Sunburn for 12/14 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

DEMS DECLARE CHECKMATE 

National Journal: “In the ongoing fiscal cliff chess match playing out on Capitol Hill, Democrats have a message for Republicans: checkmate.”

Democrats look at the political landscape and see a win whether a deal gets cut now or after the country goes over the cliff. Worst-case scenario, they say, the House will approve legislation the Senate passed in July extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone but the rich, an idea that Republican House Speaker John Boehner has flatly rejected.

If Boehner refuses to pass the Senate bill before the end of the year, Democrats say their hand only gets stronger in the new year when the Senate will have 55 Democrats and at least five Republicans who have signaled they could vote to extend the middle-class tax cuts.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “January 1st is not the end of the fight. It’s the beginning of the fight.” — Grover Norquist, quoted by Politico, apparently resigned to federal taxes going up.

DEMOCRATS HAVE PUBLIC OPINION ON THEIR SIDE ON FISCAL CLIFF DEBATE

A new Pew Research poll finds that when it comes to the reaching an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, 55% say President Obama is making a serious effort to work with Republicans. But just 32% say Republican leaders are making a serious effort to work with Obama on a deficit deal.

Also interesting: Obama’s first post-reelection job approval rating has risen to 55%, up five points since July and 11 points since the start of the year. His job rating is markedly higher than President George W. Bush’s first job measure (48%) after he won reelection in 2004.

In contrast, just 25% approve of the way Republican leaders in Congress are doing their jobs, while 40% approve of Democratic leaders’ job performance.

***Today’s SUNBURN is also 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.”***

CRIST OFFICIALLY A DEMOCRAT

Joined by a gaggle of news media Thursday, Crist filed his political party change paperwork at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office in downtown St. Petersburg.

Afterwards Crist joked with elections workers and then held a short news conference outside.

Crist said he “feels comfortable” as a Democrat but remained mum on whether he would seek his old job and challenge current Governor Rick Scott.

Crist added that there were a few issues he would have handled differently – including his signing of a petition banning same-sex marriage.

PRIVATE POLL: CRIST WITH AS MUCH AS A 25-POINT LEAD OVER ALEX SINK by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

n a coincidence of timing, about half of the poll was done before Crist’s Dec. 7 announcement that he was becoming a Democrat, and half was conducted afterward. The poll showed Crist increasing his lead over Sink from 17 points to 25 after his switch became public at a White House holiday reception. Respondents were likely primary voting Democrats who also identified themselves on the phone as Democrats.

The poll was done for an undisclosed client of ClearView Research from Dec. 4-9, and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. ClearView, a market research firm, is run in part by Screven Watson, a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party and a Tallahassee political operative who said he has no connection to Crist.

“This was not done to promote or demote anybody,” Watson said. “A client had a curiosity. We do not have a dog in this fight.”

According to the poll, 79 percent of Democrats have a somewhat or very favorable view of Crist compared to 58 percent for Sink. Crist, a former Republican governor who ran as an independent Senate candidate in 2010, completed his conversion to the Democratic Party Thursday.

The poll tested six other names, all of whom were in the low single digits: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, former Sen. Nan Rich, former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith and former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

AS POLL HAS CRIST UP WITH DEMS, STATE GOP HIGHLIGHTS ANOTHER FLIP-FLOP by Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

Shortly after the Tampa Bay Times posted the comments, the state GOP blasted a news release with links to stories and television appearances where Crist opposed legalizing gay marriage.

“Once again, Charlie Crist is showing he has two faces on any issue. When Charlie Crist wanted Republican (and Independent!) support, he took a strong, pro-family stance against legalizing gay marriage. But today, he flipped yet again,” read the release.

It was the latest in RPOF’s series of “Two Faces of Charlie Crist” emails.

REP.-ELECT LOIS FRANKEL HIRES CHIEF OF STAFF

A couple of familiar faces will be working for Lois Frankel when she is sworn in as a member of Congress Jan. 3 to represent Broward/Palm Beach District 22. Frankel has hired Jonathon Bray, her campaign manager, as chief of staff. She has also hired Sarah Rothschild as communications director. Rothschild, a former Miami Herald sports reporter, now works for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and was a spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Ron Klein who held the District 22 seat until he was ousted by Allen West in 2010.

***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.***

FASANO, CORCORAN & LEGG’S FARM SHARE HOLIDAY FOOD GIVEAWAY TODAY

State Representatives Mike Fasano, Richard Corcoran and Senator John Legg announced today that the annual Farm Share Holiday Food Giveaway will be held today from 10:00 a.m. to Noon.  The giveaway, which includes fresh food donated by Florida’s farmers, will be held at Redeemer Community Church located at 9230 Ridge Road in New Port Richey.  All needy families are welcome.

“We are once again blessed to work with farmers throughout Florida to provide food at this special time of the year,” Representative Fasano states.  “When so many Floridians are hurting it is wonderful to see our community come together to serve others.”

Every year over 500 plus families are provided with food and other items they need to have a complete holiday dinner.  In addition to food from Farm Share, donations from Publix, AT&T and other individuals and organizations make the event possible.

For more information about the giveaway please contact the office of Representative Fasano at (727) 848-5885.

JIMMY PATRONIS TO SEEK SENATE SEAT by Matthew Beaton of the News Herald

Patronis said filing this early in the game lends legitimacy when he starts meeting with constituents and pursuing the job. He said the district is newly redrawn and includes counties he has not represented.

“… my intentions were to file the paperwork and start to learn what Senate District 1 is all about,” he said.

Speculation has swirled that Patronis would pursue U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland’s seat, if the congressman retires after this term. But Patronis said he has no interest in the seat.

Asked if he would leave the door open on running for Congress if the job came available in two years, Patronis said, “No, I’m a Northwest Florida boy and my family’s been here going on six generations. The desire to go to Washington D.C. is just not in my blood.”

SEN. WILTON SIMPSON TO OPEN DISTRICT OFFICE IN BROOKSVILLE

Senator Wilton Simpson is pleased to announce the upcoming opening of his Brooksville office. “The Brooksville office will be located at 10 West Jefferson Street,” said Senator Simpson. “We’re hosting an open house on Tuesday, January 8, and I welcome constituents to drop in and meet myself and my staff.”

Details regarding the open house will be provided at a later date.

Patty Harrison, longtime aide of former Senator JD Alexander, will be serving as the Chief Legislative Aide in Brooksville. “I am thrilled that Patty will be joining my legislative staff,” said Senator Simpson. “She has over four decades of state government experience and will be a tremendous asset to the constituents in my district.”

Senator Simpson’s other staff includes Judy Parker, serving as District Office Manager in the New Port Richey Office. Judy has been active in the Pasco County community for decades. Patrick Weightman is serving as Senator Simpson’s traveling Legislative Assistant. Patrick will be in Tallahassee for committee weeks and the legislative session. Rachel Perrin Rogers is serving as Senator Simpson’s Chief Aide in Tallahassee, handling legislative requests and public relations.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Chris Hansen, GrayRobinson: Atlantic Housing Partners, LLLP

Jim Horne: Wireless Generation, Inc

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communication. 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 ***

GR ESTIMATING CONFERENCE TODAY

The Revenue Estimating Conference will update projections for state general revenue, a crucial part of funding the state budget.

MORE ON TONY BENNETT

Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano sees the same old agenda. The Tampa Bay Times editorial board says the BOE pick shows it “values conservative ideology over proven performance.” More from Tampa Bay TimesFlorida Times-UnionPalm Beach PostNews Service of Florida, and the Sunshine State News.

NEW YORKERS FLOCKING TO FLORIDA — AND GOV. SCOTT IS PLEASED by John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Gov. Scott praised new U.S. Census findings that listed Florida as the nation’s top spot for state-to-state migration — powered by a surge of New Yorkers flocking to the Sunshine State.

… The latest U.S. Census survey showed the nation’s top 10 destination moves — with the New York to Florida link and Georgia to Florida transition (a net 38,658-person gain) making the list. Florida also had more people move here from Puerto Rico than any other state (almost 15,000 more).

PERSONNEL NOTE: CLAUDE MUELLER JOINS COLODNY, FASS

Claude Mueller, who formerly served the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation as Director of Property and Casualty Financial Oversight, joined the law and governmental consulting firm of Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate & Webb in December 2012.

“With over two decades of experience, Claude will bring substantial depth and strength to our Florida and national insurance regulatory team,” said firm managing partner Mike Colodny.

Mueller, a non-attorney, has devoted his entire career to the insurance industry, specializes in regulatory compliance, statutory insurance accounting, insurance company operations and related legislative advocacy.

RON SACHS, FLA. ELECTED OFFICIALS, HELP SOLVE MYSTERY OF HOLIDAY FRUITCAKE

One of the most often asked questions during the holidays is: “What do you do with a fruitcake?” When Ron Sachs, president and CEO of Ron Sachs Communications, received a fruitcake this year the answer was simple. In the season of giving he chose to give the fruitcake to someone else.

Quick to express his “gratitude” to the gift-giver but even quicker to find somewhere to unload the unwanted “delicacy,” Sachs decided to spread the holiday cheer and re-gift the cake to Governor Rick Scott. Unbeknownst to Sachs, this simple act initiated a chain reaction of re-gifting that carried the fruitcake around the Capitol and downtown Tallahassee.
As the fruitcake passed through the hands of some of Florida’s most influential movers and shakers, not once was it welcomed with open arms or open mouths. The rebuffed baked good quickly made the unhappy rounds of Florida Cabinet members, legislative and private-sector leaders, political party poobahs, even media members. The fruitcake’s final destination proves that sometimes things are just meant to be.
Watch the fruitcake’s full journey on YouTube.
TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS AGENCY ACTIONS, LEGISLATION TO PROTECT FLORIDA’S MILITARY BASESby Bruce Ritchie of the Florida Current

The Florida Defense Support Task Force is suggesting that agencies develop plans to improve roads leading to military installations and prevent nearby development that may interfere with military operations. The task force also wants state officials to develop an energy plan to encourage utilities to make renewable energy available to military installations.

… The task force also requested legislation to prevent privatized military housing from being subject to property taxes.

… “Our bases are in good shape,” Rep. Ritch Workman, task force chairman, said on Wednesday. “I want to make them even better.”

***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.***

CHECK OUT this smart Christmas card from top PR shop, CoreMessage.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Kyra Jennings.

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.