Sunburn for 8/23: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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

MOST VOTERS EXPECT BARACK OBAMA TO WIN

Most Americans expect President Barack Obama to win a second term — including more than a quarter of Republican Mitt Romney’s supporters, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

LATEST POLL OF FLORIDA: ROMNEY UP 3 OVER OBAMA

A new Gravis Marketing survey shows Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama, 48%-45%, in Florida.

As Christian Heinze notes, if you add Gary Johnson to the equation, he takes 1.7% from Romney and .5% from Obama. That means if the Romney-Obama gap is tight enough, Johnson could swing the state, which would be a bitter irony for the GOP, considering it shunned and blacked him out of primary debates when he was running for the Republican nomination.

LACK OF INERTIA IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE by Christian Heinze

Here are two remarkable statistics: When the general election began in April, Obama averaged a 2.2% lead. His lead in the RCP average of polls today? 2.7%. That means that hundreds of millions of dollars later, the needle has moved .5%, which is a statistically meaningless number. … When the general election began in April, on average, polling found that 92% of voters had made up their mind. That number today? 92%.

RUBIO MISSED FOUR CALLS FROM ROMNEY BEFORE HE LEARNED HE WASN’T VP

“Gov. Romney was gracious enough to call me on Friday evening that week,” Marco Rubio told a crowd of 825 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. “I was out on boat with my kids. I came back and I had four missed calls from Mitt Romney. I go ‘Uh-oh.’ So I talked to him and he said we’re going to be announcing our VP tomorrow and you’re going to be excited about the pick I’ve made.

“And I said, ‘Well, that’s really good news because I just bought a four-day cruise,’ ” Rubio said.

PLANS IN PLACE IN CASE OF HURRICANE DURING RNC

Emergency management officials are keeping watch on Tropical Storm Isaac as it swirls toward Florida during the Republican National Convention.

If the tropical disturbance churns out thunderstorms or becomes a hurricane, officials say they will follow standard emergency procedures for shelter and evacuation despite the additional 50,000 visitors and 15,000 protesters expected to be in town for the convention.

“Basically, we have to follow our normal protocols,” said Hillsborough County Emergency Management spokeswoman Holly Wade.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PARAGRAPH OF THE DAY

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told CNN’s Early Start Wednesday that “politics will take second place” to public safety if a storm hits the bay area. Asked whether authorities would be prepared to call off the convention’s proceedings if a storm threatened on a particular night, Buckhorn said, “Absolutely we’re prepared to call it off.”

TWEET OF THE DAY: @SteveBest: Florida Hurricane Coverage is usually hysterical on Local TV. It will go to Defcon 9 with Nervous Nelly DC Journos here.

HURRICANES AND REPUBLICANS DON’T MIX by Willia Gibson of the Orlando Sentinel

Four years ago, Hurricane Gustav plowed into the Gulf Coast amid the Republican Convention in Saint Paul. With windblown palms swaying in the background, then-Governor Charlie Crist delivered a video-taped message to the convention saying that Florida was prepared to assist storm victims.

Four years before that, in 2004, Hurricane Frances churned toward Florida near the end of the Republican convention in New York. Some Florida delegates had fear in their eyes as they headed home, not sure what they would find.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Hurricane Isaac may get more headlines than the Republican Convention,” said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida, only half-joking.

TV NETWORKS MAY NOT AIR ANN ROMNEY’S SPEECH

Ann Romney “may not make prime time during next week’s Republican National Convention,” Dylan Byers reports. “The three major television networks — NBC, ABC and CBS — are not airing prime-time coverage of the RNC on Monday, the opening night of the convention and the night that Ann Romney has been scheduled to deliver the keynote address. So in order to get Mitt’s wife onto television, the campaign may have to scramble and reschedule her speech.”

PAM BONDI, JEB BUSH PART OF WEDNESDAY NIGHT LINEUP by John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Gov. Jeb Bush have been named part of the Republican National Convention lineup for Wednesday’s third night of the event.

The economy — and soon-to-be Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s ability to fix it — will be a central theme of the night. The GOP mantra for Wednesday will be “We Can Change It,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Priebus said the Wednesday night program “will show that the Romney approach is both optimistic and achievable.”

Bondi and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens are scheduled to share an early evening stage, shortly after 2008 presidential nominee John McCain addresses the gathering.  Bush will be on a little later, amid vice-presidential runners-up Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty, who will speak before Romney running mate Paul Ryan takes the stage.

DAILY SHOW DUBS ITS COVERAGE OF RNC: “THE ROAD TO JEB BUSH 2016” by Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times

In typical insurgent fashion, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show has dubbed its week of shows from the Straz Center in Tampa during the Republican National Convention with the snappy title “RNC 2012: The Road to Jeb Bush 2016.”

Fans can only imagine the bombastic graphics package which will accompany their coverage next week.

The program will record shows in Tampa from Tuesday to Friday — which is a change from the show’s usual Monday through Friday schedule — presumably so they can satirize the convention’s closing day Thursday without having to work an extra day of the week.

>>>THOMAS FRIEDMAN – JEB BUSH CONSERVATIVES SHOULD RETAKE GOP FROM ‘RADICALS’: “Imagine if G.O.P. education policy was set by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, without having to cater to radicals, who call for eliminating the Department of Education and view common core standards as some kind of communist conspiracy. Mr. Bush has argued that a conservative approach to education for 21st-century jobs would embrace more effective teacher evaluation and common core standards, but add a bigger element of choice in the form of charter schools and vouchers, the removal of union rules that limit new technology — and combine it all with greater autonomy and accountability for individual principals. When parents can choose and school leaders can innovate, good things happen.”

TODD AKIN NOT COMING TO RNC

Todd Akin said on Good Morning America that he will not come to the Republican National Convention here next week but again insisted that he will stay in the Senate race. “The people of Missouri chose me to be their candidate,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right for party bosses to override [them].”

>>>Marco Rubio on Wednesday became the latest Republican to suggest that Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin should have dropped out of the race over comments he made about rape. “I think his comments were distasteful and unfortunate and I think the decision he’s made (to stay in the Senate race) probably endangers the ability of Republicans to win that seat and Republicans to take the majority in the Senate,” Rubio said while speaking to reporters after a speech in Palm Beach County, according to a report in the Palm Beach Post.

GROUPS GO WILD FOR GOP CONVENTION by POLITICO

The real fun during next week’s Republican National Convention will be anywhere near the convention hall itself. From beach parties to music performances, booze bashes to golf scrambles, a gaggle of state delegations, special interest groups and media organizations are ensuring convention-goers won’t lack for entertainment.

JAMES O’ KEEFE TO SPEAK AT PRIVATE JMI EVENT DURING RNC

Undercover “citizen journalist” James O’Keefe will be the honored guest at a lunch sponsored by the James Madison Institute during the Republican National Convention next week. O’Keefe, known for going undercover to do stories on the activities of liberal groups, will speak on the “role of the citizen journalist,” and will take questions.  The event on Tuesday is private. O’Keefe pleaded guilty to entering federal property under false pretenses during one of his investigations, targeting Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

THE RNC IS COMING TO TOWN!

>>>Despite the new palm trees, banners, free water stations, portable toilets and thousands of volunteers, Steve Otto says a lot of people are going to be saying some not-so-nice things about Tampa in the coming days.

>>>RNC Rules Committee toughens penalties on calendar-jumping states for 2016.

>>>With only five days to go before the RNC convention opens in Tampa, the state Republican Party finally has named the appointed delegates and alternates to the convention. List here.

***On the eve of the Republican National Convention, several of Florida’s leading political and public affairs consultants will be hosting an invitation-only party in St. Peterburg. The “Full Lid Party” will be the go-to after party following the official welcome reception at Tropicana Field. Click here for more information and tickets.***

RICK SCOTT TO CONSIDER LISA EDGAR, 3 OTHER FOR PSC SPOT via the News Service of Florida.

A nominating council has sent four names to Gov. Rick Scott to consider for an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission, according to a list posted Wednesday on the council’s website. The nominees include current PSC member Lisa Edgar, whose expiring term has created the opening on the utility-regulating panel. Another nominee for the $130,000-a-year job is Ken Littlefield, who served in the state House from 1999 to 2006 and also had a brief appointment to the PSC in January 2007. The other nominees are Donald Polmann, director of science and engineering for Tampa Bay Water, and Luz Weinberg, an Aventura city commissioner and director of communications for Bouygues Civil Works Florida. Edgar’s current term ends Jan. 1.

DEMOCRATS BLAST SCOTT FOR PRESSURING SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS

Democrats accused Gov. Rick Scott of bullying the supervisor of elections in Monroe County on Wednesday, the latest salvo in the high-stakes battle over early voting in the November elections, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

State officials expect in November to use the new law — approved by the Legislature last year – in the other 62 counties, as they did in this month’s primary. The change reduced the number of early voting days in those 62 counties from a maximum of 14 to eight. They also want the supervisors in the other five counties to submit a plan calling for 12 hours of early voting a day over those eight days, something the judges suggested could make the law acceptable there.

But Harry Sawyer, a Republican elections supervisor in Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, has refused, prompting Scott to suggest on Tuesday that he might suspend Sawyer. Former Democratic state Sen. Dan Gelber blasted that statement in a conference call Wednesday, saying Sawyer was simply following the D.C. court’s decision.

“At this point, the only person doing precisely what he’s supposed to do is the Monroe County supervisor of elections,” Gelber said.

VERN BUCHANAN SLIPS IN LIST OF WEALTHIEST LAWMAKERS

Rep. Vern Buchanan slipped out of the top 10 list of wealthiest lawmakers after reporting a drop of more than $5 million in his net worth. The congressman’s $36.5 fortune ranks him 11th, just behind freshman Rep. Jim Renacci, who was worth at least $36.7 million in 2011.

BUCHANAN DEPOSITION COULD COME MONTH BEFORE THE ELECTION by Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A month before Election Day, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan could be put under oath for a deposition as part of a 4-year-old lawsuit involving a former business partner.

Buchanan’s former business partner Sam Kazran is pushing to depose Buchanan on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4, according to court records with the 12th Judicial Circuit Court.

The new dates are part of a rescheduled deposition that was originally set for July 30. That deposition did not happen because Buchanan’s attorney became ill the day before.

AKIN’S COMMENTS REVERERATE IN FLORIDA RACES

Keith Fitzgerald called on Buchanan ‘not only to condemn his colleague’s remarks, but to withdraw his support of appalling legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape under federal law’…Pinellas County Democrat Jessica Ehrlich similarly used the same legislation to criticize U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, in their 13th Congressional District race. In a fundraising letter, Ehrlich said Young’s support of the same 2011 legislation Fitzgerald cited makes Young from the ‘same school of thought’ as Akin.

AKIN FACTOR: DEMS BLAST HASNER’S SUPPORT FOR RYAN BUDGET AS ANTI-WOMAN; HASNER RIPS ‘SCARE TACTICS’ 

Democrats have long blasted Paul Ryan‘s budget plan as a threat to seniors, but today the Florida Democratic Party reframed it as a threat to women. The Democrats accused Republican congressional candidate Adam Hasner of supporting a plan that ‘would turn Medicare into a voucher program, raising the cost of healthcare for women in south Florida by thousands of dollars every year’…The Florida Dems also highlighted former state House majority leader Hasner’s support in Tallahassee for legislation requiring a woman seeking an abortion to first view an ultrasound and other votes that included cutting money for women’s health programs.

VENDORS SAY RIVERA FUNDED DEMS’ FAILED PRIMARY BID by Marc Caputo and Manny Garcia of the Miami Herald

Fueled with $43,000 in secret money, Republican Rep. David Rivera helped run a shadow campaign that might have broken federal laws in last week’s Democratic primary against his political nemesis Joe Garcia, according to campaign sources and finance records. As part of the effort, a political unknown named Justin Lamar Sternad campaigned against Garcia by running a sophisticated mail campaign that Rivera helped orchestrate and fund, campaign vendors said. Among the revelations: The mailers were often paid in envelopes stuffed with crisp hundred-dollar bills. … When contacted by the Herald for comment, the Rivera campaign responded via email Tuesday night: ‘Congressman Rivera has never met or spoken to Mr. Sternad and knows absolutely nothing about him or his campaign.’

IN HD 68, DWIGHT DUDLEY ZAPS FRANK FARKAS OVER NUKE COSTS

State House candidate Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, is hammering Republican opponent Frank Farkas about a 2006 vote in which lawmakers allowed Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy Florida to charge customers for the costs of nuclear-power plants that will not be built for at least another decade — if ever, reports the News Service of Florida.

Farkas, a St. Petersburg Republican was in the House in 2006 and, after getting term-limited, is seeking to return to Tallahassee this year in House District 68. Farkas was one of 119 House members who voted for a wide-ranging energy bill that allowed utilities to collect preconstruction costs for nuclear projects.

Since then, FPL and Progress customers have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for such costs as engineering, planning and permitting. FPL has proposed building two reactors in Miami-Dade County, while Progress would build two in Levy County.

In a news release this week, Dudley vowed to try to repeal the nuclear-cost provision if he is elected — an idea that likely would draw heavy opposition from the utilities.

“We’ve had enough of seeing our power bills, phone bills and insurance bills skyrocket,” Dudley said in the release. “Take a look at your power bill. Hidden in there is over a billion dollars we’re paying for power plants experts say may never be built.”

A recent Tampa Bay Times editorial said Farkas has indicated regret over his vote on the bill.

***I’ve called Kevin Cate one of the smartest guys in any room, but that was last year. His firm continues to change the way public relations works in Florida. Believe me, you want www.CateComm.com on your side.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Peret Pass.

MEDIA NOTE: Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Mike Sallah is leaving the Miami Herald to join the Washington Post’s investigative unit. “He is the first of several hires we expect to make under a grant from the Ford Foundation to support government accountability reporting,” says a Post memo. “Over the past decade, Mike has distinguished himself with a rare double achievement: winning Pulitzers for investigative reporting as both a reporter and an editor.”

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT: A new app aims to add some transparencyto the Super PAC ad barrage by providing background on the makers of particular ads, reports the New York Times. The app “listens” to a commercial, matching the sounds with its library of ads, and then tells who produced the ad, how much the Super PAC has raised so far and how much money it’s spent. It also lets users vote on the fairness of the ad. When it works (the ad library does not contain every ad yet), the app provides a bit more context than “this ad brought to you by [insert assorted patriotic nouns here].” But whether or not interested voters will be glued to their screen with app in hand remains to be seen.

WHAT THE BOOKS WE BUY SAYS ABOUT OUR POLITICS, IN ONE MAP: If political book-buying habits were a good gauge of voters’ electoral preferences, Mitt Romney would be a very happy man. A new Amazon.com feature called the Election Heat Map 2012 divides best-selling political books into conservative (red) and liberal (blue) categories, then tracks sales in every state.

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.