Sunburn for 11/15 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

A pile of birthday wishes to begin the day, including to Seminoles Super Fan Wayne Bertsch, WFSU’s Trimmel Gomes, Darryl Rouson’s better half, Angela, and the Florida Realtors’ John Sebree.

***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. The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly 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.”***

ROMNEY BLAMES LOSS ON OBAMA’S GIFTS TO DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENCIES

Romney told fundraisers that he lost the election because of big “gifts” that President Obama had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies — “specially the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” the New York Times reports.

“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups. With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” said Romney. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

OBAMA SEEKS $1.6 TRILLION TAX INCREASE

President Obama “will begin budget negotiations with congressional leaders Friday by calling for $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue over the next decade, far more than Republicans are likely to accept and double the $800 billion discussed in talks with GOP leaders during the summer of 2011, the Wall Street Journal reports.

REPUBLICANS WILL INCREASE TAXES, JUST NOT RATES via First Read

They’re willing to give up additional REVENUES; they just don’t want to see tax RATES go up. The two sides actually aren’t that far apart. The question is whether they can agree on a revenue target for tax reform. That’s Step 1; Step 2 is how the temporary agreement is forged regarding the tax rates for 2013, sequestration, payroll tax, etc. The White House’s view: If you let the Bush tax rates expire for the Top 2%, it makes negotiating the issues surrounding sequestration (even the farm bill!) a lot easier. But the hurdle is big: getting the votes in the House. No Republican wants to vote for a tax RATE hike; it’s likely a primary suicide mission.

Ironically, the GOP may end up giving the president and Democrats MORE cover on taxes by agreeing to a revenue goal within tax reform, essentially, covering up tax hikes while the politicians can claim they’ve lowered tax RATES. Ah, the politics of the now vs. the politics of the long term. It’s the GOP’s challenge in managing its own base right now.

PELOSI WILL SEEK LEADERSHIP POST AGAIN

Rep. Nancy Pelosi told Democratic colleagues that she wants them to reelect her as House minority leader when they return from Thanksgiving break.

No one is expected to challenge her for the top House Democratic spot as a result.

RUBIO TO PARTICIPATE IN WASHINGTON IDEAS FORUM

Rubio will be participating in the 2012 Washington Ideas Forum. He will partake in an on stage interview with National Journal’s Major Garrett at 9:00 a.m. A live stream of the speech will be available here.

TWEET, TWEET: @learyreports: Sen. John Cornyn meeting with Rubio tomorrow re: immigration — “to figure out the way forward,” Texan says.

JEB BUSH: SON MAY RUN FOR TEXAS LAND COMMISSIONER

ush has written a fundraising letter saying his son George P. Bush “is considering” running for Texas Land Commissioner.

But Trey Newton, a political strategist for the younger Bush, said late today that “no firm decision has been made.”

The grandson of one former president and nephew of another, Bush filed a candidacy declaration with the Texas Ethics Commission last week.

He did not say which office he plans to run for but his campaign says it would be land commissioner, attorney general or comptroller in 2014.

***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.***

FLORIDA REMAINS AN ELECTION DISASTER AREA

Nearly a thousand ballots that were not included in Florida’s final count have been found in a warehouse in Broward County, reports WSVN-TV.

Rick Hasen notes election officials say this is “routine” in the county.

CRIST THROWS SUPPORT TO PLANNED BILL TO EXPAND EARLY VOTING by Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist offered support Wednesday to a planned bill crafted by Democratic legislators that would expand Florida’s early voting in response to long lines and embarrassing delays in vote counts this past election.

Calling voting the most fundamental right in a Democracy, Crist said during a Wednesday news conference with bill sponsor Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, “We should not discourage it. We should always encourage it.

Crist said 49 other states managed to get it right this past election. Florida, which is capable of getting it right, did not. He blamed legislation that scaled back early voting from 14 days to 8 and an unwillingness by Rick Scott to extend early voting when long lines were pointing to a problem.

SCOTT ASKS DETZNER TO MEET WITH COUNTY ELECTION SUPERVISORS

Secretary of State Ken Detzner will begin meeting today with supervisors of elections to discuss what areas of Florida’s election process need to be improved. Detzner will hold additional meetings following the certification of Florida’s election results later this month.

Issues of discussion for the Secretary’s meetings with supervisors will include wait times at polling places. Detzner will also seek information on why certain counties such as Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties were unable to report their preliminary absentee results in a timely manner, and why St. Lucie County needed to retabulate their election results several days after Election Day.

***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.***

JUDGE TO HEAR ALLEN WEST’S REQUEST FOR RECOUNT by Alex Sanz of FLDemocracy2012.com

On Friday, a St. Lucie County judge will hear U.S. Rep. Allen West’s request to recount all of the early votes cast in the race for the 18th Congressional district.

“We are within 249 votes of a mandatory recount,” he said. “All we are saying is do the right thing by the voters and do the full early vote recount because that is where the issue is.”

After a partial recount of ballots cast during the final three days of early voting in St. Lucie County, Murphy led West by about 1,900 votes or a margin of more than 0.5% — more than what would trigger an automatic recount.

“It stands to reason that if the remaining early votes were to be recounted, additional errors would be uncovered and the tabulation of votes revised accordingly,” Allen West for Congress said in a statement.

***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.***

GOV. SCOTT DROPS OPPOSITION TO OBAMACARE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Scott said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that he now wants to negotiate with the federal government. He said it’s time for Republicans to offer solutions to help families after they lost their bid to defeat President Barack Obama.

“The election is over and President Obama won,” Scott said. “I’m responsible for the families of Florida … If I can get to yes, I want to get to yes.”

… But his newfound willingness to have a “conversation” about putting it in place in Florida comes at a critical time.

States have until Friday to notify federal authorities whether they plan to set up health insurance exchanges, a marketplace where individuals and smalls businesses can shop for the most affordable coverage and where many will get help from the government to pay their premiums.

SPEAKER SAYS FEDS WILL INITIALLY RUN HEALTH EXCHANGE via The News Service of Florida

Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford said that Florida likely will default to the federal government to run a new health-insurance exchange in the state — though he left open the possibility that could change in the future. Such exchanges, which are expected to be online marketplaces for people to buy health insurance, are an important part of the 2010 federal health overhaul, known as the Affordable Care Act. Florida Republican leaders adamantly opposed the federal law, but President Obama’s re-election last week assured that the overhaul will go forward. States face a deadline this week for telling the federal government whether they plan to run exchanges. With Florida unlikely to agree to an exchange by that deadline, the federal government would step in.

But Weatherford, acknowledging that the Affordable Care Act is the “law of the land,” told reporters that the state could play a longer-term role in running an exchange. Among the possibilities are the state running an exchange or forming a partnership with the federal government. Weatherford said, however, there are numerous unanswered questions about the exchanges and other parts of the federal health law, such as a potential expansion of the Medicaid program.

GAETZ TAPS GARRETT RICHTER FOR SENATE PRO TEM via The News Service of Florida

In the first appointment to his leadership team, incoming Senate President Don Gaetz on Wednesday named Naples Republican Garrett Richter as president pro tempore. Richter, a banker, has served in the Senate since 2008, after two years in the House. He was re-elected without opposition this year and will take over as president pro tempore Tuesday during the Legislature’s organizational session.

Richter has worked the past four years as chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and has been heavily involved in issues such as property insurance. “There is no doubt where Senator Richter stands on the issues that matter to Florida’s future,” said Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who will formally assume the presidency Tuesday. “But, he has the exceptional capacity to listen to all sides and craft solutions that earn broad support.”

WEATHERFORD LOOKS TO LIMIT CONFORMING BILLS

We need to do less governing via conforming bills, and we need to make sure there is a better cooling off period for conforming bills so people have the opportunity to see what is in them before they vote on them,” Weatherford said.

In recent years, the bills have been used as vehicles to propel controversial legislative issues through the process by lumping them with must-pass budget provisions. The piggybacking of hot-button issues reduces the ability of critics to effectively object because the bills themselves cannot be amended. Lawmakers can only give them an up or down vote.

Opponents say the often-voluminous conforming proposals make it easy to hide items from members of both chambers who are not involved in the intimate details surrounding the budget making process. On Tuesday, Weatherford pledged to reduce their frequency and give lawmakers ample time to digest those that make it through.

WEATHERFORD NAMES PRECOURT, YOUNG TO LEADERSHIP TEAM

Rep. Steve Precourt, an Orlando Republican, will be the Florida House’s new majority leader.

Incoming Speaker Will Weatherford on Wednesday announced his choice of Precourt to replace Rep. Chris Dorworth, who was defeated at the polls. Weatherford also named Rep. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican and lawyer, to serve as deputy majority leader.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: After how hard she worked for her colleagues during campaign season, it’s no surprise @repdanayoung was named to House leadership.

WINNERS & LOSERS IN THE AFTERMATH  OF CHRIS DORWORTH’S DEFEAT by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

Winners: Firefighters, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, State Rep.-elect Mike Clelland

Losers: Trial lawyers, Walt Disney World, Rep. Jason Brodeur, Will Weatherford

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communications, Florida’s preeminent public affairs communications firm. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. www.RonSachs.com ***

CHARTER SCHOOLS GAINING MARKET SHARE IN FLORIDA

Charter schools are an increasingly popular choice in Florida, as more students leave the traditional classroom. More than 200,000 students are currently enrolled in 574 charter schools in Florida. Charters can be found in 44 Florida districts.

FLORIDA RANKS HIGH IN NEW REPORT ON TEACHER QUALITY by Jeff Solochek of the Gradebook

The National Center on Teacher Quality released its latest briefs on state teacher policies Wednesday, with Florida leading the way overall and near the top in every category.

The group gave Florida a B for its total mark, the only state to achieve that level. It considered its improvement in the categories assessed to be ninth best of the 50 states.

The NCTQ looks as areas such as teacher preparation and evaluations when rating the states. Its board of directors includes many in the education reform world, including former Florida commissioner John Winn, former Louisiana superintendent of education Paul Pastorek and former Reagan administration education official Chester Finn Jr.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS MAKE LEADERSHIP MOVES by Tolu Olorunnipa of the Miami Herald

Leading the House Democratic Caucus will be: Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, as Floor Leader; Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Peterburg, as Democratic Policy Advisor; Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, as Leader pro tempore; Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, as Democratic Policy Chair; Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, as Democatic Whip

JAMES MADISON INSTITUTE HOSTING STATE POLICY NETWORK’S 20TH ANNUAL MEETING

The James Madison Institute (JMI) is hosting the State Policy Network’s 20th Annual Meeting at The Ritz Amelia Island this week. More than 700 people are attending the four-day, professional development meeting of state policy organizations and supporters from across the nation. JMI presented a “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” dinner for many of the conference attendees Wednesday evening to showcase Florida.

“As the election illustrated, Florida continues to be a point of focus for America, so it’s fitting that a meeting of the nationwide defenders of freedom happens here in the bellwether Sunshine State. JMI will celebrate 25 years of being Florida’s oldest and largest think-tank in 2013 and we are excited to start the celebration early tonight with our sister organizations,” said Dr. Bob McClure, JMI president and CEO. “Every year, Florida has the chance to shine a light on the policy path as a leading state in promoting solutions that strengthen Florida’s economy and improve the future outlook for generations to come. The other states represented at SPN are also working toward this ever important common goal and JMI is proud to be counted among them.”

ONLY “MISSION CRITICAL” JOB VACANCIES AT DEP CAN BE FILLED, DEPUTY SECRETARY SAYS via Bruce Ritchie of the Florida Current

In an Oct. 11 memo to regulatory division directors and directors of district offices, Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Affairs Jeff Littlejohn said advance approval is required when filling a vacant position or reclassifying and filling a vacant position.

Prior to requesting approval, directors must determine whether the job duties are critical to DEP’s mission, according to criteria attached to his memo. If a vacancy is critical, then a cost-benefit analysis must be done to determine whether the duties can be performed at a lower cost by outside entities including water management districts, universities, county departments or the private sector.

WELL-REGARDED STERLING IVEY LEAVING AG. DEPT. FOR PROGRESS ENERGY 

Sterling Ivey, spokesman for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, is headed to Duke/Progress Energy.

The longtime state government spokesman previously worked for Gov. Charlie Crist, Pinellas County Schools, the Florida Department of State, and the Florida Department of Corrections.

He’ll be relocating to St. Petersburg for his new position.

***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.***

DOLE/KEMP: Twitter users noticed that the Dole/Kemp 1996 website is still online.

KEY WEST MAN KILLS SELF AFTER OBAMA WINS: Police say they found Henry Hamilton’s body in his bedroom Nov. 8, along with a living will with handwritten words “Do not revive! (expletive) Obama!” Two empty prescription empty pill bottles were in the dining room. Hamilton’s partner Michael Cossey told Key West police he last saw Hamilton when they watched the election results together. According to the police report, Hamilton was upset and said, “If Barack gets re-elected, I’m not going to be around.”

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.