Sunburn for 9/6 — 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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START YOUR DAY WITH THESE TWO MUST-READS…

7 MILLION U.S. HOUSEHOLDS STRUGGLED TO FEED THEMSELVES IN 2012

Nearly 6 percent of American households knew severe hunger in 2012, according to a new report out from the Agriculture Department. That means that 7 million households in the United States faced what the USDA calls “very low food security,” National Journal‘s Matt Berman reports. Over the course of 2012, 17.6 million American households were more generally food-insecure at some point during the year. The numbers are also bleak for households with children, which had a higher rate of food insecurity (20 percent) than the national average for 2012. These rates particularly spiked for households led by a single woman (35.4 percent). 

KAISER: ACA PREMIUMS WILL BE ‘LOWER THAN EXPECTED.’ 

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new study concluding that individual premiums under the Affordable Care Act will be cheaper than other calculations have predicted, The Hill reports. The study, which provides a chart comparing how much the different tiers of coverage will cost in different big cities across the country, suggests that “while premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected.” The numbers also tally how much premiums will cost for people of different ages and incomes, which has been a major source of contention between the law’s supporters and detractors. Premium costs were not compared to current prices, but to recent Congressional Budget Office projections of costs under the ACA. 

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AN EPIC FALL FOR CONGRESS via POLITICO 

In the next two months, the most unpopular institution in America will decide the fates of a president’s power, a military strike, defense contracts, the budget, health-care implementation, the Federal Reserve chairmanship, illegal immigrants, and all of us who would be hit by a debt default.

It will be bitter, ugly, extremely high stakes and in every case wildly unpredictable.

PARTY CONTROL OF CONGRESS DOESN’T MATTER TO PUBLIC

A new Monmouth University poll finds 76% of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing while just 14% approve. 

When asked which chamber has been doing a better job for the country, 18% pick the House and 14% name the Senate. The majority (60%) say both have performed about the same. Unsurprisingly, Republicans are more likely to say the House (32%) rather than the Senate (7%) has done a better job. Democrats are somewhat more likely to give the Senate (20%) the edge over the House (10%). In both cases, though, a majority of partisans don’t see any difference between the two chambers’ performance.

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DEM. POLL SHOWS DEAD HEAT BETWEEN GRAHAM VS. SOUTHERLAND via William March of the Tampa Tribune

Asked whether they would vote to re-elect Southerland or elect someone else, the respondents split 40-40 percent with 20 percent undecided. In a head-to-head matchup question, results were Southerland 44 percent, Graham 42 percent and “unsure” 14 percent.

The poll was done for Emily’s List, a political action group that supports Democratic women candidates, by Clarity Campaign Labs, a relatively new Washington-based polling and political consulting firm.

The firm is Democratic-oriented, as is Emily’s List, but Marcy Stech, Emily’s List spokeswoman, said it’s reliable.

“It’s a very credible poll. We do these types of polls routinely, and often use them for our own decision-making process,” Stech said. “We have every reason to believe this will be a very competitive race. It’s clear voters are losing faith in Steve Southerland.”

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BUCKHORN WALKS BACK CRITICISM OF CRIST via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing

On Bay News 9’s Political Connections program this past Sunday, co-host Adam Smith asked Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn what he thinks about former Republican Governor Charlie Crist possibly becoming the democratic party’s 2014 nominee. ‘We could conceivably end up with a candidate who one or two years ago was saying something entirely different than where he is today,’ Buckhorn said

… (T)hose comments were featured in the Republican Party of Florida’s daily email that takes political potshots at Crist … In East Tampa … CL showed a copy of the e-mail to Buckhorn, who was surprised to see it … ‘Charlie is a friend of mine. I’ve known Charlie for a long time.'” 

CRIST MOVE SIGNALS INTENTIONS via Lloyd Dunkleberger of the Herald-Tribune

Charlie Crist celebrated the beginning of Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year — by having dinner with an old college friend on Wednesday night.

… Crist’s dinner with Geller in Florida’s most significant Democratic county is just one of a series of moves Crist is making leading up to an expected announcement next month prior to the Florida Democrats’ conference in Orlando. This weekend, Crist — who endorsed Barack Obama in last year’s presidential race and joined the Democratic Party — will be courting Democrats in Marion County.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I like Alex Sink. But there is a difference in the energy levels between Alex Sink and Charlie Crist. “There’s just a feeling of electricity. Everybody wants to be near him. Everybody wants to touch him. Everybody wants to talk to him.” — Steve Geller.

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ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DOWNPLAY OF THRASHER-FOR-LG

Another day, another downplay by Senator John Thrasher about the possibility of him filling the vacant Lieutenant Governor’s job.

When asked on Wednesday by Jacksonville’s Financial News & Daily Record how he would respond if Gov. Rick Scott offered him the job, Thrasher said, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Two weeks ago Thrasher told me, in response to a trial balloon floated in a column by the Tampa Bay Times‘ Steve Bousquet and Adam Smith about him being the frontrunner to be named Scott’s new LG, “I have not spoken to the governor or any of his staff about any of this, I believe this is just a media rumor.”

In other words, Thrasher is about to be named LG, right?

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend and deliver remarks at the Putnam County Lincoln Day Dinner. 7:00 p.m. Putnam County Shrine Club; East Palatka.

GOVERNOR’S ECONOMIST GOES TO BATTLE OVER DROP IN LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Scott’s chief economist Rebecca Rust was recruited to provide some political cover to the governor amid new reports that suggest that a major reason why Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped is because of people dropping out of the labor force.

In an unprecedented memo released Thursday afternoon, the normally-clinical Rust referred to recent unnamed economic studies. “It remains unclear why some economic analysis would rather highlight the negative factors of the economy when there are numerous indicators reflecting the improving statewide job market over the last two and half years,” she wrote.

We’re not sure what reports Rust is referring to here, but we are among several news organizations that have written about the distinction between the drop in the labor participation rate and the drop in the state’s unemployment numbers over the last two years. 

… Rust emphasized that that data used by her department, the Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, is from the U.S. Department of Labor which uses “standardized statistical methods.” Her analysis of the unemployment numbers is as “accurate as possible given the constraints and federal budgetary limitations of survey-based estimates,” she said.

She also noted there are reasons for people dropping out of the workforce and “this level of detail on the alternate reasons is not available in the monthly statistics” used to crunch the employment data.  

GOV. SCOTT WELCOMES TEN NEW GUBERNATORIAL FELLOWS

On Thursday, Florida’s prestigious Gubernatorial Fellows Program welcomed ten students into its ninth class.  The program, established in 2004 by Governor Bush, places Fellows in front-line positions within the Executive Office of the Governor and executive agencies with the goal to cultivate future leaders through immersion in the political process. The non-partisan program is overseen by a Board of public and private sector leaders including Florida Chamber of Commerce EVP David Hart, former Secretary of State Glenda Hood, and former Florida Governor Bob Martinez. For nine months, these ten Fellows will work a minimum of 20 hours per week and will receive an hourly wage for their time on the job:

Robert “Alex” Andrade, 24, Department of Transportation; Emily Colon, 26, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles; Courtney Coppola, 22, Department of Business and Professional Regulation; Matletha Fuller, 21, Department of Health; Courtney McCowen, 26, Department of Juvenile Justice; David Mica Jr., 30, Executive Office of the Governor; Carlos Paez, 23, Department of Elder Affairs; Shavecca M. Snead, 37, Department of Children and Families; and Margaret Spicer, 24, Department of Economic Opportunity.

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APPOINTED: Erick Lindblad and Ruth Stanbridge to the Florida Communities Trust.

APPOINTED: Mary Beth Vickers to the Board of Directors, Florida Healthy Kids.

JAN IGNASH, BROGAN’S SECOND-IN-COMMAND, TAPPED AS INTERIM CHANCELLOR via Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times

The Board of Governors will be asked to approve promoting Ignash, the vice chancellor and chief academic officer, at its Sept. 12 meeting. 

Ignash just moved to Florida last year. Before that, she was deputy director and chief academic officer of Washington state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board. That state’s lawmakers dissolved the board in 2012 and transitioned its duties to a new office.

As interim chancellor, she will oversee the state’s 12 public universities.

LIVING UP TO ITS NAME, FLA. DEPT. OF AG LAUNCHES CONSUMER-FRIENDLY WEBSITE

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced the launch of a new, interactive and consumer-friendly website for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Thursday.  

The new website features a search function on the home page that will allow users to search any topic and get to the right page quickly. The consumer hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA and a live chat are also featured prominently, encouraging Floridians to contact the department for consumer assistance and information.  Consumers can see what crops are in season, find recipes developed by Florida Chef Justin Timineri, post comments and share their favorites on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest. An interactive and searchable database shows Floridians the extent of seafood testing conducted after the 2010 Gulf oil spill and assures them that Florida seafood is safe. Another interactive feature is a map that allows anyone to find events and activities throughout the state. Users can narrow their search by type of activity and location and click to find more information.

‘LOCAL WORKS’ DAY CELEBRATED TODAY IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE STATE

communities across Florida will celebrate Local Works Day today as a day to bring attention to the countless actions local government employees perform for millions of Floridians each day. Public works are easy to take for granted, yet they weave together the tapestries of our communities.

“The purpose of Local Works Day is to engage, educate and interact with citizens by celebrating the trusted services that local governments provide to enhance communities across Florida,” said Chief Philip Thorne, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “Local government is the level of government most trusted by Americans, and that’s thanks to the hard work and tireless activities of dedicated public servants.”

On September 6, Florida Local Government Coalition members will celebrate Local Works Day in a variety of ways, including live and virtual demonstrations of public safety equipment, open houses for citizens, civic engagement opportunities for students and presentations on how to utilize social media as a way to communicate the value of local services. Local authorities will also educate students about the many indispensable services provided by local governments, with a focus on the latest technologies.

To learn more about Local Works Day and events in your community, visit www.floridagovcoalition.com.

>>>Use the hashtag #LocalWorksDay on Twitter to share stories and photos of local events.

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COURT RECORDS SHOW EFFORT TO INCLUDE POLITICAL CONSULTANTS IN REDISTRICTING PROCESS via Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida

Political consultants were barred from discussions about how to draw Florida’s legislative and congressional districts only after lawyers for the Legislature determined those conversations wouldn’t be shielded from the courts.

In a deposition that is part of a lawsuit over the 2012 redistricting process, Republican consultant Marc Reichelderfer said the decision to exclude outside consultants from discussions wasn’t made until after lawyers advised that the conversations wouldn’t be “privileged,” meaning they wouldn’t be exempt from review in court.

In the deposition, Reichelderfer discussed two meetings: One held Dec. 3, 2010, with invitees who included political consultants, lawyers, and individuals who would later direct the crafting of the lines. That meeting has been widely reported because of previous documents released in a lawsuit brought by voting-rights organizations against the maps for state Senate and congressional districts.

According to the House, political consultants were told then that they wouldn’t be involved in the map-drawing process.

But Reichelderfer seemed to place that warning later, during a second meeting that took place sometime in January or February 2011. Reichelderfer told lawyers for the voting-rights groups that he didn’t remember who was at that meeting, though it included attorneys from the firm GrayRobinson.

“That’s when the news was delivered that there is not going to be privilege attached,” Reichelderfer said, according to a transcript of the depositions filed in Leon Circuit Court. “That’s when anybody of the political class was no longer included in the meetings.

“So there may have been meetings among staff and lawyers of the House, but I was no longer included in those meetings from that point forward,” he continued.

MATT GAETZ OP-ED: KEEP DIVISIVE POLITICS OUT OF ‘Stand Your Ground’ DEBATE via Context Florida

Has “Stand Your Ground” been misapplied or misunderstood by an occasional prosecutor or judge? Like most criminal statutes, of course it has. After all, our judicial system is designed to tilt every advantage to the accused. It’s not perfect, but it is the fairest system of law and order in human history.

As the Criminal Justice Subcommittee moves to ensure the public fully understands the history and reason behind Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, we must be careful not to subvert open and purposeful discussion with self-serving appeals intended to hurt and divide us. “Stand Your Ground” was not a partisan issue in 2005. Every Democratic senator voted for “Stand Your Ground.” Every member of the Senate Black Caucus voted for “Stand Your Ground.” Let’s not turn something as important as self-defense into a partisan issue today.

I’m glad that in Florida we don’t change our laws to pacify a minority of protesters and pundits. I’m glad that the voices of Floridians, who favor “Stand Your Ground” by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, matter most. I’m glad that political “compromise” is unlikely to compromise the safety of your family.

I look forward to a review of the “Stand Your Ground” law. We will analyze why this law is necessary, who it protects and, if it were repealed, whose side the Legislature would be taking in that dimly lit parking lot or that darkened college dormitory.

SEN. DWIGHT BULLARD WANTS LEGISLATION TO HELP THE WRONGLY CONVICTED via Kathleen Haughney of the Sun-Sentinel

Bullard said Thursday that would not let the state impose the death penalty unless there was DNA evidence linking the accused to the crime.

“Over the past several years there has been a paradigm shift from being tough on crime to being smart on crime. In the state of Florida alone, inmates on death row cost Florida taxpayers $1 million,” Bullard said in a press release.  “The excessive use of taxpayer dollars, coupled with the number of individuals continuing to be found innocent due to DNA is too compelling to ignore and we as lawmakers must make sure we get things right when looking at capital punishment.”

Under the legislation, SB 148, the accused must take a DNA test.

The state can only impose the death penalty if the accused has confessed to the crime or if technology can demonstrate the accused is guilty.

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AS SPAT WITH STATE DEMOCRATS CONTINUES, REP. DARRYL ROUSON OPENS AFFILIATED PARTY COMMITTEE via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

Underscoring his rift with the Florida Democratic Party, last month the lawmaker in line to be the House’s next top Democrat opened a fundraising committee that allows him to raise and control campaign cash outside of party influence.

The so-called “Affiliated Party Committees” will allow incoming Minority Leader Darryl Rouson to raise unlimited sums of money, which can’t be spent without his approval. The committee will have a bank account and treasurer separate from the party.

As incoming leader, Rouson is in charge of the House Victory operation, which is responsible for coordinating House campaigns. Usually the member coordinating House campaigns for either party works closely with state party. In this case, however, there has been a sour relationship between Rouson and state Democrats.

The Florida Democratic Party was not consulted before Rouson created the committee Aug. 19, according to party spokesman Joshua Karp.

“We found out this week,” he said.

TWEET, TWEET: @MattGaetz: Step1 @darrylrouson accused of being fired and broke. Step2 he sets up slush fund only he controls.

SEN. JEFF BRANDES ENDORSES CHRIS SPROWLS FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 65

Sen. Jeff Brandes announced his endorsement Thursday for Chris Sprowls’ House District 65 campaign, saying that Sprowls is the best candidate to represent the residents of north Pinellas county.  

Brandes also touted Sprowls for being a tenacious public advocate.  “His selfless dedication to those who wore the uniform demonstrates the kind of character and service needed in the Florida House. His career of public service at the State Attorney’s Office speaks for itself; from his work protecting women in domestic violence to his service to the elderly, the people of District 65 could ask for no one better to serve them in the Florida House,” Brandes said of Sprowls.

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REPS. BILECA, DIAZ AND TRUJILLO FUNDRAISER SET FOR SEPT. 25

Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli and Chairmen Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva invite you to a fundraising reception to benefit the reelection campaigns of Reps. Michael Bileca, Jose Felix Diaz, and Carlos Trujillo. Join them on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Highpoint Center, 14th Floor, in Tallahassee.

REPS. FITZENHAGEN, MAGAR, PETERS AND RASCHEIN FUNDRAISER TO BE HELD ON SEPT. 25

Representatives Heather Fitzenhagen, MaryLynn Magar, Kathleen Peters, and Holly Raschein are rising leaders within the Florida House.  Join Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli, and Chairmen Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva for a fundraising reception to benefit their respective re-election campaigns on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the Governors Club BC Room.

SEPT. 12 FUNDRAISER SET FOR KATHLEEN PETERS’ REELECTION

The Republican Party of Pinellas County invites you to a campaign kick-off fundraiser to benefit the re-election of Kathleen Peters. Join Sen. Jack Latvala, Mayors Bob Minning, Steve McFarlin and Travis Palladeno, Rick Baker, and others for the meet-and-greet on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center.

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ICYMI: MIKE HIGHTOWER NAMED NEW CHAIRMAN OF ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES

Associated Industries of Florida announced its new board chair – Mike Hightower, Florida Blue’s Vice President, Governmental and Legislative Affairs.

Hightower was voted in by the AIF Board of Directors during the association’s Annual Conference on August 21. 

“Associated Industries of Florida is honored and proud that Mike will be continuing his legacy of service as our new board chair. His sterling reputation and vast experience in this state will serve our members well as AIF continues to expand and grow. Under Mike’s leadership, we will build on our strong history of successful advocacy for the business community in both the legislative and political arenas,” said Tom Feeney, AIF President and CEO. 

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Carol Bracey, Sylvester Lukis, Ballard Partners: City of Marathon

Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: Kids Wish Network

Stephen Hill, A. Stephen Hill & Associates: Guidance Clinic of the Middle Keys, Inc.

David Ramba, Ramba Consulting: BYDSSE Gaming, LLC

PAC CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN SEPTEMBER via POLITICO Influence

The Public Affairs Council’s State and Local Government Relations Conference will be held Sept. 25-27 in Washington. The conference will cover topics ranging from legislative tracking tools to forming coalitions and creating crisis communications plans. Speakers from RSLC, the DGA, Target, UnitedHealthcare, General Mills, MasterCard, the American Beverage Association, Eli Lilly, Verizon, CH2M Hill and elsewhere are on the schedule. More information here. Full line-up is here.

WEEKEND TV

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Former congressman Jim Davis, former state Senator Paula Dockery, the Tampa Tribune‘s William March and WTSP’s Mike Deason.

Political Connections on Orlando’s 13 News: Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Jim DeMint and Brad Woodhouse

The Usual Suspects on Tallahassee’s WCTV: Gary Fineout and Dara Kam

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CITIZENVESTOR TO HOST OPEN HOUSE ON SEPT. 12

On September 12, Citizenvestor.com will celebrate the one year anniversary of its launch. To commemorate this milestone, co-founders Tony DeSisto and Jordan Raynor are hosting an open house at their brand new office in downtown Tampa at 518 N. Tampa St., Suite 280.

Join them between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. for light snacks, brief remarks and a sneak peek into things to come.

MATH IS AMERICA’S “MOST VALUABLE SUBJECT”, BUT FAVORED MOST STRONGLY BY CONSERVATIVES via contributor Karen Cyphers

Math may not be the most popular subject in school, but it is the clear winner when Americans are asked which subject has been the most valuable to them in their lives. According to a Gallup survey released Wednesday, math earns the vote of more than one-third of respondents (34%) followed by English/literature at 21 percent. While these findings are consistent with responses from August 2002, science/physics/biology has dramatically increased in its “value” over the past decade from 4 percent in 2002 to 12 percent today.

Conservatives and moderates both see math as a clear winner (38% and 35%, respectively), while liberals are about as likely to see math and English as equally valuable (26% for math, 24% for English).  Economics earns the vote of 2 percent of conservatives, 3 percent of moderates, and 1 percent of liberals; while art/theater/music is considered most valuable by 1 percent of conservatives, 2 percent of moderates, and 4 percent of liberals. Full post here.

NEARLY ONE-QUARTER OF US SPOUSES BORN IN ANOTHER COUNTRY via contributor Karen Cyphers

Out of the 55.5 million married-couple households in the United States, over one out of five of them (21 percent) have at least one spouse born in another country. According to a US Census Bureau report released today, about 13 percent (7.3 million) of married-couple households are comprised of two foreign-born spouses, and the remaining 7 percent have one native-born and one foreign-born spouse. These data, collected from the American Community Survey, focused only on those couples in which both spouses are present in a household, and not those where one spouse is absent.

Among the mixed-nativity households, the foreign-born spouse was more likely to be the wife (55 percent) than the husband.   Geographically, foreign-born spouses in the US are most likely to have been born in Latin America and the Caribbean (40 percent), followed by Europe (26 percent) and Asia (23 percent).  Among the states, Hawaii had the highest percentage of mixed-nativity married-couple households (16 percent); Mississippi, South Dakota and West Virginia each had the lowest percentages (2 percent); and Florida is among the seven US states with between 9 and 11.9 percent.  

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Jen Greenfield and Valerie Wickboldt. Celebrating today is Pinellas GOP chair Michael Guju, Abel Harding, former Congressman Kendrick Meek.

ROCK BY THE SEA CHARITY EVENT RETURNS TO ST. GEORGE ISLAND WITH BATTLE OF THE BANDS & THE 4TH ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT

Music plus golf equals a chance to give, at least for those set to participate in the Rock by the Sea charity event this weekend.  Rock by the Sea returns to St. George Island, hosting its 1st Annual Battle of the Bands in conjunction with the 4th Annual Rock by the Tee golf tournament to benefit Camp Sunshine Programs for Children with Cancer, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and Panama City’s Anchorage Children’s Home.

The Battle of the Bands will take place this weekend at Harry A’s restaurant, with musicians from around Florida who will battle their way to the top each night.  The golf tournament will take place on September 7 at St. James Bay Golf Resort in Carrabelle.  It will be organized as a modified Florida scramble with prizes being awarded for first through third place and the potential to win a $10,000 hole-in-one prize. This tournament is a First Round Qualifying Tournament for THE BIG TOURNAMENT.  Golfers of all experience levels are encouraged to register online at the Rock by the Sea website for the charity tournament.  To buy tickets, please go to RockbytheSea.org.

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.