Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 6.23.16 – So, that happened

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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.

The race to replace Marco Rubio is now a race to unseat him.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he is running for a second term in the U.S. Senate. The announcement came just two days before the end of the qualifying period, and instantly reshaped the Republican field.

Ron DeSantis and Carlos Lopez-Cantera are out. Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox are staying in. And Democrats — and maybe a few of his Republican opponents — are prepared to ask voters how they can trust Rubio if his one of first acts as Senate candidate was a flip-flop.

Rubio says he is prepared for the criticism, even addressing it in his announcement Wednesday morning.

“In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes. I have decided to seek re-election to the United States Senate,” he said. “I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me. Have at it. Because I have never claimed to be perfect, or have all the answers.”

But his decision to run after repeatedly saying he wouldn’t run won’t be his only challenge. The Aug. 30 primary is about two months away. Absentee ballots go out to military and oversees voters on July 16. The first wave of domestic ballots goes out July 26.

He needs to build up his campaign infrastructure and raise loads of campaign cash. He will need to overcome criticism over missed votes and comments indicating he disliked serving in the Senate.

Another challenge? Donald Trump clobbered Rubio in the Sunshine State’s March 15 presidential preference primary. Trump received nearly 46 percent of the vote — compared to Rubio’s 27 percent — and came out on top in 66 of Florida’s 67 counties.

And while Rubio’s entry into the race comes with the support of many in the Republican establishment, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, that could be a double edge sword. In a year of outsider candidates, Rubio is on the inside looking out.

“Remember when Washington anointed Crist over Rubio? Now Washington has anointed Rubio,” tweeted Curt Anderson, a top adviser. “That’s a terrible place to be.”

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Laura Jolly, wife of U.S. Rep. David Jolly: “David was right…”


— @TeamMarco: Be honest. You missed us, right?
If you don’t get why Rubio reversed course, I will sum it up in 1 word: Ambition.

— @AdamSmithTimes: Doubt anyone can convince me @marcorubio reelection hasnt been in works for months

— @CHeathWFTV: Part of what hurt Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid was not going local, only doing national media. Today? He’s on @MSNBC @CNN

— @JamesPindell: Rubio doesn’t reject @mkraju question premise of that if he loses #FLSen re-election his political career is over

— @MRMasferrer: I have a feeling @CarlosBeruff v @marcorubio could get loud like when my Cuban family argued politics #Cubanity

AND NEVER FORGET THIS TWEET from May 27: @MarcACaputo: I really wish I could make a bet on Rubio not running for Senate in 2016. I would make money from so many people


Carlos Beruff: “Voters all across this state are fed up with the status quo. Career politicians like Marco Rubio worry more about keeping the job than doing the job, and are constantly looking for their next political promotion. I have real world experience and will bring my business mindset to the massive problems facing our country, problems that have only gotten worse while Marco Rubio has been our Senator. This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them. Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Alan Grayson: “While Rep. Grayson is busy passing good, progressive legislation, he welcomes the chance to beat basically two Do Nothing Republicans in Patrick Murphy and No Show Marco this fall. But it’s shameful that Marco is trying to use the Orlando tragedy to further his 2020 presidential ambitions from a Senate seat that he’s barely sat in. Floridians will see through it. The Trump-Rubio ticket will fail.”

American Bridge: “Marco may have some L-i-d-d-l-e problems with Trump, like not believing that he’s stable enough to have the nuclear codes, but Rubio supports Trump nonetheless–even offering to speak for him at the GOP convention–and Trump sure believes in Marco. As Trump’s campaign continues it’s downward trajectory, Marco can look forward to high stakes in Florida because of Trump. Rubio faces losing twice in one cycle–quite the accomplishment for the junior senator.”

DSCC: “During his first term, Marco Rubio has amassed the worst voting record of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years. Senator Rubio simply couldn’t be bothered to show up for work, and when he asked Florida voters for a promotion in the Presidential primary, they swiftly shut him down and handed him a nearly 20 point loss to Donald Trump. That’s the same Donald Trump who Rubio called a “con artist” who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes who he has now heartily endorsed and will be forced to run alongside. Unfortunately for Florida voters, when Marco Rubio did decide to show up for work, he voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program, defund critical women’s health services, and keep open a loophole that allows terrorists to purchase guns. Now, he is cravenly using the deadliest mass shooting in American history as the springboard to go back on his word and further his political career. They said it couldn’t be done, but Marco Rubio’s actions, words and votes reveal one of the more self-serving Washington politicians who has always put his political career above the people he represents. If there is one thing that we can agree on with Marco Rubio, it’s his promise that he will be a private citizen come January after he loses to Florida’s next Senator, Patrick Murphy.”

Florida Democratic Party’s Allison Tant: “The only thing more inexcusable and embarrassing than Marco Rubio’s failure to accomplish anything of note in the Senate is his callous exploitation of the Orlando tragedy in an effort to kickstart his reelection campaign. Rubio lost 66 of 67 counties in March because he abandoned the people of Florida and showed himself to be nothing but an opportunistic career politician. Today’s news only confirms that further. Floridians deserve better than a career politician who claims nothing can be done to prevent future gun violence, works against immigrant families and LGBT rights, actively speaks out against women making their own health care decisions, and can’t even bother to show up to vote most days. Republicans and Democrats alike flat-out rejected Rubio this presidential cycle, and Floridians are done tolerating a self-centered opportunist who refuses to do the job he was hired to do. A panicked Senatorial bid will not rehabilitate Marco Rubio’s destroyed reputation. As he’s said time and time again, Marco Rubio will be a private citizen in January of 2017.” 

NRSC: “Marco Rubio is a valued leader for Florida and for our country, and I welcome his decision to ask voters for the opportunity to serve once again. Senator Rubio has made a lasting impact when it comes to standing up against the failed Obama agenda and has articulated a clear vision for making our country safer and more prosperous. His campaign will have the full support of the NRSC. While Marco is already in a strong position to win, Democrats are currently locked in a bruising primary that will produce a weak nominee and cost millions of dollars. The Democrat establishment has gone all-in for Patrick Murphy, who has fabricated every piece of his resume except for the fact that he is a sitting Congressman and holds his office thanks to a family fortune. Alan Grayson is, in a word, unelectable. Neither candidate is a match for Marco Rubio, and I will be proud to have him as a member of our Republican majority for years to come.”

HOW #RUBIOREELCT IS PLAYING — POLITICORubio skips foreign policy hearing as he announces reelection – “Rubio missed a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday morning — at the same time he was announcing plans to run for reelection.” South Florida Sun SentinelRubio flip-flops on re-election, wants another term as U.S. senator – “Rubio abandoned his complete, repeated and unequivocal vow not to run for re-election … But his popularity at home dipped after absorbing the slings and arrows from rivals — plus self-inflicted wounds — during his unsuccessful presidential campaign.” Tampa Bay TimesRubio reverses course, announces he’s running for re-election to the Senate – “In a major reversal highlighting Republican fear over losing the Senate majority and his own ambition … Rubio will break a longstanding promise not to seek re-election…” PolitiFactRubio flip-flops on running for Senate – “We rate his change in position as a Full Flop.” Huffington PostRubio decides to run for Senate again – “‘I’ll be a private citizen in January,’ Rubio said. He has even spoken about his displeasure with his time in the Senate.” Washington ExaminerRubio faces rocky road to re-election – “Rubio’s future now rests on winning re-election to the Senate, but he faces a rocky road … Losing his home state twice in one year would be a devastating blow, possibly one from which he couldn’t recover.” Washington PostThe 2016 election shows why people don’t trust politicians – “He has said the attack on Orlando 10 days ago changed things for him, but even before then, it was clear that there was some potential waffling going on. And you wonder why people don’t trust what politicians say.” Daily BeastRubio wants to return to a job he hates – “It took just one year for Rubio to go from Beltway darling to ‘bless his heart’ …  known for years as ambition in human form … Even as he ran, it was clear to most Florida political watchers that Rubio viewed the Senate as a mere steppingstone to the presidency.” MSNBCRubio breaks his word, decides to seek re-election – “This reversal will surprise no one; the far-right senator has been telegraphing the move for weeks. It was largely a matter of when, not if, Rubio would go back on his promise to the public. But that doesn’t make the reversal any less ridiculous.” Washington PostRubio is running for Senate again. So that he can run for president again – “And, remember that Rubio has said — lots of time — that he didn’t like the Senate and thought it didn’t do much of anything. Two quick quotes to that end: 1) ‘We’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen.’ 2) ‘I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word. I’m frustrated.’” New York Times, In reversal, Rubio to seek re-election to Senate – “… a reversal that will reshape one of the most competitive races in the country.” Bloomberg, Rubio to seek Senate re-election after presidential loss – “Rubio now faces the additional challenge of explaining to Florida voters why he changed his mind after making so many definitive statements …” Miami Herald, Rubio says yes to another Senate run after all – “’I mean, I spent more time designing the defense for the sixth-grade football team at Florida Christian School than I did thinking of running for office over the last couple of months,’ he said.” New York MagazineRubio comes full circle, will run for reelection – “Since he telegraphed this latest flip-flop extensively … he will immediately have to sit down and eat bowl after bowl of his own words. But a bigger problem is probably the contempt he so often showed for the Senate during his presidential campaign.”

RUBIO LOBBIED TED CRUZ FOR HIS SUPPORT IN SENATE RACE via Washingtonian – According to two aides briefed on the Tuesday phone call, Rubio asked Cruz to blast out a statement urging Rubio to run for reelection, “so it’s not just Mitch [McConnell]” asking him to do so, as one aide described it.

RUBIO SKIPS FOREIGN POLICY HEARING AS HE ANNOUNCES RE-ELECTION via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – While it’s not unusual for a senator to miss hearings, Rubio‘s timing played directly into the Democratic narrative that he has neglected his job. In a series of interviews and statements … Rubio announced his plans to seek a second term, after insisting for months he would retire from the Senate. Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement that it’s “unbelievable” that Rubio had “the audacity to skip a Foreign Relations Committee hearing while simultaneously announcing he would go back on his word and run for reelection.” Rubio’s office had no comment.

RUBIO EXPLAINS WHY HE WON’T CAMPAIGN FOR DONALD TRUMP via Nick Gass of POLITICO – “It’s not that I’m looking to undermine him, but I think the differences between us on key issues are so significant that I just don’t plan to campaign — I’ve got to run my own race,” Rubio told CNN … “I have my own identity. I have my own positions on issues, and I’m not going to be out there undermining him or anything of that nature because I don’t want Hillary to win, but I really think I need to tell people what I’m going to do as a senator as opposed to, kind of, and that was going to be the case irrespective of whether I ran.”

RUBIO MAY SEE COMPLICATIONS IF HE WANTS TO CAMPAIGN ON ADDICTION TREATMENT ISSUE via Tarini Parti of BuzzFeed News– Sens. Rob Portma, Kelly Ayotte, and Pat Toomey are now highlighting their vote on Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in ads and on the campaign trail as they seek to localize their race in an election year where the party’s standard bearer could cost them their seats in swing states. The same might be expected from Rubio — who will run for re-election in a state that’s often called the “pill mill capital” — but there’s one problem: He didn’t actually vote on the bill because of his presidential campaign. Although he co-sponsored the bill, already, Democrats are attacking him in a web video for his absence in the Senate. “Marco Rubio failed to show up for work,” the text in the recently release video reads with news clips that go through the senator’s missed votes. And, in Florida, some say there’s more to his record on prescription drug legislation that doesn’t quite fit the current trend toward robust legislation to restrict illegal access to prescription drugs and to increase addiction treatment. When he was a member of the state House, Rubio was accused of killing a bill pushed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush that would have created a prescription-drug monitoring program, according to news reports from the time and interviews with those involved. Those close to the senator say the failure of the bill in the state House was more tied to privacy concerns, not politics. “The failure of this bill was my biggest disappointment in the legislature,” said then-state Sen. Locke Burt, a Republican who sponsored the legislation …  “It caused more deaths than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … I got it out of the Senate four different times. Rubio in my view had a major role in killing it.”

IS THIS THE NEW RUBIO SUPER PAC? via Alex Roarty of Roll Call – Does Rubio‘s Senate campaign already have an accompanying super PAC?  The Federal Election Commission reported the creation of the Florida First Project, a new super PAC that listed a Tampa address. The timing of the group’s creation will raise eyebrows; given that it came on the same day that Rubio announced he was running for re-election. Supporters of the senator had reportedly been told over the weekend to prepare for his return to the campaign trail, so it’s possible Rubio allies moved pre-emptively to lay the groundwork for a new group. The sole name listed on the report also offers another connection to Rubio. Nancy Watkins, a Republican operative based in Tampa, is listed as the super PAC’s treasurer. She was also the treasurer for Rubio’s presidential super PAC, Conservative Solutions PAC. Watkins is the treasurer for a number of super PACs, so her inclusion in the group doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a group that plans to support Rubio. In a brief interview, she declined to say who created Florida First Project or why it was created.

NARAL TO BEGIN AIRING ADS ATTACKING RUBIO IN FLORIDA via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – During his ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign … Rubio went further than most Republicans ever have when he said he would deny abortion to women who are survivors of rape and incest … the pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice began airing TV ads against Rubio following the New Hampshire primary on that issue. Now with the Florida Senator … will run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat, the group says they will begin airing that same 30-second TV ad in the Sunshine State, beginning later this week. “Rubio would deny the choice of an abortion to all Americans, even those who are survivors of rape and incest,” said Sasha Bruce, senior vice president for campaigns and strategy at NARAL. “While Rubio may try to portray himself as some sort of new generation of Republican, his position on abortion is from the Dark Ages and is far more extreme than even many of his Republican colleagues. While Rubio’s record is thin, his priorities of rolling back reproductive freedoms are crystal clear. And those priorities are wrong for Florida and the nation.”

CARLOS BERUFF HITS RUBIO IN COUNTY WHERE RUBIO STRUGGLED IN PREZ PRIMARY via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Beruff told the Republican audience in Bay County Wednesday that he is not budging and will remind voters of how much Rubio has skipped out on doing his job in Congress and how little real world business experience Rubio has. Beruff had a receptive audience in Bay County, where he’s made four stops since March and has just ramped up his television advertising in the area. It’s also a county where Rubio won less than 20 percent of the GOP presidential primary vote against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in March.

— “Jeb Bush would back Rubio if asked” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo back Marco Rubio” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

— “Club for Growth endorses Rubio, Ron DeSantis” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “Laura Ingraham slams Rubio — says DeSantis should stay in Senate race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics


FLORIDA’S NEVER-ENDING RUBIO/CHARLIE CRIST SHOW via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Rubio and Crist, two talented and ferociously self-serving Florida politicians, are both campaigning for political comebacks this Fall. Neither has much experience doing actual work in the private sector, neither wants to spend the next couple of years toiling unnoticed outside of Washington, and neither is a sure thing to avoid that fate. Certainly, the odds favor Crist … winning a South Pinellas Congressional seat that has been drawn to heavily favor a Democrat. Likewise, Rubio … is the clear favorite to win a second term now that he has reversed his promise not to run again that he made while running for president. But each will be dogged by questions and doubts about whether he is first and foremost an opportunist who cares more about himself than his constituents … Probably Rubio and Crist will wind up together in Washington as rivals from different parties, nearly a decade after they worked together in Tallahassee as rivals within the same party. Both have serious obstacles in front of them, especially their own self-seeking images. At some point, voters expect their leaders to do their jobs and not keep looking for the next one. We’ll soon see whether they decide enough is enough with Rubio and Crist. In the meantime, though, Crist does not rule out running for governor again in 2018, and Rubio does not rule out running for president again in 2020.

IT’S NOT THAT RUBIO RENEGED; IT’S THAT HE DID A LOUSY JOB IN SENATE via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – The fact that Rubio reneged on a vow not to run for re-election to the United States Senate isn’t that big of a deal. Politicians change their minds all the time. That fact that he has done a spectacularly lousy job since Floridians sent him to the Senate in 2010 is a much bigger deal, a piece of reality Marco apologists choose to ignore. And then there is this: A part of his motivation to return to a job he has loudly and often said he loathes was some sort of epiphany after the Orlando massacre June 12. The nation, of course, reacted with horror about the shooting that left 49 people dead in a gay nightclub, and no one is saying Rubio wasn’t as horrified as everyone else at the carnage. It does seem a bit disingenuous, though, in view of Rubio’s voting record on gay issues, to use that as a reason for wanting to keep his job. Lest we forget, the Orlando shooting was a hate crime specifically targeted against gays, and has fought against marriage equality and gay parenting. He was against legislation banning workplace discrimination against gays. He advocates appointing Supreme Court justices that will roll back many of the advances made by the LGBT community. Even giving Rubio the benefit of the doubt on all that as he seeks a second term, the biggest question is whether he would even show up for work.

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DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying closes – 1; State candidate qualifying closes – 1; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 33; Early voting begins in primaries – 58; Primary elections – 68; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 39; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 110; Absentees sent in General Election – 103; Early voting begins in General Election — 128; General Election – 138.

THE MAKING OF PATRICK MURPHY via Jim DeFede of CBS Miami – Investigating Murphy’s top talking points touting his work as a CPA who could whip Congress into fiscal shape and his claim to have started a small business to help clean up the BP oil spill. The result? “What we found was concerning” … Murphy “exaggerated” his resume and “made claims that were misleading or outright false” … Patrick Murphy was “not a small-business owner” … Murphy’s supposed small business, Coastal Environmental Services, was “controlled and financed” by his wealthy father, who purchased a business already doing cleanup … Despite Murphy’s claim to have “several” contracts, neither Patrick Murphy nor Coastal Environmental Services “were awarded a single contract to clean up oil in the Gulf” … Murphy was quickly left with four oil skimmers “but no work” and the vessels have “not generated a penny of revenue” in six years. The (actual) CPA hired by CBS Miami to review Murphy’s financial documents said that the single document Murphy provided doesn’t provide “any picture of the financial health or operations of the company.” Despite Murphy’s claims to have turned a modest profit, any profits Coastal Environmental Services made have been spent on fees to store the boats, and the “company” is now operating at a loss every month. Murphy built his first campaign for Congress around his supposed experience as a certified public accountant, but he took his CPA exam in Colorado because it was easier to pass – and still had to take the exam nine times. Murphy’s CPA license was never valid in Florida, and his title at the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche was actually “Audit Assistant.”


CARLOS LOPEZ CANTERA ENDS SENATE BID, ENDORSES RUBIO via the Sunshine State News – Lopez-Cantera met with Rubio last week after the jihadist terrorist attack in Orlando and urged his friend to run for a second term … with reports out that Rubio was running for reelection, Lopez-Cantera ended his Senate bid. “I want to thank all of my supporters in this campaign, and I want to congratulate and thank Marco for his decision to pursue re-election to the U.S. Senate,” Lopez-Cantera said. “As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be. Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Governor Scott focusing on Florida … I spent nearly a year on an incredible journey campaigning for this race and I know firsthand the investment of time, energy and resources that go into this, but this race is bigger than any one person.”

RON DESANTIS ENDS SENATE BID, PURSUES REELECTION TO CONGRESS via the Sunshine State News – DeSantis becomes the third Republican to leave the race in recent days … “Marco Rubio’s announcement changes the contours of the U.S. Senate race in Florida,” said DeSantis. “As a well-known incumbent, Senator Rubio is a strong bet to win what will be a pivotal U.S. Senate race in a challenging political environment. Casey and I are grateful for the support we have received across Florida and throughout the country and plan to continue the fight for limited government principles and a strong national defense.” DeSantis will run for the seat he currently holds. “In light of the Rubio development, I can best advance the cause by running for reelection to the U.S. House in the 6th Congressional District, where I can continue protecting taxpayers, promoting economic growth, helping our veterans and supporting our military,” DeSantis announced.

BRANDON PATTY WITHDRAWS FROM CD 6 RACE via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Patty, in many respects, is cut from the same cloth as Ron DeSantis, the incumbent Republican in Florida’s 6th Congressional District. A young, telegenic Republican with a strong sense of America taking an assertive role in the foreign policy sphere, it was and is easy to see Patty as a rising star in the Florida and national GOP. With DeSantis out of the Senate race and running for re-election, Patty revealed he would not be running for the Republican nomination in CD 6 after all. In terms of timing, having to announce this is bittersweet. Rubio was slated to headline a D.C. fundraiser for Patty this evening, which would have been a boost to his campaign in a crowded CD 6 field. Now, however, Patty is suspending his campaign and endorsing DeSantis for re-election and Rubio for Senate. And the festivities in Washington will be a “thank you” event.

DAVID SANTIAGO TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION IN HD 27 INSTEAD OF CONGRESS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – With DeSantis announcing his intention to run for re-election in Florida’s 6th Congressional District instead of running for Rubio’s Senate seat, that prompted Santiago to rethink the move to the U.S. House. William McBride, a Republican who sought to replace Santiago in the Florida House, has already dropped his bid.

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GREG EVERS’ AR-15 GIVEAWAY IS STILL A GO via The Associated Press – The Baker Republican, who’s running in the GOP primary for the open seat in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, announced he’s giving away a “Homeland Defender” AR-15 rifle July 4. But Monday night, Facebook pulled a post about the contest because it was “promoting graphic violence.” The Evers campaign says someone in California reported the post. Campaign spokesman Brian Burgess stated that they had anticipated somebody would object and that all contest entries have been saved. Anyone in Evers’ district can still enter by liking Evers’ Facebook page or by liking and sharing one of Evers’ posts. Burgess said the original post had more than 1,100 likes and nearly 900 shares.

DEMOCRATS FIND A CHALLENGER AGAINST JOHN MICA via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Stephanie Murphy, a Rollins College business professor from Winter Park, will run for the District 7 congressional seat with the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Murphy, 37, was a strategy consultant with Deloitte Consulting and worked in the U.S. Department of Defense while earning a Masters degree in foreign service, international finance and commerce at Georgetown University. Citing her business and foreign policy backgrounds, Murphy criticized the Republican-controlled Congress for not passing “common sense” gun control legislation. Murphy also spoke about her family’s background, leaving a Vietnamese refugee camp when she was 6 months old and settling in northern Virginia. She said her parents worked as laborers while she and her brother became the first of her family to go to college.

PAIGE KREEGEL NOT RUNNING IN CD 19, ENDORSES CHAUNCEY GOSS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Kreegel, a former state representative, announced this week he has decided not to run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Curt Clawson. Kreegel, who ran in 2012 and in a special election in 2014, said “now is not the right time” for U.S. House run. Kreegel said Florida’s 19th Congressional District needs “stable, honest, hardworking representation.” He said voters need to “stop looking to ‘outsiders’ who we don’t know and who inevitably disappoint us by their actions.” In announcing his decision not to run, Kreegel threw his support behind Sanibel Island Republican Chauncey Goss. Goss ran for the seat in 2012.

FLORIDA CHAMBER ENDORSES DOUG HOLDER FOR SD 23 – “As a state representative … Holder consistently championed free-enterprise, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce believes he will bring that same spirit for free enterprise to the Florida Senate,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Strategy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce … According to a news release, Holder’s “strong pro-jobs, pro-business commitment to helping create private-sector jobs and moving Florida’s economy in the right direction” are among the key reasons he has secured the Florida Chamber’s endorsement. During his tenure in the Florida House of Representatives, Holder consistently earned an “A” on the Florida Chamber’s annual Legislative Report Card.

MY TAKE: BECAUSE OF DONALD TRUMP, ‘WINTER IS COMING’ FOR DOWN BALLOT FLORIDA REPUBLICANS, NEW POLL SHOWS via Florida Politics – If [Tuesday’s] new Quinnipiac poll of the presidential race in Florida was a foreboding sign for the Trump campaign that Winter is Coming … polling numbers out of Congressional District 27 in Miami should be proof positive; Whitewalkers are already here. Even a seemingly safe incumbent, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, should be stricken with fear. Dig a little deeper, and the results are even worse for Trump and fellow Republicans down the ticket. Trump has a 54 percent negative rating with Cubans, with fully a third saying they won’t vote for him, brutal numbers in a critical voting bloc for any statewide Republican coalition in Florida. He’s likewise losing by almost 35 points (57-23) with independent voters, many of whom are Hispanic in this district. Not only is the Republican brand damaged badly with Hispanics, but Democrats are also actually quite popular as well. Obama has a 62 percent favorable rating, and Hillary is right behind him with 59 percent. Little Marco, meanwhile, is barely keeping his head above water at 51-46. (I was frankly surprised Rubio’s numbers were as high as they were.)

LOOK FOR ST. PETE TRIAL ATTORNEY AUGIE RIBEIRO TO ENTER SD 19 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Agostinho J. Ribeiro, who serves as the chief executive officer of the law firm of Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith based in Danbury, Connecticut and St. Petersburg, will reportedly enter the state Senate District 19 race. His entry would certainly shake up the race, where Democrats Ed NarainBetty Reed and Darryl Rouson are competing … The winner of the Democratic primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning district is expected to win the race in November. Ribeiro is a New York City native, and his law firm represented victims of the World Trade Center terrorists attacks pro bono after the 9/11 attacks. They also represented St. Pete Beach in the BP oil spill disaster.

— “Jeff Brandes draws a challenger for SD 24” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

THIRD DEMOCRAT ENTERS SD 29 RACE TO FACE KEVIN RADER, IRV SLOSBERG via Florida Politics – Mindy Koch, the president of the Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach, filed to run in SD 29 … turning the contest into a three-way primary. So far, Rader is the only candidate to qualify for the ballot and also holds the campaign finance lead with about $39,000 in his campaign account as of May 31. Slosberg, who filed for the seat last week, brought about $28,000 in cash on hand when he transferred his campaign from the House to the Senate, and he’ll need about $1,800 of that money to pay the qualifying fee to get on the ballot. Koch will also need to mail a check quickly, as the deadline to qualify is noon Friday.

— “Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns to run for Gwen Margolis state senate seat” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

DEMOCRAT ANDREW KORGE SWITCHES SENATE DISTRICTS, UPENDING 2 MIAMI RACES via Kristen Clark and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Instead of challenging Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores in District 39, Korge will now run for the District 40 seat … His decision sets up a three-way Democratic primary in District 40 against former state representative Ana Rivas Logan and current state Sen. Dwight Bullard and all-but-hands Flores her re-election unless Democrats can produce a viable replacement to challenge her with two days left in the qualifying period. “As a third-generation Miamian, it has long been a dream of mine to serve my community as a member of the Florida Senate, to create a better future for our children, to improve public schools and protect college students, and create high-wage jobs for hard-working, middle-class families,” Korge said in a statement. “District 40, where I grew up and spent half of my life, offers the best opportunity to do that.” Korge had been in a bitter battle since February against Flores and even persuaded a temporary Democratic challenger, Daniel Horton, to change races this spring so Korge could take her on alone.

KORGE OFFERED DWIGHT BULLARD $25K TO PULL OUT OF SD 40 RACE via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News – In fact, the $25,000 offer was the second of a number of proposals Korge made to Bullard to secure what he hoped would be a clear path to the Florida Senate in November. Bullard said Wednesday he would have none of it and turned Korge down flat. Leslie Wimes, president and CEO of the Democratic African American Women’s Caucus, confirmed Korge’s effort to “buy” Bullard out of the way. “Andrew Korge called me, we had a conversation and he told me he offered Dwight $25,000 to move to District 38,” Wimes said Wednesday.

HAPPENING TODAY: State Reps. Chris SprowlsKathleen PetersLarry AhernJamie Grant and Chris Latvala are holding a joint fundraiser in their re-election bids for House District 65, HD 69, HD 66, HD 64 and HD 67 respectively. Event begins 11 a.m. at TopGolf, 10690 Palm River Road in Tampa.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***

FLORDA WILDLIFE OFFICIALS VOTE AGAINST 2016 BEAR HUNT via the Associated Press – After nearly seven hours of comments Wednesday from staff and the public, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 4-3 against a 2016 hunt. They also voted to have staff gather more information so that they could vote again next year on whether to hold a 2017 hunt.

OFFICIALS BELIEVE THEY CAPTURED ALLIGATOR WHO KILLED BOY AT DISNEY via the Associated Press – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a news release Wednesday that it has suspended alligator trapping activities in the area. The release says officials have based their conclusions on expert analyses and observations by staff with extensive experience in investigating fatal alligator bites. A total of six alligators were removed.

PERSONNEL NOTE: FORMER DEO CHIEF JESSE PANUCCIO NOW WITH FOLEY & LARDNER LAW FIRM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The hire, confirmed by partner Jonathan Kilman … will have Panuccio based in South Florida and working out of Foley’s Miami and Washington, D.C. offices. Panuccio, a magna cum laude Harvard Law grad, is also a partner and has a regulatory and appellate practice consisting of “high-stakes litigation,” Kilman said. “He won’t be lobbying but I can promise you he will make his presence felt in Tallahassee.”

FDOT NAMES FIRST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SUNRAIL via Anjali Fluker of the Orlando Business Journal – Nicola Liquori of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise … FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold named Liquori to the newly created position, which will involve all aspects of SunRail, including financial services, construction, program management, operations and maintenance, rail corridor and safety. Liquori, who currently is deputy executive director and chief financial officer of the Turnpike Enterprise, steps in at what is being called a “critical time” for SunRail, as construction of the rail line’s Phase 2 South extension into Osceola County is underway and set to begin operations in 2018. Additionally, FDOT is hard at work putting together plans for an estimated $175 million-$225 million direct link for SunRail to connect to Orlando International Airport.

MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE COOKMAN, PUBLIX FOUNDERS MAKE DC STATUE FINALS via the Orlando Sentinel – Either the African-American woman who founded what’s now Bethune-Cookman University, the founder of Publix supermarkets or the woman credited with saving the Everglades will replace a Confederate general’s statue that represents Florida in the U.S. Capitol … three Floridians were selected by a committee that reviewed 130 recommendations made by the public. The Legislature will now choose which will replace the statue of Edmund Kirby SmithMary McLeod Bethune, who founded Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904, was the unanimous choice of the four-member committee on its first vote. Bethune’s school eventually became the historically black university that bears her name in Daytona Beach. Publix founder George Washington Jenkins and “The Everglades: River of Grass” author Marjory Stoneman Douglaswere the pick of two members. No other person received more than one vote and the committee immediately agreed to accept the three without a second vote. Bethune was also by far the top pick of a public survey conducted ahead of the meeting.


Matt BrockelmanDeno Hicks, Southern Strategy Group: School District of Clay County

Roy Leonard Clark III, : Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Laurel Lockett, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt: Florida Brownfields Association

William Nicholson Spicola: Executive Office of the Governor

NO NEED FOR DISCUSSION: LOBBYIST’S 12 YEAR TENURE AS HOMELESS CHIEF IS EXTENDED via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald – In a letter last month, Ron Book predicted he had the votes on the County Commission to extend his tenure as chairman of Miami-Dade’s homeless board. Tuesday proved him right. Not only did no commissioner vote against the term-limit waiver, none asked that it be pulled from a list of items set for automatic approval. Book, a prominent lobbyist with Miami-Dade itself as a client, did not attend the meeting … Book has held the Homeless Trust chairmanship post since 2004, and exerts enough authority over the county’s homeless agency that he’s considered the de facto head of the tax-funded operation. In interviews, he has described holding veto power over day-to-day spending and housing decisions made by the paid staff. He also serves as the only authorized spokesman for the department. His tenure now faces more scrutiny than ever on the heels of Washington rejecting $6 million in homeless grants for Miami-Dade, the biggest denial in the county’s history and part of a nationwide tightening of how the Department of Housing and Urban Development renews funding requests. Book has served on the county board since its founding in the 1990s, despite county rules limiting members to two consecutive three-year terms. County commissioners routinely waive term limits to keep members on county boards, but Book’s longevity as chairman and his active role with the agency make him unique in Miami-Dade government.

RSA CONSULTING, SUSKEY CONSULTING TAPPED TO LOBBY FOR PSTA via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics – Members of the board that oversees Pinellas transportation voted to hire Alan Suskey and RSA Consulting to represent the county’s transit authority before the Florida Legislature. The vote was unanimous, with Ben Diamond abstaining. Diamond is running for the state House District 68 seat and wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety should he win. Staff members of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority had recommended that board members hire RSA and Suskey for a three-year contract with two one-year extensions. The two would be paid up to $7,500 a month, or about $90,000 annually, including expenses for their services. But PSTA board member Janet Long … was hesitant to offer that long a contract to RSA because its employees had never worked for the board before. She said she was somewhat comforted because Suskey was part of the deal. Suskey is known to board members because he represented the PSTA when the board contracted with GrayRobinson. She suggested a two-year contract with options for renewal instead. Other members agreed. The PSTA lobbying contract came up earlier this year when the contract with GrayRobinson expired.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Leadership Florida’s annual meeting begins with a service project benefiting at-risk Orlando students. Volunteer Florida and Leadership Florida are encouraging attendees to donate a new or gently-used elementary school book during the annual meeting through Sunday, June 26, which will be donated to the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. Connect Florida, a signature program of Leadership Florida, will assist with the project. Earlier this week, Volunteer Florida and Leadership Florida announced that best-selling author and Florida resident Brad Meltzer has donated some of his children’s books to #BringABook. For more information on the Leadership Florida annual meeting, visit

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to our favorite Weatherford, Drew. Belated wishes to Amy Young.

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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