Florida Five: Record-setting hurricane season ends, Black Friday gun sales pop

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

Photo credit: Geology.com
Photo credit geology.com

Nine years and counting: Florida’s hurricane lucky streak continues – The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, which ended Sunday, extended Florida’s increasingly remarkable run: For the ninth consecutive year, the longest stretch on record, not a single hurricane struck the state. It’s the kind of lucky streak residents love and forecasters fear. Forecasters fret about growing public complacency. Because when it comes to hurricanes in Florida, calm never lasts. The longest previous respite lasted only five seasons, from 1980 to 1984. “I would love to set another record next year … but that is not realistic,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen. “This remarkable streak will come to an end, and we have to be prepared that it could happen in 2015.” Read more

Pat Bainter: The most influential man in Florida GOP politics you don’t know – It was after 2 a.m. and Democrat Buddy MacKay was beating Republican Connie Mack by roughly 10,000 votes in the 1988 campaign for Florida’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. The Ocala Star-Banner was ready to call the race. The next morning, 5,000 copies carried the front-page headline “Hey Buddy, you’re a Senator.” It was a play on “Hey Buddy, you’re a liberal,” an attack used by Mack during the campaign. The problem is Mack won after absentee ballots, which were counted last, swung the race by more than 40,000 votes. “Me and my buddies all went down to Ocala putting quarters in all the paper boxes,” said Pat Bainter, owner of Data Targeting, one of Florida’s biggest GOP political consulting firms. “We wanted as many copies [of the paper] as we could get.” Read more

Group plans to quickly renew medical marijuana push – After a narrow loss in this year’s election, the political committee behind Amendment 2 plans to quickly revive its push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Ben Pollara, campaign manager for People United for Medical Marijuana, said the group that sends email blasts supporting medical pot plans to lobby the Legislature to pass a “real” medical marijuana law in the next session. If state lawmakers — who so far have approved only the low-THC Charlotte’s Web strain — do not expand medical marijuana, then the group plans to work to put a referendum back on the ballot in 2016, when the presidential election cycle is expected to draw more young and Democratic voters who support the initiative. Pollara announced the plans in a Nov. 25 email blast to supporters. Read more

Black Friday gun sales pop – Black Friday isn’t just for buying electronics or jewelry, it’s also a day that’s busier for background checks on guns across the country, according to the FBI. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI says gun shops request an average of 40 background checks a minute across the country.  Black Friday, that numbers jumps to about 120 checks every minute. Guns and Range Training in West Palm Beach likens the day to excitement over new toys during the holiday season for a child. Owner Alex Shkop says people save up all year for the purchase of a gun. Read more

Obama’s immigration order could cost Florida taxpayers billions – Florida has the highest increase in illegal immigration of any state from 2009 to 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. By nature of avoiding detection, exact figures are hard to come by. But using community survey data, Pew’s Hispanic Trends Project estimates about 925,000 unauthorized immigrants now live in the Sunshine State, or roughly one for every 11 of the nation’s 11.2 million illegal immigrant population. President Obama’s executive order last week in which he bypassed Congress and suspended deportations to some 4 to 5 million undocumented aliens will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the state, both politically and economically. Read more

Crazy Florida headlines bonus: The 25 most Florida things to happen in 2014

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