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Today on Context Florida: Going nuts, blind ambition, mendacity in the morning, disavowing Duke and no joy in Mudville

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Today on Context Florida:

The “establishment” of the Republican Party is going nuts, says Dan Gelber. Donald Trump is leading a hostile takeover of their party and they — the Koch brothers, Glenn Beck, the National Review, George Will and every other self-professed conservative thinker — don’t know what do to about it. First, they ignored him. Then they laughed at him. But now that Trump is on the verge of winning the nomination, the party leaders are frantically trying to upend him. For all their hysteria and shock, no one, especially the leaders of the GOP, should be surprised. Trump didn’t create this movement. They did.

Peter Schorsch says Marco Rubio seems obsessed with size of Trump’s hands, but like Tolstoy’s Pahom, Florida’s junior senator could better spend his time pondering the wages of blind ambition. For two years, Rubio has harbored a gross miscalculation; that is, that there is no downside for him running for president. His belief was that even if he lost the primary or general election, he will have exposed the Rubio brand to donors, voters, and the media on a national stage, and that exposure alone is worth the risk of losing. But, here he is wrong, for to be exposed as a treacherous callow loser is a powerfully negative thing, and to fail to win your own state amplifies the effect even more. Treacherous, because Rubio has that lean-and-hungry look that drives him to turn without compunction on those who fostered his career. And, Rubio is likely to soon learn the price of high-profile failure in his home state of Florida. By the time Rubio arrives at sundown at the place where he started, he risks not only losing this race but all future races.

To Julie Delegal, there’s nothing like the smell of mendacity in the morning, emanating from the Florida Times-Union. Lawmakers announced last week that their education budget comprises the highest per-pupil expenditures in state history. Last week’s to-do about per pupil expenditures is a sleight of hand meant to draw our attention away from the fact that lawmakers want to give taxpayer money to private real estate owners. In real dollars, not only is the newly proposed figure of $7,178.49 per pupil not record spending, it actually moves us back below 2007 levels.

In a recent interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Donald Trump was asked if he would disavow David Duke, the KKK and other white supremacist groups. The week before, former Klansman and white supremacist Duke urged his supporters to back Trump, saying that voting for anyone but Trump “is really treason to your heritage.” Darryl Paulson notes that Trump’s response to Tapper was to claim ignorance. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” Trump said he did not know about Duke, but in a February 2000 op-ed in the New York Times, Trump said that he left the Republican Party because of ties to “David Duke, Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani.  That is not company I wish to keep.” It is strange for Trump to use Duke as a reason for leaving the Republican Party, but he doesn’t remember his own op-ed.

Somewhere in this favored land, Peter Schorsch says the sun is shining bright; the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, and somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; but there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out. Mudville, in this case, is Tallahassee. And Casey is a stand-in for any number of people or issues. Florida politicos are waking up to a political environment they could never have forecasted. Jeb Bush is now two weeks removed from the presidential race. Marco Rubio, the final hope of the establishment GOP, is the proud winner of the Minnesota caucuses and is in danger of losing badly in his home state.

Gambling interests have lined up in the Capitol to lobby for their long-held dream of remaking Florida in the image of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. As the Legislature considers their requests for more and bigger casinos, John Sowinski would caution the following: Not so fast. Any action the Legislature may take to expand gambling – which includes approval of a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe – could well be overturned on constitutional grounds.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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