Sunburn for 1/7 — 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 – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms. You need their team on your side during this Legislative session for media, grassroots and netroots support. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team and how they can help you.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Rick Scott and health care and Rick Scott’s views on health care are at the top of the agenda this week.

Gov. Scott is off to Washington on Monday to talk health care with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. He’s concerned about Medicaid expansion in light of the new health care law mandate, and also wants to talk about the health exchange requirement, and Florida’s effort to do its own Medicaid changes.

The week ends with the Florida Health Care Affordability Summit in Orlando hosted by Associated Industries, at which a number of lawmakers will discuss some of the same issues (by the way, I’ll be live-blogging from the conference on Thursday). 

This is the last week of holiday quiet before a flurry of activity begins with legislative committee weeks starting Jan. 14 and a full schedule of meetings through the next six weeks or so leading up the regular session in March. Check out the News Service of Florida’s list of events and meetings here.

SURE, OBAMA WON TWICE WITH 51% OF VOTE, BUT REAGAN’S WIN STILL MORE IMPRESSIVE

Last week, Bloomberg News reported that Barack Obama is the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win twice with 51% of the vote.  While this is certainly true, framing Obama’s win with that headline overlooks Ronald Reagan’s wins in 1980 and 1984.

In 1980, Reagan knocked off an an incumbent by taking 50.8 % of the vote — with a third-party candidate in the race, to boot. In his re-election bid, President Reagan handily defeated Walter Mondale, taking 58.8% of the vote.

So yes, technically, Obama is the first president since the country liked Ike to win with 51% of the vote, but even the current President would probably admit that Reagan’s wins are more impressive.

OBAMA EXPECTED TO NOMINATE HAGEL FOR DEFENSE SEC. TODAY

President Obama is expected to name former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his choice for defense secretary as early as today, The Cable reports, as critics of the former Nebraska senator prepare to go to war to fight his expected nomination.

Meanwhile, Hagel’s detractors “are moving forward with their campaign against the nomination.”

OBAMA TO HIT THE ROAD TO BATTLE GOP

President Obama “intends to take a confrontational approach with Republicans in future economic battles by using the same campaign-style events the White House saw as effective in the ‘fiscal-cliff’ fight,” The Hill reports.

Many in Obama’s party believe that he got the upper hand in the recent deal to avoid the mixture of across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts, and that the aggressive approach helped build his public case.

The reasons: his successful reelection; polling suggesting public support for many of his positions; and division among Republicans on Capitol Hill.

DISSENSION AMONG REPUBLICANS AS TO WHAT TO DO NEXT

There are early signs of division within the Republican Party over how to approach the upcoming debate over raising the federal debt ceiling, the Washington Post reports.

“On Friday, a top Senate Republican signaled that members of his party should be prepared to play hardball and be willing to accept the kind of consequences in each previous fight they’ve threatened but managed to avoid… But other Republicans counseled caution, warning that pressure from the business community and the public to raise the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit renders untenable any threats not to do so and will weaken the GOP’s hand if their stance is perceived to be a bluff.”

***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 ***

SCOTT, GOP DOMINATE WEEKEND PROFILES

Current: GOP leaders offer hope to party faithfulHeraldTwo years into Gov. Rick Scott’s term, and there’s room for improvement; Post: Florida GOP plan: Resurrect The Gipper; SentinelFlorida GOP seeks new direction after election losses; Sunshine State News: Republicans will rebound in 2014.

GOVERNOR MAKES HIS CASE FOR A SECOND TERM by the Associated Press

Scott pointed to the state’s improving economy Saturday as he encouraged Republicans to begin working now to make sure he and other party members are elected in 2014.

“I don’t understand why everybody’s not a Republican,” Scott told party activists gathered for the state GOP’s annual meeting. “Anybody who believes that they want to improve themselves should be a Republican.”

Scott said he’ll run for re-election with the same message he had when he won office in 2010 — making the state more business-friendly.

“This time I’ll have the opportunity to talk about what we have accomplished. It’s going to be focused on putting families first, it’s going to be focused on our track record of holding government accountable, reducing taxes, reducing regulations, getting the job market going, getting housing coming back, getting exports up, improving education,” Scott said.

SCOTT FACES SAGGING APPROVAL RATINGS IN TAMPA BAY via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

Almost twice as many adults in Pinellas and Hillsborough gave Scott a subpar rating than those who gave him a passing mark, according to a Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/AM 820 News poll.

Only 23 percent rated Scott’s job performance as “good” or “excellent,” while 42 percent said they rated him as doing a “poor” or “not so good” job. Those who rate him “average” made up 27 percent of the respondents.

Of the two counties, Scott’s numbers are substantially worse in Pinellas. While 33 percent of voters rated him not so good or poor in Hillsborough, 52 percent gave him that rating in Pinellas — which just happens to be the home turf of Charlie Crist, the former governor who may challenge Scott in 2014.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: WILL SCOTT FACE A PRIMARY CHALLENGE via the Political Hurricane

The GOP electorate in Florida has become more conservative and less pragmatic. Scott’s money advantage and conservative bonafides make him tough to beat in a primary. Both Atwater and Putnam would have to weigh the opportunity cost of giving up a spot on the cabinet and an inside track to the 2018 nomination for what might be a futile challenge. We know politics can turn on a dime, but still it is difficult at this point in time to really see Scott being defeated in a primary.

LENNY CURRY RE-ELECTED CHAIR OF FLORIDA GOP

More than 200 party activists gathered for the state GOP annual meeting, re-electing party Chairman Lenny Curry and other party officers. Gov. Rick Scott and two state Cabinet members, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, treated the party faithful to blunt pep talks about becoming the “Grand Opportunity Party” while winning back votes of women, Hispanics, young voters, blacks and other demographic blocs the president won on Nov. 6.

“We have allowed someone else to carry our message, so there’s now this sort of stigma that the Republican Party is the party of ‘No,’ the party that doesn’t believe in individuals, the party that dislikes them,” Curry said after his unanimous re-election. “It’s up to us in this room to not be tagged as the party of ‘No,’ a party not for opportunity.”

He said his goals for the next two years are “very pragmatic and simple”: re-electing Scott and the all-GOP state Cabinet, expanding Republican majorities in the House and Senate and increasing the party’s registration statewide.

“Being a Republican does not require unyielding orthodoxy and not thinking,” Curry said. “That’s another thing that certain members of the media like to stick on us.” 

TWEET, TWEET: @LennyCurry: Thank you members of @FloridaGOP. I’m grateful and ready to roll. #sayfie

WINNERS AND LOSERS OUT OF THE RPOF ANNUAL MEETING via Florida Conservative News here.

***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.***

SCOTT HEADS TO WASHINGTON…

Scott meets today with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to talk mostly about Medicaid, and the federal health care law requirements. Scott has said he wants to talk with Sebelius to clarify whether Florida will have to eventually create a health insurance exchange under the new health care law, and what the state’s options are as far as expanding eligibility for Medicaid. The governor’s office hasn’t released details about the meeting. 

…OUTLINES POSITIONS

— Increase K-12 budget: Scott said he wants lawmakers to increase spending in the K-12 education budget as he prepares to lay out a spending plan later this month. Scott has said repeatedly that he hoped the Legislature would at least hold the line on K-12 spending, but on Friday he indicated he likely will recommend an increase. “We’re still working on the number, but my focus is on increasing funding for K-through-12,” Scott said. If lawmakers were to increase spending on public school education it would come on top of a more than $1 billion increase last year, but critics have noted that that increase only replaced money that was cut during Scott’s first year in office. 

— Reiterates corporate tax proposal: Scott said Friday that he will include an increase in the exemption for corporate income taxes in his budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Scott, who had already floated the proposal at the National Association of Realtors convention in November, reiterated the idea in an interview with the News Service of Florida. He said an increase in the exemption to $75,000 from the current $50,000 would allow around 2,000 additional businesses, or about another 5 percent of the state’s corporations, to avoid paying the tax. Already, about 75 percent of Florida companies don’t pay anything. “I want to get it up to about 80 percent, and eventually I want to eliminate it, so I want to continue to make progress every year,” Scott said. Lawmakers have approved increases in the exemption for two straight years, finding another way to work towards Scott’s promise in the 2010 campaign that he would phase out the levy by gradually lowering the rate.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “My agenda is, I like teachers.” — Gov. Scott.

***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.***

FELLOW DEMOCRATS PUTTING PATRICK MURPHY IN POSITION TO SUCCEED via The TC Palm

(T)he same big Democratic congressional names that vouched for him during the campaign — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen and more — are now helping Murphy on the Hill. Vice President Joe Biden even showed up for Murphy’s swearing-in party.

“Beating West definitely helped put me on the radar screen for a lot of people,” said Murphy, an accountant and businessman. “But I think, beyond that, my age, hopefully eagerness to learn, perhaps not as stubborn as some members, (Democratic leaders) appreciate that.”

Hoyer, a Maryland lawmaker, guided Murphy through the committee selection process. The result — Murphy landed a spot on the Committee on Financial Services, his top choice.

“Those are very sought-after spots, so it’s a testament to the fact that Patrick is already held in good standing,” said Van Hollen.

KEY QUOTE: “I’d like to say to all of you, you did the country a favor.” — Biden to supporters of Murphy for defeating Allen West in the November elections.

STEARNS LANDS AT APCO WORLDWIDE via POLITICO Influence

Former North Florida Republican US Rep. Cliff Stearns is headed to APCO Worldwide as a senior adviser and member of the firm’s international advisory council. The 12-term lawmaker served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee where he chaired the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

***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.***

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY BLOG ABOUT ITS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR 2013 here.

MEET REP. JAKE RABURN by Eric Giunta of Sunshine State News

Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, has been a farmer his whole life, and he’s bringing all 27 years of his life experience and education to Tallahassee as the Florida Legislature’s newly-elected youngest representative.

I’ve always been intrigued about politics,” District 57’s new legislator said. “My family owns and operates a small farming produce business, and I want my son to have the opportunity to take it over one day. I just wanted to be part of the process, to learn more about our government and how to deal with it.”

He’s already helped to make world history: In 1999, the son of Plant City strawberry farmers contributed to the creation of the world’s then-largest strawberry shortcake — 827-square-feet and weighing in at 6,000 pounds. (As of 2004, the record is held by a city in the Philippines, which produced a cake weighing over 21,000 pounds.)

But naturally, dessert isn’t on Raburn’s legislative menu. Coming from a family of educators – his wife and both of his parents are teachers – he says he’s excited about using his placement on the House Education Appropriations and K-12 subcommittee to explore education reform.

PAFFORD FILES URBAN DEVELOPMENT BILL

The Urban Infill and Redevelopment Assistance Grant program would be re-created by a bill (HB 89) filed Thursday by a House Democrat. The program hadn’t been funded since 2001 and was eliminated last year. The measure filed by Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, would allow local governments to allocate grant money to development agencies to create development in urban areas.

“Job creation and urban infill are important priorities that can be tackled simultaneously,” said Pafford. “I am excited to bring this innovative proposal to the Legislature and I look forward to strong bipartisan support.”

RASCHEIN STARTS OFF ON RIGHT FOOT via KeyWest.com 

One of her first challenges as the newly elected representative from District 120 involved the state attorney general, Gov. Rick Scott and a dispute over appointing an interim commissioner to the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District board.

… Raschein, no stranger to the way Tallahassee works (having been the right hand for both state Rep. Ron Saunders and, before him, Rep. Ken Sorensen), set up meetings and brought in the wastewater district’s Tallahassee lobbyist as well as the district’s general manager, Margaret Blank, and the district’s lawyer, Raymond Giglio.

They met with the governor’s chief of staff and as reported in Friday’s Upper Keys Reporter, after some back and forth, the state backed off the need to hold a special election.

“She just saved our district $35,000,” said Commissioner Norm Higgins. Raschein told Reporter Editor David Goodhue: “It was the right thing to do, and now we can move on.”

REHWINKEL VASILINDA: END DEATH PENALTY via The News Service of Florida

A bill filed by a House Democrat would end the death penalty in Florida. The measure (HB 4005) was filed by Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda who said in a statement that it’s not cost-effective and doesn’t deter crime. “When you analyze the numbers, state sponsored execution is not the correct answer,” argued Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who said the state spends more than $50 million a year on death penalty cases. That, she said, would pay for 450 new police officers and allow upgraded law enforcement technology. “Life without parole is a sensible alternative to the death penalty,” she said.

DANA YOUNG TAPS BRIAN LOGAN AS STAFF DIRECTOR FOR MAJORITY WHIP’S OFFICE

Logan comes to the position with extensive knowledge of the legislative process, having most recently served as Legislative Affairs Director of the Florida Parole Commission. 

Prior to that, Logan served as Deputy Staff Director of the House Majority Office under Speaker Cannon.  

“Brian Logan’s experience and understanding of the inner-workings of the Florida House, and his strong relationships with the Members, will make him an invaluable member of our team,” said Rep. Young.

***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.***

APPOINTED:  Keith A. Carsten to the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

DEPT. OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY NAMES LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS STAFF

Bill Wilson has been named Director of Legislative Affairs and Theresa “Cissy” Proctor has been named Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs. 

“Bill brings to DEO extensive experience with the legislative process and considerable relationships with key stakeholders,” said Jesse Panuccio, the newly appointed DEO Executive Director said. “Cissy has represented a number of public-sector agencies and organizations and will be a critical member of our team.”  

Wilson joins DEO after spending the previous seven years with the Florida House of Representatives. After serving as an aide to House Speaker Marco Rubio, Wilson joined House Finance & Tax Committee where he dealt with matters pertaining to state and local taxation, economic development initiatives and revenue forecasting. Bill, a graduate of Florida International University, has an MBA with a concentration in Finance.

Proctor joins DEO from the law firm of Bryant Miller Olive, PA, where she has a successful legal and government consulting practice. Over her career, the Florida State University College of Law alumna has represented private sector clients who conduct business with the state and has also counseled public entities in matters related to labor and employment, land use, and public finance.

FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN MANAGER KEN MEHLMAN TO ADDRESS ECONOMIC CLUB OF FLORIDA ON TUESDAY IN TALLY

Former George W. Bush Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman will speak to the Economic Club of Florida at noon on Tuesday, January 8, in A2-A3 of the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

Media are invited to cover his presentation: “America 2013, Challenges and Opportunities.”

MEMORIAL FOR JUDGE OVERTON

Former Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton, who died last weekend, will lie in repose in the Supreme Court rotunda on Monday. Overton served nearly three decades on the court from the mid-1970s until 1999. Family will receive visitors at the court during the visitation. A memorial service will follow in the courtroom featuring speakers that include Chief Justice Ricky Polston, former Gov. Reubin Askew, former Justice Parker Lee McDonald, and Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte. 

MUST-READ FROM THE WEEKEND: POPULATION GROWTH LIKELY TO PUSH FLORIDA AHEAD OF NEW YORK by Laura C. Morel of the Tampa Bay Times

Last month, the U.S. Census reported that Florida currently has the third-largest population growth of any state.

Last year, Atlas Van Lines reported Florida had 4,973 moves into the state, compared to 4,641 moves out.

And several demographers predict that within two or three years Florida could eclipse New York as the third most populous state in the country.

NEW LOOK LOTTERY UNVEILED TODAY

The Lottery gets a new logo as part of a campaign to rebrand the state’s gambling enterprise on its 25-year anniversary. Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, and students who received Bright Futures scholarships – which are funded by Lottery money – unveil the new logo.

SPOTTED at Quorum — Tampa Bay’s not-too-political happy hour — on Friday were Senators Jeff Brandes and Jack Latvala, Representative Kathleen Peters and the man she succeeded, former Rep. Jim Frishe. First to show up at the event was music impressario and RNC 2012 underwriter Bill Edwards with his new colleague, former St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker, coming in not long thereafter.  Local pols included Commissioners John Morroni and Ken Welch, as well as St. Pete City Councilman Steve Kornell. 

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.