With much of the state still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, two Republican legislators are making a promise to Floridians still struggling to get back on their feet.

As Florida lawmakers gather this week in Tallahassee to welcome incoming freshman officials, recently re-elected State Representatives Spencer Roach and Anthony Sabatini are getting a head start on the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session, announcing that they will not file appropriation bills with people still facing economic hardships in the Sunshine State.

Roach, a retired Coast Guard Jag officer, was the first Republican to take the pledge last week. He said he made the choice based on his conservative foundation and promise to not raise taxes on the voters who elected him.

“We will not increase taxes to supplement lost revenue. We will not ask the federal government to bail us out,” Roach said. “Over 1.3 million unemployed Floridians face impossible decisions between mortgages, utility bills, and for some, food. We will tighten our belts like Florida families have been forced to do by scrutinizing every dollar in the state budget.

“I was elected as a fiscal conservative and I intend to govern that way. I will not file any appropriation bills and I hope my colleagues follow suit. We should prioritize the healthcare, education, and public safety of our children and service for the most vulnerable – not pork projects for members,” he continued.

Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican, joined his colleague on Monday, citing the need to reduce government spending to help Floridians recover from the economic fallout brought on by COVID-19.

“I will be joining my colleague, Representative Spencer Roach, in making a commitment to NOT file any member appropriation bills,” Sabatini said. “What Florida needs now more than ever before, is less government and less taxes. The best way to do this is to ensure that all requests for more government spending are totally eliminated.”

Since 2017, members of the Florida House have had the ability to file an unlimited number of appropriations project bills to provide state funding for projects they deem important. These project bills are the primary method by which House members seek individual line items within the state budget.

Since their inception, more than 2,600 projects have been funded, costing taxpayers $2.2 billion. The current $92.2 billion budget signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis allocated $474.7 million for such member projects.

Roach, who represents House District 79, says he hopes that his leadership on the issue will help set a precedent that other members of the House will take up.


Florida has long had a history as a swing state in Presidential and Senatorial political contests, but for a much longer period of time, Florida has had a history as a military defense state. Home to three or four different strategic commands, depending on who is counting, Florida’s unique geography has made it the ideal location for Army, Navy, and Air Force bases and training facilities. Also, with a large veteran population, many serve after formal retirement as civilian contractors. It is safe to say that the military has a huge footprint in Florida.

That brings me to what seems to be bubbling up as a concern for many: the fate of military funding and existing projects and missions after the election is over. On the campaign trail, the candidates all seem to take a status quo or generally “supportive of the military” position on every issue. After the election, the reality of governing may take on a different tone.

One of the programs that often comes under unnecessary scrutiny is the F-35 Lightning II. There may be a lot of fat in military defense budgets, but this seems to be one place where we need to stay the course.

The F-35 brings superior agility and greater firepower to our air forces of every branch, and its development has given us and our allies a definite edge in air superiority. Our pilots and the personnel they support with their missions all deserve the tactical advantages it provides.

For Florida especially, there is another reason to support the F-35. Both Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and Tyndall Air Force Base (Panama City) now have F-35 missions, giving them an extra edge in any future base alignment discussions. Furthermore, the overall supply chain of sub-contractors and manufacturers employed in the production of the F-35 provides thousands of jobs and billions in economic benefits to Florida’s economy.

Who knows what the future holds for defense spending after the election is over, but it seems a no-brainer that Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and every Congressman and Congresswoman, both Republican and Democrat, will be aligned in supporting the F-35.


It should come as no surprise that Florida’s election tomorrow will be a nail-biter. Since 2010, every Florida executive election for either governor or President has been won by 1.2% or less with an average margin of 69,000 votes.

However, President Trump will win Florida because of the following factors: the energy, the turnout, and the intangibles.

The Energy

As early voting ended yesterday, Democrats achieved a “ballots cast” advantage of 108,000 votes over Republicans. In 2016, Hillary had a pre-Election Day ballot advantage of about 96,000 votes. Considering how many more Democrats have registered to vote since 2016, Biden has not improved on Hillary’s pre-Election Day advantage and has actually regressed. For a further energy indicator, look no further than Biden’s lackluster crowds and events.

The Turnout

Since 1956, no Presidential contest in Florida has featured a total voter turnout of more than 83%, and since 2000, total Presidential turnout has never exceeded 75%. Turnout this year appears on pace to exceed 80%, another factor in Trump’s favor.

As of the October 6, 2020 book-closing, there were 14.4 million eligible voters. A 75% turnout would equal 10.8 million votes. When early voting ended yesterday, a total of 8.98 million votes had been cast. With a 75% ceiling, only 1.85 million voters will cast ballots on Election Day, or 17% of the total votes cast. That would total 1.1 million fewer Election Day ballots than 2016.

While Covid could affect attitudes about “in-person” voting, it is unlikely Election Day turnout will be so low. In the Primary election in August, Election Day voting accounted for 27% of the total votes cast, even when fears of Covid were higher than they are now.

Primary election participation was also higher than usual and may be another indicator of higher turnout in tomorrow’s general election. For instance, primary election turnout in 2012 and 2016 was 21% and 24%, respectively. This year, primary election turnout was 28% even though there was no statewide race on the ballot and even with Covid as a factor.

Republicans have dominated Election Day voting for the last three cycles in Florida. In 2016, 42% of ballots cast on Election Day were Republican. Only 34% were Democratic. If the same holds true tomorrow, with only a 75% total turnout, Republicans will overpower Democrats by about 150,000 ballots on Election Day. If there’s an 80% or greater turnout tomorrow, Republicans should be on pace to gain an Election Day advantage of 225,000+ ballots. Either way, history suggests that Republicans will overcome the early voting/vote-by-mail deficit and bank a net advantage of 40,000 to 100,000 ballots. If Democrat turnout tomorrow is flat, the margin for Republicans could be dramatically higher.

The Intangibles

This brings us to the hope for Biden. Just over 1 million No Party Affiliation voters not living in either a Republican or a Democratic household have cast ballots in the early vote period, and they will be a force to be reckoned with on Election Day as well.

However, these voters have been proven time and again to vote for candidates based on three factors: taxes, backbone, and anti-establishment attitude. Trump beats Biden on all three, hands down.

Conclusion

Based on partisan participation, Trump will have the edge, for there has been no Election Day surge for Democrats in a very long time.

Considering the energy of Team Trump, the failure of the Democrats to produce pre-Election Day ballots, and the failure of Biden to win over No Party voters on the intangibles, it seems Florida is shaping up to be a reverse of Obama vs. Romney in 2012.

Republicans hated Obama, and the economy was a train wreck; but Obama’s base loved him, and Romney inspired no one.

Conversely, Trump’s base loves him, the economy is roaring back, and Biden inspires no one.

If Republicans vote tomorrow, Trump will win, bigly or small. But a win is a win.


 

Brett Doster

— Brett Doster is the president and founder of Front Line Strategies.


After defeating COVID-19 at the age of 90, Florida State’s legendary football coach Bobby Bowden is setting his sights on defeating Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

In a press release on Tuesday, Bowden, who was released from Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare last Thursday after contracting the coronavirus earlier this month, discussed overcoming the virus and urged Americans to vote for President Donald Trump on Nov. 3.

The release reads:

“I want to thank all the many, many people who were thinking of and praying for me over the last few weeks.  I just went through a battle with Covid-19, and God just wasn’t ready to take me Home yet to be with Him.

“Most of you know I’m 91 years old, and the fight was tough.  But thanks to the help of Dr. Michael Forsthoefel, and the support of Ann and all my children, I beat it.

“I’ve had the chance to get a lot of wins in my life, but I really wanted to win this one because I wanted to be around to vote for President Trump.

“I have always said that the only thing you can take to Heaven with you is your kids, and for 71 years of marriage, Ann and I have tried to live our lives and share our Christian Faith with them so that one day we will all be there together.

“But until that time, we are here on earth, and America is the greatest country this side of heaven.  We have the freedom to pursue our faith in God, our dreams for our career, and our love for our families.  For too long now, politicians in Washington have run America down and apologized for our greatness.  I’m tired of it.

“Like President Trump, I had the opportunity to be treated for Covid-19 with drugs to include Remdesivir.  At the age of 91, in many other countries, I might not have even been treated.  In America, I was.

“The one thing that all of us parents and grandparents can do for our children and grandchildren in these next couple of weeks is vote.  We have to get out and vote for President Trump because re-electing him is our only chance to leave the next generation with the same heritage, beliefs, and opportunities that Ann and I had and that many of you had.

“There are about 45 of us Bowdens around.  Most of us live in Florida, and I promise you that almost all of us will be voting for Trump, and the ones that don’t won’t be telling me about it.

“So please, take the time, dadgumit, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, to Keep America Great and vote for Donald Trump.”

Bowden tested positive for the disease on Oct. 3. He will turn 91 on Nov. 8.


The effort to fill the vacancy caused by Justice Ginsburg’s recent passing is not about former President Barack Obama’s unsuccessful nomination of Judge Garland in 2016. It is surprising, then, that Judge Barrett’s detractors seem to oppose her chiefly because they claim that another jurist who had good qualifications was not confirmed by the United States Senate in 2016.

We first dispose of several subsidiary arguments. The claim that the ACA remains at stake in active litigation demonstrates a striking misapprehension of both appellate procedure and the current texture of the Supreme Court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held the ACA unconstitutional. A rump Supreme Court would likely deadlock 4-4, leaving this decision in place, and thus dooming the ACA with or without a Justice Barrett.

Nor is Roe v. Wade at stake. Neither the Congress nor any state legislature has passed any measure that does not easily pass muster under existing precedent.
Hypotheticals about the election are even further afield.

Although Judge Barrett’s detractors would reflexively oppose any nominee by any Republican president, they are particularly perturbed by her training under the late Justice Scalia, her resulting moral clarity on protecting the unborn and strict adherence to the Constitution, and her diverse family. Suffice it to say that Judge Garland lacked these qualities, notwithstanding his comparable academic and legal qualifications. Perhaps, then, Democrats are perturbed because Judge Barrett combines Justice Scalia’s intellect and Vice President Pence’s poise and demeanor, rendering her the foremost American stateswoman since at least Elanor Roosevelt.

Even more appalling to Judge Barrett’s detractors is the prospect of another “Republican” justice on a Court that is supposed to be “apolitical.” As the story goes, a half a century of legislation from the bench, dating back at least to Roe v. Wade, all enacted by unelected justices who were striking down legislation passed by elected legislators, and signed by elected executives, is now in jeopardy.

We now turn to the text of the Constitution. Article II, Section 2, states that “[The president] shall have Power, . . . and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States…” The Senate did not consent in 2016. The Senate is expected to consent in 2020. The Constitution says nothing about the timing or process for judicial confirmations and the historical record discloses no clear tradition other than some improvident remarks in 2016. These remarks, like dissenting Supreme Court opinions, or cherry picked historical examples, carry no constitutional weight.

Legislators may not enact laws that cannot be repealed by future legislatures. Nor may they amend the Constitution through speeches in committee or on Sunday talk shows. The President retains the power to nominate and/or confirm a justice at any time before or after any election. The Senate may confirm that justice with or without committee hearings on any schedule it chooses. This analysis, unlike any unfounded notions about election year nominations, finds clear support in the Constitution. See Article 1, Section 5 (“a majority of each [House] shall constitute a quorum to do business. . . . [e]ach House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”)

In the last round of nominations to the Florida Supreme Court, a liberal legislator filed a lawsuit because the Governor would leave a vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court for more than the several months. In fact, the critics’ only cogent reason for opposing the nomination was that a rule allowing the Governor to delay the seating of a Supreme Court Justice could create an unacceptably long vacancy and the potential for tie votes, precisely the problem they are causing by calling for delay on the United States Supreme Court. By demanding an intervening election, and denigrating Trump’s attempts to quickly fill the vacancy, Democrats are now undermining the values that they championed only weeks ago. By contrast, Republicans at least waited over four years before supposedly reversing course, and only under very different circumstances.

Constitutional separation of powers transcends politics. The criticism of the timing of Justice Barrett’s nomination process boils down not to what was done in 2016, or how it was done, but what was said at the time. Fortunately, the constitutional separation of powers analysis depends on what was written in Philadelphia in 1787, not on what was said in Washington in 2016. Nonetheless, improvident remarks by those still in power should be retracted or clarified to state that when the Senate opposes the President, an intervening election may break that impasse and spare the country an embarrassing spectacle of a sitting jurist being hectored and then rejected. Judge Barrett’s nomination is constitutional and lawful and should be handled without regard to the timing of the election, the results thereof, nonbinding committee debate, or talk show pontification.


Mike Beltran is a state representative who serves House District 57


This week, we begin looking at some of the state’s most interesting swing seats that could affect the balance of power in the Florida Legislature.  One of the most interesting contests is in House District 103.  Held for years by now State Senator Manny Diaz Jr., last cycle the seat moved left as Cindy Polo defeated the Republican nominee in what some would term an upset.  Many locals credit that to Polo’s relentless work ethic and her willingness to aggressively meet with anyone and anywhere.  The question is whether the approachability and her work ethic will pay off this time.

Polo is receiving a strong challenge from Tom Fabricio, a Republican with an equally strong work ethic who has already built a reputation for street politics second to none.  His social media page lights up every day with new images and reports of door-to-door campaigning.  From the sidelines, this appears to be the Miami street battle well worth the popcorn and coke for all of us watching.

Fabricio is a business attorney, volunteer with at-risk youth, husband, and father of two girls.  His reasons for running are simple as he points to family and community in his advertising and his disappointment over Polo’s outspoken support for the radical left.  Fabricio’s disappointment does seem to have some merit.  From reviewing Polo’s Facebook page and campaign materials. It is clear that she views herself as an up and coming new brand liberal, ready to push the envelope on a big government solution to every problem.  Her aggressiveness and outspoken attacks on Republicans certainly make her look more like her fellow Broward County legislators than someone who represents conservative bastions like Hialeah and Miami Lakes.

In the legislature, Polo has adopted somewhat of a mini-me Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez persona.  She has been willing to mix it up, challenge leadership at every turn, and even vote against key measures for her own constituents in political protest.  In the last legislative session, she even voted against the budget, leaving her open to allegations that she put her own political ambitions and vitriol above that of the interests of her constituents.  Her agenda-based governance style netted a price.  Not one bill she sponsored in the last legislative session saw the light of day.  Every bill died.

What does this all mean for Fabricio?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe Polo goes on to win re-election and uses her constituents as a springboard for a future as a rising liberal radical star.  However, from our interviews with some Democrats in Miami who wished to remain off the record, they worry that Polo’s agenda is self-centered and untrustworthy and that her antics have put retaining the seat at risk for Democrats.

If Fabricio has a shot, it is due 100% to Polo’s harsh approach.

From our vantage point, if you actually take the time to examine the bills that she filed that stepped on the constitution, individual rights, and were part of an attempt to force-feed a liberal agenda, we rate her as Florida’s worst incumbent legislator, and we rate House District 103 as the most interesting swing seat contest in the state.

We will be rating other legislative contests in the subsequent days.

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