Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – July 15

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

Today, just like the days before and the days ahead, promises to be yet another eventful day in Florida politics. Beyond the presidential race, which has Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio sparring with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and supporters of President Obama’s nuke deal with Iran, the jockeying for federal office continues unabated in Florida.

Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera will announce in Miami his campaign for the U.S. Senate just as U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is turning heads with his prodigious fundraising numbers and U.S. Rep. David Jolly is garnering support for his own expected run. U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller is also expected to launch a Senate bid, but he’s been quiet this past week.

Meanwhile, prospective candidates for a half-dozen congressional districts are making noise like its July of 2016, not the summer of ’15.

In Tallahassee, intrigue over how to redraw these congressional maps continue to dominate discussions, while one state Representative’s decision to withdraw his support for the frontrunner to be Speaker of the House in 2021-22 is the talk of Adams Street.

DONALD TRUMPS LEADS JEB BUSH NATIONALLY IN USA TODAY POLL, 17-14% via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

(I)f you were to just follow the polls in the past week, there are now two men that matter in the mid-summer of 2015: Trump and Bush … A new Suffolk University/USA Today poll published on Tuesday shows the bombastic New York City businessman leading Bush in a new poll, 17-14 percent.

(Scott) Walker is third in the survey, garnering 8 percent. Ted Cruz is next with 6 percent, followed by Rubio at 5 percent, with three candidates next at 3 percent: Dr. Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul. Chris Christie is next at 3 percent.

Receiving less than 2 percent each were former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and former New York Gov. George Pataki.

A significant 30 percent of the Republican electorate remains undecided about whom they will support among a crowded field of candidates.

Among self-identified conservative or very conservative Republican likely voters, Trump led Bush 17 percent to 11 percent, with all other candidates in single digits. However, among voters of all parties, Trump’s negatives were the highest, at 61 percent.

In a one-on-one match-up, Hillary Clinton leads Trump, 51-34 percent. Against Bush, she leads, but only by a 46-42 percent margin.

>>>If you include Tuesday’s new Suffolk University/USA Today poll in the aggregation to determine who will be on stage Aug. 6 for the GOP’s first debate, it’s: Bush, Trump, Walker, Rubio, Carson, Huckabee, Paul, Cruz, Christie and Perry.

BUSH SLAMS DONALD TRUMP FOR ‘RHETORIC OF DIVISIVENESS’ via the Associated Press

Bush took aim at Trump … criticizing his “rhetoric of divisiveness.”

Speaking to more than 100 people at a restaurant in Council Bluffs, the former Florida governor said the Republican Party should focus on bringing people together.

“Whether it is Donald Trump or Barack Obama, their rhetoric of divisiveness is wrong. A Republican will never win by striking fear in people’s hearts,” Bush said.

Trump, the outspoken reality television star, has been critical of Bush recently. Last week Trump called Bush “a joke” for suggesting that Mexican immigrants cross the border illegally as “an act of love.”

Talking to reporters on his last stop on a two-day swing through Iowa, Bush said that Republicans should be optimistic and offer people hope for a better life.

“Mr. Trump has every right to have every belief he has. He’s going to run, that’s fine,” Bush said. “But I don’t want to be associated with the kind of vitriol that he’s spewing out these days.”

BUSH WOULD END FUEL RULE THAT AIDS IOWA ETHANOL INDUSTRY via Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal

Bush … again asserted a position that could give him trouble with some Iowa voters, as he supports an end to a federal rule that helps the ethanol industry. Asked about his position on the Renewable Fuel Standard during his first Sioux City campaign stop since becoming a candidate in June, Bush said, “We need to phase that out over the long haul.”

The RFS federal rule holds that gasoline be composed of up to 10 percent renewable fuels. Iowa farmers are the top producers nationally of corn, which is placed into an ethanol fuel blend.

Bush said he understands there are more than 70,000 ethanol-related jobs in Iowa. He had also spoken against the RFS in March in Iowa, before becoming a candidate.

Bush drew 240 people in his stop, where he vowed to deliver “competency and conservative principles” to lead the U.S. to a new era of growth.

“I want to win … I will run with heart, I will run with conviction,” Bush said … vowed to not compete solely in Republican-leaning venues in seeking the nomination.

“You will see me competing in the Latino communities, campaigning in English and in Spanish, because I can,” Bush said.

MOST INTERESTING CAMPAIGN STORY OF THE DAY — BUSH’S POCKET CHANGE IS CURRENTLY HURTLING PAST PLUTO via Isabelle Taft of POLITICO

In the crowded field of 2016 contenders desperately vying to stand out, Bush can make one amazing boast right now: he’s the only candidate with a piece of pocket change hurtling through space.

This morning, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made history as the first mission to Pluto, coming within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet. On board was a Florida state quarter given to Alan Stern, New Horizons’ principal investigator, by then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005. … The quarter was part of a scheme he and a NASA official cooked up to help get Bush’s support for the launch. Because New Horizons was a nuclear launch, equipped with a plutonium-powered battery that allowed it to leave earth at the highest speeds ever, the governor needed to sign off. They came up with the idea of offering to fly a Florida state quarter, which features a rocket headed towards space. They couldn’t find one on their trip to visit the governor for a briefing; after he signed off anyway, Stern mentioned with regret that he hadn’t found an appropriate quarter.

“And [Bush] said, ‘Well, I’ve got plenty!'” Stern recounted. Bush left the room and returned with a roll of quarters. “He said, ‘Fly these!’’

After Bush’s quarter was in place, the scientists found they needed one more for balance on the delicately calibrated spacecraft. They chose a Maryland quarter, for the state where New Horizons was built.

So far, the Bush campaign hasn’t sought to capitalize on this grand moment for Jeb and his quarter. This could be a missed opportunity for Bush, given his struggle to reach escape velocity in the campaign: In February, the Pew Research Center found that 68 percent of Americans have a favorable view of NASA, a figure that held fairly steady across party lines, while Bush is viewed favorably by just 37 percent of Republicans.

VIDEO DU JOUR here of a man carrying a bouquet of flowers stopped by a Jeb campaign stop for a quick prayer for peace. Bush happily obliged.

BUSH, MARCO RUBIO JOIN OTHER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN SLAMMING IRAN DEAL via David Jackson and Ledyard King of USA TODAY

Bush, Rubio and other Republican presidential candidates have found a new election issue: Iran.

The U.S. and other world powers reached an agreement with Iran … that would limit Tehran’s nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the deal “undermines our national security,” and the Obama administration made too many concessions. He said “a significant majority in Congress” likely will vote the agreement down.

Bush blasted the agreement as a “dangerous, deeply flawed, and short-sighted deal” that will do little to curb Iran’s destructive ambitions.

Obama said the deal offers the best chance to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb for the foreseeable future … “Every path to a nuclear weapon has been cut off” …

RUBIO SUPPORTERS LAUNCH TV AD AGAINST IRAN DEAL via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Conservative Solutions Project, a group supporting Rubio, has a second TV ad up, this one calling Rubio a leader in the fight against the Iran nuclear accord.

“July 14th, 2015 – Barack Obama makes a deal giving Iran a clear path to a nuclear bomb,” a narrator says in the spot to run on national cable. “Congress can stop it. Marco Rubio is leading the fight.”

Obama has already vowed, “I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

The group’s first ad also focused on Iran. Technically it does not back a single candidate but the group is backed by Rubio supporters. It does not have to disclose donors.

COMPILATION OF FLORIDA POLS’ REACTIONS TO THE IRAN NUKE DEAL here.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rubio will chair two back-to-back Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings. The first begins 2:30 p.m. for the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues, which will review U.S. policy towards Haiti. The other begins 3:30 p.m. for a full Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consider the four pending nominations of U.S. ambassadors to Haiti, Guyana, Mexico and Nicaragua. Both will be in the Senate Dirksen Building, Room SD-419, Washington D.C. and live-streamed online here

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CRITICIZED AS A DO-NOTHING, CARLOS LOPEZ CANTERA READY FOR ACTION AND U.S. SENATE CAMPAIGN via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

After catching heat from Democrats for what they labeled a do-nothing job, Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera is poised to get busier … plans to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate in his Miami hometown, joining a pack of Republicans and a pair of prominent Democrats seeking the seat being vacated by Rubio

Lopez-Cantera, who was named … to the number two post in February 2014, earns almost $125,000 annually and plans to stay on in the administration as he campaigns for the federal office.

Lopez-Cantera’s going to have to deal with that image as a Senate candidate. For Scott, he’s made rare public appearances and usually has few events on the daily office calendar made public by the administration.

Florida Democrats have feasted for weeks on Lopez-Cantera’s “activities” and his “No Scheduled Events” listings, questioning whether he is even showing up for work. But it’s also a sign they see the Cuban-American, former state House majority leader as a formidable contender in a crowded Republican field.

Lopez-Cantera already has a Super PAC in place to raise unlimited contributions for a campaign. Campaign consultant Rick Wilson said the candidate’s fund-raising has been “perfectly respectable,” but declined to offer specifics.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Lopez-Cantera holds his U.S. Senate campaign kickoff event beginning 1:30 p.m. at All American Containers, 9330 NW 110th Ave. in Miami.

WATCH CLC’S ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO here in English and here in Spanish

SUN-SENTINEL EDITORIAL — “Scott should drop No. 2 post for taxpayers’ sake

FIRST ON FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM — RON DESANTIS’ STRONG FUNDRAISING PUSH: $1 MIL DURING LAST QUARTER; $2 MIL IN THE BANK Full story here

With media attention focused on who enter the GOP race for U.S. Senate next year, the man who got into the contest first, Jacksonville Congressman Ron DeSantis, brought some attention back on his candidacy … by announcing that he had raised over $1 million in the second quarter of 2015, and now has over $2 million in cash on hand.

“I’m grateful for the support I have received in Florida and throughout the country … The campaign raised a significant amount, and also laid the foundation to raise significant resources in the near future. I’m confident that we will have the resources we need to draw a clear contrast between my vision of limited government, economic prosperity and a strong defense with whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee and as the defender of continuing failed big government policies.”

Among the bold-faced names contributing to his campaign is former Governor Bob Martinez, prominent St. Petersburg developer Brent Sembler and businessman Stanley Tate, perhaps best known for developing the Florida Prepaid College Program.

The 36-year-old DeSantis is a former U.S. Navy officer and Harvard Graduate who was first elected to Florida’s 6th Congressional District in 2012, and was re-elected last year. He’s been endorsed by conservative groups like the Club for Growth PAC, Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks PAC.

As mentioned above, the DeSantis campaign also shared an initial list of Florida financial supporters. Scrolling through them, there is a significant overlap with many of the major donors to Scott’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

AMID JOCKEYING IN CD 2, MARY THOMAS ANNOUNCES $500K FUNDRAISING GOAL FOR 2015 via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics 

Republican Mary Thomas was already testing the waters for a run in Congressional District 2 before last week’s Florida Supreme Court ruling that struck down eight congressional districts and threw the Panhandle seat’s delicate balance into the ash heap of legislative history.

Now, as U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham‘s hopes for reelection there lie in the hands of GOP state lawmakers, the Scott administration attorney – set to announce her candidacy on July 22 – is hoping a boost from the state’s Indian-American community can lift her to a strong showing in crucial early fundraising.

Dr. George Thomas, a prominent Bradenton cardiologist and Republican fundraiser, wrote in a campaign memo he hopes to help the first-time candidate raise half a million dollars this year.

“With my [Indian-American Finance] committee’s pledges along with those … from your other commitments, I expect we will meet and exceed our goal of $500,000 raised this calendar year, 2015,” wrote Thomas, who was profiled in Desi Life and Times in February for his role in helping to coalesce Indian-American support for the Bush 2016 campaign for president.

Thomas also announced a goal of $2 million overall.

JUDGE RULES TO ANNUL ALAN GRAYSON’S MARRIAGE via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach Post

A judge has ruled to annul the marriage of U.S. Rep. Grayson … saying the couple was never legally married, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The ruling ends a yearlong court battle between Senate hopeful Grayson and his wife, Lolita.

Circuit Court Judge Bob LeBlanc said … “the petitioner, Lolita B. Carson Grayson, was married at the time of her purported marriage to Alan Grayson, which renders that marriage void.”

Lolita Grayson had filed for divorce in 2014. Alan Grayson countered by petitioning for an annulment, saying she was still in a previous marriage when they were wed in 1990. Alan Grayson had earlier petitioned to have future court records sealed from his legal fight with his now-former wife. Lolita Grayson also filed to have her husband’s assets frozen.

DARREN SOTO TO ANNOUNCE CONGRESS RUN via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

State Sen. Darren Soto … will formally announce his run for Congress tomorrow from the Orange County Courthouse … Soto joins Susannah Randolph, wife of Orange County Tax Collector and former state House member Scott Randolph, in vying for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat of U.S. Rep. Grayson … who announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate last week.

Randolph is a campaign manager for Grayson and one of his top aides, and is already hosting fundraisers and has the backing of Democratic fundraiser and prominent attorney John Morgan.

Congressional District 9 currently runs from southeast Orange County into and encompassing most of Osceola County. It was drawn to favor Hispanic voters, which could give Soto, who is of Puerto Rican descent, a leg up. But the district as currently drawn will undoubtedly change.

FORMER ST. PETE MAYOR RICK BAKER EXAMINING POSSIBLE RUN IN REDRAWN CD 13 Full story here

Democratic political operative Kevin Cate is wrong … Quoted by POLITICO about Charlie Crist’s likelihood in running for the U.S. House after Florida’s 13th Congressional District is redrawn to abide by last week’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, Cate said of Crist, “No one loves the ‘Burg more than Governor Crist…”

There’s no doubting Crist’s affinity for his beloved hometown, but if there is one person known to love St. Pete more — and has the record to prove it — it’s former Mayor Rick Baker. No two politicians have dominated St. Petersburg politics more over the last three decades than Crist and Baker.

Practically born to be in elected office, Crist represented the city in the state Senate before winning statewide office, but even then St. Petersburg was home to the “real Governor’s Mansion” as Crist returned home as much as possible while serving in Tallahassee. Baker rose from a well-respected corporate lawyer to civic leader. His eight years in office were so successful, he was suggested to be America’s best mayor by The Daily Beast.

Until recently, the idea that these two favorite sons of St. Petersburg would ever face off against each other for political office was as far-fetched as it snowing in the city by the bay. Yet, after last week’s ruling, it would appear Crist and Baker are on a collision course.

It’s already been widely reported, first by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo, that Crist is thinking about running in a redrawn CD 13. Not soon thereafter, the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith suggested that Baker might take up the Republican standard in CD 13. Smith said such a match-up would be “the hottest congressional race in America.”

Well, CD 13 voters, get ready for the heat.

RICK KRISEMAN OPINES ON CD 13 RACE via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times

Kriseman reiterated … that he has no interest in jumping in the 13th Congressional District race, but he was skeptical that  Crist would make a run.

“Charlie hasn’t reached out to me, I haven’t called him … I’d be surprised if he ran. I don’t see Charlie doing that. To go from being governor to congressman, I think that would be difficult.”

Kriseman said the one announced Democrat candidate, Eric Lynn, a former Obama Administration official and campaign aide, is a good friend and would make a good congressman, but he stopped short of formally endorsing him.

“He’s a smart guy. He’s a local guy. He knows how Washington works, but he also has local roots,” Kriseman said.

The Democratic mayor wasn’t as keen about his Republican predecessor Rick Baker‘s chances to win a seat. Twice elected with support from predominantly black neighborhoods likely to be added to the 13th in a redraw, Baker has said he’s thinking about it.

“I don’t know that he could win the district, not as it might be drawn,” Kriseman said. “It’s one thing to get Democratic votes against Ed Helm (Baker’s 2005 opponent) in a non-partisan race. But to run in a partisan race against a formidable opponent, I’m not sure he’d win. I think it’s a different race.”

BOB BUCKHORN: “UNLIKE IN THE GOVERNOR’S RACE, I WOULD SUPPORT CRIST FOR CONGRESS” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times

Not that anyone says it would make the difference, but Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn … “absolutely” would support Crist if Crist runs…

“I think Charlie could get in, I think Charlie could win. And I think it would be the right seat for him at the right time,” Buckhorn said. “I would support Charlie. It’s his home district. He’s popular. I think he could have an impact.”

This is much different, of course, than what Buckhorn — a potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2018 — said last year when Crist ran for governor against Rick Scott. Then, Buckhorn stayed on the sidelines. So what’s the difference between the governor’s race and a run for Congress?

“About $200 million (in state construction funds) for (Tampa International) airport and the USF med school,” Buckhorn said. “It’s that simple. I’m a mayor first, and I had a lot of stuff up there that needed the governor’s blessing. I think in hindsight it turned out okay.”

LATEST FINANCE REPORTS INDICATE ADAM PUTNAM RUN FOR GOVERNOR IN 2018 LIKELY via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News

Adam Putnam for governor? Florida’s current agriculture commissioner has held a few different positions in politics — he’s even served in Congress — but if recent fundraising reports are any indicator, Putnam is gearing up for his very own play for the state’s top political position in 2018.

A political committee called Florida Grown (which is linked to Putnam) has already begun to raise significant cash for what’s expected to be the beginning of a gubernatorial campaign. Putnam can’t seek another re-election for agriculture commissioner, so rumors have been swirling he’ll set his sights on the governor’s race to keep himself in the political game.

Over the last six months, Florida Grown has raised $1.4 million. A significant chunk of that fundraising money was raised in the last few months alone. During the month of June, Florida Grown raised over $460,000. In May, Florida Grown raised $287,000 … a larger number of donors — nearly two-thirds — chipped in $200 or less to Florida Grown, which is generally seen as a positive for candidates.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Consumers for Smart Solar, a coalition of Floridians, business leaders, faith-based and senior advocates, will hold a press conference on solar energy and the 2016 general election ballot at 10 a.m. at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office in Orlando.

SAVE THE DATE: Bradenton Republican state Rep. Jim Boyd hosts a fundraiser for his House District 71 re-election campaign. The event will be held Wednesday, September 23 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 7051 Wireless Court in Sarasota.

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EXCLUSIVE — THE RACE TO BE HOUSE SPEAKER IN 2020-21 TAKES ANOTHER INTERESTING TURN AS BRAD DRAKE DE-PLEDGES FROM ERIC EISNAUGLE Full story here

The tumultuous, ultra-insider-y race to be Speaker of the Florida House during the 2021-22 legislative sessions took another interesting turn today as Rep. Brad Drake has withdrawn his pledge to support to Rep. Eric Eisnaugle.

In de-pledging to Eisnaugle, once the unanimous choice of his classmates in the House to lead them, Drake becomes the first Republican from North Florida — and not the Tampa Bay region where much of the resistance to Eisnaugle’s leadership originates — to take back his commitment to the Orlando-area Republican.

Drake, from the Panhandle town of Eucheeanna, said that “there are a lot of people talking about reforming the process (by which a caucus selects its Speaker and Speaker Designate) and I agree with them.”

Asked whether he has de-pledge to Eisnaugle, Drake replied, “Yes.”

Asked specifically what “reforming the process” entails, Drake said he believes House members deserve more time when considering who will eventually lead them. The intra-party races to become Speaker now begin well before candidates win their first election to the House. Those who hope to become Speaker must travel the state to campaign for their future colleagues, all while raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support their allies.

Eisnaugle was first identified as the likely Speaker of his class when in the fall of 2014 several of his allies won primary elections over a slate of candidates reportedly aligned with Pinellas’ Chris Sprowls.

Despite his experience — or, as some have suggested, because of it — Eisnaugle’s path to the rostrum took a wrong turn during the 2015 Legislative Session.

IN REDISTRICTING SPECIAL SESSION, WILL LEGISLATURE TAKE UP THE STATE SENATE MAP, TOO? Full story here

The ink was not even dry on the Florida Supreme Court’s landmark redistricting decision instructing state legislators to redraw Florida’s congressional districts before it was being suggested that the Legislature also revisit the (flawed) map of the state Senate districts.

Redistricting experts (if there is such a thing), lawmakers, political consultants, and lobbyists have been buzzing for days now that if the Supreme Court believes the congressional districts were indeed drawn to favor incumbents and/or a political party, it’s safe to assume that the same partisanship found its way into the drawing of the state Senate districts.

One state Senator, Jack Latvala, has already received permission from the Florida Division of Elections to open a campaign account for the 2016 cycle in anticipation that the state Senate districts will have to be redrawn in the near future.

“I thought that last November would be my last election for the Senate,” Latvala wrote in an email to supporters. “However, it becomes apparent that the effort to win even a third set of new Senate districts in the courts is serious and demands our attention. That process will play out in the courtroom over the next several months and if the Supreme Court gets involved could last even until the qualifying period in June. Good preparation has always been the key to my political success. Therefore, I believe I should be prepared for the possibility that new districts may result and that I will have a campaign again in 2016.”

Latvala, like many other state Senators, would probably prefer that the uncertainty surrounding the validity of their district boundaries, be solved sooner rather than later. This begs the question: Will the Legislature take up the state Senate districts map during the Special Session it will convene to address the congressional map?

Probably not.

According to legislative leaders and senior staff in the House who asked to remain anonymous because negotiations between the two chambers have yet to begin, the House has little inclination to include redrawing the Senate map in the special session call.

— “Can anyone draw unbiased districts in Florida?” via Kim Soffen of the New York Times

DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATORS SCORE HIGH IN ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES’S 2015 VOTING SCORECARD via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Associated Industries of Florida, considered a powerhouse lobbyist group for the business establishment in Tallahassee, has produced their annual scorecard on how often state lawmakers have maintained the AFI line, and the discrepancy isn’t that large between Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate, at least.

AIF’s 2015 Voting Records contains each of the state’s 120 legislators voting records on what the group considers “key business issues.” Senate Republicans voted AIF’s way 95 percent of the time, Senate Democrats, 92%.

There was a much bigger gap in the House: Republicans received a 95 percent score from AIF, Democrats just 69 percent.

In terms of individual lawmakers scores, six senators received 100 percent scores: Republicans Andy Gardiner from Orlando, Rob Bradley from Orange Park, Charlie Dean from Inverness, and Pasco County’s John Legg. The two Democrats are Jeremy Ring from Margate and Joseph Abruzzo from Palm Beach County.

The lowest ranking senator, with a score of 79 percent, was Fort Lauderdale Democrat Chris Smith.

On the House side, all seven representatives garnering 100% scores are all Republicans: Tampa’s Dana Young and Shawn Harrison are two of them. Ray Pilon from Sarasota County, Holly Raschein from Key Largo and Miami’s Jose Felix Diaz.  St. Augustine’s Travis Hutson and veteran Rep. Doc Renuart only voted two and three times, respectively, in the 2015 House, because of running in other elections. They both had 100 percent totals from those minimal votes.

House Minority leader Mark Pafford received the lowest score from AIF, receiving a 35 percent score. AIF said he had 7 votes for their agenda, and 13 against.

FLORIDA SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION NAMES LEGISLATIVE CHAMPIONS FOR 2015 via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Florida’s leading law enforcement association recognized ten legislators this week for providing significant advancements in 2015 to the state’s overall public safety.

State Senators named as FSA Legislative Champions for 2015 include Rene Garcia of Hialeah, Denise Grimsley of Sebring, Tampa’s Arthenia JoynerJack Latvala of Clearwater and Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale.

Representing the House on the list are state Reps. Shawn Harrison of Tampa, Dave Kerner of Lake Worth, Charles McBurney from Jacksonville, Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena and Miami’s Carlos Trujillo.

The FSA chose state legislators who advocate for increased efficiency for deputies through electronic notarization of work documents (HB 523) and $800,000 in funding for mental health training for deputies.

In 2015, lawmakers also promoted initiatives allowing Floridians to quickly remove unwanted house guests (HB 305), strengthened civil citation programs for juveniles (SB 378), and supported Florida’s civil asset forfeiture laws.

BLACKJACK TURMOIL NOW AFFECTING STATE REVENUE FORECASTS via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Uncertainty over the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s right to keep offering blackjack at its casinos now is throwing a monkey wrench into the state’s revenue projections. The Revenue Estimating Conference … couldn’t predict how much money from card games – if any – to factor into its forecasts.

Lawmakers use those forecasts to help them figure out the state budget each year.

In Tampa … Scott was asked about the status of negotiations with the tribe … “I’m going to take the right amount of time to do the right thing for the taxpayers of the state” …

The state faces a deadline next Friday, July 24, to enter into “dispute resolution” talks or face forced mediation or even a federal lawsuit.

In a letter sent last month, tribal Chairman James Billie said he believes the state broke the exclusivity deal by allowing electronic blackjack and player-banked poker elsewhere in the state, including at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.

Last year, the tribe contributed $248.5 million into the state’s general revenue account, according to records, with another $7 million going to local governments.

SALES OF GROWLERS PUMP UP CRAFT BREWERS, PLEASE CUSTOMERS via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

Bartender Lizz Hutcherson is serving more happy customers lately at Green Bench Brewery. Until two weeks ago, she had to turn away out-of-staters toting growlers, upset they couldn’t fill the large containers with 64 ounces of the local flavor.

Now, a new state law allowing sales and refills of the 64-ounce containers is not only quenching customers’ thirsts but also helping brewers at the cash registers.

Before this year, Florida had already legalized 32 and 128-ounce growlers, but the 64-ounce growler remained confoundingly illegal. On July 1, Florida became the 50th state to legalize that size, regarded by many in the industry as the perfect size for consumers.

Being a laggard in adopting growlers and other industry standards, critics say, is one reason Florida’s craft-brewing industry has less economic impact per capita than any other state. Statistics from the Brewers Association, a national trade group, give a hint of what Florida could become: in Oregon, Colorado and California, hundreds of craft brewers pump out millions of barrels of beer each year and billions of dollars into their state economy.

Local craft beer aficionados are celebrating the change. On a Saturday night at Green Bench, 64 ounce growlers are conspicuous. Though too early to gauge the economic impact of the growler law, some local breweries are seizing the opportunity more than others.

The day the law changed, Cigar City Brewing in Tampa quickly sold out of 64 commemorative ceramic growlers marked, “July 1.” Owner Joey Redner said he has seen growler sales shoot up, with 50 percent of all growler sales now coming from the 64-ounce container.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a pair of bill signing ceremonies for Senate Bill 642, the Florida Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. Both events will highlight funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities included in the 2015-2016 budget. The first ceremony begins 10:00 a.m. at Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, 1715 Tiffany Drive East in West Palm Beach. The second signing event begins 1:30 p.m.at Pine Castle, 4911 Spring Park Road in Jacksonville.

KEY WEST POLICE ARREST FIRST UBER DRIVER UNDER NEWLY ENFORCED ORDINANCE via Carolyn Holtzman of the Miami Herald

A Key West Uber driver was arrested … after a crackdown by the city on unlicensed vehicle-for-hire drivers.

Martin Maness, 51, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of violating the city’s ordinance that requires drivers of any ride service to have a passenger vehicle-for-hire driver permit and vehicle license. Beginning July 1, the city of Key West said it would arrest unlicensed vehicle-for-hire drivers. … Arrest followed complaints that Uber drivers were picking up fares from Key West International Airport.

Maness was arrested after picking up undercover police officers at Key West International and delivering them to the Reach Resort at 1435 Simonton St. He was booked into jail around 10:40 p.m. and bailed out early Saturday on $701 bond.

Police say Maness told detectives after his arrest that he knew that driving Uber in Key West was against the law but that the money was worth the risk. Maness could receive up to 60 days in jail and be fined $500. Uber drivers in Key West can’t get a vehicle-for-hire license because the city limits the number of licenses.

The only way to obtain a license is to buy one from another license holder or appear before a City Commission public hearing and request new licenses … The public hearings take place in October of each even-numbered year. If the commission agrees to increase the cap, the licenses would be distributed on a random basis … there are 72 licensed vehicles now operating in Key West.

***Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Central Florida Political Leadership Institute’s Oct. 8-10 class. If you reside in the 7-county region, and are considering a run for public office but don’t know where to begin, this groundbreaking initiative is for you. Thank you to our sponsors AT&T, Bright House Networks, Central Florida Partnership, Clear Channel Outdoor, Orlando Magic, Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College and Universal Orlando Resort. Deadline is August 21, so don’t delay. More info here. Contact PLI Director Christina Johnson here.***

PRO CUBA NORMALIZATION PAC RAISES MORE THAN $178,000 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

The New Cuba PAC has released its first fundraising report with the Federal Election Commission, and it reports raising $178,140.77 between its launch in Miami on May 4 and the June 30 deadline. The New Cuba PAC is nonpartisan political action committee formed this year to support federal candidates who favor ending the trade and travel restrictions towards Cuba.

“For some time now, polling has shown the American people are way ahead of the politicians in Washington on Cuba policy, and the record travel to the island over the last six month shows they’re voting with their feet a well, ” said James Williams, one of the New Cuba PAC’s directors. “This impressive first FEC report for the New Cuba Pac, and in less than two months, sends a strong message to Congress that the American people are also putting their money where their mouth is and want Congress to play a constructive role in this new era.”

According to Ric Herrero, another New Cuba PAC director, about half of the individual contributions came from Cuban-Americans. “That’s important,” he said, “because most Cuban-Americans understand that the free flow of contacts, information and trade will do more to empower the Cuban people and isolate those who resist change than blanket economic sanctions.” He said the group’s goal had been $150,000 for the first two months of fundraising.

Among the contributors to the New Cuba PAC include former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz …

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

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

Gregory Haile: Broward College

Erik Kirk, Kirk Consulting Group: FireEye

Charles Liem, CLA Consultants: LifeShare

Tara Reid, Strategos Public Affairs: K12, Inc.

David Shepp, Southern Strategy Group: Polk Museum of Art

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Allergan

CONTEXT FLORIDA: 10 POLITICAL QUESTIONS, GERRYMANDERING AND THE BELLE GLADE PEOPLE

On Context Florida: The Florida Supreme Court has ruled the state’s congressional maps don’t meet requirements of a voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting political lines drawn to favor incumbents or political parties. The court ordered the Legislature to redraw the maps. Peter Schorsch discusses 10 big questions looming over Florida politics, including: Will the Legislature appeal; what’s the timetable to redraw the lines; who’s driving the redistricting train and who will be hurt more by the decision, Gwen Graham or David Jolly? In light of the recent Florida Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering, and given the rationale that justified the illegal redistricting lines in the first place, Julie Delegal says the words of playwright Tennessee Williams have never been more on point: “There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity. You can smell it … It smells like death.” For those interested in learning more about the Belle Glade people from an archeological site excavated by the Smithsonian, Catherine Martinez gives some realities to ponder. The Lawrence Will Museum, which just reopened this May in Belle Glade, can help satisfy your curiosity.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

FIRST LOOK AT 2015 EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FOOD & WINE FEST via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando SentinelThe 2015 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is more than two months away, but Disney has been releasing taste-bud-tempting details … five Food & Wine things we learned over the weekend.- The Dominican Republic is back and moving into the space where the Puerto Rico marketplace was last year – that transitional area between World Showcase and Future World. On the menu will be seared grouper in coconut sauce, mangu (mashed plantains), yucca souffle and pineapple flan.

– For the first time, the festival will have its own wine for sale. The bottle (Chardonnay and Cabernet) comes with a special cork with 20th anniversary imprint on it, but it also will be available by the glass.

–  Some food related to ABC’s “The Chew” will be created from recipes provided by the show, but reimagined big enough to serve the festival masses. A ricotta and zucchini ravioli recipe was shared by Chef Mario Batali.

– The extra-ticket Party for the Senses will be each Saturday in October, culminating with a Halloween-themed event on Oct. 31. The so-called Yelloween Masquerade party will encourage this “stylish and charming” dress code: yellow and black. A new event will be the Rockin’ Burger Block Party (Sept. 25, Oct. 8, Nov. 6). Tickets range between $99 and $199 for this new entry, and the Oct. 8 date will include “The Chew” personalities as hosts.

– Of course, there’s 20th anniversary merchandise in the mix. It’s kinda retro, and the logo even appears on those trash-can-themed salt and pepper shakers. Among the characters on the event pins will include Remy, Stitch and … wait for it, wait for it … the Swedish Chef.

Bonus fact: There will be 20 new food items and 20 new beverages at this year’s fest, which is marking its 20th year. The 2015 edition runs from Sept. 25 to Nov. 16.

IF YOU ARE A FAN OF “THE WIRE”HBO has released the first trailer for “Show Me A Hero,” by David Simon, creator of “The Wire.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friends Tom Piccolo and Ron Sachs. Best wishes to former Context Florida editor, Thomas O’Hara.

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.