State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, challenged the GOP establishment repeatedly this year by decrying a "culture of corruption" in Tallahassee, calling for the release of all party credit card records, challenging Bill McCollum for the gubernatorial nomination and then endorsing Rick Scott for governor.
The result? Republican state Senate President Mike Haridopolos declined to give Dockery a single committee chairmanship despite her seniority. He also booted her out of her third-floor office and sent her to the second floor along with the lowly Democrats.
"Independence in the political process is not often rewarded," Dockery said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 in which she said legislative leaders tried to cover up some of the state GOP scandals that came to light. "If that's the cost you have to bear for being independent, speaking your mind and voting your conscience, it's a cost I'll happily bear."
Haridopolos made no apologies: "We want to pick people that are team players and people who really want to work together. We just don't see eye to eye on some things and I didn't think she was being a team player with Republicans in the caucus,'' he said. "I just didn't think she was best to chair a committee this year."
Check out the full interview at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The new guy
Which Florida Republican is seriously looking at running for president in 2012? Nope, not Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. It's former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee who now resides in Walton County and, according to the Arkansas Times, is building a $3 million home with 8,224 square feet of living space and 2,969 square feet of porch and deck space.
Why Florida? Well, it's nicer than Arkansas (so we think) and Florida has no income tax. But Huckabee told the Walton Sun he simply liked the area and that it's easy to fly to New York for his Fox News TV show.
It sounded pretty exciting: Tween heartthrob Justin Bieber performing at Rick Scott's Jan. 4 inauguration bash. Tallahassee police Maj. Lewis Johnson caused quite a bit of Buzz when he mentioned to his city commission that Scott was trying to get Bieber to perform.
"Inauguration officials have confirmed they are not, nor have they ever, attempted to secure him," said a release.
Crist likes tax cut; Democrats irked
Gov. Charlie Crist says he likes the tax cut deal President Barack Obama worked out with Republicans, to the deep annoyance of liberal Democrats.
"I have a unique appreciation for leaders who are willing to put aside partisan politics in order to focus on what is best for the people," said Crist, who left the Republican Party and ran for the U.S. Senate as an independent. "I commend President Obama for working to secure an agreement that will give our economy the support it needs to continue on the path to recovery. I call on Congress to act quickly and prevent a tax increase for Floridians and all Americans."
Redistricting on tight schedule
The Florida Senate's redistricting guru, John Guthrie, told senators last week that the time line for finishing its work will be compressed and difficult, based on the tentative schedule before them. Florida expects to get the population data from the 2010 census shortly before Christmas, and the state will have its work cut out for it to carve an expected two new congressional districts and rearrange the legislative boundaries, Guthrie said.
The time line will look like this: Summer 2011, Legislature conducts hearings around the state to get public input; Jan. 10, 2012, Legislature meets for its 60-day session; March 9, 2012, session ends; March 10, 2012, Legislature petitions the Florida Supreme Court for its required review of the districts; April 16, 2012, the court completes its review and the Legislature sends the redistricting plan to the U.S. Department of Justice for a required review; June 18, districts are finalized and candidates may start qualifying for newly drawn districts.
Alex Leary and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this week's Buzz.