Sunburn for 6/17 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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


Gov. Rick Scott and a trade delegation will spend much of the week in France championing Florida’s aerospace and aviation industries and trying to generate new jobs. But back home in Tallahassee, it’s shaping up to be a relatively quiet week.  

On Monday, Rep. Marti Coley, Leon County Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson and Highway Patrol Lt. Col. Kelly Hildreth will speak with Girls State on a panel hosted by the James Madison Institute.  On Tuesday, the State Board of Education will discuss Common Core Standards, and AHCA will hold a meeting to discuss Medicaid statewide inpatient psychiatric care. On Wednesday, the Florida Parole Commission will consider over two dozen cases; and on Thursday, the Environmental Regulation Commission will discuss water standards for estuaries, and the Florida Supreme Court will issue opinions.  

To close out the week, Nan Rich will speak at the Tampa Tiger Bay, and AHCA will discuss Medicaid’s preferred drug list, also in Tampa. Charlie Crist is slated to speak on Saturday at the Pasco County Democratic Executive Committee.

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In an interview with David Brody, Jeb Bush sketched out his case for why he might be a good president.

“It will be based on my record,” said Bush. “And that record was one of solving problems from completely from a conservative perspective. I cut taxes every year, I shrunk the size of government.”

For his critics who say he’s too mainstream establishment: “I will be able to, I think, manage my way through all the chirpers out there.”


The former Florida governor, mulling a 2016 bid, followed the retiring firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann at the Faith and Freedom Coalition. But while Bachmann and the other speakers here, including Congressman Paul Ryan  — the 2012 vice-presidential nominee — treaded familiar turf by railing against government and President Barack Obama, Bush didn’t go there. 

“I won’t be pointing out the failures of the Obama administration,” Bush said to silence here. “They’re clear for those that want to see them.” 

Instead, Bush laid out a detailed, four-point plan to grow the economy that included American energy, immigration reform, education, and family.

“I’d rather talk about how conservatives can govern again,” Bush said, “to begin to solve our pressing problems.”

A comment Bush made about immigrants’ higher rates of “fertility” drew much of the attention and distracted the cognoscenti in Washington. 

“Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans,” Bush said. “Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”

Bush was awkwardly trying to point out that heavily Catholic, recent Hispanic immigrants have more children, in the way that Italian and Irish immigrants once did. Of course, that’s changing among younger Hispanics, as it did for the Italians and Irish. as the generations grew up in America and fully assimilated. 

But that was a small moment in what was a speech that stood out for its tone and seriousness. It was a stark contrast to what has been seen at many of these conferences, as a host of Republicans have jockeyed for the limelight and the Republican nominations for 2008 and 2012.

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As the 2014 election cycle draws closer, Florida can expect, once again, to be one of the nation’s top political battlegrounds.

National pundit Larry Sabato offered his “Crystal Ball” look at 2014‘s congressional races. Sabato believes that six of the state’s 27 congressional districts will have competitive races come 2014.

Sabato believes that freshman U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is in a “tossup” election in 2014. Staying in South Florida, Sabato believes Republicans also have the opportunity to pick up the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, the freshman Democrat who has been drawing fire in recent days after his chief of staff resigned when his name was brought up in a voter fraud case. According to Sabato, Garcia starts off as a slight favorite in a race that “Leans Democratic.”

Looking at seats currently held by Republicans, Sabato thought Democrats could take four seats in Florida.

DEAR CONGRESS, AMERICA STILL HATES YOU by Ron Fournier of National Journal

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans told Gallup pollsters this month that they disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job, the 45th consecutive month that more than two-thirds of Americans graded Congress poorly. The problem isn’t as much what Congress is doing than what is not getting done. Fifty-nine percent of the disapproving Americans cited partisan gridlock and ineffectiveness for their thumbs down.

It gets worse.

Gallup’s 40-year study of the public’s faith in U.S. institutions found that confidence in Congress had dropped to 10 percent. For the fourth-straight year, the first branch of government ranks last on a list of 16 societal institutions. Congress’s ranking is the worst Gallup has ever found for any institution it has measured since 1973.

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Patrick Manteiga, a close friend to the McBride-Sink family and publisher of La Gaceta, writes: “Sink is still weighing a possible run for governor. Look for an answer in July.”

If anyone would know Sink’s plans, it’s Manteiga.


Crist received a warm welcome Saturday morning during a speech at the Democratic Women’s Club of Collier County.

Often mentioned as a possible gubernatorial contender, Crist this morning said he doesn’t know when he’ll decide whether to run.

“Floridians are smart,” Crist said. “They know what to do and I think we’re going to have a very, very bright future together.”

… Crist said he was thrilled to see so many people turn out for th(e) event, and was happy with the warm welcome.

“It’s just incredible,” he said. “Democrats are really nice.”


Crist, who was chaperoned by strategist Steven Schale and former Florida Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe, clearly felt welcomed by the crowd at the Westin-Diplomat Hotel.

“I do feel at home. Without a doubt. I’ve never felt more comfortable politically, ever,” said Crist, who said he hopes to make a decision on running “in a reasonable amount of time — it’s a big state, as we all know.”

TWEET, TWEET: @bsfarrington: Charlie Crist sure looks like a candidate. Don’t think any Florida politician knows how to work a room better

ROUSON COMES UNDER FIRE AT DEM CAUCUS MEETING via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

House Democrats held a caucus meeting that instead highlighted the concerns some members have with the leadership style of Rep. Darryl Rouson.

… Rep. Mike Clelland questioned whether Rouson had managed to gain the full support of the Florida Education Association and the Florida Justice Association, two key constituencies in the party’s organizing and fundraising efforts, as well as some other party leaders.

“Everything that I have heard from reliable sources is that you’ve alienated all of those folks,” Clelland said. “And I want a leader in this caucus who’s going to be a unifier, not a divider.”

… Rep. Ricardo Rangel confronted Rouson over the role of consultant Barry Edwards, who has also worked with Republicans, in any efforts to win seats in the House. Rangel said that, before the House leadership election, Rouson had promised “that [Edwards] wouldn’t be involved in anything, he would not step foot in Tallahassee.”

And Rangel said Rouson had spoken with reporters about allegations that Rangel doesn’t live in his district.

Rouson countered that Edwards has long been a part of his fundraising committee, and that members who asked for Edwards’ help in their campaigns would have to answer for themselves.


Orlando Sentinel, Florida Democrats converge on Hollywood for annual gathering – Allison Tant said the fundraiser will break a record with the number of people and amount of money raised”…  CBS Miami, Dems criticize Gov. Scott during annual dinner – Tant said people are so unhappy with Scott they didn’t need a candidate to highlight”…Miami Herald, Fla. Democrats see Gov. Rick Scott as easy target in 2014 – DWS says Dems will win gov mansion next November, no question”… Miami Herald, Fla. Dems hold annual dinner with no candidates – chose instead to attack Rick Scott”… Palm Beach Post, Crist ‘feels at home’ among Democrats at annual fundraising dinner – was stopped repeatedly for hugs, handshakes and photographs”… Tampa Tribune, Democrats rally, look toward 2014 races – record number converged on Hollywood, they smell blood in the water”.


Steve Schale discusses this weekend’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner and took a “hard look at the evolving nature of the Democratic coalition” in a state where “two hyper competitive presidentials sandwiched the most expensive Governor’s race in history” and in doing so, changed the make-up of Florida’s electorate.

Schale looks at a range of voter registration data beginning at the close of the 2006 general election, at which point the state more accurately began reporting Hispanics, through the end of the 2012 general election. He finds that the number of “active” voters has increased by about 1.5 million, of which 61 percent are either black and/or Hispanic.  Of the new black and Hispanic voters, 65 percent registered Democratic while only six percent registered Republican, with the remaining having no party or minor party affiliation.  About 100,000 fewer whites are registered as Democrats today than in 2006, while about 240,000 non-Hispanic whites have joined the Republican party, and 300,000 were added to the ranks of no or minor parties.

Interestingly, Schale finds that while Democrats increased registration by about 250,000, almost all of these numbers were within counties that have lost vote share in comparison to the state.  In growing counties, Republican registration gains were greater. He uses Broward County as an example, where the Democrat registration advantage has increased by 100,000 since 2006, but where the county’s share of actual voters dropped by about one percentage point.  Further, North Florida registration is starting to line up more with its politics: Schale finds that nearly one-third of GOP growth came from North Florida.

Schale’s analysis goes on to speculate about the electoral impacts of these (and other) shifting political demographics in terms of Florida’s 2014 gubernatorial race and more. Full blog post here

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GOV. SCOTT SIGNS TEACHER EVALUATION, SICK LEAVE BILLS via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

A requirement that classroom teachers only get evaluated based on the students they teach and a controversial measure that blocks local governments from requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to workers were signed into law Friday by Gov. Scott.

Also signed were new benchmarks for building nuclear power plants and an effort aimed at reducing sex trafficking by cutting late-night hours at massage parlors.

After Scott departed for an economic development mission to Paris on Friday, the Governor’s office announced he had signed 60 bills and vetoed two others.

The signing of the anti-mandatory sick leave bill (HB 655) quickly drew the most reaction, with applause from statewide business interests and condemnation from those behind an Orange County ballot initiative that would have required paid sick time.

“This law ensures mandatory leave is decided at the state level and preempts union-backed efforts to have local and county governments adopt policies governing terms of employment and other wage related issues,” Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson said in a news release.

Associated Industries of Florida said the law maintains a single, statewide standard for employment benefits that keeps Florida globally competitive.

“Not only would it destroy economic growth and job creation in their own jurisdiction, it would also have a devastating chilling effect on companies considering expansion in any location in Florida for fear other jurisdictions will follow suit,” AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney said in a release.

But Stephanie Porta, a leader in the Earned Sick Time ballot initiative in Orange County, vowed the fight will continue.

“Today, Gov. Scott sided with corporations like Disney and Darden over Florida families,” Porta said.


How popular was this bill? So popular that not a single member of the Florida legislature, in either the House or Senate, cast a “nay” vote against it. You know how rare that is? This is the Legislature that struggled, mightily, to ban bestiality. Any time you can get all these people to agree on something, that’s a special occasion.

What they’d agreed to do, according to Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times, is increase “the annual $15 fee for the wildflower license plate by $10.”

Lisa Roberts, the executive director of the Florida Wildflower Foundation told the Times/Herald, “I’m stunned.”

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On Friday, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower-court judge, upholding Florida’s law that requires political disclaimers on ads along with the disclosure of information about who contributes money to political committees. The case was brought by four Southwest Florida residents who contend their First Amendment rights were violated when forced to choose between formally organizing a political action committee to run radio ads or “remaining silent” in their opposition to a 2010 ballot measure. In Andrew Nathan Worley, et al., Appellants v. Florida Secretary of State, et al., plaintiff attorneys argued that laws requiring the filing and disclosure of information on political activities have a “chilling effect” on grassroots political action by residents, and that their clients considered these requirements so burdensome that they never ran their ad.  But really, what got Worley and his friends upset — even more upset than the Hometown Democracy measure  itself — was that recording the “government-mandated disclaimer” to identify themselves chipped about six seconds off of what they intended to have be a 30-second radio ad.  

In a previous opinion on this case, Hinkle wrote that there is a difference between individual and joint action and that nothing prevented each plaintiff from speaking as much as he or she chose, independently.  On Friday, the three-judge panel ruled that Florida’s regulations are not overly burdensome and validated the state’s important interest in requiring the disclosure of political financing information.  “Challengers are free to petition the Legislature to reset the reporting requirements for Florida’s PAC regulations, but we decline to do so here,” the panel said in a 35-page opinion.”


Floridians rank decently when it comes to charity spending, offering an average of 5 percent of discretionary income to benefit others each year. This totals about $7.4 billion per year, with a median contribution of $2,610 per donor. But think twice before you write a check to a charity with the hopes to help others, according to an ongoing project by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting titled “America’s Worst Charities” in which they probe and highlight organizations which spend disproportional amounts of donated dollars on fundraising fees and expenses rather than on services.  Of the 50 charities to make the list, 11 are in Florida, some of which like the Children’s Charity Fund in Sarasota have already been targeted by state regulators for having high fundraising costs and minimal services.

According to the Times, watchdog groups say that no greater than 35 percent of donations should go to fundraising costs — yet the Florida charities on the 50 Worst list spend significantly more than that. For example, the Kids Wish Network of Holiday, which ranked at the top of the list, raised $18.6 million last year but spent just $240,000 — 1 percent — granting wishes.  Over the past ten years, this percent averages to no greater than 2.5 percent. Over the past 10 years of data, the Defeat Diabetes Foundation of Madeira Beach and the Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center spent only 0.1 percent directly toward their causes, despite having raised $13,831,461 and $8,229,928, respectively, during that time. Likewise, Project Cure based in Manatee claims its mission is to lobby Congress and educate the public about alternative health treatments, but spends 90 percent of donations on fundraising fees and expenses, with an office that is virtually abandoned. View the full report here.


Gov. Scott announced Thursday a partnership with Amazon in which the Internet megagiant will bring more than 3,000 full time jobs with benefits to Florida — along with more than $300 million in investment to the state — by the end of 2016. But the locations for wholesale trade fulfillment centers have yet to be determined. Amazon is considering several sites in Florida, including one in Hillsborough County located in the South Shore Corporate Park near I-75.  This area is well positioned in the middle of the state with access to major highways, rails and ports. The Hillsborough County Commission is wasting no time in their interest in landing such a deal: their June 19agenda includes an item labeled the “Amazon proposal”, described as having the potential to create 1,000 jobs.


US Rep. Tom Rooney announced that the Agriculture Appropriations bill for FY 2014 includes funding for citrus disease research which he had worked hard to secure. Rooney’s efforts come at an important time: the total citrus acreage in Florida has fallen by 26 percent since 1997, and unless this trend is reversed, many fear that the state’s annual crop will be too small to sustain existing processing plants. Diseases such as citrus greening are driving many growers out of businesses — however, agricultural researchers are working to develop methods to reduce transmission and enhance immunity. Rooney had made three key requests, all of which are included in the Ag, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for 2014: funds for Citrus Greening Disease Research, the Citrus Health Response Program, and Huanglongbing (citrus greening) eradication research. A total of $19.5 billion is provided in discretionary funding by the bill, including increases of nearly $2 million for pest detection programs and about $1 million for plant protection programs. 

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DANA YOUNG, JASON BRODEUR SET TO SHINE AT GOPAC via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

Two Republicans serving in the Florida House will be featured when GOPAC meets with “Emerging Leaders” across the nation next week in New York. Rep. Dana Young will be one of the co-chairs for GOPAC’s Emerging Leaders’ summit and Rep. Jason Brodeur has been chosen by GOPAC as one of the 21 “Emerging Leaders” at the event. 

“There has never been a more critical time for the Republican Party to ensure we have prepared leaders who can move our party and nation forward,” said Frank Donatelli, the chairman of GOPAC. “GOPAC’s Emerging Leaders program provides comprehensive training to guarantee legislators have the short game to implement conservative reforms on the state level and the long game to run for higher office and lead the party for years to come.”


Teacher and State Senator John Legg penned an op-ed for the Tampa Tribune, writing: “Education policy must now, and always, be state-driven and implemented at the local level. Washington bureaucrats will never know what is best for each individual state and should not assert to know as such. As conservatives, we must stand firm against the dangers of nationalization of school curriculum and be ever vigilant to not allow infringement on our 10th Amendment rights.That being said, it is imperative to address some confusion and misconceptions regarding the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards are the result of a state-led initiative (composed of 45 states) who came together to set foundational common standards. Together, with the review of educators, parents and content experts, the states created standards that are aligned with college and work expectations; standards that are focused and consistent.” 


Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron is calling together his committee for a regional meeting on the impact of releases of water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. No date has been set for the summer meeting, which is expected to focus on the role the state could play in slowing the releases that area residents say dump pollution into the local estuaries. As concerns linger over the health of the Herbert Hoover Dike, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing water from the lake as a means to keep the water level down during the summer rainy season. According to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Negron intends to include the Army Corps, Department of Environmental Protection, South Florida Water Management District, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., environmental interests, and sugar and agricultural representatives. “We need to have all the decision makers in the same room because otherwise it deteriorates into recitation of talking points and blame shifting,” Negron told Scripps Newspapers.

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A fundraising reception for Rep. Dane Eagle will be held on Thursday, June 27, at the home of Duncan and Gail Russell’s home in Cape Harbour.  Other hosts include former LG Jeff Kottkamp, Rep. Gary Aubuchon, and 19 other friends and local leaders. Join them from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at 5660 Yardarn Court. 


Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran, and Senators Jeff Brandes and John Legg invite you to a fundraising reception in honor of Chris Sprowls, candidate for House District 65.  Join them on Thursday, June 20, from 5 pm – 7 pm at Oxford Exchange at 420 West Kennedy. No RSVP necessary, but you can contact the campaign at for more info.


Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli, Chairman Richard Corcoran and Rep. Jose Oliva invite you to a fundraising reception for the re-election campaigns of David Hood and David Santiago. Join them on Thursday, June 20, at the SW Grill at Sunset Harbor in Daytona Beach from 5:30 p.m. to – 7:30 p.m.


Shawn Harrison, former State Representative and candidate for State House District 63, invites you to join him at the Hunters Green Country Club on Wednesday for a campaign meet and greet. The event will last from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., during which Harrison will talk with friends about the upcoming campaign over food and drinks, and will thank his volunteers who came together last November in his support.

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APPOINTED: Timothy Cerio to the First District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission; Chasity Hope O’Steen to the Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. 


Travis Blanton, Melanie Brown, Amy Christian, Jeff Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare

David Browning, Chris Dudley, Southern Strategies: PCI Gaming

Dean Cannon, Capitol Insight: Worldwide Interactive Network


The next Quorum is slated for June 28, beginning at 5:00 pm. It will be at the usual location: Cassis American Brasserie on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg. The special guest is Representative Kathleen Peters.

The event is sponsored by the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

For more information, click here.

***On Memorial Day, Walmart launched the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment for our returning heroes.  This video details how government, business and community can all come together to connect our servicemen and women with the employment resources they need.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to two of the best, Brett Doster and Toby Philpot.

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.