Sunburn for 8/6 – 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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GOP PRIMARY VOTERS WANT IMMIGRATION REFORM 

GOP pollster Whit Ayres tells Greg Sargent that “much of the conventional wisdom is wrong: Republican voters do support immigration reform — including a path to citizenship — albeit with the proper conditions attached. Indeed they want to see something done.”

“Our research has shown that roughly one third of Republican primary voters will never support a path to citizenship no matter what the conditions,” said Ayres. “But two thirds will support a path to citizenship as long as the conditions are strict and rigorous.”

RUBIO ON REHABILITATION TOUR WITH CONSERVATIVES via The Hill

Rubio says he became a leading player in crafting an immigration plan because he thought it was important for the country to solve the longstanding problem. But The Hill reports that the issue has hurt Rubio with the conservative base while he is widely believed to be considering a presidential run in 2016. “He’s definitely on the rehabilitation trail,” Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, said.

RNC THREATENS NETWORKS OVER DEBATES via Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times

RNC chair Reince Priebus threatened to ban 2016 presidential debate partnerships with CNN and NBC if the networks produce shows on Hillary Rodham Clinton “ahead of her likely candidacy for president” because they will amount to free “political ads.” Lynn Sweet reports. 

NBC announced a Hillary Clinton miniseries is in the works; CNN is working on a documentary. The networks are rolling out the projects as speculation about whether the former Secretary of State will run in 2016 is soaring.

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DEM. RADIO ADS CHARGE SOUTHERLAND, YOUNG WITH TAKING ‘VACATION’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Congress’ abysmal record getting things done is good politics for the minority.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it is running 15 second radio ads against Republican Reps. C.W. Bill Young and Steve Southerland for leaving town with so much unfinished business.

“You work hard, so you deserve the same from your Congressman. But did you know Congressman Southerland is on a five-week taxpayer-funded vacation instead of working to create jobs? Tell Congressman Southerland to get his priorities straight,” the ad states.

Never mind that Democrats are on the same vacation.

“LOSING IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO HIM” … THE MAKING OF ALLEN WEST via Ben Terris and Shane Goldmacher of National Journal

The car bearing Allen West to the Capitol pulls over so the former House member can show identification to a security guard. The officer recognizes him instantly and pushes West’s ID away. Then he reaches into the passenger-side window and pulls the Army veteran in for a bro-hug. “We gotta get you back here,” the officer says. “Oh, I’ll be back,” West replies, flashing his slightly gap-toothed smile. “Tell the fellas.”

The truth is, Allen West never really left. During his single term in the House, which ended in January, he carved a path as distinctive as his trademark salt-and-pepper flattop—not just for his bombastic rhetoric but also for being the first black Republican elected from Florida since Reconstruction. Some might slink away from Washington after losing their first reelection battle in one of the nation’s best-funded campaigns, and in a district carried by Mitt Romney. Not West, the tea-party outsider who decided he’d hold onto his Capitol Hill basement apartment. “Of course I did,” he says, as if it were even a question.

And why would it be? He’s still at the Capitol about three days a week to conduct interviews for a new Internet-based television show he hosts—one of West’s many ventures. He has a contract to appear frequently on Fox News. He funded a nonprofit (the Allen West Foundation, of course), finished a book manuscript (coming early next year), and raised impressive amounts of campaign cash (leading plenty of people to speculate about his plans for 2016). In the first six months of 2013, his Allen West Guardian Fund, a leadership PAC, pulled in $1.3 million, a figure on par with the upper echelon of his former House colleagues. By losing his spot in Congress, West may have failed upward.

TED YOHO SAYS TAX ON TANNING IS RACIST

Rep. Ted Yoho told constituents at a town hall event that a provision in Obamacare imposing a 10% tax on tanning bed use was a “racist tax” that discriminates “because of the color of my skin.” 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I had an Indian doctor in our office the other day, very dark skin, with two non-dark skin people, and I asked this to him … ‘Have you ever been to a tanning booth?’ and he goes, ‘No, no need.’ So therefore it’s a racist tax and I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say ‘I’ve been disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.’ As crazy as that sounds, that’s what the left does right. By God, if it works for them, it’ll work for us …” — Congressman Ted Yoho

TOM ROONEY WELL-POSITIONED TO MOVE UP THE POLITICAL RANKS via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News

Tom Rooney knows whose footsteps to follow if he ever sets his eyes on the U.S. Senate. In fact, Rooney served in his mail room. Connie Mack made the leap from the U.S. House to the Senate back in 1988 and it’s a path other Republicans have tried to make over the years with little luck. The grandson of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, Tom Rooney, after graduating from college, worked for the elder Mack in the senator’s mail room. Rooney cites it as a formative experience which gave him insight into understanding the issues confronting everyday Floridians. After going to law school, Rooney joined the Army and served in the JAG Corps and taught classes at West Point. He returned to Florida and became an assistant attorney general.

Despite his pedigree and credentials, Rooney’s electoral career appeared stalled before it even started. He had no easy task in the Republican primary to challenge Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney in 2008, but he defeated Gayle Harrell to secure the GOP’s nomination. For most of the campaign, Mahoney appeared headed to a victory over Rooney, but the incumbent was plagued with reports of extramarital affairs in the final weeks of the election, including one with a staffer who received more than $120,000 from him. Rooney won big, taking 60 percent in the general election while Mahoney finished with less than 40 percent of the vote.

With a growing profile, Rooney, who is only 42, could soon be facing opportunities if he wants to follow in the elder Mack’s footsteps. Marco Rubio may not run for a second term in the Senate in 2016 if he ends up on the Republican presidential ticket. Even if Rubio stays in the Senate for a second term, Nelson will be 76 when he faces re-election in 2018 — an age when many of his fellow senators retire from politics.

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POLL: YES ON WEED, CRIST OVER SCOTT, SPLIT ON GAY MARRIAGE via William Mansell of Patch

Gov. Rick Scott looks to be in trouble heading into the 2014 governor’s race should he be challenged by … Charlie Crist, according to results from the latest StPetePolls survey

Of the 3,034 people surveyed in the scientific poll, 40.1 percent said they would support Crist while 29.5 percent would vote for Scott. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie received 8.7 percent support and 21.7 percent of respondents said they were unsure. 

Other results of the survey showed Floridians are split on a constitutional amendment to legalize gay marriage, support medical marijuana and are split on changing the state’s “Stand Your Ground” laws. 

According to the poll, 46.3 percent of respondent said they would support gay marriage, compared to 46.9 percent who said no; 6.8 percent said they were unsure. 

More than 73 percent of respondents said they would support a Florida Constitutional amendment to allow the use of marijuana for debilitating medical conditions if authorized by a doctor. More than 58 percent said they would support legalizing and taxing marijuana similar to alcohol. 

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws came into the national spotlight during the George Zimmerman trial and, much like the nation, Florida is split on law. 

StPetePolls results show 42.9 percent support the current law, while 35.8 percent said the law needs some changes, 12.2 percent said it should be abolished and 9.1 percent are unsure. 

GEORGE SHELDON MIGHT CHALLENGE PAM BONDI via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Sheldon, a longtime Florida political hand and a current U.S. Health & Human Services official, has been talking to political insiders and prospective donors about challenging Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2014.

A top issue for Sheldon: Obamacare, which the Republican Bondi fought in court and still bashes in public speeches.

“What concerns me is the continual flailing against the Affordable Care Act,” said Sheldon, a Democrat. “You had it passed by Congress, signed by the president, an election held over it and a Supreme Court decision. At a certain point, we have to move on… but it’s still in her talking points.”

Sheldon, HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, acknowledged that Obamacare isn’t the most-popular item to campaign on, according to polls that show it’s despised by the far right, disliked by many independents and doesn’t go far enough to ensure universal government-run health care in the eyes of many liberals.

Still, Sheldon said, the law is the best the country has. And he said Florida officials should try to make it work in a state that has at least the third-highest rate of uninsured residents: about 25 percent.

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EPILOGUE: TONY BENNETT’S CHIEF OF STAFF STEPS DOWN via the Associated Press

Dale Chu resigned his post as chief of staff on Friday. Chu was earning $150,000 a year. The resignation takes effect Sept. 3 but Chu will be on annual leave until then.

He had previously worked as a top aide to Bennett when he was schools superintendent in Indiana.

EARLY ESTIMATE FINDS SLIGHT POPULATION BUMP IN FLORIDA IN PAST YEAR 

Florida’s population grew by 184,300 people, or almost 1 percent, in the past year, continuing to reclaim ground since reaching a yearly low of 74,000 in 2008-2009, according to a preliminary report just released by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.  The preliminary statewide population estimate is 19,258,700, an increase of approximately 457,400 since the 2010 Census count of 18,801,300.   Growth in Florida slowed during the last half of the last decade, declining from 6.2 percent between 2000 and 2003, to 1.9 percent between 2007 and 2010 during the economic downturn and housing bust.  Since 2010, the growth rate has gradually increased and reached 2.4 percent for the 2010 to 2013 period. 

POLICY NOTES

Cabinet Meeting: The Florida Cabinet meets 9 a.m. in the Capitol Cabinet Room, Tallahassee. Among the issues it will consider is the request by the University of South Florida for a year’s access to the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna to continue research into graves at the site. Also up for discussion is final adoption of a proposed rule which would prevent state regulators from challenging health insurance rates for two years. The Cabinet agenda can be found here.

Financial Outlook: The Office of Demographic Research holds a Revenue Estimating Conference about financial outlook statements — Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, Principal State School Trust Fund, Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund and General Revenue at 9 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.

Retirement System Review: The State Board of Administration’s Investment Advisory Council meets at 2 p.m. to review proposed changes to the Florida Retirement System Defined Benefit Plan Investment Policy Statement. It will be held at The Hermitage Centre.

Adkins to hold education summit: State Rep. Janet Adkins will hold an education “leadership summit” that will include community leaders and educators from northeast Florida. One meeting of the summit will be held in Nassau County, and another will be held in Duval County. First meeting: 12:15 p.m., Red Bean Technical Career Center. Second meeting: 5:30 p.m., Fletcher High School, Neptune Beach.

KidCare enrollment touted: State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Surgeon General John Armstrong and Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek are expected to take part in an event highlighting increased enrollment in the KidCare health-insurance program for children. The event also will kick off a back-to-school effort to enroll children. 2 p.m., Early Learning Coalition, Tallahassee.

Sobel to hold town hall on insurance: Sen. Eleanor Sobel will hold a town-hall meeting to help residents with concerns about property-insurance policies. Sobel has invited insurance experts, including state Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott. 6 p.m., Hallandale Beach City Hall

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REP. MATT GAETZ TO DEBATE DREAM DEFENDERS DIRECTOR via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

In a flurry of Tweets on Sunday and Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz agreed to a televised debate with Dream Defenders Director Phillip Agnew.

The topic: Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law.

Agnew said he challenged Gaetz to a verbal duel late Sunday after spotting news reports that Gaetz wouldn’t support changing “one damn comma” in the self-defense law. Gaetz has been tapped by House Speaker Will Weatherford to hold a hearing on Stand Your Ground this fall.

Agnew’s Tweet to Gaetz: @mattgaetz tv debate on #standyourground? I’m in the Capitol.

REP. DOUG HOLDER STRADDLES DISTRICT TO STAY IN OFFICE via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Republican efforts to turn up the heat on Democrats in the Florida Legislature who do not live in the districts they represent is causing some collateral damage within GOP ranks, including in Sarasota County. State Sen. Jack Latvala has pushed for the Legislature to crack down on fellow lawmakers — specifically Democrats — who may be fudging their residency to represent districts they do not really live in.

But while Latvala’s target appears to be Sen. Maria Sachs, a Democrat from Fort Lauderdale, his effort draws attention to Republicans such as Rep. Doug Holder, who, like Sachs, straddles districts to legally stay in office. Sachs owns a home in one district, but rents a condo in a neighboring district to fulfill the legal requirement to be in the Legislature. Holder is in a similar situation. But Holder said his situation is not as egregious as others. He’s registered to vote at the Venice address and he said he’s actively shopping for a new home in the district he represents for his remaining 16 months in office. He has put his Osprey home up for sale.

“We are legitimately trying to move,” said Holder, first elected in 2006. “I’m looking at a better arrangement.” Holder’s Osprey home was in the correct district until state lawmakers redrew legislative boundaries for all 160 seats last year and put Holder’s home in the same district as Pilon’s north Sarasota home.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @Mdixon55: Fl House in 1 text? “Weatherfod would be good with the language…we are trying to find a way to get around Corcoran” 

TWEET, TWEET: @DwightDudleyFL: Repeal and refund bill put in bill drafting yesterday. 

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ALBRITTON, BOYD, CALDWELL AND BESHEARS FUNDRAISER TONIGHT

A four-member fundraiser is being held tonight on behalf of Ben Albritton, Jim Boyd, Matt Caldwell and Halsey Beshears. Hosted by Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli, Chairman Richard Corcoran, and Representative Jose Oliva … join them at the Governors Club Library Room from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

BROWARD GOP STALWART RICHARD DENAPOLI ANNOUNCES RUN FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 74 

 A successful leader of the Broward County GOP Party is now turning his sights on Sarasota. Attorney and Certified Financial Planner Richard DeNapoli announced today he is entering the race for the heavily Republican Florida House District 74 seat, which covers most of Sarasota County. The seat is currently held by term-limited Rep. Doug Holder. DeNapoli was appointed as a Commissioner in the Florida Real Estate Commission in 2007, and was reappointed and confirmed by the Florida Senate.  He was also elected chair of the FREC from 2010-2011. He began his stint in the Broward Republican Party as Treasurer in 2010 and elected chair in December 2012.

As Chairman of the Broward Republican Executive Committee, DeNapoli, a Florida native, developed a reputation as a strong GOP fundraiser. He received high marks from conservatives as “textbook case” for organizational success in one of the largest counties in the state, boosting party development, reaching out to constituents and supporting local candidates.

DeNapoli faces fellow Republican Julio Gonzalez for the District 74 seat. In recent financing reports, Gonzales, who is a physician, collected $36,191, making a total campaign fund of $76,200.

CHRIS LATVALA, SON OF ICONIC STATE LAWMAKER, OFFICIALLY FILES TO RUN FOR STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 67

Chris Latvala, son of iconic state lawmaker Jack Latvla, has filed to run as a Republican candidate for Florida House District 67. Chris is a member of the 2014 class of Leadership Pinellas, a member of the Citizen Advisory Committee of the Pinellas MPO, a member of the Government Advocacy Committee for Ruth Eckerd Hall, and a member of the Community Relations committee for New Life Solutions. Currently, he is the Vice President of GCI Printing Services, Inc. in Largo.

“I have been fortunate to see firsthand what it takes to be a true statesman by two people in my life,” remarked Latvala. “The first one is my dad and the second is Rep. Ed Hooper. It is that statesmanship that is so lacking in Tallahassee and yet it is statesmanship that’s required to ensure Florida’s future.” 

MATT HUDSON AND PAT ROONEY TO FUNDRAISE IN PITTSBURGH IN “TOTAL SPORTS WEEKEND”

Many politicians have taken to fundraising at concerts or musicals… but Rep. Matt Hudson and Rep. Pat Rooney have another idea in mind: a “total sports weekend” including the FSU football season opener in Pittsburgh and the Cardinals @ Pirates game… complete with a fundraising event to benefit their reelection campaigns. Join them on Sunday, September 1 at 1:35 p.m. for a “game you don’t want to miss” between two teams in contention to make the Playoffs. For more information, contact Rep. Matt Hudson at 239-248-7107.

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BACK TO HIS FUTURE: MARK PANKOWSKI REJOINS SACHS MEDIA GROUP IN OPENING OF DC OFFICE via contributor Karen Cyphers

Sachs Media Group’s motto is “shift happens” — and in this, the firm practices what they preach.  SMG announced Monday the expansion of their highly acclaimed Florida-based public relations operation to Washington, DC, where veteran news writer and communications pro Mark Pankowski will head the office. The DC expansion follows a year of other changes for the firm, namely the rebranding of Sachs Media Group from Ron Sachs Communications, a move that to president Ron Sachs “reflects a new reality that we are a prolific and prodigious creator of content” for various media contexts.   

This is not the first time that Sachs and Pankowski have worked together.  “Mark is coming back to his future,” said Sachs. “When I opened the company in 1996 I hired Mark away from the Tallahassee Democrat where he was the business editor. ”  Pankowski was with Sachs for three years before moving to DC, where he worked for one of the nation’s leading crisis communications firms. The two stayed friends over the years. But the firm that Pankowski once helped create has grown dramatically in the interim, earning 96 Addy Awards, 39 Image Awards, 7 Emmy Awards, and 7 Bulldog Awards including being named the national “PR Agency of the Year” in 2011. You know what they say about pasts predicting futures…  And with that in mind, things look bright for this reunited team.  Full blog post here.

CONCERTS ARE FUNDRAISING MAGNET via Byron Tau of POLITICO

Forget about downtown steakhouses or a hip 14th Street bistro; the hottest fundraising site in town is the Verizon Center. … [A] new generation of lawmakers, lobbyists and donors are having … more fun. … When Beyoncé hit town [last week] week, one of the best ways to get seats wasn’t through scalpers, it was through members of Congress. And when Justin Bieber [played] Saturday night, … Beliebers who couldn’t get tickets [could ] give $1,000 to Sen. David Vitter’s campaign. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Linda Sánchez both held fundraisers at the Stones’ ’50 & Counting’ tour in June. Sen. John Thune asked donors for $2,000 a piece to watch the Eagles last month. Beyoncé’s ‘The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour’ featured at least five congressional fundraisers: events for Sens. Tim Kaine, Bob Casey and Jeanne Shaheen, and Reps. Gregory Meeks and John Shimkus…. Taylor Swift’s concert in May included events by Rep. Brett Guthrie and defense company Raytheon’s PAC hosting a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Moran.

DEAD DONORS GAVE $586K — via Tal Kopan of Politico

Dead people can apparently be quite generous to political campaigns, giving nearly $600,000 to federal candidates and parties since 2009, a new report shows.

The donations totaling $586,000 came from 32 deceased donors, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

The top recipient of such so-called bequeathed donations was the Democratic National Committee, which received more than $245,000.

According to campaign laws, individuals can make political donations as part of their estate, but they must follow existing limits, such as individual contribution caps.

MICHAEL CANTENS TO LEAD CORCORAN & JOHNSON’S SOUTH FLORIDA OFFICE

Named by Florida Trend as one of the state’s top lobbying firms, Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations announced the firm’s expansion, opening a South Florida office to be led by Michael Cantens. Prior to joining Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations, Cantens served as Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida Department of Health.  

SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP ADDS FATIMA PEREZ TO ITS FLORIDA LOBBYING TEAM Full blog post here

Southern Strategy Group announced M onday that Fatima Perez has joined its Florida lobbying team. Fatima has over 15 years of experience in Florida governmental affairs within the private sector as a lobbyist and within state legislative and municipal levels of government, many in Miami-Dade County. Fatima has worked as BellSouth/AT&T, Inc. corporate external affairs advocate, a Senior Advisor to the Mayor of the City of Miami and as a Senior Legislative Aide in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Arlene DiBenigno.

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.