Sunburn for 10/2 — 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 SUNBURN is brought to you by Tucker/Hall, a top-notch public affairs and public relations firm. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team, success stories and case studies.***

WILL OCTOBER BRING A SURPRISE?

The drama of a potential October surprise comes as much with the ticking of the clock toward Election Day as it does with the shrinking of the electoral map. A tight race like this year’s, where the candidates are separated by a few points in battleground states, increases the likelihood that an unexpected event can shape the polls.

OBAMA LEADS ON EXPECTATIONS via ABC News and the Washington Post

Registered voters by 2-1 think Barack Obama will win the upcoming presidential debates and go on to prevail in the November election. But expectations aside, the race remains close, with strengths and vulnerabilities for both candidates in the campaign ahead.

After a challenging period for Romney, registered voters by 63-31 percent expect Obama to win re-election, his widest advantage in expectations in ABC News/Washington Post polls to date. A year ago, in sharp contrast, Americans by an 18-point margin thought he’d lose.

… The contest between them, regardless, is far closer than those prognostications would suggest. Registered voters in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, divide by 49-44 percent between Obama and Romney, with the race a virtual tie, 49-47 percent, among those most likely to vote.

After a challenging period for Romney, registered voters by 63-31 percent expect Obama to win re-election, his widest advantage in expectations in ABC News/Washington Post polls to date. A year ago, in sharp contrast, Americans by an 18-point margin thought he’d lose.

NATIONAL POLLS REMAIN CLOSE

A new CNN/ORC poll shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney nationally among likely voters by just three points, 50% to 47%.

“That’s a strong suggestion that whatever bounce President Obama received from his convention has, as expected, faded away,” said pollster Keating Holland. “That’s why they call them ‘bounces’.”

MAVERICK POLLSTER CONTINUES TO SHOW TIGHT RACES IN FLORIDA by William March of the Tampa Tribune

The polls by Gravis Marketing show Mack and Nelson tied, with a large undecided vote—Nelson 43.1 percent and Mack 43 percent. Other polls done over the last week to 10 days show Nelson with leads of 8 to 14 points.

In the presidential race, the difference isn’t so large, but still significant. Gravis showed a tie in that race also—Obama 49 percent and Romney 48.4 percent. Other polls in the past week have shown Obama with leads of 3 or 4 points; a Quinnipiac University/CBS/New York Times poll two weeks ago showed Obama up 9 points.

ROMNEY ADVISERS CLASH OVER LIBYA by Mike Allen and Jim VanderHei of POLITICO

Advisers to Romney are split over how broadly and aggressively to attack President Barack Obama for his handling of foreign policy following the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, according to top Republicans close to the campaign. Some aides are arguing that the campaign has been given a huge gift: a new opening to argue White House failure and incompetence. … But the campaign is sticking with its day-to-day message on the economy – a view promoted internally by Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist … ‘As messy as the world looks, it’s not voters’ primary concern,’ a top aide said. ‘And if we’re not talking about their primary concern, we’re not winning.’ …

“Romney now finds himself besieged with conflicting advice , internally and externally: Attack Obama harder. Offer a detailed agenda. Pivot to foreign policy. Pivot back to the economy. For now, Romney and Ryan plan to avoid discussing the Libya attack as an isolated issue, but instead plan to use the issue ‘to kick-start a broader conversation about the failure of Obama’s foreign policy, around the region and in many parts of the world’ … Romney and Ryan will answer questions about Libya when asked in interviews, but plan to say very little for now about the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in what the administration is now calling a ‘terrorist’ attack on the consulate in Benghazi … [T]he Republican ticket will leave calls for an investigation to Capitol Hill.

JOHN BOEHNER, JOHN MCCAIN TO CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA FOR ROMNEY

Boehner will campaign for Romney in Naples on Tuesday, visiting the Romney-Ryan campaign’s Collier County headquarters for a meet-and greet Tuesday morning.

McCain will hold “Veterans for Romney” events Tuesday in Pensacola, Niceville, and Panama City.  On Wednesday, McCain will conclude his two-day swing through Florida with a Romney event in Tallahassee.

INTRADE

Likelihood of … Obama winning: 74.1%; Romney winning: 21.4%

Likelihood of … Nelson winning 78.1%; Mack winning: 22.9%

NATE SILVER

Likelihood of … Obama winning: 85.7%; Romney winning 14.3%

Likelihood of … Democrats keeping the Senate: 80.2%

NOT THE KIND OF QUOTE OBAMA WANTS TO HEAR: “I hope this doesn’t harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama.” — Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez

***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.***

RICK SCOTT AND BOBBY JINDAL TO FUNDRAISE AT UF GAME THIS WKND. via Aaron DeSlatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Rick Scott and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal plan to raise cash together this Saturday in Gainesville ahead of the top-ten football showdown between No. 4-ranked LSU and the No. 10-ranked Florida Gators.

The cash is for the Republican Party of Florida, which recently declared war on the state Supreme Court and is hosting a quarterly meeting at Disney this weekend. With a 3 p.m. gametime tip-off, Scott’s job at the business meeting will presumably be done by the noon cash-call in Gainesville.

The host committee is a who’s who of Tallahassee lobbyists, GOP legislators, and party brass, including incoming Senate President Don Gaetze, House Speaker Will Weatherford, future Speaker Chris Dorworth, future Senate Prez Andy Gardiner, and RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry.

>>>Scott spokesman Lane Wright left the governor’s office Friday for a new role at the Agency for Persons With Disabilities, according to an email he wrote to his colleagues. Wright is the second in Scott’s communications office to recently depart. Former Communications Director Brian Burgess left the administration last month to work for the Republican Party of Florida.

JOHN ROMANO COLUMN: WHY DID GOP HIRE DUBIOUS FIRM? 

This is not simply an issue of partisan voter drives. Rather, it’s the wisdom of Republicans hiring a firm with a checkered past and hiding behind a new name.

For a party that has passed laws making it more difficult to vote, that seems disingenuous. For a party that sued the federal government over access to potential voter rolls, that seems two-faced.

For a party that has been shouting about voter fraud, that seems hypocritical.

ON AMENDMENT 3, A FIGHT OVER HOW TIGHTLY TO CAP TAXES

An amendment before Florida voters on the November ballot would tighten the state’s rarely-used revenue cap, potentially giving it more teeth – something supporters say will restrain reckless spending but opponents say would gut vital services, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

Under Amendment 3, the amount of revenue the state would be allowed to collect and spend would no longer be tied to the growth in the economy — a cap that the state has never bumped into. Instead, it would follow a formula combining inflation and population growth.

For supporters, the proposal will help avoid the wild swings that Florida’s budget has taken over the last decade, smoothing out spending and providing a more robust savings account for when the state falls on more difficult economic times.

“Voting yes on Amendment 3 will send a message to our state leaders that the size of Florida’s government shouldn’t grow faster than the taxpayers’ capacity to pay for it,” said Edie Ousley, a spokeswoman for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

DID CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE JESSICA EHRLICH EMBELLISH HER RESUME?

In materials her campaign is widely distributing, Democratic congressional candidate Jessica Ehrlich implies that she staffed two congressional committees while working for two different members of the US House. However, a review of Ehrlich’s work history and a conversation with Shaw — one of the congressional members Ehrlich worked for — paints a different picture of Ehrlich’s curriculum vitae,raising questions as to whether the political newcomer is embellishing her resume. … “I don’t even remember her,” said Rep. Shaw in an interview on Friday. Full story on SaintPetersBlog.com.

KEITH FITZGERALD SPOX RESIGNS AFTER SEXUALLY EXPLICIT PODCAST IS REVEALED

Ana Maria Rosato has resigned as communications manager for Democratic congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald’s campaign, after it came to light that she had produced a podcast in which she harshly criticized Republicans about their views on sex. Fitzgerald’s campaign manager, Adam Scott, confirmed the resignation. “She is no longer with the campaign,” Scott said in the statement.

DEMOCRATIC POLLING MEMO SAYS PATRICK MURPHY LEADS ALLEN WEST, 52% – 43% by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

A few days after U.S. Rep. Allen West‘s pollster released a memo saying the incumbent holds a 52-to-41 percent lead over Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, the Democratic House Majority PAC released a memo saying Murphy leads West by a 52-to-43 percent margin.

The memo by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group (as is typical of both Republican and Democratic internal polls, a memo but not the poll itself was released) says its sample for Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 was 44 percent Republican and 37 percent Democrat — a heavier Republican tilt than the actual district, where Republicans have a 2.2-percent registration edge. Read the polling memo here.

MURPHY RAISES OVER $1 MIL DURING LAST FUNDRAISING PERIOD via Nora McAlvanah of FLDemocracy2012.com

Murphy’s campaign raised over $1 million in the third quarter of 2012, his campaign announced Monday. Murphy’s total haul for the cycle is over $3.3 million, making him among the top three Democratic fundraising challengers nationwide.

“I am truly honored to have received the financial support of so many people to make this our most successful fundraising period to date,” Murphy said.  “This underscores the fact that the people of Florida’s 18th district are fed up with the extremism that Allen West has brought to Congress.”

Murphy’s finance director Shelby Scarpa said Monday’s fundraising numbers “far exceeded expectations.”

JEB BUSH JR. RUNNING FOR CONGRESS IN 2014 by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Top Republicans from Washington D.C. to Tallahassee to Miami are laying the groundwork to field new challengers for the District 26 Congressional seat in the event that David Rivera loses the race to Democratic challenger Joe Garcia.

A powerful new name, meanwhile, is being floated in Miami-Dade: Jeb Bush Jr., son and namesake of the popular Florida governor who lives in Coral Gables.

State Sen. Anitere Flores is at the top of the list as future congressional candidates as well as Marili Cancio, an attorney who ran against Rivera in the Republican primary in 2010.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>The Associated Builders & Contractors Florida – First Coast Chapter has endorsed Aaron Bean in Senate District 4.

>>>The Palm Beach County Realtors have endorsed Dave Aronberg for State Attorney.

>>>The Pinellas Realtor Organization announced its endorsement of Kathleen Peters for House District 69.

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CRYSTAL RIVER NUKE PLANT FIX COULD COST $1.5 BILLION, IF IT HAPPENS

A consulting firm says repairing Progress Energy’s shut down Crystal River nuclear plant is technically feasible, but would cost a minimum of just under $1.5 billion, assuming no additional damage is done, reports David Royse of the News Service of Florida.

The company, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, notified regulators on Monday of the report’s conclusion and said it hasn’t decided whether to fix the plant or shutter it for good.

… Zapata also projected a “worst-case” scenario of how high the cost could go in the event that additional damage is done as the company moves to repair the earlier problems, and said the possible high end for such a repair could run to $3.43 billion and take 96 months to complete.

EX-FELON DISENFRANCHISEMENT 

The national president of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, will be in Tallahassee on Tuesday and will be joined by several others at a news conference launching a national campaign to advocate for restoration of voting rights for former felons. Celebrity activists Judge Greg Mathis and actor Charles Dutton will also participate in the news conference. The NAACP says Florida, Virginia, Iowa and Kentucky are the only states where former felons don’t automatically get their rights back after serving their sentences.

MORE APPLICATIONS FOR ED. COMMISSIONER ARRIVE by Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

Another 18 applications for Florida education commissioner have come in since the State Board of Education extended its search for two more months.

A few interesting possibilities appear in addition to Orange County School Board member Rick Roach, an anti-FCAT advocate who publicly announced his candidacy last week. Perhaps most notable is Dane Linn, executive director of state education policy for the College Board (previously oversaw education best practices area for the National Governors Association).

SMART JUSTICE

 The leaders of several criminal justice groups will hold a press conference at 11 a.m.  to announce a new push to bring “smart justice” principles to the state’s criminal justice system with a goal to protect public safety and save taxpayers’ money. It’s set to be held at the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee. Lori Costantino-Brown, Barney Bishop and Mark Flynn are among those slated to attend.

POLICY NOTES

>>>The Florida Board of Bar Examiners is asking the Supreme Court whether undocumented immigrants are eligible for admission to the Bar in the case of Jose Godinez-Samperio. The court hears oral arguments Monday in the case.

>>>The Florida Public Service Commission will take up a series of issues dealing with utilities such as Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power Co. and Progress Energy Florida.

***Are you tired of getting your ASSETS TAXED OFF? Amendment 4 can help. Join the movement at TaxYourAssetsOff.com or check us out on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to GOP activist and fundraiser Phil Clark and Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

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.