Sunburn for 7/13: 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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FORECAST POINTS TO VERY CLOSE ELECTION

Alan Abramowitz updates his presidential election forecasting model and finds “growing partisan polarization has important implications for forecasting the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. With the American electorate both closely and deeply divided along party lines, we can expect another close election this year — probably closer than the 2008 election and possibly as close as the 2000 election.”

“There is only one prediction that seems very safe right now — it’s going to be a long election night.”

CROSSROADS GPS LAUNCHES NEW AD IN FLORIDA, “TIRED”

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies today announced a new television issue ad in Florida and eight other states urging the President to address the nation’s jobs crisis and out-of-control debt.

The new ad, called “Tried,” will air on network television stations in Florida, as well as in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia for the next 7-10 days, and can be viewed here.

The ad is part a $25 million nationwide advocacy effort by Crossroads GPS launched last week to frame the issue debate over jobs and debt, which will run through early August.

CONNIE MACK RELEASES 2Q FUNDRAISING: 839K RAISED; $1.35 CASH-ON-HAND 

Connie Mack’s campaign reported raising $839,556 during the quarter and having $1.35 million cash on hand.

THE VILLAGES HAS BECOME AN ATM FOR THE GOP

The Villages, the Central Florida retirement community owned by Gary Morse, has become something of an ATM for the Republican Party, according to a story by Salon.com. The piece cites a $50,000 check from Morse, a co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s Florida campaign, written to a new super PAC supporting U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack.

But in addition to nearly $900,000 that Morse, his family and company have contributed to Republican candidates and super PACs that support them, the story details how the retirement community has become a money tree for the GOP:

Morse’s biggest contribution to Republicans may not be his checkbook, but his kingdom, The Villages. The massive retirement community, which has more than 50,000 residents according to the 2010 recent Census, has become a must-visit stop for Republican politicians and conservative media figures. Fully 95 percent of the donations from The Villages’ 32162 zip code have gone to Republicans this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“The road to Washington goes through Tallahassee — you have to win Florida — and the road to Tallahassee goes through The Villages,” said Rich Cole, the president of the The Villages Republican Club.

TIMES/HERALD POLL: FLORIDIANS STILL OPPOSED TO OBAMACARE

A majority of Florida voters oppose the national health care law and half want it repealed, a new Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll shows two weeks after President Barack Obama’s signature achievement was largely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Only 43 percent of voters statewide support the Affordable Care Act and 52 percent oppose it, with 5 percent undecided. With the exception of southeast Florida, more voters think the law will make the health care system worse.

BOG NAMES FLORIDA POLYTECH BOARD OF TRUSTEES

The Florida Board of Governors tapped four people Thursday for new Florida Polytechnic University’s board of trustees, but left a fifth position vacant for the time being. The four appointees include Sandra Featherman, the retired president of the University of New England; Dick Hallion, a retired Air Force analyst and faculty member at the U.S. Army War College; Frank Martin, a former member of the Board of Governors; and Don Wilson a Polk County lawyer. Gov. Rick Scott will appoint six members to the 13-member board, with the head of the Faculty Senate and the student body president also getting seats. One Board of Governors member said Hallion has ties to incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, but members of the subcommittee who vetted the nominees said that didn’t come into play. “I have never received a call from Senator Gaetz,” said Mori Hosseini, who chairs the Trustee Nominating and Development Committee. Hosseini said the Board of Governors would make its fifth selection after Scott’s choices are announced.

SEC. OF AGRICULTURE VILSACK IN FLORIDA ON FRIDAY TO TALK EVERGLADES IMPROVEMENT

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other senior Obama Administration officials will be in Florida on Friday to trumpet the improvements they say have been made to the Everglades ecosystem since the president has taken office. They’ll also announce additional federal spending on the massive cleanup project aimed at restoring the natural flow of the Everglades. Under Obama, the federal government has put $1.5 billion into Everglades initiatives, including nearly $1 billion for construction that the administration claims has created 6,600 jobs. Obama has also requested an additional $246 million in the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget for the effort. Vilsack plans a news conference Friday at the Disney Wildnerness Preserve in Kissimmee with officials from the Interior Department, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Council on Environmental Quality.

REPUBLICAN WOMEN DEFEND LG CARROLL

The Florida Federation of Republican Women leapt to the defense of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll after a former employee said she saw Carroll and an aide in “a compromising position,” reports the News Service of Florida.  The group called the accuser a “charlatan” and a supporter of President Barack Obama. “Jennifer Carroll has been our staunchest supporter in good times and bad,” wrote Cindy Graves, president of the group. “It is now up to us to support her.” The statement of support comes a day after reports that Carletha Cole, who is being prosecuted for distributing recordings of conversations she had while working for Carroll, said she walked in on Carroll and the lieutenant governor’s female travel aide in a compromising situation. Cole was later fired, and the FFRW suggested she’s little more than a disgruntled employee.

NUMBER OF YOUNG FLORIDIANS WITH A COLLEGE DEGREE FALLS

The number of young Floridians with a college degree fell in 2010 to about 817,000 — a decrease of about 19,000 from 2009, according to new estimates.

The Florida drop runs counter to a national uptick in college-educated Americans that the Obama administration plans to tout when the nation’s governors gather in Virginia later this week. In 2010, 15.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 had a college degree, a bump of about 100,000 from the year before.

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SARAH PALIN BACKS SANDY ADAMS VS. JOHN MICA

On Thursday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced that she was backing U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams over U.S. Rep. John Mica in a Republican primary battle pitting two Central Florida incumbents against each other.

“In 2012, we have a unique opportunity to elect more common-sense conservatives to Congress, but that alone is not enough,” Palin said. “We must support conservatives who are with us on the issues but not weighed down with the burden of crony capitalism that is so prevalent in Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Sandy Adams is just one of those candidates. Unlike her opponent, Sandy is free from the shackles of lobbyists and back door dealings in Washington. As someone who served in the military and a career law enforcement officer, Sandy doesn’t have time or the patience for the business as usual ways of Washington. Washington insiders on both sides of the aisle have spent this country into massive debt and put our children’s future at risk. Let’s start to restore power to the people. Please join me in supporting Sandy Adams today.”

GRAYSON BRINGING IN MASSIVE BUCKS AGAIN

Democratic congressional candidate Alan Grayson again will dwarf his opponents in fundraising for the quarter. Grayson’s campaign said Thursday via the News Service of Florida he raised $820,000 in the second quarter, and now has about $1.2 million in the bank in his bid for the 9th Congressional District.

Republican  John Quinones will report raising more than $150,000 during the second quarter in the same district and has $150,224 on hand, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Earlier, another Republican running in the 9th,Todd Long, reported just under $10,000 in cash on hand. Quinones, a former state lawmaker and current Osceola County commissioner, also faces Julius Melendez and Mark Oxner in the GOP primary.

It’s worth noting Grayson has outraised opponents before – his fundraising far bested Republican Dan Webstertwo years ago, but Webster is now in Congress having defeated Grayson.

HD 5: MARTI COLEY RAISES $50K DURING Q2 FOR RE-ELECTION BID FOR HD 5

State Rep. Marti Coley, a Marianna Republican seeking a final term in the House, raised $50,196 in contributions during the past three months, according to state records via the News Service of Flirda. Coley has raised a total of $108,046, far outdistancing her Republican primary opponent, Danny Glidewell of DeFuniak Springs. Glidewell has raised a total of $1,533 and has loaned $1,925 to his campaign. Coley has received money from businesses such as the HCA hospital chain, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and AT&T Florida, the records show.

HD 17: RENUART HAS MONEY EDGE

Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart easily topped his two Republican rivals in raising money during the year’s second quarter, collecting $90,856, according to state records. Renuart, who is running in the newly drawn District 17 in St. Johns County, has brought in a total of $155,132 for his campaign. St. Augustine Republican Mike Davis raised $32,526 during the quarter, increasing his total to $91,086. Another St. Augustine Republican, Kim Kendall, raised $6,050 during the quarter and has a total of $49,973. Renuart, a physician, has received money from numerous health-care groups and providers and also has received financial backing from the state Republican Party.

HD 36: MIKE FASANO RAISES $103K SINCE ENTERING RACE FOR HD 36

Trying to make a somewhat-unusual move from the Senate to the House, New Port Richey Republican Mike Fasano has raised $103,152 in contributions since entering the District 36 race in April, state records show via the News Service of Florida. Fasano received money from a wide range of groups and industries, including unions, hospitals, banks and sugar companies. Fasano has dwarfed his opponents in fund-raising, as Port Richey Republican James Mathieu has raised a total of $12,690 and Hudson Republican Michael Kennedy has raised a total of $460.

HD 51: CRISAFULLI ADDS TO COMMANDING MONEY LEAD

State Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, collected $47,525 during the past three months, giving him a total of $231,190 for his re-election bid in House District 51, according to state records. Crisafulli’s only opponent, Cocoa Democrat Mike Blake, raised $2,525 during the year’s second quarter and has a total of $6,800. District 51 includes much of northern and central Brevard County.

HD 57: RABURN RAKES IT IN

Lithia Republican Jake Raburn has jumped out to a huge fund-raising lead in the House District 57 campaign, according to state records. Raburn raised $43,125 during the year’s second quarter, giving him a total of $66,330 since entering the race in February. His Republican primary opponent, Brian Hollands of Riverview, has raised a total of $4,250, while Lithia Democrat Bruce Barnett has raised $820. Raburn, who works for Hinton Farms, has received contributions from various groups and businesses, including the agriculture and health-care industries. District 57 includes southeastern Hillsborough County.

HD 65: NEHR NEARS $47K IN SECOND QUARTER

Rep. Peter Nehr raised $46,688 during the year’s second quarter, giving him $125,331 in his bid for a final term in the House, according to state records. One of Nehr’s Republican primary opponents in District 65, Marg Baker of Palm Harbor, has raised a total of $1,621, while Philip Tropea of Palm Harbor, reported that he has not raised any cash contributions. The state Division of Elections website on Thursday did not include an updated campaign-finance report for another Republican in the race, Tory Perfetti of Oldsmar. The only Democrat in the race, Carl Zimmermann of Palm Harbor, has raised $5,075.

HD 78: NEWCOMER FITZENHAGEN HAS ANOTHER BIG MONEY HAUL

Fort Myers Republican Heather Fitzenhagen collected $50,417 in contributions during the past three months, bringing her total to $115,794 in the House District 78 race, according to state records. With no incumbents in the Lee County race, Fitzenhagen has received backing from groups and businesses ranging from the Florida Medical Association to the Florida Beer Wholesalers. An updated campaign-finance report for her opponent in the Republican primary, Jonathan Martin of Fort Myers, had not been posted on the state Division of Elections website Thursday.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>Dane Eagle launched his first TV spot in his campaign for House District 77.

>>>John Legg earned the endorsement of former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker for his campaign for State Senate District 17.

>>>Sen. Garrett Richter endorsed Heather Fitzenhagen for House District 78.

MOVING ON: My good friend, Jordan Raynor shared with his friends the news that he is leaving new media firm Engage to to lead product strategy and business development for LifeSync Technology and to double-down on his startup venture Citizinvestor – a crowdfunding platform for local government projects.

NEW TO THE TWITTER: @VoteNoOn6

NEW WEBSITE: The Florida Democratic Party today released a new re-branded website, FloridaDems.org, showcasing Florida Democratic candidates and leadership “and underscoring the toxic state of the GOP brand.”

***Are you tired of getting your ASSETS TAXED OFF? Amendment 4 can help. Join the movement at TaxYourAssetsOff.com or check us out on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.*** 

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.