Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 10.3.16 – A great weekend for the Seminoles (not the football team, of course)

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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.

STATE, SEMINOLES SQUARE OFF

Monday begins the opening of a contest that pits the state of Florida against its richest, most powerful American Indian tribe.

Over a weeklong trial, a federal judge will hear arguments and witnesses on whether the Seminole Tribe of Florida can continue to offer blackjack, including at its casinos in Tampa and South Florida.

The tribe filed suit last year after a portion of a five-year gambling deal with the state expired. It granted the tribe exclusive rights to the card game in return for revenue share.

In sum, blackjack is big business for the tribe, which last week also consolidated control over the Hard Rock hotel and casino brand.

Gov. Rick Scott in December reached a seven-year deal worth $3 billion to the state (the new “Seminole Compact”). The tribe could keep blackjack and add table games, such as craps and roulette.

The deal also allowed for slot machines at a Palm Beach County dog track and left an opening for a new casino to be built in Miami-Dade. It created a path for existing tracks in that county and Broward to eventually add blackjack tables as well.

The compact then drowned in a flash flood of amendments. Various interests—including the owners of existing tracks that compete against the Seminoles—pushed for changes that were not part of the original deal.

Pro-gambling and gambling-averse lawmakers locked horns, and the compact died, having never come up for a vote.

The Compact “will be for another day, and for somebody else to handle,” Senate President Andy Gardiner said in March. He’s term-limited this year.

Having lost on the fourth floor of the Capitol, the tribe pressed on three blocks up Adams Street, in Tallahassee’s federal courthouse.

Even without a new agreement, the Seminoles say they can keep offering blackjack because the state broke its word. Regulators allowed “card rooms in the state to conduct various card games” that unfairly compete with the tribe, according to court filings.

For example, the tribe said state officials “permitted pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to conduct card games such as blackjack, a house-banked game, using electronic (machines).”

The state countered, in part, by claiming sovereign immunity: You can’t sue us because we never agreed to be sued.

Moreover, federal Indian gambling law “expressly prohibits any claim that the State has failed to negotiate new compact terms when there is an existing” agreement.

The tribe responded that the state waived immunity by filing its own lawsuit. And U.S. law allows tribes to sue states in federal court.

The original 2010 compact, absent the expired blackjack provision, is still in force, the state says. It covers slots and other gambling and lasts till 2030. The blackjack agreement was for $1 billion to the state over five years, which the tribe said it exceeded.

Meantime, the Seminoles got into a separate fight with POLITICO, the online news operation, over the release of financial information about their casinos. But the information wasn’t confidential; it was in an open deposition.

A reporter got the document through a public records request to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling in the state.

That side dispute was rendered moot when POLITICO hit the “publish” button in May.

It revealed Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen had said the tribe made $2.4 billion last year, nearly all of it from the gambling business. That just confirmed previously published reports about the tribe’s finances.

Which brings us to now; the trial is scheduled to begin before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle  Monday morning. Capital correspondent Jim Rosica will cover the first day.

On Friday, Barry Richard, one of the tribe’s attorneys, suggested skipping opening statements to save time since Hinkle was so well-versed on the issues. The state, however, objected.

SEMINOLE TRIBE TAKES CONTROL OF HARD ROCK BRAND via Florida Politics – The Seminole Tribe of Florida has consolidated its control over the “Hard Rock” hotel and casino brand, buying out remaining rights from the owner-operator of Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The deal was announced Friday in a news release. The terms were not made public. The acquisition means “the Hard Rock brand has now been united for the first time in more than 35 years under one controlling ownership,” said Jim Allen, Hard Rock International’s chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO. The tribe, which controls Hard Rock International, bought the casino and hotel-casino rights in the western United States, as well as Australia, Brazil, Israel, Venezuela and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. In late 2006, the tribe bought Hard Rock International, the 45-year-old rock ‘n’ roll-themed brand of restaurants, hotels and casinos. It operates the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood.

WHY THIS IS SUCH A BIG DEAL: It makes the Seminole Tribe of Florida a global gaming brand and allows it exclusive rights to bid with or license the Hard Rock brand. So, as international expansion opportunities pop up, such as Brazil (or potentially Israel) or other places, the tribe will be the ones bidding with the Hard Rock brand. It is the next step in going from a small tribal gaming operation that opened a bingo hall in 1979 to a dominant, recognizable global gaming brand.

WHAT DOES THE SEMINOLE TRIBE’S SURPRISE OUSTER OF JAMES BILLIE MEAN FOR FLORIDA GAMBLING, TAMPA’S HARD ROCK? via Jerome Stockfisch of The Tampa Bay Times – The ouster of Billie, the chair of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, could further complicate the state’s gambling industry, already mired in legislative and legal battles that have taken an economic toll at Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The tribe removed Billie from office in a Tribal Council vote that took many by surprise. The tight-lipped tribe released a statement saying only that the action came in response to a recall petition that “cited various issues and procedures of the Chairman’s Office.” Florida lawmakers and the tribe have been in a standoff over a gambling agreement known as a “compact” that would spell out what type of Las Vegas-style games would be allowed and the state’s cut of the proceeds. When a proposed compact backed by Gov. Scott died in this year’s legislative session, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino scuttled $1.8 billion worth of expansion projects at its Tampa and Hollywood facilities. The Hard Rock … was going ahead with some improvements in Tampa, including an additional parking garage with 750 spaces, a 30,000-square-foot premium gaming area, a 50-table poker room, a new restaurant and other amenities. But the new plans were a fraction of the original expansion project. It’s not known how a new leader might affect negotiations over a compact. One insider said he found the tribe in solidarity on the issue that lifted its members out of poverty. “Their issue with the state is pretty solid,” said Udy Epstein, a filmmaker who shot Wrestling Alligators, on Billie’s role in expanding American Indian gaming. “The governor wanted to sign a compact. The tribe is in a very solid position.” Epstein said Billie told him he would run for re-election, which is allowed under tribal law.

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DAYS UNTIL: First day domestic vote-by-mail ballots can be sent – 1; first day of early voting – 25; Election Day – 35; first Legislative Organization Session – 49; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 73; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 154.

FBI TALKS SECURITY WITH FLORIDA ELECTION SUPERVISORS via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – Details of the conversation are under wraps. But Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said voters should not be alarmed. “I’m not aware of any vulnerability to the state of Florida at this point myself,” he said. “This is the kind of good preparatory work that should have occurred, and I’m glad it’s being looked at now. Additional action is going to be taken. I’m very pleased that the state and federal government are acting in a proactive manner in this matter.” Sancho said the FBI, the Florida Division of Elections and possibly others were on the call. He said the FBI advised participants not to comment when contacted by the press. Meredith Beatrice, a spokeswoman for the division, confirmed the call was related to elections security. “As we near the General Election, Secretary of State Ken Detzner and the Department of State are in regular contact with all of our federal and state partners as it relates to elections security,” she said. “We currently have no indication of a Florida-specific issue.” … FBI Secretary James Comey said hackers were continuing attempts to break into electronic voting systems in the United States. His comments came after reported intrusions in Arizona and Illinois. Earlier this month, Sancho’s office blocked several malicious internet providers that had been flagged by the Division of Elections.

DONALD TRUMP TAX RECORDS SHOW HE COULD HAVE AVOIDED TAXES FOR NEARLY TWO DECADES, THE TIMES FOUND via David Barstow, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner and Megan Twohey of The New York Times – Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years … The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Trump … derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period. “He has a vast benefit from his destruction” in the early 1990s, said one of the experts, Joel Rosenfeld, an assistant professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. Rosenfeld offered this description of what he would advise a client who came to him with a tax return like Trump’s: “Do you realize you can create $916 million in income without paying a nickel in taxes?”

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’ TAKES ON FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE via Erin Strecker of Mashable – Judging from the opening minutes of Saturday Night Live’s season debut, the question on everyone at Studio 8H’s mind was: How on earth do you heighten this already unbelievable general election? Bring in Alec Baldwin, to start. As expected, SNL kicked off its 42nd season Saturday with a parody of the first debate between Trump (Baldwin, marking his first time in the role) and Clinton (newly minted Emmy winner Kate McKinnon). The most gasp-and-LOL-worthy moments from the sketch didn’t stray too far from the very OMG moments from Monday night’s actual debate, from Trump’s unique pronunciation of “China,” to his inexplicable Rosie O’Donnell call out, to his bromance with Sean Hannity. “I am going to be so presidential that all of you watching are going to cream your jeans,” Trump declared. “I’m better than ever, let’s do this!” Clinton — channeling Willy Wonka’s entrance — proclaimed. Trump’s microphone woes naturally made it into the spoof: “My microphone is broken. She broke it. With Obama,” he said. “Can you hear that? I think it’s somebody sniffing here.” When the moderator (Michael Che) asked Clinton what she thought of that statement, she cracked, “I think I’m going to be president!”

THEY GAVE TO TRUMP’S GOP RIVALS. NOW 95% ARE SITTING OUT THE GENERAL ELECTION via Seema Mehta, Anthony Pesce and Maloy Moore of the Los Angeles Times – Nearly 95% of those who first gave to [Trump‘s] GOP primary opponents are sitting out the general election, and of those who are still giving money, many are lining up behind Clinton instead. Trump has out-raised Clinton $7.4 million to $2 million among donors who supported his 16 GOP rivals. But that much support for Clinton is notable in a race where her Republican rival is struggling in the money contest. Clinton brought in $292 million to Trump’s $82 million through the end of August. Add in loans, transfers from joint fundraising committees and super PAC money, and the gulf grows, with $530 million for Clinton and $186 million for Trump, according to Federal Election Commission records through Aug. 31, the most recent period for which figures were available. Donors who moved to back Clinton cited an unease with Trump’s unorthodox and divisive candidacy, and concerns about what he might do as president.

CLINTON CAMPAIGN RAISES MORE THAN $154 MILLION IN SEPTEMBER via Rebecca Morin of POLITICO – Hillary for America raised about $84 million, while about $70 million was raised for the Democratic National Committee and state parties through the Hillary Victory Fund and the Hillary Action Fund … Clinton‘s campaign began September with $59 million cash on hand, while her fundraising committees had a combined $91 million. The average donation to Clinton’s campaign in September was $56 and more than 900,000 people donated to the campaign that month. The Democratic presidential nominee raised $143 million in August.

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THANKS, TRUMP: POLITICAL TV ADVERTISING IS FORECAST TO FALL THIS ELECTION SEASON via Rebecca Ballhaus of the Wall Street Journal –  Spending on political advertising has followed a steady upward trend in recent decades. This year, it may fall. Kantar Media/CMAG, a top ad-tracking agency, is forecasting that political spending on local broadcast television in 2016 will reach $2.8 billion — about $300 million less than what was spent in 2012, and $500 million less than the agency’s initial estimate for 2016. The reason: Trump hasn’t embraced ads in the way political candidates typically have in the past. “It’s hard to grow when one party stays off TV for so long at the top of the ticket,” Steve Passwaiter, vice president of Kantar’s political ad monitoring unit.

OMINOUS TWEET OF THE DAY@RogerJStoneJr: Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK – PRESIDENT, VP CAMPAIGN FOR HILLARY CLINTON IN FLORIDA — The Clinton campaign will get an assist from some big name surrogates in the Sunshine State this week. Obama will campaign for Clinton in Miami on Wednesday. Obama is scheduled to hold a rally at 4:30 p.m.Wednesday at Florida Memorial University, University Athletic Arena and Wellness Center, 15800 NW 42nd Avenue in Miami Gardens. Members of the press interested in covering Obama’s campaign stop should RSVP here. The campaign stop is part of several events Obama will be attending in Florida this week. Also on Wednesday, the president will give a speech on the Affordable Care Act at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He’s then expected to head to Miami to headline a fundraiser for the Democratic Governors’ Association. The president isn’t the only Democratic heavyweight stumping in Florida this week. Vice President Joe Biden will attend two public campaign events for Clinton in Florida today. Biden will kick off the day at a voter registration event hosted by the Florida Democratic Party at 12:45 p.m. at the Cheyenne Ballroom, 127 W. Church Street in Orlando. Doors open at 10:45 a.m. He’ll then attend a similar voter registration event hosted by the Florida Democratic Party at 4:30 p.m. at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center, 1845 John Rivers (34th) Street in Sarasota. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. Interested media can RSVP here. The voter registration deadline is Oct. 11.

PROMINENT BLACK LEADER DISAGREES WITH CLINTON CAMPAIGN EARLY VOTING PUSH via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – State Rep. Darryl Rouson … who is likely to be in the Florida Senate after November, thinks the effort is misguided. Even though early voting is especially popular with African-American voters. Many black pastors promote “Souls to the Polls” early voting on the final Sundays before Election Day, but Rouson thinks the push should be on mail voting. “Fewer people are going to the polls every election, and more people are voting by mail, so let’s embrace the future,” he said. “Where I think the effort ought to be focused – and I said this to (my pastor) – is Ballot Sunday: In other words, encourage all 3,000 members of the congregation to request a vote by mail ballot and have them bring them all to church on Sunday, and have the supervisor of elections there to pick them up. Talk about convenience, talk about encouraging voting, and where do you fund the most numbers of African-Americans at 10 o’clock on Sunday but in church?” Rouson is among a number of African-American Democrats lamenting lately that the Clinton campaign is not doing more to court and mobilize black voters. Bishop Victor Curry, an influential pastor and radio host in Miami, said he’s close to giving up on the Clinton campaign. “I’m not sure what’s going on there. I don’t know what they’re waiting for. It honestly reminds me of the Alex Sink campaign for governor a few years back. There was no motivation,” said Curry, suggesting that the Clinton campaign is mistaken if they think anti-Trump sentiment will be enough to drive strong black turnout. He said he and other Democratic pastors and community leaders will work to drive out the vote with or without the Clinton campaign.

REPORT THAT TRUMP DID BUSINESS IN CUBA UPS THE ANTE IN FLORIDA via Jeremy Peters of The New York Times – As the race between Clinton and Trump teeters on a razor’s edge in Florida, their campaigns are scuffling over business that Trump may have conducted in Cuba while American companies were barred from operating there. The issue has already started to percolate among the state’s large Cuban-American population and could have the potential to undo some of the progress that Trump — a pariah to many Hispanics — had been making there. The report that Trump’s corporation spent $68,000 on a 1998 trip to explore business opportunities in Cuba fit neatly into a line of attack the Clinton campaign has been pursuing recently. For his part, Trump denied trying to invest in Cuba, telling a New Hampshire television station … “I was not involved in doing business in Cuba.” Whatever the purpose of the $68,000 trip was, Trump said his companies never entered into any agreement to do business on the island. The question of whether Trump sought business opportunities in Fidel Castro’s Cuba is explosive not only because of how loathed the Castro government is among Cuban-Americans in the Miami area, but also because Trump has taken such a hard line against the Obama administration’s policy of normalizing relations with the island nation. As far back as 1999, in public at least, Trump called efforts to restore relations with Cuba “pure lunacy.” The news media in South Florida has been especially fixated on the report, with Spanish-language broadcasts running story after story headlined “Cuba Connection” and “Embargo Violation?” … Marco Rubio … asked about the report at a news conference in Miami, said that while he was concerned, he was still waiting to learn all of the facts. Trump’s allies in Florida have dismissed the Newsweek report. His campaign chairman in Miami-Dade County, Lorenzo Palomares, told the Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Americas that the article was a political ad “paid for by Hillary Clinton.”

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PATRICK MURPHY BETS HE CAN BEAT MARCO RUBIO DESPITE WHAT POLLS SHOW via Isadora Rangel of TCPalm – Murphy acknowledged he’s struggled to get his name recognized across the state, but he’s betting he can turn … Rubio‘s recognition among voters against him. Murphy is 5.5 percentage points behind Rubio in an average of polls and said his name recognition is about 50 percent compared to Rubio’s near 100 percent. He said once voters get to know him, he can win the race by three to four points. A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll … showed 29 percent of Florida voters had never heard of Murphy and 2 percent never heard of Rubio … Murphy, who spoke to AFL-CIO labor union members, touted his support for a minimum wage increase and equal pay for women as issues on which he and Rubio differ. He also told the union “we have to make sure collective bargaining is here to stay,” and maintaining that will largely depend on the next U.S. Supreme Court justice appointment. Republicans control the Senate, which confirms appointees. Democrats need to pick up at least four seats — five if Trump is elected — to flip control …  Murphy said he and Rubio are in a “dead heat” in the race and advised AFL-CIO member making phone calls on his behalf to reach out to Republicans as well. Murphy continued to harp on a common theme of his campaign: Rubio’s absence from the Senate during his unsuccessful presidential race and his unwillingness to commit to serving a six-year term if elected and not run for president again in 2020. Rubio hasn’t confirmed or denied he will run again. “When you make those calls don’t leave out the Republicans,” Murphy said. “A lot of them are not happy with Sen. Rubio. And guess what, the guy said he doesn’t like the job.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSMurphy will hold a roundtable discussion with DREAMers and immigration reform advocates at 10 a.m. at Café Coabana, 73 S. Semoran Blvd. in Orlando. Media interested in attending should RSVP to Press@MurphyForFlorida.com.

TV AD: IT’S BAD WHEN RUBIO SKIPS WORK, WORSE WHEN HE DOESN’T via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The Senate Majority PAC is out with a new TV ad attacking Rubio‘s absenteeism and record of education funding and Social Security. The transcript: Announcer: “Marco Rubio has the worst attendance record of any Florida senator in 50 years. But it’s even worse when he shows up … He’s voted for a plan that would cut Social Security – and has said Social Security is “bankrupting our country” and has ‘weakened us as a people’ … He wants to eliminate the Department of Education – and has voted for billions in education cuts … Marco Rubio. It’s bad when he misses work. It’s worse when he shows up.

RUBIO ASSISTS AT CAR CRASH SCENE via Kevin Robillard of POLITICO Florida – Nevada Rep. Joe Heck and Rubio helped victims of a deadly car crash in West Virginia … The two Republicans were driving to their hotel after an event in Ohio when a semi-trailer truck on the opposite side of the road lost control and crossed the median, striking the three cars driving in front of them. Rubio and Heck, who is a trained combat surgeon, pulled over. They helped a victim escape from a car and provided assistance to the others until EMTs arrived. Heck pronounced one victim dead at the scene. Bernard Howard Bachmann, 62, was the victim … the truck may have hydroplaned on the wet road, and it doesn’t appear alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash. “Jeanette and I send our prayers and condolences to the family of the individual who tragically lost their life in Thursday night’s accident in West Virginia,” Rubio said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the first responders who arrived quickly and did their jobs with swift professionalism. Please join me in praying for all those affected.”

RUBIO ENDORSED BY NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — The Rubio campaign announced the Republican incumbent received a unanimous recommendation from the Florida Realtors RPAC Trustees. “Sen. Rubio has been a strong voice for realtors and homeowners, including an active role in the effort to protect the mortgage interest deduction and establishing fair and affordable flood insurance,” said Matey Veissi, the president of the Florida Realtors in a statement. “Sen. Rubio has most recently been working in the Senate to push for passage of legislation to broaden the flood insurance marketplace and lower rates.” Rubio announced in June he was running for re-election and easily won his Republican primary. The race is one of the most-watched Senate races in the country, and could play a role in determining control of the U.S. Senate. “I look forward to working with Florida Realtors as I continue to earn the support of voters across the state and fight for Florida’s families,” he said in a statement.

FIRST IN SUNBURN – PRO-MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROUP SET TO LAUNCH FIRST TV AD via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — United for Care, the group behind the medical marijuana ballot initiative, recently filmed its first advertisement and is expected to release it this week. The 30-second spot features a Miami Beach doctor talking about the benefits of Amendment 2. “Amendment 2 will allow me to legally recommend all safe and effective treatments, including medical marijuana, to patients who are suffering. ‘Yes on 2’ means I can offer compassionate, effective care and get my patients the help they need,” says Dr. Jeff Kamlet, a practicing internal and addiction medicine specialist in the advertisement. Kamlet has been a supporter of the amendment, writing an op-ed in 2014 backing it. … The ads are expected to air in Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Jacksonville markets

FIRST ON FLORIDA POLITICS – CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND SAYS RANDY PERKINS ‘IS NOT FIT FOR CONGRESS’ IN NEW VIDEO via Florida Politics — The GOP House leadership-backed super PAC plans to spend $2.1 million on TV and digital ads in support of Republican Brian Mast. The organization is kicking off its campaign with a 60-second video attacking Democrat Randy Perkins, saying the Treasure Coast Democrat “is not fit for Congress.” The ad — called “Meet Thin-Skinned Randy Perkins” — features video from a recent candidate forum with the Treasure Coast Palm editorial board. In the video, Perkins is shown asking why his military service makes him qualified to run for office. The video later shows Perkins saying Mast isn’t “man enough to stand behind your own ads.” Mast, a combat veteran, is a double amputee. The race between Perkins and Mast is shaping up to be one of the most-watched races in the state. Both men are vying to replace Patrick Murphy in the U.S. House, and the race is one of just a few competitive congressional races in the state.

BOB BUESING VS. DANA YOUNG STATE SENATE RACE IN TAMPA HAS STATEWIDE IMPLICATIONS via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – One of the Democratic Party’s best chances this year to counter-balance the Republican tilt in the Florida Senate might be in District 18 … a brand-new state Senate seat representing much of Tampa and western Hillsborough County … it’s 37 percent Democrat, 35 percent Republican. It has fewer black residents than the state average, but more Hispanics, Spanish-speakers and college graduates. Its voters twice went for Obama, but by thinner margins than elsewhere in Florida. But even with a slight edge in party registration, picking up a seat here won’t be easy for Democrats, who have 14 state senators to the GOP’s 26. That’s because District 18 doesn’t have an incumbent senator, but it does have Republican Young. The House Majority Leader faces Democrat Buesing, a prominent Tampa lawyer and childhood education advocate, and two no-party candidates, Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove, in the Nov. 8 election. “I have a proven track record of being an effective advocate for our community,” says Young, an attorney who grew up in a family steeped in Florida politics. Her grandfather was former Senate President Randolph Hodges. Her father, Don Duden, served as assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Her uncle, Gene Hodges, served eight terms in the Florida House. “I know what I’m doing,” she says. “I take this job very seriously, and I work hard. … I understand the diversity of the population, the diverse interests I’m representing, and I try to govern in a way that reflects the interests of everyone.”

But the wild card in this race is Redner, 76, known in Tampa for running the Mons Venus nude dance club, his run-ins with the law over the First Amendment and his in-your-face political style. Like Redner, Upthegrove, a 35-year-old Air Force reservist, says he’s disillusioned with the two-party system and what they both describe as its codependent relationship with special interests. He wants to focus on transportation and education, especially practical education that emphasizes skills students can use in life. But Upthegrove won’t have the $400,000 Redner says he plans to put into his campaign.

YOUNG TOUTS BEER BILL IN NEW DIGITAL AD — Young is highlighting her work on behalf of craft brewers in a new digital advertisement. “Unlike 47 other states, Florida’s craft beer industry was fighting a monopoly, out to hurt them,” she says in the 30-second spotcalled “Brewing Freedom.” “These business were told by the big boys, ‘sell us your beer and we’ll sell it back to you at higher prices.’ So I led the fight to stop this madness and gave hese small businesses the only thing they ever wanted, a chance to succeed.” Young worked for years to get a law banning 64-ounce growlers repealed, and was a key backer of the 2015 legislation that did just that.

JIM MESSER HITS LAUNCHES FIRST TV AD — Republican Jim Messer released his first campaign ad in his House District 9 race. The 30-second spot features his wife of 31 years, Laurye. In the ad, Laurye Messer says she has watched her husband “grow, serve his country and work and volunteer for our community.” “Jim never quits and that’s the kind of determination we need in the Florida House,” she says. “We need someone fighting for state employees, our environment, and economic development. Jim won’t quit until he gets results and that’s good for all of us.” Messer faces Democrat Loranne Ausley in the Nov. 8 general election.

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

LA GACETA ENDORSES SHAWN HARRISON FOR HD 63 via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Tampa’s trilingual weekly newspaper, has endorsed incumbent Harrison … An editorial in the newspaper — publishing articles in English, Spanish and Italian — said that “normally, we support Democrats, but lately we’ve noticed some Democrats aren’t acting like Democrats. Lisa Montelione is on that list.” Publisher Patrick Manteiga is also a Democratic political activist. The endorsement notes that Montelione, Tampa’s District 7 city councilwoman, “approved two consecutive tax increases in the City of Tampa that combined, are the largest in the city’s history.” She “also recently extended the City’s red light ticket program,” it said. “Democrats don’t privatize our policing to private, for-profit corporations. These programs hurt the poor. These tickets are hard to fight, and the system makes mistakes.” On the other hand, Harrison “is a moderate Republican. Democrats can work with him,” the paper said.” … He’s smart, compassionate, focused and does his homework. He can build coalitions.”

CRITICS ATTACK MIAMI-DADE DEMOCRAT OVER TIES TO CANNABIS-INFUSED SEX PRODUCTS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald –  A Democratic legislative candidate in Miami-Dade County was previously a legal adviser to a company called Canna Teaze that marketed cannabis-infused sexual wellness products — like “hemp honey dust” and lubricants — but Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich says it’s a “dirty mischaracterization” for her Republican critics to use that job experience as a way to question her values. Gonzalez Petkovich, an attorney from Doral who’s running for Florida House District 103, told the Miami Herald’s editorial board that she’s “very proud of the work and the help that I offered” to Canna Teaze but said she no longer represents the company because its founder, Misty Lee, moved out of state. Gonzalez Petkovich said she met Lee two years ago when Gonzalez Petkovich was advocating for a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Gonzalez Petkovich — who is the registered agent and a board member of the Florida-based awareness group, CannaMoms — said she passionately supports the use of medical marijuana because “I really and truly believe that this is medicine.” Her involvement in Canna Teaze “was just in my capacity as an attorney helping [Lee] seek investment for this particular project that she wanted to pursue,” Gonzalez Petkovich told the editorial board Thursday. She said the products Canna Teaze aimed to sell were “essentially bath salts, bath beads — where it’s oils that you put in the bathtub, so when you suffer from chronic pain, this particular product is supposed to alleviate you” …“One of the products that she had was a cannabis-infused lubricant,” Gonzalez Petkovich acknowledged.

HAPPENING TOMORROW:

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2018 WATCH — AT SPRINGS SUMMIT, GWEN GRAHAM CONTINUES CRITIQUE OF SCOTT ON ENVIRONMENT, WATER via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Graham said Gov. Scott had damaged bipartisan support for the environment and blamed him for weakening the state’s water management districts. At the Florida Springs Restoration Summit … she built on her criticism in recent months of Scott’s environmental record by pointing to accomplishments of previous governors, both Democrats and Republicans. Graham, a Democrat from Tallahassee, is considering a bid for governor in 2018 … she’s concerned future generations won’t be able to enjoy Florida’s springs, which are threatened by groundwater over-pumping and nitrogen from sewage and fertilizer that fuels the growth of algae.

“I’m ashamed when I hear Floridians say DEP stands for Don’t Expect Protection or Department of Environmental Pollution,” she said. “And the governor should be ashamed, too – the buck stops at his desk.” In a July letter to Scott, she called for the governor to hold a special session to deal with water issues in response to algae coating beaches in South Florida … she said the next governor – joking that “whoever she is” – should hold such a special session. “The outrage and political will exists in this state; we just need to focus it,” she said. “And I believe a special session would do that.”

FLORIDA LOTTERY PLANS MAJOR EXPANSION UNDER HUGE NEW DEAL via WKRB – The Scott administration has approved a massive new contract for the Florida Lottery that could lead to a major expansion. Lottery officials, who report to Scott, earlier this month signed a 13-year contract worth more than $700 million with IGT Global Solutions. The contract calls for increasing from 2,000 to 5,500 the number of automated ticket machines capable of selling both scratch-off tickets and tickets for games such as Powerball. The new contract is considerably larger than the current one with Gtech, one of the world’s leading lottery operators, which merged with International Game Technology and changed its name. Lottery officials are defending the increased cost saying it is tied to increased sales projections that will result in more money being generated for Florida schools.

JACK LATVALA BACKS BUSINESS INCENTIVES, RAISES FOR STATE WORKERS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – “If we’re going to have economic development, and jobs are still the No. 1 thing on people’s minds, then we need to fund it,” he said after a medical marijuana news conference in Tallahassee. “I don’t know what the magic number is … we’ve got to see what we’ve got.” The Clearwater Republican is in line to become Appropriations Committee chairman under Senate President Joe Negron. Last year, Latvala championed Gov. Scott‘s request for a $250 million business incentive fund that ultimately died by session’s end … Scott said he would ask lawmakers for $85 million in 2016-17 for Enterprise Florida for business incentives. The governor also said he plans to push legislation to restructure the public-private economic development organization. House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran, however, nixed the idea quickly. “The House’s position on this issue has been clear,” he said in a tweet this week. “The government engaging in social engineering to pick winners and losers that benefit the 1 percent is a bad deal for Florida taxpayers. There will not be any corporate welfare in the House budget.” When asked about Corcoran’s opposition, Latvala said, “I’m just saying what I support” … “I think the House’s objection is philosophical,” he added. “I would hate to have to go through the budget and look at everything that we do that benefits a corporation or an individual that might also be considered corporate welfare.”

LATVALA SAYS BILL MAY PUT PSC OVER LOCAL UTILITIES via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Latvala … might file legislation for next year to put municipal utilities under the supervision of the state’s Public Service Commission. “I think you’re going to see a bill dealing with the municipalities that are currently not supervised by anybody above them, in terms of their (storm) preparedness, their rates,” he told reporters in Tallahassee. The commission already oversees investor-owned utilities, including rate increase requests. But the head of the organization representing municipal electric utilities said they already are well regulated by the cities they serve or by separate utility authorities. Earlier this month, Latvala — a Clearwater Republican — said he was considering legislative action to address the City of Tallahassee’s response to Hurricane Hermine. Specifically, he said he questions whether community-based power operations — such as City of Tallahassee Utilities — are positioned as well as they could be to recover after major storms.

LATVALA ‘VERY UPSET’ WITH FLORIDA’S WATER QUALITY WOES via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – “I’m very upset with the totality of what’s happening to our water supply around the state,” Latvala said … “It’s maybe not as sexy as talking about tax cuts or new programs but it’s just a fundamental responsibility of government to protect citizens and their water supply.” Months ago, green algae blooms caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee made national headlines. Then, in the wake of Hurricane Hermine, local governments including Tampa, St. Petersburg, Largo and Clearwater began dumping excess sewage into Tampa Bay. Now, a sinkhole has opened at a Polk County phosphate processing plant owned by fertilizer giant Mosaic, which both the state and company initially kept quiet. These incidents, said Latvala, “all portend for some attention because it’s just hard to imagine they’re all happening at the same time.” He pointed specifically to cutbacks in staffing at the Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency charged with ensuring state waterways aren’t polluted. But Latvala would not go as far as to say DEP is to blame for not taking a more active role. “I don’t know if there’s any culpability there,” he said of the Mosaic sinkhole. “I will tell you in Tampa Bay, DEP has been very responsive to the concerns of our delegation in Pinellas County.”

REGULATORS APPROVE INCREASES IN CITIZENS INSURANCE COMMERCIAL PREMIUMS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – … including a nearly 12 percent increase for condominium association common property in wind-vulnerable coastal areas. Premiums on those policies would increase by 11.9 percent effective Feb. 1. Citizens had sought an increase of 12 percent. Multi-peril policies for other condo association common property will increase by 4.5 percent; and property not belonging to a condo association — but rather to some other form of ownership or homeowners’ associations — by 5.4 percent. In coastal areas, premiums for wind-damage policies for nonresidential commercial properties — strip malls, for example — will increase by 9.8 percent. Similar policies away from the coast will see no increase. For common areas in condominium complexes not controlled by an association, the increase is 11.2 percent. The rate order released by the Florida Office of Insurance regulation does not affect the owners of individual condo units. Commercial policies represent a relatively minor piece of business for the state-owned insurer of last resort — 19,041 policies out of 491,512 total. In terms of risk exposure, Citizens’ commercial lines equal around $43.5 billion out of more than $135 billion in total exposure. The rest represents personal residential policies.

STAN GREER, GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEE TO BOARD OVERSEEING 911 SYSTEM, ARRESTED FOR SOLICITING ONLINE SEX WITH 14 YEAR-OLD via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Greer, AT&T’s Tallahassee-based area manager for regulatory affairs, was charged … with three counts of computer pornography … Greer also sits on the Florida E911 Board, which oversees statewide emergency number 911 systems. He was specifically charged under a section of state law that makes it a third-degree felony to “solicit, lure or entice … a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child to consent to the participation of such child in (pornography), or to otherwise engage in any sexual conduct.” A third-degree felony in Florida carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Local station WTXL reported that local police had “put up a fake ad on a website to catch people who were using the site to solicit minors for sex” … “Greer responded to the ad, (thinking) he was communicating with a father in a family and … persistently expressed a desire to have sex with (a) made-up female child,” it said. After he backed out of a planned meeting, police went to his home and arrested him, the station reported. Greer was booked into Leon County Jail and held without bail, according to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office website.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ELLYN BOGDANOFF TO BECKER & POLIAKOFF via Florida Politics – Bogdanoff, a former state senator from Fort Lauderdale who became a lobbyist, is joining South Florida’s Becker & Poliakoff law firm. Bogdanoff, a Republican, served in the House 2004-10, then in the Senate 2010-12 before being defeated by Democrat Maria Lorts Sachs when the two were drawn into the same district. Alan Becker, the firm’s founding shareholder, is no stranger to politics: He also served in the Florida Legislature in 1972-78 and is currently vice chair of Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency. Over the course of the year, Bogdanoff will work out of the firm’s Palm Beach, Broward and Tallahassee offices, said practice group chair Bernie Friedman in an interview later Friday. She will help grow the firm’s Palm Beach County government lobbying practice, as well as complement the estimable talents of B&P lobbyist Yolanda Cash Jackson in the capital. “She has a tremendous reputation before the House, the Senate and executive agencies,” he said. “Her ‘brand’ is someone who develops great relationships.” Friedman said the deal happened organically: He and Bogdanoff have been friends for years, having grown up together in South Florida.

HBO’S ‘BALLERS’ LEAVING MIAMI OVER SUBSIDIES AND ZIKA? via David Smiley and Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald – Over the summer, HBO announced that “Ballers,” a Miami-based football comedy centered around Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, would return in 2017 for a third season. Whether the show will continue to be shot in Miami, however, remains unclear. Miami’s mayors and film czars have been scrambling in recent weeks amid rumblings that the network may pull the plug on South Florida and move the show’s base of production out of state. They say they haven’t been told that “Ballers” is definitely leaving, but with Florida’s film subsidies program bone dry they’re not confident the show is staying, either. “This is an issue that, for [HBO], is worth millions of dollars,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who recently called one of the show’s producers in California to talk about staying in Miami. “We had a good conversation. It’s up to them right now.” Gimenez is among Miami’s officials and business boosters worried that if “Ballers” leaves, it will take millions in spending, scores of jobs and invaluable marketing opportunities with it. Ongoing concerns about a Zika outbreak on Miami Beach have been discussed as HBO weighs its options — presenting a public relations problem for the tourist-dependent region — but local officials say the real issue for the network is that Florida lawmakers ended film subsidies at a time when other states are throwing cash at the industry.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Ryan Banfill, Bob Lotane, Danielle Ochoa, and Danielle Scroggins. Celebrating today is Sen. Travis Hutson.

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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