Sunburn for 6/29: 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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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN THE BUSINESS: Sarah Bascom. First met her (briefly) while working on the campaign of the late, great Jim King. There are few — like, I can count them on one hand — who are as good at what they do as Sarah. And she does it all with class and aplomb .

GRATEFUL: Sarah was one of the first to believe in, i.e., advertise on  I am forever grateful for her support.


The decision has special impact on Florida, where one in five residents is uninsured, the third highest rate in the nation.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has refused to accept federal grants to implement a state-run insurance exchange designed to allow consumers to compare prices and coverage to buy insurance. Now the state must scramble to set up exchanges in time to carry out an insurance exchange or Uncle Sam will step in to provide one for Floridians.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @ProgressFlorida: We’d like to thank Mitt Romney for paving the way for today’s historic decision on health care reform.


Now the focus is on the fate of Medicaid, which already absorbs $21.4 billion of Florida’s $69.9 billion state budget. State taxpayers pick up $9.7 billion of the program, with the remainder covered by the federal government.

State officials said Florida taxpayers will have to pay $121.2 million more next year, mostly to cover the enrollment of those already eligible for coverage but who have stayed out of the program for various reasons. The Affordable Care Act’s mandate is likely to bring these Floridians into Medicaid.

But cost of annual coverage is expected to reach an additional $473 million by 2016.

But health care advocates have argued the Affordable Care  Act is worth the extra cost. Florida has 4 million have no health coverage, among the largest populations in the nation without coverage.

Workers losing jobs and health coverage during the economic downturn swelled the ranks of low-income, elderly and disabled Floridians covered by Medicaid from 2.1 million in 2007 to 3 million this year, with the number forecast to grow to 5 million by 2020 under the new law.

Under the law, the federal government would absorb all of the initial expansion costs, but states will have to start paying a percentage in 2016 if they want to draw federal dollars.

 The states’ share for those becoming eligible under the new law would max out at 10 percent in 2020, but even that, state officials say, is expected to cost an extra $1 billion in Florida.

>>>PolitiFact: Top 5 falsehoods about the health care law


Rick Scott: “The tax question was repeatedly refuted by members of Congress who helped pass this health care takeover. he justices have declared that the central provision of Obamacare is a judicially mandated tax.  A new tax, pure and simple.  This is just another burden the federal government has put on American families and small businesses. With the national economy struggling to recover, now is not the time to implement a massive social program that injects nothing but uncertainty and doubt into our economic system.  By doing so, they have put up yet another major roadblock to efforts to get people back to work and forced the government into the important relationship between patients and their doctors. I stand with Justice (Anthony) Kennedy (who dissented) that the entire act should have been held invalid.”

Pam Bondi: “Surprised. Shocked. They (justices) did say, however, that they (Congress) cannot do this under the (Constitution’s) Commerce Clause, that you cannot force a person to purchase a product simply by being alive under the Commerce Clause. However, they (justices) found that this is a tax, and that’s contrary to everything that our president has been saying. So this is a tax on the American people, and that’s how it was upheld.”

Bill Nelson: “A lot of us feel the health care law wasn’t perfect.  But it was needed.  Our system was broken and we had to do something.  Insurance companies were refusing to cover people or dropping those who got sick.  So, we passed legislation to prevent insurers from running roughshod over people.  And today, the Supreme Court upheld most of these reforms.  Now, I think it’s time we finish the job of fixing our economy and creating more jobs.”

Marco Rubio: “What’s important to remember is that what the court rules on is whether something is constitutional or not, not whether it’s a good idea. And while the court has said that the law is constitutional, it remains a bad idea for our economy, and I hope that in the fall we will have a majority here that will not just repeal this law, but replace it with real solutions that will insure more people and cost a lot less money.”


Nate Cohn downplays the electoral consequences of today’s decision: If the Court had gone a different direction, the electoral consequences could have been more significant. But since the ruling preserves the status quo, the fundamentals of the health care debate remain essentially unaltered. Dissatisfaction with the health care law is already priced into the President’s approval ratings—Obama’s pursuit of health care reform was a defining element of his first term, and voters have already judged him on that basis. Opposition to the health care law was never driven by arcane constitutional concerns, even if many viewed it as government overreach.

Nate Silver echoes: [B]e wary of whatever the polls say for the next week or two — the short-term reaction to the news of the ruling may not match its long-term political effects. As before, the presidential election is mostly likely to be contested mainly on economic grounds. Next week’s jobs report is likely to have a larger effect on the election than what the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

SUPREME COURT DECISION BAD FOR SCOTT by Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Make no mistake about it, this was a bad U.S. Supreme Court decision for Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

No political figure in the nation has tied himself more to the defeat of President Barack Obama’s health care reform program than Scott.

Scott didn’t just lose his political gamble that the reforms would be declared unconstitutional. Now he has a major public policy problem: Implementing a law after rejecting millions of dollars in federal aid aimed at helping Florida and other states get started.


Mr Rubio has not yet found a way to live up to his billing as a bridge between the Republican Party and alienated minorities. As he himself quips, Hispanic voters will not plump for a candidate just because he has o’s at the end of his name. His efforts to concoct a measure on illegal immigration that could pass muster with the Republican base while still softening the party’s image with Hispanics have come to naught. “I have work to do in my party,” he concedes. As things are, adding Mr Rubio to the Republican ticket this year (or nominating him outright in four years’ time) would smack of tokenism.

Moreover, Mr Rubio suffers from several cosmetic handicaps in the veepstakes. He briefly converted to Mormonism as a child, although he has also moonlighted as an evangelical and now describes himself as a Catholic. Mr Romney, who seems keen to avoid any discussion of his faith, may feel reluctant to add another tinge of Mormonism to the ticket. What is more, Mr Romney is said to be looking for a running-mate who will reinforce his image as an experienced economic manager, in contrast to the picture he paints of Mr Obama as an inspirational but ultimately underqualified amateur. Mr Rubio, who for all his winning qualities remains a career politician who has never run anything much and is only 41 to boot, has a little too much in common with the president for comfort.


U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and congressional Democrats are loading up already for a big fall TV advertising blitz, combining to buy more than $2.8 million of ads on Orlando TV stations months ahead of the November election, reports Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel.

Nelson, who has been under attack from ads aired by Republican-oriented super PACS since April, has not run his first paid commercial. But his campaign just reserved 1,113 spots for the period between August 27 and Election Day, Nov. 8, at a cost of $961,773.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also just reserved more than 1,000 commercial spots on WKMG, WFTV and WESH-Channel 4, for $1.84 million, according to an Orlando Sentinel review of public records. A DCCC spokeswoman said the committee has set aside $2.25 million for Orlando TV, out of $6.24 million it plans to spend statewide in Florida.


The state and the opponents of a suspended voter registration law are moving toward a settlement in a lawsuit over the new rules, both sides said Thursday, even as a group of voters is trying to brush aside the state’s legal strategy and pursue an appeal, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

In a brief scheduling conference Thursday with U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle, who struck down new regulations on third-party voter registration organizations at the end of last month, an attorney for the groups said the two sides were close to striking a deal.

“We expect to get something on file with the court shortly memorializing the agreement,” said Farrah Berse, a lawyer representing opponents who had sued to block the law.

In an interview later on Thursday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner confirmed that both sides are trying to avoid a longer legal battle over the voter law, passed by the Legislature last year.


A new group is defending three Florida Supreme Court justices who are seeking voter approval for another term. Miami businessman Stanley Tate, a staunch Republican who founded Florida’s Prepaid College Tuition Program, is on the board of Defend Justice from Politics.

Tate said that the justices are being attacked by special interests and politicians who are angry over rulings that have protected individual rights under the Florida Constitution.


(H)ow does the governor’s ethically challenged, $189,000-a-year chief of staff get to stick around this long after he was fi… uh, after he resigned in May? I can’t recall where any of the state employees MacNamara dispatched with a pink slip over the years were allowed to stay on as long after the hatchet.

His bizarre farewell reception in the middle of a tropical storm Monday night — complete with a special award — only serves as a reminder that life in the state capital is one rickety roller coaster ride after another.


That imaginary pie gambling industry analysts talk about is still growing in Florida. The 2012 version of Casino City’s North American Gaming Almanac was released Wednesday, compiling revenues for casinos across the United States. Overall, gambling for 2010 shrank from $92 billion to $91 billion. But in Florida, slot, poker and pari-mutuel wagering revenues from Florida horse tracks, dog tracks and jai-alai frontons grew 39.8 percent, from $318 million in 2009 to $445 million in 2010.

***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.***


The Republican primary has been full of charges that candidates are not conservative or “political parasites.” That’s on top of an accusation that one candidate tried to bribe another out of the race.

U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns and his representatives maintain that his is a positive campaign all the while calling his opponent, the former Alachua County sheriff Oelrich a “RINO” — Republican in Name Only—and criticized Oelrich for writing a $10,400 check to get on the ballot instead of qualifying by collecting signatures.

Oelrich says he is “running an honest, grassroots campaign,” while his campaign told the Ocala Star-Banner about money Stearns earmarked for Central Florida Community College — where his wife, Joan, is an administrator. The paper published a story that questioned whether promotions and salary bumps Joan Stearns received were tied to the money.

BURGIN FACES LONG ODDS IN SENATE BID by Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune

“It will be interesting to see how it plays out, though, because Rachel does have a lot of grass-roots support,” local Republican political consultant April Schiff said.

Indeed, Burgin is a church-going, abortion-opposing, low-tax advocating, home-schooling, poster child for the modern ultra-conservative. Since many of Burgin’s constituents in the east Hillsborough County district she hopes to represent are as conservative as she is, she has to be taken seriously.

We know how popular Ronda Storms is in that part of the county, and Burgin is the closest thing going to her political clone.


Holly Raschein, Republican candidate for House District 120, announced the unanimous support of the incoming, senior member Republicans of the Florida House of Representatives including RepresentativeMarti Coley, Representative Eddy Gonzalez, Representative Doug Holder, Representative Ed Hooper, Representative Seth McKeel, Representative Peter Nehr, Representative Bryan Nelson, Representative Jimmy Patronis, Representative Steve Precourt and Representative Robert Schenck.

“Holly is a bright, hard-working and capable person ready to make a positive impact in the Florida Legislature.  We have seen her work tirelessly on issues that are important to the Keys and South Florida.   We think District 120 would benefit with Holly Raschein as their Representative,” said the senior house members in a joint statement.


>>>State Rep. Dennis Baxley endorses Aaron Bean for SD 4.

>>>State Rep. Steve Precourt endores Jim Frishe for SD22.

MEDIA WATCH: Democratic strategist Ana Cruz is the new Democrat commentator for Bay News 9, according to Bright House Networks, the cable broadcaster which owns the local news station. Cruz replaces Betty Castor. “Very excited to be on board during this election,” Cruz tweeted early Thursday.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Crash David Koch’s South Hampton Fundraiser for Mitt Romney”

BIRTHDAY WISHES: Dem strategist Christian Ulvert on Friday, Rubio regional director Janelle Pepe on Saturday, and Tampa up-and-comer Scott Strepina on Sunday.

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.