Jose Javier Rodriguez: Master of the Minority

Categories: Politicks

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Photo by Stian Roenning
Jose Javier Rodriguez is in Tally to get things done, not to pick partisan fights.
In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.

After November's Republican shellacking at the polls, you'd imagine the few Florida Democrats who emerged unscathed are about as eager to return to Tallahassee as a fourth-grader going back to school after a glorious summer vacation.

So why does Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez sound so damn excited about sitting in a House that now has a new GOP supermajority, not to mention a re-elected, re-emboldened Rick Scott in the governor's mansion?

"The honest truth is what happened this November doesn't change a whole lot," Rodriguez says. "The GOP had an overwhelming majority before, and they still do today. Yet I still got a lot of things done before."

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New Rep. Carlos Curbelo Is Already In Trouble Over His Campaign Finances

Categories: Politicks

via YouTube
As Joe Garcia desperately fought to hang onto his Congressional office this fall, we described it as the battle for "Florida's dirtiest district." After all, Garcia's predecessor, David Rivera, has faced down repeated investigations from the feds and watched former colleague Ana Alliegro head to prison over an election scheme. And Garcia himself was no sooner elected than his chief of staff was sent behind bars over absentee ballot fraud.

So really, no one should be shocked that former Miami Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo -- the Republican who beat Garcia in November's mid-terms -- has already found himself in hot water before even being sworn in.

See also: Congressman Joe Garcia Fights for His Political Life

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Read Hundreds of Secret Emails Showing GOP Consultants' Plot To Skew Florida Districts

Categories: Politicks

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Photo by Michael Rivera via Wikimedia Commons
Four years ago, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment with a simple mandate: Legislators had to stop drawing absurd state congressional districts that virtually ensured the GOP would dominate in Tallahassee forever. Instead, voters wanted fair districts -- boundaries that would create actual competitive races instead of Democrat- or Republican-packed strongholds.

Within weeks, GOP strategists went to work on an equally simple mission: how to get around the new law. And a newly released batch of hundreds of emails from one Gainesville consultant lays bare just how blatantly they tried to game the system.

See also: Florida GOP "Made a Mockery" of Fair Redistricting Amendments, Judge Rules

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Rick Scott to Hold Scaled-Back Inauguration Events

Categories: Politicks

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After a reelection campaign that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million total, Rick Scott has decided to scale back traditional inaugural events. Because, you know, he wants you all to know he's a budget conscious, thrifty guy.

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Florida's CFO, Ag Commissioner Each Took More Than $400,000 in Public Money to Finance Campaigns

Categories: Politicks

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CFO Jeff Atwater
Florida's public campaign financing laws mean that candidates for governor and the three cabinet offices can qualify to have any donations of $250 or less matched by public money with a few caveats.

Charlie Crist received about $2.4 million in public financing during his run against mega-loaded Rick Scott. Attorney General Pam Bondi received $328,000 in her matchup against Democrat George Sheldon, who in turn received $300,000.

But Republican CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam each received more than $400,000 in public financing even though both were running against no-name Democrats who never had a chance of winning.

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Some Republicans Actually Want Rick Scott to Run for President

Categories: Politicks

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Gov. Rick Scott just spent four years as one of America's most deeply unpopular elected officials. Thanks to his days running a firm that earned the largest fine in U.S. history for Medicare fraud, he has skeletons in his closet that would make Hannibal Lecter flinch. He had to blow through $1,200 a minute every single day before this month's election to squeak past a turncoat Republican by a single percentage point. He looks like a Scooby-Doo villain.

All of which adds up to the perfect candidate to make a run for the White House. That's what a few Florida Republicans think, at least.

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Florida Democrats Chair on Election Loss Fallouts: "The Bed-Wetters Need to Shut Up!"

Categories: Politicks

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After some embarrassing losses in the midterm elections, the Florida Democratic party is full of some finger pointing and infighting at the moment, but the party's State Chairwoman Allison Tant is sick of it.

She told the News Service of Florida that, "the bed-wetters need to shut up, and we need to move on."

This, of course, only lead to more in-fighting.

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72-Year-Old Bill Nelson Charged With Reinvigorating Florida Dems for a New Age

Categories: Politicks

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Senator Bill Nelson is just about the only problem the Florida Democratic Party doesn't have. The 72-year-old senator is in his third term and always cruises to an easy reelection, and has held one elected office or another since 1973 save for a four-year gap in the early '90s. But is he really the man to trust when it comes to plotting the future of the state party? We'll find out.

Nelson has been named the co-chair of the newly announced Democrats' Leadership Expansion to Advance Democrats (LEAD) task force along with former Orlando Police Chief and failed congressional candidate Val Demings.

See also: Florida's Democratic Party Is a Joke, but Who Is the Punchline: Its Leaders or Voters?

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Will Florida Ever Vote for a Republican Presidential Candidate Again?

Categories: Politicks

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For the past few presidential elections, Florida has been the grand prize of swing states. It's 29 electoral votes could have conceivably gone either way.

President Obama was able to win Florida in the past two elections, but that was only after hard campaigning and a sophisticated "get out the vote" system in the state. If demographic trends hold steady, though, Florida could soon become an easier win for Democrats.

That, however, is a big if.

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Jackson Could Lose $570 Million a Year If Republicans Refuse to Expand Medicaid

Categories: Politicks

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Rick Scott and his fellow Tallahassee Republicans' strong opposition to the Affordable Care Act has resulted in the state refusing to allow the federal government to expand Medicaid in Florida.

But their refusal could cause Florida hospitals to miss out on billions in funding, with Miami's cash-strapped Jackson Memorial Hospital in particular losing an estimated $570 million a year.

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