Sunburn for 8/1: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

POLITICAL & MEDIA ELITE TO ATTEND EXCLUSIVE “FULL LID PARTY” AT RNC 

On the eve of Tampa Bay playing host to the Republican National Convention, an invitation-only party hosted by several of Florida’s leading political and public affairs consultants is planned for after the Kick-off event at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

The Full Lid Party will be hosted by Peter Schorsch, executive editor of SaintPetersBlog.com, one of Florida’s most influential political news sites. Joining Schorsch in co-hosting the event are Sarah Bascom of Bascom Communications, Kevin Cate of Cate Communications, Brian Hughes of Meteoric Media Strategies, Michelle Todd, and Rick Wilson.

The “Full Lid Party” will be held immediately after the reception at Tropicana Field at Cassis American Brasserie — St. Petersburg’s best restaurant venue, which is located right on Beach Drive and overlooks the city’s picturesque waterfront.  Welcoming the media, political and business elite, the “Full Lid Party” will be an exclusive after-party for those looking to keep the good times going once the official Kick-off event has ended.

Further information, including invitation requests and sponsorship inquiries, may be requested by emailing Peter@Extensive-Enterprises.com. A website promoting the event is live at FullLidParty.com.

PPP POLL OF FLORIDA: OBAMA 48%, ROMNEY 47%

PPP’s first likely voters poll of Florida finds that it’s likely to take its customary place as one of the most closely contested states in the country this year. Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by the slightest of margins, 48-47, but Romney would take a small advantage in the state if he added either Marco Rubio or Condoleezza Rice to his ticket.

Obama and Romney are holding their party bases at basically equal levels, with 84% of Democrats supporting Obama and 83% of Republicans committed to Romney.

Romney’s holding a 47-40 lead with independents. Obama’s up 51-44 with women, 61-34 with Hispanics, and 58-35 with young voters while Romney’s ahead 50-45 with men, 56-39 with whites, and 52-44 with seniors.

NEW CROSSROADS AD AIRING IN FLA. KEEPS FOCUS ON ECONOMY

A new Crossroads GPS ad in Florida seeks to drive home the struggling economy. Crossroads said the ad starts today and “will run on network TV stations in Florida, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia for approximately 10 days in an $11 million buy.” Watch here.

NEW IN ITUNES: The Obama 2012 smartphone App, designed to “break down the distinction between online and offline organizing, giving every supporter the same opportunities … they would find in a field office, such as finding local phone banks and volunteer events, and being able to canvass neighborhoods directly using their smartphones. It will also give voters … information … about when, where and how to vote — and … a breakdown of new voter protection laws in their state.”

MITT ROMNEY WILL ANNOUNCE HIS VEEP CHOICE VIA AN APP: The last time the Mitt Romney campaign garnered media attention for its use of a mobile phone app, it misspelled ‘America’.  Tuesday, it announced it will reveal Romney’s VP choice via a new mobile app.

ST. PETERSBURG’S RICK BAKER LOOKS LIKE A CABINET CHOICE IF ROMNEY IS ELECTED

Of course you’re not going to read about in the Tampa Bay Times, which views former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker as an obstacle to its goal of regional expansion/domination, but Russ Pulliam of the Indianapolis Star reports about what everyone not working at the Times readily knows: that Baker looks like a potential White House Cabinet choice if Mitt Romney is elected president.

Here is a link to Pulliam’s story about Baker’s trip to Indianapolis to meet with Mayor Greg Ballard on his way to address a National League of Cities forum in Fort Wayne. As Pulliam notes, in Republican circles, Baker has taken up the mantle of the late Jack Kemp, who served in President George H.W. Bush’s Cabinet and later ran for vice president with Bob Dole.

Baker’s host on his recent trip to Indy, Sagamore Institute President Jay Hein, sums up the former Mayor this way: “He’s the first Republican since Jack Kemp to be passionate about urban reform.”

THE BUSINESS OF BEING MARCO RUBIO

Marco Rubio may be slipping down the shortlist of potential Mitt Romney running mates. But Rubio Inc. has been booming, reports Scott Wong of POLITICO.

… Perhaps the most telling example of Rubio’s recent success: his autobiography, “An American Son,” has sat on the Times’s best-seller list for the past five weeks, peaking at No. 4 for hardcover nonfiction. The English language hardcover is now in its fifth printing, with 95,000 copies in print, while the Spanish language hardcover, “Un Hijo Americano,” has 16,000 copies in print, a spokesman for publisher Sentinel/Penguin said.

… Rubio’s rising profile has also improved his fundraising game. From April to June, a time when Rubio topped the list of vice presidential prospects, the senator’s reelection committee raked in $800,000 — about 50 percent more than either of the previous two quarters — even though he’s not up for reelection until 2016. It’s nearly the same amount raised by Rep. Connie Mack.

… Similarly, Rubio’s year-old Reclaim America PAC raised $413,000 from April to June, about $150,000 or 57 percent more than the first quarter of 2012.

… “This could be one of those times when you’re better off being the one everybody wants rather than being the one who actually gets picked.”

TWEET OF THE DAY: @ananavarro: Damn good week for Cuban-Americans: Lochte won gold, Cruz won TX Senate. If Rubio picked VP, we can call it a Cuban-American Trifecta

SMART OR NERVOUS OR BOTH? SEN. BILL NELSON UP ON AIR EARLY by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Chances are that a good part of the ad buy will be negative. If so, Nelson’s camp probably hopes to tar Mack, hurt him in the polls in time for the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, slow his fundraising (reports are due about the time of the RNC) and hope the Super PACs go somewhere else if they believe Mack’s not worth the investment. Florida is a large TV state and it might be more cost-effective for the Super PACs to go elsewhere, say less-expensive and more-competitive Missouri, to pick up a Senate seat.

… There’s another reason to run ads for Nelson: He has raised at least $1 million from donors who have contributed in excess of the $2,500 per-cycle limit. So the ad buy in some respects represents surplus primary campaign funds. Nelson faces token opposition from Glenn Burkett on Aug. 14.
TAMPA BAY TIMES EDITORIAL: RICK SCOTT “PROMISING OPENNESS, DELIVERING PROPOGANDA” 
In Tallahassee’s politicized culture of cynicism, even an initiative touted by Gov. Rick Scott as an effort to provide unprecedented transparency has turned out to be just another betrayal of the public trust. Scott’s so-called Project Sunburst, which falsely promised to allow the public online access to his administration’s emails, is really nothing more than a sanitized forum for the governor’s conservative political base. It should be renamed Project Sundown.
GERARD ROBINSON OUT AS EDUCATION COMMISSIONER

Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson resigned late Tuesday amid a months-long controversy over the state’s testing regimen and errors on school grades that forced the department to change the marks for dozens of schools, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

In letters to Gov. Rick Scott and State Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan, Robinson said he was proud of his work with the department but wanted to spend more time with his family. Robinson was secretary of education in Virginia before taking over the Florida job in August 2011. Robinson’s resignation is effective Aug. 31, when he will have been on the job a little more than a year.

“Living far away from my family has proven to be the one challenge all this progress could not overcome,” Robinson wrote after listing his accomplishments. “So it is with sincere appreciation and deep regret my time of service to Florida’s students, parents, teachers, superintendents, college and university presidents, business and community organizations is cut short.”

JUST IN TIME FOR NOVEMBER! FLORIDA ELECTIONS CHIEF STEPS DOWN

Just two weeks before the primary election the head of the state’s elections office has quit to be closer to her family. Dr. Gisela Salas, director of the Division of Elections, resigned effective Aug. 1, Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office announced late Monday via the News Service of Florida. In a letter to the state’s supervisors of elections that was also sent to media Monday night, Detzner said the office can still oversee a smoothe primary and general election. “I want to assure you that the Division of Elections will be under the leadership and guidance of very experienced managers,” Detzner wrote. Deputy Secretary John Boynton will oversee the division, and Detzner noted he has worked at the elections agency for 39 years. Jennifer Kennedy, assistant secretary and Detzner’s chief of staff, oversaw the office during the last two election cycles, and will also help out. “Additionally, I have complete confidence in our Division Bureau Chiefs, Kristi Bronson, David Drury and Maria Matthews, to be effective leaders and managers,” Detzner said. Salas earned $90,000 a year.

MY TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: In case you’re keeping score at home, Fla. has lost an Education Commissioner and elections overseer in last 24 hours. #sayfie

FLORIDIANS CONSUMER CONFIDENCE JUMPS

Consumer confidence among Floridians rose in July by three points from the revised June figure to 76, which is nine points higher than this time last year, according to a monthly University of Florida survey. “In July, consumers are feeling much better about their personal finances compared to June and their circumstances since the recession ended 2 ½ years ago,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

SHORTLIST OF FINALIST FOR PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION RELEASED

Eight candidates have made the cut and will be interviewed to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Florida Public Service Commission, according to a short list released Tuesday by a state PSC nominating council, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

PSC member Lisa Edgar, whose expiring term will create the vacancy Jan. 1, is among the candidates on the list.

Also making the cut was former State Rep. Ken Littlefield, Joseph “Jose” Colon, of Kissimmee, a member of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and a retired assistant vice president for Manufacturers Hanover Trust; Glenn Forrest, of Orlando, senior professional engineer for the St. Johns River Water Management District; Daniel Louis, of Jacksonville, a consultant and retired chief administrative law judge of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; William Martin, of Winter Park, who has worked as a senior fiscal analyst for the Orange County Board of County Commissioners; Donald Polmann, of Dunedin, director of science and engineering for Tampa Bay Water; Luz Weinberg, an Aventura city commissioner and director of communications for Bouygues Civil Works Florida, the builder of the Port of Miami Access Tunnel.

FLORIDA SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION NAMES FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT

Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton was named Friday to be the new president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, the first woman to hold the post, reports the News Service of Florida.  Benton has chaired the group’s board, and held several leadership positions.  As president, Benton will be a main spokesperson for county sheriffs around the state. She replaces Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson.

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

SANDY ADAMS ENDORSED BY PBA, JOHN MICA BY OVIEDO MAYORS

Interest groups and politicians are continuing to take sides in the contentious Republican primary between U.S. Reps. Sandy Adams and John Mica.

Adams was endorsed this morning by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union representing more than 36,000 cops around the state. It’s the second law enforcement union to line up behind Adams, a former Orange County sheriff’s deputy, joining the Fraternal Order of Police District 7.

Meanwhile, Mica announced last night that he was been endorsed by Dominic Persampiere, the mayor of Oviedo, one of the larger municipalities in the Seminole County-based Seventh Congressional District. Mica was also endorsed by three former Oviedo mayors: Tom Walters, Mary Lou Andrews and Dave Knickerbocker.

KATHY CASTOR A HEAVY FAVORITE TO WIN 4TH TERM by Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

As she continues to run for a fourth term in Congress, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is a heavy favorite to keep her seat in the Tampa Bay area.

An easy winner over architect Eddie Adams, the Republican who faced her in 2006 and 2008, Castor had a harder time with Mike Prendergast, a veteran and businessman who emerged out of the GOP primary to challenge her in 2010. While Adams took 30 percent in 2006 and 29 percent in 2008 against Castor, Prendergast pulled 40 percent — but Castor still won handily.

Castor currently represents most of Tampa in Hillsborough County, but her district also contains parts of Manatee and Pinellas counties. As she seeks a fourth term, Castor still faces voters in Hillsborough County but she has lost the other counties now in CD 14.

As of June 30, the end of the second quarter of 2012, Castor holds an impressive fundraising advantage over her rivals in the race. With no Democratic opposition in the August primary, Castor has raised almost $484,750 in contributions and almost $315,000 from PACs. With more than $830,000 in the bank, Castor has a healthy war chest to use in the general election.

EMILY’S LIST ENDORSES GLORIA ROMERO ROSES

EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, announced that it is moving Gloria Romero Roses, a candidate for Congress in Florida’s 26th district, from “On the List” to a full recommendation.

“Gloria is truly an inspiring candidate. An immigrant from a low-income family and product of public education, Gloria is now a prominent business and community leader, and has worked tirelessly to improve Miami-Dade public schools,” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List. “She is exactly the kind of progressive champion we need in Washington right now; a leader who will protect vital programs like Medicare from being gutted by Tea Party extremists.”

WOULD DON GAETZ DUMP ELLYN BOGDANOFF JUST TO HURT JACK LATVALA?

The nastiest of rumors is currently circulating in the corridors of power in Tallahassee. That rumor suggests that the next Senate President Don Gaetz, who is currently in control of the GOP’s political apparatus designed to win State Senate races, might take a dive and allow Sachs to beat Bogdanoff just to deprive Latvala of the deciding vote.

Now, it’s not like Gaetz and the political committees he and his allies control are going to produce negative ads attacking Sachs. But they could deprive Bogdanoff of the financial resources she will need to defeat Sachs,whose campaign is a top priority of Florida Democrats. Gaetz and Co. could slow down contributions from lobbyists to Bogdanoff. They could send fewer RPOF staffers. They could poll less often for her.

Gaetz could dump the seat and no one would ever be the wiser. It wouldn’t be the first time a legislative leader traded away a seat to the opposite party.

My full analysis is here.

IN SD 8, FRANK BRUNO EDGING CLOSER TO DOROTHY HUKILL IN FUNDRAISING

Democrat Frank Bruno collected $16,475 in cash and also got $16,425 in in-kind contributions from the state Democratic Party between July 7 and July 20 in the hotly contested Senate District 8 race, according to new campaign-finance reports via The News Service of Florida. State Rep. Dorothy Hukill, the Republican candidate, collected $9,700 during the period. Overall, Hukill had raised $287,711 in cash, while Bruno had collected $223,548. The district is centered in Volusia County and stretches across part of Marion County.

USE OF JEB ENDORSEMENT A QUESTION IN MYERS VS. STARGEL SD 15 PRIMARY

In a Republican primary, few endorsements are more sought after than that of former governor Jeb Bush’s. Of course, Bush is notoriously selective about which candidates he publicly supports. That’s why, sometimes, a candidate will imply Bush’s endorsement by splashing a picture of them standing next to Jeb. Voters are none the wiser.

That’s what State Senate candidate Jack Myers is being accused of, according to sources close to the campaign of Myers’s opponent, Kelli Stargel, who Bush did endorse.

Bush is expected to ask Myers in a public release to stop using a picture of him with Myers on Myers’ campaign literature. Bill Rufty of the Lakeland Ledger reports that “Stargel had been working with aides of the former governor on a press release to be made public as early as Wednesday that will spell out the governor’s support for Stargel and again ask that the Myers camp stop using the picture.”

PRO-VOUCHER GROUP RAISING BIG BUCKS, HITS MAILBOXES FOR SCOTT PLAKON IN HD 30 by Aaron DeSlatte of the Orlando Sentinel

The Florida arm of a school-voucher group raising big bucks from charter schools is sending out some positive mail for Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican in one of the highest-profile House contests this year against Democrat Karen Castor Dentel.

The Florida Federation for Children, a state arm of the national school-choice group called the American Federation for Children, has spent close to $200,000 this summer — most of it on direct-mail pieces assisting Republican legislative candidates who support expanding school-voucher programs and charter-schools.

The mailer says nothing about Plakon’s party affiliation, which is probably by design given the slight Democratic tilt to the new House District 30, which takes in Maitland and Winter Park. Instead, it pictures Plakon and his wife, next to a headline that reads “building a stronger economy — one classroom at a time.”

It goes on to say Plakon has worked to “empower parents — not bureaucrats,” and for ”hiring the best teachers” — references to two controversial education reforms he backed in the Legislature, including the so-called “parent trigger” bill that passed the House this year.

IN HD 82, CARL DOMINO ACCUSED OF OVER-THE-TOP NEGATIVE ATTACKS

MaryLynn Magar’s spokesman Brett Doster is attempting to set the record straight after opponent Carl Domino, launched a series of  over-the-top radio ads that Doster describes as an attempt to tarnish Magar’s strong conservative credentials. Read Doster’s statement here.

JOSE DIAZ FELIX WIDENS FUNDRAISING LEAD IN HD 116

In a battle between two Miami-Dade Republican incumbents, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz collected $21,330 in contributions between July 7 and July 20 and had an overall total of $265,165, according to new campaign-finance reports via The News Service of Florida. His primary opponent in the newly drawn House District 116, Rep. Ana Rivas Logan, raised $3,500 during the two-week period and had an overall total of $141,470.

FUNDRAISER FOR HD 120 CANDIDATE HOLLY RASCHEIN TONIGHT: Governor’s Club, Tallahassee, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

CAMPAIGN PROFILES

Florida Current on SD 4: The Republican primary campaign between Rep. Mike Weinstein and former Rep. Aaron Bean for a newly redrawn Jacksonville seat in the Florida Senate this summer is really a political proxy fight for a future Senate presidency.

Sunshine State News on SD 27: Two Democrats serving together in the Florida House of Representatives — Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth and Mack Bernard of West Palm Beach — will clash in a primary for the SD 27 open seat in the state Senate that represents parts of Palm Beach County.

Sunshine State News on HD 100: Joe Gibbons is seeking a fourth term in the Florida House but faces a serious opponent in the Democratic primary come Aug. 14. But Gibbons has kept his money in the bank, giving him a healthy war chest as the primary battle enters its final days.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>James Dobson, the evangelical leader who founded Focus on the Family, has endorsed underdog Dave Weldon for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination over frontrunner Connie Mack, reports Adam Smith.

>>>Florida Right to Life and the NFIB are endorsing Randy Johnson in House District 55.

WEIRD: Republican John Enright, a candidate for Pinal County supervisor candidate, “has withdrawn from the race in the wake of voter-fraud allegations involving a former companion who, records show, has continued to vote by absentee ballot in the five years since her death,” the Arizona Republic reports. The woman, Sheila Nassar — whom Enright described as his “life companion” — lived with Enright at the time of her death.

EVEN WEIRDER: Republican Tennessee state Rep. Kelly Keisling emailed constituents “with a rumor circulating in conservative circles that President Barack Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in an effort to stop the 2012 election from happening,” the Huffington Post reports. Keisling “sent an email from his state email account to constituents containing a rumor that Obama and the Department of Homeland Security are planning a series of events that could lead to the imposition of ‘martial law’ and delay the election. Among the events hypothesized in the email is a staged assassination attempt on the president that would lead to civil unrest in urban areas and martial law.”

HAPPIEST OF BIRTHDAY WISHES to my good friend Brian Shuford, director of governmental affairs for the Pinellas Realtor Organization. Also, happy birthday to Jeb! alumni Karen Unger

WONDERFUL DELIVERIES: Evangeline Whitfield, all 6lbs and 19 inches of her, to Rep. Richard Corcoran and his wife Anne. And, after twenty four hours of labor, little Mattie Rose, to Jill Gran and Matt Puckett.

***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.