Sunburn for 10/17 — A morning read of what's hot in Florida politics

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***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

WELCOME TO THE WORLD, MADELYN STARR WEATHERFORD!

Yesterday morning, Speaker-designate Will Weatherford and his wife Courtney welcomed their third daughter into the world.  Her name is Madelyn Starr Weatherford and she is 6 lbs, 13 ounces.  Speaker-designate Weatherford broke the news on Twitter along with a picture of little Madelyn.

IT’S 20 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY!

DEBATE REACTION: Whether you believe Obama or Romney won last night, if Obama had done this well in the first debate, most would have already written off Romney after Denver.

Romney was most effective when pointing out what Obama promised and what actually happened over the last four years. He scored many points But he lost most of them by not knowing his facts on what President Obama said the morning after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Obama acted like a president in the exchange while Romney was much less. I agree with Taegan Goddard, it was Romney’s Gerald Ford moment.

EVEN DAILY KOS HAS ROMNEY AHEAD

A new Daily Kos/SEIU/Public Policy Polling survey shows Romney surging into a four point lead over Obama, 50% to 46%.

ROMNEY SURGES IN SWING STATES

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Romney leads Obama by five points among likely voters in the nation’s 12 top battleground states, 51% to 46%.

Key finding: “As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men.”

WHY IS ROMNEY AHEAD IN FLORIDA?

Unlike other states where the evidence is more mixed, Obama has suffered sizable losses in Florida and Romney holds a slight lead. Given a close race nationally and Florida’s traditional Republican-tilt, this isn’t surprising. From a certain perspective, the fact that Romney isn’t further ahead might be considered good news for the president — Florida voted 5 points more Republican than the country in 2008, but Obama remains competitive in a tight national race. But although a competitive race forces Romney to spend in the Sunshine State, an Obama victory would have been all but sufficient to win the election and Romney now appears positioned to avoid check mate in the southeast, at least for the moment.

OBAMA REBOUND IS POSSIBLE

Nate Silver: “If there is reason to suspect a rebound for Mr. Obama, it is probably based more on election fundamentals than the debates themselves. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are just strong enough, and the economy has shown just enough resiliency, that he might be a narrow favorite on each basis. One function that debates can serve is to bring elections more into line with the fundamentals.”

“There is no evidence, incidentally, that the second presidential debate is any less important than the first one. On average, it has moved the polls by 2.3 percentage points in one direction or another — almost exactly the same as after the first debate, which moved them by 2.4 percentage points on average.”

PAUL RYAN CAN’T LOSE

The New York Times Magazine has a must-read profile of Paul Ryan and his quick rise through Republicans ranks.

“Ryan is gifted at shrouding a cutthroat ambition in sheepish nonchalance. It is a key political still — trying constantly to impress without looking as if you’re trying — and one that has eluded many politicians past and present. He is also deft at conveying precision and specificity without being the least bit precise or specific. He has honed his image carefully and promotes it relentlessly on the stump.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JeremySWallace: Presidential campaigns now need merchandising consultants for all the jewelry, baby gear & pet supplies they offer.

BIDEN, RYAN SCHEDULE FLORIDA STOPS

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Thursday will attend a daytime campaign rally in Ocala and an evening rally in Fort Myers, Mitt Romney‘s campaign announced today.

Ryan is also slated to be in Boca Raton on Friday for a fundraiser.

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to campaign on Friday in Sun City Center near Tampa and in Fort Pierce later in the day. Biden will also campaign in Florida on Saturday, but details have not been released.

Also expected to campaign for President Obama in Florida over the weekend: Chicago Mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

CROSSROADS GPS LAUNCHES $3 MIL AD BUY IN FLORIDA

With three weeks to go in the Presidential election, American Crossroads today launched a new television ad in Florida it describes as “holding President Barack Obama to account for the weak job market, skyrocketing debt and the slowest economic recovery in modern history.”

In the ad, a woman sitting at a kitchen table interrupts an Obama campaign ad where the president talks about sitting down with voters at the kitchen table. She asks: “Mr. President, here’s what I want to know: where are the jobs you promised? The trillions you spent – where did it all go? What’s there to show for all of that new debt? And if we’re in a recovery, why are we making less?”

The ad will air on network TV stations and cable systems in Florida backed by a $3 million buy, with additional advertising on Pandora (internet radio) and the Big 10 and SEC networks.

INTRADE

Likelihood of … Obama winning: 62.5%; Romney winning: 37.6%

Likelihood of Romney winning Florida: 62.5%

Likelihood of … Nelson winning 80%; Mack winning: 12.6%

NATE SILVER

Likelihood of … Obama winning: 63.3; Romney winning 36.7%

Likelihood of … Democrats keeping the Senate: 86.4%

SO MANY EMAILS: “Don’t Be Fooled” from Rep. Chris Van Hollen; “Gabby and Mark” from Stephanie Schriock; “Latest Polls” from Shannon Roche, DCCC; “Never Done This Before” from Kelly Ward, DCCC political director; “This. Is. So. Cool.” from Democratic Headquarters; “Tonight” from Michelle Obama; “Urgent” from Bill Clinton

EMAIL I DIDNT OPEN: “ForAmerica Calls On Obama to Fire Secretary Clinton”

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APPEALS COURT WON’T QUICKLY HEAR VOTER ROLL CASE

A federal appeals court declined to quickly consider a challenge to Florida’s effort to clean the voter rolls of ineligible, making it clear that voters who aren’t citizens won’t be removed before Election Day on Nov. 6.

It was already unlikely that would happen, because of the ongoing legal fight and the fact that the process is lengthy, allowing those identified for removal a month to prove they’re not ineligible. But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Tuesday will definitively leave the issue undecided until after the election. Two federal judges in Florida have ruled that the state plan to remove non-citizens could proceed. The state has sent a list of 198 suspected non-citizens to local officials for possible removal, but those county elections officials have generally been waiting for the outcome of the lawsuit challenging the plan.

COLD CASH POURS INTO HOT CONGRESSIONAL RACES via The News Service of Florida

Money poured into to a handful of contested congressional races for the quarter ending September 30 as candidates from both parties began their final push to Election Day.

>>>District 13: Longtime Congressman Bill Young raised $402,436 in the quarter while Democratic challenger Jessica Ehrlich brought in $187,914. For the cycle, Young has raised $940,684 to Ehrlich’s $376,128.

>>>District 23: Republican Karen Harrington brought her contribution total to nearly $1.2 million after collecting $712,197 for the quarter as she tries to unseat Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in District 23. Wasserman-Schultz raised $369,034, bringing her total to more than $3.3 million.

>>>District 26: Beleaguered Republican incumbent David Rivera raised a modest $82,290 for the period. His opponent, Democrat Joe Garcia, took in $388,819 for the same period. Garcia, who entered the race late, has pulled ahead of Rivera, who has been the target of multiple investigations.

HEATHER BEAVEN, RON DESANTIS DEBATE

Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Heather Beaven will participate in an hour-long debate tonight in their race for CD 6. The debate sponsored is by Stetson University’s Center for Community Engagement and the Daytona Beach News-Journal, and will be moderated by News-Journal Editor Pat Rice.

FINANCE REPORTS REVEAL JUST HOW SERIOUSLY JOHN MICA TOOK SANDY ADAMS via Adam Snider and Burgess Everett of Morning Transportation

Prodigious fundraiser John Mica spent $726,000 from late July until the end of September (and more than $2 million total this cycle), much of it in the days right before the Aug. 14 faceoff against freshman Sandy Adams.

That leaves Mica’s pile of cash at $339,000 as of Oct. 1, well short of the $815,000 he was sitting on just a couple weeks before his win over Adams – preferable of course to sitting on money after a loss.

Mica raised about $250,000 in the two months since his July 25 report, about 75 percent of which came from PACs. Those PACs included checks from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers ($1,000) to the FAA Managers Association ($2,500) to Old Dominion Freight Line ($1,000).

NAT’L DEMS CANCEL FINAL AD BUY EARMARKED FOR VERN BUCHANAN

This is the fourth consecutive week the DCCC has cancelled airtime in CD 16, totaling over $1.7 million.

Hotline reported that the DCCC pulled $612,470 from CD 16 for Oct. 30-Nov. 6.  Last week, the national Democrats withdrew $502,520 for Oct. 23-29. The ads were originally scheduled to run in the Sarasota and Tampa media markets.

WATCH: ALLEN WEST SLAMMED ON EMBYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH via James Hohmann of POLITICO

A potent one-minute spot from House Majority PAC shows a soldier, a mom and a young girl talking about future ailments they might hypothetically be diagnosed with. “Embryonic stem cell research could save lives, maybe yours or your families or someone you love, only Congressman West says no,” a young man says. Then the adorable child says innocently: “How come he gets to decide who lives and who dies? Who’s he?” The spot will run in West Palm Beach for a week as a part of the Democratic super PAC’s $1.5 million TV expenditure in the district. Watch here.

FRANKEL, HASNER SQUARE OFF IN PALM BEACH TONIGHT

Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner and former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel meet in a debate as they vie for an open congressional seat. The debate between the two is not open to the public.

INTERNAL POLL SHOWS JOE GARCIA LEADING DAVID RIVERA BY NINE

Democrat Joe Garcia leads embattled Republican freshman David Rivera by 9 (45-36) in a poll conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group for the DCCC. The poll, taken in English and Spanish from October 9-11, shows Rivera’s ethics issues are taking a toll. Voters who have heard anything recently about Rivera say the news made them less favorable and voters who heard more about Garcia said that made them more favorable towards him. Read the two-page memo here.

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JUDGE REVIEWS ABSENTEE BALLOTS IN DISPUTED HOUSE DISTRICT 107 RACE

A judge has found six absentee ballots with invalid signatures as he began hearing a challenge to Rep. Barbara Watson’s 13-vote victory in the Democratic primary for a South Florida seat in the state House.

The hearing began Tuesday and will continue Wednesday in Tallahassee.

A lawyer for Rep. John Patrick Julien said the invalid signatures support his argument to throw out all absentee ballots. He contends some were cast by people who are dead or say they never voted.

Not counting the absentees would make Julien, of North Miami, the winner over Watson, of Miami Gardens.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>The Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA) have endorsed Aaron Bean for Senate District 4.

>>>The Tampa Tribunes endorses Shawn Harrison for House District 63.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in party by Kevin Cate Communications. I’ve called Cate one of the smartest guys in any room, but that was last year. His firm continues to change the way public relations works in Florida. Believe me, you want www.CateComm.com on your side.***

SCOTT: CUT TAXES TO BOOST ECONOMY 

Florida and Texas are two of the fastest growing states in the country when it comes to job creation and Scott says the states have lessons the federal government should follow. Scott pointed to efforts to lower taxes, reduce regulation and streamline permit approvals, which he said were key factors in helping revive Florida’s business environment.

CABINET AIDES MEET TODAY

Aides for Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Cabinet meet in preparation for the Oct. 23 full Cabinet meeting.

DON GAETZ SAYS ETHICS REFORM WILL BE SENATE PRIORITY

Gaetz’s ideas include prohibiting legislators (other than teachers) from drawing a second public paycheck while they are in office; prohibiting lawmakers from voting on issues in which they have declared a conflict of interest; requiring online posting of lawmakers’ financial disclosure statements; and prohibiting legislators from paying for personal expenses from special interest contributions to political committees under their control (those slush funds are known as CCEs or committees of continuing existence).

Gaetz was especially critical of a long-standing practice in Tallahassee in which lawmakers — after being elected — obtain outside employment at colleges or universities that are dependent on the Legislature for their operating funds.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think that we ought to raise the standard of ethical conduct in the Legislature and among public officials in this state generally.” Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz.

MIA JONES SAYS SHE WANTS TO LEAD HOUSE DEMOCRATS 

A day after Rep. Darryl Rouson said he will seek to become House Democratic leader in 2014, Rep. Mia Jones said she also will seek the post.

Jones told The Florida Times-Union that her priority is to make sure “that our caucus stands together so that we don’t have to wonder who will be with us, or if our leadership will be with us,” Jones, who has been in the House since 2008, has helped lead House Democrats on issues such as Medicaid. Rep. Perry Thurston will be the Democratic leader from 2012 to 2014.

REST IN PEACE

Earl K. Wood, Orange County’s 96-year-old tax collector who was on the ballot again this fall, died early Monday at his home, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Wood held the tax collector’s job for 48 years and was described in a Sentinel story as “arguably the most popular name in local politics.” But his death just three weeks before the Nov. 6 election will cause a scramble. The Democratic Party will have to pick a successor candidate, though Wood’s name will remain on the ballot. Wood was expected to face Republican Jim Huckeba in the Nov. 6 election.

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10 NUMBERS every candidate running for office should know. Via James Hohmann.

GOP STRATEGISTS HELPING HOCKEY OWNERS via Deadspin: “You’re going to hear a lot about ‘shared sacrifice’ from the NHL in the days and weeks to come. That’s the word from inside a secret emergency PR focus group, in which a top Republican Party strategist tested pro-ownership messages on a captive audience of hockey fans. One of those fans shared the documents with us, for a sneak preview of the propaganda campaign the NHL will be unloading on the public as the lockout drags on.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Mark Hollis, International man of mystery Mitch Kates, Rep. Scott Randolph, and Progress Florida’s Ray Seaman

HILARIOUS VIDEO: Responding to widespread criticism of voting procedures that have plagued the state since the 2000 election, the Florida Elections Commission announced Thursday its plan to experiment with new 600-lever voting machines. Watch here.

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.