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Common Core opponents to crash Scott Hobe Sound fund-raiser

Friday, March 7th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Opponents of the Common Core Standards set to govern Florida classrooms next fall plan to rally outside a fund-raiser Gov. Rick Scott has planned for Sunday in Hobe Sound.

Scott will be collecting campaign cash at the home of Amin Khoury, CEO of B/E Aerospace, Inc., of Wellington. The $500-a-ticket barbecue, $3,000 if you want to share a roundtable discussion with the governor, will help fuel the governor’s re-election campaign.

But also on hand plan to be a handful of demonstrators from Florida Parents Against Common Core and other groups, urging Scott to “pause” the state’s participation in the nationwide testing standard.

Common Core critics also are frustrated by how Republican leaders in the Legislature have also stalled action on legislation (HB 25, SB 1316) aimed at stopping the standards from being used at least until a host of conditions are met, including statewide public hearings.

Common Core has been condemned as a government takeover of education by tea party groups, but opponents also have gained support from some on the left who see it as setting the stage for more teaching-to-the-test.

“Parents and Republicans want Common Core ‘paused’ for further review,” said organizers Laura Zorc of Vero Beach and Allison Rampersad, a Lynn University business professor and leaders of the FPACC.

“It was never voted on the way it stands now. It was implemented without parent say or representation from our local representatives,” they added.

 

Follow tweets from Sen. Ted Cruz’s event in Sarasota

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 by Palm Beach Post Staff

Follow George Bennett’s tweets on U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he speaks to an expected crowd of at least 1,000 in Sarasota.


Kinder, gentler GOP in FL?

Saturday, January 5th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Florida Republicans want to get back to basics after losing the presidential race, four congressional seats and super-majorities in both the state House and the state Senate in November.

And, mirroring national Republicans’ post-election introspection, Florida GOP leaders say they need to change their tone to broaden their appeal.

“It’s got to reinvent itself,” said Tom Slade, said of the Republican Party of Florida, which he chaired for three consecutive terms until 2000 and ushered in an era of GOP dominance.
Elected officials, state party staff and consultants repeatedly point back to Republican icon Ronald Reagan even as they look forward to instituting high-tech methods to spread the message of a softer, gentler GOP.

For some — including Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry — that means moving away from hot-button social issues such as abortion and refocusing on the principles of lower taxes and smaller government that earned broad support in a state where voters are almost evenly split between the parties.

“The Republican Party I grew up in is the party of Reagan. That was, ‘it’s morning in America, the shining city on the hill.’ It’s about optimism and it’s about hope. And for whatever reason, we have allowed folks that maybe aren’t even our party to poison the well. And somehow we’ve gotten this reputation that we’re ‘the party of ‘no,’ and that’s just not true,” Curry said. “That’s just not the party that I fell in love with.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Senate launches website for public input on ObamaCare

Monday, December 10th, 2012 by John Kennedy

After resisting the federal health care overhaul for months, Florida’s ruling Republicans are reluctantly warming to the idea that it is not going to be repealed.

Senate President Don Gaetz said Monday that his chamber has established a website for Floridians to track legislative action on the Affordable Care Act and to offer input. The site is:  http://www.flsenate.gov/topics/ppaca.

“The new portion of the Senate website was created to serve as a centralized location for interested parties to watch meetings, read bills and share their viewpoints with the committee,” said Gaetz, R-Niceville, who announced the website’s debut along with Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of a Senate select committee working on the state’s implementation of the ACA.

The first meeting of the select committee drew a host of tea party protesters, who urged that the Legislature continue to resist the federal law — insisting that it’s unconstitutional. Gaetz and Negron dismissed the criticism.

Among the initial tasks facing lawmakers is how to create required health exchanges, the online marketplaces where Floridians would obtain health insurance once the program is in place in 2014, and whether to expand state Medicaid coverage.

‘Nullifers’ revolt creates tea party divide

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A group of tea party organizations is apologizing for what they called “disrespectful and inappropriate behavior by some conservative activists at a Senate committee meeting earlier this week.

Leaders of more than a dozen Florida-based tea party groups – including Palm Beach County Tea Party’s Pam Wohlschlegel – signed off on a letter sent the apology to senators today while asking lawmakers not to create a state-based health insurance exchange. That was the issue that drove dozens of tea partiers led by lawyer KrisAnne Hall, who later got into it with Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. Hall and others were demanding the state “nullify” the federal health care act, upheld this summer by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Our compatriots were responding from an over-abundance of passion for freedom. They were spontaneously trying to participate in a process that has been frustrating and opaque for years and their response was not pre-meditated and not intended to interfere in your process,” the leaders wrote today. “However, speaking over a sitting Senator who is using his allotted time to represent his constituents is unacceptable. We cannot allow basic rules of civil conduct to be violated and we will endeavor to ask our fellow patriots to respect the process in ways we ask to be respected as well. We stand ready to assist you in your efforts to protect the natural rights of Floridians protected by the Florida and U.S. constitution to life, liberty and property.”

Some of the tea partiers at the Senate committee’s Monday meeting interrupted and booed Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. Smith pointed out that the U.S. Constitution is an “imperfect document” that had to be amended to do away with slavery.

Gaetz further angered Hall with a history lesson about Andrew Jackson that included a reference about shooting and hanging Civil War-era “nullifiers” that launched an Internet firestorm.

Scott’s latest proposed corp tax cut draws ire of Democrats

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott told a business gathering Thursday that he intends to push next year for another cut in the state’s corporate income tax, a $2.1 billion levy that has drawn the wrath of companies and tea party groups.

Scott would raise an existing $50,000 exemption from the tax to where companies would not have to pay until they owe $75,000 in tax. It would remove another 2,000 businesses from the corporate tax rolls, the Republican governor said.

“I’ve made a commitment to the people of Florida to eliminate the business tax over seven years – and over the past two years we have been able to eliminate the tax for more than 75 percent of businesses that fall under it,” Scott said Thursday, after announcing his plan at a National Association of Realtors convention in Orlando.

“Everything  we do must be tied to helping families get jobs, and eliminating this tax will ensure more small businesses can hire people,” Scott said.

Florida Democrats don’t see it that way  — and ridiculed Scott for ignoring themes emerging from Tuesday’s elections.

“On election night, the people of Florida sent a clear message that they have rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s failed priorities and policies which have slashed funding for our public schools while giving hand outs to the corporate special interests who
epitomize the broken politics of Tallahassee,” said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. “But Governor Rick Scott apparently didn’t get the message: announcing today that he will hand out even more of our tax dollars in special interests giveaways instead of investing in middle class families.”

But the proposal ignited a vigorousback-and-forth between the parties, with Republicans ridiculing the rival party for ignoring Obama’s own support for reducing the federal corporate income tax rate.

The state GOP called Scott’s approach a  “middle-class tax cut for small business owners.”

“It took less than 48 hours for the Democratic Party to abandon one of Barack Obama’s most important campaign promises,” said Mike Grissom, executive director of the Florida Republican Party.

 

 

Bar presidents close ranks behind three justices

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Three Florida Supreme Court justices, targeted for ouster by some conservative activists, flexed some political muscle Wednesday by announcing they’ve got the backing of 23 former Florida Bar presidents.

The lineup of lawyers signed a resolution critical of what they labeled as an attempt to politicize the state’s high court. They also conceded that voters have a poor understanding of merit retention, which Justices Peggy Quince, Fred Lewis and Barbara Pariente face in November.

The three justices, the last appointed by a Florida Democratic governor, are being opposed by a tea party-linked political committee called Restore Justice 2012, which cast the justices as a liberal-leaning bloc.

The campaign is seeking to make the trio the first Florida justices ever ousted in a merit retention campaign. The three justices – combined – have already raised more than $1 million for their campaigns, virtually all of it coming from lawyers and law firms.

In merit retention, justices don’t face-off against an opponent. Instead,  voters get to decide, “yes” or “no,” on whether a justice should be given another six-year term.

“Voters need to send a message that politics has no place on the bench.  A vote ‘yes’ for retention sends that message loud and clear,” said former Florida Bar President Howard Coker.

Americans for Prosperity launches ’5 for Florida’ campaign

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by John Kennedy

A conservative group Friday said it is launching an election-year campaign aimed at getting political candidates to endorse dramatic changes to Florida’s public pension plans, its tax system and education.

Slade O’Brien, Florida director for Americans for Prosperity, said the organization will ask the public and those running for office this year to commit to promoting its “Five for Florida,” plan.

The five issues highlighted will make Florida the “most attractive state in the nation for families, businesses and entrepreneurs,” said O’Brien, who is based in Boca Raton.

The plan is posted on www.FiveforFlorida.com. A questionnaire seeking support for the proposals also is being sent to candidates. Results are to be posted on the AFP site. 

AFP, which is supported in the project by the James Madison Institute, is calling for ending the state’s corporate income tax — a move O’Brien said will attract businesses. It would also create a level playing field for businesses when balanced with an end to corporate tax breaks and incentives.

 AFP said Florida’s current tax policy is “dictated by cronyism.”

“Floridians are really clamoring for politicians who will be honest with them,” O’Brien said.

Another plank in ”Five for Florida,” would steer all new employees in the Florida Retirement System into 401(k)-style investment plans, away from the state’s traditional pension plan. The FRS recently received strong marks from the Pew Center on the States, but the groups Friday still warned that the fund is not adequately financed and looms as a potential problem for taxpayers.

Municipal pension plans, which are generally in worse shape than the FRS, also should push new workers into the investment plans to assure longterm solvency, said O’Brien and J. Robert McClure, president and CEO of the James Madison Institute.

McClure said the proposals included in “Five for Florida,” are “another tool in the toolbox for freedom.”

 Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots activist organization, was founded by Charles Koch and part-time Palm Beacher David Koch, billionaire brothers who back of a host of conservative causes and whose Koch Industries is an oil services company.

AFP also is a mainstay of the tea party movement, which was a big supporter of Gov. Rick Scott in his 2010 election.

The pension overhaul and elimination of  the state’s corporate income tax, which brings $1.8 billion into the state treasury, have also been advanced by Scott.

Other provisions of the platform unveiled Friday include a call for expanding charter schools and virtual education, and bringing more public scrutiny to state contracting and permitting at all levels of government. If the changes limit revenue flowing into public coffers, that’s OK, O’Brien said.

“We don’t want government to grow,” he said.

Scott pumps up tea partiers, digs in over voter purge

Sunday, June 10th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott pumped up a conservative crowd at a Tea Party Express event in the Capitol city Sunday afternoon, urging the activists to help him gain support for a controversial non-citizen voter purge now in federal court.

Wearing khakis, a blue button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and his signature custom-made cowboy boots, Scott defended the purge and enlisted their aid getting President Obama’s administration to cooperate by granting access to a federal immigration database.

“Okay so the latest is who should get to vote in our state and in our country. People that are citizens of our country. It’s very simple, right? Who comes up with the idea that you get to vote if you’re not a citizen?” Scott asked near the end of a 15-minute speech at the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum.

Scott explained that his administration unsuccessfully tried to get Homeland Security to give Florida access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or “SAVE,” database the states are supposed to be allowed to use to check voter IDs, among other things.

“That database is obligated to be given to us and it says it’s for voter registration. Go look at it. It’s the SAVE database from Homeland Security. It’s our right to get that data. For whatever reason, they decided not to give it to us. Can you imagine why?” Scott said. “So we have to, you have to, demand that Homeland Security does their job. I’m going to continue to stand up for your right. I do not want one person’s vote in this state diluted by somebody that doesn’t have the right to vote.”

Scott’s office on Friday released a document showing that 86 individuals were removed from the voter rolls since Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent a list of about 2,600 potential non-citizen voters to elections supervisors in April. The error-riddled list turned out to include the names of Floridians who were naturalized citizens and one decorated World War II veteran. The state department contends that 46 of those people – about one-third of one percent – voted in previous elections. But a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times review found that only six of those had cast ballots.

The purge has created a national firestorm and partisan split.

Scott remained steadfastly committed to the purge on Sunday.

“Here’s what we know. We know that people are on our voter rolls that don’t have a right to vote. We know that. We know that people have voted that don’t have a right to vote. We know that. How many races should be decided by somebody that doesn’t have the right to vote. Not one. Not one. Not one person should have the right to vote that doesn’t have the right to vote. That is wrong and it is a crime,” he said.

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder’s office last month told Scott to stop the scrub, saying it appeared to violate two federal laws. The federal “motor voter” law prohibits states from doing purges 90 days before an election. That deadline passed May 16 for Florida’s Aug. 14 primary. And Friday the ACLU and others sued Scott’s administration over the purge, asking a federal court to put a stop to it until the Justice Department weighs in.

But a defiant Scott instructed the tea partiers to contact “everybody that’s involved” and demand that the state get access to SAVE, adding that he’s not backing down. The ACLU and others sued Scott’s administration on Friday, asking a federal court to stop the purge until the Justice Department weighs in.

“It’s not going to be easy. I need your support. You need to go out there and let everybody know that this is wrong.”

Scott said later he is considering suing the Obama administration over its refusal to grant permission to use the database.

“I’ll decide over the next few days what we’re going to do. But I’m going to defend our right to vote. I care about every individual’s right to vote. I don’t want it diluted by somebody else’s vote,” he told reporters after the event.

During his speech, Scott repeatedly urged the tea partiers to put their grassroots activism to use over the purge.

“Your job is to make sure those individuals do their job. Call them. Do what you’ve done to me. I think last week I got 5,000 e-mails. E-mail me. Call. And call everybody else…I’m going to do my job. I’m going to make sure that happens,” he said.

In her introduction of Scott, Tea Party Express co-founder Amy Kremer also riled up the anti-Obama administration crowd over the purge, calling it part of an effort by Democrats to “steal” elections.

“If the Democrats cannot win it fair and square, they will steal it. They have done it before. We cannot let them take this away from us,” she said.

The battle over the voter vetting is on hold in Florida as the state’s 67 elections supervisors have said they will not continue the process until the issue is straightened out between Scott and the Obama administration or the courts. The elections supervisors are the only ones who have the ability to actually remove voters from the rolls.

Scott said he’s confident the supervisors will do the right thing.

“They got elected. They know their job. They have an obligation. My job is to enforce the law that I’m responsible for. They have an obligation to enforce their laws. They’re not supposed to allow anybody to vote that doesn’t have a right to vote,” he said Sunday. “They’re going to do the right thing. They’re doing the right thing. Not one person has been kicked off a voter roll that has a right to vote. But we do know people have voted. We do know people are on the voter rolls that don’t have a right to vote.”

Scott, whose popularity among Florida voters remains lackluster, told reporters he appeared at the event to help get voters primed for the November elections.

“Just to energize the vote. Get people out. Let people know this election’s important. Every election’s important. You always hear that this election’s the most important one. But elections are important. They have an impact. If you want to change the direction of the state, the country, you’ve got to show up,” he said.

Weak tea: Allen West ranks 54th of 87 GOP freshmen on one tea party scorecard

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 by George Bennett

West

U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, is a national tea party celebrity, but the conservative Club For Growth gives him an unimpressive score in a new “Just How Tea Party Are They?” ranking of the GOP’s freshman class.

West ranks 54th out of 87 freshmen for agreeing with the limited-government, supply-side group’s agenda.

As reported earlier this year, West agreed with the Club For Growth on economic and fiscal issues 64 percent of the time in 2011. That compares to a 71 percent score for the average freshman and a 69 percent score for the average Republican House veteran.

West didn’t go along with all the spending cuts the Club For Growth advocated in 2011 and voted for a debt ceiling increase that angered many tea partiers.

Justices push back against call for FDLE probe

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 by John Kennedy

With Gov. Rick Scott still mulling a lawmaker’s request for a law enforcement investigation, supporters of three Florida Supreme Court justices said Thursday no laws were broken when court staff  helped justices file qualifying papers with elections officials.

Attorney Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush before the court following the 2000 presidential election, submitted a legal opinion to Dan Stengle, legal counsel for Justices Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente.

He denied that justices using court employees to notarize filing papers amounts to what opponents call a criminal misdemeanor. State law prohibits candidates from using the services of a public employee during working hours ” in the furtherance of his or her candidacy.”

“The act of affixing a notary seal to qualifying documents does not indicate that the notary endorses the candidacy of the person filing the documents,” Richard wrote. “It simply certifies that the notary has witnessed the signature and has confirmed the identity of the person signing.”

Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, has asked Scott to order the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into the controversy surrounding the justices qualifying.

The issue played out publicly last month. The court took an hourlong recess during arguments in the state Senate redistricting case to allow justices to complete their qualifying papers for merit retention this fall.

With the help of court staff,  the documents were filed with election officials only minutes before the deadline.

Since then, the issue has been seized on by opponents of the three justices, already tarred as a liberal-leaning bloc by a tea party-linked political committee called Restore Justice 2012. The campaign is seeking to make the trio the first Florida justices ever ousted in a merit retention campaign.

Plakon said Thursday that to him, the case was an obvious violation. “Every candidate learns early on, you don’t use your staff for anything political,” Plakon said. “No one should be above the law.”

But Stengle, the justices’ legal counsel, also advanced an additional level of defense. He questioned whether the justices are really candidates.

 “Florida’s district court of appeal judges and Supreme Court Justices are not elected, but appointed through the merit selection process,” Stengle said. “Every six years, they are required by the Florida Constitution to participate in the merit retention process so that citizens of Florida may evaluate their job performance. Any documents that they are required to file by virtue of their positions as appellate judges or justices to qualify for merit retention are part of routine court business.”

 

Jennifer Carroll for vice president?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Star Parker

Syndicated columnist and conservative talking head Star Parker wowed a group of tea partiers in the Capitol this afternoon on the opening day of session before making a recruiting stop at Lt. Gov Jennifer Carroll’s office.

Parker finished her half-hour informal speech with high praise for Carroll, a former state House member and retired Navy office whom Parker said she’s met once before.

“I’m hoping that she is in agreement with all of the ideas of limited size and scope of government because if she is I wanted to rumble out her name as we’re going around the country thinking that we need to find somebody ethnic to be the vice president – Republicans are going to win and all. She would be a better pick, would be my opinion,” Parker said, who met with Carroll for about five minutes, according to Gov. Rick Scott’s staff. Parker was in town briefly and flew into Tallahassee for a South Georgia meeting, she said.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll

“This is a quality person, decorated military, worked her butt off to get to the state House and now as lieutenant governor is the first in the country. We’ve never in this country had a black, conservative, female lieutenant governor. I think that is worth a couple of news stories,” said Parker, a syndicated columnist and FoxNews pundit.

As an added bonus, Parker said, “she’s from one of our critical states.” Florida, of course, is a key swing state in this year’s presidential election.

Rubio opens new office, hears from disgruntled tea partiers

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 by Dara Kam

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is back in the (state) Capitol in a new office more than a dozen floors above his old digs in the Speaker’s office this morning, hours before state lawmakers kick off the 2012 legislative session.

Rubio, a Miami native and former House Speaker who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, said he set up shop in the Capitol to stay close to what’s going on in the state.

“There’s no doubt about it. We don’t want to lose touch with the state. From my experience as the speaker and as a legislator, there are a lot of issues that the state is facing that…overlap with federal issues” including the Everglades and the space program, Rubio said. “I think being here is going to allow us to have a person on the ground especially during the legislative session but throughout the year that’s literally just a few doors away from key decision makers at the state level.”

Rubio shook hands with lobbyists, well-wishers and Capitol staffers but also got an earful from a group of tea partiers unhappy with his votes supporting the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that some critics believe gives the federal government the ability to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens accused of terrorism.

Rubio – whose tea party support helped clinched his U.S. Senate victory – argued that the law does not do that.

“I would never have voted for a bill that allows them to detain innocent American citizens in military tribunals. It’s just not true. We looked at that issue back and forth, left and right, up and down. It’s just not true. I would never support it if it did,” Rubio insisted.

But Paul Henry, a Monticello tea party activist and former state trooper, disagreed.

“What Sen. Rubio’s not aware of is this exact language that’s in there,” Henry said later.

One section of the law reads: “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.”

“But that does not prohibit them (from doing it),” Henry said. “I’m not required to drive a car. I could walk.”

Rubio’s votes disappointed some members of the dozens of tea party groups gathering in the Capitol for the session’s opening day, but they insisted they’re not giving up.

“We helped get the Republicans in the House and they still voted for the debt ceiling. We helped get so-called conservatives get elected and they vote for the Patriot Act. I think you are seeing a lot of widespread discouragement of all the energy spent to get to this point and we still have to go back and tell them what being a conservative means,” said Henry Kelley, a Tea Party Network leader from Fort Walton Beach.

Scott rips feds for not giving Fla Race to the Top dollars

Friday, December 16th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott ripped the Obama administration Friday for rejecting Florida’s application for Race to the Top education dollars, deriding the decision as stemming from the state’s refusal to accept the money “with strings attached.”

Nine states were authorized by federal officials to share $500 million in grant money aimed at accelerating  improvements in early childhood programs. California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington state will get the dollars to make strides in pre-kindergarten education.

Scott said he suspected Florida was turned down because the state did not commit to continuing programs after federal dollars expired — a move he said was aimed at avoiding making state taxpayers pick up the tab for new government services.

 ”When Florida’s application was submitted for the grant in October, we made it clear that we would not accept grant money with strings attached, additional state spending obligations, or requirements that created new burdensome regulations on private providers,” Scott said.

 ” We stuck to our principles, and unfortunately our insistence against irresponsibly using one-time dollars for recurring government programs did not win the favor of the administration in Washington,” he added.

Race to the Top, the centerpiece of Obama’s education policies, has proved a thorny issue for Republicans. In the GOP presidential field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a staunch opponent, while Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, is a fan.

The funding approach also supports many of the early-learning measures promoted by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and state legislative leaders.

Still, Scott defied tea party activists in October when he submitted the state’s application.  But he was lured by the prospect of winning as much as $100 million in federal cash for the state — in a year when he wants to pump-up Florida K-12 spending by $1 billion.

Scott insisted, though, that he wouldn’t go along with federal officials dictating terms for how the state spent the money.

Florida won a $700 million federal grant under the program last year, in its second attempt at landing the cash. But Scott has pushed back millions of dollars in aid tied to Obama’s health care overhaul. The state’s Tea Party Network, also openly demanded in the fall that he steer clear of the Race to the Top effort.

But for all the line-in-the-sand drawing, Scott in September agreed to some conditions in advance of the application.

At Scott’s urging, the Legislative Budget Commission accepted a $3.4 million federal grant under the Affordable Care Act to provide home visiting services to at-risk families. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was among those urging against the move, saying the program’s mission was murky, and he feared it could result in the state facing additional costs.

 

Allen West as ‘nuanced’ rock star

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 by George Bennett

West making one of his many national TV appearances.

Conservative U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, is routinely branded an extremist by Democrats. But Politico.com weighs in today with an article citing West’s departures from tea party orthodoxy on the debt ceiling and other issues as evidence that he has “discovered nuance in politics” and “proved to be more ideologically dynamic and flexible than any of his caricaturists imagined.”

The article also quotes fellow Florida Rep. John Mica describing freshman West as “like a rock star. I’ve been here 19 years, and nobody knows who the hell I am. But everybody knows who he is.”

West apparently likes the article. He posted a link to it on his Facebook page.

“Don’t get too nuanced, Allen,” said one commenter.

Gingrich – on the rise and on the defensive – in Jax today

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 by Dara Kam

With his popularity on the rise, conservative iconoclast Newt Gingrich will address a tea party crowd at The Landing in Jacksonville this afternoon.

The event takes place as Gingrich is on the defensive for his relationship with Freddie Mac. Bloomberg News reported this week that the former U.S. House Speaker earned at least $1.6 million over nearly a decade as a consultant for the beleaguered government-backed mortgage company. His GOP opponents in the presidential primary have hammered Freddie Mac for its role in the mortgage meltdown and the mortgage giant has symbolized for conservatives government overreach.

Gingrich himself has blamed Freddie Mac for the housing collapse.

Meanwhile, Gingrich’s star is on the rise among GOP voters, according to two recent national polls. One poll found that Gingrich has the best chance among GOP voters to defeat President Barack Obama next year. And another showed Gingrich’s popularity jumped 8 points from last month, trailing Mitt Romney by just two percentage points and making the race a statistical dead heat.

The First Coast Tea Party event in Jacksonville begins at 2 p.m. and was moved to riverfront site because of “the size of the event,” according to the Zamar Conference Center, where the gathering was originally scheduled, website.

Will the GOP’s conservative base warm up to Mitt Romney?

Sunday, November 13th, 2011 by George Bennett

Romney

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is always at or near the top of Republican presidential polls in Florida and nationwide. Intrade.com puts the chances of Romney winning the GOP nomination at around 70 percent. He’s the only Republican candidate President Obama‘s supporters have invested any significant time in attacking.

But Romney clearly hasn’t closed the deal with much of the Republican Party’s conservative base.

“Romney still has a lot of work to do to get people behind him if he gets the nomination. They might vote for him, but they won’t work for him,” says Brendan Steinhauser of the tea party-aligned conservative group FreedomWorks.

Others say Republican desire to oust Obama will override any misgivings about Romney.

Read about it by clicking here.

Florida’s undersea world: Occupy Wall Street, tea party, President Obama and Gov. Scott get low marks

Thursday, November 10th, 2011 by George Bennett

Florida voters have unfavorable views of both the conservative tea party movement and left-leaning Occupy Wall Street movement, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

And while Floridians are nearly evenly split when asked if they view President Obama favorably or unfavorably (47 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable), they are decidedly negative in evaluating his job performance and reelection worthiness.

Only 41 percent of Floridians approve of the way Obama is handling his job, with 52 percent disapproving. And by a 51-to-43 percent margin, Florida voters say Obama does not deserve to be reelected next year.

Gov. Rick Scott‘s gets a 36 percent job-approval rating and a 50 percent disapproval. He’s not on the ballot until 2014.

Asked about the tea party movement, 34 percent of Floridians said they have a favorable view and 40 percent said they have an unfavorable view — a 6-point negative spread.

The Occupy movement was viewed favorably by 30 percent and unfavorably by 39 percent — a 9-point negative spread.

The Republican and Democratic parties and GOP presidential contenders Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are also under water in their favorability ratings. Herman Cain‘s score is barely positive, with 36 percent of Floridians saying they view him favorably and 34 unfavorably.

(more…)

Wasserman Schultz comes to Obama’s defense — he’ll win Florida, she tells FOX

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 by John Kennedy

With a new poll Wednesday showing Barack Obama‘s popularity in Florida melting like ice on a July day, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz took to the airwaves in his defense.

On the same day a Quinnipiac University poll showed Floridians disapproving of his performance as president, 57-39 percent, Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida congresswoman, offered a Joe Namath-like guarantee that Florida will remain in Obama’s camp.

“Barack Obama will take my home state of Florida again,”  Wasserman Schultz assured on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends.  She added, “we need the Republicans to stop allowing themselves to be controlled by the extremists in the Tea Party.”

Obama’s popularity in the Sunshine State reached the lowest mark of his presidency in the latest Quinnipiac poll, which as recently as late May found the president drawing a 51-43 percent approval rating from Florida.

Scott, again, says GOP debate should focus on jobs

Monday, September 12th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The Republican presidential field takes part in another debate tonight — this time from Tampa — but Florida Gov. Rick Scott is mostly sticking with the same advice he’s offered for those heading into earlier exchanges.

“I think the biggest question for everybody in the country — if the Democrats were having a debate, it’d be the same same issue — it’d be about jobs. Who’s got the best blueprint for job creation?”  Scott said Monday.

Scott, a big supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also may have attempted to come to the defense of his favorite Republican, who tonight could have to clarify his recent debate comment that Social Security was effectively a “Ponzi scheme,” certain to run out of money. Calls for overhauling Social Security are eyed warily in Florida and other states with heavy senior populations.

“Without jobs, we don’t have any money for any the safety nets we have,” Scott explained. “We can’t afford any of the government programs we have. So it’s about jobs.”

Tonight’s CNN/Tea Party Express debate begins at 8 p.m. on CNN. It will take place at the State Fairgrounds in Tampa. Scott said he plans to watch the talk-a-thon, but won’t attend. He’s traveling Monday in advance of Republican Governors’ Association meetings.

 

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