Jan 15 2015

Webster loses speaker bid, wins fans

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., lost a last-minute bid to unseat House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.  But The Hill reports that Webster won some fans — and is receiving praise that echoes the way Webster was widely viewed when he served as Florida House speaker and as a state senator. Here is a link to The Hill report.

The News Service of Florida

Jan 6 2015

Supreme Court action still possible as gay marriages start

As same-sex couples go to courthouses across Florida to get marriage licenses, the U.S. Supreme Court could still weigh in about the constitutionality of state bans on gay marriage. The Washington Post reports that justices will meet in private Friday to consider whether to take up the issue from cases in other states. Here is a link to the Post story.

The News Service of Florida

Jan 4 2015

Rubio: Presidential decision doesn’t hinge on Jeb

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has long faced speculation about whether he will run for president if former Gov. Jeb Bush gets in the race. But in an interview with The New York Times magazine, Rubio made clear he won’t make a decision based on Bush’s plans.

If I don’t run, it won’t be because Jeb is running,” Rubio said during the interview. “Maybe if you’re going to run for county commissioner or to be on the Mosquito Abatement Board or something like that, you may not want to run against a friend of yours.”

Here is a link to the New York Times interview.

The News Service of Florida

Nov 12 2014

Demographics pose big challenge to Florida GOP in presidential politics

Florida Republicans celebrated big victories last week, re-electing Gov. Rick Scott and all three Cabinet members and widening their already-huge lead in the state House. But Bloomberg Politics reports that demographic changes could make Florida even harder for Republicans to win in presidential elections. Here is a link to the Bloomberg story.

The News Service of Florida

Nov 6 2014

GOP wins could doom Medicaid expansion

As he tried to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Democrat Charlie Crist frequently called for expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

But with Scott and other GOP candidates winning gubernatorial races Tuesday, the chances of Medicaid expansion dimmed in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas, according to Kaiser Health News.

“No one would say it was a good night for the prospects of Medicaid expansion,”  Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, told Kaiser Health News.

Here is a link to the Kaiser Health News story.

The News Service of Florida

Aug 20 2014

Other Dems don’t share Crist’s embrace of Obama

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist has made clear he would be glad to campaign with President Obama. But some other Democrats are keeping their distance from Obama as they face tough election campaigns, according to The Hill. Here is a link to the story.

The News Service of Florida

Aug 8 2014

Day faces RNC challenge

Sharon Day, a longtime Florida Republican leader, faces a challenge as she seeks re-election as co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, The Hill reported. The challenge is coming from RNC Secretary Demetra DeMonte. Here is a link to The Hill report.

The News Service of Florida

May 12 2014

Rick Scott: In His Own Words

By Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott answered five questions from reporters today at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Orlando. The Q-and-A lasted 2 minutes and 25 seconds, not including Scott’s intro.

How are we better prepared?
RS: Well, we have a very good emergency management team. These hurricane conferences, the governor’s hurricane conference, helps make sure that we do the right things. We learn from every disaster. So that’s a positive. We’ve built a good relationship with FEMA. But the real key is you. So the key is are you going to get prepared. Are you going to make sure that you’ve got food and water, three days of food and water. Are you going to have a first aid kit. Are you going to have flashlights. Are you going to make sure you follow the weather. All of these things are going to be important.

You’ve got a decision to make on the Charlotte’s Web bill. Have you had a chance to read the bill yet? And if you haven’t made a decision yet, just tell me about your thought processes about whether or not to sign that one.
RS: Well, as a parent and a grandparent, I always worry about any family making sure that if they’re suffering from something to make sure that they get the health care they need. So my goal in that is to make sure it’s safe for children. If I don’t sign that bill, I worry about all these children making sure they get the health care they need.

Can you give us an update on the gaming compact negotiations?

RS: Sure. We’re going to take the right amount of time. The Seminole compact expires next year. We’re going to take the right amount of time, make sure we get the right deal for the taxpayers of the state, and that’s what we’re going to do.

Do you plan on signing the hit-and-run bill?
When the bill hits my desk, I’ll review it.

(Last one, guys)
A pretty impassioned plea at the trooper’s funeral on the speed limit bill. Have you made a decision on that one?
RS: First of all, what a great guy. You’re heart goes out to that family, to Chelsea Richard. That’s our 21st, I think, law enforcement that died in the line of duty by car accidents and 16 in violent acts. But there was one of the troopers got up to talk about Chelsea. He was supposed to read a poem, and talked about his concern about speed limits. So I’ll review that bill but…what a…what a…He cared. You know, you could tell he cared. And Trooper Richard’s family, what a wonderful family. We need to really thank our law enforcement. They show up all the time in tough situations. We’ve lost some law enforcement here, right here in the Orlando area. Two this year, and your heart goes out to them.
Thanks everybody.

NOTE TO IHOW FANS: Dear readers, we regret our lapses during the session that just ended. As pledged, we provide a sometimes-not-always transcription of the governor’s gaggles. Hopefully, we’ll be able to be more consistent now that things are quieter in the Capitol.

The News Service of Florida

May 8 2014

The Donald not pleased with Rick Scott

By Dara Kam

DJT_Headshot_V2_biggerA grumpy Donald Trump took to Twitter to air his dissatisfaction with Gov. Rick Scott this morning, blasting Scott for a purported “deal” with the Seminole Tribe of Florida floated a few weeks ago.

“Wow, looks like @FLGovScott wants to hand over the State of Florida to the Seminole Indians w/ the terrible gaming deal in talks! #sayfie,” Trump tweeted to his 2.6 million followers at 9:16 a.m.

“Thought @FLGovScott was a better negotiator—the Seminole Indian gaming deal is a disaster for Florida. #sayfie,” the Donald went on.

Trump’s caustic comments are, um, a bit awkward for lobbyist Brian Ballard, who represents Trump and is heavily involved in Scott’s re-election effort. Trump is one of several out-of-state operators trying to convince lawmakers to open up the state to (non-tribal) casinos.

Scott is renegotiating a portion of a current gambling compact, signed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010, that gave the Seminoles “exclusive” rights to blackjack at seven of its Florida locations in exchange for a minimum of $1 billion over five years. That part of the 2010 deal expires on Aug. 1, 2015. The Seminoles have so far exceeded their minimum payments to the state.

But Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s shuttle diplomacy in the penultimate week of the legislative session that ended on Friday helped blow up a possible agreement with the tribe.

Lopez-Cantera, along with Scott’s general counsel Pete Antonacci and COS Adam Hollingsworth, had floated the idea of a special session in mid-May so lawmakers could sign off on the compact.

But gambling lobbyists and many lawmakers viewed the deal as too friendly to the tribe. Scott had considered allowing the Seminoles to open more casinos — including one on a 50-acre property owned by the tribe in Fort Pierce — and add roulette and craps to some of their existing facilities. The tribe also could have expanded its Broward County operations as well as its facility in Brighton. The price tag? A guarantee of $2.5 billion over seven years, which is higher than the Seminoles’ current $250 million minimum annual obligation.

Word on the street now is that Scott’s given up on sealing a deal with the tribe until after the November election.

The News Service of Florida

May 6 2014

Charlie Crist: I Didn’t Leave the GOP to Dodge Marco Rubio

By Brandon Larrabee

When then-Gov. Charlie Crist decided to bolt the Republican Party is April 2010 — amid a heated GOP primary with Marco Rubio for a U.S. Senate nomination — his remarks included this allusion to the state of the race, where it looked like Crist was headed for defeat:

“I could’ve chosen to stay in the primary. But frankly, for me, it’s your decision,” Crist said. “It’s not one club’s decision or the other. Or even a club within that club … We go straight to November, and it’s your decision to make.”

Now, in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Crist is saying that a likely loss in the GOP primary had nothing to do with the change:

CRIST: When I saw what was happening with the Republican Party, Jeb Bush said it better than anybody could say it, he said it better than I could: They’re perceived now as being anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-education, anti-environment, you know, I just wasn’t comfortable and being honest with myself and my core beliefs, I couldn’t stay.

RAMOS: But that’s not why you left the Republican Party, right?

CRIST: Yes, it is. Yes, it is.

RAMOS: You left the Republican Party because you were going to lose to Marco Rubio.

CRIST: No, I left the Republican Party because Republican leadership went off the cliff. I mean, they’re so hard right now, they won’t cooperate with the president on anything. I mean, it’s very disappointing and very discouraging. But I’m an optimist. It’s going to get better.

RAMOS: I understand, but the moment in which you decided just to leave the Republican Party, it was because you were going to lose to Marco Rubio.

CRIST: No, it was because I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African American president, I’ll just go there. Because I was a Republican and I saw the activists and what they were doing; it was intolerable to me. As I told you before, my mother and father taught my three sisters and me to treat everybody well. We’re all children of God. And I saw how the party, some of them, were treating the African-American president. And I couldn’t take it anymore. That’s a big part of what I left the party.

Later in the interview, Ramos asks Crist why he didn’t support in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants as governor. The exchange got testy as Ramos repeatedly pressed Crist on his position change.

CRIST: I support it today, and I’ll tell you why –

RAMOS: But you didn’t before.

CRIST: … I agreed with you [about not supporting it before]. The point is, we have to do what’s right for America and we have to do what’s right for Florida in my case today and going forward. The president had a great slogan in the campaign, right toward the end: Forward. This is about forward. There’s three moments in time, Jorge: The past, the present and the future. This is a race about the future. Most elections are. And that’s what I’m focused on, because I’m an optimist and I’m ready for it.

RAMOS: But what happened then — before. You didn’t support in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, and now you do.

CRIST: It was difficult. I was a Republican. And the Republicans didn’t like it. and I really felt like a square peg –

RAMOS: So you were supporting the party-line?

CRIST: May I? May I?


CRIST: I really felt like a round peg in a square hole, and so, you know, would try to be a good team player. And it wasn’t always comfortable for me. I’m just being very honest with you. But now that I’m liberated, as a Democrat, my true soul is able to be seen, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

An RPOF spokeswoman quickly shot out a link to the footage (it appeared in this reporter’s inbox before the Fusion press release on the interview). Here’s a clip:

You can view the full interview here, or Tuesday night on “AMERICA with Jorge Ramos, which airs at 10 p.m. ET on Fusion.

The News Service of Florida