Florida Might Be Red, But It Blushes Purple

I never thought it would be fun to be a Democrat in Florida again, but the headlines following the close of the state legislative session on Friday were pretty satisfying.

Florida Times Union (Jacksonville):

Governor, His Major Initiatives Left in Cold

This winter, Jeb Bush sent the Legislature a wish list of Medicaid reform, class-size amendment changes and school voucher expansion.

On Friday, legislators crumpled it up and threw it back…

Tallahassee Democrat:

Session Showed Gov. Bush Era Waning

Gov. Jeb Bush hopped the globe to monitor aid for tsunami victims in Asia and mourn Pope John Paul II in Vatican City, but it was a more humbling year at home.

Halfway through the next-to-last year of his second term, Bush no longer can crack a whip and get all fellow Republican lawmakers to follow…

Orlando Sentinel:

Legislators Cut Gov. Bush’s List Down to Size

Like his brother in the White House who is struggling to sell a Social Security overhaul to a reluctant Congress, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush might have reached too far during the just-completed state legislative session…

Miami Herald:

Rebuffs Reduce Gov. Bush’s Power

After a six-year reign as arguably the most powerful governor in state history, Jeb Bush met mortality last week at the hands of his fellow Republicans…

What these stories, and the session itself, showed is that a one-party system doesn’t automatically produce accord. Florida’s Republican governor couldn’t get his signature projects through the Republican State House or the Republican State Senate. And the Republican House and Senate couldn’t get many of their slam-dunks into each other’s baskets.

Why? My theory is that we have a one-party system in Florida, not because everyone thinks Republican, but because the GOP has done such a thorough job of selling the message that the only way to win here is to have the R-label. Hand in hand with that, stacking districts helped a lot too. So now a whole bunch of people who aren’t REALLY Republicans have little elephants on their lapels. And the Jebs of the world still don’t always get their way.


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