On the passing of Tom Slade

One of the most influential people in Florida’s last half century of politics passed away on Monday. Tom Slade, more than any other single man is responsible for the political climate Floridians live in today. The lasting and permanent Republican majorities in the state of Florida were built largely by him, with deputies implementing his vision and understanding his view of candidate recruitment and positive messaging. Under Slade, the Republicans went from a permanent minority made up largely of country club types and migrants from the Midwest, to a party that represented people of all stripes and all regions in Florida.

Slade was first elected to the State House as a Democrat from Jacksonville in 1962 but by the time he jumped to the Senate in 1966 he had switched parties ahead of many others in the south. The hard-charging Slade eventually became the architect of Republican majorities, moving the party beyond its very niche base.

In the late 1960’s political prognosticators believed Florida was quickly shifting to the Republican column. But the Democratic landslide elections of 1970, 1972 and 1976 moved the state further into the Democratic column than it had been in the mid 1960’s. By 1982, the Democrats held 32 of 40 State Senate seats, every Cabinet office and 89 of 120 House seats, a significant gain from even the mid 1970’s.

But by the late 1980’s the Republican were on the move again and with Slade as party chair in the 1990’s the GOP flipped both houses of the legislature and the majority of the Cabinet. By 2002, the GOP had achieved complete dominance in state politics, similar to the numbers the Democrats enjoyed two decades earlier.

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Nancy Pelsoi headlines Orlando town hall on working women & empowerment

US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) joined Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Florida) to headline a Working Women Town Hall in Orlando. The event which was hosted by The Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment (FIRE)  drew a packed audience.  

The town hall comes on the heels of a report released on women’s health. Just this week, the Alliance for a Just Society released a Women’s Health Report Card that ranked all 50 states in the areas of health coverage for women, women’s access to health care, and women’s health outcomes. Florida ranks 35th and received a “D” grade overall. Florida ranked second from bottom among the ten largest states by population in the union (thank goodness for Texas!). 

Medicaid expansion which should quite frankly be a bigger issue in the ongoing 2014 Florida election and earned sick time were among the questions posed by the audience to a panel which included Lauren Rowe, a former TV news anchor and producer of Flashpoint, Denise Diaz, Executive Director of Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, Marytza Sanz, President and CEO of Latino Leadership, and Jenna Tosh, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando.

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TFS Legislative Endorsements


SD 6 – Kathleen Trued

SD 12 – Geraldine Thompson

SD 22 – Judithanne McLauchlan

SD 32 – Maria Sachs


HD 6 – Jamie Shepard

HD 29 – Mike Clelland

HD 30 – Karen Castor Dentel

HD 38 – Beverly Ledbetter

HD 43 – John Cortes

HD 47 – Linda Stewart

HD 49 – Joe Saunders

HD 63 – Mark Danish

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FOX News discussion on CD-18 Race

We would normally never post something from FOX News but this discussion which included one-time Charlie Crist confidante and Broward Republican Party Chair George LeMieux was fantastic for its spin in claiming that Congressman Patrick Murphy is vulnerable.

Monday Musings: Reggie Fullwood, Broward Bond Issue, Coral Springs Mayor’s Race, #Fangate, Debate Topics and 2014 is not 2002

House District 13 will not be seeing an election on November 4th. Representative Reggie Fullwood failed complete his paperwork properly and thus, no candidate filed for the seat. A judge ruled that Fullwood could not appear on the November election, triggering a special election. However, Fullwood’s easy re-election is out the window – he now faces a primary opponent in Johnny Gaffney and then a Republican challenger in Lawrence Jefferson. This mistake will cost the district almost half a million dollars according to the Duval Supervisor of Elections. Even though the district is safely D and there is very little chance a Republican could be elected here, Johnny Gaffney is a formidable opponent and this will prove to be a hard primary. The primary will take place in December, with a general election in February. With voter turn out to be projected in the mid-single digits, Fullwood has to be kicking himself for a simple mistake that has cost him an easy no-contest election.  –   KB@BurnettKaty 

Politics in Broward County the last month and a half has been dominated by two things: The Governor’s Race, where Charlie Crist is making a massive field effort locally, an effort his campaign is quite frankly NOT replicating in other parts of the state. The other was the Sachs-Bogdanoff State Senate race. But in the last ten days, interest has started to shift towards three issues that will be on the ballot November 4th. First is the the School Bond issue which has faced more organized and sustained opposition than perhaps expected. The second is a local government reorganization in Plantation. The third is the Coral Springs Mayor’s Race between former State Senator and 2006 Democratic Attorney General nominee Skip Campbell and City Commissioner Tom Powers. These three issues have livened up Broward’s politics in the past few weeks. – KK @kkfla737

Although #fangate dominated all the news, there were several other major points that should be highlighted from the debate. The biggest thing missing from the debate was any discussion of immigration from either candidate, which is a surprise considering how hard the campaigns are fighting over the Hispanic vote both in South Florida and in Orange County. Neither of the candidates even attempted to pitch to the Hispanic vote, so look for definite mention of this important demographic on Tuesday. The other issue group that was left out was women – although Rick Scott particularly mentioned his abuse father and wonderful mother three times, real issues that pertain to women were left out. Again, I expect both of these will come up in the CNN debate on Tuesday, where it has already been confirmed that there will be no fan. Even though this debate was not set up to persuade voters – we’ve talked about several times on this blog about how there are very few persuadable – these huge issues could decide if people are going to vote or not. –   KB@BurnettKaty 

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Are the State House races really as noncompetitive as St Pete Polls claim?

In the last few days, our friends over at Saint Petersblog have released polling numbers and data from several contentious State House races across Florida. The polls have been conducted by St Pete Polls, whom we have previously both praised  on this site. Before delving too deeply into the qualms I have about the polling data we have seen the past few days, I think it is important to start off by praising both Saint Petersblog and St Pete Polls for doing a service by offering public polls in State House races. For years state legislative race information was the exclusive province of “those in the know” (which often did include me) but Saint Petersblog has given the masses or at least those who are aware of the website an opportunity to get a feel for where things sit in multiple House races.

My first concern about the polling data is how the results have been weighted. It appears the weighting has in most cases favored the Republican challengers against Democratic incumbents with the sole exception of HD-68 where I believe Rep. Dwight Dudley leads but not quite by the 13-point margin represented in the polling data.  Similarly, former Rep. Shaun Harrison has opened up a 13-point lead against Rep. Mark Danish in the newest HD-63 St Pete poll. It has been well-known in Democratic circles that Danish is struggling and Harrison has likely pulled into a lead, perhaps a comfortable single-digit lead. But the 13-point lead seems preposterous, and given the makeup of HD-63 which includes many liberal USF college students being activated by NextGen and other left-leaning advocacy organizations, polling, especially that based largely on a 2010 turnout model is bound to be highly flawed and unrepresentative of probable Democratic performance. The weighting of each poll has assumed a massive Republican turnout advantage that resembles 2010 numbers, which is an issue we will get to in a minute.

Let us use the example of HD-63 to discuss why 2014 will look nothing like 2010. Progressive organizations whether they be concerned about the environment, reproductive rights, LGBT issues, or increased utility rates have been activated in a way that was unimaginable in 2010. In some respects, these groups are more active than they were in 2012 in the sense that a real effort this time around has been made to target House seats and focus much of the energy of outside liberal groups in protecting Democratic incumbents. When you consider the districts surveyed by St Pete Polls all have a Democratic bent with the exception of Rep. Carl Zimmerman’s HD-65, you realize that the efforts of progressive groups to activate non-typical off-year election votes are likely to shave several points off these polling numbers. In 2012 for example, the left-leaning advocacy groups that were active in the election cycle often were unaware of what legislative seat they were working in and did not plan their strategy around House district lines.

In HD-65, St Pete Polls found Republican challenger Chris Sprowles locked in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Carl Zimmerman. In recent days, it has become obvious that Zimmerman is potentially defying all expectations once again and sits in a strong position to hold this seat. While St Pete Polls shows a slight Sprowles advantage, the poll confirms the competitive nature of this race, one where I believe the Democrats might even have a slight edge of holding the seat. Rep. Zimmerman as we have discussed on multiple occasions previously on this website has routinely over-performed running ahead of top of the Democratic ticket even in his losing campaigns of 2006 and 2008 in a similar district. Should Charlie Crist remain competitive in this north Pinellas seat, Zimmerman very well could prevail.

The polling numbers from St Pete Polls would indicate a 2010 like “wave” election. In the Orlando area, the firm has Rep. Karen Castor Dentel trailing her Republican opponent by 18 points and Rep. Linda Stewart trailing her GOP opposition by 15 points. No doubt Democrats are struggling in the Orlando area as polling has shown for most of this election cycle. But the margins represented by the polling in these two seats are ridiculous when you consider the overall competitiveness up and down the ballot in both areas and the Democrats concentrated efforts in these two districts.

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Hopes for Amendment 2: Up in Smoke?

When the constitutional amendment to bring medical marijuana was first discussed in the state of Florida, it was assumed it would be a huge advantage to the Democratic nominee because it would boost turnout and bring a huge advantage against Rick Scott.  As recently as three weeks ago, there was a series of stories about how the medical marijuana initiative could drive out young voters and be a deciding factor in this election. The promise was that this important demographic who do not usually vote will be motivated to come out in support of Amendment 2 and these people would naturally vote for Crist.   Bloomberg published an predicting this issue will decide the Governor’s race and give overwhelming favor to the Democratic nominee.

But now, weeks before the election, is that actually going to happen?    With so many issues coming up in this election, will the next four years really be determined by Amendment 2? The overwhelming answer is that Amendment 2 is under-performing both in polling and in projected turnout gains for the Democrats. Now, if Amendment 2 passes at all, it will be by a slight margin and it looks like it will be Charlie who will be motivating the voter turn-out, not the other way around. What is becoming painfully obvious is that Amendment 2 will not be the crux of this election. While it may move younger voters slightly, this issue will not define this election in any manner like it was projected to. Instead of carrying Crist over the finish line, if this Amendment passes it will be limping over the finish line with just enough votes. As I talked about last week in my piece on Constitutional Amendments, it needs 60% to pass and that is looking unlikely at this point. What went wrong?

The answer is complicated. The claim that a marijuana initiative would galvanize voters should have been more scrutinized from the beginning. There is simply little motivation for young people to go vote for something that is already readily available in most areas. While the idea of legal marijuana is appealing, there is the ‘medical’ aspect that leaves a lot of questions – and for the group that is most likely to not have health insurance, going to the doctor  is extremely questionable. The young vote unquestionably helped Obama, but it is looking more and more likely that most of them will stay home this November. They are hard to reach and expensive to motivate and neither campaign has done a particular good job trying to galvanizing the youth vote. Besides the “Yes to the Dress attempt”, very little appeals have been made to millennials in this election at all. John Morgan, in all his glorious attempts, has done little to gather support for the measure in his press tour and, beyond the comedy aspect, motivated precious few to turn out.

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Is Governor Scott’s arrogance due to being a “carpetbagger?”

The farcical opening to Wednesday’s gubernatorial debate at Broward College furthered the narrative emerging from this Governor’s race — that the sitting Governor who has lived in this state for barely a decade has little respect for Florida’s citizens. The patronizing tone he has long taken in lecturing Floridians about the economy reflects the arrogance of out-of-state elites that have long mocked Florida. The irony of this is of course that Florida itself has become far more mockable in past four years thanks to Scott’s leadership. This Governor tried to avoid debating Governor Crist as often as was required for our citizens make a truly educated and informed decision about both candidates before they cast a ballot. But that is no surprise for someone who has shown an utter contempt for this state’s citizens, its journalists, educators and activists for four long years.

Before I continue this posting I want to state without reservation that I have no issue with the millions of people each year who relocate to Florida from other parts of this country or from abroad. These new residents enrich the experience of being a Floridian and enhance our local culture and our economic wellbeing.

What I do have a problem with, and have a long record of speaking out about, is when people move to this state, particularly from northeast and midwest, and then proceed to look down upon the citizens of this state and to not respect the unique landscape and ecosystem of our state. I believe Rick Scott fits this description. One should not run for the leading office in the state if they do not truly love Florida.

Governor Scott’s lack of historical appreciation and understanding of the unique challenges this diverse mega-state faces is regularly on display when he speaks in public. In four years he has not made the effort to learn more about this state’s singular environment and heritage, instead preferring to hide behind business-oriented rhetoric. But running this state is so much more complicated than simply calling corporate CEOs or giving speeches about attracting new businesses to Florida.

Florida’s record of job creation and attracting of Fortune 500 companies has still lagged behind similarly sized states during the Scott years. Let’s compare Florida’s success at attracting business to other southern states. Virginia has attracted five new Fortune 500 companies to the state in the past decade. Texas, which like Florida has been run by conservative Republicans, has attracted four. Florida has attracted just one, Hertz, and lost one during the same period in Winn-Dixie. While having the fourth-largest population in the country and total Republican control of state government for 16 years, Florida ranks just 11th in  the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters. In terms of actual high-wage job creation and attracting new big business to the state, Texas’ Rick Perry and Virginia’s combination of Democratic and Republican Governors blow away Governor Scott. This is despite every tax abatement scheme under the sun being proposed by this Governor, pushed by corporate lobbyists and rubber-stamped by a legislature whose ideological bent prevents them from asking the necessary difficult questions.

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Video on Reproductive Rights in Attorney General Campaign

Pam Bondi has been terrible on issues of women’s reproductive healthcare. George Sheldon very cleanly explains his views on these issues in this newly released video spot.

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Equality Florida mailer hits home

Equality Florida one of the most effective and active advocacy groups in the state dropped a very effective mailer earlier this week covering the subjects of same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, bullying in schools, anti-gay discrimination, and gay adoption. The piece contrasts Charlie Crist and Rick Scott as well George Sheldon and Pam Bondi. The targeted piece hit mailboxes throughout the state earlier this week.

Images below:

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