There were several major stories to break out yesterday in Florida, but none bigger than the announcement that the Florida Supreme Court has approved the language in the constitutional amendment supporting medical marijuana, meaning Floridians will have their opportunity to vote up or down on the issue this November.
Although supporters cite one of the high-water poll rankings of 82 percent by Quinnipiac last fall as an indication that the measure will certainly pass if on the ballot, another poll that came out last week from Public Policy Polling showed 65 percent in support, with only 23 percent opposed.
The measure needs 60 percent to become law. While the odds are extremely high (pardon the pun) the measure would pass if it were on the ballot next week, opponents can perhaps take some solace that all is not lost in terms of fouling the airwaves and freaking people out to get below that magic number.
Impossible? Look, the people of this state have wanted medical marijuana for a long time (and new polls show outright support for legalization now). John Morgan gets the attention because he should — because this campaign always needed a Big Daddy Warbucks to finance it. It simply wasn't going to get done any other way.
Do we know who some of the groups opposed to this measure are who are willing to spend the big bucks to counter Morgan and company's arguments? Not yet, but we're still only in January. This measure doesn't come up for a vote for over nine more months. And while I think Florida is ready to join nearly half of the country in having this law, craziness and ignorance often still take the lead in this state.
The other big news yesterday was Fort Myers/Naples area GOP Congressman Trey Radel throwing in the towel on his political career (for now) by resigning from his seat. Because the district is overwhelmingly conservative, the only excitement will be between which Republicans get into a knock-down, drag-out affair. The Florida Democratic Party rather predictably sent out a heartless press release saying Radel should have quit immediately, but wouldn't the far more interesting take have been to acknowledge that Radel, like many other Americans who haven't gotten off quite so easily, had a medical problem that required treatment and care and not losing his job over? Yes, I suppose that's a radical premise, but Trey Radel is not evil because he did drugs. And until we get over the idea that he is, well, the war on drugs will continue in its absurd ways.
Now there will be two special congressional elections taking place in Florida this year well before November. The one everyone here cares about — in Pinellas County — has seven more weeks to go. And while the GOP is blasting Alex Sink for agreeing to only three debates, Sink is returning her own fire, telling CL this weekend that David Jolly's responses to specific charges about his lobbying past are simply "B.S."