Sunburn for 8/28 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group,  the firm best known for smart, strong and strategic counsel across the diverse and ever-changing media landscape: One of the most inspiring addresses in American history was delivered on this day in 1963. That’s when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and gave his “I Have a Dream” speech  to some 250,000 people participating in the March on Washington. The demonstrators – black and white, rich and poor – attended the rally to demand voting rights and equal opportunity for African Americans. Within 12 months of King’s speech, the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted outlawing poll taxes and the Civil Rights Act of 1964  was enacted into law by President Lyndon Johnson and Congress, a tribute to King’s life’s work and the legacy of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated less than three months after King’s speech.

Now, on to the ‘burn…

BOTH PARTIES BRACE FOR OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION DECISION via The Washington Post

Both political parties are in a state of high anxiety over the possibility that President Obama will allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, fearing that White House action on the issue could change the course of November’s midterm elections.

In the past few days, Democratic candidates in nearly every closely fought Senate race have criticized the idea of aggressive action by Obama. Some strategists say privately that it would signal the president has written off the Democrats’ prospects for retaining control of the chamber, deciding to focus on securing his own legacy instead.

REPUBLICANS MUCH MORE OPTIMISTIC AHEAD OF MIDTERMS via Pew Research

With just over two months before the midterm elections, Republican voters are widening the “expectations gap” with the Democrats. About six-in-ten (61%) Republican and GOP-leaning registered voters think their party will do better than in recent elections — roughly double the share of Democrats (32%) who feel similarly about their party’s chances.

This gap has not reached the same levels of the GOP’s margin before their large 2010 gains or the Democrats’ expectations in their 2006 sweep of both houses of Congress. Last December, the expectations gap was narrower; 55% of Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters said the party would do better than recent elections, compared with 43% of Democrats.

A plurality of Democrats (48%) believe their party will do about the same as past elections while 14% think the outcome will be worse. Among Republicans, about one-third (32%) think the GOP will perform about the same and just 3% say the party will do worse than in recent elections.

A new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted Aug. 20-24 among 1,501 adults (including 1,171 registered voters), finds that about half of voters (49%) have given “quite a lot” of thought to the upcoming elections. The amount of thought given to the elections at this point of the campaigns is in line with the attention given to past midterm elections.

The public’s congressional vote preference remains fairly even. Among registered voters, 47% would vote for the Democratic candidate today or lean Democratic and 42% would vote or lean Republican (11% volunteer “other” or don’t know). In surveys going back to last October, neither party has opened up a large lead in the generic ballot.

However, those who plan to vote Republican this fall have given more thought than Democratic voters to the midterm elections. Nearly six-in-ten (58%) Republican voters have given “quite a lot” of thought to the elections, compared with 44% of Democratic voters.

At about this point in the 2010 midterms, overall voter preferences also were closely divided. About as many Republicans voters said they had given quite a lot of thought to the election as say that today (58% now, 59% then). But Democratic voters are now more likely to say they have given a lot of thought to the midterm than did so in early August 2010 (44% now, 34% then).

A Pew Research Center report last month, which looked at other measures of voter engagement, also found that the GOP’s engagement advantage, while substantial, was not as wide as it was at a comparable point four years earlier.

GOP POLL OF WOMEN: PARTY ‘STUCK IN PAST’ via Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer of POLITICO

A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”

Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

Republicans swore they’d turn around the party’s performance with women after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012. And while they are in good shape in 2014, poised to pick up seats in the House and possibly take the majority in the Senate, the new report shows that they have not improved their standing with women — which could exacerbate their problems if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee in 2016.

The report — “Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities” — was the product of eight focus groups across the country and a poll of 800 registered female voters this summer. The large-scale project was a major undertaking for the GOP groups.

“The gender gap is hardly a new phenomenon, but nevertheless it’s important for conservatives to identify what policies best engage women, and our project found multiple opportunities,” said Dan Conston, a spokesman for the American Action Network. “It’s no surprise that conservatives have more work to do with women.”

Republicans in D.C. say they recognize the problem. Republicans who have seen or been briefed on the polling were not surprised about the outcome. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Axis Research.

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CHARLIE CRIST PUTS ASIDE DOUBTS THAT DEMOCRATS SUPPORT HIM via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

Crist used a decisive primary victory to cast aside doubts about whether Democrats will accept his political conversion. Now his challenge will be motivating them as he takes on a tougher task — beating Gov. Scott.

Crist has already been the target of millions of dollars in attacks by Scott and they’ll likely be ramped up over the next 10 weeks in what has become one of the state’s nastiest races — Crist says he doesn’t know of any Florida candidate that’s faced as many negative attacks.

“It’s unbelievable! What is it, $30 million in trash talk? Oh my gosh!” Crist said after he was declared the primary winner over former state Sen. Nan Rich. “Floridians are smart and fortunately we know each other. I’ve been their governor before, I’ve been their attorney general, their commissioner of education, a state senator from Tampa Bay. We have a relationship, and this new guy who came in from Texas a few years ago is trying to say things about me that aren’t true.”

Getting Democrats to nominate him after he’s run four statewide races as a Republican and one as an independent was one challenge. Now he needs to make sure Democrats show up in November and that party activists who’ve fought against him before now volunteer to help him in the general election.

That was a major part of the post-election theme after Crist earned 74 percent of the vote.

CRIST’S BIG WIN CLOUDED BY LOW TURNOUT AND ENTHUSIASM QUESTIONS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist trounced underfunded rival Nan Rich with 74 percent of the vote, nearly a 3 to 1 margin. But Democrats in the state’s three largest counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach largely stayed home, displaying a lack of enthusiasm that threatens to hand Democrats a fifth straight loss in a race for governor.

“This speaks volumes as to the lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base in these midterm elections,” said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida. “If you can’t get Democrats to come out in those three counties, you’re not going to win an election.”

Statewide, the turnout was 17.6 percent, the lowest primary showing since 1998. But it was lower in all three South Florida counties: 14.4 percent in Miami-Dade, 12 percent in Palm Beach and 10.8 percent in Broward, second only to Glades County in turnout among all 67 counties.

Republicans seemed to have even less reason to show up, with Scott’s renomination assured against two complete unknowns. But together they collected 12 percent of the Republican vote, a small sign of dissatisfaction with Scott.

In addition, some Republicans who voted skipped the race for governor entirely in a none-of-the-above gesture. In Pinellas, where figures were available, 5.5 percent of Republicans or about 3,600 voters cast no ballot for Scott or his two challengers, compared to 2 percent of Democrats who skipped the Crist-Rich contest.

Statewide, Republicans cast 952,000 ballots for governor to Democrats’ 838,000, a GOP advantage of more than 114,000 votes, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans in Florida by nearly a half million.

MANY CONSERVATIVE UPSTATE DEMOCRATS FAVORED RICH OVER CRIST via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

The rural-urban schism between Florida Democrats was glaringly obvious in Tuesday’s primary, as conservative upstate voters spoke with one voice: They don’t like Crist.

Even though Crist’s rival Nan Rich had virtually no money, a liberal voting record and is from South Florida, she received more than 40 percent of the vote in 22 counties. She carried two of them, Holmes and Putnam, and she and Crist broke even in Calhoun.

The Democratic vote totals in these counties don’t amount to a huge number, but together they account for a vast portion of geography and the turnouts will be among the highest in the Nov. 4 general election. The results speak for themselves: Voters in this broad swath of the state are rejecting Crist as the Democratic nominee and will likely flock to Gov. Scott in November.

Rich received 40 percent or more of Democratic votes in Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Glades, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hardee, Holmes, Jackson, Lafayette, Okaloosa, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Walton and Washington counties. Crist’s victory margins were much bigger in two small counties, Gadsden and Madison, where African-Americans make up a sizeable share of the Democratic vote.

EMAIL OF THE DAY via Nan Rich: “Last night, I called Governor Crist to offer him my congratulations. He will now bear the Democratic standard in a contest where nothing less than the future of Florida is at stake. It will be a very tough fight to beat Rick Scott. Charlie Crist will need all of our support to win.  He has mine.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Charlie Crist, Nan Rich, Perry Thurston, George Sheldon, Allison Tant, Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair Allison Tant, and all Democrats in statewide contested primaries and Democrat leaders to campaign together at 10:30  a.m. at the Painters and Allied Trades Union Hall, 2153 West Oak Ridge Road in Orlando. At 4:00 p.m. they will be at the Urban League of Broward County, 560 NW 27th Ave in Ft. Lauderdale.

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NEXTGEN AD ATTACKS SCOTT FOR “COZY RELATIONSHIP” WITH BIG SUGAR Full blog post here

After bashing Gov. Scott for campaign contributions from Duke Energy, a new digital ad from NextGen Climate now highlights the incumbent Republican’s “cozy relationship” with the sugar industry.

“Secret” is the latest 30-second spot that capitalizes on the scandal involving Scott’s secret trip to King Ranch, an exclusive ranch in Texas, as a guest of U.S. Sugar.

“Scott has a sweet tooth for donations from the powerful few,” says the NextGen Climate press release. “In fact … Scott has received $756,462.68 in campaign contributions from the sugar industry since 2012, including $100,000 in the wake of signing a bill that left taxpayers on the hook for cleaning up Big Sugar’s mess in the Everglades.”

In this latest ad, Scott faces additional NextGen Climate scrutiny for his decision to name Mitch Hutchcraft, a King Ranch executive, to the water management board that oversees the Florida Everglades restoration project.

“Sweet deals for the powerful few,” the ad concludes. “Not for you.”

TWEET, TWEET: @wmnfnews: MT @RobLorei: Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll joins Radioactivity tomorrow at 11 am @wmnf to discuss her new book When You Get There.

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STAFF KEPT RECORDS SECRET FOR GOVERNOR’S MANSION PROJECT via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times

The idea made sense: create a “governor’s park” around the Florida Governor’s Mansion to spruce up the entrance by buying up shabby commercial property on the adjacent street and replace it with a grand boulevard and a visitors commons.

But it was an idea that was going to take cash. Lots of cash: $2.3 million for the project and $2.7 million more to acquire an old house, a pawn shop, a tire store and three other properties nearby, records from 2011 and 2012 show.

First Lady Ann Scott embraced the project. Mansion director Carol Beck was on board, the governor’s deputies coordinated the effort with donations from the state’s top industries and persuaded Republican legislative leaders to dedicate $2.5 million in the state budget. A lavish party at the Mansion was held to recognize the generosity of the corporate donors.

But while records show that everyone involved was using state time to do the work, they wanted to avoid creating a public records trail, so they used private email accounts and private cell phones to keep what they were doing out of the public eye.

The practice was part of the culture in the new governor’s office. The governor’s first two chiefs of staff, Mike Prendergast and Steve MacNamara, instructed employees to use personal emails and personal cell phone text messages to communicate anything that was sensitive, creating a barrier to access when records requests were made, former employees have told the Herald/Times.

RICK SCOTT ASKS ED. DEPT FOR ENGLISH LEARNER FLEXIBILITY via the Associated Press

Gov. Scott is asking the U.S. Department of Education not to hold Florida schools and teachers accountable for English language learner student achievement until after two years of instruction.

Scott made the request alongside Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho on Wednesday.

Carvalho said counting the scores of English learners in achievement measures after one year was “unfair and unreasonable.” He said there is a notable jump in proficiency after two years.

Florida was granted a waiver extension from No Child Left Behind earlier this month, but federal officials declined Florida’s request regarding English language learner student accountability.

Scott said that if their request is denied, he will “review every legal option available to us.”

ALL ABOARD FLORIDA OPPONENTS GET MEETING WITH SCOTT’S STAFF via Arnie Rosenberg of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

A high-power All Aboard Florida opposition group will get its meeting with Gov. Scott’s representatives.

CARE FL —one of several groups fighting the proposed Miami-to-Orlando high-speed passenger train — wrote to Scott shortly after it formed in July, raising concerns about safety at crossings, first-responder access, disruption of maritime traffic and commerce and decreased property values.

The group also raised the issue of additional freight trains cutting through the Treasure Coast if a second set of tracks is built alongside the existing Florida East Coast Railway tracks, a scenario All Aboard Florida officials refute. And CARE FL challenged All Aboard Florida’s contention that the $2.25 billion project would be privately funded and operated despite the railroad seeking a $1.5 billion federal loan.

FEA MOVES FORWARD WITH CHALLENGE TO SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times

The statewide teachers union plans to announce new “legal action” against Florida’s school voucher program at a press conference Thursday, union leaders said.

The voucher program, also known as the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, enables corporations to fund private-school scholarships for low-income children. The businesses receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits in exchange for their contributions.

The cap on tax credits for the program is set by state law.

About 69,000 students statewide are currently receiving tax credit scholarships. Supporters say the program provides choices for students who might not succeed in a traditional public school. But opponents argue the dollars would be better spent within the public school system, where there is more oversight and accountability.

The lawsuit is separate from the union’s recent challenge to a 2014 law expanding the voucher program. That litigation, which is pending in Leon County, raises questions about the way the legislature approved the voucher expansion — not the program itself.

LEE COUNTY MAKES HISTORY, OPTS OUT OF COMMON CORE TESTING via Emily Atteberry at News-Press.com

History was made today at the Lee County school board meeting.

The school board has voted to opt out the entire district from all statewide, standardized testing – effective immediately. The decision was received with overwhelming cheers and applause in the packed auditorium.

The motion passed three to two, with board members Don Armstrong, Tom Scott and Mary Fischer in support of the vote.

Board members Jeanne Dozier and Cathleen Morgan said they would prefer the district wait until an alternative plan is in place. Superintendent Nancy Graham warned the district that the abrupt decision could be harmful to students.

There is an unmistakable emotion in the room tonight at the Lee school board meeting as the board deliberates a motion to opt out from all statewide tests.

The standing-room only audience cheered and booed as more than 33 concerned citizens took the podium to speak their thoughts on the possibility of the district opting out of standardized tests. The audience was filled with protestors wearing red “#boycott shirts.”

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: 2 days after @FLGovScott called for another review of state standards/testing he’s got a mini-crisis on his hands now

CLIMATE ACTIVISTS TO PROTEST PSC’S ‘COZY’ RELATIONSHIP WITH UTILITIES via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times

The normally staid meeting of the Public Service Nominating Council could get a bit lively as a group of climate change activists, including a scientist who met with Gov. Scott, stage a protest at the Miami International Airport to complain about the utility board’s “cozy relationship with Florida’s utility companies.”

There are two vacancies on the five-member PSC and the legislatively dominated nominating council has a history of picking candidates that are endorsed and backed by the state’s largest utilities — which are among the largest contributors to legislative campaigns and non-profit causes promoted by legislators.

The nominating council will interview 16 candidates and offer up as many three nominees for each of the two seats on the commission. Gov. Scott will choose from the list of nominees and in the past has re-appointed candidates backed by the state’s power companies.

Seeking a second term is Commissioner Julie Brown, who will be among those interviewed. A second position was opened when Commissioner Eduardo Balbis decided not to seek a second term. He was an occasional critic of the industry on a board that has a record of embracing much of the agenda of the state’s largest electric utilities in the past four years.

Also to be interviewed is Rep. Jimmy Patronis, a Republican from Panama City, who runs the popular Captain Anderson’s restaurant which is owned by his family. Patronis lists no utility-related experience in his resume but is a favorite for the job because of his political connections. Patronis dropped out of the 2016 state Senate race to replace Sen. Don Gaetz, leaving Gaetz’s son, Matt Gaetz, the frontrunner in the race and many expect him to be named by Scott to the utility board in consolation.

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FEW CHANGES EXPECTED IN FLORIDA SENATE AFTER NOVEMBER Full blog post here

Since incumbents dominated Tuesday’s primaries, there will probably be little change in the Florida Senate after November 4.

Of 40 Senate seats, half were up for election in 2014. Eight incumbents ran without opposition; Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto clinched another term by winning the Senate District 30 primary.

In addition, three incumbent Senators, Republicans Thad Altman and Tom Lee, as well as Miami Gardens Democrat Oscar Braynon, are sure to win re-election since they face write-in candidates.

In the eight remaining seats, five incumbents — Republicans John Thrasher, Jeff Brandes, Joe Negron, and Democrats Geraldine Thompson and Maria Sachs — have opponents from a major party.

Sachs’ battle is the most difficult, as she fends off a challenge from Republican former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff in a rematch for Senate District 34.

Republican David Simmons and Democrat Darren Soto face opponents with no party affiliation, and a Libertarian is challenging Republican Jack Latvala.

JACK LATVALA HAD EXCELLENT EXCUSE FOR EARLY EXIT OF PRIMARY WATCH PARTY: HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY Full blog post here

Leaving an election night party early may be rude, but Sen. Latvala had an excellent excuse for an early exit from the primary watch party — the Clearwater Republican was recovering from hip replacement surgery.

Latvala and term-limited state Rep. Ed Hooper, who won his GOP primary bid for Pinellas County Commission District 2, shared election celebrations at the Quaker Steak & Lube in Pinellas Park.

Hooper was impressed that Latvala made the party since he only had his hip replaced on Friday. “He’s a tough guy,” Hooper said. Latvala had hip replacement surgery once before, in 2011.

FLORIDA JUSTICE ASSOCIATION’S NO GOOD, VERY BAD PRIMARY NIGHT via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

The group that represents state trial lawyers used a dizzying array of committees to spend roughly $530,000 in a handful of hotly contested GOP primaries, losing in each.

Most of the money started with Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, a political committee chaired by Anthony Pedicini, a consultant involved in each of the races. That committee received $492,000 – 90 percent of its total – from FJA’s political arm.

From there, the committee dispersed the money to a handful of other committees that actually purchased ads in races across the state. In most cases, the group was facing off against the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In the highest profile race of the primary cycle, Richard DiNapoli, the FJA-backed candidate, conceded shortly after polls closed in a race that wasn’t that close.

In a closer Polk County GOP primary, FJA-supported candidate John Shannon lost by 173 votes to Colleen Burton, who received nearly $300,000 from the chamber and Florida Medical Association-funded committees. FJA used a committee called Famlies for Lower Taxes to fund attacks against Burton in that race.

That same committee was used by FJA in a Central Florida GOP primary where its candidate, Randy Glisson, lost to Jennifer Sullivan by a 34-29 margin. Between the two races, Families for Lower Taxes spent roughly $360,000 on attack ads.

RICHARD DENAPOLI WON ABSENTEE BALLOT COUNT, BUT JULIO GONZALEZ RULED ELECTION DAY via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Election results show DeNapoli beat Gonzalez in the absentee voting that started at the end of July. DeNapoli was winning 53.2 percent of the absentee ballots.

DeNapoli prided himself on getting out and going door to door months before Gonzalez went out in full force. DeNapoli’s aggressive early campaign with Gonzalez’s campaigns slow ramp up likely contributed to that results.

But Gonzalez erased most of the gap in early voting that started Aug. 16. When polls opened on Tuesday and after weeks of television ads and mailers, Gonzalez was up, but he and DeNapoli were separated by just 138 votes.

Gonzalez won nearly two out of every three Republican voters on Election Day. That 138-vote margin ballooned to almost 2,000.

TWO QUICK THOUGHTS ABOUT THE RECOUNT IN HD 15

Two candidates running in state House District 15 — Jay Fant and Paul Renner –finished only three votes apart after the ballot counting was done Tuesday night.

Under Florida law, if two candidates are separated by less than a half of a percent, there must be a machine recount — if less than a quarter of a percent, all provisional ballots must be examined by hand.

The recount can’t legally start before 5 p.m. Thursday and is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Friday.

Here are two quick thoughts about this recount…

First, how terrible is it that the one state House seat which ends with razor-close finish and prompts a bite-your-nails recount falls in the media market of a newspaper — the Florida Times-Union — that doesn’t even have a full-time capital reporter?

Were there to be a recount in Pinellas’ House District 68, for example, you can bet your bottom dollar this blogger, as well as reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, and a handful of radio and TV stations, would be camped outside the Supervisor of Elections.

The FTU, meanwhile, has not updated its story about this race in nineteen hours. What a waste of a good recount!

Second, Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland told News4Jax that the recount should take between two and three hours and will cost taxpayers up to $100,000.

How is that it costs $60,000 for a full day of the Legislature meeting in Special Session, while the price of a recount costs $40K more. Something seems off there.

But, hey, this is a vote recount in Florida … of course something feels off.

HD 65 GOP REP CANDIDATE CHRIS SPROWLS CITES STUDY THAT SAYS IT’S BETTER TO HAVE NO INSURANCE THAN MEDICAID via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing Tampa

Youth vs. experience, and likely lots of money vs. not so much, appears to be the scenario already forming in two Pinellas County House races taking place his fall between the Republican and Democratic Party candidates in House Districts 65 and 67. Four candidates involved in those two races met at the Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg.

HD 65 encompasses Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and East Lake, fertile territory for conservatives that longtime Pinellas school teacher Carl Zimmermann was able to steal from the GOP in 2012. Now he’s facing an intense challenge from 30-year-old Pasco/Pinellas prosecutor Chris Sprowls, who seems to already being groomed for leadership in the GOP House, months before he’s been even been elected. But the up-and-coming Republican made a stunning statement at today’s forum, when asked if he would support expanding Medicaid if elected in November. Citing a 2010 University of Virginia study that reported that surgical patients on Medicaid are 13% more likely to die than those with no insurance at all, Sprowls said that women with Stage 3 breast cancer end up having higher mortality rates on Medicaid than on regular health insurance, leading him to say, “You might be physically better off not to have insurance than Medicaid,” before quickly adding, “I don’t know if I believe that.” Moments later Zimmermann pounced, asking “How could no insurance be better than Medicaid?” adding that some people he knows who don’t have insurance ultimately die for lack of care. It’s obvious that Democrats running for the Legislature (and Crist) will make the rejection of Medicaid expansion an issue this fall, and surely Sprowls will have a better argument for why he doesn’t support its expansion the next time he’s asked.

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: LOW TURNOUT, WOOD PELLETS, VACCINES & AUTISM AND LIBERALS

On Context FloridaDaniel Tilson suggests maybe it is time Florida took a cue from Los Angeles and considered making election ballots double as lottery tickets. Statewide turnout in this week’s primary elections was 17.55 percent, lowest since 1998. The wood pellet industry says it is producing a sustainable alternative energy source and cleaner alternative to coal. However, Bruce Ritchie notes an increasing chorus of scientists and environmentalists that question those claims. Just when Julie Delegal reached inner peace about vaccines and autism, the specter of a link has reared its ugly head again — on Twitter, on Facebook, on CNN’s user-generated “iReport” website. Just as the success of the Tea Party in converting the disgust of conservative voters with American politics into wins in primary races since 2010, Steve Kurlander says there is a corresponding, if not greater anger, on the American left. Some liberals feel abandoned by President Barack Obama and entrenched “liberals” in the Democratic Party.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

THE MIAMI HERALD‘S NEW PUBLISHER, ALEXANDRA VILLOCH, IS MOVING THE PAPER A BIT CLOSER TOWARDS IRRELEVANCY via Random Pixels

Last week, Miami Herald publisher Alexandra Villoch told a TV reporter, “Miami is the brand, and we cover Miami.”

Here’s a suggestion, Ms. Villoch: Instead of covering what you call a “brand,” and “impacting” and “transforming” the community – whatever the hell that means – how about getting back to the basics of covering the news in this town, and along the way, tell a few compelling stories?

When Miami-based Burger King announced it was planning to acquire Canadian fast food company Tim Hortons for $11 billion, the Herald posted a story on its website a few minutes before 8 in the morning. But the story was one supplied by a wire service.

At least one reader noticed that the Herald hadn’t bothered to assign its own business writer to a huge story taking place in its backyard.

How huge? The Burger King story made the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal.

The Herald was still using a wire service story that fails to mention that Burger King is a Miami-based company.

The Herald not covering Burger King is the same as the Seattle Times not covering Boeing or Microsoft, or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution not covering Coca-Cola … unthinkable.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Alan Levine, Pinellas political trailblazer Sandy Saffley, and my friend, Dave Zachem. 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.