Sunburn for 9/5: 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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DEAD HEAT NATIONALLY

A new CNN/ORC poll shows the presidential race tied at 48%.

Just before the GOP convention last week a similar poll showed President Obama ahead by two points, 49% to 47%.

“The Republican convention had at best a mild effect on the presidential race, and from a statistical viewpoint, no effect at all,” said pollster Keating Hollard. Demographically, Romney’s overall one-point bounce masks some movement among subgroups and suggests that Romney’s pitch to some groups may have worked but at the expense of turning off another group of voters.”

MITT ROMNEY RAISES $100 MILLION IN A MONTH — AGAIN

Mitt Romney raised $100 million in August, his campaign told bundlers last week in Tampa, according to Politico.

“August would be the third straight month that the three main committees boosting the GOP nominee — Romney for President, Romney Victory and the Republican National Committee — have combined to surpass the century mark.”

OBAMA GIVES HIMSELF AN ‘INCOMPLETE’

President Obama was asked by KKTV-TV what grade he would give himself on the American economy.

Said Obama: “You know I would say incomplete…but what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.”

PRESIDENT TO VISIT FLORIDA AFTER CONVENTION

Following the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, President Obama will head to Florida this weekend for campaign events. The president is expected to visit the state on Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9.

TAMPA BAY MARKET IS 2012 ELECTION’S FRONTLINE

The volume of ads from both sides will be immense.

Goodman said Florida broadcasters may experience “a virtual sell-out,” in which they sell all the commercial time they have available to the campaigns or super PACs, independent committees funded by huge contributions.

“That’s unprecedented,” Goodman said.

He expects stations to buy back presold time from commercial advertisers in order to resell it.

That will reap wealth for the broadcasters. They must sell ad slots at bargain prices to the campaigns, but can charge super PACs premium prices.

“The rates being charged already are beyond belief,” Goodman said — more than $500,000 for a week of saturation advertising in the Tampa market alone.

POLL: BILL NELSON 45%, CONNIE MACK 38%

The Florida Senate race is one of the strangest in the country this year. Bill Nelson has middling approval numbers, with only 35% of voters approving of him to 42% who disapprove. Usually an incumbent in that kind of position would be doomed for defeat. And yet Nelson has a 7 point lead over Connie Mack IV, 45-38, representing a 5 point increase in his lead compared to our last poll in late July.

The reason Nelson’s ahead despite being unpopular is that Mack is even more unpopular. Only 27% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 45% with an unfavorable one. Just 17% of independents have a positive opinion of Mack to 48% with a negative one, and much of Nelson’s lead comes thanks to a 45-29 advantage with that group.

This campaign kind of represents the new norm in electoral politics- millions have been spent bashing the heck out of both candidates, so voters dislike both of them and are kind of just choosing the lesser of two evils. For now that’s Nelson.

DEM. STAR CORY BOOKER COMING TO TAMPA

“Hillsborough County is a must-win for President Obama, and we are glad Mayor Booker will be here to help us rally the base to get out the vote for the president,” local party chairman Chris Mitchell said. “At least as important, though, is Mayor Booker’s approach to local issues. Somebody said long ago, ‘All politics is local.’ We hope a lot of people will come out to hear how this dynamic leader has transformed his city. There are lessons we can all learn from his example.”

“The Kennedy King Dinner will be held Saturday, September 22 at the Tampa Convention Center. The event begins with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7. Speeches, including the keynote by Mayor Booker, will follow dinner.

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DEMOCRATS UNVEIL PARTY PLATFORM by Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times

Democrats unveiled their party’s platform on Monday, declaring that with the passage of the health care law, the elimination of Qaeda leaders and the slowly improving economic prospects the country had emerged from the near calamity it faced four years ago.

But not surprisingly, the platform laid out the argument that President Obama’s work was unfinished, and warned of a consolidation of power in the hands of the wealthiest should Republicans win the presidency in November.

“This election is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties,” the platform said, “but between two fundamentally different paths for our country and our families.”

TWEET, TWEET: @Deggans: Is it me, or did Lily Ledbetter and  Kal Penn deliver more thrilling speeches than Rahm Emanuel @ #DNC?

A FULL STADIUM ON THURSDAY?

The Obama campaign promises it will fill every one of the 73,778 seats in Charlotte’s mammoth football stadium Thursday night when President Obama accepts the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, The Hill reports.

“We’re confident we’ll be full. We have a great ground operation in North Carolina and we’ve registered more voters than any other state,” said Jen Psaki.

TWEET, TWEET: @Markhalperin: Bacon is protein Biscuits are the Southern way Resistance futile #charlottehaiku

CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS PARTY DRAWS 500

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus political action committee BOLD PAC drew a crowd of about 500 people at their party on Monday night. In the crowd: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Other lawmakers in attendance included: Reps. Ben Ray Lujan, Charles Gonzalez, Gene Green, Ruben Hinojosa and Xavier Becerra.

NASCAR-THEMED PARTY DRAWS BIG CROWD by POLITICO Influence

Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti pulled in a big crowd for its NASCAR-themed happy hour at Dandelion. Despite the rain, folks showed up to see all the Democratic principals outfitted in their NASCAR best. David Castagnetti, David Thomas, Stacey Rampyand Al Thompson played host to several K Streeters in town for the event. On hand for the ‘Talladega Nights’ worthy event: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. Joe Courtney, convention CEO Steve Kerrigan, Ivan Zapien of Walmart, Carmela Clendening of HP, Paul Hughes of Adobe, Karen Ignagni and Mary Beth Donahue of AHIP and Billy Glunz of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

>>>Tony Bennett sang for a swank Democratic Congressional Campaign Committeeparty at the Fillmore (h/t to Dave Levinthal).

DNC BEGINS CHARLIE CRIST’S LATEST CAMPAIGN by Alexander Burns of POLITICO

Even if Crist is undecided about a gubernatorial run, his speech in Charlotte — his exact slot hasn’t been announced — will mark the start of a campaign for renewed political relevance. While Democrats are delighted to have Crist on their side in the presidential race, there’s considerably more ambivalence among his fellow Floridians about whether they want him as their statewide standard-bearer. And there’s real reluctance to talk about the onetime self-described “pro-gun, pro-life, anti-tax Republican” as anything but a booster for the president.

… Yet the weakness of the Florida Democratic bench could also make Crist the party’s best shot at knocking off a governor they loathe with an incredible passion. There are a handful of Democrats who might test their luck in the governor’s race — including Sink and Smith as well as Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and several state senators — but no one who could clear the primary field.

What’s more, Crist’s final year in office included a high-profile veto of an education reform bill teachers’ unions opposed, earning him the sincere affection of an important Democratic interest group. After leaving office, Crist set up shop at the law firm Morgan & Morgan, which is headed by one of the state’s top litigators and Democratic fundraisers. He has no shortage of Democratic friends.

In effect, Crist could take the Mitt Romney path to a new party’s nomination: triumphing over a divided set of opponents not as the candidate Democrats love but as the candidate they need to win.

>>>Asked if Crist might have trouble winning over Democratic primary voters, John Morgan had a rapid-fire response: “No more than Rick Perry had winning over Republicans in Texas after he switched or Ronald Reagan in California.”

FLORIDA DEMOCRATS SAY CHARLIE CRIST MUST PROVE HIMSELF by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Among Florida Democrats, however, Crist’s speech isn’t viewed as simply a one-time convention event but as the potential beginning of a two-year quest for the 2014 Democratic nomination for governor.

It’s OK with me” that Crist is speaking at the convention, said Bunny Steinman, the president of the Democratic Club of Greater Boynton and a convention delegate.

But if Crist decides to run for governor as a Democrat, Steinman said, “Let him first prove himself as a Democrat. I don’t known if I’d call this a first step. It’s a baby step. He’s got to make some big steps to prove he’s a Democrat…. Let’s see if he’s out there supporting all our Democratic candidates.”

Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel said Crist’s endorsement of Obama is “one of the minimal things you have to do to run for governor.”

TIME: FLA. DEMOCRATS SMART TO TAKE CRIST IN

Could a Crist comeback mean a revival of the more moderate, bipartisan politics we’ve given up for dead in America? Probably not, at least in the short run. But Crist’s backing of Obama, himself a believer in post-partisan governance, does help the President’s re-election prospects. And if Obama wins, which will likely have to include winning Florida, it will be a vindication for Crist, who in his Tampa Bay Times endorsement insisted that he stood with Obama on the stimulus in 2009 “because uniting to recover from the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes was more important than party affiliation.”

That sounds familiar. And if things go Obama’s way in November, it might not sound so quaint.

SHOTS ACROSS THE BOW

“I served with Charlie Crist in Tallahassee for four years and heard him say many times what a conservative Republican he is, so he’ll have a lot of explaining to do.” — Alex Sink

““I was raised a Baptist, and if you want to leave your church and join our congregation, that’s fine with us. That doesn’t mean we necessarily make you minister.” — Rod Smith

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NEW PATRICK MURPHY AD: ‘MAYBE CONGRESS NEEDS A LITTLE MORE BORING RIGHT NOW’

Patrick Murphy’s congressional campaign will air its third television ad of the general election.  Entitled “CPA,” the 30-second spot is backed by a significant buy on network and cable TV in the West Palm Beach-Treasure Coast market. Watch here.

SCOTT SPOX BRIAN BURGESS MOVES TO FLORIDA GOP

The Governor’s office announced that Governor Rick Scott’s longtime aide, Brian Burgess, will leave his post as Director of Communications to lead the media relations and communications efforts at the Republican Party of Florida beginning September 17th.

In conjunction with the move, Governor Scott announced that Melissa Sellers will begin serving as communications director for the Governor’s office on September 10th.  Sellers most recently served as the Director of Regional Media for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.  Before that, she served as communications director for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal during his campaign for governor in 2007 and his first term in office.

PERSONNEL NOTE: JON COSTELLO, FORMERLY RICK SCOTT’S LEG. AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, BACK AT LOBBYING FIRM

Jon Costello, who announced last month he was stepping down as Gov. Rick Scott’s legislative affairs director, will join the Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell legal and lobbying firm, reports the News Service of Florida. Costello, who previously worked at the firm, will manage its governmental affairs practice, according to a news release Tuesday. Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell has a lengthy list of lobbying clients, including pari-mutuel facilities, HCA Healthcare, Kraft Foods Global and MillerCoors LLC.

MIKE FASANO TAKES AIM AT LISA EDGAR APPOINTMENT 

Sen. Mike Fasano, a frequent critic of the Florida Public Service Commission, has urged Gov. Rick Scott to not reappoint Lisa Edgar to another term on the utility-regulatory panel, reported the News Service of Florida.

Fasano, in a letter sent last week to Scott and released to the news media Tuesday, wrote that the commission has become “too cozy” with utilities and that Edgar should be replaced by someone else who would bring a “new perspective” to the panel. “You have the unique opportunity to continue ‘cleaning house’ at the PSC and appoint someone without the long-term ties to the utility world that she has,” the New Port Richey Republican wrote. Edgar has served on the PSC since 2005, and her term is set to expire Jan. 1. She is seeking reappointment and is one of four finalists for the post. “I believe Gov. Scott will review experience and qualifications and will make the right choice,” she said Tuesday when asked about Fasano’s letter.

OUTSIDE GROUP BEGINS ATTACKING DARREN SOTO IN COMPETITIVE SD 14 RACE by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

An outside group known only as “Progressives” has begun attacking state Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, who is campaigning for an open Senate seat against Republican personal-injury lawyer Will McBride.

The group, which was only formed a week ago, has paid for mailers slamming Soto for supporting a National Rifle Association-backed bill in 2008 that made it legal for Florida employees to keep guns in their cars when they park at work. The controversial legislation — which critics derided as the “Guns to Work” bill — has drawn fresh scrutiny since the shooting earlier this year of Sanford teenagerTrayvon Martin.

Soto was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote for the bill, which was sponsored by Republican lawmakers under then-House Speaker and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Thanks to Darren Soto, your co-workers can bring guns to work,” the mailer reads. “Darren Soto may be looking out for the right-wing agenda, but he’s certainly not looking out for our safety.”

Democratic strategists say the mailer was sent to Democratic voters in Senate District 14, which is majority Hispanic and stretches from Orlando to Polk County. Registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, though strategists say the party allegiance is loose.

SUIT FILED IN HD 107 RACE

The Attorney for  Democratic state House candidate John Julien said he filed suit on Tuesday in a Leon County Circuit Court in over the outcome of his race with Barbara Watson for House District 107. Julien, who lost to Watson by 13 votes, is asking the court to invalidate absentee ballots from two precincts in the Miami-Dade County based House district. Julien is being represented by attorney JC. Planas, a Republican former state lawmaker from Miami.  “We have meticulously researched the facts in this case and have very good evidence that the fraud in District 107 is concentrated in (assisted living facilities) and nursing homes,” he said. Watson’s campaign did not immediately respond Tuesday. Julien is the second Democrat to challenge his loss in the Aug. 14 primary. Mack Bernard has also asked the court to overturn his loss in a state Senate race to Jeff Clemens.  Planas also represents Bernard.

FLORIDA MINORITIES NOT RECOVERING FROM RECESSION, FIU REPORT SHOWS

Florida’s slow job creation during the recovery has created growing inequalities among workers, according to the “State of Working Florida” report released Monday by Florida International University.

“Minority groups were hit much harder,” said Bernardo Oseguera, author of the report for FIU Research Institute on Social & Economic Policy, which features an unfinished condominium on its cover.

…Blacks and Hispanics have borne the brunt of the recession, with higher joblessness and a recovery that has been weak or non-existent, the report said. And while women were less affected during the recession, men are getting more of the jobs in the recovery.

NEW LOOK FOR DEPT. OF VETERAN AFFAIRS

The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs launches a new outreach and branding campaign to help it better reach the state’s more than 1.6 million veterans with a new logo, website, mobile app, public service announcement and radio spot. It will be held in the Cabinet Room of the Capitol.

LAKELAND MAYOR GOW FIELDS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF LEAGUE OF MAYORS

Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields has been elected president of the Florida League of Mayors for the 2012-13 term. Fields, who was elected to the Lakeland City Commission in 1992, became mayor in 2010.

“I’m proud to serve as president of the Florida League of Mayors,” Fields said. “City governments are the government closest to the people. Mayors are keenly aware of the challenges our communities and state face and are uniquely positioned to help craft real solutions and effectively implement them as a full partner with the State of Florida.”

The Florida League of Mayors also elected new members to its 21-member Board of Directors, responsible for governing the organization. The new members of the Board are:

• Mayor Adam Berringer, City of New Smyrna Beach
• Mayor Randall Henderson, City of Fort Myers; and
• Mayor Rocky Randels, City of Cape Canaveral.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Core Message’s Valerie Wickboldt.

LIBERALS MORE LIKELY THAN CONSERVATIVES to use social networking sites, according to a new survey from Pew Research. 74% of internet users who describe themselves as liberal use SNS and 70% of internet users who are moderate are SNS users —that compares with 60% of conservative internet users who are SNS users. The chart below shows what proportion of the entire population — not just internet users — falls into these categories.

MEDIA NOTE: Former Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas, who had recently taken a job as a top adviser to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, has left to take a top post with the education foundation run by past Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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.