Sunburn for 7/15 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the state’s dominant public affairs PR firm: On this day in 2006, the social networking site  Twitter was launched for public use. The craft of writing has never been the same. The Sunshine State is  Number 3 in the country in the volume of tweets.

Now on to the ‘burn…

BILL NELSON: PREVENT OIL DRILLING IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA FROM ‘MESSING UP’ EVERGLADES via June Fletcher of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson flew in to Southwest Florida to listen to concerns from local environmental groups and government officials about continued oil drilling in Southwest Florida — and he got an earful.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars to restore the Everglades — that’s taxpayer dollars,” said Nelson, who made a brief stopover at Southwest Florida International Airport for the meeting.

“I want to make sure what goes on does not mess that up,” he said.

Nelson asked local officials to explain what effects alternative drilling techniques such as fracking could have on the fragile ecosystem and watershed of the area.

But local government administrators said they need more scientific and technical information from the federal government on how safe these practices are.

“We just don’t know if it’s safe or not,” said George Yilmaz, public utilities administrator for Collier County government.

MARCO RUBIO AND THE SAFETY NET: THE GOP SHOULD TAKE THE FLORIDA SENATOR’S IDEAS SERIOUSLY via The Economist

Over the past few months, while many of his colleagues have devoted themselves to mauling the president, he has proposed a series of government interventions to improve the lot of cash-strapped Americans. His aim is to have bills ready to go if Republicans take control of the Senate in November. … Rubio is only 43, so he is probably not experienced enough to take on Hillary Clinton … But … he is the most effective standard-bearer for conservatives who worry more about reducing poverty and long-term unemployment than about waging culture wars and cutting income tax.

RUBIO: I CAN BEAT HILLARY via Rachel Huggins of the Hill

Sen. Rubio believes he can beat Hillary Clinton in the race for the 2016 presidency.

“Multiple people can beat her. Hillary Clinton is not unbeatable,” the GOP presidential hopeful told radio host Hugh Hewitt in an interview.

When asked whether he’s concerned about Clinton’s extensive foreign policy background, Rubio quickly slammed the potential Democratic frontrunner.

“I’d ask her: You were the Secretary of State during the first four years of the Obama administration. Name one significant foreign policy achievement, now or after you left?” he said.

“The reset with Russia has been a disaster, the Middle East is more unstable today than it’s been in I don’t know when, our relationships with Latin America and democracy have deteriorated…our partners around the world view us as less reliable.”

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Jeb Bush: “Great to be with Senator Scott Brown and his family today. Proud to support his campaign for U.S. Senate! #nhpolitics

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ARE U.S ELECTIONS RIGGED?

A new Rasmussen survey finds that 48 percent of likely American voters say U.S. elections are not fair to voters, while just 39 percent think elections are fair and 14 percent are not sure.

DAYS UNTIL THE ELECTION: 112

MONEY MOVES FREELY THROUGH MAZE OF POLITICAL GROUPS Full blog post here

A political committee looking to oust Gov. Scott gave the Florida Democratic Party $740,000 at the end of June, siphoning money through a maze of groups ahead of the November elections, according to state records.

“Florida For All” is one committee that gave money to the FDP on June 30, campaign-finance reports filed last week show.

Florida For All also received $743,179 in late June from a Democratic Governors Association-related PAC, with another $500,000 coming from the Service Employees International Union’s political arm.

TWEET, TWEET: @amy_hollyfield: Who is more natural and responsive to questions, Rick Sott or Siri?

ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: Gov. Scott will hold a hurricane readiness press conference and “encourage all Floridians to be prepared this hurricane season,” according to a release. Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center, 2711 E. Hannah Ave. Tampa. 2:30 p.m.

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JOHN MORGAN: I’VE ROUNDED UP $6 MILLION FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan has seen casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and he’s raising him.

The primary booster for Florida’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment says he has rustled up roughly $6 million in donations to pay for ads and voter-mobilization efforts — a direct response to Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate who has given $2.5 million to a Drug Free Florida group founded by law enforcement officials fighting the amendment.

“It seems like the more the other side comes up with money, the more comes to us,” Morgan said.

The main political committee supporting what will appear as Amendment 2 on the November general election ballot, People United for Medical Marijuana, has already spent more than $5 million. Morgan’s family and law firm have fronted $3.75 million of that so far, including contributions and loans.

But much of the new money will likely flow through a federally formed 501(c)4 committee that won’t have to disclose its donors, Morgan said.

Morgan said he also expects to give more money himself to push the amendment, which would require 60 percent approval at the polls to pass. Most publicly available polling has found it at or above that threshold.

MEANWHILE … MORGAN HIRES TWO STATE LAWMAKERS via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

Morgan & Morgan added two Florida House members to its stable of more than 200 attorneys across the country.

“I am pleased to announce that state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen joined us this week and state Rep. Mike Clelland joined two months ago,” wrote John Morgan in an email to the Scripps/Tribune Capitol Bureau. “We are a large firm with many different lawyers. It takes a lot of different vegetables and spices to make the perfect stew.”

Fitzenhagen previously was a partner at Naples law firm Goede, Adamczyk & DeBoest, PLLC. She was first elected in 2012.

Clelland, an Orlando Democrat, is a former firefighter also elected in 2012. Previously, he ran his own law firm that focused on legal issues that affect first responders and law enforcement.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: IMMIGRATION REFORM, JEB BUSH, STRESS & KIDS AND IOWA 

On Context Florida: With tens of thousands of undocumented Central American children pouring across our border with Mexico, Bob Sparks notes that Floridians and Americans are in no mood for a blame game. They seem to want solutions. Former Governor Jeb Bush has taken the national stage in recent years, becoming the Republican Party’s voice of sanity on immigration reform. Julie Delegal writes that Bush should take the current humanitarian crisis – more than 50,000 unaccompanied children crossing our borders without parents since October – as an opportunity to speak up for these children because this nation is losing its way, and he has the ability to speak on this issue as no one else can. Catherine Durkin Robinson writes about a recent NPR news story on the toll stress takes on a person’s health, caused by disabilities, chronic illness, poverty and parenting teenagers. This should come as no surprise to most parents. If you have a kid, you also probably have a sneaking suspicion that your child is bad for your health. Democracy in Florida is still a work in progress, says Martin Dyckman, even as to the basic principle that every citizen’s vote should count the same.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

FAA GIVES OK TO ORLANDO AIRPORT TERMINAL SPACE FOR ALL ABOARD FLORIDA Full blog post here

The Federal Aviation Administration approved expansion plans for Orlando International Airport that includes possible terminal space for the All Aboard Florida passenger rail.

U.S. Rep. John Mica, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced the FAA approval late Friday, with plans for a South Airport People Mover Complex and an intermodal transit facility.

“Without this FAA approval, there would be no airport expansion, nor would we be able to connect future transportation links,” Mica said in a statement. “The airport, which was originally constructed to handle 24 million passengers, and now accommodates nearly 35 million annually, would be left in a holding pattern without this approval.”

Gov. Scott proposed in February spending $213.5 million over three years to develop a complex in Orlando to serve a combination of aviation, rental-car, private-vehicle, airport shuttle and rail transportation.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority expects to invest as much as $467.5 million in the multi-purpose project, which could eventually accommodate All Aboard Florida.

FSU WARNED THAT NEW SEARCH COULD BE A “SHAM” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Florida State University is trying to jump-start its tumultuous search for a new president, but top officials have already been warned that the process could be viewed as a “sham” because of the candidacy of powerful state Sen. John Thrasher, who is seen as the front-runner.

Late last month, FSU officials agreed to revamp the search and wait until September to find a replacement for Eric Barron, who abruptly left FSU to take the top position at Penn State University.

But emails obtained by The Associated Press show that the consultant first hired to help FSU told the head of the search committee that the university was trying to “concoct a competitive process.” Those same emails show that Thrasher has reached out directly to top FSU officials and that the former campaign manager of Gov. Scott has given advice about the search.

Bill Funk, the consultant who resigned in early June after FSU’s faculty questioned his work, told trustee Ed Burr that FSU would not be able to attract viable candidates as long as the 70-year-old Thrasher remained a candidate for the job.

Thrasher, an alumnus of FSU, lacks academic credentials but is a former House speaker and current chairman of Scott’s re-election campaign. Thrasher’s candidacy has emerged at the same time that rival University of Florida is searching for a new leader, but it wants someone with academic credentials.

It was Funk who initially suggested FSU interview Thrasher first before considering other candidates. But FSU officials dropped that plan after other candidates, including state Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston, applied for the post. The decision to designate Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican, as the main candidate created a backlash among some faculty and students. Now FSU is accepting applications until early September before coming up with at least three candidates for the FSU board to consider.

Two days before Polston applied, however, Thrasher himself forwarded to a top FSU official an email from an FSU professor who complained Thrasher’s supporters pushed ahead too quickly.

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FLORIDA & PALM BEACH PBAs ENDORSE JOE NEGRON in SD 32

State Sen. Joe Negron announced that the Florida Police Benevolent Association, Inc. and the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, Inc. have endorsed him in his bid for re-election to the Florida Senate, District 32.

“The Florida Police Benevolent Association is proud to endorse Joe Negron in his candidacy for Florida Senate, District 32,” said Matt Puckett, executive director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, Inc. “We will ask our members, their friends and families – and all citizens in District 32 who respect the strong and efficient enforcement of our laws, to cast their ballots in support of Joe Negron.”

 “I am honored to be endorsed by the Florida and Palm Beach Benevolent Police Associations, who represent those who are willing to risk their lives every day to protect others,” said Negron.  “If re-elected, I pledge to continue to listen to the concerns of our first responders and keep the safety and well-being of our local community at the forefront.”

TALLAHASSEE FUNDRAISING RECEPTION FOR SEN. ELLYN BOGDANOFF

A number of leading state Republicans, including Speaker Will Weatherford, Reps. Richard Corcoran, Rich Workman and Sens. Jack Latvala, Greg Evers, Bill Galvano and Alan Hays will attend a fundraising reception for former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff in her campaign for Senate District 34. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at the home of Connie Prince, 1260 Live Oak Plantation Road in Tallahassee.

JACK LATVALA TOPS $437K IN SD 20 RE-ELECTION EFFORT Full blog post here

State Sen. Jack Latvala, facing minimal opposition, continues his solid fundraising effort by posting $1,950 from June 21 to July 4.

The Clearwater Republican has now banked $437,185 in his re-election to the Senate District 20 seat, which covers much of north Pinellas County.

At the same time, Latvala spent $11,010, for a total of $158,117 in expenditures, leaving him with $279,068 cash-on-hand.

Latvala’s Republican opponent, Pinellas County businessperson Zahid Roy, posted no contributions in the two-week period. With a loan of $2,500 and expenditures of $1,989, Roy has $511 on hand.

The other candidate in the SD 20 race had (slightly) better luck. Libertarian candidate Tony Caso raised $50 in the reporting period for a total of $5,130 and has $1,519 on hand.

JEFF BRANDES ADDS ANOTHER $10K IN SD 22 RE-ELECTION BID Full blog post here

State Sen. Brandes continues his fundraising lead in his re-election effort for Senate District 22, as both state parties line up behind their respective candidates during the period between June 21 and July 4.

The St. Petersburg Republican added $10,000  during the two-week period, with an additional $20,300 of in-kind support from the Republican Party of Florida. It brings his total to $447,336. Brandes’ spent $2,934 on his campaign, for a total of $251,872 in expenditures. This leaves Brandes with $195,872 cash-on-hand.

Meanwhile, the Democratic challenger, USF St. Petersburg political science professor Judithanne McLauchlan, took in a slightly higher amount of cash, with $13,684 — and another $14,000 in-kind, mostly from the Florida Democratic Party — giving her a total of $133,752 and $89,374 cash-on-hand.

Senate District 22 covers southern Pinellas and part of Hillsborough County.

HERE’S A FIRST LOOK AT BRANDES FIRST TV AD here

THAD ALTMAN BANKS $4,500 FOR SD 16 RE-ELECTION Full blog post here

State Sen. Thad Altman added another $4,500 from June 21 to July 4 in his re-election campaign for Senate District 16.

The Space Coast Republican also received nearly $24,000 of in-kind aid during the two-week period, mostly polling and research support from the Republican Party of Florida.

Altman has now raised a total of $220,795. After spending $25,040 in the reporting period, for a total of $148,304 in expenditures, he now has $76,991 cash-on-hand.

Computer industry executive Monique Miller, Altman’s only GOP opposition, raised only $645 for a total of $6,665 — not including $40,000 in loans — giving her $35,190 on hand.

HD 112 RACE ATTRACTS NATIONAL ATTENTION via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald

Need more proof that the House District 112 race will be among the most closely watched?

The Republican State Leadership Committee’s Future Majority Project named it one of 14 statehouse races to watch in 2014.

It was the only race in Florida to make the list.

The incumbent, Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez, is facing a challenge from political newcomer Daniel Diaz Leyva. Both candidates are young, Cuban-American attorneys who are considered rising stars in their respective parties.

The race is competitive. So far, Rodriguez has collected about $146,000 in campaign contributions. Diaz Leyva has raised about $185,000.

District 112 includes parts of downtown Miami, the Roads, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and Little Havana.

VAL DEMINGS SEES HER STOCK RISING, AND GROWING ELECTORAL OPTIONS via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

It was noteworthy to some when former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings was making the rounds at Florida Democrats’ annual fundraising conference in Westin last month.

That’s because her name is surfacing as a potential running mate for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist.

And with the Florida Supreme Court expected to decide whether to order Florida’s congressional districts re-drawn this year, national Democrats are also in communications with her camp to see if she’d be interested in running again against U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, the Winter Garden Republican who narrowly defeated her for the seat in 2012.

Demings may have shocked Orlando-area Democrats in May when she abandoned a late-launched challenge to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a popular Republican. But she hasn’t stopped being an attractive option for a party with a dire shortage of bench talent.

Demings said in a text she was waiting to see what the new congressional district would look like, but also echoed the same line of attack Crist and his campaign have been lobbing at incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Scott for the last week.

“No one knows what will ultimately happen with District 10, but regardless of the candidate, the citizens of District 10 deserve to be represented by a person of their choice, not the choice of the GOP in Tallahassee,” she said. “My priority now is to see Florida become a model for fairness and equality and no longer a place where backroom deals between the privileged few rule.”

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APPOINTED: Jon Basquin as a School Board Member of Hendry County.

APPOINTED: Tracy Keegan to the Board of Accountancy.

ECENIA & RUTLEDGE INK SECOND MARIJUANA CLIENT via PoliticsofPot.com

Participants are lining up for a new battle over marijuana. State regulators are working on a set of rules for a medicinal marijuana industry authorized by the Charlotte’s Web bill signed into law last month by Gov. Scott.

Investors are lining up lobbyists to win a piece of what industry experts expect to be a Florida market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Florida Medical Growers, LLC, an Apopka entity that filed with the state Division of Corporations in February, has hired two lobbying firms to represent its interests in Tallahassee, Jon Costello of Ecenia & Rutledge and Steve Schale.

Forty-six nurseries meet the requirements of SB 1030 to qualify for a state license to cultivate, process and dispense a cannabis extract. The Department of Health will issue five licenses. How those licenses will be awarded is among the details regulators are working out.

Florida Medical Growers’ registration lists Dionna Adams as the corporation’s only principal.

It’s the second cannabis client for both Costello and Schale. The two also have separate contracts with Sanctuary Cannabis.

Doctors will be able to order a cannabis extract to treat patients starting Jan. 1. A nursery has to be already growing at least 400,000 plants and have the financial means to start up a new crop under regulations requiring cultivation, processing and dispensing to qualify for a license.

PERSONNEL NOTE – LOBBYING FIRM METZ, HISBAND & DAUGHTON SNAGS ALLI LIBY-SCHOONOVER

Previously featured as a 30 under 30 rising star on SaintPetersBlog and with a brand new baby girl, Alli Liby-Schoonover certainly has been busy personally and professionally. Starting September 1, she will be the newest member of the Metz, Husband & Daughton team.

Liby-Schoonover will be leaving her role overseeing education and agriculture policy for the Senate Republican caucus serving under Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto. Alli, a Teach for America alum who holds a masters degree in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania, will bring a wealth of experience and policy acumen to the firm.

Prior to working in the Senate, Alli was the Deputy Finance Director for Senate Campaigns at the Republican Party of Florida.

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ARCHIE TO BE SHOT SAVING GAY FRIEND IN COMIC BOOK via the Associated Press

Archie Andrews will die taking a bullet for his gay best friend.

The famous freckle-faced comic book icon is meeting his demise in Wednesday’s installment of “Life with Archie” when he intervenes in an assassination attempt on Kevin Keller, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character. Andrews’ death, which was first announced in April, will mark the conclusion of the series that focuses on grown-up renditions of Andrews and his Riverdale pals.

“The way in which Archie dies is everything that you would expect of Archie,” said Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO. “He dies heroically. He dies selflessly. He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us. It’s what Archie has come to represent over the past almost 75 years.”

Keller’s character first joined Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper, Jughead Jones and Reggie Mantle in the Archie Comics spin-off “Veronica” in 2010. He later appeared in his own solo title. In “Life with Archie,” Keller is a married military veteran and newly elected senator who’s pushing for more gun control in Riverdale after his husband was involved in a shooting.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my good friends Tom Piccolo and Ron Sachs. Best wishes and a basket of gratitude to Context Florida editor, Thomas O’Hara.

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.