Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
Florida Political Blogs:
Most Recent Entries
- Scott abandoning stance in favor of Medicaid expansion?
- Bondi’s Democratic challengers trail in fundraising
- Scott files for re-election
- Crist first month total: $3 million
- Gardiner chosen as next Fla. Senate president
- Bondi’s committees now have raised more than $1 million
- First David Jolly ad touts his local ties, but could be fodder for critics
- Sources: Crist’s new campaign manager is gone
- Clark to ignore Detzner absentee directive for D 13 race
- Murman also uncertain about LG job
- Dems cry voter suppression, election supes unhappy, over new absentee rule
- Crist raises first million; Scott now over $25 million
- House and Senate bills would regulate parasailing
- Castor to raise $$ for Sink
- Two candidates left on Gov. Scott’s ‘short list’ for Lt. Gov.
Scott abandoning stance in favor of Medicaid expansion?
Posted Dec 11, 2013 by William March
Updated Dec 11, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Florida Gov. Rick Scott appears to be abandoning his attempt to expand the Florida Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.
Asked in a news conference today in Tampa whether he still thinks the state should accept the federal funding available under the law to offer health insurance coverage to more people through Medicaid, Scott didn’t answer, and criticized the law instead.
Scott said 300,000 Floridians will have their health insurance policies cancelled at the end of this year because of the law, even though the insurer involved, Florida Blue, has announced there will be no cancellations.
“Here’s our concern about the President’s health care law,” he said. “We have 300,000 people in our state that have been told they are going to lose their insurance at the end of the year. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know if they’re going to get it. We don’t know what the costs are going to be.
He gave essentially the same answer in Tallahassee Tuesday, saying policies will be cancelled and, “That’s the biggest issue we’re dealing with right now.”
Asked today whether Scott still favors Medicaid expansion, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said, “Last year the governor laid out what he supported.” Asked whether Scott will try to convince the Legislature in its session next spring to expand the program, Schutz said, “He laid out his vision last year. He said yes and the Legislature said no.”
Asked what actions Scott is planning or considering concerning the policies he said will be cancelled, Schutz sent a copy of a public statement by Scott criticizing the law, saying the statement poses questions “to the White House.”
Scott has long been a hard-line opponent of Obamacare—he began his political career in 2009 by providing the impetus and much of the money for an advertising campaign against the reform proposal.
Despite that, he said last year he favored Florida participating in a key part of the program, which provides states money to offer Medicaid to those just above the poverty line, a step advocacy groups say would help some 1.2 million Floridians who currently have no coverage.
That didn’t sit well with some of Scott’s conservative supporters, and Democrats and others say Scott made no real effort to persuade the state Legislature to comply. The proposal died in the state House, and state House Speaker Will Weatherford has maintained his opposition, most recently in a Jacksonville Times-Union op-ed.
Weatherford contends the federal government can’t be relied on to provide funding for the expansion.
Florida is one of 25 states, most with Republican governors, who have refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Proponents say that refusal means millions of people will be left with little or no access to coverage, even through the subsidized insurance exchanges set up under the ACA, while hospitals will lose federal benefits intended to help them pay for treating the uninsured.
Bondi’s Democratic challengers trail in fundraising
Posted Dec 10, 2013 by James L. Rosica
Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 06:20 PM
The two Democratic challengers to Attorney General Pam Bondi raised a combined $67,376 last month, according to the latest information reported to the state Division of Elections.
But her two fundraising committees have raised more than $1 million, and her traditional campaign finance account on Tuesday posted more than $868,000 in monetary and in-kind contributions and nearly $20,000 in expenditures.
Candidates and committees had a Tuesday deadline to turn in campaign-finance records for November.
George Sheldon, who filed to run on Oct. 21, raised $45,876 and spent nearly $500, records show. His fundraising total is now about $51,800.
Perry Thurston, who filed to run on Nov. 1, raised $21,500 last month and spent about $300.
Sheldon, of Tallahassee, is a former state Department of Children & Families secretary and was acting assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Thurston, of Fort Lauderdale, is Florida House Democratic Leader.
Bondi, the incumbent Republican, is a former Hillsborough County prosecutor and Fox News analyst.
Scott files for re-election
Posted Dec 10, 2013 by William March
Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Gov. Rick Scott has filed papers with the state Division of Elections officially forming his re-election campaign.
In his filing, Scott named accountant Abby Dupree of Tallahassee as his campaign treasurer.
Scott has been fundraising actively for months for his re-election, but not through a formal campaign committee. Instead, he’s been raising money for his independent political committee, Let’s Get to Work.
The committee has raised $5.8 million just in the month of November.
It may not be a coincidence that Scott filed his re-election papers on the same day that his likely Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, filed his first campaign fundraising report, a report showing Crist also had a strong fundraising month, pulling in $3 million for his campaign and his own independent political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida. Though barely more than half Scott’s total, Crist backers say it’s an unprecedented rate of fundraising for a Democrat or for a challenger running against a sitting Florida governor.
Crist first month total: $3 million
Posted Dec 10, 2013 by William March
Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Charlie Crist raised $3 million in campaign money in his first month as a candidate for governor, a total that would be considered remarkable if it weren’t for the comparison to Gov. Rick Scott, who piled $5.8 million into his independent political committee during the same month.
Crist’s backers say the fundraising total is unprecedented for a Democrat or for a challenger to a sitting Florida governor, and should answer questions about whether Crist can raise money as a Democrat as effectively as he once could when he was a Republican.
Details of the contributions records make it seem likely that Scott pulled out all the stops to show a big fundraising total for the month of November, a total sure to get attention because of Crist’s entry into the race.
From his Nov. 4 announcement until the last day of the month, Crist’s independent political committee, Charlie Crist For Florida, raised $2.2 million, while his official campaign committee raised about $800,000 in the same period, according to a source close to the campaign. The campaign financial report will be filed later today, while the independent committee’s contributions are on its web site.
Crist “seems to be setting records for a Democrat running for governor,” said Fort Lauderdale lawyer Mitchell Berger, a veteran Democratic political fundraiser and Crist backer. “His numbers for this month are better than we used to do in a quarter” in previous races for governor.
The money for Crist’s independent campaign committee was heavily weighted with contributions from lawyers and law firms.
However, Berger noted, it didn’t include a contribution from Crist’s employer John Morgan, prominent Orlando trial lawyer who founded the Morgan & Morgan “for the people” law firm. Morgan, one of Crist’s staunchest supporters, who’s known for heavy political and charitable contributions, hasn’t yet contributed to Charlie Crist for Florida or held a fundraiser, but can be expected to make a large contribution.
Scott, meanwhile, hasn’t yet opened an official re-election campaign account.
His independent committee, Let’s Get to Work, is the vehicle he used for most of the roughly $74 million of his and his wife’s personal fortune he spent during his 2010 campaign.
Scott’s 2010 spending eclipsed all previous Florida governor’s races, but Scott and his political allies have said he may outdo it in the coming year, spending up to $100 million.
His November fundraising total is more than the committee has ever previously reported raising even during a three-month finance reporting period, except for its initial report during Scott’s 2010 campaign, when his wife’s trust fund contributed $8 million. The total is increased by heavy contributions from industries Crist has battled in the past—big sugar companies and utilities—and by a contribution of $1 million from Miguel Fernandez, a Miami health care executive.
Update: Gov. Rick Scott has now filed papers with the state Division of Elections opening a re-election campaign committee.
Gardiner chosen as next Fla. Senate president
Posted Dec 10, 2013 by James L. Rosica
Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Florida Senate Republicans on Tuesday formally selected Sen. Andy Gardiner of Orlando as the next Senate president.
Gardiner, who represents portions of Brevard and Orange counties, takes over from sitting President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, after the 2014 general election.
“Compassionate in his human values, he is rock solid in his conservative principles,” Gaetz said. “...Andy Gardiner is the face of the new Florida.”
Republicans now control the 40-member chamber with a 26-person majority.
Gardiner will preside over the 2014-2016 legislative term. He said his main leadership interests would be in education and business development.
Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and an array of past elected officials attended the ceremony.
Gardiner, 44, was first elected to the House in 2000, eventually rising to Republican leader, before being elected to the Senate in 2008. There, he has served as majority whip and leader.
The Orlando hospital executive and wife Camille have three children, including a son who has Down syndrome.
Gardiner pledged to work with Senate Democrats, soon to be led by Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, but promised to fight for conservative ideas.
“I appreciate and I won’t forget that the honor to lead the Senate comes from you alone,” he told the chamber.