Sunburn for 10/23 – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the firm best known for smart, strong and strategic counsel across the diverse and ever-changing media landscape: The University of Miami football team is one of the nation’s most storied programs, and it all began on this date in 1926. That’s when the school’s freshman football team played its first-ever game, beating Rollins College 7-0. Later in that first season the team adopted the nickname “the Hurricanes,” although it’s unclear exactly who came up with the nickname. A year later UM added a varsity team, and over the past 88 years “The U” has won five national championships and two Heisman Trophy winners. In South Florida, it’s always Hurricane Warning time … despite the so-so season this year.

Now, on to the ‘burn…


Jeb Bush has a tax problem.

The former Florida governor has said he could accept tax increases in a hypothetical deficit-cutting deal. Never mind that he added that would come only in exchange for major federal spending cuts, or that he repeatedly cut taxes as governor.

Tax hikes are still apostasy in Republican circles, and the stance could be a big problem for Bush if he decides to seek the party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Bush’s views are already pitting him against one of his party’s most influential activists, Grover Norquist, the high priest of anti-tax orthodoxy who’s convinced nearly every elected Republican to sign a pledge not to raise taxes.

It’s the very issue that helped bring down Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, who lost his bid for a second term after famously reneging on a “no new taxes” pledge.

Add to that Bush’s left-of-party views on immigration and education, and he’s got a trio of issues where rivals would paint him as a squish, out of touch with the rock-solid conservatives who rule the early presidential primaries.

And while Bush might be able to talk through education and immigration by portraying himself as a forward-thinking Republican, opponents would seize on the slightest wobble when it comes to taxes.


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio gave what sounded a lot like a speech from a presidential candidate during a visit with South Carolina Republicans.

Rubio told reporters afterward that he hasn’t made any plans for re-election or a presidential run in 2016. But in his 20-minute speech in the state that will cast the first presidential primary ballots in the South, he only briefly mentioned the GOP’s candidates, spending most of his time outlining his conservative, populist vision to improve America.

Rubio called for more school choice and said college needs to be more affordable, citing student loan debt of $100,000 after he got his law degree. He also said Republicans need an alternative to the new health care law back by President Barack Obama instead of simply promising to overturn it.

Rubio also talked about his upbringing, recalling days sitting and listening to stories from his grandfather, who came to the United States several years after Rubio’s parents arrived in the country from Cuba. He said his grandfather instilled a love of the American dream that he wants to bring back.

Rubio’s trip marked his second appearance at a South Carolina fundraiser in less than two months. In his first visit, to Anderson in August, he was heckled for his stance on immigration while speaking at a barbecue sponsored by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan.

One of South Carolina’s U.S. senators, Tim Scott, joined Rubio at the luncheon, which raised money to help South Carolina Republicans get out the vote for the Nov. 4 elections. Scott is facing a weak Democratic challenger next month as he runs to fill out the last two years of Jim DeMint’s term.


AP POLL: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MIDTERMS via Jennifer Agiesta and Emily Swanson of the Associated Press

Most Americans say they dislike both the Republicans and the Democrats, but a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds more of them now say they would like the GOP to control Congress over the Democrats. That’s in part because, on major issues including the economy and protecting the country, Republicans have gained an edge as the more trusted party among likely voters. But one major issue making headlines recently does not appear to be making much difference in how Americans are viewing the election, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

Most Americans remain deeply concerned about the direction of the economy, and the GOP is in a position to take advantage of that concern. Sixty-one percent of Americans describe the economy as poor, while only 38 percent say that it is good. Nine in 10 likely voters call the economy an extremely or very important issue, topping all other issues tested in the poll by more than 10 percentage points.

The new poll shows the two parties about even on which one adults trust to handle the economy, but among those most likely to cast a ballot in November, Republicans have the edge, 39 percent to 31 percent. The Republican advantage on the economy is more pronounced among men (14 points) than among women (3 points).

Fears of terrorism, as well as the threat posed by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, continue to be top issues for Americans, and Republicans have an edge on handling both issues. Likely voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on protecting the country, 42 percent to 20 percent, and on handling international crises, 35 percent to 25 percent. Republicans also hold a smaller lead on handling the U.S. image abroad, 33 percent to 27 percent.

As airstrikes in Syria and Iraq continue, the poll suggests concerns about the Islamic State group may be retreating in importance. The percentage of likely voters saying the threat posed by the Islamic State is an extremely or very important issue fell 6 points to 73 percent, while the share calling terrorism (76 percent) or the U.S. role in world affairs (66 percent) important issues held steady.

Most likely voters now say they think the Republican Party will capture control of Congress, putting the voting public largely in line with the most prominent election forecasters.


Can there be any doubt that Florida’s race for Governor is coming in for a photo finish?

It’s been a while since we have seen a valid poll showing this race as being anything but a squeaker… and the latest submission from Quinnipiac is no exception. So how does it square with the saltshaker test?

For starters, Quinnipiac did a good job of making sure cell phones were included and ensuring a +3 GOP universe. It is important to note that party registration was not selected from the voter file but self-declared. This means we really don’t know the party balance, especially when “Independent” plus “Other” is over 35%. We must presume then that these are what voters would like to be, but not as they actually are.

But here is what is really odd about the poll.  Quinnipiac says that Crist is beating Scott by 4 points among those who have already voted, yet Secretary of State data shows that GOP voters – those who have already voted – are outpacing Democrats by around 12 percentage points and at a rate that is larger than either 2010 or 2012. This would mean that in a universe heavily skewed toward the Republicans, Crist is winning. Does that make sense?  Something tells me the sample was among self-identified people who claim to have “already voted” and is not based on the actual voter file.

For that reason, Quinnipiac is probably correct on the overalls, but the internals have some odd inconsistencies and should be taken with a grain of salt.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: With Q poll showing @CharlieCrist & @FLGovScott tied here’s a friendly reminder that a diff. of 0.5 or less triggers an automatic recount


“It appears as though Charlie Crist’s attacks against Rick Scott are working, as the race has swung away from the incumbent in the last few months,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. According to Orlando, Crist’s lead is still tenuous. “Pre-election polls tend to overstate support for third party candidates. When it comes time to cast their ballots, voters seem to settle on one of the two main parties for fear of ‘wasting’ their vote. It appears that Wyllie is drawing more support from Scott than Crist, and, if Wyllie is removed from the race, Scott gains 5 percent of the vote, while Crist only gains 2 percent and the poll is a dead heat,” stated Orlando.

CRIST HAS ‘NO CORE VALUES,’ NEW RPOF TV AD CLAIMS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

The Republican Party of Florida aunched a new TV ad hitting Crist as a “career politician who didn’t believe in anything” with “no core values.” Crist draws fire in the ad for leaving the GOP in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats in 2012.


With less than two weeks before Election Day, Gov. Scott acknowledged that he will write a personal check to the Republican Party of Florida to fund his campaign.

In an interview to air on CBS4’s Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede, Scott told DeFede he “will be investing” in the campaign that has already spent more than $83 million, but he refused to say how much he or his family will spend.

“We’ll put our report out at the end of the month,” Scott said, responding that they haven’t determined the amount.

The acknowledgement that Florida’s millionaire governor is prepared to self-fund a fraction of his spending is a sign that the too-close-to-call race may have tapped out the governor’s prodigious fundraising machine. Until last week, Scott’s Let’s Get to Work Committee had been consistently raising more than Charlie Crist’s political committee but the numbers switched earlier this month and last week Crist reported out-raising Scott six to one.

Last week, rumors surfaced that Scott was prepared to plow as much as $22 million of his fortunes into the campaign to keep his job.

Scott told DeFede that tapping his personal fortunes was necessary to offset the more than $12 million being pumped into Crist’s campaign from California billionaire Tom Steyer.


At a crowded pizza-parlor in Democrat-heavy Miami-Dade County, Gov. Scott kicked off the statewide bus tour that will take him into Election Day.

The rally came one day after the third and final gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville. Like the first two, the debate was heated and featured both Scott and  Crist taking shots at each other. At this point in the campaign, the two candidates have a palpable dislike for each other.

The Doral rally featured a host of regional elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Doral Mayor Luigi Boria, state Rep. Carlos Trujillo.

Lt. Gov. Calrlos Lopez-Cantera, a former House Majority Leader, kicked off the event touting Scott’s effort to create jobs.

After the event, many from the event followed Scott across the street to an early voting location. After a crowd of people chatted and took pictures with Scott, a campaign staffer reminded the group what they were there to do: “Remember, we are here to vote.”


It was Florida’s 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani did not like Rick Scott.

“This is not a guy who should be governor. It is as simple as that,” Giuliani said at the time. “If we nominate somebody who has had serious fraud problems…that is going to be a big mistake.”

It’s a reference to Scott’s time as CEO of Columbia-HCA, a hospital company fined $1.7 billion by the federal government for Medicare fraud.

Fast forward to two weeks before the 2014 midterms. Scott, who beat the Giuliani-supported Bill McCollum in 2010, is now an incumbent governor in a tough re-election fight against Democrat Charlie Crist.

So, what is Giuliani’s take on Scott now?

“I can’t think of a governor in this country that has done a better job than Governor Scott,” Giuliani said while campaigning with him in Miami.

WATERCOLOR HUMOR: If Scott and Crist both caught fire — just spontaneously burst into flame during a debate — and there was only one fire extinguisher in the room … where would you hide it?

EARLY BALLOT RETURN NUMBERS as of 10/22 (courtesy of St. Pete Polls): 1,073,919 Total ballots returned; 514,679 REP 47.9%; 377,159 DEM 35.1%; 182,081 IND 17.0%

AFTER 2 DAYS, EARLY VOTING TOTALS UP 24% IN PALM BEACH, 36% IN BROWARD OVER 2010 via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Early voting in heavily Democratic Palm Beach and Broward counties is so far drawing significantly higher turnout this year than it did for the last non-presidential election.

That’s a good sign for Crist‘s gubernatorial campaign, though  Gov. Scott is benefiting from a strong statewide Republican advantage in absentee ballot returns.

Through the first two days of the 14-day early voting period, turnout is 24.3 percent higher in Palm Beach County than it was for the first two days of early voting in 2010. In Broward County, the first two days of early voting drew 36.4 percent more voters than the first two days of early voting in 2010.

Broward and Palm Beach are the second- and third-largest counties in Florida. The largest, Miami-Dade, has seen only a 2.7 percent increase in early voting this year compared to the same period in 2010.

While the initial figures point toward higher early voting participation than four years ago, turnout for a non-presidential election remains far behind presidential turnout. At the current rate, Palm Beach County is on pace to get about 72,000 early votes this year. In 2012, with early voting limited to eight days, turnout was 124,896 in the county.


Republican Rep. Steve Southerland has become “Campaign Target #1” of the Food Policy Action, which announced a major push in the last weeks of the 2014 midterms to unseat the two-term Florida representative.

Ned Resnikoff of MSNBC reports the nonprofit hunger and agriculture group will sink $100,000 into advertising, phone banks and organizing to defeat Southerland, who represents Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.

During his two terms in the House, Southerland led the Republican charge to cut the federal food stamp program by billions of dollars. He backed an amendment allowing states to impose work requirements on food stamp recipients, as well as a bill cutting $39 billion in food stamp aid over the next decade.

“He’s just been terrible on food,” said MSNBC contributor and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, who serves on the Food Policy Action board of directors.

Food Policy Action scores every single member of the House and Senate based on positions on food policy. Southerland received only 11 percent – near the bottom.

Food Policy Action chose Southerland for the 2014 cycle for his close association with food stamp cuts. In addition, his close race with Democratic challenger Gwen Graham gives Food Policy Action the hope that its investment can make a difference.

Food Policy Action is banking that replacing Southerland would send a message to other candidates and elected officials saying voters support using federal money to combat hunger. And if one House member loses because of his position on food stamps, there is that possibility that 2016 presidential candidates will take note.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Graham will join members of the Police Benevolent Association at 8 a.m. to wave signs and encourage voters to Early Vote on the corner of Thomasville Road and Seventh Avenue in Tallahassee.

TWEET, TWEET: @MargieMenzel: Bill Clinton to headline Gwen Graham rally at FAMU Sunday afternoon.

SAVE THE DATE: U.S. Rep. David Jolly will be the special guest at a Wednesday, Oct. 29 reception for Maverick PAC, the organization of young professional Republicans. The reception, sponsored by the Pinellas County Young Republicans, will begin 6 p.m. at the Yard & Ale Gastro Pub, 2675 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. Florida co-chairs include Slater Bayliss and Jeb Bush Jr., with Tampa co-chairs Rob Gidel, Jr. Michael Griffin, Berny Jacques, Glen Gilzean, and Brian Harris. More information and RSVP’s are at

BOB BUCKHORN NO FAN OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing Tampa

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he’ll be voting no on Amendment Two.

I think it’s a slippery slope,” the mayor told CL on Tuesday afternoon. The husband of physician Dr. Catherine Lynch Buckhorn, an associate vice president for women’s health and professor and director of general obstetrics and gynecology at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, Buckhorn says he knows “there are alternatives for people who are in that type of pain.”

The Buckhorns are the parents of two young girls, and the mayor says that affects his attitude on the issue as well.

“It’s hard for me to explain why I would legitimize what is a drug,” he says.

He also says as the leader of a large organization like the city of Tampa, he says he wonders how he could hold employees accountable “if they’re coming to work stoned or drunk (Amendment Two, it should be noted, has nothing to do with alcohol). I need to have the ability to discipline people and prevent that from happening, so for me I don’t think it’s the right solution.”

The mayor, running for re-election next March, said he understands and is sympathetic to those in pain and aware that smoking cannabis provides “temporary relief,” but says that he knows that “there are real medicines that can provide the same type of relief; medicines prescribed by legitimate physicians, not the equivalent of pill mill docs … so I just don’t think that is the appropriate response to a medical condition.”


Football has been a driving force in the life of Republican State Rep. Clay Ingram, giving him the skills and dedication he uses to serve Northwest Florida in House District 1.

Football has has been good to Ingram, a Pensacola native and two-term legislator, best known as the former Florida State University player who played on the undefeated 1999 National Championship team under Coach Bobby Bowden.

In his newest campaign ad, which runs starting this week, Ingraham talks about how football shaped his life and conservative values.

“I learned a lot on Northwest Florida practice fields,” he says. “You set goals, dedicate yourself, work hard and anything is possible.”

These lessons served Ingram well in Tallahassee.

“I took on the establishment to cut burdensome regulations and red tape,” he adds. “I fought Obamacare and against subsidies for illegal immigrants in our schools.”

Ingram faces Democrat Gloria Robertson-Wiggins in November for the district that includes most of Escambia County.


Democrat David Silvers’ business experience goes under the microscope once again in a new ad released today by the Republican Party of Florida.

Silvers faces two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Bill Hager in House District 89, which covers parts of Palm Beach County.

“David Silver stood by as his company collapsed,” the narrator says in the 30-second spot, titled “Seeking the Truth.”

Workers were fired, and Silvers rewarded himself and his family with $1.5 million in pay and bonuses.

“David Silvers hides the truth, but Bill Hager finds the truth,” the narrator continues.

Hager worked to make government more transparent, according to the ad.

“Too often government works for itself,” Hagar says. “I promise to watch out for you.”


>>> The South Florida Sun Sentinel endorsed incumbent state Rep. Bill Hager for House District 89. “Hager is a mix of doctrinaire Republican, independent-minded reformer and detail-oriented legislator. While we wish he were less doctrinaire, Hager’s other qualities earn him the Sun Sentinel’s endorsement.”

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Angela Dempsey, Fred Dickinson, William McKinley, Van Poole, Sophia Smith, PooleMcKinley: Breitburn Energy Partners


Today’s TBT commemorates what would have been Johnny Carson’s 89th birthday. The late night icon and so much more wasn’t too keen on expressing his own political views, and was even hesitant to bring political guests on his show for fear of it becoming used as forum to influence the views of his audience. But politics didn’t, and couldn’t, stay out of ‘late night’ for long.

Here are some “throwback” political appearances in the late nights of past. Enjoy!

1960JFK appears on Jack Parr’s Tonight Show1968Richard Nixon delivers a signature line on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In1975Ronald Reagan appears on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson ; 1976: Gerald Ford becomes the first president to appear on Saturday Night Live1992Bill Clinton plays saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show2000George W. Bush delivers a Top Ten list on Late Night with David Letterman2003: Arnold Schwarzenegger declares his candidacy for California governor on Jay Leno2008Sarah Palin raps on Saturday Night Live 


On Context Florida: “So this state is on a roll,” was Scott’s deceptively simple summation, says Daniel Tilson, after rattling off the same old self-serving economic and employment numbers in his final debate against Crist. Catherine Durkin Robinson believes not only is posting mug shots of people who were never convicted, or who were wrongfully arrested in the first place, is irresponsible, it should also be a crime. Steve Kurlander used to live in Florida. As he watches the contest between Gov. Scott and former Gov. Crist, he wishes he could vote in the election in his former home. Chris Timmons believes that Gov. Scott would rather avoid those pesky public records requests by citizens who believe they have a right to know what state government is doing.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Brian Rimes and John Sowinski.

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.