Sunburn for 7/25: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

***SUNBURN is brought to you by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm.  Visit to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

BE SURE TO SEND BIRTHDAY WISHES to 2011 Tally Madness winner and all-around good guy Steve Madden, who is celebrating his big day today. Make his day and drop him a note at [email protected].

HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN CHARLIE CRIST’S BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY? As a leader in the Society of the Tarpon Belt (the Crist-in-waiting party), I should be forced to watch an unending loop of Morgan & Morgan for getting the boss’s birthday.


While Jews make up only about 3.4 percent of the population in Florida, they have historically turned out in disproportionately high numbers,” Reuters’ Nick Tate writes. “Andre Fladell, a longtime Democratic activist from Delray Beach, said he doesn’t believe a 10 percent to 14 percent drop in the polls among Jewish voters would make a difference, but ‘a 24 (percent) to 26 percent drop would,’ he said. The key, he said, will be voting trends among the almost 500,000 Jewish voters in the Democratic stronghold of South Florida… Romney’s Florida campaign has also tapped Jewish Republican Tevi Troy – former deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush – as an adviser.”


Despite concerted attacks on his business record, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Mitt Romney scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy.

In fact, by a 63% to 29% margin, those surveyed say Romney’s background in business “would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.”

Also interesting: “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are much more enthusiastic about the election, an important factor in persuading supporters to vote. By 18 points, 51%-33%, they report being more enthusiastic than usual about voting. In contrast, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents by 4 points say they are less enthusiastic than usual, 43%-39%.”


A new Marist poll finds 78% of Americans say they are “frustrated” by the tone of political campaigns and 74% believe that the tone of political campaigns has “gotten more negative” than in past election years.

In addition, 66% believe candidates spend more time criticizing their opponents than addressing the issues, while almost as many (64%) say negative campaign ads “harm the political process” either “a great deal” or “a significant amount.”

And by a nearly 20 point margin (56% to 37%), the public says the tone of political campaigns is “mostly uncivil and disrespectful.”


The Fix: “About four dozen donors and families have given at least $1 million to super PACs this election cycle, with three-quarters of them giving to the GOP. Combined, these four dozen donors have provided $130 million of the $308 million super PACs have raised this cycle (more than 40 percent) — a reflection of how much these outside groups are funded by extremely wealthy donors.”

“And that goes double on the GOP side, where nearly half of the $228 million raised by super PACs has come from about three dozen million-dollar donors.”

Underdog U.S. Senate candidate Dave Weldon announced the endorsement of the United Christians of Florida’s PAC on Tuesday, reports Florida Democracy.

The group picked Weldon over GOP frontrunner Rep. Connie Mack even though it had endorsed Mack’s father, former Sen. Connie Mack III, in each of his Senate bids.

“In Dr. Dave Weldon, we have a proven and experienced Congressional Representative who understands how to lead America toward economic stability and prosperous times for generations to come,” said Mike Nelis, United Christians of Florida, Executive Director.

>>>Democratic Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has done some numbers crunching about Connie Mack’s missed votes: So far this year, the Fort Myers Republican has missed more than 31 percent of the House votes taken this year. That gives him the seventh worst record in the House.


POLITICO announces live shows & events … to be produced from Tampa during this summer’s Republican National Convention, many of which will air nationally on C-SPAN. … Building off the momentum of its popular primary election analysis shows, several convention editions of POLITICO LIVE will be produced … throughout the morning, afternoon and evening. Featuring top POLITICO journalists, newsmakers and official convention programming, shows will be launched by a special kickoff program the Sunday before the Republican convention.

Leading the event schedule will be POLITICO’s popular Playbook Breakfast newsmaker series, hosted by … Mike Allen. Televised live daily by C-SPAN, the convention-edition breakfasts will be … co-hosted by the Tampa Bay Times during the Republican convention. The Playbook Breakfast series is presented by Bank of America.

Each afternoon, POLITICO will host policy luncheons featuring newsmakers involved in major issues of the economy, energy and health care. These discussions will be led by POLITICO’s … team of policy reporters and editors. The lunches are presented by the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Wind Energy Association and the Premier healthcare alliance, respectively.

Each evening, the POLITICO Lounge will offer guests a unique way to watch the speeches, mingling over cocktails during a nightly live production of POLITICO LIVE, carried on a delayed-basis by C-SPAN. The Lounge is presented by BAE Systems, Diageo and Intel.

All events and shows – which will be open for registration, free and on the record – will be streamed on and mobile devices and produced from the POLITICO Hub, just a few blocks outside secure convention perimeters. In Tampa, the Hub will be located in the Rivergate Tower. The Hub will feature a Refresh Station presented by Coca-Cola. … [A] complete programming schedule will be available in POLITICO’s glossy magazine guide to the conventions … on Aug. 3.”


Tampa Tribune: “Strip clubs may not be the most politically correct venue for those attending the Republican National Convention, but that doesn’t mean Tampa’s well-known adult hot spots won’t be ready for the influx of visitors. One place is bringing in a stripper who looks like former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.”


Yet another legal setback for Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature in their efforts to expand privatization in state prisons.

The First District Court of Appeal on Tuesday dismissed the state’s appeal of a lower-court decision that struck down as unconstitutional a plan to privatize more than two dozen prisons in South Florida. The decision was on procedural grounds, not on the merits of privatization.

Attorney General Pam Bondi had filed the appeal on behalf of the Legislature, which was not a party to the original suit — a maneuver the judges struck down, saying Bondi had no right to appeal. “Like any other non-party in the trial court, the attorney general lacks standing to initiate an appeal on her own,” the judges wrote. “Non-parties whose rights have not been adjudicated have no right of appeal.”


“All of this has led to speculation that Lt. Gov. Carroll won’t be allowed to speak at the Republican Party convention in Tampa next month. Normally, a black, female Navy veteran elected to office in a swing state like Florida would be a lock to appear at the GOP convention. Instead, the scandal – and her comment – could hurt the ticket.”


The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on “Investigation of President Obama’s Gulf Drilling Moratorium: Questioning of Key Department of the Interior Officials.” The House has asked for, but so far hasn’t gotten documents related to how the decision on the drilling moratorium was reached, leading to the committee hauling in Interior officials for this questioning. Department of Interior and White House officials will be questioned.


State legislative leaders plan to renegotiate Florida’s revenue sharing compact with the Seminole Tribe at least a year early, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday via the News Service of Florida. Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford and incoming Senate President Don Gaetz both told the paper that lawmakers will take a new look at the $233 million a year in revenue the compact brings the state and where Seminole gambling fits in a larger picture. The tribe owns seven casinos in Florida and has the exclusive right to offer blackjack and other table games in Miami Dade and Broward counties through 2015 under a deal worked out with the state in 2010. International casino companies have been eyeing Florida for a couple of years, and are considering a legislative effort next year, as well as a push for a ballot measure, to allow broader gambling in the state. “We currently have a lot of gambling in the state of Florida, but we have to take a very holistic view,” Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told the Herald. “There needs to be clarity and direction as to where the state is going,” The compact, Weatherford said, will “very likely” be part of the discussion.


The Communications Services Tax Working Group holds it second meeting to study and report on tax issues related to the sale of communications services. The committee has been charged with providing a report to the governor and Legislative leaders by Feb. 1.

***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.***


Vern Buchanan, who was outraised last quarter by his Democratic opponent Keith Fitzgerald, leads by eight points, 44-36, in a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling and first shared with Politico’s Morning Score. “19% are still undecided with just over three months to go, making this a potentially tight race,” PPP’s Dustin Ingalls writes. “This district leans slightly Republican, but with the incumbent’s campaign finance woes, this is definitely a winnable seat for Democrats […] 40% view Buchanan favorably, but almost as many (37%) unfavorably.’ Democrats will relentless hammer the NRCC finance chairman as ethically challenged this fall, which they think could shrink the margin. Read the memo here.

5 PRIMARIES TO WATCH by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

If you’re like a lot of voters in Florida, you’ll blissfully ignore the Aug. 14 primary election, having convinced yourself that because a primary is sort of a preliminary round, your one vote just isn’t very important.

In fact, the opposite is true: The fewer votes that are cast in a low-turnout election, the greater the power of each vote.

That’s why, if you have a track record of voting in primaries, you’re being flooded with mailers and phone calls. You’re a “super voter,” and the political pros who run local elections know who you are.

With that in mind, here’s a look at five key primary races for the Legislature on next month’s ballot. Most are in the Senate because primaries there tend to pit more established candidates, and because Senate districts are bigger than House districts.

CHECK OUT THIS MAILER FROM SENATE CANDIDATE MIKE WEINSTEIN: Courtesy of Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union, this mailer from State Senate candidate Mike Weinstein delivers everything but the kitchen sink. It has a picture of Marco Rubio, a picture of Pam Bondi, a comparative checklistst, a “Don’t tread on me” flag, an American flag, more endorsements, a crossed-out picture of Weinstein’s opponent, etc., etc.


On the same day Mike Weinstein’s state Senate campaign sent out a mailer featuring him with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a third-party group supporting Weinstein released a television spot blasting a bill Rubio voted for as a member of the Florida House.

The television ad goes after Weinstein opponent Aaron Bean, a former state representative, for voting for wide-ranging education bill that would have given in-state tuition rates to undocumented students that met certain criteria.


>>>Jacksonville City Beach Councilman Tom Taylor and Neptune Beach Councilman-elect Scott Wiley endorsed Aaron Bean for Senate District 4.

>>>Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty endorsed Marco Pena for House District 49.


>>>Kevin Derby on Senate District 7: “With an open shot at the Republican nomination as current incumbent, Steve Oelrich runs for Congress; attorney Rob Bradley, who rose to become chairman of the Clay County Commission, is a heavy favorite to win an open seat in SD 7, representing Alachua, Baker and Clay counties.”

>>>Sunshine State News on Senate District 26: “After an open seat in Florida Senate, former state Rep. Bill Galvano looks to be smooth-sailing his way to a Tallahassee return in November.”

>>>The Florida Current on House District 103: “The top contenders in a Republican contest for a Northwest Miami-Dade County seat in the Florida House have possibly the best-known names in the Cuban-American politics. And they boast impressive endorsements in their District 103 House race.”

HEADLINE OF THE DAY: “Bait and Switch: Fish Fraud Flourishes”

MEDIA NOTE – PBS’s Gwen Ifill on bring her Washington Week show to St. Pete the Friday before the Republican National Convention: “It’s easy for (national political reporters) to be lazy in Florida. You walk into a room, and a story leaps out at you. But it might not be the right story. It might not be accurate…You don’t have to do a full-on investigative project in Wauchula. But you can hear the voices of those people that normally don’t get talked to and find a way to make them part of the discussion.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Even if you lose running for office you actually win, because you get tons of free PR.” — Rhode Island U.S. Senate candidate Barry Hinckley, quoted by WPRI-TV, giving a motivational speech in 2009.

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.