Florida's Biggest Political Feuds 2011 Pt. 1

Every year it’s fun to reflect on the often irrational, and violent nature of politics here in the Sunshine State. Nestled in between Harry Potter, Mickey Mouse, and our beautiful beaches. We have Occupiers, insane public meetings, and commuter rail.

There were a lot of political battles fought Florida over the last year. But with no election year drama, the fights were often between lawmakers and activists over key issues.

This lists only includes Florida lawmakers and the criteria judged was the intensity of the events leading to the rivalry, impact in the media (both traditional and social), talk in political circles, and the general nonsense involved.

So, here we go!

10. Governor Rick Scott vs. John Mica on High Speed Rail:

Rick Scott wasn’t even done unpacking when early this year he had to make a key transportation decision. Accept 2.4 billon dollars for High Speed Rail, from Orlando to Tampa. Or play it safe by avoiding the possible liabilities involved with tax payer dollars and send a message to President Obama on government spending.

Chairman of the Transportation Committee in D.C and long time Central Florida Congressman John Mica wasn’t trying to hear that.

What we got was a back and forth dialogue between the two debating the pros and cons in the media. Scott ultimately turned down the money because the parties involved couldn’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be any additional costs involved. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood came down here about half a dozen times to ask us, if Scott was sure. He was.

Who Won? Scott and Mica: How? Rick Scott took this decision to the Tea Party and kept them on board with an early fiscal trophy and he was right about the potential issues. Problems are developing on other rail projects, in states that accepted the money. California has reported a number of setbacks.

Mica turned his attention to the Sunrail, a project that was far more popular and received strong support from all sides. Scott approved it a few months later. Ain’t compromise grand?

Mica still got Sunrail and Scott made a strong statement to kick off his term.

9. Mike Haridopolos vs. The World:

Senate Leader Mike Haridopolos would like to forget 2011. Bad book deals, session meltdowns, and talk radio fiascos were just a few of the fights Haridopolos had to worry about during his short lived Senate Campaign.

First there was the book, that’s right. One book he sold to Brevard Community College. That mentioned sage-like political advice. Like that a cellphone was necessary to run for office and that an internet connection is recommended. After the story broke he later sold electronic copies on Amazon.

Then after a late night showdown, he was out dueled in Tallahassee by House Speaker Dean Cannon and had to surrender some legislative battles to the house. They even montaged it.

Then there was this…..

Who Won?: The World: Unless you’re Scott Pilgrim this is a battle you’ll lose every time. This series of events was just too much for Haridopolos and he dropped his campaign for Senate a few weeks after. Few believe that Haridopolos’ political career is coming to a close. There has been rumors he’ll eventually be going after a Congressional seat.

Haridopolos will want to put 2011 as far behind him as possible.

8.Buddy Dyer vs. Occupy Orlando: This was a battle that Mayors of major cities all over the country had to deal with and Orlando was no different. Camped out by Lake Ivanhoe and marching down Orange ave on a nightly basis, the 99% had a strong presence in the City Beautiful.

Members of the Occupy Movement were frequent visitors to City Hall this year.

Who Won? Dyer: Orlando eventually had to start enforcing park ordinances and sent occupiers home at night. The movement still has no visible leadership. They could evolve into something else and comeback to haunt Dyer but, as long as he’s got the OPD, he’s in control.

7>Scott Randolph vs. Daphne Campbell: In what was a bizarre conflict between the two Democratic State House Reps. Randolph actually threw Daphne Campbell’s pen in the trash, when she crossed party lines on an abortion issue vote. Threats were made, demands followed and then this…

Who Won? Unclear:But, state house Democrats who are already working against a super majority of Republicans didn’t need this. It was loud, silly, and took the party’s eye off of the ball in Tallahassee. The future? Randolph sits comfortably in a left leaning district, Campbell already faces opposition and other political issues in her district down south.


Part II tomorrow!