Category Archives: State Politics

Northeast Florida Power Drought

florida

As statewide races begin to shape up for United State Senate, Governor, Attorney General, and CFO … a disturbing trend seems to be forming.  None of the  candidates being prominently mentioned in the media is from Northeast Florida.

None

Early polling shows Governor Crist as the odds-on favorite to replace Mel Martinez in the U.S. Senate, though many more conservative Republicans are furious that the state party seemed to be picking sides even before the campaign begins.  crist-rubio Miami Republican Marco Rubio, fresh from his stint as the Speaker of the Florida House, will also seek the seat, and from a more conservative vantage than will Crist.  But Rubio, by all accounts, faces an uphill battle in name recognition, and Crist is riding a wave of almost unprecedented popularity for this point in his term as Governor.  His time spent with John McCain, depending on your point of view, was either a brilliant move in building name recognition or an unabashed run to be McCains’ running mate.  Should Crist win the Senate seat, don’t be surprised to see him make a bid for the White House after one or two terms.Sink-mccollum

The principal candidates to replace Crist in the Governor’s Mansion are Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Bill McCollom.   Both call the I-4 corridor home … Sink is from Thonotosassa, and McCollom is from Longwood.  The I-4 corridor is in some ways Florida’s most purple region, and pivotal in any statewide election.

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson initially considered a run for Governor, but announced this week that he would not seek the seat.  He, too, is from Central Florida.

That leaves both the CFO and Attorney General seats open on the Cabinet.  Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp (Tampa) as said he’d consider the AG’s office, though that race will likely take a while to shake out.  Senate President Jeff Atwater (West Palm Beach) indicated his interest in the position of Chief Financial Officer … but there will likely be many names floated for that race as well.

But not one (so far) is from north of I-4.  Technically Thonotosassa is north, but it’s pretty much right at the intersection of I-4 and I-75.

Then, too, our region may lose one of it’s best legislators this year.  I truly and fervently hope Senator Jim King is able to serve out his term in the legislature next year, but we had a very personal experience with pancreatic cancer in our family this year.  Maybe I’m just a little too close to that condition, and, of course everyone is different.  But at the very best, there is one more session for Senator King because of term limits, and the region will lose one of it’s champions, and a strong voice in the Senate.

So where does that leave the leadership of the state in relation to the First Coast?  We have a very capable legislative delegation, and there are some strong candidates running for the open seats in the region.  And, too, as more and more of the long-time legislators are sent home by term limits, that playing field will level.  There will be fewer and fewer office holders with longevity in Tallahassee.  Whether or not that’s a good thing is a debate for another day, but the days of someone serving seemingly for life in a single office are gone for good.  Some will jump from office to office as their terms expire. But the way private sector workers now seem to shuffle from job to job, whether by their choice or forced by circumstance, maybe that won’t be seen as a negative.  At the end of the day, the way power in Tallahassee is perceived may change.  But when two thirds of the state seems to be left out of consideration for state-wide races … it might be time to have a look at how political talent is developed north of I-4.

MSB Jacksonville and Northeast Florida should not be considered the red-headed stepchild of state politics.  We have the largest city in terms of land mass in the country, a port system that rivals any in the state for economic development and potential, and as viable and stable an economy as any other region.  We’re not Miami, or Tampa, or Orlando in terms of sheer numbers of people, but then I’m fairly certain no one here really wants to be.  It is important that our voice is heard and our concerns represented in the debates that are coming in the next decades, particularly about water, education, transportation, taxes, the economy, and the environment.

I know, it’s easy for me to write such things from my perch at the continents’ edge.  And no, I’m not volunteering.  But I do hope that somewhere among the delegation is a person who can become known well enough to make a run for a statewide office.  Because otherwise, it takes money … lots of money, to mount a campaign where the first thing to be done is build name recognition south of I-4.  And that’s a difficult hill to climb

Sig

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Filed under Beach Living, Elections, Florida Politics, State Politics, Thoughts

Another Week at an End

The weather is finally turning warmer approaching the ides of  February.  It’s about normal this time of the year.  What passes for winter has mostly left us.  There is still the threat of a hard freeze, but only for a few more days, I think.

With the spring, of course, comes the annual madness … the 60 day Florida legislative session will begin in a couple of weeks, with a 6 billion dollar problem between projected revenues and estimated spending.  Which may be part of the reason Republican Governor Charlie Crist is such a big fan of the stimulus package about to be passed largely by Congressional Democrats.

From the St. Pete Times:

Crist predicted Florida’s share of the stimulus would be almost enough to cover next year’s projected budget deficit, unofficially between $5 billion and $6 billion.

“It’s very, very encouraging,” Crist said. “I shudder to think what it would be like if this wasn’t moving forward.”

Which is all good for this year.  Next year may be an entirely different story.

I don’t know that anyone knows everything that is in the bill.  At $787 billion and over 1500 pages with so little time for analysis, it seems impossible that anyone knows what’s being approved.  Maybe even more surprising is that it’s not unusual for massive bills to be approved by congress with little time for analysis.  Representatives and Senators regularly depend on their staffs to digest the text of huge spending measures and advise them how to vote.  Of course, those aides would understandably agree with the person who signs the checks … but I’m off on a bit of a tangent.

Governor Crist has seemed pretty chummy with President Obama … introducing him at his town hall meeting in Fort Myers earlier this week.  And The Miami Herald reports the state GOP is none to pleased.

As Democrats lavish praise on Florida’s Republican governor for enthusiastically supporting their economic stimulus package, Republicans are questioning whether Crist damaged his future.

”I don’t think he’s helped any national Republican ambitions he may have by stepping up to the plate and batting for the other team. . . . There’s a difference between working in a bipartisan way for the common good and switching sides and putting on the other team’s jersey,” said veteran Republican consultant Alex Castellanos. “At the one moment when we’ve finally found our voice and remember who we are as Republicans, Charlie Crist forgets. It’s stunning.”

So it appears at least that Governor Crist MAY, and I’ll emphasize again MAY be hopeful that the stimulus package (and some even say that’s a misnomer) will allow the legislature to delay, or in a best case scenario avoid entirely, making very difficult budget decisions.  Whether or not that’s a good idea will be debated at length, I’m sure, and what it means for city governments is certainly unknown.  But it will make the upcoming legislative session interesting to watch … and for better or worse, I’ve got time for that.

Sig

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Filed under Economy, Florida Legislature, State Politics, Stimulus