Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 8.26.16 — 4 days until Florida’s primary election

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.


The color of the sky as far as I can see is gull gray … I lift my head from the pillow and then fall again … I get a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather

Pack your galoshes, and get to the polls.

The Florida Department of Emergency Management is monitoring a potential storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean.


It’s too early to say whether it will hit Florida, but voters should be prepared for a soggy day primary election.

And that weather forecast has Florida elections officials encouraging voters to get out and take advantage of the final days of early voting.

“While it is too premature to determine if voters will be impacted by adverse weather conditions, I encourage all Florida voters who have not voted by mail to get ahead of possible weather disturbances by voting early,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner in a statement Thursday.

At the 8 p.m. update Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said the system had become less organized and environmental conditions are not expected to be as favorable for development. Conditions could become more favorable over the weekend or early next week when the system is closer to the Florida Keys or over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Early voting continues through Saturday in most counties. Ten counties — including Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Miami-Dade — will offer early voting on Sunday.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1.3 million Floridians had already cast a ballot either by mail or in person ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.


House District 60 was considered a swing seat when Republican Dana Young captured it in 2010, but as she now attempts to advance to the state Senate, Democrats think they have a chance to turn it blue in the person of attorney David Singer.

He faces the survivor of the Republican battle Rebecca Smith and Jackie Toledo taking place August 30.

Smith has headed her own construction company, the A.D. Morgan Corporation (named after her two golden retrievers), since the late 1980’s. A former board member of the Tampa/Hillsborough Expressway Authority, Smith is the more establishment candidate, and has been endorsed by people by local heavyweights such as Will Weatherford, Jeff Atwater, Adam Putnam, Rick Baker and Mel Sembler.

She’s running against Toledo, a civil engineer and entrepreneur who ran a controversial and ultimately unsuccessful campaign for Tampa City Council in 2015. She’s back again this year, and has been running as the ‘Law and Order ‘candidate, complete with an ad touting her as “tough on crime” as well as the backing of the NRA.

But her relatively low-key campaign has veered off in recent weeks, as she made news with a mailer boasting that she would crack down on “illegal aliens” by pushing to repeal two immigration bills that the GOP-led Legislature and Governor Rick Scott signed in 2014. That was followed by the embarrassing admission that her husband, immigration attorney Jose Toledo, had helped bring Honduran undocumented immigrants across the Mexican border into Texas in 2014.

“Spouses don’t always agree on everything and this is one of those instances,” said Ryan Wiggins, a spokesperson for Toledo’s campaign. “While her husband has a law practice to run, it is Jackie, not her husband, who is running for office. Jackie stands by what she has already said on this issue.”

Smith has stayed quiet, and it remains to be seen how Toledo’s get tough on crime stance will appeal to the voters of a district that voted for Barack Obama in 2012.

An interesting factoid: Toledo received more votes than Smith at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob, the bastion of the Hillsborough County businesses establishment Singer received the most votes at that forum).

Smith has raised $403,000 in the race, $218,000 from  her own pocket. Toledo has raised just under $150,000, which includes a $25,000 loan to her own campaign.

Another race that encompasses most of the city of Tampa is the House District 61 contest in the seat that currently is being held by Ed Narain.

Three Democrats (and no Republicans) are vying for this heavily Democratic-oriented seat: Attorney Sean Shaw, East Tampa businesswoman and activist Dianne Hart, and environmental engineer and vocational trainer Walter L. Smith III.

For Shaw, it’s his second shot at the seat, which he lost in a contentious battle with Narain in 2014. One of the knocks on Sean at the time was that he was something of a carpetbagger, with deeper roots in Tallahassee than in Hillsborough. It’s two years later now, and there’s less of that talk in the district, but his task is no less formidable against Hart, who has been entrenched in the community for decades.

That history of community involvement was noted by the Tampa Bay Times when they announced they were backing her in the race. “As a legislator, Hart could make a bigger impact in the level of constituent service she already provides,” the newspaper wrote.

Had also has the support of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, former Police Chief Jane Castor and the West Central Florida Federation of Labor.

Shaw is backed by the influential Florida Sentinel-Bulletin, the Florida Democratic Progressive Caucus, and outgoing Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner.

He supports raising the minimum wage in Florida to $15 an hour, and has sent out mailers with members of the “Fight for $15” movement included. That’s become an issue in the campaign, as Hart is backed by the Florida Retail Federation, which has strongly come out in opposition of a $15 minimum wage.

Like Shaw, Walter Smith also has a Tallahassee pedigree, as he was born in the state capital while his father — Walter L. Smith — served as president of Florida A&M University. Smith has talked on the trail about the economic divide between the thriving parts of downtown Tampa versus the rest of the city, name checking West Tampa, East Tampa, Sulphur Springs and East Ybor City. “This is the area where we’re forgetting about those people,” Smith said. “We’re detached. You need somebody who is attached.”

Shaw has raised $87,559, Hart $44,610 and Smith $15,291.

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THE PRESIDENTIAL TRAIL RUNS THROUGH THE SUNSHINE STATE — The Democratic vice presidential nominee is spending the weekend in Florida. Kaine will kick off his two-day swing in Tallahassee with a voter registration kick-off at 11:30 a.m. at “The Set” at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, 1628 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. He’ll then take a 1 p.m. tour of Domi Station, 914 Railroad Avenue. On Saturday, Kaine will meet with local elected officials in South Florida at 10:30 a.m. at the Southwest Focal Point Center, 301 NW 103rd Ave. in Pembroke Pines. He’ll then take a 2 p.m. tour of Design South Florida, 14374 Commerce Way in Miami Lakes. Not to be outdone, Republican VP hopeful Mike Pence is expected to attend a fundraiser in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. The event is hosted by Brian Ballard, Ambassador Mel Sembler, and Attorney General Pam Bondi, among others.

LATEST MASON-DIXON POLL OF FLORIDA: Hillary Clinton 44 percent, Donald Trump 42 percent.

JEB BUSH RIPS ‘MORPHING,’ ‘ABHORRENT’ DONALD TRUMP ON IMMIGRATION via Nick Gass of POLITICO – “Well, I can only say that whatever his views are this morning, they might change this afternoon, and they were different than they were last night, and they’ll be different tomorrow,” the former governor told WABC Radio’s Rita Cosby in an interview … Bush, whose own campaign hands have expressed similar sentiments, remarked that he could not specifically comment on Trump‘s views because “they seem to be ever, ever changing, depending on what crowd he’s in front of” … “Sounds like a typical politician, by the way, where you get in front of one crowd and say one thing, and then say something else to another crowd that may want to hear a different view,” Bush continued. “All the things that Donald Trump railed against, he seems to be morphing into — it’s kind of disturbing.” As far as whether he sees Trump coming around to his views, Bush could not say. “I don’t know what to believe about a guy who doesn’t believe in things. I mean he doesn’t … this is all a game,” Bush said. “He doesn’t … his views will change based on the feedback he gets from a crowd, or, you know, what he thinks he has to do. Life is too complex. For me I couldn’t do that. I have to believe what I believe, and if it’s popular, great, if it’s not, I try to get better at presenting my views. But shifting my views because, because it’s political to do it? That’s what politicians do in this country, that’s what Trump is trying to do right now. I find it abhorrent.”

LATEST FLORIDA VOTER FIGURES – As of Thursday afternoon, 1,204,310 Floridians have cast either vote-by-mail (900,531) or early in-person ballots (303,779); 35 percent of the 2,411,755 mail-in ballots provided have been returned: 435,574 Republican (39 percent of 1,062,358 provided), 346,905 Democrat (36 percent of 915,879 provided) and 118,052 NPA/other (26 percent of 433,518 provided). As for early in-person voting, 145,753 Republicans, 135,880 Democrats and 145,753 NPA/others have cast ballots. Total early voting turnout stands at 9 percent of 12,379,292 registered Florida voters (13 percent Republican; 10 percent Democrat; 8 percent NPA/other).

‘WE’RE IN UNPRECEDENTED TERRITORY’ WITH UNLIKELY VOTERS WEIGHING IN ON FLORIDA’S PRIMARIES via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Almost half of the mail ballots returned so far for Tuesday’s primary election have come from Floridians who voted in either one or zero of the last four primary elections in Florida. That means a big, decisive chunk of the vote will come from Floridians who have not been polled, and potentially not courted, targeted or accounted for by countless campaigns across the state. “This is huge,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Strategy for the Florida Chamber and one of the foremost experts on Florida campaigns and politics. “I can envision election night when the votes are counted that certain people win that nobody thought had a chance, and that being attributed to this trend.” As of Thursday morning, more than 855,000 primary ballots had been cast by mail. More than a quarter of those votes came from Floridians who had not voted in the last four primaries and another 20 percent from people who voted in just one of the last four primaries. In other words, these are not “likely voters” surveyed by most pollsters or targeted by sophisticated political campaigns. The trend applies to Democrats and Republicans alike and across the state, said Johnson, who was shocked when she first spotted the trend developing weeks ago. “I believe there are going to be more zeros and ones that vote absentee than threes and fours…We’re in unprecedented, unchartered territory,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson. “Nobody’s been polling these people, nobody’s been marketing to these people.”

POLL: MARCO RUBIO, PATRICK MURPHY EASILY WIN PRIMARIES, BUT FACE CLOSE CONTEST IN NOVEMBER via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Rubio has a marginal 3-point lead over Democratic Congressman Murphy, according to a new poll of likely Florida voters that indicates the race is close to tied. “It’s a competitive race. It’s not a slam dunk,” said Brad Coker, pollster for Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the three-day Florida survey of 625 voters … Coker said the Republican incumbent’s 46-43 percent lead over Murphy can be considered a tie because of the poll’s 3-point error margin. He said Murphy has room to grow because he’s relatively unknown. Both men are more liked than disliked, but only 22 percent are unfamiliar with Rubio while 59 percent say they don’t know enough about Murphy. However, the bilingual Rubio has a base in the Democrats’ stronghold of Miami-Dade County and can pull more Hispanic votes than most Republicans, Coker said. Murphy still leads among Hispanics in the Mason-Dixon poll, but by 49-41 percent. Murphy also dominates the black vote, beating Rubio 79-12 percent. Rubio has a sizable lead among non-Hispanic white voters, 53-36 percent. Men support Rubio 50-38 percent; women favor Murphy 47-43 percent. An X-factor in the race: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had been struggling in recent Florida polls.

MURPHY ON DEBATING RUBIO: “YES, ABSOLUTELY” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – “We’re about 75 days out, things are getting heated now,” he said in Miami Beach … Murphy, who recently is polling within the margin of error against Rubio, did not hesitate when asked if he’ll debate Rubio. “Yes, absolutely,” Murphy said. “I’ve always debated my opponents. I had a great debate with Congressman Allen WestCarl Domino my last opponent…I look forward to debating Senator Rubio because there is going to be a very sharp contrast.” Murphy did not offer set terms for a potential debate, saying “Our teams will, I’m sure, be in touch with those terms but any forum where we can exchange ideas I look forward to.” However, Murphy made similar comments earlier in the primary phase of this campaign but ultimately didn’t follow through on his pledge. Murphy generally avoided public forums where he would have shared the stage with his Democratic rivals, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and Miami attorney Pam Keith.

AFP TO START CANVASSING AGAINST MURPHY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The Koch Brothers-aligned conservative nonprofit is spending nearly $60,000 to pay canvassing staff to go door-to-door talking to voters. The group backs Sen. Marco Rubio, and the spending is specifically listed as opposing Democrat Murphy. It’s the most the group is spending in its most recent canvassing efforts, according to Federal Election Commission filings. “We’ve been growing our footprint and our activists and staff have been canvassing door-to-door spreading our message all across the state,” said Andres Malave, communications director in Florida for Americans for Prosperity. The group has long backed Rubio, who will be speaking at their Defending the American Dream Summit next month in Orlando.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Murphy will hold a veterans’ roundtable with Bunker Labs at 1 p.m. at Level Office, 25 N. Market Street in Jacksonville. Media is asked to RSVP to

HAPPENING SATURDAY – RUBIO RALLY SUPPORTERS IN ST. AUGUSTINE, JACKSONVILLE Rubio will hold a get-out-the-vet event at 9 a.m. Saturday at 157 King Street in St. Augustine. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. Media is asked to RSVP to by 7 a.m. on Saturday. Rubio will then attend the grand opening of the Republican Party of Florida’s regional volunteer headquarters, 3428 Beach Blvd., in Jacksonville. The event is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., and doors open at noon. Media is asked to RSVP to by 9 a.m. on Saturday.

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CHAMBER POLL FINDS 70% SUPPORT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY AMENDMENT via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Seventy percent of Florida voters support a renewable energy tax credit on next week’s ballot, according to partial results from a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll … Amendment 4 would extend from residential to commercial properties a tax break for renewable energy source devices. The proposal has support from environmental and business groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and there is no organized opposition. The poll of 258 Democrats, 249 Republicans and 101 others found that 70 percent said they would vote for it; 14 percent would vote against it. “Amendment 4 on the Aug. 30 primary ballot will bring more solar jobs to Florida and help diversify our energy grid,” Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg, said in a statement from the chamber. “This poll shows broad bipartisan support for solar in Florida, and everyone regardless of party affiliation should vote yes on or by Aug. 30.”

WILL MARY THOMAS BE OWNED BY DC SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP CLUB FOR GROWTH? via Florida Politics – What does it say when a candidate is backed primarily by a single special interest group? A majority of the nearly $1.6 million benefiting CD 2 Republican hopeful Thomas seems to come from a single source — the conservative action group Club for Growth. The group … making a major play in CD 2. According to Federal Elections Commission records accessed Thursday, Club for Growth so far has sunk $756,028 into the CD 2 race. Hard-dollar contributions filed by the Thomas Campaign reported Club for Growth bundling another $173,561, making an overall $929,589 the conservative action group has either directly given or bundled. In addition, FEC reports also show $838,941 in receipts for Thomas (a number that includes money bundled by Club for Growth). This makes $1,594,969 in total dollars for Thomas’ campaign, 58 percent of which can be directly attributed to a single special interest group. When a single group has a majority interest in your campaign, it leads to an obvious question — who will own Mary Thomas should she win CD 2?

THE FIREBOMBING OF SUSANNAH RANDOLPH via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Randolph’s campaign for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is spending much of its last week before the primary putting out fires from a political equivalent of a Molotov cocktail thrown her way — by a political operative going public with a troubling story involving Randolph. Starting two weeks ago, Randolph, running as the true-blue progressive candidate with the lifelong reputation as a staunch feminist, has been the target in Facebook and blog posts authored by Holly Fussell, alleging that Randolph ignored complaints about sexual harassment of Fussell by a man on staff. And that man allegedly eventually raped Fussell, though Fussell wrote that Randolph bears no blame for that. Until now Fussell was offering slim detail … Fussell, now 23 and living in Silver Spring, Maryland, responded …  by answering a list of written questions. She still is not naming the alleged rapist, saying she’s declining to do so on the advice of her attorney. However, she said she’s intending to file criminal charges or a lawsuit — or both — against the man, and he will be named then. Until now, no one has looked into Fussell’s story, though it is echoing around the internet through other bloggers and social media, which are adding nothing new except judgments against Randolph. The vague allegations left Randolph and her staff little to respond to, except to deny that anything like that ever happened. After hearing the latest details offered by Fussell, they still are maintaining that nothing like that ever happened.

BRIAN MAST DIDN’T THINK RICK KOZELL’S SUGAR ATTACK WAS SWEET via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post – Kozell turned a question on another topic into an attack on Mastduring a debate … between Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives District 18 seat. Kozell, a small-business owner, insinuated that Mast was in the pocket of the sugar industry. Mast, a special forces veteran who lost both legs during an improvised explosive device explosion in Afghanistan, didn’t take too kindly to the suggestion, using a break in taping to call Kozell “a P.O.S.” … “I was completely taken aback by his comments,” Mast said after the debate, which will be aired by … WPTV Channel 5, during its To the Point show on Sunday at 10 a.m. “I was very surprised.” Kozell didn’t relent during the debate, saying Mast accepted contributions from the sugar industry and raised more money during a fundraiser hosted by someone in the industry. Mast said he returned the sugar money and raised “very little” during the fundraiser.

TIM CANOVA AD SAYS DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ FLIP FLOPPED ON FRACKING, MEDICAL MARIJUANA via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – In an Aug. 14 debate on CBS4, Wasserman Schultz sounded open to fracking in Florida. Host Jim DeFede asked: “So you are open to fracking as a possibility in Florida?” She replied: “As long as we have significant regulations.” When the Miami Herald sent her spokesman a list of questions asking what type of regulations she wants, the campaign sent a statement saying she supports a state ban. “Let me be clear, I am against fracking, especially in Florida,” she said in a statement. The ad also accuses Wasserman Schultz of flip flopping on medical marijuana, payday lending and Trans Pacific Partnership … She voted to fast track TPP in 2015 but recently told the Sun Sentinel that she is still evaluating it.

TIM CANOVA HAS NOW RECEIVED MORE THAN 200,000 INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO HIS CAMPAIGN FOR CD 23 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Canova has now raised more than $3.5 million since he announced his candidacy in January, with an average individual donation of just $22. This month alone, the campaign says it has raised nearly $850,000 in online donations. Canova’s reliance on so many small donations is reminiscent of the insurgent presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, who has endorsed Canova’s candidacy. However, he isn’t scheduled to campaign with Canova, despite the fact that he said he might do so back in July. According to a Florida Atlantic University survey published in Sunday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Wasserman Schultz leads Canova by 10 percentage points, 50 percent to 40 percent. Wasserman Schultz has served as representative for the district since 2004. Canova also released another ad today, where he bashes Wasserman Schultz for not coming out against fracking. The name of the ad is, “Fracking Flip-Flop.”

WILL SCOTT FUHRMAN BECOME THE ‘ACCIDENTAL CONGRESSMAN?’ via Florida Politics – Could Fuhrman, challenging Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, be this year’s Tim Mahoney? And is there a path for Fuhrman to become 2016’s “accidental” member of Congress that doesn’t involve Ros-Lehtinen having a Mark Foley-like implosion? Increasingly, the answer to both questions keeps inching toward “yes.” The with that Cook Political Report recently included CD 27 in its list of 45 seats that moved from the “safe Republican” column to “likely Republican.” POLITICO likewise featured Fuhrman in an Aug. 19 story about Florida House Republicans’ anxieties over the political risk they face having failed to find Zika research and response before adjourning for summer recess … [The] Miami Herald also mentioned the Ros-Lehtinen/Fuhrman race in the context of Zika. Maybe a combination of her longevity and respect in Miami, her #NeverTrump status, and #LittleMarco making ticket splitting fashionable among Cuban Republicans, will save Ileana this November. Maybe she can defy demography and partisanship and a 20-plus point Hillary Clinton victory in the 27th. Maybe the NRCC will have money to spend bailing out an incumbent who they never calculated in a million years would be vulnerable. Maybe. And maybe Scott Fuhrman becomes the accidental congressman from Florida’s 27th Congressional District. The cliché that, “stranger things have happened,” is perhaps more true in this election cycle, in this state, than it has ever been before.

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SD 11 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE GARY SIPLIN SAYS TAX LIENS ARE CONTESTED, NOT A CONCERN via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Siplin, a former state senator seeking another shot at the Florida Senate … dismissed more than $243,000 of federal tax liens as contested taxes that he expects will go away through federal appeals processes. “All I know is according to my accountant, everything is fine,” Siplin said about the liens, on file with the Orange County Comptroller. “Whatever taxes that we owe — we don’t believe we owe. we’re appealing them.” Siplin said he does not know what the tax liens are for. There are nine tax liens., brought by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for various debts the IRS claims from years spanning 2003 to 2013. Siplin is in a hotly contested, four-way Aug. 30 Democratic primary race with state Rep. Randolph Bracy, activist Chuck O’Neal and former state Rep. Bob Sindler, also a former Orange County Commissioner.

WE POLLED THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY IN SENATE DISTRICT 19; YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT via Florida Politics — A new poll by St. Pete Polls found the race is essentially tied, proving the outcome will depend heavily on ground game and get-out-the-vote efforts in the final days of primary. The survey, conducted for, found 26 percent of Democratic voters said they were backing Ed NarainDarryl Rouson is in second with 24 percent, followed by Betty Reed with 19 percent. Augie Ribeiro is polling at 17 percent, while 14 percent of voters said they were undecided. More than half (54 percent) of respondents said they had already voted in the primary.

SOUTHERN HERITAGE GROUP SLAMS ED NARAIN via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – A Southern heritage group is giving Narain an F-minus grade as he campaigns to advance to Florida’s Senate District 19 race, but he’s not complaining about it. Among the pieces of legislation the Tampa House Democratic District 61 representative has boasted about on the campaign trail is his bill to remove and replace the statue of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith from the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Smith was a St. Augustine native who served as a Confederate army general during the Civil War. The law called on the Florida Arts Council and the Department of State to estimate the costs of replacing the statue, including the costs associated with designing and creating a new statue, removing the current statue, and any unveiling ceremony. While some Republicans in the Legislature didn’t support it, the bill still passed in the House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Scott. One group not pleased with that bill was the group Save Southern Heritage, who is giving Narain that F-minus rating. They also claim a candidate survey he filled out recently shows he also would like to dig up the graves of American Veterans who served for the South if they are buried in public parks or cemeteries. When contacted, Narain says he began filling out the survey, but never completed it, because he felt it was irrelevant to his candidacy or what he believes in.

— “Multi-millionaire Senate candidate Gary Farmer’s unpaid tax bill” via Buddy Nevins of

GUN ADVOCATES AND BLOOD DRINKING LIBERTARIAN PLAN MARCH TO “IMPEACH” MIGUEL DIAZ DE LA PORTILLA via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times – This past February … Diaz de la Portilla used his powers as chairman of the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee to prevent the Senate from voting on two controversial pro-gun laws. One would have allowed 1.5 million Floridians with concealed-weapons permits to openly carry handguns. The other would have allowed permit-holders to take concealed guns onto college campuses. Now, some of those advocates are planning a march outside Diaz de la Portilla’s Coral Gables house — and they’re taking along noted goat-blood-drinking Libertarian candidate Augustus Sol Invictus. For Diaz de la Portilla, it’s strange to be labeled a liberal-controlled gun opponent. For one, he’s a Republican. For another, he has a concealed-carry permit himself. But he believes those bills he killed wouldn’t have made anyone in Florida safer. That didn’t stop someone from editing Diaz de la Portilla’s Wikipedia page in February to say he ignored “his role as a servant to the people” … Augustus Sol Invictus, one of two Libertarian Party candidates for the U.S. Senate seat that Marco Rubio currently holds, will attend the rally. Invictus has made headlines for his unorthodox campaign.

BERNIE SANDERS POLITICAL GROUP BACKS DWIGHT BULLARD via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Our Revolution, the group spun off from the presidential campaign of Sanders, has endorsed Democratic state Sen. Bullard. “Senator Bullard has served as a leader in the area of education due to his outstanding leadership and commitment to education, both as a teacher and a policymaker,” the group wrote on its website. Bullard is running in a Democratic primary against Andrew Korge. The winner primary will face Rep. Frank Artiles in the general election for Senate District 40, which is in Miami. Our Revolution was formed with the mission of continuing the policy proposals Sanders put forward when he ran for president. The group is also developing an infrastructure to recruit and support progressive candidates. It is a 501(c)4, which means it does not have to disclose its donors.

DIRECT MAIL ROUND-UP: CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP FUND TAKES A SWING AT ERIN GRALL IN HD 54 via Florida Politics — Mailers from the “Conservative Leadership Fund” hit mailboxes in House District 54 comparing Erin Grall to a grizzly bear. The mailer claims Grall is a “liberal trial lawyer … disguising herself as a friend of small businesses,” but has spent her career attacking them.” “Erin and her trial bar friends attacked every lawsuit reform measure advocated by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Governor Rick Scott,” the mailer reads. “Conservative Leadership Fund,” a Tallahassee-based political committee, has received $303,546 since June. Records show “Floridians for Equitable Government,” a political committee backing Doug Holder, has given the committee $180,000. The committee also received $80,000 from the “Florida Conservative Action Fund” and $40,000 from Citizens for Florida Prosperity. Grall faces Republicans Dale GladingGreg MacKay and Lange Sykes are vying to replace Rep. Debbie Mayfield in House District 54. Grall has received the backing of Senate President Designate Joe Negronand Carole Jean Jordan, the former chairwoman Republican Party of Florida and the Indian River County tax collector. Sykes has been endorsed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has been running digital spots in the district to support him. Holder has also been endorsed by the Florida Chamber.



BEN DIAMOND AND ERIC LYNN CONFRONT EACH DURING WMNF RADIO DEBATE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Those two exchanges came toward the conclusion of a 38-minute debate on Tampa radio station WMNF 88.5 … when the two candidates were allowed to question each other in a debate … The two St. Petersburg-based Democrats are challenging each other in the seat that has been occupied by Dwight Dudley since 2012, and are ideologically very similar on most of the important issues going into Tuesday’s primary election. “I’ve been working on a number of local issues for a while,” Diamond said in leading up to his question to Lynn, referring to his work on the PSTA board and his support for 2014’s Amendment One ballot measure. What have you done? he essentially asked his primary opponent. Lynn attempted to turn the tables as he considered his response, indirectly calling out Diamond for lacking sufficient roots in Pinellas. “I know that you’re new to St. Pete, Ben, that you just moved here two years ago.” He went on to say he was most proud of being an advocate for veterans in the county … When it was his turn to ask a question, Lynn reminded listeners about a controversial issue that took place back in 2013, when Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co., a Pinellas County firm that had given $110,000 to Gov. Rick Scott‘s re-election campaign, was rewarded when the Citizen’s Property Insurance Corp. board of governors (the insurer of last resort in Florida) approved a deal that could have ended up paying Heritage up to $52 million to take over 60,000 insurance policies … Scott’s office said the governor played no role in the $52-million deal at Citizens, and insisted campaign contributions were not a factor. Lynn then got to the point, saying that same Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Company has contributed $20,000 to Diamond’s political action committee, “Protecting Pinellas Families.”

GOOD READ – INSIDE FACEBOOK’S (TOTALLY INSANE, UNINTENTIONALLY GIGANTIC, HYPERPARTISAN) POLITICAL MEDIA MACHINE via John Herrman of The New York Times Magazine – Facebook is hosting a huge portion of the political conversation in America. … a new and distinctive sort of operation that has become hard to miss: political news and advocacy pages made specifically for Facebook, uniquely positioned and cleverly engineered to reach audiences exclusively in the context of the news feed. These are news sources that essentially do not exist outside of Facebook, and you’ve probably never heard of them. … Individually, these pages have meaningful audiences, but cumulatively, their audience is gigantic: tens of millions of people. On Facebook, they rival the reach of their better-funded counterparts in the political media, whether corporate giants like CNN or The New York Times … They are, perhaps, the purest expression of Facebook’s design and of the incentives coded into its algorithm – a system that has already reshaped the web and has now inherited, for better or for worse, a great deal of America’s political discourse.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a Zika preparedness round table at 10:30 a.m. at Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, 1920 Meridian Ave. in Miami Beach. Scott will then head to Hialeah to highlight job growth at 3 p.m. at Hot Pandeyuca, 6043 N.W. 16th Street, Suite A-22 in Hialeah.

TWEET, TWEET: @ochocinco: @FLGovScott Rick I love you man, can we have a cigar & cafe con leche tomorrow, I’m attending The Roundtable on Miami Beach.

FLORIDA TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS HIT RECORD LEVEL via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – The partial total of 92,011 scholarships is up 17 percent from a year ago, and more than 550 percent from 2005. The state’s new Gardiner education savings account also served 5,844 students with special needs. A second, smaller scholarship authorizer did not issue numbers. “Florida is a national leader in expanding educational opportunity, and the latest numbers again show that parents appreciate the power to access additional options that can best serve their children,” Step Up president Doug Tuthill, said in a news release. “We are proud to be part of this growing, bipartisan movement to strengthen public education.” The statistics arrived just days after an appeals court dismissed the Florida Education Association’s challenge to the program, saying the union lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The court found that the tax credit scholarship money is not part of the state budget, as it’s donated to private organizations that distribute the funds. The donors then get a tax credit from the state. This year, the average income level for scholarship recipients was $24,075, or 4.4 percent above poverty. Sixty-nine percent of scholarship students are black or Hispanic.

VISIT FLORIDA PULLS PLUG ON PITBULL CONTRACT via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Visit Florida, a public-private tourism promotion group, has not renewed its contract with the rap superstar to be a “brand ambassador” for the state. Under the agreement, Pitbull was required to promote Visit Florida to his millions of followers on social media and use his 2014 “Sexy Beaches” single as a marketing video for Visit Florida. The contract, the terms of which were never revealed, expired on June 30. “With the recent release of his music video for ‘Sexy Beaches’ and his ongoing concert season, Visit Florida will continue to derive benefit from this contract beyond the end of the fiscal year,” Visit Florida spokeswoman Kathy Torian stated in an email. “The potential for future contracts have not been determined at this time.”

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT RULES DOCTORS CAN BE LIABLE IF PATIENTS COMMIT SUICIDE via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – In a decision that could influence how patients are treated for depression, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a physician could be sued for medical malpractice for a patient’s suicide. In a 5-2 decision, the court opined that while a Florida physician does not have a “duty” to prevent suicide for an outpatient – or a patient who is not in a hospital – the physician does have a statutory obligation to treat a patient within the standard of care. “Although the inpatient duty to prevent suicide does not apply here, there still existed a statutory duty under section 766.102 to treat the decedent in accordance with the standard of care,” Justice Peggy Quince wrote for the majority, which included Justices Barbara ParienteJorge LabargaR. Fred Lewis and James E.C, Perry. The more conservative judges – Charles Canady and Ricky Polston -dissented, but did not write a separate opinion. The underlying case stems from the October 2008 suicide of Jacqueline Granicz, who hanged herself. Her husband, Robert Granicz, sued the physician, Joseph S. Chirillo, and Millennium Physician Group, for medical malpractice. Granicz started taking the antidepressant Effexor in 2005, but stopped in 2008, court records show. Granicz’s husband … sued the physician and his medical group, alleging Chirillo was negligent for failing to recognize that the patient was depressed, for failing to speak with her directly and for failing to conduct an evaluation before prescribing Lexapro.

ORLANDO HEALTH, FLORIDA HOSPITAL WON’T BILL PULSE SHOOTING VICTIMS via Kate Santich and Christal Hayes of the Orlando Sentinel – Instead, the hospitals will write off an estimated $5.5 million or more in care. “The Pulse shooting was a horrendous tragedy for the victims, their families and our entire community,” Orlando Health President and CEO David Strong said. “During this very trying time, many organizations, individuals and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support. This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward.” Its main hospital — Orlando Regional Medical Center — treated 44 of the more than 50 victims who needed immediate medical attention from the June 12 attack that killed 49 people. The nightclub is only a couple of blocks from the Level 1 trauma center. Nine of the Pulse patients died shortly after arriving at ORMC, and their families also will not be charged, hospital officials said. One victim remains hospitalized there. At Orlando Health, bills will be sent to health insurers for patients who had coverage, but whatever those policies don’t cover will be absorbed by the hospital chain, said spokeswoman Kena Lewis. At Florida Hospital, which treated a dozen of the clubgoers, officials said they would not even bill the victims’ insurance for the treatment, nor will they bill for follow-up surgeries the survivors may need.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ROBIN SPILLIAS PROMOTED AT LEADINGAGE FLORIDA via Florida Politics — She’ll be Director of Membership, the organization announced. Spillias will direct and coordinate all activities related to membership recruitment, retention, renewal, and benefits. “Robin is a problem-solver, an effective communicator, and a creative thinker,” LeadingAge Florida President & CEO Steve Bahmer said in a statement. Spillias said she was “excited about the possibilities ahead of me … I look forward to reaching-out to prospective members.” LeadingAge Florida was formerly known as Florida Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Founded in 1963, it represents continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), nursing homes and assisted living facilities, among others.


Brian Ballard, Justin Sayfie, Ballard Partners: Bequest, Inc.

Lora Goldwater: Cheyne Capital

John Harris, GrayRobinson: Mush, Inc.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Christian Camara, our friend Joy Friedman, Jonathan Rees, and Rep. Irv Slosberg.

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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