When they began crafting the Fair Districts amendments years ago, one of the goals supporters had was to create more competitive congressional districts. In at least some instances, under a draft of the map recently released by the staff of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, they might have succeeded.
The occasional chill in the air -- what passes for a chill in Tallahassee -- sent signals that 2011 was drawing to an end. But with an early session set for 2012 to deal with redistricting, lawmakers were beginning to lay the groundwork for the major proposals of the coming year.
Except, it seemed, for the redistricting debate that prompted the early starting gun.
The work in committees went slowly this week, as lawmakers discussed plenty about the budget and redistricting but took relatively few actions on the big-ticket items of the looming legislative session.
But when lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott talked, those with an interest in the matters listened. And generally talked back.
While Scott found himself squaring off with the state's higher-education establishment, one senator landed in hot water with Latinos while another got in trouble with the budget chair.
SCOTT PROFESSES COLLEGE IDEAS:
Senate mapmakers will draw legislative districts that run east to west as they carve new political boundaries for the Panhandle, members of the Senate Reapportionment Committee agreed this week.
The bipartisan consensus answers the tricky question of how to divide Northwest Florida, where rural residents from the northern part of the region feared having their votes diluted by more urbanized coastal areas. Some residents at public meetings had pushed for districts that run north to south, only to encounter pushback from rural interests.
Lenny Curry was unanimously elected chairman of the Republican Party of Florida on Friday, making him the fourth man to helm the organization in less than two years.
The 257-member Republican Executive Committee held a voice vote for Curry, who was the only candidate nominated for the chairmanship.
Curry, 41, takes over for the late David Bitner, who died earlier this month after a short battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Bitner had already announced that he intended to resign and had endorsed Curry, his vice chairman, as his successor.
Gov. Rick Scott's rough poll ratings continue to slowly improve, with his disapproval rating inching down to 50 percent and his approval rating rising to 37 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday.
A state committee tasked with selecting a date for the presidential preference primary will meet Sept. 23, setting up a potential confrontation between Florida Republicans and the national party.
Members of the committee are expected to be named beginning Friday. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said he would announce his appointments then, while a spokeswoman for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said his selections would be made "in the next few days." Gov. Rick Scott will also appoint members to the panel.
With senior-rich Florida shaping up as a critical state in the 2012 Republican primary, two of the leading candidates are battling over the future of Social Security and whether one front-runner's inflammatory comments about the program could harm the party in a general election.
At stake are the 29 electoral votes up for grabs in Florida and perhaps more in other states where retirees have flocked in recent decades. The scuffle also shows where tea-party rhetoric could collide with electoral realities in the largest of swing states.