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Fresh Squeezed

A Florida Politics Blog

Made fresh, never frozen, here's the juice on local and state politics from the staff of The Tampa Tribune and The St. Petersburg Tribune.

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Brandes gets top score from Koch group

TALLAHASSEE – Jeff Brandes, the Republican senator from St. Petersburg known for championing free market ideals and emerging technologies, received the highest score this year on Americans for Prosperity’s Economic Freedom Scorecard.

The Florida Chapter of AFP released the results of its analysis Tuesday, ranking Florida’s 40 state senators and 120 representatives based on 4,300 votes on 59 key economic policy issues during the 2016 legislative session.

Brandes received the highest score, 114.3 percent, earning him the “Champion of Economic Freedom” title that 35 other lawmakers received, all Republican. It’s the third A-plus Brandes has gotten in four years, said Andres Malave, communications director for the non-profit conservative group founded by the Koch brothers.

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Lawyer, child advocate runs for State Senate

TALLAHASSEE -- Pledging to donate his legislative salary to the Tampa YMCA, lawyer¬ and childhood education advocate Bob Buesing has announced his candidacy for the new Senate District 18 seat that emerged from last year’s redistricting lawsuit.

In a news release, Buesing said there were “too many entrenched career politicians more interested in attaining and moving on to the next stepping stone in their political careers rather than working to improve the lives of their constituents.”

He’s the first Democrat to announce against Rep. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican who has served a similarly aligned House seat for six years.

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Holder knew, early, about Fast and Furious ... but do we care?

Remember the old adage, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up”? Yeah, well, that one might have outlived its usefulness — if it was ever useful in the first place.

The notion gained currency in the early 1970s as a result of clumsy efforts to obfuscate connections to the White House, turning a “third-rate burglary” at the Watergate into a scandal that brought down a president. As it turns out, maybe it wasn’t the cover-up that was so bad; maybe it was the ineptitude of Richard Nixon’s merry henchmen.

When it came to riding out scandals, Bill Clinton’s administration was far tougher, far more skillful and light-years more brazen, possibly because of knowledge gained by a prominent member — then-first lady Hillary Clinton — during her time serving on the staff of the congressional committee investigating Watergate. Deny, divert and delay were honed to a science in the Clinton war room.

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Governor, Cabinet consider buying historic Pasco ranch

TALLAHASSEE – One of the oldest ranches in Pasco County could be bought for conservation purposes Tuesday.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will consider a proposal to buy 617 of the 632 acres that make up the Phillips-Mathis Ranch as a conservation easement to protect it from encroaching residential development but still allow cattle ranching.

The $6 million cost would be split evenly between the state and Pasco County.

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Simpson qualifies by petition, welcomes Citrus voters

TALLAHASSEE -- Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, has successfully qualified by petition to run for the recently created District 10 Senate seat.

The new district is made up of a third of Pasco County and all of Hernando County, areas that overlap with the old District 18 seat Simpson was first elected to in 2012.

But it also includes all of Citrus County, and Simpson made a conscientious effort to reach out to voters there once he registered to run days after the new map of all 40 senate districts was adopted by Leon Circuit Judge George Reynolds in December.

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