Custom Search

Friday, October 29, 2010

Once Again, Why Meek Must Continue On

Based on the reporting being done all over the state and in Washington, D.C., it now seems apparent to me that Bill Clinton did at least broach the topic of Meek dropping out, and that Meek absolutely will not do it.

I have spent much of the last six months trying to tell progressives why they should vote for Meek and ignore Charlie Crist. I don't think I have been nearly successful enough in that endeavor, but it is clear to me now the major focus needs to be on the Democratic establishment demonstrating its support for Meek. I will lay out my reasoning below.

1. Kendrick Meek is the qualified nominee. He won a difficult and sometimes uncertain primary against Jeff Greene, and a lot of supporters weathered some heavy criticism at the time. The battle was viewed by many, including myself, felt the credibility of all Florida Democrats was on the line. The better candidate won out, and he has an obligation to carry the standard through election day.

2. This will hurt the entire party with black voters. I have argued in recent days how frustrating it is to see national Democrats rally around the very fresh-faced Scott McAdams in a three-way race in Alaska. It has occurred to me, probably wrongly, that the "demographic appeal" of one of those men may be playing into the choices. Most low-info voters don't follow all the national blogs, but I guarantee it will suppress black turnout in Florida if Democratic leaders turn their back on the first credible candidate for the Senate from Florida since reconstruction. Now, I am by no means saying, as Smooth Like Remy once said of a Kos interpretation, that "the only use Democrats have for Meek is to get the n--- out to vote for Alex Sink." Far from it. But betraying the entire African-American community in Florida isn't good for the Democrats short-term or long-term.

3. Coattails. Some may argue that with Meek polling at 15 that this doesn't matter much. But the Senate race is the TOP item on the ballot this year. There are voters who come out specifically for Meek, and almost all of them are likely to vote for Democrats in every other state office. That doesn't just include the highly-important governor's race, but races for Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer. There are also six or seven vital Congressional races in Florida this year where turnout is going to be what determines if we win or lose. And for goodness sake, if the DCCC is reserving ad time for Allen Boyd right now, national Democrats can at least pretend they want a Democrat running for Senate to win this race. That will help Boyd too.

4. This is an offense race for us. With all the hyperbole about how awful it would be for Rubio to be the next Senator, we tend to forget this is a seat the Republicans are defending. This isn't like races in West Virginia or Illinois where seats held today by Democrats are at risk of flipping to the other side. If you don't think Meek can win this race, just focus on another race then. Don't sabotage an outstanding, progressive Congressman's political career by throwing him under a political bus to make way for a value-less, disloyal hack like Charlie Crist.

5. When this whole fiasco got underway in April, I did suspect Crist could win, but he blew it by going exclusively for the left-wing vote. He was running like a Democrat, but was too cowardly to jump into the Democratic primary. That is what has all but won Marco Rubio this Senate seat. Rewarding that sort of behavior is not the way to set up a future where Democrats are taken seriously by Florida voters.

I'm under no delusions right now. I am casting my vote for Kendrick Meek because it is the right thing to do, not because I still believe he can win. I do think he could have taken this race if not for the meddling of Charlie Crist.

I'd Sure Like to Know What's Going On

Varied reports out there are saying different things on Kendrick Meek. All seem to agree Bill Clinton asked him to drop out.

13 News says Meek is still in it. Politico seems to think things are more on the verge than that.

But without Meek on the ballot, I will leave this race blank. Update: Rereading this, I want to make something clear. Meek cannot actually be removed from the ballot. Should he formally drop out, votes for him would simply be cast aside, and I think it is actually too late for him to formally drop out. I will fill in the bubble for Meek no matter what happens at this point.

I don't respect Crist enough to cast my vote for him, and I disagree with Marco Rubio on virtually everything.

My greatest concern if Meek was to drop out would be the effect on other races. I would expect someone with Clinton's savvy to consider that. Will this damage Alex Sink's chances? How about Gelber or Maddox or Ausley? I don't expect everyone to win, but all of these races are competitive. And that's saying nothing about what effect this could have on critical races like the Grayson, Kosmas or Boyd contests.

I am fed up right now with national Democrats screwing around with this race. Charlie Crist cannot win this race. Perhaps there was a way once, but he gave up on that the minute he decided to run as a liberal but forsake jumping into the Democratic primary.

I'm not kidding myself right now. I am not holding my breath waiting for this race to turn so overwhelmingly in Meek's direction to believe he can win. But Crist is not the alternative here. Not for me. Not for the Democratic Party as a whole. And if we lose the entire slate of major races this year at a time when the Republican party is in total disarray, that will just be a crime on the part of national Dems from Bill Clinton to Markos Moulitsas.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't Lecture Us On Cheating, You Fraud!

Entirely too much ink is being spilled about a passed note in the CNN debate. I find it ironic someone who tends to answer questions by taking the Fifth could get the upper hand on this ridiculous discussion.

If you haven't heard, a staffer sent Alex Sink a message during her debate. That was against the rules. Sink fired the staffer, Brian May, for sending it. And Rick Scott has spent a couple days thumping Sink for cheating.

So what did the note say? The reported text was "The attorney who won the Sykes suit said alex sink did nothing wrong. Tell not to let him keep talking about her."

That was because Scott was distorting Sink's private sector record by attacking Sykes Enterprises. That is part of the whole bad investment mess which Republicans are using to hammer Sink, but the note from May is true. The problems with that case were not Sink's fault, nor her responsibility. And they were small potatoes compared to the massive fraud conducted by HCA under Scott's watch.

And what would passing notes do? Theoretically, it could let a candidate have an upper hand because staff was conducting research on the side. But this matter never came up in the debate again after Sink received this illicit note. It's like looking at your neighbor's test but not using any of his answers. Is that cheating? Receiving a text message but not leveraging any advantage from that?

This is nonsense and straight-up political hay. Of all the substantive issues discussed in the debate, of all the important matters facing Florida today and of all the relevant parts of these candidates' personal histories, this is the issue gripping Florida's political press less than a week before the end of the campaign.

Straighten up, Florida. Learn something important. When Alex Sink is governor, I hope she relies on detailed research and facts, and I hope she utilizes a hard-working staff to full effect. If Scott wins, maybe we can expect him not to rely on any help and just exercise his best personal judgement. And we all know how well that has worked out for him before.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Take on Florida's Constitutional Amendments

Some people have asked me to explain and offer an opinion on the Constitutional Amendments which appear on Florida's statewide ballot this year. And being so full of myself, I decided to go ahead and proclaim which measures should pass and which should go down.

As I have done before, this post is an index post, a table of contents if you will. The links below go to posts on Rantings From Florida which fully explain my positions on the issues. I hope all of you informed readers will follow each link. Maybe you will agree with me, and go vote just as I tell you. This will provide me with delusions of grandeur beyond imagination. Or maybe you will think I am crazy, leave a nasty comment and deflate my self worth. That's fine too.

Either way, enjoy.

Public Financing is Not a Bad Thing

It's funny to see an amendment on repealing public financing appear on Florida's ballot just as public financing becomes such a hot issue. For me, the terrible prospect of Rick Scott becoming governor shows problem enough with letting elections go to the highest bidder. But there are plenty of places in America where public financing is celebrated, not denigrated.

There are issues, of course, and if the courts ultimately put an end to this, then so be it. But people running for office ought to have the public's interest as their top priority. This would do that. A system where the success of a candidate depends directly upon the financial support they can rally from outside parties who stand to gain from the actions of public officials is a system with the possibility of corruption built in from the start.

And people can come around on public financing. Just ask Bill McCollum. But he's dead to me now. I wonder if he now thinks it was right that his message could be drowned out by Rick Scott's millions.

But as much as I hate Scott, the truth is that Florida's most important political offices today are only attainable for the elite. You can make millions in the private sector, like Scott or Alex Sink, or you can build political power, as all three major Senate candidates this year have done. Not to go all teabagger on this, but there is a problem when the general public is so far removed from the political process.

Public financing has a cost, and I realize some have a problem with tax money being spent on people's personal ambitions. But then, we pay elected officials with public dollars, and I have always been glad for it. If the taxpayers aren't writing the checks, someone else will.

I don't want to repeal public financing. I am voting against Amendment 1.

More Inequity with Amendment 2

There are so many inequities in Florida's tax structure as it is. For the life in me, I cannot figure out why we would want another. But that is what Amendment 2 would create. This one is wrapped up in fuzzy patriotism, but it is a genuine crime that this would even be considered at a time when tax revenues are on such a decline.

The measure would provide an additional homestead exemption for military personnel. Here is the thing, though. Florida is already one of the most popular places for active and military to call home because we don't have a personal income tax. I am not saying we should have an income tax, or that I don't appreciate the sacrifice soldiers make to our country. But when we are talking about offering tax breaks, it should be as an incentive to attract people to contribute more to our economy. This does not do that.

Florida has a ton of military people stationed in Florida. Those people, about 25,000 according to the News-Herald, stand to gain greatly from this measure. But the state would suffer to the tune of $14.9 million.

Unfortunately, this amendment has seen no organized opposition, and was put on the ballot through a unanimous vote of the Legislature. Even in times when state programs are being cut because of revenue shortages, a patriotic give-away seemed in order.

Florida in recent years has doubled the homestead exemption already in place through a giveaway pushed by Charlie Crist. It now cuts a break for people adding on to their homes to care for a parent, never mind that the parent provides added burden on local infrastructure. tax cuts always have political support because it puts money in people's pocket. I have never seen Floridians vote down a tax exemption.

But they should vote this down. I am voting against Amendment 2.

Amendment 4 is Overkill, Not Democracy

I know I will piss off many of my progressive friends with this one, but the Hometown Democracy is not a good idea, and I am voting against it.

I know as well as anyone the problems urban sprawl can create. I grew up in Central Florida, and have covered county and municipal governments across the state. I recognize the unholy alliance which can exist between big developers and donation-hungry officials fighting to keep their small time jobs in big media markets. But this amendment would stop good growth along with bad, and it would probably stick us with bad decisions of the past which still have the potential to be reversed.

For the uninitiated, the Hometown Democracy referendum would require that all comprehensive plan changes approved by local officials also go out to a vote from the people. The vote could happen during a regularly scheduled election, or it could be put on a special election ballot, likely funded by the developer.

Activist Lesley Blackner has been working for years to get this on the ballot. Her story is classic NIMBY but her goals were always noble. She wanted to stop those big, bad developers from paving over Florida's paradise to make a quick buck, and she worried intervening in hundreds of municipal elections was an insurmountable task.

But this proposal is straight-up overkill. And I am afraid its desired effects would not be the end result. Consider, should a special election on a sprawling subdivision be held, who will fund the better campaign? The rich developer with millions already invested in a project? Or the local chapter of the Sierra Club?

To use an example dear to my heart, developer Gary Morse has done tremendous damage to Central Florida with creation of The Villages, an enormous mess that now spans three counties. I don't like what it has done to the area I consider home. He got way too much approved by buying the souls of County Commissioners. And when the officials in one county got fed up, he went to another and started buying officials there. Sometimes, officials would get fed up, and Morse would just fund an opponent to take them out next election. He also owns state leaders in both parties, so no resistance was provided in Tallahassee either.

But what would have happened if the needed comp plan amendments had gone to ballot? He would have launched a massive media, promoted his own point of view in the newspaper his own company publishes, convinced people living in the area that growing the community was best, send out his own employees to vote for the change, and he would win, the same way he wins county elections when he wants. None of this is illegal, even if it all seems unsavory. The Villages would be built anyway.

Now think of a smaller development, perhaps a redevelopment effort which looks to take a blighted area which wasn't planned to last. Changes may need to be made to allow commercial development in areas designated today for sprawling residential growth. Would it pass? Probably, but there would be no glossy campaigns to ensure it. And if even a small part of the plan was controversial, it may not. Because of the uncertainty, most developers wouldn't even try. Instead, slumlords would sell to other slumlords, who would build with existing conditions, and the cycle would go on and on.

We don't need a disincentive to job creation right now. We don't need a hindrance to positive development ever. The system will never be completely free of corruption. Amendment 4 sure wouldn't eliminate it. But it could eliminate a ton of economic prosperity for a lot of hard-working people.

Fair Districts a Good Idea. Hope It Works

There is no process I have ever witnessed in a decade of covering government which better demonstrates the old sausage-making metaphor that the outwardly corrupt reapportionment process. This is one of those exercises so painfully bureaucratic that few voters even realize it is going on, and then one day show up at a poll and say "but I thought I was in so-and-so's district."

That is why I support Amendments 5 and 6. Not because I think they will work. I fear they will do very little. But something needs to be done, and it needs to happen before the redistricting process begins in 2012.

The amendments basically say that when the state Legislature convenes to redraw district lines for themselves and for Florida's Congressional delegation, the lines cannot be drawn to favor an incumbent political party. Amendment 5 affects state House and Senate lines. Amendment 6 covers the Congress.

Now, I have my questions about the effectiveness of this. The full text of the amendments do not detail any enforcement of the law. Basically, that is up to the courts. Of course, judges already can, and have, called for district lines to be redrawn. The snake-like district which Corrine Brown holds was drawn one way by the Legislature in 1992 and then tossed by a judge later. It still is one of the most clearly racially-gerrymandered districts in the country, but at least you can drive from end to end.

That district and others were the product of an unholy alliance back then between state Republicans and the NAACP which helped create districts where black Congressman could reliably get elected and portion many Democratic voters out of districts which Republicans wanted to win. But the NAACP supports 5 and 6 now, probably because of some language intended to make sure minority voters are not disenfranchised.

At least the ends of racial gerrymandering in the past were noble, even if the means were unsettling. When I watched the 2002 redistricting process play out, it was amazing to me just how brazenly political the entire affair became. Tom Feeney, then the state Speaker of the House, had his members draw him a bizarre-shaped district which had an odd satellite poking out to the west in order to include his Oviedo power base. State Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who headed up the redistricting committee in the House, created a Cuban-heavy district in South Florida that allowed him to move to Washington and hang out with his brother Lincoln. Katherine Harris, who was Secretary of State during a somewhat controversial vote recount, had a district hand-drawn for her as well.

The most atrocious example to me, though, was when state Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite, Diaz-Balart's counter-part in the Senate, redrew the seat of a sitting Congresswoman so that it leaned Republican. Rep. Karen Thurman ended up losing the election is hard-fought contest which I covered. Now, both Brown-Waite and Thurman are legislators for whom I hold respect, but that race came down to the lines being rigged against the incumbent. That isn't democracy at work. It is politicking at its worst. Brown-Waite's big defense was that the district had just been hand-drawn for Thurman was Thurman was in the state Senate 10 years prior. The only reason that defense isn't deplorable is that it is 100-percent true.

But then, that is just more evidence the process is riddled with problems. Historically, the legislators who chair the committees on reapportionment have ended up with hand-drawn seats in Congress. That is true whether Republicans are running Tallahassee or if the Democrats are in power.

So can these amendments make the reapportionment process apolitical? I doubt it, but it offers one more check against corruption, and that can't be a bad thing.

Amendment 8 Will Hurt Class Sizes

Back when the original class-size amendment was on the ballot in 2002, then-Gov. Jeb Bush told us there would be devastating financial consequences should the measure pass. He said repeatedly that it would "block out the sun." Somehow, after eight years of smaller classes, that hasn't happened.

But it still has caused plenty anxiety among state lawmakers and school district administrators. I know few people in executive capacities with public schools who have been crazy about the requirement to keep classes small. But somehow the people inside the classrooms, teachers, have always remained pretty vocal about their support.

As a matter of disclosure, I should say my family has more public school teachers in it than many elementary schools, so I do not come at this without any biases. I do realize that the main reason teachers' unions like this amendment is that it makes it harder for people to fire teachers. The haters will say that protects bad teachers, but trust me, there are plenty of other flaws within the system to do that. Rather, what the class-size amendment does is to stop as many teachers from being laid off because of budget cuts.

The reason Amendment 8, which would allow districts to calculate class-size far more loosely, is coming up right now is because administrators would like the freedom to cut more decent teachers. With falling property values, a stoppage in growth and an unwillingness on the part of elected officials to raise taxes, it has become very hard to keep a school properly staffed. This amendment would mean schools would not need to do that.

Ironically, the thing that has made the running of schools most difficult is the policies of Bush and Republican cronies in Tallahassee. Bush did a lot to raise accountability in schools, but he also imposed a focus on testing that severely dampened the chances a student will graduate with a dynamic and inspiring education. Keeping classes small at least allows teachers the ability to cover the required curriculum and still have the time to offer any individual attention which particular students might need.

To me, that is a very bad idea, and goes against the spirit of the original class-size amendment passed by voters in 2002. If anything, we needed size limits more stringently enforced. I am voting against Amendment 8.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bill McCollum is Dead to Me

I have defended him, to loved ones in private and to the blogosphere online. But right now, Bill McCollum is dead to me. He has done the unthinkable and betrayed Florida to the enemy,

Our state needs conservative leaders who will grow our economy and create jobs. We need merit pay and an end to teacher tenure in our public schools, major litigation reform, smaller government, low taxes and a repeal of Obamacare... It’s the better choice for Florida.

I never expected McCollum to endorse Alex Sink, of course. But he had no obligation to chime in on behalf of this lunatic candidate. There is no decent reason to play the partisan for the executive branch. Immediately following the primary, he was talking about helping legislative candidates statewide. That seemed a fine and noble end for the politician.

Now he backed a man who he should be serving subpoenas.

This race isn't about ObamaCare. And Rick Scott isn't about small government. He is about corrupting the process.

I could understand McCollum backing down six years ago and endorsing Mel Martinez even after the soon-to-be Senator had called the "new darling of the homosexual extremists." That was for a Senate seat, and partisan caucusing matters in the Senate. This is crazy.

The worst Scott has been able to throw at Sink is that she didn't do enough to stop bad investments at the SBA, where, it should be noted, she was the Democrat in the minority. Who were the Republicans in the majority? Bill McCollum and Charlie Crist. He has countered the temerity of Scott's attacks on Sink before, but now stands with Scott.

I take back everything nice I ever said. Bill McCollum is dead to me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'd Rather Face Rivera Than a Random Thug

Hat tip to Markos on this Florida story noticed first at Daily Kos.

A lawsuit in South Florida right now seeks to get David Rivera tossed from the ballot. The more I think about it, the more concerned I am with this approach. My reasons are political, most notably that I think David Rivera makes a fantastic opponent for Democrats.

Here is the story via the Miami Herald:

The complaint, submitted in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, seeks to disqualify Rivera as a federal candidate based on financial disclosure forms Rivera filed while serving as state representative.

Lawyers for Miami attorney William Barzee and Garcia supporter Maria Teresa Pascual filed the suit and held a news conference at the downtown Miami civil courthouse Thursday morning. Garcia was not there, though two of his campaign staffers were organizing the event.

Read more:

This is all totally legit, and I wrote about it here last week. The problem I have is not that a lawsuit is being filed, but that the plaintiffs are seeking to kick Rivera off the ballot. I truly wish they would think the consequences of this out.

The most recent example of this happening was just days ago when a Tallahassee judge ordered Jim Norman's name off a ballot for State Senator in the Tampa area. The result is that the Hillsborough County Republicans are being asked to name a replacement candidate. Ballots are already printed, so being ordered "off the ballot" doesn't mean you are truly off the ballot. This mystery candidate, who may even be Norman himself, will not be chosen through a primary but by party leaders. And whoever the candidate may be, he or she is getting votes right now through early voting.

The same thing happened in 2006 when the Mark Foley scandal broke late. The disgraced Congressman resigned and withdrew from his re-election bid as emails hit the press regarding his vulgar flirtations with underage pages. As much fun as it would have been to run against Foley, Democrat Tim Mahoney's name appeared on the ballot beside Mark Foley's while everyone of Foley's votes were counted for party replacement Joe Negron. Ultimately, Mahoney won anyway, then lost after his own sex scandal two years later.

While all these examples involved Republican candidates, the problem isn't with the party but the process. It is totally undemocratic to count people's votes for a candidate who didn't go through the proper qualification process, endure the primaries if necessary and ultimately earn his place on the ballot. But that is the way state law works, putting party above democracy.

On a more superficial level, why would we want to give the Republican party the ability less than two weeks before an election to swap Rivera with a better candidate? Even national Republicans are conceding quietly to the press that they have a lousy candidate. The Democrats have a great one. This is a tough year, but we are in great position to win this seat.

But even though Rivera is a liar and a jerk, he will be made to look the victim here, just as Norman is being touted as a sympathetic character in Tampa right now. If, Lord help us, Rivera wins the election, take this lawsuit forward and nail the guy for getting through the process through crooked means. But as long as we're this far into the game, let's just enjoy the chance for a pickup in an R+6 district amid a Republican wave, and thank the GOP for the assist of a candidate with endless flaws.

Justice in Tampa? We Can Hope (but that's not enough)

I see a lot of hope in Florida blogs that Bill Young might be in trouble. I haven't written much about it because, frankly, I don't think he will get the boot this year. Charlie Justice is a good candidate, and in 206 or 2008, might have made a real race of this given the right resources. But at this moment, I don't believe any Republican congressmen in Florida will lose re-election.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't like for it to happen. In a sit-down with Creative Loafing, Justice makes a great case why the anti-incumbent wave gripping America should sweep up Young. But then, I also find it somewhat alarming how representatives are being punished in some places for bringing home the bacon. No surprise, the Tea Party has no problem with a Republican doing that.

For the Loaf:

"I hold a different view of public service," Justice said. "It's a sacrifice. It's called service for a reason. You aren't there to make a lot of money to pay back your contributors, and that's not what it's supposed to be about. That's what it has been about for [Young]."

Despite the widespread notion that the midterm elections Nov. 2 will prove bad for the party in power, Justice is confident that in the case of Young, voters will be looking for something different.

"Seventy percent hate their incumbent, and he certainly is an incumbent," Justice said. "He isn't going to go and change how government is done up there. He is the government up there."


The piece nicks Young his role in $128 million worth of earmarks this fiscal year alone, and notes that Justice, a well-likes state Senator, has about the best credentials of any challenger Young has faced in 40 years.

But it also ignores Florida voters are usually not so prone to dump incumbents. Not that it doesn't happen. Ric Keller and Tom Feeney were swept up in a wave two years ago. This year, Allen Boyd, Suzanne Kosmas and, dare I say it, Alan Grayson are having to fight for their lives. But if all three go down, it means there is a Republican wave this year. A few months ago, it looked like voters might simply be anxious to purge any incumbents. But it has become clear the only ones anxious for a human sacrifice are the right-wingers right now.

I hope Justice wins, but I have lot of doubts it can happen. We have better shots at pickups in two open seats this year: Fl-25, where Mario Diaz-Balart fled and Joe Garcia has a great shot at winning, and FL-12, where Adam Putnam is pursuing higher office and where Lori Edwards has an uphill battle but a real shot at winning.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Republicans Openly Advocate Killing Jobs

The ups and downs of election cycles can be emotional, but I am not so naive as to think every year or every race will go the way I'd like them to go. Right now, I am still more optimistic than many about Democrats' chances this year, but obviously this is a cycle where we are trying to manage our losses, not increase our victories.

But there is one argument I keep hearing which leaves me frustrated and confused about the state of discourse today: Obama's policies are killing jobs.

That link goes to a PolitiFact debunking of Rick Scott making such an argument, but what bother me goes beyond the specifics. This is a corruption of conservative philosophy, and a distortion of the truth. If you disagree with Obama's policies, fine. Don't like how Democrats govern, fine. Throw the bums out. But the lies are creating a confusion within the electorate, and distorting people's basic understanding of government hurts the nation in the long haul.

The most frustrating thing to me is saying the stimulus destroys jobs. It does not. It does exactly the opposite. Americans for Tax Reform disguises this lie with a fancy study here for anyone who thinks politicians are more careful with their words than that. But the billions being pumped into the economy by the stimulus are intended to do one thing: create work. Yes, it is questionable sometimes whether those jobs are needed, but the spending sure doesn't take any jobs away.

Ideally, this is creating roadwork jobs on highways that have been neglected for years, or construction jobs building libraries in places that have been under-served. This is why Democrats voted for the stimulus when Bush's best idea was giving money away to banks.

(Reminder: Bush did the bank bailouts. But that didn't kill jobs either. It saved them. Just for the wrong people.)

But, you say, what about the taxes to pay for this? Well, taking a page from Ronald Reagan, Obama and the Democrats decided to just spend without taxing. Is there folly to that? Perhaps. But is there folly in waging two wars while cutting taxes? At least those cuts are set to expire. Obama didn't do that either, by the way. It was by Bush's design.

What would kill jobs? Cutting government spending. We are seeing that now in the many local governments around the country, governments who cannot spend more than they have in tax coffers the way the federal government can do. We lose teachers, postal workers, park rangers and more when Republicans tout their version of fiscal conservatism.

Deficits? Never before have Republicans had a problem with running up a deficit during times of war, much less two wars both created from the bloodlust of neoconservatives hell-bent on world domination.

Obama hasn't raised taxes. Obama hasn't killed jobs. If anything is it Republicans, under the guise of shrinking wicked socialist government, who are promising to kill jobs should take control of Washington. That is what "cutting bureaucracy" means, firing bureaucrats so that tax rebates can be given to people who are already gainfully employed.

Is this hyperbole? Call it that if you will, but it is no more so than when Republicans lie and say the stimulus is killing jobs, or that Obama's policies have stopped anything. I personally believe he hasn't done near enough to create more jobs. If that makes me a socialist, because what says socialism more than encouraging job creation and empowering people to participate in the free market system, then I take that label freely.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

National Dems See Garcia's Promise

Some good news in the National Journal, where Major Garrett noted that national Dems see Joe Garcia's race in the 25th as one of the top five pickup opportunities in the country. Personally, I wish the DCCC had done more offense this year, but I am happy that this opportunity was taken seriously by the blue team in Washington.

From Garrett:
In Florida's 25th, Republicans are angry -- not at Washington, but at Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a first-generation Cuban-American. He fled this seat to run in the more compact and nominally more Cuban 21st District, creating an opening for former Miami-Dade County Democratic Chairman Joe Garcia, who lost to Diaz-Balart, 53 percent to 47 percent, in 2008. Garcia is running again and Republicans privately admit that their candidate, former state House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Rivera, though well-funded, is flawed. Republicans worry that higher turnout driven by races for governor and Senate will benefit the better-known Garcia. One Democratic poll in September had Garcia up by 7 points.

I am surprised in a way that the GOP hasn't fought harder for David Rivera, but they can probably sense as well as local news editors what a train wreck the man is as a candidate. Garrett is awfully kind to leave it at "flawed." Recent revelations he has lied about doing consultant work for a federal agency come after allegations of domestic abuse and bad real estate deals with Marco Rubio. And just for fun, he also makes lunatic allegations about Garcia being a henchman of Castro. This guy is too coo-coo for Tea Party puffs, and that's saying something.

In Florida, this is our top pickup opportunity, and we should take it. I would love it if Florida Democrats come November could defend all incumbents in Congress AND take away a seat hand-drawn for Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Cowardice).

Monday, October 18, 2010

They Like Me, But They're Racist

Does this seem like a crazy defense of an association with a group who call themselves "The Outlaws"? This is why I love, love, love Allen West. Despite being better at raising money than maybe any candidate in Florida, who still finds a way to lose this race without the Democrats raising a dime.

As a catch-up, Allen West caught flack from NBC for his connections to these Hell's Angels wannabes. In the past, he has praised the protection the group provides, and with all the campaign Gestapo-types, editorial boards and TARP monsters out to get him, Lord knows he needs protection. Wheels On The Road, a pro-Outlaw magazine, loudly promotes West on its internet homepage, and has carried a monthly column by West. He had been scheduled to headline a Wheels event Friday before all this blew up on national news. And regardless of any Outlaws connection, his archives at Wheels offer some tremendous, if predictable, insight into how men talk, cataloged here by the Sun-Sentinel.

But he tells Hotline that he couldn't be a member of the Outlaws. They won't have him.
In an interview with Hotline On Call West said flatly that the issue is a nonstarter because the club does "not accept blacks, Jews or gays" in their membership.

West, of course, if black. But I'm pretty sure he isn't Gay or Jewish. He has gone out of his way to make clear his views on those groups. So I'm not even sure why he tossed that in.

But I love that West is coming out, saying the people he has proudly ridden the highways with are a bunch of racists he wouldn't let him in their group anyway. I love that a group featured often in the same pages where is zany rants see ink are a group that wouldn't associate with him, even though they run his words, carry his banner ads, and celebrate his 19-year-old ass-slapping ways.

I hope this man runs every year. I bet Ron Klein does too.

Can Edwards Win It? Maybe

I sure hope Steve Singiser at Daily Kos is right about the 12th, but I have seen no signs. Right now, I feel like Lori Edwards is a decent candidate who hasn't made much of a splash and isn't raising the type of money to beat Dennis Ross for this seat. This is not a great environment for an under-funded Democrat to hold a seat held by the GOP for years.

But for the sake of hope, I will entertain. Here is Steve's argument:

Florida's 12th district, on paper, should be a hold for the GOP. Their candidate, former state legislator Dennis Ross, has outraised Democratic challenger Lori Edwards by a two-to-one margin in this R+6 district. But two things make this one interesting. For one thing, the district might be shifting noticeably. Florida moved a total of eight points in the Democratic direction between 2004 and 2008. But the 12th district's shift was even sharper, from a 16-point GOP margin in 2004 to just a single point in 2008. Furthermore, there is a wild card in the race: Polk County Commissioner and Tea Party candidate Randy Wilkinson. A poll taken over the summer by Dem pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner gave Edwards a shocking three-point edge, elevated by Wilkinson's ability to notch 20% of the vote. Given his lack of funds, that might be a bit optimistic, but if out for this one.

My biggest problem with that poll, and why I ignored it at the time, is that I don't really think teabaggers as a whole are interested in a third-party. They are really just Republican partisans with a new label.

But there could be a few other things working in Edwards' favor. Most notably, tight races for U.S. Senator and Governor will bolster Democratic turnout all through the I-4 corridor. While Polk County is relatively conservative, it sits in two big TV markets considered for eons to be the swing district where state elections are decided. Alex Sink, the Democrat running for governor, hails from Thonotosassa, a Hillsborough County community just over the Polk County line, and will do whatever she can to drive up turnout in the greater Tampa Bay area. Kendrick Meek's landmark candidacy, whether successful or not, should help boost black turnout statewide.

As Supervisor of Elections in Polk, she has name recognition with a big chunk of voters. And I have yet to here any real negatives cast at her, if only because the GOP isn't taking her as a serious threat right now. So good luck, Lori. I'd sure enjoy an upset this November, and do believe that if she can win this seat, she can hold it two years from now and for many cycles to come.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Are there Kosmas Polls We Don't See?

The news this week that the DCCC was pulling out of Florida's 24th was widely viewed as a sign that Suzanne Kosmas is toast. The move surprises me, because the race looks neck-and-neck from where I sit. That doesn't mean the conclusions are wrong. It just seems odd to me that the nationals would give up on Kosmas just when it felt like fighting time.

It makes me wonder if there are polls sitting in the DCCC offices to which we aren't privy. That's no surprise of course. Partisans tend to release polls with good news and sit on polls with bad news. But then, Sandy Adams hasn't exactly been issuing repeated polls showing a growing margin. Obviously, if things are tight, I'd rather save Alan Grayson myself, but then, I think we can still win both of these seats.

The last poll released by the NRCC, back on Sept. 28, put Adams 10 points ahead. But the day before,Kosmas put out a poll showing herself up by 7. Since then, its been silence from both camps. Unfortunately, House races don't get polled enough, so its hard to tell what to make of these polls. While internals are treated with skepticism because campaigns are reserved about what they release, candidates still need accurate information on where they stand.

Compare the data to a recent Sunshine State out of Florida's second which shows Steve Southerland trouncing incumbent Allen Boyd 56-30. Now even pessimists have questioned this poll, which gives a couple of also-ran candidates a combined 14 percent of the vote. But nobody in Democratic circles is yet talking about throwing in the towel in the Panhandle seat Boyd holds now.

Maybe it's because Boyd is a long-time incumbent and Kosmas is a freshmen. Maybe they figure Kosmas' seat was hand-drawn for Tom Feeney and we just got jucky two years ago when the Abramoff scandal swallowed Feeney whole. But this whole thing just seems odd.

The thing is, Sandy Adams has been the subject of much negative coverage since winning the GOP primary. Her extremist positions on the 17th amendment and a woman's right to choose make her prone to effective attack ads. When Florida Today endorsed Kosmas, they said Adams "lack of knowledge about NASA is appalling," something which matters a great deal in this space-happy district. And while we're talking endorsements, Kosmas snagged the support of the Republican-leaning Orlando Sentinel as well.

Rick Scott Would Ban Abortion!

Any doubt Rick Scott's election would have major consequences? Well, he is assuring Florida lawmakers that he will push and sign into law which would ban abortion. This law would obviously be an affront on Roe v. Wade, but coming from the fourth most populous state in the union, would likely make its way to the Supreme Court. Anyone wonder what a Roberts-led court would do with this one?

From the Orlando Sentinel:
An e-mail sent out by Rep. Charles Van Zant this week urges his supporters to vote for Scott because he personally promised to sign into law the “Florida Right to Life Act.” Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, added that “Scott pledged that he would assist in advancing the Florida for Life Act through both Florida’s House and Senate.”

Van Zant, a minister and an architect, added in his e-mail that he had a follow-up conversation with Scott about whether the Naples businessman would make abortion illegal in Florida: “He immediately said ‘Yes, that’s what I believe and that’s what I will do.’ He telephoned me last week to assure me that he would keep this issue before our state government,” Van Zant added.


All of Scott's campaign ads, of course, just stress that he is some donut shop-loving guy who would bring business sense to Tallahassee, and that Democrat Alex Sink is an Obama-loving politician who blew the pension fund while daring to like Obama.

But this shows he is quietly energizing the far right with the ultimate dog whistle. Imagine the pro-lifers in Florida right now, learning that their vote in a few weeks could be what overturns a woman's right to choose. Sure, Scott as a health care executive had no problem profiting off of abortion, but if he is willing to push through this ban, it could set into motion the greatest SoCon mission ever. If the wingers weren't energized before, this will do it.

Read the reporting by Gary Fineout and you see Scott has give an endorsement of the bill all the way down to banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest. The only exception the Van Zant bill makes is for when a woman's life is at risk, and then it requires multiple doctors to sign off on the abortion.

In the past, Van Zant has filed this legislation just to see it die, but he never had a governor pushing the bill before. Should this bill come to a floor vote, the Legislature will pass it. Earlier this year, they had no problem with passing an onerous bill requiring patients to watch an ultrasound of a fetus before having an abortion. That bill passed mostly so lawmakers could embarrass Charlie Crist with the right, but a majority of members in both houses of the Legislature passed it. And all signs are that incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos will be more conservative than their predecessors.

That is why this race is the most important race for Florida Democrats to win. Alex Sink would not only be the first female governor for the state of Florida, she would be the only think standing between a woman's right to choose and a conservative Supreme Court that has just been salivating for a strong challenge to established law on abortion.

Rick Scott isn't just crooked. He's crazy. And he must be stopped.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

David Who? Rivera is the Gift the Keeps Giving

David Rivera cannot tell the truth about anything. It's just incredible.

The newest in a slew of scandals from this alleged woman-beater come courtesy the Miami Herald, who called the agency which supposedly provided Mr. Rivera with his main source of income outside being a legislator. Their response?
``We do not have Mr. Rivera nor the corporations you referred to in our records,''

Read more:
The entity in question is the U.S. Agency for International Development. In Rivera's financials, he claimed USAID used his as a consultant, or something. When contacted, he said the discrepancy must have something to with his company Interamerican Government Relations, a firm which he is apparently unwilling to reveal very much information about at all.

My favorite part of this? Rivera's explanation is truly worse than the original lie. What he is saying is that he actually was working through a business he owned, but failed to disclose in his financial disclosures any time between 2003 and 2009. Even in the midst of a new scandal, he refuses to identify any of the principals in this Puerto Rican company he allegedly founded. Per the Herald's reporting, this company apparently exists, but there is no real information in public documents there. I can't find a website for Interamerican government relations, or even a supposed mission of this company, which is weird if it has anything to so with, say, interamerican government relations. I would expect a company doing international business in that field to be pretty wired in.

So his real source of income is actually a foreign company he founded but will reveal nothing about. And yes, this is the guy who called Democrat Joe Garcia a "henchman of Castro" on Spanish-language radio hoping no mainstream media would tune in.

Why didn't he disclose anything about this company he owns? Why did he lie about working for USAID, a federal government agency which indeed does have a website and which has to provide a lot of information to the public? Perhaps he makes less than $1,000 in income beyond the $30,000 he pulls in as a state legislator, which would explain how he and Marco Rubio ended up with a home going into foreclosure.

Joe Garcia must win this race. Rivera is just too easy pickings. This may be the Democrat's biggest pickup opportunity in the country, and is certainly the best shot at taking a seat in Florida. We just need to seal the deal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Can the NRA save Boyd?

I admit, it would be funny if we end up owing this Panhandle seat to the National Rifle Association. But gun control happens to be one of those issues I have never felt so concerned about. I felt their basic message in the past (Guns don't kill people, people kill people) had some sense to it. Some time ago, unfortunately, the NRA went well beyond gun control and started opposing murder control.

Still, the group understands the importance of keeping ties with Congressmen on both sides of the aisle, and they have endorsed Allen Boyd in Florida's 2nd. This is great news on its own, and as a bonus, the wingers at RedState are going crazy.

I realize a lot of progressives have never been excited about Boyd. Indeed, some prominent sites including FLAPolitics, where I often post diaries, publicly backed Al Lawson during the very close primary this year. I am sure Blue Dog positions such as Boyd's views on gun control played a big role.

But I always felt Boyd was the right candidate for this race. Like it or not, there are Congressional districts in this nation where liberal Democrats just can't win. It sounds cliche, but we still need a big tent. We shouldn't let Naderites or whatever the next left-wing version of the Tea Party turns out to be encourage us to throw out the Boyds with the bathwater.

Boyd isn't with us on tax cuts, but he eventually supported ObamaCare. He likes PAYGO, but also Cap-and-Trade. I wish he was stronger on responsible financial policy instead of holding so many pro-corporate positions, but he is much better than a Ben Nelson. And he is certainly better than Steve Southerland.

Polls right now show Boyd trailing the inexperienced gravedigger challenging his on behalf of the GOTea. I have trouble buying that Southerland is 16 ahead, but then I underestimated Lawson as well. Regardless, this is a tough race, and one where Democrats can't cower away because the candidate isn't with us 100 percent of the time.

The fact is, Boyd has supposedly been in trouble before, but always closed strong. He can win this race, and his support among conservative groups like the NRA could make a big difference. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and we shouldn't kick Boyd out of bed for eating some pro-gun cookies.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I'd Rather Lose to Rubio Than Win with Crist

As the sad reality of the polls sinks in for Meek supporters like myself, I realize many are pondering more seriously than ever whether they should jump ship and vote for Crist as the lesser of two evils. I cannot do so. Why? Three major reasons:

1. Rubio doesn't scare me.

2. Crist cannot be trusted.

3. Meek is still the best candidate in this race.

Now, the longer version.

For all the talk about the energy he has brought to politics, Marco Rubio is not a public official who inspires a broad group of voters. His world is one large tea party, and he only has a shot right now because of the odd dynamics of the race this year. I have seen one poll, and it was a Razzie so buyer beware, that showed Rubio at 50 percent, the normal threshold for a race. Since he is on course to win, it's easy to forget he is doing far more poorly in polls than either Alex Sink or Rick Scott in the governor's race.

That doesn't matter, I know. As I've said since I started the blog, it doesn't take much to win a three-man race like this. Someone with 40 percent is likely the landslide victor. But what do they win? With Rubio, not that much.

Rubio will be the junior senator from Florida, and a member of what is almost surely the minority caucus. The odds of the GOP taking the Senate are much lower than of them overthrowing the House. So Rubio would go to Washington with a party that is out of power, in the back of the line for any decent chairmanships, and still bears the mark of a usurper he drove Washington's hand-picked candidate out of the party. He will be there for six years, but if he spends that time boosting big oil and advocating for corporations ahead of the people, the majority of voters who in November will likely vote for someone besides Rubio are going to be ready to take the seat back for the people.

I see many out there concerned Rubio will serve as a good running mate on the GOP 2012 ticket. Folks, someone is going to run against Barack Obama in 2012. The GOP will try to put up the best they have. It is up to the president to beat out the best they have. If Rubio is the most they can muster, I'm no more worried about the president's re-election chances than I ever have been, and I haven't ever been that worried.

Now, as for Charlie, I think it is very easy for people outside Florida, or people who haven't been at all engaged in Florida politics for a long time, to forget that Charlie Crist is crazy, selfish and stupid. I wish they could see the signs on display today, but I have beaten the drums on recent issues enough. Perhaps people need some history.

This isn't the first time Crist has run for the Senate. He ran in 1998, back when incumbent Bob Graham was the most popular politician in Florida and the GOP nominee was a standard-bearer making a poetic statement while he waited for some illness to strike the Graham family. Back then, he was a hard-on crime nutjob who advocated eliminating the IRS completely. BTW, this is an interesting debate transcript, where Crist calls on Bill Clinton to resign. Why would a supposedly moderate politician say such extreme things? It served him politically. He was fairly moderate on abortion, but steered further right in coming years on that topic, not further left. For the most part, all of his positions were ones held to excite the right. Tea Party may be a new term, but the right-wing crazies have run things in Republican circles for a while. He danced for them back then, just as tried to until April this year.

It also was advantageous when he supported the FCAT system and vouchers, things which have hurt classroom education significantly but got the Charlie stamp of approval when he was education commissioner. Even just four years ago, his positions on education should have made any believer in public education wince. This man was the last elected Education Commissioner, and the GOP-controlled legislature had so little confidence in Crist's abilities to lead the Education Department that they severely limited his powers in that role.

Crist is an opportunist who has run in every single statewide election cycle since 1998 - once as Education Commissioner, once as Attorney General, once as Governor and twice as Senator. In that period, he has been all over the map on politics. That, more than any difference on environmental legislation, is what drove conservatives nuts about the guy, but just because he drives wingers nuts doesn't mean he is good news for progressives.

Right now, it serves Crist to play to the left. So he vetoes a bill the teachers hate. And he tries to convince us he's pro-choice again. Oh, and he likes gay rights now. The only difference between his shifting of positions now and then is that now, he has made miscalculations politically, and he is losing an election he might have won. If he does pull out victory, he probably will caucus with the Dems, but who knows. If the GOP took the Senate in 2012 or 2014, I am almost certain he would caucus with them. Progressives should not enable this behavior and risk the balance of the Senate on a candidates bathed in inconsistencies.

Meanwhile, Meek is running a meek campaign, but advocating principles which are perfectly in line with what true liberals want out of a Senator. He would be the first progressive representing Florida in the upper chamber since Claude Pepper, and we shouldn't spit at that opportunity. And should he get there, he will hold power.

First off, if Meek won, there would be no way for the GOP to take the Senate. None. So he would be in the majority. Plus, he would be one of few members of the Black Congressional Caucus to ever win a spot among the 100 kings. That would mean major power within that bloc, even though he would be a junior member of the Senate. Meek has more experience in Washington than any candidate in this race, and more experience as a lawmaker than either Crist, a six-year state senator, or Rubio, a former speaker term limited to eight years in the Florida House.

So I'm sticking with Meek. If he goes down in flames, so be it. It's the right thing to do. And more than any other reason, good people's willingness to toss ideals to satisfy short-term political gains is why our political system is broken. I view this as a contest between two genuine candidates: Rubio, whose politics I detest but in which many sincerely believe, and Meek, a qualified and credentialed progressive whom I am proud to support. Crist is a spoiler, an ego-maniac who plays by the rules when he can win by them, then throws out the rulebook when it proves restrictive.

This seems a simple choice to me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kos is Dead Wrong on This!

The mothership for progressive blogs in Daily Kos, and the site is indeed a big reason why I have a blog at all. But the front page post today by Markos is one I cannot simply ignore. The site is too influential, and the conclusion it has drawn is just too wrong.

Kos suggests that Kendrick Meek ought to drop out of the Senate race and let Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio battle head-to-head. He figures Rubio would be the likely victor anyway, but would rather see Indy Crist go down instead of Meek. I totally disagree.

Here is the nut of Kos' argument:
It's clear that in a three-way race, this is a done deal. Democrat Kendrick Meek and Independent Gov. Charlie Crist have almost exclusively targeted each other, nuking each other while Rubio heads virtually unscathed into the Senate. So given those dynamics, this is about the only thing that might shake up the race.

I don't want to be naive about things right now. Rubio is the clear front-runner at the moment. And it is clear the only way Rubio loses is for the roughly 60 percent of likely voters who don't want him as Senator to band around one candidate.

But think about that. Six out of every 10 Floridians are telling pollsters they will vote for someone besides Rubio, and yet he is winning. This guy is so far from a mainstream candidate he can't approach 50 percent. Crist and Meek for months have been staking out the left. And as a result, they are between the two of them holding a strong majority of support in the polls.

So who just progressives rally around? The guy with no values who a few months ago was touting his conservative credentials? Or the long-time progressive with every hope of being the first true liberal Florida has sent to Washington since Claude Pepper?

The choice is obvious to me. We have a winning strategy going with a genuine progressive.

Kos ought to calling for a deal that gets Crist out of the race. If he had any political principles at all, he would have left this race when it was clear he would lose the primary. Then he could watch Rubio go down in flames against Meek, and come back in a few years promising to bring the big tent philosophy back to the GOP after the inevitable teabagger burnout just over the horizon.

Instead, the most important and influential progressive blog online is suggesting Meek tuck tail and hide. Disgraceful. I hope Florida progressives know better than that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Screw the Sierra Club

And the Teachers' Union too.

Well, maybe not forever. I mean, those are groups that often help energize the Democratic vote in Florida, and there aren't very many of us.

But I can't really blame Kendrick Meek for his angry rebuke today of the greenies who tried to split their endorsement and go all purple. Like the Florida Education Association before them, the Sierra Club tried to split the difference and endorse both Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist.

From Meek:
"This election is about taking a stand and fighting for principles you believe in. Today's Sierra Club co-endorsement is an insult to Florida's environmental community. The Sierra Club has chosen to stand with a governor who stood on stage applauding as Sarah Palin chanted, 'Drill, Baby, Drill,' a governor who signed a law making it easier for big developers to drain the Everglades, a governor who endorsed a bill that would have allowed drilling just three miles away from Florida beaches, and a governor who used polluter talking points to attack climate change legislation."
I do tend to agree. For a group which exists purely on principles, the split-the-baby approach is entirely unbecoming.

But perhaps more important in this late stage of the game, doing a co-endorsement does more damage than good to both of these candidates. For anyone who hasn't noticed, Marco Rubio is winning this race right now, and he is doing it with six of every 10 Floridians voting against him. Does anyone think having the Sierra Club take an anyone-but-Marco stance right now will chip into those numbers? Rubio is winning the base, and only the base. These 'baggers probably don't believe there is an Everglades.

By essentially telling voters there is no marked difference between Meek and Crist on environmental policy, the Sierra Club is telling voters they don't care if the left splits its votes between a pro-development lifelong GOP darling and a member of the House progressive caucus. But having that vote split right now is exactly why Rubio is winning in the polls.

This is the same problem with the FEA, and they has just as shaky ground splitting the nod, if not shakier. That came on the heels of Crist vetoing a terrible education bill tying teacher pay to student performance, a move which would leave faculty stabbing one another to get the Honors classes and running like heck from the special ed classes, even though the lower performing students are the ones who need a good educator the most. Obviously, it is good Crist vetoed this bill, but he did not after supporting the measure the entire time it was moving through the Legislature.

That doesn't even get into the fact that Crist as a state senator wrote the bill which made Charter Schools possible in Florida, a system the FEA has fought against hard from the start. It also forgets that Crist as Education Commissioner supported such right-wing lunacy as private school vouchers and helped escalate the importance of the teacher-frustrating FCAT.

The Sierra Club doesn't mind that Charlie supported oil drilling off the coast of Florida purely so that he could be considered as a VP candidate for John McCain, and wouldn't reverse his stance until an oil rig literally exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. The FEA doesn't care that Charlie opposed measures like classroom size restrictions, or for that matter that Meek was the one carrying the union's water on that one. It's awful.

But even if these groups want to take such an unprincipled stance and back Crist, it is politically stupid to co-endorse. The position is obviously that both Crist and Meek would be better for the respective causes than Marco Rubio. Ironically, this dumb statement may be what gets Rubio a seat in the United States Senate.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fighting Rick Scott's Mo'

One of the things that has frustrated me to no end in this supposed "anti-incumbent" environment is the way the narrative has so thoroughly turned pro-Republican. This is especially frustrating in Florida races, where the state government has been so dominated by the GOP so that Democratic legislators were lucky to get office space in Tallahassee, but certainly haven't held influence in some time.

Rick Scott, of course, rode the anti-incumbent wave to victory in the gubernatorial primary against Bill McCollum. To run against Alex Sink as some kind of Tallahassee insider is disingenuous, and if the Democrats can't successfully point that out, it will be a travesty.

A couple new polls, most notably Quinnipiac and Voter Survey Service, are showing Sink behind Scott right now by narrow margins. Of course, polls not so long ago were showing Sink with a commanding lead, but the mo' is clearly with Rick right now. A good candidate always runs like they are 10 points down, and there is no reason to panic yet. Among other things, the polls in Florida have blipped up and down more often than most nursing home heart monitors.

But there is no question Sink needs to seize the narrative and remind voters that she is no heir to any political dynasty. Until four years ago, she had never run for office. Four years before than that, her husband Bill McBride was the outsider running for governor, but unfortunately did so at a time when Florida was less receptive to a "throw the bums out message."

As the only Democrat on the Florida Cabinet, and most prominent political leader for a party with virtually so significance in Tallahassee, Sink always has been an outsider. It is true that Washington today is run by Democrats, though it certainly hasn't been true for long. But putting a Democrat in the governor's mansion here for the first time in 12 years would be a much bigger change than Scott could possibly provide.

So how can Scott get away with playing the little guy to Sink's big government insider? He's a gazillionaire with all too much experience turning the wheels of government to his own advantage. He isn't some working class hero. He is Ken Ley with better access to physicians. Enough of this crack.

Sink is the candidate who will shake up the Capital. She is the one who will provide much-needed oversight to a Legislature working under one-party rule, while Scott would conspire for more of the deregulatory, pro-rich anti-government which helped put Florida among the hardest states hit by the recession.

But she has less than a month to make sure voters know that. Better get started.