Sunburn for 11/7 – 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: We close our weeklong journey down Election Memory Lane with a pair of pairs – two Florida gubernatorial elections, and two of national significance. It was on this date in 1978 that Bob Graham was elected Governor, capturing 55.6% of the vote against Jack Eckerd. Exactly 28 years later, Charlie Crist became the first Republican since Reconstruction to succeed an incumbent GOP governor when he captured 52.2% of the vote against Jim Davis. And in national politics, it was on another November 7, this one in 2000, that American voters went to the polls – only to wait five weeks to find out they had elected George W. Bush as President, by a 537-vote court-ordained margin in (where else?) Florida. Oh, yeah, that day another presidential aspirant was elected to a national office for the first time: Hillary Clinton, as New York’s junior U.S. senator.

Now, on to the ‘burn…


Democrats learned another tough lesson — technology can’t win every election.

In this year’s midterms, Democratic digital hands used nearly every trick in the 2012 Obama e-playbook to try to pull out victories in the House, Senate and governor races. They sliced and diced data, micro-targeted key parts of their electorate and honed in on voters via Facebook.

But while the results could have been much worse, they still lost in most of their battlegrounds.

All the techno-wizardry couldn’t trump the basic political dynamics of a difficult year for Democrats — including the unpopularity of President Barack Obama, the six-year itch that favors the party out of power, and low turnout that normally accompanies midterms.

“The truth of the matter is if technology won elections then we’d have had a President Gore and we’d have had a President Dean and we’d have had sweeping majorities in the House and Senate in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014,” said Clay Johnson, the former digital leader of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign and co-founder of Blue State Digital, which helped in Obama’s two White House runs.

Republican digital hands were nonetheless quick to take a victory lap, claiming their micro-targeting techniques played a notable role in helping to capture the Senate, expand their House majority and snatch away from the Democrats several governor mansions.

Republicans, for example, said data they’d produced on North Carolina voters told them not to overreact on Thom Tillis’s campaign when Democrats made a late push to save Sen. Kay Hagan. They also pointed to Joni Ernst’s rise in the polls this summer against Democrat Bruce Braley after the RNC deployed a data-driven field team to Iowa.


The morning after elections: the time to sift through the various exit poll data to take the temperature of the country, or at least the people who bothered to turn out to vote. Lots of interesting information out there today to explain the Crushing of the Democrats. Millennials didn’t bother to vote, single women were a little less pro-Democratic than usual, and the racial divide among voters remains stark. But one number stands out above all others: 64 percent of white men voted for Republicans. It’s the “widest GOP advantage in this group in data since 1984,” according to ABC News.

Revenge of the white guys! There are two ways to interpret this news: that the “war on women” narrative is no longer working for the Democrats, or that the “war on women” isn’t just a Democratic campaign slogan but a brutal fact of our modern political landscape. I lean toward the latter: The Democrats got their asses handed to them by a white male electorate that turned out in an effort to fight their eroding cultural dominance. Republicans got a further assist by the traditional lower midterms turnout among single women, younger people, and people of color—the very demos that have white men so worried.

If you look at how Republicans campaigned, the resentment factor might not seem very relevant. Republicans, wary of the “war on women” cudgel, did what they could to minimize talk about gender issues, often going so far as to imply that they’re really not as anti-choice as they seem. As my colleague Will Saletan argues, Republican politicians were really trying hard to sound moderate this time around. Of course, all that is likely to suppress the liberal vote, because there’s no Todd Akin spouting off about “legitimate rape” to vote against this time around.

But if you turned on conservative media, you heard a much different story than the cautious moderation that actual Republican politicians were trying to sell. Conservative outlets spent the past few months really ramping up the narrative of poor, put-upon white men who are under attack by women. Or, more specifically, single women. A small sampling: Tucker Carlson of Fox News complaining that the country needs “Older White Guy Appreciation Day.” Rush Limbaugh claiming there’s an “all-out assault” on marriage from liberals and suggesting that single women need to be married off so they stop voting for Democrats. Kimberly Guilfoyle of Fox News arguing that single women are too busy being “healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world” to handle civic duties like voting and jury duty properly and therefore should busy themselves with “Tinder or” instead.



Rick Scott: Fangate? What’s that? Jeff Atwater: Don’t anoint Adam Putnam 2018 GOP nominee just yet. Adam Putnam: The Tallahassee insider crowd has practically already elected him governor in 2018.

Joe Negron: State Sen. Maria Sachs’ win may put the nail in Jack Latvala’s hopes of becoming Florida Senate President. Julia Gill Woodward: Haven’t heard of her? You will. Gwen Graham’s campaign manager is newest star Democratic consultant in Florida (No offense, Julia, but that’s a pretty small universe. Gwen Graham. Candidates matter. Bob’s daughter ran a near-perfect campaign in a tough district and tough climate, and now immediately emerges as one of the very brightest lights of the Florida Democratic party. Bob Buckhorn. Let’s go ahead and declare Tampa’s mayor, who repeatedly snubbed Charlie Crist this year, the frontrunner to lose the governor’s race in 2018. Sure would like to give him some truth serum and ask whether he voted for Crist of Scott.

Steve Crisafulli: The incoming House Speaker now has a super-majority in the House, with Republicans defeating six incumbent Democrats (even after Fair Districts was expected to help Democrats). Carlos Curbelo: Even though his election means Curbelo will be booted from our Florida Insider list, he and David Johnson, OnMessage, and the rest of the team pulled off a big win unseating Democratic U.S, Rep. Joe Garcia. Dwight Dudley: The state representative from St. Petersburg was bashing Duke Energy long before it was cool to bash Duke Energy and won re-election against a big name – Bill Young II – and some of the most shamelessly misleading campaign attacks ever about him being a Duke patsy.

Patrick Murphy and Eric Johnson: The Democratic congressman and his top campaign adviser unseated Allan West two years ago, and then managed to scare off formidable challengers before overwhelmingly winning reelection. A 20-point win over a challenger who spent more than a million dollars? Sounds like a contender for U.S. Senate in 2016.


Charlie Crist: It was mighty close against a ton of money, but you still lost and now have the distinction of losing as a Republican, independent, and Democrat. John Morgan: Zero for two on medical marijuana and Crist. Bill Nelson: A major reason he gave for not running for governor was because he was poised to chair the influential Commerce Committee. Well, that dream is shot now.

Tom Steyer: The billionaire founder of NextGen Climate bet more on Florida than anywhere else – $15-million. I’m not a scientist, as Rick Scott would say. but your track record this cycle looks weak. Nate Silver. The predictions guru blew the call on Scott v. Crist. Allison Tant/Debbie Wasserman Schultz: The laws of physics wouldn’t allow Florida Democrats to sink lower than they have now.

Mark Pafford: Good thing Florida Democrats ousted Darryl Rouson as leader of their House campaign operation. Troy Kinsey: Maybe the Bay News 9 “Cristologist” will now finally spare us his incessant Crist imitation? Men-only fundraising invites: With all due respect to Steve Southerland, best not to suggesting leaving “The Misses” at home

OBAMA CALLS HIS BUDDY CHARLIE via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

President Obama called Crist the day after the new Democrat lost a tight race with Gov. Scott.

The White House said the call was made Wednesday, as Obama called a series of midterm candidates. Crist famously signed papers to become a Democrat during a holiday party at the White House in 2012. He surrounded himself with ex-Obama staffers. But Obama’s unpopularity kept him from campaigning for Crist. Instead, Obama quietly recorded a radio ad that aimed at black voters in South Florida. It wasn’t enough.


1. Crist’s ‘lost November’ – The decision by Crist to announce his campaign on November 4, 2013 (a personal one made by Crist who liked the idea of launching one year before the election) set him up for a lackluster start. 2. No follow-up to his launch – While Crist’s announcement event was a success and made for some excellent B-roll, it was not followed-up with a rollout of endorsements or statewide tour or much of anything.  3. Freakin’ Bill Hyres – It’s still not clear why the New York political wunderkind, fresh off his win for Bill de Blasio, never made his way to Florida to manage Crist’s campaign (speculation is that Hyres’ hire was undone by Carole Crist) but the entire affair damaged Crist just as he was trying to get out of the gate.

4. What exactly did Jim Messina do for Crist for that $25,000 a month check, other than give Crist the imprimatur of being close to Barack Obama — supposedly the worst thing a candidate could do this election cycle. 5. The gay community sat on its hands – Want to know why there was less enthusiasm for Crist with the traditional Democratic base, then you have to remember that Crist supported the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. 6. Where was the policy beef? Believe it or not, Crist’s most policy-oriented speech was his announcement speech. 6a. Cuba – Crist’s idea to visit Castroworld after he ad libbed a call to end the embargo against Cuba during an appearance on Bill Maher’s show turned out to be an epic unforced error.

7. Crist’s Democratic staff hated Republicans and pretty much anyone not from Obamaworld – One of the untold stories of the Crist campaign was the disconnect between many of Crist’s Obamaworld staffers and his decades-long band of followers, many of whom were Independents and Republicans.

8. Bill Nelson – The U.S. Senator’s playing coy with the press corps about whether he would have to jump into the gubernatorial race if Crist for some reason faltered gave several big-money Democratic activists and donors an excuse to stay on the sidelines.

9. The non-nationalization of this race – Crist vs. Scott was the most expensive race of the midterm elections, but U.S. Senate races in Iowa, North Carolina, and Arkansas seemed to get more attention from the national media, which still has not figured out the Chinatown of Florida politics. 10. Annette Taddeo – Crist’s choice for LG, coming out of left field, did nothing for his campaign, except show again that the campaign had issues with a major rollout.  11. Nan Rich – Few factors contributed to Crist losing as much as Rich’s Quixotic campaign. 12. South Florida Democrats – They’re as unreliable as a broken watch.

13. Big city mayors – Bob Buckhorn, Alvin Brown, Buddy Dyer did not lift a finger for their fellow Democrat. 14. That logo! What was wrong with sans serif italics of campaigns past.

15. Rick Scott’s checkbook. With then days to go, Crist was up three points. Scott reached into his pocket and dropped eight-figures of hurt on Scott’s head. 16. The decision to not let Barack Obama campaign for Crist.


An Alexandria, Virgina firm was a big winner, leading the Top 10 List of vendors for the 2014 election. Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida spent $69.3 million through the Multi Media Service Corporation.

More than $157 million was spent through or with the 10 companies.

Gov. Scott’s Let’s Get to Work Committee, the Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Federation for Children spent $7.8 million on direct mail services with Majority Strategies.

… Waterfront Strategies, a media buy and television production company, received more than $6.2 million from among other interests, NextGen Climate and People United for Medical Marijuana.

… Jamestown Associates; direct mail and printing, TV, radio consultant, received $5.6 million from Drug Free Florida and legislative candidates.

Mentzer Media Services finished third in billing; the RPOF, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Sen. Joe Negron spent $8.3 million with the Towson, MD media company.

Gov. Scott and the RPOF spent $7.7 million with On Message;, the Annapolis, Maryland consulting company came in fifth.

Another $5.3 million went to McLaughlin & Associates, the eighth highest total. The polling and media company counted CFO Jeff Atwater, Ellyn Bogdanoff and the Floridians for Integrity in Government Committee and the Committee for a Better Florida as clients.

Rounding out the list was the signature-gathering company PCI Consultants Inc., collecting $5.2 million as part of the Amendment 1 and 2 campaigns. And NoiseWorks, a Coral Gables media company which collected $4.7 million from the RPOF, Scott’s committee and Bondi and Atwater.

TWEET, TWEET: @JohnMorganESQ: .@snoopdogg I’m going to try to get #MedicalMarijuana done in 2016. Come help this old man next time. peace.


The outgoing Florida House leader says if supporters of medical marijuana plan to push forward, they must rewrite their proposal.

House Speaker Will Weatherford said Thursday that Amendment 2 didn’t pass because people feared “loopholes that you could drive a truck through.”

He said lawmakers tried to be “compassionate but also be guarded” in passing a narrow medical marijuana law.

Amendment 2’s supporters say that wasn’t enough and that they’ll take their fight back to the statehouse, or return to ballots in 2016.

Weatherford says though he doesn’t think he’d support the cause, “If they’re very serious and want to find a way to provide people medical marijuana they ought to go back and look at the language.”

10 THINGS TO EXPECT IN GOV. RICK SCOTT’S SECOND TERM via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

Focus on jobs: Expect more cold calls and letters from Scott to companies based in Democratic-controlled states as he did throughout his first term. More tax cuts:  Scott believes that cutting taxes and fees for Florida businesses and individuals fuels economic growth. On the campaign trail, he said he would propose $1 billion in tax and fee cuts during his second term. No tuition increases: Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t believe that Florida students attending public universities and state colleges should pay any more in tuition than they already do. No easier restoration of rights: Not only was Scott re-elected, but the Cabinet was, too, so expect no changes here.

More conservatives on the bench: State law requires four Florida Supreme Court justices to retire in the coming years, including several considered among the most liberal on the seven-member bench. Meanwhile, Scott will appoint dozens of people to judicial vacancies in county, circuit and appellate courts across the state during his second term.

More executions: Scott signed death warrants for 20 Florida prisoners during his first term, a state record. Expect Scott to keep up the pace in his second term. For perspective, 394 people are on Florida’s Death Row. Harder course for Medicaid expansion:  With House Republicans now a super-majority, it will be even more difficult to get the Legislature to approve a Medicaid expansion plan. Don’t expect Scott to put more time or focus into that topic anytime soon. More fights with the feds: Scott has picked many fights with various federal agencies over the years, but they seemed to increase as he got closer to re-election.

Port funding: Jacksonville officials in particular will be looking to Scott to help fund improvements at the port. They are likely to find a friendly ear. More attention on the environment: In the past, conservationists accused Scott of not putting enough money or resources into improving the state of Florida’s rivers and streams. But that could change in his second term, especially since Scott does prioritize having positive relationships with legislative leaders.

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Cesar Conda, chief of staff of Sen. Marco Rubio, is returning to Navigators Global – the lobbying firm he helped found — as a senior principal and policy advisor. In 2003, he became a Founding Principal of the firm after leaving the White House. From Jan. 2011 to this April, Conda served as Rubio’s chief of staff. “Cesar is a sharp policy mind and his experiences and insights were invaluable to our transition, in setting up our office, and in developing an optimistic and solutions-driven agenda for Florida and America,” Rubio said. “I’ll be forever grateful for his counsel and friendship.”

NEW CHIEFS FOR FSU, UF CONFIRMED via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Florida’s two best-known universities – fiercely competitive on the athletic field and among their alumni – are each getting new presidents that vary significantly in their background and experience.

The state board that oversees Florida’s state university system on Thursday officially confirmed the selections for the University of Florida and Florida State University. The Board of Governors approved the hires while meeting on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

The University of Florida, which is striving to become one of the nation’s leading public universities, will now be led by Cornell University Provost W. Kent Fuchs. Florida State, which wants to join the same elite group of research schools that its rival is already a part of, is going with powerful Republican state Sen. John Thrasher as its president.

“Thrasher and Fuchs each have unique strengths that will immensely benefit two of our system’s largest institutions,” said Mori Hosseini, chairman of the Board of Governors in a statement. “Both presidents are dedicated to the board’s mission and the overall success of our state university system, and I look forward to working with them.”

Thrasher, 70, is an attorney, a former lobbyist and a legislator who once served as House speaker and also had a brief stint as chairman of the state GOP. Fuchs, 59, has been a professor of electrical and computer engineering and has held leadership position at major universities the last 20 years.


Renowned author, CNN host and foreign policy expert Dr. Fareed Zakaria will be the keynote speaker at the Second annual Sayfie Review Florida Leaders Summit, set for Dec. 4-5 in Orlando.

Zakaria’s speech will focus on “Global Trends, Hot Spots and the Rise of the Rest.”

As the host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” weekly foreign affairs show, Zakaria also serves as a columnist for The Washington Post, a contributing editor for The Atlantic and a New York Times bestselling author.  Esquire Magazine considered him “the most influential foreign policy adviser of his generation.”

The Sayfie Review is the invention of attorney and government relations consultant Justin Sayfie, a former senior policy advisor, Communications Director and Chief Speechwriter to former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Sayfie Review Summit is an invitation-only, non-partisan setting, which began in 2013 with a mission statement of “Engaging Florida’s Leaders, Shaping Florida’s Agenda, Prospering Florida’s Future.” Modeled after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the meeting is where business and political principals gather to discuss and debate Florida’s future.

In 2014, the Summit is scheduled for after November elections, to allow participants an opportunity to frame the discussions in a post-election, pre-inauguration context.


On Context Florida: When a candidate loses an election, Peter Schorsch says there’s a tendency to ask what could have been done differently. Coulda, woulda, shoulda is a natural part of the post-election period. But when a candidate loses by a margin as tight as Charlie Crist fell short against Rick Scott — 48.2 to 47.1 percent — there’s an obligation to go beyond Monday morning quarterbacking. According to Martin Dyckman, the worst disappointment of Tuesday’s midterms isn’t the re-election of the kleptocrat Rick Scott, or U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s defeat by a Koch stooge in North Carolina, or even the fact that Ted Cruz is now running amok in a Senate majority. What’s worse is the underlying reason for these outcomes: money, money, money, money, money, money and more money. Adam Weinstein gives three big reasons Florida Democrats still can’t elect a governor, including that they spent plenty of dough, but too little and especially too late. Now that Amendment 2 on medical marijuana has been defeated and relegated to the trash pile of poorly worded constitutional amendments, Barney Bishop says that we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Well, not really. You see, John Morgan, the lawyer who spearheaded the drive to adopt Amendment 2, can’t stay silent even for a nano-minute.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to progressive activist Tim Martin and “avid” Sunburn reader Rafael Yaniz.

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.