Monthly Archives: October 2008

Gov. Crist Extends Early Voting Hours

A smart politician does the right thing when it helps his side.

Charlie Crist is a smart politician.

The loooong lines at the Florida polls were making people wonder what was wrong (again!) with the state's voting officials. One reason for the long lines was that the legislature changed the rules to reduce the hours and locations — a combination of penny pinching and the historical GOP bias against making it easy for the riff-raff to vote. So it was popular politics for the would-be post-partisan Governor (but see his judicial appointments!!!) to do whatever it took to restore some sanity by extending polling hours to 12 hours per day from the artificially short six hours in most locations.

Lost in all the kudos for the Governor's act of sanity (has it come to this? the government does the obvious and necessary and the Herald's local columnist falls over herself praising it? ) is the political calculation undoubtedly behind this move. Never forget that Charlie Crist is one smart calculating politician: you don't move from “Chain Gang Charlie” to Mr. (attempted) Middle-of-the-Road without a keen sense of how the wind blows.

Now, imagine you are a Republican who believes that his political chances will be best helped by carrying his state for the GOP, or failing that by being seen to have gone the extra mile for the ticket. It's true that having McCain/Palin win the election is bad for your long-term future, but there's so little chance of that happening that you can afford to make a big Florida push.

What are you afraid of? The biggest thing on your mind is that the GOP vote is going to stay home. You're worried they're going to stay home because they never liked John McCain anyway. You're worried they're going to stay home because they think Sarah Palin is unfit to command. You're worried they're going to stay home because the polls suggest that the state and the nation are lost. And, to top it off, you're worried they're going to stay home because with all this baggage weighing the ticket down, a measurable fraction of the GOP vote is going to stay home because it doesn't want to stand in line for three hours. (Anecdotal evidence suggests, that the average Obama voter is more energized about the ticket than the average GOP voter, so the long lines just make matters worse.)

So of course Charlie Crist did what he had to do to shorten the poll lines. It was smart politics. And self-interested too.

Posted in Florida | 2 Comments

The Miami-Dade Ballot

Thanks to some quality time with my Sample Ballot I think I've figured out how to vote. Although I'm a little shaky on the County Property Appraiser race…

President:

We have twelve sets of candidates on the Florida ballot for President/Vice-President. I've actually heard of half of the Presidential candidates: McCain, Obama, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, Alan Keyes and Ralph Nader. I've only heard of two of the veep candidates, however: Binden and Palin. And if you needed any further reason to vote for Obama, surely Palin is that reason. Obama

Congress

We are graced with three strong Democratic candidates for Congress, all running against Bush rubber stamps who vote for the Iraq war, against health insurance for poor children. My Representative wanted 50% privatization of Social Security, a policy that would have horribly impoverished this community. I'm voting for Annette Taddeo (FL-18); she'd be a wonderful Representative. In FL-21 the candidate is Raul Martinez; in FL-25 it's Joe Garcia.

State Senator and State Representative

Not all the races are contested — but this time in addition to uncontested Republicans in State Rep District 102 and 117, there's an uncontested Democrat in 106. While I'm glad to see a little balance for a change, none of this is terribly good for democracy. I don't have strong opinions in the other races, which tend to go by party line.

County Clerk

Harvey Ruvin unquestionably deserves re-election.

Judicial Retention Elections

Vote YES on all of them I don't believe in the inevitable retention of incumbent judges, but I do think the current crop all deserve a vote in favor of retention. Some of them emphatically so.

Contested Judicial Election

There is one contested judicial election, for the 11th Circuit, a race between Asst. Public Defender Yvonne Colodny (FSU '98) and former Asst. State Attorney Stephen T. Millan (Northeastern '90). The Herald endorsed Colodny, whose record and endorsements are encouraging. On paper Millan looks credible too, but if I had any doubts some of the names endorsing Millan on his web site put me off him.

Property Appraiser

This is the first time this has been an elected office. I was against making this an elective office when the charter amendment was on the ballot in January, but the majority thought differently. The race has proceeded completely under the radar. The Herald has done an appalling job covering this race (and the state rep races too, by and large).

The Democratic party has endorsed both Eddie Lewis and Gwen Margolis. The Miami Herald endorsed Pedro Garcia and Gwen Margolis. Eye on Miami, the best local politics blog, argues (weakly) for Gwen Margolis. But I'm no great fan of hers. So I'm conflicted.

If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held before the end of the year on a date that would be set by the County Commission.

State Constitutional Amendments (numbers are not consecutive as some were taken off the ballot)

YES on 1 (removes discriminatory language from state constitution, material long ago declared unconstitutional)

NO on 2 (would introduce homophobic language into state constitution in guise of 'marriage protection')

YES on 3 (allows legislature to give tax breaks to hurricane protection and renewable energy)

YES on 4 (allows legislature to give tax breaks to land not developed in hopes of increasing conservation; this will be badly abused since beneficiaries don't have to commit to long-term conservation, but even so)

YES on 6 (tax breaks for working waterfront property)…but I could see an argument against.

NO on 8 (would allow counties to use extra sales tax money to fund community colleges). Most people I know (who care) are for this. Even though I'm rabidly pro-education, after much thought I'm against it for three reasons:

  • Every time the legislature promises us that it won't reduce education funding to compensate for new revenue, it goes back on its word. I've had enough Lucy and the football, thank you very much
  • Sales tax is regressive, I'd prefer a progressive tax.
  • Will increase disparities between counties.

County Charter Amendments

• Question 1 NO. Q1 would transfer the powers, duties and responsibilities of the county manager to the county mayor. This changes charter wording to acknowledge voters' approval of a strong mayor. Where the charter now says ''the county manager shall'' the word ''mayor'' is substituted. The Herald recommends “yes”. I'm voting “NO” because I think having the manager strong and the mayor not as strong makes accountability a little more likely in that the Commission has more of a say. Not that I have high hopes in either case.

• Question 2 YES. Q2 would raise commission salaries according to a state formula based on population. It would prohibit commissioners from having outside employment. Annual salaries would increase to about $92,000 from $6,000. The Charter Review Task Force recommended the pay hike, but included term limits as a counter-balance. The Commission took the pay raise but rejected the term limits. As a result, the Herald recommends a “no” vote. I'm voting YES, on the theory that in the long run higher salaries make corruption a little less likely. I know people who feel strongly that the pay raises should be held back until the Commission votes for term limits, and I understand that argument.

• Question 3 YES. Q3 would allow candidates for the commission or county mayor to qualify for office either by submitting a petition signed by a specified number of registered voters or paying a $300 filing fee. This adds the petition method to the charter. The Herald and I agree on YES.

• Questions 4&5 YES. Q 4 & 5 would alter the initiative-petition process by having the county clerk approve petitions instead of the commission. As it is, the commission can refuse a petition not to its liking; the clerk will be more neutral. Question 4 also requires the commission to hold a public hearing on the petition once it's approved. Question 5 deals strictly with the clerk's approval. The Herald and I agree on YES.

• Question 6 – NO. Q6 would require that all but five Miami-Dade cities use the county's fire-rescue service. Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne could keep their fire departments, while everyone else would have no choice. The argument for is that it prevents cherrypicking by richer areas, leaving a patchwork of poor areas to the County. The argument against is that its not fair to grandfather the bigger cities and discriminate against the smaller/newer ones. On balance, I agree with the Herald on NO but understand why someone might disagree.

Posted in Politics: US: 2008 Elections | 7 Comments

Amazing Early Voting Stats

The Buzz has the data as of the weekend, The Fla. tally so far: Ds up 80K votes:

The Fla. tally so far: Ds up 80K votes

Through Sunday, it appears absentee and early votes have Democrats up by 80,287 votes.

Of the 1,010,046 people who voted early, 53.7 percent were Democrats, 30.19 percent Republicans and 16.02 percent other. Of the 1,059,518 absentee ballots returned so far, 35.31 percent were from Democrats, 50.23 percent Republicans, and 14.46 percent other.

All told, 2,069,564 people have voted already — 44.33 percent of them Democrats, 40.45 percent Republicans, and 15.22 percent other.

These are statewide totals.

Posted in Florida | 3 Comments

Handicapping the GOP

No, I'm not talking about Sarah Palin.

Well, actually, in a way I am: but I mean handicapping in the horse race sense.

Time to stop obsessing about this election and think, for a moment, about the next…

Let's suppose that McCain fails to win on Nov. 4. Who will become the likely nominees for '12?

– Palin will have a big advantage with the remnants of the 'base', but many others will blame her for the loss and her negatives are high. Presumably Palin will start reading foreign news sources, like the New York Times, and learn to mouth seemingly relevant platitudes instead of irrelevant ones. I don't think it will work.

– Huckabee will contest Palin for the evangelical vote, and his folksy ways will help with other groups too. I think it will work.

– Florida's own Charlie Crist will be a bigger possibility than Jeb! as the Bush brand will remain tarnished nationally, and Jeb!'s association with the financial meltdown will finish the job. His marriage will help.

– Tancredo will run again, but get as little traction.

– Romney will run again, he's got the money, but the same set of obstacles.

– Gulliani, Paul, and Thompson are not going to be factors (although Paul might try the third party thing, conceivably, as might Barr).

– Newt Gingrich is looking for a comeback.

I'd say the early leaders will be Crist and Huckabee, but handicapping Republicans is not obviously my strong suit. Who have I left out?

Posted in Politics: US | 4 Comments

See Wait Times at Local Polling Stations

MiamiHerald.com has taken the data about waiting times at South Florida polling places and mapped them to make them easier to use on a somewhat real-time basis.

(Thanks to MM for the pointer.)

Meanwhile, I'm working through my sample ballot, and (in response to actual popular demand) plan to post a personal voting guide Real Soon Now™.

Posted in Miami | Leave a comment

Kos Cheerful in FL-25

Kos looks at the early votes in FL-25 and finds reasons for optimism.

I think it will be a nail-biter.

Update: Looks even better in FL-21

Posted in Politics: FL-25/FL-27 | Leave a comment