Analysis: Will campaign cash be factor in District 18 race?

 U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, right, and Republican challenger, Carl Domino, left, shake hands after a forum Oct. 12 at the Nettles Island club house in Jensen Beach. (MOLLY BARTELS)

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, right, and Republican challenger, Carl Domino, left, shake hands after a forum Oct. 12 at the Nettles Island club house in Jensen Beach. (MOLLY BARTELS)

Isadora Rangel, (@IsadoraRangel2)

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s victory against tea partier Allen West in 2012 drew national coverage as the nastiest and most expensive congressional race. The Democrat’s re-election run against Republican Carl Domino this year has been lackluster by comparison.

The GOP’s money and national support hasn’t been there this year for Domino, while Murphy is running one of the best-funded congressional campaigns.

National political analysts such as the nonpartisan D.C.-based Rothenberg Political Report rate District 18 — Martin, St. Lucie and northern Palm Beach counties — as leaning Democratic, even though Republicans have a voter registration edge of 37 percent to 35 percent.

That’s not to say Domino, a former state representative, doesn’t stand a chance.

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Fracking defines Lee County race between Rodrigues and Messina

Charles Messina

Charles Messina

Rep. Ray Rodrigues

Rep. Ray Rodrigues










Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, (@Jenna_Buzzacco)

The battle between two Lee County men for state House is shining a light on their differences over hydraulic fracturing.

One wants the state to impose an outright ban; the other is hoping to put disclosure requirements in place before the process begins.

Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues, 44, of Estero, faces Democrat Charles Messina, 55, of Saint James City, in the state House District 76 election. The south Lee County district covers coastal Lee County and includes Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island and Sanibel Island.

Rodrigues was first elected in August 2012 after he garnered no opposition in the general election. Messina said the fact that Rodrigues ran unopposed in the general was one of the reasons why he decided to throw his hat in the race.

The other reason? Messina doesn’t support legislation Rodrigues proposed that would allow oil and gas industry trade secrets to be exempt from the state’s public records law.

In 2013, Rodrigues filed legislation requiring the state to put disclosure requirements in place before hydraulic fracturing, a type of oil and gas drilling commonly known as fracking, would begin in Florida. That bill (HB 743) passed the state House 92-19, but failed in the Senate. A companion bill (HB 745), which provided the public records exemption, never received a vote.

Rodrigues refiled the legislation in 2014, but neither bill made any progress. Rodrigues has said that was due in large part to election year politics during the legislative session.

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Naples Daily News Editorial: Gov. Rick Scott has earned four more years


Scott McIntyre/Staff Scott speaks to supporters during a campaign rally at Chrissy’s Tavern in Naples on Thursday.

Naples Daily News Editorial

Charlie Crist is the more polished politician. Rick Scott is the more accomplished governor.

Florida’s continuing recovery from the Great Recession should be entrusted to Scott, who we’re confident will further grow business, promote job creation, invest in education and safeguard the environment. Republican Scott should be returned to the governor’s mansion for four more years.

While Scott may not articulate his plan smoothly, he lays out his vision surely.

Four years ago, this newspaper didn’t have faith in Scott. Even though he’s from Naples, he didn’t have our support. Today, he does. We sense moderation in Scott from the tea party extremes of circa 2010 to a leader who still exhibits Republican ideals of fiscal responsibility and applying sound business practices to governance.

What’s emerged over time is a governor who more often shows a compassionate side, who hasn’t forgotten his upbringing by a single mom struggling to raise her family on store clerk wages in modest housing.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, a cloud remains around Scott because of the Columbia-HCA scandal nearly two decades ago, when he resigned as chief executive officer several months after a Medicaid fraud investigation became public. His company admitted to more than a dozen felonies and paid more than $1.5 billion in government fines and civil settlement penalties, a record.

Unsettling? To say the least. Yet we don’t subscribe to double jeopardy. Scott wasn’t charged, much less convicted. Scott’s HCA dirty laundry was widely distributed during the campaign four years ago, yet he defeated an outstanding Democratic opponent. Florida voters decided the issue about Scott’s character and HCA four years ago when they first elected him. So this election isn’t about HCA. It’s about Scott’s performance the past four years and Florida’s future.

Let’s also remember who Scott didn’t face four years ago. In late 2010, Crist was in the final months of his first gubernatorial term, leaving office by choice. He’d gained the trust of Floridians who elected him spanning a decade as education commissioner, then attorney general and then Florida’s 44th governor. Crist, who became an independent, then a Democrat, not only parted ways with his political party, he voluntarily surrendered the governor’s office.

Crist could have fought to rescue Florida from a recession lingering not only from the housing bust, but the tourism aftershocks of the BP oil spill. If Crist were up to the challenge of governor, he should have stayed and directed Florida into an era of economic prosperity. He didn’t. He walked away. We find that disappointing and enlightening.

Read the Naples Daily News’ full endorsement

Voters consider lawyer, freelance journalist in House District 105 race

Carlos Pereira CarlosTrujillo_9326371_ver1.0_640_480









Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster (@Jenna_Buzzacco)

For some Collier County residents, the race for state representative is between an attorney and a freelance journalist.

Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo, 31, of Miami, faces Democrat Carlos Pereira, 40, of Doral, in the state House District 105 race. The district, which spans the length of the state, includes parts of Broward, Collier and Miami-Dade counties.

Collier elections officials said there are more than 16,160 registered county voters living in district, which includes Golden Gate and Naples Manor. Elections records show more than 52,700 registered voters — or about 73 percent of the district’s registered voters — live in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

House records show the district’s population is primarily Hispanic, with more than 67 percent of residents identifying themselves as Hispanic.

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Scott: Political novice with stubborn agenda becomes a politician who compromises

Gov. Rick Scott talks to voters while holding his grandson during a visit to Naples. (Scott McIntyre/Naples Daily News)

Gov. Rick Scott talks to voters while holding his grandson during a visit to Naples. (Scott McIntyre/Naples Daily News)

Matt Dixon, (@Mdixon55)

“Can you say hello?” asked Gov. Rick Scott, in a bubbly, happy tone.

The person he was trying to coax into offering a greeting was his toddler grandson, Quinton, whom Scott held in his arms as he waited last week in line to vote early at the Collier County Public Library.

As he chatted with voters in line with him – holding Quinton the entire time – Scott was relaxed, happy, and personable. This is his element, away from the larger crowds and the television lights where Scott often seems uncomfortable.

Through his first four years in office, Scott has always been a gushing grandpa. Frequently talking about his grandchildren with reporters, and bringing them with him for a range of public events.

That is where Scott has been consistent, while many other aspects about the state’s chief executive have changed, or “evolved,” as political candidates often like to phrase it.

The former health care executive rode into Tallahassee in 2010 on a Tea Party wave, promising to be the political outsider who would shake up an insider-driven state government.

Each year, Scott’s administration started the two-month Legislative session with a well-defined set of policy priorities. While Scott has secured more wins than losses, the changing direction, even evolution, of those policies has helped define his four years in the governor’s mansion.

Though Scott has changed his position on several issues, the fact that he is running against former Gov. Charlie Crist has helped knee-cap that sort of attack against him. Crist is a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, and many of his positions have changed with his political affiliation.

Crist is more likely to take the heat from voters than Scott.

“Charlie was a switcher,” said Pappy Wagner, a Naples Republican who says Scott has done the best job as governor since Jeb Bush. Crist “has just switched around so much, I don’t care for that.”

Joe Agiato, a retired Naples resident who voted early the same day last week as Scott, puts it this way when describing Crist: “You can’t trust a man who can’t trust himself.”

But the truth is, Scott’s story is, in part, that of an outsider who changed from the political novice with a stubborn agenda to an experienced political pragmatist who learned to practice the give-and-take needed for any governor to succeed.

“I think the fact that he was new to state government offered a fresh perspective,” said Dean Cannon, a Winter Park Republican who served as speaker of House when Scott was first elected. “I don’t know that it ever hindered anything, but it was definitely a new approach.”

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