Sunburn for 8/29 – 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: As college football advertisers hit “play” on a season of TV ads and Floridians brace for the air war that will be the general election battle for governor, we can all take a moment to remember (rue?) the day that started it all: August 29, 1922. That’s when New York radio station WEAF broadcast the first paid radio commercial. The simple ad for an apartment building opened the floodgates, and now Florida is readying for a gubernatorial campaign expected to top $100 million in campaign spending – the vast majority of it for television and radio ads on behalf of Gov. Rick Scott  and former Gov. Charlie Crist.  The 30-second air war will have a decided impact on the outcome of the November 4 election.

Now, on to the ‘burn.


Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times claims that we’re “looking at the biggest story involving the federal budget and a crucial one for the future of the American economy. Every year for the last six years in a row, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced its estimate for how much the federal government will need to spend on Medicare in coming years. The latest reduction came in a report from the budget office on Wednesday morning.”

“The changes are big. The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion. The country still faces a projected deficit in future decades … but it is not likely to require the level of fiscal pain that many assumed several years ago.”

“In all, technical changes have been responsible for a 12 percent reduction since 2010 in the estimates for Medicare spending over the decade ending in 2020. In dollar terms, that’s over $700 billion.”

Medicaid spending is also down, according to Kaiser Health News: “Medicaid spending is expected to drop by $40 billion — or about 1 percent — over the next decade.”

REPUBLICAN GOV. CANDIDATES PITCH BIG TENTS via Karyn Bruggeman of the National Journal

Coming out of the 2012 presidential election, Republicans knew their party needed to improve relationships with minority voters if it had any hopes of winning the White House again. But the 2014 election landscape offers few testing grounds for the GOP to start working toward that goal, which will grow in importance in the 2016 presidential race.

Two notable exceptions, though, are the gubernatorial races in Florida and Illinois. Polling shows tight campaigns in both states, and Republicans Rick Scott and Bruce Rauner are casting wide nets, letting every voter know they are seeking their support.

Gov. Scott is running one of the most aggressive efforts ever seen by a state-level candidate to capture the Hispanic vote in the Sunshine State.

The campaign employs two press staff dedicated to Spanish media and three Spanish-speaking regional field staffers. It estimates staff and volunteers have made roughly 100,000 person-to-person contacts with Hispanic voters in Spanish. Their message is largely the same as those geared toward English speakers. It focuses on Scott’s record on jobs and the economy.

The campaign of Republican-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist, by contrast, tallies about 550,000 total voter contacts, including those made to Spanish-speaking voters, and he has yet to go on the air with Spanish-language TV or radio ads.

One reason Scott got off to such an early start communicating with Hispanic voters this year: He won’t have Sen. Marco Rubio on the ballot this time. The two ran on the same ticket in 2010, which may have helped Scott even though he ran behind Rubio among Hispanics, according to exit polls.

Democrats say that ultimately Hispanics will still side with their policies despite Scott’s work to reach them. Both campaigns nominated Hispanic running mates, but Democratic LG nominee Annette Taddeo says policy promises will matter more. “Its extremely important and nice to have two of us, but at the same time, you can look the part but you’ve still got to have the right policies toward Hispanics,” Taddeo said.

EMAIL: “Today Citizens Against Rail Expansion, a coalition comprised of community groups located along Florida’s Treasure Coast, launched its website The site will provide you with information about the coalition, it’s members and the concerns they are expressing about the proposed All Aboard Florida project and the impact it will have on communities along the way.”


Once again, Gov. Scott is making it easy for newly-minted Democratic nominee Charlie Crist.

In one of his first post-primary campaign emails, Crist takes advantage of yet another scandal from the incumbent Republican, namely the troubles of former Orlando Expressway Authority board member Scott Batterson, a 2011 Scott appointee who just the day before was convicted on two counts of bribery.

An Orange County jury found Batterson guilty of charges stemming from an offer of a $5-million-a-year contract to an engineering firm in exchange for hiring some of his friends.

“This is just the latest example of how shady Rick Scott’s Administration is – and how lobbyists and special interests get special treatment while we all foot the bill,” the email says. “There’s likely more to this story, as is usually the case when Scott or his cronies are involved.”

Now that the campaign is in full swing, Crist will waste little time in going after Scott on everything he can.

And with Rick Scott, that could take every minute of the 60 days (or so) left until November 4.


Crist and his Democratic primary rival former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston put on a united front at rallies in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

To show that longtime state Democratic politicians have fully embraced Crist as their own, several took the stage to praise the former Republican governor. Among them: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant and Broward Democratic chairman Mitch Ceasar and state Sen. Chris Smith. Crist’s pick for lieutenant governor, Annette Taddeo of Miami-Dade, also spoke.

Crist, the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat, defeated Rich, by nearly 49 percentage points. Now he faces a more expensive campaign and tougher foe in Gov. Rick Scott. The Democrats held the event next at the Urban League of Broward, next to Broward’s African-American library — a nod to the importance of the black and Democratic vote in Broward.

Rich introduced Crist and praised him for calling for increased education funding and Medicaid expansion.

“Charlie Crist will need all of our support to win,” she said. “He has mine.”

Crist thanked “Nan Rich for being such a class act,” even though he all but ignored her during the primary and refused to debate her. He repeated campaign promises for equal pay for women, raising minimum wage and expanding Medicaid.

Also in attendance was George Sheldon, who easily beat state Rep. Perry Thurston for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General.

TWEET, TWEET: @gbennettpost: Conservative blogger @THESHARKTANK1 was asked to leave @FlaDems rally; @culvert says he’s a @FLGovScott partisan, not “credentialed media”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: After a ride along with FAMU Police, the Florida Police Benevolent Association will endorse Gwen Graham for Florida’s Second Congressional District. The press conference is 2:00 p.m. outside of the PBA headquarters, 300 E. Brevard St in Tallahassee.

‘CENTER FORWARD’ GROUP SPENDING $200,000 ON PRO-MURPHY TV ADS via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Center Forward, a group formed by centrist “Blue Dog” Democrats that also supports a few Republicans, is spending $200,000 on TV spots that praise freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, during his re-election bid in Republican-leaning Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18.

The group is running similar ads in 10 other districts around the U.S. — seven in support of Democrats and three in support of Republicans. Center Forward is also running ads to support Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

The 30-second spot mentions Murphy’s vote for “No Budget, No Pay” legislation in 2013, which said members of Congress wouldn’t get paid if they failed to pass a budget for 2014. The ad also notes he donated a portion of his salary to Treasure Coast veterans organizations during the 2013 government shutdown.

The ad isn’t coordinated with Murphy’s campaign and doesn’t mention his re-election battle against Republican Carl Domino, instead asking viewers to “call and thank Patrick Murphy for holding Congress accountable.”


The Florida Supreme Court is upholding a rate increase by the state’s largest utility.

The court ruled Tuesday that the Public Service Commission didn’t err when it reached a settlement with Florida Power & Light on a rate increase that could see bills increase by $9 a month for the average costumer.

The Office of Public Counsel contested the increase because the state-created consumer advocate didn’t participate in the settlement discussions.

The rate increase was approved two years ago. FPL has roughly 4.6 million customers.


Florida’s teachers union along with the NAACP and organizations representing school boards and school officials are suing over the state’s largest private school voucher program.

The lawsuit filed Thursday seeks to dismantle a program that serves more than 60,000 students, many of them from low income families.

The groups say the tax credit voucher program is one of several recent attempts by the state Legislature to establish a program to pay for the education of children in largely unregulated private schools. The lawsuit alleges the tax credit diverts funds that would otherwise support those children’s education in the public school system.

In July, the teacher’s union filed a separate lawsuit challenging the way the latest tax credit expansion became law during the session. It hasn’t yet been heard in court.


Florida’s horse- and dog-racing tracks have seen another year of overall declines in their core business, according to figures released by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

The combined “handle” for fiscal year 2013-14, which ended June 30, dropped to $850.1 million from $872.3 million the previous year – a 2.5 percent decrease. Those amounts include the state’s jai ajai frontons.

The latest total is down from a $1.1 billion statewide handle just five years ago. At the same time, $850 million is nothing to shrug at.

The division’s report also shows gross receipts from cardrooms went up – from $132.7 million in 2012-13 to $136.2 million in 2013-14, a boost of 2.6 percent.

The report notes that the state’s 40 tracks and frontons report their own numbers, which are “subject to change upon division audit/review.”

In the Tampa Bay region, the news was mixed.

The yearly handle for Tampa Bay Downs, located in Tampa and the only thoroughbred race horse track on the west coast of Florida, shot up more than 24 percent, from $96.4 million to $119.9 million.

Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, which bills itself as “the world’s oldest continuously operating greyhound race track,” showed a year-over-year decline in handle of 8.6 percent, from $26.2 million to $23.9 million, according to the report.


Volunteer Florida will announce its lineup today for a massive service project in Miami that will include best-selling author and History Channel host Brad Meltzer and Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Schools Alberto Carvalho.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Volunteer Florida and AmeriCorps, the Sept. 12 event at the Miami Beach Convention Center will include approximately 1,000 Florida AmeriCorps members, who will take the AmeriCorps Pledge as part of a simultaneous nationwide swearing-in in every state, on the same day, at the same time.

President Obama will participate in the event from the White House, and it will be live-streamed at the Volunteer Florida event. After the swearing-in ceremony, Volunteer Florida and AmeriCorps members will participate in service projects benefitting thousands of families in need in South Florida, including a project for veterans with the Wounded Warrior Project. Also attending: Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Director Jesse Panuccio, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon, and Miami/Broward non-profit leaders Darrill Gaschler and Dale Hirsch.

VF will also be presenting an AmeriCorps Alumni Award to Rebecca Fishman-Lipsey, Florida State Board of Education Commissioner.


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is sharply reducing the number of oysters that can be taken from Apalachicola Bay because the oyster population there remains low.

State officials in 2012 requested a federal fisheries disaster declaration because of a continued drought that reduced freshwater flowing into Apalachicola Bay from Alabama and Georgia.

In 2013, Florida blamed Georgia for misusing water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system and asked the U. S. Supreme Court to divide water fairly among the states.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced it is reducing the oysters that can be harvested commercially this winter from 20 bags daily to five beginning Sept. 1. Each bag holds 10 gallons of oysters in their shells.

Jim Estes, deputy director of the Division of Fisheries Management, on Monday told a meeting of seafood workers and dealers in Apalachicola that the reduction is needed because the oyster population “is in real bad shape.”

He said the bay’s oysters need more fresh water, which they received this spring and summer, along with oyster shells placed on the bottom of the bay for oyster larvae to attach and grow on.

The East Hole harvesting area will remain closed, Estes said, and some areas where shells recently were placed on the bottom also will be closed once they are identified.

Both commercial and recreational oyster harvesting will be closed Fridays through Sundays. The daily recreational harvest is being reduced from two bags to half a bag.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services  today’s large organizations demand, while our Business  Solutions team works with small to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks.  Learn more at ***


>>>Florida Association of State Troopers (FAST) announced its endorsement of Attorney General Pam Bondi. “As a prosecutor in the 18th Judicial Circuit, Pam Bondi proved herself a strong advocate for justice. That has carried over into her job as attorney general and she continues her commitment to the safety and well-being of Florida’s citizens and visitors,” said FAST Chair Mike Kirby.

>>>Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) endorses Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli in his bid for re-election to House District 51. “He shares our goal of an affordable, quality health care system that protects patients and safeguards our physicians’ ability to practice the highest standards of medicine in Florida,” said FMA PAC President Ralph Nobo.

>>>FMA PAC also endorses State Rep. Travis Cummings for re-election to House District 18. “The association has developed a positive relationship with him during his first two years in the House, as he has served on a number of health care-related committees,” Nobo said.

>>>Another FMA PAC endorsement is State Rep. Ray Pilon for re-election to House District 72. “We recognize that he will be a strong advocate for the FMA and our more than 20,000 physicians as we continue to push for legislative and regulatory reforms to improve the delivery of health care in Florida,” Nobo added.


Being a Florida state Senator does come with a few cool perks.

In a new ad released Wednesday, St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes talks about Florida’s historic leadership role in technology and innovation.

“Leading the race into space (Kennedy Space Center), the invention of the PC computer (IBM in Boca Raton), new drinks to power the competition (Gatorade from the University of Florida), and technology to protect the world (Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base), we’ve never been far from the front lines of innovation,” Brandes says.

“Now Florida is at it again,” he adds. “Autonomous cars designed by some of the brightest engineers on the planet, saving energy, and saving lives.”

Then he does something that only a few lucky people have experienced, at least for the time being.

“The best part about it is I get to do this,” he continues, while riding behind the wheel of  a driverless Audi, his daughter in the back seat.

“Look Lottie,” he says while (safely) letting go of the wheel, “no hands.”


In her first TV ad of the state Senate District 34 general election, state Sen. Maria Sachs vows to continue her fight against “special interests” while protecting Florida’s middle class families.

The Delray Beach Democrat faces a rematch with former Republican state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff in the Democrat-leaning district.

“Standing up to Special Interests” begins with a narrator saying how Sachs, as an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade and Broward County, has a history of “putting victims first.”

“In the Senate, Maria Sachs put the middle class first,” it continues, “by taking on the special-interests who oppose raising the minimum wage and equal pay.”

“If you take your eye off the ball for a minute in Tallahassee,” Sachs says. “The special interests will win in the middle class families will lose.”

“I’m not letting that happen,” she adds.

SPOTTED: Newly-elected state House member Jennifer Sullivan in this national profile from ABC News.


“You might be physically better off not to have insurance than Medicaid.”

Those were the words out of Chris Sprowls mouth during a Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon in St. Pete. His opponent, Carl Zimmerman, isn’t wasting the golden nugget plopped right in his lap for a second.

“It’s an outrage that Chris Sprowls believes Floridians would be better off without any health insurance than to have Medicaid,” Zimmerman wrote in a statement.

What Zimmerman’s statement doesn’t say is that Sprowls almost instantly realized what he said wasn’t going to look so good to voters and followed it up with, “I don’t know if I believe that.”

After-the-fact qualifiers aside, this could be the “if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance” gaffe of the north Pinellas District 65 race.

Florida is home to almost 1 million people who would have qualified for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but now don’t because the Republican-controlled legislature turned down federal funding to expand the program.

Worse for that group, because of the way insurance exchanges work based on the healthcare law, those individuals who earn less than the federal poverty level don’t qualify for a subsidy on private insurance. That means someone earning $11,670 a year or less would have to pay more for their health insurance than someone making as much as $45,960.

EPILOGUE: POLLS SHOW SARASOTA COUNTY DIVIDED via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Sarasota County is a lot of things politically, but one thing voters certainly proved it is not: monolithic.

That point was driven home with Tuesday’s election, which showed big geographic divides that offer a warning to future candidates that one size does not fit all in Sarasota County.

But even within South County, differences are emerging in Republican Party ranks that make the region harder to forecast.

For instance, in the state House District 74 primary battle between Republicans Julio Gonzalez and Richard DeNapoli, voters in Venice and North Port took opposing approaches.

DeNapoli won in North Port with 51 percent of the vote. But Venice favored Gonzalez, with 64 percent of the vote.

Because turnout was much higher in Venice, Gonzalez won the seat, despite losing North Port, the county’s largest city.


Statewide winners: State Reps. Eric Eisnaugle and Dane Eagle; The Establishment; Pat Bainter/Data Targeting; Chip Case; Disney; Brett Doster; Enwright Consulting; Dr. Julio Gonzalez; Brian Hughes; Javier Manjarres; The Florida Medical Association; Randy Nielsen; St. Pete Polls; U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio; Jennifer Sullivan; Michelle Todd; Ryan Tyson; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho.

Statewide losers: Chris Dorworth; Jack Hebert; Florida Times Union; Integrity Florida; Orange County and Polk County Supervisors of Elections; Anthony Pedicini; Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera; Gov. Rick Scott; Adam Smith; Rep. Perry Thurston and Trees.

Tampa Bay winners: Associated Builders and Contractors, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter; Capitol Consulting Patrick Manteiga Greenlight Pinellas and Pinellas County Young Republicans

Tampa Bay losers: Barry Edwards; April Griffin; Sean Shaw; Chris Sprowls and The Tea Party.


They used to be called an Academy.

They were giant killers who knocked off the man who, in his own words, owned the Senate; it was “his chamber” after all. And they fended off the enemy in high style; beating back an FMA-sponsored ballot measure in 1988 with ease.

And the next decade was very good for them. With near-constant electoral victories through most of the 1990’s, the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers was the 800-pound gorilla in Florida’s political zoo.

Then something happened.

First came a stinging loss at the ballot box.

Then came the name change.

No longer called an “Academy,” it was rebranded to something that sounds more like a consortium of men in tights.  The Justice League, err, the “Justice Association” was coming to save the day, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, saving kittens from trees, rescuing damsels in distress, and standing for truth, justice and the American way.

Give me a break.

***The Fiorentino Group is a full service government relations and business development firm providing a broad range of consulting services to clients looking to influence public policy and create new business opportunities. The Fiorentino Group’s team of advocates is one of the largest in the state and has decades of experience in state, local and federal government relations and new business development.***

IF ONLY I COULD GO: “The International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) cordially invites you to our 47th World Conference scheduled from November 16-19, 2014 in the Eternal City – Rome!”


Slater Bayliss, Sarah Busk, Stephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Brandt Information Services, Inc.

Patrick Bell, Capitol Solutions: Hamilton County School District; Rollins v. Jackson Memorial Hospital


On Context FloridaBob Sparks subscribes to the theory, supported by history, which suggests the candidate that best maximizes turnout in Brevard, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Polk counties will win. Tuesday’s primary election does not change that reality. Amendment 2, the effort to legalize medical marijuana, self-regulates by the creation of so-called “caregivers,” which Barney Bishop refers to as Sugar Daddies or more appropriately Pot Wizards. Andrew Skerritt asks what Jennifer Carroll thought would happen after millionaire candidate Rick Scott plucked her out of obscurity to run for lieutenant governor. More than once over the six months Shannon Nickinson spent reporting material for what became the Pensacola Metro Report, she was asked what she thought the bottom line was from the report. The bottom line is that we have to do better.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.


Uber is now going to Florida State University, as the tech innovator begins Tallahassee service, one of 22 college towns across the country that launched the on-request towncar service.

With its latest growth burst, Uber now provides safe and affordable transportation in over 200 cities worldwide, as well as 55 percent of the US population.

Beginning Thursday, up to 600,000 students will be able to get Uber, all with the push of a button, through Uber’s ridesharing service UberX. Users will enjoy the company’s famed reliability at prices even a college student can afford—much cheaper than a local taxi.

In an email to Uber’s supporters and customers, as a way to celebrate expansion into Tallahassee, new and existing customers will get the first five rides free through September 1.

Uber offers the lowest fares in Tallahassee: Trips from the airport to University Way are around $13; West 10 to The Strip is around $9; and Dick Howser Stadium to Heritage Grove is around $6.

Riders can also split fares with friends, for more affordable rides.

To further appeal to college students, Uber is offering a promotion called #uberXtraCredit. Users share a photo of the view from Uber on either Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #UberFSU. A winner chosen from FSU Uber users could get$500 in Uber credits.


Yesterday’s TBT commemorates famous 20th Century filibusters in American politics — why? Because August 28 marks the 57th anniversary, to the day, of Sen. Strom Thurmond’s record breaking solo filibuster. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes — a commendable feat, were it not for his purpose behind doing so. Mr. Thurmond got his pipes winded for the ignoble goal of preventing the Senate from voting on the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He concluded with the understatement, “I expect to vote against the bill.”

What issues led other filibusterers to their political soliloquies?

In 1953, Sen. Wayne Morse of Oregon set the record at the time for a filibuster lasting 22 hours and 26 minutes, intended to denounce an oil bill.

In 1939, Sen. Jefferson Smith filibustered a bill that would have permitted dam construction on the site of his proposed boys camp; and in 1935, Sen. Huey Long chattered on for 15 hours and 30 minutes fighting the passage of a New Deal bill that would have aided political enemies with jobs in Louisiana.

Perhaps the greatest combined filibuster time award goes to Sen. Alfonse D’Amato. In 1986, this New York Republican spoke for 23 and a half hours to stall an amendment to a military bill that would have cut funding for a jet manufacturer in his district. Then, in 1992, D’Amato filibustered again for 15 hours and 14 minutes to hold up a $27 billion tax bill. His total uninterrupted talking time for those two measures alone: 37 hours and 44 minutes.

Perhaps of interest to those with currency gripes today, the fourth longest filibuster in American political history happened in 1908 over the Aldrich-Vreeland act, which permitted the US Treasury to lend funds to banks during financial crises. This 18 hour and 23 minute filibuster was performed by Sen. Robert La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin.

In case you were wondering, the English term filibuster derives from the Dutch word, vrijbuiter, which means pirate or robber, and was first used in military contexts. It wasn’t until 1853 when Mississippi Rep. Albert Brown used the term to describe a ‘filibustering intervention’ in Cuba, that the word entered the political lexicon.


Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: Dr. Jeff Chanton

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Jim Davis, Rick Baker, Dr. Susan MacManus, Steve Bousquet

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Primary election wrap-up

Political Connections on CF 13: Primary election wrap-up

The Usual Suspects which airs on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC) is off this week.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the one and only Nancy Watkins —  the woman behind, well, almost everyone in Florida politics AND a gracious, welcoming host.


Pumpkin-spice lattes will go on sale at McDonald’s Corp. restaurants in some regions starting Sept. 1 and at Starbucks Corp. cafes the following day. Starbucks, based in Seattle, is letting customers get the drink early this year by whispering a code — First PSL — to a cafe barista.

American’s craving for pumpkin delicacies has become a seasonal ritual that’s only grown in recent years. The success of the Starbucks lattes, which the chain started selling about a decade ago, has prompted a flood of pumpkin-flavored fare, including Pinnacle brand pumpkin-pie vodka from Beam Suntory Inc. and pumpkin-spice Jell-O from Kraft Foods Group Inc. Even pets are joining in, with Nestle SA’s Purina touting the ingredient in its new dog chow.

U.S. pumpkin-flavored sales jumped 14 percent to about $308 million in 2013, according to Nielsen. The extra demand helped push pumpkin prices up 11 percent last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in March.

Starbucks, which has about 11,700 U.S. locations, said last year that it had sold more than 200 million pumpkin lattes since the introduction in 2003. The world’s biggest coffee-shop chain also is offering pumpkin scones, pumpkin cream-cheese muffins and Via pumpkin-spice instant latte drink mixes this year.

Packaged-food companies are getting in on the action too. PepsiCo Inc.’s Quaker brand will offer a pumpkin and spice flavored instant oatmeal for a limited time this fall, said Jay Cooney, a spokesman. General Mills Inc. will sell half-dozen pumpkin-flavored products this season, including Betty Crocker cookie mix, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and Yoplait yogurt.

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.