Republicans wasted no time in pouncing upon Hyers' departure as an indication for problems in Crist's camp.
"Charlie Crist’s campaign seems to be headed in the same direction he took Florida as governor – down and out,” said the Republican Governors Association in a press release.
Sunshine State News Blogs
Bondi, who opposes the amendment, has already come out with several objections to it. In a brief filed last month in the Florida Supreme Court, Bondi argued that the ballot title and initiative are overall misleading to voters and hide the amendment’s “true scope and effect.”
“The amendment would make Florida one of the most permissive states in the country,” read the brief. “Unlike most other states’ narrow and limited programs, this proposal would allow anyone of any age to use marijuana for any reason, so long as they found a physician to say that the benefits would outweigh the risks.”
People United for Medical Marijuana, the backers of the constitutional amendment, say opponents to the amendment are twisting the truth and preventing those who need the drug from legally obtaining help.
“Any statement that the initiative would allow unfettered use of medical marijuana would itself be misleading to voters,” wrote People United’s lawyer, John Mills.
But Bondi and other legislators who oppose the amendment have not necessarily come out against the use of marijuana, but said the ballot language is far too broad to remain on the ballot in 2014.
If the Florida Supreme Court does allow the amendment on the ballot next November, People United would still need to gather more than 680,000 petition signatures by Feb. 1. People United says it has about 500,000 signed petitions. Less than half have been verified.
Medical marijuana has enjoyed broad support from Floridians. A Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters found an overwhelming majority -- 82 percent -- said they support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical use if it is prescribed by a doctor.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., concluded his trip to London on Wednesday. A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence, Rubio had been in London for a three-day trip where he met with key British leaders and spoke on foreign policy on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Rubio, who is a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, continued meeting British leaders, including meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugh Robertson, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove and members of Parliament.
RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry released the following statement on Pelosi and Sink:
"Nancy Pelosi is raising money for Alex Sink in Washington tonight to gain another supporter for bigger government. It comes as no surprise, since Sink supports policies like Obamacare even though Floridians increasingly oppose it the more they find out what's in it. Sending Alex Sink to Washington would be sending another vote for Nancy Pelosi's extreme liberal agenda."
Through the new Statewide Residency Program, 10 hospitals in Hillsborough and Pinellas County will receive more than $13 million of the total $80 million statewide allocation. Funding from the new Statewide Residency Program is available to all hospitals, both large and small, urban and rural, so long as they sponsor residents.
The supplemental payment was made possible by the $80 million appropriation recommended by Governor Scott in the 2013 Florida Families First Budget.
"In order to grow more opportunities for Florida families to succeed, we must invest in programs that will diversify our economy and create jobs for future generations," said Scott. "Thats why my Florida Families First budget invested $80 million for Graduate Medical Education programs, which helps hospitals expand their residency programs. In the Tampa Bay area alone, this program will invest $13 million to expand residency programs in 10 hospitals, which is great news. This program is the first of its kind to coordinate with hospitals on supporting their medical education programs and will ensure we keep more of our medical school graduates here in the Sunshine State."
Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, who serves Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services lauded the program.
"Many doctors who participate in residency programs in Florida end up practicing in our state," she said. "It is important, particularly in rural areas, that there are enough physicians to meet the future needs of our aging population. I am pleased that we were able to make an investment in the health of Floridians by creating the Statewide Residency Program.
On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott showcased the $80 million in his budget for graduate medical education, including $13 million to Tampa Bay hospitals to support internship programs.
“In order to grow more opportunities for Florida families to succeed, we must invest in programs that will diversify our economy and create jobs for future generations,” Scott said. “That's why my Florida Families First budget invested $80 million for graduate medical education programs, which helps hospitals expand their residency programs. In the Tampa Bay area alone, this program will invest $13 million to expand residency programs in 10 hospitals, which is great news. This program is the first of its kind to coordinate with hospitals on supporting their medical education programs and will ensure we keep more of our medical school graduates here in the Sunshine State.”
Two leaders in the Legislature chimed in to support investing in graduate medical education to ensure more doctors set up practices in the Sunshine State.
“Many doctors who participate in residency programs in Florida end up practicing in our state,” said Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring. “It is important, particularly in rural areas, that there are enough physicians to meet the future needs of our aging population. I am pleased that we were able to make an investment in the health of Floridians by creating the statewide residency program."
“The move this year to DRG reimbursement for hospital inpatient stays in the Medicaid program created the perfect opportunity to begin the statewide residency program,” said Rep, Matt Hudson, R-Naples. “The new program will provide more transparency and accountability for graduate medical education funding, and ultimately deliver a greater value to the taxpayers of Florida."
Republicans are looking to make political hay out of the comment on Tuesday night by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), that Democratic candidates will be defending President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law in 2014. On Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) hit former state CFO Alex Sink, who is the Democratic candidate in a special election for the congressional seat left open by the death of U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla.
Debating Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus on CNN’s “Crossfire” on Tuesday, Wasserman Schultz doubled down on her support of the law.
Pressed by Priebus on which Democratic U.S. senator in a close race in 2014 will campaign on the law, Wasserman Schultz said all her party’s candidates would back it.
“The question that’s on the table right now is, which person that’s running as a Democrat in these targeted states -- who?” Priebus asked.
“All of our candidates,” Wasserman Schultz insisted. “All of our candidates are able to run on the provisions of Obamacare.”
The NRCC pounced on Sink, looking to tie her to the law.
“Thanks to her liberal friends in Washington, Alex Sink is now forced to run on her support of Obamacare which has already caused 300,000 Floridians to be kicked off their health care plans,” Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, said on Wednesday. “While Sink is in Washington, D.C., today collecting campaign cash from the liberal creators of Obamacare, maybe she can get some of the DNC chairwoman’s magical talking points which will help her explain her support of this dysfunctional law.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said she was backing two transportation bills. Ros-Lehtinen said she would back the TSA Loose Change Act which leaves unclaimed monies gathered from airports to charities backing military families. The congresswoman also came out in support of the Transportation Acquisition Security Reform Act which adds more transparency in how airports puchase new technologies.
“Making our transportation system more efficient and more accessible to the public is something we should always strive to attain,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Additionally, working to provide the maximum amount of comfort at the airport, a place not known for its calm and serenity, to military families, who have sacrificed so much, is one small step we can take to repay them for their dedication to our nation. The traveling public deserves nothing less than our best efforts to improve our airports and transportation systems.”
Judy Gross, the wife of American relief worker Alan Gross who was accused of espionage by the Castro regime and has been imprisoned for four years by that Communist government, appeared on Wolf Blitzer’s show on CNN on Tuesday. Gross pressed President Barack Obama to ramp up his efforts to free her husband and said he could do much more than what he has done so far.
“The Cubans have made it clear to me, I'm sure to you and to others, they want Cubans who are being held here in the United States, convicted of crimes, to be released, and there would be a sort of trade,” Blitzer said. “Your husband goes back to the United States, they go back to Cuba. Is that what -- is that's what -- is that what's holding up this freedom for Alan Gross?"
“Well, you know, I have never heard the Cubans actually say that. I don't know if they've actually come out and said we want the Cubans in exchange for Alan Gross,” Judy Gross replied. “I met with the Cuban foreign minister the last time I was in Cuba, with other officials. And what they have said is they have been asking over and over and over again for the administration to send an envoy, to sit down with them, to start talking about these issues and there's been no response.”
“What would you like President Obama to do?” Blitzer asked.
“I think you'd have to ask him what it takes,” Judy Gross said. “I want Obama to take Alan seriously, to take the situation seriously. He's the leader of the nation. He's the one who can go to the State Department and go to the Justice Department, whatever department is involved, and say, let's make this work. He could do it tomorrow if he -- if he wanted to.”
“I hope that President Obama will make this his personal responsibility, to get on this case and get Alan free,” she added.
Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), continued to pound away on former Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday morning. While he spent most of his political career as a Republican, Crist left the GOP in 2010 and joined the Democrats in 2012. Crist is now the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott next year.
As he has in recent days, Curry slammed Crist for backing President Barack Obama‘s federal health-care law.
“It's day two of President Obama's crisis PR campaign for Obamacare, a law that Floridians have said again and again they do not like or want,” Curry said. “Yet, Charlie Crist continues to insist that Obamacare will lower health care costs, showing that he is completely out of touch with many Floridians who are seeing their premiums and deductibles skyrocket. Just like Obamacare, Floridians can't afford Charlie Crist."
Is Charlie Crist's campaign already seeing trouble?
Bill Hyers, the Democratic strategist who managed Bill De Blasio‘s campaign in New York City and who was expected to manage Charlie Crist‘s 2014 campaign for governor, is calling it quits on Crist's campaign before he even began the job. Details of the Hyers' departure were unclear as of Tuesday evening, but he hadn’t actually begun to work in the Sunshine State.
“I never started, and ended up just deciding to stay in NYC. Great town,” Hyers told New York Magazine.
Crist, who announced last month that he'd be running for his old job, attempted to downplay Hyers’ departure.
“It’s early. Our campaign structure is still coming together. Bill wanted to stay in New York because it was good for him,” said Crist in a statement.
But just last month, Crist had no reservations about Hyers' post, introducing him at a fundraiser at The Forge in Miami Beach, as "my campaign manager."
Hyers was actually in the process of getting a rental in St. Petersburg and talked Crist up quite a bit, saying he believed he was a good Democrat.
Republicans wasted no time in pouncing upon Hyers' departure as an indication for problems in Crist's camp.
Gov. Rick Scott praised school districts on Tuesday which have raised teacher pay. Curently 34 of Florida’s 67 counties have enacted teacher pay raises while 14 more have finalized negotiations to raise teacher pay. Increasing teacher pay was one of Scott’s chief legislative priorities this year. Scott singled out eight counties -- Bay, Broward, Collier, Gilchrist, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lafayette and Suwannee -- which have recently enacted teacher pay raises.
“I would like to congratulate all of the Florida school districts who have finalized a well-deserved pay raise for our hard-working teachers, including the eight additional districts who have finalized agreements," Scott said on Tuesday. “We are proud to continue to recognize teachers who are the backbone of our classrooms.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., demanded the Obama administration ramp up its efforts to help Alan Gross, an American relief worker accused of espionage by the Castro regime and who has been imprisoned for four years.
“Alan Gross is a hostage being held captive by a state sponsor of terrorism, and his liberation is long overdue,” Rubio said on Tuesday. “Instead of considering more unilateral concessions to the Castro regime that enrich and help fund its repressive machine, the U.S. should pursue meaningful measures to secure Mr. Gross’s immediate, unconditional release.”
The seat, which is currently held by House Speaker Will Weatherford, will become vacant next year due to term limits.
"After careful consideration and strong encouragement from friends and family I have decided to run for the Florida House," said Burgess. "I'm excited by the opportunity to continue serving the community I grew up in and am proud to call home, as a member of the Florida House."
Burgess currently serves as mayor of Zephyrhills. He is also a first lieutenant in the United States Army as a judge advocate general, and is a practicing attorney at Johnson, Auvil, Pratico & Chane PA.
When he was elected in 2013, Burgess became the youngest mayor in Zephyrhills' history, at 27.
The Florida director of bipartisan education-advocate StudentsFirst issued a statement Tuesday claiming the proof is at hand, Florida students are falling behind much of the rest of the world.
Nikki Lowrey was commenting on the morning release of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report:
“Today's report shows our kids are falling behind. And while reforms are making a difference and we can all point to signs of progress we’ve made in Florida, the fact is, our students are not keeping up with the rest of the world in the classroom," Lowrey said.
“As the rest of the world advances rapidly, we can't sit idle and make excuses for a system that fails to provide so many of our kids with great schools and great teachers. This report should motivate all of us to do better for our children -- to intensify our focus and remember what's at stake. We’re not getting to where we need to be fast enough and easing up on the gas pedal, or lowering the bar for our students, won’t help them compete in the world they’re about to inherit.”
Read the Sunshine State News story of the PISA report here.
State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, is widely seen as a rising star for Florida Republicans. She was a prominent supporter of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and she is now taking aim at former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic front-runner to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
"When Florida was suffering through difficult economic times, Charlie Crist didn't focus on the economy,” Flores said on Tuesday. “He abandoned his job and tried to run for a more glamorous seat in the U.S. Senate. Now, he wants his old job back, even though he has a failed record as governor and trusts in Obamacare, regardless of the fact that 300,000 Florida residents have lost their health insurance policies because of its failures. How can we trust him to do what's best for Florida?"
President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law is drawing fire from an old foe on the left in consumer advocate Ralph Nader. While Nader stayed out of the 2012 presidential contest, he ran against Obama in 2008 as an independent. Nader compared Obama’s rollout to the launch of Medicare back in the 1960s -- and found Obamacare lacking.
“Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare,” Nader wrote in an email sent out on Tuesday morning. “It must be replaced with a simple single-payer system. In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards. The majority of doctors, nurses and the American people want single payer.
“So why don’t we have it?” Nader demanded. “Because President Obama, the Democrats and their affiliated groups are wedded to Obamacare -- a Republican Heritage Foundation plan implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. In Washington, speaking the truth about Obamacare and single payer is taboo.”
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) ripped into former Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday, insisting he was following advice offered by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, of defending President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. After spending most of his political career as a Republican, Crist left the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation in 2010 and joined the Democrats in 2012. Crist is now running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
"Charlie Crist and Washington Democrats like Debbie Wasserman Schultz are truly out of touch with Floridians if they think that Obamacare can be used to gain political advantage,” Lenny Curry, the chairman of the RPOF, said on Tuesday. “Floridians are experiencing the pain of losing their health insurance plans, losing the doctors they like and seeing their costs go up. We can't afford Obamacare and Floridians can't afford Charlie Crist and his Democratic buddies in Washington."
Looks like there will be changes over the skies of the First Coast as P-3 Orions are being phased out by the Navy for the P-8A Poseidon planes. Both planes specialize in finding submarines.
On Friday, two P-8As were deployed to Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax). U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, offered his thoughts on the new planes on Monday.
“The deployment of two P-8A aircraft from the First Coast is welcome news in a steady progression of national security advancements that I have long fought for on Capitol Hill,” Crenshaw said. “With the ever-present threat of submarines from unfriendly countries and the aging P-3 nearing the end of its life cycle, the P-8A Poseidon underscores the Navy’s commitment to cutting-edge maritime surveillance and the future of NAS Jacksonville. The Navy and Boeing deserve praise for keeping production on cost and ahead of schedule.”
Gov. Rick Scott sent out a letter on Monday, urging school superintendents across the Sunshine State to finalize agreements to increase teacher pay which was one of his chief legislative priorities this year.
The letter reads as follows:
With only about four weeks left until the end of the year, we urge every school district that has not finalized negotiations to implement teacher pay raises to do so immediately. We worked with the Legislature this year to dedicate $480 million to teacher pay raises because our teachers serve on the front lines of our education system every day. We know that tomorrow’s Florida workers are in Florida classrooms today.
To date, 28 school districts have finalized teacher pay raise amounts for their districts, while another 15 have reached tentative agreements that will soon be voted on. These districts worked with their bargaining units to ratify agreements to ensure the teachers had an established pay raise amount according to the law before the end of the year, which will allow teachers to prepare for their family’s financial future.
The districts with finalized agreements include: Baker, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Gulf, Hendry, Highlands, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Madison, Manatee, Okaloosa, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Lucie, Sarasota, Sumter, Taylor, Union, Volusia, and Wakulla.
We understand the local negotiation process that every district must go through in order to finalize teacher pay raise amounts, but we urge any district that has not yet reached a final agreement to contact Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart so we can offer any assistance possible to expedite this district-level process.
Our support for Florida teachers and our education system is stronger than ever. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that Florida had the second largest increase in education spending this year compared to other states. Florida also had the second largest per pupil increase in education funding on record in the 2013-2014 budget year. In fact, our budget this year included the most state funding for education ever – a record of more than $10 billion.
But, all of these numbers represent something more important than money. This funding is a commitment. It is a commitment that future generations of Florida workers will have the training, skills and education they need to compete and succeed in a global economy. Thank you for the leadership in working to make Florida’s education system the best in the world. Your work to quickly finalize teacher pay raises will show the world that we know commitment to the success of Florida students starts with a commitment to Florida teachers.
Libertarian think-tank Reason Institute unveiled a study focusing on high-speed rail in Central Florida. Wendell Cox and Adrian Moore argue in the study that the state of Florida will be facing major defecits if high-speed rail connects Tampa and Orlando and Gov. Rick Scott was wise to avoid it.
Looking at estimates showing the high-speed rail project would be a wise investment, Cox and Moore argue it is a money loser. “The reality is that Florida taxpayers would face deficits of $50 million to more than $300 million in 2026,” they write.
The full study can be read here.
Conservative educator and businessman Richard Bishirjian is set to launch a new higher ed initiative based out of Gainesville. Bishirjian, an editorial adviser for Modern Age, founded Yorktown University in Colorado (full disclosure, I worked for that school briefly back in 2006) and Yorktown University of the Americas here in Florida.
In his latest effort, Bishirjian is launching EDUCourses, currently noncredit college courses, but he is looking to expand his outreach to offer traditional education online at reasonable prices. Bishirjian is looking for investors including using the Internet to locate possible supporters.
Bishirjian sent out an email on Monday as he prepares for his latest task, launching a rally to find supporters for his newest effort. “I'm leading the rally to create a college education for Americans concerned about limited government, free markets, American history and the Constitution of the United States,” Bishirjian wrote. “When fully developed we can offer a two-year college education for $799 to $999. I hope you will be inspired by this campaign.
“Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC) management systems are the latest development in Internet-based course delivery technology and are designed for massive enrollments,” Bishirjian continued. “A typical MOOC ... can manage enrollments of 10,000 to 40,000 students per course!
“Too much emphasis has been placed on a college diploma, and not enough emphasis has been given to demonstrating what has been learned after two, four or even six years of an expensive education. And, unfortunately, in the mad-rush to earn a degree in order to get a good job, some students have skipped courses that once were required of a college-educated citizen," Bishirjian added. “As citizens of the United States, we have an obligation to understand American history, the fundamental law of the United States, how the Constitution originated, the system of free enterprise that has made the United States an economic powerhouse and how important it is that we comprehend that we are participants in the civilization of the West."
The Obama administration promised to fix the federal health-care program website, which has been plagued by technical issues, by November 30. With the site still having problems, the Republican National Committee (RNC) went on the attack on Monday, launching a new Web video attacking President Barack Obama and his signature law.
“President Obama and his administration repeatedly claimed the Obamacare website would be fully functioning by the end of November, but this has proven to be just another broken promise,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on Monday. “The Obama administration had over three years to build Healthcare.gov, and all they’ve produced is a nonfunctioning website, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
“But Obamacare is more than a few glitches -- it’s health care cancellation letters, skyrocketing premiums and more and more Americans losing their doctors,” Priebus added. “The broken website exemplifies the failures of an administration too inept to manage America’s health-care system.”
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles kicked off Older Driver Safety Awareness Week with safety tips on Monday.
“More than 3 million of our almost 16 million drivers in Florida are age 65 or older,” said Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Julie Jones on Monday. “Being able to remain active and productive members of their communities is important to our older residents, and by highlighting the importance of driver safety, we hope they can continue to safely enjoy this freedom.”
FLHSMV offered tips for older drivers on Monday:
-- Plan your day so that you do most of your driving when visibility is greatest and traffic is lightest, such as mid-morning and after lunch.
-- Plan the route to your destination to minimize left turns.
-- Look twice both ways before making a turn or entering an intersection.
-- Minimize lane changes. When you change lanes, be sure to use your signals.
-- Turn the volume on your radio down or turn off the radio completely.
-- Have your vision and hearing tested annually.
-- Heed warning labels on medications. Even prescription drugs can impair driving and judgment.
-- Consider alternative transportation options.
Voters remain closely divided, however, when asked if a business should be allowed to opt out of such a mandate for religious reasons -- the subject of a legal challenge of Obamacare now being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The poll found 38 percent of likely U.S. voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient, while 51 percent disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Only 11 percent said they were not sure.
Nearly half of voters -- 48 percent -- believe a business should be able to opt out of providing health insurance coverage for contraceptives if providing such coverage violates the religious beliefs of the business owner. But almost as many -- 42 percent -- think a business should not be allowed to opt out of this requirement for religious reasons.
The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Dec. 1. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
Over at the New Republic, Nate Cohn argues that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Cohn presents an interesting case for Walker as acceptable to a broad host of Republican primary voters. In the piece, Cohn offers a quick look at how the odds of Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. winning the GOP nod have dropped considerably. Cohn even compared them to one of the biggest flops of the 2012 contest, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.
The piece can be read here and Cohn’s look at Jindal and Rubio is below:
The broadly appealing conservatives, like Bobby Jindal or Marco Rubio, earn their broad appeal at the expense of anyone’s passion: They’re no one’s first choice, and they start without an electoral base. To win, they would need to stand-out -- in debates or on the stump, or in the so-called “invisible primary,” where a candidate can rally the party establishment and build the campaign apparatus and media attention necessary to elevate themselves in the minds of voters. But the party’s establishment is also factionalized -- no candidate succeeded in uniting it in either 2008 or 2012, even though Romney was a clear establishment favorite.
Early this year, it seemed like Rubio had a real chance to pull it off. The young, charismatic senator from Florida was an establishment savior, the physical manifestation of their political vision for winning national elections by appealing to Hispanics and young voters. He’d do so, they envisioned, without compromising on the party’s core religious and business policies -- just immigration reform and tea party rhetoric. But immigration reform crashed and Rubio seemed unprepared to compete at the highest levels. His numbers have declined; he’ll struggle to regain the trust of the establishment.
So far, Rubio and Jindal look like they’re auditioning for the role of 2016’s Tim Pawlenty -- a candidate the mainline establishment wished could take off, but someone who didn’t have the chops to win either Iowa or New Hampshire, states where the tea party and moderates are at an advantage. Perhaps the most obvious alternative to Rubio is Jeb Bush. But it’s unclear whether the “compassionate conservative” message still plays with Republican primary voters, let alone whether Bush will run.
Conservative group American Action Network is running cyber ads attacking U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., for backing President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law on Cyber Monday.
“Americans know a bad deal when they see one,” said Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for American Action Network. “Obamacare champion Patrick Murphy is running for cover after selling Floridians a bag full of broken promises, but Floridians aren’t foolish enough to buy his dishonest spin.”
Murphy is a top target for Republicans in 2014.
United For Care, a campaign run by People United for Medical Marijuana, held a contest to see who could gather the most petitions to get the constitutional amendment for medical marijuana on the ballot in November 2014.
The winner of the contest will be handsomely rewarded with "airfare, lodging, and access to the most important Supreme Court battle in Florida in many years" according to United For Care's Facebook page.
The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from Attorney General Pam Bondi and People United for Medical Marijuana on Thursday. The issue has already gathered considerable public interest. A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University showed an overwhelming majority -- 82 percent -- said they would support medical marijuana.
United For Care is currently in the process of gathering over 683,000 petitions by Feb. 1 to get the amendment on the ballot. If medical marijuana does get on the ballot, it then must get at least 60 percent of the votes to be adopted.
Supporters of drafting Dr. Ben Carson to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 are claiming momentum. John Phillip Sousa IV, great-grandson and namesake of the celebrated composer of patriotic marches, is leading the national "Draft Ben Carson for President" committee and sent an email out to conservatives this weekend to make the case for his candidate, noting that “more than 200,000 Americans ... have signed the petition urging Dr. Ben Carson to run for president of the United States.”
Sousa praised Carson for attacking President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law at the National Prayer Breakfast back in March.
“At that moment, Dr. Carson captured the imagination of the American people,” Sousa insisted. “He became an instant front-runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
“Ben Carson will win,” Sousa added. “As president he will heal America and unite us as one people working together to achieve the American dream. Ben Carson is a tea party conservative. He has supported the tea party since it began and he has practical, common-sense solutions to the problems that plague our land.”
Sousa argued that Carson, as an African-American, can win over black voters and keep conservatives in the Republican column, and can beat the Democratic nominee in 2016.
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) took aim at former Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday, attacking its former standard bearer for supporting President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Crist had been a Republican for much of his political career but in 2010, after supporting Obama’s federal stimulus, he left the GOP to continue his bid for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation. After backing Obama for a second term, Crist joined the Democrats at the end of last year.
Crist is now running for his new party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November. On Monday, Lenny Curry, the chairman of the RPOF, ripped into Crist.
“Why should Floridians elect someone that is doubling down on his support of a disastrous federal overreach like Obamacare?" Curry demanded on Monday morning. “Why would Floridians double down on a gubernatorial candidate who abandoned his post once before? We can’t afford Obamacare, and Floridians can’t afford Charlie Crist.”
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., said back in October he would not run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. But over the weekend, Smith, who made two bids for the Senate in Florida, said he would run to challenge U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in 2014.
First elected to the Senate in 1990 after six years in the U.S. House, Smith was one of the leading conservatives there for a decade. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2000 election cycle but pulled out in the summer of 1999 to run as an independent, arguing the GOP wasn’t conservative enough. Smith soon shifted back over to the Republicans and pulled the plug on his presidential bid. In 2002, he lost the Republican primary to John Sununu. Smith endorsed Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry over George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.
After leaving the Senate, Smith moved to Sarasota where he sold real estate and became active in Florida politics. Smith made a bid for the open Senate seat in Florida in 2004 but pulled out in April of that year, citing an inability to raise money. In 2010, Smith ran for the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat in Florida again but pulled out in March of that year noting frustrations with fundraising.
During his time in the Senate, Smith worked on a number of key issues for Florida including protecting the Everglades and keeping Elian Gonzalez in the U.S. instead of Cuba.