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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – April 27

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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, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.

DONALD TRUMP, HILLARY CLINTON PRESS CLOSER TO GENERAL ELECTION SHOWDOWN

With five convincing victories in hand, Donald Trump strengthened his grip on the Republican primary race and pushed tantalizingly close to a general election showdown with Hillary Clinton. The Democratic front-runner is now 90 percent of the way to her party’s nomination after four solid victories of her own Tuesday.

The Republican race now turns to Indiana, where next week’s primary marks one of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz‘s last chances to slow Trump and push the race toward a contested convention. While Trump does need to keep winning in order to stay on his narrow path to the GOP nomination, he declared himself the party’s “presumptive nominee” after Tuesday’s results rolled in.

“It’s over. As far as I’m concerned it’s over,” he declared. The real estate mogul now has 77 percent of the delegates he needs.

While Trump was making his case, The Drudge Report spelled out the situation more directly:

eliminated

Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are desperately trying to force a convention fight. The challengers have even taken the rare step of announcing plans to coordinate in upcoming contests to try to minimize Trump’s delegate totals.

But that effort did little to stop Trump from a big showing in the Northeast, where he picked up at least 105 of the 118 delegates up for grabs. He now has 950 of the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination.

Trump’s victories came in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Clinton ceded only Rhode Island to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Wednesday will be a time for assessing what’s next for Sanders, who’ll be campaigning in Indiana. Watch his rhetoric in coming days for hints of futility. On Tuesday, he was still vowing “to fight all the way to the Philadelphia convention.” But lately, he’s allowed himself to be drawn into speculation over what Clinton would need to do to win over his supporters in the general election.

And no wonder: After Tuesday, she’s 90 percent of the way to the nomination.

POLL: TRUMP MAKES IT TO 50% NATIONALLY via Nick Gass of POLITICO – For the first time in the election cycle, Trump has the support of half of Republican and Republican-leaning voters nationwide, according to the results of the latest NBC News/SurveyMonkey online weekly tracking poll … Ted Cruz and John Kasich, meanwhile, are stagnant or losing ground. Trump earned 50 percent, an increase of four points from the previous week, while Cruz took 26 percent and Kasich grabbed 17 percent, both losing two points over the last seven days. Another 7 percent said they do not know who they would choose. The latest results signify the first time Trump has cracked the 50-percent mark in the survey, though he has been steadily increasing over the first few months of 2016. The Republican front-runner’s support jumped by six percentage points among those identifying solidly as Republicans, up to 49 percent from 43 percent the previous week. Republican support for both Cruz and Kasich has decreased over the last few weeks of surveys.

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CARLOS BERUFF SAYS IT’S NOT SAFE TO ALLOW ‘ANYBODY FROM THE MIDDLE EAST’ INTO U.S. via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – During the question-and-answer session that followed a speech to the Broward County Republican Party … Carlos Beruff was asked by someone in the audience about his “position on Muslim immigration.” “Ah ha,” he said. “I think our immigration department is broken. And I don’t think it’s safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country.” Most of the audience of about 200 Republicans gathered at Deicke Auditorium in Plantation erupted in applause and some cheers. When the response died down, Beruff added, “until they fix it.” Later, asked by a reporter how broad his ban would be, he said: “I think it’s pretty simple. We have a system that doesn’t work. When they fix that, I don’t care. But right now we have a terrorist threat that’s very real. You want to ignore it, but I don’t.” He said he would apply the ban to people from many countries. “Pretty much anybody that’s got a terrorist organization in it, which is pretty much all the Middle East.” Asked about Israel, he said the ban wouldn’t apply to people from that country. “I think Israel’s security measures are pretty strong,” he said. “Israel is an exception.”

DEM REAX

Florida Democratic Party’s Max Steele: “With these comments, Carlos Beruff has made it clear to Floridians that he lacks both the temperament and common sense to represent a proudly diverse state like Florida in the United States Senate. A blanket ban on “anybody from the Middle East” entering the United States is as absurdly misguided as it is bigoted. While Republicans are rightly worried about the impacts of Trump’s campaign on down ballot races, Beruff’s full embrace of xenophobia illustrates just how pervasive this problem has become for the Florida GOP.”

Patrick Murphy: “Carlos Beruff’s statement is not only disgraceful, but his full embrace of Donald Trump’s extreme bigotry is flat-out un-American. As a nation of immigrants, our country was founded on the principles of diversity and tolerance. It’s what makes America truly great. Mr. Beruff’s asinine comments and out-of-touch values are not just dangerous to our democracy, but are absolutely unacceptable for any candidate who wants to represent Floridians in the U.S. Senate.

BERUFF: ‘I STAND BY MY ANSWER’ via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Beruff found a new target … The media. And Democrats. “The liberal media is out of control,” Beruff said. “And Democrats refuse to deal with reality. They make things up, sensationalize common sense solutions and exacerbate this obsession over political correctness … I stand by my answer and will repeat: anyone with ties, or possible ties, to terrorism should not be allowed in the United States.” Beruff said he’d make an exception for U.S. entry for Israelis, because of that nation’s strict security measures. But … Muslims from elsewhere in the region should be kept out until the “immigration department” is “fixed.”

DAVID JOLLY CAMPAIGN DISMISSES TALK OF HOUSE RE-ELECTION BID via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times  It took us nearly a week and multiple requests for David Jolly to clarify whether or not he would rule out running for reelection instead of for the U.S. Senate, but finally tonight we received this official comment from David Jolly’s campaign spokeswoman, Sarah Bascom: “Jolly is focused on passing the Stop Act, doing his day job, and winning the U.S. Senate race.”

TWEET, TWEET: @EricJotkoff: I would have been on phone 45 secs after story posted debunking it if it was my candidate. Have w/ you & @adamsmithtimes … no matter what is happening, rumors of candidate dropping out are too toxic to not address asap. No excuses

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Beruff will be Miami; Carlos Lopez-Cantera will be in Tampa; and Todd Wilcox will be in Ocala and Jacksonville.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEADER BLASTS OPPONENT AS ‘MEL THE MOOCHER’ via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — The head of Florida’s medical marijuana initiative went on a Twitter rant Tuesday, targeting his chief rival, former Ambassador Mel Sembler, as a “moocher” who “can’t run with the big dogs.” John Morgan, who has spent $7 million of his own money to legalize medical cannabis, called out Sembler after the anti-drug crusader last week pledged to begin a fundraising drive to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment. Florida voters will decide the issue in November. “I don’t think Mel Sembler has any money. Why does he not write a check for $10 mil? It’s his cause. Step up big boy & match my $7MM,” Morgan tweeted. “Unless you’re broke, Mel… I dare you. Moochers are pathetic,” Morgan wrote in a follow-up.

GWEN GRAHAM SPENDS WORKDAY IN WEWA, TALKS RE-ELECTION DECISION via Valerie Garman of the Panama City News Herald – Graham … spent the day tending bees at L.L. Lanier & Son’s Tupelo Honey in Wewahitchka, a family business that spans three generations. Graham’s beekeeping workday came just days after a major announcement that she will not seek re-election to Congress this fall, but is instead “seriously considering” a bid for governor in 2018. With $1.8 million cash on hand in her re-election campaign fund, Graham said she is now in the process of notifying donors of her plans. “Anybody that wishes to have their donations returned, we will do so,” she said. “I think that’s the right thing to do.” She cited an “unbalanced” state government as one of the main reasons for considering a run for governor.

CORRINE BROWN LEADS AL LAWSON, 42%-37%, IN NEW POLL OF CD 5 RACE via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – In first poll of the Democratic primary … shows Brown with a slight edge … the choice of 42 percent … Lawson at 37 percent; 21 percent of the voters are undecided … Brown’s favorability comes in at 48 percent, and unfavorability at 19 percent, a range of roughly 2.5:1. She rates highly among all demographics except white voters, where her 34 percent unfavorability exceeds her 22 percent favorable rating. Lawson, meanwhile, has just 40 percent favorability and 25 percent unfavorability, a spread of not even 2:1. That said, in contrast to Brown’s trouble with white voters, Lawson has no demographics with which his unfavorability exceeds his favorable number. Each candidate had roughly a third of voters who had no position on either candidate. Lawson, who is African-American, was the preferred candidate of 52 percent of whites, with Brown holding the support of just 20 percent of that demographic. The balance of whites are undecided. Among African-American voters, meanwhile, Brown holds a commanding 52 to 30 percent advantage over her challenger, with the remainder undecided. Another interesting trend: the older the voter, the more likely they support Brown.

CARLOS SMITH, AMBER MARIANO DRAW NPA CHALLENGER IN HD 49 RACE via Florida Politics – Shea Silverman, a one-time intern for former state Senator and current U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, filed for the Orlando-based House seat April 14. Silverman currently works as a developer for the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida. In addition to his work at UCF, the NPA candidate designs and builds arcade cabinets and was successful in launching one of his custom “DeskCade” designs through online fundraising platform Kickstarter. Silverman is the third candidate to file for the HD 49 race, which is being vacated by Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, who moved his campaign over to the more GOP-friendly HD 50.

COLLIER EDUCATOR RUNNING FOR HOUSE SEAT WAS SUSPENDED BRIEFLY IN 2011 via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – … for talking online to a student and failing to report it to his superiors … The online conversation Victor Dotres carried out with a middle school student in November 2011 was not sexual in nature. Dotres said the student reached out to him because she was being cyberbullied. “I should have handled it differently, but if a kid asked for help I didn’t know the protocol,” Dotres said in an interview. “I thought what I had done was right at the time.” The Collier County School District suspended Dotres for three days over the incident, and the Florida Department of Education placed him on probation for two years. Dotres was an art teacher at Immokalee Middle School when the incident surfaced and he has since transferred to Estates Elementary School. He teaches technology and his subject areas include cyberbullying. “If I had done anything wrong, would I be teaching kids about cyberbullying?” Dotres said.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: State Sen. Jeff Brandes holds a kickoff reception for his re-election effort. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. RSVP with Rick Porter at 407-849-1112 or Rick@PoliticalCapitalFlorida.com.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: State Rep. Jason Brodeur kicks-off his house District 28 re-election with a fundraiser at the Red Cypress Brewery, 855 E. SR 434 in Winter Springs (located in the Senor Tequila’s Plaza. Event begins 5:30 p.m. RSVP to karis@JasonBrodeur.com.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: State Rep. Kathleen Peters hosts a fundraiser for her re-election effort in House District 69. Reception begins 5:30 p.m. at the Sirata Beach Resort Royal Palm Meeting Room, 5300 Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach. RSVP to Katie Ballard at 954-803-3942 or Katie@ballardconsult.com.

HAPPENING THURSDAY: Republican Jackie Toledo holds a fundraiser in support of her bid for House District 60. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Columbia restaurant 2117 E. Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. RSVP to JackieToledoCampaign@gmail.com or 813-444-8005.

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RICK SCOTT GETS NO BACKERS ON JEFF BRAGG, INSURANCE PICK POSTPONED AGAIN via Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post – The deadlock continues on picking Florida’s next insurance commissioner. Scott again moved his pick for Florida insurance commissioner, former Tampa-area insurance executive and federal administrator Bragg. He asked for a second from the four-member Cabinet. Silence. “Doesn’t look like there will be a second,” Scott said. “Where do we go from here?” Four candidates were available for questions … including Ray Blacklidge, executive vice president and general counsel for American Traditions Insurance Co. in Pinellas Park … Adam Putnam asked about media scrutiny for a job that is a “hot seat.” Blacklidge said, “I’m just a simple country lawyer and had a few bumps in the road” … Pam Bondi told Scott and [JeffAtwater, “The two of you need to come to an agreement first.” Putnam said, “We need to start eyeballing the runway.”

HERE’S WHY JEFF ATWATER WON’T ACCEPT JEFFREY BRAGG AS THE NEW INSURANCE COMMISSIONER via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Moments after Scott and Atwater, both Republicans, declared another impasse in picking a commissioner, Atwater told reporters that he doesn’t know if Pinellas County resident Bragg has the required private sector experience or regulatory experience to even legally hold the position of Florida Insurance Commissioner. “I don’t know the answer to that,” Atwater told reporters. Bragg … ran the nation’s terrorism risk insurance program from 2003 until his retirement in 2014. In the early 1980s, he worked under the Reagan Administration, serving in the Federal Emergency Management Agency where he was the administrator for the national flood insurance program. Between those appointments, Bragg worked in the private sector, including as a senior vice president for Zurich Risk Management from 2001 to 2003 and as executive vice president for IMSG in St. Petersburg from 1997 to 2000. Atwater made clear he is not saying Bragg does not have the skill set for the job, just that there were 2 other candidates in the room … that he would have felt more comfortable with. Atwater highlighted State Rep. Bill Hager and Belinda Miller, the current chief of staff for current insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty as the two he favored.

— “Finalist for Florida insurance commissioner once bankrupt” via Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post

SCOTT’S TOP LAWYER: KEVIN MCCARTY CAN’T STAY BEYOND MAY 2 via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – McCarty sent a letter April 20 saying he would stay on as insurance commissioner as long as it took to find his replacement. But William SpicolaScott’s general counsel, said McCarty can’t extend his stay. “McCarty cannot unilaterally extend his appointment after he, the governor and the cabinet all mutually agreed that his last day would be on May 2,” Spicola wrote. He said any changes to the already agreed-upon resignation would have to go before Scott and the full Cabinet.

SCOTT’S NEXT JOB CREATION TRIP? TO OCALA via Frank Creabino of the Palm Beach Post – Scott needs to travel to Ocala … It won’t even involve air travel, like his recent job-hunting trip to California … And just as with California, going to Ocala is certainly about jobs, jobs, jobs. The Marion County School Board will be taking up an emergency hearing to bar transsexual students from using school bathrooms that comport with their gender identity. This sort of governmental bathroom meddling is a real jobs killer. And Scott, who is laser-focused on job growth in Florida, doesn’t even need to formulate new language to explain it. As he has said before, “We don’t just want more jobs — we want our state to be an engine for job growth for generations to come.” Creating discriminatory laws against minority members of a population is a generations-past, not generations-to-come, move. If Scott showed up at the Marion County School Board … to speak against the bathroom measure, it would send a clear message that Florida has taken a stand for jobs, and also for doing the right thing.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a 10 a.m. news conference in Miami to highlight budget funding for state homes and other service providers across Florida to protect victims of human trafficking. Location is PACE Center for Girls, 1400 NW 36th St., Suite 200, in Miami.

THE ROBES ARE BLACK, BUT SCOTT’S JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS MOSTLY WHITE via Michael Mayo of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Since becoming governor more than five years ago … Scott has appointed only one black to Broward’s bench, former prosecutor Kal Evans in 2014. In that same span, he has chosen three relatives of connected locals for court vacancies: Elizabeth Scherer (2012, circuit court), the daughter of Republican fundraising heavyweight attorney Bill SchererStacy Ross (2013, circuit court), the daughter of former Broward chief judge Dale Ross; and Nina DiPietro (2015, county court), the wife of Republican bigwig David DiPietro, who since has had a falling out with Scott and quit his chairman post at the North Broward Hospital District, also known as Broward Health. It comes off as arrogant and insensitive for the governor to keep passing over qualified black applicants to go with the Friends and Family Plan. That’s especially noticeable in a county where nearly 29 percent of the population is black, but only six of 90 judges (6.6 percent) are black.

JOE NEGRON: SCOTT AND I ‘STRONGLY ALIGNED’ ON GOALS FOR FLORIDA UNIVERSITIES via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Enhancing the State University System — and adding $1 billion in funding to it over two years — is a priority for Negron as he’s poised to take over the Senate in November. Last week, Negron and a handful of other senators toured all of the universities to learn about each institution’s needs and goals. “I updated the governor on some of the things that we learned during the university tour,” Negron told reporters after the meeting at the Florida Capitol. “I think there’s a strong alignment of policy and budget goals, with my commitment to universities.” Scott‘s spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said Negron “requested a meeting to discuss his priorities.” She had no comment on what they discussed, because the governor typically doesn’t talk about private meetings. Negron said Scott has a summit planned next month in Orlando, “where he’s bringing in large employers, boards of trustees and university and community college presidents.” Schutz confirmed the event will be called the “Degrees to Jobs” Education Summit. It will be held May 25-26, and a list of speakers should be announced later this week.

AG CONSIDERING NEW RULES TO CURB FALSE RESTAURANT CLAIMS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Tuesday that he is working with other officials on new rules in response to a Tampa Bay Times investigation. The report, called “Farm to Fable,” found restaurants misrepresented the source of food on their menus and passed off imported seafood and vegetables as Florida-grown. It also highlighted merchants at farmers markets reselling vegetables and claiming they grew them. “There’s no question that there’s a role for the state in this effort,” said Putnam, elected statewide to protect consumers, as well as farmers. “Lying to customers not only is misleading and fraudulent activity, but it undermines what we have spent years building up, which is this brand that locally grown Florida products are high-value products worthy of higher prices.”

DOC: PLAN FOR RE-ENTRY CENTER EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSE, FOR NOW via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida — Corrections will not release a “transition plan” touted by secretary Julie Jones as a way to best move forward after the controversial planned closure of a Broward County prisoner re-entry center. She said in a statement released Monday that the plan would “ensure a smooth transition” for all the services the center currently offers. The department, however, says the only document containing the plan is exempt from state open record laws because it was drafted at the direction of its attorneys to prepare for an administrative bid protest filed by Bridges of America, a nonprofit that had the state contract to operate the center. Department spokesman McKinley Lewis said the exempt document contains the elements of the transition plan, but the actual transition plan itself is not on paper and has only been discussed verbally.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Here’s today’s policy-packed lineup at the Health Care Affordability Summit at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

– 8:30 a.m.: Honored Speaker Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera

– 9 a.m. : Special Guest Speaker Hadyn Parry, CEO of Oxitec

– 9:30 a.m.: Business Matters: The Costs & Benefits of Health Care Coverage on Florida Employers moderated by state Sen. Rene Garcia. Panelists: Audrey Brown, President & CEO of Florida Association of Health Plans; Olesya Fomenko, Ph.D., Economist at Workers Compensation Research Institute; Doug Leonardo, Executive Director of BayCare Behavioral Health.

– 10:30 a.m.: Florida’s Healthy Future: Leadership Roundtable Wrap-Up moderated by Jose Gonzalez, Chair of the Foundation of Associated Industries of Florida. Panelists: state Sen. Wilton Simpsonand state Rep. Chris Sprowls.

FRANK TSAMOUTALES AND MIKE HARIDOPOLOS SETTLE LAWSUITS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Lobbyist Tsamoutales and former Florida Senate President Haridopolos have settled their respective lawsuits against each other, court records show. Tsamoutales sued first in February, in Leon County. He is based in Tallahassee but has clients across the United States. Tsamoutales filed a fraud and breach of contract complaint, saying Haridopolos “trad(ed) on his former political positions to receive large sums of money” instead of “performing meaningful work.” Haridopolos responded in kind in Brevard County courts. The former senator lives in Merritt Island. He was state Senate President in 2010-12 and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, ending his campaign in 2011. His lawsuit charged Tsamoutales, a longtime friend, with never paying him for the lobbying work he did. Each side denied the other’s accusations.

WHAT JEFF BRANDES IS READING — GOOGLE, FORD, AND UBER JUST CREATED A GIANT LOBBYING GROUP FOR SELF DRIVING CARS via Andrew Hawkins of The Verge – A who’s-who of carmakers, technology companies and ride-sharing startups are joining forces to pressure the federal government on the issue of self-driving cars. Ford, Google, Uber, Lyft, and Volvo announced the formation of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, a lobbying group with the express purpose of advocating autonomous driving. It’s a power move by some of the most high-profile names behind the still nascent technology, made at a time when regulators and policymakers in Washington, DC are still wrapping their heads around the concept of self-driving cars. The coalition will be headed up by David Strickland, a former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). He will serve as the group’s counsel and representative. In essence, Strickland will be lobbying his former agency, which has been tasked by Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to come up with a set of rules for self-driving cars by early summer. The timing of the announcement is significant because NHTSA is about to convene the second of two public hearings on self-driving cars.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Kimberly Case, Holland & Knight: KG Health Partners

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: Lighten Up, Inc.

Jerald Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Dennis and Graci McGillicuddy

Jennifer Ungru, Jones Walker: Right at Home Sarasota County

PERSONNEL NOTE: DAVID KOTLER JOINS NATIONAL LAW FIRM SPECIALIZING IN CANNABIS BUSINESS LAW via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Hoban & Feola, a national law firm specializing in cannabis and hemp business law [is] adding an attorney in Florida. The firm has brought on David Kotler, a medical marijuana attorney based out of Boca Raton. “The addition of expert attorneys such as David Kotler supports our mission of offering the cannabis and hemp industries the most qualified and experienced legal counsel in the country,” said Robert Hoban, managing partner of Hoban & Feola, said in a statement. “David’s expertise will provide the firm and our clients with a strong presence in a state that is making great strides toward decriminalization.” Hoba & Feola is a Colorado-based law firm that has attorneys across the country, including in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. Kotler serves on the Advisory Board of the Cannabis Marketing Lab and serves as general counsel for the Florida Cannabis Industry Association.

PERSONNEL NOTE: SARAH GRIFFIN JOINS WILBUR SMITH LAW FIRM AS DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT via Florida Politics – Fort Lauderdale firm Wilbur Smith Attorneys at Law announced hiring Sarah Griffin as director of business development. Griffin is an alumna of Florida SouthWestern State College, where she earned a degree in biology, and before joining Wilbur Smith, she worked in real estate sales for MLS Realty. “We are thrilled to welcome Sarah to our team. As our firm continues to grow and advance, we have no doubt that Sarah will be an invaluable resource for both our firm and our clients,” said Managing Partner Sawyer C. Smith.

SACHS MEDIA WINS POLLIE AWARD FROM ASSOCIATION OF POLITICAL CONSULTANTS via Florida Politics – Sachs Media Group took home a prestigious Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants at its annual awards conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Tallahassee-based public affairs firm won the award for its 2015 “Healthy Pools” campaign, which pulled in organizations including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Swimming Pool Foundation to refute the myth that chlorine in pools turn people’s eyes red. That symptom is instead caused by urine. “This campaign generated tremendous outcomes for one of our most important clients,” said Michelle Ubben, partner and COO of Sachs Media Group. “We’re immensely honored to receive this award and so proud of our team for the outstanding work they put into this campaign.”

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FLORIDA MANATEEE GIVES BIRTH TO TWINS via The Associated Press — Scientists say a manatee that swims in waters near Sarasota has given birth to rare twins. The Herald-Tribune reports the manatee, Tomo-Bella, who has been observed by marine biologists since 1993, was spotted by an onlooker in a canal on Siesta Key this month with the twin calves. According to a news release, the onlooker took video of the family and sent it to Mote Marine Laboratory, which confirmed the mother’s identity.

FLORIDA, MIAMI AGREE TO RENEW FOOTBALL RIVALRY IN 2019 via The Associated Press – The Gators and Hurricanes have agreed to open the 2019 season to Camping World Stadium, the new name of the Citrus Bowl. It will be their first meeting since 2013. The in-state rivals have a storied history, with the teams first playing in 1938 in Gainesville. Miami leads the series 29-26, including wins in seven of the last eight games. The teams played annually until 1987, but have met just six times since. They played once previously in Orlando, where the Gators beat the Hurricanes 19-10. The neutral-site game is part of the Camping World Kickoff series that also includes season openers in 2016 and 2018 in Orlando.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful father-in-law, Papa Ben.

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