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FDP News Clips -- May 18, 2012

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TWO'S A PRIMARY, THREE'S A CROWD: DAVID WELDON ENTERS FL SEN It's official: Dave Weldon to run for U.S. Senate in Florida [Miami Herald] "He's a longshot to beat frontrunner and Congressman Connie Mack or former Sen. George LeMieux in Florida's GOP Senate race, but we'll find out soon enough. The press release"

Battle Between George LeMieux and Connie Mack Intensifies [Sunshine State News] "The battle between the two leading Republican candidates for U.S. Senate -- George LeMieux and Connie Mack -- intensified Thursday as they exchanged attacks, LeMieux's launched on national television."

FL DEMS: GOP TO BLAME FOR FLORIDA'S PUBLIC SCHOOL FAILURE Dems turn up the heat on GOP and Scott administration [Miami Herald] "'The problem isn't our public schools or our children — the problem is that the Republican Party has demonstrated a complete inability to run Florida’s public education system,' Smith in a statement. 'Over the last decade, Republicans have railed against public schools, consistently underfunded them, required our teachers to teach to an ever-changing test and then feigned surprise when our students performed poorly.'" Read the release here: http://www.fladems.com/news/entry/gop-to-blame-for-floridas-public-school-failure1

FCAT writing fiasco [Miami Herald editorial] "We warned back in February that Florida was pushing through FCAT reforms at warp speed without the appropriate time to train educators on the new requirements, and ignoring each student’s year to year improvement."

Testing obsession [Tampa Tribune editorial] "If the state wanted to destroy confidence in its school accountability efforts, its FCAT writing test was an enormous success. But as a gauge of students' writing progress and schools' effectiveness, the test was a disaster."

Ed Secy Duncan says legislators steered money to questionable tutoring programs [Miami Herald] "U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan came down hard on the Florida Legislature for using federal No Child Left Behind funds to steer money to questionable tutoring programs throughout the state."

MUST READ EDITORIAL: Voter fraud effort smacks of voter suppression campaign [Tampa Bay Times editorial] "There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Florida. There is plenty of evidence that Republicans in Tallahassee have made it more difficult for minority residents to register to vote and to remain on the rolls even if they are citizens. Even if the Scott administration's effort is well-intended, this is no fair way to ensure the voter rolls are accurate. Voter fraud is far less an issue in Florida than state elections officials interfering with the right to vote."

A MID-SUMMER NIGHTMARE The Florida GOP's looming nightmare [Politico] "The Jim Greer trial is going to be a doozy. The former Florida GOP chairman goes to trial on fraud charges July 30 in Orlando — just  a month before the Republican National Convention comes to Tampa. And there’s every sign it will be a messy affair. When the trial date was set last year, Greer’s wife, Lisa, released an ominous statement noting its proximity to the convention and claiming that 'Republican leadership is finally beginning to reap what they have sown'…Already, Florida Democrats have signaled they’ll work overtime to publicize the potential mess. Two weeks ago, in a press release memo attacking Rubio, the state Democratic Party listed the 'upcoming pesky Jim Greer trial' as No. 7 on its list of 'why we hope Republicans place Rubio on the GOP ticket this fall.'"

RISKY RUBIO DROPS IN VEEPSTAKES - AGAIN Hotline's Veepstakes Power Rankings [National Journal] "No candidate has been hurt more by the Republican Party's Sarah Palin experience than Rubio. It's not that he has anything to hide (heaven help you with the Florida press corps if you dare suggest as much), it's that the stories that got big play in Florida haven't made it to national papers in D.C. If you're a Hotline reader, you've heard about earmarks and the house he shared with Rep. David Rivera. Romney's campaign doesn't want to spend its first few days as a complete ticket explaining away Rubio's history in Tallahassee. He could bring all the excitement in the world, but it probably won't be enough to overcome the GOP's hesitancy."

ON THE CONGRESSIONAL FRONT -- ALLEN WEST: WE SHOULD CUT THE VA, WEBSTER'S CENSUS EFFORTS "ABSURD" 

JUST IN TIME FOR ARMED FORCES DAY West says cut the VA [FLDemocracy2012] "Asked about cuts to provide new housing vouchers for homeless veterans and the Ryan budget which slashes veterans’ spending by $11 billion—two measures West supported—the Florida Republican  said the Veterans Health Administration 'could use some trimming,' adding: 'I don’t see the Veterans Administration crying about that.'”

Meanwhile…Heather Beaven speaks for vets [FLDemocracy 2012] "In a statewide conference call Thursday morning, Heather Beaven–Navy veteran and the Democrat running for Florida’s 6th Congressional District—talked about how she is preparing for her husband to be deployed to Afghanistan and how Obama’s outreach efforts have been a 'lifeline.' 'My husband leaves Sunday for pre-deployment training, will ultimately—at the end of the summer—be stationed in Afghanistan for at least a year,' Beavan said."

WEBSTER TAKES ON CENSUS (Yes, you read that right) GOP effort to kill annual census survey is absurd [Washington Post column] "What manner of predatory government prompted Webster - supported by nearly all House Republicans - to issue such categorical condemnation? That intolerable federal boondoggle known as the American Community Survey…Last week, the Republican-led House voted to kill the ACS. This is among the most shortsighted measures we have seen in this Congress, which is saying a lot."

Don't believe chamber's TV attack ads [Orlando Sentinel column by Alan Grayson] "The journalism website PolitiFact.com called the chamber's claim a "pants-on-fire" lie, as in "liar, liar, pants on fire." The Annenberg Foundation's Factcheck.org, an independent, nonpartisan group, has rated the chamber's claim misleading. On the contrary, the legislation that Nelson and I supported actually increases coverage, extending it to more than 30 million people who don't have it now."

OBAMA LAUNCHES NEW AD IN FL President Obama's new ad aims for the college votes [Miami Herald] "Today Obama for America released a new television ad in Florida titled “Higher” that highlights President Obama’s commitment to keeping college affordable and attainable for all Americans. The President believes that we need to make education a national priority so our students can compete and succeed in the jobs of the future. That’s why he doubled funding for college grants, capped federal student loan payments, and passed the largest college tax credit ever." Watch video here

Poll: Obama Leading Romney By 7 [CBS Miami] "The latest Fox News poll is putting together a tough road for Republican Mitt Romney to win the White House from President Barack Obama."

OTHER NEWS WE THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Another one bites the dust Florida Department of Revenue exec director Lisa Vickers leaving [Palm Beach Post] "Vickers, who answers to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet, submitted her resignation in the wake of a shake-up in Scott’s inner circle. The governor’s chief of staff Steve MacNamara resigned over the weekend after media reports questioned his awarding of no-bid contracts to close associates while he worked for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island. Former associates also accused him of being an overly controlling presence in the governor’s office."

Party's lawmakers have hit rights, health, pay, safety [Orlando Sentinel guest column by Susannah Randolph] "Let there be no doubt that the Republican war on women is coordinated, intentional and dangerous. The first battles began in state legislatures, and what most people don't know is that the GOP's war on women has been quietly raging for years."

Starting over at the Capitol [Miami Herald editorial] "Seven of Mr. Scott’s agency heads or top deputies have resigned during his tenure. This kind of turnover and the allegations swirling around Mr. MacNamara are not what voters expected from a Scott administration. “The deal-makers are crying in their cocktails,” Mr. Scott exulted when he won the Republican nomination."

GOP governors in battleground states: economy's getting better. Romney to govs: Shhh [MSNBC] "Many of the nation's key swing states -- Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania -- are led by Republican governors, each of whom are eager to tell their constituents that the economy is improving, jobs are being created, and there's reason for optimism."

BTW It's Friday – so we'll be joining you on high alert for the ever possible Friday p.m. news dump from Gov. Scott's office…