Sunburn for 4/23 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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MIAMI, ORLANDO AMONG POSSIBLE 2016 DNC SITES via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Miami and Orlando are among 15 cities that the Democratic National Committee has asked to submit proposals to host the 2016 national convention.

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sent a letter to the cities on Tuesday. Others include Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City.

“While many of the requirements are specific to the various logistical and administrative goals of putting on the Democratic National Convention, we do seek a city that shares our values of equality, inclusion, diversity, respect and dignity,” Wasserman Schultz wrote in a letter. “And because of the significant security and construction related issues that we will face, we also look for a city with strong relationships with organized labor and those they represent. Our priority is to work with a community that will partner with us as we plan this historic event.”

WHY ORLANDO IS THE BEST CHOICE Frank Torres’ take here

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CD 19 SPECIAL ELECTION

Curt Clawson has won a Republican primary in a special election that was called after the district’s congressman resigned in January after being arrested for buying cocaine.

With 96 precent of precincts counted, Clawson had 38 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s four-way race, ahead of Lizbeth Benacquisto, who had 26 percent. Paige Kreegel had 25 percent and Michael Dreikorn had 11 percent.

The 54-year-old former CEO of an aluminum wheel company will face Democrat April Freeman in the June 24 general election in the heavily Republican district, which includes parts of Lee and Collier counties. The winner will fill the seat left vacant by Trey Radel, who pleaded guilty to cocaine charges.

A total of $2.1 million was spent on the race by outside groups, largely on attack ads.

CLAWSON’S VICTORY SPEECH

“All is forgiven. I want you on the team. We need to unite Southwest Florida.”

“I put the Economic Growth Plan together with Connie Mack’s Penny Plan, because we need to cut spending in addition to Economic Growth.  And I will continue to promote the Penny Plan in Washington and across the country.” “I got into this race because I felt like we needed more Outsiders in Congress.  The career politicians aren’t getting the job done, and I don’t see a whole lot of people in Washington with the experience as a CEO in making the tough decisions to save our country.” “To President Obama: We aren’t going to agree on much. I am going to challenge you on Obamacare. I am going to challenge you on spending. I am going to challenge you on economic growth. But first, I am going to challenge you on the basketball court. It’s time to man up and accept the three-point challenge. My house or yours?”

NRCC REAX

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden issued the following statement on Clawson’s victory:

“Congratulations are in order for Curt Clawson on becoming the Republican nominee in Florida’s 19th Congressional District Special Primary Election tonight. Throughout his campaign, Curt has outlined his conservative principles on how he will stop ObamaCare from hurting Florida families, grow the economy and get Washington’s spending under control.

“Curt’s commonsense business skills will help him fight for Florida families and ensure a bright future for generations to come. Tonight, voters demonstrated they want a Republican leader who is going to help families and grow jobs. I look forward to working with Curt in Congress to make life better for families across America.”

INSTANT ANALYSIS via The National Journal

Clawson’s win is a victory for the tea party and for inexperienced, antiestablishment candidates seeking to challenge more experienced Republicans. His campaign focused on his lack of political experience and took an antiestablishment tone, and he earned endorsements from antiestablishment figures including Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and the State Tea Party Express.

The race “perfectly exemplifies the contrast within the Republican Party nationally,” Clawson campaign spokesman John Yob said last week.

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AT TIGER BAY, CRIST REITERATES SUPPORT FOR OBAMACARE via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

Crist appeared at the Capital Tiger Bay Club and almost immediately brought up the attack ads being run by the political committee backing Scott’s re-election, which show video of Crist talking about the health care overhaul and saying, “I think it’s been great.”

“I’m going to tell you what’s great. ‘Obamacare’s’ great,” Crist said one minute into his 29-minute speech. “My opponent has spent about $6 million showing me say what’s great … Affordable health care — I think it’s incredibly important and I don’t back away from it, I do support it because it is great.”

… Crist told the group that since the television ads began running, a woman in Orlando approached him while he was campaigning and said she agreed the health care overhaul is great.

She said the woman’s brothers both had juvenile diabetes and couldn’t get health insurance coverage because of their preexisting condition.

“‘Now they’re dead,’” Crist said the woman told him. “‘And if Obamacare would have gone into effect a little sooner, I could be sitting here having a beer with them, too. Now, Charlie, you know how great Obamacare really is.’ So yeah, I support it.’”

The Scott campaign responded with new criticism of Crist on the issue.

“Charlie Crist is completely disconnected from the pain that Florida families are feeling because of Obamacare. This failed law’s higher taxes, higher premiums and broken promises are impossible for him to defend,” campaign spokesman Matt Moon said in an email.

CRIST AND SCOTT SHOW STARK CONTRASTS IN PERSONALITY via William March of the Tampa Tribune

Several TV cameras, half a dozen reporters and some campaign staff are trailing Charlie Crist, but that doesn’t stop him from pushing his way into the tiny kitchen of the West Tampa Sandwich Shop to greet the staff.

As people jostle and cameras bang into pots and pans, Crist hugs, shakes hands and talks animatedly to everyone, including the non-English speakers, using his standard joke — “Yo estudie Español dos años en la escuela.” “I studied Spanish two years in school.”

It’s vintage Crist. At any campaign event, he wanders from group to group as handlers try to keep up, greeting the kitchen staff, the waiters, the drivers, the security guards or maybe the construction workers having lunch outside.

There couldn’t be a starker contrast with the man Crist is expected to run against for governor in November, Gov. Rick Scott.

Introverted and sometimes awkward, Scott greets the public according to script, smiling with tight lips, speaking from notes and always on-message.

Besides opposing stances on the issues, this race will feature a clash of political personalities unlike any in the memory of Florida political experts — Crist the people person vs. Scott the CEO.

The two campaigns are already pursuing strategies designed to take advantage of, or make up for, their candidates’ differing political personas.

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EX-LG JENNIFER CARROLL DID NOT REPORT INCOME FROM ALLIED VETERANS via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Newly released records show that former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll changed her income tax filings after investigators asked about money she received from a purported veterans charity accused of running an illegal gambling operation.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that Carroll was paid nearly $100,000 by Allied Veterans of the World in 2009 and 2010 but she didn’t report the total on her financial disclosure forms or to the Internal Revenue Service.

Carroll called the omissions an “oversight.” She also said she returned “overpayments” to Allied.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded that Carroll did not commit a crime but forwarded the case to the state’s ethics commission to review.

She resigned in 2013 when the charity investigation became public.

SCOTT COMFORTABLE IN STATE TUITION BILL WILL PASS AFTER IT SUFFERS SENATE SETBACK via Gray Rohrer of the Florida Current

Scott said Tuesday he was “comfortable” legislation offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants would pass the Senate, but later chided the Senate for again blocking the bill.

“We have students here that deserve to get in-state tuition. All of our tuition needs to become more affordable. I’m going to work hard to make sure that happens. I’m comfortable [Senate President Gaetz] and [House Speaker Weatherford] — I’ve spoken to both of them — are going to make sure that happens,” Scott told reporters Tuesday morning.

Scott’s comments came moments after his reelection campaign chairman, Sen. John Thrasher declared an amendment to put the in-state tuition bill into another bill dealing with online education as not germane to the bill. Thrasher has previously supported the measure in earlier committee stops, but Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, Sen. Joe Negron decided last week not to hear the bill in his committee.

Thrasher said he was simply following the rules of the Senate, which do not allow non-germane amendments to be added to underlying bills.

“I did my job. I did my job, and the Governor knows that,” Thrasher said.

The move appeared to kill SB 1400, but Sen. Latvala, tried to offer it as an amendment on SB 1292 before being thwarted by Thrasher.

TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: .@willweatherford, whose daughters are huge fans of Disney’s #Frozen, says hes not ready to #LetItGo re: push for tution break for dreamers

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SCOTT BACKS GROWLER LEGALIZATION via the Associated Press

Gov. Scott supports the legalization of the refillable half-gallon beer containers known as growlers among craft beer lovers.

But Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said whether he signs a bill to allow 64-ounce growler sales at Florida craft breweries is still to be determined.

Breweries can now sell unlimited gallon and quart growlers, but Florida’s odd container laws prohibit the half-gallon size that’s the industry standard in 47 states. Legalizing the half-gallon size is the top priority this legislative session for the booming craft beer industry.

But a Senate bill ties the growler size to more regulation that would hurt the craft beer industry and slow its growth. A House bill would allow 64-ounce growlers with no strings attached.

Scott has repeatedly said he opposes regulations that cost jobs.

GOV. SCOTT, OTHERS RALLY AGAINST SEXUAL PREDATORS via the Miami Herald

Gov. Scott and several prominent lawmakers gathered at the Historic Old Capitol in support of Lauren Book and her annual 1,500-mile walk across the state to promote awareness of sexual abuse.

Scott, attorney general Pam Bondi, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Rep. Matt Gaetz all spoke at the rally. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, Sen. Bill Montford, Rep. Alan Williams and others were also in attendance. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera participated the final mile of the walk.

Book was sexually abused by her live-in nanny for six years before starting the “Walk in My Shoes” initiative in 2010. This year’s walk began in Key West on March 16.

Hundreds of participants flooded the front lawn of the old capitol wearing teal and pink shirts featuring statements of “Why I Walk.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce the results of the 2013 Annual Uniform Crime Report. FDLE Tampa Bay ROC, 4211 North Lois Avenue, Tampa. 10:30 a.m.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will visit and speak with Department of Children and Families Child Protective Investigators in Orlando about his proposed additional funding to protect children. Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families, 601 West Michigan Street, Orlando. 1:30 p.m.

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LATVALA USES PARLIAMENTARY MOVE TO KILL DOG-RACING ‘DECOUPLING’ EFFORT via James Rosica of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

With a one-two parliamentary punch, two leading state senators knocked out an amendment to a bill that would have clamped down on Florida greyhound racing.

The amendment by Sen. Eleanor Sobel would have stopped making dog tracks have races to continue to run more profitable card rooms and have slot machines.

The move is known as “decoupling.” She tried to tack it on to her bill (SB 742) requiring race dog injury and death reporting. Florida and Alabama are the only states that don’t require such reporting.

Suddenly, Latvala — a Clearwater Republican — called for a point of order.

He told chair Joe Negron that the amendment wasn’t germane to the bill and that it violated a “single-subject” requirement.

Negron turned to Rules chair John Thrasher, who agreed with the call. Based on Thrasher’s ruling, Negron then struck the amendment from consideration.

The bill later cleared the committee — without the decoupling language. It should head next to the Senate floor.

SENATE SCALES BACK MAJOR SPRINGS BILL via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Mired in a spat between property owners, the business lobby and local governments, a Senate panel gutted a proposal once hailed as a major step to protect Florida’s dying springs.

In a series of amendments, the Senate Appropriations Committee struck out provisions of the bill, which would have provided about $380 million a year to protecting Florida’s most-endangered springs, prioritizing projects, and setting hard deadlines for when local governments and polluters needed to have plans in place to clean up the waterways.

Senate sponsors Charlie Dean and David Simmons said the measure (SB 1576) still called for “immediate action based off science instead of emotion,” including requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to create “springs management protection zones,” setting minimum flow levels for springs — but not until 2022 — and developing recovery strategies for the most threatened springs.

But cities, counties, some environmentalists, and developers told the panel the policy reforms could not be achieved without a commitment by the state of ongoing funding each year. Both the House and Senate have included between $20 million and $55 million in one-time cash, but future lawmakers would have to keep budgeting it every year.

The original bill required that local governments, the DEP and water-management districts to identify the worst-leaking septic tanks and require their replacement — with the state footing the entire cost. The Legislature three years ago passed a septic-tank-inspection law and later repealed it after property owners and interest groups balked.

The amended version still requires the state and local governments to develop “basin management plans,” which may indicate septic tanks are a problem, in which case critics said the local governments would have to figure out how to clean them up. But they’d have 15 years to clean them up, with no long-term funding mechanism identified.

… DEVOTE $200 MILLION TO UNIVERSITY PERFORMANCE FUNDING

House and Senate budget negotiators have agreed to tie $200 million in funding for the state university system to performance measures, far more than originally proposed by Gov. Scott.

Under the agreement, universities would chip in $100 million of the funding from their existing budgets and receive $100 million in new funding. The money would be sifted through a formula, based on a proposal by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the universities.

Sen. Bill Galvano said lawmakers are trying to decide whether there should be a limit to how much a university can lose if its scores are too low. “The big difference that we have with the House right now is they have a floor on it, and we want real skin in the game for the universities,” Galvano said.

Under the board’s proposal, schools would face a 1 percent reduction in their current funding if they didn’t measure up. Scott had originally called for $80 million in performance funding, including $40 million in new money. Lawmakers have until April 29 to reach an agreement on the state’s spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1.

OTHER PROJECTS RECEIVING FUNDS

Among the projects the House and Senate have agreed to fund include the Historic Fulford Fountain renovation in North Miami Beach, $205,000; economic development offices in China and Japan, $600,000; Space Florida, $6 million; IMG Academy, a student-athlete training center in Bradenton, $2.5 million; Tampa Bay Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House, $50,000; the Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota, $1 million; the gun training range in Palm Bay, $1 million; the Collier County Soft Landing Accelerator, $2.5 million; Miracle League Ballpark in Miami-Dade County, $150,000; St. Johns River Ferry, $1 million; Department of State historic properties maintenance, $500,000; Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, $500,000; Mahaffey Theater improvements, St. Petersburg, $500,000; St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, $400,000; and the Tallahassee Little Theatre, $475,000.

TWEET, TWEET: @Monicalynn850: I gotta say, 13 hours in 5 inch heels is getting to me. I’m thinking of channelling my inner westchester/Hialeah and going barefoot. #ouch

UBER TRIES LAST-DITCH PUSH TO ENTER FLORIDA MARKETS via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

Uber, the hired-car service summoned through a smartphone app, made another push to enter more of the heavily regulated Florida urban market.

The company held a conference call with Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Jamie Grant, two Tampa Bay lawmakers carrying legislation to allow Uber into the Tampa area.

The barrier has been local rules requiring minimum rates and wait times. In Tampa, for instance, limousine drivers have to charge at least $50 and wait one hour before picking up passengers.

“Consumers don’t need protection from a good deal,” said Grant, who had favored a bill reserving regulation power to the state rather than local governments.

The Florida Senate measure now applies only to Hillsborough County, which has the state’s only special commission regulating taxis, limos, tow truck drivers and other transportation for hire.

With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, Brandes’ bill (SB 1618) and Grant’s proposal (HB 1389) are still stuck in committees, and their passage is in doubt.

WEDNESDAY’S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: SPEED LIMITS, E-CIGARETTES, MARRIAGE LICENSES AND THE “POP TART” BILL Full blog post here

Both the House and Senate have floor sessions Wednesday; with the Senate voting on bills including juvenile sentencing guidelines, increasing the speed limits on Florida highways and the “Pop Tart” bill, which would avoid schoolchildren from being disciplined for simulating guns while playing or for wearing clothes depicting firearms or expressing opinions about the Second Amendment. The chamber will also decide on allowing tax-collector offices accept applications for weapons permits.

On the House agenda are a variety of bills — banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, regulations on nursing home litigation, and deleting the provisions to allow issuance of marriage licenses to minors under 16 years of age in certain circumstances.

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BRUTAL COLD IN THE NORTH CHASED RECORD TOURISTS TO FLORIDA via Donna Gehrke-White and Arlene Satchell of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Knee-knocking cold in the north chased a record number of tourists to the Sunshine State in the first three months of the year.

Driven by South Florida, the state set a record for filling hotel rooms, according to figures released Monday.

And in Broward and Palm Beach counties, almost nine of 10 hotel rooms were filled for much of that time, hitting a post-recession high as late as March.

Palm Beach County also collected a record amount of room tax in March.

Statewide, 75.9 percent of hotel rooms were occupied in the first quarter, up from 74 percent in the same period in 2013, said Paul Phipps, chief marketing officer for Visit Florida’s, the state’s tourism agency.

In March, when temperatures finally started to rise up north, hotel occupancy in South Florida still reached just south of 90 percent — a post-recession high, tourist officials said.

Meanwhile, revenue per available room — an important measure for hotels — increased statewide to $109.51 in the quarter, up from $101.47 a year earlier.

FUNGUS THREATENING FLORIDA’S AVOCADO CROP via The Associated Press

A fungus poses a serious threat to Florida’s commercial avocado industry, which is worth $55 million to the state economy.

The laurel wilt fungus was first detected in northeast Florida’s Duval County in 2005. It moved rapidly through the state, striking Florida’s commercial production area in south Miami-Dade County in March 2012.

Officials say since then, more than 3,000 trees found to be infested have been destroyed. That represents only a small fraction of the state’s 650,000-tree commercial stock.

The Lakeland Ledger reports that the only way to halt the disease is to destroy a tree once the fungus is detected. It’s a process that’s costly in terms of sampling, testing and disposal.

STUDY: FLORIDA GETS A HEALTHY ECONOMIC BOOST FROM DOCTORS via Margie Manning of the Tampa Bay Business Journal

Florida physicians make a significant impact on the state’s economy.

That’s the conclusion of  a report released by the American Medical Association that shows doctors nationwide have a huge influence on national and state economic activity.

In Florida, there are about 43,111 patient care physicians, who support more than 528,732 jobs directly and indirectly. The average number of jobs supported by each physician, including his or her own, is 12.3, the study said.

Total sales revenue generated by the physicians industry in Florida is $76.4 billion, or 9.8 percent of the total gross state product. The industry supports some $40.2 billion in wages and benefits in Florida, and pays $2.3 billion in local and state sales taxes.

Only California, New York and Texas have more doctors than Florida, the AMA study said.

Nationally, patient care physicians contribute $1.6 trillion in economic activity and supported 10 million jobs nationwide in 2012.

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HD 74 CANDIDATE JULIO GONZALEZ  BENEFITED AFTER GIVING TO WASSERMAN SCHULTZ via Tom Lauder of Media Trackers

Republican House candidate Julio Gonzalez personally benefited from Democratic politics after giving a donation to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Gonzalez has attempted to explain his 2008 campaign donation to the Florida Democratic congresswoman and Democratic National Committee chair by claiming he sought access to Wasserman Schultz to fight Obamacare. A closer look at the facts indicates a stronger likelihood Gonzalez was simply attempting to pad his own pocket through government Medicare payments.

Gonzalez, a Venice orthopedic surgeon, seeks the District 74 seat in the Florida House of Representatives. Last week, an exclusive Media Trackers Florida investigation exposed Gonzalez’ attempts to paint his April 2008 political contribution to Wasserman Schultz as a fight against Obamacare. His contribution came months before Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States and long before Congress crafted Obamacare.

Federal Election Commission records show Julio Gonzalez gave a $500 contribution to Debbie Wasserman Schultz on April 28, 2008. Gonzalez told local Republican groups he made the donation to facilitate a meeting with Wasserman Schultz in which he could voice his concerns about Obamacare. Gonzalez made the donation more than two years before Congress passed Obamacare.

After detailing his meeting with Wasserman Schultz, Gonzalez told Republican members about the role Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) played in the creation of Obamacare. According to Gonzalez, Obamacare included a provision that he described as the “permanent solution of the SGR.” He said, “The SGR is the formula that is used to pay doctors for Medicare.” Gonzalez said SGR was put in place in 1992 after reports a doctor used his Medicare payments to buy a new Trans Am. He said there needs to be a “happy medium.”

Gonzalez complained the SGR formula was not keeping pace with inflation and higher healthcare costs.

“Every year the doctors get together with Congress,” Gonzalez said, “Please, can you please fix SGR. Could you please fix SGR.

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JAMES MADISON INSTITUTE ANNUAL DINNER “LIVE FREE OR MOVE…TO FLORIDA” TONIGHT

Tonight, The James Madison Institute will host the 2014 JMI Annual Dinner “Live Free or Move…to Florida” featuring Wall Street Journal contributor and Heritage Foundation Chief Economist Stephen Moore and author of “How Money Walks” Travis Brown in a revealing presentation of their just-released book “Wealth of States.”

Following their presentation, Senate President Gaetz and House Speaker Weatherford will join in a casual conversation to recapture the memorable moments of their leadership tenure.

The event will be at the Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center in Tallahassee. The VIP reception starts at 6 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m. Tickets on sale now. Visit here for more information.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Crowdsourced Political Lobbying, For the People, By the People” via Scott Blankenship

FACEBOOK, APPLE Q1 FEDERAL LOBBYING HIT NEW RECORDS (AGAIN) via POLITICO’s Morning Tech

A couple key figures from the last batch of first-quarter lobby filings that landed Monday: Facebook spent an unprecedented $2.8 million in the first three months of the year, while Apple broke the $1 million mark for the first time ever. For Facebook, the filing – which eclipses their first-quarter spend from a year ago ($2.45 million) and crushes their 2013 fourth-quarter effort of $1.5 million – covers most of the full spectrum of issues on tech firms’ plate: privacy, immigration, patents, cybersecurity, surveillance reform, tax issues, and trade.

Apple’s $1.07 million effort in the first quarter slides past its previous largest amount of $990,000 in the last quarter of 2013, and is a solid jump from $720,000 a year ago. It continued to expand its efforts on a range of issues, too: patents, tax, spectrum, and privacy, to name a few. More lobbying numbers below the jump.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Stuart Brown, SKB Consulting Group: Amplify Education

Nicole Fried, Trevor Mask, Meredith Snowden, Katie Webb, Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate & Webb PA: Gray Insurance Company

Brian Jogerst, BH & Associates: Florida Association of Pediatric Surgeons

Jerry Paul, Jamie Miller, Robert Shave, Capitol Energy Florida: VISTA Truth, Inc

Margaret Timmins: Teamsters Joint Council 75 & Affiliates

YOU COULD SOON USE BITCOIN TO DONATE TO POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS via CNNMoney.com

The Federal Election Commission will consider a request Wednesday that could open the floodgates for donors to make political contributions in Bitcoin in the upcoming mid-term elections.

It’s a sign of increased acceptance of the upstart currency, as more businesses and individuals are starting to embrace Bitcoin payments as an alternative to credit cards.

If the panel rules in favor, it would be a turnaround from last fall, when the election commission deadlocked on a similar request.

… Since there’s no law that currently prevents the use of Bitcoin in elections, a handful of candidates and political groups say they’re already accepting Bitcoin.

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2014 TWITTER GAME: ADVANTAGE GOP

The Washington Post‘s Christopher Ingraham crunches the numbers on congressional Twitter accounts and comes up with some interesting findings: 1: Republicans have more followers than Democrats: “The median Republican House member has 6,872 Twitter followers, while the median Democrat has 6,015, a difference of about 13 percent. Republican Senators enjoy an even wider advantage – 23,252 followers versus 19,429 for Democrats, a gap of 17.9 percent. Considering that Democrats hold a technological advantage over Republicans in many realms, these gaps are fairly surprising. …

3. House Republicans tweet more than House Democrats, but Senate Democrats tweet the most: “The median House Republican has tweeted 1,282 times, while the median House Democrat has only 986 tweets to their name – a 26 percent difference. But it’s a different story in the Senate, where the median Democratic tweet count is 1,792 compared to the Republicans’ 1,605.”

4. Seven of the top 10 most-followed legislators are Republicans: “With 1.9 million followers, Sen. John McCain is Twitter’s reigning king of the Hill. He has about 400,000 more followers than the No. 2 legislator, Sen.Cory Booker. House Speaker John A. Boehner comes in third with 640,000, followed by Marco Rubio at 595,000. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Paul Ryan fill slots five through seven. Sen. Ted Cruz and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Eric Cantor round out the top 10.

Ingraham acknowledged that members often had multiple Twitter accounts and that he used the one that appeared the most active. But Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) might object to being ranked dead last among his colleagues with just 921 followers. In fact, at his campaign handle, @jontester, he had close to 9,000 followers. Similarly, the author used Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office account (5,318 followers) rather than her personal account, @clairecmc (100,000). He also chose to go with Rep. Paul Ryan ‘s office account (371,000 followers) vs. the one he used as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, @PRyan (590,000).

CONTEXT FLORIDA: CLOSED DOOR GOVERNING, PUBLIC-SCHOOL FIGHT, HEALTHCARE COVERAGE AND MILLENNIALS

On Context Florida: There is a disturbing pattern of the administration of Gov. Scott acting behind closed doors and out of view of the public says Mark FerruloJulie Delegal does not expect former Gov. Crist to fight the public-school fight during this gubernatorial campaign. But she does think he needs to know why education advocates are battling so hard for Florida’s public schools against some of the Jeb Bush-era reforms, such as high-stakes testing, school grades, and privatization. While more Americans may be getting insurance under Obamacare, Steve Kurlander notes that they are paying more out of pocket for such coverage. Responding to a recent New York Times article focusing on how relatively few “young people” who supported the Obama’s campaigns will go on to enter electoral politics, Ed Moore discovers that Millennials are not distracted and unfocused. On the contrary, it is better to offer guidance to community activists than to be one.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

THE UPSHOT DEBUTS via David Leonhardt of the New York Times

 “[W]e believe many people don’t understand the news as well as they would like. They want to grasp big, complicated stories – Obamacare, inequality, political campaigns, the real-estate and stock markets – so well that they can explain the whys and hows of those stories to their friends, relatives and colleagues. … We’ll be conversational without being dumbed down. … We will not hesitate to make analytical judgments about why something has happened and what is likely to happen …

“Data-based reporting used to be mostly a tool for investigative journalists who could spend months sorting through reams of statistics … But the world now produces so much data, and personal computers can analyze it so quickly, that data-based reporting deserves to be a big part of the daily news cycle. One of our highest priorities will be unearthing data sets … in ways that illuminate and, yes, explain the news. … A graphic can often accomplish that goal better than prose can. … The staff of The Upshot is filled with people who love to learn new things. That’s why we became journalists.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to St. Petersburg City Councilman Jim Kennedy.

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.