Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 8.12.16 — Meteors, Star Wars, Olympic, and, oh yeah, politics

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


We launched Sunburn an hour earlier than usual, hoping this message will arrive in time for readers to gaze at the Perseid meteor shower.

Thursday night into early Friday, the annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak with double the normal number of meteors. Scientists call this an outburst, and they say it could reach up to 200 meteors per hour.

Prime viewing should be in the pre-dawn hours of Friday, after the moon sets.

The last Perseids outburst was in 2009. Thanks to a gravity nudge from Jupiter, debris from comet Swift-Tuttle could stray closer to Earth again. These scattered specks of dust — a trail in the comet’s wake — are what flash as they enter the atmosphere at a mind-blowing 132,000 miles per hour and burn up.

“Here’s something to think about. The meteors you’ll see this year are from comet flybys that occurred hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said in a statement. “And they’ve traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze run into Earth’s atmosphere.”

Scientists hope to capture the action with a new instrument at the International Space Station. The U.S.-Japanese experiment’s name is appropriately named Meteor.

An August tradition, the Perseids are so named because the meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, the Medusa-killing hero of Greek mythology.

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A VIRTUAL-REALITY OLYMPICS? IT’S OK, BUT TV IS STILL KING via Anick Jesdanun of The Associated Press — If you want to glimpse the future of sports broadcasting, you can check out the Rio Olympics in virtual reality. But if you really want to immerse yourself in the competition, just turn on the TV. NBC, BBC and other Olympic networks around the world are offering the opening and closing ceremonies and selected events in VR, giving viewers a 360-degree perspective — that is, the ability to look up, down and all-around — when they wear special headsets. It’s a first in Olympics broadcasting, and NBC itself admits that its more than 100 hours of VR coverage is experimental. It’s good that television networks are getting a head start on figuring out what works with the new technology. Watching the Olympics in VR can occasionally transport you, giving you the sense of actually being there in Rio. But those moments are still too few and far between. Television networks are relying on the shared resources of the Olympic Broadcasting Services. In the U.S., viewers need a cable or satellite TV subscription, a Samsung Gear VR headset and a recent flagship Samsung Galaxy phone. The VR schedule has a haphazard feel. It offers preliminary rounds for some sports and finals for others, but focuses on just one sport on any given day. Events are shown a day after the fact, too, apart from one fencing event and two days of men’s basketball expected to be live.

WHICH COUNTRIES MEDAL IN THE SPORTS THAT PEOPLE CARE ABOUT? via Nate Silver of — So, what if Olympics medals were awarded in proportion to how much people actually cared about each sport, as measured by its TV viewership? To reiterate, I’m talking about TV viewership during the Olympics, specifically. Tennis (as in: Wimbledon) is presumably the more popular spectator sport under ordinary circumstances, but in 2012, people actually spent more time watching table tennis (as in: pingpong) than tennis at the Olympics. The data I’m citing here comes from the IOC’s International Federations Report, which listed the total number of TV viewer hours in each sport during the 2012 London Olympics. People around the world spent a collective 202 million hours watching Olympics fencing in 2012, for example. The list of the most popular sports is less U.S.-centric than you might think: Badminton, not very popular in the United States, gets a lot of TV viewers worldwide. Team sports almost invariably wind up with large medal multipliers, including soccer (12.9), basketball (8.0) and even water polo (1.9). Swimming (0.9) and track and field (1.0) hold their own; they’re very popular, but also medal-rich, so there isn’t much need to adjust their numbers one way or the other. Gymnastics gets a boost, though, as does diving (1.9). But many of the more obscure individual sports, such as shooting (0.4), sailing (0.2) and taekwondo (0.2), have low multipliers. How would these adjustments have affected the 2012 Olympic standings? Among other things, they’d have helped the United States, which already led the way with 46 gold and 103 overall medals in London. A lot of those medals came in team sports, such as basketball, volleyball and (women’s) soccer, which have high medal multipliers. Thus, Team USA’s adjusted medal count is 78 golds and 142 medals overall, towering over the competition. China also gets a modest boost, thanks in part to its gymnastics and table tennis prowess, while Brazil — great at soccer and volleyball, not so good at the individual sports — gets a large one. The country that suffers the most is Great Britain, which used its home-nation advantage to rack up medals in some of the more obscure sports. Nations from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which win lots of medals in relatively unpopular events such as weightlifting and wrestling, also suffer to some extent.

MICHAEL PHELPS’S 13TH INDIVIDUAL GOLD BREAKS AN ANCIENT RECORD via Karen Crouse of the New York Times – The 200-meter individual medley field was chasing Michael Phelps, who powered past Leonidas of Rhodes. Leonidas won 12 individual events over four Olympics. At 36, five years older than Phelps, he won his last three golds in 152 B.C, in races of about 200 and 400 meters and in a shield-carrying race. Phelps surpassed Leonidas, winning his 13th individual gold (and 22nd gold overall and 26th medal). With the victory, Phelps also joined the track and field Olympians Al Oerter and Carl Lewis as the only Americans to win an individual event four times.

WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS GIVES AUDIENCES A UNIQUE CONNECTION WITH ATHLETES via Stacia Brown of The Washington Post — It’s no surprise that women’s gymnastics is such a popular spectator sport each Summer Olympics season. The flips, dips, and pirouettes in air are downright pyrotechnic. The competitors often seem deceptive girly with their blunt-cut bangs or hair bows — and it’s that very optical illusion that makes a ferocious run toward a high-flying tumbling pass all the more thrilling. There’s a fleeting moment of cognitive dissonance between the sight of a spangly leotard and the knowledge that its shoulder-shimmying wearer is not just proficient but also exceptional at a skill the majority of the world’s population will never learn. But for all of the sport’s shared draws, people also watch women’s gymnastics for highly individuated reasons. Mine change from Games to Games. When I was a little girl, I first watched because of Mary Lou Retton and her elastic smile. She was all pluck in a sport that could occasionally render competitors grim-faced or stoic. She looked not just graceful but also fun-loving — and she still managed to be completely indomitable. Many American gymnasts before and since have shared these traits: a projection of happiness while obliterating competition. But few have done it as convincingly as Retton. Sometimes a gymnast’s smile is more of a wince, a requirement like any other on which she is being judged. But when a real love of all parts of the sport shine through on a gymnast’s face, it feels as though I’m watching something higher than a sport. It’s like being let in during a stranger’s moment of complete self-actualization. This year’s Olympic Games have returned me to that childhood reason for loving televised coverage of the sport: the rise and fall of it all on the athlete’s face. Gymnastics is a sport that has the rare benefit of being occasionally shot in tight close-ups.

KAYLA HARRISON WINS 2ND OLYMPIC GOLD IN JUDO. IS A CAREER IN MMA UP NEXT? Via Maria Cheng of the The Associated Press — Harrison earned her second straight gold medal in judo … winning the 78-kilogram category at the Rio de Janeiro Games. After the bout, she was asked about turning her attention to a professional career in mixed martial arts. She wouldn’t say. “I’m just going to focus on being two-time Olympic champion and decide about punching people in the face at a later date,” said Harrison, a friend of MMA star Ronda Rousey. Harrison said she has received multiple offers from various organizations asking her to fight in MMA competitions but has so far turned them all down. Her coach, Jimmy Pedro, said he doubted that she would turn pro, adding she was “too nice of a person” to do mixed martial arts. After Harrison won the Olympic title in London, she vowed to retire from the competitive grind of the Japanese martial art. She wanted to focus on other things, like becoming a firefighter. That goal, however, “kind of dissolved” after the last games, she said. She is now planning to spend more time working on her foundation, Fearless, which aims to help victims of sexual abuse. Harrison herself endured years of sexual abuse by a previous judo coach. Harrison became the first American to defend an Olympic judo title when she forced Audrey Tcheumeo of France to tap out in the final.

U.S. WATER POLO COACH MAKES EMOTIONAL RETURN AFTER BROTHER’S SHOCKING DEATH via Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated — Fostering that solidarity for this Olympic squad was always going to be one of [AdamKrikorian’s toughest tasks. The team is the youngest in U.S. history (average age: 23), with nine of the 13 players competing in their first Olympics. There had been plenty of growing pains in the run-up to the Games but once they arrived in Rio their discerning coach felt something click. On Aug. 3, two days before the opening ceremony, the team held an evening practice that left Krikorian “beaming.” It was 11:30 that night when he finally turned on his phone, discovering from his father Gary a text message to call immediately. It’s the kind of note we all dread, and Krikorian’s foreboding feeling was confirmed the second he saw his dad’s ashen look on FaceTime. Haltingly, Gary delivered the awful news that Blake had died hours earlier, having suffered a heart attack while surfing. He was only 48, and left behind his high school sweetheart, Cathy, and their daughters, Lauren and Emma. Krikorian took the day off and left the team in the capable hands of his assistant coaches: Dan Klatt, a member of the 2004 U.S. team and now head coach at UC Irvine; and Chris Oeding, a two-time Olympian who currently serves as head coach at Long Beach City College. After much soul-searching, Krikorian made the wrenching decision to leave one family for another. Before hustling out of Rio he delivered the message to his players that this was his burden, not theirs, and urged them to remain focused on the task at hand and to embrace their Olympic experience with gusto. He promised to return but didn’t say when. He caught a flight that night to Northern California, where the Krikorian clan had gathered. Walking into his brother’s home in Hillsboro was, he says, “probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. To see the anguish of Cathy and my nieces, man, that was overwhelming.” But for all the tears in the ensuing two days there were just as many laughs as the family told stories about Blake and remembered all the good times. “It was incredibly healing for all of us to be together,” Krikorian says. … Despite what Blake may or may not have wanted, his brother is determined to win a gold medal in his memory. So, too, are Krikorian’s players, who stand beside their grieving coach, facing the fire with him, there until the end.

THE ANCIENT MILITARY ORIGINS OF OLYMPIC DRESSAGE via Christopher Woolf of PRI — Through most of history, the horse and its rider have been a weapon of war — like a tank — whose speed, power and maneuverability is far superior to the common foot soldier. In battle, the ability to move a horse quickly from side to side, or burst into a gallop, or change direction quickly are vital survival skills. The dancing-in-place thing, or “piaffe,” where the hooves paw the ground, may actually have its origins in the need to stomp a fallen enemy. Dressage riders don’t talk about control, although that’s what it looks like. They prefer to talk about rider and horse working in harmony. The horse is seen as the friend of the rider, trained through kindness. They respond primarily to the rider’s legs and weight, rather than whip and spur. The equestrian arts go back to when people first harnessed horsepower to their advantage. Since those earliest days thousands of years ago, riders have competed with each other in how well they can control a horse. The ancient Greeks, as far as history knows, were the first to write down the key elements of horsemanship, and the people who developed dressage as a method to train horses for war. A great writer, rider and warrior, Xenophon, wrote several works in the 400s. His work is seen as the foundation of modern dressage. However, dressage does not appear to have been an event at the ancient Olympics. It first appeared in the modern Olympics in 1912, and back then it was the exclusive preserve of men, predominantly cavalrymen. But the mechanization of warfare led to the end of mounted soldiers. The U.S. cavalry lost its last mounted combat unit in the 1940s. At about the same time, women were making inroads into the sport, and were finally allowed to compete in dressage at the Olympics in 1952.

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DONALD TRUMP CAN’T LOSE FLORIDA, BUT STATE POLITICOS THINK HE WILL via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — With states such as Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania tilting decidedly toward Hillary ClintonTrump has virtually zero chance of winning the necessary 270 electoral votes without Florida’s 29 in his column. The good news for the Republican nominee? Even after a particularly rough patch and ongoing inflammatory rhetoric … he is competitive in the Sunshine State. Clinton leads in Florida by just 2.2 percentage points in the average of recent polls, though those don’t reflect all his recent controversies. The bad news for Trump? The political pros who know Florida politics best overwhelmingly think Trump will lose. Among more than 170 people surveyed for a Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll this week, three in four expected Clinton will win Florida. “A lot of Republicans are as afraid of winning the presidential race as they are of losing it. As a result, more Republicans than people realize are going to skip the top of the ticket when they vote,” a Republican said. At the same time, however, an even more overwhelming majority of the political consultants, fundraisers, academics and the like surveyed — almost 80 percent — expect Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will win re-election in November. Only 20 percent expect Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy to win, and only one person predicted Democrat Alan Grayson will be Florida’s next U.S. senator. Grayson and Murphy are vying for the Democratic nomination Aug. 30, while Rubio faces a primary challenge from Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff. “Trump will lose by largest percentage since 1988, when Bush 41 defeated Dukakis by 22 points. Rubio will win by five. Split tickets all over the peninsula,” predicted one Republican.

SUBDUED TRUMP TELLS HOME BUILDERS HE’S ONE OF THEM via Patricia Mazzei and Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — “My father built houses, and he did it beautiful,” he said. “He’d go up to the houses, and he’d check for nails. And, see, the bigger companies don’t do this. But the individual guys, that do one or two or eight or 10 houses a year ….” A few minutes later, still talking about the nitty-gritty of home construction, the Republican presidential nominee acknowledged he’d gotten a little carried away. “That wasn’t gonna be part of the speech. I don’t know why I free-wheeled that,” he said. Immediately after, he seemed to summon an answer: “Because I’m so comfortable.” A subdued Trump showed up to the National Association of Home Builders conference the morning after a raucous Broward County campaign rally … In front of a nonpartisan, buttoned-down audience, Trump found little taste for the red meat he delivers from the stump. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually get along with Russia?” he floated at one point, to utter silence. He stuck by his completely unfounded assertion from the night before that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama are the “founders” of the terrorist group ISIS. “They’re the founders,” Trump said. If ISIS were a sports team, he continued, Clinton would be named “most valuable player.” It was unclear if the laughter from the crowd indicated people thought he was joking.

DOZENS OF REPUBLICANS TO URGE RNC TO CUT OFF FUNDS FOR TRUMP via Anna Palmer of POLITICO — More than 70 top Republicans have signed a letter urging Republican National Committee to cut off funds for Trump and focus on saving the House and the Senate … The letter comes as a number of Republican senators and high-profile GOP national security officials have come forward saying they cannot vote for Trump … The signatories, which include former Reps. Vin Weber and Chris Shays, don’t really hold back … “We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck.”

TRUMP CAMPAIGN, RNC PLAN PIVOTAL MEETING IN ORLANDO via Marc Caputo, Ben Schreckinger and Kenneth P. Vogel of POLITICO – Trump’s campaign and top Republican Party officials plan what one person called a “come to Jesus” meeting on Friday in Orlando to discuss the Republican nominee’s struggling campaign, according to multiple sources familiar with the scheduled sit-down. Though a campaign source dismissed it as a “typical” gathering, others described it as a more serious meeting, with one calling it an “emergency meeting.” It comes at a time of mounting tension between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, which is facing pressure to pull the plug on Trump’s campaign and redirect party funds down ballot to protect congressional majorities endangered by Trump’s candidacy. The request for the Orlando Ritz Carlton meeting originated with Trump’s campaign, according to a source familiar with the broad details, and is being viewed by RNC officials as a sign that the campaign has come to grips with the difficulty it is having in maintaining a message and running a ground game. “They want to patch up a rift that just keeps unfolding,” one source said. “They finally realize they need the RNC for their campaign because, let’s face it, there is no campaign.”

IS SPLIT TICKET VOTING MAKING A COMEBACK? WITH TRUMP ON THE BALLOT, SOME REPUBLICANS HOPE SO via Karen Tumulty and Mary Jordan of The Washington Post — When Hillary Clinton and her vice-presidential running mate, Tim Kaine, took a celebratory bus tour through crucial Ohio after the [DNC], they got some unexpected company: Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Portman’s embattled re-election campaign had dispatched a squad of volunteers to Clinton-Kaine rallies in Columbus and Youngstown. There, they passed out literature touting his endorsements by several traditionally Democratic unions, signed up 400 new supporters and gathered more than 100 requests for yard signs … The campaign also featured Portman’s outreach to Clinton supporters on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

ONE ALLY REMAINS FIRMLY BEHIND TRUMP: THE NRA via Nick Corasaniti and Alexander Burns of The New York Times – With Trump increasingly isolated and hobbled by controversies of his own making, the powerful gun-rights group has emerged as one of his remaining stalwart allies in the Republican coalition: the institution on the right most aggressively committed to his candidacy, except for the Republican National Committee itself. The association has spent millions of dollars on television commercials for Trump, even as other Republican groups have kept their checkbooks closed and Mr. Trump’s campaign has not run any ads of its own. The NRA’s chief political strategist, Chris Cox, gave a forceful testimonial for Trump at the Republican convention; Trump has repeatedly praised Cox and the association’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre. And Tuesday, when Trump roiled the presidential race anew with a rough comment — his critics interpreted it as a suggestion that “Second Amendment people” could attack Hillary Clinton or the judges she would appoint if elected president — the association rushed to defend his remark as no more than an attempt to rally gun enthusiasts to vote in November. Trump has not always been such a clear ally of the gun lobby. When he considered a bid for president in 2000, he repeatedly expressed support for a crackdown on gun ownership, and criticized Republicans who, he said, “walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions.” But this year, Trump has gone to unusual lengths to get along with the organization. When the group offered rare criticism of him in June, for suggesting after the nightclub massacre in Orlando that patrons there should have been armed, Trump took the unusual step of walking back his remarks.

HILLARY CLINTON OFFERS MORE HOPE, LESS CHANGE IN ECONOMIC REPLY TO TRUMP via Andrew Mayeda and Saleha Mohsin of Bloomberg Politics — The Democratic presidential nominee is pledging to boost growth with a suite of policies that President Barack Obama has also advocated, including a fund that would invest in roads and other infrastructure, and an increase in the minimum wage. She has added new wrinkles popular among supporters of Bernie Sanders, such as free tuition for the middle class at public colleges, while signaling to wavering Republicans and independents that she won’t run up the federal deficit. But broadly speaking, Clinton is hewing closely to Obama’s economic agenda. Eight years after Obama promised “hope and change,” Clinton is presenting more hope about the economy than Trump, and just enough policy change to avoid unsettling voters. “She’s playing that to her advantage of delivering a strategy that is familiar and frankly has largely worked in many ways if you give the president credit for improvement in the last eight years,” said Christopher Smart, a former Treasury official in the Obama administration. “Maybe it doesn’t sound new and exciting, but that’s the work that needs to be done.”

HAPPENING SATURDAY — MARCO RUBIO TO HELP OPEN RPOF BRANDON VICTORY OFFICE — RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia will be joined by Rubio at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, at the Brandon Victory Office, 1602 Oakfield Drive, Suite 109 in Brandon. “We are truly excited about this election cycle’s first Super Saturday and the tremendous number of grassroots leaders and volunteers across the great state of Florida that are engaging themselves in the political process. Whether they are knocking on doors, making phone calls or registering voters, their hard work will continue establishing a path to victory for Republicans in November,” said Ingoglia. Doors open at 9 a.m. Media interested in attending must register here.

LAWSUIT ALLEGES CARLOS BERUFF FIRMS BROKE FEDERAL REAL ESTATE LAW via Daniel Cucassi of POLITICO – A lawsuit filed in circuit court in Manatee County this week alleges that a group of companies associated with U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff broke the law when his homebuilding company held on to a nearly $43,000 deposit from a Sarasota real estate agent after the parties failed to close on a deal. The lawsuit was filed by lawyers for Sarasota real estate agent Conrad Zarris. The 13-page lawsuit alleges that three Beruff-associated companies violated federal real estate law when trying to close on a contract between Zarris and Medallion Homes Gulf Coast to buy land and construct a home.

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WHY IS AL SHARPTON AGAINST FLORIDA’S SOLAR ENERGY AMENDMENT 4? via Jessica Lipscomb of the Miami New Times — Amendment 4 would allow companies that use solar energy to claim the same tax exemptions homeowners currently can take advantage of … But Sharpton and local leaders of his organization, the National Action Network, say it’s just another corporate tax break, another example of special treatment for big business. But as soon as Local 10 reporter Glenna Milberg began questioning this premise, things got testy. Sharpton wasn’t able to say what the impact he’s suggesting would actually look like, which is when things took a turn into the nonsensical. … “The propaganda that has been put out is because big business would get a huge tax break and that this would therefore trickle down to create jobs one day, by and by, when the morning comes. We heard that in 1980 from Reagan. We got the trickle; we never got the down,” he said puzzlingly.

JAMES ZUMWALT GOES ON AIR IN CD 1 — The Iraq War veteran is hitting the airwaves with an explosive new advertisement. The 30-second spot, called “Fire in the Hole,” features footage of explosions, as Zumwalt talks about his military background. “As the only candidate for Congress to fight radical Islam face-to-face, my mission is clear: To restore America’s military might, kill ISIS, defeat radical Islam, protect our homeland and secure our borders. … We need more war fighters and fewer politicians in Washington,” he says in the advertisement.

HANDOUT OF THE DAY via Ed Malin, running in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. Note that Malin says he’s “not a good golfer” as a selling point.


ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Former Gov. Charlie Crist will hold a roundtable discussion with veterans at 10 a.m. at the VFW Post 2473, 1401 N. Hercules Ave. in Clearwater. Crist, who is the Democratic nominee in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, will discuss the Veterans Administration system, military retirement benefits, and other issues with veterans in attendance.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ POISED TO BEAT BERNIE SANDERS-BACKED CHALLENGER via Heather Caygle of POLITICO — The fallout from the embarrassing Democratic National Committee email leak last month was swift and severe, costing Wasserman Schultz her chairmanship on the eve of the party’s national convention after five years in that job. There’s quite a ways between that, however, and losing re-election: A fixture of South Florida politics for nearly a quarter-century, Wasserman Schultz remains the prohibitive favorite to beat Tim Canova and return to the House for a seventh term, according to recent polling and Florida political operatives. “As much as I would like to say otherwise, I think his chances are pretty slim,” said Ben Pollara, a Democratic political consultant who once worked for Wasserman Schultz but is now a critic … Wasserman Schultz has a near stranglehold on the area she’s represented in Congress for more than a decade and in the Florida statehouse for many years before that. She’s the first Jewish congresswoman from Florida in a district that skews white, Democratic and Jewish. “As much of a lightning rod as she’s become at the national level … this is still a district that voted for her up and down the ballot since 1992, when she first got elected to the statehouse,” said Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist who directed President Barack Obama‘s 2008 campaign in Florida and has known Wasserman Schultz for 20 years. And though Wasserman Schultz’s future role in the Democratic Party is unclear — several sources questioned whether she’d be content as a rank-and-file member if she wins re-election … her longtime representation of the district is key heading into the primary.

BERNIE SANDERS STRATEGISTS EXIT TIM CANOVA CAMPAIGN via Gabriel Debenedetti of POLITICO — The abrupt change … means the Washington-based trio of Tad DevineMark Longabaugh and Julian Mulvey — who steered Sanders’ much-heralded ads during his primary bid — have exited the south Florida race that increasingly appears to be going Wasserman Schultz’s way.

DWS CALLS ATTACKS AGAINST HER ARE GARBAGE IN NEW AD — Wasserman Schultz is taking aim at her opponent in her first primary election ad. “People who don’t even live in Florida, including Republicans, are spending outrageous amounts of money on personal attacks directed at me. And the attacks are just garbage,” she says in the 30-second spot. While she doesn’t mention Canova’s name in the ad, it is clear she’s talking about him. Canova has received a significant amount of his financial support from outside the Sunshine State.

FLORIDA CHAMBER SLAMS MIKE HILL FOR VOTE AGAINST INCENTIVES — The Florida Chamber of Commerce came out swinging in an advertisement attacking Hill in Senate District 1. The Chamber, which endorsed Gulf Breeze Republican Doug Broxson, calls Hill out for his vote against an economic incentive package earlier this year. “Desperate and losing, Hill is attacking his opponent for legislation he himself supported. What’s worse, Hill broke his word to Gov. Rick Scott and opposed Scott’s growth plan, putting thousands of Panhandle jobs at risk. The Florida Chamber of Commerce and our small businesses can’t trust Mike Hill. Rick Scott can’t trust Mike Hill, and we can’t either.” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. Marian Johnson, the senior vice president of political operations for the Florida Chamber, said in a statement Thursday the state needs “leaders who will stand up for jobs that help support families and communities.” She continued: ““Voters deserve a leader they can trust in, not one who says one thing and does another.  This is about trust, leadership and job growth and we believe Doug Broxson has the small business experience and leadership to help grow Escambia and Santa Rosa’s economy.”

TAMPA MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN ENDORSES ED NARAIN FOR FLORIDA SENATE via Caitlin Johnston of the Tampa Bay Times — “Following in the footsteps of both Sen. Arthenia Joyner and County Commission Chair Les Miller who previously held this seat, I believe that Ed is the clear choice in this race,” Buckhorn said in a statement. “I have worked with Ed on a number of issues affecting our region and he has been a great advocate and teammate for us in Tallahassee.” Narain is running against two other well-known Tampa Bay lawmakers (Rep. Darryl Rouson, St. Petersburg, and former state representative Betty Reed of Tampa) in addition to political newcomer Augie Ribeiro, a trial lawyer who is mostly self-funding his campaign. Riberio earned former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco’s endorsement last week, while Rouson has scooped up many of the endorsements from Pinellas. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and former U.S. Rep Jim Davis have also endorsed Narain.

IRV SLOSBERG BUILT HIS FORTUNE ON THE BACKS OF CHILD LABOR? SAY IT AIN’T SO, IRV! via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – Flush with cash … Slosberg was giving incumbent Sen. Jeff Clemens fits in very blue SD 31 — until Jose Lambiet did his thing this morning. The headline says it all: “EXCLUSIVE — Dirt-Poor India Workers Planted Seed of Florida Senate Candidate Irv Slosberg’s Fortune!” Lambiet dug up a 1997 lawsuit citing the leather goods business that “made the Democrat a rich man able to pour millions into his political aspirations, drive a $110,000 Porsche and live in a $1 million house in Boca Raton.” A telling document. Now we know Slosberg’s fortune may have been built on the backs of what may have been grossly underpaid laborers in India, one of the world’s poorest countries. “The startling revelation was buried in a lawsuit filed in Broward County at first, then transferred to the federal civil court system, and it could end up being particularly bothersome for Slosberg’s campaign less than three weeks before he dukes it out at the polls with … Clemens,” writes Lambiet. Read the story. Taking advantage of poor children, if that’s what he did, doesn’t look good for a millionaire like Slosberg who’s paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to self-finance his legislative campaigns. “In the complaint filed by Mediterranean in 1997, Slosberg’s company accused Maersk of delivering wet and damaged leather handbags, wallets, purses and cosmetic cases it picked up from the impoverished city,” writes Lambiet. The case was dismissed in 1998. Slosberg was supposed to attend a pre-trial conference but didn’t. In 2002 he sold his Broward County warehouse and shut his leather goods business down.

THIS TIME, JACKIE TOLEDO’S CAMP SAYS IT’S HER OPPONENT WHO HAS THE HARD HAT PROBLEM via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — Seems like it wouldn’t be a Toledo campaign without a fuss involving hard hats. This time, however, it’s Toledo’s side that’s pointing an accusing finger at her Republican primary opponent, construction company founder Rebecca Smith. In response to a recent Smith mailer to voters in state House District 60, a consultant working with Toledo’s campaign sent an email to the Tampa Bay Times saying that as someone in construction, Smith should know about Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace safety rules. “Let’s play a fun game called ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’” consultant Ryan Wiggins said. Why, she asked, is Smith shown “on an active construction site with two workers in hard hats without one on her own head? And, why is she so brazen to send out the photo of her breaking those safety regulations to the voters of HD 60? I mean, I get that she wants to show off a good hair day, but safety matters. Does she not think the rules apply to her?” Smith said the photo on her flier was taken last year before she entered the race. And she said there’s no violation of OSHA standards, offering an opinion from Vanna Lanh, identified as an OSHA-authorized construction safety trainer, that standing under a finished concrete ceiling in an area where there’s no construction overhead or nearby “presents no conflict with OSHA.”

HD 70 CANDIDATE CHRISTOPHER “CJ” CZAIA TOUTS ERRONEOUS ENDORSEMENT via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – The Czaia campaign called the Tampa Bay Times this week to tout that St. Petersburg businessman Toriano Parker stopped backing [DanFiorni and switched to Czaia. Kofi Hunt, Czaia’s campaign manager, encouraged a reporter to call Parker to confirm the swap. Hunt described the switch as significant since Parker appeared in a video supporting Fiorni. The problem: Parker says it’s not true. “No, I am not doing that,” Parker said … “I would not do that to Dan. I gave them both an opportunity. I let Czaia put a sign in my window next to Dan’s. That’s all I did.” The tactic shows Czaia is desperate, Fiorini said, calling the move calling the move a “sleaze campaign” … “I think Czaia is going to be in for a surprise,” Fiorini said. “I am not even worried about him. It’s a race between Wengay and I.” Fiorini, a St. Petersburg businessman, said he has heard from other supporters that Czaia’s team is working to undo support from other backers. “If he can’t run his own campaign, he can’t win,” Fiorni added. “They’re trying to run my campaign. I’m very proud of the campaign we’re running.” When asked about the gaffe, Hunt said: “Things are very dynamic in the community. People have come to us. We’re not trying to undo anything. I guess it was a misunderstanding.”

— “Trump event speech could cost Fort Lauderdale state Rep. George Moriatis” via Buddy Nevins of


Marco Rubio, running for U.S. Senate, has been endorsed by the Associated Industries of Florida.

Daniel Webster, running for Florida’s 11th Congressional District, has received the endorsement of the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police.

Donnie Horner, running for Florida House District 11, has been endorsed by the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC.

Sheri Treadwell, running for Florida House District 11, has been endorsed by Jerry Holland, property appraiser of Duval County.

Wengay Newton, running for Florida House District 70, has been endorsed by the Florida Nurses Association Political Action Committee (FNCPAC).

Robert Asencio, running for Florida House District 118, has received the endorsement of the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association.

IN FLORIDA’S MAIL BALLOT CAPITAL, TURNOUT APPROACHES 10 PERCENT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The elections office in Pinellas County, the mail ballot capital of Florida, is a very busy place these days. As of Thursday morning … the county reported that 48,406 ballots have already been cast and returned in the primary election that’s two-and-a-half weeks away. That’s nearly 8 percent of the county’s entire voting population, and it suggests that turnout in Pinellas will far exceed the turnouts in the past two primary elections (24 percent in 2014 and 23 percent in 2012). By comparison, Hillsborough reported Thursday that 38,976 mail ballots have been returned, which is about 5 percent of the county’s 813,000 registered voters. As of Thursday, 19 percent of all Pinellas ballots that have been mailed have been returned. Republicans and Democrats are nearly neck-and-neck in ballot returns across Pinellas, with Rs holding a very small lead over Ds. The top races on the Pinellas primary ballot are for U.S. Senate in both parties, a Republican race for Congress in the 13th District and among Democrats for a state Senate seat and two House seats. Pinellas, which ranks sixth statewide among 67 counties in the number of registered voters, continues to lead all counties in the number of ballots mailed and not yet returned at 201,000. Miami-Dade is a close second at 198,000. That number is a moving target and changes daily as more completed ballots arrive at county offices. Election day is Tuesday, Aug. 30, and the last day a voter can request a ballot be mailed is Wednesday, Aug. 24.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

ADMINISTRATION SHIFTS MORE FUNDS TO ZIKA FIGHT via Jennifer Haberkorn of POLITICO — The Obama administration is moving an additional $81 million to fight the Zika virus, which has begun to spread locally by mosquitoes in a Miami neighborhood. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell will transfer $34 million within NIH and $47 million to a separate biomedical research division “in order to ensure that neither is forced to delay their Zika vaccine work as the fiscal year closes,” she wrote in a letter to congressional leaders … Burwell said she was able to free up a limited amount of money until Congress acts — and only by “raiding” other important health programs. “The failure to pass a Zika emergency supplemental has forced the administration to choose between delaying critical vaccine development work and raiding other worthy government programs to temporarily avoid these delays,” Burwell wrote. NIAID director Tony Fauci said at the National Press Club that funding Zika this way is not wise. “All of that is extremely damaging to the biomedical enterprise,” he said. “We’re taking money away from cancer, diabetes, all of those kinds of things.” The new Zika funding is coming from other NIH accounts, as well as the administration for Children and Families, CMS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Burwell said that these moves will “exhaust” the ability to provide short-term financing help for Zika and that more funding will be needed. “Our nation’s ability to mount the type of Zika response that the American people deserve sits squarely with Congress,” Burwell wrote, adding that the funds will expire Sept. 30.

RICK SCOTT SAYS FLORIDA’S ZIKA CASELOAD RISES TO 25 via The Associated Press — According to a statement from Scott‘s office, Florida has 25 cases of Zika, but active transmission is only happening in a one-square-mile area encompassing Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Scott’s office says Florida’s Department of Health has cleared a second section of Wynwood from the zone. Aerial spraying of pesticides targeting adult mosquitoes is scheduled over Wynwood as well as surrounding areas, and tablets of larvae-eating bacteria are being dropped into storm drains throughout Miami-Dade County just in case. An outdoor social space, the Wynwood Yard, has announced that two employees tested positive for Zika, and are doing well. The post said the venue re-opened only after ensuring its safety for staff and customers.

ZIKA CONCERNS NOT STOPPING TRAVELERS FROM VISITING FLORIDA via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The University of Florida’s Tourism Crisis Management Initiative found more than 70 percent of potential visitors are concerned about the mosquito-borne virus. However, the study found about 10 percent of potential visitors have actually changed their travel plans. There are more than 480 cases of Zika virus in Florida. According to the Department of Health, 25 of those cases aren’t travel related and are believed to have been transmitted by a mosquito bite. University of Florida researchers surveyed 828 potential domestic visitors who planned to travel to Florida within the next six months. The survey, which was conducted three days after 15 locally acquired cases of Zika were discovered, found about 10 percent of would-be visitors changed their plans because of concerns over the virus. The report found 60 percent of people who changed their plans just postponed their trip. About 25 percent said they went somewhere else. Researchers found about 15 percent of people who changed their plans asked a medical professional for their opinion before making a decision. The University of Florida study found 82 percent of potential travelers were aware wearing insect repellant was a good protective behavior.

DAVID JOLLY: LET’S RETURN TO WASHINGTON TO ADDRESS ZIKA via the Sunshine State News — In June, I sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan expressing the urgency of this issue for states like Florida. However, Congress failed to pass a Zika funding package before breaking for the district work period. With Congress not scheduled to return to Washington, D.C. for nearly four weeks, I support calls for an emergency session to address this health issue and quickly reach a bicameral, bipartisan consensus package that can be enacted into law immediately. In recent weeks, we have worked through some of the concerns with the [residents’] proposal, and while I still prefer a package introduced by both U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, the debate has gone on too long. We cannot let our differences lead us to inaction … The good news is nearly $100 million per month is currently flowing to combat Zika as a result of reprogramming Ebola funds. After meeting with Pinellas County leadership, I can also tell you action is being taken locally. But we must pass a comprehensive funding package that will give health officials what they need to protect Floridians and others from the spread of Zika before this threat becomes a crisis.

MIAMI STUDENTS IN ZIKA ZONE CAN’T BRING REPELLENT TO SCHOOL via The Associated Press — Kids returning to school in a Miami neighborhood linked to Zika infections will be allowed to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts that don’t match their school uniforms, but still can’t bring mosquito repellent to campus … at a school board meeting, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said “aggressive application” of repellent should be done at home, not at school where some students may be allergic to the spray. Some 4,000 students attend six schools in the Wynwood arts district where health officials say 22 people have contracted Zika, a mosquito-borne virus. Classes resume Aug. 22 … state health workers will be stationed at each school to check for mosquito breeding sites and provide parents with repellent.

CAN A GIN AND TONIC REPEL ZIKA MOSQUITOES? via Laine Doss of the Miami New Times — With the Zika virus on so many minds these days, people are feverishly trying to control the mosquito population by spraying pesticides and getting rid of standing water. Maybe we should all just relax and have a nice gin and tonic. This classic cocktail was invented in the 1700s for British army officers in India as a way to entice soldiers to drink their quinine. The quinine in the tonic was an effective antimalarial and used in tropical regions. Soon the drink became a popular summer cocktail around the world. It was also found that the quinine in tonic water also served as a direct deterrent to mosquitoes. Though it sounds like fake science, the United States Department of Agriculture backs up this claim. In an August 2014 study, quinine worked like DEET or citronella to repel mosquitoes … Of course, tonic water now is mostly carbonated sugar, with only trace amounts of quinine. But if you’re going to have a cocktail anyway, make it a gin and tonic just to be on the safe side.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will host a Zika preparedness roundtable at 7:15 a.m. at the Delray Beach Health Center, 225 S. Congress Ave., 2nd Floor, in Delray Beach. Scott will then highlight job growth at 9:15 a.m. at HABCO Manufacturing, 22313 Boca Rio Road in Boca Raton. Scott is scheduled to announce second quarter tourism numbers at 2 p.m. at the Southwest Florida International Airport, 11000 Terminal Access Road in Fort Myers. Media is asked to call 239-590-4505 to RSVP for the event.

HAPPENING SUNDAY — OB/GYNS TALK ZIKA DURING ANNUAL MEETING — The Florida District of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has added a lecture focused on Zika to its annual meeting schedule. The lecture, called “Zika: Prevention, Testing and Transmission,” is scheduled for 11:20 a.m. at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek in Orlando. Dr. Kiran Perkins, a medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control, is scheduled to be the presenter.

SUGAR GROWERS SAY JOE NEGRON’S LAKE OKEECHOBEE PLAN WAS A SURPRISE via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — Negron’s announcement promoting a plan to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee to store excess water was a surprise to the landowners, according to Florida Crystals, which owns about 60 percent of the properties identified. In a statement, Florida Crystals said Negron met with a water management consultant for the company … but that [his] proposal was not part of the discussion. Negron said that he talked to the landowners and briefed “them on the plan that I’m putting forward.” “Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, whose growers’ land falls within the general footprints shown on the map today, was not invited by the senator,” a joint statement from Florida Crystals and the cooperative reads. Negron’s office said a senior policy adviser did reach out several times in early June to the cooperative, but messages left were not returned.

GREG EVERS, MIKE HILL CRITICIZE NEGRON’S PROPOSED EVERGLADES LAND BUY via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — Two Republican legislators from the Florida Panhandle … criticized incoming Senate president Negron‘s proposed land purchase for water storage south of Lake Okeechobee. “We have to work together to guarantee that conservation dollars for North Florida are protected,” Sen. Evers of Baker said in a joint news release with Rep. Hill of Pensacola Beach. Evers said the purchase wouldn’t fix South Florida’s water problem. And Hill said any water management plan should be based on “sound science” … “It should ensure that it compares the quality of the water before implementation, and include what is expected after implementation, to ensure a justifiable expenditure of resources,” Hill said. Evers is currently running for Congress and Hill is running for the state Senate. Both face Republican primary opponents.

SEMINOLE TRIBE CHALLENGES WATER POLLUTION LIMITS via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The battle over new limits on toxic chemicals that can be dumped into Florida’s surface waters isn’t over yet. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is seeking to invalidate a decision last month by the Environmental Regulation Commission to approve the controversial standards. … It also says the new standards fail to protect subsistence fishermen from exposure to the toxic compounds.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ALLISON WIMAN JOINS FLORIDA TAXWATCH via Florida Politics — The former senior nurse with the Florida Department of Health is joining TaxWatch as a health care policy analyst. The Tallahassee-based nonprofit watchdog organization announced the move Thursday. Her first day was Aug. 1. Wiman “brings more than two decades of experience in nursing and research, from nutrition and school nursing to risk assessments and childhood development,” a press release said. “Allison is a perfect fit for our world-class research team on health care topics including telehealth, expanding the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, and other issues that affect everyone in the Sunshine State,” said Dominic Calabro, the organization’s president and CEO.

PERSONNEL NOTE: MATT UBBEN TO FLORIDA TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION via Florida Politics — Ubben, who has been president of Floridians for Better Transportation (FBT), will be the next executive director of the commission, where he was public affairs director in the late 1990s. Ubben replaces Brad Swanson. The commission serves as the citizen’s oversight board for the Florida Department of Transportation, the state’s expressway authorities and its regional transportation authorities, according to its website. In his new post, Ubben “will work with nine governor-appointed board members from throughout the state to provide leadership to meet Florida’s transportation needs through policy guidance on issues of statewide importance and by maintaining oversight and public accountability for the Department of Transportation,” a press release said. He has a long background in the industry, with stints at the Florida Trucking Association, United Technologies Corp. and the Helicopter Association International.

APPOINTEDSusan Mullican to the Governor’s Mansion Commission.

GREENBERG TRAURIG HAD ANOTHER MILLION-DOLLAR QUARTER, COMPENSATION REPORTS SHOW via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee-based firm reported a median compensation of nearly $1.06 million for its work lobbying the Florida Legislature in the three-month period. The earnings mean the firm will likely once again be among the Top 5 earners in the state. “It’s an exciting time for Greenberg,” said Gus Corbella, the senior director of government law and policy. “We continue to grow, we continue to do well, and we continue to have clients who have great confidence in us.” Along with Corbella, the team at Greenberg Traurig is made up of Fred BaggettKerri BarshHayden DempseyLeslie DughiRichard FideiFred Karlinsky and Barry Richard. Top clients during the three-month period included Anchor Property and Casualty Insurance, Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company, and Intrexon Corporation. Records show the Seminole Tribe of Florida paid the firm between $30,000 and $39,999 for legislative services in the second quarter of the year. Other clients included Youth Services International and the Florida Dental Hygiene Association.


Brian Ballard, Bradley Burleson, Ballard Partners: TRC Engineers

Laura Boehmer, Southern Strategy Group: Viper Ventures

Donovan Brown, GDB Group: AmTrust Financial Services

Jennifer Gaviria, Nicholas Iarossi, Ronald LaFace Jr, Scott Ross, Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Jacksonville Greyhound Racing

Wayne Malaney, Wayne. R. Malaney: American Lawyer Media, Bailey Publishing & Communications, Florida Facility Managers Association

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices

FLORIDA’S WALT DISNEY WORLD PULLING PLUG ON FAMED ELECTRICAL PARADE via The Associated Press — Disney Parks says the famed Main Street Electrical Parade will end its run at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park in October. The parade has dazzled visitors with floats covered in colorful lights featuring Disney characters since it first debuted at the Florida resort in 1977 … the parade went on an eight-year hiatus at Disney World beginning in 1991. It ran again from 1999 to 2001 before the current version began rolling down Main Street nightly in 2010. Disney didn’t say … what would replace the parade. Disney says the parade will be shipped west for a limited run at Disneyland in California, where it ran from 1972 to 1996.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Matt Caldwell.

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.

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