Sunburn for 10/5 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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***Only three finance reports for legislative candidates remain until the general election. The G2 totals due tonight include everything raised/spent from September 15 – 28, 2012. If you’re not getting On 3 Public Relations’ comprehensive finance reports for your clients and contacts, turn in your politico card at the door on the way out.  www.On3PR.com. ***

THE MOST WONDERFUL OF DAYS: Our baby, Ella Joyce, is on her way.  In fact, by the time you are reading this, Michelle and I will be well on our to Bayfront Baby Place. Oh, happy, happy day! Your prayers for a safe and healthy delivery would be most appreciated as is your understanding that posting to the blog will be a little light for a few days — although several of my colleagues in the blogosphere will be helping out.

Now on to politics…

OBAMA SHIFTS STRATEGY…

BuzzFeed notes that President Obama and his aides “rapidly reversed their strategic course Thursday morning, shifting the center of their attacks on Mitt Romney back toward the oldest criticisms of the Republican: That he’s a flip-flopper.”

“Democrats had long been torn over whether to portray Romney as too conservative, or too inconsistent, for the electorate — realizing that the attacks are inconsistent with one another. And since this spring, they seemed to have settled on the former, casting Romney as a conservative whose policies of cutting taxes and spending, and on abortion and other social issues, are too far right for most voters.”

…TRIES TO CORRECT IMPRESSION WITH NEW AD…

Obama’s campaign is up with a new ad in seven swing states hitting Mitt Romney on his tax plan after the president was roundly criticized in last night’s debate for not challenging his opponent.

Greg Sargent: “The ad’s approach is straightforward: It corrects Romney’s obfuscations with facts. It shows Romney claiming his plan won’t cut taxes by $5 trillion, then points out that the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that it would, in fact, cost $4.8 trillion over 10 years.”

…IS POLLING AT HIS BEST NUMBERS SINCE 2009…

The Gallup tracking poll finds President Obama’s approval rate at 54%, his highest approval rating since November of 2009.

AND IS SITTING ON A PILE OF CASH

DNC/Obama Campaign reportedly raised $150 million during the month of September.

MEANWHILE, MITT ROMNEY BASKS…

An invigorated Mitt Romney basked in rave reviews Thursday after his first face-off with the president, envisioning an inaugural celebration with conservative activists. … Romney ignited loud sustained cheers when he surprised a gathering of Colorado’s Conservative Political Action Conference by appearing unannounced the morning after a debate he said was “an opportunity for the American people to see two very different visions for the country.”

…IS — FINALLY — VIEWED FAVORABLE BY A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS…

Romney is now viewed positively by 51 percent of voters, the first time he has enjoyed a net positive in the U.S. presidential race, Reuters reports.

…AND WILL BE IN THE ‘BURG ON FRIDAY Details here.

DEBATE WAS VIEWED BY 67 MILLION AMERICANS…

 The Nielsen ratings company says an estimated 67.2 million people watched the first debate, the largest TV audience for a presidential debate since the second debate of 1992 involving Bill Clinton, George Bush and Ross Perot.

…WAS BIGGEST NIGHT IN TWITTER POLITICAL HISTORY

More than 10 million tweets were sent about the debate last night – more than on any one night of the DNC or the RNC, and the highest tweet volume surrounding a political event ever, per Twitter’s blog. Here’s a map from Twitter showing spikes in Twitter activity during the 90-minute debate.

LAME: In a segment on Current TV, Al Gore blamed Denver’s high altitude for Obama’s poor debate performance.

MEDIA NOTE: EXIT POLLS CANCELED IN 19 STATES

Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year’s election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, the Washington Post reports.

RIDICULOUS QUESTION OF THE DAY: Is Big Bird the new Joe the Plumber?

INTRADE

Likelihood of … Obama winning: 67.4%; Romney winning: 32.8% — Obama down 6.6%

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

NATE SILVER

Likelihood of … Obama winning: 96.9%; Romney winning 3.1%

Likelihood of … Democrats keeping the Senate: 80.2%

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JUDGE ALLOWING STATE TO REMOVE 200 FROM VOTER ROLLS

Florida can begin removing about 200 potentially ineligible voters from state rolls because they might not be U.S. citizens, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge William Zloch said Florida has a “compelling interest” to ensure that non-citizens do not cast ballots. Zloch rejected a challenge from several voting rights groups and the Obama administration. They contended the purge violated a federal law against removing voters within 90 days of an election.

GROUPS KICK OFF LAND BUYING AMENDMENT PUSH via the News Service of Florida

Backers of a constitutional amendment to earmark funds for conservation lands kicked off their effort Thursday, saying they’ve engaged 2,000 volunteers to gather signatures to bring the issue to voters in 2014.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham led a coalition of environmentalists and former state officials to highlight an upcoming campaign that if successful would earmark nearly $5 billion for conservation lands in the next 10 years without raising taxes.

The campaign “has as its objective continuing a commitment that Florida has had now for 50 years of acquiring land for the people to be saved and be used by the people and to be our legacy for the next generation of Floridians,” Graham said.

The proposed constitutional amendment, dubbed the Florida Water and Land Legacy Amendment, would set aside 33 percent of documentary tax collections for 20 years for land and water purchases, leases and restoration efforts. The taxes are collected on real estate and other legal transactions.

ROLL CALL DOWNGRADES KEITH FITZGERALD’S CHANCES: The downgrade comes shortly after top national pundit Larry Sabato moved the race to “likely” Republican.

HASNER SAYS HE RAISED $475K: That fundraising total is based on his press release — not the actual Federal Election Commission report.

JOE ABRUZZO, DAVID SIMMONS ADD TO STATE SENATE CAMPAIGN WAR CHESTS

Two for-sure winners, Democrat Joe Abruzzo and Republican David Simmons, added to their State Senate war chests.

Rep. Joseph Abruzzo collected $19,850 in contributions between Sept. 15 and Sept 28 and extended his fund-raising lead over Republican Melanie Peterson in Senate District 25, newly filed records show. Abruzzo reported raising an overall total of $173,429, with nearly $100,000 still on hand. Peterson raised $5,400 during the most-recent period and had collected an overall total of $30,725.

Running in a relatively quiet race, Simmons collected $34,522 in campaign contributions. Simmons has raised an overall total of $326,264 and reported having about $200,000 still on hand. He received contributions during the most recent period from major Tallahassee players, such as companies related to Walt Disney World.

NEW ATTACK AD IN HD 30 TARGETS REP. SCOTT PLAKONS EDUCATION RECORD

The Florida Democratic Party today released a new television ad, “Sold,” highlighting what it describes as “Karen Castor Dentel’s commitment to investing in our public schools — in contrast to Scott Plakon’s record of slashing funding and voting to drain millions of our dollars from public schools while also voting to give control of our schools to out of state corporations who are trying to profit off our children’s education.”

The ad will begin airing on major television stations starting today.

“While Karen Castor Dentel is a public school teacher who has pledged to invest in our schools, Scott Plakon is part of the problem in Tallahassee and has shown he can’t be trusted with our children’s education,” said Scott Arceneaux, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director. “Plakon voted to cut $1.3 billion from our public school system — and even worse, he voted to strip local control away from parents and send our tax dollars to out of state corporations who want to profit off our children’s education. Education is the pathway to grow our economy for middle class families, which is why it’s so disturbing that Plakon has drained millions from our education system, forcing our schools to layoff teachers and cut vital programs like arts and athletics — and Plakon has demonstrated time and again that he’s sold out our schools and is hurting our parents, teachers and students.”

POLICE UNIONS RALLYING AROUND ONCE-LONGSHOT EILEEN GAME IN HD 42

Eileen Game, Democratic candidate for the Florida House, received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police in the District 42 race. Both the FOP Lodge 93 of Orange County and the statewide Florida Lodge endorsed Game.

“I am proud to have the support of the men and women who work hard every day keeping our communities safe,” said Eileen Game. “As a state representative, I will advocate for the middle class and fight against Republican cuts to our police, firefighters and teachers. Florida should value public safety, and I thank the Fraternal Order of Police for their endorsement.”

IN HD 63, REP. SHAWN HARRISON HAS BIG CASH HAUL

With a major boost from the state Republican Party, Representative Shawn Harrison brought in $61,825 between September 15 and September 28 for his House District 63 race, newly filed records via the News Service of Florida show. The party provided $49,000 of that amount, which helped boost Harrison to an overall fund-raising total of $249,950. Harrison’s opponent, Tampa Democrat Mark Danish, had raised $11,119 through Sept. 14, though his latest report had not been posted Thursday on the state Division of Elections website.

REPUBLICANS SLAM HD 68 CANDIDATE DWIGHT DUDLEY OVER FAILURE TO PAY PROPERTY TAXES. See the mailer here.

>>>There is a “Teachers for Dudley” event today at 3 p.m. at Ferg’s. More details here.

WALKING THIS WEEKEND

>>>House District 78 candidate Heather Fitzenhagen. For location and time, email [email protected]

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

CHINESE FUNDING FLA. CHARTER SCHOOLS

Investment money is pouring into Florida from wealthy Chinese who find that Florida has exactly what they are looking for — and what they need to secure US green cards. Chinese investors are taking advantage of the EB-5 investment visa program, the so-called “green card via red carpet,” by putting millions into Florida’s charter schools and an aquaculture farm in Central Florida.

DEFENSE CUTS WOULD COST MORE THAN 56,000 JOBS IN FLORIDA

Yesterday, in Orlando, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) shared details of a recent study that examined the effect of defense spending cuts on Florida, the national economy and individual manufacturers. The NAM report, which can be found here, highlighted the loss of more than one million private-sector jobs, including 130,000 manufacturing jobs, by 2014. According to the report, Florida is one of the top 10 states most impacted with an estimated 56,600 jobs forecasted to be lost.

“This is a national problem, but it hits especially close to home for Floridians,” said AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney. “With Florida set to lose approximately 56,000 jobs in 2014 alone, the pain from these cuts will be felt across the state.”

FLORIDA RANKS NO. 7 FOR INCREASE IN HOSPITALITY JOBS

Florida ranks No. 7 for its increase in leisure and hospitality jobs, and the good news is employment in the industry is on the rise. The Sunshine State had 968,700 hospitality jobs as of August 2012, up 13,900 from 954,800 jobs in August 2011.

PERSONNEL NOTE: FLA. ASSOC. OF COUNTIES NAME DEENA REPPEN AS ITS LEG. DIRECTOR

Reppen has been chief of staff and deputy executive director of government and public affairs for the South Florida Water Management District since 2007. Prior to then she was chief of staff and director of communications for the Department of Environmental Protection.

“As our search progressed, I looked for someone that had legislative experience, management experience and the experience of building broad consensus among diverse coalitions. Deena fits that mold,” FAC executive director Chris Holley wrote in an email to members.

Reppen has directed legislative and intergovernmental teams at the South Florida Water Management District, Holley said. He added that she also has been involved in developing policy and legislative strategy at both the district and DEP.

SOUTH FLORIDA STORES EXPECT PENT-UP HALLOWEEN DEMAND

With the ghoulish celebration a few weeks away, early-bird shoppers have already started to descend on mom and pop, chain and pop-ups costume stores in search of the perfect Halloween outfit. Last year rain dampened many South Floridians’ Halloween plans as such some costume sellers are anticipating pent-up demand from revelers this year.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @FLGovScott: Today was a big day for job creation in the state of FL. Let’s keep it up and get FL back to work.#FLBack2Work

WORKERS COMP RATE HIKE REVIEWED via The News Service of Florida

Looking at an increase for the third year in a row, state regulators Thursday delved into a proposed 6.1 percent average hike in workers-compensation insurance rates. The proposal, filed in August by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, would take effect in January and total $111 million, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said during a public hearing at the Capitol.

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DWS … TOO GLAM? In the October issue of Vogue, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz appears in two designer outfits — form fitting looks from of-the-moment designers Jason Wu and Roland Mouret. They’re a departure from her usual style, which typically involves more plain, non-descript suits and simple dresses. Her hair, also, is coiffed and straightened, an admitted contrast from her usual loose, frizzy curls. … A writer for Washington’s Hill newspaper called her “almost unrecognizable in the photos.”

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Two New Crochet Candidates Racing For Your Vote”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the ever talented Gregory P. Wilson, an award-winning political consultant based in Pinellas County and, increasingly, parts Northwest.

WATCH: As the 50th anniversary of the tragic assassination of JFK approaches in 13 months, Ron Sachs shares with us news that Tallahassee friends Bob Sparks and Rich Ramos are making great progress in their excellent work to create a modern historical drama blockbuster feature film out of the bestselling book “The Kennedy Detail.” Here’s their promotional teaser video.

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.