Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – July 8

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Good morning! This is Sunburn for July 8.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, a top of Sunburn (albeit belated) happy birthday to our good, good friend Tim Stapleton, CEO of the Florida Medical Association and proud dad to Nicholas.

TWEET, TWEET: @DJGroup: All should stop and wish a good fella @tjstaple a fine and Happy Birthday.

Now, let’s move to a piece of news that doesn’t necessarily fit the narrative of the editorial boards at the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times…

FLORIDA GOVERNMENT GETS CREDIT FOR BEING MOSTLY DEMOCRATIC via Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald

Florida’s democracy is pretty, well…democratic. At least compared to other states … according to a new report out this month from the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The study looked at access to voting, representation in state government and the extent to which outside influencers can shape policy. Overall, Florida ranked 11th nationally, the only Southeastern state to crack the top half.

But the center points to failings that it says the Sunshine State ought to improve. Namely, Florida’s elected leaders aren’t very representative, they say.

Women are underrepresented among elected officials. And while minorities constitute 43 percent of Florida’s total population, they make up just 14 percent of the state’s elected officials.

Further, the center argues, Florida — and all states — should allow felons to vote after they’ve been released from prison.

There is one piece of good news, according to the center. Florida, more than any other state but Connecticut, has rooted out the influence of interest groups. That’s not to say there’s no influence of outside lobbyists, special interest groups and money in Tallahassee (and few in the state Capitol would successfully convince you of that), but it does mean Florida’s in a better place than many of its counterparts.

The other bright spot: At least Florida isn’t Alabama.

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Back to the campaign trail

IF THE FIRST GOP DEBATE WERE HELD TODAY, HERE’S WHO WOULD BE ON STAGE via Taegan Goddard of the Political Wire

First Read crunched the numbers from the last five national polls — two from Fox, one CNN, one NBC/WSJ, and one from Monmouth — and below are the polling averages. The first debate on August 6 is restricted to the top 10:

1. Jeb Bush – 15.4 %; 2. Scott Walker – 10.8%; 3. Ben Carson – 10%; 4. Marco Rubio – 8.8%; 5. Rand Paul – 7.6%; 6. Mike Huckabee – 7.4%; 7. Donald Trump – 6%; 8. Ted Cruz – 4.8%; 9. Rick Perry – 3.8%; 10. Chris Christie – 3.6%

NOT ON STAGE: 11. Rick Santorum – 2.2%; 12. Carly Fiorina – 2%; 13. John Kasich – 1.6%; 14. Lindsey Graham – 1.4%; 15. Bobby Jindal – 1.2%

JEB’S IOWA FORTUNES via POLITICO 2016 Blast

Nestled in a New York Times story about organizing force of super PACs: In Iowa, where JEB BUSH faces stiff resistance from conservatives, a senior Republican strategist said that before Mr. Bush announced his candidacy, his team discussed leaving some of the field organizing to a super PAC established by his aides. That would spare Mr. Bush’s campaign some embarrassment should he perform badly in Iowa during the caucuses by giving his campaign distance from the effort.

MARCO RUBIO JABS BOTH PARTIES IN ECONOMIC PITCH via Steve Peoples of the Associated Press

Rubio called for lower corporate tax rates, looser Internet regulation and broader college accreditation … in an economic policy speech that denounced the old ways of both political parties yet drew from the longstanding GOP belief that tax cuts are the key to growth.

Rubio jabbed at fellow Republicans, primarily for letting government grow so much in the 2000s, and Democrats, for policies that he said stifle job growth and “snuff out innovation” – namely, their push for a higher minimum wage and for tax increases on the wealthy.

“We need in this country a new president for a new age,” the Florida senator declared from the downtown Chicago offices of a digital startup. The nation would be better served … by embracing the “technological revolution.”

The forward-looking theme of Rubio’s address mirrors his campaign, which aims to distinguish him from leading competitors in both parties – Republican Jeb Bush and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton – whose families have been mainstays in American politics for decades.

He repeatedly criticized Clinton, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, by name.

“The race for the future will never be won by going backward,” Rubio said. “It will never be won by hopping in Hillary Clinton’s time machine to yesterday.”

TWEET, TWEET: @LearyReports: R and D sources make same point after @marcorubio speech: Lot of his ideas haven’t moved (or even been formally introduced) in Senate.

AMERICAN BRIDGE BRACKETS RUBIO: “The coverage Marco Rubio was envisioning today probably didn’t include a word salad non-answer about Donald Trump’s outrageous comments on immigration. But somehow the candidate who once championed immigration reform was caught flat-footed in an interview with FOX Business Network where he was asked to clearly denounce Trump. Watch Rubio’s wince-inducing answer, in which he reminds America he’s not even close to presidential material” Video here.

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN: “Is Florida the GOP’s Waterloo?” via Ron Faucheux of The Hill

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush will hold a town-hall meeting at a VFW in Hudson, New Hampshire. Rubio will be hosting four events in Iowa, including an event with Iowa State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann.

NEAL DUNN UNDER FIRE AS SOME REPUBLICANS ATTEMPT TO CLEAR THE FIELD IN FIGHT TO FACE GWEN GRAHAM IN 2016 via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Panhandle Republicans are beginning to size up who they want to run against U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democratic Party darling since she unseated incumbent Steve Southerland – a Tea Party favorite — in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District last November. And Republicans are already taking sides to see who is more conservative, in what could become a long, combative campaign.

Another name floated for consideration is Panama City urologist Dr. Neal Dunn. A longtime Bay County Republican and former Southerland supporter, Dunn was appointed by state Senator Don Gaetz in 2014 to serve as the Senate’s representative on the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors.

Dunn’s possible entry in the race, however, is not sitting well with some conservatives, namely Republican staffer and activist Charles Steen. Steen is a former Deputy Director of Party Development for the Republican Party of Florida, according to his LinkedIn page. The RPOF, by its usual policy, does not get involved in Republican primaries. In a recent email, Steen – who says he was a staunch supporter of Marco Rubio in 2010 (although undecided in the 2016 presidential race) — said he was “astounded … outraged” to learn Dunn was thinking of running for Congress as a Republican.

Dr. Dunn is a “Republican in name only,” Steen writes … he ticks off a laundry list of Dunn’s past support for Democrats, as well as questionable finances. Among Steen’s top concerns include a donation Dunn made in 2010 to Charlie Crist.

The final straw was this — a sin that no Republican seeking elected office should ever commit: according to state financial disclosure reports, Dunn owes more to Summit Bank than his net worth. But its Dunn’s support of “RINOs” over conservatives that has Steen steamed. “To me, this is unacceptable,” Steen’s email concludes, with a call to action. “If you agree, please let me know and we can form a group to help shed the light on this RINO.”

PERSONNEL NOTE via John Konkus: Mary Thomas has hired Adam Geller as a senior advisor to help her prepare for a mid-July announcement.  Adam Geller is the founder and CEO of the Republican polling firm, National Research Inc. He has been professionally involved in politics for almost 25 years. Geller served as advisor and pollster for former Congressman Steve Southerland who represented the Second District for two terms.

ALAN GRAYSON TARGETED BY SECOND ETHICS COMPLAINT via Matt Dixon of POLITICO

Grayson has been targeted by a second ethics complaint in as many days over his involvement in three hedge funds that use his name and include undisclosed investors, this time by a supporter of a Democratic rival.

A 16-page complaint filed … with the Office of Congressional Ethics alleges, among other things, that the Orlando Democrat violated a handful of ethics rules by failing to disclose potential income from the funds, and by using his name to boost their earning power.

The complaint was filed by St. Lucie County Democratic Chairwoman Celeste Bush, who is a supporter of Rep. Patrick Murphy’s U.S. Senate bid. St. Lucie County is in the congressional district represented by Murphy, who is widely expected to face Grayson in a Democratic primary for the seat being vacated by Marco Rubio, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president.

Grayson’s involvement in the hedge funds skirts congressional ethics rules … Grayson said those rules do not apply because he has no “fiduciary responsibility” over the funds, an explanation legal and business experts refuted.

The complaint says Grayson failed to disclose his investors and the value of the fund’s “underlying” assets on his 2013 congressional financial disclosure forms, “rendering it impossible for the public to identify where he may have a conflict of interest.”

Overall, the disclosure forms list five pages of assets including nearly 80 separate entities, including “The Grayson Fund.” That fund is listed as being worth between $5 and $25 million, but Grayson lists no income from the fund.

That is another point with which Bush takes issue. “This complete lack of reportable income calls into doubt whether Representative Grayson misreported the income he received from his overall interest in the fund,” the complaint reads.

GRAYSON SUPPORTERS STAND STRONGLY BEHIND THEIR MAN via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

By any objective standard, it hasn’t been a great week for Alan Grayson … The firebrand liberal Orlando Congressman learned … that a nonprofit watchdog group (the Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust) had filed a complaint against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding hedge funds he formed that bear his name. That was followed up by second ethics complaint  … filed by St. Lucie County Democratic Chairwoman Celeste Bush, a supporter of Patrick Murphy for Senate … alleges that Grayson violated a handful of ethics rules by  failing to disclose potential income from the hedge funds, and by using his name to boost their earning power.

And then there was South Florida Democratic state Senator Eleanor Sobel bashing the progressive icon, citing the latest revelations and his some of his provocative comments as a reason to endorse Murphy in the Democratic primary for the Senate race.

“I cannot, in good conscience, sit back and watch Alan Grayson continue embarrassing my party and my state,” said Sobel.

But if you expected these developments to alter the worldview of Grayson supporters, you simply don’t realize the positive passion that this congressman holds over progressives in Florida.

“Some of the allegations coming out about him and some of the things that he said, they don’t diminish what he has stood up for or fought for on behalf of the people of Florida and the people of the entire country,” says St. Petersburg progressive activist Kofi Hunt. “People say they want somebody who’s real, and who’s raw and who’s honest and doesn’t speak to them out of one side of their mouth or like they’re stupid,” Hunt continued. “Alan Grayson talks to you straight. He doesn’t have the sort of mask that a lot of professional politicians have. With Alan Grayson, what you see is what you get, and what we’ve seen over the years is a strong champion for working people all over this nation.”

“I’m more inclined to be embarrassed by the people who represent me and looking at how they vote, and Alan Grayson has always voted against his financial interests,” says Brooke Hinds with the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, referring to Sober’s comment as well as the fact that Grayson is among the wealthiest members of Congress.

Susan Smith, the president of the Progressive Caucus, is dismissive of the ethics complaints against the Orlando Democrat, calling them “old news” which she says is being spread by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “I think this just shows the desperation of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party,” she says.

UNIVERSION PUBLISHES OP-ED BY FLORIDA GOP CHAIR BLAISE INGOGLIA, EN ESPANOL via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

As the 2016 Republican presidential field bickers over Mexican immigrants and immigration reform … Ingoglia submitted an op-ed to Spanish-language television giant Univision about his party’s campaign for the White House.

Ingoglia doesn’t speak Spanish. But the party’s bilingual communications director, Wadi Gaitan, said Ingoglia can read it and understand some Spanish — and more importantly cared enough about reaching out to Hispanics to have his ideas shared in their language. Nearly 15 percent of Florida voters identify as Hispanic.

“Mothers and fathers, Hispanics and young people, all will have an opportunity to decide which candidate has the leadership and right plan for our country,” Ingoglia wrote (the translation is ours). “For that reason, the Republican Party of Florida is committed to having an open conversation about our vision of a better future, full of opportunities and economic growth.”

>>>Read the full op-ed here.

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RICK SCOTT DOWNPLAYS TENSIONS WITH LEGISLATURE OVER VETOES via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times 

The tension between … Scott and the Florida Senate in light of $461 million in budget vetoes has been well documented. State Senators have called his actions politically motivated and characterized his veto pen as inconsistent.

But you would not know anything is wrong if you asked Scott. Speaking to reporters … Scott was asked if he feels tension growing between him and other Republicans in Tallahassee.

“Oh gosh, we’ve had five good sessions … We’ve done 50 tax cuts. We have record education funding.”

Asked again about lingering bad feelings after some of his vetoes, Scott defended his actions by saying he is only doing what he was elected to do: watch out for the taxpayers.

“As you know, I ran to represent the 20 million people in Florida,” Scott said. “I’m going to continue to look out for their livelihood, their taxes. I’m going to make sure we spend their money well in this state.”

State Legislators have had a far different view of course. During a television interview in Orlando, Senate President Andy Gardiner said the governor’s vetoes, including a $15 million project for the University of Central Florida was a shot at their community. State Sen. Don Gaetz … also watched his Panhandle district lose millions of because of the vetoes.

“The governor kept his word,” Gaetz said after the vetoes last month. “He said he would punish the constituents of legislators who disagreed with him, and he kept that promise.”

SCOTT LAUNCHES EFFORT TO CLEAR ST. JOHNS RIVER, BOOST JACKSONVILLE’S PORT via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Scott … launched efforts to improve conditions on the St. Johns River for large container ships as Jacksonville gets ready for the Panama Canal expansion.

The state government has backed $43.5 million to clear the Mile Point currents which impact schedules for when ships can enter the St. Johns and port in Jacksonville. While members of the Florida congressional delegation, spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw … have been pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to handle the project, Congress has not authorized funds for it.

Back in early 2013, Scott urged state action, warning that Florida could not wait for the federal government to take the lead.

“Since taking office, my administration has invested more than $850 million in seaport infrastructure improvements in Florida, which has helped make our state a global trade leader and has created thousands of jobs,” Scott said … “In February, I was excited to announce that Volkswagen Group of America chose Jaxport as the location of its import facility and Southeastern distribution center, and in April, I announced Nestle USA was shifting a majority of their U.S.-to-Puerto Rico shipments from the Port of New York and New Jersey to Jaxport. We look forward to welcoming more shippers and businesses to Jaxport because of this important investment.”

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING — UTC EXPANDING WITH 380 JOBS IN FLORIDA via Christopher Keating of the Hartford Courant

Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. is creating 380 jobs and constructing a state-of-the-art building in South Florida after receiving incentives from the state, county, and local governments.

Gov. Scott … who came to Hartford 11 days ago on a recruiting tour, announced a $115 million capital investment in Palm Beach Gardens … for the UTC Center for Intelligent Buildings. Reports about the UTC move emerged in March – long before Scott’s trip to Hartford.

The deal involves buying 30 acres of land on the I-95 corridor in Palm Beach Gardens that is near three major international airports.

The UTC Building & Industrial Systems, which includes Carrier air conditioners and Otis elevators, is heavily involved in the latest technologies that reduce energy consumption. UTC has long had a major presence in the Palm Beach region of Florida, including engine and test facilities in West Palm Beach for Pratt & Whitney. In addition, Otis elevators has offices in nearby Jupiter, Fla.

The company announced … it “will receive incentives from the state of Florida, Palm Beach County, and the city of Palm Beach Gardens.”

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS TOUTING: Florida’s top five ranking of most fiscally healthy states by the Mercatus Center.

Gov. Scott: “Florida’s top five ranking of most fiscally healthy states is great news. By paying down debt, maintaining a healthy pension system, balancing our budget and building our reserves, Florida’s economy is growing so we can make important investments in our families and ensure our state is in great financial shape. Florida has become a global beacon for business, and created over 879,000 new private sector jobs in a little over four years. We will continue to work every day to make Florida the best place for business and to get a great job.”

VID DU JOUR — SCOTT HIGHLIGHTS JOB CREATION AT AEROSPACE PRECISION IN HOLLYWOOD: During a business development mission to the 51st Annual Paris Airshow, Gov. Scott announced that Aerospace Precision had completed its acquisition of Luchner Tool Engineering. With this acquisition, Aerospace Precision is moving Luchner’s aircraft maintenance tooling, engine tool and GSE manufacturing operations from San Diego, California to Hollywood, Florida, creating up to 25 new jobs on top of the current 40 employees in Hollywood. To view the video, click here.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce new jobs at a 9:30 a.m. press conference at BlueGrace Logistics, 2846 South Falkenburg Road in Riverview. Later, the Governor holds a 3 p.m. presser at CitraPac, 128 Authority Lane in Sebring.

FLORIDA CHAMBER APPLAUDS 9 LAWMAKERS BUT MOURNS ‘MISSED OPPORTUNITIES’ via Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its annual report card, a list of which lawmakers have found favor with the business group and which fell short.

Eight Senators and one member of the House voted 100 percent in line with the Chamber’s agenda, including a tax cut package and some of the health care bills (though notably not the FHIX plan to subsidize health insurance for the poor).

Here’s which lawmakers cracked the top of the charts with perfect scores: Sen. Thad Altman … Sen. Greg Evers … Sen. Rene Garcia … Senate President Andy Gardiner … Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville … Sen. Travis Hutson … who got an extra thumbs-up from the Chamber for his votes in the House before switching chambers in April … Sen. Garrett Richter … Sen. Darren Soto … Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights

Still, there are others the Chamber wasn’t so pleased with. Like House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach, who voted with the group just 33 percent of the time.

TWEET, TWEET: @JackLatvala: FL Chamber ratings are out. Must kill them that 4th yr in row I rank better for business than the Sen they’ve supported for Pres against me.

TWEET, TWEET: @MariaSachs: Nothing motivates me more than working for what’s right for the people of #Florida. Thanks for the A @FlChamber

TWEET, TWEET: @KeithPerry21: Honored to receive an A from the @FlChamber‘s Annual Legislative Report Card!

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GRAND JURY RIPS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AFTER DEADLY BEATING DEATH via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Matthew Walker was unconscious, handcuffed, face-down on the sidewalk, in front of a dorm at Charlotte Correctional Institution. The inmate had been beaten and his larynx was crushed so badly that his throat was swollen shut.

Lt. Tyler Triplett, blood on his white shirt, stood over him.

“Do you know who I am? I’m going to kill you mother——!” he shouted, so visibly angry that he had to be restrained by his supervisor, a corrections captain.

But corrections officers were busy tending to the minor injuries of two guards hurt during a melee with Walker, so they let him lay there, thinking that he was faking.

“Whatever game you’re playing, you need to get up and walk. My staff is too tired to do this,” the captain, David Thomas, told him, according to witnesses.

But Walker, 45, had already asphyxiated and, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday, over the next few hours, prison staff removed, contaminated or cleaned up most of the crime scene evidence. The officers gathered in a room, wrote their reports and, a few days later, met again at a convenience store near the prison, ostensibly to support each other after the ordeal, the report said.

In a blistering and graphic rebuke of the Florida Department of Corrections, the Charlotte County grand jury report stated that Walker’s death — ruled a homicide by the medical examiner — was “tragic, senseless and avoidable” and the result of a gross litany of failures by prison staff.

APPEALS COURT DISMISSES FLORIDA TEACHERS EVALUATION LAW CHALLENGE, UNION FRUSTRATED via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Florida’s teachers union expressed frustration with another legal loss in the attempt to overturn a 2011 law setting guidelines for teacher evaluations.

In a statement, Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andy Ford addressed the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. The court upheld the dismissal of a challenge to Senate Bill 736, a 2011 law that based teacher evaluations on test scores of either students they don’t teach or subjects that they don’t teach.

“We’re disappointed that the court did not agree that Florida’s flawed evaluation system violated these teachers’ constitutional rights,” Ford said.

The FEA and NEA joined seven teachers … to file suit in April 2013 … arguing that the process equates to a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In May of last year, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker threw out FEA’s challenges to portions of SB 736 … the appeals court upheld the lower court decision.

Although the court ultimately ruled against the teachers, the three-judge panel did agree that the system was flawed, but not constitutionally irrational.

FOR CHARLOTTE’S WEB HOPEFULS, THE SCRAMBLE IS ON AHEAD OF DOH LICENSE DEADLINE via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

The mood tonight is like an undergraduate’s finals week for a gaggle of commercial farmers hoping to grow the low-THC cannabis product Charlotte’s Web. 

Wednesday at 5 p.m. marks the deadline to submit applications for the first-ever legal licenses to grow marijuana in Florida.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health – which houses the Office of Compassionate Use, the agency in charge of implementing a 2014 state law authorizing use of the drug to treat certain chronic or terminal conditions – said they had only received two applications as of Tuesday evening, though they will review all applications submitted by the deadline.

That leaves perhaps a dozen or more growers expected to apply for a license to manufacture medical cannabis who are presumably finalizing their applications.

“It’s a ton of work,” agreed lobbyist Jeff Sharkey of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida. “It’s all coming to roost now.”

Ron Watson of the Florida Medical Cannabis Association, said that firms are more than likely working overtime to complete the applications, which have blossomed into massive, complex documents sometimes topping 1,000 pages.

CONFEDERATE FLAG FLIES AGAIN IN MARION COUNTY via News 13 Orlando

Marion County commissioners voted unanimously … to put the Confederate flag back up at the county’s government complex. The flag was removed … temporarily replaced with a flag with the seal of Marion County.

County officials said the decision to remove the flag last week was in response to growing controversy surrounding the flag following the shooting deaths of nine black men and women at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17. After the deadly shootings, Marion County’s interim county administrator, Bill Kauffman, consulted with County Commission Chairman Stan McClain and decided to remove the Confederate flag, which has flown outside the county’s government complex for more than two decades.

Within minutes of (the) vote, the Civil War-era flag was seen flying once again outside the government complex as one of the five national flags which have flown over Florida since European explorers first landed on its shores more than 500 years ago. The other four are Spanish, French, British and American flags.

Reaction was mixed last week when Marion County replaced the Confederate flag. Commissioner McClain said he plans to write a letter to Marion County’s Historical Society, asking for their assistance with markers to explain each flag’s historical significance.

“It’s a passionate issue on two sides,” said McClain. “What we are trying to do is interpret the historical relevance of this display we have. It’s either take the whole thing down, or try to use it as a historical tool from a historical perspective.”

The five flags currently fly over Marion County’s fallen officers memorial, something the commissioners agreed doesn’t make sense. So, the county may move all five flags somewhere else on the government complex where it will be easier for people to learn about the history of each one.

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DEAN ASHER ADDS $164K HAUL IN JUNE FOR SENATE DISTRICT 13 RACE via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Orlando Republican Dean Asher raised more than $164K in June, easily outclassing his competition in the race to replace term limited Senate President Andy Gardiner in District 13. Most of the money came through Asher’s newly-formed political action committee, Allegiant Friends for Florida. The committee’s inaugural month only brought in two checks, but they came from some deep pockets – the Realtors Political Advocacy Committee chipped in $100,000 and the Orlando Regional Realtor Association sent him another $49,000.

The remaining balance of $15,250 came in through Asher’s campaign account. The first-time candidate got $1,000 checks from five Disney subsidiaries alongside contributions from All Aboard Florida lobbyist Russell Roberts, Orlando City Commissioner Jim Gray and Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chair Frank Kruppenbacher. A slate of Orlando-area realtors and development companies rounded out the haul.

The June numbers far exceed Asher’s those posted by his Democratic opponent, Judge “Rick” Roach, who raised $4,733 through the same date. Asher’s Republican opposition, Chuck Sheridan, hasn’t filed his June campaign finance report yet, though it’s unlikely he’ll post anything in the same ballpark.

DONNIE HORNER RAISES NEARLY $45K IN FIRST MONTH OF HD 11 CAMPAIGN via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Republican Donnie Horner announced raising $44,450 in the first 27 days as a candidate in the crowded House District 11 race. Horner is seeking the seat to be vacated by term-limited Rep. Janet Adkins, which covers all of Nassau as well as part of eastern Duval County.

In a statement from his campaign … Horner highlighted the list of prominent supporters, including former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, former Gate Petroleum President Herb Peyton, businessman Peter Rummell and the members of the Frisch Family.

This big first-month push puts Horner, a Navy veteran and small businessman, in the fundraising lead with more cash on hand than all other District 11 candidates combined. So far, Horner faces fellow Republicans Cord ByrdJack DanielsBarry HollowayTom Taylor and Sheri Treadwell in the mostly Republican–leaning district. Previously, it was Treadwell, a Duval County elections staff member, with the lead in early fundraising, raising $19,100 since announcing her bid March 9.

SAVE THE DATE: Florida House District 30 candidate Ryan Yadav is holding a Campaign Kick-Off Event on July 22, beginning 5:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 2706 Wells Ave. in Fern Park. The host committee includes former House 29 State Representative Mike Clelland, former State Senator Gary Siegel, and former two term Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal. Yadav is challenging House District 30 Incumbent Bob Cortes for the seat covering parts of Orange and Seminole County.

LEGISLATIVE AIDE FIRED AFTER FILING FOR OFFICE via Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com

The state House campaign of Sajan Kurian has gotten off to an inauspicious start.

Kurian, a former legislative aide to state Rep. Shevrin Jones, was fired from his job when he filed papers to open a campaign last week. Jones … explains that Kurian promised not to begin a campaign for House District 92 in northeast Broward County at this time.

“He has been terminated as of last Friday,” Jones tells Browardbeat.com.  That was two days after Kurian filed. If that isn’t bad enough for Kurian, Jones is endorsing Kurian’s opponent, Whitney Prescott Rawls. 

“I’m endorsing Whitney Rawls,” Jones says. “He’s been a family friend for years, and I’m the Godfather of his son.  It’s a weird place to be in, because Sajan was a great guy in the office. But, my loyalty lies with Whitney.”

District 92 is currently held by Gwendolyn Clarke-Reed … who is term limited next year.  She is running for state Senate against former state Rep. Perry Thurston.

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: RIGHT-WING LOSSES, DOG DAYS OF SUMMER AND VACCINATIONS 

Today on Context Florida: Martin Dyckman says it is amusing, in a wry sort of way, to witness the tantrums and hear the gnashing of teeth in right-wing circles over the several big cases they have just lost at the U.S. Supreme Court. Spare them no sympathy. You might think that losing has become more than they can bear. For Major League Baseball fans like Dan Tilson, “Dog Days of Summer” describes the sultry stretch of the six-month regular season when many a contending team has historically succumbed to accumulated stress, fallen into a slump and out of contention. For other folks, that phrase describes any prolonged stretch of steamy summertime when lethargy, stagnation and heaven forbid, a losing streak can set in. Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a provision that says California parents can no longer claim “personal belief” as a reason for not vaccinating their children. Since the law’s passage, Julie Delegal says the “debate” over vaccines has re-emerged, accompanied by the specter of a purported link between immunizations and autism. There’s not one, and doctors won’t waste any time putting parents who say otherwise in their place. But does the rehashed vaccine debate, in which frightened parents with autistic children are vilified as “anti-science,” deserve all of our attention?

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to RPOF Executive Director Brad Herold, Moore Communications’ Courtney Cox, and Tim Nungesser.

TWEET, TWEET: @TravisJHutson: 7/715 Tyler David Hutson (R) happy healthy baby and mama.

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.