Sunburn for 5/19 – 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.***

FIRST THINGS FIRST 

You are reading the 400th edition of Sunburn which, serendipitously, is being published right around the two-year anniversary of the launch of Sunburn.

When the first edition was emailed out, the number of recipients could be counted on my fingers and toes. Today, there are 4,561 subscribers. Many people tell me the first thing they do in the morning is read Sunburn. Far too many people tell me that they read Sunburn while they are on the toilet. Regardless, I am extremely grateful for your readership and for starting your day with me.

PROGRAMMING NOTE

The Griswold, err, I mean, the Schorsch family will be sailing this week aboard the Disney Dream. So the only Sunburn being worked on the next four days will be one involving the warm Bahamian sun. Sunburn will resume next Monday.

PROGRAMMING NOTE 2 – BRIGHTEST MINDS IN FLORIDA POLITICS SERIES

Running this week on SaintPetersBlog.com is a new series highlighting 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.

Of course, with lists like these, it’s always interesting to read not only who made the list, but to think about who just missed the cut. There are so many talented individuals working in Florida politics that it was very difficult to narrow down the list.

Please be sure to check SaintPetersBlog each day to see who made the list. Your feedback on the series is welcomed.

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JEB BUSH HINTS AT 2016 RUN, TALKS UP HIS FAITH AT COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS via The Washington Post

In his lone commencement address of the year, former Governor Jeb Bush urged students at a Christian liberal arts college Saturday to reaffirm their socially conservative values, a sign that he is underscoring his own as he considers running in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.

“Remain true to your convictions and your faith,” Bush said, speaking at Grove City College in northwestern Pennsylvania. “This may seem a little challenging today, where we have a federal government that is willingly violating the religious freedom of its citizens. But we don’t have to accept it.”

Dropping a possible hint about his thinking regarding a White House bid, Bush said “if you feel inspired to serve your fellow citizens, don’t let the ugliness of politics keep you from pursuing public office. There is always room for informed, engaged, passionate leaders at every level of government.”

… But in a speech delivered to an audience full of evangelical Christians, it was the passages on faith that deviated most from Bush’s frequent talks to Republican and corporate audiences on education and immigration. The speech also comes as other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates such as Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz are visiting with pastors in key early primary states and planning speeches to religious groups.

“We must recognize the power of loving, committed family life and strong communities as essential for earned success,” Bush said. “Finding ways to restore strong, committed two-parent family life will help break the cycle of poverty for so many.”

DEMOCRATIC PARTY STILL SEEN MORE FAVORABLY THAN GOP via Andrew Dugan of Gallup

Americans view the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party, even though both parties have a net unfavorable rating. Democratic Party favorable ratings have held steady since last June, while Republican favorables have increased slightly from their all-time low last year. Still, if the Republicans’ current favorability ratings hold, they will be the lowest ever for either party in an election year.

Overall, the GOP has a net favorability rating of -25 (34% favorable and 59% unfavorable), and this score has been negative since April 2011, averaging -15 percentage points. More broadly, the GOP has suffered from mostly negative or low positive scores since October 2005, about a year into President George W. Bush’s second term, when his approval rating began to sink. The GOP boasted mostly positive net favorable scores prior to that, except for late 1998 and early 1999 during the Clinton impeachment vote and subsequent Senate trial.

The Democratic Party maintains a slender lead in favorability over the Republican Party, but both parties are “upside down” in net favorability. The fact that the public does not see either party positively suggests both parties will likely face some difficulties in convincing voters to give them their support this November. But for now, the Republican Party may have the most reason for concern: if its favorability rating hovers in the range in which it currently resides, this will be the lowest favorability rating either party has ever held in an election year. Given the GOP’s big hopes this fall — including claiming a Senate majority — this low rating could cast cold water on these lofty objectives.

STUDY: POLITICAL TV ADS ON HEALTH LAW TOTAL $445M via Carla Johnson of the Associated Press

A new analysis finds the nation’s health care overhaul deserves a place in advertising history as the focus of extraordinarily high spending on negative political TV ads that have gone largely unanswered by the law’s supporters.

The report, by nonpartisan analysts Kantar Media CMAG, estimates that $445 million was spent on political TV ads mentioning the law since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Spending on negative ads outpaced positive ones by more than 15 to 1.

Outside of Social Security and Medicare, “no other law has come close to these amounts, much less within such a short period of time,” said Elizabeth Wilner of Kantar Media. “It speaks to the intensity of the opposition among the ACA’s political critics” and their belief that the health care issue will benefit their party in this year’s elections, she said.

As the November midterm elections approach, the picture looks much the same, Wilner said, although a few pro-Democratic ads are countering with messages supporting the health law and a few pro-Republican ads have gone from a flat-out call for repeal to a message of replacing the law with “free-market solutions.”

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LATEST SCOTT AD SEEKS TO SOFTEN HIS IMAGE via Brendan Farrignton of the Associated Press

Gov. Scott is opting to soften his image instead of attacking Charlie Crist in a campaign ad that features his 2-year-old grandson.

Scott acknowledges in his ninth ad that he hasn’t had a great relationship with the news media since Crist announced he would challenge Scott.

As he reads a newspaper at a lawn table, Scott says, “You might’ve noticed the news media is not always my friend. But they aren’t the critics I worry about. This guy is.”

Scott then puts down the newspaper to reveal grandson Auguste sitting on his lap. The images then show Scott playing with and reading to the boy.

“I spend every day worrying about what my grandson will think of me. I’m focused on the Florida we leave for his generation. That means more jobs and more opportunity. We’ve made a good start, but we have a lot more work to do. “

He then turns to Auguste, who’s eating a cracker, and says, “What do you say?”

The boy replies, “Let’s get to work, grandpa.” Scott smiles and says, “That’s my line.”

CAMPAIGN: SCOTT WILL COMPLY WITH DISCLOSURE RULES

As the Florida Supreme Court considers a challenge to a law allowing public officials to use blind trusts, Gov. Scott’s campaign said he will “gladly comply” with whatever rules apply to financial disclosure. Scott, a multimillionaire, has put his assets in a blind trust. But a lawsuit filed last week challenges a 2013 law that allows blind trusts for public officials, contending the law violates the state’s open-government Sunshine Amendment.

Scott campaign manager Melissa Sellers sent a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, making clear the governor would comply with disclosing his individual investments if blind trusts are barred. “If the courts believe the trust should be dissolved, all assets will be disclosed in accordance with the law for qualifying,” Sellers wrote. She also added that the trustee of the blind trust “has made all choices about what assets are purchased, sold or owned by the trust. In sum, whatever the rules are, the governor will gladly comply with them.”

The state is required to submit a response to the Supreme Court by noon today in the lawsuit, which was filed by Jim Apthorp, a former chief of staff to the late Gov. Reubin Askew.

RADIO SYSTEM BUDGET ITEM A NATURAL FOR PUBLIC-SAFETY-CONSCIOUS GOVERNOR via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News

Massive technology upgrades are never easy. Ask Jesse Panuccio at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. But they’re inevitable in state government, and some are definitely more critical, more massive than others.

Such is the case with an item on this year’s budget (2904-A Special categories) — $1 million appropriated for the Department of Management Services to initiate a business case study on upgrading local and state law enforcement radios.

This a very big deal. It’s about life and death. And I’m hopeful Gov. Scott will continue his strong support for public safety, maintaining it as a hallmark of his leadership and keeping this study for Project 25 (P25) — the path to an upgraded statewide emergency communication system — in the 2014-2015 fiscal budget.

Right now 20 Florida counties have adopted Project 25, and when all state and local agencies and departments are updated and connected, 20,000 state and local users will be able to communicate seamlessly.

Project 25 (P25) is a set of standards for digital radio communications used by federal, state, provincial and local public safety agencies in North America. It enables them to communicate with each other and to coordinate mutual aid response teams in emergencies.

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A BUSY WEEKEND FOR CHARLIE CRIST…

… ENDORSED BY THE FEA

Crist received the endorsement of the Florida Education Association on Saturday, after he gave a speech to the group that represents more than 140,000 K-12 teachers, faculty and educational professionals throughout the state.

“As teachers, education staff professionals and supporters of public education, we must make a commitment to change,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “We believe that change is Charlie Crist. We need a governor who truly believes in the promise of quality public education, is experienced enough to envision an agenda that builds on that promise and is equipped with the political courage to insist that partisan politics yield to the needs of our public schools and our public school students.”

Ford cited his disappointment with incumbent Gov. Scott as the main reason for Saturday’s announcement.

“Four years ago, Rick Scott said his top priority was to give corporations tax breaks,” he said. “And the very first thing he did as governor was cut $1.3 billion from our public schools and gave it away as corporate tax breaks. We need a governor who will make our schools a priority.”

In a statement, Ford said the FEA committee of members and leaders recommended Crist after declaring they needed a governor who believes “local public schools are one of our state’s greatest resources.”

“Charlie Crist understands that our public schools belong to all of us:  the students who learn in them, the parents who support them, the educators and staff who work in them and the communities that they serve,” he added.

TWEET, TWEET: @Mdixon55: Nothing specific in mind here, but why would you endorse a gubernatorial candidate in May, on a Saturday afternoon? Asking for a friend.

… PROTESTED IN LITTLE HAVANA, LOVED IN LIBERTY CITY via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

(Saturday) was a tale of two cities for Crist in Miami.

The candidate for governor held a field office opening in Little Havana, on Calle Ocho, and promptly ran into the buzzsaw of the Republican Party. This is GOP country. Holding an outdoor event, as Crist did, was an invitation for disruption and, as noted earlier, the GOP happily obliged.

Later in the day, the candidate for governor had a totally different experience in Liberty City, a predominantly black area of Miami. He was adored by the crowds at the field-office opening there.

Why? Because the Miami-Dade GOP, like the Florida and national party, has really no foothold in any black community in the county or state. Of Miami-Dade’s 362,000 registered Republicans, only 1.9 percent is African American. That’s compared to 19 percent of the overall voter rolls and 36 percent of the registered Democrats, who outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 188,000.

Relatively speaking, the GOP is shrinking. Registered Republicans in Miami-Dade (as in Broward, Palm Beach and Orange counties, to name a few) are now outnumbered by registered independents (that is, those of no party or other party affiliations). The independent advantage over the GOP is relatively small (only 4,336) but it’s a telling statistic about a local Republican Party that former Gov. Jeb Bush helped build to prominence in the 80s and 90s.

Unlike anywhere else in the country, though, Miami-Dade’s GOP is heavily Hispanic: nearly 73 percent. Almost all of them are Cuban-Americans. They soured on the Democrats ever since Kennedy botched the Bay of Pigs invasion. Nixon had ties to the community, and Reagan then wooed them better than any other president. These Republicans, bearing the cultural and actual scars of Castro’s communism that they fled, are super voters. They know the value of voting. They’re far more reliable than Democrats and the even-less-reliable independents. That’s why Miami-Dade still has so many Republican leaders, nearly all of whom are Cuban American.

VIDEO OF THE PROTEST here.

CRIST REELS IN DONATION AT $1 A POP, BUT WARCHEST PALES IN COMPARISON TO SCOTT’S via Matt Dixon of The Scripps/Herald Capital Bureau

Six months into his campaign, Crist has received 18,332 contributions worth $474,437 from contributions of $100 or less. That’s roughly 86 percent of all individual contributions that have flowed to the Crist campaign…

(T)he overall number of small-dollar contributions raised by Crist seems unprecedented.

… Through the first six months of 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink’s campaign, she had 2,823 of those contributions worth a total of $187,221.

By comparison, the campaign of Gov. Scott has 368 contributions of less than $100, worth a total of $28,005, campaign finance records show.g.

MEANWHILE … NAN RICH CAMPAIGNING IN JACKSONVILLE: Rich will speak at a Democratic Women’s Information Network event in Jacksonville. IBEW, 966 Liberty St., Jacksonville. 4:30 p.m.

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100,000 FLA. STUDENTS HAVE STARTED APPLICATIONS FOR TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS via Ron Matus of RedefinED

Demand for Florida tax credit scholarships hit a milestone late Friday: For the first time in the program’s history, the number of students who have started an application for fall scholarships topped 100,000.

The number hit 100,000 about 10 p.m. As of 7 a.m. Saturday, it stood at 100,037.

In 2013, the number of students reached 94,105 before the application process was halted early, on June 28.  In 2012, it reached 87,540 before the application period ended Aug. 3.

The tax credit scholarships program is currently limited to low-income families. Changes passed by the state Legislature this year – and awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature – would allow partial scholarships to families with modestly higher incomes, but only after all qualifying low-income families are served. The program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.

The number of scholarships has risen rapidly, from 28,927 in the 2009-10 school year to 59,765 this year. The program’s current funding cap of $358 million should allow 67,000 students to be served in the fall.

DEPT OF AG RECORDS REVIEW INCREASES LIST OF POTENTIAL CHARLOTTE’S WEB-QUALIFIED NURSERIES TO 39 via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

Now there are 39 Florida nurseries who might be qualified to grow marijuana, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer services.

After initially determining that 21 Florida growers met two key requirements to bid for one of the five cannabis licenses the state could issue under SB 1030, assuming Gov. Rick Scott signs that bill, the department decided to do a review of records. The department reports it has found 18 more that could qualify, including six more in Central Florida.

There now are perhaps 10 nurseries in Central Florida that are big enough and old enough to be qualified candidates for one of those potentially lucrative licenses, which would give companies monopolistic authority in northeast, northwest, central, southwest or southeast Florida to grow, process and sell marijuana product to qualified patients with cancer or intractable seizures or tumors.

The law restricted the business to nurseries that are registered with the Department of Agriculture to have at least 400,000 plants for sale, and which have been in continuous business in Florida for at least 30 years. Because the departments’ digital records go back only 26 years, the initial list was incomplete, officials said.

Still, the list of 39 is far shorter than the list of 7,001 registered nurseries in the state. Some of them, and many non-nursery operators have protested that the law so narrowly restricted who may get into the medical marijuana business. The law was passed by the Legislature two weeks ago, and Scott hasn’t even signed it yet, but already there is talk of legal challenges by potential cannabis growers who are not on the list of qualified growers.

MORE TROUBLE AT THE OOCEA – MARCO PENA RESIGNS FROM BOARD 

An Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority board member has resigned from his post less than a month after another board member was indicted for felony bribery.

Marco Pena resigned his board seat Friday via a memo. He had served on the board since his appointment by Gov. Rick Scott in July 2013. He cited personal reasons for his departure.

The resignation follows last month’s indictment of board member Scott Batterson by the grand jury on felony bribery and two felony counts of solicitation for receiving unlawful compensation. Scott suspended him from the board the same day.

FLASHBACK – Sept. 13, 2013: “What the hell is going on at the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority?

TWEET, TWEET: @JoeCulotta: The axe is getting sharper before the big drop

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is scheduled to begin hearing testimony in a long-running lawsuit about whether the Legislature complied with constitutional requirements when drawing new political districts in 2012. Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee. 9 a.m.

APPEALS COURT WANTS TO LOOK AT THE SECRET REDISTRICTING DOCS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times

Now the appeals court wants to see the 538 secret documents.

On the eve of the redistricting trial scheduled to begin, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee agreed to a last-minute stay to stop the release of 538 pages of emails, maps and planning documents held by the political consultants to the Republican legislators.

Lawyers for the political consulting firm Data Targeting and its owner Pat Bainter argued that the documents are “trade secrets” and the courtroom should be closed if they are introduced in court as part of the redistricting challenge to the 2012 congressional maps.

Judge Lewis Lewis rejected Data Targeting’s request and ordered the documents released if and when they are introduced as part of the record in the two-week trial. Bainter’s lawyers appealed the ruling.

In an order, the First District Court of Appeal agreed to conduct an expedited review of Lewis’ ruling, stayed the decision, ordered transcripts and briefs — and required that Bainter and his lawyers provide the court with copies of all 538 documents.

GET YOUR GEEK ON: FLORIDA’S REDISTRICTING TRIAL COULD HINGE ON (GASP!) STATISTICS via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

After years of bickering over Florida’s history of gerrymandering, the Republican-controlled Legislature’s re-wired congressional maps go on trial.

So, it might be appropriate that social science will be called upon to try to sort out whether GOP lawmakers “intentionally” drew maps to benefit their own party.

The League of Women Voters and other groups have been fighting in court for two years over the way lawmakers implemented the 2010 Fair Districts amendments. Voters overwhelmingly passed the amendment in an effort to strip partisanship from the once-a-decade process of redrawing legislative and congressional maps.

And the case could ultimately hinge on the data work that political scientists have done — studying the probability the maps could have been produced without partisan bias, and how similarly draft Republican Party of Florida maps look to the ones the Legislature actually passed.

Simulations are like polling, only instead of pulling a sample of 600 or so, you can pull a sample of 10,000 or more simulated observations — and through the rule of large numbers make predictions with far more accuracy, given a whole boatload of assumptions.

They conclude that the Legislature’s map “is an extreme statistical outlier and falls outside the range of partisan bias that could be expected from the non-partisan districting process” called for under the law.

TOP GAETZ ALLY PAID $10K MONTHLY AS “REDISTRICTING CONSULTANT” WHILE GAETZ WAS DRAWING MAPS via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

As state Sen. Don Gaetz was leading the Senate’s redistricting efforts, one of his top allies was being paid $10,000 per month by the Republican Party of Florida to act as a “redistricting consultant.”

The payments came at a notable time: In late 2011, Gaetz was incoming Senate president, which meant he was in charge of coordinating 2012 Senate campaigns. It gave him a large amount of control over how huge sums of money were spent by the state GOP on Senate races.

That included money to consultants like Rich Heffley. Gaetz has said he had no idea his longtime friend was being paid by the party for redistricting advice.

The $10,000 regular payments from the Republican Party of Florida to Strategic Direction.com Inc., a company owned by Heffley and his wife, Nancy, began in September 2011, the month Gaetz took over as the head of Senate campaigns. The payments ended in December 2013, a week after incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner officially took over.

FUTURE OF PENSION REFORM NEXT YEAR STILL NOT CLEAR via Tampa Tribune

With no certain answers about whether the House will push changes to the Florida Retirement System in 2015, supporters of local pension reform are hoping to give their proposal a clearer shot next year.

Outgoing House Speaker Weatherford for two years pushed to overhaul the Florida Retirement System, known as FRS, which provides retirement benefits to hundreds of thousands of state, county and school employees.

But House Majority Leader Steve Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican set to succeed Weatherford after the November elections, said “it’s just too early to tell” whether the state pension issue will return in 2015.

“I think a lot of topics are on the table right now,” Crisafulli said. “I can’t sit here and take any issues off the table at this moment in time.”

In 2011, lawmakers approved a measure requiring workers to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the retirement plan. Two years later, Weatherford sought to close the traditional pension plan to new employees and push them into a 401(k)-style plan. In 2014, he and Senate supporters pushed for changes expected to encourage workers to enter the investment plan, though they would have left the traditional pension open.

While the 2011 legislation passed, moderate GOP senators blocked Weatherford’s proposals the last two sessions.

Meanwhile, efforts to overhaul local police and firefighter pension plans — many of which are less sturdy than the state plan — have repeatedly become entangled in the FRS debate, most clearly in 2014, when the House melded the two measures together in one bill.

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY GO ROUND

With a hat-tip to LobbyTools, here is latest on who is on and who is off the legislative staffing merry-go-round. 

Off: Tim Mason is no longer the legislative assistant to Sen. Eleanor Sobel.

On: Jason Holloway is Rep. Darryl Rouson’s new legislative assistant.

Off: Patrecia Ming is no longer the legislative assistant to Sen. Geri Thompson.

Off: Angela Miller is no longer the legislative assistant to Sen. Greg Evers.

Off: Janet Millan has left the staff Rep. Eddy Gonzalez. She was the district secretary.

POST-SESSSION UPDATES

>>>State Rep. Bill Hager will start a series of updates for local officials about the 2014 legislative session. Town of Palm Beach Shores, 247 Edwards Lane, Palm Beach Shores. 7 p.m.

>>>State Sen. Joseph Abruzzo and Rep. Mark Pafford are expected to give a legislative update to the Mid-County Democratic Club. Tree’s Wings & Ribs, 603 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Royal Palm Beach. 7 p.m.

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Strategic Image Management – Florida’s premier one-stop shop for political campaigns, issue advocacy, legislative initiatives, & public relations. Visit www.simwins.com or follow us on twitter @SIMWINS and start winning today***

BEER MONEY FLOWS TO FLORIDA CANDIDATES, WATCHDOG GROUP REPORTS via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Beer and liquor wholesalers have given $1.2 million to candidates for Florida state office since 2008, with another $1.8 million kicked in to Florida political parties, a campaign finance watchdog reported on its blog Friday.

“The preponderance of their contributions went to candidates for state house seats ($728,787),” according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

“But they also gave a considerable amount ($323,883) to candidates for state senate, of which $288,158 went to those who were ultimately elected to the senate.”

The reason for the beer-related post: The recent death of a bill (SB 1714) that would have restricted brewers making more than 2,000 kegs a year from selling no more than 20 percent of their beverages themselves. The rest would have had to go through distributors.

Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, the trade group representing Anheuser-Busch distributors, won the top spot for total contributions to winning Senate candidates in 2008-13, with $39,500 given.

The group also noted that the Florida Brewers Guild, the craft brewers’ association, gave just $500 to one sitting senator: Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who fought against the bill.

ELLYN BOGDANOFF MAY DECIDE THIS WEEK ABOUT RE-MATCH VS. MARIA SACHS via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, says she will probably decide next week whether to seek a re-match with state Sen. Maria Sachs.

Such a race would set up one of the most expensive and fierce legislative battles in the Broward/Palm Beach area.

The district has about an 8-point Democratic edge, but if Bogdanoff gets in the race she is banking on stronger Republican turnout during a non-presidential year.

Bogdanoff and Sachs were both in the Legislature when due to redistricting they ended up in the same district and squared off in 2012. Sachs won by about 6 percentage points. The majority of District 34 is in Palm Beach County.

Last year a Republican voter filed an ethics complaint accusing Sachs of leasing a Fort Lauderdale apartment from longtime friend, political consultant Judy Stern, to comply with residency requirements. The Commission however does not have jurisdiction over residency requirements in election laws. This past session state lawmakers unanimously passed a new rule that they say will require them to actually live in the districts they represent.

LIZBETH BENACQUISTO DRAWS A FAMILIAR FOE via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto will face a familiar foe in the Republican primary. This week Michael Dreikorn filed to run against Benacquisto in a state Senate race. The two Republicans met in last month’s primary to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel in Congress.

LONGWOOD COMMISSIONER BRIAN SACKETT ENDORSES SCOTT STURGILL IN HD 30 Full blog post here

 Sackett is endorsing Republican Scott Sturgill in the race for House District 30.

Sturgill faces incumbent Democrat Karen Castor Dentel in 2014 for the district representing parts of Seminole and Orange Counties.

“After getting to know Scott Sturgill and learning about his deep roots in the community and listening to his initiatives for the district, I am convinced that he will represent the citizens of Florida very well,” Sackett said in a statement. “Scott is an independent voice and is focused on long term solutions to address the issues that are impacting everyone, not just Republicans.”

RICHARD DENAPOLI HOSTING MEET & GREET ON TUESDAY

Republican Richard DeNapoli, who is seeking to replace term-limited Rep. Doug Holder in House District 74, is expected to hold a meet-and-greet event. Olde World Restaurant, 14415 Tamiami Trail, North Port. 5:45 p.m.

JOHN SHANNON FUNDRAISER ON THURSDAY

Republican John Hugh Shannon, who is seeking to replace term-limited state Rep. Seth McKeel in House District 40, will raise money during a reception in Polk County. Lakeland Yacht & Country Club, 299 Lake Hollingsworth Dr., Lakeland. 5:30 p.m.

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MUST-READ HEAVY LOBBYING KILLED RED LIGHT CAMERA BILL via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Killing the cameras would have meant a major financial hit to the company and the cities and counties that use them: Across Florida, half of all money collected is paid to vendors who supply and maintain the systems, according to a state report.

State and local governments share the rest of the money. And from 2011 to 2013, red-light camera revenue from fines more than tripled statewide from $37.6 million to almost $119 million.

Nonetheless, state Sen. Jeff Brandes held a joint news conference in early February with state Rep. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican, declaring war on the cameras. Brandes has long wanted to outlaw them, calling red-light fines a “backdoor tax increase.”

But shortly afterward, emails obtained through a public records request show Artiles was lobbied by red-light camera company American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Ariz.

One email from its Tallahassee-based lobbyist said, “we need some changes,” including revisions that were personally vetted by the company’s CEO. Those changes would preserve the cameras while making minor changes in how they’re used.

Artiles told the Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau he was trying to get the company to at least agree to some modifications in the way the cameras work.

But he gave up after realizing the Senate, despite Brandes’ lead, had no appetite to tackle any changes, let alone a repeal.

In the end, no changes were made. And once again, Brandes was thwarted in his continuing effort to repeal the red-light camera program, passed by state lawmakers in 2010.

The death of this year’s red-light camera legislation is one example of how public policy emerges — or doesn’t — out of the 60-day “sausage making” process that is the state’s annual legislative session.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Carol Bracy, Ballard Partners: Shands Healthcare

Jordan Connors, Thomas DeRita: WBF Florida Properties III, LLC (Fuccillo)

Jim DeBeaugrine, Marnie George, Michael Harrell, Pennington PA: Tableau Software

JimAllen Douglas: Florida Engineering Society

Karen Walker, Holland & Knight: Performant Financial Corporation

PURPLE STRATEGIES HAS A NEW WEBSITE

The public affairs firm Purple Strategies has a new website. “We wanted to create a place that showcased our unique combination of Red and Blue + Brand Trust and Public Affairs, which has led to strong business partnerships with our clients as we help them move and shape public opinion. We feature our strategic thinkers, highlight some of our best work so far and provide a window into Purple New England as well as our offices in Chicago and D.C,” the firm writes in a note. Check it out here.

WOLVES OF ADAMS STREET

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

Click on the links to read individual profiles of each firm’s first quarter report: Adams Street Advocates here; Ballard Partners here; Ron Book here; Capital City Consulting here; Dean Mead here; Fiorentino Group here; Gunster here; Heffley & Associates here; Johnson & Blanton here; Jones Walker here; Overton & Associates here; Metz Husband & Daughton here; Mayernick Group here; Moya Group here; Peebles & Smith here; RSA Consulting here; Ramba Consulting here; The Rubin Group here;  Southern Strategy Group here; SKD Consulting Group here

WOLFIE STAT OF THE DAY: 207 — That’s the number of clients Southern Strategy Group currently represents.

***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.***

CONGRATULATIONS to Capt. James & Erin Balles (of Public Affairs Consultants on their nuptials.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Reps. Daphne Campbell, Kathleen Passidomo, and Greg Steube.

QUORUM — TAMPA BAY’S NOT-TOO-POLITICAL HAPPY HOUR — THIS FRIDAY

The next Quorum is slated for Friday, May 23, beginning at 5:00 pm. It will be at the familiar location: Cassis American Brasserie on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg. The special guests are state House candidates Chris Latvala and Bill Young II. Perhaps even more important, one of St. Pete’s favorite sons, Alan Suskey, will be in town to help Michelle and I co-host. There will be a $250 bar tab and hors d’oeuvres.

For more information, click here.

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.