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,,, 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.

Brian Burgess launching news and aggregation platform “The Capitolist”

Florida politico Brian Burgess is launching a new center-right political news aggregation platform called The Capitolist.

Burgess, a media consultant and former spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, is touting the new venture as the app for people “whose business is politics.” It will aggregate traditional and new media news stories and feature original content, usually with a conservative bent.

Burgess will serve as the publisher and editor-in-chief, while Texas-based political consultant and conservative journalist Sarah Rumpf will be editor-at-large.

“The idea is a one-stop shop for people who need local political information in the news,” Burgess told He aims to bring readers “everything that’s out there in the cleanest, simplest way possible.”

He said sites like and POLITICO Florida have massively expanded the pool of what’s available for readers hungry for campaign and public policy stories in recent years, but felt there is a lack of an “authoritative conservative voice” to curate it.

Burgess is especially keen to bring local news to institutional players like lobbyists and campaign operatives about developments like candidates entering races, polling, and fundraising activity.

“That’s especially important for people who do this for a living,” said Burgess, “for folks to be able to make informed decisions about where they make political contributions, which matters a great deal to a lot of people in Tallahassee and around the state.”

Burgess is also hopeful he will be able to leverage his relationships with the Scott administration — where he maintains deep ties from his time in the Governor’s Office — as well as a substantial network of clients of his Right Hook Consulting firm to generate original news stories and perspective.

Burgess has a history of innovating in political media. While serving as a spokesman for Johnson County, Kansas District Attorney Phil Kline, Burgess brought in nascent techniques like mass emails and public town hall meetings to take his office’s message directly to the public.

Florida State University student Dennis Ragosta will also contribute writing and technical support to the platform.

The Capitolist app is available for iPhone on the iTunes or the Android app on Google Play.

Sunburn for 6.29.16 – Happy birthday, Sarah Bascom

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

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


Your friends in The Process would like to wish you a happy birthday:

“It’s always special to work with family, even more special when they’re the best in the business. I know I speak for many, many people — Republicans and Democrats — in wishing her a very happy birthday.” — David Jolly

“Shakespeare wrote, ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce!’ That is how I see Sarah Bascom. To say I’m proud of her would be a major understatement. I have been fortunate enough in the past 16 years to hire her, mentor her, work alongside her and, more importantly, to call her one of my dearest friends. To see her grow into this amazing professional, respected far and wide by leaders and competitors, as well as a wonderful mother and wife, has been incredibly rewarding to witness. Happy birthday, Sparky!  I hope you have a wonderful day and year ahead. Stay fierce. – Gus Corbella

“Happy Birthday to my fellow survivor of those advising the late, great Jim King during that summer and fall of 2003 special sessions – all the wonderful debate over medical malpractice and workers compensation….quite the show behind the scenes and a wonderful job handling Senate comms.” — Charlie Dudley

“Happiest of Birthdays to my dearest friend Sarah Bascom.  Actually, let me take that back, she is more than just a friend, she, Mike and Kate have become our second family.  Rob, Peyton and I are feel so fortunate to have such great friends. Whether we are vacationing together, working on the same team, or actually working different sides of an issue, we have fun!  Professionally she is a force to be reckoned with and she is as kind as she is tough.  Happy birthday my dearest friend Sarah…. Here is to cheers and champs poolside or beachside!” — Alia Faraj-Johnson and the rest of the Johnson family

“To one of the kindest and caring professionals in the business, it has been a pleasure to work with you and watch you grow to become the best in your field! Happy Birthday Sarah!” — Jeff Hartley

“Happy Birthday to someone who is at the top of her game and still makes time to selflessly care for family and friends. Hope you have a wonderful day Sarah!” — Nick Iarossi

“Hoary birthday Sarah. You’ve been a great friend and I look forward to many more years of great friendship with you.” — Kim McDougal

“Happy Birthday to the amazing Sarah Bascom. She is one of the most creative and organized people I have ever known. When you are on a team with Sarah, you will laugh your head off and you’ll also win. I am so grateful for her friendship and her advice over the years.” — Kathy Mears

“My little sister who I know well enough to not screw around with about her age or her birthday. Happy 46th Sarah! Love you!” – Rhett O’Doski

“Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Sarah. To the woman who taught me that sometimes a situation calls for a little more prayer but sometimes a cocktail will do. One of the most kind and generous women I’ve ever met and who finally after several years has acquiesced that vodka DOES indeed belong in the freezer next to the waffles.” — Teye Reeves

“Happy Birthday Sarah. As indispensable as you are in any big communications battle, on this special day I just want you to know how much I value your friendship. Have a great one!” — Marc Reichelderfer

“Happy birthday to the girl who does it all – being a terrific mom and amazing business woman! I am proud to have you as my friend. Cheers and loves — Katie Webb, Fulton and Anna

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

$1.1 BILLION FOR ZIKA AID BLOCKED IN SENATE via Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call – Democrats objected to added provisions that would limit funding for birth control, allow pesticide spraying near water sources and raise the Confederate flag … The conference report on Zika spending, which Democrats said was developed without their input, failed to receive the 60 votes needed to shut off debate … “Here’s where we are, we have a public health crisis descending on this country,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, accusing Democrats of playing “political games.” He said the Senate would reconsider the same measure next week after returning from recess July 7. “This Republican conference report is disgraceful, shameful,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said earlier. He and other Senate Democrats send a letter asking their GOP colleagues to work together on a bipartisan plan they could all support. “We are fully committed to working with you to negotiate a response that sufficiently rises to this challenge. To that end we are ready and willing to immediately join you in a new round of negotiations on a truly effective, bipartisan package,” wrote the members of the Senate Democratic leadership in a letter to McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan. In addition to Reid, Minority Whip Richard DurbinCharles Schumer and Patty Murray signed the letter.


Bill Nelson: “Four months after the request for emergency funding, the House in the dark of the middle of the night, with no opportunity for debate, puts on an otherwise uncontroversial bill, a bill to deal with the virus. It’s not serious. Instead, it’s another attempt to use an emergency must-pass bill to try to further extremist political agendas. Why can’t we grow up and get to the point that we don’t want to play partisan politics? We need to stop playing these political games. It’s time to treat this as a real emergency and it’s time to pass the appropriations bill without all of this political agenda added to it.”

Marco Rubio: “Shame on Washington for failing to pass Zika funding. We’ve been on top of this issue for five months, and it’s a failure of both parties in this town, including the President of the United States, that it’s taken this long to even get to this point. This total Washington leadership failure will have devastating consequences on those Americans already infected with Zika and many more who will become infected in the coming months. I realize this was not a perfect Zika bill, but getting this plan approved now is absolutely better than nothing. We need to get something done here, and we need to do it quickly.”

Vern Buchanan: “Senate Democrats are voting against Zika funds in order to protect Obamacare money earmarked for Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. This is the very definition of partisan lunacy. Senator Harry Reid has put politics ahead of public health.”

WHY CONGRESS IS PROBABLY NOT APPROVING ANY ZIKA FUNDING THIS SUMMER via Amber Phillips of The Washington Post – Senate Democrats blocked a funding package that had already passed the House of Representatives, saying the bill was filled with other political goodies for Republicans that Democrats simply couldn’t support. The end result will probably be that Congress leaves town for most of July and August without approving any funding that government health officials say they badly need to keep Americans safe from the Zika virus — and, by extension, Zika could become a campaign issue this November on both sides. The Obama administration wanted $1.9 billion in new funds, and I explained why they were most definitely not going to get it … But lawmakers did find a compromise: They settled on $1.1 billion. The Senate passed a version last month, and House lawmakers passed their own version last week that was offset by some $750 million in savings — including cuts to the Affordable Care Act and yet-unused money for the now-passed Ebola scare. Depending who you’re talking to, the additions to the House bill would end up derailing the entire thing. As the funding package was passing the House of Representatives last week, Senate Democrats actually walked away from the negotiations. As is often the case in Congress, this funding bill was attached to a larger, unrelated bill — this one funding veterans and the military. And as often the case in Congress, House leaders shaped the bill so that a majority would vote for it; in a conservative House, that meant making the bill more amenable to conservatives. The end result was a proposal Democrats said was untenable.

MEANWHILE … FIRST BABY WITH ZIKA LINKED MICROCEPHALY BORN IN FLORIDA via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – A Florida woman infected with the Zika virus has given birth to a baby with microcephaly, a condition causing abnormally small heads and developmental defects … Gov. Scott was in West Palm Beach to listen to local politicians and mosquito control experts, hear their ideas, and find out what they need. The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause fever, rash and joint pain for about seven to 10 days and can also be transmitted sexually. The governor signed an executive order last week freeing up $26.2 million in state funding to pay for mosquito control training and equipment, Zika preparedness kits and increased lab capacity.

CLINT REED WILL SERVE AS MARCO RUBIO’S CAMPAIGN MANAGER via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Reed was highly regarded on the presidential side, starting as Iowa director and playing roles in South Carolina and Florida … The rest of the Rubio team is coming into focus … Alex Conant will be a communications consultant … Todd Harris, will be a general consultant … Anna Rogers Duncan, will head up fundraising … Ana Carbonell is described campaign adviser … Brian Swensen is deputy campaign manager and political director … Jeff Sadosky, who was spokesman for the Conservative Solutions super PAC backing Rubio for president. Longtime Rubio strategist Heath Thompson and pollster Whit Ayres will advise the super PAC, Florida First Project. Dorinda Moss, who led Rubio’s presidential finance effort, will serve as finance director. Conservative Solutions PAC veteran Warren Tompkins will direct Florida First Project, while Conservative Solutions PAC strategist Mark Harris will serve as an adviser.

OP-ED OF THE DAY – RUBIO THE FLIP FLOPPER via Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times – It is certainly true that some very sage and astute political observers have noted that Florida’s plebe Republican senator’s decision days ago to run for re-election amounted to the mother of all flip-flops, rivaling John Kerry trying to pick out a tie … Rubio had very affirmatively insisted there was no way he would remotely consider a second term since Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, his dearest, closest, most beloved friend in the world, was already in the race to succeed him. This snickering is getting way out of hand. Stop it. Really now, Rubio is a walking GEICO commercial. He’s a cravenly ambitious politician who has spent less time in the private sector than Queen Elizabeth. He runs for office. That’s what he does. You can’t deny that Rubio enters the 2016 re-election campaign with a gale-force political wind at his back. After all, the Rubio juggernaut managed to lose the Florida primary to Donald Trump, capturing only 27 percent of the vote and winning just one of the state’s 67 counties, his home base in Miami-Dade. Now there’s an Alf Landon-esque mandate for you. And yet Rubio offers himself up for another six-year term based on a legislative record of accomplishment that compares quite favorably with the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea … it’s reasonable to ask why a politician like Rubio, who spent so much time as a senator grousing about what a lousy, stinking job it was, wants to return to something he found so unsatisfying — that is, whenever he bothered to come into the office. What were Rubio’s options anyway? Private law practice? Please, no one has ever confused this chap with Louis Brandeis. And no one was ever elected president because they were so widely respected as a lobbyist-for-hire … the only avenue left to him to someday have a job where they play music every time you walk into a room is by trying to stick around in a place, by his own admission, he can’t stand. How can anyone not be inspired by Rubio’s courageous willingness to serve once more on behalf of himself?

RUBIO ON DONALD TRUMP: “I DON’T INTEND TO SPURN HIM OR DENIGRATE HIM” via Tarini Parti of BuzzFeed News – “Anyone who watched the last 11 months is aware that Donald and I have some policy disagreements, and by the way I’m capable of working with people whom I disagree with on things,” Rubio said on a National Republican Senatorial Committee conference call … “So I guess the way I’ve told everyone is that I disagree with Donald Trump on a few things — there’s no doubt about it. But I disagree with Hillary Clinton on everything. I mean virtually everything.” Rubio continued that he had established his own identity from Trump while running for president and blamed the media for the narrative of characterizing the billionaire as a liability at the top of the ticket. “I have my own identity of course to the extent that there are those that have any problems … I think that’s something that’s a bigger issue for the media than it will be for our campaign.”

FLORIDA DECIDES POLL: RUBIO, PATRICK MURPHY NECK AND NECK IN SENATE RACE via Dalia Dangerfield and Audrea Huff of Bay News 9 – According to the results of a Florida Decides poll conducted June 25-27, Rubio and Murphy both would earn 43 percent of the vote, if the November general election for Senate were today. Another 8 percent of those surveyed were undecided. Rubio is far ahead of his Republican rivals in the Aug. 30GOP primary, according to the Florida Decides poll. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed would vote for Rubio. Another 13 percent are undecided. His next closest rival, Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff, would get 11 percent of the vote. On the Democratic side, about 35 percent of those surveyed said they were undecided, if the primary were held today. But Murphy is ahead of Alan Grayson, 30 percent to 21 percent, in that primary.

CARLOS BERUFF TRAILING BADLY TO RUBIO, 73% TO 6%, ACCORDING TO NEW POLL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – A survey by Gainesville-based GOP polling firm Data Targeting, done on the day before and the day of Rubio’s announcement last week he would be re-entering the race, has Rubio up big over Beruff, 73 to 6 percent. Broken down further, 54 percent would definitely vote for Rubio, 18 percent probably vote for him, and 1 percent is leaning toward the GOP incumbent. Breaking down Beruff’s support shows that only 2 percent would definitely vote for the Bradenton developer, 3 percent would probably vote for him, and 1 percent lean toward him. The poll also included former combat military veteran and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox in the mix. Only 6 percent supported him in the survey. Of course, Wilcox had yet to spend any money on television and reports indicate limited spending associated with online advertising. Beruff has been the only candidate in the race to go up early with TV ads, but the millions spent don’t seem to have much of a dent with the Florida electorate. The poll shows that 76 percent of those surveyed have no idea who he is.

MY TAKE – POLLING STRONG SUGGESTS BERUFF SHOULD DROP OUT – Beruff has already spent a small fortune on his campaign, and that first poll shows him at just 6 percent with Republican voters. That’s $1.5 million a point.

The second survey is actually the more damning. It’s from television stations Bay News 9 and My News 13 and it also shows Beruff trailing Rubio badly, 63 percent to 11 percent. But trailing Rubio by 52 points is not the worse part of that poll for Beruff. It’s the fact that he’s just one point ahead of a man named Dwight Young, whom, and I write this as someone who lives and breathes Florida politics, I’ve never heard of. He doesn’t even really register in Google News or Lexus-Nexus.

Young’s website, which looks to have been built in 2006, touts his motto, which evokes the 19th century Republican Party, “Free soil, free speech, free labor, free men.”

Four million dollars spent by Beruff’s brain trust of Curt Anderson and Melissa Sellers and he is just one point ahead of a tomato can.

Beruff is in such bad shape, at least according to the Bay News 9/My News 13 poll, that he almost has to stop worrying about catching Rubio and focus on remaining in second place.

Again, Beruff is an accomplished man. There is no shame in admitting that there was no catching Rubio without the entire political universe lined up behind him. But there will be shame and embarrassment if Beruff spends $20-$25 million and all he has to show for it is a T-shirt.

Mr. Beruff, for your own sake, take the holiday weekend to assess where your campaign is. Then, come Tuesday morning after the 4th of July, have Anderson leak to POLITICO that you will be dropping out of the race.

The numbers, at this point, do not lie.

NRSC ATTACK PATRICK MURPHY’S ‘CAREER BUILT ON LIES’ via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a new TV ad condemning what it described as Murphy‘s “career built on lies.” The ad will run over the next two weeks in the Washington, D.C. area, the NRSC said. The group is spending about $45,000 on the airtime … Information in the 60-second spot draws largely from a scrutinizing TV investigation that aired last week … highlighted the facts that — despite Murphy’s and his campaign’s claims — Murphy never “worked” as a certified public account and he wasn’t actually a “small-business owner.” The NRSC’s ad also includes video of Murphy responding to questions by the Herald/Times about the documented discrepancies in his credentials … “What is Privileged Patrick Murphy hiding?” a narrator asks, using the nickname Republican critics use for the Jupiter congressman.

TOP TALKER — SWILLER OF GOAT BLOOD JUST ANOTHER OF THE LOUSY CHOICES RUNNING FOR MARCO’S SENATE SEAT via Fred Grimm of the Miami Herald – Not many elections offer such unpalatable choices that you might pause for a long, hard moment before dismissing Augustus Sol Invictus, the Libertarian candidate and LSD-aficionado who claims he once killed a goat in a pagan sacrifice and drank its blood. Granted, Invictus is not likely to get an endorsement from the Florida Humane Society, but a swiller of goat blood seems only marginally more dismal than the candidates for U.S. Senate offered by either the state’s Democratic or Republican Party. It had been looking good for Murphy, who had the backing of the Democratic Party establishment in the primary campaign for the seat now held by the once-but-no-longer-retiring Rubio. Especially after Murphy’s primary opponent, fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, had been disparaged by Senate minority leader Harry Reid as an unethical money monger whose “actions aren’t just disgraceful to the Democratic Party, they disgrace the halls of Congress.” But it seems that Murphy, a onetime Miami Beach party boy, has put out an official résumé that amounts to mendacious. The self-described “small-business man” was more like teensy-weenie.

CARL DOMINO SAYS HE’S THE KEVIN DURANT OF GOP CONGRESSIONAL RACE via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – With a career as a nationally known investment manager, Navy service in Vietnam and eight years of experience in the Florida state House, Domino says his resumé stands out among the Republicans running for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 congressional seat. The six Republicans agree on most issues. At a candidate forum night, Domino likened the election to a job interview with several candidates who make similar presentations. “How do you decide which one you’re going to hire? Well it’s really easy — who’s done the things already they said they’re going to? Are you going to hire Kevin Durant that’s made 27 points a game, or some guy that’s a rookie that’s made no points a game, or 2. I’ve done the things that we’re all talking about,” Domino said. Durant has averaged 27.4 points per game in his nine-year NBA career.

CLEAN ENERGY GROUP BACKS REPUBLICAN IN FLORIDA RACE via Timothy Cama of The Hill – ClearPath Action Fund, headed by conservative entrepreneur Jay Faison, highlighted the leading role freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo has played as a Republican who believes in man-made climate change and wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions. “Carlos Curbelo has quickly proven to be a leader among Republicans in protecting the environment and expanding the development of clean energy, lowering energy costs for families, creating jobs and protecting South Florida’s environment,” Faison said “We’re excited to help ensure that he remains a central figure in Congress in promoting thoughtful and sensible solutions,” he said. Along with the endorsement of Curbelo, ClearPath released a poll it commissioned that said that voters are more likely to support Curbelo over his Democratic opponent when they learn about his work on climate and clean energy.

JASON MAUGHAN DOESN’T THINK CRIMINAL PAST SHOULD IMPACT SD 27 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Maughan … was charged in 1995 with reckless endangerment in the first degree and malicious mischief in the second degree, both felonies, in a Washington court. Prosecutors later added assault and perjury charges … Maughan shot out the window of a vehicle parked on the side of the road. The vehicle was occupied, but Maughan said he didn’t realize that at the time … said he was driving to Spokane when he aimed his gun, equipped with a laser sight, at a vehicle parked on the side of the road. He said he thought the vehicle was abandoned, and wanted to see if he could see the laser of the side of the vehicle. That’s when, he said, the gun went off. One person was injured in the shooting. Law enforcement officers initially charged him with felony reckless endangerment and malicious mischief. Prosecutors also charged him with assault, and that charge appears to be added because the shooting caused bodily harm. A few months later, a perjury charge was added. Prosecutors said Maughan lied on an affidavit, saying he indicated he wasn’t married and didn’t have a source of income, when he was married. According to a June 8 Fox 4 report, all of the charges were dropped and Maughan “sued for wrongful prosecution and won a six figure settlement.” However, court records indicate only the perjury and assault charges were dropped, and Maughan eventually accepted a plea deal for reduced charges. But that wasn’t the end of the line for Maughan. Federal court records show he sued Adams County prosecutor David Sandhaus over the perjury charge in 1999. The case was settled in 2000, and Maughan was awarded a $120,000 judgement against Sandhaus. “I was embarrassed I put myself in the situation, but I ended up being a victim in the situation,” said Maughan, now a Sanibel Island attorney. Maughan said the past should remain just that. He said he has been vetted over the years, including by The Florida Bar, which cleared him to practice law in Florida.

CHUCK CLEMONS PICKS UP ENDORSEMENTS FROM PAST FLORIDA HOUSE SPEAKERS via Florida Politics – Former Republican House Speakers Larry CretulDean Cannon and Will Weatherford backed Clemonscampaign in the Gainesville-based seat currently held by Republican Rep. Keith Perry, who is running for Senate in the newly redrawn District 8. “Chuck Clemons is a committed conservative who will be an excellent state representative,” said Cretul, who served as House Speaker at the beginning of the decade. “His outstanding track record as a public servant in a variety of capacities combined with his deep personal roots in District 21 makes him uniquely qualified to be a strong leader in Tallahassee.” Cannon and Weatherford … both praised Clemons for his leadership, with Cannon adding that Clemons “has the right experience and perspective to be a very effective member of the Florida House.” “To have the support of these great Florida leaders means the world to me,” said Clemons. “Speakers Cretul, Cannon, and Weatherford have all served our state very effectively and with great integrity. I look forward to serving the residents of District 21 with their same commitment to increasing opportunity for all Floridians.”

***DINE OUT FOR ORLANDO UNITED*** This Thursday, June 30, Florida restaurants and their employees and guests will donate time and money to support Orlando’s healing. Led by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, the fundraiser, “Dine Out for Orlando United” will be a day for Floridians to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the tragedy. All proceeds raised will be donated to the OneOrlando Fund, which is designed to provide a way to respond to the needs of the local community, now and in the time to come. Check here to see if your favorite restaurant is part of the nearly 1,500 participating locations throughout the state – and don’t forget to Dine Out for Orlando United on Thursday!***

FLORIDA ON PACE TO SWELL INTO A $1 TRILLION ECONOMY via Jeff Harrington of the Tampa Bay Times – In his second-quarter forecast, UCF economist Sean Snaith said the Sunshine State is enjoying both rising job growth and home construction. The mix of aging Baby Boomers and a healthier jobs market in Florida “bodes well for continued population growth via the in-migration of workers and retirees,” he said. His analysis projects Florida’s economy will expand at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent from 2016 to 2019, outpacing the national average. That means Florida’s gross state product, or economic output, would cross the $1 trillion threshold in 2018 and climb to $1.074 trillion in 2019 … that would make Florida’s economy the 16th largest in the world … Florida has enjoyed a healthy housing recovery. Median home prices have jumped from a low of $122,200 during the housing crisis to $213,000. A shrinking inventory of homes on the market is encouraging builders. But Snaith discounted fears that another housing crisis may be brewing. “While this looks like another housing bubble, it’s really just an old-fashioned shortage in the single-family market,” he said, predicting any housing shortage will correct itself as housing starts pick up in the next few years. For Tampa Bay, the buzzword is building … construction and mining will be the fastest-growing sector, with an annual average growth rate of 5.2 percent. Second would be professional and business services growing at 4.5 percent a year. He forecasts that wages will grow by 3.7 percent annually, on average.

JUDGE TO DECIDE FATE OF NEW FLORIDA ABORTION LAW via the Associated Press – A federal judge is being asked to block a new law that places restrictions on abortion clinics in Florida. Attorneys representing Planned Parenthood will ask U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on Wednesday to stop the law from going into effect on July 1. The measure signed earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott is similar to legislation in other states that has triggered legal challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Texas law.

DEMS FORCE LEGISLATIVE POLL ON POST-PULSE SPECIAL SESSION via the Sunshine State News – Democratic lawmakers submitted 46 letters from House and Senate members — more than the 32 required — to demand Secretary of State Ken Detzner poll all 160 legislators in the next week on the special session request. “The key is we’ve requested at the very least (that) we review reforms we all support, such as banning people … who are on the terrorist FBI watch list” from buying guns, said state Sen. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat who is running for a Central Florida congressional seat. Soto and state Rep. Jared Moskowitz led a news conference outside the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando to repeat the call for the extra session … The push for the special session comes in the wake of the June 12 massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub … Rep. Janet Cruz, set to lead House Democrats after the November elections, said the legislation can’t wait until the next regular session in March. “The welfare of our people is at stake,” Cruz said. Support to call the session is required from three-fifths of the members of each chamber of the Legislature, something that will be extremely difficult with the current Republican majorities.

RICHARD CORCORAN SLAMS ‘IRRATIONAL, IRRESPONSIBLE’ DEMOCRATS OVER GUNS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Democrats needed 32 signatures on a petition to press Secretary of State Ken Detzner to poll members on whether a special session should be held to consider new gun restrictions in the wake of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub … Detzner’s polling of members may start later Tuesday. Support from three-fifths of the members of both chambers (72 House members and 24 senators) is needed for a session to be held. The Democrats’ chances of reaching that goal is very remote (Republicans hold majorities of 81-39 in the House and 26-14 in the Senate) … Corcoran … issued a statement: “I’m very disappointed in my Democratic colleagues. It was and is my hope to work in an honest and professional bipartisan spirit for the next two years. Unfortunately, the irrational, irresponsible and unstatesmanlike actions of some place that expectation in jeopardy. This is especially true because this is being done solely for political purposes. Whenever politics is your sole purpose, the people lose. I do have complete faith in my Republican colleagues to be statesmen and to use common sense and to govern properly.”

ANOTHER RICK SCOTT STAFF SHIFT, ANOTHER ORG CHART… via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Frank Collins‘ departure from the embrace of the Executive Office of the Governor means yet another rejiggered organizational chart of Scott‘s team. The latest chart shows that Collins, a former deputy chief of staff, hasn’t been replaced. Rather, his portfolio has been spread among remaining deputy chiefs and other high-level officials. For example: CareerSource Florida to Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rasmussen; Department of Economic Opportunity, Enterprise Florida to Legislative Affairs Director Kevin Reilly; Statewide Guardian ad Litem to Deputy Chief of Staff Kristin Olson; Department of Juvenile Justice, VISIT FLORIDA to Director of Policy Jeff Woodburn; Space Florida to Budget Director Cynthia Kelly; Department of State to General Counsel William Spicola. Why does all this matter? Here’s longtime capital reporter Gary Fineout’s explanation …Because it shows the names of the people inside the governor’s office who have direct responsibility over various functions in state government. These are the people who work day-to-day with agency heads and serve as the liaison between them and the governor. And they are the ones that lobbyists generally turn to when they have a problem or issue with a particular agency head.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a ceremonial bill signing for Senate Bil 1322, which establishes a 50-50 split of juvenile detention costs, at 11:30 a.m. at Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Drive in Orlando


Brian BallardAna CruzWilliam Turbeville, Ballard Partners: Coca Cola Beverages Florida

Yolanda Cash JacksonKaren Skyers, Becker & Poliakoff: Haitian Neighborhood Center; Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association

Ashley Kalifeh, Capital City Consulting: Primerica Life Insurance Company

David RambaEvan PowerBetty MullinsGregory Munson, Ramba Consulting Group: Election Systems & Software; Gateway Services Community Development District

J. Larry WilliamsCameron YarbroughLila Jaber, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Henderson Beach Resort Hotel

SPOTTED at Pebble Beach for a fundraiser for Florida’s Senate Republicans, Chris Clark and Tim Stapleton of the Florida Medical Association:


ALSO SPOTTED at the fundraiser: Sens. Andy Gardiner, Joe Negron, Bill Galvano, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rob BradleyAnitere Flores, as well as Nick Iarossi, Jon Johnson, Ron LaFace, Trevor Mask, Tracy and Frank Mayernick, Ashley and Scott Ross, Heather TurnbullJoe York.

POLITICO FLORIDA ADDS SERGIO BUSTOS AS STATE EDITOR via Politico — ustos comes to POLITICO from the Associated Press, where he served as a national political reporter, covering the state’s outsize role in the 2016 presidential campaign. rior to joining the AP, Bustos spent 10 years at the Miami Herald, serving as state and political editor from 2010 to 2015. He directed staff in Tallahassee, Washington and Miami, including Marc Caputo, who joined POLITICO in 2015.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @PenguinRandom: Cormac McCarthy is alive and well and still doesn’t care about Twitter.

The latest polling strongly suggests Carlos Beruff should drop out of U.S. Senate race

Carlos Beruff is a successful man.

He has made tens of millions of dollars building homes in Florida in boom times and lean times.

He has been a dedicated community leader, serving on one high-profile board after another.

A few weeks ago, Beruff — suddenly everywhere as his campaign has spent at least $4 million on television ads and he traveled to all 67 of the state’s counties — was becoming the candidate to beat in the GOP primary for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat. He was such a strong candidate, in fact, the actual frontrunner at the time in the race, David Jolly, announced he would drop out of the race even before Marco Rubio made his decision to run for re-election. Jolly knew he would not be able to keep up with the self-funding Beruff.

Beruff has been an aggressive campaigner, backed by a hyper-aggressive political staff made up of several operatives with ties to Gov. Rick Scott.

Even as Jolly and Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox all melted away in the face of Rubio’s decision, Beruff has not shrunk from the fight. Only a few hours seem to separate the press releases his campaign blasts out, most of which are highly critical of Rubio.

In other words, Beruff is campaigning in the same determined manner he built his private and public record of accomplishment.

But with two months left to the primary campaign and less than a month until early ballots are mailed, it’s time for Beruff to pull the plug on his Senate bid and save the $15 million more he’s pledged to spend on his campaign.

Two new polls released Tuesday strongly suggest Beruff has no path to victory.

The first survey is one from one of the best data shops in the state, Data Targeting, and it has Beruff trailing Rubio by 67 points.

67 points!

Beruff has already spent a small fortune on his campaign and this first poll shows him at just 6 percent with Republican voters. That’s $1.5 million a point.

The second survey is actually the more damning. It’s from television stations Bay News 9 and My News 13 and it also shows Beruff trailing Rubio badly, 63 percent to 11 percent.

But trailing Rubio by 52 points is not the worse part of that poll for Beruff. It’s the fact that he’s just one point ahead of a man named Dwight Young, whom, and I write this as someone who lives and breathes Florida politics, I’ve never heard of. He doesn’t even really register in Google News or Lexus-Nexus.

Young’s website, which looks to have been built in 2006, touts his motto, which evokes the 19th century Republican Party, “Free soil, free speech, free labor, free men.”

Four million dollars spent by Beruff’s brain trust of Curt Anderson and Melissa Sellers and he is just one point ahead of a tomato can.

Beruff is in such bad shape, at least according to the Bay News 9/My News 13 poll, that he almost has to stop worrying about catching Rubio and focus on remaining in second place.

Again, Beruff is an accomplished man. There is no shame in admitting that there was no catching Rubio without the entire political universe lined up behind him. But there will be shame and embarrassment if Beruff spends $20-$25 million and all he has to show for it is a T-shirt.

Mr. Beruff, for your own sake, take the holiday weekend to assess where your campaign is. Then, come Tuesday morning after the 4th of July, have Anderson leak to POLITICO that you will be dropping out of the race.

The numbers, at this point, do not lie.

Sunburn for 6.28.16 – Divided we stand

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

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


The partisan divide looks more like a gulf than a gully.

For the first time since 1992, the majority of Democrats and Republicans have a very unfavorable view of the opposing party.

And when they say very, they mean it: Democrats think Republicans are close-minded and immoral. Republicans think Democrats are lazy and dishonest. And Americans aren’t just frustrated by people on the other side of the aisle, they’re also afraid and angry.

Those were the findings outlined in a recent report by the Pew Research Center. It found 55 percent of Democrats said the Republican Party makes them afraid, while 49 percent of Republicans said the same about the Democratic Party. The report, released last week, found 47 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans said the opposing party makes them angry.

That might not be that surprising. The 2016 election cycle has been marked by fights at political rallies, flaming Twitter rants and name calling replacing “my opponent.” And let’s not forget that the presumptive nominees in both parties are deeply unpopular.

But the endless nasty-grams appear to have trickled into the perceptions of everyday Americans. The report looked at what Republicans and Democrats say about each other, and the responses weren’t exactly glowing.

According to the report, 70 percent of Democrats said Republicans are “more closed-minded than other Americans.” The report also found 42 percent of Democrats say Republicans are more dishonest than other Americans, and 33 percent said they are more unintelligent.

Republicans perceptions of Democrats aren’t much better. According to the report, 52 percent of Republicans think Democrats are more closed-minded than other Americans. The report also found 47 percent said Democrats were more immoral than other Americans, and 46 percent said Democrats are lazier.

They might not think much of each other, but “most Democrats and Republicans stop short of saying that it would be more difficult to get along with a new community member who belonged to the other party.” According to the report, 31 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans think it would be harder to get along with a new person in their community if they were on opposing sides.

Of course, it would easier to get along with a new person if they have the same political leanings. Or at least that’s according to the report, which found 42 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Republicans said “it would be easier to get along with a new neighbor who belong to their own party.”

And while that could make for some interesting block parties and backyard gatherings this summer, there could be a glimmer of hope when it comes to bridging the partisan divide.

According to the report, the “partisan diversity of people’s friend networks is linked to how people feel about members of the other party.”

“Those who have at least some close friends in the other party tend to feel less coldly toward people in that party than those with few friends of the opposing party,” according to the report. “And among Republicans, those who have close Democratic friends hold fewer negative stereotypes of Democrats than those who do not.”

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CBS NEWS POLL: HILLARY CLINTON LEADS DONALD TRUMP IN THE SUNSHINE STATE: Clinton holds a narrow lead over Trump, according to a new CBS New Battleground Tracker poll. The survey found Clinton leads Trump 44 percent to 41 percent in the Sunshine State. Of those voters who said they supported Clinton, 32 percent said they planned to vote for her “mainly to oppose Donald Trump.” The survey found 48 percent of voters who said they would vote for Trump said they planned to vote for him “mainly to oppose Hillary Clinton.” The survey also found that 37 percent of respondents said they planned to vote for the Republican candidate in Florida’s U.S. Senate race; while 42 percent picked the Democratic candidate. Twenty percent of respondents said they weren’t sure yet. The survey of 1,192 likely voters was conducted from June 21 through June 24. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

RICK SCOTT SAYS MARCO RUBIO HAS DONE A ‘GOOD JOB’ AS FLORIDA’S U.S. SEN. via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Scott posted a statement last week upon Rubio’s re-emergence by seemingly going out of his way to praise … Carlos Beruff, the only Republican Senate candidate left standing after the GOP incumbent made his ambitions known. Scott did not endorse Beruff. However, it was a point he emphasized Monday while speaking to reporters after holding an event in Tampa. “Carlos is a friend, he’s a businessperson,” Scott said. “His race is similar to mine back in 2010, I was the outsider; I was the businessperson.” Scott said he never endorsed during the primary season, and wouldn’t now, but did say, “Marco Rubio has done a good job as U.S. senator. He’s also a friend. What I’ve said is, I’m not endorsing; let the voters decide.”

CARLOS BERUFF TAKES AIM AT RUBIO IN NEW ADVERTISEMENT via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The 35-second spot — called “Unequivocal”— splices together clips of Rubio, who announced last week he was running for re-election, responding to questions of whether he would commit to a full six-year term in the Senate with clips of broadcasters calling him robotic. In each of the clips, Rubio is saying essentially the same thing — that he will no longer make unequivocal statements. “The voters of Florida deserve a senator who is committed to doing the job he’s been hired to do, but that’s not what they’ll get with Marco Rubio, who won’t even commit to serving a full six-year term or deny he won’t use the seat to run for president again,” said Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Beruff campaign, in a statement. “Floridians are tired of Marco’s robotic responses and Washington-approved talking points. It’s time for a change. We can’t afford six (or less) more years of the same old Marco.”

FIRST IN SUNBURN — FLORIDA POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION ENDORSES PATRICK MURPHY FOR U.S. SENATE — PBA President John Rivera said, “The Florida PBA is proud to endorse Murphy because we know that he will stand with our police officers and first responders in the U.S. Senate. Patrick is the leader that our officers need to ensure that they can continue keeping our communities safe. As the organization that advocates for Florida’s police officers, we trust Patrick Murphy to advocate for us” … “I am proud to receive the endorsement of the brave men and women at the Florida PBA,” Murphy responded. “Every day, our officers put their lives on the line to protect us and they deserve our full support. In the U.S. Senate, I will stand with our police officers and first responders to make sure they have the resources necessary to keep Florida safe. Our communities and families are safer and stronger because of their hard work, and I am humbled to have them standing with me in this campaign.”

HIGH COURT’S STRIKING OF TEXAS ABORTION LAW RATTLES FLORIDA via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Like Texas, the Florida law, which takes effect July 1, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the court majority, concluded the requirement places a “substantial obstacle in the path of women” seeking an abortion. The Florida measure, though, doesn’t go as far as the Texas law in forcing clinics to upgrade their facilities to ambulatory surgical centers, including new regulations on buildings, equipment and staff. Instead, the Florida law imposes new licensing and reporting requirements for clinics, that don’t seem to be directly addressed in the high court’s ruling. Another provision of Florida’s law will be reviewed this week by a federal judge in Tallahassee. Planned Parenthood is challenging the measure’s ban on public dollars going to organizations that perform abortions – even if the service is only part of their overall mission.

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT’S ALLIES TO TARGET SENIORS IN FLORIDA via Gary White of the Lakeland Ledger – With the return of a proposed state constitutional amendment allowing the medical use of marijuana, Floridians can expect to see a flurry of TV commercials airing during programs that generally draw older viewers. “We’re going to run more ads on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” said Ben Pollara, campaign director of United for Care, when asked about the strategy to sway seniors on Amendment 2. “Honestly, that’s a flip answer, but it’s somewhat true.” Whether the measure, a revised version of one that failed in 2014, reaches the 60 percent approval threshold in round two might hinge on whether it gains more support from voters 65 and older. The measure will be on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election … Pollara said United for Care, the political group created and heavily funded by Orlando lawyer John Morgan, ran only one TV commercial aimed at seniors in the 2014 campaign. Morgan used advertising time already purchased for his law firm to run additional commercials, but those didn’t specifically target older voters, Pollara said … both sides on the Amendment 2 campaign understand the importance of the senior vote. “We may have different pollsters, but public opinion is public opinion and seniors start out as the least supportive group and they’re one of the most persuadable to oppose medical marijuana,” Pollara said. “The difference between 2014 and 2016 is we’re going to spend considerably more money on TV ads targeted to seniors.”

VOTE NO ON 2 WEB AD WARNS OF ‘BUDTENDERS,’ URGES VOTERS TO REJECT MEDICINAL POT via Keith Morelli of Florida Politics – In announcing the ad, Vote No on 2, the campaign sponsored by Drug-Free Florida Committee, said the ad is “setting the record straight on what Amendment 2 really means for Floridians.” Titled “Budtender,” the ad says dispensers of medical marijuana in Florida would have no medical education or training of any kind. “This revelation continues to show that the authors of Amendment 2 didn’t close the loopholes or tighten the language of this dangerous constitutional amendment” … marijuana as medicine is a hoax, said Vote No on 2 campaign spokeswoman Christina Johnson. “The suggestion that Amendment 2 is about medicine is a false and dangerous one … This amendment replaces pharmacists with unlicensed amateurs whose knowledge of pot is typically limited to their personal experience. Budtenders have no clinical experience, no medical training, and no business dispensing Class A drugs. What’s the difference between a drug dealer and a budtender? Nothing.”

MATT GAETZ CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES FIRST SPOT IN CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN –  … 30-second TV commercial, “Fight Back” … “Gaetz is ready to fight back against Washington, and we are excited to show Northwest Florida voters Matt’s conservative fighting spirit,” said campaign manager Ryan Smith. “Matt is running the strongest campaign for Florida’s 1st Congressional District, and he’s focused on talking directly to the voters. We have over 40,000 Facebook fans. We’ve made over 6,500 calls and knocked on more than 11,000 doors so far. As the Pensacola News Journal’s Andy Marlette recently said, Matt is the ‘thriller of conservatives and exasperator of liberals,’ and he’s ‘playing ball at a higher level’ than the rest of the field in this race,” Smith continued. “I’m not running for Congress because I want to go to Washington; I’m running for Congress because we can’t trust Washington,” said Matt Gaetz. “Northwest Florida voters are tired of the spineless politicians and lawless bureaucrats who are running our country into the ground,” he continued.

AT FORUM, JONATHAN CHANE SAYS ABSENT RANDY PERKINS ‘AFRAID’ OF VOTERS via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Chaneand John (JuanXuna … answered questions for about an hour from Martin County activist and radio show host K.C. Ingram. The Democrats, six Republicans and an independent are running to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy …  Both Chane and Xuna called for buying land south of Lake Okeechobee to store water and prevent harmful discharges into the Indian River Lagoon. Both oppose the All Aboard Florida train and are against cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Both favor more gun control measures than are on the books now. Both said they support decriminalizing marijuana. Xuna twice criticized AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, and on another occasion said “We need to protect people (in the Middle East), like Israel, right, but we shouldn’t be also the shield of David, going to war because Israel is not doing enough for peace in the area and everything they touch becomes in flame.” Chane used his closing remarks to take aim at Perkins, the millionaire founder of a disaster cleanup firm who is the favorite of the Washington Democratic establishment for the District 18 seat. Perkins has not agreed to attend any debates or candidate forums before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, but his campaign has said he will debate Chane before the primary. Said Chane: “He’s afraid to answer these same questions or answer Democratic voters about the serious questions that have been raised about him and they deserve to have answers from him.” Said Chane: “He’s afraid to answer these same questions or answer Democratic voters about the serious questions that have been raised about him and they deserve to have answers from him.”

FIRST IN SUNBURN — NEW COMMITTEE LAUNCHES AD VS. “RITCH WRONGMAN” via – Stop Career Politicians, a political committee formed in Senate District 17 … kicked off its campaign with its first television commercial, “Ritch Wrongman: Wrong on Immigration.” According to its website, the ad “shines light on the hypocrisy of Workman’s campaign rhetoric versus his actual record … Workman, says he is fighting illegal immigration, yet he voted to incentivize illegal immigration by giving college tuition discounts and law licenses to illegal immigrants.”  Backed by Floridians interested in putting an end to career politicians, Stop Career Politicians will “hold Ritch Workman accountable for his moral, ethical and legal transgressions. Ritch Workman portrays himself as a true conservative, though his personal life and professional record show he is an incompetent leader with a penchant for liberal policy and an inability to properly manage his personal finances,” as stated in the official Mission Statement.

JOHN LEGG FILES FOR OFFICE – IN 2022 via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – John Legg is getting a serious jump on his would-be opponents, filing to run for office again in 2022. The Pasco County Republican’s career in the Legislature appeared to be at an end earlier this year after redistricting put his home in the same district as Sen. Wilton Simpson … Rather than challenge Simpson for the newly drawn Senate District 10, Legg announced he would not seek re-election in 2016. But now, Legg is asking the Florida Division of Elections to move his campaign for the state Senate to the year 2022, in what would be the final year of Simpson’s eight years in office. That would allow him to move more than $170,000 in his 2016 campaign account to the race in 2022. “I would like to redesignate both the year and district for which I am a candidate to Senate District 10 for the 2022 election,” Legg wrote in a letter to the Florida Division of Elections.

HAPPENING WEDNESDAY: State Rep. Greg Steube is holding a fundraiser in support of his bid for Senate District 23. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Siesta Key Rum Tasting Room, 301 East Pine St., Suite 1400 – 2212 Industrial Blvd. – in Sarasota.

— “Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County endorse both Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn in HD 68 race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

HD 70 CANDIDATE MANUEL SYKES FAILS TO SIGN DISCLOSURE FORM — DOESN’T MAKE IT ON THE BALLOT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Sykes announced recently that he was a candidate in the House District 70 race … However, Sykes did not qualify for the ballot at the end of the day Friday, the deadline for all candidates to be eligible for the November ballot … on the Public Disclosure form required to be filled out, Sykes neglected to sign his name to it … the former NAACP head in St. Petersburg told the Tampa Bay Times that he mailed his qualifying check to the Divisions of Election Thursday, and knows that someone signed for it Friday … on Page 2 of the form, where the candidate must sign under oath that all of the information on the disclosure form is accurate, it is left blank. Democrats Wengay NewtonC.J. Czaia and Dan Florini did make the ballot, as did Republican Cori Fournier.

— “Manny Diaz says he’s raised $74K so far in June HD 103 fundraising” via Florida Politics

— “Associated Builders and Contractors unveils Miami-Dade legislative endorsements” via Florida Politics

HAPPENING WEDNESDAYAlan Williams hosts a fundraiser in Leon County Supervisor of Elections re-election effort. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Edison, 470 Suwannee St. in Tallahassee, and includes a performance by Motown recording artist Royce Lovett. Suggested contribution is $50; maximum contribution $250.

***DINE OUT FOR ORLANDO UNITED*** This Thursday, June 30, Florida restaurants and their employees and guests will donate time and money to support Orlando’s healing. Led by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, the fundraiser, “Dine Out for Orlando United,” will be a day for Floridians to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the tragedy. All proceeds raised will be donated to the OneOrlando Fund, which is designed to provide a way to respond to the needs of the local community, now and in the time to come. Check here to see if your favorite restaurant is part of the more than 900 participating locations throughout the state – and don’t forget to Dine Out for Orlando United on Thursday!***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will participate in a round table discussion about the Zika virus at 10 a.m. at the  Palm Beach County Health Department, 800 Clematis Street in West Palm Beach. He will then travel to Jacksonville for a similar round table discussion at 3:30 p.m. at Smith Auditorium at the Duval County Health Department, 900 University Boulevard North in Jacksonville.

DEMOCRATS’ CALL FOR SPECIAL SESSION ON GUNS LIKELY GOING NOWHERE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Democrats are demanding a special legislative session to propose new gun restrictions in response to the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub. If Congress won’t act, they argue, then the state should, by requiring more extensive background checks for gun buyers and a “no fly, no buy” law to deny firearms to someone who’s on a federal terrorist watch list. Gov. Scott could call a special session. He has made clear where he stands. “The Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody,” Scott told CNN five days after a deranged gunman took 49 innocent lives. “This is ISIS. This is evil.” Legislative leaders could call a session, but both Republicans oppose the idea. So Democrats, including two from Orlando who are running for Congress, will now try to force the issue themselves. They will probably fail, but they’ll get plenty of attention as both sides again stake out familiar positions on guns. Democrats will deliver a petition with 32 signatures to Secretary of State Ken Detzner … Within a week, Detzner must poll all 160 lawmakers. Three-fifths of both chambers must agree to a special session — an impossibly high hurdle even if this were not in the heat of a campaign.

— “Don Gaetz: we don’t need special session for gun control” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

BUDGET PROCESS FOR 2017 – 18 BEGINS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The governor’s office has issued written instructions to state agencies to develop budget requests which will be considered in the upcoming legislative session. The issuance of instructions is considered the first step in the annual budget making process. The Office of Policy and Budget got an early start as instructions were not required until July 15 under state law. Legislative budget requests are not due until mid-October. Between now and then, agencies will unveil long-term policy goals and state economists will release the first projections of how much money the government has after it pays its bills.

DCF: WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE via Florence Snyder for Florida Politics – The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is not the worst offender in Florida’s never-ending War on Open Government. It just gets caught in the act more often than fellow offenders at the state, county and municipal levels. That’s because DCF is one of the few agencies left which ever has to contend with watchdog journalism. DCF chieftains, lawyers and flacks are well-acquainted with the well-oiled BS detector of the Miami Herald’s Carol Marbin Miller, a veteran investigative reporter who knows the difference between transparency, and transparent nonsense. But they keep trying to buffalo her, anyway. The latest example involves the case of Sophia Hines. She’s currently residing in the Broward County jail, charged with suffocating her infant son and toddler daughter. Hines, a resident of Pennsylvania, had been receiving services from that state’s child welfare authorities. Marbin Miller “cobbled together” some of the sad story of how Hines ended up in Florida and the children ended up dead, but only after days of being diddled by DCF while its lawyers tried and failed to come up with a good excuse to keep secrets on Pennsylvania’s behalf. It’s been decades since Florida had an elected statewide official who paid much more than lip service to open government. The contempt for open government is entirely bipartisan; more than half those bills were approved unanimously by both Legislative chambers. The Senate, which loves to call itself the more “deliberative” chamber, has approved exemptions unanimously 151 times.

PANEL CLEARS PRISON WHISTLEBLOWER OF WRONGDOING via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – Doug Glisson, a senior investigator at the Department of Corrections, is now seeking reinstatement to his position as a supervisor in the agency’s Office of Inspector General, after a five-member Complaint Review Board concluded that the complaint against him was “unfounded.” Glisson was demoted and docked pay by the agency in April after six internal investigations were launched against him Feb. 3, 2015, — a day after his former boss, Inspector General Jeffery Beasley, was grilled by a Senate committee about allegations of cover-up and corruption. Three of those investigations were sustained, without interviewing Glisson, two were dismissed and one he challenged as violating his rights under the “Officers’ Bill of Rights.” Glisson was accused of hearing a complaint from an inmate who alleged officer-on-inmate abuse at the Franklin Correctional Institution but failed to investigate — in violation of agency procedure. He sued after the agency refused to provide a hearing, as required by law, to allow him to bring forward his allegations that the investigation was biased against him.

HAPPENING TODAY: Republican state Rep. Doug Broxson and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are hosting a public workshop to learn how to prevent bear activity around homes and property. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Navarre Fellowship Hall, 9302 Navarre Parkway in Navarre.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) will host the 2016 Helping Florida Work Town Hall Tour at the Turnberry Isle Resort from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., 19999 West Country Club Drive in Aventura.

INSURER FILES PROTEST WITH STATE OVER HMO BIDS via Keith Morelli of Florida Politics – A health and life insurance company has filed a protest with the Florida Department of Management Services, which recently rejected bids to provide HMO benefits to the state’s employees. Aetna Life Insurance Company hand-delivered a copy of the protest to the state earlier this month and posted a $3.1 million protest bond, according to a letter from the insurer’s attorneys, Foley & Lardner of Tallahassee. The state began its procurement process in September seeking bids to provide its employees with insured Health and Maintenance Organization (HMO) benefits and self-insured health plan services. The contract was expected to total more than $300 million … insurers placing bids were to have them in by Nov. 12. They were scored by a team within the department and a handful were accepted to participate in the second phase of the procurement procedure. Aetna was among those chosen … The goal of the process, according to the petition, was “to enable the department to determine what vendor(s) presents the best value to establish the principle terms and conditions of such contract.” The state was intent on achieving a contract that was “the best value for the state.” Lengthy negotiations ensued, the petition said, “requiring great commitment of resources from both vendors and the department.”

FIRST IN SUNBURN — MICHAEL WILLIAMS DEPARTS SPEAKER’S OFFICE FOR COREMESSAGE via Florida Politics – He’s leaving his role as main spokesman for Steve Crisafulli and heading to PR shop CoreMessage in Tallahassee, the firm tells Starting in July, he’ll be managing director of media relations. “CoreMessage is thrilled to add Michael to our team,” said Cory Tilley, the president of CoreMessage and former top communications aide to Gov. Jeb Bush. Williams, 36, has been spokesman for Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican, since 2014. Before that, he was deputy communications director for the House Majority (Republicans) Office. He’s also worked at Xcel Energy, the Florida Manufactured Housing Association and for Ramba Consulting Group.


Joanna Lee Clary BonfantiLila JaberGregory MunsonJ. Larry WilliamsCameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: American Water Works Association (Florida Section); Henderson Beach Resort Hotel; Pemco Holdings

Matt BrockelmanJim Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Sheriffs Association; Jackson County School Board

Gary Riddle: Healthcare Distribution Alliance

William Turbeville, Ballard Partners: GreenPointe Communities

HAPPENING TODAY: The James Madison Institute holds its 2016 Panama City regional meeting starting 5 p.m. at the Shark’s Tooth Golf Club, 2003 Wild Heron Way in Panama City. Featured speakers include JMI President and CEO Dr. Bob McClure and former House Speaker Allan Bense, who serves as JMI Board Chairman. Cost is $20 for JMI members $20; $30 for non-members.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  As Florida’s tourism industry brace for the impact of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, British officials are calling on the world to remain calm following “Brexit.” On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, British Consul-General David Prodger discusses the effects of Brexit on the Sunshine State. Gomes also talks with Sen. Darren Soto about his continued call for a special session of the Legislature to implement new gun restrictions after this month’s mass shooting in Orlando. Plus, reactions to the contest by Sen. Greg Evers to give away a custom-built AR-15 rifle, similar to the one used in the shooting massacre.

WHAT RYAN WIGGINS IS READING — BLUE ANGELS WILL RESUME FLIGHT DEMONSTRATIONS JULY 2 via The Associated Press – Navy officials say its Blue Angels will resume performances a month after one of their pilots was killed in a crash while practicing for an air show … Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi said the elite flight demonstration squadron was grateful for its fans’ patience as it “navigated through this very difficult loss of our teammate.” The Blue Angels canceled performances after the death of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss … when his F/A-18 jet crashed just after takeoff while practicing for a Tennessee air show. The Pensacola-based team will resume its schedule July 2 at the National Cherry Festival Air Show in Traverse City, Michigan. The Navy statement says the team will fly a modified five-jet demonstration along with the Blue Angels C-130 plane “Fat Albert.”

REST IN PEACE — TAMPA ATTORNEY AND POLITICAL ACTIVIST STACY FRANK DIES AT 61 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Frank … the daughter of Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts Pat Frank … died Saturday, June 25, at the age of 61 from lung cancer. Frank was very involved in Hillsborough County politics, including assisting in her mother’s campaigns for Clerk of the Courts. “Stacy was a fighter, a believer and an inspiration to many. I always looked up to her as a strong woman and a successful businesswoman,” wrote Ashley Walker, the Fort Lauderdale political strategist who ran President Barack Obama’s re-election effort in Florida, on her Facebook page. “She helped guide me through many difficult decisions, and she was one of my first calls when making big professional decisions,” Walker added. “But most importantly, she had a huge heart and was always up for a good time. She’ll truly be missed.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the one and only Brendan Farrington, one of the best reporters in the state and one of the best people we know.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 6.27.16: They’re off and running

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

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


At noon this past Friday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner stood under a digital clock that marked the moment the political carriages, horses and footmen turned into pumpkins, mice and lizards.

Candidates either qualified for the 2016 ballot or they did not. They either submitted a check and their paperwork or they did not. No more hypotheticals. No more maneuvering.

At the end of the day, a fourth of the Florida Legislature was re-elected without opposition. Many more lawmakers drew only token opposition.

There were no glaring snafus. No stories about a candidate who did not qualify because their check was one cent short of the requirement or did not make the ballot because they turned their paperwork into the wrong building.

But there were some surprises, at least there were to those who don’t talk to Irv Slosberg on a regular basis.

So now that books have officially closed, here are some of the Winners and Losers from Qualifying Week.


Tampa Bay’s state Senators – Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson, Jack Latvala, Tom Lee, and Jeff Brandes were either re-elected without opposition or face just a write-in. Look for them all to cut big checks from their committees to Dana Young‘s campaign to make sure she joins them in Tallahassee.

George Gainer – Remember when the GOP primary for SD 2 was going to settle the Latvala vs. Joe Negron rivalry for the Senate presidency? With Matt Gaetz running for Congress, that never materialized and Gainer walks into the Senate.

Kevin Rader – A month ago, Rader was on his way back to the Florida House. Today, after some maneuvering with Joe Abruzzo, he’s a near lock for a seat in the Senate.

Lauren Book – Some will say no one filed to run against Book out of deference to her all-powerful lobbyist-dad, but that narrative overlooks how hard she worked to keep anyone from running against her. The truth is the soft-spoken, golden-hearted Book may have been the most tenacious campaigner of 2016. Now she’s on her way to the Florida Senate and, eight or so years from now, who knows where next.

Perry Thurston – Very quietly, the former Democratic House leader won without opposition a seat in the upper chamber.

James Grant – After the trials and tribulations — and unending legal motions and orders — the Hillsborough Republican went through in 2014-15, it must be a relief to be re-elected without opposition to the House. Plus, he now have more free time to campaign to one day be House Speaker

Bill Hager – Silver-lining of not being appointed Insurance Commissioner is winning re-election to the House without opposition when trial attorney Gary Iscoe passed on running (we told you, Palm Beach Post!)


Florida voters – The write-in loophole that allows less-than-serious candidates to close a primary disenfranchises millions of Floridians from voting in legislative races. Both Democrats and Republicans employed the tactic, some at the last-minute, during Qualifying Week. Closing this loophole should be a top priority for next year’s Constitutional Revision Commission.

Fair Districts – So much was made of the Supreme Court’s redistricting decisions — one Miami Herald reporter suggested that the Democrats would gain six seats this November — but the reality is it’s business as usual. When you factor in the incumbents with just a NPA or write-in opponent, more than half of the Legislature will be returned without breaking a sweat. Many more of the races are competitive in name only, with a well-funded incumbent on one side and a token, partisan gadfly on the other.

Nancy Miller – We’re told the last-minute filer in SD 3 against Bill Montford is running because she did not like the conservative Democrat’s vote to remove a Confederate general from Stauary Hall.

The Legislative Black Caucus – Currently, there are six African-Americans in the Florida Senate. After November, it’s possible there may only be four. The term you are looking for is “retrogression.”

Oscar Braynon – Whether it be the Florida Democratic Party’s failure to field a candidate in competitive Senate District 24 or the roogoodoo that took place in SDs 38,39, and 40, a refrain kept being repeated throughout Tallahassee: “O.B. needs to get control of his caucus.”

Joe Redner – The strip club king files as an independent versus Dana Young after the Tampa Republican worked overtime in 2015 to shepherd legislation that helped Redner’s son’s craft brewery biz, as well as beer lovers everywhere. Stick to T&A, Joe.

Jeff Clemens – His tongue-in-cheek campaign emails, once endearing, now remind us of the taunting tweets Chris Dorworth posted before he was upset in 2012. Yes, Clemens is still likely to hold off Slosberg in a Democratic primary, but he shouldn’t even be in this position.

Irv Slosberg – Why there is not yet a Twitter handle @IrvSlosbergsStupidHat is beyond me?

Fred Costello – First Marco Rubio decides to run for re-election, then Ron DeSantis drops back to run for CD 6. Costello was suppose to drop his challenge but the poor guy just doesn’t seem to know when to get in line.

Political consultants everywhere – Rubio’s reconsideration wiped out three U.S. Senate campaigns, along with the hopes and dreams of several other pols. Of course, those hopes and dreams would have cost money, but alas they are no more.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

DAYS UNTIL: Domestic vote by mail go out in primaries – 28; Early voting begins in primaries – 53; Primary elections – 63; Start of the NFL season — 72; vote by mail sent in Gen. Election – 98; Early voting begins in Gen. Election — 123; Election Day – 133


HILLARY CLINTON OPENS 12 POINT LEAD ON DONALD TRUMP AS TWO-THIRDS SEE HIM AS BIASED via Gary Langer of ABC News – Clinton surged to a broad advantage against Trump [51-39] in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, capitalizing on Trump’s recent campaign missteps. Two-thirds of Americans see him as biased against groups such as women, minorities or Muslims, and a new high, 64 percent, call Trump unqualified to serve as president. … [A 14-point swing among registered voters since mid-May] snaps the race essentially back to where it was in March.

CLINTON HOLDS JUST A 5 POINT LEAD OVER TRUMP, LATEST POLL FINDS via Peter Nicholas of the Wall Street Journal – After a tumultuous few weeks in the presidential campaign, Democrat Clinton’s lead over Republican rival Trump stands at five percentage points, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, but the race is essentially tied when third-party candidates are included. “Trump has had the worst month one can imagine, but Clinton’s negatives are so high the net impact on the ballot is almost invisible,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Fred Yang.

HERE’S HILLARY CLINTON’S NEWEST TV SPOT IN FLORIDA via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Clinton‘s campaign begins airing a new TV ad in Florida and seven other states that features a family that benefited from the Children’s Health Insurance Program that Clinton helped enact. “When Hillary Clinton was first lady she was instrumental in passing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and because she did, Kayla and millions of other kids have coverage,” says Amanda Strine, whose daughter Kayla was diagnosed with chronic illnesses at age nine. “That’s what Hillary Clinton did, and that tells you a lot about the kind of president she’ll be.”

MARCO RUBIO’S BOOK ROYALTIES UP $70 K IN 2015 via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The Miami Republican claimed $102,500 in royalties last year, up from the $30,000 he claimed on his 2014 report, according to financial disclosure forms filed with the Senate. Overall, Rubio has made $1.2 million in book royalties since 2012. The biggest chunk came that year when he reported $800,000. In 2013, he claimed $345,000 in royalties. Rubio has written two books … His 2012 book deal for “An American Son” gives him 15 percent royalty payments for hardcover sales, 7.5 to 10 percent on paperback editions and 25 percent for audio books. A 2013 book deal for “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone” offers between 12.5 and 15 percent for hardcover, 7.5 to 10 percent for paperback and 10 to 25 percent for audio books. In 2015, Rubio also collected his $174,000 Senate salary and $9,016 from Florida International University. He serves as a senior fellow at the schools.

RUBIO: NOT GOING TO BE TRUMP’S VP via Elena Schneider of POLITICO – Rubio rejected the possibility of running as Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” saying it’s “not a viable option.” “Yeah, well, it’s too late for that. I’m running for the United States Senate from Florida. And you can’t run for two offices at once, so,” Rubio said. “The differences in policies that me and Donald have had are too big for something like that to work. It would be a distraction, quite frankly, to his campaign.”

OUCH — THE OVERHYPING OF UNDERWHELMING PATRICK MURPHY via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The pattern with the 33-year-old congressman from Palm Beach County: He appeared to be a serial exaggerator of his accomplishments, from inflating the scope of his work on Gulf cleanup after the BP oil spill, to falsely claiming to have earned dual college degrees, to overstating his work as a CPA. This week a Miami TV station aired a two-part investigative series that portrayed Murphy as an unaccomplished, chronic embellisher. Murphy’s campaign has attacked the report as unfair and inaccurate. He was a CPA, even if he was never licensed by Florida or worked as long as he seemed to imply. And he did have a small business, even if his wealthy father may have bought it for him and it didn’t actually do much cleanup work. But what’s already certain is that the Democratic party establishment prematurely planned a coronation for a candidate about to mauled and carved up by Republicans … Murphy is telegenic, moderate, and as a congressman largely uncontroversial. Mainly, though, what has set him apart and drew the enthusiasm of the likes of Harry Reid is money. Murphy’s father in the construction business has been willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to help get him elected, so the party establishment saw little reason to dig below the surface of Murphy’s image. Given the way Murphy has withered under scrutiny in recent weeks, we’re wondering if most of the drama will be in the primary and not the general. Rubio may face more difficulty winning the nomination against businessman Carlos Beruff than beating either Grayson, notoriously obnoxious and mired in pending ethics probes – or Murphy, who increasingly looks like an emperor with no clothes.

— “Patrick Murphy had a terrible week. Call it the Worst Week in Washington” via Chris Cillizza of The Fix

CARLOS LOPEZ CANTERA BIDS SENATE CAMPAIGN FAREWELL WITH CALL TO SUPPORTERS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Lopez-Cantera said goodbye to his U.S. Senate campaign with a call to supporters in which he thanked them and promised to be “fully behind” Rubio‘s re-election bid … “I’m going to do what I can to help Marco” …  That’s in contrast to Rick Scott, who is sitting out the Republican primary between Rubio and Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff. Lopez-Cantera … got in a jab at Beruff, noting he didn’t show up to the last grassroots event Lopez-Cantera attended recently in Venice, near Sarasota. This will be the first election since 2006 in which Lopez-Cantera, a former state representative and Miami-Dade County property appraiser, isn’t on a ballot.

WALT DARTLAND ENTERS CD 2 RACE via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – A grass-roots push by Leon County Democrats has produced a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat. Former Deputy Attorney General Dartland qualified for the race to succeed Rep. Gwen Graham … Dartland had urged local Democrats to field a candidate once state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda signaled she wouldn’t run for the seat … Dartland met with Panama City attorney Alvin Peters in a Marianna coffee shop to discuss the race. Peters, who had finished third in the 2012 primary, pointed out there are more Leon County Democrats in the district, 39,428, than there are in Bay County, 30,829. The day after the meeting, Dartland decided to enter the race. “I’m the last man standing,” he quipped.

— “Motherhood comes first: Julia Fletcher suspends CD 4 campaign” via Florida Politics

DESPITE INTRIGUE, KAREN BROWN, AL LAWSON ARE ONLY PROMINENT DEMOCRATS IN CD 5 RACE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Brown and former state Sen. Lawson will face off in the Democratic primary for the 5th Congressional District, a seat that has been the subject of huge doses of speculation and intrigue after a redistricting legal challenge. Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat, filed to run for the seat in February, so his challenge to Brown is no surprise. But there have been persistent rumors that other candidates would pile into the race for a seat that was redrawn to stretch from Jacksonville to the Tallahassee region. From a population perspective, Jacksonville, Brown’s base, has the advantage. Duval County has 403,066 residents in the district, which Leon County, Lawson’s home county, has just under 160,000. Lawson has just $22,004 cash on hand and more than $30,000 in debt tied to a loan he gave his campaign. Brown has just over $70,000 cash on hand with $20,475 in campaign debt. The seat is heavily Democratic, so the winner of the primary is all but certainly going to win the general election. The lone Republican to qualify was Glo Smith, whose campaign has no cash on hand.

— “John Mica faces GOP primary in CD 7, while Dem Stephanie Murphy awaits qualifying

— “Bill Posey, Corry Westbrook expect November battle in CD 8

— “CD 10 primary with four Democrats; Thuy Lowe wins GOP nod” via Florida Politics

SPOTTED on page 12 of Friday’s New York Times:


HOUSE ETHICS PANEL FINDS NO WRONGDOING BY VERN BUCHANAN via Matthew Daly of The Associated Press – The House Ethics Committee Friday ended a four-year probe into Republican Rep. Buchanan, finding no evidence that the lawmaker violated House rules. The ethics panel said in a report that there is not enough evidence to conclude that Buchanan himself was aware of unlawful payments made by companies affiliated with him to reimburse campaign contributors. Still, the committee cautioned Buchanan to “exercise more diligence over affairs related to his campaign.” Buchanan had been under scrutiny for several years after a former business partner alleged that Buchanan used straw donors to funnel thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to his campaigns via employees at two car dealerships Buchanan owned. Buchanan denied the allegations by Sam Kazran, as well as Kazran’s claim that Buchanan pressured him into signing a false affidavit regarding illegal campaign contributions. The ethics panel said in its report that there was insufficient evidence “to show precisely what role … if any” Buchanan had in drafting an affidavit used in the FEC proceeding.

***DINE OUT FOR ORLANDO UNITED*** This Thursday, June 30, Florida restaurants and their employees and guests will donate time and money to support Orlando’s healing. Led by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, the fundraiser, “Dine Out for Orlando United,” will be a day for Floridians to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the tragedy. All proceeds raised will be donated to the OneOrlando Fund, which is designed to provide a way to respond to the needs of the local community, now and in the time to come. Check here to see if your favorite restaurant is part of the more than 900 participating locations throughout the state – and don’t forget to Dine Out for Orlando United on Thursday!***

NO CONTEST: FOURTH OF LEGISLATURE ELECTED WITHOUT OPPOSITION via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – More candidates are running for the Florida Legislature than in past cycles, but one of every four seats was decided with no opposition. The lucky lawmakers are 12 senators (eight Republicans and four Democrats) and 30 state representatives (16Rs and 14Ds). Their campaigns are over and they must stop fundraising, but they can and will help other candidates while deciding what to do with their leftover campaign money. Five legislators running for the first time in open seats won without opposition — a rare feat. Technically senators-elect until they are sworn in in November, they are George GainerLauren Book; and Perry Thurston. Other senators elected unopposed are Republicans Aaron BeanRob BradleyDavid SimmonsWilton SimpsonTom LeeBill Galvano and Denise Grimsley and Democrats Audrey Gibson and Oscar Braynon. Three House freshmen, all Republicans, got free rides. They are Reps.-elect Don HahnfeldtRalph Massullo; and Michael Grant. (Thurston and Grant are former House members). The other House members elected unopposed are Republicans Halsey BeshearsCyndi StevensonLarry MetzRichard CorcoranDanny BurgessEric EisnaugleCary PigmanJake RaburnJames GrantJim BoydDane EagleHeather Fitzenhagen and Bill Hager, along with Democrats Clovis Watson Jr., Janet CruzJoe AbruzzoLarry LeeBobby DuBoseKristin JacobsJared MoskowitzKatie EdwardsEvan JenneJoe GellerShevrin JonesSharon PritchettCynthia Stafford and Kionne McGhee. If you think this is a bad trend, consider this: Two years ago, 38 House members were elected unopposed.

GEORGE GAINER BECOMES INSTANT WINNER IN SD 2 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics  – “I am humbled and honored to have been elected without drawing another candidate to run against me,” Gainer said in a statement. “From the first day I announced my candidacy, I have worked to visit with as many voters as possible throughout the district. They have my pledge that my door is always open to them and I will do my absolute best to serve them with honor in Tallahassee.” The Senate District 2 race was expected to be one of the most expensive and hotly contested races this election cycle. Gainer was set to face Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican and the son of former Senate President Don Gaetz. At the time, the race had high stakes — Gainer was backed by Sen. Jack Latvala, who was locked in a battle for the Senate presidency with Sen. Joe Negron, of whom the elder Gaetz is an ally. But those stakes dropped significantly when the presidency was decided in Negron’s favor late last year.

IRV SLOSBERG JUMPS INTO STATE SENATE PRIMARY RACE AGAINST JEFF CLEMENS via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Slosberg left a race for an open state Senate seat, one that included much of his current state House district in Boca Raton, to run against sitting state Sen. Clemens … in a district where Slosberg does not live. State law requires legislators to live in the district they represent. “I’m not surprised at all,” Clemens said … “I’ve been hearing for weeks that Republicans were trying to find a Democrat to run against me, and it appears they finally found their man.” Slosberg says Clemens is wrong about Republicans being behind his run. “It’s all bubbe-meisses,” Slosberg said, using a Yiddish term for old wives’ tales. “I had a choice, am I gonna go for where I live or where my constituents live? And my constituents are mostly in [Senate District 31, where Clemens is also running]. My office is in the middle of District 31.”

TOM LEE, BILL GALVANO TO REMAIN POWERFUL GOP VOICES IN SENATE via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – Galvano and Lee were the only candidates to meet Friday’s noon filing deadline and thus have been assured of returning to Tallahassee. Lee’s political future had seemed uncertain after court-ordered redistricting could have placed both him and Galvano in the newly drawn District 21, which covers parts of Hillsborough and Manatee counties. Lee’s political future had seemed uncertain after court-ordered redistricting could have placed both him and Galvano in the newly drawn District 21, which covers parts of Hillsborough and Manatee counties. Lee declined to run against Galvano, and after considering a run for the Hillsborough County Commission opted instead to move within the boundaries of the new District 20. The move keeps two powerful GOP voices in Tallahassee. Galvano is in line to become Senate President in 2019, provided Republicans keep their majority in that body. Lee served as the chair of the appropriations committee in the last session.

RICHARD CORCORAN GETS NO OPPOSITION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, was the only person to qualify for his House seat … Corcoran, who represents District 37, is slated to be the Speaker for the 2017 and 2018 Legislative Sessions … That assumes the GOP maintains its controlling majority in the 120-member House after the 2016 election. It is expected to, currently holding an 81-39 edge. Jose Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican who represents District 110, will follow Corcoran as speaker for 2019 and 2020. He drew an opponent today, Democrat Carlos Puentes Sr. of Hialeah … Chris Sprowls, a third state representative slated for the speakership after Oliva, will face opposition as well. Bernie Fensterwald qualified as a Democrat, records show, and will face the GOP incumbent Sprowls in the November general election for that District 65 seat in Pinellas County.

EMBATTLED REGGIE FULLWOOD EXPLAINS WHY HE DECIDED TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – “The last two years have been very challenging for me to say the least,” Fullwood said in a statement … “However, those challenges pale in comparison to my commitment to continuing my work on behalf of the communities I serve.” After the federal government announced the indictment in April, Fullwood and his lawyers said that he expected to be cleared of the most serious accusations. However, similar controversies have derailed the political career of others even without a conviction. Fullwood told shortly after the charges were filed that he would run for re-election, but his campaign account remained inactive and Fullwood has not reported any fundraising activity. However, he made good on his word when he paid the qualifying fee to appear on the ballot in the August primary. “For the past six years I have had the opportunity to help fund mentoring programs, deliver additional education funds and resources to our local schools and fought for early learning initiatives like VPK. As the work continues, I want to be there to ensure that we do not lose the momentum we’ve gained.”

MIKE REEDY DROPS OUT OF HD 63 RACE, MEANING LISA MONTELIONE WINS DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I wanted to personally let you know that today I have decided to end my campaign for State House,” said Reedy, an organizer with Equality Florida, stated in a message to supporters. “When I began this campaign it was because I felt Tampa deserved an advocate in Tallahassee — someone who would fight for innovative job creation, smart budgeting and fair taxes; lead initiatives to make college more affordable, and see to it that working and middle-class families like my own are heard in Tallahassee.” Reedy is endorsing Montelione and vows to run in the future. “For now, I will continue to serve our community through the boards that I serve, volunteerism and advocacy. This may have been my first race, but it certainly will not be my last.”

WITH NO OPPOSITION, DANE EAGLE WINS RE-ELECTION IN HD 77 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The 33-year-old Cape Coral Republican was first elected to the Florida House in 2012. Despite running unopposed, Eagle built up a substantial war chest in preparation for the election. State records show he raised $113,461 and had nearly $38,000 cash on hand at the end of May. The 2016 election cycle marks the first time Eagle has run unopposed. Eagle wasn’t the only Southwest Florida lawmaker re-elected … State records show Heather Fitzenhagen also appeared to win another term when no other candidate qualified for the House District 78 race.

DAVID RIVERA, MILLIONAIRE? SO SAYS HIS LATEST FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – In the three years since Rivera left Congress — unceremoniously, after a single term and under the cloud of a federal criminal investigation — he’s managed to significantly grow his personal wealth, even as what he does for a living has remained a mystery. He’s worth more than $1.5 million, according to a financial disclosure form he filed this week to qualify as a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. The last time he publicly declared his finances, in a 2012 congressional form that didn’t require a net-worth estimate, he listed just two assets — neither of which suggested he had the makings of a millionaire. Most of Rivera’s newfound wealth lies outside the U.S., in a pair of overseas bank accounts in Mexico and Taiwan each worth more than $300,000, his disclosure shows. He also owns three properties in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula worth $250,000, $100,000 and $50,000, respectively. How Rivera acquired the money and the properties is unknown. For years, Rivera has claimed to be a business development consultant, an amorphous profession with unidentified clients. The only income source listed in his latest disclosure, for calendar year 2015, is $104,000. The money came from Xemma Holdings S.A. de C.V., a company in Merida, Mexico, “in partnership” with Interamerican Consulting, Rivera’s corporate entity registered at his Doral home.

NANCY DETERT TO BECOME COUNTY COMMISSIONER via Zach Murdoch of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The longtime state legislator won election to the Sarasota County Commission District 3 seat without opposition at the close of candidate qualifying … setting Detert up for a return to the local stage where her political career began on the Sarasota County School Board in 1988. “This is such a great community,” Detert said … “I’ve loved it for so long and I think I have the experience to help make this community better.” Detert will join the commission in November, replacing Christine Robinson, who leaves the board after almost two full terms. Detert considers the position a capstone to nearly three decades in public service. But the homework to prepare for the new job has already begun — mostly through tuning into current meetings and rewatching previous commission and county planning board gatherings to get up to speed. That effort is quickly highlighting what is likely to be the biggest adjustment between state and county government. “Sometimes it seems as if we’re handcuffed by my own bureaucracy, and I’m used to moving a little quicker than that,” Detert said.

MORE NOTES FROM THE END OF QUALIFYING all via Florida Politics (which published more than 60 non-paywalled, qualifying-related stories on Friday)

— “With no opposition, Wilton Simpson automatically returns to state Senate

— “David Simmons wins new term in SD 9 for lack of opposition

— “Path appears clear for Dean Asher GOP nomination in SD 13

— “St. Pete trial attorney Augie Ribeiro officially files for SD 19 race

— “Jack Latvala faces only write-in candidate in re-election bid to Florida Senate

— “Tom Taylor, Darren Gardner out of NE Florida State House races

— “David Santiago’s last opponent for GOP HD 27 nod drops out, endorses him

— “Eric Eisnaugle wins another term in busy Central Florida House race filings

— “Jake Raburn, Jamie Grant re-elected without opposition to Tampa Bay-area seats

— “Janet Cruz re-elected without opposition to her HD 62 seat

— “Star Grayson, Alan Grayson’s daughter, files to run in Orange County soil and water conservation District

SHAWN HARRISON SCORES SECOND ‘SEISMIC’ ENDORSEMENT FROM BRIAN LAMB via Tom Jackson of Florida Politics – Lamb, Fifth Third regional bank president, head of the University of South Florida Board of Trustees, immediate past president of the Tampa Bay Partnership and, not insignificantly, a Democrat, is supporting the New Tampa Republican’s re-election to the Florida House of Representatives. Lamb became the second prominent black Democrat in recent days to declare his support for Harrison, joining Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick. Lamb, a point guard on some very good Bulls basketball teams from 1994-98, buttonholed Harrison at a recent awards ceremony for USF alumni, telling his longtime friend, “Whatever I can do, Shawn.” If Reddick’s endorsement was “seismic” — the incumbent’s term — Harrison is counting on Lamb’s voluntary aftershock to help him with the largest employer in District 63, a notoriously swingy puzzle piece stretching from Pebble Creek and across New Tampa to Lake Madeline and Carrollwood. “I think [Lamb] will signal that USF is behind me,” Harrison said. “That’s a powerful thing, to have the leadership of the university on your side.”

AFTER 20 YEARS, MITCH CAESAR WON’T SEEK SIXTH TERM AS BROWARD DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Ceasar first became party chairman in December 1996, and he’s been re-elected every four years – often by mustering the political skills honed by years of party politics to defeat a challenger. By January, he hopes he’ll have a completely new job as Broward County’s elected clerk of the circuit court. He’s one of several candidates in the August primary; the county is so Democratic that the primary winner is virtually guaranteed to become the next court clerk. Because he’s running, Ceasar has already taken a major step away from the party. He put himself on leave as county chairman in August to focus on his campaign, though he’s still a Florida member of the Democratic National Committee. After the primary, he plans to reclaim the keys to the party office for a final three months – and final presidential election. “I’ve decided, because the job I’m running for requires serious attention, that I am not going to run for chairman of the party again. I plan to still be active in the Democratic Party [but] it’s time to pass the political baton to other folks.”

SPOTTED: Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum in the New York Times’ story, “14 Young Democrats to Watch

REGINALD GAFFNEY: A STORY OF MACHINE POLITICS, MONEY AND CORRINE BROWN via Christopher Hong, Steve Patterson and Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union – These days, a year into a tumultuous first term as a Jacksonville city councilman, the heaviest cloud over Gaffney seems to concern his yearslong ties to U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, once an ally and patron saint of sorts for Gaffney’s nonprofit, the Community Rehabilitation Center Inc. The nonprofit was subpoenaed in February to hand over financial information in connection with a federal criminal investigation of Brown. It was another shoe to drop after what had already been a punishing first year in office that included being sued by a taxpayer group over Sunshine Law violations; almost $12,000 in costs for an illegal tax break on a second home; and public shaming for accepting Jaguars game passes to owner Shad Khan’s suite while Khan sought city help upgrading EverBank Field. Reflecting on the turmoil surrounding him, Gaffney echoes the Old Testament, reprising a fundamental question raised in the Book of Job: Why do the righteous suffer? “Why, God? Why me?” Gaffney asked during an interview. “I’ve never stolen anything from nobody. All I try to do is help folks.” But peeling back the layers on the murkier business side of Community Rehabilitation Center … shows Gaffney’s concerns could go beyond his connections with Brown or unflattering headlines.

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THE WORST THING YOU’LL READ TODAY — THE OMINOUS SIGNS BEFORE 2 KIDS WERE SMOTHERED via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald – Anthony Singleton couldn’t find his baby. The infant’s mother had fled their home in Philadelphia — amid ongoing supervision by child welfare authorities, and a bout with severe depression — and Singleton was searching for her frantically … Days later, the police called him. Both Arieland St. Leo were dead, and their mother had been charged in Broward County with deliberately killing them … Pieces of Ariel and St. Leo Hines’ final days, and their mother’s flight from the Philadelphia child protection system, can be cobbled together from a series of records the Miami Herald obtained from the Department of Children & Families … On June 6, while she was staying at a cousin’s apartment in Miramar, Sophia Hines took a bedsheet and held it over St. Leo’s mouth “until [he] was no longer breathing,” a police report says. Hines “then admitted to holding the same sheet over the mouth of [Ariel] until she was no longer breathing.” Hines, 40, “gave no explanation for her actions,” a report says. She was charged with two counts of premeditated murder … though the records bring the family into will will I sharper focus, much of the narrative still remains hidden. Though Florida abuse investigators have asked their Philadelphia counterparts at least twice for documents pertaining to Ariel and St. Leo, records show, only one short document from Philadelphia is contained in the package … suggesting that city has yet to fully comply with Florida’s request … Hines had taken Ariel to a host of doctors, suggesting she had been physically abused or molested, but none of the allegations proved to be founded. First she said Singleton had molested the girl. Later, she accused workers at a nursery of abusing her. One problem, the reports say, was that Ariel was too young to talk about what, if anything, had happened to her. The infant’s birth appears to have been a tipping point: In 2015, after St. Leo was born, Hines developed severe post-partum depression. Hines’ friend told investigators she “had a psychiatric breakdown, and was institutionalized at [Philadelphia’s] Einstein Hospital.”

TWEET, TWEET: Big test of @FLGovScott legacy gets underway this week. $5.4b expansion of Panama Canal could reshape trade routes. .@FLGovScott championed spending tens of millions to help Fla. ports w prospect of increased trade via Panama Will it succeed?

BACKGROUND — “$5.4 billion expansion of Panama Canal could reshape world trade routes” via the Los Angeles Times

CUTS IN ENTERPRISE FLORIDA INCENTIVES SPARK CONCERNS via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY – The incentive — known as the Quick Action Closing Fund — provided Gov. Scott with flexibility to offer cash to companies looking to expand in Florida, and was considered a handy tool in the state’s economic development toolbox for competitive projects. But it was controversial, as were some of the operations of the state’s main economic development organization, Enterprise Florida Inc. Scott sought $250 million for the fund for the fiscal year that begins July 1. But the Florida Legislature decided not to set aside any money. And the fallout from that decision was a major topic of discussion at recent meetings of the Enterprise Florida board of directors and the Ad Valorem Tax Abatement Council of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. Greg Weiner, the Economic Development Commission’s senior director of business development, says he is worried about the lack of money for the Quick Action Closing Fund program. “There have been some major changes — not good ones, actually — at the state level,” Weiner said at a recent meeting of the advisory Ad Valorem Tax Abatement Council. Weiner said he is concerned about Florida in general and the Space Coast in particular losing potential corporate expansions to other states.

ALL’S FAIR? SCOTT LINK CHANGES SIDES AFTER $5 M CITIZENS SUPERLAWYER PAY via Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post – A West Palm Beach lawyer whose firm collected about $5 million in a controversial role as “coach in the press box” for other attorneys at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has stopped doing that job at least a year ahead of a maximum contract term — and now he’s switching sides. Link has touted his experience as coordinating counsel for the state-run company in a PR release announcing he is ready to represent policyholders against insurance companies. “We are extraordinarily disappointed that Scott has taken that position,” Citizens CEO Barry Gilway [said]. “It’s ridiculous,” said state Rep. Frank Artiles … a public adjuster who tried in vain to persuade Citizens board members to vote against a contract with the West Palm Beach law firm. “Now he’s soliciting clients with the free education he got.” Artiles called it an “inside job” in the first place for Citizens to pay millions to a law firm with no prior experience in property insurance — noting the firm did not disclose in its application past compensation it paid an interim Citizens president who was still in office when initial bids went out.

TAMPA FIRM WINS LOTTERY ADVERTISING CONTRACT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Florida Lottery has awarded a lucrative advertising contract to PP+K, a Tampa-based advertising agency. The award, potentially worth tens of millions of dollars … is for “General Marketing Advertising and Related Commodities & Services” … The last time the contract was up it sparked a bid protest after the department awarded a $100 million contract, which included money for ad placements, to St. John & Partners.

GOV. SPURNS CHARLES MCBURNEY IN APPOINTING ROBERT DEES TO JACKSONVILLE JUDGESHIP via Larry Hannan of the Florida Times-Union – Dees is newest circuit judge in the 4th Judicial Circuit, beating out a local state representative who incurred the wrath of the National Rifle Association..Dees, 53, has been in private practice as a partner with Milam, Howard, Nicandri, Dees & Gillam, P.A. since 2002. He is probably best known locally for being the attorney for citizen activist Curtis Lee. Dees was appointed to the position by Rick Scott … [replacing] Harvey Jay, who was recently appointed to the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee by Scott. In appointing Dees, Scott spurned state Rep. McBurney, another finalist for the position. McBurney drew the wrath of the National Rifle Association, and the powerful gun lobby urged Scott to appoint someone else on the list of finalists submitted to him by the local judicial nominating commission. Thousands of people emailed or wrote Scott opposing McBurney. McBurney drew the fire of Second Amendment advocates because his committee did not move forward this year with a measure tied to the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law. The NRA wanted the law amended to state that prosecutors had the burden of proof in showing that Stand Your Ground arguments were not valid.

APPOINTEDRobert Long, Jr. to the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court.

APPOINTEDRobert Dees to the 4th Judicial Circuit Court.

APPOINTEDGary Sanders to the 5th Judicial Circuit Court.

APPOINTEDMichael McDaniel to the 10th Judicial Circuit Court.

APPOINTED: Judge Don Thomas Hall to the 12th Judicial Circuit Court.

APPOINTEDZachary Gill to the Lee County Court.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to the great Ann Herberger, as well as Lydia Claire Brooks and Eric Carr. Celebrating today is one of the best men I’ve ever met, Rick Baker, as well as my bannerman Tony DeSisto, Tara Laxer, and Simone Marstiller.

Our money, Mugabe’s rules … Africa suffers

It is always sad to see corruption stand in the way of economic development, but it is truly heartbreaking when it occurs in the poorest regions of the world.

All too often, the countries that are most in need of aid, investment, and development are they very same countries whose corrupt governments squander their nations’ futures on sweetheart projects with bloated budgets and rampant allegations of graft and misuse of funds.

It also is unfortunately common to see our tax dollars, in the form of USAID grants and loans – like the Millennium Challenge Corporation – and other foreign aid, going towards these state-managed shakedowns.

The final dark irony is that sometimes not only do these nations’ citizens, and we, the US taxpayers, lose out to these corrupt kleptocracies, but sometimes, so do American companies; ethical U.S. businesses and the people they employ are harmed when they can’t fairly compete with foreign companies that are less scrupulous in their foreign business dealings.

One recent example that immediately comes to mind is the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company’s tender for the development of a new 200-megawatt project. Despite Jacksonville, Florida-based, APR Energy Holdings initially winning the tender based on the project price and its ability to meet all technical requirements, the tender approval was quickly revoked.

After intervention from President Robert Mugabe’s (yes, THAT President Mugabe) office, the tender was re-awarded to a less established company, Sakunda. It just so happens that one of Mugabe’s in-laws has a financial stake in Sakunda. This shady deal will result in higher energy costs in a country that is already dealing with crippling debt and budget deficits.

Are we about to see the same thing happen in small, African nation of Benin? We’ll know soon what the answer is.

The same Florida-based APR Energy recently submitted a $35 million bid to build a 120MW power station for much-needed electricity generation in Benin. Apparently, APR had the lowest price by roughly $12 million – some 30% less than the next lowest bidder. Don’t be surprised, however, if the European firm Aggreko or another “connected” firm in the region ultimately “wins” the project, at a significantly higher cost.

Who benefits when countries like Zimbabwe, Benin, or other poor African nations choose to overpay for infrastructure development? It’s surely not the poorest citizens; they will pay extra for the electricity needed to run small businesses and light their homes; or suffer regular power blackouts and brownouts in their communities. The people who need this power the most will pay the highest price for shady government dealings.

Benin’s pending choice could have much bigger consequences for U.S. foreign policy and investment. If Benin decides to forgo transparency and competition, similar internationally financed development projects could suffer when foreign investment is greatly reduced or even cut-off.

While the Mugabe dictatorship in Zimbabwe has made that country an international pariah, Benin is a country with significant potential for growth and development, and an acute need for international assistance to do so.

The U.S. government-backed Millennium Challenge Corporation has pledged to invest $375 million in developing Benin’s energy production sector. Will the US government continue with this commitment if it becomes clear that the Benin government will choose higher-priced and less-qualified companies to execute projects?

Zimbabwe and Benin are but small examples of the broader costs of pervasive corruption in the developing world; it ultimately is the citizens of these nations who bear the brunt of those costs.

The U.S. has an obligation to take corruption into account when administering foreign policy and aid – particularly in struggling nations. And Benin should lead by example, rather than follow in the footsteps of the kleptocrat dictator, Robert Mugabe.

5 quick thoughts about the latest developments from Qualifying Week

The formal qualifying period for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and legislative races ends today at noon. There are so many developments, it’s almost too hard to keep up.


Here are five quick thoughts about the latest developments from Qualifying Week.

— South Florida Republican legislative candidates like Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores have to feel 100% better about their chances this November with vote-magnet Marco Rubio likely back on the ballot.

— Really, Perry Thurston is going to just walk into a state Senate seat?

— The treasurer for Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the Democrat who filed last night against Flores, is Mark Herron. That tells you she was probably recruited by the Florida Democratic Party and that she’ll have at least some institutional support.

— Strip club king Joe Redner has filed as an independent in Senate District 18, where he will run against Rep. Dana Young. Nice to see all of that legislative work Young did to ‘free the growler’ — legislation that directly benefitted Redner’s son, Joey, paid off with Papa Redner running against her.

— Democrat Gary Iscoe is not likely to qualify in the race for House District 89, where Republican Bill Hager is the incumbent.

Sunburn for 6.24.16 – What surprises lurk on the last day of Qualifying Week?

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

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


… what last-minute filings will surprise observers of Florida politics?

Although, after this past week, what’s left that could happen? Marco Rubio’s decision to run for re-election has set off dominoes in a half-dozen directions, with several candidates going back to their political futures they held a year ago.

Stip joint king Joe Redner filed to run for the Florida Senate. In another Senate district, one candidate is alleging another candidate attempted to bribe him him out of the race. And in what is expected to be the mostly expensive state Senate race, Republican Anitere Flores has finally drawn a credible Democratic opponent.

Yesterday, one congressional candidate dropped out and endorsed his opponent. The Democrats finally found someone to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica, while prospective CD 19 candidate Paige Kreegel announced he would not be running for the seat.

Meanwhile, dozens of incumbents are nervously watching the clock, hoping, scratch that, praying that they do not draw a challenger in the final hours.

Be sure to check often for the latest updates today.

DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying closes – 0; State candidate qualifying closes – 0; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 32; Early voting begins in primaries – 57; Primary elections – 67; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 38; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 109; Absentees sent in General Election – 102; Early voting begins in General Election — 127; General Election – 137.

BIG, NEW SUPER PAC WILL MOBILIZE FLORIDA VOTERS via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – For Florida’s Future, a joint super PAC and 501(c)4 organization, aims to highlight and hold accountable candidates for their words and records on specific issues including climate change, student debt and retirement security. The group is affiliated with the national For Our Future PAC led by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer and several prominent labor unions. It aims to raise and spend $50-million in the top battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin. “This election season has proven that nothing can be taken for granted, so our work is focused on empowering and expanding the efforts of existing organizations and coalitions to ensure that the Trump/Rubio ticket and their friends are held accountable for what they have said and done,” said Ashley Walker, a top Democratic consultant in Florida, leading the Sunshine State effort. “By calling out where Trump, Rubio and their allies stand on the issues, we can build an organization that will not just be united in November, but will continue working in 2017 and beyond.” The effort is being put together by Steyer’s NextGen Climate; the American Federation of State; County and Municipal Employees; the American Federation of Teachers; and the National Education Association.

PRIORITIES USA LAUNCHES ‘STOP TRUMP/STOP HATE’ CAMPAIGN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The super PAC backing Hillary Clinton is focusing on millennials with a new multi-million-dollar ad campaign. Priorities USA launched its Stop Trump/Stop Hate campaign … aimed at millennial voters — typically those between the ages of 18 and 34 — in key swing states, including Florida … [with] a 30-second spot called “Dante” … backed by a $500,000 ad buy and will run on pre-roll, Facebook, Instagram and Pandora. The advertisement is expected to air in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina until the convention. “Donald Trump’s mocking of someone with a disability was a troubling look into who he is as a person and proof that he lacks the character necessary to be president of the United States,” said Guy Cecil, the chief strategist at Priorities USA … “The ‘Stop Hate’ campaign is about standing up to hateful bullies like Donald Trump who mock the disabled, call women pigs, and try to divide us because as Dante says, we need a president who inspires us, and that’s not Donald Trump.”

RICK SCOTT BUCKS REPUBLICAN LEADERS, DOESN’T BACK MARCO RUBIO via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott is instead publicly encouraging Carlos Beruff, a Bradenton developer with close ties to the governor, to challenge Rubio in the Republican primary. “Carlos Beruff is a good friend of mine, a businessman and an outsider to politics,” Scott said in a statement. “The voters of Florida deserve the opportunity to consider his candidacy alongside Senator Rubio and make their own decision.” The statement about Beruff is not far off from the governor’s talking points ahead of the presidential preference primary in March: Scott publicly supported Donald Trump in a USA Today op-ed, but he refused to say he was endorsing the then-Republican frontrunner. Asked if he would back Beruff, Scott adviser Melissa Stone reiterated a line in Scott’s statement: “Florida Republicans will pick the nominee on their own.”

JEB BUSH THROWS HIS SUPPORT BEHIND MARCO RUBIO IN U.S. SENATE BID via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics –  Bush took to Twitter to announce his support, saying he is “joining many good conservatives in supporting” Rubio. He continued by saying there is “nothing more important than” keeping a Republican majority in the Senate. Both men were among the more than a dozen Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for president. During the campaign, Bush had a few harsh words, including telling him he should be showing up to work. “I’m a constituent of the Senator, and I helped him, and I expected he would do constituent services, which meant he would show up to work,” said Bush during the CNBC debate in October. “When you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.”

NEW MARCO RUBIO SUPER PAC STARTS UP, BLASTS PATRICK MURPHY via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The 30-second spot from the Florida First Project, titled “Murphy Says,” borrows from a CBS4-Miami report that questioned Murphy‘s resume as a certified public accountant and owner of a small business that helped clean up the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Murphy’s campaign has disputed the report as inaccurate. Florida First is stocked with advisers from Rubio’s unsuccessful presidential campaign and a prior super PAC that supported him … The group said it has bought no airtime for the ad and that, for now, it “will be featured in a statewide digital and integrated social media campaign.” The web ad weaves in its own narration with the voice of CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede, to make three separate allegations. “Murphy was not a small-business owner,” says DeFede said in the report … reporting that Murphy’s business, Coastal Environmental, was “controlled and operated by Coastal Construction,” a large company owned by his father. The second charge alleges that “neither Patrick Murphy nor Coastal Environmental Services were awarded a single contract to clean up oil in the Gulf.” The ad also excerpts a line from CBS4, saying “Murphy has never been a licensed CPA in Florida.”

2 OF RUBIO’S EARLIEST BACKERS NOW DIVIDED OVER HIS CAMPAIGN via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – They were his earliest believers, situated in the heart of Charlie Crist country. Tony DiMatteo and Bill Bunting engineered the straw polls that helped Rubiogain momentum against Crist. But as Rubio mounts another campaign, DiMatteo and Bunting have decidedly different views. Rubio called Bunting yesterday to ask for his help getting into gun shows, Bunting’s specialty. “He wants to make his case on how important the Senate is going to be on Supreme Court justices,” said Bunting of Pasco County. “As soon as he picks up the phone and starts calling people, I think within minutes people will be on board.” Rubio won’t be calling DiMatteo. “If it’s between Rubio and a Democrat, I won’t vote in that race,” the Pinellas County Republican said. DiMatteo has a grudge against Rubio because Rubio did not follow through on what DiMatteo said was a promise to help him become state GOP chairman. “He’s a damn liar and I have no respect for him at all. Everything I say is on the record, by the way.” DiMatteo says Rubio’s re-election bid is about one thing: “He wants to be president. He’s extremely self-serving.” But he thinks Rubio will win. “If (CarlosBeruff and (ToddWilcox stay in there, I think Marco wins easily. If one decides to back the other, leaving one outsider versus Marco, then it’s different.”

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SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST PATRICK MURPHY, ALLEGES STRAW DONOR SCHEME via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The complaint, filed with the Federal Election Commission … calls on federal elections officials to investigate what it calls “a highly suspicious network of contributors” to Murphy. The organization goes on to say the “evidence strongly indicates” contributions were “made in the name of another, straw donors and corresponding reporting violations.” The complaint also includes Charlie Crist and his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign. “Specifically, these donors have no prior contribution history other than the out-of-state contributions or closely-clustered dates; and the only apparent connection between these donors is a wealthy, close ally of Patrick Murphy named Ibrahim Al-Rashid,” the complaint reads. The Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC that aims “to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority.” The group — which is run by Steven Law, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff — is set to support Sen. Marco Rubio in his re-election bid.

MURPHY CAMPAIGN PUSHES BACK ON CBS MIAMI STORY ON EXAGGERATED BUSINESS BACKGROUND via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Murphy’s campaign is responding to a critical report claiming the Jupiter Representative has exaggerated business claims in his resume, that aired on WFOR-TV, Miami’s CBS affiliate by reporter Jim DeFede. In a statement … campaign spokesman Joshua Karp writes: “CBS Miami’s deeply false story is completely inaccurate in several claims,” adding that “there have already been seven corrections to their story.” A spokesman for WFOR-TV, Lori Conrad [said] “we stand by our reporting.” The story reported on what has been unearthed in other publications — that Murphy is not a licensed CPA in Florida. It also indicated he had to take his CPA exam nine times to be registered to work in the field in Colorado. The story also said that, unlike his frequent claims, Murphy has never been a small-business owner. DeFede reported Murphy was the vice president of Coastal Environmental Services, but reports it was actually a subsidiary of his father’s Coastal Construction Company and not his own small business that he created. “Patrick is a licensed CPA,” Karp says in the response … “He was an accountant and auditor at Deloitte, earned his CPA license while working there, and continued to work there auditing Fortune 500 companies after earning his license. CBS Miami’s sensational claim is completely false … CBS Miami’s report shows … Murphy owned an environmental cleanup company, owned skimming vessels, and had contracts to clean up oil. Our campaign even shared the cleanup contracts with an investigative reporter, contracts that America Rising was so sure didn’t exist they created a whole iPhone app about them.” America Rising is a political action committee that produces opposition research on Democrats.

— “Murphy’s campaign responds, says CBS Miami story ‘deeply false’ – but is it?” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald

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JEFF MORAN DROPS OUT, BACKS KEN SUKHIA IN CD 2 via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Moran’s move cuts the four-way GOP candidate pool down to three, and helps Sukhia consolidate his support in the more-populous eastern half of the sprawling eastern Panhandle district. “Spending as much time on the campaign trail as I have, you get to know the other candidates pretty well. I’ve gotten to know Ken Sukhia, and I’m endorsing him today because of his personal integrity,” said Moran. “His actions match his words. He has such a passion for conservative causes, there is no doubt in my mind that he will go to Washington and fight with integrity for all of us … Dropping out of the race was a tough decision, especially so because I think it’s still anyone’s race to win. But I am drawn to public service, and I’m going to do everything I can to find a way to serve in elective office in the very near future.”

FRANCIS ROONEY SAYS HE WILL WORK TO ‘WIPE ISIS OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH’ IN NEW CD 19 AD via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In the new advertisement, Rooney says the country is “at war with radical Islamic terrorism.” The 30-second spot, called “We are at War,” features clips of newscasters talking about the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. “The brutal attack in Orlando was yet another wake-up call. ISIS is hell-bent on killing innocent Americans,” the Naples Republican says … “In Congress, I’ll fight back against Barack Obama’s senseless defense cuts to help restore American leadership and to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth.” The advertisement is the second one Rooney has released since jumping into the race to replace Curt Clawson in Congress. This is Rooney’s first time running for elected office, and he’s expected to spend a significant amount of money on advertising this election cycle.

JOE REDNER FILES TO RUN AS AN INDEPENDENT IN SENATE DISTRICT 18 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Adult club impresario and progressive activist Redner is once again running for office, this time in the Senate District 18 race that features Republican Dana Young and Democrat Bob Buesing battling it out. He calls Young a “typical, no-caring Republican,” and says that while he thinks Buesing is a nice man, he believes the left needs someone more confrontational to serve in Tallahassee. “Confrontation brings notice, it makes people aware of what’s going on,” he said … “Too many times you find your state senator voted for or against something, and it’s way too late.” Redner … says he cares deeply about protecting the environment, specifically mentioning Lake Okeechobee and the St. John’s River, as well as expanding solar power in the Sunshine State. He also says the underfunding of education and the issue of guns are big issues for him, but then again he says, “I think every time I open the paper I get a goddamned issue,” adding that “somebody needs to stop that whole friggin’ thing. Nobody will protest what’s going on up there,” he says.

— “Trying to scare away Democratic rivals, Anitere Flores reveals more union support” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

SAVE THE DATE: Estero Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues is hosting a fundraiser Monday, June 27, for his re-election bid in House District 76. Event begins 5 p.m. at Andrews Capital Bar & Grill, 228 South Adams St. in Tallahassee.

2018 WATCH — JACK SEILER SETS SIGHTS ON ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Fort Lauderdale Mayor Seiler, a Democrat, is letting people know he intends to run for an office that has been in Republican hands since 2002, the year another Broward County politician, Bob Butterworth, left office. “I’m leaning heavily toward running for attorney general,” Seiler told the Times/Herald. “First and foremost, you’ve got to restore the public servant approach to elected office. I think the attorney general’s office can be more active than it is currently, and more focused on making sure Floridians’ rights are protected.” Seiler … was elected mayor in 2009 and re-elected in 2012 and 2015. He says the timing is right for him to run in 2018 because his youngest child will be off to college. He was a member of the Florida House from 2000 to 2008. Under his tenure as mayor, he has cut taxes and attracted jobs. The city’s skyline and world famous beach has continued to expand, at times reviving a perennial debate about overdevelopment in a city with many active homeowners’ associations. Seiler’s tenure has not been without controversy. Two years ago, he voted against a city same sex marriage resolution, saying marriage is not an issue regulated by the city, which he said “absolutely and unconditionally” treats all marriages equally.

FLORIDA DIVIDED OVER TRANSGENDERS AND BATHROOMS via the Sunshine State News –  A new [Quinnipiac University] poll shows Florida is divided on which bathrooms transgenders should use but against the idea of forcing public schools to allow transgendered students to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with. Asked if transgenders should be allowed to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with, 48 percent of Floridians say yes while 44 percent are against the idea. There’s a major partisan gap on the matter with 27 percent of Republicans saying yes and 63 percent against it. Democrats go the opposite direction with 68 percent of them supporting transgenders using bathrooms of the gender they identify with while 28 percent are against it. Voters outside the major parties are more divided with 48 percent of them supporting transgenders using bathrooms of the gender they identify with while 42 percent are against it. The poll finds other major divides in Florida on this matter. Whites, voters younger than 50 and women generally support allowing transgenders to use bathrooms of the gender they identify with while non-whites, males and older voters break the other way. But Florida voters are against a bathroom mandate on public schools with a majority–54 percent–opposed to the idea while 37 percent support the idea. Republicans, voters outside the major parties, voters 35 and older, males and both whites and non-whites stand against the idea. Democrats and voters younger than 35 are far more supportive. Female voters are more divided with 44 percent supporting a mandate on public schools over bathroom policies while 47 percent are against it.

RICK SCOTT AUTHORIZES $26 MILLION IN EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR ZIKA via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – With a continuing deadlock on federal funding for the Zika virus … Scott used his emergency executive authority to provide $26.2 million in state funding to prepare and prevent the spread of the virus in Florida … [From] the statement from his office: “The $26.2 million from the state’s General Revenue fund will only be released as needed and will be spent solely for the purpose of Zika preparedness, including: Mosquito surveillance and abatement; Training for mosquito control technicians; Enhanced laboratory capacity; and The purchase of CDC Zika Prevention Kits … Scott has directed Surgeon General Dr. Philip to oversee the process of allocating these state funds which will go directly to the efforts of Florida’s county health departments, local mosquito districts and laboratories based on their needs to combat Zika. The federal government has only allocated $153,844 for epidemiology and lab support, $500,000 for seven counties for mosquito control and $40,856 in lab supplies and personnel. If additional federal funds are eventually allocated to the state, it will be used to reimburse any state General Revenue already spent.”

APPOINTED: Ambassador John Rood to Florida Prepaid College Board.

APPOINTEDColonel Neal CarbaughSimon Canasi and Ernie Trichler to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board.


Barney Bishop, Barney Bishop Consulting: Jackson county School Board

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: Florida Association for Care and Ethical Services

Stuart Fiertz: Cheyne Capital US

Nick IarossiChristopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Martin County

Ron Watson, Watson Strategies: Florida Renal Coalition


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Analyst Lawrence Miller talks about 2016 national politics.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS Miami: U.S. Sen. Rubio.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman, Manatee County Democratic Party Chair Sheryl Wilson, Hillsborough County Republican Treasurer Bob Emerson, and Eckerd College VP Kelly Kirschner.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay: Former state Rep. Betty Reed, candidate for a Bay Area state Senate seat.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan on the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting, plus PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim by Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton, and which candidate women actually prefer.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon, Ed Moore, and Bob McClure of the James Madison Institute.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Florida State College at Jacksonville Cynthia Bioteau, Duval County Democrat Lisa King, and Eric Friday of Florida Carry.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Blake Dowling and Tara Price.

Conservation group takes Marco Rubio to task, calls him ‘wrong for Florida’

Shortly after Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced he would run for re-election, environmentalist group League of Conservation Voters took him to task for his positions on the environment and said he was “wrong for Florida.”

“Marco Rubio’s failed run for president laid bare his true colors,” the group said in a Wednesday email. “Rubio is dangerously out of step with Floridians and has taken every opportunity to advocate for the big polluters that have contributed over $700,000 to his campaign.”

In addition to calling out his campaign donors, LCV took umbrage with Rubio denying man-made climate change, his votes against certain wind and solar initiatives in the U.S. Senate and his opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement, a greenhouse gas reduction plan the U.S. and dozens of other countries signed on to earlier this year.

“With a lifetime LCV score of 6 percent, Marco Rubio’s record and positions on a whole host of environmental issues are clear evidence that he is wrong for Florida, wrong for the Senate and wrong for our country,” the group said.

Marco Rubio announced he would run for re-election Wednesday, reversing the pledge he made at the end of his presidential campaign that he would return to private life when his term was up.

Since the announcement, the first-term U.S. Senator picked up support from National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican Party of Florida and even his former rival, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

The hours after the Miami Republican’s announcement also brought harsh criticism from U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, who are running for his seat, and a wave of attack ads from pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Sunburn for 6.23.16 – So, that happened

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

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

The race to replace Marco Rubio is now a race to unseat him.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he is running for a second term in the U.S. Senate. The announcement came just two days before the end of the qualifying period, and instantly reshaped the Republican field.

Ron DeSantis and Carlos Lopez-Cantera are out. Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox are staying in. And Democrats — and maybe a few of his Republican opponents — are prepared to ask voters how they can trust Rubio if his one of first acts as Senate candidate was a flip-flop.

Rubio says he is prepared for the criticism, even addressing it in his announcement Wednesday morning.

“In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes. I have decided to seek re-election to the United States Senate,” he said. “I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me. Have at it. Because I have never claimed to be perfect, or have all the answers.”

But his decision to run after repeatedly saying he wouldn’t run won’t be his only challenge. The Aug. 30 primary is about two months away. Absentee ballots go out to military and oversees voters on July 16. The first wave of domestic ballots goes out July 26.

He needs to build up his campaign infrastructure and raise loads of campaign cash. He will need to overcome criticism over missed votes and comments indicating he disliked serving in the Senate.

Another challenge? Donald Trump clobbered Rubio in the Sunshine State’s March 15 presidential preference primary. Trump received nearly 46 percent of the vote — compared to Rubio’s 27 percent — and came out on top in 66 of Florida’s 67 counties.

And while Rubio’s entry into the race comes with the support of many in the Republican establishment, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, that could be a double edge sword. In a year of outsider candidates, Rubio is on the inside looking out.

“Remember when Washington anointed Crist over Rubio? Now Washington has anointed Rubio,” tweeted Curt Anderson, a top adviser. “That’s a terrible place to be.”

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Laura Jolly, wife of U.S. Rep. David Jolly: “David was right…”


— @TeamMarco: Be honest. You missed us, right?
If you don’t get why Rubio reversed course, I will sum it up in 1 word: Ambition.

— @AdamSmithTimes: Doubt anyone can convince me @marcorubio reelection hasnt been in works for months

— @CHeathWFTV: Part of what hurt Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid was not going local, only doing national media. Today? He’s on @MSNBC @CNN

— @JamesPindell: Rubio doesn’t reject @mkraju question premise of that if he loses #FLSen re-election his political career is over

— @MRMasferrer: I have a feeling @CarlosBeruff v @marcorubio could get loud like when my Cuban family argued politics #Cubanity

AND NEVER FORGET THIS TWEET from May 27: @MarcACaputo: I really wish I could make a bet on Rubio not running for Senate in 2016. I would make money from so many people


Carlos Beruff: “Voters all across this state are fed up with the status quo. Career politicians like Marco Rubio worry more about keeping the job than doing the job, and are constantly looking for their next political promotion. I have real world experience and will bring my business mindset to the massive problems facing our country, problems that have only gotten worse while Marco Rubio has been our Senator. This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them. Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Alan Grayson: “While Rep. Grayson is busy passing good, progressive legislation, he welcomes the chance to beat basically two Do Nothing Republicans in Patrick Murphy and No Show Marco this fall. But it’s shameful that Marco is trying to use the Orlando tragedy to further his 2020 presidential ambitions from a Senate seat that he’s barely sat in. Floridians will see through it. The Trump-Rubio ticket will fail.”

American Bridge: “Marco may have some L-i-d-d-l-e problems with Trump, like not believing that he’s stable enough to have the nuclear codes, but Rubio supports Trump nonetheless–even offering to speak for him at the GOP convention–and Trump sure believes in Marco. As Trump’s campaign continues it’s downward trajectory, Marco can look forward to high stakes in Florida because of Trump. Rubio faces losing twice in one cycle–quite the accomplishment for the junior senator.”

DSCC: “During his first term, Marco Rubio has amassed the worst voting record of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years. Senator Rubio simply couldn’t be bothered to show up for work, and when he asked Florida voters for a promotion in the Presidential primary, they swiftly shut him down and handed him a nearly 20 point loss to Donald Trump. That’s the same Donald Trump who Rubio called a “con artist” who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes who he has now heartily endorsed and will be forced to run alongside. Unfortunately for Florida voters, when Marco Rubio did decide to show up for work, he voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program, defund critical women’s health services, and keep open a loophole that allows terrorists to purchase guns. Now, he is cravenly using the deadliest mass shooting in American history as the springboard to go back on his word and further his political career. They said it couldn’t be done, but Marco Rubio’s actions, words and votes reveal one of the more self-serving Washington politicians who has always put his political career above the people he represents. If there is one thing that we can agree on with Marco Rubio, it’s his promise that he will be a private citizen come January after he loses to Florida’s next Senator, Patrick Murphy.”

Florida Democratic Party’s Allison Tant: “The only thing more inexcusable and embarrassing than Marco Rubio’s failure to accomplish anything of note in the Senate is his callous exploitation of the Orlando tragedy in an effort to kickstart his reelection campaign. Rubio lost 66 of 67 counties in March because he abandoned the people of Florida and showed himself to be nothing but an opportunistic career politician. Today’s news only confirms that further. Floridians deserve better than a career politician who claims nothing can be done to prevent future gun violence, works against immigrant families and LGBT rights, actively speaks out against women making their own health care decisions, and can’t even bother to show up to vote most days. Republicans and Democrats alike flat-out rejected Rubio this presidential cycle, and Floridians are done tolerating a self-centered opportunist who refuses to do the job he was hired to do. A panicked Senatorial bid will not rehabilitate Marco Rubio’s destroyed reputation. As he’s said time and time again, Marco Rubio will be a private citizen in January of 2017.” 

NRSC: “Marco Rubio is a valued leader for Florida and for our country, and I welcome his decision to ask voters for the opportunity to serve once again. Senator Rubio has made a lasting impact when it comes to standing up against the failed Obama agenda and has articulated a clear vision for making our country safer and more prosperous. His campaign will have the full support of the NRSC. While Marco is already in a strong position to win, Democrats are currently locked in a bruising primary that will produce a weak nominee and cost millions of dollars. The Democrat establishment has gone all-in for Patrick Murphy, who has fabricated every piece of his resume except for the fact that he is a sitting Congressman and holds his office thanks to a family fortune. Alan Grayson is, in a word, unelectable. Neither candidate is a match for Marco Rubio, and I will be proud to have him as a member of our Republican majority for years to come.”

HOW #RUBIOREELCT IS PLAYING — POLITICORubio skips foreign policy hearing as he announces reelection – “Rubio missed a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday morning — at the same time he was announcing plans to run for reelection.” South Florida Sun SentinelRubio flip-flops on re-election, wants another term as U.S. senator – “Rubio abandoned his complete, repeated and unequivocal vow not to run for re-election … But his popularity at home dipped after absorbing the slings and arrows from rivals — plus self-inflicted wounds — during his unsuccessful presidential campaign.” Tampa Bay TimesRubio reverses course, announces he’s running for re-election to the Senate – “In a major reversal highlighting Republican fear over losing the Senate majority and his own ambition … Rubio will break a longstanding promise not to seek re-election…” PolitiFactRubio flip-flops on running for Senate – “We rate his change in position as a Full Flop.” Huffington PostRubio decides to run for Senate again – “‘I’ll be a private citizen in January,’ Rubio said. He has even spoken about his displeasure with his time in the Senate.” Washington ExaminerRubio faces rocky road to re-election – “Rubio’s future now rests on winning re-election to the Senate, but he faces a rocky road … Losing his home state twice in one year would be a devastating blow, possibly one from which he couldn’t recover.” Washington PostThe 2016 election shows why people don’t trust politicians – “He has said the attack on Orlando 10 days ago changed things for him, but even before then, it was clear that there was some potential waffling going on. And you wonder why people don’t trust what politicians say.” Daily BeastRubio wants to return to a job he hates – “It took just one year for Rubio to go from Beltway darling to ‘bless his heart’ …  known for years as ambition in human form … Even as he ran, it was clear to most Florida political watchers that Rubio viewed the Senate as a mere steppingstone to the presidency.” MSNBCRubio breaks his word, decides to seek re-election – “This reversal will surprise no one; the far-right senator has been telegraphing the move for weeks. It was largely a matter of when, not if, Rubio would go back on his promise to the public. But that doesn’t make the reversal any less ridiculous.” Washington PostRubio is running for Senate again. So that he can run for president again – “And, remember that Rubio has said — lots of time — that he didn’t like the Senate and thought it didn’t do much of anything. Two quick quotes to that end: 1) ‘We’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen.’ 2) ‘I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word. I’m frustrated.’” New York Times, In reversal, Rubio to seek re-election to Senate – “… a reversal that will reshape one of the most competitive races in the country.” Bloomberg, Rubio to seek Senate re-election after presidential loss – “Rubio now faces the additional challenge of explaining to Florida voters why he changed his mind after making so many definitive statements …” Miami Herald, Rubio says yes to another Senate run after all – “’I mean, I spent more time designing the defense for the sixth-grade football team at Florida Christian School than I did thinking of running for office over the last couple of months,’ he said.” New York MagazineRubio comes full circle, will run for reelection – “Since he telegraphed this latest flip-flop extensively … he will immediately have to sit down and eat bowl after bowl of his own words. But a bigger problem is probably the contempt he so often showed for the Senate during his presidential campaign.”

RUBIO LOBBIED TED CRUZ FOR HIS SUPPORT IN SENATE RACE via Washingtonian – According to two aides briefed on the Tuesday phone call, Rubio asked Cruz to blast out a statement urging Rubio to run for reelection, “so it’s not just Mitch [McConnell]” asking him to do so, as one aide described it.

RUBIO SKIPS FOREIGN POLICY HEARING AS HE ANNOUNCES RE-ELECTION via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – While it’s not unusual for a senator to miss hearings, Rubio‘s timing played directly into the Democratic narrative that he has neglected his job. In a series of interviews and statements … Rubio announced his plans to seek a second term, after insisting for months he would retire from the Senate. Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement that it’s “unbelievable” that Rubio had “the audacity to skip a Foreign Relations Committee hearing while simultaneously announcing he would go back on his word and run for reelection.” Rubio’s office had no comment.

RUBIO EXPLAINS WHY HE WON’T CAMPAIGN FOR DONALD TRUMP via Nick Gass of POLITICO – “It’s not that I’m looking to undermine him, but I think the differences between us on key issues are so significant that I just don’t plan to campaign — I’ve got to run my own race,” Rubio told CNN … “I have my own identity. I have my own positions on issues, and I’m not going to be out there undermining him or anything of that nature because I don’t want Hillary to win, but I really think I need to tell people what I’m going to do as a senator as opposed to, kind of, and that was going to be the case irrespective of whether I ran.”

RUBIO MAY SEE COMPLICATIONS IF HE WANTS TO CAMPAIGN ON ADDICTION TREATMENT ISSUE via Tarini Parti of BuzzFeed News– Sens. Rob Portma, Kelly Ayotte, and Pat Toomey are now highlighting their vote on Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in ads and on the campaign trail as they seek to localize their race in an election year where the party’s standard bearer could cost them their seats in swing states. The same might be expected from Rubio — who will run for re-election in a state that’s often called the “pill mill capital” — but there’s one problem: He didn’t actually vote on the bill because of his presidential campaign. Although he co-sponsored the bill, already, Democrats are attacking him in a web video for his absence in the Senate. “Marco Rubio failed to show up for work,” the text in the recently release video reads with news clips that go through the senator’s missed votes. And, in Florida, some say there’s more to his record on prescription drug legislation that doesn’t quite fit the current trend toward robust legislation to restrict illegal access to prescription drugs and to increase addiction treatment. When he was a member of the state House, Rubio was accused of killing a bill pushed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush that would have created a prescription-drug monitoring program, according to news reports from the time and interviews with those involved. Those close to the senator say the failure of the bill in the state House was more tied to privacy concerns, not politics. “The failure of this bill was my biggest disappointment in the legislature,” said then-state Sen. Locke Burt, a Republican who sponsored the legislation …  “It caused more deaths than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … I got it out of the Senate four different times. Rubio in my view had a major role in killing it.”

IS THIS THE NEW RUBIO SUPER PAC? via Alex Roarty of Roll Call – Does Rubio‘s Senate campaign already have an accompanying super PAC?  The Federal Election Commission reported the creation of the Florida First Project, a new super PAC that listed a Tampa address. The timing of the group’s creation will raise eyebrows; given that it came on the same day that Rubio announced he was running for re-election. Supporters of the senator had reportedly been told over the weekend to prepare for his return to the campaign trail, so it’s possible Rubio allies moved pre-emptively to lay the groundwork for a new group. The sole name listed on the report also offers another connection to Rubio. Nancy Watkins, a Republican operative based in Tampa, is listed as the super PAC’s treasurer. She was also the treasurer for Rubio’s presidential super PAC, Conservative Solutions PAC. Watkins is the treasurer for a number of super PACs, so her inclusion in the group doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a group that plans to support Rubio. In a brief interview, she declined to say who created Florida First Project or why it was created.

NARAL TO BEGIN AIRING ADS ATTACKING RUBIO IN FLORIDA via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – During his ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign … Rubio went further than most Republicans ever have when he said he would deny abortion to women who are survivors of rape and incest … the pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice began airing TV ads against Rubio following the New Hampshire primary on that issue. Now with the Florida Senator … will run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat, the group says they will begin airing that same 30-second TV ad in the Sunshine State, beginning later this week. “Rubio would deny the choice of an abortion to all Americans, even those who are survivors of rape and incest,” said Sasha Bruce, senior vice president for campaigns and strategy at NARAL. “While Rubio may try to portray himself as some sort of new generation of Republican, his position on abortion is from the Dark Ages and is far more extreme than even many of his Republican colleagues. While Rubio’s record is thin, his priorities of rolling back reproductive freedoms are crystal clear. And those priorities are wrong for Florida and the nation.”

CARLOS BERUFF HITS RUBIO IN COUNTY WHERE RUBIO STRUGGLED IN PREZ PRIMARY via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Beruff told the Republican audience in Bay County Wednesday that he is not budging and will remind voters of how much Rubio has skipped out on doing his job in Congress and how little real world business experience Rubio has. Beruff had a receptive audience in Bay County, where he’s made four stops since March and has just ramped up his television advertising in the area. It’s also a county where Rubio won less than 20 percent of the GOP presidential primary vote against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in March.

— “Jeb Bush would back Rubio if asked” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo back Marco Rubio” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

— “Club for Growth endorses Rubio, Ron DeSantis” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “Laura Ingraham slams Rubio — says DeSantis should stay in Senate race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics


FLORIDA’S NEVER-ENDING RUBIO/CHARLIE CRIST SHOW via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Rubio and Crist, two talented and ferociously self-serving Florida politicians, are both campaigning for political comebacks this Fall. Neither has much experience doing actual work in the private sector, neither wants to spend the next couple of years toiling unnoticed outside of Washington, and neither is a sure thing to avoid that fate. Certainly, the odds favor Crist … winning a South Pinellas Congressional seat that has been drawn to heavily favor a Democrat. Likewise, Rubio … is the clear favorite to win a second term now that he has reversed his promise not to run again that he made while running for president. But each will be dogged by questions and doubts about whether he is first and foremost an opportunist who cares more about himself than his constituents … Probably Rubio and Crist will wind up together in Washington as rivals from different parties, nearly a decade after they worked together in Tallahassee as rivals within the same party. Both have serious obstacles in front of them, especially their own self-seeking images. At some point, voters expect their leaders to do their jobs and not keep looking for the next one. We’ll soon see whether they decide enough is enough with Rubio and Crist. In the meantime, though, Crist does not rule out running for governor again in 2018, and Rubio does not rule out running for president again in 2020.

IT’S NOT THAT RUBIO RENEGED; IT’S THAT HE DID A LOUSY JOB IN SENATE via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – The fact that Rubio reneged on a vow not to run for re-election to the United States Senate isn’t that big of a deal. Politicians change their minds all the time. That fact that he has done a spectacularly lousy job since Floridians sent him to the Senate in 2010 is a much bigger deal, a piece of reality Marco apologists choose to ignore. And then there is this: A part of his motivation to return to a job he has loudly and often said he loathes was some sort of epiphany after the Orlando massacre June 12. The nation, of course, reacted with horror about the shooting that left 49 people dead in a gay nightclub, and no one is saying Rubio wasn’t as horrified as everyone else at the carnage. It does seem a bit disingenuous, though, in view of Rubio’s voting record on gay issues, to use that as a reason for wanting to keep his job. Lest we forget, the Orlando shooting was a hate crime specifically targeted against gays, and has fought against marriage equality and gay parenting. He was against legislation banning workplace discrimination against gays. He advocates appointing Supreme Court justices that will roll back many of the advances made by the LGBT community. Even giving Rubio the benefit of the doubt on all that as he seeks a second term, the biggest question is whether he would even show up for work.

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DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying closes – 1; State candidate qualifying closes – 1; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 33; Early voting begins in primaries – 58; Primary elections – 68; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 39; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 110; Absentees sent in General Election – 103; Early voting begins in General Election — 128; General Election – 138.

THE MAKING OF PATRICK MURPHY via Jim DeFede of CBS Miami – Investigating Murphy’s top talking points touting his work as a CPA who could whip Congress into fiscal shape and his claim to have started a small business to help clean up the BP oil spill. The result? “What we found was concerning” … Murphy “exaggerated” his resume and “made claims that were misleading or outright false” … Patrick Murphy was “not a small-business owner” … Murphy’s supposed small business, Coastal Environmental Services, was “controlled and financed” by his wealthy father, who purchased a business already doing cleanup … Despite Murphy’s claim to have “several” contracts, neither Patrick Murphy nor Coastal Environmental Services “were awarded a single contract to clean up oil in the Gulf” … Murphy was quickly left with four oil skimmers “but no work” and the vessels have “not generated a penny of revenue” in six years. The (actual) CPA hired by CBS Miami to review Murphy’s financial documents said that the single document Murphy provided doesn’t provide “any picture of the financial health or operations of the company.” Despite Murphy’s claims to have turned a modest profit, any profits Coastal Environmental Services made have been spent on fees to store the boats, and the “company” is now operating at a loss every month. Murphy built his first campaign for Congress around his supposed experience as a certified public accountant, but he took his CPA exam in Colorado because it was easier to pass – and still had to take the exam nine times. Murphy’s CPA license was never valid in Florida, and his title at the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche was actually “Audit Assistant.”


CARLOS LOPEZ CANTERA ENDS SENATE BID, ENDORSES RUBIO via the Sunshine State News – Lopez-Cantera met with Rubio last week after the jihadist terrorist attack in Orlando and urged his friend to run for a second term … with reports out that Rubio was running for reelection, Lopez-Cantera ended his Senate bid. “I want to thank all of my supporters in this campaign, and I want to congratulate and thank Marco for his decision to pursue re-election to the U.S. Senate,” Lopez-Cantera said. “As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be. Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Governor Scott focusing on Florida … I spent nearly a year on an incredible journey campaigning for this race and I know firsthand the investment of time, energy and resources that go into this, but this race is bigger than any one person.”

RON DESANTIS ENDS SENATE BID, PURSUES REELECTION TO CONGRESS via the Sunshine State News – DeSantis becomes the third Republican to leave the race in recent days … “Marco Rubio’s announcement changes the contours of the U.S. Senate race in Florida,” said DeSantis. “As a well-known incumbent, Senator Rubio is a strong bet to win what will be a pivotal U.S. Senate race in a challenging political environment. Casey and I are grateful for the support we have received across Florida and throughout the country and plan to continue the fight for limited government principles and a strong national defense.” DeSantis will run for the seat he currently holds. “In light of the Rubio development, I can best advance the cause by running for reelection to the U.S. House in the 6th Congressional District, where I can continue protecting taxpayers, promoting economic growth, helping our veterans and supporting our military,” DeSantis announced.

BRANDON PATTY WITHDRAWS FROM CD 6 RACE via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Patty, in many respects, is cut from the same cloth as Ron DeSantis, the incumbent Republican in Florida’s 6th Congressional District. A young, telegenic Republican with a strong sense of America taking an assertive role in the foreign policy sphere, it was and is easy to see Patty as a rising star in the Florida and national GOP. With DeSantis out of the Senate race and running for re-election, Patty revealed he would not be running for the Republican nomination in CD 6 after all. In terms of timing, having to announce this is bittersweet. Rubio was slated to headline a D.C. fundraiser for Patty this evening, which would have been a boost to his campaign in a crowded CD 6 field. Now, however, Patty is suspending his campaign and endorsing DeSantis for re-election and Rubio for Senate. And the festivities in Washington will be a “thank you” event.

DAVID SANTIAGO TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION IN HD 27 INSTEAD OF CONGRESS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – With DeSantis announcing his intention to run for re-election in Florida’s 6th Congressional District instead of running for Rubio’s Senate seat, that prompted Santiago to rethink the move to the U.S. House. William McBride, a Republican who sought to replace Santiago in the Florida House, has already dropped his bid.

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GREG EVERS’ AR-15 GIVEAWAY IS STILL A GO via The Associated Press – The Baker Republican, who’s running in the GOP primary for the open seat in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, announced he’s giving away a “Homeland Defender” AR-15 rifle July 4. But Monday night, Facebook pulled a post about the contest because it was “promoting graphic violence.” The Evers campaign says someone in California reported the post. Campaign spokesman Brian Burgess stated that they had anticipated somebody would object and that all contest entries have been saved. Anyone in Evers’ district can still enter by liking Evers’ Facebook page or by liking and sharing one of Evers’ posts. Burgess said the original post had more than 1,100 likes and nearly 900 shares.

DEMOCRATS FIND A CHALLENGER AGAINST JOHN MICA via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Stephanie Murphy, a Rollins College business professor from Winter Park, will run for the District 7 congressional seat with the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Murphy, 37, was a strategy consultant with Deloitte Consulting and worked in the U.S. Department of Defense while earning a Masters degree in foreign service, international finance and commerce at Georgetown University. Citing her business and foreign policy backgrounds, Murphy criticized the Republican-controlled Congress for not passing “common sense” gun control legislation. Murphy also spoke about her family’s background, leaving a Vietnamese refugee camp when she was 6 months old and settling in northern Virginia. She said her parents worked as laborers while she and her brother became the first of her family to go to college.

PAIGE KREEGEL NOT RUNNING IN CD 19, ENDORSES CHAUNCEY GOSS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Kreegel, a former state representative, announced this week he has decided not to run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Curt Clawson. Kreegel, who ran in 2012 and in a special election in 2014, said “now is not the right time” for U.S. House run. Kreegel said Florida’s 19th Congressional District needs “stable, honest, hardworking representation.” He said voters need to “stop looking to ‘outsiders’ who we don’t know and who inevitably disappoint us by their actions.” In announcing his decision not to run, Kreegel threw his support behind Sanibel Island Republican Chauncey Goss. Goss ran for the seat in 2012.

FLORIDA CHAMBER ENDORSES DOUG HOLDER FOR SD 23 – “As a state representative … Holder consistently championed free-enterprise, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce believes he will bring that same spirit for free enterprise to the Florida Senate,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Strategy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce … According to a news release, Holder’s “strong pro-jobs, pro-business commitment to helping create private-sector jobs and moving Florida’s economy in the right direction” are among the key reasons he has secured the Florida Chamber’s endorsement. During his tenure in the Florida House of Representatives, Holder consistently earned an “A” on the Florida Chamber’s annual Legislative Report Card.

MY TAKE: BECAUSE OF DONALD TRUMP, ‘WINTER IS COMING’ FOR DOWN BALLOT FLORIDA REPUBLICANS, NEW POLL SHOWS via Florida Politics – If [Tuesday’s] new Quinnipiac poll of the presidential race in Florida was a foreboding sign for the Trump campaign that Winter is Coming … polling numbers out of Congressional District 27 in Miami should be proof positive; Whitewalkers are already here. Even a seemingly safe incumbent, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, should be stricken with fear. Dig a little deeper, and the results are even worse for Trump and fellow Republicans down the ticket. Trump has a 54 percent negative rating with Cubans, with fully a third saying they won’t vote for him, brutal numbers in a critical voting bloc for any statewide Republican coalition in Florida. He’s likewise losing by almost 35 points (57-23) with independent voters, many of whom are Hispanic in this district. Not only is the Republican brand damaged badly with Hispanics, but Democrats are also actually quite popular as well. Obama has a 62 percent favorable rating, and Hillary is right behind him with 59 percent. Little Marco, meanwhile, is barely keeping his head above water at 51-46. (I was frankly surprised Rubio’s numbers were as high as they were.)

LOOK FOR ST. PETE TRIAL ATTORNEY AUGIE RIBEIRO TO ENTER SD 19 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Agostinho J. Ribeiro, who serves as the chief executive officer of the law firm of Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith based in Danbury, Connecticut and St. Petersburg, will reportedly enter the state Senate District 19 race. His entry would certainly shake up the race, where Democrats Ed NarainBetty Reed and Darryl Rouson are competing … The winner of the Democratic primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning district is expected to win the race in November. Ribeiro is a New York City native, and his law firm represented victims of the World Trade Center terrorists attacks pro bono after the 9/11 attacks. They also represented St. Pete Beach in the BP oil spill disaster.

— “Jeff Brandes draws a challenger for SD 24” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

THIRD DEMOCRAT ENTERS SD 29 RACE TO FACE KEVIN RADER, IRV SLOSBERG via Florida Politics – Mindy Koch, the president of the Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach, filed to run in SD 29 … turning the contest into a three-way primary. So far, Rader is the only candidate to qualify for the ballot and also holds the campaign finance lead with about $39,000 in his campaign account as of May 31. Slosberg, who filed for the seat last week, brought about $28,000 in cash on hand when he transferred his campaign from the House to the Senate, and he’ll need about $1,800 of that money to pay the qualifying fee to get on the ballot. Koch will also need to mail a check quickly, as the deadline to qualify is noon Friday.

— “Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns to run for Gwen Margolis state senate seat” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

DEMOCRAT ANDREW KORGE SWITCHES SENATE DISTRICTS, UPENDING 2 MIAMI RACES via Kristen Clark and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Instead of challenging Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores in District 39, Korge will now run for the District 40 seat … His decision sets up a three-way Democratic primary in District 40 against former state representative Ana Rivas Logan and current state Sen. Dwight Bullard and all-but-hands Flores her re-election unless Democrats can produce a viable replacement to challenge her with two days left in the qualifying period. “As a third-generation Miamian, it has long been a dream of mine to serve my community as a member of the Florida Senate, to create a better future for our children, to improve public schools and protect college students, and create high-wage jobs for hard-working, middle-class families,” Korge said in a statement. “District 40, where I grew up and spent half of my life, offers the best opportunity to do that.” Korge had been in a bitter battle since February against Flores and even persuaded a temporary Democratic challenger, Daniel Horton, to change races this spring so Korge could take her on alone.

KORGE OFFERED DWIGHT BULLARD $25K TO PULL OUT OF SD 40 RACE via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News – In fact, the $25,000 offer was the second of a number of proposals Korge made to Bullard to secure what he hoped would be a clear path to the Florida Senate in November. Bullard said Wednesday he would have none of it and turned Korge down flat. Leslie Wimes, president and CEO of the Democratic African American Women’s Caucus, confirmed Korge’s effort to “buy” Bullard out of the way. “Andrew Korge called me, we had a conversation and he told me he offered Dwight $25,000 to move to District 38,” Wimes said Wednesday.

HAPPENING TODAY: State Reps. Chris SprowlsKathleen PetersLarry AhernJamie Grant and Chris Latvala are holding a joint fundraiser in their re-election bids for House District 65, HD 69, HD 66, HD 64 and HD 67 respectively. Event begins 11 a.m. at TopGolf, 10690 Palm River Road in Tampa.

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FLORDA WILDLIFE OFFICIALS VOTE AGAINST 2016 BEAR HUNT via the Associated Press – After nearly seven hours of comments Wednesday from staff and the public, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 4-3 against a 2016 hunt. They also voted to have staff gather more information so that they could vote again next year on whether to hold a 2017 hunt.

OFFICIALS BELIEVE THEY CAPTURED ALLIGATOR WHO KILLED BOY AT DISNEY via the Associated Press – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a news release Wednesday that it has suspended alligator trapping activities in the area. The release says officials have based their conclusions on expert analyses and observations by staff with extensive experience in investigating fatal alligator bites. A total of six alligators were removed.

PERSONNEL NOTE: FORMER DEO CHIEF JESSE PANUCCIO NOW WITH FOLEY & LARDNER LAW FIRM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The hire, confirmed by partner Jonathan Kilman … will have Panuccio based in South Florida and working out of Foley’s Miami and Washington, D.C. offices. Panuccio, a magna cum laude Harvard Law grad, is also a partner and has a regulatory and appellate practice consisting of “high-stakes litigation,” Kilman said. “He won’t be lobbying but I can promise you he will make his presence felt in Tallahassee.”

FDOT NAMES FIRST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SUNRAIL via Anjali Fluker of the Orlando Business Journal – Nicola Liquori of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise … FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold named Liquori to the newly created position, which will involve all aspects of SunRail, including financial services, construction, program management, operations and maintenance, rail corridor and safety. Liquori, who currently is deputy executive director and chief financial officer of the Turnpike Enterprise, steps in at what is being called a “critical time” for SunRail, as construction of the rail line’s Phase 2 South extension into Osceola County is underway and set to begin operations in 2018. Additionally, FDOT is hard at work putting together plans for an estimated $175 million-$225 million direct link for SunRail to connect to Orlando International Airport.

MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE COOKMAN, PUBLIX FOUNDERS MAKE DC STATUE FINALS via the Orlando Sentinel – Either the African-American woman who founded what’s now Bethune-Cookman University, the founder of Publix supermarkets or the woman credited with saving the Everglades will replace a Confederate general’s statue that represents Florida in the U.S. Capitol … three Floridians were selected by a committee that reviewed 130 recommendations made by the public. The Legislature will now choose which will replace the statue of Edmund Kirby SmithMary McLeod Bethune, who founded Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904, was the unanimous choice of the four-member committee on its first vote. Bethune’s school eventually became the historically black university that bears her name in Daytona Beach. Publix founder George Washington Jenkins and “The Everglades: River of Grass” author Marjory Stoneman Douglaswere the pick of two members. No other person received more than one vote and the committee immediately agreed to accept the three without a second vote. Bethune was also by far the top pick of a public survey conducted ahead of the meeting.


Matt BrockelmanDeno Hicks, Southern Strategy Group: School District of Clay County

Roy Leonard Clark III, : Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Laurel Lockett, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt: Florida Brownfields Association

William Nicholson Spicola: Executive Office of the Governor

NO NEED FOR DISCUSSION: LOBBYIST’S 12 YEAR TENURE AS HOMELESS CHIEF IS EXTENDED via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald – In a letter last month, Ron Book predicted he had the votes on the County Commission to extend his tenure as chairman of Miami-Dade’s homeless board. Tuesday proved him right. Not only did no commissioner vote against the term-limit waiver, none asked that it be pulled from a list of items set for automatic approval. Book, a prominent lobbyist with Miami-Dade itself as a client, did not attend the meeting … Book has held the Homeless Trust chairmanship post since 2004, and exerts enough authority over the county’s homeless agency that he’s considered the de facto head of the tax-funded operation. In interviews, he has described holding veto power over day-to-day spending and housing decisions made by the paid staff. He also serves as the only authorized spokesman for the department. His tenure now faces more scrutiny than ever on the heels of Washington rejecting $6 million in homeless grants for Miami-Dade, the biggest denial in the county’s history and part of a nationwide tightening of how the Department of Housing and Urban Development renews funding requests. Book has served on the county board since its founding in the 1990s, despite county rules limiting members to two consecutive three-year terms. County commissioners routinely waive term limits to keep members on county boards, but Book’s longevity as chairman and his active role with the agency make him unique in Miami-Dade government.

RSA CONSULTING, SUSKEY CONSULTING TAPPED TO LOBBY FOR PSTA via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics – Members of the board that oversees Pinellas transportation voted to hire Alan Suskey and RSA Consulting to represent the county’s transit authority before the Florida Legislature. The vote was unanimous, with Ben Diamond abstaining. Diamond is running for the state House District 68 seat and wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety should he win. Staff members of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority had recommended that board members hire RSA and Suskey for a three-year contract with two one-year extensions. The two would be paid up to $7,500 a month, or about $90,000 annually, including expenses for their services. But PSTA board member Janet Long … was hesitant to offer that long a contract to RSA because its employees had never worked for the board before. She said she was somewhat comforted because Suskey was part of the deal. Suskey is known to board members because he represented the PSTA when the board contracted with GrayRobinson. She suggested a two-year contract with options for renewal instead. Other members agreed. The PSTA lobbying contract came up earlier this year when the contract with GrayRobinson expired.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Leadership Florida’s annual meeting begins with a service project benefiting at-risk Orlando students. Volunteer Florida and Leadership Florida are encouraging attendees to donate a new or gently-used elementary school book during the annual meeting through Sunday, June 26, which will be donated to the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. Connect Florida, a signature program of Leadership Florida, will assist with the project. Earlier this week, Volunteer Florida and Leadership Florida announced that best-selling author and Florida resident Brad Meltzer has donated some of his children’s books to #BringABook. For more information on the Leadership Florida annual meeting, visit

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to our favorite Weatherford, Drew. Belated wishes to Amy Young.