Florida Five: Political winners and losers of the year, Shots fired at sheriff’s deputies

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

Rick Scott w Jeb Bush
Photo Credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald

Winner and loser of the year in Fla politics – We received a lot of strong nominations for winner and loser of the year in Florida politics — everyone from David Jolly, elected to Congress in a special election that most expected Alex Sink to win, to Gwen Graham, who unseated Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland despite a brutal climate for Democrats. Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her hand-picked Florida Democratic Party chairwoman, Allison Tant, could be the most logical losers of 2014 given the drubbing Democrats took. But we tend to look more forward than backward and view each year’s winners and losers more in the context of how the past year will affect politics in the coming year. So, drum roll please … Read more

Bonus: 2014 Winners and Losers 

Shots fired at Pasco Sheriff’s deputies early Sunday — Three shots were fired at two Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducting traffic enforcement early Sunday morning in the blighted Tommytown section of Dade City, authorities said. The shots were fired around 3:30 a.m. as the deputies were inside their cars in the parking lot of Northside Baptist Church, 37047 Lock St., monitoring the intersection of 21st and Lock streets, the sheriff’s office said. No one was injured and the deputies were not identified, the sheriff’s office said. Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco noted that the incident occurred after an emotional day for law enforcement officers in the Tampa Bay area, following the Saturday funeral for Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek, killed by gunfire Dec. 21. Read more

GOP puts up a bigger tent for minority challenge – The faces of the Republican Party’s most ambitious members are changing. Long criticized as the party of old white men, the GOP’s next class of presidential contenders may include two Hispanic senators, an Indian-American governor, a female business leader and an African-American neurosurgeon. In a group that could exceed a dozen Republican White House prospects, all but a few are in their 40s or 50s, while one of the oldest white men is a fluent Spanish speaker whose wife is a native Mexican. The diverse group is a point of pride for those Republicans who have long pushed for a welcoming “big tent” party. Read more

Secret redistricting documents show maps drawn to accommodate Mike Hogan – A review of formerly secret documents tied to ongoing challenges of Florida’s election redistricting process shows just how deliberate Republican operatives were when drawing the political maps. Emails sent months before the Legislature approved new maps in early 2012 show political consultants altering the boundaries on their proposed maps to accommodate Republican incumbents or potential candidates. One exchange in particular focused on an Eagle Point Drive home along the Ortega River in Jacksonville. West Palm Beach political consultant Richard Johnston sent an email Nov. 10, 2011, to Pat Bainter, the founder of a political consulting firm who fought to keep his company’s redistricting-related correspondence out of the public eye. Read more

Military’s ‘Iron Man’ armor could be a boon to Tampa – “Iron Man” is still alive and well at U.S. Special Operations Command’s headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base. The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit — TALOS for short and known as the Iron Man suit — “is absolutely a command priority” for Socom, said James “Hondo” Geurts, Socom’s top acquisition official. TALOS is a new form of body armor that is supposed to be lighter, “smarter” and offer greater protection than what commandos currently wear. The program, initiated by William McRaven when he ran Socom, is being carried forward by his successor, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, said Geurts. Read more

Bonus 2016 watch: UNF professor, author now a national source on Jeb Bush presidential speculation

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

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