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Sunburn for November 20 – Take out the trash day?

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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.


Happy Friday-before-Thanksgiving-week, or as we call it, the pre-holiday edition of the always likely Friday news dump.

As the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe has ably defined it, it’s when government agencies “release potentially embarrassing or politically tricky policy decisions and personnel changes on a day when reporters and the general public are less likely to notice or care.”

Indeed, the television series “The West Wing” immortalized it as “Take Out the Trash Day” in an episode of the same name.

As presidential aide Josh Lyman explained to assistant Donna Moss, “Any stories we have to give the press that we’re not wild about, we give on Friday.”

So it is with the Rick Scott administration, which has a bevy of potential news to dump on an unsuspecting populace through the Capitol Press Corps.

Could it be the departure of embattled Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, despite his public statements to the contrary? He’s been on Scott’s chopping block since at least January.

Or perhaps the Department of Health, already behind schedule, will finally announce the list of growers approved for medical marijuana? Five nurseries will be picked out of 28 who turned in applications that were due July 8.

Scott doesn’t have a corner on the news dump: Could a humdinger instead spring from the ongoing congressional or state Senate redistricting drama?

Or maybe a shocker in the saga over allowing Seminole blackjack, with the tribe and state desperately trying to cajole each other into a deal before – Heaven forfend – they have to defend their respective cases in court?

Who knows? But have your tablets and smartphones at the ready.

One thing we know it won’t be, according to a tweet from Gary Fineout of The Associated Press: “.@FLGovScott will release all of his budget recommendations next Monday morning in Jacksonville.”

HAPPENING THIS MORNING: A political press panel at the 2015 FLC Legislative Conference, beginning 9 a.m. at the Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista South, Palms Ballroom C Moderator is Matthew Surrency, FLC President, and Mayor of the City of Hawthorne. Panelists include Peter Schorsch, Executive Editor, SaintPetersBlog, and President, Extensive Enterprises; Mary Ellen Klas, Capital Bureau Chief, Miami Herald, and Co-Bureau Chief, Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau; Dara Kam, Senior Reporter, The News Service of Florida; and Marc Caputo, Florida Political Reporter, Politico.


Meet James Whelan, regular guy.

Whelan is president and chief executive officer of the James R. Whelan Agency – “The Most Powerful Name in Advertising,” as his website proclaims. But on Wednesday he was there as a “regular guy representing regular guys,” or at least that’s what it said on the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee appearance record.

“Open Carry,” one of the most controversial bills now pending in the Florida Legislature, is being advanced by gun-rights advocates and Marion Hammer, the grand dame of Tallahassee lobbying. Hammer is the former National Rifle Association president who’s now executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida. She is also one of the most influential pro-gun voices in the Florida Capitol.

If passed, House Bill 163 would give Floridians that much-needed ability to mosey down the street with a Glock sticking out of their back pockets without fear of police inquiry.

(O)ne of the specialty services provided by Wheelman’s firm – listed under the category “Political Campaigns” – include creating successful, custom advertising campaigns to meet political communications goals, having served advertisers and advertising agencies for more than a decade. Whelan also touts his deep understanding of “the ins and outs of digital advertising for political campaigns.”

Not quite the political novice, and certainly more than just a “regular guy.”

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GUNS ON CAMPUS AMONG 4 GUN BILLS SET FOR FULL CHAMBER VOTES via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press – [A] proposal to let concealed weapons permit holders bring guns on state university and college campuses was among four firearm bills that made their final committee stops … will now be before their respective legislative chambers. Two other bills will ban backyard gun ranges in densely populated areas and another will remove aggravated assault from the list of gun-related crimes subject to mandatory minimum sentences under the state’s 10-20-Life law.

POWERFUL HEALTH GROUPS RENEW PUSH TO RAISE FLORIDA’S CIGARETTE TAX via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times – The coalition, which includes the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association in Florida and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, wants to see the tax increased by $1 per pack in 2016 … rallying behind bills (SB 758/ HB 335) filed by … Jeff Clemens … and … Richard Stark … would raise the surcharge on a standard pack of cigarettes from $1 to $2 … revenue would be deposited into the Health Care Trust Fund to help pay for research on tobacco-related and cancer-related illnesses.

HOUSE PANEL OKS REPEAL OF HOSPITAL REGULATION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A bill that would end state oversight of hospital construction and expansion cleared its first House review … The Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access OK’d the legislation (HB 437) 10-4 along party lines. The measure would repeal the “certificate of need” process that requires hospitals to show state regulators there’s a need in the community before they can build a new facility or expand an existing one. It also applies to adding specialty treatment programs, such as organ transplants.’

LAWMAKERS SEEK TO EXPAND TERM LIMITS FROM 8 TO 12 YEARS via the Associated Press – House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford and Sen. Rene Garcia announced … they’ll ask the Legislature to place a measure on the 2016 ballot asking voters to loosen the current term limits … the measure wouldn’t allow any current lawmakers to stay in officer longer, but rather is aimed at future senators and representatives. They argued that lawmakers have to leave office just as they finally learn the intricacies of the Legislature and the budgeting process to the point they can better help constituents.

MEANWHILE — IT’S NOW 6 MAPS TO 1 — DOES LEGISLATURE CALL FOR ANOTHER SESSION TO VOTE? Via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – As the life size chess match that is Florida redistricting keeps playing out the next question is, will there be another special session? The challengers have submitted six new maps and, based on preliminary analysis, it’s clear their plans all draw 20 districts that favor Democrats and 20 that favor RepublicansAndy Gardiner … chose to submit to the court a single Senate map, with pieces of two “base maps” that were drawn by staff, because “it’s all recorded … For me, you go with base maps because you have a record – it’s all recorded, at least on the Senate side — and it’s a Senate product.”

On five of those six maps submitted to the court by the plaintiffs, Obama won 20 seats, which means on paper the chamber would be have 20-20 Republican-Democrat split. On a sixth map, four additional seats would be Democratic-leaning based on performance, which would give them a one-seat advantage. … That’s in stark contrast to the one map submitted to the court by the Senate, which Republicans now  control, 26-14.

REDISTRICTING TRIAL COULD ALTER SENATE’S POLITICAL MAKEUP via Matt Dixon of Politico Florida  The current configuration includes 22 seats that were won by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, while 16 were won by President Obama. Two districts were a tie, with each candidate splitting the vote.

That makeup would be drastically altered by any of the six maps put forward by a coalition of plaintiffs challenging the state Senate lines in 2012. Their original lawsuit prompted senators to admit in court the current Senate maps are at odds with anti-gerrymandering provisions, which is why they are being redrawn.

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STAT OF THE DAY: Over the past 117 days, Donald Trump has topped 21 straight polls among New Hampshire Republicans, per James Lindell of the Boston Globe.

POLL DU JOUR: A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Trump leading the GOP field with 37%, followed by Ben Carson at 14%, Marco Rubio at 11%, Ted Cruz at 8%, Jeb Bush at 6% and Rand Paul at 5%.

DONALD TRUMP COMING TO SARASOTA NEXT WEEK via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Trump … will hold an event at noonon Saturday, Nov. 28 at Robarts Arena. It will be the third campaign swing through Florida for the candidate in recent weeks. Joe Gruters … co-chairman of Trump’s Florida campaign, said his candidate is building a strong operation in the state and is on track to deny either Rubio or Bush a victory on their home turf, which likely would spell the end for their campaigns. “This should be their bread and butter easy victory but obviously the message Trump is delivering is resonating with the voters enough to where he’s in a position to deliver that final knockout blow.”

JEB BUSH’S NATIONAL SECURITY GAMBLE via Jonathan Easley of The Hill – Bush … laid out his plan to strengthen the military and defend the nation from the threat of terrorism, seizing on national security to turn around a struggling presidential campaign.  “He’s close to being dead and done so this is his big moment,” said veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins. “He has this opportunity now to step up and make the case for his experience and his ability to be commander in chief. If he can’t break through on this then he’s not going to break through at all.” Bush seems to recognize the stakes.

— “A U.S. Defense policy for the 21st Century” via Jeb Bush for the National Review

MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS SLIGHT BARACK OBAMA IN NEW BUSH AD via Ashley Killough of CNN – “This is no reality show. This is serious business. This is about the livelihood of our kids and grandkids. This commander in chief requires training wheels,” says James Livingston, a retired major general from the U.S. Marine Corps, as the video shows a photo of Obama … Jay Vargas, a retired colonel from U.S. Marine Corps, says in the video that the country “hungers for leadership … We’ve almost gone backwards, where we should be going forward,” Vargas says. “And I think Jeb Bush will push it forward.” Both men received the award from then-President Richard Nixon.

— “’Super PAC’ backing Jeb Bush to air ads in Ohio, home of John Kasich” via Maggie Haberman of the New York Times

BUSH CALLS OUT MARCO RUBIO, TED CRUZ FOR OPPOSING AUTHORIZING FORCE IN SYRIA via Eli Stokols of POLITICO – … continuing to press his case as a strong commander in chief in the wake of last week’s ISIL attack in Paris … Bush blamed the senate for failing to grant Obama permission to take on Syria and its president, Bashar Assad, after evidence surfaced of a nerve gas attack that killed 1,400 Syrian civilians. “We had two United States senators—three—their views at the time were that it wasn’t our fight … Ted Cruz said something to the effect that—I don’t want to provide the air force power for ISIS, that’s basically his argument. Rubio said that we don’t have an interest in the subject … He’s changed his views on this now and said he didn’t think Obama, once granted that force, would be serious about using it.”

BUSH PLANS FINAL MIAMI FUNDRAISER OF 2015 via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – … raising the stakes for the event ahead of the campaign’s next fundraising deadline Dec. 31. The reception will take place Dec. 4 at the Key Biscayne home of Roxana and Raul Henriquez. The minimum contribution is $1,000, with hosts committing to raise $25,000.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush be in New York for private finance events.

RUBIO DAZZLES AND DISAPPOINTS REPUBLICANS ON FOREIGN POLICY via Michael Bender and Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg Politics – Elliott Abrams, an influential thinker in conservative foreign-policy circles dating back to the Reagan administration, has twice been surprised by … Rubio. Once more pleasantly than the other. In 2010 … Abrams found himself taking in the young Republican’s “quite startling” breadth of knowledge on global issues. “He knew a lot and, from my point of view, a lot of what he said was correct … The average state House speaker in the 50 states isn’t able to do that.” Fast forward to September 2013 … Rubio—now a member of the Senate’s top foreign affairs committees who was positioning himself as one of his party’s more hawkish members—cast a vote against the use of force in Syria. “I didn’t agree with that vote,” Abrams said. “It would have been better for the United States to make those strikes, and come back if need be and do more. I thought it was important to get the president to start acting again. I agreed it wasn’t enough, but you have to start somewhere.”

POLITICO ASKED RUBIO TO LAY OUT HIS ISIL STRATEGY. HERE IT ISfor Politico Magazine – “First, I would protect the homeland by immediately stopping the flow of Syrian refugees into the United States—not because refugees fleeing conflict are unwelcome, but because it is currently impossible to verify their identities or intentions …  strengthen the Visa Waiver Program’s security screening to ensure individuals coming to our country are not a threat … rescind limitations on overseas intelligence collection and restore the intelligence gathering authorities … reverse defense sequestration so we have the capabilities to go on the offense against ISIL …  build a multinational coalition of countries willing to send troops into Iraq and Syria to aid local forces on the ground … the mission is the total destruction of ISIL and will send … forces necessary to succeed … apply the appropriate pressure to tip the scales in favor of peace and stability … I would demand that Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government grant greater autonomy to Sunnis, and would provide direct military support to Sunnis and the Kurds if Baghdad fails to support them. I would back those demands with intense diplomatic pressure and the leverage of greater American military assistance to Iraq. Cutting off oxygen to ISIL also requires defeating Assad in Syria. I would declare no-fly zones to ground Assad’s air force and coalition-controlled “safe zones” in the country to stop his military … safe zones would stem the flow of refugees and provide a place to train and arm rebel fighters. I would oppose Russia and Iran in their fight to prolong Assad’s brutal regime.”

A CONVERSATION WITH RUBIO ON CUBA, FAMILY TIES via the Associated Press – [Rubio]  sees no contradiction between his pledge to usher in new ideas and his call to restore an old, punitive relationship with Cuba. “People think it’s because we’re being stubborn or holding on to old policies,” Rubio … said … “I’m prepared to change strategies toward Cuba, but it has to be one that yields results.” He would be willing to allow U.S. companies to invest in telecommunications in Cuba in exchange for free and unfettered Internet access on the island. He can envision restoring full diplomatic relations with Havana, but only if the government there allows opposition political parties and gives them freedom to organize.

MIA LOVE ENDORSES RUBIO via Nick Gass of POLITICO – Love announced her endorsement … in the latest coup … among his congressional colleagues, highlighting her belief in his national security credentials. Love, widely regarded as one of the Republican Party’s rising stars, met with Rubio in her home state last month for a roundtable with business leaders and a campaign rally. The Utah Republican rose to prominence with her speech at the 2012 GOP convention, winning her seat in last year’s midterm elections.

RUBIO’S SUGAR SUPPORT DRAWS CORN, SOYBEAN QUESTIONS via Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register – Fuel leaders expecting corn, soybean approval … After … Cruz took aim at sugar subsidies during last week’s GOP debate, Iowa agriculture and biofuel leaders began questioning how Rubio‘s support for that industry compares with his stance on renewable fuels made from corn and soybeans. … Rubio honed in on farm products that face foreign competition

DHANI JONES TO HELP RUBIO FUNDRAISE via Jessie Balmert of the Cincinnati Enquirer – Rubio will make his first stop of his presidential campaign in Cincinnati on Dec. 17 for a fundraiser breakfast at the Queen City Club. The event is hosted by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Rubio’s campaign coordinator in Ohio; Northern Kentucky commercial developer Bill Butler and Cleveland car dealership owner Bernie Moreno, who owns Mercedes Benz of Fort Mitchell. Among the Cincinnati-area co-chairs of the event is former Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones. Attendees must pay $5,400 per couple for a co-chair photo reception and breakfast. Breakfast alone is $2,000 per couple.

HAPPENING TODAY: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson gives the closing address at legislative planning conference of the Florida Association of Counties, 8:30 a.m. at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, 39 Lagoon Road in Amelia Island.

HAPPENING TODAY: U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham will be the keynote speaker at the Pinellas County Democratic Party’s Kennedy-King Dinner, 7 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater.

HAPPENING TOMORROW: Congressman Patrick Murphy, a candidate for U.S. Senate, will speak at a Pasco County Democratic Party fundraiser at 7:30 p.m., Silver Springs Golf & Country Club, 2535 Trophy Blvd. in Trinity.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING — RECORD BREAKING TOURISM CONTINUES IN FLORIDA via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News  – [The] first nine months of this year saw 79.1 million tourists, a 5.5 percent increase from last year … helped by a strong third quarter as 25.5 million tourists visited from July through September, an increase of 6.8 percent from last year … almost 1.2 million Floridians held jobs directly tied to tourism, up 5.2 percent from last year. Most tourists during the third quarter–22.1 million–came from the U.S., an increase of more than 8 percent from last year. The third quarter saw 3.4 million international tourists visit Florida.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a news conference to announce October job numbers beginning 10 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, 200 Ponte Vedra Blvd. in Ponte Vedra Beach. Event will be held at the side entrance of the conference center.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio will join several local leaders and lawmakers in Safety Harbor to announce new jobs and the unemployment rate for October 2015. Event begins 10:30 a.m. at Mastercut Tool Corporation, 965 Harbor Lake Drive in Safety Harbor.

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SEEKS 24 MORE JUDGESHIPS STATEWIDE via the Associated Press – The court is asking for one new circuit judgeship in the central Florida judicial circuit covering Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties … the 5th Judicial Circuit needs an additional judge … also certified the need for 23 new county judgeships in seven other counties, saying more county judges are needed to deal with an increase in DUI cases and small claims court filings.

TOP READ — JOE NEGRON’S SACRIFICES FOR GOP PAY OFF IN TOP FLORIDA SENATE SEAT via Isadora Rangel of the TC Palm – “Punch Foley for Joe.” With this slogan, Joe Negron ran the most unorthodox campaign of his political career: running for Congress with someone else’s name on the ballot just two months before Election Day.

And not just someone, but incumbent Mark Foley, who resigned in 2006 after getting caught sending sexually explicit instant messages to male teens who worked as congressional pages. The suicide mission was a sacrifice Negron made for the GOP — one that boosted his 2015 ascendancy to Senate president-elect of the nation’s third-largest state. Just two months earlier in 2006, the Democrat-turned-Republican dropped out a different race in deference to a party veteran.

Negron lost Foley’s seat, but proved his allegiance to the GOP, his willingness to be a team player and his ability to run a campaign and raise money on short notice. These are necessary skills for a Senate president, one of the most powerful elected officials in Florida, who’s in charge of setting policy and budget priorities, picking committee chairs and fundraising for his entire caucus.

“He took one for the team,” Foley said this week. “I have to assume all the calls come in and the national party leaders are begging you to run. You think, ‘This could work, but if it doesn’t I could build some chips with the leadership.’ ”

DIGITAL ASSETS BILL BREEZES THROUGH FIRST COMMITTEE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Legislation that would protect one’s “digital assets” after death easily cleared its first review committee … The Senate Judiciary committee unanimously OK’d the bill (SB 494) on a 9-0 vote. Under the bill, someone of your choosing could have access to and control your financial accounts, social media and anything else you have online after your death … “emails, text messages, online photographs, documents stored in the cloud, electronic bank statements, and other electronic communications or records.” The asset manager could be next of kin, a friend, an attorney or anyone the person selects.

— “Bill offers free parks for a year to spur tourism” via Isadora Rangel of Political Fix Florida

— “Lawmakers file measure to crack down on skimmers at gas pumps via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Political Fix Florida

— “Tourism tax dollars for public safety floated in Legislature” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

TV’S BETH TUURA ANNOUNCES 2016 DEMOCRATIC RUN FOR HD 47 via Florida Politics – An Emmy-winning TV professional has filed to run for House District 47 as a Democrat, setting up a three-way primary for a chance to face off against incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Miller … Beth Tuura … said she chose to enter the race because when she looks at the Florida Legislature she sees “a group of people who are stacking the deck against everyday Floridians in favor of the big special interests that run Tallahassee.”


Joanna Lee Clary BonfantiJ. Larry Williams, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Air-Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute

Donovan BrownTrevor MaskClaude MuellerNate StricklandKatherine Webb, Colodny Fass: G&G Holdings Group, Prepared Insurance Company; Florida Specialty Holdings; Assured Risk Cover

Ron BookKelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book: Offerdahl’s Hand-Off Foundation

Sara Clements: Step Up for Students

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SAVE THE DATE: The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and Libertine Miami hosts “An Evening with FCIR: Craft Cocktails and Political Journalists,” Thursday, Dec. 10, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Scheduled guests are Marc Caputo of Politico Florida, Jim DeFede of WFOR/CBS 4, and Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald for an informal chat about the state of the election and Florida’s role in it. Libertine Miami is at 36 N. 11th St. in Miami. Tickets are $30 and available at


Trimmel Gomes’ newest episode of The Rotunda features a conversation with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum about his decision to proclaim Florida’s capital city a safe haven for Syrian refugees. Gillum tells Gomes Gov. Rick Scott’s attempt to block those escaping violence and persecution from immigrating to Florida is all about divisive politics fueling mistrust of a rigorous vetting process. Gomes also talks with House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford and Republican Sen. Rene Garcia about their bipartisan push to get voters to expand term limits for state lawmakers from eight to 12 years. Lobbyists Steve Schale and Karen Woodhal weigh in on the proposed changes.


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Guest Dr. Lawrence Miller on the prospects of an ISIL strike in the homeland.

Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: Susan Glickman of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Kelly McBride of the Poynter, the Tampa Bay Times’ Jeremy Wallace, Republican Mark Proctor and DemocratTony Collins.

On Point with Shannon Ogden, on WFCN in Jacksonville: Sen. Audrey Gibson discusses redistricting and its political fallout, St. Johns Riverkeeper on declining water levels, and an investigative report on pediatric mis-diagnoses in area hospitals.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Sen. Geraldine Thompson, host Ybeth Bruzual talks with Michelle Ertel and Jeremiah Jaspon about the success of “non-traditional” GOP presidential candidates, plus PolitiFact rates a recent claim made by Jeb Bush about U.S. oil production.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon, News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam, and Bob McClure of The James Madison Institute.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: A look ahead to the annual Blue Duval Democratic gala with party chair Neil Henrichsen, Jax Young Dems, state House candidate Leslie Jean-Bart, and Rev. R.L. Gundy. Plus former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll on how the recent attacks in Paris could change the 2016 GOP primaries.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our great friend, Anthony Pedicini.

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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