Sunburn for 11/30 — 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 the Smart Justice Summit. With an eye towards creating Smart Justice legislation for the state, the Florida Smart Justice Summit will convene December 12-14 to develop a far-reaching initiative that offers common sense ideas to improve outcomes, reduce costs and enhance public safety for the people of Florida. For more information, visit JusticeSummit.org.***

OBAMA’S VICTORY MARGIN GROWS

As the votes keep coming in, David Wasserman notes President Obama’s national lead over Mitt Romney is now 50.9% to 47.4%.

That’s a bigger (and more decisive) margin that Bush’s victory over John Kerry in 2004 (which was Bush 50.7% and Kerry 48.2%), notes First Read. What’s more, the president’s lead has grown to close to 3 points in Ohio, 4 points in Virginia and 6 points in Colorado. One doesn’t win Colorado by six points without winning swing voters; there isn’t a big-enough Democratic base to make that argument.”

Markos Moulitsas notes that President Obama could have lost every state he won by less than 5.4 percentage points — Florida, Ohio, and Virginia — and he still would’ve won the electoral vote 272 to 266. He also notes Obama hit 48% in every battleground state while Mitt Romney managed it in just two of them.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Some do it professionally. Some were entertainers. I looked down the debate stage, and half of them were probably on Fox contracts at one point in their career. You do that. You write some books. You go out and you sell some more. You get a radio gig or a TV gig out of it or something. And it’s like, you say to yourself, the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low.” — Jon Huntsman, quoted by the Huffington Post, on the “corrosive” Republican primary process.

OBAMA AND ROMNEY HAVE LUNCH

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met for lunch at the White House, where they discussed their overlapping interests instead of the sharp differences that defined their presidential contest.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had no specific agenda for the meeting, but he said the president discussed Romney’s ideas for making government more efficient. Obama has proposed merging some functions of government related to business and has asked Congress for authority to undertake some executive branch reorganization.

“The president noted that Gov. Romney did a terrific job running the Olympics and that that skills set lends itself to ideas that could make the federal government work better, which is a passion of the president’s,” Carney said.

TWEET, TWEET: @Dardy: So after probably a 1000 emails beckoning me to join the raffle for dinner with Barack and Michelle, it’s Romney that gets lunch with him.

MORE TWEETAGE: @RMMcGill: hmmm…least influential person of the year having meeting with the President at White House today.

ECONOMY GREW FASTER THAN EXPECTED

Real gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 2.7% in the third quarter, Marketwatch reports, up from an initial estimate of 2%. It was the fastest pace since the end of last year.

DEAL EMERGING THAT WOULD AVOID FALLING OFF FISCAL CLIFF

Despite the bluster from both sides, Politico says the contours of a tax and spending deal are starting to take shape.

Cut through the fog, and here’s what to expect: Taxes will go up just shy of $1.2 trillion — the middle ground of what President Barack Obama wants and what Republicans say they could stomach. Entitlement programs, mainly Medicare, will be cut by no less than $400 billion – and perhaps a lot more, to get Republicans to swallow those tax hikes. There will be at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and ‘war savings.’ And any final deal will come not by a group effort but in a private deal between two men: Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. The two men had what one insider described as a short, curt conversation Wednesday night — but the private lines of communications remain very much open.”

REPUBLICANS WILL NEED A WAVE TO TAKE SENATE IN 2014 

Larry Sabato notes that in 2010 Republicans “probably threw away three seats when they nominated weak candidates in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada. Then, in the just-concluded election, they threw away, at a minimum, two more seats in Indiana and Missouri… So instead of having a tied Senate, or a tiny majority for one side or the other, Republicans are in the unenviable position of needing to levitate out of a deep hole they’ve dug for themselves.”

Despite a favorable Senate map in 2014 — Republicans only have to defend 13 seat while Democrats have to defend 20 — he concludes Republicans “will need a national wave, along the lines of what they had in November 2010… For a net six close races to tip to the GOP in two years, it will take more than good candidates and favorable geography; the atmospherics of 2014 will have to be clearly Republican.”

***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.***

LEMIEUX SAYS OUTCOME WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT HAD HE FACED NELSON

“Of course I do,” says LeMieux in an interview with Sunshinte State News.  “Anybody who ran for office and tells you differently shouldn’t have run. I think the race would have been a lot closer; I believe I was the best person to face Sen. Nelson. It would have presented a really good comparison, I believe.”

“But that’s not the way it worked out, and it’s no use crying over spilled milk. We need to go forward, and hopefully now our lead in both parties will come together and work on these tremendous challenges that our country is facing.”

TWO FLORIDA CONGRESSMEN SAY THEY DIDN’T SIGN NORQUIST’S PLEDGE

Perched above Washington’s so-called fiscal cliff, several senior Republican lawmakers appear to be back-pedaling from anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and his renowned pledge.

But for two new members of Florida’s congressional delegation, signing or avoiding the pledge does not seem to be that big a deal.

Newly elected Ted Yoho is one of only 16 House Republicans who did not join Norquist’s ranks. And the list should have a 17th GOP name: U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent.

He is included as a signer, but said he did not re-sign for his new term.

Nugent says he is as staunchly against new or higher taxes today as he was when he first got elected — even if he didn’t ink Norquist’s pledge this time around.

“I signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge as a candidate to let people know where I stood on tax increases,” the Brooksville Republican said in a statement to the Ocala Star-Banner.

>>>Rep. Chris Gibson of New York came up with what might be the most creative excuse yet for breaking his pledge not to raise taxes, Politicker reports. Gibson says “his district number changed from 19 to 20 during this year’s redistricting process and he reasoned that the pledge no longer applies to him as it was only to the constituents under the previous district number.”

NAT’L DEMOCRATS NAME BILL YOUNG AS ONE OF FOUR MOST VULNERABLE TARGETS IN 2014

Barely three weeks after winning yet another election by a double digit margin, Pinellas Congressman Bill Young finds himself in the crosshairs of national Democrats eager to take back the US House in 2014.

Party leaders say they are focusing on around 50 Republican seats in 2014 — particularly those in areas where Obama performed strongly in his two elections. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel identified the four targets he considers most vulnerable, including Young and Illinois Rep.-elect Rodney Davis, Ohio Rep.-elect David Joyce, and California Rep. Gary Miller.

Democrats held their first recruiting meeting at national party headquarters on Wednesday.

DEMOCRATS WIN FINAL OUTSTANDING HOUSE RACE OF 2012

Democrat Mike McIntyre finally won his congressional race, “earning a razor-thin victory over his Republican challenger after a machine recount produced hardly any change in the margin,” the AP reports.

The 113th Congress will be represented by 201 Democrats and 234 Republicans. Democrats entered the 2012 elections holding 190 House seats — but due to vacancies in three Democrat-held seats, they gained eight seats overall.

***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.***

FLA. GOP STILL OBSESSING OVER CHARLIE CRIST via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

The Republican Party of Florida seems to be mighty worried about the prospect of Charlie Crist running as a Democrat against Rick Scott, based on the amount of effort they spend airing TV ads and firing off press releases about the ex-governor. The latest missive, the second this week, comes in response to Crist and former GOP Chairman Jim Greer both suggested the party tightened voting restrictions to suppress Democratic votes.

TWEET, TWEET: @brianjburgess A photo essay in response to @adamsmithtimes saying @FLGOP is obsessed with Charlie Crist:

TWEET OF THE DAY: @DavidABergstein: [email protected] “just writing weird fan fiction about Charlie Crist now”

FLASHBACK: “The only people who are paying attention right now are the most hardcore of partisans,” said Steve Schale. “And if you’re a Democrat and you’re not sure you can get your arms around Charlie Crist as a Democrat, the fact that Republicans are attacking him makes you go, ‘Well, maybe he’s not that bad of a guy.'”

BOARD OF ED. VICE CHAIR: RECONSIDER RICK SCOTT’S $10K DEGREE PLAN via the News Service of Florida

Rick Scott’s effort to get colleges to offer $10,000 bachelor’s degrees “is not a serious policy” and will be “perceived as a gimmick,” the vice president of the state Board of Education wrote in a letter to Scott. “Respectfully, I think that you have been provided with very poor advice on this portion of you plan,” Roberto Martinez wrote to Scott, asking him to work with the board on an alternative idea for making college more affordable – and to consider providing more state help.

“…With the deep budget cuts over the last five years, it is difficult to conceive cutting the cost of instruction even further while maintaining a quality education,” Martinez wrote. “The cost of a Bachelor’s Degree at many of our colleges cost the students on average approximately $12,000. Reducing this further, to create a cheap four-year degree, will undermine the quality and value of the education, hurting our students’ chances to compete successfully in our 21st Century economy.”

NEARLY 200 TO JOIN SCOTT ON COLOMBIA TRADE TRIP

More than 190 people, representing 116 Florida companies, organizations and colleges, will join Gov. Rick Scott next week on a trade mission to Colombia, the governor’s office announced Thursday. The three-day trip, which was announced in October and has been organized by Enterprise Florida, will start Sunday. Colombia is Florida’s second-largest trading partner, according to the governor’s office.

SCOTT’S OPEN TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE FRUSTRATES OPEN GOVERNMENT ADVOCATES via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Bad news and controversy are routine in the vast state government under Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s control. But don’t look for clues in Project Sunburst, Scott’s program for email transparency.

That’s because Scott doesn’t use email as a primary form of communication, and neither does his top aide, chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth.

Workers at state agencies also are wary of using email to alert Scott’s inner circle (and consequently the media) to impending trouble.

“It’s been a disappointment to say the least,” said Barbara Petersen of the First Amendment Foundation, who had high hopes because the search for email from Scott’s office had been costly and time-consuming.

“The manipulation of content and lack of substantive communications — there’s simply not much there of any real value to the public,” Petersen said.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: Great news for @FLGovScott, he’s no longer the least popular governor in country; Ill’s Pat Quinn takes title with 25% approval.

TOO LATE FOR FLORIDA TO RUN FOR OBAMACARE EXCHANGES? via the News Service of Florida

Describing the state as not even at “square one,” groups backing the Affordable Care Act said Thursday that the federal government should at least initially run a health insurance exchange that is expected to play a key role in helping Floridians get coverage, reports the News Service of Florida.

The federal health law requires exchanges — a type of online insurance marketplace — to operate in each state as of January 2014. But with Florida Republican leaders largely refusing to carry out the Affordable Care Act during the past two years, the groups Thursday said it is too late for the state to be able to run an exchange or form a partnership with the federal government by January 2014.

“Realistically, looking at where other states are and what needs to happen, that’s just not feasible,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of Florida CHAIN, one of the groups involved in the effort.

TIMES EDITORIAL: BONDI AND GELWAY, A FAILURE TO LEAD

“Pam Bondi should decide whether she wants to keep being Florida’s attorney general or become a full-time partisan talking head on Fox News.”

… “Barry Gilway did not have a hard act to follow when he took over as CEO of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. six months ago. But after decades in the private insurance industry, he wasn’t prepared for the public scrutiny or accountability that comes with running a government-created operation that is the state’s largest insurer.”

ETHICS COMMISSION MEETS TODAY

The Florida Commission on Ethics meets at 8:30 a.m. Friday. The agenda and meeting materials can be found here.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm.  Visit www.bascomllc.com to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

REP. JASON ALTMIRE HEADED TO FLORIDA BLUE AS VP OF PUBLIC POLICY & GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS

Altmire, a three-term congressman, has been looking for a job since losing the primary to fellow Democrat, Rep. Mark Critz, when their two districts were reshaped into one by a GOP redistricting map.

Altmire was a health care lobbyist for UPMC before his election to Congress in 2006. He is also a graduate of Florida State University and served on the staff of former Florida Rep. Pete Peterson.

FORMER SOUTH BAY MAYOR CLARENCE ANTHONY TAPPED EXEC. DIRECTOR AS NAT’L LEAGUE OF CITIES via Clarence Anthony

Clarence Anthony, who served as mayor of South Bay, Fla., for 24 years, has been named executive director of the National League of Cities – a top advocacy group for the interests of U.S. municipalities. Anthony is no stranger to the organization, having been its president during the late 1990s. He most recently worked as the interim manager of United Cities and Local Governments and runs his own consulting firm, Anthony Government Solutions. Anthony replaces Donald J. Borut , who served as the organization’s executive director for 22 years.

LIBERTY PARTNERS PROMOTES MELANIE SHANKS 

Liberty Partners of Tallahassee announced the promotion of Melanie Shanks Bostick who will join the senior leadership team as vice president. 

Formerly the director of government relations, Bostick will continue to focus on public policy issues related to insurance; condominium and homeowners associations; energy and utilities; and tax and elections, but will now also oversee client relations, client development and the coordination of all client political fundraising and campaign activities.

BILL WILLIAMS JOINS SCG CONSULTING

SCG Corporate and Governmental Affairs announced that Bill Williams, a former Gulf County Commissioner and leading expert on the RESTORE Act, has joined the firm.   Williams will be based in the firm’s Tallahassee office, but will serve clients along the Gulf Coast.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Jorge Chamizo, Robert Reeves, Scott Ross,  Floridian Partners: ADT, LLC

Jorge Chamizo, Floridian Partners: Florida MHS, Inc.

Jonathan Kilman, Jon Yapo, Foley & Lardner: Florida Alimony Reform

***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.***

DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CAUCUS TRAINING SET FOR SATURDAY

in preparation for legislative committee meetings and the 2013 session, members of the Florida House Democratic Caucus are scheduled to participate in a training event on Saturday, December 1. The event will include sessions on various technical aspects of lawmaking, such as bill drafting procedures, a discussion of House rules and procedures, and conversations about legislative and leadership qualities.

The 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday event will be held at the Keiser University campus, 1500 Northwest 49th Street, Fort Lauderdale.

NEW TO THE TWITTERS: @SenatorJohnLegg

SEN. WILTON SIMPSON OPENING HIS DISTRICT OFFICE, CONDUCTING FOOD DRIVE THIS SATURDAY

“The New Port Richey office is located at 5612 Grand Boulevard,” said Senator Simpson. “We’re hosting an open house on Saturday, December 1, from 10am – 1pm. 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 [email protected], or by calling 850.487.5018.

Attendees are asked to bring canned goods that will be donated to the Salvation Army Center of Hope.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Florida’s best Supervisor of Elections, Seminole County’s Mike Ertel. Celebrating this weekend are Sarah Criser, Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael Van Sicker and Mitch Wertheimer.

SAILFISH ANGLERS TO CAST THEIR LINE AT 17TH ANNUAL AT&T JEB BUSH FLORIDA CLASSIC

This year’s annual  AT&T JEB BUSH Florida Classic sailfish tournament takes place today and Saturday at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. This exciting event features three days of fun-filled sporting and social events that attract prominent businesses, charitable benefactors, and sports enthusiasts from around South Florida and across the country.  Festivities kicked off yesterday with the annual Angler Welcome Party and Captains Meeting followed by a two day sailfish fishing tournament which starts today.

Since its inception 17 years ago, the AT&T JEB BUSH Florida Classic has netted more than $5.6 million, helping to fund the Foundation’s cutting-edge research and top-quality care and leading to the development of new drug therapies and an increase in median life expectancy for CF patients.  For more information visit here or contact Stan Smith (954) 762-7000.

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.