Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 6.29.17 – James Grant’s manifesto; CRC what?; Tom Lee for CFO; Chris King picks up first legislative endorsement; Happy birthday, Sarah Bascom

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 and Jim Rosica.

Happy 37th birthday to Sarah Bascom.

Too often, Sarah gets the blame for some of my antics. But the reality is we are actually on opposite political sides more often than not. Which means we must have a genuine friendship, otherwise why would she put up with all that? Which makes me a very lucky person. Because Sarah is a highly respected, trusted counselor to legislative leaders and CEOs. Sarah is a friend to so many others, all of whom probably feel as lucky as I do to have her in our lives.

Have a great day, Bascom.

Team BCC with Peter Schorsch at a campaign press conference for David Jolly.


With the election for the next House Speaker at the end of this week, state Rep. Jamie Grant released his personal mission statement, “A Commitment to Florida’s Future.”

The subtitle of the Hillsborough County Republican’s “principles of conservative leadership”: “Advancing a bold, innovative, and collaborative agenda that will keep Florida the greatest state in the Union to raise a family, run a business, and live.”

Grant is said to be in hot contention for the 2022-24 speakership with Jacksonville Republican Paul Renner.

Rep. Chris Sprowls is congratulated by Rep. James Grant after his bill to regulate transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft passed a second reading Tuesday April 4, 2017 at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo credit: AP/Phil Sears

“It is no secret that we will soon choose the leader of our class and in doing so, entrust someone with equally tremendous amounts of influence and responsibility,” Grant wrote. “… (T)he beginning of leadership is the relinquishment of individual control and the empowerment of the entire team.”

“… The choice before all of us on June 30th is one that will entrust someone with the responsibility of collaboratively crafting a vision and leading us through multiple election cycles,” he said.

“If entrusted with those responsibilities, I am personally and fundamentally committed to leadership that unifies our Members so we move, speak, and succeed as a team,” Grant added. “A team can only reach its true potential when the strengths of each individual are freely highlighted while the weaknesses are strategically covered by another’s strength.”

“… Together, we can accomplish more than legislation. We can build a legacy.”

That legacy, the tech-entrepreneur Grant wrote, includes “data-driven government reform” and “end(ing) the property tax addiction” by moving to “fair and flat consumption taxes,” which “are the least economically destructive and arbitrary way to fund the necessary functions of Florida’s government.”

He also wants to “tear down regulatory barriers” to make “Florida the launchpad for the space economy.”

Grant also wrote of red-meat Republican concerns, such as gun rights, protecting veterans, continuing tort reform efforts, and clamping down on abortion.

Among his, dare we say, more progressive-sounding planks were campaign reform, saying “we spend too much time chasing campaign funds for political committees, and as a result, public disgust and distrust are mounting. It’s time for transparency in our political committees and time for us to own up to the messages we fund.”

And Grant said it’s time to rethink changes to the criminal justice system, avoiding the “reflexive approach to sentencing and punishment that costs more each year and fails to stop the cycle of crime.”

“We must stop the revolving-door prison cycle in Florida, keep the worst-of-the-worst off our streets, and divert those who don’t belong in the system in the first place,” he said.

Speaker’s race updates for dummies:

– “Brevard’s Rep. Randy fine drops out of House speaker race” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY

– “Paul Renner leading pack; House speaker’s race comes down to Friday vote” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Florida Supreme Court hears from Aramis Ayala, Rick Scott on death-penalty cases” via Gal Tziperman Lotan and Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel Roy Austin Jr., the Washington, D.C.-based attorney representing Ayala in the case, argued Scott overstepped his constitutional bounds by taking the cases away from her. “What [Scott] has decided here is that he can simply take a case away, and he doesn’t have to give a reason,” Austin said. Florida Solicitor General Amit Agarwal argued for Scott, saying that because Ayala announced she would never seek the death penalty under any circumstances, she was not upholding the law. “Is it really the case that every single elected prosecutor in this state may adopt a blanket policy of refusing to adopt or enforce any state law with which the prosecutor disagrees with as a matter of policy?” Agarwal asked. “And is there anything the state can do about it?” Liberal and conservative justices alike asked questions about establishing a precedent allowing a state attorney to opt not to seek the death penalty.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will attend the groundbreaking for Master Sgt. George Vera’s new home at 10:30 a.m. at 4858 Lago Vista Circle in Land O’Lakes. Vera, a veteran, will receive a mortgage-free home from Building Homes for Heroes.

77% of voters say they are unaware of CRC —  A new survey from Florida TaxWatch found Florida voters are unaware of the Constitution Revision Commission. According to the survey, 77 percent of respondents said they had seen, read or heard nothing at all about recent Constitution Revision Commission meetings. Another 13 percent of respondents said they had seen, read or heard a little about the group’s activities. Of the 10 percent of Floridians who said they have had heard a lot, some, or a little about the CRC, 75 percent said they had not read or seen any editorials on the group or its activities. Despite there being a lack of knowledge on group, when asked about the concept of the CRC, more than 50 percent of respondents support the idea of convening a commission every 20 years to revise and update the Commission.


When Gov. Scott stopped in Tampa this week to introduce newly appointed CFO Jimmy Patronis to the crowd, Republican Sen. Tom Lee was among the people in the crowd to welcome them, reports Steve Bousquet with the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

That’s notable, since Lee’s interest in the Cabinet position is well-known.

“I got a chance to congratulate him, which is something I thought I should do,” Lee told the Times/Herald. “I’m happy for him. It’s a real honor to be appointed by the governor. But as to all of the speculation, I’m going to defer to another day.”

House Speaker Rep. Richard Corcoran listens to Sen. Tom Lee make a point on the floor of the House Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo credit: Phil Sears.

Bousquet breaks down some of the pros and cons for Lee to run in 2018, even if Patronis runs for a four-year term:

— Pro: Lee already has about $1.9 million cash on hand in his political committee, The Conservative, which could provide a good cushion if he decides to jump in the race

— Pro: He hails from one of the largest TV markets in the state — the Tampa-St. Petersburg television market. Bousquet notes that the well-organized candidacy of Republican Ashley Moody — who is running for Attorney General and has already racked up plenty of endorsements, including Attorney General Pam Bondi — could help turnout. Meanwhile, Patronis is from Panama City, a much smaller media market.

— Con: Even though he was appointed to the position, Patronis would enter the race as an incumbent. And he’d likely have Scott’s backing and the help of Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, and the political team that goes with it.

— Con: Lee has been there, done that. He knows what it’s like to be in a tough Republican primary, running for the seat in 2006. He spent about $2.5 million to defeat Republican Randy Johnson, only to lose to Democrat Alex Sink in the general election that year.

Editorial: Scott’s poor choice for CFO” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial boardScott didn’t reach too deeply into Florida’s talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state’s new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it reflects Scott’s penchant for valuing loyalty and political expediency over competency. Scott turned to his usual B-list of supporters in appointing Patronis, a former undistinguished state legislator from the Panhandle, as CFO. The previous two chief financial officers, Jeff Atwater and Democrat Alex Sink, were former bankers who held leadership positions. Patronis helps manage a family seafood restaurant. These shameless displays of political patronage are one reason why public trust in government is near historic lows.


Democratic Governors Association targets Adam Putnam over health care — The Democratic Governors’ Association has released an advertisement urging Floridians to “tell Adam Putnam to end his silence” on the Senate’s health care proposal. The 15-second advertisement says under the GOP health care bill Floridians’ pre-existing conditions could no longer be covered and premiums for older Floridians will increase. Click on the image below to watch the video. 

Assignment editors: Putnam and Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles Thomas will make an announcement about concealed weapon licenses at 11 a.m. at the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office, 315 Court Street, 4th floor in Clearwater.

Jack Latvala: ‘It is very possible I end up announcing something in the near future’” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Sen. Jack Latvala didn’t use an appearance at the Tiger Bay Club of Southwest Florida to announce a 2018 gubernatorial bid. Then again, he didn’t use it to quash any rumors about his plans for the future. “I will say this: I have been involved in government in Tallahassee for a long time. I think I know the good and the bad, how many things happen and how to solve problems,” he said. “As I look at being term limited in the Senate, I obviously think about giving it a go and seeing what I can do. It is very possible I end up announcing something in the near future.” Latvala, the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, is believed to be considering a run for governor in 2018. If he decides to run, he’ll join Ag Putnam in the GOP race to replace Gov. Scott. … “If I do it, it’s going to be based on the same principles that I’ve conducted myself. There might be some yelling, but mostly how I conduct myself is straight talk,” he said. “If people ask me a question, I give an answer. If I give somebody my word, I keep it. I work hard, and I think that’s what we need to have in our public officials at every level. I’m not going to be the best looking candidate, I’m not gonna be the slimmest candidate, but I think there’s not many jobs in government that I couldn’t do.”

— “Senate budget chair pledges to fund mental health programs” via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News

First on #FlaPol – Nick Duran backs Chris King for Governor — Rep. Duran announced Wednesday he was endorsing Democrat Chris King in the race to replace Gov. Scott in 2018.  “Chris King is the candidate for governor who can bring a truly fresh approach to politics. His values and record as a progressive entrepreneur will energize Florida’s economy and create new opportunity for small businesses and workers across the state,” said Duran in a statement. “I’m proud to announce my endorsement of Chris King for Governor. I look forward to working with him and his team in the coming months to move our party and state forward.” Duran, a first-term state representative, represents House District 116. “Rep. Duran has been a strong advocate for some of the most pressing issues facing the community, including health care and prescription drug abuse prevention,” said King in a statement. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with him on these issues and others here in Miami and across the state so we can work together to lift up Florida’s hardworking families.”

Three state reps back Jay Fant for AG — Reps. Chuck Clemons, Jason Fischer and Bobby Payne announced Wednesday they were endorsing state Rep. Fant in his bid to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2018. Clemons and Payne represent districts that span all or part of seven counties in North Florida; while Fischer represents part of Duval County. “I’m honored to add these colleagues and friends to the list of leaders backing our campaign,” said Fant. “They are conservatives with a vision to improve our schools, create jobs, and keep us safe.  I look forward to continuing to work with them in our drive to make Florida the best economy in the world.”

José Javier Rodríguez kicks off congressional campaign talking health care, climate change — but not Trump” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — The state Senator picked the most Little Havana of scenes to kick off his campaign for Congress on Tuesday, gathering a small group of supporters outside Calle Ocho’s Domino Park as he pitched himself as the candidate to tackle big issues — and what’s expected to be a hotly contested race. “When I’m speaking with neighbors, families, residents, constituents — they’re talking to me about the fact that the residents of District 27 need access to affordable health care. And that starts with protecting the gains in the Affordable Care Act,” he said, a day after the Senate postponed a vote on legislation to undo some of former President Barack Obama‘s signature law. … Laying out his campaign platform in addition to healthcare, Rodríguez mentioned the economy and climate change, though he offered no specifics, even when pressed about what Obamacare tweaks, if any, he’d support.

Democratic state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez was in Miami, speaking here to a crowd at Little Havana’s Domino Park, about his congressional run.

Keith Perry draws first Democratic opponent in SD 8” via Florida PoliticsOlysha Eva Magruder opened up her campaign account June 22 and is, so far, the only candidate running against Perry, who served three terms in the House and runs a roofing company in Alachua County. The first-term senator is off to a good start on the fundraising trail this cycle, with just over $100,000 on hand at the end of May, but that number could easily balloon if he finds himself in a competitive race down the stretch next year. Whether Magruder is able to compete at that level remains to be seen.

First on #FlaPol –New website targets Alex Diaz de la Portilla in SD 40, calls him ‘completely unfit’ to lead” via Florida Politics — Making a Better Tomorrow has launched a new website, called the “Facts about ADLP.” The site, which is available in both English and Spanish, features a filing filled with what it calls “the evidence against Alex Diaz de la Portilla.”The website includes digital file folders labeled “supporting Obamacare-style programs,” “raising insurance rates,” “hurting our schools,” “raising taxes,” and “a career politician,” among other things. The group calls the information as “staggering evidence of how liberal and completely unfit he is to lead.” The website is the latest in a series of advertisements from Making a Better Tomorrow going after Diaz de la Portilla in Senate District 40.

Florida Chamber endorses John Newstreet in HD 44 — The Florida Chamber announced Wednesday it was endorsing Newstreet in the special election to replace Rep. Eric Eisnaugle in House District 44. “John Newstreet understands the importance of free enterprise, and is committed to standing up for jobs and economic growth. He believes in putting Florida’s long-term economy ahead of short-term political fixes, and will work to secure Florida’s future,” said Marian Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president of political strategy. 

Florida Chamber backs Mallea in HD 116 — The Florida Chamber of Commerce announced it was endorsing Republican Jose Mallea in the special election to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116. “After thoroughly interviewing the candidates, it is clear Jose Mallea has the background and experience to be a quality representative for the citizens of HD 116 from day one,” said Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president of political strategy. “It is evident he understands what is needed to move Florida forward to create jobs and opportunities for everyone. As a small business owner, Jose Mallea has a strong understanding of the importance of free enterprise to Florida’s economic prosperity. He is committed to making Florida more competitive through pro-jobs, pro-business legislation that will help secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber is proud to endorse Jose Mallea for the Florida House.” 

As ballots hit mailboxes, Miami House race hits TV airwaves” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Two Republicans running for a special Miami House seat unveiled new TV ads aimed at reaching voters who have already been getting an onslaught of campaign fliers in their mailboxes. In his ad, Daniel Perez accuses  Mallea, who helped run Marco Rubio‘s 2010 campaign, as disloyal for then working for Jeb Bush‘s 2016 presidential campaign. Before working for Rubio, Mallea worked for Bush when Bush was governor. Jose Mallea continued to try to tie himself to Trump‘s Cuba policy in the ad, released in English and Spanish. It echoes a robocall Mallea put out the day Trump announced his harder Cuba line in Miami two weeks ago. “Jose Mallea supports Donald Trump and his policy on Cuba,” says the ad, which also calls Mallea a “true conservative” who wants to “eliminate property taxes for our seniors and create better jobs.” Click on the image below to watch the ad from Mallea.

New poll shows tight St. Petersburg mayor’s race” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – St. Pete Polls released a survey showing Rick Baker beating Rick Kriseman by a 43.5 to 38.8 percentage point margin. The poll used automated calls to contact 754 St. Petersburg residents. It had a margin of error of plus/minus 3.6 percent. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the Aug. 29 primary, the race continues until Nov. 7. That appears likely at this point. Only 8.9 percent of voters remain undecided.


Florida issues school grades: F’s down, A’s and B’s up” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – The number of F schools fell by 61 percent, to 43, with 79 percent of schools earning F a year ago increasing by at least one grade level. The percentage of Florida’s schools receiving an A or B hit 57 percent, or 1,834, up from 46 percent a year ago. Among notable results in the Tampa Bay area, Melrose Elementary in Pinellas County — the state’s lowest performing school three years ago — earned a C. Two Pasco County schools that received F’s a year ago, Calusa and Hudson elementary schools, improved to C’s as well. The grading system uses 11 criteria, including learning gains and proficiency levels. It is essentially unchanged from a year ago.

FBI agent offers glimpse into big investigation” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee DemocratJoshua Doyle, a primary relief supervisor for the FBI’s office in Tallahassee, discussed the investigation with The Florida Bar News after he was hired as the organization’s new executive director. Doyle said he recently concluded a sensitive, two-year undercover operation using “an undercover technique that had not been used in my office in more than 15 years” … The article said he built a team of 20, including undercover employees, forensic accountants, intelligence analysts, auditors and support staff. The investigation had a budget of $500,000, used three covert vehicles, an airplane and several technologies to capture audio and visual evidence. The print article doesn’t say whom the FBI was investigating or whether the operation even happened in Tallahassee.

FBI interviews State Attorney Jack Campbell” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee DemocratCampbell confirmed he was interviewed by the FBI a couple of weeks ago, but he said it had nothing to do with the agency’s investigation of redevelopment deals in Tallahassee. “I feel that I was then and am now acting as a law enforcement officer, so I can’t talk about it further,” said Campbell, who was elected state attorney last year and is the son of the late Sheriff Larry Campbell. About four hours later, Campbell contacted the Democrat to clarify his statements. “We were not talking about the CRA – I don’t know anything about it,” he said, adding that the meeting “had nothing to do with government corruption or anybody who was on the list in the subpoenas.” He said the discussion involved a totally different investigation.

Southwest drops 2 Cuban routes, citing performance, ban” via The Associated Press – Dallas-based Southwest announced service to Varadero and Santa Clara, Cuba, will end Sept. 4. It will continue to fly to Havana from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. President Trump this month announced he’s reversing some of the warmer ties with Cuba that were initiated by the Obama administration. A Southwest vice president, Steve Goldberg, says the decision to drop Varadero and Santa Clara comes after an analysis of performance the past few months that leaves no clear path to sustainability in the markets. Goldberg also cited the continuing U.S. prohibition on tourism to Cuba for Americans.


“Joe Negron joins Akerman law firm as litigator” via Florida Politics – Five months after he quit a law firm job following concerns of conflicts of interest, Senate President Negron has joined the Akerman firm’s West Palm Beach office. The firm announced the move Wednesday in a press release … Negron previously worked at Akerman from 2005-10 … In January, Negron—a Stuart Republican—had resigned from the Gunster law firm, four days after Gov. Scott suggested ethics reforms affecting lawyer-legislators. At the time, Negron said his decision was spurred by Gunster’s representation of U.S. Sugar, which was named in a land acquisition provision included in a Senate measure (SB 10) aimed at protecting Lake Okeechobee from toxic runoff.

“Personnel note: Chris Hart IV joins Florida TaxWatch” via Florida PoliticsHart, who stepped down after less than three months as CEO of Enterprise Florida (EFI), has taken a post as Executive Vice President of Florida TaxWatch, the organization announced Thursday. “We are thrilled to welcome Chris as part of the Florida TaxWatch family as a key part of our research team,” TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said in a statement … Hart quit Enterprise Florida in early March, after officially coming on board that January, citing a lack of “common vision” with Gov. Scott.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Ron Book, Ronald L. Book, PA: 7-11, Inc.; Kendall Associates I, LLC.

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