Saturday, December 16, 2017
Politics

Growth in minority vote helping Democrats

Part of what makes Florida such a fascinating state for politics is its ever-changing electorate, and few people do a better job crunching the numbers than Democratic consultant Steve Schale in Tallahassee.

On his website, www. steven schale.com, he has a new look at the trends with striking numbers:

• Out of the growth of 1.5 million voters since 2006, 61 percent are black or Hispanic.

• Of the new black and Hispanic voters, 65 percent registered Democratic, and only 6 percent as Republicans.

• There are 100,000 fewer whites registered as Democrats than in November 2006. Republicans have seen a growth of roughly 240,000 non-Hispanic whites, and the ranks of unaffiliated and minor parties have grown by almost 300,000.

The demographic trends generally look good for Democrats in Florida, especially with Hispanic voters, but Schale warns that an improving economy is likely to mean more Republicans moving here.

With roughly five times as many non-Hispanic white voters as Hispanic voters, "for every point of vote share lost with non-Hispanic whites, the Hispanic vote share has to increase by 5 points to make up the difference," Schale notes. "Keeping the white vote around 40 percent for the Democratic candidate remains fairly vital to a path to victory."

Rich silent at dinner

The Florida Democratic Party would not allow former state Sen. Nan Rich, the only announced Democratic candidate for governor, to speak even for five minutes at its annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night in Broward County. But you can hear from her at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. today on Political Connections on Bay News 9.

Also, Rich is scheduled to address the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa at noon Friday. The group meets at Maestro's Restaurant at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa. Make a reservation at tigerbayclub.com.

Crist off to Louisiana

Former Gov. Charlie Crist has been making the rounds of Florida Democratic functions, but now comes news that he'll give the keynote speech Aug. 17 at Louisiana's 2013 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in New Orleans.

Ethically speaking

The Florida Commission on Ethics issued separate orders last week finding that five current and former state lawmakers — including former state Sen. Ronda Storms — filed incomplete financial disclosures last year. But because the candidates filed amended disclosure forms that investigators determined were complete, the commission decided to take no further action.

Storms, a former Hillsborough County commissioner who served in the state Senate from 2006-12, was flagged when she filed a disclosure form on her 2011 income when she ran for Hillsborough County property appraiser last year.

Eugene Benson, an 82-year-old Vero Beach resident, filed that complaint against Storms, alleging four violations. Investigators found only that Storms didn't specify her assets.

The Commission on Ethics also ruled in a similar fashion on Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton. It found that she didn't properly disclose a condo unit, income from her job as a lawmaker and her net worth for 2008, 2009 and 2010. The complaint was filed by Sid Dinerstein, the GOP chairman of Palm Beach County. The order finding probable cause concluded that she corrected the mistake and no further action would be taken.

Fundraising confusion

Florida's attempt to outlaw political slush funds has created a fundraising mix-up that could inadvertently put political committees out of business for three months this summer — and potentially complicate fundraising for Miami's mayoral race.

The new law, which took effect May 1 (HB 569), prohibits Committees of Continuous Existence from accepting contributions after July 31, allows unlimited amounts of money in the defunct CCE to be transferred to a political committee, but it doesn't allow political committees to accept contributions of more than $500 from any contributor until Nov. 1.

It's the law of unintended consequences and it is giving political activists heartburn.

"Most of what happens between Aug. 1 and November is going to be dead time,'' said John French, a Tallahassee lawyer and expert on elections law.

But what may be dead time for most elected officials is heavy duty campaign season in the election for the city of Miami mayor and commission seats, and the St. Petersburg city elections in August and November.

As a result, candidates will be forced to close their CCE and be limited to collecting contributions of $500 for their political committees during most of the campaign. They will be able to raise money for their electioneering communications organizations, which can spend on TV ads and campaign, but can't legally coordinate with the campaign to do it.

Michael Van Sickler and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this week's Buzz.

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