Sunburn for 9/14 — 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.***

FREE-FALL

In Nate Silver’s model, if the presidential election were held today, Mitt Romney would have an 8.4 percent chance of winning, compared with Barack Obama’s 91.6 percent. Romney’s chances were 32.3 percent a week ago.

AIF POLL OF FLORIDA: ROMNEY 49.5%, OBAMA 47.2%

Following the conclusion of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, a new poll from Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) shows that Florida voters are split down the middle between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. According to poll results, if the Florida general election were held today, the President is in a statistical tie with Romney (47.2 percent to 49.5 percent). Poll respondents who identified themselves as Independents were also evenly split with 46.4 percent voting for the President and 46.4 percent voting for Romney.

Respondents were also asked if they and their families were better off today than they were four years ago. More than half – 54.7 percent – felt they were not, while 40 percent felt they were better off today.

Jobs continue to top the list of issues most important to Floridians. Overall, 68.7 percent of likely voters believe the private sector (corporations, small businesses and entrepreneurs) is better at creating jobs and improving the economy while 20 percent think the government and public sector programs better meet this need. Nearly half of all Democrats surveyed (45.5 percent) and 75 percent of Independents agree the private sector does more to create jobs and positively impact the economy.

NBC NEWS POLL OF FLORIDA – OBAMA 49%, ROMNEY 44%

A newly released Sept. 13 NBC/Marist Florida poll finds Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 49 percent to 44 percent among likely voters (MoE +/- 3.1%) and 50 percent to 42 percent among registered Florida voters. … Asked which candidate will do a better job handling the economy, Romney has a 1 point advantage among likely voters while Obama has a 10 point lead over Romney in handling foreign policy.

>>>Americans believe Obama would win in a fistfight with Romney, 58% to 22%, according to a new Esquire/Yahoo News poll.

PAUL RYAN IN OLDSMAR ON SATURDAY

GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan will be at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W, Oldsmar, Saturday morning for a campaign rally. Doors open at 9 a.m. and the event begins at 11 a.m.

You need to RSVP to get a free ticket to the event, which you can do here.

ROMNEY BLITZING FLORIDA NEXT WEEK by Steve Bouquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Romney’s fund-raising blitz begins next Wednesday evening with a $50,000-per-couple reception at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The next day he’ll hobnob with $2,500-a-person donors at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota.

From there it’s off to Palm Beach, first for a fund-raiser at the North Palm Beach home of entrepreneur Christopher “Chris” Cline, who has interests in coal mining.

Following the reception at Cline’s cottage, Romney will attend a sit-down dinner at the home of builder and Republican financier Al Hoffman in North Palm Beach. Hoffman, who developed a large chunk of Southwest Florida, is a former U.S. ambassador to Portugal.

MICHELLE OBAMA BACK IN FLORIDA NEXT WEEK

First Lady Michelle Obama will hold campaign rallies in Gainesville and Tallahassee Monday.

Gainesville: Public access 12 p.m.; Remarks 3:30 p.m.; Stephen C. O’Connell Center at the University of Florida; 2020 West University Avenue.

Tallahassee: Public access 4 p.m., remarks 6:55 p.m., Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola Street

SEPTEMBER SURPRISE?

Micheal Scherer: “Mitt Romney began the 2012 anniversary of Sept. 11 by calling for a suspension of politics. ‘There is a time and a place for that, but this day is not it,’ he said at a morning National Guard gathering in Reno, Nev. Just hours later, Romney could no longer resist… He saw an opportunity to tie his claim that Barack Obama apologizes for American greatness to the news cycle…”

“In the final weeks of a campaign of this scale, there are very few moments that ­really count. But when they matter, they can reshape the race. A day that began with Romney calling for national unity before politics in the face of terrorism ended with just the opposite. Voters will now get to decide if the shift revealed Romney as a statesman displaying the courage of his convictions or a politician seeking advantage in a time of turmoil.”

WHAT IF THERE IS A WAVE?

The conditions for a wave election like those in 2006, 2008, and 2010 don’t exist yet, but the potential for a late-breaking tide isn’t completely out of the question, reports Hotline’s Reid Wilson.

***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.***

DETAILS SET FOR OCT. 17 TELEVISED DEBATE BETWEEN BILL NELSON AND CONNIE MACK

The only confirmed statewide televised debate in Florida’s U.S. Senate race – is set for Wednesday, October 17, to be broadcast live from the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

“Decision 2012: Before You Vote” is the project created and produced by the partnership of Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association. Bill Nelson and Connie Mack have agreed to participate in what is shaping up to be the only confirmed statewide-televised debate in the race. The broadcast will begin at 7 p.m.

“ ‘Decision 2012: Before You Vote’ provides millions of Floridians with an important opportunity to get to know the candidates and their views on the critical issues that most affect the future of our state and country,” said Susan Towler, chairman of Leadership Florida and Executive Director of Community Affairs for Florida Blue. “Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association are pleased to bring this historic event to the people of Florida.”

The debate sponsors and partners also include host site Nova Southeastern University, Florida Blue, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, AARP and the Claude Pepper Foundation.

The debate broadcast will be moderated by Michael Williams, anchor for WPTV NewsChannel 5, of West Palm Beach. The panel of journalists who will question the candidates includes Anthony Man, political writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Lissette Campos, Director of Community Affairs for ABC Action News/WFTS in Tampa; and Toluse Olorunnipa, state/politics reporter with the Miami Herald.

JEB! TO RAISE CASH FOR MACK

Bush will headline a fund-raiser for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack next month in Miami, the campaign announced Thursday.

The $500-and-up per-person event will be held the evening of Oct. 5 at Miami’s Grove Isle Club on Biscayne Bay.

NEW MACK AD — “DIFFERENCES” — STARTS AIRING

Mack’s campaign started airing its latest paid television ad on statewide broadcast and cable outlets. The ad “underscores the choice Floridians have in the upcoming election for U.S. Senate, which will not only affect them, but the country as a whole as the eyes of the nation focus on the Florida Senate seat as it will determine the majority in the new Senate come January.” Watch here.

CHARLIE CRIST EMBRACES LOIS FRANKEL 

Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist embraced and literally kissed on the cheek Democratic congressional candidate Lois Frankel at a private fundraiser in West Palm Beach on Wednesday.

“I am so proud to be here with Lois Frankel,” Crist said. “She and I served in the legislature together in Tallahassee. And, she’s a great public servant. [She] was a great mayor. And, she will be a great member of Congress. God bless you, Lois.”

The fundraiser for Frankel and Patrick Murphy, who is running against Allen West, was headlined by former President Bill Clinton.

FRANKEL, HASNER AGREE TO TWO DEBATES by Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post

Adam Hasner and Lois Frankel have agreed to two Congressional debates leading up to the November election. … (They) will face off Oct. 17 at 10:30 a.m. at The Palm Beach Post and Oct. 28 at 8:30 a.m. at CBS4 Miami.

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE PEGGY QUINCE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH CAMPAIGNING FOR SEAT

Peggy Quince and two fellow justices, R. Fred Lewis and Barbara Pariente, face merit retention elections this year, as they each have twice before. Typically, these elections are unremarkable affairs, with no money spent, no campaigns and virtually no question about the likely outcome.

Quince isn’t used to asking people for their votes.

When she spoke to the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers, Quince talked about the history of the state’s merit retention system for appellate judges, the importance of an impartial judiciary and the need for people to vote in every election on the ballot, including those questions – such as her own – at the very bottom.

But Quince didn’t ask her audience to vote yes on whether she should be retained.

“I am a little uncomfortable with it at all,” Quince said with a laugh, “and quite frankly I got kind of caught up in talking about voting that I just – I forgot that one sentence.”

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LONGSHOT DEM DROPS OUT OF SD 18 RACE AGAINST WILTON SIMPSON by Lee Logan of the Pasco Times

Longshot Democrat Joshua Smith, 22, of Hudson dropped out of the race for Senate District 18, leaving Democrats until next Thursday to find a replacement candidate. Otherwise, Wilton Simpson, a Republican egg farmer from Trilby, will win the seat unopposed.

Finding a replacement is up to local party officials in Pasco, Hernando and Sumter, the counties covered by the sprawling District 18. Pasco Democratic chairman Lynn Lindeman said party leaders were unable to find a replacement in August when Wes Johnson of Tampa dropped out of the adjacent Senate District 17 race. He quipped: “You got anybody you want to run?” Lindeman said it would be tough to find a credible candidate on such a tight deadline: “It would not be our intention to identify a substitute candidate,” he said.

JUDGE TO COUNT CONTESTED VOTES IN BERNARD VS. CLEMENS STATE SENATE RACE

In a move reminiscent of the 2000 Florida recount, a Leon County circuit judge Thursday ordered Palm Beach County election officials to send up contested ballots to be recounted in a razor-thin race, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

This time, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis will review about 34 absentee ballots from the Democratic primary between state Reps. Jeff Clemens and Mack Bernard in Senate District 27. Clemens was declared the winner of the Palm Beach County district by 17 votes.

Bernard has challenged the outcome, saying that at least 34 absentee ballots and eight provisional ballots were incorrectly discarded. If counted, they would tip the balance in his favor.

Meeting with attorneys and state election officials Thursday afternoon, Lewis ordered the ballots to be transported to his chambers, where on Monday he will review the signatures on the ballots to see whether they match voter registration records.

BATTLE FOR HD 68 HEATS UP via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times

What happens when a Republican chiropractor and a Democratic lawyer battle each other for a seat in the Florida Legislature?

The campaign for House District 68 turns into an insult-lobbing battle seven weeks before Election Day. And it shows no signs of letting up now that Republican Frank Farkas has finally fired back at Democrat Dwight Dudley.
“I was hoping for a higher, more thoughtful level of debate from Mr. Dudley in this race, but I’m afraid his career of representing criminals, crooks and cheats may have warped his thought process,” Farkas said in a release.
Dudley has accused Farkas of helping Progress Energy in 2006 reap billions of dollars from ratepayers —voters.
“If this is the most thoughtfulness and thoroughness we can expect from Dudley, then St. Pete voters should be scared – very, very scared – that he might actually be elected,” Farkas said.

***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.***

EMAIL I DID NOT OPEN: From Erica Payne – “Universal Music Shuts Down Romney Girl”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Florida League of Cities’ Jenna Titcomb on Saturday.

POLITICAL PET TOYS: Now your dog can chew on the political party symbol of your choice: Elephant or Donkey.

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.