Thursday, April 18, 2013

In Florida Highly Unpopular Gov. Rick Scott is Seeing the Light

Amazing What Bad Poll Numbers Can Do

One of the meaner Governors elected in the Republican surge in 2010 was in Florida where Rick Scott, a former health care executive (whose company was charged with huge Medicare fraud) was carried into office by the Tea Party movement.  Mr. Scott promptly lived up to expectations.

In his first year in office, Mr. Scott chose to introduce his budget in a rural town surrounded by Tea Party supporters.

That year, he sought $4.6 billion in budget cuts, including steep drops in education, while pushing for large corporate tax breaks (both were tempered by the Legislature). He successfully pushed for measures that linked teacher pay to merit, shrank unemployment benefits and required state workers to contribute 3 percent to their retirement. He laid off thousands of workers and returned $2.4 billion in federal dollars that would have financed a high-speed rail line.

The results were not what the small government Tea Party folks expected.  They thought this was what voters wanted.  The voters didn’t, they wanted what voters always want, well managed good government projects.

His policies led to a tangle of expensive legal challenges. And polls found that he had turned off an overwhelming number of voters.

And one other reality exists in Florida.  Unlike other states, there is a well regarded Democratic challenger waiting to take on Mr. Scott.  Former Republican Charlie Crist, rejected by his party for not hating Mr. Obama is now a Democrat and polls show he is competitive with Mr. Scott and could probably defeat him. 

So Mr. Scott does what every politician does, he gives up principles for re-election.

Facing stubbornly low approval ratings, Mr. Scott has crisscrossed the state advertising his enthusiasm for education, state workers, highways, commuter rails, early voting, the disabled, environmental protection and jobs. With Florida’s economy slowly burbling to life and a tiny budget surplus, the governor’s proposed budget of $74.2 billion is one of the largest in Florida history and includes a $2,500 across-the-board pay increase for teachers.

Along the way, Mr. Scott has danced in a music class, hugged teachers, quipped about his bald head and sprinkled cartoon-size checks around the state like a reborn Ebenezer Scrooge.

Can Florida voters be fooled twice?  Sure they can, they were dumb enough to elect Mr. Scott Governor once, even if they have gain a huge amount of smarts in the meantime remember they had a large intelligence gap to overcome.  As for the Tea Party folks that elected him in the first place, well, they have no place to go.  And so once again they may play the role of Useful Idiots, voting someone into office who doesn't even represent their views.

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