A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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2016 DEMS VENTURING TO EARLY STATES – “NON-CLINTON DEMS ASK: WHY NOT ME?” via Alexander Burns of POLITICO
[W]ith the next Iowa caucuses a mere 29 or so months away, other, lesser-known Democrats have begun to take tentative steps to raise their national profiles. Last week, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ventured outside his home state to stump for Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Senate campaign in New Jersey. [Tomorrow], Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a well-liked and quick-witted Democrat in her second term, will speak at the North Iowa Democrats’ 10th Annual Wing Ding Dinner. … And on Sept. 15, both Vice President Joe Biden … and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will both speak at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry …
Any long, hypothetical list of Democrats for 2016, party officials say, should include [Clinton, Biden,] O’Malley, Klobuchar, [Sen. Kirsten] Gillibrand, [Cory] Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association.
THREE KINDS OF REPUBLICANS IN MIX FOR 2016 via Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball
Our most recent rating of Republican presidential contenders features a top tier of three notably different candidates: A Midwestern governor (Scott Walker) who is known best by the activists who will help decide the nomination; a leading national figure (Chris Christie) who has irked conservatives; and a firebrand senator (Rand Paul) with devoted supporters who would shake up the party’s platform and, perhaps, identity.
RGA OUTRAISES DGA via Byron Tau and Tarini Parti of POLITICO
The Republican Governors Association significantly outpaced its Democratic counterpart … in the first six months of 2013 – outraising the Democratic Governors Association haul by about $10 million. The RGA raised about $24 million to the DGA’s $13.4 million, according to documents filed with the Internet Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission. (The DGA raised a further $1.6 million through other committees, like a nonprofit arm and a super PAC, bringing its total to around $15 million. The RGA does not combine its fundraising totals with any other committees) … The fundraising reports come just one week after the National Governors Association summer meeting, at which Democrats laid the groundwork for a campaign based on nationalizing the 36 gubernatorial races on the ballot in 2014. Currently, 30 of the nation’s 50 governors are Republican. That significant edge in governorships has been a fundraising boon for the RGA. …
Top Republican donors kicked in big to support GOP state-level efforts, while Democrats learned heavily on corporate, union and trade association dollars for their fundraising efforts. Individual donors on the left contributed instead to Democratic super PACs, which outraised conservative groups in the first half of 2013. Individual donors to the RGA include megadonor David Koch, real estate mogul Donald Trump, GOP fundraiser Fred Malek and the late Texas construction magnate Bob Perry. … Top corporate contributors to the RGA include GOP megadonor Harold Simmons’s Contran Corp., managed care company WellPoint, utility Florida Power & Light Co., pharmaceutical trade group PhRMA, and many others. … Democratic coffers were boosted by big donations from unions like the American Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union and the International Association of Fire Fighters, and corporations like retailer Wal-Mart and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
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IN EXCHANGES, INSURERS MAY LIMIT CHOICES FOR DOCTORS, HOSPITALS via The Wall Street Journal
State health insurance marketplaces rolling out this fall will offer “tough choices” for consumers able to decide among plans from current insurers or from their primary-care physicians. Because of cost, plans offered in the state exchanges by consumers’ current insurers might not include large health care providers, leaving those consumers to foot the bill if they want to continue seeing their existing physicians. Many state plans around the country will include “relatively few choices of doctors and hospitals.”
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DREAM DEFENDERS END THEIR OCCUPATION OF THE CAPITOL
After staging a sit-in outside Gov. Scott’s office at the Florida Capitol for the past 31 days, the Dream Defenders are ending their vigil. They say they’ve accomplished many of the goals that they set for themselves when they arrived here on July 16. They led the sit-in because they were upset with the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman.
The group called for a special legislative session focusing on Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, racial profiling by police, and zero-tolerance school policies.
They convinced House Speaker Weatherford to schedule a hearing on Stand Your Ground this fall. They plan to meet with leaders at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to talk about racial profiling. And they say they have a commitment from state education leaders to talk about policy adjustments to juvenile justice rules.
The Dream Defenders’ leader, Phillip Agnew, says the group will now launch a voter registration drive targeting politicians who don’t support the group’s issues.
TWEET, TWEET: @DwightBullard: I am so proud of what the @Dreamdefenders have been able to spark. That spark will shine a bright light on a better tomorrow. #TakeOverFL
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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott and Sen. Joe Negron will tour the S-80 Control Structure on the St. Lucie River and assess the environmental impact of water being released from Lake Okeechobee. The Governor will also discuss his concerns with the Army Corps of Engineers’ maintenance of the Okeechobee Lake Dike System, as well as possible solutions to mitigating future impact of the release. 2:15 p.m.
GOV. SCOTT HONORS 154 VETERANS WITH GOVERNOR’S SERVICE AWARD
Joined by Adjutant General of Florida National Guard Major General Emmett R. Titshaw, Jr. and Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Retired Army Colonel Mike Prendergast, Gov. Scott awarded 154 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation.
Gov. Scott said, “The freedoms and opportunities that are afforded by the American Dream were paid for by the service and sacrifice of our brave veterans. Our heroes have made countless sacrifices for Florida families and it is important that we take the time to frequently honor and thank them for their courage and their service. Although we can never thank our veterans enough, this medal will serve as a testament of our thanks from Floridians everywhere.”
The ceremony was held at the Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans Nursing Home in St. Augustine, one of six veterans’ nursing homes in the state. During the ceremony, Gov. Scott highlighted the service of Florida Veteran, Colonel George Taylor.
Colonel Taylor was born in Greenville, South Carolina and honorably served the United States military for 30 years. Taylor began as a Distinguished Military Graduate from Clemson University, and went on to complete multiple combat tours, including Korea and Vietnam. Colonel Taylor quickly stepped up to the call of duty, and was awarded three Silver Stars, multiple Bronze Stars, Legion of Merit, the Soldiers Medal, the Purple Heart, and many others.
Taylor’s Soldiers Medal was awarded for saving the lives of many military men during Vietnam. Colonel Taylor courageously ran up to an ammo truck that had caught fire in the middle of the camp and extinguished the fire before the truck exploded. Because of his decisive action, he saved lives as he ran directly into the face of danger. Additionally, Taylor’s Silver Star was awarded for assuming the rank of Commander during an attack, calling for backup, and saving the lives of his men.
JOBS NUMBERS TO BE RELEASED
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is scheduled to release updated unemployment figures at 10:00 a.m.
WITH GENEROUS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS, SCOTT CELEBRATES ROWING CENTER HE ONCE VETOED via Katie Sanders of the Tampa Bay Times
The $5 million state lawmakers set aside in 2011 for a Sarasota rowing center was deemed to have no statewide purpose, and Scott vetoed it. Dubbed a “turkey” by Florida TaxWatch, the rowing center stood out amid $615 million in spending that Scott axed that year. It was a defining moment for the new governor, a grand gesture to his tea party base and discontent with government spending.
“Special interests probably aren’t happy with the tough choices I made,” Scott said with a swipe of his veto pen, “but I am confident everyone can agree that funding for our children and students is more important than pleasing Tallahassee’s special interests.”
Fast forward to Thursday. Scott stood at Regatta Island at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota under a crowded tent teeming with local officials, rowing enthusiasts, business leaders and ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who thanked him for coming around to support the $40 million rowing center.
In the past two years, Scott has allowed the project $10 million in state funding.
It’s an about-face that he says came after boosters of the project persuaded him of its statewide impact.
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A DEMOCRAT STEPS UP TO CHALLENGE FLA CFO JEFF ATWATER via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
Allie Braswell, head of the central Florida Urban League and former Disney official, is running to be the Democratic challenger to Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. As a first time candidate little known outside the Orlando area, Braswell is the clear underdog against Atwater, a formidable money-raiser who previously served as Florida Senate president and as a banking executive.
Braswell, after 13 years in the Marines, worked a senior technology officer and diversity manager at Walt Disney World, before taking the helm of the Metropolitcan Orlando Urban League in 2010 at the time the non-profit was struggling. Braswell says he wants to give working class Floridians a voice in Tallahassee.
ATWATER’S CAMP IS DISMISSIVE…
“Mr. Braswell and Democrats want to focus on politics well over a year before Election Day,” said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for Atwater’s campaign. “Jeff Atwater is focused on serving Floridians by working to bring relief to insurance ratepayers and fighting the consumer fraud that steals from seniors and families.”
… FDP IS ECSTATIC
“I am thrilled that Allie Braswell is running for Florida’s CFO, because he’s exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee. We need a leader who will fight the politicians who are giving taxpayer money to their donors and friends. Floridians deserve a leader who will fight to hold government accountable, and attract new jobs to our state,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant.
Continued Tant: “Floridians deserve better than Jeff Atwater, who is looking out for the big special interests — not middle class Floridians. From the Marines to the corporate boardroom to the streets of Orlando, Allie has always served his country and his community. While an executive at Disney, Allie cut budgets without cutting jobs. As the CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, Allie turned around a struggling organization. I’m proud he’s running for CFO.”
EXPECT NO-BID CONTRACTS TO BE AN ISSUE via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union
In a follow up interview, Braswell explained Tant’s comments were a reference to no-bid contracts given out by the CFO’s office during Atwater’s term.
“It has been go along to get along under his watch,” he said. “Millions have been awarded in no bid contracts.”
Braswell could provide no examples.
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MED. MARIJUANA GROUP COLLECTS +100 K PETITIONS, SLOWS DRIVE UNTIL SUPREME COURT RULES via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald
A medical marijuana group says it has cleared its first major hurdle to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot: Collecting enough voter signatures to trigger Florida Supreme Court review of the initiative’s language.
Since July, People United for Medical Marijuana collected at least 110,000 signatures — well in excess of the 68,314 needed to start the review, said the group’s treasurer and director, Ben Pollara.
Pollara said the group, nicknamed PUFMM, will temporarily suspend its paid petition-gathering drive until the court rules on the constitutionality of the proposal, which can’t be misleading or cover multiple subjects.
Why halt now?
“You got $150,000 a week to pay to collect signatures?” Pollara asked rhetorically.
A main argument to speed up the review process: The Florida Legislature made petition drives tougher, and therefore more expensive.
PUFMM could actually have as many as 140,000 signatures already by week’s end, at which point the outstanding petitions gathered by volunteers and the signature-gathering firm National Voter Outreach should be in.
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Dr. Jonathan D. Miller, Dr. Andrew S. Rubin, Dr. Harry J. Reiff, Mary Denise O’Brien to the Board of Psychology.
Latasha Fullwood to the Florida State College at Jacksonville District Board of Trustees.
Lucas Boyce, Bruce Carlson, and Daisy Lopez-Cid to the Valencia College District Board of Trustees.
FOUR CANDIDATES REMAIN FOR WATCHDOG ROLE AT CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida
It’s a little like “American Idol.”
As of Thursday, the number of candidates vying for the internal watchdog role at Citizens Property Insurance stands at four. In the next week, the three-member selection committee will begin background checks on the four.
Gov. Rick Scott created the position to oversee the travel spending at the state-backed insurance firm after concerns over the firing of the agency’s Office of Corporate Integrity. Citizens will maintain the job, as part of an insurance law Scott signed in May.
Once those background checks are completed, the surviving candidates will advance Aug. 23 to the state Financial Services Commission, which includes Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. The final decision will be next month.
The four contenders:
- Hector Collazo Jr. — a former law enforcement officer and Inspector General for the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court
- R. David Holmgren—the deputy Inspector General the U.S Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
- Bruce Meeks — attorney with the Law Offices of Roberts & Meeks in Tallahassee
- Thomas Raftery — Inspector general for the Delaware River Port Authority in Camden, N.J.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO LEAD THE STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM via Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times
The pay’s good, and the title of the job sounds nice enough — chancellor of the state university system.
But Florida’s next leader in higher education will inherit a job that requires a soft touch, keen political savvy and the dexterity to manage many bosses.
The 17-member Board of Governors hires and fires the chancellor and sets the agenda. The governor and Legislature make the rules and control the purse strings. Then, there are 12 universities, each with different sets of leaders and ambitions.
Chancellor Frank Brogan announced last week that he’s leaving the post on Sept. 30 to take a similar position in Pennsylvania.
Who fills his shoes could help cement the job as an important cog in the management of Florida’s higher education system, or continue a power shift from Tallahassee toward individual universities.
“It’s not like it used to be because the board delegated most of the power, almost all of the power, to the individual campuses,” said Charles Reed, who served as chancellor from 1985 to 1998 when the state had a more powerful Board of Regents. “And there needs to be some compromise, some happy medium, between giving away all of the authority and having it all centralized.”
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SEN. ROB BRADLEY RECOGNIZED BY THE FLORIDA SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION
Each year, the Florida Sheriffs Association recognizes state legislators who have made significant contributions to criminal justice and public safety through their leadership.
On Wednesday, the Alachua, Bradford, and Clay County Sheriffs’ Offices presented Senator Rob Bradley with the Legislative Champion Award at a ceremony held at Gallery 26 in Melrose, Florida. Senator Bradley was a great advocate to the Florida Sheriffs Association this past session. He sponsored SB 1162, Mandatory Reports of Child Abuse, a priority bill of the Florida Sheriffs Association, and sponsored other important criminal justice legislation, such as SB 294, which put into statute the Attorney General’s emergency scheduling of new synthetic drugs.
“The Florida Sheriffs Association is honored to recognize Senator Bradley for his tireless work to support Florida’s Sheriffs and all law enforcement across the state,” said Polk County Sheriff and FSA President Grady Judd. “FSA applauds our partners in the Capitol for their continued support in protecting all Floridians.”
“He’s a champion and fighter for the rights of citizens in the great state of Florida,” said Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith.
SEN. JACK LATVALATAKES ANOTHER SHOT AT DENTAL FEE BILL via The News Service of Florida
After a similar measure died during this spring’s legislative session, Sen. Jack Latvala filed a proposal Thursday that delves into payment arrangements between dentists and health insurers.
The bill (SB 86), filed for the 2014 session, relates to services that are not covered under contracts between health plans and dentists. It would prevent insurers from requiring dentists to provide those non-covered services at fees set by the health plans.
REPS. MIKE CLELLAND AND CARL ZIMMERMANN EXPLAIN WHY THEY BROKE FROM DEMS ON SYG via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times
Keep in mind, Clelland and Zimmerman represent pretty conservative districts. Clelland, a retired firefighter, has a district in Seminole County that includes, oddly enough, parts of Sanford. Some have dubbed him the “Dragon Slayer” because last year he narrowly ousted the man who was to become House Speaker in 2014 — Chris Dorworth. If Clelland strays too far to the left, then he becomes an easier target.
“My district isn’t like other districts,” Clelland said. “It leans Republican. And I’m an independent thinker. I’m not a party line guy. I’m part of the disappearing middle in Florida politics.”
The way Clelland sees it, a special session wasn’t the proper venue for revisiting stand your ground. He said a committee was a better place to review the law because testimony from the residents and experts could be given. He sits on the House’s criminal justice subcommittee, which is already going to hold a hearing on the law.
“With a special session, it’s 120 lawmakers (in the House) debating the issue,” Clelland said. “There are no outside voices.”
Does he favor making changes to the law?
“I don’t have a definitive answer for you until the debate is over,” he said.
Zimmermann does have an answer.
“I support stand your ground pretty much the way it is now,” Zimmermann said. Like Clelland, Zimmermann is a rookie lawmaker, having knocked off shirtless wonder Peter Nehr last year.
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HOUSE LEADERSHIP PLANNING SEPT. 28 FUNDRAISER AT FSU GAME IN BOSTON
The Republican Party of Florida invites supporters (and donors) to a fundraising reception in Boston on September 28.
House Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli and future Speakers Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva are hosts of the event at the Florida State Seminoles away game, when they will face the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium.
As part of the event, attendees will also have the opportunity for a VIP tour of Fenway Park, in addition to a VIP dinner Friday, Sept. 27, the day before the game.
For room block information or more information, contact Kristin Seidel Lamb at (850) 222-7920 or email@example.com.
REP. JANET ADKINS ENDORSES BLAISE INGOGLIA FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 35
Blaise Ingoglia announced Thursday that State Rep. Janet Adkins has endorsed the campaign. “Blaise Ingoglia is a leader in Hernando County and in our great state,” stated Adkins. “His passion and commitment to conservative principles and strong fiscal accountability are exactly what Florida needs. I am proud to call Blaise a friend and I am honored to endorse Blaise Ingoglia for State House, District 35”.
Atkins joins twelve other state legislators, and five local leaders, in her endorsement of Ingoglia.
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JOHNSON & BLANTON PULLS DOWN HIGH SIX FIGURES FOR BOTH LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE BRANCH LOBBYING
You can’t turn a corner in the Capitol without running into a Johnson & Blanton lobbyist — and that is impressive considering there are just four on their team.
Together, Travis Blanton, Melanie Brown, Amy Christian and Jon Johnson serve 46 clients. That’s one of the highest ratios of clients-per-lobbyist we’ve seen — and there’s no sign of this crew slowing down.
During the second quarter of 2013, Johnson & Blanton were compensated as much as $999,999 for legislative representation and up to another $999,999 for executive. This matches their returns from last quarter and this time last year.
Johnson & Blanton’s largest-paying clients of this quarter — Florida Hospital, and the Florida Hospital Association — each contributed up to $99,998 for legislative and executive lobbying. Other clients, including Sallie Mae, Pfizer, GEO Care, the Florida Retail Federation, and the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists, each compensated up to $59,998 for legislative and executive representation.
Add in Hewlett Packard, Bank of America, Florida Crystals, Florida Power & Light, and Orange County, and you can see why these four are always on their feet. And maybe, also, why they are always smiling.
RAMBA’S FIRM POSTS STRONG Q2 NUMBERS
During the second quarter of 2013, Ramba Consulting Group brought in up to $249,999 for legislative consulting, up from $99,999 during the second quarter of 2012. For executive lobbying, the two-member team totaled up to $49,999 in the second quarters of both years.
David Ramba and Alison Carvajal have wide breadth in the interests of their 27 clients, and a few distinct areas of expertise. They work extensively with ancillary health care provider groups, including the Florida Chiropractic Association, Florida Optometric Association, Florida Optometry Eye Health Fund, Florida Nurse Practitioner Network, and the Florida State Massage Therapy Association. There’s never a dull Session with these groups in the mix.
Ramba and Carvajal also deal a lot with water, handling legislative and executive relations for the East County Water Control District, the Florida Water Quality Association, and the SunCoast Aquatic Nature Center Association. AT&T was also among Ramba’s top-paying clients this quarter, compensating as much as $19,999 for legislative lobbying.
TWO OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN FLA. POLITICS — SAYFIE AND SCHALE — REPORT HEALTHY EARNINGS
During the second quarter of 2013, Sayfie collected as much as $99,999 for lobbying the Legislature on behalf of six clients, and as much as $99,999 for lobbying the executive branch on behalf of eight clients.
Sayfie’s biggest cut this quarter came from Diplomat Properties to the tune of up to $29,999 each for legislative and executive activities. The City of Hollywood, Google, and Rick Angelone of Vschoolz each paid Sayfie up to $19,999 a piece for legislative and executive representation, respectively, and AutoNation paid to $19,999 for legislative lobbying alone.
Comparatively, Schale worked this quarter with three legislative lobbying clients: AT&T, the Florida Hospital Association, and Walt Disney World Resort, to a tune of up to $49,999 in compensation. These are great clients for any lobbyist — but particularly for a pro in his second quarter of lobbying in Florida.
Not surprisingly, these clients did not see the need to retain Schale for his executive lobbying — at least not while Gov. Rick Scott is still in office. But don’t be surprised if Schale’s executive compensation report looks a little different following January 2015.
VETERAN LOBBYIST GUY SPEARMAN NOT SLOWING DOWN
Spearman Management, Inc., the Cocoa firm with an indelible Tallahassee presence, brought in up to $489,980 from 21 legislative clients in the second quarter of 2013, and as much as $369,986 from 14 executive lobbying clients.
Guy Spearman and Taylor Hatch have worked together since mid-2009 and have plenty to show for their time. This quarter, the duo’s top-paying clients included Altria Client Services and Anheuser-Busch Company, each of whom paid as much as $39,999 for legislative and executive lobbying, respectively.
Brevard Community College Foundation, Capital Health Plan, Eckerd, Gannett Sun Coast Newspaper, and the Florida Institute of Technology were among Spearman clients who paid up to $29,999 a piece for legislative and executive representation.
The Spearman team also works with the Florida Sheriff’s Association, Galaxy Fireworks, PRIDE Enterprises, SeaWorld, and the Astronaut Memorial Fund. That’s a fun mix.
WELCOME TO THE TWITTERS: @JohnsonBlanton
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FROM THE GREAT MINDS BEHIND CONTRIBUTIONLINK COMES DECISIONLINK – AN ELECTION FORECASTING DEVICE
In another first of its kind, Florida’s leading political data consulting company, ContributionLink, announced today the development of DecisionLink, an election outcome forecasting tool.
DecisionLink uses historical political information, advanced modeling techniques and data science to calculate the likelihood of potential outcomes in Florida legislative elections. The model is performing reliably, forecasting outcomes with 94% accuracy.
“When certain unique political circumstances exist in the present, we can forecast the likelihood of future outcomes by understanding the circumstances that led to one outcome or another in the past,” said Brecht Heuchan, ContributionLink’s President.
Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: Sen. Bob McKnight profiles a hero of the Golden Age…Senator Jack Gordon.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: The Ledger’s Lenore Devore, Chris Ingram, Alison Morano, Tampa Bay Times‘ Daniel Ruth
Political Connections on Orlando’s 13 News: U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson
Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman
The Usual Suspects on Tallahassee’s WCTV: Sarah Bascom and Bill Cotterell
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to blogger Ben Kirby and political consultant Rockie Pennington.