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Sunburn for 5.10.16 – Who are the rising stars of Florida politics?

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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, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.


Call them the rising stars, the young guns, or the next generation of Florida’s political class.

But whatever you do, don’t call them under-achievers.

The 2016 class of “30 under 30” is involved in every aspect of Florida’s political world. They are fundraisers and lobbyists; public relations executives and legislative staffers. Their resumes are extensive; and in 10 years, they’ll be running Florida — if not the world.

It’s hard to believe they are only a few years removed from the classroom.

Take Dustin Daniels, for example. He was the Florida State University student body president in 2011. Now the 27-year-old is the chief of staff for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is widely regarded as the shining star of the Florida Democratic Party.

Not impressed yet? Check out Claire Van Susteren’s resume. She worked for Sachs Media Group, before moving joining the Lauren’s Kids Foundation as its communication director. The 26-year-old helped organize the annual walk across the state, put together a TED talk at Oxford, organized a halftime presentation at a Miami Heat game, and coordinate the advance premier a documentary featuring Lauren and Ron Book at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The list doesn’t stop there. There’s Hillary Clinton’s finance team; and the men and women running legislative campaigns across the state.

These are the people keep the trains running on time, the movers and shakers, the best and brightest.

Each year, Florida Politics receives hundreds of nominations from across the state for the behind-the-scenes champions of in the political world. But, just like in years past, we can only pick 30 names.

Beginning today on, the 2016 class of Rising Stars of Florida Politics will be revealed.

Follow the list here.

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A 48 – 35 percent lead among women gives Hillary Clinton an overall score of 43 percent. Donald Trump’s 49 – 36 percent lead among men gives him 42 percent of all voters.

Independent voters are divided 39 – 39 percent. White voters go Republican 52 – 33 percent, while non-white voters go Democratic 63 – 20 percent. Voters 18 to 34 years old back Clinton 49 – 27 percent, while voters over 65 years old back Trump 50 – 37 percent.

Clinton and Trump each get a negative 37 – 57 percent favorability rating.

Florida voters say 54 – 40 percent that Trump would do a better job than Clinton handling the economy, and say 49 – 43 percent that he would be better on terrorism.

Voters say 52 – 38 percent that Clinton is more intelligent than Trump and 46 – 41 percent that she has higher moral standards. Clinton has the temperament to handle an international crisis, Florida voters say 54 – 44 percent. Trump does not, voters say 62 – 34 percent.

Florida voters support 77 – 20 percent, including 60 – 36 percent among Democrats, requiring voters to show photo ID.

Illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for citizenship, 57 percent of voters say, while 11 percent say they can stay but not apply for citizenship and 25 percent say they should be required to leave the U.S.

Florida voters split 48 – 48 percent on whether the U.S. should build a wall along the Mexican border. Men support the wall 54 – 44 percent, with women opposed 52 – 43 percent. White voters want a wall 55 – 41 percent, with non-white voters opposed 65 – 31 percent.

“Republicans’ weakness among minority voters is well known. But the reason this race is so close overall is Clinton’s historic weakness among white men. In Florida, she is getting just 25 percent from white men,” Brown said.

MARCO RUBIO: I DO NOT WANT TO BE TRUMP’S VICE PRESIDENT via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – In a statement to CNN – sent straight from his iPhone – Rubio wrote that “I have never sought, will not seek and do not want to be considered for vice president.” He added that he still had issues with Trump, the expected Republican presidential nominee after Ted Cruz and John Kasichdropped out last week after Trump’s victory in the Indiana primary. “While Republican voters have chosen Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, my previously stated reservations about his campaign and concerns with many of his policies remain unchanged … Instead, I will focus my attention on representing the people of Florida, retaining a conservative majority in the Senate and electing principled conservatives across the country.”

OUTSIDE GROUPS SPENT $30M AGAINST TRUMP IN FLORIDA SO FAR IN 2016 via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The 30-second spot hit Republican presidential front-runner Trump as a false tough guy. It was part of $9 million in negative advertising aired by conservative group Club for Growth in Florida so far in 2016 … Overall, third-party groups have so far spent nearly $40 million supporting or opposing presidential candidates in Florida in 2016. A vast majority of that — $28 million — was spent to oppose Trump. Most of that came just during the weeks leading up to Florida’s March 15 primary. To put in context the nearly $30 million spent against Trump over a few weeks, a super PAC backing Hillary Clinton has said it will be spending $91 million on ads during the general election. That amount will be spent over 22 weeks in seven different states, including Florida.

HOW TRUMP HELPS DEMOCRATS IN FLORIDA SENATE RACE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, the Cook Political Report has switched Florida’s U.S. Senate race from a toss-up to “leans D.” “Although we remain convinced that Hillary Clinton is very vulnerable and would probably lose to most other Republicans, Donald Trump’s historic unpopularity with wide swaths of the electorate … make him the initial November underdog,” read the group’s updated rankings.

PATRICK MURPHY ENDORSED BY SEIU via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) … represents over 55,000 health care professionals, public employees and property service workers in Florida and has 2.1 million members nationwide. The group praised Murphy for his support of a $15-per-hour minimum wage and his desire to increase access to affordable health care. “Congressman Murphy is well prepared to serve as our U.S. Sen. and has earned the support of SEIU Florida members across the state by aggressively fighting for policy solutions that are important to Florida’s working families,” SEIU Florida president Monica Russo said in a statement. “We support candidates who are willing to be a champion and a voice for working-class families who are sick and tired of being pushed aside. Patrick Murphy is one of those candidates,” Russo added in the SEIU statement, which did not mention Murphy’s Democratic competitor, [AlanGrayson.

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Republican Todd Wilcox will be in Orlando and Tampa.

DEMOCRATS POSITIVE THEY WILL FIND A CHALLENGER TO JOHN MICA via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – As of now, Mica has no Democratic opponent. And time is running out. District 7 has now changed from Republican-leaning to a toss-up. The new district essentially split 50/50 between President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, while barely choosing Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014, 50.5 to 49.5 percent, according to the state. Among active registered voters, 36.5 percent are Republicans and 35.3 percent are Democrats. The deadline for candidates to qualify is June 24, but Democrats are positive that they will find a challenger by then — and possibly one already running in another district. Four Democrats are running against no Republican opposition in District 10, while six have filed to run in District 9. “We’re working on it,” said Orange County Democratic Chair Juan Lopez. “It’s a lot easier for us for someone who has money already raised to move over [to District 7] instead of recruiting somebody. Talks are being done.”

TEA PARTY PATRIOTS CITIZENS FUND ENDORSES MARY THOMAS FOR CD 2 via Press release – “Thomas – a first generation American, attorney, and mother – is a strong constitutional conservative, determined to make her mark on behalf of her constituents and the values we share,” says TPPCF Chair Jenny Beth Martin in a statement. “Even before winning election – she’s never held office before – she was showing her courage: She opposed John Boehner as Speaker before he resigned in October 2015. That kind of courage will help her fight for her constituents in a GOP Conference that is still too prone to doing the Leadership’s bidding.”

POLL: DWIGHT BULLARD COULD FACE TOUGH PRIMARY OPPONENT IN ANA RIVAS LOGAN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – According to a Public Policy Polling survey of voters in Senate District 40 … Rivas Logan would defeat Bullard by 20 points in the August primary. The survey found 44 percent of respondents said they would support Rivas Logan, while 24 percent said they would back Bullard. One-third of Democrats polled said they did not know who they would support in a primary match-up. The survey found Rivas Logan fares better than Bullard in most demographics, including women, Hispanic voters and all age groups. In a head-to-head match-up between Rivas Logan and [FrankArtiles, the survey found 39 percent of voters said they would support Rivas Logan, while 34 percent picked Artiles. The survey found 27 percent said they were unsure who they would support. Bullard also comes out of top in a head-to-head match-up with Artiles, albeit a much closer race.

TAMPA BAY RAYS MAKE NEW DONATIONS TO JACK LATVALA via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – For the first time this year, and the second time since 2014, Tampa Bay Rays Baseball, Ltd, made a donation to a political committee run by influential State Sen. Jack Latvala …  the Rays gave $5,000 in the closing days of April to a political committee Latvala runs called the Florida Leadership Committee … Latvala will be the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee next year. Latvala said the donation is “fairly routine and benign” and not really a signal of anything in the works in Tallahassee that would affect the Rays. A bill Latvala helped pass two years ago created a structure for sports teams to prove their economic benefits in order to qualify for state funding –  up to $3 million a year for 30 years. But since then, no funding has been dedicated for any stadiums … “It’s kind of out of my hands,” Latvala said.

— “Democrat Rod Smith raises more than $171K in April” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

— “Dana Young raises more than $53K in April in bid for SD 18 seat” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Doug Holder nets another $120K in April for SD 23 race” via Florida Politics

— “Anitere Flores gets backing of Florida professional firefighters Association” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

— “HD 11 Republicans Donnie Horner, Barry Holloway underwhelm in April fundraising” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “HD 16 Republican Dick Kravitz posts strong April numbers” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Bob Cortes raises $12K in April for HD 30 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “Bob Rommel raises more than $20K in April for HD 106 campaign” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

KEN KEECHL BLOWS OUT GEORGE MORAITIS IN APRIL HD 93 FUNDRAISING via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Wilton Manors Democrat Keechl may stand to gain from a negative “Donald Trump effect” against a Republican incumbent in deep-blue Broward, but apparently he isn’t taking any chances. Keechl is challenging third-term Pompano Beach state Rep. George Moraitis in moderate, coastal House District 93. Keechl took in $21,198 during the April reporting period while Moraitis raised just $3,700 … Keechl also spent just $139 to Moraitis’ $5,548, stretching Keechl’s net fundraising advantage to about $23,000 for April.

STATE HOUSE SEATS MOST LIKELY TO FLIP via Steve Schale for Florida Politics – This is how I see these races today … Likelihood to flip from one party to the other … 10 being the least likely, to 1 being the most likely. 10. HD 68 (Dudley Open): Dwight Dudley‘s surprise decision to retire from the House has created an open seat in traditionally one of the top battleground districts in Florida. 9. HD 72 (Pilon Open): If Ray Pilon had run for re-election, this would be an honorable mention, but now that it is an open seat, it makes the first round of rankings. 8. HD 69 (Peters Challenge): This is one of the “swingiest” of seats in one of the swingiest of counties (Pinellas), now held by Kathleen Peters. 7. HD 120 ([HollyRaschein Challenge): Two reasons this race makes the list: the district’s historical performance, and the problems Trump creates for all Republicans in South Florida. 6. HD 47 ([MikeMiller Challenge): Like HD 30 — which isn’t even on the list at this point, this seat should be further up the list for Dems. 5. HD 59 (Spano Challenge): Ross Spano‘s opponent, Rena Frazier, is flat out one of the better recruits the Dems have had in years. 4. HD 63 ([ShawnHarrison Challenge): On paper, of the two GOP-held swing seats in Hillsborough, this one is definitely more favorable to the Democrats. 3. HD 103 (Diaz Challenge): I don’t think there is a single Republican incumbent in the State House more hurt by Trump than Manny Diaz Jr., who is legitimately one of the nicest guys in town. 2. HD 114 ([ErikFresen Open): Always one of the better opportunities for Democrats, this open seat has quickly rocketed to the top, now that it is all but sure that Trump will be the GOP nominee. 1. HD 49 (Coach P Open). With all due respect to Rene Plasencia … The perfect Republican in this lean-Democratic seat, and who ran a near perfect campaign — this is not a seat the Democrats should have lost, even in 2014.

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APPEALS COURT TO CONSIDER TEACHERS’ LAWSUIT OVER TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – … will hear oral arguments in the next phase of a high-profile and controversial lawsuit challenging a voucher-like scholarship program that helps poor children attend private school in Florida. But the merits of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program won’t be argued just yet. First to be resolved is whether the state’s largest teachers’ union and other plaintiffs even have the right to make their case that it’s unconstitutional. The Florida Education Association and its allies want the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee to overturn a Leon County judge’s ruling from almost a year ago that tossed the lawsuit. Circuit Judge George Reynolds III ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t have legal standing to bring the case.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida African-American Ministers Alliance for Parental Choice (FAAMAPC) will deliver a petition calling the Florida chapter of the NAACP to drop its support of the lawsuit against the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Speakers include Elder Kenneth Duke Sr. of New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church in Miami; Reverend R.B. Holmes, pastor of the Bethel Ministry Baptist Church in Tallahassee; Cheryl Joseph, mom of scholarship student; Dr. Howard Fuller, former Superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools and founder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). Event begins 11 a.m. at the Florida press Center, 336 East College Avenue; First Floor, in Tallahassee.

MIAMI-DADE JUDGE: NEW DEATH PENALTY LAW IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch held that the need for only 10 out of 12 jurors to recommend execution under the new law doesn’t meet the constitutional requirement for unanimous jury verdicts. The ruling came in the case of Karon Gaiter, who is charged with first degree murder, and could further complicate the legal quandary created when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s death sentencing system in January. Now the Florida Supreme Court is grappling with how to handle the state’s nearly 400 death row inmates. Gov. Scott signed the new law Hirsch found unconstitutional in March, but legal scholars had warned during committee hearings that the lack of a unanimity requirement in sentencing would likely lead to further litigation and exposes the state to the risk of the law being found unconstitutional again.

OIL COMPANY GETS GREEN LIGHT TO SURVEY IN FLORIDA PRESERVE via The Associated Press – The National Park Service has given the green light for a Texas company to explore for oil and gas in the Big Cypress National Preserve … a 20-month environmental review showed there would be no significant impact if Burnett Oil Company did a survey 110 square miles in the national preserve. The survey will use sound waves from truck-mounted vibrators to create three-dimensional map of potential oil and gas reserves. The park service says If Burnett Oil finds something that it wants to pursue, the company would have to submit a new plan of operations, and that would require another environmental review.

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TODAY’S POLICY NOTES via  Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

CABINET MEETS – The Cabinet and the governor meets to discuss state bonding in the 2017 fiscal year. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room at the Capitol.

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA AUDIT RESULTS – Enterprise Florida Inc. will receive the results of an audit that includes plans to cut $6 million from the agency’s budget.

POST-SESSION REVENUE REVIEW – The Revenue Estimating Impact Conference post-session meeting begins 1:30 p.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.

RICK SCOTT TO HONOR SURGEON GENERAL WHO LOST JOB via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – John Armstrong, the former state surgeon general who lost his job after the Senate did not confirm his appointment, will be honored by Scott. The governor will hold a reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee … Armstrong was one of the longest serving agency heads in the Scott administration, running the Department of Health from 2012 until March 11, the final day of the legislative session and the deadline for the Senate to confirm him. He previously was a medical officer at the University of South Florida and an Army surgeon. Interim Surgeon General Celeste Philip then hired him as deputy secretary for administration in DOH, but he has been taking a medical leave of absence as he battles colon cancer.

DCF PROMOTES TWO TO LEADERSHIP TEAM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – JoShonda Guerrier was named assistant secretary for the Office of Child Welfare and Jeri Flora Culley will become assistant secretary for economic self-sufficiency … The moves come in the wake of a 133-page internal review … showing how DCF employees reported feeling “unsupported,” “overwhelmed,” and “defeated.” The first challenge, the report suggests, is “the broader issue of role confusion among” the department’s child protective investigators, case managers and lawyers. In other words, each group doesn’t always know what its job is and isn’t. Guerrier has been director of Child Welfare Strategic Projects in DCF’s Office of Child Welfare since May 2014 … Guerrier and Culley are succeeded by the retirement of Janice Thomas and Jennifer Lange, respectively. Combined, Thomas and Lange served the department for more than 70 years.

DANA YOUNG, A REPUBLICAN FORCE IN FLORIDA via Elvina Nawaguna of Roll Call – The Senate District 18 candidate was as one of the nation’s 25 most influential women in state politics. Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, who tapped Young to serve as majority leader, attested to her leadership: “She has the ability to be firm in her principles while still being able to find compromise with other members.” She has sponsored more than 20 bills that became law. Mark Pafford, the Democratic Leader in the Florida House, said he disagrees with Young on many issues, but appreciates her willingness to talk with her colleagues across the aisle and help to create a collegial atmosphere.

MIKE HANSEN NAMED SENATE BUDGET STAFF DIRECTOR – Incoming Senate President Joe Negron tapped Hansen to honcho staff for the chamber’s Appropriations Committee, a spokeswoman said Monday. He’ll take the reins when Negron officially becomes president in November. Hansen, 63, had left state government to become president & CEO of the The Florida Council for Community Mental Health in Tallahassee. He served as Negron’s staff director when the Stuart Republican was Appropriations chair under former Senate President Don Gaetz. The nearly four-decade veteran of state government is considered a budgeting guru. He was Gov. Jeb Bush’s budget director and has been staff director of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee. Hansen also was Secretary of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.


Off and on: Maggie Mickler is no longer press secretary for the Senate Majority Leader’s office. She has become director of communications at the Department of Management Services.

On: LaQuisha Persak has become the new press secretary for the Senate Majority Leader’s office.

Off: Lindy Smith is no longer legislative assistant for Cape Canaveral Republican Sen. Thad Altman.

Off and on: Drew Aldikacti is no longer legislative assistant at Inverness Republican Sen. Charlie Dean‘s office, and has moved to Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala‘s office.

Off: Avery Coleman is no longer Latvala’s legislative assistant

On: Macey Smith is a new legislative assistant for Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano.

Off: Larry Ford is no longer legislative assistant for Senate Deputy Majority Leader Denise Grimsley.

Off: Maria Nieto is no longer legislative assistant for Tampa Democratic Sen. Arthenia Joyner.

Off: Daniel Bruno is no longer legislative assistant for Miami Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis.

Off: Bret Prater is no longer deputy chief of staff in the House Speaker’s Office.

Off: Gail Lolley is no longer legislative analyst for the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Off: Ryan Cox is no longer an attorney for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

Off: Lara Medley is no longer legislative assistant for Lakeland Republican Rep. Colleen Burton.

On: Erik Silveira is the new district secretary for Coconut Creek Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs.

Off: Milan Thompson is no longer district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Mia Jones.

Off: David Shane is no longer legislative assistant for Palm Springs Democratic Rep. Dave Kerner.

On: Marion Dozier is the new legislative assistant for West Palm Beach Democratic Rep. Bobby Powell.

On: Elizabeth Bolles became the district secretary for Sarasota Republican Rep. Greg Steube.

On: Adam Miller is the new legislative assistant for Melbourne Beach Republican Rep. John Tobia.

Off: Macey Smith is no longer Tobia’s legislative assistant.

GRAYROBINSON SNAGS MIAMI CITY COMMISSIONER FRANCIS X. SUAREZ – The commissioner, an attorney in Miami, started officially on Monday. He will be “of counsel,” meaning he will work on a case-to-case basis and not as an associate or partner. He comes to GrayRobinson from Alvarez & Barbara, where he handled corporate and real estate transactions. He’s been a City of Miami Commissioner for the past six years, having been elected in 2009. He’s a Miami native and attended La Salle High School, where he was in student government and on the Student Council. Later, he majored in finance at Florida International University, where he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class. He then graduated “cum laude” from the University of Florida law school. He has served on a number of civic boards: The Orange Bowl Restoration Committee, the Coral Gate Home Owners Association, the Miami Behavioral Center, Inc. and Spectrum Programs Inc., an organization that helps troubled young people. He currently also serves as Vice-Chair of the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization and as President of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities.


Travis BlantonJon JohnsonDarrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Central Florida Urban League; Florida Association of Food Banks

Ellyn Bogdanoff, EBS Consulting: Broward Principals and Administrative Assistants

Angela Rae Morrison, Berger Singerman: Titan America

Willard Payne Jr., Northern Florida Recruiting & Consulting: Jacksonville Aviation Authority

SPOTTED: LGBT activist Michael Rajner on Joy Reid’s MSNBC segment discussing HIV/AIDS and the 2016 election.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the one and only Ryan Wiggins.

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.

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