Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

Democrats take on Donald Trump’s record as businessman

Democrats at their national convention are going after Donald Trump‘s business record.

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is questioning where the Republican presidential nominee’s products were made.

Here’s what Casey says: “Dress shirts – Bangladesh. Furniture – Turkey. Picture frames – India. Wine glasses – Slovenia. Neck ties – China.”

He adds, “Why would Donald Trump make his products in every corner of the globe but not in Altoona, Erie or here in Philadelphia?”

And Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York recalls Trump’s comments about U.S. wages being too high.

She says Democrat Hillary Clinton “knows that in the richest country in the world, it’s unacceptable that a mom with two kids working full time still lives in poverty.”

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Al Gore tweets endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Former Vice President Al Gore is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but he says he is “not able” to attend the Democratic National Convention this week.

In a trio of tweets Monday, Gore said that he’s voting for Clinton “given her qualifications and experience — and given the significant challenges facing our nation and the world.” He did not tweet his reason for not attending the nominating convention.

Gore, an outspoken activist on the issue of global warming, specifically said that Clinton would help to raise awareness on the issue.

Gore was the Democratic nominee for president in 2000, but he lost the general election in a highly contentious race against George W. Bush.

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15 picks that stand out among the Florida Realtors’ 2016 legislative endorsements

On Friday, the Florida Realtors PAC made its endorsement for the 2016 election cycle.

There are more than 400 candidates who have qualified to run for the 160 seats in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. According to a release from the organization, candidates were evaluated on numerous factors, including their voting record on issues that are relevant to the real estate profession.

Among these issues, says Bill Furst, chair of the Florida Realtors PAC Trustees, is how to make “Florida a fair regulatory and low tax state that helps create and maintain a vibrant state economy and strong real estate market.”

Most of the Realtors’ endorsement are in line with those of other pro-growth organizations, such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries.

Here are some of the Realtors’ recommendations which stand out.

— In the ultra-competitive race for SD 1, the Realtors are backing Doug Broxson over Mike Hill, both of whom are currently serving in the Florida House.

— It’s shocking to see the Realtors backing Dean Asher in SD 13 (just kidding, we all know Asher is a top priority for the profession).

— The Realtors are weighing in in one tough Senate primary and staying out of another: They’re staying out of SD 23, but they’re backing Matt Hudson over Kathleen Passidomo in SD 28.

— The Realtors are rallying behind Jeff Clemens in SD 31, where Irv Slosberg is also running.

— The Realtors endorsed Mel Ponder over Wayne Harris and Jonathan Tallman in the competitive Republican primary for HD 4. Neither AIF nor the Chamber endorsed in this race, so winning the Realtors’ backing may be one way for Ponder to separate himself from the field.

— Like AIF, the Realtors are backing Democratic incumbent Loranne Ausley in HD 9.

— There are a slew of open seats up for grabs in northeast Florida. In HDs 11-14, there are a slew of candidates running. Some organizations are taking a wait-and-see approach before endorsing in these races. Not the Realtors PAC. It’s making bets on Cord Byrd in HD 11, Clay Yarborough in HD 12 and Terry Fields in HD 14.

— The Realtors PAC likes former Florida GOP Chairwoman Leslie Dougher over Katherine Van Zant, wife of incumbent Charles Van Zant, in HD 19.

— The Realtors are also playing in HD 21, another wide-open seat. They like Wenda Lewis over Chuck Clemmons and four other candidates in this seat.

— One of the most competitive races is in HD 41 where Sam Killebrew is facing off against Charles Davis in the GOP primary. Killebrew earlier won AIF’s endorsement. He now has the Realtors.

— In one of the few open Democratic primaries, the Realtors have endorsed Alex Barrio over Amy Mercado.

— Rebecca Smith is the Realtors preferred choice in the battleground seat of HD 60.

— Democrats Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn appear to be trading endorsement blows with each other in the race for HD 68. The Realtors are backing Lynn.

— In the four-way Democratic primary for HD 87, the Realtors are backing David Silvers.

— The Realtors are backing Kelly Skidmore over Emily Slosberg in HD 91.

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Questions linger over Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh’s 1988 alleged retail theft

As Orange County Property Appraiser, Rick Singh has amassed what could be considered a notable resume.

For example, he was the first ever state-certified appraiser elected to the county position, having brought what the appraiser’s website calls nearly 20 years of “hands-on experience” to the post.

What does not appear anywhere on Singh’s bio is something a little less impressive: a disputed arrest in 1988 at the Zayre Department Store at 145 State Road 436 in Fern Park.

Singh, who was 25 at the time, had been briefly detained for allegedly trying to return a computer he didn’t purchase.

Although Singh insists the decades-old episode was nothing more than a mix-up, some believe he was technically under arrest for the crime of retail theft.

And while the unpleasant incident, misunderstanding or otherwise, did not prevent Singh from having a career in the Orange County Property Appraiser’s office, the situation gets complicated when Singh, born Paramand Singh in August 1962, sought to change his first name legally in 2010.

That request is what could prove troublesome for Rick Singh.

On the official name change request, dated Nov. 18, 2010, Singh checked that he had “never been arrested for or charged with, [pleaded] guilty or nolo contendere to, or been found to have committed a criminal offense, regardless of adjudication.”

Whether that statement is strictly true — or, at worst, possible perjury — is the source of debate.

According to a form dated June 22, 1988 — titled Arrest/Notice to Appear — and signed by Seminole County Sheriff Deputy N. Fowler, Zayre security officer Chuck Brott said that Singh entered the department store at about 1 p.m. and began acting suspiciously. This concern led Brott to start observing the young man through a two-way mirror.

Brott saw Singh remove a Commodore 64 C computer from the store shelf and bring it to the service desk. The narrative describes Singh next appearing to fill out, sign and return a store credit receipt.

It was then Brott intervened, identifying himself as a security officer, accusing Singh of seeking to return the item by claiming the computer was his, even though he had no receipt.

Brott escorted Singh to the security office, giving him the legal Miranda warnings.

Singh chose to waive his constitutional rights, explaining he was merely going to ask a question about the computer. The store model — similar to a computer Singh said he already owned — was so to “make it easier on the employee.”

After he had brought the computer to the service desk, Singh said the employee, listed as a Mr. Williams, automatically began filling out the slip of paper, handing it to him without question.

When interviewed by Brott, Williams said Singh asked to return the merchandise and was told he couldn’t receive cash for the computer, but only store credit. The report concludes with Brott telling Singh that Zayre’s had intended to prosecute. The charge listed on the report is “retail theft.”

Twenty-eight years later, Singh continues to dispute he was arrested.

“This is not true,” Singh told FloridaPolitics.com reporter Scott Powers in a July 18 interview. “I was not arrested. I was not taken into custody. There is no judgment on this.”

The situation was nothing more than a misinterpretation, he added.

“I took a computer back to the store,” he added. “They were actually working on my computer.”

When shown a copy of the report from 1988, with the header “Arrest/Notice to Appear,” Singh replied he “had no idea.” Singh then argued it was he who suggested bringing in the Sheriff’s Office to resolve the complaint.

“This was not an arrest. An arrest is when you are seized and taken into custody,” Singh said. “I feel I was profiled.”

As for why the report just recently came to light, Singh said it was because of the political “silly season.” Singh is currently running for re-election, facing Republican Edward DeAguilera and write-in candidate Christopher Casler.

A few details seem to support Singh’s argument. Is a “Notice to Appear” different from an arrest? Did Singh get an arrest or a notice to appear? Did he know if there is a difference?

Also, much of the report was left blank — date, location and time of arrest, and booking. The deputy’s narrative description of what happened does not include language indicating Singh was arrested, though it did explicitly say he was read Miranda rights — a constitutional requirement for those under arrest.

Todd Brown, Chief Investigator for the State Attorney’s Office for the 18th Judicial Circuit (Seminole and Brevard counties), says even a “notice to appear” is legally considered an arrest.

Notices to appear are given instead of formal arrests, Brown told FloridaPolitics.com earlier this month. They do not need to include bookings or any other unpleasantries.

Often, Brown said, they are given for misdemeanor offenses in which there is no reason to believe a suspect would not appear. He added that it would not be surprising if most people who receive a notice to appear — as in Singh’s case — mistakenly believe they have NOT been arrested.

That these notices are technically arrests, Brown suggested, is something that only law enforcement and officers of the court are aware; it not necessarily apparent to a layperson.

Brown later said he could find no records in the 18th Judicial Circuit relating to the incident of July 22, 1988. One possible explanation is that the incident occurred before the court began digitizing records, making the records so old that if there were any other proceedings by the State Attorney.

They probably would be in the paper archives, Brown said.

While all this could just amount to a 28-year-old incident of alleged shoplifting, one in which Singh contends he did nothing wrong — and, for the record, no charges were ever filed — available information seems to suggest another explanation. The circumstances could also be interpreted — at least by some — as Singh being under “arrest,” even though it was a technicality.

Nevertheless, Singh continues to maintain vigorously he was not arrested, and official (pre-digital) records also appear to bear this out.

In Singh’s case, however, the question of whether he was arrested is not academic, particularly in light of his signed affidavit for a name change.

It could be much more severe.

Florida Statutes define perjury as “whoever makes a false statement, which he or she does not believe to be true, under oath in an official proceeding in regard to any material matter.” Under Florida law, it is a third-degree felony.

If Singh had no reason to believe he had been arrested, he likely had not committed perjury by stating that he had not been arrested; the statute requires him to make no statement “which he does not believe to be true.”

Singh certainly may not have been arrested. On the other hand, ask anyone who has been detained (or otherwise held) by the authorities for any number of youthful indiscretions — shoplifting, rowdiness, underage drinking and the like. They may not have been under arrest, per se, but it certainly felt as if they were.

The argument here is whether it is reasonable that Singh thought he was not “under arrest” in these circumstances.

In the end, this could all be just a giant misunderstanding. But one thing is sure: Singh’s brief run-in with the law — along with his name change — raises more questions than it answers.
Rick Singh documents_Page_4Rick Singh documents_Page_5Rick Singh documents_Page_1Rick Singh documents_Page_2Rick Singh documents_Page_3

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Florida Virtual School entrepreneur Ed Mansouri to focus on new WeatherSTEM tech project

Entrepreneur Ed Mansouri
Entrepreneur Ed Mansouri

Ed Mansouri, the nationally renowned software pioneer who developed the cutting-edge learning management system used by the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) since 2003, will be transitioning away at the end of this year, after a proud partnership with FLVS, to focus his efforts more fully on his equally impressive new WeatherSTEM educational technology.

Mansouri will continue working closely with FLVS leadership to position the online institution for ongoing success with its new learning management system partner.

Weather data-gathering units installed all over the state by Mansouri’s organization inform the WeatherSTEM website and mobile application to provide real-time, localized temperature, humidity and lightning measurements.

Mansouri and his team also have been developing curriculum for Florida’s K-12 students in the topical domains of weather and agriculture, with the content driven by live data from weather stations placed at local schools. His vision and generosity translated to donating and installing a WeatherSTEM unit in at least one school in each of Florida’s 67 counties, as requests from other schools, emergency operations centers, farms and universities keep rolling in.

“Ed’s dedication to measurably helping Florida’s students and educators is evidenced by his donation of so many state-of-the-art weather stations and accompanying data to schools across our state,” said Michael Olenick, a member of the State Board of Education and former member of the board of trustees of the Florida Virtual School. “His technology is unmatched and offers unique and superior opportunities for students, and also for safety officers, groundskeepers and coaches. The model he has created with WeatherSTEM is a stellar example of a positive public-private partnership, and I’m excited about the already great response from the schools, universities and other organizations who understand its potential and value.”

Mansouri will focus the same science/technological mastery and ingenuity that he applied toward the Ucompass Educator platform to now bring WeatherSTEM to classrooms, emergency operations centers, agriculture businesses and beyond.

“In any conversation with Ed, you quickly realize you are in the presence of someone whose considerable talents define real brilliance and whose creative genius powers the breakthroughs that make him a bold and fearless pioneer in new frontiers of learning,” said Ron Sachs, a good friend of Mansouri. “Ed’s WeatherSTEM project features impressive cool technology and learning-as-fun curriculum tools that will teach a new generation of Florida students how to open up new horizons in their knowledge base — and enhance their own careers, and the lives of us all, in the near future.”

The ever-humble Mansouri reflects unbridled enthusiasm for WeatherSTEM and what its effectiveness and success can mean for Florida and the nation.

“The goal for WeatherSTEM is to promote awareness and understanding among young people about the impact of weather on their daily lives and to advance meteorological education,” said Mansouri. “I’m excited about having the time and opportunity to put more of my energy and resources into WeatherSTEM because the weather and data skills these students acquire today will enable them to advance their careers and interests in any field in the future.”

Mansouri’s lifelong passion has been meteorology. He graduated from Penn State University with a major course of study in both engineering and meteorology and completed his master’s degree in meteorology at Florida State University.

This fall, he will be returning to FSU to pursue a Ph.D. in meteorology and help conduct groundbreaking research in predictive lightning studies, which could be the breakthrough to save lives and learn from one of nature’s most potent energy forces.

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Sunburn for 7.25.16 – From the Democratic National Convention to Comic-Con

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

HILLARY CLINTON SAYS VP PICK TIM KAINE IS EVERYTHING GOP TICKET ISN’T

Hillary Clinton debuted running mate Sen. Tim Kaine on Saturday as a can-do progressive committed to social justice and equality — “everything Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not” — at a boisterous rally ahead of next week’s Democratic National Convention.

“He is qualified to step into this job and lead from Day One. And he is a progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton declared at Florida International University.

Kaine, a bilingual former Virginia governor, detailed his life in public service. “I like to fight for right,” he said.

kaine gif1

And, as Clinton smiled broadly at her choice for vice president, Kaine greeted the largely Hispanic audience in Spanish. “We’re going to be ‘compañeros de alma,’ in this great ‘lucha’ ahead,” he said, or “soul mates in this great fight ahead.”

Trump, in a text to his own supporters, said President Barack Obama, Clinton and Kaine were “the ultimate insiders” and implored voters to not “let Obama have a 3rd term.”

At the splashy rally, Democrats sought to offer a contrast with Trump and Pence, whose first appearance together in a New York City hotel ballroom included a lengthy speech by the GOP businessman and much more limited remarks from Pence, the Indiana governor. The two only briefly posed for photos at their campaign kickoff.

Clinton chose to introduce Kaine as her running mate in the battleground state of Florida, waving to the large crowd of cheering supporters as they bounded on stage with their hands raised in the traditional sign of unity. Clinton sought to present the partnership as one built in optimism, panning the Republican convention, which ended two days earlier, as a display of “fear,” ”anger and resentment.”

She noted that Kaine had taken a year off from Harvard Law School to do missionary work in Honduras and had worked as a civil rights attorney specializing in equal housing. Clinton said Kaine as governor worked with Republicans and helped his home state navigate the Great Recession without sacrificing funding for education.

She also pointed to his work on gun control after the deadly Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, praising his efforts to curb gun violence before a nation still reeling from a series of shootings and violence against police.

“Behind that smile Tim also has a backbone of steel. Just ask the NRA,” Clinton said.

Choking up, Kaine described the Virginia Tech shooting as the “worst day … of my life.”

Kaine, 58, was long viewed as a likely choice because of his resume in government and his time as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He also had a particularly powerful backer in Obama, whom Kaine endorsed in 2007. Obama considered him for vice president a year later.

KAINE EMAIL TROVE SHOWS MEDIA SAVVY MICROMANAGER via Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO – Hundreds of thousands of emails from his days as governor … show Kaine is no Joe Biden: He’s a media-savvy executive who avoids gaffes by discussing tricky topics with his staff before he speaks with reporters. He pays attention to even the smallest of detail – making his own spreadsheets, editing his online biography – and he doesn’t hesitate to throw around his connections with Obama … He has a mastery of the behind-the-scenes tasks necessary to govern. And he’s proven capable of winning multiple elections in the battleground of Virginia, as well as across the other 49 states after a stint as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during Obama’s first term.

TWEETS:

@AlCardenasFL_DC: I like Tim Kaine, therefore I disliked HRCs selection. I don’t want her to win

@JeffFlake: Trying to count the ways I hate @timkaine. Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend.

@RichLowry: Kaine has the affect of an earnest suburban dad

KAINE BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE IN MIAMI via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – When it was finally Kaine’s turn to speak, he began humbly and concentrated his praise on Clinton, only pivoting to praise for himself later. “I’m feeling a lot of things today. Most of all gratitude. I’m grateful to you Hillary, for the trust you placed in me,” Kaine said, Clinton nodding approvingly behind him. “Today like every day I’m especially grateful to my wife Ann and my three kids.”
kaine2
His extended speech — which thanked Clinton, introduced himself, and railed against Trump — stole the show, bringing the crowd to its feet at times and in solemn silence at others. He thanked naturalized citizens — a significant population in Miami — for being there, and spoke of his time as governor during the Virginia Tech shooting. … Kaine openly acknowledged his relative anonymity even in his own party. “Let’s be honest, for many of you this is the first time you’ve heard my name,” Kaine said.

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IT’S THE DEMOCRATS TURN AS DNC KICKS-OFF IN PHILLY

Democrats head to Philadelphia this week to formally select Clinton as their party’s nominee during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Here’s what you need to know before the first speaker hits the stage.

City of Brotherly Love: The Democratic National Convention runs from Monday through Thursday, July 28. The convention takes place at the Wells Fargo Center, the home of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers. The city knows a thing or two about hosting a convention; 2016 marks the 12th time Philadelphia has played host. And don’t forget the 1787 Constitutional Convention, where the U.S. Constitution was born.

Tune in: Want to watch all the action? C-SPAN will air the entire convention on both television and streaming. The networks will carry the event in primetime, and expect full-team coverage on cable news networks. You can also find it streaming on the web at www.demconvention.com or using the DNCC mobile app. When you should tune in depends on the day. The festivities start at 4 p.m. on Monday and at 4 p.m. on TuesdayOn Wednesday, the convention will gavel in at 4:30 p.m.; while it is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Presidents take the stage: Former President Clinton is set to take the stage on Tuesday night. His speech at the 2012 convention lasted more than 48 minutes, and he was dubbed the explainer-in-chief after he defended President Obama’s record. Will that moniker stick this time around? Or will the former president pass the torch to Obama, who is scheduled to speak on Wednesday. President Jimmy Carter is not expected to attend the convention, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported he will address the convention by video.

More speakers: If past and present occupants of the Oval Office aren’t enough for you, don’t worry. They aren’t the only big names on the schedule during the week-long convention. Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle ObamaChelsea Clinton, and Sens. Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown are set to take the stage. And Florida will be well represented when Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum takes the stage.

Why watch: After a week of pounding by the Republicans, it’s time to see how the Democrats punch back. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are two of the fiercest critics of Trump, so expect fiery speeches to rally progressives and take swing at Republicans. The convention is expected to be considerably more upbeat than the doom and gloom served up by the GOP last week.  It’s also a convention for the history books — quite literally. This election marks the first time a major party has chosen a woman as its presidential nominee.

BERNIE SANDERS TO SPEAK OPENING NIGHT via Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman of POLITICO – Sanders will give an opening-night address Monday at the convention. Per his campaign: “Sanders will stress that the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history includes agreements he reached with Clinton to dramatically expand health care access and to make public colleges tuition-free for students from families with annual incomes up to $125,000 a year … Sanders also plans to rip into Trump for siding with the Koch brothers and echoing fossil fuel industry claims that climate change is a hoax despite the virtually-unanimous scientific consensus that the warming planet is causing devastating harm. … Sanders also will send a message to the convention and to the 13 million voters who supported him that they have begun a political revolution to transform America and that the revolution – Our Revolution – continues. ‘Together,’ he will say, ‘we continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.'”

— “Michael Bloomberg to endorse Clinton during Wednesday night speech” via the New York Times

EXTREME HEAT EXPECTED FOR DNC via CBS News – The heat wave is expected to gain momentum this weekend and peak Monday, the convention’s first day, with temperatures possibly hitting 100 degrees, said Mitchell Gaines, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

AS CONVENTION LOOMS, SPLIT FLORIDA DEMOCRATS SEEK PEACE via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Some Florida delegates for Clinton and Sanders are still warily eyeing each other as they head to the Democratic National Convention … “I hope we will be unified,” said Sanders delegate Ricky Ly, 31. “But you never know. There are a lot of folks on our side still trying to make peace with the end.” Some Clinton supporters worry about the level of support for Clinton, while Sanders backers are concerned about how strongly Clinton will fight for their issues. “The big question is, where are the Sanders voters going to go?” said Lance deHaven-Smith, a public administration professor at Florida State University who closely follows state politics … For Orange County Democratic Chair Juan Perez, the four-day convention is about “unity, 100 percent … I think the Republican Party is absolutely fractured [with] Trump at the top of the ticket,” said Lopez, who is not a delegate but will attend the convention. “I know in the past, there were ‘Bernie or Bust’ folks, but I think a lot of that stuff has gone away. It doesn’t even exist in Democratic circles.”

HAPPENING TODAY — GWEN GRAHAM, DWS ADDRESS FLA. DELEGATION — Former Sen. Bob Graham, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, and state Rep. Stacey Abrams of Georgia will address the Florida delegation breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The convention starts at 4 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

AN EXCLUSIVE INSIDER’S PREVIEW OF THE DNC via Ben Pollara of LSN Partners

If you’re reading this in the wee hours of the morning when Peter generally delivers Sunurn to our inboxes, I’m likely on my way to MIA for a 7:25 am American flight to PHL. It’s the first day of #DNCC2016, but my partner at LSN Partners, Alex Heckler, and I have been convention planning for weeks (Alex flew up yesterday on a client’s  plane). To be fair, most of the planning has actually been done by Erin Hendrix, a longtime colleague at LSN who is far more organized than either of us, and likewise helped organized our trip to Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic Convention.

This is my third convention and it’s my third going with Heckler. He has been to every convention since 1996. It’s my first documenting the proceedings for the readers of Sunburn and FloridaPolitics.com. What I hope to accomplish in that respect is to give Peter’s loyal readership an appropriately insider-y mis en scene of what it’s like to be at one of these partisan circuses for 96 hours. In 2008, the WSJ followed around Heckler and uber Clinton fundraiser, Chris Korge (with cameos from yours truly, and then Vice-Mayor, now Representative, Jared Moskowitz).

This will be kind of like that. But better.

If you’re looking for political analysis, turn on cable. If this is anything like DNCC’s past, I’ll only see or pay attention to the last 2-3 big speeches every night.

Every four years, we come to these weeklong clusters to nominate our party’s presidential candidate, network, take care of clients and donors, treat the ephemera of credentials and event tickets as precious gilt, and have a good time as thousands of fellow pols, reporters and other members of the chattering class descend on an unsuspecting U.S. city.

When I land in a couple hours it will be off to the races, running around the City of Brotherly Love and picking up the first day’s credentials from various hotels in and around Rittenhouse Square. By lunchtime me, Alex and Erin will be holed up in the bar or restaurant of a hotel lobby, sorting out the various credentials and event tickets we’ve acquired that morning, and figuring out which clients, donors and friends need passes to what, while also plotting out the events we’ll be attending that afternoon and evening. Erin has painstakingly compiled a 7 page PDF of all the events our friends, clients and donors are interested in of the 67 page “master list.”

I’m co-hosting an event with the Drug Policy Alliance, Congressman Earl Blumenaur, and the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp.

After that it’s likely off to actual convention for a while before we end Night 1 with “Late Night with the DGA (Democratic Governors Association)” and a late-late night hosted by our previously mentioned buddy, and fundraising godfather, Chris Korge.

If this goes off without a hitch, I’ll be back tomorrow with the first full installment of the FloridaPolitics.com “DNCC Insider.”

HERE’S HOW CLEVELAND COMPARED TO TAMPA AS GOP CONVENTION SITE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – This time — and not just because three different cheerful volunteers handed me free water and thanked me for coming to the convention — I had to admit Cleveland showed itself off better hosting the Republican National Convention than Tampa did four years ago. These are similarly sized cities, with nearly 400,000 people each, and both share similar something-to-prove attitudes that convention cities like New York or Philadelphia don’t. Both had bids to host a political convention rejected before they landed the GOP. Both have the challenge of limited downtown hotels and had to house some of the 50,000 conventioneers in less than convenient locations … What mainly set Cleveland apart was its downtown. In 2012, Tampa had a vast, fenced-in security zone surrounding the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the convention center — and not much immediately outside that security zone. Anyone who wanted to explore Tampa or grab a bite or a beer or hit a private party had to hoof it a long distance or drive. Cleveland had two separate, smaller security zones — one around the media center at the Cleveland Convention Center and the other around the Quicken Loans Arena, where all the speeches were held. Buses constantly shuttled thousands of reporters back and forth. Immediately outside the arena, restaurants set up tents to serve local specialties, beer and booze, and bands played. Downtown Tampa is undergoing a renaissance and building boom, but it hasn’t grown as much as Cleveland, which has seen dramatic revitalization in the two decades since the Cavs decided to move downtown. In Cleveland, visitors easily came and went from the security zone to find nearby restaurants or shops. “It’s a totally different feel than Tampa, very inviting,” said USF political scientist Susan MacManus, who lived in Cleveland about 20 years ago. “Cleveland has a vibrancy that’s relatively new.”

MORE THOUGHT GOP CONVENTION WAS A DISASTER via Taegan Goddard of the Political Wire – A new RABA Research poll finds that 37% of Americans considered the Republican National Convention “a disaster,” while just 24% called it a “success.” Women voters called the convention a “disaster” instead of a “success” by a 3 to 1 margin. Among young voters, a whopping 55% called the convention a “disaster,” as opposed to just 13% calling it a “success.”

HACKED EMAILS SHOW DEMOCRATIC PARTY HOSTILITY TO SANDERS via the Associated Press – A cache of more than 19,000 emails from Democratic party officials … details the acrimonious split between the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s former rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Several emails posted by Wikileaks on its document disclosure website show DNC officials scoffing at Sanders and his supporters and in one instance, questioning his commitment to his Jewish religion. Some emails also show DNC and White House officials mulling whether to invite guests with controversial backgrounds to Democratic party events. Although Wikileaks’ posting of the emails Friday did not disclose the identity of who provided the private material, those knowledgeable about the breach said last month that Russian hackers had penetrated the DNC computer system. At the time, DWasserman Schultz said the breach was a “serious incident” and a private contractor hired to sweep the organization’s network had “moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.” On its web page, Wikileaks said the new cache of emails came from the accounts of “seven key figures in the DNC” and warned that the release was “part one of our new Hillary Leaks series” – an indication that more material might be published soon. Among the officials whose emails were made public were DNC spokesman Luis Miranda, national finance director Jordon Kaplan and finance chief Scott Comer, but other DNC and media figures and even some White House officials communicated with them between January 2015 and last May, Wikileaks said.

— “Top DNC staffer apologizes for email on Sanders’ religion” via Kristen East of POLITICO

DWS STEPS DOWN AS DNC CHAIR via POLITICO — The controversial chair of the Democratic National Committee … announced Sunday she would resign at the end of her party’s convention this week, a victim of her toxic relationship with peers and a trove of embarrassing internal emails. “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals [of winning the presidency for Hillary Clinton] is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention,” Wasserman Schultz said in a written statement.

FLASHBACK TWEET:

DWS TWEET

DWS STRUGGLED TO GET 7 TICKETS TO HAMILTON via Bianca Padró Ocasio of POLITICO – According to an email thread released on WikiLeaks, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman tried to acquire seven tickets to the award-winning Broadway show, but she was told the order might be too big to fill. “I am planning a trip with my college roommates in December to NYC. It is for our 50th birthdays. Can you help me get 7 tickets to Hamilton from our friend who did the FR?” She asked DNC finance director Allen Zachary in late May. Zachary said it would be very difficult to get that many tickets, suggesting they sit in separate areas or go on different nights. “I’ve never seen an order of 7 fulfilled, I have seen as many as 4. Would you guys be willing to split up 4 and 3?” He said. “We would want to go on the same night but we don’t have to sit all together,” Wasserman Schultz responded. … The thread ends with the issue unresolved.

TWEET, TWEET: @PhilipRucker: Trump announces aggressive campaign swing w/ Pence this week, including 8 pm Monday rally — daring TV nets to cut away from DNC in Philly.

DONALD TRUMP COMING TO MIAMI FOR POSTPONED HISPANIC LUNCHEON via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Trump will come to Miami Tuesday to have lunch with Hispanic leaders … The roundtable luncheon was postponed earlier this month after the deadly shootings of Dallas police officers. It’s unclear if Tuesday’s plans will mirror the ones from July 8, when Trump was supposed to sit down with pastors, politicians and other Latino community leaders at Versailles Cuban restaurant. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had planned to attend, in what would have been his first campaign event with Trump. Trump had also planned a rally that day, but his new schedule doesn’t mention one. It also mentions no luncheon details.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at www.capcityconsult.com.***

THE STATE OF THE RACE — The latest FiveThirtyEight forecast shows Clinton winning 290 electoral votes to Trump’s 247. Trump now has a 41% chance to win the election. For comparison, The Upshot gives Trump a 26% chance to win and Sam Wang gives Trump a 20% chance.

538

DAYS UNTIL: Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 1; Early voting begins in primaries – 25; Primary elections – 35; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 7; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 77; Absentees sent in General Election – 70; Early voting begins in General Election — 95; General Election – 105.

MARCO RUBIO’S ABSENCE FROM INTELLIGENCE, FOREIGN AFFAIRS BRIEFINGS RETURNS AS SENATE CAMPAIGN ISSUE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In his Senate re-election bid, Rubio is having to defend himself on an issue that dogged him during his failed presidential campaign: his absence from Senate intelligence and national security briefings. He’s fending off those attacks with the same rebuttal he used on the GOP presidential primary campaign trail, dismissing his critics as lacking the understanding as to how such sensitive information is shared with him and his Senate colleagues. “The briefings are where you have a chance to ask questions, but the vast and overwhelming majority of intelligence information that we receive and the president receives is not verbal,” Rubio told POLITICO Florida …  He said he reviews intelligence information “every single day,” and a vast majority of that information does not come in hearings, but reading materials … Rubio missed 20 of 23 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meetings between Oct. 2015 and March 2016, the time he was campaigning for president. In February … Rubio had missed hundreds of hearings – seven in 10 – on four different Senate committees he joined as freshman lawmaker 2010 … published data show that Rubio actually missed 19 Senate Foreign Relations Committee meetings that were held the very same day of the Senate Intelligence Committee meetings – meaning he was absent at both meetings where classified information was discussed. The missed intelligence committee briefings, mostly held behind closed doors, focused on issues like the Obama administration’s response to the Syrian Conflict, a review of State Department budget requests, updates on the military campaign against ISIS, and Afghanistan intelligence assessments, records show.

HAPPENING TODAY: Republican Neal Dunn, candidate for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, hosts a fundraising reception beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Haughty Heron, 117 Sailors Cove Dr. in Port St. Joe. Information and RSVP with Ieva Smidt at 850-567-8022 or Ieva@flfstrategies.com.

SUSANNAH RANDOLPH ROLLS OUT NEW AD DURING CONVENTION — The new advertisement aims to highlight Randolph’s progressive background. “Susannah Randolph is a community leader who fought Republican cuts to schools and expanded women’s healthcare. In Congress, Randolph will vote to raise the minimum wage, give workers paid sick leave, and protect Social Security,” an announcer says in the 30-second spot called “The Hillary in Our House,” which features her daughter, Hillary. The advertisement is scheduled to air for the first time during the Democratic National Convention.

JUSTIN GRABELLE RELEASES FIRST TELEVISION ADVERTISEMENT IN CD 11 — In a 30-second spot, Grabelle talks about his brother, who was on the USS Cole when it was attacked. “Now, sixteen years later, it’s clear we’re no safer and have no strategy to stop the spread of terrorism. We must defeat ISIS; plain and simple. Let’s make America safe by standing up to those who pose a threat to our way of life,” he says in the advertisement. The Ocala Republican faces Daniel Webster in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. The Republican primary is Aug. 30.

REBECCA NEGRON CAMPAIGN BOOSTED BY PRIVATE PRISON BACKED COMMITTEE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The super PAC, Conservative Congress Now, started raising money last month and reported $65,000 in contributions on its July quarterly campaign finance reports. Of that, $50,000 came from The Geo Group, the Boca Raton-based prisons company that has 104 facilities across the country. The remaining money came from law firms Lytel, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, Search, Denney, Scarola et al., and Swope, Rodante P.A. Each firm gave $5,000. The group has done more than $20,000 in mail pieces, and reserved at least $42,0000 in TV time, with ads set to start running through Aug. 3. The television ads are being cut by Public Concepts LLC., the Republican firm led by veteran Florida strategists Randy Nielsen and Richard Johnston. Negron’s campaign is also running its own ads. She has reserved at least $240,000 to run television spots through the Aug. 30 primary. Negron is running for the 18th Congressional District seat vacated by Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is running for Senate.

FEDERAL CONTRACTS GO TO INELIGIBLE FRANCIS ROONEY FIRM via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – A subsidiary of Rooney‘s national construction and real estate company received federal contracts meant for small businesses that it didn’t qualify for …  The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based equipment business, OAI Electronics Inc., received $8.8 million in federal contracts since 1996, including at least $2 million identified in federal spending data for contracts meant to help small businesses, according to federal contract records. OAI, however, did not qualify until at least 2013 as a small business because it was part of Rooney Holdings, which bought it out of bankruptcy in a federal case closed in 1994, records show. Rooney’s daughter, Kathleen Rooney, took over OAI in 2012 and restructured it as a woman-owned small business based in a disadvantaged area, receiving special certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration. That move made it eligible for contracts from federal agencies looking to give work to qualified small businesses. But that designation is questionable, according to one expert, because of Kathleen Rooney’s work with Rooney Holdings, an investment company known for its construction and real estate businesses that generates more than $1 billion a year in revenue. Rooney Holdings still owns 49 percent of OAI, Kathleen Rooney is an equal owner with her father and other family members of Rooney Holdings, and she sits on the boards of both OAI and Rooney Holdings. It’s not clear how many of the federal small business contracts, awarded over more than 20 years, went to Rooney’s subsidiary. Rooney and his companies’ leaders say they did not intentionally break any rules.

JASON PIZZO RELEASES HIS FIRST AD IN SD 38 RACE — In the 30-second spot, called “Leadership,” Pizzo pledges to fight for common sense gun legislation if he’s elected in Senate District 38. “As a former state prosecutor, I took on criminals who exploited our seniors and those who brought pain to our children and their families. As your state senator, I will fight for common sense laws that take illegal guns off our streets.” Pizzo faces Democrats Anis BlemurKevin A. BurnsDaphne CampbellDon Festge, and Michael Gongora in Senate District 38.

HD 4 HOPEFUL WAYNE HARRIS MIGHT CALL HIMSELF ‘TAX CUTTER,’ BUT HE IS ANYTHING BUT via Florida Politics – A recent mailer to voters in HD 4 boasts Harris as an “Emerald Coast tax cutter.” But after a closer look, it becomes increasingly difficult to describe Harris in those terms … During his time as an Okaloosa County Commissioner, Harris voted several times to raise property taxes. Case in point: a 2013 meeting where he attempted to ramrod a millage rate increase of .1409 mills in the 2013-2014 budget. In the meeting held July 30, 2013, minutes show Harris sought to set the tentative millage rate at 3.4308 mills and approve a five-cent gas increase. At the time, District 4 Commissioner Don Amunds requested the issues be addressed separately, but Harris would have none of that; he motioned to increase the millage rate from 3.2899 mills to 3.4308 mills. Harris eventually got his way, making the motion that was seconded by Commissioner Nathan Boyles, to set the tentative millage rate at 3.4308 mills. The final vote was to pass the tax increase, with three yeas and two commissioners – Amunds and [KellyWindes – voting no. It’s also worth noting that since 2008, Harris has been a vocal advocate for increasing gas taxes, declaring that although it may be “political suicide” to support a five-cent increase in gas taxes, the county needed the advantage for improving its aging infrastructure. Harris made another stunning admission – it may be necessary to make political promises on the campaign trail and change those positions after getting in office. Harris [blasted]commissioners for not immediately approving a tax increase, saying that they were “holding this organization hostage.” He then called on colleagues to “do the right thing” by boosting the tax rate. Harris’s record on taxes – as well as his ostensible readiness to change his mind once elected – begs the question: is this really someone who can legitimately claim the title “tax cutter?”

ENDORSEMENT WATCH

Ed Narain, running for Senate District 19, has been endorsed by the Florida Sentinel Bulletin.

Matt Hudson, running for Senate District 28, has been recommended by the Lehigh Acres Gazette and Fort Myers Independent.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

THE WORST THING YOU’LL READ TODAY — MOTHER OF MISSING MIAMI TODDLER STUNS COURT: ‘SHE IS DEAD’ via David Ovalle and Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald – As Miami homicide detectives urgently searched for missing toddler Angela Dufrene, her mother made a stunning admission in court this week. “She is dead,” Marjorie Dufrene calmly told a Miami-Dade judge … “She is no longer with us.” The shocking revelation in court came just hours before Miami police issued a bulletin asking for the public’s help in finding Angela, who might have vanished at least eight months ago in November. The girl’s disappearance was discovered this week after an anonymous abuse tip spurred an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families … the mother detailed to police and child-welfare investigators several versions of the child’s fate, including that the child suffered a fatal fall, and Dufrene later discarded the body in a North Miami-Dade dumpster. Because of the conflicting statements, investigators still hold hope the toddler might be alive. If she is, Angela would be 2 years old. She has a twin brother, who has now been placed in a foster home. Frustrated detectives have little to work with — so far, not even a photo of the little girl has been unearthed — but the search remains ongoing. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman appeared troubled that the DCF office in Broward had not been monitoring the family. The agency had a long history with Dufrene, who had lost custody of three of her other children after an arrest in 2013. Broward County is unique in Florida: Child abuse investigations all are conducted by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Legal decisions are overseen by the State Attorney General’s office. And, foster care and adoption services are supervised by a private provider, ChildNet. Dufrene, 30, is a mother of five who works at Dunkin’ Donuts. She has not been charged with any crime and has been cooperating with police.

MORE GREAT JOURNALISM FROM CAROL MARBIN MILLER — MOM OF AUTISTIC MAN AT CENTER OF CHARLES KINSEY SHOOTING: MY SON IS TRAUMATIZED via the Miami Herald – It would be hours before 60-year-old Gladys Soto learned the truth: Her son, Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto, had wandered away from his North Miami group home. His behavior aide, a man Rios loved, had been shot by police as he desperately tried to warn them that Rios had autism, was not a danger to anyone, and was wielding a toy truck, not a gun. As Charles Kinsey lay on the ground, hands raised above him in a sign of abject submission, a bullet from a police sniper pierced his leg. The head of Miami-Dade’s police union later insisted the bullet had been meant for Rios. “I feel like my wings have been cut off, and it’s the end of everything,” Soto [said]. “It’s too emotional to see your baby caught up in something like this.” It was more than her son could endure, as well. On Tuesday, Rios wandered yet again. He returned to the blood-stained sidewalk where his caregiver had been shot the day before and threw himself to the ground, his mother said. Rocking rhythmically, he shouted: “I hate the police. I hate the police.” Rios has been in the psychiatric wing of Aventura Hospital since then, said Soto, who visited her son Friday night. For days, Rios had remained hospitalized in the same dirty clothes and blood-stained jacket he was wearing when his image was seared into the national debate about race and policing and the senseless shooting of unarmed men.

FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – As of Friday, there were 19 new travel-related cases with three in Orange, two in Hillsborough, two in Osceola, two in Seminole, two in Volusia, one in Broward, one in Miami-Dade, one in Okeechobee, one in Palm Beach, one in Pasco, one in Polk, one in St. Johns and one involving a pregnant woman. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are now 306 total cases in Florida; by county (number of cases): Miami Dade (93), Broward (51), Orange (36), Osceola (17), Palm Beach (15), Seminole (11), Polk (11), Hillsborough (9), Pinellas (7), Brevard (6), Duval (6), Lee (6), Pasco (6), Alachua (5), Volusia (5), Collier (4), Clay (3), St. Johns (3), Citrus (2) and a single case each in Charlotte, Escambia, Highlands, Lake, Manatee, Martin, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Santa Rosa and St. Lucie with 47 cases involving pregnant women.

FIRST ON SAINTPETERSBLOG.COM — PASCO COUNTY MAN RECEIVES FIRST DELIVERY OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA via Anne Lindberg – A Pasco County man suffering from Dystonia with Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms became the first Florida patient to receive a delivery of medical marijuana today from Trulieve, a medical cannabis dispensary. The delivery came days after Trulieve became the first dispensary to receive formal authorization from the state Department of Health to both grow and dispense low THC-medical cannabis. “Honoring our commitment to a statewide delivery service, we are pleased and proud to announce that the very first patient in the state has received low-THC medical cannabis,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said. Now that the first patient has received medical cannabis, Rivers said Trulieve would begin in-store sales of medical marijuana at its Tallahassee facility within the next few days. It will be the first such dispensary in Florida. Patients won’t have to travel to the state capitol to receive the drug. Trulieve will provide statewide delivery of low-THC cannabis immediately. Trulieve will also have high-THC medical marijuana available beginning in early August.

marijuana pic

ICYMI: FLORIDA’S JOBLESS RATE REMAINS STEADY, NO CHANGE IN JUNE via The Associated Press – State officials announced that the state’s jobless rate was 4.7 percent in June. That’s the same rate as it was in May, although it’s lower than the national jobless rate of 4.9 percent. Florida added 9,800 jobs in June. Gov. Scott announced the jobless numbers during a stop at Port Tampa Bay …  Scott emphasized the total number of private sector jobs added since January not the June slowdown. Monroe County, home to Key West, had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.1 percent. Hendry County had the highest at 10 percent.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth at 10:30 a.m. at JetSmart Inc., 500 E. Broward Blvd., 19th floor in Fort Lauderdale.

FLORIDA’S JOBS AGENCY GIVES CHECKS TO DEPARTING EMPLOYEES via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Amid a major shakeup pushed by Gov. Scott, the Florida agency responsible for luring jobs to the state is paying nearly a half-million dollars to departing employees. Florida taxpayers are picking up the majority of the cost for severance payments and payouts for unused leave … 10 departing employees at Enterprise Florida are receiving more than $430,000. Rank-and-file state workers are not allowed to receive severance payments, but employees at Enterprise Florida aren’t considered state workers even though taxpayers pick up most of the tab for the economic development organization. Many Enterprise Florida employees — including the president and CEO— have resigned or were forced out as part of an overhaul initiated by Scott, who also serves as the chairman of the Enterprise Florida board. Bill Johnson, the head of the organization who appears to have been forced to resign earlier this year, received a severance check of $132,500 and he also was paid more than $14,000 for unused leave … private donations were used to pay Johnson. Nine other employees at Enterprise Florida — ranging from an office manager to a senior vice president — received severance payments paid from public money that ranged from $5,000 to $60,000. Two senior vice presidents were given nearly $30,000 in lump sum payments for unused leave.

FLORIDA WORKERS COMP CHALLENGE SEEKS U.S. SUPREME COURT REVIEW via Stephanie Goldberg of businessinsurance.com – The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review a challenge of the constitutionality of Florida’s workers’ compensation system in a case on which the state Supreme Court declined to rule … Miami attorney Mark Zientz petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a writ of certiorari in Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital. The case questions whether Florida’s workers’ comp system is an adequate exclusive remedy for injured workers following changes that eliminated permanent partial disability benefits. One question in the petition … asks if Florida’s workers comp law violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “in a case where no benefits can be awarded to an injured worker to cover … partial loss of future wage earning capacity.” Despite originally accepting jurisdiction, the Florida Supreme Court in April unanimously decided not to review the case “after further consideration and hearing oral argument.”

SCOOP — SPEAKER TO BE CHRIS SPROWLS LEAVES STATE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE FOR PRIVATE PRACTICE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The 32-year-old Palm Harbor Republican expected to serve as Speaker of the Florida House said he had joined the firm of Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney. The decision marks the end of a seven-year career with the State Attorney’s Office for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. “We’re going to miss him,” said State Attorney Bernie McCabeSprowls … said he decided to make the leap because he wanted to try his hand at civil law. He said he would work predominantly in the real estate and litigation practice groups at BIR … During his time as a prosecutor, he tried dozens of jury trials, many involving violent crimes. One of the most notable cases of his career was the conviction of William Hurst for the 1982 murder of his wife, Amy. The decision may also give Sprowls a bit more time to focus on his legislative career.

FIRST IN SUNBURN — FLORIDA VIRTUAL SCHOOL ENTREPRENEUR ED MANSOURI TO FOCUS ON NEW WEATHERSTEM TECH PROJECT via Florida Politics – Mansouri, the nationally renowned software pioneer who developed the cutting-edge learning management system used by the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) since 2003, will be transitioning away at the end of this year, after a proud partnership with FLVS, to focus his efforts more fully on his equally impressive new WeatherSTEM educational technology. Mansouri will continue working closely with FLVS leadership to position the online institution for ongoing success with its new learning management system partner. Weather data-gathering units installed all over the state by Mansouri’s organization inform the WeatherSTEM website and mobile application to provide real-time, localized temperature, humidity and lightning measurements. Mansouri and his team also have been developing curriculum for Florida’s K-12 students in the topical domains of weather and agriculture, with the content driven by live data from weather stations placed at local schools. His vision and generosity translated to donating and installing a WeatherSTEM unit in at least one school in each of Florida’s 67 counties, as requests from other schools, emergency operations centers, farms and universities keep rolling in.

APPOINTEDFrank Ledee to South Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Wansly Walters, Ballard Partners: G4S Secure Solutions

Chris Moya, Emily Buckley, Jennifer Ungru, Jones Walker: American Sportfishing Association

Allison Kinney: Springleaf General Services, Inc.

Jeff Littlejohn, Littlejohn Mann & Associates: American Water Works Association, Town of Palm Beach

Michael Nachef: Lee Memorial Health System

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

HEMINGWAY (NO RELATION) WINS LOOK-ALIKE CONTEST IN KEY WEST via Reuters – For the first time in its 36-year history, a Hemingway has won a competition seeking the man who most looks like literary giant Ernest Hemingway. Dave Hemingway was named the winner of the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on Saturday in Key West, Florida. The winner said he is not related to the late author. The contest, which attracted 140 entrants, is the highlight event of the annual Hemingway Days festival that celebrates the author’s legacy. It was held at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which was a frequent hangout of Hemingway’s during his Key West residency in the 1930s.

hemingway

TALLAHASSEE’S PRESS CENTER LOSES HALL OF FAME PHOTOS TO POYNTER INSTITUTE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Since 1988, the tan three-story building in downtown Tallahassee has been the home-away-from-home for many of the state’s newspapers, wire services and television and radio stations. But the Florida Press Association sold the College Avenue property in late 2014, saying it no longer wanted to be a landlord. Even before the sale, the News Service of Florida vacated its space for another nearby building. Later, the First Amendment Association, the state’s open government watchdog, also moved to alternate offices in Tallahassee. Now, it’s also lost a chunk of history. Gone are the portraits that hung on the walls of the building’s news conference room. They depicted the members of the Florida Newspaper Hall of Fame, recognizing “individuals who have rendered outstanding service in the field of newspaper journalism in Florida.” Among them are FLORIDA TODAY and USA TODAY founder Al Neuharth and legendary United Press International Florida bureau chief Barbara Frye. The Capitol Press Corps’ scholarship program is named after her. The photos were packed up and shipped to St. Petersburg, says Florida Press Association CEO Dean Ridings. “They are moving to their new permanent home at Poynter,” he said, referring to the nonprofit journalism education organization.

WHAT JON COSTELLO IS READING — FORMER TUCKER DUKE’S OWNER, ‘CUTTHROAT KITCHEN’ STAR ARRESTED ON TAX CHARGES via Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat – Brian Cartenuto, a two-time winner of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” was arrested on charges he failed to pay sales tax while he was owner of the former Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox restaurant on College Avenue. Court documents say the 35-year-old didn’t pay nearly $22,000 in sales tax owed to the state over a five-month period from October 2014 to February 2015. The business closed after a small kitchen fire left $15,000 in damage in February 2015. Cartenuto … was booked at the Palm Beach County Jail and released hours later after posting bail. Tucker Duke’s was in operation only six months at the longtime spot of Po Boys on East College Avenue, now the location of the Southern Public House. It opened in August 2014, boasting its eclectic burgers, craft beer offerings, sliders and sandwiches. But an investigation by the Florida Department of Revenue said Cartenuto, who was responsible for the restaurant’s finances, stopped paying sales tax two months after the restaurant opened. A review of business bank accounts showed Cartenuto “had enough funds in the account to pay the Department of Revenue the taxes due during this period.”

FIRST JUSTICE LEAGUE TRAILER IS A MASSIVE CHANGE IN TONE FOR BATMAN via the LA Times  Batfleck’s got jokes! The first ever “Justice League” trailer is here, and it is heavy, heavy, heavy on the rock and roll and superhero jokes. But don’t worry, Ben Affleck is still doing the bat voice. Watch as Ben Affleck’s Batman assembles the ultimate DC hero squad in the first trailer for “Justice League,” which was released during the Warner Bros. panel at Comic-Con.

WONDER WOMAN TRAILER AS WONDERFUL AS YOU HOPED via Scott Menderson of Forbes – Say what you will about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the consensus was that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman stole the show, or at least stole the film’s action climax just by showing up. Part of that was merely because it was the first time we got to see Wonder Woman on the big screen. … And now we have our first trailer for Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman. … I remember the thrill of seeing Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man on opening night in 2002, the weird notion that yes, after all these years of legal wrangling and near-misses, I was watching a Spider-Man movie. And that was fourteen years ago, during which time we’ve had two “new” Spider-Man franchises. And now, fourteen years after that long wait, we’re finally getting a Wonder Woman movie.

CBS UNVEILS STAR TREK DISCOVERY AND A FIRST LOOK AT ITS SHIP via Jacob Kastrenakes of The Verge – At long, long last, Star Trek is making its way back to TV, and today we’re getting a first look. Alongside this afternoon’s Star Trek panel at Comic-Con, CBS put out a teaser showing the new series’ subject: a new Starfleet ship called the USS Discovery. The show is also getting a proper name today, Star Trek Discovery.

GUY RITCHIE DEBUTS HIS KING ARTHUR MOVIE, EMPHASIS ON THE GUY via Beth Eldurkin of io9.com – The director of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie, has finally revealed a look at his latest movie, the period action epic King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. And it’s pretty much what you’d expect: It’s Guy Ritchie in Medieval Times. It’s got everything you think a Medieval epic wouldn’t. Fast GoPro-style camera work, a faux-hawked Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) sarcastically charming his way from “the streets” to the throne. On the other hand, there are definitely a few additions that make absolute sense, namely Game of Thrones veterans Michael McElhatton and Aidan Gillen.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, the incredibly classy Melissa Dempsey.

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Takeaways from Tallahassee – Away from the ‘Mistake on the Lake’

While the political conventions are getting all the attention this month, another issue is quietly oozing its way through the sticky Tallahassee heat: Gambling, specifically card games.

Pari-mutuel operators (i.e, dog and horse tracks) and state regulators are fighting over something called “designated player games,” essentially a kind of poker.

Only the Seminole Tribe can offer “banked card games” such as blackjack. But the pari-mutuels can and do offer card games in which people play against each other and not the “house.”

blackjackRegulators now are saying that the card rooms have been making a mockery of the state’s rules.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which also regulates gambling, filed administrative complaints earlier this year against seven racetracks that offer the poker-style card games.

Here’s the rub: Third-party companies have been buying their way into the games, using a worker to act as a virtual bank, according to the department.

As ably reported by the News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam, DBPR lawyer William Hall argued at a recent hearing: “If a mannequin was sitting in the designated player’s seat … the games would play no differently than if a living, breathing human being was sitting there.

“They’d play the exact same way,” he added. “Literally, all the designated player does is sit next to the chips. Can that person legitimately be called a player?”

The state wants the current card-game rule repealed, while the pari-mutuels like it just as is, since the games bring in about $10 million a year, according to reports.

A “test case” is awaiting an order by an administrative-law judge. Stay tuned…

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Jim Rosica and Peter Schorsch.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Water damaged — Citizens Property Insurance Corp. board of governors approved a $1.8 million contract to examine rising water damage claims and whether the charges are excessive. The board approved a five-year contract with Lynx Services, LLC. Rising water damage claims have been a growing concern for Citizens officials. The insurer is pushing a 6.8 percent statewide rate hike, citing rising water-damage claims as one of the key reasons for the increase.

mcdougalMore money for Scott staffers — Top staffers in the Scott administration received pay raises after the governor appointed a new chief of staff. The pay increases, according to the Naples Daily News, started when Kim McDougal took over as the chief of staff in April. McDougal received a pay increase when she took over the job. The Naples Daily News report also showed several other top staffers — including policy coordinator Julie Epsy and policy director Jeffrey Woodburn — also received raises.

Abortion law — A 24-hour waiting period doesn’t “significantly burden the right to privacy,” Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office said in a brief at the Florida Supreme Court. The brief is part of a year-long legal dispute about the 2015 law requiring a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. A Leon County circuit judge approved an injunction last year, but the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the ruling in February. The Supreme Court in May agreed to take up the case. Also this week, POLITICO Florida reported that attorneys representing the Scott administration acknowledged in court filings that administrative complaints filed against three Planned Parenthood were unsubstantiated.

Fight against ZIka — President Barack Obama promised to send another $5.6 million to Florida to help combat the spread of Zika. In a call with Gov. Rick Scott his week, the president said that in addition to $2 million the CDC has provided, another $5.6 million grant was expected to be awarded this week. The call came as health officials probed whether a woman contracted the disease in Miami. There are more than 330 cases of Zika in Florida, including 46 involving pregnant women. The Department of Health was investigating possible non-travel related cases in South Florida.

rubio, marco - orange grovePolicy blitz — Sen. Marco Rubio spent the week touring the state to talk with local leaders and constituents about several different policy issues, including water quality. Rubio advocated for the passage of a comprehensive water bill, which he said would help Southwest Florida and the Treasure Coast with its water woes. He seemed hesitant to support efforts to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee to store water. He also attended meetings to talk about citrus greening, veterans affairs and visited Port Tampa Bay. But he wasn’t always greeted warmly. In Orlando, protestors confronted the Miami Republican about his position on guns and gay rights. The official visits coincided with a week-long campaign swing.

Congratulations, Jack Latvala!

Latvala was the first legislator to be inducted into the Pasco Hernando State College Legislative Hall of Fame.

Timothy L. Beard, the school’s president, recognized the Clearwater Republican’s efforts that led to the construction of several buildings on the college’s West Campus, strengthening articulation agreements with the University of South Florida, and preserving the integrity of the college’s local service areas.

The Legislative Hall of Fame establishes a new tradition at the school meant to recognizes lawmakers for supporting the college and higher education opportunities for their constituents.

The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers Board of Directors has a new president.

The organization announced John Crawford, the Nassau County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, has been named the incoming president. The organization also announced its new executive committee members during its annual summer conference in Orlando.

“The roles and responsibilities of Court Clerks and Comptrollers in each of Florida’s 67 counties are vast and far reaching, but most importantly we are the keepers, protectors and preservers of public trust and that has always been, and will continue to be, our highest priority,” said Crawford in a statement. “It is my great privilege to serve the FCCC membership as President and I look forward to building upon our successes while also finding viable solutions to the critical issues we face both independently and collectively.”

Franklin County Clerk Marcia Johnson will serve as first vice president, Palm Beach County Clerk Sharon Bock will serve as second vice president, Polk County Clerk Stacy Butterfield will serve as treasurer, and Clay County Clerk Tara Green will serve as secretary. All of the board members will serve one-year terms.

Florida’s correctional health care provider provided vision screenings to the family of the incarcerated.

Last week, Centurion, LLC. Provided free vision screenings to families of the incarcerated at Lowell Correctional Institution, Florida Women’s Reception Center and Marion Correctional Institution. The screenings were held during the Florida Department of Corrections’ first Family/Friends Orientation Day.

“We are pleased to partner with Envolve Benefit Options to be able to provide free vision screenings to the loved ones of those incarcerated at three Marion County institutions,” said Steven Wheeler, chief executive officer of Centurion, in a statement.  “Not only is it important that individuals receive annual vision screenings, but it also gives inmates’ families the opportunity to experience firsthand the same type of care and services their loved ones may receive while in the institution.”

All attendees received a vision screening. If a problem was detected in a child, an eye doctor conducted a full screening. Children who needed classes were able to pick their frames on-side, and will receive glasses in the mail. Adults received free reading classes.

Kudos, Escambia County Deputy Ronald Gill.

Attorney General Bondi announced this week that Gill, a senior deputy with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, has been named the 2016 School Resource Officer of the Year.

“Deputy Gill, goes above and beyond to not only ensure the safety of students at the school he serves, but to also provide guidance to the youth in his community,” said Bondi in a statement. “Resource officers play a vital role in the lives of students on a daily basis and I am honored to name Deputy Gill the 2016 School Resource Officer of the Year.”

Gill is 14-year veteran of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. He currently serves as a school resource officer at Ernest Ward Middle School.

The award, which is given jointly by Bondi and the Florida Association of School Resource Officers, is given each year to a Florida officer who demonstrates dedication and tireless work ethic to enhance the lives of students.

More jobs are coming to Collier County.

Gov. Scott announced this week that Arthrex will expand its operations in North Naples. The medical device manufacturer will create 560 jobs and invest more than $63 million in Collier County. The company, according to the Governor’s Office, currently employs more than 2,220 Floridians.

“I am proud to announce that Arthrex is continuing to expand in Florida and will be creating more than 500 new jobs for families in Collier County,” said Scott in a statement. “More and more manufacturing companies are choosing to invest and create new opportunities in our state because of our work to cut taxes and make it easier for job creators to succeed.”

The company has been in Naples since 1991, and has been named one of the Top 100 Best Companies to Work for by Fortune Magazine.

“Arthrex is committed to reinvesting in our community, and the best investment is growing our business right here in Southwest Florida,” said Reinhold Schmieding, the company’s president and founder. “This investment will help us expand our research, manufacturing product development and medical education to help improve the lives of people in Southwest Florida with our company and around the world with our products.”

Ready, set, vote!

Secretary of State Ken Detzner unveiled the 2016 voter education toolkit. The toolkit, Detzner said, can be used to help voters prepare and stakeholders provide voters with information about Election Day.

dos“This year we have been seeing increased voter engagement and have received requests from Floridians for additional information on the voting process,” said Detzner. “In response to these requests, we have developed a voter education toolkit that can be used by stakeholders to directly communicate information to voters and can also be used by voters themselves.

The toolkit includes a poster featuring a checklist for new Florida voters, logos and social media banners, and quick facts about the primary.

Speaking of being election ready: The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 30 primary is just around the corner.

The deadline to register to vote or change your party affiliation is Monday, Aug. 1. Florida is a closed primary state, which means only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their party’s primary. All registered voters can vote on constitutional initiatives and nonpartisan races on the ballot.

“I encourage all eligible voters to check their voter registration status before Monday, August 1, which is the deadline for Floridians to register to vote or update their party affiliation to be in effect for the Primary Election,” said Secretary of State Detzner. “While Florida is a closed primary state, voters should be aware that there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot that all voters can vote on, regardless of party affiliation. In addition, there may be other local nonpartisan races on the ballot.

Gov. Scott tipped his hat to community corrections professionals this week.

Scott designated July 17 through July 23 as Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week. The week is meant to recognize community corrections professionals who work to keep the community safe.

“The Department is proud to recognize our correctional probation officers and community corrections staff during this year’s Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones. “We thank them for their unwavering dedication and hard work to provide supervision for nearly 140,000 offenders and being instrumental in safeguarding Florida’s communities.”

There’s a few new county judges in Florida.

Gov. Scott appointed Joseph A. Poblick, who was in private practice, as a Pasco County judge. He replaces Judge Marc H. Salton. The 41-year-old Dade City resident previously served as an assistant state attorney for the 9th Judicial Circuit.

Joshua Riba will take the Pinellas County Court bench after being an assistant state attorney in the 6th Judicial Circuit. The 41-year-old Safety Harbor resident replaces Judge William H. Overton.

In Collier County, Scott appointed Michael J. Brown to the bench. The 38-year-old Naples served as an assistant state attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit. He replaces Judge Vince Murphy.

Tax cuts might not be so great for the state’s pocketbook.

Economic forecasters said the state’s coffers could take a hit in the years to come because of tax breaks passed this year. The losses total in the tens of millions each year until 2021, according to a report posted online Tuesday.

Tax and fee cuts passed this year will reduce general revenue by $42.3 million in the current budget year, which began July 1. The losses rise to $67.4 million in 2017-18, $70.5 million in 2018-19, $73.6 million in 2019-20, and $76.9 million in 2020-21, according to the report.

KLS Martin Group will soon call Jacksonville its U.S. manufacturing home.

Gov. Scott announced this week the company will establish its first U.S. manufacturing operations in Jacksonville. KLS Martin Manufacturing will create at least 25 new jobs and invest more than $5 million in the local community. The company currently employs more than 150 Floridians.

“The KLS Martin Group is excited to establish its first surgical implant manufacturing company outside of Germany here in Jacksonville,” said Tom Johnston with KLS Martin Manufacturing. “This new company will allow the KLS Martin Group to provide innovative products through cutting edge 3D printing technology that will improve patient care and surgical outcomes.”

Two corrections officers are being heralded as heroes this week.

According to Sen. Greg Evers’ office, Sgt. Burt Sellers and Officer George Lee were transporting 50 inmates when the brakes on their buss malfunctioned while driving down an off-ramp onto Highway 85. The two officers, Evers said, acted quickly to make sure the inmates were safe.

“Though there are difficult times we are navigating as a nation, we must sand with our officers who go above and beyond the call of duty, like Officers Sellers and Lee,” said Evers in a statement.

Evers also called on Gov. Scott to officially commend the officers, and halt all Department of Corrections bus transportation until the buses can be inspected for safety and compliance.

“The safety of our servicemen and women, inmates in our care, and innocent bystanders should always be a top priority,” said Evers. “The actions of our government to support our security and safety should always be a priority: Lives are at stake.”

Attention lottery lovers: You might be a winner.

The Florida Lottery said this week there is a Fantasy 5 ticket worth $140,000 that remains unclaimed in the Tampa Bay area. The 180-day deadline to claim the top prize is midnight, Aug. 4.

The winning ticket was sold at Active Food Mart on West Waters Avenue in Tampa. The winning numbers for the Feb. 6 drawing were 13–15–16–27–30.

Two other Fantasy 5 tickets also are currently unclaimed, according to the Lottery’s website.

One was bought in West Palm Beach, worth $103,486 and set to expire Aug. 5.  Another was purchased in Miami Beach, worth $125,476 and expiring Aug. 15.

There’s a few new faces on Connect Florida’s board of governors.

Connect Florida announced its 2016-17 Board of Governors this week. The organization is considered a signature program of Leadership Florida, and aims to educate, engage and inspire the state’s emerging leaders.

Chester Spellman, a graduate of Connect Florida Class IV, has been named the chairman of the 2016-17 board. Spellman is the chief executive officer for Volunteer Florida.

“It is an honor to serve as the Chair of the Connect Florida Board of Governors,” he said. “With a record number of applications and an exceptionally successful Class VI, we are grateful for the hard work of Immediate Past Chair Roger Feicht and the outgoing Board. I look forward to working with the 2016-2017 Board of Governors and the Leadership Florida team to build on this success.”

Connect Florida also announced Alex Price from Class III will serve as the chair-elect; Merdochey LaFrance from Class VI will serve as the statewide outreach chair; Keith Fletcher from Class will serve as the institute chair, and Andrew Fay from Class IV will serve as the finance chair. Roger Feicht from Class II is the immediate past chair.

An injured South Florida nurse who unsuccessfully challenged the state’s worker compensation system wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

Court dockets show Daniel Stahl filed his petition Tuesday. The request has not yet been acted on.

In April, the Florida Supreme Court decided not to consider Stahl’s case. After hearing arguments in Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, all seven justices agreed to “exercise our discretion and discharge jurisdiction,” the court’s one paragraph opinion said. “Accordingly, we dismiss review.”

Its inaction leaves intact a 1st District Court of Appeal ruling that “declared certain provisions of state workers’ compensation law) to be valid.”

Stahl hurt his back as a nurse back in 2003, with his injury limiting his physical activities so much it effectively ended his career.

He sued, saying his worker’s compensation benefits were “inadequate” under a 2003 overhaul.

Rep. Cary Pigman is a 2016 legislative champion.

The Florida Renal Administrators Association awarded the Sebring Republican with its Legislative Champion Award. The group honored Pigman, a board certified emergency medicine physician, for his efforts to improve the access and delivery of quality healthcare to Floridians.

Bob Loeper, chairman of the group’s public public committee, said “no single elected Representative has ever done more to successfully sponsor and pass legislation that will have an immediate and lasting effect on the chronically Ill, and the health care of all Floridians”.

Spiny lobster season is just around the corner.

The 2016 spiny lobster season opens with a two-day recreational sport season on July 27 and July 28. The regular commercial and recreational lobster season starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, divers must make sure the carapace on a spiny lobster larger than 3 inches before harvesting it.

(Courtesy of FWC)
(Courtesy of FWC)

Divers are also prohibited from harvesting egg-bearing females. During the two-day sport season, divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per day in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park waters; or 12 lobsters per person, per day in other Florida waters.

Diving after the sun goes down is not allowed in Monroe County during the two-day sport season.

Other tips: Bring a cooler big enough to hold the entire lobster; make sure you have a recreational saltwater fishing licenses and a spiny lobster permit, and make sure safety comes first.

Here is this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:

Capitol Directions - 7.23.16

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Hillary Clinton says Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine will join her on Democratic ticket as candidate for Vice President

Hillary Clinton named Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate Friday, adding a centrist former governor of a crucial battleground state to the Democratic ticket.

In a text message to supporters, the presumptive Democratic nominee said, “I’m thrilled to tell you this first: I’ve chosen Sen. Tim Kaine as my running mate.”

On Twitter a few seconds later, Clinton described Kaine as “a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others.” She called him “a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it.”

With the pick, Clinton moved into the political spotlight a day after newly crowned Republican nominee Donald Trump closed out his convention with a fiery address accusing his general election opponent of “terrible, terrible crimes.”

Kaine, 58, had long been a favorite for Clinton’s ticket. Fluent in Spanish and active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs, he built a reputation for working across the aisle as Virginia’s governor and as mayor of Richmond.

In a recent interview with CBS News, Clinton noted that Kaine has never lost an election during his lengthy political career and praised him as a “world-class mayor, governor and senator.” A favorite of Barack Obama since his early 2008 endorsement, the president told Clinton’s campaign he believed Kaine would be a strong choice during the selection process, according to a Democratic familiar with the search who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Those views are not shared by some liberals in the Democratic Party, who dislike his support of free trade and Wall Street. They pushed Clinton to pick Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, intensifying their criticism of Kaine late this week as his selection appeared imminent.

Clinton’s campaign largely declined to comment on the search process, trying to keep the details — even the names of the finalists — under wraps to try to maximize the impact of their announcement. She made no mention of her impending pick during a somber meeting Friday with community leaders and family members affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and a later campaign rally in Tampa.

She is expected to campaign with Kaine on Saturday morning at an event in Miami.

As Clinton prepared to make her VP pick Friday, Trump met with supporters at his convention hotel in Cleveland to run through a long list of thank-yous after the end of his four-day coronation as head of the Republican Party.

But rather than stay focused on Clinton or reach out to the general election voters he now must court, the newly minted Republican nominee spent considerable time stoking the fire of his bitter quarrel with Republican former rival Ted Cruz. “Ted, stay home,” Trump said, dismissing any interest in an endorsement the Texas senator refuses to provide. “Relax. Enjoy yourself.”

Trump boasted of his TV ratings, his primary victories and other achievements, including winning over his wife, Melania, in a stream-of-consciousness delivery with his vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, standing quietly nearby.

“I don’t do anything unless I win,” Trump insisted. He promised to work “so hard” as the nominee and vowed his campaign was “not going to disappear,” even though he has no plans to campaign this weekend and no events on his schedule for next week.

No matter, perhaps, as that time will belong to Clinton and the Democrats, whose own convention begins Monday in Philadelphia. Kaine, who won election to the Senate in 2012 after serving as Obama’s first chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will likely speak in the slot reserved for the vice presidential pick on Wednesday night.

Before entering politics, Kaine was an attorney who specialized in civil rights and fair housing. He learned Spanish during a mission trip to Honduras while in law school, an experience he still references on the campaign trail. During his political career, he’s demonstrated an ability to woo voters across party lines, winning his 2006 gubernatorial race with support in both Democratic strongholds and traditionally Republican strongholds.

His wife, Anne Holton, is the daughter of a former Virginia governor, a former state judge and, currently, the state’s Education Secretary. The couple has three children.

Clinton selected him to join the ticket from a group of candidates that included Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Clinton’s plans to pick Kaine, hinted at for several days leading up her Friday announcement, had been viewed as a safe choice against the Republican ticket of Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Some Democrats believe Trump’s selection of Pence, a conservative white man from a largely Republican state, freed Clinton from pressure to add another woman or minority to her ticket. Her short list included Warren, two Latino cabinet secretaries and New Jersey Gov. Cory Booker, one of two black U.S. senators.

Democrats argue that Kaine could help her woo moderate and even some Republican voters turned off by Trump’s provocative rhetoric, which was at the center of his 75-minute Thursday night acceptance speech. Trump pledged to restore a sense of public safety, strictly curb immigration and save the nation from Clinton’s record of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

Democrats offered a different assessment of the state of the nation. Obama said Friday that Trump painted a picture that “doesn’t really jibe with the experience with most people.”

At a White House news conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Obama said crime rates, especially those for violent crime, are lower than at any time in the past 30 years. He noted violent crime has recently risen in some cities, “but we’re not going to make good decisions based on fears that don’t have a basis in fact.”

Kaine got some practice challenging Trump’s message when he campaigned with Clinton last week in northern Virginia, where he spoke briefly in Spanish and offered a strident assault on Trump’s White House credentials.

“Do you want a ‘you’re fired’ president or a ‘you’re hired’ president?” Kaine asked in Annandale, Virginia, as Clinton nodded. “Do you want a trash-talking president or a bridge-building president?”

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HD 4 hopeful Wayne Harris might call himself ‘tax cutter,’ but he is anything but

HarrisMailFrom the start, Wayne Harris, a Republican running for Matt Gaetz’s House District 4 seat, has strutted his conservative credentials.

A recent mailer to voters in HD 4 even boasts Harris as an “Emerald Coast tax cutter.”

But after a closer look, it becomes increasingly difficult to describe Harris in those terms, especially compared to the other Republicans in the race.

Examples of this abound; Harris used his current campaign account to contribute and attend dinners with Democratic clubs such as the Okaloosa Democratic Black Caucus – three tickets and add purchased January 2016.

Why would he take part in such decidedly non-conservative activities?

One clue might be his actual record on taxes.

During his time as Okaloosa County Commissioner, Harris had voted several times to raise property taxes. Case in point: a 2013 meeting where he attempted to ramrod a millage rate increase of .1409 mills in the 2013-2014 budget.

In the meeting held July 30, 2013, minute show Harris sought to set the tentative millage rate at 3.4308 mills and approve a five-cent gas increase. At the time, District 4 Commissioner Don Amunds requested the issues can be addressed separately, but Harris would have none of that; he motioned to increase the millage rate from 3.2899 mills to 3.4308 mills.

Harris1

Harris2

To his credit, Commissioner Kelly Windes wondered if it might be better to wait, adding he would not vote to raise taxes for the following year.

Harris eventually got his way, making the motion that was seconded by Commissioner Nathan Boyles, to set the tentative millage rate at 3.4308 mills.

The final vote was to pass the tax increase, with three yeas and two commissioners – Amunds and Windes – voting no.

It’s also worth noting that since 2008, Harris has been a vocal advocate for increasing gas taxes, declaring that although it may be “political suicide” to support a five-cent increase in gas taxes, the county needed the advantage for improving its aging infrastructure.

Harris made another stunning admission – it may be necessary to make political promises on the campaign trail and change those positions after getting in office.

The NWF Daily News also reported Harris blasting commissioners for not immediately approving a tax increase, saying that they were “holding this organization hostage.” He then called on colleagues to “do the right thing” by boosting the tax rate.

Harris’s record on taxes – as well as his ostensible readiness to change his mind once elected – begs the question: is this really someone who can legitimately claim the title “tax cutter?”

In this video clip, Harris discusses the need for an increased gas tax:

In this clip, Harris explains his motivations in seeking to raise ad valorem tax rates, citing years of “bowing to conservatives”:

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Sunburn for 7.22.16 – Donald Trump delivers an ol’ fashioned stemwinder

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, and Jim Rosica.

DONALD TRUMP DELIVERS A STEMWINDER

Donald Trump has accepted the Republican nomination for president, promising anxious Americans that they will be safer and richer if he is elected in November.

Trump painted a dire state of affairs in the United States and the world — instability abroad and crumbling infrastructure at home — and blamed those problems on President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton,” he said in Thurday’s primetime speech. “Death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

Closing the four-day convention in Cleveland, Trump pledged that as president he’ll end crime and violence around the country, and said he would speak for those who don’t feel they are heard by government.

The billionaire businessman, 70, was looking to win over skeptics in his party. Republican disunity was on display the previous night when Trump’s primary rival, Ted Cruz, stopped far short of endorsing Trump and drew loud boos.

trump1

What to know about Trump’s speech and the final night of the convention:

— Safer America —

In an appeal to Americans shaken by violence at home and around the world, Trump promised that under his presidency, “safety will be restored.”

He stuck to the controversial proposals of his primary campaign, including building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and suspending immigration from nations “compromised by terrorism.”

But in a nod to a broader swath of Americans voting in November, he vowed to protect gays and lesbians from violence and oppression, and said he would ensure that young people in predominantly black cities “have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America.”

usa

— Uniquely Trump —

In typical Trump fashion, he cast himself as the only one who could solve America’s problems.

“No one knows the system better than me,” he said. “That’s why only I can fix it.”

Still, he set aside much of his usual bravado. As the crowd, fiercely opposed to Clinton, broke out in its oft-used chant, “Lock her up,” he waved them off, and declared, “Let’s defeat her in November.”

He was introduced by his daughter Ivanka, who announced a childcare policy proposal that the campaign had not mentioned before.

“He will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all,” she said.

— A richer country — 

Trump said he will overhaul tax laws and energy rules, get rid of regulations and decrease taxes, while offering few specifics. He said he will not sign “bad” trade agreements.

“I have made billions of dollars in business making deals — now I’m going to make our country rich again,” he said.

— Tension over NATO — 

In his speech, Trump did not repeat comments made to The New York Times that the United States might abandon its NATO military commitments if he were president.

Leading Republicans and world leaders reacted swiftly Thursday after the comments were published. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN that he “totally” disagrees with Trump’s suggestion that U.S. support could be conditional. In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance agreement was crystal clear: “We defend each other.”

HOW DID TRUMP’S CONVENTION SPEECH GET LEAKED IN ADVANCE via Callum Borchers of the Washington Post  While the details remain murky, it shouldn’t be hard for the Trump campaign to put together a plausible, media-bashing narrative of how things played out. It goes something like this: Some media member in the pool shared the speech with Correct the Record and Politico, knowing that a pro-Clinton super PAC and a politics site Trump hates would not feel bound by an embargo they never agreed to. It was a sleazy way to get the speech out early and sabotage Trump — which is what the media has been determined to do all along.

IVANKA TRUMP RAISES ISSUES FATHER RARELY MENTIONS via Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press – Touting a side of her father rarely seen on the campaign trail, Ivanka Trump cast her father as a leader who would fight to address the student debt problem and would be a champion for equal pay for mothers and single women. “As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put in place at a time when women weren’t a significant portion of the workplace, and he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all,” Ivanka Trump said.

Trump has not addressed childcare costs or the gender pay gap so far in his 2016 presidential bid. These are issues usually touted by Democrats. Trump’s past statements on women in the workplace have included calling pregnancy “an inconvenience” and telling a voter in New Hampshire last year that women will receive the same pay as men “if they do as good a job.” On Thursday, Ivanka Trump said her father “will fight for equal pay for equal work.”

BEFORE IVANKA’S SPEECH, THE TRUMPS GAVE US THIS SLIGHLTY CREEPY MOMENT:

ivanka

TWEET, TWEET: @Ryan_N_Wiggins: a daddy’s hands should never be on his daughter’s hips. Note how she pulls away.

MAKING GOP HISTORY, TRUMP VOWS TO PROTECT LGBTQ COMMUNITY via Josh Lederman of the Associated Press – Trump’s call in his speech to the Republican National Convention for protecting the “LGBTQ community” was a watershed moment for the Republican Party — the first time the issue has been elevated in a GOP nomination address. Four years ago, Mitt Romney never uttered the word “gay,” much less the full acronym — standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.But Trump, as if to drive the point home, said it not once, but twice. “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” Trump said, adding for emphasis: “Believe me.”

thiel

In another Republican first, an openly gay speaker acknowledged his sexuality Thursday from the podium — and put fellow Republicans on the spot by saying he disagreed with parts of the platform. Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, said only Trump was being honest about how “fake culture wars” distract from America’s economic decline. “I am proud to be gay,” Thiel declared. “I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.” He was greeted with wild cheers and extended applause as some delegations jumped to their feet — another striking moment for a Republican gathering.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT:

joy

THE LOWLIGHT OF THE NIGHT – TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN MANAGER SUGGESTS THAT THE FBI’S DECADES OF CRIME DATA AREN’T TRUSTWORTHY via Phillip Bump of the Washington Post – CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Manafort, “How can the Republicans make the argument that somehow it’s more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?” Manafort noted that people don’t feel safe, which is true. He then said he didn’t know what statistics Tapper was referring to, to which Tapper replied, “FBI statistics.” “Well,” Manafort replied with a smile, “the FBI certainly is suspect these days after what they just did with Hillary Clinton.” … Manafort is implying that the FBI’s data collection is somehow inept. The numbers are compiled annually through the Uniform Crime Reporting system, through which 18,000 law enforcement agencies submit data that is then tabulated. Is the suggestion that the FBI, which didn’t make the recommendation Manafort hoped, somehow massaged the data it received from those thousands of agencies?

AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF THIS:

FINEOUT

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SPOTTED IN THE VIP BOX AT THE RNC:

scott

RICK SCOTT’S MEDIA TOUR AT THE GOP CONVENTION via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Scott seemed to relish his presence this week at the Republican National Convention — especially among radio and television stations. Scott camped out twice over two days at Media Row across from downtown Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena. He gave so many interviews that his office had a hard time keeping track of them all. “He’s done around 50,” spokeswoman Jackie Schutz told the Miami Herald. The high number is surprising, given Scott’s reluctance to indulge detailed interviews in Florida. He routinely “gaggles” — takes questions from scrums of reporters at his public events — but his Cleveland interviews were sit-down affairs, held back-to-back-to-back. Scott also held several gaggles, including impromptu ones. The interviews — before and after Scott’s Wednesday night convention speech — didn’t just boost his national profile. He also spoke to local Florida TV stations covering the convention. He even went on the air in Kansas, the state where he spent his childhood.

TAMPA WOMAN (OUR FRIEND DEBBIE COX-ROUSH) PLAYS PIVOTAL ROLE AT RNC via Julie Gargotta of Bay News 9 – Four years ago … Deborah Cox-Roush was the volunteer coordinator for the last Republican National Convention in her hometown. This year, she received an even bigger invite. “I packed my bags, left my dog, my husband and I came to Cleveland,” she said. “But, what a beautiful city. They’ve been so welcoming.” That was five and half months ago, and this week has been filled with sunshine and a lot of work for Rousch: 15-hour days, wrangling 1,200 volunteers. “We have everything from way finders, greeters, credential checks, transportation,” she said. “They’re the first impression and the last impression.” Rousch said roughly 60 percent of volunteers come from out of state, paying their own way to put in the hours in Cleveland. Many of those volunteers, she noted, are repeats from the last convention. “From the out in, these volunteers make this convention happen,” she said. “It takes all of us working together. We had four-and-a-half, five weeks instead of the usual six to eight weeks, because of the Cavs (NBA title) wonderful win. It’s been crunch, but a great time.”

ROGER STONE CRASHES THE YOUNG TURKS BROADCAST AND EVERYONE WENT NUTS via Mediate – The progressive political show The Young Turks faced off with the far-far-far-right Alex Jones and Roger Stone at the RNC today. It was, um… just wow. Jones crashed the Young Turks live broadcast and teased them a little. Cenk Uygur got combative with Jones, told him off, and they started arguing. Jones handed Uygur a Bill Clinton “RAPE” shirt, which caused Uygur to grab his microphone and tell him 1) that he’s “sick” and 2) that Trump has been accused of rape too. Stone jumped in to back up Jones, and that’s when things got nuts.

40.1 PERCENT — Probability of Trump winning the presidency of the United States of America, according to the latest FiveThirtyEight polls-plus projection.

TRUMP TAUNTS GOP IN PRIVATE DONOR MEETING via Alex Isenstadt, Rachael Bade and Andrew Restuccia of POLITICO – During a luncheon with 300 top donors just blocks from the convention center … Trump said the Republican National Committee wanted him to sign a loyalty pledge last year because it was afraid he’d run as an independent and it knew he would beat the GOP’s candidates. “I was the only one who wasn’t going to sign the pledge, and Reince [Priebus] is going crazy because he thought I was going to run independent, and if I ran independent I promise you the Republicans would have had zero chance, OK?” he said. Laughter lit up from the audience. “So Reince every day… was calling, asking me to sign the pledge. And so I said, ‘You know what, I’ll sign, but only if everyone else does.’ And so I did, and everybody else did. … The pledge was only because of me.” He pledged to work hard for the party as the nominee … Trump also laid into Ted Cruz‘s performance … when the Texas senator refused to endorse him and encouraged conservatives to “vote your conscience” … “Honestly, it could have been a career-ending thing, what he did,” Trump said of Cruz. “He got booed out. His Texas delegation was expecting him to and really thought he was going to endorse. Honestly, I don’t care.”

TRUMP BLESSES MAJOR SUPER PAC EFFORT via Alex Isenstadt and Ken Vogel of POLITICO –  Trump spent the primary bashing major donors and insisting he didn’t want super PAC help, but his campaign … signaled that it has dropped its opposition to both and is now openly encouraging donors to give to a super PAC that has raised $5 million in recent days. At a meeting of about 30 major donors organized by a pro-Trump super PAC called Rebuilding America Now PAC, operatives displayed a slide that offered an overt endorsement from Trump’s vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence. … Trump’s top strategist Paul Manafort called into the meeting to discuss the campaign and make clear that the PAC was the only one he is addressing.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I-4 CORRIDOR IS “BIG ENCHILADA IN NOVEMBER” via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida – Karen Giorno, Donald Trump’s national campaign adviser and former Florida campaign director, says the GOP presidential nominee is eyeing Florida’s I-4 corridor as “the big enchilada” in winning the state in November, Bay News 9 reported Thursday night. “That’s what we call the big enchilada,” she told the St. Petersburg TV station. “You have to win it. But, all of Florida matters.” She told the TV station that the Trump campaign is finalizing plans for an event in South Florida next week.

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HILLARY CLINTON IN THE SUNSHINE STATE; WILL SHE ANNOUNCE VP?

Just days before she is nominated for the Democratic nomination for president in Philadelphia, Clinton comes to Florida today three events over the next 24 hours – and is expected to name her running mate before leaving the Sunshine State Saturday afternoon.

The former secretary of state comes to Orlando and Tampa today. The Orlando event is not a public event, so you can probably surmise that the VP choice will not be unveiled there.

At 4:30 p.m., Clinton will give a speech on the economy at the Florida State Fairgrounds Fox, a spacious room that Bernie Sanders drew an estimated 8,000-10,000 people back in March. And on Saturday, Clinton will speak at noon at a rally at Florida International University.

Speculation continues to center around Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as being Clinton’s top choice. The 58-year-old Kaine appears to check off a variety of boxes; he has executive and foreign policy experience as a former governor and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.He also chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2009-2011, gaining media exposure and national campaigning and fundraising experience. And he speaks Spanish, something his supporters often mentioned.

A surprising number two on some short lists is Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the former two-term governor of Iowa, who might be expected to help with the white male vote for Clinton in the Midwest.

Both Kaine and Vilsack are white males, and considered extremely safe picks.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez and HUD Secretary Julian Castro – two Latinos – are also believed to still be in the mix. Clinton has also met with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in the past week. Although Elizabeth Warren would excite the base (and is already scheduled to speak at a La Raza event in Orlando on Saturday), she isn’t considered to be on the short list.

TWEET, TWEET:

CLINTON VP TWEET

TIM KAINE EMERGES AS FAVORITE IN HILLARY CLINTON’S VP SEARCH via The Associated Press – Kaine … has been a favorite for the vice presidential slot since the start of Clinton‘s search process. He has been active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs and built a reputation for working across the aisle as Virginia’s governor and mayor of Richmond. “I’m glad the waiting game is nearly over,” Kaine told reporters … deflecting questions about whether he was about to join the ticket. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a longtime friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton, is still in the mix, according to one of the two Democrats, who is close to the Clintons. Kaine’s selection would not be without complication. Liberals have expressed wariness of Kaine for his support of putting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on a “fast track” to approval, which both Clinton and primary rival Bernie Sanders oppose. They also note that Kaine recently signed onto a letter asking for less burdensome regulation of regional banks. But President Obama has told the campaign he believes Kaine would be a strong choice.

KAINE MAY NOT BE LIBERALS’ FIRST CHOICE AS HILLARY CLINTON’S NO. 2 via Amy Chozick of The New York Times — One group is already disappointed at the prospect of Kaine on the Democratic ticket: liberals. Many of the groups that backed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in his Democratic contest against Clinton had hoped she would extend an olive branch to the liberal wing of the party and choose a vice-presidential candidate whose stances on Wall Street and global trade deals closely aligned with Sanders … with the Democratic National Convention beginning in Philadelphia … the prospects have dimmed for the two liberal senators who were being considered, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown. That has led to more liberal scrutiny of Kaine’s record … Kaine has been an outspoken advocate of free trade and has defended the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many voters in Rust Belt states blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico. He voted in support of “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact that President Obama has championed.

CLINTON ‘CAN LOSE’ FLORIDA, STILL WIN WHITE HOUSE via Nick Gass of POLITICO– Clinton can fall short of victory in three major swing states and still beat Donald Trump in November, according to former 2008 Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. “Hillary Clinton can lose Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and I think she’ll win all three, and still be president,” Plouffe remarked during a Bloomberg Politics event in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention. While acknowledging that Clinton has an “enthusiasm” issue, Plouffe predicted that the presumptive nominee’s poll numbers will improve after next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The election will not be close, Plouffe said, because although the Clinton campaign’s voter models are not as sophisticated as Obama’s, they are miles ahead of the Trump campaign in that respect. “The truth is the Clinton campaign knows almost with certainty who is going to vote in this election” and how they will do so, Plouffe added.

CLINTON HAS MORE CASH; TRUMP FORGIVES LOANS via the Associated Press – Clinton and her party entered July with nearly $11 million more on hand than her Republican counterpart’s operations, a strong showing of fundraising as both campaigns dive into the general election … Trump also zeroed-out more than $47 million in personal loans he’s made to his own campaign since last year. Trump and the Republican Party … had $41 million cash on hand compared with Clinton and the Democrats’ $52 million … Despite being outraised by Clinton, Trump had more appeal among small donors. He raised more than $12.1 million from contributors giving $200 or less, since making his first-ever appeal for online contributions June 21. That small-donor harvest was about double Clinton’s, despite Trump’s late start. Trump’s haul comes after a disappointing May report, during which the billionaire’s campaign finished with only $1.3 million to spend. On the GOP side, the Republican Party made up about half — or roughly $21 million — of the available cash on hand. For the Democrats, Clinton’s own fundraising accounted for most of the money left in the bank at the beginning of July. She had $44 million to spend.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Gwen Graham will kick off a “Stronger Together” phone bank for Hillary Clinton at 2 p.m. at the Hillary for America Tallahassee Headquarters, 302 W. Jefferson St. in Tallahassee. Media interested in attending should RSVP with  kallen@hillaryclinton.com. 

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JOE BIDEN TO RETURN TO TALLAHASSEE via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Biden will return to Tallahassee in August to campaign with … Patrick Murphy. The South Florida congressman is locked in a primary battle with Congressman Alan Grayson. It will be Biden’s third visit to the capital city. He campaigned here as a candidate in 2008, poking fun at protesters during an appearance at Florida State University’s Langford Green and reminding his audience of the need to come together after the election. He returned in 2012 to discuss a higher education affordability plan with Florida State University students and staff.

PATRICK MURPHY, ALAN GRAYSON AGREE TO U.S. SENATE PRIMARY DEBATE via Kristen Clark and Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald — Murphy and Grayson have accepted invitations to participate in a Democratic primary debate next month on an Orlando TV station. The debate is set to be a taped one-hour event sponsored by WFTV News. It is expected to air Aug. 12, with anchor Greg Warmoth moderating. It’s not clear which other Democratic candidates were invited to participate. Also in the Democratic race are Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith, former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster and California real estate developer “Rocky” Roque De La Fuente. Murphy’s campaign, in particular, has been called out for being difficult. Murphy declined to participate in both a Aug. 3 debate for Orlando public radio station WMFE and in the Grayson-Jolly debate. For the latter, Murphy’s campaign contended he was never invited, but the debate sponsor provided emails that proved otherwise. No debates have been scheduled on the Republican side, between incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and challenger Carlos Beruff.

MARCO RUBIO’S MAJOR TALLAHASSEE FUNDRAISER PLANNED FOR AUGUST 22:

rubio, marco - fundraiser in tally

CARLOS BERUFF LOOKING FOR THAT TRUMP/RICK SCOTT COATTAILS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – In a modestly housed and attended town hall meeting in Orlando … Beruff made it clear he’s still striving for that image identifying him as the outside warrior, Trump/Scott-style candidate. Beruff, whose chances … primary plummeted when incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio filed late for re-election in late June, showed he has lost little of his “I’m-not-Washington” swagger, even as the appearance showed his campaign looking like it might have been in the opening days of a seven-month run, not in the closing weeks. His town hall meeting was held in the backroom of a small, noisy downtown Orlando pizza parlor. It was attended by only 14 or 15 citizens, not including three or four local Republican officials and candidates who came to support or watch him. Almost all of the regular voters there were over 70. And many seethed the kind of anger common among Trump supporters, in this case, aimed almost equally at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Rubio, whom many blamed for having abandoned them and his conservative promises of 2010. The 58-year-old homebuilder from Bradenton made it clear he felt their pain, as well as his own, after he saw Rubio jump in with millions of dollars and legions of party regulars. “Me, I have to work to get people to come hear me,” Beruff said. “I’m Carlos Nobody, right?”

SAVE THE DATE: Republican Neal Dunn, running for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, hosts a fundraising reception Monday, July 25, beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Haughty Heron, 117 Sailors Cove Dr. in Port St. Joe. Information and RSVP with Ieva Smidt at 850-567-8022 or Ieva@flfstrategies.com.

NEW KATHLEEN PASSIDOMO AD FEATURES RICK SCOTT ­— In a new advertisement, called “Leadership,” Gov. Scott highlights Passidomo’s work in the Florida Legislature. “Kathleen Passidomo is someone I’ve had the opportunity to work with for six sessions and she does an outstanding job. She’s one of the hardest working members of the Legislature that I’ve dealt with,” the governor says in the advertisement. The 30-second spot also features local leaders who commend her work for the community. Passidomo faces Matt Hudson in the Senate District 28 primary.

REGGIE FULLWOOD RAMPS UP HOUSE CAMPAIGN WHILE CASE IS PENDING via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Fullwood, running for re-election despite a 14-count federal indictment, finds himself one of the rare incumbents this year to face both a tough primary and, if he wins that, a formidable candidate in the general election. Fullwood’s campaign was slow to ramp up while he and his lawyers dealt with the indictment on fraud and failure to file tax return charges. He pleaded not guilty. Over the past month though, Fullwood has become more visible on social media. His website launched this week. While he retreated from the public eye, other candidates launched campaigns not knowing if the incumbent would stay in the race or not.

JOE DAVIDOW SAYS HE’S TELLING ‘TRUTH’ ABOUT BYRON DONALDS IN HD 80 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – A new website — called LyinByron.com — launched this week to inform voters about Donalds’ criminal record. According to the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, the website is a “political advertisement paid for and approved by” Davidow, who is running against Donalds in House District 80. “Someone has got to say something. We didn’t have a choice,” said Davidow … “It’s not mudslinging. This is a fact. The voters have a right to know about it. I would be concerned if I was a voter.” Donalds was arrested in 1997 for possession of marijuana. The case was put into pre-trial diversion, and Leon County court records show he paid a $150 fee. He pleaded no contest to bribery in 2000 and served two years of probation. Those records were sealed, Donalds told a FOX 4 reporter in 2014. “If I had that on my background, I couldn’t be licensed to be an attorney,” said Davidow, a trial attorney. Donalds said he was “thoroughly looked at” when he applied, and he was “still appointed and confirmed” by the governor and the Florida Senate. “My opponent is obviously desperate. He knows he’s losing and this is what happens,” said Donalds … “I’ve never been proud of the mistakes I’ve made when I was a young kid. It was 20 years ago. I’ve changed my life and moved on.”

ENDORSEMENT WATCH

Greg Evers, running for Florida’s 1st Congressional District, has been endorsed by conservative leader John Stemberger.

Jonathan Chane, running for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Matt Hudson, running in Senate District 28, has received the endorsement of the Eagle Forum PAC.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Rubio will attend a dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Port Tampa Bay, 2002 Maritime Boulevard, 17680 Ashley Drive in Tampa. Reporters interested in covering the event and joining Rubio on a tour must arrive at the port entrance no later than 9:15 a.m. Media must RSVP to Andy Fobes, afobes@tampaport.com, with full name, organization and drivers license number.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce June jobs numbers at 10:30 a.m. at the Port Tampa Bay, 2002 Maritime Boulevard in Tampa. Media interested in attending should RSVP to Andy Fobes at afobes@tampaport.com.

PAM BONDI JOINS FEDS IN LAWSUIT TO BLOCK MAJOR HEALTH INSURANCE MERGER via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Bondi is joining an effort to block the merger of two of Florida’s largest health insurers. A lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice, eight states and Washington, D.C., says that the $37 million deal for Aetna to acquire Humana would hurt competition and increase insurance prices across the country. It’s an odd move for Bondi to join forces with the federal government. Under her leadership as attorney general, the state has joined or filed several lawsuits contesting the Obama administration’s immigration policy and Environmental Protection Agency rules. Last year, she and Gov. Scott sued the federal government over health care funding, claiming the Obama administration was “coercing” the state into expanding Medicaid. “Competition in our health insurance markets is crucial to keeping premiums down and the quality of care up, particularly when it comes to our seniors and other vulnerable populations, the individuals most affected by this proposed acquisition,” Bondi said in a statement. “It is important that we do everything we can to preserve competition in these markets.” In particular, the governments behind the lawsuit say less competition could hurt seniors and low-income families who buy health coverage from the insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, according to a court filing.

VETERANS’ AGENCY OPENING BRINGS RANGE OF APPLICANTS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – More than 300 applications now have been turned in for the open position of head of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, records show. The application deadline was Friday. Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet — Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — will make the final pick. The last high-profile vacancy, for state insurance commissioner, also brought out a variety of interested parties, from pharmaceutical executives and business consultants, to a bail bondsman and an engineer. David Altmaier, a former deputy commissioner, eventually was promoted. Some names for the veterans’ post are expected: Glenn Sutphin, who is interim executive director of the department, applied for the permanent position. Others, perhaps even most, are the equivalent of “Hail Mary” passes. Take Tameka Collins-Smith, a programs director for Leon County, who submitted two applications for the job.

BRAZILIAN SCIENTISTS ID COMMON MOSQUITO AS A ZIKA SOURCE via The Associated Press — Brazilian researchers … found that another species of mosquito is able to transmit the Zika virus to humans. Fiocruz institute said that additional studies will be needed to determine what role the widespread Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has played in the Zika epidemic. The research was done at Recife, a city in the Zika epicenter of northeastern Brazil where the Culex is 20 times more common than the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The researchers collected hundreds of the Culex from the city and found Zika in some. The Aedes aegypti has been seen as the main spreader of Zika. Most of Brazil’s anti-Zika initiatives are aimed at that bug, which also transmits dengue fever and Chikungunya. A related mosquito, Aedes albopictus, has also been found to be capable of spreading Zika. But health officials say it has not been a significant source of Zika transmission. The latest finding could complicate efforts to limit the Zika epidemic. However, Fiocruz chairman Paulo Gadelha said he is still cautious about the findings since another study of Zika virus presence in Culex mosquitoes made in Rio de Janeiro has not indicated contamination so far. One of the possible reasons why is that Culex mosquitoes in Recife may have a genetic variation that makes them different from those in Rio or elsewhere, the institute said. Other studies have suggested Culex may not be good at spreading Zika.

FEDS TO VIEW ORLANDO ZIKA EFFORTS via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will visit the Orlando Mosquito Control District Monday to review their efforts to combat Zika and alert the public to ways to prevent the virus from spreading. Scott has urged Obama to issue executive orders to bypass Congress to fund Zika kits from the Centers for Disease Control, new mosquito control equipment and lab work to discover a vaccine. Congress has adjourned for summer vacation until September without funding a Zika package. Obama, who originally asked Congress for a $2.9 billion Zika bill in February, didn’t respond to Scott until this week, when a Zika case in Miami was suspected of being contracted locally. Health authorities haven’t yet ruled it out as a travel-related case.

ONEBLOOD TO START TESTING BLOOD DONORS FOR ZIKA VIRUS via the Tampa Bay Times – The goal, OneBlood said, is to have Zika-screened blood available for high-risk patients like pregnant women if Florida experiences an outbreak … state health officials announced that they were investigating a possible non-travel-related case of the mosquito-borne virus in Miami-Dade County. If confirmed, it could be the first local transmission of Zika in the United States. Hundreds of other cases have involved people who traveled and contracted the virus in other countries. OneBlood said if any mosquitoes in Miami-Dade are confirmed to have Zika, it will stop collecting donations in the immediate area and bring in blood from areas free of the virus.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER ATTENDS FIRST HEALTH ADVISORY BOARD MEETING EAGER TO LEARN via Christine Sexton of POLITICO – Commissioner David Altmaier met for the first time with members of the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board … telling the group he wants to learn everything he can about an area of insurance that is new to him as an insurance regulator. “I am very much looking forward to the new dynamics, – I guess existing dynamics, new to me – of the health insurance marketplace here in Florida,” said Altmaier, whose experience over the past seven years was in property insurance. He started his new job April 29. The advisory board briefly discussed issues in connection with its 2017 legislative recommendations, but did not take up any votes … navigators report that families cannot tap into subsidized insurance coverage on the health insurance exchange if a working adult in the family has access to affordable employer- sponsored coverage. What is affordable to an employee – whose insurance is offset by their employer – isn’t always affordable for the employee’s family members … FHIAB member Joan Galletta said changes should be made to make it clear that employers can offer employee-only coverage, which should make families eligible for subsidies on the exchange. Moreover, she said the Legislature should consider addressing whether its consumer-friendly to offer coverage to employees at 25 hours and that the benchmarks should be moved to 30 hours. That means that more employees could qualify for subsidies through the exchange if they weren’t offered employer-sponsored insurance.

BOYD GAMING QUITS ITS TALLAHASSEE LOBBYISTS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Nevada-based gambling operator “canceled” its representation by The Mayernick Group last Monday, lobbying registration records show. Firm principal Frank Mayernick declined comment and Boyd spokesman David Strow did not respond to an email or phone call. The company has nine casinos in Las Vegas, one in Atlantic City and 12 others across the South and Midwest, according to its website. It once was part-owner of Dania Casino & Jai Alai in South Florida but sold its interest to a team of investors in Argentina three years ago. Since then, Boyd had sought to put up a new casino adjacent to the Florida Panthers’ arena and the Sawgrass Mills shopping center in Broward County. But its plans, like other casino operators’, idled under a Legislature that historically has choked in the face of any gambling-related legislation.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ERIN HELLKAMP POWER MOVES TO FRLA via Florida Politics – Power joined the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association as its new press secretary on Wednesday. Power previously was an associate lobbyist with Guy Spearman at his Spearman Management Inc. “This is an exciting change for me,” she said in an email. “I am very much looking forward to the challenge and opportunities that this job will provide.” Power, a 2009 graduate of the University of Central Florida, also was public policy director for the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association. She married Evan Power, a lobbyist with Ramba Consulting Group, last month.

CENTRAL FLORIDA FUTURE TO CEASE PUBLICATION via Carolyn Glenn of Central Florida Future – After 48 years in circulation, the Central Florida Future will cease publication. The student-run paper, which serves the University of Central Florida and its 63,000 students, will print its last issue Aug. 4. “The recent investments Gannett has been making to build out the USA TODAY Network nationally and in the state of Florida have created new demands for our time and attention,” said Jeff Kiel, Gannett’s regional president. Owned and operated by FLORIDA TODAY in Melbourne, the Future is a multi-award-winning publication. Most recently, it was named a national finalist for “Best All-Around Non Daily Student Newspaper” by the Society of Professional Journalists. Additionally, it was a Mark of Excellence Award winner for feature writing, breaking news reporting and in-depth reporting in its region this year.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Audubon Florida’s Eric Draper, Jamie Miller, Missy Timmins, and Creative Loafing’s David Warner. Celebrating this weekend is Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice and Mike Fernandez.

JARED LETO’S JOKER GETS A CLOSER LOOK IN NEW TEASER — Leto’s take on legendary “Batman” villain The Joker in “Suicide Squad” will be the third time the character has hit the big screen, and while the actor has some big shoes to fill following Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger‘s iconic performances, based on everything we’ve seen so far, Leto looks more than up to the challenge. Now, a new teaser for the villain team-up flick is giving fans a closer peek at the character ahead of the film’s release next month.

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