Weekly Roundup: The Inevitable Battle Begins

By: Brandon Larrabee News Service of Florida | Posted: August 30, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist and Rick Scott

Charlie Crist and Rick Scott

With the unofficial beginning of campaign season just around the corner, Florida voters headed to the polls this week to choose their nominees for governor and seats in the Legislature.

Or, at least, to finish the predetermined coronations in many of those races. There never seemed to be any real danger that either of the leading gubernatorial candidates would lose their primaries. And virtually every incumbent on the ballot Tuesday was still standing on Wednesday.

But the election wasn't the only battle that moved into a new phase. As candidates began to turn their attention to the broader electorate, opponents of the state's de facto school-voucher program were going from the court of public opinion to the actual courts. Almost four months after the Legislature followed through on a promise to expand eligibility for the voucher program, groups opposed to the move filed a lawsuit that could lead to the entire system being overturned.


For the most part, there were few surprises in the primaries Tuesday night. Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, cruised through primaries against lesser-known candidates.

Crist easily defeated former Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich and was officially welcomed by his new party as its nominee. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman from Broward County, praised Crist and running-mate Annette Taddeo as working-class champions.

"Charlie and Annette have embraced policies that will help Florida's middle-class families, a stark contrast to the current governor, Republican Rick Scott, who is beholden to special interests and radical tea party ideology," she said in a statement.

Scott handily defeated two obscure GOP opponents, Yinka Abosede Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder. But the Scott team's primary focus has long been on Crist.

"The next few months are about talk versus action," Scott said. "That means Florida will have a choice between a governor who sent our state into a tailspin and a governor who gets results."

In a marginally competitive statewide race, former Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon beat House Minority Leader Perry Thurston in the Democratic primary for attorney general.

"I believe the attorney general is the people's lawyer, not the governor's lawyer, and not the Legislature's lawyer," Sheldon told supporters during a victory party at the Wine Loft Wine Bar in Tallahassee. "Help me give Pam Bondi the job she really wants, as an anchor on FOX News."

Bondi wasted little time in both congratulating Sheldon and challenging him to a debate.

"The voters will have a clear choice between candidates in this election, and they deserve to hear directly from us on the distinct difference in visions and leadership that each candidate will offer to the attorney general's office," Bondi said in a prepared statement.

Races in the House provided the sole state-level incumbent to go down and the usual bit of Florida elections drama.

In Central Florida, Rep. Ricardo Rangel, D-Kissimmee, was defeated in his bid for a second term by John Cortes, vice chairman of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida. State Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant seemed just fine with Cortes beating the incumbent.

"From his time as a police officer to his extensive work as an activist in Osceola County, John has always put his fellow community members ahead of himself," Tant said in a statement. "I look forward to working with John to ensure that the residents of District 43 continue to have representation that puts the middle class first this fall."

Meanwhile, the costly and bitterly fought Republican primary in Duval County's House District 15 turned into a nail-biter between Jay Fant, a tea party-style candidate, and Paul Renner, who had much of the local establishment behind him. Fant, who loaned his campaign $375,000, ended up with a two-vote margin of victory after a manual recount and is now almost certain to replace Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville.


Scott didn't wait until he had officially dispatched his challengers to start rolling out what will clearly be one of the central themes of his campaign. He unveiled an education agenda Monday that included promises to review the number of tests being administered to Florida students and to take further steps to rein in the cost of college if he wins a second term in November.

"We want to make sure that our students have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in their careers, and we want to make sure our teachers have every tool they need to make that possible," Scott said.

The call for an investigation of standardized testing is noteworthy, given that Republicans interested in education reform have long looked at assessments as a way to judge how well schools are educating children. In 2011, Scott signed a bill that more closely tied teacher pay to student performance on standardized tests

A brochure outlining Scott's proposals seemed to place the blame for the amount of testing on local school districts.

But Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder of the advocacy group Fund Education Now, said blaming local school districts was disingenuous, because many of the tests they require are tied to state laws. Districts will have to create tests for some courses under the teacher-pay law that Scott signed, Oropeza said.

On higher education, Scott said he would push for a requirement that colleges outline the costs of textbooks and other materials before students register for classes.

In his official capacity, the governor joined Education Commissioner Pam Stewart on a jaunt across the state to welcome students back to school. Crist's campaign cried foul on that.

"Floridians should not be fooled by Rick Scott's shameful, taxpayer-funded campaign events this week," spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said in a statement. "Scott's back-to-school tour should be an apology tour for the $4.8 billion he wanted to cut and the $1.3 billion he did cut from education."


"That's all I can stands; I can't stands no more," the cartoon character Popeye used to say -- and a coalition of groups, including the state's largest teachers' union, essentially said the same thing this week in launching a legal assault on Florida's de facto school-voucher program.

The lawsuit comes after the Legislature approved a bill this spring that would expand eligibility for the program and increase the value of scholarships given to participating students. While one of the central claims of the lawsuit -- that the program gets in the way of the state's responsibility to provide a quality education to all children -- could have been made for years now, those filing the challenge said the expansion forced their hand.

Ron Meyer, an attorney for the groups, said while education advocates were willing to allow the program to go forward initially, "this has become an industry."

"It's a money-maker for scholarship-funding organizations," Meyer said. "And it's a program that we think is a dereliction of the constitutional requirement (to provide public education)."

The Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which could raise as much as $357.8 million this year, provides tax credits to companies that donate money to nonprofit entities that pay for children to go to private schools.

Without the scholarship program, critics say, those tax dollars could be used to help fund public education. But supporters say the program provides better opportunities for low- or middle-income children trapped in failing public schools.

Republicans, who led the charge to institute and then broaden the voucher program, saw things a bit differently. Those attacking the scholarships were actually the special interests.

"This lawsuit is just the latest attack on parental choice by an entrenched education establishment more concerned about protecting the status quo than providing families the opportunities afforded by a great education," said former Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed the legislation creating the program and is still an influential figure in the state's education debates.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Primary elections cleared the way for general elections, including the long-awaited battle between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist for control of the governor's mansion.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "We're not the Rick Scott campaign. We can't go whenever and whatever we want on TV. We have to make choices. So why would we make the choice to go spend a bunch of money in a primary that we know we're going to win?" -- Steve Schale, a consultant for the Crist campaign, on why the former governor essentially ignored primary opponent Nan Rich.


Tags: News, Politics

Comments (2)

And they are trying to label Crist a Rothstein mob friend
3:56PM AUG 31ST 2014
In the late 1970’s Tampa-Miami mob boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. financed fellow Cuban mobster Miguel Recarey, Jr. to start up HMO, Inc. in Miami, Florida Soon it was flipped into IMC. The nation’s first largest Medicare scheme was concocted by Jeb Bush and his calls to HHS when his father was VP under Reagan for his partner Miguel Recarey, Jr. (IMC) called “International Medical Centers”. Recarey fled the country under indictment with over $2 million in IRS refunds made possible by Jeb Bush which he tried to share with GHW Bush’s 1988 campaign before fleeing. IMC was taken over by state regulators in mid-1987 and sold to Humana Inc., the company continued receiving more than $30 million in federal Medicare money each month to treat and care for Medicare patients. Humana rolled the IMC assets into Galen Hospital and packaged it for Jeb Bush to pick up along with the $30 million per month Medicare cash flow.
Jeb Bush calls in brother George W’s and his old friends and fellow Texas Rangers partners to pick up the Medicare scheme. Richard Rainwater who in 1984 hired Michael Eisner to run Disney in his leveraged buy out for the Texas Bass brothers. On the day the stock market crashed in October 1987, Rick Scott and Richard Rainwater each put up $125,000 to start a company to pick up these assets which would eventually be called Columbia Hospital Corporation. Now in 1987 along with Rick Scott with the help of Jeb Bush they were able to pick up the pieces of the South Florida HMO organizations of Miguel Recarey, Jr. (International Medical Centers) and their already organized and in progress Medicare Fraud establishment.

Richard (Rick) Lynn Scott: - Texas License Date: 11/06/1978 - Bar Card Number 17909700
was a partner with Johnson & Swanson (established in 1970) Rick Scott’s Dallas, Tx clients list included Tom Hicks and Scott became partner’s with Hicks and George W. Bush in the Texas Rangers. From then on it was Richard Rainwater, Richard (Rick) Lynn Scott and the Bush boys making bucks any was they could.

Tennessee US Senator Bill Frist and his brother Tommy Frist both doctor’s merged their HCA into Columbia and it was renamed Columbia/ HCA with Richard (Rick) Lynn Scott as CEO. We have all seen the video’s by now of Rick Scott taking the fifth seventy-five times to keep from incriminating himself. In 1997 the Frist’s brothers and other major stock holders including the Bush family Fidelity Mutual decided it was time for Rick Scott to go. Rick Scott left with millions of which every cent was derived of his criminal conspiracy to defraud the US taxpayers Medicare funds.

Columbia/ HCA was merged into Tenet Hospitals which was already controlled by Bush family stockholders. President - Fetter, Trevor, 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas, TX 75202 declared he was serving on an interim basis. He continues that interim service to this day.

By May 2007 and after leaving the Florida governor’s office Rick Scott’s partner Jeb Bush salvaged control of their schemes and became the sole Director of Tenet Healthcare Corporation where he continues to “service” the taxpayers with Medicare Fraud, over billings and other such hospital related schemes on behave of the Bush family and their partners and friends they put in high places like Rick Scott.
Every word contained herein is factual. For those who are not to lazy to do their homework most of the facts and supporting corporate records can be found in public documents available online.
3:15PM AUG 30TH 2014
You would have to be absolutely nuts to vote for Scott or Crist. Why vote between 2 known liars? Florida, we are fortunate enough not to
be stuck picking one liar or the other this time. We actually have an
alternative. Take advantage of the opportunity. Adrian Wyllie deserves
my vote. He is a honest average Floridian just as you and I , that is
willing to stand up and do something for the interest of all of us here
in Florida. The other candidates both Republican and Democrat are owned
and controlled by special interest, like puppets and will lie to your
face to gain your vote, then continue the same old agenda that we
complain about year after year. Time to get off this merry-go-round,
election after election, thinking it will be any different. Take a
stand, vote for the candidate that loves this state and is willing to
take time out of his life, effort and money to SERVE the people of
Florida and stop voting for these ‘paid for’ career politicians that are
only out for money and fame and have zero interest in us Floridians.
Even if it’s just for honesty alone, vote for Adrian Wyllie instead of
the other two (Scott/Crist) which are proven liars. The choice is yours
and yours alone, if you want the same old corruption and slap in the
face, go ahead and vote for one of the two puppets (Scott/Crist) OR do
what is right for our (yours and your children’s) future and vote for
Adrian Wyllie. Support him by donating to his campaign, spreading the
word and contribute to the super brochure program which I think is very
powerful. Visit his website today.

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