Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – September 8

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.

If you’re keeping track of time, there is B.T. and A.T. — Before Trump and After Trump.

At the beginning of summer, there were (at least) ten big questions facing Florida politics. But those questions, particularly the ones involving the myriad of presidential candidates hailing from the Sunshine State, are so B.T.

Here are the answers to the 10 big questions that faced Florida at the beginning of Summer, B.T.

What does Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign roll-out look like? The former governor’s formal entrance into the race was as eagerly anticipated — and predictable — as a summer movie blockbuster. And while Bush’s campaign pulled off a perfectly produced curtain-raiser, that really doesn’t matter now. Despite nine-figures worth of campaign money behind him, Bush is struggling to remain in the top-tier of presidential candidates. Bush’s biggest challenge is how to operate in the same ecosystem as Trump. As Chuck Todd said Sunday on Meet the Press, this is not the campaign Bush wanted to run.

Can Marco Rubio remain in the top-tier of presidential candidates? When this question was first asked, Rubio led or was in the top three of several national GOP presidential primary polls. Today, Rubio is barely inside the Top 10 in most polls, including those of Iowa and New Hampshire. Rubio’s campaign insists it is biding its time and it does the financial resources to be competitive but given the fact that he’s not only trailing Trump and Bush, but is being lapped by Ben Carson, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz, might Rubio be regretting not giving himself more of an out to run again for the U.S. Senate?

Is Florida ready for Hillary? The former Secretary of State would love to already be positioning herself in Florida as a general election candidate, but the controversy over her emails while at State and the rise of Bernie Sanders has Clinton ‘feeling the Bern.’ And now Vice President Joe Biden is close to entering the race. Yet, for all her troubles, there are a dozen Republican presidential candidates who would gladly take her poll numbers.

What will the field for Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat look like come Labor Day? It looks a lot less crowded than it was three months ago. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and David Jolly joined Ron DeSantis, but Jeff Miller, Don Gaetz, and Randy Fine passed on running. Yet who is in seems to hardly matter because no one knows who’s who anyway. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 86 percent of voters said they hadn’t heard enough about Lopez-Cantera, Jolly or DeSantis to offer opinions about them. “The U.S. Senate candidates in Florida might want to put their pictures on milk cartons to increase their visibility,” Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown joked.

What will happen further down the ticket? It was so widely assumed that Miller would run for the U.S. Senate that candidates were lining up for the seats of the legislators expected to run for Congress. But those dominoes never fell. No worries. The chaos created by the redistricting ruling has created more than enough opportunity for ambitious politicians.

What does Rick Scott want? If there’s a winner emerging from the summer doldrums, it may be Scott, whose approval ratings are right-side-up for the first time since taking office in 2011. He’s done this by remaining above, or at least out of, the fray. His economic summit in June was a stagecrafting success. And Scott continues to raise large sums of money for an expected 2018 U.S. Senate run.

How does the upcoming special session play out? Remember those quaint days when special sessions focused on budget issues and Medicaid expansion? That was what was on the Legislature’s plate three months ago — before the redistricting ruling. Despite a lot of smoke, there wasn’t much fire by the time the House and Senate went through their respective motions. But the atmosphere in Tallahassee has rarely been this toxic and already lawmakers and lobbyists are bracing for a contentious 2016 session.

What will happen with Senate maps – the ticking time bomb of Florida politics? It’s worth revisiting what was written in May: “Talk to the consultants who know, and they’ll tell you the courts throwing out the state Senate districts is a fait accompli. Some of these same consultants have suggested the lines will be thrown out as early as October. Tick, tick, tick.” As anyone working in Florida politics now knows that ticking time bomb has exploded.

Can the Florida Democratic Party get its act together and recruit quality candidates to challenge the GOP’s majorities in the Legislature? As much as it does to jeopardize its hegemony over state politics, the Florida GOP will likely remain firmly in control of Tallahassee because its adversary, the Florida Democratic Party, is less capable of winning than the Washington Generals. There’s been little evidence to suggest the FDP has done much of anything to capitalize on the Republicans’ problems.

What do we not know about Florida politics that we don’t know? The Sunshine State remains the Chinatown of American politics. Who could have guessed that the Floridian running for president who would be in the best poll position would be Ben Carson? Who could have guessed that Charlie Crist very well could be in Congress after 2016? Who could have guessed that Gwen Graham might not be?

A better question might just be how could we not have expected the unexpected?

DAYS UNTIL: First Legislative Committee Meeting: 6; Second GOP presidential debate: 7; Special Session on Redistricting (state Senate maps): 40; Florida GOP’s Sunshine Summit: 44; Sine Die 4: 58; First day of 2016 Legislative Session: 125; Super Bowl 50: 151; New Hampshire Primary: 153; Super Tuesday: 174; Florida’s presidential primary: 188; Close of federal candidate qualifying: 289; Florida’s primary elections: 356; 2016 Election Day: 426.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 2016 RACE via Larry J. Sabato , Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley for POLITICO

GOP outsiders dominating the polls remain longshots … Clinton remains a strong favorite for the nomination: … Clinton could lose both heavily white Iowa and New Hampshire, and still have a fairly unobstructed path to the nomination because of her mighty position with women and minorities … true even if Vice President Joe Biden enters the race.

Trump is still unlikely to be the nominee … Out of … 17 GOP candidates, five come closest to meeting the usual metrics required to win a … nomination: Jeb BushMarco RubioScott WalkerTed Cruz and John Kasich. As concerned as many are about Bush’s dynasty burdens and Jeb’s uneven, unexciting performances on the trail, he still has the best chance to win over the party establishment (big donors and big-name politicians). …  Rubio is widely acknowledged to have the most political talent on the debate stage … Walker has been somewhat wooden, but his hero status as the union vanquisher … carries weight with financiers and rank-and-file Republicans alike. … Cruz has raised more money than any Republican but Bush … Kasich is more of a longshot, but he has impressed many senior Republicans …

The 2016 election will be unique: … Trump might bolt the GOP eventually despite his pledge not to. However, Trump knows, whatever the exit polls may eventually show about his independent run, he’ll be blamed if Hillary Clinton secures the White House in a three-way race.

EXPENSIVE AD SPACE ALMOST SOLD OUT FOR DEBATE via David Bauder of the Associated Press

CNN said … only one commercial slot is still available for its coverage of the Sept. 16 debate between top Republican presidential contenders … expected to draw top dollar … asking for up to $200,000 for a 30-second ad … comparable to slots in popular entertainment shows on the broadcast networks. CNN would not discuss its ad prices. On a more typical night … a 30-second ad could cost as little as $5,000.

Interest was strong among advertisers even before Fox News Channel showed the first debate … Last month’s debate, however, reached an average of 24 million viewers, by far the most-watched event ever on Fox News Channel and one of the most popular TV shows of the summer. That likely sent advertiser interest in CNN’s debate through the stratosphere.

JEB BUSH TAPS HONG KONG EXPATS IN FIGHT WITH TRUMP via James Hohmann and Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post

Bush will raise money from American expatriates in Hong Kong this week … (duing a) conference call for donors who live in the autonomous Chinese territory … one of a handful of buzzy, and potentially controversial, events on a copy of the former Florida governor’s upcoming fundraising schedule … “We fully comply with all laws and ask for copies of passports for any donor with a foreign address to confirm they are lawful donors …”

The huge war chest basically guarantees Jeb will wind up being a finalist for the Republican nomination, despite his single-digit showing in current polls and his intensifying battle against Trump. Since three top Bush fundraisers abruptly left the campaign … the candidate himself has begun pushing back on news stories about problems within his finance operation, including a report that the pace of fundraising slowed over the summer … Jeb noted that he attended seven fundraisers last week alone and suggested that people will be impressed by his third quarter fundraising number … all against a backdrop of the GOP establishment’s concern about how Jeb should tackle a rising Trump … Bush has begun to attack Trump fiercely and directly, going so far as to accuse Trump of using a racial “dog whistle” …

SAVE THE DATEJeb Bush Jr. will be the featured guest speaker at the September Sarasota GOP monthly meeting on Thursday, September 10 at the Sahib Shriners, 600 N. Beneva Rd. in Sarasota. Meeting begins 6:30 p.m.; Bush’s speech is at 7 p.m.


Bush‘s campaign plans to air its first TV ads in New Hampshire starting next Wednesday. The initial $500,000 buy includes Boston TV stations, WMUR, New Hampshire’s only station, and statewide cable and will blanket the airwaves through the end of September … Right 2 Rise super PAC … will start airing its first ads in New Hampshire on Sept. 15 … the first ad will highlight Bush’s record from his two terms as Florida governor and his willingness to take on special interests in Washington.


Pope Francis is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to Washington … Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, plan to be among those attending Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Sept. 23 … Francis will canonize Junipero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan friar who founded missions in California. The Mass will mark the first time the Catholic Church has held a saint-making ceremony in North America. Bush’s … is scheduled to attend a breakfast fundraiser for his campaign Sept. 24 …


When Bush set out to build a political base of his own in South Florida three decades ago, he did not lack for new friends. He was a magnet for a long line of Republicans eager to be associated with him and his powerful family, including a Cuban immigrant and former corrections officer named Tony Campos

…But Campos’s interests in the family were not entirely innocent. Ultimately he would try to exploit those relationships, entangling Jeb Bush … in a case of misplaced trust and the theft of public funds.

— “My problem with Jeb Bush’s candidacy” via Erick Erickson of Red State


Trump‘s net favorability rating among Republicans climbed 16 points over the last two weeks. Carson remains leader on favorability, Trump on familiarity … Cruz‘s image also improved, while Carly Fiorina‘s and Ben Carson’s images remain significantly better than they were before the Aug. 6 debate. John KasichJeb Bush and Scott Walker are among those whose images worsened. Unlike Trump, Bush has not been able to translate his high name identification to his advantage. Bush is the second-best-known of the candidates, but … had a bad summer in terms of his image — with a six-point drop in his net favorable score in the last two weeks.


[In] Palm Beach, Fla. … for the past 30 years he has shattered old-money conventions and sensibilities with the same thin-skinned, sue-you-in-a-heartbeat, self-congratulatory ethos that has made him such a mesmerizing character on the national stage … Trump … [has] been fighting with the town poohbahs from the very moment he’d crashed into the complacent, clubby world of Palm Beach to buy Mar-a-Lago-the former estate of blue-blooded cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post — which turned out to be one of those great deals he couldn’t afford. So it has been all along down here, from the moment in 1985 when Trump decided that Mar-a-Lago would be his personal castle … never quite shared the Palm Beach aesthetic that understated elegance was much preferred over ostentatious self-promotion.


Rubio … returned to campaign in South Carolina. He last visited Aug. 28 when he delivered a speech outlining his policy toward China … The latest polls show Rubio is in the middle of the pack in a large field of GOP rivals, but the primary is not until late February. His campaign team has plenty of experience in the Palmetto State … the first 2016 candidate to officially file for the state’s GOP presidential primary.

POLL DU JOUR: A NBC News/Marist poll in Iowa finds Trump leading the GOP field with 29% of potential GOP caucus-goers, while Carson receives 22%. There’s a steep drop off after that: Bush gets 6%; Fiorina, Paul and Walker get 5%; and Cruz, Rubio and Jindal are at 4%.

In the Democratic race, Clinton maintains her previous advantage over Sanders – but her lead has declined from 24 points in July (49% to 25%) to 11 points (38% to 27%); Biden is at 20 percent.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Tampa Bay for Bernie, Labor Day Birthday Beach Bash”


Smart Politics … examined the 2,000 statewide elections for president conducted since 1828 and found that 36 states are currently in the midst of their longest ever Democratic or Republican winning streaks with the GOP enjoying its best run ever in 20 states and Democrats at peak levels in 16 others. If history holds in 2016, these 36 states will take 375 electoral votes off the table: 166 for the 20 record-setting Republican states plus 209 for record-setting Democratic states (212 if one counts the District of Columbia which has never voted for a Republican nominee).

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After careful consideration at public meetings, multiple Tea Party and conservative groups have voted to oppose a Florida constitutional amendment giving the solar power industry special rights to sell power directly to electricity consumers and to utilities … a significant setback for the solar power industry in the state.

Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) launched its initiative … to allow nonutility solar power providers to install solar panels on homes and sell the power generated directly to them, they initially gained support from some business owners, libertarians, liberal environmental activists, and Christian conservatives … As grassroots activist groups have learned more about the amendment, support for it has waned.

Tampa 912 Project message board overwhelmingly opposed the proposed amendment … board of directors voted unanimously to oppose it. At a June Tea Party meeting held at the popular retirement community The Villages … a unanimous vote against the amendment. Tea Party Manatee, following a heated exchange between two lobbyists praising the solar amendment … followed the lead of the Tampa 912 project and the Villages Tea Party in voting unanimously to oppose the solar amendment to the Florida Constitution … “These results show Tea Party groups do not support the creation of solar power monopolies …”


(On) paper, Jacksonville-area Congressman Ron DeSantis should be a strong contender as the GOP Senate nominee in 2016 … his profile has been growing statewide since he became the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the Senate in early May. A trifecta of endorsements from the Tea Party wing of the GOP immediately followed, with the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks … Sitting down for our interview … he emits a warm presence, something that he wasn’t able to duplicate when speaking of some of the same subjects in two subsequent speeches at the RPOF event.

Like many in the GOP, DeSantis gets the dissatisfaction that Republican voters are feeling towards Washington these days in the summer of Trump. He says it’s been a colossal disappointment that a Republican House and Republican Senate haven’t passed more bills, even if it simply means daring President Obama to pull out his veto pen … with Republicans needing 60 votes to pass bills in the Senate, it’s simply not as easy to pass legislation as he and Republican everywhere would hope could be the case since they control Congress … he’s doing his part, reciting pieces of legislation he’s offered or supported since his election nearly three years ago: term-limits, a balanced budget amendment, eliminating Congressional pensions.

“I mean, let’s show the American people that we’re not a separate, elite governing class, that we’re a servant class, and that we’re actually listening to them. I think that if we did that, the beauty of that if you started doing that, the voters listen to you on a whole host of different issues.”

DeSantis is a hawk on immigration, yet he’s not about to go down the path … in trying make the argument that the 14th Amendment can be overturned in the courts … he’s not supportive of any “shortcut” to citizenship … can get particularly wonky talking about one of his strengths, foreign policy … believes that the American public does support an aggressive stance in confronting ISIS in Iraq and Syria … President Obama simply hasn’t made the case by declaring he wants to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS.

MARY THOMAS’ TEAM TAKES AIM AT NEAL DUNN IN CD 2 via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

The team behind Tallahassee attorney Mary Thomas, running for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham … came out swinging at primary rival Dr. Neal Dunn … Dunn unveiled the support of former House Speaker Will Weatherford … former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense and former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz … Lauren Henderson, Thomas’ political director, noted Dunn has backed some Democrats including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson … supported then Gov. Charlie Crist’s Senate bid in 2010 … sent Crist $1,000.

“As a lobbyist and political insider, it’s no surprise that Neal Dunn has rolled out endorsements from politicians and fellow lobbyists,” Henderson said … “Conservatives should review the endorsements that Neal Dunn himself has made … supported liberal Charlie Crist over conservative Marco Rubio … supported liberal Bill Nelson over conservative Connie Mack … supported liberal Allen Boyd for many years … was a lobbyist for the Florida Medical Association (FMA) … pushed for the expansion of Medicaid as part of Obamacare … chair of the FMA’s council on legislation when the FMA … endorsed Medicaid expansion as part of Obamacare … a history of endorsing liberal politicians and liberal causes.”

IN THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE: Longtime Vern Buchanan aide Max Goodman: “It’s wild to think that 10 years ago I took the drive from Baltimore to Sarasota to start this journey with Congressman Buchanan,” Goodman said. “I’ll be heading to Florida once again, this time to join Congressman Jolly’s Senate campaign … keep the good times rolling.”

REPUBLICAN TOD MOWERY LEAVES CROWDED RACE FOR CD 18 via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery is dropping out of the crowded Republican race for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional seat that Rep. Patrick Murphy is leaving to run for Senate.

Mowery posted the news on his Facebook page … saying he is entering a new season “which requires that I close the door on my congressional race.” He could not immediately be reached for comment …

TWEET, TWEET: @JacobPerry: My take at moment is Mast and Kozell benefit overall, but Mowery’s departure is huge for Rebecca Negron … Mainly because Negron gains ground in Martin & St Lucie Counties.

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Scott capped off a big fundraising summer by collecting another $100,000 in checks in just over six days … for his political action committee … now raised more than $500,000 in August alone for his Let’s Get To Work Committee and almost $1 million since June 1.

For the year, Scott has raised more than $3.6 million for the political action committee … 5 biggest donors since June 1: $400,000 – The Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC; $252,503 – Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts; $100,000 – Jeffrey Vinik … $50,000 – Florida Cruise PAC; $50,000 – TECO Energy Inc.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth at a 10 a.m. press conference at ConnectWise, 4805 Independence Parkway in Tampa. At 2:30 p.m., the governor will also talk job growth at SATO Global Solutions 110 SE 6th Street, Suite 700 in Ft. Lauderdale.

HAPPENING WEDNESDAY — ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be in Miami to provide an update on the giant African land snail infestation in Miami-Dade County. Update will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Morningside Park, 750 NE 55th Terrace in Miami.


The Florida Supreme Court … ordered a trial judge to help the state resolve the jumbled mess that now surrounds the state’s political landscape … Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to hold a trial to resolve the dispute. Lawyers for the House and Senate will be allowed to present rival maps to the judge and present evidence regarding those maps. Lewis will then make a recommendation back to the Supreme Court on which map should be adopted.

The order from the court pointed out that nothing would prevent the Legislature from holding another special session. Senate President Andy Gardiner has repeatedly said he is willing to start over, but House leaders have refused to go along with the idea. Legislators only have until October 17 to get a new map approved by the courts. Justices … have no plans to waive that requirement.


The legal team that uncovered the shadow redistricting process that invalidated Florida’s congressional and Senate districts didn’t rely just on maps and cloak-and-dagger emails to prove that legislators broke the law … best clues came in the form of data — millions of census blocks — delivered electronically and found in the files of political operatives who fought for two years to shield it.

(The) breakthrough for the legal team … came just days before the May 19, 2014 trial on the congressional map was set to begin … Using a matrix that reviewed 400,000 precincts covering 27 districts in each map, the lawyers and their experts “were able to trace the evolution of the maps and figure it out” … Exhibit 12 as prepared by the redistricting challengers shows the Broward-based state Senate district that was used by map drawers to pack Democrats into a black-majority district in an effort to make the adjacent districts less competitive.


“His rival for the Florida Senate presidency, Joe Negron, may have declared victory, but Latvala showed off his political might with a fundraising luncheon that drew more than 400 in support of the sometimes gruff Pinellas Republican. That crowd should have state Sen. Jeff Brandes worried about the prospect of redistricting forcing him to run against Latvala.”


The attack ads already have begun in the contest for a Southwest Florida state Senate seat that technically is not even up for election in the 2016 cycle yet … Nancy Detert … has yet to resign her current post and declare a bid for the Sarasota County Commission … that’s not stopping the unofficial race for her District 28 … from heating up.

Mailers were sent out … accusing state Rep. Greg Steube — who will run for the Senate if Detert bows out — of not supporting a push to keep Sarasota County in one congressional district … Steube says he favored keeping Sarasota County in one congressional district and the mailer is “absolutely and patently false.” Supporting Steube is state Rep. Julio Gonzalez … who sponsored an amendment to the staff-drawn map to keep Sarasota County in one district.

The source of the attack is unclear … paid for by Leadership for Florida’s Future, a political committee registered to Michael Millner in Jensen Beach.


Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga has cancer and is expected to undergo kidney surgery … scheduled to have a kidney removed this month … doctors told him his prognosis is “very good after surgery.” The cancer was detected early through blood tests during a routine medical exam … doctors expect he’ll spend seven days in the hospital. He says he’ll resume his duties remotely as soon as possible after surgery.

Under Florida’s Rules of Judicial Administration, Justice Barbara J. Pariente will assume the role of acting chief justice because she has the longest service time.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) will host the 2015 Child Protection Summit September 9 -11 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes, 4040 Central Florida Parkway in Orlando. The annual three-day summit is Florida’s largest gathering of child welfare professionals. DCF Secretary Mike Carroll will kick off the summit on Wednesday at 1 p.m.


Scott is losing one of the state’s seven board of education commissioners thanks to his own doing … appointed Manatee County resident John Colon to fill a vacancy on the Manatee County School Board, which prompted Colon to then have to submit his resignation from the state board of education. Colon, a Republican and financial advisor … has been on the state board of education since 2013 and was reappointed earlier this year for a term that was supposed to run through 2018.


While public safety is part of their motivation, the lack of adequate pay in Florida is another driving force … Average annual pay for the state’s 606 forestry firefighters is just over $27,000 … since 2006, they have had only one pay increase … Legislature approved a $2,000 pay hike for them, but it was vetoed by … Scott.

That forces many of the state’s firefighters to voluntarily pack up, leave their families behind for months at a time and head west to supplement their incomes with overtime pay subsidized by other states and the federal government.

Florida firefighters just ended a turbulent wildfire season of their own … more than 2,000 fires charred 70,000 acres … When the summer rains finally came to quell the fire season … instead of recuperating … volunteer to travel west … “That’s what you have to do to survive …”

Putnam, who oversees the firefighters, recognizes a problem … pushed the Legislature to provide firefighters $1.6 million in additional funding for his agency to give $2,000 pay increases … In vetoing the funds, Scott maintained that pay raises for state employees should be addressed on a statewide level, and not just for the forestry firefighters. The only other employees budgeted for a pay hike were workers for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Scott did not veto those raises.


The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in a challenge by the state of Alabama to shut down its three casinos, saying they are a “public nuisance” … Alabama has no right to sue the Poarch because of their sovereign immunity … the Poarch sent a letter to Scott, asking to enter into an agreement, or “gaming compact,” for the tribe to offer gambling at a casino it wants to build on land it has outside Pensacola. The Poarch also operate and are majority owners of the Pensacola Greyhound Track … If granted, the Poarch could be competitors to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which now has the only gaming compact in Florida.


Florida deserves leadership, not an autocracy. As Congressman Dan Webster often says, it is time to tear down the legislative “pyramid of power” — the system of rules, written and unwritten, that empower a select few in legislative leadership to dictate the actions of many.

Under the rules and practices that govern the Florida House today, a member who upsets leadership runs the risk of losing almost everything — from a chairmanship and committee assignments, to things as mundane as an office or a parking space. Even worse, to the detriment of our constituents, the concentration of power in the hands of a few inevitably narrows the range of ideas and viewpoints that are even considered.

In the era of term limits, power has become even more centralized because members do not have as much time to develop the experience, relationships and policy expertise that could serve as a counterweight to the few in leadership.

I am convinced that the only way to fix these structural problems is to amend Florida House and caucus rules with bold and broad changes laser focused on aggressively decentralizing power. Only then will we get real and lasting reform. Only then will we have a truly “member-driven process” — an incessantly invoked goal that too often receives only lip service.


State Rep. Shevrin Jones … filed his bill (HB 93) … (to) allow the decision to wear body-cams to remain with local police and sheriffs, but would mandate that those agencies using them develop “policies, procedures and guidelines” governing their use, including the “storage, retention and release of audio and video.” Jones’ bill comes after a law passed earlier this year that critics say undercuts the cameras’ usefulness to “police the police.”

The Florida Legislature and Scott OK’d a public records exemption for police body-camera videos … creates privacy exceptions to public disclosure, including police body-cam footage taken inside a home, at a hospital or at the scene of a “medical emergency.”

TWEET, TWEET: @EdNarain: Excited to have the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators in Tampa this weekend.

***On September 17-18, Florida CHAIN will host its 1st Annual Conference, Moving Forward Together in a New Era of Health Care. It’s an opportunity to join national experts, advocates, consumers, navigators, health care providers, policy makers, and other stakeholders to learn about pressing health policy topics, acquire new skills, and network with other participants dedicated to improving the health of all Floridians. In addition to two plenary sessions, a keynote address, engaging workshops, and interactive trainings, an exciting awards dinner will be held the evening of September 17th. Learn more and register today at***

SAVE THE DATE: State Sens. Jack LatvalaJohn Legg and other members of the Senate are hosting a morning fishing charter at the Historic Stilt Camps in the Gulf of Mexico. Charter leaves the Sunset Marina at 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, 5115 Sunset Blvd. in Port Richey. Lunch is available and the tour will return 1 p.m. Contribution is $1,000 per fisher, and will support Legg’s campaign. RSVP to Thad Lowry at or (727) 992-8505.

SAVE THE DATE: State Rep. Jimmie Smith is hosting a fundraising reception for his Senate District 5 campaign on Wednesday, September 16 beginning 5 p.m. at the Governors Club, 202 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee.

FIRST IN SUNBURN: I got a super sneak peek at a slick new CATECOMM product that every coalition worth their salt is going to want to get their hands on before session starts ramping up. The name? Rocket Lobby. If you’re into suspense, visit now and watch that rocketship roar. Rocket Lobby officially launches 10 a.m. Thursday.

AKIN GUMP TO LAUNCH NEW CUBA PRACTICE via Catherine Ho of the Washington Post

Akin Gump, the nation’s largest lobby firm, is launching a new business unit aimed at advising firms looking to expand in Cuba … will advise companies on legal and lobbying strategy as they look to enter the Cuban market … recently hired Anya Landau French as a senior adviser in the Cuba initiative, which will be led by Democratic lobbyist Scott Parven. Parven lobbies on behalf of Samsung and Chevron, and is a bundler for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign … Landau French is the editor of The Havana Note, a blog documenting developments in U.S.-Cuba relations that often praises ending the embargo, and a former adviser on international trade issues to ex-Sen. Max Baucus …

APPOINTEDAndria Herr to the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

APPOINTEDRusty Branson to the College of Central Florida District Board of Trustees.

APPOINTEDSarrah Carroll to the Florida Greenways & Trails Council.

APPOINTEDRoger “Michael” O’Steen to the Florida Inland Navigation District.

APPOINTED: Charlene Lenger to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees.

APPOINTEDAnn Moore and Robert Spencer to the Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority.

APPOINTED: Lori Moran and Charlene Neal to the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota District Board of Trustees.


Brian Ballard, Don Payton, Ballard Partners: Florida SouthWestern State College Foundation

Alfonso Cornish: Target Corporation

Emily Buckley, Chris Moya, Jones Walker: A. Duda & Sons, Inc.

Electra Bustle, Sarah Carroll, Chris Dudley, Southern Strategy Group: Walton County Sheriff’s Office

Nick Iarossi, Jennifer Gaviria, Ron LaFace, Chris Schoonover, Jim Smith, Capital City Consulting: RELX Inc.

Cynthia Henderson, Cynergy Consulting: General Dynamics Information Technology

Liam McClay: Santa Fe College

Corinne Mixon, Mixon & Associates: Lincoln Learning Solutions

WELCOME TO THUNDERDOMEKristen M. Clark is joining The Miami Herald’s Tallahassee bureau as statehouse reporter. The Michigan State University grad most recently worked as a community reporter for The Palm Beach Post. (H/t to Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools.)

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***


Stephen Colbert is about to turn a corner in his career: onto Broadway at 54th Street … will now hold court at old-guard CBS … inherit the theater, time slot and series title … owned for 22 years by David Letterman. Little wonder that Colbert’s disciples … wait anxiously to see what “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” will be like: How beholden will it be to late-night talk-show conventions stretching back six decades? Will it abandon Colbert’s signature political edge? Can it build on the uniqueness of “The Colbert Report,” a sui generis concoction Colbert tailored to his skills and passions?

If the early guest lineups offer any clue, he’ll offer a rich blend of talk: Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and Vice President Joe Biden will appear the first week, along with entrepreneurs Elon Musk (SpaceX and Tesla Motors) and Travis Kalanick (Uber), plus a show-biz mix including George ClooneyAmy Schumer and Toby Keith … His online spoof of Donald Trump that was posted in June suggests he’s poised to lampoon the 2016 presidential race.

— “The late, great Stephen Colbert” via Joel Lovell of GQ

— “Stephen Colbert’s night vision” via James Poniewozik of TIME Magazine

DISNEY UNVEILS STAR WARS TOYS AMID MARKETING BLITZ via Bree Fowler and Ryan Nakashima of the Associated Press

Disney has … ‘Force Friday,’ … The marketing push behind ‘Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,’ is unique because it’s so far ahead of the movie’s [Dec. 18] U.S. release, 116 days … action figures … like Sarco Plank, some kind of alien desert nomad … Industry analysts … expect … $3 billion [in] Star Wars merchandise will be sold this year and that sales next year could be even larger. Retailers also did their best to cash in on the “Force Friday” frenzy. Target, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us all had many of their stores open and held special events when the toys went on sale at 12:01 a.m. … Star Wars toys were also prominently displayed on their retail websites.


On Context Florida: For Labor Day, Jac Wilder VerSteeg talks of that “poor, mistreated middle-class worker” Tom Brady. The NFL superstar, backed by the players union, overturned in federal court the four-game suspension NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had imposed for Brady’s role in Deflategate. Because his union rescued him, Brady and family will not find themselves penniless and on the streets. Today is our Labor Day, and Pat Fowler, like many others, received a peppy greeting of Happy Labor Day from a politician this morning. “Oh good,” Fowler thought. “Let’s see what policies this politician is proposing in order to support workers.” But no, just platitudes — things Fowler calls Bulworthian bromides of little value. This Labor Day, Jesse Panuccio says Florida’s workforce have pathways to prosperity that were unthinkable just a few years ago. From day one, the Scott Administration worked hard to enact policies that would reverse the state’s negative trajectory and jumpstart the economy. Peter Schorsch responds to criticism of his “If I owned the Tallahassee Democrat” series of posts. Gerald Ensley, the Democrat‘s leading columnist, denigrates Schorsch, calling him little more than “a blogger who runs an aggregate website about state politics.” Describing the sites as such, Schorsch wonders — Did Ensley actually read them before defending his horse and buggy? Had he, he would know 90 percent of the content is original, and hardly aggregate anything.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.


Seminole Nation supporters will get a chance to play golf with legendary Florida State University Coach Bobby Bowden, or enjoy a one-week stay at Jimmy Buffet‘s home in Key West … FSU’s Old School Club Society Foundation is holding the fifth annual Napleton Infiniti Old School Open with three days of activities on September 10 through 13 … kicks off with a wine dinner, charity auction and concert in downtown Tallahassee’s Kleman Plaza. Bowden is this year’s celebrity guest.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of the Top 5 Cates, Chris, as well as Abel Harding and The Fiorentino Group’s Joe Mobley. Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, Sens. Thad Altman and Jeff Clemens, former Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, Rep. Ed Narain, and former St. Pete City Councilman Jeff Danner.



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.

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