Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:
Favorite son or total stranger? Nearly three-quarters of Florida’s voters have never seen Jeb Bush on a ballot – Jeb Bush’s big political credential, and his presumed strength in the presidential campaign he’ll launch on Monday, is the broad appeal he demonstrated over two terms as Florida governor—doubly important given the critical role Florida’s primary will play in winnowing the GOP field. Bush handily won his last race, in 2002, by drawing support from Republicans and Democrats with what even his opponents describe as a unique personal connection to Florida voters. Read more
Legislative budget negotiators inch toward a deal – Legislative appropriations chairmen are working through the weekend to resolve some big-ticket spending issues and get a state budget ready for a vote that will end the special session late this week. “The tunnel is a little bit away,” Senate appropriations chairman Tom Lee said Saturday, when asked if he saw some light ahead, “but we’re working hard to get there.” Read more
Florida lawmakers strike deal on how to spend $2 billion in hospital funding — Lawmakers struck a deal Friday on how to spend about $2 billion in hospital funding in the budget year that begins July 1, clearing a key sticking point in talks about a state spending plan and potentially clearing the way to end a special session next week as scheduled. The agreement on divvying up the mixture of local, state and federal dollars among dozens of hospitals across Florida caps a debate that helped derail the regular spring session and forced lawmakers to return to Tallahassee this month. Read more
State Democrats: We know how to win, lack money to do it – The Florida Democratic Party released a report Friday analyzing a horrendous 2014 election cycle and exploring ways to do better in the future. One of its conclusions: It will take a lot more money than the party is used to having. The report concludes that Democrats did better than four years ago in areas where they devoted resources and field offices, and worse in areas where they didn’t directly engage with voters. Read more
Rep. Patrick Murphy makes Senate case to replace Marco Rubio in Florida – For now, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is the only prominent Democrat in the race to replace Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, and he took advantage of that Saturday at a Florida Democratic Party fundraising event in which he portrayed himself as a moderate who isn’t going to please everybody all the time. Murphy spent the day racing from one event to the next, speaking to Democratic caucuses for gays, women, Hispanics, African Americans and other groups. His message was that he is a moderate that believes in key Democratic principles but doesn’t always vote in lock step with the party. Read more
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