Sunburn for 11/19 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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***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.”***

CLEAR-CUT TWEET OF THE DAY: @MarcoRubio God bless #Israel. We stand with you during this difficult time.

THE ROMNEY PURGE BEGINS by Ben Smith of BuzzFeed

There appears to be no Romney Republicanism to propagate. No Romney strategy to emulate. No Romney technology to ape. No generation shaped by his failed effort. And no Romney infrastructure to inherit, though he may still be asked to write and bundle quite a few checks…

Romney is being erased with record speed from his party’s books for three reasons. First, many Republicans backed him because they thought he had a good chance of winning; that appeal, obviously, is gone. Second, Romney had shallow roots, and few friends, in the national Republican Party. And those shallow roots have allowed Republicans to give him a new role: As a sort of bad partisan bank, freighted with all the generational positions and postures that they are looking to dump.


Newt Gingrich told Evan Smith that Mitt Romney’s explanation of why he lost the election — by giving “gifts” to minorities and young people — was “insulting and profoundly wrong.”

“He had enough billionaire supporters that if buying the electorate was the key,” said Gingrich, “he could have got all of his super PAC friends together and said, ‘Don’t buy ads, give gifts.'”


Peggy Noonan: “Thank goodness… for Mitt Romney, who in a conference call with donors said he got beat and beat bad, that his campaign was lacking, that his gut on the big issues was probably off, that he shouldn’t have allowed his campaign to become (in the grandiose, faux-macho lingo of campaign…) an air war and not a ground war, and that they were smoked in get-out-the-vote. He added, with an eye to concerns larger than his own, that he wanted to help the party analyze and define what didn’t work in 2012 so it would be stronger in 2016. Sorry. Kidding! He didn’t say that.”


Marc Ambinder clarifies some myths that the political elite has been building in the aftermath of the presidential election.


RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told party officials that he will run for a second two-year term in January and already has locked down support from most of the committee, Politico reports.

Moving to preempt any potential challenge, Priebus said he has the support of at least 130 of 168 state chairs and committee members.

***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.***

IS IT 2014/16 ALREADY? 


Thirty-eight months before the next presidential vote is cast, Marco Rubio on Saturday night became the first of the potential 2016 contestants to swoop in to this first caucus state and test the GOP’s new rallying cry to broaden its appeal. Seven hundred people turned out to see the Florida senator at the annual birthday fundraiser bash for GOP Gov. Terry Branstad. Rubio had the spotlight all to himself … Taking a page out of the Democrats’ playbook on Saturday, the Florida senator wove his personal story into direct appeal to the middle class. ‘Our workers are not making as much as they made in the same jobs 25 years ago,’ he said. ‘My father was a bartender. My mother was a maid at hotel.’ … To jump-start the country, he spoke of lower taxes, fewer government regulations on businesses, job training and a stronger nuclear family.

Without acknowledging Rubio is laying the groundwork for a 2016 run, his advisers say the charismatic senator wants to craft a message to Latinos and the middle-class demonstrating that the Republican Party represents their conservative values of family, faith and the American dream. Before he spoke, Rubio told reporters that he has been circulating drafts of his own immigration reform bill to his congressional colleagues … ‘People understand that we need to do something to address these issues, and we need to do it in a reasonable and responsible way’ … [I]n a clear swipe at President Obama’s commitment to raise taxes on the nation’s wealthiest, he said: ‘The way[s] to turn our economy around is not by making rich people poorer, but make poor people richer.'”

RUBIO MAKES FIRST POSTELECTION TRIP TO IOWA by Phi Elliott of the Associated Press

[H]is birthday wishes for Branstad were more like a roadmap for his party looking for a new direction and an argument for a Rubio presidential campaign. Lower taxes to spur economic growth. A compassionate immigration overhaul to help those who want to become Americans. Reduced regulation to let small businesses grow. Stronger families to give children more stability … In a 24-minute, campaign-style pitch, … Rubio ticked through conservative goals while urging his party not to lose hope in the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss on Election Day. He said the results should not be taken as a rejection of Republicans’ views.

>>>Des Moines Register‘s Jennifer Jacobs: “Rubio … was the featured guest at Gov. Terry Branstad’s birthday celebration Saturday at Adventureland’s Palace Theater in Altoona. … Rubio told Iowa conservatives … that he knows there’s ‘a lot of frustration about the outcome of the election’ but that Republicans need to do a better job of convincing fellow Americans that ‘limited government is the best way forward.”

>>>Video of Rubio’s speech here.

RUBIO KEEPS EYE ON HISPANIC VOTE, 2016 ELECTION by Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Being on the losing team never felt so good. … ‘It’s obvious to one and all that the Republican Party cannot put together a winning coalition by getting a larger and larger share of a smaller and smaller number of white voters,’ said Rubio’s pollster Whit Ayres. ‘We need to reach out aggressively to nonwhite voters, and Marco Rubio will be a key voice.’ … Rubio was one of Romney’s top surrogates, soaking up exposure in key states including Ohio, Colorado and Nevada. He did 60 events and so many interviews his staff lost count, more than 30 alone on the day of the first presidential debate in Denver. … After adopting some of the harder-line positions [on immigration reform] in his 2010 Senate run, he began work earlier this year on an alternative to the Dream Act. Instead of creating a pathway to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, Rubio wanted to grant them legal status. Time dragged on and Rubio never produced his plan. He said he wanted to get it right but the proposal, which he says is still under development, was also under attack from conservatives … Obama stepped in with a directive that gave young undocumented residents protection against deportation. …

A spokesman, Alex Conant, said Rubio prefers a ‘sequential’ approach but would not prejudge broader efforts. Some advisers worry Rubio will be typecast by immigration. ‘Marco really needs to be outspoken on the issue because of the credibility he has, but he can’t own the issue,’ said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union. ‘He should continue to be a generalist.’ … Rubio seems to be trying to construct the perfect, well-rounded candidate, an anti-tax Republican with crossover appeal. He’s been critical of Obama on foreign policy, fiscal issues and health care, but also joined forces with Democrats on a series of lower-end business measures and pursued niche issues such as human trafficking. As early as next month, he will push a package of policies focused on ‘upward mobility’ of poor people. … While fellow foreign policy hawk Sen. John McCain railed last week against comments U.N. Secretary Susan Rice gave after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, Rubio … said he would not automatically block her possible nomination to head the State Department.


“No governor elected in 2010 got off to a worse start than Rick Scott. While he seems to have found his footing over the past year or so, Scott’s approval ratings and the competitiveness of the Sunshine State (Obama won it in 2008 and 2012) guarantees a very tough race. At the moment, the most likely Democratic candidate looks like former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who has bent over backwards to prove that all the stuff he said he when he was a Republican doesn’t apply anymore. (Heck, he spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention!) While Crist brings heavy baggage to the race, it’s not clear that Democrats have another solid alternative. And Crist was a popular governor.”

FLA. GOP TRIES TO BEAT CHARLIE CRIST BEFORE HE CAN RUN by Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

The idea is this: defeat Crist before he can re-emerge as a political candidate with a D next to his name. The unusual part is Crist isn’t a candidate and the attacks began before the 2012 election was decided. It breaks traditional election strategy for a party to begin airing campaign ads for the next election cycle while in the middle of another.

“I don’t recall it ever being done,” said David Johnson, a Tallahassee-based Republican political consultant. “It is unusual and it is unprecedented, but so is Charlie Crist.”

… Crist agrees that level of attention he’s receiving from his former party is unusual.

“I’ve never heard about people running television ads against a non-candidate, just to put it in perspective,” Crist said.


The Big Dog also knows that Crist is the Democrats’ best shot to knock off Scott and, therefore, help Hillary — that’s why Clinton will campaign for Crist, just as Obama will.

It may not show up in any newspaper report, but don’t be surprised if Obama and Clinton’s people attempt to dissuade Sink (and her donors!) from her even entering the Democratic primary.

Eager to see Sink run in 2014, however, is the Florida GOP. Her running will make Crist spend the money John Morgan raises for him holding off Sink.  Scott and Co., will be waiting for him on the other side of the primary with nine figures worth of negative attacks.


Suddenly in line to become House speaker in 2014, Merritt Island Republican Steve Crisafulli this week filed paperwork to run for re-election that year, notes the News Service of Florida.

Crisafulli, who will run in District 51, is one of a parade of candidates already preparing to run in 2014 and, in a couple of cases, in 2016.

Others who filed papers for 2014 races this week included Jacksonville no-party candidate David Walter Harwood in House District 16; Venice Republican Julio Gonzalez in House District 74; and Fort Lauderdale Democrat Jimmy B. Witherspoon in House District 94.

FIRST SNAPSHOT OF 2014 FLORIDA HOUSE RACES by Dave Trotter of the Political Hurricane

As far as the “Safe” seats, the Democrats have 35 while the Republicans have 37. There is only one “likely Democratic” seat while the Republicans have 10. As far as the lean, the Republicans have 12 while the Democrats have four. If you have been doing the math while I explain the breakdown, you will realize that the Republicans are at 59 seats and the Democrats at 40 seats. Therefore, there are, mathematically, 21 “toss up” seats, with Republicans holding all but four. Therefore, while the Republicans are only one away from a majority, they could still lose it. It is unlikely, but they could mathematically.

In addition, there is more of a likelihood that some of the “lean Republican” seats could go to the “toss up” category than Democratic “lean” seats. Overall, the Democrats look to be in a better position to pick up seats because a larger percentage of their seats are safe. Currently, 80% of Democratic seats are “safe” (which, according to my calculation, means that the Democrats would get over 15% in almost every scenario). Only 49% of Republican seats are considered safe.

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“Today at Noon, it became clear Patrick Murphy will be officially certified as the next Congressman from the 18th Congressional District,” Murphy for Congress campaign manager Anthony Kusich said. “The voters have spoken and Patrick Murphy is once again the clear winner.  It is beyond time to put this campaign behind us and put the interests of the people of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches first.”

After a partial recount of ballots cast during the final three days of early voting in St. Lucie County, Murphy, a Democrat, led West by 1,907 votes or a margin of more than 0.5% — more than what would trigger an automatic recount.

West for Congress campaign manager Tim Edson said St. Lucie County botched the latest retabulation of early votes and the election was far from decided.

“Why is it so hard for Supervisor of Elections, Gertrude Walker, to fairly and accurately count the results of an election?,” he asked. “Today’s actions cast an even greater cloud of suspicion over the results of St. Lucie County than existed before. Consequently, the highly-suspect results will be submitted to the Secretary of  State today — even though the canvassing board has already admitted they may contain serious errors.”

ADAM SMITH NAMES WEST HIS LOSER OF THE WEEK IN FLA. POLITICS: “(I)t’s increasingly clear that West’s attempt to take his seat back from Democrat Patrick Murphy is over.”

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APPOINTED: Benjamin Hardin, Jr., Richard Straughn, and Cassandra Denmark (reappointed) to the Tenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission by Gov. Scott.


>>>Senate Democrats will hold their caucus meeting today at 3:30 p.m. in the Historic Capitol Senate Chamber and will elect their leader and leader pro tem for the coming term. Sen. Chris Smith is expected to be elected minority leader.

>>>House Democrats will formally elect Rep. Perry Thurston as their leader for the coming session at their caucus meeting at 5 p.m. in the Historic Capitol House Chamber. They’ll also vote on a leader pro-tem, expected to be Rep. Mia Jones.

>>>Democratic lawmakers will celebrate their newly elected legislative leaders at a reception Monday evening in the Old Capitol.


The House will start its sessions a little earlier, and one subcommittee will write the House budget for both K-12 education and higher ed, under new rules proposed by leadership for approval by legislators this week.

Most of the rules remain unchanged, but there are a few changes:

  • Movement of the default session start time from 9 a.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Removal of the revolving bill slot incentive for repealer bills.  Repealer bills remain an exemption to a member’s bill limit.
  • Conforming of conference procedures to our House practice of requiring signatures on reports.
  • Requirement that complaints contain the complainant’s name and legal address.
  • Reflection of the statutory obligation regarding voting abstention and disclosure.
  • Reflection of the Speaker-designate’s final decision to have  a single Education Appropriations subcommittee.


Florida’s response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will take center stage at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Sixth Annual Insurance Summit on November 28-30 in Orlando. Policy makers, legal experts, healthcare stakeholders and business leaders will discuss what lies ahead for Floridians during the three-day conference, and will hear from the state’s top leaders including Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and members of the legislature.

The Florida Chamber’s annual insurance summit is a key forum to address emerging insurance-related issues expected to be topics of debate during the upcoming 2013 Legislative Session.


The American Heart Association holds a news conference to discuss legislation on newborn heart screenings.


“I believe that we need to take a comprehensive look at gaming in our state, and arrive at some policy that is fair and equitable and realistic,” said state Senate President-designate Don Gaetz, a Republican from Niceville.

“We have to get the parties around the table — and that includes the opponents of the expansion of gambling. I want to hear from the people of Florida.”

Gaetz’s counterpart in the House, incoming Speaker Will Weatherford, concurred.

“There needs to be clarity and direction as to where Florida is going with gaming,” said Weatherford, a Republican from Wesley Chapel. “This does not mean there will be an expansion or a contraction of gaming in Florida, but one way or another, the issue has to be addressed.”

>>>Timeline of gambling expansion in Florida here.

***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.***

MOST INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES ELECTED SINCE 1944Ballot Access News reports that 25 minor party and independent candidates were elected to state legislatures this month. Checking records of past elections reveals that this is the highest such number since 1942, when there were 31 such candidates elected. In 1944, there were 22 such candidates elected, and at no time since 1944 (until 2012) had there been any election with more than 17.”

THE SIX WEEK CONGRESSMAN: Rep. David Curson was sworn-in last week to complete the remainder of former Rep. Thad McCotter’s term — but he’ll only be there until the end of the year, the AP reports. He was one of four members of the House sworn in this past week to fill a partial term, but he’s the only one who didn’t win a full, two-year term to go with the temporary gig. In January, he’ll drive his truck home and be replaced by Republican Rep.-elect Kerry Bentivolio, whom Curson beat out for the partial term.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.