Sunburn for 6/20 — 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’S APPROVAL RATING HOLDS STEADY IN PEW POLL …

In contrast to a CNN poll released earlier this week, a new Pew Research poll finds President Obama’s job approval rating has nonetheless remained fairly steady despite a series of controversies. Currently, 49% approve of the way Obama is handling his new1job as president while 43% disapprove.

… BUT HIS NUMBERS DROP IN FLORIDA 

Obama’s approval rating in the state has dropped below 50 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The poll … found that 47 percent of Florida voters approve of the way Obama is handling his job, while 48 percent disapprove. Those numbers are down from a 50 percent approval rating in March and a 54 percent approval rating in December. Meanwhile, 50 percent of voters in the new poll said Obama is honest and trustworthy, while 45 percent said he is not.

POLL: AMERICANS DIVIDED OVER LINKING SECURITY, CITIZENSHIP IN IMMIGRATION BILL via Ron Brownstein of National Journal

The U.S. Senate is nearing a critical vote on a proposal from Sen. John Cornyn to delay any pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants until federal officials certify massive improvements in border security. While most of the immigration bill’s supporters see the measure as a deal-breaker, the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found substantial public support for the concept.

Respondents divided in half, with 45 percent saying illegal immigrants should not be placed on a path to citizenship until the government meets high standards for securing borders against further illegal immigration, and 45 percent saying citizenship should not be linked to border security because unforeseen national security events could cause millions to remain in legal limbo.

Strikingly, this idea closely divided not only the public overall but most major demographic groups. Whites leaned slightly toward it and minorities slightly away from it. Republicans supported linking security by a wide margin, but Democrats opposed it by a narrower margin.

The poll results suggest that while Cornyn’s proposal will produce a stark partisan contrast in the Senate, it provokes greater ambivalence inside both parties’ electoral coalitions.

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Q-POLL: RUBIO GETS NEGATIVE MARKS ON IMMIGRATION via Michael Mishak of the Associated Press

Florida voters give Sen. Marco Rubio negative marks for his handling of immigration and gun issues in Washington but still hold favorable views of the rising Republican star.

The Quinnipiac University poll finds 41 percent disapprove of Rubio’s handling of an immigration overhaul in the Senate that would give an estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally a path to citizenship. … 33 percent approve.

The poll found that 58 percent of Florida voters back a path to citizenship for those here illegally.

“As perhaps the best-known Hispanic-American in national politics, Rubio has a tightrope to walk between keeping the folks back home happy and serving as a high-profile symbol for the GOP nationally,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 

WEST WON’T RULE OUT CHALLENGE TO RUBIO

Former Rep. Allen West told WMAL that he wouldn’t rule out a future primary challenge to Sen. Marco Rubio.

“That’s a pretty heavy lift, because you’re talking about running against a sitting senator, and then, of course, that creates that schism that the other side would love to see happen,” said West. “We’ll see what happens down the pike, God will set my feet down the right path.”

West was pressed further by WMAL’s Larry O’Connor, who asked him directly if he would rule out a challenge against Rubio.

“Chirping… chirping… chirping…,” replied West with a chuckle, before elaborating with a more direct response.

 “If I see people that are not taking our country down the right path, if I see people that are not standing up for the right type of principles, and putting their own party politics before what is best for the United States of America,” West indicated he might make a run.

WEST’S DISAPPOINTING DEBUT via the Sun-Sentinel editorial board

He belittled the sexual assaults facing women in the military and cast doubts on their battlefield contributions. And in so doing, former West made the inglorious transition from public servant to a talking head willing to say whatever it takes to draw TV and radio ratings.

While West’s latest interview cements his brand as a Fox News conservative pundit, it also risks alienating his South Florida constituents, should he have further political ambitions, which his fundraising prowess suggests he does.

Worst, West dishonored female members of the military, including all those who have died or been injured fighting for our freedoms in war zones now fought in city neighborhoods, not traditional front lines.

It appears a cost West is willing to pay, as the media spotlight beckons. 
 
***Just months after Florida outlawed Internet Cafes, state pari-mutuel regulators quietly rubber-stamped yet another round of phony “horse races” despite a judge’s scathing 85-page ruling that “pari-mutuel barrel racing” and other such activities are illegal.  Now, Florida’s horsemen and Ocala breeding industry professionals with jobs and businesses at stake are asking the State of Florida to honor the court’s ruling.  “Florida’s $2.2 billion dollar horse racing industry creates 104,000 documented annual Florida jobs.  Our farms, our racing facilities and our horses are an international jewel.” explained Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse Association representatives.  “Governor Scott has committed to getting Floridians back to work by promoting Florida business as the cornerstone of his administration.  Now, we need him to hold true to that vision by putting a stop to this outrageous sidestep of Florida law that is doing just the opposite by putting Florida horsemen and breeders out of work.”***

DEMS FORM COMMITTEE TO TAKE ON SCOTT via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

A coalition of Democratic groups, including the Democratic Governors Association, the Florida Democratic party, and labor groups, have formed a political committee, Florida For All, to take on Gov. Rick Scott. With a Democratic primary for governor likely, the idea is get started on the general election target target well before the nominee is chosen late next summer.

It’s still in early stages, but we hear pollster Dave Beattie and media consultant Rich Davis – alums of the Alex Sink campaign (who presumably would have to find a new team if she runs for governor again) are working with the committee, along with Democratic consultant Ken Morley. The filing lists Carlos Odio, an alum of the Obama White House political office, as chairman of the committee.

No fundraising reports are filed yet, but you can bet it will be a high powered operation to help win back the governor’s mansion in America’s biggest battleground state.

SINK SAYS CRIST WOULD BE A DISASTER FOR DEMOCRATS via the Tampa Bay Times

As she mulls her own political return, Alex Sink “resents all the attention on lifelong-Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist and is intent on being courted for as long as possible.” 

She is “revolted by the prospect of Crist as the Democratic nominee” and called the possibility “a disaster.”

“The campaign against former Gov. Crist would be brutal, she said, noting the job losses during his term, flip-flops on issues, ‘plus all the stuff that hasn’t been written about yet, about the Republican Party fiasco, about Jim Greer, about the party in the Bahamas,’ she said, referring to Crist’s hand-picked GOP chairman, now in prison for stealing party funds and who was accused of hiring prostitutes at a fundraising retreat Crist attended.”

MY TAKE: IF ANYONE WOULD KNOW ABOUT DISASTROUS GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGNS, IT’S SINK Full blog post here

If Sink wants to talk about disastrous gubernatorial campaigns, perhaps she needs to be reminded of her campaign’s inability to chase absentee ballots in central Florida and the I-4 corridor, where upwards of 50,000 absentee ballots ordered by Obama voters went un-chased. Instead, as Joy Reid reported, the Sink team chased phantom votes in north Florida and the Panhandle, spending way too much time there, while eking out only a 6,900 vote margin over the ABR entity in crucial Miami-Dade.

If Sink wants to talk about disastrous gubernatorial campaigns, perhaps she needs to be reminded of her ruinous decision to turn down $2.4 million in public campaign financing. (To understand how dumb that was, Reid wrote in an autopsy of the campaign, consider that Sink raised about $11.2 million and got 2.6 million votes. Assuming she spent it all, that breaks down to $4.30 a vote. At that rate, 62,000 votes would have cost the Sink campaign a mere $266,454. They would have gotten at least 10 times that from public financing.)

If Sink wants to talk about disastrous gubernatorial campaigns, perhaps she needs to be reminded of when she cheated on live TV during a debate.  

If Sink wants to talk about disastrous gubernatorial campaigns, perhaps she needs to be reminded that, despite all of her failings and miscues, The New York Times‘ polling wunderkind Nate Silver still gave Sink a 58% chance of winning two weeks out from the election and yet she still lost. 

Crist would be a disaster, huh? That’s a helluva prediction from the politician named the worst candidate of 2010 by MSNBC (of course, Crist was also a finalist for this infamous distinction, but he’s never had a cross word for Sink.)

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GROUPS SEEKS TO ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE via the News Service of Florida

Equality Florida and the national group Freedom to Marry are trying to spur a move to allow same-sex marriage in Florida — a move that would require repealing a 2008 constitutional amendment. The effort, called “Get Engaged,” comes as 12 other states already allow same-sex marriages or have given approval for such marriages to begin this summer, according to the Freedom to Marry website. Florida voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment that described marriage as being between “one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

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HOW REP. DANA YOUNG IS SPENDING HER SUMMER VACATION Full post here

State Rep. Dana Young was back with her family in Tampa the day after Session ended, where she hugged her kids, kissed her husband and pet her dog. The Young family spends as much time as possible outdoors and in Boca Grande, and just returned from a week in the Abacos, snorkeling and exploring. 

These are vacations well-deserved for the second-term legislator, who passed far-reaching legislation in 2012 and 2013 relating to protecting Florida’s precious groundwater resources, and who puts all of her energies into the bills she chooses to sponsor and support.

Back in the district, Young stays active with community events, including hosting a quarterly “Coffee with Dana”, which are well attended open forums… the coffee and pastries don’t hurt.  And with a two-year term, Young sees herself as always on the campaign trail.

She will be reading a combo of biographies and fun fiction this summer, including a bio on former governor Reubin Askew and a few David Baldacci novels. She is anxiously awaiting the next book in the Game of Thrones series, and will be watching the new Superman movie soon — all before getting back up to Tallahassee this fall, where she looks forward to another productive Session with Speaker Weatherford.

By September, Young will be in full gear and is already working on drafting legislation to have it ready to file early.

SEN. LATVALA AND REP. GOODSON EARN RETAIL FEDERATION HONORS

The Florida Retail Federation announced its annual award of one state representative and one state senator as the most valuable player for the retail industry.  Earning the 2013 awards are State Sen. Jack Latvala and State Rep. Tom Goodson, both of whom are business owners and who understand what it takes to both create jobs and make a payroll. Goodson was recognized for his efforts to champion HB 1125 which would have created a statewide process for resolving wage disputes, and for having worked to pass the bill in the House for three years in a row. He also successfully addressed inequity in delinquency fees that Florida retailers claim on late credit payments.  Latvala was recognized for having sponsored a liability reform measure to protect retailers from unnecessary litigation, and defended the retail industry in the final week of session with a floor amendment to remove a harmful civil cause of action from a bill deregulation drivers’ license verification.

PAGING REP. ED HOOPER: “Warner Bros. Announces ‘Dolphin Tale 2′ Targeted To Hit Theaters in 2014’ 

POLICY NOTES FROM THE QUINNIPIAC POLL via contributor Karen Cyphers

It is common in public opinion studies for people to rate individual politicians more favorably than the political bodies they serve in — and that trend is once again alive in Florida, where recent polling shows only 32 percent of voters approve of the way the legislature is handling the business of the state. Sometimes, disapproval can be tied to specific policies that a legislature enacted — or in this case, didn’t enact.  Among the people polled in the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 49 percent supported an expansion of Medicaid eligibility, while 40 percent did not.  Is it a coincidence that overall 49 percent of respondents also disapproved of the way the Legislature is going about its business?  More thorough analysis would be necessary to really link the two together, but it does appear Floridians are aware that the legislature opted to reject federal funding to cover the cost of expanded care. Overall, 11 percent of respondents didn’t know — or didn’t care to answer — whether they thought expanding Medicaid coverage was a good idea.  

SPOTTED: Reps. Dennis Baxley, Jimmie Smith and Ross Spano and Senator Wilton Simpson at kick-off party for HD 35 candidate Blaise Ignoglia.

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FLORIDA SCHOOL WRONGLY TELLS STUDENTS TO DROP ONLINE COURSE OR ELSE

Florida public school students cannot be charged for taking courses. But tell that to Gateway Charter High School in Fort Myers, who sent confusing and misleading letters to students earlier this month, causing panic among parents who were led to believe their child could owe $425 if failing to complete a course at Florida Virtual School. FLVS employs more than 1,000 teachers and gets paid by the state if students complete their courses. It is unclear why Gateway, operated by Charter Schools USA, would send such a letter which they now state was an “error”.

The letter went on to state that students could drop the FLVS course and instead reenroll in a new online option offered by charter school itself — an option that it seems that many students were compelled to do. FLVS officials say that in the last few weeks nearly 60 students attending Charter Schools USA have dropped courses.

TAXWATCH RELEASES REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF TRADE MISSIONS ON FLORIDA’S ECONOMY via contributor Karen Cyphers

There’s definitely a way to do trade missions that makes them legit versus taxpayer funded transnational road trips. Gov. Jeb Bush perfected that art. Before his first term had ended, Bush led Team Florida trade and business missions to Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay along with business leaders representing 350 Florida companies who together brought greater than $350 million in new business to the state as a direct result of the trips.  Gov. Rick Scott has followed in Bush’s footsteps, according to a report released Wednesday by Florida TaxWatch, which estimates that since 2009, Florida-origin exports have grown from $46.9 billion to $66.2 billion, of which small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up 68 percent of the total.

Although the TaxWatch report doesn’t lay it out in terms of specific return-on-investment, it seems clear by comparison that the about $1 million in public funding spent to support trade partners on these missions is small compared to the resulting impact on Florida’s economy. Some analyses, such as one published by the Maine International Trade Center, estimate a 100-to-1 return on investment for every dollar spent on trade missions. For example, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 trade mission to China cost $125,000 to taxpayers but helped negotiate an agreement with a Chinese pharmaceutical company that will generate $200 million over ten years, making the trip worth that deal alone.  The TaxWatch report also includes a thorough analysis of Florida’s major trade partners here

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APPOINTED: James “Bill” Heavener and Dr. Jason Rosenberg to the University of Florida Board of Trustees.

CHAMBER BACKS ENTITLEMENTS REFORM

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it’s embarking on a push for entitlement reform. At the board of directors annual meeting, Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten called for a national conversation on the issue of entitlement reform. “The business community wants to use its skills and expertise to help the country find smart solutions to the many issues these programs face,” Josten said. “We need a national conversation, not a filibuster – a conversation that leads to understanding and drives us towards swift action.”

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THE FEA’S ANDY FORD here, including…

Q: Will the FEA play a role in next year’s gubernatorial election? Could Scott be moving closer to your positions because he’s reading the same polls?

FORD: Well, it’s still too early to tell. There’s a lot of candidates rumored to get into the race. There’s one Democrat now and one Republican. We’ll evaluate all the announced candidates in the next several months and support the one that really supports neighborhood schools, students and school employees. And we’ll see how it goes. But it’s still too early.

I think where we are is — coming out of the legislative session — the governor took a bounce on the education piece, Medicaid was still not dealt with. There are other issues that weren’t dealt with. And we need to just see how it goes. It’s 17 months from the election, I believe, and 17 months in the world of politics is a lifetime. 

I think, back in the session, that the governor did look at probably the same polling results that we had, of what voters think — which is different than what legislators believe because they run in different districts. The governor has to run statewide, where a legislator runs in a specific geographical area, which does tend to allow them to be a little more radical in their approach than what the governor needs to be. And I think the governor moved a little to the center in order to be able to get his poll numbers to bounce up.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Jim Horne, Strategos Public Affairs: ACT Aspire

Jeff Sharkey, Capitol Alliance Group: Willis Global Solutions

POBLETE TAMARGO TO LOBBY ON CUBA CLAIMS via POLITICO Influence

Lobby shop Poblete Tamargo will lobby on certified claims against Cuba on behalf of John Loeb, who was a shareholder in Atlantico del Golfo Sugar Co. Some of Atlantico’s property was seized by the Castro regime, and he has certified U.S. claims against the Castro regime.

SPOTTED: In the ‘burg, Floridian Partners’ Gary Guzzo, Teye Reeves, and Scott Ross supping with Senator Jeff Brandes.

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EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Announcing the Washington Post Wine Club” — Way to focus on your core mission, WaPo.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the best, Todd Josko.

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.