Sunburn for 6/19 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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OBAMA IN GERMANY via Der Spiegel

It is Obama’s ninth European trip as president, but only his first state visit to Berlin. It took him four-and-a-half years to pay his official visit to Germany, the undisputed dominant power in Europe. The trip carries a great deal of importance for the Germans.

Obama’s visit this month and the memory of the Kennedy visit 50 years ago highlight the special relationship between Germans and Americans, but they also show how much the world has changed since then. Kennedy’s trip to Berlin was an almost ecstatic celebration of the protection and defense alliance, while the visit by the no less charismatic current president will probably end up being a more or less unexciting family affair.

RUBIO ON DEFENSIVE FOLLOWING AIDE’S GAFFE via Newsmax

Sen. Marco Rubio was forced to play defense after a key aide was quoted saying that immigration is necessary because some American workers can’t get the job done. “There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,” Enrique Gonzales, a Cuban-American lawyer, said according to a yet-to-be-published article in the New Yorker magazine. “There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it,” added Gonzalez, who was acting as Rubio’s point man on immigration talks between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor unions. “You can’t obviously discuss that publicly,” he added.

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant did not dispute the accuracy of Gonzalez’s statement, but blasted the New Yorker for using it. Conant explained, “The legislation that Sen. Rubio agreed to sponsor creates a robust temporary-worker program to meet our economic needs while protecting American workers and wages. Sen. Rubio believes that American workers can compete against anyone in the world.”

… ATTEMPTS TO DISTANCE HIMSELF FROM UNNAMED AIDE

The bottom line is the statement doesn’t reflect (what I feel),” Rubio said Tuesday, surrounded by reporters. “I’m the senator. It’s my bill. I’m the one that votes on these things. I’m the one that makes decisions. Whatever other people want to opine or say to a reporter or somebody else, I can’t control that. I can only comment to you where I stand on the issue and by and large, I can tell you I think we have a bill  that doesn’t hurt the American worker but will allow our industries to identify when they do have shortages in workforce to be able to fill that shortage — in an orderly and legal way, not in the chaotic way that it’s happening right now.”

TWEET, TWEET: @EzraKlein: CBO says Senate immigration bill would cut the deficit by about $200 billion over the next decade.

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FLORIDA RETAILERS CALL ON U.S. REP. RON DESANTIS TO STAND UP FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES, NOT D.C. ACTIVISTS

The Florida Retail Federation today responded to a Washington D.C. press conference featuring Rep. Ron DeSantis and Grover Norquist, who oppose a bill that would put Florida retailers on a level playing field with out-of-state competitors. FRF President and CEO Rick McAllister said he hoped Rep. DeSantis would reconsider his opposition to the Marketplace Fairness Act. Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the FRF, said passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act was the top priority for Florida retailers, and an important indicator of lawmakers’ support for the retail industry.

“This is an important issue, and Florida retailers will determine our support or opposition of the Congressional delegation based on their position on the Marketplace Fairness Act. We hope we can continue supporting Rep. DeSantis, and we look forward to speaking with him further,” McAllister said.

ROSS TO HOST TOWN HALL MEETINGS IN LUTZ AND BRANDON

US Rep. Dennis Ross is hosting town hall meetings in Lutz and Brandon on Tuesday, July 2, where he will spend time answering questions.  Ross has had a full plate these past few weeks, leading a charge to urge President Obama to remove Eric Holder from his position as Attorney General, working to prevent taxpayer funded soccer fields for Guantanamo Bay detainees, and urging his colleagues to support immigration reforms that enforce our laws and provide for earned citizenship.  Last week, Ross hosted a telephone town meeting in which 11,000 constituents from Florida’s 15th Congressional District called in to speak with the congressman.  You can join Ross in person in Lutz at Lutz Elementary School at 5:30 pm; or at the Brandon Regional Service Center at 7:30 pm.

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Q-POLL: SCOTT SHOWS IMPROVEMENT; STILL TRAILS CRIST via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

With the Democratic field remaining unsettled, Republican Gov. Rick Scott is seeing improvement in his poll numbers — though he still trails former Gov. Charlie Crist by double digits in a potential 2014 election battle.

Quinnipiac University on Tuesday released a poll that shows the Republican-turned-Democrat Crist leading Scott by a margin of 47 percent to 37 percent. While that is a significant edge for Crist, it is down from a 16-point margin in a March poll.

Another sign of improvement for Scott: In the new poll he is viewed favorably by 40 percent of voters and unfavorably by 42 percent. While he is still underwater, Scott’s numbers have improved since March, when he was viewed favorably by only 33 percent of voters and unfavorably by 46 percent.

Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said it is an indication of how low Scott’s poll numbers have been that he can “take some solace” from only trailing Crist by 10 points. Also, Brown pointed to improvements for Scott in other parts of the poll, though he described the governor’s job approval and favorability numbers as “tepid.”

“Now that doesn’t mean that happy days are here again for the governor, but if he is going to make a comeback these are the kind of steps that would be required,” Brown said in a news release announcing the poll results. “Whether it is the start of something larger, we’ll see in the coming months.”

HOW THE Q-POLL PLAYED

Tampa Bay Times, Gov. Scott gains ground in new Florida poll, but still trails Crist – according to a new Quinnipiac University poll”… Huffington Post, “Rick Scott trails Charlie Crist in poll, but Florida Gov’s numbers are rising – 43 percent approving of his job and 44 percent disapproving”… Politico, “Florida poll: Gov. Rick Scott rebounding  – his best rating since he was elected and up 7 points from March”… Orlando Sentinel, Rick Scott gains steam after session wins – with a  growing economy and legislative wins in the bank”… Miami Herald, “Fla. Gov. Scott’s job approval up to 43 percent – though not to the point that it’s likely to deter any potential challengers in 2014″…Washington Post, “Scott rebounds (a bit), but Crist still up double digits in Florida – he’s still not very popular”… Sunshine State News, “Charlie Crist has reasons to smile and Bill Nelson to scowl in new poll – leaves window open for other candidates”

REACTIONS

Dems commend Scott on moving from an F to a D-: Only in Rick Scott’s world does going from an F to a D- represent success. While polls will go up and down, what’s certain is that Florida voters do not trust this governor to fight for them and their families, and we are confident they will vote him out of office next year,” said FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant.

Is Charlie Crist the G.O.B. Bluth of Florida politics? via Karen Cyphers: Basically, G.O.B. doesn’t demonstrate much team loyalty; has few close confidants; likes to put on a good show; … continually seeks the approval of his father; loves to yacht; and enjoys being in charge in part because it requires the least work.

Quick thoughts from Steve Schale: Schale points out that Scott trails significantly behind either major Democratic candidate among NPA voters, with just 35 percent in his corner. Comparably, Crist and Nelson have better statewide favorable/unfavorable ratings: among independents, Crist is +19 favorable while Scott is -5.  Schale then lays out some demographic crosstabs.  He relays that Crist is +19 among women, only 29 percent of whom would vote to re-elect Rick Scott; and casts some doubt on the Q poll’s prediction that the Democrat will earn in the mid-70s of the African-American/Caribbean vote.  Shale doesn’t see that happening.   “Sink was in the mid 90s,” he wrote, “Even Davis was in the low 80s.”

CHARLIE CRIST HAS REASONS TO SMILE, BILL NELSON TO SCOWL via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News

The poll finds Crist actually does better with Democrats against Scott than Nelson does. Both do well, of course, but Crist gets 83 percent of Democrats while Nelson gets 82 percent. That’s an impressive figure for Crist, especially since he has only been in his new party for six months.

Democrats also see Crist as more favorable than they do Nelson. Only 11 percent of Democrats see Crist as unfavorable but 67 percent have a favorable take on Crist. Nelson is seen as favorable by 59 percent of Democrats, unfavorable by 5 percent of them, but 34 percent don’t know enough about him to have an opinion. That’s stunning, especially since Nelson won a third term in the Senate last year and has been around in Florida politics for 40 years.

EX-SENATOR DOCKERY: FLORIDA GOP SCARED OF CRIST via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Dockery said that by promoting Nan Rich, Republicans showed their true colors.

“It looks like they’re scared of Charlie Crist,” Dockery said on the weekly public affairs program Florida This Week on WEDU-Channel 3 in Tampa. “They want to pump up Nan Rich, who was not getting much traction on her own … I think it just sends the message that they’re worried about Charlie Crist and it was kind of a dumb thing.”

Puzzled by a Republican effort in support of a little-known Democratic candidate, Dockery said she fired off an email to party headquarters in Tallahassee, asking: “Who’s your audience on this?” 

SORRY, CHARLIE, YOU MAY YET FACE FIGHT FROM ALEX SINK via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Sink will decide by Sept. 1, but she sounded anything like a retired politician merely intent on keeping her name in the mix. She spoke angrily about the direction of the state under Gov. Scott — “I mean, pick a day. Read the newspaper. This governor’s incompetent” — and nearly as revolted by the prospect of Crist as the Democratic nominee.

“A disaster” is how she described the possibility.

INFOGRAPHIC ON SUCCESS OF FLA. DEMS 2013 JEFFERSON-JACKSON DINNER

The Florida Democratic Party released an infographic — a well-designed one, not the turds the Florida GOP has pumped out — charting what it describes as “the remarkable success” of the 2013 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, which broke records for attendance and fundraising.

The FDP says its success is not just based on the number of tickets sold, either.

Their infographic offers a complete picture of the 2013 Jefferson-Jackson dinner. View it here.

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BOUSQUET COLUMN: RICK SCOTT’S LATEST VETO IS SIMPLY WILD

Florida’s governor showed his true colors Friday when he vetoed what might have been the least controversial bill of the entire 2013 legislative session.

… The wildflower bill passed both houses of the Legislature by unanimous votes. Most lawmakers are, like Scott, Republicans who oppose higher taxes.

And everybody knows Scott opposes raising the cost of government on Florida residents. But to use the wildflower license plate as an example is taking things to ridiculous extremes.

Scott’s stated reason for his veto is that the bill, HB 265, would have increased the annual fee for the wildflower license plate from $15 to $25, which is true.

But the fee is voluntary.

SCOTT, FLORIDA KEEP RACKING UP SUCCESSES AT PARIS AIR SHOW via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

The Sunshine State has the largest of the United States’ 34 state pavilions at the 50th annual International Paris Air Show, and even in the second day the effort is paying off measurably. On Tuesday, Scott and president and CEO of Vision Systems, Carl Putman, announced that Vision Systems, a Lyon, France-based tier one supplier for the aeronautics, marine, and automotive industries, will open its first U.S. subsidiary on the Space Coast.

The project is the company’s first foreign direct investment project in the United States. Unveiled Tuesday at the show, it is expected to offer 40 new jobs and nearly $1.2 million in capital investment in the Melbourne community.

TIMES EDITORIAL: SCOTT’S STRONG STAND ON PUBLIC RECORDS

Gov. Scott took a strong stand for public records by vetoing a bill that would have kept secret the email addresses of registered voters. The election system should be as transparent as possible, and there was no compelling reason to create a public records exemption to keep email addresses secret.

… Mailing addresses for voters have long been public, and as the governor noted, “In the modern age of electronic communications, email is increasingly the most convenient and efficient means to receive information that was previously sent through the mail.”

The presumption in Florida is that government records are public unless there is a compelling reason to keep them confidential. This bill did not meet that test. Scott stood up to the elections supervisors and state lawmakers, and he made the correct decision to veto it.

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CONGRATS to FCCI, recognized as the #1 best company in Florida for employees over 50 by the AARP and #18 in the country!

DAYTONA SPEEDWAY GREEN FLAGS UPGRADES WITH NO STATE BACKING 

International Speedway Corp., which owns Daytona and 12 other NASCAR tracks, announced approval Tuesday for a project that will dramatically overhaul the frontstretch at the “World Center of Racing.” The construction will cost between $375 and $400 million and is expected to be completed prior to the 2016 Daytona 500. The changes will cut seating by about 46,000 seats to 101,000.

“The decision was made with strong consideration of the current macroeconomic condition and a clear view for our long-term growth,” ISC’s Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy said in a release Tuesday. “This significant private investment is a strategic use of our capital that will ensure the long-term viability of the iconic speedway, and when completed, will contribute favorably to the company’s revenues, as well as to our community and the sport as a whole.” 

DUKE ENERGY NAMES NEW CEO via the News Service of Florida

Duke Energy, which last year finalized a merger that included Progress Energy Florida, announced Tuesday its chief financial officer will take over as company president and CEO on July 1. Lynn Good, who has worked as CFO and executive vice president since 2009, will succeed the retiring Jim Rogers. Rogers, the president and CEO since 2006, will remain as company chairman until Jan. 1, when he will be replaced in that position by an independent director. 

HOW REP. DANE EAGLE IS SPENDING HIS SUMMER VACATION Full blog post here

State Rep. Dane Eagle managed to pass nine bills during the 2013 legislative session, but is quick to share credit with his House and Senate colleagues and his staff.

“I was continuously surprised by how willing every member is to try to work together for the greater good,” Eagle said of his colleagues, who left Tallahassee the morning after Session, saw his family, and got out on the water to unwind.

Eagle doesn’t plan to begin campaigning quite yet, instead focusing on work, enjoying Southwest Florida with family and friends, and continuing to communicate with constituents via newsletters, op-eds, radio shows, meetings, and speaking engagements.

This summer, the 30-year-old legislator will be reading the daily news and taking occasional weekend trips, and looks forward to seeing his all-time favorite superhero (The Wolverine) on the big screen.

Eagle will be ready to get back to the state capitol by the end of September for committee weeks, where he’ll get a head start on his top priority for 2014: “Tax cuts. I hope.”

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: PRIVATE INSURERS READY AND WILLING TO TACKLE STATE’S HURRICANE RISK

The Tampa Tribune published an opinion editorial by the Association of Bermuda Insurers President and Executive Director Bradley Kading on the private reinsurance industry’s ability and willingness to tackle Florida’s hurricane risk. Unlike the state-run Cat Fund which concentrates hurricane risk in Florida, exposing all Floridians to the financial burden of covering claims through hurricane tax assessments, according to Kading reinsurance makes “Florida’s risks more affordable by spreading them around the world.”

In the opinion piece, Kading stated that during the 2013 state legislative session Florida leaders “missed the opportunity to take maximum advantage of the growing amounts of private capital interested in the Florida market,” which in 2013 declined in price “by 15 percent or more on average across the state.”

While there are various products and services available to support the insurance industry, especially in the world’s most hurricane-prone state, according to Kading, “the world’s private reinsurers, including ABIR members which have a 100 percent track record paying Florida claims, will continue to be available to support Florida and its unique needs.”

RUBBER STAMPING OF PHONY GAMBLING EVENTS A CONFUSING AND DANGEROUS TURN, HORSEMEN SAY

The Florida Legislature outlawed internet cafes in the wake of a scandal, and a court ruling outlawed “barrel racing” — yet within weeks of both, state regulators quietly approved a new round of phony gambling events at Grenta Racing in North Florida — a confusing turn of events considering the judge’s scathing 85-page rebuke of Gretna activities that targeted barrel-racing and other contrived activities. According to the May 6 ruling, any Quarter Horse racing held in Florida must conform to racing that the American Quarter Horse Association would approve.  However, the latest license issued by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to Gretna contradicts that ruling by allowing another Gretna-created event called a “flag-drop” which is specifically not approved. To Dr. Steve Fish, FQHRA president, events such as those at Gretna are contrived specifically to skirt the law, which results in the loss of thousands of Floridian jobs.

To Fisch and his allies, there is still time for regulators or Gov. Rick Scott to reconsider the rubber-stamping of phony gambling events. “Governor Scott has committed to getting Floridians back to work by promoting Florida business the cornerstone of his administration,” he said in a statement. “Now, we need him to hold true to that vision by putting a stop to this outrageous sidestep of Florida law that doing just the opposite by putting Florida horsemen and breeders out of work.”

STORY I JUST COULDN’T GET TO: “UF researchers develop technique to test manatees for heart disease”

THE UNRETIREMENT OF BILL COTTERELL

Political columnist Bill Cotterell has unretired, rejoining the Tallahassee Democrat to offer two columns a week, about a year following his departure. To Democrat editor Bob Gabordi, Cotterrell’s move follows “many of the great ones before him – Michael Jordan, George Foreman, Roger Clemens and Brett Favre…” who have left and returned to their legendary professions. Cotterell hasn’t been entirely retired since leaving the Democrat — he contributed to the syndicated Florida Voices until the upstart web service folded a few weeks ago.  Leaving Gabordi sad. And prompting him to offer Cotterell a place back on the roster.  Already, according to Gabordi, web traffic has soared on Cotterell’s work.  The Democrat needs it… original material that is.  So, expect to see more from Cotterell in the months to come, particularly on issues that impact state workers; and perhaps to see some of his signature style within the columns of new Democrat writers that he will mentor.

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BLAISE IGNOGLIA KICKING OFF CAMPAIGN TONIGHT

DAVID SIMMONS TO HOLD FUNDRAISING RECEPTION

Hosts Tommy Boroughs, Alexander Clem, Fred Leonhardt and Dr. John McCutheon invite you to attend a fundraising reception for State Sen. David Simmons on June 19, along with honorary co-chairs Senate President Don Gaetz, and Senators Andy Gardiner, Lizbeth Benacquisto, John Thrasher, Jack Latvala, and Alan Hays.   And along with 70 distinguished members of the host committee and 18 members of the honorary host committee. Basically, this reception is being hosted and supported by the Who’s Who of Central Florida Republican politics.  You can join them from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Citrus Club at 255 South Orange Avenue, following an RSVP to Kim Carroll at kac23@dbksmn.com.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to two Tallahassee pros, Bascom Communication’s Lyndsey Cruley and the Miami Herald‘s Mary Ellen Klas.

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.