A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
IS IT SUNBURN OR IS ‘THE ‘BURN’: “Read the BURN! I find myself reading it every morning! Love it!” — Andrea Penton
STARTING THE DAY: “You help start up my day with a great snapsot of the political scene in Florida.” — Carlos Cruz
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY
A compilation of Florida elected officials’ and politicians’ tributes for Memorial Day is here.
Gov. Rick Scott plans to attend a Memorial Day ceremony a day early, heading on Sunday to Sarasota National Cemetery.
FLORIDA ONE OF SEVEN STATES VIEWED AS A TOSS-UP
An Associated Press analysis concludes that if the presidential election were today, President Obama would likely win 247 electoral votes to Romney’s 206 — both short of the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
Seven states, offering a combined 85 electoral votes, are viewed as too close to give either candidate a meaningful advantage: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia.
Checking in with Jason Walton, Co-chair of Presidential debate at Lynn University: “Our little campus is running full tilt right now. Just over 150 days until October 22!!! Doing substantial site work and construction over the summer. The whole campus looks like a Roosevelt-era Works Progress Administration project.”
ACTUAL HEADLINE ON THE HUFFINGTON POST: Will conservative voters’ ‘orgasms’ make Marco Rubio’s ‘impossible dream’ a reality? Story here.
MORE DEETS ON RUBIO’S BOOK TOUR
Sen. Marco Rubio “is planning a swing-state summer bus tour that will also roll through South Carolina, the early presidential primary battleground,” the Miami Herald reports.
“It’s officially aimed at selling books, not winning votes, but the freshman senator and possible vice presidential pick is set to make multiple stops not just in his home state of Florida but also in North Carolina and Virginia, critical presidential battlegrounds this fall. On the way, he’ll make several appearances in South Carolina, where Republicans hold their first-in-the-South presidential primary.”
An American Son will be released in June.
PAM BONDI TIES THE KNOT
Attorney General Pam Bondi was in the Cayman Islands on Saturday to celebrate her upcoming marriage to Tampa ophthalmologist Greg Henderson.
Rick Scott and former Tampa mayor Dick Greco and his wife, Linda, were among guests at Saturday’s gathering in the islands.
“We’re here with our closest friends and family, celebrating our upcoming nuptials,” Bondi told a Tampa Tribune reporter Saturday. “Legally, officially we will be married back in the United States.”
THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT YOU, TALLAHASSEE
What makes some state capitals so much more corrupt than others? New research provides a partial answer to that long-standing question: isolated capitals breed more corruption and lack of news coverage is a major reason why, reports David Lauter of the Los Angelas Times.
STATE REVENUE UP IN APRIL
Florida’s general-revenue collections in April topped an earlier projection by $51.4 million, according to a report posted this week by the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research. The April report marked the fourth straight month that collections have exceeded the amounts projected in January by state analysts. In all, the state is $202.4 million above projections for the year.
NORMAL HURRICANE SEASON EXPECTED
This year’s hurricane season is expected to be normal in the Atlantic and Caribbean basins, the federal government said this week. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center said there’s a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms, four to eight of which are expected to become hurricanes – about the average over the last few decades. It would be a return to a more normal summer after a few active years. “NOAA’s outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years,” said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. “But regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.” Forecasters cautioned that if an El Nino warming pattern develops in late summer, conditions would change – keeping the season even quieter.
ORGANIZATIONS CHALLENGE UNEMPLOYMENT CHANGES
A pair of organizations who advocate for unemployed Floridians say a state law passed last year makes it too difficult for people without work to get unemployment benefits. In a filing with the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services blasted changes to the process for applying for or receiving benefits, including the requirement of a 45-question test. “Under the federal-state unemployment insurance program, states have an obligation to ensure that involuntarily unemployed workers who meet basic eligibility criteria are able to access benefits that provide temporary partial wage replacement between jobs,” the groups said, asking the federal agency to review the claims. “Florida is no longer fulfilling that obligation.” Lawmakers approved the changes in 2011 in what supporters promoted as an effort to make the unemployment system more solvent.
GARY SIPLIN PAYING $3K FINE TO FLORIDA ELECTIONS COMMISSION
The Florida Elections Commission in August likely will consider a settlement that would lead to Sen. Gary Siplin paying a $3,000 fine because of missing information on campaign-finance reports and an excessive contribution from a phosphate-industry group.
The case, which stems from Siplin’s 2008 re-election campaign, had been scheduled to go before an administrative law judge June 7. But attorneys filed a document this week requesting that the case be sent back to the elections commission because a settlement had been reached.
ADAM SMITH’S LOSERS OF THE WEEK IN FLA. POLITICS: The Tampa Bay Times‘ political editor did not name a Winner of the Week in Florida politics, but he did name two Losers: Governor Rick Scott for embarrassing an entire state while visiting Spain and Hillsborough Co. Property Appraiser Rob Turner for embarrassing himself by sending porn to a subordinate in his office.
SHOULD CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE PATRICK MURPHY BE FUNDRAISING AT CAPITAL GRILLE?
“The poor Occupy folks Murphy was so proud to stand with last year can’t afford prices like that,” writes Jack Furnari of BizPac Review in the blog post of the day. “I’m sure Murphy was sincere when he said to the anarchists, communists, socialists, progressives, rapists, terrorists and homeless of the Occupy movement, “We need to get LOUDER!”
BEAN, DUGGAN, WEINSTEIN READY FOR FIGHT FOR NE FLORIDA STATE SENATE SEAT
Former Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and Rep. Mike Weinstein, R-Jacksonville, are gathering big-name support as they seek to replace term-limited Sen. Steve Wise. At the same time, Jacksonville attorney Wyman Duggan said he can offer a fresh choice for voters — describing what he sees as a “market opening” as he runs against two familiar political figures in Northeast Florida.
Duggan and Weinstein are trying to use the district’s makeup to their advantage, pointing out that roughly 85 percent of its voting-age population is in Jacksonville while Bean lives in neighboring Nassau County. The district is almost horseshoe-shaped, with the middle of Jacksonville carved into another district that appears likely to elect a black Democrat.
But Bean said he has close ties to the city, including working at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center and graduating from Jacksonville University. … “Our opponents will have you say I live in Nassau, Bahamas,” Bean quipped. “But I actually live in Nassau County.”
Full profile here.
Smart Tweet about this race: @jimvarian: Mike Weinstein’s broad political straddle in House shows in backing for Sen by John Delaney and FL T-Party leader Patricia Sullivan
JEFF CLEMENS CUTTING INTO KEVIN RADER’S CONDO SUPPORT IN SD 27
“Former state Rep. Kevin Rader’s support base for his Democratic District 27 state Senate bid is expected to be the condo belt that includes the Century Village of West Palm Beach, Cypress Lakes and Golden Lakes Democratic strongholds,” reports George Bennett.
“But Democratic club presidents Mae Duke of Century Village, Elmer Klein of Cypress Lakes and Dorothy Chafetz of Golden Lakes are on the host committee for a fundraiser this week for one of Rader’s primary rivals, state Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.”
While the condo leaders aren’t formally endorsing Clemens, their willingness to help Clemens raise money is a sign that Rader can’t take the condo vote for granted.
‘GAME OF THRONES’ IN HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
>>>Bob Henriquez, Ronda Storms enter Property Appraiser’s race: A sex-and-porn scandal in the Hillsborough County property appraiser’s office has prompted a Sen. Ronda Storms and a former lawmaker to announce challenges to incumbent Rob Turner
>>>Former Senate President Tom Lee files for Storms’s State Senate seat: Former state Senate President Tom Lee of Brandon will seek to return to the Senate, running for the seat being vacated by Ronda Storms as she jumps into the property appraiser’s race, Lee announced Friday.
>>>Rep. Rachel Burgin says she’s ‘all-in’ for Storm’s seat: “I am humbled to have represented State House District 56 for the past four years. State Senate District 24 encompasses many residents I have had the honor of representing since 2008,” said Representative Burgin.
>>>Rep. Rich Glorioso has wanted to run all along: “I’m looking at it pretty seriously. It’s last minute. But I’ve wanted to serve in the Senate,” Glorioso said. “Ronda had two more years in her term. And I was running for Supervisor of Elections because Ronda had the seat locked down. But now that the seat’s come open. I have the experience, I’ve chaired approprations committees for the past four years.”
>>>Joe Wicker, who recently dropped out of one race, announces he’ll run for Burgin’s seat. “I am running for Rachel’s seat,” said Wicker, an Iraq war veteran and business manager for a division of International Paper Co.
MEET WILTON SIMPSON, THE SURE TO BE NEXT SENATOR FROM DISTRICT 18
“Until last week, the race was shaping up to be an intriguing contest between state Rep. John Legg of New Port Richey and Wilton Simpson, a Trilby business owner and longtime Pasco Republican Executive Committee member,” writes the Tampa Bay Times Tony Marrero. “Simpson, 45, has never held political office, but he has a deep campaign war chest and plenty of big-name support.”
…Then, on Wednesday, Legg announced that he was switching races and would challenge Republican Jim Norman in Senate District 17. … It seems unlikely, observers say, that a candidate as well funded and well connected as Simpson will jump into the race before the qualifying period ends June 8.
Read the full profile of Senator-to-be Simpson here.
EVIDENTLY, CRACKER BARREL IS THE POLITICAL HOTSPOT IN WESLEY CHAPEL
“So a week ago, (John) Legg and his wife, Suzanne, met with (Mike) Fasano at Panera Bread in Trinity to talk about his future,” reports C.T. Bowen. “By Tuesday, they were studying poll data. Legg also met with Senate leaders and Wednesday evening, he revealed his decision at a dinner meeting with Fasano, (Wilton) Simpson and (Will) Weatherford at the Cracker Barrel in Wesley Chapel. He called reporters afterward to make a public announcement.”
5 QUESTIONS FOR DOUG GUETZLOE, POST-PRISON SENTENCING here.
CHECK OUT: Florida TaxWatch’s new website here. Communications coordinator Chris Barry says he’s excited about the new site because, “we wanted to have a way to display the breadth of Florida TaxWatch research going back the last 32 years, and to demonstrate how wide-ranging the issues that we have researched are. One of the major reasons that Florida TaxWatch is so respected is the institutional knowledge that we have, and it was important to be able to show that on the new site.”
A RATIONALE FOR SAYFIE, SUNBURN
Justin Sayfie highlighted a key insight from an article in Sunday’s Washington Post about how that newspaper’s readers arrive on its site: “…most online readers never come to The Post’s home page — they find a specific story through search engines such as Google and Bing, or via links from other Web sites — maybe the Drudge Report, Huffington Post or CBS News.”
In other words, you need us, Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, etc.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Broward GOP Chief Richard DeNapoli.
ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: If you must read the text of any commencement address this graduation season, David Simon’s (creator of The Wire) remarks at Georgetown University are worth five minutes of your day.