Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – July 13

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

REDISTRICTING: THE AFTERMATH

5 BIG QUESTIONS (among dozens) IN THE WAKE OF THE COURT’S DECISION

1. Will the Legislature appeal the decision?

USFSP political science emeritus professor Darryl Paulson says the Legislature should appeal.

“The Voting Rights Act was passed to expand majority-minority districts and then to preserve and protect them,” says Paulson. “Now you have the Florida Supreme Court challenging four of the majority-minority districts that exist in the state of Florida, which to me seems a blatantly unwise policy.”

“This to me is just a very bad decision on the part of the court,” contends. “I understand the rationale of people wanted them to do what they passed that constitutional amendment (the Florida Fair District amendments in 2010). But I am adamantly opposed to African-Americans and Hispanics having to face the brunt of this, and (are) likely in the greatest jeopardy of losing their seats after holding those seats for such a short amount of time.”

Paulson thinks that Corrine Brown would have grounds to challenge the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling for violating the Voting Rights Act.

2. What’s the timetable for the Legislature to redraw the lines?

The Florida Supreme Court provided the Legislature with 100 days to submit a new map. Normally, that would be enough time to resolve the numerous issues at hand, but, remember, the House and Senate are slated to start committee meetings in the middle of the September. One would assume lawmakers would like to have a new map in the can before then. To accomplish that, they’d need to get started … yesterday.

3. Who is driving the redistricting train?

It’s almost difficult to believe Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran could become more powerful, but now that he, as the Chair of the Select Committee on Redistricting, has the fate of dozens of Florida politicians in his hands, Corcoran is arguably the most powerful pol in Florida not named Rick Scott. Likewise, Bill Galvano, Corcoran’s counterpart in the Senate, is a force to be reckoned with. There is even the suggestion that he is the de facto Senate President Designate.

4. If the congressional maps are unconstitutional, what does that say about the state Senate district maps?

Need proof that the state Senate maps are as obsolete as your MySpace account? Then look no further than Jack Latvala‘s decision to file for re-election in 2016. Think about that: Latvala believes so much that the maps will be tossed that he has filed to run for a seat not actually up for election in 2016 based on a court ruling that has yet to be written in a case that has not been heard.

Comparing the congressional map to the state Senate map is not exactly apples to apples, but when the Florida Supreme Court says it has problems with congressional districts jumping bodies of water, one can assume it will think the same way about the state Senate map.

5. Does the redistricting ruling impact the race for Senate President? 

Imagine the race for Senate President between Latvala and Joe Negron as a game of Monopoly, one in which Latvala is essentially losing because Negron owns the railroads, Boardwalk, Park Place and Marvin Gardens. How does Latvala turn this around? Sure he can roll double sixes again and again and run the table during the next round of state Senate primaries OR he can throw the board in the air and force everyone else to scramble over the thimble. That’s what the redistricting ruling has basically done.

LEGISLATORS REMAIN SILENT ABOUT REDISTRICTING PLANS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

(L)egal scholars and redistricting experts said legislators have limited options and, with the Supreme Court giving them only 100 days and employing the unusual move of retaining jurisdiction over the case to ensure that the process moves quickly, the legislators are under the gun to make some decisions fast.

“Whatever procedure the state Legislature is going to adopt, they need to do it right now,” said Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida who has been a redistricting consultant in 14 states.

“They have to justify how the map was formed and it has to be very transparent. One hundred days is a very tight deadline to do all of that and get a new map.”

While Republican legislative leaders may be under some pressure to try to fight the ruling — in an attempt to retain the existing districts for another cycle and help Republicans hold on to the U.S. House — the prospects for litigation also are limited, the experts said.

They could petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, said Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor and an expert on redistricting law.

But the Florida Supreme Court “was very careful in analyzing not only the Florida state Constitution but also the very recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the elections clause,” he said. “I don’t think there is any merit to seeking federal review, but, if it was attempted, there is no reason for the Florida Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court to press pause in the meantime.”

FLORIDA’S DUELING JUSTICES via Lloyd Dunkelberger for Halifax Media

(Charles) Canady was … forceful in his criticism of the majority opinion written by (Barbara) Pariente that is directing law-makers to redraw the state’s congressional districts while offering specific guidelines on how the new districts should be shaped.

“This decision causes serious damage to our constitutional structure,” Canady wrote. “The proper functioning of the judicial process is deformed and the separation of powers is breached in an unprecedented manner.”

In her opinion, Pariente called Canady’s criticism “extravagant.”

“The barrage of epithets employed by the dissent includes the following colorful array: ‘fallacious,’ ‘fabricated,’ ‘extreme distortion,’ ‘revolutionary deformation,’ ‘teeming with judicial overreaching,’ ‘creatively cobbled,’ ‘aggressive invasion,’ ‘aberrant decision,’ and ‘unprecedented incursions,’” Pariente wrote.

“Perhaps we should take solace in not being accused of ‘jiggery-pokery,’” Pariente added in a footnote.

MAPS! MAPS! MAPS! detailing the possible changes to Congressional Districts 2, 10, 13, 14, 26 and 27 here.

HOW THE REDISTRICTING RULING IS PLAYING

SlateFlorida Supreme Court Rejects Republican Gerrymandering, Orders New Redistricting – “ … ruled that the legislature intentionally drew the map to favor GOP incumbents and disadvantage Democrats … Republican legislators coordinated with consultants in order to draw more Republican-leaning districts.” New York TimesFlorida court finds politics determined district lines – “Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida State League of Women Voters said … ‘we had no idea of the nontransparent and shameful behavior of our legislators …This was the fox guarding the henhouse.’” Tampa TribuneSupreme Court redistricting ruling a smackdown for hyper-partisan Legislature – “ … a feeling of invulnerability and an arrogance that infects the process … isn’t too different from what happened this year with Amendment 1 … many of them are safely ensconced in political districts … That’s why drawing fair district boundaries matter …” National JournalFlorida Supreme Court … orders battleground districts redrawn – “ … illustrates the tension between Voting Rights Act requirements meant to protect minorities’ electoral influence and gerrymandering laws that prevent minorities from being packed into a single district.” Orlando WeeklyFlorida Supreme Court rejects gerrymandered congressional districts – “Orlando will directly be affected by the redrawing of Corrine Brown’s district … extends from Jacksonville to Orlando.” Washington PostOne of America’s weirdest congressional districts has just been trashed by the Florida Supreme Court – “Welcome to Florida, where the tentacles of gerrymandering are as tightly coiled around the statehouse as an invasive Burmese python.” Tampa Bay TimesRep. Corrine Brown calls redistricting ruling ‘seriously flawed’ – “Super strong statement … decision … seriously flawed and entirely fails to take into consideration the rights of minority voters.” Miami HeraldThe political fallout of Florida’s redistricting decision – “… ordering that the state’s congressional map be redrawn doesn’t guarantee the Democrats’ wishes will come true.”

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WHO IS IN? WHO’S OUT?

WILL CRIST RUN? PINELLAS POLITICOS WANT TO KNOW via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times

Will he or won’t he?

Pinellas County’s political class was gripped with that question … as speculation swirled that former governor and hometown favorite son Charlie Crist would enter a suddenly wide-open 13th Congressional District Democratic primary.

A day after the Florida Supreme Court shredded the state’s congressional maps, directing state lawmakers to redraw the boundaries of Pinellas County’s own 13th district and seven others statewide, Crist might just have found the reset button for his political career.

After a bruising loss to … Scott last year, which followed a defeat for a Senate seat at the hands of Marco Rubio in 2010, Crist supporters say he couldn’t have conjured a better political redemption than a congressional district redrawn to include his downtown St. Petersburg condo. If lawmakers lump in a huge chunk of overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhoods on the city’s south side, it would be too much to resist, politicos said … Those neighborhoods provided many of the votes that gave Crist his 52-41 percent victory over Scott in Pinellas.

Crist didn’t give much away … but did tell the Tampa Bay Times that he was getting plenty of advice.

REST ASSURED, FLORIDA, CHARLIE CRIST IS RUNNING via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

Certainly the court’s decision Thursday pitches the District 13 seat straight down the middle for Charlie.  It’s an 83-mile-per-hour batting-practice fast ball right in Charlie’s wheelhouse, unless the Legislature can come up with a palatable answer.

…The court’s majority opinion was that Congressman David Jolly‘s District 13 and Congresswoman Kathy Castor’s District 14 must be redrawn to avoid crossing Tampa Bay. It looks right now as if District 13 is going to get the whole of blue St. Petersburg. And St. Pete is Charlie’s hometown. He lives there, he’s comfortable there, he’s a household word there.

… Charlie wants to go to Washington. He and Carole have wanted that for a very long time. Now Washington presents itself — and a stepping stone at that. From the House, he can run for Bill Nelson’s Senate seat if Nelson passes on a fourth term. Or, he can stay in the House as long as he wants and lackey his way up the ladder, depending on who wins the White House.

But there’s one thing Charlie shouldn’t do.

He shouldn’t underestimate the GOP.

… He shouldn’t expect the Republicans to sit on their hands as this redraft goes down. Mark my words, they’re already plotting a strategy to snatch victory in 13. They have money — a lot of it — and they play to win.

SUSANNAH RANDOLPH, DISTRICT DIRECTOR TO GRAYSON, BIDS TO SUCCEED HIM via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

Randolph, a seasoned progressive operative and aide to Rep. Alan Grayson, has filed to run for the congressman’s seat now that he’s campaigning for Senate.

Showing she’ll have the financial backers to be a potential early frontrunner, Randolph made her announcement Sunday by releasing a list of major Orlando-area backers who will headline an Aug. 12 fundraiser: financier Richard Swann (father-in-law of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe); former Rep. Patricia Schroeder (the first woman ever elected to Congress in Colorado); John Morgan (a mega-Democratic donor) and Ed Haddock (an Obama for America national finance committee member), among others.

Randolph, 41, also has deep grassroots ties to Florida’s 9th Congressional District. She is Grayson’s district director, leading his constituent services and a liaison with local governments on his behalf. Randolph’s husband is Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, whose former state legislative district lies completely within the Democratic-leaning congressional district as well.

>>>Must-read analysis of the CD 9 race via Frank Torres of Orlando-Politics.com

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THE SMARTEST THING I READ THIS WEEKEND – THE END OF THE 2016 ELECTION IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK via Doug Sosnik in POLITICO Magazine

The End of the 2016 Election Is Closer Than You Think: The campaign might be lost even before the GOP picks a nominee”: “We like to think that presidential elections are dramatic fall campaigns pitting party against party, but the truth is that the most decisive moments often occur long before the general election kicks off. If history is any guide, the outcome of next year’s presidential campaign will likely be determined before the Republican Party has even selected their nominee. That … means that the longer and more divisive the Republican primary, the less likely the party will be to win back the White House in 2016.

In eight out of the last nine … elections these decisive periods of time can all be traced back to the run up to the general election-not the fall campaign. With the exception of the 2000 election-which was an outlier on every front-voters locked in their attitudes … prior to the start of the general election. Once voters’ views solidified, subsequent campaign events or activities simply served to reinforce their initial perceptions about the candidate and party best prepared to lead the country.

(T)he job approval ratings of the incumbent president, regardless of whether they are running for reelection, serve as a proxy for the electorate’s mood and have historically been the most accurate predictor of election outcomes. And the public’s view of the state of the economy and its expectations for the future are the strongest drivers of the job approval ratings of the sitting president. … Obama’s … job approval ratings have remained quite durable and have stayed within a narrow band since the summer of 2009, with a high of 53 percent and a low of 40 percent.

Working off of this thin marginhow and when the Republican nomination fight is settled is likely to determine their chances of winning the presidency next year. The longer it takes Republicans to unite behind a common agenda and a nominee, the more likely that Democrats will be able-for the first time since 1940-to hold the White House for 12 consecutive years.

JEB BUSH, DONALD TRUMP IN VIRTUAL DEAT HEAT via Will Dunham of Reuters

Trump … has vaulted into a virtual dead heat with Jeb Bush atop the field, a Reuters-Ipsos poll released on Saturday showed.

Trump …had the support of 15.8 percent of respondents in the online poll of self-identified Republicans compared to 16.1 percent for Bush … They were followed by … Chris Christie at 9.5 percent, … Rand Paul at 8.1 percent … Ben Carson at 7.2 percent and … Scott Walker at 5.8 percent.

However, given a choice of three candidates – Bush, Trump or Rubio – Bush had a comfortable lead at 42 percent among the respondents in the Reuters-Ipsos Republican poll, compared to 28.4 percent for Trump and 20 percent for Rubio.

JEB VS. HILLARY HAS ALREADY BEGUN via Amber Phillips of the Washington Post

Judging by the back and forth between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton in recent days, both are already gearing up for a Bush/Clinton rematch next year … two front-runners in their respective parties (Clinton very much so, Bush considerably less so) have started launching attacks against one another over immigration, jobs and the other person’s ability to lead. You know: General election stuff.

Campaign Playbook 101 is to get through your party’s primary first before moving onto your general election opponent. But Bush and Clinton seem to be happy to skip ahead to the main event. Maybe Bush wants to help establish himself as the anti-Hillary front-runner in a crowded field that’s proved surprisingly difficult to jump ahead of. Maybe Clinton wants to knock Bush down a few pegs in hopes that she faces someone else.

Either way, we’ve chronicled here the beginning of what could be a long primary season — of Bush and Clinton going at each other.

A day after Bush made his candidacy official last month, he flew to New Hampshire and made sure to attack Clinton’s record in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“As a senator, I think she’s passed — she has her name on three laws in eight years,” he said, referring to bills Clinton sponsored. “I honestly don’t know what her successes are.”

The line became a tweet and the focus of a post on his Web site.

This is an obvious attack line for Bush to use in the general election. But he’s started early with a post on his Web site titled “Getting out of the Zombie Economy:”

Now comes Hillary Clinton, and her economic agenda could be summarized easily: Whatever Obama is doing, let’s double down on it.”

JEB TO DONORS: YOU’RE NOT DONE via Eli Stokols and Anna Palmer of POLITICO

Less than 24 hours after Jeb Bush revealed an unprecedented war chest, he and his top campaign staffers gathered donors at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, to let them know that $114 million is not enough.

According to sources who attended two days of meetings at the Bush family’s picturesque seaside compound, the Bush team outlined a number of ambitious new incentives for donors including one called “Eight for Eight,” tasking major bundlers with signing up eight new supporters to make a maximum $2,700 contribution by Aug. 8.

… The next gathering of Bush donors is likely to take place just days before the first GOP primary debate, scheduled for Aug. 6 in Cleveland; and the group is planning another get-together in Miami, where the campaign is headquartered, in the fall.

MARCO RUBIO FOCUSES ON CUBAN IMMIGRANT UPBRINING IN VEGAS TALKS via The Associated Press

Rubio … told the Libertarian FreedomFest audience on Friday how his parents made their way from Cuba to Las Vegas, where they found jobs in the casinos. Rubio says his parents embody the American dream.

Rubio told several hundred voters in a suburban retirement community on Saturday that as president he would make the U.S. the single greatest military superpower by competing with other nations that are investing billions in new military technology. He also promised to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Rubio also repeated his stance that Yucca Mountain in Nevada is currently the only option for storing the country’s nuclear waste.

— “With no clear base of support, Rubio gambles on a broad approach” via Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post

CAPUTO DOES THE MARCO MONEY MATH via Florida Playbook: “Rubio’s presidential campaign reported raising $12 million through the end of June … Rubio’s total financial support weighs in at $44 million.”

HAPPENING TODAY: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday jumps into a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates that already includes more than a half dozen current and former governors. Walker, 47, hopes to set himself apart as a Harley-riding, average American anchored by Midwest values who is a proven fighter and winner.

ALSO HAPPENING TODAYHillary Clinton intends to lay out the themes of her economic plan in a speech on Monday, emphasizing the need for the real income of everyday Americans to rise steadily alongside corporate profits and executive compensation.

WHICH PATRICK MURPHY WILL SHOW UP IN RACE AGAINST ALAN GRAYSON: PROGRESSIVE OR MODERATE? via Isadora Rangel of TCPalm

Touting his bipartisanship is a strategy that so far has worked well for Murphy, a Republican-turned-Democrat who’s won twice in the GOP-leaning but independent-voting congressional District 18.

The question is, which Patrick Murphy will show up on the campaign trail — the progressive or the moderate — now that outspoken liberal U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson will give him his first serious primary challenge since 2012.

Murphy is progressive on social issues such as abortion, immigration and gay marriage, but Grayson — an aggressive campaigner known for equating his 2010 Republican opponent’s religious beliefs to the Taliban — is likely to attack his conservative House votes on things like post-recession Wall Street regulations, Affordable Care Act changes and the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline passage.

Murphy will have to answer for his Republican-siding votes in what’s expected to be a vicious and expensive primary, and he might feel the pressure to tout more populist stances on issues such as Social Security.

“Having a competitive primary could impact Murphy’s message,” said Nathan Gonzales, publisher and editor of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report, a D.C. newsletter that analyzes elections. “If Grayson is a credible threat or even starts ahead in the race, I think any campaign will make adjustments as necessary.”

SCOTT MAXWELL COLUMN: GRAYSON SENATE RUN: BAD FOR DEMOCRATS AND FOR HIM via the Orlando Sentinel

Grayson is smart and courageous.

He has the rare ability to inspire citizens to act. And he is on the right side of many important issues.

But he is also loud, obnoxious and generally off-putting.

He is so frequently so over-the-top hyperbolic in his grandstanding and name-calling that he is often wrong on the facts.

And he has personal baggage — and now serious ethics questions to boot.

Basically, he is his own worst enemy.

Which is why his campaign for the U.S. Senate will probably hurt Democrats — and possibly lead to his downfall.

… Trial lawyer John Morgan, who has backed Grayson in the past, believes his Senate campaign will be a disaster, with Grayson’s extremist statements tarring Democrats up and down the ticket.

Grayson responded by suggesting Morgan — his longtime friend and financial backer — drinks too much Scotch too early in the morning.

That’s Grayson in a nutshell. “His real issue is that he has a white-hot blind rage,” Morgan said. “And that white-hot blind rage will be his undoing.”

OPPO DUMP — GRAYSON STAFFER NAMED AS DIRECTOR ON TWO OF HIS CAYMAN ISLAND HEDGE FUNDS via Peter Schorsch and Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Carla Coleman, a staffer in Alan Grayson’s congressional office, is also listed as a director of the U.S. Senate candidate’s controversial Cayman Island hedge funds. Coleman, who has worked for the Orlando Democrat since 2013, is listed on the most recent SEC filings as holding positions in two hedge funds doing business in Cayman Islands and under scrutiny for possible ethics violations.

One SEC filing, dated Nov. 24, 2014, lists both Coleman and Grayson as directors of Grayson Fund (Cayman) Ltd. A second filing on Nov. 24 lists the two as executive officers of the Grayson Master Fund (Cayman) LP.

Ken Scudder, communications director for Grayson, said Coleman works part-time for the hedge funds outside of her office duties: “Ms. Coleman has a part-time position with the Fund and is paid by the Fund … This job is completely separate from her responsibilities in Rep. Grayson’s Washington, D.C., congressional office.”

“It’s not correct to say that she has ‘administrative duties for Rep. Grayson’s hedge funds while working out of the Washington, D.C., office,’” Scudder noted. “Her administrative duties for the hedge fund are not performed in the congressional office, and she does not use any congressional office resources when performing those duties. She is not ‘senior staff’ under the Ethics Reform Act, and therefore she is allowed to do any outside work.”

But … congressional staffers do not need to be senior staff to be prevented from certain outside jobs, according to Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust Executive Director Matthew Whitaker.

Staff members “should not undertake any outside employment that would involve the member personally in the selling or endorsement of any goods or services,” Whitaker said. Staff (not just senior staff) is limited on employment, either for selling products and endorsement of services.

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FLORIDA TEA PARTY GROUPS SPLIT OVER SUPPORT OF SOLAR ENERGY AMENDMENT via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

A prominent Florida Tea Party chapter has split with the self-styled Tea Party Network of Florida, a result of the widening rift over a proposed solar power amendment to the state constitution in 2016.

The Villages Tea Party has put “on notice” those who believe Tea Party groups in Florida support the “solar power industry monopoly rights to sell electricity to consumers from on-site electricity generation equipment.” The Tea Party Network is a statewide alliance covering nine regions to promote communication between like-minded conservative groups.

One debate, hosted by Tampa 912 Project, featured FSC chair Tory Perfetti and James Taylor, Heartland Institute vice president of external relations. Afterward, a unanimous vote by the Tampa 912 Project board of directors opposed the amendment. The Villages Tea Party hosted a debate between Taylor and Libertarian Party of Florida representative Alexander Snitker. Audience members polled after the event also opposed the amendment 70-1.

During the Villages debate, however, Taylor presented a National Public Radio interview transcript with Tea Party Network of Florida president Catherine Baer, a supporter of the solar amendment, claiming she has backing of over 80 Florida Tea Party groups – including that from both The Villages Tea Party and the Tampa 912 Project.

Burnett writes that Villages Tea Party president Aileen Milton, outraged by Baer’s allegations, demanded in an email to “Please remove The Villages Tea Party’s name from your member groups. Immediately.”

Milton stressed that The Villages Tea Party never permitted The Tea Party Network to use its name in promoting substantive issues to member groups. Milton said The Villages Tea Party only allowed the so-called Tea Party Network to link to its web page and use its name on a directory of Florida Tea Party groups.

FLORIDA GOP RAISES $1.9 MILLION DURING SECOND QUARTER via Matt Dixon of POLITICO

In its first full fundraising quarter under new chairman Blaise Ingoglia, the Republican Party of Florida raised $1.9 million and now has about $2 million cash on hand, according to party officials.

… Over that same time, the party spent $3.1 million, of which $1.3 million went to boost the campaign of newly-elected Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a former chairman of the state GOP. That prominent race was a statewide slugfest that saw Curry oust incumbent Democratic mayor Alvin Brown.

… the bulk of the $1.9 million figure represents money raised by incoming House Speaker Richard Corcroan of Land O’Lakes for Republican House races.

… The outside committee now raising money for Senate races brought in $591,000 last quarter, of which $250,000 came from a political committee controlled by Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano of Bradenton. He is the top elected official in charge of raising money for 2016 Republican state Senate campaigns.

WHO ARE THE TOP FUNDRAISERS IN THE FLORIDA SENATE AND HOUSE? with a special assist from On 3 Public Relations 

Top Cash-on-Hand Senate Candidates:

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-1) – $432,681

Sen. Rob Bradley (R-7) – $291,716

Jim Waldman (D-29) – $289,184

Rep. Matt Hudson (R-23) – $226,288

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-37) – $189,393

Top Cash-on-Hand House Candidates:

Randy Fine (R-53) – $151,869.72

Robert Wyatt (R-72) – $149,786.08

Ralph Massullo (R-34) – $134,171.29

Rep. Richard Corcoran (R-37) – $122,802.41

Rep. Jose Oliva (R-110)- $120,207.75

— “Slow fundraising month for Florida Legislature seats” via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald Tribune

BOB BUCKHORN GETS $$$ FROM RED LIGHT CAM COMPANY via Noah Pransky of WTSP

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, one of Florida’s leading red light camera supporters, is getting a big campaign boost from the state’s leading red light camera providers … American Traffic Solutions (ATS) gave $10,000 in late June to the Buckhorn-affiliated “One Florida” political action committee.

Buckhorn’s former aide, Siobhan Harley, formed the PAC at the end of 2014. And while Buckhorn cruised to re-election in April 2015, the mayor could use the PAC money to launch a statewide campaign. He has been widely-rumored as a 2018 gubernatorial candidate and a recent appearance in Tallahassee only stoked the speculation.

An ATS spokesman told 10 Investigates the company supports politicians who support its programs. That included several smaller donations to Buckhorn over the years.

CERTAIN OF A STATE SENATE WIN, LAUREN BOOK BUYS CONDO IN TALLY via Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com

How certain is lobbyist Ron Book that his daughter is going to win a Broward County-based state Senate seat? Certain enough to buy her new digs in Tallahassee, more than a year before the Democratic primary.

Book and his daughter bought a condominium a short walk from the Capitol building in May, paying $260,000. They got a deal.  The unit in the Plaza Condominium sold for $419,800 new in 2009.

Ms. Book, who has a nationwide organization Lauren’s Kids that teaches ways to combat and cope with child abuse, added another $70,000 in June to her political committee Leadership for Broward. She now has collected a stunning $639,950, with the biggest contributor being $100,000 from the Miami Dolphins, a long-time lobbying clients of her Dad.

She is running for the Hollywood-based Democratic-leaning House District 33.  It will be open next year because state Sen. Eleanor Sobel … is term limited. Ms. Book has not opened a campaign account. Currently no serious candidate is considering challenging her for the seat, according to numerous sources in Broward’s political community.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY 

>>>In HD 51, Tom Goodson was endorsed by Speaker Steve Crisafulli. “Tom has distinguished himself as a conservative and jobs leader during his service in the Florida House,” said Crisafulli. “I can say without hesitation that Tom Goodson is well-suited to represent the communities of House District 51 that I have been so honored to serve.”

THE CONFEDERATE FLAG IS NO LONGER FLYING AT THE SOUTH CAROLINA STATEHOUSE, BUT…

… REBEL FLAG FLYING AGAIN AT COUNTY COMPLEX AFTER PROTESTER REMOVED IT via the Ocala Star Banner

The Confederate flag went back up in front of the McPherson Governmental Complex on Saturday afternoon, hours after a protester apparently had removed the flag and most of the pole supporting it.

With the flag hoisted anew, a small group held Confederate flags that they waved at passers-by.

… Earlier this week, citing historical accuracy, the Marion County Commission returned the flag to a display that also includes the flags of the United States, Great Britain, France and Spain — the powers that have ruled Florida. The Confederacy ruled Florida between 1861 and 1865.

— “Confederate flag fans come together in western Palm Beach County rally” via Alexandra Seltzer of the Palm Beach Post

— “Hundreds gather in Loxahatchee to support Confederate flag” via Lauren Hills of CBS12 News

WHAT ADAM PUTNAM IS READING — FINAL CITRUS CROP REPORT OF SEASON RELEASED via the Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released bleak numbers on Florida’s citrus crop for the 2014-2015 season, reporting a decline in the orange harvest of more than 60 percent since the peak of production.

The report … says the statistics are a “new low” for Florida citrus.

The USDA’s report of 96.7 million boxes of oranges is down from the 104 million boxes produced last year. A box weighs 90 pounds.

This represents a decline of more than 60 percent since the peak of citrus production during the 1997-98 season.

WHAT STEVE CRISAFULLI IS READING — HARRIS CORP. WILL KEEP HQ IN MELBOURNE via Wayne Price of Florida Today

Harris Corp. announced Friday that it will keep its headquarters in Melbourne, a relief to state and local officials who lobbied hard to keep the Fortune 500 company’s base here after its recent acquisition of McLean, Virginia-based Exelis Inc.

Harris is one of Brevard County’s largest employers and has approximately $8 billion in annual revenue and about 23,000 employees — including 9,000 engineers and scientists.

The announcement means about 400 corporate employees will continue to be based on the Space Coast. The headquarters has been here since 1978. Harris, much larger after its acquisition of Exelis, also announced where it basing its business segments and two of them will be in Palm Bay.

MY TAKE: IS BILL GALVANO THE DE FACTO SENATE PRESIDENT DESIGNATE Full blog post here

With Jack Latvala and Joe Negron deadlocked, isn’t Galvano — already slated to be Senate president in 2018-20 — the de facto Senate president designate? That’s what some in Tallahassee are suggesting. In fact, some are even suggesting that the Republican caucus bypass both Latvala and Negron and just move up Galvano’s presidency by a term.

Galvano is already the majority leader. As Matt Dixon of POLITICO recently reported, the current Senate President Andy Gardiner put Galvano in charge of overseeing the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which raises campaign cash and coordinates Republican state Senate campaigns, heading into the 2016 cycle.

Moreover, as Gary Fineout of The Associated Press reported, Galvano just had his own political committee — Innovate Florida –– hand over a $250,000 check to the Senate committee on June 24.

Galvano’s donation is “apparently aimed at stemming anxiety that donors may have that the tug-of-war between Latvala and Negron would have on the overall effort to help Senate incumbents during an upcoming presidential year,” Fineout notes.

To recap, Galvano is already the majority leader. He’s already in charge of Senate campaigns. He’s already helping to bankroll the Senate campaign operation.

You know what kind of senator does that? That’s right, the Senate president designate.

FOUNDATION FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE RELEASES 2015 EDUCATION REPORT CARD via Peter Schorsch and Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

The Foundation for Florida’s Future released Florida’s 2015 Education Report Card, grading Florida legislators on each one’s progress in improving the quality of education in the Sunshine State.

Making the Honor Roll for the Senate with “A+” grades (over 100 percent) were President Andy Gardiner, the Orlando Republican (with an exact 100), as well as Republicans Lizbeth Benacquisto of Ft. Meyers (106), Don Gaetz of Niceville (110), John Legg of Lutz (115) and Kelli Stargel from Lakeland (the top overall score with 111).

State Sen. Jeremy Ring of Margate was the only Democrat on the list of “A” grade lawmakers – in either the Senate or House – with a 102. One Republican senator received less than an “A” – Thad Altman (89), representing Brevard and Indian River Counties.

The sole “F” grade in the Senate went to Democrat Dwight Bullard, who represents Hendry and Monroe Counties and parts of Collier and Miami-Dade. He was given a 57.

For the House, earning spots on the Honor Roll – all Republicans – are Speaker Steve Crisafulli from Merritt Island (100), Miami’s Michael Bileca (112) and Erik Fresen (100), Richard Corcoran from Land O’Lakes (100), freshman Robert “Bob” Cortes of Altamonte Springs (108), Manny Diaz, Jr. from Hialeah (108). In all, 75 House members received “A” grades or above — also all Republicans.

The worst performing House Republicans were Ray Pilon of Sarasota and Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights, who each received a score of 85, earning them a “B.” Best performing Democrat was Tallahassee’s Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda, also with a “B” grade of 85.

The honor for the Foundation’s worst overall performance was Democratic state Rep. Barbara Watson, who represents Miami Gardens. She received a 22, for an “F” grade.

FLORIDIANS PURSES PINCHED AS LAWMAKERS TOUT TAX CUTS via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

Gov. Scott and lawmakers for both parties are touting cable and phone tax cuts signed into law last month, but many Floridians will likely see those savings eaten up by higher costs for a variety of everyday expenses next year.

It will cost slightly more to drive Florida’s Turnpike. The state’s top insurance companies are seeking rate hikes for health and property coverage. … Higher contributions to education funding required by the state will put pressure on county governments’ finances.

… Scott pushed for a $673 million tax cut this year, but lawmakers passed $400 million in cuts, mostly through a slight reduction in cable, satellite-TV and phone service taxes. A consumer spending about $100 per month will save about $21 during a year.

When asked about higher tolls, insurance and utility rates, Scott again touted his tax-cutting efforts and his ability to hold college tuition level for the second straight year. He blamed the federal health-care law for higher health-insurance rates.

FLORIDA’S SLASHING OF ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES FUNDING ANGERS MANY via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

The AWD program’s $10 million in state funding has been slashed to $750,000 in the $78.2 billion state budget that took effect July 1.

For many in the program, the reduction is especially stunning because the Florida Senate drove it.

Senate President Andy Gardiner is the father of a young son with Down syndrome. And during the spring session, he had his chamber develop legislation meant to enhance the lives of Floridians with what he calls unique abilities.

But Sen. Don Gaetz a former Senate president and top Gardiner lieutenant, questioned how well the Adults with Disabilities program was serving clients’ needs.

Gaetz and Gardiner say it has been hard to gauge whether the dollars have been spent appropriately across Florida.

Gardiner spokeswoman Katie Betta said, “He does not want these children and adults to slip through the cracks of a system that has not been held accountable for its performance.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a bill signing ceremony for Senate Bill 642, the Florida Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. Scott will also highlight funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in the 2015-2016 Budget. Ceremony begins 12:45 p.m. at the Marian Center, 15701 N.W. 37 Avenue in Miami Gardens.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Michael Corcoran, Michael Cantens, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Centerstone of Florida, Inc., Miami Children’s Health System

Sylvester Lukis, Ballard Partners: Colonial Management Group, LP

Gregory Halle: Broward College

David Shepp, Southern Strategy Group: Polk Museum of Art

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Allergan

ZAC ANDERSON THE NEW POLITICAL EDITOR AT THE SARASOTA HERALD-TIRBUNE

“Herald-Tribune readers lost a great source of quality political journalism when Jeremy moved on. Nobody can replace him, but I have been entrusted with filling the void left by his departure.”

>>>Follow Anderson at @ZacJAnderson

CONTEXT FLORIDA: ‘GOOD’ REPORT BAD NEWS, CONFEDERATE CHRISTMAS AND NEEDLE-EXCHANGE

On Context Florida:  When is a “good” job growth report bad news, asks Dan Tilson. When it’s about Florida, and serves both to burnish Gov. Rick Scott’s ginned-up “job creator” status, and further the creation of a new socioeconomic order in the state. The ADP Research Institute June report places Florida second nationally with almost 32,000 new private-sector jobs created. On the face of it, that seems like good news. But strip away the face value of such statistics, and you’ll find the same trend that characterizes the entire Republican economic “recovery” of recent years. Expect to see the Confederate flag back in the Florida Capitol as an unwanted Christmas present, writes Jac Wilder VerSteeg. How? Chaz Stevens, described as “a Deerfield Beach activist and blogger,” will erect an elaborate Festivus pole this Christmas in the Capitol Rotunda. So, in addition to Christian displays … the Festivus pole … the spaghetti monster and an offering from a satanic temple … it is hard to see how we will avoid a display from The Church of the Holy Confederacy. Florida is not an early adapter, notes Gary Stein. Most of the time, our state takes a “wait-and-see” attitude regarding nearly any health policy, social program or economic strategy that has been attempted by another state’s legislature. One such innovative program has saved at least hundreds of thousands of lives, millions of dollars and is older than CDs, cellphones, home computers, Katy Perry and Flo Rida, but you won’t see a statewide needle-exchange program in Florida.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Chris Latvala: “This afternoon I have the honor of being the best man in a very special wedding…. my dad’s. Congrats Dad and Connie. I love you both!”

SPOTTED at the Latvala wedding: Sens. Charlie Dean, Nancy Detert, Greg Evers, Rene Garcia, Denise Grimsely, John Legg, along with Jay Beyrouti, Andrea Reilly, Crystal Stickle.

SPOTTED at the wedding of Lauren Book and Blair Byrnes: Alonzo Mourning, former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, Reps. Erik Fresen and Matt Gaetz, Susan Goldstein

HAPPY BIRTHDAY this past weekend to our friends James Harris and Brett Cyphers, to former AG Bill McCollum, 30-under-30 rising star Matthew Leger and the Florida Democratic Party’s Dan Newman. Celebrating today is Tampa City Councilmember Guido Maniscalco and Ballard Partners Syl Lukis.

BEN AFFLECK TAKES CENTER STAGE IN THE NEW BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN TRAILER via Joe Reid of Vanity Fair

The brand new Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer was clearly the crown jewel in Warner Bros.’ presentation at Comic-Con Saturday afternoon, with stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Amy Adams (among others) on hand to promote what WB hopes to be the launching point for their Marvel-challenging cinematic universe.

As the previous trailer did, it led off with a post-Man of Steel Superman (Cavill) subject to the scrutiny of the government (including a welcome Holly Hunter!), which doesn’t know how it’s supposed to deal with a being this powerful. But what is new was the increased presence of Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman. While he was hidden behind the newfangled, light-up bat-mask in the first trailer, Affleck’s stern mug is front and center this time. That the two superheroes will be at odds is no surprise, given the title, but here we get to see glimpses of what motivates the clash, specifically the destruction of Wayne Tower, in an evocative moment that should give critics of director Zack Snyder’s affinity for mass-destruction in Man of Steel a lot to talk about.

Fans also got their first looks at Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in full, bracelet-clanging Wonder Woman regalia, and Jesse Eisenberg’s shaggy-haired take on Lex Luthor, delivering some rather delicious line readings (”The red capes are coming … the red capes are coming …“) that seem to indicate Batman vs. Superman may have a bit of a sense of humor after all.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th.

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.