Sunburn for 9/18 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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

MITT ROMNEY ABRUPTLY SHIFTS STRATEGY

Mitt Romney’s campaign has concluded that the 2012 election will not be decided by elusive, much-targeted undecided voters — but by the motivated partisans of the Republican base, BuzzFeed reports.

“This shifting campaign calculus has produced a split in Romney’s message. His talk show interviews and big ad buys continue to offer a straightforward economic focus aimed at traditional undecided voters. But out stumping day to day is a candidate who wants to talk about patriotism and God, and who is increasingly looking to connect with the right’s intense, personal dislike for President Barack Obama.”

Meanwhile, Politico reports Romney is rolling out a new and broader strategy to make the election a referendum on “status quo versus change.”

“The shift, which is to include much more emphasis on Romney’s policy prescriptions, means he is scrapping the most basic precept of his campaign. From the time he began contemplating running again after his loss in the 2008 primaries, Romney’s theory of the case has been a relentless and nearly exclusive focus on the listless economy.”

HIDDEN CAMERA CAPTURES ROMNEY DISPARAGING OBAMA VOTERS

hidden camera video of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser shows him talking disparagingly of people who will vote for President Obama.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” said Romney. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JohnJHarwood: GOP Rep on Mitt tape: “fires up bases; won’t  mean much to swing voters. most who pay no income taxes think they do, resent those who don’t”

NO STAFF SHAKE-UP LIKELY FOR ROMNEY

New York Times: “Talk of infighting within the Romney headquarters in Boston has been percolating for months, but the report in Politico drew new attention to it and raised questions about Mr. Romney’s management of the campaign, which includes advisers who have been with him since his first run for Massachusetts governor, since he entered presidential politics, and others like Stuart Stevens and his partner Russ Schriefer, who have become still more prominent this campaign season. Republicans close to the operation say it is not Mr. Romney’s style to dismiss any of his advisers.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Romney is in a very bad place. He’s got the Republican intelligentsia second-guessing him, publicly and privately. The party base has never trusted him and thinks that everything bad it ever thought about him is being borne out now. And he’s got the media believing that he can’t win. He’s right on the edge of a self-­fulfilling downward spiral.” — A “senior Republican strategist” to John Heilemann.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE CONFUSED

The New York Times says Romney will sharpen his message. The Washington Post indicates he will redouble his emphasis on the economy, while Buzzfeed reports the campaign has decided the economy isn’t enough. Politico, whose dishy account of turbulence in Boston helped spur the switch, says the new strategy is to make the election “a referendum on ‘status quo versus change'” –which, by definition, seems more like a choice than a referendum. Got it?

The likeliest outcome of all these calls for change may be that little will change.

MY TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: Bigger overreaction today: @MittRomney lost race w/ “47%” comments or #Manning is through after 3 picks in 1 qtr.?

JOHN MCCAIN IN TAMPA TODAY TO CAMPAIGN FOR ROMNEY by Katie Sanders of the Tampa Bay Times

U.S. Sen. John McCain will talk up Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the University of Tampa on Tuesday as part of a Florida bus tour.

The event at UT, 401 W Kennedy Blvd., is planned for 10:15 a.m.

Expect to hear him talk about veterans issues and Obama’s foreign policy, which he criticized Sunday on Face the Nation. He said the U.S. has weakened under Obama, and he defended Romney’s controverisal remarks about a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo amid protests regarding an anti-Islam video.

MICHELLE OBAMA FIRES UP CROWDS IN GAINESVILLE AND TALLAHASSEE by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Florida became the battleground for the youth vote Monday, as Michelle Obama and the son of former Gov. Jeb Bush arrived within hours of each other on college campuses in Tallahassee and Gainesville hoping to drum up support for their candidates among pivotal young voters.

The First Lady spoke to a standing-room only crowd of 10,750 cheering supporters at the Stephen O’Connell Center at the University of Florida and then darted to Tallahassee to another packed house of 8,850 at the Leon County Civic Center.

“All our hard work, all the progress we’ve made is all on the line; it’s all at stake this November,” Obama told a rowdy crowd of supporters in Gainesville. “This election is even closer than the last one, and it could all come down to what happens in just a few battleground states like Florida.’’

… The greeting was more subdued for George P. Bush, son of Florida’s former governor and nephew of the former president, as he launched his six-college bus tour on behalf of the Maverick PAC, a political action committee designed to increase activism among young Republican professionals

OBAMA MAINTAINS MASSIVE LEAD AMONG LATINOS

The latest impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll finds President Obama solidifying his lead over Mitt Romney among Latino voters by a whopping 68% to 26%.

NEARLY HALF OF PREZ. POLITICAL ADS PAID FOR BY OUTSIDE GROUPS

Outside groups have accounted for almost half of all ad spending during this presidential general election, First Read reports.

Groups supporting the presidential candidates but not affiliated with the campaign, including Super PACs, have spent $267 million of the $605.7 million spent on television and radio ads… That means about 44 cents of every dollar spent on ads this election has come from outside groups.

There’s a big difference between who they’re supporting. Three-quarters of all money spent by outside groups — $212 million — has gone to support Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

***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.***

COATTAIL FACTOR LOOMS IN MACK-NELSON SENATE RACE by John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

With presidents past, present and possibly future stumping through Florida in recent weeks, coattails are certain to play a big role in this year’s Senate contest between Connie Mack and two-term Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

“It’s a different era, and a different race for young Connie than for his dad,” said Republican strategist Rick Wilson, who was an aide to the elder Mack in his 1988 Senate race against Democrat Buddy MacKay.

“But he just may not get the help his father did. Neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney is going to abandon Florida. Instead, Connie’s luck needs to change a bit,” Wilson said.

VAL DEMINGS LAUNCHES NOT ONE, BUT TWO ATTACK ADS AGAINST INCUMBENT DAN WEBSTER

Former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, the Democrat running to try to unseat U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, is up with two new TV ads criticizing Webster, trying to paint him as in league with insiders.  In one, her move up through the ranks of the police department is compared with Webster’s time as a politician, and she attacks him for a lounge that was built at the state Capitol for lobbyists when he was House speaker. The other ad criticizes Webster for a list of “troublemakers” that were being circulated during town hall meetings over the health care. And both ads have grainy video of Webster on a boat, while a narrator brings up old news reports about Webster attending some event in the Keys. Watch the first ad here and the second ad here.

U.S. REP. BILL YOUNG CALLS FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN

“I just think we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.”

That’s the money quote from Craig Pittman’s story about the Congressman Bill Young declaring, “I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can.”

MUST-READ ANALYSIS OF DONATIONS TO FLA. SUPREME COURT JUSTICES

Each of the three candidates has raised approximately $325,000. Only 20 legislative candidates, 15 Senate and 5 House candidates have fared better in total funds raised through the same F3 report time period. House and Senate candidates however run in single member districts with populations of approximately 156,000 and 470,000 respectively. Supreme Court Justice candidates run statewide and trying to communicate with Florida’s 11.5 million voters is a much more expensive proposition.

Of the 1,452 total donors to the three campaigns, nearly 70% or 999 donors gave to all three. According to campaign finance records, most of the matching contributions were made on the same days and many were bundled.

Lots of other interesting data here via Brecht Heuchan of Contribution Link.

SPOTTED: Republican State Rep. Dorothy Hukill, candidate for the hotly contested Senate District 8, held her ‘Campaign Kick-Off’ Sunday in Volusia County’s city of Port Orange. On hand for political remarks to the 250-plus crowd included State Senators John Thrasher, Evelyn Lynn and Joe Negron.

AFTER RECOUNT/REVIEW BY CIRCUIT JUDGE, JEFF CLEMENS REMAINS WINNER IN SD 27

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis took a look at 42 questionable ballots to determine if they were properly rejected last month in the Senate District 27 Democratic primary pitting Jeff Clemens against Mack Bernard, who has contested his 17-vote loss to Clemens. After a review this morning, Lewis rejected Bernard’s bid.

”To be honest,” Judge Lewis is reported to have said, “there weren’t any that were really that close.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JasonRothFL: Former Rep Planas arguing for inclusion of provisional ballots. I bet he voted for many laws restricting them as a legislator.

CASTOR DENTEL SAYS SHE’S UP THREE OVER PLAKON IN HD 30

Karen Castor Dentel, the Democrat who is challenging Republican Rep. Scott Plakon in House District 30, said today that her most recent polling showed her up by 3 percentage points, reports Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel.

Plakon declined to say what his own polling shows. “But it’s a close race,” he said.

TWEET, TWEET: @willweatherford: I beg to differ…

MORE TWEETAGE: @repdanayoung: please tell her: Keep believing that 🙂  What would her voters say if they knew she has been calling lobbyists for $$?

WEATHERFORD, DORWORTH AND CORCORAN HOSTING FUNDRAISER FOR REPUBLICAN HOUSE NOMINEES TODAY

Speaker Designate Will Weatherford, along with Representatives Chris Dorworth and Richard Corcoran are hosting a fundraising reception benefiting Republican State House nominees Neil Combee – District 39, Manny Diaz Jr., – District 103, Dane Eagle – District 77, Heather Fitzenhagen – District 78, David Hood – District 25, MaryLynn Magar – District 82, Cary Pigman – District 55, Jake Raburn – District 57, and Dan Raulerson – District 58.

The event begins at is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Governors Club in Tallahassee.

Maximum Contribution is $500 per individual/entity. Invite here.

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ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES SETS DATES FOR ITS 2013 HEALTH CARE SUMMIT

Associated Industries announced the dates for its 2013 “Health Care Affordability Summit.”  The summit, which will take place in Tampa, January 9-10, 2013, will lay the policy groundwork for Florida to manage the many challenges associated with health care issues and establish potential health care modernization proposals for state leaders and health care stakeholders.

“AIF was thrilled to, once again, host our annual conference with outstanding panel participants, including Representative Grimsley and corporate leaders who discussed the many challenges and opportunities our state faces when considering the health of our citizens,” said Tom Feeney, AIF president and CEO.  “We were also excited to announce to our members and esteemed guests the dates of the upcoming 2013 ‘Health Care Affordability Summit’ as AIF strongly believes the time for planning the future of Florida health care is now.”

RICK SCOTT’S SCHOOL FUNDING EFFORT COULD REQUIRE JUGGLING by Jim Saunders and Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida

After a weeklong education tour, Gov. Rick Scott put down a marker Friday night: He wants to avoid funding cuts for public schools next year — and would like to boost spending, if possible.

But while Scott’s stance might turn out to be popular with parents and teachers, he will have to set aside money for education in an overall state budget that is projected to barely break even.

What’s more, Scott will have to come to agreement with some fellow Republicans who say they are just as focused — if not more — on making sure the state’s education money is well spent.

… But part of the debate about the education budget also likely will center on the effectiveness of spending. Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who earlier served as Okaloosa County schools superintendent and as a school board member, said he will be “more interested in the how than the how much.”

“As a former superintendent of schools and a former school board member, I’ve always been more concerned with how education dollars are spent than marginal increases or decreases in spending,” Gaetz said Monday.

CABINET MEETING TODAY

The Florida Cabinet meets 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Cabinet Meeting Room in The Capitol. A copy of the agenda can be found here.

SOME COUNTIES SETTLE MEDICAID CASES

At least 17 counties have agreed to settle a lawsuit that stems from the Legislature’s decision this year to try to collect disputed Medicaid billings from local governments, according to a list provided by the state Agency for Health Care Administration, reports the News Service of Florida.

The settlements came after the state and counties agreed last week to put the lawsuit on hold as they continue negotiating Medicaid billing issues. At least 25 other counties remain in the lawsuit, though they have agreed to what is known as an “abatement” of the case until later this year, according to information from the Florida Association of Counties. Still other counties have taken different positions, including three — Broward, St. Johns and St. Lucie — that have gone to the state Division of Administrative Hearings to try to fight state attempts to collect about $30 million in Medicaid billings from Nov. 1, 2001, through April 30, 2012.

BARNEY BISHOP, ADAMS STREET ADVOCATES PART WAYS

Barney Bishop, who stepped down as president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida last year, then helped create lobbying firm Adams St. Advocates, has parted ways with partners Robert Beck, Claudia Davant, Dave Ericks and Tanya Jackson.

“It was cordial and friendly,” emailed Bishop. “I just wanted to go in a different direction.”

One direction Bishop has been traveling in is as one of the leaders of a national group of Democrats supporting Mitt Romney.

LOBBYIST’S LOBBYING GROUP HEADING TO JACKSONVILLE THIS WEEK by Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

The organization that serves as the lobbying group for Florida’s lobbyists will be coming to Jacksonville this week for its annual conference.

The Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists will hear from Republican consultant Brett Doster, the Florida chair for Mitt Romney’s campaign, and Steve Schale, who led President Barack Obama’s 2008 Florida campaign. They will be talking about how the presidential race will impact down ticket races. The event, which runs Wednesday through Friday, is at the downtown Hyatt.

HCA HIRES RYAN ANDERSON TO SERVE AS DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) announced on Monday the hiring of Ryan Anderson as Director of Govenrment Relations in Florida. Prior to join HCA, Anderson led the Government Affairs Department for the Rutledge Ecenia law firm in Tallahassee. He was previously the Director of Legislative Affairs for House Health and Human Services Chairman Rob Schenck.

“We know that Ryan will do a great job in this newly created role,” said Bryan Anderson, HCA’s VP of Government Relations. “His political and policy experience will be asset to our operations team, and ultimately to the patients we serve.”

MILITARY COMMUNITIES GET STATE GRANTS

Eleven Florida communities with military installations will share $850,000 in state grant money to support diversification of the area economies for helping keep the facilities open. “Florida continues to be the best place in the nation for military service members and their families to live and work,” Gov. Rick Scott said in announcing the grants.  “The Defense Reinvestment Grant helps maintain vital missions at Florida’s military installations while fostering a cooperative relationship between the military and the community.” The biggest grant goes to Okaloosa County, home to Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, which is getting $125,000. The Bay Defense Alliance, in Panama City, home to Tyndall Air Force Base, will get $100,00. The city of Jacksonville is getting $95,000. Jacksonville is home to the Mayport Naval facility, and Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

***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.***

CAN’T WAIT TO READThe Timeline of Presidential Elections: How Campaigns Do (and Do Not) Matter by Robert Erikson and Christopher Wlezien. “Erikson and Wlezien have amassed data from close to two thousand national polls covering every presidential election from 1952 to 2008, allowing them to see how outcomes take shape over the course of an election year. Polls from the beginning of the year, they show, have virtually no predictive power. By mid-April, when the candidates have been identified and matched in pollsters’ trial heats, preferences have come into focus — and predicted the winner in eleven of the fifteen elections. But a similar process of forming favorites takes place in the last six months, during which voters’ intentions change only gradually, with particular events– including presidential debates — rarely resulting in dramatic change.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jennifer Mikosky, Brock’s better half and loyal reader/retweeter Anthony Close.

MUST-READ: Jill Lepore’s look at how political consulting became a business. “No single development has altered the workings of American democracy in the last century so much as political consulting, an industry unknown before Campaigns, Inc. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, political consultants replaced party bosses as the wielders of political power gained not by votes but by money. … Political management is now a diversified, multibillion-dollar industry of managers, speechwriters, pollsters, and advertisers who play a role in everything from this year’s Presidential race to the campaigns of the candidates for your local school committee. … But for years Whitaker and Baxter had no competition, which is one reason that, between 1933 and 1955, they won seventy out of seventy-five campaigns. The campaigns they chose to run, and the way they decided to run them, shaped the history of California, and of the country.”

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.