Sunburn for 6/27 — 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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In highly anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes such as Social Security survivors’ benefits, insurance benefits, immigration and tax filing.

Section 3 of the law defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and a spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” That provision had been struck down by eight lower courts before the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor.

>>>BuzzFeed chronicles the “running of the interns” with photos and video of the fleet-footed (and otherwise) ferrying Supreme Court opinions to on-air reporters. See it here.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Apostle Paul’s Writings Defend Homosexuality Says World-Famous Cryptographer and Biblical Researcher


Rep. Tim Huelskamp and other conservative members of Congress say they will attempt to introduce in the coming days a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, National Journal’s Matt Vasilogambros reports. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling deeming the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, several Republicans expressed their disappointment with the decision and vowed to take action. Read more


The Supreme Court’s decision to decline a ruling on California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, will allow same-sex marriages to take place in the state. California Gov. Jerry Brown already directed county clerks to soon begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a task clerks tell the Los Angeles Times they are ready to begin. Gay-rights groups celebrated the Court’s rulings Wednesday, and the president of the Human Rights Campaign pledged that “within five years, we will bring marriage equality to all 50 states.”

THE STATE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: In the wake of today’s SCOTUS decisions, Bloomberg maps where same-sex marriage stands across the country. See it here.


A majority of Americans say they support same-sex marriage, according to a new poll released hours before the Supreme Court’s historic decision on a pair of cases involving gay rights.

According to the survey from CNN and ORC, 55 percent of Americans say they support allowing homosexuals to marry one another, while 44 percent disagree. That’s up 11 percentage points from the beginning of President Obama’s time in office.

The survey also found that six in 10 Americans believe the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages performed in the states that already permit gay marriage. Of those surveyed, 39 percent say they back the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from doing so.

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A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds a majority of Americans regard President Obama favorably, but his numbers have softened considerably among his fellow Democrats.

Obama’s favorability stands at 53%, compared to 44% of Americans who view him unfavorably. 

While 85% of Democrats regard Obama favorably, the number of those who are strongly supportive of him has dropped since the start of the year. Just 58% of Democrats describe themselves as having a “strongly favorable” view of Obama, down from 72% who said the same in January.

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Sen. Marco Rubio, increasingly battered by conservatives over his role in the immigration bill, both coddled and pushed back against his critics in a speech today.  “To hear the worry, anxiety and growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate, who I agree with on virtually every other issue, has been a real trial for me,” the Florida Republican said. “I realize that in the end, many of my fellow conservatives will still not be able to support this reform. But I hope you will understand that I honestly believe it is the right thing for our country. To finally have an immigration system that works, to finally have a fence, more agents and E-Verify, and to finally put an end to de facto amnesty. In my heart and in my mind, I know that we must solve this problem once and for all, or it will only get worse. It will only get harder to solve.” Rubio also released a long letter making similar points as he does in the speech. 

TWEET, TWEET: Robert J. Luck to the Eleventh Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County.


The Senate ended debate on the comprehensive immigration reform bill on Wednesday by a 67-31 vote. Fifteen Republicans voted in support of the Corker-Hoeven amendment, which allocates an additional $38 billion for border-security measures and was passed on a 69-29 vote. Sens. Roger Wicker and Jeffrey Chiesa voted for the amendment but voted against ending debate. Although Democrats came close to their 70-vote goal on the amendment, some Republicans have yet to say if they’ll support the overall bill.

>>>Roll Call notes that House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans in a meeting Wednesday that he wouldn’t bring the Senate’s immigration bill up for a vote.


Rep. Paul Ryan “is emerging as his party’s leading champion of immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives.” 

With Senate passage of a sweeping immigration bill imminent, Ryan has been meeting with House conservatives to persuade them that reform of the immigration system, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, is an economic necessity and critical to fixing the nation’s fiscal problems.

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Democrats are blaming Florida Congressman Steve Southerland for the failure of a bill renewing subsidies to farmers and food vouchers for the poor.

Southerland’s amendment requiring recipients to show their looking for work, helped tank the bill when it came up for a full House vote. In a conference call, Jackson County Commissioner Jeremy Branch accused Southerland of making a political statement in a typically, a-political bill:

“This is obviously a Tea Party issue,” said Branch, who lives in Southerland’s district. “Tight scrutiny of aid to the poor is obviously a platform of the Tea Party, and Southerland was a Tea Party Candidate. I’m quite sure he feels he owes his seat to the Tea Party and what they stand for.”    

The work requirement is also a part of Florida’s unemployment system, a change championed by Governor Rick Scott.  Some Congressional Democrats also withheld their support for the Farm Bill because it cuts financing for the food stamp program.

HOW IT’S PLAYING FOR SOUTHERLANDTallahassee Democrat, Southerland, a two-term incumbent from Panama City, believes the bill was doomed by the cuts – which he supported – not his amendment”… Time, Southerland’s Amendment a partisan poison pill to the farm bill – and it was enough to kill the measure”… Tampa Bay Times, Farm bill died after Southerland introduced amendment – Democrats will bludgeon him with the bill”… Southeast Farm Press, Southerland amendment key to farm bill failure – would have given states the power to require food stamp recipients to seek work, bringing backlash from Democrats”… The Hill, “Southerland amendment cost key support for farm bill – surprised by the number of GOP defections”… Sunshine State News, House Republicans blame Southerland for losing farm bill – a five-year farm bill leadership badly wanted”… Politico, Defeat of farm bill propelled by Southerland amendment – for decades the farm bill has been a beacon of bipartisanship in an increasingly rough-and-tumble chamber”… National Journal, Fault lay with adoption of Southerland amendment – too punitive in forcing work requirements on food-stamp recipients”… The Hill, Southerland amendment accused of being the straw that broke support for the farm bill – only a handful of Democrats dropped support after Boehner’s dairy amendment passed.”

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WHO CARES? “Rep. Dennis Baxley Endorses Jorge Bonilla for Congress”

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Rich was shunned by her own party when denied an opportunity to speak at their annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner earlier this month. But shunning is not in style for the Suncoast Tiger Bay club, who has invited Rich into the den for a luncheon on August 28.

Rich may be the only Democrat who has formally declared for the 2014 race, but among the field of prospective candidates polls suggest she is the only one who would lose to Gov. Scott if the election were held today.  It is going to take more than railing on Scott to prove her leadership stripes, so perhaps this luncheon will draw out of the former State Senator and Minority Leader how she would achieve her goal of seeing “a Florida where all people are treated with respect… and where children reach their full potential.”  Members may also ask her what gives her the confidence to enter a statewide gubernatorial race despite having had only one actual election contest in her twelve years in office, and never once a primary.


To the left-of-center Florida Squeeze, Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision regarding the Voting Rights Act  of 1965 could be used a major campaign issue in favor of Charlie Crist, “whose two decades Civil Rights record is nearly flawless,” against Rick Scott, “who based on yesterday’s statement plans to emulate the behavior of other southern governors” and who may “perhaps even subtly race bait in next year’s campaign.”  

Then, to the smaller-government-leaning Sunshine State News, today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act poses problems for Crist, in that it will give Crist’s foes a chance to point out his many flip-flops and evolutions on same-sex marriage.  (As though they needed any more fodder to do that.)

Both sides may be looking too hard to find ready attack-mailer copy in these high court decisions.  And both rely on the fact that most voters aren’t dwelling on the legal nuance behind the two SCOTUS opinions. If anything, the DOMA ruling could become another asset for Crist, as conservatives get pinned into the same corners that the former governor once occupied himself.

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Nelson has sent yet another email to Scott warning that the state could lose almost 122,000 jobs over the next ten years if the Legislature isn’t called back into session to expand the program as part of the Affordable Care Act by January.

“Earlier this month you traveled to Paris for an air show and while there announced a French firm would move to Florida over the next several years and create 40 jobs in our state. I congratulate you,” Nelson says in the email to Scott. “But, if you were to call a special session of the Legislature and urge state lawmakers to listen to the people and business leaders of Florida, the expansion of Medicaid alone could create 3,000 times that many jobs.”

Nelson also wrote Scott on the same issue in May.

Scott has advocated for the Legislature to expand Medicaid, but the Legislature refused. During an interview in Sarasota County last month, Scott put the blame at the feet of the Florida House.

“I said yes; the Senate said yes; the House said no,” Scott said. “So something has got to change.”

WILL SCOTT’S VETO HURT DIVORCED, ABUSED WOMEN? via Shelby Webb and Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Herald-Tribune

Scott last month unexpectedly vetoed $1.8 million for the state’s Displaced Homemakers Program, which for decades has helped divorced and abused women and widows get training for jobs and to handle finances. Program supporters worry about the effects of the cuts, while Scott said the services are being offered by other organizations.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Deer and Feral Hog Hunts Proposed for Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge”


Florida is still short of about 500,000 jobs in reaching a pre-recession peak of more than 8 million jobs, according to the business group the Florida Chamber Foundation. Using St. Louis Federal Reserve data, the foundation found the state had the highest number of jobs in March 2007, half a year before the Great Recession hit in December 2007. More from the Florida Chamber Foundation here.


In 2008, when then-Governor Charlie Crist was hot on the campaign trail and perhaps vying to join Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid, his personally appointed State Surgeon General Ana Viamonte-Ros was vocal in her support for Barack Obama.  Viamonte-Ros, head of the Department of Health, was known to buck executive office policy more than once — sometimes even lobbying contrary to what the Governor’s staff had directed. But she was one of only a few agency heads to remain in her post for the entirety of Crist’s tenure.

That’s just a point for comparison. Fast forward to June of 2013, when Leon County Health Department director Dr. Homer Rice was ousted after 36 years with the agency and eight years in the top post, over a comment he made at a Capital Area Healthy Start meeting.

During a presentation about Leon County’s spike in infant deaths, Rice was quoted in the Tallahassee Democrat as saying that while local health care was in line with the rest of the state, “the rest of the state sucks.”

Nobody has outright stated that this is why Rice was forced to retire, agreeing to resign three years sooner than he had expected to do so. But the timing and innuendo is clear.

“Dr. Rice had complained openly that he feared losing his job if he criticized in any way the policies or practices of the Florida Department of Health,” said Dr. Ed Holifield, physician and activist. “I was present on at least two occasions when such fear was expressly stated or implied.”

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Legislative Leadership awards were granted to Sen. Wilton Simpson and Rep. Eddy Gonzalez for the efforts to protect local tax dollars and home rule, the idea that the government closest to the people it represents usually governs best.  Simpson had led the charge to close a loophole in the affordable housing property tax exemption, which will save local governments more than $140 million each year over the next five years.  Gonzalez was recognized for his leadership as Chairman of the Local and Federal Affairs Committee in protecting county authority.

County Champion awards were given to ten legislators: Sen. Denise Grimsley, for her leadership in addressing the state-county Medicaid cost-share; Rep. John Wood for working to reduce county Medicaid mandates; Rep. Mike Fasano, who championed a bill to increase prescription drug monitoring; Sen. Arthenia Joyner for helping with county Medicaid contributions; Sen. Jack Latvala, for working on the environmental regulatory legislation and more; Senators Bill Montford and Greg Evers for working on the Gulf Coast Corridor Act; Rep. Matt Caldwell for leadership in agriculture, natural resources and claims bills; Rep. Daniel Davis, who worked to close a loophole in affordable housing; and Rep. Ritch Workman, who worked to stabilize the communications services tax.

HISPANIC CAUCUS CHAIR BLASTS DOLPHINS OWNER via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

The chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus blasted the owner of the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday for a political effort aimed at House members who were critical of a plan to upgrade the team’s stadium. The letter from Sen. Rene Garcia came two days after reports about Dolphins owner Stephen Ross forming Florida Jobs First PAC, which has already targeted some Republicans who didn’t back legislation allowing Miami-Dade County to ask voters if an existing hotel bed tax could be increased for Sun Life Stadium upgrades this year.

In the letter released Wednesday, Garcia slammed Ross for “recklessly attacking members of the Hispanic Caucus” and demanded an apology. Lawmakers hit by the PAC’s mailers include Reps. Michael Bileca, Jose Felix Diaz and Carlos Trujillo of Miami, according to the Miami Herald. He also suggested that Ross’ political moves might come back to haunt the Dolphins owner. Weatherford said the issue did not get heard by the House Appropriations Committee, lacked support from members of the Miami-Dade delegation and was trailing among voters in Miami-Dade.


State Senator Maria Sachs didn’t linger in Tallahassee long after Sine Die in 2013, but had every reason to return home pleased with her session accomplishments.

The second-term attorney from Delray fought hard to fund Broward College and the new medical school for FAU, along with sufficient resources for veterans nursing homes.

She left having worked closely with Republican Sen. Nancy Detert, who championed the ban of texting while driving and legislation on children in foster care, and who surprised Sachs for the better in the process.

When not busy lawmaking, Sachs is busy with her law practice, and will soon be seeing her son Taylor off to FSU law where he will follow in her footsteps.

On the summer vacation list, the Sachs family will be visiting Scandinavian countries in late July; and for summer reading, Sachs already has a roster of books in the queue: Entrepreneur America: Lessons from Inside Rob Ryan’s High-Tech Start-Up Booth Camp, by Rob Ryan and Phaedra Hise; Education in the Creative Economy, by Daniel Araya and Michael A. Peters; and for fun the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin. 

“I am still trying to catch up and learn all the character storylines!” Sachs writes. 

When committee meetings begin in late September, Sachs will be happy to be back in Tallahassee with her colleagues, working to secure education funding.

 In the meantime, if you are in Sachs’ district and want to stay tuned, check out her weekly newsletter “The Sachs-Sentinel” or join in at a town hall meeting.

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A fundraising reception for Rep. Dane Eagle will be held tonight 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. 


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.  


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. 


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.

ROSS SPANO DRAWS A DEMOCRATIC OPPONENT via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

Attorney Ty Hinnant filed to run against Spano as a Democrat on Monday.

… Hinnant, an attorney based out of Brandon who has called the Tampa Bay area home for two decades, took aim at Spano’s opposition to the expansion of Medicaid. After talking with Sunshine State News on Tuesday, Hinnant, whose father served 20 years in the Army and later served with the Pasco County sheriff’s office, sent over a statement in which he said he would fight for job creation and expanding access to health care.

“Ross Spano’s vote against Medicaid expansion is simply unacceptable,” Hinnant said in the statement. “Rejecting the $51 billion over the next 10 years will leave millions of Floridians without access to health care. In addition, Medicaid expansion would provide a substantial  amount of jobs for Floridians.”

Spano and Hinnant will battle in a swing district. Democrats have a slight edge over Republicans here on paper: 38 percent to 37 percent. But as Spano’s win over Gottlieb illustrates, Republicans can win here — and the Democratic candidate was helped out in 2012 by Barack Obama’s and Bill Nelson’s strong showings in Hillsborough County. Rick Scott beat out Democrat Alex Sink by 2 percent here in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

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APPOINTED: Robert J. Luck to the Eleventh Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County.


Broward County has hired Capitol Counsel, Gephardt Group Government Affairs and The Cormac Group to lobby on environmental and transportation issues. Capitol Counsel will work on port Everglades expansion for the county, while the Cormac Group lobby on the Water Resources Development Act. The Gephardt Group will work on beach replenishment and surface transportation issues. All three were signed on Monday, June 24. Former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt and three other lobbyists will work on the account for Gephardt Group.


Atwater yesterday announced the hiring of Chris Cate, who will serve as the CFO’s new communications director beginning July 8. 

“In the last three years, we have made tremendous accomplishments in our efforts to increase transparency and accountability to taxpayers, fight fraud, eliminate government waste, and foster economic growth and prosperity, and I am excited about the possibilities Chris brings to further our ambitious agenda and make Florida even more prosperous for its citizens,” CFO Atwater said. “Chris’ leadership, creativity and broad communications experience will be valued assets to our team and help us continue to reinforce the importance of accountability and transparency.” 

Chris Cate has served as communications director for Florida’s Department of State since 2011. He has previously served as a spokesperson for Florida’s Department of Transportation, Executive Office of the Governor, Agency for Workforce Innovation and Department of Environmental Protection. Prior to his work in government, Cate was a television news producer and sports reporter for the CBS affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama from 2005 to 2007. Cate also taught English at Wesley Chapel High School in Wesley Chapel, Florida from 2004 to 2005.

TWEET, TWEET: @aaalex32: Looking forward to working with @ChrisCate in @JeffAtwater’s communications office.


Joseph Cardwell, ERiS Group: Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

Tyler Cathey, Englander Fischer, LLP: Grant & Eisenhofer

Jason Unber, GrayRobinson, P.A: Promise Healthcare, Inc.

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CAN’T WAIT TO READThis Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America’s Gilded Capitalby Mark Leibovich. “The great thing about Washington is no matter how many elections you lose, how many times you’re indicted, how many scandals you’ve been tainted by, well, the great thing is you can always eat lunch in that town again. What keeps the permanent government spinning on its carousel is the freedom of shamelessness, and that mother’s milk of politics, cash.”

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY to St Petersburg’s greatest mayor, Rick Baker and my good, good friend Tony DeSisto.

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.