Sunburn for 10/31 – 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 public affairs firm known for unparalleled relationships and winning strategies: On the day dedicated to things spooky and magical, we remember the most famous magician of them all. On October 31, 1926, illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini died from the effects of acute appendicitis, one week after giving his final performance. Of course all things odd have a link to Florida, so there is this: Following her husband’s death, Bess Houdini began attending seances conducted by Florida native Arthur Ford, a self-proclaimed psychic and spiritual medium who declared he was able to contact Houdini himself. Researchers later found evidence that Ford’s claims were faked. Now, who’d have seen that coming?

Now, on to the ‘burn…


A photo of our home, all decked out for Halloween here.

Don Gaetz is “hoping that Charlie Crist doesn’t come to my door.  Because I know with Charlie it will be a trick, not a treat.”

Will Weatherford and family will “host neighbors over with their kids for an early dinner and then we will go in mass (probably 25 kids), house-to-house to get candy. A fun kid-oriented evening.”

Amendment 2 campaign chief Ben Pollara will have some fun at the expense of his bete noire, dressing up as “the scariest person in Florida, Barney Bishop!”

Barney Bishop retorts: “Tell him to dress up as a Dinosaur with a white beard.”

Chip Case and family are “all dressing up as Vikings from “How to Train your Dragon II.” Hitting a few pre-planned “Trick and Truck” locations and then some choice lobbyist homes: Watch out Iarossi, Ballard, and crew! Jon Johnson does not celebrate Halloween. He shuts the light off and pretend he’s not home.

For Chris Dudley, “Halloween is an epic family and friends celebration in our home.  This year we will be superheroes and transformers. We eat lots of bad food, lots of candy and end the night with a hayride around the neighborhood.”

Seminole County Supervisor of Election Mike Ertel never stops working: “I’ll be with America’s Finest Elections Team as we have early voting centers open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. where we’ll have convenient voting for the grown-ups, and candy for the youngsters.”

Carrie Henriquez explains the traditions at Casa de Henriquez: “Bob will be a ‘Blind Ref’ this year, which is an improvement over ‘Nacho Libre’ (he was ‘Nacho’ for YEARS!), I’m channeling my inner ‘Alex Vause’ from Orange is the New Black, Elin will be one of 700 million ‘Queen ‘Elsa’s’ and Drew is ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’. Our yard is decked out with a spooky-scary graveyard and various other sinister decorations that are sure to scare the trick-or-treaters! We will board the “Golf cart of DOOM” and make our way throughout our neighborhood. So many homes have haunted (& not so haunted) houses set up in their courtyards and on back decks, right on the Hills-BOO-rough River, it’s fun to explore and catch up w/ neighbors in our quiet little community. After we bring home the candy-haul (along with the occasional avocado or citrus fruit), we settle in for a homemade BBQ rib dinner w/ all the fixins, peach cobbler for dessert, and (of course) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on Disney. Happy Halloween to you and your Family!”

Christina Johnson wants to know, “Are you dressing up for Halloween? @On3_PR gives a hint about their costume in this puzzle. Can you solve it?”

House candidate Chris Latvala is going to a Clearwater High vs. Seminole High football game. “Go Tornados!”

Bob Levy plan to dress as a millennial voter “if I can figure out how to look younger and less interested in the impact of politics on my personal future. One place you won’t see me on Halloween or any day is near an early voting precinct.  If I get some bad candy I’ll have no one to blame but myself.”

Dr. Darryl Paulson is dressing up as either Charlie Crist or Rick Scott. “Both have scared the hell out of most Floridians. I may put Crist on one side of my face and Scott on the other, since both are two-faced.”

Anthony Pedicini is “dressing up like Gru and taking my niece and nephew (the minions) along with a bunch of new cousins trick or treating in the Long Island neighborhood I grew up in.”

Rachel Perrin Rogers and family “will start the evening at a neighborhood party that sounds as if it will be as over the top as yours (but Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so that’s a compliment). Jake (aka Teen Wolf), Brian (Hughes) and I (costume descriptions not fit for print) will then return to our beloved Midtown to trick or treat with friends. I’m really hoping that Kathy Mears will save me the best candy.”

Sam Saad shares “Every year Halloween, we grill hotdogs for the neighborhood kids. It was a tradition my dad started back in Nebraska and I brought to Florida when I moved here. I dress up as a hobo and do the grilling while my wife manages the process. Our whole family comes over and we have a very good time in the front yard, including my mother taking the kids trick-or-treating. It has become a nice annual event for our neighborhood and we regularly giveaway 300 to 400 hotdogs. My dad originally started grilling hotdogs because he didn’t want to pass out candy to the kids but my wife likes to pass out candy so now we have hot dogs in candy.”

Volunteer Florida’s Chester Spellman is “headed to Jacksonville so the kids can celebrate with their grandparents and cousins. My 6 year old, William, is dressing up as Ezra from Star Wars Rebels. My 2 year old, Graham, is dressing up as a puppy dog. He has been running around the house all week barking in anticipation of tomorrow night. My wife and I aren’t dressing up, just the kiddos.”

Florence Snyder will be at the Davis Gaines concert at FSU. “If your kids are grown up and you don’t have grandchildren, this is the only place to be. … Leave lots of candy on your front porch for the neighborhood ghouls and gremlins.”


Some schools continue to prohibit Halloween costumes and candy, and most Americans still disagree with these policies.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 71% of American Adults believe children should be allowed to wear Halloween costumes in class. This is up from 63% last year. Twenty-one percent disagree.

Sixty-four percent believe public schools also should allow children to bring candy to school for Halloween, basically unchanged from a year ago. Twenty-seven percent disagree. There’s little difference of opinion on both questions between Americans with children living with them and those who don’t have kids in their home.


Bursting with ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night, real and pretend; there is one thing that can be the most terrifying part of Halloween.

Taxes on candy.

That’s right, something as unsullied and innocent as Halloween candy can be transformed into a nightmare when it comes to taxation.

Florida TaxWatch, the non-profit bipartisan government watchdog, is using Halloween to educate Florida consumers on what delicacies and goodies are taxable, and what are not.

For example, sixteen states consider candy to be groceries, which are exempt from taxes. Seven states exempt groceries, including candy, while five states tax groceries, but at a lower rate. Florida, as well as seventeen other states, does not consider candy to be groceries, and as such, taxes them at full rate.

Most of the candy adults give to the little goblins leaning on the doorbell is subject to a 6 percent Florida sales tax, as well as applicable local sales taxes. Just as long as they cost more than ten cents.

Other candy-like food items are also taxable: candy apples, chewing gum and breath mints — except those containing aspirin, laxative, or antacids (don’t get any ideas) — cotton candy, fruit-flavored sticks, jelly beans, licorice, and lollipops.

Then there are marshmallows, which Florida TaxWatch calls “both a trick and a treat”: trick — marshmallow candy is taxable; treat — marshmallows alone are exempt.


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been traveling around the country, stumping for senate and House candidates, with his aides and often his family in tow.

But another near-constant presence with Rubio on the trail is a professional photographer, hired by his PAC to take photos of the Senator with those who want them. The photographer has been on-hand at events in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina in recent weeks. Those who get a professional photo snapped are then handed a card by a Rubio aide, who tells them they can download the photos for free at Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC website.

While it’s nice for people to get a professional shot taken, there’s an advantage for Rubio. To access the photos, you must first enter a name, address, and personal email “to verify your attendance.” But it’s also a way to collect information on voters and add them to Rubio’s PAC list: information that will be especially useful down the road should Rubio run for president in 2016.

“We think that if you want a picture taken, you’re probably also a supporter,” a Rubio aide said.


A jump in support from independent likely voters in the Florida governor’s race leaves Crist with 43 percent, inches ahead of Gov. Scott with 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has 8 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

This compares to results of an October 22 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, showing Gov. Scott and Crist tied 42 – 42 percent, with Wyllie at 7 percent.

With Wyllie out of the race, Crist gets 45 percent to Scott’s 42 percent.

Men and women remain divided in the three-way matchup. Scott leads Crist among men 47 – 37 percent, with 9 percent for Wyllie, while Crist leads Scott 49 – 35 percent among women, with 6 percent for Wyllie.

Independent voters go to Crist over Scott 47 – 29 percent, with 16 percent for Wyllie. This compares to last week’s result, showing Crist taking 41 percent of independent voters, to Scott’s 38 percent, with 11 percent for Wyllie.

Republicans back Scott over Crist 81 – 8 percent, with 4 percent for Wyllie. Democrats go to Crist over Scott 83 – 7 percent, with 3 percent for Wyllie.

Among those who already have voted, Crist gets 40 percent to Scott’s 39 percent.

“Independent voters are often the difference in swing states like Florida, but the size of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s lead among them is truly remarkable,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Crist, who always has sought to portray himself as a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, seems to have sold that message to independents who historically have favored problem-solvers who are less politicaI,” Brown added. “It may turn out that Crist’s change from Republican to independent to Democrat branded him as the kind of less political politician with the most important voter group. If Crist can win independents by 20 points on Election Day, he will be difficult to beat.

“It would be a reasonable hypothesis that the candidates’ debates made a big difference in this race. Scott was ahead going into them and behind after them. It could be a coincidence, but it would be a pretty large coincidence. Crist has long been thought of as an excellent campaigner and he used those skills to his advantage. … Wyllie is holding on to his 8 percent and if those voters decide to leave him for a major party candidate they could also make a difference.”

Just five days before Election Day, 90 percent of voters who name a candidate say their mind is made up, while 10 percent say they might change their mind. Their mind is made up, say 91 percent of Crist voters, 92 percent of Scott supporters and 67 percent of Wyllie backers.

Florida likely voters give Crist a split 45 – 45 percent favorability rating, compared to Scott’s negative 41 – 46 percent, while 81 percent of likely voters still do not know enough about Wyllie to form an opinion of him.

From October 22 – 27, Quinnipiac University surveyed 817 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.


Miami HeraldCharlie Crist, fueled by independents, leads Rick Scott 43-40 percent overall – “Crist’s advantage with independents … a spread of 47-29 percent … is also somewhat of an outlier; no other major publicly released survey has shown such an advantage.” USA TodayIndependents give Charlie Crist edge in Florida – “Crist … may have convinced ‘independents who historically have favored problem-solvers who are less political’ that he is a ‘pragmatist.’” POLITICOCharlie Crist edges ahead of Rick Scott – “Neither candidate is popular in the state, the poll shows … Scott’s rating is upside down: 41 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable.” Ocala StarBannerPoll shows tight race for Florida governor – “…the survey … has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent, making the race a statistical tie.” Sarasota Herald-TribuneCrist leads Scott 43-40 percent in new Quinnipiac poll – “… a reasonable hypothesis … debates made a big difference in this race. Scott was ahead going into them and behind after them. It could be a coincidence, but it would be a pretty large coincidence.” Miami NewTimes, Charlie Crist Is Finally Edging Ahead of Rick Scott – “This race is damned close … Crist may be finally opening up some daylight. Crist’s trending support about independents suggests his newfound lead in the survey may not be an illusion.” Business InsiderCharlie Crist Could Actually Win – “Crist appears to have momentum on his side. ‘Crist’s change from Republican to independent to Democrat branded him as the kind of less-political politician …’”


The poll, which ran from October 22nd through the 27th may be a few days old, but with over 800 likely voters, a seemingly well-balanced partisan sample (+2 GOP), an aggressive use of cell phones and a decent racial makeup it meets most of our criteria.

But — and I can’t understand why a respectable outlet like Q-Poll does this — the partisan breakdown is not really the partisan breakdown.

And I know we have tread this ground before, but here I go again. The good folks at Quinnipiac ask party affiliation as follows: “Generally speaking, do you consider yourself a Republican, A Democrat, and Independent, or what?”

Yes, the sample is +2 GOP and that’s good, but instead of Q-Pac linking actual voter registration to the poll from the voter file (which is insanely easy to do) or simply asking the more reliable, “And how are you registered to vote?” – or doing both! – they insist on asking the question that way. (As an aside, that is a necessity in other states that may not require voter identification like Florida does, but this isn’t other states.)

Asking, “do you consider yourself” leaves too much room for error and with any poll that refuses to track by actual party registration, we are obligated to take this poll with: A. Grain. Of. Salt.

FLORIDA CHAMBER POLL: SCOTT 44%, CRIST 39% Full results here.

SEA (DEM) POLL: SCOTT 46%, CRIST 44% via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Gov. Scott is holding on to a 46-44 percent lead over Charlie Crist, according to a new likely voter poll exclusively shared with the Miami Herald.

Scott’s 2 percentage-point lead is well within survey’s 2.7 percentage-point margin of error – like every other recent major poll in this race – making the contest a tie. The 1,300-respondent poll was conducted by Democratic-leaning polling firm SEA Polling & Strategic Design.

What makes the survey from pollster Tom Eldon stand out is that he’s one of the best in Florida, he’s a Democrat and he doesn’t sugarcoat his numbers. It’s also proof that good pollsters produce good numbers, regardless of party affiliation.


(T)he Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Graham Center survey confirming what everyone else knows: Florida’s governor race, one of the most negative and expensive campaigns in state history, is (still) tied.

Scott receives 36 percent of likely voters, 36 percent support Crist, another 6 percent Wyllie. Thirteen percent did not state a preference, 7 percent remain undecided.

Taking out those who refused to answer, the numbers become 42 percent for Crist, 41 percent for Scott, and 7 percent for Wyllie.

TWEET, TWEET: @adamsmithtimes: Anybody have some alternatives to tied, close, neck and neck, photo finish…


The overall GOP lead has dropped to 137K ballots, or roughly 5.9 percent. On this day of the previous gubernatorial race in 2010, the GOP early vote margin was 15.7 percent or 262K votes.

Schale’s takeaway is that the Republican raw vote advantage is down 125K votes than at the same point in 2010 – roughly twice the number of votes that brought Gov. Rick Scott to the Governor’s Mansion.

To put it in perspective, Schale says that if Democrat Alex Sink enjoyed the same environment four years ago, she would have won by roughly the same margin that elected Scott.

Today, this race is entering Election Day with a much more balanced electorate.

Schale notes that Democrats are now 61 percent over their 2010 vote totals while GOP is at roughly 23 percent over comparable totals in 2010.

No Party Affiliated voter turnout is also encouraging, where nearly twice as many NPA voters cast ballots compared to this point in 2010.

Virtually every public poll shows Crist doing well with NPA voters, Schale says, making this trend very good news for Democrats.



Former Gov. Jeb Bush will be holding a Hialeah get out the vote rally Sunday with Gov. Scott, just two days before Election Day. The bus tour begins 2:00 p.m. at Milander Park in Hialeah.


Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is bringing his gubernatorial campaign to Bradenton for a 7 p.m. meet-and-greet at Main Street Live! in Manatee County. The event is on Old Main Street, located between Manatee and Third Avenue in Bradenton.


Florida GOP leaders really don’t like Crist. Despise is probably the better word.

They call the former governor a traitor, a liar, a political opportunist, a man with no ideological spine.

So voters might wonder whether Tallahassee would be thrown into gridlock if Crist beats Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday and has to work with a Legislature dominated by Republicans who have so openly expressed their disgust for him for four years. Crist and the Republican legislative leaders say there’s no need to worry.

“I’ve always had forgiveness in my heart,” Crist said recently.

Likewise, incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner say they also can put the past behind them and not hold a grudge.

Crisafulli said he’s sure Crist would veto some bills the Legislature sends him, but there are some areas where Crist and the Legislature would be able to work together.

The name-calling began when Crist left the GOP in 2010 for his failed independent bid for Senate. It continued as he campaigned for President Barack Obama in 2012. It grew even more when Crist finally registered as a Democrat after Obama won.


Declaring that Florida’s open government laws have been “under attack in recent years,” the First Amendment Foundation asked the two candidates for governor to answer three questions pledging to reverse recent trends and operate with more transparent practices if they are elected.

Gov. Scott and challenger Crist were asked if they would agree to conduct all public business on public computer networks and devices, release a detailed schedule of appointments and travel, and pledge that he and staff will not use private email accounts when conducting business.

Crist responded that he would. Scott did not respond.

The First Amendment Foundation is a non-profit open government watchdog that receives its support from voluntary contributions and many of the state’s news organizations.

The governor’s failure to respond comes against a backdrop of increasing questions about his commitment to Florida’s open government laws.

During his term, Scott has blocked data about his private air travels from public flight tracking records. He has released only superficial details about his daily schedules. He has used, and allows his staff to use, private email accounts when corresponding on public business, creating additional barriers to public access. And his staff has been encouraged to use private cell phone accounts when sending text messages about politically sensitive issues.

In each case, the governor has said he has followed the law but his actions have drawn lawsuits.

PAM BONDI STARTS TO FEEL HEAT IN CAMPAIGN’S LAST DAYS via Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State News

Bondi was headed for an easy win but things are tightening up in the final days of the campaign.

Bondi had been cruising over Democrat George Sheldon and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer, beating Sheldon in the polls, including some from earlier this month showing her up by double digits. But it’s been a bad few weeks for Bondi. In the last gubernatorial debate, Charlie Crist made an issue out of her asking Rick Scott to delay an execution due to a political fundraiser. Scott didn’t do Bondi any favors by noting she said she was sorry and shrugging it off.

The mainstream media, always ready to take a whack at a Republican right before an election, are also starting to beat up on Bondi. Papers across Florida have been turning to Bondi’s out-of-state activities, including jumping in on challenges ranging from semi-automatic weapon bans in New York and Connecticut to environmental activities around the Chesapeake Bay.

The New York Times got in on the action, running a front page story about how lobbyists are targeting state attorneys general — with more than a little of the spotlight shining on Bondi. Not exactly what she wants to see a week before the election.

Sheldon is also, unlike William Rankin and to a lesser extent Thad Hamilton, getting some love from the Democratic establishment. Charlie Crist has been more than happy to have Sheldon as a sidekick. Bill Clinton was happy to pose with Sheldon when he hit Florida on Sunday.

But Bondi isn’t exactly helping herself knock Sheldon out. Her TV ads have been wildly uneven and too dramatic, with Bondi often coming off as overly hyper in them.




A new poll finds incumbent Democrat Maria Sachs and Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff deadlocked by just over a single point in the bitter Senate District 34 race.

The survey, taken Oct. 29 by StPetePolls, shows Bogdanoff, the Fort Lauderdale Republican, falling slightly behind the Democratic incumbent 49 to 48 percent – 1.3 points, to be exact — with under 2 percent undecided.

The race is within the poll’s margin of error.

SD 34 numbers compare to a Sept. 29 poll where Bogdanoff led by only three-tenths of a point, 46.6 to 46.3 percent.

As far as partisan breakdown, Bogdanoff and Sachs are also somewhat equally matched. Sachs gets 83 percent of her Democratic base, takes 12 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of independents. Bogdanoff gets a little more support of her base (86 percent), 14 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents.


Usually, the Florida Republican Party would be throwing its full weight behind Bogdanoff in Democratic-leaning District 34, which stretches from Fort Lauderdale through Boynton Beach.

But not this time – even though a Bogdanoff win could give Republicans a veto-proof majority in the Senate — heft it might want if Democrat Charlie Crist defeats Republican Rick Scott in the drum-tight governor’s race.

Instead, a bitter battle between two Republican senators vying to become Senate president two years from now has kept the party from throwing campaign dollars, TV money and major get-out-the-vote efforts toward Bogdanoff.

The reason?

Bogdanoff is committed to supporting one of the contenders for Senate presidency, Sen. Jack Latvala, if she is elected in November.


Although scaring voters to the polls is nothing new in politics, a new direct mailer offers an interesting twist on the idea. First there is “public shaming,” and “slut shaming;” now there is “voter shaming.”

Just in time for Halloween, this flyer is sure to give the creeps to voters worried about government intervention and individual privacy. The upshot is this: “they” are watching you, because voting participation is now part of the public record.

What that means is if you do not vote on Tuesday, someone will know, and there are people ready to spill the beans – on you!

One of those groups appears to be Citizens for a Better Florida, which is sending voters a flyer with an ominous warning: “Don’t throw away your vote … your neighbors will know!”

Citizens for a Better Florida doesn’t just stop there.

They take the threat just one-step further; its next flyer will start naming names, providing information on who in your neighborhood has (or has not) voted in November 2014.

In small print – and there is always small print – is this comforting caveat: How a person voted is not public record, and will not be disclosed.

Citizens for a Better Florida, says the state Division of Elections — ironically, also public record – is an Orlando-based ECO chaired by Richard Darling. The Realtors PAC, Florida Realtors PAC, and the National Association of Realtors mostly fund it. They spent $650,000 this year to date, with nearly half a million on Oct. 21 for postage.


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ANDY GARDINER OUTLINES FL. SENATE CMTE. STRUCTURE for 2014-2016 via Christine Sexton for SaintPetersBlog

In a possible sign that he is prepared to split power among rival factions in the Florida Senate, incoming President Andy Gardiner is creating a second standing committee to addresses state budget issues. Read the full memo here

In a memo distributed to state senators on September 22, Gardiner said he is creating a Committee on Fiscal Policy that will “provide an alternative path” to the Senate Calendar. Traditionally, bills with any fiscal impact have been heard in the Appropriations Committee. Gardiner said the process “can cause a log jam of bills often necessitating marathon committee meetings during the height of the budget conference process.”

The move to create the second committee comes amidst a power struggle between Sen. Joe Negron and Jack Latvala both of whom have aspirations of following Gardiner as Senate President. Traditionally, the next incoming president is given a high-profile position.

Gardner distributed the memo asking senators to list their committee preferences for the 2014-16 sessions. Other changes Gardiner has proposed include dividing the Committee on Education into two standing committees — Pre K-12 and Higher Education — as well as eliminating the Committee on Gaming. Bills dealing with gaming issues, Gardner said in the memo, will be handled by the Committee on Regulated Industries.

Gardner said he will keep the Committee on Reapportionment although he doesn’t intend to appoint any members to it “at this time.”

Otherwise, the committee structure Gardiner has outlined is similar to what currently is in place, though the memo notes that he may make some further adjustments.

Gardiner distributed the memo asking senators to identify the top ten committees they would like to serve on.


The number of investors expected to compete for 3,115 new nursing home beds and hospice programs is expected to “significantly” increase in the next week.

Investors will have until the close of business Nov. 5 to notify the state Agency for Health Care Administration in writing of their interest to compete for beds in more than 70 percent of the 44 nursing home “subdistricts,” where a need for beds has been identified, said Sharon Gordon-Girvin, founder of the Girvin Group, a health care consulting firm specializing in the licensure process called certificate of need.

The extended grace periods are authorized in subdistricts where more than one investor has shown an interest in providing the health care services by the initial letter of intent deadline. The grace periods are meant to encourage greater competition.

“When that period expires, we expect there will be significant increase in the total number of letters of intent filed,” said Sonya Penley, a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig and a health care attorney with 20 year’s experience.

The state had received 137 letters of intent –112 for nursing homes and 25 for new hospice programs — by the initial October 20 deadline.

A letter of intent does not lock an investor into applying for a nursing home. So while the letters of intent may peak, the number of applications ultimately filed may not. That is due, in part, to the hefty costs associated with the applications. Applications are due by Nov. 20.

The application fee is a minimum $10,000 but it can be as much as $50,000 depending on the size of the proposed project. Additionally, it can cost upward of $45,000 in health care consulting fees to prepare an application. That figure does not include auditing costs or design costs. And it does not include any litigation costs.


On Context FloridaOn Tuesday night, maybe Wednesday morning, Peter Schorsch says we will know who is left standing in the Florida governor’s race, the Cabinet and if we will be able to smoke medical marijuana. If there is anything better than congratulating the winners, he adds, it is blaming those responsible for the losing. Attorney General Pam Bondi has been repeatedly lobbied out of representing the people of Florida, writes Martin Dyckman. Do voters want to know where the candidates stand on the issues, asks Bruce Ritchie. They should. But a federal court order from 2010 still blocks public view in water fight between governors of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Because of the court order, voters will not know the answers before the Nov. 4 election. Adam Weinstein is tired of false moral equivalencies. For a year or more, he has heard pundits and cynics flaunt the conventional wisdom about this governor’s race: Both candidates are awful. But it’s wrong. You can’t be reasonable and think that any politician is nearly as toxic, deceitful, callous, inept, and flat-out godawful for Florida as Rick Scott.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.



Harold Gary Morse, the ambitious and creative driving force behind The Villages for more than 30 years, died Wednesday night. He was 77.

Morse was a visionary who took over a small mobile home park from his father, the late Harold Schwartz, and turned it into the world’s premier retirement community. A former advertising and marketing executive, he assumed leadership of The Villages in 1983, when it was still called Orange Blossom Gardens and had just 386 manufactured homes, a clubhouse and a few shuffleboard courts.

Today, Morse is known internationally as the developer of a community that is famous for its active retirement lifestyle, beauty and incredible growth. It boasts close to 600 holes of golf, more than 100 restaurants, 76 recreational facilities and close to 4 million square feet of commercial space, among other things.

Shortly after his death, the Morse family released a statement praising their father for his quiet, modest approach to seeing The Villages succeed.

“Dad never sought the limelight,” the statement read. “He was content to stay in the background and enjoy seeing Villagers revel in this amazing lifestyle of their adopted hometown. While he was a friend and adviser to captains of industry, presidents and heads of state, he never lost focus on this community and making it the greatest retirement development in the world.”

Morse is survived by his wife, Renee, son Mark, two daughters, Tracy Mathews and Jennifer Parr, and stepson Justin Wilson. He also is survived by 16 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. His first wife, Sharon, preceded him in death in December 1999. He will be laid to rest in a private ceremony. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Villages Charter Schools.


Gov. Scott: “Ann and I mourn with Florida families for the loss of Gary Morse, a remarkable individual who we were proud to call a friend. Gary was a champion of Florida innovation. When molding The Villages into the one-of-a-kind community it is today, Gary demonstrated what makes our state so great – the idea that anyone can make a positive, lasting impact in the lives of generations to come. Gary’s boldness and entrepreneurial spirit is known internationally and helped define Florida as the place where anything is possible. Ann and I send our condolences to Renee, the Morse family and the entire community of The Villages today.”

Gov. Bush: “I was incredibly saddened to learn of our friend Gary Morse’s passing today. He was a visionary, and countless lives are better today thanks to his leadership and commitment to pursue his dreams. He was passionate about providing students with a high-quality education and the Villages Charter School was his pride and joy. To know Gary was to know his love for Florida, his entrepreneurial spirit and his heart for education. Columba and I send our love to Renee and the entire Morse family. Gary was a great friend and inspiration. I am grateful for his friendship and support over the years. His legacy will be his significant contributions to improving the quality of life for some many people throughout our great state.”

Ag. Commissioner Adam Putnam: “Gary Morse brought a vision to our state that transformed central Florida and gave us America’s Friendliest Hometown. He created the destination for thousands to reward themselves with a home in Florida. Our prayers go out to Renee and his family at this time, as we mourn the loss of a great leader.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my guy Harold Hedrick. Funny. Smart. Hard-working.

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.