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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – December 1

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.


Before you scan through to see who made the very first INFLUENCE 100 list, please allow me to make something very clear.

(A link to the digital copy of INFLUENCE Magazine is here.)

It’s my list.

I’m responsible for the facepalming, out-of-left-field choices, as well as the glaring sins of omission.

I’m the one who decided not to rank the list (at least not this year). I’m the one who moved so-and-so from the “100” section to the honorable mentions.

I’m the crazy one who – clearly with not enough to do already – decided to compile a list as ambitious as the INFLUENCE 100.

Like it, love it, or hate it: The buck stops here.

At first I thought of inviting a blue-ribbon selection committee to help me sift through the avalanche of nominations. I attempted to set a firm criteria for how someone would be included. I spent countless hours on the phone, picking the brains of much smarter people than myself, including the legendary Lucy Morgan. She used to compile her own list of 100 most important people in Florida politics in a still-worth-reading feature for the then-St. Petersburg Times.

At the end of the day, though, I realized it had to be my list. People won’t discuss it and say, “The selection committee decided …” This is not March Madness.

No, what people will say is, “That S.O.B. Schorsch left me off his stupid list because …”

I’m prepared to live with that.

The INFLUENCE 100 list of the most influential people in Florida politics does not include any elected officials. Instead, it includes all the other masters of the universe: The Players, The Thought Leaders, The Lobbyists, The Titans, The Counselors, The Media, The Industry Leaders, The Advocates, The Wonks, and The Legends.

I admit that the inspiration for the INFLUENCE 100 is Time Magazine’s annual list of the most influential people in the world, which, rather than ranking also breaks its list down into sectors.

The INFLUENCE 100’s two favorite aspects for me – beyond the parlor games it will inspire – are the superb photographs that accompany many of the profiles and that those bios were written by the subjects’ peers, competitors, and admirers.

After all, who knows the 100 better?

So CFO Jeff Atwater writes about the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Mark Wilson. Current Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli pays homage to one of his distinguished predecessors, Allan Bense. Former Senate President Don Gaetz explains why Lewis Bear is so important. And so on.

As with any list, there had to be a cutoff point. At first, I considered an INFLUENCE 250: There really are at least that many people with a hand in The Process. But that magazine would have run about 300 pages, so I settled on the more accessible INFLUENCE 100.

My goal is that in a few years Florida politicos will be as excited to make it onto this compilation as billionaires are to read their name in Fortune.

Meanwhile, though, I just hope you’re psyched about reading the inaugural list.

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AS TED CRUZ GAINS, GOP SENATORS RALLY FOR MARCO RUBIO via Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim of POLITICO – Republican senators who’ve clashed with Cruz for years have had nothing but nice things to say about Rubio even as he’s dissed … his day job in the Capitol. Just this month, Rubio has racked up endorsements from nine members of Congress, compared with two for early GOP front-runner Jeb Bush. More House endorsements for Rubio are set to roll out in December … With the GOP defending a slim Senate majority next year, lawmakers want a nominee who can win over moderate voters in battleground states.

DARRELL ISSA ENDORSES RUBIO via The Daily Beast – Issa, best known for his tenure as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox & Friends … that he will throw his weight behind the Florida senator’s presidential bid … “He’s been fighting for a lot of things I believe in.”

COURTING CONSERVATIVES, RUBIO CLARIFIES STANCES ON SOCIAL ISSUES via Alex Jaffe of NBC News – Rubio is seeking to clarify his stance on a number of hot-button social issues as he works to gain support among conservatives … said in an interview that where “God’s rules” and “civil authorities” come into conflict, “God’s rules always win” … “if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel, if we are ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that” … people of faith should also participate in ways to “peacefully change the law.”

RUBIO SUPER PAC, CONSERVATIVE SOLUTIONS PAC, RELEASES “MARCO,” FIRST TV AD via YouTube – Airing in Iowa and New Hampshire, the video by Chris Mottola is part of a multi-million-dollar buy, above what was pre-booked. Narrator: “He took on the Republican establishment and won. … The insiders were shocked, but not the people. They knew because they heard his clear, conservative message.”

HERMAN CAIN CAUTIONS JEB BUSH ABOUT USING POOR POLLING SIMILARITIES via Alan Rappeport of the New York Times – “At least I was once winning,” … Cain said of Bush in an essay on his website. “Jeb Bush has been doing nothing but losing throughout this entire campaign” … criticized Bush for underestimating political outsiders and said that he should be doing far better considering his financial advantages and name recognition. “Trump is very smart, has done his homework and has learned a lot from what happened in many previous campaigns — including mine.”

WHISPER CAMPAIGNS AND “ZIPPER PROBLEMS”: HOW BUSH’S ALLIES TRIED — AND FAILED — TO STOP MARCO RUBIO via McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed News – Rubio‘s advisers had hoped to stay off Jeb‘s radar entirely, quietly raising money and assembling a lean and nimble staff while the juggernaut blasted away at bigger targets and boasted about its gargantuan fundraising hauls. … [W]hen Rubio had assembled his top donors in Miami Beach at the end of January, his advisers explicitly asked that they resist, for now, any urge to hype their contributions in the media. “Don’t try to steal Jeb’s thunder,” one Rubio adviser instructed them. “It’s like a pendulum. Let them pound their chest and build themselves up, and when they don’t hit their goal, it’s gonna come crashing back [in] the other direction” … [I]n a series of off-the-record conversations, Jeb’s messengers tried to convince a number of influential figures in political media that they had the goods on Rubio. Among these was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. A former Republican congressman from Florida who remained tapped into the state’s politics, Scarborough was skeptical whenever somebody tried to convince him that Rubio had an explosive career-ending secret lurking in his past. “Everybody who runs against him says he has girlfriends, or financial problems. They throw a lot of shit at the wall … It’s the same thing from the Jeb Bush camp. They keep telling me, ‘Oh, we’ve got the thing that’s going to take him down.’ But nobody’s ever produced anything that we all haven’t read in the Tallahassee Democrat.”

TWEET, TWEET: @AnaNavarro: 0 evidence 1) I spread rumors; 2) Marco has infidelity issues. All anonymous speculation. I do admit to being a socialite!

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: Of all the things Jeb World has said about Rubio ‘zipper problems’/fidelity issues isn’t 1 i’ve ever heard from them….

GEORGE W. BUSH’S CHIEF STRATEGIST THINKS JEB BUSH HAS ‘INCREDIBLY LOW’ ODDS OF BEING THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE via Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post – Matthew Dowd: I had always doubted Jeb‘s ability to run an effective campaign in this environment for a few reasons: He is not as good of a retail politician as his brother, he has been away from elective office for too long, and times have changed. The voters were going to look for anyone other than an establishment pol with a dynastic last name, and the whole premise of their campaign was based around fundraising [while] today money matters way less. While there is an outside shot he can surface sometime next year, the odds are incredibly low and it will take the five candidates ahead of him falling apart.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush is scheduled to be in Iowa for a series of fundraising events through Thursday.

SAVE THE DATE: Several high-profile Florida Republicans, including all three members of the Florida Cabinet, are lending support to former Gov. Jeb Bush in a fundraiser Thursday, December 3. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have been named honorary co-chairs of the $2,700 per person fundraiser scheduled to begin 7:30 p.m. Location will be provided with RSVP to Ann Herberger at or (305) 772-4311.

FLORIDA’S 2 MAIN PARTIES TURN IN NAMES FOR MARCH PRIMARY, INCLUDING 14 FROM GOP via the Associated Press – The Florida Democratic Party earlier this month placed three Democrats on the ballot: Hillary ClintonMartin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. The Republican Party of Florida is submitting the names of 14 GOP candidates: BushBen CarsonChris ChristieTed CruzLindsey GrahamCarly FiorinaJim GilmoreMike HuckabeeBobby JindalJohn KasichRand PaulRubioRick Santorum and Donald Trump.

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STEVE SOUTHERLAND ENDORSES NEAL DUNN IN CD 2 via Florida Politics – Former Rep. Steve Southerland picked a side Monday and endorsed Republican candidate Neal Dunn, who is running for Southerland’s old CD2 seat in the Panhandle. The endorsement adds to a list of current and former lawmakers who have thrown their support behind the Panama City urological surgeon, including former Florida House Speakers Allan Bense and Will Weatherford as well as former Senate President Don Gaetz.

— “GOP Congressional hopeful Mary Thomas signs pledge to repeal Common Core” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

— “Adam Barringer lines up two December fundraisers in CD 6” via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer

— “David Jolly boasts about his proposal on maintaining GITMO as U.S. military base signed by President Obama in NDAA” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Hours after Colorado shooting, Annette Taddeo’s political opportunism was in full force” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

CYBER MONDAY EMAILS I DIDN’T OPEN: “Flash Sale, today only” via the Marco Rubio campaign; “CLC & Cyber Monday” from the Carlos Lopez-Cantera campaign.

FLORIDA CITIES ‘ON ALERT’, SEEKING TO KILL ELECTION DATE CHANGE IDEA via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida League of Cities is mobilizing opposition to kill a legislative proposal to revamp the state’s elections timetable in advance of a House vote this week … House State Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote … on a bill that would shift city elections to the same date as statewide November general election dates in even-numbered years and to similar dates in odd-numbered years. Most cities hold elections in the spring when they often have the ballot all to themselves. The change is being pushed by … Matt Caldwell … who says his goal is to inprove voter turnout in city elections … Cities say it would trample on their home-rule powers and could produce longer ballots (meaning longer lines at polling places) and even less voter participation, because city elections would be at the end of the ballot, after all federal, state and local contests and proposed constitutional amendments. A league “legislative alert” to its member cities also says the nonpartisan nature of municipal elections would be threatened by the change.

LAWMAKERS FACE COMMON CORE KILLER EDUCATION COMMISSIONER BILL via Arek Sarkissian of Political Fix Florida – A growing faction of Florida Republicans are supporting the move to make the state education commissioner an elected position, a proposal designed to reverse the state’s adoption of Common Core standards. The plan, offered by … Debbie Mayfield … clashes with GOP legislative leaders who support the role of presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. … Bush in introducing Common Core ideas during his two terms in office. Mayfield said she filed her bill with … Rene Garcia … to answer complaints from parents about the Florida Standards Assessment tests, which are tied to Common Core principles.

HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS BILL SET FOR HEARING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – One of several bills aimed at overhauling the state’s oversight body for high school athletics … (HB 31) … is set to be considered by the Education Appropriations subcommittee … It tweaks state law governing the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), including ensuring that it is revenue-neutral … keeps the association “designated as the governing nonprofit organization of athletics in Florida public schools.” But it would replace it with another body if FHSAA “fails to meet the provisions of this section.”

LOSING SIDE IN DEO APPEAL WANTS YET ANOTHER CHANCE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida … filed a request for a full rehearing by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in a case involving a low-interest loan program for the state’s small businesses. On Nov. 9, a three-judge panel largely upheld a ruling for the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). The investment fund now wants something that’s often requested and rarely granted: A rehearing en banc, in which the entire 15-judge court takes another look at the matter. A lower court granted summary judgment, awarding $1.1 million in damages to DEO. The appellate panel agreed, finding the fund incorrectly charged a monthly fee of 0.625 percent, rather than an annual fee of the same rate.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: State Sen. Thad Altman and Rep. Keith Perry will announce their companion legislation (HB537/SB328) that would make texting-while-driving a “primary” offense in Florida. News conference will be 12:30 p.m. on the third floor Rotunda of the State Capitol.

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHTS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

NURSE LICENSURE WORKSHOP  A workshop by the House Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access will discuss the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Room 17 of the House Building.

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS EXAMINED  Gov. Scott’s proposed $79.3 billion budget will be on review by the House Appropriations Committee. Meeting begins noon in Room 212 of the Knott Building.

FLORIDA’S POPULATION GROWTH DISCUSSED  The legislative Demographic Estimating Conference will discuss Florida’s population growth in a meeting beginning 3:15 p.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING — FLORIDA’S STEADY AND UPRISING SUNSHINE via Rex Sinquefield of Forbes – While some states’ economic outlooks appear cloudy at best, Florida’s financial future remains bright … Florida Chamber of Commerce released the details of its 2016 Competitiveness Agenda … [Supporting] two key Scott initiatives: a call for $1 billion in tax cuts to attract new businesses to the state … neither the Chamber nor the Governor show any sign of slowing down on their pro-growth agendas … The 2016 “State Business Tax Climate Index” from the nonprofit Tax Foundation once again ranks Florida among the top 10; this year, Florida takes the number-four spot thanks to its business-friendliness and nonexistent individual income tax.

FDLE: NO EVIDENCE PLANNED PARENTHOOD BROKE LAW via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – FDLE’s inquiry found no criminal wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood’s 16 affiliates in Florida … Investigators interviewed Planned Parenthood officials, state regulators and employees of two biomedical waste companies that contract with Planned Parenthood to dispose of fetal remains. “The report confirms what Planned Parenthood has said all along, that we in Florida don’t offer tissue donation,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates … [Of] the 16 affiliates, 15 had been inspected by the Florida Department of Health within the last two years and been given “satisfactory” ratings, meaning they met the minimum requirements for complying with state law. DOH also told investigators they received no complaints of any Planned Parenthood facilities over the last three years.

CORIZON HEALTH CARE TERMINATES CONTRACT WITH FLORIDA PRISONS AGENCY via Arek Sarkissian of Political Fix Florida – Officials with Corizon met with DOC Secretary Julie Jones … to announce they planned to end their [$1.2 billion] contract with the state in 180 days … Corizon … has been closely watched by the Florida Department of Corrections since it took over health care services in October 2013 and faced more than $67,000 in fines for failing to meet standards … struggled to fill positions, resulting in spotty health care that led to plenty of complaints.

FLORIDA COMPANY FILES BID PROTEST IN BATTLE OVER EMERGENCY ALERT NETWORK via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Emergency Communications Network, or ECN, filed an administrative protest last month …  The project at issue is the continued development of the Florida Statewide Emergency Alert Notification System … The department decided to go with Everbridge, an international communications concern …  ECN now has raised several questions, including whether Everbridge, as a foreign corporation, was ever “authorized to do business in Florida” … alleges that “four of the (department’s) six (bid) evaluators are current users of Everbridge services” … “Of those four, three scored Everbridge significantly higher and ECN markedly lower than did the other evaluators.”

PERSONNEL NOTE – FLORIDA HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION HIRES NEW REIMBURSEMENTS HEAD via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Former state Medicaid official Thomas H. Parker will join the Tallahassee-based Florida Health Care Association as its new as Director of Reimbursement … spent the last eight years with the Agency for Health Care Administration, the state agency that regulates Florida’s skilled nursing centers … Most recently, he oversaw the Florida Medicaid Nursing Home Rate Setting Program for the state’s 650-plus nursing centers.

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FLORIDA SENATORS WHO COULD GO UNDER OATH FOR REDISTRICTING TRIAL INCLUDE ANITERE FLORES, MIGUEL DIAZ DE LA PORTILLA via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – … may be questioned under oath about the origins and development of the staff-drawn base maps approved by the Senate and submitted to the court by [AndyGardiner … according to a lengthy witness list filed … by the coalition of voting groups. Also on the potential witness list … Jack Latvala … Tom Lee … and House Redistricting Committee Chairman Jose Oliva … plaintiffs list only [BillGalvano … as a witness who will definitely be called.

ROMANO COLUMN: JUDGE SHOULD END ELECTION RIGGING WITH NEW DISTRICT MAPS via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times – So the current maps are a scam. The state Senate has all but admitted that … And nobody seems to trust legislators, consultants, activists or even fate when it comes to drawing new Senate districts for future elections. Every possible solution comes wrapped in accusation, and every participant is presumed to have an ulterior motive. So what’s a judge to do? Err on the side of chaos. That’s not a joke. The worst thing Circuit Judge George Reynolds can do when the redistricting trial begins this month is assume the problem can be fixed with tweaks.

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR JEFF BRANDES AND DARRYL ROUSON via Florida Politics – Hoping to “narrow the issues for trial,” the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and the other plaintiffs withdrew two maps and submitted a new “corrected” map, after filing six versions of a redrawn district map … In a notice filed by attorney David King, the plaintiffs backed down from a proposed African-American district in Hillsborough County that does not cross Tampa Bay into Pinellas County … “During the special session, members of the Senate and the public requested that the Legislature avoid crossing Tampa Bay in the remedial senate districts.” His clients then “prepared and submitted Alternative Remedial Senate Plans CPS-2a and CPS-2b, which contained a configuration of District 19 that was wholly within Hillsborough County and did not cross Tampa Bay.” And with that, all should be well that ends well in Pinellas County politics.

SECOND DEMOCRAT FILES IN HD 42, SETTING UP PRIMARY BATTLE FOR MIKE LAROSA SEAT via Florida Politics – Dr. Bienvenido John Valentin Jr., a clinical psychologist, filed to run for the seat … and will face off against John Ferentinos, a Democrat who ran as a Tea Party candidate against Republican Rep. Elizabeth Porter in the 2010 election cycle. Valentin doesn’t have much catching up to do against Ferentinos, who entered the race in early October. So far, his campaign hasn’t found a spark and sits with just a few dollars on hand, all of it coming in through loans.

LISA MONTELIONE FEELS CONFIDENT IN HD 63 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VERSUS MIKE REEDY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Montelione said it was “excruciatingly hard” to decide to give up her Tampa City Council seat next year, but that’s what will happen now that she’s decided to run for the Florida Legislature … She’ll take on fellow Democrat … Reedy in the House District 63 primary. Regarding that primary race … Montelione said simply, “I will win.”

HAPPENING TONIGHT: House Majority 2016 is hosting a joint fundraiser for state Reps. MaryLynn MagarKathleen PetersDan Raulerson and Ross Spano. Event begins 5 p.m. at the Governors Club Board Room, 202 1/2 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee. A little later, state Reps. Elizabeth Fitzenhagen and Holly Raschein will also hold a fundraising event beginning 5:30 p.m. at 113 East College Ave., third floor, in Tallahassee.

GOVERNORS CLUB PLANS OUTDOOR DECK ON ADAMS STREET via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Cigar-smoking Governors Club members rejoice: The club plans to build an outdoor deck … next to the private club’s valet stand near the corner of Adams Street and College Avenue, one block from the Capitol, club president Gus Corbella … will hold 10 to 12 outdoor tables under the existing magnolia tree, is now in the permitting process with the city of Tallahassee … It’s been one year since a smoke-free happy hour was instituted in the club’s first-floor lounge, which had been beset with clouds of offending stogie smoke that sent some patrons fleeing.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jeb Bush Jr., Brian Bautista, reporter Michael Van Sickler, Mitch Wertheimer and lobbyist Amy Young.

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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