Sunburn for 6/21 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

TODAY marks the SUMMER SOLSTICE, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere — giving us that much needed excuse to get out of the office and enjoy the longest summer evening of the year.

The solstice marks the point of the year when the northern hemisphere is tilted the most towards the sun and marks the official first day of summer. For all of you who believe in a flat earth, it marks that time of year when the giant dragon that wheels around the earth takes a smoke break (or something along those lines).

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HAS JEB’S TIME COME? via Jon Meachem for TIME

Those who think that ‘Bush Fatigue’ is preemptively fatal to Jeb’s chances may be underestimating the American affinity for brand names.

The speculation about a Bush bid in 2016 tells us a lot about one of the handful of truly influential American families and more than a little bit about the country that family has helped shape. Jeb long ago internalized and then lived out his family’s guiding precepts. Bushes move to new parts of the country; they work hard; they learn from their mistakes, particularly from failed campaigns; and they never, ever give up… the Bushes aren’t kings; in management speak, they’re a line of related products that most Americans recognize and have chosen on three (1988, 2000 and 2004) of the four occasions they’ve been on offer.

It’s possible that the choice will come down to the Bushes and another familiar American product: the Clintons. Perhaps the two clans will soon join Lancashire and York, Gladstone and Disraeli, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and the Yankees and the Red Sox as one of history’s great rivalries.


Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio took a stand in favor of the Republican amendment to surge border security, choosing action over status quo. In his floor remarks, Rubio insisted that border security isn’t “anti-anyone” — that the US, like “every single sovereign country on the planet tries to or does control its borders” and that it is a nation’s sovereign right to do so.

The amendment in question would restore authority to the Senate to choose what the border security plan looked like, rather than an initial proposal in which the Department of Homeland Security would be delegated that critical task (and which riled criticism that this would turn over border security to people who “claim that it is already secure”).  To Rubio, the solution involves adding border agents, doubling the size of the US Border Patrol, completing the fence, implementing an entry-exit tracking system, and utilizing E-Verify.

“In essence, someone who violated our immigration laws cannot become a legal permanent resident in the United States until all five of those things happen,” said Rubio. “That’s the guarantee that this will happen.” Check out video coverage from his floor speech here.


Rubio is being targeted by two anti-immigration groups who take wildly different approaches. Rubio is the target of a new round of ad buys this week from the environmentally oriented group Californians for Population Stabilization and the more conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform. They’re both using the same media buyer – Davis & Company – but both deny explicitly working together. “The people who are pro-immigration are spending millions and millions,” the CAPS director said. “Why would they want to bring in so many workers when so many Americans are out of work?”


Nelson has filed an amendment to the immigration reform bill that he says would significantly bolster security along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.  Nelson believes the move is needed because tighter security on the U.S.-Mexico border will force smugglers and illegal immigrants to look elsewhere for ways to enter the country. 

Senate leadership had signaled the Florida Democrat it was looking to include his amendment in a larger bloc of around two dozen provisions that could be adopted as a package.  Negotiations still are ongoing on the immigration bill. 

Nelson says his amendment is designed to provide Customs and Border Protection with the resources it says it needs to effectively patrol the Gulf of Mexico, which includes the increased use of unmanned drones to spot drug smugglers, human trafficking operations and others trying to enter the country illegally. 

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FARM BILL GETS TAKEN TO THE WOODSHED via the News Service of Florida

A day after Gov. Scott urged Congress to let states impose work requirements on people who seek food assistance, the U.S. House killed a wide-ranging farm bill that would have included the proposal. A combination of Republicans and Democrats voted 234 to 195 on Thursday to reject the proposal, with some opponents worried about cuts to food stamps.

Scott on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner expressing support for an amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland. The governor indicated Florida would like to require people who seek assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to show that they are actively searching for work, similar to a requirement in the state’s unemployment-assistance program.

“U.S. Rep. Southerland’s proposal recognizes the need to reform long-running government-assistance programs to ensure their availability for future generations while allowing states to modernize and tailor their administration of these federal programs,” Scott wrote. Southerland’s amendment was approved along almost straight party lines Thursday before the overall bill died.


It is hard to avoid using the term “Obamacare” when writing frequently about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because it is an easy, less wonky shorthand — but also a shorthand that I have assumed to be derogatory, implying opposition to the health care overhaul. Not so, according to a poll just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, who found that when labeling the health law “Obamacare” support spikes dramatically among Democrats, drops slightly among Republicans, and has almost no effect on the expressed support of Independents.

Overall, support for the law jumps from 35 percent to 42 percent when the term “Obamacare” is used instead of the plain old “health reform law.” But this seven percentage point increase is due almost entirely to the response from Democrats, who move from an approval rating of 58 percent for “health reform law” to 73 percent for “Obamacare.”   Among Republicans, 76 percent disapprove of “the health reform law” and 86 percent disapprove of “Obamacare”; while among Independents, there is little change. Regardless of what vocabulary is used, 33 percent of nonpartisans approve of the law; yet disapproval is higher among those responding to “Obamacare” (52% compared to 43% for “health reform law”).

What the KFF release doesn’t get into, though, is that it seems much of the action comes from people who “didn’t know” or who refused to answer how they felt about the “health reform law.”  It seems that calling it “Obamacare” cleared up confusion about which law was in question, leading people to express their existing views more confidently. For example, among Democrats, 25 percent didn’t know or didn’t answer the question when asked about the “health reform law” while only 10 percent refused for “Obamacare” — a drop of 15 percentage points.  Likewise, among Independents, 24 percent didn’t answer when asked about “health reform” while only 14 percent didn’t answer for “Obamacare.”

***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.”***


Q: Why do the Republicans dominate Florida politics out of all proportion to their percentage of the electorate?

TANT: It’s redistricting. You know, the redistricting in Florida and in other states — it’s not like it sprang up yesterday. This is something that’s been generational. They’ve had a multi-year, multi-cycle plan. 

We have a much greater number of registered Democrats than we do Republicans, yet our state House, state Senate, state Cabinet, Governor’s Mansion — it’s a sweep. And we’ve just now broken the super-majorities in the House and the Senate. 

We have at least a 10-year program, if not a little longer than that, to turn things around. And we’re going to stay the course on that. I will not be moved off of it. I am singularly focused on getting things done. That’s what we’re going to have to do. We’re going to have to have our own multi-year plan to turn things around — we’re doing that. We’re doing that.

People always say we don’t have a bench at the statewide level. When we’re so gerrymandered that people can’t be elected to serve in the state House and Senate, it’s hard to have a platform from which to go from a state race to a statewide race.

Where we do have a strong, strong bench is at the municipal level. We have some amazing mayors and amazing city and county commissioners, which is why I did a fundraiser last night for (Tallahassee mayoral candidate) Andrew Gillum here in town. We are recruiting at all levels. I have met with some people to run for the state Cabinet. And I do have one for certain on the (chief financial officer), but it is not my place to make that candidate’s announcement, so I’m not. And I’m actively recruiting right now on the (attorney general). And in my heart of hearts, I’d love to have an ag commissioner.

So I’m just going to do what I have to do here: build our ranks.

DEMOCRATS LOOKING BEYOND SCOTT IN 2014 via Brandon Larabee of the News Service of Florida

Even as they aimed most of their fire at Gov. Rick Scott during last weekend’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Democrats said they weren’t focused exclusively on Scott.

In fact, party leaders say, they are working to undermine one of the bulwarks of Republican dominance in Florida government — a near-stranglehold on statewide offices, with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson serving as the only statewide elected official in a state that President Barack Obama carried twice.

Aside from Scott, the state GOP also counts among its elected officials U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio; Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Rubio will not be on the ballot in 2014, but all three Cabinet officers will go before voters along with Scott.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant said her party is laying the groundwork for all the statewide contests.

“We’re actively recruiting for the Cabinet right now,” Tant said. “We are not leaving any stone unturned. We are going to look at every race that we can and we’re going to be very aggressive in playing in all of them, including [the] governor’s race.”

Tant told reporters she has already met with a candidate to take on Atwater and is speaking with two potential challengers for Bondi. But she declined to name them.

“In fact, I know we’re going to have a CFO race,” she said. “I know we’re going to have an AG’s race. I’d actually like to have an ag race.”


Political scientist Larry Sabato has a few things to say about the 2014 gubernatorial election cycle… in every state.   But his analysis begins with the reminder that since 1960, about four out of five incumbent governors who run for reelection win the bid. “If anything like this average prevails in 2014, this will severely limit statehouse turnover,” Sabato writes. “At least for the states, 2014 could be a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss.'” That said, Sabato points out three incumbent governors who are looking uncommonly like underdogs: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

“If Malloy is treading water, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida is trying to remember how to swim,” Sabato led with, before discussing the likely candidacy of former Gov. Charlie Crist, and what he sees as Scott’s attempt to up his popularity by supporting federal funding of Medicaid expansion. Sabato continues: “While Floridians wait for confirmation of Crist’s plans, one other major Democrat’s name is still being bandied about: ex-state CFO Alex Sink, Scott’s 2010 opponent. Although Sink has reiterated her reluctance to run again following the recent death of her husband, 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill McBride, that hasn’t stopped her from bashing Crist.” The predicted outcome of all of this? To Sabato, Florida’s gubernatorial election will be, as it almost always is, a toss-up.

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GEORGE LEMIEUX FOR LG? via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

A persuasive case can be made for and against LeMieux. If Crist is the most likely Democrat to give Scott a run for his money, LeMieux makes sense politically: Few know Crist better than LeMieux, he knows where a body or two is buried, and he can play rough if Scott wants a partner in the hatchet man role. LeMieux has high-level state government experience, too.

On the negative side, he’ll have to answer for all of his votes in the U.S. Senate, and his close association with Crist as the “the maestro” of Crist’s 2006 victory no doubt left scar tissue with the GOP base. Then there’s LeMieux’s very unsuccessful campaign to hold the Senate seat Crist handed him, and the fact that he’s a button-down, white male lawyer from Broward County who will add no sizzle to the Scott ticket.

But before you dismiss LeMieux out of hand as an impossible choice, ask yourself: Did you think Crist would put him in the United States Senate?


Gov. Scott’s office Thursday announced that a pharmaceutical marketing research firm and an aerospace company are relocating to Florida, while a Volusia County-based employer is expanding.

New Jersey-based dtw Marketing Research Group, Inc., will move its corporate headquarters to Amelia Island, bringing 40 jobs and $2.1 million in capital investment over the next two years. ATR North America, which specializes in turbo-prop aircraft manufacturing, plans to bring its American headquarters to Miami Springs, adding up to 40 direct jobs and $125,000 in capital investment within three years. And DuvaSawko, a medical information technology firm, will expand its national headquarters in Ormond Beach, creating 68 jobs and making an initial capital investment of more than $1.5 million over three years. DuvaSawko currently employs 133 people in Volusia and has formed Edge Physicians Inc., an affiliated medical software company.

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On this week’s “Florida NewsMakers” program, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon sits down with Alia Faraj-Johnson. Their discussion took place in the heart of the State Emergency Operations Center soon after Tropical Storm Andrea made landfall in Florida.

Amid what’s expected to be a busy hurricane season, Koon advises every Floridian should have a disaster readiness plan. “If you’re in the state of Florida you can be impacted by a hurricane,” Koon tells Faraj-Johnson. “Everywhere in the state is susceptible to either storm surge, wind, heavy rain, inland flooding or the tornadoes that a hurricane spawns. So it’s very important to prepare for those situations.” Koon addresses those issues as well as efforts to minimize the impact of the federal sequester on the National Guard’s ability to help respond to emergencies. 


Single-family home sales across Florida stood 18.7 percent higher in May compared to a year earlier, Florida Realtors reported Thursday. The Realtors recorded closing 22,375 single-family home sales in May, the highest May total in Florida since 2005, when 24,523 sales were completed with the median price of $232,000.

Florida Realtors President Dean Asher said the sales numbers are helping to attract more people to list their homes for sale. “Statewide, new listings for single-family homes increased 10.2 percent in May, while new townhome-condo listings rose 7.1 percent,” Asher said in a release. 

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Fasano did not linger in Tallahassee after Sine Die. He returned to his district, did his laundry, got his hair cut, and returned constituent phone calls.  As in, he got right back to work, doing precisely what has led the Bay Area icon to become one of the most treasured assets of the region, tireless in his constituent outreach and often working through weekends at his district office.

The 2013 session was a strong one for Fasano, who was most proud of stopping anti-consumer legislation from passing, and who was pleasantly surprised that he and Rep. Mark Pafford worked so well together.

This summer, Fasano will be reading Killing Lincoln, and looks forward to watching a rerun of To Kill a Mockingbird along with other films on the classic movie channel.

Don’t expect to see Fasano in Tallahassee too soon… when asked if he is eager to return to the capitol for committee meetings in the fall, he replied, “Please ask me this question again in September!”

When those days roll around, Fasano think he knows what will be leadership’s priorities: pension reform, deregulating the health care industry and positioning for the 2014 elections.  But as far as his own reelection is concerned, the seasoned representative knows, it’s much too early to hit the campaign trail.

JUDGE ORDERS DELAY IN REDISTRICTING CASE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

A Tallahassee judge agreed Thursday to extend the court date in the already long-running lawsuit challenging the state’s congressional redistricting map to give the parties time to fight over whether or not legislators will be required to testify.

Ruling from the bench, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis gave the coalition of voters groups and the state until December or January to conduct the trial, instead of Aug. 19 as was previously scheduled.

The delay gives time for the Florida Supreme Court to rule on whether current and former legislative leaders will have to testify about the central question in the case: whether they violated the constitutional ban against intentionally drawing the maps to benefit their party.

… Republican political consultant Marc Reichelderfer acknowledged in a deposition that he and other GOP political consultants privately met with staff members working for Senate President Don Gaetz and former House Speaker Dean Cannon to “brainstorm” about redistricting.

He also testified that he was provided with a copy of the congressional redistricting maps weeks before the Legislature’s maps were made public so that he could provide advice and input to Cannon and others. 

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Rep. Mark Danish is set to throw his first campaign kickoff and fundraiser, on June 27th, at the home of Alan Clendenin in Tampa. Danish was first elected to the House in 2012, and has had an impressive career in education, being named the Top Science School Teacher in 2004, and active within the Hillsborough County Teachers Association. Join Danish’s host committee, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, and Danish’s current colleagues Representatives Darryl Rouson, Betty Reed, and Carl Zimmermann, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at 614 W. Swann Ave. 


Ed Narain, candidate for State House District 61, invites you to join him at a fundraising reception on Thursday, June 27, at 5:30 p.m. Join Narain and hosts including Dr. Kendra Sweet and Nate Bahill, Moses and Ladina Allen, Robert and Michelle Blalock, and others, at the Tampa Club at 101 East Kennedy.  


Do you want to see Rep. Matt Hudson back in Tallahassee for another term? Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli does, and invites you to join him for a fundraiser in Hudson’s honor.  There are no dull sessions for Hudson, who chairs Health Care Appropriations, and co-chairs the Select Committee on PPACA as well as the Health and Human Services Budget Conference.  The event will be at the Governors Club on June 27, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

SPOTTED: Reps. Richard Corcoran, Jamie Grant, and Dana Young at fundraiser for House candidate Chris Sprowls.

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Edgar Castro, Southern Strategy Group: CVS/Caremark

Daniella Levine: Human Services Coalition of Dade County, Inc.

Colin Roopnarine: Office of Financial Regulation

REAPPOINTED: Edward Bailey and Marlen “Rick” Hager to the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota District Board of Trustees.

RENEE DABBS EMAILS: “As some of you may know, I am no longer with the Victory Group.  I have joined the Voyageur Company, a national political firm.”

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Duke Energy’s Michele Cavallo, Anthony Katchuk, young Dem Shannon Love

TWEET, TWEET: @ChrisDorworth When the Heat win, I think @FLGovScott should tweet “#itworked” to Governor Perry

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.