Sunburn for 7/20: 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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WELCOME TO FLORIDA, MR. PRESIDENT – HERE’S HOW IT’S PLAYING

President Obama is campaigning in Florida, where polls show he is in a dead heat race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who will get a huge in-state stage for a few days next month at the Tampa GOP convention. Obama will mostly be talking about the economy – reminding Floridians – as Gov. Rick Scott has been doing – that things are looking up and jobs are returning.

Miami Herald: “Has The Florida Thrill Faded For President Barack Obama?” – Politico: “Obama’s Heavy Florida Lift” – Tampa Bay Times: “Obama Returns To Jax Where He Deflects Blame And Revives Attack On Wall Street” – Tampa Bay Times: “Welcome To Fla, Mr. President. Good Luck Winning Those 29 Electoral Votes” – USA Today: “Will Health Care Complicate Obama’s Pitch To Fla. Seniors?

TWEET OF THE DAY: @MarcACaputo Biggest applause line in Century Village: “Bill Clinton.”

MARCO RUBIO LIKENS OBAMA TO “LEFT-WING 3RD WORLD LEADER”

Senator Marco Rubio was apparently monitoring President Obama’s remarks at a campaign rally in Jacksonville. This came partway through the speech…

@MarcoRubio: Listening to @barackobama wage #classwarfare in #Jacksonville #Florida.Parts of it sound like speech by left-wing 3rd world leader. #sayfie

CROSSROADS LAUNCHES NEW AD IN FLORIDA IN DEFENSE OF MITT ROMNEY

Today, American Crossroads will launch a new television ad in Florida that pushes back against President Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney, and hits the President’s economic record.

The ad, entitled “Smoke,” opens with very real third party criticism of the President’s negative ads, and then explain why Republicans believe  the President is running the ad. President Obama “can’t run on that record,” the ad states.

The new ad will run in Florida and eight other targeted states for approximately eleven days in a $9.3 million total buy on broadcast television stations and with targeted internet outreach.  In addition to Florida, the ad will run in the following states:  Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. The ad can be viewed  here.

PRO-MACK SUPER PAC AD BRACKETS NELSON, OBAMA

Freedom PAC, the Super PAC supporting Rep. Connie Mack’s GOP Senate bid, is out with a TV ad welcoming Obama to Florida and telling him “a few things he should know” for his visit. “The state flower is the orange blossom, the state reptile is the alligator, the state tree is the palm and the state liberal is Sen. Bill Nelson,” the ad says. Freedom PAC, the group backed by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and other national Republicans like Rudy Giuliani, will run the ad for two days in the Orlando and Ft. Myers media markets. Watch here.

WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL: “MACK SHOWS HOW TO LOSE WINNABLE RACE”

“Perhaps Florida Rep. Connie Mack someday plans to write a book on how to lose a winnable Senate race. Chapter One: Pursue a public vendetta against the press.”

“Mr. Mack has been engaged in a tiff with the local media since the Miami Herald reported in February on old marital and debt problems. The Tampa Bay Times followed up a couple of months later with an examination of the candidate’s campaign. Mr. Mack’s father, a former U.S senator, retaliated with a letter to Republicans accusing the press of trying to ‘torpedo Connie’s candidacy’ and ‘save and promote [incumbent Democratic Senator] Bill Nelson and Barack Obama.’ “

“Fast forward a few months. Mr. Mack’s biggest competition for the Republican nomination, former Sen. George LeMieux, dropped out of the race in June. The nomination was supposedly Mr. Mack’s for the taking and may still be. But the Tampa Bay Times ostensibly tried to complicate the heir apparent’s coronation by endorsing former Rep. Dave Weldon over the weekend.”

“Mr. Mack may score some points with conservatives by excoriating the liberal media, but such attacks will wear thin quickly and fall flat with independents. The only thing Mr. Mack buys with his media assassinations is more scrutiny and negative coverage.”
WELDON SUGGESTS HE CAN DRIVE MACK FROM RACE 

Via The Orlando Sentinel: Dave Weldon’s campaign released results of a poll he commissioned that pointed out he had 17 percent support in his race against GOP frontrunner Connie Mack IV — the highest any Republican has polled against Mack since the Fort Myers congressman got in the race. What the release didn’t note was that Mack registered with 55 percent of the Republicans surveyed, meaning Weldon was trailing by a whopping 38 percent with less than a month to go before the Aug. 14 primary.

But that didn’t stop the Weldon campaign from issuing a release today headlined with the question: “Will Mack drop out of the Senate primary?”

It’s reasoning: Weldon won the endorsement last weekend of the Tampa Bay Times. And in the Weldon-commissioned poll, Republicans gave roughly equal support to each man in a head-to-head matchup with two term incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

“Some of Weldon’s supporters who have witnessed Mack IV’s erratic response to reporters who do not agree with him have questioned Mack’s ability to see the race through to the finish,” the release ads.

TRIAL OF FORMER RPOF CHAIR JIM GREER POSTPONED UNTIL AFTER ELECTION by Lucy Morgan and Katie Sanders of the Tampa Bay Times

The criminal trial for former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer has been postponed until the week of Nov. 12.

Orlando Circuit Judge Marc Lubet on Thursday ordered a continuance after Greer’s lawyer, Damon Chase, asked for more time to review documents he is subpoenaing from the Republican Party of Florida. Chase said he wants to be sure he can review any emails, notes, memos and reports that mention Victory Strategies LLC, the company Greer is accused of using to get almost $200,000 out of the party.

Greer had been scheduled to face trial on July 30.

The decision is good news for Florida Republicans who were dreading the spectacle of a trial that could expose the inner workings of a party in turmoil just weeks before Florida hosts the Republican National Convention.

FLA. DEMS OUT-REGISTER REPUBLICANS FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT MONTH

The Florida Democratic Party today released state June voter registration data showing that, for the fifth consecutive month, Democrats out-registered Republicans — this time by nearly 10-points. Over the past five months, Democrats have steadily increased monthly gains over the GOP from a 3-point advantage in February to roughly 10-points in April, May and June. “

FLORIDA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY WAVERING, UCF ECONOMIST SAYS

Due to political uncertainty and the European debt crisis, the U.S. economic recovery is wavering again, says Sean Snaith, University of Central Florida economist, in his latest quarterly forecast released Wednesday. Snaith said “masochistic” policies implemented over the past few years are resulting in “a cloud of uncertainty that has restrained economic growth and shackled the private sector.”

EXISTING HOME SALES UP

Sales of existing homes in Florida rose 5.3 percent in June from a year earlier while the median price also rose in year-to-year comparisons, Florida Realtors reported Thursday . Pending sales were up 31 percent, a sign that the trend may continue for at least the short term. Statewide, the median price of an existing single family home rose 8.2 percent to $151,000. Nationally, sales of existing homes and townhomes rose 4.5 percent. A particularly bright spot for sellers in Florida is that the number of homes up for sale has dropped dramatically over the past year, resulting in a 39 percent reduction in inventory that has helped to boost home prices higher. In the South, existing-home sales are 5.5 percent above June 2011. The median price in the South was $165,000, up 6.6 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

ORLANDO RANKS AS AMERICA’S “EMPTIEST” CITY

Florida cities keep on making lists they would just as soon avoid. The latest example: Tampa comes in at No. 9 in CNBC.com’s rankings of the Top 10 Emptiest cities. At the No. 1 spot? Orlando. “Emptiest” refers to those metros hard-hit by the housing crisis that are now laboring under a high number of vacant homes and rental units.

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>>>The New York Times profiles the race between Rep. Allen West and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy here.

NFIB BACKS WEINSTEIN IN SD 4, BRANDES IN SD 22

The National Federation of Independent Business, Florida’s leading small-business association, today announced its endorsement of Mike Weinstein for State Senate District 4 and Jeff Brandes for Senate District 22.

“Mike has demonstrated genuine commitment to small-business issues and fighting job-killing government intrusion; he is the only candidate in the district devoted to supporting small business in the Florida Senate,” said Bill Herrle, NFIB/Florida Executive Director. “Mike’s priorities align with those of the small-business community, and he will be an effective ally to our members in the fight to create jobs and improve the economy.”

Weinstein has a 100 percent NFIB voting record during his time in the House of Representatives, and continues to support many of NFIB/Florida’s priorities, including streamlining government, eliminating burdensome overregulation, reforming the broken healthcare system and tort reform.

“As a small-business owner, Jeff knows the needs of the small-business community and understands first-hand what it takes to build a business and create jobs,” said Herrle. “Jeff is the only candidate that can provide steady leadership in the Florida Senate to ensure that Florida maintains its pro-business climate.”

RACE FOR SD 24 UGLIER BY THE DAY — BURGIN DISAVOWS NEGATIVE MAILER, LAUNCHES ‘WEAK’ TV SPOT, LEE GETS BIG BACKERS

On a day when two more Republican heavyweights endorsed her opponent in a Senate race that has turned ugly and personal, Rachel Burgin has released a pretty weak TV spot.

Ending with a photo of Burgin with Senator Marco Rubio (who has not endorsed her), the :30 spot says “the insiders in Tallahassee don’t want me to win.”

Actually, it’s more like one set of insiders in Tallahassee doesn’t want her to win, while a second set, which includes uber-lobbyists Ron Book, Jack Cory and Guy Spearman, do want her to win.

With production values barely exceeding a PowerPoint presentation set to music, this commercial is disappointingly weak.

Burgin’s campaign needed to do better on a day when Lee, a former Senate president from Brandon who is looking to return to the Legislature, received the endorsements of Sens. John Thrasher and Joe Negron in his quest to become the GOP nominee in District 24.

The support comes in addition to previous endorsements from incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner and Sen. Jack Latvala.

GOP FORCES AT WORK IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR SD 27?

According to Jeff Clemens’ campaign manager, Cesar Fernandez, one of the mailings attacking Clemens was funded by the Florida Federation for Children, a group that supports school vouchers.  Another mailing was from the Committee for Effective Representation, an electioneering communication organization chaired by Associated Industries’s Tom Feeney.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>NorthPAC, the political action committee of the Northern Palm Beach County business community, endorses MaryLynn Magar in HD 82.

ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: Washington will be the first state to allow voter registration via Facebook.

MORE ALOE: The phrase “game changer” has been used 2,870 times in news outlets over the past 30 days. — Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight)

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.