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Sunburn for 7.06.16 – Relief for Hillary; Convention plans for the Florida GOP; Jack Latvala for CFO?; Lots of babies

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.

FOR HILLARY CLINTON, CHARACTER QUESTIONS LIKELY TO PERSIST 

The FBI may have spared Hillary Clinton the worst in wrapping up its investigation into her use of email as secretary of state. But the way in which Director James Comey did so makes it unlikely criticism of her judgment and character will fade before Election Day.

Giving little indication he was about to clear Clinton of wrongdoing, Comey on Tuesday delivered a blistering assessment of the Democratic nominee’s missteps in using a personal email account run on private servers.

The FBI determined Clinton sent and received classified information on her private email set-up, he said, contradicting her months of public assurances she had not. He added that agents found “several thousand work-related emails” that Clinton’s attorneys failed to turn over, and went on to raise the prospect that people hostile to the U.S. had snooped on her account.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said Tuesday in a rare public airing of a months-long investigation.

When the moment came that Democrats have been waiting on for months — Comey concluding his remarks by saying “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Clinton — it almost seemed to be afterthought.

It was a moment made all the more extraordinary by the political calendar — just three weeks before Clinton is scheduled to formally accept the Democratic nomination for president and four months before the November election. Not to mention only a few hours before President Barack Obama made his debut in the 2016 campaign, appearing at an event in the battleground state of North Carolina with his preferred successor.

For the millions of Americans who distrust Clinton and still cringe at the scandals that plagued her husband’s presidency, there were unmistakably familiar echoes of a classic Clinton controversy.

Through Whitewater and Travelgate, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky, opponents have cast the Clintons as politicians who do just enough to stay within the law — and use powerful connections to help them do so. Public polls show Clinton struggles mightily when Americans are asked about her honesty, even though she’s viewed as experienced and competent.

That Comey’s announcement came one week after former President Bill Clinton held a widely criticized impromptu meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and just a few days after the FBI conducted its only interview with Hillary Clinton will likely do little to help the presumptive Democratic nominee change those perceptions.

While Clinton allies have long predicted she would avoid an indictment, campaign aides were visibly relieved Tuesday during the event with Obama in Charlotte. They sanguinely accepted the fact that Comey had upstaged the president’s first foray onto the campaign trail, saying it was worth it to have the investigation complete.

Yet even amid their relief, Clinton aides conceded they fully expect Comey’s sharp criticism to wind up in television ads. Democrats acknowledged the end of the investigation won’t wipe away long-standing questions about Clinton’s character, but said they didn’t expect Comey’s scathing critique to dramatically reshape the public’s opinion of a woman who has been in the political spotlight for three decades.

UNDERSTATEMENT: “We are glad that this matter is now resolved.” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.

TWEET, TWEET: @realDonaldTrump: FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem

6 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE FBI INVESTIGATION INTO HILLARY CLINTON’S EMAIL via Mark Berman of The Washington Post – 1. More than 100 messages across dozens of chains contained classified information when they were sent or received. 2. “Several thousand work-related emails” were not among those Clinton returned to the State Department. 3. Clinton sent and received work-related emails while “in the territory of sophisticated adversaries” — and it’s possible, while not proven, her emails were hacked. 4. Clinton “used several different servers” and “numerous mobile devices.” 5. No intent to violate the law, just “extremely careless” behavior. 6. The FBI says the “security culture of the State Department” is “lacking.”

— “The 7 key findings in the FBI’s Clinton email probe” via Louis Nelson of POLITICO

FLORIDA GOP REAX — Florida Republicans were quick to react Tuesday to FBI announcement that it would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

“The FBI concluded what many Americans have known for quite some time, which is that Hillary Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State and her mishandling of classified information was disgraceful and unbecoming of someone who aspires to the presidency,” said Sen. Marco Rubio in a statement. “There is simply no excuse for Hillary Clinton’s decision to set up a home-cooked email system which left sensitive and classified national security information vulnerable to theft and exploitation by America’s enemies. Her actions were grossly negligent, damaged national security and put lives at risk.”

Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County Republican who is challenging Rubio, went further, calling for a special prosecutor to review the FBI’s findings. Beruff said a meeting last week between former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch compromised Lynch’s objectivity. “Hilary Clinton’s careless mishandling of classified documents should disqualify her from being President, as should her lies,” said Beruff. “As we face new threats from all over the world, we cannot trust someone who without a second thought disregarded security procedures because they were inconvenient and then lied about it.”

Blaise Ingoglia, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, also said the findings proved Clinton is “unqualified to be commander in chief.” “Her continued poor judgment in handling top secret, classified information and willingness to go around the law for personal convenience is a complete disregard for the office and American people she represented. Furthermore, the FBI’s findings shows that Hillary’s explanation to her use of a secret server is a complete and direct contradiction to the truth,” he said. “She may not be indicted by a grand jury but this stunning admission by the FBI to her blatant disregard for the rules set up to protect national security will convict her in the court of public opinion.

MARCO RUBIO PREDICTS FBI DECISION IS ‘NOT THE END’ OF HILLARY CLINTON SCANDALS via Louis Nelson of POLITICO – In a statement released and simultaneously published to Facebook, Rubio … suggested that Clinton, who along with her husband has been plagued by scandals throughout her political career, would soon create more controversy as the November presidential election draws closer. “It’s only a matter of time before the next shoe drops and the nexus of corruption and controversy that has surrounded Hillary Clinton throughout her time in public office produces yet another scandal for the American people to endure,” Rubio wrote. “Given the consequential and challenging times in which we live, America simply cannot afford any more Clinton drama.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JamesGrantFL: Illegally sharing movies w/ pretend nat’l security: 5 years in prison Illegally sharing actual nat’l security: meh

MEANWHILE … LATEST POLL: A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump, 46% to 40%. Of note: Sixty-one percent report feeling alarmed about the election, swamping the 23% who are excited. Few are bored: Just 9%.

AND … REPUBLICANS SOUND THE ALARM ON VOTER REGISTRATION via David Drucker of the Washington Examiner – As Election Day draws near, the number of Democratic voters is growing in key battlegrounds, compared to voters affiliating with the Republican Party. It’s a crucial development that could tip the scales in the race for the White House … Florida appears to be a bright spot for the party … There, as elsewhere, the Republicans trail Democrats in registration. But the deficit has shrunk since the beginning of the year, from 326,000 to 259,000. That’s significant compared to 2012, when the Democrats increased their registration edge throughout the year to finish ahead by more than 557,500. Obama beat Romney in Florida by just under 1 point, or about 73,000 votes. The Florida Republican Party, focused on leveling the playing field for 2016, has been working with the RNC to register voters and cut into the Democrats’ lead. Earlier this year, the state party announced that it had flipped seven counties from blue to red. Democrats are worried, although a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party [said] they’re about to launch a voter registration drive. Republicans are optimistic that they might win Florida’s 29 electoral votes for the first time since 2004. “We’ve been on ground since 2015 creating an infrastructure that we’ve now accelerated,” said Wadi Gaitan, a spokesman for the Florida GOP. “When you look at the math, in 2012, Obama won by 70,000 votes or so and that was with larger voter registration advantage. We’ve now decreased that by a lot.”

ANOTHER MEANWHILE … FEA SLAMS TRUMP’S CALL TO ABOLISH FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO – The Florida Education Association, a state affiliate of both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, slammed the presumptive GOP presidential nominee in a statement … arguing Florida’s students would face “devastating consequences” if the federal agency were eradicated. The national and state unions have endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton, who’s likely to face Trump in the fall. The group said the department provides child care subsidies to low-income families and financial aid for needy college students. “Our nation’s young people deserve a leader who will expand and improve access to quality education, not thwart it,” the group said. “That’s why the Florida Education Association proudly stands with Hillary Clinton – a true champion of America’s students.” Carlos Beruff … who’s challenging Marco Rubiofor his U.S. Senate seat in a largely self-funded campaign, also wants to abolish the department, which he has called inefficient and intrusive. The department was “necessary in the ’70s,” he told reporters in April, “but surely in 2016, the size and scope of that is tremendously wasteful to the taxpayers.”

FIRST IN SUNBURN — BREAKFAST WITH ADAM PUTNAM, BRIEFINGS WITH RICHARD CORCORAN HIGHLIGHT FLORIDA DELEGATES’ SCHEDULE AT GOP CONVENTION via Florida Politics –  The Republican Party of Florida outlined the schedule for state delegates in a 17-page packet this week. The packets, sent to the 99 delegates and 96 alternates heading to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, are meant to give Florida Republicans a rundown of the delegation’s events, as well as answer questions dealing with lodging, transportation and fees. House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran, one of the 15 at-large delegates chosen by the RPOF, will play a big role in the festivities … hosting one of the first events of the week — a breakfast buffet and speaker series with pollster Frank Luntz July 18. Corcoran is the hosting a similar breakfast July 20 and July 21 … On July 19, the delegation is invited to attend Adam Putnam’s Florida Grown Breakfast. That breakfast — much like the ones hosted by Corcoran — will be held at Embassy Suites where the delegation will be staying. The delegation will receive a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame July 18. According to the packet, “private access to the Hall will include cocktails, appetizers, and access to the newest exhibit ‘Louder than Words: Rock, Power and Politics.’” On July 19, the members of the delegation are invited to celebrate with other southern state delegations … That same evening, the delegation has a post-session reception planned with the Arizona delegation at Nano Brew Cleveland. That event includes 16 local craft brews, including a GOP Pilsner and live band. Florida delegates are invited to participate in a pre-session rally July 21, the final day of the convention, at FWD Day + Nightclub, a pool club located on the river in the Flats East Bank in Cleveland.

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DAYS UNTIL: Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 19; Early voting begins in primaries – 44; Primary elections – 54; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 25; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 97; Absentees sent in General Election – 89; Early voting begins in General Election — 114; General Election – 124.

CARLOS BERUFF TRYING TO CHALLENGE IDEA THAT ONLY MARCO RUBIO CAN WIN IN NOVEMBER via Jeremy Wallace of the Miami Herald – Beruff sent a blast email to his supporters trying to battle the perception created in part by national Republicans, that only Rubio has a chance of holding the seat for Republicans. “They claim that Marco Rubio is the only candidate who can beat Patrick Murphy,” Beruff’s campaign manager Matt Parker says in the email. “But that’s just not the case.” To prove that point, Beruff’s campaign is releasing select parts of an internal poll that they say shows a toss-up race with Murphy, the Democratic congressman who has won public endorsements from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. In the poll … 40 percent of likely voters said they would pick Beruff and 42 percent said they would pick Murphy … The polls margin of error is 3.46 percent, putting Beruff and Murphy in the margin of error. Parker is imploring supporters to donate to the Beruff’s campaign to help him get his message out, acknowledging that three quarters of Floridians still don’t know who he is, even after Beruff has spent about $5 million on television ads around the state.

BERUFF’S NEW TV AD CONTINUES ANTI-WASHINGTON FOCUS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — Beruff is out with a new television ad that continues his campaign theme of hammering Washington and “career politicians.” “The folks in Washington have all figured out,” Beruff says in the 30-second spot. “They’re going to make your choices and run your life.” He also hits on the hot-button issue of transgender people using public bathrooms. President Obama signed an executive order requiring public schools allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, a move that angered many conservatives.

 EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN via the Senate leadership Fund: “Is Patrick Murphy yachting in Nantucket, MA during Florida algae crisis?”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Beruff will speak at 6 p.m. at the Burnt Store Republican Club meeting at the Burnt Store Golf & Activity Club, 24315 Vincent Ave. in Punta Gorda.

BIG WIN FOR FLA. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION — GERMANY AGREES TO FURTHER AID HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS via the Sunshine State News – Members of the Florida delegation are declaring victory after Germany agreed to provide more financial assistance to Holocaust survivors. Germany announced it would lift caps on assistance to Holocaust survivors for home care. Bill Nelson … Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ted Deutch … unveiled the resolution back in April. They were joined by Susan Collins … The House passed the measure last month without opposition. “Today, the House once again demonstrated its commitment to achieving justice for all Holocaust survivors in overwhelmingly passing the resolution Ted and I introduced, urging Germany to honor its obligations to Holocaust survivors,” Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, said when her bill passed … “It’s been over 71 years since the end of World War II, and even though they’ve lived through the unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Nazis, Holocaust survivors today continue to face lingering injustices. It would be a travesty if humanity once again failed these individuals by ignoring their plight.”

JACK LATVALA FOR CFO IN 2018?

Next week, several Republican members of the Florida Senate will gather at the summer home in Boothbay Harbor of their colleague Jack Latvala. There they will raise money for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday and Latvala’s Florida Leadership Committee on Friday.

With Latvala slated to be the next chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Appropriations, there’s no question he will be able to raise tens — if not hundreds — of thousands of dollars at both events. The question is what does Latvala have planned for all of that money in his political committee?

As it stands today, there is $2,169,340 in Latvala’s main political committee. There is another $350,000 in Latvala’s campaign committee. That puts him at north of $2.5 million cash-on-hand.

The senior senator from Pinellas enjoys high, positive name recognition in his district and faces a tomato can this November, so if he spends more than the absolute minimum on his re-election campaign, he’s wasting money.

It’s more likely Latvala will use his resources to protect some of his allies running in tough races this November. Certainly, Sen. Miguel diaz de la Portilla could use Latvala’s help in death match versus Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez. But even if Latvala spends $50,000 on his own re-election and $500,000 on four or five other races, he still will have more than $2 million in the bank. And that’s if he doesn’t raise another dollar, which will not be the case.

Come May of 2018, Latvala — likely to be one of the most impactful appropriations chairs to have held the gavel — should have at least $3 million in his warchest.

Latvala is term-limited from running again in 2018, so what will he do next? It’s the $64,000 question being asked in Pinellas County and Tallahassee.

While some suggest Latvala would make an excellent moderate Republican governor, it’s a challenge to envision a scenario where he has the horses to outrun Adam Putnam or Will Weatherford. As much as Sunburn would love to see Latvala in the Governor’s Mansion, it’s not going to happen.

Similarly, it’s difficult to see Latvala running for some small-ball local office in Pinellas ala what Mike Fasano did in Pasco. And as long as there are Bilirakises in north Pinellas, Latvala won’t be going to Washington.

So why not Latvala for Chief Financial Officer?

With Jeff Atwater term-limited from holding the Cabinet post again, the 2018 race to be the next CFO is wide-open. There won’t be a major Republican worth their elephant pajamas who does not take a look at running for the position. And now, with developer Pat Neal officially out of the race, the list of prospective candidates will only grow. Because he could have self-funded, Neal would have likely kept the field of candidates in check. But now, without Neal and his eight-figure checkbook to worry about, the price of admission to the CFO race is considerably less.

A serious candidate would need to be able to raise for the primary, say, two or three million dollars out of the gate. Know anyone who can do that?

That’s right, Jack Latvala. He can already buy a ticket to the big game and he has decades worth of IOUs still left to cash in. He has an extensive history working on the insurance and regulatory issues that make up the CFO’s portfolio. And what other candidate can count on the kind of favorable treatment from the press that Latvala would receive.

Latvala will probably shoot down this speculation as soon as he’s done reading this sentence, but that doesn’t mean Latvala for CFO doesn’t make sense.

Someone should ask him about it next week in Maine.

NEAL DUNN FOCUSES ON GUN RIGHTS IN NEW AD via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – In keeping with the values of North Florida Republicans, Dunn pledges to fight for and protect our Constitution in Congress, while defending our Second Amendment rights … The narrative of the 30-second spot revolves around a historic musket. “This musket, surrendered at Yorktown to General George Washington, has been in our family for generations,” said Dunn in the ad. “It’s one of my most prized possessions. When I get to Congress, I’ll hang that gun in my office as a constant reminder of the freedoms our founding fathers embedded into our Constitution. Like you, I’m fed up. And, I’ve decided to do something about it.” Dunn, a urological surgeon from Panama City, has been the most aggressive CD 2 candidate on television thus far.

POLL IN FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 4 SHOWS JOHN RUTHERFORD WITH A COMFORTABLE LEAD via the University of North Florida – A new poll of likely Republican voters in Congressional District 4 by the UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) … shows that former Jacksonville Sherriff Rutherford leads the race with 27 percent, Hans Tanzler is in second place with 13 percent, and State Rep. Lake Ray carries third place with 9 percent. Rounding out the rest of this crowded contest are St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure with 2 percent, Deborah Katz Pueschel with 2 percent, Ed Malin and Stephen Kaufman with less than 1 percent each. “Rutherford leads early in this race, but considering the vast amount of indecision among likely voters, Tanzler and Ray could still be contenders,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director. “Although Rutherford is the frontrunner, I expected the size of his lead to be much larger.”

DENA GRAYSON MAKES MOST OF HER NEW LAST NAME – WITH ASSIST FROM HUSBAND ALAN GRAYSON via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Dena Grayson is taking full advantage of the name recognition her new married last name provides in Central Florida. Grayson has already been featuring her groom, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and current Orlando U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, prominently on her campaign website — and now he’s also helping her out in campaign ads, too. Alan Grayson provides the voice-over for Dena Grayson’s first TV ad, which her U.S. House campaign unveiled … and Grayson also appears with his wife at the end of it. For her part, Dena Grayson echoes his talking points and campaign platform, almost verbatim. On her website, she uses Alan Grayson’s Senate campaign pitch of “seniors deserve a raise,” and in the ad, Alan Grayson mentions that Dena Grayson wants “to expand Medicare to cover eyes, ears and teeth” — a nod to his current bill in Congress, the “Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Act” … “She’s a doctor who’s treated poor people for free and devoted years to developing cures for cancer,” Alan Grayson says in the ad narration. “Our political system is sick, but this doctor will make it better.” Dena Grayson’s campaign said her first ad is already running in metro Orlando.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS – Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County, IAF local 2928, will announce its endorsement of Randy Perkins in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Media availability begins 9 a.m. at the Randy Perkins Campaign Headquarters, 1201 U.S. Highway 1, Suite #41 in North Palm Beach. Media contact Lynn Ehrenberg at 305-509-9958 or Lynn@RandyPerkinsforCongress.com.

FRANCIS ROONEY TALKS SECURING THE BORDER, WATER QUALITY IN 2 NEW ADS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “I work in the construction industry, so I know a thing or two about building walls. In Congress, I’ll fight to build a big one on our southern border,” says Rooney, a Naples Republican and the CEO of Manhattan Construction. “We need to secure the border, stop illegal immigration and end sanctuary cities. Illegal immigrants who commit crimes in America should be deported. End of story.” The 30-second spot — called “Wall” — is one of two advertisements released by the Rooney campaign … In it, Rooney, who is running to replace Rep. Curt Clawson in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, tells viewers he will “be tough on illegal immigration so we can protect America.” The second ad — a 30-second spot called “Water” — is meant to address local water quality issues. According to his campaign, the advertisement highlights his priority to demand action and get results on water quality. Rooney has said the state needs a comprehensive, area-wide solution that involves local, state and federal participation. Among other things, Rooney has said congressional leaders need to demand support for strengthening the Herbert Hoover Dike, and spearhead the fight to finish the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP. “Next to our kids, water is our most precious resource in Southwest Florida,” says Rooney in the 30-second spot. “We need to end the pollution now. As your congressman, I’ll demand action.”

(PAY) DAY OF RECKONING via Ciara O’Neill of the National Institute on Money in State Politics – Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had a tumultuous few months since her controversial co-sponsorship of H.R. 4018, a bill that would delay new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulation of the payday loan industry. The symbolism of the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) pushing back against a linchpin progressive reform has not been lost on many in an election year that has already seen its fair share of friction between establishment party figures and self-described anti-corporate outsiders. The political fallout has been considerable … This pressure seems to have found traction; in early June, Wasserman Schultz released (a) statement in support of the CFPB rules. However, (she) has not yet stated whether she intends to drop their support for H.R. 4018. The National Institute on Money in State Politics examined the relationship between the payday lending industry and Wasserman Schultz. Records show that payday lenders have given her $51,000 in campaign contributions between 2010 through 2014. Of interest, the Institute learned that the industry has taken a noted interest in Florida, having spent more than $2.2 million on state and federal candidates and committees between 2010 and 2014. Thirteen of the 25 sponsors of H.R. 4018 are from Florida. Wasserman Schultz may not have raised much from payday lenders alone, but as a group the cosponsors received more than $344,000 from payday lenders from 2010 through 2014. The Florida contingent’s share makes up 70 percent of this total.

TIM CANOVA FUNDRAISES OVER OPPOSITION TO TPP IN DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S PLATFORM via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Like Bernie SandersCanova has successfully tapped into dissatisfaction with the status quo within the national Democratic Party this year. In his case, it’s been the support he’s received nationally in his congressional campaign against Debbie Wasserman Schultz, which has resulted in over $2 million in campaign contributions. He issued out another request for money … tying it to opposition to draft language in the Democratic Party’s platform regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership that will ultimately go before delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this month. “Rather than take a bold stance in opposition to the TPP — which every Democratic presidential candidate eventually opposed — Wasserman Schultz’s hand-picked members of the platform drafting committee have refused to add a clear amendment in opposition to this disaster of a trade deal. Instead, they have focused on platitudes in the platform in the hopes it would be enough to placate the progressive grassroots of the party, like you and me,” Canova writes in his fundraising email, which directs supporters to fill out a form on his website that calls on the DNC Platform Committee to include an amendment that makes clear the Democratic Party is opposed to TPP.”

BETTY REED NOW SAYS SHE REGRETS ENDORSING ED NARAIN IN 2014 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Even though it’s been nearly four months since Narain stunned some local observers and excited others by announcing he would be leaving his House District 61 seat to challenge Reed in the Democratic primary for the seat that encompasses parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, raw feelings persist about his decision to do so. “I had heard several times before in Tallahassee from friends that I have up there who were telling me that he was getting in the race, and he was telling me he wasn’t,” recounted Reed … [Who] represented the same district Narain now does (it used to be District 59) from 2006-2014. She was initially neutral in the race between Narain and Sean Shaw to succeed her back in 2014, before she gave Narain a crucial endorsement just a few weeks before their primary election. Narain ended up defeating Shaw, 41 percent to 35 percent. Reed now says she regrets that decision. She says she made that choice because she thought Narain was the best candidate to represent the community. “Unfortunately, that was not true,” Reed now says. “I don’t know if he really wanted the House seat from the beginning. Maybe it was just a steppingstone for him.” Narain says he is sincerely sorry if his entry into the race hurt Reed or her family, but says, “this is strictly about the community having a choice about who’s the best person, plain and simple.” He also says in December there was a meeting between the two, where the idea of the two switching jobs was first presented by a “third party,” but Reed rejected that idea.

FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE DROPS OUT AFTER 1 WEEK ON BALLOT via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Bruce Kaplan, who qualified last week as a candidate for a state Senate seat, dropped out of the race July 1 … It was an eventful week for Kaplan, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner. Last Thursday, Kaplan switched his political party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. A day later, he qualified to run for the Florida Senate. A lawsuit was filed Thursday challenging his candidacy. And Friday afternoon, Kaplan announced that he was calling it quits. Republican Allen Markelson, who joined the race in June 2016, has also been removed.

RICARDO RANGEL NABS ENDORSEMENT FROM VIVIANA JANER IN HD 43 RACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Rangel has received the endorsement of Osceola County Chairwoman Janer in his quest for the Aug. 30 Democratic primary nomination to run in Kissimmee-based House District 43. Rangel, a former state representative for that district, lost the 2014 primary to the current incumbent, state Rep. John Cortes. Janer granted her endorsement … noting on Independence Day that Rangel is a U.S. Army veteran. “Floridians need a strong voice in Tallahassee. We need a Representative like Ricardo. He’ll stand up for working families, fight to raise wages, protect our public schools, and invest in our children’s future,” Janer said. “He’ll work with community leaders and elected officials like myself to improve the lives of all residents of Osceola County.”

MEET ALEX BARRIO, DEMOCRAT RUNNING FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 48 via Florida Politics – In 25 words or less, why are you running for office? “To make Florida a better place to live for everyone.” Who do you count on for advice? “My business partner and general consultant at You Should Run, Dave Plotkin. Darren’s Soto’s campaign manager and one of my best friends on Earth, Christine Biron.” Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it? “People mistrust elected officials because so many of them make promises they cannot keep. The nature of our process is that change is hard so when you campaign on making huge changes that help people or affect their lives and then can’t deliver, your opponents hit you on that. Strong challengers hit you hard. Our current political climate is bitterly divided … What am I going to do about it? I’m going to work at talking to as many voters as I can and let them know that I’m fighting for them. I’m going to build relationships with my Republican colleagues along with my Democratic friends and work the margins on the issues for Progressive ends. I’m going to honestly and earnestly try to be the best Representative as I can, always leaving an open door for anyone who wants to come and argue their points or their beliefs.” What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee? “Money. We’ve been neglected for years as dollars poured into UCF, downtown and even Poinciana. We need some help to grow our economy and fix our schools.”

HAPPENING THURSDAY – Democrat Sean Shaw will be holding a fundraising reception in support of his HD 61 campaign. Event begins 6 p.m. at 4610 North Central Ave. in Tampa. For more information and to RSVP contact Amber Holland at 813-253-9970.

KEN KEECHL ENDORSED BY BROWARD ALLIED MEDICAL FOR HD 93 – Dr. Arthur Palamara, Chair of BAMPAC committee said“We are pleased to endorse Mr. Keechl’s candidacy. We feel that he will be a strong representative to the Florida House. We look forward to working with him in health care and medical matters in the future.” Keechl shared: “I am so appreciative to have the support of BAM who share my same concerns for accessible and affordable health care for all. I am grateful to stand alongside partners in the health care community to fight for increased transparency in our health care system, filling our physician shortage, and expanding the use of telemedicine in our state. I am confident that together we will achieve common sense legislation in Tallahassee.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE STORIES FROM FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM

— “Randolph Bracy’s big June gives him big money lead in SD 11

— “Consumers for Smart Solar spends more than $83K in June

— “Democrat Bernie Fensterwald holding back so far in spending largesse against Chris Sprowls in HD 65

— “Kathleen Peters way out in front of Jennifer Webb in fundraising race in HD 69

***A message from Progress Florida Education Institute, educating and empowering Floridians to address the challenges facing Florida, including protecting reproductive rights for all Floridians. Abortion opponents are turning lies into laws to shame, pressure, and punish women. What happens when abortion opponents turn lies into laws? Women’s health care gets pushed out of reach. Politicians tell doctors how to practice medicine. Women are blocked from making their own decisions and their rights are being trampled in the process. Abortion is safe and legal. Enough is enough. It’s time to support women’s health, rights, and dignity. Get the facts.***

IT’S OFFICIALFLORIDA DEMOCRATS FAIL IN BID FOR SPECIAL SESSION AFTER NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Democrats had until noon to seek support from 60 percent of the Republican-controlled House and Senate for a special session to ban people on the federal “no-fly” or terrorist watch list from obtaining weapons. In the 120-member House, voting ‘no’ were 72 members — all Republicans, except for Democratic Reps. Katie Edwards and Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda … Will Thirty-four Democrats voted ‘yes,’ joined by Republican Reps. Shawn Harrison and Mike Miller … whose office is just down the street from the Pulse nightclub where the tragedy occurred. The 40-member Senate was more closely divided. Seventeen senators, all Republicans, were opposed while 14 voted in support of the special session. One Republican, Sen. Anitere Flores … joined 13 Democrats in supporting the session.

OLIVA CIGAR ACQUIRED BY EUROPEAN CIGAR COMPANY via David Savona of Cigar Aficionado Magazine – Oliva Cigar Co., the maker of Cigar Aficionado’s 2014 Cigar of the Year, has been acquired by J. Cortés Cigars N.V., a private, family-owned business based in Moen, Belgium that specializes in machine-made cigars, according to Cigar Aficionado. Members of the Oliva family will continue to run the company as before, and José Oliva will remain as the chief executive officer of Oliva, which is headquartered in Miami Lakes, Florida. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. J. Cortés said that the two companies combined would have annual revenues of $100 million.

HAPPENING TODAY – Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben will hear a challenge from Loop’s Nursery, a grower looking to be awarded a medical-marijuana dispensing organization license in Florida’s Northeast region. Health officials granted a license to rival grower Gainesville-based Chestnut Hill Tree Farm and then to San Felasco Nurseries. Hearing begins 9 a.m. at the DeSoto Building, 1230 Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee.

— THE STATE WE LIVE IN — 

911: THE FLORIDA FIGHT OVER WHICH RECORDS ARE PUBLIC via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald – It’s been an article of undisputed faith among Florida cops, prosecutors and journalists for decades that phone calls to 911 are public records. So media lawyers were flabbergasted last month when Orlando police refused to turn over recordings of the 911 calls made during the murderous shootout inside the Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead. At the same time, they weren’t surprised at all. The importance of the 911 calls is seemingly obvious, too: What callers said to the operators during the bloody three-hour massacre would help resolve the dispute between police, who say nearly all the killing took place in the first few minutes, and some witnesses, who insist that the gunman continued sporadically murdering survivors throughout the night. Whether the media lawsuit will succeed in prying loose the 911 calls remains uncertain. From a Florida Legislature with an awesome work ethic when it comes to carving out exemptions — 240 bills adopted in the past decade that allow records to be withheld — to agencies devising ever more creative ways to thwart it, Florida’s century-old public records law has gone from the lionhearted envy of government-transparency activists everywhere to a housebroken pussycat, many observers say. The battles come at a time when traditional news media, buffeted by changing technology, are struggling to find a business model that works. Many journalists suspect the stupendously high bills are a deliberate attempt to exploit this. At the very least, there is no incentive for record custodians to work with dispatch when the meter is running and the record seeker is paying the tab, said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, which monitors Florida’s public records and open meeting laws.

BAD CHECKS 34 YEARS AGO, HE STILL CAN’T VOTE via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel – People can get arrested as teenagers for possession of a single pot plant, pay their penalties and, decades later, still not have the right to vote in elections, serve on juries or own a gun to protect their family. No one knows that better than Howie Davenport. More than 30 years ago, the Air Force veteran and Volusia County resident wrote some bad checks. To this day, the 64-year-old former staff sergeant still can’t vote … Back in 2011, Pam Bondi and Rick Scott led a charge to make it harder for convicted felons to ever regain their rights — a modern-day reincarnation of a post-Civil War policy that was designed to keep blacks from voting. Today, felons lose their civil rights for life unless Scott, Bondi and the Florida Cabinet personally reinstate them. They rarely do. Though more than 1.6 million Floridians lack their civil rights, the Cabinet only restores a few hundred per year. During the entirety of Scott’s first four years in office, the Cabinet restored rights to only about 1,500 citizens. That’s 99 percent fewer than the 155,000 who got their rights back during a single term of Gov. Charlie Crist and 98 percent fewer than the 65,000 during Jeb Bush‘s final four years … While Davenport still hasn’t been granted a clemency hearing for decades-old check and probation charges, a plugged-in politico from Lake County was recently granted one in connection with a crime from just seven years ago — when he killed someone. The leader is Bruce Duncan, a former assistant public defender and assistant county attorney whose friends include a legislator who pleaded for leniency when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for DUI manslaughter. Last month, without explanation, the Clemency board granted Duncan a hearing for early release.

HOW A MUSLIM ADVOCACY GROUP IN FLORIDA IS DOING WHAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS SO FAR FAILED TO DO via Abigail Hauslohner of The Washington Post – Nezar Hamze, who moonlights as Florida operations director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group, has embarked on a unique effort to educate American Muslims about their rights and safety, while also seeking to deter what Hamze calls “the needle in the haystack” — the Muslim who commits an act of violence in the United States. When that happens, “the American Muslim community feels the backlash immediately,” he told his audience. His message: The community needs to protect itself. In this, CAIR-Florida is bucking the policy of its national headquarters, as well as several prominent civil and human rights groups. Critics say intervention efforts focused on Muslims, which the Obama administration refers to as “countering violent extremism,” are driven more by politics than by data, heighten distrust and can be powerfully stigmatizing. Hamze dismisses the critics as out of touch with reality. The fact is, he says, echoing federal proponents of such a focus, American Muslims who kill in the name of Islam are rare, but they do exist.

WHEN THE NEIGHBORHOOD IS OWNED BY BILLION-DOLLAR COMPANIES via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – Many of the single-family homes in the Piedmont Park neighborhood of Apopka … used to be owned by families … Now, they’re owned by Blackstone, American Homes 4 Rent and Colony Starwood Homes, companies associated with big real estate investment firms … occupants are tenants, not owners. In the decade since the housing boom deflated into a bust, financial firms recognized an investment opportunity in hard-hit areas like this Orlando suburb. Single-family homes lost to foreclosure could be bought cheaply and transformed into rent-generating income streams … Corporate purchases have spread through Piedmont Park and surrounding neighborhoods, where the percentage of renters rose from a bit over 10 percent to more than 35 percent within a decade. Piedmont Park homeowners complain that the result is more transient neighbors, less engagement at homeowners’ meetings and difficulties reaching absentee corporate landlords. Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer regards the surge of renters in houses throughout central Florida as an unfortunate consequence of the damage this region absorbed from the Great Recession and housing bust …  In the aftermath of a housing crisis, metro Orlando suffered one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. A few homes in Piedmont Park sat empty for months, attracting squatters who moved in and were hard to evict, said Karin Settle, president of the local homeowner’s association. One house of college-age renters, she said, threw fraternity-like parties with 20 or so cars parked outside and drunk men hanging out on the porch — something the neighborhood didn’t see in years past. Several homeowners have said they’re considering selling their homes because there are so many renters now, she said.

PSC REPORTS BIG INCREASE IN CUSTOMER OWNED RENEWABLES via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO – Customer-owned renewable energy capacity increased by more 35 percent in 2015, the Florida Public Service Commission reported …  Also in 2015, the number of renewable energy connections increased by 36 percent – to 11,626 from 8,571 in 2014 … Since 2008, the number of renewable energy systems has increased twentyfold. The PSC says its rules promote development of customer-owned solar and other renewable energy by making it easier for customers to connect to the grid. “We’ve helped accelerate renewable energy use without compromising service reliability,” commission chairman Julie Brown said.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Ed Blakey, Blue Tusk Communications: Jacksonville Aviation Authority

Cody Farrill: Department of Transportation

Jennifer Gaviria, Capital City Consulting: Martin County

Rebecca Roman, Adams St. Advocates: Five Points Technology Group

OP-EDS FROM FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM (Feel free to republish)

JOE HENDERSON: FBI MAY HAVE CLEARED HILLARY CLINTON, STILL FACES TRIAL BY ELECTORATE via Florida Politics – Much to the chagrin of Donald Trump and many hardened Republicans … Clinton won’t be going to jail over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey all but assured that when, after investigating the matter, he recommended no criminal charges be brought against her. He said no “reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Attorney General Loretta Lynch previously said she would follow the FBI’s lead. So that’s that? Not exactly. Comey said the investigation found evidence that Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling “sensitive, highly classified information.” You can probably expect to see that quote show up a few thousand times in attack ads between now and November, and it’s fair game. While Clinton doesn’t have to prepare for defense in a criminal trial, she will have to answer the court of public opinion for, paraphrasing here from the director’s ruling, being incompetent. If you think “incompetent” is too strong a word, then substitute “sneaky” and “clumsy.”

DARRYL E OWENS: SCOTUS HITS MARK FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WITH DISARMING VOISINE RULING via Florida Politics – After the Pulse tragedy, gun control talks predictably spiked. The gun lobby trained its sights on proposals that supposedly kneecapped the Second Amendment. Weary anti-gun violence crusaders petitioned Congress to holster massacres by doing something — anything. Shouting, pleading, debating, cajoling, exhorting — and a brief political theater revival of circa ‘60s sit-ins — appallingly accomplished doodly-squat. America’s firm majority which backs broader gun control measures dejectedly shoveled dirt on the latest prospect of kick-starting congressional inertia. That failure, however, did not deter the U.S. Supreme Court at least from wisely keeping plugged a deadly loophole that threatened to boost the annual domestic-violence death toll — already easily dwarfing America’s unnerving, yet sporadic massacres.

DIANE ROBERTS: BREXIT — WHERE BELIEF TRUMPS FACTS, REALITY via Florida Politics – Michael Gove, the turtle-featured candidate for Tory Party leader — and thus Prime Minister of Great Britain — declared just before the Brexit vote that the British people are “tired of experts.” The so-called “professionals,” economists, MBAs, bankers, lawyers and suchlike riffraff, who claimed that if the Leave campaign won, the pound would decline in value, the stock market would go down, and poorer British regions would lose EU grants and subsidies, are nothing but a bunch of toffee-nosed overeducated out-of-touch types not worth listening to. OK, so the pound tanked, the stock market slid, and the inhabitants of Cornwall, the Northeast and parts of the Midlands will feel the lack of that nice EU money that helped pay for schools and parks pretty damn quick once the UK flounces off out of the EU, but who cares about “reality”? Go wave a Union Jack! Everything is now a matter of “belief,” not fact, not information from experts. Around 40 percent of Republicans “believe” that Barack Obama is Muslim, despite zero proof. Geological evidence shows that the earth is somewhere around 4.54 billion years. But Mr. Ken Ham of Williamstown, Kentucky, insists it’s more like 6000 years. He’s the fellow who built a big-ass Ark complete with animatronic Noah and animals — including dinosaurs — to push “young earth creationism.”

JOHN STEMBERGER: AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVID RICHARDSON via Florida Politics – Dear Rep. Richardson: Since your election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012 until now, I have always known your reputation as a legislator to be one of nothing but respect for the dignity of the institution, for the legislative process and for your fellow colleagues. Even those who firmly disagree with you on matters of public policy speak highly of you, of your talents as a legislator and the unique perspective you bring to the process. However, after the tragic and despicable acts of evil which took place right down the street from my offices in Orlando June 12, I was both shocked to learn of your repeated statements accusing your fellow legislators of creating an environment that gives rise to such horrible violence when they speak out against any LGBT bills as bad public policy in the Legislature. When I respectfully confronted you on another NPR affiliate radio debate for linking vocal opposition to new LGBT laws with violent acts such as the ones that occurred in Orlando, you initially denied these statements — until I read your words back to you on the air. Then, instead of retracting or apologizing for these irresponsible remarks, you doubled down and repeated the same very offensive and incorrect argument again. In that interview you said: “I absolutely do think that people are emboldened, by the comments of certain lawmakers whether they are reacting in a violent way …” … your comments breed divisiveness, sow discord and are an attempt to manipulate and silence robust debate among the other elected leaders of our Legislature on these important policy decisions.

JAC VERSTEEG: BOOTS ON THE GROUND LEAD TO BODIES ON THE GROUND via Florida Politics – My eyeballs are still scorched from reading Tom Jackson’s column “No moving on from Benghazi horror.” I’m on the left and he’s on the right, but I love an opinion piece that pulls no punches. Jackson’s premise in the piece, which appeared in FloridaPolitics.com, is that, “The Obama administration failed at every step of the sorry way: before, during and, almost most damnably, after, the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Information Officer Sean Smith, and CIA operatives Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs.” The report that infuriated Jackson infuriated me, too. He was infuriated by the Democrats’ claim there was nothing new in it. I am infuriated that something as important as figuring out what wrong in Benghazi — literally a Benghazi post-mortem — has been so thoroughly infected by partisanship. Jackson and I might blame different people for that. I suspect we’d both be right.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

— CONGRATS ALL AROUND —

CARLOS BERUFF ANNOUNCES BIRTH OF CHILD via Jeremy Wallace of the Miami Herald – Beruff is a father again. Beruff’s wife Janelle gave birth to the couples second child … Beruff announced the birth on social media. “Janelle and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our second son,” Beruff’s post from just after 11 a.m. announced. “Both mom and baby are doing great, and Carlo is excited to be a big brother!” The child is Beruff’s third. He has an 18-year-old son from a previous relationship.

… TO THE DESANTIS FAMILY:

desantis

… AND TO OUR OWN JIM ROSICA, who emails: Baby Emilia Louise arrived late Tuesday night, at 7 lbs. 7 oz., after a roughly 19 hour labor. Erin and daughter are doing well. Grandma Buckner is very proud.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the great Susanne Dudley, Erin Gillespie, Joe Gruters, and Rep. MaryLynn Magar.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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