Peter Schorsch

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

Patrick Manteiga was right about demise of Tampa Trib; so was Noah Pransky

The shock from the news that the Tampa Bay Times has purchased and folded the Tampa Tribune has yet to wear off. In fact, there are probably a few hundred (maybe thousands) subscribers to the Trib who don’t pay attention to social media (think of all those seniors at Sun City Center) and we’re likely surprised this morning to see their regular newspaper replaced with the Times.

While those folks may be caught off-guard, there are two local journalists who were definitely not surprised by The Empire’s attack on Alderaan: Patrick Manteiga, the publisher of La Gaceta and Noah Pransky of 10 News.

Just last week, Manteiga demonstrated just how good his sources are when he wrote that “sales and circulation staff, writers, graphic artists and just about everyone else at the Tampa Tribune are looking for jobs.”

Continued Manteiga, “The rumors are hot and heavy that the Tampa Tribune won’t last past the summer.”

Clearly Manteiga was wrong — The Tribune didn’t last past the spring.

Before Manteiga made his prediction, Pransky produced a segment which asked, Could Tampa Bay lose a newspaper?

The best part of Pransky’s reporting is the email he received, perhaps inadvertently:

“Guys see below there is a leak here somewhere this is bs,” wrote Tribune managing partner Robert Loring Jr.

So kudos to Manteiga and Pransky for sniffing out this important story.

Of course, there was that one blogger who made this bold prediction at the beginning of year:

“One of the major Florida newspapers will cease daily publication in 2016.

“There are just too many cars on the street for the horse-and-buggy to remain in existence. Just as New Orleans’ Times-Picayune cut staff and went to putting out a hard-copy three days a week, so will one of the Sunshine State’s daily newspapers, many of which are still struggling to adjust to a digital environment.

“Which newspaper will make the change? It’s hard to say, although it’s a wonder how the Tampa Bay market supports two major dailies.”

It’s Star Wars Day: May the 4th be with you

It’s not a national holiday, yet it might be an intergalactic one.

May the Fourth, as in “May the Fourth Be With You” has become a day to celebrate all things Star Wars, especially following last year’s revival of the series with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Comedy Central’s “@midnight” got things started by launching a #StarWarsSongs hashtag, asking fans to come up with Star Wars themed song titles. Some of the responses include “Whiskey in the Jar Jar” and “When You Wish Upon a Death Star.”

Retailers like Target and Wal-Mart are celebrating as well, with Star Wars promotions.

Star Wars’ official website says “May the Fourth” references can be traced to 1979, but the day took off once the Internet started connecting fans.

Frank Farkas won’t run in House District 68

As an expensive and divisive primary shapes up on the Democratic side of the race to succeed Dwight Dudley in House District 68, one Republican thought to be a contender for the seat says he’s not interested in running.

Former state Rep. Frank Farkas said late last week he won’t be on the ballot in 2016. Farkas, a St. Petersburg chiropractor, held the seat from 1998 to 2006.

Farkas attempted to regain the seat in 2012, but lost a tough campaign to Dudley. (Don’t feel too bad for Farkas about that loss; six months later he won $50,000 a year for life in a Florida Lottery scratch-off game.)

District 68 is one of the most competitive legislative seats in Florida. Six different lawmakers have represented the Pinellas district – four Democrats and two Republicans – since 1996.

Dudley’s surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election has set off a chain reaction in local Democratic politics. Hours after Dudley’s announcement, rising star Ben Diamond said he would run for the seat and have already lined up several Democratic elected officials to endorse him. But on Monday, Eric Lynn, himself thought to be one of the faces of the future of the Democratic Party, abandoned his congressional bid to run in HD 68.

A primary fight between Diamond and Lynn is expected to cost north of $500,000 — a hefty price when Democratic resources in the area are limited.

HD 68 is a swing seat with a blue lean, according to demographics expert Matt Isbell. Voters in the district went 55 percent for Charlie Crist in the 2014 gubernatorial race and 54 percent for Barack Obama in 2012.

The lone Republican in the contest is Joseph “JB” Bensmihen, a home health-care company founder who recently moved to Pinellas from Palm Beach County. Bensmihen told William March of the Tampa Bay Times he’s willing to put a substantial amount of his own money, $50,000 to $100,000, into his campaign.

On Monday, Bensmihen announced that local Republican activist Matt Lettellier will manage his campaign.

Sunburn for May 4 – Down goes Ted Cruz and the Tampa Tribune

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.

DOWN GOES TED CRUZ

Donald Trump said he couldn’t believe it, and really, who can?

The New York City real estate magnate became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday night, smashing Ted Cruz by over 15 percentage points in Indiana (with 80 percent of the vote in), prompting Cruz to drop out of the race.

Speaking from Trump tower in midtown Manhattan, Trump becomes the first nominee for the GOP who never ran for office before this election cycle since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.

In a relatively humble speech, Trump refrained from lashing out too much, though he did throw some barbs at his likely Democratic party opponent Hillary Clinton. He was uncharacteristically ungracious towards Cruz.

“Just so you understand, Ted Cruz, I don’t know if he likes me or doesn’t like me, but he is one hell of a competitor,” Trump said. “He is a tough, smart guy–and he has got an amazing future. He’s got an amazing future, so I want to congratulate Ted.

“I know how tough it is, it’s tough,” he continued. “I’ve had some moments where it was not looking so good and it’s not a great feeling and so I understand how Ted feels and Heidi and their whole beautiful family.”

Trump spoke approximately a half hour after Cruz announced to the world that his run for the presidency was over.

“From the beginning I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Cruz said, with his wife Heidi by his side. “Tonight I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed.”

“With a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign.”

It was a rough day for Cruz, a rough week, and a rough few weeks, as Indiana was the seventh consecutive election in the presidential cycle.

Cruz’ desperation became evident in the past week, making a “deal” with John Kasich and naming Carly Fiorina his vice-presidential nominee.

Cruz never said the words “Donald” or “Trump,” much less say anything about whether he would back him in the general election in his concession speech.

Trump is not the last man standing, however.

Kasich is staying in the Republican race despite losing Indiana, according to a campaign memo sent out Tuesday night.

“Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans,”read the memo from Kasich chief strategist John Weaver. “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.”

Kasich has only won one contest, his home state of Ohio. He is currently in fourth place in the delegate race, even though only two candidates are still seeking the nomination. Marco Rubio, who left the race in March, still has more delegates than Kasich.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders upset Clinton, keeping his movement new life as Clinton slowly continues to move closer to the nomination. With 80 percent of the vote in, Sanders was leading Clinton by more than six percentage points.

It doesn’t change the delegate math much, however, with Clinton still in a solid position to take the nomination.

Clinton certainly didn’t put much of an effort into the Hoosier State . While Sanders devoted three days to campaigning in Indiana and spent more than $1 million on ads, Clinton ran no ads and spent only one day in the state.

“For the past several weeks, the corporate media has counted us out of this election,” Sanders said in a fundraising email late Tuesday night. “The political and financial establishment of this country have been vocal in their desire for us to go away. To get in line. Today, the voters had another idea.”

The next Republican presidential contests will occur on May 10, when the Nebraska primary will award 36 delegates, and the West Virginia primary will award 34.

The next major Democratic primary occurs the same day, when West Virginia will award 37 delegates.

FLORIDA GOP REAX: “The Florida GOP would like to thank Senator Cruz for his spirited effort during the Presidential primary and keeping the focus where it should be…on the Constitution. We look forward to him continuing to defend that cherished document, as well as our freedoms, in the U.S. Senate”

TWEETS

— @DavidRutz: Best, deepest Republican field in recent memory….wiped out one-by-one by the host of Celebrity Apprentice.

— @PoliticoKevin: So Carly Fiorina joined the campaign just in time to lay everyone off?

— @TheRickWilson: On the upside, I don’t have to defend Ted Fucking Cruz any longer.

— @MacStipanovichNo. Not one vote from me or my kin, and not one dollar that might help elect Trump. #NeverTrump.

JOHN KASICH NOT QUITTING via POLITICO – Kasich is staying in the Republican race despite losing Indiana, according to a campaign memo sent out Tuesday night. “Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans,”read the memo from Kasich chief strategist John Weaver. “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.” The memo even claimed a victory of sorts, saying Kasich has secured Indiana delegates who will support the Ohio governor at “a multi-ballot convention.”

NUMBER OF THE DAY: 18. That’s Marco Rubio‘s delegate lead on Kasich. H/t Henry Jackson.

QUOTE OF THE DAY“We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path.” – Cruz

WHAT’S NEXT…

DONALD TRUMP FAR BEHIND IN PREPARING FOR GENERAL ELECTION via Steve Peoples and Jill Colvin of the Associated Press – Trump has so far ignored vital preparations … has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He’s sent few people to battleground states compared with … Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign. … The billionaire’s aides [said] they’ll tap into the resources of the party’s establishment – the [RNC], above all … That’s even as he rails daily against his party’s establishment as corrupt. “Our ability to run a different type of campaign against Hillary Clinton in a general election is unique to the success that … Trump has shown in the primaries,” said Corey Lewandowski.

IS TRUMP FOR REAL ABOUT RICK SCOTT AS VICE PRESIDENT? via Michael Mayo of the South Florida Sun SentinelTrump, headed toward the Republican nomination with the highest unfavorable ratings ever seen among a major presidential candidate at 65 percent, has mentioned Scott as a possible vice president. This would be like tuberculosis picking leprosy as a running mate. Scott is one of the least popular sitting governors, scoring 48 percent unfavorable (and 38 percent favorable) in a recent poll. Scott has won two terms, but failed to capture more than 50 percent of the vote in each election. In a weird way, the polarizing Trump might view that as a positive. His counterintuitive campaign doesn’t seem concerned with winning any popularity contests. He keeps bulldozing his way to the general election with all the subtlety of a stink bomb in a perfume shop. Trump said he wants someone who can help with legislation and who is “well-respected” on Capitol Hill. That would make Scott a curious choice, because Scott hasn’t gotten along with his own Republican-dominated Legislature, has often failed to get major agenda items through Tallahassee and doesn’t have any D.C. experience.

MARCO RUBIO AS TRUMP’S VP? SOME CAN DREAM via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Trump’s blockbuster night in Indiana got the political class buzzing about a running mate, and Rubio was frequently named. Yes, the former candidate who made small penis jokes about Trump and was tagged by Trump as “Little Marco.” The Rubio who has declared, “I’m not going to be anybody’s vice president.” The Rubio who always keeps an eye on the future and is widely assumed to be pondering another run for president. Rubio also appears to have clout in the #NeverTrump crowd, though he personally did not join the movement. 

But that didn’t stop the chatter Tuesday night on Fox News, social media and among political writers. There wasn’t much to go on but Rubio, who never endorsed Ted Cruz, had seemed to warm to Trump — or at least the idea Trump would be the nominee — and would be an attractive VP pick, given his Hispanic background and foreign policy knowledge. “I have no intention of being vice president,” Rubio said recently on Univison. “I have said it clearly. And I’m always looking for a way to serve the nation, but I don’t believe that it will be as vice president and I’m really not seeking it, I’m not requesting it and it won’t happen.”

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DOWN GOES THE TAMPA TRIBUNE

TAMPA BAY TIMES PURCHASES TAMPA TRIBUNE via Susan Taylor Martin and Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s largest newspaper … purchased the Tampa Tribune from Revolution Capital Group, saying it intends to create one financially secure, locally owned daily newspaper in the Tampa Bay region. Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash announced the purchase at the Tribune headquarters in downtown Tampa … Starting Wednesday, Tribune subscribers will receive the Tampa Bay Times at their homes. The Times also will be available in retail locations where readers purchased the Tribune. The Times said it will carry all the advertising scheduled for both papers and honor all Tribune subscriptions and advertising contracts … The Times has news and advertising operations in downtown Tampa and Riverview and has produced a distinct Tampa edition of the newspaper since expanding into Tampa in 1987. Because the papers have duplicate operations in most areas, Tash said there would be job losses at the Tribune. He did not specify a number but said it was likely to be at least 100. The current full-time staff is about 265. Tribune staffers who are not retained by the Times will continue to be paid for 60 days. “Whatever is the number of jobs that is lost now pales in comparison to the number of jobs that have been lost already in newspaper publishing generally, because of the economic pressures that have been upon us,” Tash said. “It’s also smaller than the number of jobs that would be lost if this kind of unstable situation had continued … these are newspaper people. We take no pleasure in any hardship that is upon them now, and we will be as supportive as possible during this transition for them. I know it’s an anxious time.”

FLASHBACK TO MY “5 BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR 2016” COLUMN: “One of the major Florida newspapers will cease daily publication in 2016. There are just too many cars on the street for the horse-and-buggy to remain in existence. Just as New Orleans’ Times-Picayune cut staff and went to putting out a hard-copy three days a week, so will one of the Sunshine State’s daily newspapers, many of which are still struggling to adjust to a digital environment. Which newspaper will make the change? It’s hard to say, although it’s a wonder how the Tampa Bay market supports two major dailies.”

FORMER WORKERS, LOCAL LEADERS REFLECT ON TAMPA TRIBUNE AFTER ITS SHUTDOWN via Bruce Ritchie and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Gil Thelen, former publisher and president of The Tampa Tribune, hadn’t heard the news Tuesday that his old newspaper had been shut down, bought out by the rival Tampa Bay Times. “Wow,” he said. “I will react on a gut level — it’s dreadful to see the Tribune go. It’s been a stalwart in the Tampa community for over 100 years. For it to be gone is just hard to fathom.” “Sad to hear that the Tribune has been bought by the Times,” tweeted Rep. Dana Young, a Republican from Tampa. “The Trib is such a long-time part of Tampa history.”

— “History notes the scrap, heart and camaraderie of the Tampa Tribune” via Patty Ryan of the Tampa Bay Times

THE LOSS OF THE TAMPA TRIBUNE IS DIFFICULT FOR A FORMER RIVAL via Gary Shelton of Florida Politics – No one will find joy in the death of the Tampa Tribune. Those were good people fighting the good fight for their readership. Yes, I’m a longtime Times guy, but my heart goes out to the other side today. Those were people with children, too. Those were people who cared about their product, too. No one should be hard-hearted enough not to feel for those who worked for the Tribune. There is a sadness to the death of a newspaper that trumps even victory. I grew up in newspapers. I spent 25 years at the Times. I still have my first column sig in what is called hot type. Today, I think about Martin Fennelly, the fine sports columnist for the Trib. I think of Roy Cummings and Ira Kaufman and Roger Mooney and Eric Erlandsson and the rest of them. I think of Joe Henderson, the former sports writer now turned local columnist. Of Tom Jackson. Of Joanne Korth. Of Joey Johnson. Oh, I have loads of friends at the Times, too, and I hope this means they are somewhat more secure in their jobs than they were. It isn’t an easy time. But when you look at your doorstep today, a doorstep that may be emptier than yesterday, lift your cup for a newspaper that died young. Walk proudly, guys.

TWEET, TWEET: @StPetePolls: One thing for sure with @TB_Times absorbing @TBOcom is that @SaintPetersblog just became A LOT more important to #TampaBay as a news source.

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: I remember 20 years ago when I was hungry for a job and the Tampa Tribune editor was a jerk to & didn’t hire me. Well, I’m still reporting

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AUGUSTUS SOL INVICTUS SAYS HIS U.S. SENATE CAMPAIGN HOUNDED BY ANTI-FASCISTS THREATENING VIOLENCE, FBI via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Florida’s wannabe Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate claims he is being pursued by anti-fascist groups targeting him for violence, while the FBI is also after him for possible prosecution. Yet he continues to actively campaign, giving fiery speeches both in Florida and elsewhere when he is invited, from Vancouver and Washington to Chicago. Invictus began a Florida speaking tour in Orlando Monday night in front of a tiny audience, perhaps no more than a dozen people not including his family. He also has scheduled speeches or candidate meet-and-greets in the next few days in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Gainesville, Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Miami. And he is doing so partly in secrecy, only revealing the locations of his speeches at the last hour, to vetted invitees, because he says he fears violence from anti-fascist groups at his appearances. He claims he has received death threats, and alleges that after an informal meet-and-greet in a Portland, Oregon bar in March, one of his supporters was jumped by a mob waiting outside and struck with a two-by-four as Invictus waited for a police escort to get out of the bar. He also claimed during his Orlando speech that one of his campaign volunteers left and confessed, via text to him, that he had been secretly gathering information on Invictus for an FBI file, possibly for a racketeering prosecution. All of it feeds into the image Invictus fosters as the self-described “most dangerous Libertarian in America” — someone martyred by both liberals and the media. Some of it may be real.

ADAM HASNER URGES FLORIDIANS TO BACK CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA IN SENATE RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In an email to supporters … the former House Majority Leader said keeping a majority in the U.S. Senate is “just as important” as the presidential preference primaries and that the race is “too important to ignore.” “My good friend Carlos Lopez-Cantera is the only candidate who has the ability to win in the primary as well as the general and help us keep this seat in Republican control,” said Hasner in the email. “And I hope you will join me in supporting him.”

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Republican Carlos Beruff will be in Sarasota. Lopez-Cantera will be in Bonita Springs. Republican Todd Wilcox will be in Manatee County.

JORGE LABARGA, OTHER JUDGES QUALIFY FOR MERIT-RETENTION ELECTION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Labarga and a raft of other appellate judges have already qualified to run for this year’s merit-retention election. 1st District Court of Appeal (Tallahassee): Ross Bilbrey, Susan Kelsey, Lori S. Rowe, Kent Wetherell, Bo Winokur, Jim Wolf.  2nd District Court of Appeal (Lakeland):John Badalamenti, Marva L. Crenshaw, Nelly N. Khouzam, Matt Lucas, Robert Morris, Stevan Travis Northcutt, Samuel Salario Jr., Craig C. Villanti, Douglas Alan Wallace. 3rd District Court of Appeal (Miami): Edwin A. Scales, Linda Ann Wells. 4th District Court of Appeal (West Palm Beach): Cory J. Ciklin, Dorian K. Damoorgian, Jonathan D. Gerber, Robert Marc Gross, Spencer D. Levine, Melanie G. May. 5th District Court of Appeal (Daytona Beach): Jay Cohen, James A. Edwards, Brian Lambert, Vincent G. Torpy Jr. Qualifying for state offices began noon Monday and will continue until noon Friday.

LAKE RAY TO RUN FOR CONGRESS, CHALLENGES FORMER SHERIFF IN GOP PRIMARY via The Florida Times-Union – After U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw’s abrupt announcement last month that he would not seek re-election, Ray, a civil engineer whose time in Tallahassee was marked by a strong interest in logistics and manufacturing issues, immediately expressed interest in the seat. He is vacating his state House seat because of term limits. Ray announced his candidacy through a live-feed video on his Facebook page. As he prepares to face off against an opponent who has the capability of raising big money, Ray is counting on his long history as an elected Jacksonville official to carry the day with voters. He is the president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association and the chairman of the Duval County Republican Party.

WITH ERIC LYNN OUT, CONGRESSIONAL PATH OFFICIALLY CLEARED FOR CHARLIE CRIST via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – After… Crist, a former governor and powerhouse in the party, announced he was running for an open Pinellas County congressional seat, it was largely expected his path to Washington would be cleared of any real primary challenge. On Tuesday, that’s what he got. After taking several weeks to try and figure out a new plan, Democrat Eric Lynn announced he is getting out of the race to run in a Democratic primary for state House.

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DENNIS BAXLEY TO POST ANOTHER SIX-FIGURE HAUL IN SD 12 FOR APRIL, CAMPAIGN SAYS via Florida Politics – “We are very grateful for the tremendous support that we are receiving,” Baxley said. “I can’t wait to keep fighting in Tallahassee for our conservative values of freedom, family, and faith, and I look forward to getting that message out to more and more voters across District 12.” Baxley’s campaign said it brought in more than $173,000 in April, and that an additional $30,000 or so had been raised by his committee, Floridians for a Strong Economy.

— “Jackie Toledo receives enough signatures to qualify in HD 60” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

— “Bob Graham endorses Ben Diamond for Florida House” via Florida Politics

NICK DURAN ANNOUNCES OVER $60K IN 1ST MONTH OF HD 112 CAMPAIGN via Florida Politics – … putting him ahead of the other four candidates in the race. Duran’s campaign said it brought in $60,786 during April, and barring significant expenditures that figure should put him in front of the previous money leader, Republican Michael Davey, and the other three candidates in the race. The April numbers should make Duran, the director of the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the de facto frontrunner in the Democratic Primary race as neither of his primary challengers is especially popular within the Miami-Dade County district.

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FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – As of Tuesday, three new travel-related cases were reported; one in Miami-Dade County, one in Palm Beach County and one involving a pregnant woman. Of all the cases in Florida, three people are still exhibiting symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are now 102 total cases in Florida: Miami-Dade (40), Broward (15), Palm Beach (7), Orange (6), Alachua (4), Lee (4), Osceola (4), Hillsborough (3), Polk (3), Brevard (2) and a single case each in Clay, Collier, Santa Rosa, Seminole and St. John’s and seven cases involving pregnant women. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735. Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant are strongly suggested to postpone travel to Zika affected areas. If you have been to a country with local transmission of Zika, you should abstain from unprotected sex. Florida residents and visitors should protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water; covering their skin with repellent and clothing, and covering windows with screens. Florida currently has the capacity to test 6,552 people for active Zika virus and 1,276 for Zika antibodies. Zika illness is generally mild with a rash, fever, and joint pain. CDC researchers have concluded that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other birth defects. The FDA released guidance regarding donor screening, referral and product management to reduce the risk of transfusion transmission of Zika virus. Additional information is available on the FDA website.

ADAM PUTNAM PREPARES STATE LAB FOR ZIKA VIRUS TESTING – The Commissioner of Agriculture on Tuesday said the state’s Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory is now prepared to test mosquitoes for Zika. “Florida leads the nation in the number of travel-related cases of Zika, and our climate makes us a hotbed for mosquitoes,” he said. “Protecting Floridians and visitors from Zika requires widespread coordination and engagement at every level. As we continue to support the Florida Department of Health and local mosquito control programs, we will make every weapon in the arsenal available in this fight.” The news came on the same day that the Department of Health confirmed three more travel-related Zika cases. That brings the total to 102 cases in Florida. Of Tuesday’s new cases, one was in Miami-Dade County, one was in Palm Beach County and another involved a pregnant woman. Researchers with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Zika causes microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is deformed, and other birth defects. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

PATRICK MURPHY CALLS FOR EMERGENCY FUNDING TO COMBAT ZIKA AS FLORIDA REACHES 100 CASES – With the number of reported Zika cases in Florida now over 100, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy doubled down on his call for Congress to act to combat this virus. Murphy is a co-sponsor of H.R. 5044 … to provide $1.9 billion in emergency funding to respond to the Zika virus. This new legislation reflects the president’s request to Congress earlier this year, which Murphy strongly supported. In addition to cosponsoring H.R. 5044, Murphy also supported the Adding Zika Virus to the Food and Drug Administration Priority Review Voucher Program Act that recently passed the House. Additionally, Murphy joined fellow Florida Congressman Curt Clawson to introduce a legislative package that includes a 10 percent research tax credit for any company developing a vaccine for the Zika virus and a $200 million grant program to fight against mosquito-borne diseases. Most recently, Murphy visited Scripps Florida to meet with their Zika research team and met with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat to discuss ongoing efforts to prevent the virus. efforts to prevent the virus. 

CONTROLLING ZIKA MOSQUITOES MAY BE ‘LOST CAUSE’ via Liz Szabo of USA TODAY – With the prospect of Zika spreading the continental U.S. this summer, experts say the country must map exactly where the species lives and urgently rethink its standard operating procedures for controlling mosquitoes. Protecting Americans from Zika virus is critical. The virus causes devastating birth defects and is strongly linked to a variety of serious neurological conditions, including a form of paralysis called Guillain-Barre syndrome. “There is no good method for killing these mosquitoes that’s being used on a widespread basis,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. Recent efforts to kill the Aedes aegypti, which also transmits the viral diseases dengue and chikungunya, “don’t give us much reason for optimism,” said Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. “In the near term, it’s a lost cause.”

JUDGE: NURSERY MAY BE ABLE TO PURSUE MEDICAL POT LICENSE UNDER NEW LAW via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – An administrative court judge is leaving open the possibility that a third nursery in Northeast Florida can receive a license to grow and dispense medical marijuana. In an order Judge R. Bruce McKibben said Loop’s Nursery and Greenhouses cannot challenge the licenses given to Chestnut Hill Tree Farm and San Felasco Nurseries. However, McKibben said the Jacksonville nursery can pursue approval of its own application under a new state law. The new law allows dispensing organization to grow full-strength medical marijuana for terminally ill patients. Those dispensing organizations are also expected to be responsible for the products if a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for other medicinal purposes passes in November. Thus far, San Felasco is the only nursery to win its challenge. In February, McKibben ruled the Department of Health wrongly disqualified San Felasco … In his order Monday, McKibben said that a “clear reading of the new law is that both Chesnut and San Felasco have now been approved as dispensing organizations” in the Northeast region. McKibben goes on to say that both organizations’ licenses have been “approved without further review.” “Loop’s now finds itself in the position of being unable to challenge the approvals of Chestnut and San Felasco as dispensing organizations in the Northeast region,” wrote McKibben in his order.

AMID LAWSUITS OVER INMATE PROGRAM CLOSURE, BROWARD SHERIFF FIRES BACK AT STATE OFFICIAL via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Inmates are suing Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones, who blames the Broward Sheriff’s Office, while Sheriff Scott Israel says he’s “really disgusted.” That’s the tangled web that arose as Broward Bridge inmates sued to stop the Department of Corrections from shutting down the prisoner re-entry program in Pompano Beach. Jones called the Sheriff’s Office’s decision in February to stop transferring prisoners for the Department of Corrections a danger to public safety. “This action, or rather inaction, has resulted in a serious public safety issue which further motivates the Department to resolve the issues surrounding the current location of our probation offices,” Jones said in a statement. Israel fired back: “I make every decision in the best interest of public safety … I’m really disgusted by her comment that we are not doing things in the interest of public safety.” Israel argues that, quite the opposite, it was deputies spending so much time on prisoner transfers that was the real public safety issue. “I cannot continue year after year, month after month, day after day to strip the city of Lauderdale Lakes by having them transport for DOC. That’s abundantly unfair and unsafe for that city,” Israel said.

STATE RECEIVES JUST ONE LETTER SUPPORTING RETREAT FROM ANTI-DISCRIMINATION RULES FOR LGBT FOSTER CHILDREN via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – When the state first proposed to backtrack from new rules banning discrimination and controversial conversion therapies for LGBT foster children in group homes, the response from Florida’s gay rights groups was loud. The result: More than 50 people appeared at a public hearing to protest the change, and 700 submitted a written comment to the Department of Children and Families opposing it. Equality Florida sent more than 500 form letters on behalf of people — so many emails with the exact same message that they got caught in DCF’s spam filter. And 10 Democratic members of Congress weighed in, as well. DCF officials received just one letter backing their proposed action. “We are very much interested in becoming foster parents in a few years when our children are a bit older, but would find it very disconcerting to have to worry about possibly being accused of bullying a foster child simply by practicing our faith!!” wrote Michael and Marysol McDonald of Naples. “Thank you for listening to us and doing something very reasonable, i.e., changing unreasonable and totally unnecessary language used by DCF.”

LISA EDGAR WILL NOT SEEK 4TH TERM ON PSC via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Edgar announced that she’s not seeking a fourth term on the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities. The deadline to apply for her seat on the commission was 5 p.m. Tuesday. “For the past 12 years, I’ve been honored and humbled to work on complex regulatory issues, finding ways to accomplish what’s best for the public good,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to applying my regulatory and governmental experience as I pursue new endeavors and other career opportunities.” Edgar, 52, said she will serve until the end of her current four-year term next Jan. 1. She did not say what her next move would be.

— “Jeffrey Bragg, unsuccessful applicant for insurance commish, applies for PSC postvia Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald 

TAMPA HOUSE REPUBLICANS NOT BULLISH ON INCENTIVES IN 2017 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I don’t see much opportunity in next two years for the funds,” opined outgoing Pasco County GOP state Senator John Legg. “Looking at the political structure of where people are dug in on the issue. I think there is some common ground that can be reached on restructuring tax cuts and other incentives, but, to be direct, I would say that the $250 million that guv requested, the House money is not going to be getting into the Legislature in the next two years I would venture to say.” That’s probably a safe assumption, as Land O’Lakes Appropriations Chair Rep. Richard Corcoran will become Speaker of the House in 2017. Corcoran has used the Americans for Prosperity approved phrase “corporate welfare” in deriding Scott’s intentions on using cuts cash and tax breaks in return for jobs. “I’m one who thinks that’s OK when we’re talking about several hundred million dollars’ worth of taxpayer money,” said Safety Harbor Republican House member Chris Sprowls about the failure of the Legislature to support Scott’s goal.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: “Connected Futures from Alaska to Florida,” Florida Atlantic University’s third Sea-level Rise Summit, takes place today through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, 2301 SE 17th St., in Fort Lauderdale. The summit will bring together sustainability professionals from the private sector — including insurance companies, realtors, architects and developers — who will join leading scientists, decision-makers and members of the public sector.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEGALIZES UBER, RIDE SHARING SERVICES via Liane Morejon and Victor Oquendo of WPLG Miami – The county commission passed a bill legalizing Uber, Lyft and other similar services with a 9 to 2 decision… Over the past two years [they] have operated illegally in Miami-Dade County. It’s a plan that Mayor Carlos Gimenez supports. Yep, I’m in favor of legalizing Uber and Lyft with some regulations,” he said before the vote. “But I want also to put cabs and Uber on a level playing field.”

FSU STUDENT REPS: NO HEADDRESSES AT SEMINOLES GAMES via the Associated Press – Florida State University’s student government has passed a resolution discouraging Seminoles fans from wearing Native American headdresses at games. The Student Government Association approved the nonbinding, formal opinion by a 27-4 vote on April 20 asking the university’s administration to consider adding the wearing of headdresses as a violation of the student code of conduct. The SGA said it passed the resolution because many of the headdresses worn at athletic events are representative of other tribes, in particular Plains tribes like the Sioux, and not the Seminoles. Part of the resolution reads that the Senate “does not condone the wearing of headdresses because it inaccurately depicts the culture of the Seminole Tribe.”

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU ON THIS STAR WARS DAY via Megan McCluskey of Time magazine – Every year May 4, Star Wars fans everywhere celebrate the franchise by wishing each other a galaxy far, far away-themed greeting: “May the fourth be with you.” A play on the phrase, “May the Force be with you,” the saying has sparked an unofficial holiday known as Star Wars Day that has become an annual occasion for people to celebrate their love for the saga. While every May 4 is a special one, the recent release of The Force Awakens and anticipation for the upcoming Episode VIII and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story promise to make this year’s day particularly exciting. Star Wars: Force for Change, the series’ official charity organization, is returning to Disney Parks …  meaning fans will be able to purchase Rogue One shirts — the first products released for the new movie — to benefit UNICEF Kid Power. In addition, the makers of Star Wars: Battlefront — a popular video game based on the films — are offering a free four-hour trial of the game … And, as always, those who are just looking for a laugh can follow #StarWarsDay on Twitter for a live stream of all the May 4th puns and memes that are being tweeted throughout the day.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend Dave Aronberg (why not him for governor in 2018?) and Candice Ericks.

Paul Tash’s real answers for Tampa Tribune readers

An earlier draft of a Q&A on the Tampa Bay Times’ acquisition/homicide of the Tampa Tribune has been discovered. Thank you to the anonymous source who forwarded this.

SUBSCRIPTION & DELIVERY

I subscribe to both papers. What do I do?

— We’ll consolidate your subscriptions. But don’t even think of canceling the Tampa Bay Times — we know where you live.

Will my subscription cost go up?

— Not until we raise it.

I am a long-term Tribune subscriber. What do I need to do?

— Sit back and enjoy our self-congratulatory style.

NEWS & EDITORIALS

I have been reading the Tribune. What does the Tampa Bay Times have for me?

— Maybe you’ve heard about this thing called the Pulitzer Prize.

I have a news tip, story idea or a press release. How do I reach you?

— Honestly, we don’t need your help. (See Pulitzer Prize.)

Will the Tribune writers work for the Times?

— If they’re lucky. We hire only the youngest reporters with the least experience, fewest family obligations, and lowest income expectations.

I’ve preferred the Tribune because I want conservative viewpoints on the editorial pages. Does the Times publish those?

— Only if they meet our high standards for sanctimony.

As a former Tampa Tribune subscriber, do I have access to the Tampa Bay Times’ online content?

— Of course. By the way, if you click on the word ‘Pulitzer’ 10 times, 73 cents goes toward our pension deficit.

I subscribed only to the Tribune’s e-paper. What access will I get?

— We will have an alternative website for people with low reading levels.

What about apps for my phone or tablet?

— Sure, we’re as hip as the next fella.

When you do publish TV and movie listings?

— Before, not after, the shows and movies are broadcast.

Will you still have my favorite comics and puzzles?

— Anything to keep the morons happy.

I read news online at tbo.com. What will happen to that site?

— See “low reading levels.”

I was getting e-newsletters from the Tampa Tribune. Will that continue?

— Sigh. Would you stop with the questions, please?

Will I still get breaking news alerts and emails from the Tribune?

— I can’t hear you.

ADVERTISING & MARKETING

I bought an ad to be published in the Tribune. Will it run in the Times? What about ads on tbo.com?

— Yes. Check the fine print: No returns.

OTHER

What does this mean for tbt*, the Times’ free daily newspaper, or Centro, the Spanish language publication of the Tribune?

— Unfortunately for you, both will be continued.

Who owns the Times? Any connection to The New York Times?

— The Tampa Bay Times is owned by a nonprofit, and ordained by God.

Let us know what you think. Send an email to ciaotribby@gmail.com.

Extensive Enterprises Media seeks web-savvy advertising sales executive

Extensive Enterprise Media is seeking a highly motivated Tampa Bay-based advertising sales executive to join our expanding digital publishing company.

As a result of our recent growth, EEM is looking for a web-savvy professional with detailed knowledge of Tampa and the surrounding region.

Working with our network of online properties – SaintPetersBlog, Florida Politics, Sunburn, Context Florida, Jacksonville Bold and Orlando Rising – the right candidate will have an excellent opportunity to make their mark as a hard-working sales expert with experience in media ad sales.

Responsibilities include: Generating revenue and meeting monthly goals through successful outside sales techniques; develop new business through selling advertising and other products by reaching out to individuals, businesses, and other advertisers. Account managers will be called upon to create and present advertising strategies and ideas for online and digital mediums; provide input on sales promotion ideas to management; retain current and develop new business contacts, and provide outstanding customer service.

The ideal applicant will understand EEM business objectives and develop approaches for clients, helping them achieve objectives through effective advertising.

Qualifications:

  • Have general political knowledge, particularly in the Tampa Bay region
  • Must have familiarity with the area’s newspapers, broadcast, and online news sites
  • Strong organizational, written and presentation skills
  • Proficient in Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • Ability to build and maintain positive customer relationships
  • Competitive, persuasive, energetic and self-motivated
  • Ability to overcome client objections
  • Working knowledge of new media, digital interactive initiatives and social media required
  • Enjoy a fast-paced environment and the ability to work a flexible schedule
  • Professional appearance, attitude and desire to win a must

For immediate consideration, email Peter@FloridaPolitics.com with the following attachments: cover letter, resume and contact information.

Sunburn for May 3 – AFP grades lawmakers; DOC backtracks, again; Adam Putnam talks 2018; Curtains for Mike Vasalinda’s show

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.

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY-FLORIDA IS KEEPING SCORE

Two months after the 2016 legislative session came to an end, the statewide organization is ready to tell Floridians how their legislators fared this past session. AFP-FL is scheduled to release its annual Economic Freedom Scorecard later this morning.

Chris Hudson, the state director for AFP-FL, said the annual report is meant to help taxpayers “clearly identify which members … are focused on voting and sponsoring legislation that will actually improve the quality of life and long-term prosperity for all Floridians.”

“A big part of our mission is to help Florida taxpayers hold their elected officials accountable,” said Hudson.

How do they do that? This year, AFP-FL recorded more than 4,300 individual votes on 59 legislative proposals. AFP-FL awards a point for each vote cast in support of a “pro-economic freedom issue,” like eliminating the manufacturing business tax or expanding school choice, or against an “anti-economic freedom issue,” like a resolution to ban fracking in Florida.

Lawmakers also get points for prime sponsorships of an AFP-FL priority bill. A point is deducted if a lawmaker sponsors bills that AFP-FL opposes. Of the 59 issues included in the scorecard, 24 were never brought to a vote.

The 2016 scorecard also includes a few new features, including a historical reference on how lawmakers scored on issues every year since 2013. It also includes comments from AFP-FL staff and volunteers about why they got involved.

So, how did lawmakers fare? Thirty-six lawmakers earned an A+ for their work during the 2016 legislative session; while 22 lawmakers got an F.

Want to how each lawmaker scored? AFP-FL will unveil the 2016 Economic Freedom Scorecard at 9:30 a.m.

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CARA JENNINGS SAYS STARBUCKS CLASH WITH RICK SCOTT HELPED FOSTER DEBATE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – In a piece written for the Huffington Post … Jenningsdoesn’t back down from her decision to confront Scott, who had just signed into law a controversial abortion clinics bill whose impact is already being felt. Jennings said her exchange has helped start a “conversation, perhaps more importantly, a debate,” about a wide range of issues affecting Florida. She also has a recommendation for Californians, if they should run into the governor on his corporate recruiting trip there this week. Scott sees an opening there because the state recently agreed to boost the minimum wage.

INSURER THAT DONATED TO SCOTT WANTS UP TO 25% RATE HIKE IN S FLORIDA via Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post – A four-year-old company that contributed to Scott’s committee and became one of the state’s five biggest property insurers wants to raise rates in Palm Beach County, and much of South Florida, up to 25 percent. Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Co. has never had a hair ruffled from a Florida hurricane. Yet the company whose growth has come mostly from taking customers of state-run insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. seeks a 14.9 percent average increase statewide. Heritage officials have joined an industry chorus expressing concern about rising costs for non-storm claims such as plumbing leaks. Company officials said they did not want to talk about records … that show the company’s reported claim losses through 2015 have been falling, not rising, as a share of premiums. “There is simply no justifiable basis for the rate increases except for increasing profits for this new and untested insurance company,” said Nicole Vinson, a Tampa lawyer who represents insurance customers and heads a group called Policyholders of Florida.

AGENCY DEFENDS CLOSING TRANSITION CENTER BECAUSE BROWARD SHERIFF’S WON’T TRANSPORT OFFENDERS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The Florida Department of Corrections … is directing blame at the Broward County Sheriff for contributing to the crisis … based on a January letter in which the Broward County sheriff declared that beginning Feb. 1 it would “no longer absorb” the cost of transporting former inmates — more than 500 a year — who were violating their probation from the FDC’s Lauderdale Lakes to jail. Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones responded, saying that was a violation of state law and “contrary to public safety and your statutory duty. ” When Broward didn’t change course, FDC started looking around for a new location to handle more than 5600 offenders on probation in the county. FDC now says it found its solution in Pompano Beach — in the state building that now houses 172 inmates at the successful Bridges of America transition program.

JUDGE SETS HEARING ON MASSIVE MEDICAID SETTLEMENT via Jim Ash of WFSU – A Miami federal judge agreed to schedule a June 28 hearing to formally bless a settlement in a massive class-action lawsuit over children’s Medicaid services in Florida. Pediatricians are optimistic the state will live up to the agreement to increase medical and dental services to some 2 million Florida children, says their attorney, Carl Goldfarb. “Like any settlement, it’s a compromise. Both sides gave certain things up. But we think it’s in the best interest of the children of the state and we think it will improve their access to care.” Doctors and dentists sued more than a decade ago, alleging that Medicaid reimbursements were so low in Florida that more than 500,000 children on Medicaid were not getting preventative care. The settlement calls for some pediatricians to get significantly higher payments

HAPPENING TODAY: The James Madison Institute and the Hispanic CREO host “Increasing Economic Mobility Through Educational Choice,” a panel on educational choice featuring Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny DiazJulio FuentesT. Willard Fair, Urban League of Greater Miami, Ambassador Chuck Cobb and others. Event begins 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Intercontinental Hotel, 100 Chopin Plaza, in Miami.

WHAT STEPHANIE SMITH IS READING — UBER TOUTS SUPPORT OF CITY MAYORS IN FINAL LOBBYING PUSH FOR MIAMI-DADE COUNTY BILL via Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald – Uber is sending a letter signed by 14 city officials, including the mayors of Miami Beach, Doral and Coral Gables, urging county commissioners to vote yes on a pro-Uber bill … “As elected leaders from cities across Miami-Dade, we believe that ridesharing services like Uber are a win-win for our community. Ridesharing expands access to safe, reliable rides and better connects individuals to the public transit system; provides a valuable transportation option to tourists from around the country and world who have come to expect it; and creates economic opportunity for thousands of our residents,” read the start of the letter sent to county commissioners. The letter included the names of some high-profile municipal officials, including Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and Doral Mayor Luigi Boria. Notably absent: Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who has already offered an on-camera endorsement of Uber in a television spot the company is airing in support.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Jamestown Associates, winner of eight 2016 Reed Awards and 60 industry awards overall. Jamestown’s TV, radio, mail and digital advertising helps clients in Florida and across the nation perfect their message, create powerful ads, micro-target the media buy and WIN. See how Jamestown Associates wins tough campaigns at JamestownAssociates.com***

HILLARY CLINTON TOPS DONALD TRUMP IN NEW FLORIDA POLL via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – A new survey by business group Associated Industries of Florida found that Clinton would defeat Trump in Florida, 49 percent to 36 percent. The former Secretary of State leads … in almost every demographic, including Hispanics (+43) and voters in the critical I-4 corridor (+19). The only demographic where Trump leads Clinton is among whites (+8). While Clinton might be the preferable candidate, she isn’t well liked. The survey found 52 percent of Floridians said they had an unfavorable opinion of her. Forty-six percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion, while 3 percent said they were unsure. Clinton was upside-down in several major demographics, including Hispanics (-2), non-major party voters (-8) and millennials (-31). And yet, her unfavorables are nothing compared to those of Trump. The survey found 62 percent of Floridians had an unfavorable opinion of Trump, while 33 percent had a favorable view … 4 percent of respondents said they were unsure. The survey found 87 percent of Hispanics, who will make up about 14 percent of the general electorate, have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. He’s also underwater among females (-32) and non-major party voters (-34). AIF also looked at how Ted Cruz would fare in Florida. The survey found 58 percent of Floridians said they had an unfavorable view of the Texas Republican; while 28 percent said they had a favorable view.

DAVID JOLLY: ‘I TRULY DON’T KNOW’ IF I’D VOTE FOR TRUMP IN NOVEMBER via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – “I’m going to tell you something you rarely hear in elected official say: I don’t know,” Jolly told AM970 The Answer … “I truly don’t know … If you’re asking me in April my position on Donald Trump in November, I don’t know what Donald Trump‘s going to be standing for in November … So I’m certainly not going to take a position five or six months out. You know when Donald Trump made his call to ban all Muslims, I went to the House floor and called on him to drop out of the race.” While Jolly said he had “strong reservations about some of Donald Trump’s solutions for some of the security issues we face as a country. … I will tell you I also have strong disagreements with Secretary Clinton over her view of foreign policy.”

TODD WILCOX BLASTS JOLLY ON CALLING FOR LOBBYING BAN — EVEN THOUGH HE SAID IT NEARLY A YEAR AGO via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Since declaring his candidacy for his first run for Congress … Jolly had to hear from his critics that he’s a creature of the Washington Establishment. Now he’s running as a Washington reformer in a bid for the GOP nomination for Senate in Florida, and says he believes that members of Congress should not be allowed to go back into the lobbying world after their time in Congress is over … a position that mirrors one of his GOP Senate opponents, defense contractor Wilcox, who laid out as part of his plan to end “career politicians” earlier this year. Wilcox has hammered Jolly for his lobbying past. “Welcome aboard, Congressman!” Wilcox emailed … “I hope this means he’ll consider supporting the rest of my Plan to End Career Politicians as well. I won’t hold my breath, though, seeing as how Congressman Jolly has been on both sides of the coin when it comes to cleaning up Washington — he wants everyone to stop fundraising, yet he attended a fundraiser Friday. Today he wants everyone to stop lobbying, yet his staff tried to erase his time as a lobbyist from his Wikipedia page … I’ve got whiplash just trying to keep up with this guy’s hypocrisy.”

ALAN GRAYSON, BASHING ‘BIG OIL,’ PROFITS FROM INDUSTRY INVESTMENTS via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – While Grayson has bashed the influence of “big oil” and touted his support for clean-energy initiatives, the Orlando-area congressman has also personally profited from investments in the oil and pipeline industry. Between 2008 and 2014, Grayson invested in at least 17 separate oil and carbon-energy companies and reported profits ranging between $1.8 million and $11.6 million, according to his congressional financial disclosures. Grayson’s investments included firms that have done business with the conservative Koch Brothers and TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, which Grayson has frequently opposed as a congressman. While the oil investments represent a fraction of the overall holdings of Grayson — a prolific trader who until recently ran an offshore hedge fund that has led the Office of Congressional Ethics to call for an investigation — they have complicated his pitch to environmentalists. “It’s not enough to talk the talk. You have to walk the walk,” said climate change activist Caroline Lewis, founder of the South Florida-based CLEO Institute. “And making money off the oil industry is not walking the walk.”

CARLOS BERUFF WANTS TO VISIT EVERY FLORIDA COUNTY BY END OF MAY via Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald – He’s on his way — with 39 counties done, according to a tracker on his website called “Road to 67,” and just less than a month to hit the remaining 28. He’s already hit up the state’s major population centers, leaving mostly smaller counties still to go, including Hernando and Monroe. The largest county he hasn’t visited is Brevard. Beruff is hardly the only candidate making stops across the state. All five Republican contenders have been showing up at Republican clubs and other events around the state.

READ THE LAST THREE PARAGRAPHS OF THIS INTERVIEW OF GREG EVERS here.

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Beruff will be in Miami. Republican Carlos Lopez-Cantera will be in Doral. Wilcox will be in Orlando.

REDISTRICTING PLAINTIFFS SEEK SANCTIONS AGAINST CORRINE BROWN via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others last week filed a motion for sanctions against the north Florida congresswoman … Brown said her new district violates federal voting laws by cutting down the influence of minority voters and discriminates against them. A panel of federal judges said Brown had “not proven (her) case.” The redistricting plaintiffs now want Brown to pay their legal fees to fight the case in federal court, their motion said. She has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. “A long history of prior litigation and utter lack of essential proof leave no room to make those claims,” they said. Brown and others who challenged the decision “have no reasonable chance of success and their claims are frivolous … It is only fair that Congresswoman Brown and (her) counsel pay the cost incurred to bring their baseless, opportunistic misadventure to an end.”

ANOTHER ENDORSEMENT FOR SUSANNAH RANDOLPH FOR CD 09 – UFCW represents 1.3 million grocery store, retail, food and drugstore employees nationwide. “From leading the fight to defeat wage theft, to standing up for fair pay and bargaining rights, Susannah has been a consistent advocate for America’s working families,” said local UFCW President Ed Chambers. “We look forward to continuing that work with Susannah once she is elected to help hard-working families achieve a better life.” UFCW members are nationally recognized for leading efforts to raise the minimum wage, implement paid sick and family leave, rebuild the middle-class and combat voter suppression.

ANNETTE TADDEO SAYS SHE’LL ESTABLISH ‘RESIDENCE’ IN FLORIDA KEYS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Taddeo … might move to the Keys or have a second home there, as part of her campaign for the 26th Congressional District. “I do plan on setting up residence in the district, and having a residence in the Keys,” she told Morning Magazine host Bill Becker. “Honestly, I don’t just want to show up and fly over [the Keys] and spend a day. I want to see people at the grocery story. I want to be a part of the community.” She said she would not let Republican incumbent Rep. Carlos Curbelo attack her over her current residence, in Pinecrest. “That’s silly,” she said.

MUST-READ — WEALTHY LIBERAL DONORS IN FLORIDA BYPASS PARTY, FUEL COVERT MACHINE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In South Florida, Terranova Corp. is best known as a commercial real estate company with a flashy $1 billion portfolio full of retail and office buildings that dot the region, but the firm’s six-story building on Miami Beach also has a political nickname bestowed upon it by a core group of Democratic consultants: “The Fortress of Democracy” … been home to offices for Obama for America, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Hillary Clinton’s South Florida campaign office … it is also the informal headquarters of the Florida Alliance, a secretive Democratic group comprised of big-money individual donors and labor unions who grew weary of the Florida Democratic Party … Alliance donors want to focus their efforts on helping elect candidates focused on causes championed by progressives, including climate change, voting rights and immigration reform. Terranova Corp. is the commercial real estate giant founded by Stephen Bittel, a bundler who is himself a big name in Democratic circles. The company’s office has hosted meetings of the Florida Alliance, whose donors have largely broken away from the Florida Democratic Party to fund their own political operation, which at various times entails polling, get out the vote efforts, opposition research, voter registration drives, building voter databases and fueling sharp-elbowed attacks against Republicans, most prominently Gov. Rick Scott. The Alliance is officially registered as an unincorporated nonprofit association. It means the group is not tax-exempt, but does not need to disclose donors.

POLITICAL OPERATIVES FIND DEMAND FOR THEIR SKILLS IN BUSINESS WORLD via Patrick O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal – American business is borrowing more and more of the bare-knuckle tactics that are a hallmark of American politics. In a sign of how that shift has created new opportunities for political professionals, America Rising, the unofficial research arm of the Republican Party, has launched a for-profit venture aimed at helping companies, trade associations and wealthy individuals push back against detractors and navigate public-policy fights.

ADAM PUTNAM TO DECIDE WHETHER TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR AFTER NOVEMBER ELECTIONS via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – “I love being commissioner of agriculture, and I’m enjoying every moment of that,” Putnam [said] … “I’ve always said, let’s take this one election at a time. We’ve got an enormous election this year with tremendous consequences for our nation, and I think that we need to get through that first.” When asked whether Marco Rubio’s recent announcement that he won’t run for governor in 2018 would affect his decision, Putnam said he doesn’t think the former presidential candidate’s political career is over. “Sen. Rubio is a great man, and he’s been an extraordinary public servant, and his public service is not done,” Putnam said. “I think everyone is taking things one election at a time.” Putnam has never shut down his political machine. Florida Grown, a Putnam-run political committee, has consistently posted six-figure monthly fundraising hauls, and has more than $3.5 million in the bank. He has used that money to spend on things like campaign consulting, direct mail and fundraising.

***Situated in the heart of Downtown Tallahassee, 101 Restaurant combines southern hospitality with big city style. Through Executive Chef Jason Bruner, 101 Restaurant adopted the Farm-to-Table approach where they use products from farmers and fishermen found within a 100-mile radius of their downtown restaurant. These locations include Quincy, Thomasville, Apalachicola, Panama City and many others. The goal at 101 Restaurant is to give guests a fine dining experience in a luxurious, casual environment. Plus, if you stop by any day from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., you can enjoy their Double Happy Hour! Call them today to make your reservation! (850) 391-1309.***

PENSACOLA ATTORNEY DOUG BATES CONSIDERING SD 2 RUN – Word is that Bates is seriously eying the Senate seat being vacated by Greg Evers. A rising star in Pensacola, the 38-year-old is a partner at the Clark Partington law firm. Bates is an active member of the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar, serving on the Section’s Executive Council, as well as several substantive committees. He is also a member of the Florida Bar Standing Committee on Student Education and Bar Admissions, as well as numerous other local, statewide, and national organizations. His network gives Bates the ability to raise funds around the state, not limited to just the district and Tallahassee, as are others in the race. Bates, who is married with four children, is also close friends with HD 1 incumbent Clay Ingram, as well as HD 2 candidate Frank White and HD 3 candidate Jayer Williamson. In the year of the outsider, Bates could be formidable.

TAMPA LAWYER BOB BUESING FILES FOR SD 19 via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – … he’ll be running against Dana Young, the Republican leader of the Florida House, who announced a Senate bid after lawmakers re-drew the district lines, creating that seat. Buesing, 62, who sits on the boards of child advocacy groups like Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County and the YMCA, has never before run for public office. But, he said, from experience lobbying for those groups in Tallahassee, he believes state lawmakers are focusing on the wrong things. “I’ve reached the conclusion that we have the wrong people in the seats,” Buesing said. “They are in sort of an alternative reality that’s not the reality of most of the people in Hillsborough County.” Specifically, he said the state should emphasize early childhood education and health care as a way to keep prison populations and Medicaid payments low in future decades. “We’re doing it the expensive way,” he said. “We’re allowing these problems to fester and grow and down the road we’ve got an expensive mess on our hands.” The district Buesing and Young are running in — District 18 — is nearly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. It could be among the most expensive in the state this election cycle.

DON’T BE SURPRISED TO SEE MUD FLY IN RACE TO REPLACE DEBBIE MAYFIELD via Laurence Reisman of TC Palm – Here we go again. That’s all I could think of when I heard Lange Sykescriticize trial lawyers at a recent forum featuring candidates seeking the Florida House District 54 seat held by term-limited Rep. Mayfield … I hadn’t thought much of tort or medical malpractice reform in about six years, the last time Erin Grall, a trial lawyer, ran for a state House office. It seems all’s been quiet on the legal reform front since 2014, when Scott pronounced victory in his 2010 “Let’s get to work” campaign to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. At the end of 2015, that number hovered around 1 million. But candidate Sykes brought up tort reform several times recently at the Republican Club of Indian River County. To me, Sykes, 30, a first-time candidate, was picking on Grall, the front-runner among his three opponents in the race … Sykes told me the other day he won’t stoop to mudslinging. The good news — if Sykes allows his supporters to attack Grall — is that negative mailers and TV and radio spots traditionally have not worked in Indian River County. May that be a lesson to local candidates and faceless, out-of-county committees.

SHOCKER: FLORIDA CHAMBER ENDORSES 11 HOUSE CANDIDATES – ALL REPUBLICANS via the Tampa Bay Times – Qualifying doesn’t end until June 24, but the Florida Chamber of Commerce has already made up its mind, at least in 11 Central Florida races for the Florida House.  And guess what? The pro-business-at-all-costs group heavily favors Republican candidates. How heavily? Try each and every one of the 11 candidates. Ben Albritton, who is running against Democrat David Charles Poulin. Jim Boyd, who is unopposed. Colleen Burton, who is running against Democrat Terrell ShandaleNeil Combee, who is running against Democrat Victor SimsJulio Gonzalez, who is running against Democrat Manuel Gerald Lopez, Jr. Mike La Rosa, who is running against Democrat Bienvenido John Valentin Jr. Chris Latvala, who is running against Democrat David Saul VogelKathleen Peters, who is running against Democrat Jennifer WebbJake Raburn, who is unopposed. Dan Raulerson, who is running against Democrat Jose N. Vazquez FigueroaChris Sprowls, who is unopposed.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  From insinuating Jeb Bush is on suicide watch to calling President Obama the “N” word, comedian Larry Wilmore delivered a cringeworthy set of jokes at this year’s ‘Nerd Prom.’ Now critics are calling the act shameful and degrading. Did Wilmore go too far or was the audience just too sensitive to Wilmore’s warped sense of humor? Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda includes analysis on the White House Correspondents Dinner as News Service of Florida reporter Jim Turner recaps Gov. Scott’s own cringeworthy standoff with Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater over the search for Florida’s new Insurance Commissioner. Plus, Justin Sayfie chats with Gomes about the hottest political races to watch in the Sunshine State. The Fort Lauderdale based lawyer-lobbyist who was also a former senior policy adviser to Gov. Bush reveals to Gomes how his friend, Jeb, is dealing with life after getting off the road to the White House.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS SHOW ‘FACING FLORIDA’ ENDS AFTER FIVE-YEAR RUN via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Host and producer Mike Vasilinda [said] that though he loved doing the show and felt it contributed to the political discourse around Tallahassee, the show was taking away too much from his other Capitol news and video production business. “Every business has limited resources. In our case, Facing Florida was taking away time, energy and resources from rate paying clients, new and old, seeking high quality video production,” said Vasilinda, a longtime statehouse reporter and husband of Democratic Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda. “As the volume of high-end production work increased this spring, we were forced to make a choice between providing excellent service to our clients and providing timely, educational information about Florida government to our viewers,” said Vasilinda … despite reaching up to 100,000 viewers a week in seven media markets via nine different TV stations, the business end of his Capitol News Service was never able to find the right sales representative to allow the show to live up its full commercial potential.

THE MIGHT OF MICKEY: ORLANDO STILL TOP U.S. DESTINATION via The Associated Press – The number of visitors coming to Orlando last year jumped 5.5 percent to more than 66 million visitors. That figure sets a record for tourists in Orlando and helps Orlando hang on to its bragging rights as the top tourist destination in the United States for the second year in a row. International tourists represented about 10 percent of the visitors. The head of Orlando’s tourist marketing bureau says a combination of factors contributed to the increase. Those include momentum from new theme park rides at Disney World and Universal Orlando that opened the previous year, and a new marketing campaign aimed at pulling on tourists’ heartstrings. “What makes this destination unique is that when you come here, you get a personal, memorable experience that you don’t typically get from visiting other destinations,” [Visit Orlando CEO GeorgeAguel said. “People really make memories of a lifetime when they come here. It’s very emotional and we make an emotional connection and we sort of tapped into that.”

HOW ‘CAPT. AMERICA: CIVIL WAR’ REFLECTS AMERICA’S SOUL via Orlando Rising – Fans aren’t passionate simply because it’s a fad or a “youth” thing. It’s because these comics and the movies they inspire are a window into America’s soul, said University of Central Florida history professor Richard Crepeau. “These heroes are outside the constraints of social institutions and the rule of law, which is at the center of our social order,” Crepeau said. “In the real world, they might be seen as a threat to a democratic society, but in the world of fantasy they are seen as a means to swift and sure justice.” That’s the case in the latest movie, which will be released Friday … The Captain America movie begins with an Avengers (superhero group) operation that goes awry, causing civilian casualties. The botched mission leads to the United Nations passing the fictional Sokovia Accords, aiming to rein in superhero collateral damage by placing them under governmental supervision. UCF political science professor Aubrey Jewett said the movie explores questions that are at the root of American democracy. “One of the themes is security versus liberty, and finding the right balance between them. In Captain America: Civil War, the superheroes split up into two camps and fight over an issue that we have been trying to find the right compromise for since the founding of the country: Who watches the watchers? How can we make sure people in power are doing the right thing? If they do something wrong, how do we handle that?”

HULK HOGAN SUES GAWKER AGAIN, THIS TIME OVER LEAK OF RACIST REMARKS via The Associated Press – Hogan’s new lawsuit filed … comes on the heels of him winning $140 million verdict against Gawker after it posted a video of him having sex with his then-best friend’s wife. Gawker denies that it leaked the sealed transcript to the National Enquirer. The transcript shows Hogan making several racist statements about his daughter’s then-boyfriend. Once the Enquirer published the story, WWE severed its longtime ties with the famous wrestler. Hogan also filed suit against a talent agent, two disc jockeys, a radio company and a lawyer, saying they conspired to send media outlets the sex tape.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friends Donovan Brown and Tom Scherberger, Bill Lewis and state Senator-to-be Ritch Workman.

Kevin King is right about Oldsmar and the Tampa Bay Rays

Far be it for me to defend Kevin King, the Chief of Staff to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, but here goes…

King recently committed what Michael Kinsley described as a gaffe.

A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth, remarked Kinsely. And while King is not in elected office, he is in politics and he did tell the truth.

About what you ask? About the remoteness of Oldsmar in relation to St. Petersburg and Tampa and the Tampa Bay Rays search for a new location for a stadium.

“If the Rays want to alienate St. Petersburg and Tampa, it may be ideal. To me, Oldsmar’s like Georgia,” King told Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times.

King’s so right, he doesn’t even know it. I reckon the kind of folks who buy season tickets for a baseball team are as likely to visit Atlanta as they are Oldsmar. I know I’ve been in Georgia more during the last five years than I’ve been in Oldsmar.

But don’t tell that to the uber regionalists, like my friends Sen. Jack Latvala and Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, who sound surprised that the Mayor of St. Petersburg and the staff which works for him have a St. Pete-first mentality.

“It made me furious,” Long told the Times. “It set a tone that went in the opposite direction to what so many of us have been working so hard to get beyond.”

I’m sorry, Commish, but what do you expect? For the City of St. Pete to sit quietly while it loses a baseball team to, um, Oldsmar.

Losing the Rays to Bob Buckhorn and Tampa is one thing, but to lose it a town out in BFE is another.

The Rays might as well move to Georgia.

P.S. Apparently Some in Oldsmar doesn’t think too highly of St. Pete, either.

Councilmember Jerry Beverland remarked during a recent meeting, “I don’t give a rat’s rear end about St. Petersburg, because it is like a rat’s rear end, and you can tell him that because I don’t really care. That man can go to Hades.’’

For the record, Beverland is old enough that he was around when Hades was still under construction along the River Styx.

 

Patricia Levesque shares the credit for her INFLUENCE Magazine Golden Rotunda award

Patricia Levesque, the education reformer at the head of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, was the recipient of the 2016 Golden Rotunda award as Florida’s best education lobbyist. However, if you ask Levesque, it is a team effort that makes the Foundation such a potent force for reform.

Levesque emailed me Friday to say that she didn’t deserve the recognition.

“I have such a hardworking, passionate team who make me look good,” Levesque wrote.

Among those who Levesque says she in her honor: Debbie Mortham, the Foundation’s legislative affairs director; Alexandra Dominquez, who handles legislative affairs, Shan Goff, FFF’s state policy director, Alex Kelly, the organization’s vice president of advocaty, Allison Aubuchon, its statewide communications director, and Kate Wallace, the community engagement director for the foundation.

“(So) many other individuals on the team worked much harder and much longer hours to ensure Florida students and parents have more opportunities for a high quality education,” insisted Levesque, who almost sounds like a Pro Bowl quarterback who knows its the offensive line who makes him look so good.

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FloridaPolitics.com tops list of most shared political news websites in Florida

Florida Politics is hot in the Sunshine State.

Speculation that Gov. Rick Scott could be a potential running mate for GOP front-runner Donald Trump in FloridaPolitics.com was recognized as the most discussed and shared article online from a statewide political news site.

It wasn’t even close. Florida Politics even beat other traditional media types as the Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and the Tampa Bay Times.

According to a brand analysis by SocialBNA.com, the Feb. 23 post by Mitch Perry had more than 50,000 shares across Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. The story was the top shared article over the last six months, ranked by domain name between October 2015 and April 26, 2016.

In addition to having the top socially shared article, FloridaPolitics.com’s sister site — SaintPetersBlog — also enjoyed the No. 4 spot with Rick Scott refusing Syrian refugees and seeking Congressional action to stop federal relocation plans.

That report, by Ryan Ray, had 12K shares.

Combined share total for the two sites came to more than 63K, making it “the undisputed winter,” says SocialBnA in a blog post.

A distant second was Scott signing an abortion restrictions bill, posted March 25, 2016, by the Orlando Sentinel Political Pulse blog, with 16.4K shares. The Sunshine State News rounded out the top four with a November report on Ted Cruz’s pledge to end Common Core.

It is interesting to note that the top story was only published about two months ago, racking up shares in nearly record time.

Although it would be easy for FloridaPolitics.com to take all the credit for its rising popularity, none of it would be possible without the supporters and fans who put us here.

And for that, we say thanks.

SocialBnA