Welcome to The Dean's List, an Ed Dean-style look at who Florida's political achievers were (and weren't) in the last seven days. What you see here is strictly my opinion, not necessarily the editor's or the rest of the staff at Sunshine State News.
THOSE WHO MADE THE LIST
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. By throwing his hat in the ring for the U.S. Senate early, DeSantis ensured support from conservative groups. Theres a reason conservatives are lining up behind DeSantis; his record is solid: supporting federal term limits, opposing some of U.S. House Speaker John Boehners budget proposals, including huge farm subsidies bills, allowing some privatization to Social Security. DeSantis will give conservatives a real choice in the Republican primary.
Southern Wine & Spirits of America. The wine and spirits distributor just donated $100 million to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, which provides private school opportunities to low-income students. Since 2010, the group has donated $190 million and will fund more than 16,500 scholarships during the next school year.
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami. These legislators got their bill allowing more choice for Citizens Insurance customers across the finish line before session ended. The bill ensures Citizens customers will be notified if more than one private insurer wants to make them an offer for coverage outside of Citizens. Currently, Citizens customers receieve only one offer at a time.
Sen. John Legg, R-Port Richey. When Democratic Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa wanted the Senate chamber to formally recognize Florida Education Association (FEA) boss Andy Ford, Legg wanted nothing to do with it. Legg noted the FEA has been against school choice and charter schools, including launching the lawsuit against tax credit scholarships which benefit more than 70,000 underprivileged students throughout Florida. Good for Legg. Just because the Florida Democrats grovel before the big teachers union doesnt mean the Senate should.
THOSE WHO DIDNT MAKE THE LIST
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. Just recently, the Obama administration said that offshore seismic testing would be opened from Virginia to Florida. Nelson is against it, arguing the testing will lead to drilling off the coast of Florida. So Nelson is introducing a bill that would set a moratorium on oil- and gas-related seismic activities off the coastline of Florida. Just one problem. Florida is not in the federal governments five-year plan for offshore oil leases. Someone should remind Nelson that if he would have voted in favor of drilling in Alaska, the topic of drilling off the coast of Florida would be moot.
Darryl Paulson. This political science professor at USF St. Petersburg told the Tampa Bay Timesthat Gov. Rick Scott is the worst governor in Florida history. Paulson called out Scott, insisting the governor was missing in action in this years legislative session. Scotts critics make some valid points about how he has not engaged in the legislative process. But to call him the worst governor ever? Does anybody remember Charlie Crist? The Republican turned no-party affiliation candidate turned Democrat was more focused about politicking and fundraising than actually leading the state.
The St. Lucie County Commission. Its official was the term used in March when the St. Lucie County Commission said it couldnt afford a lawsuit to fight All Aboard Florida. Its official is now the term being used by the same County Commission as it decided it can afford a lawsuit after all. By a 5-0 vote, the commission set aside $500,000 to sue the high-speed rail train. This is a major flip-flop. Earlier this year, the county said it could not afford a lawsuit against AAF because the county was facing a $4.7 million deficit. So wheres the commission finding the money? By transferring the money from the general emergency fund to pay for the legal cost? Come on, be a little more consistent and dont raid the emergency fund to pursue the lawsuit.
Hernando County Democratic Party Chairman Jimmy Lodato. Just starting his post last month, Lodate wants to put on a positive face for the Hernando Democrats. Lodato says he wants to start by expanding the party, welcoming non-Democrats like Libertarians, Green Party supporters and voters with no party affiliation. But just as Lodato offers the promise of a fresh, new approach, he called on the county to bring back a local half-cent sales tax that was defeated last November. Local Democrats can try to portray a new image, but nothing has changed. Maybe thats why there arent many Democrats holding office in Hernando County.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk-show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.