Sunburn for 10/7 – 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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MUST-READ TRANSCRIPT

Speaker John Boehner, on-set with George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,”: “There are NOT the votes in the House to pass a clean C.R. … The American people expect, in Washington, I told my members the other day: There may be a back room somewhere, but there’s nobody in it. … It’s about having a conversation. … We are NOT going to pass a clean debt-limit increase. … I told them the president: There’s no way we’re going to pass one. [Starting to shout:] THE VOTES ARE NOT IN THE HOUSE TO PASS A CLEAN DEBT LIMIT. And the president is RISKING DEFAULT by not having a conversation with us.”

Stephanopoulos: “Under no circumstances are you going to pass a clean debt limit?”

Boehner: “We are NOT going down that path. It’s time to deal with America’s problems. How can you raise the debt limit and do nothing about the underlying problem?” …

Stephanopoulos: “So are you saying that if he continues to refuse to negotiate, the country is going to default?”

Boehner: “That’s the path we’re on. … I decided to stay here in Washington this weekend. He knows what my phone number is. All he has to do is call.” …

Stephanopoulos: “When is this going to end?”

Boehner: “If I knew, I would tell you.” 

WHITE HOUSE DARES BOEHNER TO HOLD VOTE via The Hill

The White House challenged Speaker Boehner to prove his assertion that “there are not the votes in the House” to pass a “clean” continuing resolution.

Said Press Secretary Jay Carney: “If he’s right, why not prove it?”

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GOP FLOATS SHORT TERM EXTENSION OF DEBT LIMIT

A senior House Republican tells CNN that one idea being considered to end the immediate fiscal impasse is a bill to fund the government and extend the nation’s borrowing authority for six weeks.

“The GOP lawmaker said a committee could then be set up to negotiate the fiscal issues dividing the two parties and negotiate a plan to keep the government funded for the rest of the year without the proverbial gun to their heads.”

ACTUAL HEADLINE: “Obama presses GOP’s Boehner” — Richmond Times Dispatch

CONVENTIONAL SHUTDOWN WISDOM THAT WASN’T via Jonathan Allen 

The shutdown was supposed to be short, if it happened at all. After all, Republicans were sure President Obama would give in at the last minute, like he has in past budget battles. Democrats were equally certain that Republicans would collectively conclude a shutdown wasn’t in their best interests. The assumption of a deal seemed like a good bet. But now Washington’s power players are finding out why they should never assume. Here’s a look at six pre-shutdown assumptions that have turned out to be flawed, or just plain wrong. 1) The president will negotiate … 2) House Republicans are driven by the military and Wall Street … The effort to rally big business against the GOP – or at least to lean on Republican leaders to cede ground – mirrors the Democrats’ belief that Republicans would rush not only to fund the government but raise spending so that the Pentagon could avoid planned sequester cuts. But it seems that Obama and some congressional Democrats aren’t terribly familiar with the vein of populism running through the House GOP. In consecutive elections, the ranks of Republicans whose constituents are wary of big institutions – like banks and the military – has grown. 

3) Constituents will force a quick resolution … 4) We’ll win!: With the possible exception of House Democrats, who need a catastrophic political event to have a prayer of recapturing the House of Representatives, there don’t appear to be any … House Republicans … are sure to be the biggest losers from a political standpoint. Some Republicans are confident that they’ll end up with a policy victory – though they are increasingly having trouble defining what that could be, given Democrats’ unwillingness to rewrite Obamacare. … 5) Only One Side Will Divide: Democrats clearly didn’t plan well for the contingency that Republicans might bring up piecemeal bills to fund popular programs, such as cancer research, veterans benefits, and National Guard pay and force uncomfortable votes. … House Democrats [are] actually having to go to the floor to cast votes that could be used in the next campaign. … 6) The Other Side Will Want to End It … Eventually: The solution to the shutdown should be pretty simple: Democrats and a small band of House Republicans could outvote Boehner on the floor and pass a ‘clean’ funding bill. … [T]he White House and House Democrats seem reluctant to make an end run around Boehner or pressure moderate Republicans to actually vote with them. Rather than figuring out a way for Pelosi to bring up a bill, they want Boehner to fold and bring up a “clean” continuing resolution of his own volition. 

OBAMA SAYS FRESHMAN GOP SENATORS ARE JUST SEEKING PUBLICITY via the Associated Press

In an interview with the AP, President Obama contrasted his tenure as a senator with the current crop of first-term Republican senators, saying he “didn’t go around courting the media” or “trying to shut down the government” while he was in the Senate.

“I recognize that in today’s media age, being controversial, taking controversial positions, rallying the most extreme parts of your base, whether it’s left or right, is a lot of times the fastest way to get attention and raise money,” said Obama. “But it’s not good for government.”

THE SEINFELD SHUTDOWN?

Marc Thiessen: “Quick: What do Republicans want in exchange for ending the government shutdown? If you know the answer, congratulations — because Republicans sure don’t.”

“It calls to mind the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and George are coming up with an idea for a show to pitch to NBC — and decide it will be ‘a show about nothing. That’s what this standoff has become — the Seinfeld Shutdown, a shutdown about nothing.”

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A CRISIS PLANNED FOR MONTHS via the New York Times

Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed ‘blueprint to defunding Obamacare,’ signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

STUMBLING INTO WAR ON OBAMACARE

Republican Congressman to Byron York on the current fiscal crisis:

“I would liken this a little bit to Gettysburg, where a Confederate unit went looking for shoes and stumbled into Union cavalry, and all of a sudden found itself embroiled in battle on a battlefield it didn’t intend to be on, and everybody just kept feeding troops into it. That’s basically what’s happening now in a political sense. This isn’t exactly the fight I think Republicans wanted to have, certainly that the leadership wanted to have, but it’s the fight that’s here.”

THE SHRINKING MIDDLE GROUND by Dan Balz of the Washington Post 

As American voters sink deeper into the partisan divide, gridlock in Washington becomes inevitable … One reason for the shape of things is the distribution of the population. Democrats are now packed more closely in urban areas. Republicans are more evenly distributed across suburbs, exurbs and rural areas. That means Democratic House candidates win by large margins, but many of those votes are in essence wasted. For many years now, more congressional districts favored Republicans than Democrats. But that advantage is more important today because loyalty to party has a greater influence on how people vote. The bunching of Democrats in urban areas is clearer from a look at county-by-county results from last year’s presidential election.

Obama won just 705 of the nation’s 3,153 counties. But Rhodes Cook, an independent analyst of political trends, points out that the president won ‘the bulk of those counties that really mattered.’ Obama won 35 of the 39 counties with populations of 1 million people or more. He won those counties by a margin of 8 million votes. He lost the rest of the country by about 3 million.

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JOHN ROMANO COLUMN: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE FOR BILL YOUNG

By week’s end, he was one of the few people in Washington making sense.

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, was calling for an end to political grandstanding and pledging to fully restore government funding.

This was absolutely appropriate. It was also too late, and not enough.

Bill Young has been a member of Congress for 42 years and knows better than anyone in the Capitol building that this government shutdown is futile and obscene.

Consider that he recently told the Times’ Alex Leary that the GOP had made its point and it was time to get back to work. He acknowledged that Speaker John Boehner had caved to an outspoken minority because he lacked support from the rest of his party.

And why did Boehner lack support?

Because leaders such as Young abandoned him to fall in step behind the smug Tea Party frat boys.

POLL SHOWS GOP INCUMBENTS IN DANGER BECAUSE OF SHUTDOWN

A series of polls released Sunday show just how damaging the shutdown has been for the GOP, including incumbents Steve Southerland (FL CD2) and C.W. Bill Young (FL CD 13).

The Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling compiled two dozen surveys from House districts around the country, taken from Oct. 2 through Oct. 4. Sample sizes were between 600 and 700 voters in each district.

The results for Southerland and Young should be enough to sound warning bells in each of their campaigns.

In Southerland’s North Florida district, his approval rating is upside down 41 to 44 percent. In a ballot test of Southerland vs. an unnamed “Democratic opponent”, Southerland trails by four points, 43 to 47 percent.

Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is already running a spirited campaign against Southerland.

The government shutdown — framed by the poll as shutting down major activities of the federal government as a way to stop the health care law from being put into place — is opposed 60 to 32 percent of Congressional District 2 voters.

Southerland’s numbers get worse once respondents are told Southerland supported the government shutdown. Under that scenario, Southerland trails the unnamed Democrat 41 to 50 percent.

(Quick caveat: 51% of  the respondents in this poll self-identify as Democrat, 34% Republican, and 16% Independent.) 

In Congressional District 13, the Tampa Bay Times‘ John Romano framed Young’s dire situation in a must-read Sunday column in which he criticizes Young for ‘abandoning’ John Boehner in order “to fall in step behind the smug tea party frat boys.”

The poll numbers bear out Romano’s assessment, suggesting that Young, indeed, is in electoral trouble.

Young’s district opposes the shutdown 67 to 28 percent, while disapproving of the 42-year member of Congress’ job performance 46% disapprove to 33% approve. In a ballot test between Young and an unnamed Democrat, Young trails 43 to 48 percent. The margin is 42 to 51 percent when respondents are told of Young’s support for the government shutdown. 

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AT STATESMAN’S DINNER, FLORIDA GOP LOOKS TO GET OUT SCOTT’S MESSAGE via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

Before 700 people gathered in a ballroom at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort, Republican Party of Florida officials hammered home the same message: To borrow Scott’s catchphrase, it’s working. Now, they said, it’s time to sell that message.

“The governor has a record to run on and that record is a record that appeals to all Floridians,” RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry told reporters after the soiree, which lasted a little more than an hour.

He brushed off polls showing Scott behind his most likely Democratic opponent, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, as “pretty irrelevant.” Not that speakers at Friday’s event weren’t willing to take a few shots at their one-time standard bearer. Curry included Crist’s bid as he ticked off the problems facing Democrats in the state.

“And they are on the verge of an arranged marriage with someone that has proven that he is unfit to govern: Charlie Crist,” he said, drawing boos from the crowd.

But the leading edge for Scott is clearly going to be the state’s turnaround, with Republicans saying Scott deserves credit for creating 365,000 private-sector jobs since taking office in 2011. 

It was a message Scott himself pushed in a video address to the dinner.

“We should be very proud and we should be bragging,” said Scott, stuck in Tallahassee to deal with Tropical Storm Karen as it churned off the Gulf coast. “We have had a significant economic turnaround in our state.”

GOP WARY OF CRIST CHALLENGE via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

 the growing expectation that Crist will run against the incumbent governor loomed over a big fundraising dinner and meeting of state Republicans held at the posh Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World.

There were jokes about Crist, there were warnings about Crist, and there was sharp criticism of the one-time Republican governor who is now a registered Democrat.

Crist was mentioned more than President Barack Obama despite the ongoing federal government shutdown and wrangling over Obama’s health care overhaul that has divided Republicans at the national level.

The focus on Crist comes as some polls show Crist winning a head-to-head matchup with Scott. During his three years in office, Scott has failed to claim the support of a majority of Floridians in independent polls.

Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry said that “any poll with any Democrat in it right now is pretty irrelevant.”

But Curry himself called Crist “unfit to govern” and stressed to rank-and-file members to remain united behind a message that Scott has helped turn the state’s economy around.

POLITIFACT: SCOTT HAS KEPT 35% OF CAMPAIGN PROMISES

Politically unknown in 2010, millionaire businessman Rick Scott needed an opening against the GOP establishment’s first choice for governor. He found one in Attorney General Bill McCollum’s waffling on a controversial Arizona immigration law popular among conservatives.

The law made “common sense” to Scott, who poured part of his fortune into a television campaign promising to bring it to Florida.

Scott didn’t stop there, rounding out his jobs-centered message with pledges to ban embryonic stem cell research and safely expand offshore drilling. Where McCollum veered middle, Scott pulled right.

Flash forward. As Scott prepares for his second run for governor, pointed talk about immigration, oil drilling and other controversial conservative issues is gone — replaced by promises of more public education funding, tax cuts for businesses and families, and back-slapping over the likelihood of record tax collections.

SCOTT’S CAMPAIGN SCORES $250k FROM JAGS OWNER via the News Service of Florida

Scott’s re-election campaign posted more big numbers as the clock wound down on September.

The biggest score came from Shahid “Shad” Khan, the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, who dropped $250,000 into Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” committee, which is backing the governor’s re-election. The contribution was posted on the committee’s website Sept. 30, three weeks after Scott hosted Khan at the Governor’s Mansion for a Sunday night meeting about unspecified economic-development opportunities.

Khan has expressed interest in developing land known as the Shipyards near EverBank Field along the St. Johns River. A spokesman for Khan, who made his money with the Illinois-based auto-parts maker Flex-N-Gate and owns a home in Naples, has described the Sept. 8 meeting as “outstanding.” Scott’s spokespeople have only noted the generic topic of the get-together.

Khan isn’t the first billionaire from the luxury boxes to get behind Scott. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has set up his own political action committee, Florida Jobs First, which has helped raise money for Scott.

SCOTT’S MANTRA — BLAME OBAMA — IS PRELUDE TO CAMPAIGN via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

With Obama only slightly more popular than Florida’s governor, Scott loses nothing by bashing the president. And he’s got plenty to gain by revving up his Republican base while winning over independents unhappy with the president.

… In the last month, Scott has blamed Obama for federal budget cuts to Florida’s National Guard troops. He’s complained about the president’s failures in launching the Affordable Care Act. He’s accused the administration of failing to repair the aging dike that threatens Lake Okeechobee. And he has chastised the president for failing to lead as the government headed toward a shutdown.

“The buck stops with the President. We need leadership now,” Scott said in a Tweet to his 40,000 followers on Wednesday.

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FLORIDA TO REMAIN IN LAWSUIT TO GROUND AIRLINE MERGER via The News Service of Florida

Florida is still in a U.S. Department of Justice challenge to the proposed merger between US Airways and American Airlines, though Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has withdrawn from the lawsuit. “Our plan is to remain in the litigation,” Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Meale said in an email Friday.

Abbott announced Tuesday that he was dropping out because an agreement had been reached that the merged airlines would continue to provide daily service to more than 20 airports in Texas. Bondi joined the lawsuit with five other state attorneys general in August, arguing that the proposed $11 billion merger between Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group. and AMR Corp., the parent company of Dallas-Fort Worth-based American Airlines, would reduce competition among commercial air companies and could result in higher airfares.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants has used Abbott’s decision to continue pressuring Bondi to follow suit. “Florida, particularly South Florida, is home to about 2,500 American flight attendants that are in need of good wages and long term job security, but General Bondi is standing in the way of that,” APFA President Laura Glading said in a release. Miami International Airport is one of American Airlines’ five U.S. hubs.

The federal suit alleges the merger violates the Clayton Antitrust Act, noting that due to an overlap in the current routes by the two carriers several airports would see reductions in competition.

PERSONNEL NOTES FROM ADAM PUTNAM’S NECK OF THE WOODS

Alan Edwards is the new Director of Administration for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Alan was previously the Director of Policy and Budget and has served with the agency for more than 20 years in various accounting roles. Prior to joining the department, he was the Controller for a multi-million dollar construction company and sole proprietor of a CPA firm.

Derek Buchanan is the new Director of Policy and Budget. Derek joined the department in 2008 and has held several positions in finance and accounting and policy and budget. Previously he served as a Senior Auditor for the Florida Auditor General’s Office. 

Brooke McKnight has been tapped to be Cabinet Affairs Director. McKnight was promoted from Deputy Cabinet Affairs Director, a position she was named to in 2011. Previously, she served as Senior Legislative Assistant for Putnam during his time in Congress. Prior to that, she worked for Florida state Rep. Rich Glorioso. 

Jessica Field moves into McKnight’s former job as Deputy Cabinet Affairs Director. Field began work with the agency on Oct. 1 after serving with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection since 2008, most recently as an environmental consultant within the Siting Coordination Office and prior to that as a Senior Cabinet Aide. Previous work also includes stints at Southern Strategy Group and the Florida Department of Financial Services. 

Jon Rees is the new Deputy Legislative Affairs Director. Rees will start at the department on Monday, Oct. 7. Rees is a former governmental and political affairs coordinator for Associated Industries of Florida and most recently served as the legislative assistant to state Rep. Ross Spano. 

STATE EYES GAMBLING EXPANSION GINGERLY, FEARS LOSING SEMINOLE MONEY via James Rosico of the Tampa Tribune

Money is addictive, and a cool $200 million or so a year is usually impossible to resist. But that’s what your state lawmakers could be passing up if they choose to expand gambling in Florida. The state’s deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida guarantees it a minimum $1 billion cut of revenue from the tribe’s gambling income over five years. The tribe operates Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and other gambling facilities across the state.

But the agreement, known as the Seminole Compact, also guarantees the Seminoles exclusive rights to offer Las Vegas-style gambling outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties. If they lose that exclusivity through expanded gambling, the Seminoles don’t have to pay another dime.

Their 2013-14 payment alone is estimated at $233 million, with $226 million going to the state and $7 million to local governments. With a new study suggesting a minor economic lift overall from more gambling in Florida, lawmakers may have to think hard before pulling the trigger on new gambling.

The study and comments from upcoming public workshops are supposed to be blueprints for a big gambling bill during the 2014 legislative session, including whether to allow Las Vegas-style destination casino-resorts.

Last year, a bill died in the Legislature that would have permitted the construction of three destination hotel-casinos in South Florida. The Senate gaming committee is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss a working draft of the gambling report, authored by New Jersey-based consultant Spectrum Gaming Group. The final version is due Nov. 1. The public workshop closest to Tampa is 3 p.m. Oct. 30 at the George Jenkins High School auditorium in Lakeland.

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BILL WOULD CUT MINIMUM PENALTIES FOR PAIN PILL CRIMES via Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Mandatory minimum sentences would be reduced or eliminated for drug offenses involving oxycodone or hydrocodone, according to a bill co-sponsored by Rep. David Hood.

The bill would create new sentencing guidelines for oxycodone and hydrocodone and discontinue mixing the pain-pill penalties with the stiffer mandatory sentences for morphine and opium. The bill would also eliminate trafficking penalties for pain-pill amounts under 14 grams, which under the current law began at 4 grams or about seven pills.

Hood said in a phone interview that it’s unnecessary to lock people away for long periods of times over a few pain pills.

“It’s a nonviolent crime. It doesn’t make any sense,” Hood said. “Not to say that we are in favor of people abusing those drugs. But we should have some judgment involved in what we do; otherwise we are ruining lives and wasting money.”

The bill would spare people who are not trafficking in oxycodone or hydrocodone.

EMPLOYERS WANT YOUR FACEBOOK LOGIN? LAWMAKER SAYS ‘NO’ via Kathleen Haughney of the Sun-Sentinel

With more and more people using social media, it’s increasingly common practice for employers to check out employees’ and job applicants’ public pages. But now, some are going beyond that to seek user names and passwords, so they can see everything a person has posted to a site.

… “Once you have a password, there’s no limit to what you can look for, whether it’s private messages, posts, photos, any of those kinds of things,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens.

Clemens is sponsoring legislation that would ban any employer in Florida, including the government, from asking a current or prospective employee for that information. The measure would also ban retaliation if the employee refuses, and the company could not decide not to hire someone for that reason.

If passed, employers could be sued for damages for violating the ban.

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND

With a hat-tip to LobbyTools, here is latest on who is on and who is off the legislative staffing merry-go-round. 

On: Chris Dierlam is Rep. Ross Spano’s new legislative assistant.

On: Sandy Hodgins has replaced Martha Ellinor as administrative assistant for the House Select Committee on Gaming.

On: Cochran Keating has replaced Lucretia Shaw Collins as the staff director for the House Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight.

On: Aaron McKinney is Sen. Dwight Bullard’s new secretary

On: Patrecia Ming is Sen. Geraldine Thompson’s new legislative assistant.

On: Rich Reidy has joined Sen. John Legg’s staff as legislative assistant.

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CHRIS LATVALA RAISES $90K FOR HD 67 RACE IN JUST 57 DAYS

Say what you will about the Latvala clan’s politics, but if there is one thing they are very, very good at, it’s raising money for their political campaigns. State Senator Jack Latvala has always been a prodigious fundraiser for his campaign, the  political committees he controls and the candidates with whom he is aligned. Now, with Chris Latvala a candidate for House District 67, it’s clear the apple did not fall too far from the tree. 

Latvala’s reporte raising more than $90,000 during the just (!) fifty-seven days he was on the campaign trail. That’s highly impressive — and sure to discourage any possible primary challenger or a sensible Democrat from joining the race. 

Asked about his third-quarter haul, Latvala highlighted where much of his campaign money came from. ”I am particularly proud that 135 contributions came from Pinellas County,” said Latvala.

Despite this early fundraising advantage, Latvala knows that “money alone will not win this race.”

“This election will be decided on the doorsteps of voters in House District 67,” continued Latvala, “and that’s where I intend to win it. 

FUNDRAISER TONIGHT for Reps. Carlos Trujillo, Larry Ahern, Neil Combee, and Keith Perry. Join them at the Capital Room at The Governors Club. 4:30 p.m.

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BEST CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT EVER via Public Campaign’s Adam Smith 

This may be the single best campaign finance report ever filed. Betsy Pauline Elgar- a special election candidate for president, according to her filing – claims to have $3.2 billion cash on hand. Her cover letter to the FEC begins: ‘I wanted to inform you how some people like to mess [unreadable] with me.’ She stamped every single page of her FEC report “confidential.” And the “contributions” to her campaign are all government benefits: She claims to have received $20 million in food stamps and $30 million in social service grants. 

FOLLOW: @CampFinMoments

FIRST IN SUNBURN: Look for former Governor Charlie Crist to endorse Rick Kriseman for St. Petersburg Mayor on Monday.

GOP HAS A CHANCE TO EXPAND FLORIDA HOUSE MAJORITY IN 2014 via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News

The governor’s race and a few congressional battles will be the Florida elections that get the most attention next year, but keep an eye on the Florida House races. Unlike the Senate contests, where incumbents should easily keep their seats, the House offers some interesting races in 2014. Democrats made great strides in the Florida House in 2012, moving up from 39 seats to 44. They could keep that momentum up in the days to come but, as of now, they will be hard pressed to do much more than defend their current incumbents in 2014.

It all starts later this month in the special election for Mike Fasano’s old seat in Pasco County. Republican leaders, namely Richard Corcoran who is expected to be House speaker after the 2016 elections, have a lot riding on Bill Gunter. Democrats sense an opportunity to pick up a seat from the GOP and have a good candidate in Amanda Murphy. Gunter’s had some problems as his past run-ins with the law and with drugs have resurfaced. As a pastor, Gunter’s clearly turned his life around but his handling of his past, especially when he applied to work with law enforcement, could come back and haunt him. Fasano saying he voted for Murphy instead of his fellow Republican hasn’t helped Gunter. This is a swing district where Fasano is wildly popular. The Democrats have a good chance of snagging a seat from Republicans and leaving some egg on Corcoran’s face.

But looking ahead to 2014, Democrats will be mostly be on the defense in the House. Republicans are starting to line up against House Democrat freshmen Karen Castor Dentel, Mike Clelland, Mark Danish, Jose Javier Rodriguez, Joe Saunders, Linda Stewart and Carl Zimmerman. Most of them should expect tough contests in 2014 and they won’t have Barack Obama’s and Bill Nelson’s coattails to ride in on like they did last year. Not all these Democrats will lose and Saunders in particular starts off strong due to his district. But Republicans do have an outside chance of controlling more than 80 seats. That would give them enough votes to override a veto if Charlie Crist beats Rick Scott next year.

POLITICAL FUND COMMITTEES CHANGE NAMES, BUT ‘RUSSIAN DOLL’ EFFECT REMAINS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Hundreds of new political spending committees have emerged across Florida sparked by the Legislature’s latest campaign finance overhaul — a move hailed by Republican leaders but drawing little more than shrugs from ethics advocates.

The new fund-raising vehicles replace committees of continuous existence, which officially closed forever Monday. 

… Most of the freshly hatched political committees bear the same, shadowy, feel-good names as the CCEs they’re replacing. And they can take in and spend the same high volumes of special interest cash that previously flowed to lawmakers.

While 670 CCEs officially went dark, 457 political committees sprang to life, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

… Even with the change, the Russian-doll action apparently will continue.

… “Sometimes you don’t always want to make it apparent where the money is from,” David Ramba said.

Of the new law, he added, “It’s more transparent. But campaign spending is more wide-open than it’s ever been.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. One of Florida’s Top Lobbying Firms, Corcoran & Johnston has demonstrated the ability to navigate government and successfully deliver results for clients, time and again.  To learn more visit www.corcoranfirm.com.***

MUST-READ SERIES BEGINNING TODAY FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS: RANKING THE TOP 10 LOBBYING FIRMS IN FLORIDA

Sunshine State News is taking a closer look at the influencers and the top 10 lobbying firms, both large and small, steering Florida politics. SSN will be covering them in a special feature this week on the ins and outs and who’s who in Florida lobbying. 

Coming in at #10 is Floridian Partners. “With a heavy presence in both Tallahassee and South Florida, and a newly opened office in Tampa, Floridian Partners LLC ranks No. 10 on Sunshine State News’ top lobbyists list in the Sunshine State.”

… reporter Allison Nielsen explains the methodology: “Basically, we took a look at the most profitable lobbying firms — how much did they bring in? Who did they work with? How productive were they per person? The last part changes things a bit for the lineup. Some lobbying groups have a lot of people working for them, some don’t, but as we all know, less people does necessarily mean they’re less profitable.” 

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Bo Bohannon, Marty Fiorentino, Joe Mobley, The Fiorentino Group: Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc.

Ingrid Delgado: Florida Catholic Conference

Don DeLoach, Danny Jordan,  Jeanette Yeager, One Eighty Consulting: Randstad Technologies

Tony Powell: Southwood Shared Resource Center (SSRC)

Teye Reeves, Floridian Partners: The St. Joe Company

Douglas Russell: International Jai Alai Players Association

***CoreMessage is a full-service communications and issues advocacy firm with the experience, relationships and expertise to help you get your message out. Connected at the state capitol and throughout Florida, the CoreMessage team unites issues with advocates, messages with media and innovative solutions with traditional tactics to get results. Follow CoreMessage on Twitter and visit them on the Web at www.coremessage.com***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Rep. Kevin Rader, Trey Price, great guy Jim Rimes, political consultant Gregory Wilson, and AT&T’s Joe York. Celebrating today is Mark Logan.

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.