Jeb Bush Archives - Page 4 of 148 - Florida Politics

Martin Dyckman: On Jeb Bush’s relevance

Aiming to regain some relevance in the Republican Party, Jeb Bush argues that it should show voters that it stands “for a few a big ideas” rather than only for things to vote against.

Regrettably, four specific ideas that he proposed in a Nov. 24 Wall Street Journal op-ed are not simply big but bad.

“Republicans should support convening a constitutional convention to pass term limits, a balanced budget amendment and restraints on the Commerce Clause, which has given the federal government far more regulatory powers than the Founders intended,” he wrote.

By far the worst is the notion of calling a constitutional convention to pass anything. The Constitution obliges the Congress to call one upon the request of 34 states, but it says nothing about how delegates would be chosen or whether the agenda could be limited to any one issue or set of issues. The uncertainties are so potentially dangerous that this method of amendment has never gone far.

A convention could call for scrapping the entire Constitution, replacing it with we know not what.

The Constitution itself is the product of a convention that was called to revise, not replace, the feeble Articles of Confederation.

That was progress. In the current sour national mood, would a convention respect what’s good about the Constitution — the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary? Or would it reward the authoritarian instincts of an incoming president who has no respect for any of that?

Just this week, our budding dictator called for revoking the citizenship of people who burn the flag. Never mind that it’s the approved method for disposing of one that’s tattered or soiled.

Could a convention abolish the Electoral College? No, because there are not 38 states that would ratify such an amendment.

Would convention delegates be elected or appointed by the state legislatures, which are so badly gerrymandered as to be essentially unrepresentative? If delegates were to be elected, would the Koch Brothers and their big-money allies effectively buy themselves a convenient Constitution?

Bush’s suggestion of a convention as a means to term limits looks like a deep knee-bend to Donald Trump. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has already told Trump to forget about that one.

“We have term limits now. They’re called elections,” says McConnell. For once, I agree with him.

Senate elections can be brutally competitive—we’ve just seen some—except in the most extremely red or blue states. Everywhere, party primaries can and do dispose of seemingly entrenched senators. Indiana’s Richard Lugar comes to mind. As The Washington Post has noted, 64 of the 100 senators have been there less than 10 years, and slightly more than half the 435-member House are new since 2008.

House elections are not nearly as competitive as they should be, but that’s because of gerrymandering. The federal courts are finally showing signs of doing something about that.

The term limits initiative that Bush’s buddy Phil Handy foisted on Florida in 1992 ranks as the second worst mistake — behind secession — the state ever made. It did little to promote more turnover. It made the Legislature worse, dumbing it down and leaving it weaker against the lobbyists, its leadership and the executive branch.

If it weren’t for term limits, Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd—widely disliked but still powerful—could not have said, as he did in 2004, that his members were “like sheep, waiting for someone to tell them what to do.”

The damage works this way: Having only eight years to make their marks in the House or Senate, new members must follow the leaders or their bills won’t be heard and they will never become committee chairs.

In older, better days, legislators could dare to be independent in the knowledge that they could outlast unfriendly leaders. That was true of some who went on to become speakers and Senate presidents themselves. But now, in the House, a future speakership can be nailed down by a freshman who has not yet shown any good judgment or any other leadership quality.

“If you’ve sided with the wrong people, you’re in the doghouse or in the mid-tier, you are more likely to get attracted to any open county commission seat,” departing Sen. Daniel Webster told the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas in 2008.

Klas calculated that only 31 legislators remained from the 83 who had been elected when term limits disposed of their predecessors eight years earlier. But only five of the 83 had been voted out of office before their time ran out.

Although term limits have increased competition for open seats, they seem to be discouraging opposition to incumbents. Potential challengers wonder, reasonably, why they should invest time and money against an incumbent rather than wait for his or her enforced departure. The result: some incumbents could not care less what the voters might think of their deeds in Tallahassee.

What’s most wrong there, as in other state capitals, is the redistricting that leaves too many seats safe for one party or the other, giving the voters no effective choice. Of the 120 Florida legislators voting on new districts during a special session in October 2015, nearly a third—50—were elected without any primary or general election challenge.

As for Jeb’s other dubious reforms, I know of not nation that hogties itself the way a balanced budget amendment likely would, giving extreme power to minority voices in event of an emergency. History suggests an alternative: elect Democrats. Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress balanced the budget and generated a surplus.

As for the Commerce Clause, it was perhaps the single most important provision the Founders established to knit together the 13 independent states into a functioning economy. There is already a check on the Commerce Clause: It’s the Supreme Court, as the court implied in rejecting the clause as a justification for Obamacare, which it upheld only under a different provision, the power to tax.

The future of our country is already uncertain enough in the hands of an unqualified and irrational president-elect. We hardly need a constitutional convention, or any of Jeb Bush’s other bad ideas, to make things worse.

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Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper now known as the Tampa Bay Times.

Supreme Court candidates are all about conservatism

The first three candidates to be interviewed for state Supreme Court justice burnished their conservative credentials Monday afternoon.

The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission began interviewing the 11 applicants to replace retiring Justice James E.C. Perry, who departs the bench Dec. 30.

The nominating panel will forward six names by Dec. 13 to Gov. Rick Scott, who will then name Perry’s replacement.

This is Scott’s first chance to pick a state Supreme Court justice, and thus the first opportunity to expand the high court’s reliably conservative voting bloc, now only two justices: Charles Canady and Ricky Polston.

“I generally care about two things,” Scott has said about judicial appointees. “Are they going to be humble in the process, and are they going to uphold the law?” The governor, like the conservative GOP House majority, is a believer in judicial restraint.

First up on Monday were Wendy W. Berger, a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal; Alice L. Blackwell, a circuit judge in Orange County; and Roberta J. Bodnar, an assistant U.S. attorney in Ocala.

The judiciary’s job is to “apply the law, to interpret the law, but not to make it,” Berger told the panel.

She may have the most experience in death penalty cases, which now makes up roughly half of the Supreme Court’s caseload.

As an assistant general counsel, Berger was Gov. Jeb Bush’s point person on death sentences, helping him determine which cases were ripe for death warrants.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, based on a Florida case, requires unanimous jury recommendations before a judge can impose a death sentence.

But Berger told commissioners she doesn’t believe the Hurst ruling should be retroactive: “That would open a large amount of floodgates we don’t need to see.”

Asked about professionalism, she said dissenting from a majority opinion should mean “you can disagree without being disagreeable.”

She quickly added, “You can be open minded to other points of view, but if they’re outside the law, I’m not going to agree for the sake of collegiality.”

Berger also played up her trial court experience as a circuit judge, saying “if you want to call balls and strikes, you need to have played the game.”

Blackwell, a judicial appointee of Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, played defense early and often, mentioning her “conservative judicial philosophy” and saying she was “not an activist judge.”

The judge played up her rural South Carolina upbringing – “You can probably hear it in my voice” – and said she worked her way through school as a church organist.

She was 34 when she first applied to be a judge, and said she was the second youngest person to become a judge when appointed in 1991. Blackwell followed the footsteps of her “Uncle Joe,” a judge who held the Bible at her swearing-in.

Blackwell said she follows the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s concept of ‘originalism’: “What do the words mean that are in the law?”

She distinguished herself from activists who say what the law “ought to be.”

“That’s not a judge’s job,” Blackwell told the panel. “I don’t legislate from the bench.”

But, she was asked, what about when courts, even the Supreme Court, have misinterpreted a law? 

“I hope I would have the intellectual and moral fortitude to say we got it wrong and we need to change it,” she said.

Bodnar, unlike Berger and Blackwell, sat for her interview with no notes. She too espoused restraint in interpreting the law, saying judges should “apply the law” and not “invent it.”

“The law belongs the people,” she said, a theme she revisited later in her interview. “Start with the law, never start with instinct.”

Bodnar, however, bristled at a question on her lack of judicial experience, referring to her analytical skill in a brief she submitted as a writing sample.

“I wrote that brief, and it’s good,” she told commissioners. “I don’t need to have put on a black robe.”

She also was asked about her long-standing “BV” Martindale-Hubbell peer rating, which she’s had for 23 years. “BV” is similar to a silver medal; “AV” is considered the gold standard.

Bodnar smiled, saying the only reason she sought a rating in the first place was to ensure a pay bump from her then-boss, state Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Getting rated or getting published was the only way he’d give a raise, she said.

Finally, when asked about a right to bear arms, Bodnar said she “believe(s) in a personal right to bear arms,” adding that she has a concealed carry permit.

The interviews, which are taking place in Orlando, continue through the afternoon and are being livestreamed by The Florida Channel.

Florida school choice advocates praise selection of Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Florida leaders praised Donald Trump’s choice of education secretary, calling Betsy DeVos an excellent pick.

The president-elect announced Wednesday he tapped DeVos, 58, to lead the federal agency. The choice reinforces his pledge to make school choice an education priority. In September, he pledged to funnel $20 billion in existing federal dollars into scholarships for low-income students, an idea that would require congressional approval.

“Students, parents, and education reformers across the United States should be thrilled by the selection of Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education.  Betsy is a tireless, fearless, and intelligent national leader in high quality education,” said House Speaker Richard Corcoran in a statement. “I can think of no one better to break down bureaucratic barriers, eliminate the institutional intransigence on school choice, and reduce federal costs and interference in the state and local decision-making process.”

A supporter of school choice, Corcoran railed against the state’s largest teacher’s union in his fist remarks as Florida House Speaker. The Land O’Lakes Republican said the Florida Education was “fixated on halting innovation and competition,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Corcoran pointed to the ongoing fight over the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program as an example. The program helps low-income children attend private schools. The teacher’s union has been fighting the program in the courts for years, saying it diverts money from traditional public education.

The Associated Press reported that DeVos’ support of school choice goes back more than 20 years. She was politically involved in the passage of Michigan’s charter school bill in 1993 and worked on an unsuccessful effort to change Michigan’s state constitution to allow tax-credit scholarships or vouchers. She has described that loss as her biggest setback.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush also praised Trump’s decision, saying she “is an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education.”

“She has a long and distinguished history championing the right of all parents to choose schools that best ensure their children’s success. Her allegiance is to families, particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next,” he said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “I cannot think of more effective and passionate change agent to press for a new education vision, one in which students, rather than adults and bureaucracies, become the priority in our nation’s classrooms.”

 DeVos’ appointment is subject to confirmation by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Lamar Alexander said the Senate’s education committee would move swiftly on the nomination in January.

The new education secretary will oversee implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal law passed last year to replace No Child Left Behind. The Higher Education Act is up for reauthorization.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

Personnel note: Dave Murzin joins Liberty Partners of Tallahassee as NW Florida director

Former state Rep. Dave Murzin has joined Liberty Partners of Tallahassee as the firm’s Northwest Florida Director.

“We are honored to have Dave join forces with the Liberty Partners team.” said firm owner and President Jennifer Green in a statement. “This strategic partnership gives us the opportunity to continue to work with a longtime friend and colleague in a region of the state where we all have a strong connection.”

A former state legislator and longtime legislative staffer, Murzin has experience in both the public and private sector. Murzin served in the Florida House from 2002 until 2010.

While in the House, Murzin was appointed by former House Speaker Larry Cretul to the Florida Council on Military Base and Mission Support.

He also served on the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council, was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to both the Joint Select Committee on Hurricane Insurance and the Property Tax Reform Committee, was appointed by former House Speaker and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to the Joint Property Tax Reform Committee, and served on the Escambia County Utilities Authority Administrative Advisory Committee.

Before serving in the Florida House, he served as a top staffer to Jeff Miller, a former congressman and member of the Florida House, and former House Majority Leader Jerry Maygarden.

“I appreciate the opportunity to join the Liberty Partners team,” said Murzin in a statement. “This team and their clients represent the conservative philosophies and policies that I have supported my entire legislative career. I look forward to working on issues important to the Northwest Florida area and especially my hometown of Pensacola.”

Murzin and his son, Benjamin, live in Pensacola.

In remembrance: Janet Reno

Newspapers were rolling in dough in the late 20th century. Reporters had expense accounts and plenty of public officials were happy to let them pick up the check.

Not Janet Reno. She paid her own way, spoke for herself, and did not require those around her to bow, scrape, or screen calls to her home phone, which was in the book and accessible to the folks who paid her salary.

The former Dade County state attorney and United States attorney general under Bill Clinton needed no help to “craft the message.” She did not lard the public payroll with puppet masters to put words in her mouth about the “Hot Topics” of the day.

Harry Truman had done all the “message development” Reno would ever need.

Time after time after time, Reno faced hostile citizens, taxpayers, Congressional committees, and reporters. Her talking point never varied. “The buck stops here. With me.”

Reno was the state attorney in 1980, when riots broke out in Miami after her office failed to convict four white police officers accused of beating an unarmed black man to death. A dozen people died, and hundreds more were injured before the National Guard could restore order. Reno walked through the wreckage —alone, unarmed and unguarded — to take accountability with angry, distraught survivors.

Reno came from a storied Miami family that knew the difference between real friends and transactional friends. She was a star in a generation of lawyers that knew you can’t win if you’re afraid to lose. All of that would serve her well in jobs where making life-and-death decisions was just a normal day at the office.

Reno had hoped to continue in public life as her party’s standard bearer against Jeb Bush in the 2002 governor’s race. But the denizens of the Democrats backed the more malleable Bill McBride, leaving history to wonder if Bush could have crushed Reno as easily as he demolished McBride.

The memory of Reno standing in front of a bank of microphones, answering hostile questions truthfully until her interrogators gave up in exhaustion, is a source of pride to Florida, and an enduring example of what real accountability looks like.

Super Tuesday: Sally Bradshaw opens Midtown Reader in Tallahassee

Sally Bradshaw has the perfect distraction for this crazy election cycle: books.

For the past few months, she has been neck-deep in bestsellers, up to her eyeballs in thrillers and focused on Florida favorites. She’s asked everyone she knows for a recommendation, and has been fixated on creating the perfect spot for literary lovers in the capital city.

All of that work will pay off Tuesday, when Bradshaw opens Midtown Reader, her independent bookstore in the heart of Tallahassee’s Midtown neighborhood.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Gov. Jeb Bush.

The Havana resident announced her plans to open the store earlier this year. In the months since, she’s traveled the country meeting with booksellers and shop owners to get a feel for the industry. When she wasn’t in meetings, she was at the shop, making sure every detail was just right.

The result? A cozy, 1,500-square-foot store filled to the brim with books. An estimated 10,000 books will fill the shelves when the doors open this week, and Bradshaw said she hopes the “eclectic mix” will attract readers from throughout Tallahassee.

“Tallahassee is a well-read town,” she said. “Regardless of who you speak to, everyone is reading something different.”

She’s hoping the bookstore will become a destination for book lovers across the region, a place where readers can stop by, browse the shelves and chat about their favorite piece of prose.

“There’s a lot of advantages to the social media world we live in, but the experience that’s missing on the internet is it’s very difficult to browse,” she said. “There’s value in being able to go into an independent bookstore and being able to browse. We’re really attentive to building a community of readers.”

That means spending a full day spent writing the staff recommendations that line the shelves, building a team “that loves reading and talking about books,” and quirky displays to draw in customers.

And while Midtown Reader is a general interest bookstore, expect to see a focus on literary fiction and Southern literature, especially Florida authors. Bradshaw and her team, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, are trying to build a “definitive Florida author list.”

Her dedication to Florida authors is already on display. The first in-store event — scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5 —  features Craig Pittman, author of “Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country.”

The selection of Sunshine State books isn’t the only thing Bradshaw is proud of; the store boasts a large children’s and young adult section. The curator of the “Kidtown Readers” section is a former teacher with a “wealth of knowledge” about children’s books.

The store will hold a grand opening event Saturday, Nov. 12. Parents, take note: Curious George and Martha the Talking Dog are expected to make appearances. Poet David Kirby is scheduled to host a book signing and author mix-and-mingle at 5:30 p.m.

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Despite end of formal fundraising, Donald Trump to hold breakfast event at Doral Wednesday

Donald Trump may have said he was scaling back on high-dollar fundraising — ending with a Las Vegas luncheon held last week — but it didn’t mean he wasn’t quite done raising money.

The Republican nominee, joined by Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus and former ambassador Mel Sembler, among others, returns to Florida for a breakfast event Wednesday at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

Proceeds will go to boost Trump Victory, an organization Trump established with the RNC to help pay for staff and other ground operations supporting Trump and other down-ballot Republicans. Sembler, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman and board member of Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC, became vice chair in May.

Listed on the invite is a host committee that includes Priebus, Sembler, Trump Victory Finance Chairs Louis Eisenberg and Brian Ballard, as well as Steven Mnuchin, who chairs the Donald J. Trump for President committee.

Last week, Mnuchin told The Washington Post that Trump Victory’s last formal fundraiser was held Oct. 19.

The invite provided no information on the upcoming fundraiser, saying supporters will get further details upon RSVP.

The campaign also announced his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will be visiting Utah Wednesday, a formerly solid Republican state where polling shows Trump’s chances of winning are at risk.

Miami GOP rainmaker Mike Fernandez endorses Patrick Murphy, gives $100K

Mike Fernandez is backing Democrat Patrick Murphy in his race against Republican Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate.

Fernandez, the Miami billionaire who is one of the nation’s largest GOP funders, announced his support of Murphy to the Miami Herald Friday morning. He told reporters the main reason he’s voting for Murphy is the Jupiter Democrat’s support for lifting the Cuba embargo.

As well as voting for Murphy, the Herald also reports Fernandez has given $100,000 to a pro-Murphy super PAC.

Fernandez has been a longtime Republican fundraiser — giving more than $3 million this cycle to a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s presidential run — and briefly served as finance chair for Gov. Rick Scott‘s 2014 re-election bid.

However, in September Fernandez announced he was formally endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

 

Old-guard money pouring in for John Mica in CD 7

The old guard of Orlando-Winter Park Republican politics is coming to the aid of U.S. Rep. John Mica in his hard-fought re-election battle, with tens of thousands of dollars pouring in the past few days for the 12-term incumbent in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The donations include one from Garry Jones, president of Full Sail University, the for-profit school to which Republican Mica’s Democratic opponent Stephanie Murphy has close ties.

Jones had previously contributed $2,700 to Mica in February, but that was long before his business partner’s daughter-in-law, Murphy, entered the race in late June. On Thursday Jones donated another $2,700 to Mica’s campaign, demonstrating a point Murphy had once made, that Full Sail’s leadership, long politically active and generous in Central Florida politics, is also bipartisan. Jones’ wife and Full Sail’s chief information officer, Isis Jones, also donated $2,700 to Mica on Thursday, adding to the $2,700 she donated to him in February.

They weren’t alone.

According to 48-hour notices the campaigns now must post with the Federal Elections Commission, since last Thursday Mica’s campaign pulled in $2,000 from Marcos Marchena; $1,000 from Frank Kruppenbacher; $1,500 from Robert Saltsman; $5,400 apiece from Orlando Magic Owner Richard DeVos and his wife Helen DeVos, and at least $2,700 each from seven other members of the DeVos family; and $2,700 from Orlando timeshare mogul David Siegel;, all prominent Republicans in the Orlando community. Mica also got $5,000 from the JEB PAC of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

All totaled, Mica’s campaign attracted $44,400 since last Thursday, according to two 48-hour notices his campaign has filed.

Murphy’s campaign has filed only one 48-hour notice so far. It showed $13,800 in donations, including $1,000 from former Florida Sen. Daryl Jones and $5,400 from the Service Employees International Union Committee On Political Education.

CBS poll shows dead heat between Patrick Murphy, Marco Rubio

The Patrick Murphy campaign had more to cheer about Sunday after a CBS News poll showed the first-term congressman within striking distance of incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

The poll showed Rubio with 44 percent support among registered Florida voters compared to 42 percent support for Murphy, with 8 percent undecided and 6 percent saying they would vote for a different candidate.

Last week a poll from Opinion Savvy showed the Murphy, a Democrat, tied with Rubio at 46 percent support, and a Quinnipiac University poll showed Rubio ahead by 2 points.

In addition to the head-to-head, the poll also asked voters who they would choose if they could change their vote in the Republican Primary, and Donald Trump came out on top with 21 percent of the vote, followed by John Kasich with 17 percent.

Rubio, who placed second in the Florida Primary back in the spring, was the third place finisher in the with 15 percent support. Another 12 percent said they would have voted for Jeb Bush and 9 percent picked Ted Cruz, while the remaining 26 percent said they would vote for “someone else.”

The poll also showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with 46 percent support compared to 43 percent for Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson polled at 3 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein took 2 percent.

The CBS News poll was conducted over the internet Oct. 20 and 21 and received 1,042 responses. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

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