With Florida’s politicians, it’s not a question of who has been naughty and who has been nice, it’s a matter of who’s been naughty and who’s been naughtier. So here’s a helpful gift guide for Santa as he decides what political presents to place under the tree.
For Governor Rick Scott — A second chance, but not a second term: The longer Gov. Scott remains stuck with negative approval ratings despite genuinely working so hard to turn them around, the easier it is to sympathize with the man. He certainly doesn’t deserve a second term, but perhaps he deserves a second chance … a second chance to serve the state its vegetables, so to speak, after decades of unaccountable growth. If only Scott would not make such boneheaded, unpopular decisions, such as those that limited voting options for tens of thousands of Floridians.
For Jeff Atwater — A basket full of patience: If Rick Scott could not write a nine-figure check to fund his re-election, Florida CFO Atwater would have already filed to challenge him in the GOP primary. Even in the face of Scott’s money, rumors swirl around Tallahassee that Atwater is waiting in the wings if the Republican establishment decides to abandon Scott. Easy there, Chief. Keep your powder dry until 2018 when you’ll have a better shot.
For Pam Bondi — A healthy dose of moderation: The telegenic Bondi was once seen as a rising star in national Republican circles, but right-wing zealotry, particularly when it comes to the mostly settled issue of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, has dimmed the AG’s shine.
For Adam Putnam — One of those mind-erasing neutralizers from the Men in Black movies: Depending on the settings, one facing the red beam and devoid of sunglasses loses any memory of a specified time. With that, Putnam could erase the memories of the reporters present at the press conference who heard the otherwise sensible agriculture commissioner tout the stat about Florida soon becoming home to one million concealed weapons permit holders. Putnam held his presser just two days before the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
For Charlie Crist — A very long cruise in a part of the world where there are no TV cameras: The former Republican-turned-Independent-now-Democrat has not yet said he is running for governor in 2014, yet he is already a ubiquitous presence. Were Crist to decide to run, his most difficult opponent may not be Rick Scott or Alex Sink but voter fatigue as Floridians find themselves tired of seeing Crist’s face everywhere — from Morgan & Morgan billboards to a near-permanent residence on MSNBC.
For Alex Sink — Accessories and jewelry that go with the color green: With every leftward move Crist makes, Sink counters with a me-too rebuttal revealing her envy of the ease with which Crist is winning over the Democratic Party. Then again, what does it say about Sink, a lifelong D, when two polls already show her trailing Crist for the party’s nomination?
For Will Weatherford — An open seat: The only thing standing in the way of Weatherford and true greatness are the enormous expectations foisted upon him by his constituents, his colleagues in the Florida House, the entire Republican Party, the media, etc., etc. If only any of them actually knew what the 30-something speaker of the House really wanted. It might be easier to understand Weatherford’s ambitions if there were an open seat — for the Florida Senate, for Congress, heck, the Mosquito Control Board would do — he could pursue.
For Mike Fasano — A seat on the House Banking and Insurance Committee: It makes sense that at least one lawmaker from “Sinkhole Alley,” as a particular stretch of north Tampa Bay is referred to, would be placed on this committee, but none were, including Fasano, who named this his top choice of assignments. It’s beyond obvious that the chairman of this committee did not want to have to deal with Fasano, who has helped water down or kill bills pushed by property insurers the past two years.
For Jack Latvala — A couple of pledge cards for his bid to be Senate president: After his slate of candidates lost in this year’s primary elections, the maverick state senator is likely a few votes short of the pledges from his colleagues he needs to preside over the upper chamber in 2017. Unfortunately for Latvala, the pledge cards he needs can be found in Sen. Joe Negron’s stocking.
For Allen West — A one-way ticket to Georgia or anywhere else he wants to go: The chair of the Peach State’s Republican Party invited the one-term congressman to take his brand of demagoguery to her state. West declined her offer, just as the voters of Congressional District 18 declined to give Col. West a second term. This is a time for serious answers to the country’s serious problems and West’s zaniness no longer deserves a place in this discussion.
For Bill Young — A reverse mortgage: The senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives is alleged to have recently struck an annoying protester with his cane. It’s the second time in less than a year that the 82-year-old Republican has been involved in an incident that portrayed his age in a negative light, leading even some of his supporters to ask if it’s time for the Tampa Bay lawmaker to announce his retirement. A reverse mortgage might allow Congressman Young the opportunity to better enjoy his golden years.