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19 posts from November 8, 2012

November 08, 2012

George P. Bush's long road to the White House begins with TX bid, donations from FL

Picture 4From an email sent by Miami lawyer/Bush family insider Luis Gazitua to "friends, floridians, Republicans....:'

Tuesday's elections proved that our party needs to broaden our appeal and rebuild in an inclusive manner with a new generation of leaders.

In order to begin this transformation, we must begin investing in rising stars within our party and I am confident that with thoughtful and forward thinking messengers such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and George P. Bush we will emerge stronger than ever.

As a friend of George P’s next generation movement, I wanted to let you know that yesterday George created an exploratory committee to begin looking at running for statewide office in Texas. Should you be inclined to support his efforts with some seed capital, checks can be made payable to: George P. Bush Campaign.


Miami-Dade mayor asks four commissioners to join elections advisory group

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has invited four commissioners to join an elections advisory group he will convene in the wake of the long lines county voters experienced on Election Day.

Gimenez sent letters to Commissioners Lynda Bell, Sally Heyman, Dennis Moss and Rebeca Sosa on Wednesday asking them to form part of the group and identify other community leaders who could participate. The group will conduct a precinct-by-precinct review of what happened Tuesday and make recommendations to the county -- including some to relay to Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers on early voting.

"We could always stand for improvement, and we will," Heyman said at a commission meeting Thursday.

Another commissioner, Javier Souto, also weighed in.

"Democracy is alive and well, and it worked -- it worked very well," he said. "The system got a little bit, uh, difficult at times, but it was about the people, too."

"I think there's always ways to improve on the mechanics of the thing," he added. "We have the best democratic system in the world."

The Economist cover story headline: "Now, hug a Republican"

The Economist chimes in on Obama's victory with its cover story...

This past Tuesday, Barack Obama won his bid for re-election and by a larger margin than many expected.  The Economist's cover  this week argues that he must now swallow his pride and work with the Republicans. The leader also explores how a budget deal would help the president, his opponents, his country and the world. The cover: "Now, hug a Republican."

Economist cover

UPDATED Florida teachers union asks Gov. Rick Scott to halt evaluations with student test scores

Florida teachers have been bracing for a massive change to their professional evaluations. Student test scores and a complicated math formula are supposed to drive half of them, according to a 2011 law, known as SB 736. 

But with the deadline for final 2011-12 evaluations looming, the head of Florida Education Association has asked Gov. Rick Scott to suspend the data-driven part this year.

In a Nov. 5 letter to the Republican governor, who's taken a keen in education of late, FEA President Andy Ford spelled out concerns: blown deadlines, unwieldy timelines to start and problems with the data that will drive the evaluations. 

Ford pointed to a memo from the Department of Education that advised local school districts there could be problems. 

Continue reading "UPDATED Florida teachers union asks Gov. Rick Scott to halt evaluations with student test scores " »

Why Obama wins Florida

Though votes are still being tallied, President Obama is all but assured a victory in Florida because the lion’s share of the outstanding ballots come from Democratic-heavy counties.

Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 58,055 votes — or 49.92 percent to 49.22 — but there just aren’t enough votes from Republican areas to allow the challenger to catch up.

Romney’s Florida campaign has acknowledged their candidate lost in Florida as well. Romney already conceded the national race after he lost the other battleground states.

“The numbers in Florida show this was winnable,” Brett Doster, Florida advisor for Romney, said in a statement to The Miami Herald. “We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win. Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won’t happen again.”

With Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes, Obama will have 332 votes to Romney’s 206.

“We feel we will be the official winner in Florida later [Thursday],” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said. Preliminary results are due from the counties to the state by noon Saturday. The final results are to be certified Nov. 20.

The numbers in Florida look unlikely to change in Romney’s favor.

Miami-Dade finished tallying a backlog of 54,000 absentee ballots Thursday and it marginally increased Obama’s lead.

Still outstanding:

• Broward County. It has about 8,000 absentee ballots outstanding. Obama won Broward 67-32 percent. If those numbers hold, it would give Obama 2,800 more votes.

• Palm Beach County. It could have as many as 8,000 votes yet to add to its tally. Obama won that county 58-41 percent. If those numbers hold, Obama would pick up another 1,360 more votes.

• Duval County. The only non-South Florida County, Duval has about 3,600 absentee ballots to be counted. Romney won it narrowly, 51-48 percent. At that rate, Romney would pick up only 108 more votes.

Even if the estimates from South Florida were reversed and Obama’s extra projected votes were handed to Romney, the Republican would come nowhere near to winning.

The wild card: Provisional ballots. These are cast by voters whose status is in doubt. Often they’re rejected, in part because people vote in the wrong precinct. Most studies show, however, that provisional ballots are more likely to be cast by Democrats than Republicans.

** This post is updated

Miami-Dade's absentee-ballot count concludes, with three other Florida counties still going

The absentee ballot count is mercifully over.

Miami-Dade elections workers counted a final batch of 500 absentees Thursday morning, after pulling an all-nighter.

Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley fended off criticism Thursday that the county's election was less than perfect, when she announced the completion of the county's absentee ballot count about 40 hours after the polls closed on Election Day.

"Generally, I think Miami-Dade County conducted a very good election," Townsley told reporters at the elections office in Doral, as she deflected questions about long lines and voting delays at the polls. "Am I embarrassed or disappointed by some of the things that happened? Absolutely. But I have to focus on simply getting it right."

The last-minute surge of some 54,000 absentees cast up until the closing of the polls on Election Day caused an extraordinary delay in tabulating the final results for Miami-Dade's vote.

Elections workers counted about 31,750 absentee votes over the past two days.

The three other big Florida counties -- Broward, Palm Beach and Duval -- are still tabulating their absentees.

Hanging in the balance: the official outcome of the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, along with several local elections.

Townsley said the county's total election results -- including provisional ballots that still must be counted -- will be completed by Friday.

Broward hopes to finish counting absentees in next couple of hours

As of 2 p.m. today, Broward had less than 15,000 absentee ballots remaining to count, said Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Evelyn Perez-Verdia. The canvassing board meets today at 4 p.m. at which time it will determine if any recounts are needed and then will send unofficial results to the state. The supervisor has been periodically updating results at www.browardsoe.org and plans another update at 2:30 p.m.

Miami-Dade commission chairman bids farewell

Joe Martinez chaired his final Miami-Dade commission meeting Thursday, departing with brief remarks praising public servants and a standing ovation.

Before a packed commission chambers, Martinez stood up and took the microphone shortly before the lunch break to thank the community and county workers.

"Thank you so much for everything you've done," he said. Then, pointing to the dais, he added: "If you deliver excellence every day, it's in spite of what we do up here."

"Don't let anybody tell you you're not worth what you make," Martinez continued. "People take government services for granted."

Martinez, who did not seek reelection to challenge Mayor Carlos Gimenez, lost his mayoral bid in August. His successor, former state rep. Juan C. Zapata, will be sworn in on Nov. 20.

After thanking employees, Martinez, who was first elected in 2000, turned to his dais colleagues.

"For you guys -- it's been interesting working with you," he said. "It's been fun."

He joked that he would not have attended the meeting had he known he would be on the losing side of several morning votes: "To get your ass kicked, I would have stayed home!"

And he noted he will continue serving as chairman until Nov. 20 -- including setting the agenda for that day's meeting and organizing the swearing-in ceremony for new and reelected officials.

Then he said he did not want commissioners taking turns to bid him farewell one by one. 

"It's the way I want to go out," he said, with a catch in his voice.

He received a standing ovation as he walked out of the room.

Obama "picking the Republican lock" in Florida by getting big Cuban and even bigger P.R. support

President Obama nearly won the solidly Republican Cuban-American vote in Florida and rolled up huge margins with every other Hispanic group, according to an exit poll performed by a firm that also worked for his campaign.

Obama actually won Cuban-Americans on Election Day itself, taking 53 percent of their vote compared to 47 percent for Republican Mitt Romney, who built up a lead among those who cast absentee and early in-person ballots, according to the survey of 4,866 voters conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International.

So Romney narrowly carried Cuban-Americans, 52-48 percent, which is a decrease for Republicans when compared to 2008.

"Obama is picking the Republican lock in Florida," Fernand Amandi said, noting that Hispanics are Florida's fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

But some conservatives doubt the numbers, accusing the firm of under-sampling Republican precincts, which Bendixen & Amandi denies.

"Like every election cycle, Sergio Bendixen, who is infamously known for the inacuracy of his polls, is once again peddling inaccurate exit polling data about Cuban-American voting trends," Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates, wrote on his Capitol Hill Cubans blog.

But Bendixen points out that his bottom-line exit poll numbers mirror the figures from the exit polls conducted by Edison Reserch for the news media, including the Miami Herald, which found Obama winning the overall Hispanic vote 60-39 over Romney.

In Bendixen's poll, Florida Hispanics broke 61-39 percent in Obama's favor -- a one-point difference from Edison. Edison's poll indicated Obama may have won the Cuban-American vote, 49-47 percent, but the results were well within the survey's error margin.

Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager, highlighted the Edison results and pointed out that, in its surveys, the share of the Hispanic vote increased in the state from 14 percent to 17 percent from 2008 to 2012.

"We won a majority of Cuban voters in Florida," said Messina. "It's a dramatic realignment for cuban voters in that state."

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USF completes separation from Poly, now due $10 million

"We're done!" University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft said excitedly just minutes after the state Board of Governors certified the school had transitioned all necessary assest to the new Florida Polytechnic University.

The law that created the state’s 12th university earlier this year required USF to give the new university all the resources it had on their Lakeland campus, called USF Poly. In return, once the transition was completed USF would get $10 million to allow existing students to finish their degrees in Lakeland with USF Poly faculty. The school can now petition the state for that money.

Transitioning assets, such as deeds to land where the new Florida Polytechnic campus will be located, called for complicated negotions in the past several months, Genshaft said. Now, the Polytechnic Board of Trustees is holding all the cards as it continues the arduous process of starting a university from scratch.

"They have accepted everything," Genshaft said. "Everything's fine. Everything's good."

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