Sunburn for 6/18: 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 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.***

SUNBURNED IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE: “Not much sunburn where I am reading this north of the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. Though the sun never sets this time of the year here, the temperature is still in the 30’s and only the only sunburn is Internet Sunburn from my friend Peter. You are keeping my informed like I was back home getting real sunburn. Keep up your good work.” — Former Senator John Grant


With much of the political establishment keeping one eye on the U.S. Supreme Court for a possible health care ruling and one eye out for Sen. Marco Rubio’s book this week, there are no eyes left to watch the presidential campaign make a stop in central Florida this week.

1. How much, if at all, will the Supreme Court’s expected decision on Obamacare change the course of the presidential election?

2. Offering few bombshells, will Marco Rubio’s memoir simply come and go? Or will it be a stepping stone on Rubio’s path to the VP slot? Also, what will the left’s reaction be to “An American Son” since it is pretty clear conservatives are already viewing it a hagiography.

3. What numbers are in store when Quinnipiac releases on Wednesday its next round of polling data about Florida?  After its last survey was met with considerable skepticism, it will be interesting to see if Quinnipiac offers a course correction or a reinforcement of its previous results.

4. What will be the next major development in the ongoing saga connected Gov. Rick Scott’s so-called voter purge?

5. Now that John Thrasher has ‘officially’ withdrawn from the race to be Senate President in 2016, when will Sen. Joe Negron make his next visible move to support a slate of Senate candidates who will be supportive of him for the position?


The book details Rubio’s political career, including his rise through the Legislature and his eventual run for the Senate. It comes amid speculation that Rubio could be on de facto GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s short list as Romney tries to choose a running mate.

The Associated Press received an advance copy of the book and reveals Rubio was close to dropping out of the 2010 Senate race.

“If I ran for attorney general it would be because my fears had gotten the better of me. … I made up all sorts of rationalizations to disguise my cowardice. … I had just about made up my mind. I had even written a speech announcing my decision and apologizing for disappointing my supporters. ‘Our ideas are strong,’ I intended to say, ‘but our fund-raising hasn’t been.’ Nevertheless I decided to keep my Senate campaign schedule until I announced my decision, figuring the events … were events I would have to do anyway as an AG candidate.

“I flew to Tallahassee and met two former aides … who drove me … to meet with the editorial board of the Pensacola News Journal … Brendan Farrington, the AP political reporter, came along … [During the three-hour drive,] Brendan got a phone call. I could tell it was about me. After he hung up, he apologized for what he was about to ask me. He had just gotten off the phone with a very reliable source in Tallahassee who had told him in no uncertain terms that I was going to switch races. If I admitted I was thinking about it, my Senate race would be over right then. … I was trapped, and I was angry. … In my past run-ins with Crist, I had managed to swallow my pride … Not this time. I’d had enough of their disrespect. I told Brendan I wasn’t going to drop out of the Senate race.”

Jonathan Martin in the Wall Street Journal writes that the book does not “drop any political bombshells or even offer much in the way of news about a man regularly included on lists of Mitt Romney’s potential running mates. The preferred euphemism among GOP insiders when it comes to Mr. Rubio’s vice-presidential prospects is that his stock lately has been diminished by unspecified ‘baggage.’ “


A recorded interview with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who releases a book this week and is working on immigration legislation, aired on CBS “Sunday Morning”. Rubio said the current version of the so-called DREAM Act “would apply to too many people” and sidestepped a question about whether he would be the running mate for de facto GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.


The politics of Obama’s executive order that will block the deportation of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants are clear: it should help him rally Hispanic voters frustrated by current White House policies on immigration.

It also could well exacerbate Republicans’ problem among Hispanic voters, which have grown over the past few years. A recent Wall Street Journal poll had Obama leading Romney among Latino registered voters 61 percent to 27 percent.

And those shifting political winds may well persuade Romney that the best/only way to counteract a major-league defeat among Hispanics is to put Rubio on the ticket.

“If in fact this announcement turns into more Latino enthusiasm for Obama, it is one more reason for Mitt Romney to look at Marco Rubio,” said Miami-based Republican strategist Ana Navarro.


Anyone watching for the ruling out of the U.S. Supreme Court on the Florida case challenging the federal health care law is watching extra closely this week, with a decision possible as early as Monday previews the News Service of Florida. The Supreme Court term ends at the end of June, and Florida’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is one of about a dozen cases left to decide. The justices will hand down at least one opinion on Monday, and could release others through the week. The Court has already announced it will have opinions on Thursday, June 21. It’s also possible the Court could wait until the week of June 25 to rule on the case, among the most high profile in recent years.

ACTUAL HEADLINE FROM THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: “Anarchists’ game plan for Tampa RNC unclear” — What do you expect, Tribune editors, they’re anarchists!


“But while Reagan and Bush 41 were political pragmatists, Jeb should remember that here in Florida, the GOP leadership, many of whom served under his tutelage, is just as dogmatic and intolerant of opposition, writes Steve Kurlander in Florida Voices. “Even the late Barry Goldwater, a true gentleman even with those with whom he disagreed, would have been banished in Tallahassee for his libertarian views and his disdain for imposing religious dictates on citizens.”


After prompting a debate about political publicity and gifts, Gov. Rick Scott will be able to provide recorded greetings that travelers will hear when they ride shuttle buses at Tampa International Airport, a state ethics panel decided Friday, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

The Florida Commission on Ethics approved an advisory opinion that said such messages would not violate bans on gifts or expenditures by lobbyists. Scott’s acting general counsel asked for an opinion last month, in part because the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which includes the airport, has a lobbyist registered to work on executive-branch issues.

The Fix argues that Rick Scott is no longer the least popular Governor in the country here.

STAT OF THE DAY: The Florida Democratic Party released a new strategy memo on Friday. In it, the FDP claims Mitt Romney has visited Florida 53 times and not met with Gov. Scott. That kind of stat is just begging for a PolitiFact.



Lisa Edgar, the longest-serving member of the Florida Public Service Commission, is seeking another term — but will face competition from 20 other candidates who range from businesspeople and government officials to a former lawmaker.

With her current term ending Jan. 1, Edgar met a Thursday deadline to apply for reappointment to the $130,000-a-year job as one of the state’s top utility regulators. The applications by Edgar and the other candidates touch off a months-long process that will end with Gov. Rick Scott choosing one of them to serve on the five-member PSC.

PERSONNEL NOTE: Jennifer Tschetter was appointed Friday to be general counsel of the Florida Department of Health, according to a DOH news release. She will provide legal advice to Surgeon General John Armstrong and to DOH deputy secretaries and senior management, and direct a team of 90 lawyers. Tschetter has 11 years experience practicing law and has been at DOH for three years, most recently as DOH interim general counsel, and with the state for six years.

ROTUNDA WATCH: James McFaddin, the former chief of staff for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, has joined Southern Strategy Group.


“I believe I have enough to be the president, and have had enough. … I think it’s already decided,” Latvala said.

With John Thrasher officially saying he will instead back Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, the race seems to be down to Latvala and Negron. Thrasher and Negron had cooperated in a palace coup that attempted to replace Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican scheduled to take over in 2014, with Thrasher. Negron would then have succeeded Thrasher in 2016.

Latvala said it was his understanding that Thrasher wasn’t ever running for the office in four years, despite comments to the media that some interpreted to mean that Thrasher might still seek the position after Gardiner effectively wrapped up the needed votes for 2014.

“As far as I know, [Thrasher] was never in the race for 2016,” Latvala said.

MY TAKE: How (most of) the media got the ‘John Thrasher is running for Sen. President’ story wrong here.


Lawmakers earlier this year put a change into the budget to take away a no-bid deal for Evidence Based Associates and open to bid the work it does, which involves juvenile justice diversion programs. But at the request friend and financial backer Frank Tsamoutales, who lobbies for EBA, Haridopolos went over other lawmakers’ heads and removed the change, keeping the deal in place for the company. “We were looking to maximize programs that were successful. We wanted to make sure we get the most for every tax dollar. It’s surprising to a lot of people that others have objected,” Haridopolos told the FLORIDA TODAY newspaper on Thursday. Other lawmakers had earlier criticized the move, saying they wanted to open the work up to other bidders because EBA hadn’t met certain goals.


Off: Megan Kossove, formerly legislative assistant for Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto

On: Kosgrove, now a part of Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff’s staff.

Off-and-on: Jennifer Rojo Suarez left Sen. Larcenia Bullard’s staff and joined Sen. Oscar Braynon’s staff as legislative assistant.

Off: Lori Kearns and Nick Matthewss left Sen. Eleanor Sobel’s staff

On: Christopher Lipson joined Sen. Sobel’s staff.

Off: Maria Pecoraro-McCorkle, formerly Rep. Bryan Nelson’s legislative assistant

On: Emelien Kelly, now Rep. Bryan’s new district secretary.

On: Ally McDaniel, new district secretary for Rep. Mark Pafford.

Off: Adam McKinney and Thomazine McNeil, formerly Rep. Keith Perry’s district secretaries.


“For years, the focus at the Florida Democratic Party has been on getting its top-of-the-ticket candidate elected — whether Alex Sink for governor or Barack Obama for president — to the detriment of down-ticket contests. This has translated into poor candidate recruitment for legislative races, lackluster fundraising and organizational support — and a self-reinforcing loop between the two,” reports Aaron DeSlatte of the Orlando Sentinel.

…This year is a deviation from that norm: The Democrats actually fielded candidates in most legislative races. All told, 34 of the 40 Senate districts will have partisan competition.

…Last week, Smith called incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, to ask whether he had recruited this mystery candidate with a similar-by-design name. Gaetz asked him where all the Democrats on the ballot had come from. Smith replied that Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith had helped. “Ask Rod Smithmyer,” Gaetz told him.

…With lawmakers raising so much through their personal committees, party fundraising has been declining. Tying up people such as Gardiner and Smith with opposition could deny both parties important resources this fall.


Mike Weinstein’s contention “is that the long-running support for Bean goes back to a deal Bean cut when he dropped out of the special election to replace the late Sen. Jim King. It has been widely rumored that when Bean got out of the 2009 race, won by St. Augustine Republican John Thrasher, he was promised a Senate seat somewhere else in the future,” reports Dixon.

… Aaron Bean’s spokeswoman Sarah Bascom pounced on the notion. “That is completely untrue,” said Bascom, who works for Thrasher and was involved in the special election. “There were no deals or promises made and any other statement otherwise is simply untrue.”

She said that the race’s expedited timeline after King’s death, and Thrasher’s decision to get in the race, caused Bean to “wait two years and run in a seat being vacated by Senator Wise.”


Reps. Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe both want to be the new senator from District 22, which takes in South Pinellas and a chunk of Tampa, writes Bousquet.

Brandes got a big head start in a way that Frishe calls “unethical” and “gaming the system.” Brandes says he is following the law that applies equally to everybody.

On June 1, Brandes withdrew as a House candidate and closed his fundraising account and one minute later became a Senate candidate instead.

Brandes could have transferred all of his unspent House campaign money to his new Senate fund, but that would have required offering all donors pro-rated refunds, a time-consuming burden in the midst of a 10-week sprint to the Aug. 14 primary.


Former House member and current GOP Senate hopeful Rob Wallace on Friday told incoming Senate leadership to butt out of the Republican primary for Senate District 17, saying their endorsement Thursday of his rival John Legg was inappropriate and overbearing. “The Tallahassee political establishment is attempting to anoint the next senator from District 17,” Wallace wrote to supporters Friday. “The party leadership seems to have forgotten what a primary is all about.” The note came a day after incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and four other influential senators posted a glowing endorsement for Legg, who recently moved into the district. Other members signing on for Legg were Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner who’s slated to take over the chamber in 2014; Sen. John Thrasher, and two future contenders for the Senate presidency, Jack lat and Joe Negron.


>>>Former congressman and current Demcratic candidate Alan Grayson has received the endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO for his candidacy in CD9.

>>>The Florida Medical Association endorses John Legg’s in SD 17.

>>>Mark Danish was endorsed today by the Florida AFL-CIO, and their local affiliate the West Central Florida Federation of Labor in HD 63.

SMART READ: The New York Times‘ Gail Collins explains how our biggest political division is the war between the empty places and the crowded places. “People who live in crowded places tend to appreciate government. It’s the thing that sets boundaries on public behavior, protects them from burglars and cleans the streets. If anything, they’d like it to do more. (That pothole’s been there for a year!) The people who live in empty places don’t see the point. If a burglar decides to break in, that’s what they’ve got guns for. Other folks don’t get in their way because their way is really, really remote. Who needs government? It just makes trouble and costs money.”

ALOE TO SOOTHE THE takes an interesting look at whether Abraham Lincoln could win re-election in 1864 if today’s technology and methods were available to his opponent.

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.