Sunburn for 10/27 – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the public affairs firm known for unparalleled relationships and winning strategies: Today Florida marks the 195th birthday of one of its two “Henry” robber barons. Henry B. Plant, who shaped Florida’s west coast just as Henry Flagler fashioned its east coast, was born on this date in 1819. Plant seized his opportunity after the Civil War left most of the South’s rail system in ruins, founding a system of railroads and steamboats that spurred the growth of the Tampa area. Numerous landmarks  now bear his name — and where would the Strawberry Festival be without Plant City!?!

Now, on to the ‘burn…


Former President Bill Clinton praised freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy as an antidote to partisan dysfunction in Washington while noting President Barack Obama‘s plunging popularity and conceding that Republicans might make gains nationally in next week’s House and Senate elections.

The former president spent Hillary Clinton‘s 67th birthday barnstorming across Florida for Democrats, telling a crowd of more than 500 that he got an “excused absence” from his wife and will join her tonight. Clinton campaigned in Tallahassee forGwen Graham‘s congressional bid and in Tampa for  Charlie Crist.

Murphy, who represents a Republican-leaning district, has played down his Democratic affiliation and highlighted instances in which he has worked with Republicans on deficit-reduction measures and voted with the GOP. Despite a national climate favoring the GOP in this fall’s midterm elections, Murphy is seen as having a comfortable lead over Republican challenger Carl Domino, who has tried to nationalize the race by linking Murphy to Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“Because the president’s approval rating’s down a little bit, every Republican is trying to put him on the ballot instead of Patrick Murphy or fill-in-the-blank,” said Clinton. “And there’s a reason for that, which is that people don’t like what they (Republicans) are selling now. So if people actually had to start and think about what they would be for, they’re more likely to agree with Patrick Murphy.”

Clinton said America’s economy has rebounded since the Great Recession “but people don’t feel it yet.”

He acknowledged that Republican appear poised to make gains in next week’s House and Senate races across the country.

“We know he’s not running for president,” Murphy said. “But maybe he knows somebody.”

THE RISE OF FLORIDA’S ROGUE VOTERS via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

At least on paper, more of Florida’s voters this year have been looking for a third way.

They are choosing to buck the Republican and Democratic parties when they register to vote as independents, Libertarians or with other non-mainstream parties. The shift has been the sharpest among pockets of voters around Orlando, Miami, and West Palm Beach, according to an Orlando Sentinel precinct-level analysis of voter registration data.

Political experts suggest the trend is being driven by younger voters and the state’s growing Hispanic population. Other voters may be disgusted with political gridlock in Washington.

Either way, Florida’s independent streak isn’t new. But it is picking up momentum and it complicates voter mobilization efforts by the political parties. They target voters for mailers, phone calls and canvassing based on party ID, how frequently they have voted in the past, consumer data, and whether their precincts went for their party in recent elections. But independent voters may be motivated by new types of issues, and require recalibrating their messages.

Heading into next week’s mid-term elections, Democrats still outnumber the GOP in terms of raw voters, 4.6 million to nearly 4.2 million.

But Republican registration has inched down from 36 percent to 35 percent since 2010, while Democratic registration has dipped from 41.3 percent to 38.8 percent.

The beneficiaries are the “others” in American two-party politics, a category of third-party and no-party-affiliation voters that has climbed from 22.7 percent to 26.2 percent.

Although that may not sound like a sea change in Sunshine State politics, it could swing the outcome of the nastiest gubernatorial contest in modern state history.

GOV. RACE NEARS $100M IN AD SPENDING, NEARLY $13M PUMPED INTO TV IN A WEEK via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Wanna make $96 million disappear into thin air?

Then get into the business of making and running TV ads for the Florida governor’s race, where about $12.7 million in broadcast and cable buys has been dropped since last week.

The election team for Gov. Scott, who admitted this week to tapping his personal millions as a campaign “investment,” plopped down almost $7.6 million for current and future ads since Oct. 17. That’s 60 percent of the total increase. Democrat Crist’s team put in another $5.1 million, or 40 percent. Crist has reserved airtime through next week. Scott has bought through Nov. 4, Election Day.

The race looks like a dead heat.

But Republicans right now are outvoting Democrats in pre-Election Day ballots by about 46-37 percent (a 144,000-vote margin). Democrats are gaining, however. And registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 39-35 percent (a 455,000-voter margin) and therefore have far more voters to turn out, potentially. Also, most recent polls show Crist winning independents (26 percent of the voter rolls and 17 percent of those who have cast ballots).

One noteworthy aspect of the past week’s ad-buy increases: Crist outspent Scott in Tampa Bay. It’s a sign that Crist feels a need to protect his hometown media market, where Scott has saturated the airwaves with $18 million in ad buys since he began his sustained aerial bombardment in March. Crist is now at $10 million total in Tampa Bay.

POLL: TEACHERS DISAPPROVE OF RICK SCOTT via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times

Public school teachers really don’t like Gov. Scott, according to a poll released by the Democratic Party of Florida.

The survey, conducted by the firm Hamilton Campaigns, found that 81 percent of public school teachers who are likely voters have a negative opinion of the way Scott handled education.

Sure, teachers tend to be Democrats. But 62 percent of the educators who identified themselves as Republicans gave Scott negative marks.

Crist fared much better. Only about 28 percent of respondents had a negative opinion of the way he handled education while serving as governor, according to the survey results.

Will that make a difference on Election Day?

The survey found that 64 percent of teachers, regardless of their party affiliation, planned to vote for Crist. About 17 percent said they would vote for Scott.

The Republican teachers were divided: 34 percent planned to vote for Crist; 43 percent for Scott; and 7 percent for Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie.


Rick Scott. Charlie Crist.

Nineteen million souls in the state of Florida, and this is the best we can do? You could toss a mullet net over any park bench between Key West and Pensacola and drag in two people who’d be more inspiring.

Watching Scott’s cringe-worthy performance in the TV debates made it all the more astonishing that he ever got elected governor, even with $75 million of his own dough.

He’s spent the last three and a half years refusing to answer reporters’ questions, and it’s clear why. Rarely will you find a politician who is so uncomfortable — make that miserable — in front of a camera or a microphone. Scott’s gecko death stare and toneless responses give the impression of a reluctant witness under oath, a role he infamously experienced in the Columbia/HCA fraud probe.

The second debate didn’t help. PR-wise, you cannot overstate the stupidity of refusing to come on stage for seven minutes, just because your opponent brought a portable fan. Scott behaved like a petulant boob, and once again provided a wacky Florida punch line for comics coast to coast.

On the other side stands Charlie Crist, who — by leaving the governor’s office after one term to run for U.S. Senate — gave us Rick Scott. Thanks a bunch.

Now, after morphing from Republican to Independent to Democrat, Crist wants his old job back. He has unapologetically reversed himself on big issues such as abortion, gay marriage and the Cuban trade embargo. This was done to better jibe with the Democrats’ position, and also public-opinion polls.

SPOTTED: The Tampa Bay Times‘ Adam Smith on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”


Early votes are pouring in from parts of central Florida.

Pinellas County voters as of Friday had returned more than half of nearly 270,000 absentee ballots mailed to them, according to a report Saturday in the Tampa Bay Times.

Two years ago, about 42 percent had returned their ballots at the same point, and during the last midterm elections the number was even lower at 34 percent.

A spokesman for the Hillsborough County supervisor of Elections Office says the office has already received more early ballots than it did during the entire 2010 election.

Both Democrats and Republicans have targeted central Florida this season in their get out the vote efforts.

Early voting in Pasco and Hernando counties began Saturday.

Republicans have traditionally voted more heavily in absentee ballots than Democrats, but officials said their advantage was smaller this year than in 2010. Democrats have stepped up outreach particularly in Central Florida. So too have Latino groups, hoping to get more Hispanic voters, who tend to vote less along party lines, to the polls.


Saturday and Sunday marked the first chance for voters to head to the early voting polls on a weekend, a time when Democrats could really show in force and put a big dent in Republicans’ lead in casting pre-Election Day ballots.

But there was no huge surge in Democrat-rich Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Intriguingly in the three counties, the total number of people who early voted Saturday was greater than Sunday – the day when black voters were expected to have the first of two “Souls to the Polls” voting events after church.

Some Democrats are starting to panic. It’s an understandable feeling. Mid-term election turnout in the big three urban counties is historically abysmal, which is a major reason why Republicans hold every statewide elected office but one.

This is a warning sign for Crist.

“This is horrible,” one South Florida consultant told me. Crist should be concerned. And some of his supporters are. But they’re not panicking yet because of two big data points:1) Gov. Scott is plowing his own millions into his campaign, which is making the Republican-consulting class more uneasy with Scott’s chances. If $64 million in TV ad spending has bought the governor only a tie, what will millions more do?2) Though Republicans have racked up a lead in pre-Election Day ballots, Democrats have been slowly bringing the percentage margin down over the past week.ANNETTE TADDEO’S ‘NO FREE RIDES’ FOR MIAMI GOP COULD BE COSTING HER, CHARLIE CRIST via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

About a month before she became Crist’s running mate, Annette Taddeo announced she helped recruit seven new candidates to ensure that every GOP-held state House seat was under challenge in Miami-Dade County.

“It’s time that Miami-Dade Republicans got the message: No more free rides,” Taddeo, then the county Democrats’ party chairwoman, said at the time.

But now it looks as if the no-free-rides policy could be costing her and Crist.

The Republicans didn’t take her challenge lightly. Together, the six incumbents and one newcomer are out-campaigning their challengers in districts 105, 110, 111, 115, 116, 118 and 119.

That could benefit Rick Scott because it’s helping drive Republican turnout.

In the seven districts Taddeo highlighted, Republicans together are out-voting Democrats by 54 to 27 percent in absentee and in-person early votes cast as of Sunday morning. But in Miami-Dade County as a whole, Republicans have only a 42-40 percent lead in casting pre-Election Day ballots.


What began in Fort Lauderdale as an early voting rally for Crist turned into a shouting match, featuring the former governor’s supporters squaring off against those backing Gov. Scott.

Crist’s bus pulled into the parking lot of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center at about noon and was greeted by a crowd of supporters, mostly black Democrats. Also on hand were Scott supporters, mostly white, carrying “shame on you” signs. Scott’s group included one person barking into a megaphone.

Crist did not step out of the bus to address the crowd. Instead, he waved and smiled to supporters from the bus entrance before quickly departing the library parking lot.

When Republican Party of Florida chair Leslie Dougher held a media gaggle to bash Crist, she was drowned out by the din of pro-Crist supporters.

Later, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera gathered at an adjacent parking area farther from the library and echoed Dougher’s attacks against Crist.

Not to be outdone, State Sen. Chris Smith told the library parking lot crowd that Crist would unite all Floridians.


Crist’s newest campaign ad marks the day Rick Scott skips a deposition over the possibly illegal use of private email accounts to conduct public business.

In “Finer,” the Republican incumbent is portrayed as enjoying the finer things in life, such as an $11 million oceanfront home and private jet, at the expense of $1.3 billion in state education cuts and slashing Bright Future Scholarships in half.

The announcement of 30-second spot also touches on some of Scott’s more outrageous wrongdoings while in power, including the use of private Gmail and Yahoo accounts to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for improvements to the governor’s mansion.

“When Rick Scott wanted to improve the governor’s mansion, he didn’t just use $800,000 in taxpayer money,” said Crist Communications Director Brendan Gilfillan. “He had his staff ignore public records laws and use illegal email accounts to ask big companies for help too.”

“It’s no wonder he doesn’t want to answer questions on it,” Gilfillan adds, “and it’s no wonder he skipped the deposition eleven days out from election day – he knows pleading the fifth really takes it out of you.”



“When I entered office in 1999, the greatest environmental challenge facing Florida was the rapidly deteriorating state of America’s Everglades. For years, the sensitive subtropical ecological system had suffered the side effects of a massive manmade drainage system and rapid regional development that harmed the water supply, diverted water from the natural habitat and threatened the many species that call these unique wetlands home.

“During the next eight years, we would make the restoration of America’s Everglades one of the state’s top priorities. We convened a broad and diverse coalition of stakeholders to develop a strategy that became known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. In 2000, through a historic partnership, the State of Florida and the federal government each committed to a 50-50 percent share of costs to implement a series of more than 60 projects during the next two decades that would clean up and restore the Everglades.

“We were dedicated to repairing and protecting one of our nation’s greatest treasures — in a fiscally responsible way that ensured we did not overcommit the state beyond taxpayers’ ability to pay for the projects, and invested wisely to yield real environmental benefits.

“Unfortunately, Congress did not live up to the promise it made.

“Instead of forgoing the state’s commitment to restoration, we aggressively expanded it. To accelerate our work, we developed a creative solution to fast-track the most critical projects. Our $1.5 billion Acceler8 plan prioritized for early construction the most beneficial projects across the system, including storage and treatment reservoirs for the Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie and Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) regions.

“By 2007, Florida was on its way to realizing a restored habitat and a more adequate, cleaner water supply for the state. We were on a steady and reliable path to restoration that enjoyed broad support from members of the business community, environmental advocates and the general public.

“Unfortunately, this tremendous progress came to a halt under Gov. Charlie Crist’s failed leadership. In 2008, after hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars had been spent constructing the critical EAA reservoir and other planned projects, Crist ended the Acceler8 plan midway, leaving these projects abandoned and unfinished. It was a massive disappointment to so many leaders and residents across Florida who were committed to restoring the Everglades and who expected the state and local partners to live up to their promises.

“Rather than focus on what the Everglades needed and the projects already underway, Charlie Crist had an irresponsible plan to spend $1.75 billion on land and assets that the state could not afford. From the day the boondoggle deal was announced, Everglades restoration stalled out, stuck in litigation and political controversy.”


Gov. Scott’s supporters say that if you liked his first term in office, you’ll love his second. But critics say that if Scott is liberated from having to face voters again, he’ll revert to the divisiveness that marked his first year in office.

Scott, 61, hopes to make history next month and join Jeb Bush as Florida’s second two-term Republican governor. As millions of voters cast mail ballots from Key West to Pensacola, polls show a tight race between Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist.

In pursuit of a second term, Scott promises to pour more money into education, environmental protection, airports and seaports and to cut taxes by up to $1 billion — a plan that requires approval of the Legislature and voters. He also says his top priority of creating jobs will stay the same.

“We need to make more progress in this being the best place to get a job, because it will be the best place to build a business,” Scott said as he cruised across the Panhandle on his “Let’s Keep Working” campaign motor coach. “Florida today is positioned to be the worldwide leader in job creation.”

But the governor is not the same political novice who came into office four years ago.

As Scott ramped up his re-election bid, he moved toward the political center. He shed the tea party ties of his first year, when he sought a 10 percent school spending cut that became a $1.3 billion reduction, and recast himself as a pro-education champion of higher teacher salaries.

Once a critic of what he called a “bloated” bureaucracy, Scott signed the largest budget in Florida’s history in June, and the same governor who last year vetoed a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to get temporary driver’s licenses embraced in-state tuition for them this year over the strong opposition of some conservatives in his party.


Crist may be the Democratic Party’s best hope to regaining the governor’s mansion after a 16-year drought, but those who know him well say that if he gets his former job back, the newly minted Democrat will govern much like the Republican he was four years ago.

“Charlie Crist is truly the same person he was before; he’s just in a different party,’’ said Brian Ballard, the longtime GOP fundraiser for Crist who is now backing Gov. Scott. “By his nature, Charlie is someone who wants to find consensus and, for that reason, will govern as he did before — as a moderate.”

If voters give Crist a second term, he has promised to focus on restoring funding cuts to education, strengthening environmental protection, expanding affordable healthcare, encouraging solar energy and growing jobs from within the state. On other populist issues and pocketbook concerns, like taxes and insurance, he is expected to take a centrist approach.

But as head of a party that has won only six of the last 22 statewide elections, Crist could serve an equally potent role: Democratic Party mender-in-chief.

“He recognizes that the largest contribution he can make is to help restore a two-party system,’’ said Paula Dockery, a former Republican state senator from Lakeland and Crist supporter. “He’ll promote people in the administration to start a bench and he’ll raise money. The reason a party that gets in power stays in power is its ability to raise money — and to keep money from going to the other party.”

“He’ll promote people in the administration to start a bench and he’ll raise money,” said Paula Dockery, a former Republican state senator from Lakeland and Crist supporter.


South Florida voters used to competitive political races — this is the nation’s largest purple state, after all — may not realize just how important the tossup congressional contest between U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and Carlos Curbelo is nationally.

Eleven days before the election, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington D.C. released its analysis of vulnerable Democratic incumbents. And Garcia is on it.

The report notes that Garcia has attacked the Republican Curbelo for calling Social Security and Medicare a “Ponzi scheme” but doubts how effective that message has been, considering it did little to hurt the GOP in a 2010 Indiana campaign. It also mentions the criminal investigation that landed Garcia’s former chief of staff in jail, and the fact that many voters who cast ballots in 2012 may sit out this year’s midterms.

“Garcia is certainly one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country,” the report concludes.


Two more aides who prosecutors say helped submit hundreds of ballot requests online without voters’ permission still have pending cases with the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office.

Prosecutors initially had two years to press misdemeanor charges against John Estes and Giancarlo Sopo. The statute of limitations was set to expire in July for Estes and this Sunday for Sopo. Had no charges been filed by then, the two men would have been in the clear. The congressman was not implicated in wrongdoing.

Yet prosecutors now have a third year to make their case — because Estes’ and Sopo’s defense attorneys have agreed to a limitations-statute extension, in a bid to try to talk the prosecution out of charging their clients with anything. The defense has maintained the aides were unwitting participants duped by Jeffrey Garcia, no relation to the congressman.

Prosecutors agreed to various delays to accommodate Estes, who is a university student, and Sopo, who now lives in New York. By the time the limitations statute was set to expire, prosecutors would have had to wrap up the cases in the middle of the Democratic Miami congressman’s reelection campaign against Republican Carlos Curbelo.

Prosecutors try to steer clear of splashy political cases close to elections, so as not to be accused of trying to sway voters. State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle is a Democrat.

>>>The Seminole County Republican Party is holding its annual Reagan Lincoln Dinner beginning 7:30 p.m., at the Westin Lake Mary, 2974 International Parkway in Lake Mary. Atwater will be the keynote speaker.


Earlier this year, Bondi opposed a ban on certain kinds of semiautomatic weapons.

In Connecticut.

The ban was that state’s response to the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Bondi and 21 other attorneys general, most of them Republican, filed a brief that argued the ban was unconstitutional.

Bondi’s office didn’t explain the brief. No news conferences. No press release. Nor did she draw attention to signing briefs challenging other gun measures, including a similar ban on semiautomatic weapons in New York, a federal ban on “straw” purchases of guns and a federal law restricting handgun purchases for those between the ages of 18 and 21.

She signed all of these briefs with colleagues from southern and western states that dominate the Republican Attorneys General Association, a political fundraising organization known as RAGA that has contributed $750,000 to Bondi’s $5.5million reelection campaign.

Since taking office in 2011, Bondi has adopted RAGA’s priorities, recited talking points and joined members’ legal battles far beyond Florida.

“Why would we lift or ease the ban on straw buyers?” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri when told about Bondi’s position. “Straw buyers are purchasing guns for someone who is either ineligible or is trying to hide the fact that they now have a gun. They reek of impropriety.”

In her bid for reelection, Bondi has focused on a get-tough-on-crime message and her record as a staunch defender of victims’ and states’ rights. But none of these “friend-of-the-court” briefs support that or appear to respond to pressing situations in Florida.

I’D SUNBURN THIS: “Republicans eye super-majority in the Florida House” by Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald, but didn’t Adam Smith write same thing on Sept. 28? Didn’t I write the same thing on Sept. 15?


Republican former state Rep. Shawn Harrison added nearly $19K from Oct. 11-17 to boost his fundraising lead over incumbent Democrat Rep. Mark Danish in House District 63.

Harrison‘s total stands at $217,081, according to the state Division of Elections.

After spending $18,900 in the weeklong reporting period, including a $12,500 check to the House Republican Campaign Committee, Harrison has a little less than $20,000 on hand.

First elected to the House in 2010, Harrison served an only single term, losing to Danish in 2012.

Meanwhile, Danish received $11,165 in donations, as well as another $11,580 of in-kind support from the Florida Democratic Party. Danish stands at $143,507 overall.

Danish also spent $19,916 from Oct. 11-17, including $15,000 to Washington D.C.-based Buying Time, LLC for TV ad buys. His campaign has now cost $109,632, leaving him with $32,281 on hand.


Republican Chris Sprowls made a huge media buy, while incumbent Rep. Carl “Z” Zimmerman received more help from state Democrats, in the House District 65 race during the week of Oct. 11-17.

Although Sprowls added only $4,675 in the weeklong period, he spent over $35K – mostly to Strategic Image Management for print media and signage. To date, the Tarpon Springs native raised $272,096, and his campaign price tag stands at just over $241K, according to recent Division of Elections reports.

Sprowls, a first-time GOP candidate, is entering the last weeks of the General Election with $31,400 on hand.

At the same time, Zimmerman raised $11,725, as well as another $8,600 in campaign staff support from the Florida Democratic Party. During the week, he spent nearly $12,000, mostly on cable TV media buys. His fundraising is $125,726 overall through Oct. 17.

After $103,264 in total expenditures, Zimmerman’s war chest now hovers under $18,000.


Incumbent Democrat Rep. Dwight Dudley enjoyed a robust funding period from Oct. 11-17, while GOP hopeful Bill Young II still leads in on-hand cash for the hotly contested House District 68 race.

Dudley added $16,585, with another $6,250 of in-kind support from the Florida Democratic Party, for his re-election effort in the district covering much of eastern Pinellas County.

Through Oct. 17, Dudley now has $210,360 so far, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. After spending $15,500 — most of it on a cable ad buy – and total expenditures of $190,510, Dudley now has just under $18,600 on hand.

During the weeklong period, Young, son of the late Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, took in $6,800, as well as $1,000 of in-kind support from the Republican Party of Florida for “in-voter contact.”

After spending $5,824 for the week, and $117,451 in expenditures to date, Young is entering the final stretch of the campaign with more than $54K in his war chest.


>>> The Florida Attractions Political Action Committee (FAPAC) endorses the reelection of Gov. Scott. “Since he was first elected, Governor Rick Scott has understood the importance of tourism to the state of Florida. In addition to bringing in outside tourist dollars, every 85 visitors create 1 more job in the state,” said Bill Lupfer, FAPAC.

FUNDRAISING EMAILS GALORE: “re: Florida election law” via Charlie Crist’s campaign

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks. We provide voice, data, video, cloud and managed services to businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to large, multi-site organizations. With our privately-owned, leading edge, all fiber network we ensure reliability, flexibility, and accountability. We’re available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re locally-based. Not many other providers can say that. Bright House Networks for Business – your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services.***


Gov. Scott announced an executive order mandating that all people returning from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone take part in twice-daily health evaluations for 21 days.

Florida Department of Health officials have already identified four individuals who arrived in Florida following trips to one of the Ebola-affected countries. There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Florida.

“We are moving quickly to require the four individuals who have returned to Florida already — and anyone in the future who will return to Florida from an Ebola area — to take part in … health evaluations with DOH personnel,” said a statement released by the governor’s office. “We are glad we do not have a case of Ebola in Florida, but we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we never do.”

Scott blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for not providing risk classification information for travelers arriving in the U.S.

It’s not clear how Florida health officials will enforce the governor’s order.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Illinois recently announced mandatory 21-day quarantines for arriving travelers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.

Scott’s order impacts all persons traveling from Ebola-affected countries.

In Florida, individuals who are deemed high-risk following evaluations by Health Department officials will be placed in quarantine.

MORNING MUST-READ: CITY SLACKERS via Kevin Williamson of the National Review

For a self-described member of “an endangered species” — a social and fiscal conservative who was mayor of an American city — Rick Baker is an optimist. Maybe it is the setting: We spoke in Indianapolis, which along with San Diego is one of the few big American cities with a Republican mayor. But maybe it is history: When he was first elected mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2001, he lost practically all of the city’s heavily African-American Midtown neighborhood to the candidate of the African People’s Socialist party. Four years later, he won 70 percent of the overall vote — and won more than 90 percent of the vote in many Midtown precincts.

Speaking on Friday at the annual Free Market Forum hosted by Hillsdale College, the former mayor sat through economist Wayne Winegarden’s unsettling case study on California’s recently bankrupted municipalities, along with a dismal update on Detroit from me, before dispelling a bit of the gloom: “There is a path forward,” he said. “I didn’t start from where Detroit started, and it won’t be easy. But there is a path.”

As mayor, Baker put into practice a principle that continually eludes state and national leaders, Republicans and Democrats both: The right time to make painful reforms is during the boom, not during the bust. When Baker came into office, St. Petersburg was experiencing an urban renaissance, with businesses and cultural institutions flourishing in its downtown area. That sort of situation is, perversely enough, quite dangerous for municipal and state government. When business is good and tax revenues are high, Democrats want to spend more money and expand the public work force, while Republicans want to cut taxes — and, all too often, both sides get their way, which makes for a double hangover when the party is over.

Under Baker, St. Petersburg did cut taxes, by almost 20 percent, but it also cut spending deeply enough to offset the cuts. The city cut management to hire cops, built playgrounds and dog parks but did so mostly on school properties and other public lands, defended its A1 credit rating, and cast a generally hairy eyeball on the budget.

St. Petersburg, like practically every other city, uses tax credits and the like to attempt to lure businesses and to encourage expansion among those firms already there, but what Baker says the city sells is quality of life. “We’ve attracted businesses here purely on quality-of-life issues, even when others were offering more financial incentives.” It sounds like Governing 101, but Baker ticks off a short list of what really matters: crime, schools, economic opportunity, taxes, good public services. And it’s not always obvious in advance what is going to catch constituents’ attention: Baker laughs as he notes that a handful of people showed up for the ribbon-cutting on a multimillion-dollar library, while a crowd showed up for the opening of a relatively inexpensive dog park. “So I built lots of dog parks,” he says.

Baker knows his booms and busts. He is a student of Florida’s infamous “lot boom” in the 1920s, when land speculators divided up orange groves into residential lots for investors gullible enough to believe that they could double their money by flipping them every few years. (Plus ça change . . .) When the bottom fell out — when “we finally ran out of suckers,” as one contemporary observer put it — St. Petersburg and other cities were left with expensive infrastructure investments made for ghost neighborhoods. As the Twenties roared elsewhere, Florida entered the Depression a few years ahead of the rest of the country. “I studied our 1930s refinancing plan, because I’m a fun guy,” Baker says. “If you know the history of Florida, you know you’re going to have booms and busts. In the boom, you have to plan for the bust.”


Former Richard Nixon operative Roger Stone confronted Watergate figure John Dean at the Teas Book Festival in Austin, prompting a fiery back-and-forth and mutual threats to see each other in court.

Dean, who was involved in the Watergate cover-up as White House counsel before providing the testimony that put the nail in Nixon’s coffin, appeared at a forum to promote his book “The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.”

Stone, author of the more favorable-to-Nixon book “Nixon’s Secrets,” accused Dean of ordering the Watergate break-in and pulling Nixon into the cover-up, a charge that Dean denied.

Dean unsuccessfully fought behind-the-scenes to prevent Texas A&M associate professor Luke Nichter from appearing on the panel. Nichter, who earned legal threats from Dean after publishing audio recordings purporting to reveal new details about Dean’s involvement in Watergate. Nichter co-authored the 2014 book “The Nixon Tapes” with historian Douglas Brinkley.

“As of now that war wages on between Dean and the Texas Book Festival,” journalist Len Colodny wrote in an email to Stone. “He refuses to appear on any panel that has Luke on it. Nothing has been settled at this time.”

“Brinkley refused to go forward without Luke,” Colodny wrote in a subsequent email. “Dean furious his tapes are going to Texas A&M.”


On Context FloridaRachel Patron relates the Jewish folk tale of Rabbi Gaon, a leader who allows his congregation to break the traditional Yom Kippur fast, so to be strong and healthy for the tribulations that lie ahead. That is precisely what we in America need today, Patron says, a leader with the imagination and courage to lead us through two epidemics we face — Ebola and a “malaise of the soul.” Last time the Florida Constitution Revision Commission met, in 1997, it had some very good ideas, says Martin Dyckman. When it convenes again in 2017, there are many significant issues awaiting its attention. Those paid to control crime — the police – often have good intentions, writes Julie Delegal. They have their own ideas about how to make the world a better place. They can also be dead wrong — over and over and over again. Recent sports news has been filled with stories about racism, gender violence, child abuse, and concussion-related brain damage for one in three former NFL players. Richard Lapchick notes that these bad stories help the public focus on broader societal problems.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Queen of Hillsborough Republican politics, Deborah Cox Roush.

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.