Sunburn for 9/26 — 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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WASHINGTON POST POLL OF FLORIDA: OBAMA 51%, ROMNEY 47%

President Barack Obama holds a “slender edge” in Florida over Mitt Romney, according to a new poll by the Washington Post that indicatse there are fresh hurdles in the way of the Republican nominee’s best route to victory in the Electoral College.

Among Florida’s likely voters, the President is up 51 to 47 percent, a numerical but not statistically significant edge. Among all registered Florida voters, Obama is up nine percentage points.

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PUSHES BACK AGAINST BAD POLL NUMBERS

Mitt Romney political director Rich Beeson told BuzzFeed the campaign’s internal polls are telling a different story than the public polls.

“The public polls are what the public polls are. I kind of hope the Obama campaign is basing their campaign decisions on the public polls,” said Beeson. “I have great faith in our data.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this election by the way it’s that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a lot of good.” — Romney, before of his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative.

VOTERS SHIFTING ATTITUDES WEAKEN ROMNEY STRATEGY by David Lauter of the Los Angeles Times

To describe the state of mind of voters he encountered in focus groups, … Republican pollster Whit Ayres has used the metaphor of a parent searching for a surgeon to treat a grievously ill child. Faced with such dire need, the parent would have no interest in anything other than the surgeon’s skill with the knife … Unfortunately for Romney, … that metaphor may no longer fit. Attitudes toward the economy have warmed in recent weeks. Measures of consumer confidence have begun to tick upward, voter outlook about future conditions has brightened after a slide during the summer, and the percentage of Americans who feel the country is on the ‘right track’ has risen.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY – WHY ROMNEY WILL WIN FLORIDA by Christian Camara a.k.a. Reaganista

Every day, and even twice in a day, there seems to be a new poll released showing the presidential race in Florida tied or with one candidate over the other by a few points.

Barring a major event or “October Surprise,” I believe that a comparison of the state’s political realities four years ago to how they stand today is a much better barometer of how the state will perform this year. And it clearly stands to benefit Mitt Romney.

ANOTHER SHARP BLOG POST – RICK WILSON ON WHY MITT ROMNEY SHOULD APPEAR AT MORE BIG, PUBLIC EVENTS

The reasons Romney should keep doing the big events are blindingly obvious:

The people who show up to those events are committed. They’re believers. They’re going to not only cast their ballot, but they’re going to tweet and email and talk to their friends. If they got off work, or drove 50 miles or stood in the sun, they’re a locked down vote for Romney.

They leave energized, immune to the negative drumbeat from the Beltway ‘Obama is inevitable’ stories. Obama had it right in 2008: his folks left those rallies “Fired up! Ready to go!” This time, Romney’s drawing the massive crowds and they’re fired up, and ready to make Barack Obama a one-term proposition.

OBAMA’S AUDACITY-FREE CAMPAIGN by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman of POLITICO

[B]oth candidates have a bad case of the vagues heading into their trio of debates – but the dangers of an audacity-free campaign may have especially nasty consequences for Obama, whose calling card, even now, is boldness and transformational change. ‘I see elements of caution, no doubt about it, and it’s as wrongheaded as a basketball team that’s up by 17 or 18 points trying to hold onto the ball,’ said Clinton-era Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Rendell, a former governor of Pennsylvania. ‘And the only reason they’re up anyway is not because of anything great they did on offense or defense, but because the other side keeps making mistakes. The implosion had nothing to do with the Obama campaign, really, so they can’t afford to lay back at all or it will depress turnout.’ A veteran Democrat: … ‘This is not an easy environment, and taking a lot of risks is insane.’ …

‘It’s very clear they’re playing prevent defense, said Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s 2008 campaign senior strategist … Despite his self-professed penchant for audacity, Obama has always been a careful candidate who seldom makes a move without calculating the risks and running it through a polling and focus-group operation that costs his campaign at least $1 million a month. … Obama will only show as much leg on policy as Romney forces him to in order to avoid offending any group of voters, Democrats say. That means introducing few, if any, big new proposals, instead drawing from a warehouse full of previously released material, including year-old deficit-reduction and jobs plans that stand virtually no chance of being passed by this Congress or the next without a radial rewrite.

PPP POLL: BILL NELSON 46%, CONNIE MACK 37%

PPP’s newest Florida Senate poll finds Bill Nelson continuing to expand his lead — he’s at 46% to 37% for Connie Mack IV. Three weeks ago Nelson led by 7 points and in early July he had been ahead by only 2.

Nelson’s still not popular. Only 34% of voters approve of him to 41% who disapprove. But he lucked out with an extremely weak opponent. Only 30% of voters have a favorable opinion of Mack to 44% with a negative one. Mack’s numbers are a particularly dreadful 22/53 spread with independents, and he trails Nelson by 22 points with them at 48-26.

The most striking finding in the poll is that Nelson leads Mack 44-41 with white voters. If a Democrat can win white voters in Florida they’re headed for a blowout victory overall, and increasingly that appears to be the case in this race.

>>>The WaPo poll mention above has Nelson leading Mack by 14-points!

CROSSROADS TARGETS NELSON WITH $1.8 MIL AD BUY

American Crossroads today launched a new television ad in Florida targeting what it describes as “Bill Nelson’s deciding vote for ObamaCare.”

The new 30-second ad, which is supported by a $1.8 million buy, will run on local broadcast and cable stations in Florida for one week.  Titled “Where,” the spot can be viewed here.

ICYMI (BECAUSE I SURE DID): MACK’S SOUTH AMERICA POLICIES EXAMINED by William March of the Tampa Tribune

Mack cites his position as chairman of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs among his foremost achievements during four terms in the House. … He has used that post to argue for an America-first approach to foreign affairs and a hard-line approach to the Castro regime in Cuba — stances pleasing to conservatives and Florida’s Cuban exile community.

But since he began contemplating his current run for the U.S. Senate, the committee work also has provided Mack a way to raise his political profile and push legislation that could help some of his political backers.

Mack has introduced a resolution seeking to penalize Ecuador, citing as one reason an $18.2 billion judgment against Chevron over an environmental debacle of oil drilling pollution in the nation’s Amazon rainforest. Chevron is one of the largest contributors to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $1.8 million to defeat … Nelson. … Mack also has introduced legislation that could force Argentina to pay full price to an American hedge fund management company for Argentine debt the company bought at a steep discount. The company’s executives, including billionaire owner Paul Singer, have contributed heavily to Mack’s campaign, and Singer is a seven-figure backer of Mack’s ally, Mitt Romney.

MARCO RUBIO’S APPROVAL RATING AT ALL-TIME HIGH

Mitt Romney didn’t get much of a bounce out of the Republican convention in Florida, but Marco Rubio sure has. His approval breakdown this month is 52/32, the best we’ve found for him since he took office. He’s on solid 50/33 ground with independents and has a higher than normal 26% of Democrats who approve of him. Rubio’s approval numbers were pretty middling for the last year and a half but he’s seen a noticeable improvement since the convention.

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DON GAETZ GOES NUCLEAR ON LOBBYISTS JACK AND KENYA CORY via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Gaetz addressed the annual Associated Industries conference in Orlando … by first making a joke. He suggested that AIF might prefer to be talking to “Sen. Weinstein” and “Sen. Frishe.”

After light laughter, Gaetz next suggested that he was happy to see the Corys in the audience because he didn’t plan to see them for the next two years while he was Senate president. The statement was greeted with silence.

I understand people take opposing points of view on any given subject. That’s just politics,” Gaetz said this week. “What I object to is the way these two lobbyists went far beyond that and took it upon themselves to create a political committee which had at its purpose personal smears.”

NOT THE HEADLINES RPOF WANTS TO SEE 41 DAYS OUT

Daytona Beach News Journal: Hukill’s son gets $100,000 as campaign’s consultant; Huffington Post: Mike Horner Prostitution Scandal: GOP State Rep. Resigns After Name Reportedly Surfaces On Client List; Miami Herald: From shoplifting sandals to shooting at her ex (while naked), David Rivera’s pal in FBI probe has checkered past; Orlando Sentinel: State Rep. Mike Horner ends campaign after being named in racketeering, prostitution case; Times/HeraldFlorida Rep. Mike Horner resigns amid prostitution ring investigation; WTSP: Florida State Rep. Mike Horner drops out after name is linked to prostitution arrest

MY TAKE: IS THIS THE FLORIDA GOP YOU WANT?

Yesterday’s headlines and stories are perfect examples of the Florida GOP’s absolute power corrupting absolutely.

And I’ll tell you what, this is not what most Republicans want. I spoke yesterday with several GOP legislators, who asked to remain anonymois out of loyalty to the party, who are just as alarmed as the rest of us at these incidents.

One devoutly conservative legislator suggested that his colleagues had forgotten what it really means to govern as conservatives.

KEITH FITZGERALD ATTACKS VERN BUCHANAN ON ETHICS

Democrat Keith Fitzgerald’s first ad in a targeted district is an attack against incumbent Vern Buchanan, reports James Hohmann of POLITICO.

“Whatever the cost to Vern Buchanan’s reputation, the rest of us pay the price when politicians like Buchanan rig the system and manipulate the tax code to benefit themselves,” he says. “In the legislature I fought for Open Meetings, bills written in plain English and a ban on PAC Money. Now Congress should outlaw unlimited corporate spending on elections. And if anyone in Congress abuses their power to enrich themselves, it ought to be punishable by prison.”

The ad uses news clips that aired on TV before the Justice Department ended a criminal probe into the Florida lawmaker earlier this month, which made Republicans much more confident about this race than at the start of the summer.

BUCHANAN’S FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES INCLUDE $100K DISCREPANCY by Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times

Did or did not Buchanan get at least $100,000 in rental income from one of his Sarasota properties?

That’s the question raised by a discrepancy between the Sarasota Republican’s personal financial disclosure statements and reports he filed with the Federal Election Commission.

NEW AD FROM FROM FLORIDA DEMS POKES FUN AT SD 8 DOROTHY HUKILL

The Florida Democratic Party today released a new television ad, “Gifted,” highlighting what it describes as “Dorothy Hukill’s record of reckless finances and her history of looking out for herself: voting year after year to raise her own pay but refusing to pay taxes herself. In fact, Hukill has been fined by the IRS for failing to pay her taxes, and was even sued by her credit card company for unpaid bills.” Watch here.

The ad comes as Hukill is under fire for paying her son $100,000 for consulting work.

“While middle class families are struggling, Dorothy Hukill was looking out for herself: spending our tax dollars to give herself pay raises year after year, but refusing to pay taxes herself,” said Brannon Jordan, spokeswoman for the Florida Democratic Party. “Florida families are tired of Tallahassee politicians like Hukill who waste our tax dollars on themselves and stick Florida families with the bill, and Hukill’s history of reckless finances shows that she can’t be trusted with Florida’s future.”

SACHS CHALLENGES BOGDANOFF TO DEBATES — Read Sachs’ letter here.

TWEET, TWEET: @NicholasMHansen: How bout a duel?

NO PUNCHES PULLED IN NEW AD AGAINST SCOTT PLAKON

The Florida Democratic Party released a new video, “Reel Waste,” highlighting what it describes as “Scott Plakon’s record of wasteful spending and reckless financial policy: bypassing usual procedures and spending millions of our tax dollars on a company which later declared bankruptcy.”

“Scott’s Plakon’s reckless financial policy and wasteful spending has cost Florida taxpayers millions of dollars, and cost our state hundreds of jobs,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman David Bergstein. “Instead of investing in our state’s economy, public schools or infrastructure, Republicans like Plakon spent millions of our tax dollars and created zero jobs for Floridians, and the more Floridians’s learn more about Plakon’s record of waste and reckless spending, the less they trust him with our state’s future.”

DEMOCRATS SEND IN REINFORCEMENTS TO HD 42 by Bill Rufty of the Ledger

Two days ago, Democrat Eileen Game of Frostproof was fighting an uphill battle against a popular Republican incumbent to the Florida House, Representative Mike Horner of Kissimmee for House District 42.

She had little support from the Democratic Party of Florida. But Monday, Horner was tied to someone arrested for running a prostitution ring in Orlando. While not arrested, he immediately resigned from the Legislature and dropped out of his campaign for re-election.

This morning, three workers and consultants from the Democratic Party of Florida showed up on Game’s doorstep to increase the level of her campaign to become the Democratic House member from District 42, which includes a little over 40 percent of Polk County.

DEMS FAIL TO FIELD REPLACEMENT CANDIDATE IN HD 74; REP. DOUG HOLDER ON WAY TO ANOTHER TERM via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

State Representative Doug Holder will not have to wait until election day to win another two year term in office.

The Osprey Republican has been declared the winner of a new term because his only opponent, Democrat Andrew Saltman, suddenly withdrew from the Nov. 6 race earlier this month.  The Democratic Party had until Thursday to find a replacement for Saltman.

Saltman told the Florida Division of Elections in a letter that he was resigning because he was moving out of the area and that he was “tired of being harrassed by reporters!”

TOM GUSTAFSON PLAYS CATCH UP WITH FUNDRAISING FOR HD 89 RACE

Former Democratic House Speaker Tom Gustafson, who entered the House District 89 race last month after another candidate dropped out, collected $40,180 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, campaign-finance records via the News Service of Florida show.

Gustafson, who reported an overall total of $43,508, got a boost from the state Democratic Party, which chipped in $19,000 on Sept. 13. Gustafson, however, is far behind incumbent Bill Hager in raising money. Hager collected $41,570 during the most-recent period, giving him a total of $178,340.

MIAMI BEACH REPUBLICAN JOHN COURIEL OUTRAISING DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT GWEN MARGOLIS

Miami Beach Republican John Couriel collected $57,513 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, out-raising incumbent Democrat Sen. Gwen Margolis, newly filed reports via the News Service of Florida show. Couriel has raised an overall total of $189,785 and during the most recent period received money from a consulting firm headed by former Gov. Jeb Bush and several companies linked to Walt Disney World.

Margolis collected $21,100 during the period, giving her an overall total of $137,027. She also has loaned her campaign $160,000. Margolis recently received money from contributors such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

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FLORIDIANS CONSUMER CONFIDENCE HITS FIVE-YEAR HIGH

Floridians are feeling better about the economy now than at any other point since the onset of the Great Recession. Florida’s September consumer confidence reached a post-recession high of 79 — up three points from a revised August reading of 76, according to a University of Florida survey. “The last time Florida consumer confidence hit 79 was in October 2007,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

LATEST LOCAL PENSION RESEARCH FROM LEROY COLLINS INSTITUTE TO BE RELEASED TODAY 

The LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) will host a press conference today (9:45 a.m. at the Florida Press Center) to release Years in the Making: Florida’s Underfunded Municipal Pension Plans, a report that analyzes trends in municipal pension plans across the state. Using data from 2005-2011, Years in the Making provides the latest and most in-depth look at the health of Florida pensions. Pivotal findings show that the unfunded condition of most municipal pension plans began well before the downturn in the stock market.

ED COMMISH DEADLINE EXTENDED

As expected, the state Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the application deadline for the state’s top education job to Nov. 30 reports the News Service of Florida. The board voted in a brief conference call to give candidates for the commissioner’s job more time than under the original deadline of Sept. 27. Members now hope to select a commissioner at the board meeting scheduled for Dec. 11-12. Former Commissioner Gerard Robinson resigned July 31 after an uproar about the handling of the state’s testing and school-accountability systems.

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BOTCHED CALL: The botched call in Monday’s Packers-Seahawks NFL game cost bettors at least $150 million. 68% of bets last night were on the Packers; only 32% on the Seahawks. Worldwide, an estimated $150 million MORE was bet on Green Bay than Seattle. Meaning, due to one call by the replacement refs, the bettors lost $150 million, and the bookie won $150 million for a total swing of $300 million on one debatably bad call!

MEDIA NOTE: Willie Geist, a co-host of … ‘Morning Joe,’ is moving over to NBC’s flagship ‘Today’ show as a co-host of the franchise’s 9 a.m. hour. The promotion is expected to be announced … this week … Geist will be a backup for Matt Lauer, the longtime host of the 7 to 9 a.m. hours of ‘Today’ … Geist will retain a role on ‘Morning Joe,’ likely during the 6 a.m. hour … He will stop hosting ‘Way Too Early,’ the 5:30 a.m. newscast that has preceded ‘Morning Joe’ for the last few years. … [H]e was hired [at NBC] seven years ago to produce Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC talk show.  Carlson frequently put him on the show … As a 9 a.m. co-host, Geist will join Natalie Morales, Al Roker and his friend Savannah Guthrie.

MEDIA NOTE #2 – IS THE TAMPA TRIBUNE ABOUT TO BE SOLD? A request by Richmond, Va.-based Media General Inc. to divide property it owns on the west bank of the Hillsborough River could indicate that the sale of The Tampa Tribune is nearing a deal.

SERIOUS READINGThe Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist by John A. Jenkins. “The Rehnquist Court, which lasted almost twenty years, was molded in his image. In thirty-three years on the Supreme Court, from 1972 until his death in 2005 at age 80, Rehnquist was at the center of the Court’s dramatic political transformation. He was a partisan, waging a quiet, constant battle to imbue the Court with a deep conservatism favoring government power over individual rights.”

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.