Sunburn for 7/21 – 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: Today is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday! Hemingway settled in Key West in 1928. Some of his most famous novels were “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Farewell to Arms.”

Now, on to the burn…

MORNING MUST-READ: MORE THAN $200 MILLION IN OUTSIDE MONEY FLOODS FLORIDA ELECTIONS SINCE ‘CITIZENS UNITED’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

More than $200 million in outside money has poured into Florida elections since a landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, bombarding voters with ads, weakening control candidates have over their own messages and pitting free speech rights against increasing secrecy.

Florida is one of the biggest and most expensive laboratories in this new era of loosely regulated money raised and spent beyond candidate campaigns, and the Tampa Bay Times‘ review is the first attempt to grasp the sheer volume and reach in federal elections.

Some 170 outside groups, many that did not exist before 2010, are reshaping the Florida landscape. Or at least turning up the noise with an overwhelmingly negative stream of TV and radio ads, mailers and phone calls.

Florida is among the top states where the outside money has flowed because it is an important presidential battleground and has had a string of competitive congressional elections. A court decision this month forcing the Legislature to redraw U.S. House districts could widen the playing field.

Outside spending in Florida U.S. House and Senate races reached $6.8 million in 2008. By 2010, after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates, it had jumped to $21 million. In 2012, $52 million.

Collectively, outside groups have spent more than $85 million in congressional races in the past four years, including $9 million poured this spring into the battle for the Pinellas County seat held for decades by the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

Outside money in that contest was about $4 million more than the candidates spent combined, a feat that could be replicated in tight races across the country in the months and years to come.

MEANWHILE … SHELDON ADELSON IS READY TO DONATE UP TO $100 MILLION via John King  on CNN’s Inside Politics

Sheldon Adelson … the big casino owner, the GOP mega donor in Las Vegas … [has] been meeting with Republican strategists. They’ve shown him the Senate map. They’ve briefed him on the candidates. They’ve showed him all the polling. And he says he wants to make a huge commitment to help Republicans take back the Senate, a commitment that could be, one source in the meeting tells me, up to $100 million.”

RACE FOR CD 2 MOVES FROM “LEAN GOP” TO “TOSSUP”

The Rothenberg Political Report has updated the rating of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District race from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up/Tilt Republican.”

“This panhandle district is both very competitive and extremely polarized. Gwen Graham, daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, will be the Democratic nominee, and she is a serious threat to Southerland,” the report says. “Observers say that she is off to a good start, and her potential to improve on the 2012 Democratic vote outside Leon County leads us to move this race from Lean Republican to Toss-up/Tilt Republican.”

GRAHAM HOLDS TWELFTH WORK DAY AT TALLAHASSEE BARBERSHOP Full blog post here

Graham’s latest “Work Day” had the candidate sweeping floors, taking out trash, and answering phones at a local barber shop in Tallahassee.

While on her shift at Fades Professional Barber Shop, the Tallahassee Democrat discussed issues facing both customers and employees, explaining how the proposed Graham Economic Plan will help small business owners throughout North Florida.

“My business is just like small businesses all over Tallahassee; we want the chance to grow and hire more people,” said Fades owner Marlon Williams. “It’s good to see someone running for office that wants to hear from small business owners like myself and isn’t afraid to do some real work.”

Williams added that he was grateful to have the extra help on a busy Saturday.

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CHARLIE CRIST’S GAMBLE ON ANNETTE TADDEO DIDN’T GET INSTANT PAYOFF via Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State News

Charlie Crist hoped to get some positive attention by announcing Annette Taddeo as his running mate but his move was overshadowed by other events, some of which don’t help his campaign.

The front pages of newspapers across Florida came out with stories on the Malaysia Airlines crash in the Ukraine and a judge’s decision to allow same-sex weddings in Monroe County. Crist plucking Taddeo got buried as a result.

Things didn’t improve as Rick Scott crowed about the unemployment rate going down in June with 36,900 private-sector jobs created. That type of news only underscores one of the best weapons in Scott’s arsenal. Under Scott, the unemployment rate has dropped 5 percent to 6.1 percent. That’s a stark contrast to Crist’s record when the unemployment rate rocketed to 11.1 percent and he decided to hightail it to Washington with his second try at winning a U.S. Senate seat.

Allison Tant didn’t help clear things up for Crist. Ignoring the fact that Nan Rich is still looming in the primary against Crist, Tant offered lavish praise for Taddeo. Needless to say, Rich and her supporters criticized Crist for acting as if he should be coroneted with the Democratic nomination, with no debates and selecting a running mate despite being a member of the party for barely a year and a half.

The Democrat bosses have spoken and they are behind Crist. In fact, a Democrat boss is Crist’s running mate. Taddeo’s only real political experience comes from leading the Miami-Dade Democrats since every time she’s sought elected office — from Congress to a County Commission seat — she’s flopped.

Nor do things look better for Democrats in Miami-Dade where Taddeo held the reins. No Democrats are running against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart for congressional seats. Rene Garcia and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla are headed back to the Florida Senate with no opposition. At least most of the Miami-Dade Republicans in the Florida House have Democratic opponents, but only a handful of them are serious candidates. Not exactly a sterling record for Taddeo.

CRIST: ‘IT FELT RIGHT’ TO NAME RUNNING MATE 40 DAYS BEFORE PRIMARY via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Crist and Taddeo stopped in West Palm Beach to meet reporters and chat up customers at Nick’s 50s Diner on Okeechobee Boulevard.

Crist’s Democratic primary rival, Nan Rich, has called it “very presumptuous” for Crist to pick a running mate more than five weeks before the Aug. 26 primary.

Asked about the timing, Crist said he announced Taddeo’s selection “because it felt right, that’s why. I’ve gotten to know Annette, knew her for a while, gotten to know her a lot better this past year…I’ve been covering the whole state by myself. And it’s a big state. And it’s nice to have a partner helping out and carrying this good, positive, hopeful message of a better Florida and better education.”

CRIST: TOUTED AS ATTORNEY FOR MORGAN & MORGAN, BUT HASN’T BEEN IN COURT via Matt Dixon of the Naples Daily News

When Crist joined Morgan & Morgan in January 2011, the law firm’s well-known founder, John Morgan, said he was happy to get the former Republican governor into a courtroom.

Since taking the job, however, Crist hasn’t frequented many courtrooms.

Records show that Crist, who is based in Morgan & Morgan’s St. Petersburg office, hasn’t been the named attorney on any cases in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties since joining the firm. That was true of only a handful of the firm’s dozens of Tampa or St. Petersburg-based attorneys, according to court records. Those other attorneys had much longer legal resumes than Crist, according to the firm’s website.

During 2013, Crist made nearly $300,000 from Morgan & Morgan, according to recently filed campaign finance reports. He’s now running for governor as a Democrat.

Morgan said Crist hasn’t been in courtrooms because his primary task has been to recruit business for the firm.

“His role has evolved” since he was hired, Morgan wrote in an email to the Scripps/Tribune Capital Bureau. “We first thought he would work in mass torts. He has been a rainmaker extraordinaire. Wish I had 10 just like him.”

During that time, Crist also was monitoring the spill for the St. Joe Co., one of Florida’s largest landowners. After leaving that company’s board of directors in early 2013, remaining board members gave him a consulting contract worth $182,993, Scripps/Tribune reported in June.

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Strategic Image Management – Florida’s premier one-stop shop for political campaigns, issue advocacy, legislative initiatives, & public relations. Visit www.simwins.com or follow us on twitter @SIMWINS and start winning today.***

CAPUTO: DESPITE HIS TROUBLES, NUMBERS FAVOR RICK SCOTT via the Miami Herald

Crist had one of the best weeks of the governor’s race after picking a widely admired running mate, Annette Taddeo, Miami-Dade County’s Democratic leader.

And Gov. Scott, called out by TV stations across Florida and the nation for serial non-answers and question-dodging, had one of the toughest stretches ever.

But don’t let the coverage fool you. Crist has serious trouble on his hands.

Scott has a number of other numbers on his side:

• Campaign cash: Personal wealth aside, Scott’s campaign and political committees have raised almost $24 million and spent $22 million since Crist entered the race in November. Crist’s committees have raised almost $14.4 million and spent about $3.6 million.

• Government cash: Crist presided over a bust of an economy. Scott governed at the boom.

• Polls: Scott led by an inside-the-error-margin amount of 2 percentage points in the most-recent poll, released July 3 by Tampa’s WFLA by SurveyUSA. Scott’s 45-43 percent lead is a net change in his favor of 7 points since April, when the same pollster showed Scott trailing Crist 41-46 percent. Other polls in late spring also showed Scott gaining.

• Ads: Scott’s improved standing owes much to his TV ads. They basically buy votes in a state as big as Florida.

SCOTT’S GAY MARRIAGE DODGE: LET’S TALK ABOUT JOBS via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

What used to be well-known only to political print reporters in Florida is now seeping into local TV news across the state: Rick Scott won’t directly answer questions about most topics of the day.

The most-recent example: Gay marriage and the decision Thursday by a Florida Keys judge to declare the 2008 voter-approved same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. On Friday at two events, the governor wouldn’t really say what he thought of the ruling or whether Florida Attorney Pam Bondi should appeal.

“Nobody wants discrimination in our state,” Scott said in Bonita Springs, adding that he believes “in traditional marriage” and citizens’ access to the courts.

Gay-rights groups say the same-sex marriage ban discriminates against them, but the ban’s backers say their votes are being discriminated against by judicial activism.

So what discrimination is Scott against? Scott won’t say.

“Aren’t you trying to have it both ways?” WPLG’s Michael Putney asked Scott Friday in Miami.“People have different view about it our state,” Scott replied. “But in 2008, the voters decided that this state would be a traditional marriage state. It’s going through the court system. But what’s important to me is I don’t want anybody discriminated against.” Putney: “Aren’t gays being discriminated against?” Scott: “I’m against any discrimination. But in 2008, the voters decided this would be a traditional marriage state.”Putney: “Are you…”

Scott (cutting him off): “Let’s talk about jobs – 37,000 jobs in a month! It’s the biggest jump! Michael! Michael! This is our biggest month since I got elected,” Scott said. “We’re over 620,000 jobs [created]. When I ran in 2010, I said seven steps to 700,000 jobs over seven years. And a lot of people questioned whether we could do that…. We’re at 620,000. What’s so exciting is 37,000 a month. I mean I just still think about my dad, watching his face when the only car we had got repossessed. That’s what I want to help with.”

Putney: “Well, congratulations on these numbers.”

And congratulations on reinventing history, governor.

… Steve Bousquet … noted how Scott’s evasions – from climate change to a controversy over using on-duty cops at a campaign event — have made it to national cable news.

And then political reporter Craig Patrick at Fox 13 in Tampa followed up with a tough report that the liberal group American Bridge featured on YouTube with the headline: “Rick Scott’s Question Dodging Nothing New to Florida Press.”

Indeed, in 2010 when he was running for office, Scott refused to talk about sitting down for a deposition in a court case involving his private business. Scott was perhaps the most-deposed candidate for governor in Florida history, and the depositions shed light on his refusal to go off message. In one of many similar exchanges, for instance, he said he didn’t know the definition of “agreement.”

But none of it seems to make much of a difference so far. Scott has a story he wants to tell about jobs. And he’s sticking to it.

But sometimes, as Patrick’s report shows, it’s painful to watch.

PRO-SCOTT “LET’S GET TO WORK” CMTE. SPENDS ANOTHER $1.4 MIL ON TV ADS 

“Let’s Get to Work,” the political committee associated with Gov. Scott’s re-election effort made more than $1.4 million in media buys from July 5 to July 11, according to finance reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Since March 1, “Work” spent $18.8 million, most of which was for ads boosting Gov. Scott and attacking likely Democratic nominee Charlie Crist.

Substantial spending during the period compares to relatively weak fundraising by both Scott’s campaign and the committee. The governor’s campaign raised only $23,391 from July 5 to July 11, for an overall total of $5.64 million.

“Work” raised $50,000 in the same period, bringing its total to approximately $33 million. A $50,000 check came from Orlando real-estate firm HLM Properties, Inc., according to the DoE website.

MEANWHILE … FUNDRAISING SLOWS FOR JEFF ATWATER, ADAM PUTNAM 

Republican state Cabinet members Jeff Atwater and Adam Putnam, facing little opposition for their re-election bids, seem to have slowed their fundraising efforts, according to the newest reports filed with the state Division of Elections.

From July 5-11, Atwater, the state’s Chief Financial Officer, raised $10,315, for a total of $1,992,641. Agriculture Commissioner Putnam raised $4,910 in the same seven-day period; his total stands at $2,018,460. Revised fundraising numbers for the Democratic opponents were pending as of Friday afternoon.

William Rankin, the Democrat running against Atwater, has a total of $13,740 through July 4. Thad Hamilton, Putnam’s Democratic opponent, raised a total of $14,953 through June 27, according to DoE records.

PAM BONDI TAKES IN ANOTHER $51K

AG Bondi continues her huge fundraising lead over Democratic opponents, with another $51,375 in contributions between July 5 and July 11, according to newly filed finance reports.

Bondi’s total now stands at $1,457,871, and she spent $127,297 as of July 11.

Two Bondi-associated committees – “Justice for All” and “And Justice for All” – have also raised a total of more than $1.7 million.

Democrat George Sheldon posted $4,145 from July 5 to July 11, for an overall total of $272,046.

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. One of Florida’s Top Lobbying Firms, Corcoran & Johnston has demonstrated the ability to navigate government and successfully deliver results for clients, time and again.  To learn more visit www.corcoranfirm.com.***

DEO HEAD NAVIGATES ISSUES FROM TECHNOLOGY TO LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT via Marcia Heroux Pounds of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jesse Panuccio, executive director of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, has survived two tough years as executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

That included controversy over Connect, the agency’s online filing system for unemployment benefits, which launched with technical flaws and prevented many of the unemployed from accessing benefits they desperately needed.

Panuccio attended a Paychecks for Patriots job fair for veterans last week in Fort Lauderdale and talked with the Sun Sentinel.

Q: What can you tell us about South Florida’s job market?

A: It’s mostly a good news story. … , especially for Broward County. Broward has an unemployment rate that’s below the statewide average. You’re seeing a lot of employers move here, a lot of employers expand. It’s a really exciting economy for Broward right now. The labor pool is growing now. That means people are getting confident in the opportunities we have here in Florida.”

WHAT’S THE BEST STATE IN AMERICA? FLORIDA, FOR ITS ROADS AND BRIDGES via Reid Wilson of the Washington Post

The nation’s roads and bridges aren’t in good shape. Twenty-five percent of bridges are rated deficient or obsolete. Fourteen percent of roads are in poor condition. And if Congress can’t reach a deal on the Highway Trust Fund soon, repair work will grind to a halt by early August, the White House says.

But amid the potholes and crumbling pylons, one state stands out: Florida ranks near the top in nearly every measure of road transportation.

Just 4 percent of the Sunshine State’s roads are in disrepair, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Seventeen percent of the bridges in Florida are obsolete or deficient. In both cases, only a handful of states — Utah and Nevada chief among them — rank higher. The quality of Florida’s roads means drivers there pay less to maintain their vehicles, about $181 per year, than those in any other state.

Part of what sets Florida apart, according to transportation policy experts, is that it has a system of tolls, user fees and taxes that ensures infrastructure funding keeps flowing.

Gas taxes in Florida, the 11th-highest in the country, add about 36 cents to the cost of a gallon of fuel, the American Petroleum Institute reports. The state’s gas tax adjusts each year based on inflation, said Jeffrey Brown, chairman of the department of urban and regional planning at Florida State University. So do tolls and user fees, which are higher in Florida than in all but five other states.

That means Florida gets most of its transportation money, 68.8 percent, not from a general fund but from dedicated revenue streams. Only Delaware and Hawaii get higher shares of their transportation revenue from dedicated funding. Those who use the roads are the ones paying to maintain them.

HIAASEN COLUMN: FLORIDA TAXPAYERS ABOUT TO BE RAILROADED via the Miami Herald

Let’s run express passenger trains 16 times round-trip every day between downtown Miami and the Orlando airport. That’s right, the airport.

Except the trains won’t go straight there, but will stop first in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, then head up the seaboard to Cocoa and hang a hard left 40 miles west across the middle of the state.

Oh, and the trip will take at least three hours one way.

Leaving aside the fact that you can inexpensively drive from downtown Miami to the Orlando airport in about the same time (or fly commercially in only 42 minutes), the project grandly known as All Aboard Florida raises other elementary questions.

Like, “Why?”

As it waddles down the tracks, this turkey enjoys the robust blessing of the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Scott, who said the following to a reporter last month:

“It’s all funding that will be provided by somebody other than the state. It’s a private company.”

Scott’s either clueless, or lying. All Aboard Florida is a future train-wreck for taxpayers. With the possible exception of the Hogwarts Express, passenger rail services almost always lose money.

UTILITIES WILL ASK PSC FOR PERMISSION TO GUT ENERGY-SAVING GOALS via Ivan Penn of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida’s big public utilities spend very little on energy conservation. Soon, they will ask state regulators for permission to spend even less.

The state’s energy future depends almost exclusively on construction of expensive new power plants, the utilities argued in preparation for the Public Service Commission hearing and in their previous public statements.

The utilities see little merit in any other strategy.

Solar energy? Not reliable. Increased efforts to encourage use of energy efficient appliances and building practices? Not “cost effective.” Studies that show it is cheaper to conserve power than to generate it? Misleading.

Given the pattern of recent decisions, there’s a good chance the PSC will approve the requests from Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co. and Florida Power & Light to gut conservation goals.

Ratepayers alarmed at that prospect will have no opportunity to object at Monday’s hearing. The proceedings will be too ”technical,” the PSC said.

The stakes are high. For the utilities, there’s the prospect of big, guaranteed returns on investments in new plants. Those returns would come from the pockets of utility customers. They, according to economist Shawn LeMond, “are going to get hosed.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Sierra Club and the Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition will help hold a rally to call on PSC to strengthen energy-efficiency programs. Outside the Public Service Commission building, 2540 Shumard Oak Blvd., Tallahassee. 11 a.m.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Britney Birken: Florida Children’s Council

Ron Book: Estate of Victor Guerrero

Jim Daughton, Metz Husband & Daughton: U.S. Sugar

Kirk Pepper, Capitol Insight: Just a slew of new registrations because the two-year ban on Pepper, a former state House employee, lobbying the Legislature has expired.

Janice Thomas: Department of Children and Families

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Floridian Partners, LLC, a statewide Public and Government Affairs firm with offices in Tallahassee, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Their firm’s success is measured by its clients’ success. Outreach and Public Advocacy; Strategic Issue and Campaign Development; Grassroots and Grasstops Coalition Building – Floridian Partners is a one-stop firm for clients needing assistance at all levels of government in Florida.***

FLA. GOP HOUSE CAMPAIGNS RAISING MONEY AT U.S. OPEN, YANKEES GAME See the invite here

Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli and other legislative leaders have scheduled two high-dollar September fundraisers in New York City, the first during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, the second during a Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees baseball game in the Bronx.

The fundraising events are scheduled for Sept. 1 and 2.

No word on how much donors are expected to contribute, but proceeds will go to House Majority, the legislative campaign arm of the RPOF.

JUDGE STRIKES RESIDENCY RULE FOR WRITE-INS via Dan Sweeny of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

A circuit judge struck down a 2007 law requiring Florida write-in candidates to live in the district they plan to run in before they are elected.

Circuit Judge George Reynolds said that was unconstitutional since other candidates did not face the same requirement.

The ruling has wide-ranging implications for Florida’s primary elections, which are open to all voters if there are no other candidates for the office in question.

But as long as the winner of a primary will face any opposition in a general election, then only members of the same political party as the candidates may vote in the primary.

It has become common practice, then, for candidates to induce an ally to run as a write-in to close a primary, if that would be advantageous. Because highly partisan voters tend to turn out for primary elections, a closed primary can mean the election of less-moderate candidates.

The decision came because of the candidacy of Ronald Bray, a write-in candidate for state House District 96, which includes parts of Parkland, Coconut Creek and Margate. Bray did not live in the district when he qualified to run for office. A voter in the district, Robert Adams, sued to have him removed from the list of qualified candidates.

Bray was a volunteer for Democrat Kristin Jacobs, who faces fellow Democrat Steve Perman in the Aug. 26 primary. Jacobs’ campaign perceives her as more appealing to registered Democrats, so a closed primary could benefit her run.

ATTACK ADS APPEAR IN DISTRICT 74 BATTLE via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“Death panels” and ties to former President Bill Clinton have become issues in what has become one of the state’s most bitter Florida legislative races.

The topics are the subject of a pair of attack ads launched last week by political committees against the two GOP candidates battling in an Aug. 26 Republican primary race to replace term-limited state Rep. Doug Holder in the Florida House.

One ad by a group calling itself Seniors for Affordable Care rips Venice doctor Julio Gonzalez as “dangerously liberal” and alleging he supports death panels “worse than those in Obamacare.”

The other ad from the Better Florida Fund Corp. calls Venice attorney Richard DeNapoli a “Charlie Crist Republican” “who once worked for Bill Clinton.”

Both DeNapoli and Gonzalez call the ads targeting them unfair, saying they are misrepresentations.

The two are running to represent House District 74, which includes most of south Sarasota County, including all of Venice and North Port.

The Seniors for Affordable Care ad seizes on a book Gonzalez wrote in 2009 in which he calls for the creation of health index scores for patients who need medical care.

Gonzalez said he was not proposing a “death panel,” a term conservatives used in criticizing health care reform. He said he was only pointing out the problem that patients now can be put through prolonged, painful treatments when there is not chance of medicine helping them.

JAY FANT LEADS PAUL RENNER BY DOUBLE-DIGITS IN GOP PRIMARY FOR HD 15 Full blog post here

Jacksonville Republican Jay Fant leads attorney Paul Renner in the GOP primary for the race to replace term-limited Rep. Daniel Davis, according to the latest poll of likely voters from StPetePolls.

Fant, a former chair of the First Guaranty Bank and Trust Co., has a 24-point advantage over Renner, a South Florida state attorney and Navy veteran in the Aug. 26 primary for the House District 15 seat, which covers much of Duval County.

In the July 15 poll of 151 registered Republican voters in HD 15, commissioned by SaintPetersBlog, Fant gets 48 percent, with Renner receiving 24 percent; just over 28 percent of respondents are still undecided.

SCOTT STURGILL WITH 5-POINT LEAD OVER BOB CORTES IN HD 30 PRIMARY, BUT MOST GOP VOTERS UNDECIDED Full blog post here

Republican primary voters in House District 30 are largely undecided over who will face first-term Democratic Rep. Karen Castor-Dentel in November, according to a new poll released this week.

In a survey of likely voters taken July 15 by StPetePolls, the primary race between Longwood City Commissioner and business executive Bob Cortes and Seminole County Soil & Water Conservation Commissioner Scott Sturgill is still up in the air, with nearly 57 percent of respondents undecided.

Among GOP voters expressing a preference, Sturgill leads Cortes by a five-point margin, 24-19 percent.

SCOTT ARCENEAUX TO TALK TO DUVAL DEMS

Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, is expected to speak as part of a grand-opening ceremony for new Duval County Democratic headquarters.  5000 Norwood Ave., Suite 9, Jacksonville. 6 p.m.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part by the Florida Medical Association: Affordable, safe, patient-centered health care in Florida starts with a physician-led team, with all health care professionals playing valuable and appropriate roles. Learn more here.***

ARIZONA MAN WINS HEMINGWAY LOOK-ALIKE CONTEST via The Associated Press

A white-bearded Arizona restaurateur has won Key West’s annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on his sixth attempt.

Wally Collins of Phoenix triumphed over 130 other entrants, including his son Matt Collins, Saturday night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. The bar was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway during the 1930s.

Competitors in sportsman’s attire paraded before a judging panel of former winners during two preliminary rounds and the finals, trying to prove their resemblance to the real Hemingway.

Other look-alike entrants included celebrity chef Paula Deen’s husband, Michael Groover of Savannah, Georgia.

Collins, who also has researched the role concussions may have played in Hemingway’s 1961 suicide, said he admired Hemingway’s ideals and taste for adventure.

“I didn’t have as many wives as he had, and I have a lot more children and grandchildren, but there are a lot of things that he stood for that I really like,” Collins said.

The contest is a highlight of the annual Hemingway Days celebration honoring the Nobel Prize-winning author who lived and wrote in Key West from 1931 until late 1939. Hemingway’s home in the city, where he wrote the novels “To Have and Have Not” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” is now a museum.

The festival also includes a short story competition directed by Ernest’s granddaughter, Lorian Hemingway, and a spoof on the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. It ended Sunday with an arm wrestling contest at Sloppy Joe’s.

MORE NEWS FROM THE KEYS — MARRIAGE FORMS CHANGED FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES via the Associated Press

Marriage-license forms in the Florida Keys have been changed to accommodate same-sex couples, even though a judge’s ruling that gays can marry in Monroe County has been stayed pending a state appeal.

Since Judge Luis M. Garcia ruled, siding with same-sex couples in the Keys who challenged Florida’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage as discriminatory, the county clerk’s office has been inundated with calls from people making plans to fly to Key West for their weddings, said Ron Saunders, the attorney for the clerk’s office.

The clerk’s office changed its forms even though Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi’s appeal created an automatic stay preventing any same-sex marriage licenses from being issued.

“The current vows say ‘husband and wife,’ and we changed them to ‘first spouse, second spouse,'” Saunders told The Miami Herald. “But with the stay, we are now in limbo.”

Bondi said the voters’ will must be respected. An overwhelming majority in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union solely between one man and one woman.

The bartenders who sued Monroe County Clerk of Court Amy Heavilin for refusing them a marriage license in April, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, celebrated Garcia’s ruling and are considering what to do next, said their attorney, Bernadette Restivo. They could wait until the appeals process is over or they could ask Garcia to lift the automatic stay.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: CORRINE BROWN, KEY WEST VENUES, CHARLIE CRIST AND THE ISRAELI PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

On Context Florida: What is good for U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown is not necessarily good for Florida voters, black or white, writes Andrew Skerritt. District Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia pulled the first thread that will unravel the Florida straightjacket prohibiting marriage equality, says Linda Cunningham, which is why you had better book that Key West venue now. Charlie Crist’s campaign is in trouble and Jamie Miller notes that his pick for lieutenant governor is further proof. Rachel Patron was a guest at the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s benefit concert at the Annenberg Auditorium in Beverly Hills. Concert planners had never envisaged that war in Israel would be raging while their national orchestra played in the luxury of Beverly Hills.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to William Large of the Florida Justice Reform Institute. Celebrating today is Rep. Gayle Harrell.

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.