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Ouch! Democratic leaders in Nan Rich’s home county reject call for primary debate with Crist

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 by George Bennett

Nan Rich with Hillary Clinton at a 2008 rally at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

In a blow to Nan Rich in her home county, leaders of the Broward County Democratic Executive Committee on Tuesday night voted down a resolution calling for a Democratic governor’s primary debate between Rich and frontrunner Charlie Crist.

Crist, the former Republican governor who became an independent in 2010 and a Democrat in 2012, has become the heavy favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader from Weston. Crist has rejected Rich’s calls for a primary debate, saying he’s focused only on Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Broward County DEC Chairman Mitch Ceasar said the party’s Management Committee — a group of about 20 officials — voted down a resolution calling for a Crist-Rich debate after “significant and emotional” discussion. Ceasor wouldn’t reveal the vote totals or discuss how he or other individuals voted.

Broward County has more registered Democrats — 563,805 — than any other county in Florida.

Broward County Democratic State Committeewoman Maggie Davidson, a Rich supporter who brought up the resolution, said: “I’m disappointed but they feel as though the bottom line, I guess, was we didn’t want to have any divisiveness.”

Hillsborough County’s Democratic Executive Committee approved a resolution Monday calling for Crist and Rich to debate.

In Palm Beach County, Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo declined to take a position on whether Crist and Rich should debate, saying “it’s up to the candidates.”

While Dems sense political theater, Scott takes stage to fight for immigrant tuition

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by John Kennedy

A few hours after the Senate Appropriations Committee refused to hear an amendment granting in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants, Gov. Rick Scott turned to the media Tuesday to keep the issue alive.

The legislation has already cleared the House. But it has hit a roadblock in the Florida Senate where Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Senate Budget Chair Joe Negron, R-Stuart, say they will refuse to schedule it.

On Tuesday, Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, ruled the in-state amendment out of order.

But since Thrasher doubles as Scott’s campaign chairman, the move fed Democratic suspicions that the standoff is mostly political theater — orchestrated to make Scott look heroic among Hispanic voters, with whom polls show he is far behind Democratic rival Charlie Crist.

“This looks like an election year ploy, and that’s pathetic,” House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale earlier told the Palm Beach Post.

Meeting with reporters outside his Capitol office, Scott blamed Crist both for increasing state tuition and for opposing the in-state tuition provision when he was the state’s Republican governor.

“We’re cleaning up his mess,” Scott said. “I call on the Florida Senate…this is the right thing for the students of our state. We have had a dramatic turnaround in our state. We’ve got to give these children the same opportunity as all children. Whatever country you were born in, whatever family or zip code, you have the chance to live the dream. Part of that dream is being able to afford education.”

As a candidate in 2010, Scott vowed to enact tough, Arizona-style sanctions against illegal immigration to Florida, a promise he later abandoned as governor. Tea party groups remain opposed to the in-state tuition bill, seeing it as rewarding those who are in Florida illegally.

Gaetz said last week that he only recently learned of Scott’s support for the tuition bill, and that the governor had not sought to lobby him. But last week, Scott was joined by former Govs. Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez in calling for action on the bill, a day after Negron said he would not hear the measure in Tuesday’s  Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Ted Deutch: Crist-Rich Democratic primary debate would be ‘worthwhile’

Friday, April 18th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, at a town hall meeting west of Boynton Beach on Thursday night.


U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, isn’t taking sides in the Democratic primary for governor between Charlie Crist and Nan Rich.

But Deutch sounds sympathetic to calls from underdog Rich — and Republican Gov. Rick Scott — for Crist to debate his Democratic primary rival.

After conducting a town hall meeting with more than 100 people west of Boynton Beach, Deutch was asked by a reporter Thursday night if Crist and Rich should debate.

“I think it would worthwhile for the people of Florida to be reminded of the issues that most people in the state care about, which would be the issues that are debated that night, instead of being forced to watch millions of dollars in commercials funded by outside groups that support the governor,” Deutch said.

Scott also thinks Republican-turned-Democrat Crist should debate former state Sen. Rich. Scott made the suggestion after Crist, in West Palm Beach this week, declared “Give me Scott.”

Scott Facebook townhall features unfriend-ly swipes at Crist

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott takes part in a Facebook townhall from Jacksonville.

Gov. Rick Scott hosted a Facebook townhall Thursday evening from Jacksonville, fielding one question about Charlie Crist while also managing to take a couple swipes at his Democratic rival.

Asked about Crist’s “Gimme Scott” comment this week at a Forum Club meeting in West Palm Beach, Scott shrugged off the challenge. Instead, Scott hinted that Crist shouldn’t look too far past his likely Democratic primary opponent, Nan Rich.

“That’s laughable,” Scott posted. “He has a primary and I’m sure it’s going to be enjoyable watching his debates with Nan Rich.”

But Scott also kept his focus on Crist when another Facebook friend asked if Floridians could face higher taxes if they failed to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.

“Charlie Crist thinks Obamacare is ‘great,’” Scott responded. “I don’t because people are losing their insurance, their doctors and their jobs because of this failed law.

Scott also vowed to hold the line on college and university tuition this year. Unlike, he pointed out, Crist, who as Republican governor from 2007-11, endorsed a law which allowed tuition to climb 15 percent annually.

“We are working to stop the 15% annual increase in tuition plus inflationary increase in tuition passed by Charlie Crist. Call your state legislators and let them know this is important,” Scott told his online audience.

But just as in previous Facebook townhalls, Scott chose to avoid a few questions, too. Several questions went unanswered about why he hasn’t pushed to expand Medicaid to cover some of Florida’s 4 million without health insurance.

Another question challenging Florida for still planning to implement Common Core Standards in classrooms got a less than direct answer from Scott.

“There are two things important to me, one, high standards for Florida students are not negotiable; and two we must prevent the federal government’s overreach into our education system,” he said.

 

 

After one week, Crist spokesman ‘pursuing other opportunities’

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by George Bennett

A week after he was announced as media contact for Charlie Crist‘s gubernatorial campaign, Eric Conrad and the campaign have parted ways.

“He’s pursuing other opportunities,” was all Crist communications consultant Kevin Cate would say this afternoon.

Conrad, who has worked in Florida with President Barack Obama‘s 2012 re-election campaign, the Florida Democratic Party and Enroll America, didn’t immediately return a call.

It’s the second time Republican-turned-Democrat Crist’s camp has seen a rapid departure from a visible post.

When he launched his campaign in November, Crist planned to bring Democratic hot hand Bill Hyers on as campaign manager after Hyers helmed Bill De Blasio‘s mayoral victory in New York. But Hyers never actually started on the job; Crist said he “wanted to stay in New York because it was good for him.” Crist eventually hired former Obama operative Omar Khan as campaign manager.

Scott’s reelection story gets another chapter in latest TV spot

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott's latest TV ad looks back on his Navy days

Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday launched the second installment of the bi0-pic approach his campaign is using to reintroduce him to Florida voters.

Like his opening TV ad, the newest 30-second spot airing statewide reflects on multimillionaire’s hardscrabble growing up. The ad reflects on his years right out of high school, when he served in the U.S. Navy and later went to college on the G.I. Bill before starting his first business.

Scott’s late mother, Esther, a fixture in his 2010 campaign, also is featured in the spot. She died in late 2012.

“You know, everyone deserves the dignity and the opportunity that comes with a good job,” Scott tells viewers. “That’s what I work on every day.”

Here’s the ad:   bit.ly/1jLhcCN

 

Burt Aaronson, recovering from heart surgery, makes appearance at Crist speech

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by George Bennett

Crist and Aaronson at Kravis Center today.


Six weeks after having a heart valve replaced and receiving a pacemaker, former Palm Beach County commissioner Burt Aaronson is slowly returning to the local political scene.

Aaronson, 85, put in an appearance at a Democratic Club of Greater Boynton meeting last week and today was on hand at the Kravis Center for former Gov. Charlie Crist‘s speech to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.

Former Rep. Ron Klein, State Attorney Dave Aronberg and former Commissioner Burt Aaronson.

Aaronson was term-limited as a commissioner in 2012 but remains an influential figure in south-county Democratic politics. He has been a key supporter of former Republican Crist, vouching for him to Democratic clubs and frequently serving as his chauffeur.

Chauffeur duties have been put on hold, said Aaronson, who said doctors have told him not to drive long distances. He got a ride to the Kravis Center today with Boca Raton Councilman Robert Weinroth.

Aaronson and former state Sen. Steve Geller.

“This is too important of an election for me to only worry about myself,” Aaronson said.

Former Democratic state Sen. Steve Geller, a key Crist ally in Broward County, was also at the Kravis Center for Crist’s speech.

“This is Palm Beach, not Broward. It’s your duty to watch him, not mine,” Geller joked to Aaronson.

Charlie Crist: Reporter George Bennett tweets from the Forum Club

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Palm Beach Post Staff

Follow Post politics writer George Bennett’s live tweets from the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is the featured speaker about noon, and where Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the running mate of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, plans to be available to respond.


Crist to speak at Forum Club, Lopez-Cantera to be on hand for instant comment

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by George Bennett

Carlos Lopez-Cantera, giving a no vote as state House majority leader in 2011, could reprise his thumbs-down role today when he attends Charlie Crist's speech at the Forum Club. (Florida House of Representatives photo)


Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who’s now the leading Democratic contender for the job, will speak to a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch at the Kravis Center today.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign is making sure that whatever Crist says won’t go unanswered.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera will attend “and will be available to reporters following the event,” according to an advisory from Scott’s re-election campaign.

Follow @gbennettpost on Twitter beginning around noon for real-time updates.

Gov. Scott, former Gov. Martinez, 2006 Dem governor nominee Davis all on hand for business confab

Monday, April 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Not the Blue Man Group at Palm Beach County Convention Center but Gov. Rick Scott in odd lighting at a business gathering.


WEST PALM BEACH — After failing to persuade Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to enter the governor’s race this year, former U.S. Rep. and 2006 Democratic nominee for governor Jim Davis says he’s not ready to endorse either of the leading Democrats vying to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — who defeated Davis in the 2006 election — is favored to win the Democratic primary over former state Sen. Nan Rich.

“I spent a lot of time talking with Sen. Nelson because we need a strong governor to lead this state and unite this state,” Davis, a Tampa attorney, said while attending the Palm Beach Strategic Forum at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Davis said he hasn’t endorsed Crist or Rich because “I’m still coming off the Sen. Nelson effort.”

Former Rep. Ron Klein (left) and former Gov. Bob Martinez (center) repping Holland & Knight at the convention center.

Davis, former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez and former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein — all members of the Holland & Knight law firm — were on hand for the international business gathering.

Scott spoke briefly in the morning, touting job growth and a drop in unemployment in the state since he took office.

Martinez, who was governor from 1987 to 1991, said the economy should be a plus for Scott.

“The state’s doing real well economically. We weathered the storm as well and without incurring operational deficits. So basically speaking he’s got a real good platform to run from,” Martinez said.

Martinez, Florida’s only governor of Hispanic descent, was asked about the GOP’s poor standing with Hispanic voters.

“It’s sometimes a matter of communication,” Martinez said. “I don’t think there’s that much difference in policy. Sometimes it’s how you communicate policy. Sometimes it’s how you express your views. And I think there the party can do better in terms of explaining what we stand for and when there’s a difference of opinion not to be using hot-button words to describe differences, which too often, unfortunately, that’s done.”

Bill signing or pep rally, Scott signs auto fee cut into law

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by John Kennedy

Motorist fee cut by Gov. Rick Scott freighted with election-year politics

In an event with overtones of a campaign pep-rally, Rick Scott signed into law Wednesday legislation rolling back motorist fees by almost $400 million, reversing a 2009 increase the governor tied to his predecessor and likely re-election opponent, Charlie Crist.

Scott, who made the fee-cut the top item on his wish list to lawmakers this spring, blamed Crist for the “tax increase” and said the bill would “right the wrong” of the hike.

The legislation will save motorists between $20 and $25, depending on the size of their vehicles. The fee hikes were signed into law by Crist in 2009, part of a $2.2 billion package of tax and fee increases designed to plug holes in a recession-strapped state budget.

Joining Scott at the bill-signing were House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and leaders of three statewide business associations, whose statements all pivoted around crediting the governor for re-igniting the state’s economy.

While all found a way to condemn the fee hike, most critics have a checkered history with the boost. Scott’s own lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, was a House member who, like all but one Republican member of the Legislature, voted for the tax-and-fee increases that year. But on Wednesday, he called it “just another burden approved by the previous administration.”

Senate Democrats in 2009 supported the fee increase, but seven — including Nan Rich, Crist’s rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination — later voted against the budget. All 43 House Democrats that year voted against the fee increase.

“It’s about time,” Crist said of Scott’s bill-signing. “When these fees were passed by Rick Scott’s colleagues and signed into law they were never meant to be permanent. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Governor Scott to realize that it’s time to roll these fees back – better late than never.”

Scott, though, defended his timing.

“We’ve been turning around our economy,” Scott said. “Look at the investments we’ve made in education: A billion-dollars two years in a row, we gave the teachers an opportunity for a pay raise last year, and we continue to fund education this year…look at the money we’re putting into the environment….transportation. This state is heading in the right direction. There’s still more work to do every day.”

The legislation (CS/SB 156) reduces many of the myriad of fees Floridians face when registering a vehicle or motor home, or seek duplicate documents or transfers. The changes would take effect Sept. 1, and would remove $309 million from the state treasury next year and $395 million-a-year after that.

Democrat Crist to speak and sign books at Forum Club; appeared as Republican non-author in 2009

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by George Bennett

Crist

Former Gov. Charlie Crist will speak and sign books at an April 14 Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch at the Kravis Center.

Crist has appeared at the Forum Club before, but this will be his first time as a Democrat. He’s the Democratic frontrunner for the nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Scott in November.

Crist spoke to the nonpartisan luncheon society in January 2009 as Florida’s Republican governor. Foreshadowing his eventual split with the GOP, Crist in that appearance expressed optimism about the Democratic stimulus package taking shape in Washington under recently inaugurated President Barack Obama.

Crist was also scheduled to speak to the club in 2010 as a no-party candidate for U.S. Senate in a debate with Democratic Senate nominee Kendrick Meek. But Crist pulled out the day before because of a union picket of the Kravis Center. Meek also canceled.

Tickets for Crist’s speech are $35 for Forum Club members; $45 for guest tickets ordered by members; $45 for club applicant; and $60 for the general public. For tickets, call Forum Club Administrator Wendy Norris: (561) 881-9977. Mail checks to: P.O. Box 14877, North Palm Beach, FL 33408.

After the speech, Barnes & Noble will hold a book sale and signing of Crist’s book The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.

Democrats chide Scott even after state drops plans for voter purge

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by John Kennedy

The Gov. Rick Scott administration’s decision Thursday to drop a controversial plan to remove noncitizens and other ineligible voters from state rolls drew revived attacks from Democrats who had long opposed the effort dubbed Project Integrity.

“This was a mistake from the beginning, and part of a pattern of throwing up roadblocks for Floridians attempting to hold government accountable,” said Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor turned Democrat, who is Scott’s leading re-election rival.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant said, “”While this move is clearly an act of damage-control from a campaign in chaos, this represents a major victory for the people of Florida who have suffered so many voter suppression efforts under the Rick Scott administration.”

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Thursday that he was delaying plans to conduct the voter review before this year’s election because of technical issues  involving the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SAVE list — the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements.

Minority organizations and voter rights groups for months have been urging Scott’s office to drop the review, accusing the governor of trying to shed black- and Hispanic-voters from state rolls.

Detzner, though, said the decision was only made after Homeland Security officials began revamping the data base in an effort not expected to be finished until next year.

 

 

Digital duel: Crist and Scott release new online ads while Scott has TV to himself

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by George Bennett

Charlie Crist’s new digital ad (above) and Rick Scott’s latest online offering (below).

With Republican Gov. Rick Scott already spending $4 million on statewide TV buys, Democrat Charlie Crist countered today by spending “thousands of dollars” on a digital ad that attacks Scott and defends the federal health care law.

Scott released a new digital ad as well today, this one featuring a 20-year-old cancer patient who says Scott “supports people like me” by backing funding for cancer research. The Republican Party of Florida says the new Facebook ad is “part of a more than $350,000 buy to promote Governor Scott’s message” in addition to his spending on TV.

(more…)

Official event, political gaggle: Scott to rip Crist on tuition in Tampa

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 by George Bennett

Gov. Rick Scott to visit Tampa for official event, political shot at Charlie Crist.

Gov. Rick Scott‘s official schedule for today includes a 2 p.m. “college affordability roundtable” at a high school in Tampa.

Scott’s re-election campaign this morning sent out advance notice that Scott will “swing at Charlie Crist on tuition hikes” at the high school. The campaign even offered a “sneak peek” at what the Republican governor will say about his likely Democratic rival, who was once a Republican governor himself.

So is the Tampa visit an official event or a political one?

Both.

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz confirmed the college affordability roundtable is an official event.

Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair said the scripted Crist-bashing will be separate.

“He will deliver those remarks at a gaggle afterward,” Blair said.

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp called it a “two-step: the taxpayers pay and Scott advances his re-election.”

Lopez-Cantera says ‘no basis’ for claim Scott staffers used Mexican accents

Monday, March 24th, 2014 by George Bennett

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera said today there is “no basis” for a Miami Herald report that staffers for Gov. Rick Scott‘s re-election campaign joked in a “cartoon-style Mexican accent” while heading to an event at a Mexican restaurant in Coral Gables.

The incident was cited as one of the frustrations expressed by health care executive Mike Fernandez before resigning as Scott’s finance chairman last week. With Scott and Republicans trying to improve upon the GOP’s dismal standing with Hispanic voters, Democrats pounced on the report over the weekend.

Lopez-Cantera participated in a conference call with reporters this morning to tout a new $2 million statewide TV ad purchase by the pro-Scott “Let’s Get To Work” committee that hits likely Democratic rival Charlie Crist for supporting the Affordable Care Act. But the call ended after three reporters asked about Fernandez’ departure and the Mexican-accent controversy.

“Mr. Fernandez left to spend more time with his family,” Lopez-Cantera said in response to a query from PostOnPolitcs.com. “This is a diverse organization that we have here and I am confident that there’s no basis for any of that…This is a diverse organization and we don’t tolerate inappropriate comments and I don’t believe they even happened.”

When a second reporter raised the issue, Lopez-Cantera said: “There is no validity that we can find to any of those comments or what was written.”

When a third reporter asked, Lopez-Cantera said he was there to talk about the new ad and “I have already answered the questions on the other Herald thing.”

A moderator then announced the call was over.

House party time: Obama, Nan Rich visit same Miami Zip code later today

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 by George Bennett

Alonzo Mourning (AP)

Things will be hopping in the village of Pinecrest near Miami later today when Democratic governor candidate Nan Rich visits a “Stand With Nan” house party and President Barack Obama swoops in to attend a $16,200-a-head fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning‘s house.

Rich’s event and the DCCC fundraiser are 1.2 miles apart.

Rich’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, is expected to join Obama during his visit today, though it’s unclear whether he’ll be at the DCCC event near Rich. Obama is also dropping in on a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at an undisclosed location in the Miami area.

“It’s well known that the President and Governor Crist are personal friends. He enjoys spending time with him – will today, and will in the future,” Crist spokesman Kevin Cate said.

Third week of session brings third round of anti-GOP protests

Monday, March 17th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Sara Hutchinson of Catholics for Choice and Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, at Monday's rally.

The opening of the third week of the legislative session brought its third wave of protests Monday, this time featuring organizations attacking what speakers call a continuing attack on women’s health issues by the state’s Republican leaders.

Led by Planned Parenthood and Catholics for Choice, about 50 demonstrators crowded the Capitol Rotunda to condemn the Legislature’s failure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and also for advancing a half-dozen bills which they say undermine abortion rights in Florida.

The abortion bills, which include an outright ban and other measures aimed at raising the standard for fetal viability, have been around for a few years in Florida. Republican leaders have not made the legislation a priority, and it seems unlikely they will become a flashpoint this session.

But the bills remain a rallying point for Democrats looking to ignite voters this fall.

Monday’s rally followed similar events by organized by the NAACP of Florida and other groups the first two weeks of the session, which attacked Republican policies in general and specifically called for repeal of the state’s stand your ground self-defense law.

“We keep seeing the same bills filed and we keep seeing the same bills move,” said Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, among those speaking at Monday’s rally. “The public outside this building is not aware of where Republicans stand when it comes to women’s health care. I think they need a wake-up call.

“We have one more election this year where people might finally get that wake-up call,” he added.

 

Tributes to Askew recall his legacy, tone of leadership

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by John Kennedy

 

Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, dead at 85

Tributes have been pouring in following the death early Thursday of former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, remembered for having brought what one termed “moral leadership” to the state during his years in office.

Askew, a Democrat who served from 1971 to 1979, was 85. He died in Tallahassee.

“Gov. Askew served our nation as a veteran, he served Florida’s families as an elected officeholder, and he served our children as an educator,” said Gov. Rick Scott. “He helped lead Florida to enormous growth and was a trailblazer for good government. His advocacy for Florida’s sunshine laws was a landmark moment for ethics and transparency in government, and that legacy continues to endure.”

Scott ordered flags at public buildings to be placed at half-staff Thursday in Askew’s honor.

Florida Democratic Chair Allison Tant called Askew “a giant of Florida history, whose unparalleled accomplishments for the people of Florida set the example all Floridians elected to public office strive to meet. We will miss his wisdom, his friendship, and his leadership in difficult times.”

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat challenging Scott, said, “Gov. Askew opened up government to the people, allowing our state to be progressive on critical issues like civil rights, education, and ethics. He was a public servant, a teacher of students, and now a lesson of hope and progress forever sketched into the history of our beautiful state. “

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, also said that Askew set a tone that still resonates for today’s state leaders.

“In Governor Askew, Florida has lost a leader who embodied what it means to be a true public servant,” Weatherford said. “Governor Askew leaves behind a legacy of public service that has set the standard for all individuals in elected office today. His tenure includes opening up government and creating new reporting standards for elected officials, which still serve Florida well.”

Florida Republican Chairman Lenny Curry added, “Gov. Askew was an outstanding public servant, upon whose shoulders others have stood to carry on his legacy of good and transparent government.

“He was a family man, an educator, a veteran of our armed forces, and a man of unmatched integrity. We mourn the passing of this great leader, but more importantly, celebrate his life and the way in which he committed it to public service,” Curry said.

 

 

Scott uses State of the State to sound his campaign themes

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 by John Kennedy

In a State of the State speech colored by themes from his re-election campaign, Gov. Rick Scott opened the 2014 Legislature telling lawmakers that the state has clawed back from the depths of the recession but plenty of rebuilding lies ahead.

Scott’s 31-minute address to a joint session of the Legislature reflected on the skyrocketing unemployment, multi-billion dollar budget shortfall and housing crisis he faced when taking office three years ago.

He didn’t directly blame his predecessor, former Gov. Charlie Crist. But Scott made it clear that Crist, now a Democrat challenging Scott for re-election, played a central role in the state’s economic demise.

“They say it doesn’t matter who was running our state – that anyone would have been just a victim of the times. I disagree,” Scott told lawmakers crowded into a House chamber amid desks overflowing with floral arrangements.

“Our leaders especially – and every person in our state – are not simply bystanders in the arena of life, where the hard battles are fought and history is made,” Scott added.

Scott touted a range of policy initiatives for the 60-day session ahead, using invited business leaders, veterans and a Delray Beach teacher seated in the House public gallery to help make his points.

Ruthie Santiago, from Spady Elementary School, continued teaching even while battling breast cancer she has since overcome, Scott said.

“Teachers like Ruthie make Florida schools some of the best in the country,” Scott said.

The governor then urged lawmakers to use the session to continue working on firing the state’s economy, especially the signature $500 million tax and fee cut package he is proposing.

“I am asking you to join with me this session to say to all the people of Florida, we have more work left to do, so let’s keep working,” Scott said.

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