Sunburn for 5/12 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***

DEADLINE IS TUESDAY TO SUBMIT NOMINATIONS FOR FLORIDA’S BRIGHTEST POLITICAL MINDS SERIES

In the past, SaintPetersBlog has featured the 30-under-30 Rising Stars of Florida politicsthe “Best” Lobbyists in Tallahassee, and the 25 Most Powerful Politicians in Tampa Bay. In two weeks, we’re launching our next series: The Brightest Minds in Florida politics.

This week-long series will profile approximately 25 of the smartest people devoted to campaigns and elections. From veteran operators like The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Marian Johnson to up-and-comers like Associated Industries of Florida’s Ryan Tyson, from Republicans such as Frank Terrafirma to Democrats like Steve Vancore, this will be the definitive list of the big thinkers in electoral politics.

Your nominations are welcomed, but be warned: there is serious competition for one of the spots on this list. Being the hot young thing after winning a single legislative race doesn’t get one close to making the list. This is for the political consultants, analysts, creative types and operators who win election cycle after election cycle.

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SEN. MARCO RUBIO TESTS PRESIDENTIAL HYPE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio was doing the New Hampshire thing, working the room in a blur of handshakes, hellos and small talk. He posed for cell phone pictures and signed autographs. Then he took the stage for a 37-minute speech that ended with a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd of more than 300 Republicans.

Make no mistake, Rubio is testing a run for president.

The Floridian Republican’s visit to the nation’s first primary state underscored eagerness to plant his flag amid an emerging field of possible GOP contenders in 2016. A year ago, he was embroiled in a divisive debate over immigration, imperiled by a conservative base that saw him as an amnesty-backing traitor.

It was Rubio’s first visit to the Granite State in nearly two years, part of a calculated effort to tamp down presidential speculation and scrutiny, which conveniently dovetailed with the blowup over immigration. Rubio has turned down about 100 invites in early nominating states, but now sees a need to assert himself. New Hampshire has been paid recent visits by Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, among others. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush hasn’t visited, but he has shot to the front of national polls. Rubio’s numbers, by contrast, have cooled over the past year.

Rubio, who has not said whether he’ll seek the presidency or run for another Senate term, may be the best communicator of the lot, with a rhetorical grace and optimism.

Amid the glowing reception were quieter reservations — about Rubio’s experience and his role in crafting the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for up to 11 million illegal immigrants.

Rubio has spent the past year focused on anything but immigration, wading into policy at an almost frenetic pace, from college affordability to federal wage subsidies for the poor. On Tuesday, he’ll propose “retirement security” reforms in a speech in Washington.

Tension abroad has provided an opportunity to sharpen his foreign policy credentials, and position himself to the right of fellow Republicans such as Paul, who have called for less military engagement around the world and cuts to the defense budget. Public opinion tilts toward Paul’s side but the Republican base aligns with Rubio, which has the added benefit of leveling out his immigration problem.

HOW RUBIO’S NH TRIP PLAYED

Fox News Latino, Marco Rubio Stumps In New Hampshire; Calls Out Obama & ‘Big Business’ – The freshman senator from Florida delivered his remarks at a Rockingham County fundraiser in New Castle, N.H., the county has the largest population of Republicans in the state… C-SPAN, Senator Marco Rubio in New Hampshire – talked about his vision of the “American dream” and how the Democratic Party was threatening it… Tampa Bay Times, Sen. Marco Rubio travels to New Hampshire, stoking 2016 speculation – Though Rubio hasn’t been to New Hampshire in about two years, GOP leaders say the field is as wide open as it has been in decades… Florida Times-Union, Marco Rubio disses Democrats in New Hampshire, a sign of interest in presidential election – Reaffirming his national political ambitions, Sen. Marco Rubio accused Democrats on Friday of threatening the American dream as he campaigned across New Hampshire… ABC News, Sen. Marco Rubio: Yes, I’m Ready to be President – He’s a 42-year-old freshman senator, but when asked by Jonathan Karl on “This Week” if he’s ready to be president, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida answered without hesitation… Boston Herald, Rubio: Democrats threaten American dream – The Florida Republican also jabbed at former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered the overwhelming favorite to win the next Democratic presidential nomination if she chooses to run… The Hill, Rubio jabs Obama, Clinton in NH – Rubio took a dive in 2016 GOP primary polls after backing immigration reform…  Wall Street JournalPresidential Hopeful Emphasizes Confrontational Approach to Foreign Policy – Sen. Marco Rubio, nearly a year after his immigration-overhaul push hurt his standing among conservatives, has remade himself into a top spokesman among 2016 presidential hopefuls for a muscular U.S. foreign policy.

RUBIO ON A PRESIDENTIAL BID, AND CLIMATE CHANGE via Emmarie Huetteman of the New York Times

On Sunday, Rubio said he was ready to be president, becoming the second potential Republican candidate recently to drop big hints about 2016 as he vies for early attention in a crowded field of maybes.

Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week” that while he was waiting until the end of the year to consider the decision, he thought he had a “vision” for the nation’s future and a strategy for achieving it, among other qualifications that he said he shared with other potential candidates.

“I do,” he said when asked whether he thought he was ready for the presidency. “I mean, but I think that’s true for multiple other people that would want to run.”

Rubio’s assertion came a week after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas offered perhaps his clearest indication yet that he was considering another run, talking about his “botched” campaign in 2012 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and emphasizing that Americans believe in “second chances.”

With Rubio and Perry trailing other potential candidates like Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, in recent polls, the remarks could be interpreted as a (very) early attempt to stand out in a field where there is no front-runner.

After the Obama administration’s release of a recent study saying that the effects of climate change were already being felt, Mr. Rubio said he disagreed with scientists that humans were having an effect on the “always evolving” climate.

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said. “And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”

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FROM CHAIN GAING CHARLIE TO CHANGELING CHARLIE, CRIST STAYS AHEAD OF POLITICAL FLIP FLOPS via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

“Chain Gang Charlie” once loved that nickname; it showed he was tough on crime.

That, however, was before Crist left the Republican Party. Before he was an independent. Before he became a Democrat, a party with a significant number of black voters more apt to be troubled by images of shackled labor.

Over the years, along with his party-affiliation changes, Crist’s policy positions have zigzagged, flipped and whirled. He’s no longer Chain Gang Charlie.

Now, as ever, he’s Changeling Charlie.

Last week, the frontrunner for governor hit the trifecta of metamorphosis on three consecutive days — reinventing positions on his own reinventions (Monday), race in the GOP (Tuesday) and Cuba travel (Wednesday).

Conventional wisdom holds that modern-day party-switchers are doomed. Yet Crist leads Nan Rich and Gov. Scott in polls.

That popularity — coupled with inflammatory rhetoric and a knack for stealing headlines and TV-news broadcast time — outrages many Republicans nowadays.

Crist’s high approval ratings are partly rooted in an irony: His reversals are consistent. Crist invariably moves toward popular positions, making many voters feel as if he’s on their side. That also enables him to contrast his penchant for bending to popular will with what he implies is the rigid ideology of Scott and GOP hardliners.

“If you take in new data, and new circumstances, and you don’t modify, you’re a fool,” Crist said. “And if you have new data or new attitudes and new experiences and open your eyes to a different point of view, then an enlightened man or woman does so.”

SCOTT, CRIST CONTINUE TO WAGE CAMPAIGN WAR IN TAMPA BAY via William March of the Tampa Tribune

Scott spoke to the annual fundraising dinner of the Hillsborough County Republican Party, a county where he’s been campaigning and making official appearances obsessively, and Crist will speak to a fundraising dinner for the Pinellas county Democratic Party tonight.

The governor gave only a brief talk before heading out to a fundraising event at the home of St. Petersburg developer and Republican mega-fundraiser Mel Sembler, at which former Vice President Dick Cheney was to make an appearance, according to party insiders.

Scott focused on two of his top campaign themes — bashing Crist because of the state of the economy during Crist’s term as governor, and telling the story of his own financially strapped upbringing.

Scott was clearly comfortable in front of a friendly Republican crowd and seemed a more relaxed and engaging speaker than he has been in the past. Stepping out from behind the podium, he spoke without notes, gesturing and telling anecdotes.

County party chair and state Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon said the event drew about 400 people and raised around $200,000 for the local party.

MEANWHILE … BLAISE IGNOGLIA SAVES THE DAY AT THE LDD via William March of theTampa Tribune

A problem cropped up at the Hillsborough County’s Lincoln Day fundraising dinner … When U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross got up on the stage to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, he turned to his right to face the flag – and there wasn’t one.

Political gatherings like this one are typically almost covered in flags and other patriotic gear, usually including an American flag carried in by an honor guard. Someone apparently goofed in this case, even though it was a major event, with two Cabinet members, various Congress members and many other dignitaries attending to see Scott, who’s just now kicking his re-election campaign into high gear.

Ross and Lee dithered for a moment on stage until the problem was solved by … state House candidate Blaise Ingoglia, who came up on stage holding a smart phone with a picture of a flag on the screen, to which the crowd of about 400 Republican donors, dignitaries and activists pledged allegiance.

CRIST BLASTS INTO FRAY; LABELS SCOTT ‘A FRAUD’ via William March of the Tampa Tribune

Completing a weekend that kicked off the governor’s race in the crucial Tampa Bay area, Crist roused a crowd of Democrats on his home turf in Pinellas County by telling them Gov. Scott is “a fraud.”

Crist spoke to the premier annual fundraising event of the Democratic Party of Pinellas County, his home turf, as friendly a crowd as he’ll see on the campaign trail.

The appearance followed one by Scott at a Hillsborough County Republican Party dinner, as the two begin a battle for what may be the most crucial political area in the coming election, the Tampa Bay area, a swing-voting swath of Central Florida that’s also the state’s largest media market.

But while Scott has been coming to Tampa on a more-than-weekly basis, Crist has been concentrating on South Florida, where he needs a big turnout from the state’s largest cache of Democrats, making comparatively few appearances here.

Opening his speech, Crist told the crowd, “I’m going to litigate Rick Scott.”

He began with what apparently will be a staple of his campaign, the Medicare fraud investigation of the hospital chain Scott headed in the 1990s, Columbia/HCA, which led to a $1.7 billion fine, the nation’s largest to that date.

CHECK OUT THE (INDIRECTLY) ANTI-CRIST MAILER from Progressive Choice featuring Buddy McKay here.

CRIST IS ADAM SMITH’S WINNER AND LOSER OF THE WEEK IN FLORIDA POLITICS here.

TWO MUST-READ COLUMNS …

CARL HIAASEN: SCOTT TAKES DEEP DIVE INTO CLIMATE CHANGE via the Miami Herald

(Rejected first draft of Gov. Rick Scott’s position on climate change).

My fellow Floridians, as you’ve all probably heard, a new National Climate Assessment report says that Florida is seriously threatened by rising sea levels, mass flooding, salt-contaminated water supplies and increasingly severe weather events — all supposedly caused by climate change.

Let me assure you there’s absolutely no reason for worry. I still don’t believe climate change is real, and you shouldn’t, either.

Don’t be impressed just because 240 “experts” contributed to this melodramatic report. The tea party has experts, too, and they assure me it’s all hogwash.

Even if the atmosphere is warming (and, whoa, I’m not saying it is!), I still haven’t seen a speck of solid evidence that it has anything do with man spewing millions of tons of gaseous pollutants into the sky.

Is the planet a hotter place than it was 200 years ago? Yes, but only by a couple of degrees. Did most of the temperature rise occur since 1970? Yes, but don’t blame coal-burning plants or auto emissions.

Maybe the sun is getting closer to the Earth. Ever think of that? Or the Earth is moving closer to the sun? Let’s get some brainiacs to investigate that possibility!

As long as I’m the governor, Florida isn’t going to punish any industries by imposing so-called “clean air” regulations that limit carbon emissions.

JOHN ROMANO: GOV. SCOTT AGAIN REFUSES TO LET GO OF A FLAWED IDEA via the Tampa Bay Times

Forgive the governor, he just can’t help himself.

He loves this airbrushed image of a crusader. A righter of wrongs. A guy unafraid to kick some butt, even if his aim is consistently off.

This might explain why Rick Scott refuses to let go of this plan to drug-test welfare recipients, even if it has virtually no chance of surviving judicial inspection.

Now, to be fair, there is a certain “Hell yeah!” quality to this issue that appeals to a lot of good folks. Should residents receiving government assistance be spending money on drugs? Of course not. Should people searching for a job be getting high? Of course not. Should the government crack down on any abuses in the welfare system? Absolutely.

So if many of us agree on that, what’s the problem with drug testing?

Well, to start with, there is no evidence this is a widespread problem.

And it unjustly demonizes people simply for being poor.

And it appears to cost more than it saves.

And it makes a mockery of the Constitution.

Other than that, it’s a swell idea.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: GOV. SCOTT, PLEASE VETO THE SPEED-LIMIT INCREASE BILL via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News

Somehow — doubtfully by the grace of God, but somehow — the bill that would allow a 5 mph speed-limit increase on some Florida roads now awaits the governor’s pleasure. Not imminently, but eventually.

SB 392 lurched from committee to committee with unanswered questions and bare-bones success every step of the way, then passed by a meager two votes on the House floor two days before sine die. Eight members didn’t vote.

Be honest. In a state that otherwise loads us up with safety precautions on the road, that keeps us strapped in seat belts, our kids in car seats, our bikers in motorcycle helmets, our blood alcohol at 0.08 or below, how is this bill not a complete farce?

No wonder a line is forming — led by the American Automobile Association and Rep. Irv Slosberg — to ask Gov. Rick Scott to strike down the law no agency asked for and apparently no agency wants.

AAA, FDOT, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Sheriffs Association, AARP — none of the above are asking for this. Nor could either bill sponsor, Republican Matt Caldwell in the House or Democrat Jeff Clemens in the Senate, where it had a smoother ride, explain why the bill is needed.

The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies reported in 2006 that increasing the speed limit from 55 to 65 in 1986 increased the probability of a fatal crash by 24 percent; advancing it from 65 to 75, the study said, would increase the likelihood by 12 percent.

Think of that for a moment. Those numbers were out there as the bill moved through both chambers; maybe all lawmakers weren’t listening — but maybe Gov. Scott will.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Scott will discuss hurricane preparedness and sign House Bill 5601 that creates a sales tax holiday for hurricane preparedness supplies. Orange County Convention Center—West Concourse, Room Number: W-303 C, 9800 International Drive, Orlando. 10 a.m.

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FLORIDA NEWSMAKERS Watch interview here

On this week’s “Florida NewsMakers” program, Secretary Ananth Prasad of the Florida Department of Transportation sits down with Sachs Media Group’s Michelle Ubben to discuss successes from the state’s 2014 legislative session.

As federal transportation funds dwindle, Prasad praised Florida lawmakers for making a historical investment in the state’s transportation needs. “$10.1 billion, that’s a record ever invested in transportation infrastructure in the state of Florida,” Prasad tells Ubben. When it comes to Legislature’s proposal to increase the speed limit by 5 mph on certain roads and highways, Prasad said safety will be the primary determining factor. “Generally our roads are not build to handle 75-80 miles an hour. Now people drive faster and there is that element of tolerance there but we will evaluate if we increase the speed limit, the geometry of the road, the road side barriers and hazards, is it capable of handling that and at the end of the day if it’s not safe, we will not raise the limit,” he says. Prasad also addresses emerging technology in today’s vehicles and the state’s new anti-littering campaign.

COURT FIGHT OVER NEW POLITICAL MAPS KICKS OFF via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

A court fight over Florida’s political landscape kicked off as attorneys for the Republican-controlled Legislature and groups suing them clashed over the question of whether legislators intended to thwart the will of voters when they drew new districts for congressional seats in 2012.

Lawsuits were first filed two years ago. The trial is scheduled to start later this month in a dispute that could ultimately change the current makeup of the state’s congressional delegation, where Republicans hold a sizable majority.

In an effort to speed up the 11-day, non-jury proceedings, both sides were allowed to give their opening statements.

David King, an attorney representing the League of Women Voters and other groups suing the state, told Judge Terry Lewis that legislators used a “shadow process” which allowed them to circumvent a constitutional mandate prohibiting legislators from drawing districts intended to protect incumbents or members of a certain political party.

King said evidence in the case will show that legislators were prodded by Republican consultants to increase the number of minority voters in the district represented by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, which stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando, in order to lessen the number of registered Democrats in other central Florida congressional seats.

“It was going to make a significant difference to these other central Florida districts,” said King, who said four districts that initially leaned Democratic wound up getting split between Republicans and Democrats in the 2012 elections.

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CHARLOTTE’S WEB MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL CREATES OPPORTUNITIES FOR HANDFUL OF GROWERS via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

Only 21 large, longtime Florida commercial plant growers will be allowed to compete for five state licenses to grow, process and sell medical marijuana products in Florida under the bill sitting on Gov. Scott’s desk.

The rules have family-owned landscaping growers wondering if they want to get into the pot field, while some would-be entrepreneurs complain they are being unfairly shut out by state-sanctioned, regional monopolies.

Under the new “Charlotte’s Web” bill, which Scott has said he would sign, Florida’s new medical-marijuana industry would be limited to horticultural growers that have been in business for at least 30 years, are already growing at least 400,000 plants and have the financial means to start up the new, highly regulated crop.

Those requirements were added to make sure any newly starting medical-marijuana business in Florida would involve time-tested companies. The Department of Agriculture reports that just 21 Florida companies meet the first two criteria. There are 7,001 nurseries registered in Florida.

Under Senate Bill 1030, the state Department of Health will issue one medical-marijuana license in each of five regions: southeast, southwest, central, northeast and northwest Florida. The licensees will have exclusive rights to grow, process and sell medical-marijuana products in those regions.

Statewide, almost all the qualified companies are family-owned and most have been so for generations, though a couple, including Costa, have grown into multi-national plant growers, said Ben Bolusky, chief executive officer of the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association.

So those families, he said, now are debating whether they want to get into a business they likely know little about, which could be very lucrative but also complicated by ethical concerns and stiff regulations.

MEDICAID EXPANSION UNLIKELY, STEUBE SAYS via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

No matter who wins the governor’s race later this year, expanding Medicaid in Florida is highly unlikely, two key state legislators say.

State Rep. Greg Steube said he sees little chance that the Florida House will consider taking more than $50 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid as part of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, regardless of the outcome of this fall’s gubernatorial election.

“My gut is that the House won’t address it,” Steube told more than 100 people at a Manatee Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Gov. Scott reversed course last year and suggested that the Legislature accept the federal money and expand the Medicaid program to offer coverage to an additional 1 million people. But lawmakers have refused during their last two sessions, including the one that ended last week.

The Senate passed a bill in 2013 to take the federal funds under a Florida-designed approach to caring for more Medicaid recipients. The House rejected that plan, and the two chambers remain far apart on the issue, though Republicans control majorities in both.

Scott and his likely Democratic challenger Charlie Crist have both supported expanding Medicaid, but Crist has blasted Scott on the campaign trail for not doing more to pressure lawmakers to get it done.

Steube also said he would resume the fight to reform the state’s beer and alcohol laws to assure small craft brewers can sell their products.

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND

On: Stephanie Clary has been hired as the district secretary for Rep. Jim Waldman.

Off: Kris Money, the deputy chief of staff for policy, is no longer with the Office of the Speaker.

On: Cedric McMinn is no longer the district secretary for Rep. Cynthia Stafford.

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SPOTTED: CD 2 congressional candidate Gwen Graham in ANOTHER glowing article from the Associated Press here.

CANDIDATE’S EDUCATIONAL RECORD LISTED ON WEBSITE IS DUBIOUS via Tampa Bay Times

Eduardo “Ed” Jany … is an ex-cop wounded in the line of duty. He’s a military officer with a Bronze Star and prestigious assignments. His education includes a degree in police administration and work at Harvard University.

But an examination of Jany’s credentials raises questions about how the 49-year-old Tampa resident and Marine Corps Reserve colonel has framed his biography.

Jany boasts a degree from Madison University, a school often described as a diploma mill without a campus or classes, but which Jany insists is a legitimate institution. In his online Linked­In resume, Jany lists a degree from the University of Minnesota, which he attended from 1982 to 1986.

And Jany will appear on the November ballot without a party affiliation, though he is a Democrat. Jany switched from being a Republican to Democrat on Oct. 2 out of frustration with the government shutdown, he said.

State law says candidates cannot run for a party nomination unless they have been a party member for a year.

Jany currently works as a director for Mutualink, a Connecticut firm providing communications and training services to police and military.

His bio on the firm’s webpage says Jany “attended the University of Minnesota, completing four years of baccalaureate and graduate level work in Latin American studies.”

NOT THE KIND OF HEADLINE A CANDIDATE WANTS TO READ ON A SUNDAY MORNING here.

POLL SHOWS DAVID JOLLY HOLDS WIDE LEAD OVER CHALLENGERS Full blog post here

Incumbent David Jolly holds a wide lead over challengers Ed Jany and Lucas Overby in SaintPetersBlog/St. Pete Polls’ first survey of the race for Congressional District 13.

In a ballot test that does not mention party affiliation, Jolly receives 50 percent, while Jany takes 21 percent and Overby gets 10 percent.

With Jolly described as a Republican, Overby as a Libertarian, and Jany as a Democrat running with No Party Affiliation, Jolly still receives 50 percent support, while Jany moves up to 30 percent and Overby gets 9 percent.

Jolly defeated Alex Sink in a special election for the CD 13 seat earlier this year.

Jany is running as an independent because of a 2011 state law that requires candidates for all offices to be registered with the party they are running under 365 days prior to qualifying.

This new survey by St. Pete Polls and commissioned by SaintPetersBlog shows that Jolly enjoys a +14 favorable rating.

Jolly holds that strong favorable rating and leads Jany in a poll that also finds 35 percent of CD 13 voters want Obamacare “left alone.” Thirty-three percent would like to see the Affordable Care Act repealed without replacement, while 29 percent would like to see it repealed with replacement.

U.S. REP. JOLLY TO HOLD MEET AND GREET

Jolly will hold a meet-and-greet event for Pinellas County residents. St. Petersburg Woman’s Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd., N.E., St. Petersburg. 4 p.m.

PATRICK MURPHY TOUTED BY U.S. CHAMBER

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy will receive a “Spirit of Enterprise” award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at two events. Florida Power & Light headquarters, 700 Universe Blvd., Juno Beach. 9 a.m.; Martin Downs Country Club, 3801 S.W. Greenwood Way, Palm City. 11:45 a.m.

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LANCE BLOCK MANAGING GEORGE SHELDON’S AG BID

Sheldon emails SaintPetersBlog: “Hi Peter. Sure, I’m doing it. I was George’s legislative aide in the late 70′s before I went to law school and I took a leave from law school and ran Pinellas county for George in his 1982 congressional race. He’s my friend and his public service record is stellar. He will make a great Attorney General.”

DANE EAGLE DRAWS SECOND OPPONENT IN HD 78 via Betty Parker of the News-Press

Cape Coral state Rep. Dane Eagle, who’s battling DUI charges, will soon have another Republican opponent in his re-election race.

Attorney Terry Bowen Cramer, who filed papers almost a year ago to run for the state House 79 seat held by Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, said he’ll run instead against Eagle in District 77.

Cramer said he initially filed for the east county House seat thinking that Caldwell would run for the state Senate. But now that Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto is seeking re-election to that post, Caldwell will also run for re-election to the House seat.

“I never intended to run against Matt,” Cramer said. “I think he’s done a really good job. But I still want to serve and I think I have something to offer, and the Cape Coral post seems like the best place.”

Eagle’s DUI controversy did not drive his decision, Cramer said, adding that he will not make judgments on that issue. “I’ll let the legal process play out and I wish him the best of luck,” he said.

Cramer, 30, said he rents a condo on the dividing line between the two districts, and that lease is up this summer. He’ll then move into the Cape’s District 77, he said.

Cramer has done little fundraising; he said he was waiting to see which seats incumbents pursued before getting too deep into the campaign.

Another Republican, Jim Roach — who switched from the Democratic Party almost a year ago — has been in the District 77 race for months.

FIREFIGHTERS ENDORSE CHRIS LATVALA FOR HD 67 Full blog post here

Florida Professional Firefighters announced their support of GOP hopeful Chris Latvala for House District 67, in an endorsement that holds special significance for the first-time candidate.

FPF CEO Jim Tolley commended Latvala for his willingness and ability to work for the citizens of Clearwater, Largo and Pinellas Park.

“We believe that you will honorably serve the citizens of Florida and the interests of the men and women employed in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services, who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work.”

Backing of the FPF has a particular meaning to Latvala, who said there were two firefighters having a profound impact on his life. The first was a friend and classmate named Kliff Kramer, who attended Terry Parker High School with Latvala in the class of 2000.

“He was one of the funniest people I have ever known and had a heart of gold,” he said. “Five years after we graduated, he passed away while training to be a firefighter. His name is listed on the Firefighter Memorial in the Florida Capitol.”

The other was former firefighter Ed Hooper, who was also a Clearwater City Commissioner as well as a state legislator who has not lost an election in over a decade. Latvala spent three years as Hooper’s legislative aide, referring to him as a man who dedicated nearly 30 years of his life helping others.

“Firefighters should be treated like heroes, anything short of that is simply unacceptable,” Latvala added. “I have vowed that I will not let Rep. Hooper, Kliff, and our other firefighters down if I am honored by serving them in the Florida House.”

HOUSE CANDIDATE DR. JULIO GONZALEZ ADVOCATED FOR ‘DEATH PANELS’ IN BOOK Full blog post here

It’s one thing that House District 74 GOP hopeful Julio Gonzalez was a virulent opponent of Obamacare more than two months before Barack Obama was the presidential nominee. It’s another thing when the conservative Republican addresses the minutiae of Obamacare, where there seems to be a few things the doctor can really get behind.

Take the dreaded “death panels,” for example.

In 2009, Dr. Gonzalez authored a manuscript titled Health Care Reform: The Truth, where he condemns the “Democratic agenda” for improving health care reform.

One fascinating excerpt, titled “End of Life Care” (pg. 138), the candidate opines on his approach for controlling health-care costs:

“Another area where health-care costs can be better controlled is at the end of life. It is estimated that 27 percent of Medicare’s yearly budget, approximately $327 billion dollars (sic), is spent to care for patients with limited hopes in their final year of life.

How much of that was spent on heroic, futile efforts at effecting cures for patients with limited hopes of survival is certainly worthy of study.”

The “death panel myth” has been thoroughly debunked, and there is nothing in Obamacare that leads anyone — administrators or physicians — to determine who is “worthy” of health care.

As for Dr. Julio Gonzalez’s book — available for the bargain price of $2.79 — he seems to suggest “death panels” should be added to the ACA.

***The RSA team produces results for its clients through its extensive knowledge of the legislative process, longstanding relationships with elected officials and community leaders and strong work ethic.   RSA is a full service consulting firm specializing in community and government affairs, fundraising & event planning.  RSA clients receive personal attention and commitment from a team of seasoned lobbyists, led by Ron Pierce.   Learn how we can help your business, visit www.rsaconsultingllc.com.

LOBBYISTS AT WATER DISTRICTS MUST REGISTER AND DISCLOSE UNDER NEW ETHICS BILL via Dan Christensen of the BrowardBulldog.org

Lobbyists hired to influence spending and policy at Florida’s five water management districts must register and disclose their clients under ethics reforms unanimously passed by the Legislature last week.

If signed into law by Gov. Scott, the bill would for the first time apply state lobbying regulations to some special-purpose governments that raise and spend hundreds of millions dollars every year.

The final bill, however, is a watered-down version of a tougher Senate proposal that sought to expand the state’s lobbying rules to cover every independent special district in the state that levies property taxes. There are 136 independent districts in Florida; many run by unelected boards that in 2011 imposed more than $1.8 billion in property taxes on homeowners and businesses.

House Republicans weakened the bill as the Legislature neared adjournment. The result: Many large independent taxing districts like the North Broward Hospital District and the Health Care District of Palm Beach — two of the state’s three biggest taxing districts — can continue to do business with lobbyists out of the sunshine.

Broward Bulldog.org, supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, reported in January that nearly 1,000 independent special districts across Florida do not require lobbyists who appear before them to register, pay fees or disclose any information about themselves or their clients.

A week later, Senate President Gaetz and Sen. Jack Latvala, chair of the Ethics and Elections Committee, announced their support for legislation that would impose on many of the larger special districts the same lobbyist registration and reporting requirements long in place at Executive Branch agencies.

While the final bill dropped other notable provisions — including a measure that would have barred sheriffs, property appraisers and other elected constitutional officers from lobbying for profit in Tallahassee — it made several other ethics changes. It requires elected municipal officials to take annual ethics training and authorizes the ethics commission to begin an investigation when officials fail to file financial disclosure reports. The bill also applies portions of the state ethics code to Enterprise Florida and Citizens Property Insurance.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Jeff Hartley, Jim Naff, Andrea Reilly, Smith Bryan & Myers: CCA of Tennessee, LLC

Michael Corcoran, Jeffrey Johnston Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: IMG Academy

James Harris: Town of Oakland

Karl Hebrank, Wilson & Associates, LLC

Elisabeth Thibodaux, Darden Restaurants

SPIRIT PAC READY FOR TAKEOFF

Florida-based Spirit Airlines has registered a federal political action committee, according to documents posted Friday.

The “ultra low cost” carrier, which regularly posts poor customer satisfaction levels in surveys, launched a rebranding campaign this week to explain its system of low fares and higher fees. The airline is registered for lobbying with Holland & Knight, where it spent $160,000 last year working on issues related to airline industry regulation. A registration amendment filed last month adds former Rep. Ron Klein to the account, according to Senate lobbying records.

WHO WERE THE 1Q WOLVES OF ADAMS STREET?

Lobbyists face a deadline this week for submitting reports about the sources and amounts of their compensation during the first three months of 2014.

This will be the first time governmental affairs firms will submit reports since the Legislature implemented new guidelines for auditing lobbying compensation reports, although the auditing firms actually won’t begin randomly selecting firms until 2015.

As Aaron Deslatte reported, many lobbyists have quietly grumbled that rival firms have been inflating their numbers — by, for instance, double-reporting the same amounts on both their legislative and executive reports.

With the possibility of audits hanging over Adams Street, it’s expected that some firms reported revenues may decline from last year.

That’s why we’ll be reporting who were the 1st Quarter Wolves of Adams Street.

Which firms do you think made Jordan Belfort-like money? Of course, Ballard, SSG, Capital City Consulting, GrayRobinson, and Ron Book will make the list, but who else will be in the Top 10?

Email me with insights, predictions, and pre-butting (“Well, we didn’t have as big a first quarter as we expected because our contracts were deferred until the beginning of session.”)

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Floridian Partners, LLC, a statewide Public and Government Affairs firm with offices in Tallahassee, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Their firm’s success is measured by its clients’ success. Outreach and Public Advocacy; Strategic Issue and Campaign Development; Grassroots and Grasstops Coalition Building – Floridian Partners is a one-stop firm for clients needing assistance at all levels of government in Florida.***

CONTEXT FLORIDA, MOTHERS, CLIMATE CHANGE, MEXICO AND NURSING HOMES

On Context Florida: For Mother’s Day, the temptation is to get sentimental and write about fond memories to erase painful ones. But Andrew Skerritt has another instinct, prompting him to go into a different direction. Daniel Tilson writes on the 2014 National Climate Assessment Report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which concluded that Florida is suffering from increased flooding (especially in Miami), shoreline erosion and more. In looking for places to retire, former state Sen. John Grant looks south towards Mexico, but he has a few questions for the Mexican government first. Florida Health Care Association Executive Director Emmett Reed marks Mother’s Day as the beginning of National Nursing Home Week, which honors the part of Florida’s 3.5 million residents age 65 and older who are residents and patients in nursing homes, as well as the caring individuals who help make their lives better.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

FOR DAVID BECKHAM, LATEST SOCCER STADIUM SITE POSES NEW CHALLENGES via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

If the notion of building a Major League Soccer stadium on PortMiami land seemed fraught with practical complications and political pitfalls, try putting one on water.

David Beckham and his investors are examining whether filling a deep boat slip with rocks, forever altering the jagged edges of downtown Miami’s shoreline, would work as a location for their planned stadium.

They’re likely to find at least as many challenges as they did for their first-choice port site. There are new costs to weigh, environmental and building permits from federal, state and local agencies to request — and not one, but two municipal governments to persuade.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who asked Beckham’s group to take a serious look at the location, said he proposed the idea to create a hub of recreation and cultural attractions. Though he brought it up to the team just last week, county records show Gimenez asked staff in December 2012 to run scenarios to fill the slip. Rumors about Beckham’s interest in Miami began to intensify the following spring.

A filled basin would connect Museum Park to American Airlines Arena along the water — a promenade that would extend to the county-owned property known as Parcel B behind the arena. Parcel B had been promised as a place for public access to the bay, but has been used merely as a staging site for arena events.

Gimenez has given Miami Beckham United until May 19 to figure out if a stadium on the slip is feasible. Alschuler told the Miami Herald’s editorial board last week that if the price tag is close to the $250 million the group estimated, it would need to privately fund construction of a port stadium, then the investors would be on board. The group also intends to apply for a state subsidy.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: Final NFL draft tally for 2014: FSU 7, UF 4, The U 3, UCF 2, FAU 2, USF 1

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a wonderful mother-to-be, Franco Ripple’s better half, Ashley Ligas.

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.