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Graham tells state to hop on health act

The governor and legislative leaders may be uncertain about whether Florida should embrace the Affordable Care Act and its expanded insurance coverage, but Bob Graham says it's a no-brainer.

The cost of participating in the health care exchange and Medicaid expansion would pale in comparison to the expenses Florida would face if it does not, the former two-term governor and three-term senator said in an interview airing today on Political Connections on Bay News 9.

"The Affordable Care Act is going to mean as much to Florida as any place in the country," said Graham, noting that the state has among the highest percentage of people uninsured, has long offered limited Medicaid benefits, and has a huge number of nursing home patients who have moved from other states.

"If we try to support the retiree community of America off our dime, Florida would be a completely different state fiscally and many other ways," Graham said.

As a Democrat, Graham has a unique perspective on the prospect of former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist running for governor again as a Democrat in 2014: Crist was the Republican U.S. Senate nominee trying to unseat Graham in 1998.

"Charlie and I, even when we were running against each other in '98, have had a close and cordial personal relationship," said Graham, who has no problem with the concept of Crist seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

"I don't think it's a bad idea," Graham said. "We spent a couple of decades with Democrats registering as Republicans. It would be kind of nice to have a period where Republicans were coming home to the Democratic Party."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. every Sunday.

Targeting Young's seat

POLITICO reports that national Democrats see the Pinellas County congressional seat held by C.W. Bill Young as one of the four most vulnerable Republican-held seats in the country. Unstated is that that depends entirely on the 81-year-old Indian Rocks Beach Republican retiring after this new term.

Actor's vote not counted

Actor Christian Slater of Miami tweeted last week that Miami-Dade elections officials sent him a letter that his provisional ballot had been rejected (though they addressed it to Christina Slater). Apparently, they didn't see the film Heathers, or they might think twice about antagonizing the guy.

Gay rights ratings

A new national report card compiled by gay rights groups rating cities for lesbian, gay and transgender protections looks at 11 Florida cities with sizable gay populations and finds that Orlando, Miami and Tampa do the best job of protecting the rights of gay residents, while Jacksonville does the worst.

The Municipal Equality Index produced by the Human Rights Campaign and assorted state groups, including Equality Florida, rates cities based on 47 criteria. The average score for cities in Florida is 52 out of 100 points.

From best to last: Orlando (77), Miami (72), Tampa (66), Wilton Manors (62) and Fort Lauderdale (62), Oakland Park (54), St. Petersburg (46), Tallahassee (46), Hollywood (36), Miami Shores (34) and Jacksonville (15).

"As cities compete for jobs and talent, their commitment to equality and fairness are increasingly deciding factors," said Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith. "This equality report card is a great way to let cities know what it takes to lead and what they risk by falling behind."

Millennial voters

A lot of political observers, Buzz included, had real doubts about the Barack Obama campaign's prospects for energizing young voters in the presidential election as much as it did four years ago. We were wrong.

Twenty-somethings delivered the state's 29 electoral votes. (Yes, it was close enough that plenty of groups can make that claim.)

An analysis by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida notes that Obama's share of the vote among those younger than 30 actually increased from 61 percent to 67 percent since 2008.

Mitt Romney would have won Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia if he had won half these "millennial" voters, but in each state Obama won at least 60 percent according to the Center for Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

The Pew Research Center noted the same trend: "Young voters continue to identify with the Democratic Party at relatively high levels and express more liberal attitudes on a range of issues — from gay marriage to the role of the federal government — than do older voters. In fact, voters under 30 were as likely to identify as Democrats in the 2012 exit poll as they had been in 2008 (44 percent now, 45 percent then). And they are the only age group in which a majority said that the government should do more to solve problems."

Contact Adam C. Smith at asmith@tampabay.com.

Winner of the week

Elite GOP fundraisers. We don't (yet) know who they are, but some Republicans are breathing a bit easier after an appeals court blocked the public release of "salacious" allegations supposedly involving prostitute-filled golf carts at a party fundraising retreat during Charlie Crist's governorship.

Loser of the week

Pam Bondi. The attorney general, still railing against the Affordable Care Act that she sought to overturn and rode into many Fox News appearances, is in full Outrage Mode about the law and seems eager to be the most partisan Republican warrior in Florida.

Graham tells state to hop on health act 12/01/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 1, 2012 8:32pm]
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