Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 9.06.16 — The end of summer horribilis? Not yet

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

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


To say Florida has had a tough summer may be an understatement.

A deadly attack on an Orlando nightclub. Zika. And now a hurricane.

The turbulent summer thrust the Sunshine State into the spotlight, and not necessarily for the best reasons. But the rocky few months have given Gov. Rick Scott a chance to to shed his stilted persona and shine as the leader of the state.

“Rick Scott has been in perpetual motion all summer dealing with several significant crises,” said Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican.

Following the June attack on Pulse nightclub, the Naples Republican spent days in Orlando, visiting the injured, attending prayer services, and meeting with leaders of the LGBT community. Later, when cases of locally transmitted Zika cases began popping up in South Florida, Scott held roundtables across the state and regularly appearing on cable TV to to raise awareness and call for action.

As Hurricane Hermine whipped through Florida, the Naples Republican hunkered down in Tallahassee, providing news from the state emergency operations center and offering updates on Twitter in both English and Spanish.

When the dust settled, he toured the impacted neighborhoods, bringing the media along with him for the ride. He met with families who were without power, thanked utility workers and even checked in on a reporter whose home was damaged by the storm.

“Gov. Scott’s leadership has played a key role in helping overcome challenges that have impacted many Floridians this summer,” said Mark Wilson, the president CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We appreciate his commitment and dedication to ensuring the safety and security of Floridians, and continuing to make Florida a great place to live, learn, work and play.”

While politics shouldn’t be a factor in times of disaster, the boost to Scott’s public profile could help him in the long run. He is often listed among the least popular governors in the nation, and a June Public Policy Polling survey showing 38 percent of Florida voters said they approved of him.

But his response to the hurricane could change that. Gov. Jeb Bush left office with a 64 percent approval rating, likely due in part to how Bush handled the nine hurricanes that swept through the state under his watch.

Once rumored to be among those Donald Trump considered as his running mate, Scott is often mentioned as a possible 2018 U.S. Senate candidate. His political profile is rising — he had a prime speaking spot at the Republican National Convention and is the chairman pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now.

Once the recovery efforts end, expect Scott to pivot back to the topic he ran on and has claimed the most success during his six years in office: Jobs.

Darrick McGhee, the Vice President of Governmental Relations at Johnson & Blanton and Scott’s former Director of Legislative Affairs, said Scott “set out to not only become the governor of Florida but also to make our state the number one place to create and retain jobs.”

“Today, we bear witness to the truth that he kept his word and now our state is taken serious by site selectors near and far,” said McGhee in an email. “Many never gave him a chance to reside in the Governor’s Mansion, but today, he is enjoying his sixth year in the residence because he has remained committed to his ideal platform of 1). Jobs; 2). Education; and 3). Lowering the cost of living.”

How Floridians will reflect back on the way Scott handled crazy summer remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: It will take a lot to forget the summer of 2016.

— “Florida governor’s crisis-management playbook seems to be working” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

HERMINE FORCES SCOTT TO CANCEL TRIP TO WASHINGTON via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott will not travel to Washington this week to discuss Zika funding, staying in Florida to deal with hurricane recovery. Scott was to meet with lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday but has been handling the latest crisis, Hurricane Hermine. The trip will be rescheduled, an aide said.

POWER STRUGGLE? TALLAHASSEE, STATE AT ODDS IN STORM RECOVERY via Gary Fineout and Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – The big question in Tallahassee is whether you have power, and whether you think local officials are to blame for the grinding pace of restoring electricity following Hurricane Hermine. The rising anger played on social media and in the political sphere, with the Governor and Tallahassee mayor trading accusations about the slow pace of recovery.

As of Monday evening, more than 20,000 customers in Leon County were still without power. That contrasts with other parts of the state where there were only a few thousand still without electricity. Scott … has openly questioned if city and county officials are doing enough, putting out a news release Sunday that said the city had rejected debris removal assistance.

The city’s Mayor, Andrew Gillum … reacted quickly and said the Governor’s comments weren’t true. Scott’s office later said there had been a “misunderstanding” … Scott defended his approach Monday, saying that “most people would say I’m rather aggressive in trying to solve problems” and that he would continue to pressure city officials until all the power was restored. “I’m responsible for all 20.6 million people in the state and it’s real important to me people get back to school and get back to work,” Scott said.

The mayor took to social media to fire back at critics. “It appears that the heat has driven some to speculate wildly about what help I have accepted or rejected on behalf of the city in our effort to recuperate from this storm. … Let me be clear. We are happy to accept any help from any person or organization that is going to accelerate the speed at which we can safely restore power to our residents.”

Gillum and Scott then had a tense exchange Monday afternoon at a meeting called by the Governor to discuss recovery efforts. The Mayor told Scott point-blank that putting out press releases and making statements on Twitter would “undermine our cooperative process.” He also said that Tallahassee took a near direct hit from Hermine, causing extensive damage.

Scott retorted that it may bother some people but that he wasn’t going to stop pushing for more to be done.

SOME BACK STORY via Jim Rosica

Gillum says he was “never aware” of a formal offer by Florida Power & Light, for instance, to aid in restoring power. He referred to a roundtable briefing with Scott that included him and FPL president Eric Silagy, among many others.

“I heard them list what assets they had available, as did the several other utilities present in the room,” Gillum told

In an earlier Facebook post, he added: “We are happy to accept any help from any person or organization that is going to accelerate the speed at which we can safely restore power to our residents.” But a review of a video of that Friday meeting shows Silagy did extend a helping hand, whether formally or informally.

During that briefing, Silagy said his utility had “redeployed a fair number of people in the north, (around) Lake City … we have 575 personnel there now. “I’m going to send those out unless anybody needs them,” he says in the video.

Gillum is sitting directly across the table from Silagy. And city utilities chief Rob McGarrah can be seen two seats down, nodding his head as Silagy speaks. “Is there anything you know that you can be helpful with?” Scott finally asked.

“We’ve been talking, we made the offer, whatever is necessary we’re happy to help,” Silagy said.

No one from the city, including Gillum, responded.

The City Commission plans to meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday in a special meeting to “discuss the impacts of Hurricane Hermine and the restoration progress. This meeting will be open to the public.”

DISPATCH AGENCY DIRECTOR LEFT TALLAHASSEE SATURDAY MORNING FOR FAMILY VACATION via – … Dee Crumpler, the Director of the Consolidated Dispatcher Agency (CDA), left Tallahassee Saturday morning for a family vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, two days after Hurricane Hermine moved through Leon County … Crumpler confirmed the information and said  the vacation had been planned for months and the CDA Board was aware of his trip. When asked about the impact of his absence after the hurricane, Crumpler said, “we have a good team in place” … Crumpler was appointed interim Director of the CDA in December 2015 and appointed permanent Director of the CDA in May of this year with a salary of $140,000. TR visited the Leon County Public Safety Complex Sunday and was told that Crumpler was not on the premises, but would not confirm his location. TR attempted to reach Vince Long and Sheriff Mike Wood, both members of the CDA Board, but texts and phone calls were not returned. Crumpler was appointed to the position without a formal job search after Tim Lee resigned from the position. Crumpler was recommended for the position by City Manager Rick Fernandez.

MARCO RUBIO VISITS STORM HIT TALLAHASSEE RESIDENTS via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat – During a 45-minute roundtable discussion at the county Emergency Operations Center,Rubio expressed concern for small, rural counties that will depend on the Federal Emergency Management Administration and state agencies for restoring electricity, maintaining public health and rebuilding communities. He said he would meet with Sen. Bill Nelson … to make sure FEMA – already beleaguered by wildfires out west and disastrous flooding in Louisiana – does not forget Florida. “I worry about those small, rural counties especially,” he said. “It might be small dollars for the rest of the world, but for them, it might be a quarter of their economy. That could be the impact.” “Our goal is to just cut through the paperwork,” Rubio said. “We are still helping Northwest Florida counties deal with FEMA claims from 10 or 12 years ago, some of which are tied up in bureaucratic wrangling and the appeals process.” At the county’s Consolidated Dispatch Center, Rubio met with Sheriff Mike Wood, County Commissioner Bryan Deloge, Mayor Andrew Gillum, state Rep. Alan Williams, state Sen. Bill Montford, and several city and county administrators for a quick rundown on the situation 36 hours after Hermine hit.

NO CLASSES AT FSU via Jack Latvala on Facebook: “An update from FSU President John Thrasher. He has just completed a meeting with city officials and they expect power to be restored to residence halls by later today. They have made the decision to close the campus thru Tuesday. So no classes til Wed!”

FIVE DOLPHINS FOUND STRANDED OFF ISLAMORADA IN FLORIDA KEYS via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald – Four of the spinner dolphins were found Saturday 20 miles north of Islamorada on the flats near Rabbit Key, said Art Cooper with the Key Largo-based Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Response Team. A fifth was found a short distance off Lower Matecumbe Key. Three of the dolphins were so dehydrated and had such elevated heart rates that federal wildlife officials determined they had to be euthanized, Cooper said. The recovered dolphins were taken to Dolphins Plus in Key Largo. Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution scientists evaluated the two other dolphins and had them transported to SeaWorld in Orlando for further treatment. “All received subcutaneous fluids and had blood taken for veterinary evaluation,” Cooper said.

PRAYERS FOR CEDAR KEY via Dana Young on Facebook: “Those of you who know me are aware that many generations of my family are from Cedar Key, FL. CK was devastated by Hermine. Pray for CK.”

FLOODING OF COAST, CAUSED BY GLOBAL WARMING, HAS ALREADY BEGUN via Justin Gillis of The New York Times – For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline. Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes. Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding – often called ‘sunny-day flooding’ – along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly. Shifts in the Pacific Ocean mean that the West Coast, partly spared over the past two decades, may be hit hard, too. … The gridlock in Washington means the United States lacks not only a broad national policy on sea-level rise, it has something close to the opposite: The federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars in ways that add to the risks, by subsidizing local governments and homeowners who build in imperiled locations along the coast. As the problem worsens, experts are warning that national security is on the line. Naval bases, in particular, are threatened; they can hardly be moved away from the ocean, yet much of their land is at risk of disappearing within this century.

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DAYS UNTIL: NFL season kick-off – 2; First presidential debate – 20; First day domestic vote-by-mail ballots can be sent – 27; First day of early voting – 52; Election Day – 62; Legislative Organization Session – 76; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 100; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 181.

PRO-DONALD SPACE TRUMP SUPER PAC LED BY RICK SCOTT STRUGGLES POST-PAUL SPACE MANAFORT DEPARTURE via Theodore Schleifer of CNN – The super PAC once envisioned to be the main advertising force behind Trump is sputtering into the fall, beset by a pang of concern ever since Trump’s campaign chief departed and as key donors spurn the group’s appeals for last-minute checks … people close to the group Rebuilding America Now have begun expressing worry that they no longer have the campaign’s blessing that they labored to earn from Manafort. And after once imagining an ambitious, aggressive fundraising campaign in which they match Hillary Clinton‘s super PAC operation with a $100 million-plus budget, group officials and donors — including Florida Gov. Scott — are now selling a more restrained operation, one focused on merely three or four states and spending about half of the original target. The super PAC this summer aired almost $13 million in television ads, more than any other Trump group, giving them some air cover until the Trump campaign was able to begin advertising two weeks ago. This week, however, it suddenly stopped the paid media campaign, despite prior statements that they would be on television until Election Day. The ouster of Manafort — the longtime Washington lobbyist — as Trump’s campaign chairman has caused alarm. Trump’s new leadership, especially Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon, has strong ties to a rival super PAC run by aides to GOP megadonor Bob Mercer. And while Rebuilding America Now officials stress they have a path forward, some in the organization are now looking over their shoulder more than ever.

IT ALWAYS LEADS BACK TO FLORIDA – TRUMP PAYS IRS A PENALTY FOR HIS FOUNDATION VIOLATING RULES WITH GIFT TO AID FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL via David Fahrenthold of The Washington PostTrump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, an official at Trump’s company said, after it was revealed that Trump’s charitable foundation had violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Florida’s attorney general. The improper donation, a $25,000 gift from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, was made in 2013. At the time, Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case. In that year’s tax filings, The Post reported, the Trump Foundation did not notify the IRS of this political donation. Instead, Trump’s foundation listed a donation — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas charity with a name similar to that of Bondi’s political group. In fact, Trump’s foundation had not given the Kansas group any money. The prohibited gift was, in effect, replaced with an innocent-sounding but nonexistent donation.

TRUMP, DISMISSING ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPRIETY, SAYS DONATION TO FLA. ATTORNEY GENERAL CAME WITH NO STRINGS via Jose DelReal of The Washington Post – “I never spoke to her, first of all; she’s a fine person beyond reproach. I never even spoke to her about it at all. She’s a fine person. Never spoken to her about it. Never,” Trump said while speaking to reporters in Ohio. “Many of the attorneys general turned that case down because I’ll win that case in court. Many turned that down. I never spoke to her.” The large donation, made by the Donald J. Trump Foundation in 2013, violated federal rules that prohibit charities from making donations to political candidates. Trump and his team also failed to disclose the large gift to the Internal Revenue Service, instead reporting that the donation was given to an unrelated group with a similar name — effectively obscuring the contribution. Bondi ultimately decided not to open an investigation against Trump’s embattled for-profit education business. Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year after reports surfaced about the gift and disclosure error. Representatives for the Trump Organization said that Trump reimbursed the foundation the full $25,000 from his own accounts after watchdog groups and news organizations began asking questions. The Trump business said it had taken all necessary steps to correct the errors. Asked by reporters what he expected to receive in return for his donation, Trump said that he and Bondi have known each other for years. “I have a lot of respect for her. Never spoke to her about that at all. I just have a lot of respect for her and she’s very popular,” he said.

RUBIO’S FORMER FLORIDA DONORS SHIFT FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO TRUMP via Alex Leary and Connie Humberg of the Tampa Bay TimesJohn Angelbeck of Ocala … is one of 640 Floridians who supported Rubio financially but have given to Trump since the primary … That illustrates Trump’s appeal among dedicated Republicans in the state. By contrast, only 113 donors to former Gov. Jeb Bush have given to Trump since Bush withdrew from presidential contention in February. Bush was an early and vocal critic of Trump on the campaign trail and drew sustained attacks from his nemesis, while Rubio only tangled with Trump later in the contest. Some Bush loyalists could share his concern that Trump remains unfit for the presidency, the data suggests. In all, Trump has gotten about $204,000 from people who also gave to Rubio. From Bush donors: just $56,000. A big exception is Charles Johnson of Palm Beach. The billionaire financier and part owner of the San Francisco Giants in July gave $100,000 to Great America PAC, a group supporting Trump. Previously Johnson had given $1.5 million to a super PAC supporting Bush. Nearly 40 people who gave to Rubio or Bush have contributed to Hillary Clinton since the Floridians dropped out. The list includes business people and lobbyists who may have an interest beyond ideology, though there appear to be a handful of average voters in the mix. In the primary, Trump boasted he did not need others’ money, saying he would not be beholden to special interests. But he has quickly ramped up fundraising for the general election, tapping into small-dollar donations but also holding formal events.

GWEN GRAHAM SAYS SHE GETS PART OF TRUMP’S APPEAL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – While Graham’s an ardent Democrat supporting Hillary Clinton for president, she says she understands part of the appeal of Trump, who remains extremely competitive in Florida, despite the fact that he has had only one campaign office in the entire state (and despite reports that he would soon open up two dozen offices, which has yet to happen). “Mr. Trump has been able to tap into a frustration and disappointment in some areas in the way that our government is functioning, and in that respect, I don’t disagree with him,” she says. “He is a symptom of what I see at times, which is that people don’t put those that you’re elected to serve first, and when you allow partisanship to stand in the way of getting things done, then people have a rightful reason and a rightful frustration about government. I hope this is a wake-up call to those who take more of an ideological position when they’re making decisions that it’s time to get back to really governing again.” Graham’s Democratic Party bona fides are most prominent when talking about the environment, as she rains down criticism on Rick Scott’s leadership — or lack thereof. She says if she ran the state government, she would add scientists and conservationists to water management boards around the state, and not political appointees.

HILLARY CLINTON IN TAMPA TODAY — According to the presidential nominee’s press office, she’s set to speak Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. at the University of South Florida Student Recreation Center. Clinton is scheduled to discuss national security and her opponent, Republican Donald Trump. This will be Clinton’s fourth visit to the Tampa Bay area this year.

BILL CLINTON TO CAMPAIGN IN ORLANDO WEDNESDAY via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida Clinton will campaign in Orlando Wednesday to talk about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s plans “to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” the Clinton campaign announced … His visit will be the day after Hillary Clinton’s campaign stop in Tampa … She will be talking about her “plans to keep our nation safe, including by working with our allies, and outline how Donald Trump doesn’t have the temperament to serve as commander in chief,” according to the campaign. The latest poll shows Clinton with a marginal 2-point lead over Trump, 44-42, among likely Florida voters, according to Mason-Dixon Research & Associates poll. Hispanics back Clinton by 63-27 percent over Trump and African-Americans by an eye-popping spread of 91-5 percent. Women support Clinton 51-37 percent over Trump. Trump is clobbering her among non-Hispanic whites by 54-29 percent. Men support him over Clinton by 47-36 percent. Independent or unaffiliated voters support Trump by 44-30 percent over Clinton. And he leads among Republicans by 78-10 percent. Clinton has relatively more support in her party and leads Trump 83-7 percent among Democrats.

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ELECTION WATCHDOG SCRUTINIZING PATRICK MURPHY via Jonathan Swan of The Hill – The Federal Election Commission … is reviewing a complaint alleging that the campaign of Rep. Patrick Murphy accepted potentially illegal contributions in 2011 … The complaint by the Republican super-PAC claims that a donor and childhood friend of Murphy’s, Ibrahim Al-Rashid, avoided campaign contribution limits by using the names of employees and the parents of his then-partner as “straw donors” when the money really came from the Al-Rashid family. A total of $24,000 was involved. Ibrahim and his brother Ramzi, also named on the complaint, are the sons of a powerful, and politically-connected Saudi billionaire. Ibrahim Al-Rashid has been major financial benefactor of Murphy’s, giving almost $400,000 to his campaigns and outside groups supporting Murphy since the Florida congressman first ran in 2012 … The alleged straw donor payments included a $300 donation from a woman who identified herself on the FEC form as a “property manager” for a company called Limestone Property Management. In a second donation listed on the complaint, the woman was identified on the FEC form as “owner” of Limestone Property Management when she gave $1,200 to then-Senate candidate Charlie Crist. But she is neither the property manager nor the owner of the Texas-based company. In fact, she doesn’t work there. Ramzi Al-Rashid manages Limestone Property Management, according to public records. The woman lived in Miami at the time and was the “cleaning lady” for Ramzi’s brother Ibrahim … The FEC has no record of her making a campaign contribution before the two payments to Murphy and Crist.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Murphy will hold a press conference call at 11:30 a.m. Interested media is asked to RSVP to

AGGRESSIVE DIGITAL STRATEGY MADE MATT GAETZ’S CD 1 PRIMARY VICTORY LOOK DECEPTIVELY EASY via Florida PoliticsGaetz may have enjoyed an easy victory in Florida’s 1st Congressional District …  But in reality, the double-digit win … was far from simple. Much of Gaetz’s triumph came by way of an aggressive digital media effort, spearheaded by the Tallahassee-based Enwright Consulting Group. The way to win modern elections has changed …  Enwright embraced the concept of digital-first strategies, particularly at the legislative level. And that bet paid off …  Enwright made digital a top priority for Gaetz’s campaign, employing a two-pronged approach: Facebook and email. The campaign used email for identifying new supporters, fundraising and providing relevant voter content. Social media offered cutting-edge voter outreach, with Gaetz’s Facebook page leaning heavily on video, GIFs and other digital assets … The campaign also relied on the foundations of digital marketing — particularly A/B testing. Enwright developed just the right emails and subject lines that resonated best with voters, building a solid base of support for Gaetz before a single ballot was cast. Data collected from emails and other digital sources was then used for more traditional campaign tools. Armed with the right message, perfectly crafted for Northwest Florida Republicans, volunteers began reaching out with door-to-door canvassing, phone banks and get-out-the-vote efforts. As for Facebook, Enwright says the stats speak for themselves: Gaetz’s Facebook page received 44,000 likes. Those fans also were politically active, and 28 percent more likely to return vote-by-mail ballots. More than 1,700 Gaetz supporters were identified through Facebook, and 25 percent of them — as well as 26 percent of engaged users — were aged 65 or older, a key demographic in CD 1. The top-performing post had a reach of 47,457 unique users. Enwright also points to the effectiveness of email as a fundraising tool; email was responsible for raising more than $20,000, with an average online contribution of $152. More than 400 individual supporters were identified through email campaigns, and addresses were categorized by issue, with custom messages sent to 5,000 voters, urging them to donate and vote.

CARLOS CURBELO REVEALS 2 NEW TV ADS CENTERED ON THE ENVIRONMENT via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – In one TV ad, Curbelo is boating with one of his young daughters and talking in English about how nature is a key part of life — and the economy — in the Florida Keys. In the other, he’s sitting around the kitchen table with his own mom and dad, who retell the story in Spanish about how they left Cuba for the U.S. The message from the first ad: Curbelo is a Republican who cares about the environment and climate change (though he never utters the words “climate change”). The message from the second ad: Curbelo is a Cuban American willing to curtail “abuse” from some Cuban immigrants who receive U.S. government benefits. Curbelo’s two ads will start airing Tuesday, his campaign said: one in Monroe County and the other on Spanish-language networks across Florida’s 26th congressional district, which extends from Westchester to Key West.

EPILOGUE: TREY RADEL TO HOST SWFL RADIO SHOW DAYBREAK AGAIN via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily NewsRadel, who resigned his congressional seat in the wake of a cocaine scandal, will return to the radio job he had before politics, hosting the Daybreak for Fox 92.5. “I’m really thankful at how well received I’ve been,” Radel said in an interview. Radel hosted the show before he resigned in 2011 to run for Congress. Jim Schwartzel, the station’s manager, said after receiving hundreds of applications, Radel was the clear choice for the position. “Trey’s local knowledge stood out. He’s been in Southwest Florida for a long time and really understands all of the issues that affect Southwest Florida. And he articulates them well,” Schwartzel said. Radel was also previously an anchor at WINK-TV from 2007 to 2009. After his resignation from Congress, he started a consulting company, Trey Radel Media Group. Radel laid low while he was recovering and planning his next moves. But since Drew Steele‘s resignation in June, he’s been back on the radio, guest hosting while the job offer was solidified. He’s also working on a book.

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RECOUNT OVER: DARRYL ROUSON IS THE VICTOR IN SENATE DISTRICT 19 BATTLE via Caitlin Johnson of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida election officials won’t certify the results until Thursday, but machine and manual recounts in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties … confirmed that Rouson garnered 73 more votes than [Ed] Narain in the state’s most closely contested primary. “I’m glad to see some finality,” Rouson said. “I’m anxious to represent the people of this district who came out and voted and expressed themselves. I’m grateful to all of the constituents” … Teams in both counties spent more than six hours Friday going through two separate recounts to verify the vote tally. Rouson and Narain’s vote totals did not change after the machine recount. Narain gained two votes in Pinellas after the manual recount. Pinellas certified its results and sent them to the state … Hillsborough will do the same early next week. “The number of votes remained the same,” said Gerri Kramer, spokeswoman for Hills­borough County Supervisor of Elections. “We will certify our results Tuesday, but nothing will change.”

JASON MAUGHAN POSTS LENGTHY RANT ON FACEBOOK AFTER SD 27 LOSS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The Sanibel Island Republican had hoped to unseat Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto in Senate District 27. He failed … But rather than concede gracefully, Maughan took to Facebook to bash Benacquisto, who is expected to play a prominent role in the Florida Senate in the coming years: “We have accomplished a great turnout in defense of our community. We faced a genuinely bought-and-paid-for bad person in our current state senator, with unlimited money from out of county and fawning cowardly media that refused to interview me even once about the issues and blocked any chance for debate or head to head … This experience has merely shown us the righteousness of this cause and the criminality of current politics that are intentionally destroying our waterways.” Need more proof he’s a sore loser? Maughan said the only reason Benacquisto received as much support as she did was because he was only in the race for two months. “Our combined efforts showed over only the last two months (!) delivered a third of the county. She and Big Sugar knows that if we had six months she would have zero votes; I intend to give her that experience … My team and I sat up last night and drafted a multi-front battle plan to move forward for clean water and real conservative values.”


house majority pac

CLAY YARBOROUGH DISCUSSES HIS VICTORY IN HD 12, OUTLINES PATH FORWARD via Florida Politics – Yarborough was ahead in polls (one we saw had him up by 20 points a few weeks out from Election Day). He was also ahead in fundraising. Then, in the end, it got interesting. A third-party mailer from the Conservative Leadership Fund surfaced that darkened Freeman’s features, raising the ire of Republicans across the state, including Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran. Yarborough told us it came from “outside of Jacksonville” and that he knew nothing about why it dropped. Outside mailers and money came in for Freeman against Yarborough, from such disparate elements as trial lawyers, business consortia and gambling interests. Yarborough held on. And won by almost 10 points. His campaign … was a much bigger version of the “robust grass roots” effort that won him his council seat in 2007, augmented by mail pieces and social media. “You never know until the returns show up,” Yarborough said. Freeman’s surge and Yarborough’s relative loss of position were due to mail on Freeman’s behalf, which Yarborough said: “saw numbers go up for Freeman.” “Once the mail started to roll out,” Yarborough said, Freeman’s numbers went up. Yarborough countered this with a “heavy effort” on the grass roots side, especially in the two-thirds of the district that hadn’t had him as their councilman. Nothing fancy about his strategy: a uniform outreach, chasing absentee ballots and — the “biggest thing” — standing on his “conservative record” and amplifying that message. Attacks against Yarborough didn’t shake his base, the candidate said.

THE POLITICAL REDEMPTION OF REGGIE FULLWOOD via Florida Politics – While he fights a legal battle, Fullwood also had to fight for his political life. His most viable opponent was an old friend: Tracie Davis, who had run for supervisor of elections the previous year. Davis came close to unseating Fullwood, racking up advantages in vote-by-mail ballots and early voting. The tide turned on Election Day, though, with the difference being getting eligible voters to the polls, rather than the super voters Davis targeted and won. In the end, Fullwood won every precinct located in Jacksonville City Council districts 7, 8 and 9. A significant contributing factor: the Florida Democratic Party giving $8,400 as part of more than $15,000 in contributions the last two days of the campaign … What was it like beating a friend in the primary? Fullwood’s not detached from the battle with Davis just yet. “She supposedly was a friend. Mark Griffin” — the GOP nominee that he faces in November — “supposedly was a friend.” “With friends like these,” Fullwood asked, “who needs enemies?” Fullwood believes that they saw an “opportunity,” a chance to take out a “wounded” politician. There were no sure things, of course. The money started slowly, Fullwood said and it “took a while to pull the team together.” Ultimately, it was support from people in the community that drove his decision to run, despite “embarrassment” over the legal situation. From community forums to grocery stores, he heard the same message: if you’re going to fight the charges, fight for your seat as well. One factor that will be a determinant: his motion to dismiss counts in his campaign finance case. The delayed action on that one by the judge, Fullwood said, is predicated on giving the prosecution time to respond. He expects a hearing at the end of September. And he is optimistic about how it will go.

JASON FISCHER DISCUSSES HIS HD 16 GOP PRIMARY WIN via Florida Politics – The contrast between Fischer, in his early 30s and coming off serving most of a term on the Duval County School Board, and [DickKravitz, a man in his mid-70s whose career path took him from bartender to hypeman for professional sports franchises of the 1970s and 1980s, to public office starting in the mid-1980s, was stark … Kravitz’s own probity came into question; the National Rifle Association and Marion Hammer backed Fischer in this election, throwing Kravitz into a tizzy that ended with him calling Hammer a liar too. Much of that theater happened during absentees and early voting, in a race that Fischer’s seasoned political consultant, Tim Baker, called a “brawl.” “Lost [absentee ballots], won early close, and then slammed Kravitz with Election Day,” was how Baker characterized the race. Baker also noted Mayor Lenny Curry “came in strong for Fischer with tens of thousands raised to his PAC [“Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville”] in the last 10 days and went against Matt Schellenberg in Mandarin.” Schellenberg, the district councilman in that neck of the woods, endorsed Kravitz in August. But it didn’t help enough. “Jason blew [Kravitz] out in Mandarin,” Baker added, while Kravitz did better toward the northern part of the district. Hammer, said Fischer, was “aware she was being called a liar.” Fischer had an interesting theory as to why the NRA endorsement against Kravitz vexed the political warhorse so. “He’s a career politician,” Fischer said. “It threw him off.” Those misstatements, Fischer added, are “part of the reason Kravitz lost.”

 BOBBY PAYNE’S HD 19 VICTORY SURPRISED OUTSIDERS, BUT NOT HIM via Florida Politics – In the House District 19 race to succeed Charles Van Zant, expectations were that Katherine Van Zant or former Florida GOP chair Leslie Dougher would win … after all of that, neither of them won … Payne did. His momentum … came “very late in the race.” Before that, he worked hard, and raised the majority of his money in the district. The turning point seemed to be just before Aug. 9. At that point, money started coming in — the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC, Florida Jobs PAC, Disney, Pfizer, Expedia, and the Orange Park Kennel Club all ponied up for Payne. And the polls got more favorable. One done in the last month of the race showed him closing in. And one done a couple of weeks out showed Payne in the lead. Compare that to an internal poll pushed by the Van Zant camp in May, which showed her up by one, and the trajectory is remarkable. Almost as if Payne benefited from Dougher going negative on Van Zant more than Dougher herself did. Payne noted that it got a “little bit dirty at the end,” but he stayed out of that, saying that’s not his style. Also benefiting Payne: “Putnam is the center of the district,” he said, with almost 40 percent of the population. Payne won Putnam with 55 percent of the vote, but he held his own — and then some — elsewhere. He got 47 percent of the vote in Union, 31 percent in Clay (beating out Van Zant), and 35 percent in Bradford, coming within two points of Van Zant … who was up 40 points in Bradford in that poll from the spring.

BATTLE LINES DRAWN IN HOUSE DISTRICT 60 RACE via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – If establishment-style candidates were the winners in most Tuesday primaries, one exception surprised Hillsborough County political insiders: Jackie Toledo‘s defeat of Rebecca Smith in the state House District 60 Republican primary … it’s an open question whether Toledo will be able to get the kind of financial support from prominent Republicans that Smith raised, and Democrats hope Toledo’s win means a better chance of flipping the seat for their candidate, prominent land-use lawyer David Singer … In the primary, Smith outspent Toledo more than two to one, $237,818 to $110,800, with the help of big contributions from prominent local Republicans, industry groups and PACs. Though new to politics, she’s well-known as a successful businesswoman and a past donor to GOP candidates. Can Toledo match that fundraising performance? “I really don’t know,” said Smith donor Dick Beard, for decades a prominent local GOP donor and fundraiser. He said he’s known Smith for years but doesn’t know Toledo well. The Florida Chamber of Commerce, a key backer for GOP candidates, went to bat for Smith with more than $25,000 in digital ads and mailers, but probably won’t for Toledo. But Toledo got backing from some key interest groups, including the National Rifle Association, the Florida Medical Association and the local Police Benevolent Association. Toledo said she expects a tough race against Singer, she said, “I never take any race for granted, but I can promise you, he will not work harder than I will to earn the votes in this district.”


Singer Invite

CHRIS SPROWLS FOCUSES ON HEALTHCARE PRICE TRANSPERENCY ST CAMPAIGN AD — The Palm Harbor Republican released his first TV ad of the general election. The 30-second spot focuses on the state’s efforts to provide price transparency for healthcare consumers. “There is no other sector of our economy where you don’t get a price up front or know the cost of product or service before you purchase it,” said Sprowls in a Facebook post announcing his ad. “Let’s empower consumers and encourage a vibrant health marketplace.” Sprowls, who is believed to be in like for the speakership, is running for re-election in House District 65. He’ll face Democrat Bernard Fensterwald in November.


Dean Asher, running for Florida Senate District 13, has received the endorsement of the Greater Orlando Builders Association PAC.

***PRIDE Enterprises reduces the cost of state government by offering low cost, quality goods and service to state agencies, providing inmate supervision during work hours and reducing recidivism rates. PRIDE stimulates the state economy through the purchase of raw materials and supplies from local vendors and the employment of 250 Florida residents. Visit to learn the benefits PRIDE of its industry and mission programs.***

THE MACHINATIONS USED TO DENY CARE TO ONE DISABLED FOSTER KID via Carol Marbin Miller and Alex Harris of the Miami Herald – No one at Florida’s disabilities agency disputes that S.J. is an unfortunate soul who needs help from the state just to survive. Agency heads just refused to pay for it. S.J. is a 16-year-old foster child with a significant intellectual impairment, bipolar disorder, a severe behavioral problem, and the propensity for making decisions that are so ill-advised as to “put her safety and health at risk,” a hearing officer wrote. Her mother surrendered her right to raise the teen. Her father is expected to abrogate his rights, as well. Since November 2014, when S.J. entered foster care, she has burned through 11 foster homes and seven juvenile justice facilities. But when S.J.’s guardians asked the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities to pay for S.J. … to participate in a residential program that would keep her safe and treat her disabilities, the agency balked. Though employees who evaluated the girl said she met all eligibility requirements, and recommended the girl receive aid, a Miami administrator overruled them, and then sought to cover up the prior recommendation … Regional supervisor Stacie Cleveland said APD could not help S.J. because she’s a foster kid — and, therefore, the Department of Children & Families’ problem … hearing officer Patricia C. Antonucci said S.J. was APD’s responsibility, too … Antonucci ordered APD to help the girl, adding that it didn’t matter “who should fund” the services. APD Director Barbara Palmer said in a written statement … her agency has enrolled 154 disabled foster children into its community-care program, the result of a 2015 law that requires the agency to move children in state care near the top of a 20,578-person waitlist. Disabled children in the foster care system who are about to be adopted, reunified with family members or who are young adults in extended foster care might qualify for expedited enrollment … Responding to the hearing officer’s charge that Cleveland had tried to conceal information, Palmer wrote that she expects “all of our staff members participating in this process to behave in a transparent and respectful manner,” adding that “failure to do so will not be tolerated.” Cleveland “has been strongly counseled, and has been instructed on the importance of transparency and maintaining all accurate records. She will be monitored to ensure this does not happen again.”

UF BOARD OF TRUSTEES STAYS WITH DUKE ENERGY via Jon McDonald of the Gainesville Sun – The University of Florida board of trustees voted to stay with Duke Energy as the company supplying electricity and steam to the UF main campus. Duke Energy owns and operates the co-generation plant built on campus in 1992 to produce electricity and steam. After the last contract between Duke Energy and UF expired in December 2014, Gainesville Regional Utilities and city officials had hoped to strike a deal with UF to supply electricity for the campus. But with Duke Energy and UF already in a long-standing arrangement approved by the Florida Public Service Commission and Duke Energy infrastructure on the campus, GRU’s talks with UF never advanced to a formal written proposal … UF staff is now expected to finalize and sign off on a new contract by the end of the year.

WHAT MARK KAPLAN IS READING: DIGGING IN: PHOSPHATE PRODUCER MOSAIC IS IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL via Jerome Stockfisch of the Tampa Bay Times – Phosphate provides an element indispensable for the large-scale food production that keeps the world’s 7 billion people from starving. For more than a century, U.S. production has centered almost exclusively in one area: 2,000 square miles southeast of Tampa … the largest integrated phosphate producer in the world and the last one standing in Florida’s “Bone Valley” is expanding. Mosaic Co. is looking south. It wants to expand two of its existing four mines and bring two more mines on line years down the road. “We’re on a world-class phosphate ore body in Florida,” said Neil Beckingham, Mosaic’s director of environment, health and safety operations. “I don’t think we’re in danger of running out of phosphate anytime soon. If you go back 10, 15 years, the predicted life span was 40 years of ore reserves left, and now, it’s similar; it’s roughly 40 years. “Why is it that 15 years have passed, and it’s still the same?” he asked. “It’s technology, and the ability to process more efficiently.” Mosaic goes before the Manatee County Commission next month seeking a 4,341-acre expansion of its existing 3,029-acre Wingate mine. The permitting process for a 7,513-acre expansion of the 15,705-acre South Pasture mine in Hardee County is also underway. The company is also planning two new mines: Ona, with 22,423 acres, also in Hardee; and DeSoto, 18,287 acres in the county of the same name. Mosaic declined to speculate on timetables for approvals or when dirt gets turned.


John Alexander, Silver Palm Consulting: South Florida State College Foundation

Kevin Cleary, Meghan Hoza, Ken Pruitt, The P5 Group: Charlotte Behavioral Health Care

Jonathan Kilman, Foley & Lardner: The Florida Chiropractic Society

PERSONNEL NOTE: COLIN ROOPNARINE HEADS TO BERGER SINGERMAN via Florida Politics – General Counsel Roopnarine, who has “more than 20 years of experience as regulatory counsel for five government agencies,” will be part of the firm’s Government and Regulatory Team … “Colin’s incredible experience and substantial knowledge will enhance the services we can offer to our clients, allowing us to more effectively advance their interests in administrative and regulatory matters,” said Paul Steven Singerman, co-chair of Berger Singerman. At OFR, Roopnarine represented the agency in a range of matters, “including human resources and personnel, public records law compliance, contracting, ethics and legal actions against the agency and its employees, department contracts, proposed legislation and administrative rules,” the firm said. He also was deputy general counsel of professional regulation for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and has been a hearing officer for the Public Employees Relations Commission, among other posts. Roopnarine is an adjunct professor and lecturer at the Florida State University College of Law. He earned his law degree from Florida State University and undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida.

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

CONGRATULATIONS to former state Rep. Chris Dorworth and Rebekah Hammond on their engagement.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the holiday weekend to U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, smart guy Ryan Tyson, Bobby Carbonell, and the great Valerie Wickboldt. Celebrating today are Kendrick Meek, Bobby Olszewski, and two of our friends in Jacksonville, Abel Harding and Joe Mobley.

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE — @TaylorBiehl: Just remember not to wear white after today or cargo shorts, ever.

‘YOU’LL ALWAYS BE MOMMY’S LOVING, SWEET BABY BOY’: HUNDREDS GATHER TO REMEMBER LANE GRAVES ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS THIRD BIRTHDAY via Rick Ruggles of the Omaha World-Herald – Thousands of blue balloons angled into a soft blue sky Saturday as friends and neighbors showed their support for an Elkhorn-area family in grief. Melissa and Matt Graves’ young son, Lane, died June 14 in an alligator attack on the beach of a Disney World resort in Florida. Neighbors Brandi and Mike Miller organized the event at the Elkhorn South High School football field, where hundreds of friends, relatives and supporters stood in a huge heart shape Saturday, which would have been Lane’s third birthday. Melissa and Matt Graves spoke to the crowd before an aerial photograph was taken as the group released close to 5,000 balloons into the breeze. The mother said she doesn’t care for public speaking but felt obligated to her boy to express her feelings. “My baby ­­— I owe it to honor him,” she said into a microphone as the crowd stood arrayed in the heart pattern. “You’ll always be Mommy’s loving, sweet, baby boy. … We miss you, buddy, and we miss those hugs and kisses.” Some who attended were small children, whose balloons were tied around their wrists and fingers. “Our kids all played together,” said neighbor Jennie Gollehon, who has three children. The Graveses have a 4-year-old girl, Ella, who also attended the event. “My kids talk about Lane, and they know he died, and they ask questions about ‘When are we going to die?’ ‘How long are we going to live?’” Gollehon said as the group gathered outside the football field.

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

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