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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.01.16

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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.


The presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are heading to Florida this week.

The campaign of the Republican nominee announced Saturday that Trump will hold an afternoon town hall meeting in Daytona Beach and an early evening rally in Jacksonville. Both events are scheduled for Wednesday. The campaign did not announce the exact locations.

The Clinton campaign announced Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine is scheduled to visit Volusia County next Tuesday. The campaign did not release any additional details.

President Barack Obama won Florida in 2012. But recent polls have shown that the race is tight between Clinton and Trump in the Sunshine State.

DONALD TRUMP’S TOUGH WEEKEND via Matthew Nussbaum of POLITICO — With an imaginary letter, a disputed invitation and controversial comments about a fallen soldier’s parents, Donald Trump’s weekend was not going well even before he seemed to endorse the Russian annexation of Crimea, in opposition to U.S. policy and international law. This was a weekend Trump may hope to forget, and one Democrats will work hard to make sure voters remember. It seemed to demonstrate all of the flaws — trouble with the truth, an inability to let criticism go unanswered and a lack of knowledge of world affairs — that Democrats hope will be the billionaire’s undoing come November.

There was an attempt … to arrange a meeting with Charles and David Koch, the deep-pocketed conservative donors who have so far shunned Trump. That attempt was rebuffed by the Kochs …. But Trump took to Twitter on Saturday night to say no, it was actually the Kochs who tried to arrange a meeting, but he rejected them.

There was Trump’s claim that the NFL sent him a letter complaining about the debate schedule. The NFL says no such letter exists.

And there were attacks on the family of the late Capt. Humayun Khan, insinuations that his mother was forbidden from speaking while onstage at the Democratic National Convention and a claim that his father had “no right” to disparage Trump.

All of that came before the airing of an interview Sunday in which Trump appeared to endorse the Russian annexation of Crimea, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that “the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.” He also stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not going into Ukraine” before admitting “well, he’s there in a certain way.”


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TRUMP DEFENDS HIRING FOREIGN WORKERS: IT’S “VERY HARD” TO GET EMPLOYEES AT PALM BEACH CLUB via Kyle Blaine of BuzzFeed News — … telling ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that it’s difficult to find employees in the U.S. during the “Palm Beach social season” …. Trump filed applications this month for temporary visas to bring in 78 workers for his Mar-a-Lago club and his golf course. “Mar-a-Lago’s a very successful club in Palm Beach, Florida, the Mar-a-Lago Club. And during the season, it’s very, very hard to get employees,” Trump said … “We interview. And we have a lot of people. We come with a lotta people. But it’s very, very hard to get people in Palm Beach during the Palm Beach season. It’s called the ‘Palm Beach social season.’ And what we do is we sometimes have to bring people in.” Pressed on the number of foreign workers he has hired, Trump said, “I don’t hire the people. But if you look at all of the other places in Palm Beach, they’re all doing exactly the same thing because you can’t get people, George.” Trump has made bringing jobs back to the United States and putting American workers first a major part of his campaign message. Trump said, though, that he thinks voters understand why he hires foreign workers for his own businesses. “I think the voter understands it,” he said. “Because they understand that I, you know, you’re not reinventing the wheel here with these questions. These questions get asked all the time. I’ve been asked about Mar-a-Lago. I have many places where I don’t have to do that because you have a normal season.”

ELECTORAL MAP GIVES TRUMP FEW PLACES TO GO via Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times – Even as Trump has ticked up in national polls in recent weeks, senior Republicans say his path to the 270 Electoral College votes needed for election has remained narrow — and may have grown even more precarious. It now looks exceedingly difficult for him to assemble even the barest Electoral College majority without beating Hillary Clinton in a trifecta of the biggest swing states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Trump appears to have pushed several traditional swing states out of his own reach. According to strategists on both sides of the race, polling indicates that Clinton has a solid upper hand in Colorado and Virginia, the home state of Sen. Tim Kaine, her running mate. Both states voted twice for George W. Bush, who assiduously courted Hispanic voters and suburban moderates … Trump had a real but tenuous path to victory, involving a smaller map of swing states than typical for a presidential nominee … Trump would certainly have to seize Pennsylvania, which has not voted Republican since 1988. In private, Trump advisers say the campaign now takes a colder and more clinical view of the electoral map. Trump, Republicans believe, may have even fewer ways to count to 270 than Romney and McCain had, because of his debilitating unpopularity with women and nonwhite voters.

KOCH NETWORK REFUSING TO HELP TRUMP via Steve Peoples of The Associated Press – From a luxury hotel on the edge of the Rocky Mountains, some of the nation’s most powerful Republican donors are rebelling against Trump. Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, host of the exclusive weekend retreat, did not mention Trump by name as warned that political leaders are giving “frightening” answers to America’s challenges. One of his chief lieutenants was more direct as he made clear that Koch’s expansive political network would not use its tremendous resources to help Trump win this fall. “We’re focused on the Senate,” said Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president of Koch Industries. He noted none of the presidential candidates are aligned with the Koch network “from a values, and beliefs and policy perspective.” Trump’s dire warnings of growing crime in America, Holden said, simply aren’t accurate. “We’re much safer,” Holden said. “That’s what the data shows.” Koch described the 2016 “political situation” this way: “We don’t really, in some cases, don’t really have good options.” The comments came Saturday, the first of a three-day gathering for donors who promise to give at least $100,000 each year to the various groups backed by the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners — a network of education, policy, and political entities that aim to promote a smaller, less intrusive government. Trump thumbed his nose at the gathering from Twitter. “I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch,” the New York billionaire tweeted. “Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!”

POLL: HILLARY CLINTON RIDES CONVENTION BUMP PAST TRUMP via Cameron Easley of Morning Consult – The former secretary of state leads the brash businessman, 43 percent to 40 percent, in a new Morning Consult survey taken in the days following the DNC gathering. It’s a seven-point swing from the previous poll, in which Trump surged to a four-point lead following the Republican National Committee’s convention in Cleveland … Part of Clinton‘s gains can be attributed to her increased support from independent voters and men. In the new poll, Clinton leads Trump by one point, 43 percent to 42 percent, among men. Last week, Trump beat Clinton by eight points among men.

MORE POLLING — A new CBS News/YouGov poll in 11 battleground states finds Clinton leading Trump, 43 percent to 41 percent. Last week, Trump has a one-point lead. Clinton gained with Democrats who’d been undecided before the convention, plus some other voters who’d been unsure, but virtually no one is vacillating back and forth directly between Trump and Clinton. … A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds Clinton leading Trump by six points, 41 percent to 35 percent, with another 25 percent picking “other.”

EPILOGUE — TRUMP’S SPEECH WAS WORST GALLUP HAS POLLED Full results here  Trump’s speech got the least positive reviews of any speech we have tested after the fact: 35 percent of Americans interviewed last weekend said it was excellent or good. Of the nine previous speeches we have rated, the top one was Barack Obama’s in August 2008, which 58 percent of Americans rated as excellent or good.

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PHANTOM WRITE-IN CANDIDATES BAR MORE THAN 1 MILLION VOTERS FROM FLORIDA ELECTIONS via Steve Bousquet and Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – This year, [JamesBailey and 34 other people have filed as write-in legislative candidates across Florida, exploiting a notorious loophole that nullifies the amendment’s purpose. Even though write-in candidates have never won an election, state courts regard them as legitimate candidates. In races like House District 54 that means Bailey’s candidacy shuts out independents and Democrats in the primary. Write-ins are blocking full voter participation in six Senate districts and 14 House districts on the Aug. 30 primary ballot, disenfranchising 1.6 million voters. Shrinking the voter pool allows candidates to tailor messages to the extremes: the most conservative or most liberal voters in their party. The result could mean more lawmakers at the far ends of the political spectrum. Election officials are fed up with the practice and the refusal of both parties or the Legislature to fix it. “This wink-wink, nod-nod causes people to distrust the process,” said Mike Ertel, supervisor of elections in Seminole County. “It’s gamesmanship. It’s been going on for years, and has to change.”

MORE CALVARY ARRIVING FOR PATRICK MURPHY by way of a $520K ad buy by the Floridians for a Strong Middle Class super PAC. Ashley Walker, who is coordinating the buy emails: “Republicans are scared of running against Patrick Murphy; they know he’s the strongest candidate against Marco Rubio so they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to distort his record before the Democratic primary. In the U.S. Senate, Patrick Murphy will work to strengthen social security and medicare, will protect a woman’s right to choose, and will work tirelessly to fight for middle class families in Florida.”

IN SARASOTA, MARCO RUBIO IGNORES GOP OPPONENT IN SPEECH, WHILE CARLOS BERUFF SLAMS THE INCUMBENT via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — During a speech in front of roughly 800 people inside Robarts arena … Rubio made clear that Republicans need to make sure “Donald Trump wins this election” and didn’t even mention the name of his primary opponent … Beruff. Since announcing he would seek re-election late last month, Rubio has shown only tepid support for his party’s presidential nominee, a fact that Beruff has used as a political battering ram to win over GOP voters. Beruff has mirrored his campaign to Trump’s. Despite Rubio’s embrace of Trump onstage … Beruff said he was unimpressed. “That’s politician shit,” Beruff told reporters. Beruff also spoke before the same crowd, taking the stage before Rubio. He slammed the Miami lawmaker as a typical politician out of touch with his Florida constituents. In his speech, Beruff … sought to cast Rubio as a career politician. Rubio has been an elected public official for more than two decades. “That is the only thing he knows how to do,” Beruff told the crowd. Beruff has started pushing Rubio for a debate, which so far has not gone very far. Rubio told a reporter part of the reason he has not yet agreed to any debates is the fact that he announced his re-election bid so late. “We got into the race so late, I don’t know too much about what has been scheduled or talked about,” Rubio said. “I’m going to look into that.” Beruff expressed sarcastic disbelief when asked if he thought Rubio was trying to ignore him. “Ya think?” he said with a laugh.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Rubio will visit AMSkills at 12:30 p.m. at AMSkills, Pinellas Technical Education Center, 6100 154th Ave. N. in Clearwater. Rubio is scheduled to tour AMSkills a a trade apprenticeship program for high school students, and discuss the need for higher education reform. Media interested in covering the event should RSVP to

CARLOS BERUFF ITCHING FOR A DEBATE WITH MARCO RUBIO via Jeremy Wallace of the Miami Herald – Beruff is out with a new web-ad again accusing Rubio of being afraid to debate him. “He won’t show up because he’s afraid to debate Carlos Beruff,” a narrator says in the 30-second web video. Beruff has agreed to attend at least three debates, but his campaign said Rubio has yet to confirm for any. Last week, Beruff issued a similar message through a statement calling on Rubio to “man up.” Ironically it was Beruff who was accused of ducking debates earlier in the campaign before Rubio jumped back into the contest. In June when he faced three other lesser-known opponents, Beruff skipped a forum where he would have faced them. When pressed days later during an interview on a Sarasota television program about why he didn’t agree to debate them, Beruff said he’d debate when “there’s somebody worth debating. At this point, I don’t think there is any.”

HOW BERUFF AVOIDED $235,000 IN TAXES LAST YEAR via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – In at least two Florida counties he has the additional titles of farmer and lumberjack. While the wealthy land developer has never worked a plow or chopped trees himself, he has been able to shield nearly 2,000 acres of future development land from taxes by claiming an exemption created a half-century ago for Florida’s farming communities. Beruff, who vows to cut taxes if elected, avoided paying $235,000 in 2015 taxes for his business holdings. He did it by claiming that 1,884 acres his companies bought to develop in the future are agricultural land because they are leased to cattle companies or have planted pine trees or other crops. While Beruff is not a farmer, the exemptions are all legitimate, his campaign says. “Carlos and his company acquired significant land holdings and now have decades-worth of forward inventory,” Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline said. “The company leases out some of their land to farmers who don’t have the resources to buy land or expand their farms. Other parcels of land are used for industrial agriculture.”

FLORIDA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE APPEARS TO STILL BE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald — Florida newcomer and Democrat “Rocky” Roque De La Fuente entered the state’s U.S. Senate race in late June, after moving to Orlando in March from his home state of California. But even as he filed his Senate candidacy in Florida June 20, De La Fuente continued to loan and spend money for his presidential campaign based in San Diego, Federal Election Commission records show. And despite landing a spot on the Aug. 30 primary ballot here, he’s still working to get on other states’ ballots for the November general election as an independent presidential candidate. According to his most recent FEC report, De La Fuente gave his presidential campaign another $389,500 June 30, making $6.4 million that De La Fuente has personally loaned that campaign. Last month, he also continued to spend tens of thousands of dollars on consultant fees, transportation and other bills, spending $362,000 in all in June. Included in the expenses: a $250 filing fee to the “State of New Hampshire” … De La Fuente filed a “declaration of intent” in early June to run as an independent presidential candidate in the general election. He has until Sept. 7 to submit petition papers to qualify for the New Hampshire ballot. This month, he also reportedly sought to get on the November ballot in Georgia, too.

2020 WATCH — RICK SCOTT’S NEXT JOB via Gary Fineout for his blog, The Fine Print – Shortly before prime-time Wednesday night, Scott got a few moments on Fox News to deliver the announcement that he was becoming the national chairman of Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC dedicated to helping GOP nominee Donald Trump become president. … in many ways it’s a big signal about the political ambitions and possible future of Scott. First off Scott’s work for the group — which includes political director Ken McKay (who worked on Scott’s 2010 campaign and was political director for the Republican Governors Association) — will give him a spot to approach donors and network with top Republicans across the nation. It may also give him an opportunity to land more national media coverage in the weeks to come.

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MATT GAETZ HIGHLIGHTS DEDICATION TO LAW ENFORCEMENT IN NEW CD 1 VIDEO — In a new video, sent to supporters this weekend, Gaetz highlights his work on behalf of the enforcement. The nearly 40-second video — called “All Lives Matter” — features law enforcement officers talking about his service. “Rep. Gaetz has certainly received the Florida Sheriffs Association Legislative Champion Award for a reason, and that’s because he’s a friend of law enforcement,” a sheriff’s official says in the video. In the email, Gaetz tells supporters “now more than ever we must stand with law enforcement, because the people meant to protect us from violence should never become its targets.

GAETZ SAYS HE AGREES WITH SHERIFF, BLACK LIVES MATTER IS A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION via Tom McLaughlin of – Gaetz has announced on Facebook he supports Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley’s stance that the Black Lives Matter group is a terrorist organization. “I stand with Sheriff Ashley. Whether it’s politically correct or not, any group that calls for the killing of law enforcement officers is considered a terrorist organization,” Gaetz said in a post that ran over a recent article Ashley wrote in support of his position. Ashley made his comments July 14 in responding to a question posed at a Democratic Party event. Several in attendance voiced outrage at the sheriff’s comments, noting that Black Lives Matter had been formed in response to several highly publicized incidents of police shooting and killing young black men. Gaetz eagerly stood by the Facebook post … “Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization because the leaders of that organization regularly lead chants advocating for violence against law enforcement,” he said. Gaetz said if he were elected to Congress and given a seat on the House Judiciary or Homeland Security committees, he would call in the U.S. Attorney General to ask for a definition of domestic terrorism, then “ask them to classify Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization.” Asked if he thought such a call might meet with resistance, Gaetz said he didn’t care.

NORTH FLORIDA NEIGHBORS DROPS NEW AD TO SUPPORT MATT GAETZ IN CD 1 — The super PAC released a new advertisement, saying the Fort Walton Beach Republican wouldn’t back down if elected in Florida’s 1st Congressional District. “Matt Gaetz will respect and support our military, protect life and our right to bear arms. Matt Gaetz will secure our borders and defend our values, and end policies that coddle terrorists … and kill them,” an announcer says in the 30-second spot. “Cutting taxes, bringing jobs, protecting veterans. Matt Gaetz won’t back down.”

HANS TANZLER TAKES A SWIPE AT “LIBERAL JOHN RUTHERFORD” IN NEW AD — The Tanzler campaign released a new 30-second spot Friday, which is meant to draw a clear contrast between Tanzler and Rutherford in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. “Northeast Florida voters want a true conservative representing them in Congress,” said Tanzler. “John Rutherford and I have very different records, and I think it’s only fair that District 4 voters see the contrast. I am proud of my “A” rating from the NRA, and I am committed to reining in out-of-control spending and government growth in Washington.”

RICK SCOTT PRAISES FRANCIS ROONEY IN NEW CD 19 CAMPAIGN AD — The advertisement, which began airing in Southwest Florida over the weekend, was shot during a recent fundraiser Scott attended to support Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. According to the Rooney campaign, the advertisement appears to be the first time Scott, who endorsed Rooney, has appeared in a congressional advertisement. “I will be proud to have Francis Rooney as my congressman. He’s a conservative. He’s going to make sure we grow jobs. He also knows we have to protect our water. Francis will fight every day to destroy radical Islam. And Francis Rooney believes in the Second Amendment,” the governor says in the advertisement. Rooney will face Republicans Chauncey Goss and Dan Bongino in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE HELPS WITH RESCUE IN I-95 SEMI CRASH via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A cataclysmic semi-crash on I-95 near Max Leggett Parkway blocked three lanes. But the real story was the condition of those in the crash. And that’s when Rutherford sprang into action. The accident happened when Rutherford was headed from one candidate forum to another. An 18-wheeler rear-ended another one, blocking traffic and (more importantly) imperiling life. And Rutherford took action. Without hesitation, he drove right up to the semi, jumped out, and tried to pry open the door to get the one driver out. Within 60 seconds, fellow citizens answered the call and tried to help pull apart the trucks with crowbars and rope. Another candidate, Bill McClure, also helped. Rutherford assures us, through a member of his campaign staff, this was a collaborative effort, with Rutherford, McClure, and others coming together to help out in meaningful ways.

TRIAL DELAYED UNTIL OCTOBER FOR CORRINE BROWN, CHIEF OF STAFF via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – U.S. Magistrate James Klindt approved a request by attorneys for Brown and Ronnie Simmons, her chief of staff, who were indicted this month on a combined 24 counts including mail and wire fraud and conspiracy. Klindt’s order didn’t specify a date the trial would start, saying only that it would be in “the trial term commencing Oct. 3,” meaning it could start then or later in the month. The trial was originally set for Sept. 6. All sides are due back in court Aug. 9 for a hearing updating the case’s status.

RON DESANTIS MOVES TO FLAGLER COUNTY via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – … following changing Congressional district boundaries, his campaign manager confirmed … DeSantis, who represents Florida’s 6th District, last week moved with his wife, Casey, to a rented oceanside condominium, said Brad Herold. DeSantis lists his new home as Marineland, a tiny town of 17 in northeast Flagler County, but the address where he is registered to vote is technically in Palm Coast, said Kaiti Lenhart, the Flagler County elections supervisor … new congressional district boundaries that meant DeSantis’ Ponte Vedra Beach home is no longer in the 6th, but now the 4th Congressional District. The boundaries eliminated chunks of St. Johns and Putnam counties, and added southern Volusia and eastern Lake counties. “It’s important to him,” Herold said. “He has spent the past four years representing these communities in Flagler and Volusia counties. He think it’s important he move into the district he represents.”

TIM CANOVA SIGNS UP BERNIE SANDERS MEDIA CONSULTANTS via Gabriel Debenedetti of POLITICO Florida – Tad DevineMark Longabaugh, and Julian Mulvey, who helped lead Sanders’ campaign and drove his highly acclaimed media presence, will help Democrat Tim Canova‘s campaign in the closing days of his race against [DebbieWasserman Schultz in South Florida, where congressional primaries will be held Aug. 30. It’s the latest move from Sanders supporters to go after Wasserman Schultz, after their outrage stemming from leaked emails drove her to resign as chairman of the Democratic National Committee this week. The move is a concrete step forward in Sanders’ attempt to spread his “political revolution” after the end of his presidential campaign and another boost to Canova, a previously little-known law professor who has raised millions of dollars for his run against Wasserman Schultz. It’s also the first tangible sign of heavier involvement from his political circles in down-ballot races between now and November. The consultants’ firm, Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, was behind spots like the famous “America” ad that helped define Sanders’ campaign as he rose to prominence against Hillary Clinton, and it has worked for a wide range of down-ballot campaigns this cycle.

CANOVA’S POLL SHOWS HE IS 8 POINTS BEHIND DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – The poll showed that Wasserman Schultz leads 46-38 percent with 16 percent undecided. Her lead narrows after the pollster provided positive and negative information about the candidates, but the press release from Canova‘s campaign didn’t reveal the information provided to voters … The poll showed 52 percent of respondents view Wasserman Schultz favorably and 35 percent unfavorably while 13 percent have no opinion of her or never heard of her. For Canova, his favorable-unfavorable split is 32-8 percent. But the poll shows Canova’s biggest weakness: 60 percent of voters have no opinion/never heard of him. Despite his national media exposure due to Bernie Sanders endorsing him and his prolific fundraising, he is a first-time candidate who isn’t well-known in the district. Wasserman Schultz has been an elected official for more than two decades — first in the state Legislature and elected to Congress in 2004. This was the first poll released in the race so far. There have been no public polls and Wasserman Schultz’s campaign hasn’t commented about polling.

EMAIL INSIGHTS: TIFFANIE LANDE DEFENDS EX-HUSBAND RITCH WORKMAN via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — In the message, she says she is one of Workman’s “biggest supporters,” and her family is “sticking together when it counts.” The message was first posted to her Facebook page … Workman shared it in an email to supporters … “Recently there have been a lot of negative attack ads against Ritch because of his campaign for the Florida Senate … I’m sure many of my friends have seen and maybe read some of the ugly things being said about him, so I want to take a quick minute or two and address a few of them.” Lande then addresses several issues — including alimony reform, Workman’s vote on tuition for students in the United States illegally, and accusations he frequented Ashley Madison … When it comes to alimony reform, Lande said Workman’s support for measures to eliminate lifetime alimony had “nothing to do with” her. She said she was the primary breadwinner, and Workman would have been entitled alimony for his life under current law. Lande said Workman “neither asked for nor took a dime from me.”

POLL: NO CLEAR FRONT-RUNNER IN SENATE DISTRICT 19 RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — A new survey by St. Pete Polls found 26 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would vote for Ed Narain if the primary were held today. Nearly 23 percent picked Darryl Rouson, followed by 18 percent who picked Augie RibeiroBetty Reed pulled 16 percent support. About 17 percent of voters said they were still undecided … While the survey found all of the candidates have positive favorable ratings, it also appeared to indicate many voters in the district have yet to form an opinion about them. In all four cases, more than 40 percent of respondents said they were “unsure” when asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidate … 39 percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Narain, while 12 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) said they were unsure when asked their opinion of Narain. About 36 percent of voters polled said they had a favorable opinion of Reed, while 16 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of former state lawmaker. Forty-eight percent of voters polled said they were unsure … 39 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Rouson, while 20 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him. About 42 percent of people said they were unsure … And when it comes to Ribeiro, 47 percent of people said they were unsure when asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the St. Petersburg attorney. Nearly 32 percent said they had a favorable opinion; while 21 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion.

WATER TOP ISSUE IN DISTRICT 27 FLORIDA SENATE RACE via Laura Ruane of  — To be sure, other topics cross the lips of Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and challenger Jason Maughan. But people are hopping mad over Lake Okeechobee water pollutants and lake discharges to the east and to the west. Lee County is several weeks into an algae-driven state of emergency, although Southwest Florida has not seen the severity of toxic blooms afflicting the East Coast. Southwest Floridians want solutions. Candidate conversations … suggest Benacquisto and Maughan differ on the likely methods and pacing for attacking the problems. Benacquisto thinks progress is being made, and that she’s played a key role. She co-sponsored the “Legacy Florida” bill passed in April, which creates an annual dedicated source of funding to protect Florida’s environment, and water resources in particular. The dedicated funding includes: up to $200 million for Everglades restoration; up to $50 million for Florida springs; and $5 million for Lake Apopka. The Everglades portion includes “a priority toward projects that reduce the discharges, that reduce the need for discharges to the east and to the west (of Lake Okeechobee),” Benacquisto said … “It is no small feat,” Benacquisto added of the bill she helped pass. Benacquisto, whose major campaign funders include big agribusinesses in the Everglades Agricultural Area, said water quality “is not an issue that anyone can push a button and fix tomorrow.” She added: We need other places for the water to go: storage projects primarily.

KEVIN RADER: ‘KEVIN RADER SCARED IRV SLOSBERG OUT OF THE SEAT.’ via Alexandra Seltzer of the Palm Beach Post — Rader … showed off some muscle when he met with The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board to answer questions about his campaign for state Senate District 29. Literally. When The Post’s board asked Rader why he thought state Rep. Slosberg switched campaigns at the last minute, Rader said, “He was scared to run against me.” And then he flexed his muscle. “The only thing I can attribute that to is the strength and muscle of Kevin Rader scared Irv Slosberg out of the seat,” Rader said, lifting up his arm. Slosberg, who is now running for state Senate District 31, first opened a campaign against Rader in state Senate District 29 but switched at the last minute. Now Slosberg is running against State Sen. Jeff Clemens and Emmanuel Morel, and Rader is running against Mindy Koch. “That is such a stupid quote,” Slosberg said over the phone. And it’s false, he added.

SAVE DADE SNUBS TWO GAY CANDIDATES IN SENATE NOD via Elaine DeValle of Political Cortadito – Miami-Dade’s premiere LGBT rights group came out with new endorsements — and snubbed two gay candidates in one race … SAVE Dade endorsed former prosecutor Jason Pizzo for the state Senate race in District 38 over former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns and former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora — both of whom are openly gay, both of whom have won Champion of Equality awards, and both of whom are, needless to say, verklempft. “My track record on SAVE Dade is perfect. I’ve passed more LGBT legislation than anyone,” Góngora said. Said Burns: “To choose somebody who doesn’t have a record, who hasn’t done one single thing for this community, is definitely questionable.” But a look at the campaign reports might provide the answer as to why Pizzo — whose endorsement is announced at the same time as the endorsement for immigration activist Francesca Menes for State House District 108 — was picked: Both Menes and Pizzo hired Christian Ulvert as their campaign manager. Ulvert was chair of SAVE Dade’s executive board until he stepped down last year over concerns he was mixing business with activism. Ulvert owns Edge Communications and works with several political candidates and referendums on local campaigns. He helped get Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava elected, worked for Dan Gelber’s campaign for Attorney General and is currently working on the Senate campaign for Jose Javier Rodriguez and the House run of Nick Duran. He may have resigned from the SAVE board in 2015, but he is a high-profile Democrat (recently political director for the Florida Democratic Party) who still influences SAVE behind the scenes. The executive director he hired is still there. His buddies are still on the board. “I just don’t believe the process is a fair one,” Góngora said. “I believe it’s been tainted by money.”

DISTRICT 40 STATE SENATE PRIMARY IS AN UNFRIENDLY AFFAIR via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Dwight Bullard and Andrew Korge are both Democrats, but their primary election has the elements of a bitter partisan fight. Bullard, an incumbent state senator running in a new district, accused Korge of offering him $25,000 to switch to a different Senate race. The state attorney’s office opened an investigation into the allegations. Former Republican state representative and school board member Ana Rivas Logan entered the race as a Democrat in May and dropped out about a month later, citing a need to take care of her parents and a disdain for “in-the-gutter” campaign tactics. Bullard recently met with the state attorney’s office regarding the alleged offer of payment and said the exchange was “very candid and very open” … “I know that Mr. Korge’s reactions have been that I’m making this stuff up and keeping it in the media to stir the pot,” Bullard said. “I’m not stupid in the sense of wanting to endanger my livelihood and reputation to disparage another person for political gain.” In a statement to the Miami Herald, Korge said: “I unequivocally deny the accusation that I offered Dwight Bullard $25,000 cash” … Korge added: “Dwight solicited me, it is very clear, there is clear record of that. It’s a sophisticated political attack he’s employing because he thinks it’s the only way he can win.” Bullard denies asking Korge for money to switch districts.

HOUSE CANDIDATE ONCE PUNCHED A WOMAN, HAS LONG HISTORY OF ARRESTS via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – State House candidate Roy Hardemon refers to himself as a “model citizen … I’m always helping and putting people first … Every project that I’ve done I’m a model for the community. Follow my Facebook page and you’ll see the things I’ve already done and continue to do.” Hardemon’s Facebook page shows the Democrat standing next to basketball hoops at Bannerman Park and houses on Northwest 58th street he “made happen.” What it doesn’t make any mention of Hardemon’s lengthy criminal history. For the past 30 years, Hardemon’s life has been a revolving door with the criminal justice system. He was unable to recall how many times he has been arrested when asked by a Miami Herald reporter. Hardemon, 54, has been arrested 19 times since 1987 and charged with 35 different crimes, 12 of them felonies. The charges range from felony battery and kidnapping to municipal violations for trespassing.

TIM TEBOW WON’T WRITE OFF POLITICS via Ralph Russo of the Florida Times-Union – The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and former Florida quarterback is getting prepared to begin another season as an analyst with the SEC Network and ESPN. He also is working with the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, which honors college football players for their community service and good deeds. Tebow was a member of the 2009 Good Works Team and is now trying to put a spotlight on how other football players — such as Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson — are making a difference away from the field. “It’s even more important in this day and age, in today’s culture where we have so much dividing us,” Tebow said … “We have so many, 165, young people that have the pressure of competing for their schools and teams and in the classroom and they are still finding ways to help others. They are making huge impacts and changing people’s lives.” Where does his future lie? Hard to say. Both coaching and politics are alluring. “I love what coaching is,” he said. “I love the fact that coaching is teaching and it’s helping and it’s mentoring and it’s loving and it’s being a father figure. That is something that has always intrigued me.”

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

FLORIDA’S NEW ABORTION LAW WILL REMAIN BLOCKED FOR NOW via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press — Gov. Scott is not going to appeal a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who in June put a temporary hold on portions of the law while a lawsuit seeking to overturn it makes its way through federal court. Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott, said his administration will continue to defend the law in federal court but said state agencies will not appeal the injunction “to avoid greater uncertainty while we await the court’s decision.”

“Gov. Scott is a pro-life governor who believes in the sanctity of life,” Schutz said in an email. “Gov. Scott is continuing to fight for this legislation in court, which was passed with significant support in the legislature.” Hinkle blocked the law just hours before it was scheduled to take effect. The measure passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature and signed by Scott prevents state funds from going to an organization that provides abortions. It also added new inspection requirements on abortion clinics.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend the opening of the Florida Police Chief Association annual summer training conference at 8 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, 5001 Coconut Road in Bonita Springs. He will then host a Zika preparedness roundtable at 1 p.m. at the City of Pinellas Park Chamber of Commerce, 5851 Park Blvd., 2nd floor in Pinellas Park.

U.S. SUGAR, RIVERS COALITION BATTLE IN NEWSPAPER ADS via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — U.S. Sugar — which farms more than 215,000 acres mostly south of Lake O and employs 1,700 people — fired the first salvo with a series of ads in numerous media, mostly in April and May. On July 20, the Rivers Coalition — a consortium of more than 70 businesses, homeowners associations, nonprofit agencies and fishing clubs representing about 300,000 Treasure Coast residents — fired back with an ad in The Stuart News and the St. Lucie News Tribune headlined: “Big Sugar blocks the truth.” On July 24, U.S. Sugar replied with an ad in The Stuart News accusing the coalition of “name-calling” for using the term “Big Sugar” and disputing whether the flow-way would work. A response by the coalition isn’t likely, said Darrell Brand, a director of the nonprofit Rivers Coalition Defense Fund. “We don’t have the budget for it,” Brand said. The rivers coalition ad looks a lot like the U.S. Sugar ads, with a map of the South Florida “plumbing” system with arrows showing where water flows and should flow. Instead of U.S. Sugar’s photos of citrus and a smiling farmer, the Rivers Coalition ad features photos of dirty water pouring through the St. Lucie Lock and Dam and algae-infested water. “There wasn’t a conscious effort to recreate the U.S. Sugar ad,” Brand said. “We’ve had that map on our website several years.”

MARIJUANA DISPENSARY PLANNED FOR PENSACOLA via Will Isern of the Pensacola News-Journal – The first medical marijuana dispensary in the state opened its doors in Tallahassee, and the CEO of the dispensing company says a Pensacola location is on the way. Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, said Wednesday the company has identified a location within Pensacola city limits, received zoning verification, and is in the permitting phase with the Department of Health. City spokesman Vernon Stewart confirmed that Trulieve had submitted a zoning verification form for 3119 N. Davis Highway.

OPEN GOVERNMENT LAWSUITS AGAINST CITY, PENSION FUND COST TAXPAYERS MORE THAN $2 MILLION via Eileen Kelley of the Florida Times-Union — By year’s end, the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund and the city of Jacksonville will have spent at least $1.82 million in taxpayer money after being sued over public records and meetings laws violations. The city has been sued twice and the pension fund four times since 2010. Throw in the 2,406.2 billable hours that attorneys for the city have expended defending its cases, and the total value of not following the state laws is more like $2.16 million. Times-Union Editor Frank Denton filed a lawsuit in 2013 against the city of Jacksonville, Mayor Alvin Brown, and the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund’s board of trustees after learning that the two governmental entities had met in secret some 70 miles away to hammer out pension benefits. No notices of the meetings were given to the public ahead of time. In fact, the public only learned about the meetings after a pension reform bill was put up for a City Council vote. Within months of the filing, a judge sided with Denton, but that didn’t end the legal showdown. It dragged on for years after the pension fund failed to concede and attempted to take the matter all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. In February the state’s highest court declined to hear the case. The true cost to taxpayers for this fight was $459,927. The newspaper won back its legal fees after the city, the pension fund and the paper’s lawyers agreed to a settlement: The pension fund must pay $156,000 and the city $114,000. In the end, all the money is coming from city taxpayers. The paper recently received its checks.

PUBLIC RECORDS SUIT ON RESEARCH MONKEYS IS DROPPED via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Primate Products, Inc. of Hendry County, the Florida Department of Agriculture and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) jointly agreed to drop the case. That means documents the company said contain “trade secrets” are now public record. The department released the records …  Primate Products breeds and sells “nonhuman primates for use in biomedical research,” the suit said. “Now we may be able to find out what happened to monkeys like Loretta, who plucked out her own hair after she was housed in a dangerous social grouping and attacked by other monkeys,” PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in an email. “The records have always been — and should remain — available to the public,” she added. The documents identify labs around the country that bought and received the company’s rhesus and macaque monkeys.

ETHICS COMMISSION CLEARS STAFF DIRECTOR FOR LOBBYING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Florida Commission on Ethics says a legislative bill drafting staff director isn’t covered by the state’s lobbying ban on some state workers. The commission approved a staff-written advisory opinion … Joseph Gillespie, the staff director of the House of Representatives Bill Drafting Service, requested the opinion last month. The office’s bill drafters write the first draft of bills for lawmakers to file. In a letter, Gillespie told the commission he “will be seeking positions that require me to represent other persons or entities before the Legislature and register as a legislative lobbyist.” State law, however, says certain state employees “may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the agency with which he or she was employed for a period of two years following vacation of position, unless employed by another agency of state government.” The opinion said the law includes only staff directors of legislative committees, party offices or those of the House Speaker’s Office or Senate President’s Office, so Gillespie isn’t bound by the two-year lobbying ban.

APPOINTEDTommy Ford as Bay County Sheriff.

REAPPOINTEDDoug Bournique to St. Johns River Water Management District.


Ivette Arango ODoskiMarnie George, Buchanan Ingersoll Rooney: Florida Economic Development Council
Doug Bell, Kimberly McGlynn, Buchanan Ingersoll Rooney: NOPE Task Force
Paul Bradshaw, Southern Strategy Group: Viper Ventures LLC
Kimberly McGlynn, Buchanan Ingersoll Rooney: Tableau Software
Melissa Shuffield: Florida East Coast Industries

WHAT BILL CARLSON IS READING — CUBAN OFFICIALS TOURING ST. PETERSBURG AS THEY EYE CONSULATE LOCATION via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Alejandro Padrón, Cuba’s consular general from its embassy in Washington, D.C., and his second in command, Armando Bencomo, were in St. Petersburg … and took a tour of its real estate assets led by Dave Goodwin, the city’s director of planning and economic development. Such a tour did not take place in Tampa. “They have some interest in our city and they want to get to know more about it,” said Joni James, CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, which along with the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability sponsored the delegation’s trip. “We are happy to help them learn what a great place it would be to have a consulate.” … There is competition between Tampa and St. Petersburg to host the Cuban Consulate. The Tampa City Council, Hillsborough County Commission and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce have voted in favor of bringing the consulate to their community. The chamber also sent a delegation to Cuba in May 2015. But the St. Petersburg City Council voted for a consulate to open in that city as well. The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership also sent two delegations to Cuba in the past year and welcomed one from the island nation to its city in December. Perhaps most importantly, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has established a personal relationship with the Cuban government through two trips to the island nation.

MANNY GARCIA NAMED A REGIONAL EDITOR FOR USA TODAY NETWORK via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Garcia, who joined the Naples Daily News as editor in October 2013, will assume his new job immediately. In his new role, he will direct editors across the eastern region of the country … His territory includes more than 50 markets from Florida to Vermont where parent company Gannett Co. Inc. owns and operates newspapers. “Manny is the perfect person to help lift up our local editors. He has an incredible track record for producing high-quality reporting. And he has an infectious optimism for our ability to adapt and grow as we work to expand our digital reach to new audiences,” said Randy Lovely, vice president for community news for the USA TODAY Network, in a statement. During Garcia’s time at the Naples Daily News, the newsroom added a Tallahassee bureau, elevated investigative reporting, increased diversity, created an internship program, and expanded coverage of local communities. Daily News stories have exposed government waste, led to reforms and comforted victims. Readers have responded to those in need with major financial donations, college scholarships, medical care, and transportation — even showing up in the newspaper’s lobby with checks and cash in hand.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

CONGRATS to Anna Alexopoulos and Matt Farrar on their engagement.


WORST NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND – GAME OF THRONES: HBO CONFIRMS SEASON 8 WILL BE LAST via James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly – EW asked the network’s new programming president Casey Bloys if he plans to go along with showrunners’ David Benioff and Dan Weiss’ oft-stated desire to end their fantasy hit with season 8. Bloys said yes, that is the current plan – the first time somebody at HBO has confirmed this. “Yes, they have a very specific plan about the number of seasons they want to do,” Bloys said at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills … “Believe me, as the new [programming executive] coming in, if I could get them to do more. I would take 10 more seasons. But we take their lead on what they think they can do the best version of the show.” The showrunners have also planned for the eighth season to consist of merely six episodes. On that front, however, Bloys said the exact number of season eight episodes is not yet final. We then asked if the team is considering a Thrones spin-off to continue the valuable franchise. Thrones is one of TV’s most watched shows with 25 million total viewers this year across all platforms. “We’ve talked about it,” he said. “It’s something I’m not opposed to, but of course it has to make sense creatively.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to one of my Top 10 favorite potential gubernatorial candidates, Adam Putnam, as well as David Cardenas, David Kochel, and David Cardenas. Celebrating today are Daniel Nordby and Karen Unger as well as friends Ashley Mayer Kalifeh, Kartik Krishnaiyer, and Brian Shuford.

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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