Sunburn for 1/30 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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


“It’s probably futile to try to change current Republicans. It’s smarter to build a new wing of the Republican Party, one that can compete in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states, in the upper Midwest and along the West Coast. It’s smarter to build a new division that is different the way the Westin is different than the Sheraton…” 

“Would a coastal and Midwestern G.O.P. sit easily with the Southern and Western one? No, but majority parties are usually coalitions of the incompatible. This is really the only chance Republicans have. The question is: Who’s going to build a second G.O.P.?”

HOW MARCO RUBIO EVOLVED ON IMMIGRATION by Beth Reinhard of National Journal 

Arizona Sen. John McCain partnered with liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy in 2005 to offer illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, then allied with border security hardliners during a tough 2010 Republican primary. “Complete the danged fence,” McCain cracked in a widely publicized television spot.

Less well known is the equally dramatic pivot by Marco Rubio, from 2010 candidate who dismissed McCain’s proposal as “amnesty,” to U.S. senator who on Monday championed reforms McCain said had “very little difference” from his previous plan, which became the blueprint for failed legislation in 2006 and 2007.

During a March 28, 2010 Fox News debate against then-Gov. Charlie Crist, Rubio said: “He would have voted for the McCain plan. I think that plan is wrong, and the reason I think it’s wrong is that if you grant amnesty, as the governor proposes that we do, in any form, whether it’s back of the line or so forth, you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America.”


“Well, what you are doing is admirable and noteworthy,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “You are recognizing reality. You’re trumpeting it, you’re shouting it. You have a difficult job ahead of you because you are meeting everybody honestly, forthrightly, halfway. You’re seeking compromise.”

Then, the talk radio host sent Mr. Rubio off with some well-wishes: “The country really does hinge on it, I think, so the best to you, and good luck.”


“I am concerned by the President’s unwillingness to accept significant enforcement triggers before current undocumented immigrants can apply for a green card. Without such triggers in place, enforcement systems will never be implemented and we will be back in just a few years dealing with millions of new undocumented people in our country. Furthermore, the President ignored the need for a modernized guest worker program that will ensure those who want to immigrate legally to meet our economy’s needs can do so in the future.  Finally, the President’s speech left the impression that he believes reforming immigration quickly is more important than reforming immigration right. A reform of our immigration laws is a consequential undertaking that deserves to be subjected to scrutiny and input from all involved.  I was encouraged by the President’s  explicit statement that people with temporary legal status won’t be eligible for ObamaCare. If in fact they were, the potential cost of reform would blow open another big, gaping hole in our federal budget and make the bill untenable.”


Comprehensive immigration reform could make millions of people suddenly eligible for assistance under President Obama’s healthcare law, notes Elise Viebeck, assuming a final deal paves the way for undocumented immigrants to receive papers.

“Illegal aliens are now prohibited from purchasing coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, which will launch next year. They are also ineligible for Medicaid under most circumstances,” writes Viebeck

If nothing changes, undocumented immigrants will be a major share of the uninsured, second only to those who are eligible but do not apply for coverage under the healthcare law in 2014.


Tougher enforcement—which included building the fence, beefing up border patrols, pushing ahead with E-Verify, and escalating the number of deportations—has worked alongside a weak economy to slow illegal immigration to a crawl over the past four years, and this has steadily whittled away at the appeal of the immigration table pounders. Combine this with a Republican Party that desperately needs to stanch its bleeding among the fastest growing ethnic group in the country, and you finally have, for the first time in decades, a political climate that just might make immigration reform possible. But I doubt that this moment will last very long. This probably needs to happen in the next six months if it’s going to happen at all.

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lorida’s consumer confidence dipped to 75, down one point from a revised reading of 76 in December, according to a monthly University of Florida survey.

Consumer confidence has been more or less flat since the November election because of improving economic conditions and Congress’ delay handing the federal government’s fiscal problems, said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. 

Responses to the five survey components used to reflect confidence were mixed. When survey takers were asked if they are better off financially than a year ago, their overall response showed a three-point decline to 59. However, expectations that their own personal finances will improve by this time next year rose one point to 77. 

Faith in the U.S. economy over the coming year was unchanged at 76, while the outlook on economic conditions for the next five years fell two points to 76. 

Finally, opinions about whether now is a good time to buy expensive retail goods such as televisions rose one point to 87. 


Submitting a budget proposal is one of two times a year that the governor most aggressively uses the bully pulpit (the other is his State of the State address).

It’s also a vivid reminder of the limits of a governor’s power. The Legislature decides how taxpayer money is spent. The governor has a veto for ideas he doesn’t like.

Legislators take pride in their willingness to ignore the governor’s budget ideas. Scott is in for some tough sledding this session, partly because he’s seen as very unpopular with lawmakers’ constituents. He’s an easy target.

This budget will offer the most clues so far as to how Scott thinks he can improve his standing with Florida voters in the hope of increasing the likelihood he can get re-elected in 2014. It’s clear that he has decided to cast his lot with the men and women who teach our children. 


Republican Party of Florida Communications Director Brian Burgess is leaving the party to work with Brian Hughes at Meteoric Media Strategies, thus making it easier for all of us to arrange a tag-team match-up between Burgess and Hughes and me and Troy Kinsey during the 2014 Scott versus Crist campaign.

“Excited to be expanding, even more so that it’s with my friend and a person I respect immensely,” Hughes tweeted Tuesday, confirming a Florida Times-Union report of Burgess’ move. Burgess went to work for the RPOF in September of last year after working as Scott’s chief spokesman. He had worked for Scott starting in 2009 as a consultant on Scott’s effort to prevent the federal health care law from being passed, and then worked on Scott’s gubernatorial campaign before joining the governor’s office.

HOW LUCY MORGAN HEADLINED BURGESS’ DEPARTURE: “Spokesman Brian Burgess leaves RPOF after dodging questions about Rick Scott’s dog” … “Burgess would not return emails or telephone calls, but was shown the door at the party after he did not answer questions from the Tampa Bay Times about a rescued Labrador retriever adopted by Gov. Rick Scott.”

>>>My Top 5 Brian Burgess moments from the last three years here.


There’s no bigger fan of Charlie Crist than this blog, but sooner or later the former Governor will need to say something about something more specific than this. 

Crist penned an op ed for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, in which he champions cooperation and optimism, as well as apple pie and puppies, such as this section:

“…While I am eternally optimistic about our state’s future, none of these issues are easily solved. However, with collective action and bipartisan cooperation, we can set Florida on a course to lead the nation in the 21st century.

So as the governor and Legislature prepare to gather in Tallahassee, I hope they will heed the advice of the President, put the people of Florida ahead of their own political interests, and find the collective will to take on the state’s most pressing issues, together.”

That’s all well and good, Governor Sunshine, but at some point you’re going to have to give the “why you are a Democrat” speech, or at least stake out your position on some difficult issues, such as gay marriage.

TWEET, TWEET: @TroyKinsey: Not necessarily; for CC, image tends to (successfully) trump specifics. [email protected]: Crist needs to say more than “Sunshine is good.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s going to be a Shakespearean play where everyone dies in the end,” he predicts. “It won’t be good for anybody. People need to know what goes on behind the curtain in the Republican Party, and before the Republicans tried to destroy me, they should have thought about what the consequences were going to be.” — Jim Greer in an interview for the Miami New Times


Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant’s victory in the party chairman election ended up being closer than first announced after missing votes were discovered.

The party initially announced Saturday that Tant beat Alan Clendenin 587 to 448. But a ballot from Miami-Dade County wasn’t counted when it got stuck to another ballot. The final result ended up being 587 to 507. The ballots are weighted based on the size of the county the voter represents.

After discovering the ballot, party officials twice recounted the vote.

In an odd coincidence, Tant is married to lawyer Barry Richard, who was hired by George W. Bush’s campaign to help secure his 537-vote victory during the 2000 presidential recount.

***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.***

AP EDITOR-PALOOZA: Newspaper editors gather in Tallahassee for the Associated Press annual editors meeting, which always draws several high profile state government speakers. Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, the Democratic legislative leaders, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich and new Education Commissioner Tony Bennett all will be speakers. There’s a panel discussion on the elections system with Sen. Jack Latvala, Rep. Janet Cruz, Seminole County Elections Supervisor Mike Ertel, University of Florida professor Dan Smith and representatives of the political parties.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Attorney General Pam Bondi and Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez will host a press event to discuss the national mortgage settlement and the relief that is available to Floridians. 2:15 p.m., Hialeah City Hall.

APPOINTED: Jalal A. Harb, of Lakeland, to the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court to fill out the term of deceased former Circuit Judge Karla F. Wright.


The Board of Directors of Enterprise Florida, the state’s public private economic development agency, holds its regular meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Tallahassee. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is expected to attend Wednesday.


The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors meets Wednesday through Friday at the Hotel Duval in Tallahassee. Board committee meetings take place Wednesday and Thursday with the full board meeting on Friday.


>>>The Department of Environmental Protection and the Northwest Florida Water Management District hold a public workshop via webinar on the applicant’s handbook and processing fees related to the proposed statewide Environmental Resource Permit.

>>>The Department of Juvenile Justice holds a Roadmap to System Excellence town hall meeting 6 to 8 p.m. to receive public comment on its work to evaluate and reform juvenile justice “to offer the right service to the right youth at the right time and to keep our communities safe.” It will be held in Bay County Commission Chamber in Panama City.

>>>The Department of Transportation holds a workshop 10 a.m. to discuss the Strategic Port Investment Initiative proposed for the Jaxport project.

>>>The Medicaid Reform Technical Advisory Panel meets 1 to 4 p.m. at the Agency for Health Care Administration.

***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.***


Gus Bilirakis will celebrate the opening of his New Port Richey and Wesley Chapel offices today by inviting constituents to attend an open house at both locations. At the event, the Congressman will deliver brief remarks and attendees will have the opportunity to speak with the Congressman and his staff, while enjoying light refreshments. 

The event is open to the media, but those interested in attending must RSVP to Sarah Criser at (202) 225-5755 or [email protected].


EMILY’s List, the pro-choice Democratic women’s group, is naming five members of Congress as top targets in 2014, including Florida’s Dan Webster and Bill Young. On the list are Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.-02) – who’s running for Senate — Rodney Davis (IL-13), Gary Miller (CA-31), Webster (FL-10) and Young (FL-13).

The group is placing them “On Notice” for what EMILY’s List calls their “appallingly anti-woman, anti-family records.”

“[M]embers of Congress like Capito, Davis, Miller, Webster, and Young, are doubling down on insane policies that would roll back the clock on women’s rights and opportunities,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a release. “Collectively they have failed to cosponsor the Violence Against Women Act which would give necessary protections to victims of domestic violence, have routinely opposed or ignored paycheck fairness legislation, and support extreme anti-choice legislation that would severely limit reproductive healthcare access.”


According to a report in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Congressman Vern Buchanan has still not properly documented returning more than $80,000 in illegal straw donations. The Federal Election Commission said in a Friday letter that it still has not seen filings that the Buchanan campaign has forfeited $84,300 in illegal donations from a Tampa real estate developer. According to the letter, Buchanan did return the money, but his campaign finance report did not properly itemize the contributions.

***The Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute is a non-partisan leadership development program that asks participants to explore the possibility of public leadership in the future (without requiring a commitment to run for office) and learn now about the political process, leadership and public policy, while networking with leaders.  Applications for the next class will soon be accepted. Click here for more information.***

LOOK WHICH FORMER STATE REPS WANT THEIR JOB BACK IN 2014 by Jeff Henderson for Sunshine State News

 (F)ive former representatives in the Florida House are looking to get their old jobs back.

Three Republicans — Brad Drake, Eric Eisnaugle and Scott Plakon — and two Democrats — Evan Jenne and Philip Brutus, who previously served in the Florida House, have already filed their paperwork as they attempt to return to that chamber.

They look to join a host of familiar faces in the Florida House, because only 15 of the current 120 House members face term limits in 2014.

***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.***

COFFEE WITH REP. DANA YOUNG this morning at Datz Deli in Tampa. The event begins at 7:30 a.m.


Look for Senator Jeff Brandes to file the “

  • Pension Transparency Act” which would require all pension plans in Florida to use a common accounting method in the reporting of their level of funding, unfunded liabilities, dollar value of current plan assets, and time that it would take to contribute enough to reach fully funded levels. The bill would also r

equire that the pension plans use an assumed rate of return pegged to the adjusted 24-month average corporate bond rates, and use a standard actuarial cost method in order to better compare all pension plans to each other and fully determine the level of funding for all plans in the state.

ECONOMIC INCENTIVES COMING UNDER LEGISLATIVE EYE by Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida

Stung by taxpayer dollars going to companies that didn’t deliver, a freshman House Democrat on Tuesday filed legislation to provide more transparency surrounding economic development incentives offered by the state.

The bill (HB 563) by Rep. Jose Rodriguez, D-Miami, would require the state to disclose detailed information on jobs promised and delivered through the state’s economic development programs.

Rodriguez said the bill, and a companion expected to be filed by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, R-Hollywood, dovetails with Republican-backed efforts to restore accountability and credibility to the state’s economic development incentive efforts.

“In the last couple of years, there have been some questions about whether they are fulfilling their mission,” Rodriguez said Tuesday in reference to a handful of existing incentives. “This bill will allow us to restore some credibility to the process.”


When the Legislature passed growth management law changes in 2011, it repealed a state requirement that local governments charge new developments for the cost of needed roadway improvements.

Supporters said the sweeping law changes would return decision-making over growth to the local level where they say it belongs. 

But now, some developers say they disagree with the way the changes are being interpreted by some local governments and they’re pushing for new legislation.


Preachers from African American Churches in Florida and leaders of national Christian organizations are praying for pay raises for state workers.

At a church near the state capitol Tuesday, the group told reporters state workers have been discriminated against because they haven’t had a raise in six years. We asked Reverend R B Holmes how much the raise should be and what program could be cut or tax increased to pay for it. Holmes is leaving the specifics up to lawmakers, but says it’s part of what Dr. Martin Luther King died for.

“Dr King died for the right for folk to get pay raises and he died in Memphis, Tennessee April 1968, dying for sanitation workers,” said Holmes.

Bills have been filed to give state workers a raise. We’ll get a clearer picture of whether or not the idea has a chance, once Governor Rick Scott unveils his budget. That unveiling is expected later this week.

WEATHERFORD: ONLINE U. WON’T BE STATE’S 13TH UNIVERSITY by Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

“I don’t know what the end game is going to be, but it’s not going to be creating some unbranded university or unaccredited university, because I think that would be a waste of everybody’s time and money,” Weatherford said. “But it will be pushing the envelope a little bit to get more people exposed to online learning.”

Instead, Weatherford suggested that the state create some entity “that is solely focused on creating the best platform, the best content at the most affordable price” — but not another university.

***The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly would like to congratulate their long term Client American Eldercare and their Grassroots Team for winning Florida’s contract for Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program for Long-Term Care. The Delray Beach firm that specializes in caring for seniors in independent living in their homes as well as assisted living “is the only company that won contracts to enroll customers in every region of the state According to Health News Florida, The market is estimated to be worth about $3 billion.” The PA Team has represented American Eldercare and worked with their Grassroots Team for over 10 years. ***


***Last week, Walmart made the Veterans Welcome Home and Manufacturing commitments; offering jobs to honorably discharged veterans with expected hiring of 100,000 over the next five years and boosting sourcing of U.S. products by $50 Billion over the next ten years.  Click here to learn more about Walmart’s veterans and manufacturing commitments.***

4TH FLOOR FILES TALKS TO MARTY FIORENTINO about working with Jeb Bush, his Ferragamos and Cypress Restaurant. Here’s the file on Marty.


Noah Valenstein: Office of the Governor


If you’re a regular MSNBC viewer, you’re used to seeing Eugene Robinson weighing in on the affairs of Washington D.C almost as much as network regulars Chris Matthews or Chuck Todd. 

Tonight, Tampa Bay area political junkies will have the opportunity to see and hear from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist in the flesh, when he appears as the keynote speaker for the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club’s Annual Dinner at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater.

Unlike the usual meetings for this Pinellas County political salon, this event is in prime time, and includes a cocktail hour before festivities commence.

In addition to Eugene Robinson, the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club will also be honoring former state Senator Dennis Jones with its Benjamin Franklin Award, and longtime Tampa Bay Times investigative reporter Lucy Morgan will be given the Thomas Paine Award for what Tiger Bay officials describe as her “extraordinary integrity, courage and achievement.”


Smith, Bryan & Myers has announced the addition of Attorney Andrea Becker to its firm. Becker draws on her experience in government, including three years working on Capitol Hill for Congressman Adam Putnam while he was chairman of the House Republican Conference, as well as her strong relationships and legal background to provide clients with strategic counsel for their interactions with the legislative and executive branches of state government.

For the past several years, Becker has focused on assisting clients with campaign finance, elections, ethics, lobbying disclosure, and pay-to-play compliance issues at the local, state and federal levels. As a graduate of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, Becker’s background in government and law has provided the foundation to effectively represent clients in legal matters before various state agencies.

“We are very excited to announce that Andrea will be joining and augmenting our team in Tallahassee,” said Managing Partner and President Matt Bryan of Smith, Bryan & Myers. “Andrea’s background and expertise will be an asset to our team, and she will undoubtedly enhance the service we provide to our clients. We look forward to Andrea’s dynamism as she begins, and grows into, her new role with our firm.”  

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.