Sunburn for 9/10 — 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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MOST QUESTION OBAMA’S LEADERSHIP ON SYRIA

When President Obama addresses the nation tonight in his bid for airstrikes against Syria, he will confront the most unfriendly political landscape of his presidency, one where opposition knows no boundaries and Democrats, Republicans, whites, blacks, Hispanics, old, young, men and women all are deeply skeptical of the mission.”

A solid majority of voters opposes airstrikes and wants Congress to reject Obama’s request for approval, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. A majority thinks he does not have a clear idea of what he’s doing with Syria. The ranks of Americans who approve of the way he’s handling foreign policy has dropped to the lowest level since he assumed office. And an overwhelming majority insists he stand down should Congress vote no.

TENS OF MILLIONS WILL REMAIN UNINSURED UNDER ACA via The Washington Post

While the Affordable Care Act is projected to extend health care coverage to an additional 25 million Americans in the next decade, another 31 million will remain uninsured. Their ranks will include undocumented persons and low-income residents of 21 states that have rejected Medicaid expansion.

A thousand free clinics across the country “are redoubling efforts to help those bypassed by the law,” including undocumented workers who are ineligible to purchase coverage on the ACA’s exchanges. “Most of our members would love to go out of business and close their doors if there was a program that ended uninsurance,” said Nicole Lamoureux Busby, executive director of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. “But this isn’t universal health care. We’re not planning to see a dramatic decrease in our patients.”

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: JEB BUSH TO PRESENT AWARD TO HILLARY CLINTON via POLITICO

Possible 2016 Republican contender Jeb Bush is presenting Hillary Clinton, the presumptive front runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination, with an award today in Philadelphia — and it has one conservative group criticizing the ceremony. Bush, the chairman of the National Constitution Center, is presenting Clinton with the organization’s 2013 Liberty Medal.

“Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy,” Bush said in a statement released earlier this summer. “These efforts as a citizen, an activist, and a leader have earned Secretary Clinton this year’s Liberty Medal.”

The Independence Hall Tea Party Association sent out an email about the ceremony on Monday, calling it “extremely distressing.” A newly formed group, the Independence Hall Foundation, will hold a press conference on the day Clinton is receiving the medal denouncing her selection and offering an alternative award.

“To give her a liberty medal on the eve of the Benghazi attack is an affront to the victims, it’s an affront to the American people. Frankly, it’s a sheer disgrace,” Adams told POLITICO.  Adams also said it was “a bit unseemly” that Bush will be the one to present the medal to Clinton.

BUSH DEFENDS…

“The National Constitution Center is recognizing Secretary Clinton with the 2013 Liberty Medal for her lifelong career in public service, especially her ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of women and girls around the globe,” Bush said in a statement (h/t to Alex Leary of The Buzz). “While Secretary Clinton and I disagree on many issues, we certainly agree on the importance of civic engagement. The Board looks forward to the Center’s annual celebration of the vision of freedom, responsibility and equality embodied in the U.S. Constitution.”

MARCO RUBIO WRITING NEXT BOOK 

Rubio plans to release a new book following the 2014 midterm elections.

The book, which is not yet titled, is “about the future of the country and the future of the Republican Party,” according to Adrian Zackheim, who heads the Sentinel imprint of Penguin Books

News of Rubio’s book is only likely to fan expectations that he is ramping up for a White House bid in 2016.

RUBIO PARADES IN MAJOR MAINSTREAM NEWS COVERAGE via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

The Tea Party backlash against Sen. Rubio for his stance on immigration has been covered to death. And the backlash might be, in fact, dying as the issue fades amid debates about Syria, Obamacare and the federal budget. At the same time the conservative rage began subsiding, Rubio’s media team lined up at least two mainstream-media news pieces that money couldn’t buy. The first dropped this weekend in PARADE, a newspaper insert read by an estimated 63 million Americans, making it the most-widely read magazine in the country. Last week, Rubio was spotted with CBS national news crew cameras in tow at a Miami Dolphins game. Expect that feature to drop soon as well, albeit it’ll be a little more newsy. To the degree Rubio lost support in conservative media, it’s a good bet that mainstream coverage like this will more than compensate.

From a purely political point of view, Rubio might have gained more by backing immigration reform, taking fire from the far right only to make up ground in the center. That could pay dividends not just in a future general election but in a GOP presidential primary as well. That’s if Rubio announces his candidacy, which would differ in substance and style in parts from fellow possible candidates/senators, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

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ALLEN WEST’S HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION PROBLEMS via Jose Lambiet’s Gossip Extra

The former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel’s not paying his maintenance fees for months at a time. In July, the HOA filed a lawsuit to have the house sold on the courthouse steps but dismissed the foreclosure attempt after he paid up on Aug. 20. West, who bought in the gated community in 2004 for $270,000, isn’t returning calls for comment.

Public records show his property is being assessed $390 in fees per quarter. The HOA undertook foreclosure proceedings in July because West owed $964.50, including fees and penalties.

BILL YOUNG FIGHTS TO FUND THE F-35 PROGRAM

On June 12, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, including a total of $8.257 billion for the purchase and operational sustainment of 29 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. This funding matches the same production ate as last fiscal year, and also funds $562 million for advance procurement to increase the production of the JSF to a total of 42 aircraft in 2015. 

Rep. Bill Young, who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has been working to raise public awareness about the JSF program and Congress’ funding goals for it.   In an August 27 letter to a constituent, Young shared that these funding resolutions are a “clear example of my subcommittee’s continued commitment to making the JSF the centerpiece of the Nation’s tactical aviation for years to come, with over 2,500 aircraft programmed for procurement by the United States alone.”

The JSF is the military’s highest priority conventional warfare program, according to Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. In addition to its obvious utility for national defense and security, the F-35 program will contribute significantly to the domestic economy. In Florida alone, the F-35 supports more than 12,500 jobs and $1 billion in economic activity.

MARIO DIAZ BALART SAYS IMMIGRATION REFORM WILL BE DELAYED via Bloomberg

The fall calendar for Congress is stacked, and once-prominent issues are getting crowded out by debates over military intervention in Syria and budget battles.

The amount of attention Syria is commanding could be killing the chances for other measures to get through Congress and become law. “Everything else is on the back burner,” said Rep. Tom Cole.

In particular, the immigration-reform push is losing steam and passage in 2014—an election year—appears unlikely. “Running out of time is a real issue,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. “Nothing is impossible, but it gets a heck of a lot more difficult if we don’t get it done this year.”  

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Scott campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio speaking today at the Women’s Republican Club of Dade at Crave in Coral Gable. 10:00 a.m.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: SCOTT NEEDS TO FILL LG POSITION via Martin Dyckman

Florida has managed without a lieutenant governor for fully half a year since Gov. Scott demanded Jennifer Carroll’s resignation. Nobody seems to care, apart from the media and those individuals who, against all reason, covet the job. Others may conclude that the office might as well be abolished.

… The law provides that if the lieutenant governor’s office is vacant, the attorney general succeeds a departed governor. The chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner complete the line of succession.

… The problem with it is that the Cabinet officers are elected separately. There’s no guarantee that they will share the governor’s goals and priorities, or even that they will belong to the same political party. The kind of administration Floridians thought they were electing could be rudely replaced, in an instant, without an intervening election.

DEMOCRATS MOCK SCOTT TAX CUT TOUR AS ‘ELECTION YEAR VOTE-BUYING’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Democrats say Scott is using campaign-style gimmickry to prop up his low poll numbers with voters. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll in June showed voters still deeply ambivalent about Scott with 43 percent approving of his performance and 44 percent opposed, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith said if Scott wants to show real leadership, he should call for more money for state universities, who have been forced to cut faculty positions and delay needed building projects.

“We need an investment tour instead of election year vote-buying,” Smith said. “We have neglected so many things for so many years.”

Rep. Katie Edwards a Broward lawmaker whose county is the second stop on the tour, said Scott should be paying more attention to festering problems such as the waiting list for services by people with developmental disabilities.

“Can we justify keeping families on the waiting list before we begin looking at cuts?” Edwards said in an email.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities says the current waiting list is 22,034. The budget that took effect July 1 includes $36 million more for services in an effort to shorten the list.

Scott wisely has not proposed which taxes and fees should be cut. That much specificity would antagonize lawmakers who zealously protect their turf as guardians of the public purse.

NOT MAKING THIS UP: SCOTT RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN RAISING $25K A HEAD AT “PRIVATE GATOR HUNT”

There’s a saying “don’t taunt the alligator until after you’ve crossed the creek.”  Well if the ‘creek’ is the 2014 gubernatorial election and the ‘alligator’ is Florida voters… well, Gov. Scott is doing a piss-poor job of pacifying. 

With the announcement of the $25,000-a-head (or shall we say -a-skin) private alligator hunt scheduled for October 18, Scott’s going to be up to his neck in alligators, just not the kind he’s out looking for.

Back in May, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission began accepting applications for alligator hunting permits for a season that spans August 15 through November 1. The FWC will issue about 5,000 permits under which you may take two gators.

So it isn’t a legal issue that Scott is bumping up against. It’s just a pit-of-the stomach kind of thing. Unlike in Louisiana, where Rep. Jeff Landry and Sen. David Vitter had each thrown similar affairs, Florida doesn’t have a massive alligator overpopulation problem.  Unlike either of them, Scott isn’t doing a public service with his proposed slaughter. And he is facing a lot more than a fierce set of teeth in 2014. 

Killing a gator on its own isn’t offensive. But paying $25K to do so seems downright perverted.

See ya later, alligator. Hope you’ve got thick skin.

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CRIST COURTS MARION CO. DEMOCRATS FOR POSSIBLE RUN FOR GOVERNOR via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star Banner

Charlie Crist on Sunday appeared to be like a man on the campaign trail, making a stop at the Ocala Hilton to speak to the Marion County Democratic Party. When he arrived at the annual Proud to be a Democrat dinner, Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida from 2007-11, went table to table, shaking hands and telling stories. He first spoke with Mike Sizemore, a former Marion County Commission candidate, and then slid to another table where he posed for photographs. As he headed to the third table, an excited woman stepped to him and asked: “Are you running for governor?”

“I’m seriously considering it,” Crist replied.

About one hour, and 25 tables, later, Crist was introduced by Jim Williams, a former governor and lieutenant governor. The 87-year-old Williams’ humor and tales of Florida’s political past eventually led to Crist in the warm banquet room.

Crist stepped to the podium and yelled: “I’m proud to be a Democrat.”  A thunderous roar swept through the large room filled with 250 Democrats. “You always were (a Democrat), but you just didn’t know it yet,” a woman in the crowd shouted. 

LENNY CURRY JABS CRIST FOR FLIP-FLOPPING ON EDUCATION via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, sent a memo to the Progressive Democratic Caucus of Florida on Monday morning on the 2014 gubernatorial election. In the memo, Curry swatted at former Gov. Charlie Crist who left the GOP and is expected to run for the Democratic nomination in 2014. 

“I am a conservative and proud to be one. So there aren’t a lot of issues that we probably agree on. But there are a couple things we can agree on,” Curry wrote. “First, it seems we can agree that the establishment in your party seems to be laying out the red carpet for Charlie Crist while intentionally ignoring, and maybe even sabotaging, your fellow progressive Nan Rich. It is odd to me that the Florida Democratic Party has essentially blacklisted Florida’s leading liberal, especially with the snub at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner earlier this summer….

“That’s why I am offering you this research briefing on Charlie Crist’s education record to help you put together the next special research report,” Curry wrote. “As you’ll see, and probably already know, Charlie Crist has an anti-teacher union, pro-school voucher, pro-Jeb Bush record on education. As he tries to court you and other Democratic primary voters, these are some of his important actions and words you should consider when putting the report together.”

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BEST NEWS YOU’LL READ ALL DAY: “Gov. Scott and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced four additional license-free fishing days.”

FLA. CITIES RANK BELOW AVERAGE IN SCIENCE JOBS via The Associated Press

New figures released by the U.S. Census Monday show that Florida’s four largest metro areas were below the national average of 6.2 percent of the nation’s workforce.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area had one of the lowest rates of science workers in the nation’s largest cities – only 3.8 percent of the workforce.

Tampa had Florida’s highest rate. Just over 6 percent of the jobs in metro Tampa’s labor market are in science or engineering, just below the national average.

The rate for Jacksonville was 5.5 percent. It was 4.9 percent for metro Orlando.

Another Census survey that includes smaller 

POLICY NOTES 

Florida League of Cities: The Florida League of Cities has its federal advocacy trip today and Wednesday to meet with the state’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to discuss federal issues that affect municipalities. The first meeting is 11 a.m. More information here

Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association‘s Rate & Forms Committee: Meets 1 p.m. at the FWCJUA office, 6003 Honore Ave., Suite 204, Sarasota. Agenda here.

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REP. DARRYL ROUSON FATE AS DEMOCRATIC LEADER COULD BE DECIDED SOON via The Miami Herald

Whether Rep. Rouson withstands the controversy swirling around him and remains the incoming Democratic House Leader could depend on the week of Sept. 23.

House Democrats leaders confirmed Monday they are considering holding a caucus meeting of all 44 Democrats that week when lawmakers come up to Tallahassee for committee meetings. At this meeting, which has yet to be scheduled, members would be able to vote Rouson out as incoming minority leader.

“Rouson will have an opportunity to explain his actions,” said Rep. Janet Cruz who is a member of the House minority leadership team. “Members are concerned about the legalities of what went on. This meeting is being set up for Rouson to explain himself.”

ROUSON CLOSES SLUSH FUND

According to Florida’s Division of Elections, the controversial Florida House Democratic Caucus Affiliated Party fundraising committee opened by Rep. Rouson was closed on Monday.

MY TAKE: WHY IT’S GOING TO BE REALLY AWKWARD IF THE DEMS DUMP ROUSON Full blog post here

Who is Rouson’s best political friend? That’s right, Charlie Crist. And who is likely to be the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer in next year’s gubernatorial race? That’s right, Charlie Crist.

Crist and Rouson will be all but inseparable on the 2014 campaign trail.  

Were Crist to win next year, guess who his point person in the Legislature would be? That’s right, Darryl Rouson.

So even if House Democrats succeed in pushing out Rouson now, it’s possible he will be much more powerful by the start of the 2015 Legislative Session than if he was simply serving as House Democratic Leader.

So go ahead, Florida Democrats, strike down Darryl Rouson. But, to paraphrase Obi-Wan’s warning to Darth Vader, if you strike him down, he shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. 

REP. PAT ROONEY’S ASSETS INCREASED 175% LAST YEAR; REP. DENNIS BAXLEY’S DOWN BY 26% via contributor Karen Cyphers

Florida Trend, in a piece published on Monday, highlighted Florida’s millionaire lawmakers, how they earned their bucks, and their change in net worth from 2011. In all, 49 lawmakers are worth greater than $1 million, representing about one out of every three in office.  

Taking the data provided by Florida Trend, I’ve calculated the following:  Among members of the Senate, 40% are millionaires.  In the House, this is true for 28%. While Republicans make up 64% of the House, they represent 70% of House millionaires.  Likewise, in the Senate, Republicans represent 65% of the body but comprise 80% of Senate millionaires.

But here’s the more interesting stuff: changes in net worth. Of the 45 millionaire legislators who reported a change in net worth between 2011 and 2012, 33 of them (73%) saw their wealth go up. Of the 12 millionaire legislators who lost net worth between 2011 and 2012, four are Democrats and eight are Republican.  This means, proportionally, 31% percent of millionaire Democrats lost some dough this year, compared to 25% percent of millionaire Republicans.

Sen. Dennis Baxley saw his net worth fall by 26.4%, the greatest drop of any legislator, followed by Sen. Tom Lee by 11.2%, and Rep. David Richardson by 10.6%.  Legislator gains were far greater for some.  Rep. Patrick Rooney Jr. saw a gain in net worth 174.6% from 2011, bringing him to a total of $7.9 million in 2012.

SEN. ANITERE FLORES A MAJOR FACTOR IN GOP’S FUTURE, WITH OR WITHOUT LG APPOINTMENT via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News

When Jennifer Carroll resigned in the middle of March, many of the chattering class in Tallahassee assumed that Sen. Anitere Flores would be Rick Scott’s replacement for her as lieutenant governor. Six months later, Scott still hasn’t named a lieutenant governor, but the Miami Republican remains a rising star for the Florida GOP…  It’s easy to see why Flores won the Romney campaign’s attention. Flores is one of the most prominent Hispanic Republicans in Florida. She also is a proven winner in populous South Florida, easily sweeping primaries and general elections. Flores has also shown herself a gifted politician. For example, she played a major role in pushing an immigration bill in 2011 while stressing her opposition to bringing an Arizona-style law to Florida. Despite her leading role on the issue, Flores kept Hispanics behind her when she looked to win re-election in 2012.

Even if she is not Scott’s lieutenant governor choice, Flores has options for her political future. Her name keeps surfacing as a possible Republican congressional candidate, though she has shown little desire to run against Democrat incumbent Joe Garcia. Still, this is a gifted public official who is not going away. Expect a congressional run and possible other bids for higher office in the future.

SEN. PREZ WANTS TO START AUDITING LOBBYING REPORTS via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

Gaetz now wants the Legislature to make good on a never-enforced requirement that lobbying firms be subjected to random audits.

Gaetz said Monday he had asked the Senate’s general counsel to work with the House to determine how to kick-start the audits.

“It was to provide a window into the amounts of money spent lobbying by whom and for what. Unless the statute is repealed, I think we have an obligation to follow the law,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz said the main holdup may be whether the Legislature has budget authority to begin the audits, or whether it would have to wait until the next fiscal year to launch them.

“I’m told it was never funded and therefore the audits were never performed. I have asked our legal counsel to find out the status of those audits,” Gaetz said. “Are we supposed to be doing it, and if we don’t have budget authority, is that something we could include in the next budget?”

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INTRIGUE IN HD 6 via Matthew Beaton of the News Herald

The herd is getting thinner — a little at least. After entering the state House District 6 race to some fanfare, Panama City lawyer Waylon Thompson has officially dropped out, leaving behind a crowded field to duke it out to replace state Rep. Jimmy Patronis. Thompson, who was running as a Republican, quietly decided to pull out in August and now is no longer listed as an active candidate on the Florida Division of Elections website.

“I discovered that the time commitment involved to get elected … was more than anticipated and certainly more time than I could contribute to it and still practice law,” Thompson said in an interview recently.

Brian Rust, who was running as a Republican from Panama City Beach, also, as previously reported, will drop out of the race. Rust confirmed the decision Friday.  With Thompson and Rust out, seven candidates remain in the state representative race, including four Republicans, two Democrats and one Green party.

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CHRIS LATVALA TO HOLD MEGA FUNDRAISER TONIGHT

Chris Latvala, candidate for House District 67, will hold a fundraising reception on Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa.  His host committee is complete with Representatives Jamie Grant, Jake Raburn, Dan Raulerson, Ross Spano, and Dana Young; Senators Tom Lee and John Legg; Commissioners Al Higginbothan, Sandy Murman, and Mark Sharpe; and 31 others from around his community.

SEPT. 24 FUNDRAISER AT CLYDE’S FOR HD 30 CANDIDATE BOB CORTES

Bob Cortes, candidate for House District 30, invites you to join him at Clyde’s and Costello’s for a fundraising reception on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.  He will be in the company of Senator Alan Hays, Majority Leader Steve Precourt, and  nine other House members who are working to see Cortes join their ranks.

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ANN HERBERGER PENS FIRST PIECE FOR CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS Full post here

“I know all you kids are enamored with this thing called the Internet but picking up the phone or a face-to-face meeting with a donor will get you closer to making a financial goal than sending an email. It’s much harder to say no when a candidate is making an ask sitting in your office.”

“I know this seems Campaign 101, but the candidates who know how to ask for what they want are more prepared in every other area of the campaign from debate prep to press interviews.”

“And if you’re going to take your candidate’s time making fundraising calls or going to fundraising meetings, why not make sure that when they get to the ask, it’s big, bold and you absolutely get what you want.”

DAN MCCARTHY JOINS FLORIDA TAXWATCH TO LEAD TAXWATCH CENTER FOR SMART JUSTICE

On Monday, Florida TaxWatch welcomed Dan McCarthy as the Executive Director of the TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice.  In this position, McCarthy will lead the efforts of Florida TaxWatch to improve the Florida criminal and juvenile justice systems.  McCarthy, a Miami native, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1977 and spent three decades as a naval officer where he served as a legal advisor to the Secretary of the Navy and was in command of all naval trial offices in the southeast and Caribbean. He graduated from Duke Law in 1983 and also has an LLM from George Washington Law.

Prior to joining Florida TaxWatch, McCarthy worked at Holland & Knight, served as the Director for the City of Jacksonville, Chief Assistant State Attorney for the 4th Circuit, and a Director at Wounded Warrior Project. 

INTRODUCTING FLORIDA’S NATE SILVER via contributor Karen Cyphers

You’re reading it here first: Joe Clements could well be Florida’s Nate Silver, a political data guru with the creativity to make it matter. While you may not know him by name, if you work in Florida campaigns you’ve probably been touched by his data — or certainly will be. Joe runs Decision Media Works, a data visualization group that asks (and receives) interesting questions and maps out answers in a way that few others seek to do.

Like, what tailgate cities in Florida have the highest rates of fender benders? (Tallahassee, by a lot). Do higher ratios of concealed carry permits in Florida mean higher rates of violent crime? (Actually, the opposite). Does the number of draft picks taken in a year predict the number of wins the team has that season? (Not for FSU, and barely for UF or UM). And, how does the rise of voting-age Millennials matter for Florida legislative representation? (That’s a big ouch for Republicans).  To Joe, the challenge is not how to derive value from data, but how to share it with others.

“Most people are awash in data right now. What they don’t know how to do is ask questions of the data, or extract value,” Joe explained in a Saint Petersblog exclusive. “If they’re looking at their data at all, they are looking at it descriptively, asking how many men or women do this or that.  But that doesn’t begin to touch on the dimensions possible.”

A perfect example: the classic campaign question of “how much do I need to raise to win?”  Historically, political consulting has been a gut business, driven by rules of thumb such as “raise what the last guy did.”   Joe’s approach?  To collect about 100 variables of data for each House and Senate district in Florida, going back at least a decade, and using these data, create district-specific models to determine which factors and fundraising ratios will best predict success on Election Day. 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to 30-under-30 rising star Katie Ballard.

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.