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Sunburn for April 4 – Crystal balling Florida; Marco Rubio for NFL Commish?; Rick Scott’s peaceful revolution; David Jolly meets Bono

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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.


University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato’s latest Crystal Ball prediction of the 2016 presidential election spells gloom for the Republican Party this November.

The longtime political analyst is predicting that if it’s a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup, it will be an Electoral cCollege blowout, 347-191.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball is a weekly online political newsletter and website that analyzes American politics. In the new column, written by Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley, the authors acknowledge that while it’s an “extra-early, ridiculously premature projection” that could change after the conventions and a possible third-party candidacy. However at the moment, the electoral map doesn’t look very competitive for the GOP going into November.

Nearly a year ago, Sabato put Florida into the “toss-up” column, but no longer.

Now the Sunshine State is being put into the same bucket of other swing states like Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa and Colorado. The Sabado Crystal Ball has now moved all seven states from “toss-up” last May, to now “leaning Democratic.”

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“While some will fall to the Democrats less readily than others, it is difficult to see any that Trump is likely to grab,” the authors write, adding that four normally Republican states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) “would be somewhat less secure for the GOP than usual.”

But what about the possibility of Trump expanding the electoral map, as some pundits have speculated could happen with his stances on trade and other issues that could bring along disaffected white workers?

“The problem is, there is little evidence that the non-college voters supporting Trump in the primaries are defectors from the Democrats; most have been backing GOP candidates fairly consistently, so the net addition for Trump could be small,” the authors write. “Nor do we buy the theory that increased Republican primary turnout this year means Trump is going to bring out millions more white and primarily male voters that weren’t excited by John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Maybe there will be higher white male voter participation, but there will probably be augmented, heavily Democratic minority turnout to balance it.”

Although a Clinton-Trump matchup could be an electoral embarrassment for the GOP, Sabato says that because of the political polarization in the country, this would not be an overwhelming victory for the Democrats with the popular vote, as were the blowouts in 1964 and 1972. He sees Clinton taking less than 55 percent of the two-party vote.

The Crystal Ball believes that Ted Cruz would definitely be an electoral improvement for the Republicans, but he would not have enough to secure victory over Clinton. He writes that the “irony” is that Clinton was always an eminently beatable candidate, but more mainstream candidates like John Kasich and Marco Rubio simply haven’t inspired Republican voters.

Bernie Sanders is never mentioned in Sabato’s Crystal Ball predictions.

ELECTORAL MAP IS A REALITY CHECK TO DONALD TRUMP’S BID via Jonathan Martin and Nate Cohn of The New York Times – The electoral map now coming into view is positively forbidding. In recent head-to-head polls with one Democrat whom Trump may face in the fall, Clinton, he trails in every key state, including Florida and Ohio … In Democratic-leaning states across the Rust Belt, which Trump has vowed to return to the Republican column for the first time in nearly 30 years, his deficit is even worse: Clinton leads him by double digits in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania … Trump is so negatively viewed, polls suggest, that he could turn otherwise safe Republican states, usually political afterthoughts because of their strong conservative tilt, into tight contests. In Utah, his deep unpopularity with Mormon voters suggests that a state that has gone Republican every election for a half-century could wind up in play. Republicans there pointed to a much-discussed Deseret News poll last month, showing Clinton with a narrow lead over Mr. Trump, to argue that the state would be difficult for him. … without an extraordinary reversal – or the total collapse of whoever becomes his general-election opponent – Trump could be hard-pressed to win more than 200 of the 270 electoral votes required to win. … What could ensure a humiliating loss for Trump in November are his troubles with constituencies that have favored Republicans in recent elections … independents … white women … Even among the working-class whites … Trump would enter the general election with substantial difficulties. He is viewed unfavorably by a majority of whites without college degrees.

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WHY WISCONSIN’S PRIMARY COULD BE AS IMPORTANT AS NEW HAMPSHIRE via James Pindell of the Boston Globe – [Wisconsin’s] primary may matter and function more like those initial nominating contests than the more recent primaries. Through March, presidential campaigns were focused on clusters of contests … But winning Wisconsin’s primary is not so much about the delegate count as the momentum it could induce (or halt) in the Republican and Democratic races for president. “Because it is the only contest that day, the Wisconsin primary could serve as a campaign reset,” said Republican strategist Rick Wiley, who ran Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign. “Republicans will be campaigning there for two weeks straight, and the result could serve as a major momentum boost.” Republicans haven’t had a vote anywhere since March 22 (Arizona and Utah), and the party has been focused on the Badger State ever since. After Wisconsin, there isn’t another major contest for either party for another two weeks … This means that if a candidate picks up any momentum in Wisconsin, it could stick with them for a while. After all, two weeks is longer than the eight days between the Iowa caucuses to the New Hampshire primary. The campaigns have been pretty transparent about the role Wisconsin could play.

FOX BUSINESS NETWORK POLL: TED CRUZ LEADS IN WISCONSIN via Dana Blanton of FoxNews – Cruz garners 42 percent among Wisconsin likely GOP primary voters, while Trump receives 32 percent. John Kasich comes in third with 19 percent. Among just those who say they will “definitely” vote, Cruz’s lead over Trump widens to 46-33 percent, and Kasich gets 16 percent. There is a big gender gap. Women back Cruz over Trump by a 19-point margin (46-27 percent). The two candidates are much closer among men:  Cruz gets 40 percent to Trump’s 35 percent. Cruz’s advantage over the real estate mogul also comes from self-described “very” conservative voters, who give him a 36-point lead (61 percent Cruz versus 25 percent Trump). White evangelical Christians voting in the GOP primary prefer Cruz over Trump by 49-28 percent. Trump has beaten Cruz among this key voting bloc in more than 10 contests so far, according to the Fox News exit poll. Cruz is ahead of Trump among those with a college degree (42-30 percent) as well as those without a degree (44-34 percent). Independents can vote in Wisconsin’s open primary — and are more inclined to back Trump (37 percent) than Cruz (26 percent) or Kasich (26 percent).

MORE POLLING: A new Loras College poll in Wisconsin finds Cruz leading the GOP presidential primary with 38%, followed by Trump at 31% and Kasich at 18%. On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Sanders 47% to 41%.

10 REASONS BERNIE SANDERS WILL PROBABLY WIN WISCONSIN, EVEN THOUGH POLLS SHOW THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY WITHIN THE MARGIN OF ERROR via James Hohmann of The Washington Post – Hillary underperformed in Wisconsin eight years ago … Wisconsin’s demographics favor Sanders … The rules allow Bernie to expand the electorate … Hillary is particularly weak among younger women in Wisconsin … Bernie’s core supporters are most engaged … The state has a long tradition of embracing radical/revolutionary progressives like Bernie … Sanders benefits from Scott Walker backlash … The Sanders campaign is investing more resources and time … The left-leaning editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has been harshly critical of Clinton … Hillary’s support for free trade is a drag.

IN A REVEALING INTERVIEW, DONALD TRUMP PREDICTS A ‘MASSIVE RECESSION’ BUT INTENDS TO ELIMINATE THE NATIONAL DEBT IN EIGHT YEARS via Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of The Washington Post – In his first 100 days, Trump said, he would cut taxes, “renegotiate trade deals and renegotiate military deals,” including altering the U.S. role in [NATO]. He insisted that he would be able to get rid of the nation’s more than $19 trillion national debt “over a period of eight years.” Most economists would consider this impossible because it could require taking more than $2 trillion a year out of the annual $4 trillion budget to pay off holders of the debt. … Trump said he would want high-level employees of the federal government to sign legally binding nondisclosure agreements so that staffers couldn’t write insider accounts of what it’s like inside a Trump White House.

TRUMP’S ABORTION FLUB SHOWS RISKS OF ‘WINGING IT’ ON POLICY via Jill Colvin of The Associated Press – The episode demonstrated the extent to which Trump has glossed over the rigorous policy preparation that is fundamental to most presidential campaigns … At a town hall on CNN earlier this week, Trump appeared to falter when asked to name what he believed were the top three priorities of the federal government. Among his answers: health care and education. Trump has vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law and gut the budget of the Department of Education. … This week, Trump called into a series of radio stations in Wisconsin, apparently unaware the interviews were likely to be combative. At the end of a remarkable interview in which he compared Trump’s behavior to that of “a 12-year-old bully on the playground,” WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes asked Trump if he was aware he’d called into someone unabashedly opposed to his candidacy. “That I didn’t know,” Trump said.

TRUMP ALLY ROGER STONE SAYS HE’S PLANNING “DAYS OF RAGE” AT THE CONVENTION via Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed News – Stone … says he’s trying to organize protests at the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer to disrupt any effort by the party to “steal” the nomination from the frontrunner … announcing a “Stop the Steal March on Cleveland” … he is planning “#DaysofRage,” a seeming reference to the Weatherman-organized Days of Rage protests that took place in Chicago in 1969. Asked to elaborate, Stone said he was talking about “rally-protests -at delegate hotels street theater.” Stone said the campaign was not involved in organizing this, instead saying the protests will be “organized by Trump nation,” but said that “we did inform them.” Stone hinted at unrest at the convention, saying “I think there’d be extreme anger by the Trump supporters. I don’t know that it would boil over into violence. Trump is certainly not advocating violence.”

WHY HASN’T MARCO RUBIO GOTTEN BEHIND CRUZ? via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times –Is there a 2020 calculation at work? Rubio has appeared to help Cruz by seeking to retain the 172 delegates he picked up before leaving the race. If it comes down to a contested convention, Rubio could stymie the front-runner. Some tongues are wagging about Rubio also putting himself in contention, but that’s House of Cards fiction, for now. Rubio’s delegate grab — which he has not publicly discussed — has drawn media attention and social media commentary. Some have praised him for thwarting Trump, but many activists feel he’s playing games. Whatever Rubio’s motivations, the Florida senator is clearly working to keep himself in the conversation.

MEANWHILERUBIO SETS HIS SIGHTS ON THE NFL via Emily Smith of the New York Post – [R]umors are running wild that he could be heading to the Miami Dolphins. Sources said Rubio, who won’t run again for his Florida Senate seat, could potentially land an executive role with the team. But a Dolphins insider insisted, ‘Nope, nothing to it. He is a huge fan, though.

IN OP-ED, RICK SCOTT SAYS HE WANTS A “PEACEFUL REVOLUTION” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – In an opinion piece penned for the conservative website Newsmax … Scott writes that it’s time for a “peaceful revolution” in our politics. “With a majority of Americans unhappy about our current course, America’s next president will have to begin a revolution of multigenerational change …Our next president must be willing to take on the many promises big government has made to us over the years that we know they can’t afford to keep. Who actually believes Social Security will be there for them when they retire? Who has been helped by losing the doctors and insurance plans they liked because they were forced to take government-run insurance? Who is confident that ISIS is losing its battle against freedom?” The column is also an unapologetic argument for American exceptionalism, a theme that many Republicans have returned to in this campaign some seven years after the country elected Barack Obama president.

DAVID JOLLY’S MIDDLE EAST SOJOURN INCLUDES HANGING OUT WITH BONO via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Jolly … visited a refugee camp that is the home to victims displaced by the war in Syria. The GOP senate candidate posted photos from the trip on his Facebook page, including one with rock icon and global humanitarian Bono. Jolly’s part of a contingent of lawmakers who made the national security and intelligence trip to meet with the prime ministers of Israel and Turkey, the king of Saudi Arabia and the president of Egypt. South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is also part of the contingent. Jolly visited with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he called for an increase to the annual foreign aid budget to Israel from $3.1 billion to $5 billion.

POLL: ALAN GRAYSON, PATRICK MURPHY NECK AND NECK IN FLORIDA’S DEMOCRATIC SENATE PRIMARY via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Grayson barely leads Barack Obama-backed Murphy … 33 percent to 32 percent, in an automated poll of likely Democratic voters commissioned by two political groups supporting Grayson … Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America. “Alan Grayson is leading by a hair. But voters are not happy when they learn Patrick Murphy worked with Republicans to try to cut Social Security for millions of Florida seniors. They are also not happy that Murphy takes money from Wall Street and then votes to deregulate Wall Street, allowing risky gambling to put the life savings and homes of millions of Floridians at risk,” the groups said in a statement.

TOP STAFFER FOR CORRINE BROWN HAD KEY ROLE IN GROUP UNDER FEDERAL INVESTIGATION via Steve Patterson, Nate Monroe & Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union – Ronnie SimmonsBrown’s longtime chief of staff, played important roles in helping the organization function, at one point receiving payments to One Door at his home. The president of One Door, Carla Wiley, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to assist federal investigators. Her plea agreement lists two co-conspirators: Person A, a public official; and Person B, who works for that official. Wiley’s plea agreement, for example, refers to Person B flying from Baltimore to Jacksonville “on or about” Sept. 28, 2012, and July 12, 2013. Quarterly spending records from the U.S. House of Representatives show Simmons being reimbursed a combined $1,159.60 for “commercial transportation” on those two dates, but those records don’t say the cities involved or the means of travel. No other Brown staffer was reimbursed for travel on both of those dates. Regardless, Simmons’ involvement in One Door is indisputable.

— “Anti-nuclear arms proliferation group endorses Val Demings in CD 10 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

IN OR OUT? RICK BAKER UNDER PRESSURE TO DECIDE ON CONGRESSIONAL RACE via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – If Baker isn’t talking about whether he’s considering running for the redrawn 13th Congressional District, Pinellas County’s political class is. The consensus? The 59-year-old Republican should fish or cut bait. “He’s got to decide quickly,” said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos. “I don’t know how much longer he can hold out from making a decision. I really don’t.” Without Baker, the GOP has only long shot candidates Mark Bircher and Paul DeCaillyin the race. Those forecasting a Baker run point to House Speaker Paul Ryan‘s visit to St. Petersburg earlier this year. Ryan met with Baker at former ambassador and GOP power broker Mel Sembler‘s downtown condo. With promised party support and his popularity in St. Petersburg, Baker isn’t viewed by insiders as a sacrificial lamb. “The party is going to fight hard to keep this seat,” Cretekos said. Baker’s path to victory would include winning a significant percentage of the black vote in St. Petersburg and, conversely, winning big in conservative Clearwater. Straddling those very different constituencies is no easy task. “Rick can do it,” Cretekos said. “He’s going to have to work hard. He’s identified as a St. Pete person, and North County is very important. He’s going to have to remember North County.”

REASONS RICK BAKER SHOULD RUN, OR NOT via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – First, why you should run. 1. You’re the GOP’s only hope. a big reason why the district is much more Democratic than before is because it now includes predominantly African-American neighborhoods in St. Petersburg — precincts you won overwhelmingly in your 2001 and 2005 elections. 2. Even losing is winning … just running would ensure you build a network of fundraisers, donors and Republican allies across the state … essential when/if in 2018 you run for Florida attorney general or for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. 3. You’d be a standout in Washington. Pulling off an upset election over Crist (or Lynn), would be a big deal. On top of that, you would be about the only Republican in Washington with an expertise and passion for urban issues. Now, why you shouldn’t run. 1. It’s hopeless. Your modesty deficit probably makes it hard for you to grasp this, Rick, but you are not that big a deal. 2. If you win, you’d have to serve in the U.S. House. You are an executive who likes to get things done. Congress is where good intentions and good ideas go to die. You’d be miserable.

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CRACKDOWN ON GAS STATION SKIMMERS AMONG 14 BILLS GOV. SCOTT SIGNS INTO LAW via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Thieves who steal customer information using skimming devices at gas station pumps will face stiffer penalties  … SB 912 also requires gas stations to use certain security measures to better thwart criminals’ attempts to install “skimmer” devices, which steal credit and debit card information. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found more than 190 skimmers since the start of 2015 … About 100 consumers are victimized by each skimmer, resulting in $1,000 stolen from each victim on average. Also signed into law today were additions to the list of acceptable forms of ID that Florida voters can use at the polls on Election Day or to request absentee ballots in advance. More than 1.5 million people with concealed-weapons permits can now use that license as proper ID to vote. Scott also approved SB 1044, which revises Florida’s forfeiture laws. Police won’t be allowed to seize property involved in a crime without making an arrest and charging someone.

ALIMONY OVERHAUL IS LAST BILL LEFT IN LEGISLATURE via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The House and Senate have sent Scott 271 of the 272 bills passed in the 2016 session … The lone holdout is Senate Bill 668, which would overhaul Florida’s alimony laws while also creating a 50-50 child-sharing standard, which has drawn opposition from the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar … Holding a bill is one of the post-session strategies used by legislative leaders. In theory, it gives advocates of the legislation more time to make their case to the governor for approving the measure once it reaches his desk. Of course, it also gives opponents time to make their counter-argument. But the decision to send the bill to the governor is entirely in the hands of the House speaker and Senate president. The alimony bill actually received its final vote, 74-38, in the House March 8, with a 24-14 prior approval in the Senate March 4. Once the bill is sent to Scott, he will have 15 days to act on the measure.

OFF EMBARGO — FOUNDATION FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE’S REPORT CARD GRADES LAWMAKERS FOR 2016 SESSION via Florida Politics – Twenty legislators earned spots on the Jeb Bush-founded Foundation for Florida’s Future honor roll this year, according to a press release. The nonprofit organization, which supports initiatives such as school choice, issues a yearly report card on lawmakers “for their actions to improve the quality of education in the Sunshine State through support for student-centered policies” … Senate: President Andy Gardiner, Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto, Jeff Brandes,John LeggBill MontfordJeremy Ring and Kelli Stargel. House: Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Reps. Janet AdkinsMichael BilecaBob CortesManny Diaz Jr.Eric Eisnaugle, Erik FresenMarlene O’TooleMichelle Rehwinkel VasilindaRay RodriguesDarryl RousonRoss Spano and Chris Sprowls.

LIZBETH BENACQUISTO RACKS UP LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES DURING 2016 SESSION via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Benacquisto backed legislation to create universal school choice, supported a proposal allowing Floridians to break into a vehicle to rescue a person in distress or an unattended animal, and backed a bill requiring insurers to take a proactive approach to paying out life insurance policies. All of her priority legislation cleared the Legislature. Four bills, including on aimed at eliminating the state’s rape kit backlog, have already been signed into law and may have been [Benacquisto’s] proudest achievement during the annual 60-day Legislative Session. Benacquisto said a proposal requiring insurers to be proactive when it comes to paying out life insurance policies could have a big impact on Floridians. The bill requires companies to compare their policy rolls with the master death file, and payout benefits. Under current law, insurers can wait until a beneficiaries contact them before they pay out the policy … her biggest regret of the 2016 Legislative Session was that lawmakers couldn’t pass a claims bill to compensate Victor Barahona. Victor and his twin sister, Nubia, were abused by their former adoptive parents. His sister did not survive the abuse. “I wish we would have taken care of that bill. That poor boy is not being taken care of since we haven’t passed the claims bill,” she said. “That was the real disappointment.”

A WEAKENED ENTERPRISE FLORIDA BATTLES EXTERNAL CRITICS, INTERNAL ANGST via Jeremy Wallace and Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott‘s most cherished government entity is reeling … critics of Enterprise Florida — including incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran — say it’s time to review whether the agency created 20 years ago has outlived its purpose in a more conservative fiscal era. The organization’s 64 board members — including top officials from Disney, Publix, Florida Power & Light — recruit out-of-state companies and arrange contacts. Businesses pay to score a spot on the board and fund their own way for travel when Scott leads them on trade missions … Adam Putnam, who many expect will run for governor in 2018, is among those who hope Enterprise Florida’s model as a public-private partnership survives. “I certainly hope that we don’t completely burn down the agency because I believe that at some point in the future there will be an opportunity to evaluate how we move forward,” he said. Corcoran, the incoming House speaker from Land O’Lakes, has a different take. “The enemy of Enterprise Florida is not the Legislature; it is an adherence to the free market,” Corcoran said.

DEO WANTS MORE MONEY IN BUSINESS-LOANS CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The department asked Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll of Tallahassee to amend his final judgment against the Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida (BBIF) to add prejudgment interest of $201,792 and boost the total monetary award to nearly $1.3 million … Its request followed an appellate decision that added prejudgment interest, money that accrues on a monetary award from the time of the plaintiff’s injury or damage to when a judge orders the award. The department had sued the BBIF in 2013, saying it had overcharged participants in the Economic Gardening Business Loan Pilot Program and should have returned the money. DEO coordinated the loan program. The $8.5 million program in question, a low-interest loan program for the state’s small businesses, was created by lawmakers in 2009 as a response to the then-ongoing recession. BBIF was picked as a loan administrator.

DOC WANTS TO HIRE 4000 NEW CORRECTIONS OFFICERS BY JULY 2017 via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – The agency has about 1,300 vacancies at any given time and has struggled to maintain proper staffing levels across its dozens of facilities statewide. “Properly staffing our institutions is critical to the safe and secure operations of our facilities. To ensure that our prisons are staffed appropriately, the Department is seeking more than 4,000 qualified individuals to proudly and bravely serve our state as correctional officers,” DOC Secretary Julie Jones said in a statement … The agency aims to hire the officers between now and July 2017.

FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via – As of Friday, there were three new travel-related cases: one in Polk County, one in Broward County and one involving a pregnant woman. Of the cases confirmed in Florida, four cases are still exhibiting symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are 79 total cases in Florida, broken down by county (number of cases): Miami Dade (32), Broward (12), Orange (5), Alachua (4), Osceola (4), Hillsborough (3), Lee (3), Brevard (2), Polk (3) and a single case each in Clay, Collier, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa, Seminole and St. John’s and five cases involving pregnant women. The DOH recommends women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to Zika affected areas.

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS URGED TO GET READY NOW FOR ZIKA IN U.S. via The Associated Press – At a “Zika Summit” … experts prodded some 300 state and local officials gathered at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters to make Zika response plans now. The Zika virus causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. But in the last year, infections in pregnant women have been strongly linked to fetal deaths and to potentially devastating birth defects, mostly in Brazil. The virus is spread mainly by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which also live in parts of the U.S. It was thought to be mainly in the South but the CDC revised its map this week, showing the mosquito has been found in parts of the Midwest and Northeast. Officials don’t expect Zika to be a big problem, though, in the U.S. for a number of reasons, including the widespread use of air conditioning and screens. The Zika mosquito likes to bite indoors. They think the clusters may be small and surface only in a few states – most likely Florida and Texas. But they don’t know for sure. So far, there have been no Zika infections in the U.S. caught from mosquitoes. More than 300 illnesses have been reported, all linked to travel to Zika outbreak regions.

— “Another case of travel-related Zika reported in Polk” via Marilyn Meyer of the Lakeland Ledger

–“Three more Zika cases in Florida, including fifth pregnant patient” via Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REACHES HIGHEST LEVEL IN 11 MONTHS via The Associated Press – The monthly University of Florida consumer sentiment … measured confidence at 93.4, or up more than one point from February. It’s the highest it has been since March 2015. Researchers said that one reason for the upswing in consumer confidence is that more people anticipate that their personal finances will improve over the next year … older Floridians are showing more optimism about the national economy than they have in the previous year.

FLORIDA ACTIVISTS CONTINUE TO PUSH FRACKING BANS via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics – Activists are mobilizing fracking foes to call and email Calhoun County Commissioners and demand an emergency meeting on the issue. “Calhoun County will have the Cholla Petroleum Company begin seismic testing any day now,” reads the invite to one Facebook organizational effort. “This is for fossil fuel extraction for oil or gas. Fracking via hydraulic fracturing and matrix acid stimulation is a threat to Florida’s environment and water supply.” The social media rally comes after news that seismic testing in Calhoun and Gulf counties was on hold because of a legal challenge.

FORBES PUTS UF ON LIST OF BEST VALUE COLLEGES via the Gainesville Sun – Forbes issued its first list of Best Value Colleges for 2016 — 300 schools they say are worth the investment. The University of Florida was rated No. 3. The list-makers considered tuition costs, school quality, graduation success rates and post-graduate earnings, Forbes officials said in a news release Tuesday. The top five included: the University of California, Berkeley; Brigham Young University, the University of Florida, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Diego.

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GOOD READ — SALLY BRADSHAW KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Bradshaw had a front row seat on the ride the political-media establishment took to arrive at “this place.” A well-known political operative, she distinguished herself working in national campaigns, managing successful gubernatorial campaigns for Bush and while serving as his chief of staff, recruiting talent for his administration and rolling out policy initiatives. A confidant and trusted adviser for more than 20 years, she was among the first hires when Bush decided to run for president. “There’s been some common sense lessons that have become clear to me in the past year that women can take note of and young women can remember as they embark on their careers,” said Bradshaw. She does not see herself as a trailblazer. A world of opportunities was opened to her by the time she graduated from George Washington University and signed on as a field director with the George H.W. Bush 1988 presidential campaign. However, she thinks the challenges that remain for women are not so much institutional as they are personal. Among them, she said, there are still demands on women that existed a century ago. “Every woman you talk to will tell you a story if they are a mom and working of being away from home, being at work or being on the road and something happens with their child and they feel tremendous guilt about that,” said Bradshaw. “It happened to me over and over again during the last year even though we all agreed as a family that I was going to do this and travel would be involved.”

HERBIE THIELE PROMOTED TO VP/DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OF SACHS MEDIA GROUP; RYAN BANFILL EXITING via Florida Politics – Sachs Media Group announced the promotion of Thiele to Vice President/Director of Public Affairs, Drew Piers as the Deputy of that division, and the departure of veteran communicator Banfill, who is hanging out his own shingle … with the firm’s support and encouragement, is opening his own public affairs practice, providing consulting services for political campaigns, policy issues and government relations. Thiele will manage the firm’s diverse range of political and issue-management clients, succeeding Banfill.

APPOINTEDRobert Atkins, Rear Admiral Philip DurDavid ChildsTodd RebolMichael “Dean” Shuler and Hans Wilson to the Florida Boating Advisory Council.

APPOINTEDMatthew Brooks to the Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Guaranty Association Board of Directors.

DANIEL MARTELL NEW VP OF GOV’T AFFAIRS AT FPL via Jeff Ostrowski of the Palm Beach Post – Martell, president of the nonprofit Economic Council of Palm Beach County since 2012, told members that he’ll join FPL as a Tallahassee-based vice president of government relations. “Palm Beach County is a dynamic and wonderful community, and I will forever be grateful for all it has provided to my family and me,” Martell wrote in an email to members of the Economic Council. The Economic Council’s executive committee is made up of attorneys and builders, along with officials from Bank of America, LRP Publications, FPL and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

ALL ABOARD FLORIDA SPENDS $3M IN LOBBYING, CONTRIBUTIONS TO CLEAR TRACKS FOR RAIL PROJECT via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – If AAF fails to secure even one of the 17 permits needed from six state agencies, some Treasure Coast officials say it could derail the entire $3 billion project … five consultants who received more than $2 million from AAF to lobby the state government, including two major fundraisers for Scott‘s 2015 inauguration events … More than $900,000 went to a combination of state political parties, candidates, elected officials and independent committees … nearly $200,000 went to “Let’s Get to Work” … Another $500,000 went to Florida Roundtable, the committee supporting House Speaker-Designate Rep. Richard Corcoran … $6,500 of AAF money went to the PAC supporting Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who will chair the influential Senate Appropriations Committee next year.

INSIDE THE SURPRISINGLY SOBER WORLD OF THE POT LOBBY via Timothy Berger of – Lobbyists are a new thing for an industry that has until recently operated somewhat in the shadows. For perspective, between 2010 and late 2015, there were 310 lobbying filings with the House of Representatives clerk’s registry that mentioned “marijuana.” Search “bank” and you get 12,450 filings; “transportation,” 64,190; “energy,” 85,290.

SPOTTED at Jeff Brandes’ latest “Brews with Brandes” event at Green Bench Brewery in St. Petersburg: Rick Baker, Barry EdwardsBob Esposito, Nick Hansen, Todd Josko, Matt Lettelier, Mike Mikarak, Lisa MillerEd Montanari, Rick Porter, Sydney Ridley, Peter Schorsch, Chris Spencer, Michelle Todd SchorschMike Twitty and Dana Young.

— “George P. Bush to visit Tampa April 12 for fundraising luncheon” via Florida Politics

***Situated in the heart of Downtown Tallahassee, 101 Restaurant combines southern hospitality with big city style. Through Executive Chef Jason Bruner, 101 Restaurant adopted the Farm-to-Table approach where they use products from farmers and fishermen found within a 100-mile radius of their downtown restaurant. These locations include Quincy, Thomasville, Apalachicola, Panama City, and many others. The goal at 101 Restaurant is to give guests a fine dining experience in a luxurious, casual environment. Plus, if you stop by any day from 4:00pm to 7:30pm or 10:00pm to 12:30am, you can enjoy their Double Happy Hour! Call them today to make your reservation! (850) 391-1309.***

TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: @APStylebook: We will lowercase internet effective June 1, when the 2016 Stylebook launches. #ACES2016

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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