Sunburn for 7/18: 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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ANTS MARCHING! Dave Matthews Band is playing in Tampa tonight, so Sunburn may be taking a day off on Thursday.

ROLLINS COLLEGE PREPPING FOR OBAMA VISIT ON FRIDAY

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign still is saying nothing about when or where his Friday campaign appearances will be, but sources indicate he will be at Rollins College in Winter Park, reports Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel.

Rollins is preparing to offer tickets to an Obama event and another source indicated the decks are being cleared at the college to make room for something big Friday. Tickets also will be distributed through Obama For America offices in Central Florida.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.” — Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R), quoted by BuzzFeed, on a conference call organized by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

ACTUALLY, NO DECISION YET IN VEEPSTAKES

Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters in Baton Rouge, yesterday that despite a New York Times report saying Romney had reached a decision, the candidate has not yet chosen his running mate. “No decision’s been made on VP,” he said, per the pool report. Fehrnstrom did tell the AP’s Steve Peoples that “technically” an announcement could come this week, as a New York Times report suggested Monday, but that first Romney has to make his decision. Romney was in Louisiana for a joint fundraiser with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who’s often mentioned as a potential VP shortlister; Fehrnstrom said Romney and Jindal met privately but did not discuss the GOP ticket.

BILL CLINTON TO RAISE MONEY FOR BILL NELSON, JEB TO RAISE BUCKS FOR MITT

Former President Bill Clinton will attend a fundraiser for Sen. Bill Nelson, hosted by celebrity personal injury lawyer John Morgan, on August 2.  Tickets for the event at Morgan’s Lake Mary home start at $1,000, and go up to $10,000 for those who want to co-chair the fundraiser. Meanwhile, former Gov. Jeb Bush will help raise money for Romney next week in Ohio. The Middletown Journal in Ohio reported that Bush will speak next Wednesday at an event in Mason, just north of Cincinnati.

CONNIE MACK HIRES NEW FUNDRAISERS (PROBABLY TO PAY HIS BILL AT BROOKS BROTHERS)

After raising half of what Bill Nelso did in the second quarter, Rep. Connie Mack  has hired veteran Washington, D.C., fundraisers in an effort to bolster his Senate prospects.

Mack is hoping to capitalize on recent polls that have shown him running competitive with Sen. Bill Nelson. According to Republican sources via Roll Call, Mack, at the urging of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has hired well-known fundraisers Jim McCray to handle his national fundraising and Michael Gula and Jonathan Graham of the Gula Graham Group to run his political action committee fundraising.

Mack certainly needs all of the fundraising help he can find. Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times reports Mack’s campaign charged nearly $470 for clothing at a Brooks Brothers in Jacksonville, FEC records show, an apparent violation of law.

CONNIE MACK’S WAR ON (TAMPA BAY TIMES’) ADAM SMITH by Charles Mathesian of POLITICO

Cohen singled out Smith for especially harsh treatment, referring to him by name seven different times in the course of slamming him and the newspaper for their “left wing venom” and attempts to “torpedo Connie’s candidacy.”

It’s a pretty remarkable rejoinder, one that represents a dramatic departure from the typical tensions that exist between campaigns and the media outlets that cover them. For as long as there have been newspapers, politicians have despised them, but the Mack response exudes a level of animosity that’s seldom expressed publicly.

… While there are lots of candidates with serious grievances against the local media, most understand there’s little political return in carrying on a very public war with the state’s highest circulation newspaper.

It’s also possible that the campaign has overestimated the popularity of Mack’s father, a two-term senator who’s been out of office for more than a decade in a fast-growing and highly transient state. Monday’s letter, which refers to the Times’s “brutal attacks” on the former senator as well as his son, at one point refers to Mack’s father as “perhaps the finest U.S. Senator to have ever served.”

GEORGE H.W. BUSH TO MISS RNC IN TAMPA

Former President George H.W. Bush will not attend the Republican convention in Tampa, the first time the 41st president will miss his party’s convention in 35 years. Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, told The Hill that the former president’s health will keep him from leaving his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, for Tampa later this summer. ‘President and Mrs. Bush are more convinced today than ever that we need to get behind Mitt and Ann Romney to help turn this country around, but sadly the situation around President Bush’s mobility will prevent them from attending the Tampa convention,” he said Monday. (Via The Morning Score.)

FORMER AIDE TO LG CARROLL REFUSED PLEA DEAL OVER RECORDING

A former employee in the office of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll turned down a plea deal over her illegally recording a conversation. Now, the prosecutor is considering new charges in the case, reports the Capitol News Service.

Carletha Cole, who was fired in September, now might face a charge of distributing an illegal recording.

Cole was offered several plea deals, including diversion, which means if she took the deal and didn’t commit a crime for 180 days, all would be forgiven: no prison time, no charges on her record. Now she could be facing up to 10 years in prison and a felony record.

Sources close to the governor’s office say Cole didn’t take the plea deal because her goal isn’t to beat the charges; it’s to embarrass Carroll. Webster says that’s nonsense and his client’s reputation is on the line, and that’s why she’s willing to risk prison to fight the case.

>>>Palm Beach Post’s Frank Cerabino: “As long as the state is axing government workers with real duties, it seems only fair to get rid of a $125,000-a-year public employee who has to improvise ways to look busy.”

DUKE CEO TO APPEAR BEFORE PSC

Duke Energy Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers is expected to appear before the Florida Public Service Commission next month to discuss the company’s recently completed merger with Progress Energy. The PSC called Rogers to appear Aug. 13, the same day it is scheduled to get an update on a troubled repair project at Progress Energy Florida’s Crystal River nuclear-power plant. Progress Energy Florida is the state’s second-largest utility. (Via The News Service of Florida.)

***Campaign Contribution reports are in!  Go to www.purplepagesonline.com today for your free trial subscription and get access to Florida’s one-stop portal for consultants, lobbyists and political junkies to learn about each and every candidate running for the Florida Legislature.***

IN INCREASINGLY INTERESTING RACE FOR CD 13, JESSICA EHRLICH OUTRAISES BILL YOUNG

In the increasingly interesting race for Congressional District 13, Democrat Jessica Ehrlich narrowly outraised Republican incumbent Bill Young during the second quarter.

Ehrlich reported contributions of $86,172 during the period covering April 1 to June 30, bringing her overall total to $174,644. She has $71,421 cash-on-hand.

Young collected $75,205 for the quarter, bringing his overall total for this cycle to $532,073. Congressman Young has $325,237 left in the bank.

FLORIDA’S TOP 10 CONGRESSIONAL FUNDRAISER DURING Q2

Allen West – $2.3 million

Patrick Murphy – $507,198

Debbie Wasserman Schultz – $639,510

Alan Grayson $605,247

Adam Hasner $558,936

John Mica $400,291

Keith Fitzgerald $381,215

Lois Frankel $359,887

Steve Southerland $356,884

Vern Buchanan $333,937

>>>Combined, Florida’s congressional candidates raised nearly $12 million for the quarter, bringing the election cycle total so far to more than $48 million.

>>>At least 12 candidates have raised more than $1 million toward their respective 2012 election bids, with another 14 hopefuls over the $500,000 threshold.

>>>As of June 30, congressional campaigns had a collective total of more than $30 million cash in hand.

SIPLIN VS. THOMPSON RACE FOR SENATE DISTRICT 12 COULD BECOME CHAMBER VS. UNIONS by Aaron DeSlatte of the Orlando Sentinel

The Democratic primary between Orlando Rep. Geraldine Thompson and Victoria Siplin — wife of the termed-out Sen. Gary Siplin — is starting to draw some significant attention from traditional political foes: teachers/lawyers/labor unions and the business lobby.

As we noted over the weekend, Thompson, a career educator who is lambasting the Siplins as “sell-outs” on the campaign trail, has drawn some financial backing from the Florida Education Association, which poured $50,000 into a political fund she controls. Thompson’s $43,375 second-quarter fundraising total also includes lots of checks from trial lawyers, and labor groups like the Florida PBA and corrections officers.

Siplin, by contrast, raised just $16,891 and had already spent $64,000 of her $93,000 total raised.

But the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has been a friend to Gary Siplin over the years (like in 2008 when trial lawyers tried to take him out in his primary) may be weighing into the race soon.

SOLID REPORTING: Aaron DeSlatte does the math and comes up with the Top 10 Electioneering Communication Organizations. Last quarter, the biggest ECOs were the ones controlled by Gov. Rick Scott, future Senate Republican leaders Don Gaetz and Andy Gardiner, future House leader Richard Corcoran, the Florida Chamber, and a pro-school voucher activist. Be sure to click through to read DeSlatte’s full analysis.

SMART PROFILE OF HOUSE DISTRICT 7 via The Florida Current

With nine whole counties and part of one more, the newly aligned District 7 covers more territory than any of the other 119 seats in the House of Representatives. And with seven men — four Republicans and three Democrats — in the Aug. 14 primaries, the contest has more candidates than any other legislative race — House or Senate.

They’re all over the map, from former Rep. Jamey Westbrook in Port St. Joe to insurance agentMike Williams in Madison. There’s an elected official, Liberty County Clerk of Court Robert Hill; a Tallahassee trial lawyer, Thomas Dickens of Crawfordville; and a retired state police officer, A.J. Smith of East Point.

“Up here in North Florida, our kids have been our biggest export,” said Don Curtis, a Perry forester seeking the Republican nomination. “We need jobs up here.”

Politically and geographically, Wakulla County is the pivot point of the district, with about one-fifth of the registered voters. Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2-to-1 but the counties delivered solid majorities for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and all three GOP cabinet candidates in 2010.

Turnout in both primaries is expected to be light next month, so — with no runoffs — any candidate drawing about 5,000 votes will go on to November.

SPOTTED: AT&T’s Stephanie Smith canvassing neighborhoods in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

MEDIA NOTE: In case you hadn’t noticed, Kenric Ward, a conservative firebrand who wrote for Sunshine State News has left the online media company. He is now Virginia Bureau Chief for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Larry Ahern’s better half, Maureen and Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala.

***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.