Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 7.25.16 – From the Democratic National Convention to Comic-Con

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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


Hillary Clinton debuted running mate Sen. Tim Kaine on Saturday as a can-do progressive committed to social justice and equality — “everything Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not” — at a boisterous rally ahead of next week’s Democratic National Convention.

“He is qualified to step into this job and lead from Day One. And he is a progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton declared at Florida International University.

Kaine, a bilingual former Virginia governor, detailed his life in public service. “I like to fight for right,” he said.

kaine gif1

And, as Clinton smiled broadly at her choice for vice president, Kaine greeted the largely Hispanic audience in Spanish. “We’re going to be ‘compañeros de alma,’ in this great ‘lucha’ ahead,” he said, or “soul mates in this great fight ahead.”

Trump, in a text to his own supporters, said President Barack Obama, Clinton and Kaine were “the ultimate insiders” and implored voters to not “let Obama have a 3rd term.”

At the splashy rally, Democrats sought to offer a contrast with Trump and Pence, whose first appearance together in a New York City hotel ballroom included a lengthy speech by the GOP businessman and much more limited remarks from Pence, the Indiana governor. The two only briefly posed for photos at their campaign kickoff.

Clinton chose to introduce Kaine as her running mate in the battleground state of Florida, waving to the large crowd of cheering supporters as they bounded on stage with their hands raised in the traditional sign of unity. Clinton sought to present the partnership as one built in optimism, panning the Republican convention, which ended two days earlier, as a display of “fear,” ”anger and resentment.”

She noted that Kaine had taken a year off from Harvard Law School to do missionary work in Honduras and had worked as a civil rights attorney specializing in equal housing. Clinton said Kaine as governor worked with Republicans and helped his home state navigate the Great Recession without sacrificing funding for education.

She also pointed to his work on gun control after the deadly Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, praising his efforts to curb gun violence before a nation still reeling from a series of shootings and violence against police.

“Behind that smile Tim also has a backbone of steel. Just ask the NRA,” Clinton said.

Choking up, Kaine described the Virginia Tech shooting as the “worst day … of my life.”

Kaine, 58, was long viewed as a likely choice because of his resume in government and his time as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He also had a particularly powerful backer in Obama, whom Kaine endorsed in 2007. Obama considered him for vice president a year later.

KAINE EMAIL TROVE SHOWS MEDIA SAVVY MICROMANAGER via Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO – Hundreds of thousands of emails from his days as governor … show Kaine is no Joe Biden: He’s a media-savvy executive who avoids gaffes by discussing tricky topics with his staff before he speaks with reporters. He pays attention to even the smallest of detail – making his own spreadsheets, editing his online biography – and he doesn’t hesitate to throw around his connections with Obama … He has a mastery of the behind-the-scenes tasks necessary to govern. And he’s proven capable of winning multiple elections in the battleground of Virginia, as well as across the other 49 states after a stint as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during Obama’s first term.


@AlCardenasFL_DC: I like Tim Kaine, therefore I disliked HRCs selection. I don’t want her to win

@JeffFlake: Trying to count the ways I hate @timkaine. Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend.

@RichLowry: Kaine has the affect of an earnest suburban dad

KAINE BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE IN MIAMI via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – When it was finally Kaine’s turn to speak, he began humbly and concentrated his praise on Clinton, only pivoting to praise for himself later. “I’m feeling a lot of things today. Most of all gratitude. I’m grateful to you Hillary, for the trust you placed in me,” Kaine said, Clinton nodding approvingly behind him. “Today like every day I’m especially grateful to my wife Ann and my three kids.”
His extended speech — which thanked Clinton, introduced himself, and railed against Trump — stole the show, bringing the crowd to its feet at times and in solemn silence at others. He thanked naturalized citizens — a significant population in Miami — for being there, and spoke of his time as governor during the Virginia Tech shooting. … Kaine openly acknowledged his relative anonymity even in his own party. “Let’s be honest, for many of you this is the first time you’ve heard my name,” Kaine said.

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Democrats head to Philadelphia this week to formally select Clinton as their party’s nominee during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Here’s what you need to know before the first speaker hits the stage.

City of Brotherly Love: The Democratic National Convention runs from Monday through Thursday, July 28. The convention takes place at the Wells Fargo Center, the home of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers. The city knows a thing or two about hosting a convention; 2016 marks the 12th time Philadelphia has played host. And don’t forget the 1787 Constitutional Convention, where the U.S. Constitution was born.

Tune in: Want to watch all the action? C-SPAN will air the entire convention on both television and streaming. The networks will carry the event in primetime, and expect full-team coverage on cable news networks. You can also find it streaming on the web at or using the DNCC mobile app. When you should tune in depends on the day. The festivities start at 4 p.m. on Monday and at 4 p.m. on TuesdayOn Wednesday, the convention will gavel in at 4:30 p.m.; while it is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Presidents take the stage: Former President Clinton is set to take the stage on Tuesday night. His speech at the 2012 convention lasted more than 48 minutes, and he was dubbed the explainer-in-chief after he defended President Obama’s record. Will that moniker stick this time around? Or will the former president pass the torch to Obama, who is scheduled to speak on Wednesday. President Jimmy Carter is not expected to attend the convention, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported he will address the convention by video.

More speakers: If past and present occupants of the Oval Office aren’t enough for you, don’t worry. They aren’t the only big names on the schedule during the week-long convention. Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle ObamaChelsea Clinton, and Sens. Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown are set to take the stage. And Florida will be well represented when Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum takes the stage.

Why watch: After a week of pounding by the Republicans, it’s time to see how the Democrats punch back. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are two of the fiercest critics of Trump, so expect fiery speeches to rally progressives and take swing at Republicans. The convention is expected to be considerably more upbeat than the doom and gloom served up by the GOP last week.  It’s also a convention for the history books — quite literally. This election marks the first time a major party has chosen a woman as its presidential nominee.

BERNIE SANDERS TO SPEAK OPENING NIGHT via Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman of POLITICO – Sanders will give an opening-night address Monday at the convention. Per his campaign: “Sanders will stress that the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history includes agreements he reached with Clinton to dramatically expand health care access and to make public colleges tuition-free for students from families with annual incomes up to $125,000 a year … Sanders also plans to rip into Trump for siding with the Koch brothers and echoing fossil fuel industry claims that climate change is a hoax despite the virtually-unanimous scientific consensus that the warming planet is causing devastating harm. … Sanders also will send a message to the convention and to the 13 million voters who supported him that they have begun a political revolution to transform America and that the revolution – Our Revolution – continues. ‘Together,’ he will say, ‘we continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.'”

— “Michael Bloomberg to endorse Clinton during Wednesday night speech” via the New York Times

EXTREME HEAT EXPECTED FOR DNC via CBS News – The heat wave is expected to gain momentum this weekend and peak Monday, the convention’s first day, with temperatures possibly hitting 100 degrees, said Mitchell Gaines, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

AS CONVENTION LOOMS, SPLIT FLORIDA DEMOCRATS SEEK PEACE via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Some Florida delegates for Clinton and Sanders are still warily eyeing each other as they head to the Democratic National Convention … “I hope we will be unified,” said Sanders delegate Ricky Ly, 31. “But you never know. There are a lot of folks on our side still trying to make peace with the end.” Some Clinton supporters worry about the level of support for Clinton, while Sanders backers are concerned about how strongly Clinton will fight for their issues. “The big question is, where are the Sanders voters going to go?” said Lance deHaven-Smith, a public administration professor at Florida State University who closely follows state politics … For Orange County Democratic Chair Juan Perez, the four-day convention is about “unity, 100 percent … I think the Republican Party is absolutely fractured [with] Trump at the top of the ticket,” said Lopez, who is not a delegate but will attend the convention. “I know in the past, there were ‘Bernie or Bust’ folks, but I think a lot of that stuff has gone away. It doesn’t even exist in Democratic circles.”

HAPPENING TODAY — GWEN GRAHAM, DWS ADDRESS FLA. DELEGATION — Former Sen. Bob Graham, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, and state Rep. Stacey Abrams of Georgia will address the Florida delegation breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The convention starts at 4 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.


If you’re reading this in the wee hours of the morning when Peter generally delivers Sunurn to our inboxes, I’m likely on my way to MIA for a 7:25 am American flight to PHL. It’s the first day of #DNCC2016, but my partner at LSN Partners, Alex Heckler, and I have been convention planning for weeks (Alex flew up yesterday on a client’s  plane). To be fair, most of the planning has actually been done by Erin Hendrix, a longtime colleague at LSN who is far more organized than either of us, and likewise helped organized our trip to Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic Convention.

This is my third convention and it’s my third going with Heckler. He has been to every convention since 1996. It’s my first documenting the proceedings for the readers of Sunburn and What I hope to accomplish in that respect is to give Peter’s loyal readership an appropriately insider-y mis en scene of what it’s like to be at one of these partisan circuses for 96 hours. In 2008, the WSJ followed around Heckler and uber Clinton fundraiser, Chris Korge (with cameos from yours truly, and then Vice-Mayor, now Representative, Jared Moskowitz).

This will be kind of like that. But better.

If you’re looking for political analysis, turn on cable. If this is anything like DNCC’s past, I’ll only see or pay attention to the last 2-3 big speeches every night.

Every four years, we come to these weeklong clusters to nominate our party’s presidential candidate, network, take care of clients and donors, treat the ephemera of credentials and event tickets as precious gilt, and have a good time as thousands of fellow pols, reporters and other members of the chattering class descend on an unsuspecting U.S. city.

When I land in a couple hours it will be off to the races, running around the City of Brotherly Love and picking up the first day’s credentials from various hotels in and around Rittenhouse Square. By lunchtime me, Alex and Erin will be holed up in the bar or restaurant of a hotel lobby, sorting out the various credentials and event tickets we’ve acquired that morning, and figuring out which clients, donors and friends need passes to what, while also plotting out the events we’ll be attending that afternoon and evening. Erin has painstakingly compiled a 7 page PDF of all the events our friends, clients and donors are interested in of the 67 page “master list.”

I’m co-hosting an event with the Drug Policy Alliance, Congressman Earl Blumenaur, and the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp.

After that it’s likely off to actual convention for a while before we end Night 1 with “Late Night with the DGA (Democratic Governors Association)” and a late-late night hosted by our previously mentioned buddy, and fundraising godfather, Chris Korge.

If this goes off without a hitch, I’ll be back tomorrow with the first full installment of the “DNCC Insider.”

HERE’S HOW CLEVELAND COMPARED TO TAMPA AS GOP CONVENTION SITE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – This time — and not just because three different cheerful volunteers handed me free water and thanked me for coming to the convention — I had to admit Cleveland showed itself off better hosting the Republican National Convention than Tampa did four years ago. These are similarly sized cities, with nearly 400,000 people each, and both share similar something-to-prove attitudes that convention cities like New York or Philadelphia don’t. Both had bids to host a political convention rejected before they landed the GOP. Both have the challenge of limited downtown hotels and had to house some of the 50,000 conventioneers in less than convenient locations … What mainly set Cleveland apart was its downtown. In 2012, Tampa had a vast, fenced-in security zone surrounding the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the convention center — and not much immediately outside that security zone. Anyone who wanted to explore Tampa or grab a bite or a beer or hit a private party had to hoof it a long distance or drive. Cleveland had two separate, smaller security zones — one around the media center at the Cleveland Convention Center and the other around the Quicken Loans Arena, where all the speeches were held. Buses constantly shuttled thousands of reporters back and forth. Immediately outside the arena, restaurants set up tents to serve local specialties, beer and booze, and bands played. Downtown Tampa is undergoing a renaissance and building boom, but it hasn’t grown as much as Cleveland, which has seen dramatic revitalization in the two decades since the Cavs decided to move downtown. In Cleveland, visitors easily came and went from the security zone to find nearby restaurants or shops. “It’s a totally different feel than Tampa, very inviting,” said USF political scientist Susan MacManus, who lived in Cleveland about 20 years ago. “Cleveland has a vibrancy that’s relatively new.”

MORE THOUGHT GOP CONVENTION WAS A DISASTER via Taegan Goddard of the Political Wire – A new RABA Research poll finds that 37% of Americans considered the Republican National Convention “a disaster,” while just 24% called it a “success.” Women voters called the convention a “disaster” instead of a “success” by a 3 to 1 margin. Among young voters, a whopping 55% called the convention a “disaster,” as opposed to just 13% calling it a “success.”

HACKED EMAILS SHOW DEMOCRATIC PARTY HOSTILITY TO SANDERS via the Associated Press – A cache of more than 19,000 emails from Democratic party officials … details the acrimonious split between the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s former rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Several emails posted by Wikileaks on its document disclosure website show DNC officials scoffing at Sanders and his supporters and in one instance, questioning his commitment to his Jewish religion. Some emails also show DNC and White House officials mulling whether to invite guests with controversial backgrounds to Democratic party events. Although Wikileaks’ posting of the emails Friday did not disclose the identity of who provided the private material, those knowledgeable about the breach said last month that Russian hackers had penetrated the DNC computer system. At the time, DWasserman Schultz said the breach was a “serious incident” and a private contractor hired to sweep the organization’s network had “moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.” On its web page, Wikileaks said the new cache of emails came from the accounts of “seven key figures in the DNC” and warned that the release was “part one of our new Hillary Leaks series” – an indication that more material might be published soon. Among the officials whose emails were made public were DNC spokesman Luis Miranda, national finance director Jordon Kaplan and finance chief Scott Comer, but other DNC and media figures and even some White House officials communicated with them between January 2015 and last May, Wikileaks said.

— “Top DNC staffer apologizes for email on Sanders’ religion” via Kristen East of POLITICO

DWS STEPS DOWN AS DNC CHAIR via POLITICO — The controversial chair of the Democratic National Committee … announced Sunday she would resign at the end of her party’s convention this week, a victim of her toxic relationship with peers and a trove of embarrassing internal emails. “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals [of winning the presidency for Hillary Clinton] is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention,” Wasserman Schultz said in a written statement.



DWS STRUGGLED TO GET 7 TICKETS TO HAMILTON via Bianca Padró Ocasio of POLITICO – According to an email thread released on WikiLeaks, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman tried to acquire seven tickets to the award-winning Broadway show, but she was told the order might be too big to fill. “I am planning a trip with my college roommates in December to NYC. It is for our 50th birthdays. Can you help me get 7 tickets to Hamilton from our friend who did the FR?” She asked DNC finance director Allen Zachary in late May. Zachary said it would be very difficult to get that many tickets, suggesting they sit in separate areas or go on different nights. “I’ve never seen an order of 7 fulfilled, I have seen as many as 4. Would you guys be willing to split up 4 and 3?” He said. “We would want to go on the same night but we don’t have to sit all together,” Wasserman Schultz responded. … The thread ends with the issue unresolved.

TWEET, TWEET: @PhilipRucker: Trump announces aggressive campaign swing w/ Pence this week, including 8 pm Monday rally — daring TV nets to cut away from DNC in Philly.

DONALD TRUMP COMING TO MIAMI FOR POSTPONED HISPANIC LUNCHEON via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Trump will come to Miami Tuesday to have lunch with Hispanic leaders … The roundtable luncheon was postponed earlier this month after the deadly shootings of Dallas police officers. It’s unclear if Tuesday’s plans will mirror the ones from July 8, when Trump was supposed to sit down with pastors, politicians and other Latino community leaders at Versailles Cuban restaurant. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had planned to attend, in what would have been his first campaign event with Trump. Trump had also planned a rally that day, but his new schedule doesn’t mention one. It also mentions no luncheon details.

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THE STATE OF THE RACE — The latest FiveThirtyEight forecast shows Clinton winning 290 electoral votes to Trump’s 247. Trump now has a 41% chance to win the election. For comparison, The Upshot gives Trump a 26% chance to win and Sam Wang gives Trump a 20% chance.


DAYS UNTIL: Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 1; Early voting begins in primaries – 25; Primary elections – 35; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 7; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 77; Absentees sent in General Election – 70; Early voting begins in General Election — 95; General Election – 105.

MARCO RUBIO’S ABSENCE FROM INTELLIGENCE, FOREIGN AFFAIRS BRIEFINGS RETURNS AS SENATE CAMPAIGN ISSUE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In his Senate re-election bid, Rubio is having to defend himself on an issue that dogged him during his failed presidential campaign: his absence from Senate intelligence and national security briefings. He’s fending off those attacks with the same rebuttal he used on the GOP presidential primary campaign trail, dismissing his critics as lacking the understanding as to how such sensitive information is shared with him and his Senate colleagues. “The briefings are where you have a chance to ask questions, but the vast and overwhelming majority of intelligence information that we receive and the president receives is not verbal,” Rubio told POLITICO Florida …  He said he reviews intelligence information “every single day,” and a vast majority of that information does not come in hearings, but reading materials … Rubio missed 20 of 23 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meetings between Oct. 2015 and March 2016, the time he was campaigning for president. In February … Rubio had missed hundreds of hearings – seven in 10 – on four different Senate committees he joined as freshman lawmaker 2010 … published data show that Rubio actually missed 19 Senate Foreign Relations Committee meetings that were held the very same day of the Senate Intelligence Committee meetings – meaning he was absent at both meetings where classified information was discussed. The missed intelligence committee briefings, mostly held behind closed doors, focused on issues like the Obama administration’s response to the Syrian Conflict, a review of State Department budget requests, updates on the military campaign against ISIS, and Afghanistan intelligence assessments, records show.

HAPPENING TODAY: Republican Neal Dunn, candidate for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, hosts a fundraising reception beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Haughty Heron, 117 Sailors Cove Dr. in Port St. Joe. Information and RSVP with Ieva Smidt at 850-567-8022 or

SUSANNAH RANDOLPH ROLLS OUT NEW AD DURING CONVENTION — The new advertisement aims to highlight Randolph’s progressive background. “Susannah Randolph is a community leader who fought Republican cuts to schools and expanded women’s healthcare. In Congress, Randolph will vote to raise the minimum wage, give workers paid sick leave, and protect Social Security,” an announcer says in the 30-second spot called “The Hillary in Our House,” which features her daughter, Hillary. The advertisement is scheduled to air for the first time during the Democratic National Convention.

JUSTIN GRABELLE RELEASES FIRST TELEVISION ADVERTISEMENT IN CD 11 — In a 30-second spot, Grabelle talks about his brother, who was on the USS Cole when it was attacked. “Now, sixteen years later, it’s clear we’re no safer and have no strategy to stop the spread of terrorism. We must defeat ISIS; plain and simple. Let’s make America safe by standing up to those who pose a threat to our way of life,” he says in the advertisement. The Ocala Republican faces Daniel Webster in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. The Republican primary is Aug. 30.

REBECCA NEGRON CAMPAIGN BOOSTED BY PRIVATE PRISON BACKED COMMITTEE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The super PAC, Conservative Congress Now, started raising money last month and reported $65,000 in contributions on its July quarterly campaign finance reports. Of that, $50,000 came from The Geo Group, the Boca Raton-based prisons company that has 104 facilities across the country. The remaining money came from law firms Lytel, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, Search, Denney, Scarola et al., and Swope, Rodante P.A. Each firm gave $5,000. The group has done more than $20,000 in mail pieces, and reserved at least $42,0000 in TV time, with ads set to start running through Aug. 3. The television ads are being cut by Public Concepts LLC., the Republican firm led by veteran Florida strategists Randy Nielsen and Richard Johnston. Negron’s campaign is also running its own ads. She has reserved at least $240,000 to run television spots through the Aug. 30 primary. Negron is running for the 18th Congressional District seat vacated by Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is running for Senate.

FEDERAL CONTRACTS GO TO INELIGIBLE FRANCIS ROONEY FIRM via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – A subsidiary of Rooney‘s national construction and real estate company received federal contracts meant for small businesses that it didn’t qualify for …  The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based equipment business, OAI Electronics Inc., received $8.8 million in federal contracts since 1996, including at least $2 million identified in federal spending data for contracts meant to help small businesses, according to federal contract records. OAI, however, did not qualify until at least 2013 as a small business because it was part of Rooney Holdings, which bought it out of bankruptcy in a federal case closed in 1994, records show. Rooney’s daughter, Kathleen Rooney, took over OAI in 2012 and restructured it as a woman-owned small business based in a disadvantaged area, receiving special certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration. That move made it eligible for contracts from federal agencies looking to give work to qualified small businesses. But that designation is questionable, according to one expert, because of Kathleen Rooney’s work with Rooney Holdings, an investment company known for its construction and real estate businesses that generates more than $1 billion a year in revenue. Rooney Holdings still owns 49 percent of OAI, Kathleen Rooney is an equal owner with her father and other family members of Rooney Holdings, and she sits on the boards of both OAI and Rooney Holdings. It’s not clear how many of the federal small business contracts, awarded over more than 20 years, went to Rooney’s subsidiary. Rooney and his companies’ leaders say they did not intentionally break any rules.

JASON PIZZO RELEASES HIS FIRST AD IN SD 38 RACE — In the 30-second spot, called “Leadership,” Pizzo pledges to fight for common sense gun legislation if he’s elected in Senate District 38. “As a former state prosecutor, I took on criminals who exploited our seniors and those who brought pain to our children and their families. As your state senator, I will fight for common sense laws that take illegal guns off our streets.” Pizzo faces Democrats Anis BlemurKevin A. BurnsDaphne CampbellDon Festge, and Michael Gongora in Senate District 38.

HD 4 HOPEFUL WAYNE HARRIS MIGHT CALL HIMSELF ‘TAX CUTTER,’ BUT HE IS ANYTHING BUT via Florida Politics – A recent mailer to voters in HD 4 boasts Harris as an “Emerald Coast tax cutter.” But after a closer look, it becomes increasingly difficult to describe Harris in those terms … During his time as an Okaloosa County Commissioner, Harris voted several times to raise property taxes. Case in point: a 2013 meeting where he attempted to ramrod a millage rate increase of .1409 mills in the 2013-2014 budget. In the meeting held July 30, 2013, minutes show Harris sought to set the tentative millage rate at 3.4308 mills and approve a five-cent gas increase. At the time, District 4 Commissioner Don Amunds requested the issues be addressed separately, but Harris would have none of that; he motioned to increase the millage rate from 3.2899 mills to 3.4308 mills. Harris eventually got his way, making the motion that was seconded by Commissioner Nathan Boyles, to set the tentative millage rate at 3.4308 mills. The final vote was to pass the tax increase, with three yeas and two commissioners – Amunds and [KellyWindes – voting no. It’s also worth noting that since 2008, Harris has been a vocal advocate for increasing gas taxes, declaring that although it may be “political suicide” to support a five-cent increase in gas taxes, the county needed the advantage for improving its aging infrastructure. Harris made another stunning admission – it may be necessary to make political promises on the campaign trail and change those positions after getting in office. Harris [blasted]commissioners for not immediately approving a tax increase, saying that they were “holding this organization hostage.” He then called on colleagues to “do the right thing” by boosting the tax rate. Harris’s record on taxes – as well as his ostensible readiness to change his mind once elected – begs the question: is this really someone who can legitimately claim the title “tax cutter?”


Ed Narain, running for Senate District 19, has been endorsed by the Florida Sentinel Bulletin.

Matt Hudson, running for Senate District 28, has been recommended by the Lehigh Acres Gazette and Fort Myers Independent.

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THE WORST THING YOU’LL READ TODAY — MOTHER OF MISSING MIAMI TODDLER STUNS COURT: ‘SHE IS DEAD’ via David Ovalle and Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald – As Miami homicide detectives urgently searched for missing toddler Angela Dufrene, her mother made a stunning admission in court this week. “She is dead,” Marjorie Dufrene calmly told a Miami-Dade judge … “She is no longer with us.” The shocking revelation in court came just hours before Miami police issued a bulletin asking for the public’s help in finding Angela, who might have vanished at least eight months ago in November. The girl’s disappearance was discovered this week after an anonymous abuse tip spurred an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families … the mother detailed to police and child-welfare investigators several versions of the child’s fate, including that the child suffered a fatal fall, and Dufrene later discarded the body in a North Miami-Dade dumpster. Because of the conflicting statements, investigators still hold hope the toddler might be alive. If she is, Angela would be 2 years old. She has a twin brother, who has now been placed in a foster home. Frustrated detectives have little to work with — so far, not even a photo of the little girl has been unearthed — but the search remains ongoing. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman appeared troubled that the DCF office in Broward had not been monitoring the family. The agency had a long history with Dufrene, who had lost custody of three of her other children after an arrest in 2013. Broward County is unique in Florida: Child abuse investigations all are conducted by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Legal decisions are overseen by the State Attorney General’s office. And, foster care and adoption services are supervised by a private provider, ChildNet. Dufrene, 30, is a mother of five who works at Dunkin’ Donuts. She has not been charged with any crime and has been cooperating with police.

MORE GREAT JOURNALISM FROM CAROL MARBIN MILLER — MOM OF AUTISTIC MAN AT CENTER OF CHARLES KINSEY SHOOTING: MY SON IS TRAUMATIZED via the Miami Herald – It would be hours before 60-year-old Gladys Soto learned the truth: Her son, Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto, had wandered away from his North Miami group home. His behavior aide, a man Rios loved, had been shot by police as he desperately tried to warn them that Rios had autism, was not a danger to anyone, and was wielding a toy truck, not a gun. As Charles Kinsey lay on the ground, hands raised above him in a sign of abject submission, a bullet from a police sniper pierced his leg. The head of Miami-Dade’s police union later insisted the bullet had been meant for Rios. “I feel like my wings have been cut off, and it’s the end of everything,” Soto [said]. “It’s too emotional to see your baby caught up in something like this.” It was more than her son could endure, as well. On Tuesday, Rios wandered yet again. He returned to the blood-stained sidewalk where his caregiver had been shot the day before and threw himself to the ground, his mother said. Rocking rhythmically, he shouted: “I hate the police. I hate the police.” Rios has been in the psychiatric wing of Aventura Hospital since then, said Soto, who visited her son Friday night. For days, Rios had remained hospitalized in the same dirty clothes and blood-stained jacket he was wearing when his image was seared into the national debate about race and policing and the senseless shooting of unarmed men.

FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via – As of Friday, there were 19 new travel-related cases with three in Orange, two in Hillsborough, two in Osceola, two in Seminole, two in Volusia, one in Broward, one in Miami-Dade, one in Okeechobee, one in Palm Beach, one in Pasco, one in Polk, one in St. Johns and one involving a pregnant woman. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are now 306 total cases in Florida; by county (number of cases): Miami Dade (93), Broward (51), Orange (36), Osceola (17), Palm Beach (15), Seminole (11), Polk (11), Hillsborough (9), Pinellas (7), Brevard (6), Duval (6), Lee (6), Pasco (6), Alachua (5), Volusia (5), Collier (4), Clay (3), St. Johns (3), Citrus (2) and a single case each in Charlotte, Escambia, Highlands, Lake, Manatee, Martin, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Santa Rosa and St. Lucie with 47 cases involving pregnant women.

FIRST ON SAINTPETERSBLOG.COM — PASCO COUNTY MAN RECEIVES FIRST DELIVERY OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA via Anne Lindberg – A Pasco County man suffering from Dystonia with Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms became the first Florida patient to receive a delivery of medical marijuana today from Trulieve, a medical cannabis dispensary. The delivery came days after Trulieve became the first dispensary to receive formal authorization from the state Department of Health to both grow and dispense low THC-medical cannabis. “Honoring our commitment to a statewide delivery service, we are pleased and proud to announce that the very first patient in the state has received low-THC medical cannabis,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said. Now that the first patient has received medical cannabis, Rivers said Trulieve would begin in-store sales of medical marijuana at its Tallahassee facility within the next few days. It will be the first such dispensary in Florida. Patients won’t have to travel to the state capitol to receive the drug. Trulieve will provide statewide delivery of low-THC cannabis immediately. Trulieve will also have high-THC medical marijuana available beginning in early August.

marijuana pic

ICYMI: FLORIDA’S JOBLESS RATE REMAINS STEADY, NO CHANGE IN JUNE via The Associated Press – State officials announced that the state’s jobless rate was 4.7 percent in June. That’s the same rate as it was in May, although it’s lower than the national jobless rate of 4.9 percent. Florida added 9,800 jobs in June. Gov. Scott announced the jobless numbers during a stop at Port Tampa Bay …  Scott emphasized the total number of private sector jobs added since January not the June slowdown. Monroe County, home to Key West, had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.1 percent. Hendry County had the highest at 10 percent.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth at 10:30 a.m. at JetSmart Inc., 500 E. Broward Blvd., 19th floor in Fort Lauderdale.

FLORIDA’S JOBS AGENCY GIVES CHECKS TO DEPARTING EMPLOYEES via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Amid a major shakeup pushed by Gov. Scott, the Florida agency responsible for luring jobs to the state is paying nearly a half-million dollars to departing employees. Florida taxpayers are picking up the majority of the cost for severance payments and payouts for unused leave … 10 departing employees at Enterprise Florida are receiving more than $430,000. Rank-and-file state workers are not allowed to receive severance payments, but employees at Enterprise Florida aren’t considered state workers even though taxpayers pick up most of the tab for the economic development organization. Many Enterprise Florida employees — including the president and CEO— have resigned or were forced out as part of an overhaul initiated by Scott, who also serves as the chairman of the Enterprise Florida board. Bill Johnson, the head of the organization who appears to have been forced to resign earlier this year, received a severance check of $132,500 and he also was paid more than $14,000 for unused leave … private donations were used to pay Johnson. Nine other employees at Enterprise Florida — ranging from an office manager to a senior vice president — received severance payments paid from public money that ranged from $5,000 to $60,000. Two senior vice presidents were given nearly $30,000 in lump sum payments for unused leave.

FLORIDA WORKERS COMP CHALLENGE SEEKS U.S. SUPREME COURT REVIEW via Stephanie Goldberg of – The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review a challenge of the constitutionality of Florida’s workers’ compensation system in a case on which the state Supreme Court declined to rule … Miami attorney Mark Zientz petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a writ of certiorari in Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital. The case questions whether Florida’s workers’ comp system is an adequate exclusive remedy for injured workers following changes that eliminated permanent partial disability benefits. One question in the petition … asks if Florida’s workers comp law violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “in a case where no benefits can be awarded to an injured worker to cover … partial loss of future wage earning capacity.” Despite originally accepting jurisdiction, the Florida Supreme Court in April unanimously decided not to review the case “after further consideration and hearing oral argument.”

SCOOP — SPEAKER TO BE CHRIS SPROWLS LEAVES STATE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE FOR PRIVATE PRACTICE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The 32-year-old Palm Harbor Republican expected to serve as Speaker of the Florida House said he had joined the firm of Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney. The decision marks the end of a seven-year career with the State Attorney’s Office for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. “We’re going to miss him,” said State Attorney Bernie McCabeSprowls … said he decided to make the leap because he wanted to try his hand at civil law. He said he would work predominantly in the real estate and litigation practice groups at BIR … During his time as a prosecutor, he tried dozens of jury trials, many involving violent crimes. One of the most notable cases of his career was the conviction of William Hurst for the 1982 murder of his wife, Amy. The decision may also give Sprowls a bit more time to focus on his legislative career.

FIRST IN SUNBURN — FLORIDA VIRTUAL SCHOOL ENTREPRENEUR ED MANSOURI TO FOCUS ON NEW WEATHERSTEM TECH PROJECT via Florida Politics – Mansouri, the nationally renowned software pioneer who developed the cutting-edge learning management system used by the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) since 2003, will be transitioning away at the end of this year, after a proud partnership with FLVS, to focus his efforts more fully on his equally impressive new WeatherSTEM educational technology. Mansouri will continue working closely with FLVS leadership to position the online institution for ongoing success with its new learning management system partner. Weather data-gathering units installed all over the state by Mansouri’s organization inform the WeatherSTEM website and mobile application to provide real-time, localized temperature, humidity and lightning measurements. Mansouri and his team also have been developing curriculum for Florida’s K-12 students in the topical domains of weather and agriculture, with the content driven by live data from weather stations placed at local schools. His vision and generosity translated to donating and installing a WeatherSTEM unit in at least one school in each of Florida’s 67 counties, as requests from other schools, emergency operations centers, farms and universities keep rolling in.

APPOINTEDFrank Ledee to South Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners.


Brian Ballard, Wansly Walters, Ballard Partners: G4S Secure Solutions

Chris Moya, Emily Buckley, Jennifer Ungru, Jones Walker: American Sportfishing Association

Allison Kinney: Springleaf General Services, Inc.

Jeff Littlejohn, Littlejohn Mann & Associates: American Water Works Association, Town of Palm Beach

Michael Nachef: Lee Memorial Health System

***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.***

HEMINGWAY (NO RELATION) WINS LOOK-ALIKE CONTEST IN KEY WEST via Reuters – For the first time in its 36-year history, a Hemingway has won a competition seeking the man who most looks like literary giant Ernest Hemingway. Dave Hemingway was named the winner of the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on Saturday in Key West, Florida. The winner said he is not related to the late author. The contest, which attracted 140 entrants, is the highlight event of the annual Hemingway Days festival that celebrates the author’s legacy. It was held at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which was a frequent hangout of Hemingway’s during his Key West residency in the 1930s.


TALLAHASSEE’S PRESS CENTER LOSES HALL OF FAME PHOTOS TO POYNTER INSTITUTE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Since 1988, the tan three-story building in downtown Tallahassee has been the home-away-from-home for many of the state’s newspapers, wire services and television and radio stations. But the Florida Press Association sold the College Avenue property in late 2014, saying it no longer wanted to be a landlord. Even before the sale, the News Service of Florida vacated its space for another nearby building. Later, the First Amendment Association, the state’s open government watchdog, also moved to alternate offices in Tallahassee. Now, it’s also lost a chunk of history. Gone are the portraits that hung on the walls of the building’s news conference room. They depicted the members of the Florida Newspaper Hall of Fame, recognizing “individuals who have rendered outstanding service in the field of newspaper journalism in Florida.” Among them are FLORIDA TODAY and USA TODAY founder Al Neuharth and legendary United Press International Florida bureau chief Barbara Frye. The Capitol Press Corps’ scholarship program is named after her. The photos were packed up and shipped to St. Petersburg, says Florida Press Association CEO Dean Ridings. “They are moving to their new permanent home at Poynter,” he said, referring to the nonprofit journalism education organization.

WHAT JON COSTELLO IS READING — FORMER TUCKER DUKE’S OWNER, ‘CUTTHROAT KITCHEN’ STAR ARRESTED ON TAX CHARGES via Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat – Brian Cartenuto, a two-time winner of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” was arrested on charges he failed to pay sales tax while he was owner of the former Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox restaurant on College Avenue. Court documents say the 35-year-old didn’t pay nearly $22,000 in sales tax owed to the state over a five-month period from October 2014 to February 2015. The business closed after a small kitchen fire left $15,000 in damage in February 2015. Cartenuto … was booked at the Palm Beach County Jail and released hours later after posting bail. Tucker Duke’s was in operation only six months at the longtime spot of Po Boys on East College Avenue, now the location of the Southern Public House. It opened in August 2014, boasting its eclectic burgers, craft beer offerings, sliders and sandwiches. But an investigation by the Florida Department of Revenue said Cartenuto, who was responsible for the restaurant’s finances, stopped paying sales tax two months after the restaurant opened. A review of business bank accounts showed Cartenuto “had enough funds in the account to pay the Department of Revenue the taxes due during this period.”

FIRST JUSTICE LEAGUE TRAILER IS A MASSIVE CHANGE IN TONE FOR BATMAN via the LA Times  Batfleck’s got jokes! The first ever “Justice League” trailer is here, and it is heavy, heavy, heavy on the rock and roll and superhero jokes. But don’t worry, Ben Affleck is still doing the bat voice. Watch as Ben Affleck’s Batman assembles the ultimate DC hero squad in the first trailer for “Justice League,” which was released during the Warner Bros. panel at Comic-Con.

WONDER WOMAN TRAILER AS WONDERFUL AS YOU HOPED via Scott Menderson of Forbes – Say what you will about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the consensus was that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman stole the show, or at least stole the film’s action climax just by showing up. Part of that was merely because it was the first time we got to see Wonder Woman on the big screen. … And now we have our first trailer for Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman. … I remember the thrill of seeing Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man on opening night in 2002, the weird notion that yes, after all these years of legal wrangling and near-misses, I was watching a Spider-Man movie. And that was fourteen years ago, during which time we’ve had two “new” Spider-Man franchises. And now, fourteen years after that long wait, we’re finally getting a Wonder Woman movie.

CBS UNVEILS STAR TREK DISCOVERY AND A FIRST LOOK AT ITS SHIP via Jacob Kastrenakes of The Verge – At long, long last, Star Trek is making its way back to TV, and today we’re getting a first look. Alongside this afternoon’s Star Trek panel at Comic-Con, CBS put out a teaser showing the new series’ subject: a new Starfleet ship called the USS Discovery. The show is also getting a proper name today, Star Trek Discovery.

GUY RITCHIE DEBUTS HIS KING ARTHUR MOVIE, EMPHASIS ON THE GUY via Beth Eldurkin of – The director of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie, has finally revealed a look at his latest movie, the period action epic King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. And it’s pretty much what you’d expect: It’s Guy Ritchie in Medieval Times. It’s got everything you think a Medieval epic wouldn’t. Fast GoPro-style camera work, a faux-hawked Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) sarcastically charming his way from “the streets” to the throne. On the other hand, there are definitely a few additions that make absolute sense, namely Game of Thrones veterans Michael McElhatton and Aidan Gillen.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, the incredibly classy Melissa Dempsey.

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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