Florida — the state with the prettiest name, part XVIII

While Governor Ron DeSantis helped break the impasse over medical marijuana and has made clear his opposition to Big Sugar, the Florida House remains a cloaca in which ideas like this fester: on Wednesday a panel approved a bill requiring Florida public universities to survey faculty members and students about their politics. Continue reading

The state with the prettiest name already thwarting felony restoration amendment

When Floridians by a sixty-five percent margin voted on an amendment in November automatically restoring voting rights to hundreds of thousands of former felons, I hope they foresaw the catastrophe. No way would the Florida GOP allow almost a million former felons, most of whom are people of color, back on the voting rolls without a fight. The adverb in my first sentence matters; the amendment was, unusually, crystalline in word and intent, mandating an automatic restoration.

To Governor-elect Ron DeSantis and his colleagues, however, “automatic” is a point of view. At an elections conference a couple weeks ago, the state said it has, according to the Tampa Bay Times, “stopped transmitting documents counties use to remove convicted felons from the rolls.” Legislators need more time. Indeed, DeSantis has already said he wants the legislature to write “implementing rules,” which means a two-month delay until the session opens in March. Election supervisors are fuming:

All this talk about the legislature is baffling to elections supervisors and civil rights groups, who say the amendment was designed to be self-executing. The state Supreme Court unanimously approved the amendment’s language as clear and specific, saying voters could understand that the point was to “automatically” restore the affected population’s voting rights.

“I don’t think you need the legislature,” Manatee County election supervisor Mike Bennett told TPM.

A self-described “strong Republican” who tried to enact felon rights restoration during his 12 years in the state Senate, Bennett called himself an “advocate” for Amendment 4. As Bennett noted, the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee won’t have its first meeting until March, and any proposed measures will then have to pass the House, the Senate, and be approved by DeSantis.

“That process will take more time whereas if the secretary of state’s office handled it and came up with the definitions and clarifications, they could do it much faster,” he said.

Without uniformity and guidance, the possibility exists that men and women who show up to vote will, ye gods, fall into the GOP trap of committing voter fraud:

“On January 8 people are going to be coming to my office trying to register to vote,” Bennett said. “And I want them to be able to register to vote but I don’t want them to commit another crime accidentally.”

For the percentage of my readers who believe in the new federalism, the results look inevitable: counties with Democratic mayors will move quickly to answer the will of voters, while counties with Republican ones will stop short of outright defiance. Advocates of the new Confederacy will always find support.

The president’s disgust with people of color

“Florida recount” inspires more grins than “Frank Drebin, Police Squad,” but if the results hold I expect Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott to triumph, thanks to a campaign cycle marked by demagoguery and chicanery. They will owe their support in some measure to the Cuban vote, which remains intransigent despite the steady accumulation of tombstones at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn North:

Miami communications strategist Giancarlo Sopo, himself a Cuban-American, looked at Miami-Dade’s most Cuban precincts. He found DeSantis won twice as many votes as Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum did in those enclaves: 66 percent to 33 percent.

That’s a difference of more than 160,000 votes – far more than the shrinking statewide advantage DeSantis has held since election night. The governor’s race will probably go to a recount now because less than half a percentage point separates DeSantis and Gillum.

A Telemundo poll taken the week before elections showed, guess what, that sixty-four percent of the Cuban Americans polled supported DeSantis. Not a surprise. Gillum, black and socialist, never had a chance.

Now the president, refreshed after staying in from the wet French rain, went on his morning Twitter constitutional. As reported by his faithful amanuensis Jonathan Swan of Axios, he wants to end federal Hurricane Maria aid to Puerto Rico:

More than $6 billion has been allocated to help aid storm recovery, but hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting for help, living in homes that are in desperate need of repair, according to The New York Times. The island’s leadership has said it needs billions more to rebuild, and in February said that it would cost at least $17 billion just to fix its beleaguered power grid.

 

Swan reported Sunday that Trump has even proposed demanding some of the money already allocated to relief back.

Swan is the fellow who acted as Trump’s errand boy when the president suggested changes to the Fourteenth Amendment that, were he alive, would have inspired Thaddeus Stevens to smother him to death with a toupee, therefore take a deep breath. But it’s a reminder of the president’s loathing for brown skinned people unless they’re supine like Cubans, who, I’ll remind readers, don’t consider themselves people of color and whom American immigration policy has considered white.

Midterm 2018: Is America ready for me?

11:17 p.m. I’ll repeat: as a Floridian, it’s weird to live in a county where the Republican incumbent and the open seat held by a Republican since 1989 went down yet the governor and Senate races went to a Democrat. Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi will be speaker, it looks like. My state will live with more red tide, more gutting of environmental regulation, and more gutting of the state treasury.

11:00 p.m. Hello. Been eating chocolate. Gillum concedes, but Antonio Delgado in Illinois, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey will win.

10:29 p.m. I can’t stress how weird this is that the evening is going in our direction but Florida is not.

10:23 p.m. Democrats will take the house, NBC declares.

10:12 p.m. What a weird night. Florida may fall to the GOP, but so far the last thirty minutes has seen race after race fall to the Democrats. Texas has seen perhaps ten state race pickups despite what I just heard was a O’Rourke loss. At last the Dems are competitive in Texas.

9:59 p.m. Although the competition for Worst Governor in the United States is fierce, what Sam Brownback did to Kansas has no precedent. At last a Democratic governor can pick up the mess.

9:53. Sharice Davids picks up a race in Kansas. She’s Native American and gay.

9:47 p.m. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defeats Republican Carlos Curbelo. HOLY FUCK.

9:45 p.m. Look, I can’t lie: the Florida news has been enervating. What will perk me up if news doesn’t improve from Broward County makeup votes is the series of House races that remain to be called.

9:41 p.m. Conor Lamb wins in Pennsylvania.

9:33 p.m. I’m having a martini. Because why not?

9:28 p.m. Jason Crow beats Mike Coffmann in Colorado Sixth District. Another pickup.

9:23 p.m. Carlos Curbelo still clinging by his teeth, behind by a point and a half.

9:15 p.m. I can’t escape the gloom at my blogging station. But no more House races have been called yet.

9:05 p.m. Amendment 4 in Florida, restoring felon voting rights, has passed by a comfortable margin.

8:59 p.m. Joe Manchin holds. Now he can feel better about voting for Brett Kavanaugh.

8:55: Mike Braun beats Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

8:48 p.m. https://twitter.com/jerryiannelli/status/1059984539915878400

8:45 p.m. Beto O’Rourke at 66 percent at the early vote in Texas.

8:41 p.m. I’m back.

8:26 p.m. Still waiting for Florida.

8:17 p.m. Nelson and Scott are at 50.0 each, according to MSNBC. More wine!

8:13 p.m. Rick Scott up by 10,000 votes in Florida.

8:10 p.m. Jerry Iannelli of Miami New Times: Miami-Dade’s vote-by-mail and early-voting results just came in, Democrats cleaned up in Dade County early voting, which is typical for early votes but still could be a sign of more blue votes to come 1/x

8:04 p.m. Impressively, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is ahead of Carlos Curbelo, one of the few GOP congressman who won in a Clinton district in 2016.

7:59 p.m. Donna Shalala wins! A huge sigh of relief. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s former district, a GOP moderate stronghold, is now firmly Democratic.

7:57 p.m. Steve Schmidt, while I appreciate your betrayal of conservative values, theoretically, “fidelitous” is a word one uses the way I use “rebarbative.”

7:55 p.m. From 538:

CLARE MALONE 7:54 PM
An interesting little tidbit from the preliminary exit polls out of Indiana, where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is fighting for his seat: 53 percent said that Donnelly’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation was important in deciding their midterm vote.

7:53 p.m. MSNBC projects Sherrod Brown as winner in Ohio. No one much discussed this race. What matters is Richard Cordray, former head of the former Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, beating his challenger.

7:50 p.m. I may accept a piece of dark chocolate. Help me.

7:48 p.m. Second refill. Right ring finger still throbbing. I am a martyr for blogging, though.

7:45 p.m. If Gillum and Nelson win — more full disclosure — you will have seen a transformation of Florida the likes of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime. The only comparison: if Beto wins his race in Texas and Abrams in Georgia.

7:41 p.m. Full disclosure: friend Alan Gomez gets interviewed on MSNBC on Hispanic voter trends in Florida.

7:40 p.m. Nelson and Gillum still doing very well, the latter clobbering in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

7:38 p.m. Barbara Comstock gone, Jennifer Wexton wins VA-10. First sip of red wine.

7:36 p.m. Amy McGrath jumping to a lead in the unfortunately named KY-6 60-39 against Andy Barr.

7:35 p.m. What you want, dear readers, is to follow a Negroni with red wine. What an acerbic taste combo!

7:31 p.m. Spanberger leads Brat in VA-7. Comstock behind by double digits in VA-10.

7:26 pm. Nelson 52, Gillum 51. Please, powers that be. Chuck Todd, that Miami native son, has acknowledged that Gillum and Stacey Abrams victories “have transformed” how Democrats run in the South. Well, yeah.

7:24 p.m. My posts will accumulate as the returns do.

7:23 p.m. My right ring finger, damaged by falling blender last night, is throbbing. Bear with me.

7:21 p.m. Andrew Gillum well above Hilary Clinton levels in Miami-Dade County and Broward.

6:23 p.m. MSNBC, whose coverage I will watch for a couple hours, has unleashed Steve Kornacki, a thirtysomething already mocked for his almost pneumatic enthusiasm. He wears a blue longsleeved shirt. I suspect he wears several undershirts for the sweat.

6:17 p.m. I ate leftover fricase de pollo I cooked yesterday, accompanied by a side arugula salad, the latter as comforting as a cup of coffee. My laptop is charged. I’ve read the requisite number of pages of the Olivier bio I checked out last week. I’ve graded thirty essays submitted in three classes. Is America ready for me?

‘You’re disgusting’

A gay couple and their adopted black son move into a community close to Tampa Bay. Neighbors didn’t acknowledge them. A mother yanked their daughter away from the boy. Then it escalated:

The yard had been transformed into a graveyard. “CNN,’’ was written on one white cross, with a gruesome gray skull at its base. Other crosses bore the names of Democrats Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. A firepit contained a jumble of bones and a cross marked “George Soros,’’ the Jewish billionaire who supports liberal causes.

All had been critics of President Donald J. Trump.

Kidd was so appalled that he took to Nextdoor, the social media site on which residents of a neighborhood can post messages, whether offering items for sale or reporting suspicious behavior. Kidd’s message was more pointed.

“This is pathetic,” he said of the graveyard display. “Can’t we take the politics out of Halloween?”

That elicited a quick response: “You’re disgusting. If you don’t like it why don’t you move

Now, a person can put a graven image of Paul Ryan licking Ronald Reagan and there’s nothing you and I can do about it because This is America and so on, but I wouldn’t do it because I don’t want to offend neighbors — indeed, what would be the point of such a display if not to offend?

Two days.

From the annals of early voting lore

Ninety minutes ago, walking into my regional library and early voting location to pick up a copy of an Olivier bio, a well-chosen Cuban mulatto no older than 21 or 22 wearing a Vance Aloupis shirt asked if I’d voted.

“I hope you voted Republican.”

“Sure didn’t,” I said.

“I thought you wanted bipartisan solutions. To make this country great.”

“I don’t. I want to be as partisan as possible.”

His mouth fell open and he walked away. Clearly this wasn’t in the scripted responses he expected.

Life is made of small victories.

Fear and trolling in Florida, five days before Election Day

About a couple hundred miles northwest of Miami-Dade County, Estero is a municipality that gets lumped with Fort Myers. For me Estero is what I drive past on my way to Sanibel and Captiva islands, where my family has vacationed for decades. Lee County is a conservative bastion, home to snowbirds from the Midwest. The president addressed them last night.

But for all the criticism that Trump has received for his divisive rhetoric the last week — telling CNN to blame itself for being targeted with a bomb and suggesting that the Tree of Life synagogue would have been better off had it had armed security — his supporters felt like Trump is leading the country in the right direction, and that it’s Trump and his supporters who are being attacked.

 

“The crazy lefties want to make us afraid to show our opinion,” Jeff Augustine, dressed in a light blue colonial costume, said as he passed out palm cards urging Republicans to wear their Make America Great Again gear on “MAGA Day” this Saturday. “Don’t be afraid to express your opinions. The violent left wants to make you afraid.”

Augustine, 34, says he’s voting Republican on Election Day in St. Petersburg. Gilfedder will do the same.

 

“Trump is what I’m all about in the elections. He needs help, people that are on his team,” said Gilfedder, who’s not enamored with DeSantis but says he will support him anyway. “He’s Republican. He supports Trump and that’s enough for me.”

Ron DeSantis, the non-racist who happens to speak at conferences where racists gather, promised that a vote for him is a vote for a governor who can get the federal resources “to clean our water and clean our rivers and protect our way of life.”

A fascinating choice of words. Exactly three months ago we canceled a Sanibel vacation because the red tide menace had strengthened; only now has the algae on the east coast started to dissipate, thanks to cooler weather, not the state response. In the hurricane-ravaged Panhandle, a homeless problem grows, FEMA drags its feet.

But five days before an election facts don’t matter anymore if they ever did. Keeping the base motivated matters, even when the base is a vise around your neck.

The state with the prettiest name: October update

“We’ve lost our self-respect,” said the woman to the Publix cashier on Sunday in Cuban Spanish. “Sooner rather than later we’re going to deal with socialism.” Who “we” was is unclear: Floridians? Cubans? Americans? All of them, like as not. The robust paranoia of the Cuban exile mind specializes in the collapsing of referents.  Continue reading