Sunburn for 9/19 – 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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Welcome to Gridlock-nado, the term CNN’s Jim Acosta coined today to describe the budget mess. It kinda fits.

House Republicans today announced their plan to use this fall’s fiscal showdown to defund and delay Obamacare. Meanwhile, the President, in a room full of the nation’s top CEOs, chided the tactic as “irresponsible.”

“What I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern, whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to set policy,” President Obama said.

House Republicans insist they have no intention of shutting the government down or letting it default on its debts, but they also think they can push a weakened president to give ground on his signature health care law.

Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, put it this way: “The law’s incredibly unpopular. The biggest leverage point is that people are seeing more what this is going to do, and it’s devastating.”

So far, the whole showdown has an air of fantasyland about it. So call it Gridlock-nado. Or just call it ridiculous.


For four years, President Obama counted on fellow Democrats to rally to his side in a series of epic battles with Republicans over the direction of the country. But now, deep in his fifth year in office, Mr. Obama finds himself frustrated by members of his own party weary of his leadership and increasingly willing to defy him.

In recent weeks, disgruntled Democrats, particularly liberals, have bolted from the White House on issues like National Security Agency surveillance policies, a planned military strike on Syria and the potential choice of Lawrence H. Summers to lead the Federal Reserve. In private, they often sound exasperated describing Mr. Obama’s operation; in public, they are sometimes only a little more restrained.


A struggling President Obama is calling for help from members of his first-term A-Team, who have left the White House for other jobs.

With his poll numbers falling and his second-term floundering so far, Obama has sought help from the former aides who helped catapult him to the presidency.

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The conservative Republican Study Committee is preparing to unveil its bill to fully replace President Obama’s health care law.

Though this will won’t be the first Obamacare repeal-and-replace proposal floated by individual GOP lawmakers in either chamber of Congress, the RSC bill has the potential to gain traction, given the conservative group’s size and influence.


Leadership sources tell Robert Costa the House “will soon vote on a continuing resolution that simultaneously funds the federal government and defunds Obamacare… This means the conservatives who have been urging Boehner to back a defunding effort as part of the CR have won a victory, at least in terms of getting the leadership to go along with their strategy.”

Here’s how my sources expect the gambit to unfold: The House passes a ‘defund CR,’ throws it to the Senate, and waits to see what Senator Ted Cruz and his allies can do. Maybe they can get it through, maybe they can’t. Boehner and Cantor will be supportive, and conservative activists will rally.

But if Cruz and company can’t round up the votes, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejects the legislation, the House leadership will likely ask Republicans to turn their focus to the debt limit, avert a shutdown, and pass a revised CR — a stopgap spending bill that doesn’t defund Obamacare.

The Fix: “There are several reasons to believe the plan… will bring House Republicans right back to where they are now — without a deal in sight — only with less time on the clock to reach one.”


 The Obama administration plans to announce measures soon that will help consumers understand the privacy and security of information they submit when signing up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Among the initiatives are a toll-free number to report fraud or attempts at identity theft under the law, and an online identification-verification system. Online health insurance exchanges are set to open around the country on Oct. 1. Some technology experts have suggested a risk of fraud or abuse could complicate or delay implementation of the exchanges.

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Tens of millions of dollars are pouring into the battle over the Common Core academic standards, which aim to set a course for students’ progression in math and language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade. The proponents would appear to have all the advantages. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation already has pumped more than $160 million into developing and promoting the Common Core, … and it’s getting set to announce up to $4 million in new grants to keep the advocacy cranking. Corporate sponsors are pitching in, too. Dozens of the nation’s top CEOs will meet today to set the plans for a national advertising blitz that may include TV, radio and print.

“Opponents … project an image of scrappy grassroots gumption … But they’re backed by an array of organizations with multimillion dollar budgets … and much experience in mobilizing crowds and lobbying lawmakers, including The Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, the Pioneer Institute, Conservative Women for America and FreedomWorks.

The think tanks and advocacy groups fighting the Common Core are supported by some of the wealthiest and most politically savvy conservative donors in the U.S., including the Pope, DeVos and Scaife families … The battle lines defy neat partisan categories: Teachers unions have joined hands with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the Obama administration in promoting the standards, which nearly every state has adopted. On the other side, the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida finds itself on the same team as tea party activists.”

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gwen Graham and Nan Rich at the Jackson County Democrats’ Blues & Boots Barbecue and Dance fundraiser 6 p.m. at the Jackson County Agricultural Center, 3631 U.S. 90 W., Marianna. Allison Tant, Graham and Rich are scheduled to speak. Tickets are $20 each. More information here.


As many states prepare to introduce a linchpin of the 2010 health care law — the insurance exchanges designed to make health care more affordable — a handful of others are taking the opposite tack: They are complicating enrollment efforts and limiting information about the new program.

Chief among them is Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature have made it more difficult for Floridians to obtain the cheapest insurance rates under the exchange and to get help from specially trained outreach counselors.

Missouri and Ohio, two other states troubled by the Affordable Care Act, have also moved to undercut the law and its insurance exchanges, set to open on Oct. 1. In Georgia, the state insurance commissioner, Ralph T. Hudgens, has said he will do “everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

Alarmed by the resistance, the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, and the Obama administration are intensifying their efforts to win public support for the exchanges in Florida and elsewhere and are confronting their critics head on.

On Tuesday, Ms. Sebelius capped a three-city visit to Florida — home to the country’s second largest uninsured population — with sharp words about the state’s unwillingness to embrace the law. She will do the same in Missouri later this week.

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common Core State Standards and College readiness will lead the discussion at the Florida Chamber’s one-day conversation on the future of Florida’s talent supply, to be held Sept. 26 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. Newly appointed Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart will attend along with the Chamber Foundation’s Six Pillars Caucus System and top business and education thought leaders including Susan Pareigis of the Florida Council of 100, Chris Hart of Workforce Florida, Jennifer Grove with Gulf Power Company, and Jane Adams with the University of Florida. For a full list of speakers and events, visit here.


The economic output in Florida’s three largest metro areas grew by more than 3 percent last year. The Bureau of Economic Analysis said this week that the gross domestic product grew by 3.5 percent in South Florida, 3.1 percent in Tampa and 3 percent in Orlando. 


Florida Defense Support Task Force: Meets 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Residence Inn, Tallahassee Universities at the Capitol, 600 W. Gaines St., Tallahassee. 

Florida Supreme Court: Will hear arguments at 9:00 a.m. in the case of Citizens of the State of Florida, etc. v Florida Public Service Commission, SC13-144. The Office of Public Counsel sued the PSC after it allowed Florida Power & Light Co. to increase rates. The schedule of oral arguments here

Citizens Property Insurance Corp: To hold a series of meetings today and Friday at 8301 Cypress Plaza Drive, Suite 108 Jacksonville. 10:00 a.m. to noon, Market Accountability Advisory Committee, teleconference: 1-866-361-7525, participant Code: 7849939192#; 1 to 2:30 p.m., Audit Committee, teleconference: 1-866-361-7525, participant Code: 3877541849#; and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Finance and Investment Committee, teleconference: 1-866-361-7525, participant Code: 2478401990#. The Friday meeting, time and teleconference number is: 9 a.m., Board of Governors, teleconference: 1-888-942-8686, participant Code: 5743735657#. Meeting materials can be found here. 

Agency for Persons with Disabilities: APD director Barbara Palmer to hold a town-hall meeting to discuss the 2013 legislative session and to answer questions. 2:00 p.m., Spilios Center at Sunrise, 11975 S.W. 140th Terrace, Miami. 

Deepwater Horizon Restoration: The Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will hold a workshop to discuss some proposed restoration projects stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 5:30 p.m., Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Community Center, 913 South I St., Pensacola.

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Incoming House Democratic Leader Darryl Rouson has made a mess of his few months on the job as the leader designee of the minority party. Elected by a razor-thin two vote margin at a caucus meeting in February, Rouson has proceeded to flush any goodwill he may have inherited down the drain in a relatively short period of time.

Most of those originally aligned Rouson fit two categories-they have largely been frozen out of the process through the years by an arrogant party leadership or are simply malcontents. (more on both sets of Rouson supporters later in this article)

With the track record of Florida Democrats in state elections worse than that of any other Democratic Party east of the Mississippi since 2000, those who backed Rouson could make a strong point about the need for new leadership, with new ideas, new alliances and new energy. But what ended up happening is that this group got on board with a flawed messenger. The message about reform in the party and the need to take out the trash in the way of entrenched consultants and ideas that have cost the Democrats seat in election after election may have been sound, but Rouson himself was always far from perfect as a vehicle for this change.

Continue reading here, to the ultimate conclusion: From my vantage point, Darryl Rouson is badly damaged and his supporters many of which are dissidents within the party would be wise to let go of him next week. However, it is critically important the Democrats do not simply replace Rouson with a status quo type individual as leader. As I have discussed above Rouson’s rhetoric and some of his actions were positive steps forward for a party caucus that has specialized in losing elections through the years. It would be wise if Rouson’s closest backers came up with an acceptable replacement before next week’s caucus meeting. I must state though I find it somewhat admirable that Rouson hasn’t battled his opponents in the press but from what I can gather, some of the private reassurances he’s given members are not working.


Gambling interests will once again push for large casinos and a stronger state regulatory body next year, but the only sure thing is a lot of money will be on the line. Casino conglomerates pushed a much-hyped bill (HB 487) in 2012 that would have allowed three casino resort hotels in South Florida, but the bill failed to gain traction in the House amid heavy lobbying for and against the bill.

Now — as lawmakers await the results of a gaming study, legislative panels begin convening next week, and the Senate Gaming Committee embarks on meetings across the state next month — gambling and anti-gambling forces alike are increasing their lobbying muscle and political donations.

“The amount of money moving through the process is more than ever before,” said Marc Dunbar, a veteran Tallahassee gambling lobbyist.

The gambling scene in Florida is much the same as when the 2012 bill failed. Casino interests still want large resorts; pari-mutuels want lower taxes, more slot machines and parity with any new casinos; the Seminole Tribe is eyeing the end of the banked card game monopoly as part of the gaming compact with the state in 2015; and Central Florida tourism interests are opposed to any expansion of gambling.

David Hart, executive vice president of governmental affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said his organization’s opposition to casinos is unlikely to change.

Some things have changed, though: Internet sweepstakes cafés have been outlawed, and legal battles over the storefronts that offer slot-like video games are playing out across the state.

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Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli, and Chairmen Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva, invite you to a fundraising reception to benefit the election campaign of nominee Bill Gunter, candidate for House District 36. Join them on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from noon to 1:00 p.m. at the Governors Club Library Room.


Join Ed Narain, candidate for House District 61, for a fish fry on Saturday, Sept. 21 from noon til 4:00 p.m.  It will be at the Pictureman Food Court/Yellow Bus at the corner of 22nd and Genessee across from Old Middleton High School.  Visit to purchase $10 tickets.

TWEET, TWEET: @maxasteele Lost in the Gunter news from last night: the best turnout Tallahassee GOP money could buy was 10.3% for a total of 3,357 votes cast

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Campaigns & Elections magazine published its list of the nation’s top consulting blogs to bookmark and visit, and among the eight that were chosen: Florida’s Steve Schale. Schale’s blog, hosted at, was lauded by C&E for its analysis of news and campaigns with a personal touch.  While Schale doesn’t update his site daily, when he does, expect a thorough, grounded and often data-rich analysis.   Schale is considered among the best regarded Democratic strategists in Florida, with his fingerprint on successes from local to national races, including that of President Obama in 2008.

The other seven featured blogs include Campaign Finance Blog operated by William McGinley out of DC; The Campaign Workshop, a Democratic blog drawing on the perspective of several staffers; Global Strategy Group‘s public affairs blog that is rich with in-depth takes on happenings; Ozean Media Political Consulting Blog, with conservative ponderings and Friday “eureka” moments; Kristen Soltis Anderson, the pollster for the Winston Group who maintains a blog of her commentary and fun facts; Winning Mark, the Democratic blog featuring media-focused analysis; and 270 Strategies, also a Democratic firm that boasts “fun facts, opinion, pieces, and the occasional call to action.”

C&E writes, “Don’t see your favorite on here? Tweet us at @C_and_E to tell us what we missed.”

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Well that didn’t take long. SB 2 was dubbed the most“comprehensive ethics reform package since 1976” when it was signed into law with widespread support from lawmakers earlier this year. The centerpiece of the far-ranging 64-page bill was a new provision prohibiting lawmakers from taking a job with another public agency and another one that banned lawmakers from lobbying the governor’s office and executive branch agencies for two years after they leave office (lawmakers were already banned from lobbying the legislative branch). The intent was to prevent lawmakers from using their positions for their own private gain.

So just four months after Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law, a lawmaker is up for a job that, if he takes it, would appear to be a major violation of the law. According to The Orlando Sentinel, Rep.Stephen Precourt is being mentioned as a possible replacement for Max Crumit, who is resigning from his job as executive director of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority on Oct. 1. Crumit was forced out on Aug. 28 when the board voted 3-2 to oust him.


George Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials

Bo Bohannon, Marty Fiorentino, Joe Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: Teach for America, Inc.

Ana Cruz, Floridian Partners: Ambassador Limousine

Shawn Foster, Southern Strategy Group: Bail World

Vicki Lopez Lukis, Sylvester Lukis & Associates: Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, Inc.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the godfather of progressive blogging in Florida, Kenneth Quinnell

REMEMBERING RHYAN METZLER via Deborah Cox Roush: “Yesterday I lost a friend, the Republican Party lost a loyal servant and the State of Florida lost a treasure.  I was sad to hear of the passing of Rhyan Metzler after a long and courageous battle with cancer.  Rhyan was always giving, stood strong and loyal to all that knew him and never gave up.  Today we grieve but I hope everyone remembers him for his smile, his perseverance and his life. As Rhyan would say, ‘Don’t stop believing.’ Rest in peace my friend.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.