Sunburn for 12/17 — 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.

It’s the downhill run to Christmas so the agenda is light this week.

One notable exception is Monday’s official vote by Florida’s electors in the presidential election. The state is winner take all, so all 29 electors will cast votes for Democrat Barack Obama for president.

The News Service of Florida has the full agenda here.

BOEHNER PROPOSES MILLIONAIRE TAX HIKE…

House Speaker John Boehner has proposed allowing tax rates to rise for the wealthiest Americans if President Obama agrees to major entitlement cuts, Politico reports.

“It is the first time Boehner has offered any boost in marginal tax rates for any income group, and it would represent a major concession for the Ohio Republican. Boehner suggested hiking the Bush-era tax rates for top wage earners, including those with annual incomes of $1 million or more annually, beginning Jan. 1.”

…ALSO OFFERS TO LIFT DEBT LIMIT FOR ONE YEAR

 Boehner “has offered to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year, a concession that would deprive Republicans of leverage in the budget battle but is breathing new life into stalled talks over the year-end fiscal cliff,” the Washington Post reports.

“Boehner’s offer signals that he expects a big deal with sufficient savings to meet his demand that any debt limit increase be paired dollar-for-dollar with spending cuts. That would permit him to keep a key vow to his party — and head off a potentially nasty debt-limit fight — at least until the end of next year.”

GIVING IT THE OLD ELECTORAL COLLEGE TRY via David Royse

Florida’s 29 Democratic Presidential Electors will convene in Tallahassee on Monday afternoon to cast Florida’s votes for president and vice president of the United States. 2 p.m. in the Florida Senate chambers.

FINAL TALLY SHOWS PRESIDENTIAL RACE WASN’T EVEN CLOSE via the Los Angeles Times

More than five weeks after election day, almost all the presidential votes have been counted. Here’s what the near-final tally reveals: The election really wasn’t close.

In the weeks since the election, as states have completed their counts, Obama’s margin has grown steadily. From just over 2 percentage points, it now stands at nearly 4. Rather than worry about the Bush-Kerry precedent, White House aides now brag that Obama seems all but certain to achieve a mark hit by only five others in U.S. history – winning the presidency twice with 51% or more of the popular vote.

RUBIO, TOO TRAINED IN MEDIA via Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal

“I find both Mr. Ryan’s and Mr. Rubio’s media expertise mildly harrowing–look at the prompter here, shake your head here, lower your voice there, raise it here, pick up your pace in this section. An entire generation of politicians in both parties has been too trained in media, and to their detriment. They are very smooth but it doesn’t make them seem more convincing, it makes them seem phonier. My old boss [Mr. Reagan] had actually been an actor, but he didn’t seem like a phony. He talked like a normal person at a podium, with a nice voice, and occasionally stumbling. It’s not bad to be human when you’re trying to appeal to humans.”

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DURING RADIO APPEARANCE, SCOTT CONTRASTS RECORD WITH CRIST’S

Amid speculation that newly registered Democrat Charlie Crist will seek a return to the governor’s mansion in 2014, Republican Gov. Rick Scott said the state lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and saw its debt soar during the Crist administration.

Scott, who appeared on WFOR-TV in Miami, said he will “run on my record” and said he had created jobs and reduced the state debt after taking over from Crist. “In my first two years, we’ve turned the corner,” Scott said.

CAN CRIST AS A DEMOCRAT STILL TURN ON THE FUNDRAISING CHARM via Aaron DeSlatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Charlie Crist 2.0 must answer a serious question before he becomes a serious alternative to presumed Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls like former CFO Alex Sink, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer or ex-Broward Sen. Nan Rich.

While he may not want to be “Chain-Gang” Charlie anymore, he still needs to be the old “Cha-Ching” Charlie we remember.

In his 2006 gubernatorial win, Crist raised $60 million though his campaign and the Republican Party of Florida, smashing the prior record haul of Jeb Bush. But he couldn’t duplicate that feat has an independent U.S. Senate candidate in 2010, in part because he didn’t have the highly paid fundraisers with high-powered Rolodexes that membership in either major party affords.

So the real elephant here isn’t Crist’s past. It’s his ability to raise cash.

HARIDOPOLOS HOSTING FUNDRAISER FOR SCOTT ON JAN. 8

Former Senate President Mike Haridopolos and his wife, Stephanie, joined by Volusia developer Mori Housseini and his wife, Forough, are hosting a $2,500-a-plate lunch for Scott’s Let’s Get To Work committee on Jan. 8 at the Orlando Airport Marriott. Invite here.

PERRY THURSTON MAY CHALLENGE PAM BONDI FOR AG via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

State House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston confirmed today that he is considering challenging Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Thurston wouldn’t reveal much except to say that other Dems have encouraged him to run and that he thinks if his party has a strong candidate running against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, that will increase the chance he will run. Thurston wouldn’t reveal his favorite picks for governor.

Thurston could be a longshot against an incumbent because he isn’t well-known among voters statewide and liberal Broward isn’t the typical territory for churning out successful statewide candidates.

ANNETTE TADDEO NOW BACKING ALLISON TANT FOR FDP CHAIR

The three way race to be the next chair of the Florida Democratic Party just became a two horse race.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Annette Taddeo signaled her support for Leon County’s Allison Tant.

“In discussions with Allison Tant it is clear that she would make a phenomenal Florida Democratic Party chair and unite our party because of her passion for Democratic values that we all share.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Alt hed: How Sen. Bill Nelson and Debbie Wasserman Schultz needlessly caused drama in their own party

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APPOINTED: Alan S. Fine and Fleur Lobree to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.

APPOINTED:  Howard M. Maltz  as judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court.

APPOINTED: Elizabeth A. Scherer to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court.

CREWS TO BE NAMED NEW DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS CHIEF by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott on Monday will announce a new secretary for the Department of Corrections: Mike Crews, who is currently the agency’s No. 2 official, holding the title of deputy secretary.

Scott’s communications director, Melissa Sellers, confirmed the decision Sunday amid widespread speculation that Crews was Scott’s choice.

FORECASTERS: STATE BUDGET UP, BUT DANGERS STILL LIE AHEAD via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

State forecasters added nearly $400 million to estimated tax revenues over the next year and a half — but warned that dangers like the “fiscal cliff” could still damage a fragile economic recovery powering the gains.

Overall, the money added to the forecasts Friday does not substantially change the picture Gov. Rick Scott faces as he sits down to craft a budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Of the $391.7 million that forecasters added, $236 million comes in the current spending year. Forecasters added $155.7 million to 2013-14.

Those numbers are a relatively small share of the nearly $28.3 billion in general revenue that Scott will have at his disposal. More than $2.5 billion of that is one-time money, including the $236 million in the current budget year, which will roll forward.

Still, the numbers bring the state’s projected budget surplus to almost $829 million. Lawmakers have been cautious about the surplus estimate, in part because of a mix of federal budget cuts and tax increases set to kick in Jan. 1 if President Barack Obama and Congress can’t strike an agreement to avoid going over the so-called fiscal cliff.

MICA, BROWN AT ODDS OVER AMTRACK via The Hill

As Congressman John Mica gets ready to step down as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he is taking flak from Democrats about his support for privatizing Amtrak service.

Among his critics? Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who said Mica has an “unhealthy obsession” with privatizing Amtrak in the northeastern United States.

ONLINE EDUCATION EXPANSION EYED

The Florida Board of Governors’ Strategic Planning Committee will hold a workshop to discuss expansion of online education. The agenda includes hearing a report from a consulting firm and holding a panel discussion with representatives of public and private universities and colleges and the president of the Florida Council of 100 business group.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ANDREW GRAYSON MOVES TO FWC via the Florida Current

Grayson has moved from the Governor’s Office, where he was policy coordinator for the environmental policy unit, to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As senior advisor to the commission beginning Dec. 3, his responsibilities now include contract and procurement coordinator and liasison to military bases.

FORMER SARASOTA GOP CHAIR CHARGED WITH STEALING RIVAL’S IDENTIFY, MAKING POLITICAL DONATIONS by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The most powerful political player in Sarasota County politics and the former chairman of the county Republican Party has been charged with a felony after authorities say he stole the identity of a political rival and made campaign donations in her name to a Democratic candidate for Congress to embarrass her.

Former GOP chairman Bob Waechter, a public official on the Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority, was charged by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office with the criminal use of a stolen identity for allegedly buying a prepaid debit card to make a campaign donation in the name of Lourdes Ramirez, a Siesta Key Republican.

The Sheriff’s Office said that Waechter made the $200 donation in Ramirez’s name to Sarasota Democrat Keith Fitzgerald’s campaign. Fitzgerald was running against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. Waechter also made a $35 donation in Ramirez’s name to Sarasota Democrat Liz Alpert, who ran against State Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, in November.

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WEATHERFORD WARNS GOP LAWMAKERS TO COOL IT AFTER ROWDINESS AT DISNEY RESORT via Lucy Morgan of the Tampa Bay Times

House Speaker Will Weatherford has apologized for the behavior of some lawmakers at a retreat last month when several Republican members who had been drinking became unruly at a Disney World hotel.

Weatherford said he’s still trying to learn what happened, but was concerned enough about reports of rowdiness that he apologized to members the next day and warned he could not condone “unruly behavior.”

The outing began the Tuesday night after Thanksgiving at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the priciest hotel at the theme park with rooms that fetch up to $700 a night. Paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, it was part of a traditional retreat to salute new leaders of the House after an election.

“I believe each member has the personal responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner that honors their community and the House of Representatives,” Weatherford said in a statement. “There are special considerations when dealing with matters that are part of private conduct. When I was made aware of situations that reflected upon the House, I dealt with the matters swiftly according to the verified facts.”

But efforts to determine what happened and who was involved have been hampered by contradictory statements and fading memories.

GREG EVERS, NANCY DETERT AMONG THOSE FILING FOR RE-ELECTION THIS WEEK

Four incumbent senators and five House members filed papers during the past week as a first step toward running for re-election in 2014, according to the state Division of Elections website.

The senators were Greg Evers in District 2; Aaron Bean in District 4; Darren Soto in District 14; and Nancy Detert in District 28.

The incumbent House members preparing for re-election runs were Mike Clelland in District 29; Dan Raulerson in District 58; Mark Danish in District 63; Ray Pilon in District 72; and Manny Diaz, Jr. in District 103.

Also, two non-incumbents filed papers for House races. They were no-party candidate Ronald Gillis, of Murdock, in District 75; and Miami Republican Ambry Bodin in District 114.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ELLEN ANDERSON TO FLORIDA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION

Ellen Anderson, most recently chief of staff to Sen. Nan Rich, is the new director of state advocacy for the Florida Hospital Association. Anderson is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, and is pursuing a master’s in Public Health/Health Administration at the University of South Florida. Anderson was Rich’s chief of staff while Rich was minority leader in the Senate.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Ron Book: V Schoolz, Inc.

Miguel Machado: Florida Medical Association

James McFaddin, Jonathan Setzer: Southern Strategies Group: Zimek Technologies

Justin Pearson: Institute for Justice

Trey Traviesa, Strategos Public Affair: MGT of America

Jon Yapo, Foley & Lardner: Palm Beach County

***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.”***

TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: @TheRickWilson: Two bushels of raw oysters. Enough bourbon to meaningfully impact TN’s economy. But most of all, a lot of great friends to share the season.

 WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Thaddeus Duffy DeSisto. Mom Courtney and Dad Tony are doing fine and excited for their third child.

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.