Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 10.14.16 — 25 days left

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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.

CAN WE GET THROUGH THE NEXT 25 DAYS? via Elizabeth Drew for the New York Review of Books

On Twitter Tuesday, Donald Trump warned that “the shackles have been taken off me” and ranted about “Disloyal R’s…I will teach them.” He was heading off the deep end. If Trump was going down he would take as much and as many as he could with him. All bets were off. Already, not just the Republican Party but our body politic have sustained a serious blow.

Now, there’s a new sense of peril—whether we will get through this election without chaos and violence. Much is in the hands of the outsider who came in, broke all the understood rules, and took over the party he’d chosen for the furtherance of himself. At some moments in our history our democracy can seem fragile.

This is one of them.

LATEST NATIONAL POLL via Fox News: Hillary Clinton 45%, Trump 38%, Gary Johnson 7%, Jill Stein 3%. That’s up from a 2-point lead for Clinton in the last Fox News poll.

HOW ONE 19-YEAR-OLD ILLINOIS MAN IS DISTORTING NATIONAL POLLING AVERAGES via Nate Cohn of The New York Times – There is a 19-year-old black man in Illinois who has no idea of the role he is playing in this election. He is sure he is going to vote for Trump. And he has been held up as proof by conservatives — including outlets like Breitbart News and The New York Post — that Trump is excelling among black voters. He has even played a modest role in shifting entire polling aggregates, like the Real Clear Politics average, toward Trump. How? He’s a panelist on the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has emerged as the biggest polling outlier of the presidential campaign. Despite falling behind by double digits in some national surveys, Trump has generally led in the U.S.C./LAT poll. He held the lead for a full month until Wednesday, when Clinton took a nominal lead. Our Trump-supporting friend in Illinois is a surprisingly big part of the reason. In some polls, he’s weighted as much as 30 times more than the average respondent, and as much as 300 times more than the least-weighted respondent.

HILLARY CLINTON HAS 6-POINT LEAD OVER DONALD TRUMP IN NEW FLORIDA POLL via Florida Politics — According to a new Florida Atlantic University poll, Clinton leads Trump, 49 percent to 43 percent. The poll found 7 percent of Florida voters are still undecided. The poll found 51 percent of women and 46 percent of males back Clinton. Trump receives strong support from voters in the northern part of the state, where he leads Clinton 60 percent to 39 percent. Florida Atlantic University conducted two polls — a poll surveying 400 likely Florida voters and a poll of 400 Hispanic voters in Florida — from Oct. 5 through Oct. 9. The polls have a margin of error of 4.9 percen. … Clinton has a big lead in the Hispanic poll. The survey found 52 percent of respondents said they were backing Clinton, compared to 33 percent for Trump. Another 4 percent are backing Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, while 10 percent of Hispanic voters polled said they were undecided.

— “Donald Trump has 6-point lead over Hillary Clinton in Utah poll” via Nolan McCaskill of POLITICO

TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITHDRAWS FROM VIRGINIA via Michelle Hackman of the Wall Street Journal – The move came Wednesday night as Trump faced a new avalanche of allegations from women who told several different publications that the Republican nominee had groped or touched them without consent. Trump had built up a modest field operation in the state, though – unlike neighboring North Carolina – the Trump camp never considered its 13 electoral votes as crucial to his path to 270. The decision also comes just three days after Trump fired his Virginia state director, Corey Stewart, after Stewart participated in a protest in front of the Republican National Committee headquarters. Stewart, a Prince William County Commissioner, told The Wall Street Journal that he was promised 80 new staff positions by the RNC a few weeks ago, but only about one-quarter of that number were being deployed. “The RNC has not been very friendly and has been pulling resources out,” said Stewart. “They’ve been starving the Virginia Trump campaign even though it’s necessary to win the country. If we lose this state, it’s because of the RNC reneging on their promises to adequately fund the state’s ad program and ground operation.” With Virginia’s elimination, Trump is now operating in four primary battlegrounds: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. All four are considered crucial to Trump’s victory.

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND – TIM KAINE CAMPAIGNS IN SOUTH FLORIDA — Kaine is scheduled to campaign in South Florida on Saturday and Sunday. Kaine is expected to hold events in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. He is expected to encourage Floridians to register to vote before the Oct. 18 voter registration deadline.

TRUMP SLAMS MEDIA, DENIES INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT TOWARD WOMEN via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Trump used a campaign rally at the South Florida Fairgrounds to forcefully deny accusations he has touched women inappropriately. He said the claims are part of a “concerted, coordinated and vicious attack” orchestrated by Clinton‘s campaign and the media to deflect attention from the recent WikiLeaks release of emails damaging to Clinton. “These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false and the Clintons know it,” Trump told a crowd of several thousand at the Expo Center. “These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction and they’re outright lies…These events never, ever happened.” Trump focused his criticism specifically on a New York Times story about two women who say they were touched inappropriately by Trump and on a People magazine writer’s account of being grabbed by Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 2005. He didn’t specifically address a Palm Beach Post story about a Palm Springs woman who says Trump groped her at Mar-a-Lago in 2003, an allegation that the Trump campaign has said is not true.

SOME FEAR TRUMP IS RUNNING TO BE A DICTATOR via Michael Kranish and Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post – The populist candidacy that upended the GOP order and has torn through many of the norms of American politics is now raising a concern among critics in both parties: that Trump is, in effect, running to be a strongman with dictatorial powers. It would seem few aspects of daily life would be beyond the reach of the power he envisions. ‘If I become president, we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ at every store,” Trump said last year. “You can leave ‘happy holidays’ at the corner.” The real estate developer has cast himself as a “lone ranger” who leads a “one-man army.” Constitutional scholars say they are alarmed that Trump does not seem to understand the separation of powers. [And others] point to a glaring inconsistency in Trump’s rhetoric: many of his supporters on the right have long favored limiting the role of government. Conservative legal scholar John Yoo said Trump “reminds me a lot of early Mussolini … Very, disturbingly similar.”

TRUMP BACKERS TWEET #REPEALTHE19TH AFTER POLLS SHOW HE’D WIN IF ONLY MEN VOTED via Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times – As polls show that Trump would overwhelmingly win if only men were allowed to vote, the GOP nominee’s supporters have spawned a new Twitter hashtag: #repealthe19th. That’s a reference to the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The Twitter commentary began after Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight published an article looking at men’s and women’s voting patterns. He found that if the election only counted the male vote, Trump would swamp Clinton, 350 electoral votes to 188. A candidate must win 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

RNC TV AD SPENDING FOR TRUMP: $0 via Ken Vogel and Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO – The [RNC] insists that it’s doing everything in its power to elect Trump, but as Trump gets clobbered on the TV airwaves by his well-funded Democratic rival, the RNC has been conspicuously absent … the committee has not spent anything on commercials boosting Trump since he emerged as the party’s likely nominee. That’s a stark departure from recent elections. In 2008 and 2012, the RNC spent tens of millions of dollars on so-called independent expenditures – principally TV ads, but also direct mail and phone banks … The lack of air cover has prompted grumbling from Trump aides and allies, many of whom believe that the RNC was never fully supportive of their candidate and that it’s now turning its back completely on the anti-establishment nominee as his poll numbers crater.

GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR ‘WRITE-IN’ ARE OFF THE CHARTS via Juana Summers of CNN – Americans have expressed deep misgivings about both Trump and Clinton throughout the course of the presidential race. This week, their distaste is showing up in their search behavior. Google Trends data indicates that the online searches for “write-in” surged over the last week by more than 2,800 percent, hitting a record high since 2004. The states with the highest rates of search are not battlegrounds, but Republican and Democratic strongholds. As of Wednesday evening, three of the top market searches for “write-in” came in solidly Democratic states: Vermont, Delaware and New Jersey. Utah, a reliably red state that no Democrat has won since Lyndon B. Johnson; and Indiana, home to Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, round out the top five.

HAPPENING SATURDAY — MIKE PENCE, MARCO RUBIO RALLY REPUBLICANS AT ANNUAL EVENT — It’s just three weeks out from Election Day, and Florida Republicans will get the chance to hear two top GOP candidates make a pitch for their campaigns and Republicans up and down the ticket. Mike Pence is scheduled to give one of the keynote addresses. Pence will be joined by Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running for re-election. Rubio has taken heat in recent days for continuing to support Trump, despite his comments. Blaise Ingoglia, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, is also scheduled to speak. The 2016 Victory Dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m.Saturday at the Hilton Tampa Downtown Hotel, 211 N. Tampa Street in Tampa.

MAIL BALLOT REQUESTS APPROACH 3 MILLION IN FLORIDA via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Nearly 2.7 million Florida voters have been sent mail ballots for the presidential election, according to figures posted on the state Division of Elections website. That’s nearly one of four registered voters in Florida. The state’s figures, based on reports from all 67 counties, show slightly more Republican voters than Democrats have asked for mail ballots. But the top five counties, ranked by ballot requests, are Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Broward, Orange and Hillsborough, and all five voted Democratic in the last presidential election. Around the state, there are a few anomalies out there, too. For example, Pasco is a reliably red county, and a place where Trump has to do well if he’s to have any hope of winning Florida, but slightly more Democrats than Republicans in Pasco have returned their mail ballots.

NEARLY 200,000 VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOTS NOW HAVE BEEN TURNED IN via Florida Politics – As of Thursday, 196,857 ballots have been returned for the November general election. The exact tally was posted on the state’s Division of Elections website. That includes ballots to service members and others outside the country. Registered Republicans lead in voted ballots to Democrats by 83,646 to 77,817, a difference of 5,829. Other party and no-party voters have returned another 35,394 ballots to their local supervisors of elections. Lawmakers recently changed the name of such ballots to “vote-by-mail” ballots from the traditional “absentee” ballots. The state’s website for vote-by-mail and early voting statistics is here.

WHAT AMERICA’S SMARTEST EARLY VOTE EXPERT SEES IN THE DATA via Reid Wilson of The Hill — Democrats are turning out more voters than expected in Southern states. Republicans are mitigating Democrats’ usual advantage in the Midwest. And the first presidential debate may have had an impact on who actually shows up to vote. Those are the early conclusions drawn by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who tracks early and absentee voting more closely than anyone not employed by a national political party. McDonald predicts more than 40 percent of Americans will cast ballots before Election Day this year, and he says initial numbers show some surprising strengths and weaknesses for both sides. Florida is another stronghold for Democrats this cycle, with 29 all-important electoral votes. About 41 percent of those requesting absentee ballots are Republican voters, while 39 percent are Democrats — an edge of about 60,000 votes for the GOP. But that margin is much smaller than it has been in earlier cycles, and … Democrats tend to dominate early voting. “Traditionally, we’ve seen Republicans have an advantage in the mail ballots in Florida. If the current trajectory keeps going, day by day Democrats are whittling away at that advantage,” McDonald said. “Republicans need to establish a lead in the mail balloting to offset what we’ll see as a Democratic-friendly in-person voting period.”

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MARCO RUBIO HITCHES HIS STAR TO TRUMP, TRADING DECENCY FOR EXPEDIENCE via Fernando Espuelas of The Hill – Once again, Rubio is trading human decency for political expedience. With a roving eye toward the 2020 presidential election, Rubio reaffirmed his endorsement of Trump even after the “Access Hollywood” tape with Trump boasting about sexual assault. Which prompts the question, does Marco Rubio believe in anything other than Marco Rubio? Does he have a values core or is he simply a vessel of personal ambition? His well-documented history of taking multiple positions on issues, depending on his political needs, would seem to suggest an answer. Sure, you can’t twirl a Miss Universe baton on Capitol Hill without hitting an extremely ambitious, calculating Machiavelli with big dreams and an even a bigger sense of their own place in history. But Rubio is a special case. Rubio’s Senate career has been defined by his ostensible plan to end it as soon as possible with a gigantic leap into the White House. As an example, look at his four contradictory positions on immigration reform. Like a little sailboat in a storm, Rubio has tacked for and against reforming immigration laws with each gust of political wind. When he was a potential vice presidential candidate for 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, he quickly ditched his previous support for immigration reform to join the GOP candidate in an anti-immigrant kamikaze attack. Why is immigration reform so important for Rubio’s political fortune? His appeal to the Republican poobahs was not just due to his youth and TV-friendly looks, factors that could attract a new generation of Republican voters. More significantly, Rubio is one of the most prominent Latinos in the Republican Party, the same party that has lost the Hispanic vote with metronome-like regularity.

BILLBOARD TRUCK TAUNTS RUBIO AS HE KEEPS DISTANCE FROM TRUMP IN PALM BEACH COUNTY via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Allies of Patrick Murphy are doing what campaigns do this election season when … Rubio keeps his distance from presidential nominee Trump: Send out a truck to taunt Rubio. Rubio spoke … at a closed-door event at Boca Raton Synagogue. Roughly 27.6 miles away, at the South Florida Fairgrounds near West Palm Beach, Trump was revving up a supportive crowd that — as usual — did not include Rubio, although he did renew his endorsement of Trump this week. Murphy ally American Bridge, a Super PAC, sent a digital billboard truck to Rubio’s Boca Raton speech then headed to Trump’s rally to show how easy the drive could’ve been for the Senate contender. Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said there was no reason to attend any of Trump’s four events in Florida this week, ending with the Fairgrounds rally. She said, Rubio is “focused on his own campaign for re-election.”

DEEP-DIVE – ALONG WITH QUICK RISE, RUBIO’S TIME IN LEGISLATURE MARKED BY MISSED WORK via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The 2006 legislative session was winding down, and as is often the case, the chamber’s top budget-writing committee had a packed agenda. At its April 17 meeting, it considered nearly 40 bills, including legislation that created millions of dollars in tax credits and grants that were part of then-Gov. Jeb Bush‘s push to boost renewable energy; a bill that would expand by $2.5 billion the Florida Departments of Transportation’s ability to issue bond debt for turnpike projects; and a $52 million affordable housing bill that included millions in down payment assistance for “essential service personnel” like teachers, nurses and construction workers. During Rubio’s six years in the Florida Legislature before becoming speaker, he missed almost one in three, or 32 percent, of all his committee meetings. It included one committee, in which his absences put him at apparent odds with House rules. That number jumped to 36 percent during his time as House majority leader, a post that came with additional responsibilities outside of the committee room, according to archived state records.

PRO-PATRICK MURPHY GROUPS PLAN UCF RALLY AHEAD OF MONDAY’S U.S. SENATE DEBATE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Political groups and voters supporting Murphy say they are planning a rally for Monday evening before Murphy’s first debate against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. UCF students will join activists from several pro-Murphy groups, such as For Florida’s Future, America’s Voice, Working American Coalition PAC and iAmerica Action … The rally is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. near the university’s Alumni Center. Murphy and Rubio will debate beginning at 7 p.m. The event will be broadcast statewide and streamed online. It’s the first of two scheduled debates before Election Day, although a third debate is possible.

CD 7 RATED A TOSS-UP via Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball — There has been buzz all cycle that Rep. John Mica was very worried about facing a competitive race for the first time in a long time in a reconfigured district that Obama won in 2012. Those fears are coming true, as businesswoman Stephanie Murphy (D) has excited national Democrats with her late-starting campaign. Mica’s power of incumbency is blunted by the fact that he did not represent close to half the district prior to court-ordered redistricting. This race … moves from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.”

DAVID JOLLY CAMP UPSET THAT CHARLIE CRIST WON’T DENOUNCE DCCC AD THAT LINKS JOLLY TO DONALD TRUMP via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Team Jolly had an attorney reach out to local television stations in the Tampa Bay area media market, asking them to stop airing what they say is a “deceitful” ad that uses edited photos to physically place Jolly next to Trump, indicating the Congressional District 13 incumbent backs the controversial GOP nominee, when he most decidedly does not. In their statement … the Jolly team called on Crist to join them in denouncing the ad. Crist did no such thing. So Thursday they released a short video clip of Crist rather awkwardly addressing the disputed ad at a candidate forum at Eckerd College … “They have the right to … First Amendment gives them the right to do that,” Crist replies. “And it’s not my campaign, as you said,” he says while pausing. “So, that’s that.” He is then asked by the panelist if the visual misrepresentation was inappropriate? “I haven’t seen the ad, so in all fairness, I can’t comment” … “When given the chance to disown it and do the right thing, Charlie Crist chose Washington over Pinellas County,” said Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the David Jolly for Congress Campaign. “When given the chance to stand up for the community and against the very forces we complain about, Charlie Crist pleaded ignorance. When given the chance to show true character and civility, Charlie Crist, the self-professed defender of ‘the people,’ revealed that he is OK with deceiving ‘the people’ so long as it benefits himself.”

CAN YOU USE FAKE DONALD TRUMP FOOTAGE IN AN ATTACK AD? PROBABLY, SAY EXPERTS. via Amber Phillips of The Washington Post – Here’s a thought exercise for you for you: If a GOP congressional candidate has never met Trump, how can Democrats air an attack ad of him shaking Trump’s hand? The first response that comes to mind — for me at least — is: Photoshop. And that’s exactly what House Democrats’ campaign arm did when they superimposed Jolly‘s head over an image of another white guy shaking Trump’s hand. But is that even legal? Jolly, who is in a competitive re-election battle with Crist, doesn’t think so. But you can exaggerate something that might happen to prove a point, political ad experts tell me. The key is to make sure what you’re dramatizing doesn’t pass the believability test: Would a reasonable person actually think this is true? If so, media law says you’ve taken too much liberty with something. If a reasonable person can tell it’s fake, you’re probably good to go. And in general, the courts have given political ad makers wide latitude to dramatize things. Let’s take the Jolly example. Do you watch this and think he actually shook hands with Trump? Believability is in the eye of the beholder. But ad experts point out to me that the image of them “meeting” has the word “Dramatization” underneath it.

TWEET, TWEET: @AaronBlake: Seriously, though, photoshopping a candidate shaking Trump’s hand is pretty nasty stuff

JOLLY RELEASES INTERNAL POLL THAT SHOWS HIM LOSING, BUT BY A LOT LESS via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – A University of North Florida poll showed Crist pummeling Jolly by a 54-36 percentage point margin. Jolly, the Republican incumbent, is trying to counterpunch, a harder task considering he trails Crist in campaign cash by a growing margin. First, the Jolly campaign released an internal poll showing Crist only beating Jolly by two points (47-45 with 6 percent undecided) and with a lower unfavorability rating (30 compared to Crist’s 36). Interviews with 301 active registered district voters were conducted Tuesday by Data Targeting. The margin of error was 5.7 percentage points. The Jolly campaign also pushed videos taken … at an Eckerd College forum where Crist was asked about the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee photoshopped ad. Crist said his campaign had nothing to do with the ad and the DCCC and local stations were within their constitutional rights to air it. “So, you know,” Crist said, shrugging. “That’s it.”

NEW BRIAN MAST AD HIGHLIGHTS MILITARY SERVICE — The Mast campaign released a new ad Thursday featuring a man talking about how Mast saved his life during a military mission. The 30-second spot, called “Brian Mast Saved My Life,” is meant to highlight Mast’s courage on the battlefield, according to the campaign. Brian Mast is a soldier, who put everything on the line for everyone around him. During night operation, Brian was able to detect a trip wire – he was able to see it and disarm that trip wire. And because of him, none of us got hurt,” a man identified as Jake P. says in the advertisement. “Most people notice Brian’s testament to service when they see he has no legs. But I get to see it every morning, when I wake up to my children’s smiling faces. Brian Mast saved my life. I encourage you to vote for the person on the ballot with true courage and valor. We need Brian Mast in Congress.” Mast faces Democrat Randy Perkins in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. .Click on the image below to watch the ad.

CARLOS CURBELO GETS SUPPORT FROM SUPER PAC BACKING MODERATE REPUBLICANS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – A super PAC set up to defend moderate Republicans is spending $80,000 to help Curbeloturn out the vote. The group, Defending Main Street, spent the money with Las Vegas-based Advanced Micro Targeting, a company that uses data to help with voter contact and turnout. Defending Main Street’s top donor is California-based tech entrepreneur Sean Parker, who has given $400,000. The group also received large amounts of funding from union-funded super PACs including Working for Working Americans ($500,000) and Luna Building America ($250,000). Curbelo, an incumbent Republican who has been vocally opposed to Donald Trump, has gotten support from voters and groups that are not traditionally Republican. Clear Path Action, a super PAC that backs Republicans who support climate change, has also helped Curbelo. Earlier this week, the group funded a round of mailers to go out in Curbelo’s 26th Congressional District, which includes portions of Miami-Dade County and all of Monroe County.

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NATIONAL DEMS LIST JOSÉ JAVIER RODRIGUEZ, BETH TUURA, JENNIFER WEBB CAMPAIGNS AS ‘ESSENTIALS’ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee on added Florida House candidates Tuura of Orlando, Webb of St. Petersburg, and Florida Senate candidate Rodriguez of Miami to its list of “essential races” for support. The national group, which seeks to support Democrats at the state legislative level, now has 52 races nationally it has declared as essential, including just the three newly selected ones in Florida, involving Tuura, Webb and Rodriguez. Tuura is running in House District 47 against Republican incumbent state Rep. Mike Miller … Webb is running in House District 69 against incumbent Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena. Rodriguez is running in Senate District 37 against Republican state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami, who now represents Senate District 40, but is running in SD 37 due to redistricting. Tuura and Webb also are being upgraded to “essential” in a coordinated effort involving the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Both are openly gay.

TRAVIS HUTSON FOCUSES ON FAMILY IN RE-ELECTION AD — Hutson is using his new advertisement to introduce voters to his family, and talk about how he wants to work to improve the lives of families across Florida. “They remind me every day why the future is worth fighting for, with schools that work and jobs that secure us,” he says in the 30-second spot. “This isn’t just about my family. It’s about yours. We’re in this together and there’s nothing I won’t do to keep it that way.” Hutson faces Democrat Curtis Ceballos in the Nov. 8 general election. Click on the image below to watch the ad.

ADORABLE KITTEN ALERT: FLORIDA’S CUTEST ASTRONAUT WANTS KEITH PERRY IN THE SENATE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times –  Republicans are using an astro-kitten to make the case against Rod Smith, a former Democratic senator from Gainesville hoping for a comeback in one of the state’s biggest tossups. “Career politician Rod Smith: Less believable than a cat astronaut,” says the ad … It was paid for by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which backs state Rep. Perry … The race is a near-tossup with blue-leaning Gainesville and the University of Florida, as well as conservative rural Central Florida and Ocala in the district. Both parties have made it a priority. We may not know who will win Nov. 8, but we do know one thing: Believable or not, that kitten in a space suit is very cute. Update: It turns out there has ACTUALLY BEEN A CAT IN SPACE. Her name was Félicette, and she survived the harrowing journey that the French sent her on in October 1963.

LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS TARGETS PERRY via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The national group has named Perry, a Republican from Gainesville, one of its state “Dirty Dozen” legislators for his votes on water and fracking bills earlier this year, according to group representatives in Tallahassee. “Rep. Keith Perry’s career-long support for fracking and oil drilling in Florida makes him an obvious choice for this list,” Jonathan Webber, deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters, said in a news release. “By naming Keith Perry as one of the ‘Dirty Dozen in the States,’ we are highlighting his misguided priorities for North Florida.” Florida Conservation Voters, the state affiliate of the League of Conservation Voters, has endorsed Perry’s opponent, former Democratic state Sen. Rod Smith, in the Senate District 8 race. In response, a spokeswoman for Perry’s campaign noted Florida Conservation Voters had faulted Smith in the past for his environmental record when he served in the Senate from 2001 to 2006.

JAY FANT TAKES ON WASHINGTON IN NEW AD— The Jacksonville Republican released a new TV spot this week, highlighting the work he’s done in the state House and calling on voters to turn out to vote come Election Day. “Two years ago, you elected me as your state representative to defend our values and create jobs,” says Fant in the 30-second spot. “Right now the biggest challenge for our small businesses is Washington. That’s why I worked to stop the expansion of Obamacare, end funding for sanctuary cities and pushed back against federal regulations. We started the fight and conservatives are on the rise. This November, let’s make our voices heard.” Fant faces a write-in candidate in the Nov. 8 general election. The ad is airing on broadcast and cable in Jacksonville. .Click on the image below to watch the ad.

FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION PAC ENDORSES LORANNE AUSLEY via Florida Politics – Ausley is running for House District 9. “Loranne supported retailers during her previous term in the House, and we’re eager to work with her again as the new Representative for District 9,” FRF President & CEO Randy Miller said in a Thursday statement. Ausley faces Republican candidate and Tallahassee attorney Jim Messer in the November general election. Both seek to replace the term-limited Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda in the seat. Ausley, also an attorney, herself held the seat 2000-08 until she was term-limited. She has since served as chair of the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, which provides health insurance for children. The district traditionally swings Democrat: It’s entirely within Leon County, where registered Democrats currently outnumber Republicans by a roughly 2-1 margin.

BETH TUURA UP WITH NEW AD ON HER BACKGROUND, DETERMINATION via Orlando Rising — The 30-second spot, “Determination,” discusses her rise to success from being one of the first women in sports TV production booths to someone who has won three Emmy Awards running a successful independent TV production business contracted to do such events as Olympics. It then turns to Central Florida politics, focusing specifically on fracking and Planned Parenthood. “I’m determined to fight for a better Florida,” she says in the ad. “I will stand up to state officials who threaten our environment with fracking, I will protect a woman’s access to safe and affordable health care, and I will stand up to discrimination of any type to make sure everyone in our community feels safe.” Tuura faces Republican Rep. Mike Miller in HD 47, which covers north-central and northeast Orange County.

EDWARD JAMES DENIES SEXUAL ASSAULT ACCUSATION via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – State House candidate James was accused of sexually assaulting a young woman at a Sarasota hotel in June, according to law enforcement documents …  The woman called 911 to report that James “tried to rape” her, according to a report from the State Attorney’s Office. James, a Sarasota Democrat who is running for the District 72 state House seat covering northern Sarasota County, denied the accusations, telling police the act was consensual. He was not arrested and did not face charges after the alleged victim declined to pursue the case and prosecutors concluded there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed. In an interview with the Herald-Tribune Thursday James repeated his assertion that the sexual encounter “definitely was consensual” …”All accusations related to that matter are completely unfounded,” James said. “I answered all questions with law enforcement. There was a full investigation. I cooperated fully throughout the entire process and to be honest with you, I have nothing more to say.”

INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS ENDORSE SOLAR AMENDMENT — The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is backing Amendment 1, the solar power ballot initiative. The announcement comes just days after the Florida Professional Firefighters announced its support for the amendment. In its recommendation, the organization said the amendment “will assist in promoting increased use of solar power” in the Sunshine State. “By making it a Florida constitutional right to be able to own your own solar panels, consumers will have the certainty necessary to make this investment,” the union wrote in its recommendation. “The increased use of solar power is projected to increase job opportunities for IBEW members, (and an) expansion by solar companies and the introduction of new ones in the market are all opportunities for our members.” The amendment is backed by the state’s major electric companies, and outlines the rules for solar power in Florida. “Amendment 1 gives Floridians a history opportunity to advance solar in our Sunshine State, while ensuring our energy future is safeguarded with the proper consumer rights, consumer protections and consumer fairness, whether they choose solar or not,” said ‘Yes on 1’ Co-chairman Dick Batchelor.

AMENDMENT 2 MAKES SENSE via state Sen. Jeff Brandes for the Tampa Bay Times – In 2014, I opposed the constitutional amendment providing for new medical marijuana regulation in Florida. Like many others, I supported medical marijuana for suffering Floridians, but opposed the amendment because I strongly believed that medical marijuana legislation should be vetted through the Florida Legislature. I still believe that the best place for medical marijuana regulation is in state law rather than the Constitution, and I filed medical marijuana legislation in an attempt to do just that. However, the laws enacted by the Legislature have failed to provide Florida patients with adequate access to this form of treatment, and unfortunately the best way to reform the bureaucracy is to amend the state constitution … This is not a question of whether marijuana should be available to patients in this state. The Legislature has already passed, and Gov. Scott signed into law, multiple bills declaring that marijuana should be available to certain patients here in Florida. The debate now focuses on how medical marijuana should be regulated and which patients should be eligible to receive this treatment. The current law, which was primarily designed for a small group of children with epilepsy, has proved to be so bureaucratic that it has led to delays and legal challenges, preventing the children and other patients from gaining access to a form of treatment that may improve their quality of life. The current system is broken. Today, Florida patients are denied access to treatments that are available in 25 other states. Today, physicians have little protection from being sued for recommending marijuana to their patients. Today, a handful of special interest groups hold the only licenses to operate legal marijuana businesses in the state. Florida can do better.

FLORIDA POLICE CHIEFS: ‘JUST SAY NO’ TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Florida police chiefs are adding their names to the list of opponents against Amendment 2 … “The Florida Police Chiefs Association strongly opposes any and all proposals that would legalize or decriminalize the sale, possession or use of marijuana,” said executive director of the Florida Police Chiefs Association Amy Mercer. Mercer said the amendment could be problematic for Floridians and law enforcement agencies, expressing concerns it could threaten the safety of the community. Our top priority is the safety of our citizens and communities, and we believe this amendment may create more problems than it intends to alleviate,” Mercer continued. The Florida Police Chiefs join other law enforcement agencies like the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) and other local sheriffs agencies like the Orange County Sheriff and the Palm Beach County Sheriff in opposition to the amendment. “Though it’s being billed as about medical, we know it’s about recreation,” said Orange County Sheriff and FSA president Jerry Demings. “It’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

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HOW MUCH POWER DOES GOV. RICK SCOTT REALLY HAVE? via Gary Fineout of The Fine Print – Florida’s voter registration deadline was extended to Oct. 18 … U.S. District Judge Mark Walker has already pushed back the Oct. 11 deadline by a day in order to hold the hearing after the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit … In his ruling granting the one-day extension, Walker said that the deadline amounts to a “severe burden on the right to vote” and he suggested it was unconstitutional. The party filed the lawsuit after Scott turned down requests including an informal suggestion from the campaign of Hillary Clinton to extend the deadline. Scott, who is supporting … Donald Trump, said the reason he was doing it was that people had already had enough time to register. It’s not clear how hard the governor’s office plans to fight to keep the deadline. A spokeswoman for Scott put out a statement that said that the state will accept the judge’s decision … and that the governor would even seek to change the law during the upcoming 2017 session. But one question that is floating out there – and one that may not be totally resolved after the court hearing – is just how much power does Florida’s governor have during emergencies? Walker in his ruling suggested – but not definitely – that Scott lacked the authority to extend the voting deadline. In his order Walker wrote that while Secretary of State Ken Detzner was an appropriate person for Democrats to sue since he was the chief election official, he didn’t think that applied to the governor. He noted that while Scott has “general emergency powers” those powers may not include any power to alter the voting registration deadline. Those powers generally allow the governor to suspend laws if there is a declared emergency.

RICK SCOTT GATHERS UTILITY OFFICIALS AT MANSION TO ENCOURAGE COOPERATION via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – More than 50 electric utility executives gathered for dinner with Scott … at the Governor’s Mansion as part of his initiative to get the utilities to work more closely together. “My goal is everybody here tonight, when you leave, you know everybody here,” Scott said. “Because you don’t know when you’re going to need help.” In September, with more than 70,000 homes in Leon County left without power after Hurricane Hermine swept through the Big Bend, the response by state and local officials led to some political finger-pointing. Scott said Tallahassee had refused a state offer of assistance and Mayor Andrew Gillum described the governor’s press releases as a “sideshow.” The governor also said that utilities were accustomed to working only with the same types of utilities – investor-owned, municipal or electric cooperatives – and he wanted to do something about it. “This was only a category 1 hurricane,” Scott told utility representatives and officials from Leon and Wakulla counties in September. “So if we have a category three or five, it is going to be very incumbent for all utilities figure out how to work together.”

STATE AGENCIES BEGIN RELEASING BUDGET REQUESTS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – One day before the deadline, state agencies began releasing Legislative Budget Requests for the next fiscal year … budget requests include several “exhibits” and “schedules” – exhibits offer alternative views of an agency’s budget request, such as by issue or category. Schedules provide supporting documentation for exhibits. For instance, “Exhibit D-3A” is the most detailed level and constitutes the main body of the LBR. It includes a narrative justification for funding each issue or program. “Schedule I” is a detailed explanation of the agency’s revenue, expenditures, adjustments, which includes a summary for each trust fund. Reports covers the prior year, current fiscal year and the requested amount for the next fiscal year. “Schedule I – Department Level” or “Schedule IB” shows any unreleased cash from those trust funds. For the most part the cash has been committed and the balances are zeroed out. “Schedule VIIIB-2” requires agencies to show what could be cut from recurring funding if budget reductions are necessary. For 2017-18 agencies must show what a 10 percent cut in both General Revenue and state trust funds would look like. “Schedule VIIIC” is for program reprioritization. It allows an agency to identify programs, services and functions that are currently under its purview that may no longer be the highest and best use of state resources and provides an opportunity for an agency to recommend how those resources could be redirected. Agencies also include manually prepared exhibits and schedules as well as other documents specific to them. For example, the State Board of Education might include a long-term strategic plan or the Agency for Persons with Disabilities might provide a “Schedule VII” showing litigation with which it is a party.

PRISON TRANSITION GROUPS LINE UP AGAINST CORRECTIONS DEPT. via Nick Evans of WFSU – Bridges of America attempts to ease prisoners’ transition back into the community with substance abuse treatment and employment assistance.  It’s been partnering with the Florida Department of Corrections since the 1980s, and it’s spent most of the past year wondering if that relationship will see another year.  The department tried to wind down a Broward county facility this spring, and now Bridges of America CEO Lori Constantino-Brown says an Orlando facility is in danger. But it’s not just Bridges.

“These sweeping policy changes that haven’t been vetted affect not only Bridges of American but also impact a great number of programs across the state,” Constantino-Brown says. At a press conference Thursday, representatives from other reentry programs and non-profits joined Constantino-Brown in calling for a halt to the department’s moves.  The groups say the agency is attempting to take over transition services, and they complain the Department of Corrections lacks the authority to do so without going through the Legislature.

ADDRESSING PRICE TRANSPARENCY IN FLORIDA HEALTH CARE via Allison Wyman of Florida TaxWatch – Thanks to the leadership of state Rep. Chris Sprowls and state Sen. Rob Bradley, Florida health care will have greater transparency particularly with the creation of an all-payer claims database. Soon Florida consumers will have access to an easy to use website with real-time pricing and information exchange. Clear pricing information would allow consumers to comparison shop before engaging providers, resulting in the opportunity to reduce their individual health care costs and better budget for health care expenditures. Presumably, publicly available pricing would encourage competition between providers, forcing them to look for opportunities to remain viable in a more open market. So why isn’t everyone demanding to know the cost of their colonoscopy?  For one reason, health care is complex and states have struggled with reporting information in a user-friendly, understandable fashion. In addition, quality of care is of paramount importance, no one wants to be thrifty at the expense of their health!  Thus, useful data must incorporate quality and price into a user-friendly, easy to interpret matrix for consumer consumption.

HAPPENING TODAY – UM SCHOOL OF LAW HOSTS PANEL ON LEGALIZING MARIJUANA — Several experts are slated to discuss the ramifications of passing Amendment 2, the medical marijuana constitutional amendment, during a panel discussion hosted by the University of Miami Law School. Speakers include Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the United for Care campaign; Andrew Freedman, director of the Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination for the state of Colorado; Patrick O’Rourke, vice president, university counsel, and secretary of the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado; and Judge Alex Ferer, a former judge for the 11th Judicial District and host of “Judge Alex.” Melissa Kuiper Blake, a senior policy advisor and counsel at Brownstein Hyatt Faber Schreck, LLC will moderate. The panel is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Shalala Center, 1330 Miller Drive in Coral Gables.

FLORIDA KEYS SAFETY ALLIANCE AIRING RADIO ADS TO BOOST SUPPORT FOR GENETICALLY MODIFIED MOSQUITOES — The 60-second radio ad is meant to educate voters about the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito and encourage Monroe County voters to support a non-binding, local ballot question. The Florida Keys Safety Alliance was set up to inform Monroe County voters about a proposal to use genetically modified mosquitoes in the Key Haven community. The United States Food and Drug Administration in August published its final finding that releasing the modified mosquitoes into the wild would cause no significant impact to the environment. The finding marked the final regulatory hurdle Oxitec needed to overcome to begin the trial. “The Zika-carrying mosquito is a threat to our health and way of life. Our goal at FKSA is to make sure Monroe County residents know about technology that is available to them to suppress the invasive, disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito in the Keys,” said Steve Vancore, spokesman for FKSA, in a statement. “Oxitec’s technology is a new way to fight back. It has been tried and tested in several countries where it successfully reduced the Aedes aegypti mosquito population by over 90 percent. We know that as residents in the Keys continue to hear the facts, they will be better able to make an informed decision to support the local ballot question as they cast their votes this November.” The committee also began a direct mail campaign, which also looks to inform voters about the benefits of the trial. “Help stop a dangerous mosquito in Monroe County,” the mailer reads.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY this weekend to the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Edie Ousley.

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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