Florida Five: Fla. resident Ben Carson running for president, Rubio’s Senate seat in play

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

Ben Carson announcement
Dr. Ben Carson

Exclusive: Ben Carson announces run for president – The Republican field of candidates continues to widen. Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson is expected to make a major announcement at an event Monday in his hometown of Detroit. But in an exclusive interview [Sunday], Dr. Carson tells our National Correspondent Jeff Barnd he is in the race for the White House in 2016. “I’m willing to be part of the equation and therefore, I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States of America.” With that, Dr. Ben Carson is off and running. (Video) Read more

Rubio’s departure to put Florida Senate seat in play – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s decision to run for president rather than seek re-election has put his Republican seat at risk, setting off a scramble in the GOP to recruit candidates and likely forcing the party to pump millions of dollars more into what promises to be a costly, high-profile race. Retaining the seat is crucial if the GOP hopes to keep control of the Senate in 2016. Though the party holds a 54-to-46 advantage over Democrats, it must defend 24 seats next year—seven in states that President Barack Obama won twice, including Florida—while Democrats only need to safeguard 10. Read more

PolitiFact Florida: Running the numbers on Medicaid expansion – Even before the Florida House adjourned early, Speaker Steve Crisafulli laid blame for the session’s budget impasse clearly on Medicaid expansion. In an op-ed printed in the Tampa Bay Times, Crisafulli wrote that the Senate had “partnered with the Obama administration” to demand the expansion. But the House believed the move would drag people into a costly system that didn’t work. Read more

Gauging the political fallout from Tallahassee gridlock: Will it matter? — The Florida House quit early. Senate Democrats sued. The state still has no budget, and no one has figured out a compromise on how to pay for health care. But last week’s legislative meltdown in Tallahassee, dramatic and dysfunctional as it was, doesn’t appear to threaten the political future of Republicans who control both chambers of state government — or of anyone else in their party running for office in 2016. Read more

This year’s volatile legislative session ranks near bottom in number of bills passed – As a contentious legislative session came to an end last week, this year’s 60-day meeting of lawmakers officially ranked near the bottom among those over the past 15 years with the least amount of bills passed. Longtime capital politicos point to tensions between the House and Senate over health care funding as one of the reasons few bills, particularly big ticket items, made it to the governor’s desk this year.  Read more

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