Now that the 2014 Election Season is in full swing in Florida, it may be appropriate to remind voters of some of the biggest political blunders in the past four years. Of course, being Florida, the list is almost as big as the federal tax code, so the focus here will be on the glaring blunders - the ones which have affected all Floridians at some level.
Governor Rick Scott pulled another round of doublespeak by first refusing to enforce the Affordable Care Act, then said he can't leave millions of seniors without insurance. Unfortunately, Scott's oratory about-face wasn't enough to sway his fellow Republicans, who managed, yet again, to kick the political ball downfield enough that not only was nothing done to expand Medicare in the Sunshine State, they failed to provide even a reasoned argument for the failure, beyond the usual tired GOP talking points. Even more odd is the fact that the state's Republican leadership has blamed the state's medicare woes on (drum roll) the Obama Administration.
BLUNDER BLAME: Rick Scott deserves a chunk of the blame on this one, but not all. Give the rest to Florida's dysfunctional General Assembly, which continues to show it's so-called Tea Party is in a perpetual legislative Gasparilla Festival.
Gay Marriage Ban
With gay marriage bans being overturned all over the nation, Florida voters are about to receive a lesson in Constitutional Supremacy. As much as social conservatives don't want to admit it, the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land and, if the Supreme Court decides that similar constitutional bans on gay marriage fly in the face of the Framers' written design, then gays and lesbians will be able to tie the knot in Florida. This particular battle is a ludicrous example of attempting to legislate morality, with expensive consequences in the form of millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on a legal fight which, based on recent decisions, the Sunshine State is highly unlikely to win. The money used on this would have been better spent on providing free counseling to low-income families experiences domestic trouble.
BLUNDER BLAME: Voters have only themselves to blame on this one. At some point in time, personal morality will not be the subject of political grudge matches, but for right now, Florida continues to follow the trend rather than set it.
Governor Scott, Name That Scandal
Governor Rick Scott's term in office has had its high points (actual leadership during the Deepwater Horizon spill, effective response to tropical storms), but a parade of scandals involving individuals with direct connections to his office have proven to be politically costly. Former Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll's disgracing over allegations of sexual misconduct, an slew of top-level resignations resulting from revelations of myriad conflicts of interest, use of private email accounts to sidestep state sunshine laws, and Scott's wife being forced to divest shares of a company connected to drug testing of state welfare recipients has proven that either Scott and his handlers are naive, politically stupid, or just plain careless. Scott's current political albatross is his desire to support Medicare expansion despite having fought it vehemently - that's not sitting well with the vociferous Tea Party brass who helped him into office. His Democratic challenger, former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, could win if the "throw the bums out" sentiment rules the day at the ballot box.
BLUNDER BLAME: Governor Scott - hands down. He has done his best to impersonate the legendary Andrew Jackson, known for contempt of the U.S. Supreme Court and refusal to abide by their rulings. (Fun Fact: Jackson was Florida's first territorial governor.)
Thanks for nothing, Duke Energy
In what may be the most odious, disgusting and straight-up bullheaded political blunder in last quarter century, Florida's Public Service Commission, Governor Rick Scott, and the Florida General Assembly managed to drive a cooling-tower sized corncob up the collective rumps of Florida electricity customers. Allowing then-Progress Energy Florida to hit customers with a surcharge to "pre-pay" a proposed nuclear plant in Levy County was the first step. Next was a series of rate hikes granted to Progress, and later the combined Duke Energy, which saw customer bills jump by almost 10 percent over a five year span during a time when citizens were being pinched by the Great Recession. The final blow came when the General Assembly teamed up with the Public Service Commission in an insidious move allowing the newly merged Duke Energy, which had just announced its intention to scrap the Levy County plant, to keep the monies generated from the fees collected to pay for said plant. Shortly after, Duke also announced its intention to shutter the foundering Crystal River nuclear plant, damaged by a botched repair authorized by Progress Energy's outgoing management team. As of this moment, the state has not announced any plants to call Duke Energy executives to account for these issues.
BLUNDER BLAME: Governor Rick Scott - the governor appoints the Public Service Commission's members, and Scott made it abundantly clear that the pro-consumer members are persona non-grata. The current PSC is a nationally-recognized joke of a regulatory body among lobbyists, which is why Florida is regarded as a safe-haven for energy companies to do as they please.
J.D. Alexander (Florida Polytechnic) University
This is an example of the Roman adage of "to the victor, go the spoils." Former General Assembly powerbroker J.D. Alexander wanted a university for his home of Polk County. USF-Polytechnic (previously known as USF-Lakeland) was, by all accounts, doing just fine as a satellite campus of the state's third largest research university. It's not certain who put the bug in whose ear, but Alexander and USF-Poly leadership began a political insurrection against USF's parent campus in Tampa which ended with the creation of Florida Polytechnic, over the objection of not just USF's Board of Trustees, but also the state's Board of Governors. It has had to fight for its survival since its legislative inception, and many are still unsure as to whether the money invested into creation of this school will be truly worth it.
BLUNDER BLAME: J.D. Alexander - too bad he ran back home to Polk County where he doesn't have to answer for this epic quid pro quo fail.