Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for November 25 – Happy Thanksgiving

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

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

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

FIRST AND FOREMOST let me wish each reader a very happy Thanksgiving. All of us who work to produce Sunburn are enormously grateful for your readership.

THIS IS WHAT MICHELLE AND I ARE MOST GRATEFUL FOR … Ella Joyce Schorsch, Thanksgiving 2015. Picture here.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sunburn will be off Thursday and Friday to celebrate the holiday with our families. We’ll see you bright and early next Monday.

TWEET, TWEET: @anthonypedicini: Turkey just won’t taste the same without a “Sunburn”!


“I am thankful that God has chosen to make me sort of “The Man in the Arena”: (From Teddy Roosevelt) “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Pat Bainter

“I am most thankful for my healthy parents, my brother Jordan (who now lives and works with me in Tallahassee), and my beautiful girlfriend, Mackenzie. I’m reminded that Thanksgiving is about gratitude for our families and all that we have. It’s a day for us to get together with our loved ones, avoid hot-button political discussions and enjoy each other’s company.” — Taylor Biehl

“Grateful that my family is healthy, my daughters are thriving and blossoming into bright, curious and confident young girls and that my city is prepared for its next chapter.” — Bob Buckhorn

“I am thankful to have celebrated 10 year anniversary with my Southern Strategy Group family … that Mayor Dyer won re-election … for belly laughs which make you snort and cry at the same time … that I have a voice … that I live in a thriving downtown and that I rarely need my car on the weekends. … that I am getting married in 2016 … and most importantly that the people I love are safe and healthy.” — Kelly Cohen

“I’m most thankful for Peter Schorsch providing me the opportunity to have my cartoons published in SaintPerersBlog, and for Ron Sachs of Sachs Media Group for all that he has done to promote the beautiful state of Florida.” — Bill Day (Bless you, Bill, bless you.)

“For my health, family, FP colleagues and our clients!” — Charlie Dudley

“At the Florida Chamber, we are grateful for the job creators who are committed to making our state a better place to live, work and raise a family. Florida’s business community is working hard to ensure our state is competitive, and that jobs, growth and economic opportunity are securing Florida’s future. As we look at the horizon, by December, Florida will have created one million net new private-sector jobs over the past five years – putting even more Floridians to work. On behalf of all of us at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, we wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.” — Florida Chamber of Commerce

“I am truly grateful for gaffes made by dumb, crazy (or at least, recklessly talkative) politicians.  The political advertising business would be boring if we couldn’t write ads or make snarky social media graphics referencing the bizarre and sometimes horrifying things they say.” — Brian Franklin, Impact Politics

“I’m thankful for the health and happiness of my friends and loved ones, the continued growth of Conversa, a good glass (ok, who am I kidding, bottle) of cabernet, and the impending season of Game of Thrones, where I’m confident all of my favorite characters will make it through the season in one piece.” — Kelsey Frouge

“I’m thankful for sea level rise deniers…because it’s always nice to feel smarter.” — Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco

“I am thankful for my parents who are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary this weekend. I am also thankful for the unconditional love of my wife and best friend, Melanie.” — Mike Griffin

“I’m thankful for John Bel Edwards winning the LA governor’s race.” Alex Heckler, chair of the “Governors’ Cabinet”, Democratic Governors Association

“Many write beautifully about when the clock strikes midnight, signaling a New Year for rejuvenation and promise. I appreciate Thanksgiving as the time to reflect on the blessings of family, friends, colleagues, and clients. We think of those who come into our lives to support us, lead us, challenge us and love us ­ and miss those who are called away much too soon, for reasons we will not comprehend while on this Earth. Always mindful to live every day to the fullest and be thankful for those who make life exciting, comical, and filled with purpose. Wishing all a heartfelt and happy Thanksgiving.” — Christina Johnson

“I’m thankful we live in a country where anyone – apparently, absolutely anyone – can run for President. I also have faith in the country that I will be thankful that the great lot of them will not be successful.” — David Johnson

“Hard to skip the cliche. But after just celebrating 26yrs of marriage and 8 kids later, it’s hard not be thankful for my wife and kids. They are my driving purpose. ” — Jon Johnson

“I am thankful that children, for whom I am currently a Guardian ad Litem, have had some good news lately about their potential future forever family. I’m also thankful that the Governor put one of the GAL program’s priorities in his recommended budget … helping children who are dealing with trauma is one of the most significant things we can do as a state.” — Ashley Kalifeh

“I am thankful for a wonderful wife and five great children; they give me perspective to help sort out the important from the just should-do, the should-do from the just could-do, and the could-do from the just let it go. And thankful for another year to try to live up to that knowledge!” – Jonathan Kilman

“I’m thankful for my family, and that it is growing with Sara and Trey’s engagement.” — Ron LaFace

“I’m thankful for the Florida Senate.” — Rep. Jared Moskowitz

“I’m thankful for the continued health of my family and friends. I’m blessed to represent District 61 and am thankful for the opportunity to work with great people in the Florida Legislature.” Rep. Ed Narain

“I am thankful that Lucianna (age 7) and Isabella (age 6) Nuzzo are healthy, happy, loved, protected, beautiful, safe, and surrounded by family who embody Christ’s love to them. … I am thankful that Bob McClure didn’t see my tattoos during the interview process at JMI.” — Sal Nuzzo

“Thankful for my most favorite client (if you’re reading this and you’re a client, yes that’s you!).” — Rhett O’Doski

“I’m thankful for the holiday release of the movie Spotlight, which shines a light on the importance of investigative journalism. Many people hate the media, but when something’s going wrong, I can’t tell you the number of folks who call to ask: “Do you have a reporter who can look into this?” Root for the media’s demise at your own peril. For when no one’s looking, bad things happen.” – Rosemary O’Hara

“1. This holiday season I’m thankful that, out of mercy and love, the Maker of heaven and earth sent his Son Jesus to earth to atone for our sins and that forgiveness and reconciliation is available to all that ask. Also, as a result, we get to have Christmas! 🙂 2. I’m thankful that a such a beautiful, kind and loving woman like Susie Plakon would somehow choose me as her husband 30 years ago and for the wonderful family that we have as a result. 3. I’m thankful for the opportunity to live in the greatest, most free and prosperous nation ever conceived and that I get to live and serve in the most beautiful and well run of the 50 states.” — Rep. Scott Plakon

“I’m thankful for Pam Bondi not filing opposition to medical marijuana and to the Florida Supreme Court for subsequently cancelling oral arguments.” — Ben Pollara

“I’m thankful for the peace and political stability that we enjoy but often take for granted, the unconditional love of family and friends and that yoga pants are socially acceptable to wear in public.” — Teye Reeves

“I am thankful for my husband and kids, good health, interesting work, the constant low-hanging fruit that is covering Florida political news, and of course, Malbec (especially on Friday afternoons).” — Melissa Ross

“Even amidst the sadness brought by losses of very dear people in recent weeks — and the dark, ominous threat of the evil cowardice modern terrorists are hell-bent on committing — all of us still have much to be grateful for in this Thanksgiving period. Family, friends, faith, community, country and commitment to each other are values and energy sources that continue to power us onward. The robust debate in our local, state and national politics is often disappointing, sometimes laughable — but always interesting. The great and powerful wonder of our American life is that we conduct those spirited conversations, and make our ultimate decisions, without a single drop of blood being shed, no matter how great our differences sometimes seem to be now, or ever. Our Life is a gift — every single day.” — Ron Sachs

“I am thankful that 5 months ago the love of my life, Gina, said yes. I am even more thankful that since then she has not changed her mind.” — Chris Spencer

“1) Florida man 2) Thanksgiving in flip flops 3) Legislators willing to meet me early this week so I have a political story while working the holiday.” — Mike Synan

“I spent Thanksgiving of 1967 at the American military base of Dong Ha, Viet Nam, and we had hot turkey, hot mashed potatoes, hot gravy and hot bread and we had a shower. We mixed  the food together in our canteen cups and it was absolutely wonderful. I put extra gravy in my canteen cup so after stirring, I actually drank my Thanksgiving dinner. This was the first hot meal we had been privy to in over two months since our special operations unit had been operating from a forward operating base (FOB) on the Laotian border for several months where we had no hot food, no shower units and very little else of a creature comfort nature. For years thereafter, I ate my Thanksgiving dinner out of my canteen cup, which did not go over real big with some of my friends who were war protesters in Southern California where we all lived. I lost my canteen cup years ago during a move. I guess I’ll use a plate this Thanksgiving… and, I’ll think about a great bunch of Marines, some of whom never saw another Thanksgiving, from that era with whom I was honored to serve.” – Jon Shebel

“I have been married to the same woman for 35 years, and she still sees something special in me. I have two daughters and five grandchildren who love me and live within walking distance of my house. My 93 year old father helped me rake the front yard today in preparation for the gathering of the clan on Thanksgiving, which is also my 67th birthday. I am as healthy as the proverbial horse, my mortgage is current, and I am not under indictment. For these things, I am profoundly thankful.” — Mac Stipanovich

“I am thankful every time I hear “I love you mommy” — Katie Webb

“I’m thankful for life experiences that have taught me gratitude, humility, and empathy. For a solid group of friends who love me despite my flaws, are fiercely loyal, have stood by me during the tough times and celebrate with me during the good times. For a husband who loves me more than life itself and our two little boys who make my heart sing. For my faith, the peace it brings to my life, and my freedom to worship openly. I’m thankful for my health and the health of my family. For the ability to find joy in the small things. For a roof over my head, food on my plate, clean water, and clothes on my back. For our service men and women and the sacrifices they and their families make each day for all of us. But mostly, I’m thankful that I have so much to be thankful for that my list is long and doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.” — Ryan Wiggins

“I’m grateful for the Florida House, for not owning a pair of gucci loafers, and the fact that everyone has been so understanding about me not wearing socks anymore. You know who else doesn’t wear socks? Jim Mcelwain. Which leads me to believe not wearing socks is for winners. I’m grateful to be living in the state that I love, with low taxes, and low regulations. I’m thankful to be working for a strong organization and a great team that stands on principle. What I’m most thankful for however is to be marrying the love of my life Lindsey Perkins next year and for our beautiful fur babies.” — Skylar Zander

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 325 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget, and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers.  Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

WHY THANKSGIVING STILL WINS, IN ONE PARAGRAPH via Michael Schaffer of The New Republic – “…It’s a holiday to be proud of: Humble without being morose, generous without being opulent, old without being irrelevant, intimate but also all about community. At a time of income inequality, the feast that is its central organizing event is made of ingredients that are democratic. In an era of suspicion, it celebrates immigrants. During a period of polarization, it’s something we all agree on. It can be religious if you want, but it doesn’t have to be: Thank the Almighty, thank your friends, thank your lucky stars—it’s all good.”

AS WE CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING, REMEMBER OUR HIGHER CALLING: HELPING THE NEEDY via Rao Musunuru for the Tampa Bay Times – One does not have to be a socialist to want to help the poor and needy. And one does not have to be deeply religious to feel the pain of the poor and sick … The United States of America is the most generous country in the world. Most of us like helping. Do we do enough, though, especially to meet the local needs? The muscular middle-aged man begging on the street corner on a Sunday morning may not fit the description of the needy. How does one decide whom to help? It will be very obvious, if one observes closely … let us think of both ends of the life spectrum — children and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable. Let us give our thanks to God for this Thanksgiving by sharing what little we can with the unfortunate. Also, may we make a habit of it throughout the year and enjoy the endless happiness of helping.

THANKSGIVING’S BUSY WEEK IN AIR TRAVEL IS NOW A DAILY ROUTINE via Jad Mouawad of the New York Times – Thanksgiving weekend has traditionally been the busiest time of the year for air travel, but that distinction is quickly becoming a thing of the past. With airlines merging and consolidating operations in fewer hubs, congestion that was once characteristic of the holiday is becoming more common at major airports all year round. The change follows a string of megamergers that left four big carriers controlling about 80 percent of airlines’ seat capacity, down from 11 in 2005. It might take another year to assess the impact of these mergers — American Airlines and US Airways have not yet integrated their operations — but fliers can already get a glimpse of the future of air travel. “What was once the exception slowly becomes the rule,” said Erik Hansen, the senior director of policy at the United States Travel Association, a trade group. It found that 13 of the nation’s top 30 airports already experienced Thanksgiving-like congestion and traffic at least one day a week. “People will see our airports bursting at the seams.”

— “Will your holiday flight be on Time?” via Richie King and Nate Silver of

GAS PRICES AT 7-YEAR LOWS FOR THANKSGIVING via Doreen Hemlock of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – The price of regular gas in Broward County averaged $2.21 per gallon, down 5 cents from a week earlier and off 3 cents from a month ago. It was 70 cents cheaper than a year earlier … regular gas in Palm Beach County averaged $2.27 per gallon, down 4 cents from a week earlier and off 2 cents from a month ago. It was 71 cents cheaper than a year earlier … The lowest-priced gas in South Florida was $1.95 at Costco in Pembroke Pines, Orion Fuels in Cooper City and Westar, also in Cooper City … The most expensive gas was $3.89 in Miami. Nationwide, the price of gas dropped for 16 straight days … by 14 cents. Gas prices in Florida averaged $2.11 per gallon, down by 68 cents from last year and helping to spur more holiday travel.

COST OF THANKSGIVING DAY MEAL RISES via Wayne Price of FLORIDA TODAY – … thankfully it’s only a 70-cent increase and that means the typical Thanksgiving spread remains one of the best values around … a feast for 10 people will run $50.11, a 70-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.41 …  list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.  The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011. This year’s survey totaled over $50 for the first time.

THE THANKSGIVING RECIPES GOOGLED IN EVERY STATE via the New York Times – Academic research – on everything from voter turnout to flu epidemics – has found that Google searching can be a meaningful indictor of behavior and attitudes … In Florida, it’s ‘flan de calabaza.’ Florida’s influences from Cuba show clearly, with two variations of flan topping the list. (Flan de calabaza sounds more traditional, though, if you know that calabaza is Spanish for a kind of pumpkin.) For another hit of Caribbean-style sweetness, try coquito, essentially coconut eggnog mixed with rum.

WHAT’S THE WORD FOR TURKEY IN TURKISH? via Gretchen McCulloch of – … turkey in Turkish is hindi … the word for turkey in Hindi is टर्की … transcribed ṭarkī in the Latin alphabet … Turkeys are native to the Americas, but the Europeans first encountering them thought that they looked like a kind of guinea fowl, another large, ungainly, colorful-faced kind of bird … Europeans received most of their guinea fowl imported via Turkey … original guinea fowl kept that name, but the new kind of guinea fowl (which weren’t actually guinea fowl at all) ended up with the other version: turkey fowl, which became just turkey … first turkeys brought to Europe also generally came via Turkey: The birds had originally been domesticated by the Aztecs and were brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadores, who traded them to the rest of the continent via North Africa and, yes, Turkey.

FLORIDA’S UNIQUE TURKEY SPECIES GOBBLES ON via David Flesher of the Orlando Sentinel … an elusive variety of the giant bird will be gobbling, clucking and flying at surprisingly high speed through South Florida’s fields and forests … Osceola turkey, also called the Florida wild turkey … a subspecies unique to the state’s peninsula. Smaller and darker than its Northern cousins, the Osceola can be found at the southeastern end of Everglades National Park, at the far western edge of Broward County, in the forests of northwestern Palm Beach County and throughout the peninsula up to about Jacksonville. The state’s native turkey has turned into an unlikely tourist draw, attracting hunters seeking to complete their “grand slam” of all five North American turkey subspecies. At the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area in northern Palm Beach County, hunters killed 103 turkeys in the last three seasons … Their speed would surprise anyone who thinks of turkeys as waddling blobs of meat and feathers. A wild turkey can run up to 25 miles per hour and briefly achieve a flying speed of 55 miles per hour, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

FIRST THANKSGIVING ACTUALLY WAS IN FLORIDA via Ben Brotemarkle of WTSP/10 News – Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, colonists in St. Augustine shared a feast of thanksgiving with Native Americans. “Not until 42 years later would English Jamestown be founded,” said eminent Florida historian Michael Gannon. “Not until 56 years later would the Pilgrims in Massachusetts observe their famous Thanksgiving. St. Augustine’s settlers celebrated the nation’s first Thanksgiving over a half century earlier, on September 8, 1565. Following a religious service, the Spaniards shared a communal meal with the local native tribe.” Hosting the first Thanksgiving celebration in what would become the United States is one of many “firsts” for the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in America … “Our nation’s first city government, first school, first hospital, first city plan, first Parrish church, and first mission to the native populations.”

CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA VOLUNTEERS AT ANNUAL ALLAPATTAH THANKSGIVING TURKEY GIVEAWAY via Florida Politics – Lopez-Cantera took a break from campaigning for the U.S. Senate to spread some Thanksgiving cheer to families in Allapattah, one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods … participated in the Allapattah Community Center charity giveaway … gave out Thanksgiving turkeys at the annual event that provides food to low-income seniors for family holiday meals. “I always enjoy seeing my friends in Allapattah. Year after year, the Allapattah Community Center provides a vital service to our community … Ensuring seniors can enjoy a meaningful Thanksgiving with their families, the organization gives away over 500 turkeys each year to members of the community in need.”

TWEET, TWEET: @RepFitzenhagen: Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s remember and say a prayer for the men and women in the armed forces

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: New Port Richey Democratic state Rep. Amanda Murphy joins Veterans Alternative to deliver Thanksgiving meals to veterans beginning 1 p.m. at 1750 Arcadia Road in Holiday.

HAPPENING SATURDAY: Mission San Luis, Florida’s Apalachee-Spanish Living History Museum, invites the public to demonstrations of culinary traditions at the eighth annual Giving Thanks celebration, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2100 West Tennessee St. in Tallahassee. The event features living history interpreters in period dress demonstrating methods of cooking over a fire pit and smoking meat and fish on a “barbacoa,” historic food preparation and craft activities for children, hands on archery and historic black powder weapon firing demonstrations.

***Congratulations to Noreen Fenner and her new venture PAC Financial Management. Fenner and her team have more than 50 years combined experience with Florida’s Elections Code, campaign finance reporting and accounting. Specializing in political committees and candidate campaigns, PAC Financial Management navigates clients through political finance. Meet the team and learn why PAC Financial Management should be your reporting compliance firm.***

POLL DU JOUR: TED CRUZ MAKES A BIG LEAP IN IOWA via Trip Gabriel of the New York Times – Cruz’s long-anticipated Iowa surge came a step closer on Tuesday with a new poll showing him just behind Donald Trump and leaping ahead of Ben Carson, as terrorism and foreign policy now drive the 2016 nominating race. Cruz was the choice of 23 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers in the new poll, from Quinnipiac University, following Trump at 25 percent and ahead of Carson at 18 percent. Marco Rubio was in fourth with 13 percent.

— “In Iowa, little breathing room for GOP bottom-dwellers” via Teddy Schleifer of CNN

MARCO RUBIO RUNS TV AD FOCUSED ON HIS FATHER IN EARLY PRIMARY STATES via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Rubio is showcasing his family story in a new TV ad … In Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada … highlights [his] father’s work as a bartender and how it shapes his son’s life many years later … “My father stood behind a small portable bar in the back of a room for all those years so that I could stand behind this podium in front of this room in this nation … That journey from behind that bar to behind this podium, that’s the essence of the American Dream.”

RUBIO BACKER IS BEHIND NEW ANTI-TED CRUZ AD via Shane Goldmacher of POLITICO – Sean Noble is the founder of American Encore, a 501(c)4 nonprofit, which is paying $200,000 to air an ad in Des Moines that accuses Cruz of voting to “weaken national security” and urges him to “stop leading from behind.” Noble said that while he personally is backing Rubio — he served as a co-host of scotch and cigars fundraiser in Arizona last week — his group is not. American Encore, Noble explained, is instead dedicated to the nomination of a Republican candidate who can win the general election. “There is probably more than one in that regard,” Noble said. “We just don’t think that Cruz is one of them.”

THE FAILURE OF THE JEB BUSH PAC’S AUTUMN AD BARRAGE via Jim Geraghty of the National Review – In mid-September … Bush’s SuperPAC, Right to Rise PAC, unleashed $24 million in advertising, mostly in key early primary states — $6 million in Iowa, $12 million in New Hampshire, $4.7 million in South Carolina, and the remainder elsewhere … Bush moved from 4.8 percent in Iowa on September 15 to… 4.8 percent today … In New Hampshire, he moved from 7 percent to… 7.6 percent today … Polling in South Carolina has been less frequent, but he was at 8.5 percent on September 15… and is at 6.8 percent today. Nationally, Jeb Bush has lost ground; he’s at 8 percent on September 15; he’s at 5.5 percent today. He’s currently in fifth place — nationally, in Iowa, in New Hampshire, and in South Carolina.

— “GOP Rep. Mike Bishop backs Jeb Bush for president” via Jonathan Easley of The Hill

— “Jeb Bush names Louisiana team” via Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics

DONALD TRUMP STAFFING UP IN FLORIDA via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Jennifer Locetta will serve as Deputy State Director, Ken Mayo has been named Director of Field Operations, John Ross Pughe is joining as the Southeast Regional Field Director, and Craig Bachler will serve as Director of Coalitions.

2016 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION UNVEILS LOGO via Andrew Tobias of – The logo features a red elephant … walking atop a stylized, blue outline of an electric guitar with three inset white stars.

REDISTRICTING CHALLENGERS AMEND FILED MAPS, WITHDRAW PLAN THAT DOES NOT CROSS TAMPA BAY via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – n an effort to “narrow the issues for trial,” the challengers to the Senate’s redistricting efforts … withdrew two maps that contained a black majority district that do not cross Tampa Bay and made two changes in North Florida … argued that the Legislature should have updated its voting data to include the primaries of 2012 and 2014 which would have helped to show the strength of black voting performance in the districts. They presented the Legislature with a map that was based on the primary data, but it was rejected by the House and Senate as inaccurate and incomplete.

TWEET, TWEET: @MCIMaps: Those. Idiots. Anyone who says they are partisan can’t now. They are allowing republicans to gerrymander St Pete

CAPITOL POLICE HIT WITH AGE, SEX DISCRIMINATION LAWSUITS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Woodrow Kerce and Carissa Beck filed their complaint in Leon County Circuit Civil court … sued under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act … Kerce … was 46 when he applied in December 2013, intending on a second career after early retirement from the Tallahassee Police Department … He said one of his interviewers “started to ask (him) a question and instead just stopped and laughed and said that he was sorry the questions were so far below Kerce’s level of experience.” He later passed a physical examination. But months later, Kerce was told he wasn’t being hired because “all (the) positions had been filled.” a public-records request in June 2014, [found] that “all of the applicants that were hired were young, mostly under 30 or very close to 30.” Beck – who is claiming sex and age discrimination – also applied for an officer position in December 2013, was interviewed and passed a physical examination … months passed before she received an email in June 2014 “informing her that she had not been selected for any of the positions” … Only one female officer had been hired and she was 25; Beck was 30 when she applied.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Jamestown Associates – Winning tough campaigns. The record to prove it. Jamestown produces persuasive TV, radio, mail and digital advertising that breaks through the clutter and gets votes. We help our clients in Florida and the nation perfect their message, create powerful ads, micro-target the media buy and WIN. Jamestown’s work has been recognized with 50 Pollie and Reed awards. See our work at***


I am thankful for my wife, my family, my health, and my friends,

Of course, in today’s political process to name them may bring about their ends.

But, no matter, it’s OK, for right this second they know who they are,

They help me to stay on time, be it to the Knott, the CAP or to the bar.

During Session and the Committee weeks I can count on them to make the save,

But I am most thankful because I can count on them to take secrets to the grave.

… I am thankful for the President, the Speaker, Senators and the House members,

I am thankful for staff, interns, bill drafting and those who survived the Novembers.

I am thankful to work in a process where we strive to treat one another with respect,

And let’s all be thankful for the Senate and House Sergeants Office’s who keep everything looking perfect.

WHAT JEFF BRANDES IS READING: UPBEAT FEDS REVISING SELF-DRIVING CAR POSITION via Justin Pritchard of the Associated Press – Just two years ago, the [Transportation Department] struck a cautious tone. … [Now,] … Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx [has] ordered his department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [to] update its 2013 policy ‘to reflect today’s technology and his sense of urgency to bring innovation to our roads that will make them safer.’ It’s unclear what the new policy will be, though the tone of the statement signaled that Foxx is interested in endorsing the technology [‘Breathtaking progress has been made’].


H. French Brown IVGary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: West Villages Improvement District

Michelle Ertel, Florida Strategic Advisors: City of Oviedo

Kirk Pepper, Capitol Insight: Florida Municipal Power Agency

Scott Ross, Capital City Consulting: Gartner; LakeFron, Inc.; Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company

 Christopher Snow, Snow Strategies: Solarus Enterprises

M. Lane Stephens, SCG Governmental Affairs: National Wild Turkey Federation Florida State Chapter


With all the talk of beleaguered immigrants seeking refuge in America, the true meaning of Thanksgiving is all too poignant this year.

We’ve all seen the words “turkey” and “lobbyist” in the same sentence before. But, more than likely, this referred to the role of special interests in securing political pork for clients. Indeed, Florida’s political process has its own special “turkey day” which falls after each legislative session, before the governor gets to the bulk of budget signings and vetoes. We have Florida TaxWatch to thank (or chide) for that.

But today, in honor of Thanksgiving, we bring to you a different look at turkeys and lobbyists — namely, those individuals and organizations whose work helps ensure the very things that define this holiday.

In Florida, Turkey Day likely begins with Publix, a cultural staple in the Sunshine State – and in Florida politics. The grocery-store giant employs Floridian Partners for its contract lobbying, enjoying the able representation of Jorge ChamizoCharles Dudley and Teye Reyes, plus its in-house rep Lindsey Napier.

Nationally, however, Publix is also a significant political presence. Publix has so far spent $320,000 for federal lobbying, the bulk going to Washington, D.C.-based firm McBee Strategic Consulting. The store “where shopping is a pleasure” gave $737,420 to political candidates during the 2014 election cycle, and spent $250,000 on lobbying. These figures are down, however, from its peak 2012: $1.2 million in political contributions and $470,000 on lobbying. (Not to mention those adorable pilgrim salt and pepper shakers!)

Of course, the national food industry has lots of cooks in the political kitchen, too. The Grocery Manufacturers Association is their main political vehicle, and it drives fast and furious in Washington.

The group spent $14.3 million on lobbying in 2013, mostly to Republican candidates and groups, ranking number 16 of all lobbying organizations nationally.

Quaker Foods & Beverages is represented in Tallahassee by Capitol Insight firm led by former House Speaker Dean Cannon while Kraft Foods – no doubt on many Turkey Day tables along the state, if not in the original packaging –  retains the services of Gary RutledgeStephen EceniaMichael BarryJonathan Costello and the rest of the team at Rutledge Ecenia.

Nationally, Kroger is one of the biggest suppliers of canned foods. During the 2014 election cycle, this food giant gave $109,880 in political contributions and spent $350,000 on lobbying. Even Campbell Soup Company lobbies: in 2013 it spent $580,000 on these activities.

Tyson Foods rang in far higher in 2012, spending $1.9 million on lobbying, and contributing another $373,761 to political candidates.

The United States is the world’s largest turkey producer. In fact, Americans consume more turkey per person than do residents of any other country — to the tune of about 16.4 pounds per person, per year.

While Butterball and Jennie-O – the largest domestic sellers of turkey foodstuffs – aren’t very active on K Street or Adams Street, nor is Bruce’s Yams, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is. They trust Ron Book and his team of Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette with their Tallahassee business. The American Association of Diabetes Educators, for its part, retains the services of Melanie Shanks BostickJennifer Green, and Thomas Hobbs of Liberty Partners.

In Florida, turkey comprises a small portion of overall poultry and egg production – just ask Sen. Wilton Simpson, the Senate’s very own chicken man.

The Florida Farm Bureau nonetheless has a strong presence in state policymaking. The FFB works with lobbyists Adam BasfordFrank Matthews and Robert Lance Pierce in these efforts — often aligned alongside the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association‘s H.F. Calhoun, III.  James Trafton represents the Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Company along related lines.

Food, though, is just one piece of the Thanksgiving experience. Black Friday, once just a day, has inched into a week- to month-long experience for shoppers. Leading the retail interests’ charge in Florida is the Florida Retail Federation, which stands 11 strong in its lobby corps. Randy Miller James P. MillerSamantha Hunter PadgettRichard McAllisterMelissa Joyner Ramba, and John A. Rogers make up their in-house team, working with contract lobbyists Travis BlantonJon JohnsonAmy ChristianDarrick McGhee of Johnson & Blanton to achieve Tallahassee synergy.

Wal-Mart is always a force to be reckoned with — both in terms of Black Friday traffic and political prowess in Florida. The retail giant’s lobby team of includes Billy RubinHeather TurnbullMelissa Akeson of the Rubin Group and Michael CorcoranJeff Johnston, Michael CantensMatt Blair, and Amanda Stewart of Corcoran & Johnston.

Of course, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is among the busiest days in terms of U.S. travel. Hopefully you’re not departing from Tallahassee “International” Airport, but you might be flying U.S. Airways, in which case you’re flying with an airline with good taste in influencers. None other than Paul BradshawJim SmithDavid BrowningChristopher DudleyElectra Bustle and the rest of the pros at Southern Strategy Group.

While home-cooked meals and 4 a.m. Black Friday excursions at the local mall may be the norm for some, many others travel for the holiday — and still others enjoy the expert cooking of professional chefs who offer Turkey Day spreads galore. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association brings an A-List of lobbyists to its efforts, including Jim Daughton, Jeff HartleyAimee Diaz LyonSteve MetzAndy PalmerWarren Husband, among others.

No, they’re not the Native Americans early colonial subjects met at Plymouth Rock, but the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Poarch Creek interests play a substantial role in guiding the Florida political process as well, particularly when it comes to gaming. The Seminoles employ some 13 Tallahassee lobbyists, namely Emily BuckleyHayden DempseyChristoper Moya, and Barry Richard of Jones WalkerAgustin Corbella and Leslie Dughi with Greenberg TraurigEric PooleWilliam McKinleyFred O. Dickinson, and Angela Dempsey of PooleMcKinley; and Charles Dudley with Floridian Partners, along with Screven Watson and Jack Skelding.

A Poarch Creek-led interest called PCI Gaming also enlists Southern for representation Tallahassee, led by David Browning and Chris Dudley.

If you’re looking to make a difference for the less fortunate this holiday season, how about a visit with the good folks at Florida Association of Food Banks? The Ft. Myers-based charity organization is repped by Michael Cusick and Larry Williams in the Florida Capitol, so tell them “thanks” when you next see them in the Rotunda.

So, this year, as you enjoy the last few weeks of 2015, and keep  your distance from politics to focus fully on family, remember… your turkeys, shopping excursions and sweet potatoes have some hard-working folks behind them.

FLORIDA HEADLINE OF THE DAY: “Video: Darth Vader impersonator tries to rob Florida store, is defeated by salad dressing” via the Bradenton Herald

WHY DO THE DETROIT LIONS AND DALLAS COWBOYS ALWAYS PLAY ON THANKSGIVING? via Florida Politics – It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise … in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth … wasn’t quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934. Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving … The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL’s Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and that’s why the Lions still play on Thanksgiving.

THE 32 RULES OF THANKSGIVING TOUCH FOOTBALL via Florida Politics – A Nerf ball is OK but you should own a leather football … It’s two-hand touch. One-hand touch is for lazy people who buy turkey sandwiches out of vending machines. … Two completions is a first down. Not as simple as it sounds — just ask the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars. … The ground is probably going to be squishy with cold mud, and someone in your family is going to fall down face-first and ruin his or her Thanksgiving outfit. This is not cause for alarm. This is the highlight of the game … It’s OK to play with kids but don’t baby them. Just because your 7-year-old niece is playing quarterback doesn’t mean you can’t intercept her screen pass and run it back for a touchdown. She’s got to learn sometime not to throw into triple coverage.

JIMBO FISHER: NO. 14 FLORIDA STARE, NO. 10 FLORIDA VERY SIMILAR via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press – [As] Fisher prepares for Saturday’s game … he sees a mirror image of his own squad. “It’s funny how that evolves. That wasn’t planned, I promise you, by either one of us … One of the key roles as a coach is identifying who you are and what each team is. And (Florida coach Jim McElwain has) done a great job of that … It’s ironic that we are very similar, we really are” … both been successful with strong defenses and power running games. Both are also young on offense and have used multiple quarterbacks. That is quite a change in a rivalry that has been dominated by quarterbacks and strong passing games.

— “Football flashback: Remembering the choke at the Doak” via Gary Shelton of Florida politics

TWEET, TWEET: @AdamPutnam: #BlackFridayIn3Words: Don’t. Get. Scammed.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jennifer Krell Davis, Jason Fischer, Adam Hasner, and my dear friend, Gary Springer.

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.

Latest from Statewide

Go to Top