Sunburn for 10/9 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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***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.***

WELCOME TO THE WORLD, ELLA JOYCE SCHORSCH, born on Friday, October 5 at 5:42 p.m. in St. Petersburg, Florida (coincidentally, this was about the same time Mitt Romney began speaking at a rally only blocks away. At birth, Ella weighted eight pounds, eight ounces and was twenty-one inches long.

Ella and her mother are both happy and healthy. As I like to say, she looks like her mother and eats like her father, so she is doing very well in these first 72 hours.

CHECK OUT THIS RIDICULOUSLY CUTE PHOTO OF BABY ELLA here. The American flag never looked so good.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who called, emailed, Facebooked, texted or Tweeted your well-wishes. Special thanks to All Children’s VP Amy Maguire for putting in a good word with the excellent staff of Bayfront Baby Place; to the Tampa Bay Times‘ Adam Smith for naming Michelle and I the Winners of the Week in Florida politics with Ella’s birth; to Representative Chris Dorworth and Will Weatherford for being #1 and #2 with the political flower deliveries.

I’LL KEEP THE BABY TALK TO A MINIMUM and I apologize for no Sunburn yesterday and a light burn the next few days. Now on to politics…

TODAY IS DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN FLORIDA FOR NOVEMBER’S GENERAL ELECTION!

A TIED PRESIDENTIAL RACE?

President Obama and Mitt Romney were tied in interviews conducted for Gallup’s daily tracking poll in the three days immediately following last week’s first presidential debate.

To see if the race has truly changed, we’re awaiting battleground-state polls conducted over the weekend through today — to fully let the debate, job numbers, and everything else sink in. The body language from both campaigns suggests that the race did change; you’re seeing 1) a more confident Romney camp and 2) an Obama campaign with a greater sense of urgency. And if the upcoming polls show this, it will give Team Romney another shot in the arm, just like Obama got after the conventions. But it’s also very possible that the race hasn’t fundamentally changed, but simply tightened and is back to where everyone thought it would be six months ago.

OBAMA CAMP PLOTS COMEBACK…

New York Times: Obama’s campaign is working feverishly to restore its momentum after a lackluster debate performance last week, an effort that began with a conference call 10 minutes before the debate even ended and led to new advertisements, a rewritten stump speech, a carefully timed leak and a reversal of months-old strategy.

…WHILE COUNTER-ATTACKING

With Romney giving a major foreign policy speech on Monday, the Obama campaign put out a brutal new ad focusing on his summer trip abroad and erratic foreign policy statements.

OBAMA WILL CAMPAIGN IN CORAL GABLES ON THURSDAY

Obama will return to Florida on Thursday afternoon to appear at a rally at the University of Miami in Coral Gables.

Obama’s remarks at the BankUnited Center will include things he wished he’d said in last week’s lackluster debate performance against Mitt Romney. According to the campaign, Obama “will continue to underscore the clear contrast between himself and Mitt Romney, who has grown increasingly misleading in how he talks about his own plans.”

After the University of Miami event, Obama is scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Miami with Eva Longoria and a performance by Sheila E.

ROMNEY ERASES OBAMA’S LEAD

A new Pew Research survey finds Romney no longer trailing Obama after the vast majority of respondents think Romney won their first presidential debate.

Among registered voters, Romney has drawn even with Obama, 46% to 46%, after trailing by nine points in September.

Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama. He trailed by eight points among likely voters last month.

ROMNEY LEADING FLA. IN ABSENTEE BALLOT REQUESTS via the Tampa Bay Times

The Romney campaign says there is tangible evidence of the momentum toward Romney after his strong debate performance last week: absentee ballot request and returns.

“Our supporters literally can’t wait to vote for Governor Romney – and they are doing it early,” said spokeswoman Jill Bader.

Here are the numbers, showing GOP voters are leading Democrats in absentee ballot request by more than 4 percent and in returns by more than 7 percent:

AB Requests: REP 855,344 (43.40%, +4.43); DEM 767,968 (38.97%)
AB Returns: REP 12,323 (45.54%, +7.51); DEM 10,289 (38.03%)

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Republicans’ absentee-vote lead ain’t like the ole days; neither is Democratic registration edge

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: OBAMA’S CAMPAIGN PEAKED TOO SOON by Steve Kurlander for Florida Voices

“The success of political campaigns often comes down to one or two defining moments that capture the essence of a candidate. The power of political debates is that they can provide those moments for those who come prepared. After participating in 17 debates over the last two years, a seasoned Romney seized the moment and out-debated a lackluster and less-prepared Obama.”

ONE IN TEN PRESIDENTIAL ADS REFERENCE FINANCIAL SERVICES, WALL STREET

A CMAG/Kantar Mediaanalysis found that one in every 10 broadcast TV ad dollars, which translates to $91 million of $897 million, between mid-April and mid-September paid for ads making negative references to the financial services sector or to specific firms. Candidates of both parties were criticized for supporting “bailouts,” “Wall Street bonuses” or private accounts for Social Security.

ST. PETE’S RICK BAKER MENTIONED AS POSSIBLE ROMNEY CABINET PICKS

On the prominent conservative website The Blaze, Baker is pegged as the “exciting” choice for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The former two-term mayor would be “a strong ideological choice, but would also be able to get some support from urban Democrats, given his ideas about investing heavily in downtown areas.”

IN CASE YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT 2016

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CONGRESSIONAL RATINGS INDICATE BILL NELSON IS A CENTRIST by William March of the Tampa Tribune

According to agencies that rank members of Congress, “liberal” isn’t the best description of Nelson’s political philosophy.

For years, those vote raters have described Nelson as a centrist, somewhat to the right among Democrats and slightly to the left of center within the full Senate.

If Nelson rates high on voting with the Democratic position or the Obama position, congressional experts said, it’s partly because today’s hyperpartisan atmosphere in Washington forces Congress members into party-line positions.

EXCLUSIVE FIRST-LOOK AT LATEST POLLING DATA IN FLA.’S KEY CONGRESSIONAL RACES

Here is a look at fresh polling numbers in five key battleground races via St. Pete Polls. Margin of error +/- 4.9%.

CD 2 – Democrat Al Lawson 46.5%, Republican Steve Southerland 45.7%, Undecided 7.8%

CD 9 – Democrat Alan Grayson 45.0%, Republican Todd Long 42.2%; Undecided 12.8%

CD 10 – Democrat Val Demings 40%, Republican Dan Webster 51.4%

CD 18 – Democrat Patrick Murphy 40.6%, Republican Alan West 52.6%

CD 22 – Democrat Lois Frankel 44.3%, Republican Adam Hasner 44.6%

DCCC REDUCES BIG CENTRAL FLORIDA AD BUY via Mark Matthews of the Orlando Sentinel

National Democrats have scaled back plans to spend $2 million in television ads for U.S House candidates in Central Florida, reducing the amount of that reservation by at least $300,000.

The cutback in late October is being done because the group that made the reservation — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — sees a “clear path to victory” forAlan Grayson in his race.

Though it’s true that Grayson is a clear favorite in his race against Republican Todd Long, the DCCC had the option of spending the $300,000 — and, in fact, all of the $2 million — on Democrat Val Demings, who is running in a neighboring district against U.S. Rep. Dan Webster.

CHARLIE CRIST ENDORSING KEITH FITZGERALD

First it was Patrick Murphy, then it was Al Lawson and Bill Nelson. Now you can add Keith Fitzgerald to the list of Democratic candidates being supported by former Governor Charlie Crist.

Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that the former Republican turned Obama surrogate is supporting Fitzgerald in his congressional race against incumbent Republican US Rep. Vern Buchanan.

STATE GOP FLEXES ITS FUNDRAISING MUSCLES IN LEGISLATIVE RACES by Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

With less than a month before Election Day, new campaign-finance reports show Republican legislative candidates often dominating the money game against their Democratic opponents.

…The biggest fund-raiser among House candidates between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28 was Rep. Scott Plakon, who faces a tough challenge in District 30 from Maitland Democrat Karen Castor Dentel.

…House District 7 candidate Halsey Beshears, a Monticello Republican, collected $32,700 in contributions between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28, far outdistancing Bristol Democrat Robert Hill, who raised $7,760.

…In District 49, Orlando Republican Marco Pena collected $47,564 during the period, with $25,000 coming from the state GOP. Democrat Joe Saunders raised $10,090, though he appeared to hold a slight overall financial edge as of Sept. 28 because of earlier contributions and expenditures.

…Among Senate candidates, the top fund-raiser during the period was former Rep. Aaron Bean, with $46,330. Bean was followed by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff with $39,366; Sen. Bill Montford with $38,176; Sen. David Simmons, with $34,522; and Bean’s opponent, Jacksonville Beach Democrat Nancy Soderberg, with $32,589.

SENATE VETERAN GWEN MARGOLIS FACES FIGHT FROM NEWCOMER by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

In what may be the sleeper legislative campaign of the season, Sen. Gwen Margolis, the veteran Democrat from Miami, is getting a run for her money — literally — from Miami Beach lawyer John Couriel in the newly drawn coastal district.

Margolis has loaned herself $160,000 to win re-election to Senate District 35, which stretches from Golden Beach to Homestead. But she is being out-raised and, thus far, outspent by Republican newcomer, John Couriel, a Miami Beach lawyer.

Couriel, 34, has collected $213,830 in campaign contributions to Margolis’ $174,093 and has won the endorsements of former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. A Harvard-educated lawyer, Couriel quit his job as an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami to run for the seat and vows to out-campaign Margolis, 78, a former state Senate president who was first elected to the state House in 1974.

“I’m hustling. I’ve never done this before but I’m not going to be out-worked,’’ Couriel said Monday during a break from walking door-to-door in Pinecrest.

IN HD 69, KATHLEEN PETERS, JOSH SHULMAN COMPETE FOR HARD-TO-PIN-DOWN DISTRICT by Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida

This new district itself leans Democratic. In 2008 President Barack Obama would have defeated GOP candidate John McCain by a 10 point margin in the area now encompassed by the district. Two years later, Democrat Alex Sink would have beaten Gov. Rick Scott here by a 9.3 percentage point margin.

Though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 38.8 percent to 35.5 percent, more than one in four voters in the district is not affiliated with either party,

Peters is trying to appeal to independents by touting practical considerations.

“This is about having a track record,” she said during a recent voter forum in Gulfport. “This is about having experience with local issues.”

… Shulman has pounded away at the need for change in Tallahassee saying the Republican-led Legislature has failed to address the needs of middle class Floridians like himself and his Holiday Park neighbors.

“Right now, the agenda in Tallahassee is too one-sided,” Shulman said “That’s not good, no matter who’s in control.”

FUNDRAISER FOR REP. SETH MCKEE TONIGHT at the Governor’s Club in Tallahassee. Hosted by Will Weatherford and Chris Dorworth. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. Invite here.

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GREER LAWSUIT CAN GO FORWARD

One front of embattled former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer’s multipronged legal war with his former employer can go on, a Leon County judge ruled Monday, after a lengthy hearing that showed the complexities of an agreement that lies at the heart of the case, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

Circuit Judge John Cooper rebuffed efforts by the RPOF, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Sen. John Thrasher to get Greer’s case against them thrown out on a variety of grounds.

Most of the two-hour hearing, though, dealt with Haridopolos’ and Thrasher’s responsibility to make sure Greer got paid under the terms of a secret severance agreement Greer signed with the party, Haridopolos, Thrasher and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, in 2010.

NRA URGES COURT TO OVERTURN ‘DOCS VS. GLOCKS’ RULING via the News Service of Florida

The National Rifle Association last week asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower-court ruling that blocked the state from enforcing a law aimed at restricting doctors from questioning patients about guns. “The Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act is another reasonable regulation of medical practice,” the NRA said in a brief supporting the state’s appeal of the July ruling. “It exhorts doctors to stick to practicing medicine when examining patients, rather than pushing their own political agendas, and it protects patients from doctors who refuse to do so.” The case has centered, at least in part, on the free-speech rights of doctors. In a July ruling, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke wrote that the law “aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient.” The controversial measure, which the Legislature passed in 2011, has been dubbed the “docs vs. glocks” law. A coalition of opponents, including the Florida Pediatric Society, filed the lawsuit in Miami and raised First Amendment issues. In the brief, the NRA disputed that the law targets “truthful, non-misleading” speech about firearms safety. “To the contrary, the act targets discrimination against and harassment of individuals who exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms, while leaving physicians free to exercise their good faith judgment in discussing firearms safety with patients.”

POLICY NOTES

>>>The Cabinet meets at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room at The Capitol in Tallahassee. The agenda can be found here.

>>>Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials hold a workshop 7 to 9 p.m. to present an overview of the proposed shooting park for FWC’s Triple N Ranch Wildlife Management Area and receive public comments.

>>>The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Advisory Council meets 1:30 p.m. in Tallahassee to discuss October claims-paying capacity estimates. The agenda can be found here.

>>>The Purple Ribbon Task Force of the Department of Elder Affairs holds its first meeting 3 to 5 p.m. via a webinar. It will be an organizational meeting as the task force begins on its quest to study the effect of Alzheimer’s disease on the state and to develop a state response to the issue. Reserve a spot for the webinar by going here.

RANDOM PRESS RELEASE OF THE DAY: “Join Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff for a bicycle ride by the sea.”

VOTER PURGE RULING TO BE APPEALED

A legal battle about whether Florida can purge possibly ineligible voters from the registration rolls is headed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit quickly gave notice Friday that they will appeal a U.S. District judge’s ruling that would allow the state to continue its controversial effort to remove non-citizens from the rolls until the November election. Judge William Zloch on Thursday rejected arguments that federal law prevents such purges within 90 days of an election. Zloch wrote that Florida Secretary of State Kenneth Detzner “has a compelling interest in ensuring that the voting rights of citizens are not diluted by the casting of votes by non-citizens.” The plaintiffs, including two individuals, a labor union and other groups, did not provide details in the notice of appeal filed Friday but said they are appealing Zloch’s order.

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DAVID FRUM SPEAKING AT UF: CNN “Election 2012″ commentator David Frum will talk about the American political system at the Bob Graham Center on at 6 p.m. in Pugh Hall on the University of Florida campus. He’ll sign his first novel,”Patriots,” after the event.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to lobbyist extraordinaire Keyna Cory, Florida Senate President aspirant Joe Negron and Representative Janet Adkins. Belated wishes to Vivian Myrtetus.

MEDIA NOTE – TAMPA TRIBUNE SOLD: Media General sold The Tampa Tribune to Revolution Capital Group, the companies announced Monday. The sales price was $9.5 million.

MISSOURI GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE MISSPELLS “GOVERNOR’ IN LATEST AD: Missouri gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence is out with a new ad that misspells the word “governor” when directing viewers to “spenceforgoverner.com.”

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.