Sunburn for 8/13 – 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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Clinton will host a fundraiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton family friend, at her home in Washington next month … The Sept. 30 event marks the former secretary of state’s first political event since leaving Foggy Bottom earlier this year … Clinton has been expected to do some sort of politicking for McAuliffe, but people close to her have stressed that it doesn’t represent the starting gun of political activity for her in her latest phase; instead, it’s helping someone who has been close to the former first couple for years. Clinton’s husband has already hosted a handful of fundraisers for McAuliffe. … It remains to be seen whether Clinton, whose approval ratings remain quite high, especially with female voters, will make a public appearance for McAuliffe.

OFA HITS RUBIO AS CLIMATE CHANGE DENIER via William March of the Tampa Tribune

Members of Organizing for Action, an organization dedicated to supporting President Barack Obama’s agenda, will hold an event at Sen. Marco Rubio’s Tampa office Tuesday to “hold Sen. Rubio accountable for being a climate change denier.”

The charge is the latest line of attack against Rubio from OFA. …

“Sen. Rubio is standing strong against the overwhelming judgment of science, so OFA will be handing out an ‘award’ to recognize Sen. Rubio perseverance in resisting the facts,” says a news release from the group. They’ll gather at his office on the University of South Florida campus at 3 p.m. 

THE ROMNEY AND RUBIO EFFECT via Michael Hirsh of National Journal

If she ever decides to run, Hillary Clinton could have the clearest path to both the Democratic nomination and the White House of any candidate in either party in recent memory. That’s partly because she’s way above the rest of the Democratic field in popularity, but it’s also because any Republican candidate, in order to both get nominated and win, is going to have to travel a nearly impossible path.

Call it the Romney effect. Republican candidates appear to have to swing so far right to appease the tea-party-beholden base that they often lose the majority, and they sow mistrust with all that flip-flopping. Exhibit A right now is Sen. Rubio’s lurch back toward the right over Obamacare, following months of playing the reasonable card on immigration. Now even seniors are souring on the GOP.

National Republican strategists are justifiably worried about the direction of the party. But as long as the GOP’s least-common-denominator policies are determined at the House district level—where few people worry about anything other than the next two years—the White House is going to look more and more remote.


Senator Rubio, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will attend a Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation field hearing in Apalachicola to examine the impacts of decreased water flows on the Apalachicola Bay and surrounding industries.

The hearing is titled, “Effects of Water Flows on Apalachicola Bay: Short and Long Term Perspectives.”  Witnesses will include Congressman Steve Southerland; Col. Jon Chytka of the Army Corps of Engineers; Jon Steverson, Executive Director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District; Dan Tonsmeire, Executive Director of the Apalachicola River Keeper; and others. The event will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse Annex Building, will be live streamed and is open to the press. 

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Mo Elleithee is a 17-year veteran of Democratic politics specializing in communications. He’s worked on four different presidential campaigns, including as traveling press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid; worked in senior communications roles for candidates across the country including Tim Kaine (VA), Mark Warner (VA), and Tom Udall (NM); and has advised various Democratic party committees including the DSCC, DCCC and Democratic Party of Virginia. For the past three years, he’s been on the faculty of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, and he’s a die-hard Hoya basketball fan. He’ll be taking a leave of absence from his firm, Hilltop Public Solutions, to join the DNC full-time.”

In a forthcoming email to friends, Mo writes: ‘When Nick Baldick and I teamed up to start Hilltop Public Solutions in January of 2006, I knew we were starting something special. Today, seven and half years later, I’m proud to see Hilltop has emerged as one of the top public affairs and political consulting firms in the nation. … But life is full of transitions … I’m excited to join Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the outstanding DNC team in helping to advance President Obama’s agenda and support our great Democratic candidates … This is an exciting time for the Democratic Party, and I’m excited to help share that story.”

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Dude from Duck Dynasty may run for Congress. Story here

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On Tuesday, protestors are scheduled to gather in front of Blue Cross Blue Shield offices in Tampa, Ft. Myers, Orlando, and West Palm Beach to bring scrutiny to BCBS’s role in directing Enroll America, the non-profit entity created to shepherd people into insurance policies through federal exchanges. It is no secret that BCBS stands to benefit greatly from federal health care reforms under Obamacare, but according to Americans for Prosperity Florida state director Slade O’Brien, the mega-insurer is going about it in a way that is not so kosher.  BCBS has executives on Enroll America’s board of directors. Using Enroll America’s tax exempt status, BCBS and other board members are able to contribute to the entity receiving a tax deduction, while using the entity to sell their own products for a profit. 

“As a board member, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is running an organization that is advocating for people to buy a product they sell,” O’Brien said in a statement. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pad their pockets with new taxpayer-subsidized insurance policies, while citizens lose jobs and businesses are unable to hire and expand. This is just one more example of the disastrous effects of the President’s signature healthcare law on Florida’s families.”

From noon until 1:00 p.m., protestors will be at: Florida Blue, 201 N. Westshore Blvd, Tampa; Florida Blue at the Winter Park Village, 434 N. Orlando Ave, Orlando; BCBS Office at the Atrium Executive Center, 8695 College Parkway, Ft. Myers; and Florida Blue, 2247 Palm Beach lakes Blvd, West Palm Beach.

BCBS’s outreach isn’t on its own the problem.  Instead, according to O’Brien, the concern is with how BCBS is going about its advocacy. “As a board member, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is running an organization that is advocating for people to buy a product they sell. That’s called inurnment and it’s not only unacceptable, it’s illegal,” O’Brien said in a statement. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pad their pockets with new taxpayer-subsidized insurance policies, while citizens lose jobs and businesses are unable to hire and expand…” To Americans for Prosperity, this is “the epitome of a big business-big government partnership designed to grow private business profits through government force, all under the guise of a non-profit.”

PRO-OBAMACARE GROUP STAFFS UP IN FLORIDA via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Enroll America, the group helping to educate people about the new health care law, now has 27 staffers on the ground in Florida, illustrating how important the state is to the overall viability of Obamacare.

Nick Duran, Florida state director, said in a conference call this morning that volunteers have begun making connections with nonprofit health care groups to spread the word. Volunteers have started going door-to-door and plan a blitz at back to school events and on college campuses.

… It’s a campaign style outreach, though Enroll America is not an arm of Obama’s Organizing for Action, which is doing similar work. They are pushing to inform people as the health care marketplaces under the law begin taking enrollments Oct. 1.


Emma Dumain looks at a forthcoming proposal to replace President Obama’s health care reform law making its way out of the Republican Study Committee, which includes the vast majority of the House Republican caucus.

RSC Chairman Steve Scalise “said the plan would include protections for people with pre-existing conditions — one of the main benefits of Obamacare… But, he promised the bill would not ‘put in place mandates that increase the costs of health care and push people out of the insurance that they like,’ Scalise said.”

“Scalise said that the bill has not yet been completed, and he did not clarify when after Congress returns from the August recess it might be introduced.”

Reihan Salam: “My sense is that the RSC proposal is likely to be relatively modest, with a focus on reforming the tax treatment of medical insurance and state high risk pools, but that it is still evolving.”

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will tour Apalachicola Bay (with Sen. Rubio, as detailed above) and meet with local oystermen and families impacted by the ongoing fisheries disaster. 2 p.m. Riverfront Park. Riverfront Park, Apalachicola.


Last week, tea party group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) announced Scott will be offering the keynote speech at the “Defending the American Dream Summit” over Labor Day weekend in Orlando. Scott will be joined by some Republicans already angling for their party’s presidential nomination in 2016 including Marco Rubio, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal.

He will be looking to mend fences with the movement. In his two and a half years in office, the tea party has generally remained behind Scott on most issues, though he has taken heat from them on immigration and a handful of other issues.

But the Tea Party has broken with Scott on two major items. On education, Scott is a proponent of Common Core State Standards, wildly unpopular among many of the tea party faithful. At the AFP event in Orlando, the governor will have the opportunity to make his case on the new education standards to what should be a wary audience on that issue.

… When he speaks in Orlando, he can also showcase some of his accomplishments in office. The audience at the AFP event should cheer his economic record as private-sector job creation and Florida’s economy continue to grow. He should also win applause for holding the line on the cost and size of state government.

VACANCY IN LG’S OFFICE HITS FIVE MONTHS via the News Service of Florida

Monday marked the five-month anniversary of Jennifer Carroll’s resignation as Lieutenant Governor, and it remained unclear when Gov. Rick Scott would name a replacement.

The governor said in early July that he had directed his chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, to establish criteria to select a lieutenant governor. Without a replacement for Carroll, Attorney General Pam Bondi would take over if Scott were unable to fulfill his duties for some reason.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’re still working on the criteria and I’m working with Adam Hollingsworth, my chief of staff, on that. My biggest focus every day is to keep jobs going.” — Gov. Scott 

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The board of directors of Naples-based hospital company Health Management Associates will be replaced after a vote of shareholders led by the investment fund Glenview Capital Management LLC. Glenview, which owns 14.6 percent of HMA’s stock, issued a statement late Monday that said a majority of shareholders voted to support the replacement.

Glenview launched the effort in June, contending that HMA has “fallen short in their financial returns delivered to shareholders, their financial management and focus, our shared aspirational goals on regulatory compliance and the pursuit of a stable and effective leadership team.”

After initially fighting the proposal, HMA said last week it would be willing to add nominees offered by Glenview to the board and was prepared for one of Glenview’s nominees to become chairman. But Glenview rejected the offer. The replacement vote also comes after an announcement July 30 that Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, Inc., plans to buy HMA in a $7.6 billion deal.


Hurricane Loss Protection:  The Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology will discuss models used to develop property insurance rates. The meeting will be held at8:30 a.m., Hermitage Centre, 1801 Hermitage Blvd., Tallahassee. 

Elections Commission: The Florida Elections Commission will start two days of meetings. Its agenda includes a case involving state Rep. Reggie Fullwood and discussion of a proposed legislative package. Tuesday, 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building.

Public Service Commission: The PSC is expected to consider a series of telecommunications and electric-utility issues involving companies such as Florida Power & Light, Florida Public Utilities Company and Qwest Communications Company, LLC. Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.

Florida Hospital Association: The FHA will hold a media conference call to release a report about the results of hospital quality-improvement programs. Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.. Call-in number: 888-625-3116. ID number: 28628862.

US Senate Field Hearing in Apalachicola: At Sen. Marco Rubio’s request, a U.S. Senate subcommittee will hold a field hearing at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Apalachicola to hear about the effects of lack of fresh water on Apalachicola Bay. It will be held at 11 a.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse Annex.

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Tampa Senator Arthenia Joyner filed a bill to prevent health insurance providers from banning telemedicine, the use of videoconferencing and other technology between doctors and patients. Joyner’s bill SB 70 will be under consideration for the 2014 legislative session.

Some insurers require medical consults occur with face-to-face meetings, and Joyner’s proposal would eliminate that requirement if video teleconferencing or similar means were available.

According to the bill, “Health care services covered through in-person consultations or through telemedicine shall be treated as equivalent services for the purposes of health insurance coverage and payment.”

In addition, the proposal would instruct the Florida Department of Health to investigate telemedicine options for diagnosing strokes, premature births, high-risk pregnancies, mental-health and other emergency services.


As of Monday night, more than 20 percent of the state Legislature—33 members, to be exact—had sent written requests to the Department of State for a special session on the state’s “stand your ground” law.

That means they’ve met the statutory trigger for Secretary of State Ken Detzner to poll all 160 state lawmakers whether a special session should be held.

Now, three-fifths must vote ‘yes’ for a special session to be scheduled.

With 58 Democrats and 102 Republicans in both chambers, 38 Republicans would have to join all of the Democrats to reach three-fifths. The 33 who wrote in are all Democrats.

Detzner’s letter asks, “Should a special session of the Florida Legislature be convened for the general purpose of addressing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law?” Responses are due by 11:59 p.m. next Monday.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: In a statement @willweatherford says SYG special session poll will show #FLLeg is opposed to calling one

DREAM DEFENDERS MARK 28TH DAY OF CAPITOL SIT-IN via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News

The Dream Defenders officially entered their 28th day of protest on Monday, and it doesn’t appear that they’ll be leaving the Florida Capitol any time soon. 

The protest started July 16, three days after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Protesters flocked to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, speaking out on Stand Your Ground laws in Florida and calling for a special legislative session to discuss the law. Scott met with protesters in July and spoke with them about Stand Your Ground, but rejected a special session.

The Dream Defenders’ protest has gathered considerable attention from legislators, the public, press and celebrities alike. Last week, rapper Talib Kweli visited the protesters. Rev. Jesse Jackson and Harry Belafonte also made stops in Tallahassee to show their support for the protest, which consists mostly of college and high school students. 

It’s unclear just how long the Dream Defenders will continue their protest, but their leader, Phillip Agnew, says they will continue to move forward. 

“We have a plan, a plan to persevere,” he said.

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In an early display of his political connections, Republican Bill Gunter announced the endorsement of Sheriff Chris Nocco. Gunter is running for House District 36, which Mike Fasano vacated last week to become Pasco Tax Collector.

“To be proactive in fighting crime and make our neighborhoods safe, law enforcement needs Bill Gunter in Tallahassee to make sure we have laws that are tough on crime. Bill Gunter is the kind of leader we can trust to make sure law enforcement has what it needs to ensure Florida families are safe,” said Sheriff Nocco. 

“I am humbled to have the support of Sheriff Nocco,” said Gunter. “I will work hard to serve the people of Pasco County as courageously and selflessly as our great Sheriff does every day.”

FOLLOW Gunter on Twitter @ElectBillGunter

IS HIS RESIDENCY AN ISSUE? via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

On Monday, Will Weatherford called Gunter a “great candidate” who faced a residency problem not unlike what faces many other candidates.

“It’s not uncommon when they first run,” said Weatherford. (Actually, Gunter faced a similar residency issue last year when he ran for a Pasco County commission seat).

When asked about Gunter’s plan to move back if he loses, Weatherford demurred.

“I can’t speak to that,” he said.

But Gunter’s situation does highlight the need for better clarification on residency requirements, Weatherford said. He hopes to have a clarification by the end of the year.

“What we have to do in the House and Senate is establish what that residency status is and abide by it,” Weatherford said.

LOOK FOR an endorsement today from Rep. Ed Hooper of Chris Latvala’s campaign to succeed him in the Florida House.


The campaign to elect Blaise Ingoglia to House District 35 is holding a fundraising reception on September 24 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Governors Club.  An invitation with the host committee will follow soon.

TAKE YOUR FAVORITE REPUBLICAN SENATOR OUT TO THE BALLGAME TONIGHT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times See the invite here.

America’s favorite pastime is, of course, baseball. Tallahassee’s favorite pastime is, of course, raising money.

Senate Republicans will merge the two next month when they hold a fund-raiser at Yankee Stadium during an Aug. 13 game between the Bronx Bombers and the Los Angeles Angels. A VIP reception precedes the baseball. The Yankees, who train in Tampa every spring, are represented in Tallahassee by the lobbyist Brian Ballard and his partners. 

The listed co-hosts on the invitation are Senate President Don Gaetz and his designated successor, Sen. Andy Gardiner. The money will benefit Senate Majority 2014, the fund-raising account for GOP senators who are up for re-election. Sixteen of the 26 Republican senators will face the voters in 2014.

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Between lobbyists Nick Iarossi, Gerald Wester, Ron LaFace Jr., Ken Granger, Pat O’Connell, and Chris Schoonover, CCC is able to manage a range of interests from A to Z . Or, more literally, from Aetna, Inc. to Zurich Co.

Between April 1 and June 30, Aetna compensated CCC by as much as $49,999 for legislative representation, while Citigroup and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office each coughed up somewhere between $30,000 and $39,999. CIGNA, Equity Residential, Office Depot, and Reed Elsevier were among CCC clients who paid as much as $29,999 this quarter; while the Associated Industries of Florida, Citibank, the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, Visa, and 20 other clients paid as much as $19,999.

CCC represents a number of educational interests as well, including the School District of Palm Beach County, the University of Florida Student Government Association, and the New College of Florida Foundation.

For CCC’s tenth year in operation, reporting greater than $1 million in total compensation this quarter is no small accomplishment to boast.


Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate & Webb reports billing between $500,000 to $999,999 from its 63 legislative clients during the second quarter — an impressive number, even if the firm did not crack the $1 million threshold.

The report list the clients represented by the firm and gives broad ranges of the total amounts of money that the firm bills. 

Compared with the first quarter of 2013 and the same quarter from 2012, Colodny Fass again landed in the same compensation $500K-$999K range, although it did show an increase in the number of clients.

Fifteen legislative clients paid Colodny as much as $9,999 this quarter, and 11 came in at as much as $19,999 — including the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Safelite Group, Inc.  

Dosal Tobacco Corporation, United Automobile Insurance, Focus Holdings LLC, and eight other clients were each billed as much as $29,999 to Colodny this quarter.   

The firm’s three largest legislative lobbying contracts came from property and casualty insurers: Florida Property & Casualty Association, Heritage Property & Casualty, and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, each of whom paid the firm as much as $39,999 this quarter.


Could Tallahassee’s most lucrative lobbying shop be based in Orlando? It’s possible after looking at GrayRobinson’s second quarter lobbying compensation report.

The firm, which includes Fred Leonhardt, Chris Carmody, Tim Cerio, Robert Stuart, and Jason Unger, landed in the “over $1,000,000” range for total compensation billed during the latest cvcle, which spanned April to June 2013.

That’s impressive considering that as late as May 2007 the firm had yet to hit the $1 million per quarter mark.

This quarter, the firm’s largest legislative lobbying contract was with the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which paid as much as $49,999 for representation.  Three clients compensated GrayRobinson up to $39,999: Jetro RR Inc, Millennium Laboratories, and the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. 

Another nine legislative lobbying clients ring in between $20,000 and $29,000, including Darden Restaurants, the Florida Podiatric Medical Association, and Walgreen Company; and a whopping 31 clients hit between $10,000 and $19,999 this quarter, including Shands, the Orlando Magic, Associated Builders & Contractors, and various municipalities.  Twenty-three interests were reported to compensate GrayRobinson up to $9,999, including the South Broward Hospital District, Melbourne Airport Authority, and the Association of Florida Colleges, Inc.

In total, GrayRobinson has just shy of 100 clients for which they are registered to lobby the Legislature and executive branch.


Smith, Bryan and Myers, Inc. isn’t the largest consulting firm in terms of staff or client lists — but this six-member lobby team certainly packs a punch.

SB&M sits among the top lobbying earners, bringing in between $500,000 and $999,999 in compensation for legislative lobbying this quarter, and reporting over $250,000 for executive lobbying.

Its 50 executive branch clients include a number of major players, including U.S. Sugar, the Florida Hospital Association, Corrections Corporation of America, Progress Energy, TMX, Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Bar, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, and United Healthcare Services, Inc.

For legislative representation, add AT&T and HydroMentia as substantial contracts for the SB&M team, which includes Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Jeff Hartley, Julie Myers, Jim Naff and Andrea Reilly.

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An update on one of our favorite people (especially after her beau, Matthew Farrar, just donated to our campaign to collect 10,000 Legos for the Great Explorations Children’s Museum) Anna Alexopolous.

Anna tells us she is leaving CFO Jeff Atwater’s office, where she has helped lead the communications team. She has accepted a position with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes’ communications team (FLASH), a national organization that focuses on disaster prep, mitigation and safety. She will be focusing on digital media strategy, media relations and community outreach.
“I’m very excited about this new opportunity and the next chapter in my life,” said Alexopoulos, who may or may not be of Greek heritage.

Mike Colodny, Managing Partner and Founder of Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate & Webb, was elected by the Broward Days Board of Directors as Chairman on August 5, 2013. With a 20-year history of advocacy, Broward Days is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan local, state and federal legislative advocacy organization serving the public policy needs of Broward County businesses and citizens. Mr. Colodny has been active in the community, and has held public office as a City Councilman and four-term Mayor of the City of North Miami.  He also served the State of Florida as attorney for the President of the Florida Senate, and City Attorney and Special Counsel for various South Florida municipalities.  Subsequent to his tenure as an elected official, Mr. Colodny served two terms as President of the North Miami Chamber of Commerce.


Public relations firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies recently welcomed Michelle Robey as Vice President in the healthcare provider practice. In her new position, Robey will provide public relations and expertise to the firm’s national healthcare clients.

Robey joins the H+K Tampa office from Louisville, KY where she has been serving as the Senior Marketing Manager at Kosair Children’s Hospital, which is part of Norton Healthcare Inc. Prior to that she was Brand Events Manager for Humana Inc. in Louisville. Robey also brings widespread consumer marketing experience to the office, as she had previously served as Vice President, Group Brand Architecture, at Doe Anderson Inc. where she worked on client brands such as Jim Bean Global Spirits & Wine and Louisville Slugger.


Pensacola City Council President P.C. Wu is now also president of the Florida League of Cities. The role gives Pensacola a strong presence and voice in a statewide organization that represents about 410 cities, towns and villages. Wu, long active in the league, was elected by his peers to the position of second vice president in 2011, putting him on track to become the president this year. But he had to step into the role a few days early after the former league president, Sweetwater Mayor Manuel “Manny” Marono, was arrested on Tuesday for bribery-related charges, according to the Associated Press. Gov. Rick Scott removed Marono from office, and the league’s executive board on Wednesday voted unanimously to install Wu into the role.

WELCOME TO THE TWITTERS: Southern Strategy Group – @SoStrategyFL; GREAT FIRST TWEET: @SoStrategyGroup: In Capitol today. Dream Defender protest in Gov’s lobby halts so they can –no kidding– attend birthday party.

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CAN’T WAIT TO READ: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to St. Petersburg City Councilman Karl Nurse and man-about-town Ralph Torres. A belated happy birthday to Rep. Matt Caldwell.

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.