Political Hurricane Progressive Policy Senate Scorecard Analysis

Arthenia Joyner is one of two Senators with a perfect score

The GOP has now controlled the State Senate for 18 consecutive years.In that period of time a core of moderate Republicans has emerged that has served as an effective check on the excesses of the House and Governor. But term limits has had an effect, as the state senate has gradually moved to the right, with many of the members behaving as if they were still in the House.

The collegiality of the State Senate has not yet broken down, but the three truly moderate GOP Senators based on our ratings are term limited and will not return for the 2013 session. Senators Dennis Jones (R-Treasure Island), Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland) and Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) have used decades of legislative experience to attempt to craft a non-partisan consensus on issues of concern to many Floridians over the past decade. Their path is in direct contrast to many Republicans from urbanized and more liberal areas whose voting records have been disgraceful. Senators such as Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale), Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Wellington) and three Cuban-American legislators from Miami-Dade County have repeatedly voted against the sentiments of many of their constituents. In Benacquisto’s case she is wisely moving to a more conservative west coast-based district.

We’ve also seen the gradual replacements of moderate Republicans in other areas of the state with conservatives. Senator Garret Richter is far more conservative than his predecessor  Burt Saunders, John Thrasher is more conservative than the late Jim King and Joe Negron has consistently voted more conservatively than Ken Pruitt did. One time moderates Mike Bennett and Jack Latvala have, at least based on the 2011 and 2012 sessions, moved significantly to the right of where they were at one time.  It seems inevitable that Jones, Dockery, and Fasano will be replaced by less independent and more partisan members.

Meanwhile, several Democrats have begun a rightward drift in recent years on critical issues, giving the GOP important cover to label ideological initiatives as bi-partisan. While Senator Bill Montford, who hails from a conservative big bend/panhandle district, is probably voting in line with his constituents, Senators Gary Siplin (D-Orlando), Jeremy Ring (D- Margate) and Gwen Margolis (D- North Miami Beach) are almost certainly not.

Many Democrats have chosen a path of self-preservation and advancement within a GOP controlled legislature rather than to fight for and serve their constituencies. Democratic Leader Nan Rich (D-Weston) and longtime liberal firebrand Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) are the only two Senators who voted a perfect liberal line according to our ratings over the past two sessions. That is contrasted with 15 senators, a full 38% of the current Senate, that voted a straight conservative line the past two sessions.

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23 thoughts on “Political Hurricane Progressive Policy Senate Scorecard Analysis

  1. If Joe Abruzzo walks into the Senate his voting record will be worse than Aronberg’s was.

    He will competing with Ring for biggest turncoat Democrat backed by Robert Wexler.

  2. It is unfair to target Ring. He is trying to create consensus using his business experience, and his knowledge of education.

    I am not sure Dockery is to be honored as you do here. It is as if you constantly eulogize her being term limited. Recall she tried to force high speed rail down everyone’s throats in order make money off land sales for the train. That is political corruption, yet you constantly talk about how great she is.

  3. The average Dem rating is 78%. That is MUCH lower than the average Dem rating by similar services for Congress and I suspect much lower than your House ratings will show. So our members are really not very loyal and are giving the Republicans way too much opportunity to call right wing initiatives bi-partisan.

  4. i would argue that ring & margolis r more effective for the people they represent than rich, joyner and smith…the rs control the pricess and it is built on relationships… winning praise on lefty sites like this means zilch when u cannot deliver for constituents … why do lefty ds always wants to score points with kos, msnbc and websites like this by making losing arguments rather than forging consensus … btw, i am a dem but a practical one.

  5. Sometimes moderation is needed to actually get help for your constituents. You have no idea how to govern.

  6. These ratings are to gauge where people are ideologically. These aren’t ratings on “governing.” Besides the Democrats in a seemingly permanent minority state in the legislature aren’t needed to govern. We need to have a real opposition party. Democracy depends on a debate and exchange of ideas and policy, not conformity with the wishes of the majority.

  7. I happen to support high speed rail and think it was exceedingly shortsighted by Governor Bush and the leadership of Palm Beach County to kill the project. For me personally, in a role as communications director for a professional soccer league that has its HQ in Miami but teams in Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa and a team in another division below us in Orlando, and several teams in the division below that in the state (Orlando, Bradenton, Fort Lauderdale, Ocala, etc) it would make my employer based in Florida more efficient and cost effective. It would stimulate the economy. Have you ever driven I-4 between Tampa and Orlando on a weekday? Our infrastructure is getting run down throughout this country and the inability to move people quickly, efficiently and without burning too much fuel/energy is crippling our economy. I understand Palm Beach County politicians were unhappy the proposed train would go from Miami to Fort Lauderdale to Polk County with forks to Tampa and Orlando and not stop in Palm Beach. But they were not foresighted in seeing its overall benefit for the state and our three major metropolitan areas.

  8. I think being an opposition party means crafting the debate. Making deals constantly only makes the majority permanent.

  9. Your analysis while spot on from a left wing moveon.org type perspective is way off from a Democratic perspective. We need leaders who can take back this state in the very tradition you have previously written about. Do you honestly think we can win statewide with some of the people you praise? Do you really believe Nan Rich is a viable statewide candidate? Jeremy Ring is the perfect profile to run statewide. Independently weathly, smart, business savvy, moderate enough to win upstate, but Jewish and community oriented enough to hold Palm Beach and Broward. He will be very strong statewide.

    Also I believe we should replace bad potential candidates with good ones. It is a pity we lost Aronberg, but if we get Abruzzo and Saunders in, we will be much stronger in the senate.

  10. Nan can’t win. Ring and Abruzzo are awful. They are buying their way and the voters know better. Go look at their records. You need a Bill Nelson type. Ring is dislikes in the Jewish community.
    Abruzzo is dumb. He has not done any good policy and he is dumb.

  11. I think it is most important the Democrats define a message statewide that is in direct contrast to that of the GOP on a number of key issues. I’m not sure that is dine by cutting deals.

  12. Leave the governing to the majority except on issues where they ready out across the aisle to craft consensus. They are responsible for governing. We need to give Florida voters a real choice by focusing on policy alternatives and creating a real public debate on the issues that matter most to Floridians.

  13. Abruzzo is not a rock star. He can’t speak for the Dems, can’t vote and simply is a rich kid buying his way. He is a kid who is in over his head.

  14. I agree. I hope you are wrong but tend to think he will be a typical Senate Democrat, voting with the GOP half the time on critical votes.

  15. So rude!

    So so rude and uncalled for.

    A lot of elected officials are rich. But Abruzzo unlike most of them has actually compiled a pro consumer and pro labor record.

    He is backed by the trial lawyers and unions.

    So much for your argument that he is a bad Democrat. Try attacking someone really conservative for a change.

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