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Sunburn for 6.21.16 – A cautionary tale for Qualifying Week

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

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

QUALIFYING WEEK CONTINUES — 2002 FEDEX AIRPLANE CRASH A REMINDER WHY CANDIDATES SHOULD QUALIFY EARLY

It’s unlikely candidates will need a Lear jet to qualify for office this year.

Still, filing early does avoid the bad luck of unforeseen circumstances.

Qualifying began noon Monday and lasts till noon Friday for an array of offices up for election in November. They include U.S. Senator and Representative, state Senator and Representative, county offices and special districts.

In 2002, however, the crash of a FedEx cargo jet filled with qualifying papers and checks left many candidates in a last-minute tizzy.

The crash was on July 26, the last day for qualifying.

No one was killed, but the “captain, first officer and flight engineer were seriously injured, and the airplane was destroyed by impact and resulting fire,” according to a National Transportation Safety Board press release.

The crash even led then-Gov. Jeb Bush to declare “a state of emergency … due to a minor disaster,” his executive order said. He extended the qualifying period to the next day at 5 p.m., but not till several hours after the crash.

Meantime, some candidates were going to extreme lengths to get in under the wire, according to a Sun-Sentinel story:

Rep. Carlos Lacasa, a Miami Republican running for the state Senate, had sent a $43.20 check via FedEx because the state had earlier miscalculated his qualifying fee.

Upon learning of the crash, he hired a Lear jet to get the money to the elections office before the noon deadline.

“It’s the most expensive $43.20 ever,” said Lacasa, whose hands shook as he arrived at the state elections division nine minutes before noon. “But if I hadn’t done it, it would have cost us the election.”

And the Orlando Sentinel reported that the campaign for Mary Barley, a Democratic candidate running for agriculture commissioner, “charter(ed) a twin-engine airplane from the Miami area to get her paperwork to town.”

“Only in Florida,” then-state Sen. Jim King of Jacksonville told the then-St. Petersburg Times.

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DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying closes – 3; State candidate qualifying closes – 3; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 35; Early voting begins in primaries – 61; Primary elections – 70; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 41; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 112; Absentees sent in General Election – 105; Early voting begins in General Election — 130; General Election – 140.

FRESH Q-POLL OUT THIS MORNING — HILLARY CLINTON 47%, DONALD TRUMP 39% Full results here

Going inside the numbers: Trump’s support among men in Florida drops from 49 – 36 percent May 10 to 45 – 41 percent today. Clinton’s lead among women grows from 48 – 35 percent in May to 52 – 34 percent today. Republicans back Trump 82 – 8 percent, while Clinton leads 93 – 2 among Democrats and 44 – 35 percent among independent voters. White voters back Trump 51 – 36 percent, as non-white voters go to Clinton 72 – 15 percent.

Florida voters give Clinton and Trump negative favorability ratings, 39 – 53 percent for her and 33 – 61 percent for him.

Comparing the candidates’ character traits, voters say:

•  60 – 31 percent that Clinton is better prepared to be president;

•  47 – 36 percent that she has higher moral standards;

•  53 – 33 percent that Clinton is more intelligent;

•  43 percent say Trump is more honest and trustworthy and 40 percent trust Clinton;

•  44 percent that Clinton is more inspiring, with 42 percent for Trump;

•  46 percent that Trump is a stronger leader, with 45 percent for Clinton.

Trump would be better creating jobs, Florida voters say 49 – 41 percent. Clinton would be better on immigration, voters say 50 – 43 percent. Trump would be more effective against ISIS, voters say 48 – 42 percent, but Clinton would be better responding to an international crisis, voters say 54 – 39 percent.

Florida voters say 48 – 40 percent they would rather invite Trump to their backyard barbecue, but say 49 – 40 percent they would rather turn to Clinton during a personal crisis.

TRUMP FIRES COREY LEWANDOWSKI, HIS CAMPAIGN MANAGER via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times – With the Republican National Convention looming next month, Trump is facing the task of broadening his team to include people with previous presidential campaign experience. Trump also has been turning his attention to fundraising for the first time, a task that Lewandowski had assumed oversight of and one that has gone slowly for the campaign. The campaign has aired no ads in the general election and there has been no “super PAC” that received a clear public blessing from Trump and his top advisers. The loss of Lewandowski was intended as part of a larger shift toward the final sprint of the race … Two people briefed on the move, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Lewandowski was fired. Lewandowski was often at odds with Trump’s chief strategist, Paul Manafort, who was brought on in March when the candidate seemed poised for a lengthy fight over delegates. Lewandowski was said to have resisted certain moves that would have increased the number of staff members, at times blocking Manafort from making hires or later undoing them.

TRUMP ADVISER RESIGNS AFTER MOCKING COREY LEWANDOWSKI ON TWITTER via Kristen Holmes of CNN – Michael Caputo, a Trump adviser and head of the communications for Trump’s caucus operations team, tweeted “Ding Dong the witch is dead” following the news that Lewandowski had been fired. “I regret sending out a tweet today alluding to the firing of Corey Lewandowski. In hindsight, that was too exuberant a reaction to this personnel move. I know this is a distraction from the kind of campaign you want to run, so I’m resigning my position as director of communications for caucus operations at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Let’s make this immediate,” Caputo wrote in a letter to campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Rick Gates … Caputo also said he deeply respects Trump as well as Manafort and Gates.

RICK SCOTT BLASTS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FOR EDITING ISIS FROM ORLANDO MASSACRE TRANSCRIPT via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – An unusually impassioned Scott ripped U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Obama administration for releasing a heavily edited transcript of Orlando killer Omar Mateen‘s 911 calls that scrubs references to the Islamic State. “It seems like this is just another example of not focusing on the evil here. This is evil. It’s ISIS. It’s radical Islam … At some point we’re going to get a president that’s going to say I care about destroying ISIS,” Scott seethed in an interview … According to the transcript, Mateen told a 911 dispatcher, in Arabic: “Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God,” then added: “I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.” Scott said Lynch “should release everything that doesn’t impact the investigation … We’ve got to get serious about destroying ISIS. Destroy ISIS, stop radical Islam…This appears to be, ‘I don’t want to focus,’ you know, ‘the president doesn’t want to focus on ISIS.’”

SCOTT: “DISAPPOINTING” OBAMA ADMIN REJECTED EMERGENCY DECLARATION FOLLOWING ORLANDO SHOOTING via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Scott cited $5 million he requested which the state of Florida will miss out on, which Scott said would have funded “emergency response efforts, law enforcement response, emergency medical care, counseling services and other social services to assist victims.” “It is incredibly disappointing that the Obama administration denied our request for an Emergency Declaration. Last week, a terrorist killed 49 people, and wounded many others, which was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history,” said Scott, long a states’ rights advocate and staunch opponent of Obama. “It is unthinkable that President Obama does not define this as an emergency. We are committing every state resource possible to help the victims and the community heal and we expect the same from the federal government.”

A DIVIDED SENATE ANSWERS ORLANDO WITH GRIDLOCK ON GUN CURBS via Alan Fram and Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press – In largely party-line votes, rejected were one proposal from each side to keep extremists from acquiring guns and another shoring up the government’s existing system of required background checks for many firearms purchases … each measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to progress. Democrats called the GOP proposals unacceptably weak while Republicans said the Democratic plans were overly restrictive. The stalemate underscored the pressure on each party to give little ground on the emotional gun issue going into November’s presidential and congressional elections. It also highlighted the potency of the National Rifle Association, which urged its huge and fiercely loyal membership to lobby senators to oppose the Democratic bills. “Republicans say, ‘Hey look, we tried,'” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “And all the time, their cheerleaders, the bosses at the NRA, are cheering them.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said the Orlando shootings — in which the FBI says the American-born gunman swore allegiance to a leader of the Islamic State group — show the best way to prevent attacks by extremists is to defeat such groups overseas. “Look, no one wants terrorists to be able to buy guns or explosives,” McConnell said. He suggested that Democrats were using the day’s votes “as an opportunity to push a partisan agenda or craft the next 30-second campaign ad,” while Republicans wanted “real solutions.”

BARACK OBAMA CUTS AD FOR PATRICK MURPHY via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Narrated by Obama, the 30-second spot is scheduled to run for several weeks in urban markets on programs like the Glory of Gospel on Star 94.5 in Orlando, and the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, which is broadcast on stations like 99Jamz in Miami. About 28 percent of the active registered voters in Florida’s Democratic Party are African-American — a bloc of voters that could substantially help Murphy in his upcoming Aug. 30 primary against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and Pam Keith, an unknown political newcomer who is African-American. African-Americans cast 25 percent of the ballots in the March 15 Democratic presidential primary. “This is critical for Patrick Murphy,” said U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Murphy supporter and member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “The voice of Obama still carries great currency in the African-American community. And beyond that, with Democratic voters as a whole.” With none of the candidates well-known to voters, Obama’s endorsement gives a seal of approval coveted by any Democrat running statewide.

POTENTIAL MARCO RUBIO RUN COMES WITH RISKS, CHALLENGES via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – As Florida waits for Rubio’s decision, political experts and campaign officials are preparing for a major change in what had been a wild scramble for the Republican nomination and a competitive general election. “My fingers are crossed,” said Orange County Republican Chair Lew Oliver. “He’s our best shot at holding onto his Senate seat.” There are still challenges, however. Former Rubio campaign regional chair Ben Newman of Orlando said Rubio would need to differentiate himself from the party’s presumptive presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Rubio would do better than Trump among groups such as women, Hispanics and conservatives, Newman said. But a loss in either the primary or general election, said University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus, would be devastating to Rubio’s career – which many supporters hope will include another run for president. “If he loses in his home state two times in the same year?” MacManus said. “A lot of people say that would be the end of him politically.”

PPP: RUBIO REMAINS UNPOPULAR; GUN ISSUES COULD CAUSE TROUBLE IN SENATE BID Full results here

PPP’s newest Florida poll provides a prism into the difficulty gun issues could cause Senate Republicans this fall- especially Marco Rubio if he decides to run for reelection to his seat.

Rubio remains very unpopular in Florida- only 30% of voters approve of him to 49% who disapprove of the job he’s doing. Among critical independent voters he’s even more unpopular than he is with the electorate as a whole- a 26/55 spread. Rubio trails Patrick Murphy 42/41 in a hypothetical match up. That one point deficit is the same as we found when we polled Florida last week. That previous survey also found that among voters familiar with both Rubio and Murphy, Murphy held a 57/35 advantage. Alan Grayson trails Rubio 42/40 this week, on the heels of trailing Rubio 43/38 on the previous survey.

The reason for polling Florida again though is to find out where voters in the state are on gun control measures in the wake of Sunday’s shooting in Orlando, and how those issues might affect Rubio in a possible Senate bid this fall:

-93% of voters in the state support requiring a criminal background check to buy a firearm, compared to only 5% opposed to that. That concept has support from 97% of independents, 92% of Republicans, and 91% of Democrats.

-83% of voters in the state support barring those on the Terror Watch List from buying a gun, to only 11% who are opposed to making that change in the law. 85% of Democrats, 84% of independents, and 80% of Republicans are in favor of that.

Given the strong bipartisan mandate for these measures, we also asked how opposing them might impact a potential Senate candidate. 74% of voters say they’re less likely to vote for a Senate candidate opposed to barring people on the Terror Watch List from buying a firearm, to only 14% who say they’d be more likely to vote for such a candidate. And 64% are less likely to vote for a candidate opposed to requiring criminal background checks to buy a gun, to only 21% who say they’d be more likely to vote for such a candidate. Those numbers show what dicey issues these could be for Republicans in key Senate races.

At the end of the poll we did a simple informed horse race, after telling respondents that Rubio has opposed barring people on the Terror Watch List from buying firearms and that he’s opposed requiring criminal background checks for those wanting to buy firearms. Murphy’s initial 42/41 lead over Rubio ballooned all the way up to 47/32 based on his position on those gun issues. Those numbers are a pretty strong indicator that this year might be different when it comes to gun issues and the election if Congress once again fails to act.

RUBIO DOMINATES FLORIDA SENATE RACE IN NEW POLL via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – … with 52 percent of likely Republican voters backing him … No other candidate comes anywhere close to Rubio’s level of support in the St. Leo University poll. In second place is U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, with 4.6 percent support … Carlos Beruff and U.S. Rep. David Jolly are tied for third in the poll at 4 percent. Jolly dropped out of the race Friday to run for re-election to his House seat. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is at 2.9 percent in the poll, while businessman Todd Wilcox is at 2.3 percent. “These results clearly show that Marco Rubio starts in a strong position in his expected bid to win the GOP nomination,” said St. Leo political science professor Frank Orlando.

BEHIND RUBIO’S SENATE DECISION, HOPES FOR ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL RUN via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Rubio’s decision is also a story about self-interest … He wants to run for president again, as early as 2020, and being in office has clear advantages over the “private citizen” he vowed to become. Rubio’s ambition is one of the immediate challenges he’ll face if he goes forward with the plan. Would-be rival Carlos Beruff asked the million-dollar question: “The most important question for Marco Rubio to think about today as he decides whether to run for re-election: Are you willing to look the voters of Florida in the eye and commit to serving out an entire 6-year term in the U.S. Senate? Do you commit to not running for President in 2020? Do you pledge to truly serve the people of Florida by showing up to work and not missing votes or committee hearings? … If Rubio runs and refuses to make this pledge, the voters of Florida have a simple choice: do you want Carlos Beruff, who will bring his real-world experience to the problems facing our country or do you want Marco Rubio, a career politician who will simply use the Senate as a launching pad for his future political ambitions?” Beruff and others have begun to compare Rubio to his 2010 nemesis Charlie Crist.

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HOUSE GOP TO DAVID JOLLY: WE’RE NOT SURE WE WANT YOU BACK via Alex Roarty of Roll Call – House Republicans aren’t ready to welcome back Jolly … [who announced] he would forgo his Florida Senate campaign and run for re-election, saying that he had “unfinished business” in the House. But instead of cheering Jolly’s decision, some fellow Republicans are instead making plain that they’re not eager to help their colleague return to the House. They’re frustrated with Jolly’s perceived lack of cooperation with fellow House Republicans and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which they believe dragged Jolly into his current House seat during his 2014 special election victory. And they’re also skeptical that Jolly, who pledged during his Senate campaign not to directly raise money, can win a tough race against the presumptive Democratic nominee … Charlie Crist. “You would think there would be a little bit of appreciation that would be shown,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who was deputy chairman of the NRCC from 2012-14. “As far as I know, from what I’ve heard, there hasn’t been with the NRCC. So it makes people wonder, are we really going to jump into this thing again?”

CHARLIE CRIST CONFIDENT OF VICTORY OVER JOLLY via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “We have better turnouts typically,” [Crist] said of Democrats and presidential election years. “Things went well for us in the district even in the gubernatorial election with a lot of money spent against us. I feel good about things.” Crist did not offer specific criticisms of Jolly … “I think generally speaking Congress has been pretty dysfunctional. We need leaders that can get things done and can work with others,” Crist said in an interview … “Congress while he’s been there has not been that place, and that’s unfortunate … Listen, I’m not here to name call, certainly not on someone’s announcement day. He did that to us, but that’s not my style … It’s just Day One and we’ll take it from here.”

JOE GARCIA FORGOES TV ADS, FOR NOW, IN MIAMI CONGRESSIONAL RACE via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – The Democrat, who is running for his old 26th District seat in South Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys, is focused on saving funds for a potential general election matchup with Republican Carlos Curbelo. The 26th District race promises to be one of the most expensive in the country, and Garcia appears to be saving resources instead of spending on his primary campaign with Annette Taddeo. The district was redrawn before this year’s election and is seen as a prime pickup target for House Democrats. Taddeo trails in the polls and must build her name recognition with voters before the Aug. 30 primary. She has endorsements from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List and the AFL-CIO. “If Washington knew how to win elections we would have a Congress that’s Democratic,” Garcia said in response to the DCCC’s endorsement of Taddeo. “While it’s very nice to be running for Congress for a year and a half, it’s not my polls that say I’m winning.” Garcia pointed out his long-term friendship between himself and Taddeo, stating that he attended fundraisers at Taddeo’s house and that they have endorsed each other in previous elections before this year’s primary.

PRIMARY BATTLES FOR SOME FLORIDA SENATE SEATS ALREADY OVER $1 MILLION via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Tribune – The five Republicans in the battle to replace State Sen. Nancy Detert … have combined to amass more than $1.2 million in their battle to represent a district that includes all of Sarasota County plus a portion of Charlotte County. The financial edge, according to the latest campaign finance reports released earlier this month, so far goes to former state Rep. Doug Holder … who has raised $232,000 in his main campaign account, but also socked away $248,000 in a political action committee he controls … State Rep. Greg Steube …  amassed $283,000 in his main campaign account and $130,000 in a political action committee poised to help his effort … Nora Patterson is next with almost $180,000 raised in her campaign account, while state Rep. Ray Pilon has $122,000. Sarasota businessman Rick Levine raised just over $3,000. Two other races are Republican contests. In District 28 … state Reps Matt Hudson and Kathleen Passidomo have combined to raised more than $1.5 million. In Brevard County, in District 17, state Reps Ritch Workmanand Debbie Mayfield and Republican activist Michael Thomas have also surpassed $1.1 million. On the Democratic side, the only primary with more than $1 million is in Senate District 34 in Broward County. Gary FarmerJim Waldman and Gwendolen Clarke-Reed have combined to raise just over $1 million.

MR. SMITH WANTS TO GO BACK TO TALLAHASSEE — AND HE’S NOT ALONE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The qualifying period for federal, state and county candidates opened in Florida with nearly two dozen former legislators looking for a return trip to Tallahassee. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. In fact, the state needs more leaders with historical perspective and knowledge of the same issues that lawmakers face year after year. One familiar face: Rod Smith, a senator from 2000 to 2006 who left to run for governor before he was termed out and was Alex Sink’s running mate in the 2010 race for governor. Smith, a lawyer and former prosecutor, will face Republican Rep. Keith Perry of Gainesville in the redrawn Senate District 8 … Smith, 66, wants to go back to Tallahassee to find bipartisan solutions to problems. He says the obsession with raising money is “insane,” but he and Perry, their PACs and parties may spend millions for a job that pays less than $30,000 a year. “Each side has got to create a crisis all the time to raise more money,” Smith says.

MY TAKE: ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER POSITION ON GUNS FOR DARREN SOTO via Florida Politics – At first blush, Soto joining other Orlando-area lawmakers in calling for a Special Session to implement new restrictions on firearms purchases make perfect sense. After all, he’s a young Democrat from an urban Central Florida district who occasionally makes liberal noises when it comes to LGBT rights, women’s access to health care, and other relatively safe social issues. So it stands to reason that in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre … Soto would take off the gloves and stand up for common-sense gun control measures like those proffered by the Democratic federal lawmakers Soto wishes to join. Just one thing, though: Soto’s record on guns is about as conservative as a Democrat can get away with, and even to the right of many moderate Republicans … only last year, Soto was singled out for praise by National Rifle Association past president and lion of the Tallahassee gun lobby Marion Hammer for voting in favor of strengthening the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law … Given his predilection for supporting other conservative causes, like charter school expansion, Soto often postures as standing with, Soto’s pro-gun stance shouldn’t surprise anyone. But to stage a sudden about-face on the issue to capitalize on a tragedy? That’s too much opportunism to countenance even from a slippery pol like Soto.

PINELLAS OFFICIALS ENDORSE DARRYL ROUSON FOR ARTHENIA JOYNER’S STATE SENATE SEAT via Caitlin Johnson of the Tampa Bay Times – Rouson is one of three candidates — all with experience in the Florida House of Representatives — seeking the recently redrawn district that no longer includes Manatee County, but instead added more parts of Pinellas. Rouson’s campaign released a list of political endorsements including the following: Pinellas County Commissioners Ken WelchJanet Long and Charlie Justice; Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, Councilwoman Yolanda Roman and Councilman Michael Fridovich; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and all eight city council members. “I’m honored to be endorsed by these great public servants here in Pinellas County,” Rouson said in a statement.  “I’m working to be the Senator of District 19 so that I can represent all residents in Pinellas and Hillsborough and bring common sense solutions to our community.”

BEST EMAIL via Sen. Jeff Clemens about his new video ad – “Let’s face it… this might be the best thing you’re going to see on the Internet today. Not only does this commercial feature multiple pictures of me, your (presumptive) favorite State Senator, but it also features a long list of names of big shots who want me to be re-elected. NEVER BEFORE has there been an endorsement list so proudly displayed next to my photo. NEVER BEFORE has there been a more visually pleasing assortment of blue shirts!”

DWIGHT BULLARD SAYS HE PLANS TO STAY IN SENATE DISTRICT 40 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – … despite speculation he might mount a run in Senate District 38. In a statement, Bullard said he is committed to the South Dade community, and couldn’t think of a “more rewarding area to have the privilege of continuing to serve … I’ve gone to elementary school in this District, graduated high school in this District, and I continue to work in this District. The people of District 40 have a clear choice in August and November as to who they choose to represent District 40.” Speculation Bullard may switch districts popped up this week, as some thought Andrew Korge, who is running in Senate District 39, was considering switching to Senate District 40. If that were to happen, Korge and Bullard would be locked into a three-way primary with Ana Rivas Logan.

BEV KILMER RESIDENCY COULD BECOME AN ISSUE via Tom McLaughlin of NWFDailyNews.com – Republican Brad Drake, the incumbent, contends that his primary opponent, Bev Kilmer, hasn’t lived in Florida for two consecutive years, as is required to seek a seat in the Florida House of Representatives. He said there are documents to back up his claim, as well as Kilmer’s voting record. “Ms. Kilmer insists she was a resident of the state of Florida. In November 2014, however, she voted in Texas,” he said. “If one is a resident of the state of Florida and votes in Texas, most states interpret that as voter fraud. Texas statute says clearly you have to be a resident of the state to vote in their elections.” Kilmer doesn’t deny voting in Texas, but insists she’s a Florida resident with homesteaded property and qualified to take on Drake. She said his fear of facing a legitimate contender has led to mudslinging. “This started as a whisper campaign. Now he’s telling people they’re throwing their vote away if they vote for me in the primary because they would not let me take office,” Kilmer said. “He thinks if he can get me disqualified he can walk into office. “This is the first time he’s had to work by campaigning.”

NPA CHALLENGER FILES AGAINST JENNIFER SULLIVAN IN HD 31 via Florida Politics – Apopka resident Robert Rightmyer filed for the seat and is currently the only candidate running against Sullivan, who entered the House without any Election Day opposition two years ago. Rightmyer is an alumnus of the University of Illinois and the University of Miami, where he earned a law degree in 1999. The civil litigator currently runs his own solo law firm, The Rightmyer Law Firm, and formerly was a partner at the mega-firm Cole, Scott & Kissane and a senior counselor at Foley & Lardner.

FIFTH DEMOCRAT ENTERS HD 45 RACE, VOWS ‘NEW APPROACH’ via Florida Politics – William Jusme, who works as a Realtor, joins Kamia BrownKelvin CobarisGregory Jackson and Peter Pham in the primary for the majority-minority district. On his campaign website, the 48-year-old Navy veteran said he is “the candidate with new approach” and that he is “ready to serve this great nation again … I am a man with a vision and a plan to help change our community,” he said. “I believe when we all have the opportunity to do well, society will not only benefit in the present, but the future will be brighter for our children and the community as a whole.” On his list of legislative priorities are advocating for veterans, increased education funding, raising the minimum wage and immigration reform.

CARY PIGMAN UNOPPOSED IN HD 55 PRIMARY AFTER CHALLENGER DROPS OUT via Florida Politics – Former Okeechobee City Council member Devin Maxwell filed to run for HD 55 back in November, just a few months after he was arrested for DUI and leaving the scene of a single-car accident. The University of Georgia alumnus didn’t post a single contribution or expenditure throughout his six-month campaign, and likely entered the race in anticipation of a senate run by Pigman. Maxwell’s exit leaves the second-term representative as the only Republican running for the seat, which covers all of Glades, Highlands and Okeechobee, as well as part of St. Lucie counties.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: State Rep. Kathleen Peters is holding a fundraiser for her re-election effort in House District 69. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Green Bench Brewing Company, 1133 Baum Ave. N. in St. Petersburg.

OUR TAKE: DEMOCRATS’ PROBLEMS OUSTING MANNY DIAZ IN HD 103 ABOUT TO GET WORSE via Florida Politics – They just can’t seem to get rid of Republican Rep. Manny Diaz. Why? Partly because Diaz is so well vetted and well loved by the community he serves. And then there’s the flawed Democratic opposition. And state GOP insiders say it’s about to get even worse — institutional and local donor money will continue to come in at the same or great rates, sources say. Some Democrats, meanwhile, are reportedly feeling shaky about putting more money down for a seat they’re unsure they can keep in the D column in 2018. And that’s not all. FloridaPolitics began hearing this week [Coral Gables attorney Ivette GonzalezPetkovich … may soon face charges of ethics violations over a contribution to the Hillary Clinton campaign she made using campaign contributions. Combine these headaches with the pledged support of Speaker-to-be Rep. Jose Oliva, and you’ve got the makings of yet another South Florida district where the Republicans — “Donald Trump effect” or no — will continue to keep the GOP flag flying.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: State Rep. Jeanette Nunez hosts a fundraiser in her re-election bid for House District 119. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at Sushi Sake, 2600 NW. 87th Ave. in Doral.

— “Democrat Frank Reddick endorses Republican Shawn Harrison in HD 63 race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Manual Sykes announces he’ll enter crowded HD 70 field” via Charlie Frago and Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

NOTES FROM QUALIFYING WEEK

— “2002 FedEx airplane crash good reason to qualify early” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

— “It’s a ‘Rocky’ start as Florida candidates climb aboard the ballot” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Off and running — election season officially begins, with opening of qualifying” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

— “Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race” via Kristen Clark and Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald

— “NPA candidate joins race for Tampa’s SD 18” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

— “Barry Holloway drops out of HD 11 race, backs Cord Byrd” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Democrat Antonio J. Diaz withdraws from HD 112 race” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

— “Fifth Republican files for HD 118” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

— “Jeannette Nunez draws a challenger in HD 119” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

— “Port Commissioner’s mom files against her (again!) as write-in candidate” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

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

MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE TOP CHOICE TO REPLACE CONFEDERATE ARMY GENERAL STATUE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Department of State, which includes the Great Floridians Program, released the list of public recommendations … Bethune, an educator and civil-rights activist, lived 1875-1955. She received 1,233 votes, nearly 800 more than the No. 2 pick, James Weldon Johnson. He was a writer-activist and the first black admitted to the Florida Bar. In all, 129 Floridians received votes to be honored with a new statue in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. State lawmakers will make the final decision. The results will be considered by a special committee of the Great Floridians Program, which will select three finalists to pass along to the Legislature. The panel meets 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 22, at the R.A. Gray Building in Tallahassee.

JOE NEGRON TO TALK HIGHER EDUCATION via  Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – the Florida university system Board of Governors begins three days of meetings with a presentation from incoming Senate President Joe Negron, which will include information from his tour of each university this spring. Strategic Planning Committee meets at 12:30 p.m., Negron will speak at 1 p.m. meeting is at the University of Central Florida Fairwinds Alumni Center, 12676 Gemini Blvd. North and Orlando.

LAWMAKERS TO ADDRESS NATURAL GAS CONVENTION: Public Service Commission Chair Julie Brown, state Sen. Aaron Bean, state Reps. Bruce AntoneKatie EdwardsLake Rayand Debbie Mayfield are scheduled to address the Florida Natural Gas Association convention beginning 9 a.m., with a legislative briefing at 4 p.m. at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, 39 Beach Lagoon Road on Amelia Island.

FEDERAL APPEALS COURT CONSIDERS ‘DOCS & GLOCKS’ via The Associated Press – The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta today will reconsider a Florida law restricting what doctors can ask patients about guns. The court had tossed out earlier decisions by its own divided three-judge panels. It will now take a fresh look at the so-called “Docs and Glocks” law, including whether it violates constitutional free-speech rights. The law, signed in 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott, prohibits doctors from asking patients about gun ownership or recording such information unless it is medically necessary. Doctors and their supporters say asking about guns is a safety issue and could save lives.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OFFICIAL CHARGED WITH TAKING BRIBE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics –An alleged $500 bribe has exposed a Florida Department of Health official to up to 20 years in federal prison. Federal prosecutors in South Florida last week charged Anthony Johnson, an environmental supervisor based in Fort Lauderdale, in a corruption case involving sewer and water permits. Court records show two builders putting up a home in Southwest Ranches, a rural but affluent area of Broward County, had planned to install a septic system. They went to Johnson last June, who told them he would expedite the permits, “but you have to give me some money,” the charging document said. He asked for $500 in addition to permitting fees. “The Florida Department of Health was responsible for the permitting and inspection for all on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems, commonly referred to as septic tank systems,” according to the document. The money changed hands in an elevator at the Department of Health’s office, it added, during “which defendant Johnson placed (it) in his pocket.”

FLORIDA POLY ONE MORE STEP CLOSER TO ACCREDITATION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The school … was granted official “candidacy” status to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACSCOC. It’s the “regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states,” according to its website. Accreditation is important, among other reasons, because it lends credibility to the institution and determines whether credits are transferable to other schools. Moreover, employers may decline to interview job candidates whose degrees are from unaccredited institutions. Florida Poly’s candidacy means “the university has demonstrated … its compliance with core requirements as well as certain comprehensive and federal standards” …  The next step is completing and turning in a compliance certification.

GAMBLING ADVOCATES SEEK ORAL ARGUMENT AGAINST AMENDMENT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Marc Dunbar, a lawyer-lobbyist who represents dog and horse tracks, filed a request for oral argument … He filed on behalf of “Floridians for Clarity in Gaming Control.” Dunbar’s brief describes it as “an unincorporated association of individuals and business sharing concerns regarding the proposed constitutional amendment,” ranging from “registered voters in Seminole County, Florida to arcade operators, members of Native American tribes, casino and lottery vendors and pari-mutuel permit holders.” Miami attorney Dan Gelber filed his own request earlier this month on behalf of Voters In Charge, the committee behind the amendment. The Voter Control of Gambling amendment would give Floridians more control over the expansion of gambling in the state.

SCOTT BATTERSON BRIBERY CONVICTION UPHELD ON APPEAL via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals upheld the trial court conviction without comment.Batterson was convicted in a 2014 scandal in which he was seen as the linchpin of a pay-to-play deal at the expressway authority. The state had argued that Batterson tried to cut a deal with a contractor in exchange for the contractor hiring friends of his. On Oct. 17, 2014, Batterson was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison by Orange County Judge Jennifer Davis. He has been out on bail since. Batterson had made it clear to the contractor, according to the state’s case, that he and a newly appointed member of the authority’s board, Marco Pena, with help from lobbyist and former Florida House Speaker-designee Chris Dorworth, would be able to gain control of the board and steer a $5 million contract to the contractor. The appeals court upheld the conviction by a 2-1 vote, with Judges Wendy Berger and Thomas Sawaya voting to affirm, and Judge Richard Orfinger dissenting.

AS ZIKA LOOMS, U.S. HEALTH OFFICIALS WORRY ABOUT THE NEIGHBORS via Normaan Merchant and Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press – Spraying for the type of mosquito that carries Zika is not always effective, and they can breed in pools of standing water as small as a Styrofoam cup. That means vacant lots or messy yards may need to be cleaned up, whether the owner of the mess wants it cleaned or not. Experts believe the vast majority of neighbors will comply. But not all. For months now, the federal government has been urging local health officials to review local nuisance ordinances and plot how to handle property owners who are combative or can’t be found. Zika has been sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean in recent months, and the fear is that it will get worse there and arrive in the U.S. with the onset of mosquito season this summer. Zika causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. But it can cause fetal deaths and severe birth defects in the children of women infected during pregnancy. If someone is diagnosed with Zika and health officials determine that they were infected by a local mosquito, officials will draw a circle around their house with a radius of about 150 yards. That’s roughly half a block in many cities. An Aedes aegypti mosquito doesn’t travel farther than that during its typical three-week life span. Next, health officials or mosquito control workers will visit the properties within that circle and look for standing water where mosquitoes may be breeding, including Styrofoam cups, flower pots and old tires. They will work with the property owner to remove them, or treat them with chemicals that kill mosquito larvae. Some people may not want such an intrusion.

EXPERIMENTAL ZIKA VACCINE TO BEGIN HUMAN TESTING via Matthew Perrone of The Associated Press – An experimental vaccine for the Zika virus is due to begin human testing in coming weeks … Inovio Pharmaceuticals … received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to begin early-stage safety tests of its DNA-based vaccine against the mosquito-borne virus. That puts the company ahead of researchers at the National Institutes of Health, who have said they expect to begin testing their own DNA-based Zika vaccine by early fall. Inovio’s vaccine is intended to prime the immune system to fight Zika by introducing genetically-engineered material that mimics the virus. Inovio reports that animals tested with the vaccine developed antibodies and immune-system cells that attack Zika. The NIH is working to develop a Zika vaccine by swapping out the genetic material from its experimental West Nile virus vaccine.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 victims dead and another 53 injured, the deadliest shooting in recent U.S. history, Gov. Scott dodges the gun control debate by focussing policy talks on ISIS and saying the Second Amendment didn’t kill anyone. On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The RotundaMaura Jane Farrelly, an associate professor of American studies at Brandeis University explains why the often used defense and whole purpose of the Second Amendment is moot. Gomes also takes a closer look at the face-off between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Attorney General Pam Bondi. Christian Ulvert, one of the plaintiffs in the fight to overturn Florida’s gay marriage-ban, tells Gomes what he thinks Bondi should’ve said when Cooper questioned her history of fighting against the LGBT community as she was trying to lend a voice to the victims. Are you tired of apologizing for being an American? Gomes talks with a self-described loud, arrogant, and sometimes troublesome American who supports Donald Trump and has ideas on how to reform the political process in Washington, D.C.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Brady BenfordChristopher HansenWilliam Turbeville, Ballard Partners: Healthcare Distribution Alliance; Oracle America

Michael CorcoranJeff Johnston, Micbael CantensAmanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: CGI Technologies & Solutions

Charles Dudley, Floridian Partners: Sunrise Sports and Entertainment

William Rubin, The Rubin Group: American Civil Liberties Union of Florida; Apprenda; PC Public Affairs

PERSONNEL NOTE: FIORENTINO GROUP HIRES TALLAHASSEE VETERAN ALLISON CARTER – The Fiorentino Group (TFG) announced Carter has joined as Principal in its Tallahassee office. Carter brings more than 15 years of legislative and state government experience … Most recently, she served as the Chief Process Adviser to the Florida Speaker of the House. Previously, Carter worked for Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater as Director of Program Management, where she was responsible for assessing and recommending programmatic improvements. “Allison’s deep knowledge of the legislative process and her many contacts in the legislative and executive branches of state government will be great assets to the firm as we continue to provide high-level representation to our clients,” said TFG President and Founder Marty Fiorentino. “We are excited that Allison will be joining our firm and look forward to her insight and counsel.”

PERSONNEL NOTE: JENNIFER KRELL DAVIS REJOINS THE FLORIDA BAR via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Davis is leaving the Florida Ports Council to rejoin The Florida Bar as deputy public information director. Davis had been special projects coordinator at the Bar, which regulates the state’s attorneys, in 2001-04. She later was communications director for the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Department of State, then served as press secretary for Attorney General Pam Bondi … Davis’s new title will be deputy director of The Florida Bar Public Information and Bar Services Department. She will be “second-in-command” to Francine Walker, the Bar’s veteran public information director.

SALLY BRADSHAW’S PLANS TO OPEN MIDTOWN READER ARE TAKING SHAPE via the Tallahassee Democrat – The Havana resident, who served as senior adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush, swung by the Democrat recently to give us an update on the independent bookstore that is taking shape on 1123 Thomasville Road.

SPOTTED at the VIP soft opening of Table 23 in Tallahassee: Christy and Jason Brodeur, Debbie and Nick Iarossi, Lance Lozano, Scott Maddox, Pete Mitchell, Bill Pfeiffer, Evan Powers, Melissa and David Ramba, Nicole Hagerty and Richard Reeves, Aelon and Alan Suskey, Chris Turner.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to the AP’s Jim Baltzelle, Lyndsey Brzozowski of Bascom Communications, Marty Kiar, our man in Jacksonville A.G. Gankarski, Matt Harringer from Rep. Gwen Graham’s office, our friend Todd Josko, and Leva Schmidt. Celebrating today is Michele Cavallo, Shannon Love, and Bill Young.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA LEAVING ‘HAMILTON’ JULY 9; VOWS TO RETURN via Mark Kennedy of The Associated Press – He promises to return “again and again.” Miranda, who has been in the show since it made its debut off-Broadway in early 2015 … will perform his last show July 9. Javier Munoz, the current understudy for Alexander Hamilton, who also took over from Miranda in “In the Heights,” will take over July 11. But Miranda said he will happily return to the show from time to time and RadicalMedia plans to film the original cast performing the show at the end of June and will, at some point, make it available. “We are aware that history has its eyes on us,” said Miranda. “For people who will say, ‘But I’ll never see Lin as Hamilton!’ — yes, you will … I have written this insane part that I can’t seem to get tired of, that is new every night… I think this is a role I will be going back to again and again. I know it feels like the end of the world to a very small number of people now, but I plan to revisit this role a lot.”

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

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