Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 6.24.16 – What surprises lurk on the last day of Qualifying Week?

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.


… what last-minute filings will surprise observers of Florida politics?

Although, after this past week, what’s left that could happen? Marco Rubio’s decision to run for re-election has set off dominoes in a half-dozen directions, with several candidates going back to their political futures they held a year ago.

Stip joint king Joe Redner filed to run for the Florida Senate. In another Senate district, one candidate is alleging another candidate attempted to bribe him him out of the race. And in what is expected to be the mostly expensive state Senate race, Republican Anitere Flores has finally drawn a credible Democratic opponent.

Yesterday, one congressional candidate dropped out and endorsed his opponent. The Democrats finally found someone to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica, while prospective CD 19 candidate Paige Kreegel announced he would not be running for the seat.

Meanwhile, dozens of incumbents are nervously watching the clock, hoping, scratch that, praying that they do not draw a challenger in the final hours.

Be sure to check often for the latest updates today.

DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying closes – 0; State candidate qualifying closes – 0; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 32; Early voting begins in primaries – 57; Primary elections – 67; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 38; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 109; Absentees sent in General Election – 102; Early voting begins in General Election — 127; General Election – 137.

BIG, NEW SUPER PAC WILL MOBILIZE FLORIDA VOTERS via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – For Florida’s Future, a joint super PAC and 501(c)4 organization, aims to highlight and hold accountable candidates for their words and records on specific issues including climate change, student debt and retirement security. The group is affiliated with the national For Our Future PAC led by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer and several prominent labor unions. It aims to raise and spend $50-million in the top battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin. “This election season has proven that nothing can be taken for granted, so our work is focused on empowering and expanding the efforts of existing organizations and coalitions to ensure that the Trump/Rubio ticket and their friends are held accountable for what they have said and done,” said Ashley Walker, a top Democratic consultant in Florida, leading the Sunshine State effort. “By calling out where Trump, Rubio and their allies stand on the issues, we can build an organization that will not just be united in November, but will continue working in 2017 and beyond.” The effort is being put together by Steyer’s NextGen Climate; the American Federation of State; County and Municipal Employees; the American Federation of Teachers; and the National Education Association.

PRIORITIES USA LAUNCHES ‘STOP TRUMP/STOP HATE’ CAMPAIGN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The super PAC backing Hillary Clinton is focusing on millennials with a new multi-million-dollar ad campaign. Priorities USA launched its Stop Trump/Stop Hate campaign … aimed at millennial voters — typically those between the ages of 18 and 34 — in key swing states, including Florida … [with] a 30-second spot called “Dante” … backed by a $500,000 ad buy and will run on pre-roll, Facebook, Instagram and Pandora. The advertisement is expected to air in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina until the convention. “Donald Trump’s mocking of someone with a disability was a troubling look into who he is as a person and proof that he lacks the character necessary to be president of the United States,” said Guy Cecil, the chief strategist at Priorities USA … “The ‘Stop Hate’ campaign is about standing up to hateful bullies like Donald Trump who mock the disabled, call women pigs, and try to divide us because as Dante says, we need a president who inspires us, and that’s not Donald Trump.”

RICK SCOTT BUCKS REPUBLICAN LEADERS, DOESN’T BACK MARCO RUBIO via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott is instead publicly encouraging Carlos Beruff, a Bradenton developer with close ties to the governor, to challenge Rubio in the Republican primary. “Carlos Beruff is a good friend of mine, a businessman and an outsider to politics,” Scott said in a statement. “The voters of Florida deserve the opportunity to consider his candidacy alongside Senator Rubio and make their own decision.” The statement about Beruff is not far off from the governor’s talking points ahead of the presidential preference primary in March: Scott publicly supported Donald Trump in a USA Today op-ed, but he refused to say he was endorsing the then-Republican frontrunner. Asked if he would back Beruff, Scott adviser Melissa Stone reiterated a line in Scott’s statement: “Florida Republicans will pick the nominee on their own.”

JEB BUSH THROWS HIS SUPPORT BEHIND MARCO RUBIO IN U.S. SENATE BID via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics –  Bush took to Twitter to announce his support, saying he is “joining many good conservatives in supporting” Rubio. He continued by saying there is “nothing more important than” keeping a Republican majority in the Senate. Both men were among the more than a dozen Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for president. During the campaign, Bush had a few harsh words, including telling him he should be showing up to work. “I’m a constituent of the Senator, and I helped him, and I expected he would do constituent services, which meant he would show up to work,” said Bush during the CNBC debate in October. “When you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.”

NEW MARCO RUBIO SUPER PAC STARTS UP, BLASTS PATRICK MURPHY via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The 30-second spot from the Florida First Project, titled “Murphy Says,” borrows from a CBS4-Miami report that questioned Murphy‘s resume as a certified public accountant and owner of a small business that helped clean up the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Murphy’s campaign has disputed the report as inaccurate. Florida First is stocked with advisers from Rubio’s unsuccessful presidential campaign and a prior super PAC that supported him … The group said it has bought no airtime for the ad and that, for now, it “will be featured in a statewide digital and integrated social media campaign.” The web ad weaves in its own narration with the voice of CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede, to make three separate allegations. “Murphy was not a small-business owner,” says DeFede said in the report … reporting that Murphy’s business, Coastal Environmental, was “controlled and operated by Coastal Construction,” a large company owned by his father. The second charge alleges that “neither Patrick Murphy nor Coastal Environmental Services were awarded a single contract to clean up oil in the Gulf.” The ad also excerpts a line from CBS4, saying “Murphy has never been a licensed CPA in Florida.”

2 OF RUBIO’S EARLIEST BACKERS NOW DIVIDED OVER HIS CAMPAIGN via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – They were his earliest believers, situated in the heart of Charlie Crist country. Tony DiMatteo and Bill Bunting engineered the straw polls that helped Rubiogain momentum against Crist. But as Rubio mounts another campaign, DiMatteo and Bunting have decidedly different views. Rubio called Bunting yesterday to ask for his help getting into gun shows, Bunting’s specialty. “He wants to make his case on how important the Senate is going to be on Supreme Court justices,” said Bunting of Pasco County. “As soon as he picks up the phone and starts calling people, I think within minutes people will be on board.” Rubio won’t be calling DiMatteo. “If it’s between Rubio and a Democrat, I won’t vote in that race,” the Pinellas County Republican said. DiMatteo has a grudge against Rubio because Rubio did not follow through on what DiMatteo said was a promise to help him become state GOP chairman. “He’s a damn liar and I have no respect for him at all. Everything I say is on the record, by the way.” DiMatteo says Rubio’s re-election bid is about one thing: “He wants to be president. He’s extremely self-serving.” But he thinks Rubio will win. “If (CarlosBeruff and (ToddWilcox stay in there, I think Marco wins easily. If one decides to back the other, leaving one outsider versus Marco, then it’s different.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST PATRICK MURPHY, ALLEGES STRAW DONOR SCHEME via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The complaint, filed with the Federal Election Commission … calls on federal elections officials to investigate what it calls “a highly suspicious network of contributors” to Murphy. The organization goes on to say the “evidence strongly indicates” contributions were “made in the name of another, straw donors and corresponding reporting violations.” The complaint also includes Charlie Crist and his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign. “Specifically, these donors have no prior contribution history other than the out-of-state contributions or closely-clustered dates; and the only apparent connection between these donors is a wealthy, close ally of Patrick Murphy named Ibrahim Al-Rashid,” the complaint reads. The Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC that aims “to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority.” The group — which is run by Steven Law, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff — is set to support Sen. Marco Rubio in his re-election bid.

MURPHY CAMPAIGN PUSHES BACK ON CBS MIAMI STORY ON EXAGGERATED BUSINESS BACKGROUND via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Murphy’s campaign is responding to a critical report claiming the Jupiter Representative has exaggerated business claims in his resume, that aired on WFOR-TV, Miami’s CBS affiliate by reporter Jim DeFede. In a statement … campaign spokesman Joshua Karp writes: “CBS Miami’s deeply false story is completely inaccurate in several claims,” adding that “there have already been seven corrections to their story.” A spokesman for WFOR-TV, Lori Conrad [said] “we stand by our reporting.” The story reported on what has been unearthed in other publications — that Murphy is not a licensed CPA in Florida. It also indicated he had to take his CPA exam nine times to be registered to work in the field in Colorado. The story also said that, unlike his frequent claims, Murphy has never been a small-business owner. DeFede reported Murphy was the vice president of Coastal Environmental Services, but reports it was actually a subsidiary of his father’s Coastal Construction Company and not his own small business that he created. “Patrick is a licensed CPA,” Karp says in the response … “He was an accountant and auditor at Deloitte, earned his CPA license while working there, and continued to work there auditing Fortune 500 companies after earning his license. CBS Miami’s sensational claim is completely false … CBS Miami’s report shows … Murphy owned an environmental cleanup company, owned skimming vessels, and had contracts to clean up oil. Our campaign even shared the cleanup contracts with an investigative reporter, contracts that America Rising was so sure didn’t exist they created a whole iPhone app about them.” America Rising is a political action committee that produces opposition research on Democrats.

— “Murphy’s campaign responds, says CBS Miami story ‘deeply false’ – but is it?” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

JEFF MORAN DROPS OUT, BACKS KEN SUKHIA IN CD 2 via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Moran’s move cuts the four-way GOP candidate pool down to three, and helps Sukhia consolidate his support in the more-populous eastern half of the sprawling eastern Panhandle district. “Spending as much time on the campaign trail as I have, you get to know the other candidates pretty well. I’ve gotten to know Ken Sukhia, and I’m endorsing him today because of his personal integrity,” said Moran. “His actions match his words. He has such a passion for conservative causes, there is no doubt in my mind that he will go to Washington and fight with integrity for all of us … Dropping out of the race was a tough decision, especially so because I think it’s still anyone’s race to win. But I am drawn to public service, and I’m going to do everything I can to find a way to serve in elective office in the very near future.”

FRANCIS ROONEY SAYS HE WILL WORK TO ‘WIPE ISIS OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH’ IN NEW CD 19 AD via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In the new advertisement, Rooney says the country is “at war with radical Islamic terrorism.” The 30-second spot, called “We are at War,” features clips of newscasters talking about the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. “The brutal attack in Orlando was yet another wake-up call. ISIS is hell-bent on killing innocent Americans,” the Naples Republican says … “In Congress, I’ll fight back against Barack Obama’s senseless defense cuts to help restore American leadership and to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth.” The advertisement is the second one Rooney has released since jumping into the race to replace Curt Clawson in Congress. This is Rooney’s first time running for elected office, and he’s expected to spend a significant amount of money on advertising this election cycle.

JOE REDNER FILES TO RUN AS AN INDEPENDENT IN SENATE DISTRICT 18 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Adult club impresario and progressive activist Redner is once again running for office, this time in the Senate District 18 race that features Republican Dana Young and Democrat Bob Buesing battling it out. He calls Young a “typical, no-caring Republican,” and says that while he thinks Buesing is a nice man, he believes the left needs someone more confrontational to serve in Tallahassee. “Confrontation brings notice, it makes people aware of what’s going on,” he said … “Too many times you find your state senator voted for or against something, and it’s way too late.” Redner … says he cares deeply about protecting the environment, specifically mentioning Lake Okeechobee and the St. John’s River, as well as expanding solar power in the Sunshine State. He also says the underfunding of education and the issue of guns are big issues for him, but then again he says, “I think every time I open the paper I get a goddamned issue,” adding that “somebody needs to stop that whole friggin’ thing. Nobody will protest what’s going on up there,” he says.

— “Trying to scare away Democratic rivals, Anitere Flores reveals more union support” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

SAVE THE DATE: Estero Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues is hosting a fundraiser Monday, June 27, for his re-election bid in House District 76. Event begins 5 p.m. at Andrews Capital Bar & Grill, 228 South Adams St. in Tallahassee.

2018 WATCH — JACK SEILER SETS SIGHTS ON ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Fort Lauderdale Mayor Seiler, a Democrat, is letting people know he intends to run for an office that has been in Republican hands since 2002, the year another Broward County politician, Bob Butterworth, left office. “I’m leaning heavily toward running for attorney general,” Seiler told the Times/Herald. “First and foremost, you’ve got to restore the public servant approach to elected office. I think the attorney general’s office can be more active than it is currently, and more focused on making sure Floridians’ rights are protected.” Seiler … was elected mayor in 2009 and re-elected in 2012 and 2015. He says the timing is right for him to run in 2018 because his youngest child will be off to college. He was a member of the Florida House from 2000 to 2008. Under his tenure as mayor, he has cut taxes and attracted jobs. The city’s skyline and world famous beach has continued to expand, at times reviving a perennial debate about overdevelopment in a city with many active homeowners’ associations. Seiler’s tenure has not been without controversy. Two years ago, he voted against a city same sex marriage resolution, saying marriage is not an issue regulated by the city, which he said “absolutely and unconditionally” treats all marriages equally.

FLORIDA DIVIDED OVER TRANSGENDERS AND BATHROOMS via the Sunshine State News –  A new [Quinnipiac University] poll shows Florida is divided on which bathrooms transgenders should use but against the idea of forcing public schools to allow transgendered students to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with. Asked if transgenders should be allowed to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with, 48 percent of Floridians say yes while 44 percent are against the idea. There’s a major partisan gap on the matter with 27 percent of Republicans saying yes and 63 percent against it. Democrats go the opposite direction with 68 percent of them supporting transgenders using bathrooms of the gender they identify with while 28 percent are against it. Voters outside the major parties are more divided with 48 percent of them supporting transgenders using bathrooms of the gender they identify with while 42 percent are against it. The poll finds other major divides in Florida on this matter. Whites, voters younger than 50 and women generally support allowing transgenders to use bathrooms of the gender they identify with while non-whites, males and older voters break the other way. But Florida voters are against a bathroom mandate on public schools with a majority–54 percent–opposed to the idea while 37 percent support the idea. Republicans, voters outside the major parties, voters 35 and older, males and both whites and non-whites stand against the idea. Democrats and voters younger than 35 are far more supportive. Female voters are more divided with 44 percent supporting a mandate on public schools over bathroom policies while 47 percent are against it.

RICK SCOTT AUTHORIZES $26 MILLION IN EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR ZIKA via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – With a continuing deadlock on federal funding for the Zika virus … Scott used his emergency executive authority to provide $26.2 million in state funding to prepare and prevent the spread of the virus in Florida … [From] the statement from his office: “The $26.2 million from the state’s General Revenue fund will only be released as needed and will be spent solely for the purpose of Zika preparedness, including: Mosquito surveillance and abatement; Training for mosquito control technicians; Enhanced laboratory capacity; and The purchase of CDC Zika Prevention Kits … Scott has directed Surgeon General Dr. Philip to oversee the process of allocating these state funds which will go directly to the efforts of Florida’s county health departments, local mosquito districts and laboratories based on their needs to combat Zika. The federal government has only allocated $153,844 for epidemiology and lab support, $500,000 for seven counties for mosquito control and $40,856 in lab supplies and personnel. If additional federal funds are eventually allocated to the state, it will be used to reimburse any state General Revenue already spent.”

APPOINTED: Ambassador John Rood to Florida Prepaid College Board.

APPOINTEDColonel Neal CarbaughSimon Canasi and Ernie Trichler to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board.


Barney Bishop, Barney Bishop Consulting: Jackson county School Board

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: Florida Association for Care and Ethical Services

Stuart Fiertz: Cheyne Capital US

Nick IarossiChristopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Martin County

Ron Watson, Watson Strategies: Florida Renal Coalition


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Analyst Lawrence Miller talks about 2016 national politics.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS Miami: U.S. Sen. Rubio.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman, Manatee County Democratic Party Chair Sheryl Wilson, Hillsborough County Republican Treasurer Bob Emerson, and Eckerd College VP Kelly Kirschner.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay: Former state Rep. Betty Reed, candidate for a Bay Area state Senate seat.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan on the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting, plus PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim by Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton, and which candidate women actually prefer.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon, Ed Moore, and Bob McClure of the James Madison Institute.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Florida State College at Jacksonville Cynthia Bioteau, Duval County Democrat Lisa King, and Eric Friday of Florida Carry.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Blake Dowling and Tara Price.

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.

Latest from Peter

Go to Top