Sunburn for 11/14 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Public Affairs Consultants Inc., one of the oldest and most well respected Public Affairs and Governmental Consulting firms in Florida. Jack and Keyna Cory have represented clients before the Florida Legislature, state agencies  and local governments for over 20 years. They don’t just show up for the legislative session.  Instead they custom design and implement a Grassroots Program for each of their Clients that functions all year long.  As one former legislator stated, “They are tough, well-organized, dedicated to their clients and in full command of the facts.”***

THE ELECTION WAS CLOSE BUT NOT REALLY via Charlie Cook

“It’s certainly true that 51 percent (rounding up from 50.5) to 48 percent is close, but since the end of World War II, five elections have been closer. Mitt Romney won only two more states (Indiana and North Carolina) than John McCain did, and even if he had won Florida, the GOP nominee would still have needed to win Ohio, Virginia, and either Colorado or Iowa, based on the sequence of the election margins.”

“The danger for Republicans clinging to that solace is that it sidesteps the inconvenient truth that they have now lost the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections, from 1992 on. For the GOP, this was more than one bad night.”

INSIDE OBAMA’S SHADOW CAMPAIGN by Steve Friess of POLITICO

Priorities USA had a laser focus during the presidential election: to define Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch, super-rich, ruthless business profiteer … The pro-Obama super PAC accomplished this [by] targeting certain groups of Web users, buying search terms on Twitter and Google like ’47 percent’ and ‘dressage,’ and airing attack ads featuring laid-off workers … Priorities, [co-founded] by former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, had a fraction of Rove, Romney or Obama’s funding. Still … its anti-Romney videos were among … the [cycle’s] most effective and memorable … The winning strategy … involved less money, but a bigger focus on the Web … and a dedication to going negative. …

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio insisted his groups’ online strategies were on par with Priorities … In addition to advertising online in swing states … Priorities also did so in Washington D.C. and New York City to entice journalists … to … provide free exposure … A confidential document illustrated the search-term approach. Priorities bought hundreds of Twitter terms for the 90 minutes of the first presidential debate at a cost of as much as $194,000 to get a message before as many as 1.6 million online users with profiles that suggested they were independent-minded and located in battleground states. … Burton admitted they threw in some wildcards to see what hit, including media-related names associated with non-partisan coverage such as CNN’s John King or ‘CBS Sunday Morning.’

WHAT ALL THAT MONEY COULD HAVE BOUGHT

The Daily Beast looks at better uses for the billions spent on election campaigns this year.

FISCAL CLIFF NEGOTIATIONS PREDICTED TO FAIL

A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll finds that most Americans think President Obama and House Republicans will fail to reach an agreement in time to avoid the fiscal cliff, 51% to 38%.

…AND ISN’T FISCAL CLIFF JUST A TERRIBLE METAPHOR

FT Alphaville explains why calling the year-end mix of spending cuts and tax increases a “fiscal cliff” is actually very misleading.

“If policymakers don’t work out a solution by January 1st, the harm is not immediate. Nor is it irreversible, nor is it even all that perilous at first. And even to describe the various components as a single item is problematic: each would have a different effect on the economy.”

The Financial Times has some data: “The Congressional Budget Office puts the full cost of going over the cliff at almost 3 percentage points of output and 3.4m jobs by the end of 2013… Those figures, however, describe the cost of going over the fiscal cliff and staying there for a whole year… Going off the cliff for a couple of weeks might mean a loss of as little as 0.1 per cent of output.”

Meanwhile, Wonkblog has taken to dumping the name altogether and aptly calling it an “austerity crisis.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part 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.***

FRUSTRATED FLORIDIANS SEARCH FOR ANSWERS, CALL FOR INVESTIGATION INTO VOTING ISSUES by Dara Kam of the Palm Beach Post

Civic groups, civil rights organizations, labor unions and Democratic Party office holders are demanding changes in Florida’s electoral system after many voters in the the state experienced chaos and frustration at polling places during the recent early voting period and on Election Day.

The League, along with AARP and several other community organizations, are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to form a “multi-partisan task force” of state leaders who would draft reforms and have them ready at least two weeks before the Florida Legislature convenes in March. Scott has proposed a task force headed by his own Florida Division of Elections chief Ken Detzner, but Macnab called that “unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of left-of-center organizations in Florida are demanding a federal inquiry into the voting chaos. In a conference call with reporters, those organizations — including unions and minority groups — said that lines voters faced at the polls disproportionately impacted minority voters who typically vote for Democrats. They demanded the rewriting of Florida’s election laws and a federal inquiry into long lines.

COLUMNS AND EDITORIALS HAMMER RICK SCOTT

Gov. Rick Scott, fix this voting problem now, not later by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Let’s amend the state Constitution to ensure voter access by Dan Gelber

Florida’s election season chaos no joking matter by the Orlando Sentinel editoral board

Election flubs make Florida look like the ‘Keystone Kops’ by Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune

DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS — BACKED BY CRIST — TO INTRODUCE REFORM LEGISLATION ON WEDNESDAY

tate Representative Darryl Rouson, with the support of former Governor Charlie Crist, will announce legislation for the upcoming 2013 legislative session to reform the flawed Florida elections statutes that changed in 2011 and led to a national embarrassment.

“The effectiveness and fairness of the laws governing our elections have been brought into question by the past election,” Rep. Rouson said.  “Our legislature should not be a prisoner to its own laws.  We must fix this error and I urge Governor Scott to reject the idea that these election changes were ‘the right thing to do’.  They were not.  The legislation that I am drafting will bring back early voting and voter registration procedures to the way it was under Governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist and will not be drafted to suppress any citizen or group of citizens.”

CHARLIE CRIST: “ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE”

Crist has shifted from denial and noncommittal responses to a “could be” Monday when asked on MSNBC about challenging Scott in 2014.

Crist, who had been crisscrossing the state for President Obama and taking verbal shots at Scott for long lines and counting delays during Florida’s election, paused before saying “Anything’s possible,” when asked about the speculation of his own political future.

“I’m not ruling anything in or anything out.” See the interview here.

EPILOGUE: NORTH FLORID COUNTIES — READ: DIXIECRAT — VOTED AGAINST SUPREME COURT JUSTICES 

Florida Supreme Court justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince easily won merit-retention elections last week, each topping 67 percent of the vote. But a dozen north Florida counties — almost all of them sparsely populated rural counties — apparently weren’t so pleased with the justices.

Majorities of voters in those counties voted against retention of all three. Those counties were Baker, Bradford, Calhoun, Dixie, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Lafayette, Suwannee, Union, Walton and Washington. The percentages of voters casting ballots against Lewis’ retention, for example, ranged from 50.3 percent in Walton County to 57.8 percent in Gilchrist County, according to information on the state Division of Elections website. Lewis, Pariente and Quince won retention, despite opposition from some conservative groups and Republican leaders who argued they were too liberal.

FASCINATING DIAGRAM TRACKS SPENDING BY FLORIDA’S POLITICAL COMMITTEES via ContributionLink

During the 2012 cycle, 1,145 political committees in Florida raised almost $220 million. ContributionLink took a closer look at 33 of the most active ECOs and CCEs and logged each fund transfer transaction between them – both to and from. The interactive node chart found here represents 923 fund transfers through 311 committees for a total of $22 million.

***Bascom Communications congratulates its 2012 election cycle clients: Senator John Thrasher, Senator Greg Evers, Senator-elect John Legg, Senator-elect Rob Bradley, Senator-elect Aaron Bean, Representative Doug Holder, Representative-elect Travis Cummings, Representative-elect Travis Hutson and also congratulates its strategic partners Marc Reichelderfer, Pat Bainter and the Data Targeting Team, David Johnson, Peret Pass and Andy Palmer.  For more information on Bascom Communications and its political communications consulting team, visit www.bascomllc.com.***

***Capitol Consulting would like to thank the clients we were privileged to serve this election cycle. Congratulations to election winners Sheriff David Gee, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, State Representative-Elect Dan Raulerson and State Representative-Elect Jake Raburn.  To see some of the most creative work we produced, visit our YouTube Channel and to sign up to receive information from us visit here.***

IN MEMORIAM: RAY SITTIG, LONGTIME EXEC. DIRECTOR OF FLA. LEAGUE OF CITIES

Raymond Sittig, longtime former executive director of the Florida League of Cities and a leading defender of local home rule in Florida, died Monday at age 83, after a lengthy illness. Sittig joined the Florida League of Cities in 1959 and spent 36 years with the organization, serving as its top executive for 25 years before his retirement in 1995.

>>>“I’m saddened by the passing of Ray Sittig. I consider him to be a very good friend and a man of his word. You can’t get much better of a guy than Ray,” said former Florida Governor Reubin Askew. “Ray Sittig made an enormous contribution to the good government movement here in Florida. In particular, Ray gave the FLC the face of integrity in all of its dealings with state government, including the Legislature.”

>>>Former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham said, “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Sittig, a passionate and tireless voice for Florida’s communities. The concept of home rule came to the forefront during my years as Governor, and that important idea had no more effective advocate than Ray. Policy set in Tallahassee and Washington is often applied at the local level, and I could always rely on Ray’s leadership to make sure Florida’s municipal leaders understood the opportunities those policies presented.  Ray also became a personal friend and Adele and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Sittig family.”

>>>“Ray will forever be remembered as the pioneer of home rule in our state and for his instrumental role in increasing the influence of Florida’s cities on the state and national stage,” said Florida League of Cities President Manny Maroño. “Thanks to Ray Sittig’s work, local governments are the ones most trusted by Floridians to address many of the challenges we face.”

>>>“Ray Sittig was a true hero to anyone who believes the best government is the one closest to the people,” said former Governor Bob Martinez, who previously served as President of the Florida League of Cities. “During my tenure as mayor of Tampa and president of the League of Cities, and then as Governor, I worked closely with Ray and found him to be an invaluable source of information, an insightful guide on policy matters, and a true friend. Under his expert leadership, the Florida League of Cities emerged as a leading voice for local governments across our state and became a force to be reckoned with in the capital. Ray will be missed by all who knew him and the countless Floridians who benefited from his dedicated service.”

ALAN CLENDENIN ANNOUNCES BID TO LEAD FLORIDA’S DEMOCRATS

Alan Clendenin, Democratic National Committeeman and Hillsborough County State Committeeman announced on Tuesday he would seek to lead the Florida Democratic Party.

“As an air traffic controller for over 30 years, I know a little something about getting from point A to point B,” said Clendenin. “In 2014 we will help Rick Scott’s private jet depart Tallahassee for the last time. I am ready to lead our state with a vision and a plan to rebrand, rebuild and recruit for a stronger and more competitive Florida Democratic Party, a party ready to compete and win in every county”.

GOV. SCOTT MARKS MINDTREE RIBBON CUTTING IN GAINESVILLE via the News Service of Florida

Scott on Tuesday attended a ribbon cutting in Gainesville for Indian company Mindtree’s first U.S.-based delivery center. Scott said earlier that the project would eventually create 400 jobs over the next five years. Mindtree has already invested more than $1.6 million in the project and expects eventually to make a $2.95 million capital investment. Scott has pointed to the Mindtree project as evidence that Florida’s economy is heading in the right direction. The delivery center is the first outside India for Mindtree, a software consulting company.

WEATHERFORD WANTS MAJOR CHANGE IN RETIREMENT SYSTEM by Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Calling the current pension system “old and archaic,” incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford said Tuesday he wants to revamp the state retirement program for new employees and make it more like the private sector.

“It (pension costs) is a ticking time bomb in every state and in every city across the country, and it’s time for us to get real and do what the private sector has done,” Weatherford told reporters, as he prepares to formally begin presiding over the House next week.

***StudentsFirst and its 150,000 members across Florida would like to congratulate the 8 of 11 pro-reform candidates who were victorious in November’s general election. Despite being relatively new to the education reform space, and being vastly outspent by special interests, StudentsFirst helped several reform-minded champions such as Representative Michael Bileca defend highly targeted challenges and filled four previously non-reform seats with reformers.  For a full list of candidates endorsed by StudentsFirst in Florida, visit here.***

LAWMAKER WANTS TO BE PAID IN GOLD AND SILVER: Montana state Rep. Jerry O’Neil “is spooked enough about the country’s fiscal picture to request that his legislative pay come in the form of gold and silver coins,” the Daily Inter Lake reports.

WOMAN RAN OVER HUSBAND FOR NOT VOTING: A pregnant Arizona woman was arrested after allegedly running over her husband with her SUV after learning he did not vote in last week’s election, Fox News reports. Police say Holly Solomon was enraged when she discovered her husband Daniel did not vote because she believes President Obama’s re-election will bring hardship to their family.

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.