Sunburn for 7/30 – 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 1956, “In God We Trust” was adopted as the official motto of the United States. The maxim came from the fourth stanza of The Star Spangled Banner, which includes the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.'” Eventually modern sensibilities took root, and now many a cash register displays a sign advising, “In God we trust … all others pay cash.”

Now, on to the burn …

AP POLL: IMMIGRATION CONCERNS RISE WITH TIDE OF KIDS via Christopher Sherman and Jennifer Agiesta of the Associated Press

For nearly two months, images of immigrant children who have crossed the border without a parent, only to wind up in concrete holding cells once in the United States, have tugged at heartstrings. Yet most Americans now say U.S. law should be changed so they can be sent home quickly, without a deportation hearing.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds two-thirds of Americans now say illegal immigration is a serious problem for the country, up 14 points since May and on par with concern about the issue in May 2010, when Arizona’s passage of a strict anti-immigration measure brought the issue to national prominence.

Nearly two-thirds, 62 percent, say immigration is an important issue for them personally, a figure that’s up 10 points since March. President Barack Obama’s approval rating for his handling of immigration dropped in the poll, with just 31 percent approving of his performance on the issue, down from 38 percent in May.

By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose the current process for handling unaccompanied minors crossing the border, which requires that those who are not from Mexico or Canada stay in the U.S. and receive a hearing before a judge before they can be deported. Changing the law to allow all children crossing illegally to be sent back without such a hearing drew support from 51 percent of those polled.

Obama’s proposal for emergency funding, in comparison, was favored by 32 percent and opposed by 38 percent.

The poll found that most people — 53 percent — believe the U.S. does not have a moral obligation to offer asylum to people fleeing violence or political persecution. And 52 percent say the children entering the U.S. illegally who say they are fleeing gang violence in Central America should not be treated as refugees.

CAN ANYONE STOP OBAMA ON IMMIGRATION? via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO

Even if President Barack Obama tests the bounds of his presidential power with the big, unilateral moves he’s promising on immigration, there may be no way to stop him. Lawyers are debating the legality of a series of immigration-related executive actions the White House is reportedly considering, but there’s broad agreement that suing the president isn’t likely to work. … Obama has signaled to immigrants’ rights advocates that he plans to take significant new executive actions next month … They could range from reordering the priority list of deportation cases to dramatically expanding the ‘deferred action’ program he initiated in 2012, which allows immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to apply for a two-year deportation reprieve.

WHAT’S BEHIND ALL THE IMPEACHMENT CHATTER? via Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan of POLITICO

Something very strange is happening on Capitol Hill. Democrats can’t talk enough about impeaching a president of their own party. And Republicans keep saying that there isn’t a chance they’ll give it a try. With just three days left until Congress recesses for the month of August, Democrats have successfully kept alive the idea that Speaker John Boehner is mulling impeaching President Barack Obama – an option the Ohio Republican insists he isn’t pursuing. It’s not enough that Boehner’s House is preparing to sue the president over his use of executive authority; Democrats are busily trying to craft a narrative that the president will shortly be on trial in the Capitol.

The tactic has brought big dollars into Democrats’ coffers, and it has kept Republican aides and lawmakers busy as they keep swatting down the idea whenever it sprouts up. ‘No, no, no, no,’ National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said emphatically when asked about the possibility of impeachment hearings or proceedings in the House against Obama. “Democrats are the ones talking about it, and they’re trying to fundraise off it.”

BABY BOOM: WHAT D.C. WAS DOING DURING GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN via Jessica Contrera of the Washington Post

No one liked the government shutdown, but apparently, it wasn’t without love. The kind of love that transpires when, say, you and your partner both don’t have to go to work. One week passes. Then two. You’re bored. You’re adults. You share a bed. And nine months later, there you are at a hospital that seems strangely overcrowded. ‘We keep getting asked, ‘What’s going on?’?’ said Sibley Memorial Hospital nurse Yulette Newman. ‘And we sit back and say, ‘Well, you’re in D.C. What was happening nine months ago?’?’ According to some local hospitals, one apparent aftereffect of the 16-day October furlough has made its way into maternity wards. At Sibley, for example, an average of 9.2 births occur daily. During the past month, that number has increased by three births, or 32.6 percent, per day.

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CRIST AND SCOTT DEBATE THE DEBATES via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

It’s always can’t-miss campaign coverage: that drab time of the slow-news summer months when the campaigns debate how often they will debate.

Yes, Gov. Scott … released a statement saying he would be glad to schedule three debates with either Crist or Nan Rich, and that they should face off against each other first for the right to get in the ring with him.

“The great thing about debates is that they allow candidates to discuss their vision and their plans directly with the voters,” Scott said in a statement. “The only other time I ran for office I participated in debates in both the primary and general elections.  Candidates who refuse to debate show a disdain for the voters and for their opponent. I look forward to a great exchange of ideas with either Charlie Crist or Nan Rich, whoever emerges from the primary in late August.”

Of course, Crist is the overwhelming favorite to come out of the Aug. 26 primary, and the Scott campaign has been running against him since last year.

Crist’s side responded that Scott was actually limiting debates, because his side has already accepted invitations for seven debates — just none of them with Rich.

“Rick Scott limiting debates to three is a disservice to voters, but not surprising considering his history of refusing to answer questions to avoid going to jail,” Crist said in his own statement. “I want to do more debates with the winner of the primary campaign. Let’s do a town hall-style debate so voters can ask Rick Scott or the Republican candidate directly why Rick Scott cut education by $1.3 billion, why his company defrauded seniors and paid a $1.7 billion fine, and why he cut Bright Futures scholarships in half.”

TWEET, TWEET: @AdamSmithTimes: Just not seeing why it makes any sense for @CharlieCrist to debate @senatornanrich. She had 2 yrs to show she’s viable and didn’t

CRIST UNVEILS DAY 1 PLAN … via The Associated Press

Crist vowed Tuesday that if he is elected, he will use his executive powers to target discrimination against gay and transgender employees and force state-hired contractors to pay employees at least $10.10 an hour.

The proposals from Crist, who is the top Democratic rival to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott, echo several steps taken at the federal level by President Barack Obama. They represent another effort by the former Republican to boost his credentials with Democratic voters.

“I’m talking about things we could do day one,” Crist said during a campaign event in his hometown. He was flanked by Watson Haynes, president of the Pinellas County Urban League, and Darden Rice, a St. Petersburg city councilwoman who is gay.

Crist promised that on his first day in office, he would sign five executive orders, including mandates for state agencies to require contractors to pay employees more.

Other executive orders would deal with public records, equal pay for women and discrimination. One would require state agencies, where legally possible, to use Florida-based businesses in contracts.

“Fundamental fairness to everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation,” Crist said. “If you’re Floridian … you get preference.”

RICK SCOTT ASKS ‘WHERE ARE THE JOBS?’ via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Scott’s campaign chairman, state Sen. John Thrasher, promptly blasted the plan for not creating jobs:

“Charlie Crist thinks he can win this election by doing his best Barack Obama impersonation – all talk and no action. And it’s telling that his new proposal includes no plans for job creation or education. Crist’s record speaks louder than any of his words: billions in tax hikes and double-digit tuition increases – as Florida was losing 832,000 jobs and 28,000 small businesses – was anything but ‘fair’ to the middle class.”

Historical context: those tax hikes and tuition increases were voted for by Scott’s running mate, Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Thrasher only began denouncing Crist’s job record after he left the GOP.

WHAT DO SCOTT AND JUSTIN BIEBER HAVE IN COMMON, ASKS AMERICAN BRIDGE Full blog post here

What does Justin Bieber and Gov. Scott have in common?

That is the question posed in the new digital video produced by the progressive watchdog group American Bridge 21st Century.

Rick Scott’s refusal to answer reporter questions have made national news, a “story line and a local joke,” they say.

“Even under oath,” according to American Bridge spokesperson Jesse Lehrich, “Scott seemed to take delight in providing non-answer after non-answer to simple, straightforward questions.”

The spot, which runs nearly two minutes, compares the TMZ video of Justin Bieber refusing to answer questions in a deposition with Scott doing essentially the same thing in his 1995 deposition in an anti-trust lawsuit against Columbia/HCA Health, Scott’s former company.

HCA was eventually fined a record $1.7 billion on charges of Medicare fraud.

Both videos feature both Scott and the teenage pop star saying “I don’t recall” or “I don’t know” repeatedly, in a side-by side contrast. Bieber even said he didn’t recall questions asked earlier in the deposition.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: Veteran journo @Bill_Cotterell reports for @TDOnline that AFSCME is kicking in $1 million to @CharlieCrist

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: All told, @CharlieCrist‘s political committee has raised $1,522,350 in just the last 5 days.

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA OPPONENTS’ MOST POWERFUL ARGUMENT IS AT ODDS WITH A MOUNTAIN OF RESEARCH via Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post

Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

But opponents still have one trick up their sleeves, and it’s proven to be a powerful and effective one: the notion that relaxed regulations on marijuana will lead to a rise in marijuana use among children and teens. Florida voters, for instance, will decide whether to legalize medical marijuana this November. Organizations opposing the measure have built their campaigns around fears about underage use.

The group Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot greets visitors to its Web site with a warning that medical marijuana will turn your child into a hoodie-wearing, pot-smoking thug.

Vote No On 2 features another hoodie-clad youngster on its home page, no doubt contemplating the depravity of his existence after using medical marijuana. Florida voters don’t seem to be buying any of this, though: Medical marijuana currently enjoys nearly 90 percent support in the state.

More to the point, the notion that medical marijuana leads to increased use among teenagers is flat-out wrong. A new study by economists Daniel Rees, Benjamin Hansen and D. Mark Anderson is the latest in a growing body of research showing no connection — none, zero, zilch — between the enactment of medical marijuana laws and underage use of the drug.

The authors examined marijuana trends in states that passed medical marijuana laws. They tracked self-reported pot use by high school students in the years leading up to and following the enactment of these laws. They conclude that the effects of medical marijuana on teen use are “small, consistently negative, and never statistically distinguishable from zero.”

DEPT. OF HEALTH NOT BACKING DOWN FROM USING LOTTERY SYSTEM TO SELECT CHARLOTTE’S WEB GROWERS via James Call for Politics of Pot

The Florida Department of Health released a second draft of proposed rules for the state’s new medicinal marijuana law. The department is not backing off of its proposal to use a lottery to award five state licenses to grow a specific strain of marijuana low in THC.

… The draft released Tuesday defines an applicant as “any entity with at least 25 percent ownership in a nursery.”

The proposal also gives no indication that the department will authorize more than one retail location for each license.

Given that there will be only five dispensaries in the state others find the department’s interpretation as troubling.

… There will be a public hearing on the proposed draft Friday in Tallahassee.

MY TAKE: WHY FLORIDA HAS TO DO MEDICAL MARIJUANA RIGHT for Politics of Pot

Writers like Carl Hiaasen have made entire careers pointing to the corruption and absurdity that too often define Florida’s brand of government. But, despite our frequent failings, there have been a few bright shining moments when Floridians could hold their heads high and point with pride to the innovations of their public officials. On rare occasion there has been a virtuous confluence of visionary leadership and powerful public sentiment that have propelled the Sunshine State onto the national stage as a model for other states to follow.

Whether it’s accountability in education, the buying and protection of environmentally sensitive lands, or transparency in government, Florida has led on issues with national implications. Our state has this opportunity once again in the burgeoning movement of medical marijuana regulation. We need to get it right this time because Florida, at this very moment, is uniquely positioned to become the national model for producing and dispensing this stigmatized class of potentially lifesaving drugs.

In a nutshell, here’s what makes Florida unique:  It is the only large-population state that is striving to centralize, professionalize, and elevate what is usually a highly fragmented and — let’s be honest here — too often sketchy industry.  Some states with small populations like Connecticut get it mostly right, but the diminutive stature of the state tends to trivialize its regulatory accomplishments. And then there are states like California with impressively large and diverse populations but with a disastrously fragmented medical marijuana industry.

If we do this thing right, Florida can stand alone as the only state with a large and diverse citizenry that treated medical marijuana and the industry that underlies it as a serious subject that was regulated for the benefits of participants at every level.

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FIRST IN SUNBURN — FHCA RELEASES POLL NUMBERS ON ELDER CARE, LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE 

The Florida Health Care Association has launched a new website to help people research long-term care options for their elderly parents.

FHCA has also commissioned a Mason-Dixon survey that indicates a majority of Floridians, 58 percent, are concerned about their ability to help a family member with age-related issues. According to the AARP, nearly 2.8 million Florida caregivers help an elderly family member with everything from transportation to health care.

As part of the observance of its 60th anniversary, the FHA has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to officially release the results of the Mason Dixon poll, announce the launch of a new web site, www.ElderCareFlorida.com, and the publication of a report, 60 Years of Caring, documenting the past 60 years of long term care in Florida.

Mason-Dixon found that more than two-thirds of respondents expressed concerned about their ability to care for the diminishing mental capabilities of an aging parent.  Within the next decade Baby Boomers will be entering their 80s. That and the survey results, say the FHCA, underscore the need for Florida’s next governor to ensure that a range of service options is in place to help a growing aging population.

“As Florida begins to feel the impact of aging Baby Boomers, it’s important we identify the needs and concerns of those who will be responsible for their care,” said Joe Mitchell, president of FHCA. “Many adult Floridians will soon be taking on greater responsibilities for their parents’ care.”

FLORIDA’S CONSUMER CONFIDENCE HITS NEW POST-RECESSION HIGH Full blog post here

Consumer confidence among Floridians rose two points in July to 84, hitting another post-recession high for a second consecutive month, according to a new University of Florida survey.

“While an index of 84 is not historically high, it does reflect far more optimism than we have seen over the past year,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

The last time Florida consumers were this confident was April 2007, prior to the recession, when the housing market was beginning to unravel. The Consumer Sentiment Index peaked at 98 in January 2004. The index is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is 2; the highest is 150.

Two of the five components used in the survey showed an uptick in confidence in the national economy since June. Survey-takers’ trust in its performance over the next year rose four points to 84, while their expectations for the country’s economic health over the next five years went up seven points to 85.

They also remain optimistic about whether this is a good time to buy major household items, such as a refrigerator, maintaining a post-recession high of 94 since last month.

Respondents, however, were slightly pessimistic about their own personal finances. Their perception of being better off financially now than a year ago fell two points to 74 after reaching a post-recession high of 76 in June. Meanwhile, their expectations of enjoying improved finances a year from now fell one point to 82.

FLORIDA EXPORTS UP 10.4% IN MAY via Cindy Barth of the Orlando Business Journal

The latest international trade numbers show that $5.22 billion worth of goods left Florida for international markets in May, an increase of 10.4 percent from April, according to Durham, N.H.-based e-forecasting.com.

The May data is the most recent available.

Exports of manufactured goods contributed significantly to the state’s international trade, accounting for 76 percent of all state exports in May. Exports from state manufacturers increased in May by 16.8 percent from the previous month to $3.95 billion.

However, exports of non-manufactured goods went down 5.8 percent in May to $1.26 billion. This group of foreign sales consists of agricultural goods, mining products and re-exports — foreign goods that entered the state as imports and are exported in substantially the same condition.

Florida ranked 42nd among the 50 states during the first five months of this year. Compared to the same period in 2013, foreign sales from Florida’s companies, seasonally adjusted, decreased by an annual rate of 7.4 percent.

WATER AT RISK: LEADERS THIRSTY FOR ANSWERS TO IMPENDING STATEWIDE SHORTAGE via Eric Wright of SpaceCoastBusiness.com

“The Quiet Industry” is how Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam refers to the state’s agribusiness. But as Florida moves past New York to become the third most populous state in the nation, the issues farmers have been grappling with for generations are getting amplified, particularly in the realm of resource conservation and water management.

Now, the industry is taking center stage and may be positioned to provide key solutions in what could be one of the most extensive public-private partnerships in the state’s history.

Putnam, along with incoming Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli, are planning to use their political clout to focus the legislature on what many feel is our most critical problem … water.

The challenge is not just solving the riddle of how to deal with the pollution and storm water runoff quandaries affecting Central Florida’s lakes and rivers or the perilous state of the Indian River Lagoon; it is meeting the water requirements of our rapid growth.

Crisafulli said, “Florida is world-renowned for its 1,200 miles of beaches, springs and more than 7,700 large lakes. Yet our water supply is far more than just a tourist attraction; it’s also what sustains our agriculture industry and the source of drinking water which we all depend upon to live.” Adding, “Water has no boundaries, and it is imperative that policymakers, thought leaders and the public reject a limited parochial view.”

According to Crisafulli, there are over 750 storm water-dumping points along the Indian River Lagoon and only 10 percent of them are treated. Not only is fresh water being introduced in quantities the lagoon cannot absorb, but oil and other pollutants that collect on the roads is washed directly into these water bodies.

However, he is optimistic. “Unlike the more narrow thinking that sometimes characterizes local interest groups on all sides of the issue, in Tallahassee people have had to talk and work with each other for years. There is an ability to focus on the whole of the state and to arrive at solutions that hopefully will begin to address everyone’s concerns.”

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PLAINTIFFS IN REDISTRICTING CASE ARGUE FOR STATEWIDE ELECTION via The Associated Press

A coalition challenging Florida’s current congressional map argues that the state may have to hold statewide elections for two of its 27 congressional seats.

The groups have already successfully sued over Florida’s current map for Congress. A judge is supposed to decide this week if the map can be changed before the 2014 elections.

The coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters, filed court papers on Tuesday that assert if the problem isn’t fixed then the “stop gap” solution requires Florida to hold statewide elections for the newest congressional seats. Florida went from 25 to 27 seats after the 2010 census.

ANALYSIS: 2014 LEGISLATION WILL REDUCE REVENUE BY $550 MILLION via Florida Trend

All the bills passed by the 2014 Legislature have now been evaluated by the state’s revenue estimators, resulting in a revenue reduction of more than $550 million in the current fiscal year. Local revenues will be reduced between $41.5 million and $37 million. Despite the declining revenue estimates, the reduction still leaves $1.65 billion in general revenue reserves for the fiscal year, according to the latest Budget Watch from TaxWatch.

“Florida TaxWatch commends the Legislature for reducing taxes while still being able to increase funding in many important areas, such as education funding,” said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. “Fiscal stewards in the Legislature wisely did not spend all of their available revenue, rather, they left a considerable amount in reserves, which strengthens Florida’s fiscal future.”

These new estimates show, in terms of actual tax and fee reductions in a given year, the Legislature fell a bit short of its $500 million tax-cut goal. The tax package reduces state and local revenue by $398.8 million this year and $469.4 million next year. Other bills that were not part of the tax package, but could still be considered tax or fee cuts, add another $18.4 million to this year’s tax cut totals.

In addition to bills reducing revenue, a few measures were passed by the 2014 Legislature to slightly increase revenues, including possible sales tax revenue from medical low-THC cannabis, a couple of new fees, and an increase in collections of 911 fees.

FLORIDA SHERIFFS NAME JACK LATVALA THEIR LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR Full blog post here

The Florida Sheriffs Association announced state Sen. Jack Latvala as its 2014 Legislator of the Year, with an award presented last week during the FSA Summer Conference in St Johns County.

Every year, FSA acknowledges state legislators making significant contributions to criminal justice and public safety through leadership. During the 2014 session, Latvala led a number of key proposals in what the FSA called a “successful session.”

“The Florida Sheriffs Association is honored to recognize Senator Latvala for his tireless work to support Florida’s sheriffs and all law enforcement across the state,” said FSA President Grady Judd, who serves as Polk County Sheriff. “FSA applauds our partners in the Capitol for their continued support in protecting all Floridians.”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri added that Latvala “demonstrates an unconditional commitment to the sheriffs, which has made him an effective advocate.”

The FSA noted the Clearwater Republican’s support of the Florida Retirement System and law enforcement, as well as his open door policy, making him an “ideal advocate for nearly every issue important to sheriffs.”

ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE: “Florida Rep. Lake Ray and Team Determine Original Fort Caroline Location”

HERE’S THE STORY via Cyd Hoskinson and Patrick Donges of WJCT News

Sorry Georgia. A Florida politician says the location of the original Fort Caroline is in Jacksonville.

“It’s off of Queens Harbor,” said State Rep. Lake Ray, speaking at the Jacksonville Historical Society.

Questions as to the original location of the fort, established by the French in 1564 under René Goulaine de Laudonnière, has sparked debate among historians for years.

Earlier this year, researchers asserted the colony was located not on the St. Johns River, but on the Altamaha River in southeast Georgia.

Ray, along with his son Lake Ray IV and legislative assistant Mark Lloyd, referenced existing research and studied numerous aerial photos and maps to make their determination that the fort was actually established in Jacksonville.

Ray said he doesn’t want to disclose the exact location at this time in order to protect it from amateur archeologists and historians.

Fort Caroline predates both Jamestown and the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock.

FLORIDA LOBSTER MINI-SEASON PERMIT REQUESTS INCREASE 30 PERCENT THIS YEAR via Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post

The annual two-day lobster season opened at 12:01 a.m. and indications are there will be more scuba divers and snorkelers chasing the tasty crustaceans than ever before.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a total of 121,181 annual lobster permits were purchased from July 2013 through June 2014, an increase of nearly 30 percent from last year.

“The two-day lobster season has become a big social event,” said Randy Jordan, owner of Emerald Charters in Jupiter. “It’s a lot of fun catching lobsters and more people are doing it.”

That’s not entirely good. Among those purchasing permits are novice divers, who can quickly get in over their heads.

Jordan, whose four chartered trips for the two-day mini season have been sold out for weeks, said he avoids problems by primarily taking out experienced divers.

Poor preparation isn’t the only way divers can get themselves in a pickle. FWC and other marine enforcement personnel will be out in full force during mini-season, which ends Thursday at 11:59 p.m.

“Hundreds” of citations were issued last year for a range of infractions that included possession of egg-bearing females, harvesting undersized lobsters and bagging more than the legal limit of 12 lobsters per person per day. Breaking any of those regulations is a second-degree misdemeanor that can result in six months in jail and a fine up to $500.

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GERI THOMPSON AND GARY SIPLIN BATTLE IN BELLWETHER PRIMARY FOR DEMOCRATS via Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State News

A month out, the most important Democratic primary in Florida could be between two familiar figures in Tallahassee battling for one of their party’s safest legislative seats.

Unlike the gubernatorial primary … Gary Siplin’s challenge to Geri Thompson should be competitive and even serve as a bellwether for how Democrats proceed in Tallahassee.

Thompson and Siplin certainly have more than their share of history. Siplin beat Thompson in the 2004 primaries but she got some revenge by beating his wife Victoria in the 2012 primaries.

A veteran of the much more partisan House who moved into the more congenial Senate, Thompson has the support of the liberal establishment. The party leadership is looking for Democrats to put up a fight against the Republicans in Tallahassee instead of trying to work with the GOP, which controls both chambers of the Legislature. The removal of Darryl Rouson and the installation of Mark Pafford as the next Democrat House leader only underscores which way Democrats are headed.

Thompson is a Democrat in the Pafford mold who will put up a fight against the GOP. Certainly Democrats are starting to place their bets on her. By July 18, Thompson had brought in $143,500, relied on more than $17,450 through in-kind donations and spent more than $76,800. Thompson has gotten a good deal of support from the various teachers’ unions and Planned Parenthood this time out. She’s also gotten the support of the Florida Medical Association.

Siplin has generally been more willing to play ball with Republicans in the Senate. It helped him move up the ladder during his decade in the Senate and he even chaired the Agriculture Committee despite GOP control of the chamber. The business community, from the Florida Hospital Association to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, backed Siplin during his various campaigns and helped his wife when she ran for the open seat against Thompson in 2012.

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: FLORIDA DISASTER, TAX HOLIDAYS, GETTING HIGH AND EL PASO

On Context FloridaSteven Goldstein writes that by any objective standard, Florida has become a man-made disaster — a monument to greed, unquenched lust for power, pervasive bad taste and stupidity. With Florida schools back in session very soon, and new learning standards and assessment tests, Dominic Calabro knows one thing will stay the same: the need for paper and pencils, clothes to wear, and maybe even a new computer at home. Florida TaxWatch has long supported sales tax holidays, like the one for back-to-school supplies on Aug. 1-3. Florida’s Amendment 2 is not about medical marijuana, says Barney Bishop. It is about getting high. If there is a city that characterizes our new America, Rick Brunson, an associate instructor of journalism in UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication, believes it is the very old town of El Paso, circa 1659.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

MEET ‘LEAK,’ A WEBSITE THAT LETS YOU SEND ANONYMOUS EMAILS WITH CLUES, SUCH AS ‘FROM A COWORKER’ via Steven Tweedie of Business Insider

Ever want to get something off your chest, but are a bit too squeamish to just hit “send”? You’re in luck.

Meet Leak, a new website that lets you send anonymous emails to your friends, coworkers — even the people you might not like so much.

Anonymous email isn’t an entirely new concept, but Leak is hoping to make the experience less creepy and more fun by allowing you to choose the degree of familiarity in how you’re attributed. It’s a nice nod to the importance of context, and it allows users to send their anonymous note as “a friend,” “a coworker,” “a family member,” “a friend of a friend,” or simply “someone.”

To send a Leak, you first have to agree to the “Do’s and Don’ts” of Leak etiquette, which encourages users to “use anonymity for good” and prohibits people using Leak to bully, harass, spam, threaten, or otherwise take advantage of Leak’s anonymity to cause others pain.

But Leak does have its issues.

When we tried sending a Leak to our coworkers, most of the time the email would find its way to their spam folders, and only occasionally to their inbox. For Leak to truly take off, people will need to know their small act of anonymous courage will actually be seen, otherwise there’s really no point.

And without Leak, how else could we ever tell people our true feelings?

***CoreMessage is a full-service communications and issues advocacy firm with the experience, relationships and expertise to help you get your message out. Connected at the state capitol and throughout Florida, the CoreMessage team unites issues with advocates, messages with media and innovative solutions with traditional tactics to get results. Follow CoreMessage on Twitter and visit them on the Web at www.coremessage.com.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to, my friend, Tre Evers, one of the smartest people working in Florida politics. More belated wishes to Sarah Bush and Rich Reidy. Celebrating today is Buzz Jacobs and Rhett O’Doski.

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.