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Sunburn for 10.07.16 – The politics of Matthew

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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

THE POLITICS OF MATTHEW

Kevin Cate of CATECOMM, a veteran of many campaigns and storms, shares some smart notes with Sunburn about the politics of Hurricane Matthew and voting-by-mail in Florida. The most important note, of course, is the first one.

– Politics isn’t everything. Governor Rick Scott seems to be doing a great job warning, evacuating, and preparing Floridians for what will likely be a deadly disaster. Everything below is secondary to emergency response.

– With 2.6 vote by mail ballots out, every day is Election Day in Florida. Every news cycle matters. Every everything matters.

– Matthew is removing, at a minimum, four local political news cycles from most of Florida. Depending on the devastation, it could remove many, many more.

– All news is local during storms.

Donald Trump lives off of news cycles, and is currently down in polls, so losing so many news cycles is especially bad for him.

– Even if Trump pulls off a miracle debate performance on Sunday, it’s possible one million or more Floridians will be without power, and won’t be watching. This will make pull clips or huge takeaway moments even more important.

– Matthew will nullify a ton of paid TV in Florida. That’s not great for either campaign, but especially impacts Trump, who has been slow to buy here.

– The real battleground medium during power outages and storms is the phone. As I experienced during Hurricane Hermine, that’s what people keep charged and where they turn for up to date local information.

– Any paid social media to be geo-targeted and add value to users, like directing to emergency response assistance or volunteer opportunities.

– Matthew also means no high-level surrogate or fundraising trips to a large part of the state for at least four days, probably more.

– Evacuations could delay many vote by mail returns.

— Voting-by-mail —

– Even at current 2.6 million vote by mail requests, which will only increase, each one percent margin lead equals around a 765 vote gain per day on average (34 day window to return ballots yesterday until Election Day).

– At Clinton’s current 2.3 Real Clear Politics average lead, just through vote by mail returns, she could build an almost 60,000 lead into Election Day. This doesn’t include Early Voting.

– A current 1,759 vote by mail lead per day may not seem like much, but Obama only beat Romney by 74,309 votes, and using Steve Schale‘s famous Florida Four Cycle Average, Florida averages around a 71,000 vote win margin.

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MATTHEW HAMMERS FLORIDA, BEGINS DAYLONG BEATING OF COAST via Mike Schneider and Kelli Kennedy of the Associated Press – Hurricane Matthew’s howling wind and driving rain pummeled Florida early Friday, starting what’s expected to be a ruinous, dayslong battering of the Southeast coast. The strongest winds of 120 mph were just offshore, but Matthew’s wrath still menaced more than 500 miles of coastline.

Two million people were warned to flee inland as the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade charged toward Florida. Matthew left more than 280 dead in its wake across the Caribbean.

“This storm’s a monster,” Gov. Scott warned as Matthew started lashing the state. “I’m going to pray for everybody’s safety.”

The number of homes and businesses without power jumped by the hour as the storm edged closer to the coast. More than 240,000 were in the dark by early Friday.

The winds picked up along Vero Beach, midway between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, stripping away palm fronds, ripping awnings and blowing sand that stung the face. Waves crashed on the beach, and rain came in short bursts.

As it moved north Thursday evening, Matthew stayed about 100 miles or more off South Florida, sparing the 4.4 million people in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas from its most punishing effects.

As of 4 a.m., the hurricane’s western eyewall was approaching Cape Canaveral, according to the National Hurricane Center. But even though the eye was still off-shore, Florida was already seeing strong winds. The Hurricane Center said sustained winds of 46 mph and a gust of 70 mph were reported in Melbourne early Friday.

VIDEO OF HURRICANE MATTHEW as seen from the Space Station via astronaut Mark Kelly — click here.

RICK SCOTT ACTIVATES MORE THAN HALF THE NATIONAL GUARD, ASKS FEDS FOR GENERATORS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Gov. Scott announced 3,500 members of the National Guard have been activated, more than half of the available troops. The governor said he will continue to activate members to help with evacuations, and prepare for search and rescue missions. “Protecting lives remains our No. 1 priority and that is why I have now activated over half of the National Guard who will play a big role in important life-saving missions,” said Scott in a statement. “I have directed them to focus on prepositioning resources, assist with helping people evacuate safely and our sheltering operations. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, they will be involved in recovery efforts including search and rescue missions.”Scott said while the federal government approved his request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for food, water, and tarps, he also is asking for “additional generators and pumps to help with power outages and flooding once the storm hits.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MaryEllenKlas: @FLGovScott just had one of the most successful media avails of his career: clear, forceful, authoritative warning about #HurricaneMatthew

GOV WON’T EXTEND VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE via Florida Politics – The governor told reporters the deadline, which is next Tuesday, is staying put. “I’m not going to extend it,” Scott said at a Hurricane Matthew briefing in Tallahassee. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register,” he said. “On top of that, we’ve got lots of opportunities to vote: Early voting, absentee voting and Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.” The Clinton campaign had asked Florida election officials to extend the deadline because of the storm’s potential to get in the way of latecomers trying to get on the voting rolls. CNN reported that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said, “We are hoping and expecting that officials in Florida will adapt deadlines to account for the storm.”

— Election law prof lays out nightmare Florida political scenario after Hurricane Matthew” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

OBAMA SIGNS FLORIDA EMERGENCY DECLARATION TO DEAL WITH HURRICANE MATTHEW via Patricia Mazzei and Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Gov. Scott requested the federal designation Wednesday. He and Obama spoke by phone early Thursday afternoon, according to Scott’s office, and the White House announced the emergency declaration shortly after. Federal agencies will now be authorized to coordinate disaster relief efforts and use federal aid to assist state and local governments in dealing with the storm. The emergency designation applies to 28 counties along Florida’s coast, from Monroe in the Florida Keys to Nassau on the Georgia border. Scott had criticized Obama for not signing an emergency declaration as quickly as the governor would have liked after Hurricane Hermine hit Florida last month. The president eventually approved the designation for six counties. Following his Hurricane Matthew request Wednesday evening, Scott sent a stern message during a press briefing early Thursday that he wanted Obama to act swiftly. “I hope the president does it this morning before the storm begins,” Scott said, reiterating it a second time for emphasis.

TWEET, TWEET: @AlexDaugherty: WhiteHouse will “put partisan politics aside” when dealing with @FLGovScott admin. in #HurricaneMatthew response

EMERGENCY GUN-CARRY IN EFFECT DURING HURRICANE via Florida Politics – The law allows concealed weapons “while in the act of complying” with a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the governor or by local authorities. It defines “complying” as the “immediate and urgent movement … away from the evacuation zone” within 48 hours of the evacuation order. It provides that the 48-hour period can be extended by the governor. Florida statutes allow unlicensed people to carry concealed weapons so long as the weapons are used for defensive purposes and are either a chemical spray, a nonlethal stun gun, a dart-firing stun gun, or some other nonlethal electric weapon. Otherwise, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a third-degree felony.

AS HURRICANE NEARS, A REMINDER THAT INSURANCE MARKET IS ‘UNTESTED’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – “Hurricane Matthew will test Florida’s previously untested homeowner specialist insurers if there are significantly sizable losses,” said Christopher Grimes, Director in Insurance at Fitch Ratings … “With heavy reliance on reinsurance in the Florida property insurance market, traditional and collateralized reinsurance and catastrophe bond markets could also see substantial losses.” The majority of Florida’s homeowner property insurers are companies that have newly-emerged to take on insurance risk and their “ability to manage a large catastrophic hurricane is uncertain despite recent strong performance,” Fitch said in a report released in May. Since the last major hurricane to hit the state was Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Florida’s insurance market has undergone a fundamental restructuring.

Homeowners policies have shifted from large national insurers and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to newer, small companies focused almost exclusively in Florida. The absence of a major hurricane in 11 years helped to strengthen these companies, which reported favorable profitability and surplus growth, Grimes said. But the companies also are “relatively small size and scale,” have concentrated product and geographic profiles and rely heavily on third-party reinsurance to shore-up their capital requirements.

STOCK IN FLORIDA PROPERTY INSURERS FALLS AS HURRICANE MATTHEW BEARS DOWN via Jeff Harrington of the Tampa Bay Times – Among Florida stocks taking a significant hit were the biggest private property insurer in Florida, Universal Insurance, which fell 12 percent. United Insurance was down 8 percent; Federated National down 8 percent; HCI Group was down 13 percent and Heritage was down 10 percent. National insurers were caught in the downward spiral to a lesser extent. Shares in Progressive Insurance, which owns part of homeowners’ insurer American Strategic Insurance, were down just under 1 percent as were shares in Allstate. Chubb was down 1 percent while AIG stock closed up less than 1 percent.

HURRICANE COULD MAKE FLORIDA’S ZIKA PROBLEM WORSE via Adrienne LaFrance of the Atlantic – For Floridians, there’s another layer of concern: What will the hurricane mean for the ongoing Zika threat? Florida remains the only state in the U.S. where Zika has been transmitted locally—that is, spread by mosquito populations on the ground rather than imported by people who got sick from the virus elsewhere. Despite assurances from officials that they have the virus under control, new cases continue to pop up. Hurricane Matthew could further complicate efforts to stop the spread of the disease, which can cause grave outcomes—especially for developing fetuses whose mothers are infected. “So in the first wave of wind, heavy rains and storm surge—it could even have a beneficial effect in terms of washing away mosquito breeding sites,” says Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and the dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College, “but then as the waters recede, it could leave residual reservoirs of water in human-made containers that could breed Aedes aegypti” … But given that it’s relatively late in the season for the spread of such viruses—even in muggy Floirda — “we might not see this effect,” Hotez told me. Still, there are other factors to consider. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for instance, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a spike in neurologic disease associated with the West Nile Virus, another illness spread by mosquitoes. Despite the population decline in the region in the aftermath of the hurricane, the total number of cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease jumped by 50 percent.

LAKE O RESIDENTS WORRY ABOUT DIKE via Melissa Montoya of news-press.com – Some like [Guadalupe] Duran will leave, but others will stay in the area which remains under hurricane warning. Hurricane Matthew weakened as it ravaged the Caribbean, but the National Hurricane Center expects it to strengthen overnight and through Thursday. The storm is expected to arrive on Florida’s east coast Thursday night, the NHC said … Those in Clewiston said they are worried about any damage the Herbert Hoover Dike may sustain because of the storm. The dike and levee were constructed after the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane that killed more than 2,500. The Okeechobee hurricane raised the lake’s waters over what was then a 4-foot-high earthen dike and flooded the towns on its shores. “It could flood everything,” Duran said, as she recalled stories of the past. A Tuesday check of the 143-mile dike that contains the lake found no issues, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the structure.

LAWMAKER WANTS DATA OVERAGE CHARGES SUSPENDED AHEAD OF HURRICANE MATTHEW via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – “Data overage charges can not only be prohibitively expensive, but the last thing victims of this monster storm need to worry about,” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner …  Many cellphone plans have a set amount of data that can be used when they aren’t connected to Wi-Fi, and customers are charged extra if they exceed that amount within a monthly billing cycle. “My goal is to keep them connected when Wi-Fi is down, and for most, using their cellular data will be the only way to do that … As Floridians ready for evacuations or hunker down in their homes as this hurricane approaches, communication is more critical than ever,” Joyner said.

HURRICANE FORCES AIRLINES TO CANCEL HUNDREDS OF FLIGHTS IN FLORIDA via The Associated Press – The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down Thursday morning, and farther north the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime. Before 2 p.m. Eastern time, flight-tracking service FlightAware.com reported that 1,500 Thursday flights within the U.S. had been scrapped, with the largest numbers at Fort Lauderdale and Miami. American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, was the hardest-hit carrier, followed by Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways. FlightAware said airlines had already canceled 1,300 more flights scheduled for Friday. Delta Air Lines said cancellations were likely to spread to coastal Georgia and South Carolina Saturday. Airlines often cancel flights before storms hit to prevent passengers from being stranded at airports and to keep their planes in position to recover after the bad weather passes.

TOURISTS DISAPPOINTED AS STORM SHUTS ORLANDO THEME PARKS via Janelle Cogan of The Associated Press – “I never get time off,” said Amber Klinkel, 25, of Battle Creek, Michigan, who was visiting the Universal park with her mother and younger sister. “I’m a little sad.” Universal and Walt Disney World both planned to close down at 5 p.m. Thursday, with SeaWorld shutting its gates at 2 p.m. The parks are among the most-visited tourist destinations in the world. Anthony Leotta, who arrived Thursday from Long Island, New York, said he was going to try to get a refund at Universal. Leotta, who is visiting with his wife, said they are leaving on a cruise Sunday and will probably have just a single day at the theme park. “I paid for three days at the park and I’m only going to be able to use one,” Leotta said. Carlos Rodriguez, who said he lives in New Jersey but didn’t give a hometown, planned to do as much as possible at Universal before it closed Thursday. “We will try not to walk away empty-handed,” he said. “Can’t blame them for a hurricane. But you can blame them for closing too early.”

— “Jacksonville hospitals prepare for long weekend as Hurricane Matthew approaches” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union

— “The Jacksonville Zoo bringing in ‘ride-out’ team to help protect animals, facility from Hurricane Matthew” via David Crumpler of the Florida Times-Union

— “Northeast Florida officials call for mass exodus ahead of ‘100-year storm’” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union

— “North Florida hotels booked solid as Hurricane Matthew nears” via Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat

— “Teresa Jacobs declares curfew for Orange County” via Scott Peters of Orlando Rising

— “City linemen to assist in Matthew recovery” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

— “Florida: Hurricane magnet for a century” via Dave Breitenstein of the Tallahassee Democrat

WORST TWEET OF THE DAY: @Drudge: The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate

HURRI-SHOT: @Vanillaice: This hurricane is serious and coming right at me. I’m going to ride out the storm. I’ll keep you updated

HURRI-CHASERFlaDems: We advise listening to your local officials, not @vanillaice. If you are in an evacuation zone, you should leave now.

LAST-MINUTE SHOPPERS BUY CUPS, ICEPACKS AHEAD OF HURRICANE via The Associated Press – One problem with stocking up ahead of a hurricane is you never know exactly what you’ll need. Will the storm take out your power, your water – and for how long? “It’s a little scary only because the meteorologists can’t really predict exactly what’s going to happen,” Natalie Elizur, 25, said while joining lines of shoppers making last-minute purchases at a grocery store in Fort Lauderdale ahead of Hurricane Matthew. “They can only track the storm, but they can’t really predict exactly what’s going to happen.” Elizur, who said she already had stocked up on water, was now buying cups, plates, icepacks, food and a flashlight. “A lot of Styrofoam cups and plates so we have things to eat – because we’re probably not going to be able to wash dishes without water. Ice packs to keep things cool – we’re probably not going to have electricity, for a couple days – or we don’t really know how long,” she said. Her choices were somewhat limited, because the many shoppers before her already had left some of the shelves bare.

UF-LSU FOOTBALL GAME CANCELED; FSU-MIAMI REMAINS ON SCHEDULE IN MIAMI via Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun – In an eleventh-hour attempt by LSU … to salvage this weekend’s game, the Tigers offered to play the game in Baton Rouge Sunday and pay all of Florida’s travel expenses, but UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said it simply was not feasible from a logistical and safety standpoint for the Gators. Florida offered to move the game to Nov. 19 — a date when both schools have games against nonconference opponents — but LSU rejected it, a source close to the situation confirmed. “Certainly LSU reached out and indicated that they’d host the game in Baton Rouge, probably Sunday,” Foley said. “Almost impossible to accommodate that request, which we greatly appreciated. I think everybody in this room understands how the University of Florida feels about playing LSU. Very, very strong belief that this series is very important to our fan base, very important to this institution … But to try to put a road trip together of 150-plus people in a day and half, not knowing the condition of the roads, not knowing the conditions of the airports, trying to get equipment out there … not in the best interest of safety, not in the best interest of people that would be involved in that trip … To me and our staff and obviously (SEC) Commissioner (Greg) Sankey, it pales in comparison worrying about getting out to Baton Rouge when people in this state may be dealing with stuff that is far more significant, far more serious.”

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HILLARY CLINTON DELAYS WEATHER CHANNEL ADS UNTIL AFTER HURRICANE MATTHEW PASSES via CNN – “Earlier in the week, we made changes to our TV ad reservations across hundreds of stations in several battleground states including Florida,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Clinton spokesman. “Less than 1 percent of those changes included The Weather Channel. We have requested that stations in Florida delay any of those ads on the Weather Channel until after the storm passes.” Clinton’s decision to air ads on The Weather Channel as attention shifted from the 2016 campaign to the approaching hurricane sparked some criticism from Republicans, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “I encourage both presidential campaigns to be sensitive to all affected by Hurricane #Matthew in the coming days,” Bush tweeted Wednesday, linking to a Politico article that reported Clinton will spend $63,000 on a five-day ad buy that would begin Thursday on The Weather Channel. Kristy Campbell, Bush’s former spokeswoman, called Clinton’s ad buy “a colossally huge and unforced error.” “This is a colossally huge and unforced error by the Clinton camp. Insensitive and will piss off Floridians,” she tweeted. Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, called the Clinton buy “tone-deaf.” “.@HillaryClinton tone-deaf to plan flight of negative ads on @weatherchannel in Florida to coincide with Hurricane Matthew. #shameless,” Miller said. The Weather Channel is expected to get a significant increase in viewership over the next several days due to growing interest in the possibly Category 4 hurricane.

MARCO RUBIO CAMPAIGN SENDS FUNDRAISING EMAIL AS HURRICANE APPROACHES via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – The fundraising email from the Rubio campaign called it “critical” that readers stop what they’re doing and listen to the fundraising pitch. “I hope you, after you finish listening to this message, will stand with me by making a critical donation to my campaign,” Rubio says in the email to prospective donors. “This is truly a hands on deck situation” … “This is an old email from nine days ago that was resent by our digital vendor to part of our list,” a Rubio campaign spokeswoman wrote in an email … “It was not sent to people in Florida, Georgia or South Carolina since we know they’re preparing for the storm. Marco emailed all of his supporters yesterday asking that they donate to the Red Cross to help those impacted by Hurricane Matthew, and we would encourage everyone to do so.” Forwarding an email from the Rubio campaign that was received Thursday afternoon, Democratic Party of Florida spokesman Max Steele slammed Rubio for raising money “as hundreds of thousands of Floridians are under evacuation orders” … “Unbelievable,” he wrote.

MY TAKE: RON DESANTIS VOTED AGAINST HURRICANE SANDY AID. HOW WILL HE VOTE NEXT WEEK? via Florida Politics – In January 2013, DeSantis — newly elected to Florida’s 6th Congressional District, which covers Jacksonville through the north of Orlando — was one of the 67 House Republicans who voted against flood insurance assistance for victims of Hurricane Sandy, after it recently wreaked havoc on the New York-New Jersey area. That bill, providing $9.7 billion in aid, otherwise passed unanimously through the Senate and was overwhelmingly approved by a (rare) bipartisan vote in the House. ”I sympathize with the victims of Hurricane Sandy and believe that those who purchased flood insurance should have their claims paid,” DeSantis said in a statement. “At the same time, allowing the program to increase its debt by another $9.7 billion with no plan to offset the spending with cuts elsewhere is not fiscally responsible.” DeSantis’ district now finds itself in the crosshairs of Matthew, which could have a double-barreled force even greater than that of Sandy. Again, Matthew is almost certain to cause (at the very least) significant flooding and other related damage in much of Florida. DeSantis told the St. Augustine Record in a June 2013 interview … “It actually appropriated money out to 2020 and 2021, things that could not in any way be said to be emergency spending. It just was so much extraneous stuff.” One could assume Florida is going to see quite a bit of such “extraneous stuff” over the next few days … it will certainly be interesting to see how DeSantis votes next week.

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PREVIEWING THE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Perhaps the biggest question going into Sunday night’s second presidential debate is whether or not Trump is prepping for it more seriously than he did for his first encounter with Clinton last week.

With early voting already going (by mail in Florida) in crucial swing states, the 90-minute forum at Washington University in St. Louis might be Trump’s last, best chance to make his case to the public and win the presidency. His poor performance in the first debate has led to a slide in virtually every major poll taken nationally and in battleground states over the past week, after he had closed the gap over the previous six months.

Sunday night’s town hall style forum will include questions submitted online in addition to those asked by the traditional studio audience. Debate moderators confirmed earlier this week the public can submit and then vote on questions online at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, and ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular selections as they prepare.

The Open Debate Coalition tested out the format this spring in a debate between Alan Grayson and David Jolly when both were running for the U.S. Senate in Florida. Members of the Open Debate Coalition include the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Freedom Works, MoveOn, the Faith and Freedom Coalition and Numbers USA.

The debate will also feature two moderators this time around, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, and apparently the preparations with two different anchors and news networks isn’t going so swimmingly.

The NY Post reported on Wednesday that meeting between the ABC and CNN producers, on-air talent and network brass “are acrimonious at best” with a lot of turf-grabbing going on.

CNN promos are highlighting that the event is being ‘hosted by Anderson Cooper,” while ABC’s promos list Raddatz as “co-anchor” but don’t mention Cooper.

The debate isn’t expected to get the massive viewing audience of the first debate, when over 84 million people watched it across 13 of the TV channels that carried it live. Part of that may be due to the fact that there will be both a premier football game (NY Giants at Green Bay Packers) and Game Three of the American League Divisonal Series.

DONALD TRUMP: I WON’T MENTION BILL CLINTON’S PAST AT NEXT DEBATE via Richard Johnson of Page Six – Trump is taking the high road, and keeping Bill Clinton’s “bimbo eruptions” away from Sunday’s presidential debate. Candice Jackson — a lawyer who works with Juanita BroaddrickKathleen WilleyPaula Jones and Dolly Kyle — was hoping to bring at least one of the women to St. Louis to sit in the front row and throw Clinton off her game. But Jackson won’t get any help from the Republican presidential nominee. “I want to win this election on my policies for the future, not on Bill Clinton’s past,” Trump told me via email. “Jobs, trade, ending illegal immigration, veteran care, and strengthening our military is what I really want to be talking about.” Broaddrick has claimed she was raped by Clinton in 1978. (An attorney for Clinton has denied this.) Willey has said she was sexually assaulted by him. Jones’ sexual-harassment suit eventually contributed to Clinton’s impeachment. Kyle wrote a book about her alleged affair with the former president.

CLINTON’S LEAD IS BECOMING SAFER via Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight — The share of voters not supporting the major-party candidates remains higher than it was at this point in the 2012 campaign, for example, but the more it shrinks, the safer Clinton’s lead becomes. Clinton and Donald Trump now combine for a little over 84 percent of the vote. That’s the highest their combined share has been since we started issuing our forecasts in June. There hasn’t been a huge change, but it’s meaningful. We’re now only about a month away from the election; more voters are making up their minds. In recent elections, moreover, third-party candidates have tended to fade in the polls as Election Day approaches — (Libertarian Gary) Johnson and Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, appear to be following the same trend. Although Clinton would benefit from a wider margin between Trump and herself, she would also benefit if more voters made up their mind — even if those undecideds split evenly between the major-party nominees. The opposite is true for Trump. He would benefit if he could shrink the margin, but he should at the very least hope to make voters think twice before committing to either candidate.

DEMOCRATS HIT RUBIO WITH MAILERS ON IMMIGRATION REFORM via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times — U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is getting help from the Florida Democratic Party as he tries to make Rubio‘s positions on immigration a key issue this week. As Murphy has been meeting with immigration reform activists this week, mailers from the Democratic Party are hitting mail boxes slamming Rubio for once supporting comprehensive immigration reform but now supporting repealing President Obama’s executive actions that have blocked more than 750,000 children of undocumented immigrants from being deported at least temporarily. “Marco Rubio’s Flip-Flop Could Deport 800,000 children,” the new mailer says. The mailer is based on Rubio working in 2012 to create legislation to help Dreamers, children brought to the U.S. at a young age by undocumented parents. Many of those children have lived most of their lives in the United States, but once they graduate from high school they face the prospected of being deported. But Rubio’s efforts never led to any legislation. He said in an interview last week that President Barack Obama deserves blame for that. In the summer of 2012, Obama announced he was taking executive action to grant Dreamers temporary protections from the law. Rubio said it was an unconstitutional act and stopped all progress on the issue on Capitol Hill. “It is an unconstitutional order and it exceeds the power of the president,” Rubio said in an interview … Rubio has said the next president needs to repeal Obama’s executive order, even though immigration activists have opposed that and warned it could threaten more than 750,000 children of undocumented immigrants with deportation. In the Democratic Party’s mailers, they say Rubio “now stands with Donald Trump who wants to deport 800,000 undocumented children.”

THE EDITORIALISTS HAVE SPOKEN; WILL VOTERS LISTEN? via Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times – This is the time in the election cycle when media columnists write about whether endorsements have much to do with the outcome. The answer is usually, if not always, ‘no.’ But the question takes on another dimension this year because of the sheer weight of the endorsements against Trump. They are overwhelmingly against him, and they just keep coming, in language that is notable for its blunt condemnation of the candidate and its “save the Republic” tone … [Atlantic editor Scott Stossel] knows that the power of endorsements can be limited. But, he said, “One hopes that our endorsement, along with many of these others, will have an amplification effect that sort of ripples out” … “If it affects only a few people at margins in a few key states,” he said, “that may make a difference” … “Given our previous endorsements, we’re two for two,” he noted. The streak will stand or fall Nov. 8.

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UNF POLL OF FLORIDA: CLINTON LEADS TRUMP 47 TO 40 IN TWO-WAY RACE via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics —  The University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab poll found 47 percent of likely Florida voters would back Clinton, compared to 40 percent for Trump in a two-way race. Clinton also leads in a four-way race with 41 percent, followed by Trump with 38 percent. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson was in third with 6 percent, followed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 3 percent. The poll found 10 percent of voters were still undecided with about a month to go before Election Day. The survey found 46 percent of Trump voters said they were voting against Clinton, while 43 percent of Clinton voters said their vote was against Trump. The statewide poll of 696 registered likely voters was conducted Sept. 27 through Oct. 4. The poll has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

IN NEW AD IN SPANISH, RUBIO RESPONDS TO PATRICK MURPHY ATTACK via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The new 30-second Rubio ad features a shot of the Murphy ad and then says “FALSE” … “Patrick Murphy is one of the most ineffective members of Congress,” the ad begins. “He’s lied about his experience. He hasn’t worried about our issues. And now he lies about Marco Rubio, when Marco has been there for us. “A national security expert. Working on education reform. Fighing for fewer taxes. And defending the cause of liberty,” the narrator says. Rubio then speaks straight to the camera: “I’m Marco Rubio, and I approve this message because you know me.”

NEW ADS TARGET MURPHY OVER IRAN DEAL via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times — It’s far from the first time U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Senate Republicans have tried to make the Iran deal an issue in the election. In August the National Republican Senatorial Committee took aim at Murphy over it. And last month, Rubio took to Twitter and slammed Murphy for being “weak on national security and terrorism” because of his support for the Iran nuclear deal and his voting against a bill in the House that would barred any future cash payments to Iran. That bill was a response to a $400 million payment the U.S. made to Iran early this year, which Republicans have called a “ransom” payment since it coincided with the release of four Americans held by Iran. (The Obama administration rejects that assertion and says the money was part of an overdue settlement owed to Iran.)

SPARKS FLY OVER SOLAR AMENDMENT DURING RADIO-SHOW DEBATE via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The two sides in the campaign over Amendment 1 disagreed … as to whether the measure will promote or discourage the growth of solar energy, during a Jacksonville radio station’s call-in show. Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot would preserve a right for residents to own or lease solar devices, while prohibiting customers who don’t have solar from subsidizing those who do not. Screven Watson, a consultant to the Amendment 1 campaign, said during the WJCT-FM “First Coast Connect” program that the measure doesn’t expand government’s role in solar energy. But he said it leaves government to “evaluate” in the future if utility customers are “unfairly” maintaining the electrical system. But opponent Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy responded that language prohibiting subsidies is a “poison pill” designed to make it more difficult for solar energy expansion. “This is a monopoly wolf in solar sheep’s clothing,” Smith said, referring to the utilities. “This is what they’ve done intentionally, by using these eye candy phrases and knowing how popular solar is, they have slipped the poison pill – the Trojan horse – into language by not defining what subsidization is.” Some of the debate was spent on Smith and Watson accusing each other of being a proxy for the others’ financial backers. Utilities have contributed more than $16 million of the $21 million raised by Consumers for Smart Solar. The amendment petition drive was launched in 2015 in response to a failed ballot measure backed by environmental groups and home solar energy installers to remove regulatory barriers to solar energy. “This is not just for utilities,” Watson said of Amendment 1. “That makes it easy for Mr. Smith to have all these parade of horribles” … “If you read the amendment, this is not some bouquet of roses handed to anybody – including the utilities,” he said.

CHARLIE CRIST LEADING DAVID JOLLY 50%-39%, NEW POLL SHOWS via Charlie Frago and Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – A poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows Crist with a commanding lead over incumbent Jolly … Crist leads Jolly by a 50-39 percent margin. The 11 percent of undecided voters lean Democratic by a 37-20 percent margin. The poll, conducted by telephone with 400 likely voters in the 13th Congressional District, found Crist’s support deeper among district voters than … Clinton (45 percent) and Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy (46 percent). Jolly’s unfavorable ratings have climbed from 23 to 27 percent in the last several weeks, although 41 percent of voters still view him favorably. The poll conducted between Oct. 2-4 by Anzalone, Liszt Grove Research has a margin of error of 4.9 percent. “I’m glad they’re feeling so confident,” Jolly said about the poll … He called the survey a “push poll” and said pollsters wouldn’t allow respondents to say their support Jolly.

— “At Tiger Bay debate, Charlie Crist, David Jolly agree on at least one thing: their opponent is a liar” via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics

— “Bill Young widow backs Charlie Crist over former Bill Young aide David Jolly” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

IS RANDY PERKINS A DEMOCRATIC DONALD TRUMP? via Simon Pathé of Roll Call – A super PAC is attacking a candidate as “unhinged” and “not fit” for federal office and is going after his business record. In another group’s ad, a Vietnam veteran says the candidate’s behavior “sickens him.” The candidate in question isn’t Trump. He’s Democrat Perkins, who’s running in Florida’s 18th District … Perkins made headlines last month when he told Republican opponent Brian Mast in an editorial board meeting with the Treasure Coast Newspapers that he wasn’t “man enough to stand behind [his] own ads.” Mast is a double amputee who lost both legs in a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan. The Army veteran received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Republicans have been attacking Perkins’ business record, trying to question his temperament and character in a way that’s reminiscent of Democratic attacks on Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. The Congressional Leadership Fund launched its first TV attack on Perkins this week as part of a $2.1 million independent expenditure campaign in the district. “They’re being meanies,” Perkins said in an interview … about the Republicans attacking him. “And the problem is I know so many of them.” Even some Democrats compare him to Trump. Perkins’ behavior during the editorial board meeting was one of the “worst displays” in recent American politics, said a Democratic strategist who works in Florida politics and volunteered the Trump comparison. “Were they saying that in a good way or bad way?” Perkins asked when told of the comparison.

MARIO DIAZ-BALART AIRS FIRST RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN AD, IN SPANISH via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The Miami Republican faces a nominal challenge from Democrat Alina Valdes, an unknown, first-time candidate … Taking no chances, Diaz-Balart began airing his first TV ad of the campaign this week, on Spanish-language television in Miami. Its release coincided with the mailing of absentee ballots to domestic voters. “We’re living in uncertain times,” Diaz-Balart says in a serious tone. “Families working more and earning less. We can’t continue down this path.” Congress should cut taxes, reduce the national debt and “defeat terrorism,” he continues. “I’m Mario Diaz-Balart and I approve this message to keep fighting for our values,” he concludes.

SENATE CANDIDATE NANCY MILLER: THERE’S A ‘WITCH HUNT’ FOR CONFEDERATE SYMBOLS via Lynn Hatter of WFSU – In Florida, the state Legislature took down a statue of a confederate general in Congress’ statuary hall. The Florida Senate elected to remove a confederate flag from its seal. For many, such emblems are painful reminders of America’s slave-based economy while others see them as a symbols of sacrifices made by their ancestors. And the latter is the reason Miller says she decided to run for state Senate. “When the flag came down tragically, heartbreakingly in South Carolina–and I call it a witch hunt on all things Confederate. And where’s the witch? Witch. Witch. Witch. And if you were a confederate, you were indicted. And so everything had to come down,” Miller said during an interview with radio host Rocky D posted on her Facebook page … Miller recently criticized incumbent Florida Senator Bill Montford, a Democrat, for his votes against bills limiting abortion options, and gun access, and in favor of proposals to remove confederate emblems. “It’s time we elect a senator who shares our values. And finally, you have a choice between a liberal Hilary Clinton professional politician. Or a small-business owner who supports making Florida and America great again,” Miller said.

DANA YOUNG MAILER LEAVES OUT CONTEXT OF FRACKING BILL via Allison Graves of PolitiFact – In an attempt to position herself as a more environmentally-friendly candidate, state Rep. Young sent mailers touting her vote for a recent bill targeting fracking. The effects of the legislation Young voted for are not as clear cut as the claim Young makes. A third-party group supporting Young, who is facing Democrat Bob Buesing … sent the mailer in the last weeks of September that says she “voted for a statewide fracking ban to protect our water.” The group, the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, paid for the mailpiece, but the mailer says that Young approved the message. So we are putting Young on the Truth-O-Meter. That vote is in reference to HB 191, which would have set up a temporary moratorium on fracking in anticipation of future regulations. The bill would have authorized a study on which to base further regulation. It was not an outright ban on fracking. Young’s claim is partially accurate but is missing context that would give the reader a different impression. For that reason, we rate Young’s statement Half True.

NO FLORIDA CHAMBER ENDORSEMENT FOR DAVID SINGER? THAT’S NOT WHAT HE HEARD ON HIS VOICEMAIL via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – It started Monday night … Singer got a voicemail on his cellphone at 8:28 p.m. from Florida chamber senior vice president of political strategy Marian Johnson saying, “I wanted to let you know that we got the endorsement for you and, um, I’ll be talking to you in the next couple of days and, and letting you know what’s going on. Talk to you later and congratulations.” On Tuesday … Singer told a reporter he had learned he would be getting the Florida Chamber’s endorsement in his race against Republican Jackie Toledo. He welcomed it as a sign of recognition that he was moderate and pro-business enough to work across the aisle in Tallahassee … On Wednesday, the chamber called the Times to say, no, it wasn’t taking a side in that race. “We have not and will not be taking a position on House District 60,” chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousleysaid. “We will be remaining neutral in that race.” Ousley said she believed Singer had misunderstood what the chamber’s decision was, but she said he had heard from someone on the chamber’s staff Wednesday and was aware that it was not going to issue an endorsement in his race. She did not go into the reasons why. (In the GOP primary, the chamber endorsed Toledo’s opponent, Tampa construction company owner Rebecca Smith.)

***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.***

NEW SURVEY SHOWS THE ECONOMY, JOBS REMAIN TOP CONCERNS FOR FLORIDIANS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — The 2016 USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey found the economy remains one of the most important issues facing Florida. The report, released Thursday, found two-thirds of Floridians feel financial stress in their own household. “The notion that the economy has not fully recovered is evident with the economy/jobs cited as the most important issue facing Florida and the lack of well-paying jobs as the greatest threat to the state’s economy,” said Susan MacManus, a professor at the University of South Florida. The survey, conducted by The Nielsen Company, polled 1,248 Florida adults from Sept. 1-19. The survey found 24 percent of Floridians said economy was the biggest issue in the state. When it comes to the biggest threat to the economy, 28 percent of Floridians said they were concerned about a lack of well-paying jobs; while 24 percent said government waste, taxes, and regulations.

AHCA FINALIZES INCREASES FOR MEDICAID HMOS via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Seventeen HMOs participating in the statewide Medicaid managed care assistance program will get an 8.2 percent bump in payments this year and another six long-term care plans will receive a smaller 0.9 percent hike in payments, information released by the state shows… In all, the increases mean the HMOs that participate in Florida’s mandatory Medicaid managed care program will receive an additional $958 million in state and federal Medicaid funds to treat the poor, elderly and disabled in the coming year. The Agency for Health Care Administration, which administers the Medicaid program, finalized new reimbursement rates for the managed care plans on Sept. 28. The new rates will be applied retroactively to Sept. 1. The final reimbursement rate for the 17 HMOs is higher than the 7.5 percent increase the agency initially proposed. AHCA did not, however, immediately comment on the reasons why the reimbursement was increased. The 8.2 percent hike includes increases in payments needed due to changes made to the program this past year, including pay increases the HMOs must provide certain physicians as part of an “incentive program” as well as the requirement that the plans provide direct access to Hepatitis C drugs. If those changes were excluded, the increase would have been 5.8 percent.

DRAFT OPINION SAYS TENA PATE NOT BANNED FROM LOBBYING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A proposed Florida Commission on Ethics opinion says Pate, former chair of the state’s parole panel, is not subject to the state’s two-year lobbying ban on high-level employees. Pate chaired the Florida Commission on Offender Review, formerly known as the Florida Parole Commission, beginning in 2010, after being appointed in 2003. She resigned to run for the nonpartisan Leon County supervisor of elections seat this year. Pate lost in a three-way race to state Rep. Alan Williams and voting systems manager Mark Earley, who will face each other in a runoff election. The document finds Pate would be banned from “representing persons or entities for compensation before the commission” itself until March 31, 2018, but that she is free now to lobby “the governor, members of the Cabinet, or the Legislature.” That’s because they’re not “a government body or agency of which (Pate) was an officer or member,” the proposed opinion says.

PERSONNEL NOTE: JODI STEVENS LEAVING MAYERNICK GROUP FOR NEW ROLE AT PACE CENTER FOR GIRLS via Florida Politics – Stevens has left the firm for a new role as Director of Government Affairs for PACE Center for Girls … a statewide nonprofit prevention and early intervention model, which specializes in education, counseling and advocacy for middle and high school aged girls. Stevens … was most recently an associate with the Mayernick Group, which counts PACE Center for Girls among its clients. At PACE, Stevens will be responsible for both Legislative and Executive branch education and legislative efforts for PACE’s 19 centers located throughout Florida. In addition, Stevens will oversee the legislative efforts associated with PACE’s expansion efforts into other states, including Georgia, and its federal work on behalf of girls and young women.

SPOTTED on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect: Rich Heffley.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of the best guys in Florida politics, Jim Rimes. More belated wishes to Joe Follick and Pinellas Tax Collector Diane Nelson. Celebrating today is Mark Logan, wordsmith John Peck, Randy Osborne, Josh Weierbach. Early birthday wishes to Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, Vivian Myrtetus, Keyna Cory, Ben Diamond, Mike Grissom, Tia Mitchell, Sen. Joe Negron, and Ron Watson.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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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