Sunburn for 9/12 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS AVOID POLITICS ON 9/11 ANNIVERSARY

Today could be the only day before the November 6 election “without explicit partisan rancor,” the AP reports.

Both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney took down their negative ads in honor of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Neither appeared at overtly political events, although Election Day is never far from their agendas.

Obama scheduled a moment of silence at the White House and a trip to the Pentagon, the target of one of four planes al-Qaida hijacked 11 years ago. Romney addressed the National Guard, whose members deployed as part of the U.S. response to the attacks.

PRESIDENTIAL RACE STILL VERY CLOSE AMONG LIKELY VOTERS

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds little change in the presidential race after the conventions with President Obama edging Mitt Romney among likely voters, 49% to 48%.

“But among a wider sample of all registered voters, Obama holds an apparent edge, topping Romney at 50% to 44%, and has clear advantages on important issues in the campaign when compared with his rival. The survey highlights why Obama continues to try to frame the election as a choice between himself and Romney, while Romney would like it to be a referendum on the president’s record.”

SURVEY USA POLL OF FLORIDA: BARACK OBAMA 48%, MITT ROMNEY 44%

Barack Obama comes out of the Democratic National Convention 4 points atop Mitt Romney, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for WFLA-TV in Tampa. Romney leads among Florida’s white voters, but that lead is erased by Florida’s minorities: Obama leads by 16 points among Cubans, by 36 points among non-Cuban Hispanics, and by 67 points among African Americans.

Romney leads by 5 points among men, but that is trumped by Obama’s 12 point lead among women. Romney leads in Northwest, Northeast and Southwest Florida, but that advantage is overcome by Obama’s strength in Southeast Florida, and Obama’s comparative strong standing in critical Central FL, where Obama today leads by 6. Romney leads among voters age 50+, but Obama leads by even more among voters age 18 to 49. Party affiliation cancels itself out: Romney holds 84% of Republicans, Obama holds 84% of Democrats, Independents split. Obama leads among those earning less than $80,000 a year, Romney leads among those earning more than $80,000 a year.

ROMNEY FLAILING

Charlie Cook: “It is becoming clear that if President Obama is reelected, it will be despite the economy and because of his campaign; if Mitt Romney wins, it will be because of the economy and despite his campaign.”

“The Romney campaign made the extraordinary decision to not try seriously to connect their candidate with voters on a personal level until their convention. As dubious as that decision was, they were rewarded by having a convention shortened by a day due to a hurricane, then compounded the error of waiting until the convention by putting much of what was most needed to be seen in the 8 and 9 p.m. hours, when the only viewers would be C-SPAN fans. Wow! The biographical film and the testimonials of people whose lives had been touched by Romney were powerful, necessary, and largely unseen.”

>>>Ann Romney will campaign today at the Largo Community Center. Doors open at 2 p.m., and the progam begins at 4:35 p.m. The community center is at 400 Alt Keene Rd.

***Newark’s nationally-recognized mayor, Cory Booker is the keynote speaker at the Hillsborough Democratic Party’s Kennedy King Dinner on Saturday, September 22.  Reserve your tickets here.***

FREEDOM PAC RUNNING ADS FOR CONNIE MACK 

An independent group will be running ads the next two weeks for U.S. Rep. Connie Mack in the U.S. Senate race in Florida. Freedom PAC, the group running the ads, received $1 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and another quarter million from Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, according to Politico. Freedom PAC officials say the ads will run in the Tampa and Orlando markets.

NELSON 47%, MACK 36%

In the race to be Florida’s U.S. Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson is in dramatically better shape than he was when SurveyUSA last polled the contest 8 weeks ago. Then, Republican Connie Mack led Nelson by 6 points. Today, Nelson leads Mack by 11, a 17-point left turn. The change is particularly dramatic in Central FL, where, 8 weeks ago, Mack led by 5, now trails by 15, a 20-point swing. Among Independents, Mack had led by 4, now trails by 14, an 18-point swing.

Nelson today has a 19-point advantage among women, and leads in every age group. Just 69% of Republicans and 68% of Conservatives support Mack. Nelson has a Plus 7 Net Favorability today, compared to Mack who has a Minus 12 Net Favorability.

INTERESTING TWEET: @lennycurry: tomorrow I am introducing @senbillnelson to someone you might be interested in meeting. Stay tuned #sayfie

U.S. REP VERN BUCHANAN CLEARED BY JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

The Department of Justice informed Congressman Vern Buchanan that it has closed its investigation of all allegations against him and will not bring any criminal charges.  The DOJ authorized Buchanan to make today’s announcement.

“As we stated from the beginning, any fair-minded inquiry into these allegations would establish that Congressman Buchanan never engaged in wrongdoing,” said attorney Robert Luskin of Patton Boggs.

The chief of the DOJ’s public integrity section, Jack Smith, advised Buchanan’s lawyers today of DOJ’S conclusions and authorized them to make today’s announcement.

AUGUST’S SCOUNDREL OF THE MONTH – DAVID RIVERA

“One look at last year’s list will tell you the Sunshine State is rife with corrupt members of Congress but Rep. Rivera still manages to stand out.  At the time our 2011 report came out, he was under investigation by five separate entities, including the FBI and IRS, for multiple money laundering and tax evasion schemes.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: While Rep. David Rivera faces an FBI probe, opponent Joe Garcia is onstage introducing Bill Clinton today in Miami

ALLEN WEST: OBAMA’S ‘FORWARD’ SLOGAN ADVANCES ‘MARXIST-SOCIALIST’ THEME via Think Progress

Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Allen West said the upcoming presidential election would determine “whether or not we continue to be a Republic, governed by the Constitution, and individual sovereignty, or will we become a liberal-progressive bureaucratic nanny-state.”

West pointed to the Obama tag line, “Forward,” as evidence that the president wanted to take the nation down the same path as the communist-run Soviet Union.

“We are now $16 trillion in debt. We have 47 million Americans on food stamps. We have close to 9.5 million more Americans in three-and-a-half years on the poverty rolls. That’s not turning the corner,” West said. “But yet, they want to bring out an old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme for their campaign called ‘Forward.’  I have to ask you one simple question. Where is the Soviet Union today?”

CRIST, SINK WITH SOLID FAVORABLES AMONG DEMOCRATS by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

A poll of Florida Democrats commissioned by Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert shows former Republican Gov.Charlie Crist enjoyed strong favorable ratings among Florida Dems before he endorsed President Obama and spoke at the Democratic convention.

Taken Aug. 5-7 by Democratic firm SE&A Research, the poll shows 59 percent of Florida Democrats had a somewhat or very favorable opinion of Crist and 52 percent had a somewhat or very favorable view of Alex Sink, the former Florida chief financial officer who lost the 2010 governor’s race to Republican Rick Scott.

In a hypothetical head-to-head Democratic governor’s primary matchup, Sink got 31 percent to 29 percent for Crist. That’s within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

>>>Daniel Ruth: (I)f the Democrats are going to start imposing an ideological purity test on candidates before welcoming them into the fold, they are no better than the dogmatic oafs on the Republican right who drove the likes of Utah’s Robert Bennett and Indiana’s Richard Lugar out of their Senate seats.

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NAN RICH RALLIES SUPPORT AGAINST GOP-BACKED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS by Gray Rohrer of the Florida Current

Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich met with several organizations Sunday to gather support against two constitutional amendments placed on the November ballot by the GOP-led Legislature.

… Rich gathered in Fort Lauderdale with the National Council of Jewish Women, theAmerican Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Anti-Defamation Leagueto fight against the amendments. She acknowledged that being up against “ballot fatigue” among voters whose attention spans might drop off for the amendments at the very end of the ballot is a challenge.

“That’s exactly what the forum was about — not only to educate the NCJW, who attended, but to mobilize and let people know about the amendments,” Rich said. “Generally speaking, many people skip the rest of the ballot (after the presidential, congressional and legislative races) and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

PRISON HEALTH PRIVATIZATION OPPONENTS THREATEN SUIT

Another lawsuit over prison health care looms as the latest salvo in a protracted struggle between the state Department of Corrections and the union representing state workers, reports Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida.

The 14-member Joint Legislative Budget Commission will consider Wednesday a state move to outsource health care and pharmaceuticals to private vendors, but the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is warning that the Republican-dominated panel would be overstepping its bounds to do so.

… Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, who led her chamber’s defeat of a different, stand-alone prison privatization bill, told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that her understanding is that the panel’s role is restricted by statute.

“It’s one of making limited adjustments in the budget, not creating policy change,” said Rich, who has served in the Legislature for a dozen years, including several during which she was on the joint budget panel.

AFSCME attorney Tom Brooks said state law restricts privatization efforts to “counties, municipalities, non-profit corporations or other entities capable of providing needed services.”

TIMES EDITORIAL: PUT A STOP TO PLANNED NUKE PLANT

“There is no rational argument to force Progress Energy customers to keep paying in advance for a nuclear plant that is too expensive and too far down the road. The cost has soared to $24 billion, the plant would not generate power until 2024 and the energy landscape is quickly changing. Yet the PSC has rolled over, the Legislature refuses to repeal a 2006 law that lets Progress bill customers in advance, and Gov. Rick Scott is silent. Who is going to stand up for consumers?”

DEAN CANNON TO HEADLINE FUNDRAISER FOR SCOTT PLAKON TONIGHT

Dean Cannon and Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley are the headliners at the reception for Plakon, who is locked in a tough re-election battle against Democrat Karen Castor Dentel.

Half a dozen Republican lawmakers from Central Florida will also attend, including Sens. Andy Gardiner and David Simmons and Reps. Chris Dorworth, Steve Precourt, Jason Brodeur and Eric Eisnaugle.

THREE COUNTIES FIGHT MEDICAID PAYMENTS

Raising questions about issues such as duplicate billings and incorrect patient addresses, three counties are legally challenging an attempt by the state to recoup tens of millions of dollars in Medicaid payments, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

The challenges by Broward, St. Lucie and St. Johns counties were sent to the state Division of Administrative Hearings and mark the latest twist in a months-long legal and political fight about whether counties have paid their full shares of Medicaid costs during the past decade.

Lawmakers in March required the state Agency for Health Care Administration to gradually recover money that they said counties owed. Separate from the new DOAH cases, most counties also have signed onto a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Legislature’s actions. The case is pending in Leon County circuit court.

***Are you tired of getting your ASSETS TAXED OFF? Amendment 4 can help. Join the movement at TaxYourAssetsOff.com or check us out on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.***

FIRST LOOK: DreamWorks has released the first footage from Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming “Lincoln” biopic. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis stars in the flick as the 16th president. Watch here.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of our favorites Siobhan Harley, special assistant to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

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.