Sunburn for 11/11 – A 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: As our nation marks Veterans Day by honoring the brave men and women who sacrificed to protect our freedoms, here in Florida the state Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) is making final preparations for a new honor for Sunshine State veterans. FDVA serves Florida’s 1.5 million military veterans, connecting them with benefits and services they earned, and tomorrow the agency joins Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Veterans Foundation to lay the first bricks in a new Florida Veterans Walk of Honor between the state’s historic and current Capitol buildings.

MORNING MUST-READ: WHAT THE BUSHES AND CLINTONS AGREE ON via John Cassidy of New Yorker Magazine

The former President George W. Bush is taking some time out from painting and playing golf to promote his new book about his father, George H. W. Bush, which is being published this week. According to the promotional blurb, it is a “unique and intimate biography” of Bush the Elder, covering “his service in the Pacific during World War II, his pioneering work in the Texas oil business, and his political rise as a Congressman, U.S. Representative to China and the United Nations, CIA Director, Vice President, and President.”

The forty-first President has indeed led an interesting life, which included going from an eighty-nine per cent approval rating in the wake of the First Gulf War to packing his bags in the White House eighteen months later, after Bill Clinton defeated him in the 1992 election. But that’s considered ancient history now. As Dubya does the media rounds, what interviewers really want to ask him is whether his younger brother, Jeb, is up for taking on Hillary Clinton, in a dynastic rematch, come 2016.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Bob Schieffer, fresh from interviewing President Obama, went at it this way: “If you had to make an estimate right now, what — what — do you think is going to happen?” To which Forty-Three replied: “I think it’s fifty-fifty. He” — Jeb — “and I are very close. On the other hand, he’s not here knocking on my door, you know, agonizing about the decision.”

That last bit is good to know. Nobody wants to elect a President who has to ask his big brother’s permission to use the bathroom, especially when said elder sibling blundered into a disastrous war in the Middle East from which, more than a decade on, there still doesn’t appear to be any escape, and then staged an Air Force One fly-by over a grand old American city that was drowning below him. Being viewed as a younger version of George W. would probably doom any candidate, and even the former President, whose grasp on reality was never the strongest, is well aware of this. While he talked up his little brother, he was also keen to put some distance between the two of them. “I know this about Jeb,” he told Schieffer. “He’s not afraid to succeed. In other words, I think he knows he could do the job. And nor is he afraid to fail.”

Another star on the former Florida governor’s report card. But what about those who say—regardless of what they may think of Jeb or Dubya or even George Senior — that two Presidents from the same family in twenty years is enough? Schieffer, whose courtly manner doesn’t prevent him from asking some awkward questions, reminded George W. that his mother, Barbara, had publicly declared herself a member of the “enough Bushes” crowd. (In an interview with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show last year, she said, “It’s a great country. There are a lot of great families…. There are other people out there who are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”) In response to Schieffer’s question about his mother, Dubya made one of his little jokes. “Sometimes her prognostications haven’t been very accurate,” he pointed out. Then, perhaps realizing that slapping down your mom on network television isn’t a great idea, he added, “And, no, no. I think you have to earn your way into politics. I don’t think anything is ever given to you.”

MARCO RUBIO BLASTS PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CALL FOR INTERNET REGULATION Full blog post here

Responding to President Barack Obama’s call for increased Internet regulation, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio renewed his demands to keep the Internet free of government involvement.

In a statement issued Monday, Rubio calls the Internet “one of the greatest economic stories in all of history, one whose openness has given people unprecedented opportunities to innovate and create jobs.” The Florida Senator serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“President Obama’s announced support for more government regulation of the Internet threatens to restrict Internet growth and increase costs on Internet users,” he says.

On Monday, Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify ISPs (like Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable) under Title II of the Communications Act, providing the agency greater authority over operations. The new designation would treat Internet service as other utilities, such as electricity and water. Net neutrality advocates say Title II would give the FCC additional powers to prohibit carriers from blocking Web traffic or preferring some services to others.

Rubio argues that applying “heavy-handed Title II classification” to Internet service sends the wrong message to those globally who look to the U.S. for leadership on Internet authority. The move would undermine an open Internet, free of government intervention.

“Instead of reclassifying Internet service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, the FCC should allow Congress to update this law,” he says. “I believe it should be a top priority of the new Congress to provide clarity on the FCC’s role in the modern communications landscape.”

SCHOOL CHOICE BACKER GOV. SCOTT SEES RISE IN BLACK SUPPORT IN FLORIDA via Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner

Gov. Scott did something that Republicans rarely do in elections: He doubled his share of the African-American vote from the last time he ran, picking up 12 percent on Election Day, according to exit polls.

Education reform advocates such as former D.C. Councilman Kevin Chavous are pointing to that as proof that black voters responded to Scott’s support for school choice and his willingness to take on teachers unions.

Scott defeated Charlie Crist, 48-47 percent, in an election that saw higher African-American turnout than when he first won office in 2010. That year, African-Americans accounted for 11 percent of the overall vote with more than half a million casting ballots. Only about 6 percent of blacks voted for Scott.

Four years later, African-American turnout rose to 14 percent of the overall vote, with just under 800,000 casting ballots. This time about 12 percent voted for Scott. The total votes Scott received from the community rose from 34,000 to 95,000.

That 61,000-vote increase is particularly noteworthy because it almost entirely accounts for Scott’s final margin of victory over Crist, which was about 66,000 votes.

Educational choice is one area in which Republican and African-American opinion overlap. An August nationwide survey of 2,269 people by the group EducationNext, a project of Stanford University, found that a strong plurality of African-Americans, 47 percent, supports charter schools. Only 29 percent oppose them.

ELECTION SHOWS JUST HOW DIFFERENT (THEY) ARE IN NORTH FLORIDA via Bob Babordi of the Tallahassee Democrat

Fall colors symbolize one more way North Florida is different from the rest of Florida, at least our piece of North Florida. I thought about that as I ran, about other ways we are different, and my mind turned to the recent election.

I thought about a post-election email and Facebook posts from people saying the newspaper was out of touch with the public because we endorsed Crist.

For the record, a political endorsement by a newspaper is not a prediction of outcome. It is merely an opinion after studying the candidates and issues about who better reflects our community’s values and needs.

In an election that saw Republicans sweep to victories across the nation, in a state that has elected the Republican candidate every year since 1999, Rick Scott won with less than a majority of the votes – again. In 2010, Scott received 48.87 percent of the votes cast; this year, he received 48.15 percent.

… That is a solid win, but hardly a mandate. You really can’t say that Scott reflects the values and ideals of most Floridians, only a plurality of those who voted, and barely so at that.

Furthermore, in Leon County, Scott received just 35.31 percent of the vote compared to 61.54 percent for former Gov. Crist. I suspect that most people in our county and the Big Bend region share the concerns the newspaper expressed about the impact of Scott’s election on the things we value: issues affecting state workers, higher education, public education, the environment and the disadvantaged. Crist also won in Jefferson and Gadsden by wide margins, but lost Wakulla.

EPILOGUE: LOWEST MIDTERM TURNOUT SINCE WORLD WAR II via The Political Wire

Final numbers are still being tallied, but at this point it looks pretty clear that turnout in these midterms was the lowest overall in 70 years. Turnout of the voting-eligible population was just 36.4 percent, according to the projection from the United States Elections Project, run by Dr. Michael McDonald at the University of Florida. That’s down from the 41 percent that turned out in 2010. You have to go all the way back to 1942 for lower numbers when turnout in that midterm was just 33.9 percent. They had a pretty good excuse back then — many adult-age Americans were preoccupied with fighting in a world war.

SPOTTED: GWEN GRAHAM CAMPAIGN IN ROLL CALL’S LIST OF BEST RUN CAMPAIGNS OF 2014 

She was House Democrats’ best recruit of the cycle — a fundraising machine who went on television 20 weeks before Election Day in the 2nd District. Even more to her credit, Graham won the Florida Panhandle in a wave year for Republicans.

Graham had help from her father, former Sen. Bob Graham, in her underdog bid to unseat Republican Rep. Steve Southerland II. But she also had a formidable lieutenant running her campaign, Julia Gill Woodward.

For example, ahead of an early fall debate, the event organizer denied Woodward’s request for reserved seating on the front row. So she asked 28 staffers and volunteers to arrive 3 hours before the debate doors opened. At the debate, Southerland was forced to stare at an entire front row of Graham loyalists, including Bob Graham and former First Lady Adele Graham.

SPOTTED: PATRICK MURPHY CAMPAIGN IN THIS GLOWING NATIONAL JOURNAL PROFILE here

Murphy’s show of financial and vote-getting prowess this year means that some people may eventually eye him for higher office. Florida’s Democratic Party is not well-stocked with rising talent, and Murphy, who turned 31 this year, is now constitutionally eligible, at least, to run for Senate. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio is up for reelection in 2016, but more importantly, the seat could be open if he runs for president.

“I don’t put any thought into that,” Murphy said. “My focus is obviously on my election and on my job. The better I am at doing my job, the more the elections will take care of themselves.”

ACTUAL HEADLINE: “Signs are key to political campaigns” via Florida Today

FLORIDA DOESN’T KEEP TRACK OF VOTES FOR MICKEY MOUSE ANY MORE via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

In years past, there was a tally after every election of how many famous or offbeat names were written in on ballots, often as protest votes.

“Mickey Mouse” was a perennial favorite, but you could count on action hero “Chuck Norris” and “None of the Above!” to pop up too.

More and more, however, elections officials with limited staff and resources aren’t keeping track of write-in votes for candidates who did not qualify to run.

“Originally, it was a ‘ha ha’ thing,” said Janet Olin, assistant supervisor of elections in Tallahassee. “You know, ‘Let’s see how many people voted for Bobby Bowden,’” Florida State University’s longtime football coach.

“But it got too complicated to keep track of,” she said.

A cursory review of the state’s election laws shows no requirement that supervisors keep track of votes for unqualified write-in candidates

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PRO-VOUCHER GROUP PRESSURING TO HAVE LAWSUIT DROPPED via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

With Gov. Scott’s election likely assuring a push for more charter schools and private school vouchers, a campaign to derail a lawsuit filed by Florida’s biggest teachers’ union also is taking on new life.

Miami minister and radio host Bishop Victor Curry plans to host a 10 a.m. to noon show on WMBM Radio AM-1490 to rip the Florida Education Association and Florida School Boards Association for challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

Curry’s show is the latest step in a campaign launched by a group called. SOS! Save Our Scholarships coalition, which is rolling out TV spots and community leaders to increase pressure on local school boards and the statewide organizations looking to overturn the tax credit program.

The FEA and FSBA was joined by the state NAACP and League of Women Voters in filing suit in August to kill the tax credit program, relying on the same legal arguments which overturned former Gov. Jeb Bush’s first-in-the-nation “opportunity scholarships” voucher program in 2006.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled opportunity scholarships violated the state constitution, which requires a “uniform….system of free public schools.” An appeals court earlier found that program violated a prohibition on state aid to religious schools.

FEA vice president Joanne McCall said it’s clear that voucher supporters have the money to mount an effort aimed at undermining the lawsuit. Voucher backers already unsuccessfully tried to get the Duval County School Board to withdraw from the legal challenge and appear intent on broadening their campaign, McCall said.

NEW SENATE CHIEF JUST LOOKS DOWN I-4 TO PICK RULES BOSS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican, looked just down the road on Interstate 4 in naming Altamonte Springs Republican Sen. David Simmons to the pivotal post of rules chair.

“David is a loyal adviser, a trusted confidante and good friend,” said President-Designate Gardiner. “With over three decades of experience practicing law and ten years of service in the state legislature, he is well-qualified to assume this critical leadership position.”

The rules chair is effectively the Senate president’s right hand, deciding what legislation gets heard and when. Simmons was elected to the Florida Senate in 2010 after serving eight years in the state House, where he was an education budget chair and also led the judiciary committee.

Simmons is an Orlando lawyer, whose Senate district takes in parts of Seminole and Volusia counties.

Republicans hold a 26-14 seat edge in the Florida Senate.

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GOV. SCOTT: VETERANS CELEBRATED WITH FREE ENTRANCE TO STATE PARKS Full blog post here

In honor of Veterans Day, there will be free entry for everyone at state parks today.

The Florida Park Service encourages residents and visitors to celebrate veterans and active military personnel by bringing them to one of the 171 state parks and trails to enjoy outdoor activities.

For more information on state parks in your area, visit the Florida State Parks website or download the Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger app, which is available on iTunes and Android Market by searching “Florida Pocket Ranger” and is identified under ParksByNature Network.

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA LAUNCHES VETSUCCESS INITIATIVE IN JACKSONVILLE Full blog post here

Volunteer Florida, the state’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service, celebrates Veterans Day with a new program to provide direct support to about 300 Jacksonville-area veterans.

VetSuccess on Campus will use Volunteer Florida’s AmeriCorps members at colleges across Duval County to help veterans transition into civilian and academic life, achieve  success, and find jobs upon graduation.

Serving as sub-guarantor for the program will be Communities In Schools (CIS) of Jacksonville to provide resources, expertise, and infrastructure.

Volunteer Florida is a quasi-governmental agency that provides volunteers and donations during disasters, as well as making funds available for educational foundations, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. The group directs Florida-based AmeriCorps and National Service Programs. Volunteer Florida also oversees a number of events, such as the state’s national days of service, including September 11 and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

APPOINTED: Judge Rodolfo Ruiz, II and Jason Bloch to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.

APPOINTED: Robert Branning to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court* and Scott Cupp to the Hendry County Court.

APPOINTED: Darrick McGhee to the Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Erika Alba, Christian Caballero, Robert Hosay, Paul Lowell, Foley & Lardner: Capgemini Government Solutions

Chris Dudley, Electra Bustle, Sarrah Carroll, Edgar Castro, Nelson Diaz, Fatima Perez, Southern Strategy Group: Panter Panter and Sampedro, PA

Ana Cruz, Floridian Partners: Florida Cable Telecommunications Association, Inc.

Marty Fiorentino, Thomas Griffin, The Fiorentino Group: City of Green Cove Springs; Friends of the Summer Haven River, Inc.

Tom Gallagher, Claude Mueller, Colodny Fass: Capitol Preferred Insurance Company, Inc., Federated National Insurance Company, Southern Fidelity Insurance Company

Kenneth Granger: Capital City Consulting: Structure Commercial Property Management, LLC

Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Ashley Mayer, Chris Schoonover, Gerald Wester, Capital City Consulting: Non-Profit Insurance Services, Inc.

David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Ramba Consulting: Florida Independent Spirits Association

Wansley Waters, Ballard Partners: Florida’s Children First, Inc.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: MONEY PITCHES, PEACEFUL ELECTIONS, COST OF FREEDOM AND VETERANS DAY 

On Context Florida: The election campaign was not altogether a disaster. It revealed that Martin Dyckman has more friends asking for money than he could have imagined. In a world still filled with civil wars and religiously motivated slaughter, Julie Delegal says conducting peaceful elections is no small thing. It turns out that the GOP didn’t need any bullets, though. Several thousand Tallahassee-area residents honored veterans by viewing the Cost of Freedom Tribute, writes Andrew Skerritt. Dominating the Tribute was what is billed as the largest traveling Vietnam War Memorial. The results of the Nov. 4 general election brought one new County Commissioner to Escambia County, though Shannon Nickinson notes that all of the political blood sport in that race was contained to the primary election. On TuesdayDominic Calabro says to be sure to thank a Florida veteran. It shouldn’t be too difficult to track one down, as Florida is home to more than 1.6 million veterans. That’s one in every 12 adults. When Ben Pollara debated Barney Bishop a few weeks ago in Miami, Bishop claimed that he had “smoked more marijuana than everyone in the crowd – combined.” Well, he must have fried his brain doing so, because Pollara says he can’t even put together a coherent thought in a “victory lap” piece like the one published on “Politics of Pot” the day after last week’s election.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

SCOOP – POLITICAL REPORTER WILLIAM MARCH NO LONGER WITH TAMPA TRIB

William March, the veteran political reporter at the Tampa Tribune, is no longer with the paper. March confirmed to me Monday night that he had been let go after SPB learned of the situation via March’s voicemail message stating he was no longer with the Trib.

Asked how much notice he was given, March responded, “Five minutes.”

Tampa Tribune Metro Editor Dennis Joyce would not verify whether March was laid off, nor would he offer biographical information about March’s tenure with the paper.

March has been with the Tribune for more than three decades.

March covered state and some national politics for the paper. March’s most recent post on the Tribune‘s website Friday asks which Rick Scott will now govern Florida, Tea Party or moderate? He has covered the most recent midterms, as well as numerous other elections. March, who other reporters know as “Windy,” has been a staple at stump speeches and political events throughout Tampa Bay and Florida

TOM SLADE TO BE REMEMBERED IN TALLAHASSEE NOV. 17

Tom Slade, former state Senator, state Representative and perhaps best known as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida from 1993-1999, will be remembered in Tallahassee on Monday, November 17. The service will be 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. at the Historic Capitol’s Senate Chambers, 400 South Monroe Street in Tallahassee. After the memorial service, friends will gather at Clyde’s & Costello’s, 210 South Adams Street, to raise a glass in his honor.

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.