Sunburn for 1/10 – 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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MARCO RUBIO MULLS OPTIONS FOR 2016 … via William Gibson of the Orlando Sentinel and Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Rubio, a likely presidential candidate in 2016, indicated on Thursday he will decide early next year whether to seek re-election to his Senate seat or turn to “something else.”

“I would imagine around this time next year I have to make a decision about whether to run for re-election, run for something else or return to the private sector,” he said. “And I think all three are valid decisions potentially.”

During a briefing with Florida reporters, the Republican freshman also defended his position on immigration reform and said he knew he was inviting controversy by taking on the explosive issue.

 “I know the history of immigration reform. I understood the complexities and controversies behind it. I knew all that,” he said.

 “I didn’t take this issue on to score political points. I took this issue on because it’s a serious problem. That’s why I came here.”

… DOESN’T CLOSE DOOR TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA

The Florida Republican made clear he does not support broadly legalizing pot or decriminalizing pot, as 20 states and the District of Columbia have done. But Rubio did not shut the door on medical marijuana, which Florida voters may decide in November.

“You hear compelling stories of people who say the use of medicinal marijuana  provides relief for the thing they are suffering. So I’d like to learn more about that aspect of it, the science of it,” Rubio said when asked about the Florida ballot initiative.

“I have qualms about that proposal, I really do, but I probably need to learn more about it,” he said. “The broader issue of whether we should be legalizing it is something I’m pretty firm about. I don’t think legalizing marijuana or even decriminalizing it is the right decision for our country.”

… SAYS HE’LL VOTE FOR FLOOD INSURANCE BILL

Rubio said that he will back a bill to delay steep rate increases under a flood insurance reform act, but said he wants to ensure the program remains solvent.

Rubio has said he opposes the hikes, which have caused alarm across Florida, but he has not been a visible member of a coalition working on the legislation.

“Clearly we have to prevent these disruptive increases,” Rubio said.

Rubio also noted that the bill being considered could add $2 billion in debt to the National Flood Insurance Program, already $24 billion in the hole, largely due to Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

“Let me be clear, I’ll vote for this bill … because I think it’s important to prevent these rate increases from going forward. But I would like to find some long-term certainty. Even if you prevent it for four years, you still have uncertainty out there about what future bills are going to look like. If you look at real estate transaction and the ability to build equity in your home, you need some certainty about what the rules are going to be long-term.

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READY FOR HILLARY COMMITTEE PLANS PINELLAS  EVENT WITH FORMER CLINTON ADVISER via Amy Hollyfield of the Tampa Bay Times

Ready for Hillary is welcoming former Clinton White House adviser Craig T. Smith to St. Petersburg later this month to discuss the 2016 presidential race.

The so-called super PAC is a nationwide grass-roots organization formed to encourage Hillary Clintonto run for president in 2016.

The Pinellas County event is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel located at 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N. A donation of $25 is requested to attend the event. For information, email rfreedman@floridaforhillary.com or call 727-712-8810.

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CD 13 SPECIAL ELECTION

FINAL POLL

Conducted Thursday evening by St. Pete Polls for SaintPetersBlog: David Jolly 37%, Mark Bircher 26%, Kathleen Peters 24%.

ALEX SINK CAMP DEBUTS “TRUTH TEAM” TO FEND OFF ATTACKS via Kate Bradshaw of the Tampa Tribune

The primary may not even be over yet, but the run-up to the special election to fill Florida’s 13th Congressional District seat has so far been pretty nasty, as Republicans and Democrats at the national level have been fiercely exchanging jabs on their respective opposing party’s candidate.

In an attempt to dispel GOP critics’ claims, her campaign today launched a new page to counter them using actual news sources. It’s called “The Alex Sink Truth Team,” and it includes links to news stories to defend the former state CFO and one-time candidate for governor against attacks on her record, including her role in a controversy over Florida’s pension system and her views on taxation and government debt.

“Pinellas residents are tired of the partisan name-calling and finger-pointing in Washington that’s standing in the way of solutions — we need to bring Republicans and Democrats together to break through this gridlock and get Congress focused on solving the challenges that matter most,” said Sink in a press release.

“But the forces of dysfunction are going to do everything they can to try and get in our way by spreading false and misleading attacks, and we need to be ready to fight back with the truth. Our Truth Team will be a terrific resource for folks in Pinellas to get the facts, debunk the spin, and learn about our campaign’s commitment to putting Pinellas over politics.”

The site also allows users to share each item, and to submit their own.

REPUBLICAN REAX: “It’s a telling sign that Alex Sink has to have a make believe ‘truth team’ because her record as CFO in Florida was so controversial. It’s also interesting that Sink’s ‘Truth Team’ refuses to address Obamacare, the number one issue of this campaign. It’s obvious that her team can’t figure out how to cover up her strong support of the law which is already causing over 300,000 Floridians to lose their health care coverage.” – NRCC Spokeswoman Katie Prill

DAVID JOLLY’S GIRLFRIEND ONCE NAMED ONE OF WASHINGTON’S MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE via Curtis Krueger of the Tampa Bay Times

profile on Jolly mentioned he is in the midst of a divorce. A recent post on Facebook takes it a step further, calling the Republican candidate the boyfriend of Laura Donahoe, 27.

Donahoe previously worked for Jolly at a Washington lobbying firm, according to a 2010 article in The Hill that included Donahoe on its annual list of the “50 most beautiful people.” The article mentioned Donahoe was a fan of the Washington Nationals and said she had an ongoing competition with her boss, Jolly, to see who could catch the most foul balls.

Jolly, 41, declined to talk about it. “I have too much respect for my ex-wife to discuss our personal life, our amicable divorce or relationships since our separation,” he said in a statement.

Jolly’s divorce from Carrie, his wife of 15 years, will be finalized in Washington on Jan. 16.

JOLLY SAYS HE DID NOT LOBBY FOR OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING DESPITE DOCUMENT WHICH SAID HE DID via Curtis Krueger of the Tampa Bay Times

Jolly said he supports the ban that prevents oil drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast, a perennially important issue in local politics.

But he’s facing questions over his own 2011 federal lobbying report, which indicates he lobbied for a House bill designed to expand oil drilling in the Gulf and elsewhere.

Under the “specific lobbying issues” listed in his report, Jolly included House Resolution 909, “A Roadmap for America’s Energy Future.”

But Jolly said Thursday he “did not lobby for that legislation.” He said he felt obligated to list it on his disclosure report because the subject came up during a meeting he attended while lobbying on other issues.

“I had a practice of always over-complying” with disclosure requirements, he added.

Some of Jolly’s opponents questioned his explanation.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein said it was clear Jolly registered “to lobby specifically for the Roadmap for America’s Energy Future, which would expand offshore drilling. Either Jolly wasn’t being truthful on the forms he filed with the United States government, or he’s lying to voters now.”

TWEET, TWEET: @maxasteele: So in 3 days @DavidJollyCD13 went from “complete fabrication” to saying he was “over-complying.” lol.

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PINELLAS COMMISSIONER SAYS “EVERYONE” KNEW ABOUT BILL YOUNG’S FIRST FAMILYvia Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing

Andrew Meacham’s story in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times regarding the revelations that former Congressman Bill Young had an unreported affair and out-of-wedlock child while still married to his first wife sent off shock waves throughout the Tampa Bay area last weekend.

But the story was no shock to those in Pinellas political circles. That’s what County Commissioner Janet Long said Wednesday.

“Everybody knew it! It wasn’t a secret! It was never a secret. I didn’t know anybody who was politically active or active in the community who didn’t know about it,” Long told CL on Wednesday afternoon at the St. Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg, where Alex Sink was officially endorsed by the United Auto Workers in the race to succeed Young in March’s special election.

“I think it’s interesting that it took all those years for it to surface,” Long said.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITOR:  Gov. Scott will make a “historic tourism-related budget announcement” at Orlando International Airport.  Greater Orlando Aviation Office. 9:30 a.m.

GOV. SCOTT SEEKS DELAY OF FLOOD INSURANCE HIKE via William Gibson of the Orlando Sentinel

Scott renewed his attempts on Thursday to undo the big rate hike in flood insurance, urging President Barack Obama to delay it.

 Because of the rate hike, approved by Congress and signed by the president in 2012, “today many Floridians are facing the horror of losing their homes due to soaring flood insurance costs,” Scott lamented in a letter to the White House.

 Scott tried to put the onus on Obama, saying he has delayed some aspects of Obamacare and should be able to delay the rate hike.

 But FEMA, which is carrying out the law, says it can only be changed by act of Congress.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING – PORT CANAVERAL EXPANSION TO SHIP IN 1,000 JOBS via Matthew Richardson of the Orlando Business Journal

Port Canaveral’s first phase of its five-year project — a new terminal complex — is expected to create 200 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs long-term.

Port Canaveral spokeswoman Rosalind Harvey said the terminal, which is slated for completion in November, would increase revenue between $5 million to $7 million in 2015, double that amount in 2016, with a 3 to 4 percent annual increase thereafter.

Construction for the 187,500 square-foot terminal — estimated to cost $50.5 million — will bring the total cost of the complex at more than $100 million.

However, the impact to the region’s economy will more than make up for that, as Harvey said the economic impact to the region would be $250 million in 2015 and increase to a half-billion in 2016.

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AG BONDI’S COMMITTEES RAISE MORE THAN $195K IN DECEMBER

Two fundraising committees affiliated with Attorney General Pam Bondi raised more than $195,000 during December, bringing the two committees total amount raised to $1,238,832.

“And Justice for All,” Bondi’s political communications fund, raised $81,000 in December for a total of more than $1,022,500.

“Justice for All,” a similarly-named but separate political committee, reported raising $114,000, bringing its total raised to more than $216,250.

“The total raised collectively by the two committees since being established in July 2013 totals $1,238,832,” according to a press release.

Those numbers don’t include Bondi’s traditional campaign finance account, which lists more than $878,000 in cash and in-kind contributions through November 30, according to the state Division of Elections’ website.

BONDI NAMES TYLER CATHEY HER NEW CHIEF DEPUTY

Tyler Cathey, named last year by MavPAC as one of the “40 under 40” in Republican political circles, was announced today as the Chief Deputy Attorney General to AG Pam Bondi.

Cathey replaces Carlos Muniz, who served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Attorney General since Bondi took office.

Cathey is currently an attorney with the Tampa office of Englander Fischer LLP. He previously worked in private practice with the Tampa office of the law firm of Holland & Knight, and he served as Special Counsel to the Attorney General’s 2010 statewide campaign during the general election.

“Tyler is an excellent attorney, and we are excited to add his legal expertise, strong work ethic and leadership skills to the outstanding team in the Attorney General’s Office. I am so proud of the team we have built across our state and the work that is being done every day to help advance the important priorities of our office, such as ending human trafficking, stopping prescription drug abuse, and combating Medicaid fraud,” stated Bondi.

FOLLOW TYLER ON THE TWITTERS: @EualTylerCathey

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ADAM PUTNAM TOUTS PORTS, TAX CUTS DURING WIDE-RANGING COMMENTS via Bruce Ritchie of the Florida Current

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday he is going to Panama for three days next week to observe the widening of the Panama Canal, which he said could boost agricultural exports from Florida.

Putnam also said he is building a coalition in support of his funding proposal to slash energy taxes for businesses and shift the remaining revenue to schools and colleges. The agriculture commissioner made remarks on a variety of issues during a sit-down session with reporters in his Capitol office.

After a week of record low temperatures across the Midwest and South, Putnam said Florida agriculture “dodged a bullet” and that agricultural commodities are doing well.

Putnam said Florida has made a tremendous investment in a Miami port-deepening project that will allow larger ships. He said he will leave this week for the three-day trip to Panama with the Miami ports director and Florida businesses that are gaining a foothold in that country.

Putnam also said he supports a bill that would allow tax collectors to process applications for concealed firearms permits. He said his Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would continue to conduct background checks and issue permits.

With Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater being considered as a finalist for president of Florida Atlantic University, Putnam said Atwater has been a great CFO.

“If the trustees of FAU decide to make him president of FAU, he’s going to be a great president of FAU,” Putnam said. He added that filling the Cabinet vacancy should be done by the governor “as quickly as is practical.”

FLORIDA A&M NAMES NEW PRESIDENT

Florida A&M University will have its first woman president, a top administrator at an Ivy League institution who will be asked to lead the state’s only public black university to stronger academic and financial footing. Elmira Mangum, vice president for budget and planning at Cornell University, was approved as FAMU’s 11th president during Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

REPORT: FLORIDA STATE GOVERNMENT LEANEST IN THE COUNTRY via Travis Pillow of Tallahassee.com

Florida’s state government workforce remains the leanest in the country.

Taxpayers spent just $37 per resident on state government during in 2012, according to the latest state Workforce Report released by the Department of Management Services.

That’s nearly half the 2012 national average of $75, and about 16 percent less than Arizona, the state with second-cheapest government workforce. Florida also employs fewer state workers per resident than any other state.

“Governor Scott wants Floridians to pay fewer taxes,” Scott spokesman John Tupps wrote in a statement. “That’s why he has made government more efficient, and our state government workforce is at the lowest level per capita in state history.”

State Sen. Bill Montford said the report shows that “our state workers are underpaid.”

State government salaries had been more or less flat during the six years they went without an across the board raise, but they do not reflect the raises approved last year by Scott and the Legislature, which will show up in next year’s report. They also don’t include benefits like health insurance or pension contributions.

“In the business world, you take care of your employees or they leave. In state government, we need to take care of our employees,” he said, adding: “We’re definitely going to be pushing for a raise, it’s just a matter of how much.”

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GAMBLING ‘CREEP’ FOCUS OF DEBATE via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

Could a mega-casino – or two or three – open in South Florida without casino gambling spreading to other parts of the state?

In a debate sponsored Wednesday in Orlando by the League of Women Voters of Orange County, longtime anti-casino gambling activist John Sowinski raised many of the long-standing objections: that casinos would sully Florida’s “family friendly” brand of tourism; that casinos do not generate as many jobs or tax revenue as promised; and that their social costs of gambling additions and crime are high.

But gambling industry consultant Michael Soll countered that a city as large and economically complex as Miami is not like an Atlantic City, where casinos quickly dominated and have been blamed for ruining the local economy.

“Atlantic City is probably an example of how we would never develop a casino in this state,” said Soll, president of Innovation Group, a consulting firm that does planning and feasibility studies for casino operators.

Sowinski, president of No Casinos, an activist group opposing to gambling expansion in Florida, said he thinks that casino gambling probably could not be contained just to Miami-Dade or Broward counties, where casino operators reportedly have the highest interest. The Seminole Tribe could expand on its land. Palm Beach’s pari-mutuel tracks would want to expand into casino-style gambling to compete, Sowinski said.

“Palm Beach wants it ‘just to keep our money here,’ and voters grudgingly go along,” Sowinski speculated. “Then they make the same case up the coast, in Daytona Beach, or Fort Pierce, or Tampa. So one begets another.”

Soll did not dispute the prospect of casino creep, except that he noted that casinos probably would never enter the Orlando market or any other place where the local community clearly opposed it.

NO CASINOS: PROPOSED GENTING/GULFSTREAM SLOT MACHINE DEAL “BAIT AND SWITCH” Full blog post here

No Casinos calls a proposed agreement between casino operators and a Miami racetrack as “another gambling bait-and-switch.”

Gulfstream Park and Resorts World Omni, a division of Malaysian-based Genting Group, recently put forward a deal that would add slot machines to a property in downtown Miami that once held the Miami Herald.

At the heart of the issue is the transfer of a permit originally issued to the non-profit Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program (GPTARP), part of Gulfstream owner The Stronach Group.

No Casinos strongly opposes the transferal of the permit to operate up to 2,000 slot machines while allowing GPTARP to continue running horse races at Gulfstream, as Resorts World would manage a slot machine and card room facilities at a downtown Miami property.

“Voters were promised and the constitution authorizes,” the No Casinos website states, “slots ONLY ‘in existing, licensed pari-mutuel facilities.’ What part of ‘No’ doesn’t Genting get? ”

Gulfstream maintains that the permit it obtained last year is for its GPTARP subsidiary that straddles the county line, allowing it to operate in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. NoCasinos agrees with some state regulators in rejecting that interpretation.

Genting representatives are urging legislators to either clarify the law, get regulators to change the ruling or bring the matter to court.

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CITIES AND COUNTIES WOULD LOSE MOST RED LIGHT CASH UNDER BILL via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Cities and counties would lose most of the money they get from red light cameras under legislation approved Thursday by a House panel, marking the latest blow by critics looking to remove the controversial devices.

The measure was tucked into a wide-ranging transportation bill. But camera defenders said it was way too early to predict that Thursday’s vote signals an end to the devices, which pulled more than $60 million into local government coffers last year.

“This is not the end of the journey, it is merely the beginning,” said Rep. Ed Hooper, a camera supporter and chairman of the House’s transportation budget committee, which positions him to block the fee-cut plan.

But Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, who crafted the proposal that includes a moratorium on any new cameras being put up, said it was time to tell the truth about cameras.

“The purpose of this bill is to eliminate the profiteering by local governments,” Artiles said. “If it’s about safety, make it about safety.”

Used by 77 cities and counties, red light cameras may be facing their sternest test this year, since they were approved by the Legislature in 2010.

DENNIS BAXLEY TARGETS PARK MONUMENTS via Bill Thompson of the Ocala Star Banner

Unhappy with a plan to erect a monument to Union soldiers on the grounds of the Confederacy’s most significant Civil War victory in Florida, state Rep. Dennis Baxley seeks to strip state parks managers of their authority to locate historical monuments

Making such decisions within the state park system would instead be left to the Legislature, under a bill introduced Monday by the Ocala Republican.

But Lloyd Monroe, president of the Olustee Monument Commission for the Florida chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, expressed disappointment that Baxley had followed through.

The Sons of Union Veterans filed its application last February, stating it believes the monument is necessary to offer a more balanced “cultural picture” of the Olustee battle.

The park commemorates Confederate troops with three monuments established by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the first of which was unveiled in 1912 and became Florida’s first historical monument.

“This should be actionable by an elected body, but it’s all being done within the agency,” Baxley said. “This should be a policy decision. We sign off on a lot of things.”

JACK LATVALA RENEWS CRUSADE AGAINST LEGISLATORS WHO LIE ABOUT WHERE THEY LIVE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Latvala unveiled legislation Thursday that would require candidates for all public offices to declare a single “domicile” — with a laundry list of qualifiers that could be used to determine whether the candidate truly lives there.

“I believe that the people…expect us to live in the districts from which they elect us,” Latvala said.

Latvala has been focused on toughening the state’s residency requirement since Sen. Maria Sachs defeated his favored candidate, Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, last fall.

Sachs and her husband, condo lawyer Peter Sachs, own a home west of Boca Raton that is outside the boundaries of her Senate District 34.  As a candidate, Sachs said her actual residence was a 740-foot condo in Fort Lauderdale owned by a friend, a claim that drew more ethics and legal complaints since dismissed by the Florida Senate Rules Committee and Ethics Commission.

Sachs subsequently changed her voter registration to a two-bedroom, two-bath Delray Beach condo a few blocks from the ocean — but within District 34.

Latvala said it was “coincidental” that the half-dozen Florida lawmakers he cited as living outside their districts were all Democrats when he first began demanding a stricter standard.

On Thursday, he said that as many as 16 legislators — representing both major parties — may be claiming one address and actually living in another.

“There are people of both parties guilty of this,” Latvala said. “It’s a government trust issue.”

House sponsor is Rep. Ray Rodrigues.

SPOTTED: Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, chatting up Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran. H/t Dara Kam.

SPOTTED (AGAIN): Norquist huddling with ACU chairman Al Cardenas at the Governors Club.

TWEET, TWEET: @ADeslatte: Love it when @sethmckeel says “remember that fixed capital outlay” presentation from last year? Who could forget?

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STEVE PRECOURT RESIGNS FROM HOUSE via Dan Tracy of the Orlando Sentinel

As expected, state Rep. Steve Precourt Thursday afternoon resigned from the Legislature to take a job with the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority. By law, he cannot work the toll-road agency and remain the House.

Precourt, 53, has been in the Legislature since 2006 and was chosen to run the authority by a 3-2 vote of the agency’s board Tuesday. The job is expected to pay between $175,000 and $200,000 annually and includes perks such as a car allowance and access to the state pension plan.

Critics say Precourt used his political connections to secure the job that came open when former top executive Max Crumit resigned Sept. 30. His board supporters, most prominently member Scott Batterson, said Precourt’s political background was a key to his hiring.

Influential politicians such as Senate President-designate Andy Gardiner promoted Precourt for the position back in 2011, when Crumit took over on an interim basis.

A civil engineer by trade, Precourt still retains an interest in the engineering firm Dyer, Riddle, Mills and Precourt, which has earned several million dollars from the agency in recent years.

In a written statement released by his office, Precourt is quoted as saying, “I vow to work hard to uphold the highest standards when serving their (the authority) customers, the public, the stakeholders and all the many constituents.”

TWEET, TWEET: @adeslatte: Maybe the more approp question regarding HD 44 is if @FLGovScott will call special election. @EricEisnaugle says he will run, if so.

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JEFF BRANDES AT $303K FOR SD 22 RACE, JUDITH MCLAUCHLAN “MORE THAN ANY DEM CHALLENGER” Read full blog post here

State Sen. Jeff Brandes delivered a solid fundraising run for the end of 2013, by adding more than $41,000 in December to his Senate District 22 re-election effort, according to numbers released on Thursday.

The St. Petersburg Republican, who recently scored a legislative win with his Florida private flood insurance marketplace bill, collected $41,300 last month — $38,800 cash and $2,500 in-kind – for an overall total of $302,817.

In contrast, Democratic opponent Judithanne McLauchlan collected $7,373 during the same period, with another $1,034 in-kind, for a total of $20,627.

Although Brandes holds a distinct advantage over McLauchlan in the financial competition for SD 22, the University of South Florida professor began 2014 with “exciting news” for supporters.

In an email sent out Thursday, McLauchlan proclaims her $20,000 performance “more than any Democratic Challenger for the Florida State Senate,” and that she has garnered support of nearly every elected Democrat in the area — state, local and national.

“This campaign continues to be about our families and the communities where we live,” she adds. “It is about the future of Florida. I’m focusing on the important issues facing our region and our state — jobs, education, transportation, and access to affordable health care.”

WHY ARE JACK LATVALA AND JOE NEGRON RAISING ALL THAT MONEY?

One of the political committee associated with state Senator Jack Latvala took in more than $142,000 during December. The Florida Leadership Committee has now raised more than $411,000 according to newly financed reports posted on the committee’s website.

What Senator Latvala raises for his committee is supposedly newsworthy because he is locked into an interparty scrum with Senator Joe Negron for the presidency of the Florida Senate beginning in 2016.

There’s no disputing that Negron’s committee has raised considerably more money than Latvala’s committee. What’s not clear is what are they raising money for?

Barring any unforeseen changes, there are only two elections in 2014 which could have an impact on the Negron vs. Latvala rivalry. But neither of these races are Republican primaries, the outcome of which could add or subtract a pledge from either’s commitments.

In Senate District 22, incumbent Jeff Brandes faces a challenge from Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan. Unofficially, Brandes is a vote for Joe Negron for Senate President, but Latvala is not going to spend money on behalf of McLauchlan to take out Brandes. Say what you will about ol’ grizzly bear Latvala, but a traitor to his party is not one of them.

The other race which could impact who is the Senate President after Andy Gardiner is if Ellyn Bogdanoff decides to challenge Democrat incumbent Maria Sachs in District 34. Were Bogdanoff to run and unseat Sachs she would be a vote for Latvala, but, like Latvala, Negron is a devout Republican and is not going to have his committee spend any of that 961K on Sachs. In fact, you can expect Negron’s committee to expend tens of thousands of dollars on Bogdanoff’s behalf — even if Bogdanoff winning helps Latvala in the long run.

It is well-known that I am an acolyte of Jack Latvala (I even contributed $300 to his December haul), so this post may be perceived as some sort of gamesmanship on his behalf. It genuinely is not. I just don’t understand how Latvala’s or Negron’s fundraising plays a role in deciding who will be Senate President in 2014-16, other than it’s something the traditional media — which has a spotty record of analyzing leadership races — something to write about.

Please, someone, fill me in.

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CHECK OUT THIS COOL SUNDAY AFTERNOON FUNDRAISER FOR TOM LEE Invite here

There’s a lot to like about an upcoming fundraiser for state Senator Tom Lee.

First of all, check out the invitation. It’s refreshing to see an invite not drenched in red, white and blue.

Second, the event is at the you-must-check-out Madison Social, Tallahassee’s new social house.

Third is the host committee, which includes everyone from Sebastian Alexander to the team at Capital City Consulting, as well as good guys Louis Betz, Fred Leonhardt and many others.

Fourth and finally — beside the fact that fundraiser is for Lee — is that the invite was paid for by “The Conservative” of 115 East Park Avenue. I’m not sure who this is, but it’s obvious he or she knows how to put on an event.

FOUR HOUSE CANDIDATES PLANNING WILD GAME DINNER & FUNDRAISER FOR JAN. 31 Invite here

Four candidates for the Florida House are holding a “Wild Game Dinner & Fundraiser” at the Crooked Creek Ranch on January 31.

Republicans Danny Burgess, Shawn Harrison, Chris Latvala, and Chris Sprowls, along with the Nicolette Family, are hosting the event.

No word yet on what’s on the menu.

***Things will be great when you’re downtown at 101 RESTAURANT and MINT MARTINI BAR in Tallahassee. 101 Restaurant has been voted the best meal in the Capitol City featuring steaks, seafood, and specialty cocktails.   Mint Martini Bar is upscale and classy, and it’s the best place to enjoy live music and a good vibe. Located near the Capitol, 101 is open for lunch and dinner every day. For reservations please click on www.101tally.com.***

ON 3 PR WELCOMES COURTNEY HEIDELBERG TO THE FIRM

Christina Johnson, President of On 3 Public Relations today announced the addition of Courtney Heidelberg to the On3PR team.

Heidelberg will serve as Director of Accounts for the Florida-based, woman-owned firm. On3PR is celebrating its sixth anniversary in 2014.

Heidelberg comes to On3PR with over a decade of experience, including serving as Communications Director for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, having joined the Department as Deputy Communications Director in 2008. She previously served as Public Relations Manager for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Public Information Officer for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

 “We are thrilled to welcome Courtney Heidelberg to the On 3 Public Relations team,” said Christina Johnson, president and founder of the public relations and communications firm. “Her depth and breadth of experience at the state agency level, and her relationship with local and state media, combined with her extraordinary military service to our country, will complement our strategic efforts for our current and future clients.”

In addition to her work in state government, Heidelberg served in the United States Army and Florida National Guard as a Signal Officer. Her military service included a year-long tour in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She led soldiers through combat zones as a convoy commander, worked directly with Iraqis to fund community improvement projects and coordinated media interviews as the unit’s Public Affairs Officer.

PAC NAME OF THE DAY: A new superPAC registered with the FEC — A Kinda Sorta Better America Soon

***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 12, 2014, 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 and Governor Scott, to discuss  growing areas of the state’s $8 billion dollar space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***

CONTEXT FLORIDA: WAR ON POVERTY, GLOBAL WARMING, LITTLE SISTERS AND DENTAL HEALTH FOR UNDERSERVED KIDS

On Context FloridaDaniel Tilson begins by noting that the GOP once again is trying to sell the storyline that the War on Poverty has failed because there is still widespread poverty in America. Bob Sparks calls on states and the federal government to work together for common ground when it comes to environmental regulations. The U.S. Supreme Court case brought on by the Little Sisters of the Poor over ObamaCare’s contraception mandate is “ludicrous,” writes Julie Delegal. And the Florida Association of Health Plans (FAHP) is pulling a bait-and-switch on the health of Florida’s most vulnerable children, declares State Senator Anitere Flores.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

WEEKEND TV

Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: Dick and Marti Waters, two Florida whiskey distillers; Ben and Clay Lovel, who are experimenting with oyster farming; and a segment about Leroy Collins.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Congressional candidates Mark Bircher, David Jolly, and Kathleen Peters.

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: State Sentor Jeff Brandes.

Political Connections on Orlando’s CF 13: Attorney Jose Baez.

The Usual Suspects which airs on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore, Gary Yordon, and Ed Moore.

***Madison Social – Tallahassee’s Hottest Spot – invites you to a special Session Sneak Peel Happy Hour on Jan 14. Live music, Happy Hour specials, and menu samplings to show off what Tallahassee’s newest spot has to offer. For more info, click here.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Context Florida contributor Susan Clary.

SPOTTED IN ST. PETE: Michael Phelps, the most-decorated Olympian in history.

WINTER IS COMING: HBO has announced that the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” will debut on Sunday, April 6 at 9 p.m.

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.