2018 Elections

Too much winning for ‘Governor Ron?’

DSC_2851-SPresident Donald Trump told a crowd Wednesday that his brand of “winning” may have been too much for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

As he was wrapping up an approximately 90-minute speech during a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, Trump recalled DeSantis coming at some unspecified time to see him in the White House.

“Governor Ron, he’d say, ‘President please,’ in the Oval Office, ‘please we’re winning too much, we’re not used to this Mr. President, we’re not used to this,’ ” Trump, whose endorsement of DeSantis in last year’s gubernatorial race helped boost the former congressman to victory, said.

“ ‘For years and years, we’ve been losers, we’ve been losing Mr. President,’ ” Trump continued to quote DeSantis. “ ‘Now we’re winning, the people of Florida can’t stand winning so much. Can you maybe pull it back a little bit Mr. President?’ ”

“And I said, ‘No I can’t Ron, I’m sorry,’ ” Trump said.

DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Ferré, helped to translate Trump’s remarks.

“The President was using good humor to say that Governor DeSantis is taking great care of Florida,” she said in an email.
By Jim Turner.

Congressional subcommittee chair: GOP take on Amendment 4 “an act of defiance”

A day after a congressional panel held a hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings filed legislation to make it easier for voters to fix signature mismatches.

Even if Congress doesn’t pass the South Florida Democrats’ federal legislation, the elections changes they’re proposing will almost certainly go into effect here in the Sunshine State.

Giving voters another chance and more time to fix their mismatched VBM signatures  is one of the provisions included in a an elections package (SB 7066) on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis. The proposal also includes the Republican-controlled Legislature’s controversial plan to carry out a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to felons who’ve completed their sentences. Murderers and people convicted of felony sexual offenses are excluded from the “automatic” vote-restoration.

Under the provision included in the elections package, felons would have to pay all financial obligations — including restitution, fines and fees — before having their voting rights restored. Judges can waive the fees and fines, or order community service in lieu of payment.

“As this subcommittee continues to travel the country, I can think of no better place than here in Florida, a state that is no stranger to having its elections become the focus of national attention,” said U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat who chairs the Committee on House Administrations Elections Subcommittee.

Fudge called Florida’s passage of Amendment 4, which more than 5 million voters supported, a “watershed moment for civil rights.”

Echoing other critics’ objections to the plan, the congresswoman blasted Florida lawmakers’ handling of Amendment 4, saying it amounts to a modern-day poll tax.

“They blatantly ignored the will of the Florida voters that approved the measure in a retroactive act of voter suppression. It is an act of defiance by this legislature,” she said.

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was among the witnesses at yesterday’s hearing, which addressed issues related to the 2018 elections, such as faulty ballot design, rejection of VBM ballots and recount litigation.

A joint press release issued by Deutch and Hastings cites a report by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith, who found that 15 percent of vote-by-mail ballots submitted by Parkland voters aged 18 to 21 were nearly three times more likely to be rejected than those of voters in the same age group statewide.

Smith’s analysis found that 15 percent of the VBM ballots sent by the young Parkland voters were tossed. Students in Parkland launched a national voter registration effort following last year’s horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 students and staff dead and another 17 people injured.

Here’s more from the South Florida Dems’ press release:

The “Protecting American Votes Act” will require elections officials to make two attempts to notify voters when their ballots are rejected based on a signature mismatch—by mail in addition to either text, phone, or e-mail. It will also require states to provide at least ten days from the date of notice to cure the mismatch to verify their identity and ensure their vote is counted. Officials who review signatures will also be required to participate in formal training and provide a report to Congress detailing the number of ballots that are rejected and description of the notification and cure process the state uses to protect voters. These reforms reflect several of the changes the Florida legislature included in SB 7066 to reform its election laws.

 

 

 

Dems to Putnam: Don’t let the door hit you …

Former Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s exit from the public sector — and from the Sunshine State — won’t be missed by the Florida Democratic Party.

unnamedMemphis-based Ducks Unlimited on Wednesday named Putnam, who was the “establishment” favorite in last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary but was trounced by Gov. Ron DeSantis, as its chief executive.

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Donohoe bid an actual “good riddance” to the former congressman from Bartow.

“Over the course of his twenty-year career in politics, Adam Putnam endangered Floridians’ safety, helped destroy our environment and turned the Department of Agriculture into a national embarrassment,” Donohoe said in a statement. “Putnam is the ultimate career politician and his name will forever be associated with scandal, incompetence and corruption in Florida. Putnam always promised to put Florida First, and he’s finally done that by leaving the state and giving up on public life. Good riddance.”

The announcement from Ducks Unlimited notes that Putnam “plans to move to Memphis in the coming months.”

“My vision for DU is to bring together conservation-minded folks from all walks of life, whether they’re farmers, city-dwellers, veterans, biologists, hunters…anyone who has a connection to landscapes, which is everyone,” Putnam said in DU release. “If we are going to fill the skies with waterfowl, we must build a coalition of people who believe waterfowl-filled skies matter. We need to work together to reach a common goal of healthy wetlands and abundant water for wildlife, people and their communities across North America.”

By Jim Turner.

Andrew Gillum’s a tease

Andrew Gillum’s toying with us.

The Tallahassee Democrat, who narrowly lost a bid for governor to Republican Ron DeSantis in November, teased supporters and critics today with a slick “save the date” video come on.

The promo features chants of Gillum’s iconic “Bring It Home” campaign slogan in the background, alongside tidbits from the trail.

Gillum, who lost to DeSantis by .4 percentage points last year, recently joined CNN as a political analyst.

After a surprise primary election victory, the former Tallahassee mayor had hoped to make Florida history by becoming the state’s first black governor. DeSantis dashed those dreams, but not before his gubernatorial effort skyrocketed the Florida Democrat onto the national stage.

Despite his November loss, Gillum’s been rumored to be considering a run for president in an already crowded Democratic field.

Will that be the “major announcement” coming on March 20, or will Gillum throw his support behind one of the other contenders?

In an email to supporters Friday morning, Gillum said “what we fought for last year still holds true today” and hammered on the anti-Donald Trump theme invoked against the president’s pal, DeSantis, last year.

“Health care should be a right and not a privilege. Teachers should be paid what they are worth. Our water and air should be safe for our children.

And most importantly: we need to do everything in our power to make Donald Trump a one-term president.

This fight is about the future of our state and our nation. I’m not going anywhere — and I know neither are you. We have to stand strong and speak out.

I believe that we will win. I’ll see you on March 20.”

 

Galvano on “awkward moment” in DeSantis SOS speech

DeSantis SOSGov. Ron DeSantis delivered his first State of the State speech to kick off the 2019 legislative session today, covering a wide range of topics and boasting about a variety of accomplishments since the Republican took office in January.

DeSantis bragged about ousting former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, who was harshly criticized for how his office handled the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last year. DeSantis replaced Israel with Gregory Tony.

Israel has appealed his suspension to the Florida Senate, which has the power to reinstate or remove elected officials.

During his remarks Tuesday, DeSantis noted that Israel’s suspension “will come before the Senate soon,” adding “the failures of the former sheriff are well-documented.”

“Why any senator would want to thumb his nose at the Parkland families and to eject Sheriff Tony, who is doing a great job and has made history as the first African-American sheriff in Broward history, is beyond me,” the governor said.

When asked about his remarks later, DeSantis spoke about the families of the 17 students and school staff who were slain.

“Those families were really frustrated that action had not been taken against him. I did it within a couple days because to me, I thought it should have been done. It was just a point that not only did that give satisfaction to families but we have a guy in there now who’s really making positive changes,” DeSantis told reporters.

The governor said he’s “not worried at all” about the Senate process.

“But I do think it was an important action we took early in the administration. I just wanted to highlight it,” he said.

Senate President Bill Galvano, who appointed former House Rep. Dudley Goodlette as special master to oversee Israel’s appeal and make recommendations, wasn’t keen on DeSantis’ veiled threat.

“Of everything that was in that speech, that was a bit of an awkward moment for the governor,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, told reporters.

Galvano said he asked himself if a senator made a comment about the Broward sheriffs but didn’t believe that was the case.

“Look, he has every right to suspend him and has his reasons for doing so. But the Senate also has a role, and we’re going to do it right. We’re going to have due process and we’re going to vet through the suspension and we’ll make a decision. I’ve asked our senators to give it the respect that it’s due and not to prejudge. That’s the role of the Senate. I’ve said this before. We’re not just going to be a rubber stamp for the governor,” he said.

Rick Scott gets hung up

He’s back. Sort of.

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With no fanfare we’re aware of, the official portrait of Florida’s 45th governor, Rick Scott, appeared on the wall beside other recent chiefs of state in the hallway.

The portrait of Scott, who’s now a U.S. senator, shows the former governor seated on the desk in what used to be his office. The background features a Florida flag and a picture of his wife, Ann.

Here’s a little Florida history about the portraits, from the Museum of Florida History:

Beginning with Governor Francis Fleming in the 1890s, every chief executive of Florida has had an official portrait painted and hung in the state capitol building. Over the years, an interesting variety of artistic styles has accumulated. In the mid-1950s, the state legislature commissioned Tallahassee artist Clarabel Jett (1908–96) to create oil-enhanced photographs of all Florida governors whose portraits were not yet in the state collection. In 1986, the legislature transferred custody of the portrait collection to the Museum of Florida History.

All of the Governor’s portraits are represented at the Historic Capitol. The more recent governors’ portraits appear in the first-floor hallway of the new Capitol, beginning with Claude Kirk (1967-1971). In keeping with the tradition of official governors’ portraits, our current governor, Ron DeSantis, will not commission his portrait until the end of his term.

By Jim Turner.

Speaker Oliva: Florida pot system “not terribly free market”

img_0971(1)He’s not calling it a cartel, as Gov. Ron DeSantis did right out of the gate.

But House Speaker José Oliva does admit the state’s vertically integrated medical marijuana system — which requires operators to grow, process and dispense cannabis and related products — “isn’t terribly free market.”

“I couldn’t possibly be a defender of free markets and call that structure a free market,” the Miami Lakes Republican, who made his fortune in his family’s cigar business, told reporters at The Associated Press’s annual pre-session gathering in the Capitol today.

“The limiting of licenses and the limiting of dispensaries is probably the greatest affront to the free-market argument,” he went on.

Whether the Legislature will agree to change the current system during the upcoming session, however, remains a mystery.

When asked about revisiting the state’s MMJ regulatory structure, Senate President Bill Galvano gave a tepid response.

“I expect that bills will be filed in that regard,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, said.

Despite his free-market concerns, Oliva was even less enthusiastic, using a lot of double negatives to describe the House’s position.

“I’m not entirely sure that that’s not something that we will be revisiting this year, because it affects access and it could certainly affect price,” Oliva said. “We’re still trying to get an idea of what kind of demand there really is for this. But I wouldn’t disagree … It hasn’t been a terribly free-market process.”

Shortly after taking office, DeSantis bashed vertical integration and the caps on licenses.

But this week, the governor appeared to walk back his opposition to those issues, focusing instead on his demand that the Legislature do away with the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana.

Here’s what Oliva said when we asked him if doing away with vertical integration would destabilize a market in which licenses have sold for tens of millions of dollars — including one transaction in which a license sold for $63 million in cash earlier this month.

“If the question is, would having a more free-market approach destabilize the private market, in particular the value of these licenses, well, sure, that’s what markets do,” the speaker said, making us feel a little foolish for asking the question, TBH.

“If the question is, will it destabilize the market and its ability to bring forth products that are safe and traceable and consistent, I don’t think it will do that. So, yeah, if you put more houses on the market, chances are you’ll have to lower the price of your house,” he concluded.

Oh, and about that repeal of the smoking prohibition the governor wants?

DeSantis may be forced to carry through on his threat to drop the appeal in the lawsuit over smokable medical marijuana, based on what the legislative leaders said today.

To put it mildly, Oliva’s not keen on allowing patients to smoke their medicine.

“Is one to believe that an 8-year-old child should be smoking marijuana and inhaling smoke into their lungs? I’ve been in the smoke business my entire life, and I’ve never heard anyone say it’s good for you,” he said.

The speaker indicated the push for smokable MMJ is just a ploy to open the door to recreational weed.

“Is medicine a façade and a masquerade for recreational marijuana? If it is, that won’t be very supported by the House. If we really want to look at marijuana, and what ailments it can truly relieve and people it can actually benefit, then that’s what we’re looking at,” Oliva said.