Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – December 3

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the public affairs firm known for unparalleled relationships and winning strategies: As Florida and the nation await tomorrow’s scheduled test flight of the next-generation Orion space capsule, we look back to this date in 1973, when the Pioneer 10 craft passed within 81,000 miles of Jupiter’s clouds and sent back the first close-up images of an outer planet. Pioneer 10’s images of the gas giant capped a bold mission launched 21 months earlier from the same Cape Canaveral facilities that will send Orion 3,600 miles into space. Pioneer 10 then became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity to leave the solar system, stirring the popular imagination – just as NASA hopes Orion generates excitement for a renewed American manned space program.

Now, on to the ‘burn…

FIRST AND FOREMOST belated happy birthday wishes to my favorite elections supervisor, Mike Ertel.


Gallup: “Since the Republican Party’s strong showing on Election Day last month, Americans’ political allegiances have shifted toward the GOP. Prior to the elections, 43% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned toward the Democratic Party, while 39% identified as or leaned Republican. Since then, Republicans have opened up a slight advantage, 42% to 41%, representing a net shift of five percentage points in the partisanship gap.”

EYEING 2016, JEB BUSH TALKS FOREIGN POLICY via Michael Mishak of the Associated Press

Nearing a decision on a presidential run in 2016, Jeb Bush reaffirmed his support for the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and pushed for a foreign policy that he said could help repair the nation’s credibility after Barack Obama’s presidency.

“Our allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. There is no situation worse for stability and peace than that,” the former Florida governor told the annual luncheon of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC. “The iron rule of superpower deterrent is ‘Mean it when you say it.’ And it has been broken by this president.”

As an example, Bush cited Obama’s decision not to follow through on his statements that there would be consequences for Syria if that country used chemical weapons. To date, the U.S. has not taken any direct military action against the government of Bashar Assad.

“Words matter,” Bush said. “Presidents need to set United States aspirations and intentions where there is little gap between words and deeds.”

Bush told business leaders in Washington that he would decide “in short order” whether to launch a presidential bid. Establishment Republicans and big money donors see a pragmatic governor who won two terms in the nation’s largest swing state in part by appealing to Florida’s fast-growing Hispanic population. Conservatives see Bush, the son and brother of presidents, as too moderate on immigration and other issues important to them.

Bush aimed to burnish his foreign policy credentials Tuesday while also solidifying his connection to Florida’s powerful Cuban exile community. He did so primarily, for the second day in a row, by offering harsh words about the Obama administration.

JEB’S UNLIKELY TACK FOR 2016 via Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly

Considerable attention was paid to a straw poll of attendees at the Wall Street Journal’s “CEO council” indicating nearly three-fourths of them really like the idea of a third Bush presidency. But what I found interesting is what their preferred candidate told them:

“I don’t know if I would be a good candidate or a bad one, but I kinda know how a Republican could win, whether it’s me or somebody else, and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive,” Bush said.

Bush suggested that the Republican nominee needs to be willing to “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.”

Bush, that would mean standing by the Common Core standards and his support for legalizing undocumented workers despite opposition from conservative quarters.

It’s sounding increasingly like Jeb has gone to school on Bill Clinton’s heavily electability-based 1992 rationale for a presidential candidacy. You half-expect him to say America is demanding a “different kind of Republican.”

But are the GOP rank-and-file ready to hear this message, fresh from a midterm victory that conservative opinion-leaders are largely treating as “the American people” repudiating liberalism forever? Are they ready to sacrifice their hatred for Common Core and “amnesty” in order (as Bush said in another part of his pithy remarks) to “show that we can, in an adult-like way, we can govern, lead”?

I really just don’t think so.

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: I used to think (& made mistake of saying on @upwithsteve) that Jeb likely wouldnt run. I think I was likely wrong


Despite calls for dramatic action, even a government shutdown, the House Republican response to President Obama’s immigration order could rest for now on a symbolic measure of disapproval authored by Rep. Ted Yoho of Gainesville.

Yoho’s proposal effectively says Obama does not have authority to give protected status to millions of illegal immigrants. It could be voted on later this week, but Democrats still control the Senate so it would die there. House Speaker John Boehner during a news conference this morning conceded “limited options” in dealing with the issue, in large part because immigration funding isn’t directly tied to the budget.

The vote, however, would give House Republicans an outlet to express disapproval with Obama. Yoho represents the tea party faction of the GOP and has been outspoken against what he deems amnesty.

“Allowing amnesty to illegal immigrants is an insult to the millions of Americans who stood in line and came to this country legally,” he wrote in a newsletter to constituents this summer. “They worked hard, followed the law, and earned their citizenship. That is the very essence of the American dream. If you work hard and play by the rules, you will find success.”

Yoho has offered immigration bills in the past, including one to end foreign aid to Mexico until it shores up its side of the border. “The House of Representatives controls the purse strings, and if Mexico won’t come to the table we should exercise our Constitutional rights,” he said.

Republican leaders have worked to tamp down any momentum for a government shutdown, which could be forced if a short-term budget deal is not reached. A standalone budget bill will also be voted on by the House. Some conservatives say they will not support that because it would not stop Obama.

Though Yoho’s bill would be toothless with Democrats holding the Senate until January, the fight over immigration has just begun.


U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson “never really seriously considered” running for Florida governor in 2014.

“I made the right decision and I never really seriously considered,” the three-term Orlando Democrat said in a conference call with reporters, “even though you all loved to speculate about me getting into the governor’s race.”

Nelson added he looks forward to working with Republicans, who will now be the majority party in the U.S. Senate.

Last year, Nelson continually told reporters he had no interest in running for governor; although he did signal to potential supporters, he might take up the Democratic banner if gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist floundered.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott won re-election Nov. 4 by narrowly defeating Crist.


A task force assembled by Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant in the wake of the midterm election debacle for Democrats had their first meeting, and the thoughts of the two co-chairs were illuminating.

“We know we have to take a critical look at ourselves internally,” acknowledged former Orlando police chief and Co-Chair Val Demings in a conference call with reporters immediately after the group convened for the first time. “And then really come out going into 2016 and 2018 with a winning message that will allow us to win more elections. I thought it was great beginning to a long process.”

But her co-chair, Sen. Nelson emphasized that messaging wasn’t a critical problem for Democrats, attributing the Democrats’ shellacking to the usual suspects — a lack of participation amongst the base, distortions in television ads, and historical trends, such as the fact that the political party of a two-term president traditionally suffers in the midterm elections. In fact, Nelson said on that front, Florida Democrats actually outpaced the party nationally in not losing any net congressional seats. (Joe Garcia lost his bid for re-election to the House of Representatives in South Florida, but Gwen Graham made up for it with her victory in the Panhandle.}

And Nelson said that while it wasn’t discussed much in the initial meeting of the Leadership Expansion to Advance Democrats (LEAD) Task Force, he does support the idea floated by some Democrats to push for a constitutional amendment to have Florida statewide elections moved to take place simultaneously with presidential elections.

“I’d love to do it,” he responded. “The question is: can you get 60 percent of the vote to amend the Constitution? And as you can see, if a popular idea of medical marijuana dispensed by a licensed physician comes up just short, with millions of dollars spent, it’s going to be a tough campaign.”


Duval County School Board Member Jason Fischer is looking to take his brand of conservative values and education reforms to Tallahassee.

The Jacksonville native and electrical engineer filed paperwork this week for a 2016 run as a Republican for House District 16, currently held by state Rep. Charles McBurney, who is serving his final term.

Prior to his election to the School Board in 2012, Fischer worked for Florida Power & Light (FPL) until 2006, when he left to serve as a civilian engineer with the United States Navy. In 2010, he earned recognition by the Association of Energy Engineers as a “Legend in Energy.”

In 2011, Fisher went to work for CSX, one of the country’s largest transportation companies, negotiating energy and utility contracts in over 20 states. Fischer currently works for URETEK Holdings, supervising business development in the Jacksonville metro area.

In 2012, he became the youngest person ever elected to the Duval County School Board.

Dedication to public service and commitment to real education reform are Fisher’s two most important issues, he told the Florida Times-Union in 2012.

So far, Fischer will face Republican Dick Kravitz in a GOP primary for District 16, which covers parts of downtown Jacksonville and Duval County.

NINE QUALIFY IN HD 17 & 24 RACES via James Call of SaintPetersBlog

The field is set for special elections for two Florida House of Representative seats. Three candidates will compete in a Republican primary for House District 17; Republican Ronald Renuart currently represents the St. Johns County seat.

St. Johns County Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, attorney John Capra who ran against Renuart in 2008 and businessman Mike Davis who challenged Renuart in 2012 will face off in a Jan. 27 primary for the GOP nomination.

Mary Anne Boczek qualified Monday as a write in candidate, closing the primary to only Republican registered voters and forcing an April 7 general election.

Status of NPA candidate Judy Stevens was listed as “active” Tuesday afternoon after the noon deadline. It was unclear whether officials were still reviewing the paperwork.

Four Republicans are seeking the seat being vacated by Rep. Travis Hutson. House District 24 takes in Flagler and parts of Volusia and St. Johns counties.

Paul Renner who earlier this year lost by two votes a Republican primary for a Jacksonville-area seat has moved south and will go against Danielle Anderson, an officer of the Flagler Republican Club, St. Augustine businessman Sheamus John McNeeley and  former St. Johns County Commissioner Ron Sanchez.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Adam Morley in the April 7 special election.

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DOT SEC’Y ANANTH PRASAD TO STEP DOWN via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

The parade of agency chiefs jumping ship before Gov. Scott’s second term has grown. Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad has announced he will leave in January after four years on the job.

“Secretary Prasad has been part of my administration since the very beginning, and he has been pivotal to making sure we could make a record investment of over $10 billion in our transportation system this year,” Scott said in a statement.

“Secretary Prasad has also helped Florida become a major force in international trade because of his commitment to expanding our Florida ports and airports. I am grateful for Secretary Prasad’s service to our state and we will continue making our transportation system a top priority as we select another excellent leader for this department.”

Prasad has been at the center of attempts to launch the controversial an partially-privately-funded high-speed rail project from Miami to Orlando, in addition to overseeing the governor’s increased first-term emphasis on port expansion projects.

Prasad joins DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard and prisons chief Mike Crews in leaving as Scott re-constitutes his leadership team for a second four-year term.


Bob Burleson, President of the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association (FTBA) said, “I have been privileged to work with many Secretaries at FDOT through the years. They have all been good. Ananth was special, however. He had the ability to understand complex transportation issues and, more importantly, complex political issues. He always worked for win-win solutions and was never afraid to make a decision. I give Governor Scott great credit for allowing Ananth to run FDOT and to make those decisions. The record work program over the last four years speaks for itself. Ananth was always “How can we get it done?,” not “why it can’t be done.” The I-4 Ultimate PPP, the largest highway project ever in the southeast is a great example of Ananth and FDOT focusing on what needs to get done. Ananth will be missed not only by those of us involved in transportation, but by all the citizens of Florida.”

Eric Eikenberg, CEO Everglades Foundation: I want to thank on behalf of the Everglades Foundation Secretary Ananth Prasad for his service to the state of Florida as secretary of transportation. We particularly thank Secretary Prasad for his leadership in securing $90 million of state funding to bridge the next 2.6 miles of Tamiami Trail. His leadership on the Tamiami Trail issue will enable Everglades National Park to receive the water that is drastically needed.”

Ron Howse, Chairman of the Florida Transportation Commission: “As Chairman of the Florida Transportation Commission, I want to commend Secretary Prasad on his accomplishments in leading Florida’s Department of Transportation under Governor Rick Scott. Under Secretary Prasad’s leadership, the department met all of the Commission’s performance and production objectives for the first time ever, while overseeing the largest transportation budget in state history. He led the development of significant transportation projects that will have a lasting impact on the mobility needs of Florida’s citizens, visitors, and commerce. Florida is a better place because of his vision and dedication and, as a result, our transportation system is in a better position to support the state’s economic development, job growth, and quality of life. The Florida Transportation Commission wishes Secretary Prasad the very best in his future endeavors.”

Matthew D. Ubben, President of Floridians for Better Transportation (FBT): “Secretary Prasad has served as a visionary champion for transportation, recognizing the power of transportation investment to fuel Florida’s economy, enhance our global competiveness and improve the lives of our citizens. With states across the country searching for dedicated funding for transportation, Secretary Prasad worked tirelessly to overcome funding challenges by utilizing a broad array of funding sources including innovative use of alternative project delivery methods to meet our infrastructure needs.”   

Doug Wheeler, President of the Florida Ports Council: “Secretary Prasad has been an incredible champion for freight movement, seaport investment and improving transportation assets to increase business and build Florida’s economy. His recognition of transportation as an economic driver has been a game changer in Florida’s quest to be a global leader in trade.”


Senate President Andy Gardiner did not discuss policy during November’s organizational session for the Florida Legislature but Tuesday he stated clearly he’s focused on the state budget.

Gardiner named Brandon Sen. Tom Lee chair of the Appropriations Committee and Miami Sen. Anitere Florida to lead the Fiscal Policy Committee.

“Each year we have a constitutional duty to pass a balanced budget,” Gardiner said in a prepared statement announcing the appointments.

“Sound management and careful oversight of the year-round appropriations process is critical to meeting our obligation to craft our budget within the time-sensitive environment of a 60-day session.

The newly formed Fiscal Policy Committee will provide an alternative path to the Senate Calendar for bills with a minimal fiscal impact, said Gardiner. “The committee on Appropriations will remain the primary vehicle to produce” the budget.

Lee was Senate President from 2004 – 2006. He returned to the Senate in 201 and has served as deputy majority leader.

“Tom has a great deal of experience and a keen understanding of the multifaceted appropriations process,” said Gardiner.

Committee meetings for the 2015 Legislative Session will begin the week of Jan. 5.

>>>Look for the roster of Senate Committee Chairs to be released today.


Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced Monday which members would lead which committees in the Florida House.

Reporting on these assignments is typically straightforward. So-and-so will chair such-and-such committee, etc., etc.

Some reporters injected a little parochialism into their coverage, i.e., The Palm Beach Post‘s John Kennedy wrote that “Democratic-heavy Palm Beach (was) shut out” of Crisafulli’s list.

And then there was the Tampa Tribune‘s James Rosica, who tweeted “Except for Corcoran, Tampa Bay unrepresented in House leadership.”

Except, that is, for Majority Leader Dana Young.

With Corcoran and Young in leadership, Tampa Bay occupies two of the three most important positions in the Florida House.

That ain’t chopped liver.


A judge has suspended enforcement of Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance restricting the public feeding of homeless people for 30 days and ordered mediation on the issue.

The decision by Broward Circuit Judge Thomas Lynch came in a challenge to the ordinance by 90-year-old homeless advocate Arnold Abbott, who has been arrested after defying it repeatedly. Lynch wants the dispute resolved through mediation or trial by the end of the year.

The ordinance is aimed at keeping people from feeding the homeless in parks and other public places. It has generated nationwide controversy, including a successful effort by hackers with the Anonymous group to shut down city Internet sites temporarily.

City attorneys indicated they may appeal Lynch’s ruling. Additional lawsuits challenge the ordinance’s constitutionality.


The Miami-Dade County Commission has approved an ordinance that would ban discrimination against transgender men and women.

The commission on Tuesday voted for the measure that would expand the county’s law that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to include transgendered people. It already bans discrimination based on gender, religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

The Miami Herald reports that the county is the 21st Florida municipality to enact such a measure.

Opponents say if people can determine their own gender it will make it easier for sex offenders to commit attacks in public restrooms.

Supporters call the opponents’ bathroom argument a red herring, saying the ordinance will not change which bathroom people are allowed to use.

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Former Miami City Manager Tony Crapp Jr. has been named a partner in one of the state’s top lobbying firms.

Crapp will be joining Ballard Partners in the company’s Miami office, President Brian Ballard announced Tuesday.

“Tony will be a fantastic addition to Ballard Partners,” Ballard said. “He is well respected in the Miami-Dade community and his background in city government and public policy issues will make him a vital member of our team.”

Crapp spent 15 years working for the city of Miami.

He was named city manager in 2010, but resigned after just six months on the job.

Prior to that, Crapp served as deputy city manager, assistant city manager and chief of staff to Mayor Tomas Regalado.

“I am thrilled to join Ballard Partners,” Crapp said in a statement. “Like Brian and his team, I am passionate about working with clients with a diverse set of issues and I look forward to bringing my experience to help develop solutions and maximize results.”


Brian Ballard, Michael Abrams, Chris Dorworth, Sylvester Lukis, Ballard Partners: Technology Foundation of the Americas

Patrick Bell, Capitol Solutions: Florida A&M

Nicole Fried, Howard Talenfeld, Katherine Webb, Colodny Fass: Relating to Relief of C.M.H. by the Dept. of Children & Families

Ernesto Perez: Dade Medical College

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AMAZON’S NEW ROBOT ARMY IS READY TO SHIP via Brandon Bailey of the Associated Press

A year ago, workers like 34-year-old Rejinaldo Rosales hiked miles of aisles each shift to “pick” each item a customer ordered and prepare it for shipping.

Now the e-commerce giant boasts that it has boosted efficiency — and given workers’ legs a break — by deploying more than 15,000 wheeled robots to crisscross the floors of its biggest warehouses and deliver stacks of toys, books and other products to employees.

“We pick two to three times faster than we used to,” Rosales said during a short break from sorting merchandise into bins at Amazon’s massive distribution center in Tracy, California, about 60 miles east of San Francisco. “It’s made the job a lot easier.” Inc., which faced its single biggest day of online shopping, has invested heavily this year in upgrading and expanding its distribution network, adding new technology, opening more shipping centers and hiring 80,000 seasonal workers to meet the coming onslaught of holiday orders. Amazon says it processed orders for 36.8 million items on the Monday after Thanksgiving last year, and it’s expecting “Cyber Monday” to be even busier this year.

CEO Jeff Bezos vows to one day deliver packages by drone, but that technology isn’t ready yet. Even so, Amazon doesn’t want a repeat of last year, when some customers were disappointed by late deliveries attributed to Midwestern ice storms and last-minute shipping snarls at both UPS and FedEx. Meanwhile, the company is facing tough competition from rivals like Google and eBay, and traditional retailers are offering more online services.

Amazon has forecast revenue of $27.3 billion to $30.3 billion for the holiday quarter, up 18 percent from last year but less than Wall Street had expected. However, Amazon has invested billions of dollars in its shipping network and its reliability is a big selling point to customers, Piper Jaffray investment analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to clients Friday. He thinks Amazon’s forecast is conservative.


Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and the woman who has said he sexually assaulted her spent nearly five hours in separate rooms at a closed-door hearing recounting what happened nearly two years ago.

The university hearing adjourned apparently with no resolution and is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Florida State held the hearing in a campus building to determine whether Winston violated the school’s student code of conduct. More witnesses are expected to testify about what happened in December 2012.

Winston look somber-faced as he left the hearing and did not answer reporters’ questions as he left.

Attorney David Cornwell, adviser to the Winston family and who is representing the QB at the proceeding, said the hearing went “basically as we expected.”

“We think this nightmare will be over very soon,” Cornwell said.

The hearing before a former Florida Supreme Court chief justice is closed to the public and media. It is to determine whether Winston violated any or all of four sections of the code of conduct – two for sexual misconduct and two for endangerment. It is not like a normal criminal proceeding since attorneys for Winston and the former student are not allowed to question witnesses or make statements.

TCU JUMPS FLORIDA ST INTO 3RD IN PLAYOFF RANKINGS via Ralph Russo of the Associated Press

TCU moved up to No. 3 in the final College Football Playoff rankings before the teams are selected to play in the national semifinals, becoming the latest team to jump past undefeated Florida State.

The Seminoles are fourth, still in position to reach the playoff if it can win Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against No. 11 Georgia Tech.

Alabama is No. 1 and Oregon is second for the third straight week. The Crimson Tide plays 16th-ranked Missouri in the Southeastern Conference championship game, and Oregon faces Arizona in the Pac-12 title game.

The Wildcats’ five-spot jump to seventh sets up a possible play-in game in Santa Clara, California, on Friday night. The Wildcats already have beaten Oregon in Eugene and could make another big jump by doing so again.

TCU finishes its regular season at home Saturday against Iowa State, which is winless in the Big 12.

It would seem the top four would be fairly well set as long as each wins this weekend, but committee chairman Jeff Long, the athletic director at Arkansas, said it would be premature to project out because the committee doesn’t.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Keith Perry.

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.