Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 7.19.17 – Rick Scott’s above water; Dan Webster draws a challenger; Dems helping DLP? Trulieve opening in the ‘burg; #MadMen10

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Last call for summer reads, Florida politicos!

With about nine weeks until lawmakers and influencers head back to Tallahassee for committee meetings and are bogged down with committee reports, staff analyses, and budget recommendations, we want to hear what you’re reading for pleasure this summer.

Tell us what’s in your beach bag, brief case or on your night stand. Send an email to with what you’re reading by 5 p.m. today to be included in our round-up.

And don’t worry, this is a no judgement zone. For example, Jim Rosica is proud to say he’s spent the summer reading “Hop on Pop” (he is a dad to two young kids, after all).

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A new poll released by Morning Consult found 52 percent of Sunshine State voters approve of the job Republican Gov. Rick Scott is doing, while 37 percent disapprove.

The new rating shows a drop for the second-term governor compared to the previous edition of the rankings, where 57 percent of voters approved of him and 34 percent disapproved for a net loss of 8 percent, from plus-23 to plus-15 among voters.

Scott’s numbers put him in the middle of the pack among the nation’s governors.

His approval rating was good enough to put him in a tie for 27th place alongside the governors of California, Delaware, South Carolina and Washington, while his negatives put him in league with the governors of California and Pennsylvania for the 14th highest disapproval rating.

Rick Scott’s job approval numbers put him in the middle of the pack among the nation’s governors.

The Morning Consult poll collected responses from 195,704 registered voters nationwide between April 1 and July 10. In addition to opinions on their state’s governor, voters were asked whether they approve or disapprove of the job performance of President Donald Trump, both of their U.S. senators, their representative in the House and their mayor.

The data covering senators, released last week, found both of Florida’s senators were in positive territory among voters.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth at Florida Forklift, 1063 Haines Street in Jacksonville at 10:30 a.m. He’ll then head to Orangetheory Fitness Corporate Headquarters, 6000 Broken Sound Pkwy NW in Boca Raton at 2:30 p.m. to highlight job growth.


Scott’s political team helping directly shape administration decisions” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Gov. Scott’s political team has been playing a direct role in the operation of his official taxpayer-funded office, a dynamic administration officials refuse to acknowledge but is having a palpable impact on state government. Despite facing term-limits, Scott’s political committee has continued to raise huge sums of campaign cash, which is funding a team of long-time advisers. That group is both doing overt political activity like polling and cutting ads, but also things like churning out messaging used by the governor’s office and vetting candidates for appointments to influential state posts.

— In the biggest example of Scott’s political team influencing state business, Curt Anderson, a longtime Scott political adviser, held direct interviews with potential CFO picks to ensure the successful appointee would adhere to a set of stipulations. Scott was tasked with appointing a new CFO after Jeff Atwater announced he was resigning earlier this year. … Anderson has been one of Scott’s top advisers since 2010 when he shocked Florida’s political world by defeating then-Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary.

— Since taking office, Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, has paid $35 million to On Message, a firm founded, in part, by Anderson.

— “In the seven-and-a-half years I have worked for Rick Scott, I have offered advice; sometimes it is good advice, sometimes less so,” Anderson said in an email. “Sometimes the advice is taken and sometimes it’s not. Other than that, I don’t share the substance of client conversations with other people.”

Andrew Gillum tells Orange Democrats it’s time for leaders to take on difficult conversations” via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsGillum, speaking before perhaps 200 people gathered at the Orange County Democratic executive committee meeting, charged that Democrats have not been able to win the governor’s office because they have run candidates who show fear, who were not unapologetic advocates for the party’s values. It is time, he said for leaders to have difficult conversations. “We need to go out there and tell people, tell people who it is we are, what believe in. that we believe in a strong public education system, that we believe in second changes, that if people make a mistake in their lives they should be able to come back, get a job and make a living for themselves and their families. We shouldn’t be afraid to tell people that we believe in science.”

Assignment editors: Gwen Graham will hold a health care work day at 6 p.m. at Shephard’s Hope, 600 N. U.S. Hwy 1792, Suite 124 in Longwood. Media interested in attend are asked to RSVP to Matt Harringer at

“Adam Putnam sees “pathway” to open carry, campus carry” via Florida PoliticsPutnam Tuesday said “there is absolutely a pathway” to bring back open carry and to permit what’s called “campus carry” in Florida. “We have a track record of law-abiding citizens in Florida who submit their fingerprints, undergo background checks, and lawfully exercise their Second Amendment right,” he told reporters. Putnam spoke at Tallahassee’s National Guard Armory at an event on his initiative to expedite applications for concealed weapon licenses (CWLs) from active-duty service members and veterans. He was joined by fellow Cabinet member Jimmy Patronis, who pulled out his wallet to show his license.

Assignment editors: Putnam will host an “Up & Adam” breakfast at 9 a.m. (CDT) at Granny Cantrell’s, 103 W. 23rd Street in Panama City.

Motion in the ocean – Putnam, Ron DeSantis at Lobsterfest” via News Service of FloridaPutnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis are scheduled to appear at the Aug. 17 event, which will be held at the tony Polo Club in Boca Raton. The GOP club is billing the dinner as the “premiere political event” of the summer. … Also scheduled to appear at the event are two other prominent Republican leaders, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast. The $145 tickets can be obtained at

Assignment editors: Sen. Jack Latvala is expected to speak about state politics and the Legislature during the Florida Municipal Electric Association annual conference at 1:45 p.m. at the Sawgrass Marriott, 1000 PGA Tour Blvd. in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Sam Allen seeks to push ACA in challenge of Daniel Webster” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster has picked up a Democratic challenger in Florida’s 11th Congressional District, with Samuel Allen seeking to make the Affordable Care Act the centerpiece of his campaign. Allen, 30, of Tavares, is a telecommunications specialist who once ran unsuccessfully for town council in Howie-in-the-Hills in Lake County. While he’s ready to campaign on issues such as education, particularly higher education, he said the Republican health care bills and attacks on the Affordable Care Act motivated him to run, and will be the foundation of his challenge of Webster, a four-term member of Congress who’ll be seeking his second term representing CD 11, which covers of Lake, Sumter, Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties in west-central Florida. … “The reason I’m running is I believe the Affordable Care Act is something to be built upon. What has been put forth in both the House and the Senate is atrocious,” Allen said. “What it will do for Floridians, is not OK. I’ve decided to run to make changes for the 11th District of Florida, and for all Americans.”

Tweet, tweet:

“Congressional candidate who backed campaign finance reform now takes lobbyists’ cash” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – Since his election to Miami City Hall 18 months ago, (Ken) Russell has talked about bringing campaign finance reform to city races and has volunteered on a petition drive to limit campaign contributions by major county hall vendors and their lobbyists to candidates running for county office. … The Ken Russell for Congress Exploratory Committee brought in $133,000 over the last few weeks, including several thousand dollars donated by contributors who might have been barred from giving to county candidates under the failed effort by political committee An Accountable Miami-Dade to limit county campaign contributions. … But the first quarterly report submitted this month by a committee formed to help Russell gauge whether to run next year for the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen paints a picture of a candidate with an evolving view.

“Is Miami’s next Democratic congressional candidate preparing to announce?” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Matt Haggman has resigned from his prominent role in Miami’s Knight Foundation. Will his next move be a run for Congress? … his name has been mentioned for a few months as a potential Democratic contender for retiring Republican Rep. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen‘s seat — or even as a possible challenger to Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. It’s something I’ve been actively thinking about for a while now,” Haggman said in April about maybe running for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat.

Ed Hooper endorsed by Florida’s firefighters — The organization announced during its 73rd annual convention in Sarasota this week it was backing Hooper, a Clearwater Republican, in his Senate District 16 race in 2018. In a statement, Jim Tolley, the organization’s president and CEO, said it was honored to have worked with Hooper during his time in the Florida House and looked forward to the “same relationship in the Florida Senate.” “We are excited to have a firefighter in the Florida Senate. Your 24-year career in the fire service, as well as your service on the Clearwater City Council, gives you unique insight into the needs of today’s fire service,” said Tolley. “We believe that you will continue to faithfully serve the citizens of Florida as a Florida Senator. Likewise, your leadership will serve the interests of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services and the men and women who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work.”

“In final stretch, Democratic primary for Miami Senate seat gets heated” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Floridians for Accountability has pounded Taddeo in mailed campaign fliers, comparing her to President Donald Trump — perhaps the biggest bogeyman in a Democratic primary — over her family’s investments. “What do Donald Trump and Annette Taddeo have in common?” one flier reads. “Annette Taddeo’s dirty money is a family affair,” reads another. That, in turn, has prompted Taddeo to also compare Rivas Logan, a former Republican, to the Republican president. “It’s Republicans who are funding the attacks [against me],” Taddeo said Sunday on WPLG-ABC 10’s “This Week in South Florida.” “That in itself speaks volumes.”

“Democrats start to hit Jose Felix Diaz – before the GOP primary is over” via Ladra – Some voters in Senate District 40 got a mail piece this week that attacks former State Rep. Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz for being a lobbyist. But it wasn’t any of his opponents in the GOP primary who put the piece out. It was the Democrats. The mailer is paid for by the Florida Democratic
Legislative Campaign Committee and says that “Dirty Diaz” is a “superhero for special interests, a villain to Miami families.”

Jose Mallea tells voters not to ‘believe the falsehoods’ in new ad — Miami Republican Jose Mallea is urging voters to not believe false claims made against him in the special primary to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116 in a new TV spot. “My opponent has made some outrageous claims during this campaign. They are lies. Please don’t believe the falsehoods,” he says in the 30 second spot. “Like our President Donald Trump, the special interests attack anyone not on their side with lies and fake news. I built my business with hard work. And now I want to fight for you and your family by cutting taxes, reducing regulations and eliminating government waste.” Mallea faces Daniel Perez in the July 25 special Republican primary.

Click the image below to watch the ad.


Assignment editors: Sen. Marco Rubio will deliver remarks in support of the people of Venezuela at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute Congressional Briefing at around 10 a.m. in room 215 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The remarks will be livestreamed on Rubio’s Facebook page.

“Francis Rooney’s complex finances lead to Congress’ biggest legal tab” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Rooney, a 63-year-old freshman from Naples, is currently majority owner of Manhattan Construction Company, a family-owned company that built Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center and the Cato Institute headquarters, both in Washington, D.C., among other buildings. To ensure his finances comply with ethics rules, he paid roughly $80,000 from his congressional campaign during the 2018 election cycle to the law firm Jones Day. It’s the most of any other member of Congress over that time. During his election campaign, Rooney spent nearly $54,000 with the firm.

“Appeals court considers lawsuit over Florida’s public education system” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – (T)he three-judge appeals panel peppered attorneys for the state and for the plaintiffs with questions during an hourlong hearing Tuesday. In arguing that the state was violating the Constitution, attorney Jodi Siegel cited various disparities among counties where some low-income children and children with disabilities struggle to meet grade-level expectations. However, she couldn’t answer when the judges pressed her to cite the specific standard Florida wasn’t meeting — whether it was funding, school grades or some other metric of achievement.

“State’s abortion wait law heads back to court” via Florida Politics – A Tallahassee judge on Wednesday will consider whether to allow the state’s law mandating a 24-hour wait before a woman can undergo an abortion to remain on the books. “At issue in this hearing is whether the law will be permanently blocked in light of the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in this case in February of this year, or whether the state will be allowed to introduce additional evidence to try to defend the law,” according to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis will hear the case at 10 a.m. in the Leon County Courthouse. A lawsuit “was filed shortly after the mandatory delay law was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2015 … In February 2017, the Florida Supreme Court approved a temporary injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law, sending the matter back to the lower court,” the ACLU said.

“State: Schools can hold recess inside classrooms” via the Associated Press – The Florida Department of Education on Friday told school superintendents that there’s nothing in a new state law that dictates where recess must take place. State legislators earlier this year passed a law that requires elementary schools to set aside 20 minutes each day for “free-play recess” although charter schools were exempted. … Department officials sent a memo to superintendents asking them to report to the state by Sept. 1 whether or not they are complying with the new mandate.

“Baby born in Florida after mom struck by lightning dies” via the Associated Press – Local news outlets report Owen Davidson died July 13, two weeks after 26-year-old Meghan Davidson was struck while walking in her Fort Myers neighborhood. She was rushed to a hospital, where doctors delivered the baby named Owen. She was just seven days from her due date when the lightning strike occurred. The Lee County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the child’s death. It was the fourth death in Florida this year related to lightning.

Judge denies request to drop obstruction charge for Pulse shooter’s widow” via Caitlin Doornbos of the Orlando Sentinel – A federal judge denied a request to dismiss an obstruction charge against Noor Salman, the widow of Pulse shooter Omar Mateen, based on the location of the allegations. Salman is charged with aiding and abetting support of a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. She is accused of helping scope out places for Mateen to attack and misleading investigators in an interview after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. Salman’s attorneys argued her obstruction charge should be dismissed because it was charged in the wrong venue — the U.S. District Court’s Middle District of Florida in Orlando. U.S. District Judge Paul G. Byron, however, noted that though the misleading statements were made in the Southern District, they were “intended to adversely impact FBI agents and federal judges located in the Middle District of Florida,” in which the crime occurred.

Hit by lightning: Tales from survivors” via Lizette Alvarez of The New York Times –In a state that counts alligators, sharks and hurricanes among its many dangers, add lightning. Florida has more lightning than any other state in the country (20.8 strikes per square mile) and the most people who die from lightning (54 since 2007 — more than double that of the next state, Texas), according to the National Weather Service. This year, four people have died from lightning — two construction workers, a camper and the baby of a pregnant mother who was seriously harmed by a bolt; many more have been injured. Lightning’s fondness for Florida stems from its location, climate (hot and humid) and topography: A peninsula, it stretches between two warm bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This produces hot, wet air — a sea breeze — that rises over land. Unlike other states, Florida has all-season thunderstorms, which peak during summer. And it has an outsize number of year-round boaters, beachgoers, fishing enthusiasts and golfers — human lightning rods in wide, flat, open spaces. Lightning likes to strike the tallest thing around. Sometimes it’s a tree. Sometimes it’s a human.

Trulieve to open St. Petersburg dispensary — Trulieve officials will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. at the company’s new dispensary, located at 8435 4th Street North in the Riviera Bay area of St. Petersburg. “We have a large and rapidly growing patient base in the Tampa Bay area and we’re thrilled to expand our service to them,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers in a statement. “We will be opening more dispensaries throughout the remainder of this year.” The company currently has eight other dispensaries — located in Clearwater, Edgewater, Jacksonville, Miami, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa and Lady Lake — in Florida, and currently delivers medical cannabis statewide.


“As lawmakers expand vouchers for disabled children, critics question motives” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – (V)oucher opponents — chiefly, Florida’s teachers’ unions — see lawmakers’ actions as a scheme to expand the scholarships and similar state programs until all children are eligible, which they argue would undermine the constitutional guarantee to public education. And even the program’s chief architect, former Senate President Andy Gardiner, said he’s worried it could become too broad, straying from his original intention of helping parents meet the unique educational needs of children with the most severe challenges. The Orlando Republican, whose son has Down syndrome, said he’s been following the evolution of the program since leaving the Legislature last year. The scholarships are named after him. “Certainly we’re keeping an eye on what gets added,” Gardiner said. “The hope for me would be to keep it as tight as possible.”

Happening todayDenise Grimsley holds mobile office hours – Staff members for Sen. Denise Grimsley will hold mobile office hours in Polk and Hardee counties. Staff members will be available at 9 a.m. at the Mulberry Library, 905 N.E. Fifth Street in Mulberry. They’ll head to the Bartow Public Library, 2150 South Broadway Ave. in Bartow for mobile office hours beginning at 10:30 a.m.; before holding office hours starting at 1:15 p.m. at the Fort Meade Community Center, 10 S.W. Third Street in Fort Meade. Grimsley’s team will wrap up the day with office hours beginning at 2:45 p.m. at the Hardee County Chamber of Commerce, 135 East Main Street in Wauchula.

Assignment editors: The Economic Estimating Conference is scheduled to discuss issues related to the Florida economy beginning at 9 a.m. in 117 Knott Building at the Florida Capitol.

Worth the click – The 2017 Legislative Session’s menu of controversial and colorful debates—both on and off the record—gave some of Florida’s top public affairs experts a lot to unpack on the latest episode of Capital Dateline, “The Messengers.” Hear seasoned pros Christina Johnson of On 3 Public Relations, Alia Faraj-Johnson of Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Sarah Mathews Bascom of Bascom Communications give their take on what communications strategies and tactics were especially effective in the Capitol this year, and how messaging to and with millennials, all while President Trump redefines political communications, is changing the rules. Hosted by FCTA president Brad Swanson.


Frank Brogan to retire from Pennsylvania’s public university system” via The Associated PressFrank Brogan, Florida’s former lieutenant governor and the head of Pennsylvania’s state-owned university system, announced he is leaving after four years on the job. Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education said Monday that Brogan, the system’s chancellor, will retire Sept. 1 from the position that pays him $346,000 a year. Brogan, who is 63 years old, told the board of his decision last week, shortly before a meeting in which the system received a consultant’s report that was highly critical of its leadership. … Brogan served as the chancellor of Florida’s State University System from 2009 until 2013, when he left to take the same job in Pennsylvania. He played a key role in developing the Florida’s performance funding model, and led the development of a strategic plan that included 39 benchmarks.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Paul Lowell, Foley & Lardner: Our Children PSN of Florida

Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: Disasters, Strategies & Ideas Group

Jonathan Menendez, Kaleo Partners: DISYS (Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC.)

— ALOE — 

Aviat, which was recently featured in Florida Politics for the tech they will be bringing to Super Bowl 2020 has landed another major contract. Their advanced technology will help, state and local governments deliver seamless upgrades supporting public safety applications. Read more about the tech by clicking here.

Ancient DNA suggests dogs domesticated just once 40,000 years ago” via Erica Pandey of Axios — Dogs may have split from wolves in a single domestication event 40,000 years ago, per a new study in Nature Communications. The research challenges an earlier study claiming dogs were domesticated twice — in Asia and Europe. … Researchers analyzed genomes from dog fossils — including a 7,000-year-old skull found in Germany and a 5,000-year-old specimen from Ireland — and compared them to DNA from modern dogs and wolves. The rates of mutation in the genomes suggest dogs split from wolves about 40,000 years ago and then again into European and Asian breeds about 20,000 years ago, the study says. Domestication happened sometime in between. … New technology is allowing scientists to analyze ancient DNA samples with more scrutiny and, as a result, piece together timelines of animal domestication that, in turn, can tell us more about the ancient humans they lived beside.

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mad Men – Slip out for a three-martini lunch to celebrate the AMC drama about 1960s advertising execs that would go on to become one of the most acclaimed series in history. After drinks, watch this video:

What David Johnson is reading – “Google Glass 2.0 Is a Startling Second Act” via Steven Levy of Backchannel – “The original Glass designers had starry-eyed visions of masses blissfully living their lives in tandem with a wraparound frame and a tiny computer screen hovering over their eye. But the dream quickly gave way to disillusionment as early adopters found that it delivered less than it promised-and users became the target of shaming from outsiders concerned about privacy. Within three years, Alphabet (the parent company of Google and its sister company, the ‘moonshot factory’ called X) had given up Glass for good-or so people assumed. … What they didn’t know was that Alphabet was commissioning a small group to develop a version for the workplace. … For about two years, Glass EE has been quietly in use in dozens of workplaces, slipping under the radar of gadget bloggers, analysts, and self-appointed futurists. Yes, the population of those using the vaunted consumer version of Glass has dwindled, tired of being driven out of lounges by cocktail-fork-wielding patrons fearing unwelcome YouTube cameos. Meanwhile, Alphabet has been selling hundreds of units of EE, an improved version of the product that originally shipped in a so-called Explorer Edition in 2013. Companies testing EE-including giants like GE, Boeing, DHL, and Volkswagen-have measured huge gains in productivity and noticeable improvements in quality.”

Happy birthday to Hizzoner, Lenny Curry, as well as FDP head honcho Stephen Bittel and Courtney Vandenberg.

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

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