Sunburn for 10/29 — A morning read of what's hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

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OBAMA HOLDS ADVANTAGE GOING INTO FINAL WEEK

An Associated Press analysis finds President Obama “is poised to eke out a victory in the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to win re-election, having beaten back Republican Mitt Romney’s attempts to convert momentum from the debates into support in all-important Ohio.”

While in a tight race with Obama for the popular vote, Romney continues to have fewer state-by-state paths than Obama to reach 270. Without Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, Romney would need last-minute victories in nearly all the remaining up-for-grabs states and manage to pick off key states now leaning Obama’s way, such as Iowa or Wisconsin.

OBAMA AND ROMNEY CAMPAIGNS WILL RAISE $2 BILLION

From the beginning of 2011 through Oct. 17, Obama and the Democrats raised about $1.06 billion, and Romney and the Republicans collected $954 million … The overall totals do not include hundreds of millions of dollars being raised and spent by “super PACs” and other outside groups, mostly to benefit Romney and other Republicans.”

PPP POLL OF FLORIDA: OBAMA 49%, ROMNEY 48%

TAMPA BAY TIMES POLL OF FLORIDA’S I-4 CORRIDOR

Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of likely voters along the Interstate 4 corridor finds Romney leading Obama 51 percent to 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided.

“Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida,” said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll for the Times and its media partners. “Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney’s going to win Florida.”

The poll shows Romney leading Tampa Bay 50 percent to 46 percent.

MIAMI HERALD endorses Obama.

TWEET, TWEET: @adamsmithtimes: endorsmnts frm top 5 FL papers (in order):TpaBayTimes: Obama; Orlando Sentinel: Mitt; Mia Herald: Obama; S Fla Sun-Sent-Mitt; Tpa Trib Mitt

TIMES INSIDER POLL BETS HEAVILY ON ROMNEY WINNING FLORIDA by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

A poll of more than 100 of the most experienced and savviest political hands in the state found that 73 percent expect Romney will win the Sunshine State, while 27 percent predict Obama. Sixty percent of Democrats expect Romney will win Florida’s 29 electoral votes and 95 percent of Republicans expect Romney to carry Florida.

FOR THE RECORD: I took part in Smith’s insiders poll. I voted that Romney would win Florida and that Obama would win the presidency.

CHARLIE CRIST TAKES PART IN “SOULS TO THE POLLS” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist and his wife Carole stumped at Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg on Sunday morning, urging the congregation to take advantage of early voting. He said he and his wife were headed to the polls later, too, and the ex-Republican made no secret of who he’s supporting.

“My former party didn’t like it because I dared to be decent to a new president,” said Crist, now registered as an independent. “I’m voting for him today. I wish I had last time.” He said if Obama wins Florida, he’ll win everything “because we’re the Checkmate State.”

OBAMA and BILL CLINTON in Orlando; PAUL RYAN in Fernandina Beach, Lakeland and Melbourne today.

POLITICO’S MIKE ALLEN: “Obama doesn’t NEED Florida. Romney DOES: Boston’s internal debates about an Ohio path vs. a Nevada path vs. a Wisconsin path are ALL predicated on wins in Florida and Virginia.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Florida is like an aircraft carrier: Once you start turning it, it’s hard to stop, and it’s been turning now for about the last 10 days. … The Dems are talking about how they’ve closed the gap on absentee, but since the early vote window’s gone from two weeks to one week, all that they’re doing is taking their early vote and voting them absentee. … We’re ahead of where we were in ’08, and … our Election Day turnout is going to be very strong. … Every day, [Florida] gets better, and as Haley Barbour says, ‘Good gets better and bad gets worse.’ — Mitt Romney’s political director Rich Beeson.

UH-OH – FLA. ABSENTEE BALLOTS MAY HAVE BEEN DESTROYED IN MILITARY PLANE CRASH

Federal officials say that absentee ballots being sent to U.S. military serving in Afghanistan may have been burned in a plane crash. A top official in the Federal Voting Assistance Program this week notified election officials across the nation that a transport plane crashed at Shindad Air Base on Oct. 19. The crash resulted in the destruction of 4,700 pounds of mail inbound to troops serving in the area.

THREE WAYS THE ELECTION MIGHT NOT ENDDavid Frum looks at the possibility of recounts, provisional ballots, and a potential electoral college tie: “Please, God, no.”

MINNESOTA’S IN PLAY?: (Minneapolis) Star Tribune poll shows Obama with support from 47 percent of likely voters and Romney earning backing from 44 percent — a lead within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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TAMPA BAY TIMES POLL: BILL NELSON 47%, CONNIE MACK 44%

Mack — who is within the poll’s margin of error — is gaining on the strength of Mitt Romney in Florida, the unpopularity of President Barack Obama’s policies and Nelson’s struggles to close the deal despite decades in public office.

But it may not be enough for Mack, said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll. “At the end of the day, if Nelson hangs on, I think it’s going to be more about Mack losing it than Nelson winning,” Coker said.

SHADOW MONEY SPENT AGAINST NELSON AMONG MOST IN NATION

The $4.2 million in “shadow money” spent against Nelson puts him on the list of the candidates with the most secret money spent on his race, The Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets blog reports.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @DavidABergstein: No one knows @ConnieMackIV like his hometown papers, and they endorsed @SenBillNelson

REPUBLICANS FAVORED TO KEEP U.S. HOUSE

Washington Post: “President Obama remains at least an even bet to win reelection. Democrats are favored to hold on to the Senate — an outcome few prognosticators envisioned at the beginning of the year. And yet, with a little more than a week to go, the party holds almost no chance of winning back the House. … Analysts cite several factors why the Democrats haven’t been able to take advantage. First was a redistricting process that made some Republicans virtually impervious to a challenge and re-election more difficult for about 10 Democrats. A few Democratic incumbents have stumbled in their first competitive races in years. And Republicans have leveraged their majority into a fund-raising operation that has out-muscled the Democrats.”

JOHN LEWIS TO JOIN AL LAWSON FOR MARCH FOR EARLY VOTING

U.S. Rep. John Lewis will join students and Al Lawson in the march for early voting on Monday, at 9:30 a.m. that starts at Florida A&M University’s Eternal Flame and goes to the Leon County Courthouse. Lewis will deliver the keynote address at the 9:30 a.m. rally, prior to the 10 a.m. march.

“North Florida is honored to have civil rights champion and distinguished Congressman John Lewis join us for this important march for early voting,” said Al Lawson. “Many noble leaders have gone before us in order to pave the way so that we are able to march in unity to make our voices heard and our votes count by participating in the 2012 election.”

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THERE ARE NOW 11.94 MILLION FLORIDA VOTERS

State officials early Saturday released new voter registration numbers that show that the number of active voters has grown 6 percent to a total of 11.94 million.

The new registration numbers show the gap between Republicans and Democrats is smaller than it was in 2008. There are nearly 536,000 more Democrats than Republicans. There are 4.78 million Democrats and 4.24 million Republicans.

The number of voters not affiliated with any party, however, grew at a substantially faster rate than either major party.

WHEN IT COMES TO TURNING OUT GOP VOTERS, SEN. JACK LATVALA PUTS HIS MONEY — AND DONUTS — WHERE HIS MOUTH IS

 Latvala is concerned about how the current trends in absentee voting bode for local Republicans.

“During the first two weeks of mail voting, for the first time in anyone’s memory in Pinellas more Democrats returned absentee ballots than Republicans,” Latvala writes in a flier being widely distributed throughout the county. “If we want to win on November 6, we must turn that around!”

To bolster the GOP’s efforts, Latvala put his mouth — and his donuts — where his mouth is.  The longtime GOP stalwart and senior Senator organized “Donuts for Democracy” on Saturday – a ballot-casting event where voters met their elected Republican leaders, dropped-off ballots, and had coffee and donuts.

Latvala coordinated with other elected Republican leaders to host mini-rallies at strategically located points throughout the county. Voters received free coffee and donuts when they dropped-off their ballot.

SD 4 CANDIDATE NANCY SODERBERG’S COMMITTEE PULLS IN $125K OVER LAST TWO WEEKS via The News Service of Florida

 The biggest contribution since Oct. 12 to Soderberg’s committee came from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, which gave $75,000. But The Florida Times-Union reported this week that Blue Cross made the contribution with the understanding that it would be used to help other Democratic candidates — not Soderberg. Blue Cross is backing Aaron Bean in the Northeast Florida district.

BATTLEGROUND TAMPA BAY

>>>Race between Dwight Dudley and Frank Farkas for House District 68 gets uglier.

>>>Times editorial: Frankly, this is despicable politics.

>>>Carl Zimmerman is getting no help for his race vs. Rep. Peter Nehr from the Florida Democratic Party. “They don’t have the money to play in all the races,” said Zimmermann. “They do believe I can win this race, it’s just that they have very limited funds,

CHECK OUT THE MICRO-SITE TARGETING KAREN CASTOR DENTEL IN HD 30. KarenBetrayedYourTrust.com

FINAL FUNDRAISER FOR SCOTT PLAKON CAMPAIGN on Tuesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m at Café Murano in Altamonte Springs.

DEMOCRAT JOE SAUNDERS HAMMERED WITH SERIES OF ATTACK MAILERS

Saunders is running against Republican up-and-comer Marco Pena in an increasingly competitive, interesting — and nasty — race for House District 49. Saunders has been hammered with a series of attack mailers. View here.

TOM GUSTAFSON’S DECADES-OLD RECORD COMES BACK TO HAUNT HIM IN HD 89 RACE

The former Democratic House Speaker, who entered the House District 89 race last month after another candidate dropped out, is seeing his legislative record come back to haunt him through a series of direct mailers sent by the Republican Party of Florida on behalf of incumbent Bill Hager. View mailers here.

CAMPAIGN PROFILES

A recap of the Orlando Sentinel’s legislative election coverage

DBNJ: Beaven, DeSantis giving all for District 6 in final days

Herald-Tribune: In race for state Senate District 26, clear contrasts

Sentinel: Newly drawn state Senate District 31 covers most of Broward and name confusion not the only issue

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APPOINTED to the Florida Citrus Commission, Michael Haycock, Vernon Hollingsworth and James Horrisberger. Haycock, 63, of Longboat Key, the vice president of operations for Tropicana Products has 18 years of citrus industry experience. Hollingsworth, 52, of Arcadia,  manager of VCH Management Inc., has maintained 4,000 acres of citrus groves in Hardee and Desoto Counties since 1981. Horrisberger, 59, of Lakeland, procurement director for Coca-Cola Co., worked for Cargill, Inc. from 1978-2007. All were reappointed to terms ending May 31, 2015, and are subject to Florida Senate confirmation.

GENERAL REVENUE BEATS ESTIMATES IN SEPTEMBER

General-revenue tax collections in September were $54.6 million over earlier projections, adding to the state’s cushion in the critical source of money, according to a report released this week by the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research. In all, general revenue is $162.6 million above estimates for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The September numbers were fueled, in part, by sales taxes, which beat estimates by $24 million. General revenue plays an important role in funding services such as education and health care.

MATT GAETZ OP-ED: LET’S COUNT THE WAY DORWORTH IMPRESSES

My fellow legislators and I must simply be too stubborn to capitulate to (Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott) Maxwell’s calls to oust Dorworth. We can be narrow-minded that way.

Maybe we were charmed by the resolve in Dorworth as he forced the repeal of 4,100-plus job-killing regulations. Maybe he impressed us by passing the strongest sexual-violence laws in America.

Maybe there is nothing unusual about our decision. Maybe the Florida House has reposed trust in a man who has been called to leadership every step along the way.

What I do know is that the people who know Chris Dorworth best ask him to lead. People who don’t know him at all write vitriolic columns questioning why.

NEW CHIEF HIRED FOR TOBACCO FREE FLORIDA

The Department of Health, Division of Community Health Promotion, announced the appointment of Shannon Hughes as chief of the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida, effective Nov. 2.  Hughes was director of the Office of Workforce Development. Hughes earned a social work degree from Florida State University.

STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND

Off: Stephanie Gudeman, legislative analyst for the House Office of the Majority Leader.

On: Jessica Graham has become a district secretary for Rep. Scott Randolph.

Off: Paige Anne Biagi has left Rep. Gary Aubuchon’s office.

On: George Fossett has become a district secretary for Rep. Matt Hudson.

Off: James Mullen has left his job as a legislative assistant with Rep. Hudson.

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EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Listen, y’all” from Ashley Judd for Barack Obama.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to classy lady Alia Faraj-Johnson and — today — to the Florida Institute of CPA’s Rivers Buford.

HOW THE OUTCOME OF A FEW COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES COULD IMPACT THE ELECTION: Economists Andrew Healy, Neil Malhotra, and Cecilia Mo make this argument in a fascinating article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. They examined whether the outcomes of college football games on the eve of elections for presidents, senators, and governors affected the choices voters made. They found that a win by the local team, in the week before an election, raises the vote going to the incumbent by around 1.5 percentage points. When it comes to the 20 highest attendance teams — big athletic programs like the University of Michigan, Oklahoma, and Southern Cal — a victory on the eve of an election pushes the vote for the incumbent up by 3 percentage points.

MAN GETS ROMNEY TATTOO ON HIS FACE: An Indiana man told ABC News he auctioned off space on the side of his head, where he tattooed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign “R” logo in a 5-by-2-inch spot for a bid of $15,000.

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.