The top of today’s Sunburn was suppose to be about the rollout of the latest entrant into Florida’s U.S. Senate race. But that changed Saturday after an unscripted moment in Ames, Iowa presented the 2016 election cycle with its first real bombshell moment.
DAYS UNTIL: First GOP presidential debate: 16; FSU & UF’s first football games of 2015: 45; Labor Day: 47; First Legislative Committee Meeting: 56; First day of 2016 Legislative Session: 175; Iowa Caucus 206; Super Bowl 50: 202; New Hampshire Primary: 204; Super Tuesday: 215; Florida’s presidential primary: 239; Close of federal candidate qualifying: 291; Florida’s primary elections: 407; 2016 Election Day: 477.
IF THE FIRST DEBATE WAS HELD TODAY, HERE’S WHO’D BE ON STAGE: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Rick Perry, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal.
BUT THAT WAS BEFORE…
DONALD TRUMP SHOOTS AT JOHN MCCAIN’S WAR RECORD
Speaking at a conference of religious conservatives on Saturday, Trump was pressed on his recent description of Arizona Sen. John McCain as “a dummy.”
The moderator, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, described McCain as “a war hero.” McCain spent more than five years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down during combat in Vietnam.
Trump said McCain “is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
TRUMP NOT BACKING DOWN via Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press
“I will say what I want to say,” Trump said Sunday, claimed a strong record of supporting veterans and accused McCain of failing them in Washington.
“I will do far more for veterans than John McCain has done for many, many years, with all talk no action,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week.” ”He’s on television all the time, talking, talking. Nothing gets done.”
A McCain spokesman has said the Arizona lawmaker would have no comment about Trump’s remarks.
Although unrepentant, Trump allowed after the Iowa event that McCain might be a hero after all, but said people who “fought hard and weren’t captured and went through a lot, they get no credit.” And he said Sunday about the Republican race: “I’m certainly not pulling out.”
HILLARY CLINTON SLAMS TRUMP’S ‘SHAMEFUL’ COMMENTS ON MCCAIN’S WAR RECORD via Annie Karni of POLITICO
Hillary Clinton sharply rebuked Trump on Saturday for his “shameful” comments … Clinton also moved quickly to erase any daylight between Trump and the rest of the GOP field, where the real-estate mogul and reality television personality has moved from sideshow to the current leader in the polls.
“[T]here’s nothing funny about the hate he is spewing at immigrants and families – and now the insults he has directed at a genuine war hero, Sen. John McCain. It’s shameful, and so is the fact that it took so long for his fellow Republican candidates to start standing up to him … The sad truth is if you look at many of their policies, it can be hard to tell the difference.”
— @JebBush: Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans – particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.
— @MarcoRubio: America’s POWs deserve much better than to have their service questioned by the offensive rantings of Donald Trump
— @Shawnfor63: What a disgrace. I don’t care how much $ you have or what party you belong to.
— @MacStipanovich: None deserving our gratitude and admiration on the Bataan Death March. Just a bunch of POWs.
— Steve Schale via Facebook: I joke about supporting the Trump sideshow, but he was so far over the line in his comments about John McCain. I’ve never voted for him, but in 2000, I stood in a 3 hour line to meet McCain, because it’s not everyday you get to meet a real hero. That’s something Trump will never be.
HOW TRUMP’S COMMENTS ARE PLAYING IN FLORIDA
WCTV Tallahassee, Donald Trump Refuses to Back Down from Insulting Comments – “… caused an uproar. But Trump isn’t repentant.” Orlando Sentinel, Donald Trump: ‘John McCain has failed’ – “… refuses to pull out of the presidential race or drop his fierce criticism … told ABC’s This Week … ‘I’ve backed John McCain — raised, I think, $1 million for John McCain when he let us down.’” Tampa Bay Times, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio condemn Trump’s comments about veteran McCain – “Bush went on Twitter: Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans – particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.” WQCS (NPR Treasure Coast), Trump Doubles Down On McCain Criticism, Refusing To Apologize – “I believe that I will do far more for veterans than John McCain has done … many, many years, with all talk no action … Nothing gets done.” BizPac Review(West Palm Beach), Trump twist: Chris Rock said almost exact same thing about McCain in 2008 stand-up joke – “… questioning … McCain’s heroism for being a six-year prisoner of war isn’t all that original … part of comedian Chris Rock’s standup comedy routine — seven years ago.” Miami Herald, Trump’s attack on McCain overshadows issues GOP candidates discuss in Iowa – “… overshadowed a more substantive conversation … both excites his party’s most passionate conservatives and worries Republican officials.” Palm Beach Post, Donald Trump is dominating the social-media primary – “ … one candidate who broadcasts better than the … 3.26 million Twitter followers and more than 26,000 tweets — each one more provocative than the last …” Miami Herald, Begin the unraveling? Donald Trump calls out John McCain for being ‘captured’ in Vietnam – “Republicans looking for a way to go after the celebrity presidential candidacy of Donald Trump got their chance …” Bradenton Herald, Donald Trump is number one? – “We should take no solace in the fact that Trump will eventually fall from his lofty perch … we should wonder what it says about the GOP that he was up there in the first place.”
TWEET, TWEET: @HughHewitt: When the country wakes it, it will be in a mood for very serious people … That seriousness post-Iran appeasement also going to propel @RepDeSantis to Senate from Florida
SHOT: @BallardPartners: @SenJohnMcCain is an American hero. He would have been an incredible President. Great Senator but even a better man.
CHASER: @SaintPetersBlog: So are you upset with your client, @RealDonaldTrump
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DAVID JOLLY EXPECTED TODAY TO ENTER THE RACE FOR FLORIDA’S U.S. SENATE SEAT
JOLLY’S JOURNEY TO U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
After CFO Jeff Atwater surprised most political observers in Florida this spring and said he would not run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio next year, people began calling David Jolly, inquiring whether he might run for the seat.
While it may be safe to assume that Jolly still isn’t blown away by the field, any hesitation about leaving his congressional seat that he worked so hard to get last year became a moot point two weeks ago. That’s when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that among the eight districts that the Legislature needs to redraw because they were gerrymandered unconstitutionally was his own seat in Pinellas County.
The biggest question in his primary contest might be: which Jolly shows up to run? The man who, having to prove his true-blue conservative bona fides in the Republican primary for the CD 13 seat in January of 2014, ran as a hard-right candidate? Or the man who has since taking office, has proven to be considered an old-fashioned classic moderate, befitting the mood of his Pinellas County constituents.
The GOP race for CD 13 was no given for Jolly, since he didn’t exactly have huge name recognition in the district. And he also was running against Senator Jack Latvala, who blasted him as being an out of town lobbyist, who had “never done anything in our community.”
But Jolly proved his mettle in the primary, defeating state representative Kathleen Peters and retired Marine Brigadier General Mark Bircher, a first-time candidate, by getting 44 percent of the vote. Peters finished with 31 percent, and Bircher was at 24 percent.
Then he took on former CFO Alex Sink, handpicked by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to run for the seat … In one of the most expensive congressional elections ever (including third-party groups, over $12 million was expended on it), Jolly defeated Sink, 48.4 – 46.6 percent in March of 2014.
Most political reporters thought that it would be another donnybrook in the fall, but a funny thing happened on the way to that cliffhanger – the Democrats failed to find a candidate to run against Jolly … to a stunningly easy reelection … Since then, he’s been an energetic representative, serving on the House Appropriations and Veterans’ Affairs’ Committees, among others.
A LOOK AT JOLLY’S CONGRESSIONAL RECORD via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
Jolly’s GOP opponents, Ron DeSantis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox (so far) will certainly be scrutinizing the Pinellas County Representative’s voting record in Congress, especially since he could be the man to beat in the open field, if you believe one early poll published last week.
A review of his 16 months in office shows a fairly consistent conservative voice on most issues – but definitely not all of them … On issues like adding to the federal debt, Jolly is as hawkish as they come.
In late March, he joined up with only 16 other Republicans to approve the GOP’s approved budget, and slammed his colleagues for voting yes … he also voted against the Paul Ryan-crafted GOP House budget a year earlier, saying that he was keeping a campaign promise to his constituents not to tamper with Medicare, a no-no in a district filled with seniors.
He also showed a softening to his opposition to President Obama’s rapprochement to Cuba … sided with his Tampa Bay area colleague Kathy Castor in supporting an amendment by California Democrat Barbara Lee that would eliminate a measure that would restrict travel to Cuba. The measure failed in the GOP-led House.
MORE FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL…
HAPPENING TODAY — JEB BUSH TO STUMP IN TALLAHASSEE via Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat
Bush is bringing his campaign to Tallahassee … he will deliver a campaign speech at the Augustus B. Turnbull Center.
It will be Bush’s first stop in Tallahassee since he announced his candidacy for president in June. Bush was last in Tallahassee in February to raise money and speak at an education forum.
The speech, which isn’t affiliated with FSU, is the start of a series of Bush appearances to outline his priorities.
“It begins with taking on Mount Washington and reforming the way D.C. works,” his campaign said … “Gov. Bush will talk about putting America’s financial house in order and why that requires a president willing to challenge the culture of our nation’s capital.”
During his time as Florida governor, Bush used the name “Mount Tallahassee” to describe his fight against government bureaucracy … Bush will likely highlight his record on government efficiency.
RAISING MONEY IS A BUSH FAMILY BUSINESS, EVEN FOR THE NEXT GENERATION via Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post
Politically, Bush wants voters to focus on his first name and his own political record. But when it comes to fundraising, he’s still banking on the success of his last name.
He hosted wealthy donors, many of whom backed his father and brother’s presidential bids, at his parents’ coastal estate in Maine this month … he headlined a raucous dinner hosted by a PAC led in part by his two sons. It was held in a Venetian Hotel ballroom next to the theater where Diana Ross performs.
The group cannot officially endorse in the presidential race, so Bush and his family are drawing inspiration from the PAC as he continues fundraising. But the PAC is an outgrowth of the 2004 reelection campaign of George W. Bush — so, in essence, Jeb Bush is learning the lessons of his older brother.
With his father sidelined by injury and his brother staying out of the fray, Bush is deploying his wife and sons to appear at some of the 17 major fundraising events in 11 states and the District of Columbia that are scheduled through September.
JEB BUSH’S FATHER AND BROTHER HAVE A SECURITY DETAIL. NOW HE DOES TOO via Ed O’Keeffe of the Washington Post
Out on the campaign trail, Jeb Bush eagerly engages voters looking for a hug, a handshake or a photo. Usually he works a room with just one aide by his side and travels with a team that can fit into one SUV.
At multiple stops in recent days, there’s been a new member of Bush’s entourage: A bodyguard.
Being the son and brother of former presidents doesn’t afford Bush U.S. Secret Service protection — but given his family ties, the desire for some security perhaps isn’t surprising.
Bush’s campaign has paid $9,892.85 to U.S. Safety & Security LLC for security services. Campaign aides confirmed that the money was spent on security, but declined to say if there have been specific threats made against him.
Bush’s security firm of choice is based in Severna Park, Md. and provides protection for corporate and political clients, including security at large events, bodyguards for top executives, consulting for large hotels or stadiums and disaster management. Guards employed by the firm provided security for 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney before he picked up U.S. Secret Service protection as the GOP nominee.
So far, Bush’s security costs are significantly less than several other candidates who travel with security details — often at taxpayer expense.
MARCO RUBIO GAVE BACK $820K IN SENATE DONATIONS via Patricia Mazzei, Amy Sherman and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald
Marco Rubio had collected a tidy $12.9 million in his political campaign account as of June 30, but he had to give up a large chunk of money when he decided to run for president instead of the U.S. Senate.
The Florida Republican refunded more than $821,000 to donors who had contributed to his Senate reelection campaign before Rubio switched races, according to his first finance report … Unless donors explicitly agreed to transfer their contributions to the presidential campaign, their checks had to be returned. Some donors say no, and others fail to respond to campaign queries about the transfers. Among Rubio’s refunds is one to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul being courted by several GOP presidential contenders.
Of Rubio’s total fundraising, $8.9 million came in new presidential contributions, while $3.2 million was carried over from his Senate account.
RUBIO HAS TO JUST LOVE THIS — CUBAN FLAG TO HANG IN STATE DEPT. LOBBY AS EMBASSIES REOPEN via Matthew Lee of the Associated Press
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the flag will be hung early Monday morning before a ceremony to mark the re-opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington and the restoration of full diplomatic ties. The department’s lobby features the flags of more than 150 other countries placed in alphabetical order. Cuba falls between Croatia and Cyprus in that arrangement.
Later Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry will meet at the department with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, after which they will hold a joint news conference, Kirby said.
SEEING CROWD, GOP DONORS HOLDING BACK via Nicholas Confessore and Sarah Cohen of the New York Times
Despite a wealth of choices in a crowded primary field, the vast majority of high-level Republican donors and fund-raisers have not yet backed any candidate financially, magnifying the importance of the coming debates as the presidential hopefuls seek to impress potential backers.
Only about a fifth of the 1,000 or so fund-raisers and their spouses who rallied around Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee in 2012, have given money to any of the 2016 candidates, according to a New York Times review of fund-raising records reported by the candidates last week.
Those who remain uncommitted — hundreds of volunteer “bundlers” who could collect contributions from their friends and business associates — represent a huge pool of untapped campaign cash, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, that could remake the primary campaign.
Some of the bundlers and donors said they had held back, in part, because the field was the strongest they had seen in years, with several viable contenders representing the party’s different generational and ideological segments.
Unlike in 2012, when Romney dominated fund-raising even as he fought off a series of insurgencies by more populist candidates, the affections of many donors in 2016 are divided among three or four candidates. Others are quietly weighing the impact of Trump, who has jumped to the lead in some national polls despite raising almost no money from the party’s establishment.
The slow recruitment of major donors and bundlers is also a function, several donors and Republican leaders said, of the candidates’ early emphasis on raising money for “super PACs,” which tend to be funded by a much smaller pool of extremely wealthy donors.
MARY THOMAS TO ANNOUNCE CD 2 CANDIDACY WEDNESDAY
Republican Mary Thomas will announce that she is a candidate for Congress in an address at the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee this Wednesday, July 22.
Thomas is an attorney, a first-generation American and a strong conservative Republican. She is a Rick Scott administration agency general counsel and a member of the Federalist Society of conservative attorneys. If elected, Mary would make history as the first Indian-American woman ever elected to Congress.
ERIC LYNN SAYS HE’S IN THE CD 13 RACE TO STAY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
Charlie Crist. Darden Rice. Ken Welch. Dwight Dudley.
There are some prominent Democrats whose names have been floated in the media as possibilities to run in the CD 13 race next year, now that the district is likely to be much more advantageous for the party after the Florida Legislature redraws the district in advance of next year’s election.
While the new landscape has invited such speculation, there is a Democratic candidate who decided to run for the seat months ago, when it appeared much more challenging to defeat then Republican incumbent David Jolly.
That would be Eric Lynn, who worked as a high-level official under three secretaries of defense in the Obama administration from 2008-2014.
“We’re very happy with the way our campaign is going,” he told Florida Politics … “I’m also very pleased with our political support, as well our grassroots support that we have throughout Pinellas County, which includes many of our Democratic activists, and I’m in this race to stay.”
That was Lynn’s direct response to being asked what he would do if Crist gets into the contest. The former governor has told members of the media that he is contemplating getting into the contest, the first time he’s ever said he would be content to become one of 435 members in the House of Representatives.
AUTHOR OF ELECTIONS COMPLAINT AGAINST LYNN PULLS DISAPPEARING ACT via Charlie Frago and Caryn Baird of the Tampa Bay Times
The mystery began with an election fraud complaint filed this week against Lynn.
Nestor Ojeda-Penaloza filed the complaint with the Florida Division of Elections, alleging that Lynn broke the law by voting as a state resident while claiming homestead exemptions in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Ojeda-Penaloza attached detailed property records and copies of campaign donations that showed Lynn contributed $350 to Democratic candidates Dwight Dudley and Judithanne McLauchlan in 2014 using his Maryland address.
Yet while the complaint is loaded with exhaustive minutia about Lynn, precious little is known about the accuser, Ojeda-Penaloza.
The 27-year-old registered Democrat turns up in some records as Nestor Ojeda. He listed a small home at 4325 44th Ave. N as his address on the complaint. Yet that home appeared abandoned Wednesday evening. Its yard was overgrown. In the driveway sat an old car with a handwritten sales price in the window for $250. It was trashed. The doorbell hung from its socket and the screen to the front door was ripped and dangled to the side.
Neighbors say no one has lived at the house for months. Is Ojeda-Penaloza an outraged citizen? A rival’s hired gun?
MANUEL SYKES CONSIDERING BID FOR CD 13 via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times
Longtime St. Petersburg pastor Manuel Sykes is considering a bid for office in 2016. Which one, and with which party? Sykes says he’s thinking and praying on both decisions.
Sykes said he might run the state House seat currently held by Rep. Darryl Rouson, who is term-limited, or the soon-to-be redrawn 13th Congressional district.
The Bethel Community Baptist Church pastor would likely be a contender in either race. Sykes already lives in the Democratic-leaning 70th District, and observers say the Legislature will likely follow a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling on the state’s Congressional map by shifting a heavily Democratic section of southern St. Petersburg into CD 13. The incumbent, Indian Shores Republican David Jolly, is expected to forgo a reelection bid to run for Marco Rubio‘s U.S. Senate seat.
Last year, Sykes was the only announced Democrat in the special election for CD 13 after the death of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, but he dropped out after then-Pinellas Democratic Party chairman Mark Hanisee discouraged him from running. Sykes, who said he would have moved into the district to run, subsequently switched to the Republican Party.
FORMER RICK SCOTT CHIEF OF STAFF EYEING RUN FOR CD 14 via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
There’s plenty of commotion over the Florida Supreme Court’s redistricting order and Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District, but what about Tampa’s 14th? Rep. Kathy Castor‘s District 14 is now overwhelmingly Democratic — it was drawn to take in as many Democrats as possible to keep the surrounding districts Republican. It almost certainly will become less Democratic after the redrawing.
Florida Veterans Affairs director Mike Prendergast, a Republican who in 2010 mounted the strongest challenge to Castor since she’s held the office, confirmed this week that he could be interested in taking another shot.
“If everything lined up, I would have to entertain it,” said Prendergast, who was … Scott’s first chief of staff.
Several other prominent Republicans — state Reps. Shawn Harrison and Dana Young, county Commissioner Sandy Murman and former Commissioner Mark Sharpe — all expressed pessimism or comparative lack of interest.
The district isn’t likely to end up encouraging for a Republican, but may be less discouraging.
It now has about 205,000 Democrats, 102,000 Republicans, and 114,000 minor party or no-party voters. About 38,000 of its Democrats and 9,000 Republicans are in south St. Petersburg, and the court said it must lose those voters — the district can’t cross the bay.
RACE TO SUCCEED PATRICK MURPHY IN CONGRESS COULD DRAW WILD CARD DEMOCRAT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
Two Palm Beach County commissioners vying for the Democratic nomination to the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy could be getting a wild card challenger.
Randy Perkins, CEO of environmental services corporation Ashbritt Inc., is said to be seriously considering adding his name to the contest currently between Commissioners Melissa McKinlay and Priscilla Taylor.
Perkins has talked to the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee about running. And he’s spoken with his company’s lobbyist and friend, Ron Book.
“He’s a class act,” Book said … “He told me he’s been thinking about this. Randy would be a good addition. He’s a really good guy, involved in philanthropy and work in our community.”
There’s also a little controversy. And maybe for some Democrats, a little-too-close tie to Republican leaders.
Perkins’ company, based in Deerfield Beach, has been awarded billions of dollars worth of federal contracts for debris removal stemming from Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast and Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.
MORE ON PERKINS via Marc Caputo of POLITICO
“The DCCC rolled out the red carpet for him,” one Washington Democrat familiar with the DCCC meetings told POLITICO. “They like his story. They like him and his passion. And, let’s be honest, they like his money, too.”
Perkins didn’t promise the DCCC he’d contribute $5 million in one check. Instead, sources say, Perkins said he’d be willing to start a campaign in the coming weeks with a personal contribution or loan of $1.5 million. He would also fundraise from others and be willing to contribute as much as $3.5 million of his own fortune, throughout the campaign, according to sources familiar with the discussions in Washington.
JEFF ATWATER STILL POLITICALLY ACTIVE EVEN IF NEXT POLITICAL MOVE UNCLEAR via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times
Atwater cannot run for re-election as the state’s Chief Financial Officer because of term limits.
And he declared earlier this year that he will not run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
But you wouldn’t know either by recent activity in a fundraising committee the Republican runs or his political travel schedule last month.
Last week, the Atwater’s committee, Government That Works For You, paid a West Palm Beach political consultant $15,000 – his largest single expense since he created the committee in August 2014. He also used the fund to pay $5,000 each to consultants based in Jacksonville and Tallahassee in May.
He also raised another $20,000 for the account in June. All told, he’s now raised $145,100 for the campaign account and has only spent $32,527 of that as of his July 9 payment to the West Palm Beach political consulting firm, Public Concepts.
And Atwater has been a regular on the Republican speakers circuit, acting as the keynote speaker at two Republican Party Lincoln Day dinners in June (Leon County and Brevard County), and giving a speech at another in Miami-Dade … Atwater has not offered any new hints on if he’s considering running for another office when his term as chief financial officer ends in 2018.
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ICYMI — FLORIDA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS SLIGHT IN JUNE via the Associated Press
Florida’s unemployment is dropping slightly.
The June unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, compared to 5.7 percent the month before. The state added 7,000 jobs last month, according to figures released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity.
The state’s jobless rate remains higher than the national rate of 5.3 percent. There are approximately 529,000 unemployed Floridians, out of a labor force of nearly 9.6 million people.
June’s rate was a 0.6 percentage point drop from a year ago.
STEVE CRISAFULLI: THERE WILL BE NO TRAVELING HEARINGS ON REDISTRICTING; LEE: PROCESS IS ‘PARALYZED’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said no … to the request from members of the state’s congressional delegation to conduct “hearings across our great state” on redistricting before a special session.
“We are responding to a specific court order under a very tight time frame … The court did not contemplate statewide public hearings when they set the time frame. We will, however, have opportunities for public comment and public testimony.”
Crisafulli hinted, however, that the request for the hearings could be viewed by the court as an attempt by the congressional members to influence the Legislature and make the map vulnerable to interpretations of favoring incumbents, in violation of the Fair Districts provisions of the state Constitution.
“I have asked all of our staff and members to have no contact with congressional members, staff, or consultants during the congressional reapportionment process,” he said.
Lawyers for the House and Senate told Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds … that they expect lawmakers to announce the dates of a special session early next week. Early reports are that it will be called for Aug. 10-21.
Sen. Tom Lee … said that the court ruling had resulted in “a bit of paralysis” on the part of lawmakers.
TWEET, TWEET: @SteveBousquet: Talk of Tallahassee: Legislature leaning toward mid-August (10-21) for two-week special session on redistricting.
HAPPENING TODAY: Republican state Senators are raising money at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Calif. There is a reception tonight and a golf outing on Tuesday.
GOV. SCOTT MOVES NATIONAL GUARD RECRUITMENT CENTERS TO ARMORIES via Olivia Hitchcock of the Palm Beach Post
Florida’s six National Guard recruitment centers in storefront offices have been closed.
An executive order from Gov. Scott moved the offices — two in Tampa, two in Jacksonville, one in Orlando and one in Miami — to nearby armories.
The order is in response to the fatal shootings of five servicemen in Chatanooga, Tenn., on Thursday.
Scott said at a news conference in West Palm Beach Saturday that local police have been asked to monitor the 55 National Guard armories throughout the state. All qualified guardsmen and women will be armed, as well.
“I’m going to do everything under my power to make sure every member, men and women, of our National Guard is safe,” Scott said. “I don’t want anything like what happened in Tennessee to happen here.”
TRANSPARENCY GROUP CALL’S SCOTT’S ‘SUNSHINE’ EFFORT A FAILURE via James L. Rosica of the Tampa Tribune
Project Sunburst, a public email-disclosure system started by Scott after he took office in 2011, has been more of “a sunshine bust,” an open-government advocate said …
The First Amendment Foundation, a Tallahassee-based watchdog group, sent an email to its members saying the system “has shed little light on the activities of the governor, his staff or his working relationship with the departments of state government.”
The idea was that anyone can log on to the website flgov.com/sunburst to read the latest emails sent among officials in the state’s executive branch, including Scott and state agency heads.
Now, “Scott himself no longer uses the account to send emails,” the foundation said.
“The outgoing correspondence of Scott’s chief of staff is not posted … nor is that of the aide who serves as the cabinet affairs director or the account of the lieutenant governor,” the foundation added.
Another public-integrity watchdog explained why a commitment to open records, including emails, is important, especially in a state famed for having the best public-records law.
To be sure, government emails generally are still public records in Florida. But Project Sunburst was supposed to eliminate a big hurdle: specifying and filing formal public-record requests for emails and other documents.
TOP ENTERPRISE FLORIDA OFFICIAL LEAVING TO REJOIN EX-BOSS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
A top official at Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency, is leaving to join her old Florida boss, Gray Swoope, the agency’s former chief executive and … Scott‘s first major hire in the critical post of creating jobs.
Melissa Medley, who served as EFI’s chief marketing officer, has been named partner at VisionFirst Advisors, where Swoope is president and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is chairman. The newly-formed entity advises businesses on economic development strategy and is a subsidiary of the Butler Snow law firm.
Before coming to Florida with Scott, Swoope and Medley headed economic development efforts in Mississippi, where Butler Snow has a major presence. In a statement, Swoope said Medley’s “proficiency in marketing and media relations complement the firm’s mission and vision.”
VisionFirst has offices in Tallahassee and Medley begins her new job Aug. 3. Anticipating Medley’s departure, EFI has begun a search for a replacement. A committee headed by Florida Power & Light’s chief executive, Eric Silagy, will choose three finalists for the post and interview all three before making a selection for the high six-figure post.
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSITCE SAYS JUDGES IN DIRE NEED OF BETTER BAY via Elyssa Cherney of the Orlando Sentinel
Florida’s Chief Justice Jorge Labarga is rallying for something that hasn’t happened in almost a decade.
He wants a raise.
Labarga said better pay for judges is among his top priorities as he enters the second and final year of his term as the state’s top jurist.
Stagnant salaries and reforms to state worker-pension programs have caused judges to flee the bench in recent years, Labarga said in an interview during a trip to Orlando last week.
“We lost a tremendous amount of judges throughout the state,” Labarga said. “They are back in private practice making millions right now. So we need to keep what we have, and we need to attract very talented people.”
The last cost-of-living raise in judges’ salaries was in 2006 — the same year for all state employees. And in 2010, judges were required, for the first time, to fund their state pensions with 3 percent of their yearly earnings.
Compared with other states, Florida falls in the middle in terms of judicial pay, according to data from the National Center for State Courts. The organization’s most recent rankings, published Jan. 1, list among the most lucrative places to be a judge California, Illinois and the District of Columbia, where salaries range from $199,100 as a trial judge to $225,432 as a supreme-court justice.
Here, county judges earn the least, at $138,020. Circuit judges make $146,080, and Supreme Court justices get $162,200. The Legislature sets wages for the state’s 992 judges.
Labarga said better salary or benefits are needed to lure private attorneys into the public sector. As Florida’s population continues to grow and more businesses settle here, the state will need top-notch judges to deal with an influx of civil and contractual cases, Labarga said.
FLORIDA SEES SURGE IN HOMESCHOOLING via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times
The number of home-schooled children in Florida saw its biggest increase in five years during 2014-15, according to a recently released Florida Department of Education report.
Last year, the state counted 84,096 children in home schooling, up 9.6 percent from a year earlier. The number of families involved rose by a much smaller 2.6 percent, suggesting that a big chunk of the growth could be related to youngsters in those families growing old enough for school.
Three Tampa area school districts landed in the top 10 statewide for having the most home-schooling students. Hillsborough came in third, with 5,560, while Pinellas ranked ninth with 3.089 and Pasco rounding out the list with 3,011. At the top was Duval County’s 6,106 students.
Pasco has seen continued increases in home schooling since 2011, when the state saw another surge in the alternative education method … School district officials have said since then that they want to offer more choices within the public system to bring families back into their classrooms. More programs are in the works for all three local districts on the top 10 list.
WHAT JEFF BRANDES IS READING — GOOGLE’S SELF-DRIVING CAR INVOLVED IN FIRST INJURY ACCIDENT via Justin Pritchard of the Associated Press
Google Inc. revealed … one of its self-driving car prototypes was involved in an injury accident for the first time … a Lexus SUV that the tech giant outfitted with sensors and cameras was rear-ended in Google’s home city of Mountain View, where more than 20 prototypes have been self-maneuvering through traffic.
The three Google employees on board complained of minor whiplash, were checked out at a hospital and cleared to go back to work following the July 1 collision, Google said. The driver of the other car also complained of neck and back pain.
In California, a person must be behind the wheel of a self-driving car being tested on public roads to take control in an emergency. Google typically sends another employee in the front passenger seat to record details of the ride on a laptop. In this case, there was also a back seat passenger.
Google has invested heavily as a pioneer of self-driving cars, technology it believes will be safer and more efficient than human drivers.
This was the 14th accident in six years and about 1.9 million miles of testing, according to the company. Google has said that its cars have not caused any of the collisions — though in 2011 an employee who took a car to run an errand rear-ended another vehicle while the Google car was out of self-driving mode.
In 11 of the 14, Google said its car was rear-ended.
MIAMI, DAVID BECKHAM GROUP AGREE TO BUILD MLS STADIUM via Jeff Tavss of Local10.com
After an early (Friday) morning meeting involving Mayor Tomas Regalado, the city of Miami and David Beckham‘s ownership group have agreed to build an MLS stadium.
The proposed stadium will be built on a parcel of land next to Marlins Park in Miami.
“Today’s meeting with Mayor Regalado was another positive step toward bringing a world class soccer club to Miami,” a Miami Beckham United representative said. “We’re still in the early planning stages and several viable options still exist, but our preferred stadium location is the former Orange Bowl site.”
… The group originally desired a stadium to be built on a waterfront site in downtown Miami, but after city officials denied those options, Beckham began to look further inland.
RAQUEL REGALADO FAR BEHIND CARLOS GIMENEZ IN NEW POLL ON DADE MAYORAL RACE via Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald
(S)chool board member Raquel Regalado trails incumbent Carlos Gimenez by double digits in the Miami-Dade mayoral race. But Gimenez still finished second behind the undecided vote.
Regalado, heir to one of the most prominent names in Miami politics, trailed Gimenez by 23 points in a survey done by Bendixen & Amandi International for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Of the 600 registered county voters polled on their pick in the mayoral race, 40 percent chose Gimenez and 17 percent chose Regalado, a two-term school board member and daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.
While Gimenez easily topped his lone challenger in the survey, 43 percent of respondents opted not to pick a candidate. That left Gimenez, in office since 2011, the second-place finisher behind the undecided category with a little more than a year to go before the August 2016 primary that could decide the race.
MOST FLORID-Y FLORIDA STORY OF THE DAY — TURTLE-NEST FIGHT LEAVES ONE MAN WOUNDED, ANOTHER ARRESTED, AUTHORITIES SAY via Anne Geggis of the Sun Sentinel
A turtle rescue led to a shooting in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea on Friday night when two volunteers intent on protecting sea turtle nests were confronted by a man saying he dislikes turtles and turtle volunteers, according to one of the volunteers.
After it was all over, one of the volunteers was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and the man who confronted them was arrested, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.
… “There was a man sitting on a bench at the entrance of the beach who was giving off profanity,” said Young, 64, of Tamarac. “He got up and went toward one of the nests and very aggressively started pulling the stakes out.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, McAuliffe hit Young and then Pannaman pulled out a gun.
“In an attempt to de-escalate the situation, Pannaman pulled a gun out of his pocket,” a sheriff’s statement said. McAuliffe, undeterred, took the gun away from Pannaman, the agency said.
Young told the Sun Sentinel that Pannaman pointed the gun at the man as he explained that disrupting a sea turtle nest is a felony and he’d better stop.
Young said that Pannaman had put the gun back in his pocket. But then McAuliffe approached Young and hit him. The trio began wrestling, he said. And then McAuliffe had the gun.
“He said, ‘I’m going to shoot,'” Young said.
Pannaman turned quickly enough that the bullet hit him in the left hip, Young said. “The guy freaked out when he saw the wound,” Young said, recalling McAuliffe throwing the gun into the sand. “He was saying, ‘I can’t believe I did this. I can’t believe I did this.'”
Police arrived on the scene shortly, Young said.
CONTEXT FLORIDA: SHIFTING DISCOURSE AND TWO SIDES OF FLORIDA’S SOLAR DEBATE
On Context Florida: The Florida Supreme Court recently invalidated the state’s congressional districts map, finding it had been drawn with unconstitutional intent to favor the majority party and incumbents. The decision is a Big Deal, says attorney Glenn Burhans, but noteworthy for another reason: Illustrating a shift in our judicial discourse and the proper place, if any, of sharp-elbowed dissent. Most Floridians agree: Solar power is an essential part of our energy future. In fact, Florida voters might even find two solar amendments on their 2016 ballot. Dick Batchelor and Jim Kallinger warn: There are important differences between the two ideas. Tory Perfetti and Mike Antheil say Floridians for Solar Choice is a legitimate grassroots citizens’ effort to give Florida residents and business owners the ability to choose solar energy and harness the power of the sun through the free market. A new organization recently has sprung up that aggressively parrots utility monopoly company arguments against the Floridians for Solar Choice ballot initiative with an amendment of its own, ironically called Consumers for Smart Solar. There’s nothing smart about this, they write; it’s actually a sham, written by the monopoly utility itself.
ALOE TO SOOTHE THE SUNBURN
— Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, says Season 6 will be epic.
— Leonardo DiCaprio fights to survive in first stunning “The Revenant” trailer.
— “Suicide Squad” trailer has Harley Quinn origin, Joker escape, and Batman surprise.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY this past weekend to the Florida Democratic Party’s Allison Tant, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Stephen McDuffie, and Susan Latvala. Celebrating today is William Large.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Felix Samuel Hoppe Kilman has arrived! Both he and Jessica Hoppe are doing well via Jonathan Kilman.