During the 2012 election cycle, about $404 million was spent by Florida candidates and political action committees. Although that figure doesn’t include what Barack Obama and Mitt Romney dished out, it’s still a healthy number. A lot of political consultants built beach houses in Cedar Key and Destin with what they made that year.
During the same period, more than $425 million was spent by more than 2,500 companies, trade associations, local governments, and unions to influence the 160 members of the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.
In other words, much more money is spent to influence lawmakers than to elect them.
Yet, for all of that money, most political journalism focuses on the campaign trail or the sausage-making of government. Successful campaign managers become rock stars. Powerful staffers are featured in Sunday-edition newspaper profiles. Meanwhile, little coverage is produced about the influencers who play such an outsize role in political life. And most often, what gets written is naive or negative.
The inaugural issue of INFLUENCE Magazine aims to change that.
On the pages of INFLUENCE Magazine you’ll get to know many of the powerful figures behind the quotes you’ve seen.
Like John “Mac” Stipanovich, one of the savviest political operators in Florida. Longtime Capitol watcher Florence Snyder goes one-on-one with “Mac the Knife” in a must-read interview.
Or like Ron Book, perhaps the most powerful individual lobbyist in the state. We spent time with Book to learn how’s he gained his reputation as the hardest-working guy in the capital.
Or like Dean Cannon, now deep into his second act (or is it third?) as a former speaker of the House turned founder of a blue-chip lobbying firm.
This issue of INFLUENCE also provides insightful assessment of Florida’s lobbying industry, including the development of several mega-firms with offices throughout the state. We profile several of them, including Corcoran & Johnston and Capitol Insight. We also look at the rise of boutique lobbying firms and how, for some, smaller is better.
And there’s much more. Stories about budgets and food fights; planes and race cars. There’s even a tale about a preacher.
INFLUENCE Magazine also is meant to be an enjoyable read, so it’s not all politics all the time. There are sections about books, movies, television and technology. There’s an insider’s guide to dining in Tallahassee and food blogger Gina Melton’s thoughts on the state of the power lunch.
When first conceived, we thought INFLUENCE Magazine would be an occasional publication, coming out perhaps once or twice a year. But the pre-publication response was so overwhelming, our goal now is to hit newsstands (are there still newsstands?) once a quarter. Look for the next issue of INFLUENCE Magazine to come out this summer.
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy reading the first edition of INFLUENCE Magazine. As someone who primarily inhabits the digital world, it has been an eye-opening experience to produce something tactile. I beg your forgiveness for any errors we’ve made, and you have my commitment that we will do better next time.
A digital version of INFLUENCE Magazine can be read here.
Your feedback is sincerely welcomed. Please email me at Peter@FloridaPolitics.com.