Sunburn for 6/13: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***SUNBURN is brought to you by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm.  Visit to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

FROM THE INESTIMABLE FRED LEONHARDT: “Sunburn has become the daily appetizer for those of us who live in the government relations and political world of Florida. For the next three days I will be sitting with Marian Johnson interviewing candidates for the legislature and Sunburn gives us the total context for the elections and the players. It is the most up to date coverage presented in an entertaining and easy to read format. Keep up the good work!”


The Obama Campaign releases new ad morning hitting Mitt Romney on his record as governor. “Number One” is airing in Florida and eight other states. Watch here.


The pool report from Mitt Romney’s Orlando-area fundraiser, as filed by Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel:

At a $2,500-per-person fundraiser at Isleworth Country Club in suburban Orlando, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney berated President Barack Obama for being out of touch with middle-income Americans and for stating that he did not know the Affordable Care Act was hurting businesses.

Speaking to about 150 people, Romney covered much of the same rhetorical ground he covered in a speech before almost 400 small business owners earlier in Orlando, at Con-Air Industries, though he added more .

Afterwards, those in the crowd who donated at least $50,000 joined Romney for a private lunch at an undisclosed home in Isleworth, a meandering community of lakeside mansions that are homes to many of Orlando’s rich and famous.

DON’T LOOK FOR ‘FLORIDA! FLORIDA! FLORIDA!’ THIS NOVEMBERAccording to the New York Times‘ Nate Silver, the chances of Florida being the “state (that) provides the decisive electoral vote” in the presidential election are just 2.4% — not even in the Top 5 of what Silver describes as the “Tipping Point States.”

RACE STILL RAZOR-CLOSE: A new Tarrance Group (R) poll shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney nationally, 47% to 46%.


After providing ammunition to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign by criticizing his fellow Republicans, Jeb Bush clarified his comments on Tuesday and blamed Democrats for failing to compromise during Obama’s term.

“The point I was making yesterday is this: The political system is hyperpartisan. Both sides are at fault,” Bush wrote on his Twitter page.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: Benjamin Kirby of The Spencerian, “I know that the word now, today is that Jeb missed his chance at the presidency.  But with these recent developments, I’m not so sure.  Is he framing himself for 2016?  Is he looking ahead at a reinvigorated, reformulated GOP?  Does he see a GOP without the constraints of a Grover “Bathtub” Norquist and the tea party weirdos?”

WHO IS MARIELENA STUART? Katie Sanders of the Tampa Bay Times answers:

“The from-out-of-nowhere U.S. Senate candidate who won over Pinellas County Republicans in a straw poll Monday evokes Sarah Palin with her anti-establishment rhetoric and unwavering patriotism,” writes Sanders.

… “Stuart has worked as a linguist and interpreter, speaking Spanish and French, with some Greek and Italian. Some of her columns have appeared in the Naples Daily News.”

“On Monday she spoke briefly of being the daughter of a Cuban political prisoner and being beaten by communists. She railed against same-sex marriage, abortions, sustainable development, China and the U.S. Department of Education, which she pledged to dissolve.”

READ MY TAKE on Stuart and Connie Mack’s ‘inevitability’ here.

STAT OF THE DAY: Marielena Stuart, the Republican US Senate candidate who bested front-runner Connie Mack in the Pinellas GOP’s straw poll, has $6,500 in her campaign account compared to $1.9 million Mack has in his.

YOU’RE INVITED: Fundraiser for US Rep. Kathy Castor hosted by Justin Day at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel.  Begins at 5:00 p.m. More details here.


Gov. Rick Scott hit just about every TV program he could find and a couple of radio shows to continue to push for cleaning up the state’s voter rolls, as the state comes under fire from Washington. He did live interviews today with America’s News Network, Fox and Friends, Good Day Tampa Bay, Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America,” CNN’s Starting Point, and Laura Ingraham. 


Nelson criticized Rick Scott’s administration for its effort to clean up the state’s voter rolls to remove non-citizens, saying that in searching now for ineligible voters the state risks disenfranchising legal ones. “The governor and his administration should ensure the credibility of our voter rolls.  It should have a program to suppress fraud,” Nelson acknowledged. “But above all else, the state must ensure that every lawful citizen who has the right to vote can do so without impediment.”

TWEET, TWEET: @lanewrightme: Someone should ask him. How many illegal, non-citizen votes is @SenBillNelson willing to ignore?  


With Republican legislative leaders and the Florida League of Cities already weighing in, Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet officers have asked the state Supreme Court to approve a plan requiring public workers to chip in money to the state pension system, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

Lawyers representing Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater filed an initial brief that asks justices to overturn a Leon County circuit judge’s ruling that said already-hired employees could not be forced to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the Florida Retirement System. Lawmakers approved the requirement in 2011, as they tried to close a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall.


The wealth of the median American family shrunk to 1992 levels as of 2010, according to a Federal Reserve report that singles out Florida as one of the states hit hardest by the Great Recession. The Survey of Consumer Finance, released Monday, blamed a “broad collapse in housing prices” for the 38.8 percent drop in median net worth between 2007 and 2010. “The amount of wealth destroyed by the housing crisis was trillions of dollars, and suddenly where there was a mound of wealth, consumers saw a crater,” said University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith. “It’s one of the reasons I’ve been projecting the recovery to be as subdued as it has been.”

MORE WONDERFUL NEWS: “Poverty racial divide among Florida children is soaring, study finds” by Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel

The number of Florida’s children living in poverty swelled 35 percent from 2006 to 2010 — an increase that especially hurt black and Hispanic youth — a new report shows.

Using the most recent statistics available, the report found that nearly one in every four Florida children, or about 924,000 collectively, now lives below the federal poverty line. Two-thirds of black children live in families classified as low-income, meaning they earn less than $44,100 a year for a family of four.


Cynthia Lorenzo, former head of the Agency for Workforce Innovation and interim director of the newly created Department of Economic Opportunity, submitted her resignation to the agency’s new executive director on Monday. Her last day will be July 6.


Many of the nation’s mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, will gather in Orlando from Wednesday through Saturday for the 80th Annual Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors, to be hosted by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.  Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the group on Friday.  Other anticipated speakers including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.


>>>The Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s presidential-search committee will meet, followed by a meeting of the Citizens board of governors.

>>>The Florida Citrus Commission and its committees meet in conjunction with the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference.

>>>The Public Service Commission continues its hearing on the proposed FPL rate increase.

>>>University system Chancellor Frank Brogan, and Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson are among the speakers at the Florida Association of School Administrators summer conference.

***A special message about KEVIN CATE COMMUNICATIONS. I’ve called Cate one of the smartest guys in any room, but that was last year. His firm continues to change the way public relations works in Florida. Believe me, you want on your side.***


State Sen. Jim Norman withdrew yesterday from his re-election bid in District 17.

The first-term senator and longtime Hillsborough County Commissioner’s name was not on the state Division of Elections Website as of 11:00 a.m. He qualified to run for the post Friday, the last day to formally enter the race.

I first reported that Norman was about to pull out of the race because of declining support among top Republicans in the Florida Legislature. Several high-level Republican leaders in Pasco and Hillsborough counties told me that Norman’s poll numbers were low and his negatives were high.

Norman’s Statement: “I step down at this time, knowing I’m leaving Hillsborough and Pasco County a better place from when I was first elected. I am human and I have made mistakes. I want to apologize if I have offended anyone during my tenure.”

Carlton column: “Maybe it was when Norman signed that admission of guilt to the state ethics board for not disclosing the house, as is required. After that maybe it was the anticipation — or was it dread — of the inevitable stories to come about the Senate itself having to decide discipline for a freshly re-elected Norman on those ethics charges. … Maybe that’s what finally made his party say: Enough.”

Cruel Tweet of the Day:@MarcACaputo: The co-eds of Level 8 will miss him dearly

Gaetz saw the handwriting: “We had a frank discussion about the kind of issues he would face, that there would be a replay of the ethics issues that he has confronted. We talked as two friends about what it means to go through a campaign.” (h/t to Bill Varian)

Latvala has a good point about Norman: “Regardless of the issues that he had before he became a Florida senator, he was a good Florida senator,” Latvala said. “And I think he fought for the people he represented and he worked hard.”

Legg now the favorite: Lee Logan of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Sen. Mike Fasano, who said the developments bode well for his protege, state Rep. John Legg. “I’m pleased for John Legg. Obviously he still has a campaign, both a primary and a general election. John Legg is definitely the favorite to be the next senator.”

Now that ally Norman is out of the race, Fasano inticated that Sen. Jack Latvala, a candidate for future Senate presidency, would support Legg.

Times‘ story on Norman’s withdrawal here.

YOU’RE INVITED to a fundraising reception for Rep. Jose Oliva at Hialeah Race Track from 7 to 9 p.m. Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, Senator Rene Garcia, Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, Commissioner Steve Bova and Julio Robaina all are  hosting.


>>>Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman endorsed Jeff Brandes in the GOP primary for SD 22.

>>>Hours after Jim Norman withdrew his bid for another term, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam threw his support to House Speaker Pro Tempore John Legg to replace him (h/t to Kevin Derby).

>>> Incoming Jacksonville City Council President and current Jacksonville City Council Vice President Bill Bishop today endorsed Representative Mike Weinstein for the State Senate.

>>>Plant City Republicans Al Higginbotham & Dan Raulerson get behind Tom Lee’s State Senate bid.

>>>Rep. Jimmie Smith is endorsing his colleague Rachel Burgin for her State Senate race.

PERSONNEL NOTE: Compass Management and Consulting, a health care association and special event management firm based in Jacksonville, has named Judi Spann its Senior Director of Communications, Marketing and Foundation Relations.


The Federal Election Commission on Monday night unanimously voted to allow Americans to make political donations via text message, making Androids, iPhones and Blackberries the newest weapon in the battle to raise unprecedented amounts of money.

The decision will take effect immediately, although it may be days or weeks before the system is fully functional. Individual phone numbers will be capped at $50 worth of donations per billing cycle per political candidate or committee.


A report out by Rice University indicates massive lobbying in D.C. and campaign donations by corporations are linked with worse market performance. The study, as Politico’s Tim Mak notes, “looked at the amount of money spent on lobbying and campaigning donations by 943 S&P 1500 firms from 1998 to 2008 and found that so-called political investments lead to weaker performance in terms of stock value and return on assets.” Read more here

ACTUAL HEADLINE FROM PRESS RELEASEMutant Gut Bacteria Reverse Colon Cancer in Lab Models, UF Researchers Find

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Senator David Simmon and (is she an uber-?) lobbyist Allison Carvajal

ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: “The Last Quorum” – a not-too-political happy hour at Cassis American Brasserie in St. Petersburg is scheduled for June 22. More information on Facebook here.  

MORE ALOE: Satirist Andy Borowitz headline: “In Emergency Session, U.N. Declares Florida A Rogue State; Status of Democracy ‘Fragile,’ Spokesman Says”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.