Sunburn for 12/4 — 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 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. www.RonSachs.com ***

HOUSE GOP COUNTER-OFFERS TO AVOID FISCAL CLIFF

House Republicans “made a new deficit proposal to the White House that calls for $800 billion in tax increases, half of what President Obama proposed and an amount Republicans say could be achieved without raising tax rates,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The proposal represents an effort to strike a middle ground after the White House last week infuriated Republicans by making an opening bid in the budget talks largely summarizing the president’s most recent budget proposal.

>>>Matthew Yglesias: “Basically Boehner is looking to put a proposal on the table that’s less far-reaching than the Ryan budget without backing off the House GOP’s support for said budget.”

RUBIO TO DELIVER “MAJOR SPEECH ON MIDDLE CLASS OPPORTUNITY” TODAY

Rubio will deliver a major speech on middle class opportunity in America at the Jack Kemp Foundation Leadership Dinner in Washington, DC. His remarks will focus on the importance of fostering economic empowerment, offering real solutions to maintain and grow America’s vibrant middle class, and the central role education plays in the 21st century knowledge economy.

OBAMA TO SEEK TO KEEP DWS AS DNC CHAIR

A senior Democratic official tells Mike Allen of POLITICO that, “Because of the outstanding job she has done, the President will ask the members of the Democratic National Committee to ratify his choice of [Rep.] Debbie Wasserman Schultz to continue leading the Party as Chair when they meet in January. The DNC will meet [in Washington on Jan. 22], the day after President Obama is sworn in for a second term, with the primary item of business being electing party officers, including the DNC Chair.

Wasserman Schultz has served as Chair since shortly after Tim Kaine stepped down to run for the U.S. Senate in Virginia in the spring of 2011. With President Obama at the top of the ticket and Wasserman Schultz leading the Party, Democrats won the presidency, expanded its majority in the Senate and picked up seats in the House.

Allen notes that in the past 18 months, Wasserman Schultz participated in 885 events in 31 states, 170 cities. Terms are typically four years. But by tradition, the President can make a change at any time.

Also helping DWS’ case is that President Obama won Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida, burnishing her record after a cycle where she participated in 1,000 events and interviews, and helped solidify his hold on the Jewish vote despite a huge Republican effort. Top Dems say taking back the House is a key goal for the party, and she is perfect to lead that effort. Wasserman Schultz, a tireless fundraiser, combines a youthful optimism with a fierce partisanship. “She doesn’t shy away from the tougher fights,” a key adviser said. “It’s helpful to have someone who doesn’t mind going toe to toe. … She’s a leader for women, and the grassroots love her.”

BE SURE TO READ: National Review’s John Fund’s on DWS’s greatest hits, including the timew when she said  “If it were up to the candidates for president on the Republican side, we would be driving foreign cars.” According to Florida motor-vehicle records, the Wasserman Schultz household owns a 2010 Infiniti FX35, a Japanese car.

OBAMA CAMP WAS SKEPTICAL ABOUT WINNING FLA. UNTIL SEPT. via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Even as they spent millions building up a massive ground operation in Florida for much of 2009 and 2010, top Obama advisers remained uncertain about whether to fully commit to the state until two months before the election.

“One of the things we had discussed internally was the state of Florida and how we were going to treat Florida. We had made a decision that we were going to wait until mid-September, after the conventions, and see where we were in Florida before we fully committed. We were in, we had invested a lot in Florida, but we hadn’t been in Miami, for example, the Miami media market,” senior adviser David Axelrod said. “When we emerged from the conventions not only had we gotten a little bump in our numbers but we saw that Florida remained very competitive despite the fact that they had their convention there. And we made decision to go full-out in Florida.”

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina: “The Florida decision was a big decision for us. It was a $40-million decision and decided right after the convention we were going to go and go hard. That was a big moment … They didn’t do enough to fix their Latino problem in their convention – although I thought Rubio gave a great speech. We looked at that and said, ‘We’re going all the way in in Florida,” he said, adding that Paul Ryan’s addition to the ticket and the potential impact on seniors also factored into the decision.

OTHER POST-ELECTION INSIGHTS

From last week’s conference at Harvard:

The Atlantic notes campaign manager Matt Rhoades was “completely blindsided” by the 47% hidden camera video of Mitt Romney speaking at a Florida fundraiser and that chief strategist Stuart Stevens claims he left the room for Romney’s infamous remarks.

BuzzFeed reports that Obama digital director Teddy Goff said that the nearly 34 million Facebook users who “like” Barack Obama on the social networking sites are friends with 98% of the U.S. Facebook population, making it an effective tool to reach out to younger voters.

Huffington Post: Mitt Romney’s campaign manager admitted regret that the Republican challenger took such a hardline stance on immigration during the GOP primary, one of the first clear acknowledgements by the Romney campaign that its candidate hurt himself among Latino voters… Rhoades went on to describe how the Romney campaign may have regarded Perry as a mortal threat for too long, leading it to engage him beyond the point when it was necessary, and setting itself up for a hard-right turn on immigration.

JOHN STEMBERGER’S ELECTION ANALYSIS: MODERATE REPUBLICANS ARE LOSING REPUBLICANS via William March of the Tampa Tribune

“Moderate Republicans are losing Republicans,” Stemberger wrote recently in an email to supporters of Florida Family Policy Council and its political arm, Florida Family Action.

… He said evangelical Protestants and Catholics need to be more engaged in campaigns for Republicans to succeed. Romney “did very little, if anything, to reach out to social conservatives,” and “assumed white evangelicals would just fall in line and choose him over Obama.”

Stemberger also agreed with comments Romney made after the election that recipients of federal welfare benefits turned out to vote for Obama.

“The rapidly expanding welfare class is loyal to the political party who is cutting the checks,” he wrote. “Romney took heat for talking about the 47% in a pejorative way but they are a serious voting force. Rush Limbaugh said it with less finesse when he stated it is ‘Very difficult to beat Santa Claus.’ ”

***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.***

ELECTION OVER? NOT YET FOR FLA. DEMS by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

As they gathered Monday in a caucus room in Tallahassee, Democrats had one thing on their minds: how to maintain ownership of the hottest issue in the state now. That is, protecting the right to vote and holding Republicans accountable for long lines, delayed ballot counts and an expansion of provisional ballots.

The election may be over, but the fight over how the election was managed has only just begun.

“The people are counting on us to drive this debate and win it,” said Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. He’s the House sponsor of a bill to return to 14 days of early voting and to expand early voting sites far beyond what Republicans have allowed.

For more than a decade, as Republicans rolled up bigger and bigger majorities in every election, they have dictated the agenda in Tallahassee.

But Democrats believe they now own the voting issue and that public opinion is firmly on their side.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY – WHY JACK SEILER SHOULD PRETTY PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE NOT RUN FOR GOVERNOR by Terrence McCoy of the New Times

He should not run for governor for any number of reasons – but the most important being that he’d never win. This concerns him little, as he told us recently over the telephone, “My consideration on running is that I’m not too concerned about who else would be in the race.”

ANOTHER CANDIDATE FOR FLA. DEM. CHAIR EMERGES via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

We’re hearing plenty of enthusiastic buzz  about a likely third candidate to lead the Florida Democratic Party after Rod Smith steps down next month: Allison Tant of Tallahassee, a top fundraiser for Barack Obama and other Democrats.

Tant has to get elected chair or state committeewoman of her local party to be eligible, but she has some high profile Democratic fans.

“Sen. Nelson thinks very highly of Allison,” said a spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson. “The energy and commitment she’s brought to everything she does indicates she would make an excellent chairwoman. Sen. Nelson thinks very highly of Allison.  The energy and commitment she’s brought to everything she does indicates she would make an excellent chairwoman.”

LATVALA FILES FOR RE-ELECTION; IS THIS HIS LAST TIME ON THE BALLOT? WILL IT BE CHRIS LATVALA’S FIRST?

Senator Jack Latvala filed paperwork last week that is a first step toward seeking re-election in 2014, according to the state Division of Elections website.

Latvala easily won the redrawn Senate District 20 seat during this fall’s elections, but because of term limits, he cannot run again in 2018.

This begs the question, will 2014 be Jack Latvala’s last time on the ballot? Or will the distinguished Senator whose career is now approaching legendary status seek another office when he leaves the Florida Legislature?

Meanwhile, Jack’s son and my friend, Chris Latvala, is considering running for Ed Hooper’s State House seat in 2014 when term limits will keep Hooper from seeking re-election.

***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.***

INTERNET SALES TAX BILL FILED by Whitney Ray of the Capitol News Service

a bill filed in Tallahassee would allow the state to begin collecting the six cent tax from online shops.

You may notice something missing when you make a purchase online. Zeros in the tax column. That’s because online retailers without locations in Florida don’t have to collect state sales tax. But that could soon change. State Senator Gwen Margolis filed a bill to force online retails to collect the tax.

“Our whole revenue source is sales tax in the state of Florida,” said Margolis.

We caught up with Senator Margolis by phone Monday.

“The State of Florida is losing jobs and money because people have been shopping online all year,” said Margolis.

FIRST LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE MEETING ADDRESSING OBAMACARE SETS OFF BROUHAHA via The News Service of Florida

The first meeting of a Senate select committee on the federal Affordable Care Act turned raucous Monday, with a group of speakers saying the state should not carry out the law — and jeering Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith after he defended the role of the federal government.

KrisAnne Hall, a north Florida lawyer who was a chief spokeswoman for the group, described the federal law as a “trainwreck.”

“You have to stand now in defense of the constitution, in honor of your oath,” she told members of the Senate Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But a short time later, Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, offered a different view of the federal government’s role, saying, “It’s hard to sit here and be silent and listen to some of this.”

Smith said, for example, the federal government had to play a large role in the past on issues such as integrating schools. Also, he pointed to part of the U.S. Constitution that originally treated black people as less than white people for representation purposes.

“The federal government had to step in because our constitution is an imperfect document,” Smith said, drawing boos from the health-law opponents. “If it was perfect, you would not have amendments to it.”

Committee Chairman Joe Negron tried to stem the booing.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @SenChrisSmith: Lost Tea Party vote by saying the Constitution is an imperfect document.They  forgot about those pesky little amendments we had to add.

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TOPPING THE DAY IN LEGISLATURE via The News Service of Florida

Senate Ethics and Elections: Secretary of State Ken Detzner will go before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee to brief the panel on what is known so far about what happened on Election Day. Also speaking to the panel: Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections General Counsel Ron Labasky. 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.

House Ethics and Elections: The House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee hears a presentation from officials at the Department of State on the laws governing the voting process and the state’s role in that process. Lawmakers have heard complaints from people who had to wait in long lines to vote on Election Day and leaders have vowed to correct whatever the problem was. The panel will also hear from the Florida State Supervisors of Elections on what the supervisors’ role is in administering voting. 3 p.m., 212 Knott Building, The Capitol.

ALSO IN THE LEGISLATURE

Blue ribbon task force on Higher Education reform: The House Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee listens to an overview of what the Florida Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform has found in its work. 3 p.m., 102 House Office Building, The Capitol.

House AG, Natural Resources committee discusses possible legislative issues: Among the meetings where House members actually will do something substantive may be the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, which will hear about possible legislative issues seen by the Department of Agriculture and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 10:30 a.m., 102 House Office Building, The Capitol.

House Insurance talks Citizens depop:  The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee discusses proposals for reducing the number of Florida homes covered by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Lawmakers want to “depopulate” Citizens, which, charging below market rates, has quickly become the largest property insurer in the state. If it can’t pay claims, other policy holders are on the hook to bail it out, and possibly taxpayers too. 3 p.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.

Nichols at House Government Operations Subcommittee: Department of Management Services Secretary Craig Nichols makes an introductory appearance Tuesday before the House Government Operations Subcommittee. DMS also will make a presentation on what it does. 1 p.m., 212 Knott Building, The Capitol.

Senate Judiciary: The Senate Judiciary Committee holds its first meeting under new Chairman Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. The meeting is mostly introductory, but Lee is expected to outline what he sees as the top priorities for one of the most closely-watched committees in the Legislature. 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.

***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.***

FIRST IN SUNBURN: JEFF TACKAS NAMED NEW STAFF DIRECTOR FOR HOUSE MAJORITY OFFICE

GAETZ: MAJOR LEGISLATION NEEDED ON GAMBLING

“The state has never established a comprehensive policy on gaming,” Gaetz said. “Instead, individual pieces of gaming legislation come to the Legislature” and they were added to state law “like bailing wire and chewing gum to an unbalanced and confused gaming industry in the state.”

In January, when the committees start meeting, Gaetz will urge them to “work together to evaluate the effects of gaming on communities in Florida and communities elsewhere, consider the consequences of destination casinos” and develop a negotiating posture for handling the Seminole renegotiation.

The committee also should look at gaming impacts in other states and “hear from the people of Florida” in meetings across the state and then have a “robust debate with real facts.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We should measure twice or three times and cut once on this issue.” Senate President Gaetz on the issue of gambling.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Nick Iarossi, Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Archstone of Atlanta, GA

WHAT TOP ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS ARE FACING FLORIDA? via Florida Voices

Tim Center, Executive Director, Sustainability Florida: “With a shared vision and paradigm, a sustainable Florida will: Ensure a quality water supply for people, agriculture and natural habitats; Foster an energy policy that can leverage state and federal investments to help manage demand, encourage conservation, and encourage the growth of renewable energy options, including waste, as part of a diverse fuel portfolio; Protect private property rights, support the conservation and management of critical landscapes while encouraging compact design to create livable communities; Promote educational opportunities which enable Florida students and businesses to compete in the world.”

Erik Eikenberg, CEO, Everglades Foundation: “A key driver of Florida’s economic future is the restoration of America’s Everglades. Nearly one in three Floridians depend on the Everglades ecosystem for their drinking water. Without that supply of water, Florida’s economic growth will be jeopardized. Not only do the Everglades require a reliable source of clean, fresh water, but so do our cities and towns, as well as agriculture. Increasing the total available water supply is one of the primary objectives of Everglades restoration and should be a major goal of the Legislature.”

***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.***

FLORIDA TAXWATCH NAMES NEW CHAIR, BOARD

At its annual meeting, Florida TaxWatch began a new era of leadership.

Announced as the new Board of Trustees Chairman, John B. Zumwalt, III, is the President of The Zumwalt Company, a family investment company that assists with early investment and corporate development of start-up companies.

With Zumwalt taking over the Chairman’s position, the Florida TaxWatch Officer positions are now held by:

Chair-Elect: Michelle Robinson, Vice President, South Area, Government Affairs, Verizon
Treasurer: David Mann, Chairman & CEO, North Florida Suntrust Bank
Secretary: Clayton Hollis, Vice President, Public Affairs, Publix Super Markets, Inc.
Immediate Past Chairman: Marshall Criser, III, President, Florida AT&T

The Board of Trustees meeting saw the introduction of several new members of the Florida TaxWatch Executive Committee:

  • Colin Brown, President & CEO, JM Family Enterprises
  • Syd Kitson, Chairman & CEO, Kitson & Partners
  • Bob Stork, CEO, Communications International
  • Charlie Gray, Chairman, GrayRobinson P.A.

At the same meeting, the Board of Trustees welcomed new members: Paul Anderson, CEO, Jacksonville Port Authority; Justice Kenneth Bell, Shareholder, Clark Partington Hart Larry Bond & Stackhouse; Lori Costantino-Brown, President, Bridges of America; Chris Dudley, Lobbyist, Southern Strategy Group; Danny Gaekwad, President, NDS; Richard Hanas, CAO, A. Duda & Sons, Inc.; Cyndy Loomis, CEO, Information Systems of Florida; Sharon Merchant, Vice President, The Merchant Group; Jack Miles, Former Department of Management Services Secretary; Karen Moore, President, Moore Communications Group; Phillis Oeters, Corporate Vice President, Baptist Health South Florida; Piyush Patel, President & CEO, Kyra Info Tech Inc.; Barbara Ray, VP Public Sector, North Highland Company; Emmett Reed, Executive Director, Florida Health Care Association; Steve Uhlfelder, Uhlfelder & Associates; Monty Weigel, President & CEO, NorthStar Bank.

INDIANA SCHOOL CHIEF WANTS FLORIDA JOB

Tony Bennett, Indiana’s outgoing state schools superintendent, has applied to be Florida’s next education commissioner, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education said this morning.

“After careful consideration, I have decided to submit an application for Florida’s Commissioner of Education position,” Bennett said in a statement. “The Sunshine State’s consistent commitment to providing all students a top-notch education is impressive and inspiring. I look forward to participating in the next stages of this process.”

IN THE HUNT

Former state senator Steve Wise joins a list of candidates offering to run Florida State College at Jacksonville until a permanent president is selected, the Florida Times-Union reports.

PERSONNEL NOTE: C. MEADE GRIGG APPOINTED DEPUTY OF STATEWIDE SERVICE AT DEPT. OF HEALTH

Grigg was appointed Monday as the new deputy for Statewide Services at the Department of Health by Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. Grigg will start Dec. 28, and will oversee the state’s 60 county health department directors. Grigg also will oversee the Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management as it moves into the Office of Statewide Services.  Grigg, a 30-year DOH veteran, previously was director of the Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management and also served as the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. Grigg received the 2011 National MCH Epidemiology Award for Effective State Level Practice for improving public health practice through effective use of data, epidemiology and applied research.

STATE WORKERS WILL HAVE OFF ON CHRISTMAS EVE

State workers will get Christmas Eve off as a paid holiday after Governor Rick Scott directed executive agencies to shut down on Dec. 24.

“In recognition and sincere thanks for your dedication, I have directed the secretary of the Department of Management Services to close all state executive buildings on December 24, 2012,” Scott wrote in a note to state employees.

Those workers who perform essential functions will still have to work, but they’ll get an equal amount of paid administrative leave to use in the next six months.

The Tallahassee Democrat‘s Paul Fleming has more details on how this Christmas miracle came about here. 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Bondi man, Jason Rodriguez.

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.