Sunburn for 8/25 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.


1. Over/under on Charlie Crist’s margin of victory?

2. Will Nan Rich immediately endorse Crist — or will she pull a Rod Smith and wait a few weeks?

3. George Sheldon or Perry Thurston? I’m betting Sheldon.

4. The real action this week in in a handful of legislative primaries; who will win the bruising races in House District 40 and 74?

5. Will Florida State University handle its business versus Oklahoma State?


SaintPetersBlog’s second annual list of the “30 under 30″ – thirty rising stars in Florida politics who are 30 years old or younger – will be published in September.

Your suggestions for the next generation of top operatives, lobbyists, staffers and politicians are welcomed.

Please email your nominations to [email protected] with your nominations.

The deadline for nominations is Sept 10.

P.S. Thank you to the sponsor of this series, Jennifer Green and Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.


Sunburn will be coming from Ft. Lauderdale through Wednesday to cover the Democratic primary. If you’d like to meet up, drop us a line.

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Taxes? Who wants to think about taxes around Labor Day?

But if you count on your tax refund and you’re one of the millions getting tax credits to help pay health insurance premiums under President Barack Obama’s law, it’s not too early.

Here’s why: If your income for 2014 is going to be higher than you estimated when you applied for health insurance, then complex connections between the health law and taxes can reduce or even eliminate your tax refund next year.

Maybe you’re collecting more commissions in an improving economy. Or your spouse got a better job. It could trigger an unwelcome surprise.

The danger is that as your income grows, you don’t qualify for as much of a tax credit. Any difference will come out of your tax refund, unless you have promptly reported the changes.

Nearly 7 million households have gotten health insurance tax credits, and major tax preparation companies say most of those consumers appear to be unaware of the risk.

The average tax credit for subsidized coverage on the new health insurance exchanges is $264 a month, or $3,168 for a full 12 months.

The average tax refund is about $2,690.

Having to pay back even as little as 10 percent of your tax credit can reduce your refund by several hundred dollars.

DEMOCRATS TO VOTE ON 2016 PRIMARY CALENDAR PLAN via Ken Thomas of the Associated Press

Leaders of the Democratic Party are preparing to approve a plan that sets the 2016 presidential calendar.

That calendar would begin with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016, followed by voting later that month in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The Democratic National Committee is expected to approve a 2016 framework that’s in line with plans pushed by Republicans.

Democrats are meeting Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

The Democrats’ plan would recommend that the New Hampshire primary be held on Feb. 9, followed by the Nevada caucuses no earlier than Feb. 20 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27. Other states could hold their contests from March 1 through the second Tuesday in June.

Party leaders were also voting on rules for its 2016 convention.

PAUL RYAN CLOSES 3-DAY FLORIDA TOUR via the Associated Press

U.S. Rep.Ryan, Mitt Romney’s choice as his vice presidential running mate, wrapped up a three-day swing through Florida.

Ryan visited Tallahassee, Brandon and Sarasota on Sunday to promote his new book, “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.”

He made stops in Pensacola, Destin, Panama City, Gainesville, The Villages and Kissimmee on Friday and Saturday.

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When he’s not dodging questions about his trip to the King Ranch, Congressman Steve Southerland is touting a bill to help struggling polluters. See, that socialist Clean Water Act messes with his BFFs at Florida Power and Light, the Florida Farm Bureau, and the Homebuilders Association. Dagnabbit, somebody has to stand up for run-off!

Southerland’s HR 5078, the Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 would block federal oversight of waterways and wetlands. The congressman came all the way to Tallahassee to hold a press conference, explaining that a proposed EPA rule imposes “crippling Washington mandates” on Florida’s alliteratively resonant “farms, forestry and family businesses.” In other words, the rule would preserve the Clean Water Act.

The press conference was supposed to be held on the steps of the Old Capitol: in a campaign video, those white columns and red-striped KFC awnings resonate with Southerland’s target demographic. But it was raining.

The congressman, the guy with the “More Freedom, Less Government!” sign, the reporters, the Chamber of Commerce lady, and the superfluity of white guys in blazers and khakis, retreated to the New Capitol. Associated Industries of Florida’s Brewster Bevis (unless it was Bevis Brewster?) acted as emcee. Mr. Bevis had the silky manner of a small-town undertaker. Indeed, he’s the son of a Tallahassee undertaker and the cousin of the congressman. Who is also an undertaker. It’s the South. Ain’t you read Faulkner?


With days until the election, differences over key policy issues emerged among Republicans running for Florida’s 26th congressional district primary, as the candidates made their final pitches to primary voters.

Questions on sea-level rise, immigration and gay marriage revealed divisions among the four contenders on Facing South Florida, which aired with Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4. A fifth candidate, ex-Congressman David Rivera, declined to attend.

By the end, Carlos Curbelo, Ed MacDougall, Joe Martinez and Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck had agreed on plenty. But there was dissent in the very first question from investigative reporter Jim DeFede, who asked if all the candidates vying to represent Westchester to Key West would concur that — whatever the cause — seas are rising.

Yes, said the candidates — except for one.

“I’m not exactly sure,” said Martinez, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner. “I’m not a scientist, Jim.”

If that line sounds familiar, it’s because Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, has said the same thing about climate change, and has since been forced to deal with academics trying to persuade him into a debate on the subject.

The others shied away from saying rising seas have man-made causes and tried to focus on what to do about the problem. MacDougall, the Cutler Bay mayor, said the federal government should be more focused on energy independence and alternatives to fossil fuels. Curbelo, a Miami-Dade School Board member, said the U.S. should help invest in improved infrastructure.


Circuit Judge Terry Lewis approved a new congressional map that been swiftly adopted earlier this month during a special session. But he agreed with attorneys for the Legislature that there was no time to implement the new map before voters head to the polls this year.

David King, an attorney for the groups that sued the Legislature over the district boundaries, said they were disappointed with the decision and planned to appeal the ruling. The groups had been heartened by the judge’s July ruling invalidating the 2012 map, but said the redrawn map offered little more than cosmetic changes and was still unconstitutional. They had hoped the judge would either adopt a map proposed by them or draw up one on his own.

Voters in 2010 passed the “Fair Districts” amendment that says legislators cannot draw up districts to favor incumbents or a political party, a practice known as gerrymandering. The League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups that sued contended GOP consultants used a “shadow” process in 2012 to draw districts that benefited Republicans and violated the new standards.

Lewis agreed there was enough evidence to show that consultants helped manipulate the process and ruled that two districts were invalid. The two districts flagged by Lewis were a sprawling district held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown and a central Florida district held by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, a Republican.

Legislators this month adopted a new map that alters seven of the state’s existing 27 districts and shifts nearly 400,000 voters in central and north Florida. But the new map keeps intact to a large degree Brown’s district, which stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando and at one point is no wider than a highway bridge. The map is not expected to make any significant changes to the makeup of Florida’s congressional delegation, which is now split between 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats.


“We are grateful for Judge Lewis’ decision today to uphold the congressional district map and implementation schedule passed by a bipartisan majority during the recent special session. The court’s ruling affirms the constitutionally faithful work of our Senate and House redistricting committees, chaired by Senator Galvano and Representative Corcoran. This decision preserves the voting rights of millions of Floridians, including our overseas military and their families who have already cast ballots in this election as well as many thousands of in-state Floridians who have voted early and absentee. I particularly appreciate the advocacy of the Florida NAACP, which supported the Legislature throughout the legal proceedings and whose counsel argued effectively that if the plaintiffs would have prevailed, minority voting rights would be sacrificed in a partisan scheme to elect white Democrats. — Senate President Don Gaetz

“I am sure this fight is far from over. Today’s ruling misses the mark when it comes to guaranteeing that every vote will be cast in a constitutional drawn congressional district. I believe the requirements of the Fair Districts amendments have been ignored, and this ruling won’t help to resolve that.” — House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston

“We are disappointed and plan to ask the appellate courts to review Judge Lewis’ ruling.” — Florida League of Women Voters

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Gov. Scott will roll out a series of education proposals that touches on everything from high-stakes testing to the cost of college and represents a break from some of the signature moves put in place by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Scott wants to create an independent committee to review the state’s contentious school standards even though a year ago he called for public hearings that resulted in tweaks to the standards based primarily on Common Core. That new committee could come up with additional changes to the standards now in place in Florida’s classrooms.

The Republican incumbent governor also says he will direct Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to do a “thorough and comprehensive investigation” of the use of standardized tests that were the centerpiece of the overhaul initiated when Bush was governor. Bush tied the state’s A-to-F grading of schools, which includes sanctions and rewards, to how students performed on standardized tests.

Scott also will propose a higher education platform that maintains that if he wins re-election he would continue to keep tuition rates down and he will also find a way to drive down college textbooks costs. He also wants to force state universities to disclose more information about the cost of courses and fees.

Education, along with jobs and the economy, is quickly becoming a flashpoint in this year’s governor’s race where Scott remains essentially tied with Crist, who is favored in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. After getting hammered by Crist over school budget cuts he endorsed during his first year in office, Scott last week promised a $700 million increase to public schools for 2015. If legislators agree it would be a $50 increase in per-student funding over what it was during Crist’s first year in office without adjusting for inflation.

The rest of Scott’s platform also appears aimed at drawing a distinction between himself and Crist over Common Core even though the standards have the strong support of Bush, a popular GOP governor who already endorsed Scott. The standards have come under fire, especially from conservative activists, who contend they represent a federal takeover of education.


Gov. Scott launched Project Sunburst two years ago to give the public easy access to his emails and those of his staff and promised it would become an “unprecedented, transparent window into how state government works.” But, in practice, the Scott administration has erected barriers to public records, marginalized the use of Sunburst, and interpreted the state’s Sunshine laws in a way that open government advocates say has set the clock back on Florida’s open records tradition.

“They don’t turn over anything unless they get caught,’’ said Steve Andrews, a Tallahassee lawyer whose two-year legal battle over a property dispute with the state produced thousands of documents raising questions about many of the administration’s practices. Andrews spent 18 months getting copies of text messages that he was repeatedly told by the governor’s staff did not exist. He is suing the governor’s office for violating the state’s public records laws, alleging the records he has received are incomplete and, in some cases, altered.

Thousands of records obtained by Andrews and the Herald/Times indicate that the governor’s staff may have violated that policy when dealing with communication about politically-sensitive information, or when lobbyists and well-positioned Republicans want to communicate with the governor’s top advisers.

For example, when Department of Environmental Secretary Herschel Vinyard met the governor and staff from the governor and attorney general’s office at the governor’s mansion on a Sunday in February 2012, he arranged and discussed it with Scott’s then-deputy chief of staff, Carrie O’Rourke via text messages. Records show they were meeting to discuss, among other things, a potential settlement regarding the BP oil spill. Emails and text messages show that top members of the governor’s staff also routinely use private email accounts and personal cell phones to conduct public business, even though they are issued email accounts and cell phones from the state.


The gay-marriage saga in Florida has come to mirror the Samuel Beckett tragicomedy, “Waiting for Godot.”

In the Florida version, Gov. Scott and his Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi are the beleaguered characters, battered by trying to defend a gay-marriage-ban in Florida that has been found unconstitutional in five separate Florida court cases in the past six weeks.

Bondi has decided to stop making her vacuous arguments against gay marriage in Florida courts, opting instead to look toward the U.S. Supreme Court for deliverance.

But it turns out, Scalia might not be much help. That’s because he backed himself into an intellectual corner on gay marriage 11 years ago. Let me explain.

In 1986, a divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Georgia law against homosexual sex acts. The case, Bowers v. Hardwick, held that people engaging in homosexual sodomy were not protected by Constitutional rights because to do so would “cast aside millennia of moral teaching.”

The Bowers case stood until 11 years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas. The 6-3 decision in Lawrence v. Texas held that consensual sexual conduct was part of the individual liberties covered by the 14th Amendment under the Constitution.

Scalia disagreed, and in his dissent in the Lawrence case, he wrote that if moral disapproval of homosexuality sanctioned under the previous Bowers case was no longer valid, then gay people also would have the constitutional right to have their marriages recognized under law.

Bondi may have overlooked Scalia’s lament, but it wasn’t missed by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Hinkle, the Northern District of Florida judge who wrote a 33-page opinion this week to explain why he found the Florida ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

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You won’t find Nan Rich using the “L” word prematurely and neither will I.

Whatever the numbers after the final count in Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary — in terms of principles and persistence and downright graciousness — the former Senate minority leader cleaned everybody’s clock in 2014. Every candidate in every race.

For two years I watched Rich’s party leaders abuse her — starting in 2012 by virtually ignoring her candidacy announcement, as if she’d somehow insulted them by jumping into the race, to 2014 when they stomped on her like grapes in a Tuscan tub.

Rich, as I have pointed out, is no johnnie-come-lately on the blue team. She did more to earn party respect in 20 years than all her tormentors put together. Read her bio. No wonder Crist was such a tough sell to Rich’s long-time friends Bill and Hillary Clinton, when the Clintons arrived in Miami for a Democratic fundraiser earlier this year.

Most of us would have understood if party leadership argued with Rich as an equal — if they talked about her liabilities based, say, on her liberal views on taxation and gun control, which might fire up the base but turn off moderates in the November general election. But a real policy discussion to support their views? They paid her no such courtesy.

Having done their best to blend her into the woodwork — to lift not a finger to push her campaign statewide — they disparaged her lack of name recognition and paltry fundraising (by July, $11.3 million for Crist and $900,000 for Rich). Most of all, Rich wanted one thing: a televised debate with Crist. Several debates, preferably. She never got one.


Charlie Crist has ignored his Democratic opponent for nearly a year, and now voters will decide the soundness of his strategy in the party’s primary race for governor.

Crist is expected to roll up a big double-digit victory over Nan Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader whose lack of name identification was matched by her inability to mount an effective campaign that excited voters or garnered media attention.

Crist refused to debate Rich, focusing instead on Gov. Scott and inflaming Rich and her supporters in the process.

But voters don’t seem to be holding it against Crist, even in Rich’s home county of Broward, where Crist opened a regional headquarters, rented a beachfront apartment and will gather with supporters Tuesday night rather than in his usual place, his hometown of St. Petersburg.

Closest to home, Rich has not stirred much enthusiasm. Of the 1,300 registered Democrats in Rich’s precinct, only 59 have cast early and absentee ballots, a sign of low overall turnout in this Democrat-rich county.

Even if there’s a small Democratic turnout Tuesday across Florida, Crist said, he isn’t worried that it wouldn’t indicate the base of the party wasn’t ready to vote for him in the general election.

The state of the Democratic primary race — or non-race — underscores the challenges of Rich’s campaign and the Democratic Party in general.

Crist should win by a 20 percentage-point margin or more, insiders and observers say; if Rich gets more than 40 percent of the vote, it could indicate problems with Crist’s candidacy in the general election.


Crist …  will spend the last 24 hours of the primary race in a final frenzied push to reach out to volunteers and voters at several get-out-the-vote events statewide.

The statewide pre-primary tour will hit five cities in one day, with stops in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Wellington and Ft. Lauderdale. At each stop, Crist will visit a phone bank or canvass organized in advance of Tuesday’s Primary Election.

Crist’s GOTV tour starts at 9 a.m. with seniors at an event at Rosalind Villas, 1800 Edgewood West in Jacksonville, followed by 11 bank and canvass event at the Tampa field office, 3105 West Waters Avenue.

For the afternoon, Crist will visit three more GOTV events: 12:50 p.m. at the East Orlando field office, 11701 Orpington Street in Orlando;2:45 p.m. at the Wellington field office, 12794 West Forest Hill Boulevard, Suite 14; and the tour will finish at 4:20 p.m. in Ft. Lauderdale at the Sistrunk field Office, 1033 Northwest Sistrunk Boulevard.


It took weeks for Rod Smith to endorse Jim Davis for governor after their bruising 2006 Democratic primary, and in 2002 Janet Reno did not even concede the gubernatorial primary to Bill McBride for a week. Voting problems in south Florida had left the outcome in doubt.

This year Democrats are determined not to lose precious time struggling to unite before focusing on the general election. Party leaders are planning a couple ambitious unity rallies on Thursday.

Crist and Rich will be together in Orlando Thursday morning, along with George Sheldon and Perry Thurston, the rivals for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Sen. Bill Nelson and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be on hand, among others.

The gang will hold another unity rally Thursday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale.

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OUT-OF-STATE CONTRIBUTIONS SPIKE IN GOV’S RACE via Matt Dixon of the Naples Daily News

On May 24, Los Angeles was good to Crist’s gubernatorial campaign.

On that day, the former Republican governor and his committees picked up a quick $24,000 in campaign contributions, including $6,000 from legendary director Steven Spielberg. Crist has snagged more than $100,000 from The Golden State.

In November, Gov. Rick Scott held a campaign fundraiser at the office of Washington-based lobbying firm RBG Group. One of its founding partners is Haley Barbour, a former Mississippi governor and longtime rainmaker in national Republican politics.

As the campaigns travel the state giving stump speeches laced with regionalized talking points to appeal to whatever groups they are in front of, both are riding a growing wave of campaign cash from donors who live outside the Sunshine State.

The out-of-state contributions have helped both sides build the campaign framework needed in the homestretch of what’s expected to be one of the midterm’s hottest governor races.

The campaigns and committees aligned with them so far have brought in $15 million from out-of-state donors, with out-of-state groups pledging millions more.

To put that in perspective, through this point in 2010, Scott, his top Republican challenger, Bill McCollum, and Democratic nominee Alex Sink had brought in $7 million combined from non-Florida donors. In fact, Sink’s 2010 campaign and an affiliated committee raised a total of $18 million. At the time, it was a record for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Out of the total amount of contributions, 17 percent of the money raised by the two 2014 candidates has come from out-of-state donors. That’s up from 12 percent that the top three 2010 candidates brought in from non-Florida donors.


In the multi-million dollar world of campaign finance, there is a new payee raking in campaign cash: PayPal.

Since 2002, when candidates and committees in Florida began using PayPal as a payment option and gateway to manage online donations, the company has seen explosive growth — and revenue — in candidates and political action committees using PayPal’s services. Among the biggest PayPal users in the current election cycle.

United for Care/People United for Medical Marijuana, the political action committee behind the ballot initiative, allows donors to use their PayPal accounts and other major credit cards to make contributions on the committee’s website. So far, the committee has paid PayPal $10,688 for those services.

“It’s the most efficient and accessible payment gateway,” said Kevin Cate, a Crist campaign spokesman. Gov. Scott’s campaign has not made any payments to PayPal. Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair said the campaign has “nothing to offer” in response to a request for an interview.

Using PayPal to raise campaign cash has become so popular that PayPal has a political campaign page. Campaigns that use PayPal pay a fixed percentage and a fee for each online donation. For campaigns that raise less than $3,000 a month using PayPal tools, the fee is 2.9 percent plus 30 cents on every contribution. That means PayPal would collect $3.20 on a $100 contribution.

The more money a campaign raises, the lower the fees. A campaign that raises between $10,000 and $100,000 a month online would pay a fee of $2.50 on a $100 transaction.

DEMOCRATS MOUNT LOW-KEY CAMPAIGNS FOR AG via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Two relatively unknown Democrats head into the primary for attorney general with the hope that their low-profile campaigns will be enough to win them the right to challenge Republican incumbent Pam Bondi.

Neither Perry Thurston, a South Florida legislator and attorney, nor George Sheldon, a former Obama administration official who once worked as deputy attorney general, have raised enough money to buy television ads.

Instead their campaigns have been waged in the trenches as both men have traversed the state to meet with Democratic groups and attend local forums in an effort to drum up attention ahead of the Aug. 26 election. The winner will square off against Bondi and a Libertarian candidate, Bill Wohlsifer.

The two rivals have largely refrained from criticizing each other directly. Instead they have been united in their unfailing criticism of Bondi and the job she has done since taking office in 2011.

They have sharply criticized her for opposing a medical marijuana amendment on the November ballot as well as her fight to retain the state’s ban on same sex marriage.

Both Democrats also contend that Bondi has injected unneeded partisanship into the office, citing the state’s failed legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and her involvement in cases brought by Republican attorneys general across the nation.

Sheldon has faulted Bondi’s decision to refrain from getting actively involved in utility rate cases – a turnaround from the practice that was common among previous attorneys general including two Republicans.

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In the last 13 days of fundraising before the Aug. 26 primaries, former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff collected a blockbuster $100K for her rematch with Democratic Sen. Maria Sachs in Senate District 34.

The Fort Lauderdale Republican raised $104,865 in campaign cash from Aug. 9-21, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. This brings her total to $278,010 since she entered the race on June 11.

With $2,000 in loans and $42,033 in expenditures, Bogdanoff’s cash on hand now stands at $238,000.

In contrast, Sachs received $3,550 during the same periods, for a total of $225,929.

Redistricting in 2012 had Bogdanoff and Sachs, both incumbents, competing for the same Senate district covering Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Sachs won by six points, in what was one of the state’s most expensive — and contentious – races.

Records show Bogdanoff received 194 separate contributions during the reporting period, 76 of which were for the maximum of $1000, and 27 came from a variety of PACs.


Former state Rep. Brad Drake reported more than $61,000 in the final reporting period of the House District 5 Republican primary, which covers parts of Bay, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties.

During Aug. 9-21, Drake brought his total to $381,299 — spending $13,187 for a total of $319,250 in expenditures — to go into Tuesday’s primary with more than $62,000 cash on hand. The Walton County Republican’s solid fundraising prowess resulted in raising twice that of Jan Hooks, Drake’s nearest GOP opponent. In the 13-day fundraising period, Hooks raised only $100 for a total of $170,035, while spending $38,298 (for $168,622 to date). The Emerald Coast Realtor has left only $1,413 on hand.


Business executive Jay Trumbull is ending his primary campaign on a high note by posting more than $33,000 in the final reporting period of the Aug. 26 GOP primary for House District 6.

With $33,350 raised from Aug. 9-21, the Panama City Republican’s now stands at $236,970; after a huge media spend of more than $100,000 in 13 days, he has $20,480 left on-hand.

Trumbull’s performance far outpaced all other contenders in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Jimmy Patronis in the region including southern Bay County, Panama City, Panama City Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base.

Out of Trumbull’s GOP opponents — Tho Bishop, Melissa Hagan and Thelma Rohan – only Bishop and Hagan made any headway in the reporting period: Bishop took in $3,122 in donations for a total of $16,362, and $938 on hand; Hagan collected $1,350 for a total of $67,196 and $1,405 on hand.

Rohan, a former educator who ran heavily on her conservative credentials as a Bay County School Board member,  took in only $235, with another $5,000 in loans for just over $36,000 total and $10,272 left in her war chest.

The Democratic candidate in the District 6 race is Jamie Shepard, who raised $13 for a total of $10,152. Neither write-in candidate Jerry Wyche nor Green Party Henry Newman Lawrence III posted any contributions.


Seemingly unrestrained amounts of campaign cash are the hallmark of the House District 15 battle between Jacksonville attorney Paul Renner and business executive Jay Fant.

As for issues, the Jacksonville Business Journal noted little daylight between Fant and Renner, but that has not stopped either candidate from throwing around big money.

To put it in perspective, total money amassed by both candidates has reached $851,509, with spending hitting an equally impressive $700K. Although Renner is outperforming Fant by $90,000 in actual fundraising, the former CEO of First Guaranty Bank and Trust has advanced his campaign nearly $315K, including $100,000 in the final fundraising period for Tuesday’s GOP primary, according to the state Division of Elections.

Renner, a South Florida state attorney and Navy veteran, raised $38,575 from Aug. 9-21 for a total of $313,416. After spending $283,205 in all, Renner finishes his primary effort with $30,210 cash on hand. While only taking $6,630 in contributions in the final period, Fant resorted to a massive amount of loans, finishing the primary with just over $538,000. After spending $92,408 over the three days, for an overwhelming $416,154 in overall expenditures, Fant still has $122,000 cash on hand.

OUTSIDE CASH FUELS BURTON’S NEGATIVE ADS via Rick Rousos of the Lakeland Ledger

More than $65,000 was paid to two cable TV companies by those organizations for negative ads against Shannon, public records show.

The amount does not include buys on network TV.

The bulk of the money was forwarded to Robinson’s committees by political action groups established by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Tallahassee-based Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Medical Association donated $25,000 to Robinson’s committees. The flow of the money includes Washington-based Political Ink and Revolution Media.

The Ledger could not determine how much money Robinson’s groups spent on mailers because records aren’t yet available. But the pamphlets have been listed as “paid for” by Robinson’s organizations. Burton said Robinson was recommended to her by a political consultant.

The ads attack Shannon for his stance as a trial lawyer in opposing legal reform limiting damages to plaintiffs in lawsuits and lambaste him for repeated delays in paying his taxes.

Despite firing his campaign treasurer who made the negative ad against Burton, Shannon has been unable to stop the third-party ads.


State Rep. Reggie Fullwood lost his bid for reinstatement on the 2014 ballot after a Leon County circuit judge rejected his argument on Friday.

Leon County Circuit Judge James Hankinson ruled Fullwood’s errors were enough for the Department of State to deny the Jacksonville Democrat from qualifying due to two consecutive omissions by notaries public.

“No judge ever wants to keep a candidate off the ballot,” said Hankinson. “But the Legislature has consistently signaled a desire to have these statutes strictly construed.”

Fullwood was previously running unopposed in House District 13.

The State will now call a special election, and Fullwood is not sure if he will draw a challenge.

“I’m not sure, because qualifying hasn’t opened up,” he said just after the judge’s ruling. “There’s rumors that folks will run, but I guess you don’t know until they actually up and qualify.”


Two Republicans facing first-term Democratic Rep. Karen Castor-Dentel in House District 30 finished their primary runs with nearly identical fundraising amounts Longwood City Commissioner Bob Cortes and Seminole County Soil & Water Conservation Commissioner Scott Sturgill ended the Aug. 9-21 fundraising period reporting a total of just under $105K each.

During the 13-day period, Cortes added $3,210 for total of $104,550; Sturgill brought in $10,150 for $104,963. As for Castor-Dentel, she took in $11,545, bringing her total to $167,608 overall, spending only $7,400. She starts the general election with $128,100 cash-on-hand, according to the state Division of Elections website. Cortes, co-owner of Cortes Towing Service, spent $113,128 so far, ending the primary with $16,423 cash-on-hand. Sturgill, CEO of Durable Safety Products, spent $95,351, leaving him a war chest of $9,585.


With only a day to go until ballots are cast, Republican Randy Glisson maintains his solid fundraising lead in the House District 31 GOP primary, with $13,125 added Aug. 9-21 and $161,566 overall.

Five Republicans will battle it out on Tuesday to replace term-limited Rep. Bryan Nelson, who held the seat for eight years. HD 31 covers Lake and Orange Counties and includes Eustis, Tavares, Umatilla, Mt. Dora and Apopka. The primary is open, so everyone can vote — and there is no Democrat in the race, so it all ends Tuesday.

Glisson, a Eustis chiropractor and clinic owner, has edged out Orange County Republican Executive Committee member Terri Seefeldt, who raised $5,124 in the final reporting period for a total of $105,362. Fellow Republican Jennifer Sullivan brought in another $6,546 to bring her total to $68,024. Also running in the GOP primary are former teacher union representative Belita Grassel and Fraud Investigator Joseph Stevens. Grassel picked up $3,220 in the final reporting period, for a total of $42,043, while Stephens again failed to submit a report by the midnight deadline.


As the end nears for Lakeland’s bitter House District 40 primary, Republican Colleen Burton finished the first phase of her campaign with nearly $34K in thirteen days to outpace her GOP opponent, attorney John Shannon.

Burton posted $33,975 from Aug. 9-21 in the race to replace state Rep. Seth McKeel, for a primary campaign total of $197,820. After spending $56,345 – much of which to Mentzer Media Services from Maryland and Washington D.C.-based Political Ink – the former executive director of Polk Vision now has $38,191 on hand.

Shannon, the Lakeland attorney and Marine Corps veteran, raised $12,350 in the 13-day reporting period, bringing his total to $147,160. During that time, he spent nearly $37,000 — mostly to Strategic Management for print and other media buys. So far, Shannon’s to date expenditures are $145,418, leaving him with $1,742 cash on hand.

The winner of Tuesday’s Aug. 26 GOP primary will face Democrat Ricky Shirah and American Independent Party candidate Franklin Shoemaker for the seat covering metropolitan Lakeland and much of Polk County. Shirah raised $250 and Shoemaker reported $735 in donations during the reporting period.


Tampa attorney Sean Shaw ended his Democratic primary campaign in House District 61 with another $21,270 during the final 13-day reporting period, according to the state Division of Elections. Shaw, son of retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander J. Shaw Jr., brought his total to $224,217 overall. After spending just under $13,111 for a total of just under $200K in expenditures, Shaw has $24,471 cash-on-hand.

Shaw faces fellow Democrats Tatiana Denson, Sharon Carter and Ed Narain in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Betty Reed.

The winner will face write-in candidate Nicole Santiago in November.

Narain came in second in primary fundraising, raising $14,000 for a total of $142,226. With $116,264 in expenditures, Narain finishes the primary with $27,370 cash-on-hand. Denson did not report any contributions from Aug. 9-21, staying steady at $3,181 in donations and owing $336 to her war chest. Carter added $2,110 last month, for a total of $6,982 and $12,898 in cash-on-hand. HD 61 is a primarily Democratic district, which includes Tampa neighborhoods of Seminole Heights, East Tampa, Ybor City and parts of West Tampa.

VOTES WON’T COUNT TUESDAY FOR DISTRICT 64 via Elisabeth Parker of the Tampa Bay Times

Your vote for James Grant or Miriam Steinberg for state House District 64 won’t count — at least not on Tuesday.

Although both candidates will be listed on the ballot for voters in Carrollwood, Citrus Park, Oldsmar and Safety Harbor, a notice that precedes the names says, by court order, the votes will not be tallied.

But the next sentence says: “This order is currently under appellate review and the information contained in this notice is subject to change pending the outcome of the appeal.”

So if you vote for one of the two Republicans, could it later count?

Grant has decided to proceed with that possibility. His mother, Beverley Grant, was out for early voting Thursday at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library on Bearss Avenue, asking people to vote for her son.

In one of the state’s messier contests, Grant and Steinberg qualified for the election along with write-in candidate Donald John Matthews.

After a judge disqualified Matthews last month because he didn’t live in District 64, it was too late to resume the primary election without him because early voting had already started.

So Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey canceled the primary and punted the election to November.

Ultimately, Matthews may be let back into the November election or a special election may be required to resolve the issue.


House District 67 GOP candidate Chris Latvala finished his GOP primary campaign with another $34,470 during the final 13-day reporting period, according the Florida Division of Elections.

From Aug. 9-21, the Largo Republican, son of state Sen. Jack Latvala, reached $236,485 in his effort to succeed term-limited GOP State Rep. Ed Hooper for the northeast Pinellas County seat. For three years, Latvala served as Hooper’s legislative aide. At the same time, Latvala spent $30,618 for a total of $196,660 in expenditures, leaving just under $40,000 cash on hand.

Latvala’s Democratic opponent, activist Shawna Vercher, took in $2,645 in the same period, bringing her total to $28,060. Vercher also spent $3,387, with only $3,456 on hand.

Other Democrats in the HD 67 are Steve Sarnoff, who raised $1,661 in the reporting period for a total of $18,648, with $2,032 on hand; Thomas Ryan took in $50 in donations, with $55 on hand, according to DOE figures. Latvala’s only GOP opponent — Christopher Shepard – filed a final waver of report, holding steady with a total of $2,120 and $81 on hand.


If anything, the House District 74 GOP primary could be one for the ages, as the soon-to-end battle between Richard DeNapoli and Julio Gonzalez experiences one last volley of campaign cash.

DeNapoli and Gonzalez – busy fighting each other for the South Sarasota County “conservative” stamp – finished the GOP primary fundraising race with massive expenditures, seemingly committed to spend just about every penny before the ballot.

It is a logical strategy in a race where fundraising tipped the scales at $700K — including loans and in-kind contributions. Tuesday’s winner in the heavily Republican district of Osprey, Venice, North Port and Englewood is sure to be the successor of term-limited state Rep. Doug Holder.

DeNapoli, the former Broward Republican Party treasurer, added another $7,475 from Aug. 9-21, with another $90,000 in loans, to bring his total to $360,114 — including $240K he gave his campaign.

Along with a 13-day expenditure of $183,239 ($357,132 in total), DeNapoli goes into the final weeks with only $3,000 on hand.

Notable in the weeklong reporting period is DeNapoli’s $170K media and mailer buy with Strategic Image Management.

Gonzalez added $32,980 in the same period, totaling $315,261. The Venice orthopedic surgeon spent $87,088 — for a campaign total of $287,401— including $57,000 to Maryland-based Mentzer Media Services for advertising.


State Rep. Bill Hager has announced the endorsement of Jeff Atwater. Atwater’s support follows a recent series of endorsements, including those of Associated Industries of Florida, members of the Boca Raton City Council, and both the Florida and Boca Raton Chambers of Commerce.

“Leaders like Bill Hager have played a vital role in Florida’s economic growth. As a successful businessman, Bill knows what it takes to protect jobs and improve the lives of Florida’s families. I’m proud to support his re-election, and look forward to continuing our work together,” said Atwater.


St. Pete Polls was in the field on Wednesday evening and here are the results (full results can be accessed by clicking on the links):

In House District 5, Brad Drake is comfortably ahead of Jay Hooks 76-19 percent among those who say they have already voted and 64-19 percent overall.

In House District 6, among those who say they have already voted, it’s Jay Trumbull at 38 percent, Thelma Rohan at 32 percent, Melissa Hagan at 18 percent, and Tho Bishop at 11 percent. Trumbull’s overall lead is eight points.

In House District 15, Jay Fant is well ahead of Paul Renner, 46 to 30 percent. Fant’s lead with those who have voted early is 23 points.

In the Democratic primary in HD 61, Sean is leading Ed Narain overall by six points, but Narain leads Shaw by four points among those who say they plan to vote. Don’t count out Sharon Carter, either, who is pulling 26 percent of votes of those who have already cast their ballot.

Finally, in HD 96, Kristin Jacobs is pummeling Steve Perman in the Democratic primary, 53 to 11 percent.


@senatornanrich: Congratulations Bishop Curry for getting @CharlieCrist on the same stage with me for the first time!

@PatriciaMazzei: Souls to the polls? Sunday was single busiest day of Miami-Dade early voting over past two weeks: 4,235 people.

@SenChrisSmith: Campaigning Door To Door is not just good politics….it’s good governance. You hear the concerns first hand.

@DaneEagle: Join us tomorrow for Donuts with Dane! I don’t always speak in third person, but when I do, it involves donuts.

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Norman Pellegrini enjoyed his role as the point man for bond sales at Orlando’s toll-road agency, winning more than $2 billion in business since 2003 and $9.5 million in commissions and fees for his employers.

Now the  Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority is regional agency, with new managers and a board representing Seminole, Osceola and Lake Counties —  not just Orange.

Pellegrini’s position could now be in jeopardy, writes Dan Tracy of the Orlando Sentinel.

Pellegrini’s shaky footing with the new board comes as he gave recent testimony over a meeting with former state legislator-turned-lobbyist Chris Dorworth and a prospective board member that might have broken Florida’s open meetings laws.

Dorworth referred to the lunch as “social. … Mr. Pellegrini was very aware of these rules and was very clear with me about what I could and couldn’t say. My interactions with Mr. Peña were entirely with the rule.”

Investigators questioning Peña asked if Dorworth, Pellegrini and others offered a “circle of influence” to help him get on the board, A grand jury spent nine months looking into issues at the agency.

“I think they are, you know, well connected,” Peña responded, “and could help in my appointment. But I had others and I think the governor looks at people in the business world as people that they like their opinion as well.”


Thomas Arnold, Chris Dudley, Jerry McDaniel, James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: E4 Health, Inc.

Brian Ballard, Greg Turbeville, Ballard Partners: Herbalife International of America

Edgar Castro, Nelson Diaz, Fatima Perez, Southern Strategy Group: Advanced Energy Economy

Dave Ericks, Candice Ericks, Adams Street Advocates: Gold Coast Bench, LLC

Vincent Mattio, Vicki Parker: Wells Fargo Bank

***SUNBURN is sponsored in part by Floridian Partners, LLC, a statewide Public and Government Affairs firm with offices in Tallahassee, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Their firm’s success is measured by its clients’ success. Outreach and Public Advocacy; Strategic Issue and Campaign Development; Grassroots and Grasstops Coalition Building – Floridian Partners is a one-stop firm for clients needing assistance at all levels of government in Florida.***


On Context Florida: In Germany, there are solar arrays along the autobahn, perched on the rooftops of homes, apartment buildings, barns, offices, shops, storage sheds and garages. Southern Germany gets an average of 1,709 sunlit hours a year, barely half that boasted by Miami. Martin Dyckman asks readers to think hard; how many solar arrays — if any — are in your Florida neighborhood? One of Nan Rich’s loudest campaign arguments is “Vote for me, I’m the real Democrat. I’ve been campaigning for the Democratic nomination longer than the other guy has even been a member of the party.” Nevertheless, for a party desperate for a gubernatorial winner after a trio of lackluster losers (Bill McBride, Jim Davis, Alex Sink), Andrew Skerritt says that may not be enough. Rachel Patron writes that Florida was lucky that Trayvon Martin’s killing in Sanford in February 2012 did not trigger a riot. Environmental issues are becoming high profile in the race for Congress in the eastern Florida Panhandle, as they should anywhere in Florida, says Bruce Ritchie.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

UCLA OVER FSU? via Lindsey Thiry of the Los Angeles Times

[ESPN a]nalysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard unanimously chose UCLA to win the Pac-12 Conference championship. Corso and Howard also picked UCLA over Florida State in the national championship game. The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner? A Bruin too. Corso and Herbstreit picked quarterback Brett Hundley … Herbstreit chose Florida State to beat Alabama in the championship game. Howard said Georgia running back Todd Gurley would win the Heisman.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE AND THE NEW NIGHT SHIFT via Brad Stone of BloombergBusinessweek

Work has been leeching onto people’s off-duty time for years. E-mail makes it easier to communicate and more likely that annoyingly ambitious colleagues will respond to every message, at length and in real time. With the growing irresistibility of the smartphone and the ubiquity of cloud collaboration, evening work for many professionals has become standard.

We come home from the office, change into more comfortable clothes, put the kids to bed, and maybe open a bottle of wine. And then we grab our laptops and log back in. It’s ridiculously easy to find fellow adherents of this regimen, mostly because they all obsessively answer their e-mail within five minutes. E-mail provides a constant distraction: The average worker spends 28 percent of her time managing her in-box, according to a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute survey.

And the incessant buzz from the guy in the next cubicle—about 70 percent of offices now have open floor plans—makes deep thinking impossible.

Forget about trying to take some time off from the grind. “I took three weeks off for my honeymoon and have literally worked every single night since,” says David Mars, 38, a partner at New York-based venture capital firm White Owl Capital Partners, in a conversation that happens late on a Monday when, naturally, we’re both still working. Mars’s bête noire is e-mail, which flows in at all hours from his portfolio companies in China, Europe, and North America. “It’s a nonstop merry-go-round,” he says. “It really is a global economy. And the global economy is destroying all our personal lives.”

Arlie Hochschild, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley and author of The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home, blames the 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift on the rise of international competition and the loss of job security. “People are a little more anxious to be the visible hard worker, the one that stands out,” she says. “It leads to a kind of low-grade anxiety, which has animated the drive for longer hours.”

This affliction is predominantly American. Workers in the U.S. now log 1,788 hours of work per year, besting the Germans (1,388), the French (1,489 hours), and even the Japanese (1,735), according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The highest earners in the U.S. regularly brag about putting in 60 to 80 hours a week, well above the national average of 33 hours recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to TV’s Troy Kinsey, as well as Steve Cona and former Rep. Leslie Waters.

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.