Florida Five: GOP complains about Crist’s NASCAR sponsorship, No ruling on gay marriage ban

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

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Crist’s NASCAR racer brings GOP complaint: The shiny new Charlie Crist-sponsored racer in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway has drawn the critical eye of the Republican Party of Florida. The GOP filed a formal complaint claiming the sponsorship’s market value far exceeds the $3,000 limit for an in-kind contribution to a statewide candidate. “Nice try,” said a Crist campaign spokesman, Brendan Gilfillan, who said the GOP got its facts wrong: The sponsorship was an in-kind contribution to Crist’s political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida, which is not subject to the $3,000 limit. Read more

No Ruling on Lawsuit Over Florida Gay Marriage Ban: The oral arguments were made Wednesday at a hearing over Florida’s six-year-old gay marriage ban, but Judge Sarah Zabel did not tip her hand which way she might rule. “I’ll take it under advisement,” Judge Zabel said at the end of the hearing. The original motion was filed earlier this year on behalf of the couples by Equality Florida, a state activist group. The suit claims Florida’s laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying violate the U.S. Constitution by denying them equal protection and due process. Read more

Crist on wife’s tax return: ‘Women have the right to choose’: Charlie Crist maintained on MSNBC a short while ago that he does not intend to release his wife’s tax return, as Gov. Rick Scott is demanding. “They want your wife to release her taxes. Is that going to end and is it important, as you see it?” host Ed Schultz asked. “It’s not important,” Crist replied. “You know, women have a right to choose, Ed. And my wife is included in that category. She has the right to choice. It’s her decision. We file separately.” Read more

State Rolls Out Plan for High-Stakes Pot Industry: Winners of Florida’s five, highly sought-after medical marijuana licenses could be selected through lotteries, according to a draft rule released late Wednesday by the Department of Health. The 16-page document comes in advance of an agency workshop Monday in Tallahassee that is drawing heavy attention. The draft rule, generally considered a starting point, outlines how the state intends to implement a new law, signed by Gov. Scott, that made Florida one of nearly two dozen states that permit some sort of marijuana. Read more

Will Weatherford Shows No Signs of Leaving Political Stage Despite Being Term-Limited: Even though he faces term limits in November, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, shows no signs of heading to the sidelines as he continues to support Republicans in congressional and legislative races across the Sunshine State. Only 34, Weatherford is expected to be a future candidate for higher office. In Weatherford’s latest move, he announced on Wednesday he was backing Florida House candidate Blaise Ingoglia’s bid to replace term-limited Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill. Read more

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