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Sunburn for 10.04.16 – Low-key VP candidates get debate spotlight

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

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

Donald Trump can swallow an entire news cycle with a single tweet. Hillary Clinton‘s been on a first-name basis with the country for three decades.

Mike Pence and Tim Kaine? Not so much.

Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate pits a former radio host who’s described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” (Pence) against a harmonica-playing former missionary whose aw-shucks style has spawned a thousand dad jokes (Kaine).

Barring the unexpected, their 90-minute faceoff is unlikely to alter the trajectory of the presidential race.

But don’t hit the snooze button just yet. Debate history suggests there’s still the potential for some memorable moments.

Some things to watch for in tonight’s debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

— Say who? —

Pence and Kaine have campaigned full tilt for more than two months now, but plenty of people still don’t have a feel for them. In a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, more than half of registered voters said they didn’t know enough about Kaine to venture an opinion about him, and about 44 percent said the same for Pence. This is their big moment to show they’re qualified to be next in line to the president.

— Scout motto —

Trump may disdain traditional debate prep, but Kaine and Pence both have embraced the Scout motto: Be prepared. Each must be ready to defend his own record, skewer his opponent and do the same for the top of the ticket.

— The mission —

Pence and Kaine have to decide whether to focus more on one another or on Trump and Clinton. Watch how they toggle between the two tasks. Look for Pence, who calls Clinton “the most dishonest person ever to seek the presidency,” to zero in on lines of attack that Trump hardly touched in the first debate, such as questions about whether Clinton played favorites as secretary of state with donors to the Clinton Foundation. Kaine will try to act as a character witness for Clinton and go after Trump, of whom the senator says his “only recognized passion in his life has been for himself.”

— Defending the indefensible —

Pence will have the added herculean task of explaining away the steady stream of insults, barbs and inflammatory comments delivered by his running mate, including the latest contretemps over a beauty queen whom Trump has shamed for gaining weight. Pence has had plenty of practice in recent weeks. Expect him to employ a strategy of praising Trump for his unscripted style as a “bold truth teller” without arguing the merits of the GOP nominee’s specific comments.

— The Tax Man —

Pence could well be asked about Trump’s tax strategy after The New York Times reported over the weekend that the billionaire businessman lost so much money in a single year that he could have avoided any federal income tax liability for 18 years. With an audience of millions, will Pence echo Trump’s claims that he used the tax laws “brilliantly?” or try some other tack?

— Threading the needle —

Both candidates may need to navigate areas where they have policy differences with their running mates; Pence more so than Kaine. Pence, for example, says it’s clear that human activity is affecting the climate while Trump has called global warming a hoax. Kaine holds that U.S. military operations against the Islamic State group have not been properly approved by Congress, a point of disagreement with Clinton.

— Amen corner —

Expect both Pence, an evangelical, and Kaine, a former Catholic missionary, to showcase their religious backgrounds in an effort to appeal to different constituencies. Pence likes to say of himself: “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican — in that order.” Kaine often brings up his time as a missionary in Honduras, working in a few lines of Spanish along the way to reach out to Hispanics.

— Too clever —

Past vice presidential debates have provided some memorable lines. Republican Bob Dole’s cutting quip in 1976 about all the Americans killed in “Democrat wars” did him no good. Democrat Lloyd Bentsen‘s 1988 putdown of Republican Dan Quayle with his “You’re no Jack Kennedy” line still singes. Third-party candidate James Stockdale‘s rambling 1992 opening questions of “Who am I? Why am I here?” captured a candidate who was clearly out of his element. Four years ago, Vice President Joe Biden‘s denunciations of Republican Paul Ryan‘s budget math as “a bunch of malarkey” showed considerably more spark than did President Barack Obama’s leaden performance against rival Mitt Romney in the leadoff presidential debate.

— Moderation —

CBS News’ Elaine Quijano will be under the microscope as moderator, especially since Trump has complained that NBC’s Lester Holt, the moderator of last week’s debate, was too tough on him.

HOW TIM KAINE IS PREPARING FOR TUESDAY’S VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE via Jessica Hopper of ABC News – “I’m calm,” Kaine said of his upcoming debate with Pence. “Things work out the way they are supposed to.” But behind the calm is intense preparation. Longtime Democratic campaign aide Mo Elleithee has informally given Kaine thoughts and advice as he prepares for this week’s debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia … Elleithee said Kaine usually begins his debate prep by working alone, reading and absorbing information, before he engages in mock debates. He said Kaine thinks about the debate format and the best way to use that format to make his arguments. “He doesn’t have a pair of lucky debate socks or anything crazy,” Elleithee said. “He takes his prep seriously, spends a lot of time thinking about how he wants to frame the arguments he wants to make.”

Kaine spent the past few days prepping in Raleigh, North Carolina, and his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Washington, D.C., attorney Robert Barnett is playing Pence in Kaine’s mock debates. Members of Clinton’s prep team as well as Kaine’s staffers have been involved in his debate preparations. Kaine has described this debate as a unique challenge. “It’s a different kind of a debate for me because I have done debates where it’s, at the end of it, ‘Please vote for Tim Kaine.’ If I talk too much about Tim Kaine during my debate, I’m wasting my time. It would not be a good way to use my time, and it is about two visions for the country …” Elleithee predicted that Pence and Kaine will spend more time discussing their running mates’ records than their own. Elleithee described it as a “proxy debate for the top of the ticket.”

— “How Tim Kaine helped a student-loan giant fight Obama reforms” via Michael Stratford of POLITICO

— “What really caused Mike Pence to swear off negative campaigning” via Matthew Nussbaum and Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO

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DAYS UNTIL: First day of early voting – 24; Election Day – 34; first Legislative Organization Session – 48; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 72; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 153.

WHY DONALD TRUMP WILL DO BETTER IN OHIO THAN HE DOES NATIONALLY AND WHY THAT DOESN’T GURANTEE HE’LL WIN THE STATE via Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball — For the first time since 1960, Ohio could be one the losing end of a presidential election. According to the team at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, if Hillary Clinton wins Ohio, she’ll be president. And if Trump becomes president, Ohio will vote for him. But the report found that “if Hillary Clinton wins by just a small margin nationally, the state could easily back Trump in a loss.” The reason? An analysis by Sabato’s Crystal Ball found history and demographics suggest Trump will perform better in the Buckeye State than he will nationally, similar to what happened to Richard Nixon in 1960.

The Buckeye State has vote for the winning presidential candidate since 1964, and 35 of the 40 Democrat versus Republican two-party era elections going back to 1856. According to the report, Ohio has “at least a little bit of a Republican lean.” In all five elections where it didn’t vote for the winner, Ohio voted for and losing Republican. According to the report, Ohio’s demographics suggest Trump could outperform his national margin. Ohio’s electorate is 80 percent white, higher than the national average of about 70 percent. Trump is performing better among whites who don’t have bachelor’s degrees, something that could be in Trump’s favor in Ohio. The report found 26 percent of Ohioan have a bachelor’s degree, while 29 percent of Americans over the age of 25 have one.

POST-DEBATE FLORIDA POLL: HILLARY CLINTON 46, TRUMP 41, GARY JOHNSON 5 via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post– A new Quinnipiac University poll shows her moving from a tie to a 46-to-41 percent lead among likely voters with Libertarian Johnson getting 5 percent. Quinnipiac’s last Florida poll, released Sept. 8, showed Clinton and Trump dead even at 43 percent in Florida with Johnson at 8 percent. Florida voters say, by a 56-to-21 percent margin, that Clinton won last week’s debate. That opinion was shared by 54 percent of independents and 27 percent of Republicans. Quinnipiac’s poll of 545 Florida likely voters, conducted Sept. 27 through Oct. 2, has a 4.2 percent margin of error. In Florida, the average of polls showed the race a virtual tie between Clinton and Trump before last week’s debate. Since the debate, Clinton has led by 4 in a Mason-Dixon poll and by 1 point in a Fox 13/Opinion Savvy survey before today’s Quinnipiac release.

TRUMP REALLY, REALLY NEEDS TO WIN FLORIDA via Harry Enten of – Florida has a 19 percent chance of providing the decisive vote in the Electoral College according to our polls-only forecast. It’s the most likely “tipping-point state” … That’s up from 16 percent just two weeks ago. There’s only one other state with a better than 10 percent chance of casting the decisive electoral vote: Pennsylvania, at 12 percent. Florida tends to be a crucial battleground state in presidential elections … but it’s become even more pivotal in recent weeks in the race between Clinton and Trump. Clinton has improved her position nationally and in Florida, but she’s made a bit more progress in the Sunshine State, moving it closer to the national average. Clinton leads by about 3 percentage points nationally and by about 1 point in Florida …

If he loses Florida, Trump wins the presidency only 5 percent of the time according to our polls-only forecast. (Clinton, on the other hand, wins the election 33 percent of the time without a victory in Florida.) Considering that Clinton has led in every post-debate survey in Florida and has a small lead there in our polls-only forecast, you can understand why Clinton is currently a favorite to win the election.

Florida has two basic things going for it that make it so pivotal. The first … is how closely the state mirrors the national vote. It’s about 2 or 3 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the country at the moment … The other factor that makes Florida important is its large population. None of the states listed in the previous paragraph besides Florida has more than 20 electoral votes. Florida has 29. It’s possible, therefore, for a candidate to lose smaller swing states and make up for those losses by winning in Florida.

WITH CUBAN EXILE LEADERS MUM, CLINTON LAUNCHES MIAMI RADIO ATTACK AD OVER TRUMP’S EMBARGO-BREAKING via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In a sign of the “uncomfortable” spot Trump has put them in, the Miami Republican leaders who support a hard line on Cuba don’t want to talk about a news story detailing how one of the GOP presidential nominee’s companies helped violate the U.S. embargo of the communist island … Clinton is making sure voters hear all about it in South Florida — home to a sizable population of pro-embargo Republican Cuban-Americans — in a 30-second radio ad called “Two Trumps.” “One Donald comes to Miami to sip cafecito Cubano and talk about the human rights abuses of Castro’s communist regime. The other Donald thinks because of his money and his business that he’s above the law,” the ad says in English and Spanish … for Republican leaders, criticizing Trump runs the risk of depressing support for the nominee in Miami-Dade County, where 72 percent of the 366,000 Republicans are Hispanic and nearly all are Cuban-American.

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MARCO RUBIO HAS 7-POINT LEAD OVER PATRICK MURPHY IN NEW POLL via Florida Politics — The Mason-Dixon poll showed 47 percent of likely voters said they backed Sen. Rubio, compared to 40 percent who picked Rep. Murphy. Five percent of respondents said they would vote for Libertarian Paul Stanton, while 6 percent said they were undecided. The most recent poll was conducted from Sept. 27 through Sept. 29. The poll included 820 likely Florida voters and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent. The survey found 46 percent of independent voters backed Rubio, while 38 percent backed Murphy. Rubio also carries a larger share of Hispanic voters, with 53 percent saying they supported Rubio. The survey found 38 percent of Hispanic voters said they were backing Murphy.

MURPHY DRAWS ANOTHER $3.3 MILLION, RUBIO HELPED BY OUTSIDE GROUPS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The latest fundraising puts the two-term Jupiter member of Congress at close to $14.5 million collected for the race. Rubio, however, has been aided by more than $15 million in spending against Murphy by groups including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association and Koch brothers-financed organizations. Only $3.1 million has been spent against Rubio, mostly by labor unions supporting Murphy. “It is clear that Floridians are ready for a Senator who shows up and fights for them in the U.S. Senate,” said Murphy, echoing themes from TV spots he’s airing which blast Rubio’s poor attendance record in the U.S. Senate.

RUBIO TO MILLENNIALS: I LOOK FORWARD TO SERVING IN THE SENATE ‘OVER THE NEXT 6 YEARS’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Young voters campaigning for Rubio got to hear directly from him on a conference call in which the Republican made an offhand comment about serving a full term in the Senate. “I want to be re-elected to the United States Senate,” he said before taking questions from his millennial supporters. “I look forward to serving there over the next six years.” Rubio … has declined to unequivocally commit to serving through 2022, as … Murphy … has asked him to do.

… None of the eager students and recent graduates on the call asked him for a firm commitment to remain on Capitol Hill. Instead, they urged him to visit their college campuses, now that Congress is on recess ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Murphy’s name wasn’t mentioned once. Rubio said he’d try to get to as many campuses as possible, including to his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Florida. He asked students to help classmates vote early or by mail — or at least talk about the election beyond the presidential race. “That really isn’t something people should be proud if, if they don’t care about politics,” Rubio said. “You’re most influential among the group of people that follow you on Facebook or on Twitter or Snapchat” … “To be honest, people on my side of the aisle and on my side of politics have not done a good job historically of reaching out to students,” he said.

MURPHY ATTACKS RUBIO’S ATTENDANCE RECORD IN NEW AD via Florida Politics — Murphy is promising voters to “never stop working” for them in a new TV spot. The 30-second spot, called “Office,” highlights Marco Rubio’s attendance record. In the advertisement, Murphy says the Miami Republican “too often … didn’t show up and failed us when he did.” “To get things done, you have to show up. You have to work together,” he says in the advertisement. “Whether its protecting Social Security and women’s healthcare or growing the economy, we’ve got to start solving problems instead of pointing fingers.” Rubio’s attendance came under scrutiny during his presidential run, when opponents attacked his voting record. According to GovTrack, Rubio missed 234 of 1633 roll call votes, or about 14 percent, between January 2011 and September 2016. Murphy, according to GovTrack, missed 63 of 2,481 roll call votes, or about 2.5 percent, between January 2013 and September 2016.

HAPPENING TODAY – AFL-CIO, SENIORS ASK RUBIO TO SIGN SOCIAL SECURITY PLEDGE — A coalition of retirees, women and workers will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. in front of Sen. Rubio’s Tampa office, 5201 W. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa to call on Rubio to pledge to protect Social Security. Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO; Rich Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans; Barbara DeVane, the recording secretary for FLARA; and Toni Van Pelt, with the National Oranization of Women, are expected to speak at the event.

SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND SEIZES ON VP-MURPHY GAFFE — The Senate Leadership Fund, which is backing Rubio in the U.S. Senate race, circulated a video Monday showing Vice President Joe Biden nearly getting Patrick Murphy’s name wrong. The 20-second clip shows Biden stumbling on Murphy’s name, calling him Patrick Kennedy, before quickly correcting himself, during a campaign stop this week.

In an email Monday, the Senate Leadership Fund said Murphy was “having a case of the Mondays.” The organization noted the Democratic Senatorial Committee cancelled a week of advertising and Roll Call moved the race from “toss-up” to “lean Republican.” “Finally, to make matters worse — and somewhat validate Alan Grayson’s theory that Joe Biden didn’t know who he was endorsing — the Vice President momentarily forgot who Patrick Murphy was,” the email said. “But don’t worry, Patrick, Senate Leadership Fund hasn’t forgotten about you.”

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CONSUMERS FOR SMART SOLAR SPENDS MORE THAN $500K ON ADVERTISING IN ONE WEEK via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – State records show Consumers for Smart Solar spent $761,758 between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23, the most recent campaign finance reporting period. Records show the organization spent $507,400 on advertising and $202,349 on direct mail during the one-week reporting period. Consumers for Smart Solar launched a direct mail campaign in September. The mailers encourage Floridians to support the solar amendment and call it a “straightforward plan that encourages solar.” The organization raised no money during the one-week fundraising period. Consumers for Smart Solar has raised nearly $21.2 million, and had about $2.4 million cash-on-hand.

DRUG FREE FLORIDA RELEASES SECOND TV AD via Florida Politics — The advertisement, called “Pot Candy,” is meant to inform Floridians about the impact of medical marijuana. The 30-second spot will air in each of Florida’s media markets and on Spanish-language television and radio. “With Amendment 2 this is what medicine will look like: Pot packaged like candy, up to 20 times stronger than it once was,” a narrator says in the advertisement. “Marketed to kids, sold next to schools in nearly 2000 pot shops across Florida. No medical standards. No pharmacists. No prescriptions. And no way to stop it, unless you vote no on Amendment 2.” The ad is the latest in a series of advertisements by Drug Free Florida that aim to tell Floridians medical marijuana isn’t medicine. The release comes as United for Care, the campaign backing the medical pot initiative, announced it was releasing an ad in the coming days.

CD 13 SHIFTS FROM “DEMOCRATIC FAVORED” TO “LEANS DEMOCRATIC” — The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report and Roll Callshifted its ratings in a dozen House races Monday, including the race between Rep. David Jolly and former Gov. Charlie Crist. The organization shifted Florida’s 13th Congressional District from “Democrat favored” to “Leans Democratic.” The change comes after a poll showed Jolly leading Crist by 3 points and days after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed Jolly’s re-election. “Democrats are struggling to lock away other takeover opportunities including Florida’s 13th District, which was drawn to be more Democratic and now includes all of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s home area,” said Nathan Gonzales in a news release. The report also shifted Florida’s 7th Congressional District from “Republican Favored” to “Tilts Republican.”

CHARLIE CRIST MOCKS FONDNESS FOR FANS IN NEW AD IN CD 13 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Called “You Know Me,” the ad features the Democratic hopeful in Florida’s 13th Congressional race as a man of the people, showing himself as a young man with dark hair, assorted shots of him speaking with voters, and a neat twist in the middle of it. “I’m a fan of fans,” he professes, surrounded by an assortment of the cooling devices in one quick shot. The former Florida Governor’s penchant for keeping cool by having a fan ever present at news conferences had always been somewhat of an inside joke among political reporters over the years, leading to a creation of a Twitter account called “Charlie Crist’s fan.” Crist faces Republican David Jolly in the Nov. 8 election.

PAUL RYAN TO CAMPAIGN FOR CARLOS CURBELO via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Ryan is expected to visit South Florida later this month to campaign for Curbelo as part of a broader election tour that will take the speaker to 17 states and 42 cities in October ahead of the Nov. 8 election. “Paul Ryan is committed to doing everything possible to help defend and expand Republican Congressional majorities,” said Kevin Seifert, a longtime Ryan aide and executive director of the speaker’s political arm, Team Ryan. “He is going to finish this election cycle on a strong note — spending October promoting the Better Way agenda and providing tactical support to our hardest-working members and our most promising challengers across the country.” Curbelo has been a vocal supporter of Ryan’s agenda. He penned a Univision op-ed in Spanish last week promoting House Republicans’ proposals to reduce poverty. Curbelo’s Democratic challenger, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, has tried to use Curbelo’s support of Ryan as a way to cast Curbelo — who’s campaigning as a moderate in Florida’s 26th Congressional District — as a hardline conservative.

CURBELO WANTS TV TO TAKE DOWN DCCC AD ‘RIDDLED WITH INACCURACIES’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Curbelo wants local TV stations to stop airing an ad from the Democratic Party because PolitiFact rated some of its claims “Mostly False.” Curbelo’s campaign sent station managers a letter from attorney Elizabeth Beacham White urging them to take down the ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which the campaign said “is riddled with inaccuracies” … “[Y]our network is not obligated to air any advertisements from third parties, such as the DCCC, as third parties have no guaranteed right of access to air their advertisements on your network,” she wrote. PolitiFact Florida found it misleading for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to say that Curbelo “supports drilling offshore” and “repeatedly voted against President Obama’s ability to fight pollution and combat climate change.”

TWO YEARS LATER, CURBELO STILL KEEPS LIST OF PAST CLIENTS SECRET via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Shortly after winning his congressional seat two years ago, Curbelo shut down his government and public affairs consulting company. He closed the office to comply with a rule that bans federal lawmakers from holding outside employment. That rule, however, does not require former private consultants like Curbelo to disclose who hired them in the past. To this day, Curbelo’s list of onetime clients remains secret. The congressman continues to refuse to voluntarily make his clients public … Curbelo maintains he will confirm the identity of his private clients if he’s asked about them specifically.

In 2014, he acknowledged working for Mount Sinai Medical Center on Miami Beach and for Roberto and William Isaías, two brothers who have been convicted of embezzlement in absentia in Ecuador and say they’re victims of political persecution. He refused at the time to say how much the Isaías family paid him for the work, and insisted he didn’t have to register as a lobbyist on their behalf despite having set up meetings for the brothers with federal lawmakers. As a Miami-Dade County School Board member in 2011, Curbelo disclosed working for Genting East Coast USA, the Malaysian casino giant. The issue over Curbelo’s unwillingness to list his clients first came up in 2014, when candidate Curbelo faced pressure from reporters and from his opponent, then-U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, to name the business and political interests he’d represented as a consultant. At the time, the Florida Democratic Party filed a complaint against Curbelo with the U.S. Justice Department; the party says two years later it never heard back. Garcia is again challenging Curbelo, in a bid to win back his old seat.

HAPPENING TODAY — TIGER BAY CLUB HOSTS SD 13, HD 47 DEBATE — The Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida will host a debate at 11:30 a.m. at the Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Drive in Orlando. The event will Central Floridians a chance to hear from Republican Rep. Mike Miller and Democrat Beth Tuura in House District 47. Republican Dean Asher and Democrat Linda Stewart will face off in the Senate District 13 race. The event’s doors open at 11:30 and the debate will start at noon. To RSVP, visit the Tiger Bay website. The cost is $40, but free for members in good standing.

JOE REDNER’S ‘NOT FOR SALE’ IN HIS FIRST AD IN THE SD 18 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The ad begins with the adult club entrepreneur referring to his successes in his business career and as an activist. It then segues into him talking about his concern that Florida’s environment “is under assault from corporate interests that have the Legislature in their pocket,” as the ad shows clips of the massive sinkhole at Mosaic’s facility in Mulberry and the poison algae bloom that occurred this summer in Martin County. “I don’t take a dime from special interests. I’m not for sale. I’m for Florida!” he says toward the end of the ad. “I care about what’s in your kids’ water” … Some Hillsborough Democrats were hoping Redner would pull out of the race as the election grew closer, but Redner has made that known that won’t be happening.

IN HD 30 RACE, RYAN YADAV TV COMMERCIAL CHARGES BOB CORTES WITH 2012 CONFLICT OF INTEREST via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Cortes, the Longwood Republican, owns a towing company. Before his election to the Florida House of Representatives, while Cortes was on the Longwood City Commission, he pushed for tow truck fee increases in Seminole County, according to news reports cited and highlighted in Yadav’s first TV commercial, playing in the Orlando market. The 30-second commercial, “Conflict of Interest,” shows a portion of the Seminole County Board of Commissioners Commission staff report from Nov. 2012 that reads, “The local wrecker operators have approached the County through Bob Cortes, Area Chairman, Region 6, Professional Wreckers Operators of Florida and owner of Cortes Towing Services. The local operators have requested an increase in trespass and non-consensual tow rates… It helped him, not you,” a narrator states, before the commercial turns to video of Orlando TV station WFTV Channel 9 reporting on the matter in 2012. Cortes called it a recycle of old stuff, material that had come up in previous election campaigns that he dismissed as misleading. The Seminole County wrecker operator ordinance was aimed at equalizing rates between Orange and Seminole counties and other jurisdictions so that people would not being paying different rates if vehicles were towed across jurisdictional boundaries, he said. He had no conflict with Seminole County Board of Commissioners because he was a Longwood commissioner, he said. He also said he recused himself from any tow truck matters in Longwood.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, state Reps. José Oliva and Chris Sprowls host a fundraiser supporting Republican Randy Fine in his bid for House District 53. Event begins 6:30 p.m. at the Governors Club Library Room, 202 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee. RSVP with Meredith O’Rourke at or 561-818-6064.



WHAT BRIAN HUGHES IS READING — LITTLE OPPOSITION TO SLOT MACHINE BALLOT VOTE via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union – Beyond the noise of November’s high-profile elections, a local gambling group quietly continues its long shot push to legalize slot machines in Jacksonville that has so far avoided any serious opposition — even from the city’s widespread and politically active religious community. As the Florida Supreme Court considers a case that will decide whether slot machines can be legalized by a countywide vote, Jacksonville’s Bestbet is campaigning for a referendum that will ask Duval County voters to allow 2,000 slot machines at its Arlington poker room in the event of a favorable court ruling. Bestbet’s efforts to bring slot machines to the city surfaced this summer, when the company and its top-tier team of local lobbyists asked the City Council to place the measure on November’s ballot. Gambling expansion avoided the scrutiny and skepticism encountered by other social issues that have recently come before the council, like enacting gay rights, opening craft-beer breweries near churches and growing medical marijuana within city limits. The measure overwhelmingly passed with bipartisan support from council moderates and the group’s most conservative members. Councilman Doyle Carter was the only person to vote no. The council most recently felt that pressure earlier this year as it considered passing an anti-discrimination law that would expand protections to gays and transgender people. Considering the shock-and-awe response from social conservatives, council members expected formidable opposition against the slot machine referendum. But it never materialized.

ELECTIONS SUPERVISORS BEGIN MAILING BALLOTS — Elections officials across the state can begin sending vote-by-mail ballots to domestic voters today. According to the Division of Elections, more than 2.3 million ballots have been requested ahead of the Nov. 8 general election. State records show 262,883 ballots have been requested in Pinellas County. In Miami-Dade County, 262,324 ballots have been requested; while 195,078 ballots have been requested in Broward County. Records show Republicans have requested more than 1 million vote-by-mail ballots; while Democrats have requested 896,180 ballots. Voters with minor parties or no party affiliation requested 457,618 ballots. Floridians have until Oct. 11 to register to vote in the Nov. 8 general election.

DEMOCRATS SUE FLORIDA, CHALLENGING KEY PART OF MAIL BALLOT LAW via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) and the Democratic National Committee sought an injunction in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee to prevent county canvassing boards from rejecting ballots in cases where the signature of a voter on the mail ballot envelope does not match the same voter’s signature on file. The lawsuit noted that state law has a “cure” mechanism for voters who forget to put a signature on a mail ballot. They can return a signed affidavit to their county elections office confirming their identity. But no such cure exists for cases known as mismatched signatures. Hundreds of them were invalidated across the state in the Aug. 30 primary for that reason, and the number likely will be much larger in November because millions more people will be voting. “Florida’s policy of failing to provide voters an opportunity to cure alleged signature defects on vote-by-mail ballots directly harms FDP, its members and constituents” … “FDP is directly harmed because Democratic voters are more likely than Republican voters to have their vote denied due to an apparent signature mismatch. Accordingly, it is more likely that Democratic voters will not have their vote counted, thereby, decreasing the overall likelihood that FDP will be successful in its efforts to help elect Democratic candidates to public office.” The lawsuit was filed against Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s chief elections official.

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GOV. SCOTT CANCELS CABINET MEETING TO MONITOR MATTHEW via The Associated Press – The U.S. Coast Guard … warned boaters to start preparing for Hurricane Matthew, and Scott announced plans to visit the state’s emergency operations centers along Florida’s east coast. Scott canceled [the] Cabinet meeting to make the trip. He wants to make sure counties are prepared if the storm moves toward Florida, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said. Scott signed an executive order Monday declaring a state of emergency for every Florida county. Matthew was a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The hurricane was centered about 225 miles (360 kilometers) south of Port Au Prince, Haiti. The storm was moving north at 7 mph (11 kph). Matthew’s center will approach southwestern Haiti Monday night, move near eastern Cuba late Tuesday, and move near or over portions of the southeastern and central Bahamas Tuesday night and Wednesday, the center said. Coast Guard officials set “port condition whiskey” for ports in southeastern Florida: Ports and facilities currently remain open to all commercial traffic, but all oceangoing vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons should start making plans to leave the port … Vessels seeking to stay in the port should

EMAIL I WISH I HADN’T OPENED – “Satirical outlet releases video highlighting Republicans delays in acting against Zika”

SCREWWORM INFESTATION THREATENS TINY DEER IN FLORIDA KEYS via The Associated Press – An agricultural emergency has been declared in the Florida Keys over a fly larvae infestation threatening endangered deer found only in the island chain … Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the discovery of New World screwworm in the National Key Deer Refuge “sends shivers down every rancher’s spine.” Screwworm feed on the animals’ flesh, and infestations can be fatal to livestock and pets. Refuge manager Dan Clark says about 40 of the 3-feet-tall Key deer have had to be euthanized over the last month due to the screwworm infestation. To stop the infestation from spreading north, officials have established an animal health check point on the only road leading from the Keys. Putnam’s office says sterile flies will be released to eradicate the area’s screwworm fly population.

SEMINOLE GAMING CEO SAYS DANA YOUNG SKIPPED OUT ON BLACKJACK TALKS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The head of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s gambling operations testified that the Florida House’s Republican Leader disengaged in 2015 during blackjack renewal talks. The next thing Jim Allen knew … Young was announcing her own legislative package, an overhaul of state gambling law that cut out the tribe. Based on her bills, “there clearly seemed to be an intention to expand gaming in the state,” said Allen … Allen testified during this week’s trial between the tribe and the state over the Seminoles continuing to offer blackjack to its casino customers across Florida … As part of his testimony on renewing the Seminole Compact, Allen told the story of talks beginning last year with state Sen. Rob Bradley and Young, then the point people for their respective chambers on gambling. Bradley chaired the Senate Regulated Industries committee. At an initial meeting, the legislative leaders told Allen, “Give us your wish list,” which he took as meaning their desired financial terms. Without getting into details, he said he did so. “We were certainly hopeful we would get a response, but we never did,” Allen said … the day before the start of the 2015 Legislative Session, Young rolled out four bills totaling 332 pages that, among other things, would have allowed two destination resort casinos in South Florida and let dog tracks stop live racing but continue to offer slots. The legislation also would have created a statewide gambling commission and called for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit new gambling in Florida, including adding to existing games, unless approved statewide by voters. But the tribe was not mentioned or provided for anywhere in the bills, all of which died that session.

AFTER COMPLAINT TO NRA’S MARION HAMMER, REVENUE DEPARTMENT REVIEWING INTERNET POLICY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The Florida Department of Revenue is reviewing its internet policy after a state worker sent an anonymous complaint to NRA lobbyist Hammer because some websites that sell or discuss guns are blocked. “Seems like someone in the state government has decided guns are bad and will not allow us to shop for a gun,” read the complaint. That complaint was sent to Hammer, who forwarded it to Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel, who sent it to the department’s inspector general. “Based upon this complaint, if the state allows employees to use the state’s network for personal reasons on breaks and lunch time — their own time — then the censorship described below is unacceptable,” Hammer wrote her message to Miguel. A department spokesperson confirmed that a complaint was made and said “the policy is being reviewed.”

HAPPENING TODAY – HARRIS CORP. UNVEILS INNOVATION CENTER — Harris Corporation will hold host a grand opening ceremony for the Harris Global Innovation Center at 5:30 p.m. at 1025 W. NASA Blvd. in Melbourne. The center includes a 3D interactive display of innovative solutions for first responders and military on the battlefield; simulations that show how Harris technology uses to support soldiers; and an interactive display on how the technology is used. Bill Brown, chairman, president and CEO of Harris; Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Bill Posey, and other Harris and community leaders are expected to attend.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***


Matt Brockelman, Southern Strategy Group: Florida State College at Jacksonville Foundation

David Cmserta: Easter Seals South Florida

Jennifer Green, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: City of Milton

Nick Iarossi, Ashley Kalifeh, Ron LaFace, Jr., Scott Ross, Chris Schoonover, Gerald Wester, Capital City Consulting: Florida Surplus Lines Association

Alain Jean, The August Company: City of Fort Lauderdale

Sean Pittman: George Hackney, Inc d/b/a Trulieve

POLITICAL HEAVY HITTERS TO MEET IN NAPLES POSTELECTION via Dave Osborn of the Naples Daily News – Former British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, former Obama campaign manager David Axelrod, ex-House Speaker John Boehner and NBC’s “Meet The Press” moderator Chuck Todd are among those scheduled to address the ninth annual Global Financial Leadership Conference. The event will be Nov. 14-16 at The Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in North Naples. Professional sports legends Peyton ManningDerek JeterKobe Bryant and Michael Strahanalso plan to attend the conference gala Nov. 15 at the luxury hotel. CME Group is the largest futures exchange in the world. The annual conference draws up to 350 of the Chicago-based CME Group’s top clients. Terry Duffy, CME Group executive chairman and president, lives in Naples and began the conference nearly a decade ago. “We max it out at a certain level because we don’t want to lose the boutiqueness of it and the ability of people to interact with our speakers,” Duffy said at last year’s conference.

JOB CUTS ARE COMING TO THE TAMPA BAY TIMES via Benjamin Mullen of Poynter – The job cuts come five months after the Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times bought the Tampa Tribune, ending a decades long turf war over subscribers and advertisers … The newspaper will trim headcount back to the same staffing levels it had in 2015, according to [CEO PaulTash‘s memo: “Payroll is our biggest single expense, and in 2017 we will return to the same overall levels we had in 2015 — before we bought the Tribune (without the Tribune purchase, the cuts would have gone much deeper). Managers will build their payroll budgets for the next year based on what their departments spent last year. And managers will fill those jobs with staffers who best help the company meet its goals, including staff we hired this year from the Tribune and elsewhere.” In his memo, Tash cited the Tampa Tribune’s lower-than-expected advertising revenues and the continued decline in retail advertising as the two primary factors behind the cuts.

HENDRY MARINE INDUSTRIES CEO AARON W. HENDRY DIES AT 80 via Florida Politics – Hendry died peacefully in his home after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He leaves behind his wife Barbara, six children and three grandchildren … Hendry’s father, Captain F.M. Hendry, started the family business more than 90 years ago to provide oyster shells for roads and other construction projects. Over the decades, the company grew dramatically as the dredging fleet expanded and additional maritime services were performed to meet the demand for seaport and coastal development. A fourth-generation Floridian, Hendry began his career as a teenager with Hendry Corporation in 1952 as a deckhand. He worked his way through the ranks as a boatman, foreman, mate and leverman … Hendry earned a Civil Engineering degree from Georgia Tech, an MBA from the University of Tampa, and also graduated from the Harvard Business School’s prestigious business owners program. As a result of Hendry’s dedication – and the dedication of his employees – he leaves behind businesses that are among the oldest and most recognizable in the Tampa Bay area:  Hendry Marine Industries, a holding company for Hendry Corporation … Gulf Marine Repair … Universal Environmental Solutions … and Port Hendry Terminals, a stevedoring and terminal operations company.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Bob Burleson, Amy Christian, and our friend and St. Petersburg City Council Chair Amy Foster.

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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