Sunburn for 8/21 – 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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A new RAND Corporation study finds that the one-year delay of the employer mandate in President Obama’s health care reform law “will not have a substantial effect on insurance coverage.”

From the report: “300,000 fewer people, or 0.2 percent, will have access to insurance from their employer, and nearly all of these will get insurance from another source… However, a one-year delay in implementation of the mandate will result in a 6-percent reduction (or $11 billion) in federal inflows from employer penalties. A full repeal of the employer mandate would cause revenue to fall by $149 billion over the next ten years, providing substantially less money to pay for other components of the law.”

The Hill: “Those results are significantly less than the findings of a Congressional Budget Office report, which found that as many as 1 million fewer people will have employer-based healthcare.”


Estimates from 19 states operating health insurance exchanges to help the uninsured find coverage show that at least 8.5 million will use the exchanges to buy insurance, a USA TODAY survey shows. That would far outstrip the federal government’s estimate of 7 million new customers for all 50 states … USA TODAY contacted the 50 states, and 19 had estimates for how many of their uninsured residents they expect will buy through the exchanges. … [CBO] did its own research to determine 7 million people would enroll for the 2014 exchanges. California alone said it expected to sign up 5.3 million people.

… To diversify the health of the pool, [HHS] has targeted three states where half of uninsured people ages 18 to 35 live: Texas, Florida and California. The states said they made their estimates based on how many individuals are uninsured and aren’t likely to become insured by an employer, what insurers in their states expect and conversations with HHS about reasonable goals.

… Opponents of the law say 7 million new people will buy insurance, but they may be the wrong people to keep costs down. … It’s … possible that many new insurance customers may simply shift from getting insurance through employers who drop their health insurance coverage when they realize their employees can buy affordable insurance on the exchanges, said Ed Haislmaier, senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. According to the CBO, 2 million fewer people may receive their insurance through their employers in 2014. … The open enrollment for new insurance customers in the exchanges starts Oct. 1 and ends March 31, 2014.


GOP-led statehouses inVirginia, Ohio, and Michigan are still trying to work out deals to expand Medicaid next year as prescribed under the Affordable Care Act. The large states’ adoption of the law’s provision expanding Medicaid would be a huge boon for the White House, which has struggled, with few exceptions, to gain the cooperation of Republican-controlled statehouses since the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that rendered states’ participation optional. The Congressional Budget Office estimated after the ruling that the court’s decision could leave 3 million people uninsured due to states opting out of expansion. 

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It’s difficult to understand why any Republicans on Capitol Hill would like their odds in any kind of budget showdown this fall that could result in a government shutdown. Very simply, they would be going into a game with an incredibly weak hand, and their odds of winning would be quite small.

While Obama’s numbers are hardly impressive, they are still much better than those for congressional Democrats, and they aren’t even in the same time zone as the bleak numbers for Republicans in Congress. This being the case, who goes into this fight with the least credibility? The answer is Republicans in Congress… It’s a time for Republicans to be realistic and for both sides to be adults–and allow a reasonable deal to be reached. 

RNC’S IMPACT TO TAMPA: $404 MILLION via Kevin Wiatroski of the Tampa Tribune 

Nearly a year after the 2012 Republic National Convention flooded downtown Tampa with politicos, police and protesters, the people who brought the convention to town say it resulted in a total economic impact for the community of $404.39 million.

The total comprises three categories of impact, according to the report: Direct impact, $214.15 million; indirect impact, $88.34 million; and induced impact $103.64.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that the state spent $282,000 guarding the out-of-state governors who attended the convention in Tampa. That helped push the state’s security costs 44 percent higher than normal.

The single-largest RNC-related security expenses were for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and their families. Together, they cost the state $33,800 to protect.

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JEB DEFENDS COMMON CORE AGAINST CRITICS for an op-ed in the National Review

… This is not the establishment of a national curriculum. Contrary to what Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck tell you, higher standards won’t harm parental choice, indoctrinate our children with a secret liberal agenda, or infringe on the privacy of student data.

Education, like anything, can be undermined by excessive regulation or highly bureaucratized top-down control. And President Obama’s embrace of the standards as his idea has given the appearance that they are a Washington edict. It has politicized the issue and complicated the understanding of who initiated and led the development of these higher standards. 

Federal overreach is a real concern and one I share. But states’ working together to solve a shared problem is not a violation of federalism. It was state governors and state education chiefs who started and led the Common Core State Standards initiative. And state and local leaders retain authority over the implementation and assessments. …

RUBIO TO MEET WITH ZUCKERBERG via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Marco Rubio, in California this week for a half-dozen fundraisers, will visit with Facebook CEOMark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, a source says.

Zuckerberg has gotten increasingly involved in politics and could be a powerful ally to Rubio. He already helped fund and its offshoot, Americans for a Conservative Direction, which ran ads supporting immigration reform and featuring Rubio.

The Florida Republican had a standing invite to visit Facebook and Google, and the trip to Zuckerberg’s shop was worked out as Rubio sweeps through California to raise money for his Reclaim America PAC.

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CASSANDRA COMPLEX: In Greek mythology, Cassandra (was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. When Cassandra refused Apollo’s attempted seduction, he placed a curse on her so that her predictions and those of all her descendants would not be believed. She is a figure of both epic tradition and of tragedy.

Today, at the Associated Industries of Florida confab, political director Ryan Tyson — one of the smartest political minds in Florida politics — will play the role of Cassandra before his members, prophesying what some may find difficult to believe about the future of state politics.

Stay tuned …  

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Former Chief Financial Officer and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink had expected to decide by Sept. 1 on whether to run for governor again. It may take a little longer. Sink, 65, just returned from a family vacation in the Bahamas, and is now heading off on a “girls trip” with friends to Montana. She sounds genuinely undecided. As she mentions family and personal consideration it’s easy to conclude she’s leaning against a run, which is what much of Florida’s political world suspects.

“My kids are not enthusiastic about it, and my father is definitely not enthusiastic about it,” the ex-banker said, referring to her charming and colorful father, Kester Sink of Mt. Airy, N.C., who is 90 years old and whose health is often on the mind of Sink and her sister.  But then the conversation turns to Gov. Rick Scott, and Sink sounds primed for another campaign. She assumes Charlie Crist will also seek the Democratic nomination but said his announcement has nothing to do with her decision or the timing of it.


Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association announced their partnership in the production of at least one live, statewide televised gubernatorial debate in 2014.  If a heated primary pops up, it may mean additional debates, but for now only one is promised. To Dean Ridings, president and CEO of the Florida Press Association, the airing of a televised debate is even more important considering changes in media consumption and the increased fragmentation in media. And to David Armstrong, chairman of Leadership Florida and president of Broward College, the goal is to provide voters with an informed decision prior to Election Day.

Follow the “Decision 2014: Before You Vote” initiative on Twitter at #FL2014.


Let’s acknowledge an uncomfortable truth: Gov. Rick Scott is one of the most unlikely politicians to ever walk the face of the earth. He mumbles. He fidgets. He’s not a great campaigner. Where most politicians rely on crowds to give them energy, Scott seems worried they’ll give him typhoid. But in the end, that may not matter very much. Like Barack Obama in 2012, Scott is likely to benefit from an economy that seems headed in the right direction. Yes, progress has been slow, but it has largely been steady, and that will always help an incumbent.

Since December 2010, unemployment has fallen from 11.1 percent to 7.1 percent. The state has created almost 370,000 private-sector jobs. Year-over-year job growth has been positive for 36 consecutive months, and month-to-month job growth has been positive in 23 of the last 25 months. On top of that, the state housing market is rebounding, with home prices rising 15 percent.

… So it is that we end up contemplating this spectacular political irony: The phenomenon that helped get Barack Obama re-elected in 2012 may do the same thing for Rick Scott in 2014.

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“Scott announces $40 million commitment to speed up critical water treatment project”:  Scott, along with several members of the Florida Legislature, announced a $40 million commitment to speed up completion of the C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area project, which will cut the project time in half. The project will clean diverted water from Lake Okeechobee and storm water runoff year-round. 

“Scott wants feds to spend $1.6 billion on Glades projects, including Hoover dike” via The Orlando Sentinel: On Tuesday, Scott complained about the Corps’ decision to open the floodgates at the Hoover dam, which has dumped millions of gallons of polluted water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. That led to fish kills “and will undoubtedly impact the regional economy,” he told Corps officials in a letter. Scott urged the Corps to enhance the dike system and spend $1.6 billion on South Florida environmental projects — “which you owe the state,” a refewrence to the nearly 10-year-old agreement to split restoration costs equally between Florida and the feds. He said it should come in the form of bloc grants so the state and local partners can design and build those projects.

“Scott insists intermodal investments will create 1,200 jobs” via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News: With the Panama Canal expansion expected to be complete in late 2014 and a rival project starting to form in Nicaragua, Gov. Scott doubled down on Florida’s commitment to transportation infrastructure this week. Scott launched the first four investments in the Intermodal Logistics Center (ILC) Infrastructure Support Program as he announced the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) would invest almost $5 million into four projects across the state which would, he insist, create more than 1,200 jobs. The four recipients will have to match 50 percent of the funds from the FDOT.

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Democrats had high expectations when Allison Tant took over the Florida party back in January, but her leadership should be called into question after Allie Braswell pulled out of the state CFO’s race only four days after he entered. Tant took over the state party from Rod Smith back in January and the political winds seemed to be at her back since Barack Obama carried Florida in November while Bill Nelson manhandled Connie Mack. Democrats also chipped away at the GOP’s control of the Legislature and defeated two incumbent Republican congressmen. With Rick Scott underwater in the polls, Democrats have high hopes for winning their first gubernatorial election in 20 years.

But Tant’s leadership failed badly in recent days. On Thursday, when he entered the race, Tant sung Braswell’s praises as the Democratic leadership rallied behind the new candidate. But Friday news broke that Braswell had filed for bankruptcy three times. It’s an easy catch in a basic vetting process but somehow Tant and the Florida Democrats dropped the ball on an issue which calls into questions Braswell’s credentials to be state CFO. Over the weekend, while Tant fired away at Scott, Braswell decided to get out of the race, making the announcement on Monday. While Braswell was only in the race for four days, he caused considerable embarrassment for the Florida Democrats. 


“This week, the four day old campaign of Allie Braswell was the slow news item of the week.   And the political response was fairly predictable. I’ve spent seventeen years in politics and most of that on the hack side of the business, where I’ve done my share of candidate recruitment.  I talk about the Braswell situation, the challenges of recruitment for Democrats and the issue of “the Bench” on my blog today. I wrote it to try to add some context to the food fight over the fall out from Braswell’s failed candidacy.  It is a lot different from my typical data nerd work, but hope you enjoy it.”

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Florida is among the US states with the greatest geographical concentration of science and engineering (S&E) employment, according to a report just released by the National Science Foundation.  Predictably, California, Texas and New York together accounted for more than one-fourth of all S&E employment in the US; and Florida, along with Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts and Ohio together accounted for nearly another one-fourth of S&E employment nationwide. That sounds great for Florida, but doesn’t tell the whole story. The NSF report doesn’t break data down to show S&E jobs as a percent of total employment in each state.  Without that, all the data says is that California, Texas, New York and Florida are really big.

I ran the numbers to see how these big states really compare when it comes to per-capita S&E employment.  In short, not so well.  On average, about 4.1% of all US jobs are categorized as S&E.  California comes in at 8th, at 4.9%; Texas at 20th (4%), New York at 27th (3.7%), and Florida at a dismal 42nd, with just 2.9% of jobs defined as S&E. While better than Mississippi (1.7%), Arkansas (1.9%), and Nevada (2.5%), Florida’s ratio of S&E jobs is lower than many competitors: Alabama (2.9%), Tennessee (3%) and Georgia (3.7), to name a few. Full post here.


Parole Commission: Commissioners will meet at 9:00 a.m., 4070 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee. The agenda is available here.

DEP state lands assessment: Florida Department of Environmental Protection holds a public workshop in Tallahassee on its process of assessing state lands for possible sale as surplus.3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. For updated information, go to the state conservation land assessment website.

APD holds Polk County Town Hall: Barbara Palmer, director of the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities, will continue a series of town-hall meetings to discuss the 2013 legislative session and to answer questions.Wednesday, 1 p.m., W.H. Stuart Conference Center, 1710 U.S. 17, Bartow.

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Bill Gunter has received another valuable endorsement today in his bid for the Florida House district 36 seat recently vacated by Mike Fasano. This time the support is coming from prior Pasco School Board member present County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.

Starkey is only the most recent of a long line of Pasco County leaders to lend their support to Gunter. Speaker of the Florida House Will Weatherford, and the three members in line to become Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives — Reps. Steve Crisafulli, Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva — announced their endorsements of Gunter. Gunter was pastor of the Redeemer Community Church, once known as River Ridge Presbyterian Church, a position he held for 10 years. 


When it comes to political pedigree, few people can match the background of Chris Latvala. As the son of respected Republican and long-time state lawmaker Sen. Jack Latvala, as well as a former legislative aide for Rep. Ed Hooper, Latvala has politics in blood — and is ready to head out on his own in 2014. In August, Latvala filed to run as the successor Hooper, his former House District 67 boss and mentor, to represent the Pinellas County native’s hometown areas of Clearwater and Largo.

A turning point in Latvala’s passion for public office came shortly after receiving his degree in History from the University of Central Florida in 2004. He was selected as Hooper’s legislative aide, who was a client and close family friend; it was a job he would hold from 2006 to 2009. Latvala’s enthusiasm for public service comes from more than just his solid network of friends and supporters. He is a member of the 2014 class of Leadership Pinellas, the Citizen Advisory Committee of the Pinellas MPO, the Government Advocacy Committee for Ruth Eckerd Hall, and part of the Community Relations committee for New Life Solutions. His goal in office will be to bring the same excitement and sensibilities to the House as his father and former mentor.


Another huge win for the Blaise Ingoglia campaign came Tuesday in the form of a shining endorsement from State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, bringing Ingoglia’s list of legislator supporters to a total of 14.  Ingoglia is running for House District 35 in Hernando County. Mayfield touted his ability to “articulate the small government message.”


Campaigning for office and teaching middle school science is just too much for one person, Mark Danish said. So he is taking a leave of absence from his job at Benito Middle School. 

The Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this month that the Hillsborough County school district’s professional standards office has an open investigation about Danish. Neither Danish nor the district could provide any information about the case, which is protected from public view as long as it is open. Danish said he believed district officials kept a close watch on him during his 2012 campaign for office, but he never realized they had launched a formal investigation. He said he was always careful not to violate a district policy that forbids school employees from engaging in political activities at the workplace… He has not decided when he will return to the classroom.

Since Harrison filed to run in April, he has reported $17,545 in campaign contributions, slightly more than Danish’s $16,550.

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APPOINTED: Linda Robison, Stanley Weston, Ivan Ford, and Susan Maurer  to the Commission on Ethics.

MORE APPOINTMENTS: Daniel Cane and Mary Beth McDonald to the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees.

MORE APPOINTMENTS: Patricia Hollarn and the reappointment of Brian Seymour to the Florida Elections Commission.



Ashley Dieguez, Jennifer Green, Thomas Hobbs, Melanie Shanks, Liberty Partners: No Casinos, Inc.


“Introducing GovBeat: Politics beyond the Beltway,” by Reid Wilson for The Washington Post: “In an era of poisonous partisan stalemate in Washington, the real action is increasingly taking place outside the Beltway, in state capitals, city halls and county offices across the nation. … Our mission here will be to find and report on those innovative policy solutions, and on the politics and people behind them.” Twitter: @GovBeat. 


Southern Strategy Group entered the Twittersphere on August 12 and has piled on followers to the tune of 206 this week. But more impressive than the mega-lobby firm’s quick start is the candor of its posts.   It’s all up there: who SSG folks are meeting with, where they’ve been, how budget hearings make them want a drink. Mixed in are some political ‘insights’, a keen observation on the ratio of Cafe Risque’-to-Charlie billboards on I-75, and a few well placed RTs of Florida triumphs. That’s a spicy enough first week for Florida’s 19-member lobby firm, but is no doubt just the start of a stellar feed to watch. Follow SSG at @SoStrategyFL.


“Tim’s background in both the political and governmental arenas, as well as his strong relationships with some of Florida’s key policy makers, make him a perfect partner for our small-business owner members in the fight to improve the climate for entrepreneurs in Florida,”  said Bill Herrle, NFIB/Florida’s executive director. “Tim not only brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the political process, but he also has experience advocating on small-business issues and knows what small businesses need most to grow and thrive in our state, making him an excellent addition to NFIB/Florida’s public policy team and an asset to our state’s job creators as he represents the voice of small business.”

Nungesser joins NFIB with nearly 10 years of political and legislative experience in Florida.

Prior to serving on Governor Scott’s transition team in 2010-11, he has served at the Republican Party of Florida, holding several positions including Director of Field Operations and Director of Youth Outreach, and has worked on several political campaigns throughout the country.

Nungesser, an otherwise affable person, got into a bit of hot water when in 2010 he was linked to the creation of a fake Twitter account which was used to attempt to discredit Brevard County Republican Chairman.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the SEIU’s Caitlin Fishman.

THANK YOU to Matthew Hunter, Rhett O’Doski, and Keyna and Jack Cory and Erin Daly for their generous donation of Legos to our drive for Great Explorations Children’s Museum.

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.