Sunburn: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

More great feedback: Dr. Darryl Paulson: “Looks great.  This could fill a real void and is likely to be well received.” — Fmr. Senator John Grant: “…very informative. Please keep me on your list. — Anna Nix, spokesperson for George LeMieux Campaign: “Best. Thing. Ever.”

THE APOLITICAL STORY THAT WILL DOMINATE THE DAY: IS THIS FSU-TO-THE-BIG-12 IDEA FOR REAL?

Is the talk of Florida State University jumping to the Big 12 for real? Well, there’s a lot of smoke right now.  Here’s what went down over the weekend.

The Florida State Rivals site, Warchant.com, published an article in which FSU Board of Trustees Chairman Andy Haggard blasted the ACC for its new TV deal, saying the Seminoles should explore leaving for the Big 12 if it’s an option. What’s his beef? The ACC’s TV deal pays schools on average for the life of the contract about $3 million less per year than the new deal the Big 12 will soon have. And just wait until the SEC renegotiates. He doesn’t like that money gap, especially when it comes to rival Florida.

… Haggard was incorrect about one point: He said the ACC gave up third-tier TV rights to football but not basketball. The ACC office, according to crack Greensboro reporter David Morrison, says that’s not true. That ESPN owns all TV rights for all conference-controlled games for both sports.

… FSU coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t exactly shoot down the idea, although his quote in this Orlando Sentinel article seems more like coachspeak than a ringing endorsement for realignment. “There have been no official talks, but I think you always have to look out there to see what’s best for Florida State,” Fisher said. “If that [jumping to the Big 12] is what’s best for Florida State, then that’s what we need to do.”

… The latest kerfuffle at FSU is interesting, since athletic director Randy Spetman said Friday that the Seminoles were “committed to the ACC” with all their sports programs. Rumors began to run rampant yesterday, so Florida State president Eric Barron released a statement that the school “is not seeking an alternative to the ACC nor are we considering alternatives.” Case closed? Hardly. Who do you think is the AD and president’s boss? The Board of Trustees, of course.

… Yahoo! Sports reporter Dan Wetzel has a fantastic take on the story. In it, he writes that the ACC’s TV deal is backloaded, with the schools receiving only a $1 million bump next year, with a $4 million per year increase later in the contract, as late as 2021.

… So what does all of this mean? Who knows, exactly. If FSU feels it’s being shorted on money, then yeah, it should look at all of its options, as should any school.

FLORIDA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY WILL BE EVEN STRONGER THIS YEAR

Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession picked up steam last year and “all indications” point to even stronger gains this year, according to a report from Wells Fargo Securities. Positive signs include: Growth in migration to Florida; growth in hiring; housing inventory is declining; and more businesses are expanding. Perhaps the most surprising outperformer is professional and business services, which account for 40 percent of the jobs that have been added statewide since December 2009. “While Florida will still need a few more years to fully recover all of the jobs lost during the 2007-2009 recession, a change in direction is clearly evident across much of the state,” Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner and economic analyst Joe Seydle wrote.

HOW ABOUT NOT VULNERABLE: BILL NELSON’S APPROVAL RATINGS LOOKING GOOD 

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democratic incumbent that Republicans view as vulnerable in this November’s elections, was viewed favorably by 41 percent of those polled, with 26 percent saying their opinion was unfavorable, according to a new Suffolk University/WSVN-Miami poll.

NATIONAL REVIEW: CONNIE MACK AIMS FOR GEORGE LEMIEUX, HITS MARCO RUBIO

Ramesh Ponnuru: “George LeMieux, who’s running for the Republican nomination to face Senator Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), recently got the endorsement of Herman Cain. LeMieux in turn praised Cain’s “9-9-9 plan” as “one kind of reform that would be a definite improvement over our current existing tax system.” Rep. Connie Mack IV (R., Fla.), a primary rival of LeMieux, says that LeMieux has thereby “endorsed raising Florida’s sales tax to a nation-leading 16 percent…. There are many reasons why George LeMieux is wrong for Florida, but today’s support for a 16 percent sales tax must stun even the Lockstep Liberals, Senator Bill Nelson and President Barack Obama.”
I don’t have time to list all the ways Mack’s attack is ridiculous, so let me just mention one. If we had a national sales tax of 9 percent, sales taxes would rise by 9 percent nationally. Florida wouldn’t suddenly have a “nation-leading” rate. Anyway, guess who else has spoken positively about a national sales tax? Marco Rubio, the state’s Republican senator. In fact, Rubio has spoken positively about a national sales tax higher than 9 percent. Rubio endorsed Mike Huckabee for president in 2007 in part because Huckabee supports the “Fair Tax,” a national sales tax set at 30 percent. (Some people say it would be 23 percent, since the tax would be 23 percent of the price including the tax.) Last year Rubio reiterated his support for the goals of the Fair Tax.”
MISSED VOTES CONTINUE TO ADD UP FOR MACK
Mack also missed a series of votes last week, including the symbolic GOP measure to replace Pentagon cuts with spending on food stamps and social programs, adding to a growing list since he started running for U.S. Senate, reports Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times.
‘THE PROFESSOR’ DAN SMITH QUOTED IN WEEKEND WAPO ARTICLE ABOUT THE SENATE RACE: “The Republican establishment hasn’t really embraced either of these guys (LeMieux or Mack) — they seem pretty unimpressed,” Smith said.
THE HILL: DEMOCRATS WILL PICK UP TWO TO THREE CONGRESSIONAL SEATS IN FLORIDA

Redistricting in Florida created opportunities for Democrats, including a new seat in the Orlando area where former Rep. Alan Grayson is heavily favored to win.

In southeastern Florida, Rep. Allen West chose to run in a neighboring district rather than his old district, which was made more Democratic. A new internal poll from his opponent, Democrat Patrick Murphy, shows the two tied.

In West’s old district, Adam Hasner, one of the Republicans who dropped out of the Senate primary after Mack got in, faces a competitive race against the winner of the Democratic primary, where former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel is in the lead.

The state’s late primary date on August 14 gives a disadvantage to challengers, who have little time to raise money after the primary to use against the incumbent. But Democrats are hoping that ethics allegations dogging Republican Reps. David Rivera and Vern Buchanan could help them pick up a few extra seats they would otherwise be unlikely to capture.

FIRST MACK, NOW IT’S SANDY ADAMS SENDING CAMPAIGN-STYLED MAIL PAID FOR BY TAXPAYERS

In the last five weeks, U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams of Orlando has sent voters in her district a pair of two-sided mailers that tout her record on gun rights and fiscal responsibility.

One notes that Adams stood “against the use of earmarks that give your taxpayer dollars to pet projects.” The other highlights her “A” rating by the National Rifle Association. Both could help the freshman congresswoman against U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park in a fierce Republican primary this year.

But Adams’ campaign didn’t pay for the two mailers. Taxpayers did — to the tune of nearly $30,000. More here.

MUST CHARLIE CRIST ENDORSE BARACK OBAMA IN ’12 TO WIN IN ’14?

“If the Obama-Crist rally happens and Obama wins re-election (which I believe he will), Crist will have the best opening and closing ads in the 2014 primary – arms around the President, gracious remarks – the perfect visual symbol of Charlie’s acceptance into the Democratic Party,”  writes Kevin Cate in the blog of the day.

“The argument against Charlie will be that he’s not really a Democrat – but how will that argument hold up when you have the leader of the free world, the leader of the Democratic Party, heaping praise upon him?”

CATE, CAPUTO, CROWLEY, SCHALE, SCHORSCH & OTHERS debated Crist/Scott/Sink on Twitter.  Read my STORIFY capturing the conversation here.

POT, THIS IS KETTLE: EX-CON DOUG GUETZLOE OPINES ON ETHICS

“Beyond the legislature, the governor’s office has now become the cause de jour with insider lobbyist-turned-gubernatorial chief of staff Steve McNamara, who’s become the poster child for the manipulation of power and distribution of public largesse,” write ex-con/political consultant Doug Guetzloe in one of the most ego-driven, hypocritical op-eds you’ll read.

OH, THE EGO

Money-quote from Guetzloe:  “I was one of those who made a difference in Scott’s victory by helping to deliver a decisive chunk of anti-tax and Tea Party aficionados on the eve of the primary…”

By the way, Doug, IT’S MACNAMARA, NOT MCNAMARA

MORE MACNAMARA: “Gov. Rick Scott’s embattled chief of staff resigns“. See also “Fla. Gov. top aide resigns in wake of disclosures“, “Gov. Scott’s top aide resigns in wake of disclosures“, “Governor’s chief of staff quits, cites media attention“, “Scott’s staff chief resigns amid media barrage; replacement chosen” and “MacNamara out as Scott’s chief of staff, Hollingsworth in“.

DEPARTURE: Steven Ferst, chief of staff to Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker, leaving department. “He’s not leaving here on bad terms,” said DOC spox Ann Howard.

PREVIEW: BRUNO, HUKILL READY FOR BRUISING FIGHT IN SENATE DISTRICT 8

Democrat Frank Bruno, the Volusia County chairman, and Republican state Rep. Dorothy Hukill have already each raised more than $175,000 in contributions, as they effectively seek to replace term-limited Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach. Analysis here.

TRUDI WILLIAMS DROPS OUT OF STATE SENATE RACE, CLEARING WAY FOR LIZBETH BENACQUISTO

State Rep. Trudi Williams has decided to drop out of a race for a Southwest Florida Senate seat, The News-Press reported. Williams’ exodus ends a potential primary fight against incumbent Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto in the newly drawn District 30.

JEFF BRANDES’ CAMP PUSHES BACK ON ADAM SMITH’S SUGGESTION THAT HE IS IN JOHN THRASHER’S CAMP

The Tampa Bay Times Adam Smith writes that a race between Jeff Brandes and Jim Frish could be a proxy fight between John Thrasher (backing Brandes) and Jack Latvala (backing Frishe). A highly placed source in Brandes’ camp emails to push back on this suggestion: “Rep. Brandes has only spoken to Thrasher (or those close to Thrasher) once — briefly — during session and not about any campaign, or have they spoken since then.”

BONDI BACKS BROXON IN HOUSE DISTRICT 3

Rep. Doug Broxson, received the backing of Attorney General Pam Bondi, who praised his work to help the area recover from the BP oil spill in 2010. Broxson is squaring off against Milton businessman Jayer Williamson for the Republican nomination in House District 3.

“Doug Broxson has been a tireless advocate for the Panhandle and an important partner in my effort to deal with the BP oil spill. Broxson will continue to work hard for economic growth and will be a leader his constituents can count on,” Bondi said.

FIRST IN SUNBURN: CHRIS SPROWLS TO DROP CHALLENGE TO REP. PETER NEHR IN DISTRICT 65

First-time legislative candidate Chris Sprowls is ending his primary challenge to Rep. Peter Nehr, sources close to the candidate confirm. In doing so, Sprowls is bringing to an end a promising campaign viewed as a legitimate challenge to the three-term incumbent. … Sprowls decision to end his campaign comes in no small part to the influence of Speaker Designate Will Weatherford.

ADAM FETTERMAN TO TRY COMEBACK IN DISTRICT 84

Former Democratic Rep. Adam Fetterman has filed paperwork to run this fall in a newly drawn House district in St. Lucie County. Fetterman, a Port St. Lucie attorney, served in the House from 2008 to 2010, but he lost a re-election bid to Rep. Gayle Harrell. While he represented District 81 during his earlier House stint, Fetterman has opened a campaign account to run in the new District 84.

NFIB GOES TO WASHINGTON

Florida small business owners who are members of the National Federation of Independent Business travel to Washington for a few days of lobbying starting Monday.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: Bill Young’s Constituents Storm His Office

EMAIL FROM A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN I DIDN’T OPEN: Governor Tim Pawlenty Campaigns For Mitt Romney In Oklahoma

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Todd Reid, 38, Statewide Director for Senator Marco Rubio.

ALOE…TO COOL THE BURN: Will Ferrell returns to ‘Saturday Night Live’ as George W. Bush.

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