts Constitution

Here's the background story:

The people of Massachusetts start an initiative for an amendment to their state constitution.  They secure the required number of signatures to submit the amendment, but the amendment never makes it to the ballot.  Why? Because in Massachusetts before the amendment is placed on the ballot it must be approved by the legislature.  But the amendment doesn't make it to the ballot because the legislature voted against the amendment, it fails to proceed because the legislature simply refuses to acknowledge that the amendment even exists.  This is the current status of the Marriage Amendment in Massachusetts where the state legislature, in direct violation of their duties under the state constitution, are refusing to call a vote on whether the amendment should proceed to the ballot.

Frustrated with the legislatures failure to perform their job, a lawsuit was filed by several individuals, including Governor Mitt Romney, requesting that a court order be issued requiring the legislature to take a vote on the matter before the end of session on January 2, as required by the Constitution.

Yesterday the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts released their opinion in Doyle v. Secretary of the Commonwealth addressing this matter.

The opinion, which I agree with, ultimately concludes that the Court has no power to order the legislature to abide by the requirements of the state constitution.  If only we saw such textualist opinions out of Massachusetts courts more often.

However, the Court does note that under the requirements of the state constitution that the legislators should vote, and if they do not, they should be held accountable by the electorate.

"The members of the General Court [the legislature] are the people's elected representatives, and each one of them has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth. Those members who now seek to avoid their lawful obligations, by a vote to recess without a roll call vote by yeas and nays on the merits of the initiative amendment (or by other procedural vote of similar consequence), ultimately will have to answer to the people who elected them."

Does anyone else find it odd that those supporting same-sex marriage, a movement which claims it only seeks to provide equal rights to all, resort to tactics such as this which clearly violate the law and rights of individuals under the Massachusetts Constitution to seek a constitutional amendment through an initiative process?

Romney's Response to Questions on His Past Positions

Last week I observed that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney needed a strong response to the many questions about his past positions on abortion and same-sex marriage or he would already begin to lose Conservative support.  Not that I had anything to do with it, but the Romney camp appears to have crafted just such a response, which is essentially, "Look at my record."

In a Human Events Online interview released today, Romney is questioned on these two issues.  He of course explained his change of heart on abortion, but ultimately said his record speaks for itself.

On abortion:

"As governor, I’ve had several pieces of legislation reach my desk, which would have expanded abortion rights in Massachusetts. Each of those I vetoed. Every action I’ve taken as the governor that relates to the sanctity of human life, I have stood on the side of life.

  So talk is cheap, but action is real. And people can now look at my record."

On same-sex marriage:

"...I am adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage.

I’ve been to Washington to testify in favor of traditional marriage. I’ve written a letter to every U.S. senator on the topic. I’ve fought same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in every way I could within the bounds of the law."

It is an effective response and I predict it will be enough to sway many Conservatives who are typically impressed by action rather than talk.  We've learned the hard way that too many supposed Conservatives will give lip service to the issues and then do nothing to advance the cause of Conservatism once in office...  I won't name names.

The interview also addresses Romney's view of Ronald Reagan, his position on the flat tax and Fair Tax, and his thoughts on the possibility of expanding the Massachusetts health care system nation-wide.  What the interview reveals, more than anything, is Romney's sensitivity to the political pulse of the country, and his desire to fully analyze the nations problems before prescribing ill-conceived solutions.  It is this combination of political aptitude and  business-like evaluation of the issues that allowed him to achieve such success as a Conservative Republican in one of the most liberal states in the country.  Those same qualities will provide the basis for his appeal to moderates while standing firm on Conservative principles.

But there remain questions.  The most complete collection of allegations against Romney's Conservatism have been collected by Mass Resistance in The Mitt Romney Deception.  It is enough to keep Conservatives, including myself wary of Romney's past, but when you look at his record, it is tough not to like him as a candidate.

 

December 27, 2006

Hot Topic: Florida's Ban on Adoption By Homosexuals

The recent announcement of Mary Cheney's (daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney) pregnancy has once again ignited the debate over parenting by same sex couples.  Florida, with our statutory ban on adoption by homosexuals is on the front lines of that debate.  Illustrating that point liberals over at FLA Politics are calling for Governor-elect Charlie Crist to repeal the ban as a demonstration that Crist is committed to his recent pledge to support and expand adoption in our state. 

This is an issue that has been driving liberals bonkers for some time now.  They are further ignited by the fact that while Florida bans adoption by homosexuals, it allows homosexuals to serve as foster parents.  They claim this is a discrepancy that must be resolved, and one that should be resolved in favor of the rights of homosexuals.  The argument fails for the following reasons:

1.  There is no discrepancy.  As the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals explained in a very well reasoned and well written opinion in Lofton v. Secretary of the Dept. of Children and Family Services (via Findlaw), it is reasonable to expect different standards for foster parents and adopting parents because, guess what, foster care and adoption are two different things.  One is meant to be temporary and one is meant to be permanent.  Of course, the proponents of adoption by homosexuals argue that while foster care is meant to be temporary, in some cases it is not.  As in the case of Lofton, the foster parent had custody of foster children for many years.  So what is the solution here?  Ensuring that the foster care system functions as it should and that temporary placements of children are just that, temporary.  Advocates of adoption by homosexuals argue that opening adoption to homosexuals will help achieve that goal.  Certainly, allowing more people to adopt would mean more adoptions.  But this ignores the fact that...

2.  The purpose of adoption is to advance the best interest of children, not the rights of adults.  Florida law requires that adoptions meet the "best interest of the child" standard.  This is why not just anyone can adopt, and as the Court explained in Lofton, why homosexuals cannot adopt.  Like it or not, the foundation our state's adoption program is that there are some family structures which provide for a superior upbringing than others.  Until there is undeniable proof that homosexuals are able to provide the same stable environment with consistency that is offered by the traditional family, the state cannot allow children to be adopted by homosexuals.  Now you can cite all kinds of studies and examples saying just that, but the fact is that there are just as many studies and arguments on the other side, and until it is conclusive that the state's presumption is wrong, the standard must stay.  To allow anything else is tantamount to subjecting Florida's children to a social experiment to determine if  anti-traditional homes cause harm.

3.  As a result, the solution to any alleged discrepancy between the foster care system and the adoption system in Florida is to ban homosexuals from serving as foster parents as well.  The best interest of the child standard must be the centerpiece to this system and because we cannot deviate from that standard the only reasonable way to bring the foster care system and adoption system into uniformity on the issue of homosexual parents is prevent homosexuals from becoming foster parents.

This isn't about your rights.  This isn't about what the government will or won't allow you to do.  This is strictly about what is in the best interest of the child. 

Opponents react that Florida law allows unmarried individuals to adopt, and because of this exception to the target of the traditional family that other exceptions must be allowed.  This is silly, of course.  The Legislature has deemed it necessary to make an exception, one that, granted, is not optimal for the child.  This is where we see the balance of practicality and idealism in the system.  With so many children up for adoption and not enough traditional families adopting other alternatives must be pursued.  However, a line must be drawn.  As the Court in Lofton observed, adoption by a single heterosexual still provides the opportunity for the child to end up in a traditional family setting.  Adoption by homosexuals almost necessarily bars that opportunity.  So the exception is made, and the line is drawn, with a focus on what best serves the interest of the child.

I can do nothing but completely support Governor-elect Crist's new campaign to bring a renewed effort to providing good homes for Florida's many children in need of adoption and his dedication to uphold the current standards in our adoption system.  I hope that you too will stand by our state's commitment to seek out the best interest of every unadopted child and will also consider participating in that system and dedicating yourself to provide not only a good home, but a positive, traditional and moral upbringing for a child in need.  As an individual who's life and family have been touched and forever changed for good by adoption I can attest that there are few more honorable causes in our world today and even fewer with such long-lasting results.

December 22, 2006

Democrats Raise Money For Convicted Felon

Time for a pop-quiz.  It will be self-graded, so you are on the honor system (which works with Conservatives).

1.  If a Republican government official is convicted of a felony, democrats respond by:

A.  Looking the other way.
B.  Gathering their top leadership together to host a fundraiser for his next election campaign.
C.  Stomping, screaming, shouting and demanding that this corrupt official step-down or be removed from office.

Answer:  C

2.  If a democrat government official is convicted of a felony, democrats respond by:

A.  Looking the other way.
B.  Gathering their top leadership together to host a fundraiser for his next election campaign.
C.  Stomping, screaming, shouting and demanding that this corrupt official step-down or be removed from office.

(Hint: Read the post title)

Answer: B

The invitations have been sent out for a fundraiser to help Siplin in his 2008 reelection to the Florida Senate with minority leader Steve Geller as one of the hosts.

Now, I understand that Siplin's conviction is pending appeal, and the Senate is waiting on that ruling before deciding whether to allow him to stay and so he is allowed to stay in the Senate.  But you have to wonder if a Republican would be given the same grace.  If there is any doubt, let me assure you, the answer is no.

With as much as they talk about the "culture of corruption" on the Republican side, it always amazes me that democrats are completely unwilling to hold any of their own accountable for their actions.

December 21, 2006

Romney v. Brownback

All the action in speculating who will be the 2008 Republican candidate for president seems to be swirling around Governor Mitt Romney.  I hope you, the reader, won't interpret the attention I've given him as some sort of endorsement, though I believe he is probably the best hope for Conservatives, and as I've said before, I like him as a candidate.  I like to go where the action is, and the action right now in the 2008 guessing game is on Romney's doorstep.

While the Boston Globe and others in the drive-by media have taken some weak and ineffective shots at Romney, there is a ton of substantive criticism already lining up against Romney in Conservative circles.  Over at Redstate and eyeon08.com there has been much discussion of Romney's past positions on Conservative issues; abortion in particular.  Today eyeon08.com presents that Romney was opposed to the Contract With AmericaHuman Events has an article today on Romney's criticisms of Jesse Helms in 1994.  The conclusion by many is simply that Romney is a liar and will do whatever it takes to get elected.  On top of that, the Human Events guide to the 2008 candidates explains that Romney has appointed liberals to the judiciary in his state.  That scares me.

If Romney wants to be the Conservative candidate of choice, he is going to have to do alot of explaining.  That could simply involve an "I was really wrong, but look at my recent record," but whatever it is, he needs an official statement about these issues, and fast.  These issues wouldn't be so pressing if Brownback hadn't already announced his exploratory committee, but since he has Conservatives are already choosing sides.  And we Conservatives are incredibly loyal.

Romney's past positions are going to haunt him throughout the primary, and candidates like Brownback are going to take full advantage of it.  But Romney has a perfect opportunity to address the quandary with his anticipated January announcement of his exploratory committee.  He has the chance to come out of the gates by confronting those concerns, admitting he was on the wrong side of the issues in the past, and committing himself to the core principles of Conservatives.

On the other side, Brownback needs to demonstrate that he has the energy and the passion to inspire the Republican base.  I really like Brownback, and I'm with him on most issues, but I'm just not sure he has the personality to win even the primary.  Further, put him up against Hillary and/or Obama and you've got a major problem.  His support of campaign finance reform and McCain's immigration bill will also be points of contention.

My guess at this point is that Conservatives are going to have to pick between Brownback and Romney as far as serious, legitimate candidates.  And many Conservatives are likely to make that choice in the next several months and stick to it.

As a side note, to those readers wondering about potential candidates like Tancredo and Huckabee, they have much to prove before they even have a prayer, and I just don't see them as legitimate possibilities.  Gingrich is waiting in the wings, and should he decide to run, he has the potential to give everyone a run for their money.

UPDATE:  Romney has picked up Conservative hot shot George Marx who will be a tremendous asset in selling Romney to Conservatives.

December 20, 2006

Christmas Thoughts on Conservatism

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in the coming days, it is an excellent time to examine our hearts, what we believe in, what we desire to be and the ways we can carry that out in our daily lives.  In that spirit Terence Jeffrey, editor of Human Events has compiled 10 Principles of Conservatism for us to ponder.  It is one of the most succinct, yet complete explanation of the core beliefs of a Conservative that I have ever seen.  You can click the link above for th full article or see the list by clicking the continue link below.  Enjoy!

Continue reading "Christmas Thoughts on Conservatism" »

December 19, 2006

More on Mitt

A little under one month ago in my first evaluation of possible Republican candidates for President in 2008 I shared my  thoughts on why Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney might be the best possible option.  It has been intriguing to watch the reaction of both Republicans and the media as the Mitt pre-campaign gains momentum. 

There have been many questions about Romney's apparent change of positions on various issues over the course of his political career.  As you know, for Republicans, being labeled a "flip-flopper" is the kiss of death.  The major newspapers in Boston even seem to have stepped up their normal share of anti-Romney stories, even writing a hit piece on the lawn care company which tended to Romney's home and had illegal immigrants on its staff.  Romney hired the company, the company hired illegals, therefore Romney opposes halting illegal immigration regardless of whether he knew of the illegals or not; this is the conclusion the media has tried to lead you to.  It makes perfect sense in the liberal mind where reason and logic have long been stamped out.  Sidenote: Romney recently met this criticism with a new state program to step up enforcement of immigration laws.

Some Republicans have even jumped on board.  Over on the front page of RedState there is a post calling Romney a clown, despite the fact that the author, Mark Kilmer, claims he's not a "Mitt-Basher."

It is all politics as usual and none of it is really surprising, except for the amount of attention, whether good or bad, that is being drawn to Romney.  McCain and Giuliani definitely started the process with the most name recognition, but Romney has quickly become the leading Conservative candidate, and if you've been listening to talk radio at all lately, you've probably heard him referenced as the candidate to beat.

As we begin to move into the first leg of the campaign of 2008 in January, I think you are going to find more and more conversation about Romney.  And as that conversation takes places, Conservatives are going to be excited about Romney's record on Conservative issues, and moderates impressed with his leadership ability.  Can he win?  It is too early to tell, but barring any campaign disaster it seems that Romney will be the most difficult obstacle for McCain or Giuliani. 

December 15, 2006

Florida Senator Tries to Make Nice With Syria

By this point most of you have probably read or heard about our very own Senator Nelson's trip to Syria to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad.  This is the first of many mixed signals that Syria and Iran will be receiving from our government as a result of the Iraq Study Group Report's insane recommendation that we make nice with the two nations and encourage their influence in Iraq.  The State Departments has essentially refused to engage with Syria until there is a demonstrated effort to cease  attempts to throw the Middle East into chaos through the support and harboring of terrorists.

But Senator Nelson just wants to make nice. 

Continue reading "Florida Senator Tries to Make Nice With Syria" »

November 30, 2006

Lunch with Senator Martinez

Seantor Mel Martinez was back home in Orlando today and I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a luncheon this afternoon.  Everyone I spoke to, regardless of political persuasion, was impressed.  I really think he will serve us well as the RNC General Chair.

It was also a special time as Senator Martinez was honored by Liz Foshee, an attorney in Orlando, for the critical role Senator Martinez played in helping bring her mother, Cuc Foshee, home after she was arrested and imprisoned for 13 months without charges after speaking out against the Vietnamese government.

The Senator reiterated his positions on the war, immigration, judicial nominees and also mentioned his nomination to become the General Chair of the Republican Party.  He said being offer the Chairmanship of the RNC is like being offered the offensive coordinator position with his beloved Florida State Seminoles.  He added "There is nowhere to go but up."  On that note, he shared with us a promise he made upon accepting the nomination, that although he is excited about the chairmanship, Florida will always be first on his list of priorities.

I don't agree with the Senator on all of his political views, immigration in particular, but there is no doubt in my mind that he loves our state and our nation and will work relentlessly to improve both.  I think everyone in attendance today could agree on at least that much.  With his presentation abilities he will be an effective general chair for the Republican Party and with his Conservative values and his heart for the people of this state and this nation he will continue to serve us well in the Senate.

November 14, 2006

Advice to Conservatives on Mel Martinez RNC Chairmanship: Chill Out

In the wake of the news that Mel Martinez will likely become the general chair of the Republican National Committee the Conservative blogosphere has exploded.  Conservatives are angry that Michael Steele or just about anyone else was not chosen.  I have to admit, that even I was frustrated at first by the choice.  But let's all calm down, take a breath and look at the facts before we make any decisions about abandoning the party, as many Conservative bloggers are threatening to do. 

Read the rest...

Continue reading "Advice to Conservatives on Mel Martinez RNC Chairmanship: Chill Out" »

November 13, 2006

Jeb would be better

As either Chairman or Senator. I'd be happier either way.

Ditto for this job.

powered by performancing firefox

The End of Conservatism?

In the aftermath of the loss of both Houses of Congress, Republicans are busy trying to understand what went wrong.  Most of the conclusions I have read have centered on the idea of Conservatism; that these losses were due to either too much or too little Conservatism.  Many fiscal Republicans have alleged that the losses were due to the failure of a platform based on Conservative principles and have called for the party to move towards the center.  Most of the Republican analysis on the losses, however, has concluded that it was the failure of Republican politicos to live and govern by those principles that caused the loss.  It seems to me that the most plausible explanation is the latter for reasons I've stated numerous times before; Americans are by far a traditional people who support traditional notions of family and government and country and when Republicans advocate for those values they win.  Republicans failed, not Conservatism.  With that in mind I've looked past the fiscal Republican and liberal and drive-by-media claims of the failure of Conservatism.

However, there is a new line of criticism against Conservatism which has many Republicans questioning whether Conservative ideology is what loses elections.  An example is seen in the scathing attack on Conservatism as an ideology that was published today by Joseph Farah of Worldnetdaily.com.  In his article "Conservatism's Death Throes?" Farah argues that Conservatism as an ideology is doomed.  I've heard more and more discussion of this idea in recent days, but allow me to assure you, as long as the heart of the American people continue to defend traditional values Conservatism will continue to hold massive influence over American politics.

Read on...

Continue reading "The End of Conservatism?" »

November 10, 2006

What Liberals and the Media Aren't Telling You About the Arizona Marriage Protection Vote

If you've followed the media's coverage of the state ballot initiatives nation-wide you would think that Conservatives lost on every measure.  We've discussed the spin on the South Dakota abortion ban vote below.  We've also discussed the huge victory for marriage protection amendments but rather than acknowledge this success the media and liberals have focused on the rejection of the ban in Arizona; the first loss by such an amendment.

But you've not been told the full story.

First, there has not been much discussion of the margin.  The current margin stands at 51.4% against and 48.6% in favor; a difference of 32,226 votes.  Thats alot of votes right?

Second, we also have not heard about the fact that the driving force behind the amendment, the Center for Arizona Policy, has not acknowledged the loss.  Why?  Because as the Arizona Secretary of State estimated, there are about 350,000 ballots that have not yet been counted.

The margin will be close, but this could go either way.  It is expected that it will take about 2 weeks to finish counting the ballots.  If about 60% of those ballots are in favor of the amendment, Arizona will be State number 28 to pass a marriage amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.  But liberals and the drive-by-media are too busy hailing this as a milestone defeat against the pro-marriage movement to be bothered by the facts.

November 09, 2006

What Liberals Don't Want You To Know About the South Dakota Abortion Ban Vote

(Note:  This post began as a comment to a posting by Mr. Hussey over at Pushing Rope.  As an aside, I think Mr. Hussey is probably the sharpest democrat on the Florida blogosphere.)

If you have been paying attention to the MSM and liberal blogs on the rejection of the South Dakota abortion ban by voters you've probably been left with the impression that this was a huge, shocking defeat for the Pro-Life movement.  After all, if the measure failed in such a staunch Conservative state as South Dakota, a state that any liberal will tell you is the toughest place in the country to get an abortion (they have one abortion clinic), how could they expect the rest of the country to support banning abortion?

As usual, the MSM and liberal gloss over the issue doesn't paint a fair picture of reality.  I submit for your consideration three factors which you likely won't hear many other places:

You know you want to read more...

Continue reading "What Liberals Don't Want You To Know About the South Dakota Abortion Ban Vote" »

November 08, 2006

Republicans Come Running Back to Conservatives

After last night's losses the Republican leadership is doing exactly what they always do in the face of loss; running back to Conservatives.  The big headline on the main GOP site today reads "Recommitting Our Party to Conservative Reform."  Chairman Ken Mehlman making the rounds on the morning news promoted his list of three post-election priorities for the party; "first and foremost" was rededicating the party to Conservative principles.  The other two were finding bipartisan common ground with democrats and clearing the taint of corruption. 

The renewed dedication to Conservatives is not a shocking move, but it is one which will be criticized by pundits of every stripe.  Conservatives have reason to be upset and to question the depth of this revitalized dedication.  "Oh, so now you come crawling back after 6 years of feeding us scraps from the table?"  There has been a renewed discussion recently about how the Republican party simply "uses" Conservatives; Evangelicals in particular.  I expect that conversation will expand even more and the common opinion will be that Republicans again just want to use Conservatives to regain control.  But before my fellow Conservatives begin to scorn this idea I'd like to ask the following question:

So what?

Read on...

Continue reading "Republicans Come Running Back to Conservatives" »

Mr. G's Election Reaction

Congratulations to the democrats on their success in gaining support of the House.  It looks like it will be a few days until we know which way the Senate goes because it will require a Virginia recount.  There ave not been any real surprises other than the fact that Britney Spears and Kevin Federline filed for divorce. Speaking of Marriage:

Get more goodness after the jump...

Continue reading "Mr. G's Election Reaction" »

November 02, 2006

democrat Gains Not so Impressive?

You know those big, impressive, potential democrat gains everyone is talking about?  Chairman Ann argues that in the light of history, those predicted gains really aren't very impressive at all.  In fact, she argues that the current numbers are further proof that the democrat party is on its way out.  Definitely a must read.

October 30, 2006

democrats Change Their Tune on Negron/Foley Notices

On Friday the First District Court of Appeal reversed the decision by a Circuit Court Judge to prohibit signs in polling placing informing voters of the Negron/Foley change.  The notices proposed by the Division of Elections may go up.  The well reasoned opinion by my friend Judge Wolf provided the comprehensive review of the Florida Election Code which the Circuit Court lacked.  But the decision isn't what I have found interesting, it has been the response by democrats.

On the Florida democratic Party website you will find this release:

"The Florida Democratic Party accepts the court's ruling, which distinguishes between the wrongful partisanship of the Secretary of State and the nonpartisan recommendation of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

"We thank the court for ruling on the case expediently.  We will not appeal."

The impression that democrats are now trying to leave you with is that they weren't opposed to the idea of the notices, just the first notice proposed by the Secretary of State which would only have Negron and Foley's names listed, and not the other candidates in the race.  But that simply isn't true.

The original pleading filed by the Florida democratic Party and Karen Thurman as the chair was filed two days after the Division of Elections clarified that the notices should include all of the candidates names.  Further, in the actual pleading itself they specifically cite the revised notice, including the names of all of the candidates, and claim that it is a violation of the Florida Election Code.  The first attack they made was not against the initial proposition by the Secretary of State, it was against the very notice that the First District ruled was valid.  They weren't opposed to only the proposed notice with only the Republican names, they were opposed to any notice which would allow voters to make an informed decision.

Joe Negron's opponent, Tim Mahoney now says:

"I want to have an uncontested election." and "I'm fine with the court's decision."

Really?  This is the same guy who called the Circuit Court decision a "victory for Florida voters."  Wouldn't a reversal of that "victory" be a loss for voters?

Don't be fooled by the rhetoric, the democrat party was completely opposed to those efforts aimed at informing voters of the Negron/Foley change because the status quo presented them with an advantage.  Despite the change in tune, this was never about preventing bias as Thurman claims, or protecting voters as Mahoney claimed, this was strictly about preventing people from voting for a Republican candidate.

October 28, 2006

Florida Supreme Court Justices Once Again Trample On Florida Constitution

In an opinion released yesterday Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince once again demonstrated that they are willing to side-step that pesky Florida Constitution whenever it stands in the way of an opinion they want to release.  As I said last week, these three Justice have earned your vote against their retention on the Supreme Court.

Like the other two branches of government, the judiciary has checks on its power.  Under the Florida Constitution one of the major checks on the Florida Supreme Court's powers is that it can only review certain cases.  This prevents the Court from simply deciding whatever issue it feels like addressing on a particular day.  In fact, our state constitution is very specific in listing the types of cases the Supreme Court can review.  One type of case the Court can review is when one District Court of Appeals (the level of courts below the Florida Supreme Court) releases an opinion in conflict with another District Court or a Florida Supreme Court decision.  The case may then be appealled to the Florida Supreme Court to resolve the discrepancy.

Which leads us to the Court's decision in American Wall System, Inc. v. Madison International Group, Inc. released yesterday.  This case was appealled from the Fifth District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court wanted to reverse the lower court's decision.  There was only one problem, the case did not conflict with another District Court or Supreme Court decision and as a result, the Florida Supreme Court did not have the jurisdiction necessary to review the case.  But the Florida Constitution never stopped these judges before, so why should it now?  In order to review the case, the majority (Anstead, Lewis, Pariente and Quince) sat on the appeal for more than a half of a year until they finally released another opinion which did conflict with the case.  Suddenly, they had a conflict, created by them, which provided technical grounds for an appeal.

As Justice Cantero explains in his dissent (signed onto by Justices Bell and Wells), the majority simply manipulated the system, and as usual, ignored the language of the Florida Constitution, so that they could release the opinion they wanted to release.

Folks, this a quintessential activist judge maneuver.  A tactic that demonstrates that these judges have no respect for the role of the Courts, no respect for the sanctity of the judicial system, no respect for the limitations on their roles under the Florida Constitution and no respect for the people whose rights that Constitution was designed to protect.

Justices Anstead, Lewis, Pariente and Quince sent a clear message this week; they intend to hand down whatever opinion they want to and they are not going to let any pesky constitutional framework stand in the way of that goal.

Tell Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince that our Constitution is too important to be trampled by activist judges who have an agenda.  Floridians deserve better. Vote No on the retention of Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince.

October 26, 2006

Charlie Crist is Gay... again

I hesitate to post this, and I have no time to talk about it, but the gay rumor has finally hit the wires in this election cycle.

It feels like a hit job to me, and I suspect this Jason Weatherington kid is actually gay and telling lies to seem important. One thing is for sure, he won't be be workign in a Crist administration.

I don't personally think there is enough time for this rumor to impact the race in terms of vote totals in smaller markets, so unless there is a ten point swing in a majority of th emajor markets then this allegation will only tighten the race, not lose it for Crist. I predict Crist still wins but the margin will be more like 2%.

Talk amongst yourselves.

October 24, 2006

Mr. G's Ballot Recommendations - Part 3 - Amendments 1, 6 and 7

Amendment 1:

The State of Sunshine has the analysis you need on Amendment 1 which revises the State planning and budget process.

I'll add to their commentary that this amendment does nothing that cannot be accomplished by the legislature without a constitutional amendment.  Further, it creates yet another government agency to perform the job of what an already existing agency (Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability - OPPAGA) should be doing.  I'm glad to see that there is an effort to get the state's finances in order and to do some long term budget planning, but more government and restricting the Legislature's ability to adapt the system in the future seems both unwise and unnecessary.

Mr. G agrees with The State of Sunshine, vote NO on Amendment 1.

And lest you think I'm lazy for simply signing onto The State of Sunshine's analysis of the amendments, I'll finish out the remaining amendments.

Amendment 4:
Amendment 4 would require 15% of Florida's Tobacco Settlement money each year to go to programs and advertising aimed at educating kids on the hazards of tobacco use.  This will be approximately $57 million dollars per year, adjusted annually for inflation.  The amendment stems from a broken promise made by legislators to provide funding for these programs, which now receive about $1 million per year.  I can understand the frustration of the anti-smoking groups and why they resorted to the amendment.  However, I also understand that government is most effective when it serves a limited role.  This amendment not only requires government to step into a role that they need not fill,  but also means that $57 million will be diverted from elsewhere in the budget.  That money should be spent on necessary government services or put towards lowering taxes.  Further, while it is certainly understandable why the anti-smoking groups would resort to a constitutional amendment to force the legislature into action, I can't support the way this measure would permanently bind the legislature to this expenditure.

The Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald encourage you to vote no as well.  The Palm Beach Post argues that the which would be funded are effective and would save lives.

Mr. G says vote NO on Amendment 4 and instead tell your kids they are grounded if they start smoking cigarettes.

Amendments 6 and 7:
These two amendments reduce property taxes for disabled veterans and the low-income elderly.  Amendment 6 increases the homestead exemption $50,000 for a total of $75,000 for those over 65 with a household income under $20,000.  Amendment 7 provides a property tax discount to veterans, over the age of 65, who were permanently disabled in combat and honorably discharged.  The amount of the discount would be the same percentage as the percentage of total disability of the veteran.  Amendment 6 is projected to cost local governments $36 million per year, but also requires the approval of the local government to implement.  Amendment 7 is projected to cost local governments $20 million per year and is self implementing.   

I was a little torn over these two.  I love tax cuts, but we can do better than this.  We have a major crisis with property taxes in our state right now.  Cutting taxes for select groups will mean a raise in property taxes on others.  We need a viable solution to the crisis that provides relief to the entire state.  We can begin by weeding out programs like the one proposed in Amendment 4.

The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission will review Florida's tax system within the next year, and will hopefully provide some real solutions.  Everyone needs property tax relief right now, so let's fix the bigger problem rather than trying to put a band-aid on a major wound.

The Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald encourage you to vote no on Amendment 6.

The Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald encourage you to vote no on Amendment 7.

Mr. G agrees, vote NO on Amendments 6 and 7.

For those of you keeping score at home, Mr. G recommends that you vote NO on every amendment.

October 23, 2006

Post Senate Debate Analysis

My first thought at the end of the debate was that there were no real surprises.  But then I remembered all of the media exposure Katherine Harris has gotten over the last several months.  If you've been reading the papers and the blogs the impression that we've been left with is that Harris is unhinged; that she could snap at any moment.  Those of us who have had the opportunity to meet her or see her speak know that she is articulate, collected and well presented.  And that is exactly what we saw tonight.  She was confident and composed despite tha fact that it would take a miracle for her to actually win the race.  The debate was boring, but I was impressed with the way Harris carried herself.

Mrs. G also made me promise that I would share with you my first comment at the end of Senator Nelson's closing statement:

"We really need to send that guy back into space."

Mr. G says, vote for Katherine Harris.

Mr. G's Ballot Recommendations - Part 2 - Amendments 3 and 8

In this next installment of my recommendations for your vote I was going to begin addressing the six proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, but The State of Sunshine beat me to it.  They have done an excellent job and their analysis is a must read.  So far I agree with them:

No on Amendment 3 - Requiring Broader Support for Constitutional Amendments or Revisions.

No on Amendment 8 - Revising Eminent Domain Takings Requirements

Additionally, I recommend to you Vote Smart Florida which provides an unbiased review of each of the proposed amendments.

October 20, 2006

Mr. G's Ballot Recommendations - Part 1

This will be the first of a series of posts with my recommendations for your vote in the upcoming state election.  Those of you who have already done your research, or have already received your absentee ballot know that there is much more on the ballot than the high profile races we see on TV.  All to often I hear from folks that they were surprised by something on the ballot and didn't know how to vote.  I want to help you avoid that experience. 

For the first installment I'd like to address an issue which will be on everyone's ballot throughout the state, but few people will think about before they get into the voting booth:  Supreme Court Justice Retention.

How does judicial retention work?
Under the Florida Constitution (Article V, Section 10), every 6 years Supreme Court Judges and District Court of Appeal judges are put on the ballot with the following question:

"Shall Justice (or Judge) (name of justice or judge) of the (name of the court) be retained in office?"

If a majority says yes, they stay.  If a a majority says no, they vacate their seat on the Court.

Who will be on the ballot?
This year, three Justices will be up for a retention voe.  Justice Barbara Pariente, Justice R. Fred Lewis, and Justice Peggy Quince.

Mr. G's Recommendations:

Allow me to preface my recommendation with the fact that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for each of these three individuals.  I've had the chance to meet each of them and they are as impressive in person as their individual resumes describe.  However, being an impressive person does not guarantee that someone will be a good judge.

With that said, I recommend that you vote not to retain any of the three.  The fact of the matter is that these three are judicial activists with no clear method of decision-making.  I won't bore you with the details as I have before (here and here). 

Now, am I saying every opinion they write or sign on to is bad?  Not at all.  Many, if not most of their decisions I agree with.  However, when the big cases hit the steps of the Florida Supreme Court I always cringe because the Court, and these three in particular, have such a high likelihood of screwing things up.  Two examples:

Gore v. Harris - Remember that little case over the recount in the 2000 election?  The decision in that case was 4 in favor, three against.  The United States Supreme Court reviewed the decision commented numerous times on the Florida Supreme Court's inability to read and apply the Florida Election Code and ultimately overturned the decision.  The Florida Supreme Court's decision was a disgrace, not because of the result of their decision, but because of the terrible manner in which the majority reached their conclusion.  Out of that majority of 4, three were Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince.

Bush v. Holmes - This was the recent high profile case over school vouchers.  Again, the decision is terrible, not because of the result, but because of the awful jurisprudence used in coming to a conclusion.  In essence, they fabricated new constitutional language to support their decision.  This 5-2 decision was written by Justice Pariente, and signed onto by both Justices Lewis and Quince.  I explain it in more detail here.

Just shortly after Holmes was released I pointed out a clear example of Justices Pariente and Quince demonstrating that they have no coherent way of making judicial decisions.

I once asked a judge who follows the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court very closely if he was able to discern any consistent system of decision-making from these three and Justice Anstead.  He laughed and told me that my guess was as good as his.

For far too long these Justices have stomped all over the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes.  Again, this is not something they do in every decision.  But in those big cases, you can predict with shocking accuracy that they will side with the left and concoct some crazy legal theory to support their decision.  Florida deserves better.  We deserve Justices who will respect the law and our Constitution and recognize the proper role of the judiciary like Justice Bell and Cantero (and sometimes Wells).

 

We deserve better.  Vote no on the retention of Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince.

 

October 19, 2006

Foley/Negron Ballot Decision

Today a Leon County judge ordered that a notice could not be put up in the 16th Congressional District informing voters that a vote for Mark Foley on the ballot would be construed as a vote for Joe Negron.

After reading the submissions to the Judge Janet Ferris and her ultimate ruling in the case I have collected some thoughts on the decision, and the intriguing timing of the democrat conviction about the "sanctity of the voting booth."  If you find the review of the opinion boring, skip on down to the "democrats" section

The Decision
Honestly, after my initial review of the decision I thought it was pretty well reasoned.  The strongest argument against the posting of the notice, as Judge Ferris points out is the fact that the legislature has not specifically authorized such a posting.  On the contrary, it directs that if there is a change in candidates after a specific time, the ballots are not to be changed.  Sounds reasonable, and it even a textualist argument.  But even under textualism, the answer is not always clear. 

The question is whether or the legislature has authorized the Supervisors of Elections to post such notices.  Judge Ferris says not because it is not explicitly expressed, but I think that it just might be.

Under the Florida Statutes, the Supervisors of Elections are given the responsibility of educating the public on how to vote.  Specifically, they are directed on providing instructions on the voting system.  Certainly, a change in the person a vote will be going to in a voting system without a change in the name on the ballot falls under the jurisdiction of a facet of the voting system.  But an argument can be made, and a reasonable one at that, that the candidate change does not effect the manner of voting.

The key is found in Section 101.031 of the Florida Statues, under the "Voter's Bill of Rights."  Here it says voter are entitled to "Written instructions to use when voting, and upon request, oral instructions on voting from election officials."  So oral instructions may be supplied when requested.  And written instructions do not need to be requested.  There is our answer. 

A voter can ask an poll worker, "Hey, I though Mark Foley was out of the race.  Why is his name still on the ballot?" and the poll worker can explain that the vote goes to Joe Negron.  That same instruction, under the Voter's Bill of Rights should be available, without instruction, in writing.

There are good arguments either way, but in making her decision, Judge Ferris seems to have relied upon one section of statute to the exclusion of all others.

And to be fair, some of the arguments submitted on the side of the notice were terrible as well.  But ultimately, the best argument supports the posting of the notice. 

Regardless, the decision is being appealed, so we can expect a 1st DCA decision, and possibly a Florida Supreme Court decision as well.  I'll be very interested in Justice Bell and Justice Cantero's view on the matter.

Democrats
What is even more interesting than the decision has been the democrat reaction.  The main claim in the media they have made is that posting the notice is showing favoritism to Republicans, and they have been vocal and adamant about it.  This is interesting for two reasons.

First, the notice lists the name of the democrat candidate as well.  Here is what the proposed notice looks like:

Notice_3










I didn't think the notice favored Republicans when I thought it would only have Foley and Negron's names on it.  But with this notice, how on earth does it favor anyone?  The Republican is listed first, so it is biased?  It is a silly argument from silly people.

Second, the timing is oh so intriguing.  The fact is, this is not a unique circumstance.  Pasco county is considering a similar notice because a candidate dropped out.  A South Florida Circuit Court Judge ordered that a similar notice be put up in a polling place informing voters not to vote for a candidate who was disqualified and listing the names of the other candidates.

Today, Negron's opponent Tim Mahoney called the ruling a "victory for Florida voters."  If the notice would be a loss for voters where was the statewide, loud democrat outcry we on these other two notice issues?  No, for the democrat leadership this isn't about winning for Florida's voters, this is about them winning.  And if confusion at the polls will give them an edge, they will defend it to the death.

You can find the text of the decision and other submissions to the Court here.

You can find the Florida Election Code here.

October 06, 2006

Illegal Immigration - Still a Problem, and Growing

Most of us have experienced both the nightmare and the reality that is a late night in a jammed emergency room.  But with the growing number of illegal immigrants emergency rooms are becoming more than just a single night’s bad experience.  In a report last year by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) it was estimated that illegal immigrants in the state of Florida are resulting in more than $165 MILLION a year in unpaid hospital care.  As a result of unpaid emergency care bills, many hospitals are creating free clinics in order to lower the cost of providing this GOVERNMENT MANDATED SERVICE. Yes, in case you are unfamiliar, most hospitals are required to provide emergency care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.  The result is the $25 aspirin that your insurance is charged.  Guess who those costs are passed down to?  That's right, you and me.

It comes down to us through insurance rates and through taxes.  About $910 MILLION in taxes used each year by the state to offset the annual $4.3 BILLION cost of providing education, health care, and incarceration for illegal immigrants in our state.  FAIR estimated that the cost to the average Floridian household per year for providing these services is $315.  That does not include the share passed down by illegal immigration on a national level.

But the problem is growing and will continue to get worse.  What will the solution be for the ever aging population of illegal immigrants as they reach an age of not being able to care for themselves?  With no Social Security/Medicare number they will they have no “safety net?”  Will they simply die in the street without aid?  Of course not.  The government will have to rush in to the rescue once again.  FAIR estimates that the current $4.3 BILLION dollar cost of illegal immigrants will balloon to over $8 BILLION within the next ten years.  Guess gets to pay that tab?

But FAIR’s numbers don’t take into account the cost of other government services.  As illegal’s are hired and employed we have no tax contribution.  That means the roads they use, the government services of fire, police and others all have greater burden but no contribution by these users. Guess who pays?

But we also have to consider the loss by Americans in wages.  We’ve all heard the argument that illegal aliens do the jobs that no one else will do.  So what happens if they are not there to do them?  Will we be left with no one to perform those jobs?  Will no one perform the labor and services currently performed by illegal aliens?  No.  The result will be that employers will simply have to pay more for these jobs to attract workers!  The jobs will still get done and good old US citizens will GET A RAISE!  That means more tax revenue and less whining about unlivable wages. Why aren’t the Democrats and the Unions screaming about this? Cheap scab labor from south of the border is keeping US workers from better wages!

The bottom line…good old Joe middle class gets to pay extra for all the government give away’s and illegal alien employers get a free subsidy from all of us!

Everyone benefits when we do it right. Will the costs for goods and services go up with higher wages? Absolutely, but not near as high as when we instead hire the government workers and health care providers to give BILLIONS of dollars away.  If we do it legally we might even get enough of a tax cut to cover the increase in costs for goods and services. (Forgive my moments of fantasy…government becoming so efficient as to cut taxes …what am I thinking?)

The rallies have died down, the issue isn't the hot topic it was a few months ago, but we must be diligent in demanding that our representatives and leaders:

1.  Close the border.
2.  Create a legal guest worker program.
3.  Require everyone to pay their fair share.

The madness must end and reason must be returned. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of delaying and playing politics rather than quickly moving to solve this problem.  Meanwhile, you and I get to pick up the several billion dollar bill.

October 05, 2006

Democrats Oppose Informed Vote

Once again, the party of "choice" is attempting to prevent voters from being able to make an informed decision.  The Florida Division of Elections has announced that it will place signs in voting booths informing voters that a vote for "Mark Foley" on the ballot will be counted as a vote for "Joe Negron."

Democrats are convinced that this is "favoritism" towards Negron and Republicans and constitutes campaigning in the voting booth.

...Seriously?

Folks, we have a problem.  The ballot says one name but the vote goes to another.  The Division of Elections has a responsibility to ensure that voters understand who they are voting for.  There will be no encouraging voters to vote one way or the other.  Rather, this clarification will help voters make an informed decision.

Now, I understand their frustration.  This helps eliminate the only real advantage they have in the race, voter confusion  Yet, isn't it ironic that the same group which was up in arms about "confusing ballots" in 2000 now seem to think that a confusing ballot is mandated by law.

The democrats in Florida have been running under a "putting Floridians first" banner.  But positions like this make it clear that the Florida democrat party is focused on putting democrats first.  They don't want the clarification because they know that if the people are able to make an informed vote, they will lose.

The democrats have said they will fight this effort and I'm sure the law suits will be filed by the end of the week.

October 04, 2006

Ongoing Victory for Traditional Marriage

A quick update on the status of the effort to preserve traditional marriage.

The great overall success in defending marriage has been largely ignored by the MSM, but take heart, this is a winning effort.

At this time there are twenty states which have adopted constitutional amendments defining and defending marriage:

Alabama
Alaska
Arkansas
Georgia
Hawaii
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Michigan
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma

There are six states with amendments on the ballot for the 2006 election:

Idaho
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Virginia
Wisconsin

This means that as of November, there is a good chance that over half of the states will have passed state constitutional amendments.

There are 41 States with statutory law defining or defending marriage.

There are only 6 states with no statutory or constitutional provisions protecting marriage.

See the breakdown here.

As for our own state, the Florida Supreme Court has already approved the language of a constitutional amendment and it is expected to be on the 2008 ballot.  Polling shows a majority of the state will support the amendment.  For information on how to support the amendment in our own state visit Florida 4 Marriage.

I haven't double checked his numbers, but Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council announced stated at the Value Voters Summit in D.C. a few weeks ago that in the states where constitutional amendments have been presented, on average, they are supported by 71% of voters.  The trend so far has been that when people are given the opportunity to vote, they have overwhelmingly stood with traditional marriage.

The harshest opposition to these amendments has been in the courts.  Isn't it odd that those who claim to be the defenders of freedom of choice are the ones fighting the hardest to keep these amendments from being voted on? 

Regardless, even in the courts, we are having great success.  Since this past July, the Alliance Defense Fund has been involved in 8 dealing with state marriage laws.  They have had success in all eight.

Ultimately, the highest goal is the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment which becomes more and more likely with each passing vote demonstrating that America stands by the principles of traditional marriage.

The Scandal Double Standard

Many commentators on the Foley scandal have observed the sharp difference between the impact of personal scandals on Republicans as opposed to democrats.  It has been noted that it seems Republicans often meet the end of their political careers over scandals, while democrats often live to govern another day.  Even the Washington Post noted this difference in the article The Redder They Are, the Harder They Fall.  The story of Representatives Studds from Massachusetts and Crane from Illinois has been the most pertinent example.  As the Post explains:

"The clearest illustration may be in the divergent outcomes of the cases against Crane (R) and Studds (D) in 1983. Both men were censured by the House for having sex with underage congressional pages -- Crane with a 17-year-old girl in 1980, Studds with a 17-year-old boy in 1973. Crane, of Illinois, apologized for his actions, while Studds, who declared he was gay, refused. Crane lost his reelection bid the next year; Studds, of Massachusetts, kept winning his seat until he retired in 1996."

Here Foley is caught in a similar scandal, though there has been no evidence of any actual sexual acts, and his political career is at an end.

The double standard has been criticized by many Republicans and Conservatives over the last few days, but honestly, I'm not disturbed by it one bit.

Fact is, as Republicans, we center our message on Family Values.  As Conservatives where derive our positions from strong moral convictions.  So when there is a violation of those values and convictions by one of our own leaders we should be the first in line to correct.  I'm not saying there is no room for forgiveness or that we shouldn't allow a leader who has stumbled the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and make amends.  However, we should expect our leaders to be held to a higher standard than the party of moral-relativity holds theirs.

Certainly, democrats and liberals take advantage.  When a Conservative or Republican stumbles they are labeled and hypocrite and democrats demand that they, the leadership above them, the staffers below them, and everyone they have ever encountered should apologize and pay for the mistake.  Of course, we should point out the double standard they apply, but we should not seek to lower our own standards or excuse bad behavior by our leadership simply because they do it, too.  We expect such behavior from their side.  And we should expect our leaders to strive for excellence and a political life that is above reproach. 

When we apply a stricter standard of conduct to our own leadership than the liberals apply to theirs, it tells me we are doing something right.

UPDATE:  As always, fantastic analysis and sarcasm from our beloved Ann.

"The Democrats say the Republicans should have done all the things Democrats won't let us do to al Qaida — solely because Foley was rumored to be gay. Maybe we could get Democrats to support the NSA wiretapping program if we tell them the terrorists are gay."

October 03, 2006

Conservatives in the Foley Aftermath

I the wake of the Foley scandal we've seen just about every possible reaction.  Everyone is trying to determine whether this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back for Republicans in the next election and liberals and democrats are trying their hardest to turn the issue into an indictment for the whole Republican Party.

But the harshest criticism, in my opinion, is coming not from liberals, but from Conservatives.  Yesterday, Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily.com released an article titled GOP Unworthy of Governing.   In the article Farah concludes that the handling of Foley by Republican leadership has demonstrated that they are unfit to lead the country.  But even before the Foley story broke, others Conservatives were considering the idea that Republicans losing might not be such a bad idea after all.  Jonah Goldberg wrote an article several weeks back hinting at the idea that maybe, just maybe, Republicans need to lose so that they can get their act together.  Farah and Goldberg are not alone.  Honestly, I've found myself seriously considering their position.

 

But, let me be clear.  At this point I don't agree with Farah and the liberals screaming that the Republican leadership positively knew what was going on with Foley and were just holding out until after the election.  I haven't seen anything that damning just yet, but I'll be just as upset as everyone else if it comes out that they did actually know.  I think there was definitely break down of communication and probably some staff knew more than they disclosed, but I don't know that this rises to the level of indicting the actual party leadership.

I also predict that this issue is not going to have much effect on a nation-wide scale.  It is going to hurt the chances of Republicans keeping Foley's seat, but keeping the seat is not out of the question depending on how the leadership handles itself over the next few months.

The biggest fall-out, I think is, and will continue to be, with Conservatives.  Conservatives who feel the opportunities our party has had over the last few years has been squandered.  Conservatives who have found themselves consistently questioning and at odds with party leadership.  Conservatives who are tired of seeing our party, and us along with them, dragged through the mud over a string of scandals.  Goldberg thinks change might not be so bad.  Farah thinks they've shown their inability to lead.  I was ready to sign on myself.

But yesterday I caught a portion of the Values Voters Summit on C-SPAN.  The segment I watched was a briefing on the national political scene led by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and my man Alan Sears of the Alliance Defense Fund.  At one point Dr. Dobson talked about the short comings of our party leadership.  About how even though "Value Voters" won the day in 2000 and 2004, the party has failed to adopt a Conservative agenda.  Despite all of the effort put in by Conservatives in the 2004 election, the party hadn't supported our mission.  He explained that because of these failures he didn't think he was going to make supporting Republicans a priority in upcoming elections.

But he then described a 2 week period he recently spent in Washington D.C. meeting with party and government leaders that changed his mind.  After meeting with these leaders he realized that even though our own party is in desperate need of some changes, the alternative to our party is so terrible that we have to fight for Republicans.

And he's right.

I know many of us Conservatives are unhappy with the state of our party, and we should work to improve it and put true Conservatives into positions of influence.  But in the meantime, we must realize that even thought our party has its flaws the alternative that the democrats present is far worse than our party on its worst day.

Don't lose heart.  There are some tough days ahead and it is tempting to just sit back and let the election take its course, but there is a real need, now more than ever, for Conservatives to stand by those who support us, and the party that presents the opportunity for the only opportunity for the defense and spread of Conservative ideals.  It may not be deserved, but the Republican party needs the renewed vigor of a Conservative base and I'll be the first to say that I stand with my party, the GOP.

October 02, 2006

Joe Negron to replace Mark Foley?

I couldn't think of anyone better.

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September 25, 2006

Battle in the Marketplace of Ideas

My favorite liberal blogger in Florida is Kenneth Quinnel.  He's a liberal, he is unashamed about it, and it shows in just about everything he writes.  He's so far to the left that I don't know that we will ever agree on anything except FSU Football.  But, I enjoy his posts because he epitomizes the liberal world view and normally gets a "I can't believe he actually wrote that" reaction from me.

On Friday, Mr. Quinnel put up a post, part of a continuing series of posts on democrat strategy for Florida, which gives a wish list of new strategy initiatives for Florida democrats.  There's alot to address here, but for now I'd like to touch on one point he makes which perfectly illustrates a major problem with democrat strategy and a strength of the Republican party. 

Mr. Quinnel begins his list with the idea of a "Progressive Think Tank" for Florida.  One of the reasons he wants this is:

"We need to counter the right-wing idea machine.  Their ideas aren't very good, but they do a great job of selling them to the voters and that's why they win. "

This is exactly where democrats so often go wrong; trying to sell their ideas. 

Now, I agree that there needs to be debate on the issues, and the parties need to communicate a message and a vision and how they intend to achieve their goals.  But, in my humble opinion, the strength of the Republican party is that it builds itself from commonly held standards of the electorate.  While democrats busy themselves trying to tell people what to think, the core of the Republican party is based on the values voters already hold.  Tax reform, national security, family values, etc.  These are the areas Republicans have drawn their strength from and success has come not from "selling" these principles to the nation, but because the Republican party has sided with the nation on the values we hold dear.

Granted, this is not always the case and there are many areas of policy where there are no commonly held values.  But those issues don't win elections.

What the democrat party really needs is not a better machine to sell ideas.  They need a change in leadership and platform that demonstrates to the American people and to Floridians that they side with the values we hold rather than asking us to side with theirs.

I understand the thought that "if we can just tell them they will understand."  And I've told people how to think in any number of posts.  But I doubt I've changed many minds other than helped some better understand a position they already held to be true. 

Republicans win not because we are more effective at getting people to agree with us.  We win because those people that vote already agree with us on the issues most important to them.

September 14, 2006

Thoughts: Davis picks Jones

Today, liberals all over Florida are heralding what a great pick Jones is for the Davis campaign.  I'll even admit, there is some well thought out strategy to the choice; damage control over one of Davis' big problems (the Lee/Pitts issue), race becomes an issue... well, more of an issue, he endorsed Rod Smith in the primary, showing Davis is "reaching out," and Jones seems to be an articulate fellow.

But despite these highlights, most Floridians will be left with the same response to Jones as they had to Kottkamp; "Who is this guy?"

Many are touting that he held down almost 12% of the primary vote for governor in 2002.  Big deal.  I could have gotten 12% of the democrat primary vote against McBride and Reno.  The fact of the matter is that the Davis camp is going to have to spend some time introducing Jones to much of the state.  Just as Crist will has to do with Kottkamp.  The difference is that Jones has a history that could cause some problems.  Whether you like it or not, agree with it or not, expect there to be much discussion about Jones' military history, the reasons he wasn't appointed secretary of the Air Force, etc.  Kottkamp is not the most dynamic pick for Crist, but I don't anticipate that he's going to rock the campaign boat at all. 

But let's suppose Jones is as fantastic of a pick as all the liberals say he is.  I'm sorry to tell my democrat friends that it still won't matter.  LG's don't win governors races.  Besides, who wants a governor that wins not because of who he is, but because of who his LG is?

September 13, 2006

Quote of the Week

Former Congresswoman Carrie Meek at Davis' apology rally:

"I know about these white folks. I know how they operate. I've been there. I've been in their smoke-filled rooms. And I know how they turn when they have to."

Can you imagine the fall-out if a white Republican made a similar comment?

Note:  Carrie Meeks is a Vice Chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

Crist Picks Kottkamp

Soon-to-be Governor Crist just announced his running mate; State Representative Jeff Kottkamp from Cape Coral.  The choice honestly surprised me because I'm not sure that it adds much to Crist's campaign.  Sure, Kottkamp is a Conservative and this will help shore up the Conservative base, but Conservatives would have voted for Crist anyways.  He adds little name recognition and he comes from an area Crist would likely win anyways.  Politically, I think there were better choices, but I'm just one man and Crist has had a whole team analyzing this for months.  But realistically, the LG pick, regardless of who it was, probably was not going to be determinative of the overall race anyways.

That said, I'm glad to see another Conservative in the mix.  Personally, the Kottkamp addition gets me a little more excited about the Crist campaign, so maybe there is something to this pick after all?

September 09, 2006

Democrats big problem with Davis

Race. Articles appearing in the media as early as Thursday began to reinforce a suspicion I had that the democrats weren't all on-board with the same agenda, and I don't think the problem lies entirely with Davis. Let me explain...

Continue reading "Democrats big problem with Davis" »

September 05, 2006

Post Election first thoughts

Congratulations to all the winners out there.

First thoughts? The margin on the Crist/Gallagher race is much larger than any polls I remember projecting. Maybe it's worth taking a look to figure out what the pollsters were smoking.

I'm thinking if Gallagher had better polling data from the beginning he would have never gone so far with this thing. I still think, as do many others, he would have killed Nelson in a Senate race. But losing by 30+ will end any fanciful notions of switching to the US Senate.

I'm not convinced Jim Davis has walked away with the Dem. nomination, but it does look like he will eventually pull out the victory. He'll appear very weak against an opponent that beat down a right wing challenger by 30+. There will be no chance of the dems framing Charlie as an out of control right wing extremist in the General Election; not that they have the money to do it anyway.

I'm excited to see Will McBride will do so well. We should see more of him in the future.

If Tom Lee had trounced Randy Johnson vis a vis Crist did Gallagher, I would predict a victory for him in November. But he didn't. And I won't. He'll get my vote, but if the GOP loses any seats this November it's the CFO seat.

That's all for now. I've already started wondering about who will be LG and I'm thinking the front runners now have to be Allen Bense and Jennifer Carroll.

Sorry, Tom. Primary Day is not turning out.

This lame attempt by someone who supports you, be they official or not, is another perfect example of why your campaign never took hold. A little over the top, a little too late, and a little too hypocritical.

Gallagher really can't criticize Charlie Crist on his "personal" issues without the whole thing coming back around to Gallagher, and since Gallagher has never been particularly believable on the political issues because of his own "personal" issues, it seems to be quite a quandry.

Today is Primary Day, and turnout is low. The Gallagher Campaign has already blasted an email (1:30pm) claiming "record low turnout" which is either -

1) True and could be either good news (organization is a big plus in low turnout elections)

2) True and bad news (he's never been ahead in the polls so what are the odds on a low turnout primary only Gallagher supporters show up?)

3) Not True and the early numbers are not looking good for the Gallagher campaign and they are trying to motivate their organization.

There's really no way of knowing until about 5pm, at which point internal exit polls should be getting leaked, but at this point I'd say there is a 2/3 chance it's bad news for the Gallagher camp.

In the meantime, I want to encourage all PRFL readers to vote. Vote for the man you think can best lead the state of Florida and don't let last minute smear tactics influence you. And be sure to vote for your local candidates too!

If you want to read about an interesting idea check this out. Now, start making your plans for the victory party you want to attend, it looks like there will be plenty of beer to go around. If you need a list of good candidates here are a few endorsement lists -

Mr. C

Mr. G

O'Blog

Florida Masochist

Statewide results should be available here after polls close.

UPDATE: To be fair, the Crist Campaign just sent their email (4:05pm) urging everyone to get out and vote claiming,

"we are hearing reports that turnout is low and it is imperitive that Charlie Crist Republicans cast their ballots."

Analysis: Either they are slower in getting their reports, or the reports are that turnout is low but most people are voting for Crist. Thus, less urgency. Stay tuned to find out which it is.

UPDATE 2: A second email (4:52pm) from the Gallagher Campaign urging voters to vote in the final two hours.

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August 31, 2006

FL Conservatives at a Crossroads

Townhall.com has a thought provoking article today on the Florida Republican gubernatorial primary.  In the article, Matt Towery opines that next Tuesday will yield a very, very low voter turn-out; and as a result all those polls we've been watching will be almost meaningless.  The result?  The election could go to either of the Republican candidates, and Gallagher has a real chance of pulling a win if the "religious right" gets motivated. 

But I will agree with the Orlando Sentinel that Evangelical Conservatives are having a hard time getting fired up over this election.  But it does give us an opportunity, as Towery points out.  Should Gallagher win, the sole reason will be because of his platform and commitment to Conservative values.  And while he may not have a particularly Conservative record, I suggest that the commitments to our values which he has made during his campaign will keep him an ally to Conservatives during office.

Voting for Crist is the easy thing to do.  I know there is an appeal in voting for the front-runner, and the guy every poll and every pundit suggests will win.  He's a savvy, smooth politician, and he could definitely beat either of the two democrat candidates, right?  But we're Conservatives because we don't believe that the easy choice is always the best choice.  We understand that values are paramount.  Next week we have an opportunity to support a candidate that has committed himself to those values we hold so dear.  Make no mistake, Gallagher could win this primary.  Especially if Towery is right.  But it will require Conservatives to take a stand for the principles they believe in, and to side with the candidate that has sided with us.  Tell your friends, get out to the polls, and vote Tom Gallagher on Sept. 5.

August 25, 2006

Mr. C's Primary Picks (State and Local)

Mr. C's picks:

US Senator
Will McBride

US House
Dist. 8:  Ric Keller

Dist. 9:  Gus Bilirakis

Dist 13:  Mark Flanagan

Governor
Charlie Crist

Chief Financial Officer
Randy Johnson

Florida Senate
Dist. 8:  Randall Terry

Dist. 10:  Sandra Murman

Dist. 38: Frank Bolanos

Florida House
Dist. 34:  David Mealor

Dist. 41: Steve Precourt

Dist. 48: Peter Nehr

Dist. 49:  John Quinones

Dist. 54: Rod Jones

Dist. 107: Robert Fernandez

Leon County 

County Judge Group 3: Lisa Raleigh

County Commission At Large: John Griffin

County Commission District 4: Will Messer

County Commission District 5: Frank Mayernick

Superintendent of Schools: Jackie Pons

Tallahassee

City Commission Seat 3: Anthony "Dr. V" Viegbesie

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Mr. G's Primary Candidate Picks

Mr. G picks:

US Senator
Will McBride

US House
District 8:  Ric Keller

Dist. 9:  Gus Bilirakis

Dist 13:  Mark Flanagan

Governor
Tom Gallagher

Chief Financial Officer
Randy Johnson

Florida Senate
Dist. 8:  Randall Terry

Dist. 10:  Sandra Murman

Florida House
Dist. 41: Steve Precourt

Dist. 34:  David Mealor

Dist 49:  John Quinones 

For primaries not listed, you are on your own.

Mr. G also weeps over O'Blog's endorsement of Charlie Crist.
 

August 23, 2006

Special Session in October?

This will help GOP candidates, with the exception of Tom Lee.

Supposing Lee wins the Primary, he can't afford to be in Tallahassee meting out solutions for something as controversial as insurance while Alex Sink is spending her vast fundraising to highlight his daily mishaps to voters during early voting. It's possible Speaker Bense may try to thwart this effort to help his friend Lee by claiming there isn't a consensus on a solution, and therefor no need for a special session.

And besides, why give dem's an opportunity to grandstand right before elections?

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August 22, 2006

Common Sense on Will McBride

As I watch the Senate race I get the same feeling as the rest of you, that we have just resigned ourselves to the idea that Katherine Harris will win the primary and then go on to lose the election.  But today I recieved an email from one of the smartest guys I know, I'll call him Mr. T with a common sense perspective on the matter:

I sat with Will McBride and I was skeptical.  From what I have heard he doesn't stand a chance... but that was before I was able to talk with the man face to face.  Now, I find myself saying, “this just has to be.”  With everyone just waiting for Katherine Harris to spontaneously ignite and go away, why not just vote for the better candidate? I watch as all the candidates tell me how “conservative” they are, but then their history proves anything but. McBride is the real deal.  On the headline issues of the borders, immigration, the war, abortion, stem cell, national debt and others I found McBride to be thoughtful, and thoroughly a compassionate conservative.  No clichés to get votes, but well thought out responses.  Being a Christian (not the media's equivalent of the Taliban, but the Jesus loving, Nation Founding, hospital building, starving child feeding good neighbor kind) I am glad that he attends a local congregation and actually believes it helps him be a good leader.  In fact, he was once a youth group leader so he will be familiar with the adolescent behavior in the Senate!  Perhaps this experience is his best qualifier.  It sure helped JC Watts!

No, I am not a consultant, and I am not a paid politico. I am just a good old conservative Christian who wants to support a good man who believes like I do that our society is on the slide and good men need to do something so that evil does not prevail.

Mr.T

Wow.  Why not just vote for the better candidate?  A week ago the Orlando Sentinel ran an article explaining how the Republican "Base" of Christians was just not motivated about this upcoming election.  I was mildly irritated by the article, but honestly, there was some truth to it.  With two gubernatorial candidates that we're not too sure of, and the front runner in the Senate primary can't even keep a staff, it seems like a mediocre cycle for believers. 

But Will McBride gives us something we can and should be excited about, and not just Christians, but true Conservatives of any stripe.  So why don't we just vote for the better candidate?  And why don't we encourage our friends and family to do the same?  Consider this my call for all of our Republican and Conservative readers to join the Will McBride campaign.  I also echo Bob's sentiment that Collins and Monroe should drop out and endorse McBride  Yes, it is an uphill battle, but shame on us if we don't even try.  There is far too much at stake.

Will McBride for Senate

 

Mr. G

August 21, 2006

Vote Early Leon County

Early voting begins today and will run through Sept 2 @ 5pm. No reason is needed to vote early.

Location: Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe Street on the first floor. The special entrance to Early Voting is on the Monroe Street side of the courthouse away from the main entrance.  

Dates and Times of Operation
PRIMARY ELECTION 2006
Monday, August 21 through Friday, August 25 - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 27 - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Monday, August 28 through Friday, September 1 - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Last Day of Early Voting is Saturday, September 2 - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.       

Absentee ballots will be available from this location on Labor Day, Monday, September 4 - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Election Day, Tuesday, September 5 - 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Visit the Leon County Supervisor of Elections for additional information.

August 18, 2006

Leon County Bandwagon

Leon County voters are no doubt familiar with the Bandwagon, but for those of you who are not,

Since 1986, WFSU and The Florida Channel have hosted this fun and informational program with help from the Leon County League of Women Voters. The format is what makes this program so special. Bandwagon provides each candidate 2 minutes and 30 seconds to talk about the issues they feel are important. To insure that no one gets more time than anyone else, a music group interrupts anyone going longer than the scheduled time.

Bandwagon 2006 airs live on Monday Aug 21 channel 4fsu,  and will re-air nightly until election day. The broadcast can be seen online beginning Aug 22.

If you don't have time for everybody then focus on these races still in contention - County Judges and County District 3, 4, and 5. The rest of the races will go to the front runner, or expected winner, however you want to look at it.

If you only watch for one reason, make it for the Judges.

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August 16, 2006

Does anything else in the news matter?

After reading this?

An investigation into the remains of a baby found at a Hialeah, Fla., abortion clinic in July has determined that the child was born alive, but authorities say it may come down to an interpretation of federal law whether charges will be filed.

The case developed at the end of July when the remains were found in a biohazard bag at "A Gynecologists Diagnostic Center" after an anonymous 911 call reported to police that a child had been born alive, then killed.

Infants' remains at an abortion clinic are not a violation of the law -- unless that child was born alive, in which case the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2000 takes effect.

My first thought is, isn't abortion in the third trimester illegal anyway?

My second thought is, this should wake you moderates up. "Pro-Choice" is nothing but legal infanticide. Don't fool yourselves into thinking you're supporting women. Do you think this mother is better off knowing that she not only killed a viable baby, but she gave birth to a live baby, that was then killed on her request?

I don't have to tell you about my opposition to abortion - They should all be illegal, in all instances, in all cases, for all people.

Lastly, thank God there's someone in the clinic who's conscience is on the right path. Let's hope that person is working there in an attempt to save as many children as possible.

Further - I would be remiss if I didn't throw a political spin on this. So, here it is. If I was Tom Gallagher I'd be riding this until Primary day. At every press event, every campaign stop, every email, every phone call... at every opportunity I'd ask one question - Will Charlie Crist investigate and prosecute the clinic and the responsible doctor who 1) performed what appears to be an illegal abortion, and 2) committed a post delivery murder of a live child?

And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. Either Charlie Crist does nothing and Gallagher benefits, or Charlie Crist takes action and Gallagher loses, which he is sure to do anyway. And if Charlie Crist does take action it will be for the benefit of all. As a society we can't keep murdering children and propping up women (and men) who have other "priorities" as some sort of culmination of a "progressive" society.

UPDATE: More Florida baby killers, this time in Orlando.

 


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It's official, the MSM picks...

Crist and Smith. PEER Review told you it was going to happen months ago.

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August 07, 2006

"The Hurricane"

A peek inside the malcontent world of Katherine Harris for Senate.

To whet your appetite for all things KH, the Katherine Harris philosophy on hiring campaign staff -

"The most important thing is they have integrity. I really thought we could run this race with integrity. I know campaigns tend to be nasty business, but I tried to get away from all of that. I hired preachers' kids and young people that I thought would sort of have a level of integrity."

I'm sure the quote will be included in the next printing of What Color is Your Parachute? Once you read the article you can't miss the irony.

UPDATE: So much for integrity. The really funny thing about this observation is the story, and the coverage of it, demands the reprinting, reciting and emphasis on the candidates name. Again, and Again. That's something money can't buy on the campaign trail.

At this point, I'm pretty sure I'm voting for someone other than Harris in the Primary. I was trying to hold out hoping that I could still cast my ballot for Harris and send a message to the state and national GOP that I disagree with how they dealt with her early on. But now, I think that's irrelevant. I want to stay positive, and in that respect, I want to think of a reason why I should vote for someone else.

August 04, 2006

I believe I can fly

I was going to link to this story - Harris predicts Senate victory against the odds - by saying she can predict all she wants, but she isn't going to get it done. But as I read deeper into the study I read this,

People who study political psychology say there could be other reasons.

This is what fascinates me about liberals. They can't accept the world as it is, they can't leave people to their own devices. They can't trust the public, the average voter, the everyday shop owner to make their own decisions about candidates or policies. They must analyze them and define them and destroy them, so as not to take a chance that the voter may choose wrongly.

"If she thinks she's beyond the force of gravity, she'll keep trying to fly," [University of Wisconsin political psychologist Virginia] Sapiro said. "The question is when does it become dysfunctional, where you can't read the tea leaves."

Say what? When does wanting to win and overcome adversity become dysfunctional? Isn't the answer to that question never?

Maybe Stanley Renshon of the City University of New York Graduate Center can help.

...her persistence is unusual, given the circumstances, but explainable.

"She must read the polls and she must know she's a controversial person and she must know that her party is unenthusiastic about her and that the opposition party for the most part despises her," he said "What kind of person plunges ahead despite all that? It's a person who puts their opportunity and ambition in the forefront."

And what's wrong with that? I'm thinking if I have a choice between two candidates to represent me in the halls of Congress and one is milksop and the other never, never, never, ever gives up, then I think the one I want to trust my tax dollars with, the one I want defending my liberty and my freedom, I want that person to be the latter. We may be witnessing just the type of Senator you're likely to get with Katherine Harris, and it has more to do with her personality than her policy.

You know, average people respect those of us who never give up. The market rewards entreprenuers who never give up. And, sometimes, voters do too.

Liberals have a deep need to understand her ethos, and because they don't, they need to psychoanalyze her and say she's sick. That she is mentally unstable and she really needs help. Why aren't they doing the same for/to Cynthia McKinney?

I'm telling you, I can see where this is all going. In October during the run up to the General Election there will be an article somehwere that will say something along the lines of, "Clinical psychologist who have been studying Katherine Harris's statements and actions over the past 6 months agree that she shows signs of mental and emotional fatigue." The implication being she's sick in the head. Don't vote for her.

And the craziest part of all? When it comes to ambition, belief in ones abilities and successes at overcoming great adversities, KH is no different from Hillary Clinton. I mean, Hillary is definitely the front runner for the democratic nomination for 08, but can she win America? No. She never has and she   never will, so why should she even try? In my professional opinion I think Hillary thinks she can fly. I mean, who's Isaac Newton when your last name is Clinton? He's nobody that's who.

Shave off the mustache and the stretch her stubby legs and Hillary could pass for Katherine when it comes to raw political ambition.

Well, KH in drag maybe.

There's a difference between some of us in the blogsphere and political punditry saying KH is crazy for continuing in this race. We can read between the lines, we can see the polls and the targeting and make our own prognostications about the outcome.

It's another thing completely when the MSM starts hiring psychologist to study and analyze her behavior, to diagnose her. It's a little over the top.

August 02, 2006

PEER Review of the Crist-Gallagher debate coverage

Judging from the lack of commentary in the blogosphere this morning I'm going to wager that not many people 1) knew, or 2) watched the debate last night. Furthermore, my opinion on the matter is - Why bother? Does anybody seriously think this race is within reach for Gallagher? I, like most, did not see the debate, but my hunch is Gallagher attacked often, or tried to, and talked about his family as much as possible. More after the jump...

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Continue reading "PEER Review of the Crist-Gallagher debate coverage" »

August 01, 2006

Charlie Crist has 15 sisters named Maria?

This is what happens when one of two candidates is down by 87 37points.

The unsigned article, under the headline "Read this and weep," shows a dark-haired, mustachioed Crist, renamed "Pablo Gomez." It was the same picture of Crist in that year's student yearbook.

"Deportation proceedings will begin this week against Pablo Gomez, a second-year Cumberland law student," the article began. It added that Pablo and "his 15 sisters all named Maria arrived in the city of Birmingham concealed in the bottom of a Mexican tomato truck."

This campaign has long been over. And whoever started the rumor that Harris would quit her race after the primary and Gallagher would fill the void... That person was crazy.

Have you heard?

I linked to him last week, but I have yet to sing the praises of new Florida blogger JaxGOP. JaxGOP is a breath of fresh air coming from the northeastern portion of our state, one of my favorite places to visit.

Combined with other new PEER Review FL favorites - The Campaign Manager and The State of Sunshine - there are several new or developing blogs in Florida that are covering Florida politics from a portion of the spectrum that does not include the left. We at PRFL are enjoying the commentary and insightful, intelligent analysis.

Praises sung.

It has begun...

The end of Castro? The celebration.

The real Castro socialist?

The battle for US 22 gets louder.

The dirty laundry of the FL GOP.

Too little, too late?

The only man in America with a valid complaint of Crist.

Is it too early to call Jim Davis a Flip-Flopper?

July 31, 2006

Mayor envisions a no-car downtown

PEER Review FL envisions a downtown nobody wants to visit after work.

Hugo Chavez Receives Iran's Highest Honor -do you really need to know anything else about Hugo Chavez?

Dear Chief Financial Officer Gallagher...

The answer is yes.

Did you hear?

July 27, 2006

With enemies like these...

When pot legalization advocates recently planned to protest Katherine Harris for voting against legalizing medical marijuana they soon lost all interest - likely after too many bong hits - and only six people showed up.

...the group's leader, Anthony Lorenzo, said he lost his desire to pick on Harris, who is giving up her House of Representatives seat to run for U.S. Senate.

"She's only going to be around for another six months anyway," Lorenzo said.

I found this and other interesting posts at the new blog, JAXGOP. Check them out.

File under - Who gives a crap?

Uflogo This is one of those things that fall into (literally) the land of why inthehell does it matter.

I've often marveled at fields of academic study that seem to be more for intellectual aggrandizement than in studying something which has a practical application.

I've often thought there was no part of history I'd find uninteresting... until I encountered the field which focuses on the history of the English working class. If there was a time I felt like flinging myself off a cliff, it was in the pursuit of the 800+ page monstrosity of unrestrained blather, The Making of the English Working Class, written by E.P. Thompson, a reputed communist of all people. Self control got the better of me and thus I am here to relate the sordid matter... ah, but I digress.

Nothing however could compare to my reaction when confronted with what I consider an even less poignant topic of study - the history of gender. To each his own I say, but the field does appear to be dominated by liberals of the San Francisco and UC Berkely variety.

Could that mean anything? You be the judge.

And so with that in mind the University of Florida Student Senate passed a bill Tuesday night that would amend their constitution to take into account the concept of "gender identity," which is apparently the concept of an individual deciding what gender they identify with being the basis for understanding whether they've been discriminated against or not.

That social engineering is just a wonderful thing, isn't it?

But in the end I keep coming back to the same thought - we should give a crap... why?

[Gainesville.com]

Mr GOP

July 25, 2006

Bill Nelson remaining unimpressive

Houston, we have a problem.

Its unfortunate that the Katherine Harris campaign has been plagued with so many problems because I'm even more convinced that Bill Nelson suffered some ill-effects while orbiting high above the Earth - like the loss of an imagination.

As it seems is the typical liberal line, blathering appears to be Bill Nelson's recipe for resolution of the current Middle East conflict.

Sorry, think we tried that, ad nauseum. The more this progresses I think we (The US and Israel) are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

If we're going to be damned at least we should be damned on our feet.

July 18, 2006

Is this thing on?

Is anybody else looking forward to the Smith Davis debate?

Down to one

This burden has fallen to you, Bill McCollum of the shire. Says Joe,

"Bill McCollum has run two statewide campaigns in the past six years, once as the Republican nominee for the United States Senate," Negron said. "His name recognition among Republicans is simply too strong for me to overcome in the Republican primary."

I think I've heard that somewhere before? It's amazing what Name ID can do for you.

Seriously, Negron was probably the best man in the field, certainly the most likable, and easily the most respected in Tallahassee. I hope this isn't the last we've seen of him.

July 13, 2006

Tell me something I don't know...

Harris loses another staffer... what else is new?
Tom Gallaghers new ad focuses on Laura, Charlie and being a "Dad"... snore....zzzzzzzzz.
Democrats will do anything, including trampling over the memories of dead american soldiers, to raise money... ahem, uh, they're democrats!

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July 12, 2006

Just about finished?

This steak was done a long time ago... (HT The Hedghog Report). I agree with Bob, it's a landslide.

Poll after poll, fundraising quarter after fundraising quarter, Crist leads. This week, Survey USA unloads the results of a July 8-10 poll,

61% Crist
23% Gallagher
3% Other
12% Undecided

and

8% Collins
51% Harris
14% McBride
3% Monroe
16% Other
7% Undecided

The only question now is; with numbers this low, how did Gallagher manage to raise another million dollars last quarter? That being said, read my local politics post. It has nothing to do with the Governors race, but if you're a Tallahassee local you may find it interesting.

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Just about finished?

This steak was done a long time ago... (HT The Hedghog Report). I agree with Bob, it's a landslide.

Poll after poll, fundraising quarter after fundraising quarter, Crist leads. This week, Survey USA unloads the results of a July 8-10 poll,

61% Crist
23% Gallagher
3% Other
12% Undecided

and

8% Collins
51% Harris
14% McBride
3% Monroe
16% Other
7% Undecided

The only question now is; with numbers this low, how did Gallagher manage to raise another million dollars last quarter? That being said, read my local politics post. It has nothing to do with the Governors race, but if you're a Tallahassee local you may find it interesting.

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Racist, or smart? Avon Park Mayor has a plan

I missed this before, and I'll admit I found it while trolling a local liberal site for another post. So, forgive me for the source and for not seeing this sooner, but this sounds like a fine idea. I just don't get why liberals are so willing to encourage and embrace more illegal immigration. It drives down wages and makes a "livable wage" less likely for those least among us. If liberals really wanted to do something about wages or immigration or... oh, who am I kidding? Liberals don't want to do anything but organize, which is not exactly what they are lacking. But, more on that later. I digress.

Tom Macklin, the mayor of this faded city deep in Florida's citrus belt, heard the idea on talk radio and latched on with relish.

A city up north, Hazleton, Pa., planned to root out and punish landlords who rented to illegal immigrants, fining them $1,000 for every such tenant. Mr. Macklin, whose own small city has swelled with immigrants from Mexico, Haiti and Jamaica over the past decade, swiftly proposed the same for Avon Park.

There's more,

Like Hazleton's proposal, Avon Park's would deny business permits to companies that knowingly hired illegal immigrants. The ordinance, which states that illegal immigration "destroys our neighborhoods and diminishes our overall quality of life," would also make English the official language of Avon Park, removing Spanish from all city documents, signs and automated phone messages.

I say do it. Do it now. Any liberals want to explain how this is racist, or a even a bad idea?

Tallahassee and Leon County local political races

Political strategist wait until the last minute to make definite propositions about races because anything can happen. And often, it does.

For instance, two weeks ago I was all set to write the following -

An apparent shift of ideological power could be in the offing and a reallingment of sorts may spell the end of democratic control in Florida's capitol city. Young politicos are showing impressive fundraising and organizational skills in Leon County this year, and to this astute observer of political phenomenon it looks like a groundbreaking of the road to the future.

Then, yesterday, one of my young politicos through a monkey wrench in the wheels of change.

Continue reading "Tallahassee and Leon County local political races" »

July 11, 2006

Thoughts on "Florida Is at a Moral Crossroads"

Have you seen this article over at Human Events Online? It received a mention recently in the TBO.

I won't argue with the attacks or the support he offers - John is a strong Republican with whom I can agree with on probably everything - but I will say something about his summation,

Charlie Crist may be a good man but he is not the best qualified man for the job -- especially for social conservatives. Charlie Crist lacks the credentials, principles, and life experience to lead Florida on these crucial issues. Tom Gallagher is ready for the challenge.

I would like to suggest that there is plenty of information to the contrary on any of those assertions, but it really doesn't matter. Unfortunately for John, and social conservatives who believe government should be mandating social agendas, Gallagher apparently wasn't up to the challenge of campaigning. I shudder to think what would have happened if he actually won.

Additionally, I believe the best way to ensure a conservative society is to reduce the size of government, reduce the intrusions into ordinary peoples lives, and reduce the burdens we shoulder to pay the cost of keeping government operating and growing. I believe the best way to do that is primarily with a conservative fiscal agenda, that produces a conservative social outcome. Gallagher may be more socially conservative in his comments, but when he see problems he wants to solve he looks to government to solve them. There is nothing conservative about that.

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July 10, 2006

MSM to voters, "Crist is our guy"

It's been a few weeks since I noted the obvious selection of Charlie Crist by the MSM of Florida (see here, and here, and here, and here) but for a quick update look no further than Front Page Florida's Media Watch: How Florida’s Newspapers Are Covering The GOP Gubernatorial Primary.

Seriously, is this even a race anymore? Here are a few select quotes -

"While he does have good hair and a nice smile, he doesn't have much of a resume."

"Gallagher the private investor has owned stock in publicly traded companies with matters pending before Gallagher the Cabinet member. "

"Cabinet officer seems blind to potential conflicts of interest."

"Tom Gallagher should know better."

What'd I miss

Well, I didn't catch any dolphin, marlin or kings, but we did dine on Spanish and Cobia a couple of nights. We took in the Pepsi Americas' Sail and visited with family, friends and... well, that's all actually. We had intended to do a lot more but the wife and the child both took ill.

I've been reading old headlines and this is what I think I missed - Nothing.

Crist is still leading, bigtime. If Gallagher is sitting on a fundraising "surprise" then his campaign is foolish. He doesn't have a moment to spare. The details of his commercial (filmed on location in the Gallagher front yard in Tallahassee) leads me to believe it was hastily put together after being surprised by the Crist team with two early commercials. I'm honestly surprised Gallagher didn't already have two or three ready to go. It further reinforces my opinion that the campaign invested too heavily on organization and grassroots when what they really need (any state wide race for governor needs) is mass media with targeted organization and grassroots in target rich areas.

I love that Rod Smith has pulled nearly even with Davis in the polls. Hearing them speak is like eggs, grits and bacon compared to milktoast. One leaves you full and satisfied and the other, well, it sends you looking for the bathroom.

Randy Johnson is making waves in the CFO GOP primary, and is running a strong populist message with his "blue tarp" campaign, but Tom Lee is still picking up all the endorsments. This is going to be an interesting primary and I am not going to give the nod to Lee just yet. But can either defeat Alex Sink in the General Election? I keep thinking I am giving the Sink Campaign more credit than it deserves because I really haven't heard anything from them yet. They are quietly going about their business and it seems odd for a first time candidate to be so quiet, but then again, why say anything? Money and time are on their side and they are the only democrats this year that can say that.

I haven't heard anything new regarding the AG race. I still think Bill McCollums Name ID is too much for Joe Negron to overcome statewide. I will add this; when I mentioned to a friend two weeks ago that Negron was running for AG he was surprised to hear it. "Really?," he said, "He's important. Everything went through his office this year." Considering my friend works in the Capitol everyday to enact legislation, it was surprising to hear someone so close to the process could be so out of the loop. Now just imagine what voters who've never heard of him in Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando think and that, in a nutshell, is Negrons problem. Everybody who knows him loves him, but outside of Palm Beach nobody knows who he is and this year it's extra difficult to get above the clutter of four candidates for governor and two well know US senate candidates, plus CFO and Congressional races with well known faces in Tampa.

When Charles Bronson picked up the AFSCME union endorsement last week, he sealed the election. Chalk up another loss for Derek Newton and this year's candidate, Eric Copeland.

Harris is still losing, but a strong showing by Will McBride in the GOP Primary will help move him into the LG slot with the Crist ticket... I hope.

So, did I miss anything else?

June 28, 2006

Next Florida LG?

I agree with O'Blog. It makes for good electoral strategy, and smart politics for a party that dominates a diverse state and will be seeking to hold onto power through the redistricting years of 2010-2014.

Now if we could only get TG to drop out of the race and donate his fundraising to the FL GOP to help defeat Alex Sink...

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June 23, 2006

St. Pete Times Exclusive on Rove, Satan and the GOP

No. No MSM bias here. Nothing to see. Move along.

The Hotline had it first. And I bet you won't read about it on The Buzz either

Update: Apparently this was some sort of elaborate joke by this guy. My question, if it was such a big joke, why did they take it down? I understand this joke maybe wasn't for publication on the SPT site, but what about the other guy? There's nothing embarrasing about a little successful, and intentional, media humor. Unless it was never going to see the light of day to begin with. Just a little joke among friends. You know.

Update: Award winning... almost.

Update: Well, blow me over, The Buzz did report on their own mishaps. Chalk it up to the foibles of a "new" computer systems. Good Job... I guess.

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June 20, 2006

27 years

Tom Gallagher has run for multiple positions in Florida state government, including Governor (3 times?), and this revelation has never come out. Should we be asking why?

This isn't the first year MSM and political consultants starting looking at court documents. Any politician with the reputation that Gallagher has would have been ripe for some deep digging.

So why did it take so long? Is there anyway to find out who the judge was?

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June 19, 2006

Florida Gov. race is over

Charlie Crist has won. Or should I say, Tom Gallagher lost it. Maybe Laura should have been the one running after all? Here are some extracts form the Tampa Tribune story,

He’d been caught in an affair and kicked out of the house.

Tom Gallagher didn’t react well when his wife Ann Louise filed for divorce in 1979. He admits breaking into their house to take their dog. She claims he broke in other times, too, and tried to take her car one day when she was at work.

.....

On one trip to Tallahassee, Louise said her father-in-law told her Gallagher was having an affair. She said she was very close to Charles Gallagher, Jr. He told her Gallagher was sailing. Then he told her about Tom’s relationship with a woman who worked at the capitol, adding that he, Gallagher’s dad, was to pick her up at the airport later that afternoon. Louise said she was going with him.

“I invited her for coffee and she said OK. I told her she could have him and she said OK. I felt I had been a real patsy. Enough was enough.”

......

According to the Associated Press, Gallagher also admitted to having used marijuana “many, many years ago.”

I can't tell you how unbelievebly bad this is. This isn't some fun time stroll down memory lane. This is a first time revelation of information that was intentionally covered up by a judge 25 years ago for the purposes of aiding a "budding political career." And what a career it's been.

Furthermore, this is information in direct contradiction to all of the priorities and morality held in high esteem by the very people Gallagher is asking to help him win. I'll come back to this.

Was there not somebody on the campaign who asked about this? It's not exaclty a secret around the halls of the legislature. Surely the Gallagher camp knew this was going to come out?! Please don't tell me they discussed this possiblitiy and had a preset press conference in place. Please don't tell me this caught them off guard.

Actaully, it doesn't matter now.

TG has no chance - zero, nada, zilch, zip - no chance at all of coming from behind to win the nomination. And to put the icing on the cake, Jim Davis is the lesser of the two Democratic candidates and he is still likely to win his nomination. Even if he doesn't, Rod Smith will be so beaten and broke from trying to come from behind he will have absolutely no chance to compete with Crist.

What am I even thinking about it for? This race is over. Charlie Crist will be the next Governor of Florida. Now all we have to look forward to is the LG lottery. ugh. LG. I just thought about it. Who is TG going to ask to be his LG? Who would say yes after this? I'm glad I haven't sent him any money yet.

And I want to make one point, and it's a personal point, I am not upset about the information so much as I am about the way it was revealed. I can forgive a man who's made mistakes and asked for forgiveness. I can support a man who lives his life on the up and up and seeks no quarter. I can defend a man who has had a tough past but has come through it, challenged, tempered and fearless. But this revelation is none of that.

This is so unprofessional of a major campaign. For starters, they let a major newspaper paint them into the corner with no way out. They had no answer for this, no defense, and no way to fight it. And there's only one reason for it; nobody on the campaign knew about it except the top people and they hoped to  make it through the enitre campaign without anybody saying anything.

Are. You. Serious.?

But why not? He's made it this far without it coming up. And now that it has they decide to call a press conference? So he could confess his sins now? He wanted to get it out there so it wasn't a reaction to bad news, but a revelation. That's not leadership. Its worse.

Consider that TG knew this was out there. He knew it might pop up. He's always known. So what does a pot smoking, adulterous man who has changed his ways and become born again do? He slides it under th rug because the very people he thinks he needs to win the nomination - and he knows he has no chance at victory without the right wing - those people will never vote for him if he reveals this information. So, he stuffs it under his hat and he starts selling the snake oil from the trunk. His campaing plan from the very beginning was to decieve and manipulate the very people who would be most disturbed by this information into voting for him.

I can not believe he went into this campaign asking for money, asking for support, and trying to make himself out ot be a stand up guy who is worthy of our vote. I won't vote for him now if for no other reason than because this is a sloppy underhanded way to run a campaign.

No matter. It's all too little, too late. TG knew this was out there. He knew it was coming. If he were the honorable leader he wants to be he would hang it up and work to ensure GOP victory in the fall. Instead he's going to hope this blows over in a couple days and that somehow he can miraculously weather the storm. Which he won't.

Oh, and a big thanks for the heads up to the Florida Masochist, who surely has a knucklehead award waiting? Bob is probably thinking right now, the biggest PR debacle in any political race, in THE political race, and he's on vacation. Jen, how can you be unemployed at a time like this? We need your PR insights! Curiously, FLA Politics is all quite now. They will surely be all-a-flutter with the news in the morning.

Ok, the good news for Republicans, and Crist, is they now get to focus all of their time and energy on crushing whichever democrat comes out ahead. Which won't be too hard. It won't even be sporting. So, why not focus our attention on defeating on the only real chance Democrats have at picking up a seat?

So who do we talk about now? Will McBride for LG?

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June 16, 2006

Time for (Jeb!) Bush

Time Magazine piece on Jeb - Is there a second act?


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June 13, 2006

Crist and Harris big winners in recent poll, but...

I have doubts about this SurveyUSA Election Poll.

By in large the spread is so big, so unbelievable, there is no doubt Crist and Harris are leading in their respective primaries,

Crist 52%, Gallagher 21%
Harris 50%, McBride 12%, Collins 7%, Monroe 4%

But crosstab analysis that shows, "Gallagher does relatively best among young voters, liberals, and those who disapprove of President Bush," are the result of either a really poor sampling or a disasterous campaign that was designed to target exactly the opposite group of people. I know Brett Doster is too good at targeting and organization for that to be the case, so I am going to assume the former is true.

Which is exactly why I don't believe in polling registered voters for anything but issue ID.

For the record -

2,500 Florida adults were interviewed 6/9/06 - 6/11/06. Of them, 2,164 were registered to vote. Of them, 825 were Republicans. Of them, 410 were judged to be "likely voters". Crosstabs reflect Likely Republican Primary Voters.

FrontPageFlorida also has a post.

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June 10, 2006

Radio KRST - The hits just keep on coming!

It's like every week now.

Gallagher was not well prepared for this type of campaign. I guess he thought Crist was just going to talk about crime and insurance issues while Gallagher would secretly out-organize him. Bad guess.

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June 09, 2006

Tom Gallagher and tax cuts, a second look

I didn't want to leave this morning's post, I wonder why, without more investigation. I went back and took a look at TG's campaign site, specifically his policy brief - Expanding Prosperity in Florida. I also took a look through TG's "In the News" section and I tried to go through his "Press Release" archives but I couldn't get it to load for some reason. The only thing I found of note was this March 1 piece from the Miami Herald that basically said the two candidates economic plans were the same, and proceeded to talk about TG's Cuba transition coordinator proposal,

The two Republicans vying to succeed Gov. Jeb Bush offered startingly similar economic proposals on Tuesday: A call for tax cuts, a call to let homeowners hold onto a property tax break even if they move, and legislation to make it harder to sue businesses.

But Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher went further than his rival, Attorney General Charlie Crist: Gallagher also wants the state to cap how much counties can increase their budgets and proposed hiring the state's first ''Cuba transition coordinator,'' a person working for the governor whose job would be to prepare Florida for the aftermath of the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

I'm going to leave the Cuba thing alone for now since that's not really the focus of this post.

My first question is, if the two plans were essentially the same three months ago, what has changed so dramatically that would lead Gallagher's people to say today,

Gallagher spokesman Albert Martinez said the plan was lacking "in both details and leadership."

My second question would be about the one of the few differences: local autonomy in budgeting. Gallagher wants to pass legislation restricting the ability of local governments to dramatically raise spending (and, presumably, taxes) while Crist wants to leave those decisions to be made by local governments. This contrast prompted another of the Gallagher campaign's comments,

Gallagher's campaign squad ripped Crist for not guaranteeing property tax relief and instead leaving it up to counties as an option.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the two plans are essentially the same, then isn't Gallagher's plan also lacking in details and leadership? And secondly, as conservatives, isn't one of our central tenets to be in favor of home rule and local authority instead of central planning? Especially when it comes to local spending and taxing authority.

Now, in light of that observation I want to specifically point out some discrepancies in TG's policy brief. The centerpiece of his "Economic Prosperity" plan is this,

Right now, because of Florida’s rapidly increasing property values, Florida families that have lived in their home for a period of time and want to move to another residence in their community will see their property tax bills skyrocket if they move.  This Moving Tax makes many families and retirees stay in homes that no longer meet their needs simply because they can’t afford the tax hike that moving would entail.

Homestead property owners should be allowed portability of their assessed property values between residences when they move within the same county.  Growing families and retirees should not be financially penalized if they want to move within their communities.  Under the Gallagher Plan, new homes would be assessed at a value comparable to the previous assessed value of the home they sold, or if the home they are purchasing is worth more than the home they sold, at a value set in the difference between the two.

In the face of the rising property prices in the state, government should not burden families who need more space or retirees who are looking to downsize.  This meaningful tax cut for Florida families and retirees would save them $57 million in its first year. 

I'm sorry, but I completely disagree with this idea. This "moving tax" is exactly what keeps families from over-extending themselves into debt in order to purchase homes they really can't afford, regardless of their need. If you only have two bedrooms, then don't have 5 kids. Proper consideration and planning, tax research and financial preparation are exactly what families should be doing. If they find they can't afford the bills, then they shouldn't be moving or they should be reducing debt first. (I recognize that for some taxes rise and bills increase regardless of their level of planning, but TG is talking specifically about people who are seeking to move and increase their tax liability on purpose, not through no fault of their own.) Reducing debt is a time-honored conservative principle to sound fiscal management and there is more than one way to do it. As CFO I should suspect TG would know this.

*To be fair, Charlie Crist supports something similar.

And what's this talk of tax cuts for retirees that are downsizing their needs? If they are downsizing then how are their property taxes increasing?

Something just doesn't seem right about trying to cut property taxes by giving property owners a carry-over from a devalued property to a higher valued property.

If your goal is to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners, then why not simply cut their property tax? This can be done easily at the state level by increasing the homestead exemption. Furthermore, removing the local authority on spending issues could also affect local abilities to offer additional homestead exemptions to those over 65, or as I like to call them, retirees.

Charlie Crist proposes doubling the exemption and Stan Mayfield calls it

..."shallow" and "the mark of someone not ready to be governor."

I like Stan Mayfield, but he's wrong. There's nothing tricky or "shallow" about cutting taxes. You just cut them.

The plan goes on,

Under the Gallagher plan, county spending growth would be contained to a level of growth- the percentage of population increase in that county plus the rate of price inflation in Florida. Any revenues that accrued to the county above that amount would be refunded to the property taxpayers.

...If local governments decide that they require more money than these reasonable limits encourage, they may petition the voters to allow that increased spending.  By asking voters to approve any exorbitant spending increases, local governments will have to justify their increased spending requests to the people who pay the bills.  Trusting the people and giving them more say over their tax dollars is simply good policy.

Then why not just do it at the state level? Why usurp power from local authorities? If limiting spending growth is really important to you then take a leadership position and call for limits to state spending growth (which is an issue for a completely different post) based on inflation and population growth, return all surpluses to property tax payers, and require by law the state to ask voters for permission on all tax increases; include justification and explanation for it's purpose, use, and term.

It goes on,

Returning tax surpluses to the taxpayers and limiting the growth of county governments’ spending to reasonable levels are the fiscally responsible approach to Florida’s future.  In times of record revenues, there is no reason that some of those surpluses should not be returned to the taxpayers.  If this Gallagher policy had been in place since 1999, it is estimated that over $8 billion in surplus tax dollars would have been returned to Florida taxpayers.

You mean like this year?

The first step to providing real rate relief to Florida families is a commonsense approach to dealing with Florida’s current insurance assessments on policyholders.  Florida’s Legislature should use the record state budget surplus, much of it generated by storm recovery spending, to deal with hurricane recovery costs.  To refuse to use part of the state budget surplus is charging Florida’s policyholders for a bill they shouldn’t have to pay.  With the record budget surplus, there is no reason that state leaders cannot offset any assessments and provide tax relief to Florida’s families.

I guess not.

It's hard to be principled when you don't really understand the principles you are supporting. If your policy is

Returning tax surpluses to the taxpayers and limiting the growth of county governments’ spending to reasonable levels are the fiscally responsible approach to Florida’s future.  In times of record revenues, there is no reason that some of those surpluses should not be returned to the taxpayers.

then you can't find exceptions to the rule when those criteria are met, unless you really have no intention of giving back the money.

Under Hurricane preparedness and Catastrophe planning it reads,

There must also be efforts to prepare older homes for storms.  A portion of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund should be reallocated to retrofit older homes that are currently forced into coverage by Citizens Property Insurance.  By strengthening these older homes and making them more attractive to the private insurance market, more insurance options should become available to those homeowners.

No, no, no. It is not the role of the state to upgrade, improve or otherwise contribute other citizens' tax dollars to the value of another private citizen's home. I cannot stress this enough. If policy holders shouldn't be paying for premiums and losses above and beyond their insured property, then who should be paying it? Personally, I'm tired of paying for it. This is wealth distribution at its finest and it is not a conservative principle.

Understanding that Florida’s homeowners are best served when rates are affordable and coverage options are available, reducing rates and bringing more insurance options into the marketplace will be a top priority for a Gallagher administration.  This is one of the most pressing issues facing Florida’s economic future.

The long-term health of Florida's economy is destined to subsidize homeowners who have overextended their purchasing power and have been devastated by natural disaster because the state of Florida has created a mirage of safety and support in state mandated insurance coverage. Insurers of last resort are not for millionaires. If you have that much money then you should be able to rebuild on your own. For the rest of us, I suggest the parable about building your home on the rock.

The remainder of Gallagher's proposals are typical campaign fluff. They've either been accomplished already (Tort Reform, Intangibles Tax repeal), or are nondescript statements like, "Florida needs to become a leader in trade."

Upon further review I am even more turned off by what I see when it comes to our current CFO and his "economic" policies for prosperity. Most of it is more correctly described as populist, not conservative.

So, for reference, consider that I am principally an economic conservative first, because I believe economic freedom and prosperity allow citizens to make the decision for themselves about how best to spend there money, invest, save or contribute to charity; and I believe those decisions create responsible conservative citizens who will likely be socially conservative as well. Socially conservative positions are typically deal breakers for me when I must choose between two fiscally conservative candidates.

In the Florida Primary for GOP Governor, It doesn't look like I will have to make that choice.

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I wonder why

There's nothing more Republican than cutting taxes, so when I posted yesterday on Crist's economic policy plan and then read this piece this morning, I really starting wondering about Gallagher - Why didn't Gallagher do this already?

He has, from the begininning, tried to position himself as "the Repulican" in the Republican Primary by running to the social right, but (and this may just be my bad memory here) I can't remember Gallagher making any serious policy statements regarding taxes. Certainly none that lead to major news outlets posting stories about promises for "massive" tax cuts.

Why not?

Furthermore, how does Gallagher's team respond to a tax cutting proposal?

Gallagher's campaign squad ripped Crist for not guaranteeing property tax relief and instead leaving it up to counties as an option.

Gallagher spokesman Albert Martinez said the plan was lacking "in both details and leadership."

And Gallagher himself? Well, he doesn't actually say anything, but Stan Mayfield, you know, a state Rep supporting Tom but not actually the candidate, Stan said,

The harshest criticism came from Gallagher supporter Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach. In a prepared statement distributed by Gallagher's campaign, Mayfield called the plan "shallow" and "the mark of someone not ready to be governor."

Let's recap. Crist unveils massive tax cutting proposals, the Gallagher campaign criticizes them for being what exactly? Not detailed? Are leaders supposed to be detailed or are they supposed to propose big ideas and then lead?

It's important, because I don't think the Gallagher campaign is really getting what's wrong with their campaign.

Tell me again who the "real Republican" is in this race?

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June 08, 2006

Well, that puts a wrinkle in things

The FL Chamber of Commerce released poll results for the d side of the Gov. race today and they are mildly interesting. The poll sample size (600) is smaller than yesterday's but the results are not surprising.

Jim Davis - 22.5%
Rod Smith - 21.5%
Undecided - 56%
MOE +/-4

It's not surprising because, 1. Davis has been making one error after another lately, 2. Smith is an excellent campaigner and his recent coups with the education and labor establishments show his backroom political muscle, and 3.  More than half of the dem's polled would prefer someone else. Like who you ask?

A Republican maybe?

Some Rhino's will tell you if Crist and Smith win then something interesting could happen, some GOP may vote for Smith. PEER Review will tell you, not a chance.

If those two do win the primaries then Crist immediately starts talking about taxes and education. Under Smith taxes go up and under Crist they go down. In fact, Crist has already started on that campaign theme with today's press release -

Crist Announces Economic, Tax Cut Proposal

~ Keeping Florida's Economy Vibrant and Supporting Florida's Workforce ~ 

Charlie Crist, Attorney General and candidate for Governor, today announced his tax cut and economic development plan, Keeping Florida’s Economy Vibrant and Supporting Florida's Workforce, aimed to continue the commitment to help Florida’s taxpayers and job creators.  Crist unveiled his plan at a stop in Naples on his Fighting for Florida Bus Tour.

 “I believe Florida’s next Governor must continue to build upon what Governor Bush has started,” said Crist.  “We must work with local communities and businesses to create a vibrant economic environment through tax cuts; education initiatives to increase high wage jobs; and various other incentives to attract specialized companies and the skilled workers they need.”

With regards to education, Crist will piggyback on Jeb!'s tremendous popularity and push the  continuation of Bush's policies noting the tremendous success and progress made over the past 8 years, while contrasting that with Smith's education positions and political supporters that appear to put him in the hip pocket of teacher unions. And, ultimately, that will put Smith squarely blocking what matters most - educating children how to read, write and add.

I like seeing the democratic primary all even. I would love to see a rough dem primary with Smith pulling out the victory, but if your looking for an overall d victory this fall then you need to start looking somewhere else, the Crist juggernaut has left the station.

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GOP still winning, dem's still losers

Liberals, what say you now? What effect will this have on Florida? Look to the District 22 House race in Boca Raton - Clay Shaw vs. Ron Klein.

If the GOP can defeat the d's in a seat previously held by a man who is currently behind bars for curruption, then how hard do you think it will be to defend a seat, currently held by one of the most stand up honest men in the House, from a lobbyist/lawyer with ties to Jack Abramhoff?


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June 07, 2006

Two better than average polls and race predictions

Two recenlty released polls give clearer pictures on the Florida Governor's race than any to date.

The first was conducted by GOP communications taken from a sample described as (emphasis mine),

The polling model:  We have a computer model of the 2004 electorate in FL that created a pool of 46,990 voters who always vote (each primary and general cycle)... This overall pool was compared to 2000 census #s and 2004 census estimates and broken down into county by county voting results in 11/2004 to give us a core group of 1332 extremely likely voters that is an exact computer model replica of those who voted statewide in 2004.

That's a solid polling sample if I've ever seen one. If I start running polls this will be the ideal set up. The results - Crist 46.1%, Davis 37.7%, 15.5% Undecided and 0.7% Other (+/- 2.85)

The second is the Chamber of Commerce poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates of 800 likely GOP primary voters which showed  Crist leading Gallagher 42-23 (+/- 3.5). Solid sample size, solid results, consistent results.

Your first question may be, why didn't GOP Communications poll on Gallagher or Smith?

It's not cost effective. Take a look at the Chamber poll. It has Crist leading Gallagher by 19 points, and that hasn't changed since December when the Chamber ran the same poll. After six months, a time period that included a legislative session, Gallagher has made zero progress among likley GOP voters. Most polls show the same results, and those that don't are questionable in their design, so it's not unlikely GOP Communications took this well established information into consideration.

Simply put, polling 1332 respondents is expensive. It takes massive amounts of manpower to complete in a decent amount of time and that requires more money than an 800 sample poll. It's not economical to poll 1332 people on cadidates who don't seriously have a shot at winning their respective primaries.

The next question you may ask is, I've heard you disregard polls that poll likely voters before, why is the Chamber poll so great now? (Actually, I disregard polls of registerd voters nearly all the time, as they are the least dependable, but I typically am skeptical of any small sample poll of likely voters too.)

The answer is simple: Sample size. Most polls will poll around 800 total respondents then break the results into GOP and democrat subsets of around 400. At that size your margin of error is tremendous and the likelihood of your "likely voters" being actual voters is even smaller. Trying to disaggregate the returns for multiple candidates further dilutes the likelihood of respondents being actual voters who will have an affect on the actual election.

However, with a sub sample (which is what I consider a poll of just one party) size of 800 or more much of the error can be accounted for, especially when your results show a 19% consistent spread between the candidates.

Suppose for a moment that the results are completely on the edges of the results, Crist is actually 3.5% lower and Gallagher is actually 3.5% higher, or a complete seven point swing. It's highly unlikely to be the case, but if it is Crist still wins by 12 and my confidence in the original numbers is much higher as a result. By any account, 12% is a considerable margin to overcome, but a consistent 19% among GOP primary voters is insurmountable  3 months out.

Lastly, you may be asking if this means I will stop following poll results because it appears Crist has wrapped it up? The answer is no. I will keep bringing you analysis and opinion until it's over.

And BTW, here's my projections at this point -

US Senate - Harris v. Nelson, Nelson wins. It is apparent McBride (Will) is showing some real life, and he will get some boost from his name likeness to another McBride. I think he's one to watch and if he can gain some traction, create some solid positions and establish a strong conservative credential before the primary he may be able to do the unthinkable, defeat Harris. But he won't be able to turn that into a victory over Nelson, unfortunately.

US House District 22 - Shaw wins. I know this is the focus of party elites and supposedly a toss up seat, but when you consider Klein is covering up his lobbying, gambling and lawyer backgrounds; consider that his current district overlaps the House district by less than 20%; consider that Shaw has been reelected 12 times - I think this won't really be as close as people think it will. But here's to keeping up appearances.

Governor - Crist v. Davis, Crist wins. Davis is a joke. A simple backhand from Bush last week put him into a tail spin for several days (apparently he's still trying to recover). What's he going to do when Crist focuses his attention and money on him?

CFO - Lee v. Sink, Sink wins. I'm least sure about this one, namely, who wins the GOP nomination. A lot of rank and file are excited about Johnson (including myself) and Tom Lee has angered plenty of big donors. But ultimatley, I think Sink is strong enough to beat either. If Johnson wins he may not have the experience, or money, he needs to take Sink down during the short General Election time frame.

AG - McCullom wins. I know a lot of people like Joe Negron, and they're called legislators. Outside of Tallahassee he is less well known. I like him, but with down-ballot campaigns Name ID can be everything if you've got it, and McCollum has it. Plus, he's got gobs of money raising potential.

Ag Commish - Bronson wins. Despite Derek Newtons best efforts, this will be a cake walk against Skip Campbell *Eric Copeland despite his personal contact information fishing excercises he's been engaged in lately.

Among the other US House seats I could mention I think Vern Buchanan will likely win the Harris' 13th District seat, three otherwise good democrat candidates are going to eat each other up trying to fill Davis' 11th District seat, and while the d's think Busanky has a good shot at the retireing Mike Bilirakis District 9 seat, I find it hard to imagine they will take it from current State Rep, and Mike's son, Gus Bilirakis.

That's the big ones. Maybe later I'll talk about some local races here in Tallahassee.

*see comments

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June 06, 2006

"I have not gotten more support ... because they don't believe I can be controlled," Harris said

Memo to Harris campaign:

You've identified the problem, now do something about it. These are your options -

1. Bend over backwards and start being controllable.
2. Keep doing what you're doing, which is running a losing campaign and complaining about option number 1.
3. Quit wasting money on fundraising, hire some professional media firms, put somebody in control of your message and spend the ten million dollars you do have. If you can get the spread to within ten then I think you may get a second look from the "big donors" and the establishment again.

Your message? Talk about Bill Nelson "the liberal," about your experience and leadership, and about immigration and education. I think we all know you are conservative and Christian so lets stick to issues that are going to motivate Floridians on Election Day.

My advice? Move to number 3. If it's not showing significant results by late August then start your farewell tour and personally thank the few hundred people who did donate to your campaign.

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June 05, 2006

The funny thing about politics

Politics is convoluted and upside down, so it's not the path of least resistance that leads to victories in partisan elections, it's often the opposite.

My theory is, if you don't have enemies, then you don't have friends either. You can't win a political office without friends.

See here.

Now, guess what happens if the liberal Bill Nelson takes a stand in support of gay marriage. Is it smart that he won't say what he truly wants to say, or sad that he's not secure enough to say what he believes?

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The Best Governor in America?

Jeb Bush. I've been saying it all along.

But don't take my word for it. Read here.

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June 01, 2006

From the Charlie-Crist-is-our-guy file

Florida Masochist notes a recent article in the PB Post titled, "South Florida may be decisive in Democratic primary for governor," and leads with  this,

Jim Davis and Rod Smith each has a little fib he tells on the campaign trail.

There's a lot of voters in South Florida. Between the PB Post and the Miami Herald and the St. Pete Times (not S. Florida, I know, but it's below Orlando!) I wonder what they will be thinking about come election day?

Charlie Crist, crime fighter who refuses to raise taxes.
Laura Gallagher, married to that guy running for office who used to run the insurance business and now day trades unsuccessfully.
Jim Davis, Liar.
Rod Smith, Liar.

How to choose...?

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May 30, 2006

Dems Label GOP as 'Corrupt'

Kettle, it's the pot calling. He says your black.

UPDATE: Exhibit A. B. C.

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May 27, 2006

Charlie Crist's biggest competition - Laura Gallagher?

I hope the Gallagher campaign did not encourage this article. Behind in polls and fundraising, Gallagher gets a 1500 word expose on his wife in the largest newpaper in the state. It is a complete waste of earned media and I don't see how it helps Gallagher in any way. If it does anything it introduces doubt into the minds of the voters.

The accomplished Laura Gallagher helps define her husband's campaign, and, perhaps, him as well.

I understand that his marriage is an asset; a fabulous wife and precocious son who provide a strong God fearing Christian influence in his life. But they aren't running for office. They aren't Gallagher's promise to the people. When voters ask, "Why do you want to be Governor of Florida?" his response can't be, "Have you met my wife and son?"

It's no secret I believe the FL media has chosen Crist. It's no secret that I think this race is Crist's to lose. But, to be fair, TG is trying to run a race here. He has put out several good press releases in recent days trying to talk about education reform and continuing Jeb's policies of accountability and choice. He has been making some clear strategic moves by signing the 11th commandment pledge, swearing off 527's and agreeing to debates. And in light of those recent campaign moves FL  media thinks this type of piece is interesting or appropriate? It isn't.

Knowing he's married with children is enough for voters. Detailed information about his family life, religious practices, courting and dating history, or more importantly his wife's involvement in his decision making process, that information is a waste of precious media and time that Tom has available to communicate with voters about himself, his plans and his vision. Information like this puff piece starts begging for detailed questions and answers about subjects that aren't, nor should be, relevant to his challenge for Governor.

Gallagher should be talking about his vision for Florida, his education plans, his opposition to abortion and his support in the Terri Schiavo case. From what I can tell he's trying.

Once Crist starts spending his millions (this weekend) on TV and radio spots Gallaghers job only gets harder. Florida MSM should actually try to make this race interesting and quit trying to hand it off to Crist. A nasty race is better than no race at all, and right now, I don't see a credible race developing.

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May 26, 2006

That's all I need to know

From The Buzz,

"President Clinton and Bill Nelson are friends,'' said Nelson campaign manager Chad Clanton. "President Clinton was kind enough to offer his support and we're proud to have it.''

That's all I need to know. I'm voting for Harris.

No word yet on Lobbyist Ron Klein's friendship with Clinton... either of them.

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Media trying to taint already meaningless Q-poll findings

Yesterday I asked, Why don't they report these numbers?

Today, they do (here, here and here). But, of course, they try to taint the information. For instance the Miami Herald wrote,

a majority of Floridians -- mostly Republicans -- now back a Bush administration proposal that would allow oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico 100 miles off the state's coastline

As if the Republicans supported it because Bush proposed it. Here's how the question was read to respondents by Q-poll,

The federal government is considering a proposal to allow oil and natural gas drilling in large sections of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico 100 miles from the Florida coast that are currently off limits. - Do you support or oppose this proposal?

When asked a question about a nonpartisan Federal government program with nondescript support, 76% of Republicans, 37% of Dems, and 45% of Ind's (61% men, 46 % women) said yes. They affirmed sensible energy alternatives not only for Florida, but the United States at large. Respondents didn't say yes because it was a Bush proposal, or a GOP proposal, or an oil company proposal; they said yes because it makes sense.

Q-poll may not be able to poll actual voters accurately, but they know enough about polls to know if you ask a question about a Bush proposal in Florida - where a Bush is governor and enormously popular - the results would naturally be skewed. Unfortunately, our friends in the media take advantage of the situation knowing that most readers will never look up the poll results, and they immediately try to disqualify the findings by tying it to Bush and the Republicans.

When asked about a Federal Government plan to drill more than 100 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, the majority of respondents said yes.

That being said, there are plenty of reason to doubt the Q-poll findings from recent days. I've mentioned a few already.

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May 25, 2006

Q-Poll still means nothing

Again, another meaningless poll on the FL governors race (see here for my problems with the last Q-poll). Let me re-sort the highlights for some clarity -

Crist a 34 -9 percent favorability rating, with 14 percent mixed and 43 percent who don't know enough to form an opinion..
Gallagher gets a 28 - 9 percent favorability, with 16 percent mixed and 46 percent who don't know enough to form an opinion...
Crist tops Gallagher 43 - 26 percent, with 28 percent undecided...

For Davis and Smith, at least 78 percent don't know enough to form an opinion...
Davis leads State Sen. Rod Smith 38 - 17 percent with 41 percent undecided...

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis has a razor-thin edge over two Republican contenders in the Florida Governor's race, squeaking by State Attorney General Charlie Crist 40 - 37 percent, with 19 percent undecided, and inching ahead of State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher 40 - 37 percent, with 20 percent undecided...

"The race for Governor remains wide open. One in five Florida voters are undecided, including almost one in three independents - the group that will decide the election," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Well, that's true. Except the Q-poll asks registered voters, not actual voters.

"The candidates, especially the Democrats, are not well known, so it's reasonable to conclude that President Bush's slide in the polls has hurt GOP candidates in Florida," Brown added.

It's also reasonable to assume that candidates who are unknown in their own party could not possibly be leading overall.

"Although little has changed in the general election matchups, the leading candidates for the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial nominations each have widened their leads."

I want to say this is could be inferred, as they suggest, but in reality the majority of "registered" voters simply do not vote. So, no, we can't know this either. At least not from this poll.

And, does it seem likely to you that 78% can't form an opinion of Davis or Smith, but nearly 60% are still willing to pick one? That's frightening. Or consider that the undecideds in both the dem and gop selects are higher than the undecideds in the General Election head to head. Am I to understand that voters who can't make up their mind in their own primary (likely swing and moderate voters) are more sure about their selection in the General Election?

And, on a side note, if the press is going to report that a democrat who is winning a majority of voters who don't know anything about him (78% can't even form an opinion of him) can somehow win the Governors mansion, then why don't they report these numbers?

By a narrow 51 - 42 percent margin, with 7 percent undecided, Florida voters support lifting the ban on oil drilling in the Gulf Coast 100 miles from the Florida shore, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 

Political logic should tell you a state that is in favor of a democratic governor would not be in favor of offshore drilling. Actually, common sense would do just fine.

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May 24, 2006

Broward County rewrites lobby rules

Broward County believes they aren't required to follow new state laws regarding lobbying ethics, gift giving and reporting. Who do you think gave them that advice?

I bet I know.


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May 23, 2006

A bloggers speedial?

Story here.

Site here.


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May 22, 2006

Not-so-Sorry Charlie Crist not worried and neither is the MSM

In this Saturday News-Press piece about Charlie Crist's release of his 'Hurricane Plan' the journalist got a little off topic. I suppose she wanted to gently remind people who Charlie Crist is when he took a detour from the story subject,

He [Charlie Crist] also made a brief tour, stopping to talk with elderly residents and ask for their vote.

"You're Chain-Gang Charlie," said patient Bob McClure the minute Crist walked up.

Crist was obviously surprised at the recalling of a nickname he had while serving in the Florida Senate.

His sponsorship of a bill creating roadside-working chain-gangs led to the moniker, which Crist has not touted in recent years.

It has nothing to do with Hurricane preparedness, and it has everything to do with letting voters know who the media supports.

The money quote from this piece?

"Who are you running against?" McClure asked.

"Nobody," Crist laughed.

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May 19, 2006

Political news from an education site

Ok, so I have been busy with preparing for and implementing a homeschooling plan this week, but I still try to keep on top of the news.

Until this afternoon when I read this story, on the education site - Miami Gradebook (new to the PRFL Blogroll) and thought, "Why am I just reading about this now, on an Education site!?"

Then I turned to my trusty Sayfie Review and there it was top and center. How I missed it today is anybody's guess (I think I was distracted by that interview with Rubio that included moving pictures and audio), but all the more reason to note what a fantastic service Sayife provides and how thankful I am to my contributors bringing different stories and perspectives to the table.

Like this one. Or this one.

Oh yeah, Villalobos... is he done or is this going to make him stronger then ever? Is Villalobos the next Jim King?


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May 18, 2006

Randall Terry Goes Catholic

Not much more to say.  Story here.

So my question is, Catholic or not, does he stand a chance against Jim King?

Tom Gallagher - goal setter

Ok, so the primary objective of any campaign, especially a Primary, is to clearly establish a difference between you and the other guy(s). Yesterday, Tom Gallagher sent out his education policy paper saying he'd reinvent Florida's High Schools, and for the most part, he is just like Charlie Crist - Continue with Jeb's policies, support for vouchers, increase graduation rates, get back to basics, increase discipline and responsibility.

But Gallagher goes a step further, presumably to set himself apart, by pledging to raise the state high school graduation rate to 90% by 2020.

I respect that. I want that. I think we can and should do it. But, I also think making this policy goal a public statement is a mistake. Not because of the difficulty of it, nor because of the unlikely possibility of it actually occuring, but because most people are negative about the prospects of government being able to achieve such a thing.

Conservatives don't believe the answer lies with government to begin with, and Liberals secretely know that the likelihood of success of any of their policies - like full graduation, full employment, zero homelessness - is so unlikely that it continually gives them power to try harder, spend more, do more. Setting a goal like this leads most normal people to think you some sort of dreamer, trying to use government to fulfill some sort of pipedream that you were convinced of during college.

Most good leaders set high goals, work hard to achieve them, and recognize that failing only means succeeding at a higher level than their detractors. But most good leaders also don't set themsleves up for a fantastic crash.

I think there's a difference between actually being Governor and saying you want 90% graduation from your education commissioner, and saying you want to be Governor so you can achieve 90% graduation. The simple fact is 90% graduation is probably not possible. It's worth striving for, it's worth trying, but voters can tell a wild claim, fantastic, outrageous, unattainable, and they see it as a desperate plea. While your at it, why not strive for 100%?

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May 17, 2006

Scraping the bottom of the barrel or, why Jim Davis should be governor

The Florida Masochist reflects on the low rankings the liberal Jim Davis scores when it comes to the things that matter in Washignton - power and influence. Guess where he ranks?

If you guessed the bottom, your right. In fact, on a couple occasions, the very bottom. Does that sound like a guy who should be the next Governor of the most populous swing state in the country?

But considering he never shows up to work anyway, are you really surprised?

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Marco Rubio, Speaker of the House

Today's Weekly Planet includes an article on the next Speaker of the House Marco Rubio by Wayne Garcia. Check it out.

He's the new face of the Republican Party post-Jeb, guiding the always-more-conservative-than-the-Senate House of Representatives over the next two years. He'll be the first Cuban American in that role and the second-youngest speaker.

"It never ceases to amaze me the complexity of the issues we face in the state of Florida," Rubio said by phone. "Florida is facing a property insurance crisis like no state has ever faced. That's had a dramatic impact on the insurance industry. So people turn to government for a solution. But government doesn't always have a solution."

Considering he's the only known political leader going into next year it's important to get an idea of where we might be heading. I think this article is a good introduction to the conservative that will lead FL government for the next year, maybe two, as others grasp to build and grow their power.

Oh yeah, PRFL is mentioned too.

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May 15, 2006

Ron Klein tries to scare Seniors

In Saturday's rebuttal to the President's radio address FL state Senator and Congressional wannabe Ron Klein (lobbyist) told Florida's seniors that Medicare plan D - prescription drug coverage - was not right for them and tried to discourage Seniors from enrolling in the successfull program. He may have to walk uphill both ways if he thinks he's going to drag seniors over to his side of the street on this issue. Here's a few facts that Ron Klein the lobbyist, doesn't want Florida's seniors to know about...

Nearly 90 Percent of Eligible Seniors Now Have Coverage
Of the more than 42 million people eligible for Medicare, 37 million now have Part D - related prescription drug coverage.

84% of Enrolled Seniors Are Satisfied With Medicare Part D
A poll released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last month found that a large majority of seniors (84%) enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program are satisfied with their drug coverage and a majority (52%) say they are enjoying a significant cost savings.

61% Say Enrollment in Medicare Part D is Very or Fairly Easy
According to a CBS News/New York Times poll released last week, 37% said enrollment in the new Medicare prescription drug program was "very easy," and 24% said it was "fairly easy."

57% More Likely to Vote for Member of Congress Who Supported Medicare Part D
According to a USA Today/Gallup poll released late last month, 57% were more likely to vote for a Member of Congress who supported Medicare Part D, while 29% were more likely to vote against a Member who did not support the plan. 

Costs Are Lower for Seniors and the Federal Government Than Expected
The average premium seniors pay for their prescription drug benefit is just $25 per month instead of $37 per month, and this year the Federal government will spend 20 percent less overall on the Medicare drug benefit than was projected last July.

Even National Democrats Are Urging Seniors to Enroll in the Program
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said last week: "Democrats have been out across the country encouraging seniors to sign up for a prescription drug plan by May 15th."
(Pelosi Release, 5/9/06)

In sum - nearly full enrollment, very high satisfaction, easy to understand and participate, majority likely to vote for members of Congress who support Plan D, costs lower than expected, and even the liberal Nancy Pelosi is urging seniors to enroll.

In Florida's 22nd District nearly 79,000 seniors have enrolled in the program and Ron Klein is asking for their votes by telling them they don't know what they are doing.

Not smart strategy Ron. Not smart.

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May 12, 2006

Next American Idol Winner - Elliot?

That's the summation of this NY Post article by Joh Podhoretz.

I agree.

Now think about this years Governors race. Do you think Smith supporters are all going to go to the more liberal Davis after the primary. Nope.

That is of course, if Davis wins the Primary.

What if it goes the other way? All the Davis camp will definitely migrate to Smith if he wins the Primary, and so the question becomes, will all of the Gallagher camp migrate to Crist if he wins? Do you think there are some ultra conservative voters who would rather vote for Smith, a N. Fl conservative democrat who may raise taxes? Or Crist who remained absent from the Schiavo debate.

Stranger things have happened.

If Bense isn't running, then let's focus on Katherine

Let me take you back to September 12 last year when I said,

As you all know in the absence of a Jeb Bush announcement for Senate, Katherine Harris is my girl and I support her. That does not prohibit me from being critical and I will criticize in an effort, or hope, to communicate the opinions of one conservative voter to the strategist and handlers of Mrs. Harris herself. She is our candidate, she will be the candidate, and it is our duty to help get her elected.

Has anything changed since then? Sure she's made some awful appearances and sure she's been through multiple campaign staffers, and sure she appears to have imploded. But over the course of the past 6 months, if you were her, wouldn't you have made some mistakes too? It's hard to be right when everyone, including your own "family," is against you.

I don't vote for liberals so she's the only person currently in the race for US Senate that I can vote for. And until noon passes we won't know who's in the race for good. But, after that time, if Jeb hasn't announced and Bense is passing up his opportunity, then the rest of us (conservatives and GOP) should start acting as if the next Senator from Florida will be Harris. Any potential challengers - McBride, Ross and others - can not possibly hope to defeat her in the primary, so why even discuss them as if they will ever face Nelson. If they do enter the race today, Harris should ignore them from day one and act as if the race for the Senate has begun. We should all recognize any challengers to Harris are taking a unique opportunity to raise name ID for future races. What better way to introduce yourself to Primary voters than to be on the same stage with Harris?

Space_cowboys

 

But let's not get to carried away. Harris will win the primary, and without our help, she will lose the General Election. I say, let's help her win, and let the Senate leadership control her. I would rather have the numbers in the Senate then a nagging reminder of what could have been right here at home. And, in the future, when you complain about the space cowboy trying to start a war with Cuba over oil, your first question should be, "what did I do to help KH?"

 

UPDATE: Like I said above, it's time to get behind Katherine. It looks like Senator Martinez succumbed to today's PEER Pressure -

Harris Welcomes Support of Senator Mel Martinez
Harris Campaign Also Responds to Close of Filing

For Immediate Release
May 12, 2006
Contact: Chris Ingram 
(813) 288-8400

(Tampa, Fla.) - The Katherine Harris for U.S. Senate campaign welcomed the reiteration of support expressed by U.S. Senator Mel Martinez in comments he made at the National Press Club today.

"A number of people have filed today. [Katherine Harris] is by far the most serious of those candidates and I think she will be the nominee. I wish her well. And I think that the best thing she can do is to focus her race on the issues and her opponent and their differences and why she would be a great senator from the state of Florida for this country. I wish her well. And I will be endorsing her -- if I have not already done so. I think I already have, but I will be, I am sure, campaigning with her," Martinez said.

 

"I am grateful for Senator Martinez's friendship, support, and endorsement. I look forward to having him with me on the campaign trail and serving with him in the United States Senate," Congresswoman Harris said.


 

Earlier today the Katherine Harris for U.S. Senate campaign responded to the close of filing of candidates for the U.S. Senate today.

Campaign spokesman Chris Ingram said, "While we would have preferred not to have had a contested Primary, the campaign is confident that it will continue to maintain and expand the support of loyal Republicans and grassroots activists who share Katherine Harris' commitment to fight for Florida's families, small businesses, and senior citizens. With a tremendous base of support, we expect to be victorious in September and November."

"The Primary gives us an opportunity to further demonstrate Katherine's commitment to the people of Florida and remind them she will be an independent voice for their concerns in the United States Senate. Today, more than ever, voters want a senator who has their interests in mind, as opposed to the interest of the political power-elite," he said.

"Ultimately, our focus will be on taking on liberal Bill Nelson in November and demonstrating the distinct differences between Katherine Harris the fighter, and Bill Nelson, the do-nothing senator," Ingram concluded.

###

 

May 11, 2006

Second fiddle

Over at O'Blog my friend Bob is making some observations regarding Tom Gallagher,

This isn't the first time Florida's CFO has played second fiddle to better Republicans.  He was second fiddle to Jeb Bush (twice), he was second fiddle to Bill McCollum, and he so often mentions that he is a husband and father that he is playing second fiddle to his wife and son in his own campaign. 

Gallagher has played second fiddle to Charlie Crist in fundraising and polling, and come September he'll become the Buffalo Bills of Florida politics.  He should have run for Senate when he had the chance.

I've never thought of the wife and son angle in quite that way, but I think he's right.

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Eric Copeland - typical democrat, without a plan

Found something interesting, but not surprising, over at Eric Copeland's site today.

Go to the site, and click on the heading titled Mission Statement. You should get a page that says,

No input file specified.

How utterly and pathetically correct. When it comes to an actual mission - as in having a plan - democrats, and Eric Copeland in particular, have, "no input."

Go quick, I know Derek Newton checks my site everyday so it's unlikely the site will remain this way for too long.

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Not-so-Sorry Charlie

Last week I said,

Once the media has designated a candidate that will be best for Florida the cue has been given to moderate voters in Florida that the candidate most likely to win, but least likely to take extreme positions, is thus.

It appears that choice has been made. This week it's Daniel Ruth from the TBO. Who will it be next week?

It looks like Brendan Farrington of the Herald Tribune AP* who submits this piece today,

Charisma.

The word is the same in Spanish and English, it needs no translation.

It's probably why Republican Charlie Crist did so well as he campaigned for governor Wednesday in Little Havana. He first stopped at a senior center, where many of the people waiting for him spoke little English. Crist took two years of high school Spanish, but has forgotten much of it.

It didn't matter. He worked the crowd well and was treated like a star. Many grabbed his hands with both of theirs and spoke passionately in Spanish.

No, it didn't matter. Unless Crist walks into a room and says he's coming for your firstborn, you're not going to see another negative piece on Charlie. And I could argue this story is submitted to communicate the message to moderate democrats who stand with the Cuban and Latino communities on many issues. The message, "Charlie's our guy."

Let's see who submits a piece next week...

* Note: The story linked was found at the Herald Tribune, but since it's an AP story it ran in several Florida newspapers. This post implies that the Herald Tribune was the next paper to "unofficially" endorse Crist, when in fact several papers ran the same story. In any event, it doesn't cast any shadow on the theory that the FL MSM as a whole has chosen Charlie Crist to be the next Governor.

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May 10, 2006

Bense not running for Senate

Well, I guess that settles it then doesn't it? Sayfie put the siren back to work. Haven't seen that thing in a while. I kinda miss it... back to the point.

Or, it allows enough time for the national GOP and state party leaders to show Bense the full monty in one last ditch effort to get him in. translation, show him the money. If it aint $15-20 million gauranteed, I wouldn't do it either. Of course I've said as much long, long ago.

We are still talking about politics here, right? Tell me again he's not running after the deadline to file passes.

Another useless poll

Does this even need to be rebutted? Anybody who places stock in an internal poll of only 600 respondents gets exactly what they deserve.

In the AG's race, Campbell - though unknown to 75% of those surveyed - is statistically tied with Bill McCollum (unknown to 38%) 41%-37%. MOE was +/1 3.5.

You have got to be kidding me. What are they thinking over at the Times to report on internal polling with 13.5% MOE? They should get the Knucklehead of the Day award from The Florida Masochist.

Show of hands, how many people think Walter "Skip" Campbell is going to win the AG race? Raise them high. Come on people, I can't see you back in the back if you don't stand up.

Seeing none.

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Ron Klein, still just a lobbyist

Ron Klein doesn't get it,

"One might ask, `What are we doing under this bridge?' " Klein said to a crowd of supporters, including Broward Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Caesar and Caesar's ninth-grade daughter, whom he pulled from school early for the political event.

Klein, of Boca Raton, said when the Clay Shaw Bridge was dedicated to the longtime congressman in 2002, gas was $1.35 a gallon. Now prices are topping $3.

Education, less important than politics - check.
Politicizing monument to wildly popular and historic congressman in the name of liberal hypocricy - check.

The Shaw campaign office gets it,

Shaw's office called Klein's speech hypocritical, pointing out that Klein had benefited personally from America's dependence on oil. Klein's financial disclosure forms from last year show he held stock in oil-gas energy company Kerr McGee Corp. Klein also reported holding stock in World Fuel Services, which describes itself as "the major oil companies' marketer of choice in the aviation and shipping industries.''

Speaking truth to hypocricy - check.

The NRCC gets it,

The National Republican Congressional Committee also issued a news release pointing to Klein's 2004 vote against a gas tax holiday for Florida consumers.

And Shaw spokeswoman Gail Gitcho definitely gets it -

"The only thing Ron Klein has named after him is a lobbying firm,''

I love that quote. I imagine it was bantied around at a morning office meeting and somebody was just waiting for a good opportunity to use it. *Note to Harris camp - this is what good PR and communications looks like.

Also, I wanted to point this out -

Qualifying for the November election began this week in congressional races. Shaw qualified Tuesday to run, submitting over 6,000 signatures -- 4,458 were required -- rather than paying the fee. Klein plans to qualify today by paying the $9,500 fee.

Now that Klein is down $800,000 big ones he may want to think about saving every penny he's got.

I suppose when you decide to challenge a man who has been re-elected 12 times, in a district that overlaps your own by only 20%, then you better have some on-the-ground support before you start talking a big game. I think by not getting the signatures Klein has made it clear that this race may be one of the most talked about nationwide, but voters back home have already decided. Somebody should tell Klein if he really wants to start lobbying somebody for a new job he should start with the voters and not the liberals in DC.

Better yet, just tell Klein to go home.

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May 09, 2006

Good news for Smith

More good news for Smith.

After last week's endorsement from the Broward Teachers Union, Smith locks up the two largest teachers unions in the state. This is something of a minor coup for Smith because in all of my dealings with Davis supporters they all expected Davis to receive the support of educators in a big way. Whether Smith gets the FEA endorsment or not is now irrelevant.

Last week I made this comment with regard to Democrats inthis years elections,

If the more "electable" candidate [Davis] is not going to win anyway, then activist want to support the guy they like the most. That action, of course, has the effect of marginalizing the entire organization and closing the door on any late election gaffes by the front runner and/or the possibility of a come from behind victory by an otherwise strong candidate.

I'm guessing it's possible FEA may have actually set it up to happen this way. They can allow a functional majority of it's members to endorse their favorite candidate through the local organizations while the official position of FEA is noncommital. The FEA has thus provided itself a backdoor to the "marginalizaiton effect" I mentioned above.

Maybe the democrats should hire the FEA political staff to run their campaigns. It seems like they have some intelligent people working for them.

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May 05, 2006

Without illegal aliens

Found this over at The Neo Con Blogger.

...if illegal aliens all took the day off and were truly invisible for one day, there would be some plusses along with the mild inconveniences.

Hospital emergency rooms across the southwest would have about 20-percent fewer patients, and there would be 183,000 fewer people in Colorado without health insurance.

OBGYN wards in Denver would have 24-percent fewer deliveries and Los Angeles’s maternity-ward deliveries would drop by 40 percent and maternity billings to Medi-Cal would drop by 66 percent.

Youth gangs would see their membership drop by 50 percent in many states, and in Phoenix, child-molestation cases would drop by 34 percent and auto theft by 40 percent.

In Durango, Colorado, and the Four Corners area and the surrounding Indian reservations, the methamphetamine epidemic would slow for one day, as the 90 percent of that drug now being brought in from Mexico was held in Albuquerque and Farmington a few hours longer. According to the sheriff of La Plata County, Colorado, meth is now being brought in by ordinary illegal aliens as well as professional drug dealers.

If the “Day-Without-an-Immigrant Boycott” had been held a year earlier on May 8, 2005, and illegal alien Raul Garcia-Gomez had stayed home and did not work or go to a party that day, Denver police officer Donnie Young would still be alive and Garcia-Gomez would not be sitting in a Denver jail awaiting trial.

If the boycott had been held on July 1, 2004, Justin Goodman of Thornton, Colorado, would still be riding his motorcycle and Roberto Martinez-Ruiz would not be in prison for killing him and then fleeing the scene while driving on a suspended license.

What is the price for illegal immigration on your community?

MORE: Collier County knows the price. I wonder how many of these guys are illegal or MS-13? Click on any of the 14 mugshots to see what scum truly looks like. Amnesty? I don't think so.

Sexual Battery and Kidnapping  10/1  approximately 4:00am
827 Rebecca Drive, Immokalee
Victim: W/F/18
Arrested: Rene Perezgarcia W/M/22    823 Rebecca Dr
Mario Lopez Luis W/M/19    827 Rebecca Dr
Herman Sanchez Salas W/M/28     827 Rebecca Dr
Ovidio Lopez Funez W/M/19   827 Rebecca Dr
Napoleon Perez Lopez W/M/29   827 Rebecca Dr
Edwin Albaladego Rivera W/M/28    827 Rebecca Dr
Ermitanio Lopez Salas W/M/18   827 Rebecca Dr
Isreal Santiago W/M/56   827 Rebecca Dr
Rolando Perez Claudio W/M/23   827 Rebecca Dr
Alvarado Perez Luis W/M/21   827 Rebecca Dr
Augusto Perez Lopez W/M/32   827 Rebecca Dr
Cesar Perez Lopez W/M/29   827 Rebecca Dr
Gabino Garcia Godinez W/M/24   827 Rebecca Dr
Augusto Garcia Velasquez W/M/30   827 Rebecca Dr

At the above date and time, deputies responded to an undisclosed location for a report of a sexual battery with multiple suspects. Through investigation, it was determined that the victim was sleeping when she answered a knock at the door. Several males grabbed her and forcefully brought her to 827 Rebecca Drive. More subjects were inside the residence when the victim arrived. She was choked, battered, and then blacked out. When she regained consciousness, one of the males was plugging her nose and another male was pouring alcohol into her mouth. Her pants were removed. While several men restrained her, she was sexually battered by multiple suspects. She was then pushed out the front door where she went to another location to call the Sheriff’s Office. The victim was transported to the hospital. Arrests made and all subjects were ordered by the judge to be held without bond. The charges for all subjects are sex battery – multiple perpetrators (1st degree felony), and kidnapping – false imprisonment.

The other Broward endorsement

The Broward Teachers Union endorsed Rod Smith yesterday. Davis should hope this is the exception and not the rule. If Smith picks up the Florida Education Association endorsement next week then the dems could have a real race on their hands. Apparently some dems want to fight, not just nominate the most electable candidate.

A couple of days ago I mentioned some side effects when the media signals it's preferred choice. Well, another side effect is what you are seeing with this democrat development - when democrats know they are going to lose, and the media has signaled as much, then the determination is made to go down swinging. If the more "electable" candidate is not going to win anyway, then activist want to support the guy they like the most. That action, of course, has the effect of marginalizing the entire organization and closing the door on any late election gaffes by the front runner and/or the possibility of a come from behind victory by an otherwise strong candidate.

So much for sitting and waiting for the GOP to damage each other allowing for the democrat to go head-to-head in the fall.

What liberal media?

None here. No. Nothing to see. Move along.

UPDATE: At least she gets a prize - Knucklehead of the Day Award Winner.

Tensions build in race for Gov.

Today's Miami Herald,

In a vote about as surprising as summer's arrival in Florida,
Broward Republican activists on Thursday overwhelmingly endorsed
Charlie Crist for governor -- again -- over rival Tom Gallagher.

The unexpected moment of the night was that Gallagher showed up,
knowing he didn't have the votes. So did Crist, though many supporters
assumed the two-time winner would come to bask in his victory.

The vote -- called after complaints that a Jan. 30 endorsement vote was unfairly conducted -- was 194 to 24.

''I'm humbled by your support,'' Crist said after the vote was announced. ``Tom, let's have a good race.''

Gallagher kept a smile on his face but said: ``I think every
individual should pick a candidate, but it's a mistake to have the
organization itself involved.''

I wasn't there, but just reading that passage I can feel the tension as Gallagher forces a tortured smile on his face not allowing for the possibility of a "good race" and not wanting to confirm that very private notion in public.

The tension is building, and this action in Broward will not go unpunished by the Gallagher "faithful" who feel wronged, again, and will eventually find themselves in positions of power. It's unfortunate we hold so many grudges in a process that is supposed to be raucous and civilized at all once.

My wife's words are often best - they're both Republicans. Get over it.

May 04, 2006

Rod Smith is funny

Watching Rod Smith give his goodbye speech on the floor of the Senate

Very Funny


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May 03, 2006

FL Democratic Message

Hahahaha hahaah ahah ahhha hahaa ha aha ah ahh ahha ah hahahaha aha ah!

Ehhh. ehh.

Hah aha ha . oh, uh, oh. hoh ha ah oa hha.

No, no, wait. bwababha hah aha ah  ahah ha! Please. stop.


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May 01, 2006

More thoughts on Sorry Charlie

There is no question the Florida media by-in-large does not support the conservative candidates of this state. However, there is a difference between supporting the opposition and knowing when to choose sides. And while there is still the Primary to get through, the race for Florida Governor is essentially over.

While Republicans hold virtually every office in Florida they wouldn't have been able to accomplish it if not for some right leaning democrats, Independents, NPA's and moderate Republicans voting comfortably for republicans they don't agree with on everything, but more so than the democrats on the other side. Those voters get their cue from print media and you can count the media among those groups who have learned to acknowledge when the gig is up, the GOP candidate is going to win, and it would be in their best interest to help the "lesser of two evils" take office.

Once the media has designated a candidate that will be best for Florida the cue has been given to moderate voters in Florida that the candidate most likely to win, but least likely to take extreme positions, is thus.

It appears that choice has been made. This week it's Daniel Ruth from the TBO. Who will it be next week? We should see more and more "objective pieces" from the media defending Crist from Gallagher's attacks and occasionally extolling the moderate policy positions offered by Jim Davis that they would like to see when Charlie Crist is elected.

It may be that Tom Gallagher will be able to look back to last week and thank the brainchild behind sorrycharlie.com for his ultimate defeat. He was facing an uphill battle already, and everyone expected some mudraking and dirty tactics to take a downward spiral - many were secretly looking forward to it - but the juvenile website is a hint at the types of strategies and activities a Gallagher administration is willing to allow. Whether they encouraged it or not, they certainly did not discredit it, and it was probably the beginning of the end of their campaign.

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Ron Klein raising money during session from his favorite group, trial lawyers

I wonder if Senator Ron Klein took this money as a psuedo-lobbyist on behalf of the trial lawyers in Florida?

As the Florida Senate prepared to vote on one of the most heavily lobbied, big-money issues in years, one side with a huge stake in the battle was pouring money into the congressional campaign of state Sen. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton.

A South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis of Klein's campaign contributions shows a spike in donations from attorneys in March. He took in $50,350 from attorneys that month, 21/2 times his $19,750 monthly average from attorneys since becoming a candidate for Congress last year.

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April 28, 2006

Panel will be formed to help black men, boys

Finally. Millions of black men everywhere must be thankful today,

State Sen. Frederica Wilson knows what a little TLC can do for at-risk black boys.

As the founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, the
Miami Democrat has seen troubled teens go from life on the streets to
college graduation.


For the past two years, Wilson, a former Miami-Dade School Board
member, has made it her mission to pass legislation aimed at helping
more black men and boys.

Imagine the irony of a panel to help black men and boys, created by a black woman. That's really a reflection of traditional black culture don't you think? It really couldn't be done any other way.

The 19-member council, which would be run out of the state attorney
general's office, would study the social disparities facing black men
and boys, including high arrest rates, drug abuse and school
performance.


''We need to find some solutions,'' said Wilson, the bill's main
architect. ``We want different people to come to the table to come up
with ideas on how to address these problems.''


Modeled after a successful program in Indiana -- the Commission on
the Social Status of Black Males -- the proposed Florida project would
be made up of politicians, psychologists and officials from a number of
state departments.

What? There won't be any scientologist on the panel? If they can cure heroine addiction in 3 days they should be able to solve the problems of black men and boys in something like, I don't know, 6 weeks?

It's pretty simple isn't it? Respect women, no sex until marriage, no children out of wedlock, study in high school, go to college, get a job, get married. Nearly all of the black men and boys in prison for violent crime or drugs failed to do most, if not all, of those things. Those are all the things I tell my 15 year old I want from him. Imagine the clarity of it all.

Responsibility. Accountability. Hard Work. Those are some amazing attributes for anybody - man, woman or child.

'Black men seem to be at the bottom of the totem pole usually,''
said state Rep. Frank Peterman Jr., a St. Petersburg Democrat who filed
the House bill. ``We need to come up with innovative ways to turn the
tide.''

The push is especially important to Peterman, who is black, because
of his childhood experiences in St. Petersburg. Several of his friends
died at young ages from gun-shot wounds, beatings and stabbings, he
said.

Yet, somehow, Rep. Peterman made it to the Florida House of Representatives? That's just not possible according to the mythos perpetrated by people like Sen Wilson. Is he a black man? Why isn't he in prison? Maybe he did somehting different with his childhood? Stayed out of trouble? Went to school? Went to college? Got married? Maybe the Rep. Peterman already knows the answer, but the democrat in him just won't let it out. It would be much better to spend taxpayer dollars to create a self serving commission to eventually create more programs designed to "help" black men and boys.

The truth is black men aren't at the bottom of any totem pole, but the government and self serving politicians want to put them there. They want black men to think that's where they are and they tell them everyday that's where they are, and they tell them it's not their fault and somebody else should be doing something about it, do something for them, help them, give them what they need. They tell black men that because it gives people like Sen. Wilson and Rep. Peterman power, it gives them a reason to get reelected - to get, and unltimately, give black men what they need to succeed.

Seriously though, this is my commentary -

Black men, all men, have the power to do great things in spite of great odds and overwhelming pressure to do destructive things. Most boys learn this from their fathers. That's where it should start.

Let the hate mail commence.

House bill. Senate bill (substituted with house bill).

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FL Senator Bill Nelson - Warmonger?

Sen Bill Nelson wants to go to war with Cuba. That's the only conclusion I can draw from his proposal to stop Cuba from drilling for oil off the coast of their own country.

Sen. Bill Nelson plans to announce today legislation that he says
could prevent Cuba from drilling in its waters some 50 miles off Key
West.

The Florida Democrat says his bill would block President Bush from
renewing a 1977 international agreement that allows Cuba to conduct
commercial activity in waters off its coast, near the Keys -- unless
the administration secures an agreement to prevent Cuba from putting
oil rigs near Florida.

And if we don't secure that agreement how does Senator Nelson plan to stop a communist country from drilling off it's own coast? The only logical conclusion is he wants to go to war with Cuba over oil.

Where is the liberal outrage? I hope ANSWER is protesting outside his offices today... if they aren't too busy organizing communist rallies for millions of criminals living in our country that is.




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April 27, 2006

April Strategic Vision poll: Harris, Gallagher, Smith still lose their respective races, Bense a big winner

Say what? Nelson, Crist and Davis still hold substantial leads according to SV. None of that is news to anybody paying attention (maybe the Gallagher people will be surprised it's not dead even), but there was some quirky bit of info to be found and I pulled it out.

This poll reminded me that I have always thought there was something wrong with this poll but I never really knew what. I think I figured it out this time around - oversampling southern Florida voters. Here's some interesting results with the appropriate information underlined,

29. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support? (Republicans only)
                Tommy Franks 38%
                Katherine Harris 34%
                Mark Foley 5%
                Allan Bense 4%

                Tom Lee 3%
                Ginny Brown-Waite 3%
                Dave Weldon 2%
                Daniel Webster 1%
                Undecided 10%

             

30. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support? (Republicans only; Franks Excluded)
                Katherine Harris 36%
                Tom Gallagher 34%
                Mark Foley 7%
                Allan Bense 5%

                Tom Lee 3%
                Ginny Brown-Waite 2%
                Dave Weldon 1%
                Daniel Webster 1%
                Undecided 11%

             

31. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support? (Republicans only; Gallagher Excluded)
                Katherine Harris 35%
                Mark Foley 19%
                Allan Bense 12%
                Tom Lee 8%

                Ginny Brown-Waite 5%
                Dave Weldon 3%
                Daniel Webster 1%
                Undecided 17%

             

32. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support Katherine Harris or Alan Bense?
                Katherine Harris 38%
                Allan Bense 21%

                Undecided 41%

             

33. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support Katherine Harris or Mark Foley?
                Katherine Harris 39%
                Mark Foley 24%

                Undecided 37%

             

34. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support? (Republicans only; Harris Excluded)
                Tommy Franks 42%
                Mark Foley 15%
                Allan Bense 7%

                Ginny Brown-Waite 4%
                Dave Weldon 3%
                Tom Lee 3%
                Daniel Webster 2%
                Undecided 24%

             

35. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support? (Republicans only; Harris and Franks Excluded)
                Tom Gallagher 33%
                Mark Foley 21%
                Allan Bense 5%

                Ginny Brown-Waite 4%
                Dave Weldon 3%
                Tom Lee 2%
                Daniel Webster 1%
                Undecided 31%

             

36. If the election for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 2006 were held today, whom would you support? (Republicans only; Harris, Franks, Gallagher Excluded)                
                Mark Foley 28%
                Allan Bense 12%

                Ginny Brown-Waite 7%
                Tom Lee 6%
                Dave Weldon 3%
                Daniel Webster 1%
                Undecided 43%

What does it say? When Franks, Harris and Gallagher are on the ballot, Foley and Bense are similar in results with Foley scoring slightly higher. Remove Franks and both Bense and Foley rise slightly, but of no consequence. Remove Gallagher (popular in S. Florida) and Foley's name rises twice as fast (not to mention Lee more than doubles)

Put Harris head-to-head with either Bense or Foley and they do relatively equal (within the MOE). Put Franks (a Tampa and S. Florida favorite) back in and the results drop to original numbers. And, the clencher for me is, when you put Gallagher head-to head with these guys then Foley's numbers rise dramatically but Bense's barely move, a clear indication of head to head competition between two well known S. Florida guys.

I think this poll samples heavily from Tampa and various points south. It would make sense statistically speaking to poll from that area since a majority of FL residents, and voters, live south of Tampa. But, I think it is clear that higher name ID for candidates in or from that part of the state ellicit higher responses, possibly so much so that voters aren't really picking one over the other so much as saying, "if I have to pick one (instead of Harris) then I've heard of this guy." It's not preferential, it's popular memory. The bad news is, unfortunately, blindly picking the name voters are most familiar with can, and often does, win elections too. This is also why the first name on the ballot gets a 2-4 point bump.

The good news (for Bense anyway) is Foley has come out and said he's not getting in. Ditto for Franks. (Which raises the question of why they are still in this poll? Jennings too. Why do they keep polling information about Jennings?)

Want more proof?

27. If the election for Chief Financial Officer were held today between State Senate President Tom Lee and State Representative Randy Johnson, whom would you support? (Republicans only)
                Tom Lee 28%
                Randy Johnson 23%
                Undecided 49%

45. If the election were held today for United States Senate, whom would you support, Bill Nelson, the Democrat or Tom Lee, the Republican?
                Bill Nelson 48%
                Tom Lee 37%
                Undecided 15%

Tom Lee only polls over 3% when the big names are off, and he's barely beating Randy Johnson in head-to-heads (not a good sign for Lee). But if he's the only pick, then his numbers skyrocket. Look at the undecideds. They're lower than the overalls. A sure sign that these voters, when given only two choices, know exactly what they want, and that tells me these samples are overly familiar with Tampa and south florida candidates.

Also, I think in the Strategic Vision polls we are seeing an indifference to candidate Harris. I think the numbers reflect the maximum she can get (around 40%), and I think that's generous if it turns out this poll truly does oversample the Tampa or south FL vote. There is no doubt in my mind if Bense hit the campaign trail he would start with 30% of the south FL vote, win most, if not all, of north FL, and eventually the undecided vote would swing his way. I honestly think he could ignore everything West of Gainesville, there's nothing Harris could do to swing it.

So, all he has to do is focus on Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Port Charlotte and the rural areas in between, Visit Orlando and Jacksonville on the weekends and voila! This is assuming, of course, substantial monetary and inkind support from the state and national party apparatus. When I first started talking about a possible Harris v. Bense matchup I suggested Bense would be foolish to challenge her, and he was wise enough not to. That was the old Harris. This new Harris is easily beatable by a great candidate. Ultimately, I would say Bense could beat her by something like 54-46.

I think this much is true; Bense has little more than two weeks to file and if he hasn't filed for the US Senate race by May 12, then he should be shortlisted for Lt. Gov. But of course, I've been saying that for a long time too...

P.S. I guess there is one other interesting bit of information, Question 41 -

41. If the election were held today for United States Senate, whom would you support, Bill Nelson, the Democrat or Tom Gallagher, the Republican?
                Bill Nelson 47%
                Tom Gallagher 45%
                Undecided 8%

TG has a little over two weeks too. If Gallagher jumps, then expect Crist and Bense to join forces.(I decided there are too many names from Orlando that make as much, if not better, electoral sense for Crist. Bense is a great candidate, but he doesn't really help Crist in a General Election.)

If Gallagher stays, expect him to beg Bense to join his ticket.

Oh, and I think we may have a democrat for CFO next year. Hard to tell at this point, but definitely possible.

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April 26, 2006

Sorry Charlie

Ok, I won't comment on it, I'll just post the link - sorrycharlie.com - and say that it's pretty obvious this is coordinated with the Gallagher campaign. I don't mean because it's anti Charlie, but because the message points blend nicely with the results of their "little" survey of GOP supervoters.

Here's the thing though, since it obviously is coordinated with the campaign, it comes off as childish and immature. Those aren't qualities synonomous with "come from behind."

And just to drive the point home, this is from the most recent Gallagher campaign email,

It isn’t about the person with the most money, or who is ahead in the polls who will win the election.  It is the campaign with the best grassroots organization that will win.

No, actually, it is about the person with the most money AND who is ahead in the polls AND who has the best grassroots organization. Right now Crist is winning on 2 out of 3. Gallagher can hope that his grassroots will turn the tide on the polls and help with the fundraising, but the best he can hope for is for people to stop giving to Crist and for Crist to start attacking him. And that scenario is a net minus for Gallagher because he will have to spend money to respond.

Do you see how it gets tricky when you get behind? It doesn't help when your efforts start coming across as sophmoric. Be a little more professional is my advice.

And if I'm wrong about it being coordinated with the Gallagher camp, so what? If I was Crist I would attack on it anyway and force the Gallagher campaign to prove they didn't have anything to do with it. It just makes them waste more time and gets them off message.

April 24, 2006

Marty Bowen, Commissioner of Agriculture

This far out, who knows? But she wants it, and I think she has a great chance to win.

But in 2010, two years after being term limited in 2008, Bowen plans to seek a permanent job headquartered in Tallahassee -Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

There's virtually no chance that Bronson will lose this year (Democrats have clearly not targeted him) and he is a great friend of Bowen. He could hire her as Deputy Commissioner during the run up to the election, and it would all be over but the cooking.

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I'm sick and tired of taxes

I've been fighting a little something in my head and throat for a few days and it seems to be getting worse. Except for some local Tallahassee news, todays state news is nothing new. I'll post something tomorrow.

Regarding the local news....

My wife and I have been thinking of buying a house in the area. Thinking of calling Tallahassee home for a while. It's either here or Jacksonville.

It's clear from this article Bob Rackleff is going to vote to increase property taxes in Leon County to the highest levels in the state. if it goes through, my wife and I won't be buying a house here and that's a critical issue for Leon county. The county needs more people our age, with our skills and our income. The town is full of the young, poor and uninsured, and their costs are being covered by the older, executive and near retirement community.  Most of the middle aged middle management group comes here, rents for a few years, then leaves. That's a economic structure ripe for future failure. The county's answer is to raise property taxes and scare away the very group of people they need to attract?

Considering the very liberal Bob Rackleff is up for reelection and he is facing several candidates, including one very well financed Frank Mayernick, I can't believe he would openly suggest support for such a large tax increase, in spite of his liberal positions. I will propose the idea that he is tired of fighting battles with the commissioners, several of whom don't really like him anyway, and will be thinking if he's going to lose he will be going out in a blaze of glory. A less talented candidate familiar with this city and his history would chalk this up to Bob being Bob. But Mayernick should, and probably will, hang this albatross around Bob Rackleff's neck. Proposing to raise taxes to the highest in the state in an election year is suicide for conservatives and liberals alike.

And another thing, how throurough of a study could it have been if their only answer was to raise taxes to the highest levels in the state?




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April 21, 2006

Harris ups and downs

Just when it was starting to look like Harris was finally on the right track, she gets knocked back off.

This story is terrible PR -

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel  this week, Harris R-Longboat Key, said it was "news to me"...

In her interview Wednesday, Harris acknowledged for the first time that Wade had paid for the dinner at Citronelle, reversing a statement from her congressional spokeswoman earlier this year.

But in the interview, Harris also said her campaign had, at some point, "reimbursed" the restaurant.

When asked how she could have reimbursed a business that was owed no money -- Wade paid the bill that evening -- she abruptly ended the interview and walked off.

Her spokesman called back an hour later and asked a reporter not to publish anything Harris had said Wednesday night about the dinner.

On Thursday, Harris' campaign released a two-paragraph statement that differed from her explanation a day earlier. It stated that Harris thought her "campaign would be reimbursing" her share of the meal but later found out that hadn't happened.

To resolve any questions, the statement said, "I have donated to a local Florida charity $100 which will more than adequately compensate for the cost of my beverage and appetizer."

That series of statements doesn't resolve any questions that matter to reporters and liberals. And voters.

And, to compund the misery, this story which looks maverick and cutting edge in this take, is just plain silly in this one. From the first story,

Spokesman Chris Ingram said Thursday that the dollars came from the campaign but he didn't know how many were mailed out or how many were returned with checks.

''Believe it or not, it generates a response,'' Ingram said. ``It's a very common practice in political circles and consumer marketing circles.''

But some political insiders -- including her opponent's staff -- were unfamiliar with the tactic outside of the business world.

''We've never heard of this happening,'' said Nelson spokesman Chad Clanton, who has been working on campaigns for more than a decade. ``Obviously it's another bizarre chapter in the Katherine Harris campaign.''

And from the second story,

Two weeks after Harris said she would put millions of dollars of her own money into the race for the U.S. Senate, $1 bills starting pouring in from all over the nation.

In all, more than 220 donations of $1 each came into the campaign in the final week of March.

The $1 donations were prompted by a mass mailing Harris sent to supporters in which she included a crisp George Washington of her own and asked them to multiply the amount and send it back.

Many of those supporters did. Others simply returned the $1, which the Harris campaign counted as a donation and put on her campaign finance report.

Ok. Let's start with Ingram not knowing how many were mailed out or how many returned. Complete BS. If you are going to try a gimmicky stunt like this to raise money (and it does raise money) then you better be prepared for the inevitable questions that are going to come. If you don't have anwers for the obvious questions that are going to come from "I hate you" liberal reporters, then don't take the questions.

Second, I can't believe Clanton said they've never heard of it happening. He's running a campaign for Senate for goodness sakes. The least you should do is act as if you have heard of it, that KH is not breaking any new ground, and that Nelson is more responible with his donations than to send what was likely $10,000 or more in cash through US Postal Service. That's not a lot to a campaign, and it makes good sense from a direct mail point of view, but to the average voter $10,000 is a lot of money and it looks wasteful and fraught with poor judgement. But Clanton didn't spin it that way, instead he said she was different, cutting edge, willing to try new things. Only the Harris camp can't spin that angle because,

In the second story reporters are pointing out that the Harris people are reporting as actual donations the money they sent to donors and subsequently came back. I don't even know if that's legal, but it surely isn't accurate. And besides, only 220? Now, if they only sent a 1000 mailings and 220 came back, that would be phenomenal. I would be ordering up another round at ten times that amount. With all the press coverage of this fundraising effort you can guarantee donors receiving a letter from the Harris camp would open their next piece of mail. The first hurdle in direct mail is getting the recipient to open the letter. Odds are if they will do that then they will read the letter. If the will read it, then the odds go up they will respond. At 22% response rate on the first mailing it's guaranteed to do as well the next time.

But no, they didn't send 1000, they probably sent 10,000, or 100,000. And at those numbers 220 (or more) is pawltry, silly, and wasteful.

You see how easy it is? Why can't they get it together over there? Why can't they take control of the message? The Nelson camp is only good at staying quite and getting out of the way, and when the Harris camp does the right thing they fall all over themselves answering questions that detract them from their message.

I can't believe they aren't mopping up the Nelson camp.

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April 20, 2006

With polls, subsets will tell you everything

And I will tell you the recent Q. poll is misleading on it's face, the state of Florida is not a toss up state. But, with a little digging we can get some relevant information from this otherwise useless poll.

The Q. poll will tell you 951 registered voters (which is about the most unreliable group to poll) can't decide - statistically speaking - who they want for governor. When you take a closer look a the subgroups it's not surprising. A third of those polled were identified as non party, non affiliated, independent or some other party. These voters, by definition, are undecided. Why bother?

Of the 951 polled, 383 are democrat and 385 are republican, and that means the margin of error for the intra party head-to-heads subsets is approximately 5%, not the 3.2% used for the entire polling sample.

However, among the democrat subset sampled fully half were undecided. This means Davis was beating Smith 27 to 17 among 192 registered democrats, who may or may not vote, or have ever voted for that matter, with a margin of error that now stands at 7%. My professional opinion is the selection bias (registered voters) is further error prone because less than half of registered voters actually vote, but since this is outside the margin of error I would still say Davis is beating Smith. By how much I am unsure.

Among GOP, a full third were undecided, so among roughly 255 registered republicans who may or may not vote, or have ever voted, Crist was beating Gallagher by 4 points, with a margin of error for this subset at 6.2%. Assuming that a poll of 255 registered voters in a state with 15 million people can be accurate, this number is not outside the margin of error, and it means nothing. For all intents and purposes, they are tied.

And in light of this information nugget,

...the Gallagher campaign this month sent key supporters a summary of a massive internal survey it conducted of likely Republican voters. The 3,000-person statewide survey found Crist leading Gallagher by 2 percentage points, 33 to 31 percent.

I think if the Gallagher camp had raised money like it promised it would, then this information would look much better. As it is, being $2.5 million behind and spending money (not for communication I might add) much faster than Crist, it's going to be difficult, regardless of the poll numbers. It's amazing to say a candidate who has raised $7 million to date doesn't have enough money, but he doesn't. The dynamic created by the design of their campaign is flawed for two reasons. They underestimated Crist's ability to 1) raise money and 2) maintain a lean campaign structure.

But, like I've always said, the Gallagher campaign has possibly the greatest organizational structure ever created for a political campaign in the state of Florida, and if the people are truly behind him, he can pull it out. Unfortunatley, this poll doesn't shed light on that helpful piece of information and every poll up to this point shows Crist with a commanding lead.

When will somebody poll actual GOP voters who actually vote? I'd love to see that information the Gallagher camp is passing around. Feel free to send it to me if you've got it.

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April 11, 2006

Wonder where he learned those skills?

Video of Fl State Senator and democrat Gary Siplin eluding cameras by slipping out the office back door and scaling a fence before entering a waiting car. Riveting.

Some lawmakers smile when charged. Others, jump the fence.


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April 10, 2006

Q: When is $1.39 million not enough?

A: When your name is Tom Gallagher and everyone expects you to raise $2.39 million, or more.
A: When your opponent's cash advantage exceeds the amount you have raised in every reporting quarter.
A: When the likelyhood you will close the gap no longer exists.
A: When you are fighting not only your intraparty opponent, but public perception too, and your losing already.

It's time for Tom Gallagher to think seriously about that race for US Senate. His organization will help him tremendously and his willingness to step aside will be rewarded by the GOP faithful. I haven't said it yet, but I have been thinking the only way another Republican can beat Harris in a primary (should it come to that) is in a situation where Harris had the opportunity to do a good thing for the party (again) and refused, and her opponent was put in a similar position, and accepted. Enter Tom Gallagher. Should he consider dropping the race for Governor?

If Charlie Crist wanted to sit on his double digit lead and play defense through the remainder of this campaign he has enough money - and then some - to counter every ad, every action, every strategy from Tom Gallagher all while holding enough money in reserve to outspend whichever democrat emerges from the primary. The only thing to worry about now is if Rod Smith drops out of the race for Governor and looks to the AG or Commisioner of Agriculture posts leaving a single candidate to begin his campaign 6 months ahead of schedule. But even that's not much to worry about.

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April 07, 2006

Gallagher camp - They like me, they really like me.

So, I printed the press release from the Crist campaign the other day, I'll go ahead and post today's press release from the Gallagher camp. After you read it, tell me if you are thinking the same thing I am. If you've already read it or you attended the event, then skip to the bottom.

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, April 07, 2006

Social Conservative Leaders Unite Behind Tom Gallagher

TALLAHASSEE
Florida Chief Financial Officer and candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor Tom Gallagher today announced more than 100 social conservative leaders who will comprise his Social Conservatives for Gallagher Coalition. The Social Conservatives for Gallagher Coalition will continue building grassroots support for Tom Gallagher’s campaign among values voters in the upcoming election.


“The next Governor must have a clear and concise vision, and the courage to stick to his convictions. I have laid out specific policy proposals, taken clear stands on the issues, and have stood on our values throughout my campaign,” said CFO Tom Gallagher. “I am excited by the outpouring of support we have received from Florida’s families and social conservatives, and I will continue to outline my proposals to expand on Jeb Bush’s conservative leadership of our state.”


Tom Gallagher is the only candidate for Governor of Florida who is running a campaign consistent with the core values of the Republican Party. Tom Gallagher is pro-life and will advocate for laws to limit the number of abortions in Florida. Tom Gallagher will work to encourage and increase the number of adoptions in our state through expanding the One Church One Child Program, and opposes efforts to allow homosexuals to adopt. Moreover, Tom Gallagher is the only candidate for governor with a 100% pro-life voting record and who has been consistent in his support for an amendment to Florida’s
constitution defending marriage as the union between a man and a woman.


John Stemberger, who most recently led the effort to have a ballot initiative defining and protecting traditional marriage in Florida was named as Statewide Coalition Chair for the Social Conservatives for Gallagher Coalition.


“There is no question where Tom Gallagher stands on the issues important to Florida’s conservative voters,” said Stemberger. “As a father and a family man, Tom has stood with us to defend innocent life, oppose redefinition of marriage, and promote the values that make our families stronger. Others may claim consistency when the cameras are on, but Tom lives his conservatism.”


“There is no doubt in Florida’s social conservative community that Tom Gallagher is the right candidate to defend our values,” said Pam Olsen, who served as National Co-Chair of the Bush-Cheney Social Conservatives. “No other candidate has proven their commitment to defend our mainstream Florida values like Tom.”


Mrs. Olsen will serve as Statewide Co-Chair for the Social Conservatives for Gallagher Coalition.


The coalition announced today includes over 100 Social Conservative Leaders from across the state, including Bush-Cheney Social Conservatives, Christian Coalition Members, and Clergy.

###

I'm not going to print the one hundred names that went with it....

Now here's my thought -
Crist press release, "we raised buckets of cash from thousands of people."
Gallagher press release, "we have one hundred friends."

Now look, I doubt anybody will support conservative positions more than I will. In fact, I can say there is no question in my mind that I, Mr. C, am more conservative than Tom Gallagher. But, from a political strategy perspective, uhm, I don't think that press release is going to cut it when it comes to winning this election.

On Monday, Gallagher better be sporting a press release that says, "Tom won the powerball and has dedicated his winnings to his campaign for governor." If he's not, I think we'll look back on that Friday "big announcement" as the moment Tom jumped the shark. Either he's keeping up, or surpassing, Charlie in fundraising, or he isn't. And, if he isn't, then he should look to another office... again.

I don't think Florida has ever seen a better organized campaign than the Gallagher campaign, but the strategy is leaving much to be desired. I am starting to think there is a reason Charlie is raising so much money, and that reason may be larger than Tom's organization. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

100 friends. You gotta be kidding. This isn't another "yellow rose garden" campaign.

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April 06, 2006

From the Crist campaign - "We're rich!"

Well, that's the point of this press release...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               CONTACT:       Vivian Myrtetus

April 6, 2006                                                                (850) 656-9445

  

CRIST FUNDRAISING TOTALS $9.6 MILLION

~$1.92 Million in Hard Dollar Contributions this Quarter~

 

TALLAHASSEE -- Charlie Crist, Attorney General and candidate for Governor, today announced that total hard dollar and in-kind contributions to his gubernatorial campaign have totaled approximately $9.6 million as of the quarter ending March 31, 2006.

 

This announcement follows the release of a Mason-Dixon poll last week which showed Charlie Crist ahead of his Primary competitor by 16 percent (43% to 27%). With thirty percent of Florida's voters still undecided, this poll also reveals that his opponent needs four out of five of those undecided voters just to tie in the September Primary.

 

According to preliminary figures, the Charlie Crist for Governor Campaign received total contributions of approximately $2.3 million, of which $1.92 million were in the form of hard dollar contributions, during the most recent quarter of fundraising. That brings the total estimated campaign contributions to a record-breaking $9.6 million, with nearly $8.8 million in hard dollar contributions. At the end of this quarter, more than 21,000 contributions have been made to the Charlie Crist for Governor campaign.

 

"I am inspired by the support I am receiving from the people of Florida," said Crist. "I take their support seriously and I will work everyday to honor the trust and confidence they have placed in me."

 

Meredith O'Rourke-Cumber, Campaign Finance Director added, "We continue to be overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of Floridians who have spoken and made it clear that they want Charlie Crist to lead this state."

Final fundraising reports are due to the State Division of Elections by April 10.

For more information about the Charlie Crist for Governor Campaign, please visit http://www.charliecrist.com/

###

April 05, 2006

A pollster's perspective

* Note from Mr. C - This post was submitted as a comment today on the original PEER Review in relation to this August 2005 post. I thought it provided good detail about the makeup of a regular poll performed by GOP Communications that covers the race for governor, how the numbers are tallied, and what they represent in reality. It's insightful from a pollsters perspective and I decided to move it to the "front page" of PEER Review FL. Enjoy.

Also, with any luck, I plan to remove the comment registration requirements soon, but please don't let it discourage you from posting comments. My thanks to everyone who has submitted questions, comments and material over the past couple weeks.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our recent poll, which focuses solely on the Republican Gubernatorial Nomination Process, continues to show a solid lead for Attorney General Crist (48.1%) over CFO Gallagher (36.3%). This is the 5th such poll since July 2005, and the sampling every two months has shown a consistent increase in support for Crist. Gallagher’s support peaked in January at 39%. Generally, our poll corresponds with the recent results of the Mason-Dixon and Strategic Vision polls, but our poll leaves much less to chance in our opinion ~ sampling only “Extremely Likely” Republican voters who always vote. As a result, only 15.26% of the sampling in our poll have yet to decide between Crist and Gallagher.

Clearly, as our name implies, GOP Communications is a Republican-leaning organization. Our sister company is active in telecommunications, and we thus do have ready access to our own call center. We can generate such polling at limited cost to ourselves. And we do so “on our own dime” solely to assist the goal of placing the right Republican nominee in front of the General electorate.

We find the current polling to show a very significant trend in favor of Crist, placing him in a very favorable position as the Primary approaches. Crist leads by 11.86% with only 15.26% at stake. The real question then is “can Gallagher win-over more than 77% of those who have yet to decide among the two major Republican candidates?”

We actually find that prospect to be highly unlikely at this point without a meltdown on the part of Crist himself. So, why is this the case so soon? In our opinion, Crist has the advantage of running only against Gallagher. Gallagher though is actually running against Crist and himself simultaneously.

While Crist has played the slow and steady game of mounting and augmenting his own political clout slowly over time and just now running for Governor for the first time, Gallagher has opted to take on the Republican establishment many times before. Gallagher has run for Governor in three separate decades, even taking on Martinez in 1986 and Bush in 1994 – both the presumptive front-runners for the nomination. Gallagher, unlike Crist, has really not chosen to “wait his turn” so to speak and thus has his own political legacy as a candidate for Florida’s Chief Executive to contend with as well. From what we hear, many Republicans kind of resent him for it. And Gallagher has been asked the same series of questions generally during each of his campaign efforts for Governor. As such, Gallagher has to answer for more – especially in the eyes of die-hard Republican voters. And to some degree, Gallagher has to explain away more than Crist does.

Presuming that Crist intends to now run a steady and safe campaign, without a major misstep or meltdown, Gallagher is really going to have to decide whether he can pull off a political miracle of sorts by conquering 80% or more of those who have not already decided in the Republican contest. Or – would it be more prudent to “Divide & Conquer”? Should Gallagher opt to take on Senator Nelson instead? The choice is Gallagher’s alone to make as the qualifying deadlines for both races approach, but the smart money seems to now be on Crist in terms of the Governor’s race – with good reason.

Let it be said though that we are big fans of CFO Gallagher. We believe that he is an excellent public servant and that he might very well make an excellent Governor. But he might also make an excellent United States Senator, and we would rather see Republicans win both races.

Our biggest fear is a repeat - in reverse - of 1980. Dems Bill Gunter and Dick Stone were each stronger candidates than Paula Hawkins, but their bitter Democratic Primary left a bad taste in the mouths of Stone supporters. The result was an unexpected victory by the "fighting housewife from Maitland". Crist and Gallagher should pay close attention to history as September approaches. Both are stronger candidates than Davis, but both are also stronger candidates than Rep. Katherine Harris.

About our polling model: We have a computer model of the 2004 electorate in FL that created a pool of 46,990 Republican voters who always vote (each primary and general cycle). This overall pool was compared to 2000 census numbers and 2004 census estimates and broken down into county by county voting results in November 2004 to give us a core group of 1332 “Extremely Likely” Republican voters that is an exact computer model replica of those who voted statewide in 2004.

ABOUT OUR ACCURACY: Our Final 2004 Florida Poll Projection (10/25/04) was accurate to 0.35% for our Kerry/Edwards assessment and to 1.65% for our Bush/Cheney assessment. Each was well within our 2.85% margin of error. We are not aware of any final 2004 poll that was more accurate.

Starting in May, we may add in a "head-to-head" component between the Rep/Dem front-runners.

GOP Communications offers full-service consulting services in the areas of public relations/ affairs, media communications/campaigns, business and strategic development, crisis management/communications and marketing. We are not under contract to either political candidate running for Governor.

Steven Chase – Vice President, GOP Communications

March 23, 2006

Yes to Marriage, No to Redistricting

Today the Florida Supreme Court released a flurry of opinions including their decisions on two hotly debated constitutional amendments; the Marriage Amendment and the Redistricting Amendment. It may surprise readers to find out that Mr. G actually agrees with the Court’s decision on both of them.

Yes to Marriage

The Court’s opinion put to end a debate at Florida News between Mr. G and Mike and some of his readers. While they argued the term “protection” is “fraught with ambiguity” and the amendment violated the single subject rule, I explained that the amendment is clear to anyone with an 8th grade reading level. The Court agrees with yours truly. They even used one of my favorite judicial tools, the dictionary:

“the common definition of the term “protect” is “to maintain the status or integrity of.” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 938 (10th ed. 1998). This common definition, when read in context and conjunction with the rest of the language contained in the ballot title and summary accurately portrays the chief purpose of the amendment––preserving the current concept of marriage in Florida

as the legal union of one man and one woman. Based on the foregoing, we hold that the ballot summary and title in the instant proposal are not impermissibly misleading, nor are they ‘clearly and conclusively defective.’”

Beautiful. I love it when the Court uses common sense and restricts itself to simply applying the law that is before them. The Court earned back a bit of trust from Mr. G today.

So what does this mean? Well, you will remember that the amendment was about 150,000 signatures short at the February 1 deadline for the 2006 ballot. So we won’t be seeing the amendment in November. However, with the Supreme Court’s approval, I can practically guarantee that those signatures will be picked up in the next two years and we will see the measure on the ballot in 2008. At that election the 61% of Floridians who want a constitutional amendment protecting Marriage will be heard.

No to Redistricting

The Redistricting Amendment on the other hand, failed to make it over the single subject hurdle.

“Not only would the proposed amendment create a new redistricting commission, but it would also change the standards applicable to the districts that are created by the commission… A voter who advocates apportionment by a redistricting commission may not necessarily agree with the change in the standards for drawing the legislative and congressional districts. Conversely, a voter who approves the change in district standards may not want to change from the legislative apportionment process currently in place. Thus, a voter would be forced to vote in the “all or nothing” fashion that the single subject requirement safeguards against.” 

Well said. This was a distinction which, honestly, I had not yet considered, but in reading the Court’s explanation, I completely agree.

The Court also disagreed with Mike, finding a problem with the Amendment’s ballot summary due to the use of the terms “independent” and “non partisan” in describing the method of selecting the redistricting commission created by the amendment. As the Court astutely observes, of the fifteen commission members, twelve would be appointed by partisan members of the Florida legislature. Thus, the use of “independent” and “nonpartisan” to describe the appointment method is misleading.  The Amendment has been struck from the 2006 ballot.

Three Justices (Wells, Cantero, Bell), in a concurring opinion, also correctly added that an amendment combining Congressional and Legislative redistricting violates the single subject rule.

All in all, I found the opinions entertaining. All of our liberal friends, hoping so desperately that the single subject and ballot summary review by the Court would be used to prevent the Marriage Amendment from advancing watched today as those tools torched their Redistricting Amendment. Meanwhile, the Marriage Amendment sailed through unscathed.

Mr. G

March 16, 2006

Harris will stay in race for US Senate

I'm out of the office this morning, but as you suspect, have plenty to say on this subject. Good and bad.

come back after lunch.

I apologize for bad spelling/grammar. I'm in a bit of a hurry.

I am heartened to see her still willing to fight. I have long supported her and want her to win. I think she has made an outstanding Representative and will make a tremendous Senator. I am dissappointed in teh lack of support she has received from naitonal Republicans (including from the White House and from the NRSC) but que sera sera. Nothing you can do about that except drop $10 million of your own money to prove them wrong. Good luck Representative Harris. I support you.

First, here's the video of her announcement last night. Was it just me or did it seem as though she wanted to breakdown the whole time. She is really terrible on these shows and she should stop going on them. I think someone is telling her that the national shows create more exposure and more oportunity for fundraising. Normally, I would agree. But in this case, I think Harris would be better served if she would stay off the national shows, stick with Fl news outlets only, and let the rest of the nation use their imagination regarding her. Get her off national tv.

Second, I love that Harris is committing her full financial resources to this race. It is reminiscent of the entreprenurial spirit among business owners in this country. Risk everything, gain everything. I respect that she is not going to allow other people tell her how to liver her life or pursue her ambitions. Those days are behind her.

Third, she may not listen to GOP leadership, but she better start listening to campaign consultants. Get on the campaign trail, leave D.C. and don't come back except for the most important votes. If Sean Hannity wants to campaign for her, then fine, but no more appearances on the Hannity and Colmes show. Find your message (leadership, experience, conservative) and pump it. Label Nelson a liberal and spend at least half your money in direct mail, TV, and radio pushing that message.

Fourth, whoever told you you need 2.5 million a week for TV in Florida is trying to take all your money. What you need is targeting. Knowing who you are going to target with message, who you are going to target for votes, knowing how to, and where to, spend your money is just as important as having the money. Targeting will allow you to be effective, productive, efficient and results oriented with your fathers legacy. It doesn't sound or look like, to me, you have had any targeting. Email me. It's what I do.

After you target them, you need to blanket them with message. From this point forward you should be trying to contact every targeted voter once a week. That would be 30+ contacts per target. In order to do so your average per voter contact can only be around .50 cents. That will require a liberal mix of traditional, progressive and free communication efforts through various media outlets.

Fifth, come up with a good reason for the complete departure of staff from your campaign. I would suggest everybody you brought on for this race needs to go and everybody who helped you win your house seat, plus a few extra, should be brought in. Those people understand you, know how you work, understand your tendencies, and know how best to use them. That, BTW, is also a good reason for recent departures of everybody else.

Lastly, stop allowing the media to frame the issues and put you on the defensive all the time. Nelson hasn't spent a dime on you and he has been the beneficiary of all your negative media. You have to stop giving him a free lunch. The media isn't necessarily out to get you, but you aren't giving them anything else either.

And finally, you don't want this campaign to be about ethics. Make this campaign about your experience, leadership and credentials, and about Nelsons liberalism. Nothing more, nothing less.

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March 15, 2006

"Douple dipping" bill is double stupid

I like Senator Bill Posey. I've heard good things. He was voted Legislator of the Year by ALEC. He looks like a future Governor or Senator. But this has to be the dumbest idea ever. Who said this would be a good idea?

I get the general idea, stop paying the same people twice from the same source and stop paying the state, to lobby the state, to pay the state more. I have sympathy for it. I generally support the idea.

But how do you tell someone you can't participate in our system of government because of your job? They weren't here when some "genius" decided it would be best if the state paid their salary. Somebody wasn't thinking through the PR effect when this bill was proposed.

Luckily PEER Review is here to help.The solution - If you don't want educators to receive money from the state twice (as a teacher and as a legislator) then don't block their opportunity to public office, just stop paying for public education.

March 10, 2006

Jim Davis, the bottom 1%

It looks like the candidate who supports schools and teachers (I mean really, who doesn't?) has a bit of a truancy problem. SPT covers the Buzz on Davis missing an important vote, but his opposition is noting this is not unique, rather, it's normal.

"We should be concerned when somebody's politicking and campaigning
gets in the way of doing their job of governing - and it's certainly
not the first time it's happened with Jim Davis," said
[Rod Smith Communications Director David] Kochman, noting
that of 435 U.S. House members, Davis ranked fourth for missed votes in
2005.

Fourth out of 435. A full 99% of Representatives have a better attendance record than Davis. That's a lot of votes missed. I don't think the State of Florida can afford a Governor who ranks in the bottom 1%.

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Local Politics - Leon County Commission District 5

Bob Rackleff, incumbent Leon County Commissioner from District 5, has already started with the yard signs. This comment, titled Friends don't let friends, popped up in the Tallahassee Democrat yesterday.

Having to look at Bob Rackleff's signs for eight to nine months is too much. Having political signs in your yard for that long is trashy.

Bob Rackleff - trashy. Harsh words for a historically popular candidate for local office with more than six months until election day.

It seems terriibly early for a candidate with no history of fundraising problems and who has never received less than 60% of the vote in any election. Scientifically speaking, yard signs have a debatable effect (other than building the psyche of the candidate and supporters) on election results anyway, and distributing them this far in advance is not considered an effective use of funds on local races like county commission, especially for a candidate who should have nothing to worry about. To some it may look like he's getting a head start, to others, like myself, it looks like he's scared and spending money too early. From the commentary above I would suggest it's possible he may actually turn more people away the longer his signs are out.

Plus, rumors of discontent among other Leon County Commissioners and the general tiresome malaise Rackleff puts everyone in has people asking questions about his ability to retain this seat.

And for good reason too. His primary (meaning strongest, not only) opponent is Frank Mayernick, a young professional consultant and lobbyist from Tallahassee. Word on the street is he's a fantastic personality, a real stand up guy known for building bridges and finding consensus, and oh yeah, awash with campaign funds. He has raised more money than Rackleff, over $50,000 since filing, and has spent very little to date. To my knowledge (which is limited at this point) he hasn't stopped.

In this nonpartisan race you have to ask yourself, if you are the type of voter who says, "why don't those guys do something instead of putting it off, and debating, and talking all the time - why don't they stand up for people like me?," then I encourage you to contact, contribute, and volunteer time to the Mayernick Campaign. Tell them we sent you.

PEER Review will be keeping an eye on this local race.

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March 09, 2006

Associated Industries now blogging

Powerhouse lobbying organization Associated Industries is now blogging daily events from the state capitol. It appears to be updated on the following day from the events, but it also looks like some opinion and personal style will be included. Kenya Cory, AIF Chief Lobbyist and one-half of the longtime lobbying duo from Public Affairs Consultants, will be performing the blogging duties. Here's a snippet from March 8 -

Later today, the Senate Criminal Justice committee had a heavy agenda – too heavy according to the Chair, Senator Steve Wise. They considered legislation dealing with DUIs; Violent Video Games; Petition Process for Constitutional Amendments and Firearms in Motor Vehicles just to name a few. The two hours scheduled for the meeting was definitely not enough time for the meeting. Senator J.D. Alexander did not receive approval of his bill; SB 1244 which would change the way petitions can be collected to change Constitutional Amendments. Senator Wise voted against the bill so that he could move to reconsider and leave pending. It is a procedure used to keep the bill alive until the next meeting. But with Democrats and some Republicans voting against the bill, the proposed legislation still has a long way to go! That set the tone for another controversial bill.            

SB 206 by Senator Durell Peaden was known as the “Guns in the Workplace” bill. Knowing how controversial it was, he changes the bill to the “Individual Personal Private Property Protection Act.” Basically the proposed legislation is intended to codify the longstanding legislative policy of the state that citizens have a constitutional right to privacy and a constitutional right to possess and securely keep legal private property within their motor vehicles. In another word, if you are an employer and you did not want a person to have a gun in their locked vehicle, you could not do a thing about it. The bill would even prohibit you from firing a person for exercising his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms in their locked vehicle. There was less than 20 minutes for the committee to discuss the bill, ask questions, take testimony and then debate the bill. For an issue this complex and controversial you need more than 20 minutes!            

After a lot of political maneuvering including having the Senate Majority Leader come to the meeting to vote, a rare move usually used only to break a potential tie, a former Senate President made a motion which abruptly stopped the meeting and the bill was not considered. This was a move no one expected! The bill may appear next week on the committee’s agenda, but it is not guaranteed. Business owners need to stay tuned on the gun bill because it is far from over at this point.

Looks like I'll be stopping by on a daily basis. Welcome to the blog world AIF.

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The best education idea yet

Marco Rubio is already impressing me. Vouchers for everybody? If this is the type of policy initiatives he has in store - conservative, broad, sweeping - then I can't wait.

Too bad Tom Lee will never, never, let this happen... not on Jim King's watch.


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March 08, 2006

Katherine Harris to drop out of the race for Senate?

It would pain my heart, but it would not surprise me. News from Hotline that Harris maybe quitting.

So the question now is - Foley or Bush?

UPDATE: Maybe not. Statement from the Harris camp is apparently coming soon.

UPDATE: Sarasota Herald Tribune - 

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris said she doesn't plan to drop out of the Senate race, a statement she made as rumors swirled Wednesday that she would end the campaign because of ties to a company involved in bribery scandal.

"I am out there. We are running hard. We think we have great momentum," Harris said in a telephone interview.

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Light posting

Light posting will be the order of the day.

I'm organizing and learning how to use a new media tracking service I'm Beta testing. Hopefuly everything will work fine and I won't miss any news. It's all just rhetoric for now anyway.

I did find the feeler article on Mark Foley interesting. I expected it a couple months ago, but, who's to say what they were thinking. He has been good about keeping his name in the media without actually doing anything publically. Campaign prep 101. You can find it in chapter 3 of my book.

Plus, he's set himself a very high threshold for entering the race and a very low threshhold for outcome - a good combination for a first time statewide candidate.

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March 06, 2006

Adam Smith's plan for democrats

Sounds similar. Today in the St. Pete Times -

But if they had any sense, Florida Democrats would stop obsessing about the governor's mansion and start paying more attention to Florida's least understood office: chief financial officer. That's the Democrats' best shot for statewide victory at this point and the most realistic path to rebuilding their cash-strapped, influence-strapped and prominent-candidate-strapped party.

July 15, 2005 in PEER Review -

So, if you were a Democrat and you don't have any chance of victory in any major political race then you have to consider how to build your party back into relevancy. The answer is to attack the remaining cabinet positions: Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Attorney General (AG) and Commissioner of Agriculture.

I admit, I went to say Tom Lee was a lock. But, in my own defense, that was long before I, or anybody else, knew about Alex Sink (it wouldn't be until August 29 we would learn of Sink entering the race). That notwithstanding, I also said,

So, if the Dems want to wield any power, influence any policy, raise any money, or have any relevancy before 2010 (redistricting) then they have to target one, or both, of the statewide offices they could theoretically have a chance to win. But the first caveat is they have to agree to do this as a party. They have to sit down and say, "Let's be honest, we can't win this, or this or this, but we do have a shot at these races." That means they may have to forego the obligatory support for a candidate for Governor to focus on other races. And it also means sacrificing otherwise decent and respectable candidates (from the Democrat's perspective) for the greater good.

I then went on to theorize why Rod Smith would make a great AG candidate (and still would BTW) and why Bronson was vulnerable to attack from the left. Some leading democratic consultants agreed with me (and would later go on to represent Eric Copeland to challenge Bronson), and I suspect my theory got a few reads among GOP circles. I've read or heard it repeated back to me in recent months. Although the scene has changed slightly - Rod Smith is not likely to switch with McCollum in the race (the likely winner) and Bronson is in no fear of losing to his challenger - the theory still holds true.

Later I wrote on Dec 13, 2005,

Alex Sink has a real shot at the CFO position and it looks like Karen Thurman is the real deal at the FDP. In the AG Bill McCollum is a two time loser in GOP primaries, which may actually make him a stronger General candidate, and I think his name ID is too much to overcome in either the Primary or the General Election. There is no chance Eric Copeland wins Ag. Commissioner.

If Democrats are serious about trying to rebuild then they must sacrifice support for some candidates in favor of those that can actually win. At this point, Smith is right, Alex Sink is their best, and likely only, shot.

Two caveats - One, I still believe if Rod Smith switched to the AG race it would disrupt everything. Jim Davis would be left alone to focus on fundraising and one single candidate (Crist) in the General. Smith would put a serious challenge to McCollum, Sink could upset Lee in the CFO race, and Bronson would instantly become the only safe Republican. With Nelson a strong incumbent for US Senate, the impact on the total democratic ticket, statewide organization, and fundraising capabilities would be ginourmous. It is still unlikely anyone could defeat Crist, but it would be a tremendous tectonic shift in FL politics if dems had the courage to consult a candidate for governor to step aside and possibly win two of four cabinet seats as a result.

Second, if Bush announces for US Senate and Harris steps aside it is unlikely any democrat wins regardless of the scenario and the dems best shot would still be Alex Sink.

That being said, why don't FL dems throw all their weight behind her?

UPDATE: I just noticed this piece, Run Jeb, Run!, from the weekend over at SPT. I have to start wondering how much they are using PEER Review for story prep? I mean, besides me, who has been talking about Jeb as a Senate candidate?

Feb 22, 2006 - Of course, if he submits his name for consideration to the US Senate and Katherine Harris steps aside, then the election is over for every statewide democrat on the ticket in November.

Jan 5, 2006 - If Jeb Bush does get into the Senate race, and many suspect he is planning a run for something, then every republican down the ticket wins in November.

Dec 13, 2005 - If Jeb Bush gets in the race then it’s over the day he announces. After repeated denials of any interest for post Governor positions, he is still leading Nelson by double digits in hypothetical polls. Hands down, Jeb Bush is the most popular and strongest GOP candidate in the state. If he jumped into the Senate race he would win, and he would practically guarantee victories for every GOP candidate down the ticket. The base would rally, the state would support him and everybody benefits (except dems). Jeb would continue to be the most powerful elected official in FL and continue to direct money to whomever he wishes … and FL dems would continue to be flecked and unimportant in state politics.

Nationally, Bush would have an opportunity with a 6 year Senate term to build alliances around the country and inside the beltway. (I personally think he would be much better at this than George, and he wouldn't lose the support of George's base.) He could increase the GOP margin in the Senate, and lead the support for Bush agenda’s in his final two years, historically the most ineffective.

If Jeb does have his eye on the White House this is perfect. His record as Governor of FL would protect him from the Senate Curse in a later run. If Hillary is the nominee he can watch how the electorate (GOP and dem) react to her, react to the vitriol that will surely follow, and react to the first serious female candidate. If she loses, so what? But if she wins, then it gets interesting.

He gets the benefit of learning from whoever loses to her - the mistakes and the successes. It won't take long for Americans to figure out they made a mistake by putting Hillary in the White House and the GOP will be practically begging him to run in 2012, when his Senate term will end. He would surely be the first candidate to raise half a billion dollars to run for President, and he could return the GOP to the economic policies of spending cuts, reducing the size of government and reducing taxes. He is the only possible candidate who has walked the walk when it comes to cutting spending and reducing the size of government.

The bottom line is nobody really knows if Hillary can win. Most don't think she can. Most don't even want to think about what would happen if she did. But Jeb Bush doesn't want to test the theory by being at the other end of the stick that beats the horse. It would be better to watch, from the inside, and learn. If he runs in 2008 and loses to her because of something other than her candidacy (e.g. Bush fatigue) then he's finished. If she wins then the Bush's can wipe the Clinton stain from American politics forever in 2012.

Seriously, somebody needs to put me on the payroll so I will quit writing this stuff in the public domain.

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March 03, 2006

More bad news for Tom Gallagher

The Gallagher campaign has got to do something about this right now or it will be over before it gets started. You can't be behind in the polls, fundraising and rumor circuit.

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Jeb Bush - He has no equal

In a state like Florida you need to seize the opportunity and deal with the problems and move on. This is not a static place. This is not a place for stasis thinking. This is a place for dynamic action.

Sieze it he did. Trendsetter. Policy wiz. Leader. Cost cutter. Most Floridians will not truly acknowledge or recognize the tremendous good Jeb Bush has brought to this state until he has been out of office for a couple years. Although, some may already be looking forward.

None of Bush’s likely successors at this point appears to have either the understanding of policy or the passion Bush marshaled to keep the educational boulder moving. And move it he did. While some continued to criticize the FCAT, Bush’s policies — grading schools, holding systems accountable — forced communities back into schools, narrowed achievement gaps between whites and minority groups, and stimulated significant achievement gains overall.

There's tons to read. If you admire what he has accomplished I recommend reading,not just because of the successes, but the failures and honest mistakes he accepts as the leader of this state. All in all, he was the first Governor to reverse the overall trend of growing government to solve our problems. It didn't always work, but overall, the state of Florida couldn't be in better shape and it's still moving foward.

What happens after Bush leaves will determine Florida politics for decades to come. A GOP candidate could solidify Florida as a conservative state, dedicated to accountability and prudent spending. A democrat could reverse nearly every policy initiative Bush fought for in a few short years. If you enjoy your job, the prosperity of this state, the rising standards in education and increased business opportunities Florida has to offer, then you should hope for the former. If you think Florida should be doing more to provide aid, comfort, assistance and public resources to failing schools, businesses, criminals, and illegal aliens then you should hope for the latter - and expect more of the like to join us.

However, future Governors, no matter which party they belong to, are almost certain to raise taxes. It's inevitable. Building favor in the halls of the capitol mean distributions, cash, and jobs. Some agencies reverse the decline in positions seen during the Bush tenure, some will grow again after many years of stagnation, some will receive the funding long denied by Bush (and for good reason), some privatization efforts will be returned to state oversight and some jobs left unfilled will be filled by supporters of the new administration.  Favors long ago promised to legislators for future support will be backed up. Funding for local districts and "turkeys" often vetoed will be approved. Kickbacks mean money. Higher taxes.

Let's hope nobody gets carried away.

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March 01, 2006

Iraqi Civil War?

What good is organization without candid communication and effective strategy? Gallagher is not doing the right thing, right now, and I hate to criticize GOP candidates... so I will talk about something else.

Iraqi Civil War?

You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give 'em the Bronx cheer.
That's the assesment of MSM coverage by reporter Ralph Peters of the New York Post. I agree.


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February 27, 2006

Charlie Justice policy wonk hype just that

The man known for policy and not entertainment flipped this weekend trying to impress the biggest crowd he'll ever see. Over at the Buzz blog they reprint quotes from State Rep. Charlie Justice from this weekend's Hillary visit. His speech writer shows good rhetoric but misunderstood policy -

My friends, isn’t it time we stopped talking about RIGHT and LEFT but simply talked about right and wrong?

I smell a campaign catchphrase.

You tell me: Is it right, left or just flat out wrong to campaign on education and chiden and give our children a one size fits none scheme with tests and a series of voucher programs?

Funny thing about vouchers, they do just the opposite by providing parents with more, not less, options and almost limitless opportunity - especially in an area as large and diverse as Tampa Bay.

Or how about an answer to health care that kicks children off insurance policies?

This is just flat out rhetoric. No child today is denied necessary medical or emergency care. Abortion on demand without parental notification is neither.

Is it right, left or just flat out wrong to campaign as a friend of the working man and consumers yet vote repeatedly to raise your phone rates and increase your property taxes by a quarter of billion dollars, just here in Tampa Bay?

I wish I made enough money to be paying a QUARTER OF A BILLION DOLLARS in taxes. Just like statistics, aggregates can be interpreted however you wish. Regarding phone rates, any service that is held artificially low to provide political cover will create political problems when adjusted. Rates should never have been capped in the first place and rate setting should not be under the purview of the state government. Let the companies decide how much they need to operate with a profit and let the consumer decide which company is the best deal for them.

Is it right, left or just flat out wrong to campaign on less government and more freedom and yet repeatedly vote to have big government intervene in our most personal, painful and private medical decisions?

Freedom from government regulation and protection from abusive spouses are two completely different things. Spousal abuse is illegal - even when one spouse is in a coma - and the Florida justice system protects and prosecutes for it everyday. It was the right thing to do and most people feel a similar gut reaction.

You tell me, is it right, left or just flat out wrong that Rep. Justice covers up his liberal agenda with populist rhetoric that distorts the truth and frames issues in fatalist ways. Where's the positive candidate? Where's the positive policy positions? Ever wonder why voters continue to vote GOP? Then listen to this guy for an afternoon. Scary.

It's amazing how easy it is to pick this guy apart from one little blog reference.

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Political donors hedge bets by splitting cash

In today's Orlando Sentinel story on political donations (the MSM just can't get over all the money going to GOP candidates) I love this quote from Flo-Sun's Florida Crystals lobbyist Gaston Cantens,

...the double donations simply show that the company likes the candidates.

"You've got candidates that have in the past been certainly supportive of some of the issues that the business community cares about,"...

We simply like them both. When compared to Davis or Smith, so does PEER Review FL.

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February 25, 2006

Nelson with a 22 point lead over Harris in recent Q poll?

This is not likely. I suspect something is wrong over at the the Q joint.

Notice the poll took five days? That's highly suspect. And since they started on this poll back in August of 2005  the differrence has been in the 20's and his is starting to look a little suspicious. I think this is also the only poll that Nelson has ever polled over 45% on.

I'll be the first to admit that many, many people loathe Harris. She has an uphill battle to win the US Senate race. And even if she was down more than 20 points initially, her support among Republicans has nearly doubled in recent months. This Q poll does not reflect that.

A candidate of her stature and name ID (and built in GOP support structure) regardless of what dem's think of her would never be down by 22-25 points. It's not possible.

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February 24, 2006

Tax day

I saw the story on Gallagher, and I'm interested. I saw the story on dems fundraising problems and I think it goes to my point made in these comments. And I particularly find the poll results of this Q poll to be interesting.

But, I have been working on taxes and I plan to finish it up today, so, no posting from me. You could always leave a comment with requests.

Mr. C

February 23, 2006

Harris Finance Director leaves

I won't pretend to know what's going on here but it's either one of two things -

1) Mike Miller is jumping ship.
2) Mike Miller wasn't getting the job done.

Well, you don't sign on to a campaign like Katherine Harris if you don't believe in what you are doing, believe in your candidate, and believe you can win. Especially this candidate, this year.

I don't want to say anything negative here, so, I have my doubts about the first option and I never understood why Harris wasn't raising more money. It never made sense to me.

Considering Mike's stellar past performance it could be a simple difference of opinion. In any event, this change must, must, bring about a large and positive change in fundraising efforts. We'll just have to wait and see.

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February 22, 2006

Strategic Vision poll

I bet you're waiting for my analysis of the SV poll released today. I still have questions about this regular poll (like why do they keep including Tony Jennings and what's with the polling on Condi Rice?) but all that aside, there is really nothing new; Harris is still behind, Crist is still ahead, and half of all democrats wish someone else was representing them in the governors race. So, this is the only question that matters -

42. If the election were held today for United States Senate, whom would you support, Bill Nelson, the Democrat or Jeb Bush, the Republican?
                Jeb Bush 52%
                Bill Nelson 38%
                Undecided 10%

If you are running against Jeb and his policies (a la Davis and Smith) then you're a loser. Considering the history this guy has and the extraordinary amount of political warfare that has taken place in Florida over the past 8 years it is astounding how high Jeb polls on a regular basis. The majority of people, and more importantly voters, of this state love Jeb Bush. If you think otherwise you are fooling yourself. Anybody who wants to to win office this year needs to do everything they can to be like Jeb.

Of course, if he submits his name for consideration to the US Senate and Katherine Harris steps aside, then the election is over for every statewide democrat on the ticket in November.

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Jim Davis, say your sorry

"I had a state worker put his arm around my shoulder, he looked around the room to make sure nobody was looking at him, and said 'Jim, I'm for you.' What kind of country is that? I've had the same conversations with other people - in Havana,"
Jim, Jim, Jim... You made a mistake buddy. Comparing state government, and Jeb, to the Castro regime was not smart. This sort of commentary is going to be great on a TV commercial in late October on all the South Florida stations. And anyway, it is better suited for blogs. In fact, is this what we can expect when you do finally post on your blog? If so I will be eagerly anticipating your first post.

To have any chance at all to win a General Election in Florida you will need a Cuban-American crossover vote. Very important in Florida. You know this. Your staff knows this. Why would you say something so stupid? Now, quit trying to say what you really said, or meant, and say your sorry.

Besides, it's not a secret that state workers dislilke Jeb's policies. It's not a secret that Leon county is Democrat. So who are you trying to kid? Now that I think about it, was their actually someone who said that to you? Or, did you make it up so you could compare Jeb to Castro? That is an interesting question. Maybe you can have Matt respond on your blog.
"There are people I run into every time I'm here (in Tallahassee) who are afraid to express criticism of their own government and to have their voice heard."
Yeah, they're called Republicans. In my experience in Tallahassee it's actualy the other way around when it comes to keeping quiet. If you support Jeb, you better keep your mouth shut or they don't invite you to office parties.

I always had a probelm with that...


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February 21, 2006

Mike, democrats and the Ideological Void

Mr. C and I have have had a recent focus on the ideological void represented by the democrat party.  No real platforms, only complaints.  Today I discovered yet another example from my misguided friend Mike at Florida News.

In Mike's "Vision for Florida Democrats" he makes the following statement:

"Forget ideology. Embrace partisanship. Yes, I said it. Voting for me is simple. I simply look for the D's and vote accordingly..."

"I want a Democratic majority. Period. We get a Democratic majority and we get to set the agenda. We get to control the committees. That's power, and it's power in the hands of a party that I believe will do what's best for this state and this country..."


The concept boils down to this: democrats, don't think, don't question, just vote democrat.  We'll do the thinking for you later.

Now, I like Mike.  I like Mike because he is one of the few democrats I know that are willing to just come out and say that he is more concerned with having officials with a D next to their name in office than actually working for a platform he actually agrees with. 

I also like Mike because it is really easy to make him mad, which is always entertaining, but I digress.

With this strategy democrats will continue lose.  As 2004 demonstrated, values affect voting.  So while democrats continue to run from taking a stand on the issues, Republicans continue to demonstrate that our party is relevant to the causes of the individual, the family, and the community.

Mr. G

Burt Saunders to run for FL Attorney General

Why?

Gallagher should start thinking about what to do next, not what went wrong

If Gallagher and/or his team wants to make the Broward endorsement an issue, then they can't (or don't want to) talk about why Gallagher should be Governor. It's that simple.

Complain about process, or build a strategy around current conditions and defy expectations. I suggest they start working on the latter.


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February 20, 2006

Ron Klein take note, Katherine Harris sets the example

When you promise to give away tainted money to charity, this is how you do it. Actually give the money to somebody and tell the press who. Are you paying attention Ron Klein?

You say you donated the tainted Ambramhoff Sun Cruz gambling money to disaster relief organizations, but who? How much? When? All valid questions somebody should be asking.


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February 16, 2006

Everybody but Jim Davis Blog

After two months and approximately 40 updates the Jim Davis for Governor Blog has heard from an intern, a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transexual Outreach Director from the young democrats, Reggie the luggage guy (twice), pirate impersonator Dan Kelly, and of course online operations director Matt Thornton.

(Matt, by the way, has been getting sassy recently using language like asinine to describe a tax holiday. Was that approved by communications? Asinine? Really? Asinine to give people their money back? That's a policy discussion for another post. I digress.)

Are we ever going to hear from Jim Davis himself? It is his blog after all. Will there ever be any policy debate or just asinine labeling?

Jim Davis, speak to the people and give a shout out! Holla back.

Mr. C

P.S.
If I could make a request, I would love to read Jim live blogging a babysitting gig so one of his biggest supporters can get a date night out at the local nudist restaurant. What will it take to make that happen?

UPDATE: Matt, this doesn't count.

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Senator Harris?

You know I am a huge fan of Katherine Harris, but let me say I am shocked Mark Foley didn't get into the race. After Harris' pawltry fundraising last quarter I expected some fireworks in this race. And today, I see her campaign has finally decided to start campaigning. What's the strategy? Paint Nelson as the liberal he is, tout your own strong voting record and leadership, and show strong support for the military and the environment. If she keeps this up (coupled with strong voter targeting, GOTV and efficient use of funds) she may just pull it out.

"You can't be to the left of Charles Schumer and say you're a moderate," Harris says. "That's disingenuous."

GOP political activists have picked up the Clinton-Schumer refrain across the Panhandle.

"He (Nelson) tries to sell himself as a conservative, but he is more liberal than Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer," said Steve Czonstka, Republican state committeeman for Okaloosa County. "It takes more than defense posturing to win votes here. We're conservative here."

Harris points to Nelson's vote against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito as the most recent and glaring example of his liberal bent.

and,

Harris argues that she has been an effective member of Congress and points to the passage of her American Dream Down Payment Act to help low-income people buy their first home.

and,

On the drilling issue, Harris says she was instrumental in working out a deal that would have protected Florida's Gulf shores in some places out to 234 miles from the coast. It also would have given the last word on whether to allow drilling to the Florida Legislature.

The deal, though, was never voted on by a House committee or on the House floor, which Harris says was Nelson's fault because he refused to accept it as part of the Senate's budget reconciliation deal.

Instead, Nelson has "come up with a worse solution that keeps Congress in charge," she says.

Harris is on the right path now.

"We're confident that when folks across Florida know my background and what I've accomplished, and Bill Nelson's background and what he hasn't accomplished, we will prevail," she said, adding "we're always the underdog."

She's right. But she still needs money.

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February 14, 2006

Teachers want higher salary but oppose performance based increases

So, you want higher pay? We want higher scores.

We want kids who can read, write, add, subtract, multiply and divide. It's that simple. We've been saying it for years. It's why private schools, charter schools, home schools, vouchers and opportunity scholarships have been growing in popularity over the past ten years. We are tired of sending our kids to public schools to learn more about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll (or hip hop) instead of reading, writing and math.

In recent years the state and federal governments have passed legislation requiring testing and accountability standards. The Governor has promised money for results. This year the Florida Department of Education has issued a new ruling earmarking money (the governor provided $53 million in his budget) for bonuses up to 5% of salary for teachers who show gains in the top 10% on the FCAT. The state average pay is $41,578 so the average bonus would be $2,078. Teachers earning more would naturally have a bigger bonus, teachers earning less would have a smaller bonus.

At this time the bonus is only earmarked for teachers of FCAT subjects, which are presumably in FCAT testing grades. The ruling directs local school districts to decide how to measure and reward teachers making gains in non-FCAT courses (think PE, history, art). It's officially called the "E-Comp" plan but I call it the "No Teacher Left Behind" plan. Not everybody deserves bonuses or pay increases.

Naturally, the Florida Education Association (FEA) and the Teachers Association of Lee County filed a formal challenge to the plan seeking to invalidate the rule change. Tell me again who's fighting against teacher pay increases?

The FEA and other interested individuals (who by the way doesn't see any benefit to union membership and is not a union member herself) argue the same tired argument that the FCAT is too subjective and only measures what the student knows at that time on that day placing way too much pressure on teachers, administrators and schools - but won't offer an alternative - and to which I answer, that is our goal. If your biggest complaint is our policies are placing too much pressure on teachers and schools to show performance gains every year, then I say we must be doing something right.

If the FEA, NEA, and school districts would do what parents, legislators, colleges and, most importantly, employers wanted them to do then we wouldn't need to pressure them by taking our kids out of their schools, grading them on a A-F scale, tying money to students and offering bonuses to teachers who show the most improvement. (In all honesty my preference would be to double the bonuses for teachers with the highest gains and increase their class size and pay by 10-20 percent every year they show gains.)

Good leaders always strive to improve. The teachers unions only seek to retard improvement and incentives for gains because it segregates good teachers from bad teachers. It validates how competition works and how touchy-feely-goody-goody teaching methods have been corrupting our children and leaving our workforce ill equipped to compete in a global marketplace. It's also likely to show teachers with the least amount of "education" will show the most gains and only further disprove another tired maxim that better educated teachers make better educators themselves. To quote my liberal friend,

This is just another joke to distract from real ways to benefit educators.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. They just don't get it. We aren't trying to benefit educators - we are trying to benefit the children, tomorrow's workers and tomorrow's college students. Teachers and educators who do that will be amply rewarded.

But, teachers unions and those who support them are not in this fight to produce smarter, more intelligent children better prepared to enter a highly competitive workforce and global marketplace. They are in it for themselves.

It's no wonder the liberals fight so hard to raise the minimum wage, their education unions are fighting hard to mass produce minimum wage earners.

The No Teacher Left Behind plan (E-comp) is a good first step anad should be implemented regardless of what crazy scheme local districts come up with to provided bonuses for drama and shop. Bring on bonuses for gains but rememebr it's not the total answer. There's still more to do.

February 13, 2006

All he needs now is a crack pipe

Bill Proctor, Leon County Commissioner, is in trouble again for not filing the proper paperwork with the Florida Commission on Ethics.


Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor is facing two fines
totalling $3,000 for failing to file income disclosure statements two
years in a row.
But that's not all...


Proctor earns more than $68,000 a year as county commissioner, but his
pay is being garnisheed by the IRS and the U.S. Department of
Education, which is seeking payment for outstanding student loans.


His latest filing states that he earned $58,100 at his second job,
teaching at Florida A&M University. His liabilities include
$124,000 owed to the IRS; $71,000 owed to Florida; $28,000 owed in
student loans and $88,000 in car loans. His net worth was listed at
$317,475. Proctor also owes the Florida Elections Commission more than
$82,000 in fines for more than 200 campaign violations from his 1998
campaign.

Somebody needs to hire this guy a secretary and an accountant. The guy owes more than $300,000 and has an additional $82,000 outstanding from more than 200 campaign violations in 1998. How was this guy re-elected in 2002? How was this guy selected to lead the couty commission this year?

Democrats will elect anybody, but the County Commission should be ashamed of themselves for placing him at the helm.

Give the man a crack pipe and you could call him Marion, it's truly unbelievable.

February 09, 2006

Wow! A GOP coup. All I can say is, Wow.

That's what I was thinking when I read these two headlines over at Sayfie Review this morning -
Post:  Florida GOP senators change minds on '08 senate president
Herald:  Attempts to oust Villalobos as president of senate fails

Go read them and sit in shock for about 2 minutes.

Then remember, the next time you hear from FL legislators about how 8 years isn't enough and it forces freshman legislators to run for leadership posts in their first year, tell them, "so what." If they choose wrongly they are not afraid to fix it. That's how this system works. If you produce results, you lead. If your leadership fails, you get voted out regardless of committments made to you or of the time you have left to serve.

If you think the party is completely unified and Crist can win the Governors race in a cakewalk, think again. Crist may eventually win because of tremendous money advantages, but will he be able to govern with the authority that Jeb has these past 7 years? Imagine if Gallagher comes from behind to pull it out, how can he govern effectively a party that is willing to challenge itself? Can one of these two step up?

If not, then which organization will step in? AIF is over and to my knowledge is not taking steps to rebuild it's power in Florida. Is the Retail Federation up to it? I think we saw the Chamber willing to flex it's muscle this week, but are they strong enough? Are historically smaller organizations like League of Cities or Association of Counties going to be able to grow into a more effective role. Is that what they do? Meanwhile, the trial lawyers are quietly watching everything unfold. Don't think they don't have a plan... maybe they are even playing a hand in all of this now.

We are in the ebb of the tidal cycle of political power in Florida and everybody is trying to jump out in front. Nobody, as of yet, has the political will, muscle or organization to build the next consensus leadership organization that is willing to pull the reins and threaten the whip.

And also remember, this sort of thing didn't happen during the Bush years. Now that those days are over you can expect more of this sort of "shake things up" behaviors... I have said as much in past posts.

Look at recent events across the state: Rep. Arza suggest getting rid of 3 FL Supreme Court Justices. Broward county throws an endorsement in the Governors race before the primary. Senators attempt a coup of a predetermined Senate President. The NRA takes on the Chamber of Commerce (or vice versa).

Folks, I can't underscore how this just doesn't happen that often when you have strong leadership. The next two years are going to be rocky.

Leave a comment. I've got to take my child to school. He missed the bus. I'll be back later.

February 08, 2006

FL Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Marriage Amendment

This may come as a surprise to those who thought the marriage amendment was dead after it failed to pick up the required 611,000 certified signatures by the February 1st deadline in order to be placed on the 2006 ballot. Instead, the movement has simply set its sights on 2008.

There are several steps required to place a citizen initiative on the ballot, the big two are certification by the Secretary of State of 611,000 signatures and approval by the FL Supreme Court that the amendment satisfies some specific criterion. On this amendment the big question has been the single-subject rule (a citizen initiative amendment can only encompass one issue). These two steps are independent from each other. In order to qualify for review by the Court, only 10% of the total number of certified signatures required by the Secretary of State is needed. Since 61,000 signatures have been certified, the Court was still able to consider the matter. If given favorable review, the amendment will be placed on the ballot in 2008 if the missing signatures are gained by February 1, 2008.

Arguing on behalf of the Marriage Amendment this morning was Mat Staver, Founder and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel. On the other side was Leslie Cooper from the ACLU. Transcripts and video of the arguments can be viewed here.

The Court, during arguments, acknowledged the limited scope of review it has in this case. With that said, it is going to take some semantics games for them to find reason to strike the amendment down. Sadly, I wouldn’t put it past this Court to do so. This one could be anyone’s game. To those of us with at least and 8th grade reading level, the issue is clear and the Amendment should pass this level of review. But we will have to wait 2 months to find out. 

On a related note, even though the petition didn’t receive the number of votes required to make the ballot this next election, supporters should be encouraged by the numbers so far. At this point about $200,000 has been spent on gathering signatures for the amendment. Compare that to the +$2 million spent on the Apportion Districts, Redistricting, and Tobacco Education amendments. With about 10% of the funding the Marriage Amendment has gained more signatures than the Redistricting Amendment and about 70% of the number of signatures for the Apportion Districts and Tobacco Education Amendments. With this type of support, two years will certainly be enough time to get another 150,000 signatures.

For more information on the Marriage Amendment or to sign the petition visit Florida4Marriage.org

- Mr. G

February 01, 2006

Superbowls are won with defense

But governor's races are lost by them. Defense. Defense. Defense. Defense.
When do we get to run slick commercials?

January 31, 2006

What he said

I agree completely... except, it aint over until election day. Anybody who has been reading my posts over the past 6 months knows I will criticize and support both candidates. Even today I came to a similar conclusion that this race could be over sooner than we think. But, the biggest problem here, and Stipanovich knows this, is GOP politics is more of a hierarchy then a coalition of like minded individuals.

GOP rank and file are more likely to vote with their leadership than any democratic organization or group. Where dem's pride themselves on individuality we like conformity. Promises made will be promises kept and I suspect many local leaders made commitments to the Gallagher campaign long before they realized how much money Crist could raise... or because of it.

I personally think the possibility exists for Crist to have every advantage in this race, which he clearly does, and still lose because of great  organization over at the Gallagher camp all the way down to the local level. Going in to this race everybody thought Gallagher would wipe the floor in fundraising and campaign manager Brett Doster was probably brought on board to out organize and thus take away Crist's only recourse in the event he was out fundraised. That scenario has clearly flipped, and the Gallagher campaign is now in a position to use it's organization to thwart seemingly insurmountable odds. They have to.

The only strategy that beats money is organization. Doster is a master at it, especially among the rank and file. Don't coun't them out. Yet.

Crist polling near 50% among GOP

I haven't seen anybody with this yet, and I didn't see it on Sayfie so I guess it's not news, but since I'm not the only person who receives emails from the Crist campaign - St. Pete Times The Buzz I'm talking to you - I suspect there is a reason they decided not to go with it. Maybe it's the failure of Gallagher to disclose his conflict of interests problems with his current position as CFO.

This was in my email inbox from the Crist Campaign yesterday,

Today, an independent poll of “1,332 extremely likely” Republican registered
voters revealed that 46.7 percent supported our campaign to become Florida's next Governor, compared to 39 percent for our closest Republican competitor. GOP Communications’ Florida conducted the poll from January 24-28, 2006 and it has a +/-2.85 margin of error.

This most recent poll reveals a widening gap between our campaign for governor and that of my opponent.  Dick Dawson of GOP Communications’ added, “We find the current polling to show a very significant trend in favor of Crist.”

While this is encouraging, there will be many polls between now and Election Day and it is important to remember that the only poll that really counts is the one taken at the ballot box on September 5th.

Citizens across the state believe in our record of consistent conservatism and this most recent poll shows that our record of fighting for the people and our message of hope, safety and opportunity is resonating with Republican primary voters.

A couple of things - First, I don't need a professional pollster to tell me this was an inside job, but I would think at least one news agency would be seeking some sort of confirmation on the numbers, questions, or sample data. Since I'm not trying to be a journalist here, I will tell you what I think of the numbers as provided.

I hate polls of registered voters. No matter how "extremely likely" they are to vote, the only way to know for sure is to poll actual voters. So why, if you are going to go through the motions of polling 1,332 respondents, would you possibly poll voters who may not vote? Because this poll was more likely a benchmark poll testing positions and messages, not support at the ballot box. Crist is probably about to start dumping some media cash and they want to know which message to push. It's that simple.

Secondly, this is a large gap with a small margin of error. Registered voters. Actual voters. Whatever. The entire sample  is GOP and this gap is significant because the thinking among many insiders is Crist is winning name ID among all people (good for the General Election), but among rank and file GOP Gallagher has the organization and the support (good for the Primary Election). If these numbers are accurate and Crist is about to start spending money, then the race is practically over.

If they were done raising money this is probably what would happen -
Gallagher can't spend as much, for as long, or spread the money as wide as Crist can. I expect the Gallagher campaign will start choosing some high value targets (Miami Dade, Broward, Palm Beach) where he can spend his money most efficiently, and a few medium value targets (Jacksonville and outlying counties, Space Coast) where he can use his organization. If Crist wins Tampa and Gallagher wins Orlando, then Gallagher will try to go even on the vote in the high value areas and win the medium value areas outright. He will rely on the religious conservativism of GOP in small counties to help him win, but I suspect the moderate GOP in the panhandle will put Crist over the top in the primary.

Of course, they aren't done raising money. If Crist continues at the same pace he will out-raise Gallagher by as much as 4 or 5 million. Crist can afford to out-spend Gallagher in areas that Gallagher is organized. Money is hard to beat.

Davis and Smith better hope Crist spends it all on the Primary, because he only needs about a million to finish either of them off. Maybe not that much.

January 29, 2006

Is Gallagher suggesting a tax increase?

I don't know, but this quote from a recent visit to the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is not very subtle,

Collect sales taxes on out-of-state Internet purchases to help
"sticks and mortar" businesses in Florida, which are potentially losing
billions of dollars in sales.

Gallagher pointed out that laws taxing mail-order purchases already
are on the books, but they are almost universally ignored. "I'm not
adding a tax," Gallagher said. "It's just a fairness factor."

Sounds like a tax increase to me. Feels like a tax increase. Looks like a tax increase.

I can't believe his campaign let Gallagher anywhere near a public speaking opportunity with those words planned. Either the campaign messed up, or Gallagher was speaking off the cuff and this is a window into his private, personal opinions.

Either way, not good.

January 27, 2006

When your education policy comes from Out in Left Field

I estimate there are basically two problems with education, at all levels, and the current political climate including the basic guiding proclivities of each side are blocking real reform, real progress.

  1. Lack of rigorous academic subject expectations and, most importantly, enforcement.
  2. Lack of support for the process of "educating" children, as opposed to support for educators.

We can all agree education policy, and the resulting practice of educating children, needs reform. The problem is nobody seems to agree on how that reform should come. But when your education policy and reform ideas come from Out in Left Field, then nobody is being serious about educating children.

The bottom line - in the current politically charged climate where the left attacks and denigrates every reform effort, and the right refuses to support the people (teachers) they need to support for change, then nothing is going to get done.

Take this classic statement from those on the left, 

Smaller classroom sizes, especially in elementary schools, are essential to a good education for all our kids, especially students who struggle. Talk to some teachers - there is universal agreement on this issue! They know a thing or two about how to help our kids and were able to convey that when voters approved the law. Now reallocate some funds and get it accomplished. Enough excuses.

Of course teachers want smaller class sizes. I wish I could get paid to do less. It makes their job much easier to cope with, but class size supposedly having an effect on educating the vast majority of children is a complete myth. It has only been shown to help some minorities, namely the seriously underprivileged and those students seriously behind in their studies. It has zero effect on the vast majority of students either short term or long term. This is a talking point propagated by the teachers and teachers unions with scant, if any, supporting data. Targeted class size reduction can, and should be, an option. But this current idea of mandating class reduction statewide is complete lunacy and irresponsibility.

Secondly, take a look at some "failing" schools. Are they overcrowded? Especially, are they overcrowded with underprivileged (economically and intellectually) students? If so, then the solution isn't to pull some kids out at taxpayer expense and to hell with the rest. There are few students with parents who can place them in private schools - with or without taxpayers' help.

If a school is overcrowded and overcrowding leads to failure, then how can any solution to reduce the number of students be discounted or discarded? Why are vouchers, charter schools, home schooling or private education options not viable alternatives to building more public schools? According to this argument the problem isn't with the educational process or the abilities of educators, the problem lies solely with the number of children per district, school or class. Vouchers, charter schools, home schooling and private education provide four solutions to the "number" problem but they are not acceptable. Why?

They aren't being serious about reform. The only possible answer is because the debate on the left is not about providing education - of which all these alternatives provide - but about providing the education that produces the most jobs and funding for the educational establishment. This, not coincidently, is the responsibility of a union.

So, I suspect most people are genuinely concerned about educating children and most teachers have the best intentions. They are given their talking points and they believe in the people who fight for them everyday. Sadly they are just plain wrong most of the time. But does that mean those on the political right have all the answers? Will vouchers, charter schools, home schooling and private education solve our problems? I say no. Not for everybody. We need something different.

-

Everybody has a story when they were young about getting disciplined at school, only to go home and get beat by mom... and then dad. It wasn't the beatings that kept us in line, it was the knowledge that we were being beat every step of the way. It was the knowledge that teachers, principals, parents and communities were working together as agents, watching us, expecting of us, and enforcing upon us the rigid codes of behavior we needed to conform to.

When I long for days past, I don't long for more beatings. I long for the support, the team, the mutual expectation. I wish just once a school principal would call and ask to beat my child. I can decline the offer, but at least I know they are trying, that they expect something to happen, that they are taking steps.

Of course, what I am talking about has nothing to do with the science of educating children. When did it become a science anyway? Educating children is a process that is more about process than discovery. But more importantly, it's an alternative.

In centuries past education was the alternative to farming, working, sewing, cooking. There was a price to pay for children leaving the home during daylight hours and they were expected to progress in knowledge, ability and value to society. The same idea should be returned to the educational process. We value our advanced and civilized society that discredits child labor and stay at home moms, but what price is there to pay for children who fail in the class and have no life skills to fall back on? What value to society is an ignorant child, teenager or adult?

Is failure harsh to think about? Yes. But I believe our best efforts should be put towards expectations, enforcement, and competition. I believe success rises with expectation, and failure follows without enforcement. Should public schools be closed down for other alternatives? No. Should other alternatives be shut off because of public mandates? No.

-

The right, me included, believes completely in self reliance, personal responsibility, discipline and respect for authority, moral authority, competition, traditional values and the free marketplace of ideas and policies. We value data, and we seek results oriented change. We value success and implicitly discredit failure.

Our values are both strength and a weakness in the education reform arena. We know what works because we've seen it work - competition (among providers and recipients), a focus on traditional liberal education (math, reading, history, civics and science), respect for parents and respect for authority - all contribute to better educated children, workers and researchers. But our efforts to tie education reform to broader policy areas - like free markets and government funding alternatives to taxes (bonds, lotteries, fees, tuition, scholarship, vouchers, etc.) - often lead us into debates over bottom lines, and education reform morphs into economic development. I think they should be kept separate.

The left has separate and completely different problems. The good is they value individuality, support for the underprivileged and depressed. They believe they can do more and often they refuse to give up. But they believe the problem with failing children and schools is with the system and not with the teachers, administrators, children, family or parents. Their focus on the system leads them to overlook the hard truths about their failures and their pursuit of funding, and environmental reform (class size, busing, length of school year, teacher pay, teacher credentials, etc.) over the past 50 years have not lead to the success they had hoped.

On the contrary, learning gaps still exist, dropout rates have neither raised nor dropped and the general reading, writing and mathematical skill of students graduating high school are comparatively  worse, to say nothing of the abysmal ignorance of civics or history (American or otherwise). I think many of these "reforms" championed by the left should be abandoned completely.

I want to support teachers and educators. I want to pay them above average salaries with bonuses and benefits comparable to those in management. Teachers are good people. They sacrifice pay, and sometimes alternative careers, to leave a mark in children’s lives. In many underserved communities teachers are often the only good some students see in their daily lives. But, self sacrificing well meaning teachers are not who I want teaching my child. God love them, but they are the worst types of people to be in middle and high schools teaching children with discipline, authority and legal problems.

Sadly, teachers today need more of a drill sergeant mentality. You will succeed because failure is not an option. You will learn because you can. You will progress because you must. It's not what they are called to do, but in most schools it is what is needed. Our country needs better educated students, smarter students, prepared students. It's not just a matter of personal survival, it's a matter of national survival.

Besides, good teachers are more than well educated, well trained or willing. A good teacher is an amalgam of experience, not experts in their fields, but experts with kids, one person tyrants with a mini fiefdom supported by parents and neighborhoods, and they rule with the authority that comes from support structures.

Teacher pay and targeted smaller class size is a start (particularly in super-failure situations), but without expectations why bother? Without enforcement, how successful can they be?

-

I would prefer not to saddle the state with funding for construction of mythical class size measurements that have absolutely no empirical evidence of success. I would prefer not to reward existing teachers who are failing students, and I would prefer not to recruit poor teachers with the lure of higher pay to this state, my neighborhood or my school.

I would prefer to offer payouts to bad teachers to get rid of them, using the salary money to double the salary of good teachers. I would prefer to drop the certification requirements for most teaching and focus on dedicated professionals, homemakers and disciplinarians that expect results. Some background in subject matter would be nice, but what expert knowledge does a teacher need to teach 7 year olds how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. It's not calculus for crying out loud.

With some exceptions we generally aren't in need of more teachers, more schools and more laptops. The expectations are what's lacking. It's ok to fail, because you aren't an idiot. It's ok to be functionally illiterate if you come from a bad neighborhood. It's ok to graduate without basic abilities, because if we deny you a degree then you can't get a job. We will pass you on to the next grade, because we don't want to be responsible for your failure. It’s too late. With thinking like this educators are failing children before they even step into the classroom.

Just this week in a Senate Committee on Education Senator Frederica Wilson was trying to lay the blame for falling minority enrollment at universities at the feet of FCAT testing. Her thinking was along these lines - If we weren’t so strict on FCAT testing more minorities would graduate high school and enter universities. How sad is this soft bigotry? How ignorant is it to deny opportunity in the name of political gain?

The FCAT is the bare minimum. A student who can’t pass the FCAT should not be attending a university, they should be thinking of a trade or alternative lifestyle that does not require education. They have already been failed by the educational system, not by testing. They should be suing their parents and their teachers for allowing them to get so far with so little.

-

I want to reform education, but the reformers keep getting in the way. Those on the left should quit protecting failure in the face of good intentions and those on the right should pay above average for above average results. If the left would quit debating about how money flows from state coffers into classrooms then the right would quit arguing about how much to give.

Educators should identify children who are truly in need and find them dedicated help, but we must expect the remaining children to progress. When they don't, they must fail. And the price paid must be on the parents, not the state. This is why vouchers and school choice work so well, they are the antithesis of paying the price - vouchers are reaping the rewards of responsibilities. Parents want to be recognized for taking the responsibility and vouchers provide that opportunity.

Parents will, and want to, take the responsibility of finding and providing quality education for their children. They will seek out results and they will imply your failure when they leave your school. We need to increase our expectations, increase our enforcement, and support the process in whatever form it takes be it through traditional schools, charter schools, homeschools, private schools or public competition through vouchers and scholarship.

Schools and unions should quit denying their failures. They must go first because they have been steering the educational boat for more than half a century. They must accept we are on the shoals of failure and it wasn't the passengers who got us there.

January 26, 2006

Why Jim Davis can't win in Florida

Here's a self described Republican female explaining why she doesn't like Davis, and it's got to be one of the best explanations why Davis can't win.

Davis can spend all the money he can raise telling people he's moderate, experienced and the only guy who can win a General Election, and he no doubt will, but in the end he just can't hide his disgust for Jeb Bush. His entire campaign is the anti-Jeb campaign (as opposed to the anti-Crist or anti-Gallagher campaign) and that's a losing campaign strategy in Florida.

From an electoral strategy, the bottom line is Davis can't win without crossover voters. While left wing democrats don't like Jeb and will unquestionably be supporting Davis, Jeb's approval ratings are consistently in the mid 60's. Jeb appeals not only to Republicans (obviously), but also centrist, moderate and conservative democrats who genuinely like what he brings to the table and they respect his leadership. Davis needs more than just democrats, he needs some Republicans too, and here he stands running against Jeb at every turn. If that's his plan then he can't win and Irish Wake has shown us why. Davis is running against more than 60% of the state who approve of what Jeb's accomplished and what he's still trying to do. Maybe Davis should take a moment. Thanks.

January 25, 2006

I think this means "get lost"

Today, I received the following form letter from Senator Klein's office -

Dear Concerned Citizen,

I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me.  Hearing from the people in my district is the best way that I can represent their wishes.  I personally read every e-mail message that is sent to me.  However, due to the large volume of messages that I receive on a daily basis,  I cannot respond to every message.  Please be assured that I have taken note of your comments and I am grateful for your input.  If you would like to receive a written response, please make sure you have included your mailing address with your correspondence.

If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call my office at (561) 274-4777.

Very truly yours,
Ron Klein
State Senator
District 30

January 24, 2006

All I need to know about the opposition...

Is in this article and can be summed up with this quote from top strategist and Florida democratic Party Executive Director Luis Navarro,

Navarro told the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee not to forget that "we've got a score to settle" from the disputed 2000 presidential election, when Bush won Florida by 537 votes.

The GOP is six years ahead and the democrats are six years behind. I can't believe the D's make it this easy.

Bringing power back to the House

This is more than just idealism, this is what happens when term limits actually limit power, legislators find a way to take it back. Jeb Bush has been wildly successful at taking power from the legislature and driving the political agenda, but he probably benefited largely from term limits coming during his time in office. Speaker Byrd tried to take back power with big personality and bravado, but he only had two years to do it and he didn't play nice with others. Everybody knew if they waited long enough he would be gone.

But what are you going to do when you don't want to go along with the agenda and you know the next two guys leading the House have already signed on to the plan?

What do you do if  the legislature just signed on to lobbying reform and your lobbyist isn't on board with the next three speakers?

What do you do if  you are Tom Gallagher and you are running the straight conservative Republican ticket, and you have an incoming speaker who says it doesn't make sense to suport GOP positions just because they are GOP positions?

What do you do if you are Charlie Crist and you could have an inside track to the next speaker?

Which candidate do you think is going to benefit from this arrangement?

If you don't like the potential of a six year agenda then what do you do?

Answer - Support redrawing the map. You may not know what happens if it passes, but you know you can probably influence the outcome easier then you can influence the six year plan.

Exchange in the Senate Committe on Education

Today's Senate Committee on Education - John Winn explains the reason our state ranks 50 in graduation rates is because of how we report/publish information regarding retention policy of 9th graders. It goes something like this (this is not terribly accurate but it reflects the sentiment of the comments)-

Winn - We aren't really that bad. We look bad because we report 9th graders who don't receive all the credits for promotion as 9th graders. They move on to 10th grade, but they are still classified as 9th graders. When grauation rates are calculated they are measured against the original numbers of 9th graders. Other states aren't capable of reporting that information so they don't get stuck with it.

Senator King - WTF?

Winn - What?

King - Why don't we report information that reflects better? If its a reporting technicality then why don't we report information that will make us look better?

Winn - The counties report the information.

King - and?

Winn - We just publish it, we don't report it.

King - ....

Winn - ....

Chairman - Lets move on

UPDATE: More from Senator Bullard

Chairman - Senator Bullard

Senator Bullard - Thank You. Senator Wilson, nice hat.

Bullard - Are we doing things the legal way or the right way?

Winn - The legal way is always the right way.

....

Bullard - when I hear the legal way versus the right way regarding education I get concerned for the children. I want to be sure we are doing things the RIGHT way.

Winn - The legal way is the minimum we should do, the right way is the maximum we can do. We are trying to do the right thing.

Nice save John. Nice save.

UPDATE: More from Senator Wilson

Wilson - are you looking at the impact of reduced enrollment of minorities at universities becauase of the role of FCAT failure diminishing graduation rates among minorities?

Winn - enrollment in universities requires much more than passage of FCAT, so enrollment in collegees is not affected by reduced graduation due to FCAT failure. You and I just have to disagree on that.

Why does that even need to be said? How do these people get elected?

MORE: On state by state graduation rates from Jay Greene during his time at the Manhattan Institute. Green is now at the University of Arkansas and is in Tallahassee today for an education summit hosted by the James Madison Institute.

January 23, 2006

Florida Supreme Court Flip-Flop

The Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court can’t seem to make up her mind about how to make decisions as a judge. In the span of just one week, Justice Pariente  demonstrated the problem with the judiciary today and arbitrariness of her decisions in a massive jurisprudential flip-flop. 

Two weeks ago the Florida Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Holmes, where Pariente, writing the majority opinion, fabricated an imaginary clause in the Florida Constitution in order to reach the outcome they desired. In Holmes, Pariente took the clause “Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools...” and essentially added the phrase “and this shall be the only provision made to supply said education.” Flip. Just one week later, the Court released its opinion in Maddox v. Florida and Justice Pariente signed on to an opinion written by Justice Cantero which vehemently advocates that judges should apply the plain meaning of the law rather than fabricating text which doesn’t exist. Flop.

Pariente, who just a week before found it necessary to make up new parts of the Florida Constitution, now agrees with the following statements from Cantero’s opinion:

“As we have long held, ‘[w]hen the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous and conveys a clear and definite meaning, there is no occasion for resorting to the rules of statutory interpretation and construction; the statute must be given its plain and obvious meaning.’”

and

“‘[e]ven where a court is convinced that the legislature really meant and intended something not expressed in the phraseology of the act, it will not deem itself authorized to depart from the plain meaning of the language which is free from ambiguity.’”

This sudden change of heart can be explained in ways:

  1. Pariente      has changed her method of jurisprudence and is now a textualist.
  2. Pariente      doesn’t have a set method of jurisprudence and will use whatever theory of      decision-making necessary to get to the result she desires.

Even though I desperately wish the first explanation could be true, the reality is that given Pariente’s decision-making history, the second explanation is correct.

Why does this matter? Because this demonstrates that the law is nothing more than a mere formality to Justice Pariente and her ilk (Justice Quince did the same flip-flop between Holmes and Maddox). The law is whatever they want it to be and if they don’t like the law created by the people, they change it, and they will flip-flop between whatever method or reasoning that will get them there. The law has no meaning, the law has no solid substance, the law is whatever we say it is.

On a related note I will point out that I think Justice Pariente is an amazing woman. She is a strong, intelligent woman, a cancer survivor and a real pleasure to spend time with. However, she is a bad judge. Until we begin selecting judges based upon their demonstrated ability to read and apply the law flip-flops such as these will continue and none of us can be confident of where the law really stands.

Mr. G

*** Mr. G apologies for the recent absence.  He spent the week in Miami at the annual meeting of the Trial Lawyers section of the Florida Bar complaining about incapable judges.

Winning the Tampa race

Business leaders are the difference in nearly every community. Guess who's winning them in Tampa?

 

   36% Charlie Crist
19% Jim Davis
10% Tom Gallagher
1% Rod Smith
29% Don't know
5% Refused


   Source: Times annual business outlook survey

Money. Influence. Votes.

I wonder if Gallagher is winning them in Miami?

January 20, 2006

Friday flow

Hello everybody. I'm attending an event in Orlando so posting will be scant today. Yesterday in the comments section of Is Ron Klein a lobbyist, lawyer or legislator? Ethan says,

These comments seem very out of place. Ron Klein has done a fantastic
job representing his state senate district for the past 10 years. I
live in it. The man said he would donate his money from the SunCruz
guys, and you know what he will. Those connections to Abramoff were as
ridiculous as anything I've ever seen. If you do the research, you will
notice only two times in his career as a lawyer has Ron done lobbying.
And both of these times were for selfless causes.
Here's my response:

I have no doubt he has done a fantastic job. When the man represents clients to the local government which he has influece over as a state legislator, I would expect nothing less.

If he said he would donate the money, then why hasn't he done it yet? If you can show me the records of donation then please do. To my knowledge he has yet to do it, and I should think several months would be long enough to make a donation. He made a public statemnet about his intentions for the tainted money he took from gambling interests owned by Jack Ambramhoff. I wouldn't call that ridiculous.

It took me all of about one hour to make donations to the tsunami relief effort and the Katrina fundraising effort. I certainly don't have the financial resources Sen Ron Klein does. My question to you - to whom did he donate? Don't tell me to trust him on his word.

And finally, the minimal amount of research I have done on this subject was substantive enough to raise several questions in my mind. I suspect you don't want me to do more research on this. I would prefer that Senator Klein answer my email, which he has yet to do.

Sen.
Klein, 

I write a blog called PEER Review FL. Today, I noted the apparent conflict in your campaign’s statements. 

Questions have been raised about your statements responding to Congressman Clay Shaw’s reference to your lobbying activities. In the comments sections a reader noted, 

“Doesn't the Palm Beach County Health Care District lobby the state for funding for trauma care? It would be interesting to know if Ron Klein was involved with the appropriations issue in the past several years. A bit of a conflict of interests, wouldn't you say?” 

I’m writing this email to give you an opportunity to respond officially. We will look into this allegation of course, but if you would like to contribute to the discussion I will post anything you have to say. 

Thomas
Croom
www.peerreview.blogs.com/fl

Thanks for the comment Ethan.

January 19, 2006

Bad news for Charlie, both of them

The Charlies are shaken right now, but they will both be serving straight up versions of their personalities soon enough.

I predicted months ago that Charlie Bronson, Ag commissioner, would have a tough go of it this year. He is so far down the news ladder that the only news on his race will be bad news. That trend continued this week with actual bad news for the commish when he announced that the Feds had decided the Citrus Canker elimination plan was not working and they would not be paying for it anymore.

In my opinion Bronson still has a lock on the election, especially since this announcement gives him the opportunity to spend his legislative session begging demanding money to pay for trees and property already destroyed (especially for groves), approval to settle lawsuits already in the system, and funding for research (education) for FL's most famous industry. The only thing most politicians do well is ask for money, and in an election year they are particularly adept.

Besides, imagine if the citrus industry was heading for the toilet - if you are a citrus grove owner would you want a democrat representing you to the GOP controlled house, senate, federal and state governments? No. This may be Bronson's toughest political year as an elected official, but it won't be his last.

Charlie Crist doesn't know it yet, but his campaign is on the ropes, as much as a candidate for Governor with a $1.5 million fundraising advantage can be on the ropes, and I think I know why. Money. Money. Money.

When you have broken every fundraising record in FL and your last quarter doubled your primary opposition, and outpaced both General Election candidates combined, people start wondering why you don't poll higher in generic polls among rank and file voters. Part of the reason is the Crist campaign does not appear to be worried, publicly or privately. They aren't running like they are losing, or even worried about losing, and that can spell trouble for a young campaign awash with cash. They already think they have won. This almost always leads to a resurgence by the "challenger" and makes a race where one should not exist.

Rule number 1 - assume you are ten points down and you have one week to go.

It requires a little extra effort and a different mindset to decide to take out your opponent, whether it's 6 months out or 6 days out. But as long as these polls keep coming out saying Gallagher is in a dead heat, or generic democrats beat generic Republicans, it's only going to get harder for the Crist Campaign.

It's not hard, just be the conservative candidate you say you are. Make some campaign appearances, make some bold staements, challenge your opponent to define his conservative positions. Gallagher's not defining any positions that aren't already publicly supported by Jeb Bush, and in the meantime he's telling people you're not conservative, your not ready, and the race is not yours to lose. He sounds like he knows something you don't.

This race should not be within 5 points. Ever.

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January 17, 2006

under the weather

I am thinking of posts on Citrus Canker, a general legislative outlook, how the major issues could affect the upcoming elections, and another post on ID/creationist strategy for inclusion in curriculum. That's what I'm thinking about today and you should look for in the coming days.

Also, still waiting for a response from Sen. Ron Klein's office.

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January 13, 2006

More on Ron Klein

taint - Function: verb

Main Entry: 1taint
Pronunciation: 'tAnt
  
transitive senses
1 : to contaminate morally : CORRUPT  <scholarship tainted by envy>
2 : to affect with putrefaction : SPOIL
3 : to touch or affect slightly with something bad  <persons tainted with prejudice>
intransitive senses
1 obsolete : to become weak
2 : to become affected with putrefaction : SPOIL

Following up on yesterday, this Jan. 7 piece in the Sun-Sentinel tying corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to FL Sen. Ron Klein.

In Florida, both his [Abramhoff] SunCruz casino boat operation and two SunCruz partners, Adam Kidan and Ben Waldman, contributed to candidates, including state Sens. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, and Mandy Dawson, D-Fort Lauderdale, both of whom represent Palm Beach and Broward counties.

In 2001, Klein and Dawson each received $500 from SunCruz, $500 from Kidan, and $500 from Waldman. SunCruz gave the state Republican Party $5,000, dwarfing the total contributions to individuals.

Abramoff pleaded guilty this week to federal charges in connection with his 2000 purchase of SunCruz and Kidan pleaded guilty last month.

Klein is challenging Congressman Clay Shaw.  However, small this link may appear at first glance, I suspect there may be more to this story.

Kleins campaign manager, Brian Smoot, went on to say,

Smoot said his candidate wouldn't be tarnished. "If anybody would try to link Ron Klein to Jack Abramoff, that's pretty ridiculous."

Still, he said, Klein would use his own money to give the amount of any contributions even remotely related to Abramoff or SunCruz to a Florida hurricane relief charity.

But if Klein and his campaign are also going to say they aren't lobbyist, when they so clearly are, then why should we believe he doesn't know these people, who are also lobbyist, when it is very likely he not only knows them, but probably knows them personally. Klein does represent gambling and casino interests doesn't he? It's not a very large group of people and Tallahassee is a small town.

Also, has Klein made the donations he said he would make? Which charities received the money? How deep does the rabbit hole go?

Sadly, more questions, and not many answers. Klein's office has not yet responded to my email. I'll post it when they do.

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January 12, 2006

Is Ron Klein a lobbyist, lawyer or legislator?

lobby - Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): lob·bied; lob·by·ing
intransitive senses : to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation
transitive senses
1 : to promote (as a project) or secure the passage of (as legislation) by influencing public officials
2 : to attempt to influence or sway (as a public official) toward a desired action
- lob·by·ist   /-ist/ noun

Apparently FL Senator Ron Klein thinks himself not a lobbyist. Last night at the Palm Beach County GOP meeting Congressman Clay Shaw (home for cancer surgery) made the observation,

"This is a good year to be running against a professional lobbyist,"

in reference to his strongest opponent, FL State Senator Ron Klein. Klein's campaign responded,

"Ron is not a lobbyist, so I'm not sure what the point of that is," Klein campaign manager Brian Smoot said.

Here's the point Ron, you are a lobbyist. You promote yourself as the Director of the Governmental Relations, Lobbying and Administrative Law Group with your firm and under "Areas of Practice" you list "Government Relations & Lobbying" as a very distinct and seperate area of practice. Additionally, you go to the trouble of listing a seperate heading, "Ancillary Businesses" in which you describe your activities thus, "Lobbying-Governmental Practice-Municipal, County, Special Dist., Fed." Hmmm. What say you Ron? Do you lobby or not?

Yes, Ron, you are a lawyer, and you do practice law, but you also practice lobbying and you clearly know, and promote, the two as area's of expertise. If you're expert at it, then shouldn't you be able to correctly define it?

Never mind it's questionable that you maintain your lobbying activities as an elected official, a clear conflict of interest, but you also violently fight against lobbying reform (similar to Sen. Steven Geller's, "I am not a lobbyist" statement last month) but even more dubious is that you fail to register as a lobbyist with the state of FL or with any public entity you represent your clients in.

As a lawyer I would think you see the obvious exposure to future litigation you are putting your clients in risk of. The easiest thing to do here is just say you're a lobbyist and file the forms, this way you don't have to worry about those pesky regulations your colleagues just passed in the Florida Legislature, or about any future conflict of interests that may land your clients into a lawsuit.

Despite your fundraising abilities the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is actively fighting against your campaign, one of seven with multiple democrat candidates in the state. But yours isn't an open seat and you are also the democratic leader in the FL Senate. Why are they helping a challenger in a primary? Maybe it's because you're a lobbyist and democrats know when to cut and run? This section corrected in comments.

UPDATE: Read the comments section. Can anybody help with the specific information we are looking for? Also, I sent the following email to Senator Klein's legislative account.

Sen. Klein, 

I write a blog called PEER Review FL. Today, I noted the apparent conflict in your campaign’s statements. 

Questions have been raised about your statements responding to Congressman Clay Shaw’s reference to your lobbying activities. In the comments sections a reader noted, 

“Doesn't the Palm Beach County Health Care District lobby the state for funding for trauma care? It would be interesting to know if Ron Klein was involved with the appropriations issue in the past several years. A bit of a conflict of interests, wouldn't you say?” 

I’m writing this email to give you an opportunity to respond officially. We will look into this allegation of course, but if you would like to contribute to the discussion I will post anything you have to say. 

Thomas Croom
www.peerreview.blogs.com/fl

If I ever get a response I will post it here. He may not respond since I don't live in his district, but if you do, feel free to email him and ask the same question.

January 11, 2006

What will Judge Alito's Confirmation Mean for Abortion in Florida?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

With the confirmation hearings in full swing, everyone is buzzing about whether or not Judge Alito would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if confirmed to the Supreme Court. Based on his judicial record, my projection would be the same one that almost everyone is coming to; yes. But what does that mean? Conservatives have been quick to point out that overruling Roe doesn’t mean an end to abortion; it just means that the decision on whether to allow abortions is kicked back to the states. 

So what would happen to abortion in Florida?

Before I answer, I would be remiss if I did not make the quick aside that Alito’s confirmation, and even his vote against Roe, does not result in Roe being overturned. Yet. As I discussed in September, Alito’s addition to the Court brings the Roe Justice match up to 5 in favor, 4 against (assuming Roberts, as we have been assured, is a strict constructionalist; I’m not convinced yet). So before the battle over Roe begins, we need one more. 

But let’s suppose we have one more. Suppose my dreams have come true and in the wake of Justice Ginsberg’s celebrated retirement Robert Bork is re-nominated and finally confirmed as a Justice of the Supreme Court. Roe is overturned and there is much rejoicing.

But let me assure you, nothing, absolutely nothing changes in Florida. Yet.

The foundation of Roe v. Wade is the imaginary constitutional principle known as the “right to privacy”. You see, six current Supreme Court Justices, just like many six year old girls, have imaginary friends. But instead of friends who visit in flowery hats to drink imaginary tea, a Justice’s imaginary friend is a non-existent Constitutional principle which magically appears whenever they run out of arguments founded in actual law (although Justice Stevens has been reportedly seen wearing a dress and drinking imaginary tea with his friend Privacy). One of the major reasons Roe v. Wade would be struck because of the imaginary nature of this friend; the now strict constructionalist majority of the Court would announce, not necessarily an end to privacy analysis, but that even if it does exist, it does not encompass abortion. Thus, abortion is outside the reach of the Court and the States must decide.

But in Florida, that imaginary friend isn’t imaginary. Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution expressly provides for the right to privacy. Although, that really doesn’t matter because even if it wasn’t there are currently 5 Florida Supreme Court Justices who would just make it up if they felt the needed. Until there is either a Florida Constitutional amendment to provide that abortions are an exception to this section and can be prohibited by the legislature AND a 3 member change on the Florida Supreme Court abortion will remain legal in this state.

Sleep well Florida liberals, though you will not have any state wide elected officials, your “right” to continue slaying the innocent remains secure, for now But know this, no matter how long it takes, years or generations, we will bring the slaughter to an end.

Mr. G

Public schools are cheating the children

That's the title of John Stossels latest piece found at RCP.

Last week, Florida's supreme court ruled that public money can't be spent on private schools because the state constitution commands the funding of only "uniform . . . high-quality" schools. How absurd. As if government schools are uniformly high quality. Or even mostly decent.

Time to replace Supreme Court Justices?

I can tell you that when Rep. Ralph Arza suggests replacing three FL Supreme Court Justices he is not alone in thinking this is an idea with unique opportunity this year. I did some research on this months ago and if memory serves me well I remember thinking at least two of the three are vulnerable. It's not a sure thing, but the election scene has changed dramatically since then.

Rep. Arza may be on to something, and I personally support this idea, but if he was my client, I would be telling him to keep quiet right now and let something build behind the scenes.

And before anybody thinks this is partisan driven, it's not. It's strategy. Strategy for what, for who you ask? Ahh, the beauty of running your own blog.

Any thoughts?

January 10, 2006

McInvale press conference announcing switch to GOP

Rep. Marco Rubio just opened a press conference for McInvale to announce officially her switch to the GOP.

She said the book Rubio handed out, 100 ideas..., inspired her to do what was right for her constituents, switch parties.

Bense says, "Welcome aboard."

Fello Orlandanite, LG Jennings throws in her two cents... proud of Sherri "seeing the light.. coming in from the darkside."

Rep. Ray Sanson "Your part of the philosophy of better government... Look forward to your continued success over the next 5 years."

Q: Can you address the treend in registrations in you districts?
McInvale: "Democrats tend to be voting republican. dynamics in downtown Orlando are changing... condos...highrises... rising hispanic (PR) registration..." See earlier post for PRFL's take on this.

Q: Any particular issues that lead to this...?
McInvale: "Nothing about the past, all about the future." "This is more about geography."

Q: Has GOP made any pledges of monetary support to defend your seat?
McInvale: "I have struck no deals."

Nothing else of interest...

Sherri McInvale to switch parties?

Sherri McInvale, Orlando Democrat in her 2nd term in the House, is rumored to be switching to the Republican party today. If it happens, it will be big, not because the GOP needs additional numbers, but because McInvale is viewed as a centrist Democrat who could be potentially lethal as a Lt. Governors candidate, however unlikely.

An Orlando area representative in the LG slot would be a powerful 1-2 punch ticket for any of the Dem or GOP gubernatorial candidates with an eye to the future, but switching parties would likely take McInvale out of the race if she were being considered.

In any event, the scenario is not getting much air time in the rumor circuit; PEER Review hears Crist is considering a Latino, Gallgher is considering a Miamian, Davis still has not raised his profile enough for voters outside of his district to take notice, and Smith could choose anybody south of Gainesville and still not win. On second thought, a Smith-McInvale ticket would be quite the enigma...

PEER Review thinks House Speaker Alan Bense or Majority Leader Andy Gardiner would make the perfect LG candidate.

UPDATE: See comments section for more plus this post over at O'Blog.

UPDATE: Different opinions at FLA Politics (here and here) and speculation that this will be the end of her political career. Wrong again. With enough money she could easily hold this seat. The question isn't can she win, but will the GOP help her?

The numbers show real opportunity, but the strategy says why bother? Which is, coincidently the same questions we should ask about the switch in the first place? Why bother switching parties if you want to end your career? Simply don't run again. Conversly, if you want to stick it to the dems, then you better have a game plan for winning in november. This must be personal, but surely McInvale has some assurances of aid in the fall elections from Rubio...

UPDATE: Heartland Values asks,

Why is that you rarely see a Republican jump to the Democrat Party, but have heard so much over the last few years about Democrats jumping to the GOP side?

Why indeed!

January 09, 2006

FL Liberals don't understand polls

Rather, liberals still don't seem understand political technology and the science of elections. Over at FLA Politics some discussion has been revolving around a Rasmussen poll showing GOP and Dem candidates for governor polling even at around 36%. They are all a flutter with dreams that Davis or Smith are neck and neck with either Crist or Gallagher. lollipop dreams.

From Derek Newton,

The Good News - What's clearest to me from these numbers is that a Democrat can win this race once either Davis or Smith become better known. If they're half as well known and tied, that's a very good place to start.

For starters, you shouldn't need a poll to tell you 30-40 percent of voters are going to vote along party lines. It's standard. Nothing to get excited about. But hey, they're liberals. They're emotional.

Second, neither Davis nor Smith can raise name ID among undecided and swing voters in a primary because it would be a colossal waste of money for their campaigns to spend the (paltry amounts of) money preemptively without first winning the primary.

The undecided middle is where the money's at and with Crist holding favorability at 50% (the leader among the four) it's a good bet that he has the lead on the center. If past elections are any indication (and the past is usually a good predictor of the future) then the GOP should pick up about 60% of the middle and that means dems lose... again.

There is, of course, that pesky primary to be won first.

Sunsetting Florida Gov. Agencies

I have wondered just how far the legislative leadership was willing to go with the sunsetting planned for Florida agencies. Naming Miami Republican David Rivera to chair the House Governmental Operations committee is a clear sign this process is going to take shape and is likely to take high priority for the next three to five years.

Rivera said he plans to ''immediately focus'' the committee's attention on the Republican proposal to automatically ''sunset'' all government agencies and require the Legislature to reauthorize them.

Rivera said he believes too many state agencies are unresponsive to legislators.

''Perhaps by abolishing their agencies, and thus their jobs, and requiring periodic legislative reauthorization, (agency heads) will feel more motivated to be accountable and responsive to the elected members of the Legislature,'' Rivera said. ``This is an issue I feel strongly about and one that will not go away.''

It is exciting if only because the influence of legislators like Rivera will grow as Rubio gains strength, and Rivera's decidedly conservative ideas (which at times fall on deaf ears) will continue to receive favorable attention from future house leaders Sansom and Cannon long after Rivera leaves the House.

But don't get to excited. There is no way this gets passed in an election year.

Citrus Canker Strategy

From yesterday's Sun-Sentinel,

Officials with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are re-examining whether the enforcement of the 1,900-foot rule to eradicate canker in citrus groves is an adequate solution to fighting the disease.

It's not.

"We're open to any suggestions anyone has because our ultimate goal is to preserve the industry," McElroy said.

That's not what we've been hearing. Has anything changed?

"That law came before Frances, Jeanne and Wilma, and obviously the circumstance has changed since then."

If that's the cover story FL DOACS needs to save face and finally do something about this abysmal failure, then fine. Blame the hurricanes. Quit deciding canker policy on a study that measured spread and start basing it on one that actually determines spread. It's not very scientific to say wind spreads a water born disease outdoors. That's pretty much how everything is spread in the nature.

Being surprised that a hurricane might have spread canker 30 miles instead of 1900 ft. should not be a shock. In fact, you look downright silly suggesting you didn't see this coming.

There are really only three options: 1) destroy every citrus tree in the state, or 2) learn how to stop canker before it spreads, or 3) learn how to live with it. I'm guessing the first option is off the table so let's see what we can do about the other two.

And for crying out loud, start paying people for the destruction of their property and give them more than $55 and a certificate for shrubs at Walmart.

 

January 08, 2006

The 2000 Election: Five Years Later Liberals Still Don't Know What They Are Talking About

For all the complaining they do about Conservatives being stuck in the past, liberals seem unable to get out of 2000. What is worse is they demonstrate over and over again that even years later they haven’t taken the time to actually educate themselves on what happened.

A posting today over at FLA Politics directs readers to a Daily Kos directing readers to a study released by a professor at Florida State University. The study claims that a large number of “overvotes” were not counted in the 2000 election. The overvotes in question are those where an elector marked a candidate for president, and then also wrote in the candidate's name in the write-in blank as well. These were regarded as overvotes and invalidated. If these had been considered, the above sources claim, Gore would have won.

Once again liberals demonstrate that they do not know what they are talking about.

Guess what, kids, this isn’t news. If you think overvotes were not considered in the 2000 election, you’re wrong, they were. I direct your attention to the much criticized, but rarely read US Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 109-110 (2000). In Bush, the Court specifically addressed the disregarded overvotes. The Court even noted the fact that the Florida Supreme Court’s proposed recount plan ignored these overvotes. “The State has not shown that its procedures include the necessary safeguards. The problem, for instance, of the estimated 110,000 overvotes has not been addressed, although Chief Justice Wells called attention to the concern in his dissenting opinion.”  Bush, 531 U.S. at 109-110. Even if the US Supreme Court decision hadn’t overturned the Florida Supreme Court’s decision, the overvotes still would not have been counted, thus eliminating any claim that there was some sort of conspiracy by Harris, Bush, or the Supreme Court to exclude overvotes.  That is, unless liberals now want to claim that the Florida Supreme Court was in on it, too.

The US Supreme Court identified that a massive effort, requiring a great deal of time would be required to set up a process to count all of the questionable overvotes and undervotes. So much so, that pursuing that option simply was not feasible given the election deadlines the State had to meet. Was this ideal? Of course not, but placing blame on the Court, or government organs because they had to make a decision to ensure the continuity of the election as well as meet the requisite deadlines to provide that the State would be able to participate in the electoral college at all demonstrates a complete ignorance of the process involved. There was simply not a system, or the resources, or the time available to convene a Grand Jury over every questionable ballot. Voters have to assume at least a minimal degree of responsibility for their ballot.

These overvotes were not something that just slipped under the radar, while noone had the exact numbers (or the time or system in place to figure them out) in 2000, they were considered and it was decided that it would have been next to impossible to include them. Additionally, as the Court concluded in Bush, even if we could, to do so would violate the Equal Protection principles as it would give unfair consideration to one type of voter error, and not others. Bush, 531 U.S. at 109.  It is not fair to give an advantage to one voter because they made a mistake and not all others.

Further, liberals are so quick to cast blame upon former Secretary of State Harris, Governor Bush, and the Supreme Court for ballots which were thrown out. Again, this is the result of ignorance. If you look to the Florida Election Code (Title IX) of the Florida Statutes you will notice that a great deal of autonomy is given to the counties in elections. A decision of whether or not to count a vote, while certain guidelines are given to the election commissioners, rests initially with (with great deference to) each county. Harris, Bush, and Scalia were not in Palm Beach throwing away ballots.

The election code which governed in 2000 directed under section 101.5614(6) that “If an elector marks more names than there are persons to be elected to an office… the elector's ballot shall not be counted for that office, but the ballot shall not be invalidated as to those names which are properly marked.” Sure it is open to interpretation. Does the same name indicated twice qualify as more than one name? Guess who makes the initial determination? That’s right, the county.

I won’t speak to the study done by Professor Dehaven-Smith as there were no conclusive numeric results. But regardless of the actual numbers, ultimately it doesn’t matter. The election was over 5 years ago and overvotes were considered.

Heaven help the Republicans if liberals ever start looking to the future and actually planning rather than complaining about the past.

- Mr. G

January 06, 2006

FL Supreme Court Justices Need Private Education Due to Lack of Reading Comprehension Skills

The FL Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Holmes (striking down the state's Opportunity Scholarship Program) provided a wonderful example for why such a non-traditional approach to education is necessary; 5 of 7 justices are unable to read.  Well, maybe they can read, but at a minimum they demonstrated a lack of reading comprehension skills.

There has been a great deal of commentary as to the ultimate conclusion of the Court, which honestly, shouldn't surprise anyone who has been following the Court's decisions for longer than a month.  However, what is particularly striking is the manner in which they reach that conclusion.  The Majority of the Court focuses on this provision from Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution: "Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools..."

In a stunning assault on logic and reason the they conclude that this statement means two things:
First, that the Florida Legislature must provide for a uniform free education system.  No problems there.  Any fourth grader from any one of Florida's A, B, and possibly C schools could figure that out. Second, this provision also means that the Florida Legislature is specifically bound to this method alone in providing an education and cannot pursue other options. 

...huh?

The Court attempts to justify its reading through a manipulation of the maxims of statutory interpretation and in doing so, as Justices Bell and Cantero point out in their dissenting opinion, they ignore decades of jurisprudence on the reading of statutes and the reading of the Florida Constitution.  The Florida Constitution, and statues are designed for the purpose of informing citizens and the government of the extent of their rights and responsibilities.  But what good is it if it doesn't mean what it says?  If the Court is able to twist and manipulate legal provisions or, as in this case, completely make up provisions which are not there, why have laws at all?

We teach elementary, middle, and high school students a concept called reading comprehension.  We even evaluate that skill in standardized testing. We require students at A, B, and possibly even C schools to learn to read a passage and explain its meaning.  Unfortunately, our own Florida Supreme Court is unable to do the same without imaginatively creating meanings which are not there.  What's worse is that until they finally master this basic reading skill none of us can be sure of the existence or extent of our rights, or the responsibilities and restrictions of our government under Florida law.

January 05, 2006

Fl Supreme Court to minority parents - You have no choice.

The Florida Supreme Court handed down it's decision on vouchers today - Opportunity Scholarships, used by 700 students (64% black and 30% hispanic) are unconstitutional because the private schools they use their scholarships at at are not accountable in the same way public schools are.

Yeah, you read that right accountable.

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the majority, said the program "diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools," which are the sole means set out in the state constitution for educating Florida children.

Private schools also are not uniform when compared with each other or the public system and they are exempt from many standards imposed by law on public schools, such as mandatory testing, she added.

The ruling was a victory for public schools across the state and nation, said Ron Meyer, lead attorney for a coalition, including a statewide teachers union, that challenged the voucher program.

"It means that Florida's taxpayers will not be forced to pay for schools which are unaccountable," Meyer said. The public schools of Florida will welcome the return of these voucher students at the end of the school year."

Essentially they acknowledge the Opportunity Scholarships create competition between public and private schools AND are saying parents can not be expected to decide when a private school is doing an appropriate better job of educating their children because private schools are not held to the same standards as public schools.

And you know, they're right. In private schools they actually expect kids to read and write English, perform basic math skills, and maintain some decent amount of responsibility and respect towards authority. Schools that don't do those things go out of business.

If that's not accountability then what is?

 

So far, I think A Stitch in Haste has said it best,

Equal education is now more important than quality education.

I have plenty to say on this subject regarding school choice, the subject of the ruling, the power grab this represents for the Supreme Court, how the legislature or the next governor might, could or should respond, the complete lack of understanding on what accoutnability is and how markets work. etc. etc. etc. More to come in the coming days and weeks. Much more.

I can't wait to see which GOP candidate for governor jumps on this one first. If Crist's fledgling team is on the ball, it will be him. Likely Gallagher has a statement in waiting but wants to wait and see what Bush will say. Let's watch shall we?

Mr. C

Legitimacy of Florida Felon Disenfranchisement

South of the Suwannee has a question. As usual, Mr. G has the answer. Suwannee highlights a posting by blackprof.com which discusses the impact of felon disenfranchisement laws in Virginia. These laws remove the right to vote from anyone who has been convicted of a felony. The posting points out the racial discrimination which motivated many of such laws resulting in their subsequent removal by federal courts. Suwannee asks whether we would find racial discrimination to be the basis of Florida’s felon disenfranchisement law (contained in Article VI, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution)? Suwannee, the answer is no.

I turn your attention to the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Johnson v. Governor of the State of Florida, 405 F.3d 1214 (11th Cir. Fla. 2005), determined just this past April, which asked the same question. Relying heavily upon the United States Supreme Court decision in Hunter v. Underwood, 417 U.S. 222 (1985), the Eleventh Circuit found that only when there is proof of intentional discrimination does a felon disenfranchisement law violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (Amendment 14, Section 1). Did the Eleventh Circuit find such intentional discrimination? No.

 While there is question as to discriminatory intent for felon disenfranchisement provisions in earlier versions of the Florida Constitution the 1968 revisions eliminated any concerns of discrimination. Because the focus must be upon the most recent Constitution rather than the original or subsequent versions only evidence of discrimination in the formation of the 1968 disenfranchisement provision may be considered. Here, the Court found no evidence of discriminatory intent.

An argument may certainly be made that even if the law is not intentionally discriminatory it still has a discriminatory effect; disenfranchising more blacks from voting than whites.  But the fact remains that the U.S. Supreme Court has determined these laws to be legitimate as long as they are not motivated by discrimination, regardless of the effect. Thus, as confirmed by the Eleventh Circuit, because Florida’s felon disenfranchisement provision in the 1968 Florida Constitution has no discriminatory motivation, the law is legitimate.

Note:  The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari of Johnson (refusing to hear the appeal of the case) on Novermber 14, 2005.

Down and Dirty notes for the day

At this point in the game Charlie Crist is the USC of the FL Governors race and Tom Gallagher is Texas. Everyone expects Crist to win, but Texas Gallagher has some star players that can really change the whole the game. Don't count them out just yet. Is this governors race going to go down like the Rose Bowl last night with exceptional play and come from behind victories heroics, or more like the 96 Fiesta Bowl when everyone expected the fun and gun of Florida to take Nebraska by surprise only to receive a 62-24 whooping?

That being said.... If Crist raised $1.5 million, as he is reporting, then three things are certain -

1) Unless Gallagher raised more money, which isn't likely, the next six months are not looking rosy for his team despite what they say. Crist now has a cushion he can use for the General Election. The fact is Gallagher's team probably won't spend every dollar on the primary because they expect they will win and they will need money for the General Election.

Crist can now match Gallagher dollar for dollar in the primary and probably still have as much leftover as Democrats Davis or Smith will raise in their entire campaign. Since Crist is ahead, he doesn't have to go all out with spending to come from behind; his campaign theme should be "Don't lose it." But we all know what happens when teams go to a prevent defense...

2) There is no way Congresswoman Katherine Harris raised as much as Crist (both are raising funds nationally BTW), and without a very strong fundraising quarter to finish 2005 her chances are pretty much shot, despite what she hopes is going to happen or what Howard Troxler thinks. Her campaign should be begging Jeb Bush to get into the US Senate race and allow her to bow out gracefully.

3) If Jeb Bush does get into the Senate race, and many suspect he is planning a run for something, then every republican down the ticket wins in November.

Have a great day. Look for an announcement and changes in the coming days.

Mr. C

December 27, 2005

Can you say inept?

a note from blogger X

Inept --    1. Not apt or fitting; inappropriate.          
1. Displaying a lack of judgment, sense, or reason; foolish: an inept remark.          
2. Bungling or clumsy; incompetent: inept handling of the account.

Rod Smith, a candidate for Governor sent me this email today:

Rod Smith would be harder [for Republicans] to beat than Jim Davis"
--Former Republican Governor Mel Martinez 

Over the weekend, former Republican Governor Mel Martinez gave his handicap on the 2006 Gubernatorial General Election:

"Rod Smith would be harder to beat than Jim Davis,"

.....

This is our last quarter of 2005--let's show the Republicans that we won't back down, that we're ready to win in 2006!

Happy Holidays--we can't wait for 2006!

Paul Neaville
Campaign Manager
Rod Smith for Governor

December 19, 2005

Good Reads

Good reads this morning thus far include Have The Democrats Walked Into a Trap......Again?
over at RCP

Not recognizing the political ground had shifted beneath their feet, Democrats continued to press forward with their offensive against the President. They’ve now foolishly climbed out on a limb that Rove and Bush have the real potential to chop off. One would think that after the political miscalculations the Democrats made during the 2002 and 2004 campaigns they would not make the same mistake a third time, but it is beginning to look a lot like Charlie Brown and the football again.

and Dems need to debate in 2006 from Bill Cotterell at Tal. Democrat.

At the Florida Democratic Party Conference Dec. 9-11, candidates for governor and Cabinet offices spoke broadly of how state government needs a rebirth in the post-Bush era. But except for promising to end reliance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test - a staple of Bush's education plan - and preserving the class-size constitutional amendment - which he wants to scrap - the Democrats didn't say much about what they would change.

December 16, 2005

The Party of No Opinion

*Due to administrative difficulties with publisher Typepad this posting is cross posted at Truth or Death.

Yesterday House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi confirmed my analysis of the problem with the democrat Party; democrats can’t agree on a plan, so they have no plan. In August I wrote:

The difficulty the democrat party faces is the breadth of views encompassed by their constituency. While this provides great diversity within the party, it restricts the amount of policies which the party can advance without splintering. A democrat can campaign and advocate for broad general principles and hold general party support, but as soon as they begin to move into propositions or solutions they risk alienating huge sections of the party.

Yesterday Pelosi proclaimed that democrats should not seek a unified position on an exit strategy for Iraq since "There is no one Democratic voice . . . and there is no one Democratic position." What she is really saying is that they simply can’t agree on what to do. Thus, the official democrat party position deteriorates to simply disagreeing with whatever Republicans propose. It is a shame too, because this is really their best opportunity to contrast a solid plan against that of the Republicans. With as much fear and disagreement as there is among the general public, moderates in particular, a firm democrat plan would give the country a clear vision of democrat leadership. But this is yet another opportunity they will have to pass for fear of alienating large portions of their base. As a result, it turns into yet another opportunity for Republicans to call attention to the opposing party’s complete inability to develop a plan and follow through. Over and over again they have shown the American public that they offer no solutions, only criticism. Ultimately, people are learning to just stop listening.

We’ve even seen this on the state level in the wake of the Florida democratic Party convention. Despite all the noise they made, despite all the democrat celebrities they showcased, despite all the hype, they still didn’t give us a democrat plan for Florida. I follow politics pretty closely, and if I can’t tell you what their platform is, I highly doubt the average Floridian can. They’ve become all talk and no substance.

Mr. C and I tried to explain this to the folks over at FLA Politics in response to a posting by Mike from Florida News, but fortunately for Republicans, democrats aren’t really listening either. But in the spirit of a fair political fight, I will offer my sage-like advice to the democrats again; as long as you have no real platform, you will continue to lose. As long as you have no plans in Iraq, you will continue to lose. As long as you have no plans for fixing Social Security, you will continue to lose. As long as you refuse to take a stand, even at the risk of causing a division in the party, you will continue to lose.

You may disagree with Republican policies, but at least they have an opinion to disagree with.

- Mr. G

December 13, 2005

Bush wins, Bush wins

News Sunday that Katherine Harris is raising a paltry $500,000 this quarter and fuels speculation she is going to drop out of the Senate race. Today, a denial from the Harris camp that she will be dropping the race (note, no denial of the fundraising predictions). Rampant speculation (here and here) at the liberal FLA Politics on who could jump in the Senate Race. (Plus more hyperventilating over the Dem convention this weekend in Orlando.)

On The Morning Show with Preston Scott at 1270 WPTF (have you listened through the new listen live link?) discussion on whether Jeb Bush would jump in the Presidential race and whether Hillary could win the dem nomination and the White House.

My take and some observations regarding the highlights from the Dem convention after the jump.

Continue reading "Bush wins, Bush wins" »

December 06, 2005

Out in Left Field has something to say...

And I promised her I would post a link to her site.

Do you see how good conservatives keep their word?

Now go leave a nasty message on her site. Tell her Mr. C told you to do it... you can post anonymously.

Mr. C

December 05, 2005

FL: It can't get any worse for democrats...

So why wouldn't 2006 be looking up?

Oh, how I will laugh if they don't win anything.

December 01, 2005

When democrats attack! Coming to a local dem club meeting in your area soon...

This is just too funny...

Patricia Beausoleil, the wife of Democratic Executive Committee state committeeman Joe Beausoleil, struck Bowles on the right side of his face, according to a Lee County Sheriff's Office report.

Beausoleil, 77, said she hit Bowles after he called her "white trash." Bowles said he was referring to her behavior after she uttered an obscenity.

Bowles filed a complaint with the Lee County Sheriff's Office, which has been forwarded it to the state attorney's office for review. He also filed a formal complaint with Karen Thurman, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, and with Lynda Bradley, chairwoman of the Lee County Democratic Party, in an effort to get Joe Beausoleil removed as committeeman.

Patricia Beausoleil said she regretted striking Bowles but did so because he "continuously assaulted her and her husband verbally" after the two refused to leave the meeting.

So the quesiton is, why is it ok to physically attack a fellow democrat when they call you "white trash," but it's not ok to physically attack a brutal dictator who tortures and kills his people while thumbing his nose to sanctions imposed by the ENTIRE WORLD for more than a decade?

This is why the american voter doesn't "get" democrats and why they keep losing.

That and the arrogance that comes with losing about a thousand elections in a row is kind of revolting. Where does that come from anyway?

Ok, that's all I've got.

Update: Apparently it wasn't, I just thought of something. That chick was 77. That generation, the greatest generation, you know the one that came before those losers the Baby Boomers, the greatest generation knew when to throw down and they didn't mess around when it came to time to do it.

You know, you can only push an old person so far, but eventually the ground is going to stop their fall and they will get back up.... maybe. Well, I wouldn't really know, I don't assualt old people like the democrats do, especially by refusing to allow prescription medicine and social security reform. It's terrible how they let all those old people eat cat food instead fixing social security.

 

November 30, 2005

FL: Strategic Vision Poll Analysis

I know you are all waiting for it, so here it is. The important response analysis to a continuing unimportant poll.

Continue reading "FL: Strategic Vision Poll Analysis" »

November 28, 2005

FL: House Leadership supports "sunsetting" state agencies

This is good news, so which GOP candidate for Governor will step up and support this idea? TG? CC? Anybody?

November 17, 2005

FL: Harris losing to Nelson, Crist losing to Davis, Gallagher tied with Davis

Recent Rasmussen polls show Harris losing by 17 to Nelson, Gallagher tied with Davis at 40, and Crist losing to Davis by 3.

Total polled was only 500, pollsters acknowledge GOP is underperforming at this time.

I want to post more on this, I just don't have time. Digest it and hopefully we can get back to it later.

November 16, 2005

I'm live

What shall we talk about first?

How about canker, the citrus kind. It's not good and unless the news is, "we've got a cure," then it's not good news. Ever. It only serves to remind voters the Citrus State is losing the battle against a natural killer.

UPDATE: I apologize for the lack of updates. Apparently typepad is not available again. See all the updates below I have been trying to post for the last hour? Maybe I picked the wrong time to do live bloggin? Any suggestions on a better time?

2:10 - We could talk about how dissappointing SC Senator Lindsey Graham is turning out to be.

2:19 - Trying to build that blog? Here's some tips. (HT LBC)

2:27 - Tallahassee - If you haven't voted NO to the coal plant yet, then go to the SOE office, get your ballot, and check no.

2:49 - From the Hotline, Katherine Harris Campaign Manager, Jim Dornan - Out. This does not bode well for KH.

2:52 - He only voted for the war because he thought it would help him win the presidency, so it only makes sense that now, when he thinks he still wants to president, he says he was wrong. I am talking, of course, of former NC Senator (trial lawyer) John Edwards.

November 14, 2005

FL: Bense for Senate?

I still say it's a bad idea, and if he were to go head to head with Harris in a straight up dog fight, Harris would trounce him. But....

Harris needs a very strong fundraising quarter this time around. She can write off her problems last go around and I can believe she really was't doing anything. But if she hasn't raised serious money - $1.5 million or more - then I would expect Bense to jump. He gets the rest of the year to think about it, Special Session will raise his profile (as I mentioned in this blog in August) and no doubt Senator Dole and the rest of the NRSC has already promised millions in fundraising toward his efforts.

I still think Bense would make a plum choice for Lt. Gov, but if Harris shows weak fundraising this quarter, Bense will be seriously looking again at the US Senate. And why shouldn't he?

November 09, 2005

FL: Rod Smith surprises some

Today, I was surprised to see a visitor coming to PEER Review from the Rod Smith for Governor site. But I see I have FLA Politics to thank for lending Rod Smith their blog roll, so here it is -

Thank You FLA Politics for bringing more democrats to PEER Review.

My regular liberal readers, of which there are many, may note that I used democrat and not liberal in my appreciation. I personally believe that Rod Smith is supported, or should be supported, by the conservative and moderate factions of the democrat party, or as I like to call them, future Republicans. They are tough on crime, for sound fiscal policy, support the death penalty, support the local farmer, and are of strong moral character.

I'll keep a track of the visits coming from the Rod Smith for Governor site. They are sure to outnumber the Scott Maddox for Governor visits, which were probably all underreported. tsk tsk.

One question for FLA Politics, does this mean you are implicitly endorsing Rod Smith for Governor or can I start expecting visits from the Jim Davis for Governor site too? Or maybe I should be asking Out in Left Field?

The names say it all doesn't it folks?

Mr. C

November 07, 2005

US: Any thoughts on the "Seeds of Corruption"

As referenced here. Be sure to read through the comments.

November 04, 2005

FL: Governor Bush calls Special Session

Slated for the week of December 5th, 2005, to deal with Medicaid and slot machines.

“This afternoon, I called a Special Session of the Florida Legislature to fulfill our commitment to modernizing Florida’s Medicaid program. These sweeping reforms will empower Florida’s 2.2 million Medicaid patients to direct their own health care as never before and ensure our most vulnerable families receive the quality health care they deserve. 

“I am grateful to Senate President Tom Lee, House Speaker Allan Bense and the Florida Legislature for their leadership and partnership in recognizing the critical need for Medicaid reform. Florida’s disabled, elderly and most vulnerable will be better served because of our actions to improve the quality of health care, expand access and bring predictability to state spending. I look forward to working with the Legislature as Florida transforms its Medicaid program.

“In calling this Special Session, I am also asking the Legislature to fulfill its duty to the Florida voters by passing measures to implement the slots amendment.”

FL: Charlie Crist supports Death Penalty for Ted Bundy

I'd have to wonder if he didn't. First, I want to say this is not a criticism, more like an observation and a request. I wanted to mention this quote from today's Charlie Crist Campaign Update email to supporters,

...the Florida Supreme Court has suggested that the Legislature change current law governing the imposition of the death penalty in Florida.  This week I wrote a letter to House Speaker Allan Bense and Senate President Tom Lee suggesting that changes to Florida’s current law would weaken the death penalty.  It is important to understand the consequences of making such changes to the death penalty statute. 

If Florida’s law were amended to require a unanimous vote from juries before capital punishment could even be recommended to a judge, serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Aileen Wuornos and other murderers would not have met the fate they deserved for their actions.  The death penalty is a deterrent to would-be murderers.  We don’t need to fix something that is not broken.  As Governor, protecting the safety of Floridians will be my first priority.

Oh, I think we will here that one on the campaign trail many, many times in the months ahead.

The part I will remember? WE DON"T NEED TO FIX SOMETHING THAT IS NOT BROKEN.

So, what is broken you ask? How about a taxpayers bill of rights. We don't have one and we need one to curb spending growth in the years to come.

How about tort reform? That is definitely broken and small business is paying the tab.

How about the class size initiative? That was wrongheaded from the beginning and is going to bankrupt our educational system quickly.

How about property rights protection? Eminent Domain issues are popping up all over the state and the state is sticking it's head in the sand.

Let's talk about the things that are broken and start figuring out how to solve those. I'll supply the first solution - get government out of the way.

More government is not the answer.

November 03, 2005

FL: Floridians’ Property Rights Need Added Protection

By J.B. Ruhl

We Americans love our private property rights, even if most of us would be hard-
pressed to explain exactly what they are.  Nonetheless, until recently we were sure of one
thing: The government couldn’t take land from one private citizen and give it to another
in the hope that the latter’s use would yield more tax revenue or more jobs.

Granted, with fair compensation and due process, the government could take
private land for public uses such as roads. But to take land from one person and give it to
another?  No way!

Continue reading "FL: Floridians’ Property Rights Need Added Protection" »

November 02, 2005

FL: Glenda Hood Resigns

For Florida politico's I think this is the news of the day. (Via FLA Politics)

Florida Secratary of State Glenda Hood has resigned. Speculation is she interested in seeking another elective office.

...sources also said Hood, a loyal Republican, has expressed interest in again seeking elected office, and they speculated that her options could include a spot as lieutenant governor on the gubernatorial tickets of either Attorney General Charlie Crist or Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher or perhaps running against incumbent Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a Democrat viewed as vulnerable.

Lt. Governor - Good idea. Following in the footsteps of Toni Jennings, maintaining a female in the top levels of power, challenging democrats for the female vote. Voters are already accustomed to this so it's not a stretch. Strategically her positives would help Crist's image more that Gallagher so I would expect him to be making strong advances behind the scenes, that is unless he has already decided to put Judge Greer on the ticket. I hear they get along.

Orlando Mayor - Another good idea. Growing city, with problems to solve, and strong political base to launch future political campaigns. The first step toward the Governors mansion in eight years? Maybe.

And this is complete speculation, but let me throw this out there too, just in case - If she has been convinced she can compete with Katherine Harris for US Senate, and that's the reason for her sudden departure, she has sadly been misguided.

Let's hope she shows up on a ticket for Lt. Governor.

FL: Wilma good for GOP Gov. candidates?

This article from the AP in today's Democrat makes the case that Wilma is good for boosting the image of Gallagher and Crist in the upcoming Governors race. Being on TV, visiting neighborhoods, filing lawsuits and such.

That's all well and good, but if they don't DO anything then what does it matter?

Ultimately, if the only thing that happens is Crist files some lawsuits against price gougers and Gallagher ensures quick insurance payouts I think the edge will go to Gallagher. Plus, payouts will be taking place for the next year or longer. Nobody keeps track of price gouging lawsuits.

If I was Gallagher I would think about visiting South Florida every week to update locals on payouts and the process.

October 31, 2005

FL: Another gem of an idea!

Where does Derek Newton come up with all these fantastic ideas? I think the GOP should put Derek in charge. If the Fl Dems actually did anything this guy suggested the GOP would have total domination across the state!

Oh, wait. We already have that.

October 27, 2005

FL: Real Leadership on display

Real leaders step up and take the mantle of leadership, assume responsibilty for others failures, and fix the problem. Good job Governor Bush.

Ditto to Craig Fugate, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

October 18, 2005

All three of 'em

That's the headline over at Fl Politics about this story profiling black Republicans who support President Bush. I don't think belittling blacks who you disagree is the way to win the hearts and minds of those watching.

I doubt he did it on purpose. I know he is not a hateful person. A fine democratic operative. And I know as a liberal Fl Politics would do anything he could to win the black vote.

But, I think it comes across as a subtle reminder to other blacks, "don't leave our party, you'll get no love when you're gone." My point is, you get no love while your in it either.

By the way, I prefer the term black as opposed to African-American when describing black peoples who are actually born in America. How do you feel? Do you think the headline over at Fl Politics is symptomatic of a larger problem within the democratic party, or is it much ado about nothing?

FL: Florida dems missed the memo

Butterworth endorses Smith.

The Fl democratic nomination for governor is Davis' to lose. So far, Davis is doing a good job of just that.

FL: Dem leader to the people - "get to work"

Democrats urged to get to work.

They better.

October 15, 2005

Pollution with intent and why it's not even the issue

A big row has been building in Tallahassee, FL about a proposed coal powered electricity generating plant. I have to admit, I haven't really been following the whole thing because I support it. Basic economics dictate that when supply goes up, price goes down.

Coal plant = more electricity = lower energy bills. I support lower bills. I don't know many people who don't support lower bills.

And then I read this today (emphasis added). Try to follow me,

Both sides in the coal-plant debate are stepping up their efforts to reach black voters with their messages.

What message?

The city held a forum earlier this week at Pineview Elementary School in southwest Tallahassee and will hold another next Tuesday at Bethel AME Church. City Commissioner Andrew Gillum co-hosted the forum.

What message?

Opponents invited Felicia Davis of Atlanta, co-author of a report examining how the health of black communities is affected by coal plants, to speak at a forum Thursday. She also met with Gillum and black civil-rights leaders.

Opponents of what? The message?

"If anyone thought the black community was low-hanging fruit and asleep on this, I think they are going to have a wake-up call," Davis told the Tallahassee Democrat. "From what I see, they are real advocates and champions and knowledgeable people."

Knowledgeable about what? Fruitopia? Are we still talking about a message or have we changed topics now?

City officials said they aren't specifically targeting black communities, as some opponents contend. They said they're telling groups across the city that the coal plant is needed to hold down utility bills, which took a big jump this month because of the rising cost of making electricity with natural gas.

I thought we were targeting black voters? Didn't we cover this in the lead paragraph? Why are we targeting them again?

Mail-in ballots will be sent Oct. 28 to voters to decide whether the city should buy a 20-percent stake in an 800-megawatt, coal-fired power plant proposed for Taylor County.

OH, I see. they want to spend more money. Why didn't they just say that to begin with?

Tallahassee receives 95 percent of its electricity from natural gas and oil. City officials also say the plant will be built with or without Tallahassee and that participating in the project will help ensure that it uses the most modern pollution controls.

Built "with or without Tallahassee?" More electricity = lower monthly power bills? Then tell me again why they want more money? To buy what? For what benefit?,

City spokeswoman Michelle Bono said the city is discussing pollution and health issues related to the plant.

Wait a minute. Pollution? I thought we were talking about buying something?

Davis' report, "Air of Injustice: African Americans and Power Plant Pollution," found that 71 percent of blacks nationwide live in counties that violate air-pollution standards compared with 58 percent of whites.

Just where the hell is this thing we are buying?  Why are national statistics important here?

Davis is a veteran civil-rights activist who joined the environmental movement in 2000. She co-authored the study with Martha H. Keating, an air-toxics scientist who had worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Good for them. Tell me again why this matters?

The report was published by the Black Leadership Forum, Clear the Air, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda and the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice.

So what?

Issued in 2002, the report also stated that 68 percent of blacks live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant compared with 56 percent of the white population.

Yet, somehow, data which was at least two years old when they printed it is still relevant 3 years after publication? I thought we were buying something? Can we get back to that?

The report also suggests that blacks are more susceptible to pollution from power plants than whites. They suffer higher rates of asthma and higher infant-mortality rates. They have higher exposure to mercury because they eat fish more often and in larger quantities.

I don't even want to go there. OK, I will. Does this mean blacks eat too much? Or that they eat the wrong foods? What if whites ate more fish? Would everything be ok if whites and blacks had similar infant mortality rates or should we be telling blacks to quit eating fish? Don't fish have protein? I thought it was better than chicken and beef.  Especially with that Bird Flu and Mad Cow going around, who wants to eat that stuff anymore. .. I digress.

Davis, who represents the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, said she is concerned that residents are hearing only about electricity costs rather than health concerns, conservation and energy alternatives.

I know we are like 14 para's into this story, but here's a news flash - They are hearing about cost's, because that's how it will affect them. They aren't hearing about the other things because 1) their health is not in danger, the plant will  be built two counties over, and 2) there are no alternatives. It 's going to be built, end of story.

"Since we suffer bad things more, and particularly asthma, which is impacted by this (power plant), I thought I should come here and point that out," Davis said.

I'm sorry. It wasn't the end of the story. Apparently blacks are going to suffer anyway because it's a natural occurence for them. Somebody is going to suffer, and blacks will do it more... according to Davis.

Mayor John Marks told the forum audience of about 60 at Philadelphia Primitive Baptist Church on Thursday that he agrees with the report. And he said the new plant will exceed federal pollution standards - as the report recommends.

So, no pollution then? What was all that other crap about?

"I want to be at the table to ensure its design, construction and operation are consistent or will exceed (federal) standards," he said. "That's why I want to be there."

So, wait, there will be pollution? And we aren't buying anything, just making sure you represent us during the design and construction phase? Are you qualified to do that? Did you build coal powered generating plants before you became mayor? Did you..... oh, nevermind.

There's more, but it's just BS. I'm not sure if you really get what is happenening so let me clarify. According to this article this is what we know...

  • A power plant is being built. No matter what happens, this coal powered plant is being built.
  • Tallahassee has an opportunity to buy a 20% stake ownership, which will apparently give the City the right to oversee building and operational guidelines.
  • Opponents of coal generated power have decided to push the "pollution health effect" angle to black voters in Tallahassee.
  • Supposedly blacks are more likely to fall victim to pollution from coal powered plants. I guess the fumes and smoke from the plant somehow seek out black people two counties away. I have a chemistry degree, but I think I missed class the day we talked about pollution with intent. Maybe it's just us conservatives with the power to imbibe pollution with intent. I'm not sure.
  • Opponents of coal generated power are angry the city has decided to host a series of forums  in black churches and community organizations where they are saying residents are going to see a reduction in monthly utility bills, instead of informing them about pollution with intent.

But here's the real deal....

  • A power plant is being built. No matter what happens, this coal powered plant is being built.
  • The plant will exceed federal pollution standards. Even if we do nothing, it will exceed those standards.
  • The City of Tallahassee sees an opportunity to build their power base (both literally and figuratively) but they need voter approval to buy into the plant.
  • I guess they thought they would bring in some "experts" to scare the black population into believing construction of a coal power plant would be bad for their health, and if they would vote yes and approve the city buying in, then the mayor would "ensure its design, construction and operation are consistent or will exceed (federal) standards," so he could protect us... well, the black people anyway.
  • Somehow this has morphed into a referendum on the plant construction, which doesn't make sense, because they are going to build it anyway, and it will meet federal standards no matter what, and did I mention, it's in Taylor county, like two counties over from Leon!

Why do politicians feel like they need to fool the voters to get what they want? They want more power. They want more money. They want more control over how you run your life.

I think I am going to vote against it now, just to stick it to the man real good. In the end, we're going to get it anyway, and that's what I want, so what's the difference?

Mr. C

October 06, 2005

FL: Commissioner of Agriculture Race

Friends of mine will tell you I saw this coming. On the heels of this news how long do you think until Rod Smith jumps to the AG race? That is still a long shot, but when you sense an opportunity, then an opportunity exists and it's only so long before someone jumps in to take advantage of it. Copeland has jumped into the Ag Commish race. If Smith doesn't jump into the AG race soon Negron may run away with all the money. Take a look at the matchups.

Governor
Gallagher or Crist vs. Davis or Smith

Attorney General
UPDATE: Bill McCollum or Negron or Rice vs. Rod Smith (Still Candidate for Gov.)

CFO
Tom Lee vs. Alex Sink

Ag Commish
Bronson vs. Eric Copeland

When you see it laid out like that it seems to make so much sense. You can bet I will be following these races with interest. Now lets figure out the game plan. Anyone care to comment?

UPDATE: OK, now that McCollum has announced his intentions for AG, take out Rod Smith's name.

Does it seem strange to have one DEM candidate in each race except AG, which now has three GOP? Does it seem a little top heavy? The laws of physics require a DEM candidate in the AG race. Does it seem twice as strange when you think about how perfect a candidate Smith would be for AG?

How long until Rice drops out of the AG race? I will give him until Thanksgiving. By then he should realize he can't compete with Negron and McCollum in the fundraising dept. and for one of the other two to get his endorsment. Nice guy, but he is the victim of circumstance this year.

FL: Support for Tom Gallagher beginning to make waves

Radio waves that is. Maybe they read this recent piece on PEER Review?

Conservative Education Network, a 527 formed this summer by Geoffrey Becker, Slater Bayliss, and Katie Johnson, began running Gallagher support ads on his job creation and tort reform record.

   "Now is the time to start talking about what you want to do as governor," Becker said.

Response?

"So three lobbyists and a Florida Bar functionary woke up one morning and said, "I'm worried about job formation in Florida?' " [J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich, a Crist supporter, lobbyist and GOP strategist] said. "I think they're interested in electing Tom Gallagher, and I think this is the opening shot in which what will be a long and dirty 527 expenditure campaign being waged by the Gallagher folks."

Sounds to me like someone got caught sleeping. Time to wake up people... The campaign has begun! Let's do what we can to elect the best Republican candidate between the two. Get involved, read up, see who supports them. Make a choice.

Drilling for oil in the gulf

If there is one thing you can expect from me it will be honesty. So let me begin by telling you I think Florida should allow oil production off the coast. Every thing I have read about the subject calls for  drilling 100 miles or more off the coast. 100 miles is a long way. Too far to see. Too far, I suspect, to impact the coastline. But not too far to impact job creation, economic growth, the Florida budget and revenue streams.

But honestly, if I were advising Jeb (and nobody really advises Jeb to do anything) I would advise him to fight drilling of the coast tooth and nail as long as he were in office. So if this angle is true, from a strategic point of view, I have no idea why Jeb would reverse his position to support drilling for oil in the Gulf. I suspect he hasn't, and liberals have just decided to go after him on something. But if he has, I don't know why. (Via Fl Politics)

Lots of stories over at Sayfie Review. Post, Times-Union and Herald cover all the details and bias.

Every elected official from Florida, past, present and future, opposes drilling off the Florida coastline. If drilling is allowed to proceed because of Jeb's direct approval and manuevers, then that will be Jeb's legacy. Not education, not reduction of government, not reduction of taxes. History will remember him as the Governor that allowed oil rigs to park off the Florida coastline.

And if he is considering running for Senate or President, he just gave the opposition a huge issue to run on.

October 03, 2005

FL: Harris, Gallagher and Crist

This morning President Bush named Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day on the US Supreme Court. She is not a judge. A lawyer, sure. A judge, no. As far as I know her only political experience is Dallas, TX City Council. I tell you, America is truly an amazing place.

UPDATE: Reaction on the blogs is not good. See Michelle Malkin for a roundup.

For all of you political strategist and consultants out there, just think of how you consider city councils and county commissions as the minor leagues, single A ball. The candidate you turned down because the race wasn't big enough, could one day be nominated to the Supreme Court. That young, first time candidate who doesn't know yet what he's getting into, you turned him away for not being "serious" enough. It happens all the time.

This segues nicely into some thoughts on local candidates, the race for governor and future elections.

Continue reading "FL: Harris, Gallagher and Crist" »

September 30, 2005

FL, US: Jeb Bush has political courage

Today in the Washington Post (Via Sayfie Review),

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Americans are looking to their leaders for answers to the tragedy and reassurances that the mistakes made in the response will not be repeated in their own communities. Congressional hearings on the successes and failures of the relief effort are underway.

As the governor of a state that has been hit by seven hurricanes and two tropical storms in the past 13 months, I can say with certainty that federalizing emergency response to catastrophic events would be a disaster as bad as Hurricane Katrina. (emphasis mine)

The bolded part is called political courage. Sure, his mistrust of government is well known. Yeah, to you and me, not to the readers of the Washington Post.

Think of how dramatic it is for a Governor of one of the largest states in the union, the fastest growing large state in the country, a Republican his last term, three years out from the presidential election, with his brother currently holding the seat and trying to accomplish what he just said would certainly be a disaster. Is that presidential leadership or what? If I didn't know better I would say he just called his brother out to the front yard for a "discussion," the type that can only be held outside.

But for this federalist system to work, all must understand, accept and be willing to fulfill their responsibilities. The federal government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are valuable partners in this coordinated effort. FEMA's role is to provide federal resources and develop expertise on such issues as organizing mass temporary housing. FEMA should not be responsible for manpower or a first response -- federal efforts should serve as a supplement to local and state efforts. (emphasis mine)

 

That, my friends, is the GOP message. Why aren't they screaming it instead of telling people, "We have won, there is no more fat to cut from the budget." Why won't this guy run for President?

Oh, and I love how he signed this piece,

The writer, a Republican, is governor of Florida.

Republican first, Governor second.
Service first, power second. The way it should be.

FL: Jeb signalling intentions?

Why make