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

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

By Peter Schorsch (Peter@FloridaPolitics.com; @SaintPetersBlog) with Phil Ammann (Phil@FloridaPolitics.com; @PhilAmmann) and Ryan Ray (Ryan@FloridaPolitics.com @RyanRay_Fla)

Previously in this space, we have stated how it feels as if the 2016 election cycle already is in fourth gear even though it’s still 15 months until Election Day. Friday certainly felt like that, with speeches by Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and other presidential contenders that offered a trailer to next year’s blockbuster.

Well, if the political developments to this point are stuck in fast-forward, wait until you see what happens this week.

The first debate among the GOP presidential contenders takes place hursday and for some candidates the stakes are already make-or-break. For example, imagine the freefall Marco Rubio‘s campaign, already faded to the middle of the pack, will be in if he underperforms in Cleveland? The build-up to Thursday’s showdown is on par with the NFL playoffs with round-the-clock coverage from every cable channel not named ESPN.

And while it should be a relatively quiet week in state politics, it’s during times like these — when the schedule might otherwise allow for a moment of peace and quiet — that the news of the day rushes to fill this vacuum of silence. We’re already seeing candidates at the statewide, congressional, and legislative level make game-altering decisions about their futures. Read below about the chessboarding already underway by some pols in advance of the Legislature’s redrawing of the congressional and state Senate maps.

However, the week’s most important political development may be the exit of, perhaps, the most influential voice in American discourse. That’s right, it’s Jon Stewart‘s last week as host of The Daily Show.

DAYS UNTIL: First GOP presidential debate: 3; Special Session on Redistricting (congressional maps): 6; Sine Die 3: 19; FSU & UF’s first football games of 2015: 32; Labor Day: 34; First Legislative Committee Meeting: 43; Special Session on Redistricting (state Senate maps): 77; Florida GOP’s Sunshine Summit: 81; Sine Die 4: 95; First day of 2016 Legislative Session: 162; Iowa Caucus 193; Super Bowl 50: 189; New Hampshire Primary: 191; Super Tuesday: 202; Florida’s presidential primary: 226; Close of federal candidate qualifying: 278; Florida’s primary elections: 394; 2016 Election Day: 464.

SO MANY POLLS, 15 MONTHS OUT – DO THEY MATTER?

Donald Trump surges in [national] NBC News/WSJ Poll  Trump – 19% … Scott Walker – 15% …  Jeb Bush – 14% …  Ben Carson – 10% … Ted Cruz – 9% … Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul –  6% … Rubio – 5% … Chris Christie, Rick Perry, John Kasich – 3% … Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum (Carrie Dunn, NBC News)

— Hillary Clinton 55 percent, Bernie Sanders 29 percent in Florida, according to a St. Pete Polls survey released on Thursday. (Mitch Perry, Florida Politics)

— Donald Trump leads Jeb Bush 26-20 percent in Florida, according to a St. Pete Polls survey released last week. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is in third place with 12 percent, and Marco Rubio is in fourth place with 10 percent. He’s followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 5 percent, Ted Cruz and John Kasich at 4 percent, and Rand Paul at 3 percent. Sixteen percent are unsure or are supporting another candidate not named in the survey. (Mitch Perry, Florida politics)

— No front-runner in Florida Senate race. … The Democratic primary is essentially a tie, with Rep. Alan Grayson pulling 33 percent support to Rep. Patrick Murphy’s 32 percent, according to the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey. … The Republican race has more candidates and a far more-undecided electorate. … Rep. David Jolly pulls 16 percent support, followed by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, with 10 percent; Reps. Ron DeSantis and Jeff Miller, with 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively; and Todd Wilcox, with 2 percent. (Marc Caputo, POLITICO)

— Majority of Floridians would vote against solar industry backed amendment. Just 30 percent of voters support this proposal, compared with 45 percent who oppose it, per the poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. The amendment has been proposed by Floridians for Solar Choice, a group that advocates for taking control of solar energy out of the hands of the utility companies. (Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times)

— Overwhelming number of Floridians approve of medical marijuana, raising minimum wage. 68 percent of Floridians say that “if the new medical marijuana initiative makes it on to the ballot this year [they would] vote for it.” … The poll also found that 65.2 percent of Floridians are supportive of raising the minimum wage though the exact amount is still up for debate. (Kyle Munzeinrieder, Miami New Times)

CHESSBOARDING

SPECIAL SESSIONS SPUR SPECULATION via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The Florida Legislature returns on Aug. 10 for the first of two special sessions focusing on redistricting … the more intriguing special session will start on Oct. 19 when lawmakers must redraft the district lines for the 40 state Senate seats.

Here are a few observations on the upcoming events:

Constitutional scofflaws … legal challenges are not over for either chamber … redistricting sessions will bring the spotlight to two future legislative leaders, Rep. Jose Oliva … and Sen. Bill Galvano … The bigger burden falls on Galvano as the House, following legislative tradition, will not be overtly involved in creating the new Senate redistricting plan.

Return of the ping pong balls … Term limits will be at play in the new Senate plan, assuming all 40 senators must run again in 2016 … whether a senator receives an opportunity for a two- or four-year term in 2016 could make the difference between serving eight years in the Senate or stretching it to 10 years. The fight to become the next Senate president between Sens. Joe Negron … and Jack Latvala …

Scott … will play a role in the congressional redistricting plan. He must approve it or, in a scenario hard to imagine, he can veto it. The final Senate plan, on the other hand, must head back to the state Supreme Court for review and approval.

WILTON SIMPSON FOR FLORIDA CFO? Full story here

Is Wilton Simpson for CFO a byproduct of this fall’s Senate map redraw?

After the news that the Senate maps must be redrawn to comply with the Florida Constitution, many political futures have been put in flux. … (T)here is increasing chatter that Simpson, a name often mentioned for a future Senate President’s slot, is being encouraged to direct his focus toward a 2018 run for state chief financial officer.

Under the current district maps and numbering system, Simpson could serve in the Senate until 2022 … way ahead in getting pledges for a 2021-2022 presidency. The uncertainty of what may come out of October’s redistricting effort, though, has led a number of top Florida donors to approach Simpson about a statewide race, and most interest is directed to the 2018 election for CFO after Jeff Atwater leaves office because of term limits.

Simpson, the Senate’s second wealthiest member, is said to have signaled a willingness to spend as much as $3 million of his own money towards a statewide run. He is also a big donor and bundler for Bush and recently joined a “who’s who” of Floridians at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. That gathering is where serious discussion about a CFO bid began — and the talk has only grown now that Senate maps are in question.

SENATE CANDIDATE’S PLANS UNCHANGED BY REDISTRICTING via Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com

Former state Rep. Jim Waldman is not going anywhere … convinced that Senate District 29, which he has been running for since November 2012, will not be significantly altered in the special reapportionment session set this week.

“Some boundaries may be modified, but I don’t expect it to change that much … I’m running regardless.”

Democratic leaning District 29 was stretched and lengthened to accommodate District 31 just to the east. Because 31 is a black access district, it is not expected to be altered much. … The district is an open seat next year because its current holder, state Sen. Jeremy Ring … is term limited.

Waldman vowed that he would watch the Senate reapportionment carefully … The smart money has no one else jumping into the race until the reapportionment is finalized, perhaps early next year, according to Waldman.

DANA YOUNG FOR FLORIDA SENATE? via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

If things break as the Florida Supreme Court has foreshadowed, House Majority Leader Dana Young might be headed to the state Senate. While sources are conflicted as to whether a likely redrawing of the upper chamber’s district boundaries will leave Young with a viable district, there is broad agreement on one thing: If she runs, she’ll certainly be competitive.

“If a new Senate map looked anything like the proposal from the Fair Districts Coalition, Dana’s profile would be exceptionally strong,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, referring to a boundaries proposal submitted by voters rights groups as part of an ongoing court battle over 2011 redistricting.

Schale, who informally worked alongside Young in an effort to deregulate sale of craft beer “growlers,” says she is a very likable pol with a reputation for competence, who balances a rising partisan star within her caucus with more “populist” projects in line with her moderate-leaning Tampa district. He says Young would be an easy favorite if a Senate seat attractive to Republicans comes available.

THAD ALTMAN FILES FOR HOUSE SEAT IN 2018, SHIFTS SPACE COAST POLITICS via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

Sen. Thad Altman became just the second person to file for the state House in 2018 earlier this month, when he filed for the HD 51 seat currently held by term-limited Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

The move could potentially throw off the intricate math involved in Rep. Eric Eislanugle‘s bid for the 2021-22 speakership.

Rep. Tom Goodson, who terms out in 2016, recently filed for the HD 51 seat, opting to serve out his final two years in his hometown of Rockledge rather than the Titusville-based HD 50 seat he represents now.

Goodson’s move was designed to protect Rep. Rene Plasencia, who first took office this year after ousting incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Saunders in the tempestuous HD 49 seat that favors Republicans in midterm years, but elects Democrats in Presidential cycles.

Plasencia was expected to transition into his new seat, hang on safely in Goodson’s R-leaning HD 50 seat, and be a vote in the bank for Eisnaugle, a fellow Central Florida Republican.

Altman’s move complicates things.

Though he filed for the HD 51 seat for 2018 in deference to Goodson, Altman may find himself with nowhere to land in the Senate after the Legislature re-draws the maps later this year. His current SD 16 seat has been the subject of speculation since adjoining districts were, according to a recent consent agreement, illegally gerrymandered to favor incumbent Republican Sen. Joe Negron.

If Altman’s seat is radically altered this fall when the Legislature meets for Special Session C, he will almost certainly change the date of his HD 51 filing from 2018 up to 2016, throwing a wrench in the cogs of House Republicans hoping to keep Plasencia alive without a tough fight from Democrats in a district many locally call the “UCF seat,” where turnout is expected to be high and liberal-leaning next year.

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BACK TO THE PRESIDENTIAL TRAIL…

HAPPENING TONIGHT — THE VOTERS FIRST PRESIDENTIAL FORUM via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO

The format of the two-hour event will be more a series of short addresses than a debate. Custom ping-pong balls with each participant’s name and face will be used to select the order of the speeches. After that, each candidate will have the stage to him or herself for a total of 7 minutes — split between opening remarks and a 30-second closing pitch.

Two of the GOP field’s loudest voices won’t be at St. Anselm: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who reportedly didn’t answer the Union-Leader’s invitation, and billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who reportedly said that he wouldn’t go unless the paper endorsed him.

DATA: NEARLY FIVE DOZEN GIVE A THIRD OF ALL 2016 CAMPAIGN CASH via Julie Bykowicz and Jack Gillum of the Associated Press

An Associated Press analysis of fundraising reports filed with federal regulators through Friday found that nearly 60 donations of a million dollars or more accounted for about a third of the more than $380 million brought in so far for the 2016 presidential election. Donors who gave at least $100,000 account for about half of all donations so far to candidates’ presidential committees and the super PACs that support them.

The review covered contributions to outside groups that can accept checks of any size, known as super PACs, and to the formal campaigns, which are limited to accepting no more than $2,700 per donor.

That concentration of money from a small group of wealthy donors builds on a trend that began in 2012, the first presidential contest after a series of court rulings and regulatory steps that created the super PAC. They can openly support candidates but may not directly coordinate their actions with their campaigns.

“We have never seen an election like this, in which the wealthiest people in America are dominating the financing of the presidential election and as a consequence are creating enormous debts and obligations from the candidates who are receiving this financial support,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington-based group that wants to limit money in politics.

Others see an upside to the rainmakers.

“Big money gives us more competitive elections by helping many more candidates spread their message,” said David Keating, director of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for fewer campaign finance limits.

A WEALTHY FEW LEAD IN GIVING TO CAMPAIGNS via The New York Times

Nearly half of money from 400 families … Just 130 or so families and their businesses provided more than half the money raised through June by Republican candidates and their super PACs. … [A]t least 67 [of the top donors] are billionaires or married to one.

WEEKEND NEWS DUMP — HILLARY CLINTON RELEASES TAX, HEALTH RECORDS  via Lisa Learner of the Associated Press

Hillary Rodham Clinton is in “excellent physical condition and fit to serve as president,” her physician declared Friday – just one in a flood of disclosures about the Democratic presidential candidate pushed out by her campaign on a busy summer day.

Meanwhile, Clinton herself was campaigning at the annual meeting of the National Urban League and calling for an end of the nation’s trade embargo of Cuba during a speech in Miami.

The Clintons paid nearly $44 million in federal taxes and made almost $15 million in charitable contributions from the tens of millions the couple earned between 2007 and 2014, according to her campaign.

Last year, they paid an overall federal tax rate of 35.7 percent. The couple earlier reported having earned more than $30 million from speeches and book royalties since mid-2013.

In a statement, Clinton emphasized that she came into her wealth later in her life – an effort to draw a distinction with Bush, the scion of a rich political family. On the campaign trail, she frequently mentions her middle-class upbringing in a Chicago suburb and the loans she and former President Bill Clinton used to fund their education.

HILLARY CLINTON ASSAILS BUSH, IN POSSIBLE TRAILER FOR ’16 via Michael Barbaro of the New York Times

In a biting surprise attack, delivered as … Bush … waited backstage at the annual convention of the National Urban League, Clinton portrayed him as a hypocrite who had set back the cause of black Americans. It was an unexpected moment of political theater that seemed to presage what could be a bitter general-election rivalry …

Clinton … latched onto Bush’s campaign slogan and the name of his ‘super PAC’ -Right to Rise, his shorthand for a conservative agenda of self-reliance and hope … ‘People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care,’ Clinton said to applause from conventiongoers, a dig at Bush’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act. ‘They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on,’ she said, a jab at his opposition to raising the federal minimum wage. …

When Bush reached the lectern , declaring, ‘I believe in the right to rise in this country,’ the scent of political gunpowder was still in the air. The assault on her Republican rival was all the more striking because the Bush and Clinton families make a point of highlighting their friendly ties: Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appear on this week’s cover of Time magazine. …

Bush appeared unprepared to respond, thanking Mrs. Clinton for joining him at the event but otherwise leaving her criticism unanswered … Bush’s aides, however, could barely hide their disgust … On Twitter, Tim Miller, Bush’s communications director, called it a “Clintonesque move to pass over chance to unite in favor of a false cheap shot.”

WHY JEB PLAYED NICE WITH HILLARY via Annie Karni and Eli Stools of POLITICO

Appearing Friday at the National Urban League Conference … Hillary Clinton didn’t mention Jeb Bush by name, but tore apart the entire premise of his “right to rise” mission statement. Striding onto that same stage less than an hour later, Bush acknowledged Clinton’s presence at the conference in order to thank her for appearing there, then proceeded to ignore her attacks and campaign altogether.

… When Bush finally took the stage to address issues of race and repairing American cities, he didn’t hit back. “I’m pleased to see other candidates here as well,” Bush said, even acting like a host in his home state and thanking Clinton, as well as the three other candidates who spoke, by name. (A Clinton spokesman did not respond to a question about whether the candidates crossed paths backstage.)

Bush’s only opaque reference to the former secretary of state’s line of attack appeared to be written into his speech already. “I believe in the right to rise in this country, and a child is not rising if he’s not reading,” Bush said, highlighting his work on education reform.

He’d made a point of attending this conference of several thousand African-American leaders to offer a unifying message to a traditionally Democratic audience, one “that laid out how his record of success in Florida, increasing minority income and student achievement — can be replicated nationally and give people facing unjust barriers to success the opportunity to rise up,” said Bush’s spokesman, Tim Miller, after the speech. “He didn’t see a value in delivering divisive, false cheap shots like…Clinton did.”

Still, beneath the avowed high-mindedness is a cold reality: had Bush criticized Clinton before this audience, he would have risked getting booed.

… Comfortably near the top of the GOP field, Bush doesn’t have to ratchet up the rhetorical red meat; moreover, doing so would undercut his effort to distinguish himself from his party’s unrestrained grievance-based politics with his self-described “optimistic” and “joyful” message.

“There’s a recognition that the more there’s a Bush versus Hillary fight, the more fatigue that will cause, especially if it commences in 2015,” said Steve Schmidt, a GOP strategist who advised John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “If Jeb Bush winds up being the nominee, there’ll be plenty of time to engage against Hillary Clinton.”

TOP TALKER — SHOULD JEB HAVE FIRED BACK WHEN HILLARY ATTACKED? via Byron York of the Washington Examiner

(T)o some conservatives who question his resolve to fight, Bush’s silence had an ominous sound to it. After all, this was the Jeb who had presented Hillary with the National Constitution Center’s “Liberty Medal” in 2013. And this was the Jeb who has sometimes seemed inclined to criticize fellow conservatives at least as much as Democrats.

“Echoes of ’92: Hillary implies Jeb’s a bigot on stage yesterday, Jeb responds by praising Obama,” tweeted radio host Laura Ingraham. Later, noting praise of Bush, Ingraham added: “Clockwork: New York Times will come to Jeb’s defense as the ‘adult’ in the room … until he becomes the nominee.” It seems unlikely that Ingraham will be alone in coming days; don’t be surprised if Bush’s decision not to answer Clinton becomes another point in the Jeb-is-a-RINO case put forward by some conservatives.

… “This is the sort of story that really worries Republican donors and activists alike,” said one strategist from a rival campaign. “The Clintons and Bushes are obviously friendly and close, but only the Clintons appear ready to take off the gloves. After their first confrontation, it’s pretty obvious why the Clintons are openly hoping that Bush wins the nomination.”

JEB’S GO EVERYWHERE TEST via Eli Stokols of POLITICO

Just about everywhere Bush goes, he talks about his willingness to go everywhere.

His appearance … at the National Urban League conference offered another example of Bush’s ambitions for outreach beyond traditional Republican terrain and his willingness to engage with voters outside of his comfort zone … closed his speech by praising Charleston’s response to the deadly June shooting of nine African-American churchgoers, one, he said, of “such grace, such purity of heart, such heroic goodness, such boundless mercy.

“I will endeavor to live up to the goodness of Charleston and work with you to better our communities, whether as your neighbor or your president,” Bush said.

Bush defended the law in 2012 after the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman, who decided not to use the law as part of his defense. Bush often argues that his reforms brought crime in Florida “to a 35-year low,” opponents, like Jealous, the former NAACP leader, decry the law’s impact on African-American youths.

BUSH ANNOUNCES IOWA FARM TEAM via Ed Tibbetts of the Quad City Times

Bush … announced the endorsements of several farmers and other agriculture professions in Iowa … the “Iowa Farm Team” would be charged with telling the story of his “commitment to supporting production agriculture” and Iowa’s role in it … Iowans listed are Varel Bailey, a past president of the National Corn Growers Association; Thomas Dorr, a northwest Iowa farmer and former USDA undersecretary in George W. Bush’s administration; former state Sen. Thurman GaskillCharles Sukup, president of Sukup Manufacturing; and Glen Keppy, of Davenport, a former USDA official and past president of the National Pork Producers Council.

TWO MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS ON BUSH SOUTH CAROLINA COMMITTEE via Schuyler Kropf of the Post and Courier

Bush released his South Carolina Veterans Steering Committee that includes two Medal of Honor recipients … retired Marine Maj. Gen. James Livingston of Mount Pleasant, who was recognized for his service in Vietnam, and Kyle Carpenter, of Lexington, also a Marine, who was awarded his medal for service in Afghanistan.

The committee will be “tasked with advising the South Carolina campaign on veteran’s issues and encouraging veterans and their families to join the campaign and help spread Gov. Bush’s message,” the campaign said.

SPOTTED dining with Bush last week at Fontana Italian Restaurant at The Biltmore: Woody JohnsonJorge Arrizurieta, Rodney Barreto, Slater Bayliss, Al Cardenas, John Rood, Trey Traviesa, and Jason Unger.

JEB’S BIGGEST DONOR DOESN’T AGREE WITH HIM via Taegan Goddard of Political Wire

The single largest donor to Right to Rise, Mike Fernandez, didn’t hand over a check for a sum that seems obtainable only though some form of global dominion. Fernandez wrote a check for $3 million. Fernandez, a Miami-area businessman who runs a health-care industry-focused private equity firm, doesn’t agree with Bush on at least two issues that have already come up in the 2016 campaign, the Washington Post reports.

Many health-care executives across the country — including in deeply red states — have been generally if not vocally supportive of the Affordable Care Act. That support includes the Medicaid expansion that has been rejected by some Republican-controlled state governments. Bush opposes the Medicaid expansion.

Fernandez, a Cuban American who fled Cuba with his family following Castro’s takeover, is also a vocal and on-the-record supporter of Obama’s move toward normalizing relations with Cuba. Bush is not. Softening sanctions against Cuba strengthens the Castro regime, Bush said this month.

FP&L DONATES $1 MIL TO JEB SUPER PAC via The Associated Press 

The largest Florida corporate donor to a super political action committee backing former Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential run is NextEra Energy Inc., the company that owns electric utility giant Florida Power & Light.

THE DONALD’S GIFTS FOR JEB BUSH via Ross Dothan of the New York Times

(Trump’s) sudden prominence sets up exactly the kind of stylistic contrast that Jeb needed: He and the Donald are now the two most famous names in the race, they’re occupying opposing poles (populist/establishment, raffish/respectable) in a way that makes Jeb look like the safest harbor for anyone freaked out by Trump’s success, and the longer Trump polls well the less attention (and, perhaps, fund-raising dollars) there will be for more plausible challengers.

At the same time, Trump’s deliberately-outrageous shtick, his camera-hogging instincts, are providing cover for Jeb to run the kind of primary campaign he clearly wants to run – conceding a human role in climate change here, doing minority outreach there – without having controversy dogging his every centrist foray.

… Trump’s prominence may eventually give Jeb a rare chance to actually attack a rival from the right – since the Donald’s relatively-liberal past provides plenty of ripe targets. One of Bush’s challenges, facing Rubio or Walker or anyone else in the pre-Trump field, was figuring out a way to draw contrasts that would highlight his own pretty-conservative record. Now the opportunity is there.

— “Ranking the 10 men most likely to win the 2016 Republican nomination” via Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post: 1. Bush … 2. Rubio … 3. Walker … 4. Trump … 5. Kasich … 6. Cruz … 7. Huckabee … 8. Paul … 9. Christie … 10. Carson

RUBIO IMPRESSES CROWD AT KOCK EVENT via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio put in a crowd pleasing performance at the Koch brother gathering in California … avoiding stumbles as POLITICO’s Mike Allen fired off questions on Planned Parenthood, climate change, evolution and Donald Trump.

And Rubio showed quick wit. When Allen asked what Rubio’s “posture” would be during Thursday’s debate, the Florida Republican said, “I’m going to be standing.”

Hillary Clinton was “irresponsible” to use a private email server, Rubio said, using it as a broader attack on the Clintons, referring to “this constant secrecy and drama that surrounds wherever they go. This country cannot afford another four years of drama that they seem to bring in everything they are involved in.”

— “Rubio won’t call for shutdown over Planned Parenthood” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

FORMER RUBIO DONORS TURNING TO OTHERS IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE via Michael Bender of Bloomberg

After Rubio decided to run for president, he asked donors to transfer their contributions from his aborted re-election campaign to his bid for the White House. More than 260 didn’t.

To make matters worse, at least 64 people who were paid back gave a combined $195,800 to other presidential candidates, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

That outward flow underscores how Rubio, the one-time rising star of the Tea Party, has struggled to lock down a base of support necessary to keep him buoyed in the polls and to continue financing the travel, staff salaries, and voter outreach programs of a presidential campaign. Some of those who supported his Senate campaign said he’s not ready for higher office.

Rubio reported refunding a total of $821,500 in contributions. His campaign finance report shows 69 donations returned to political action committees, and 312 given back to individuals. Among those individuals, 45 are reported as donors to Rubio’s presidential committee. Of the remaining 267 people who received refunds and didn’t show up on the list of Rubio’s presidential contributions, about one-fourth gave to a different White House candidate.

INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: THE MONEY RACE BETWEEN BUSH AND RUBIO via The Miami Herald — Peruse the top national, Florida and South Florida donors to the super PACs backing Bush and Rubio. Includes a county-by-county breakdown of how much they hauled for their campaigns in Florida.

ICYMI: RUBIO’S RISE FROM THE SMALL TIME via Robert Samuels of The Washington Post 

Videos offer glimpse of future GOP star as he was just beginning … Rubio … began his political career with a brief, frustrating tenure in the smallest of small-time jobs. From April 1998 [two years out of University of Miami law school] until his February 2000 debut in the Florida legislature, Rubio endured hours of monotonous debates [as] the junior-most member of a five-person city commission in West Miami … This article is based on … 63 hours of recorded … meetings.

— “The unbearable awfulness of campaign lit” via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald

GOP ANNOUNCES FLORIDA HIRES via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

The Republican National Committee has hired three new Florida staffers as the GOP gears up for the 2016 election.

Brian Barrett will serve as state director, Alex Garcia as deputy state director and director of Hispanic initiatives, and Ben Shankle as data director. Working for the RNC, the team will coordinate with the Republican Party of Florida on field activities such as attending community events and registering voters, according to a news release.

ACTUAL EMAIL SUBJECT LINE:Petey the Possum” via the Gwen Graham campaign

BEST PARAGRAPH OF THE DAY via Marc Caputo of POLITICO as part of his story “Feud in Florida over Hillary Clinton backer.

“The telenovela-like drama has an only-in-Miami feel, replete with disarrayed Democrats, back-biting, the specter of Trump and Cuba policy — and even a cameo from a former ventriloquist and adult movie-store worker.”

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LEGISLATURE UNLIKELY TO ADD GAMBLING TO SPECIAL SESSION AGENDA via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

It is unlikely that the Florida Legislature will add any new discussion of extending a statewide gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida when lawmakers meets in a special session in August to deal with Congressional redistricting, a key Senate leader said.

“It is very unlikely that we would expand the call to involve anything else, especially the compact,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano said.

On Friday, the state’s 5-year agreement with the Seminole Tribe that allows them to run blackjack and other table games at five of its casinos expire(d). In return for allowing the games, the state gets $1 billion, under the compact.

— “A deal is a deal — unless it’s the Seminole compact” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

LAWMAKER SEEKS CRIMINAL PROBE INTO PLANNED PARENTHOOD via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

A Florida legislator wants a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood, but the organization calls the request “politically motivated.” Rep. Charles McBurney, a Jacksonville Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked for the inquiry in a letter … to the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement … a spokeswoman for the agency said FDLE would begin a preliminary review to determine whether the allegations are criminal …

Planned Parenthood has come under scrutiny after the release of secretly recorded videos that showed officials discussing how they obtain organs from aborted fetuses for research. Abortion opponents say the videos show the organization is illegally harvesting and selling organs … McBurney in his letter called the videos “disturbing” and stated the videos raise “serious questions” about whether the organization is following state law. Florida law bans the purchase or sale of human organs and tissue.

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN — “Lawmakers in Tallahassee continue to get richer” by Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times: “Of the 160 lawmakers elected to the state Legislature, 114 have increased their own personal wealth while in office, a Herald/Times analysis of officials’ financial statements found.” — Of course they did, these are all alpha-types, most of whom are in the prime years of earning potential. What would be alarming is if the doctors and lawyers and small business owners in the Legislature saw their incomes drop while serving in the Legislature.

BUT CONGRATS TO AUSLEN, whom we hear has accepted a full-time position with the Times after turning down POLITICO Florida.

FLORIDA EXPORTS CONTINUE UPWARD SURGE IN MAY via Cindy Barth of the Orlando Business Journal

The latest international trade numbers show that $5.04 billion worth of goods left Florida for international markets in May, an increase of 5.2 percent from April, according to Durham, N.H.-based e-forecasting.com. The May data is the most recent available.

Exports of manufactured goods contributed significantly to the state’s international trade, accounting for 76 percent of all state exports in May. Exports from state manufacturers increased in May by 9.4 percent from the previous month to $3.84 billion.

Meanwhile, exports of non-manufactured goods went down by 6.4 percent in May to $1.19 billion. This group of foreign sales consists of agricultural goods, mining products and re-exports — foreign goods that entered the state as imports and are exported in substantially the same condition.

Florida ranked 25th among the 50 states through the first five months of this year. Compared to the same period in 2014, foreign sales from Florida’s companies, seasonally adjusted, decreased by an annual rate of 2.5 percent.

Important for Florida’s exporting companies, the IMF forecasts the volume of global trade to grow 4.1 percent in 2015, compared with an increase of 3.2 percent in 2014.

FLORIDA GAS PRICES MAY DROP BELOW $2 A GALLON BY DECEMBER via Cindy Barth of the Orlando Business Journal

Gas price drops are expected to accelerate from Labor Day through the holidays, and that means as many as 20 states — including Florida — could have average gas prices below $2 per gallon as the national average for December slips to $1.98 … factors contributing to that forecast include regional, national and global supply and demand fundamentals that continue to place more downward pressure on crude oil prices than upward pressure. That trend is expected to continue well into 2016.

OVERALL FLORIDA CONSUMER SENTIMENT TICKS DOWN IN JULY, ALTHOUGH MANY ARE BETTER OFF THAN LAST YEAR via Florida Politics

Consumer sentiment among Floridians fell slightly in July to 89, down less than a point from June, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey.

Of the five components that make up the index, one increased and four decreased. Respondents’ overall view that they are better off financially than a year ago rose by 5.2 points to 84.5, but expectations of personal finances a year from now fell 1.9 points to 101.

Trust in the U.S. economy over the coming year fell 3.5 points to 81.5, while expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years fell 2.8 points to 81.7.

Consensus about whether now is a good time to buy big-ticket items like a car fell one point to 96.5.

The biggest change between June and July was the upturn in perceptions of personal finances now compared with a year ago,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “Looking at the demographic categories, the big increases for that component were among women, whose index jumped more than 10 points, and households earning more than $50,000, which rose by 9.7 points. But among older respondents, those age 60 and over, it fell 12.9 points.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend the deployment of the Florida Army National Guard’s 2-124th Infantry Regiment in Orlando upon departure to Africa. Departure ceremony begins 9 a.m. at Orlando International Airport, United North Hangar, 8855 Tradeport Drive in Orlando. Later, the governor will be in West Palm Beach to launch the Office Depot Foundation’s “National Backpack Program.” Scott will hand out school supplies to Florida students and parents starting 3:30 p.m. at the Office Depot retail store, 101a S. State Road 7 in West Palm Beach.

ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE via Adam Putnam’s office: “Monitoring for Old World Bollworm After First Detection in United States Yields no Additional Finds”

NEW WEBSITE HAS TREY RADEL CONNECTION via Betty Parker of News-Press.com

Trey Radel has been low-profile since announcing in March he’s starting a consulting firm specializing in crisis management … Now there’s chatter that in addition to that business — Trey Radel Media Group —he’s involved with a new website focusing on business, politics and media. That includes yet-to-be-released interviews with other former local elected officials, some of whom have also preferred to stay away from mainstream media.

Subscriptions are enabled via Torchlight Productions, a website design and development company in Fort Myers … lists Matt Hurley as a director; Hurley is also listed as a director of “Trey Radel Media Group.”

UBER, LYFT MAKE LAST RIDE IN BROWARD; PALM BEACH COUNTY SHOWDOWN NEXT via Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post

Uber has made good on its threat to leave Broward County, raising the stakes for a showdown with Palm Beach County in mid-August. After Broward commissioners voted … for tough new regulations for the firms, … Uber and fellow service Lyft stopped serving Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the Port Everglades cruise ship terminal and told Broward County they intended to stop pickups in that county by the end of this week.

Broward then told Uber and Lyft on July 24 it didn’t want the outfits even making drop-offs in the county if they weren’t going to abide by the county law … The rules Broward had approved that led to its impasse are similar to those Palm Beach County has tentatively OK’d, and will consider Aug. 18. Uber has said that if they pass, it may leave Palm Beach County.

Key among them: requiring Uber-style drivers to be licensed by the county and to get fingerprint-based Level 2 background checks. Uber has said its own checks are sufficient and it doesn’t want its drivers’ privacy invaded.

WHAT JEFF BRANDES IS READING — UBER’S VALUE SURGES PAST $50 BILLION via The Wall Street Journal  

Uber’s valuation [close to $51 billion] … reached the high-water mark set by Facebook in 2011, [at] seven years old. … At the time of its $50 billion round, Facebook had generated roughly $2 billion in revenue in the previous 12 months. Uber had revenue of more than $400 million last year … Uber … expects revenue to grow to $2 billion this year.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: SOLAR POWER, JEB BUSH & EDUCATION AND TEACHER BONUSES

On Context FloridaPeter Schorsch loves solar power, nearly everyone does. It is like ice cream with sprinkles, he says. So why are voters not supporting the initiative being pushed by the group known as Floridians for Solar Choice? A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed it failing miserably and to the many people Schorsch spoke with, they are genuinely confused. Only 30 percent said they would vote for it while 45 percent opposed it. How can this be? Who would vote against the ice cream of power? Jac Wilder VerSteeg gives Jeb Bush credit for accepting the Urban League’s invitation to speak in Fort Lauderdale on Friday. He calls it a politely hostile forum. VerSteeg is also astonished that Jeb continues to cite his record on education, as if that should make him a more attractive candidate to blacks, whites, Hispanics – or anyone. The Florida Legislature just passed a law that will award bonuses to police officers who were patrol boys or patrol girls in fifth grade. Not really, says Julie Delgal. But what they did was equally absurd. And it could be illegal, too. In last-minute budget horse-trading during the Legislature’s first Special Session this summer, Rep. Erik Fresen’s bill to tie teacher bonuses to SAT or ACT scores became law.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by SHARE THE GULF, a coalition of chefs, restaurant owners, fishermen and conservationists working to keep fresh, sustainably harvested Gulf red snapper on dinner tables and menus around the country. Share the Gulf’s 43,000 members are encouraging regulators to oppose new rules that will hurt Florida fishing businesses and force restaurants and grocery stores to rely more on imported, frozen fish. Learn more at sharethegulf.org***

PERSONNEL NOTE — CAROLYN TUCKER NAMED FINANCE DIRECTOR OF JAY FANT CAMPAIGN

The Jay Fant campaign announced Carolyn Tucker as its new Finance Director. She will oversee all fundraising operations for both the campaign and Rep. Fant’s political committee. Previously, she served as a legislative aide in his official office.

Tucker worked with Fant in his business until his 2014 election to the Florida House. She served as campaign manager in his first campaign.

“I’m excited about working hard to make sure Rep. Fant is in a strong position to return to Tallahassee,” Tucker said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with folks in my hometown to make sure Northeast Florida is well represented in the Florida House.”

APPOINTED: Aedan Dowling, Vernon Hollingsworth, James Horrisberger to the Florida Citrus Commission.

APPOINTED: Robert Carlton to the Florida Concrete Masonry Education Council.

APPOINTED: Peter Bos, Jim Anders, James “Carey” Scott to the Northwest Florida Transportation Corridor Authority.

APPOINTED: Ted Everett to the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

APPOINTED: Joseph Conte and Bill Yeargin to the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Brady Benford, Donald Payton, Ballard Partners: Pensacola State College Foundation, Inc.

Electra Bustle, Southern Strategy Group: The Children’s Campaign

Amy Christian: Pfizer

Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: Florida Emergency Medicine Practice Alliance

Gary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: Minto Communities

Fred Karlinsky, Colodny Fass: Alvarez & Marsai Special Services, LLC; Service Network Design, LLC

Cameron Yarbrough, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Advanced Disposal Services, Inc.

LOBBYING AUDITS DELAYED UNTIL AUG. 31 via LobbyTools

The deadline for state audits of lobbyist compensation reports have been extended until the end of August 2015. … Originally the Legislature had expected the reports for the 26 firms to be completed by the end of June. But accountants auditing Rutledge Ecenia, the largest audit engagement, requested an extension.

***Conversa is a women- and minority-owned, full-service public affairs, public relations, design and research firm, specializing in the development of campaigns that help you listen, understand, engage, and interact with local and global audiences. We’ve helped organizations ranging from Fortune 500 clients and national nonprofits to small businesses and international associations define messages, protect interests, influence opinion leaders, and create the conditions necessary for social change. To learn more about how we get people talking, visit www.Conversaco.com.***

SPOTTED at the Dave Matthews Band concert in Tampa: Rich Heffley, Jim Rimes, and Chris Spencer.

JON STEWART’S LAST WEEK — EXIT, STAGE LEFT via David Redneck of the New Yorker

Four nights a week for sixteen years, Jon Stewart [whose last show is Thu.] … has taken to the air to expose our civic bizarreries. He has been heroic and persistent. … On any given night, a quick montage of absurdist video clips culled from cable or network news followed by Stewart’s vaudeville reactions can be ten times as deflating to the self-regard of the powerful as any solemn editorial-and twice as illuminating as the purportedly non-fake news that provides his fuel.

DR. DRE’S FIRST NEW ALBUM IN 16 YEARS IS COMING OUT AUG. 7 via Dante D’Orazio of The Verge

Dr. Dre is finally giving his fans something new to listen to. The music producer, Apple executive, and N.W.A. rapper announced yesterday that he’s releasing a new album on Friday, August 7th. It’s called Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre, and it’s Dre’s first proper album since 1999’s 2001.

“I was leaving the set, going to the studio, and I felt myself just being so inspired by the movie that I started recording an album,” Dre said on Saturday during his weekly Beats 1 radio show, “The Pharmacy.” “I kept it under wraps, and now the album is finished. It’s an ‘inspired-by’ album, it’s inspired by Straight Outta Compton,” the new N.W.A. biopic coming out this month. The album will be exclusive to iTunes and Apple Music.

GAME OF THRONES CASTS IAN MCSHANE IN SEASON 6 MYSTERY ROLE via Marianna Zumberge of Variety

Details on McShane’s role are being kept under wraps, but he will play a key role in the season’s plot with a small amount of screen time, reports EW.

McShane’s stint in Westeros marks his return to HBO, home to his celebrated role on “Deadwood.”

Production on season six of “GOT” has commenced, with the 10 episodes expected to air in spring of 2016.

TRAILER PARK

Michael Bay‘s Benghazi thriller here.

Johnny Depp‘s Whitey Bulger keeps his enemies close in new ‘Black Mass’ trailer here.

USA TODAY’s COACHES POLL – PRESEASON TOP 251. Ohio State … 2. TCU … 3. Alabama … 4. Baylor … 5. Oregon … 6. Michigan State … 7. Auburn … 8. Florida State … “Jameis Winston is off to the NFL and the Seminoles have to go to Clemson, but they’re the three-time defending ACC champs.” 9. Georgia … 10. Southern California … 11. Notre Dame … 12. Clemson … 13. LSU … 14. UCLA … 15. Mississippi … 16. Arizona State … 17. Georgia Tech … 18. Wisconsin … 19. Oklahoma … 20. Arkansas … 21. Stanford … 22. Arizona … 23. Missouri … 24. Boise State … 25. Tennessee.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the weekend to Kevin Cate (#CateBirthday), former House Speaker Dean Cannon, our blogging colleague Kartik Krishnaiyer, Lindsey Perkins, our good friend Brian Shuford, the ever-talented Ashley Mayer Kalifeh, Karen Unger. Celebrating today is Lisa Ard and the always-generous Nancy Smith.

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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