Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for May 6 – Maneuvering for 2016 and 2018

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine’s statewide profile grew larger this week when he unveiled his proposal on Wednesday to raise the minimum wage in his city ultimately to $13.31 by 2020.

If the City Commission approves the measure next week, it will undoubtedly be challenged in court, as it violates a 2005 Florida law that bars cities from setting their own minimum wages. Florida’s minimum wage law is currently at $8.05 an hour.

But the proposal, cheered on by Monica Russo, the president of Service Employees International Union Florida State Council as “showing real leadership,” wasn’t sufficient for the man who is increasingly being considered a potential Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018.

He then took on Governor Rick Scott directly on Thursday, announcing that he had produced a radio ad that will begin airing in three major California markets on Friday that boast about his proposal for a living wage in his city, while giving a shout-out for West Coast denizens to visit his fair city.

“This is Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and I want the people of California to know that Miami Beach is about to vote on an historic measure: a living wage for all its residents, one that allows them to not only work here, but live here,” says Levine, who said he paid for their distribution from his own pocked.

The ad comes two weeks after Scott aired his own radio ad (from Enterprise Florida funds), where a female voice claimed that California’s “minimum wage hike hurts the same people it was supposed to help.”

Levine has also been prominent in his efforts to combat climate change, which have been captured in publications like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

There was also that high profile trip to Cuba last month, when he became the first mayor of a Miami-Dade city to visit the island in any official capacity since 1959.

The millionaire businessman played coy when the Miami Herald asked him about his thoughts of running for higher office, saying he hadn’t ruled it out. He added that he hadn’t ruled out “becoming president of a cruise line either.”

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BILL NELSON ON PROSPECT OF A RICK SCOTT SENATE BID: ‘I’M PREPARED’ via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – “I’ve heard that talk, and I’m prepared,” he said. “You might want to check the polls … on the favorability rating of those who are privileged to hold public office in Florida.” A Public Policy Polling poll in March found Nelson was “Florida’s most popular politician,” with 40 percent of voters approving of his job performance and 32 percent disapproving. Scott‘s approval rating was underwater in that poll, with 38 percent approving of his job performance and 48 percent disapproving. A separate Associated Industries of Florida poll released this week found Nelson was viewed favorably by 40 percent of voters and unfavorably by 23 percent. Nelson predicted Clinton would win Florida’s 27 Election College delegates in November, and that the wave of high expectations for her against Trump could sway Republicans to act sooner rather than later to confirm President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Nelson said that when he met with Garland last week, he told him to “hang in there” because “if Hillary is elected and suddenly now we’re back in a lame-duck session in November and December, I think Judge Garland is gonna look pretty good to our Republican friends that are now blocking him in the Senate.”

AHEAD OF MOTHER’S DAY, GWEN GRAHAM MAKES CONGRESSIONAL VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Graham paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan this week to visit American mothers serving overseas and Afghan women working toward gender equality. The visit was part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the war-torn nation, where a series of foreign occupiers and long-term civil strife has made life difficult for all Afghans, particularly women. Graham saluted those women, as well as the American women in uniform who she said were fighting for a just cause. “It’s difficult for anyone in our military to leave their family and serve overseas — and it can be especially hard on mothers serving in war zones,” said Graham, a freshman Democrat from Tallahassee. “It was an honor for me to meet with these brave mothers serving in Afghanistan. They deserve our respect, admiration and support.”


HILLARY CLINTON RELEASES A BRUTAL ANTI-DONALD TRUMP AD via Mother Jones – Clinton‘s campaign wasted no time switching to general election mode, releasing a web video criticizing Trump. But Clinton didn’t do it in her own words; the ad is a compilation of unkind things Trump’s fellow Republicans have said about him during the party’s nomination campaign. It’s harsh. Mitt Romneycalls Trump a misogynist, Marco Rubio claims he’s the most “vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency,” and Jeb Bush says Trump needs therapy. It looks like the Clinton campaign isn’t going to let any of the #NeverTrump Republicans forget that stance anytime soon.

NELSON: IT’S ‘PREMATURE’ TO TALK ABOUT VP RUMORS; BERNIE SANDERS SHOULD DROP OUT via Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald – Nelson has been among the names tossed around for a possible Clinton vice presidential pick. The idea makes some sense: A long-serving, respected senator, late in his career, popular in Florida, which has 29 electoral votes (though with Trump as the likely Republican nominee, recent polls suggest that may not be a factor). But Nelson isn’t saying whether he’s being considered. “Well, I’m not going to comment on that,” he said. “It’s too premature.” He’s confident Clinton will win Florida, even if Trump gains some popularity. However, he said, it’s time for Sanders to stop running against the Democratic frontrunner. “Bernie has made his point now, and it’s time for the Democrats to unite, and Bernie ought to stand down,” he said.

FIVE NOT TOTALLY CRAZY ELECTORAL MAPS THAT SHOW TRUMP WINNING via Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post – Start here: Clinton begins the general election against Trump with a major head start in the race to 270 electoral votes. I built five maps where Trump gets elected president. I don’t think any of these maps is, for sure, how the election will turn out. That said, let’s jump in. 1. The Midwest sweep: Trump 283, Clinton 255 … Trump’s best chance of winning is to turn the industrial Midwest/Rust Belt, which remains a Democratic stronghold, into Trump country. 2. The Florida route: Trump 282, Clinton 256 … That’s not totally implausible given his demonstrated strength in the state during the primary season and the fact that a decent chunk of the Latino population in Florida are Cubans who tend to be more conservative than most other Hispanic groups. 3. Trade Iowa and New Hampshire: Trump 280, Clinton 258 … This map is very similar to #2 … The only difference is that Trump loses Iowa but wins New Hampshire, giving him two less total electoral votes — hence 280. 4. Wisconsin as linchpin: Trump 276, Clinton 262 … The key to this map is Wisconsin. It’s a state that has been moving slowly but surely toward Republicans at the state and federal level and where the electorate is already super-polarized along party lines. 5. The close shave: Trump 270, Clinton 268 … In this map, Trump wins the key, big swing states of Ohio and Florida and the key, slightly smaller swing state of Virginia. He also claims New Hampshire’s four electoral votes that put him (barely) over the top.

TRUMP: MARCO RUBIO HAS BEEN ‘VERY SUPPORTIVE’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Trump appeared on Fox News … BRETT BAIER: And you had conversations with Marco Rubio recently, several of them. TRUMP: We’ve had really nice conversations, not necessarily about that, just that we had — you know, we always had a very good relationship, Bret, Marco and I. And then it got a little bit nasty for a period of time and then we had the election. And, you know, that was a tough period of time for Marco. Marco is a good guy, a really nice guy. And I like him. But, uh, not necessarily with respect to any position. But it could happen. BAIER: Do you think he would say yes if you asked him? TRUMP: Well, not necessarily to that one, but even that, but I — I had a really good relationship with him for a long period of time. We had a little rough period for about a month. BAIER: Just a little. TRUMP: A little bit … But, uh, you tend to forget that. You tend to forget, especially if you win, you tend to forget. But Marco has been, uh, very supportive, very good. And, you know, he said very nice things.

RICK SCOTT SAYS HE SUPPORTS TRUMP, BUT WON’T RUN WITH HIM via The Associated Press – Scott’s name has been floated around as a possible vice presidential running mate for Trump. The Republican governor knows the businessman and part-time resident of Florida and has been urging the GOP to rally around him for weeks. But in recent days, Scott has said he has no interest in running with him. He repeated that again during an interview on CNN. Scott said he was “going to pass” even if Trump personally asked him to run for vice president. Scott, who was re-elected to a second term in 2014, said “I’m going to stay in this job and finish this job.”

ADD ONE MORE NAME TO TRUMP’S POTENTIAL VP LIST: PAM BONDI via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Bondi‘s name hasn’t made it on the many speculative lists of TrumpNo. 2’s. But if Trump is looking for someone on the ticket to help shore up Florida support, perhaps she should be included. Consider: Unlike Scott, Bondi endorsed Trump ahead (just barely) of the Florida primary. Unlike Scott, she’s obviously comfortable on television. Unlike Scott, she has a yearslong personal friendship with Trump. For his part, Trump has insisted he wants to run with a seasoned politician who can help the celebrity businessman navigate Washington and legislative politics. As an attorney general and former prosecutor, Bondi wouldn’t bring any of that experience, though she has had to work with state lawmakers in Tallahassee. Bondi also seems to have more friends than Trump among Florida’s Republican establishment. But she also upset many of those folks when she backed Trump, especially because his foundation had given her political committee a $25,000 donation when she ran for re-election — and her office later didn’t investigate claims against Trump University.

SEVEN POLS WHO COULD BE TRUMP’S VP PICK (AND TWO WHO WON’T) via James Pindell of the Boston Globe – Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Rubio, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions. Who Trump won’t pick for VP: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – Trump doesn’t need Christie anymore – and House Speaker Paul Ryan – There is no indication that Ryan would ever accept another ride on the national ticket as a vice presidential candidate, let alone for Trump.

WILL BEN CARSON PULL A CHENEY AS DONALD TRUMP’S VP SELECTION ADVISER? via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Carson, part of the team Trump sent to make nice with Republican National Committee members in Hollywood last month, will also play a leading role in Trump’s search for a running mate. Carson’s role is similar to the one Cheney played for George W. Bush in 2000 — before Cheney himself ended up as Bush’s running mate and one of the most influential VPs in history. Trump says he’s leaning toward a politically experienced running mate who can deal with Congress in a Trump Administration.

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Republican Carlos Beruff will be in the Panhandle. Republican Todd WIlcox will be in Cocoa Beach and Orlando.

HANS TANZLER III JOINS THE CD 4 GOP SCRUM via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Tanzler, son of the first post-Consolidation mayor of Jacksonville, joins a crowded CD 4 field, including St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure, St. Augustine business consultant David Foxx, Jacksonville’s Rep. Lake Ray, perennial candidate Deborah Katz Pueschel, and former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford. Tanzler’s consultant, Brett Doster of Front Line Strategies, said Tanzler had a unique niche. “As more people look at this race,” Doster said, there is “opportunity for someone who’s local, someone who’s conservative, someone who’s concerned about Northeast Florida.”

SAVE THE DATE: U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster is holding a fundraising reception Thursday, May 19, beginning 6 p.m. at the Silverthorn Country Club, 4550 Golf Club Ln. in Spring Hill. RSVP and questions with Kirsten Borman Doherty at or 703-822-3814.

MIKE CLELLAND PULLS IN $121K IN ONE MONTH FOR HIS SD 13 CAMPAIGN via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Clelland, a former state representative from Seminole County, announced he raised $101,500 for his political committee Common Sense for Central Florida and another $20,380 for his official campaign during the month. That, he announced in a news release, brings his combined total to more than $327,000 in cash-on-hand, likely putting him far ahead of any of his Democratic competitors.

HD 60 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE DAVID SINGER RAISES OVER $47 K IN FIRST MONTH OF FUNDRAISING via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – HD 60 is a seat that has been the domain of Tampa Republican Dana Young the past six years, but she has already declared her candidacy for the state Senate District 18 … Singer is the only Democrat to declare to date in the race;  Jackie Toledo and Rebecca Smith are competing on the GOP side. Neither has yet to declare their fundraising totals (they’re due next week), but Smith raised over $81,000 in her first month as a candidate in March, while Toledo has raised more than $50,000 since getting starting to fundraise in January.

HAPPENING SATURDAY: State Rep. Neil Combee will be holding a Derby Day fundraising event beginning 4:30 p.m. at Sunny Acres, 7290 Hacienda Trail in Polk City.

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SCOTT BUDGET OFFICIAL AND OTHERS VYING FOR PSC OPENING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Those vying for an open seat on the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) range from seemingly unqualified to having decades of regulatory experience. One of the contenders is Scott‘s current deputy policy coordinator. Another comes recommended by a current state senator and a former University of Florida president. The state’s Office of Legislative Services released copies of applications for the position on the board, which regulates and sets rates for the state’s investor-owned utilities. Eleven people applied, including Jeffrey S. Bragg, who most recently was an unsuccessful candidate for state Insurance Commissioner. The applications, due by 5 p.m. Tuesday, now go to the Public Service Commission Nominating Council, which “screen(s) and nominate(s) applicants for appointment by the Governor to fill vacancies on the Florida Public Service Commission” … Its current chair is Sen. Garrett Richter … and its members include current and former legislators. The council eventually will “nominate no fewer than three persons,” according to its rules. One will then be chosen by Scott.

SCOTT PLANS HIGHER EDUCATION SUMMIT via Amy Hollyfield of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott plans to hold what is being dubbed a “Degrees to Jobs Summit” this month that will address issues in the state’s higher-education system. In a video posted online, Scott pointed to the state’s job growth since he was first elected in 2010. “To continue this success, our higher-education system must focus on preparing students for these newly created jobs … The summit will connect higher-education stakeholders with Florida’s businesses to find ways we can better prepare students for the growing job market in our state.” The event will be held May 25 and May 26 at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce new jobs at 10 a.m. at eMaint Enterprises, 3181 North Bay Village Court in Bonita Springs.

CABINET AIDES TEE UP LAND DEALS FOR TUESDAY VOTE via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – A plan for the state of Florida to buy $6.6 million in new state land from private holders took another step towards approval when aides to Gov. Rick Scott and other Cabinet officers heard plans to buy two huge swaths of land in Osceola County, near Orlando,  for conservation purposes. The plots Scott, BondiJeff Atwater, and Adam Putnam will consider are 3,245 acres of Adams Ranch, a fourth-generation cattle ranch, and 528 acres within an area called Camp Lonesome. Under the proposals the land would come under state management and set aside to stave off development and preserve biodiversity.

SUPREME COURT AGREES TO HEAR 24-HOUR ABORTION WAITING PERIOD CASE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Five of seven justices agreed to consider overturning a lower court’s decision that the law should be enforced while a pending lawsuit over the constitutionality of the law moves forward … Scott signed the waiting period into law last year, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union and Gainesville-based abortion clinic Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center to sue the state. The law, they say, violates strict privacy protections in the Florida Constitution. The law went into effect for about a day July before a Tallahassee judge issued an injunction blocking its implementation. That was lifted in February by the 1st District Court of Appeals. The Florida Supreme Court halted it again April 22. In deciding to hear the case, the justices broke on familiar ideological lines with Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara ParienteFred LewisPeggy Quince and James Perry voting to accept jurisdiction. Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissented.

LEADERS INDICATE WORKERS’ COMP WILL BE TACKLED IN 2017 SESSION via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran… expected the issue to be taken up during the 2017 session, which beings next March. Workers’ compensation is one of the most heated issues in the Florida Legislature because of the vast array of players involved, and it is never an easy issue for lawmakers to address. It also concerns a wide swath of interests including trial attorneys, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and employer groups. During insurance commissioner candidate interviews last week, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam asked candidate Eric Johnson whether the issue should be addressed during the 2017 legislative session or if the effect of the ruling “is so great it calls for action sooner.” Attorney General Pam Bondi called the workers’ compensation ruling the “top concern” for the Cabinet.

POLITICAL CHANGE: MAYOR FORCED TO COUNT PENNIES TO PAY FINE via The Associated Press – A Miami-area mayor won his bid to pay a $4,000 ethics fine with pennies and nickels, but only after he agreed to count and box the coins himself. Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez … deposited 140 boxes of pennies, totaling $3,500, and five boxes of nickels, totaling $500, at a South Florida bank where the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has an account. Hernandez tried to pay the fine in November with 28 buckets full of unsorted coins, but the board rejected the payment and sued Hernandez. [The] deposit closes the case. The ethics commission ruled July that Hernandez lied about interest rates he received from a $180,000 loan to a jewelry salesman convicted in a $40 million Ponzi scheme.

***Join us on May 7 at 5:30 p.m. in our transformed Beer Garden—the Victory Garden—to watch the 142nd Kentucky Derby. Break out your bowties, seersucker suits and big hats, because coming dressed for the occasion will get you your first mimosa for free. Plus, we’ll have plenty of mint juleps on hand. We bet you won’t be able to have just one! RSVP here.***

APPOINTEDKelley Smith Burk to the Florida Building Commission.

REAPPOINTEDTimothy Bolduc and Edwin Valentin to the Florida Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board.


Kimberly Case, Holland & Knight: NIC 5 Renaissance Retirement Leasing; Holiday AL NIC Management

Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: Jennifer Wohlgemuth

Randy Hanna, Bryant Miller Olive: NTT Data

Terra McClelland: Benevis

Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Central Florida Urban League

Brian Anthony Saller, Flywheel Government Solutions: SourceHOV

Devon West: Martin County Board of County Commissioners


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Dr. James and guests on the state of 2016 Presidential race.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS Miami: FBI whistleblower Frank Zambrana, who uncovered public corruption in the City of Opa-Locka.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, New College of Florida environmental science professor Dr. Frank Alcock, Republican consultant Mark Proctor, and Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times.

On Point with Shannon Ogden on WFCN in Jacksonville: An exclusive one hour sit-down with Mayor Lenny Curry. He’ll discuss the city’s recent pension battle, 2016 national elections, and the ongoing row over substandard housing in Eureka Gardens.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: An interview with Dean Asher, Republican Senate candidate for SD 13 and plus analysis of the race. Former CFO Alex Sink and Republican Chris Ingram try to find “Common Ground” on campaign finance reform, plus PolitiFact rates a Hillary Clinton claim about feds not being able to research marijuana.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: New 2016 JaxChamber Chair Audrey Morgan, plus a panel — Miller Electric VP Donnie Smith, BB&T Market President Debbie Buckland, and PLAYERS Tournament Director Matt Rapp discuss the economic impact of the annual golf event. Plus, analyst and former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and Jacksonville University’s Rick Mullaney talk 2016 in the wake of Ted Cruz‘s sudden exit and Bernie Sanders taking home another primary victory.

HAPPENING TODAY: Volunteer Florida brings back #BringABook, partnering with ADT for an event in Boca Raton. Volunteer Florida and ADT will distribute the books with help from students from Citrus Cove Elementary and AmeriCorps members from the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County beginning 11 a.m. at ADT Headquarters, 1501 Yamato Road, Boca Raton. Last month, 3,600 ADT employees at 18 Florida locations collected 10,000 children’s books through #BringABook.

TAMPA POLITICO STOPS SHAVING TO RAISE FUNDS IN FIGHT AGAINST PEDIATRIC CANCER via – As the Tampa Bay Lightning make the playoffs, Tampa-based political consultant Anthony Pedicini stops shaving as part of the National Hockey League Beard-A-Thon to help fund research on pediatric cancer. Pedicini’s little brother, Thomas, won a battle with cancer after being diagnosed 15 years ago. Every playoff since, Pedicini has stopped shaving to help stop cancer, becoming the fourth-best fundraiser in the country. This year, with your help, he could make it to No. 1. Donate here.

MOTHER’S DAY SPENDING EXPECTED TO TOP NEAR-RECORD $21.4B via Florida Politics – The National Retail Federation estimates 84 percent of consumers will buy gifts for Mother’s Day, with the average family expected to spend $172.22 celebrating their matriarchs this year. The figure is just shy of 2015’s $172.63 average, but remains $10 higher than 2014 numbers. The big three Mother’s Day staples —  jewelry, flowers and dinner — are projected to account for half of all spending this year, with one-third of shoppers spending a combined $4.2 billion on jewelry. Dinners and nights out, which 55 percent of those polled are planning, come second at $4.1 billion, followed by flowers at $2.4 billion. Consumers also plan to spend $2.2 billion on gift cards, $1.9 billion each for clothing and electronics and $1.6 billion for personal services such as spa days. The balance, $792 million, will come from greeting cards, which 78 percent of respondents said they would buy this year.

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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