Sunburn for 12/24 — 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.

Not a creature is stirring, not the Senate nor House, notes the News Service of Florida. Seriously, there’s just about nothing going on in official Tallahassee this week. While Tuesday is Christmas, for all intents and purposes Monday is basically a holiday as well. And the week between Christmas and New Year’s is always slow anyway.

One way to enjoy the holidays is by viewing Kevin Cate’s annual Christmas video starring Bay News 9’s Troy Kinsey as Charlie Crist-mas and the former governor himself. For every view, $1 goes to St. Petersburg’s CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), so be sure to watch.

It won’t be quiet in Washington immediately after Christmas. Lawmakers and the White House will have to get right back to fiscal cliff talks the day after the holiday. Lawmakers in Tallahassee obviously will be watching closely, knowing that if talks break down, the budget picture in the state is likely to take a serious downturn.

About $600 billion in cuts and tax hikes hangs in the balance nationwide. A series of tax breaks are set to expire on Dec. 31 meaning that beginning Jan. 1 rates increase for a projected total of $514 billion in new revenue, according to the non-partisan business-backed Tax Foundation. Adding to that fiscal situation is $109 billion of federal spending that will be sequestered for paying down the federal debt, a mandate of failed debt-ceiling negotiations in 2011 that was intended to be so arduous it would motivate Congress to come to an agreement. President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have been negotiating, and Boehner suffered a defeat on Thursday as he attempted to steer a proposal he called Plan B, which would preserve tax cuts for incomes under $1 million, through the House. The proposal never made it out of Republican caucus.

HOW THE FISCAL CLIFF TALKS STALLED via The Wall Street Journal 

“Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.”

At one point, Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”

Replied Obama: “You get nothing. I get that for free.”

WHY OBAMA ISN’T CAVING

President Obama’s “stiffening resolve during the fight over the fiscal cliff can be traced directly to the lessons he drew from his hard-won triumph of the 2012 campaign,” Politico reports.

“He whipped Republicans a second time, parried the best attacks they could muster, and is now demanding that they respect the victory, if not the man who won it. That doesn’t mean Obama won’t eventually compromise, especially with the specter of a renewed recession lingering just over the horizon, but his body language is a lot more combative than the kinder, gentler Obama negotiating style of yore.”

Key point: “After his 2008 win, he talked a lot about bipartisanship. This time he’s determined to squeeze it out of Republicans. He believes he owes that to the people who voted for him.”

***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.”***

ANOTHER NATIONAL POLL SHOWS RUBIO TOP CHOICE FOR GOP IN 2016

Harper Polling takes an early look at 2016 GOP presidential contenders and finds Republican primary voters back Marco Rubio with 34%, followed by Chris Christie at 18%, Condi Rice at 14%, Rand Paul at 8%, Allen West at 5% and Scott Brown at 3%.

Most interesting is that the Tea Party is the foundation of Rubio’s support with 43% who identify as tea partiers backing the Florida senator.

INSIDERS BELIEVE JEB STRONGER CHOICE THAN RUBIO via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

More than 100 of Florida’s most plugged in political players – campaign operatives, fundraisers, lobbyists, and the like – participated in Smith’s latest survey — and some of the results are surprising:

  • 62 percent expect Bush will run in 2016.
  • 55 percent doubt Marco Rubio will run in 2016.
  • As to who would be the stronger candidate, it wasn’t even close: 81 percent said Bush would be stronger.

“Rubio will make 2016 noises and preparations to increase his profile and lay the stage for himself in case Jeb doesn’t run. But if Jeb, does decide to run, he will step aside, the same way he has said would have done had Jeb wanted to run for Senate in 2010. Jeb Bush is heads and shoulders above Rubio, literally,” said one Republican.

FUN READ: MARCO RUBIO, DOLPHINS FAN by the New York Times

The New York Times spent a day watching a Dolphins game — a loss — with Rubio. Among the nuggets of information: Rubio hates the New York Jets. Oh well, New York and New Jersey probably would vote for a Democratic presidential candidate, anyway.

***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 6, 2013, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss  growing areas of the state’s $8 billion space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***

APPOINTED: Daniel E. Nordby, Nilda R. Pedrosa, and Israel U. Reyes to the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission.

DEO LOSES COMMUNICATIONS OFFICERS via the Florida Current

Carolyn Gosselin, the communications director at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, resigned last week. She was brought into the DEO by Hunting Deutsch, who resigned as the DEO’s executive director this month. Gosselin came on board in mid-June to replace Nancy Blum-Heintz, who left for Enterprise Florida. She started a communications firm, Gosselin Inc., in 2010, and was senior vice president and chief communications officer for CNL Financial Group Inc., a real estate investment company in Orlando. She also has 10 years of experience in marketing and public relations at SunTrust Bank.

Ben Wolf, a DEO communications officer, also has left the agency. He will be a spokesman for the Department of Management Services. In the past, Wolf was a legislative analyst for the Florida House of Representatives, a deputy press secretary at the Florida Department of Education, and a communications specialist at Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

PERSONNEL NOTE: Michael Sevi has been named Director of Cabinet Affairs in the governor’s office. He previously was assistant general counsel to Gov. Scott after working in private practice in the Tampa office of DLA Piper and in the Washington D.C. office of Hogan Lovells. H/t to the Florida Current.

***Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched “Fighting Hunger Together” a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help fight hunger in America.  The initiative leverages Walmart’s size and resources to provide nutritious food and the Walmart Foundation’s ability to grant funding to nonprofits that help elevate the issue.  Join Walmart in the fight against hunger by visiting here, Twitter or Facebook, and by asking others to do the same, today.***

FASANO CALLS FOR COP IN EVERY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Rep. Fasano called on Gov. Rick Scott and fellow lawmakers to place an armed school resource officer in every Florida elementary school as a way to prevent a repeat of the tragic mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. Echoing a proposal floated Friday morning by the National Rifle Association, Fasano said the mere presence of an armed law enforcement officer may be enough to prevent a repeat of the recent shooting at the Connecticut elementary school that claimed the lives of 20 children. “

While this no doubt will be an expensive proposition, no price-tag can be placed on the lives of the precious children our public schools are entrusted with each and every day of the school year,” Fasano wrote.

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR REP. DENNIS BAXLEY here, including:

Q: Will prison privatization be part of your agenda?

BAXLEY: Privatization’s a tool. It can work well or it can be problematic, depending on if you have the right tool for the right job. I have no doubt that in a number of arenas it’ll continue to be a discussion about when and how to use that privatization tool.

So, no, I don’t think that discussion’s over. There’s some things that happened with it that are beneficial. I think just getting a review of all your personnel, getting them all drug tested, is a major feat. And anywhere we can achieve some efficiencies for the taxpayer good. The greatest efficiency would be to reduce recidivism. 

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Derek Bruce, Edge Public Affairs: SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment

Jack Cory, Keyna Cory, Public Affairs Consultants: SmartWater CSI

Michael Harrell, Foley & Lardner: National Center for Sports Safety

Paul Hawkes, Patients for Fair Compensation, Inc

Jonathan Kilman, Foley & Lardner: G4S Youth Services LLC

Marc Reichelderfer: DIRECTV, Inc & Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association

PERSONNEL NOTE: Brian McManus has been hired by the Senate Majority Office as a legislative analyst.

SPOTTED: At Rep. Jamie Grant’s holiday open house were Jen Lux, Rep. Ross Spano, and, fresh from her year on the road with the Romney campaign, Mallory Mullen, who will serve as Grant’s district aide.

***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.***

CREDIT CARDS ARE BACK AS PREFERRED WAY TO BUY HOLIDAY GIFTS

With one in every three consumers failing to save in advance for the holiday season — and more people feeling confident enough this year to buy big- ticket items like homes and new cars — more consumers are finding themselves strapped for cash. To bridge the gap and still be able to fulfill holiday purchases, the largest numbers of consumers since before the Great Recession began are turning to credit cards.

FLORIDIAN OF THE YEAR: Florida Trend’s January issue is in the mail to print subscribers now. On the cover is Jonathan Hage of Charter Schools USA, its choice for Floridian of the Year.

IN FLORIDA, “SEASONAL” MEANS ALL WINTER

Seasonal hiring is taking a holiday of its own in the weeks before Christmas and New Year’s Day, but recruiting is forecast to pick up again in the first weeks of 2013. After Christmas, customer demand won’t drop off as steeply as it does in many Northern markets and many of those holiday jobs will likely last longer.

STATE’S MINIMUM WAGE GOING UP JAN. 1

Florida’s minimum wage is going up by 12 cents per hour to $7.79 on Jan.1 due to an increase in the cost of living. The National Employment Law Project on Wednesday reported 210,000 Floridians will benefit from the increase. It’s expected to add an average of $370 to their annual wages and $46.2 million to the state’s gross domestic product.

SUNSHINE STATE RANKS THIRD IN POPULATION GROWTH

New estimates released by the U.S. Census shows Florida grew by 235,000 residents and trailed only Texas and California in sheer numeric growth.

WORKERS OPTIMISTIC FOR 2013

U.S. workers said they are hopeful for a better year in 2013 when it comes to jobs and the economy, in a recent survey by Randstad, a global staffing firm. According to the survey, 57 percent of employees believe they are likely to receive a raise in 2013, up 10 percent from last year.

***SUNBURN is sponsored 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.***

49% OF AMERICANS BELIEVE OBAMA DOESN’T DESERVE PRESENTS FROM SANTA

Public Policy Polling’s new holiday season poll sees voters in giving moods towards both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – voters believe both men will be receiving presents from Santa this holiday season rather than a lump of coal, with Romney perhaps getting some sympathy presents. Voters say Romney will get presents by a 63/37 margin compared to 51/49 for Obama.  Some other findings:

– 44% of respondents said Santa was a Democrat while 28% say he is a Republican.

– 54% of voters said they were concerned that the looming “fiscal cliff” could cause Santa to cut back on his benefits.

– More voters than not (47/40) say there is a “War on Christmas”.

– Only 32% or respondents could correctly identify the number of days in Hanukkah, compared to 18% each who thought 7 days or 12 days.

– A majority of voters (52/45) said they believe in Santa Claus. 80% said they were on Santa’s “Nice” list to just 11% who said they were on his “Naughty” list.

– If voters saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus, 43% would tell Daddy, 40% would not and 17% weren’t sure.

– When asked, “If Grandma got run over by a reindeer, would you press charges against Santa?” 61% would not press charges, to 24% who would. 33% of Democrats would press charges compared to 19% of Republicans.

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.