It's not exactly a news flash to state that the ridesharing service Uber has been embraced by lots of free-market Republicans who say that the innovative service is exactly what Florida (and America) needs more of. Local state lawmakers Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant have championed the San Francisco-based mega-company's entry into the Tampa-area market, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio showed his love by visiting the company's D.C.-based headquarters in the spring.
And at times it has been some old-school Democrats who have seemingly blocked Uber's path. Not exclusively, of course, but if you'll recall when Grant and Brandes tried to push a bill that would have killed Hillsborough County's unpopular Public Transportation Commission last December, it was local Democrats like Arthenia Joyner who led the way to block that from passing in the Hillsborough legislative delegation. (Of course, that didn't deter Brandes and Grant a bit, as the two pushed their bill in the session anyway.)
This is on my mind because I (and millions of others) received an email yesterday from Katie Walsh, RNC Finance Director, with the subject title, "Our cities need Uber." In her letter she writes about how "government officials are trying to block Uber from providing services simply because it’s cutting into the taxi unions' profits. In many cases, they’ve even gone so far as to threaten Uber with legal action," adding that "We don’t need the intrusive government implementing any more strangling regulations, limiting consumer choices or interfering in the free market."
Powerful stuff, though it should be acknowledged that Grant and Brandes' pro-Uber bills in the Legislature were killed by fellow Republicans.
There's a link in the RNC email to sign a petition to "show your support for Uber," on a gop.com website, which no doubt is collecting those email addresses (there's also a helpful green box at the top to donate to the GOP). But while Democrats control most of the cities whose local governments have issues with Uber, there are plenty of Democrats who want to be shown as supporting them as well.
Yesterday in Virginia, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that his state had reached a temporary deal to allow Uber and Lyft to continue operating. And here in Tampa, Bob Buckhorn has been a champion of both Uber and Lyft, sometimes to the consternation of PTC head Kyle Cockream.
But Uber and Lyft are considered cool, especially with young people and young voters. And that's a demographic that the GOP needs considerable work with. So expect this marriage to only grow stronger — at least on the GOP's side.
In other news…
The NRDC Action Fund is targeting lawmakers who they believe have it all wrong when it comes to climate change. On their list yesterday was none other than our own Marco Rubio.
The Charlie Crist camp was feeling good about themselves, having raised a record (for a Florida Democrat) of $3.5 million in July. Then the combined forces supporting Rick Scott announced their totals.
Pinellas County Republican County Commission opponents Norm Roche and Ed Hooper squared off on Tuesday, and at the same candidates forum, Kent Curtis was the most impassioned of the school board choices.