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Sunburn for Feb. 26 – Debate takeaways; Pick your poll poison; Budget deal? Uber deal?

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.


It was the final opportunity for Donald Trump‘s opponents to change the trajectory of the Republican presidential race before Super Tuesday, and they made the most of it.

The billionaire businessman was positioned at center stage on Thursday night at the GOP debate in Texas as the undisputed front-runner for his party’s nomination, having won three consecutive primary contests.

His leading competitors, first-term Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, sought to score a game-changing moment heading into a series of critical March 1 primary contests. Ohio Gov. John Kasich hoped to prove he and his optimistic message have a place in the race, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was just trying to get a word in.

Here are the top takeaways from Thursday’s high-stakes debate:

Trump under fire: It took 10 debates, but Trump finally took fire from all of his leading rivals on national television.

The former reality television star was on his heels for extended stretches as Rubio and Cruz attacked him from either side of his place at center stage. They went after his business record, his personal wealth, a “fake” university that bears his name, his commitment to conservative social issues, his financial donations to Democrats and his lack of specifics on major policies.

Trump was clearly irritated at times, lashing out at his opponents and moderators alike. “Are you going to ask anybody else a question?” an agitated Trump asked at one point.

It was often not the picture of strength that Trump has portrayed for virtually the entire 2016 Republican primary season.

Rubio outshines Cruz in attack-dog role: Rubio wanted to come out as the strongest alternative to Trump on Thursday night. He largely succeeded.

The freshman senator from Florida set the tone early and delivered the quote of the night when he attacked the source of the billionaire businessman’s wealth: “If he hadn’t inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan,” Rubio charged.

Cruz joined the fight against Trump, but was outshined consistently by Rubio, who responded to the urgency of the moment with Super Tuesday less than a week away.

While both Rubio and Cruz were effective, it was notable that Rubio bested his senate colleague on Cruz’s home turf. Cruz is coming off three consecutive third-place finishes and could be forced out of the race if he loses to Trump in his home state of Texas on March 1.

Make America great again but how? Trump has won three consecutive primary contests by promising to “make America great again” — without saying how he’d go about it in much detail. And the Republican front-runner struggled Thursday night when pressed for those details — especially on health care.

Pushed by his competitors and the moderators to explain how he would replace President Barack Obama’s signature federal health-care law, Trump repeated his call to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines.

“What else is part of your plan?” Rubio asked as Trump offered the same answer. “Now he’s repeating himself,” Rubio went on, coyly referencing a previous debate in which Rubio badly hurt himself by repeating the same answer several times.

Given a final opportunity by the moderator to explain another way he’d replace the federal health care law, Trump offered only, “There’s nothing to add.”

What about me? Kasich and Carson were ignored for long stretches of Thursday’s debate, but each made their mark at times — albeit in very different ways.

The Ohio governor was stubbornly optimistic throughout the evening and refused to attack his rivals even in the midst of the most heated exchanges. “We have to stop this,” Kasich said at one point as the moderators briefly lost control. “Let’s start solving problems,” he said during an extended pointed exchange on immigration.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, stood out briefly during the health care discussion, but seemed to acknowledge his own weak standing after finishing in last in two of the past three primary contests.

“Can somebody attack me please?” he asked at one point. His rivals ignored the request.

Too little, too late? Even if Thursday’s debate performance dents Trump’s momentum, it could be too little, too late, to loosen his tightening grasp on the Republican presidential nomination.

Unfortunately for Trump’s critics — and there are many in the Republican Party — his main rivals waited until five days before Super Tuesday to attack him so aggressively in a debate.

Trump has a big lead in the early delegate count, and preference polls suggest he’s well positioned to add to it next week.

“I’ve dealt with much tougher,” Trump told CNN moments after the debate ended. “I really enjoyed it.”

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MARCO RUBIO TRAILS DONALD TRUMP BY 16 IN FLORIDA Q-POLL via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – A Quinnipiac University Poll showed Trump has a commanding lead over Florida’s native son. The survey showed Trump led the GOP field with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Rubio with 28 percent of the ballot. The poll indicates Floridians want the Republican nominee to be a strong leader, with 32 percent of respondents saying that was the most important quality, while 23 percent said honesty. Among likely Republican primary voters in the Sunshine State who wanted a candidate with strong leadership qualities, 66 percent picked Trump, while 16 percent picked Rubio. The men are tied at 30 percent among voters who wanted a candidate who is honest.

SALT SHAKER TEST: EVALUATING TRUMP’S LARGE LEAD IN LATEST Q-POLL via Steve Vancore for Florida Politics – Quinnipiac’s latest poll is a good one, but with a slight methodology problem that could favor Trump. From the methodology, it is unclear how [they] chose the respondents. Their method says they interviewed “likely Florida Republican primary voters” but indicate they were found by a “Random Digit Dialing” (RDD) system. In speaking with the pollster, he said respondents self-identified as “likely voting Republicans.” The issue is summed up in one word: “self-identified” … First, people who are not registered to vote could partake in the poll if they merely claim to the pollster that they are Republicans. Think about the nonregistered Trump supporter who gets a call and wants to show the world how much he loves the Donald. Second, non-likely voters could claim (as most respondents do) that they are likely to vote. So even if the respondent is a Republican (and tells the truth in that regard) he or she is highly probable to exaggerate past voting frequency. So how does that favor Trump? Most analyses we have examined said Trump does better among nonvoters or non-frequent voters.

SECOND POLL SHOWS DONALD TRUMP LEADING MARCO RUBIO IN FLORIDA via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – An Associated Industries of Florida poll … gives Trump a lead 19 days before the state’s March 15 primary. AIF, which used Tel Opinion Research to poll 600 likely Republican voters, has Trump leading Rubio by 34-27, with Cruz in third place with 17 percent. “This race isn’t over but we stress the point we have been making since December: a crowded field has done as much or more to support Donald Trump’s front runner status in Florida than probably anything he has done for himself,” wrote Ryan Tyson, the association’s vice president of political operations.

— “Sarah Huckabee Sanders joins Donald Trump campaign as senior adviser” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

PPP POLL: TRUMP IS CRUSHING RUBIO IN FLORIDA — According to a Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday night, Trump holds a 20-point lead over Rubio. Trump leads the pack with 45 percent in the Sunshine State, followed by Rubio at 25 percent. Ted Cruz is at 10 percent, followed by John Kasich at 8 percent and Ben Carson at 5 percent. Trump dominates in head-to-head match up with Rubio. In a two-man race, Trump leads Rubio 52 percent to 38 percent. Rubio would win over voters who supported Cruz, Kasich and Carson; but Trump would maintain a double-digit win over Rubio.

POLL: TRUMP’S NEGATIVES AMONG HISPANICS RISE; WORST IN GOP FIELD via Dan Balz and Scott Clement of the Washington Post – Trump[has] the highest negative ratings among Hispanic voters of any major GOP hopeful … with 80% viewing him unfavorably, and he trails Clintonamong Hispanic voters 73 to 16% in a general election matchup. In the Democratic primary, Clinton leads Sanders among Hispanics 57 to 28%.

TRUMP HOLDS STRONG LEAD IN SUPER TUESDAY BIBLE BELT STATES via Katie Riley of TIME magazine – The Bloomberg Politics poll shows Trump leading his Republican opponents in the conservative southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Trump received the support of 37% of likely Republican presidential primary voters in those states, according to the poll, while both Rubio and Cruz tied at 20%. The poll found that Trump also defeats Rubio in hypothetical one-on-one matchups against either Cruz or Rubio in the region. When voters were asked to choose between supporting Rubio and Cruz, 45% chose Rubio compared to 40% selecting Cruz, with 15% unsure. The survey adds to the expectation that Trump will pick up hundreds of delegates for the GOP convention in the upcoming Super Tuesday voting contests, and it shows the businessman has been effective in winning over Christian conservatives.

HOW AMERICA MADE DONALD TRUMP UNSTOPPABLE via Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone – He’s no ordinary con man … and the American political system is his easiest mark ever … The first thing you notice at Donald Trump‘s rallies is the confidence. It’s pure camp, a variety show. It turns out we let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go. And Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He’s way better than average.

RNC SEES LEVERAGE OVER TRUMP via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO – Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has begun stating in private meetings that the party has sway over its at times unwelcome front-runner because it has tools Trump will need to use to win a general election — voter data and field, digital and media operations that a nominee typically inherits from the party infrastructure. Dangling access to these resources, Priebus thinks he can help steer Trump toward partywide policy goals and away from the inflammatory rhetoric that Republican officials see as divisive and dangerous, especially outside of the primary … But the very idea that the party can somehow control or even influence Trump strikes some Republicans as laughable given a primary season marked by the front-runner’s deliberate and aggressive disregard for political norms and party goals.

TRUMP TO FOREIGN WORKERS FOR FLORIDA CLUB: YOU’RE HIRED via Charles Bagli and Megan Twohey of the New York Times – At one of Trump’s projects, the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach … hiring practices [is] discordant with his campaign rhetoric … Trump has stoked his crowds by promising to bring back jobs that have been snatched by illegal immigrants or outsourced by corporations … But he has also pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago since 2010.

INTERESTING READ — HARPER LEE “WOULD BE EXTREMELY UPSET” WITH TRUMP RHETORIC, “SCOUT” SAYS via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics – The actress who portrayed the iconic role of Scout onscreen in Harper Lee‘s classic tale “To Kill A Mockingbird” decried the “inflammatory and divisive” rhetoric of Trump, saying the late Lee would not have approved, either. “I think she would be extremely upset with some of our politicians who are not being realistic, and who are pulling this country apart,” said Mary Badham, who was 10 when she appeared as “Scout” with Oscar winner Gregory Peck in the 1962 film. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Lee, who passed away this past Friday at 89, became close to Badham in the final years of her life.

TWEET, TWEET: @MarkHalperin: “Billionaire self-funding front runner Trump apparently has ZERO TV ads on in Super Tuesday states. Today sorta last day to add buys”

RUBIO SUPPORTER NIKKI HALEY TO HEADLINE PINELLAS LINCOLN DAY DINNER via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – The South Carolina governor who broke Bush‘s heart by endorsing Rubio, will headline the Pinellas County Lincoln Day Dinner on March 12 at the Carillon Hilton in St. Petersburg. That’s three days before Florida’s all-important presidential primary.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERS HEDGE ON SUPPORT FOR TED CRUZ via Tim Alberta of the National Review – A group of conservative activist leaders that voted late last year to endorse Cruz over Rubio held a conference call … to re-evaluate their positions based on new developments in the Republican presidential race … The upshot: If Cruz is not successful on Super Tuesday — by carrying his native Texas at the least — some of his prominent backers are prepared to defect to Rubio. The call was held by members of The GROUP, a secretive cabal of prominent conservatives led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and the Senate Conservatives Fund’s Ken Cuccinelli. The outfit has endeavored since late 2014 to coalesce “the movement” of grassroots activists nationwide behind a single GOP candidate, hoping to prevent a splintering of the conservative vote that would allow a more moderate Republican to clinch the nomination.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: CRUZ FIGHTS ESTABLISHMENT BETTER THAN TRUMP via Nick Gass of POLITICO – Influential conservative talk radio host Limbaugh appeared to put his finger down on the scale for Cruz … talking up his history of fighting the establishment. “Cruz has been taking ’em on longer than Trump has,” Limbaugh said.

POLLING FIRM ASKS FLORIDIANS: IS CRUZ THE ZODIAC KILLER? via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Public Policy Polling … known to lean left-of-center as rival pollster Real Clear Politics tends to lean to the right, had previously asked voters if they would support or oppose the bombing of Agrabah – the fictional Middle Eastern kingdom from Disney’s “Aladdin.” A surprising amount of voters were in favor of an attack on Princess Jasmine in that case. This week, a Twitter follower asked PPP to ask “if people think Cruz is the Zodiac Killer,” referring to a viral meme in which people jokingly tied together the Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate with, for some reason, the notorious unknown serial killer from 1970s California. The polling is ongoing and the results haven’t been released yet, but PPP did give a hint in a recent Tweet. “We are finding many Floridians cannot rule out the possibility … although few are convinced of guilt.”

POLL: HILLARY CLINTON HAS HUGE LEAD OVER BERNIE SANDERS IN FLORIDA via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Clinton maintains a huge lead over Bernie Sanders in the latest poll of Florida Democrats that indicates her biggest strength lies with women voters. Clinton’s 59-33 percent lead over Sanders among likely Democratic voters is also buoyed by those who are 45 years and older – the largest share of the primary vote, according to the Quinnipiac University survey. Sanders leads her among only one age group in the poll: those aged 18-44 years old.

BILL CLINTON TO CAMPAIGN FOR HILLARY CLINTON IN MIAMI GARDENS ON SUNDAY via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Former President Clinton will attend an organizing event at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex in Miami Gardens. He is expected to lay out the case for why Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for working families. The former president was in Palm Beach County earlier this month campaigning for his wife.

BERNIE SANDERS BEARS DOWN FOR SUPER TUESDAY SURPRISE via Hannah Trudo of POLITICO – … Sanders is prepping for a shellacking in South Carolina, but things are looking up for several Super Tuesday contests a few days later … Interviews with over a dozen state Democratic party chairs and local officials in Super Tuesday states suggest Sanders is within striking distance of Clinton in at least five of the 11 contests that will take place on March 1.

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RON DESANTIS GREETS CARLOS BERUFF WITH WEBSITE THAT DERIDES HIM AS A “CHARLIE CRIST REPUBLICAN” via Florida Politics – “If Charlie Crist Republican Carlos Beruff decides to run for US Senate we’re going to make sure that Florida conservatives hear about his support of liberals like Charlie Crist,” said Brad Herold, campaign manager for the DeSantis campaign. “Whether it’s the issue of Beruff’s liberal contributions to his support for Barack Obama’s disastrous foreign policy, his track record of using political donations to get preferential appointments to line the pockets of himself and his friends, or his history of shady business deals; we’re going to make sure Florida conservatives know the truth about crony capitalist and liberal Carlos Beruff.”

DAN BONGINO ENDORSES DESANTIS FOR SENATE via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Bongino, who lost general elections in Maryland during the last two cycles, 2012 for Senate and 2014 for House, noted … that he will “not be running for Florida’s vacant Senate Seat,” as there is a “superb candidate” (DeSantis) already in the race. Bongino extolled DeSantis, saying that “he will not only talk the talk about the critical importance of preserving the liberties we have, and fighting to win back the liberties we are losing, but he will also walk the walk and fight the fights.”

CD 6 CANDIDATE BRANDON PATTY SAYS HE’LL TAKE “MY MARCHING ORDERS FROM THE DISTRICT” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Patty, an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran and a graduate of the London School of Economics, is uniquely positioned as one of the “children of the Reagan Revolution” that his old boss Marco Rubio talks about … Much has been made of the anger voters feel this cycle, an anger that has infused the presidential race with a populist and nationalist flavor. Patty’s noticing anger among voters in his race as well. He contends there’s justification for it. Politicians, Patty said, “overpromise and under deliver,” and “unfulfilled promises” become their legacy. Patty promises he will not be one of those candidates. His aims jibe with mainstream conservatism. He opposes Common Core and backs returning powers to local and state governments.

***Florida hospitals are on a mission. A mission to increase access to health care, improve the quality of care and reduce costs for patients. Find out more about the Florida Hospital Association’s “Mission to Care” and its new website that provides hospital prices and quality ratings in a consumer-friendly, searchable format.***

KEITH PERRY ANNOUNCES SD 8 RUN via Florida Politics – Perry … would forego his final term in the House and run for the newly redrawn Senate District 8 seat. “It really has been an honor to work for you in the Florida House. I’m proud to have helped cut taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, and because of the progress we’ve made, Florida was recently named the freest state in America,” Perry said … “However, there’s still a lot of work to do, and that’s why I want to serve you in the Senate.” Perry, who runs Gainesville-based Perry Roofing Company, hasn’t had a hard time holding down his House seat, claiming double-digit victories in each of his three campaigns. The Gainesville Republican likely won’t be the only familiar face vying for the Senate seat, however.

SARASOTA STATE HOUSE CANDIDATES SPAR OVER CONFEDERATE STATUE via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The 151-year-old conflict is at the heart of the first skirmish between … Ray Pilon and his Democratic challenger Edward James III. James sent out a press release blasting Pilon for voting against legislation that calls for the removal from the U.S. Capitol of a Florida-born confederate general’s statue. Noting his family’s civil rights work in Sarasota during segregation, James – who is African American – said Pilon’s vote “demonstrated that he is aligned with the insensitive, extreme fringe who are more interested in separating people than bringing people together.” Pilon said he has “no problem” removing Smith’s statue and described his vote as a “protest” against the Senate refusing to consider the House version of the bill, which allowed both Florida statues to be removed. “It’s unfortunate my opponent wants to make this a racial issue,” Pilon added. “Since it’s not for me.”

***Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Come visit The Edison for lunch and try one of our quick and delicious lunches, like our Bibb wedge salad with brown sugar bacon. We even offer free valet service to ensure you have ample time to clean your plate. See our full lunch menu here:***

RICK SCOTT MAKING HOUSE ‘NAUGHTY OR NICE’ LIST ON ECONOMIC INCENTIVE FUNDING via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – As chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee, Rep. Matt Gaetz is in charge of crafting his chamber’s tax cut package … when he was called to Scott’s office for a roughly 30-minute meeting, he thought taxes would be on the agenda. He was wrong. “The conversation quickly turned to EFI” … Enterprise Florida, the state’s mostly taxpayer-funded economic development arm. Along with a $1 billion tax cut, securing $250 million in economic incentive money that Enterprise Florida can use to help spur attract companies to Florida is Scott’s top priority. Scott’s administration has been feverishly lobbying House members on the funding issue, which will likely be a top consideration when Scott begins considering budget vetoes. If the funding is not there, those in opposition are likely to feel the wrath of a governor who is known for wielding a heavy veto pen.

FINAL BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS EXPECTED TO START THIS WEEKEND via Matt Dixon of POLITICO – Budget writers are approaching a deal and expect to enter final negotiations this weekend. The House and Senate passed their budget proposals Feb. 11, but have been stalled since. “We are pleased with the progress President [Tom] Lee and Chair [Richard] Corcoran have made and are optimistic we will be ready to begin the budget conference this weekend,” read an email sent Thursday night from both leadership offices.

NEGOTIATORS NEAR DEAL ON UBER BILL via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – The deal, which isn’t finalized, would include insurance requirements for Uber and Lyft drivers of $250,000 for death and bodily injury per accident and $50,000 for property damage while logged onto the app waiting to connect with passengers. It would also require drivers to have clean driving records and pass criminal background checks. There’s also a ban on drivers accepting rides outside of the app or receiving cash. A bill that passed the House by a 108-10 vote last month had lower insurance requirements when a driver was logged into the app but hadn’t secured a passenger. The higher insurance levels were a key concession by Uber, which preferred reduced coverage. Taxicab companies, however, have vehemently opposed the preemption of local regulations. Andy Gardiner … and Sen. David Simmons … have tentatively approved the framework of the compromise … progress was made in talks but that Simmons would handle the details of the compromise. The breakthrough in negotiations came as a surprise to Uber, which had scheduled an ad … attacking Gardiner for holding up the bill.

ATTEMPT TO REVIVE RECESS BILL WITHDRAWN FROM SENATE COMMITTEE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Sen. Alan Hays‘ effort to bring back to life a proposal that would mandate elementary-school recess was short-lived today … [Hays] withdrew an amendment he had filed last night on a sweeping re-write of an education bill (SB 1166) by Sen. Don Gaetz. Gaetz’s rewrite broadens the education funding bill to now include more than a dozen policy issues. But not recess. Hays said he “really, really believes that our students deserve recess,” but will “wait for a better day,” after talking today with Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano … and Sen. John Legg … who chairs the chamber’s education policy committee. With no other discussion or debate, the 19-member Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously sent Gaetz’s revised version of SB 1166 to the Senate floor. It now includes several House priorities that were also moving through Senate committees: open enrollment for public students, charter school accountability measures, youth suicide and prevention, and high school athletics proposals, among others.

***In Marion County alone, the horse industry’s annual economic impact is $2.62 billion and nearly 20,000 jobs–completely dwarfing any Seminole Compact estimates.  Totally opposed by horsemen, the “partial decoupling” plan now in play would put horsemen on forced welfare with an artificial “set aside purse pool,” wiping out free enterprise and Florida’s ability to compete for horse racing business with other states.  United Florida Horsemen want legislators to know that “Partial Decoupling” is being peddled by casino-only interests, the goal of which is to channel money directly into their corporate bottom lines that would have normally been circulated into Florida’s economy.***

SENATE COMMITTEE PASSES SERIES OF COST-SAVING HEALTH CARE PROPOSALS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – SB 1686, sponsored Aaron Bean, will allow Florida’s health care practitioners to provide telehealth services. The bill creates a task force under the Agency for Health Care Administration to study ways to implement telehealth. An amendment allows representatives of long-term-care services to become part of the task force. SB 152, sponsored by Denise Grimsley, combined with SB 946, seeks to allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants the ability to order controlled substances for patients in health facilities, hospitals and nursing homes. SB 1496 … from Rob Bradley, would bring additional transparency to health care costs. The AHCA would be required to contract with a vendor for a consumer-friendly website which will show both cost and quality data. An amendment provides a competitive bidding process to choose the vendor.

LEGISLATORS MAY TRY ONCE AGAIN GIVE ADDITIONAL PROTECTIONS TO CUSTOMERS OF CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE via the Associated Press – A Senate panel … approved a bill that would put a limit on how many times a year a homeowner could be asked to leave the state-created insurance carrier. The bill sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores would also make it easier for a homeowner to switch their insurance coverage back to Citizens in case their rates spike upward. The legislation (SB 1630) is heading to the full Senate, and a companion bill is moving in the Florida House.

MY TAKE – BALANCE BILLING: SOMEONE DIDN’T GET THE MEMO via Florida Politics – An emergency room physician by the name of Jay L. Falk, on behalf of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians (FCEP), wrote a column titled, “Emergency Physicians Seek Solutions To Fair Treatment,” in support of a balance billing fix … Falk, like everyone else, wants to hold patients harmless. He suggests that the insurance companies pay out-of-network doctors a fee based on an independent database, mainly FAIR Health. FAIR Health, for those who have not been involved in this issue, is a national independent database used by states, providers and many insurance companies that indexes different charges for different services. So what’s the problem? The FCEP is opposing the use of the FAIR Health database solution in the balance billing bills moving through the Legislature. Oops.

“CAPITOL PITBULL DUDE” ARRESTED AT SENATE OFFICE BUILDING via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Antonio Ringo Davis, 35, of no fixed address, was booked into the Leon County Jail … Davis caused a scene at the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee on Feb. 16 as lawmakers were considering a proposal by Arthenia Joyner that would have bumped up lawmakers’ annual salaries from $29,600 to $50,000. Amateur smartphone video captured him and his dog, which appears to be a pit bull, shouting about how Florida nonprofits had ruined his life. On Wednesday, he again tried to get into the Senate Office Building in the Capitol Complex, ignoring instructions by police. During an arrest, he first yanked his hand away from an officer, then grabbed hold of his uniform and ripped it, the report said.

MORNING MUST-READ – ACCUSATIONS FLY IN COURT FIGHT OVER JUSTICE LEANDER SHAW’S ESTATE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Now, son Sean Shaw, a Tampa lawyer and the state’s former Insurance Consumer Advocate, and his sister, Sherri Shaw Luke, are suing each other in a hail of dueling accusations. Shaw filed first … said in his complaint that Luke wrongly tried to claim a $156,000 loan from her father in 2013 as a gift instead, despite paperwork to the contrary, so she wouldn’t have to repay the estate. The money was to pay off her house. He also said her father lent her another $38,000 to pay for law school in 2014-15, but she dropped out and kept the money. Luke responded with her own lawsuit, filed this month. She said that her father deeded his home on Lake Iamonia in northern Leon County to Sean Shaw but “never recorded the deed” at the courthouse or gave it to his son.

TPD: FORMER LOBBYIST’S HOME FILLED WITH DRUGS via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat – When Tallahassee police served a search warrant … at a home in the upscale Ox Bottom neighborhood, they found a house full of people, and drugs and drug paraphernalia throughout the house. During the raid, police arrested nine people, including 62-year-old Benjamin G. Parks, a former lobbyist and owner of the five-bedroom, Whittondale Drive home. Parks was arrested on charges including keeping a drug house and possession of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and narcotics equipment. Police found drugs and paraphernalia throughout the home and noted it would be hard for anyone inside the home to be oblivious to the activities there. Along with the suspected drugs, in the house police found items such as metal spoons with drug or burn residue, razor blades, syringes, baggies and prescription pills.


Jennings Lawton DePriest, Strategos Public Affairs: Texas Teachers

Karen Effrem: Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Beth Gosnell, BG & Associates: Florida Association of Wholesale Distributors

Robert LevyJose Diaz, Robert M. Levy & Associates: PATCHES

Sally West: Walgreen Company


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James  on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Duhane Lindo on “The Politics of Survival” with Sarasota NAACP President Trevor Harvey and Suncoast Women of Action President Helen James.

Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: A re-broadcast with Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Irv Slosberg in conversation.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Pasco County GOP Committeeman Bill Bunting, Democratic political consultant Barry Edwards, Margie Manning of the Tampa Bay Business Journal, and Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano.

On Point with Shannon Ogden on WFCN in Jacksonville: City Councilman Tommy Hazouri on his recently withdrawn Human Rights Ordinance proposal, Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union discusses the ongoing Legislative Session, plus an update on the El Faro investigation.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Michelle Ertel and Dick Batchelor review Nevada and South Carolina results, the latest Republican debate, and look ahead to Super Tuesday. Plus, PolitiFact’s rates a Rick Scott claim about state revenues and tax cuts.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon. Sean Pittman, and Sen Jack Latvala discuss Gov. Rick Scott’s economic development budget.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Public Defender Matt Shirk discusses Veterans court, civil citations, and moving forward from scandal in 2014 as he runs for a third term this year. Plus former Congressman Jason Altmire and political analyst and former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

WHAT TRAVIS BLANTON IS READING — SEAWORLD ACKNOWLEDGES PLANTING WORKER IN ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUP via Mike Schneider of the Associated Press – The development comes months after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals accused a SeaWorld employee of trying to incite violence while posing as a fellow animal rights activist. SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby vowed to end the practice, but said that it had sent its employees to protect the safety of its employees and customers. “We recognize the need to ensure that all of our security and other activities align with our core values and ethical standards,” Manby said. However, the company refused to say who had authorized the infiltration, how long it had been going on, or how many workers were used to infiltrate animal rights groups or other opponents.

WHAT JEFF BRANDES IS READING — NO TRAFFIC. NO ACCIDENTS. NO DEATHS. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO DRIVE via Matt Vella of TIME magazine – Self-driving cars will likely join digital surveillance and unmanned drones among the advances and controversies that mark our times. Freedom vs. security, that quintessential quandary of the 21st century, will frame the transition from human drivers to more-skillful computers.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of our favorites, Ana Cruz, one of our new friends, Eric Foglesong, as well as Ron Greenstein and Jerry Paul. Happy birthday tomorrow to our Mitch Perry, great guy Ryan Duffy, and our dear dear dear friend, Rep. Kathleen Peters.

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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