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Sunburn for 7.20.16 – Donald Trump takes the crown

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

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


The art of the coronation has taken something of a beating at the Republican National Convention. Nevertheless, Donald Trump now has the crown — and a final chance to summon unity from the party’s restive ranks in the ritual’s closing days.

The roll call of the states Tuesday night delivered Trump the nomination, which he welcomed from afar in a videotaped message saying “This is a movement, but we have to go all the way.” House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Trump had amassed 1,725 delegates, more than triple the number of his nearest competitor, the fruits of a political phenomenon without parallel in modern times.

Day 3 of the convention will bring two conservative stalwarts to the stage: Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a favorite of evangelicals; and the nominee’s most tenacious challenger in the primaries, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the man Trump used to call “Lyin’ Ted.”

Pence is heartily on board the Trump bandwagon; Cruz isn’t yet, nor are many of his supporters in Cleveland. The senator’s scheduled prime-time address will be keenly watched as a barometer of the party’s fighting spirit as the GOP turns to the fall campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton, who accepts her nomination next week.

Trump won at the cost of alienating many traditional Republicans both on the right and in the center, and the divide has spilled over into the convention, though without overwhelming it. The roll call unfolded largely according to plan after a day dominated by unwelcome attention over passages from an eight-year-old Michelle Obama speech that made their way into Melania Trump’s address to the convention, almost word for word, the night before.

This, after unwelcome attention over a loud if short-lived protest on opening day over convention rules aimed at tamping down any remaining threat to Trump’s triumph.

Tuesday night, speaker after speaker stepped forward to denounce Clinton, none to greater effect with the crowd than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The governor, a dropout in the GOP presidential race who ended up on the short list for Trump’s running mate, energized the hall as he ticked through numerous accusations of wrongdoing against Clinton and implored delegates to shout “guilty.” They not only did that, but interrupted him with shouts of “Lock her up.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the crowd scandal follows Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton “like flies.”

Two of Trump’s children testified to his character. “For my father, impossible is just the starting point,” said Donald Trump Jr., eldest of the nominee’s five children. Tiffany Trump, 22, said her dad is a “natural-born encourager” and she recalled the notes he wrote on her report cards.

“For my father, impossible is just the starting point,” Trump’s son Donald said. Questions about plagiarism surfaced for a second day in a row, this time in the eldest son’s speech. But F.H. Buckley, the writer behind the original work in question this time — an article in The American Conservative — said he was a principal speechwriter for the younger Trump and said the campaign did nothing wrong.

On the convention floor, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina was feeling the fighting spirit, telling reporters, “It’s all starting to gel.

TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL: @RossDouthat: Everyone major figure who participated in this grotesquerie has disgraced themselves on a level unique in the history of our republic.

WINNERS & LOSERS FROM SECOND NIGHT OF RNC via Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post – Winners: Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Dana White, Brains (thanks Ben Carson); Losers: Paul Ryan, Ben CarsonPresident Obama’s call for reeling in nasty political rhetoric, Shelley Moore Capito.

HOW THE GOP STUMBLED INTO CALLING FOR HILLARY CLINTON’S IMPEACHMENT via Aaron Blake of the Washington Post – On Monday night, it earned an occasional mention at the Republican National Convention. “Hillary in prison,” one speaker said in response to an exclamation from the crowd, adding that she should be “put in stripes.” Another offered that Clinton should exchange her “pantsuits” for an “orange jumpsuit.” By Tuesday, it became a bona fide rallying cry. Christie — a former prosecutor, it bears noting — offered his own rhetorical indictment of Clinton, punctuating each line by asking the crowd whether Clinton was “guilty or not guilty.” The crowd was one step ahead though, chanting repeatedly, “Lock her up!”

This has not been the Republican Party’s official position on Clinton’s email scandal. But this week’s convention essentially put it on the party’s platform for November. And for that, the party has Donald Trump to thank. Back in early June — even before FBI Director James Comey laid out the ways in which Clinton was “extremely careless” with her private email server — Trump suggested she be put in jail. “I will say this: Hillary Clinton has got to go to jail,” Trump said in San Jose, Calif., adding: “Folks, honestly, she’s guilty as hell.”

MIKE PENCE TESTS ROLE AS DONALD TRUMP’S CHIEF MESSAGE MAN via Tom LoBianco of CNN – Pence began what will likely be his toughest task as Trump‘s running mate by attempting to build a bridge to the legacy of Ronald Reagan … Pence delivered a whirlwind, 20-minute speech before the American Conservative Union, where he characterized Trump as this generation’s Reagan and said the establishment didn’t understand the passion he’s ignited in the Republican base. Pence described Trump as a good man whose “heart beats with the heart of the American people.” “I honestly believe in the collective wisdom of the American people and the capacity of our people to know who we need,” Pence said, in a message clearly aimed at conservatives who may still be skeptical of Trump’s nomination … Pence recounted meeting Reagan for the first time at the White House. The audience, built largely of conservative thought leaders and activists, represented the natural constituency of Pence, who has been fighting alongside them in politics for three decades. It also represents the elusive audience that Trump has been unable to court on his own.

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HOW MELANIA TRUMP’S SPEECH VEERED OFF COURSE AND CAUSED AN UPROAR via Maggie Haberman and Michael Barbaro of the New York Times – The Trump campaign turned to two high-powered speechwriters, who had helped write signature political oratory like George W. Bush’s speech to the nation on Sept. 11, 2001, to introduce Trump, a Slovenian-born former model, to the nation on the opening night of the Republican National Convention. … The speechwriters, Matthew Scully and John McConnell, sent Trump a draft last month, eager for her approval. Weeks went by. They heard nothing. … Inside Trump Tower, it turned out, Trump had decided she was uncomfortable with the text, and began tearing it apart, leaving a small fraction of the original. … The two original speechwriters were not aware of how significantly the speech had been changed until they saw Trump deliver it on television Monday night, along with the rest of the country…. The Trump campaign declined to say who or how many senior campaign officials read or reviewed the speech. But when Trump and her staff had finished revising the speech, virtually all that remained from the original was an introduction and a passage that included the phrase ‘a national campaign like no other.

RNC OFFICIAL OFFERS ‘MY LITTLE PONY’ DEFENSE FOR MELANIA TRUMP’S SPEECH via Rebecca Savransky of The Hill – Republican National Committee chief strategist Sean Spicer drew comparisons between Melania Trump‘s convention speech and phrases used in “My Little Pony” cartoons and by performers John Legend and Kid Rock. “We had a 2,000-word statement, we’re talking about 70 words, three passages. And this idea of plagiarism, if we want to talk about let’s talk about,” Spicer said on CNN. “Melania Trump said: ‘You work hard for what you get in life.’ John Legend said: ‘Work hard to be anything you want in life.’ Kid Rock said: ‘Work hard to be anything you want in life,'” he continued. “Melania Trump said: ‘The strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.’ Twilight Sparkle from ‘My Little Pony’ said: ‘This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams you can do now.'” picer said he could take similar phrases and come up with a list of other people who have used them. “And that’s what this is,” he said.

THE LAID-OFF JOURNALIST THAT WAS FIRST TO CALL MELANIA TRUMP’S SPEECH PLAGIARISM USED TO BE A TAMPA BAY REPORTER via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times – Jarrett Hill was sitting in a Los Angeles Starbucks scrolling through Twitter and answering Facebook messages while listening to Melania Trump‘s speech at the Republican National Convention … Something made him stop. It was the phrase “strength of your dreams” … “It kind of made me pause for a minute,” Hill told The New York Times. “I remembered that line from Michelle Obama’s speech.” Soon the 31-year-old was taking his thoughts to Twitter. He was the first to call Melania Trump’s words plagiarism. His main tweet showing the similarities between her speech and Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention in 2008 has been shared more than 23,000 times. Not bad for a guy chilling at a coffee shop. Except, Hill is actually a trained journalist who not long ago was laid off from a broadcast job. According to his LinkedIn profile, his last on-air job was with Tampa station WFTS, on The Now Tampa Bay for nine months between 2014-15. Despite the hundreds of paid journalists at the convention in Cleveland, it was Hill who noticed the stark parallels. Hill brought up the clip of Michelle Obama’s speech online and realized that it wasn’t just a line that was similar, but a large portion of the speech that appeared to be the same. “I thought, ‘That’s legit plagiarism,'” Hill said to The New York Times. “Someone took this piece and plugged in their own information.'”

TRUMP IS RICHER IN PROPERTY AND DEEPER IN DEBT IN NEW VALUATION via Caleb Melby of Bloomberg Politics – Trump‘s new net worth … has increased to $3 billion, up from $2.9 billion a year ago … while Trump is richer in property – the value of his golf courses and Trump Tower in NYC have risen – his debt has nearly doubled over the past year, up to $630 million in total debt from $350 million in 2015. Trump has sold at least $50 million of stocks and bonds. He also drew down on a $170 million line of credit from Deutsche Bank AG for a hotel project in Washington. Trump has said he will spend $200 million renovating the Old Post Office building, blocks from the White House. Trump’s liquid assets shrunk to about $170 million from $225 million. He has also loaned about $50 million to his campaign but doesn’t plan on recouping the amount, he said.

TRUMP AND THE CULT OF STUPID via Rick Wilson for The Hill – “We don’t need you fancy consultants and your decades of experience, losers.” Sound familiar? It should. You hear it every day from new Trump Establishment Republicans trying to defend themselves against the overwhelming evidence that Trump’s “campaign” is off the rails. It’s an article of faith among Trump fans that he can ignore all the rules of political physics forever and will simply rise and rise no matter how many unforced errors he makes. They view the tools of politics as anathema in their cult of stupid, where anger and revenge against the hated establishment was enough to get him the nomination and swear it’s enough to win against Hillary. “Who needs expertise? We’ve got rage” … they collided with the realities of a general election, as first day of the RNC convention in Cleveland demonstrated how unready they are for the fight ahead … Trump’s Fox-heavy audience ended up missing a vital moment of the evening. During Patricia Smith’s heartbreaking speech about her son’s death in the Benghazi terror attack, he couldn’t resist the siren-song of phoning in to Bill O’Reilly’s show. A real campaign would have realized this and stopped him from blowing an emotional moment tuned to his core audience. The crown jewel of the night was supposed to be Melania Trump’s speech … It was to be the tent-pole of the Trump family’s reality TV debut, and instead turned in to a political dumpster fire as it was revealed that whole sections were lifted verbatim from Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention Speech. Instead of humanizing Trump’s image, it turned in to a process story, and almost 12 hours later they haven’t contained the fire. This didn’t happen in a vacuum. This is the culture of Trump. Every adviser to Trump realizes that kissing his ring is the key to survival. Hillary Clinton is a terrible, clunky and mistrusted candidate. However, Clinton is raising money, spending it to communicate against Trump and doing the boring, low-glamour high-reward campaign tasks that make her the odds-on favorite in November. There’s nothing random or ad hoc about her campaign. It’s grinding, dull and ruthless. Trump supporters may think that doesn’t matter. They’re in for a painful shock.

SHELDON ADELSON ARRIVES, BUT STAYS SILENT ON TRUMP via Kenneth Vogel of POLITICO – Adelson, who has yet to give an expected major donation to help Trump, made his first appearance on the sidelines of the Republican convention but ignored questions about the presumptive GOP nominee. Adelson raised hopes among Trump’s allies when he signaled that he might donate as much as $100 million or more to super PACs supporting Trump’s White House bid, which has failed to attract support from most of the party’s top donors … When Adelson pulled up to the city’s Public Auditorium and Conference Center for a foreign policy discussion hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, he ignored a question about the controversial tweet and also one about when he was going to donate to help Trump. The event, which also featured appearances by Newt Gingrich and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Ron Dermer, started at noon, but Adelson arrived with his wife, Miriam Adelson, in a black Audi 30 minutes later and was largely shielded from reporters by his security detail and RJC staff.

INSIDE THE GOP’S SHADOW CONVENTION via Shane Goldmacher of POLITICO – Banking on an Election Day loss, the party’s elders and elite lay the foundation to rebuild post-Trump … It was mid-April when as many as 1,000 alumni of the last Republican elected as president descended on Dallas for a staff reunion to reminisce about sunnier times. … But few were as dark about the Republican Party’s future as former President Bush himself. In a more intimate moment during the reunion, surrounded by a smaller clutch of former aides and advisers, Bush weighed in with an assessment so foreboding that some who relayed it could not discern if it was gallows humor or blunt realpolitik. “I’m worried,” Bush told them, “that I will be the last Republican president.”

THE TRUMP CONVENTION: A PAINFUL MOMENT FOR THE BUSH FAMILY NETWORK via Jonathan Martin of the New York Times – An email sent to alumni of Mr. Bush’s administration this month listing those former Bush officials going to Cleveland was notable mostly because of who was not included: no former cabinet officials or members of the White House senior staff. … Addressing a few hundred Republican donors clad in blazers and polo shirts at a fund-raiser for Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri outside St. Louis last month, (Pres.) Bush did not mention Trump by name but issued an unmistakable warning about the dangers of Mr. Trump’s politics. “He said he was concerned about three isms: protectionism, isolationism and nativism,” recalled John C. Danforth, a former senator and United Nations ambassador for Mr. Bush who attended the $1,000-a-person dinner. “I think that said a lot.”

And with his penchant for cutting ridicule and crude insults, Trump represents personal qualities that are the antithesis of Bush’s mix of Christianity and old-money restraint. “It would be like if George Wallace had succeeded John F. Kennedy and the New Frontiersmen,” said Peter Wehner, a senior official in Bush’s White House.

GEORGE W. BUSH: ‘I’M WORRIED THAT I WILL BE THE LAST REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT’ via Eric Bradner of CNN – The 43rd president’s remark, at a gathering in Dallas of his administration’s staffers, reflected a dim view of the party’s prospects at a time when the primary contest was realistically down to Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “I’m worried that I will be the last Republican president,” Bush told a clutch of former aides and advisers. Bush — as well as his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and his brother, 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush — are skipping this year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. So are the party’s last two presidential nominees … Mitt Romney and John McCain.

RICK SCOTT: JEB SHOULD BE AT CONVENTION via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Asked about former Bush’s absence from the convention, Scott sounded disappointed. “I think he’d want to be here. This is exciting. This is a Republican party that needs to unite behind an individual who worked hard to win the nomination. We have to make sure he wins in November. I do not want Hillary Clinton to be the next president. She would not be good for Florida.” “Any Republican who is not supporting Donald Trump right now is helping Hillary Clinton. I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be our next president.”

FLORIDA’S GOP CHAIR IN CLEVELAND: WE GAVE LEBRON HIS FIRST CHAMPIONSHIPS via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post  “We are the state that gave LeBron James his first two championships,” Blaise Ingoglia said, smiling, to laughs and playful boos from the crowd. Because Ingoglia was, of course, delivering that line in the Quicken Loans Arena, where James now plays as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.


“Mr. Chairman, my name is Blaise Ingoglia, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

“I am proud to lead this delegation of the Sunshine State, home to Disney World, the Daytona 500 and the stunning Florida Keys. We have no state income tax, and our residents enjoy over 600 miles of pristine beaches. Florida is the paradise where you vacation but we all live. We are home to over1.5 million veterans and we make it a point to thank them every day.

“We are the state that gave LeBron James his first two championships.

“Mr. Chair, Madam chair, you cannot win the presidency without winning the great state of Florida. We are honored to cast all of our 99 winner take all delegates to the next president of the United States, Mr. Donald J. Trump.”

ADAM PUTNAM ON TRUMP, PENCE, HILLARY CLINTON, 2018 GOVERNOR’S RACE via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Putnam, who will shock the political world if he doesn’t run for governor in 2018, didn’t have much to say about Trump but praised running mate Pence and blasted Clinton in a chat with reporters … Putnam’s Florida Grown political committee, which has about $3.7 million in the bank for a potential gubernatorial bid, sponsored a breakfast for Florida Republican National Convention delegates that featured Ben Carson, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and former U.S. Rep. Allen West. “When you decide to run for governor, I’ll be right there with you,” West told Putnam. Putnam was coy about his political plans. “We’re having a wonderful time as commissioner of agriculture and focused on one election at a time. So we’ll be evaluating everything after the November election,” Putnam told reporters.

CARLOS BERUFF SLAMES MARCO RUBIO FROM CONVENTION FLOOR via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune – Hoping to draw a contrast with Rubio on the depth of each man’s support for Trump and generate some media attention for his underdog campaign, Beruff arrived at the Republican National Convention Tuesday and immediately hit the floor to watch Florida’s delegation award it’s 99 delegates to Trump. “I’m here to back up Donald Trump all the way to the White House, unlike Mr. Rubio, whose afraid to take a stance,” Beruff said during a brief interview on the convention floor. Mac Stipanovich, a veteran GOP consultant and anti-Trump advocate, said a speech the day before the closing night of the convention in Cleveland isn’t likely to be a game-changing moment for Scott, but probably won’t hurt him either. “I think the risk-reward ratio is pretty favorable,” Stipanovich said. “The Governor is not [the Greek orator] Demosthenes, so expectations are low.”

MIAMI STATE HOUSE CANDIDATE GETS SHOUT OUT FROM HIGH-PROFILE GOP SENATOR – HIS COLLEGE BUDDY via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a potential GOP presidential candidate in four or eight years, steered clear of mentioning presumptive 2016 nominee Donald Trump at a breakfast with Florida convention delegates. But he did name another Republican … seeking a much more modest seat: John Couriel … running for Florida House seat 114 in central Miami-Dade County. Couriel, who ran for state Senate and lost in 2012, also happens to be know Cotton from when they were students. Both graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. “John is a very good man,” Cotton said. “I’m very excited that he’s running again, and I hope that the people of South Florida choose to elect him this year, because he’ll be a tireless advocate for them in the state Legislature.” Couriel told the Miami Herald in a message he “didn’t have a closer friend in college or law school than Tom … Fatefully, we were sitting together in Charlie Nesson’s evidence class on 9/11,” Couriel said. Cotton attended Couriel’s Key West wedding, and Couriel and his wife sent Cotton care packages when Cotton — after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — joined the Army and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton, one of the prime-time convention speakers … said he’ll campaign for Couriel and other Republicans in Florida in the fall. He dismissed chatter about his own future presidential ambitions: “The future’s a long way away.”

HAPPENING TODAY — DICK MORRIS, RUDY GIULIANI ADDRESS DELEGATION — Morris, a former political consultant, and Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, are scheduled to speak at Florida delegation’s Breakfast Speaker Series at 9 a.m. The breakfast is hosted by House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran and the Republican Party of Florida. The convention starts at 7:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.

SCOTT GETS A BIG STAGE via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel  Scott is expected to give a speech Wednesday night that could vault him onto the national political scene and enhance his political career, experts say. Or it could bind him to the polarizing politics of Trump and weigh down his future ambitions for elected office, they said.

SCOTT: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS LAW OF LAND via Nick Gass of POLITICO – When it comes to Scott’s opinion on the Republican Party’s platform opposition to same-sex marriage, the Republican governor had just three words Tuesday night, despite his own state’s previous opposition to the law: The Supreme Court. “The Supreme Court has already made a decision,” Scott told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, referring to the shooting at an LGBT night club in Orlando last month that killed 49 people, carried out by a U.S. citizen who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. That act, Scott said, attacked “our gay community, attacked our Hispanic community.” “We need to figure out how to come together as a country and include the Republican Party,” Scott said. “We all need to come together,” adding, “it’s the law of the land

INVITED — Squire Patton Boggs, led by partner Al Cardenas (a former Florida GOP chairman) and former Rep. Jack Kingston (who joined the firm’s public policy practice as principal in 2015) is hosting an event Wednesday honoring GOP officials from Florida and Georgia. Among those expected to attend are Sen. David Perdue, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Reps. Gus Bilirakis and Ted Yoho . H/t POLITICO Influence.

MEANWHILE … JON STEWART RETURNS ON ‘THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT’ via Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times – In his first live “Late Show” broadcast since the start of the Republican National Convention, Colbert promised the return of an old friend from his basic-cable days, but instead, viewers got to see two familiar faces: first, Jon Stewart, the longtime host of “The Daily Show,” and then “Stephen Colbert,” the unctuous conservative commentator that Colbert portrayed for nearly a decade on his Comedy Central program, “The Colbert Report.” The guest appearances from Stewart and that other Colbert appear to have paid off for “The Late Show.” According to preliminary ratings information … “The Late Show” was the No. 1 broadcast late-night show in overall viewership on Monday night, the first time the program has surpassed all its competitors … since Feb. 15. “The Late Show” announced in June that it would present two weeks of live broadcasts, Monday through Thursday, to air after each night of the Republican and Democratic conventions. Though the current iteration of the program made its debut to considerable fanfare in September, it has had trouble finding a consistent voice under Colbert … Just as “The Colbert Report” helped introduce audiences to the word “truthiness,” Colbert used this latest installment to contemplate the condition of “Trumpiness”: “Remember, elections aren’t about what voters think, it’s about what voters feel. And right now, at least half of Americans feel their voices aren’t being heard.” (An onscreen graphic delivered the punchline: “Especially Mike Pence.”)

AND … WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY PULLS OUT OF HOSTING GENERAL ELECTION DEBATE via Hadas Gold of POLITICO – The university is citing worries around costs and increased security. “Today I requested that the Commission on Presidential Debates release Wright State University from our obligation to host the first Presidential debate on Sept. 26,” President David Hopkins said in a news conference … “This has been a very difficult decision to make but I am confident that it is the right one for Wright State University at this point in time. Wright State has in a responsibility for the safety and well-being of those on its campus and in the surrounding area. We all take this responsibility very seriously. Over the last few weeks we have had a growing concern over what it would take to guarantee the safety and security of our campus.” The university expected the debate to cost as much as $8 million. They will likely lose some of the $2.5 million they’ve already invested. “We cannot afford as a university that’s trying to manage our budget as fiscally sound to take on these costs,” Hopkins said. In a statement, the Commission on Presidential Debates said Hofstra, which had agreed to serve as an alternate, would take Wright State University’s place.

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BERUFF BEEFS UP TV AD BUYS IN SENATE RACE AGAINST RUBIO via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Beruff has boosted his current TV ad buy more than $900,000 as he works to overcome incumbent Rubio‘s sizable lead in the GOP primary. The increase raises his overall ad spending (cable and broadcast) to $5.1 million since he entered race. The Manatee County homebuilder is using his personal wealth to help fund the ads. Most of the increase is to beef up ads running over the next week across the state. His biggest targets continues to be the Tampa and Orlando markets, each of which will see $1.3 million ad spending. In the latest public polling, Beruff trails Rubio by large margins. He has been using his personal wealth to fund a wave of early campaign ads. The spending got him to the top of what was a five-person field before four candidates dropped out when Rubio changed his mind in June and decided to run for re-election. The latest ad Beruff put into the rotation is one hitting Rubio for his lack of support for Donald Trump and over his support of failed 2013 immigration reform legislation.

PROGRESS FLORIDA ROLLS OUT ‘WRONG WAY, RUBIO’ DIGITAL AD CAMPAIGN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The progressive organization has teamed up with For Our Future to launch a digital campaign that ties Rubio to some of Trump’s more shocking statements. “Supporting the Republican nominee for president means supporting Donald Trump, period,” said Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida. “That means you want in the Oval Office a man who will push building a wall with Mexico, banning Muslims and an economic plan the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said would increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent.” The ad campaign features some of Trump’s more outrageous quotes, and a quote from Rubio saying he would support Trump if “he’s the Republican nominee.” Progress Florida also unveiled a new website — called Wrong Way Rubio — that it says is “dedicated to shining a spotlight on Sen. Rubio’s extremist positions, numerous ethical lapses, and how at every turn he opposes an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.”

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GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA BACKS MARY THOMAS IN RACE TO REPLACE GWEN GRAHAM via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida –  John Velleco, of Virginia-based Gun Owners of America, said the organization is supporting Thomas in the GOP primary because “we need people who are not afraid to rock the boat when our rights are in jeopardy, and it doesn’t matter which party they’re from … We understand that Mary Thomas is that type of candidate.” Thomas [has] slammed Democrats for their push for new policies to stem gun violence. “We’ve seen many of the tragedies that have occurred in our country, whether it’s radical Islamic terrorists or attacks on our law enforcement officers, and the liberals and the other side constantly want to say the problem is guns,” Thomas said. “The problem is not guns. The problem is violent criminals and people who are looking to terrorize our country.” Thomas suggested a policy proposal similar to one being backed by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. “Maybe we need to crack down and be stronger on the War of Terror, and put a halt on immigration from countries that harbor, support, and sponsor terrorism or terrorists,” Thomas said.

BOB POE CALLS FOR ASSAULT WEAPON BAN IN FIRST TV AD via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel – Titled “Spray” the ad begins with an image of an AR-15-style rifle, which Poe says “can spray a room with 300 bullets” during the commercial’s 30-second runtime. The gun is similar to the one used to kill 49 patrons at Pulse nightclub June 12. “Right now, someone can buy this assault weapon at a gun show, with no background check. That’s got to stop,” Poe says, before pledging to fight for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and to “get illegal guns off our streets.” The ad, part of a $1 million TV buy, was also uploaded to the campaign’s Facebook page.

CHARLIE CRIST LEADS CD 13 RACE IN NEW POLL via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – A new poll shows former governor Crist with a 12-point lead in the 13th Congressional District over incumbent Republican David Jolly. The results showed Crist with a 50 percent to 38 percent lead over Jolly. Twelve percent remain undecided. The poll, with a margin of error of 4.4 percent, found that Crist leads among independents and moderate by wide margins. Crist also has a higher name recognition with 89 percent of voters in the district to Jolly’s 61 percent. The pollsters, commissioned by the Crist campaign, concluded that “Charlie Crist’s brand makes him a very strong challenger for this Pinellas-based seat.”

TWEET, TWEET: @TroyKinsey: The timing of the #CD13 poll is opportune for @CharlieCrist: he’ll be attending a slew of fundraisers at next week’s #DemConvention.

STILL, A RATINGS CHANGE — The Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report moved the Charlie Crist vs. David Jolly race out of the “safe” category after polling from both camps revealed “a very competitive race.”

AIF ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENTS FOR STATE SENATE, HOUSE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The group, one of the state’s biggest business lobbies, joins other business groups that are picking favorites in some very heated Republican endorsements. AIF is supporting Doug Holder, a former Venice state representative who is running for the Senate District 23 being vacated by state Sen. Nancy Detert, who is running for county commission. The GOP primary also includes state Rep. Greg Steube and former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson. The group is also backing state Rep. Ritch Workman, who is running in a Republican primary against Rep. Debbie Mayfield. The two are seeking the seat being vacated by term-limited state Sen. Thad Altman


— AIF did not endorse in the competitive GOP primary between Doug Broxson and Mike Hill.

— AIF is backing Ed Narain over Augie Ribeiro, Betty Reed and Darryl Rouson in SD 19.

— AIF declined to endorse in multi-way primaries in HDs 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, and 21, but is backing Sam Killebrew in HD 41.

— Democrat Ben Diamond won AIF’s endorsement over fellow Democrat Eric Lynn in HD 68.

Associated Industries of Florida’s full list of endorsements is here.

DEBBIE MAYFIELD LEADS RITCH WORKMAN 47% TO 20% IN NEW POLL via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Another bad poll could point to trouble for Workman in Senate District 17. Mayfield leads Workman 47 percent to 20 percent, according to a new Viewpoint Florida survey … In Brevard County, 39 percent of respondents said they would pick Mayfield … Workman, a Melbourne Republican who has represented parts of Brevard County for eight years, received 24 percent support. Indian River County voters overwhelmingly support Mayfield, who has represented the county in the Florida House since 2008. The survey found 62 percent of Indian River respondents picked Mayfield, while 13 percent chose Workman. Voters see Mayfield as a more conservative choice, with 47 percent of respondents saying Mayfield is a conservative candidate. When it comes to Workman, 21 percent considered him a conservative candidate … the survey found 34 percent of respondents had an unfavorable impression of Workman; while 32 percent said they had no opinion of him. The survey found 22 percent of respondents had a favorable impression. David Bishop, a spokesman for the Workman campaign, said the campaign doesn’t give a lot of credibility to the Viewpoint Florida poll because the company is co-owned by Mayfield’s political consultant.

— “Civil War: Newest poll has Ritch Workman up six” via Brian Burgess of the Capitolist

BEN DIAMOND NOW PUTS UP HIS FIRST AD IN HIS HD 68 CONTEST via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Coincidentally or not, it comes a day after his Democratic opponent, Eric Lynn, announced his first ad would begin airing … The 30-second ad starts with a narrator saying about the candidate that he “knows how to defeat powerful special interests to help Pinellas families, then took on big polluters” which helped clean up Tampa Bay’s water supply. A campaign spokesman says that’s a reference to Diamond working hard to get the Florida Land and Water Amendment in 2014 on the ballot. The ad also says he’ll end high-stakes testing, and will demand reforms to end “pay-to-play” politics. “I’m so grateful to my supporters who are helping us get our message out,” said Diamond. “We know once the voters hear how I will fight for them, we’re going to be successful on Election Day.”

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS ENDORSES MANNY DIAZ IN HD 103 via Florida Politics – “Small-business owners are facing huge workers’ compensation hikes from bad Florida Supreme Court opinions. Electing a pro-small business Legislature has never been more important,” NFIB Florida Executive Director Bill Herrle said in an announcement endorsing of Diaz and other South Florida candidates. “The endorsed candidates have demonstrated that they genuinely understand the challenges that small-business owners in Florida are facing.” “Small business creates two out of three jobs for Florida’s economy, so it’s important that we have a legislature that supports small business and supports free enterprise,” Herrle added.

HOUSE CANDIDATE USES POKÉMON GO TO LURE VOTERS via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Democrat Dan Horton is trying to catch ’em all … attracted Pokémon Go players to a campaign event in Key West by using in-game items to show his event’s location on players’ smartphones. Once people showed up to Horton’s event in Bayview Park they were able to catch rare Pokémon that were lured to the park. “On Saturday, his campaign used the game to attract something even more elusive than rare Pokémon… young voters,” a Horton campaign press release said. Horton, 30, is running in House District 120, which encompasses the Florida Keys and a swath of South Miami-Dade. He will challenge Kevin Diaz in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Holly Rascheinis unopposed in the Republican primary.


David Jolly, running for re-election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Dana Young, running for Senate District 18, has been endorsed by the Florida Retail Federation.

2018 WATCH — RICHARD CORCORAN FOR GOVERNOR? via Peter Schorsch – … It’s not really a surprise to see Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam begin to reveal his 2018 plans. But, it should be noted, Putnam’s not the only possible Florida gubernatorial contender in Cleveland right now. Florida House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran is also in the Rock n’ Roll Capital Of The World, and increasingly it appears the Pasco County Republican is interested in a 2018 gubernatorial run.

Speaking with a variety of sources close to the tight-lipped Corcoran—including current and former lawmakers, key staffers, and prominent lobbyists who have all spoken directly with Corcoran about his political future—the incoming Speaker is not yet ruling out a run for the Governor’s Mansion. Corcoran has not come close to saying that he would run, but he has made it clear he does not mind having his name included in the conversation.

As intelligent and talented a political operative as Corcoran is, one of the first questions that comes to mind when gaming out a possible candidacy is: In what lane would he run? Is there room for him in 2018? There’s Putnam, who has already lined up so much of the GOP establishment. But there’s also former Speaker Will Weatherford, who is contemplating a 2018 bid. There’s a host of Democrats, some with crossover appeal, who will throw their hats into the 2018 ring. And since this is Florida, you can count on two other types of candidates emerging in 2018: The surprise contenders who no one sees coming (à la Rick Scott) and the self-funding candidates who have no problem blowing $10-$20 million on a statewide campaign (see Jeff Greene, Carlos Beruff).

Somewhere in there, Corcoran has to find a lane to run in. One possible scenario has Corcoran becoming a serious contender if he is able to clean the Augean Stables that are Tallahassee. Once the ultimate insider, Corcoran has laid out an ambitious agenda to reform the way the Legislature does business, including toughening lobbyist registration rules  … Florida’s political history is littered with the hopes and dreams of House Speakers and Senate Presidents who had their eyes on statewide office. Yes, a House Speaker can raise a boatload of money from the lobbyists whose livelihood depends on their thumbs up/thumbs down, but wouldn’t it be hypocritical for Corcoran to raise money for a gubernatorial bid from the lobby corps he hopes to rein in?

But these are ordinary concerns for ordinary leaders. Corcoran has shown himself to be something different.

He’s regarded as the most powerful incoming Speaker of the Republican era. His legislative lieutenants and political allies are the most loyal in The Process. Corcoran, even by the political adversaries he’s crushed, is regarded as brilliant and principled.

“If Richard were to consider one day running for Governor, he will be one of the most qualified individuals to do so in recent years,” said Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, who served with Corcoran in the Florida House and has been both a mentor and intellectual sounding board for years. “In addition to his legal and professional background, his personal humility and understanding of the human side of the political process have all equipped him for such a challenge.”

***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.***

PULSE PROTESTER CONFRONTS MARCO RUBIO ON GUNS, GAY RIGHTS via Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel – Rubio … had a heated exchange with a protester at a business near the Pulse nightclub shooting scene, which included the accusation that Rubio has “blood on your hands.” David Moran of Orlando joined press at the event, which was supposed to be focused on how Rubio was trying to help businesses affected by slow traffic around the mass shooting scene. Instead, about 30 protestors shouted so loudly outside that Rubio could hardly be heard at some points. The goal of the protest was to highlight Rubio’s lack of support for such things as gun control measures. “I’m really angry at you,” Moran said. “I don’t feel you’re doing anything to support the LGBTQ people. I need to know what is your relationship is with the NRA. Why are you talking with transphobes and homophobes… all of you have blood on your hands,” Moran said. Rubio responded, “I disagree with your assessment… Homophobia means you’re scared of people, I’m not scared of people. Quite frankly I respect all people. We probably have a disagreement on the definition of marriage.” Moran interrupted again, “Your policies kill people. Your policies enable people to be murdered. You have to protect us. You’re not protecting us. We’re going to be gunned down.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rubio will hold media availability at 10 a.m. (CDT), at the United States District Court, North District of Florida, 1 North Palafox Street in Pensacola after a tour of the Pensacola federal courthouse. Media interested in attending the event should RSVP to

MIXED SIGNALS ON LABOR FORCE UNDER ‘JOBS GOVERNOR,’ RICK SCOTT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – State economists are struggling to find meaning in new data sending mixed signals on the percentage of Floridians active in the labor force under the self-described jobs governor, Republican Scott. While the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in May, down 0.7 percent from a year ago, statistics show that the number of residents looking for or securing employment for the first time is trending downward. The Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research’s latest look at the Florida economy shows the percent of people newly active in the workforce fell in May to 10.5 percent from 12.1 percent a year earlier. At the same time, the number of Floridians rejoining the workforce after a period when they stopped looking for a job or holding a job rose to 30.7 percent from 28.4 percent, during the same period. “Currently, it is not clear what this data suggests,” EDR admits. “The increase in the share of re-entrants is generally encouraging, while the decline in new entrants sends mixed signals.”

CITIZENS INSURANCE TO SPEND $1.8M FOR INVESTIGATING WATER DAMAGE CLAIMS via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Politics – Citizens Property Insurance Corp. board of governors approved a $1.8 million contract with a company that will examine escalating water damage claims from policyholders and determine whether the charges are excessive. “The goal is to identify inflated or excessive charges on invoices from contractors that have performed water damage restorations for Citizens’ policyholders and to contest or adjust invoices so it comports with industry standards,” said Jay Adams, Citizens’ chief of claims. Without debate, the board unanimously approved the five-year contract, which includes two one-year extensions, with Lynx Services, LLC. Rising water claims have been a growing concern for Citizens officials. The property insurer, which is backed by the state, is advancing a 6.8 percent statewide rate hike for its nearly 500,000 policyholders, citing rising water-damage claims as a key reason for the premium increase. The water-damage claim issue is particularly acute in Southeast Florida, where Citizens’ policyholders could see a rate hike approaching 10 percent. The rate hike is headed to a public hearing next month with a final decision by Citizens’ board of governors set for September.

PERSONNEL NOTE: MOLLY KELLOGG-SCHMAUCH JOINS FLORIDA CLERKS via Florida Politics – The former communications director for the Florida Commission on Offender Review is now with the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers association. She has taken the new role of “Chief Communications Officer” for the group. Her first day was June 22. Kellogg-Schmauch has 15 years of communications experience and has worked for several state agencies, including the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and VISIT FLORIDA, according to a press release. She serves on the Florida Public Relations Association Capital Chapter Board of Directors, is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Tallahassee, and is a member of Springtime Tallahassee’s Spanish Krewe. Kellogg-Schmauch is a 1996 graduate of the University of South Carolina-Columbia, where she majored in communication.

WHAT MAKES FLORIDA SO WEIRD? A NATIVE TRIES TO EXPLAIN. via Kent Russell of The New York Times – In his newest book, “Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country,” Craig Pittman tells those outside the peninsula: The deal with Florida is the charlatans and lunatics and Snapchat-famous plastic surgeons. It is the Ponzi schemes, the byzantine corruption, the evangelical fervor and the consenting-adult depravity. It is the seasonless climate. The lack of historical consciousness. The way in which this nation’s unctuous elements tend to trickle down as if Florida were the grease trap under America’s George Foreman grill. It is all of the above, and then some, and then more on top of that. And deep we go. Pittman guides us through 18 chapters of natural, economic, political, social and personal history, each painstakingly reported and researched. These he arranges into a compulsively readable, lifer’s-eye view of a state he so obviously loves to death. Pittman traces many national phenomena to their Florida roots. The first “stand your ground” law was pushed through by Marion Hammer, a former N.R.A. president who also fought against the adoption of the amicable scrub jay as state bird. (“Begging for food isn’t sweet,” she argued. “It’s a welfare mentality.”) Billy Graham got his start preaching to alligators along the banks of the Hillsborough River. Anita Bryant, whom Pittman refers to as “the Bull Connor of gay rights,” was previously Big Orange’s juice shill. Pittman, who has worked at The Tampa Bay Times since 1989, is a walking museum, the type of wry newshound whose ­marrow-deep knowledge of place used to be indispensable to America’s major dailies. For as much as his book is a celebration of Florida, it is also a celebration of journalism. (Florida, after all, is the originator of the open-records “sunshine law” that many other states have since copied.) And professionals like Pittman are as endangered as the Floridiana that formerly lined the roadsides.

HILLSBOROUGH FILM COMPANY WANTS TAX MONEY via Noah Pransky of WTSP – County commissioners are expected to vote on $25,000 worth of subsidies to incentivize a Hillsborough County film company to shoot a film in Hillsborough County. The tax dollars are the latest attempt from the county to support its struggling film industry. But unlike a 2015 film incentive recipient, The Infiltrator, this week’s subsidy-seeker boasts no multi-million-dollar budget and no blockbuster cast. The proposed incentive, designed to “secure the local filming of the motion picture,” will cover 10 percent of the budget for No Postage Necessary, a film produced by Plant City-based Two Roads Picture Co. According to the subsidy application, production is scheduled to start next week. According to county records, the majority owner of Two Roads, Jennifer Closshey, has been a regular campaign contributor to commissioners over the last decade, donating $2,500 to Al Higginbotham, $250 to Ken Hagan, and $250 to Stacey White. “They are being awful cavalier with money that doesn’t belong to them,” wrote Andres Malave, Florida communications director for conservative group Americans for Prosperity, in an email. “Taxpayers won’t see a good ROI, the state had proven that. Citizens should note who supports it and hold them accountable when it counts.”

LAKELAND’S THE LEDGER NEWSROOM AIMS TO UNIONIZE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – According to … the NewsGuild-CWA (Communications Workers of America) … The Ledger, Lakeland’s newspaper of record, was owned for 42 of its 92 years by The New York Times Company. It was bought in 2011 by Halifax Media, which was itself was later taken over by GateHouse Media. “Reporters, photographers, copy editors and other employees in The Ledger’s newsroom signed cards stating their desire to be represented by The NewsGuild-CWA,” the release said. “The cards, filed Monday at the Tampa regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, will trigger an NLRB-monitored election by Ledger staff members in the next 20 to 40 days.” If a majority votes “yes,” said the release, then “the newsroom will unionize and begin working with The Ledger’s corporate owner to negotiate a first labor contract.” The Ledger, with a daily circulation of 45,900 and Sunday circulation of 61,000, “would become the only paper in Florida and the first in modern memory to have a unionized newsroom,” representing up to 30 Ledger employees, according to the release.

POKÉMON GO ROBBERIES REPORTED AT LAKE EOLA IN ORLANDO via Stephanie Allen of the Orlando Sentinel – The robberies were reported about three hours apart late Friday night and early Saturday morning on opposite sides of the lake in downtown Orlando … Both the victims’ cellphone were stolen and one told police he was punched by three men. The first robbery happened just after 10 p.m. Friday near South Eola Drive at Pine Street while a 24-year-old was walking around the lake playing the augmented reality game. The victim told police two young men riding bicycles rode past. One then approached, snatched the victim’s Apple iPhone 6 and both rode away toward Summerlin Avenue, according to police. Just before 1 a.m. Saturday, a 28-year-old Pokemon trainer called police reporting he also was robbed. The victim said three men jumped him near Rosalind Avenue and Robinson Street, while he was paying attention to the game and not his surroundings. The three men started punching him and one grabbed the victim’s cellphone, according to police. The group then fled east into Lake Eola Park.

THIS RELATIVELY UNKNOWN TOWN IN FLORIDA HAS BECOME A PLAYGROUND FOR THE RICHEST OF THE RICH via Brittany Kriegstein of Business Insider – Every winter, the small town of Wellington, in southeast Florida, experiences a tremendous influx of some of the wealthiest people in the world. From the Springsteens to the Bloombergs, to the families of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, to Arab sheikhs and South American billionaires, it’s a congregation of people with spectacular quantities of money … They’re coming for WEF: the Winter Equestrian Festival, which takes place every year from January to April on the hallowed grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The 12-week WEF has been the longest equestrian event of its kind for several years running, and it attracts riders at all levels of the sport. Because of the costly nature of all things equestrian, it’s no surprise that rich people and horses go hand in hand … As WEF has grown over the years, it has turned Wellington into a winter oasis for the upper crust, who come to ride, mingle, and bask in the warm weather. But while the human amenities are nothing to sneeze at, the real luxuries are reserved for the horses.

ACC, ESPN TO LAUNCH ACC NETWORK IN 2019 via Joedy McCreary of The Associated Press – ESPN and the ACC also will start a digital channel next month that will be available online … The launch of the network will be discussed this week when the ACC holds its preseason football media days beginning Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Commissioner John Swofford‘s regularly scheduled news conference will be Thursday. The ACC will become the fourth major conference with its own network, joining the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference. The SEC also has ESPN as its partner. The ACC’s digital channel will be available to authenticated subscribers via ESPN’s online apps, the person said. That means viewers will have to first provide the usernames and passwords they use to log in to the online accounts for their cable or satellite television providers. The creation of an ACC-specific TV channel has been arguably the hottest off-the-field topic surrounding the conference since realignment slowed, and the conference has spent years researching the possibility.

SEMINOLES FOOTBALL TO APPEAR ON ALL ACCESS SHOWTIME SERIES via The Associated Press – “A Season with Florida State Football” will debut on Sept. 6 at 10 p.m. EST. That is the night after the Seminoles season opener against Mississippi in Orlando. Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president of Showtime Sports, said Florida State was one of the programs they were considering last year before deciding on Notre Dame. This year the network was able to show Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher a couple episodes of last year’s series which made it helped convince Fisher to get on board. Notre Dame finished 10-3 last season, and the series featured many intriguing storylines, including the injury to quarterback Malik Zaire in the second game and the development of DeShone Kizer. “In many ways, we couldn’t have asked for better material. It was a roller-coaster ride for fans but from a TV perspective it was something out of a movie,” Espinoza said of last year. “We got everything we bargained for and much more. We were looking to find a school with good storylines who would be a national contender. We couldn’t find anyone better than Florida State.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Hizzoner, Lenny Curry.

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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