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Sunburn for 7.14.16 – Q-poll madness; Veepstakes; Marco Rubio’s big lead; Summering with Jack Latvala; the latest from the Plague Beat

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Joe Henderson, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

LATEST Q-POLL ONLY PROVES VOLATILITY IS NORM IN 2016

If the latest Quinnipiac poll is to be believed, Donald Trump has jumped in front of Hillary Clinton in Florida.

The Q now has Trump leading 42-39 over Clinton, and that’s just head to head. Throw in Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green Party and The Donald goes up five points.

Head to head is within the 3.1 percent plus-minus margin of error. And the Q poll, while always widely cited, has its share of critics over methodology.

So how should we interpret this latest bit of campaign news?  Is it the signal of a five-alarm problem for Clinton? Her path to the White House could become unpassable if she doesn’t win, with a nod to the late Tim Russert, Florida, Florida, Florida.

As with all things it requires context. After all, the same outfit had Clinton ahead of Trump in Florida by eight points on June 21.

The context in this case is the volatility of this election cycle. There are so many variables between now and November – hell, between now and lunch time tomorrow – that polls provide little more than talking points until the next one comes out.

Clinton has just been down a rough patch of road. Her husband foolishly met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch while the investigation into Hillary’s email server misuse was ongoing. The perception that the fix was in was amplified when the FBI recommended that while Clinton was inept in using a private server for classified documents, she shouldn’t be prosecuted.

Also, and I think a lot of folks have been slow to catch on to this one, Trump’s message lately has been more restrained and less, well, stupid.  That coincides with the departure of volatile campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about three weeks ago.

The GOP convention next week in Cleveland is sure to be among the most-watched of all time. It will be Trump’s chance to show he actually has characteristics of judgment and restraint.

He will keep up the attacks on Clinton’s trustworthiness, of course, because that is about the only issue that seems to resonate with voters. So the chance is there for Trump to both push the attack on his rival in a way that doesn’t scare the crap out of voters.

And after the post-convention bounces for both candidates, we’ll take two Advil tablets and hide under the covers until November arrives.

HOW THE Q-POLL PLAYED — Miami Herald, Clinton’s lead over Trump in Florida has vanished, poll finds – “Trump does even better over Clinton when the poll takes into account two third-party contenders, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. In that case, Trump bests Clinton 41-36 percent, with 7 percent for Johnson and 4 percent for Stein.” Talking Points Memo, Trump takes leads in Florida and Pennsylvania, remains tied in Ohio – “When minor party candidates are included in the poll questions, Trump leads Clinton in all three states.” POLITICO, Swing-state stunner: Trump has edge in key states – “But other polls give Clinton an advantage in all three states … POLITICO’s Battleground State polling average — which include the five most-recent polls in each state — gives Clinton a 3.2-point lead in Florida.” FiveThirtyEight.com, When to freak out about shocking new polls – “Here’s what not to do when you see a potential ‘outlier’ … Don’t throw the poll out … Don’t get lost in the crosstabs … Don’t get mad because the polls disagree. There’s less to fight about when polls show similar results. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll turn out to be more accurate.” Reuters, Trump pulls just ahead in two key U.S. states – “Clinton lost ground on honesty and moral standards.” WESH, Trump has edge over Clinton in Florida – “Overall, however, the new poll again reflected deep divisions among voters based on race, gender and age. Trump dominates among white voters, men and older Floridians. Clinton holds big leads among nonwhite voters, women and younger people.” Politics USA, Here’s why Quinnipiac’s polls showing Trump leading Clinton are totally wrong – “Each Quinnipiac University poll assumes that white voter turnout will go up, African-American turnout will stay the same, and Hispanic turnout will drop. If Quinnipiac’s white voter turnout was adjusted to actual voter turnout levels, Clinton would lead by 3 points in Pennsylvania, 5 points in Ohio, and be tied in Florida … the oversampling of white voters is only half of the problem. Quinnipiac’s polling also underrepresents minorities. Quinnipiac is projecting an electorate that is nothing like who are likely to vote in November.”

I HAVE ‘REAL ISSUES’ WITH Q POLLING IN FLORIDA via Steve Schale – But here’s easier argument why you should take ALL of their numbers in Florida with a grain of salt: they were wildly inaccurate throughout the 2012 cycle, and based on their first two polls: Clinton +8, and Trump +3, one can reasonably assume they haven’t fixed whatever issues they had from four years ago, where I am not sure they could have accurately counted the final score of Florida/Florida State (it was 27-2 FSU if you have forgotten). In 2012, the Q poll was a total dumpster fire in Florida. In May, Q held a press call and basically declared the state for Mitt Romney, showing us -6. Then the next four polls were Barack Obama +4, Obama +6, Obama +9 and Obama +1, while at the same time, the race remained exceptionally constant. Over the same time, the Real Clear Politics average in Florida went from Obama -1.4 to Obama -1.7. In 2008, they weren’t much better. They had about 12-point swing between May and September. For as much of a mess as Florida can be, it is a remarkably consistent state. There just isn’t 10-12 points of movement here.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: Despite Q poll bashing in Fla @FiveThirtyEight says Quinnipiac has a “good grade” and its polls are usually accurate

WHAT’S WITH THE NEW TRUMP MENTUM IN FLORIDA? via Philip Bump of The Washington Post – It’s clear that Trump has seen something of a boost over the last few weeks. Nationally, the gap between Clinton and Trump has shrunk about 2½ points from the end of June, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls. The RealClearPolitics average in the three states Quinnipiac reported has also moved toward Trump. However, that boost in the swing states is mostly because of these Quinnipiac polls. Polling averages use the polls that are available, and Quinnipiac is one of the few pollsters to run surveys in swing states regularly. We’ll note that in 9 of 10 Quinnipiac polls completed since March 1, Trump’s been doing better than the RCP average. But Quinnipiac’s recent polls aren’t necessarily outliers. Its Florida results in June and July mirror other surveys in those time periods. That change is mostly thanks to big movement from a few demographic groups: men, independents and nonwhite voters. In June, men backed Trump by 4 points in Florida. In the new poll, he leads by 21. That’s mostly a function of white men. In June, white men preferred Trump by 17 points. Now, it’s a 37-point margin.

MEANWHILE … HILLARY CLINTON’S NAT’L LEAD SHRINKS: A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump has withered to 3 points, 42% to 39%.

— VEEP WATCH —

DONALD TRUMP TO NAME VP PICK ON FRIDAY via Reid Epstein of The Wall Street Journal – Trump will end his vice presidential search and name his running mate on Friday in New York, campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Wednesday.

TRUMP WANTS AN ATTACK DOG AS HIS RUNNING MATE via Monica Langley and Janet Hook of the Wall Street Journal –  Trump is looking for a running mate who can be a “fighter skilled in hand-to-hand combat” to help him parry criticism on the campaign trail, and he has narrowed his list to a handful of seasoned politicians. Trump … said his top picks include Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and a couple politicians who haven’t gotten as much attention, including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions … he wanted a seasoned government leader as a running mate. But in the interview, on the way to events with Pence in Indiana, Trump added a new criterion: He wants an attack dog. “I’m getting attacked from all sides,” he said.

HOW SHORT IS TRUMP’S SHORT LIST? I mean I’m at three, potentially four. But in my own mind, I probably am thinking about two,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier in Indianapolis.

TWEET, TWEET: @DJGroup: Sure looks like Pence, but predicting what Trump will do is like picking which squirrel runs up the tree in the backyard first.

MORE 2016 STORIES

— “Clinton campaign announces 29 electors” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

— “Clinton to open field offices in Tallahassee, Tampa” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

— “In Citrus County, a strong show of support for Marco Rubio” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

TRANSITIONS — HELEN KALLA JOINING CLINTON’S FLORIDA CAMPAIGN AS REGIONAL PRESS SECRETARY — Helen Kalla is leaving her role as Rep. Lois Frankel’s communications director and is joining the Clinton campaign. Kalla announced she is joining the Clinton campaign as the regional press secretary in West Palm Beach, where she’ll be responsible for the West Palm Beach media market. A Georgia native, Kalla served as Frankel’s press secretary before taking over the communications director role. Kalla also worked in the office of Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, and interned for the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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HOT OFF EMBARGO — MARCO RUBIO OPENS UP 13 PT. LEAD OVER PATRICK MURPHY — Rubio has opened up double-digit leads over his Democratic opponents, U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, according to the latest poll from Quinnipiac University. Rubio leads Murphy 50 – 37 percent and Grayson 50 – 38 percent, according to the poll. Rubio does better among non-white voters than most Republican candidates, trailing Murphy 48 – 34 percent. White voters back Rubio 59 – 31 percent.

QUOTE OF THE DAY via Peter Brown of Quinnipiac Polling: “The breadth of Sen. Rubio’s lead against Rep. Patrick Murphy, who has the backing of the Democratic leadership, is impressive. He has a 19-point margin among independent voters and scores 10 points better among Republicans than Murphy does among Democrats.”

RUBIO’S SUMMER PLANS? FUNDRAISING, FUNDRAISING, FUNDRAISING via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The Florida Republican has scheduled 10 fundraising receptions in six weeks, according to a schedule his campaign sent donors … That includes a Miami event Aug. 25 — and a Houston event Aug. 31, the day after the Florida primary. The bulk of the fundraising, however, might be intended for the November general election, when Florida will be a key target for Democrats trying to pick up seats in the Senate. Candidates detest summertime campaigning and fundraising, because voters and donors aren’t paying much attention to politics when they’re kids are out of school and the family is spending time off out of town or otherwise out of their typical routine.

PATRICK MURPHY SOUGHT DELAY IN ALGAE RELIEF NEWS SO HE COULD ANNOUNCE AT PRESS CONFERENCE via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “Is it possible for you to hold the announcement until Thursday and allow Congressman Murphy to announce it at a press conference?” Murphy’s legislative assistant wrote in an email … to an official at the Small Business Administration. Murphy, a Democratic candidate for Senate, was holding an “algal bloom panel discussion this Thursday along with a press conference.” The SBA said it had “no problem” holding off but asked Gov. Scott‘s administration, noting a prompt response was desired “as we have personnel and supplies en route to Florida.” No way, Scott officials replied, noting the governor wanted the relief “made available immediately.” Local government officials agreed, according to an email from Scott’s deputy chief of staff, Brad Piepenbrink. The email exchange, found in the Project Sunburst database Scott created, gives the impression Murphy wanted to take credit for the relief.

MURPHY CAMP PUSHBACK: “It is unacceptable that Governor Rick Scott is looking to score partisan points over a federal emergency relief program that Congressman Murphy has vocally supported. Of course our office did not request for this program to be delayed. Anyone who reads the original email can see that we did not. The official emails that Republicans are distributing to press intentionally leave out the Small Business Administration’s email to our office on Monday morning, which suggests no impending announcement. As soon as our office became aware of Martin County’s desire to make the announcement on Wednesday, we fully supported them. It is deeply disappointing that Governor Rick Scott’s office would take out of context this standard request to coordinate a media strategy with a federal agency. Congressman Murphy’s consistent support for Martin County’s environmental efforts is why he has been repeatedly commended by the Martin County Commission. For the past three months, Congressman Murphy has led the charge with the Small Business Administration to provide disaster loan relief to businesses in his district affected by toxic discharges and algae.”

CARLOS BERUFF CALLS OUT RUBIO FOR NOT SUPPORTING DONALD TRUMP IN NEW AD via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “Why does Marco Rubio refuse to support Donald Trump,” a female announcer is heard saying in the 30-second spot. “Is it just sour grapes because Florida chose Trump instead of Rubio? Or is it because Trump opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, while Rubio supports amnesty? Or is because Trump wants a temporary ban on middle eastern immigrants, while Rubio disagrees? Or maybe it’s because Trump wants to secure our borders.” The ad, called “Why,” then shows Beruff, who says he supports Trump and will “help him secure our borders.” While some Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Trump, Beruff has been gravitating toward him. He has said he supports securing the borders, and in April said he thought there should be a ban on immigration from Middle Eastern countries.

BERUFF’S LONELY, LONGSHOT BID TO DEFEAT RUBIO via Alexis Levinson of National Review – “I’m a Rubio guy. And I told him that,” says Michael Randazzo, who chatted with Beruff in the ballroom of the Hilton Garden Inn before the event … “But I’m a Rubio guy ’cause Rubio’s there now. And I kind of like him. …  He’s made mistakes, Rubio, but not enough to not be a senator.” This is the crux of the problem facing Beruff … who suddenly finds himself mounting a primary challenge to a popular and well-known incumbent: Whatever Rubio may have done, Florida Republicans still like him . . . enough. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Beruff entered the race … he joined a field of four largely unknown candidates vying to replace Rubio, who had decided not to run for re-election. Beruff, too, was unknown and still is … But unlike the other four candidates, Beruff stayed in the race after Rubio changed his mind … “Quitting is not part of my DNA.” Beruff’s wealth is part of what originally made him an appealing candidate for national Republicans: The National Republican Senatorial Committee is defending incumbents or open seats in at least seven highly competitive races. Someone who could self-fund a campaign in Florida, a gigantic state that demands resources proportionate to its size, could help free up money for other competitive seats.

WHAT IS BERUFF REALLY RUNNING FOR? via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist – “Beruff didn’t get where he is in life by being an idiot, and trying to beat Rubio in this primary is about as useful as giving me his money to go on vacation,” said Steve Schale, a Democrat political consultant. “The fact he hasn’t gone hard at Rubio on TV says to me he understands the odds, and he also understands there is a huge opening on the GOP side for an outsider in 2018.” Indeed, that’s the same model Rick Scott followed in 2010, and Beruff’s political consultants are some of the same architects of Scott’s 2010 outsider campaign strategy. “He’s using this run to raise his name ID, build relationships, and establish himself as the change agent in the 2018 GOP field,” Schale adds. When asked about the possibility of a 2018 campaign, Chris Hartline, Beruff’s spokesman, refused to answer the question. the fact that neither he, nor Beruff’s recent television ad, “Clean House” make mention of Rubio is ample evidence that Beruff already has his mind made up. For a self-funding campaign that allegedly has millions of dollars on hand, less than 2,700 of Florida’s estimated 2 million likely GOP primary voters have seen a recent anti-Rubio “attack ad” Beruff’s digital team posted on YouTube, and even fewer have seen the newest ad, “Clean House.” This is not what a well-funded campaign – digital or otherwise – looks like if it’s playing to win.

STEPHANIE MURPHY RAISES $126K TO BEGIN CHALLENGE TO JOHN MICA via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Democrat congressional candidate Murphy raised $126,346 during the first week of her campaign, an amount that includes $11,000 in personal loans. Murphy, an investment firm executive and a Rollins College professor from Winter Park, filed June 22 to run against longtime Republican Rep. Mica in the newly-drawn 7th Congressional District. The seat was reworked as part of a redistricting legal challenge, and now has Mica representing a district that was a tossup during the 2012 presidential election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Mica. It has reserved $3 million in general election TV time to hammer Mica … The 13-term congressman has just under $640,000 cash on hand. During the first quarter, he raised $128,510. Murphy announced her campaign finances, including $115,551 cash on hand, in a press release.

— “Osceola Politics Facebook poll shows Valleri Crabtree may not be so unknown in CD 9 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

BOB POE RADIO COMMERCIAL REFERENCES PULSE, DALLAS, SHOOTINGS OF BLACKS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Poe is releasing his first radio commercial … using the recent tragic shootings in Orlando and Dallas, and of African-Americans, to tout his gun-control proposals in Florida’s 10th Congressional District race. Poe also is sending out his first mailer with the theme “To make a difference you have to be a difference” … Voiced over by an African-American woman, it begins dramatically, with “When the bullets began to fly into the crowded dance floor of the club that night, it was a senseless tragedy. And the whole world took notice. But something needs to be said. In too many parts of our community, people wake to gunfire every night. No national headlines. Just fear. Bob Poe knows that.” It then goes on to say that Poe also knows if something is not done, there will still be “the routine traffic stop that ends in tragedy” … “or a sniper who kills police officers in cold blood” … “Like you, Bob Poe knows until Congress gets real, it will not stop,” she continues. It then declares he wants “real” gun control, to get guns off the street, and to stand up to the gun lobby. The mailer talks about his gun control positions but also broadly covers some of Poe’s other positions, including his commitment to a $15 minimum wage and offering second chances to people who have been incarcerated.

GERALDINE THOMPSON OFFERING LIFE STORIES IN CD 10 RACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … starting with a story about her mother’s struggles to raise a family. Thompson’s piece on her mother, the late Annie Fortenberry, tells of how the single mom raised a big family supported by agricultural and construction jobs in south Dade County, while encouraging them to get educations. The piece, posted on her campaign website and shared through social media, mixes remembrances with statements of her own efforts in the Florida Legislature and policy goals if she gets elected to Congress. She said she plans to add a couple of items a week to the series, called “My Journey” … “I think people [in politics] see one side of you and they don’t necessarily get to the humanity we all share. This is the objective: for them to see me in ways they see themselves,” she said. The debut piece discusses the long hours, wage theft and injuries she saw her extended family members endure to make ends meet, and describes how her mother pushed her toward opportunities her uncles and aunts could never reach.

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SNARK ALERT — “Is Senate candidate Doug Broxson running in the Panhandle … or Jacksonville?” via Florida Politics

INTERNAL POLL SHOWS DEBBIE MAYFIELD WALLOPING RITCH WORKMAN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Mayfield has a 21 percent lead over Workman. The findings — particularly a competitive showing in Brevard County, strong support in Indian River County, and leads among key demographics — show Mayfield is in a position to win come Aug. 30. The survey … shows Mayfield leads Workman in Brevard County, part of which he’s represented for the last eight years. Thirty percent of Brevard County respondents said they preferred Mayfield, while 26 percent picked Workman. Forty-one percent of respondents said they were still undecided. Mayfield is blowing Workman out of the water in Indian River County, where 60 percent of respondents said they preferred her in the primary. Just 9 percent of Indian River County respondents picked Workman … Mayfield’s message is reaching more voters and leaving a positive impression with more voters than Workman. The survey shows 54 percent of respondents who had heard of Mayfield said they were left with a positive impression of her. Only 39 percent of respondents said the same about Workman. The Vero Beach Republican also leads Workman in critical demographics, including women, where she leads the Melbourne Republican by 28 percent; respondents over the age of 65, where she holds a 29 percent lead; and those who self-identify as very conservative, where she holds a 27 percent lead.

DAVID GEE LOANS $100 K TO SD 12 CAMPAIGN, STILL LAGS BEHIND GOP RIVALS via Florida Politics – Gee threw another $100,000 of his own money into his Senate District 12 campaign … still lags behind GOP Reps. Dennis Baxley and Marlene O’Toole in the money race. Gee … has so far loaned his campaign $205,000 while bringing in less than $4,000 in outside contributions. After $88,422 in expenditures over two weeks, the candidate had $60,000 on hand. More than $50,000 of Gee’s expenditures went to Tallahassee-based Southern Campaign Resources for consulting services and an ad-buy on Brighthouse TV. The bulk of the rest went to Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems, mainly for digital advertising.

DARRYL ROUSON AND ED NARAIN BATTLE IT OUT ON POLICY IN SD 19 NAACP SPONSORED DEBATE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – At an NAACP sponsored campaign forum with the four Democrats running for the Senate District 19 seat in South St. Petersburg, the first question posed to the candidates by moderator Patrick Manteiga was where the candidates stood on charters, which have received major funding from Florida’s GOP-led Legislature in recent years … “I do believe families should have choices,” said former District 61 state representative Betty Reed, who said her daughter runs a charter school. Reed did say she doesn’t believe “a lot of money” should go into charters if they aren’t governed by the same standards as regular public schools. Darryl Rouson … seemed to want to have it both ways. “I believe that parents should have a choice, but I am invested in public schools, and I want a strong, high quality, free, accessible public education for our children. But I do not believe one size fits all” … “Vouchers are not going to save all of our kids,” said Ed Narain … Who has been endorsed by the Florida Education Association. “We can’t pick and choose. We’ve seen these public charters rip millions away from the state of Florida’s education budget, and we’ve gotten no return.” “I agree with the NAACP,” said attorney Augie Ribeiro, the newest entrant into the race. “In the nation we need to build and have a strong public and robust educational system,” he said, adding that there could be exceptions.

BRIAN HODGERS HITS AIRWAVES IN HD 52 WITH FIRST AD OF CAMPAIGN via Orlando Rising – “My business experience has taught me that it’s very difficult to hire more people when my taxes go up, and I have to spend more time complying with government regulations,” Hodgers said in a news release. “Our conservative message of limiting government is resonating with business owners and employees alike, and I look forward to fighting in Tallahassee to make sure Florida’s economy is creating more jobs.” The ad shows Hodgers meeting with veterans and factory workers, with a narrator saying the Republican candidate “will fight the overreach of the federal government … opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants” and “has the experience to strengthen our economy” … “I’ve been in business all my life, and I know what it takes to create jobs,” Hodgers said in the ad. “Every day, I will work to cut taxes and stop the overregulation. And for small businesses and their workers, I will always have your back.” Hodgers is one of four Republicans running for the HD 52 seat being vacated by Melbourne Republican Rep. Workman, who is running for Senate.

USED NEWS — “’Republican’ is blunt weapon in brawl for Broward Senate seat” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times on July 13; “SD 34 contenders trade barbs over Jim Waldman’s NRA votes” via Florida Politics on July 9,

MORE USED NEWS — “Inside the NRA questionnaire” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union on July 8; “An inside look at the legislative questionnaire gauntlet” (including the NRA’s) via Florida Politics on June 8

FLORIDA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MAKES 5 SENATE PRIMARY ENDORSEMENTS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The three Republicans backed by the Chamber in its latest round of endorsements have also been backed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Associated Industries of Florida, another one of the state’s largest business lobbies, has not yet made its primary endorsements. The Chamber is backing Republican Doug Holder for the Senate District 23 seat … Holder’s primary opponents include state Rep. Greg Steube and former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson … also include Republican Kathleen Passidomo … who is running in Senate District 28 against fellow Republican Rep. Matt Hudson, and incumbent Republican Rep. Ritch Workman in his Senate District 17 primary fight with Rep. Debbie Mayfield. On the Democratic side, the Chamber endorsed Rep. Ed Narain‘s bid for the Tampa-based Senate District 19 seat … The group also endorsed Democrat Bobby Powell in Senate District 30. He is running in the primary against trial attorney Michael Steinger.

MORE ENDORSEMENTS:

Sean Shaw, running for House District 61, has been endorsed by the Florida Carpenters Regional Council.

Bob Rommel, running for House District 106, won the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Nick Duran, running for House District 112, received the endorsement of the SEIU Florida.

Ivette Gonzalez Petrovich, running for House District 103, has been endorsed by the United Teachers of Dade.

FLORIDA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION ENDORSEMENTS CAN BOOST CANDIDATES IN 2016 ELECTIONS via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – What exactly determines who will be one of the lucky candidates endorsed by the FEA? [FEA spokesperson MarkPudlow said an endorsement from the union depends on a few things. First, candidates have to be defenders of the group’s main cause — which is, of course, public education. “Support is predicated upon a belief in our public education system first, in those who serve our children, in the belief that these voices need much more representation from elected officials and that their collective action as set forth in law should not be threatened or denigrated. This is true nationally, statewide and locally,” he explained. But a bleeding heart for public education isn’t going to get just anybody an endorsement from the FEA. The group wants to see real contenders fighting for its mission — and it wants to make sure whichever candidate it gives the go-ahead to is going to actually go places. “It is not just positions but electability that matters because dollars are scarce and we are not the big spenders,” Pudlow said. “Our strength is in our members.” Party affiliation doesn’t seem to have much pull when it comes to endorsements, but the group seems to lean toward Democrats versus Republicans for endorsements, since Democrats often tend to support positions similar to the FEA’s, like opposing the statewide voucher program, which remains popular with conservatives.

SPOTTED at The Station House in St. Petersburg: Future Senate Presidents Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson, along with Rep. Dana Young. Also SPOTTED: Chris Dudley, Cameron Yarbrough.

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND: Senate President-designate Joe Negron, Sens. Galvano, Simpson, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rob Bradley, and David Simmons will be summer fundraising at the Boothbay Harbor home 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. More than 80 Floridicos are expected to attend.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov Scott will attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. at CVS Health, 9310 South Park Center Loop in Orlando. Media is asked to RSVP to Erin Britt at Erin.Britt@cvshealth.com. Scott will then attend a ceremonial bill signing at 1 p.m. at the State Attorney’s Office, 2725 Judge Fran Jamison Way in Melbourne. The governor will return to Orlando at 6:30 p.m. to announce Florida’s 2017 Teacher of the Year at 6:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Live at Universal Orlando, 6050 Universal Boulevard in Orlando.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING — FLORIDA ADDS NEARLY 15 K JOBS IN JUNE via Florida Politics – The Sunshine State added 14,700 private sector jobs last month … The performance is slightly down from May, when Florida added 17,100 jobs and is down nearly 7,000 jobs from June 2015, when the state added 21,400 new private sector jobs. Still, Florida’s numbers bested all other states tracked in the report except California, which saw a gain of 26,900 jobs in June … The majority of Florida’s new jobs headed into the service industry, while 2,100 headed to goods-producing sectors. According to the industry breakdown, the state added 3,700 professional and business services jobs, 1,300 manufacturing jobs, 1,200 trade, transportation and utilities jobs and 700 natural resources, mining and construction jobs. Regionally, the South and the West tied with 53,000 jobs each, followed by the Northeast with 34,000 jobs and the Midwest with 32,000.

RICK SCOTT’S APPROVAL RATING via Quinnipiac Polling: Voters give Gov. Rick Scott a split 43 – 44 percent approval rating.

— THE PLAGUE BEAT — 

Algae:

GWEN GRAHAM FIRES BACK AT RICK SCOTT, CALLS FOR SPECIAL SESSION TO DEAL WITH ALGAE DISASTER via Florida Politics – Graham is [calling] for a special session of the Florida Legislature — to a letter written by Scott regarding the federal government’s role in the developing crisis along the state’s Treasure Coast, where algae blooms are creating an emergency-level natural disaster. Graham writes that she is “disappointed to see that, instead of advocating comprehensive solutions to this disaster,” Scott … blames Obama and advocates only a partial solution – maintaining and repairing Lake Okeechobee’s Herbert Hoover Dike. Graham spoke to a number of stakeholders – the Indian Riverkeeper and business owners on the Treasure Coast – and claims they are “frustrated with [the] state government and hungry for [Scott] to show leadership on this issue.” The algae bloom, writes Graham, is yet another data point in a troubling pattern. “Your administration has ignored sea level rise, weakened water-quality standards and dismantled environmental standards,” Graham continued. After advancing the idea that Scott could be the first governor in modern times who “actively worked to harm Florida’s environment,” Graham offered a call to action, with four tangible steps Scott could take to atone for his neglect of Florida’s natural resources.

— “Sen. Joe Negron talks about algae bloom issue” via WPBF.com

DEP TO OVERSEE SECOND ALGAE CLEANUP; LOAN OFFICE OPENS IN MARTIN COUNTY via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – The state is planning a second effort to remove algae from the St. Lucie River, this time at Central Marine Stuart in Rio and possibly using a different method … DEP is discussing the proposed project with two companies: Stuart-based Ecosphere Technologies, which removed algae at another Rio marina over the weekend, and another unknown company that uses an unknown method, Central Marine owner Mary Radabaugh said. The method may be “mechanical,” Deborah Drum, Martin County’s environmental restoration manager, told county commissioners at a meeting … The effort follows Ecosphere Technologies’ project that removed much of the matted algae from a boat basin at Outboards Only using a high-tech system of electric shock, high-frequency sound and ozone. How much of the algae, bacteria and toxins were killed will be determined by tests of “before” and “after” water samples taken from the site. Results are expected by the end of the week.

MANATEE DEATHS RESUME IN INDIAN RIVER via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel – Manatee deaths linked to pollution have resumed in the algae-stricken Indian River Lagoon of Brevard County … Since the end of May, eight manatee carcasses have been recovered, bearing signs of trauma that has killed more than 150 of the marine mammals in the past four years. “We are still narrowing down the cause, but the hypothesis is still that the change of vegetation that the manatees are eating makes them to susceptible to complications in their guts,” said Martine de Wit, lead veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg. “It gives them acute shock.”

NIXON GOES TO CHINA BLOG POST OF THE DAY: It is time to stop blaming big Sugar” via Brian Crowley of the Crowley Report

AGRICULTURE, SUGAR DOESN’T DESERVE ALL THE BLAME FOR ALGAE BLOOM, FARM BUREAU FEDERATION SAYS via Florida Politics – Agriculture group Florida Farm Bureau Federation said … sugar isn’t as culpable for the harmful Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River algal blooms as some groups contend. “Special interest groups have targeted agriculture as the sole cause of these blooms to promote buying more land for a ‘flow way’ south of Lake Okeechobee, even though a vast amount of research indicates that doing so will harm the remnant Everglades,” the group said in a news release. Though lake releases are one factor in the bloom, the bureau is pointing to a study from Florida Atlantic University professor Brian LaPointe, Ph.D., which details the harmful role the region’s aging septic systems are playing. More than 300,000 septic tanks border the Indian River Lagoon between Volusia and Martin counties, and as many as half of those were installed more than 30 years ago. LaPointe’s study found high levels of nitrogen in the waterway which points to sewage, not fertilizer, polluting the lagoon.

Climate Change:

FLORIDA TOPS NATION IN DANGEROUS RISK OF HEAT AND HUMIDITY, STUDY FINDS via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald – The sunshine state, according to a study by Climate Central, tops the nation in the number of metro areas expected to see a dangerous combination of heat and humidity, driving heat index temperatures to 104 degrees. By 2050, all 13 cities on the list, including Miami, Tampa, Naples and Vero Beach, will see 100-plus days a year of the miserable mix that can cause a host of health problems and even death — meaning more weather that feels like South Florida’s last few sticky, searing weeks. Miami also comes in first for the number of days expected to top 90 degrees, with nearly twice as many as the next in line, sizzling McAllen, Texas. “Heat is already the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S. It’s not floods or hurricane or tornadoes,” said Alyson Kenward, an author of the report and a senior scientist at Climate Central, a nonprofit news organization staffed by scientists and journalists. “These hot and sticky conditions have already been increasing since the 1970s and in the future, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the rate they’ve been going, we’re going to see more and more dangerous heat conditions,” she said.

Citrus:

USDA’S FINAL FLORIDA ORANGE CROP ESTIMATE via The Produce News – The U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged the 2015-16 Florida orange crop at 81.5 million boxes. While this marks a 16 percent decrease from the 2014-15 crop of 96.8 million boxes of oranges, it’s a significant improvement over the estimate in December, which was 69 million boxes, nearly 30 percent below last year’s crop. In the USDA’s final estimate, Valencia oranges totaled 45.4 million boxes while Florida produced 36.1 million boxes of early and mid-season varieties. The USDA’s July report put the 2015-16 Florida grapefruit crop at 10.85 million boxes. Specialty citrus finished at 1.82 million boxes.

Zika:

MARCO RUBIO HOLDS HEARING ON ZIKA VIRUS, BUT GETS STUNG BY GOP RIVAL AND DEMOCRATS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – With Florida health officials reporting 293 cases of the mosquito-borne virus in the state, including 43 pregnant women affected, Rubioopened the Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing to take testimony from a range of federal health officials and disease experts. Still, it’s looking unlikely that the House and Senate will settle their standoff over funding to fight the Zika virus, with Congress set to recess Friday for most of the summer. [CarlosBeruff, who is airing a new TV spot pledging his support for Donald Trump and criticizing Rubio for being “too timid” to help the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, also lashed out at his rival over Zika. “Now that Marco Rubio needs Floridians’ votes, he’s all of a sudden interested in an issue that’s been on the horizon for over a year and has been impacting Floridians since January,” said Chris Hartline, a Beruff spokesman. Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant also ripped “no show Rubio” for having “waited a full year before deciding to hold his first hearing on the virus.”

BRIGHT FUTURES RENEWALS DECLINE, SCHOLARSHIPS COULD DROP 20% via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Politics – Fewer than two out of every 10 Florida high school graduates qualify for a Bright Futures scholarship that helps pay their tuition and fees at state universities and colleges … New data, being reviewed by the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, shows that the number may be improving, with an initial projection suggesting it could rise from 13.8 percent of graduates in the most recent school year to 17.5 percent in the 2016-17 academic year. At the same time, while more high students may qualify for Bright Futures, data from the state Department of Education shows fewer students are renewing their scholarships once they are in a college or university. It is particularly true for Bright Futures “medallion scholars,” with 73,636 renewing their scholarships in 2014-15 but dropping to a projected 46,756 this year. The renewal decline is a primary reason the total number of Bright Futures scholarships is projected to fall 20 percent, with 128,545 scholarships in 2014-15 dropping to about 102,000 this year. The fall is even more dramatic when compared to the program’s historic peak of about 179,000 students. All those numbers are important because a revamp of the Bright Futures program is a major element in incoming Senate President Joe Negron’s initiative to improve Florida’s higher-education system.

BUSINESSES EYE NOVEMBER ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION FOR WORK COMP DEBATE via Christine Sexton of POLITICO – A list of legislative recommendations on what can be done to “fix” Florida’s workers’ compensation will be finalized in time for potential consideration in the November organizational session, one of Tallahassee’s top business lobbyists said … “We think that is most likely the practical time when you could have the focus to do a fix that is significant,” Associated Industries of Florida President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Feeney [said]. “We would love it if it were earlier than that, but we’d be surprised.” Feeney refused to disclose the details of what will be included in the group’s recommendations, but said they will stem from discussions had from a trio of meetings that Associated Industries of Florida, along with the National Federation of Independent Business-Florida, held across the state … it is the first time since the Supreme Court rulings on workers’ compensation that AIF has mentioned the potential of handling workers’ compensation during the November organizational session. The Legislature routinely calls an organizational session in November following elections to swear in the newly elected members and to transition legislative leadership.

DENISE GRIMSLEY: HEALTH CARE TOP ISSUE FOR 2017 LEGISLATURE via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics – Health care — and expanded Medicaid funds offered by the federal government — are still on the minds of many Floridians if a barrage of questions from [the] Tiger Bay of Polk County luncheon is any indication. Grimsley … came to the lunch prepared to discuss the accomplishments of the 2016 Florida Legislature. Asked for the top issues the Legislature can expect to deal with, Grimsley — who will be there since she drew no opponent during qualifying — said health care. The second issue, she said, would be water issues dealing most notably with the need for dike repairs on Lake Okeechobee, Indian River’s continued problems and the demand by some in South Florida that the state buy up all of the sugar-growing lands. She had candid and succinct remarks on Republican Gov. Scott’s method of vetoing bills approved by both House and Senate. “Under Jeb Bush, you knew why he was going to veto a bill, whether you liked it or not,” she said.

OP-EDLEGISLATORS MUST COMMIT TO TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE BUDGETING PROCESS via Dominic Calabro for Florida Politics – July 1 marked the first day of Florida’s 2016-17 fiscal year with the new $82.3 billion budget and 159 laws going into effect. The budget, the largest in Florida history, funds all types of services for Floridians, ranging from education and health care to state parks and court renovations. Passing a state budget is required by the Florida Constitution and involves extremely difficult decisions. Still, it is imperative that our elected officials exercise accountability and transparency in the budgeting process. The hardworking taxpayers of Florida rightfully expect that lawmakers will thoroughly vet all appropriations before adding them to the budget. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. During the 2015 Special Session, 189 local projects worth $167 million made it into the budget without deliberation during the conference portion of the budget process. These “budget turkeys” comprise a small amount of the total budget; however, circumventing the vetting process and sneaking projects into the budget is not a responsible way to allocate taxpayer funds. It is imperative that legislators hear the concerns of Floridians and ensure that these projects are no longer added during conference without first being subject to thoughtful deliberation by all members of the Legislature.

FLORIDA SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION ELECTS FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Politics – Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings will lead the organization, which represents the 66 elected sheriffs in the state and the appointed public safety director in Miami-Dade County. Demings, a native of Orlando who has been the Orange County sheriff since 2008, has recently been in the national spotlight with the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the death of a 2-year-old boy, who was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World. He is running for re-election this year. “It is truly an honor to be the new president of FSA,” Demings said in a statement. “I am thrilled to serve as the leader of such a worthy organization, and I will not take this opportunity lightly.”

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Josh Aubuchon, Lawrence Curtin, Mark Delegal, Lawrence Sellers, Holland & Knight: Helena Chemical Company

Michael Cantens, Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Valet Waste

Karen Skyers, Becker & Poliakoff: City of Palatka

EMERA PLEDGES STRONG COMMUNITY SUPPORT IN FLORIDA via William Levesque of the Tampa Bay Times – TECO Energy’s days as an independent company with 115-year roots in Tampa officially ended July 1 with the completion of its $10.4 billion sale to the Canadian conglomerate Emera Inc. Emera’s leader, president and chief executive officer Chris Huskilson reiterated his company’s commitment to maintain strong philanthropic and personal ties to Tampa Bay while supporting the region’s economic growth. “Philosophically as an organization we believe that we have to make contributions to the communities in which we live and work,” Huskilson said at a meeting with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. “It’s a really simple equation for us. And that is, if the community prospers, we prosper because we serve the community. So the community prospering is a critically important part of our success.” Huskilson said Emera is creating a local board to oversee its new Florida operations and to direct community engagement as TECO’s board formerly did before the sale. Emera had already pledged that there will be no significant job losses with its acquisition. Emera and TECO Energy each brought 3,700 employees to their corporate marriage, or 7,400 total. About 2,500 of those work in Tampa. The combined companies now serve 2.5 million customers, about 1 million of those in Florida.

FPL TOPS IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, JD POWER RANKINGS via Florida Politics – Florida Power & Light topped consumer satisfaction rankings, according to a customer survey conducted by market research company J.D. Power. “We’re honored to serve our customers so we’re humbled to know they value the work we do,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “We’re proud that our service is cleaner and more reliable than ever before while our typical customer bills are the lowest in Florida and among the lowest in the nation, and we want our customers to know we plan to continue investing in improvements to their service.” The 2016 Electric Utility Residential Survey brought in responses from more than 100,000 utility customers across the country and examines six factors: price; power quality and reliability; billing and payment; communications; corporate citizenship; and customer service. Among utility companies with more than 500,000 customers, FPL took the top overall spot and the price, billing and payment, communications and corporate citizenship categories. The company also scored higher than any other Florida utility, regardless of size.

CONGRATS — JOSÉ DÍAZ BALART NAMED NBC NIGHTLY NEWS’ SATURDAY ANCHOR via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Díaz-Balart … will be the full-time anchor of “NBC Nightly News” on Saturdays, the network announced … That will make him the only solo Hispanic anchor of a U.S. English-language network newscast. Díaz-Balart has been part of a group of rotating Saturday-night anchors since November. He will continue to head two Telemundo programs from Miami: “Noticiero” on weekday evenings and “Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart” Sunday mornings. He’s also a frequent “Meet the Press” roundtable panelist. He will no longer anchor on MSNBC. Díaz-Balart is the brother of Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

FUN READ — 44 FAKE PRESIDENTS FROM WORST TO BEST via the Wall Street Journal – 44. President Jack Cahill … Cliff Robertson in “Escape from L.A.” (1996). 43. President Francis Underwood … Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards” (2014- ). 42. President Allen Richmond …  Gene Hackman in “Absolute Power” (1997). 41. President Fitzgerald Grant III … Tony Goldwyn in “Scandal” (2012-). 40. President William Haney … Dan Aykroyd in “My Fellow Americans” (1996). 39. President Selina Meyer … Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep” (2015-2016). 38. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho … Terry Crews in “Idiocracy” (2006) … 6. President Douglass Dilman … James Earl Jones in “The Man” (1972) 5. Davie Kovic … Kevin Kline in “Dave” (1993). 4. President James Sawyer… Jamie Foxx in “White House Down” (2013). 3. President Thomas J. Whitmore … Bill Pullman in “Independence Day” (1996) and “Independence Day: Resurgence” (2016). 2. President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet … Martin Sheen in “The West Wing (1999-2006). 1. President James Marshall … Harrison Ford in “Air Force One” (1997).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Mike Vasilinda.

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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