Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 8.11.17 – So long, farewell

in Peter by

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

Editor’s note: Today’s edition begins with a special message from our departing colleague, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster.

Dear Sunburn readers: By now you might be sick of hearing about how today is my last day at Florida Politics. And I’ll admit, as someone who hates to talk about herself, when Peter asked if I wanted to write something for Sunburn and said it could be about whatever I wanted, my first thought was “finally, a platform where I can explain why Game of Thrones is terrible.” But since I didn’t want to burn bridges like Daenerys on Drogon on my way out the door (h/t to my husband, Jonathan Foerster for making sure I didn’t sound like an idiot with that reference), I thought I’d instead use this space to say another quick round of “thanks.”

I moved to Florida in December 2005, and have covered government and politics, first at the Naples Daily News and now with the team at Florida Politics, in one way, shape or form for nearly 12 years now. I’ve had the chance to meet and work with a diverse group of individuals, and I hope that I can take what I’ve learned over the years observing what you do and apply it to the next phase of my life.

My life in journalism has taught me so many things, like how to spell Lamborghini; that I can work anywhere, including in the back of my SUV in the dark after a campaign rally; and that you should always pack extra socks when you find out you’re going to Washington, D.C. in January (same rule applies for early sessions in Tallahassee).

Jenna and Gov. Rick Scott during a 2015 visit to the Naples Daily News newsroom. She most definitely did not nearly trip and fall down the stairs that lead newspaper’s lobby as she was trying to walk, talk, take notes and record an interview with the governor shortly after this photo was taken. (Photo via the Governor’s Office.)

But in all seriousness, it also taught me the importance of building relationships, being persistent (or as some might call it pleasantly annoying), asking lots of questions, and staying involved in your community.

Thank you to all editors who put up with my sh*t (you know who you are); and especially to Peter who gave me this chance to something completely different and totally fun. Thank you to all of the politicians, lobbyists, consultants, strategists, and communications pros who returned my calls and emails, answered all of my questions, no matter how ridiculous they seemed, and who called me relatively few nasty names (and when you did, you did it with gusto).

It’s been an awesome run, and I’m going to miss it. But on Monday, I start a new adventure as a public policy specialist for the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.  

Hopefully our paths will cross again soon. Until then, hit me up on Twitter (@Jenna_Buzzacco), where soon you’ll see increased number of photos from bars and restaurants around Collier County. I’m really excited to try this thing people keep talking about called “happy hour.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Ag. Commissioner Adam Putnam and Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala are both set to speak at the Republican Party of Florida’s Quarterly and Executive Board Meeting this weekend.

The Friday and Saturday event at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando will feature a handful of appearances open to the press, including a “Dessert with Sen. Jack Latvala” Friday at 9 p.m. and an “Up & Adam Breakfast” with Putnam Saturday at 8 a.m.

The Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett is describing it as the “GOP food primary.”

Putnam’s event will be followed up by a talk from Fox News contributor Stephen Moore, with the RPOF Executive Board set to meet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Putnam is currently the only major Republican candidate running to be Florida governor, though Latvala could join him in the race as soon as next week.

More on the governor’s race:

First on #FlaPol – Latvala plans three-city tour to announce 2018 plans — The Pinellas Republican will announce his plans during stops in Clearwater, Hileah and Panama City on Wednesday. “As a small business owner and public servant, I have a track record of getting things done and solving problems,” the Clearwater Republican said in a statement Thursday. “One thing you can always expect from me too is when I give you my word, I will keep it. And on Wednesday, I give you my word, you will know what my future plans entail.” Latvala will start the day at 9 a.m. at Fire Station 7, 7590 West 24th Ave. in Hialeah. From there, he’ll head to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 249 Passage in Clearwater at 1 p.m., before jetting to the Sun Harbor Marina, 5505 Harbor Road at 5 p.m. (CST).

“How Adam Putnam’s votes in Congress might haunt his bid for governor” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times  Success came quickly to the newcomer from Bartow, whose grasp of policy and skill at messaging made him a protégé of House Speaker Dennis Hastert and No. 3 in the House Republican hierarchy. Along the way, Putnam racked up a record of votes, some of which haunt him as he seeks the Republican nomination for governor next year in a field that is yet to take shape. Putnam voted for a new Medicare prescription drug benefit; $700 billion for the so-called Wall Street bailout; $187 billion to rescue mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; and $2 billion for a “Cash for Clunkers” car trade-in program. “Let’s go back and look at what the world was like,” Florida’s current Commissioner of Agriculture said in an interview at a Masonic lodge in rural Wausau, recalling the Great Recession’s misery in 2008 and 2009 with its double-digit unemployment. “Every decision I made then was hard, but had working men and women and families in mind.”

“Ron DeSantis committee piles up cash” via the News Service of Florida – A political committee tied to U.S. Rep. DeSantis raised $320,000 in July, bringing the committee’s total to $1.26 million, as the Palm Coast Republican contemplates entering the 2018 governor’s race. The biggest contribution to the “Fund for Florida’s Future” was a July 31 donation of $300,000 from the “Fighting for Florida Fund,” a super PAC that supported DeSantis’ 2016 U.S. Senate campaign, which ended when incumbent Marco Rubio announced his decision to seek re-election. Through the end of July, the Fund for Florida’s Future had only spent $40,222 of the $1.26 million raised, according to the state Division of Elections.

“Gwen Graham talks July 4 party presence, climate change, ‘fire and fury’ via Scott Powers for Orlando Rising – In a matter of minutes Thursday night in Lake Mary, Graham went from indignation over Gov. Rick Scott‘s climate change policies to laughing at why President Donald Trump used the words “fire and fury,” to near tears in explaining her presence at a July 4 party with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. The moments, coming during a question and answer session with the Seminole County Democrats, illustrated how well Graham can be received by Democrats with her familiar Democratic messages, and yet how her background of old money still leaves her having to defend herself to skeptical progressives. arlier, Graham covered numerous policy positions in rapid fire, from support for a minimum wage increase to a call to reintroduce the arts, extra curricular activities, and technical training into schools, during a 13 minute speech to the Seminole Democratic Executive Committee.

Gwen Graham sat down Thursday with Central Florida parents, teachers and education activists to listen to the challenges they face and opportunities they see in Florida’s public schools.


The congressional map has a record-setting bias against Democrats” via David Wasserman of – And it’s not just 2018. Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats. This is partly attributable to the nature of House districts: GOP gerrymandering and Democratic voters’ clustering in urban districts has moved the median House seat well to the right of the nation. Part of it is bad timing. Democrats have been cursed by a terrible Senate map in 2018: They must defend 25 of their 48 seats, while Republicans must defend just eight of their 52.

But there’s a larger, long-term trend at work too — one that should alarm Democrats preoccupied with the future of Congress and the Supreme Court. In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York — states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin. But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states — think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia — that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.

Spotted: Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a Washington Post series on Congress’ first-generation American members and President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Ben Albritton earns endorsement from Bartow officials — Bartow Mayor James Clements and City Commissioner Trish Pfeiffer announced they were endorsing Albritton in his bid to replace Sen. Denise Grimsley in Senate District 26. “Ben Albritton has served in the Florida House with vision and integrity,” Clements said. “He’s been there for Bartow when we truly needed his support. I’m confident he’ll continue to deliver for us in the Florida Senate.” Pfeiffer said it was important for voters to put their “faith in someone that has the moral and ethical heart that will represent us and not forget about our interests here at home.” Albritton said he was “grateful for the support” from the local officials and added that he is looking forward to “working with them and other local leaders across District 26 to make sure issues of importance in their communities receive the attention they need and deserve in Tallahassee.”

Bill Galvano committee collects $235,000” via the News Service of FloridaGalvano, poised to become Senate President after the 2018 elections, raised $235,000 for his Innovate Florida committee …  received $60,000 from committees linked to the Florida Chamber of Commerce and $50,000 from a committee linked to Associated Industries of Florida, the newly filed report shows. As of July 31, Galvano’s committee had about $484,000 in cash on hand. A committee led by Rep. Jose Oliva, slated to become House speaker after the 2018 elections, raised only $5,000 in July. The committee, known as Conservative Principles for Florida, had about $440,000 in cash on hand as of July 31.

“John Newstreet urges court to consider potential for nullified votes if Paul Chandler is disqualified” via Scott Powers for Orlando Rising – Describing the potential for legal chaos and a “sore loser” from Tuesday’s Republican primary to seek to invalidate next Tuesday’s primary, Republican House District 44 candidate John Newstreet sought Thursday to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to disqualify the only Democrat running, Paul Chandler. sayfieNewstreet filed a motion with Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Tallahassee Thursday seeking to be recognized as an intervener in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that alleges Chandler is not qualified to be a candidate and should be thrown off the ballot by the court.

HD 58 candidate Lawrence McClure says he’s raised $90K in a week” via Florida PoliticsMcClure, a Plant City Republican, filed for the seat on the first of the month and said he already has enough petition signatures to qualify for the special election ballot. He also said his campaign was “very proud” of their fundraising effort one week into the race. “In our first week we’ve raised over $90,000, which will help us spread our positive, conservative message to every corner of District 58,” he said in a campaign email. “With just over 60 days left before the Primary we are working hard to meet with each and every Republican voter and share with them our conservative principles.”

– “Lawrence McClure collects enough signatures to qualify for ballot” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics


’Courthouse carry’ bill proposed again for 2018” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube is reviving one of the less controversial of his gun bills from last session, which would let concealed-weapons permit-holders carry their firearms into Florida courthouses and store the weapons temporarily with building security. Steube filed a bill for the 2018 session (SB 134) that puts that same proposal back on the table. It has a viable chance, if this spring was any indication. The measure nearly cleared the Legislature during the final week of the 2017 session, when House Republicans abruptly moved to rush his bill to the floor even though the chamber had not yet considered any such proposal. (Steube’s measure had passed the Senate by a 19-15 vote just a couple days prior, after being vetted and approved by three Senate committees, but no companion measure existed in the House.)

FHP brass has no right to demand ticket quota, lawmaker says” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Sen. Jeff Brandes reacted to a report that Maj. Mark Welch, who oversees troopers in an eight-county region that includes a long stretch of Interstate 10, told his staff in a recent email to write two citations an hour while working overtime. “Two citations each hour,” Welch wrote. “This is not a quota.” He called it “a goal to reach” … “Florida doesn’t have quotas,” Brandes said. “Quotas are not something I support. That is against everything the Florida Highway Patrol should be doing. The FHP is about safety. It’s not about meeting quotas.” Asked how the Legislature would react to Welch’s memo, Brandes said: “We should be concerned.” Brandes is chair of the Senate budget committee for all transportation-related spending in Florida.

“State economists counting Seminole gambling money” via Florida Politics – The Revenue Estimating Conference, a gathering of the state’s economists, plan to count nearly $234 million paid by the Seminole Tribe toward the state’s revenue. Tribal and state officials recently settled a lawsuit over the Tribe’s ability to keep offering blackjack at its casinos. The Tribe continued to pay gambling revenue share as a sign of good faith while the suit was pending. That money, however, was held in reserve. The economists also said they expect a nearly $52 million “true-up” payment from the Tribe, a kind of accounting reconciliation. They also predicted 0.8 percent in Indian gaming revenue growth for 2017-18.


Justices reject resentencing in 1976 murder” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida – In a case stemming from the 1976 strangulation of a 13-year-old girl, the Florida Supreme Court rejected arguments that a Death Row inmate should receive a new sentencing hearing. The arguments by attorneys for inmate James Ernest Hitchcock were rooted in a major 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling and subsequent Florida decisions that have led to requiring unanimous jury recommendations before defendants can be sentenced to death. With Hitchcock sent to Death Row after a 10-2 jury recommendation, his attorneys argued that the new unanimity standard should retroactively apply to his case and lead to a new sentencing hearing. But justices, as they have done recently in other cases, rejected the idea that the unanimity requirement should be applied to such old cases. The opinion was fully shared by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Peggy Quince, Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson, while justices R. Fred Lewis and Charles Canady concurred without signing on to the majority opinion. Justice Barbara Pariente dissented and pointed, in part, to the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment.

Florida school districts join fight against new school law” via The Associated Press – The Miami-Dade School Board voted unanimously to join a proposed lawsuit to block the sweeping legislation pushed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Miami-Dade is now one of seven districts that have voted to sue over the law, including all three districts located in heavily populated South Florida. School officials have criticized the law because of the measure forcing school districts to share property taxes with charter schools. Charter schools are in line to get more than $96 million from this provision.

Guns or medical marijuana? Patients may have to choose” via Mike Vasilinda of WJHG – Every gun buyer fills out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s form 4473. It asks nine questions about your life … like if you’re under indictment, have been convicted of stalking, a fugitive from justice, or mentally defective? Question 11E asks if you are an unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana. It comes with this warning: Marijuana is still illegal under Federal law, no matter what your state has done. Gun dealers say a person legally prescribed marijuana and telling the truth would not be sold a gun. ATF confirms what the gun dealers are telling us, is correct. Medical Marijuana Guru John Morgan told us the Federal law is stopping real progress, predicting the National Rifle Association would become pro-medical marijuana at the federal level.


“Personnel note: John N. Katopodis M.D. becomes Florida Medical Association leader” via Florida PoliticsKatopodis, a Tallahassee cardiologist, was installed as the group’s 141st president at its 2017 annual meeting in Orlando. “Dr. Katopodis has served organized medicine and the FMA at every level, and he is a tireless advocate for Florida physicians and their patients,” said FMA CEO Timothy J. Stapleton. Katopodis got his medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine and completed fellowships in cardiology at Shands Hospital/University of Florida School of Medicine in Gainesville and Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami. Katopodis succeeds David J. Becker, M.D., who served as the FMA’s 140th President in 2016-2017. Other officers for 2017-2018 are  President-Elect Corey Howard, M.D.; Vice President Ronald Giffler, M.D.; Secretary Michael Patete, M.D.; Treasurer Jason Goldman, M.D.; Speaker Joshua Lenchus, D.O.; and Vice Speaker Ashley Booth Norse, M.D.

“Personnel note: Bruce Wiener takes charge of Broad and Cassel’s Tallahassee office” via Florida PoliticsWiener, a partner in the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group, this week was named managing partner of the firm’s Tallahassee and Destin offices. He succeeds M. Stephen Turner, who served as managing partner of the Tallahassee office since its establishment 30 years ago. Turner will continue to practice in the firm. “We have no doubt that Bruce, a seasoned real estate lawyer who has been increasingly immersed into the overall management and strategy of the firm, will continue the strong and effective leadership for the offices,” said firm Chairman C. David Brown II in a statement. Wiener focuses his practice on real estate transactional matters, commercial lending and land use. “The firm has an exceptional reputation. I’m excited to continue working with Steve and maintaining the high standards of excellence he promoted,” he said.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Douglas Bell, Metz Husband & Daughton: The Florida Bar Business Law Section

Gregory Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers (CAHP)

Joanna Bonfanti Gunster Yoakley & Stewart:  Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers, kaleo

French Brown, Gary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: Strategic Property Partners, LLC

Jon Johnson, Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Gila LLC, dba Municipal Services Bureau (MSB)

Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind

Jon Moyle, Moyle Law Firm: Loop’s Nursery and Greenhouses, Inc

Cameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: kaleo


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: James will discuss President Donald Trump, President Kim Jung Un and nuclear war with political analyst Dr. Lawrence Miller.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Panelists this week include Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet, Republican political consultant Mark Proctor, Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper and Democratic consultant Barry Edwards.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: The topic is standardized testing with state Rep. Rene Plasencia, Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkinsand Dr. Michael Grego, superintendent of the Pinellas County School District.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Ybeth Bruzual interviews state Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican rumored as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2018. Latvala is to make a formal announcement on his political future Wednesday. Michelle Ertel and Dick Batchelor join Bruzual to discuss the Florida House District 44 special election, the governor’s race as it stands, and why Republicans in Washington have not been able to come together on repealing Obamacare. Bruzual and Allison Gravesof PolitiFact evaluate a claim by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King about the American Health Care Act, and what kind of effect it might have on seniors in Florida.

On Sunday, state Sen. Jack Latvala visits the “Political Connections” talker ahead of a Aug. 16 announcement on his political future.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with Tallahassee entrepreneur DeVoe Moore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week,  Justice will talk with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on North Korea, health care, tax reform and veteran’s issues.

— ALOE —

Busch Gardens quietly reigns as Florida’s roller coaster capital” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel – Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World have been grabbing headlines with immersive themed lands such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Pandora — The World of Avatar. But sometimes thrill seekers just want to ride some roller coasters. For that, at least by the numbers, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is king … with its six major roller coasters: Kumba, Montu, SheiKra, Cheetah Hunt, Cobra’s Curse and Scorpion. Throw in kid-friendly rides Sand Serpent and Air Grover, and there is 21,297 feet of roller coaster track at the park. That’s just over 4 miles on eight roller coasters. In addition, the Tampa park has a bevy of other thrill rides including Falcon’s Fury, which is the only ride in the state that simulates what it would be like to fall face-first toward the ground from 335 feet in the air.

Florida Gators face tough challenge of rebuilding stout defense” via The Associated Press – When coach Jim McElwain took over at Florida, he inherited one of the Southeastern Conference’s stingiest defenses. The unit got even better during McElwain’s first two seasons in Gainesville. The Gators finished eighth in yards allowed in 2015 and fifth last year, no question the main reason they played for back-to-back conference championships. Keeping the defense at that level could be Florida’s biggest challenge heading into this season. The Gators lost seven starters as well as secondary coach Torrian Gray to the NFL and said goodbye to defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, who took the head coaching job at Temple. Adding to those departures, the team’s leading tackler in 2016, senior safety Marcell Harris, tore his right Achilles tendon working out last month and had season-ending surgery. Now, McElwain and new defensive coordinator Randy Shannon are dealing with a sizable rebuilding project that probably would make Florida grad Bob Vila cringe.

Happy birthday belatedly to Josh Karp and today to Brice Barnes, Chris Hart, and Matt Surrency. Early birthday wishes to Matt Caldwell and Rep. Roy Hardemon.



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.

Latest from Peter

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
Go to Top