Sunburn for 6/11 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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 morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the state’s dominant public affairs PR firm: Today is “Corn on the Cob Day” celebrating picnic season with one of Florida’s famous exports. Did you know the Sunshine State is America’s largest producer of Sweet Corn?


It wasn’t enough that Eric Cantor spent $1 million in the weeks leading up to the election, when his conservative foe hardly had $100,000 in his campaign coffers.

It didn’t matter that the House majority leader, 51, branded Dave Brat a liberal hack, and himself as the guardian of the Republican creed. On Tuesday night, Cantor, who was swept into power on a tea party wave, was swept out by the same movement.

Around 8 p.m., the Associated Press pronounced Cantor’s 13-year political career over. Cantor lost the primary to Brat — a university professor who will now be the GOP nominee for the 7th district of Virginia. He’ll have a big edge in November in a heavily conservative seat.

Eighty percent of the vote was in, and Brat was up 56 to 44. Cantor’s allies said in the runup to the primary that they expected him to win with more than 60 percent of the vote. For the past few months, his D.C. allies were wondering how big they could goose the margins.

At the Westin here where the victory party was to occur, the crowd was stunned — at one point, a large projector screen showing the results was turned off. Cantor was whisked upstairs.

He appeared on stage around 8:25 p.m. with his wife and political director, Ray Allen. Wearing a red tie and speaking with a raspy voice, Cantor opened his five-minute speech by saying: “Obviously we came up short.”

TWEET, TWEET: @costareports: LIGHTS ARE ON ALL OVER CAP, leadership aides/members in the building, chaos in the marble halls….



Rick Scott’s early negative advertising blitz against Charlie Crist has paid off in a big way. What was a 12 point lead for Crist over Scott last fall at 50 to 38 percent is now a tie race at 42 percent each, and the biggest thing that’s changed over the last eight months is how Floridians feel about Crist.

Scott remains an unpopular governor, although his approval ratings are not quite as bad as they have been at some times during his term. Only 39 percent of voters think he’s doing a good job to 48 percent who disapprove, up from 33 to 55 percent in late September. Those are still numbers that would generally have you headed for defeat. But Crist has seen a precipitous decline in his image with voters. Where they were closely divided on him last fall with 43 percent rating him favorably and 42 percent unfavorably, now just 32 percent of voters see him in a positive manner with his negatives spiking to 48 percent.

Crist’s image is basically unchanged with Democrats. But much of his residual appeal to Republicans has faded: where he still managed a 25 to 65 percent rating with them last fall that’s now declined to 16 favorable to 74 percent unfavorable. And he finds himself upside down with independent voters as well at 24 to 49 percent.

If there’s a silver lining for Crist, it’s that the 16 percent of voters who remain undecided are not very big on Scott. He has just a 23 percent approval rating with them to 51 percent who disapprove. The undecideds also skew female, Hispanic, and younger and they voted for Barack Obama 43 to 39 percent in 2012. Even though Crist’s support has been knocked down, Scott still hasn’t been able to build his up beyond the low 40s. It’s a toss-up but there are at least a few things that could go Crist’s way.


Crist is back with a four-point lead over Scott in the gubernatorial race, according to the latest News Channel 8 poll reports Lauren Mayk.

Scott pulled ahead for the first time in the previous poll in late May, 42 percent to Crist’s 40 percent.

But, Crist gained four points in the latest poll to sit at 44 percent, compared with Scott’s 42 percent. Eight percent of respondents said they would vote for someone else and 8 percent said they were undecided.

Crist, who has spent a lot of time in Southeast Florida, showed his strongest numbers there since the poll began tracking the race, with a 25 percent lead. Crist takes 52 percent there compared with Scott’s 27 percent.

RIDICULOUS EMAIL OF THE DAY: “NEW POLL: Rick Scott’s in trouble” from the Florida Democratic Party.


Attorney General Pam Bondi holds small leads for re-election over her potential Democratic opponents: she’s up 38 to 35 percent on George Sheldon and 40 to 33 percent on Perry Thurston.

The high level of undecideds is reflective of the amount of attention most voters pay to down-ballot offices. Forty-two percent have no opinion about Bondi’s job performance, with those who do have one evenly split at 29 percent approval and 29 percent disapproval.


Florida’s medical marijuana amendment that will be on the ballot this fall continues to appear headed for easy passage, with 66% of voters saying they support it to just 25% who are opposed. Those numbers are almost identical to 65 to 23 percent when we last polled on it in January, indicating the proposal is not losing any steam.

Democrats and independents are overwhelmingly in support of it, and even Republicans narrowly favor it 44 to 42 percent.


In a significant turn of events, it is being reported by the Miami Herald that if Amendment 2 was voted on today it would fail by 6 percent in Miami-Dade County.

Specifically, the Herald cites information regarding support of the Amendment stating that, “About 54 percent of Miami-Dade voters said they supported the medical pot measure and 46 percent opposed it.”  The Miami Herald goes on to state that “…there’s a catch: That’s relatively weak support for a constitutional amendment, which needs to pass statewide by 60 percent.”

“For months the press and Amendment 2 supporters have heralded a faulty poll showing 88 percent support for pot smoking,” said Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the Vote No on 2 Campaign.  “We have always questioned the validity and sustainability of those numbers and now this Miami Herald poll backs up our skepticism.”

“We suspect the Amendment 2 proponents have known this from their own internal polling and, now, we understand their outburst last week at respected Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz:  They are losing support all across Florida and nowhere is that more evident than in Miami-Dade County,” continued Bascom.

2016 WATCH 

Looking ahead to 2016, Floridians narrowly approve of Marco Rubio, 45 to 40 percent. He would lead Debbie Wasserman Schultz 48 to 40 percent in a hypothetical head to head. If he were to run for President and the Republican candidate was Allen West instead it would be much closer — West leads Wasserman Schultz just 41 to 40 percent. Despite their big national profiles a plurality of Floridians have no opinion about either Wasserman Schultz (41 percent) or West (44 percent).

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: If 2016 U.S. Senate race is @AllenWest vs. @DWStweets, I will pray for carpal tunnel syndrome so that I don’t have to blog about it.

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The Democratic Governors Association has opened a Florida-focused political committee as the Washington-based group ramps up its support for Crist.

The group, which works to elect Democratic governors across the country, filed paperwork to setup “DGA-Florida PAC” in early May. It brought in $1.1 million over its first month, according to reports.

The DGA has already spent $1 million in Florida this cycle. Much of that money has ended up with Florida for All, a group that has organized anti-Gov. Rick Scott rallies across the state.

The biggest contributions to the DGA’s new Florida wing came from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades ($150,000); pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventius US ($100,000); Wayne Jordan, an Oakland real estate developer and large fundraiser for Barack Obama ($100,000); and Ryan Smith, a Salt Lake City venture capitalist ($100,000).

The DGA’s competition, the Washington-based Republican Governor’s Association, has had a formal presence in Florida since December 2013. RGA Florida PAC has raised $575,000 over that time.

The group’s biggest donors are the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($175,000), and Centene Management Company, a Medicaid managed care company, ($100,000).

The RGA has also given more than $2 million directly to Let’s Get to Work, a Scott-aligned committee.

CRIST RAISES $2 MILLION IN MAY via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Crist announced Tuesday he and his political committee raised more than $2 million in the month of May, bringing the campaign total to $12.6 million, his campaign reported. 

The campaign continues to make a distinction between the big bucks earned by his rival, Gov. Scott, by noting that the average contribution to Crist’s campaign for the month was $102.92 as 4,915 people sent checks of under $100.

Here’s the breakdown: $587,473 to Charlie Crist for Governor campaign; $1.6 million to Crist’s political committee.

Scott, by contrast, raised less than $50,000 in his political committee but announced the party raised $3.4 million in May while his political campaign raised $1 million

Crist’s political committee received its biggest checks this month — $200,000 from Chicago media mogul Fred Eyechaner and another from the West Palm Beach-based trial lawyers Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley. Most of Crist’s other large contributions in May came from law firms.


Crist doesn’t agree with John Morgan’s decidedly negative take on Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz after she expressed concern with the medical marijuana ballot initiative.

“DWS is great,” Crist spokesman Kevin Cate said in a statement. But Crist does disagree with the congresswoman’s position on the issue.

“Unlike Rick Scott, we believe that doctors should have the right, if they deem it medically beneficial, to prescribe medicinal marijuana to their patients,” Cate said. “It’s an issue of compassion.”

Morgan … ripped Wasserman Schultz last week. “I know personally the most powerful players in Washington, D.C. And I can tell you that Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t just disliked. She’s despised. She’s an irritant,” he told the Miami Herald.

… Cate further explained Crist’s position saying, “Governor Crist is friends with the Congresswoman and John Morgan. While he disagrees with her on this issue, Governor Crist also disagrees with John’s comments. He believes Debbie is doing a terrific job as Chair of the Democratic Party.”


A group of medical, drug abuse and law enforcement interests descended on Tallahassee to voice disapproval of Amendment 2.

Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot, a coalition of the Florida Sheriffs Association and more than 100 partners, wants to educate Floridians on the dangers of medical marijuana and the effects that Amendment 2, if passed in November, would have on communities statewide.

“The legalization of marijuana in Florida is a very important issue to Florida’s law enforcement, and the Florida Sheriffs Association supports the efforts of the Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot coalition,” said FSA Executive Director Steve Casey. “Educating our citizens to the dangers of illegal drugs such as marijuana is a high priority.”

The organization points out that marijuana has “no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” making Amendment 2 a “dangerous decision” for the citizens of Florida.

Like the state’s other major anti-Amendment 2 group — the Vote No on 2 campaign — Go to Pot believes that the proposed amendment is “filled with loopholes,” such as allowing doctors to authorize use of medical marijuana for virtually any reason and with little regulation. The result is a “potential to harm families and diminish the quality of life.”

“Amendment 2 is a misleading, well thought-out fraud,” according to Florida Sheriffs Association President Grady Judd, Sheriff of Polk County. “The amendment does not require a doctor’s prescription, rather only a recommendation. There is a loophole big enough to float a battleship through that will allow anyone in Florida to obtain pot for any reason — making it nearly impossible for law enforcement to hold dealers and pot shop doctors accountable.”

***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***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will visit global hub 1776 at 3 p.mto discuss the importance of spectrum reform in encouraging innovation in the 21st century. The event is invite-only. 1776 is at 1133 15th St NW in Washington, D.C. Those wishing to attend must RSVP here, with the password 1776rubio.


House Speaker Will Weatherford announced Tuesday his endorsement of Carlos Curbelo for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Weatherford broke the news via Twitter.

“I support @carloslcurbelo in #FL26. Carlos leads in a new generation of conservatives with fresh ideas to meet America’s challenges,” Weatherford tweeted.

Curbelo is the favorite Republican to unseat incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia for the seat covering southwestern Miami-Dade County and all of Monroe County.

“I am happy to endorse Carlos Curbelo for Congress,” Weatherford said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting Carlos’ campaign this year as he articulates a bold vision for America.”



Putnam recently opened a new political committee and paid for a round of robo-calls, according to paperwork filed with the Department of State.

Since July, Putnam has had a so-called “electioneering communication organization,” which is a committee that can pay for campaign advertising. The committee, known as the Sunshine State Leadership Project, has raised $463,500, but has been largely inactive since March.

In February, paperwork was filed to create a second committee that Putnam is affiliated with. Called the SSLP political committee, it has raised $175,500, including $25,000 from the Washington-based Republican Agriculture Commissioner Committee. The biggest expenditure was $35,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.

Along with the two outside committees, Putnam’s campaign has raised $1.9 million, and has roughly $1.7 million. Putnam raised $186,295 in May, according to reports.

Putnam is widely expected to cruise to re-election. His only filed opponent – Democrat Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton – has raised $12,163 and has just $16 cash on hand.


Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater continued to pile up campaign cash in May, which each nearing $2 million in total contributions. Atwater collected $164,500 in May and reported an overall total of $1,899,354.


Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, the group coordinating constitutional Amendment 1, a measure to boost land-conservation efforts, raised $225,098 in May for a total of about $2.9 million, according to the most recent filings with the state Division of Elections.

The largest single contribution received last month was $75,000 from The Nature Conservancy. In addition to raising $2.9 million in cash, the group also received $375,000 in loans and $551,049 of in-kind contributions through May 31.

The group had spent nearly $2.97 million, most going to collecting petition signatures to make it on the November ballot.

If approved by voters, Amendment 1 will put aside a part of the state’s documentary-stamp tax revenues — paid whenever real estate is sold — for conservation efforts such as acquiring conservation lands and safeguarding water sources.


One challenger, a third-party candidate, has about $2,800 in the bank.

Another Republican contender hasn’t yet posted a single dollar in campaign fundraising.

But incumbent state Sen. Jack Latvala is still amassing a sizable campaign war chest.

May campaign finance records now online show Latvala raising $4,575 for a total of $426,635. He spent $15,383 that same month, for $136,459 in expenditures overall.

Libertarian candidate Tony Caso reported taking in $50 in May, for a $3,735 total. He’s gotten a $1,000 loan and spent $1,964 altogether.

Zahid Roy, a Republican, has filed reporting waivers since last March. His online file with the state shows no fundraising or expenses.


Incumbent state Sen. Jeff Brandes now has a 4-to-1 fundraising advantage over his Democratic challenger, according to May campaign finance reports.

Brandes posted $7,321 for May, bringing his running total to $416,786.

That same month he spent $17,924, for a total of $207,364 in campaign expenditures.

Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan … brought in $22,913, bringing her total to $105,315. She spent $5,567, for $29,539 in expenditures in all.

In-kind contributions for the month of May were $34,327 for Brandes and $8,417 for McLauchlan.

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The long-awaited book on former Republican State Chairman Jim Greer has been released and it throws mud on the Republican Party of Florida, Crist, and party leaders including Sen. John Thrasher.

… Greer said that things that Crist began to do as governor caused the conservative wing of the state Republican Party to hate him.

And, according to the book, getting Greer was a way to damage Crist.

… Greer says … Dean Cannon, … Mike Haridopolos, and Thrasher, Greer’s successor, worked to get Greer to fabricate a lie to get Greer indicted.

And the book says not only did the highest level of the state Republican Party lie, but they conspired with Attorney General Bill McCollum to fix Greer’s wagon.

The book says Greer was indicted for something Crist gave him permission to do: Form a company called Victory Strategies.

It says that in a deposition, Crist lied when he said he did not give permission to Greer to start Victory Strategies. Greer says in the book that it is not true and the papers in the book prove that.

FLORIDA TOPS THE LIST OF MOST STRESSED-OUT STATES via Adrienne Cutway of the Orlando Sentinel

For many people Florida is a place to kick back, relax and leave worries behind, but for the millions of people who live in the Sunshine State year-round, things aren’t always that easy.

Real estate blog Movoto gathered data to determine which state’s residents are the most stressed out and Floridians topped the list.

The bloggers there analyzed data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey for 2008-2012 and took into consideration for each state the percentage of the population with a long commute (20 minutes or longer), the unemployment rate, hours worked, population density, percentage of income spent on housing and percentage of population without health insurance.

Each state was then ranked in each category between 1 and 48 (Alaska and Hawaii were excluded), then those six numbers were averaged to determine the state’s overall ranking.

Florida ranked within the top 10 for each of the categories except hours worked per week, hence its position at the top of the most stressed out list. The 11.3 percent unemployment rate and the 25.8 percent without health insurance is what really did the state in — Florida ranked No. 3 in both of those categories.


Despite a 30 percent drop in overall foreclosure activity in May compared to last year, Florida maintained its first-place ranking nationally for foreclosures, a title it’s held for eight consecutive months.

According to a report released today by the Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac, one in every 436 Florida homes had a foreclosure filing on it in May, which is nearly three times the national average. RealtyTrac measures three types of foreclosure filings; the initial notice, the notice of sale, and the final bank repossession.

Florida accounted for eight of the highest foreclosure rates among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more, led by Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville at No. 1, with one in every 303 housing units with a foreclosure filing — nearly four times the national average.

FUN READ — THE 10 DISTINCT STATES THAT MAKE UP FLORIDA via Kyle Munzenrieder of the Miami NewTimes

Florida has a reputation as America’s weirdest state, but there’s hardly any national appreciation for the fact that Florida has several culturally distinct regions of weirdness to choose from.

In fact, sometimes it seems weird that Florida is considered one state at all. It’s high time someone drew a realistic map of the individual states that make up this bizarre peninsula. So we employed a team of cartographers, geographers, statisticians, and freelance whiskey distillers to draft one, and here’s a few of what they’ve come up with:

Jimmy Buffettstan (Monroe, southern Collier [Everglades City and Goodland], South Miami-Dade [Florida City and Homestead])

The Semisovereign City-State of Miami (Miami-Dade)

Florida Concentrate (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Sumter, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole)

New New York (Broward, Palm Beach)

Cracker Barrel (Taylor, Lafayette, Dixie, Suwannee, Gilchrist, Levy, Union, Alachua, Putnam, St. Johns, Flagler, Citrus, Hernando, Marion)

South Georgia (Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Columbia, Baker, Nassau, Duval)

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

#3 ON SSN’S LIST OF TOP LOBBY FIRMS: Capital City Consulting

Over the last 11 years, Capital City Consulting has made a name for itself as one of the most specialized, strategic lobbying firms in the Sunshine State, ranking it No. 3 on Sunshine State News’ list of Top Lobbyists in Florida.


On Context Florida: The GOP loves the Bowe Bergdahl case, says Doug Clifton, since it is another in the parade of Republican-inflated controversies designed to discredit Obama. Bob Sparks wonders if a Florida pollster would seek public opinion on the lawsuit by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) against the Veterans Administration for blocking state access to VA facilities located in Florida. Shannon Nickinsonnotes that Cory Doctorow’s “Little Brother,” which touches on growing up with a level of anxiety about terrorism, was too much for freshmen and sophomores at Pensacola’s Booker T. Washington High School, according to principal Dr. Michael Roberts. Florida’s state-run insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., is due for another investigation, says Dan Krassner executive director of the non-profit Integrity Florida.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.


A five minute conversation with Jordan Raynor is about all it takes to get that this guy is a natural storyteller. The pattern of his dialogue is engaging and inquisitive and before you know it, a whole bunch of context is woven together in a way that would have taken other people twice as long to say. So it is only natural that Raynor, co-founder of Citizinvestor and serial entrepreneur, would write a book that reflects these same qualities.

“Startup Stories: Lessons Learned from a Startup’s Launch, Grind, and Growth”, released today on Amazon, does just that. The book chronicles Raynor’s walk through the designing and launch of Citizinvestor with co-founder Tony DeSisto, and is written to inform readers on what it takes to do so with one’s own ideas.

Unlike most books on the subject, however, Raynor doesn’t attempt to offer the typical “how to do it” checklist-style memo. Instead he brings the reader with him, through ups and downs, through what he’s learned, through moments of confusion and hilarity. That’s how a storyteller teaches. And Raynor does so in “Startup Stories” in a way that will be broadly received.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of the top lobbyists in Florida, Nick Iarossi. Celebrating today is one of Florida’s greatest public servants, Mike Fasano.

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.