Sunburn for 7/23 – 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 1904, the world was introduced to the ice cream cone, at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Grateful Floridians know that with our summer temperatures, an ice cream cone is the perfect tasty treat to help cool off.

Now, on to the ‘burn…


A federal appeals court delivered a serious setback to President Barack Obama’s health care law, potentially derailing billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

In a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a group of small business owners argued that the law authorizes subsidies only for people who buy insurance through markets established by the states – not by the federal government.

A divided court agreed in a 2-1 decision that could mean premium increases for more than half the 8 million Americans who have purchased taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the law. The ruling affects consumers who bought coverage in the 36 states served by the federal insurance marketplace, or exchange.

The administration is expected to appeal the ruling.

The case revolves around four words in the Affordable Care Act, which says the tax credits are available to people who enroll through an exchange “established by the state.”

A lower court had ruled that the law’s text, structure, purpose, and legislative history make “clear that Congress intended to make premium tax credits available on both state-run and federally-facilitated Exchanges.”

But the appeals court concluded the opposite – that the letter of the law “unambiguously restricts” the law’s subsidies to policies sold through exchanges established by the state.


President Obama averaged 43.2 percent job approval during his 22nd quarter in office, from April 20 through July 19. That is a minimal increase from the prior quarter’s 42.4 percent average, but still ranks among the lowest for Obama to date. … Obama’s 22nd quarter was largely characterized by remarkable stability in his job ratings, which ranged narrowly between 43 percent and 45 percent each week throughout April and May into early June.


A new Rasmussen survey finds that 23 percent of Americans still believe that President Obama is not an American citizen, with another 17 percent who aren’t sure. However, 60 percent reject that theory as false.

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MONEY GAP: WHY DON’T WOMEN GIVE? via Anna Palmer and Tarini Parti of POLITICO

For all the progress women have made in Congress and in elections, they are practically sitting out the new game that is redefining American politics: big money. It’s not that women want to leave it to men like Sheldon Adelson and Tom Steyer to sidle up to the table to shape important races … Rather, many fundraisers are learning that successfully collecting cash from women takes a different approach than doing so from men.

[M]ore than a dozen fundraisers, donors and political consultants said that when they reach out to women, they bump up against deep cultural, strategic and logistical challenges that contrast markedly with how money has always been extracted from men.

Wooing women takes more of a personal touch. They want more of a relationship with the candidate and a better understanding of where their donations are going. Many women are motivated by solicitations about ‘women’s issues’ like abortion or breast cancer research, but often women are turned off by not hearing about other issues, like the economy or health care.

Women expect to attend the same events as their male counterparts, not teas or ‘women’s events.’ Yet even as they identify more effective ways to woo female donors, fundraisers have a long way to go.

The top 20 male donors gave a combined $62.6 million so far this cycle. That’s nearly six times the $11.2 million that top female donors contributed over the same time period, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of contributions made through July 10 to federal candidates and committees that disclose their donors. … ‘I’m trying to change the numbers,’ said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand said she believes men dominate the political money scene because they continue to be more involved in politics across the board than women. While there are more female elected officials than ever before, men make up nearly 82 percent of members of Congress, for example.

Heather Podesta, a major Democratic donor and founder of one of the top Washington lobbying firms Heather Podesta + Partners, said that she’s been able to grow as a fundraiser as part of her political and professional life. Podesta wrote her first political check to Rep. Chris Van Hollen in 2002. Since then, she has written checks to dozens of politicians and started asking her network in 2004 to contribute to then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, for whom she raised $100,000.  Only five of the top 20 female donors gave to the GOP.

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QPOLL ON GOVERNOR’S RACE Poll results will be available here at 6:30 a.m.

After its earlier polls showed Crist with a hefty lead over Gov. Scott, Quinnipiac University is releasing an updated poll about this year’s gubernatorial race.

The Connecticut-based university frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states, and its results typically draw heavy attention. A Quinnipiac poll released in April showed Crist leading Scott by a margin of 48 percent to 38 percent. But Scott and his supporters have spent millions of dollars on television ads in recent months to try to boost the incumbent and attack Crist, who served as a Republican governor before becoming an independent and then a Democrat.


Crist dominated the news cycle last week by naming Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo-Goldstein as his running mate, in a move that seems to be resonating with likely Florida voters.

In the most recent WFLA-TV/SurveyUSA tracking poll, the former governor is now leading Rick Scott by six points, with a 46-40 percent margin. Two weeks ago, Crist was trailing Scott by two points.

CSurveyUSA found that since April 15, Crist has led in five separate surveys, but not by as much as he did in the latest polling. Scott has led in three of eight tracking polls but never by more than two points.

Compared to a similar survey taken two weeks ago, Crist now leads over Scott with women by 10 percent, a gain of seven points; he also ties with men, gaining seven points.

Among moderates, a valuable demographic for Democrats, Crist now leads by 22 points, up from 13 points two weeks ago. Scott and Crist effectively tie with independents, a 10-point upturn for Crist poll-on-poll.

Crist received 82 percent of Democrats overall and 16 percent of Republicans; Scott took 73 percent of Republican Party voters, and only 9 percent or Democrats. Only 5 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats say they are undecided.


Crist says he can’t raise nearly as much money as Gov. Scott, but he can close the gap thanks to a big subsidy from Florida taxpayers.

Crist soon will get his first infusion of millions in campaign cash under the state’s public campaign financing program, created to help low-budget candidates counter big-money opponents as long as they abide by a self-imposed spending cap of about $25 million.

Candidates for governor and three Cabinet offices who agree to limit spending by their own campaigns are eligible for matching money. The state matches contributions of $250 or less from Florida residents, and Crist has far more small donors than Scott.

Crist says more than 30,000 people have donated $100 or less to his campaign. Larger donations are also matched up to $250 each.

The first checks will go out Friday, but the Division of Elections said Crist won’t get any money because he hasn’t filed the necessary paperwork, which his campaign said is extensive.

Crist’s campaign expects its first matching check to arrive Aug. 1 and be in the range of $1 million.

Scott opposes public financing, and in his 2010 race, paid for mostly with his own money, he said it was wrong for taxpayers to pay for campaigns when the state desperately needed money. He also won a federal suit that blocked opponent Bill McCollum from getting a dollar-for-dollar match if Scott exceeded the spending cap.


Crist is expected to raise money at two events in Sarasota. Clasico Cafe and Bar, 1341 Main St., 5 p.m. The Francis, 289 North Palm Ave., 6 p.m.


Until Crist and gay marriage changed the narrative, Gov. Scott was getting a buzz saw of negative publicity about the way he handles questions from the press.

As in Scott never directly answers them.

Let’s set aside the fact that many politicians, including Crist, avoid answering questions directly (with the possible exception of former Gov. Jeb Bush as correctly noted by Aaron Deslatte with the Orlando Sentinel.)

Back in 2010 when Scott — the “outsider” and a Tea Party favorite — was on the trail, the main campaign fear was a non-stop barrage of questions about Scott’s record with Columbia/HCA. So he avoided editorial boards, was careful about his interactions with the press, and talked about jobs, jobs, jobs.

The problem was that as a person who did not have a lot of political street smarts prior to getting elected, Scott and his team quickly realized that a handful of misstatements, gaffes, whatever would start to burn out of control (Anthropology majors, disappearing dogs, interactions with the King of Spain etc. etc.)

GOV. SCOTT ADDS MACHINERY SALES TAX CUT TO PLATFORM via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

Gov. Scott wants to make permanent the temporary lifting of a sales tax on the purchase of manufacturing machinery, a tax cut he also pushed last year.

As part of Scott’s latest campaign lap across Florida, in what has been dubbed his “Jobs for the Next Generation” tour, the governor has added the elimination of the sales tax on machinery to his re-election platform.

Removing the tax from certain machinery was one of Scott’s two priorities in the 2013 legislative session, promoted as part of his effort to cajole companies to move to Florida and to help those already here add workers.

Scott last year requested a permanent tax cut for the machinery. Instead he had to wait until the final week of the legislative session before getting lawmakers to include a three-year temporary cut as part of a larger economic-incentives package.

The temporary exemption was projected to save manufacturers about $140 million a year when signed into law last year. Scott’s campaign expects the savings would continue at that projected amount when the sales tax is eliminated.

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Going by the headlines U.S. Rep. Jolly made yesterday with his comments in support of same-sex marriage, one could almost assume that the Pinellas Republican is staking out new ground with his position.

Jolly insists that is not the case.

In an exclusive interview, Congressman Jolly says he didn’t realize what he said was newsworthy.

“I was surprised this made the national news,” Jolly said.

Whether Jolly is playing coy or just being humble about his place in the world, his comments are lighting up social media.

“Republican David Jolly (Fla.) announces support for gay marriage” reads the headline of the story written by the Washington Post‘s Sean Sullivan, who covered Jolly during his campaign for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Jolly, when asked by the Post if he supports gay marriage after a Florida judge overturned the state’s ban, said that his personal views on marriage are that it should be limited to one man and one woman. But, he added, states should not be defining the “sanctity” of marriage.

From there, the story quickly went viral. And in almost every article, blog post, story, and tweet, Jolly is portrayed as “coming out” for gay marriage.

Jolly says he’s been supportive of same-sex marriage all along. And not since his campaign, but from his days at law school.

“I can tell you exactly where my thinking began to change,” said Jolly. “It was my constitutional law class in 1998. That began a year of soul-searching on this issue.”

Jolly’s position on same-sex marriage, he insists, “is not an evolution.”

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‘HURRICANE TAX’ ON INSURANCE POLICIES TO END 18 MONTHS EARLY via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

An extra charge on property-insurance and auto-insurance policies to cover claims paid for the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons will end Jan. 1.

The Office of Insurance Regulation formally issued orders for insurance companies to move up by 18 months the end of a 1.3 percent “emergency assessment” for the state-run Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides backup coverage to insurers.

The assessment has hit policyholders for $2.9 billion, which has gone to reimburse insurance companies for claims from the eight hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 and 2005, the last time a hurricane made landfall in Florida.

The orders make official a decision Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet made last month to end the assessment, Amy Bogner, a spokesperson for the Office of Insurance Regulation, said in an email.

The assessment, which first appeared at 1 percent in 2007 and was raised to the current rate in 2011, collectively hits policyholders for between $350 million and $500 million a year.

In addition to the state’s near-decade luck at avoiding hurricanes, the early termination is due to claims for Hurricane Wilma coming in $498 million less than what had initially been thought. Wilma hit South Florida in October 2005.


U.S. orange-juice retail sales fell to the lowest level on record as consumers continue to turn away from the breakfast beverage. U.S. consumers bought 36.11 million gallons of orange juice in the four weeks ended July 5, down 8.3 percent from a similar period a year ago, according to Nielsen data published by the Florida Department of Citrus and reported in the Wall Street Journal.

It was the lowest level of total sales since the four weeks ended Jan. 19, 2002, the oldest data available. Analysts and traders cite the growing competition for orange juice from more exotic fruit juices such as açai, energy drinks and flavored waters.

Higher retail prices for the beverage also discouraged consumers, rising to a four-week average of $6.42 a gallon, a new record and up 3.8 percent from a year ago. The higher price reflects a smaller U.S. crop hurt by a bacterial “greening” disease that chokes off nutrients to oranges and causes the fruit to drop from trees prematurely.


A second workshop on Florida’s new medical marijuana law is scheduled for Aug. 1 in Tallahassee. Linda McMullen, director of the state’s Office of Compassionate Use, expects a draft rule to be ready for release by the end of this week.

The Department of Health is developing a regulatory structure for a Charlotte’s Web law signed into law by Gov. Scott in June. The measure allows doctors to authorize the use of a cannabis extract to treat certain patients. Starting in January, doctors will be allowed to order for patients a strain of marijuana high in a cannabadiol that supporters say helps manage pain and seizures.

The measure approved by the Legislature allows five growing and distribution centers. Growers have to have been in operation for at least 30 years and capable of growing at least 400,000 plants. The State Department of Agriculture says 46 nurseries qualify for a license.

The Aug. 1 rules workshop will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Betty Easley Conference Center in Tallahassee.


Sen. Jeff Clemens and Rep. Dave Kerner are expected to appear at the Lake Worth West Democratic Club to discuss a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. American Polish Club, 4725 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth. 7:30 p.m.


Volunteer Florida concludes its annual Commission Meeting and Foundation Board Meeting today in Miami. David Lawrence, Jr., former Miami Herald publisher and Chair of the Children’s Movement of Florida, addressed commissioners and Foundation Board members, followed by the Volunteer Florida Commission’s Annual Meeting. Today, VF Commissioners and Foundation Board members will visit the Peacemakers Family Center in Miami, followed by the Volunteer Florida Foundation Board’s Annual Meeting.

VF administers funding for Peacemakers Family Center. Administratively housed within the Executive Office of the Governor, VF Commissioners are Governor-appointed and Senate-confirmed.

The Volunteer Florida Foundation supports Governor’s Initiatives such as the Governor’s Veterans Service Awards, Shine Awards, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Black History Month.

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After a thorough screening process, the Florida Chamber of Commerce announced recommendations in several battleground primary races statewide.

For the upcoming Aug. 26 primaries, the Chamber announced 23 Florida House and six state Senate endorsements. Many of the selections were for hotly contested state House races: Panama City Republican Jay Trumbull in District 6; Orange County Republican Terri Seefeldt in District 31; Colleen Burton in Lakeland’s District 40; Democrat Ed Narain in East Tampa’s District 61; and Venice Republican Julio Gonzalez in District 74.

Among the incumbents given thumbs up by the Chamber are Republican Sens. John Thrasher, Thad Altman, Jack Latvala, Lizbeth Benacquisto and Joe Negron. Democrat Sen. Oscar Braynon also made the Chamber cut.

For the House, the Chamber is supporting first-time Republican candidates Chris Sprowls, Chris Latvala, Bill Young and incumbent Reps. Dane Eagle, Eric Eisnaugle, James Grant and Matt Caldwell, as well as the former GOP City of Longwood Mayor Bob Cortes.


State House candidate Colleen Burton responded today to what she calls “illegally placed television ads” produced by supporters of her Republican primary opponent.

Burton faces Lakeland attorney and Marine Corps veteran John Shannon in the Aug. 26 primary for House District 40, which covers much of metropolitan Lakeland and Polk County.

The ad in dispute began running on Bright House Networks July 18, with the disclaimer saying it is from an Electioneering Communication Organization (ECO) tied to Shannon’s consultant.

In the complaint, Burton cites Florida law which bans ECO ads of that type until 30 days prior to the election. She also intends to file a formal complaint with the Florida Elections Commission.

The ad claims that Burton supported a tax increase while she was an employee of Polk Vision, a community partnership of organizations, businesses, government and individuals to promote countywide priorities.

“I’ve always been unequivocal about my support of low taxes even when times were hard during the recession,” she said.

“The attack is predictable, unethical and illegal,” Burton said. “You would think a career trial attorney would have known better.”


Richard DeNapoli denies the latest charges made by his Republican opponent in a combative House District 74 GOP primary that took another dark turn.

“In politics, the last gasps of a losing campaign are desperate, erratic, and false attacks,” DeNapoli said in an email on Monday. “Julio Gonzalez has hit rock bottom – and done it early.”

At issue is a new TV ad running in the south Sarasota County region of Osprey, Venice and of North Port and Englewood, where Gonzalez, a Venice orthopedic surgeon, took aim at the Nokomos Republican for his brief service in the United States Marine Corps.

DeNapoli, the 30-second spot says, focuses on a time the candidate served – for a short period – in the Marines. A serious injury sidelined his desire to serve in the military.

To support Gonzalez’s assertion is an email distributed in 2010 by A-Jay Eddy of the Gay Activist Log Cabin Republicans of Broward County, as well as an excerpt of a letter addressed to the Broward Republican Executive Committee.

A press release from Gonzalez on Monday, titled “Stolen Valor,” takes the claim to task, by pointing out DeNapoli actually attended in 2002 what is otherwise known as a “US Marines Mini-Officer Candidates School,” a three-day camp to give prospective Marines a taste of training in the Corps.

In his response, DeNapoli makes it very clear about his short-lived service in the USMC.

“The truth is, I did,” he says, “but was given an Entry Level Separation (ELS) due to serious injury. I wish things had been different.”

“To call such service ‘Stolen Valor,’ as Julio desperately does, is offensive, untrue, and beyond the pale,” DeNapoli adds.


>>>State Senator Joe Negron’s re-election has been endorsed by the NRA.

>>>HD 15 candidate Paul Renner won a straw poll of the First Coast Tea Party. He faces Jay Fant on August 26.

>>>HD 59 candidate Donna Lee Fore has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

>>>House Republican incumbent James Grant has a new TV spot.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @KeithOlbermann: .@JoshuaBlack2014 you’re a Florida politician and you are claiming anybody ELSE is irrational? LOL

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Florida’s foremost political data analytics firm is “going mobile” — by teaming up with one of the state’s leading app development companies.

Contribution Link, the consulting house that specializes in data mining, research and campaign intelligence, has announced a strategic alliance with App Innovators, a creative agency focusing specifically on mobile devices.

Based in Tallahassee, App Innovators specializes in apps designed exclusively for member associations, industry trade groups, schools, restaurants, political campaigns and more. Since its founding in 2011, the firm has created hundreds of apps to connect voters and supporters with candidates through a variety of devices.


Brian Ballard, Michael Abrams, Chris Hansen, Sylvester Lukis, Ballard Partners: Keith St. Germain Nursery

Slater Bayliss, Sarah Busk, Chris Chaney, Stephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: TMG; TransPro Consulting, LLC

Ron Edwards: Aquafiber Technologies Corporation

Paul Lowell, Foley & Lardner: Caregiver Services, Inc

SPOTTED IN NYC:  Chris Dudley of Southern Strategy Group, (SSG), Mat Forester of Ballard Partners, and Kirk Pepper, Richard Reeves, and Alan Suskey of Capitol Insight. Talk about Kumbaya!

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On Context FloridaU.S. Rep. David Jolly believes in the radical notion that Congress should work. Congress should govern. And Congress should work more, not less. Adam Weinstein notes that last week, Rick Scott’s state surgeon general shot off an “urgent” letter to federal authorities expressing sweaty nervousness over the threat to “health and safety of Florida communities” posed by “those children from the border who may have come through the flawed federal system.” It was groundless. It was perplexing. For decades, America has suffered from a love-fest for the richest rich — and hot-air promises for the poor and middle class, writes Stephen Goldstein. To Ximena Bentancourt, Herbalife has been life changing — physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Now Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, is threatening what she – along with almost 55,000 other Floridians – have worked so hard to build.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to former State Representative and Senator, now Pinellas County Commissioner, Charlie Justice.

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.