Sunburn for 7/29 – 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 in history, the U.S. Congress passed legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA‘s strong presence in Florida established the Sunshine State’s historic role in the space race and solidified its place as an international departure point for space exploration and research.

Now, on to the ‘burn…

MOST DISAGREE WITH GOP’S LAWSUIT VS. PRESIDENT OBAMA

A new CNN poll finds that a majority of Americans oppose impeaching President Obama by 65 percent to 33 percent, and also oppose House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against the president by 57 percent to 41 percent.

In addition, a majority disagree by 52 percent to 45 percent that Obama has gone too far in expanding executive power.

CONGRESS SET TO LEAVE A FULL PLATE via Kristina Peterson of the Wall Street Journal

Congress loves a deadline. But this year, even that may not be enough.

With just a week left before the start of a five-week August recess, it is increasingly likely that Congress will wrap up for the summer having cobbled together only the bare minimum to keep the government functioning without addressing a list of expiring laws and a pileup of potential national crises.

The two chambers, for example, haven’t figured out how to respond to the surge of Central American families crossing the southern border. Lawmakers also had struggled over a bill aimed at mitigating mismanagement and long wait times at Veterans Affairs hospitals, though spokespersons for the top negotiators said that a deal had been reached.

Virtually no one expected Congress to enact any bold overhauls in the lead-up to November’s midterm election. Yet this year lawmakers appear to be punting even on issues that would appear to demand urgency.

Perhaps the most glaring stalemate is on the border bill. President Obama has asked for $3.7 billion to help care for the migrants and address their legal claims, but the two chambers, riven by policy disagreements, also diverge over how much funding to provide, with no compromise in sight.

DRIVING THE NAT’L CONVERSATION … MEDICARE HOSPITAL FUND TO LAST 4 YEARS LONGER via Stephen Ohlemacher and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press

Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, says the government. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

Meanwhile, Social Security’s massive retirement program will remain solvent until 2034, officials say, although disability benefits are in more immediate danger.

The disability trust fund now is projected to run dry in 2016, unless Congress acts. At that point, the program will collect enough payroll taxes to pay only 81 percent of benefits.

The trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare issued their annual report Monday on the financial health of the government’s two largest benefit programs.

The trustees project a 1.5 percent increase in monthly Social Security payments to beneficiaries for next year. That would be among the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in the 1970s. The increase is based on a government measure of inflation.

Medicare’s Part B monthly premium for outpatient care is expected to remain unchanged for next year, at $104.90. Average premiums for prescription coverage are expected to increase by less than $2 a month.

Social Security’s finances are relatively unchanged from a year ago. Medicare’s improved finances are largely due to a continuing slowdown in health care spending, the report said.

MEANWHILE … A TROUBLING STAT: Americans lost a third of their net worth in the last decade. The average family was worth $87,992 in 2003 and just $56,335 in 2013.

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GOP’S BLACK MARKET: ANTI-INCUMBENT CAMPAIGNS via Alexander Burns of POLITICO

The highest-profile Republican insurgents of 2014 have had a few things in common: They’ve all run against longtime incumbents whom they accused of going native in D.C. They’ve all relied on super PACs to buoy their campaigns.

And in three of the biggest primaries of the year, hard-right candidates have hired the same general consulting firm: Cold Spark Media, a small, Pittsburgh-based company led by former advisers to Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.

Not that long ago, consultants say, it might have been a professional death sentence to sign up with even one candidate targeting a veteran incumbent like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. These days, Cold Spark is only one of a limited but growing number of Republican firms that operate heavily in the black market of anti-incumbent campaigns.

The Pennsylvania company took in an eye-popping sum from the campaigns of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Idaho attorney Bryan Smith and Kentucky investment manager Matt Bevin. Hopping from one anti-incumbent race to the next, the firm collected a total of $2.4 million for services including ad production, digital strategy and data analysis.

Thanks to an explosion of outsider Republicans running for office and the Supreme Court’s loosening of campaign finance rules, the economics of political consulting have shifted. Suddenly, there’s enough anti-incumbent work to sustain not just a skeleton crew of mercenary consultants, but a full-fledged cottage industry of ideological renegades — interlocking firms that pop up in one divisive primary after another, often working together or for different entities in the same race.

That makes it harder than ever for party leaders to stamp out internal challenges or deter strategists from taking on sitting officials by cutting them off from the elected officials and party committees on which so many firms depend.

STAT DU JOUR: [M]ore political ads from outside groups have already aired during the relatively slow summer period of the 2014 Senate contests – roughly 150,000 spots through mid-July – than ran throughout the entire 2010 Senate elections.

CARLOS CURBELO RELEASES “KEYS FIRST” AD FEATURING ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN ENDORSEMENT Full blog post here

Republican candidate Carlos Curbelo released his third television ad – this one featuring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — in his bid for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

Curbelo, a 34-year-old Miami-Dade School Board member, is a favorite Republican to unseat incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia in the race for the district covering southwestern Miami-Dade County and all of Monroe County.

In the 30-second spot, “Keys First,” Ros-Lehtinen endorses Curbelo by calling him “part of the next generation who will work to protect our natural wonders, our fishermen, and our economy.”

“I often reminisce about my time representing the Florida Keys,” she says. “From fair insurance rates to wastewater, we shared many successes. You deserve a Congressman that will put you first again. And you can have that soon.”

GWEN GRAHAM’S “WORK DAYS” ARE A TRUE FAMILY TRADITION Full blog post here

For congressional candidate Gwen Graham, “Work Days” have become a true family tradition.

Two new TV ads released on Monday highlight the Tallahassee Democrat’s longstanding custom of spending a full work shift with ordinary citizens in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District — a family tradition taken directly from the successful campaigns of her father, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

The 30-second spots, called “Tradition” and “Hard Work,” are the first in the campaign that feature the senior Graham. Together, the ads debuted on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, who said, “Both parties agree [Graham] is the top 2014 recruit.”

Tradition and Hard Work will run in the Tallahassee and Panama City markets, and are available on YouTube.

“A Graham Workday is a full day of hard work with Floridians,” says Bob Graham. “I worked in all kinds of jobs that put me in direct contact with real people who were affected by what you do.”

Timed with the release of the ads this week is the launch of the Graham family “Grilling with the Grahams” tour, an eight-day, 14-county campaign swing through CD 2, capped by her 13th Work Day, the first joint event with Graham and her father.

Graham faces incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland for the expansive district covering the eastern part of the Florida Panhandle, much of the Big Bend region along the Emerald Coast, and both the state capital of Tallahassee and parts of Panama City.

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>>>ASSOCIATED BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS OF FLORIDA ENDORSE RICK SCOTT

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: A press release from Charlie Crist’s campaign promises a “major policy announcement” today. Enoch Davis Center – Module 16-A, 1111 18th Ave S., St. Petersburg. 9:30 a.m.

CHARLIE CRIST AND RICK SCOTT MAY BE LEAST-LIKED PAIR OF CANDIDATES IN ANY GOV.’S RACE IN PAST 10 YEARS via FiveThirtyEight.com

… Both Crist and Scott hold negative net favorable ratings (the percentage of people with a favorable view minus the percentage with a negative view). No other gubernatorial campaign in the country currently features such bipartisan disdain. Thirteen races for governor have had at least one live interview poll that asked about candidate images since the beginning of May. Among the candidates in those races, the average net favorable rating is just over +10 percentage points, compared to the -4 points in Florida.

… Besides Florida, only Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election is close to featuring two candidates with net negative favorable ratings. But even in Wisconsin, Democrat Mary Burke is at +2.

Indeed, Florida is an outlier even if we include the past several election cycles. I gathered favorable and unfavorable ratings in every gubernatorial race from the past 10 years in which at least one live interviewer poll was released within three weeks of the election. Out of 109 races, 54 gubernatorial elections since 2005 met this criteria (see the table at the end of this article).

The average net favorable rating for Democratic and Republican candidates in this data set was just over +11 percentage points. Among 108 candidates, 72 tested had a net positive favorable rating.

It’s rare for both gubernatorial candidates to finish the campaign season with a negative net favorable rating — in fact, it’s only happened twice. … One of those elections involved the now-disgraced Rod Blagojevich.

GOOGLE TRENDS ON CRIST VS. SCOTT

Perhaps not surprising for an incumbent governor, search engine activity has been more active for Rick Scott than for Charlie Crist over the past year, excepting for July 2013 when the former Republican-turned Independent-turned Democrat announced his candidacy. Google Trends offers a little more insight, as well, on where in Florida people have searched for information on each candidate.

Crist’s “interest map” lights up heavily along the I-4 corridor, most strongly in his hometown Bay Area, as well as the Melbourne and Daytona area, and in Miami. Comparably, interest in Scott is by far the hottest in Tallahassee, followed more dimly in the Bay Area, Orlando, Miami and Palm Beach. So while Google activity regarding Scott is overall higher than that for Crist, perhaps the geography of those interested in Crist offers this challenger a greater advantage overall.

CRIST LEADS NAN RICH 68% TO 20%; GEORGE SHELDON, PERRY THURSTON DEADLOCKED Full blog post here

Gravis Marketing’s new poll of Florida’s Democratic Primary finds that Crist is the clear favorite to be the Democratic nominee for governor.

The poll shows Crist leading his primary opponent Nan Rich, 68 to 20 percent.

Unless Crist makes some serious mistakes between now and the primary,  he has this race locked up.

Unlike the gubernatorial race, the race to be the Attorney General nominee for the Democrats is up in the air.

Two-thirds of the respondents were uncertain of who they were voting for in the primary, but of the third that were certain George Sheldon led Perry Thurston 18 percent to 15 percent. “The race is a clear tossup,” said Doug Kaplan, the head of Gravis Marketing, “with a whopping two-thirds of the respondents unsure of who to vote for the race is clearly up for grabs.”

AFTER MONTHS OF HAVING HER BACK, STATE GOP STARTS TAKING SHOTS AT NAN RICH via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

For months, the Republican Party of Florida has been one of Rich’s biggest cheerleaders, slamming likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist for not debating Rich, who is a former Senate minority leader.

On the party’s web page, there is a section where visitors can “make their voice heard” and “Demand Crist do the right thing! Debate Nan Rich!”

The state GOP wasn’t fawning over Rich’s policy positions or campaign. The party was hoping that Crist could have a gaffe during a debate that they could later use against him. Getting him on stage with a lifelong Democrat would also provide ample opportunity for Crist, a former Republican governor, to be cast as a flip-flopper.

In recent weeks, though, the Republican Party of Florida has started taking shots at Rich rather than having her back.

The most recent is critical of Rich saying that both Crist and Scott “supported vast expansion of vouchers that’s using public dollars for private schools.” For Republicans, a comment like that equates to being “anti-school choice.”

“By opposing education choice Nan Rich wants to turn back the clock to the days where parents were left with no options if their child was not receiving the education they deserve,” wrote RPOF Chair Leslie Dougher in a statement.

>>>Sheldon is expected to raise money during a reception near the Capitol. 101 Restaurant, 215 West College Ave., Tallahassee. 5:30 p.m.

RPOF LAUNCHES NEW AD HITTING CHARLIE CRIST ON JOBS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a new TV ad on Monday, contrasting Gov. Scott’s record on jobs to Crist’s. Despite having spent most of his life in the GOP, Crist is the favorite to win the Democratic primary next month to challenge Scott in November. The ad showcases Floridians weighing in on job creation under Scott and Crist.

“Rick Scott’s singular focus on getting Floridians back to work has resulted in the creation of over 620,000 private-sector jobs and an economy that is one of the nation’s leading job creators,” said Leslie Dougher, the chair of the RPOF. “In contrast, four years ago Charlie Crist ran away and left Florida’s economy a complete mess. The choice is clear: we can’t go back.”

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THE BLOODSHED STATE via Mark Joseph Stern of Slate.com

Earlier this year, a Lake Worth, Florida, resident left his loaded gun sitting out on a table by the front door while he dressed for work. He heard a loud noise and ran into the hallway, where he discovered his daughter lying in a pool of blood with a bullet hole through her head. She was 3 years old. After her death from the accidental, self-inflicted gunshot, a neighbor told reporters he was stunned, claiming: “This kind of stuff doesn’t happen here.”

But this kind of stuff does happen in Florida—far more often than you’d think. In 2013 alone, at least 17 children in the state were killed by guns, and myriad more were wounded. These tragedies are part of a spiraling, nationwide epidemic of gun violence toward children, which includes a horrifyingly high number of absolutely preventable accidental shootings. A responsible state would pass and enforce gun safety laws to keep firearms away from children. But Florida did the opposite: The state passed a law gagging doctors from asking patients about guns, effectively preventing doctors from sharing safety tips to keep those guns out of children’s hands.

The gag law, nicknamed the Docs vs. Glocks law by its detractors, was passed by an overwhelmingly Republican Legislature brimming over with money from NRA lobbyists. It would seem to be an obvious First Amendment violation: For asking a patient a question that could save his child’s life, a doctor in Florida could lose her medical license or be fined $10,000. The state has no rational—let alone compelling—interest in censoring doctors from asking this basic question, much less preventing doctors from making evidence-based recommendations about public health and safety. And the law is so broad and vague that even an indirect inquiry could potentially qualify as illegal “harassment of a patient regarding firearm ownership.”

My home state was once a bastion of moderate pragmatism; today, it’s a laboratory of legalized violence.

I left Florida before this revolution began, and I used to think I might move back one day. Not any more. A state where black kids can be legally shot down, where pediatricians cannot even encourage their patients to lock up their guns—this is no place to raise children and have a family. For a while, Florida’s combination of weird news and reactionary politics made it the laughingstock of the nation. But the laughing has stopped now. And what’s left in its wake is the dreadful realization that, in their effort to turn the state into a far-right paradise, Republicans have created a hell on earth.

DOCTORS, GUN-CONTROL GROUPS TO APPEAL ‘DOCS VS. GLOCKS’ RULING Full blog post here

Doctors and gun-control advocates say they will file an appeal of a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Florida’s controversial 2011 “docs vs. glocks” law.

The three-judge panel, in a 2-1 decision last week, found the Florida Legislature had the right to pass the law restricting doctors and other medical providers from asking about gun ownership during medical visits.

Announcing an appeal on Monday is the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the group aiding Florida doctors in fighting the law.

“If the appellate court’s decision is allowed to stand, the corporate gun lobby and its political cronies will be given license to silence the medical community from speaking the truth to patients about the real risks of guns in the home, and any powerful industry will be able to dictate whether families get complete, honest information about the dangers posed by its products,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center Legal Action Project.

FMA SUPPORTS MEDICAID EXPANSION via Carol Gentry of Health News Florida

The Florida Medical Association’s House of Delegates overwhelmingly adopted a resolution supporting Medicaid expansion to cover uninsured low-income adults at FMA’s annual meeting, according  to doctors who were there.

FMA, which closes its annual meeting to the media, is expected to issue a news release at some point, offering details on the resolution. Part of the measure reportedly urged better pay for physicians who treat Medicaid patients.

Medicaid expansion, an optional part of the Affordable Care Act, would cover approximately 800,000 Floridians who have too little income to qualify for traditional Medicaid in Florida or for subsidies on the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace. The health law makes money available to the states for that purpose — 100 percent funding through 2016, then tapering to 90 percent after 2020.

Health economists have estimated that $51 billion in federal money was available to Florida over a 10-year period for Medicaid expansion beginning in January 2014. But each year of delay reduces the amount available.

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NEW POLL, NEARLY 9 IN 10 FLORIDIANS BACK MEDICAL MARIJUANA via PoliticsofPot

Florida voters support legalized marijuana for medical use 88 percent to 10 percent, with support ranging from 83 – 14 percent among voters over 65 years old to 95 – 5 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

The lowest level of support is 80 – 19 percent among Republicans, the poll finds.

Florida voters also support 55 – 41 percent “allowing adults in Florida to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use,” or so-called “recreational marijuana.” There is a wide gender gap and an even wider age gap: Men back recreational marijuana 61 – 36 percent while women back it by a narrow 49 – 45 percent. Voters 18 to 29 years old are ready to roll 72 – 25, while voters over 65 years old are opposed 59 – 36 percent. Support is 64 – 32 percent among Democrats and 55 – 40 percent among independent voters, with Republicans opposed 56 – 41 percent.

“Even though a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, on the ballot this November, must meet a 60 percent threshold, these numbers make a strong bet the referendum is likely to pass,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

If medical marijuana is legalized in Florida, voters say 71 – 26 percent they would support having a marijuana dispensary in the town or city where they live. Support ranges from 57 – 37 percent among voters over 65 years old to 79 – 21 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old.

The gender and age gaps persist as 44 percent of Florida voters say they have tried marijuana. That includes 51 percent of men, 39 percent of women, 48 percent of voters 18 to 29 years old and 23 percent of voters over 65 years old. “No ‘Not in My Backyard’ mentality here. By an almost 3-1 majority, Florida voters would allow a medical marijuana dispensary near where they live,” Brown said.

From July 17 – 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,251 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

TWEET, TWEET: @hymnforrachel: Did Q poll purposely not ask about FL’s Amdt 2 and just go straight to opinion on medical marijuana? That’s a pretty dumb poll otherwise.

HOW THE Q-POLL POT SURVEY PLAYED

Jacksonville Business Journal, Florida backs medical marijuana 9-1, Quinnipiac Poll Finds – … Forget the stereotypes of stodgy old folks living out their golden years playing canasta and golf. News 13 OrlandoFlorida voters approve of medical marijuana – Support for legalized medical marijuana remained strong, regardless of party affiliation, gender or age … fifty-five percent of voters also approved recreational marijuana use. Huffington PostA Majority of Florida Voters Support Legalizing Recreational Marijuana – Florida … lags behind the likes of Colorado and Washington state, where both medical and recreational use has been legalized. Miami Herald,Will Joe Six-Pack become Joe Dime Bag? – … don’t go renaming them “Jill or Joe Dime Bag” just yet … a minority of Florida voters say they’ve used pot. Washington PostFlorida voters back medical marijuana 9 to 1 – … support for medical marijuana was lowest among Republicans, 80 percent of whom support legalization with 19 percent opposing. POLITICOFlorida poll: Most back legal marijuana – … another positive measure for the legalization movement, which has had some recent momentum. Creative Loafing TampaNew poll shows 55 percent of Floridians want pot legalized for everyone – … the reality is that the measure does look likely to pass, but by what margin is up for grabs.

AMENDMENT 2 FOES PUSH BACK AGAINST MEDICAL MARIJUANA POLL via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

The Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot coalition claimed there were “flaws in the misleading Quinnipiac poll.”

The coalition released the following statement: “Sadly, the Quinnipiac poll released today continues to poll Floridians with general questions that they are more likely to support. The poll fails at its one job: to ask about Florida’s actual Amendment 2. This poll simply does not address the realities of this dangerous amendment.

“Floridians will not be voting on whether their physician can prescribe marijuana. This amendment would allow storefront docs (similar to pot docs), with no relationship to patients, to simply recommend pot to anyone with even a slight ache. The poll also asks if people are OK with “a” dispensary in their community, yet Amendment 2 would allow unlimited pot shops in communities. The Department of Health estimates there will be close to 1,800 of these shops statewide. Clearly this poll had little to do with what Floridians will vote on in November.

“The language of the amendment is broad and raises major concerns related to public safety. Floridians cannot be expected to support something that is incomplete, flawed and dangerous.”

MARIJUANA TREATMENT IN CHARLOTTE’S WEB LAW COULD FACE LONG DELAY via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News

Florida’s new medical marijuana law might have run into an obstacle too great to help sick children as quickly as the Legislature intended or families who had urged the bill now expect.

When the second day-long workshop on the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” convenes, legislators, lobbyists, affected families and other interested parties are likely to discover that the University of Florida — the hoped-for $1 million recipient and research component called for in the bill — is out of the mix.

Mary Ann Gosa-Hooks, director of government affairs for UF/IFAS Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, told Sunshine State News, “We’ve had attorneys at UF and in Washington, D.C., look at this law, and as much as we want to participate fully, UF receives hundreds of millions of dollars in student financial aid and grants for other work and we just can’t risk it by going against the Drug Enforcement Agency or the Food and Drug Administration.”

Research by Florida universities, particularly UF, was a prime incentive for many legislators who voted for the bill.

Gosa-Hooks presented a long list of hoops she says the university would have to jump through — all obstacles legislators were trying to respect but overcome when the landmark Senate Bill 1030, nicknamed Charlotte’s Web, became law. The bill Gov. Scott signed June 16 legalizes the use of a non-euphoric strain of marijuana to treat conditions such as epilepsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and cancer.

In a clarifying letter, Gosa-Hooks said, “The university may possess and conduct research on marijuana if the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approves a registration and the institution complies with the robust restrictions imposed by the registration.”

The second rules workshop — at the Betty Easley Conference Center in the Southwood subdivision of Tallahassee — likely will be televised on The Florida Channel, as the first one was.

CLAIMS BILL FILED FOR $6.87M SETTLEMENT IN OFF-DUTY OFFICER’S DEATH Full blog post here

State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla filed a claim bill on Monday to require Pasco County to pay more than $6.87 million to the family of an off-duty Tampa police officer killed in a collision with a county vehicle.

The Miami Republican filed SB 36, stemming from the May 2008 death of Victor Guerrero, a 20-year veteran Tampa police officer.

While riding a motorcycle on U.S. 41, Guerrero was struck by a truck driven by a Pasco County employee that turned into his path.

A lawsuit followed Guerrero’s death, leading to a jury verdict awarding Guerrero’s family $7,060,614 plus interest.

The bill calls on Pasco County to pay $6,873,838; the county had already given $186,776. Florida’s sovereign-immunity laws often limit the amounts of money government agencies, like counties, are required to pay in lawsuits.

Tallahassee lawmakers can pass claim bills for payments of larger amounts. Senators began filing claim bills for next year’s legislative session.

PIC DU JOUR Senator Jeff Brandes showcasing Audi’s autonomous vehicle technology in Tampa here.

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FMA PAC ENDORSES INCUMBENT OSCAR BRAYNON FOR SENATE DISTRICT 36

The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC), the leading advocate for electing pro-medicine candidates to office, endorsed State Sen. Oscar Braynon in his re-election bid for Florida Senate District 36.

“The Florida Medical Association is pleased to stand with Senator Oscar Braynon as he looks to reclaim his seat in Senate District 36,” said Dr. Ralph Nobo, President of the FMA PAC. “He has advocated for the residents in his community for more than a decade, and we look forward to working with him as we aim to improve Florida’s health care system.”

“I am extremely grateful to receive the endorsement from the Florida Medical Association, whose hardworking members are on the front lines of providing quality health care to citizens across our great state,” stated  Braynon. “I look forward to working with the FMA in the years to come and am honored to have their support.”

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PCI HITS D.C. FOR BRIEFING via POLITICO Influence

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America is hosting a Capitol Hill event today to discuss the role innovation and modern technology – and how it can affect safety on the roads.

The panel discussion, called “Do Smart Cars Equal Safer Roads,’ will bring together representatives from Progressive Insurance, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, KidsandCars.Org and others.

The briefing will be at noon in room 122 of the Cannon House Office Building.

WALL STREET SPENDING $1.5M A DAY ON LOBBYING, CAMPAIGNS via Benjamin Goad of The Hill

The financial sector has shelled out more than $800 million to influence Washington via lobbying and campaign spending in the current election cycle, according to a new report from Americans for Financial Reform.

That works out to roughly $1.5 million a day, a total on pace to eclipse Wall Street’s effort four years ago to beat back the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the left-leaning policy group said.

Dodd-Frank was ultimately enacted in July 2010, and the landmark statute turned 4 this week. But nearly half of hundreds of regulations required by the law remain incomplete, and battles persist over their final language.

“The industry’s continued high level of spending reflects the ongoing battle to reshape the financial system, and the industry’s persistent efforts to repeal or win exemptions from parts of the law, to weaken implementing regulations, and to forestall further proposals for change,” the group concluded in its 40-page report.

The study, based on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that roughly 62 percent of the political spending went to Republicans; 38 percent went to Democrats.

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: RICK SCOTT, SURPRISE LOSERS, FSU SHOOTING AND DOGS

On Context Florida: Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 re-election campaign manager and deputy manager issued a joint memo Sunday to “interested parties,” which Daniel Tilson notes was a plan to get a boldly self-congratulatory status update in front of as many eyes as possible. Peter Schorsch writes about a study finding that supporters who backed a “surprise loser” in an election often have less trust in government and democracy following the loss. Tallahassee was recently rocked by the high profile shooting of a Florida State law professor. Andrew Skerritt says that gun violence is not unique to Tallahassee. Over the years, Marc Yacht has had many dogs. They are pure spirits, he says. An occasional pet or scratch on the belly, and regular meals, will make a loyal friend for life. Dogs, they are family. They know how to make us love them and we do.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

FIND OUT #WHYJBFOLLOWS Marc Caputo here.

FLORIDA AMONG BEST STATES TO “BE FEMALE” 

When it comes to different labor, educational, legal and social conditions, Florida is among the best states to be female — and by far the best state in the South, according to a study released last week by the University of Connecticut.

The study looked at market conditions specific to women, including the gender pay gap, the prevalence of women in traditional female occupations, maternity leave provisions, and the cost of child care. The study also looked at educational attainment by women in each state, state approval of the equal rights amendment, levels of violence against women, sexual assault rates, fertility rates, and proportions of women in state legislative seats. With these factors and more included, the UConn study strongly favored northeastern and West Coast states; while Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi occupy the least favorable slots. Florida ranked well among the states, and comparably to Pennsylvania, Delaware, Illinois, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Nevada.

UPSETS IN POLITICS MAY HAVE WIDESPREAD CONSEQUENCES, NEW STUDY SAYS Full blog post here

While upsets in sports are generally enjoyed by the masses (some opponents included!) and provide excellent fodder for inspirational stories and movies, the same is not true in electoral contests — at least according to a new study out of the University of Georgia. To the contrary, the study finds that people who had back a “surprise loser” in an election often have less trust in government and democracy following the loss.

Barry Hollander, professor of journalism and mass communication, believes that this resulting skepticism and disappointment has far reaching consequences in American society, leading to the erosion of trust in the basic concept of democracy. Hollander sees media as playing a particularly strong role in this disillusioning process, and pegs Fox News as the most obvious culprit of late.

GAME OF THRONES CASTS KEY SEASON 5 CHARACTERS via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter

Alexander Siddig will play Doran Martell, the ruling lord of Dorne and the older brother to Oberyn. … Toby Sebastian will play Trystane Martell, Doran’s son and heir to Dorne. … Nell Tiger Free will play the young Baratheon (or should we say Lannister?), who hasn’t been seen onscreen since season two … DeObia Oparei is taking on the role of Areo Hotah, a trusted captain in Doran Martell’s palace guard. … We’ve also got Enzo Cilenti as Yezzan, who was a wealthy slaver before Daenerys outlawed the trade. Back in Dorne, Jessica Henwick will play Nymeria (‘Nym’) Sand, the second-eldest bastard daughter of the late Oberyn. Her mother was an Eastern noblewoman and raised Nym to be cultured. While Nym’s father liked spears, she prefers the whip.

IN REMEMBRANCE: Peter J. Schorsch, who would have been 73-years-old today. There isn’t a day that goes by without me missing my beloved father and friend. 

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.