Florida Five: Gov. Scott’s new chief of staff?, Fla. could lose swing state status

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

Rick Scott wins
Photo credit: Scott McIntyre/Staff NaplesNews.com

Gov. Rick Scott may reward campaign manager with chief of staff job – One week after clinching a new term, Gov. Rick Scott shifted his focus to the future Tuesday, promising more money for schools and more tax cuts and making plans to hire a new chief of staff. Scott’s favorite for the most powerful post in his second administration appears to be Melissa Sellers, a native Texan who tightly ran his re-election campaign and whose loyalty seems to have won Scott’s trust. “She did a very good job on the campaign,” Scott told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. Asked what Sellers’ next job will be, Scott said: “I don’t know.” Read more

Jacksonville’s Rep. Mia Jones set to return as House Democratic Leader Pro Tempore – Jacksonville Rep. Mia Jones has been tapped for a second term as the House Democratic leader pro tempore. Democratic-Leader Mark Pafford emphasized Jones’ expertise on health care and her knowledge as a lawmaker when announcing her as part of his leadership team. “Her commitment to improve the health of every Floridian, especially its youngest people, is a credit to Mia and a huge benefit to Democrats in the House of Representatives,” said Pafford. “All of us are lucky she’ll be back as leader pro tem.” Read more

Florida’s Gwen Graham pledges bipartisan attitude – Rep.-elect Gwen Graham arrived on Capitol Hill for freshman orientation on Wednesday and immediately began seeking out her soon-to-be congressional compatriots. Fresh off her dramatic victory in last week’s election, the Florida Democrat said she’s not just intent on learning the rules of the House but also on forging friendships with other incoming lawmakers to start “building the relationships that need to be rebuilt.” Graham, formerly chief negotiator for the Leon County school system, campaigned on a promise to pursue a bipartisan agenda and carve out a reputation reminiscent of her father, former three-term Democratic senator Bob Graham, a popular moderate who also served as Florida’s governor. Read more

Will Florida Ever Be a Battleground Again? – Florida has been the swingiest of swing states for multiple cycles—notably in 2000, when it was the ultimate electoral battleground. Democrats won the state in 2012 by a razor-thin 0.9 percentage point margin. And in this year’s gubernatorial race, incumbent Republican Rick Scott narrowly edged out former Democratic governor Charlie Crist. But while electorally the state has bounced back and forth, the demographic line is much straighter and less ambiguous—which could mean that Florida will swing less and less in national elections. The state is inexorably becoming more diverse, with growing populations of blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and fewer and fewer of the aging whites who’ve buoyed Republican prospects in years past.  If each racial and ethnic group votes the same way and turns out at the same rate as they did in 2012, according to a simulation by Patrick Oakford of the Center for American Progress, the Democrats’ margin would expand to 3.4 percent. Read more

Report: Florida’s business tax climate 5th best in the country but TaxWatch says there’s a need for reforms – A new national report ranks Florida’s business tax climate as fifth best in the nation, but it doesn’t reflect the whole picture of the state’s tax system, according to Florida TaxWatch.”In a couple areas, it overstates the quality of Florida’s tax structure,” Kurt Wenner, vice president of Tax Research for Florida TaxWatch, said. Florida’s ranking was published in the 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index, an annual report that analyzes how tax structures compare across states. Florida’s high ranking is largely due to its not having a personal income tax, the most heavily weighted tax in the Index, according to TaxWatch, a nonprofit tax research group supported by many of the state’s largest businesses. Read more

Bonus for political junkies: Is this the political map of the future?

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page

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