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.
FIRST AND FOREMOST a very happy birthday to one of the Senate’s top legislative aides — and “Defender of the Tiki” at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club — Chris Spencer.
On to politics …
FIRST WAVE OF BALLOTS IN FLORIDA TO BE MAILED BEFORE VOTING IN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE
Some Florida voters could be casting their ballots around the same time as voters in early voting states.
Thousands of vote-by-mail, or absentee, ballots are expected to be sent out in advance of Florida’s presidential preference primary. According to the Florida Division of Elections, the first wave of mail ballots will by sent to military and overseas voters by Jan. 30; the Iowa caucuses are Feb. 1.
The second wave of ballots goes out on Feb. 9, the same day as the New Hampshire primary.
Elections officials said most people who requested a ballot in the mail will receive it by Feb. 14, six days before South Carolina’s Republican presidential preference primary.
Elections experts said they expect about half the Florida votes cast in the presidential primary will be cast early, either by mail or during the early voting period in early March.
“The trend toward voting by mail continues to increase every election,” said Melissa Blazier, the chief deputy supervisor of elections for the Collier County Supervisor of Elections. “It’s more convenient for voters.”
Vote by mail ballots are appealing, in part, because they give voters time to mull over their options, something that could prove helpful for Floridians this election cycle.
The ballot for the presidential primary was finalized weeks ago, but since then several Republican hopefuls have already bowed out. And it’s likely the field will get smaller as the March 15 primary gets closer.
“We’re letting voters know … not all (of the candidates) have active campaigns,” said Mike Ertel, the Seminole County supervisor of elections, whose office doing outreach to remind voters they can’t change their votes if their top candidate drops out.
Outreach will be key, especially since Florida is a closed primary state. While interest in the presidential primary is high, only those voters registered as a Republican or a Democrat can vote in their respective party’s primary.
“The No. 1 thing citizens should be aware of is that presidential preference primary is closed, unlike the general,” said Ion Sancho, Leon County’s supervisor of elections. “If you’re registered with no party affiliation you cannot vote. Period. It’s a partisan race on the Republican side and a partisan race on the Democratic side.”
There are more than 3 million voters registered with either no party affiliation or with a minor party. Florida law allows voters to change their party affiliation up to 29 days before the primary, or until Feb. 16.
While some Floridians will be voting around the same time as voters in early voting states, presidential hopefuls haven’t spent much time in Florida. And campaign watchers said candidates won’t likely focus on the Sunshine State until late February.
“Your goal is to emerge from those early states still in the race,” said Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant. “I suspect we’re not going to see a lot of these guys … until at least South Carolina.”
POLL DU JOUR: A new Reuters poll finds Donald Trump leading the GOP race nationally with 42 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 14 percent, Ben Carson at 11 percent, Marco Rubio at 8 percent and Jeb Bush at 8 percent.
POLL: TRUMP UP 14 POINTS IN NH; MARCO RUBIO IN SECOND via Lisa Hagen of The Hill — The survey from Public Policy Polling … finds the real estate mogul with 29 percent support in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Rubio is in second place, with 15 percent … followed by … Christie and … Kasich, each with 11 percent. Bush and … Cruz both have 10 percent. The rest of the GOP candidates lag behind in the single digits.
NEW HAMPSHIRE GOP RACE STILL WIDE OPEN via Heather Haddon of The Wall Street Journal — Despite Trump’s dominance in Republican polls in New Hampshire, interviews with voters and prior voting patterns suggest the GOP race in the state is still very much in play. The contest on the Democratic side also may be tighter than expected. Franne Ciriello is the kind of undecided independent that presidential candidates from both parties are trying to win. The 62-year-old Manchester small-business owner had warmed to former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, and was impressed by … Rubio when she saw him over the summer. On the Democratic side, she had hopes for … Martin O’Malley. Now, she is among a growing number of state voters giving … Christie a long look. New Hampshire voters have long relished putting presidential candidates through intense scrutiny, and voters interviewed at eight political events in recent days revealed a vacillating electorate burdened by the prospect of choosing just one primary contender.
RUBIO, CRUZ BATTLE OVER UNDECIDED IOWANS via AP — Rubio and Cruz are fighting for the favor of many of the same undecided voters across Iowa, where even some of the most attentive Republicans say they can’t make up their minds less than four weeks before voting begins. “I haven’t settled on one candidate 100 percent,” said Mike Grover, a 65-year-old Cedar Rapids man who is among the thousands of “persuadable voters” still up for grabs.
RUBIO SEEKS NEW HQ via Anna Palmer and Shane Goldmacher of POLITICO — Rubio, long an advocate of a slim and trim campaign operation, is now going big … outgrown his campaign headquarters on Capitol Hill and is in search of new and bigger space — as soon as possible … paid payroll has doubled in size since Oct. 1 … had 54 people on staff then. Now he has more than 100. More than half are … spread across the early states, such as Iowa, where the senator now has four offices; South Carolina, where his presidential campaign plans to open multiple new offices this month; and New Hampshire, where the campaign moved to a bigger space in December to make room for the influx of paid staffers and volunteers … growth is timed to coincide with the elections nearing — Iowa votes Feb. 1 — but it also presents Team Rubio with the hassle of having to orchestrate a headquarters move with only weeks to go before voting begins.
RUBIO DITCHES THRIFT AND FLIES PRIVATE JETS ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY via Shane Goldmacher of POLITICO — After spending most of 2015 bragging about his thriftiness when it came to flying commercial and coach … Rubio quietly has been using a private jet almost exclusively for his campaign travel for nearly two months and plans to continue to do so through the primaries … jet-setting represents a dramatic about-face … As recently as September, Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan bragged that “Marco flies 95 percent commercial, always coach.” In mid-October, only weeks before the campaign would be using a private plane nearly full time, the campaign was still touting its cost-cutting commercial ways as it released its quarterly financial figures, drawing an implicit contrast with Bush, who had spent nearly $1 million on chartered flights that quarter. Now, Rubio is spending an estimated tens of thousands of dollars every day to keep a Cessna Citation Excel plane by his side.
JASON CHAFFETZ WILL ENDORSE RUBIO via Burgess Everett of POLITICO — The Utah Republican, whose national profile is growing, given his role atop the House’s chief investigative committee, plans to campaign with Rubio at a town hall in Concord, New Hampshire, on Friday … “Marco Rubio is a conservative leader who understands the challenges facing American families in the 21st century. I’m looking forward to hitting the campaign trail with Marco to talk about the future of our country and the importance of electing a next-generation conservative in 2016,” Chaffetz said in a statement.
NO REGRETS FROM JEB BUSH ON ‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ LAW via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — A New Hampshire voter interrupted … Bush at a campaign event … bringing up the 2012 shooting death of Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin. The former Florida governor had touted his pro-gun rights record. “To this day we continue to see a dramatic reduction in gun violence,” he said … “Trayvon Martin would disagree,” a woman interjected. “Well, the facts are the facts,” Bush replied. In a follow-up interview … WFOR-CBS 4 asked Bush if he regretted any aspects of the controversial “Stand Your Ground” legislation enacted while he was in office. “I don’t, no … I think it’s a part of a suite of laws that were passed that have reduced gun violence.”
BUSH CARRIES TINY TOY TURTLES IN HIS POCKETS AND GIVES THEM TO CHILDREN via Andy Cush of Gawker — Bush found his spirit animal: a small, presumably inanimate turtle, which he carries around in his pocket and gives to children at campaign stops. Zacharie, 13, looks vaguely upset by his gift. “Slow and steady wins the race,” Bush told the tween upon handing him the tiny Tortuga … “The Tortoise and the Hare” is not even a particularly apt allegory for the Bush campaign, which is foundering despite having plenty of money and the support of the most powerful family in Republican politics.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Bush will attend a town hall in Londonderry, New Hampshire followed by a lunch in Portsmouth and a town hall in Peterborough. Rubio will also be in New Hampshire, with a fundraiser in New York later in the evening.
TRUMP’S LOW-ENERGY CAMPAIGN via Ben Schreckinger of POLITICO — Trump, who once derided Bush for lacking energy, has done fewer campaign swings than any of his top-tier rivals — 100, versus, for example, Bush’s 172 — and while others have only increased the pace, Trump has barely expanded his schedule. Next week, he’ll stage a rare Sunday rally. Like much of Trump’s run, his decision to maintain his leisurely campaign schedule into January is either political malpractice or a game-changing reinvention of the presidential primary process — depending on who you ask. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski pointed out that Trump can get in front of more voters during a single one of his rallies — which often draw thousands — than his rivals can in several stops.
TRUMP QUIETLY BUILDS A DATA JUGGERNAUT via Kenneth Vogel and Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO — Trump‘s “campaign several months ago assembled an experienced data team to build sophisticated models to transform fervor into votes. The team is led by two low-profile former” RNC “data strategists … and includes assistance from the political data outfit L2. … The data push is focused on integrating information Trump has collected, through his campaign website and at voter rallies, on nontraditional or unregistered supporters. It also includes commercial data obtained from the RNC and other sources, in an effort to mobilize voters in key early states.
— “Great warlock of Mexico predicts Trump’s defeat, Chapo’s death” via Nicolás Medina Mora of BuzzFeed News.
TWEET, TWEET: @SaintPetersBlog: @coming to Pensacola, Florida on Jan. 13
CHRIS CHRISTIE ADDS SIX TO HIS LEAN CAMPAIGN STAFF via Philip Rucker of The Washington Post — Christie until now has had one of the smallest campaign teams of the major candidates, with just 34 staffers. But Christie has hired six additional aides, four nationally and two in New Hampshire. … Two of the new hires come from Christie’s governor’s office.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business — from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 325 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget, and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100 percent accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***
NO ENDORSEMENT, BUT RICK SCOTT SAYS DONALD TRUMP HAS FOUND AMERICA’S PULSE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post — Scott drew parallels between the rise of … Trump and his own political course in a bylined column the Florida governor wrote … for USA Today … [Scott] pointed out he was not endorsing Trump — and had no plans to back anyone in the Republican field before Florida’s March primary. But … it is evident that voters are “choosing new ideas and new energy over the old formula of sheer time served in political office … The same thing happened in 2010 when I entered the Florida gubernatorial race against the already anointed and establishment-endorsed sitting Republican attorney general. One establishment member even said to me “how can you be Governor? I don’t know you.” Scott then turns to Trump saying, “there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely.”
TWEET, TWEET: @JacobPerry: If you were wondering whether Rick Scott was running for Senate look no further than today’s wet kiss of Donald Trump.
SCOTT TO LAUNCH $1 MILLION TV AD CAMPAIGN FOR TAX CUTS via The Associated Press — Scott‘s political committee will start airing ads next week in the state’s media markets. The ad buy by Let’s Get to Work is expected to cost more than $1 million. Scott wants state legislators this year to approve $1 billion worth of tax cuts. He is also asking the Florida Legislature to create a $250 million fund to lure businesses to the state. The ad, which features Scott and business owners, says the changes are needed to help diversify the state’s economy.
TWEET, TWEET: @FL_Malave: .@sad to see you think government is a bank! Did you need @ for your donut shop?
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Jamestown Associates — Winning tough campaigns. The record to prove it. Jamestown produces persuasive TV, radio, mail and digital advertising that breaks through the clutter and gets votes. We help our clients in Florida and the nation perfect their message, create powerful ads, micro-target the media buy and WIN. Jamestown’s work has been recognized with 50 Pollie and Reed awards. See our work at www.JamestownAssociates.com***
PATRICK MURPHY REELS IN SUPPORT OF SOUTH FLORIDA MAYORS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, Coconut Creek Mayor Becky Tooley, Coral Springs Mayor Skip Campbell, Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, Wellington Mayor Bob Margolis, and Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell all announced they were backing Murphy.
CORRINE BROWN SERVED WITH FEDERAL SUBPOENA via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — “Yes, she was subpoenaed,” said spokesman David Simon. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said he could provide no further information. “The Justice Department generally neither confirms nor denies whether a matter is under investigation … That would include confirming or denying whether a subpoena has been issued in a particular matter.”
ADAM BARRINGER UNVEILS VOLUSIA COUNTY BACKING FOR CONGRESSIONAL BID via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — Continuing his bid to take … Ron DeSantis’ … place in Congress, the former New Smyrna Beach Mayor … tried to nail down his Volusia County base … announced that Orange City Mayor Tom Laputka, Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk and DeLand Mayor Robert Apgar were behind his bid for the Republican nomination.
BRANDON PATTY, REPUBLICAN AND VETERAN, ANNOUNCES RUN IN CD 6 via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Operation Enduring Freedom veteran … Patty, a St. Augustine resident, announced his intention to run to succeed Ron DeSantis … Citing the need to “to strengthen American leadership abroad and fix a broken federal government here at home,” Patty asserted that CD 6 voters are angry at “the ineffectiveness and incompetence in Washington. Congress has not been functioning; the president pursues ideological goals at the expense of our prosperity and security while our nation’s enemies are on the march.” Patty’s goals: to “restore our military, defeat radical Islamic extremists, defend our rights and values, rein in the executive branch and revive economic growth and prosperity for everyone.”
LOOK FOR BOB POE to make his bid for CD 10 official today.
CONSERVATIVE PASTOR JACK MARTIN LAUNCHES BID FOR RICH NUGENT’S CONGRESSIONAL SEAT via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — Martin kicked off his congressional campaign in Spring Hill and showcased his conservative credentials as he reeled in the support Gun Rights Across America (GRAA) and the United Christians of Florida PAC … Martin stressed his lack of political experience and took aim at the problems in Washington, D.C. “Some said that if we could only take control of the House and Senate we would get our nation back on track … But that hasn’t happened. In fact, things have gotten worse … There is a saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome … And that is what we have done in American politics for years. We continue to elect those who have occupied Washington, D.C. and the halls of Congress for seemingly endless periods of time … Something has to change.”
DARREN SOTO’S CONGRESSIONAL BID WINS ENDORSEMENT OF FIREFIGHTERS UNION via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The International Association of Firefighters has endorsed … Soto in the Democratic nomination race for the Orlando-based Congressional District 9. Soto, whose legislative efforts included successfully pushing for passage of the “John Curry Firefighter Death Benefit Act,” announced … the endorsement from a union that represents over 300,000 firefighters and paramedics nationally. Harold Schaitberger, general president of the IAFF, called Soto a problem solver who is smart in a crisis. “Darren is a leader we can count on to fight for our firefighters and paramedics and stand up for public safety.”
POOR ANNETTE TADDEO via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News — Taddeo may be the darling of Democrats in Congress, but in her own Congressional District 26, she is a pariah. That’s the cruel truth. She plain isn’t well-liked by rank-and-file Democrats. Taddeo is a political three-time loser in tries for county commission, Congress and lieutenant governor. This is a professional candidate we’re talking about here, a candidate desperate to be elected — to any office, anywhere, for any constituency. Voters in CD 26 laugh at that. “I don’t like phonies,” Miami’s Elena Santos [said] in April. “I knew Annette when she chaired the Miami-Dade DEC. She will say or do anything to get ahead in politics.”
JEFF ATWATER, PAM BONDI, ADAM PUTNAM ENDORSE WILTON SIMPSON IN PASCO COUNTY SENATE RACE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times — The announcements … come just one day after state Sen. John Legg and Simpson both announced their intentions to seek re-election in District 10. The support of three of the state’s most popular Republicans would be a huge asset for Simpson, not to mention their combined firepower in raising money for a campaign. It will be tough for Legg to compete.
CHARLIE DEAN, PASCO COUNTY CLERK ENDORSE SIMPSON via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics — Charlie Dean registered his support for Senate colleague Simpson’s bid for the newly-redrawn SD 10 on Wednesday, as did Pasco County Clerk and Comptroller Paula O’Neil. Both cited his experience representing the largely rural region, as well as the considerable legislative influence he would bring to the district.
LINDA STEWART TO RUN FOR STATE SENATE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The former state representative and former Orange County Commissioner … is running for the state Senate in Orlando-based District 13 … [creating] a matchup of former Democratic representatives who were swept from office in the Republican landslide of 2014, including Stewart and former state Rep. Mike Clelland, who announced his candidacy earlier this week. Also running for the Democrats in that race is former Orange County school board member Rick Roach who filed early last year. The district, currently represented by … Senate President Andy Gardiner, has suddenly become very attractive to Democrats because the redistricting ordered last week gives it a far more Democratic-leaning electorate. Gardiner is term-limited out.
JANET CRUZ UNDECIDED ABOUT WHETHER TO RUN FOR NEW SENATE SEAT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — A fresh new Senate district has just been created that a strong Democrat could win — and seemingly everyone in the party now wants her to run for that seat. “If there ever was a time for a Democrat to win that seat it would be now,” Cruz said … “I suspect that with Hillary (Clinton) at the top of the ticket, her get out the vote effort will make the difference.” But Cruz isn’t sure if that’s what she wants to do — even though she’s getting pressure from Democrats not just around Florida, but around the country, telling her it’s her duty to run for the Senate seat and get another Democrat elected into the legislature’s upper chamber in Tallahassee. Dana Young has already declared her candidacy, and she will be formidable … Cruz says that doesn’t intimidate her. “I hear lots of comments about other people … and their fundraising skills but you know, we’re Democrats. We’ve never been afraid of anybody’s money or afraid of what people have in the bank.”
GARY PRICE BOWS OUT OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA STATE SENATE RACE via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — Price announced … he was ending his bid for the [seat] currently held by Sen. Garrett Richter … Price said his young son’s declining health was the chief reason he was getting out of the race. “Due to the mounting stress the campaign was placing on my family and especially on my wife, who is the primary caretaker for our son Garrett, I have decided that in order to continue to put my family first in my life, I must end my candidacy for Florida state Senate … I want to thank my many supporters, whose contributions had placed me in a strong financial position to win the election in August. However, a candidate’s family position has to be stronger than his financial one in order for a campaign to be a complete success.”
JOSE JAVIER RODRIGUEZ CONSIDERING SENATE RUN IN MIAMI via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times — Rodriguez … is weighing a run … against incumbent Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla … Rodriguez confirmed his interest in the seat … after news broke that Sen. Gwen Margolis … plans to move north to run for re-election in a more solidly Democratic district. He has not yet filed for the seat or made a final decision about whether to run, he said, but it’s something he’s putting a lot of thought into and talking to his family about. “When you’re considering it, you’re also sort of preparing for it … This is a unique and fresh opportunity to be able to continue representing these communities but in a different form where hopefully I can have a bigger impact fighting for them.”
SAVE THE DATE: House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran and state Rep. José Oliva are hosting a fundraising reception for state Rep. Paul Renner for his re-election effort in House District 24. Event begins 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11 at the Governors Club, 202 South Adams St. in Tallahassee.
HAPPENING TONIGHT: SARASOTA GOP ELECTION KICKOFF — Both current lawmakers and legislative candidates will be on hand for an election kickoff event, hosted jointly by the Sarasota Republican Club and the Republican Party of Sarasota County. Among those scheduled to appear are Sarasota area legislators such as state Sen. Nancy Detert, Reps. Jim Boyd, Ray Pilon, Greg Steube, Julio Gonzalez; state Sen. Bill Galvano and Senate candidates Doug Holder and Nora Patterson; and House candidate Joe Gruters, who also serves as chair of the Sarasota GOP. Event begins 6 p.m. at the Sarasota Yacht Club, 1100 John Ringling Blvd. In Sarasota.
*** The Edison offers exclusive dining options that are sure to impress your guests. Dine at our Chef’s Table to experience the hustle and bustle in the heart of The Edison’s kitchen and watch the Chef personally prepare your cuisine in this one-of-a-kind dining space. Looking for something a little more intimate? The Edison’s Private Wine Room offers a stunning atmosphere that serves as the perfect backdrop to your next dinner party. Learn more. ***
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen will hold a town-hall meeting at 7:30 a.m. at her district office, 2120 Main Street, Suite 208, in Fort Myers. Fitzenhagen is expected to discuss the upcoming legislative session, which begins Tuesday. The town hall marks the Fort Myers Republican’s first town hall of 2016.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Sadowski Housing Coalition will hold a news conference at the Florida Realtors office beginning 11 a.m. EST to call on the Florida Legislature to appropriate all the housing trust fund monies for housing for FY 2016-17. Florida Realtors office is at 200 South Monroe St. in Tallahassee.
AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY SAYS IT’S READY FOR 2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — AFP Florida has most recently come out against … Scott’s plan to fund Enterprise Florida by replacing the Quick Action Closing Fund, money he can use to lure companies to Florida, with a new $250 million fund as well as change the way incentives deals are approved. That plan also has been met with pushback by some GOP members of the Senate. [State director Chris] Hudson also says there are better ways to reduce the tax burdens on Floridians than what the governor has in store for this year, which includes calling for an additional billion dollars in cuts. “We think there’s some superficial tax cuts … We think it’s nice for families to get a tax holiday, but I don’t think it goes far enough, and I think it’s a bit disingenuous to the taxpayer if they knew how much they could save with broad-based tax reform. I think they’d be much more impressed with a legislative effort to do that.” Regarding how much money AFP will spend in this year’s elections hasn’t been determined. AFP also got involved in politics locally this past year in Hillsborough County. Last month, AFP members were informed to contact county commissioners to oppose an agreement that would send $29 million in taxpayer money for improvements to Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise. That opposition didn’t work, however. The board voted 6-1 to support the proposal.
JEFF BRANDES CRACKING DOWN ON SPECIALTY AUTO TAGS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Now, groups in Florida that propose a new specialty plate must “presell” 1,000 of them in a two-year period before they will be manufactured. Brandes’ measure would increase that number to 4,000 plates. If the goal isn’t met, the proposed specialty plate “is deauthorized.” His bill would also discontinue any existing specialty plate that falls below 4,000 issued in a period of 12 consecutive months. That number is now 1,000. Lawmakers imposed an unofficial moratorium on new tags in 2008 — and have been regularly ignoring it since. In 2013, more than 137,000 specialty tags were sold and 1.2 million were renewed, creating revenue of nearly $34 million, according to the department.
SHAWN HARRISON FILES “VAPING” BAN BILL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — “Vaping” is the nickname for using an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, which produces an inhaled vapor of nicotine solution. The measure would amend the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act, first enacted in 1985, to include “inhaling, exhaling, carrying, or possessing a nicotine dispensing device” in the definition of “smoking.” Harrison’s bill does not yet have a Senate companion.
FLA. INSURANCE COMMISSIONER KEVIN MCCARTY TO SEEK NAIC’S TOP JOB via Adam Cancryn and Elizabeth Festa of SNL.com — McCarty is vying to become the next head of the NAIC [National Association of Insurance Commissioners] … McCarty spent recent weeks discussing his potential candidacy with several other insurance commissioners, a source familiar with his activities said, and is now confident that he has enough support for a serious run at leading the NAIC. “He has talked with some of his counterparts in other states, and he thinks he has a good chance of being CEO … He could serve well for the NAIC as CEO, and he is very interested in that position.” McCarty is not yet an official candidate to take over as the head of the NAIC, nor is he a shoo-in for the position.
HAPPENING TODAY: FLORIDA GAMING SUMMIT — The Florida Gaming Congress meets in Orlando to discuss the state’s gambling industry. Featured speakers include Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano. Meeting starts 8:30 a.m. at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Blvd. in Orlando.
RECORDING: WOMAN LAY IN PARKING LOT 18 MINUTES, LATER DIED via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press — A woman who collapsed and later died after being forcibly removed from a Florida hospital lay in the parking lot beside a police officer’s car for nearly 18 minutes before a doctor readmitted her, according to police dash-cam audio and video … Attorneys for the family of Barbara Dawson renewed their charges of negligence against Liberty Calhoun Hospital and Blountstown Police as multiple state agencies continue their investigation into Dawson’s Dec. 21 death. “We have heard that time and time again how everyone was acting with due speed to assist her. Now that we have that tape we know that is not true,” attorney Darryl Parks said. “We think what they did was put criminality over health care. We think what they did here was compromise public safety by failing to give her the medical attention that she deserved and needed,” said state Rep. Darryl Rouson … who is a co-counsel for Dawson’s family.
***A special message from Florida’s horsemen: While legislators debate using hard-earned taxpayer dollars for corporate relocation incentives, Florida employers who’ve been hard at work for decades could lose everything, thanks to “decoupling”— a Big Casino cash grab and gambling expansion plan tucked inside the Seminole Compact. It seems senseless to kill established Florida businesses, while spending public money in hopes new business may materialize. But Florida could do just that when “decoupling” leaves horse racing investors with NO WAY to do business and NO CHANCE to recoup financial return. Gambling policy should be about growing Florida’s economy. Not padding the pockets of Big Casinos. Florida’s horsemen oppose decoupling in ANY form. NoDecoupling.com.***
CONGRATULATIONS to Southern Strategy Group’s Sarrah Carroll and David Glassner who were married in a beautiful beach-side ceremony on New Year’s Eve 2015 in Grayton Beach.
MERRY CHRISTMAS belatedly to the 20,000 Floridians of Armenian descent. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6th. Shnorhavor Nor Dari yev Soorp Dznount.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our Context Florida contributor Diane Roberts and digital mastermind Jonny Torres.