Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 11.01.16 — Just one more week

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

JUST ONE MORE WEEK LEFT TO GO

MORE THAN 3.8 MILLION FLORIDIANS HAVE ALREADY VOTED – As of Tuesday morning, 2,033,123 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned for the November general election, and 1,769,199 people have voted early across the state. Registered Republicans lead in vote-by-mail ballots to Democrats 855,899 to 785,675, but Democrats lead GOP voters in early voting 739,306 to 684,100. A total of 645,370 other party and no-party voters have returned ballots to their local supervisors of elections or voted early. The state’s website for vote-by-mail and early voting statistics is here.

STATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE – COMEY OR NOT, TRUMP CONTINUES TO NARROW GAP WITH CLINTON via Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight — Clinton’s popular vote lead is down to 4.7 percentage points in our forecast, as compared with 5.7 percentage points on Friday and 7.1 percentage points two weeks ago. And Trump’s chances of winning are 24 percent in the polls-only model, up from 19 percent on Friday and 12 percent two weeks ago. Trump’s chances are 26 percent in the polls-plus model, which is converging with polls-only. It’s not easy to tell how much of that shift reflects a reaction to Comey, as compared with a race that had been tightening already. And it remains the case that the margin is closing because Trump is gaining ground from undecided voters and third-party candidates, rather than Clinton losing support. The fact is, though, that the data we’ve gotten during the past few days is consistent with a reasonably competitive race — although one in which Clinton has the advantage — especially given the significant disagreement in the polls and the relatively high uncertainty surrounding the polling this year. … But at this point, the election is a long way from being in the bag for Clinton. Both FiveThirtyEight’s models and betting markets give Trump about a 1 in 4 chance of winning the election, about the same chance as the Chicago Cubs have of winning the World Series.

CLINTONS CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA — Democrat Hillary Clinton returns to Florida for a three-city swing. The Democratic nominee will hold an early voting rally at 3 p.m. at the Charles E. Conger Library at the Pasco-Hernando State College East Campus, Building C, 36727 Blanton Road in Dade City. She’ll then attend a rally at 6:15 p.m. at Sanford Civic Center, 401 E. Seminole Blvd. in Sanford. She’ll finish the day at 8:45 p.m. at the Reverend Samuel Delevoe Memorial Park 25250 NW 6th Street in Fort Lauderdale. Former President Bill Clinton will also be in Florida, attending canvassing kick-off events in three cities. The former president will start his day at 12:15 p.m. at the Florida City Youth Activity Center, 650 NW 5th Ave. in Florida City. He’ll then head to the Immokalee Pioneer Museum 1215 Roberts Ave. in Immokalee for an event at 3:30 p.m. He’ll wrap up the day at 6:30 p.m. at Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center at Wildwood Park, 1000 28th Street South in St. Petersburg.

CLINTON CAMPAIGN OUT WITH ITS OWN ‘DAISY’ AD — The Clinton campaign released a new advertisement Monday, featuring Monique Lutz, the girl in the famous 1964 “Daisy” ad. The 30-second spot features clips of newscasters talking about whether Republican Donald Trump should be allowed to have access to the nuclear codes. The advertisement is meant to harken back to to the 1964 ad, which featured Lutz standing in a meadow picking off petals of a daisy, counting the petals. When she reaches nine, a man says 10 and and a countdown begins. Eventually a nuclear explosion is shown on the screen. The new ad, also called Daisy, will run during the nightly news in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Click the image below to watch the ad.

DONALD TRUMP IS REFUSING TO PAY HIS CAMPAIGN POLLSER THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILLION DOLLARS via Matea Gold of the Washington Post — Donald Trump‘s hiring of pollster Tony Fabrizio in May was viewed as a sign that the real estate mogul was finally bringing seasoned operatives into his insurgent operation. But the Republican presidential nominee appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by the veteran GOP strategist, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Trump campaign’s latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio’s firm says it is still owed for polling. Trump campaign officials declined to provide details about the reason the campaign has declined to pay the sum to Fabrizio Lee, the pollster’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based firm. “…  Even though he was hired in May, the campaign did not make any payments to Fabrizio until September, when his firm received nearly $624,000, federal filings show. Trump’s finance reports show that the campaign owes the firm an additional $55,300 on top of the $766,756.67 in debt that it is contesting. Fabrizio’s polling firm has also been paid by the Committee on Arrangements for the 2016 Republican National Convention, which gave it $273,378 in July, federal filings show.

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LOOKING CONFIDENT, MARCO RUBIO VOTES EARLY — FOR HIMSELF AND, APPARENTLY, FOR DONALD TRUMP via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Rubio fielded questions about how he voted for president, for U.S. Senate, for Miami-Dade County mayor and for two Florida constitutional amendments. Not once did he — or anyone else — utter the name of his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy. Which may explain why Rubio looked so relaxed about casting his ballot for his own re-election. Rubio wouldn’t say how he voted on Amendment 1, which deals with solar power, or for Miami-Dade mayor between incumbent Carlos Gimenez and rival Raquel Regalado. On Amendment 2 to legalize medical marijuana, Rubio was succinct: “I’m against.” And what about for president? “Nothing’s changed on that,” said Rubio, who backs Trump but didn’t mention his name … “Really, we can’t have a president that’s under FBI investigation.”

PATRICK MURPHY WILL DONATE CAMPAIGN CASH FROM BOSTON LAW FIRM AT CENTER OF ALLEGED PAYBACK SCHEME via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Murphy‘s campaign says the Jupiter congressman will donate nearly $22,000 in political contributions he received from a Boston law firm that was exposed by The Boston Globe this weekend for allegedly engaging in a donation scheme. The Globe, partnering with the Center for Responsive Politics, found that attorneys at the Thornton Law Firm have for several years been given “bonuses” to offset political contributions they have made, particularly to Democratic candidates — including top party leaders and, this year, Murphy. The newspaper reported that through what it calls a “payback system,” three of the firm’s partners alone received $1.4 million in “bonuses” between 2010-14, while at the same time donating nearly $1.6 million. “More than 280 of the contributions precisely matched bonuses that were paid within 10 days,” according to the report. Records from the Federal Elections Commission show Murphy received $21,800 from seven attorneys at the Thornton Law Firm, all on Jan. 28 of this year. Murphy’s campaign said the donations were given during a Murphy fundraiser that month. “The Globe’s investigation has revealed troubling details about these donations,” Murphy spokesman Joshua Karp said in a statement … “We’ll be donating them to the U.S. Treasury, because that is the right thing to do.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Murphy joins Bethune-Cookman students in a march from campus to the Daytona Beach Regional Library to cast votes and highlight the importance of voting. March begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Bethune-Cookman campus on Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard and ends at the Daytona Beach Regional Library on City Island.

AFP-FLORIDA ANNOUNCES GET OUT THE VOTE EFFORT — Americans for Prosperity-Florida kicked off its get out the vote efforts leading up to Election Day. The group will be making phone calls, sending mail and knocking on doors across the state to encourage Floridians to vote. “Americans for Prosperity volunteers are attempting to reach as many Floridians as possible before election day and encourage their participation in this election. November 8 is an opportunity for us all to determine the direction we want our country to take,” said Chris Hudson, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Florida. “AFP-FL has advocated for the defeat of Patrick Murphy because of the costly policies he supports and his inability to enact meaningful legislation while in Congress. If he can’t get it right in the House, he can’t get it right in the Senate. We need a leader who will look out for our interests, not special interests.”

SUSANNAH RANDOLPH: ELECTING HILLARY CLINTON COULD BREAK “ULTIMATE GLASS CEILING” FOR WOMEN, GIRLS via Larry Griffin of Orlando Rising – Randolph has been occupying her time lately spearheading the Floridians Against Trump group, which is exactly what it sounds like. They took their message to UCF on Halloween afternoon to spread the word about voting. The event, called “Don’t Boo, Vote,” after President Barack Obama‘s recent mantra, was put on as a team effort by Floridians Against Trump and progressive group For Our Future, and is another in a series of promotional events to energize different sects of people to vote. Randolph … partnered with For Our Future to put on the event because students needed to have the information at hand — the time to vote early is now, and transportation is available at UCF to shuttle to early voting locations. The nearest one to them is the Alafaya Branch Library. “Halloween is a great time to make sure we don’t get tricked by Trump,” she said. “We have a treat in electing the most qualified candidate in modern history, who would also be the first woman.”

KEY RACE IN FOCUS: CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 13 

Most Pinellas County Republicans have never seen a Democrat represent them in Washington, but the likelihood of that reality has never been greater that it is in this year’s election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

The story of David Jolly versus Charlie Crist is well-known by now. What had been considered one of the “swingiest” swing districts in the nation became decidedly Democratic in flavor following the redistricting that was ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. That’s originally when Jolly announced he would jettison any plans for re-election to instead run for what would be an open U.S. Senate seat, and it’s what compelled Crist to run for yet another office.

After Rubio opted to run for his senate seat in June, Jolly followed suit, dropping out to run for his seat against Crist.

The level of discourse hasn’t exactly been on the Lincoln-Douglas level. In one of the most controversial television ads in the country, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “dramatized” a photo of Jolly hanging out with Donald Trump, though the two have never met and Jolly hasn’t endorsed him. TV stations rejected requests by Team Jolly to stop running the ad, and it has had wide reach in recent weeks.

Finally, only after his hometown Tampa Bay Times denounced the ad, did Crist call upon the DCCC to drop the ad – but the damage had already been done.

The polls have been all over the lot, but the trend is definitely leaning toward Crist. And unlike in 2014 when an estimated $12 million was spent on the special election to replace the late Bill Young, Jolly isn’t getting any help from traditional allies in Washington who would usually be investing to keep a congressional seat red.

Crist is getting major help from the Democrats – including an ad starring POTUS himself.

Most notably, the National Republican Congressional Committee refused to help out financially, a major blow in a contested re-election campaign. Jolly came persona non grata after he went on 60 Minutes last spring and told corresponded Norah O’Donnell that in his first day in office he was told by Republican Party leaders that he needed to raise $18,000 a day from campaign contributors.

Jolly’s STOP Act raised his profile nationally and got him plenty of national ink, but it hasn’t seemingly been much of a factor against Crist, whose political career can’t afford another defeat, following his losses for U.S. Senate and Governor over the past six years.

SCORNED BY CHARLIE CRIST, DARRYL ROUSON OFFERS NON-INTERVENTION POLITICAL PAYBACK via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News –  Though the two once were allies … the relationship between Rouson and Crist is now strained at best. The problem: Crist distanced himself from Rouson in the primary to please Florida Democratic Party leadership; now Rouson is giving Crist back as good as he got, at a time when his former ally suddenly finds himself in a tightening race against Jolly. Only three years ago, Crist and Rouson were political comrades. A 2013 Miami Herald article recalled the time Crist called up Rouson before he went to speak with Manatee County Democrats. Rouson and Crist have much in common politically. Both are former Republicans — and when Rouson switched parties in 2007, he said Crist stayed by his side. He was his friend, even though their political parties would have dictated otherwise. “He is a man of great courage and he is my friend,” Crist told more than 300 Democrats at the time. “We have both been on the other side. But we both saw the light and we are here.” Despite his Republican past, Rouson was welcomed by Democrats with open arms — at one point, they even made him minority House leader in 2014. Yet, despite that, sources close to Rouson say he doesn’t have a lot of political history with Democrats, so the mainstream members of the party haven’t put full faith in him. That’s because Rouson doesn’t operate solely by the Democratic agenda. He marches to the beat of his own drum, opting to do what he feels is best for his district instead of what he is told to do by Dems.

BRIANNA MAST TALKS UP HUSBAND IN NEW CD 18 AD — The Brian Mast campaign released a 30-second ad featuring his wife, Brianna. In the ad, called “America Needs a Hero,” Brianna Mast talks about the morning she learned about her husband’s injury and explains why Treasure Coast voters should vote for him in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. ““Even though he lost his two legs and a finger, I just knew that he had this thing in the bag. Brian is a fighter,” she says in the advertisement. “After he learned to walk again, he got his degree at Harvard. He went back to work. He wants to continue serving this country. America needs a hero. Come this November, we have to go out and vote for Brian Mast.” Mast faces Randy Perkins in the hotly contested race to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy. Click the image below to watch the ad.

RANDY PERKINS RECEIVES BACKING OF ONE-TIME OPPONENT JONATHAN CHANE — The Perkins campaign announced Chane was endorsing Perkins, his Democratic primary opponent in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. “In the past few weeks, I have become increasingly alarmed at what I am seeing coming from Brian Mast and his campaign,” said Chane in a statement “The fact that Mast so strongly supports Donald Trump, even as many national Republican leaders are seeking to distance themselves from the GOP nominee, shows me that Mast is an out-of-touch extremist. I am asking everyone who voted for me in the primary to support Randy Perkins.” Chane said Perkins is committed to working “across the aisle to improve our economy and protect Medicare and Social Security.” Perkins faces Mast in the hotly contested race to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

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WHO’S THE LOBBYIST? STATE SENATE CANDIDATES SPAR DURING TV DEBATES via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – Tired of being cast by his opponent as a lobbyist choosing clients over constituents in Tallahassee, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla flipped the script on state Rep. José Javier Rodríguez during two televised Sunday debates. “Mr. Rodríguez here is basically a lobbyist,” Diaz de la Portilla said on WPLG’s “This Week in South Florida.” “He’s worked as a lobbyist in Tallahassee. He’s beholden to special interests, particularly insurance.” Appearing incredulous, Rodríguez said his competitor was “completely making this up” before he realized he’d registered to lobby the state in 2011 with Florida Legal Services, a nonprofit that advocates for the poor. “It’s fantastic he’s bringing this up. … There were two topics. One of them had to do with health insurance for extremely disabled people. The other had to do with children’s health care,” Rodríguez said, adding he lobbied for one day only. “He’s a for-profit, professional lobbyist.” Diaz de la Portilla shot back: “No, I’m a practicing attorney. You have a no-show job at a Broward personal injury law firm.”

DEMOCRATIC DONOR CHRIS FINDLATER HITS BACK AFTER GROUP CRITICIZES HIM via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The attacks have come by way of videos produced and circulated by Citizens Against Corruption, a group that has not disclosed any donors. It has cut ads criticizing Findlater, trial attorney Neal Roth, and political consultant Carlos Odio. Each is tied to the Florida Alliance, a network of progressive donors building political infrastructure in South Florida. In the ad focused on Findlater, the group focuses on his ties to the insurance industry, which is how he made his money. I’m a “former CEO and co-founder of a successful online marketplace,” Findlater wrote on Facebook … “This competition disrupted the insurance industry, lowered insurance rates which angered many in the insurance industry.” One of the biggest marks Findlater left on Florida politics was helping fund the passage of Fair District, a 2010 ballot measure that aimed to take politics out of redistricting. A lawsuit brought under the new laws forced a redraw of state Senate and congressional districts that were favorable for Democrats.

BARACK OBAMA ENCOURAGES VOTERS TO VOTE FOR DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL IN NEW AD — The Miami Democrat’s campaign released a new advertisement featuring President Barack Obama. In the 30-second spot, the president says Mucarsel-Powell “will fight to defend the progress we’ve made over the past eight years.” “Our children need us to keep working to make this country stronger, fairer, safer, and cleaner,” he continues. “And Debbie will do just that.” Mucarsel-Powell was one of more than a dozen Democrats running for state House and Senate seats in Florida this year. Mucarsel-Powell faces Sen. Anitere Flores in Senate District 39. Click the image below to watch the ad.

FLORIDA DEMOCRATS ACCUSE ROSS SPANO OF SEXISM FOR QUESTIONING RENA FRAZIER’S EXPERIENCE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The Florida Democratic Party is accusing Spano of sexism after the Dover Republican sent out a mailer questioning the experience of Frazier, his Democratic opponent in the House District 59 race. The front of the mailer in question reads, “Important Message: Turn This Card over to learn more about Rena Frazier’s experience.” The flip side shows a mock resume, with the word “INSUFFICIENT” stamped across the page, with nothing underneath it. A message at the bottom reads, “Our community is too previous to leave it up to chance. Stand up for our community. Just say to no Rena Frazier.” Frazier is, like Spano, an attorney. She’s a partner at the law firm of Quarles & Brady L.L.P in Tampa. A statement issued by the House and Senate Victory committee bashed Spano and the Republican Party of Florida for issuing the mailer, saying that they “should be ashamed of themselves for this baseless and sexist attack on Rena Frazier.” The statement also criticizes Spano for supporting two restrictive abortion bills, as well as voting against a bill to repeal Florida’s archaic ban on cohabitation between unmarried men and women. “Whether it’s trying to make their health care decisions for them or dictating who they can live with, Ross Spano continually tells the women of Florida that he knows what’s best for them,” said the Florida Democratic Party’s Anders Croy. “The question must be asked: if Rena Frazier doesn’t measure up to Ross Spano’s standards for elected office, what woman does?” In response, Spano says the issue has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with experience.

TARGETS OF BULLSUGAR.ORG’S CRITICISM WONDER WHERE GROUP GETS ITS FUNDING via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Who is Bullsugar.org? The group supporting a water reservoir to divert and store discharges from Lake Okeechobee has brought harsh rhetoric to the debate on Everglades issues this past year after being formed just two years ago. Group members have criticized politicians who have received donations from the sugar industry. But the group would not provide a list of its donors when requested … “OK, so, I can’t really give you a list of our donors,” co-founder Kenan Siegel said. “I don’t think they’d really want to be named.” Bullsugar.org is a 501(c)(4) organization, which means it doesn’t have to reveal its donors. Such organizations in political circles often are called “dark money” groups. The group also formed a 501(c)(3) charity arm, called the Bullsugar Alliance, earlier this year but most work is done through the C-4, Siegel said. C-3 organizations disclose donors on the federal tax forms, but Siegel said he wasn’t sure whether the forms have been filed yet. The group’s criticism of politicians and the sugar industry has led some of its targets to question the group’s funding sources. “Why don’t you ask the environmentalists about (funding for) Bullsugar and Captains for Clean Water?” U. S. Sugar Corp. spokeswoman Judy Sanchez responded earlier this month when asked whether the sugar industry was funding another group called Stand Up for North Florida.

2018 WATCH – GWEN GRAHAM SAYS SHE’S POISED TO RUN A 67-COUNTY STRATEGY FOR GOVERNOR via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I have heard from so many people who say ‘you’re exactly what the state of Florida needs,’” Graham said at the weekly “Cafe Con Tampa” lecture series at Hugo’s Restaurant in Hyde Park. “I will commit to running the type of gubernatorial campaign that will excite the state of Florida from one end to the other, and if I run … I will run a 67-county strategy.” The Democratic U.S. representative from Tallahassee announced months ago she would strongly consider a run for the governor’s mansion in 2018, after redistricting the already Republican-leaning district would have made it a virtual impossibility for her to earn a second term in 2016. Her appearance before dozens of mostly Democrats in the state’s third-largest city seemed to be an important one for Graham, who spoke with her mother, Adele, sitting next to her (to her surprise), while her father Bob Graham was speaking live on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on the television monitors above her for part of her speech. For the uninitiated, Bob Graham is perhaps the single most-popular Democrat living in the state of Florida. “You know what, y’all? Those are the best damn coattails in the whole wide world,” she said, as the crowd heartily cheered. She added she was “honored” to have her father as a role model growing up to see what a true public servant could be.

ST. PETE START-UPS MEET POLITICS WITH EARLY VOTING, NETWORKING EVENT via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal– The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s local business incubator, the Greenhouse, is partnering with more than 25 local companies to get workers to the polls ahead of this year’s election. Companies participating in the StartUp and Vote event Nov. 3have agreed to let employees take paid time off work to go and vote. The time off includes not just the time it takes to cast a ballot, but also a networking session around lunchtime with local food trucks. “There’s a growing community of people who are engaged and recognize that things like this are important,” said Greenhouse co-director Sean Kennedy. “The startup and tech communities are constituencies that care about employee engagement.” Kennedy has been working with Chris Bennett, founder of the communications technologies company Callyo to launch the event in St. Pete. StartUp and Vote began in Durham, North Carolina. Bennett expects about 200 people to participate. The event starts at 12:45 p.m. Thursday at Williams Park in downtown St. Pete. At 1:45 p.m., the group will walk from the Park to the Supervisor of Elections office about a block away.

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NEARLY 90 NOW HAVE APPLIED TO RICK SCOTT FOR CONSTITUTION REVIEW PANEL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A few of the newest names interested in being on the Constitution Revision Commission are — Bob McClure, president and CEO of the James Madison Institute, a conservative policy think tank based in Tallahassee — Tena Pate, former chair of the Florida Commission on Offender Review, previously known as the Florida Parole Commission. Pate ran unsuccessfully for the nonpartisan Leon County supervisor of elections seat this year — Belvin Perry, former Chief Judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit. He presided over the Casey Anthony trial in 2011. Perry now is an attorney with the Morgan & Morgan law firm. The Florida Constitution allows for a “revision commission” to meet every two decades to “examine the constitution, hold public hearings and … file its proposal, if any, of a revision of this constitution or any part of it.”

WHO WANTS TO BE A STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE? NO ONE — YET via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The panel charged with helping to find the next Florida Supreme Court justice meets in two weeks to decide which applicants to interview. One hitch: There aren’t any yet. That’s probably because the applications are very involved, said Jason Unger, the Tallahassee attorney who chairs the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. And just like guests at a party, nobody wants to be the first to arrive, he added. Unger expects applications to start rolling in this week before the Nov. 11 deadline. The panel will screen the applications and recommend six people for consideration to Gov. Rick Scott, who makes the pick. The opening was created by the retirement of Justice James E.C. Perry. The 72-year-old announced his retirement on Sept. 12.

U.S. SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO REVIEW FLA. WORKER’S COMP CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Without comment, the court denied the petition filed by Daniel Stahl, an injured South Florida nurse. In April, the Florida Supreme Court also decided not to consider Stahl’s case. After hearing arguments in Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, all seven justices agreed to “exercise our discretion and discharge jurisdiction,” the court’s one-paragraph opinion said. “Accordingly, we dismiss review.” Its inaction leaves intact a 1st District Court of Appeal ruling that found “provisions of state workers’ compensation law to be valid.” Workers’ comp, as it is commonly called, is “a state-mandated insurance program that provides compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses” … Opponents of Florida’s workers’ comp regime have long hammered the changes put in place by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature in 2003, saying they were draconian and favored employers at the cost of injured employees.

HURRICANE MATTHEW INSURANCE CLAIMS CLIMB TO $606 MILLION via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – According to information posted on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website … the total claims filed as of Friday totaled 100,589. They included 85,473 residential property claims; 4,872 for commercial property; and 4,245 involving federal and private flood insurance. Claims still pending totaled 57,605. Volusia County accounted for the most claims, at 29,094. Next came Duval County, at 16,205; Brevard at 12,899; and St. Johns at 10,518. In Central Florida, Orange County reported 4,688; Seminole County, 3,015; and Osceola County, 620. In the Tampa Bay region, Hillsborough County reported 192 claims; Pinellas, 76; and Pasco, 75. Additional counties reporting large numbers of claims included Flagler, with 6,774; Clay, with 2,394; St. Lucie, with 2,068; Indian River, with 1,794; Nassau, with 1,587; and Palm Beach, with 1,347.

TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS SAVES FLORIDA TAXPAYERS $372M, AUDIT SHOWS via Florida Politics – “These programs are designed to attract capital to education and provide avenues for individuals and organizations to invest in their states. They represent a total win-win for taxpayers and for students who want to attend private schools,” said report author and EdChoice Director of Fiscal Policy and Analysis Dr. Martin Lueken. The Florida program launched in 2003 and is estimated to have saved taxpayers anywhere from $372 million to $549 million according to the report, which works out to around $1,100 to $1,700 in savings per scholarship recipient. Tax credit scholarship programs are available in seven states, including Florida, and EdChoice estimates the programs have saved taxpayers between $1.7 billion and $3.4 billion nationwide since 2003. EdChoice said about 75 percent of those saving came from the programs in Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Public Service Commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way in Tallahassee. The commission is expected to take up a series of issues involving electric utilities, and water and wastewater companies.

SUPER TUESDAY: SALLY BRADSHAW OPENS MIDTOWN READER IN TALLAHASSEE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – For the past few months, she has been neck deep in best-sellers, up to her eyeballs in thrillers and focused on Florida favorites. She’s asked everyone she knows for a recommendation, and has been fixated on creating the perfect spot for literary lovers in the capital city. All of that work will pay off … when Bradshaw opens Midtown Reader, her independent bookstore in the heart of Tallahassee’s midtown neighborhood. “It’s been a whirlwind” … The Havana resident announced her plans to open the store earlier this year. In the months since, she’s traveled the country meeting with booksellers and shop owners to get a feel for the industry. When she wasn’t in meetings, she was at the shop, making sure every detail was just right. The result? A cozy, 1,500-square-foot store filled to the brim with books. An estimated 10,000 books will fill the shelves when the doors open this week, and Bradshaw said she hopes the “eclectic mix” will attract readers from throughout Tallahassee. “Tallahassee is a well-read town,” she said. “Regardless of who you speak to, everyone is reading something different.” The first in-store event — scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5, —  features Craig Pittman, author of “Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country.”

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA – As Trump continues to improve his standing in state and national polls, his Florida campaign co-chairman Joe Gruters claims it all means Trump will win the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes. On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, Gruters, who is also a member of Florida State University’s Board of Trustees said he’s proud to stand with Trump despite calls for his resignation. Known for wearing many hats, the vice-chairman of the Florida Republican Party tells Gomes he believes he’s done a great job keeping his many duties separate. Gruters also explains why he feels former state Senator and FSU President John Thrasher deserves a 10 percent raise. In addition, the November election marks the end of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli’s term in office. In one of his final in-depth interviews, Gomes chats with Crisafulli about one of his priorities in overseeing the passage of a comprehensive water policy bill. Rich Budell with the Florida Agribusiness Council who helped to craft the bill explains its impact to the state.

WHY DIDN’T WE THINK OF THIS – HOW TO COPE WITH 2016: START AN ELECTION-GAMBLING PODCAST via Clare Malone of Five Thirty Eight — “Do you think the podcast is really weird?” Starlee Kine asked as we sat across a picnic table a couple of hours before the last presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. “We keep getting told it’s really weird.” She was not talking about her “Mystery Show” podcast, voted among the best of 2015. Kine meant “Election Profit Makers,” the limited-run show she produces for David Rees, the political cartoonist who hosted the National Geographic series, “Going Deep,” and his childhood friend, Jon Kimball, documenting their exploits trading 2016 election futures on the online prediction market, Predictit. Ostensibly a guide to making money off the election, the show is more than anything else a labor of love between friends, a diary of coping in an election year filled with bilious public discourse, and, wonder of wonders, an actually funny podcast about politics. It is also a little weird.

The concept of election speculation, the basis for “Election Profit Makers,” is nothing new — InTrade was the political betting darling of the 2012 elections, but the site was shut down in 2013 following regulatory issues in the U.S. With 50,000 users in the United States, Predictit has about the same number of users as InTrade did at the height of its 2012 powers, but its market is more regulated than its out-of-business predecessor. … The site has been able to chart the inflection points of the 2016 election year with its trades; the day of the Indiana primary, when Donald Trump all but clinched the Republican primary, saw the site’s biggest day of trading, at 6.3 million shares. The daily average now is about 1.2 million shares traded. Election Day, of course, is the big payday for many Predictit users. … He said he’d swear off Predictit once the election ended, though the site will continue operation past Nov. 8. A Democrat who’s volunteered for campaigns before, Kimball said there’s an inevitable letdown when the excitement of a political year ends. “This year it’s going to be double because it’s going to be the end of the election and then end of Predictit and the end of the podcast,” Kimball said, getting little quieter and pausing to consider what would fill his time. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m excited about it because I’m tired, but I wonder if I’ll get depressed afterwards, just going back to nothing really.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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