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.

Sunburn for 9.28.16 – 14.5%

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

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


… is 14.5.

As in a 14.5 percent hike in the cost of premiums for new and renewed workers’ compensation coverage in Florida.

Which means the insurers got their way, or the Office of Insurance Regulation showed some backbone. It depends on which side you’re on.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which represents the industry before OIR, pressed for a 19.6 percent increase.

OIR, now led by Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, said the council didn’t make the case for the full increase.

Insurers said their costs were sure to go through the roof after state Supreme Court decisions this year struck down caps on legal fees and expanded certain payments to injured workers from two year to five years.

In any event, the insurers can claim a partial victory and regulators can crow they bumped chests with the industry.

But the companies who pay for workers’ comp for their employees are faced with budget-busting increases in the cost of doing business.

And that means business people will be ringing the cell phones of their favorite legislators, telling them the equivalent of, “You have to do something about this. We’re job creators, fer chrissake!”

And that’s how a “session priority” gets its start.

— Reax —

Bill Herrle, NFIB Florida: “The severity of this rate hike leaves business owners to find ways to make ends meet, while the pockets of attorneys are getting padded. Business owners will rise to the challenge, as they always do, and pay these higher rates while at the same time trying to keep their doors open and keep up with labor costs. But the even higher price will be paid in the loss of jobs and the disastrous impacts it will have on our economy.”

Logan McFaddin, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI): “PCI recognizes the importance of organizations like NCCI who can independently review Florida’s workers’ compensation system and offer recommendations. We encourage all stakeholders to review NCCI’s analysis of the Florida Supreme Court decisions in Emma Murray, Castellanos and Westphal. OIR’s approval of the revised NCCI’s recommendation of a 14.5 percent rate increase is a clear sign there needs to be a solution to help control costs while providing care to injured workers. …We continue to support the 2003 reforms to Florida’s workers’ compensation system that protected employees and controlled costs for employers prior to the rulings.”

Mark Touby, President of Florida Workers’ Advocates (a pro-trial lawyer advocacy organization): “Insurance companies like to point blame at lawyers, but we agree with Florida’s business community that this unwarranted 14.5 percent increase in premiums will have a damaging impact on employers across our state. Florida’s workers’ comp system was conceived to protect working men and women, and it would be a bitter irony if this rate hike actually ended up costing businesses so much that it forced them to stop creating the very jobs those workers depend on.”


If you’re not in Orlando this week, you’re missing out.

With the Florida Chamber Foundation holding its 2016 Future of Florida Forum in the land of The Mouse and Enterprise Florida meeting there, the state’s most important business and political leaders will be in town.

The chamber forum kicks off at 11:30 a.m., and will focus on workforce, economic development, and infrastructure needs. The event is meant to give business leaders and elected officials a chance to “discuss how to prepare for Florida’s future,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes in a video touting the event.

Expect to hear from heavy-hitters from the public and private sector. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will speak Wednesday. So too will Richard Florida, a best-selling author, professor and an expert on city and urban affairs. Attendees will also get a chance to participate in discussions about talent and education, workforce development, and healthcare and quality of life.

The forum continues Thursday with presentations by CFO Jeff Atwater, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Dennis Lockhart, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

The big names may be on the mainstage, but policy wonks may be just as interested in what’s happening behind the scenes.

The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors is holding its meeting in conjunction with the chamber’s forum. And with a search for a new CEO nearing an end, expect interest in the board meetings to be at an all-time high.

One meeting to watch: The Enterprise Florida legislative policy committee meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The organization failed to get its top priority — $250 million for a dedicated fund to help lure businesses to Florida — during the 2016 legislative session, and the meeting this week will give the organization a chance to start looking ahead to 2017.

And that will be key. The public-private organization has been under scrutiny in recent years, and House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran has said he would lead the charge to end taxpayer funding to the organization.

Enterprise Florida’s full Board of Directors will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The board could hear from the top pick for the new president and CEO during that meeting.

The 2016 Future of Florida Forum and the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors are hosting their meetings at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, 1 Grand Cypress Boulevard. The Enterprise Florida board meetings run through Thursday, while the Florida Chamber will hold board and council meetings through Friday.

And one more thing: If you’re planning to be in Orlando for the 2016 Future of Florida Forum, make sure to #BringABook. The Florida Chamber Foundation is teaming up with Volunteer

Florida to host the #BringABook service initiative. The two organizations are attendees to bring a new or gently-used elementary school books to the forum. The organizations will collect books near the registration area at the Future of Florida forum on Wednesday and Thursday.

The groups have chosen City Year Orlando, which deploys more than 60 AmeriCorps members to mentor and tutor students at seven Orlando schools, as the recipient.


A recent poll released by the Florida Chamber Political Institute tried to gauge public opinion of plaintiff trial lawyers. The response? Not great.

The survey found 34 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of plaintiff trial attorneys, while 15 percent said they had a favorable view. The survey found 27 percent of those polled said they never heard of them.

Yet, the trial lawyers are attempting to make a return to the strong position they once held in the Florida Legislature. Preventing them from doing this will be one of the topics the Chamber’s political team and allies will be talking about this week.

Not to sound the alarm, but this discussion can’t come soon enough for business interests.

August 30th was a big night for trial attorneys and their storm troopers Jeff Porter and Kevin Sweeny (or is it, Sweeney?). The Florida Justice Association was involved in two dozen House and Senate races.

In the House, the group played a role in helping Kamia Brown, Cord Byrd, Brad Drake, Jason Fischer, Erin Grall, Joe Gruters, Amy Mercado, Alexandra Miller, Sean Shaw, Emily Slosberg, and Jackie Toledo cross the finish line victorious. But their work wasn’t done there. In the Senate, the Florida Justice Association had its hand in the victories of Randolph Bracy, Doug Broxson, Dwight Bullard, Daphne Campbell, Jeff Clemens, Gary Farmer, Debbie Mayfield, Bobby Powell, Greg Steube, and Victor Torres.

Could this be the year the trial attorneys stage a comeback and once again begin asserting their power in the Florida LegislatureThat’s certainly a question to discuss if you’re talking about the future of Florida.

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— Back to the campaign trail —

DAYS UNTIL: First day domestic vote-by-mail ballots can be sent – 6; first day of early voting – 30; Election Day – 40; first Legislative Organization Session – 54; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 78; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 159.

FIRST DONALD TRUMP-HILLARY CLINTON DEBATE IS THE MOST-WATCHED DEBATE OF ALL TIME via Alex Weprin of POLITICO – … averaged nearly 81 million viewers, according to data from Nielsen … Until last night, the most-watched debate in history was the 1980 debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. That debate also averaged just over 80 million viewers. With a few networks still to be counted by Nielsen, and the 80 million figure not including anyone who watched online, last night’s debate will end up with more people watching than any prior presidential debate … On cable news, Fox News led the way with more than 11 million viewers. NBC led the broadcast networks with more than 18 million people tuning in … The numbers do not include anyone watching on PBS, Univision or non-rated TV channels like C-SPAN, nor does it include anyone that streamed the debate online. Data from Facebook, YouTube and other digital sources suggests that millions more people watched the debate live online. All told, Fox News averaged 11.4 million viewers, including 3.5 million in the key adults 25-54 demo. CNN averaged 9.8 million viewers, including 4.4 million in the demo, and MSNBC averaged 4.9 million viewers, including 1.6 million in the demo. NBC averaged 18.1 million viewers, ABC 13.5 million viewers, CBS 12.1 million viewers and the PBS NewsHour 2.96 million viewers. Among the business channels, Fox Business Network averaged 673,000 viewers, while CNBC averaged 520,000 viewers.

TRUMP SAYS HE MAY HIT ‘HARDER’ IN NEXT DEBATE; CLINTON TELLS REPORTERS SHE HAD A ‘GREAT, GREAT TIME’ via Matea Gold, Anne Gearan and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post –  “I really eased up because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” Trump said on Fox News, saying he would have brought up “the many affairs that Bill Clinton had” but held back because the Clintons’ daughter Chelsea was in the audience. “I didn’t think it was worth the shot,” he said. “I didn’t think it was nice.” The GOP nominee sought to cast the night as a win, but he kicked off the day by wading right back into the provocative episodes that his Democratic rival used against him in their first face-to-face encounter. Clinton, meanwhile, stuck to her script, saying Trump expressed opinions during the debate that were “offensive and off-putting” … “The real point is about temperament and fitness and qualification to hold the most important, hardest job in the world, and I think people saw last night some very clear differences between us,” the Democratic nominee told reporters on her campaign plane before flying to North Carolina. The former secretary of state shrugged off Trump’s suggestion that he might go after her husband’s personal life. “He can run his campaign however he chooses,” Clinton said. “I will continue to talk about what I want to do for the American people.”

THE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE WILL TRY SOMETHING NEW via Russell Berman of the Atlantic magazine – The Commission on Presidential Debates had already announced that the second of three debates would feature questions submitted online in addition to those asked by the traditional studio audience … organizers confirmed they are embracing a format that a broad bipartisan cross-section of activist and civic groups known as the Open Debate Coalition have been pushing for years. Americans will be able to submit and then vote on questions online at, and ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular queries when they jointly plan the debate. “This year’s presidential debate moderators will have a rich pool of voter-submitted questions they can draw on that carry greater weight because they are backed by votes from the American people,” Mike McCurry, a co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said in a statement accompanying the announcement by the Open Debate Coalition. The coalition tested out the format this spring during a debate between Representatives Alan Grayson and David Jolly, who were running in their respective party primaries for the U.S. Senate in Florida. The debate commission studied that debate and took note that both candidates praised the format, which featured more substantive questions on policy issues as opposed to those focused on electoral politics and the candidates’ personal foibles … organizers believe the voting format will add “more moral weight” to the questions, said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the groups backing the effort. Other members of the Open Debate Coalition include the conservative activist Grover Norquist, FreedomWorks, MoveOn, Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and Numbers USA, which backs more restrictive immigration policy. “There is a mutual frustration with presidential debate questions dominated by a handful of television personalities rather than average voters,” Norquist said. Unlike in the “open” Senate debate in Florida, however, the networks have given themselves an out in agreeing to the voting format. They have agreed to consider the 30 most popular questions, but they aren’t promising to ask them.

SHELDON ADELSON-BACKED FUTURE45 LAUNCHES NEW AD ATTACKING HILLARY CLINTON — The super PAC released a new advertisement raising questions about Clinton’s experience. The advertisement features footage from Monday night’s presidential debate. In it, a narrator says Clinton “brags about her experience. … But beyond the flight miles, what’s the Clinton record? Chaos in Libya and Syria, the rise of ISIS, a failed reset with Russia, supporting the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, and a terror attack in Benghazi, four Americans dead.” The 30-second spot then shows Donald Trump saying “Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience.” Future45 is backed by the Ricketts and Adelson families. The ad, according to POLITICO, is part of a national TV buy.

HILLARY CLINTON SUPER PAC PUTS UP NEW AD ON DONALD TRUMP’S TEMPERAMENT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Trump’s boast in Monday night’s presidential debate that his strongest asset is his temperament is being thrown back at him in a new ad by Priorities USAClinton’s super PAC. “I have much better judgment than she does,” Trump said. “I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.” Addressing Clinton, he said he saw her talking to someone recently and she was “totally out of control.” The ad from Priorities USA, called “Temperament,” will air in Florida, North Carolina Ohio & Pennsylvania on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

IN MIAMI, TRUMP OFFERS CONDOLENCES FOR JOSÉ FERNÁNDEZ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Trump‘s town hall-style meeting with Miami Hispanics began … with a short tribute to the late Marlins’ star pitcher Fernández. State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, who moderated the meeting at Miami Dade College’s Koubek Memorial Center in Little Havana, mentioned the boating accident that killed Fernández early Sunday, prompting an outpouring of grief, particularly among Cuban Americans. “What a talent. What a great person,” Trump said, offering his condolences. “You know, I was just talking to Jeff Loria about José,” Trump said, referring to the Marlins’ owner. “He’s devastated…. He considered him to be just a young, dear, dear friend.”

HAPPENING NEXT WEEK – IVANKA TRUMP HEADS TO MIAMI FOR CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISER — Ivanka Trump, the daughter of GOP nominee Donald Trump, will be in Miami for a fundraiser at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6. The invitation lists Senate President Designate Joe Negron, and Sens. Jack Latvala and Wilton Simpson as hosts. Also listed on the invitation: Brian Ballard, the Florida finance chairman for Trump Victory; former Ambassador Mel Sembler, the finance vice chairman for Trump Victory, and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

CLINTON CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA CLAMORS FOR MORE EARLY VOTING HOURS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Clinton wants counties to expand early voting to the most days and hours allowed by state law … But with voting by mail fast becoming the most popular way to vote in the state, it won’t happen. Early voting in Florida can start Oct. 24 for up to 12 hours a day, ending on the Sunday before Election Day, Nov. 8. Voters can vote at any early voting site in their county, and many are open until 6 p.m. or later. Despite the state’s history of long lines at early voting sites, just nine of 67 counties will offer the maximum 168 hours of early voting: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Charlotte and Duval. Still, that covers nearly half of all Florida voters. Miami-Dade, with 1.3 million voters, will open 30 early voting sites, more than any other county, at libraries, community centers and city halls. The list is on the county elections website, Broward Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes decided to offer early voting for 14 days from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. after some voters expressed fear of long lines. Hillsborough will have 14 days of early voting at 16 locations for eight hours each day. Pasco will provide eight days of early voting at eight sites for 12 hours a day. The Clinton forces support St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and African-American pastors, who have called on Pinellas County to add an early voting site that’s closer to where many of the city’s black voters live.

FLORIDA HAS NEVER SENT OUT MORE MILITARY AND OVERSEAS BALLOTS via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Division of Elections says more than 73,670 ballots were shipped out last week to those voters. That is a 13 percent increase over four years ago when 65,000 such ballots went out. Since 2012, every state has agreed to send out military and overseas ballots 45 days in advance of an election to improve the chances those ballots can get to far flung voters and still get back in time to be counted. Florida also now allows military and overseas voters to fax back their ballots on a secure line, rather than risking them not returning fast enough. The 73,670 ballots may not seem like much in a state in which 12.5 million people are registered to vote. But Florida has had its last two governors races and last presidential election all decided by less than 75,000 votes. Still, election experts say there needs to be a lot more done to help make military and overseas voters aware that they can still vote and how to navigate the process. A federal report released to Congress earlier this year warns that military and overseas voters have their ballots thrown out for errors 6 percent of the time. Traditional mail ballots in the U.S. are thrown out for errors only 1 percent of the time.

ANOTHER DUMB STORY FROM A SW FLORIDA TV NEWS STATION: HAS THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION HURT COLLIER COUNTY TOURISM? via – The manager at the Bayfront Inn in downtown Naples said despite the beautiful view and being right on 5th Avenue South, they are down about 3 percent from last year. It’s the same for most other Naples resorts. That may not sound like much, but combine that with weekly booking losses for the last year and it makes an impact … Last month, Bayfront Inn’s bookings were at a 7 percent decrease, meaning thousands of tourists lost. “We all know we’re in the middle of a presidential election,” said Jack Wert, a member of the Collier Tourism Development Council. “And people just have a little bit of apprehension about who is going to win.” That has people worried what the outcome might do to the economy and their bank accounts. Combined with Zika and the unusually warm weather northerners experienced last winter, more people are staying home. [Bayfront Inn] has begun to offer a 25 percent discount to non-Florida residents to avoid a repeat of last year. It is also an attempt to keep Germans, one of Collier County’s most popular tourist populations, visiting.

EPILOGUEJEB BUSH TO TEACH, LECTURE AT HARVARD THIS FALL via The Associated Press – Harvard’s Kennedy School announced … that Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, will be a visiting fellow in the Program on Education Policy and Governance. Bush plans to serve as a guest instructor and presenter on education issues during several visits to the Ivy League university during the fall term. He is the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Bush is scheduled to deliver the annual Edwin L. Godkin Lecture at Harvard Thursday. The school says he will discuss problems with economic and social mobility in the U.S. The more than century-old lecture series is named for the founder of The Nation magazine.

MARCO RUBIO RELEASES TWO ADS HIGHLIGHTING PATRICK MURPHY’S RESUME — The Rubio campaign released two 30-second spots Tuesday that aim to highlight reports that Murphy exaggerated his background. The first ad features news clips, including one where a reporter says “When was the last time somebody who has had as little on their resume as Patrick Murphy did made it to the Senate?” The second ad hones in on a non-partisan report that called Murphy the one of the most ineffective members of Congress. “Four 435 members of Congress. A non-partisan study ranked their effectiveness. Who was at the bottom,” a narrator says in the advertisement. “Patrick Murphy. The study found Murphy one of the least effective members of the entire congress. His effectiveness rating? Zero. Zilch. Nada. … Patrick Murphy. Untruthful and ineffective.”

SUPER PAC AD CRITICIZES PATRICK MURPHY FOR SUPPORTING IRAN DEAL via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – A conservative super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is launching a new to highlight … Murphy‘s support for the Iran nuclear deal. The 30-second spot from the Senate Leadership Fund is the second wave of advertising as part of the group’s $10.8 million planned spending this fall in Florida. The new ad will run in Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach on cable and broadcast TV. Criticizing Murphy for backing the Iran nuclear deal, the ad characterizes Iran as a place where “they still chant death to America, help kill our troops, (and) sponsor terrorism.” In response to the Senate Leadership Fund’s ad, Murphy’s campaign noted that Rubio has missed “nearly half” of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearings on Iran.

HOUSE MAJORITY PAC TIES DAVID JOLLY TO DONALD TRUMP IN NEW AD — The 30-second spot from Democratic super PAC features Pinellas County women describing Jolly as “dangerous,” “backwards” and “out of touch.” The advertisement — called “One Word” — attempts to connect the Indian Shores Republican to Trump. “David Jolly shares Donald Trump’s backwards agenda for women,” a female narrator says in the advertisement. “Jolly opposes a woman’s right to choose, and voted to defund Planned Parenthood and deny women access to basic health care like mammograms and cancer screenings.” The advertisement began airing on broadcast and cable TV in the Tampa Bay media market Tuesday, as well as on digital platforms. Jolly faces Rep. Charlie Crist in the Nov. 8 general election.

GOP GAY RIGHTS SUPER PAC LAUNCHES AD CAMPAIGN FOR CARLOS CURBELO via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami herald –  Curbelo‘s starting to get help for his re-election race from all corners of the Republican Party — including from American Unity PAC, which backs Republicans who support gay rights. American Unity launched a $125,000 digital ad campaign for Curbelo on YouTube and other online platforms. The two ads, however, are not about LGBT issues. Betting that women will be the key swing voters in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, the super PAC has instead put together two spots highlighting Curbelo’s stance on equal pay. Clicking on the videos leads to a standalone page touting Curbelo’s equal-pay stance. Curbelo co-sponsored the “Workplace Advancement Act,” a bill that would protect employees from retaliation for asking or talking about their wages. Democrats have bashed Curbelo for failing to support the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” which would require employers to demonstrate that any male-to-female pay disparity is due to job performance and not gender. “In the U.S. House, Carlos Curbelo has been a champion for freedom and equal opportunity for all of South Florida,” Tyler Deaton, senior adviser to American Unity, said in a statement. “His legislative record in Congress proves that he is a different kind of Republican. Whether he is fighting for women to receive the equal pay they have earned or to protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace, he understands that when Floridians excel at work, their families succeed, Florida succeeds and America succeeds.”

NRCC SAYS JOE GARCIA HAS EMBARASSED SOUTH FLORIDA ‘LONG ENOUGH’ IN NEW TV SPOT — The National Republican Congressional Committee released a new spot focused on Democrat Joe Garcia’s past political controversies. “Remember why you got rid of former congressman Joe Garcia? The scandals. Election fraud. Campaign payoffs. Former employees sent to jail,” an announcer says in the advertisement. “Now Joe Garcia is running again. And embarrassing you again. New court records reveal Garcia knew even more about his campaign’s illegal activities. And recently, Garcia was caught making lewd and sexist comments about Hillary Clinton. Joe Garcia, he’s embarrassed you long enough.” Garcia is running in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, and is hoping to unseat Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who defeated Garcia in 2014. “Joe Garcia has consistently embarrassed the people of South Florida with his never-ending scandals and lewd sexist comments,” said Chris Pack, an NRCC spokesman in a statement. “The people of South Florida deserve better than someone like Joe Garcia, who just doesn’t get it.”

CATHOLIC BISHOPS HAVE “CONCERNS” ABOUT MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT PROPOSAL via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops … didn’t say they were opposing the initiative, on the ballot as Amendment 2. But they have “concerns” … “At first glance, the proposed amendment appeals to a sense of empathy and implies safe and limited use by the infirm,” the bishops wrote. “However, closer inspection reveals that the framework established by Amendment 2 is problematic.” The bishops cited four areas where the proposal has problems. They said it has a potential for fraud and abuse; opens the door to risks from edible marijuana products; there’s no assurance of quality and consistency with the medical pot sold; and could provide greater access to marijuana for kids.

TEACHER UNIONS SPLIT ENDORSEMENTS IN TOUGH MIAMI STATE SENATE RACE via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The Florida Education Association endorsed state Rep. José Javier Rodríguez  … breaking with the local United Teachers of Dade union that has backed the Democrat’s rival, incumbent Republican state Sen. Miguel Díaz de la Portilla. The FEA’s endorsement of Rodríguez comes as the two candidates and their backers have savaged each other in TV ads over school funding in Florida Senate District 37, with each side accusing the other of selling out kids. One of Díaz de la Portilla’s ads also prominently features local teachers. Though Rodríguez has been attacked for voting against school money, the Democrat “has consistently voted against disastrous budget cuts and has stood firm against taxpayer giveaways to for-profit schools, which dilute the valuable resources our school system needs,” FEA President Joanne McCall said in a written statement. “We are excited to endorse Rep. Rodríguez and are ready to get to work in the final 45 days of his campaign to ensure he is elected as the next state Senator of District 37.” Díaz de la Portilla is one of the few Republicans in the state who has stood by labor and bucked his own party when it comes to some litmus-test issues such as expanded gun rights. As a result, Díaz de la Portilla has the formal support of AFSCME, the Police Benevolent Association, the United Faculty of Miami Dade College and the Florida Professional Firefighters.

FRANK ARTILES FOCUSES ON MIAMI-DADE TOLLS IN NEW AD — The new advertisement highlights excessive tolling and its impact on Miami-Dade families. The 30-second spot features people taking off their shirts and dropping them in a pile, as an announcer says “Everyday people are giving their shirts off their backs to pay for excessive and abusive tolls on our highways.” Artiles, a Miami Republican, says he is “taking a stand against tolls.” On his website, Artiles said he would push for a moratorium on the construction of new tolls or new toll hikes on expressways, stop the FDOT plan to place more toll lanes on the Turnpike and Palmetto Expressways, and demand a toll fee reduction. Artiles faces Democrat Dwight Bullard in Senate District 40

BEN DIAMOND UP WITH 1ST TV AD OF GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN FOR HD 68 – Diamond is going up with his first television ad of the general election campaign. As of Sept. 16, Diamond, a Democrat, has raised $292,688, and his general election competition, home health care executive JB Benshimen, has raised $14,608. Diamond is spending some of that money on a new ad, highlighting his top priorities, such as protecting public schools, and ending pay-to-play politics in Tallahassee.

SHOT: @MarcACaputo (on 8/25): I used to refer to occasionally. But I came to believe its # are made up/massaged. So beware of using any of its “work”

CHASER: @MarcACaputo (on 9/27): To clarify, many robopolls are now unreliable but doesn’t purposefully skew results. I will still continue to avoid its polls.

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RICK SCOTT TOURS MOSAIC SINKHOLE; COMPANY SAYS HOLE IS MUCH DEEPER THAN FIRST REPORTED via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott … flew over the massive sinkhole that opened up at a Mosaic phosphate processing plant near the Hillsborough-Polk county line. Then company officials briefed the governor on how they’re trying to clean up the millions of gallons of contaminated water that fell into the aquifer. Scott, who met with reporters for 11 minutes afterward, said his top priority was making sure the pollution that fell into the aquifer — the source for most of Florida’s drinking water — does not taint the water used by the plant’s neighbors. “The big thing is to make sure our water is safe to drink,” the governor said more than once. Meanwhile a Mosaic executive said the sinkhole — initially reported as being 300 feet deep — extends much further down into the ground than that. “We believe it’s deeper than that,” said David Jellerson of Mosaic. “Our recovery well goes down to 700 feet.” Scott defended his Department of Environmental Protection for not informing the Mosaic plant’s neighbors, who remained in the dark about the sinkhole for three weeks. When the agency finally informed the public earlier this month, DEP officials said they went “above and beyond” what they were required to do. “The DEP followed the existing law,” he said, but then added that the law made no sense.

REDUCE CRIME AND SAVE TAXPAYER MONEY? DON’T ARREST KIDS, STUDY SAYS via William Patrick of – If the goal of the criminal justice system is to maximize public safety, then arresting kids for first-time petty offenses is a bad plan, a new statewide study shows. On the other hand, increasing civil citations would keep thousands from carrying criminal records and, in many cases, from committing future crimes. An added benefit? Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars saved, or recommitted to confront violent crime. “Stepping Up 2016,” a study by the Tallahassee-based advocacy group The Children’s Campaign, found that those under 18 who are arrested for minor crimes are twice as likely to reoffend as those issued civil citations and assigned to youth diversion programs. Civil citations are an alternative for juveniles with no criminal history who commit common misdemeanors such as underage drinking, possession of marijuana, vandalism and theft. The study shows that when comparing nine of the most common youth-related offenses, arrests resulted in at least double the recidivism rate for seven of those offenses. It’s expensive in more ways than one. “Without a doubt, arrests close doors to youth for future education and employment,” Roy Miller, president of The Children’s Campaign, said in a statement.

APPOINTEDJames “Nelson” Bradshaw to the Florida Development Finance Corporation.

PERSONNEL NOTE: CAPITAL CITY CONSULTING HIRES ANDREW KETCHEL via Florida Politics — Ketchel’s a veteran of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration; his hire will be formally announced later this week. Ketchel’s first day will be Oct. 17. He most recently was Legislative Affairs Director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. His coming on board signals that CCC aims to be a player next session as the state continues to struggle with water use and conservation issues. Ketchel also was in legislative affairs for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He first came to Tallahassee as part of the Gubernatorial Fellows Program, working in the Executive Office of the Governor during Scott’s first term.

PERSONNEL NOTE: GUNSTER PROMOTES LILA JABER, 3 OTHERS via Florida Politics — Jaber, a former chair of the Florida Public Service Commission has been promoted to a leadership position at Florida’s business-oriented Gunster law firm. She’s now Regional Managing Shareholder, joining three other shareholders who also joined the firm’s leadership team, according to a news release. She already was in charge of firm’s government affairs practice. Jaber has served on Workforce Florida’s board and was a former chair of Leadership Florida, according to her bio. She was appointed to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities, by former Gov. Jeb Bush and served two terms. In addition, Derek E. Bruce and Allison E. Turnbull have become Orlando Office Managing Shareholders, and Bill Adams is now Jacksonville Office Managing Shareholder, Perry said.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Tampa’s Beth Leytham.

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Personnel note: Capital City Consulting hires Andrew Ketchel

Andrew Ketchel, a veteran of Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration, is joining Capital City Consulting, has learned.


The hire will be formally announced later this week. Ketchel’s first day will be Oct. 17.

Ketchel most recently was legislative affairs director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. His coming on board signals that CCC aims to be a player next session as the state continues to struggle with water use and conservation issues.

Firm co-founder Nick Iarossi also wasted no time in re-staffing his influence shop after the departure of star lobbyist Jen Gaviria.

She left for Clewiston with new husband Eric Edwards, as he starts a new in-house lobbying job with U.S. Sugar.

Ketchel also was in legislative affairs for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He first came to Tallahassee as part of the Gubernatorial Fellows Program, working in the Executive Office of the Governor during Scott’s first term.

The Fort Walton Beach native was a four-year letterman in football at the University of South Florida. He also was named a Big East Academic All-American.

Ketchel has an undergraduate degree in political science and a graduate degree in public administration.

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Personnel note: Gunster law firm promotes Lila Jaber, three others

A former chair of the Florida Public Service Commission has been promoted to a leadership position at Florida’s business-oriented Gunster law firm.


Lila Jaber has become Regional Managing Shareholder, joining three other shareholders who also joined the firm’s leadership team, according to a news release.

She already was in charge of firm’s government affairs practice. Jaber has served on Workforce Florida’s board and was a former chair of Leadership Florida, according to her bio.

She was appointed to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities, by former Gov. Jeb Bush and served two terms.

Jaber’s responsibilities now include “recruiting and integrating top talent in North and Central Florida, and enhancing the firm’s presence in Tampa, Orlando, and Tallahassee,” said H. William ‘Bill’ Perry, the firm’s managing shareholder.

The firm adopted a corporate structure in 2008.

In addition, Derek E. Bruce and Allison E. Turnbull have become Orlando Office Managing Shareholders; Bill Adams is now Jacksonville Office Managing Shareholder, Perry said.

“Developing our leadership team is the next step in advancing our singular focus on Florida,” he said in a statement. “Local knowledge helps us have a greater impact in these communities, and attracts the best talent to Gunster.”

Gunster, which has 180 attorneys, in 2016 hired four shareholders, 10 associates, and one “of counsel” shareholder, the release said. The firm recently added two offices, in Winter Park and Boca Raton.

For the full news release, click here.

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One reason to support Bridges of America in its latest dust-up with the Department of Corrections

Bridges of America and the Department of Corrections are at it again.

As Florida Politics’ Jim Rosica reported Monday, Bridges and the DOC are once more warring over transitional programs for the state’s inmates.

This isn’t the first time Lori Costantino-Brown, president and chief executive officer of Bridges of America, and Corrections Secretary Julie Jones had a high-profile scuffle.

A similar battle broke out earlier this year over Broward Bridge, a residential program offering transitional counseling, drug treatment, and other services to inmates on work release.

The state wanted to pull the plug; Bridges waged a PR battle to keep the facility open.

That tussle ended when DOC agreed to place inmates then using Broward Bridge in other treatment centers around the state.

Yesterday, a group of state and local elected officials, as well as reformed ex-prisoners who know firsthand what the Bridges of America Orlando Transition Center can do, appeared Monday morning to protest the possible closing of the center by the Florida Department of Corrections.

Last week, the Florida Department of Corrections announced a new program called Spectrum, which will offer many of the same services Bridges provides, but inside the state’s prisons, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“Expanding substance abuse treatment at all levels of incarceration helps us treat the greatest number of inmates who are at the highest risk to reoffend.” Jones said in a statement. “Preparing these inmates with the proper tools to fight their substance abuse issues allows us to prepare them for successful transition into community work release.”

It’s unclear why Jones continues to piss in Brown’s Cheerios. A bureaucrat like Jones doesn’t take that kind of piss without first getting permission from someone inside the governor’s office or encouragement from an overeager staffer. Which one is influencing Jones’ decision making remains unclear.

Meanwhile, the numbers are on Brown’s side. The center costs taxpayers less money and reduces recidivism.

But there is more to this policy debate than dollars and figures. There’s a human side.

At Monday’s news conference, reformed ex-prisoners Jeffery VannockerJames Rogers, and Jacob Dribbler made impassioned, emotional appeals as to why the center — and why the program — worked, through sharing their stories.

“Being at this program helped me in so many ways,” Vannocker said. “It was able to open my mind artistically. I did a lot of family days, and they got me into work releases and an excellent job. The counselors helped me with anger management, criminal thinking errors, stuff along those lines. When I got back into the real world, it helped me get ready for society, and the pressures you’re not used to being incarcerated.”

He said one of the most memorable experiences he had with the center was seeing his daughter on Christmas, one year after initially not being allowed to.

“I was afforded the opportunity to learn quite a bit about myself, and why I was acting and behaving the way I was,” Rogers said. “Learning came through the process of group therapy, receiving feedback from peers, and one-on-one counseling, receiving feedback from counselors who not only had been there before, but also were educated to help us understand the reasons for our criminality and substance abuse.”

Left unsaid by Vannocker, Rogers, or Dribbler is what happens to countless prisoners who attempt to re-enter society but do so from inside the prison rather than in an outpatient center. Once they have jobs, they are extorted by their fellow prisoners and, sometimes, the prison guards. They are attacked mercilessly by other inmates who have no chance of making it to the outside.

There is a horrible irony in that the prisoners who are closest to their freedom and redemption are also some of the most vulnerable.

Bridges of America wants to protect these second-chance seekers. The Department of Corrections should not stand in its way.

Material from correspondents Jim Rosica and Lawrence Griffin was used in this post.

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Sunburn for 9.27.16 – Woo! Okay.

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

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


In a combative opening debate, Hillary Clinton emphatically denounced Donald Trump Monday night for keeping his personal tax returns and business dealings secret from voters and peddling a “racist lie” about President Barack Obama. Businessman Trump repeatedly cast Clinton as a “typical politician” as he sought to capitalize on Americans’ frustration with Washington.

Locked in an exceedingly close White House race, the presidential rivals tangled for 90-minutes over their vastly different visions for the nation’s future. Clinton called for lowering taxes for the middle class, while Trump focused more on renegotiating trade deals that he said have caused companies to move jobs out of the U.S. The Republican backed the controversial “stop-and-frisk policing” tactic as a way to bring down crime, while the Democrat said the policy was unconstitutional and ineffective.

The debate was heated from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers. Clinton was more measured and restrained, but also needled the sometimes-thin-skinned Trump over his business record and wealth.

“There’s something he’s hiding,” she declared, scoffing at his repeated contention that he won’t release his tax returns because he is being audited.

Trump aggressively tried to turn the transparency questions around on Clinton, who has struggled to overcome voters’ concerns about her honestly and trustworthiness. He said he would release his tax information when she produces more than 30,000 emails that were deleted from the personal internet server she used as secretary of state.

Tax experts have said there is no reason the businessman cannot make his records public during an audit.

Clinton was contrite in addressing her controversial email use, saying simply that it was a “mistake”. She notably did not fall back on many of the excuses she has often used for failing to use a government email during her four years as secretary of state.

“If I had to do it over again, I would obviously do it differently,” she said.


The televised face-off was the most anticipated moment in an election campaign that has been both historic and unpredictable. Both sides expected a record-setting audience for the showdown at Hofstra University in suburban New York, reflecting the intense national interest in the race to become America’s 45th president.

The candidates sparred over trade, taxes and how to bring good-paying jobs back to the United States.

Clinton said her Republican rival was promoting a “Trumped-up” version of trickle-down economics — a philosophy focused on tax cuts for the wealthy. She called for increasing the federal minimum wage, spending more on infrastructure projects and guaranteeing equal pay for women.

Trump panned policies that he said have led to American jobs being moved overseas, in part because of international trade agreements that Clinton has supported. He pushed Clinton aggressively on her past support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact while she was serving in the Obama administration. She’s since said she opposes the sweeping deal in its final form.

“You called it the gold standard of trade deals,” Trump said. “If you did win, you would approve that.”

Disputing his version of events, Clinton said, “I know you live in your reality.”

Trump struggled to answer repeated questions about why he only recently acknowledged that Barack Obama was born in the United States. For years, Trump has been the chief promoter of questions falsely suggesting the president was born outside of America.

“He has really started his political activity on this racist lie,” Clinton charged.


— Trump’s temperament —

If Clinton aimed to get under Trump’s skin in the first 30 minutes of the debate, the Democratic nominee appeared to succeed. Clinton often put Trump on the defensive, saying he had “rooted for” the collapse of the housing industry and had considered climate change to be a hoax. In another exchange, Clinton said, “I have a feeling that by the end of this evening I’ll be blamed for everything that ever happened.”

Trump interjected, “Why not?” Later on, Trump said he had a “winning temperament,” prompting Clinton to respond: “Whew. OK.”

— Economy —

Trump scored points with his core supporters by lamenting the number of jobs that have moved overseas. He opened with an extensive argument that jobs are “fleeing the country” and going to Mexico while the U.S. economy is being undermined by China. He pointed to Ford Motor Co.’s plans to build compact cars in Mexico and railed against Carrier’s decision to move hundreds of air-conditioner manufacturing jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico. “So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this,” Trump said. His economic case could resonate in states like Ohio and Michigan that have grappled with the loss of manufacturing jobs. “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States,” he said. Clinton pointed out that her father was a small businessman, adding, “The more we can do for the middle class, the more we can invest in you, your education, your skills, your future, the better we will be off.”

— Clinton zingers — 

Often delivered with a smile, Clinton came prepared with pithy lines that undercut Trump’s case on the economy. In an early exchange, Clinton said Trump would push for “trickle-down” tax cuts that would only benefit the wealthy, calling it, “trumped-up trickle-down.” When Trump got in a dig at Clinton’s absence from the campaign trail, she said there was nothing wrong with spending time preparing for the debate. “You know what else I did?” she asked. “I prepared to be president.”

— The political outsider —

Trump repeatedly underscored his role as a political outsider, questioning the economic stewardship of President Barack Obama and the administration of former President Bill Clinton, who sat in the front row. Describing the loss of manufacturing jobs in states like Michigan and Ohio, Trump said Clinton had been in government for 30 years, asking, “Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now?” When the discussion turned to foreign policy, Trump said Obama and Clinton failed to confront the Islamic State group, saying his opponent was there when it was “an infant.”

— Trump’s taxes — 

Clinton savaged Trump with a lengthy explanation of why Trump won’t release his tax returns, concluding he’s got something to hide. She said Trump may not be “as rich as he says he is” or “maybe he’s not as charitable” as he says he is. Clinton warned that perhaps Trump hadn’t paid any federal income tax at all, noting that some of Trump’s income tax returns in the 1970s showed he had paid no federal income taxes in certain years. Trump disclosed the returns to New Jersey casino regulators.

— Clinton’s emails —

Clinton gave arguably her most concise answer to questions about her use of a private email server as secretary of state, taking responsibility and giving Trump nowhere to go. Despite her past statements in which she changed her story from previous iterations or left wiggle room by not being completely accurate, on Monday she avoided getting wrapped up in a lengthy exchange over one of her biggest liabilities. When Trump said he would release his tax returns if Clinton put out what he called her “33,000 deleted” emails, Clinton said, “I made a mistake using a private email” server. Trump interjected, “That’s for sure,” prompting Clinton to respond, “I take responsibility for that.”

— Gender wars — 

Clinton turned the tables on Trump when he was asked to respond to his assertions that she doesn’t have the “stamina” to be president. Trump questioned whether Clinton has the physical fitness to be president and he repeated the criticism directly to her. Clinton replied that Trump shouldn’t talk about stamina until he’s tried to maintain a busy schedule like that she kept up as secretary of state. And then she dug into him, adding, “This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs.”

— Racial politics —

Trump has said black voters have “nothing to lose” by supporting his candidacy but he was forced to answer for his role in claiming Obama was born outside the United States. Clinton accused Trump of spreading a “racist lie” that our “first black president” was not an American citizen, adding, “He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.” Trump responded by recalling the bitter debates between Clinton and Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, saying Clinton treated Obama then with “terrible disrespect.” Later, when Clinton said Trump’s view of black communities was too grim, Trump sighed, rolled his eyes and said, “Ugh.”

— “I agree with her …”

Trump and Clinton seemed to agree on two potentially combustible political issues: child care and barring people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. Both are unusual positions for a GOP presidential nominee. Trump injected an element of surprise when he said he disagreed with many Republicans and “we have to look at” barring the sales of guns to people on the terror watch list. The proposal is sharply opposed by the National Rifle Association, one of Trump’s chief backers, but Democrats have hoped it will change the dynamic of the gun debate. Trump also said he backs government aid for child care expenses, an issue that has been pushed by his daughter, Ivanka Trump. Clinton and Trump have both proposed plans to help families pay for child care.

SHOT: Google searches before the presidential debate, by U.S. state: google1

CHASER: Google searches after the presidential debate, by U.S. state:


VOTERS NATIONALLY SAY CLINTON WON DEBATE 51/40 via Public Policy Polling – PPP’s post-debate survey … finds that voters nationally think Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the debate, 51/40.  Perhaps most important for Clinton is that among young voters, who she has underperformed with, 63 percent think she won the debate to only 24 percent for Trump. 47 percent of voters in that age group said the debate made them more likely to vote for her, to only 10 percent who say it made them less likely to vote for her. For Trump with that group on the other hand, only 23 percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for him to 39 percent who said it made them less likely to. Clinton also won the debate by particularly wide margins with women (54/36) and voters who are either African-American or Latino (77/13). Among white voters the debate was basically a draw with Trump coming out ahead 47/45. Clinton emerges from the debate with clear advantages over Trump on temperament, preparedness to be President, and whether she can be trusted with nuclear weapons.

FINANCIAL MARKETS REACT via Quartz – As investors chalked up the debate as a win for Clinton—seen as the more stable candidate—the Mexican peso jumped almost 2% and the S&P 500 was up 0.6% in after-hours trading. The Canadian dollar strengthened from its weakest level since March in a signal that investors think Clinton could win the election.

— “Clinton did what she needed to do” via Rob Fournier of the Atlantic

— “If This night doesn’t save Hillary’s Campaign, Nothing Will.” via Jim Geraghty of the National Review

— “Viewers impressed by how male Trump looked during debate” via The Onion

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ON SOCIAL MEDIA, EVERYONE WANTED TO TALK ABOUT DONALD TRUMP’S TEMPERAMENT via Phillip Bump of the Washington Post – On Twitter and Facebook, Trump dominated the conversation, but it may not have been for positive reasons. Overall, the moment that had the most resonance on Facebook was when Trump said his strongest asset was his temperament. Trump was the subject of 79 percent of the conversation on the social network. On Twitter, he was the focus of 62 percent, with the most talked-about comment also being his temperament, followed by his comments on stop-and-frisk (which were debatable) and his mention of fighting the Islamic State.

TRUMP INTERRUPTED HILLARY CLINTON 25 TIMES IN THE FIRST 26 MINUTES OF THE DEBATE via Emily Crockett of – It didn’t take long during Monday night’s presidential debate before Trump started interrupting Clinton. A lot, and aggressively. We kept count — and Trump interrupted Clinton 25 times in the first 26 minutes of the debate. Moderator Lester Holtinterrupted Clinton 15 times, bringing the total to 40. “That’s called business, by the way,” Trump interjected after Clinton argued that he “was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis.” Shortly after that, he interrupted to deny that he ever said climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese … And then things escalated pretty quickly. Trump started loudly talking over Clinton and at times interrupted her with snide, even childish-sounding remarks. When Clinton directed viewers to check out her website for fact checks, Trump interjected: “And take a look at mine also.” At one point, he threw in a one-word, “Not.” Gender dynamics were always going to be a big deal at Monday’s debate. It wasn’t just America’s first major party presidential debate between a man and a woman; it was this particular man and woman — Donald Trump, who typically uses bullying, hypermasculine dominance as a weapon, and Hillary Clinton, who has spent decades weathering sexist attacks in the public eye. Many commentators were expecting it would cost Trump dearly if he came off as too domineering or bullying — and that he would moderate his style as a result. Apparently not.

HOWARD DEAN AS A THORY ABOUT DONALD TRUMP’S SNIFFLES via Amber Phillips of the Washington Post – (F)rom the moment Trump took the stage for the first presidential debate, viewers couldn’t help but notice something: He was sniffly. In fact, The Post’s Gillian Brockell counted Trump sniffed at least 27 — wait, 28 — times since the debate began … So what’s going on? Twitter, of course, had its theories — among the most colorful was the drug use (when snorted, cocaine can cause nasal drip. Gross, I know). Dean was among the most prominent to share that (again, totally unsubstantiated) theory.

IT SURE SOUNDS LIKE TRUMP ADMITTED HE DOESN’T PAY TAXES via Helaine Olen of – The moment came … when Trump was discussing the need for infrastructure improvements. “Our country has tremendous problems,” the Republican candidate said. “We’re a debtor nation, we’re a serious debtor nation, and we have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals. And we don’t have the money, because it’s been squandered on so many of your ideas.” Clinton interrupted: “And maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years. And the other thing I think would be important …” It’s what came next that’s extraordinary. Trump said: “It would be squandered too, believe me.” Would be squandered. Had Trump just admitted he doesn’t pay a penny in taxes? It sure sounded that way … she missed the bigger point: Trump claims he cannot release his taxes because he is under audit by Internal Revenue Service. This is hooey. Instead, he’s left commentators—and Clinton, who also offered some other theories about Trump’s tax return … to wonder whether the real reason the Donald won’t let the public review his filings is because he doesn’t want us to see how little he’s paying. Perhaps because he’s not paying anything at all. Trump just gave those critics a lot of ammunition, even if Clinton didn’t seem to realize it onstage.

TRUMP WEBSITE GOES DOWN DURING DEBATE via Eric Geller of POLITICO – Trump‘s campaign website went down briefly approximately 30 minutes into the first presidential debate. It was back up shortly after 9:30 p.m. The outage appeared to begin shortly after both Trump and Clinton encouraged viewers to visit their website for details of their policies. The hacktivist group Anonymous tweeted a few minutes prior that it was “getting things set up” for the debate, but it was unclear exactly what the tweet was in reference to. Anonymous has taken down Trump’s website before.



@MaryEllenKlas: Hillary frames answer of how to help American pocketbooks with long list of detail, Donald frames the problem but offers only 2 details

@SaintPetersblog: If I interrupted my wife as much as @RealDonaldTrump does @HillaryClinton, I’d be sleeping on the couch.

@JonFavs: Did Trump just answer his charge that he didn’t pay income taxes by saying “it would be squandered anyway?”

@JPeterDonald (Deputy Commissioner for Communications for NYPD): Stop question & frisk has decreased nearly 97% in NYC since ’11. Crime, murder, & shootings have decreased significantly during same period

@EliLake: To sum up. America’s leading Birther just cribbed Black Lives Matter to attack Hillary. Now he credits the birther thing to Sid Blumenthal

@AaronBlake: I still don’t think Trump knows what temperament means. He always equates it with winning.

@BillMaher: If that meltdown ending with “I have the greatest temperment” hasn’t convinced the idiot undecideds to vote Clinton, nothing can.

@SteveCrisafulli: Donald Trump proved tonight he is the voice of change. Hillary Clinton is more politics as usual.

@Shawnfor63 (GOP lawmaker in a swing-y Florida House District): Donald Trump: Hillary kicked your butt. The middle will decide this election. You didn’t get them tonight. Next time prepare.

@TheMadStone: The only winner tonight is the Voyager probe, which is speeding away from the Earth at 17 kilometers/second


American Bridge: “Donald Trump confirmed tonight, once again, what we already knew — he’s unfit to serve as Commander in Chief. His complete lack of substantive ideas and two-minute long tirade on birtherism aside, Trump couldn’t manage to keep his temper in check for even a few moments before he lashed out. While Republicans watched with bated breath hoping “presidential” Trump would appear tonight, it became clear that “presidential” Trump simply does not exist. Trump showed himself to be angry, thin-skinned, prone to lies, and operating on a hair trigger temper — and those qualities have no place in the Oval Office.”

Politico: “Insiders: Hillary Won. Eight in 10 agree Donald Trump lost the first debate, but Republicans aren’t convinced it will hurt him.” via Caleb Howe: – Winners: The Media: The real winner … was the media. Attack Ad Makers: Oh boy. If you are in the business of making attack ads, you are about to be rich, rich, rich. Hard Core Supporters: If preaching to your own choir counts for anything, then tonight was a huge success. Sean Hannity: Trump said your name, Sean. SQUEE!! Losers: Gun Rights Advocates … America’s Reputation: These two could not have been less likable. Hillary was awkward, her “emulate human emotion” chip malfunctioned multiple times, and she can’t deliver a killing blow line to save her life. Donald, on the other hand, was too emotional, temper driven, surly, quick to interrupt, and bad at facts and information. Sean Hannity: Everybody refuses to call him.

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TRUMP, CLINTON DEADLOCKED IN BLOOMBERG POLL BEFORE KEY DEBATE via John McCormick of Bloomberg Politics – The Republican and Democratic nominees each get 46 percent of likely voters in a head-to-head contest in the latest Bloomberg Politics national poll, while Trump gets 43 percent to Clinton’s 41 percent when third-party candidates are included. Clinton faces higher expectations as tens of millions of people tune in for a television spectacle that could reach Super Bowl viewership levels. About half, 49 percent, say they anticipate the former secretary of state will perform better, while 39 percent say that for Trump … Among likely voters under 35 years old, Clinton gets 50 percent to Trump’s 40 percent, down from her 29-point margin in August in the two-way race and from her 26-point margin in June in the three-way race … The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 points for top-line numbers, with 1,002 likely voters interviewed, and is higher among subgroups.

The poll was taken Wednesday through Saturday, after Clinton took political heat for calling half of Trump’s supporters “deplorables” and for disclosing she had pneumonia after a video caught her falling ill at a Sept. 11 ceremony. Both major nominees face skepticism from a majority of likely voters about their trustworthiness and their willingness to tell the public everything it wants to know to decide if they’re fit to serve. More than seven in 10 rate Clinton’s truthfulness as “just fair” or “poor,” while more than six in 10 say that of Trump … About two-thirds of likely voters, 69 percent, say Trump should maintain 40 years of tradition for presidential nominees and release his tax returns … Trump is rated better than Clinton on physical health, with 61 percent calling his “excellent” or “good” compared to 36 percent who give Clinton good marks. Just 8 percent call Trump’s health “poor” compared to 31 percent for Clinton. Still, half of likely voters say they aren’t bothered at all that Clinton didn’t immediately tell the public about her pneumonia.

TRUMP DIRECTED $2.3 MILLION OWED TO HIM TO HIS TAX-EXEMPT FOUNDATION INSTEAD via David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post – In cases where he diverted his own income to his foundation, tax experts said, Trump would still likely be required to pay taxes on the income. Trump has refused to release his personal tax returns. His campaign said he paid income tax on one of the donations, but did not respond to questions about the others. That gift was a $400,000 payment from Comedy Central, which owed Trump an appearance fee for his 2011 “roast.” Then there were payments totaling nearly $1.9 million from a man in New York City who sells sought-after tickets and one-of-a-kind experiences to wealthy clients. That man, Richard Ebers, bought goods and services — including tickets — from Trump or his businesses, according to two people familiar with the transactions, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the payments. They said that Ebers was instructed to pay the Donald J. Trump Foundation instead.

The gifts begin to answer one of the mysteries surrounding the foundation: Why would other people continue giving to Trump’s charity when Trump himself gave his last recorded donation in 2008? The donations from Ebers and Comedy Central, which account for half the money given to the Trump Foundation since 2008, also provide new evidence of the Trump Foundation’s ties to Trump’s business empire … laws governing the diversion of income into a foundation were written, in part, to stop charity leaders from funneling income that should be taxed into a charity and then using that money to benefit themselves. Such violations can bring monetary penalties, the loss of tax-exempt status, and even criminal charges in extreme cases.

FLORIDA CHAMBER POLL: CLINTON 43%, TRUMP 41% via Florida Politics — The survey found Clinton is at 43 percent, followed by Trump at 41 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson received 8 percent support, while 5 percent said they were undecided. Two percent of respondents said they would pick someone else. Both Clinton and Trump are deeply disliked. The survey found 55 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Clinton, while 41 percent had a favorable opinion. The poll found 53 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of Trump, while 39 percent said they had a favorable view of Trump. Clinton is helped by a commanding lead among Hispanic voters. She leads 53 percent to 30 percent in a head-to-head race with Trump. She also leads with African Americans, leading Trump 89 percent to 4 percent. Trump leads among white voters, 51 percent to 35 percent.

TIM KAINE OUTLINES ECONOMY UNDER CLINTON DURING LAKELAND SPEECH via Adam Smith and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – In his 43-minute speech before about 120 enthusiastic supporters, Kaine also talked about national security and took repeated shots at …  Trump, saying a Trump presidency would lead to the loss of 3 million jobs. “Hillary will be a ‘You’re-hired’ president; Donald Trump will be a ‘You’re-fired’ president,” Kaine told a delighted crowd in a reference to Trump’s reality TV show line. And of course, Kaine couldn’t’ resist providing his own preview of tonight’s highly anticipated debate, predicting that Trump’s election promises — like a wall sealing off the United States from Mexico — wouldn’t stand up the scrutiny of a one-on-one debate. “You’ve got 90 minutes and there’s just two of you onstage,” Kaine said. “You can run, but you can’t hide.”

… Kaine’s biggest attacks on Trump were about his ability to be an effective commander in chief. He blasted Trump for his praise of Putin and public statements that he would end U.S. cooperation with allies. That would mean less intelligence sharing, weakening the United States and putting its residents more at risk from terrorism, Kaine said. “Donald Trump as commander in chief scares me to death,” he said.

BILLBOARD IN MIAMI LINKS TRUMP AND MARCO RUBIO via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “The digital billboard ad, located directly next to the Palmetto Expressway exit for Rubio’s Miami Senate office, will run for four weeks, warning drivers about not only the danger of a Trump presidency but the danger of the Florida Republican senator’s outspoken endorsement of Trump,” according to a release from Florida’s Voice, which joined with For Florida’s Future, a super PAC tied to Tom Steyer. “Recent polling in the state indicates that a majority of Latino voters are unaware (47 percent) that much of Rubio’s immigration position mirrors the GOP nominee and platform and that 58 percent would be deterred from giving him a second Senate term if they knew that he supported Donald Trump.” The Spanish-language billboard includes a quote from Trump and Rubio. “I’m not just saying Mexicans, I’m talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re coming into this country,” Trump is quoted as saying. “We have to make sure that Donald wins this election,” says Rubio.

MEANWHILE … JILL STEIN BARNSTORMING FLORIDA THIS WEEK via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Green Party nominee Stein hasn’t made much of a showing in most Florida presidential polls, but she will make a big Sunshine State swing this week, hitting Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando and Miami Wednesday through Friday. The schedule: Wednesday, Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. The Cuban Club, 2010 N Avenida Republica De Cuba in Ybor City; Thursday, Sept. 29, Noon – 2 p.m., Robert L Taylor Community Center, 1845 34th St. in Sarasota; Thursday, Sept. 29, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Flamboyan Banquet Hall at Acacia’s El Centro Borinqueno, 1865 N Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando; Friday, Sept. 30, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Miami Dade College, 300 NE 2nd Ave., Wolfson Campus, Chapman Hall in Miami.

FLORIDA CHAMBER POLL SHOWS MARCO RUBIO IS AT 46%, PATRICK MURPHY AT 42% via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Another day, another poll showing a close race between Murphy and Rubio. The Florida Chamber Political Institute released a new poll Monday that showed Rubio and Murphy were locked into a tight race. The survey found Rubio was at 46 percent, while Murphy was at 42 percent. Eleven percent of Floridians polled said they were undecided.The poll of 617 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 15 through Sept. 20. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent. Rubio leads Murphy among Hispanics, 46 percent to 43 percent. He also leads Murphy among white voters, 53 percent to 35 percent. Murphy, meanwhile, holds a 68 percentage point lead over Rubio among African American voters, 79 percent to 11 percent. With just a few weeks until Election Day, Murphy remains unknown. The survey found 29 percent of respondents said they had never heard of Murphy, while 22 percent said they had a favorable view of Murphy. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Murphy.

ALISON MORANO TO LEAD FLORIDA CAMPAIGN CHALLENGING RUBIO ON SOCIAL SECURITY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Americans United for Change announced Mondaya six-figure, five-state ‘Hands Off My Social Security!’ campaign “to prevent a surprise attack after the November election” on Social Security, and Alison Morano will lead the effort here in Florida. Morano, the vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party and former chair of the Pasco County Democrats, will work on trying to get Rubio to back off his previous comments on the issue by having him a pledge to strengthen the program. “If Senator Rubio refuses to sign this pledge against benefit cuts and privatization, he will be hounded to explain why wherever he goes,” Morano said … “We’ll be there at his public events, at his offices, outside his closed door fundraisers, and on social media. If he won’t answer why, why should voters trust him to not undermine their retirement security? If Rubio prefers to let his record speak for itself, then fine. He’s on tape claiming Social Security “weakened us as a people” even though Americans work very hard to pay into the system. The record shows that the first chance he got, Senator Rubio would force seniors to tough it out another year or so by raising the retirement age including those with physically demanding jobs. Rubio also used to be a big advocate of privatizing Social Security and letting his big donor friends on Wall Street get their hands on earned benefits. Rubio claims he’s changed his mind on privatization, but then he voted in 2015 against a measure to make it harder to pass such a proposal. Like privatization, voting for Senator Rubio is a risky gamble for Florida Seniors.”

TWEET, TWEET: @burgessev: No mention at all by Kaine or any other speaker of Patrick Murphy/Florida Senate race that Democrats keep saying is winnable.

EVEN MURPHY’S NAME IS A POLITICAL CREATION via Brent Scher of the Washington Free Beacon – Murphy went by his middle name “Erin” until he decided to pursue a life in politics in 2011 … All traces of Murphy before his political career—from mentions in the Miami Herald to his signature on official documents—indicate that he was known to all as “Erin.” Murphy reinvented himself in 2011 after hiring a political consultant to map out his congressional run. He moved to a new district, switched party affiliations, and started telling tall tales about being a successful small-business owner. He also abandoned the name “Erin,” which he had gone by since his days as a prep school student in Miami and aspiring businessman. Incorporation documents for Coastal Environmental Services, a failed company that Murphy’s father started for him as he attempted to assist with cleanup of the Gulf oil spill, list Erin Murphy as one of the company’s three board members. The Miami Herald business section announced that “Coastal Construction Group has named Erin Murphy vice president of coastal environmental services.” When Murphy was quoted in official company press releases, he was referred to as Erin Murphy. In the company’s 2012 annual report, Erin Murphy was still listed as a director. The Free Beacon has determined that the name goes back to Murphy’s childhood and continued to be used until he entered politics. The earliest mentions of Murphy located by the Free Beacon were during his high school days at Palmer Trinity, a private Miami prep school. Though he is currently referred to as “Patrick” on the school website, records show he was not actually called that while enrolled there … Murphy listed his name as Patrick Murphy in his initial statement of organization with the FEC in March 2011, but still signed the form as Erin. He later abandoned the signature as well, as can be seen on the statement of candidacy filing for his current Senate campaign.

***PRIDE Enterprises is a not-for-profit corporation that was statutorily designated in 1981 by the Florida Legislature to operate vocational work training programs inside state prisons and to provide job placement assistance for inmate program participants throughout the state of Florida. PRIDE operates 41 inmate training centers in 21 state correctional facilities. PRIDE fully funds its work programs and job placement/re-entry services from the sale of its products and services – all at no cost to Florida taxpayers. Visit to learn more about PRIDE Enterprises.***

DAYS UNTIL: First day domestic vote-by-mail ballots can be sent – 7; first day of early voting – 31; Election Day – 41; first Legislative Organization Session – 55; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 79; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 160.

POLL: 73% OF VOTERS SUPPORT MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT INITIATIVE via Florida Politics — A new poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute found 73 percent of voters would support the amendment. The survey found 22 percent were opposed to the ballot initiative. The poll of 617 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 15 through Sept. 20. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent. The 2016 proposal allows people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. A similar amendment received 58 percent of the vote in 2014, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law. The new Florida Chamber Political Institute survey is in line with other recent polls, which showed 70 percent of Floridians supported the amendment.

SOLAR AMENDMENT SUPPORTED BY 66% OF FLORIDIANS, NEW POLL FINDS via Florida Politics — A new poll by the Florida Chamber Political Institute found 66 percent of Florida voters would support solar power initiative, while 16 percent of respondents said they would vote against it. “The Florida Chamber supports the solar energy policies in Amendment 1 and it appears Florida voters do too,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. The amendment is backed by the state’s major electric companies, and outlines the rules for solar power in Florida. It would put existing law dealing with the rights of homeowners and businesses to own or lease solar equipment into the state constitution.

DAVID JOLLY AND CHARLIE CRIST DON’T DISAGREE ON EVERYTHING IN CD 13 via Marc Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – In separate interviews … Jolly and Crist revealed that not much separates them on major issues such as the Cuban embargo and background checks for buying high-powered firearms. Last month commercial flights between the United States and the island nation resumed after being halted for a half-century. While President Obama has restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and loosened restrictions on travel, the Cold War-era embargo remains in place. Jolly prefers to lift the ban in stages. He cautioned that tourist money from China and other countries hasn’t improved the lives of the Cuban people. He fears that U.S. dollars will only enrich the Castro regime, not reform it. Crist supports lifting the embargo because of Florida’s and Tampa Bay’s ties to Cuba.

Crist and Jolly both stressed the need to keep Americans safe in the aftermath of mass shootings and domestic terrorist attacks on crowded venues, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando … Jolly also favors tougher background checks. He’s also open to exploring whether the number of bullets that can be held in a rifle magazine should be restricted … They don’t agree on everything, of course. Take Obamacare. Jolly maintained his opposition to the ACA. Repealing Obamacare was one of his main planks when he won his seat in 2014. He says, though, that the ACA should not be repealed unless a new plan is in place. “We should have legislation to ensure that nobody is worse off,” he said. “We owe it to the people to have an alternative.” Crist, who once favored repeal as governor, now said he “strongly supports” the ACA and pointed out that Jolly has voted to end it.

DONATIONS TO LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGNS TOP $308.1 MILLION — Legislative campaigns raised $308.1 million through Aug. 16. An analysis by Contribution Link found $234.5 million of that went to committees. Political committees received 78 percent, or $182.3 million, of that sum, while the party executive committees received $29.2 million, or 12 percent of the total donations to committees. Affiliated party committees received $13.2 million, or about 6 percent of the total contributions to committees. The analysis showed $73.6 million went to candidates. Most of that — $38.8 million, or 52 percent — went to Republican candidates, while Democrats received $22.1 million, or 30 percent of the total donations to candidates. No party affiliate candidates brought in $12.7 million through Sept. 16.


BOB BUESING RELEASES FIRST TV AD via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The ad highlights three of Buesing‘s, “bonus kids,” the word he uses to describe the six at-risk youth he and his wife have taken in over the years. “Every kid in Florida deserves a fair shot,” Buesing says in the ad. “We can’t let special interests undermine our values.” Buesing faces Dana Young and Joe Redner, who is not affiliated with a party, for the open Senate seat in District 18. Young released her first ads in mid-August. The Buesing ad features three “bonus kids”: Laura Lee, who now works full-time as a waitress and volunteers for the campaign; Bianqa, who graduated from technical college and works as a hospital lab technician; and Alberto … a certified nurse assistant and community college student. The ad is the beginning of an expected six-figure ad buy, according to the campaign.

FRANK ARTILES RAISES $109K IN TWO WEEKS FOR SD 40 BID via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – State records show Artiles raised a combined $209,225 — $109,225 to his official campaign account and $100,000 to his political committee— between Sept. 3 and Sept. 16 … Dwight Bullard raised $9,925 during the same time period, $3,750 of which was in kind contributions from the Florida Democratic Party. Bullard received $1,000 from the Community Health Care political committee, three $1,000 contributions from United Teachers of Dade TIGER, and $100 from St. Lucie County TIGER PAC. The in-kind contribution from the Florida Democratic Party was for polling, records show. Bullard had just one expenditure during two-week fundraising period. Records show the campaign spent $344 on a charitable contribution to the Zoological Society of South Florida. He ended the fundraising period with $54,584 cash on hand. Records show Artiles raised $109,225 for his official campaign between Sept. 3 and Sept. 16. That included $1,000 contributions from the Florida Leadership Committee, Friends of Jason Brodeur, Rebuild Florida, Growing Florida’s Future and Jobs for Florida. His campaign spent $108,742 during the same time period, including $72,793 for a TV ad buy. He ended the reporting period with $135,285 in his campaign account. His political committee, Veterans for Conservative Principles, raised another $100,000 during the same time span. That included $25,000 contributions from Jobs for Florida, Working for Florida’s Families and Innovate Florida, the political committee chaired by Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano.

HD 68 REPUBLICAN JB BENSHIMEN HITS FUNDRAISING RUT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – With six weeks to go before the election in Pinellas County, the 47-year-old Benshimen, a home health care business executive who has lived in the district for less than a year, has raised only $14,608. Ben Diamond, on the other hand, has collected $292,688. “David Jolly is right. People are tired of you calling them up and asking them for money,” he said half-jokingly … referring to Jolly’s STOP Act legislation which would ban federal office holders from fundraising. “People don’t like it,” he says about dialing for dollars, though he insists he’ll be in the hunt when it’s all said and done Nov. 8. Benshimen said he has proven that he can successfully fundraise, having raised more than $120,000 for his race for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District seat in Palm Beach County last year to oppose Democrat Lois Frankel. But he opted out of that race after redistricting made it much more viable for a Republican to win. He ultimately moved to St. Petersburg earlier this year and prepared to challenge Dwight Dudley in the HD 68 seat, before Dudley surprised observers by dropping out of the race in May. Benshimen says the campaign is putting in another $24,000 into his campaign. “We’re trying to raise money the best way we can,” he says.

HAPPENING TODAY: Buesing is scheduled for a meet-and-greet event 6 p.m. at the Lake Carlton Arms, Clubhouse 2, 5631 Goldfish Dr. in Lutz.

IN FIRST VIDEO AD, JENNIFER WEBB SLAMS SPECIAL INTERESTS via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics – “For too long, big special interests have gotten their way in Tallahassee and we’re paying the price,” Webb says in the 30-second spot. Examples flash on the screen: “Duke Energy customers will pay $108 million a year for canceled nuclear plants” and “Teco, Duke Energy get electrical rate increases.” Also flashing on the screen are Webb’s campaign promises: To take on special interests, protect drinking water, oppose fracking and stop Duke’s utility tax. “Let’s put the people of Pinellas first,” Webb concludes. Webb, a Democrat, is making her first run for public office against HD 69 incumbent Kathleen Peters.

HAPPENING TOMORROW: Candidates in Pinellas County state House districts 66, 67 and 69 are slated to speak at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club beginning noon at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.


Linda Stewart, running for Florida Senate District 13, has been endorsed by state Rep. Mike Clelland, her former rival in the SD 13 Democratic primary.

Dana Young, running for Florida Senate District 18, was endorsed by the Hillsborough County Firefighters Local 2294 and Tampa Firefighters Local 754.

***Host your Election Night Watch Party at the Governors Club, Tallahassee’s premier business, social and political venue! Party packages are available for all budgets; rooms for 50-450 guests. For more information or to book a celebration, contact Laura Kalinoski, Director of Catering at 850-205-0665 or Visit***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will tour the Mosaic New Wales Facility and sinkhole and receive a briefing from DEP and company officials at 11:30 a.m. at the Mosaic New Wales Facility, 3095 County Road 460 West in Mulberry.

JACK LATVALA: ‘WIDE RANGE OF OPTIONS ON EVERGLADES TO BE CONSIDERED’ via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – As incoming Senate budget chairman, GOP Sen. Jack Latvala says he will carry Sen. Joe Negron’s proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir “to the finish line” in 2017, but he also says the chamber will consider a range of options. Negron, the incoming Senate president, in August proposed that the state buy 60,000 acres of farmland south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce environmentally harmful discharges to coastal estuaries. Some agricultural industry representatives are dismissing the idea but Latvala says environmentalists, agriculture and business groups need to work together. “I think it’s wrong to think there is only one idea that can’t be modified on the table,” Latvala

STATE, LOCAL OFFICIALS JOIN EX-PRISONERS TO PROTEST PROPOSED CLOSING BRIDGES OF AMERICA CENTER via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – A group of state and local elected officials, as well as reformed ex-prisoners who know firsthand what the Bridges of America Orlando Transition Center can do, appeared to protest the possible closing of the center by the Florida Department of Corrections. The center is being considered for closure due to what Bridges of America presumed was budgetary constraints. But years of results have shown the center to cost taxpayers less money and reduce recidivism, it asserted … If the center is closed, the inmates in the program would have to operate out of the prison itself. At the news conference, reformed ex-prisoners Jeffery Vannocker, James Rogers and Jacob Deibler made an impassioned, emotional appeal as to why the current center at 2001 Mercy Drive is ideal — and why the program worked, through sharing their stories. “Being at this program helped me in so many ways,” Vannocker said. “It was able to open my mind artistically, I did a lot of family days, and they got me into work releases and an excellent job. The counselors helped me with anger management, criminal thinking errors, stuff along those lines. When I got back into the real world, it helped me get ready for society, and the pressures you’re not used to being incarcerated.” He said one of the most memorable experiences he had with the center was seeing his daughter on Christmas one year after initially not being allowed to. “I was afforded the opportunity to learn quite a bit about myself, and why I was acting and behaving the way I was,” Rogers said. “Learning came through the process of group therapy, receiving feedback from peers, and one-on-one counseling, receiving feedback from counselors who not only had been there before, but also were educated to help us understand the reasons for our criminality and substance abuse.” Deibler said the program at the center was a simulation of sorts to what it’s like to being in normal society. State legislators Randolph Bracy, Victor Torres, Mike Miller, Eric Eisnaugle and Bob Cortes also appeared, joining City of Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill and County Commissioner Bryan Nelson. All were fiercely opposed to the idea of closing the Bridges to America center.

TEACHERS UNION ASKS SUPREME COURT TO TAKE VOUCHER CASE via Florida Politics – Attorneys for the statewide teachers’ union … filed a brief asking the Florida Supreme Court to review a lower court decision involving the state’s largest private school voucher program. The Florida Education Association said the supreme court “should accept jurisdiction and review the (1st District Court of Appeal)’s decision.” The appellate court had sided with a trial court’s decision to throw out the lawsuit filed by the association and others. They argued that its method of funding private-school educations for more than 90,000 schoolchildren this year is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel said the plaintiffs don’t have standing to sue because they haven’t been harmed by the program. The panel also denied that it violates state law. The vouchers are funded by corporations, which in turn receive tax credits on money they owe to the state. But the brief … said “the decision not only undermines the law of taxpayer standing, but it effectively holds the Scholarship Program – and any other government program similarly funded by a targeted tax credit rather than direct appropriations – to be immune from challenge under … the Florida Constitution.” The state Supreme Court previously ended a different voucher program championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

COURT GRANTS FLORIDA ENVIRO GROUPS’, STATES’ REQUESTS TO FILE BRIEFS IN WATER DISPUTE via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – A U. S. Supreme Court official has granted a request by Florida environmental groups to file a brief in the state’s water lawsuit against Georgia. Gov. Scott in 2013 filed the lawsuit asking the nation’s highest court to limit Georgia’s water use from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, which he said threatened oysters in Apalachicola Bay and the seafood industry there. Florida environmental groups said, while previous interstate water disputes provided for an allocation of water based on human needs, this case “puts the need to apportion water for pressing ecological concerns front and center.” Court special master Ralph Lancaster, a Maine lawyer, granted the request to file an amicus brief by Apalachicola Riverkeeper and the Florida Wildlife Federation along with the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife. The briefs must be filed by Oct. 21. Lancaster also granted such requests by Alabama, Colorado and Georgia groups, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Farm Bureau and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. The case goes to trial Oct. 31 in Maine. Alabama, which is not a party to the case but is involved in a related federal lawsuit filed in 1990 over the operation of federal hydropower reservoirs on the Chattahoochee River, said it would advise the court on how an order could be crafted without harming Alabama’s interest. The only group that was denied leave to file a brief was the Lake Lanier Association, which includes homeowners and businesses around the federal reservoir on the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta. The request was denied because the association wanted to file its brief only after the Oct. 21 deadline.

JORGE LABARGA SOLICITS RESUMES FOR CRC APPOINTMENTS via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Labarga [is] accepting resumes of people who are interested in serving on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. As chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Labarga, 63, will have three appointments to the 37-member commission. The commission meets every 20 years to consider revising the state’s constitution. Members are appointed by the governor, the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House, and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The state’s attorney general automatically sits as a member. Resumes must be submitted by Dec. 31.

DUMBEST POLICY STORY YOU’LL READ TODAY — WHY ARE STATE REPS PAID TO NOT DRAFT LEGISLATION via Rachel Polansky of NBC 2 — Six months prior to an election, dozens of state lawmakers are not allowed to make laws. It’s all spelled out in this policy manual. None of the 120 members of the Florida House are allowed to draft bills during the “blackout period” if they are seeking re-election. In Southwest Florida right now, there are four lawmakers who cannot draft any legislation: Rep. Ben Albritton in District 56, Rep. Ray Rodrigues in District 76, Rep. Matt Caldwell in District 79, and Rep. Carlos Trujillo in District 105. “When you’re talking about a two-year term, losing the ability to plan for the future for six months can be a little frustrating,” said Rep. Caldwell. He admits it’s a tough rule to follow, but he stands behind the principle. “There’s no guarantee that you’re going to return come the general election,” Rep. Caldwell said. The Florida Senate does not have any similar restrictions.

HAPPENING TODAY – CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE COMMITTEE MEETINGS — Committees of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Directors will hold meetings beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Orlando North, 600 North Lake Destiny Drive in Maitland. The market accountability advisor committee, finance and investment committee, and depopulation committee are among the committees holding meetings. The committees are meeting ahead of Wednesday’s Board of Governor’s meeting.

HAPPENING TODAY – FLORIDA CHAIN HOSTS MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER CONFERENCE — Florida CHAIN, a statewide health advocacy organization, will host its second annual conference, Moving Forward Together: Advancing Health Care for Those Left Behind, beginning at the Harry P. Leu, Gardens, 1920 North Forest Avenue in Orlando. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a press conference to release a report looking at the health disparities in the state. Among the topics scheduled to be discussed are Medicaid expansion and the Low Income Pool; children’s’ health care and seniors’ health care, and emerging needs in the field. Speakers include Minority Leader Mark Pafford, Dr. Cara James, the director of the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and Dr. Stephen Freedman, director of health policy at the University of Florida.

HAPPENING TODAY – JACKSONVILLE LAWMAKERS LAUNCH PROGRAM TO COMBAT DRUG ABUSE — Sens. Aaron Bean and Audrey Gibson will join Reps. Paul RennerCharles McBurney, and other elected officials to unveil a new safe medication disposal kiosk at 10 a.m. at a Jacksonville Walgreens, 6006 Beach Blvd. Media interested in attending should RSVP to

HAPPENING TODAY – FWC, LEON COUNTY TO HOST “BEARWISE” EVENT — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Leon County will host a BearWise Public Education Event at 6 p.m. at the Fort Braden Community Center, 16387 Blountstown Hwy. in Tallahassee. The events are meant to education residents and businesses in bear-prone areas on ways to reduce human-bear interactions. Residents will learn preventative techniques to reduce bear attractants, keep pets and livestock safe, and properly secure garbage. They’ll also learn how to respond to an encounter with a bear. A bear resistant trash can will also be raffled off.

PERSONNEL NOTE: TONY GUZZO HEADS TO AHCA via Florida Politics – Guzzo is the new Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs at Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. Guzzo was with the state for the last 10 years. Most recently, he served as a legislative analyst for the House Health & Human Services Committee, where he worked the past six legislative sessions. Before that, he was an auditor of workers’ compensation claims for the state. His brother, Cory and father, Gary, are lobbyists with Floridian Partners.

PERSONNEL NOTE: LISA HURLEY JOINS SMITH BRYAN & MYERS via Florida Politics — Hurley, legislative director for the Florida Association of Counties (FAC), has turned in a resignation letter and is heading to Tallahassee’s Smith, Bryan & Myers influence shop. Her last day will be Oct. 21. FAC Executive Director Scott Shalley shared the news with his board of directors in a Monday morning memo. “In my 30 years of involvement with Tallahassee’s legislative process, I have never worked with anyone more impressive than Lisa Hurley,” he said. She is a “brilliant lawyer, a tireless advocate, and (most importantly) one of the most ethically grounded people in this process.” There’s a silver lining, Shalley added. Since Smith, Bryan & Myers has an outside contract to lobby for the association, Hurley will still work on the group’s issues, he said. Shalley told the board he will immediately begin a search to find the association’s next chief in-house lobbyist.


Thomas Arnold, David Browning, Jerry McDaniel, James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Ride Solution, Inc.

Greg Black, Jim DaughtonPatricia Green, Warren Husband, Aimee Diaz LyonAndy Palmer, Allison Liby-Schoonover, Metz Husband & Daughton: Barron Collier Companies; International Equestrian Group

Carlos Cruz, Cruz & Company: Polaris Pharmacy Services

Pete Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Brittany Finkbeiner, Cari Roth, Dean Mead: Orlando Lutheran Towers, Inc.

Nicole Graganella, Colodny Fass: WellCare Health Plans

Kathryn Grant: The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus

Cynthia Henderson: AECOM

Yolanda Jackson, Becker & Poliakoff: Miami Children’s Initiative

Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: Smart Pharmacy

Rachel Silverstein: Miami Waterkeeper

Josh Spagnola: Centene dba Sunshine Health

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA – On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, he talks with Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Graham who is calling on Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection to make public all of its records following a massive sinkhole spill at Mosaic’s New Wales plant in Mulberry that’s leaking radioactive waste into the state’s aquifer. Politico’s environmental reporter Bruce Ritchie chats with Gomes about the politics behind the sinkhole story while previewing some of the water battles ahead in the 2017 legislative session. Meanwhile, as Attorney General Pam Bondi tries to shake a repeat story about the campaign donation she sought from Donald Trump, her work to fight against human trafficking inspires former child slave and activist, Brigitte Perenyi who talks with Gomes about being liberated from being a “trokosi” girl.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR 2016 SAYFIE REVIEW FLORIDA LEADERS SUMMIT — The 4th annual Sayfie Review Summit is scheduled for Nov. 17 and No. 18 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes, 4040 Central Florida Parkway in Orlando. The 2016 event marks the first time the summit will be held days after a presidential election and days before new members of the Legislature and presiding officers are sworn in. The 2016 event also marks the first time the summit will have a general admission program open to Sayfie Review readers. The traditional invitation-only program will begin at noon on Nov. 17. The general admission program will begin at 5:30 p.m. that same day, with a cocktail reception for all invitees and attendees. Speakers this year will include Joe Scarborough, the former congressman and host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper. For more registration information, visit

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of our INFLUENCE 100 alumni, Monica Russo of SEIU Florida.

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Thoughts on tonight’s debate: Could Donald Trump really win this thing?

Everyone loves a great show; tonight, we are sure to get one.

In what is the most highly awaited political event in modern history, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump square off Monday evening in the first presidential debate from Long Island’s Hofstra University hosted by Lester Holt of NBC News.

However, with the bar set exceedingly high for Clinton (and low, in the case of Trump), it begs an obvious question: could Trump actually win this thing?

Many anticipate the television audience to rival that of a Super Bowl — more than 100 million people — perhaps making it one of the most-watched shows of the year, if not of all time.

And with the all-bets-are-off nature of the 2016 race, certain things could tip the balance to Trump.

 “According to the numbers, the debates have done little to change the fundamental structure of recent presidential races,” writes Dante Chinni of NBC News. Comparing pre-debate polling with final election results for every election since 1992, the debate may have made a serious difference in only a single campaign — 2000.

Although Democrat Al Gore did technically get more of the popular vote than his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, the core layout of the polling remained the same through Election Day, giving post-debate polls a 6-for-6 streak.

Of course, debates are remembered more for individual moments, rather than the effect they have on the electorate. In 1988, Michael Dukakis responded coolly to a question about the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered. Gore famously sighed during his debate with Bush, while George H.W. Bush appeared bored and was caught checking his watch during the debate with Bill Clinton in 1992.

None of these isolated incidents had any overall impact on the nature of the race, despite the high-stakes character of the debates themselves.

That said, 2016 is an election like no other — a bitter, contentious race between Clinton and Trump, two candidates widely disliked by a majority of the public. With Trump, his basic competency has been questioned; for Clinton, it is her trustworthiness and apparent lack of honesty.

So it is entirely possible tonight’s event could accomplish what no other debate has done in history.

And why shouldn’t it, particularly with the basement-bottom-level expectations set for Trump going into the debate?

“Trump can win this debate by not losing it,” writes Matt Mackowiak of the Observer. “This will require discipline, self-control, patience and calm. These are not his natural strengths.”

Trump required serious, thoughtful debate prep, something Mackowiak says he appeared to have been “wholly unwilling to commit to.” It could prove to be a fatal miscalculation for the Trump campaign, which has so far relied heavily on his status as a political outsider.

“Trump likes to call himself a counterpuncher,” Mackowiak says. “But not every jab needs to be countered. I expect Hillary to jab and uppercut constantly. Her team appears to believe the only way she can win the debate is by invalidating Trump as a legitimate choice.”

This approach does not come without risk: a constant attack could leave Clinton looking shrill, harsh and unlikable, particularly in a debate where viewers judge candidates on likability.

As we have seen before, nonverbal communications, facial expressions and emotions play a big part in how opponents are viewed — favorable or not. And since Clinton has struggled with her likability, she will need to address what many see is her biggest weakness in tonight’s performance.

No matter what happens onstage in Hempstead, New York, Trump will have the most to gain.

“Eight out of 10 times, the non-incumbent party’s candidate — that’s Trump this year — gained in the polls after the first debate,” writes Harry Enten of “That includes each of the last five times.”

Enten suggests several theories to explain this, such as incumbent presidents having four years to grow unaccustomed to direct challenge, thereby performing poorly; or that an opponent is given a level playing field with a sitting president. But in 2016, neither of those theories apply.

As for Trump, he is currently performing poorly with self-identified Republicans versus what Clinton gets with Democrats. Enten says that is what makes Trump “lower-hanging fruit” than Clinton, as more Republican voters will “come home” after seeing the two candidates in action.

Also, Enten echoes the theme that even with all the sound and fury surrounding the first presidential debate, they really don’t move the needle that much.

That said, some factors could play a role in swinging polls more than usual. The prevalence of social media in 2016, Enten says, could help cement the narrative quickly, making a good debate performance more important than ever.

Another thing is the larger-than-normal group of voters who are either undecided or considering a third-party challenge. This pool of the electorate is more likely to offer gains to either of the major parties post-debate.

“Even in 1980,” Enten says, “when Reagan was deemed to have crushed Carter in their lone debate, Carter actually gained support after their meeting. Reagan simply gained more.”

This same scenario could play out in Trump’s favor, since third-party candidate Gary Johnson did not meet the requirements for inclusion on the debate stage.

Barring an “October surprise,” a somewhat decent performance by Trump Monday night — with no major gaffe or insulting sound bite — could just be enough to move polls slightly in his favor over the next week, which (history has proved) is a good predictor of the final standings in November.

In other words, Trump has a decent chance of winning tonight.

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Personnel note: Eric Edwards moving to U.S. Sugar

Eric Edwards, the longtime Tallahassee-based legislative assistant to Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz, is joining U.S. Sugar Corporation’s in-house influence team, the company announced.

His title will be Assistant Vice President of Governmental Affairs.

“We have wanted to strengthen and expand our internal government relations operation for some time, and we have patiently searched for just the right combination of experience, personality, and potential,” said Robert Coker, Vice President of U.S. Sugar and its head lobbyist.

“We hit the trifecta with Eric Edwards,” he added. “All of us on the U.S. Sugar government relations team are very excited about having Eric on board.”

Gaetz, the term-limited Niceville Republican, said Edwards “has a better understanding of the legislative process and how things get done in Tallahassee than almost anyone I know. He has served the Senate with distinction.”

That’s not the only good news for Edwards: He also married Capital City Consulting lobbyist Jen Gaviria this past weekend.

She will be leaving the firm to relocate with him to the company’s headquarters in Clewiston, Hendry County.

“She’s a superstar, and we hate to lose her, but we wish her and Eric all the best,” firm co-founder Nick Iarossi said. He is actively recruiting to fill Gaviria’s position, he added. 

“This is an exciting new chapter in a new town, but will be equally challenging,” Gaviria wrote in an email sent to friends and clients Sunday night. “I thank the hardworking and incredibly talented members of Capital City Consulting for such an enriching experience. I am forever grateful for their friendship, and will always consider them family.”

Iarossi’s firm has built a reputation for being able to attract the very best of rising talent. It will be fascinating to see who CCC next draws to its roster.

The sugar company regularly employs dozens of lobbyists over the course of a year. As of Friday, lobbying registration records showed 23 on board, including Brian Ballard, Frank and Tracy Mayernick, and Mac Stipanovich, to name a few.  

U.S. Sugar, with over $1 billion in annual revenue, stokes envy among other agribusinesses and roils controversy among the state’s environmentalists.

It got its start in the early part of the 20th century, when businessman Charles Stewart Mott “invested millions of dollars of his own funds in a sugar cane farming operation and convinced others that the dream of growing in the rich muck soils around Lake Okeechobee was not only possible, but it could be profitable,” the company’s website says.

It now farms nearly 190,000 acres in Hendry, Glades and Palm Beach counties, creating jobs and contributing to America’s table. But it’s regularly been criticized, usually unfairly, for agricultural practices that cause runoff into the state’s “River of Grass.”

In 2013, the conglomerate got a measure passed by lawmakers and approved by Gov. Rick Scott that saved the industry millions of dollars on Everglades pollution cleanup.

U.S. Sugar’s political contributions average approximately $1.5 million per year. When you subtract dollars spent in years involving a constitutional amendment related to their industry, that average is significantly lower.

All of Florida’s major industries, including Disney, pay for the smartest and best lobbyists to help them navigate Florida’s crowded and confusing political process. Edwards, under Coker’s tutelage, will no doubt soon be on that list. 

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Sunburn for 9.26.16 – Debuting today: the latest issue of INFLUENCE Magazine

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

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


Anyone who actually lives in bustling Orlando and the surrounding communities will tell you the region is much, much more than what surrounds Cinderella’s Castle.

This fact was never more true than in the days and weeks that followed the tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub.

Elements that often unite communities — sports teams, food culture, generations of residents living in the same neighborhood — are young or nonexistent in Orlando, where nearly two-thirds of all residents were born out of state.

Such a situation has left a vacuum in Orlando that has been filled with symbols of Gay Pride, a result of the tragedy brought on by the Pulse nightclub shooting. Signs are all around Orlando; rainbow banners fly alongside the American flag at City Hall; many hip neighborhoods and suburbs like Winter Park proudly display Pride stickers and similar symbols. Lake Eola’s fountain – the heart of Orlando’s downtown – is awash nightly with gay pride colors and stores quickly sell out of T-shirts sporting “#OrlandoUnited” with rainbow hearts.

My wife and I witnessed this unity firsthand during a recent, non-Mickey visit. We were in town for a benefit performance staged by Bravo’s Andy Cohen and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Before they walked on stage, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, his shoulders burdened with the weight of the world, was given a thunderous standing ovation by the crowd.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

In this edition of INFLUENCE Magazine, veteran reporter Scott Powers examines Dyer’s pre- and post-Pulse legacy. As difficult as dealing with the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy has been, Dyer — unencumbered by term limits and presiding over a booming boom town — may have one of the best jobs in Florida politics.

If Dyer is king of Central Florida, there still remain many, many princes and princesses who wield significant, um, influence. This issue introduces you to many of them, while also exploring why the increasing number of Hispanics in Central Florida have so few identifiable power brokers.

If there is a center to Orlando politics outside of City Hall, it may be law offices of GrayRobinson, which represents many of the largest interests in the region, including the City of Orlando itself. Our cover story is about the new GrayRobinson, forged by its merger with former House Speaker Dean Cannon’s lobbying shop, Capitol Insight.

Like everything else in town, GrayRobinson seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.


… including the size of this magazine, which is now more than a year old and, in this period of declining ad revenue for print journalism, is close to ‘making it.’ Our editors and reporters are beginning to pivot to the next phase of this project, which includes more original reporting and features, especially about important policies. Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster does this with her story about “The Seminole Solution,” while Mitch Perry explains how Central Florida is ground zero for “The Politics of Disruption.”

The best read? Perhaps it’s Andy Gardiner‘s frank exit interview.

Of course, there are still pages and pages of fun features, like Rochelle Koff’s guide to adult dining at the theme parks, Fred Piccolo’s cool infographics, and our quick hits in the Political Aficionado section.

Dare I say reading this edition of INFLUENCE is like taking a tour of – oh boy – a theme park about politics.

Click here to order a copy of the print edition of INFLUENCE Magazine.

***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.***


ERIC EDWARDS WINS PLUM LOBBYING ROLE WITH U.S. SUGAR via Florida Politics – Edwards, the longtime Tallahassee-based legislative assistant to Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz, is joining U.S. Sugar Corporation’s in-house influence team …  His title will be Assistant Vice President of Governmental Affairs. “We have wanted to strengthen and expand our internal government relations operation for some time, and we have patiently searched for just the right combination of experience, personality and potential,” said Robert Coker, Vice President of U.S. Sugar and its head lobbyist. “We hit the trifecta with Eric Edwards,” he added. “All of us on the U.S. Sugar government relations team are very excited about having Eric on board.” That’s not the only good news for Edwards: He also married Capital City Consulting lobbyist Jen Gaviria this past weekend. She will be leaving the firm to relocate with him to the company’s headquarters in Clewiston.

ASHLEY ROSS TO JOIN SENATE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE via Florida Politics – Ross will become a Deputy Chief of Staff … She also will be a Senior Policy Advisor to the president for commerce and tourism, military and veterans affairs, space and domestic security, community affairs and joint legislative committees. Ross, a member of the SaintPetersBlog “30 Under 30” Class of 2013, began her career in Gov. Jeb Bush‘s Legislative Affairs Office. She later served in several legislative affairs roles in the private sector, including with The PGA Tour of America. Ross also had senior positions at the Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.


When: 9 to 10:30 p.m. without commercial breaks.

Where: Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.

Format: Six timed segments of 15 minutes each on major topics.

Moderator: Lester Holt of NBC Nightly News

HILLARY CLINTON-DONALD TRUMP DEBATE EXPECTED TO BE RARE DRAW IN A POLARIZED AGE via Michael Grynbaum of The New York Times — The uniquely uncivil presidential campaign is about to produce one of the biggest civic gatherings in decades: For 90 minutes Monday night, a polarized nation will pause to watch the first head-to-head encounter between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump … The total audience, network executives and political strategists say, could be as high as 100 million viewers — Super Bowl territory. That would surpass the 80 million who watched Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980, the record for a presidential debate, and rank among television benchmarks like the finales of MASH and Cheers.

CLINTON, TRUMP BUFF FOREIGN POLICY BONA FIDES ON DEBATE EVE via Laurie Kellman and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press – Clinton and Trump were meeting separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, giving the each candidate fresh bragging rights about their knowledge of foreign policy and readiness to lead the nation on the eve of their first presidential debate. Trump and Netanyahu discussed “at length” Israel’s use of a fence to help secure its borders, an example Trump frequently cites when he’s talking about the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico. Clinton was expected to meet with the prime minister later in the day, also in New York. The meeting was designed to put Israel on good footing with the next U.S. president. But it also served to showcase the candidates’ expertise in foreign policy in the shadow of their first debate Monday, six weeks before Election Day. Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, often says that Trump does not know enough about the world and lacks the temperament to be president. Trump has argued that he has extensive experience with foreign policy through his career as a business executive and blames Clinton for many of the nation’s stumbles in foreign policy. Meanwhile, the candidates deployed their top supporters to the Sunday shows to take early jabs at their opponents and lower expectations for a showdown expected to draw 75 million viewers — many of them disenchanted with both candidates, the least-popular presidential hopefuls in history. Facts and who will determine them during the 90-minute debate seemed to be a top concern of the campaigns’ strategists given Trump’s habit of saying things that are untrue and the public’s general distrust of Clinton.

DEBATES DON’T OFTEN CHANGE PRESIDENTIAL RACES. IS 2016 THE EXCEPTION? via Dan Balz of The Washington Post – Trump, an unguided missile, will be seeking to project a calmer demeanor and a command of the facts, enough at least to reassure voters who doubt his capacity to serve. Clinton, a studious and well-prepared debater whose expertise on many issues is deep, will be looking to avoid the weeds, offer a bigger and more affirmative vision and mostly try to prove that her rival is unfit to occupy the Oval Office.

— “What Al Gore’s first debate against George W. Bush can teach Hillary Clinton” via Patrick Healy of the New York Times

TWEET, TWEET: @NewtGingrich: Clinton is a fox who knows many things you can fact check. Trump is a hedgehog who knows one very big thing: We need change.

DEBATE COMMISSION CHIEF: CANDIDATES SHOULD FACT-CHECK EACH OTHER via Jill Disis and Brian Stelter of CNN – The Commission on Presidential Debates has some advice for debate moderators this fall: leave the fact-checking to the candidates. The Trump campaign is taking the same position. So are some former moderators, like Jim Lehrer, who has facilitated 12 presidential debates … But many others — including a wide array of journalists — want the man moderating Monday night’s debate, Lester Holt, to intervene if egregious lies are said onstage. As a result, fact-checking, normally a pretty staid subject, is now the focus of a roiling debate in political and journalistic circles. Clinton campaign aides are being outspoken about it: If moderators “close their ears to Donald Trump’s lies, it will extend an unfair bias to Donald Trump. It will be the equivalent of giving him more time to speak,” Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon said. But Janet Brown, executive director of the commission, which organizes the debates every four years, said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that “I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Britannica.” Once the fact-checking door is open, “I’m not sure, what is the big fact, and what is a little fact?” She added, “Does your source about the unemployment rate agree with my source?” Trump campaign aides have staked out a similar position. Some of them say a pro-fact-checking stance is really an anti-Trump stance.

HOW LESTER HOLT PREPPED FOR HIS FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE via Brian Stelter of CNNHolt has called on several NBC News colleagues as he prepares for Monday night. In recent days, his counselors have included NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; and the news division’s senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez. Another key member of Holt’s debate team is Sam Singal, the executive producer of Holt’s “Nightly News.” “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann have all helped as well. But familiar TV producers won’t be in his ear Monday night. He’ll only be hearing from the commission’s longtime executive producer, Marty Slutsky, who has produced all of the debates since 2000. Slutsky keeps track of time and lets moderators know when they have to wrap up the debate.

CLINTON AIDE PLAYING TRUMP IN MOCK DEBATES via Maggie Haberman and Patrick Healy of The New York Times – Philippe Reines, a longtime aide to Clinton and one of the most astute observers of her personal and political vulnerabilities, is playing Trump in her mock debate sessions … Reines, who was Clinton’s chief defender, enforcer, and gatekeeper during most of her years in the Senate and as secretary of state, is a deft practitioner of the combative, no-holds-barred politics that Trump favors. His selection as the Trump stand-in means that Clinton wants an opponent in her mock debates who knows her flaws and how to exploit them and who is fearless about getting under her skin the way that Trump might at their first debate … He is also known as one of a small handful of members of her inner circle willing to be tough and blunt with Clinton about her own missteps. Clinton, in her memoir “Hard Choices,” described Reines as “passionate, loyal and shrewd” and added, “I can always trust him to speak his mind.” Reines began playing the role of Trump soon after the party nominating conventions ended, according to a friend of his, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss an internal issue. “It’s perfect,” said Michael Feldman, a former aide to Al Gore who is also friends with Reines and was aware of Reines’ role. He said Mr. Reines had all the right qualities. “As people have been trying to guess, they’ve been identifying characteristics, all of which he has: He’s smart, he’s quick on his feet, and he knows how to, and is not afraid to try, to push her buttons,” Feldman said.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN NOW SAYS GENNIFER FLOWERS WILL NOT ATTEND THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE via Mahita Gajanan of Time Magazine –Just a day after the Trump seemingly invited her to attend, the candidate’s team said Sunday that the Republican nominee does not actually want Gennifer Flowers, the woman who allegedly had an affair with Bill Clinton, at the presidential debate … Trump Saturday threatened to bring Flowers to the debate in reaction to the Hillary Clinton campaign’s decision to invite Mark Cuban. Cuban, a billionaire reality TV star who has previously criticized Trump, will reportedly sit in the front row. Speaking on CNN Sunday morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Flowers will not attend the debate as part of the Trump campaign. “We have not invited her formally, and we do not expect her to be there as a guest of the Trump campaign,” Conway told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP HOSTS ‘FIGHT OF THE CENTURY’ DEBATE PARTY via Scott Powers for Orlando Rising – The party starts with ringside action and refreshments at 6 p.m. at The Abbey lounge in downtown Orlando, with the main event bell at 9 p.m. RSVPs are required by the end of Tuesday. The debate also is being sponsored by the Prismatic advertising and branding firm, Macbeth Studio photography and imaging, and The Abbey. “Our candidates are practicing their best combos and getting ready to go toe-to-toe ringside. We all may have different political ideologies or favorite prizefighters but this year — one thing that we can all agree on is we have never seen anything like this election cycle,” the lobbying and public relations firm declares. “So, don’t throw in the towel — this is your ticket to the gate where we can talk freely, where there will be no low blows (at least by our guests), and we can try to bet on who is going to take this round.”

— “How to spot a presidential debate game-changing moment” via Michelle Ubben of Sachs Media Group

AFTER DEBATE WITH CLINTON, TRUMP TO CAMPAIGN IN MELBOURNE ON TUESDAY via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Trump is scheduled to appear at Orlando Melbourne International Airport’s AeroMod Hangar for a 7 p.m. event, with doors opening at 4 p.m. Tickets are available from Trump’s campaign website. “Do people notice Hillary is copying my airplane rallies – she puts the plane behind her like I have been doing from the beginning,” Trump tweeted last week.

GRASSROOTS ‘FLORIDIANS AGAINST TRUMP’ AIMS TO DEFEAT TRUMP IN FLORIDA – Activist Susannah Randolph is launching Floridians Against Trump, a new grassroots advocacy campaign aimed at defeating Trump in the Sunshine State. Floridians Against Trump plans to mobilize a broad coalition of voters against Trump ahead of the November election, using social media and grassroots events to engage them … the group will also work to inform voters about Trump’s abysmal record of bankrupting businesses and laying-off workers, while raking in record profits to make himself wealthy. “Donald Trump’s vision for America is dangerous,” Randolph said. “This is a man who has gotten rich at the expense of ordinary Americans. Trump has spent his career exploiting hardworking Americans, gutting our small businesses, and bankrupting companies. America’s middle class cannot afford a Trump Takeover of the Oval Office. That’s why we’re activating a grassroots army of Floridians to stop Trump from taking over our state and our country.”

TRUMP CAMPAIGN PLANS $140 MILLION AD BUY via Julie Bykowicz and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press – The total, if executed, would include $100 million in television airtime and $40 million in digital ads … The plan represents a new approach for the billionaire businessman, who has repeatedly bragged in recent weeks about how much less he’s spent than Clinton and seemed to rely heavily on free media coverage of his large rallies. Through this week, the Trump campaign has put only about $22 million into TV and radio ads for the general election, according to Kantar Media’s political advertising tracker. Clinton has spent more than five times as much on those kinds of ads, $124 million so far. Trump’s new ad buy will include 13 states, from key battlegrounds such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, to new targets of Maine, New Mexico and Wisconsin … About $40 million of the ads will play on national TV.

TWO FLORIDA JUDGES MAKE TRUMP’S SHORTLIST FOR U.S. SUPREME COURT via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canadyand Federico Moreno were among the top 10 contenders out of 21 individuals Trump said he would consider if he became president and had to pick a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia following his death earlier this year. Canady has served as a Supreme Court justice since 2008, when he was appointed to that position by former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Canady served as Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court from 2010-2012. He has also served as a judge of the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeals and was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-2001. Canady also served as counsel for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and routinely makes up part of the conservative bloc of the Florida Supreme Court justices. He gained notoriety in the late 1990s as one of the prosecutors in President Bill Clinton’s 1999 Senate impeachment trial. Moreno serves as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida which covers the southern portion of the state. He was nominated to this position by President Goerge H.W. Bush in 1990. Before serving as a judge for the Southern District of Florida, Moreno worked as an assistant federal public defender and worked as a judge on the Dade County Court.

POLICE: NAKED TRUMP STATUE STOLEN IN MIAMI via The Associated Press – Police in South Florida say they named a “person of interest” in the theft of a naked Trump statue. Miami police said on the department’s official Twitter account that the statue of the Republican presidential nominee was taken from the Wynwood arts district … WSVN and WPLG report security guards in Wynwood told police they saw a group of men loading the statue into a pickup truck. A witness told investigators he took a picture of the truck as it left the neighborhood. Police ran the license plate and are now looking for the registered owner of the truck as a “person of interest.” It is one of the life-size naked Trump statue that artist collective INDECLINE installed around the country in August.

CLINTON CAMPAIGN FOCUSES ON FLORIDA — It’s all hands on deck in the Sunshine State for the Clinton campaign. Vice presidential hopeful Tim Kaine is scheduled to hold a rally at 12:15 p.m. at The Lakeland Center, 701 W. Lime Street in Lakeland on Monday. From there, the Virginia Democrat will head to Orlando for a roundtable with Latino faith leaders at 4 p.m. at the Iglesia El Calvario, 2500 West Oak Ridge Road in Orlando. Kaine will spend the evening in Orlando, watching the first presidential debate. The LGBT debate watch party will be held in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign. Doors open for the debate party at 6 p.m. at Church Street Station, 225 Garland Ave. in Orlando. Later this week, former President Bill Clinton will launch a “Stronger Together” bus tour throughout North Florida. The bus tour begins Friday and continues through Saturday, Oct. 1. Details of the trip weren’t immediately available, but the former president is expected to hold public events in Panama City, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, with additional stops along the way. President Clinton is expected to talk about Hillary Clinton’s plans to “build an economy that works for all, not just those at the top,” according to the campaign. Media interested in participating in the bus tour should RSVP here. Also on Friday, Hillary Clinton is scheduled to campaign in St. Lucie and Broward Counties.

CLINTON’S CHALLENGE WITH YOUNG VOTERS EASY TO FIND AT USF via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Clinton … has a problem with young voters. She has been unable to generate the excitement instilled by the man she wants to replace, President Barack Obama, or the man she defeated in the contentious Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Turning that around is vital for her campaign. The challenge was abundantly clear at the Marshall Student Center, where a lunchtime crowd did homework or socialized over plates from Papa John’s, Moes and Panda Express. A New York Times poll of Florida released this week showed young voters are considering a third-party candidate more than any other age group. Nationally a quarter of voters under age 40 indicated support for a third-party candidate. The poll revealed Clinton taking 51 percent of the vote among people age 18-29, well below the 66 percent Obama drew in 2012, which provided him with enough juice to win the state by 0.9 percent.

Clinton and Trump are headed toward another close election, which puts her youth problem on display. The campaign has campus organizers at USF and 12 other colleges across the state. It has encouraged early voting and placed ballot boxes on campus to spur vote by mail. Policy roundtables have been held, including a climate change panel in Miami and one on gender equity in Orlando. Yet enthusiasm in the candidate — and the election in general — still lags. “The apathy toward politics really gets under my skin sometimes because we have the potential to enact real change,” said Caitlin Croley, a Flagler College student who is vice president of Florida College Democrats. She has been a Clinton supporter from the start, but understands the appeal Sanders held. “Where Hillary Clinton takes a more baby steps approach, Bernie Sanders was going all the way. It was more exciting,” Croley said. She is hopeful students wake up in time and said a recent campus visit from Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan helped.

NEW CLINTON SPOT FOCUSES ON TRUMP’S COMMENTS AGAINST WOMEN via Florida Politics — The Clinton campaign has a question for voters: Is Trump the president they want for their daughters? That’s the question at the center of a new 30-second spots, called “Mirrors.” The new TV ad shows girls standing in front of the mirror as Trump’s comments about women plays in the background. The advertisement, according to the Clinton campaign, is meant to highlight Trump’s “hateful and offensive message he’s sending to girls across the country.” The ad will air in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

NRSC TAKES ANOTHER SWING AT PATRICK MURPHY’S RESUME —  The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a new ad looking at Murphy’s work history. The 30-second spot — called “Audition” — references a CBS Miami investigation that raised questions about Murphy’s resume. “Patrick Murphy feels so entitled to Florida’s Senate seat he can’t be bothered to be honest about his professional experience prior to his career in politics,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the NRSC. “Here’s the truth: Murphy is an empty suit with a rich dad and has disqualified himself from office by repeatedly lying about his accomplishments.” The NRSC has released similar ads focused on Murphy’s resume, including on earlier this month which PolitiFact deemed “mostly false.” The new NRSC spot is part of a major ad buy in the Sunshine State and will run in Tampa and Orlando markets.

ANTI-POT GROUP SPENDS $1.3M AS MEDICAL MARIJUANA BOOSTERS KEEP FUNDRAISING via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – United for Care, the group behind the constitutional amendment, called Amendment 2, raised $20,000 last week, most of it from donations $1,000 or less. No on 2, the campaign opposing the measure, raised just $1, but they’ve started using major donations to produce and buy ads. Records show that Drug Free Florida, the political committee opposing medical marijuana, spent more than $1.3 million that same week, most of it going to Jamestown Associates, an ad buying firm. Here’s the dollars in and dollars out for the campaigns thus far: United for Care: Raised $4.01 million ($32,162 since Sept. 1); spent $3.89 million ($40,474 since Sept. 1) Drug Free Florida: Raised $2.86 million ($1.03 since Sept. 1); spent $1.79 million ($1.39 million since Sept. 1). John Morgan … has funded $2.7 million of the money United for Care has spent getting Amendment 2 on the ballot, though he hasn’t donated to the committee since Jan. 5. Conservative Tampa Bay developer Mel Sembler has this year spent $1 million and promised to donate or raise up to $10 million to fund Drug Free Florida. In early September, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, dropped $1 million in campaign against Amendment 2.

CONSERVATIVE WATCHDOG GROUP FILES ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST STEPHANIE MURPHY IN CD 7 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust has filed an ethics complaint against Murphy … for failing to file her personal financial disclosure statement in time for the deadline. The group filed the complaint with the U.S. House Committee on Ethics … requesting an investigation. Murphy, of Winter Park, declared her candidacy June 22. By house rules was to have her personal financial disclosure statement submitted within 30 days, according to the complaint. She finally filed the disclosure on Sept. 12, 82 days after filing to run. She is running against 12-term incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park. “We sincerely apologize for filing the disclosure forms late, but the forms were filed and late fee paid earlier this month, and the forms are fully available to the public for review,” her campaign manager Brad Howard said. “This is not simply a technical violation,” Matthew Whitaker, FACT executive director stated in a news release. “A candidate’s timely filing of a Financial Disclosure statement allows citizens to assess any conflicts of interest the candidate may have during her campaign for office, and ensures an ethical and transparent government.”

JEFF CLEMENS WINS SD 31 AFTER WRITE-IN WITHDRAWS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Clemens will take the Senate District 31 seat after his write-in opponent left the race. Jason Swaby announced his withdraw, leaving Clemens free of general election opposition. As of this writing, 53 legislators have already secured their seats, with 20 more only facing write-in candidates in the general election.

THAD ALTMAN WINS HOUSE SEAT AFTER WRITE-IN WITHDRAWS via Caroline Glenn of Florida Today – Altman secured a seat in the House of Representatives after write-in opponent Edward Bollinger suddenly withdrew. Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott confirmed that Bollinger no longer is a candidate for House District 52, after her office received notice of his withdrawal Wednesday morning. As a result, the race will not be included on the Nov. 8 ballot for the general election. Ballots for oversees Brevard military, which already were printed and scheduled to be mailed out Friday, will have to be reprinted. “I’m happy to be elected. It’s a great feeling,” Altman said on a voicemail regarding his win. “That sense of closure is always fantastic.”

FLORIDA PRIMARIES EYED: REPRESENTATION OF FEW, OR THE MANY? via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press – It took just 14,496 votes to win his closed Democratic primary for one of Florida’s 27 congressional seats. Now Darren Soto is virtually assured of going to Capitol Hill, unlikely to face a strong Republican challenge this November in his safely Democratic district … It’s a scenario repeated regularly in Florida’s state and congressional races in districts firmly controlled by one or the other of the two major parties. Now such outcomes are prompting calls to reform Florida’s primary system so more voters have a say in who represents them. “That’s a question that comes up often,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. Her group is studying the primary system and will make recommendations next year to lawmakers on broadening the electoral process. Florida is one of only nine states with a strict closed primary system, which prevents independent and minor party voters from casting primary ballots.

Proponents say political parties should have the sole say in who they nominate, but critics say closed primaries exclude a large swath of voters, particularly as the number of independent voters grows. Until 16 years ago, Florida primaries weren’t even over until a candidate won a ballot majority. If no primary candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote, the top two met in a runoff to decide who reached the general election. Only 11 states still have some form of a runoff primary, mostly in the Deep South. Louisiana, California and Washington state have all-inclusive primaries where the top two vote earners advance to the general election, 15 states have open primaries and nine states allow independent voters to choose which primary they’ll vote in.

WHAT THE TALLAHASSEE LOCALS ARE TALKING ABOUT — JACKIE PONS TV COMMERCIAL SPARKS FIERCE BACKLASH via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – Superintendent Pons launched a TV attack ad against campaign rival Rocky Hannathat sparked immediate backlash on Facebook and Twitter and prompted some of the incumbent’s closest allies to walk away from his re-election campaign. The ad focuses on a 2013 paternity lawsuit brought but later dropped by the mother of Hanna’s teenage daughter. Both Hanna and the girl’s mother — not to mention numerous observers — blasted the commercial as unfit for a political campaign … Ron Sachs, CEO of Sachs Media Group and longtime Pons backer, announced he was withdrawing his support and would vote for Hanna instead. “This spot reflects such horrific judgment on his part,” Sachs said. “It smacks of desperation. I’m embarrassed for him and embarrassed for the community that we’ve been exposed to such a terrible piece of political propaganda. He most certainly and deservedly will lose the election over this one thing.” The commercial drew scorn from U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham … a former lawyer for the school district. Graham, a friend of Hanna’s since high school, gave $1,000 to Hanna’s campaign last year but was otherwise staying out of the race. She said … however, she could no longer maintain silence. “Attacking candidates’ families has absolutely no part in any political campaign,” she said. “Jackie owes Rocky, his family and the people of Leon County an unqualified apology.” Hanna, in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, blasted the commercial as “deplorable” … “I have a beautiful daughter and a wonderful relationship with both her and her mother,” Hanna said. “It’s shameful that Jackie Pons would attack my family and my 14-year-old daughter for his own personal political gain. Shame on him.” The 30-second TV spot says Hanna “brags he will care for our children like they’re his very own. We’re in trouble if Hanna treats our children like he did his.”

CDC: 3 MIAMI BUSINESSES EPICENTER OF FIRST U.S. ZIKA OUTBREAK via The Associated Press – The Zika outbreak in Miami’s Wynwood arts district centered on three businesses with outdoor areas shared by employees, customers and breeding mosquitoes, and the number of people infected was likely greater than reported … The outbreak – the first on the U.S. mainland – lingered for more than a month but was limited to a small geographic area, much like previous outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses in Florida. Just over two weeks after aerial spraying of pesticides began in Wynwood, no further infections with Zika were reported in the neighborhood. While health officials stressed their campaign against the mosquitoes carrying the virus included ground-based spraying and turning over stagnant water, they said the aerial spraying appeared a key in halting the infections. “Aerial spraying was a driver, if not the driver, in this progress,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a conference call with reporters. A cluster of 29 cases were linked to three businesses in a six-block area with employees who worked or took breaks outside, near standing water and abundant mosquito breeding sites, according to the report primarily written by Florida’s state epidemiologist, Anna Likos, and other state health department staff.

A NEW FRONTIER FOR FLORIDA COURTS: TRANSGENDER NAME CHANGES via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times – In Florida, as long as it’s not for nefarious purposes like avoiding a bankruptcy or hiding a criminal record, you can change your name for pretty much any reason. Pay your fee ($414 in Hillsborough County, $395 in Pinellas), submit your paperwork, show up for your court date. You don’t even need a lawyer … Often, name change requests are about restoring former names after divorces or making sure the name someone has been using matches the one on his birth certificate. But at this moment in history — when even small- town America knows Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn and the president himself has weighed in on bathrooms in schools — judges are seeing more of another kind of name change on their dockets: Transgender people who want their names to reflect not the sex to which they were born, but the one with which they identify. Because the required forms don’t ask why someone wants a new name, it’s difficult to say how many gender-based requests are sprinkled amongst the hundreds that pass through local courtrooms each year. But on both sides of Tampa Bay, judges say the numbers are up … Some local judges handle gender-based name changes at the bench or move them to the end of the docket to avoid any reaction from the audience. A petitioner isn’t required to bring documents from a doctor specifying details of transitioning — counseling, hormone therapy, surgery — though judges say they often do. For the unfamiliar, transgender issues can be uncharted territory: terms like nonbinary, pangender and — instead of Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. or a gender-neutral honorific used in Britain, Mx. (It’s unclear how wide usage could be here, though the term was added to Merriam-Webster Unabridged in April.) An August conference for Florida judges included a class on transgender matters in court. One question: How do they properly address someone standing in front of them asking for a name of a different gender? Miss or Mr.? He or she? “I don’t want to insult anyone,” says Hillsborough Circuit Judge Michael Scionti, elected to the bench in 2014.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Lawmakers, public safety advocates and rehabilitated former inmates will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. at the Bridges of America Orlando Transition Center, at 2001 Mercy Drive in Orlando. They will be protesting the closing of the center by the Florida Department of Corrections. Earlier this year, the FDOC tried to close similar centers in Broward and Bradenton and were met with public outcry. In the end they compromised, shutting down the center in Broward but allowing the residents to move to other, similar facilities elsewhere in the state. The Bradenton center, which serves female inmates, was able to stay open. In the Orlando center, there are currently 132 transitioning and community release inmates.

BIG WONKY READ — MEDICAID TRANSITION CAUSES HARDSHIP via Maggie Clark of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Crystal and Jon Ipe had five conversations with doctors about stopping life support for their son. There was the time his lungs collapsed while Crystal was changing his diaper. Born three months prematurely, Wyatt has struggled every day of his 22 months. The time when he was resuscitated more than once during an ambulance ride from Sarasota Memorial Hospital to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. The time one of his doctors said the boy was “circling the drain.” Yet the program that the Ipes expected would help continue his recovery is in turmoil. In an effort to cut costs and scale down the program for children with special health care needs, lawmakers and administrators at the Florida Department of Health have laid off hundreds of department employees and disqualified nearly 13,000 previously eligible children — about 20 percent of the program’s total enrollment barely a year ago. These children weren’t cured of their blindness, paralysis or inability to breathe on their own. Their care was outsourced to for-profit, publicly traded health insurance companies that make health care decisions with an eye toward the bottom line. The cost-conscious choices of lawmakers and lobbyists are forcing parents like Jon and Crystal to make gut-wrenching choices: whether to visit doctors they do not know or trust, to go without critical therapies and treatments or even institutionalize their children in nursing homes. As the state dismantles the program designed to protect children with complex health needs, kids like Wyatt have been tossed into the overall Medicaid system just like anyone without such complex needs. But Wyatt is not like other children. He can’t breathe on his own and he relies on a feeding tube to eat and drink. For him, a missed appointment or a lapsed prescription could mean the difference between life and death.

RENE GARCIA ACCUSES AHCA OF OVERSTEPPING ITS AUTHORITY via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. René García … sent interim AHCA Secretary Justin Senior a letter … regarding the Medicaid outpatient hospital rates. He said the rates – already in effect – are nearly $133 million lower than what the Florida Legislature authorized and included in the 2016-17 fiscal year budget. “This action usurps legislative appropriation authority,” wrote García. More than 100 hospitals had sent letters to AHCA by July 29 advising the state of their intent to challenge the rates – and the formula used to develop the rates – that were published July 8. The initial rates would have reduced outpatient reimbursement by $250 million. AHCA subsequently altered the rates, but hospitals say the reductions are about $133 million more than authorized. In addition to impacting the hospitals, the rates also impact how much the states pay Medicaid HMOs to care for the poor, elderly and the disabled. AHCA has proposed an average 7.5 percent increase in reimbursement for the Medicaid HMOs and managed care plans this year. The hospitals are expected to officially challenge the rates in the Division of Administrative Hearings next week.

JACK LATVALA: WATER QUALITY IS A BUSINESS ISSUE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Latvala said all of the state’s stakeholders need to work together to address the issues affecting Florida’s water. “It’s not just (environmentalists). It’s not just the white hats with petitions and protests,” said Latvala, a Clearwater Republican and the incoming chairman of the Senate appropriations committee. “These are business issues. If we allow those (resources) to be desecrated in any way … that’s not going to help keep people coming to Florida, whether it’s as tourists or whether it’s as residents. Everyone needs to be invested.” Latvala gave the business community and environmental experts a peek into the 2017-18 budget process during the 2016 Florida Water Forum with hosted by Associated Industries of Florida. The annual event is a chance for elected officials, the business community and other policy leaders to come together to discuss ongoing water issues. The most recent estimates from leave Florida with about $7.5 million leftover out of about $32.2 billion in available revenue in 2017-18. And while lawmakers have stressed there isn’t’ a revenue shortage, recent estimates don’t leave a lot of wiggle room for those hoping to get projects funded. But Latvala said he expects lawmakers will advocate for projects to improve Florida’s water quality. And Senate President Designate Joe Negron has already said water will be a top priority during his two-year term. But water quality issues in the Indian River Lagoon — where algae clogged the waterways and temporarily close South Florida beaches — aren’t the only concerns. He pointed to a recent sewage spill in Tampa Bay, where more than 250 million gallons of sewage flowed into the bay. “I can’t think of a time in history since I’ve been involved in the Senate that we’ve had so many crisis effecting water as we have today,” he said.

BOARD OF EDUCATION BACKS ‘AMBITIOUS’ ACADEMIC GOALS IN STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – During a nearly two-hourlong discussion … Florida Board of Education members voiced strong support for what they called “ambitious” academic goals for the state’s schools. They generally applauded the proposed strategic plan updates, which call for six to seven percentage point increases in student performance on state tests. “It’s a pretty big audacious objective,” chairwoman Marva Johnson said, after asking staff whether the goals were reachable given changes to state standards and testing. “Even at 7 percent, this is a big goal [given] how we’re achieving student achievement is more rigorous than it was.” Vice chairman John Padget suggested that the state might aim even higher for science and math test results, given the board’s desire to focus on STEM lessons. Lyons said that it’s “quite clear” when the state raises expectations and shares those with students, “They don’t ever let us down.” The board approved the plan without any discussion about eliminating subgroup goals, and instead targeting achievement gap reductions of one-third by 2019-20. Mark Halpert of the Learning Disabilities Association of Florida, who supported the separated objectives, said he was disappointed.

BALONEY, REASON REPORT: FLORIDA’S HIGHWAYS ARE A SOURCE OF PRIDE via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – I knew it the minute I read it. The Reason Foundation’s report on the state of the nation’s roads is dead wrong. Based on pavement condition, traffic congestion, deficient bridges, traffic fatality rates and spending per-mile, the nonprofit Libertarian think tank ranks Florida’s highways 32nd in the nation. Thirty-second? Ridiculous. No way on God’s green earth. Please believe this: I’m nothing, if not well-traveled. I’ve driven in 48 of the nation’s 50 states, most of them extenively. And I can tell you, every single time –after every one of those trips — it’s a joy and a relief to drive back over the Florida line, onto roads I know aren’t going to blow one of my tires, knock my wheels out of alignment or send me off on a dirt-road detour where I can spend an hour getting tossed around like a pea in a tin can. I’ve said “thank you, Florida” more than once. So, Thursday — in spite of Reason Foundation’s considerable bona fides — I read its 22nd annual highway report, as I did its 21st, with more than a little skepticism. Reason claims the state’s overall ranking has worsened, it was 31st in the previous report … listen to this: The U.S. Chamber Foundation has ranked Florida the No. 1 state in the nation for infrastructure. Is anybody surprised? A Washington Post columnist (Reid Wilson) wrote that Florida has the best roads and bridges in the country: “… One state stands out: Florida ranks near the top in nearly every measure of road transportation.” … Florida has among the lowest percentage of structurally deficient bridges nationally, which translates into fewer weight-restricted postings and a high performing transportation network. Every year, the independent Florida Transportation Commission conducts a performance and production review of the department. Last year, the commission found the department met or exceeded the objectives of 16 of the 17 primary measures for Fiscal 2014/15.

FLORIDA CHAMBER FOUNDATION, VOLUNTEER FLORIDA TO HOST #BRINGABOOK INITIATIVE DURING FUTURE OF FLORIDA FORUM — Heading to the Florida Chamber’s annual Future of Florida forum? Don’t forget to #BringABook. Volunteer Florida and the Florida Chamber Foundation are teaming up to once again host the #BringABook service initiative during the annual forum. The two organizations are asking business and elected leaders to bring a new or gently-used elementary school books to the forum. The organizations will collect books near the registration area at the Future of Florida forum on Wednesday and Thursday. The groups have chosen City Year Orlando, which deploys more than 60 AmeriCorps members to mentor and tutor students at seven Orlando schools, as the recipient. The Future of Florida Forum is scheduled for Sept. 28 and Sept. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando.

CHESTER SPELLMAN NAMED CHAIR OF AMERICA’S SERVICE COMMISSION via Florida Politics — Spellman, the CEO of Volunteer Florida, was elected as the chairman of the national, nonprofits organization during its annual membership assembly. The American Association of State Service Commissions is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that represents and promotes state service commissions across the nation. The Jacksonville native previously served as the organization’s second vice chairman and chairman of resource development. “It is an honor to be selected by my state service commission colleagues to serve as chair,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to working at the local, state and federal level to advance the impact of service commissions nationwide.”

HAPPENING TOMORROW – Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Gov. Jeb Bush, holds a $500-per-person Jacksonville fundraiser hosted by Husein and Leanna CumberMarty Fiorentino, Ambassador John Rood and Peter Rummell. Event begins noon at The River Club, 11 Independent Dr., #3500 in Jacksonville. RSVP with Ann Herberger at 305-772-4311 or

SALLY BRADSHAW OFFERS GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR BOOK LOVERS via Bob Holladay of the Tallahassee Democrat – Somewhere in every conversation about Bradshaw, the person to whom you are talking will use two words: “organized” and “driven.” They are traits which are indispensable for the two callings she has chosen for herself: politics, and now business. You have to have both of them to succeed, but even if you do they are not enough: timing is indispensable, too; so is luck; so is being able to deal with the unexpected. For more than 30 years she has been involved in the political process, but what she is trying to do in establishing the only locally owned new bookstore in the state capital of the third largest state in the nation, may be more important. Sitting and talking with her amid the dust and planking of the unfinished Midtown Reader at 1123 Thomasville Road, which will open Nov. 12, it suddenly becomes obvious that what she is doing has touches of both a political campaign and an act of faith. “One of the things you learn, when you are a novice bookseller, or anything else for that matter,” Bradshaw says, “is how little you know. The other thing you learn is that everybody has a dream, sometime in their life, of working in a bookstore, and they want to tell you about how they would do it.” She has spent a good part of the last six months traveling the country, visiting independent bookstores, finding out what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Last week she attended the Southeastern Independent Booksellers convention in Savannah; the week before that she visited Parnassus Books in Nashville, started by author Anne Patchett after Tennessee’s capital city lost its only independent bookstore. She has consulted the American Booksellers Association, and has become friends with other booksellers in the area … “I have gotten some rather consistent advice on this,” she says. “One is lower your overhead. Do not pay rent if you can help it.”

CONGRATULATIONS to Lindsey Perkins Zander and Skylar Zander on their beautiful Tallahassee wedding.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to my dear friend, Christina Johnson, who continues to amaze with all of her work, including the recent launch of Tallahassee 100. More belated wishes to Uber’s Javi CorreosoTravis Mitchell, Tara Reid and our friend Nancy Riley. Celebrating today is Brittany Davis Wise, Cynthia HendersonClay Ingram‘s better half Leslie, and Tanya Jackson.

MIAMI MARLINS ACE JOSE FERNANDEZ DIES IN BOATING ACCIDENT via Tim Reynolds and Steven Wine of The Associated Press – Fernandez escaped from Cuba by boat on his fourth try as a teenager, and when his mother fell into the Yucatan Channel during the journey, he jumped in and pulled her out. Fernandez’s heroic backstory made his death early Sunday that much more heart-wrenching. The charismatic Miami Marlins ace was killed in a boating accident at age 24. Fernandez and two other people died when their 32-foot vessel slammed into a jetty off Miami Beach, authorities said. Authorities didn’t know the time of the crash. The capsized boat was found shortly after 3 a.m. “All I can do is scream in disbelief,” said Hall of Famer Tony Perez, a Marlins executive and native of Cuba. “Jose won the love of all. I feel as if I had lost a son.” Major League Baseball released a statement saying it was “stunned and devastated” … “He was one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.” The Marlins’ game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves was canceled. The Braves, along with several other teams, quickly offered condolences.

— “Florida lawmaker, Matt Gaetz, unleashes firestorm with politicized tweet about Jose Fernandez” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

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Takeaways from Tallahassee – Not-so-open government

Florida’s tradition of open government keeps taking a licking.

First, the Governor’s Office, in a remodeling of its reception room, shrunk the size of its public area by about 75 percent.

Sure, the re-do was prompted by security concerns, but it also means we’ll never again see scenes of protesters and news media jamming the office, shouting and chanting and taking pictures of each other.

Now they’ll have to cause a ruckus in the hallway, which the Governor shares with Attorney General Pam Bondi. (We won’t conspiracy-theorize on this one…)

The remodeling also put the Office of Open Government behind a locked door accessible by employees only, though – in a spot of good news – the office will move to the Capitol’s 16th floor, where it will again be open to the public.

Then the Tallahassee Democrat reported that local residents weren’t told about a 1.6 million gallon sewage spill near their homes. It was caused when wastewater “lift stations” lost power during Hurricane Hermine.

“That’s because the city isn’t required to tell residents when it accidentally releases potentially harmful wastewater,” the paper reported. ” ‘There is no process for notifying the public,’ (said) John Buss, the city’s manager of water resources.”

Because there’s no law requiring the government to tell you when your ground water may have been just a tiny bit tainted by, you know, fecal matter? Apparently.

Meantime, worker’s compensation insurers are asking state regulators to be allowed to jack up premiums by about 20 percent, but “no one really knows exactly how they arrived at that number.”

That’s from an op-ed penned this week by Barbara Petersen, longtime head of the First Amendment Foundation, the Tallahassee-based open government watchdog.

The state’s public records and open government laws apply to meetings “of a recognized rating organization with responsibility for workers’ compensation and employer’s liability insurance rates in this state” when proposed rate hikes are being discussed, she wrote

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) – a private, state-sanctioned organization that acts for the insurers – has “denied at least one public record request,” showing “a complete lack of understanding of … Florida’s Sunshine Law” and adding “NCCI’s actions may constitute a violation of law.”

The foundation is asking the Office of Insurance Regulation to deny the increase and make NCCI start over “in full compliance with Florida’s open government laws.”

Given our past experience, don’t hold your breath.

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

But first, an update: Last week, we incorrectly stated the roles of Dr. Theresa Klebacha and Allen Brown in state Sen. Joe Negron‘s incoming administration as Senate President. They will be senior policy advisors in the areas of education and health care, respectively. We regret the error.

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

Ballots in the mail — Elections officials must send the first round of ballots to overseas and military voters this weekend. The Sept. 24 send deadline means Florida voters will begin casting ballots more than a month before Election Day. According to the Division of Elections, more than 2 million ballots had been requested as of Friday afternoon. Records show more than 880,000 Republicans have already requested a ballot, while more than 759,000 Democrats have requested ballots. Elections officials can begin mailing ballots to domestic voters on Oct. 4.

No more Best and Brightest — The Florida Board of Education backed a spending plan this week that would put an end to the state’s controversial Best and Brightest bonus program. The program rewarded teachers based on job evaluations and SAT or ACT scores. The program was supported by House leadership, and House Speaker Designate has expressed interest in ways to grow the program. The deadline to apply for the bonus is Nov. 1, and teachers continue to apply for the program.

Time for retirement — Liz Dudek, the head of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, announced this week she’s retiring at the beginning of October. Justin Senior, now the deputy secretary of the division of Medicaid, will serve as interim secretary beginning Oct. 3. “She helped champion quality health services for children in our state and worked hard on our Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding where she fought to protect patients from being price gouged at hospitals,” said Gov. Scott in a statement. “She has done an outstanding job making sure all Floridians have the opportunity to lead a healthy and safe life and I wish her the best in her retirement.” Dudek departs in the wake of the discovery of the agency’s years-long $377 million billing error, in which it systematically – and apparently unknowingly – underpaid the state’s Medicaid health maintenance organizations.

Dirty water — State and federal lawmakers this week called for an investigation into a sewage spill in St. Petersburg. Gov. Scott ordered the Florida DEP to investigate the spill, which dumped millions of gallons of partially treated sewage and wastewater into Boca Ceiga Bay and Tampa Bay; while Sen. Marco Rubio, and Reps. David Jolly and Kathy Castor asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the crisis. The spill has become a political nightmare for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who has faced criticism over the issue. “It is troubling that the City itself cannot agree on what was contained in the sewage released, and this begs the question of whether this was a factor in City officials’ decision not to tell the public about the release until five days after it occurred,” Rubio said in a letter to the EPA.

Water challenges — The business community, as well as state and local leaders, took a stab at addressing the state’s water woes during the 2016 Associated Industries of Florida Water Forum this week. Attendees got a chance to get a peek into the the 2017-18 budget process. Sen. Jack Latvala said he expects water projects will continue to be a top priority for state lawmakers in the coming year, but budget challenges could make funding projects tricky. One project that may be included during any discussions are efforts to move people off of septic systems, which experts said are a contributing factor in water quality concerns.

Add time travel to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s list of talents.

Putnam participate in the Florida National Guard’s 451st anniversary of the first muster of citizen-soldiers in the continental United States. The anniversary is often recognized as the birth of the Florida National Guard.


“After more than 450 years, the citizen-soldiers of the Florida National Guard continue to protect our freedoms at home and abroad, and they stand ready to assist our state and residents in times of need,” said Putnam.

Admiral Don Bartolomé Menéndez de Avilés, San Agustín’s first mayor, mustered the fist militia troops in the continental U.S. to defend present-day St. Augustine from a pending attack on Sept. 16, 1565.

Putnam was also presented with the Florida National Guard’s Florida Distinguished Service Medal.

Kudos, Sen. Jack Latvala!

The Clearwater Republican was given the 2016 Florida Sheriffs Association Legislative Champion Award from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. He was honored during the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch Breakfast in Clearwater.

“I am humbled to receive the Legislative Champion Award from the Florida Sheriffs Association,” said Latvala. “As members of the Florida Legislature, it is essential we enact policies which support our law enforcement officials so they have the necessary procedures to keep Floridians and visitors safe.”

Latvala was recognized for his support of the Florida Sheriffs Association’s priorities, including reforming death benefits for officers killed in the line of duty.

Courtney Heidelberg is now the public relations and communications manager for Brightway Insurance.

Heidelberg, a veteran, joins Brightway after nearly three years at On 3 Public Relations in Tallahassee. She previously spent nine years working for the state, including a stint as the communications director for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

“As we plan our growth and expansion into new states, making consumers and potential franchisees aware of our brand and the benefits we offer in expert counsel and more choice is key to our success,” said Talman Howard, president of Brightway. “Courtney brings valuable experience to Brightway, and Communications plays an important role as we work toward our vision of having 600,000 policies in force by 2020.”

Heidelberg is a member of the Florida Public Relations Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She served on the Veterans Florida Board of Directors from 2014 until 2016.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and ecstatic to be a part of a company whose mantra is to provide a win-win-win for Agency Owners, customers and employees,” said Heidelberg. “Everyone here has a can-do attitude, and the leadership provides employees and teams with the support necessary to achieve our goals.”

Heading to the Florida Chamber’s annual Future of Florida forum? Don’t forget to #BringABook.

Volunteer Florida and the Florida Chamber Foundation are teaming up to once again host the #BringABook service initiative during the annual forum. The two organizations are asking business and elected leaders to bring a new or gently-used elementary school books to the forum.

The organizations will collect books near the registration area at the Future of Florida forum on Wednesday and Thursday. The groups have chosen City Year Orlando, which deploys more than 60 AmeriCorps members to mentor and tutor students at seven Orlando schools, as the recipient.

“Volunteer Florida is proud to partner with the Florida Chamber Foundation on #BringABook at the Future of Florida Forum and build on the success of last year’s event,” said Chester Spellman, Volunteer Florida CEO, in a statement. “The #BringABook partnership is another example of the private sector and public sector working together to invest in the future of Florida’s children, and Volunteer Florida is proud to lead this effort.”

The Future of Florida Forum is scheduled for Sept. 28 and Sept. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando.

Here’s some good news for Gov. Scott: He’s not among the Top 10 least popular governors.

The bad news? He’s still not the most popular governor at the ball.

Scott has an approval rating of 49 percent, according to a recent Morning Consult report. The survey found 42 percent of respondents said disapproved of the Naples Republican.

According to Morning Consult, more than 71,900 registered voters across the country have evaluated the job performance of key lawmakers on its weekly online national polling from early May to early September. Those results were then used to determine the most recent governor approval rankings.

So who is the least popular governor in the United States? According to Morning Consult, Gov. Sam Brownback gets that distinction. The Kansas Republican had a disapproval rating of 71 percent.

The most popular governor, in case you were wondering, was Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The South Dakota Republican has a 74 percent approval rating.

smithforestryHurrah! David Smith is the Resource Manager of the Year.

Agriculture Commissioner Putnam presented Smith, who as part of the Florida Forest Service helps manage Blackwater River State Forest, with the Resource Manager of the Year award during the Florida Cabinet meeting this week.

“David Smith brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Florida Forest Service, and his passion for Florida’s natural spaces is a great benefit to our state,” said Putnam in a statement.

Smith joined the Florida Forest Service in 2006, and in 2007 he became the forestry resource administrator at the Blackwater Forestry Center. In 2009, he was named the forestry operations administrator, overseeing fire management and operations throughout the forestry center.

Floridians who helped out in the days after Hurricane Hermine got a high five from the Florida Cabinet this week.

Gov. Scott awarded two people with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award during the Florida Cabinet meeting. Margo Armistead and Jamie Cunningham were recognized for their work following the Category 1 hurricane earlier this month.

“Margo and Jamie are two examples of the many great individuals who helped provide and coordinate important resources and assistance after the storm,” said Scott in a statement. “Volunteers were at the heart of our response efforts, and we are grateful for the many hours they served to help our communities recover and get back to work and school quickly.”

Armistead was deployed to the Leon County Emergency Operations Center through the Salvation Army. She helped coordinate volunteers in the field, and made sure volunteers were working at water distribution centers, food banks and comfort stations.

Cunningham, the chief of the North Collier Fire and Rescue District in Collier County, coordinated the deployment of more than 50 Community Emergency Response Team members from six counties. Those teams helped residents with damage assessment, helped with food and water distribution, and delivered flood buckets.

The Florida Cabinet took a moment to honor Gold Star families this week.

Gov. Scott and the Cabinet issued a resolution recognizing the families and the sacrificies their children made for the country. Four families were honored.

“We can never fully express our gratitude for the selfless actions of our American heroes but we will continue to honor their service and bravery,” said Scott in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those fallen in service.”

The governor and Cabinet recognized Craig and Toni Gross, whose son Army Corporal Frank R. Gross was killed in Afghanistan on July 16, 2011; Gary King and Porsche Knight, the father and sister of Army Private First Class Brandon King, who was killed in Afghanistan on July 14, 2010; Meredith McMackin, whose son Marine Corps Corporal Julian McMackin Woodall was killed in Iraq on May 22, 2007; and Alberta Simmons, mother of Army Master Sergeant Shawn E. Simmons, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 29, 2008.

Gov. Scott also honored veterans this week, awarding more than 30 veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award during the Cabinet meeting.

“We are incredibly grateful for their courage and sacrifice in defense of our country’s freedom,” he said in a statement. “We must take every opportunity possible to thank our heroes and honor them for their service and I was proud to present these Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award today.”

The award is meant to honor Floridians who have served in the U.S. military.

Cabinet meetings aren’t just for conducting business, they’re also a chance to hand out awards.

The Governor presented AMWAT Moving Warehousing and Storage with the Governor’s Business Award. Headquartered in Tallahassee, the company specializes in residential, commercial, storage and warehousing moves. The company currently employs 30 people.

Emily Morehouse, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Cuttlesoft, was also recognized during the meeting. She was given the Young Entrepreneur Award, and was recognized for her “hard work and leadership.” Cuttlesoft is a Tallahassee-based software company that builds apps for web and mobile devices.

Gov. Scott also recognized seven educators during the meeting. He presented them with the Governor’s Shine Award, with recognizes teachers and administrators who make a significant contribution to the field of education.

And finally, Scott recognized 26 Florida first responders, presenting them with the Medal of Heroism. The first responders were recognized for their bravery and quick action following an accident involving a bus and semi-truck in Wakulla County in July.

“These individuals answered the call for help and did not hesitate to put their own lives at risk in order to help those in need,” said Scott in a statement. “While we are saddened by the loss of life caused by this tragic crash, these first responders undoubtedly saved many individuals.”

Rep. Larry Lee is calling for calm and deliberate action after a St. Lucie County grand jury decision of no indictment in the shooting death of Demarcus Semer.

Lee said his greatest concern about the April shooting was the lack of information available to the public. The secret grand jury proceedings, he said, raised legitimate questions about the shooting, the investigation that followed and the evidence presented to grand jurors.

While Lee said he wasn’t “passing judgment on anyone,” he said secret proceedings could make this worse.

“What we need is a solution to the lack of transparency. For now, I hope calm will prevail. I’m committed to working with law enforcement and community members to make sure we’ve got the best process possible to respond to these kinds of cases in the future,” he said in a statement. “We’ve got to replace the system we’ve got with one that’s more transparent.”

There’s a few more Florida spots on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced this week that six more Florida properties have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The newest additions include the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, which was developed by Walter B. Fraser in the 1930s. The park was founded on the history of 1513 landing of Don Juan Ponce de Leon and his search for the fountain of youth.

Other additions include the Marzoni House in Pensacola, an example of Queen Anne style architecture; the Sydonie Mansion in Zellwood, an example of Mediterranean Revival style, and the Ace Theatre in Miami, which was built in 1930 and is significant for the association with the social, cultural and economic development of the African-American section of Coconut Grove and Miami

“These newly listed sites stretch from Pensacola to Miami, and represent homes, entertainment venues, and commerce and tourist sites that reflect the geographic and cultural diversity of our state,” said Detzner in a statement.

Floridians have filed nearly 15,000 insurance claims since Hurricane Hermine hit the Sunshine State.

According to the Office of Insurance Regulation, 14,890 claims were filed as of Sept.16. About 36 percent of those cases have already been closed.

Hermine damage Cedar Key

Leon County reported the highest number of claims, clocking in at 2,714. The Tampa Bay area also reported a significant number of claims. There were 1,490 claims in Pinellas County, 1,156 in Pasco and 1,105 in Hillsborough. Citrus County saw 1,232 claims.

There were 11,567 residential property claims and 368 business claims.

There’s a new director in town.

The Florida Economic Development Council announced this week Beth Kirkland, the organization’s former interim executive director, has taken on the role in a permanent capacity.

Kirkland has run the day-to-day operations at the Florida Economic Development County since last year. She said she was excited to take on a permanent leadership role.

“The FEDC board and member support has been tremendous during my year as Interim Executive Director,” she said. “Florida economic, workforce, and community development professionals are truly exemplary in the work they do to prepare and promote strong business climates in their local communities. It is a privilege to formally serve the board and our membership as Executive Director.”

The organization also announced Cathy Chambers, senior vice president of strategy & business development at JAXUSA, would serve as the chairwoman of the 2016-17 FEDC Board of Directors.

“I am honored to have been selected to chair the Florida Economic Development Council and represent the dedicated group of professionals that work tirelessly to improve the economies in their cities, counties and regions throughout Florida,” she said in a statement. “The opportunity to lead FEDC comes at a critical time as we advocate on behalf of the industry to build support for economic development, increase Florida’s competitiveness and ensure that our professionals have the necessary tools and resources to attract jobs and capital investment to the state.”

Sen. Darren Soto thinks it’s time for action.

Soto called on the Department of Environmental Protection to outline steps it needs to take to stop the New Wales toxic spill. The request comes after reports that 200 million gallons of contaminated wastewater leaked into the aquifer.

“This is not the first sinkhole spill involving this company, and with its current expansion plans, it likely will not be its last,” said Soto in a statement. “We have an immediate threat to the health of our people and our environment, and plans should have been developed long ago to quickly contain it.”

Soto wants DEP Secretary Jon Steverson to provide him with current clean up action plans, including ones that would seal the leak and prevent further contamination.

State workers may have a friend in Sen. Jack Latvala.

The Clearwater Republican said his No. 1 priority as Senate appropriations chairman will be to get “some sort of pay raise for state employees.”

State workers last received a 3-percent increase in 2006, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. A few years later, in 2011, they were required to start paying 3-percent of their wages toward their pension. Employees received a small boost in 2014 to help cover those costs.

“Some of our members think state employees are worthless baggage,” said Latvala during the 2016 Florida Water Forum hosted by Associated Industries of Florida. “But I don’t know how we run it without them.”

Airshows are big business for Florida.

Gov. Scott announced this week his trip to the Farnborough International Airshow resulted in $10.5 in actual sales and $73.2 million in projected export sales. The sales are the second-highest reported since Enterprise Florida began attended the air show 20 years ago.

“It is exciting that so many Florida companies had great success at the Air Show. Florida is known as a leader in the aerospace and aviation industries and we will keep working to attract more companies to our state,” said Scott in a statement.

The air show is one of the largest aviation exhibitions in the world, and the Florida Pavilion was the the largest of the U.S. states in attendance.

In the aftermath of yet more police shootings of unarmed black men, Sen. Dwight Bullard is taking pre-emptive moves to ensure that the residents in his area are safe.

His plan will allow reluctant residents to “rotate” information intended to go to law enforcement through his office. Bullard’s office will then act as a “clearinghouse” of sorts, for use by people who are afraid that they’ll somehow be viewed as suspects when tipping off law enforcement to violence.

This also comes after incidents of violence in the Miami area, such as one case last weekend where a trio of suspects opened fire on a pool party in a drive-by shooting.

Bullard says there have been “too many high-profile shootings of unarmed people of color, and residents in my district are often understandably afraid of direct contact with law enforcement.” He’s hoping his new plan will help with that.

Three Floridians get to keep their seats on the Council for the Blind.

Gov. Scott announced this week he reappointed Howard Bell, Jesus Garcia, and Robert Kelly to the board.

Bell, a 62-year-old St. Petersburgh resident, is a senior advocate investigator with Disability Rights Florida. Garcia, 53 of Hialeah, is the manager at Logisticare LLC, which manages non-emergency transportation for state agencies, managed-care organizations and hospitals. Kelly, a 63-year-old Daytona resident, is the executive director for the Florida Lions Conklin Centers for the Blind.

All three were appointed to terms ending in 2019.

Relief could be coming.

The U.S. House passed a measure this week that is intended to give tax breaks to citrus growers who need to replaced diseased trees. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, allow citrus growers to take a full federal tax deduction, in the current tax year, to cover the cost of replanting lost or damaged citrus trees.

“Help for Florida orange farmers is a major step closer to arriving,” Buchanan, a Republican from Bradenton, said in a statement. “This bill will go a long way toward protecting the livelihoods of the 62,000 hardworking Floridians in our signature citrus industry. The story of American agriculture is one of resilience and hard work against tremendous odds. Citrus farmers are being hit hard and Congress needs to help them recover.”

The bill still needs approval from the U.S. Senate.

Florida’s highways are getting worse.

A new report by the Reason Foundation ranked Florida 32nd in the nation for overall highway performance and cost-effectiveness. The state fell two spots in the annual rankings. It was ranked 31st in the nation in the previous report.

When it comes to fatalities, Florida ranks 35th in the nation. It was 7th in the rankings of rural interstate pavement conditions, and 12th on the list of urban interstate pavement conditions.

The report found the Sunshine State was 49th in total disbursements per mile and 40th in administrative disbursements per mile.

The nation’s top-performing, most cost-effective highways are in South Carolina, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and Maine. The worst performing, least cost-effective highways are in Alaska, New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

His time as Speaker may be coming to an end, but Steve Crisafulli is still being honored for his work in the Florida Legislature.

Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican, was honored by Associated Industries of Florida this week for his dedication to water issues over the past few years. Crisafulli made water quality a top issue during his time as Speaker, and under his leadership the state passed a comprehensive water bill in 2016.


The award was presented to Crisafulli during the annual Associated Industries of Florida Water Forum this week. Crisafulli said he was honored to be recognized, and encouraged lawmakers to continue to work on the issue.

“I think we need to be thoughtful in our approach going forward,” he said.

The Moffitt Cancer Center is now a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The cancer announced this week it had received the designation from the National Cancer Institute. The announcement makes Moffitt the only National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Care Center based in Florida.

Among other things, the status recognizes robust clinical, basic and population science research; educational programs, and research focused on benefiting the community. The hospital makes a significant impact on Florida’s economy, with an economic output of nearly 2.1 billion. And with more than 5,200 employees, it’s also one of Tampa’s largest employers.

“Our single focus is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer,” said Dr. Alan List, the CEO of Moffitt, in a statement. “This year, we celebrate 30 years and in that time have grown to become the No. 6 cancer hospital in the nation and top-ranked cancer hospital in the Southeast based on U.S. News & World Report ‘Best Hospitals’ rankings. And we have made a lasting impact on cancer care through research breakthroughs in myelodyspastic syndromes, melanoma, lung and several other cancers.”

Congratulations, Sen. Geraldine Thompson!

The Orlando Democrat was given the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida 2016 Legislative Advocacy Award for her work in the Legislature. The DWCF honors members each year who actively champion its platform.

In a statement, Thompson said she was honored to receive the award, and highlighted the progress women have made over the years. However, she said in order to become a more inclusive country, “we must remain engaged and make our voices heard.”

Fay Servicing is coming to Hillsborough County.

The company announced this week it had chosen to locate its southeast regional headquarters in Florida. The Chicago-based company is a diversified mortgage service firm that employs more than 500 people across the country, including 20 in Florida.

The expansion will create 100 new jobs and invest more than $1 million in the local community.

“Florida is the perfect location for our company as it prepares for another significant expansion. The workforce here in Tampa is exceptional in terms of the skills we require, and the area provides many advantages when it comes to recruiting talented individuals,” said Ed Fay, the company’s CEO. “We are excited about expanding in Tampa and thank the state and local government for the support and warm welcome they have given us.”

Four Florida lawmakers have been honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

MADD honored Sen. David Simmons, and Reps. Scott Plakon, Robert Cortes and Katie Edwards with its 2016 Legislators of the Year award. The award is given to legislators who share MADD’s mission to eliminating drunk driving.

“MADD is proud to work with these leaders in the battle against the leading killer on our nation’s roadways,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church in a statement. “With more than 10,000 drunk driving deaths every year in America, we must continue to push for smart laws that will help us create a nation of No More Victims.”

There’s a few more Hall of Famers in Florida.

The Florida Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2016 inductees this week. The class will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during the enshrinement dinner on Nov. 15 at the TPepins Hospitality Center in Tampa.

This year’s honorees include Jon Gruden, who brought a Super Bowl Championship to Tampa Bay, and Phil Esposito, who helped lure the National Hockey League to Florida.

They’ll be joined by Johnny Damon, a two-time World Series champion; Jeremy Foley, University of Florida’s retiring athletic director, and Allison Jolly, an Olympic sailing gold medalist.

“This has to be the dream class for the Tampa Bay area and for the state of Florida,” said Florida Sports Hall of Fame President Barry Smith. “Has there ever been a group that has accomplished so much in their athletic endeavors and yet succeeded in so many ways outside of that? It would be hard to imagine.”

Charitable organizations got a boost thanks to Sen. Wilton Simpson this week.

Simpson donated more than $85,000 in unspent campaign funds to dozens of groups with programs that range from educational support for children, restoring the environment, combating disease, and housing solutions for families and veterans.


“The community I’ve called home has given my family and me countless blessings,” said Simpson. “To be able to serve in elected office, and put these financial resources to work for so many great causes is an honor.”

Simpson was re-elected without opposition in Senate District 10.

Leo Montgomery is the newest member of Florida Gulf Coast University’s Board of Trustees.

The Florida State University System Board of Governors appointed Montgomery, a Naples resident, to the FGCU Board of Trustees on Thursday.

Montgomery spent 39 years with Ernst & Young, retiring in 2003. He previously served as a board member and chair of EAU Technologies, and is currently the CEO of JL Montgomery Consulting. Montgomery received his bachelor’s degree from Harding University. He was appointed to a term ending Jan. 6, 2021.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Interested in being part of the Constitutional Revision Commission?

The Senate President will appoint nine people to the board, and Senate President Andy Gardiner wants to make senators know where to find information about how to apply for the position.

“Since the last Constitution Revision Commission met, Florida has become the third most populous state in our nation.  The individuals who serve on the new commission will be faced with understanding and balancing the complex issues facing our state. Serving on the Constitution Revision Commission requires careful, thoughtful deliberation and an extensive time commitment,” said Gardiner in a memo to members. “We hope you will share this important information with your constituents and look forward to a diverse group of appointees who respect the role and dignity of this important process.”

Information about applying can be found on the Florida Senate’s website.

It was the last call for bay scallops.

The last day to harvest bay scallops from the western end of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County to the Pasco-Hernando county line was Saturday. The area west of St. Vincent Island through Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County closed Sept. 5.

Restoration efforts are underway in St. Joseph Bay after negative impacts to the scallop population in that area during a 2015 red tide event.

Here’s this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:


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Sunburn for 9.23.16 – Are you ready for some more water?

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

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


Two years after Amendment 1 was overwhelmingly adopted by Florida voters, questions about the best way to spend billions of earmarked dollars.

Experts from across the state will likely take a crack at that question during the 2016 Florida Water Forum. The annual event, hosted by Associated Industries of Florida, resumes Friday with a panel on the 2014 water and land conservation amendment.

The panel — moderated by Rep. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican — is expected give stakeholders a chance to discuss the amendment, and the impacts it has had since it was approved by 75 percent of voters.

In 2015, Boyd was the sponsor the House legislation to implement the constitutional amendment. Critics of the legislation said it didn’t set aside enough money for land acquisition or other water projects.

Boyd will be joined by Gary Clark, the deputy secretary for land and recreation at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Greg Munson, a shareholder at Gunster and the DEP’s former deputy secretary for water policy and ecosystem restoration; Temperince Morgan, the executive director of The Nature Conservancy; and Frank Bernandino with Anfield Consulting.

The discussion on Amendment 1 comes just days after state analysts said the measure could receive more money than initially projected.

The amendment set aside one-third of the revenue from excise taxes on real estate. According to POLITICO Florida, it was expected to generate $19.1 billion over 20 years. However, state analysts recently adjusted the forecast to $22.3 billion.

Amendment 1 isn’t the only topic on the agenda Friday. Sen. Jack Latvala is scheduled to give attendees a look what’s in store when it comes to funding for local water projects.

AIF’s 2016 Florida Water Forum kicks off at 8 a.m.. at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando.

WATER QUALITY CHALLENGES FOCUS OF AIF WATER FORUM via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Experts said wastewater run-off and septic systems play a role in the algae blooms that have plagued South Florida in recent years. And while it is just part of the problem, one expert said money may be better spent focusing on septic systems instead of buying land south of Lake Okeechobee. “I don’t see that buying land south of the lake is going to have a big effect in the wet season,” said Brian Lapointe, a research professor with Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Beach Oceanographic Institute. “I think it’s very clear that every septic tank that gets connected to sewer is going to make a measurable improvement in quality.” The 2016 forum comes as state and local leaders are trying to deal with the effects from Lake Okeechobee discharges. The discharges have been blamed, at least in part, for toxic algae blooms that clogged waterways and temporarily closed South Florida beaches. But a failure to invest in moving to sewer could also be part of the problem. And when posed with the question of how they would spend $1 to improve water quality in the lagoon, buying land didn’t make the list. State lawmakers will likely tackle several of these issues during the 2017 legislative session. Gov. Rick Scott in July said he would include money in his budget to help clean up the Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River. That money, Scott said, could be used to encourage residents to switch from septic tanks. And the Indian River Lagoon is a top priority for Senate President Designate Joe Negron, who has made cleaning up the water a top priority during his presidency. Negron, a Stuart Republican, said last month he’ll push for state dollars to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee.

INDUSTRY WATER SUMMIT LOOKS FOR LAKE O SOLUTIONS OTHER THAN RESERVOIR via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – With a water quality crisis looming in South Florida, speakers at a business group’s water summit … focused on solutions other than a proposal to build a reservoir to divert harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Incoming Senate President Joe Negron has proposed building a $2.4 billion reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area. But speakers at the Associated Industries of Florida annual water summit instead focused on septic tanks and sewage treatment plants along Indian River Lagoon along with the need for improved stormwater treatment and farming practices. “What we have found is that we have thousands and thousands of wonderful, wonderful homes along that beautiful (Indian River) Lagoon,” former Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard told the conference. “And they have these septic tanks. It’s because these very wealthy local governments failed to extend sewer lines to those homes. So now we’ve got a problem on the Indian River Lagoon.” The annual water forum attracts lobbyists and consultants along with representatives of agriculture and industry groups, utilities, DEP and the state’s five water management districts. The summit provides clues about proposals that could come out in the next legislative session. “I’d like to find that out as well,” said Brewster Bevis, senior vice president with Associated Industries of Florida. “I think that’s one of the reasons we put this on,” he added, “to bring everyone into the room and discuss these issues that are pertinent to them to give everybody an opportunity to listen to some of the leading experts in their industry fields pertaining to water.”

OUR COMMUNITY, OUR RESPONSIBILITY via Walt Precourt, Senior Vice President of Mosaic’s Phosphates Business Unit – The most important thing for the community to know is that on behalf of Mosaic, I would like to express our sincere regret that the sinkhole and associated loss of water on our property have caused concerns for the community. We live, work and raise our families here too, so we take our responsibility to protect the public and the environment very seriously. The health and safety of our 4,000 employees and our local communities is paramount across all of our work at Mosaic. When we realized we had major water loss at the gypsum stack Aug. 28, we quickly notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Polk County. Using test wells surrounding our facility, we immediately increased the frequency of water quality monitoring and took steps to remove as much water as possible from the leaking process pond. On Sept. 6, water dramatically receded, exposing the sinkhole that we see today. We have been operating a recovery well to remove this water from the aquifer. We are committed to recovering this water from the aquifer, and preventing off-site impacts. To date, we have seen no such impacts. Our Mosaic team continues to work around the clock to review the situation. We continue to work closely and constructively with state environmental regulators. FDEP is being updated daily and its representatives have been on-site regularly, providing us with diligent oversight and assistance in rectifying this situation. Understandably some of our neighbors who live near the New Wales facility are concerned about water coming from their wells. We have reached out to our neighbors and are offering to pay for the cost of testing their wells, as well as provide bottled water to allay their concerns until their well tests are complete. We want our neighbors to not just be safe, but to have peace of mind.

HILLARY CLINTON: MOSAIC MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR SINKHOLE SPILL via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – The spill of 215 million gallons of contaminated water into a sinkhole at a Mosaic phosphate plant in Mulberry is hardly typical fare for a nationwide presidential campaign. But with Florida a key battleground state … Clinton has added her voice to those criticizing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Mosaic for failing to notify the public about the recent spill. “I think what happened as I understand it about Mosaic was terribly risky and posed serious threats to the aquifer and clean water,” Clinton said. “It went on for weeks without there being any kind of announcement … For goodness sake, people are entitled to clean water. People are entitled to know what is in their water and companies that profit off common resources need to be held liable when something goes wrong. So I have a very clear view about this: polluters should pay to clean up the messes that they have created.” Mosaic has indicated that it will clean up the spill and is pumping contaminated wastewater out of the aquifer. The cost to remediate the site could be as much as $20 million.

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REPORTS OF A CLINTON REBOUND HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED via Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight — Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the White House are still near an all-time low in the FiveThirtyEight forecasts, although they’re up a smidge from earlier in the week. Our polls-only forecast gives her a 59 percent chance of beating Donald Trump, while our polls-plus model shows her with a 58 percent chance. Yes, Clinton has gotten some good polls. But the trend lines are more mixed. In only three of the 16 polls has the race shifted in Clinton’s direction. It’s moved toward Trump in 10. Indeed, the average poll has moved 2.8 percentage points toward Trump. Some previous versions of these polls were taken during the height of Clinton’s post-convention bounce, so while they show her lead shrinking, she’s still out in front. Clinton still holds an advantage in the Florida surveys from Monmouth University and Saint Leo University, but she was up by much more in their previous polls, taken in mid-August. That said, there’s also solid evidence that Clinton is still in decline. The Maine People’s Resource Center survey was Clinton’s worst of any telephone poll in the state this entire cycle, and she has lost ground in North Carolina since the end of August, according to Public Policy Polling. That said, there’s also solid evidence that Clinton is still in decline. The Maine People’s Resource Center survey was Clinton’s worst of any telephone poll in the state this entire cycle, and she has lost ground in North Carolina since the end of August, according to Public Policy Polling.

POLL: CLINTON’S LEAD AMONG HISPANICS SMALLER IN FLORIDA THAN IN OTHER BATTLEGROUNDS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Florida Atlantic University found Clinton ahead of Trump by 53-34 percent. That’s a robust, 19-point margin that’s nevertheless smaller than the once Clinton holds over Trump among Latinos in Colorado (51 points), Nevada (29 points), North Carolina (38 points) and Ohio (22 points). Florida Hispanics tend to lean less Democratic because older Cuban Americans are heavily Republican. FAU polled using a mix of online surveys and robocalls — a methodology considered less reliable than live calls to voters on cellphones and land lines. The university’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative polled 400 registered Hispanic voters from Sept. 15-19, and the poll has an error margin of 4.9 percentage points.

DONALD TRUMP’S BIZARRE AD STRATEGY via Steven Sheppard of POLITICO – It’s less than 50 days until the election and the GOP nominee’s television advertisements have all but vanished …  Trump’s ads last ran nearly a week ago in four battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Since then, the GOP presidential nominee has ceded the airwaves to Hillary Clinton — and is only poised to launch a limited, less-targeted ad campaign in the days before next week’s debate. While his campaign announced a new ad … it’s only going to run on national cable news stations and during two Sunday morning public-affairs shows, according to data from The Tracking Firm, a company that monitors media buys. And even with that seemingly modest buy – the full extent of which wasn’t clear Wednesday night – Clinton is still outspending him this week many times over. “It’s unprecedented for a major-party nominee in this century to have such an on-again, off-again TV buy,” said Elizabeth Wilner, a former TV-network political director who, until last month, monitored political advertising for Kantar Media/CMAG.

MUST READ — DONALD TRUMP, FLORIDA MAN via Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida is key to the image Donald Trump is peddling to the world. It’s home to the most potent symbol of his wealth and accumulation, his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago. It’s the site of one of the first golf courses he ever built. It’s studded with the sort of glitzy condo buildings and beachfront high rises he wants his name on. But for every totem here that showcases his power and savvy, there’s also an episode that reveals his limitations. There was the time he almost went bust developing a pair of condo towers in West Palm Beach. His bizarre, decades-long feud with the Palm Beach International Airport. The allegations from at least half a dozen people that he has run Mar-a-Lago and other private clubs like a pyramid scheme. His direct role in off-the-books lobbying incidents that saw one of his consultants admonished by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. A review of Trump’s dealings in Florida over the past 30 years reveals a much more complicated picture than the one he presented to Floridians on his way to winning the state’s primary in March — a victory that all but guaranteed him the Republican nomination. It shows he didn’t always get the best end of every deal. That his thin skin sometimes led him to do things that were against his best interests. And that flashes of weird attitudes toward women, minorities and the disabled have put off people who worked with him. The review also turned up more than one account of unexpected kindness and over-the-top generosity on the part of a man everybody still is trying to figure out.

A few more highlights from LaForgia’s story —

TRUMP PRETENDED HE DIDN’T INVITE GOSSIP COLUMNIST TO MAR-A-LAGO PARTY: In April 2008, Jose Lambiet — then the gossip columnist at the Palm Beach Post — got a phone call from Trump. He said he was throwing a birthday party for Maya Angelou at his Palm Beach mansion. “He said, ‘Hey, Oprah and all these people are going to be at Mar-a-Lago. I’m going to leave your name at the door. Just come in and don’t tell anybody who you are, and write a story about it,’” Lambiet told the Tampa Bay Times. When he got there, Lambiet, who is skinny, bald, 6 feet tall and speaks with a Belgian accent, was the only white guy in the room. As time passed, people started getting suspicious. Finally, after an hour or two, Trump walked up to the gossip columnist and, in a low voice, asked, “Hey, how long have you been here?” Satisfied with the answer, he called in a much louder tone for a nearby security guard: “Kick this guy out for me.” “He didn’t want them to know he had let me in to write a story on it,” said Lambiet, now publisher of the online scandal sheet The story ran the next day under the headline “Oprah throws Mar-a-Lago bash for Maya.” … Trump’s campaign denied he allowed Lambiet in on the sly.

TRUMP’S 30-YEAR FEUD WITH PALM BEACH AIRPORT: Put simply, Trump — who former airport officials say used to fly in and out of Palm Beach on the noisiest plane on the airfield, and who once had his 727 impounded for failure to pay a noise fee — has by all accounts an almost irrational hatred of airplane noise. And because Mar-a-Lago sits directly in the path of planes taking off from Palm Beach International Airport, airplane noise is something he hears all the time. It drives him crazy, former employees said. One recalled how Trump would fly into a rage when, during a charity event or a party being held in a tent on the Mar-a-Lago grounds, a plane would fly overhead. It didn’t matter if it was 11 p.m., the employee said, “he would have a staff member go and try to raise the director of airports, Bruce Pelly, out of bed to stop the planes.” Pelly, who wouldn’t comment for this story, has figured prominently in the four lawsuits Trump has filed against Palm Beach County since 1995. Trump and the county struck a deal on the first lawsuit in 1996. …The second suit was dismissed voluntarily. The third lingered on the docket until Trump’s lawyer on that case died. He’s still pressing a fourth suit in hopes of forcing the airport to stop flying planes over Mar-a-Lago.



DAYS UNTIL: First presidential debate – 3; First day domestic vote-by-mail ballots can be sent – 10; first day of early voting – 35; Election Day – 45; first Legislative Organization Session – 59; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 83; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 164.

“VOTE BY MAIL” BALLOT REQUESTS CLOSING IN ON 2 MILLION via Florida Politics — The tally, as of Thursday, is 1,832,276, according to the state’s Division of Elections. That includes ballots mailed by Florida elections supervisors to service members and others outside the country. Registered Republicans lead Democrats by 790,831 to 684,410, a gap of 106,421. Other party voters are at 45,022 and no-party-affiliated voters are at 312,013. So far, 28 ballots have been reported returned as voted: 16 from Democrats, nine from Republicans, and three from no-party-affiliated voters. Lawmakers recently changed the name of such ballots to “vote-by-mail” ballots from the traditional “absentee” ballots.

BLAISE INGOGLIA TALKS WINNING HISPANIC VOTE, I-4 CORRIDOR IN LAST MONTH OF ELECTION via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – The difficulty of the I-4 Corridor is the lucrative but expensive and competitive media market. Purchasing airtime for advertising there is expensive, and Ingoglia said good fundraising opportunity is what they’ll have to focus on to win the corridor. On the Hispanic vote, Ingoglia said the big push would be toward convincing Hispanic voters, especially new citizens who have immigrated from other countries, that the Republican Party is the one that offers genuine economic opportunity — unlike the Democrats, who he said only provide the “appearance” of economic opportunity. The key will be drawing a contrast between the U.S. and the countries recent Floridian immigrants have fled from, such as Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. “It’s important to communicate the message of economic opportunity,” Ingoglia said. “That will be our focal point in both English and Spanish. Many immigrants have come to the United States and to Florida for certain reasons. Puerto Rico is now riddled with debt. Cuba, they have no freedom there, due to the oppressive government in Cuba, In Venezuela, they have very similar problems. They’re leaving those countries because the United States represents opportunities they did not have.” Ingoglia accused the Democrats of trying to push the country in a direction “that more resembles the country [immigrants] fled from,” citing the bailouts of the banks in 2008 as well as the adoption of Obamacare.

PATRICK MURPHY, MARCO RUBIO AT IMPASSE OVER MORE U.S. SENATE DEBATES via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Murphy and Rubio have so far committed to only two events together: a debate Oct. 17 in Orlando and another in Davie Oct. 26. Both campaigns say publicly that they’re open to potential compromise, but the odds of that being anything more than political posturing are slim. Neither Rubio nor Murphy is giving an inch, but each continues to accuse the other of ducking ample chances to debate. Rubio has accepted at least eight invitations to debate Murphy. He added two this week: one from Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace and another from the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and WJXT Channel 4. Neither of those events have confirmed dates — a detail that would require negotiations with Murphy’s campaign, which hasn’t come to the table. It’s unlikely Murphy would accept the Fox News debate, though, because the cable news channel caters to a conservative audience. Meanwhile, Murphy is holding steadfast to his commitment of three debates and one candidate forum … Rubio seems equally unwilling to hash out details over one of those debates and the forum, citing concerns of bias in Murphy’s favor. “[Rubio’s] ask for six debates was clearly disingenuous since he is now afraid to even do four,” Murphy spokesman Joshua Karp said. “Marco Rubio is only out for himself, using a political strategy to serve his campaign instead of the voters.” Yet Murphy is employing campaign strategy over debates, too. Karp said … Murphy hasn’t “made any other announcements or decisions regarding debates,” but the Jupiter congressman’s campaign quietly has.

AFSCME, AFT SOLIDARITY UNVEIL NEW TV SPOT AIMED AT MARCO RUBIO — AFSCME PEOPLE and AFT Solidarity are launching new TV spots that target Sen. Rubio over what it says are his positions on Social Security, Medicare, and school funding. The 30-second spots, called “Priorities,” says the Miami Republicans priorities “sure aren’t ours.” “Marco Rubio is more concerned with his chances to run for president in 2020 than to tackle the issues that Floridians care about as proven by his dismal record when he actually does show up for work,” said Shirin Bidel-Niyat, AFSCME’s Assistant Director of Political Action. “This ad reminds voters of something they want so badly to forget – Marco Rubio is only out for Marco Rubio, not for their families and their communities.” The ad will begin airing Friday in Tampa and Orlando.

DEMOCRAT RANDY PERKINS RELEASES 2 NEW ADS IN CD 18 RACE – The first, titled “Bootstraps,” shows Perkins with his first pair of work boots sharing that his story of achieving the American Dream through hard work and opportunity is unfortunately no longer possible for far too many Americans. “I’m running for Congress because I believe everyone should have the same opportunities I had 30 years ago,” says Perkins in the ad. “I’m so tired of hearing politicians say ‘if you work hard you can achieve the American Dream’ – it’s Congress who’s not working hard enough. We need folks in Washington who are willing to work with everyone, no matter what side of the aisle they are on, to give everyone the opportunity to make their own success.” The second spot, titled “More”, exposes Tea Party extremist Brian Mast’s plan to cut Social Security and privatize Medicare. “Florida’s 18th Congressional District has one of the largest senior citizen populations in the country. This makes Brian Mast’s radically out of touch ideas about Social Security and Medicare even more disturbing,” says Perkins campaign spokesman Sam Miller.

TIM CANOVA CREATES NEW POLITICAL ACTION GROUP via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The group, called “Progress For All,” will duplicate Canova’s congressional campaign in being limited to small donations and will reject contributions from any corporate-funded political action committees. “Progress For All will remain entirely transparent and committed to our small-donor, grassroots fundraising model, and will support progressive causes and candidates at the national, state and local levels,” he says. The first candidate he’s calling on his supporters to financially support is Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor and Democrat who is in a tight race to represent New York’s 19th Congressional District in November. Before entering politics, Teachout oversaw the Sunlight Foundation, a group focused on government transparency and campaign finance reform. In 2014, she made a surprising challenge in the Democratic primary for governor against incumbent Andrew Cuomo. “While Zephyr fell short in her first race, she inspired me and many others to step up and run for office,” Canova says. But he wants the people to decide whether Teachout deserve the support, so he’s calling them to go to Progress For All’s website and vote on whether or not to back her. Canova hasn’t endorsed Debbie Wasserman Schultz in her general election – not that she needs it as she is the overwhelming favorite to win in the strongly Democratic-oriented district.

GABBY GIFFORDS, MARK KELLY, TO KICK OFF ANTI-GUN TOUR IN ORLANDO via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The tour is sponsored by their gun reform political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, and also sponsored by Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign. Their bus tour is set to run 40 days and visit cities in 13 states. In addition to Giffords, a Democrat, and Kelly, the Orlando rally will feature Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is a Democrat running for the Florida House of Representatives in the Orlando-based House District 49 … Smith said the gun violence at issue involves far more than Pulse. “Well, you know, Orlando has become a city plagued with gun violence,” he said. “It is not just because of the recent tragedy at Pulse, but because gun violence is on the rise in our beautiful city. Folks are stepping up and combining their voices demanding change.”

JOE REDNER SAYS HE’S COMMITTED TO WINNING SENATE DISTRICT 18 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The perennial candidate has usually ran as a Democrat in numerous local and state elections over the years, but he’s running as an independent this year, and insists he’s the best candidate to win the seat that’s also being contested by Republican Dana Young and Democrat Bob Buesing … Redner has spent over $60,000 in the race, with nearly half of that going to billboards promoting his candidacy and mailers. Now he’s stepping that up, with a recent ad buy that will result in the airing of his first television commercial of his campaign which will begin airing next week … Although there has been speculation that he could ultimately bow down and get out of the race, Redner said that is not at all where he’s at right now. “I believe I am the best person to get the job done to protect our environment and to get guns out of our colleges,” he said. “I just think I’m the best person for the job and that’s what’s going to keep me in the race.” Redner says he is personally offended by Young’s voting record in the House, particularly when it comes to the environment. “She voted for fracking, though now she’s saying she didn’t,” he said, going over his bill of particulars against the Tampa Republican.

DAN RAULERSON SUED OVER WITE-OUT ON CAMPAIGN FORM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Democrat Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa this week alleged that Raulerson should be disqualified for the House District 58 race because someone used “correction fluid,” such as Wite-Out, on his paperwork, his suit said. He’s suing Raulerson, a two-term Plant City Republican, and Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer, Secretary of State Ken Detzner in his role as the state’s chief elections officer, and Kristi Reid Bronson, records bureau chief for the Division of Elections. The case was filed in Leon County Circuit Civil court in Tallahassee. Figueroa says in his complaint that Raulerson’s notary “improperly completed” his paperwork. The woman works for Raulerson’s accounting business, the complaint says.

FLORIDA CHAMBER ENDORSES IN 79 LEGISLATIVE RACES via Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce has thrown its support behind 79 candidates ahead of the general election. “We believe these candidates will put Florida’s long-term future ahead of short-term fixes and will help ensure our state remains competitive,” said Marian Johnson, senior vice president of political operations for the Florida Chamber. “We are proud to support these candidates that we believe will help create jobs and economic opportunity in our state.” The Florida Chamber backed 88 candidates ahead of the Aug. 30 primary, and saw victories in 76 of those races. The endorsements this cycle include Keith Perry in Senate District 8, Dean Asher in Senate District 13, Peter Vivaldi in Senate District 15, and Dana Young in Senate District 18. General election endorsements in the Florida House include Frank White in House District 2, Jayer Williamson in House District 3, Randy Fine in House District 53, Ben Diamond in House District 68, and David Rivera in House District 118.


Ben Diamond, running for Florida House District 68, has received the endorsement of Equality Florida.

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RICK SCOTT SIDELINED CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA DURING GOP SENATE RACE, SCHEDULES SHOW via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Something unusual happened to Florida Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera this month: Gov. Scott started giving him things to do again. None of it was heavy lifting. But the change to Lopez-Cantera’s public schedule was immediate and striking: The calendar hit September, and the Miami-based lieutenant was hitting the road, touring businesses, visiting schools and attending meetings after a summer of political exile. For three months, Lopez-Cantera had hardly been visible in matters of state — while Scott had one of his busiest seasons in office. The Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando. The Zika virus outbreak in Miami. The Hurricane Hermine aftermath in Tallahassee. Scott moved from crisis to crisis, seizing the chance to appear on camera as a hands-on chief executive. Lopez-Cantera played little part. He could have served as a Spanish-speaking surrogate to the families of the Orlando victims, many of whom were Hispanic. He could have been a constant state presence in his hometown of Miami as Zika cases piled up. Instead, his calendar usually listed him as having “no scheduled events” … “Carlos hasn’t had anything to do, other than show up at a photo op,” said his predecessor, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. “Which is a discredit to him, because the people elected a governor and a lieutenant governor to work on their behalf.”

SCOTT DIRECTS $25M TOWARD ZIKA VACCINE RESEARCH via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Department of Health will dole out the money through a competitive grant for speeding up the development of a Zika vaccine and “innovative, cost-effective” methods to test for the virus … To date, there have been 874 Florida cases of the virus, which is linked to birth defects, according to the Florida Department of Health. While most of those cases are connected to travel abroad, 92 have been linked to local infections spreading, most notably in Miami Beach and Wynwood, though additional locally-spread cases were found in Pinellas, Broward and Palm Beach counties. As governor, Scott can allocate funds in emergencies without the Legislature’s approval. In February, he declared a public health emergency to address the burgeoning threat Zika posed. In July, Scott expanded the emergency declaration to authorize $26.2 million in spending for mosquito control, testing pregnant women and preventing Zika’s spread. Last week, he announced another $10 million for that cause.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend JetSmarter’s ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. at JetSmarter, on the 19th floor of 500 E. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

BOARD OF GOVERNORS APPROVES BUDGET REQUESTS, UNIVERSITY PROGRAMS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The board approved a legislative budget request of $4.9 billion, a 4.2 percent increase over the 2017-18 beginning base budget. The increase includes incremental growth for campus safety and mental health initiatives as well as university performance. Part of the SUS budget request included $136 million in funding to support efforts to increase research. The board also approved a general office budget request of $8 million that accounted for 63 positions and remained unchanged from the 2016-17 total. Money from the Public Education Capital Outlay fund that pays for public education buildings construction and maintenance was not included in the request and will be discussed at an Oct. 18 workshop in Tampa and could be approved by the full board in early 2017. The University of Central Florida’s five-year plan for the Emerging Preeminent State Research Universities Program was approved in addition to Florida State University and University of Florida plans to reach Top 25 and Top 10 national rankings, respectively. The board also heard from UCF and University of South Florida regarding their 2+2 programs aimed to give students a path from the Florida College System to the SUS and to encourage timely degree completion.

STATE HIGHER EDUCATION OFFICIALS CONSIDER UNIVERSITIES’ PLANS TO BOOST NATIONAL RANKINGS via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – The State University System’s board of governors strategic planning committee signed off on plans from the University of Florida and Florida State University to increase their U.S. News and World Report national rankings. The State University System’s board of governors strategic planning committee signed off on plans from the University of Florida and Florida State University to increase their national rankings according to U.S. News and World Report. UF and FSU have received tens of millions in state “preeminence” funding in recent years with the goals of breaking into the top 10 and top 25 public universities in the country, respectively. FSU celebrated its jump up five spots to No. 38 when the publication announced its 2017 rankings last week. But UF, at No. 14, didn’t budge from recent years. (Administrators point out the flagship is already in the top 10 of several other publications’ rankings, although not U.S. News and World Reports’ list.) UF leaders said they need $115 million in recurring state appropriations in order to achieve its goal. That includes $73 million for additional faculty members, $30 million to increase faculty salaries, $10 million to increase graduate assistant stipends and $2 million for recruiting high achieving students. FSU administrators estimated a $70 million recurring state price tag to break into the top 25.

J. LEO MONTGOMERY APPOINTED TO FGCU BOARD — The Florida State University System Board of Governors appointed Montgomery, a Naples resident, to the Florida Gulf Coast University Board of Trustees on Thursday. Montgomery spent 39 years with Ernst & Young, retiring in 2003. He previously served as a board member and chair of EAU Technologies, and is currently the CEO of JL Montgomery Consulting. Montgomery received his bachelor’s degree from Harding University. He was appointed to a term ending Jan. 6, 2021. His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

DBPR TO APPEAL STATE COURT RULING ON CARD GAMES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation took the first step in appealing a judge’s ruling about lucrative “designated player” card games at pari-mutuel facilities across the state, according to The News Service of Florida. The department, which regulates gambling facilities, filed a notice in the 1st District Court of Appeal indicating it will challenge an Aug. 26 ruling by Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early … Early said the state was wrong to do away with a rule governing the “designated player” games without replacing the regulations. The industry maintains that eliminating the rule, adopted in 2014, would put an end to the games. Regulators proposed doing away with the rule late last year, insisting that the way the games are being conducted — and not the games themselves — violates a state gambling law. The way designated-player games have been conducted and regulated at pari-mutuel facilities also has become a key issue in a separate federal court battle between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida about a gambling agreement known as a “compact.”

REPLICAS OF ANTIQUE GUNS DON’T BREAK FELONS-IN-POSSESSION LAW, COURT SAYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The court ruled 5-2 that Christopher D. Weeks’ “conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” should be reversed and his sentence of three years’ probation vacated. Notably, the majority opinion found the court’s progressive and conservative wings in agreement. Weeks had been arrested in 2012 while hunting in the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area in Santa Rosa County … Weeks later argued he “was allowed to hunt with an antique replica muzzleloader rifle employing a percussion cap ignition system” because “the Legislature exempted ‘antique firearm’ from the statutory prohibition.” The exemption to the second-degree felony was grounded in the belief that “a firearm with such a firing system cannot load ammunition as easily as modern firearms.” As the trial judge put it, “(A)fter listening to all that testimony about that gun, (Weeks) would be in a world of hurt if a bear was charging after him to reload,” according to the opinion.

PERSONNEL NOTE: TOM LEE WELCOMES TWO NEW LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANTS via Florida Politics – State Sen. Lee, a Brandon Republican, took on two new aides. Charlie Anderson will serve as Lee’s District Legislative Assistant in his Hillsborough County district office. Prior to joining Lee’s staff, Anderson was the Legislative Assistant to Sen. Nancy Detert for eight years. Anderson has over 32 years of experience serving public officials locally and in Tallahassee. Sarah Schwirian joins Lee as Legislative Assistant. Schwirian was born and raised in Palm Harbor. She joins Lee from the private sector, most recently working for a communications and marketing firm, where she managed public relations, public affairs, event organization and social media engagement activities.

THE CRAFT BEER BUSINESS IS GOOD — TAMPA BEER MOGUL BUYS WATERFRONT HOME FOR $6.4 MILLION via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Joey Redner and his wife, Jennifer, closed on the Beach Park home at 823 South Bayside Drive … It appears that the Redners paid cash for the home. A mortgage for the transaction, if one were secured, has not yet been filed. The seller was Thomas Mooser, according to the deed. Mooser paid $650,000 for the house in 1995, according to property records. The home was built in 1925 but was extensively renovated before the sale, said Toni Everett … the listing agent for the home. The list price was $6.5 million. The 6,400-square-foot home includes five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, according to property records. In March, Redner sold Cigar City to Colorado-based Oskar Blues for an undisclosed sum, though some industry estimates pegged the deal at $60 million. The sales price is just shy of the most expensive home sold in Tampa this year. The 13,692-square-foot home at 4814 Culbreath Isles Road sold last week for $6.625 million.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Congressman-to-be Al Lawson, former Rep. Joe Gibbons, John Fox, the great Nicole Haggerty, and Hillsborough Co. Property Appraiser and former state Rep. Bob Henriquez.

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