A new installment of Inside the Tallahassee bubble news...
EXPENSES ALREADY CLIMBING IN SCOTT RE-ELECTION EFFORT
Here's an interesting couple of tidbits that jumped out in going through last week's campaign finance reports.
One could argue that the bid for Scott's re-election effort is already getting plenty expensive even though the Democratic field remains somewhat unsettled amid ongoing speculation about Charlie Crist and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
The company run by Scott's main political consultant - Tony Fabrizio - has already been paid nearly $600,000 by the Republican Party of Florida since last August. This includes a $170,000 payment in December and another $277,000 payment in March for "polling" according to RPOF campaign finance reports filed with the state.
On top of that Scott's own electioneering communication organization _ Let's Get to Work _ also stroked a $32,150 check for Fabrizio's firm to pay for an "opinion survey."
Records also show that Let's Get to Work in just the last quarter paid Forward Strategies, the company run by well-known fundraiser Meredith O'Rourke, more than $110,000. O'Rourke of course was a prime fundraiser for Crist back when he was a Republican. She was pushed aside from her role as an RPOF fundraiser during the unpleasantness involving disgraced former chairman Jim Greer.
Of course one could argue that Scott is also piling up a large amount of cash in advance of what could be a bruising fight. It's just interesting to note the amount of money already going to the effort even before the Democrats have a nominee.
NON-EXISTENT PATRONIS-GAETZ FEUD?
Rep. Jimmy Patronis told his hometown newspaper late last week that as far as he knows there is no looming rivalry between himself and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach over the state Senate seat now held by Senate President Don Gaetz. Patronis has already filed for the seat _ which comes open in 2016 _ while Matt Gaetz has filed for re-election next year.
"There’s nowhere I’ve seen it documented — both publicly or through social media — that would give me anything to believe that he is intending on running for his dad’s Senate seat,” he told the Panama City News Herald.
Patronis made this comment in the wake of a stream of comments from Gaetz on his Twitter feed where he has questioned Patronis' votes and stances on a line of issues.
But Patronis himself helped fuel the fire of this rivalry on the House floor.
During a debate on a Gaetz-sponsored bill repealing the state law that requires that gas contain ethanol Patronis got up to tout how he had pushed a bill the previous year that removed penalties for gas stations that ignore the mandate.
He said he would support the Gaetz bill but then added this dig: "I don't know if it really makes a difference."
Another key moment on Friday: Gaetz and Patronis were two of the four no votes on the House bill that would allow U.S. born children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities. One of the other no votes _ Rep. Dennis Baxley _ wound up changing his no vote to a yes after the fact and said he misunderstood what the bill did.
The bill was a top priority for House Speaker Will Weatherford, who urged its passage at the start of the year.
A no vote coming from two Republicans representing roughly the same part of the Panhandle might cause some to wonder whether there was a fear that the vote could wind up on mailer. Or maybe that's reading too much into it.
CAN'T BUY ME LOVE:
The Florida chapter of one of the main union for state workers contributed more than $21,000 to legislative candidates before the start of this year's session. This included a maximum $500 donation to 17 Republicans in the House and Senate.
But all nine GOP House members who received a contribution from the Amercian Federation of State, Council and Municipal Employees Council 79 voted in favor of an amendment sponsored by Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, that cut the amount of a proposed state worker pay raise from $1,400 to $1,000. The amendment was approved over the sharp objections of Democrats.
The lone no vote on the amendment was Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.
Perhaps the most interesting vote in favor of the proposal came from Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello.
That's because Beshears ran a memorable campaign ad last fall entitled "Do What's Right" where Beshears said that as businessman he understood the value of treating employees right: "Here we rely on thousands of great men and women to contribute to our local economy. We need to grow it and make it stronger. That's why we need to be more supportive of our hard-working state employees."