Sunburn for 9/25 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***SUNBURN is brought to you by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm.  Visit www.bascomllc.com to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

Happy birthday to one of the true class acts in Florida politics — David’s much better half, Christina Johnson, president of On 3 Public Relations.

More happy birthday wishes to Pinellas Republican State Committeewoman Nancy Riley.

Now, on to politics…

IT AIN’T OVER: “We had a bad week — if the election were going to be held tomorrow that would be a problem, but there’s a lot of ground to cover in the next 42 days.” — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

ROMNEY PUSHING FORWARD WITH TRANSITION

Mitt Romney’s campaign “may be struggling, but his transition operation is moving full steam ahead,” Politico reports.

“The transition effort — while necessary and appropriate for a GOP nominee so close to the election — is a jarring contrast to a campaign that appears on the ropes to many Republican strategists. Receiving no bump from the Tampa convention, Romney is plowing ahead with a methodical approach to staffing his would-be administration, despite the fact that his campaign is said by some to need a radical makeover.”

WHY OBAMA IS THE CLEAR FAVORITE

Nate Silver finds that of the 19 presidential candidates who led at this stage of the race since 1936, 18 won the popular vote (Thomas E. Dewey in 1948 is the exception), and 17 won the Electoral College (Al Gore lost it in 2000, along with Mr. Dewey).

“There has not been any tendency, at least at this stage of the race, for the contest to break toward the challenging candidate,” writes Silver. “Instead, it’s actually the incumbent-party candidate who has gained ground on average since 1936. On average, the incumbent candidate added 4.6 percentage points between the late September polls and his actual Election Day result, whereas the challenger gained 2.5 percentage points.”

MACK PUSHES ‘NELSON’S A LIBERAL’ MESSAGE AT ORLANDO DAIRY QUEEN by Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

The final campaign stop of Day 3 of U.S. Rep. Connie Mack’s Florida U.S. Senate bus tour had him greeting 60 or 70 eager supporters at an Orlando Dairy Queen last night with the message that Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson is far more liberal than he wants Floridians to know.

Referring to the auto-bailout bill, the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation bill, Mack charged, “Barack Obama and Sen. Nelson have nationalized our automobile industry, nationalized our health car, and nationalized our banks.

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BILL YOUNG SAYS HE’S THE VICTIM OF BURGLARIES; POLICE DISAGREE by Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young has been re-elected to Congress repeatedly since 1970. He’s running this year for his 22nd term. But this campaign, he says, has been different. This year, he says, has been rougher than ever before.

“My home’s been broken into twice,” Young said in the first in a series of three interviews with the Times over the past two weeks. “And my wife and I have been stalked in Washington and here in Florida. Who’s behind it? I don’t know.”

But the 81-year-old congressman has his suspicions. He’s not looking at his Democratic Party opponent, Jessica Ehrlich. Instead, in two of the three interviews, he named both the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Florida Consumer Action Network as his suspects, explaining: “The Occupiers are after me.”

However, Indian Shores police say they haven’t seen signs of any break-ins at Young’s condominium this year.

NEW CAMPAIGN AD TOUTS VERN BUCHANAN’S ‘BLUE COLLAR BACKGROUND’

Vern Buchanan on Tuesday will begin running a television campaign commercial that touts his “blue collar background” and “can-do spirit” make him well suited to stand up for the American middle class, reports Marc R. Masferrer of Political Watch.

In the ad, the narrator does not get more specific than to say that in Congress, Buchanan “fights for lower taxes, a balanced budget, and incentives for small businesses to create good-paying jobs.”

Buchanan campaign manager Sally Tibbetts said the ad highlights Buchanan’s background as a businessman and a “problem solver.” View the ad here.

IN CD 18, PATRICK MURPHY TOUTING ‘JOB CREATION’ RECORD

Murphy’s campaign has begun airing its fifth television ad of the general election.  Entitled “Truth,” the 30-second spot is backed by a significant buy on network and cable TV in the West Palm Beach-Treasure Coast market.

View the new ad here.

TV STATION PULLS ANTI-LOIS FRANKEL AD by Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post

WPTV-Channel 5 pulled this controversial anti-Lois Frankel TV ad from the air this evening after complaints from Frankel’s campaign. The helicopter ride and marble bathroom weren’t in dispute. Instead, Frankel got the ad yanked over the claim that her spending spree caused a budget deficit.

Cities are required, by state law, to balance their budget each year. While West Palm Beach faced a large deficit in Frankel’s final year in office, the city made the necessary (and required) cuts to balance the budget. By the same measure, Frankel has touted balancing the budget as one of her accomplishments. Again, balancing the budget is required by law.

WPTV station manager Lloyd Bucher said Monday that the ad is being pulled “until there are changes made to the commercial.”

“There was a claim that there was a budget deficit, and that was never corroborated,” Bucher said.

The ad was purchased by The Young Guns Action fund, a conservative Super PAC. Young Guns is paying WPTV $173,750 to run ads through the election.

DEM POLL HAS JOE GARCIA LEADING DAVID RIVERA

Democratic super-PAC, House Majority PAC, released a poll on Monday that has Democratic candidate Joe Garcia ahead of Republican Rep. David Rivera by 9 percentage points in the race for the newly redrawn Congressional District 26,

The poll, conducted by GBA Strategies  for the House Majority PAC and the Service Employees international Union, shows Garcia leading Rivera, 50 percent to 41 percent. Garcia also posted a 9-point lead in an internal poll from his campaign in late August.

According to a polling memo, Rivera– who has been dogged by questions on ethics issues– falls well below the 41 percent he garners at the outset when voters are told about the ongoing investigations into his campaign finance.

>>>The Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo re-writes the definition of must-read with this almost-Gonzo account of Rivera consultant Ana Sol Alliegro here.

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RPOF VS. THE SUPREME COURT

>>>Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group affiliated with the Koch brothers, will unveil a political campaign on Tuesday designed to highlight the judicial records of the justices.

>>>Bipartisan backers of the jurists warned that the move would re-politicize Florida’s justice system, with dire consequences for the state. Those backers included former American Bar Association president Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, former Republican state Sen. Alex Villalobos and former Chief Justice Major Harding, who retired from the court in 2002.

 >>>Lenny Curry said Monday that GOP Gov. Rick Scott had nothing to do with the party’s drive to oust three justices from the state Supreme Court. … A spokeswoman for Scott said Monday the governor had been unaware of his party’s vote last week, and Curry agreed, saying Scott was “not a part of the decision at all.”

>>>Don Gaetz and Will Weatherford say they were not consulted by the RPOF about opposing the justices.

>>>”An independent judiciary is to tyrants as sunlight to vampires,” writes retired St. Petersburg Times associate editor Martin Dyckman in a new column in Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Times. Dyckman, who in the 1970s exposed the scandals that brought down most of the court and led to the current merit retention system in 1976, warns voters against the RPOF’s unprecedented campaign to oust three current justices. “Imagine the outcome of Watergate without an independent Judge John Sirica; without a Supreme Court unafraid to make a lawless president give up the proof of his crimes…”

>>>Even former RPOF chair Jim Greer weighed in, saying the move is just the latest in a series of steps taken to punish those who uphold constitutional protections that don’t match the party leadership’s “it’s our way.” … “Floridians should be scared to death,” Greer added. “As chairman, I never would have permitted it, it’s wrong and needs to be stopped.”

GENTING CLOSE TO SPENDING $1 MIL SO FAR ON PRO-GAMIN SUPER PAC by Kathleen Haughney of the Sun-Sentinel

Malaysian-based gambling giant Genting has pumped $936,500 since April into a political action committee designed to sell the concept of Las Vegas-style casinos to voters in the Sunshine State, documents made public Friday show. But the casino company is still coy about its exact aims in Florida.

“We’re still in a wait-and-see and we’ll see what happens [mode],” said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for the Genting-backed PAC, New Jobs and Revenue for Florida.

Hughes, in an interview on Friday, said Genting is still trying to figure out if taking the matter to the voters is the best way forward for the company. Meanwhile, via the PAC, the company has paid out thousands to pollsters, media consultants and attorneys to do research and preparatory work to see if placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot would stand a good chance of success.

Of the $936,500 put into the committee as of Sept. 10, $860,435.75 has been spent, the documents filed with the state show.

FLORIDA REALTORS MOVE ANOTHER $1.5 MILLION INTO AMENDMENT 4 PRO-PROPERTY TAX CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE  by Dara Kam of the Palm Beach Post

State and national Realtors associations pumped another $1.5 million into a campaign pushing a constitutional amendment limiting property taxes mainly for nonhomestead property owners, bringing to $3.5 million the groups have raised so far, according to campaign finance records.

The Florida Association of Realtors added another $1 million on Aug. 31 and the National Association of Realtors gave $500,000 on Sept. 5 to the “Taxpayers First” political committee, the records show. The Florida group had already dumped more than $2 million into the campaign, which includes a slick “Tax Your Assets Off” marketing blitz, urging a “yes” vote on Amendment 4.

AFTER MIKE HORNER QUITS IN SCANDAL, DEMOCRATS SEE A SUDDEN PICKUP WHILE REPUBLICANS SCRAMBLE FOR A REPLACEMENT by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

State Rep. Mike Horner’s decision to quit his campaign for re-election amid a prostitution scandal has transformed what had been a safe GOP seat into one of the most competitive legislative elections in Central Florida.

… “Obviously, the dynamics have changed,” said Christian Ulvert, a political consultant helping to direct House campaigns for the Florida Democratic Party. “We’re looking at it very closely.”

… The Democratic nominee in the district is little-known Eileen Game, a business owner from Frostproof who has raised only about $6,000 from contributors but also loaned her campaign $10,300.

… Several names are already circulating among activists. At the top of the list: Osceola County Commissioner Frank Attkisson, R-Kissimmee. Attkisson served in the House from 2000 until 2008, when he was forced out by term limits. Horner was his successor.

Other rumored names include Ken Smith, a former Osceola County commissioner and former mayor of Kissimmee; and Jimmy Nelson, the chairman of the Polk County Republican Party.

SD 14 CANDIDATES DARREN SOTO AND WILL MCBRIDE HAVE QUITE FUNDRAISING PERIOD

Battling in Senate District 14, Democrat Darren Soto and Republican Will McBride combined to raise a total of $34,660 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14 — far less than candidates in other competitive legislative races, newly filed records via the News Service of Florida show.

Soto, a House member from Orlando, raised $18,705 during the period, giving him an overall total of $158,966. McBride, an Orlando attorney, raised $15,955 during the period and has an overall total of $73,517. McBride also has loaned his campaign $205,000.

FLA. DEMS AIR NEW SPOT ON BEHALF OF HD 112 CANDIDATE JOSE JAVIER RODRIGUEZ

The Florida Democratic Party today released a new television ad, “Father,” highlighting what it describes as House District 112 candidate Jose Javier Rodriguez’s “commitment to stand up to Rick Scott’s giveaways to millionaires and put middle class families first.”  Watch here.

“My father left Cuba as a young man in search of freedom. He taught me the value of working hard and helping others,”  said Jose Javier Rodriguez.  “I want to take that same leadership to Tallahassee. To make sure we invest in our children and help our businesses and stop Rick Scott’s outrageous property insurance increases that hurt our families.”

***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.***

ADDITIONAL 60,000 POLICIES WHITTLED AWAY FROM CITIZENS

The Office of Insurance Regulation on Monday announced that 60,000 policies from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will be taken by private carriers as the state attempts to whittle away at the 1.4 million policies now held by the state-backed insurer, reports the News Service of Florida.

Florida Peninsular Insurance Co. will take an additional 10,000 policies, bringing its Citizens takeout total to 45,000. American Integrity Insurance Co. will take 50,000 policies. The takeouts will begin in November. “It is encouraging to see the commitment of these domestic companies to bring more jobs as well as additional insurance capacity to Florida,” Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said in a statement. Citizens’ policyholders will be notified of the take-out request on Oct. 1 and have 30 days to accept or decline the offer. If policyholders do not respond, they will be transferred to the private company on Nov. 6.  Earlier this month, OIR approved a 150,000-policy takeout.

EMERGENCY MEETING FOR ED. COMMISSIONER SEARCH

The Florida State Board of Education holds an emergency meeting via conference call at 8 a.m. Tuesday to consider extending the search deadline a new  Commissioner of Education beyond Thursday

KEN DETZNER, DEPT. OF STATE PRESSER TODAY 

Secretary of State Ken Detzner and the Florida Department of State will be hosting a Voter Registration Day press conference, announcing a new effort to encourage Floridians to vote and educate them about their voting options. … Also attending the event will be representatives from the Florida League of Women Voters and the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association.

PERSONNEL NOTE: AMY MAGUIRE NAMED VP OF GOV’T 7 CORPORATE RELATIONS FOR ALL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Congrats to Amy Maguire, who is joining All Children’s Hospital as Vice President, Government and Corporate Relations.

Amy has worked closely with All Children’s during the past nine years, helping the hospital reach out to lawmakers at the local, state and national level on a range of children’s health issues. She was an advocate for All Children’s while serving as the Founder/CEO of Shamrock Policy Group (2010-2012) and the Managing Partner/CEO of Southern Strategy Group Tampa Bay (2004-2010), a regional office of the nation’s largest lobbying firm.

STATE WANTS NASA LAND TO DEVELOP COMMERCIAL SEAPORT

With an eye toward developing a commercial spaceport, Florida has asked NASA to transfer 150 acres of land north of the shuttle launch pads and the shuttle runway to Space Florida, the state’s aerospace development agency. Similar commercial spaceports are set up in New Mexico, where Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, plans to fly a fleet of suborbital passenger spaceships, as well as Alaska, Virginia and California.

TWO NEW HIRES AT GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

Rachel Cone, former communications director from the Department of Environmental Protection, joined Gov. Rick Scott’s team last week as the director of strategic planning. Prior to this, Cone served at the communications director at the Department of Environmental Protection.

Karen Zeiler joined last week as deputy chief of staff. Previously she served as the chief of staff at the Agency for Health Care Administration.

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.