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Sunburn for November 10 – Debate night in America

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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 political world will focused on Milwaukee tonight, as the Republican presidential candidates engage in their fourth debate of the political season, this time on the Fox Business Channel starting at 9 p.m. eastern.

Ben Carson has been feeling the intense media scrutiny that comes with being a front-runner, though in fact he remains second to Donald Trump in many polls.

There will be a little more room for debate and discussion tonight as Fox Business has whittled down the main stage to 8 candidates, with the biggest omission being New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, relegated to the “kiddies table” debate at 7 p.m. (which will include only four candidates).

There will be lots of pressure on Jeb Bush, who admittedly tanked in the previous debate in Boulder and has since hired a media coach to raise his performance on the stage.

Marco Rubio has received shining marks from all previous debates this season, but one has to wonder when that will translate into more support at the polls. Another solid showing could truly boost his stock.

The debate will be moderated by Fox Business News anchors Maria Bartiromo and Neil Cavuto and Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker.

There will be no opening statements, but the candidates will get 90 seconds to answer a question, in addition to 30 seconds for rebuttals. There will be a short closing statements at the end of the two-hour forum.

FOR DEBATE, FOX BUSINESS AIMS TO BE THE ANTI-CNBC via Hadas Gold of POLITICO – Fox Business Network … has its claws out — not for the candidates, as its moderators vow to stick closely to the issues, but for its more famous competitor CNBC … FBN moderators Cavuto and Bartiromo insisted …  that they are aiming to be quite different from CNBC — and seemed to share the sense that CNBC’s questions veered from the strict substance of the issues. “My goal is to make myself invisible,” Cavuto, one of three moderators for the prime-time debate, said … “That I’m not the issue. … That we’re not the issue. The answers to what we’re raising become the issue.”

CAN’T FIND FOX BUSINESS NETWORK? Click here for the Fox Business channel finder.

THE DEBATE THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN via Steve Shepard of POLITICO – When Fox Business Network announced the field [for the GOP debate] … it was based off the four most recent public polls conducted through Nov. 4 — criteria that ultimately bumped … Christie and … Huckabee off the main stage … another poll conducted during Fox’s timeframe … would have placed Christie and Huckabee in the primetime debate if only it had been publicly released prior to Fox Business’ announcement … McClatchy-Marist poll was conducted Oct. 29-Nov. 4 … it clearly meets all of Fox Business’ requirements: It was conducted by live interviewers calling landlines and cellphones over the designated time period … [If] included, it would have replaced the oldest of the four surveys … would have had a big impact: Huckabee would have vaulted to 2.8 percent in the average and Christie would have registered 2.5 percent exactly — both meeting the 2.5-percent threshold Fox designated for inclusion in the debate. Adding the McClatchy-Marist poll would have led to one other change: Pataki is at 1 percent in the poll, which would have bumped him into the undercard debate.

JEB BUSH AIMS TO DEBATE ON HIS TERMS, AFTER POOR START via Thomas Beaumont of the South Florida Sun Sentinel –  Bush has a plan for the Republican presidential debate in Wisconsin … Don’t treat it like, well, a debate … he acknowledges he’s “gotta get better” on the debate stage  … he’s spending less time rehearsing and sees the prime-time forum as more of a moderated conversation than a real debate. “Whatever you call it, it’s not a debate … It’s a chance to be able to say what you think. And I’m going to take advantage of that.”

RUBIO-MENTUM – Marco Rubio emerged from the last debate as one of the clear winners, yet questions remain about his ability to build upon his newfound momentum. Look for his opponents to do everything they can to stop him. Both Bush and Donald Trump have identified Rubio as their chief rival. Trump in particular has intensified attacks in recent days, calling Rubio “a lightweight choker” and “a highly overrated politician” in a series of tweets on the eve of the debate. Rubio won a pointed exchange with Bush in the last meeting, but the target on his back is growing. To become a winner Tuesday night, he’ll have to respond to direct attacks from Trump, a far more skilled showman than Bush.

CRUZ’S MOVE – A quiet consensus is emerging among many Republicans that Ted Cruz is poised to become a major player in the 2016 contest. The freshman senator scored points in the last debate by lashing out at the moderators. But media bashing alone won’t give Cruz a path to his party’s nomination. Cruz is courting the same bloc of voters now leaning toward Trump and Carson. To truly emerge as a top-tier candidate, he needs one of the two — if not both — to fall. Cruz has so far resisted attacking them publicly. With just two debates remaining before the Iowa caucuses, the Texas senator doesn’t have much time to make his move. Watch to see whether he continues to play nice or begins to distinguish himself from his outsider rivals.

BEN CARSON TRIES TO MOVE ON FROM QUESTIONS BUT GOP DEBATE LOOMS via the Associated Press – Carson says it’s time to move on from questions about the accuracy of his life story. But [the upcoming] GOP debate makes that unlikely. [Carson said] that questions about discrepancies in his autobiography are distractions from “much more important” matters facing the country and that he’d discuss any “real” scandal uncovered about his past. He strongly disputed any dishonesty or wrongdoing. “Every single day, every other day or every week, you know, they’re going to come out with, ‘Well, you said this when you were 13’ … The whole point is to distract the populace, to distract me …If you’ve got a real scandal, if you’ve got something that’s really important, let’s talk about that.”

CHRIS CHRISTIE SHRUGS OFF LATEST SETBACK AFTER DEBATE DOWNGRADE via Jill Colvin of the Associated Press – Christie has a new slogan: No whiners here … trying to put a positive spin on being relegated to the “kiddie table” at [the GOP] debate for the first time …”We’re not whiners and moaners and complainers in the Christie campaign … Give me a podium, give me a stage, put the camera on, we’ll be just fine.”

— “Does Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio have the best pre-debate chance?” via Nate Silver, Harry Enten and Micah Cohen of

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BUSH SAYS HE’D KILL ‘BABY HITLER’ IF HE COULD TRAVEL IN TIME via Thomas Beaumont of the Associated Press –”Hell, yeah, I would. Look, you gotta step up, man” … talking about his new book, “Reply All.” [Bush] writes about email he received while governor … asked about some of the strangest emails he’s received … “It said, ‘If you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, would you? I need to know.'”

STAT OF THE DAY via David Lightman and Anita Kumar of McClatchy Washington Bureau – 58. That’s the percentage of Republican voters who say they like Bush less after they learn more about him, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. A problematic number for Miami’s comeback hopes. “He came with the expectation he was the smart Bush … That’s not what he’s showing.”

BUSH ALLIES THREATEN WAVE OF HARSH ATTACKS ON RUBIO via Maggie Habermas and Michael Barbaro of the New York Times – The cash-rich group aiding Bush’s White House run has filmed a provocative video casting his rival Rubio as ultimately unelectable because of his hard-line stand against abortion. … That group, which has raised more than $100 million, has asked voters in New Hampshire how they feel about Mr. Rubio’s skipping important votes in the Senate. … And the group’s chief strategist has boasted of his willingness to spend as much as $20 million to damage  Rubio’s reputation and halt his sudden ascent in the polls, according to three people told of the claim.

Rubio and his team are bracing for it and preparing to counter it by sifting through hours of video footage for instances in which Bush spoke about Mr. Rubio as an admiring ally, not a political foe. … Asked about the multiple videos of Mr. Bush praising Mr. Rubio over the years, (Mike) Murphy said of Rubio: “We all supported him for the Senate. We all support him staying there, because he is far from proving he is ready and experienced enough to be president of the United States in a dangerous time.”

FLASHBACK to October 25 — @SaintPetersBlog: Bushworld will burn down Rubioworld if Jeb leaves race.

RUBIO SEES GAIN IN SOUTH CAROLINA, POLL SHOWS via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Monmouth University Poll of likely Republican South Carolina voters: Carson – 28 percent … Trump – 27 percent … Rubio – 11 percent (up from 6 percent in August) … Cruz – 9 percent … Bush – 7 percent (down from 9 percent in August).

— “Huge and impressive hire by Marco Rubio” via Erick Erickson

RUBIO HELPS BIG CAMPAIGN DONOR, PRESSURES ARGENTINA FOR FULL DEBT REPAYMENT via David Sirota and Andrew Perez of the International Business Times– The Senate Foreign Relations Committee isn’t typically seen as one of Congress’ “money” panels … Rubio may be the exception … used his position on the committee to slam Argentina, and now landed a major presidential campaign donor who could make a fortune off that country, if Rubio’s criticism compels the South American nation to submit to its creditors’ demands … donor in question is hedge fund mogul Paul Singer … financed his huge political donations to Republicans over the years with the fortune he amassed by — among other things — purchasing debt from troubled nations at discounted prices and then suing for full repayment.

DONALD TRUMP SUGGESTS STARBUCKS BOYCOTT via John O’Connor of the Associated Press – Trump is suggesting boycotting Starbucks over the minimalist design of its annual holiday cups. “Did you read about Starbucks? No more Merry Christmas on Starbucks,” Trump told a capacity crowd of thousands gathered to hear him speak at a pre-debate rally in Springfield, Illinois on Monday evening. “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know,” he said

ARE AD-BLOCKERS GOING TO RUIN $1 BILLION IN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ADS? via Zac Montelllaro of the National Journal –  Ad-block­ing is be­ing used by 45 mil­lion In­ter­net users in the United States alone … an even bleak­er pic­ture for Amer­ic­an ad­vert­isers and pub­lish­ers: 47 per­cent of Amer­ic­an In­ter­net users in their sur­vey re­por­ted reg­u­larly us­ing ad-block­ing soft­ware to screen out on­line ads, and roughly three-in-10 will “act­ively avoid sites where ads in­ter­fere with the con­tent.” Com­pan­ies aren’t just track­ing the pre­val­ence of ad-block­ers, they’re also try­ing to find ways around them … chan­ging their busi­ness mod­els to en­com­pass oth­er meth­ods that go past the tra­di­tion­al ban­ner and pop-up ads. Ad­vert­isers are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to mo­bile to reach po­ten­tial voters. And while there is an abil­ity to block some ads on mo­bile devices, it does present prime real es­tate for ad­vert­isers.

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FLORIDA DEMOCRATS BASH ALAN GRAYSON FOR “SELF-CENTERED RHETORIC” AGAINST PATRICK MURPHY via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Rod Smith and Nan Rich were among a handful of state Dems who rebuked U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson Monday for harsh comments he made against Senate rival U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy last week… Grayson went in on Murphy at a meeting of the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee  last Thursday… repeating his refusal to support Murphy for the Senate… should [he] win the nomination… “[W]hen you do what Patrick’s done to directly attack me personally you can’t seriously expect that that means I’m going to fall into line.”

CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA TO ANNOUNCE C. FL. ENDORSEMENTS via Frank Torres of – Lopez-Cantera is expected to announce the endorsements of several Central Florida State lawmakers as early as today … State Representatives Rene Plasencia, David Santiago, Bob Cortes and Scott Plakon … have told the Observer they will be supporting Lopez-Cantera next year in his bid to replace Marco Rubio in the Senate.

PAM BONDI WON’T ASK COURT TO BLOCK POT MEASURE via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Bondi … is staying on the sidelines this time around … remaining silent on whether the Supreme Court should block the latest version of the ballot initiative … Bondi’s new position marks a victory for supporters of the medical marijuana measure.

LAWYER FOR SOLAR INITIATIVE PREDICTS ‘NO FISCAL IMPACT’ via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Attorney Neal McAliley of the White & Case law firm, representing Consumers for Smart Solar, spoke before the Financial Impact Estimating Conference …  told the panel the amendment essentially would be a net wash on state finances. Now, homeowners can put solar panels on their roofs because of the “absence of a prohibition,” McAliley said. The amendment would create “an affirmative right” to own or lease solar equipment on one’s property, he added.  “I have them on my roof.”

LATINO LABOR ORGANIZATION TO BEGIN VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) said today that they will be launching a national campaign aimed at educating Latinos on the importance of voting in Florida, Colorado, and Texas. “The Latino community is growing rapidly in the U.S., both in population and in our contribution to the economic and social life of this nation … Our voters are eager to find candidates who take them seriously and are ready to invest in the economy, improve our schools and immigration system, and defend our rights.” The four-decades-old national organization is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and represents the interests of approximately 2 million Latino trade unionists throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

TOP COLUMN: FLORIDA — A STATE WITH A WAL-MART SENSIBILITY via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times – Turns out, the similarities have been staring us in the face for years … Price cuts = tax cuts … Uninsured employees = uninsured residents … No frills merchandise = no frills infrastructure … Low wages = low wages … Cheerful store greeter = Gov. Rick Scott … It’s obvious, isn’t it? Florida is the Wal-Mart of states. Think about it. We’re big. We’re popular. And we’re constantly talking about how cheap we are. It’s as if we’ve ceded a higher class of living to those fancy pants states with their mass transit, enviable education systems and high-tech jobs. And, based on Scott’s we-don’t-need-no-stinking-revenue tour across the state, it doesn’t look as if Florida will be Galleria-bound soon.

RICK SCOTT CRISS-CROSSING STATE TO PITCH $1 BILLION TAX CUT PLAN via Steven Girardi of the Tampa Tribune – Scott, ever on his job-creation crusade, [illustrated] … some of the benefits of his plan that will reduce taxes for manufacturers, small businesses, college students buying books, and shoppers during an extended sales tax holiday. “When they are good, they’re really good … But we need to diversify” … eliminate permanently the three-year exemption on machinery and equipment taxes, which will save businesses an estimated $76.9 million a year … eliminate the state income tax for manufacturers and retailers, reducing their costs by $770 million a year. Cutting the tax by 1 percent on commercial leases, which only Florida imposes, would save $339 million over two years for small businesses, which the governor said are unfairly targeted by the tax.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: In order to have a $1.6 billion surplus as touted by @FLGovScott you have to forgo added Medicaid slots for elderly, reducing APD wait list … and part of that $1.6 billion surplus that Scott says is there for business incentives/tax cuts includes $$ for Everglades & springs … The current $635 million surplus figure used by economists (and approved by legislative panel) is based on historic funding decisions … So yes #FLLeg could use more money for tax cuts & business incentives – but it means something else doesn’t get funded. Plain and simple.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, created by Scott, will meet in Fort Myers to discuss healthcare costs, price transparency and price gouging in hospitals statewide. Meeting begins 10 a.m. at Florida Gulf Coast University WGCU TV studios, 10501 FGCU Boulevard in Fort Myers. The event will be livestreamed at www.the

POLICY NOTES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools


Gov. Scott and the Cabinet will hold their regular meeting beginning 8:30 a.m. in Florida Atlantic University Student Resource Building in Jupiter.


A conference of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research will have state economists discussing long-term revenues. Meeting begins 1:30 p.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building

APPEALS COURT SIDES WITH DEO IN CONTRACT CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal … sided with DEO on a summary judgment in a suit brought by the Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida … Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll … granted such a judgment to DEO in a case related to the Economic Gardening Business Loan Pilot Program, created by lawmakers in 2009 as a response to the then-ongoing recession … set aside “$8.5 million to provide low-interest loans to small businesses around the state,” the decision said. The investment fund was picked as a loan administrator … DEO soon told the fund it misunderstood the calculations and demanded it return fees and money not yet loaned. The investment fund didn’t comply and the agency sued on breach of contract and conversion claims. Conversion is broadly defined as a civil-law form of theft, or wrongly taking someone else’s property or money for one’s own use.

ALL ABOARD FLORIDA UNVEILS BRIGHTLINE TRAIN BRANDING via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Train line from Central Florida to the southern parts of the state will be called Brightline … also unveiled the brightly colored trains they will run between Orlando and Miami.  “With the introduction of Brightline, we set out to reinvent what traveling by train can mean in America, making it a forward-leaning solution that is a smarter alternative to more cars on crowded roads,” said AAF President Michael Reininger … Rockwell Group, a prominent design and architecture firm, handled much of the design.

LEADER OF DEMOCRATS IN FLORIDA SENATE PUSHES FOR 68 PERCENT PAY HIKE FOR LAWMAKERS via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – The bill proposed by state Sen. Arthenia Joyner … would jump most state lawmakers’ pay 68 percent from $29,697 a year to $50,000 starting on July 1, 2017. If it passes, lawmakers would get their first pay increase since 2007 and would have the highest pay of any Southern state …  She knows it will be a tough sell in the current political environment, but insists it is not about rewarding current legislators. The real issue … is trying to get more working-class Floridians to run and serve in the Legislature. She said the current pay is so low that most people cannot afford to consider running.

JEFF BRANDES FILES BILL AIMED AT PROTECTING PRIVATE COLLEGE STUDENTS via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics – [SB 800] would put into place a series of protections for students enrolled in private Florida colleges, vocational schools or any other private post-secondary institution … address small private pop-up colleges that notoriously charge high fees on top of a relatively small general tuition leading students to rack up a mountain of student loan debt … requiring schools to create a “student protection fund” that safeguards students financially in the event that a school improperly closes prior to student completion or training … require private schools to disclose all fees and costs to students association with completion of a program before the student is enrolled.

BILL GALVANO PAC RETURNS $15,000 FANTASY SPORTS CONTRIBUTION via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – Innovate Florida, a political action committee chaired by … Galvano  … returned a $15,000 contribution from a group called Fantasy Sports Trade Association last month … he made his decision after the Nevada Gaming Control Board decided that fantasy sports constitutes gambling under Nevada law. “I’ve always tried to not take gaming money, so when it became apparent that these funds could be classified as gaming I refunded it because I didn’t want to have any issue” … adding that it seemed “cleaner” for him to decline the money given his role in negotiating the Seminole Compact.

GEORGE GAINER OFFICIALLY KICKS OFF STATE SENATE CAMPAIGN via John Henderson of the Panama City News-Herald –“I feel it’s time that Northwest Florida takes its rightful place with the rest of the state in the Florida Senate,” said Gainer, speaking before more than 100 supporters … “Our interests have been compromised and dealt away by legislators-turned-power brokers that are more interested in chamber politics than they are with what’s happening back home. And we do have many problems that can be addressed in Tallahassee, and I intend to address them.”  … They can’t seem to agree on anything … I don’t think they could agree on what time it is, but I believe we can help them with that. We can tell them, ‘It’s time to go home, grow up and then come back when they do something for the state of Florida.’” Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen and former Congressmen Steve Southerland announced their endorsements for Gainer … who has served on the Bay County Commission for 18 years. All of Gainer’s fellow commissioners were in attendance, including Mike Thomas, who has often disagreed with Gainer at commission meetings. Thomas and Commissioner Bill Dozier said it would be an asset to Bay County to have someone who has served on the commission for so long become state senator.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: State Rep. Ed Narain will hold a fundraising reception, sponsored by entrepreneur Richard Gonzmart, to support his re-election effort in House District 61. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Ulele Restaurant, 1810 North Highland Ave. in Tampa.

SAVE THE DATE: Former House Speaker Alan Bense will be hosting a fundraiser Tuesday, Nov. 17, for former state Rep. Dick Kravitz, who is seeking the House District 16 seat. Bense will be joined by state Sens. David SimmonsRené GarciaNancy DetertDorothy HukillGreg EversDenise Grimsley and state Reps. Lake Ray and Cyndi Stephenson. Reception begins at 5 p.m. in the Governors Club Board Room, 202 South Adams St. in Tallahassee.

SAINTPETERSBLOG NAMED TOP INDEPENDENT BLOG, FLORIDA POLITICS BEST NEWS WEBSITE BY FLORIDA PRESS CLUB via Florida Politics – Extensive Enterprises Media received three first-place awards at the 63rd annual Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Competition. EEM took home trophies for Best Independent Blog for SaintPetersBlog and Best News Website (in its class) for Florida Politics. Cartoonist Bill Day also received special recognition for best editorial cartooning for his contributions to both sites.

SEAWORLD TO END ORCA SHOWS BY 2017 IN SAN DIEGO via the Associated Press – Orca shows at the company’s San Diego park will end by 2017 … the park would offer a different kind of orca experience and focus on the animal’s natural setting and behaviors. The news came days after SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. reported third-quarter earnings missed Wall Street expectations.

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY to a great man, Bob Graham.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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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