Sunburn for 7/15 — 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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As I posted on my personal Facebook page, I have unfriended more people in the last 48 hours than at any other time I have been on social media … “friends” on both sides of the aisle: liberals who see a racist bogeyman around every corner and reactionary conservatives who would have you believe that racist bogeymen do not exist.  Take crazy somewhere else. We’re all stocked up over here.


Planning to spend Monday night in Broward County? You might get an early wake-up call Tuesday when explosions bring down Florida Power & Light’s old Port Everglades Power Plant.

Elsewhere in the state, however, the action will be quieter next week. The Florida Board of Education will discuss how to handle school grades, a federal appeals court will hear arguments about the “docs vs. glocks” law, and new unemployment numbers will be released.

The News Service of Florida offers a comprehensive preview of the week ahead here.

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 U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young gets an opportunity to fly the world’s most advanced military aircraft—the F-35 Lightning.

Not quite the real thing, though. But Young will be as close to flying as anyone can come, that is without leaving the ground.

Young will be “flying” the world’s most advanced interactive cockpit simulator, the F-35 II, at the Lockheed Martin facility in Pinellas Park. It accurately simulates the first-ever fifth generation fighter, which is the world’s most advanced military aircraft.

The event begins at 10:30 a.m. 

DRIVING THE DAY: Congressional candidates face a Monday deadline for filing campaign-finance reports.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Bill Young’s report. When Democrat Jessica Ehrlich filed for a re-match against the U.S. House’s longest-serving member, she may have done so thinking Young would not seek re-election. But what she did was awake a sleeping giant.  In May, Young told an aide (in earshot of reporter Alex Leary), ”Get me geared up a year earlier.” Young raised $58,000 in the first quarter, while sources close to the campaign say that this next report will show an impressive haul.


Roll Call: “After the drip-drip of campaign fundraising leaks over the past two weeks, it’s now clear that the amount of money it took to look impressive is staggering. Challengers and incumbents raised the bar so high that to be considered a standout this time around, a candidate had to have raised $2 million for a Senate campaign or more than half a million for the House.”

MUST-READ: ‘POOR MARCO RUBIO’ via Carl Hiassen of the Miami Herald

As the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform sink, so goes his hopes of establishing himself as the solid Republican front-runner in the 2016 campaign for the White House.

Meanwhile, the junior Florida senator is under siege from the bug-eyed right wing of his own party. Glenn Beck called him a “piece of garbage” and even the tea party has turned on him. It’s gotten so bad that GOP action groups are putting out commercials saying nice things about Rubio, just to preserve his shot at the presidency.

Unfortunately, immigration reform is the only serious issue on which Rubio has presumed to lead. Otherwise, his time in Washington has been quiet and forgettable.

During the big post-Newtown debate on expanding background checks of firearms buyers, Rubio revealed himself as just another gutless sniveler controlled by the NRA. In the budget battle he offered not a single new idea, only boilerplate attacks on President Obama over the federal deficit (which is now, to the chagrin of Republican presidential hopefuls, shrinking).

Immigration reform was to be Rubio’s golden ticket to the nomination — a young Hispanic candidate from a critical swing state, bridging with Latino voters a huge gap that helped cost Mitt Romney the election last year. 

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In response to a Saint Petersblog column on the polarization of political parties over time, a reader asked for some statistics on the use of filibuster over time.  To satisfy Lauren’s curiosity, and my own, I offer the following: The history of filibuster is best measured by the use of cloture — the only formal procedure that Senate rules provide for shutting down a filibuster.   The following chart depicts the attempted and successful use of cloture over time. Important to note, in 1975, the number of votes required to invoke cloture was changed from two-thirds of those present and voting to three-fifths of the total Senate membership, making the measure more likely to succeed (and therefore, more likely to be attempted).

With partisan control and cloture use in the same visual field, it appears that the frequency of filibuster spiked first when used by the Republican minority in the early 1970s, steadily increased under control of both parties, and then spiked again in use by the Democratic minority between 2004 and 2008.  Since that time, the frequency of filibuster/cloture has declined — although it remains far greater than in decades past.


It has been said that boys with sisters are less likely to do chores when they grow up, and are more likely to be underachievers.  And according to research just published in the Journal of Politics, having sisters also makes men more likely to hold politically conservative views in terms of gender roles, and more likely to identify as Republican.  The authors of this study present strong statistical evidence that grown men who years ago had been raised in a house with a sister are significantly more likely to hold conservative views than men who had only brothers.

They found that men who grew up with sisters but no brothers are 8.3 percentage points more likely to identify with the Republican party, and were 3.8 percentage points more likely to agree that “a woman’s place is in the home.”  These effects were found to be most strong among siblings that were close to each other in age, and somewhat stronger for first-born respondents.  Most of these effects remained strong even later in life.  Respondents in their 40s who had sisters were 12.5 percentage points more likely to agree with the statement that “mothers should remain at home with young children and not work outside the home.”  The sibling influence, according to the authors, is rooted in the uneven delegation of chores, where boys witness sisters performing household chores, or where parents express different expectations for what their sons and daughters must do.

To Vice President Joe Biden, an obvious outlier to the sisters-equal-conservative finding, it’s a “tough job having sisters” — you know, having to keep all the boys away from them.  But if the JOP article is onto something, boys having sisters may be more trouble to the liberal Democrat than he even knew.

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The backers of a Florida medical-marijuana initiative have rewritten their proposed constitutional amendment and now face the toughest of paths to even get on the 2014 ballot.

After consulting with high-powered lawyers and conducting polls and focus groups, People United for Medical Marijuana decided to scrap its original initiative out of a fear that it wouldn’t survive the courts or might not withstand the attacks of anti-drug activists.

A new survey conducted by the group, nicknamed PUFMM, shows the latest proposal could garner as much as 71 percent of the vote. It takes 60 percent of voters to approve a state constitutional amendment.

… By proposing new language … PUFMM discarded tens of thousands of petition signatures from voters who wanted to get medical marijuana on the ballot.

Now the process begins again. “We’re starting out with no signatures in the bank and we need more than 683,000 signatures just to make the ballot,” said Ben Pollara, treasurer for the group, nicknamed PUFMM.

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Should former Crist once again win election to the governor’s office, he will likely have four more appointments to the Florida Supreme Court, including the replacement ofJustice James Perry, whom he appointed in 2009 and faces mandatory retirement in 2017.

Including his four picks to the bench during his previous term from 2007 to 2011, that means all seven members of the court could be Crist appointees by the end of his second term — if he’s re-elected in 2014.

“That’s never happened before,” said former state lawmaker Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, who was instrumental in implementing judicial reforms in the 1970s. He noted that historically, justices were elected positions until 1974, and governors have only recently been able to appoint judges. It’s a power that extends well beyond a governor’s term in office.

“You leave your fingerprints for a long period of time,” D’Alemberte said.


With the GOP’s statewide slate apparently set, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry told members there will be no slowdown over the next few months in the assault on potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist, Nan Rich and Alex Sink.

“The message and tactics our communications team will use in the coming months will in fact play a role in shaping the message and the tone of the Democratic primary,” Curry said.

Since May 28, for example, the RPOF has sent out daily releases aimed at Crist, the former Republican-governor-turned-independent-Senate-candidate-turned-potential-Democratic-gubernatorial-contender.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott said the party will remain focused on efforts to boost jobs and education.

“It’s our obligation to get our message out,” Scott said.

“We all have our stories, we just have to get them out, and if we do, we’ll win every race,” said RPOF Executive Director Juston Johnson.

REPUBLICANS BUILDING ‘MAMMOTH WAR CHEST’ via William March of the Tampa Tribune

It’s not unusual for Republicans in Florida to out-fundraise Democrats, partly because their control over both houses of the state Legislature, the Cabinet and the governor’s office allows them to exert influence on business and special interest donors.

However, the figures show a large increase for Republicans, and don’t show improvement for Democrats, when compared to the same period in the last election cycle, the first half of 2009. That year, like this one, was the first year after a presidential election and the year before a Florida governor’s race.

In the first half of 2009, Republicans raised $5.1 million, less than their 2013 total; Democrats raised slightly more during that time, $2.4 million.

Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp said the figures for 2009 and 2013 really aren’t comparable because in 2009 several prominent Democrats were campaigning for statewide offices and raising money for the party as well as for their campaigns.

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Catalina Quintana, a spokeswoman at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, is leaving the department after working there for a year. She is going to Boston University to work towards a master’s degree in public relations.


Education Commissioner Tony Bennett will ask the State Board of Education next week to prevent schools from dropping by more than one letter grade on the state report card in an effort to counter what superintendents say could be an alarming drop in grades.

Bennett’s recommendations, to be taken up at a specially called meeting Tuesday, are seen as an effort to avoid another botched rollout of the school grades after last year’s release became a public-relations headache for the Department of Education.

Bennett’s predecessor, Gerard Robinson, resigned a short time later, though Robinson said he was leaving to spend more time with his family.

The limit on any drop in school grades was one of the key recommendations that local superintendents offered Bennett during discussions last week. It would continue a policy started last year during the grades controversy. The superintendents say that some of the data they’re getting back as they do the initial calculations for the report cards this year seem to be off — but they don’t know why.

Part of the problem, they say, is that the state has implemented 13 changes this year alone to the accountability system for schools — making it harder to meet the standards and harder to figure out what’s going wrong. Concerns about that complexity also hover over the state’s efforts to put in place the “Common Core State Standards,” which are based on national guidelines.

GAMBLING MONEY AT ISSUE h/t to the News Service of Florida

The state Revenue Estimating Conference will hold back-to-back meetings to discuss money from slot machines, Indian casinos and the lottery.  9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

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Former Senate President Tom Lee could make another run for the chamber’s presidency toward the end of the decade — but other senators also are signaling they might want the powerful post. Lee told The Tampa Tribune that he is interested in returning to the presidency, which he held from 2004 to 2006.

“As a result of other senators jumping in and announcing their interest in 2018 and 2020, I’m being forced off the sidelines to do the same thing,” Lee told the Tribune. “As much as I think this is awfully early, I’ve contacted other members of the Republican caucus to let them know that if they’re interested in considering future leadership, I’d like to have a conversation with them.” Sen. Andy Gardiner is slated to become president after the 2014 elections, and Sens. Jack Latvala and Joe Negron have been trying to line up support to become president after the 2016 elections. The Tribune reported that Sen. Bill Galvano could seek the presidency after the 2018 elections and that Sen. Wilton Simpson might be interested after the 2020 elections. 

DANE EAGLE LINING UP BILLS via Betty Parker of the News-Press

Eagle already has a couple of bill ideas lined up for next year’s session, he said during a talk last week to the Lee Republican Women’s Club.

One priority involves cutting back a recent increase in vehicle registration and permit fees. The fee increase was passed a few years ago during tight economic times to help increase state revenues, said Eagle, who won office last year.

Now that the economic picture is better, “let’s get rid of that increase and give the money back to the people,” Eagle said.


On: Heather Williamson has joined the House State Affairs Committee as Deputy Staff Director.

Off: Lindsay Whelan is no longer the attorney for the House Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee.

Off: Kathy San Pedro is no longer a legislative assistant for Rep. Jeanette Nunez.

Off: Kimberly Simon has left the staff of Sen. Tom Lee as legislative assistant.

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Businessman David Silvers, a Democrat, says he’s giving strong consideration to challenging Republican Bill Hager next year. Silvers is director of product development at Tekno Books, a subsidiary of Boca-based Hollywood Media Corp. Republicans hold a 36.8-to-34.6 percent registration advantage in District 89, which includes Boca Raton and oceanfront communities from the Broward County line to Singer Island.

DOUG BROXSON DRAWS A PRIMARY CHALLENGER via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

As he runs again for the House in 2014, Rep. Doug Broxson drew a Republican primary challenger this week.

Army veteran and current National Guard member Jamie Tabisz-Smith, who runs the Liberty Life News site, filed his paperwork on Thursday to run against Broxson, who represents parts of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties in next year’s Republican primary.

Broxson said he was familiar with Tabisz-Smith but said his challenger’s focus seems more directed at Washington than Tallahassee and called his challenger “misguided” in running for the Florida House instead of Congress.


In his 2014 bid to become State Senator from District 30, Scott Sturgill picked up the endorsement of Blaise Trettis, Republican Public Defender for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit for Brevard and Seminole Counties.

Sturgill, also a Republican, is looking to challenge incumbent Democrat Karen Castor Dentel for the state House seat, which covers parts of Seminole and Orange Counties.


On Tuesday, attorney and consumer insurance advocate Sean Shaw is taking his message of “Let’s Protect Florida” to his supporters. Shaw will host a meet and greet at 5:00 p.m. at the Sabadell Bank in Tampa.

Shaw, who is a Democrat, is one in a crowded race for the House District 61, which includes Sharon Carter, Tatiana Denson and Edwin Narain. District 61 covers most of east Tampa and East Lake-Orient Park.                         

Currently, Rep. Betty Reed holds the seat; she is term-limited and prevented from re-election.

Sabadell Bank is at 701 North Franklin Street. For more information on the event, contact John Brown at (813) 695-7381 or visit

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Joanna Lee Clary Bonfanti, Lila Jaber, Larry Williams, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Chico’s FAS, Inc.

Christopher Coker: The Stapleton Group

Marcus Smith: Department of Juvenile Justice  

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CORRECTION: On Friday, I wrote “Attorney General Pam Bondi raised $195,125 this quarter.” I should have written that Jeff Atwater raised $195,125 and that is the total to date for his campaign, not just this past quarter.  Pam Bondi filed for re-election on July 1, so she has not yet reported any activity. H/t to Nancy Watkins.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Mike Vasalinda. Celebrating today are my good friend Tom Piccolo and Ron Sachs.

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.