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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.25.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


It’s been just over three months since Frank Artiles resigned, and now voters in Senate District 40 have their first chance to decide who they want to send to Tallahassee to represent them.

The special primary election to replace Artiles is today. Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Lorenzo Palomares, who is largely viewed as a long shot candidate, are battling it out for the Republican; while Democrats Ana Rivas Logan and Annette Taddeo are fighting for the chance to represent their party in the Sept. 26 special general election.

‘Now we come to the payoff’: Who will win today’s primary contests for vacancies in South Florida’s Senate District 40?

The GOP primary has been particularly nasty, and increasingly expensive. Outside groups have poured thousands upon thousands of dollars into the race, saying DLP is “not a conservative” and attacking his legislative record. The Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee removed DLP — along with eight other members — from the committee for missing three consecutive meetings without an excuse. And he has lagged behind Diaz in the money race, loaning his campaign $443,500.

Diaz is considered the establishment favorite and has the money to show for it. He raised $809,725 for his official campaign account and another $420,500 for Rebuild Florida, his political committee, since jumping into the race. He’s received the backing from many of his House colleagues, who have spent their days in South Florida knocking on doors and campaigning for Diaz. He’s also received a helping hand from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and has been backed by the Florida Medical Association PAC and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Diaz spent more than $2 million — $703,172 from his official committee and $1.33 million from Rebuild Florida — on his campaign; while DLP has spent $331,886.

Matthew Isbell noted in a post Monday that the GOP primary is all about Hispanic voters. Nearly 80 percent of the likely GOP primary electorate will be Hispanic, and Isbell wrote that the vote-by-mail returns are more than 80 percent Hispanic, “a hair under the 83% they were in 2016.”

SD 40 is just under 75% Hispanic voting age population. Overall 38% of the voters in the district are Cuban.

The fight between Logan and Taddeo has been much tamer by comparison. Both are well-known in the district — Taddeo was Charlie Crist’s running mate in 2014, and has twice run for Congress; while Logan, a former Republican state Representative, challenged former Sen. Dwight Bullard in Senate District 40 in 2016. While she dropped out of the race, she still received 24 percent of the vote, mainly from Hispanic voters in the district.

Isbell notes Democrats lag behind Republicans when it comes to returning their absentee ballots, with 7,300 ballots returned compared to more than 10,000 GOP ballots. Taddeo has consistently outraised Logan, but Logan recently received an assist from an outside political group, which released mailers attacking Taddeo.

The winner of the Republican and Democratic primary will face Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth in the Sept. 26 special general election.

The Senate District 40 race isn’t the only race on the ballot Tuesday, though. Jose Mallea and Daniel Anthony Perez will face off in the GOP primary to replace Diaz, who resigned effective Sept. 26 to run for state Senate, in House District 116.

It’s “go time” as Jose Mallea faces Daniel Perez in Tuesday’s GOP primary for HD 116.

The winner of that election will face Democrat Gabriela Mayaudon in the Sept. 26 special general election.

— Caputo has a point: “If Mallea loses, it might be time to rethink how much Jeb’s endorsement matters.”

Ana Rivas Logan reports ‘You are dead’ Facebook post to police” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — The comment appeared on Rivas Logan‘s official Facebook page at 7:08 p.m. Sunday. “Michelle Obama sucked!!!!” a user named Minerva Rodriguez wrote. “If you are a democrat, then you are for raising taxes and flooding this country of illegal immigrants. Guess what? You are dead!!!@” After consulting with her attorney, Rivas Logan said she telephoned Miami-Dade police, who took a report by phone and assigned her a case number, as is routine. But no detective had followed up by Monday morning, prompting Rivas Logan to question how seriously police took the case. “What upsets me is, I just think it’s unequal treatment,” said Rivas Logan. “Somebody threatens Jose Felix Diaz, everybody goes to help him. You know, I have kids, too. I have family, too. Nobody cares. It’s like, ho-hum. The guy said to me, ‘There’s no imminent danger.’ There is imminent danger. I’m a public person. They can recognize me.”

Committee attacking Annette Taddeo paid rival Rivas Logan’s political consultant” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — Rivas Logan asserted earlier this month that she had no connection to a political committee attackingTaddeo. Rivas Logan claimed she’d even try to call the managers of the Floridians for Accountability committee after they mentioned Taddeo’s 11-year-old daughter in a campaign flier, but “they don’t answer their phones,” Rivas Logan said in a televised July 16 exchange. But two days later, Floridians for Accountability spent $250 buying photographs from a source Rivas Logan knows well: Her campaign’s political consultant, Pedro Diaz. A campaign-finance report filed by Floridians for Accountability … lists a $250 expenditure to “Diaz Campaigns” July 18 for “photos.” The Miami P.O. Box address listed is the same Rivas Logan has listed in her own report to pay “Diaz Consulting.”

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Not spotted: Florida on a list of 17 states where President Donald Trump’s approval rating is over 50 percent. Also not on the list, according to Axios: Texas, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio or North Carolina.

RNC: Bill Nelson, Democrats should fear Republican data operation” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Nelson is one of 10 Democratic senators from states that President Donald Trump won in 2016 thanks, in part, to his and the RNC’s sophisticated data-based operation to organize, train volunteers, model the electorate and move voters. In all, the GOP has spent $175 million on its voter-targeting program and trained more than 4,500 volunteer “fellows” through their Republican Leadership Initiative Institute nationwide since 2013, when the RNC studied the reasons for President Barack Obama’s successful 2012 re-election and his much-vaunted data operation … the RNC is surveying voters monthly across the state and nation, honing its message, identifying beneficial “wedge issues” and improving its mammoth three-terabyte database system that weds voter history and consumer information. After last year’s election and in recent weeks, the RNC has begun boasting of its program’s effectiveness in Florida as well as Wisconsin and Missouri.

Was Adam Putnam for amnesty?” via Amy Sherman of PolitiFact — Tony Fabrizio, a pollster hired by House Speaker Richard Corcoran who may challenge Putnam in the 2018 primary, cast Putnam as not being conservative enough. “He was for amnesty,” Fabrizio told POLITICO … while criticizing Putnam’s positions on a long list of issues … While in Congress, Putnam supported legislation that would have expanded work visa categories for undocumented immigrants and put them on a path to legal permanent status. After leaving Congress, he supported the 2013 immigration legislation, which wasn’t blanket legal residency but did include a path, albeit a long one, to legal status. Putnam’s campaign points to examples of legislation he supported that weren’t favorable to undocumented immigrants such as toughening up border security and opposing the DREAM Act. The claim is partially accurate but lacks important context. We rate this claim Half True.

Andrew Gillum committee upside down $88K through first two weeks of July via Florida Politics — July could be shaping up to be another slow month for the Tallahassee mayor. Forward Florida, the political committee backing the Democrat’s 2018 gubernatorial bid, has raised just $10,000 so far this month. The committee received the sole contribution on July 14, according to rolling donation data posted to the committee’s website. During the same time period, the committee spent $98,573, meaning it has spent $88,000 more than it has brought in.

Tweet, tweet:

What Gwen Graham is reading — “Blue Dogs eye comeback in 2018” via Heather Caygle of POLITICO — The Blue Dog Coalition, a fading wing of the Democratic Caucus in recent years, is leaning on a controversial ally as it tries to gain a toehold of power back to regain a toehold on power in the House: President Trump. The group of moderate and conservative Democrats, which was all but wiped out when Republicans swept the House in 2010, has been slowly rebuilding its membership. And with Democrats eager to woo the white working-class voters who flocked to Trump, the coalition is prodding party leaders to support Blue Dog-backed candidates, saying that’s the key to taking back the House in 2018. It’s a push that is quickly running into conflict with the party’s energized left flank.

Spotted: Reps. Charlie Crist and Stephanie Murphy in a Roll Call report about first-term Democrats outraising Republicans in the first and second quarters of the year.

Law enforcement backs Ed Hooper in SD 16 — The Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Sun Coast Benevolent Association has endorsed Ed Hooper in his bid to replace Sen. Jack Latvala in Senate District 16. “as a state representative, Hooper was a go to lawmaker that law enforcement count rely on,” said Matt Puckett, president of the Florida PBA, in a statement. “We proudly endorse Ed Hooper for the State Senate and look forward to continue working with him.” George Lofton, the president of the Sun Coast PBA, said Hooper has earned “the respect and the trust of the men and women who wear a badge and risk their lives for their respective communities.”

— Spotted: The Senate District 40 election on the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s “Spotlight Races” list.

Rene Plasencia backs Berny Jacques in HD 66 — Rep. Rene Plasencia has endorsed Berny Jacques in House District 66, Jacques’ campaign announced Monday. “Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Berny Jacques about his vision for House District 66,” said Plasencia in a statement. “I’ve found him to be a principled conservative who’s ready to fight for his constituents on day one! I give him my full support and look forward to having him as a colleague in the Florida House of Representatives.” Jacques is vying to replace Rep. Larry Ahern in House District 66. Ahern can’t run for re-election again because of term limits.

Three House members back Matt Spritz in HD 89 — Reps. Byron DonaldsAlex Miller, and Bob Rommel have endorsed Matt Spritz in his bid to replace Rep. Bill Hager in House District 89, Spritz’s campaign announced Monday. “Matt is a dynamic individual with a deep understanding of complex issues we are tackling in Tallahassee,” said Miller, a Sarasota Republican in a statement. “He has the right vision for how to move Florida forward.” Donalds, a Naples Republican, called Spritz a “principled conservative;” while Rommel, also a Naples Republican, said Spritz is “extremely dedicated to serving the public.” Spritz faces Democrat Ryan Anthony Rossi. Hager can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

More legislative hopefuls announce 2018 bids — LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates filed to run for legislative seats in 2018. Republican Judson Cooper Epperly is challenging Rep. MaryLynn Mager in House District 82. Epperly is the global director of international recruitment for Kaplan Medical. Republican David Hasenauer has thrown his hat in the race to replace Rep. George Moraitis, making him the first Republican to file for the seat. Three Democrats — Emma CollumJonathon May, and Stephanie Myers — have already filed for the seat. Moriatis can’t run again because of term limits. Democrat Deede Withorn is vying to replace Rep. David Richardson, who is running for Congress, in House District 113. The former Miami Beach commissioner filed to run in 2016 but later withdrew from the race. She will face Democrat Jeff Cyamon.


Fifty legislators received top marks from Americans for Prosperity-Florida, the largest number of A+ legislators since the organization began issuing its annual legislative scorecard.

The organization released its 2017 Economic Freedom Scorecard, which graded 5,500 votes on 96 issues, on Tuesday. The scorecard showed 50 legislators — 11 senators and 39 representatives — received an A+.

AFP-FL factors in committee and floor votes, with each vote carrying the same weight regardless of the issue, to calculate the score. This year, the group looked at how lawmakers voted on 96 key bills, including $600 million in tax cuts, school choice, and economic incentives.

View the 2017 Economic Freedom scorecard and take an in-depth look at the legislation used to score legislators by visiting

Sen. Greg Steube scored the highest in the Senate, with a score of 140 percent, followed by Sen. Tom Lee at 114.29 percent; Sen. Jeff Brandes with a score of 113.33 percent; Sen. Denise Grimsley with a score of 110.53 percent; and Sen. Dennis Baxley with a score of 106.67 percent.

Over in the House, Rep. Bryan Avila received the highest score with 108.1 percent, followed by Rep. Paul Renner at 106.1 percent; Rep. Jason Fischer at 105.7 percent; Rep. James Grant at 105.4 percent; and Rep. Chris Sprowls at 105.4 percent.

“I am thrilled to see that this year, 50 legislators earned an A+ on our Economic Freedom Scorecard,” said Chris Hudson, the state director for AFP-FL, in a statement. “That’s the most A+’s the Florida legislature has earned since we began publishing our annual report. Our activist base is growing, our network is expanding and always finding ways to maximize our impact, but we are far from done. I believe the best days are ahead of us, and we are committed to deliver even more victories in 2018.”

— LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools 

On: Amber Moody is a new support analyst for the House Office of Information Technology.

Off: Michael Ellis is no longer a journal writer/editor for the Legislative Process Division.

Off and on: Natasha Sutherland has replaced legislative analyst David Spore has left In the House Democratic Office.

Off: Cheryl Dewees is no longer budget assistant for the House Appropriations Committee.

Off: Sarah deNagy is no longer budget assistant for the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

Off: Nicholas Merlin is no longer attorney for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

On: Timothy Morris is the new legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.

On: Kyle Alexandre is a new legislative assistant for Ocoee Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy.

On and off: Luisana Perez moved from district secretary to legislative assistant in Miami Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez.

On and off: Tennille Moore moved from district secretary to legislative assistant for St. Petersburg Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson.

Off and on: Michele McCloskey has left as administrative lead for the House Commerce Committee to work for Bradenton Republican Rep. Jim Boyd as district secretary.

On: Stephany Montano is now district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

On: Sadie Haire is now district secretary for Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer.

Off: Amy Miller is no longer district secretary for Venice Republican Rep. Julio Gonzalez.

Off: Meagan Hebel is no longer district secretary for Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew.

Off: Coleton Reece is no longer district secretary in Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala.

Off and on: Rosana Fonseca changed from district secretary to legislative assistant for Orlando Democratic Rep. Amy MercadoMelissa Porcaro has become district secretary.

Off and on: Charles Smith is no longer legislative assistant in Fort Lauderdale Republican Rep. George MoraitisKassie Satterly is now a legislative assistant.

Off: RJ Myers is no longer legislative assistant for South Pasadena Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters.

Off and on: Jannette Nunez is no longer district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. David Richardson. Roberto Alvarez is replacing her.

Off: Matthew Spritz is no longer legislative assistant for Naples Republican Rep. Bob Rommel.

Off: Deniz Ozaltin is a new district secretary for Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg.

Off: Dalie Sejour is no longer district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Cynthia Stafford.

Off and on: Dennis Ragosta has changed for district secretary to legislative assistant for Ocala Republican Rep. Charlie Stone.

On: Donntay Cooper is the new district secretary for Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson.


Pete Antonacci confirmed as Enterprise Florida CEO at $165,000” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Hired without a formal search, Antonacci arrives with the strong backing of the most important person in EFI’s world, Gov. Scott, who delivered a strong endorsement of his former legal adviser. “He will clearly help get deals done,” Scott told board members. EFI vice chairman Stan Connally, who recommended Antonacci’s hiring, called him a “fantastic” pick, and board member Dominic Calabro of Florida TaxWatch called him “a real class act.” Antonacci has a long and diverse resume in state government. He served as Scott’s general counsel, as Scott’s appointee as interim state attorney in Palm Beach County and as the executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, whose members are Scott appointees. He’s a former lawyer and lobbyist with the Gray Robinson law firm and spent much of his career as deputy attorney general under Bob Butterworth, a Democrat who was Florida attorney general from 1986 to 2002.

Rick Scott announces Latin America summit in Miami, continues to speak out against Cuba and Venezuela leaders” via John Lucas of The Capitolist — Scott says the summit will bring together world leaders to improve current partnerships and build new relations that he says will better serve the interests of Florida, while promoting democracy and human rights throughout Latin America. “When I was elected Governor, I made a commitment to work every day to listen to Florida families and fight for what’s most important to them,” said Scott. “As the unrest and oppression continue in Cuba and Venezuela, I am hearing from more and more Floridians who are expressing the need for change in Cuba and Venezuela. I join them in demanding democracy and freedom across Latin America.” Scott recently has been speaking out in opposition to what he calls the “brutal and oppressive dictatorship” of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

First on #FlaPol — “Florida will pay $1M in legal fees over ‘docs vs. Glocks’ ” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott approved a deal to pay $1.1 million in legal fees to groups that “successfully challenged an NRA-backed Florida law that prevented doctors from talking to their patients about the risks of guns in the home,” according to a Sunday news release from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. One of the law firms, Ropes & Gray, “announced it would donate $100,000 of its fee award to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, enabling the center to expand its initiatives to protect children from the risks posed by guns,” the release said. Florida officials last month declined to appeal a federal ruling striking down the so-called “docs versus Glocks” law. In 2011, Florida lawmakers passed a bill which prevents doctors from asking patients about guns. Since then, a federal court invalidated several parts of the law.

“Appeals court sides with smoker’s family on new trial” via Florida Politics — The 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday ruled against cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris USA, ordering a new trial on pain-and-suffering claims lodged by the family of Norman Lamar Danielson. The court, however, shot down a request for a new trial on punitive damages. A jury “awarded (Danielson’s wife) $25,000 in economic damages, $0 for pain and suffering, and $325,000 in punitive damages. It awarded Mr. Danielson’s three children $100,000 each for pain and suffering,” the court said. The trial judge “granted a new trial on noneconomic damages because it found the jury’s verdict both inadequate and against the manifest weight of the evidence.” The appellate court agreed, noting “the parties stipulated to a $2.3 million amount of economic damages, which should have been reflected in the jury’s verdict.” But “no one argues that the $325,000 punitive damages award is excessive,” it said.

“Horse breeders can challenge divvying up of award money, court says” via Florida Politics — Breeders have legal standing to “challenge the annual plan for distribution of owners’ and breeders’ awards,” according to a unanimous appeals court decision Monday. In a case ultimately about who controls the money and how much goes back to horsemen and breeders, Southern Cross Farm had appealed a ruling from state gambling regulators. The (state) said the Ocala horse breeder couldn’t challenge the doling out of money from a pool managed by the nonprofit Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association, “specifically designated by the Legislature in 1977 to collect and distribute wagering prize monies as awards” … Monday’s opinion concluded, “the very persons the statutory framework was designed to benefit — breeders of Florida thoroughbred racehorses — (cannot) be excluded from administratively challenging a plan that, by statute, is intended to benefit them; and we are disinclined to do so absent clearer legislative direction.”

Jason Fischer calls for financial audit of Duval County schools” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Fischer, a former member of the Duval County School Board … in a letter to Joint Legislative Auditing Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Mayfield dated July 24, requests an operational audit into Duval’s budgetary and spending practices. “As a past Duval County School Board Member,” Fischer writes, “I understand the complexity of their local budget … I’m deeply concerned that the school district is taking their eye off the ball by considering frivolous lawsuits against the State rather than getting their financial house in order,” Fischer adds, referring to Duval’s consideration of suing over HB 7069, the “Schools of Hope” bill for which Fischer was a staunch advocate. Fischer has “major concerns” about what he calls “$21 million in overspending,” and hopes “this special audit brings clarity and reconciliation to the school district’s poor financial practices.”

FPL spends billions to strengthen power grid” via Tim Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — With the hurricane season expected to heat up soon, one of Florida’s largest power companies is completing a massive 14-year upgrade to strengthen the power grid and improve service and reliability in the face of storms. In Sarasota and Manatee counties alone, Florida Power & Light has enhanced more than 62 main power lines, inspected 122,372 power poles and installed more than 3,231 “intelligent” devices that detect and prevent power problems. After the ruinous 2004-05 hurricane seasons, when eight hurricanes raked the state, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage, the Florida Public Service Commission adopted rules requiring investor-owned utilities such as FPL to adopt plans to cost-effectively strengthen, or storm harden, the state’s electric grid. The nearly $3 billion statewide effort began in 2006, and was part of a push to make Florida a smarter, more storm resilient system.

Sea level rise is accelerating in Florida, scientists warn” via The Associated Press — The average person visiting a favorite beach or fishing hole surely won’t notice the difference. But soon, if the trend of the past 30 years continues, the impact will be hard to miss. Midrange projections by NOAA scientists — not the worst-case scenario — put the seas around Florida up to 17 inches higher by 2030, with the highest rise at Mayport, Fernandina Beach and Daytona Beach. With just a 9-inch rise in sea level, NOAA advisories for coastal flooding capable of causing “significant risks to life and property” could occur 25 times more often … He Higher seas would push seawater inland in waterfront areas along bayfronts in Sarasota and Apalachicola and in low-lying areas along the St. Johns, Suwanee and other rivers, flooding neighborhoods with increasing frequency and longer duration. Just 3 feet of sea level rise could force at least 1.2 million Floridians to abandon low-lying communities and migrate to higher ground, according to a study co-authored by Jason Evans, an assistant professor of environmental science at Stetson University. A six-foot rise could displace 6 million.

Report: Florida park official inappropriately touched worker” via The Associated Press — The report by the agency’s inspector general documents allegations made in 2015 against a manager of De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton … The male manager touched a female worker inappropriately, made inappropriate comments and invaded her personal space, according to the report, which redacts the names of the manager and employee. The female worker told investigators that the manager would sit or lie on her desk, hug her and once drove by her house. She asked him to stop and when he told her about driving by the house she told him “that this was ‘creepy’ and ‘stalker’ behavior,” the report said. “She told us that he also made unwanted comments to her and called her ‘pretty’ and ‘beautiful,’ which made her uncomfortable,” investigators said in the report. In the report, the manager denied harassing the worker, saying he only touched her while hugging. He denied invading her personal space.


Charlie Crist: Congress should make flood insurance accessible, affordable” via the Tampa Bay Times — Floods can happen anywhere and at any time. The National Flood Insurance Program has provided peace of mind and economic security to millions of American families and property owners for nearly five decades. For many, NFIP is the only choice they have for protection against floods. The biggest challenge facing NFIP is how to balance the solvency of the program with the rising costs of premiums. One of NFIP’s structural challenges is that it is deeply in debt — to the tune of $25 billion … The reality is that sea levels are on the rise and severe weather is occurring more often. This means NFIP will only become more important for Florida families … there is bipartisan work being done to strengthen the program and make it more affordable for policyholders. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the SAFE NFIP Act, which was introduced in the House by my friend, Rep. Clay Higgins and in the Senate by a group of bipartisan lawmakers, including Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio from Florida. From freezing interest payments on the debt to providing affordability assistance for those who need it most to promoting better mapping technology, the SAFE NFIP Act moves the program in the right direction.

Daniel Ruth: “Adam Putnam sells out to the NRA” via Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times — Putnam … went on an NRA boot licking tour a few days ago. He noted what a swell idea it is to permit gun owners to carry their little friends on college campuses, as well as endorsing proposals to allow the open carry of weapons in public places. Yep, this chap is really running for governor. It is entirely possible by the time the 2018 campaign gets into full swing, the Opie of open carry will be suggesting that any newborn infant in the state should be given a Glock in the maternity ward. It should hardly come as much of a surprise that Putnam would be hitting the campaign trail as an NRA marionette. Think of the agriculture commissioner as the Howdy Doody of Smith & Wesson. Putnam has so wrapped himself around the Second Amendment it is probably only a matter of time before he shows up at campaign events decked out as Patrick Henry.


“Personnel note: Daniel Ducassi moves to education beat for POLITICO Florida” via Florida Politics — Ducassi, who had covered regulated industries for the upstart subscription-based news site, takes over education coverage for Jessica Bakeman. She’s moving to public broadcaster WLRN in South Florida. Ducassi announced the beat change Monday on Twitter. The 2014 graduate of New College of Florida also covered crime and local government as an intern at the Miami Herald, according to his online bio. Before joining POLITICO Florida, Ducassi worked as a freelance writer and video producer and contributed to WLRN, The New Tropic and the Miami Herald. No word yet on who will fill Ducassi’s position.

“Personnel note: Joshua Gabel now with Florida Chamber” via Florida Politics — Gabel, formerly with Florida TaxWatch, is Director of Grassroots Development and Engagement at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, he reports. He’s responsible for working with local chambers to engage with the Florida Chamber and lawmakers in “advancing the local and statewide priorities that improve the lives of Floridians,” he said. Before his time at TaxWatch, he worked on Lenny Curry‘s campaign for Jacksonville mayor and for Meredith O’Rourke when she headed up Gov. Scott’s fundraising for the 2014 gubernatorial race. He also interned for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. He’s a 2016 Florida Politics ”30-under-30 Rising Star” and was featured in the Winter 2016 edition of INFLUENCE Magazine.

“Personnel note: Angela Adams Suggs to lead Florida Sports Foundation” via Florida Politics — Suggs is becoming president of the foundation, which serves as the Sports Industry Development Division of Enterprise Florida beginning Aug. 7. She also becomes Senior Vice President of Sports Development for Enterprise Florida. Suggs comes to the foundation from Florida A&M University where she has held various roles since 2009. Her most recent role has been the Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs and Senior Woman Administrator (SWA). “The Florida Sports Foundation is an amazing organization and I am honored to accept the president role,” she said. “Sports support jobs in all Florida communities and bring billions into our economy. I look forward to working with the board of directors, staff and industry leaders as we continue the growth of sports tourism and development in Florida.”

New and renewed lobby registrations

Gregory BlackJoanna BonfantiLarry WilliamsCameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Mada’n Kosher Foods, Inc.

Jorge Chamizo, Floridian Partners: Wellmerica LLC

Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: Jobs for Florida’s Graduates

Timothy MeenanKarl Rasmussen, Meenan PA: Magic City Casino

David Ramba, Ramba Consulting Group: Jobs for Florida’s Graduates

Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Copley Consulting Group



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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