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MAYBE THE BEST ENDORSEMENT YET: “I gotta say…I tend to be ADD when it comes to catching up on the latest to hit the presses in the morning. However, I have officially read every SUNBURN for the last two weeks. You have centered me, and I have officially found my political news zen.” — Ashley Intartaglia, The Victory Group.
FIRST IN SUNBURN: STEVE SCHALE’S FIVE THINGS TO WATCH DURING QUALIFYING WEEK
Florida’s smartest Democratic political operative shares first with Sunburn readers his five things to watch during Qualifying Week. … 5. Does anyone bail on a Congressional run? … 4. How many of the lucky unopposed will remain that way? … 3. How many swing districts will go unchallenged? … 2. Miami, Miami, Miami.
#1 thing to watch for during Qualifying Week: “Does Jack Latvala run for re-election in the North Pinellas district, which is essentially his old old seat, or does he run for re-election in the South Pinellas district, which is the district he currently represents?”
OBAMA HAS LEAD NATIONALLY, CNN POLL SHOWS
A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows President Obama with a three-point lead over Mitt Romney among registered voters nationwide, 49% to 46%.
The survey also indicates Americans are divided in the battle for Congress, with 48% saying they would back the Democrat in their congressional district and 45% saying they would support the Republican.
ROMNEY COULD NAME HIS VP EARLY
Reuters reports there “is at least a small chance” that Mitt Romney “might break with tradition and name his vice presidential choice earlier in the summer, according to people advising the campaign.”
“The tradition is to announce the No. 2 around the time of the convention to inspire grassroots activists and seek maximum publicity for the final two-month push to the November 6 election. But in this case, the Romney team has discussed whether to announce the pick a few weeks earlier to generate buzz for his campaign during August and help raise campaign funds.”
JEB BEGS ABC NEWS TO ACCEPT THAT HE WON’T BE A CANDIDATE FOR VP
Former Gov. Jeb Bush practically begged ABC News to accept that he will not be a candidate for vice president.
Said Bush: “It’s not in the cards for me. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this. I have been repeating it for the last two years. I’ve been pretty consistent.”
MORE JEB: Bush spoke to the U.S. House Budget Committee about his ideas for removing barriers to economic growth. Bush told the panel that he could support making $1o in spending cuts for every dollar of new revenue as part of a deficit-reduction deal, The Hill reported.
“If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have 10 dollars of spending cuts for one dollar of revenue enhancement – put me in coach,” The Hill quoted Bush as telling the House Budget Committee. “That would be wonderful. Let’s see it. That’d be spectacular.”
But Bush’s comments drew a rebuke from Grover Norquist, who has persuaded many Republican lawmakers to sign anti-tax pledges. Here is a link to the Hill story and link to his prepared remarks are here.
LAMEST OPENING TO A COLUMN ABOUT THE VEEPSTAKES: “Despite having enough baggage to make him look like a suitcase manufacturer, Marco Rubio…” – from Chris Ingram in the Tampa Tribune.
THE SUNSHINE STATE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES — AT LEAST TWICE
Two must-reads in the New York Times about the Sunshine State. First is columnist Charles Blow’s lamenting the state of Florida’s efforts to “in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities.” Second is a blog post from Paul Krugman detailing how “Florida received what amounted to an annual transfer from Washington of $31 billion plus, or more than 4 percent of state GDP.”
READ my add-on to Blow’s commentary about how the state of Florida, in addition to celebrating ‘Jefferson Davis Day’, also recognizes Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee Day.
Whistle ‘Dixie’ with this TWEET OF THE DAY: @MarcACaputo: C’mon, @KirkPepper, all FL ‘celebrates’ Jeff Davis day w/white bed-sheet parades, moonshine, chewin tabaccah & rebel yells
“FLA DEMS HOLD CONVENTION IN TAMPA AND IT WAS SORTA SAD”
That’s Adam Smith’s description of the convergence of Florida Democrats to elect delegates to the national convention in Charlotte, N.C. Sept. 2.
“Given the state of the party in Florida these days, it’s probably unavoidable that even when they try to hold an upbeat event, it can come off as a downbeat reminder that the party represents yesterday far more than today in Florida,” writes Smith.
I, myself, had planned on covering this event, but I decided to go a pool party instead.
STORY WRITTEN SOLELY TO BOOST ONLINE TRAFFIC: “Strippers target RNC audience.“
WINNER AND LOSER OF THE WEEK IN FLORIDA POLITICS
Smith’s choices for Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics are both rather uninspired. He names Tom Lee the winner of the week because his campaign was endorsed by Senate President Don Gaetz. Did anyone expect Gaetz to endorse firebrand Rachel Burgin? Smith’s loser of the week is Keith Fitzgerald, a former state representative challenging Vern Buchanan for his congressional seat. Fitzgerald’s problem? Buchanan reserved $4 million in TV airtime for his campaign. No one expected Buchanan to go out without spending a lot of (presumably his own) money on his campaign.
APPOINTED: Donald H. Mason, of Punta Gorda, to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court.
UNKNOWN DRUG-DISPENSING COMPANY BECOMES TOP CAPITOL PIGGY BANK by Aaron DeSlatte of the Orlando Sentinel.
“It’s a fight between Capitol insiders with pocketbook implications for thousands of injured workers, a battle between doctors selling marked-up medications and insurers trying to protect their bottom lines,” writes Deslatte.
… “On one side are workers’-compensation insurers, corporate-interest groups representing major employers, and pharmacy-benefit distributors that largely control the billon-dollar market for prescription drugs in Florida. On the other side: Automated Health Care Solutions, a little-known Broward-based company that has created a niche by selling physicians the software they use to dispense drugs from their offices — and has invested nearly $6 million into lobbying and campaign checks to protect its business model.”
Runner-up for best reason why Deslatte’s story is must-read material: The paragraphs where college professor Mike Haridopolos describes the clash as “Madisonian.”
Best reason why Deslatte’s story is must-read material: The irony of Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson “(hoping) we’re not entering an era where whoever writes the biggest check moves to the front of the line.”
LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND
Off: Renai Farmer, staff director of the Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee
On: Farmer, who is now a legislative analyst in the Minority Office
On: Claude Hendon, who is replacing Farmer as staff director at CFEA
On: Rep. Daphne Campbell’s new legislative assistant is Nadlie Charles
Off-and-on: Rep. Lori Berman’s district secretary Jennifer Gurland has been replaced by Victoria Winslett
ICYMI: REP. JEFF BRANDES FILES FOR STATE SENATE SEAT
Setting up a primary battle, Rep. Jeff Brandes filed paperwork Friday to run for the state Senate. Brandes will run in District 22, which includes most of southern Pinellas County and parts of eastern Hillsborough County. The decision could set up an Aug. 14 primary fight against Rep. Jim Frishe or Sen. Jack Latvala. It also might play into a behind-the-scenes contest between Latvala and John Thrasher, who are widely believed to be trying to line up support to become Senate president in 2016. Frishe, who has planned to run in District 22, supports Latvala, while Brandes could back Thrasher.
DON GAETZ BACKS TOM LEE FOR EAST HILLSBOROUGH STATE SENATE SEAT
Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz on Friday put his clout and potential financial backing behind Republican Tom Lee’s bid to win the Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Ronda Storms. Lee, a former Senate president, faces fellow Republican Rep. Rachel Burgin. As an incoming Senate president, Gaetz brings significant fundraising and “star power” to Lee’s campaign. It also creates a not-so-subtle hint to Burgin to reconsider her bid and instead be content, for now, with a return to the House. Interested parties should know soon enough as the qualifying period begins Monday and runs through Friday. Gaetz said Lee’s long legislative resume, including a two-year stint as the chamber’s leader, makes him a logical successor to Storms. “Tom Lee will be a leader in the Florida Senate the moment he walks on the floor,” Gaetz said in a statement.
REP. SHAWN HARRISON DRAWS POSSIBLY STRONG DEM CHALLENGER IN DISTRICT 63
Democrat Z.J. Hafeez filed to run in House District 63 against Republican incumbent Shawn Harrison.
Hafeez unsuccessfully ran in the 2010 for House District 67. pulling $142,000 in his previous race. This time he is running in a district that is a lot mor eethnically diverse and tolerant than the seat he ran for in 2010.
>>>Janet Adkins has the support of JAXBIZ, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s PAC, for her re-election campaign.
>>>Atlantic Beach Mayor Mike Borno announced his endorsement of Mike Weinstein for the Florida State Senate.
>>>Rep. John Legg announced the backing of several Pasco County leaders in his bid for Senate District 17. Legg said he had the endorsement of Sen. Mike Fasano and Reps. Richard Corcoran and Rob Schenck, as well as several local officials.
>>>Matt Lettelleir is going to work for John Legg’s State Senate campaign.
TAMPA BAY TIMES IN TROUBLE?
“The renowned Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg is turning to new funding options as officials acknowledge their traditional source, the Tampa Bay Times, can no longer finance its parent organization,” reports Richard Mullins of rival Tampa Tribune.
The nonprofit Poynter Institute is recruiting new philanthropy experts, launching a massive fund-raising drive and exploring land sales as financial support from the St. Petersburg-based newspaper is “no longer viable.”
SPOTTED: BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith enjoying a cocktail at St. Petersburg’s Bella Brava with PolitiFact’s Bill Adair.
EMAILS I DIDN’T OPEN: From email@example.com
HAPPY BIRTHDAY (and we miss you) to: Former State Rep. Holly Benson