Sunburn for 9/20 — 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.***

PEW: OBAMA OPENS UP WIDE NATIONAL LEAD

A new Pew Research survey finds President Obama now leads Mitt Romney nationally by eight points among likely voters, 51% to 43%.

“Not only does Obama enjoy a substantial lead in the horserace, he tops Romney on a number of key dimensions. His support is stronger than his rival’s, and is positive rather than negative. Mitt Romney’s backers are more ardent than they were pre-convention, but are still not as enthusiastic as Obama’s. Roughly half of Romney’s supporters say they are voting against Obama rather than for the Republican nominee.”

TIME FOR A “CHECKERS” SPEECH? That’s what Taegan Goddard suggests.

OBAMA FUNDRAISER IN TAMPA TODAY FEATURING PEARL JAM’S EDDIE VEDDER

The Hillsborough County Democratic Party is hosting an evening reception with the president at the Tampa home of Lisa DeBartolo and husband Donn Miggs, with a special performance by Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam. The exact address will be given out when guests RSVP.

DeBartolo is the executive vice president of DeBartolo Holdings LLC and the daughter of Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers.

The fundraiser isn’t cheap. According to the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, tickets are $20,000. This is expected be Obama’s last major fundraiser before the end of this financial reporting cycle so organizers are hoping for a big turnout.

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN BORROWED $20 MIL DURING PRIMARY-TO-GENERAL TRANSITION

Limited from still being in the Republican presidential primary by law, the Romney campaign borrowed $20 million in the time leading up to the convention, National Review reports.

We realized that we could collateralize this debt with $20 million of general-election funds that were already sitting in our bank account,” a senior Romney aide told National Review Online.

The Romney campaign borrowed the money in August from the Bank of Georgetown, just as many of its primary dollars were drying up.

“We took advantage of the law as it exists to secure this line of credit,” the aide says. “We were able to stay competitive in a period when we were looking at a tilted playing field.”

TWEET, TWEET: @AdamSmithTimes: Weird. Romney’s 47% comments all over Fla front pages, but @JustinSayfie couldn’t find a single one to share w readers #Sayfie

ROMNEY TO RALLY IN SARASOTA

Mitt Romney will hold a rally in Sarasota Thursday afternoon following his fundraiser there — the same day President Barack Obama will attend a fundraiser in Tampa, reports William March of the Tampa Tribune.

The Romney event will be at the Ringling Museum of Art, starting at 3:30 p.m. with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. Attendees must RSVP here.

SHOCK POLL: BILL NELSON 49%, CONNIE MACK 35%

According to a new poll from Fox News, Nelson is ahead of Mack by a margin of 49-35 percent.

SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE. APPROVES THREE RUBIO-BACKED BILLS

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved three bills spearheaded by Marco Rubio. The bills deal with opposition to an international effort to regulate the Internet, demanding greater transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign aid programs and requiring a regular four year strategic review of U.S. foreign policy programs and objectives.

“I am pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has moved forward with these efforts to oppose international efforts to regulate the Internet and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being well spent in our foreign aid programs and in advancing our diplomatic and foreign policy goals,” said Rubio.  “Each of these efforts represents the ability to unite along bipartisan lines and speak with one voice to ensure that America’s role in the world as a force for security, freedom and human rights is reinforced and that every taxpayer dollar spent to advance these goals actually does just that.”

***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.***

BOB MCDONNELL WILL KEYNOTE FLORIDA GOP “VICTORY DINNER” ON OCT. 4

“This is an important event for the RPOF and with Governor McDonnell as our keynote speaker, I know it will be a huge success,” said RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry in a release announcing the keynote. “Governor McDonnell is a strong leader and a true conservative–I know his remarks will fire up our supporters for the final stretch of this year’s election.”

POLL SHOWS RICK SCOTT LEADING ORLANDO MAYOR BUDDY DYER IN POSSIBLE 2014 MATCH-UP

A new poll from Gravis Marketing, a non-partisan research firm, asks about a hypothetical race between Rick Scott and Buddy Dyer, with Scott coming out ahead by a 13 point margin, 42% to 29%. Of course, nearly 30% of respondents were unsure of who they would support.

The poll also asked about a possible race between Scott and Charlie Crist; Crist holds the lead at 44% to 42%.

>>>A political committee with close ties to Gov. Rick Scott raised $306,700 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, bringing its total to more than $4.2 million this year, according to a campaign-finance report filed this week via the News Service of Florida.

NEW TELEVISION ADS IN FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL RACES

>>>Al Lawson launched his first TV advertisement of the 2012 campaign cycle.  Titled “Bio,” the ad features Lawson’s rural roots, path to professional basketball, and success as a North Florida small businessman. Watch here.

>>>The Daniel Webster campaign released his second television ad, highlighting what it describes as Webster’s efforts to lead by example by cutting his own Congressional salary, reducing his office budget and rejecting federal benefits. Watch here.

OUCH – KEITH FITZGERALD’S SISTER ENDORSES VERN BUCHANAN by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

This could make for an awkward Thanksgiving: Linda (Fitzgerald) Huber, the sister of Democratic congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota, today today endorsed U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s re-election.

“Buchanan is exactly what we need in Congress,”  Huber said in a release from the Buchanan campaign. “Vern’s background as a businessman is exactly what we need in Congress. I support his agenda to grow the economy and create jobs while protecting Medicare.”

Huber also donated to Buchanan’s re-election campaign.

JEB ENDORSES JOHN COURIEL FOR SENATE DISTRICT 35

Republican John Couriel was endorsed in his bid for Senate District 35 by former Gov. Jeb Bush. “I’ve known John to be thoughtful and diligent since we worked on education policy together in 1997,” Bush said.  “He will promote economic growth and prosperity in Florida by advocating an agenda of lower taxes, less fraud and waste in government, and measurable excellence in education.  As a former federal prosecutor, he’s made our community safer by pursing Medicare fraud, identity theft, and violent crimes.” Couriel is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Aventura.

HD 7 CANDIDATE HALSEY BESHEARS ENDORSED BY SEN. CHARLIE DEAN

Halsey Beshears, Republican candidate for House District 7 announced the endorsement of the Florida Senate’s Environmental Preservation Chair Senator Charlie Dean. Prior to Dean’s election to the Senate he served in the Florida House of Representatives and also served 16 years as the Sheriff of Citrus County. He credits Beshears’ conservative values, business acumen, and community leadership in his decision to back him for the Florida House of Representatives.

“Halsey understands the unique challenges our rural counties face in North Florida. From protecting our prisons to fighting for the rights of our fishing industry, Halsey has the demeanor and business sense to represent the citizens of North Florida” said Senator Charlie Dean. “Halsey’s experience, faith, commitment to his family and drive to improve north Florida’s economy will allow him to make an immediate positive impact for the citizens of House District 7.”

PLAKON’S CONSERVATIVE PAST MAY NOT HELP IN NEW DISTRICT by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

Plakon has compiled 100-percent voting records with such organizations as the Christian Coalition of Florida, the American Conservative Union and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Americans for Prosperity, the tea-party backed group paying for TV ads to defeat President Barack Obama, chose Plakon as its Florida “legislator of the year.”

But the same record that has made him so popular with conservatives may now be Plakon’s greatest liability. Redrawn political boundaries forced Plakon out of a safely Republican seat and into a much more moderate district — and Florida Democrats have made defeating him one of their top goals this fall.

The race for House District 30, which pits Plakon against Maitland public-school teacher and Democratic family scion Karen Castor Dentel, is arguably the most closely watched state House campaign in Florida this year.

Plakon, a 53-year-old owner of a printing company in Lake Helen, said he has pursued much more than conservative causes during his time in Tallahassee. He led bipartisan efforts to protect wildlife around airports, extend disability benefits for police officers and firefighters, and secure funding for Seminole State College.

“That isn’t a record of somebody that is just carrying a right-wing banner,” Plakon said. “I’m conservative, and I’m proud of it. But I also have had a record of working well with Democrats.”

But Democrats said Plakon has mostly focused on divisive wedge issues that repel many voters in a district that includes Altamonte SpringsCasselberry, Maitland and Eatonville.

IN HD 69, KATHLEEN PETERS ENDORSED BY PBA

Kathleen Peters, Republican candidate for House District 69, announced the endorsement of the West Central Police Benevolent Association (PBA) today. The PBA represents more 36,000 police officers throughout the state of Florida.

“I’m honored to receive the Police Benevolent Association’s endorsement,” said Peters. “The men and women of our local police forces work daily to keep our families safe and our neighborhoods secure. As the Mayor of South Pasadena I have worked with our local police force to ensure they have the resources and ordinances they need to protect our residents and our force. I look forward to working with them on a broader level as the Representative from House District 69.”

IS REP. ERIK FRESEN’S HOUSE SEAT IN PLAY?

In their latest ratings of State House races, my friends at the Political Hurricane have moved HD 114 — pitting incumbent Fresen against environmentalist Ross Hancock — from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.”

This district, where Alex Sink got 49.27%  2010, is trending Democratic. Fresen has been dogged by ethical controversies and Hancock is doing well walking the district and picking up support from younger NPAs and University of Miami college students.

“Heavy voter registration on the UM campus is bringing thousands of first-time progressive voters into the District 114 race,” said Hancock. “Meanwhile, new polls showing independents tilting toward Nelson and Joe Garcia have to be good news for my campaign in a district that had a slight Republican tilt.”

FUNDRAISERS TONIGHT

For Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto at Suncoast Beverage in Ft. Myers. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. Email [email protected] for more information.

For State House candidate Dave Hood at Floridian Partners in Tallahassee. Beginning at 12:00 p.m. Email [email protected] for more information.

NO SURPRISES IN AIF’S FINAL ROUND OF LEGISLATIVE ENDORSEMENTS

There are few, if any, surprises in Associated Industries final round of legislative endorsements.

Of course, AIF endorsed Republicans Aaron Bean and Jeff Brandes for the State Senate. Of course, it endorsed pro-business State House candidates like Halsey Beshears in HD 7 and Kathleen Peters in HD 69.

Also receiving AIF”s vote of confidence were:  Ron “Doc” Renuart – HD 17, Marco Pena – HD 49, Cary Pigman – HD 55, Ross Spano – HD 59, Janet Cruz – HD 62, Frank Farkas – HD 68, Kevin Rader – HD 81, MaryLynn Magar – HD 82, Perry Thurston – HD 94, Sharon Pritchett – HD 102, Richard “Rick” Stark – HD 104, Alex Diaz de la Portilla – HD 112, Jose Felix Diaz – HD 116.

“The AIFPAC is proud to announce our support of these candidates who all share the core beliefs that will help our business climate prosper and spur job growth for hardworking Floridians,” said Tom Feeney, Associated Industries of Florida President and CEO. “AIF is committed to a state government that supports lower taxes, less regulation and less interference in the daily lives of Florida business owners. The candidates endorsed today will fight for those principles. We look forward to working with each of them on our continued effort to make Florida the most productive state economy in the nation.”

DAVE ARONBERG LAUNCHES FIRST TV AD IN PALM BEACH STATE ATTORNEY RACE

Former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg has released the first TV ad of the Palm Beach County state attorney’s race. The 30-second spot will air on broadcast stations in a “significant” buy, consultant Christian Ulvert said. Watch here.

***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.***

FAT FLORIDA: A new national report calling for more urgent action to prevent obesity outlines a stark future in Florida: If we do nothing to curb current trends, the percentage of obese adult Floridians is projected to explode from 26.6 today to 58.6 percent in 2030.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Reps. Dorothy Hukill and Jamie Grant.

MIXED VIEWS: A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 46% of Americans hold favorable views of polls in general, and 47% have negative ones.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @ProgressFlorida: Kinda glad Progress Energy Florida is changing name to Duke Energy. Expecting fewer power outage calls to our office.

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.