Sunburn for 4/3 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

FIRST AND FOREMOST … TallyMadness brackets are set and voting begins today! Visit TallyMadness.com to cast your ballot.

BEHIND THE OBAMACARE SURPRISE via Edward-Isaac Dovere and Carrie Budoff Brown of POLITICO

[O]n Feb. 11, [actor Bradley] Cooper was at the White House for the state dinner [and] met with … Valerie Jarrett… to brainstorm … how to help get the word out on Obamacare. Enlisting the website Funny or Die had come up before, … but Cooper was pushing hard for them to think about ‘Between Two Ferns,’ the mock-interview web show hosted by … Zach Galifianakis. … The next day, at the end of a non-Obamacare briefing in the Oval Office, Jarrett, communications director Jennifer Palmieri and press secretary Jay Carney made the pitch [to POTUS]. Obama had never heard of the show before, but he liked the idea. …

Administration officials don’t know if Obama ever clicked the links they sent him to previous shows. They don’t know how he stayed so calm trading insults with Galifianakis. But they know what happened next: 11 million views of the video, and Healthcare.gov showed a 40 percent spike in traffic from the day before. … [The campaign over the last six weeks included] more than 300 radio appearances by the president and others in the administration, 5,000 events on the ground and 33 million views on the specialized online content they produced.

Most of what the administration had been doing was far from Washington and not aimed at the D.C. press corps. But ‘Between Two Ferns’ and all the attention it generated got people talking, and the resulting numbers shook many of the Beltway doubters into thinking that the White House could actually drive traffic and positive word of mouth on Obamacare. …

Obama’s first enrollment selling appearance came on Houston’s Madd Hatta morning show at the beginning of February. The day before, Palmieri and senior health care communications adviser Tara McGuinness went to the Oval Office to brief Obama. ‘You address him,’ Palmieri said, ‘as Mista Madd.’

TWEET, TWEET: @jmartNYT: Rubio confirms he won’t run for re-elect in ’16 if he runs for prez

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EXCHANGE OF THE DAY

During yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing on Benghazi, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney questioned former CIA Acting Director Mike Morell on the decision not to send a military response during the attack, and asked what steps can be taken to prevent future attacks.

“What can Americans expect (us to do) in the future, should something like this happen again, to avoid it? What can the people on the ground in these places expect when they go and serve?” Rooney asked.

“I think you’ve asked the most important question,” Morell responded.

Rooney also questioned the decision not to send a military response to try to save American lives during the attack.

“We were told there wasn’t enough time for a military response to get there, but the question I continue to have, and we need answered to keep our agents and embassies safe, is: How did they know when it was going to end? What if it went on for another eight to 10 to 12 more hours? For the sake of people like this in the future, knowing that nobody is coming from the United States of America, is very concerning to me.”

The full exchange is available here.

SUPREME COURT LOOSENS REINS ON BIG CAMPAIGN DONORS via Mark Sherman of the Associated Press

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority voted to free wealthy donors to give to as many political candidates and campaigns as they want, further loosening the reins on giving by big contributors as the 2014 campaign moves into high gear.

It was a fresh declaration by the 5-4 majority that many limits on big-money contributions violate the givers’ constitutional free-speech rights, continuing a steady erosion of the restrictions under Chief Justice John Roberts. The biggest of those rulings was the 2010 decision in the Citizens United case that lifted restrictions on independent spending by corporations and labor unions.

The ruling voided the overall federal limit on individuals’ contributions — $123,200 in 2013 and 2014 — and may have more symbolic than substantive importance in a world in which millions in unlimited donations from liberal and conservative spenders already are playing a major role in campaigns.

The ruling will allow the wealthiest contributors to pour millions of dollars into candidate and party coffers, although those contributions will be subject to disclosure under federal law, unlike much of the big money that independent groups spend on attack ads.

The early beneficiaries could be the political parties, which have lost influence amid the rise of independent spending, and challengers who may have been cut off from getting money from wealthy contributors who previously hit the cap that the court invalidated.

KEY LINE FROM JUDGE ROBERTS’ OPINION: “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause—it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”

DEMOCRATIC DUDGEON: NELSON, HOUSE MEMBERS BLAST SUPREME COURT’S CAMPAIGN FINANCE RULING via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down limits on the total amount of federal campaign contributions a donor can give, prompting criticism from Democrats.

Sen. Bill Nelson: “The most conservative justices on our nation’s High Court have once again sided not with hard-working Americans but this time with the wealthiest of political contributors. As a result, some of our government offices and public policies could end up being bought by the highest bidder.”

Rep. Ted Deutch:“This terrible decision only compounds the damage of Citizens United and will further erode the American people’s faith in the ability of their elected leaders to stand up against billionaires and special interests. It is a dark day for our democracy when the Supreme Court dramatically increases the influence of the super-rich over our elections and government. We are headed down a dangerous path where the voices of average American citizens are effectively drowned out.”

FLORIDA HOUSE SPEAKER TAKES A VICTORY LAP: “As I firmly stated during last year’s debate over campaign finance reform, I believe limits on campaign contributions are limits on free speech,” said Speaker Will Weatherford. “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.  Last year, Florida took a first step toward reflecting this new reality by passing reforms with more transparency and accountability in campaign spending that also acknowledge Floridians’ first amendment rights.”

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AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY LAUNCHES VIDEO THANKING STEVE SOUTHERLAND FOR OBAMACARE STANCE Full blog post here

Americans for Prosperity is releasing a video thanking U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland for his strong position against the Affordable Care Act.

The spot, which will be running across the Florida Panhandle, praises the Panama City Republican for his effort to “bring accountability to lawmakers for their positions on Obamacare.” Southerland, the two-term congressman from Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, has opposed the ACA since its inception in 2009.

DCCC LAUNCHES ‘BATTLEGROUND: MIDDLE CLASS’ AD AGAINST CONGRESSMAN SOUTHERLAND’S REPUBLICAN BUDGET

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching the first phase of a sweeping nationwide paid effort – “Battleground: Middle Class” – to communicate with voters in Florida that Southerland’s new Republican budget is selling out the middle class in favor of  special interests and the ultra-wealthy.

The “Battleground: Middle Class”‎ project will reach voters through paid advertising, efforts to connect them to their representatives and field efforts in their neighborhoods and at their homes.

Congressman Southerland and House Republicans’ new budget was unveiled Tuesday, and highlights include: raising taxes on middle class families, ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors and turning Medicare into a voucher program, and costing our economy 1.1 million jobs next year alone – all while heaping tax breaks on corporations that ship jobs overseas.

GWEN GRAHAM MARKS ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HER CAMPAIGN Letter here

… MEANWHILE, DCCC CHAIR SAYS THERE’S A ‘TOUGH CLIMATE’ via Alex Roarty of National Journal

Rep. Steve Israel said things aren’t looking great for House Democrats right now, and declined to predict whether the party could win the House in November.

DEMOCRATS’ MIDTERM BLUES, IN ONE GRAPH View here

Even with Obama’s low approval rating, Democrats would have a 70 percent chance of keeping the Senate if this were a presidential election. As it stands now, they have a 10 percent chance.

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JOHN MORGAN FIRST FUNDRAISER FOR CHARLIE CRIST TONIGHT! Invite here

To date, there is one glaring omission from the list of contributors to Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign: Attorney John Morgan.

Despite being billed as Crist’s “top cheerleader,” Morgan has yet to contribute to Crist’s political committee. Nor has Morgan yet hosted a fundriser for his employee, which, technically Crist is.

That changes tonight.

Morgan is hosting a fundraiser for Crist in Orlando, just at the gubernatorial race is entering an interesting phase with Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign taking on water, while Crist seems to have found his sea legs after three years off the campaign trail.

The event hosted by Morgan begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday. It takes place at Church Street Station (255 Garland Avenue) in Orlando. The suggested contribution is $3,000.

PHILANTHROPIST DAVID STRAZ ENDORSES CRIST via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

David Straz, a retired banker and one of Tampa Bay’s most prominent philanthropists, endorsed Crist for governor Wednesday.

I intend to support him in a big way,” Straz, a Republican and former Rick Scott supporter, said inside the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.

“It is the responsibility of each of us to give back to our communities,” said Straz, who has contributed an estimated $25 million to the Performing Arts Center. “Unfortunately some outsiders come to Florida and just take. Rick Scott took from Floridians as a CEO and he is still taking from out state. He took away high-speed transportation and jobs from the city of Tampa. He wanted to take away $4.8 billion from education and he took away access to affordable health care for 1.1 million Floridians.”

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RPOF’S CURRY CALLS INCIDENT WITH MAJOR DONOR “UNFORTUNATE” via Gary Fineout of the Fine Print

As the swirl of punches – and counter-punches – have surrounded the re-election campaign of Gov. Scott in the last 10 days there’s one person who hasn’t said much up to now.

That’s Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

Curry for his part has a slightly different take from some others in “Scott world” on the entire Mike Fernandez episode.

He spoke in glowing terms about Fernandez, saying he was an integral part in helping both the campaign and the Republican Party raise money this past quarter.

Curry called Fernandez’s emails expressing concern about the campaign part of an “internal” discussion and dialogue.

Curry said he remained “grateful” for the work Fernandez did and said “it’s unfortunate he felt frustrated” about how the campaign was running.

As for the incident that Fernandez said showed cultural insensitivity, Curry said that if he had evidence that it took place those responsible would be fired.

IN INTERNAL EMAIL, MIKE FERNANDEZ EMPLOYEES TOLD THEIR JOBS WERE “VERY POSSIBLY” CREATED BY RICK SCOTT POLICIES via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

In a December email, the roughly 600 employees working for a company founded by Mike Fernandez … were given a clear message about the governor’s economic policy.

“Your own job might very possibly be the result of this current commitment to job creation.”

It was sent by Cristina Pinckney, human resources director for Simply Healthcare, a company founded by Fernandez, who did not return a request seeking comment. He remains its controlling shareholder.

The internal company emai is littered with glowing remarks about Scott, including talking-points similar to those used on the campaign trail

The email said employees could be “the first to know” about “exciting news” that was set to be announced on the December 20. That day, Scott’s office announced that the state’s unemployment rate had fallen to 6.4 percent.

The email also told employees to “sign up here to stay informed,” words that included an embedded link.  It’s unclear what the linke was to, but news releases announcing jobs numbers are sent out by Scott’s office monthly.

SCOTT’S DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TIM SALER, OFFERS A PEEK UNDER THE RE-ELECT’S HOOD Full blog post here

When Gov. Scott met last month with his supporters at The Fish House, his deputy campaign manager, Tim Saler, said the governor’s re-election campaign was going to be data driven.

Saler said the campaign would bypass the media and communicate directly with the voters. The campaign will promote Scott’s record of success and achievement. Scott will win the election because of his forward-thinking campaign team and record-setting finance team.

The message is “the job isn’t done.”

To target the voters most likely to vote for Scott, the campaign has set up a sophisticated data collection system that uses “billions of data points,” including consumer-marketing data. Every registered voter has been given a score on his likelihood for voting for the governor. Those with the highest scores will be targeted, according to Saler.

The campaign will use micro-targeting to focus on which voter it needs to get to the polls. Voter surveys will identity likely voters who need more information to vote for Scott.

Saler is a campaign veteran. He has served as deputy executive director for political strategy for the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), responsible for guiding RPOF efforts on voter data, targeting, analytics and voter contact programs. Before that, he was the executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party. Saler was also regional field director for Chris Christie’s gubernatorial campaign in South Jersey.

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GOV. SCOTT OK’S TAG FEE ROLLBACK, CALLS OUT CRIST AT SIGNING CEREMONY via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

A Capitol bill-signing had the air of a partisan rally Wednesday as Gov. Scott signed a bill to roll back some auto tag fees to pre-2009 levels, while repeatedly reminding his audience that former Gov. Charlie Crist approved them.

Scott made it clear the lower tag fees will be a centerpiece of his re-election strategy against Crist, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor along with former Sen. Nan Rich of Weston (who, like most legislators in office at the time, voted for the higher fees).

Crist was a Republican governor at the time and is now Scott’s leading Democratic opponent. Left unsaid by Scott was that every Republican legislator but one also supported the fee increases, including Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. A former Miami-Dade legislator, he was a House majority whip at the time and responsible for locking down GOP majorities on key legislation.

DEM PUSHBACK: “These auto tag fees were always a temporary measure that Rick Scott should have cut as soon as possible, and Democrats have consistently supported repeal.  Instead, Rick Scott waited until his election year to conduct a phony victory lap. Once again, Rick Scott has put his personal political advancement over the needs of Florida’s middle class,” said FDP spokesman Joshua Karp.

PIC DU JOUR here — GovScott celebrated the annual Miami-Dade County Days and ceremoniously served paella, a classic Spanish rice dish, with Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Commissioner Adam Putnam. Miami-Dade County Days is an annual event in Tallahassee to embrace the diverse culture and history in South Florida and throughout the State.

SCOTT ADMINISTRATION BACKTRACKS ON TALK BY FSU PROF DIANE ROBERTS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Secretary of State Ken Detzner apologized to FSU professor Diane Roberts and issued a statement that she can speak “on the topic of her choosing.” Detzner also said he wants to find out “if everything was handled appropriately” after learning that an agency employee resigned in protest over the incident.

Roberts, an author and commentator who also writes opinion articles for the Tampa Bay Times, is a frequent critic of Scott’s policies. She had been invited to speak Thursday at the state-run Mission San Luis on a favorite topic, the deterioration of Florida’s lakes, rivers and springs.

But last week a spokeswoman for Detzner, Brittany Lesser, said that an “internal decision” was made to cancel Roberts’ talk because it did not directly relate to Mission San Luis’ emphasis on historical resources.

Roberts said she was amused by the controversy but appreciated Detzner’s call Wednesday.

“He was as nice as he could be. He also told me about 400 times how much he values water,” Roberts said.

SCOTT’S BLIND TRUST DEVIATES FROM U.S. MODEL; FLORIDA LAW OMITS FEDERAL SAFEGUARDS via Dan Christensen of BrowardBulldog.com

When Florida’s Commission on Ethics OK’d Gov. Rick Scott’s blind trust last September it acted after being told by the governor’s lawyers that it was “modeled on the blind trust of the federal Office of Government Ethics.”

But the governor’s blind trust – packed with more than $70 million in Scott’s stocks, bonds and other financial assets – deviates substantially from the federal model.

BrowardBulldog.org compared Florida’s qualified blind trust statute, signed into law by Gov. Scott last May 1, with parallel federal regulations and found that Florida’s law omits more than a dozen federal requirements intended “to assure true blindness.”

“At first blush, the Florida qualified blind trust legislation appears to be a significant step forward,” said Jan Jacobowitz, director of the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program at the University of Miami School of Law. “However, upon closer examination it becomes apparent that it lacks many significant federal safeguards. Without them, Florida’s law cannot render public officials fully accountable for potential and actual conflicts of interest.”

Perhaps the starkest difference between the federal and state rules is in who is allowed to serve as a trustee of a blind trust.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make a transportation announcement at the Daytona International Speedway, Bill France Room, 1801 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach at 10:00 a.m., then another one regarding I-75 in Tampa at the FDOT Tampa District Office, 11201 North Malcolm McKinley Drive, Tampa at 2:30 p.m.

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EPILOGUE TO APRIL FOOLS’ DAY: Funny video of Rep. Ritch Worman calling on “Buck Nekkid” to testify. Watch here.

HOUSE APPROVES ALL-STAR GAME TAX BREAKS

With no debate, the House unanimously approved a proposal (HB 231) that would offer a sales-tax exemption for admissions to Major League Soccer all-star games that would be held in Florida. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Brodeur would expand an admissions-tax exemption that already applies to events such as all-star games hosted by Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Football League. Also, the bill would clarify that events surrounding NBA all-star games are exempt from the tax.

The Senate version (SB 330) of the bill is ready to go to the full Senate.

GAETZ PUSHES OPEN RECORDS BILL, BUT FOR WHOSE BENEFIT? via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate President Gaetz is no ally of trial lawyers.

Since joining the Legislature in 2006, Gaetz has consistently tried to limit damage awards, which also limits lawyers’ fees.

Just last year, the Panhandle Republican, who made his fortune in the hospice industry, supported a bill shielding hospitals from liability and limiting expert witness testimony in medical malpractice cases.

But this year, Gaetz’s priorities include SB 1648, which could improve business for attorneys specializing in public records law suits, a group that includes a person close to Gaetz.

His son, Rep. Matt Gaetz.

“Matt Gaetz has gained public notice as an attorney leading fights for open government,” his website states. “When politicians and bureaucrats violated the public records laws, Matt took them to court and held government accountable.”

GAMBLING OVERHAUL? IT’S ON ‘LIFE SUPPORT,’ LAWMAKER SAYS via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

A long-expected statewide gambling overhaul is on “life support” in the Legislature, according to the chair of the Florida Senate’s gambling committee.

But Garrett Richter, the Naples Republican who also is the Senate president pro tempore, said that he still holds out the proverbial glimmer of hope.

“But the compact is the key,” Richter said, referring to the Seminole Compact, a gambling revenue-sharing deal between the Seminole Tribe and the state that must be renegotiated.

Speaker Weatherford has conditioned passage of any major gambling-related legislation in his chamber this year on completion of a renegotiated compact.

The compact guaranteed income to the state – $1 billion over five years – from the tribe’s gambling revenue in return for the ability to exclusively offer blackjack and other card games at locations including Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The card-game provision expires in mid-2015.

LATVALA: STILL WORKING ON IMMIGRANT TUITION COMPROMISE via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Jack Latvala misspoke when he said he would take the House version of the immigrant tuition bill, he said Wednesday.

Latvala said he had been misinformed about several provisions in the House bill. For example, he said, he did not realize the House version allowed all colleges and universities to raise tuition 6 percent over the rate set by the legislature.

He also has lingering concerns with language in the House bill that designates some students as “nonresident for tuition purposes.”

Latvala said he and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg would be working on a new version of the Senate bill (SB 1400) this week. They will likely propose a compromise on the tuition differential that would allow two universities to raise tuition, he said.

PRESS RELEASE I DID NOT READ: “We are the 89%” via the Workers Committee

BUDGETS TAKE TOP PRIORITY IN BOTH FLORIDA CHAMBERS THURSDAY Full blog post here

Budgets are on the minds of Florida legislators, as both the House and Senate are in session Thursday to approve each chamber’s spending plan before the final negotiations begin.

In addition, the House will vote on changes in state employee retirement plans, Medicaid rate calculations an omnibus economic bill that, among other things, sets up back-to-school, hurricane preparedness and the Energy Star & WaterSense product tax-free holidays.

The Senate will convene to also debate the budget, as well as vote to regulate commercial parasailing operations, restrict nursing home litigation and tighten penalties for child pornography.

TWEET, TWEET: @JimmyPatronis: Don’t forget tomorrow is #bowtie Thursday.

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A BILLION-DOLLAR BRACELET IS THE KEY TO A DISNEY PARK via Brooks Barnes of the New York Times

Walt Disney World has spent more than a year rolling out a $1 billion system that changes how visitors do everything from enter their hotel rooms to ride Space Mountain.

So it has gone with MyMagic+, an ambitious effort to make Disney World more profitable by making its 30 million annual visitors happier. The multifaceted system has taken longer to introduce than expected as Disney has confronted an array of daunting complexities: training 70,000 employees, equipping 28,000 hotel room doors with radio frequency readers, prompting guests to wear data-collecting electronic wristbands.

Disney has been vague about when investors can expect returns — to the frustration of a few analysts — but there are signals that the system is finally ready to roll. As it prepares for the peak summer season, Disney recently started to market the service with national TV ads and quirky online videos. On Monday, Disney began allowing all visitors to use the system; previously, only Disney hotel guests and annual pass holders had access.

For Disney, a $143 billion entertainment conglomerate, the new system is one of its most important initiatives. Aside from the project’s sheer scale, theme parks have emerged as a growth business even in a bumpy economy, and Disney feels an urgency to use technology to improve its offerings, particularly as younger consumers come to demand it.

Disney wants to keep people from visiting competing Central Florida parks, including Comcast’s Universal Orlando Resort, and it thinks preplanning is one answer. Disney guests will be urged to use a website called My Disney Experience to begin locking in the particulars of their visits long before leaving for Orlando. (Adjustments can be made during the visit using a related smartphone app.)

FPL PROPOSES VOLUNTARY SOLAR PILOT PROGRAM; CUSTOMERS COULD CHOOSE TO PAY $9 A MONTH via Susan Salisbury of the Palm Beach Post

Florida Power & Light Co. customers who want to support more solar power would have a chance to do so under a proposal the company filed with the Florida Public Service Commission.

Customers would pay $9 a month for three years in the voluntary pilot program that must be approved by the PSC. It would place as many as 25 commercial-scale solar arrays throughout FPL’s territory — each roughly 10 to 15 times larger than a typical residential rooftop installation — for an estimated total of up to 2,400 kilowatts (2.4 megawatts) depending on customer participation.

The average cost for a homeowner to install a rooftop solar system is $30,000 to $40,000. The bottom line is, most people can’t afford it.

Under the proposed program, single-family homeowners as well as people who live in apartments or condominiums would be able to do their share to advance solar energy in Florida, Silagy said. People who choose not to participate will not be charged.

As an additional incentive to encourage enrollment during the three-year pilot period, Juno Beach-based FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy Inc., will contribute $200,000 a year to non-profit organizations such as the Everglades Foundation, Save the Manatee Club and the Florida chapters of the National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy. Customers will be able to select their preferred organization from a list.

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IN HD 40 RACE, JOHN SHANNON RECEIVES ENDORSEMENT OF STATE ATTORNEY

Lakeland Attorney and Marine Force Recon veteran John Hugh Shannon announced that State Attorney Jerry Hill endorsed his campaign for State House. Hill, in announcing his support, said:

“John Shannon’s personal story is one of sacrifice, determination, and service. He has worn the uniform and served honorably in the United States Marine Corps – including the elite Force Recon Unit. He has served our community in Lakeland for decades. From charity work to protecting the rights of our citizens, I am proud to support someone so committed to truth, justice, and the rule of law. I look forward to working with him to ensure our kids are protected, our Constitutional rights are secured, and our State prospers.”

VAL DEMINGS QUALIFIES BY PETITION FOR ORANGE COUNTY MAYOR

Val Demings has enough valid signatures to qualify by petition for the Orange County Mayoral Election; beating incumbent Teresa Jacobs in the race to qualify for the August ballot. More than 7,000 supporters signed petitions to get Val Demings on the ballot giving her the 6,907 needed to qualify. This early move gives Demings grassroots momentum to continue her robust campaign.

Demings has continued to show outstanding local support for her campaign and will continue to capitalize on this early advantage over incumbent Teresa Jacobs. By avoiding the fee to qualify and utilizing the petition method, Val Demings will now build on this early momentum and support to take her message to the voters. She is launching her field campaign with volunteers this weekend with a Day of Action.

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: EPA & BP, DIANE ROBERTS, RESEARCHING POT AND COLLEGE STUDENT FOOD INSECURITY

On Context Florida: The Environmental Protection Agency lifting the ban on BP as they did in March, to Rick Outzen is like granting a pardon to a serial killer. Bob Sparks writes that the Florida Department of State’s cancellation of a lecture by Florida State University Professor Diane Roberts elevated an under-the-radar lecture to a statewide cause celebre. If the Legislature genuinely wants to make medical marijuana an issue,Barney Bishop thinks they should make it legal for research purposes. Some college students face food insecurity and can barely afford to eat, says Shannon Nickinson. What does it say about the middle class that six of this state’s universities need food pantries to help students get by?

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS 

Capitol Insight and Peebles & Smith are hosting an Open House on Monday, April 7 at their offices at 301 S. Bronough Street. The soiree begins at 5:00 p.m.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to GOP activist Billy Schmidt.

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.