Sunburn for 9/9 – 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: On this day in 1965, researchers at the University of Florida distributed the first batch of Gatorade to players on the UF football team. The Gator players needed something to restore energy sapped by the Florida sun. Little did they know this odd green beverage – designed to quench their thirst while restoring essential electrolytes – would become a financial bonanza for the university and one of the leading sports drinks in the world. Not to mention, the essential ingredient in countless celebratory  Gatorade baths for victorious coaches!

Now, on to the ‘burn…


U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson filed a resolution on Monday to give President Obama clear legal authority to launch air strikes inside Syria against terrorist forces known as ISIL.

 “This is a barbaric group that’s committed heinous acts of torture and murder, and we have to go after them now – not only in Iraq, but in Syria as well,” Nelson said.

Obama has ordered air strikes against ISIL in Iraq to protect Americans there, including the U.S. Consulate.  But some policy experts question whether the administration has clear legal authority, independent of Congress, to broaden the air campaign to strike targets in Syria.

Nelson, who has criticized Obama in the past for not consulting enough with Congress, said he wanted to remove any doubts about the president’s power to strike ISIL, sometimes known as The Islamic State.


Is it all over but the shoutin’?

There are moments that it certainly looks that way – at least when observing what the Republican Party of Florida and the re-election campaign of Gov. Rick Scott are saying and doing lately.

While some polls have the race essentially tied with two months to go, the signals from the Scott campaign and their “out of state mercenaries” is that they have turned the tide and they are proceeding down the checklist of things they have come up with to win the race over Democratic rival Charlie Crist.

The two-week bus tour launched last week was a great example of that.

The bus tour, where Scott is touting a $1 billion tax cut package over the next years, appears aimed squarely at trying to rally the Republican base of voters. Scott’s new talking points for the events includes linking Crist to President Obama time and time and time again.

Now normally one would assume the need to nail down the base in the early going of a re-election campaign.

But the Scott campaign has spent the last few months spending tens of millions grinding down Crist in a series of negative ads. If the belief is that the negative ads have made Crist increasingly unacceptable to independent voters, then the idea of turning back to the base makes sense.

‘I’M CRAZY ABOUT THIS MAN,’ MASS. GOV. PATRICK SAYS OF CRIST via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who’s been mentioned as a  potential 2016 presidential candidate, campaigned with Crist in the Democratic strongholds of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

“I’m crazy about this man and this candidate,” Patrick said as he and Crist spent an hour talking to a group of eight parents about education.

“The whole nation is watching, because that’s the question in this election. There are many, but I think that’s the central question in this election. Are the people prepared to vote for supporting public schools? And I think the whole country is watching to see what the outcome is here,” Patrick said.

Patrick has campaigned for a variety of Democrats around the nation this year, fueling chatter he could run for the White House in two years.

TYPO OF THE DAY via The Independent Florida Alligator: “Scott leads Christ by six points, new poll indicates


Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan’s recent off-color rant urging young voters to support the medical marijuana ballot measure he is bankrolling is now the subject of two separate web ads — the latest aimed at tarring Crist.

The Republican Governors Association has posted a new spot Monday tying the loose-tongued Morgan to Crist, an employee of Morgan & Morgan, which an off-camera participant in the pro-marijuana event is caught proclaiming as “for the reefer.”

“With little to say about Crist’s record, Morgan resorted to drunken obscenities to try to generate excitement about voting for the notorious political opportunist,” said RGA Communications Director Gail Gitcho.

Morgan has made no apology for his comments at the Lakeland event, which followed his appearance in a debate with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, a leader in the campaign against the marijuana measure on November’s ballot.

Vote No on 2 has already aired a web ad featuring Morgan’s freestyle get-out-the-vote effort. But Morgan plans to take his act to Gainesville on Wednesday.

The pro-medical marijuana United for Care effort also is using the attack on Morgan in a fund-raising email, which calls the lawyer’s comments a “rousing, enthusiastic and impromptu speech.”

“Suffice to say, if they want to make John Morgan’s character an issue in this campaign, we’re happy to do it,” Ben Pollara, United for Care’s campaign manager, said in the email.


As a prosecutor, Pam Bondi saw crime and brutality fueled by drugs.

And that – pretty much word for word – is her opening salvo in a new television ad for her re-election as state attorney general.

Bondi, a former assistant state attorney in Hillborough County, stands in a dark alley as police lights flash in the background.

Bondi goes on to tout her work against the state’s “pill mills,” poorly regulated pain management clinics where drug users could score painkillers such as oxycodone.

The 30-second ad, “Streets,” can be watched here.

“I think that’s a remarkable accomplishment,” said her Democratic opponent, George Sheldon. “I’m very pleased that Pam is articulating that issue.

“It’s a solid ad,” he added. “She’s highlighting something’s she done.”

Sheldon said he has his own TV ad in the works but wouldn’t comment further.

MY TAKE: All that’s missing from Bondi’s ad is Mike Post’s score. Full blog post here.


With thousands of voters skipping over races on last month’s primary election ballot, some political watchers are privately musing whether it’s time to just put a “none of the above” option on Florida ballots.

In fact, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho says election officials have long kicked around the idea of whether to add a bubble for “no selection made.”

With “no selection made,” voters could signal they chose not to weigh in on a particular race rather than leaving to later interpretation whether they accidentally missed a race.

The support for such an option is mixed. Political scientists have known that some voters simply pass voting on “down-ballot” races, such as for judgeships and school board seats, when they don’t know the candidates and don’t care about the outcome.

And some elections officials say a “none” option is superfluous because the right to choose includes the right not to choose.

In the Aug. 26 primary, officials tallied thousands of “undervotes,” when a voter records no choice in a race in which he or she is eligible to vote.

HELLO, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS: “Family name could be advantage in Young, Latvala campaigns” courtesy of the Tampa Tribune


In the Political Cortadito blog, Elaine De Valle tells the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — if Snow White was a Democrat princess who empowered her dwarfs and made them feel big … just until the prince came and his kiss awoke her and took her away to state politics, leaving the little guys to mine for votes all by themselves.

Don’t look for a happy ending. At least not for them. Maybe not for her either.

The seven dwarfs, whom De Valle, who goes by the name “Ladra,” calls the “Fat Chance Crew” of Democrats that the local party found to pit against every local incumbent Republican in the House are already falling, well, um, short. You can’t even call one challenge a true campaign.

This is the same group breathlessly announced in June with much hoopla as a “No Free Rides” campaign by then Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo (aka Snow White), who has since been tapped as running mate for former Gov. Charlie Crist (aka the prince) and has moved on to work hard for her happy ever after in Tallahaseeland.

Some people say Blanca Nieve just forgot about her dwarfs and hung them out to dry, but Taddeo reminded Ladra that the challenges were symbolic and always more like practice runs for 2016.

“The most important thing is to start building our bench and getting experience, find those stars that stand out and start training them so that when those seats are more attainable, they’re ready. And we believe that will be in two years,” Taddeo added.

She said that getting local Democrats elected — like Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — was part of that process.

“These are all steps in the direction of a much stronger foothold in Miami-Dade,” said Taddeo, who spoke briefly with Ladra about the governor’s race, too.


State Rep. Frank Artiles, has a Tallahassee fundraiser in support of his re-election bid for House District 118. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Governors Club Capital Room, 202 South Adams Street in Tallahassee.


Republican mayoral challenger Lenny Curry has raised more than $1 million since launching his campaign in June and embarking on a highly successful fund-raising push, surpassing former Mayor John Peyton’s previously unprecedented $862,000 three-month haul in 2006.

Beating Peyton’s benchmark and topping $1 million — $1,004,679 to be exact — was an internal goal for Curry’s campaign from the outset as he has sought to unite the city’s often fractious Republican donors behind his candidacy.

The political action committee supporting Curry, Together For A Greater Jacksonville, raised $286,000 last month, bringing the total committee money to $694,100. He raised another $63,646 in direct campaign contributions in August, according to a report provided by his campaign, for a total of $310,579.

That money will come in handy.

Mayor Alvin Brown has raised at least $1.5 million so far, including $73,000 raised in August by his political action committee, Taking Jacksonville to the Next Level. The August contributions directly to his campaign have not yet been posted.

Brown and Curry far and away lead the field in cash contributions. City Councilman Bill Bishop, also a Republican, raised $40,870 through July.

Curry, former head of the Florida Republican Party and co-founder of Jacksonville-based ICX Group Inc., said his fund-raising total is indicative of a “movement.”


>>> U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis announced on Monday his endorsement of GOP hopeful Chris Latvala for House District 67. “Chris Latvala will work hard to represent his constituents and do what is best for Pinellas County,” Bilirakis said. “He possesses the principled leadership and values that are necessary to make an effective Representative. I am honored to endorse him and I look forward to working with him for the betterment of Pinellas County.”

>>> The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) endorses former Republican state Rep. Shawn Harrison in his bid to return to House District 63, covering parts of Hillsborough County. “It is so important we continue to offer a world-class health care system for Floridians, and we look forward to working with Shawn Harrison toward making this goal a reality.” said FMA PAC President Ralph Nobo.

>>> FMA PAC endorses Republican State Rep. Mike Hill in his re-election bid for Florida House District 2, which covers parts of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. “As a member of the House Health Innovation Subcommittee, Hill understands many of the obstacles physicians in Florida face, as well as the solutions we are developing to make the Sunshine State a model for quality healthcare throughout the nation,” Nobo said.

>>> FMA PAC is also endorsing Republican State Rep. Neil Combee in his bid for re-election to House District 39, which covers Osceola and Polk counties. “State Representative Neil Combee is a friend of medicine,” Nobo said. “His support of our efforts as a freshmen member of the Florida House is why we have endorsed his candidacy for a second term.”

>>> FMA PAC also gave the nod to incumbent Republican State Rep. Frank Artiles in his re-election bid for House District 118, which includes part of Miami-Dade County. “The Florida Medical Association is pleased to endorse Rep. Frank Artiles,” Nobo said. “His public service began in the U.S. Marine Corps, and now he continues to serve the public and the residents of Florida in the State House of Representatives.”

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University of Miami President Donna Shalala plans to step down in 2015, ending a tenure in which she raised the school’s profile but also guided the athletic department through a controversial move to the Atlantic Coast Conference and a scandal involving a rogue former booster.

Shalala, 73, took over at Miami in 2001 after serving eight years as Health and Human Services Secretary under President Bill Clinton, with whom she remains close.

Shalala’s goal was simple: She wanted to make Miami “the next great American university” and seemed to succeed in raising the school’s profile. Miami is now consistently ranked among the nation’s top 50 colleges and universities. The school’s first “Momentum” fundraising campaign under her watch raised $1.4 billion, and the second such drive is on the way to a goal of another $1.6 billion.

The school’s next fiscal year begins June 1. It’s expected a new president could be in place by then.


Capital City Consulting is adding Jen Gaviria to its team of government affairs consultants.  Gaviria brings nearly a decade of legislative branch governmental experience, with knowledge of the legislative process and the political process.

Gaviria served for three years as a legislative aide in both the Florida House and for Republican State Sen. Anitere Flores, working on her 2010 grassroots operation and 2016 re-election campaign.

“Capital City Consulting is a growing firm and we are excited to have Jen join the team,” said partner Nick Iarossi.  “As a results-oriented firm, we are confident our clients will see great value in accessing Jen’s legislative and campaign experience to accomplish their goals.”

“I am honored to join Capital City Consulting’s well-respected and reputable team,” said Gaviria.  “I look forward to working with this exceptional team of government consultants, and I am ready for this new and exciting opportunity.”

***The 4th Annual Old School Open includes three days of first-class events supporting several Florida charities! The weekend kicks off Thursday night on Sept. 18 with the Old School Wine Dinner Septemberfest in Kleman Plaza, a first-class charity auction wine dinner that includes a premium selection of wine & craft-beer tastings and catering by some of Tallahassee’s finest restaurants. On Friday, Sept. 19, the event continues with the 4th Annual Old School Golf Tournament at Southwood Golf Club. The weekend wraps up on Saturday with an exclusive tailgate at Old School before the Florida State Seminoles take on the Clemson Tigers in Doak Campbell stadium. Call (850) 391-1309 to get your tickets today!***


On Context Florida: Every judge gets a robe and a gavel. Now, Martin Dyckman says it might be necessary to include barbecue mitts. Labor Day is at least a week into the rearview mirror, so the white pants should be closeted away until next June. Peter Schorsch offers five key questions the answers to which will illuminate Florida politics like jack-o’-lanterns soon will light front porches. When the Florida courts consider several lawsuits filed recently by the Florida Education Association and other anti-voucher groups, William Mattox hopes someone will call him as a witness. He is a public school parent who agrees that some of our education tax dollars aren’t being spent in a way that serves the public interest. Scott Rothstein is the former South Florida attorney sentenced to 50 years in federal prison for perpetrating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. Before he got caught, Andrew Skerritt notes that Rothstein took enough smiling pictures with Charlie Crist to fill a photo album.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Nick Egoroff.

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.