Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

Rachel Burgin’

It’s a king thing: Senate presidents-in-waiting like predecessor Tom Lee in District 24 race

Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

Senate President-designate Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican in the running to be his successor, are backing former Senate President Tom Lee in a GOP primary to replace Sen. Ronda Storms.

Lee, R-Brandon, served as Senate president in 2005-2006 and prompted the much-hated gift ban that bars lawmakers from accepting gifts, including food and drinks, from lobbyists.

Gaetz issued a “statement of support” for Lee, who’s facing off against state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, in the primary. Storms announced last week she was walking away from her last two years in the Senate would instead run against the GOP incumbent Hillsborough County property appraiser.

The endorsements of Gaetz and Gardiner could boost Lee’s conservative creds in a race against Burgin, another conservative who sponsored some extreme anti-abortion legislation over the past two years. And the backing of the incoming Senate president could give Lee a campaign cash boost as well.

Gardiner’s statement emphasized Lee’s right-leaning history in the chamber.

“During his Senate Presidency, Tom brought to the floor and sent to Governor Bush legislation to permanently repeal the intangibles tax, a tax that punished seniors and savers who sought a better quality of life in Florida. In over ten years in the Senate, Tom personally sponsored Florida’s original parental consent amendment when no one else would, Florida’s ‘Choose Life’ License Plate law, and passed Florida’s landmark parental notification bill as Senate President,” Gardiner said.

And Gaetz lauded Lee as the “strong leader” needed to replace Storms, who got on the wrong side of Senate leaders including Gaetz on a variety of issues, including prison privatization, this year.

“As a former senator and former Senate president, Tom brings solid experience and a track record of real accomplishments to Tallahassee. He will hit the ground running at full speed with the knowledge and skill to help build Florida’s future. Tom Lee will be a leader in the Florida Senate the moment he walks on the floor,” Gaetz said. “Personally, I look forward to working closely with Senator Lee and relying on him for guidance and advice during my years as Senate President.”

Senate surprise: Ronda Storms won’t come back

Friday, May 25th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Republican firebrand Ronda Storms is dropping her state Senate reelection bid and instead will run against embattled Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner.

Storms, a lawyer and former Hillsborough County commissioner, had two years left before she was term-limited out of the Senate. But she said the porn scandal surrounding Turner prompted her to abandon the legislature and instead try to oust her fellow Republican.

“As a Republican I have a responsibility to make sure that he has an opportunity to be held accountable to the Republican voters,” Storms, R-Valrico, said.

Storms’ exit makes her District 10 seat another battleground for a Senate leadership battle between Republicans John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, and Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

Although Storms is a conservative Christian who consistently supported anti-abortion efforts, she bucked Thrasher and other Senate leaders and joined forces with Latvala and moderates on several key issues, and was instrumental in helping to kill a prison privatization effort.

Storms, chairwoman of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Services Committee, has been an ardent advocate for children and a harsh critic of the Department of Children and Families. Among other battles, she has waged a war against the administration over its use of psychotropic medications on youth in state custody. She intensified her scrutiny of the agency in the aftermath of the tragic death of Nubia Barahona, whose adoptive parents are accused with her murder and the abuse of her twin sibling Victor.

Storms said the caustic atmosphere created by the leadership maelstrom over who will succeed incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, contributed to her decision to leave the chamber early.

“I was going to have to find an exit ramp at some point. So this was the point. It would be dishonest for me to say that it hasn’t been difficult to have this swirling tension all the time,” the passionate Storms, adding that “believe it or not, I don’t like conflict,” said.

“It is wonderful to think that I can go in and make changes and be an administrator and manager and say, ‘Here’s the way we’re going to behave’ and carry it out and cause it to happen all from the top without 10 people above your or ahead of you saying ‘no’ or creating dissension,” she said.

Storms said her possible replacements include former Senate President Tom Lee, state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview and Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa.

ALEC quits gun policy, lefties want more

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 by Dara Kam

It isn’t enough that the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, has backed down from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law after spreading it around the country, some left-leaning groups say.

Now they want lawmakers to quit the group as well. Progress Florida has launched a statewide campaign urging its supporters to tell legislators to “disavow the group’s extremist and secretive influence on Florida law making.” Other national groups are urging state lawmakers and more businesses to do the same.

ALEC – the business-backed organization that provides prepackaged bills for lawmakers, many of which have been used by the GOP-dominated Florida legislature – yesterday announced it was discontinuing its “Public Safety” and “Elections” task forces that promoted controversial measures including “Stand Your Ground” and voter ID laws that critics say make it harder for minorities to cast their ballots.

The move came after at least 10 corporations refused to renew their memberships in ALEC, a decades-old organization relatively unknown until the Trayvon Martin shooting thrust ALEC into the national spotlight.

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman claimed he shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense. Florida’s first-in-the-nation, 2005 law allows people to use deadly force when they feel threatened. ALEC pushed Florida’s NRA-backed bill, and about two dozen states have adopted similar laws.

Progress Florida as well as national groups, including Common Cause, complain that the corporations behind ALEC are crafting the model bills then sponsored by state lawmakers.

For example, state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, earlier this year sponsored a memorial urging Congress to cut the federal corporate tax rate.

But the proposal’s first “whereas” clause mistakenly revealed the source of the bill language.

“WHEREAS, it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty,” Burgin’s memorial reads.

(more…)

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives