Sunburn for 10/25 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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FIRST IN SUNBURN: CHARLIECRIST.COM GOING LIVE TODAY

In advance of the gathering of Florida Democrats in Orlando, CharlieCrist.com is going live today. 

Crist is widely expected to announce his campaign for Governor some time in early November, but this website is not a campaign website, not yet at least. Rather it’s an opportunity for Crist to hear from supporters as he prepares to make history.

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THE LAST 24 HOURS

Contractors responsible for designing HealthCare.gov painted a picture today of a rushed rollout in their testimony to Congress. The contractors blamed the administration for the site’s problems, but they also blamed each other, swapping accusations over which parts of the website were to blame for its struggles. Elsewhere, Janet Yellen is preparing her push to be confirmed as head of the Fed, and she plans to begin meeting with senators next week. And overseas, key U.S. allies remain incensed over revelations of spying on foreign leaders.

OBAMACARE’S SILVER LINING via Sam Baker of National Journal

The “data services hub,” responsible for storing sensitive insurance information, was pegged as an area of the site likely to encounter a host of challenges. But the hub is humming along without a hitch so far—which could be a life-saving boon for Obamacare as the enrollment period chugs along.

OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION PUSH: ‘IT IS TIME. LET’S GO GET IT DONE’ via Marina Koren of National Journal

But, as he admitted in his own words, campaign-style enthusiasm only goes so far: “This is Washington, after all.” (Marina Koren, NJ)

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REMEMBERING C.W. “BILL” YOUNG

About 1,000 family and friends of U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, along with a large congressional delegation, mourned the longest-serving Republican in Congress on Thursday at First Baptist Indian Rocks.

“Your loss is our loss,” House Speaker John Boehner told the crowd, addressing Beverly Young, Rep. Young’s widow. “It’s as simple as that. Here was a man that loved, in this order, God, his family, his country and the House appropriations committee.”

Boehner choked up as he talked, using a handkerchief to wipe his face.

“What now? Who among us will carry on this man’s work?” Boehner asked, then told the audience to look at the people next to them. “No one man or one woman can fill his shoes. It will take all of us. So, Mr. Chairman, no need to call the roll on this one. The vote is unanimous. … for now, goodbye and God bless, my good friend.”

According to Boehner’s office, more than 30 House members, including the Republican and Democratic leaders, flew from Washington to Florida for the funeral. All number of Florida politicians from state, county and city government were in attendance and Gov. Rick Scott was seated in the front row.

From the processional God Bless the USA to the closing recessional Going Home, the program alternated between speakers and music.

Young’s sons, Robert, Bill and Patrick addressed the crowd, along with Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Callihan, who called himself the adopted son of the Youngs.

SPOTTED AT THE FUNERAL h/t to Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times: House Speaker John Boehner; Majority Leader Eric Cantor; Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy; Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Minority Whip Steny Hoyer; Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen; U.S. Reps. Frank Wolfe,  Dan Webster, Ander Crenshaw, and dozens of other House members; Sen. Bill Nelson; Gov. Rick Scott; Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine Corps commandant; Gordon England, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy and deputy secretary of Homeland Security; Chaim Shacham, consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico; Bill McCollum, former Florida attorney general; Mel Sembler, former U.S. ambassador; Dennis Jones, former state senator; Curt Kiser, lawyer and former state representative and senator; St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster; Rick Kriseman, former state representative; Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri; St. Petersburg City Council members Leslie Curran, Jeff Danner, Wengay Newton; Frank Hibbard, former mayor of Clearwater; State Sens. Jack Latvala and Jeffrey Brandes; Rick Baker, former St. Petersburg mayor; and Charles Canady, Florida Supreme Court justice.

YOUNG NAMED HONORARY MARINE via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

During the funeral for U.S. Rep. Young, the commandant of the Marine Corps announced that Young is now an honorary Marine, which he called “the absolute very highest honor we could have bestowed on this valiant warrior.”

That announcement led to a dramatic moment during the graveside memorial for Young, who spent nine years in the Army National Guard and another six as an Army reservist long before becoming chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

“Earlier today, just an hour ago, I was privileged to make Chairman Young an honorary United States Marine,” Gen. James Amos told the throng of mourners at First Baptist Indian Rocks.

“While he was physically absent during my remarks with Beverly and the family, he was most assuredly there in spirit,” Amos said. “He is now officially one of us.”

During the graveside service at Bay Pines, a U.S. Navy corpsman named Matt Ivy spoke up about how Marines always watch out for one another. Ivy held aloft his own Fleet Marine Force pin, which is given to Navy enlisted members who are assigned to the Fleet Marine Force of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Then, with the Young family’s permission, Ivy turned and stuck it on the congressman’s casket. He said afterward he did that because “we always say that every Marine needs a good doc.” Young, he said, had always been “a good doc” for fixing any problems facing the military.

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GWEN GRAHAM LEADING STEVE SOUTHERLAND IN HOUSE MAJORITY PAC POST-SHUTDOWN POLL 

In a new House Majority PAC poll, Democrat Gwen Graham is beating Republican Steve Southerland 44 percent to 41 percent. In a sign of more bad news for Southerland, it also shows him underwater on both his favorability (39 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable) and job approval (36 percent approval, 42 percent disapproval) ratings.

LARRY SABATO’S “CRYSTAL BALL” WARMS TO PATRICK MURPHY 

Pundit and analysit Larry Sabato has aimed his “crystal ball” at Florida’s 18th Congressional District, and in doing so, makes a change this previous assessments.  Sabato has long indentified freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy as the “most vulnerable Democratic House incumbent in the country” — but no longer believes that to be the case. 

“Murphy has largely made all the right moves in his first year in Congress, and he’s got an impressive $1.4 million cash on hand,” Sabato writes, ” Meanwhile, a field of nondescript Republican challengers is struggling to get traction, and a top potential Republican recruit, 2012 FL-22 nominee and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, appears to be leaning against running. This race now Leans Democratic.”

PRESS RELEASE OF THE DAY: “Spare Us Your Crocodile Tears, Congressman Bilirakis” from Americans United

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LEADERLESS FLA. DEMS GIDDY AT PROSPECT OF FACING SCOTT IN GOV. RACE via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

With Gov. Scott’s poor polling numbers and the national GOP’s plunge in popularity since the federal government shutdown, Florida Democrats are giddy about 2014 as they head to Walt Disney World this weekend for a statewide conference.

“It’s 1,500 Democrats coming to Orlando with the wind at our backs,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp.

“The Republican brand has never been more tarnished and, here in Florida, Democrats have the advantage of a governor who Floridians fundamentally don’t trust,” Karp said. “Democratic enthusiasm has never been higher.”

When explaining their optimism about next year’s governor’s race, the first name Democrats usually mention isn’t Nan Rich, who is the only Democrat actively campaigning for the office. Nor is it former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat who leads in Democratic and general election polls and is expected to launch a campaign for governor soon.

Instead, Democrats’ upbeat talk usually begins with the current Republican governor.

“One of the best things we have going for us is Rick Scott,” says state Rep. Mark Pafford who is in line to become House Democratic leader after the 2014 elections.

RPOF LAUNCHES FLORIDADEMS.COM AND ANNOUNCES RAPID RESPONSE OPERATION AT FLORIDA DEMOCRATS’ ANNUAL CONVENTION 

From the RPOF: As the Florida Democratic Party prepares to meet in Orlando this weekend for its annual convention, the Republican Party of Florida launched www.FloridaDems.com, a new website highlighting the Florida Democratic Party’s position as the Party of No, the Party of Dysfunction and the Party of Desperation. The website includes bios of Florida Democratic Party leadership, descriptions of their anti-tax, anti-education, and anti-job creation agenda, and criticism by journalists, liberal activists, and politicians of their own party. This website will be continually updated as the criticisms of the Florida Democratic Party continue to roll in, and can be used as a resource for those interested in the Florida Democratic Party’s lack of a positive policy agenda. … In addition to www.FloridaDems.com, the Republican Party of Florida will have an on-the-ground, real-time rapid response operation in Orlando to respond to attacks and set the record straight, bringing our communications and digital operations on the road. In addition, RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry will be made available to media during the three-day convention.

SCOTT HOOKS JINDAL FOR DESTIN FUNDRAISER TONIGHT via The News Service of Florida

Gov. Scott’s campaign scrapped a $25,000-a-person alligator hunt but is using Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as bait for a $5,000-a-head fundraiser today.

The “Let’s Get to Work” committee, a fund-raising arm of Scott’s campaign, is holding the event at the Emerald Grande in Destin and will include dinner and fishing.

The committee’s already reeled in more than $13 million so far this year.

Scott’s re-election team canceled a private alligator hunt last month after news of the event went viral on social media. Charter fishing excursions aboard a fleet moored outside the Emerald Grande are a more mainstream Florida fundraising tool. Scott held a fishing competition with another GOP governor — Texas’s Rick Perry — in Destin last year.

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BONDI TO FL SUPREME COURT: MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROUP IS “HIDING THE BALL” via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald 

Attorney General Pam Bondi told the state’s high court that the backers of a proposed constitutional amendment calling for medical marijuana are misleading voters. The proposed amendment, which needs to be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court before being placed on the 2014 ballot, calls for the legalization of medical marijuana for “debilitating diseases.”  

But Bondi, in her office’s court filing, said the amendment goes farther than that and that the sponsor, People United for Medical Marijuana is “hiding the ball” about the true effect of the amendment.

“If the amendment passed, Florida law would allow marijuana in limitless situations,” Bondi wrote. “Any physician could approve marijuana for seemingly any reason to seemingly any person (of any age) — including those without any ‘debilitating disease.’ So long as a physician held the opinion that the drug use ‘would likely outweigh’ the risks, Florida would be powerless to stop it.”

If the court agrees with Bondi, it could strike the proposed amendment down. Pervading the issue: partisan politics. People United for Medical Marijuana is backed by Orlando trial lawyer and Democratic fundraiser John Morgan, the boss of former Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s planning to challenge Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Republicans suspect PUFMM is a front group to help Charlie and hurt Republicans; PUFMM denies the claims.

Assuming it survives constitutional challenge, the medical marijuana issue won’t get on the ballot unless PUFMM gathers 683,149 verified voter signatures by February. The group says it has gathered 200,000 so far, of which more than 110,000 have been verified.

Once it makes the ballot, the issue would need 60 percent voter support to pass. Recent polls suggest there’s a good chance the measure would pass today. The liberal-leaning polling firm PPP recently reported the concept garnered 62 percent

5 QUESTIONS FOR GEORGE SHELDON here, including:

Q: Why did you take on a formidable target like Bondi? You’re likely to be outspent by huge sums.

SHELDON: Well, first of all, I’m not sure how formidable she is.

I’m not so naïve as to believe you could do this without being competitive from a dollar standpoint. But this isn’t about buying public office. This ought to be about who are the best individuals to move forward. And I think we’ll be competitive, dollar-wise. 

But I don’t think (Bondi) or Gov. Scott represent where the majority of Floridians are. And the extreme right, the tea party, does not really represent the people of Florida. Frankly, my dad — I grew up a Republican, and my dad would not recognize this party today. This is not the party of Ronald Reagan. I’m not sure Ronald Reagan could win a primary on the Republican side today. And I’ve talked to a lot of Republicans — I have a lot of Republican moderate friends — who basically don’t know what’s happened to their party. 

I mean, this is the party that was on the forefront of the environmental movement. This is the party that was on the forefront of the civil-rights movement. But now it’s as if the tea party believes that any governmental involvement is morally wrong. I happen to believe that government ought to be used as a force for good and a way for people to collectively pool their resources to do things for everyone that they can’t do for themselves.

It was interesting during the shutdown — which is probably one of the most poorly-thought-out responses — that people would say, “Oh, I didn’t realize that was part of government. You mean government does the park system? Government does medical research?” So you had the tea party basically saying, “Well, we’ll fund that part of the government” every time somebody came up and said, “This is an issue.”

You know, (during the shutdown) I sat in on early meetings at the (U.S.) Department (of Health and Human Services) where the Centers for Disease Control were saying, “We can shut down for a period of time, but if this goes past a few days and we have an outbreak, we’ve got a problem.” And we did. We had the salmonella outbreak. Now, luckily under the shutdown guidelines, if there’s a threat to life and property, you can bring people back. So the CDC were able to bring people back. But what about the inspections that should have been taking place by the Food and Drug Administration to make sure that never happened? 

It’s one of those things where people want to pick and choose. They’re against that part of government they don’t use. Can we make government more efficient? There’s no doubt about it. Can we streamline government? We need to put our heart into prioritizing, particularly in today’s times. But we need to do that in a bipartisan, collaborative fashion, as opposed to this whole meat-ax approach.

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KATHLEEN SHANAHAN FRUSTRATED WITH SCOTT, BUT AFRAID OF CRIST

Kathleen Shanahan, Jeb Bush loyalist, Charlie Crist transition vice-chair and appointee to the State Board of Education, McCollum ‘supporter’ and Rick Scott transition advisor, has a few things to say, and by ‘a few’ I mean plenty. During a live chat on redefinED, an interface operated by Ron Matus and Step Up for Students, Shanahan was asked to illuminate guests with her thoughts on Common Core, Gov. Scott, Florida’s education agenda, and more. 

In grading Scott’s performance on education so far, Shanahan gives him an “incomplete” and suggests that through his focus on jobs and economic development, he is still in the process of learning the value of a strong education system. 

“His clear and directional leadership is needed to continue to advance Fla’s success,” Shanahan wrote after asking and getting confirmation that all comments are public. “If he continues to seek political cover in creating more noise and not enough clarity he will not gain anyone’s support in his re-election effort.” 

Shanahan continued, “The teachers are excited about Common Core, the parents need to be educated on why this is the best next step for their kids to succeed and Gov, Scott can lead that effort or sit back and listen his way to complete confusion. I also think the Legislature needs to be engaged and support Common Core implementation.” 

When asked what would happen if Crist were elected, Shanahan worries of Florida could see setbacks. 

“I do not think Charlie Crist, if he is the Democrat nominee for governor, based on his supporters would be able to support these programs in their entirety,” she wrote. 

But would she still serve on his Transition Team?  That’s to be seen.

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MUST-SEE VIDEO: WILL WEATHERFORD’S ‘THE WEST WING’ MOMENT here.

SEN. WILTON SIMPSON FILES AGRICULTURE TAX EXEMPTION LEGISLATION 

This legislation creates new tax exemptions for irrigation equipment, replacement parts for farm equipment and repairs to farm equipment. The cumbersome process that requires Florida’s farmers to provide tax exemption paperwork for each of the many individual purchases they make each year is repealed. The bill creates a legal definition for “qualified agricultural producer” and these individuals will receive a single document that they can use to show their status when buying tax exempt items. Additionally, the legislation provides that participation in a water farming program will be considered non-income-producing if specified criteria are met. This will allow individuals who are helping water management districts with water storage to maintain their greenbelt exemptions.

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FACEBOOK’S LOBBYING CLIMBS TO RECORD LEVEL via Michael Beckel of Public Integrity 

The online social networking giant Facebook is searching for friends in the nation’s capital faster than ever. When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the company had no federal lobbyists in Washington, D.C., but since then, Facebook’s lobbying expenditures have soared. During the third quarter of 2013 alone, Facebook reported spending $1.4 million on lobbying — it’s second-highest quarterly amount since it first hired federal lobbyists in mid-2009. 

Since then, Facebook has spent $10.7 million on lobbying, including nearly $5 million so far this year, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of records filed with the U.S. Senate. No matter what it spends during the final quarter of the year, 2013 will be a record year for the company. In addition to its own in-house lobbyists, Facebook also employs the services of five professional lobbying shops: Elmendorf Ryan, Patton Boggs LLP, Peck Madigan Jones, Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Stewart Strategies and Solutions LLC.  

FLORIDA AND THE GEOGRAPHY OF POLITICAL GIVING via contributor Karen Cyphers 

Following the painstaking process of geocoding years of individual campaign contributions to candidates in federal elections, analysts at the Sunlight Foundation and Azavea have made it possible to visualize where money is coming from, and to which parties it goes. Released on Wednesday, the first product of these efforts is a series of county-by-county interactive maps showing the geographic concentrations of contributions. 

For example, they calculated that just 10 counties out of more than 3,000 nationwide accounted for nearly one-third of all contributions made by individual donors to political campaigns and PACs.  The only Florida county to make this list is Palm Beach at No. 10. 

But because these top 10 counties are also among the most dense in population, the researchers also looked at political contributions by county, per capita.  These maps tell a different story, but one that is also subject to some distortion.  For example, due to a few major donors who live in remote areas such as Teton County, Wyo., political activity may appear to be greater in these regions than it is in reality.  

In Florida, when adjusting for county population, Indian River takes the lead with an average contribution of $63.43 per person, followed by Collier County at $44.19 and Palm Beach at $38.58.  The political hotbeds of Broward and Dade ring in low at $9.58 and $15.71, respectively.  Residents of Leon County, home to the State Capitol, gave an average of $12.69 in 2012. 

Next, looking at the difference in percentage share of individual contributions to major parties, Florida is pretty much red throughout, with the exception of Glades County by a slim margin.   Interestingly, Hernando, Citrus, Marion and Lake Counties are the only to light up in Florida when it comes to third party giving.

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HILL+KNOWLTON STRATEGIES TALLAHASSEE ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF BOB LOTANE TO VP 

Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) announced the promotion of public affairs team member Bob Lotane from senior consultant to vice president in its Tallahassee office. In his new position, Lotane will take on a larger role of managing multiple public affairs accounts and strategic communications plans.

 Lotane has more than a decade’s worth of experience in the public affairs, communications and public relations fields with a specific focus on public policy, government and media relations. Previously, Lotane consulted on a variety of communications and public relations projects and campaigns. Prior to that, Lotane served as the political and communications director for the Florida Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, communications director for the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation and press secretary to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.  

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATION

Brian Ballard, Joe McCann, Ballard Partners: City of Boynton Beach

Milton Champion: Second Chance Jai Alai

Candice Ericks, Dave Ericks, Adams St. Advocates: Motorola Solutions, Inc.

Nicole Fried, Trevor Mask, Katherine Webb, Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate & Webb PA: HCA Healthcare

Robert Goldman, Madsen Goldman & Holcomb LLP: Hilton Worldwide, Inc.

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CONTEXT FLORIDA 

Doug Clifton states that some Common Core opponents are proof that the standards are needed, i.e., only for “those whose reading comprehension and analysitical skills are broken” do the standards equal a “communist plot”. Then, Pierre Tristam writes that its “time to get rid of Florida’s suicide Republicans” taking specific aim at his own congressman, Ron DeSantis, who represents northeast Florida. Writing with informed optimism, Ben Kirby suggests that prospects for Florida Democrats look promising — from Amanda Murphy to the St. Pete mayor’s race to CD 13 to the Governor’s Mansion, particularly if his party embraces Charlie Crist. Finally, Frank Fahrenkopf takes a look at destination resorts in Florida, seeing them as a welcome expansion of the state’s economy, and as an opportunity for Florida to rebuild gaming rules.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

WEEKEND TV

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: St. Petersburg mayoral candidates Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman.

Political Connections on Orlando’s 13 News: Lenny Curry

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Uber treasurer Nancy Watkins

The Usual Suspects on Tallahassee’s WCTV: Senate President Don Gaetz

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AMID RISING DISCORD OVER INDIAN IMAGES, FSU HAS HARMONY via Mike Tierney of the New York Times 

Before every kickoff at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., a Florida State student in facial war paint and an American Indian costume steers a spotted Appaloosa to midfield. As the horse rises on its hind legs, the rider, who is not an Indian, thrusts a flaming spear into the turf to the crazed accompaniment of the crowd’s droning chant and an arm gesture called the tomahawk chop. 

Saturday will be different, though, but not because a nationwide debate is swirling around the Washington Redskins’ nickname or because some universities have re-examined their depiction of Native American culture. Remaining unimpeachable, a 35-year ritual at Seminoles football games will merely be tweaked so the fiery weapon can be handed off and flung by the former coach Bobby Bowden. There will probably not be a peep of protest.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has granted written permission for the university to borrow symbols of its heritage. While other tribes have pressed institutions to amend certain traditions or abandon nicknames and logos, Florida State enjoys the imprimatur of its sports teams’ namesake. 

 “We Seminoles embrace that mascot,” Chief James Billie, the tribe’s chairman, said. “They honor us.”   

Florida State students voted on the nickname in 1947, when the all-women college became coeducational and started a football program. (Other nominees included Golden Falcons, Indians and Crackers.)  The pregame theater featuring the characters Renegade (horse) and Osceola (human) was introduced in 1978, recalling a phase of history both meaningful and painful to Indians.

In recent years, there have been no demonstrations against the nickname that have caught the attention of Florida State officials. Barron sees one or two letters each year that accuse the university of being disrespectful. A carefully crafted response, he said, casts the association with the tribe as a partnership.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Digna Alvarez, regional director for Senator Bill Nelson.

SALTER>MITCHELL TO HOST CHILI COOK-OFF NEXT WEEK 

Join Salter>Mitchell team and friends for a Halloween Chili Cook-Off on Thursday, Oct. 31, from 11:30 – 1:00 p.m. at 117 S. Gadsden Street in Tallahassee. Visit here for tickets, chili registration, and more.

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.