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Sunburn for January 5 – The future of the free world is at stake today

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.

THE FUTURE OF THE FREEDOM-LOVING WORLD IS AT STAKE TODAY!  Today, at 9 a.m. in the rather nondescript Room 412 of the Knott Building at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Auditor General Sherrill Norman will use a Microsoft Excel random number generation program to assign the district numbers to Florida’s forty state Senate seats.

With this lottery, so goes the fate of the freedom-loving world.

OK, maybe that’s a little over the top, but which districts draw which numbers will absolutely determine the fate of several Florida politicos, including two Senate President aspirants. And as we’ve witnessed these past four years as Andy Gardiner, John Thrasher, Joe Negron and Jack Latvala have all engaged in  Tallahassee’s version of Game of Thrones to determine who would lead the Senate, the well-being of the state is somewhat  connected to who sits in the Iron Throne.

Pasco County’s Wilton Simpson needs an even-numbered district like a poker player needs just one card to draw to an inside straight. With an even-numbered district, Simpson gets to run in 2016 for a two-year term and then again in 2018 for a four-year term, thereby giving him enough time in the Legislature to serve as Senate President in 2020-2022.

But if Simpson’s district gets an odd number, he “only” gets to run for a four year seat in 2016 and will be termed out before he can see his ambitions realized.

With the drawing of a number, the Florida Senate either has a clear line of succession through 2022 or it has another season of chess-boarding.

Like the next season of Game of Thrones — the first one being produced before author George H. H. Martin finishes the source material in the book — we have no idea what happens in the Florida Senate if the wrong number is picked today.

MORE NUMBERING DRAMA via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Like Simpson, Sen. Tom Lee was elected in 2012 from an even-numbered district … and re-elected in 2014. But if Lee is assigned an odd-numbered district in (today’) random drawing, he could face having to run for a four-year term in November and his career would end in 2020. … Another lawmaker watching what happens closely is Sen. Anitere Flores elected in 2010 from an odd-numbered district. Under normal circumstances, she would have run for a four-year term in 2016, giving her a 10-year Senate career. But if she draws an even-numbered district from which to run next fall, she’ll serve for two more years and will be out of office in 2018.

MY TAKE: 5 FLORIDA POLS SCREWED BY THE REDISTRICTING RULING

Flores – One of the classiest members of the Legislature, there may not be a Republican state Senator who ended 2015 in a worse position than Flores. Earlier this year, Flores, the chief lieutenant to Negron, was primed to be the powerful chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. But that plum position was dealt away to Latvala as part of the deal Negron and Latvala brokered to end their rivalry for the top spot in the chamber. Now, with Reynolds’ adoption of the map referred to as CPS4A, Flores has been drawn into the same seat as Democrat-leaning Dwight Bullard. The 36th district went for Barack Obama with 54.5 percent of the vote. Flores could move to the 38th district, but that seat also went for Obama.

Matt Gaetz – Think back to July of 2013 when former state Rep. Jimmy Patronis dropped out of the race to succeed Don Gaetz in the Florida Senate. With that, it looked like Gaetz’ son, Matt, would be a shoo-in in the Panhandle seat. But since then, the situation has become progressively worse for the younger Gaetz. First, Bay County Commissioner George Gainer jumped into the race, lending and raising substantial money for his campaign. Under CPS4A, Republican state Sen. Greg Evers — as popular a figure in north Florida as any Gaetz — has been drawn into the seat. Yes, Evers and/or Gainer could move to the open District 2 and, yes, it’s possible Evers will run for Santa Rosa County Sheriff, but none of those scenarios are a lock. Sources in north Florida say Evers might just run against Gaetz out of spite or, at the least, keep Gaetz guessing about what his intentions until the last possible moment. Matt Gaetz is still the nominal front-runner for the District 1 seat, but his path to victory has never been more cumbersome.

John Legg – The Pasco Republican finds himself between Scylla and Charybdis. On one side is Simpson, on the other is Lee.  In the game of musical chairs that is redistricting, Legg is left without a seat. He’s already said he won’t challenge Simpson if it means jeopardizing Pasco County having a Senate president. Legg is still a young man, despite his lengthy legislative experience. Might he sit out this round for a later opening?

Dwight Dudley – Don’t buy for a moment the chatter the firebrand Democrat wouldn’t jump at the chance to be in the Florida Senate. What House member wouldn’t? In the upper chamber, even Democrats can have an impact. But Dudley and any other Pinellas Democrats who were thinking of running against Republican Jeff Brandes had their legs knocked out from underneath them when the plaintiffs in the redistricting case abandoned the effort to draw a minority-access seat without it straddling Tampa Bay. On paper, Brandes’ seat went for Barack Obama and I suspect it’s even more Democratic leaning than it was in 2012, but the difference is marginal — and certainly not enough to overcome the enormous resources Brandes and the Florida GOP could dedicated to holding the seat. With other, more winnable pick-ups available to Florida Democrats, Dudley is stuck running for re-election to House District 68.

Betty Reed – Another casualty of the concession by the plaintiffs to draw a minority-access seat in Tampa Bay that does not “jump” the bay is dear ol’ Betty Reed (and, to some extent, Ed Narain). Had the minority-access been contained to Hillsborough, it’s likely Reed (or Narain) would have been on their way to succeeding Arthenia Joyner. But now that the seat picks up African-American neighborhoods in south Pinellas — including neighborhoods home to Darryl Rouson — there will be a contentious Hillsborough vs. Pinellas Democratic primary for the seat. Rouson has more baggage than an outlet mall, but he’s a much stronger campaigner than Reed.

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THE DOMINOES BEGIN TO FALL IN WAKE OF REDISTRICTING CHANGES…

BOB POE READY TO ANNOUNCE CONGRESSIONAL RUN via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Poe is preparing to announce a run for Congress in District 10 based in west Orlando … would say only that he would be “talking about his decision in the next couple of days.” However, he confirmed that he has hired Orlando-based political consultant Josh Romero as a campaign manager. Poe has been talking for many months to friends and potential supporters about entering the Democratic primary field … [Which] already has former Orlando police chief Val Demings, who ran there before and lost a close election to [DanWebster when the district still leaned Republican; state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, whose district is almost wholly contained inside CD 10; and political newcomer lawyer Fatima Fahmy.

MIKE CLELLAND WILL RUN FOR SD 13 SEAT IN 2016 via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Former Democratic Rep. Mike Clelland confirmed speculation he will run for the open state Senate seat vacated by term-limited President Andy Gardiner in 2016, corroborating accounts — first reported by Florida Politics — he will pursue a return to Tallahassee. He joins Realtor Dean Asher and Chuck Sheridan, both Republicans, as well as Democratic Orange County School Board member Rick Roach. Former Rep. Linda Stewart is also expected to join the SD 13 race.

TOM LEE MOVING TO AVOID PRIMARY WITH BILL GALVANO via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Lee says he will run in what is now Senate District 18, an open seat on the new maps just north of his eastern Hillsborough County seat. On the plan selected by [Judge GeorgeReynolds, Lee is in the same seat as Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano. If the two had remained in the same seat, it would have meant a primary between two of the chamber’s most powerful members. “I spoke to Senator Galvano Saturday and have also talked to Senate President [AndyGardiner and based upon my analysis — barring something changing [with the map] — it’s my intention to run in Senate District 18,” said Lee, who owns property in the new district. The seat covers portions of Polk and Pasco counties, but 55 percent of its residents come from eastern Hillsborough County … already represented by Lee. “It’s inconvenient for me, but much of my base is there,” Lee said. “I have represented most of that area for my entire 14 years in the Senate.”

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: ‘CARPETBAGGER’ CANDIDATE CAUSING A STIR OVER SENATE SEAT IN BLACK RIVIERA BEACH via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – Some residents of this largely African-American city in Palm Beach County say they feel “betrayed” by a Fair Districts amendment that promised minority communities better representation. “Instead we’re getting a carpetbagger,” says retired medical technician Jonnie Brown … We got a rich white woman from Boca Raton who is trying to buy herself our seat in the Florida Senate.” Brown is talking about Emily Slosberg, a 34-year-old attorney and political consultant, daughter of state Rep. Irv Slosberg … Political insiders long had predicted Emily eventually would run for her father’s House seat, but she apparently has preferred to advance her timetable and move directly to the Senate.

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STATE OF THE STATE WORKFORCE: A COMING CRISIS? Via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Per capita, Florida spends less and employs fewer people to inspect restaurants, enforce regulations and handle the paperwork produced by a modern society than any other state in the country … the State of Florida is negotiating a contract on working conditions for the nearly 14,000 members of AFSCME Local 79 employed by the state in and around Tallahassee … The current agreement expires next June 30. Contract negotiations are proceeding against the backdrop of … Scott’s proposed budget, which balances a $1-billion tax cut with no pay raises for the state workforce and the elimination of 1,386 positions and a net reduction of 864 jobs. That state of affairs is self-defeating, critics charge, since it is increasingly difficult for Florida to attract bright young people to public service, especially if the terms are worse than neighboring Alabama, Mississippi and other Southern states.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Integrity Florida will discuss a new progress report on the state’s ethics reforms. News conference begins 11 a.m. at the Florida Press Center, 336 East College Ave. in Tallahassee.

STATE TO SPLIT 14 MEDICAL MARIJUANA LICENSE CHALLENGES AMONG THREE ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGES via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … re-assigning the three Central Region challenges to Judge Elizabeth W. McArthur and the four Northeast region cases to Judge R. Bruce McKibben. Initially, the challenges all had been assigned to Judge W. David Watkins, who had presided over several medical marijuana law cases in 2014 and ’15 while the Florida Department of Health struggled to set up the state’s limited medical marijuana program. Watkins will remain busy, keeping the seven challenges filed in total in the state’s other three regions, Southeast, Southwest and Northwest. No dates have been set yet for the administrative court hearings.

TOP OP-ED — MAKE THE FLORIDA SCRUB JAY THE STATE BIRD via Mark Pafford for the Tampa Bay Times – I’m going to skip the niceties and get right down to it. The mockingbird — an obnoxious, plagiarizing and promiscuous bully — has got to go. It’s been Florida’s state bird, for no good reason, the last 88 years and that’s plenty. We need a state bird that does us proud, sets us apart and serves a greater purpose. The common mockingbird does none of those things. The Florida scrub jay, though; now here’s a bird worthy of honor … a handsome blue and slate, is native to — and remains in — our state. The mockingbird — a monotonous gray — is commonplace and all over the map. It comes and goes like the fickle-feathered fiend it is. “The scrub jay is often cited as the friendliest bird in the field,” according to Mosaic’s 2009 Sustainability Report. (If you’re a wild animal and the phosphorous folks like you, you really have to be likable.)

BEER KEG DEPOSIT BILL WOULD BENEFIT THEME PARKS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Under the measure, instead of charging certain customers a deposit on each individual keg bought, distributors could set up an “inventory and reconciliation process” in which buyers would pay up once or twice a year based on what they used … the deposit “charged to a vendor for a draft keg or container of a like brand must be uniform.” Theme parks use thousands of kegs a year, and having to keep track of each deposit has proved an administrative nightmare. “It was a reasonable compromise and a fair deal between business partners,” said Eric Criss, president of Beer Industry of Florida.

LAKE RAY BILL WOULD REQUIRE STATE BACKGROUND CHECKS OF SYRIAN REFUGEES via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics – Saying that states have the right to protect themselves from “acts of war,” [the] legislation that would compel Florida’s refugee resettlement organizations to allow state background checks on refugees being brought in from Syria and other troubled areas. “It addresses the concerns the state has and many citizens have related to refugees being brought into the state, without having any solid background checks. The federal government is doing some checks, but in appearing before Congress, they have said they really can’t tell you there aren’t some issues here. And with the events that happened in California in December, a lot of people are very leery of that,” Ray said.

TWO NEW LAWS ADDED TO STATE’S BOOKS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – (HB 369) requires “human trafficking public awareness signs” to be posted at certain locations, including “every rest area, turnpike service plaza, weigh station, primary airport, passenger rail station, and welcome center in the state which is open to the public.” The signs also must go up in emergency rooms and “strip club(s) or other adult entertainment establishment(s)” … To say in English and Spanish, “If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave — whether it is prostitution, housework, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work or any other activity — call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to 233-733 to access help and services. Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and Florida law.” (HB 541) changes the licensing and regulatory requirements for athletic trainers. New applicants for licensure will have to undergo a criminal-background check and be “certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of automated external defibrillators.”

POLICY NOTES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TAKES UP NEW FPL PLANT REQUEST

On the Florida Public Service Commission agenda is a proposed Florida Power & Light plant to be located in Okeechobee County. The plan is being opposed by both environmental groups and the state Office of Public Counsel. Meeting begins 9:30 a.m. at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way in Tallahassee.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE MEETING 

The Criminal Justice Estimating Conference will meet to assess the effect of both pending and passed legislation. Meeting begins 11 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building in the Capitol.

PUBLIC SCHOOL ENROLLMENT NUMBERS ESTIMATED 

The Education Estimating Conference will analyze Florida’s enrollment numbers for prekindergarten through 12th grades. Meeting begins 2 p.m. in room 117 of the Knott Building in the Capitol.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott and Senate President Andy Gardiner will attend the 10 a.m. grand opening of the new Field of Dreams Sports Complex, 3053 Fell Road in West Melbourne.

***A special message from Florida’s horsemen: While legislators debate using hard-earned taxpayer dollars for corporate relocation incentives, Florida employers who’ve been hard at work for decades could lose everything, thanks to “decoupling”— a Big Casino cash grab and gambling expansion plan tucked inside the Seminole Compact. It seems senseless to kill established Florida businesses, while spending public money in hopes new business may materialize. But Florida could do just that when “decoupling” leaves horse racing investors with NO WAY to do business and NO CHANCE to recoup financial return.  Gambling policy should be about growing Florida’s economy. Not padding the pockets of Big Casinos. Florida’s horsemen oppose decoupling in ANY form. NoDecoupling.com.***

— CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

IF YOU READ ONE THING — ONE YEAR, TWO RACES: INSIDE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY’S BIZARRE, TUMULTUOUS 2015 via The Washington Post – What follows is the story of how Republicans got to where they are today, told primarily through the impressions, recollections and analyses of those who lived it personally—the Republican candidates. This article is based almost entirely on on-the-record interviews with most of the major candidates—some of whom fell away—and with their advisers and other strategists. It is the story of a remarkable year in American politics.

DONALD TRUMP’S PROVOCATIVE FIRST TV AD RAISES THE TEMPERATURE OF GOP RACE via Robert Costa and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post –Trump will be spending at least $2 million per week, with $1.1 million allocated to TV in Iowa and close to $1 million spent on TV in New Hampshire … Trump’s ad begins with a shot of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Then comes a U.S. battleship launching a cruise-missile strike. It moves swiftly through an explosive montage: The suspects in the recent California terrorist attack. Shadowy figures racing across the U.S.-Mexico border. Islamic State militants … The decision to air television ads — which Trump hinted at for months, though the billionaire mogul has been loath to spend more than he deems necessary — represents a tightly produced new act for a candidate who has fed largely off free media attention … “Great Again,” makes clear that Trump’s closing pitch to voters will be as visceral and arresting as the one he delivers at raucous rallies. It is a full embrace of the most incendiary of his proposals, as opposed to the more biographical spots that some other candidates favor.

MEXICO, MOROCCO … WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? via PolitiFactTrump‘s first ad implies it shows people crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. Instead, it is of Moroccans crossing the border into Melilla, one of two enclaves on the Moroccan coast that are held by Spain.

TRUMP MEANT TO DO THAT via Politico’s 2016 Blast – Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks puts out a statement saying the use of the Moroccan footage was “intentional” and meant to show “the severe impact of an open border.”

TWEET, TWEET: @RealDonaldTrump: Woody Johnson, owner of the NYJets, is @JebBush’s finance chairman. If Woody would’ve been w/me, he would’ve been in the playoffs, at least!

JEB BUSH RELEASES PLAN TO TACKLE DRUG ADDICTION via CNN Bush, like many candidates from both parties, regularly talks about the problem, citing his daughter’s former struggle with addiction as a close-to-home example of a nationwide problem. … Bush … would take a few concrete steps if he becomes president, including re-elevating the Director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy to a cabinet-level job to help streamline prevention and law enforcement efforts. … Since many heroin users are initially addicted to pain killers, the Bush campaign said the candidate supports finding more formulations of prescription drugs that don’t become as addictive, also known as abuse deterrent formulations. Under a Bush White House, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would reduce generic pills on the market that don’t have such deterrent qualities, according to a preview of his policy. Cracking down on “pill mills” that over-prescribe medication for profit and securing the border are also on his list of prevention methods.

JUST OFF EMBARGO — BUSH’S MEDIUM POST – ADDRESSING THE HEARTBREAK OF ADDICTION I never expected to see my precious daughter in jail.  It wasn’t easy, and it became very public when I was Governor of Florida, making things even more difficult for Noelle. She went through hell, so did her mom, and so did I. It’s very debilitating when you have a loved one who is struggling, and you can’t control it.  You have to love them, but you also have to make it clear you cannot enable the behavior that gets them in trouble.”

WHAT THE BUSH CAMPAIGN DOESN’T WANT YOU TO READ — BUSH HAS “MISTAKEN AND CONFLATED” STORY ABOUT RECEIVING NRA AWARD, CAMPAIGN ADMITS via BuzzFeed  A spokesman for Bush’s campaign told BuzzFeed News … that Bush had “mistaken and conflated” his story about receiving the National Rifle Association’s “statesman of the year” award. … The former Florida governor has told the story on several occasions, saying he received a rifle from then-NRA president Charlton Heston and was the recipient of the group’s “statesman of the year” honor in 2003.

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Jeb’s misstatements are morphing from the foot-in-mouth to the gun-in-mouth variety –killing his moribund candidacy

TED CRUZ AND MARCO RUBIO CLASH OVER FOREIGN POLICY via Politico Cruz and Rubio campaigned in frigid Iowa on Monday just as the war of words between them, their advisers and their allies heated up. Rubio landed in Iowa hours after delivering a national security speech in New Hampshire in which he went after Cruz, though not by name, attacking “isolationist candidates” who “talk tough” yet “would strip us of the ability to keep our people safe.”

Rubio specifically mocked Cruz’s past comments that he would make sand in the Middle East “glow in the dark” from bombings. “With what? Because they certainly can’t do it with the oldest and smallest Air Force in the history of this country,” said Rubio, who has criticized Cruz’s votes against the annual defense spending bill. … Cruz … welcomed the fire from Rubio and others as validation of his newfound front-runner status in the kickoff caucuses. But Alice Stewart, a newly minted Cruz spokeswoman who recently departed Mike Huckabee’s campaign as a top adviser, took aim back at Rubio for his speech, casting him as a reckless interventionist.

RUBIO SOUNDING MORE LIKE TRUMP? via the New York Times with a h/t to Mike Allen of Politico – Rubio until now has rejected the more strident tone of rivals like Trump for a message that is more upbeat. But recently he has attacked rivals from both parties, amplified his tough talk on terrorism and warned in more dire terms than usual that many Americans feel out of place in their own country. … While he has routinely called Obama a weak president, in his speech on Monday,  Rubio was more harsh and more personally critical. ‘When America needed a bold plan of action from our commander in chief, we instead got a lecture on love, tolerance, and gun control designed to please the talking heads at MSNBC … The result of all of this is that people are afraid. And they have every right to be.

RUBIO PAC TO HIT CHRIS CHRISTIE IN NH via Elaina Johnson of National Review – The first spot is aimed at conservative voters … ‘One high tax, Common Core, liberal energy loving, Obamacare Medicaid expanding president is enough,’ a narrator says … The second is intended to sway the moderate and independent voters … [and] highlights New Jersey’s high tax burden, low rate of job growth, and the indictment of his former aides in the Bridgegate scandal.

ACTUAL HEADLINE via Vanity Fair: “How much do Marco Rubio’s boots cost?”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush will be in Derry, New Hampshire for a forum on the state’s heroin addiction problem. That evening, the former governor will attend a town hall in Dover. Rubio will be in Iowa for town hall meetings in Cedar Rapids, Mason City and Fort Dodge. The senator will then travel to Colorado for a fundraiser.

KEY MIAMI DADE REPUBLICAN GETS SUPPORT FROM LIBERTY CAUCUS IN DISPUTE ABOUT TED CRUZ ENDORSEMENT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida is calling on Republican Party of Florida Chair Blaise Ingoglia to intervene in the dispute between Dade County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Nelson Diaz and Vice Chairman Manny Roman. Diaz says that Roman violated a party rule by publicly endorsing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz‘s presidential bid, and he has scheduled a motion to consider removing Roman as vice chairman of the REC Thursday night. Bob White, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, says it would be hypocritical for Roman to be removed from his position, considering the fact that Joe Gruters, chair of the Sarasota County Republican Executive Committee, has not been removed from his post even though he is concurrently chairman for Donald Trump’s Florida presidential campaign. “If Manny Roman is forced out in Dade County shouldn’t Joe Gruters be forced out of his leadership positions?” writes White to Ingoglia in a letter.

IN SECRET RECORDING, NUMBER 2 HOUSE DEM CALLS ON TWO FLORIDA CANDIDATES TO SIT OUT RACES via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald  Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who backs Annette Taddeo to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, headlined a fundraiser Saturday at Taddeo’s home. He appears to have been secretly recorded. The audio was obtained by America Rising, a conservative super PAC.

In his remarks, Hoyer made reference to former Rep. Joe Garcia and Andrew Korge, son of Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge. Both Garcia and the younger Korge have been mulling their own candidacies. “I want you to tell Chris,” Hoyer begins in the recording, apparently referring to Andrew Korge, “and I want you to tell Joe, ‘Look, this is not about personalities. This is about our best opportunity. Annette Taddeo, I tell you, is our best opportunity to win a seat in South Florida… That’s why I told you I contributed. Joe Garcia is my friend; I’m not down here against Joe Garcia. But I will tell you, I don’t want him to run, because I want to maximize our opportunity.”

CD 2 CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFULS SPAR AHEAD OF DEBATE via Eryn Dion of the Panama City News Herald – Mary Thomas and Neal Dunn already have begun sparring ahead of a planned March debate. Thomas …  bills herself as a “true conservative” and has repeatedly referred to Dunn as a “liberal lobbyist.” Dunn … fired back, saying he is a conservative who has made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to Republicans and supported Medicaid expansion because it came with rate increases for physicians. “Neal Dunn is a lifelong conservative who is a pillar of the community, having served our country in the Army for more than 10 years and serving our community as a physician and business leader for the last 25 years,” Sarah Bascom, spokeswoman for the Dunn campaign, said in response. “To call him a liberal or lobbyist is completely false. Thomas, who openly criticized her opponent for his monetary support of Gov. Crist, answered by saying she has “never met Charlie Crist” and had no contact with him during her work for the DCA. As an assistant, she said she was hired by the general counsel, not the former governor, and signed briefs and filings at their direction.

DEMOCRAT RANDY PERKINS SNAGS $420,000 FROM DONORS, $1 MILLION FROM SELF TO START HOUSE BID via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – When hurricane-recovery CEO Perkins launched his campaign in November for the seat [PatrickMurphy is leaving to run for Senate, rivals expected the Delray Beach millionaire to put a significant chunk of his own money into the race. But Perkins’ ability to draw money from contributors as a first-time candidate during the holiday season was a question mark. The $420,000 Perkins snagged in one month is more than any other candidate for Murphy’s District 18 seat has reported collecting in any quarter so far.

TOP FLORIDA-BASED POLLING FIRM MERGES via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – EMC Research and Hamilton Campaigns [are merging] … the new national firm, operating under the name EMC Research, will have more than 40 professionals with offices in Columbus, OH, Fernandina Beach, FL, Irving, TX, Oakland, CA, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA and Washington, D.C. Hamilton Campaigns was founded in Orlando by public opinion research pioneer Bill Hamilton in 1964, and is one of the oldest survey research firms in the country.  EMC Research was founded in 1989 and conducts opinion and market research for a wide range of political, corporate, public agency, and not-for-profit clients across the country.

FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION ELEVATES RANDY MILLER TO PRESIDENT via Florida Politics – [Former Executive Vice President] Miller also assumes the helm at sister organization Georgia Retail Association, where he was a senior executive. Longtime FRF staffers Samantha Hunter Padgett and Melissa Joiner Ramba – wife of well-known Tallahassee lobbyist David Ramba – received promotions as Miller takes over for the outgoing Rick McAllister, who retired last month.

SIX YEARS AFTER PASSING, JIM KING MAY BE GONE, BUT CERTAINLY NOT FORGOTTEN via Florida Politics –  The Jacksonville Republican was first elected to the State House in 1986 and became one of the most powerful politicians in the state, serving as Senate President from 2003-2004. King passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2009. King’s friends and colleagues have celebrated his love of the process and humor with a special happy hour — as a former Senator recalled at the time of his passing, “We could never leave the table when he was holding court.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Bruce Cotton, Christie Pontis (part of the fearsome Ladies Who Lunch crew) and former state Rep. Doc Renaurt.

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.

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