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21 posts from November 7, 2012

November 07, 2012

Mack's wife loses race in California congressional seat

Bono MackOne of Washington's most powerful political couples has lost its clout. Mary Bono Mack, the wife of U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, appears to have been defeated on Tuesday after a difficult match-up against a newcomer in her Palm Springs, California, district.

Bono Mack, a 14-year veteran, was losing to Democrat Raul Ruiz, an emergency room doctor late Wednesday, although she had refused to concede because of a number of uncounted ballots. She was first elected to replace her previous husband, singer Sonny Bono, in Congress after his death in a skiing accident. 

Her husband, Connie Mack IV, also lost his election bid on Tuesday, falling to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson 55-42 percent. He was elected to Congress in 2004 and the couple was married in 2006. Story here. 

Democrats chip away at GOP power in Tallahassee

Before Tuesday, Florida Republicans had the wind at their back — record amounts of special interest money, a veto-proof majority in the Legislature and unbridled power all over the state.

But the muscle flexing appeared to backfire and the special interest money, this time, did not translate into landslide victories. Voters delivered a series of election night losses for Florida’s power party. President Barack Obama holds a lead over Mitt Romney. Legislature-backed amendments were mostly defeated. The GOP drive to remake the Supreme Court failed and the Republicans lost their supermajority in the House and Senate.

Even the projected future speaker of the House — one of the most moneyed and powerful Republicans in the state — is in danger of losing his seat to an underfunded political neophyte.

“Florida sent a clear message to us as legislators that they are not pleased with the direction we’re taking them,” said former Senator and Representative-elect Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican. “I think a message was sent [Tuesday] night to the Legislature, and to Gov. [Rick] Scott.”

Led by Scott, the Legislature has tacked sharply to the right in the past two years, passing or pursuing measures backed by the tea party and the business lobby, while slashing funding for schools and social programs.

Read more here

 

Why The Miami Herald's pre-election poll was so far off.

Pre-Election Day polls in Florida predicting Mitt Romney would comfortably win the state’s 29 electoral votes were quite wrong, it turns out.

Though some absentee ballots are still being counted, Romney is narrowly trailing President Barack Obama.

Last week, a survey conducted for the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9, Miami Herald and two other media partners showed Florida almost deep red — with Romney winning 51-45.

Three weeks before that, the same polling firm, Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, had Romney ahead 51-44.

A poll conducted for the Florida Times-Union the Sunday before Election Day called it Romney 52, Obama 47.

Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker said the shift was not caused by polling error, but because Obama moved the needle with his handling of Hurricane Sandy.

Continue reading "Why The Miami Herald's pre-election poll was so far off." »

A polling place at Marlins' ballpark? Why not, Miami-Dade mayor says

With up to seven hour waits to vote early in Miami-Dade County last week, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Wednesday he would like to double or triple the number of early-voting sites for the next presidential election.

So how about one at Marlins Park?

"Why not?" Gimenez told The Miami Herald, which first raised the issue. "It'd be great. Close the roof, too -- make it air conditioned."

Problem is, the state only allows early-voting sites at municipal-owned buildings such as libraries and city halls. Despite being funded mostly by public money, the Marlins' new Little Havana ballpark would not qualify.

"We can get the concessions going. We can have a ton of people voting there," Gimenez said about the staidum. "We can have a ton of people voting there and have a baseball game, how about that?

"But we can't -- not for early voting."

Miami-Dade has long asked state lawmakers to allow other early-voting locations. Gimenez said Wednesday he plans to continue making that request.

And, he said, who knows? Maybe the ballpark could serve as a precinct on Election Day.

Miami-Dade mayor to ask Gov. Rick Scott, state lawmakers to extend early voting

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez intends to ask Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators to extend early voting allowed under Florida law for future elections, following lines up to seven hours long to vote in his county.

"We need to talk to the governor and legislature to extend early-voting hours," Gimenez told reporters Wednesday. "And also ask the state Legislature not to give us a 10-page ballot next time."

The mayor also plans to ask the state to allow counties to open early-voting sites in more locations. State law only allows polling places at libraries and municipal buildings such as city halls. Miami-Dade has made the request unsuccessfully in the past; Gimenez said he would like to double or triple the number of sites for the next presidential election.

Leading up to Tuesday's election, the mayor -- a Republican in a nonpartisan post -- took flak from voters and Democrats who urged Gimenez to ask the governor, who is also a Republican, to extend early voting by executive authority. Gimenez refused to do so, saying he did not want the rules changed once voting had begun.

Then came Election Day, with more long lines in a handful of precincts where voting stretched into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, after the presidential race had been called.

Continue reading "Miami-Dade mayor to ask Gov. Rick Scott, state lawmakers to extend early voting" »

After loss, where does David Rivera go from here?

A day after losing his seat to Democrat Joe Garcia, Republican Congressman David Rivera said he has not set future plans.

"I'm going to get with my family and friends and supporters and discuss how I can best continue to contribute to our community's best interests, whether that be in public office or out of public office," he said. "Time will tell."

Rivera blamed his loss on President Barack Obama's coattails.

"I think an analysis of the results demonstrates that the presidential election had a significant impact on several congressional races, including my own," Rivera said.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney under-performed in Miami-Dade compared to John McCain four years ago, Rivera noted.

"It makes it tough for Republicans down ballot to be successful."

Rivera also addressed his party's performance among Hispanics more broadly.

Earlier Wednesday, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican who was easily reelected Tuesday, told WLRN-Miami Herald News she was happy she "survived this Republican onslaught."

When asked about her party's appeal to Hispanics, she compared the GOP to addicts who first need to stop denying they have a problem in order to solve it. "We're not admitting, 'Dude, we have a problem,'" she lamented.

Rivera agreed.

"We as a party are at a critical juncture in terms of addressing our support among non-Cuban Hispanics," he said. "Unless we recognize the importance of being more responsive to their concerns, it's going to make it increasingly difficult to elect Republicans in districts with significant non-Cuban Hispanic constituencies."

Scott gives post-election reaction

After meeting with top education officials Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott took some time to answer a few questions about the election.

Florida was in the news as a razor-thin race, and it was the only state that hadn't been called by the time most networks ended their presidential coverage last night.

Part of the reason was the close margins--less than 100,000 votes separated Mitt Romney and Pres. Obama out of more than 8.3 million cast. But another contributor was the fact that people were still voting as late as 1:45 a.m. in South Florida, due to wait times that lasted six and seven hours in parts of the state. In several cities and counties across the state of Florida, both early voting and election day voting were plagued by long lines.

Scott stopped short of criticizing the process, saying that he would be sitting down with the Secretary of State to see how the state could improve.

"One thing I think we always ought to be doing is always look at when we finish something and say, ‘What can we improve?’" he said. "So I’ll be sitting down with the Secretary of State’s Office to look at the things that we can improve."

He then went on to talk about the positives--high turnout and great interest in early and absentee voting.

Scott also gave reaction to the outcome of the presidential race:

"Our country knows that the biggest issue we have is jobs," he said. "So President Obama is re-elected. My goal is that we’d all come together. We unite to focus on what our families need. They need jobs."

He was asked if Obama's victory and the strong showing by Democrats up and down the ballot caused him to worry him about 2014.

"I travel the state everyday. I talk to families everyday. I know what they care about and it’s what I’m focused on," he said. "Is, one, making sure that in our state people can get a job, and, two, making sure children can get an education and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”

He was also asked about the resounding failure of eight of 11 amendments placed on the ballot by the Legislature. Many people blame the long, confusing amendments on causing logjam at the polls and leading to massive lines. Scott simply said the amendment proposals were all part of the democratic process. He also distanced himself from the failed amendments, even though he publicly pushed for some of them.

"As you know the amendments don’t come to the governor’s office. They only go through the Legislature," he said. "I think that we live in a great state where people have the opportunity to participate in the election. people can propose things and they’re either going to pass or not going to pass."

Obama's victory also means Obamacare--which Scott has criticized--is here to stay.

Scott's thoughts: "What I think about when I look at anything with regard to Obamacare: Is it good for a patient? Did it help them reduce their cost or get access to health care? Can taxpayers pay for it? What’s it going to do to jobs?"

--reporting by Tia Mitchell

 

 

 

Allen West seeks recount but he isn't in recount margin

U.S. Rep. Allen West lost by 2,456 votes to Democrat Patrick Murphy, according to the tallies in Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties -- placing him outside the margin  of a recount in District 18. But West is calling for a recount. Here is his statement from campaign manager Tim Edson:

"This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome.  Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance.  There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district.   Late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections "recounted" thousands of early ballots.  Following that "recount" Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes.   In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed, in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results.  The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor's office last night could only be described as complete chaos.   Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections,  we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County.   We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly,  and accordingly will pursue all legal means necessary."    

State elections spokesman Chris Cate said: "If the percentage does not fit within the statutory criteria for recounts, there exists no statutory mechanism for a candidate, group or anyone else to have a recount done by the state or any supervisor of elections.   Also, we will not know if a recount is within the required percentage until we receives the 1st set of unofficial returns from each of the counties involved.  They are not due until noon, Saturday. 

Door closing on Dorworth's reelection?

Down goes Dorworth? It's still too early to call, but the the expected future Speaker of the Florida House could be on the wrong way of one of the biggest political upsets in the Florida Legislature's history

Last night, we reported that Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, was 37 votes behind his Democratic challenger with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Now, we've learned from the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections that all absentee ballots have been counted and only an unknown number of provisional ballot remain. No military ballots will be counted in this race.

Are they enough to close the gap for Dorworth? There's no way to know, but the Supervisor's note shows that the door may be closing on Dorworth.

It would be a stunning political upset for a future speaker and incoming House Majority Leader to be ousted by a challenger who was outspent more than 5-to-1.

A veteran political reporter here tells us such a coup may have happened only once before in recent Florida politics.

In 1988, Sam Bell, D-Ormond Beach, lost a shocker to Dick Graham, a lawyer. Bell was in line to become Speaker in 1990. 

This morning's memo from Seminole elections supervisor, Mike Ertel, is below:

Continue reading "Door closing on Dorworth's reelection?" »

Democrats reflect on Florida successes: seeds of rebuilding effort

Scott Randolph, a former state representative and Orange County Democratic chairman, stood before a crowd of 200 supporters Tuesday night and declared they had changed the swing in the crucial swing state county.

The central Florida county is the buckle in the I-4 corridor’s belt and had been a long-time Republican stronghold, but on Tuesday it was clear that tradition had ended. “We are the face of the I-4 corridor and we have won,’’ Randolph said, noting that Democrats not only won their state legislative seats but all important countywide seats.

Randolph, a former legislator who retired because of term limits, was elected Orange County tax collector on Tuesday night when he became a last-minute replacement candidate for the incumbent who died, Earl K. Wood. He remains a candidate for state Democratic Party chairman.

"This election is a referendum on a state legislature that is far out of step with the public,'' Randolph said. He blames "gerrymandered districts" and a Republican majority that "puts ideology before policy."

Continue reading "Democrats reflect on Florida successes: seeds of rebuilding effort" »