Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

Florida secretary of state promises smooth voter verification

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, after a disastrous and sloppy effort to purge ineligible voters from the voter rolls last year, is optimistic that a new attempt will go much smoother now that he can crosscheck state data with data compiled by the Department of Homeland Security.

Buzz has heard nothing but skepticism from wary elections supervisors, but in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, Detzner said local elections leaders are coming around. He's certainly paying more attention to public relations this time, launching a five-city tour to discuss his "Project Integrity" initiative, including one Oct. 8 in Sarasota.

"The system this time is much different," said Detzner, whose office will send Homeland Security the names of registered voters in Florida who have "alien ID numbers" to verify that they are citizens and eligible to vote.

Civil rights and watchdog groups ranging from Common Cause to the Advancement Project have criticized Gov. Rick Scott's record on elections and voting, including the problematic voter purge effort shortly before the presidential election and early voting restrictions that helped create voting lines in some areas of five hours or more.

Then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist saw similarly long lines in 2008 and extended early voting hours, while Scott declined to do so in 2012. Scott made the right call, Detzner said.

"The governor did the exact thing that he should have done and followed the law," said the secretary of state.

And Crist? "Charlie Crist made a different determination about the law."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9.

West's ambitions

If U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio runs for president, as expected, firebrand former U.S. Rep. Allen West intends to run for his Senate seat.

"If that became an open seat, of course I would run. I have a good statewide appeal and a lot of people would like me to get back on Capitol Hill," said West, who lost a re-election bid to Democrat Patrick Murphy last year.

Rubio is up for re-election in 2016. Under Florida law, he could not seek two federal offices at the same time, though there would be enough time for him to test a presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, Buzzfeed reported last week that West lost his job at Pajamas Media after an argument with a female staffer in which he allegedly called her a "Jewish American princess" while telling her to "shut up."

West told the site he was not fired and brushed off a question about whether he called someone a Jewish American princess. "There was an exchange, that's all," he said.

Fasano still polls well

Someone shared with Buzz an interesting poll done for the campaign of Amanda Murphy, the Democratic nominee running for Republican Mike Fasano's old Florida House seat in Pasco County, District 36. Take it with as many grains of salt as you wish since it's a month old and conducted on behalf of Murphy, but the pollster, Jacksonville-based American Public Dialogue, works with both Republican and Democratic clients.

Considering this is a Tampa Bay district won both by Rick Scott and by Barack Obama, it's a decent bellwether for the state as a whole. So we were particularly interested in the favorable/unfavorable ratings of several politicians:

Scott: 34 percent favorable; 47 percent unfavorable

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: 43 percent favorable; 43 percent unfavorable

Charlie Crist: 53 percent favorable; 35 percent unfavorable.

Fasano: 80 percent(!) favorable; 6 percent unfavorable.

No flood of consensus

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says he doesn't want to see flood insurance rates go up on Floridians, but he doesn't like the proposals kicking around Congress to prevent the spikes.

"While we should pursue all options, I am concerned that some of these proposals do not offer long-term solutions," Rubio wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has legislation to prevent the increases, which go into effect Oct. 1, but Rubio has not signed on. Nelson wrote his own letter last week to Scott and Atwater saying he needed their help getting Republican support.

Morgan's billboard

If you catch the Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal thriller Prisoners, which supposedly takes place in Pennsylvania, you may be surprised to see a billboard in the background for Orlando's Morgan & Morgan.

Turns out the scene was filmed in Atlanta, where Morgan & Morgan does have a presence. John Morgan — boss of Charlie Crist and leader of the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida — received a letter a while back asking him to sign a release form granting permission for the billboard to appear in the film.

"I would have paid for it to appear," he laughed, noting that he's telling most people that the billboard made it in because he's best buddies with Jackman.

Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

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