Sunburn for 1/3 — A morning read of what's hot in Florida politics

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

INSIDE THE FISCAL CLIFF SAGA via National Journal  

This is the story of Plan O – the congressional Republicans’ failed attempt to meet the challenge of Obama’s victory. It begins in September and ends in the fiasco of the Christmas season, when the speaker was repudiated by his own troops and had to pull his last, desperate solution from the House floor, leaving Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to cut the best deal he could with dramatically diminished leverage.

In the end, despite all the planning and forethought, Boehner would stand almost helplessly by as the nation plunged off the fiscal cliff, and a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and centrist Republicans voted to give Obama the big tax hikes he demanded on the wealthy. House Republicans saw the worst of all worlds: they failed to save tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, put no new checks on government spending, and showed themselves a fractious and disorganized opposition party, the governance of which in the new Congress will prove to be a serious test.

JOHN BOEHNER TOLD HARRY REID TO GO F*CK HIMSELF

As they arrived for a much-hyped meeting with the President last Friday afternoon, Speaker of the House John Boehner spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid approaching just steps from the Oval Office. According to “multiple sources,” Boehner pointed his finger at Reid and without any other fanfare said, “Go fuck yourself.” When Reid asked him what he was talking about, Boehner simply repeated his curse and moved on.

BOEHNER SAYS HE WILL NO LONGER DEAL DIRECTLY WITH OBAMA

Boehner is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he’s telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama, The Hill reports.

During both 2011 and 2012, the Speaker spent weeks shuttling between the Capitol and the White House for meetings with the president in the hopes of striking a grand bargain on the deficit. Those efforts ended in failure, leaving Boehner feeling burned by Obama and, at times, isolated within his conference.

Instead, he’ll try to pass bills through the House that can then be adopted, amended or reconciled by the Senate.

WILL BOEHNER BE OUSTED AS SPEAKER?

Breitbart News claims at least 20 House Republicans have banded together in an effort to unseat House Speaker John Boehner from his position when it comes up for a vote tomorrow.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Patriotic Millionaires React to “Fiscal Cliff” Deal

RECESSION FEARS AVERTED, BUT GROWTH PROSPECTS REMAIN DIM

The Wall Street Journal analyzes the economic impact of the legislation averting the “fiscal cliff.”

The deal struck Monday between the White House and Senate Republicans would prevent the sudden across-the-board spending cuts and a jump in income-tax rates that had raised fears of a 2013 recession. But it would leave in place tax provisions—and tee up more battles over budget policy—that are likely to weigh on economic growth in the new year.

The biggest hit to 2013 growth appears likely to come from the payroll-tax holiday’s expiration… The rise in payroll taxes would amount to about $125 billion a year, or about 0.8% of the nation’s overall output… Many analysts expect investors, businesses and consumers to remain on edge as uncertainty in Washington continues.

MARCO RUBIO AND PAUL RYAN BLAZE DIFFERENT 2016 PATHS ON “FISCAL CLIFF” via Aaron Blake of the Washington Post

Rubio was one of just five Senate Republicans to vote no, which gives him a platform to talk about why the deal stunk so much. What’s more, even Republicans who voted for the package said that it stunk, so he’s got plenty of allies. From here, he can talk about how a broken Washington led to this package and how Republicans shouldn’t merely accept a shoddy bill.

Ryan, meanwhile, followed the party (establishment) line. If it came down to it, he could argue that Rubio voted to go over the “fiscal cliff” and wasn’t being a team player — Ryan emphasized “the realities of governing” in a statement – but much as with TARP, the consequences of inaction on the cliff will likely be a pretty distant memory by 2016. And the tea party base in recent years has shown little interest in pragmatism. 

If anything, the vote suggests that Ryan will play nice with the establishment in the coming years, hoping to shore up early support for 2016, while Rubio will continue to play to the grassroots base that put him on the radar in his 2010 Senate race.

FLORIDA’S CLIFF DEAL FALLOUT by Charles Mathesian of POLITICO

The First Coast Tea Party does not give hometown discounts.

On Wednesday, the group sent out a statement hammering U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, a Jacksonville Republican, and four other Florida House Republicans for supporting the “fiscal cliff” deal that many in the GOP opposed.

“The 2012 campaign is less than two months old and already five Florida Republicans have abandoned the conservative principles on which they campaigned,” read a statement from the group.

Crenshaw didn’t exactly embrace the bill – in a statement, he referred to it as “not a perfect solution,” and pointed to sequestration as a factor in his vote, since his defense-heavy, Jacksonville-area district would have taken a hard hit.

With five yes votes – the others were Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Bill Young – Florida had more Republicans voting in favor of the deal than any Sun Belt state other than California, a sign of the political diversity of the state’s large GOP delegation.

DEAL LEAVES $6.5 BILLION-DOLLAR TAX HIKE FOR FLORIDIANS by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Congress may have kept the nation from going over the fiscal cliff, but it failed to avert a multi-billion dollar hit to Florida’s struggling economy.

The decision to let the 2010 deduction in the Social Security payroll tax expire will cost Floridians an estimated $6.5 billion, said Sean Snaith, director for Institute Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida.

With 7.1 million Florida households seeing a tax increase, the result will be a contraction in the state economy, Snaith said.

“It’s going to provide a headwind in terms of our recovery that’s less money spent on child care, groceries or clothing,’’ Smith said. “The net effect is it’s going to be a drag on growth.’’ 

***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 6, 2013, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss  growing areas of the state’s $8 billion space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***

RUBIO BACKS LENNY CURRY FOR RPOF CHAIR via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

In a statement, Rubio said Curry has helped “restore the financial health of our party.”

Under Curry’s watch, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney did lose Florida, four Republcian incumbents lost their seats in the Florida House, and the party lost one of its key state Senate races.

Those loses, though, won’t impact Curry’s campaign to lead the party into the 2013-14 election cycle.

“Lenny has conducted himself as Chairman in a way of which all Florida Republicans can be proud,” Rubio said. “As we look ahead to the challenges of 2014, Lenny is the right person to lead our party and I urge you to join me in giving him your support.”

Party leaders will take a chairmanship vote this Saturday at the state GOP’s annual meeting in Orlando.

RICK SCOTT FACES MANY CHALLENGES AT MIDPOINT byLloyd Dunkelberger for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Gov. Rick Scott enters the second half of his four-year term in some ways a far different politician from the one who shocked the Florida establishment in 2010 by winning his first-ever race for public office.

Scott has notably moderated some of the controversial positions taken in his outsider’s gubernatorial run and first year in office, on issues ranging from health care to immigration, education and, most recently, election law.

In other ways, he remains the same staunch conservative who has pushed job creation through a pro-business, less-government and anti-regulation agenda.

He hits the mid-point of his tenure with dismal public approval ratings that threaten to invite intra-party turmoil and perhaps even a primary challenger in his 2014 re-election bid.

FLORIDA REPUBLICANS RETHINKING ELECTION LAWS by William March of the Tampa Tribune

Republican legislative leaders who solidly backed the election reform bill two years ago now say it needs revisiting.

“The only 10 laws that were divinely inspired and could never need any amendment came down from the mountain with Moses,” said state Senate President Don Gaetz.

Still open to question is what parts of the law the GOP legislators are willing to change, and by how much.

Though acknowledging change is needed, they also suggest some of the blame for Election Day problems falls on local elections supervisors where the worst problems occurred — most of them Democrats — by pointing out that most counties had few problems.

… Other Republicans also said they at least are willing to consider changes restoring early voting days, cut from 14 to eight in HB 1355, and eliminating the language that limits early voting sites to public libraries and county offices only.

Latvala said he wants to make it easier to vote at polling places instead of by absentee, including expediting early voting.

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

DON GAETZ DEFENDS STAFF MEMBERS’ SALARY INCREASES by Tom McLaughlin of the NW Florida Daily News

An article that first appeared in the Miami Herald noted that Gaetz nearly doubled the salary of Chris Clark, who will serve as his chief of staff, by raising it from $77,000 to $150,000.

It also points out that Gaetz raised the salary of communications director Katie Betta by $13,000 to $120,000, and Lisa Vickers, his governmental operations specialist, by $15,000 to $135,000.

Given an opportunity to defend his actions — something he said he was not afforded by the Miami Herald, Gaetz did so point by point. reports Tom McLaughlin of the NW Florida Daily News.

He said to imply that his staff raises were unfair because state employees hadn’t received cost of living increases was “a little awkward.”

“Even though state employees have not received raises, state employees have received promotions,” Gaetz said. “Over the past six years thousands of state employees have been promoted and as a consequence have been paid more.”

Clark, Gaetz said, had been promoted from a chief of staff for a single senator to “basically a chief operating officer for an entire state.”

WARNING TWEET ACROSS THE BOW: @MattGaetz: Why would @JimmyPatronis say I’m not going to run for the FL Senate? Who supports a guy who backed @charliecristfl over @marcorubio?

SCOTT PLAKON RETURNS TO TALLAHASSE, FILES TO RUN FOR HD 29

Plakon, the Longwood Republican who lost this fall to Maitland Democratic Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, is hoping to make a quick comeback.

Plakon filed today to run for the state House in 2014. But rather than a rematch with Castor Dentel in House District 30, Plakon has filed to run in House District 29 against newly elected Rep. Mike Clelland, the Lake Mary Democrat who ousted Chris Dorworth.

House District 29 is where Plakon would have preferred to run in 2012. It’s where he lives and it has far more Republican voters than Democrats, compared to the more evenly divided HD 30. But he agreed to move ahead of the election to accommodate Dorworth — a move that ultimately cost both Republicans their seats.

>>>Conservative blogger Tom Tillson on Plakon’s return: “This is good news for Central Florida conservatives as Plakon was chosen ‘Legislator of the Year’ by Americans for Prosperity-Florida in 2012 and compiled a 100% voting record with the Christian Coalition of Florida, the American Conservative Union and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.”

SENATOR WILTON SIMPSON HOSTING OPEN HOUSE FOR BROOKSVILLE OFFICE

Senator Wilton Simpson is pleased to announce the upcoming opening of his Brooksville office.

“The Brooksville office will be located at 10 West Jefferson Street,” said Senator Simpson. “We’re hosting an open house on Tuesday, January 8, from 4-7pm, and I welcome constituents to drop in and meet myself and my staff.” 

Refreshments will be provided. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by emailing Harrison.Patty@flsenate.gov, or by calling 850.487.5018.

Attendees are asked to bring sporting goods (baseballs, basketballs, footballs) or board games for children ages 5-17 that will be donated to the Hernando Boys & Girls Club.

VAN SCOYOC LOSES SIX CLIENTS via POLITICO Influence

Van Scoyoc Associates lost six clients in December. The firm reported fourth-quarter terminations for Brocade Communications, Carahsoft Technology Corp., Digital Realty Trust,Iron Mountain, NetApp and Symantec. The firm’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

***Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched “Fighting Hunger Together” a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help fight hunger in America.  The initiative leverages Walmart’s size and resources to provide nutritious food and the Walmart Foundation’s ability to grant funding to nonprofits that help elevate the issue.  Join Walmart in the fight against hunger by visiting here, Twitter or Facebook, and by asking others to do the same, today.***

CHARTER, ONLINE, VOUCHER SCHOOLS CAMPAIGNING FOR BIGGER ROLE IN FLORIDA by John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Charter school, voucher and online education companies poured more than $2 million into this fall’s political campaigns, primarily those of Republicans who are again demanding more alternatives to traditional public schools.

But opponents also are digging in, led by the state’s largest teachers union, which spent $3.9 million on campaigns.

A deeply ideological battle is expected to unfold at Florida’s Capitol in coming months, with vast amounts of taxpayer dollars at stake. Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s own political future also may be in play.

… Asked last month whether he felt charter schools and other education alternatives should be on equal footing as traditional schools, Scott gave a nuanced answer.

“I believe we ought to have choice, I believe we ought to have accountability, I believe parents ought to have options and I believe competition works,” Scott told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. “I want to make sure traditional public schools do well … I just want our kids to get a great education.”

FLORIDA TREND’S FLORIDIAN OF THE YEAR

…is Jonathan Hage. FT writes that Hage “parlayed his experience as an education policy wonk into one of the fastest-growing for-profit charter school management companies in the nation, Charter Schools USA.”

FT’s other Newsmakers: The Tourist: Visitor spending kept things from getting worse in Florida; Citizens: The state-run insurer brought some problems on itself; Falcon 9 Rocket: Commercial launches are helping the Space Coast; Gun Owners: Florida has passed the 1-million mark for active concealed weapon permits; State College Presidents: Florida has more top-performing community colleges than any other state; Team USA: Florida was well represented at the 2012 Olympics in London.

INDEX MEASURING FLORIDA’S RECOVERY SEES BIGGEST JUMP IN SEVEN YEARS

A Federal Reserve index shows a big improvement for Florida’s economy. Each month, the Fed’s Philadelphia bank issues state-by-state indices that combine wage, employment and manufacturing data. And while most states have been improving since 2009, Florida’s index for October saw the biggest jump in seven years.

OIR: FLA WORKERS’ COMP MKT COMPETITIVE, BUT COSTS RISE via the News Service of Florida

The Florida workers’ compensation marketplace in 2012 remained dominated by competing private providers that continue to flourish following statutory changes made a decade ago, the Office of Insurance Regulation concluded in a report released Wednesday. Medical costs associated with drug repackaging, hospital care and ambulatory services are putting upward pressure on rates but premiums remain less than half of what they were before the 2003 changes, according the annual report. Premiums, however, have risen in each of the last three years, including a 6.1 percent increase that kicked in Jan. 1. 

SERVICES FOR JUSTICE OVERTON ANNOUNCED

A funeral service for former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben F. Overton will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville at 10:30 this coming Saturday with a reception at Oak Hammock. Overton, 86, died last Saturday in Gainesville due to complications from heart surgery.

There will be a Lying in State next Monday from Noon to 2:00 p.m. in the Supreme Court Building rotunda in Tallahassee. A memorial service will follow starting at 2:00 p.m. in the courtroom featuring speakers that include Chief Justice Ricky Polston, former Gov. Reubin Askew, former Justice Parker Lee McDonald, and Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte.

During the Lying in State, the family will receive visitors in the Lawyer’s Lounge at the Florida Supreme Court building, main floor.

A final service will be held on January 9 at St. Anne of Grace Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg (Seminole) at Noon. Burial will follow in St. Petersburg.

TAMPA GENERAL NAMES JAMES BURKHART AS NEW CEO via The News Service of Florida

The new president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital will be James R. Burkhart, who will leave his post as president and CEO of Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. Burkhart, 58, will start in Tampa March 4, and replaces Ron Hytoff, who is retiring. Burkhart has been at Shands since 2003, and has been president since 2010.

Tampa General has a staff of more than 6,400 employees and is affiliated with the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Before working at Shands, Burkhart was president of Endeavor Health Group, a management consulting firm and for 12 years was president of Fort Sanders Park West and Regional Medical Centers in Knoxville, Tenn. 

>>>Times editorial: “Burkhart’s experience in managing an academic medical hospital in Jacksonville that also serves as a primary safety net for the poor should make him appreciative of Tampa General’s historic mission and clear-eyed about the challenges that face medical institutions in the fast-changing health care industry.”

***The Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on January 10-11, 2013, will bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from health plans, hospital executives and health care providers, to some of Florida’s biggest employers and elected officials – to discuss how to make Florida healthier and bring affordable, accessible, quality health care to Floridians. To register to attend or for more information, please visit www.healthcareflorida.com.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Democratic activist Ella Coffee and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik

WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Cormac Thomas Duffy, the New Year’s Eve baby of Danielle and Ryan Duffy (spox to Speaker Will Weatherford).

QUORUM — TAMPA BAY’S NOT-TOO-POLITICAL HAPPY HOUR ON FRIDAY: Come enjoy a cocktail in a bipartisan environment, while helping to celebrate my 37th birthday. Details on Facebook here.

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.