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
- Cramming time for those casting ballots Election Day
- StPetePolls says Sink leading among early voters
- Update: Scott says he’d veto Az anti-gay rights bill
- Az anti-gay rights law enters Fl governor’s race
- Gaetz, Weatherford: No major environmental actions coming in session
- Chamber poll: Jolly over Sink 44-42
- Medical pot advocate upset over booze measures
- Buckhorn host Obamacare weekend sign-ups
- Tampa Chamber urges MacDill emphasis in D-13 race
- Mr. Crist Goes to Tallahassee
- ‘Cash balance’ state pension bill filed
- Polls show Sink leading in CD 13
- Crist files papers for re-election bid
- Senate President Gaetz backs medical pot bill
- Florida House members stay with parties on debt ceiling vote
Chamber poll: Jolly over Sink 44-42
Posted Feb 25, 2014 by William March
Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 07:01 PM
A poll done by a Republican-oriented political consulting and research firm for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows Republican David Jolly leading Democrat Alex Sink 44-42 percent in the special election to replace U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young in Pinellas County.
Libertarian Lucas Overby got 7 percent.
The survey was done by Fabrizio, Lee and Associates Feb. 17-18, including 400 likely voters in the March 11 election, for an error margin of 4.9 percentage points.
It also found significant majorities among the respondents said they want a “check and balance” on President Barack Obama in Congress, and oppose the Affordable Care Act.
It said the race is tied 43-43 percent among those who said they definitely will vote, but Jolly leads by a larger margin, 47-37 percent, among those who say they probably will vote.
Medical pot advocate upset over booze measures
Posted Feb 25, 2014 by James L. Rosica
Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 03:39 PM
The head of the drive to legalize medical pot in Florida is blasting lawmakers for proposing to expand the “sale of hard liquor to grocery stores” while opposing marijuana as medicine.
Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, sent out an email Tuesday, taking the Legislature to task for its “warped priorities.”
Bills filed in the House and Senate would allow retailers like Wal-Mart, Publix and Sweetbay to sell spirits without a separate liquor store with an outside entrance.
Proponents cite it as helping businesses to cut costs and being more convenient to shoppers.
Neither bill, though, has yet been heard by a committee. The legislative session starts next Tuesday.
“And these are the same people who say that marijuana is too dangerous to be used with a doctor’s recommendation?” Pollara wrote.
“What are they thinking? This failure in leadership is exactly why we had to put this on the ballot ourselves.”
Pollara then asks for money, saying he needs “$25,000 or we’re going to face staffing shortages in March.”
A ballot question on a medical marijuana amendment to the state constitution will face voters on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
Pollara also complained, erroneously, about another bill that would legalize “the sale of 128-ounce beer containers – 128 ounces! That’s almost 11 cans of beer in a single container!”
Actually, 128-ounce, or one gallon, growlers – jug like containers used to sell craft beer from the tap – already are legal, as are 32-ounce (quart) containers.
What isn’t legal is the industry standard 64-ounce size, or a half-gallon.
Buckhorn host Obamacare weekend sign-ups
Posted Feb 25, 2014 by Kevin Wiatrowski
Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 01:35 PM
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will open city rec centers in three neighborhoods in March to encourage residents to sign up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Buckhorn announced Tuesday a schedule of six weekend and one mid-week events starting March 1 aimed at enrolling up to 90,000 city residents who the mayor says lack insurance.
In recent months, Buckhorn has hosted Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, and Shaun Donovan, secretary of housing and urban development. Both of them came to Tampa to promote the Affordable Care Act and to encourage people to enroll. HUD Secretary Donovan made his pitch at Encore!, the HUD-funded redevelopment of the former Central Park Village housing project.
Buckhorn said Tampa has nearly 100,000 residents without insurance.
“We all benefit with our community is healthier,” he said in a written statement.
Tampa Chamber urges MacDill emphasis in D-13 race
Posted Feb 24, 2014 by Kate Bradshaw
Updated Feb 24, 2014 at 02:44 PM
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce isn’t picking a favorite in the race to fill the late Congressman Bill Young’s seat, but it is stressing the economic importance of MacDill Airforce Base, and wants whoeverr wins to advocate for it amid the perennial threat of base closures. Young is credited with saving the base at a time when closure seemed imminent.
“With the passing last year of Congressman Bill Young, the Tampa Bay area lost a tireless fighter for MacDill Air Force Base,” read s statement issued this morning. “While we recognize MacDill lies in Congressional District 14 and we’ve worked closely with Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who is a great supporter of our Base - it is equally important that the person elected to Congressional District 13 understand MacDill’s significant regional economic impact.”
The statement went on to urge all three candidates in the race to “take a special interest in helping to protect MacDill Air Force Base, our service members, veterans and their families.”
Republican David Jolly, Libertarian Lucas Overby and Democrat Alex Sink have all said they support keeping the base open and understand its economic impact on the Tampa Bay area as a whole.
Mr. Crist Goes to Tallahassee
Posted Feb 13, 2014 by James L. Rosica
Updated Feb 13, 2014 at 11:41 PM
Former Gov. Charlie Crist strode into Tallahassee Thursday night and nothing was going to get him down.
Not the protestors in front of the Books-A-Million where he was going to sign copies of his book, “The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.”
Crist, you may recall, is now a Democrat running for his old job against incumbent Gov. Rick Scott.
A group of college-aged young people carried signs saying “Failed Governor” and “Charlie Ran Away.”
He waved and said hello with a big smile.
Not the Republican Party honchos, who said they’re tagging along at every one of his nine-stop book tour, from Fort Myers to St. Petersburg.
Florida Party Chairman Lenny Curry was swigging a Red Bull before Crist arrived, telling reporters Charlie “would clearly say or do anything to get elected.”
Crist gave him a smile and a handshake.
With every place Crist shows up, it may not be his town, but it’s his town that night. The hugs, the back slaps and the haven’t-seen-you-in-forevers were in high swing.
He stopped for a moment to gab with a gaggle of reporters before taking a seat in the back of the store.
He was asked about the he-ran-away criticism, how he left the governor’s office to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.
“We really had a bipartisan approach, a cooperative spirit,” he said. “I saw what was happening in Washington. We had brought that spirit here to Tallahassee, as you may recall. I wanted to try to bring that Florida value to Washington.
“It didn’t work out, and that’s OK. Now we may have an opportunity to bring it back to Tallahassee. And I’d be honored if I get the chance to do it.”
But he’d be governor in a town with a Republican legislature. And frankly, a lot of them don’t like him.
“Well, if we’re fortunate enough to win, those difficult feelings have a way of warming,” Crist said.
The governor’s veto power has a way of doing that.
“Because, you know, if you win” – he took a Sharpie out of his inside suit pocket – “you have a pen.”
Crist went on to sell all 120 of the store’s books in stock; at the end of the night, one man left, went to the Barnes & Noble bookstore across town to get a copy, and came back to get it signed.
Having to stand in line is the great equalizer. If you recognized the faces, you could spot former state and university officials standing in line with college students, a legislative staffer here, a local circuit judge there.
One woman got her picture taken with Crist and her young son.
“You work at Bonefish?” Crist said to her. “I love Bonefish. What’s that shrimp they have? Bang Bang Shrimp? I love that.”
Altha Manning, a former state deputy commissioner of education, toted her signed copy of Crist’s book.
Yes, she agreed with him on a lot, though not everything, Manning said. There’s another reason she’s supporting him.
“I like him.”