The week that was in Florida politics: Blue and red are primary colors

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Candidates scurried across their respective districts this week, putting the finishing touches on campaigns aimed at gaining their party’s endorsement in this Tuesday’s primaries.

In many cases however, Tuesday’s vote will determine the winner, with victors facing no opponent, or only token opposition, on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Tight primary races will occur in several congressional, state Senate and House races made more interesting by the once-a-decade reshuffling that occurs as the state’s demographics are re-calibrated and a continuing push from outsiders to throw out the establishment office holders, even if they are in the same party.

Beyond the primaries, Republicans are finalizing preparations for the national GOP shindig later this month in Tampa, and learned this week that Florida’s governor will be among the mix of speakers, despite his inconvenient sunny outlook on the economy.

Scott’s buoyant optimism of the state’s economic recovery was borne out this week as economists said Florida’s slow rebound continues and will pick up momentum beginning next year. Scott also said this week he’ll continue that optimism even as his party’s nominee for president tries to paint a gloomier picture.

PRIMARY COLORS:

Just under 4.6 million Democrats and about 4.1 million Republicans are registered to vote in Florida’s Aug. 14 primary, according to final registration figures from the Division of Elections. Most of those voters, however, will not go to the polls.

That lack of interest leaves the decision in the hands of a minority of highly motivated citizens. These “super voters” will decide a handful of tight primary races shaping up around the state.

Candidates were heading into the weekend making last minute pushes to get voters motivated, hitting up the political clubs this week for speeches and debates, and making their pitch through the electronic media.

SCOTT, OTHERS SLATED TO SPEAK AT RNC

Dogged by low approval ratings and touting a message different from his party’s presidential hopeful, Gov. Rick Scott this week was added to the pantheon of speakers who will address the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month.

As governor of the host state, Scott’s appearance at the event was largely assured but the governor has not made his inclusion any easier as he continues to tout the state’s economic recovery, including its increasingly lower jobless rate.

It’s a positive, well-worn message that does not dovetail well with a national GOP campaign that is trying to convince voters the economy stinks and Democrats are to blame.
“My job is to continue to talk about what we’re doing in Florida and the fact that we’re headed in the right direction, and that we’re going to continue to do well,” Scott told reporters on Tuesday.

Scott isn’t the only Floridian scheduled to make an appearance at the Republican convention. Former Gov. Jeb Bush and Attorney General Pam Bondi are also expected to address the multitude at the balloon-filled, signage strewn party venue.

VOTER PURGE FIGHT CONTINUES

State and federal officials traded barbs this week in the continuing battle over Florida efforts to purge the voting ranks of ineligible ballot casters.

According to the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, the U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed documents from nine Florida counties to determine how voters are identified to be purged. The agency has filed suit against the state, saying efforts to remove non-eligible voters from the rolls comes too late in the process.

Meanwhile, state officials have yet to gain access to the Department of Homeland Security database despite reaching an agreement last month. The governor’s office said this week it would considering going back to court if needed to secure access to the SAVE database.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Primary candidates hit the homestretch this week to shore up support for upcoming party primaries scheduled for Aug. 14.

CO-QUOTES OF THE WEEK: “Under President Obama, 8.6 percent unemployment. Record foreclosures; 600,000 more Floridians in poverty.” A Mitt Romney ad about how bad things are in Florida.

“Look at the jobs that have been generated in the last 18 months. Florida’s headed in the right direction,” Republican Gov. Rick Scott, hitting his own talking points on the state of the state.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.