The NRA makes endorsements and rates legislators

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has made its endorsements for the 2014 General Election and rated legislators. As would be expected most Democrats fared poorly on the NRA scorecard while most Republicans were rated highly. The organization endorsed every Republican for the statewide cabinet and gave Charlie Crist who at one-time was an NRA backed candidate a “D” grade. George Sheldon got an “F,” while the Democratic candidates for CFO and Agriculture Commissioner were not graded.

Congressional races were also straight forward with every Republican incumbent being graded an “A” or “A+” and receiving the organizations endorsement. No Democrats was endorsed for Congress.

In the State Senate, the NRA elected NOT to endorse Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff in the hotly contested SD-34 race. Bogdanoff was given a B- grade while her Democratic opponent Maria Sachs scored almost as well with a C+. The lack of an NRA endorsement could hurt Bogdanoff with the critical conservative activists needed to generate energy, enthusiasm and a volunteer base in her attempts to return to the Senate. However, it is also possible Bogdanoff’s non-endorsement might be viewed as a plus in the urban district she is seeking to represent again. For years, the late Republican Congressman E. Clay Shaw held on to a similar district with a poor rating from the NRA (in some years Shaw even scored a D or F from the organization).  Several other Senate Republicans like Jack Latvala, Nancy Detert and Rene Garcia scored even more poorly from the NRA than Bogdanoff or Sachs.

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Monday Musings: Katy at Harvard, Washout in St Pete, Dangers of Facebook jinxes, Modi at MSG

I had the wonderful privileged to go hang out at the Harvard Institution of Politics this weekend to attend a conference on Bipartisan Advocacy. Walking through the IOP is like the magical wonderland for political nerds – everything you touch or walk by is a part of history. I got to hang out with Christine Gregoire and I got a little star-struck.  In case anyone forgets, we do have an incredible country.  –   KB@BurnettKaty 

Saturday was the final scheduled meeting in the 2014 NASL season between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Fort Lauderdale Strikers. But unfortunately storms got in the way and the game was not played. A busload of Fort Lauderdale fans, myself included made the trip to St Petersburg. I was tapped to receive the Coastal Cup trophy if the Strikers won or drew the game thus winning the season series. In 2010, when I was the NASL Communications Director but also working with the Strikers (then known as Miami FC) I had to hand the trophy over to the Rowdies. This year we had a post-game ceremony planned where I would receive the trophy if the Strikers won or drew. But fate intervened, namely rain. In May 2011, when I was still the NASL Communications Director we had our first postponement of a game in the league when these same two teams met in Fort Lauderdale. Saturday Morning, I unwisely on Facebook reminisced about that night and tagged several people who were present at the game, especially Rowdies fans who had bused over from the west coast. Well turnabout is fair play, the same thing happened this time in St Pete. Many are holding me responsible, and who can blame them?   – KK @kkfla737

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Queen of Transparency not so Transparent – More on Mayor Teresa Jacobs

On Friday, we discussed the lawsuit filed against Orange County by Organize Now with the assistance the First Amendment Foundation.  Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs whose major issue in her 2010 run for County Mayor was “ethics and transparency” in government has once again demonstrated how entitled a politician she has become.

Mayor Jacobs response to the lawsuit was petulant,  bizarre and smacked of someone who is trying to divert attention from the actual complaint. Mayor Jacobs has not properly explained who has access to the Dropbox account in question, and never addressed why items were deleted after public records requests were made and a letter was sent to the State Attorney’s office. These critical questions have yet to be answered by the Mayor, County staff or the County Communications team. Additionally, Mayor Jacobs accused those probing in this matter of “lying” to the press. Mayor Jacobs track record on these matters of public integrity are suspect after the infamous text-gate scandal among other items.

In other parts of the state where the absence of watchdog groups exist, dodgy, evasive answers like the one Mayor Jacobs gave today might fly.   But Orange County is different  thanks to the infrastructure progressives have built to serve as Government watchdogs and advocates for good in the community. Groups like Organize Now and advocate leaders like Stephanie Porta are needed in every corner of this state to ensure against the type of arrogant, reckless and entitled behavior the political ruling class in this state continuously exhibits. This is particularly true in urban counties where the County Commission and county executives rule over massive budgets and have responsibilities that impact the daily lives of millions of ordinary citizens.

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Lawsuit Being Filed Against Orange County for Public Records Violations

Today, Organize Now filed with the assistance of the First Amendment Foundation, a lawsuit that seeks immediate relief for violations of Florida’s open government laws by Orange County.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is at the center of the controversy as the filed suit seeks to answer questions about who has access to the mayor’s Dropbox files, and what are the contents of these files.

“The Mayor has said she would share any and all information related to the Dropbox, yet what little she’s provided so far is rife with deletions and redactions,” said Organize Now director Stephanie Porta.

The press release announcing the lawsuit stated the following:

Over the past two weeks, the Mayor’s staff have erected numerous barriers to requests seeking this basic information. A deeper concern, however, is that in the limited release of records so far, evidence exists that documents were deleted immediately after Comptroller Martha Haynie sent a letter to State Attorney Jeff Ashton and again after public records requests were submitted.


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Flashback Friday: September of 1964… Hurricanes Cleo, Dora and the Beatles rock Jacksonville

September 1964, 50 years ago was a momentous month in Florida history. The state was recovering from Hurricane Cleo which hit southeast Florida in late August with particular venom, destroying the Storyland amusement park  which never reopened and passed over the Coral Springs Covered Bridge after destroying most of the city. The Fort Lauderdale News did not publish on the morning of August 27th the only time the paper’s history that happened. Florida Atlantic University’s grand opening was delayed by two weeks because of the storm. Cleo was the tropical cyclone that inflicted the widest swath of damage in south Florida until Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Cleo’s odd path hitting the region from the south and streaking up the state

With the state recovering Hurricane Dora became the first tropical cyclone to make landfall on the first coast since Atlantic Hurricane records were kept starting in the 1870’s. To date it remains the only Hurricane to make a direct hit on the Jacksonville and St Augustine areas and it came ashore as a Category 3 storm. Dora maintained Hurricane intensity inland and dumped over a foot of rain in the entire area between Taylor and St John’s Counties.

A few days later, the Beatles would be in Jacksonville…

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From Condo Commandos to activism – The changing face of Southeast Florida Democratic politics

When I worked my first complete election cycle in southeast Florida, stories about the fall of the “Condo Commandos” were already abundant in Broward County though they were reaching an apex of power in Palm Beach. This was the 1998 cycle and it was a wipe-out year for Florida Democrats. Three cabinet Democrats were reelected but the party was wiped out in legislative elections and Jeb Bush won the Governorship  in a landslide. Democrat Buddy MacKay won only six counties. The next day as the post-mortems came in on the Florida Democratic debacle in what was a year the national party had exceeded expectations a theory began to float. Broward and Palm Beach counties had run up large margins for MacKay despite his weakness in other parts of the state. The state’s second and third largest counties had given over 60% of the vote to a candidate that won less than 45% statewide. This was due to the high turnout in Condos, largely Jewish in the two counties. But on that day after the election in 1998, discussion began in earnest that the condo vote was dying off in Broward and that the county which is full of suburban bedroom communities would soon vote more like other parts of the state. Palm Beach, on the other hand was seeing the zenith of Condo power in the late 1990’s, perhaps even in 1998 when MacKay’s dropoff in Palm Beach from Governor Chiles 1994 vote was the lowest of any urban county in the state.

In the 1970’s as condos began to dot the landscape of Broward and Palm Beach County while Cuban immigrants moved into Dade County and began the process of turning the most national Democratic county in the southeast US (it must be remembered in the 1970’s the vast majority of local elected officials and state legislators in the south were Democrats but very few were liberal national Democrats- Dade County was the most liberal county in the southeast USA) into a competitive partisan battlefield. Those who moved into condos were the daughters and sons of the New Deal and liberal Democratic politics. Their presence moved the state’s Democratic Party irrevocably to the left. Prior to the development of condos, the Florida Democratic Party was a conservative, establishment, Chamber of Commerce oriented party whose liberal wing was confined to Dade County. Miami and Miami Beach were more like liberal northern cities that could be safely marginalized as it often was by the Democratic establishment which was almost entirely southern in its approach and makeup. But by the mid 1970’s the state’s most electable Democrats were largely left-of-center Dade County politicians who were the first to tap into the condo vote, in northern Dade and southern Broward (The belt from Miami Beach to Hollywood was the original powerful condo area). By the 1980’s the condos running from northern Dade to central Palm Beach were beginning to dominate statewide Democratic politics moving the party forever to the center-left.

I first volunteered on a campaign in 1982, when I was eight years old. At the time I had little perspective but thinking back as Coral Springs and Broward County resident, the Condos were everything. Volunteers were always dispatched to condos. Single-family neighborhoods were largely a waste of time it seemed. In fact, some theories were floated that engaging these areas might wake up Republicans who were unlikely to vote. Keep in mind prior to the era of cable news, voter turnout was at its lowest ebb in American history. The 1990’s saw the lowest voter turnout of any era since full enfranchisement.

The trend of condo dominance continued throughout the 1980’s. Local elections were decided in the condos and when Lawton Chiles ran for Governor in 1990 against incumbent Republican Bob Martinez, the Broward and Palm Beach condos turned out in a massive way,. In 1994 Broward provided three times the victory margin for Chiles close-shave reelection against Jeb Bush. It was at this point that the condo influence was at its height and the talk of everyone statewide. Republicans who were on the cusp of taking over the state became obsessed with breaking the block of votes that came out of Broward and Palm Beach counties for Democrats. To do so would flip the state permanently. Jeb Bush in 1998 would spend much of his energy and effort trying to break this block of votes. He was largely unsuccessful in this effort even though he peeled off many “leaders” in the organizations and won an overwhelming statewide landslide.

Condo Commandos dominated the political conversation and GOTV efforts. They elected Judges, School Board members, County Commissioners and ultimately provided massive margins for any Democrat running statewide. The sheer power of condo voting was a sight to behold in those days- well organized buses of senior voters coming to polling places all completely educated on how to vote. Voter turnout in some of these areas was off the charts. They were a legacy of New Deal era northern politics exported by former FDR voters and the children of FDR voters to southeastern Florida.

As discussed above, by 1998 the fear was that the legions of condo leaders were dying off. Some of the most prominent leaders of the movement, Tillie Rothstein in Broward and Jack Babich in Palm Beach had just passed away. Demographics were beginning to change within condo communities and the fear was that Palm Beach and Broward would revert to the way they voted prior to the late 1970’s when wealthy coastal communities dominated the landscape and voted Republican.

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Marco Rubio encountering media critics on foreign policy flip-flops

Marco Rubio has consistently gotten things wrong on foreign policy, a subject he knows little about and should stay away from. Florida’s Junior Senator but leading media star simply spouts out talking points or finds new ways to contradict the administration even if it means he is constantly flip-flopping.

Within the last 48 hours both The Atlantic and Salon have featured must-read articles about Senator Rubio’s confused foreign policy rhetoric.

Both articles explain the problems Rubio’s logic and thought process when it comes to foreign affairs.

November Expectation Rubric for Florida Democrats

As most of you know, I am a student at the University of Florida in Political science.   As one who had to be graded often, I find that clear expectations are the key to a good grade.   With this in mind, I decide to write my grade rubric for Democrats for November in state Government.  According to Wikipedia, “A scoring rubric is an attempt to communicate expectations of quality around a task”.   While analysis will follow afterwards, these are how I will set up my expectations.

Here is how I will grade Democratic performance:

A+        Governor and Attorney General win, no loss in the house, no loss in the Senate.
A          Governor and Attorney General win, lose one seat in the house, no loss in the Senate
A –       Governor and Attorney General win, lose two seats, no loss in the Senate

B+       Governor wins and AG lose, drop two seats lose, do not lose any seats in the Senate
B         Governor wins and AG lose,  drop three seats in House, no loss in Senate
B –      Governor wins and AG lose,  drop four house seats, no loss in Senate

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Call for Endorsement Recommendations

We at the Squeeze are working on releasing our endorsements for the November election and while there are few competitive federal and state races, politics on the local level matter just as much.  We mention time and time again how we need to build our bench and how we have to recruit talent on the local level.    While would love to be able to look at every local race, there is no possible way that we can before election time.  We need our readers to be our eyes and ears. What are the local races you are watching?   Are there rising stars up for election that we should keep an eye on?   Post in the comments here or email us here at with your suggestions on races we should take a look at and candidates out of the spotlight that deserve some attention.

Look for our endorsements to start coming out next week.   And remember to remind your family and friends to register to vote by October 6th!

NextGen ads and Crist environmental record could help revive Democrats in SW Florida and the Treasure Coast

Democrats suffered some serious backsliding in 2012 in two important growing regions of the state – southwest Florida and the Treasure Coast (minus St Lucie County which has acted more as an appendage of southeast Florida, than like northern Palm Beach, Martin or Indian River counties in recent elections). My explanation for this is simple: when Democrats have done well in this area, the party has been strongly identified with environmental protection, promotion of green technology, restoration of the Everglades and clean water. Both regions are very conservative economically but understand maintenance of a sustainable Florida is critical to positive economic growth.

President Obama’s biggest performance drop-off in the state from 2008 to 2012  was southwest Florida where Lee, Collier, Charlotte, and Sarasota were all among the worst 10 counties for Obama as far vote drop from 08′. Indian River and Martin on the Treasure Coast also fit that bill, as do Volusia and Flagler counties in northeast central Florida. In fact the only county that declined at similar rates to these areas for Obama was Sumter where conservative senior growth in the Villages means the population is substantially different today than it was in 2008 and far different than 2004 or 2000.

This morning, the Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo had a very important piece on NextGen’s Ads and the impact they have made in the Fort Myers and West Palm Beach media markets. As I have said for years, for Democrats to be successful in these areas, they must run strong on Environmental issues. Charlie Crist is the greenest Democrat to run for Governor since Buddy MacKay in 1998 and he is running against one of the great polluters we have ever had in executive office.

The pre-Crist de-emphasis of environmental issues by Florida Democrats, I believe no doubt hurt the Obama campaign along the Treasure Coast and SW Florida. Martin, Indian River, Charlotte and Collier counties have been traditionally anti-growth and in favor of punishing polluters in order to fund Everglades restoration. In fact, the only area where Congressmen and legislators from these two regions have broken with GOP orthodoxy over the past two decades is on issues related to environmental protection and preservation. Collier has shifted towards a more pro-growth posture recently, but it is not without serious local opposition that this has taken place.

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