Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – July 9

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. And for those who follow Florida politics, today is Christmas in July…

MARCO RUBIO SUPER PAC RAISES MORE THAN $16 MILLION via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

The super PAC supporting Marco Rubio plans to announce it has raised more than $16 million since early April, when he announced his presidential bid — essentially doubling the soft-money totals raised for the Republican this year.

“We’ve definitely benefited from the strong response to Marco Rubio’s first few months on the campaign trail, allowing us to exceed all our goals for the first half of the year,” Warren Tompkins, head of Conservative Solutions PAC, said in a statement …

“More than that, things are setting up very well for the second half of the year, ensuring we’ll have the resources we need to share Marco’s conservative vision with voters,” he said. “Donors see what Hillary Clinton sees, that no one matches up better against her, no one is better positioned to defeat her, than Marco Rubio.”

Tompkins, a former business partner of Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan, is an adviser to a nonprofit with a similar name called Conservative Solutions Project. It reported earlier this week that it raised $15.8 million and placed $3.3 million on a nationwide cable, radio and digital ad buy. Conservative Solutions PAC has not yet spent any money on advertising but is expected to soon. All told, the PAC says it has $15.95 million cash on hand after pulling in a total that exceeded $16 million.

The total raised by the two committees: almost $31.9 million. Total cash in the bank between them: almost $28.5 million.

In the soft-money race, that total likely puts Rubio in third place behind fellow Floridian Jeb Bush (who is expected to raise the most) and fellow Sen. Ted Cruz (whose super PACs said they raised $38 million). Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose allies told the Washington Post they raked in $20 million, is likely behind Rubio in soft money raised. In national polls of the crowded GOP race for president, Rubio is running fourth, with about 9 percent support, according to Real Clear Politics averages of recent surveys.

RUBIO GETS NO LOVE FROM NY TIMES READERS REGARDING HIS OP-ED ON CUBA via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

The New York Times gave … Rubio prime time real estate in its op-ed section to denounce the Obama administration’s diplomatic overtures to the Cuban government … nothing new from Rubio, who has been critical of any type of engagement with Cuba, going back to a few years ago when officials from Tampa began making noises about getting plane flights directly to Havana.

… Rubio says that the administration has made a “Faustian bargain,” not just with the Communist government of Cuba, but also with the Communist led government in China and Vietnam as well … “Instead of the administration’s approach — one-sided concessions that have served only to reward Cuba’s rulers despite their lack of reform — we should be stating clearly what reforms America expects before we deepen ties …”

A quick look at the comments section on the Times website shows that the Cuban-American lawmaker is receiving little love from Times readers.

“The U.S. on right side of history? Saudi Arabia? The world’s largest women’s prison. Egypt?” wrote Linda Torquiest from Andes, Peru. “Rubio is making a Faustian bargain with his Cuban-exiled cronies to quash the truth in exchange for political power. The word “charlatan” comes to mind.”

“Senator Rubio, might I suggest that you look at several of the former Warsaw Pact nations for inspiration on the transition from communism to democracy?” Chuck W … writes. “We maintained relations with these companies in spite of communist governments … Using your criteria for relations with countries and using the two examples that you provide, I guess we should sever our relations with the People’s Republic of China and Viet Nam.”

Some gets personal.

A man … from Yucca Valley wrote, “According to news reports and his own statements, Marco Rubio cashed in his retirement plan to buy a refrigerator. I’m not looking for economic, political, or sage insight from someone who can’t even qualify for a payment plan.“

MARCO’S AD BUYS via Steve Shepard of POLITICO

Rubio’s tally of pre-booked TV airtime in the four early caucus-and-primary states now stands at $12.9 million after the Rubio campaign added spending in New Hampshire, including on WMUR – which had previously declined to sell him airtime, hoping to secure more favorable rates for the station, according to reports. Rubio says he intends to run a cost-conscious campaign, and the pre-bookings are meant to help him get more bang for his bucks. The latest tallies:

Iowa: $4.7 million from Nov. 24Feb. 2; New Hampshire: $4.2 million from Dec. 1Feb. 9 (including $1 million on WMUR); South Carolina: $3.8 million from Dec. 15-Feb. 20; Nevada: $175,000 from Jan. 26-Feb. 23.

— “Rubio in Iowa: I’m no Obama” via Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post

BAD JEB — ‘PEOPLE NEED TO WORK LONGER HOURS’ via Elliot Smilowitz of the Hill

Bush said in an interview … that “people need to work longer hours” to help grow the economy.

According to ABC News, Bush was asked a question about tax reform during an interview live streamed on Periscope, and said he believes the U.S. can achieve 4 percent growth.

“Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows,” Bush continued. “It means that people need to work longer hours.”

The Democratic National Committee said Bush’s remarks were “easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we’ve heard so far this cycle,” according to ABC.

GOOD JEB — BUSH ADDRESSES ‘TRAGEDY’ OF HEROIN EPIDEMIC, CITING DEATH OF CAMPAIGN WORKER’S BROTHER via the Huffington Post

The growing epidemic of heroin overdoses is emerging as a key public policy issue for the leading presidential candidates in both parties.

Bush said … that he’s been peppered with questions on the campaign trail about how to tackle substance abuse and that the issue has had a personal impact on his staff. Bush confided that the brother of one of his campaign workers died from an overdose, as did the sons of two workers he recently encountered in New Hampshire.

Heroin abuse has indeed approached tragic dimensions in recent years, with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention finding a quadrupling in the number of overdose-related deaths between 2002 and 2013. In Vermont, the crisis is so bad that the governor devoted his entire State of the State address in 2014 to combating the heroin crisis.

… Bush didn’t offer any specific new suggestions for fighting heroin abuse. But he noted that as governor of Florida, he expanded treatment programs, emphasized drug courts and polled 50,000 young people to get a better understanding of alcohol and drug habits in the state.

BUSH LANDS DAVID TEPPER; NJ AND NY STOPS SHOW STRENGTH IN CHRISTIE COUNTRY via Ken Kurson of the Observer

Bush is coming to New Jersey for two fundraising stops on July 23, as has been well reported … So that’s not news. With the invitations now available, what’s newsworthy is the strength of the host committee, which is studded with NJ fundraising royalty. The biggest get is surely David Tepper, the Livingston billionaire who ranked as the highest paid hedge fund manager two years in a row, notching $3.5 billion in 2013 alone.

Also on the list are previously reported heavy hitters like Gail GordonCheryl HalpernGeorge KleinHersh Koslov, Sen. Joe Kyrillos, and Woody Johnson. With an expectation that co-chairs will find 10 “max out” donations of $2700 each, and a total of 36 co-chairs, the pair of events is looking at $972,000 as a reasonable target. But according to one of the co-chairs, the Bush team will be “thrilled” with even $400,000-500,000 between the two events, saying “Remember, it’s not a fair fight in Chris Christie land.” That amount would compare favorably to the approximately half a million Hillary Clinton raised at an event starring Jon Bon Jovi in Monmouth County earlier this summer, and she’s not competing against a sitting NJ governor.

The defection of Tepper has got to hurt, not only because he lives in Christie’s boyhood hometown of Livingston, but also because he had been an early and generous supporter of Christie’s education reforms, having put what the Star-Ledger described as “money – a lot of money” into “Better Education for Kids.” Tepper had even appeared with New Jersey first lady Mary Pat Christie to promote the effort.

WANT TO KNOW WHO’S WORKING FOR JEB & MARCO?

Who works for the 2016 campaigns? Where did they work before? And where are they going next? Your answers here, in National Journal’s handy—and only a little creepy—Staffer Tracker.

ALAN GRAYSON TO CHALLENGE PATRICK MURPHY FOR DEMOCRATIC NOM FOR U.S. SENATE SEAT via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

A close friend and major Democratic Party donor says U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is launching a campaign for the seat U.S. Rubio is giving up.

Trial lawyer John Morgan said Wednesday that Grayson told him by email that he is running for Senate. Rubio is not seeking a second term because he’s running for president. Grayson will announce his decision today.

VIDEO DU JOUR: Morgan says Grayson running for the U.S. Senate is “political suicide.”

HOW GRAYSON’S ANNOUNCEMENT IS PLAYING

Associated PressGrayson to announce bid – “… set up a primary pitting a darling of the far left wing of the Democratic Party against lesser-known U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a former Republican who is running as a moderate.” POLITICO, Democrats’ primary nightmare comes true: Alan Grayson runs for Senate – “Next year’s Florida Senate primary … will test whether Sunshine State Democrats are ready to embrace a deep-blue liberal.” Orlando SentinelGrayson expected to announce for Senate – “Grayson’s entry would go against the recommendations from some establishment Democrats, including (attorney JohnMorgan … ‘Alan, you’re a very smart guy … [but] you do not understand what you are doing.’” Miami HeraldJohn Morgan says … he has “snowball’s chance in hell” of winning Senate race – “Morgan said he doesn’t believe Grayson can win a statewide general election race … it would be a ‘shame’ to lose his national progressive voice.” POLITICOAlan Grayson set to announce Senate run – “long list of potential Democratic candidates for the Central Florida congressional seat … vacated by Grayson. Senator Darren Soto … said because it’s an open seat, the primary could turn into a ‘circus with maybe six or seven candidates.’” Miami New TimesAlan Grayson to announce whether he’ll make senate race interesting tomorrow – “Grayson might be the most interesting man in Florida politics … could make the race one of the most interesting to watch in the nation.”

MY TAKE: THANK YOU LORD FOR HAVING GRAYSON RUN FOR THE U.S. SENATE

With all due respect to serious prayer, I just have to say what is on the mind of every political pundit in the state or anyone who loves reading about Florida politics. As Grayson (D-No Filter Whatsoever) enters the race for U.S. Senate, we are thrilled.

Yes, we are all bowing our heads and doing a Tim Tebow at our respective desks.

“Dear Lord, thank you! Thank you!”

Are we so very grateful because we know Mr. Grayson (D-I can’t stop talking) will be such a fine Senator? No.

Are we buoyed by the prospect of a spirited debate on the issues that matter to average Floridians? Puh-lease.

Come on people! When was the last time we had a candidate call a reporter a “shitting robot?”

As weird as it was – and it was VERY weird – I bet every reader of this blog either Tweeted about it or at least told someone (using the nearly extinct kind of social media known as actual face-to-face communications) within minutes of reading about it.

And yes, most of us can recite the “Republicans want people to die quickly” line, but let’s pause – genuflect if you must – at a few of his more memorable quotes:

  • “Scientists have studied for years this difficult question of why some people have a conscience and some people don’t. Some people are called Democrats and some people are called Republicans.”
  • “These are foot-dragging knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.”
  • “Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict.”
  • “I have trouble listening to what [Dick Cheney] says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth…”

Can you even make that stuff up?

So as a writer-blogger-purveyor of political eye-candy, thank you Mr. Grayson.

And on behalf of my colleagues, we want you to know that your entry into the U.S. Senate foray is proof that there is a God and that he loves us – he really loves us.

ANALYZING THE LATEST GRAVIS MARKETING POLL SHOWING GRAYSON LEADING MURPHY: BETWEEN A HALF AND FULL SHAKER OF SALT via Steve Vancore and Peter Schorsch on Florida Politics

The recently released Gravis Marketing poll of the Florida Presidential Preference Primaries and the U.S. Senate races is truly confounding.

On one hand, it appears thorough and reasonably well-conceived. On the other, it has some very serious problems that all but make the poll useless and even misleading … large numbers of voters and was conducted using so-called “robo-calling” technology (also called “IVR technology”), which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for simple test ballot questions.

This poll’s major problems stem from its sampling breakdown — and that calls the validity of the results into question.

The first thing that jumps off the page are the results themselves … How on earth does Alan Grayson go from being largely unknown and (in other polls) sitting in the high teens or low 20’s, to a shocking 63 percent of the vote? (Mason-Dixon recently had Grayson at 14 percent and Public Policy Polling had him at 22 percent.)

Gravis sets the stage in the prologue by claiming the following: “The numbers reflect and confirm several recently released survey’s [sic] from other public opinion research groups that show the upward trend of Florida Congressman Alan Grayson … Grayson was the beneficiary of an unlikely ally in recent weeks when the conservative Club for Growth unexpectedly launched a statewide media buy…”

… moving from 22 percent to 63 percent is hardly an “upward trend” and is more like an in inexplicable explosion.

TWEET, TWEET: @SteveSchale: Best thing about #GraysonForSenate is my buddy @SenDarrenSoto can run for Congress. He will make Orlando & Florida proud!

PATRICK MURPHY RAISED ABOUT $1.4 MILLION THIS QUARTER via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald

Murphy raised over $1.4 million in the second quarter of the year.

Campaign finance reports will appear on the Federal Election Commission website July 15 but Murphy’s campaign gave Naked Politics an early summary of how much money he raised between April and June.

The Murphy campaign reported that more than 3,000 new individuals gave to the campaign giving an average individual contribution of less than $200.

The campaign raised about $1.3 million during the first quarter and ended the second quarter with over $2.5 million cash-on-hand.

Several Democratic Senators and Representatives gave to Murphy this quarter including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Gwen Graham of Florida.

Also contributing to Murphy this quarter was Senate Democratic Whip Richard “Dick” Durbin as well as Democratic Senators Kirsten GillibrandCory BookerTim KaineMark Warner, Patty Murray, Ed MarkeyMichael Bennett, Barbara BoxerJack ReedDebbie StabenowMartin Heinrich, Sheldon WhitehouseRon WydenTom CarperChris Coons and Al Franken.

WHAT THE NRSC THINKS OF THE FLORIDA SENATE RACE via a memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee

“Republicans’ performance in years past demonstrate the historic success of Republicans statewide in Florida. Republicans have won the last four gubernatorial elections and Sen. Rubio won the seat in 2010 by 19% of the vote. Furthermore, Florida Republicans are coming off an extremely successful 2014 cycle. In addition to Gov. Scott’s victory, the three other Republican members of the Florida Cabinet won reelection with margins ranging from 13% – 17.8%. Republicans picked up six seats to win a super-majority in the Florida House of Representatives as well. Republicans also hold 17 of the 27 U.S. House seats in Florida.

“As the Rothenberg Gonzales Political Report recently pointed out, the last Democrat to win a Senate race not named Bill Nelson or Bob Graham was Lawton Chiles in 1982. The DSCC’s anointed candidate, Patrick Murphy, has little name ID outside of his home district and discontent among progressives could fuel a bitter primary in a state with 10 media markets. DNC Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz specifically mentioned a number of Florida mayors as potential alternatives to Murphy. Also, the Florida Democratic Progressive Caucus is urging controversial Rep. Alan Grayson to enter the race.

“Republicans won open Senate races in 2004 and 2010 and we’re confident that we will hold the seat in 2016. Republicans will have several options to choose from. Rep. Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy in May and Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Rep. Jeff Miller appear to be close to making a decision regarding the race … Public polling in Florida demonstrates two things conclusively: that none of the Republican or Democratic candidates are well known, and that Barack Obama’s approval rating is significantly inverted.”

ALREADY? — COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST CLC via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

The American Democracy Legal Fund, a Democratic watchdog group, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera

From ADLF: Publicly available news reports indicate that Mr. Lopez-Cantera has decided to run for U.S. Senate.  On June 20, 2015, Mr. Lopez-Cantera said he will announce whether he is running on July 15, but it is clear from his actions that he is running for U.S. Senate and his decision has already been made.  Mr. Lopez- Cantera is unequivocally undertaking activities designed to amass campaign funds to be spent on his election.  Mr. Lopez-Cantera is delaying his launch so that he can solicit unlimited contributions to his super PAC to support his candidacy.Mr. Lopez-Cantera has qualified as a candidate under the Act, and he has violated the Act by failing to (1) register as a candidate with the Commission and (2) raising money in excess of the legal contribution limits.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: “Does Lopez-Cantera agree with his boss on (Donald) Trump’s racist comments?” via Max Steele of the Florida Democratic Party.

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR DAVID JOLLY’S SEAT HAD TWO HOMESTEAD EXEMPTIONS IN DC, MARYLAND via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times

Since last year, Eric Lynn, the lone announced Democratic candidate running to replace David Jolly in Congress, had separate homestead exemptions for properties in Washington D.C. and Maryland, a double tax break that violates the laws of both jurisdictions.

The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue lists Lynn as having a homestead exemption for a condo near Dupont Circle which he bought for nearly $700,000 in 2007, according to the office’s records. The exemption saved him $606.90 in 2015 property taxes, records show.

Yet until this week, Maryland’s department of assessments and taxation listed another home in Rockville as his primary home, allowing him to save another $692 in 2014 property taxes, records show. The Lynns paid $715,000 for the home in September 2013.

The problem? A homeowner can qualify for only one exemption.

According to the Lynn campaign, it’s all a misunderstanding. Because of dueling taxing schedules, there was just one year Lynn had two homestead exemptions, his campaign says.

Only after his campaign was contacted by the Tampa Bay Times did Lynn refund $606.90 to the D.C. tax office … blaming it for not properly processing his 2014 request to have the exemption removed.

An official in the D.C. tax office told the Times … before the refund was paid, that no one had applied to remove the homestead exemption.

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FLORIDA FOURTH IN PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTMENT, RANKING SHOWS via Nancy Dahlberg of the Miami Herald

Private equity firms invested $33.9 billion in 178 Florida companies in 2014, ranking Florida fourth nationwide for private equity investment (measured in dollars), according to new rankings released by the Private Equity Growth Capital Council.

Now in its fifth year, the “Private Equity: Top States and Districts” analysis found that private equity and growth capital invested $486 billion in 3,139 U.S.-based companies nationwide. The analysis, which ranks the top 20 states and congressional districts by investment value and number of investments, found that California received the most investment in 2014 followed by Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois.

The U.S. private equity industry in the U.S. comprises nearly 4,000 investment firms. Companies backed by U.S. private equity firms employ 11.3 million people in the U.S. and 19.6 million people worldwide, according to the Private Equity Growth Capital Council.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING — BLUEGRACE LOGISTICS TO HIRE 100 FOR TAMPA HEADQUARTERS via Cameron Saucier of the Tampa Bay Times

BlueGrace Logistics, a transportation management company, will add 100 new jobs at its Hillsborough County headquarters.

“More than ever, top talent from across the U.S. wants to make Tampa their home,” BlueGrace CEO Bobby Harris said … “We couldn’t be more excited to further our investment in expanding in this market.”

Harris said the new jobs will be in accounting, technology and legal services. The jobs will pay a minimum average wage of $54,664.

In February, the Hillsborough County Commissioners approved a $60,000 incentive package, on top of a $240,000 commitment from the State of Florida through the Qualified Target Industry program. The performance-based incentives, totaling $300,000, will be allocated over six years. The funds will only be paid after BlueGrace creates the promised jobs without going below the minimum $54,664 set wage.

BlueGrace sells its clients a web-based transportation management system called BlueShip. The software consolidates companies’ shipping resources and offers freight services.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS TOUTING: Gov. Scott announced that CitraPac will open a new manufacturing facility at the Sebring Airport, creating 240 new jobs. The new 37,000 square foot facility will be constructed at the Sebring Commerce Park and will add a capital investment of $14 million to the region. To view the video of the announcement, click here.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce new jobs at a 10 a.m. press conference at Industrial Lighting Products, 519 Codisco Way in Sanford. Later that afternoon, the governor will attend the 6:30 p.m. awards ceremony for Florida’s 2016 Teacher of the Year at the Hard Rock Live in Universal Orlando, 6050 Universal Boulevard.

PAM BONDI SAYS STATE REACHES MULTIMILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENT WITH JPMORGAN CHASE BANK via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Attorney General Bondi said … U.S. financial giant J.P. Morgan Chase has agreed to a multimillion dollar settlement over its collection and sale of credit-card debt.

The bank agreed to pay $4.6 million in restitution to more than 5,000 customers in Florida, with an additional $1.6 million going to the state’s general fund.

With more than a dozen representatives of Florida nonprofit groups standing behind her, Bondi also said $15.3 million will go to 47 different nonprofits to be used for legal services, financial literacy and other programs related to assisting Floridians with managing debt.

Florida gets $21.5 million of a national $136 million settlement that Chase made with 47 states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was announced Wednesday.

J.P. Morgan has been accused of relying on robo-signing and other methods of collecting debt from consumers that they may not have owed and of providing inaccurate information to debt buyers, an area regulators have scrutinized in recent years at several financial-services firms.

“It’s basically a sloppy process that they were using,” Bondi said. “They would send people without folks knowing into litigation and then into collection.” She also said they were obtaining legal rulings against Florida residents who had no idea it was happening.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, along with 47 states and the District of Columbia said they found that J.P. Morgan sold “zombie debts” to third-party debt buyers that included accounts that were inaccurate or in some way not collectible. The order requires J.P. Morgan to overhaul debt sales and half collections on 528,000 consumers’ accounts.

DEP SECRETARY STEVERSON HEADLINES FLORIDA ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE 

Hundreds of environmental, infrastructure and land development professionals are gathered this week in Orlando to help plan Florida’s future during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 29th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Jon Steverson kicked off the opening day luncheon with a keynote address on DEP’s strategic vision and goals as well as an introduction to his leadership team.

The Florida Chamber Foundation predicts 9 billion gallons of additional water will be needed per day by 2030 in order to meet the needs of Florida’s growing population. For that reason, water planning and sustainability projects will be a major focus of future planning conversations.

During the event, environmental experts will discuss solutions that address water needs as well as the impact Florida’s Water and Land Conservation Amendment will have on Florida’s water future. The three-day event will also include current trends in federal environmental enforcement, policy directions for growth management, strategic planning and permitting for development, how to meet the state’s 75 percent recycling goal and other topics.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Three issues will be taken up in the Florida Capitol: The Budget — State economists will hold a 9 a.m. meeting to discuss the post-session forecast for General Revenue and major trust funds in Room 117 of the Knott Building. Florida’s population — The state’s Demographic Estimating Conference meets 1:30 p.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building to discuss state population numbers. The U.S. Economy — The  Economic Estimating Conference meets 10 a.m. on Friday to discuss the national economy in Room 117 of the Knott Building.

KEY WEST SAYS IT WILL ARREST UBER DRIVERS via Jessica Weiss of the Miami News Times

Now that Uber has announced it will suspend operations in Broward effective July 31, Key West commuters are wondering if the island town could be the next domino to fall for the ride-sharing app in South Florida.

Last week, the city threatened to arrest any Uber drivers operating there. There have been no arrests yet, but city spokeswoman Alyson Crean says Uber drivers should heed the warning.

Uber launched in Key West in December amid opposition from local cabbies who claim the drivers should be forced to hold a mandatory city vehicle-for-hire ordinance, as do taxis. The city has 56 of those licenses, and all of them are already issued to taxi companies.

Crean says the city has been issuing warnings to Uber, as well as promoting an awareness campaign, over the past several months. But nothing has changed. Because of the undisclosed nature of Uber vehicles, any arrests will likely stem from citizens or cabbies who spot Uber drivers and call police to complain.

“If a cab driver is at a cab stand and he sees an Uber pick someone up, he may call the police,” she says.

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BILL GALVANO KICKS IN BIG MONEY TO HELP SENATE REPUBLICANS via Gary Fineout in The Fine Print

We are now six months into the second term of Gov. Rick Scott -and a nearly as much time into the new reality that greets Republicans in the state.

This Friday will mark an important milestone since Scott, the Republican Party of Florida and Senate Republicans went their separate ways back in January.

On Friday, the RPOF and the affiliated committee associated with the Senate will post their second quarter numbers.

It’s this report – followed by the third quarter one in early October – that may give an accurate picture of just how serious the fallout has been over the last few months.

As everyone knows Republican Party activists rejected Leslie Dougher, Scott’s hand-picked selection for party chairman. In anticipation of the schism, party leaders loyal to Scott and Senate Republicans transferred large amounts of money into separate fundraising accounts.

Since that time Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political committee has kept a fairly robust fundraising and spending regimen. It was the entity that helped put together Scott’s well-attended presidential summit in Orlando and spent money on television ads touting Scott’s agenda. But that’s money not heading into the coffers of the party which is now headed up by Rep. Blaise Ingoglia.

Meanwhile, this year’s legislative session went haywire due to a dispute over health care, which resulted in a special session to pass a new budget and caused an even larger split between Scott and some GOPers.

Scott’s fundraising reports show that in cash alone he has raised nearly $2.1 million during the year. This doesn’t include the $580,000 that was transferred from party accounts shortly before Ingoglia took over or the more than $250,000 that Disney donated for travel, food and beverages associated with the summit that the governor held at the start of June.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: GOP state Senators are raising money at a Downtown Disney Cirque Su Soleil LaNouba performance and dinner at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn in Orlando.

11 STATE SENATE CANDIDATES TO WATCH AS THE FUNDRAISING REPORTS ROLL IN

Florida candidates face a Friday deadline for filing reports showing their campaign finance activity through June 30.

While some reports are already public, here are 11 candidates to watch as the fundraising reports roll in.

How fat is Matt Gaetz‘ wallet? With Bay County Commissioner George Gainer expected to file soon to challenge him for the Senate District 1 seat, Gaetz would like as far a head start as possible. He’s currently at $563K raised; did he get to $600K? One thing is for certain, Jack Latvala, expected to be a backer of Gainer, will be watching to see how much Gaetz raised.

In District 5, Republican state Reps. Dennis Baxley and Jimmie Smith are both running to replace state Sen. Charlie Dean, and so far Baxley is winning. Through May, the Ocala lawmaker had raised $143,825 to Smith’s $56,997. Baxley’s burn rate is also lower – when measuring cash on hand he beats Smith $123,000 to $34,496. Both candidates’ fundraising was probably hamstrung by having to be in Tallahassee for Special Session, but Smith needs to start closing the gap on Baxley.

Dean Asher is already turning heads in the race for Senate District 13, having raised through his campaign and his committee, more than $164K in June. Will that be enough to keep current Senate President Andy Gardiner’s wife, Camille, from entering the race? Probably not.

If Pinellas’ Darryl Rouson is going to beat Hillsborough’s Betty Reed for Athenia Joyner’s Hillsborough-centric District 19 seat, he’ll need to have at least a two- or three-to-one cash advantage, no matter how sluggish a campaigner Reed is. Both candidates are off to a slow start. Let’s see if either turned on the fundraising charm post-Session.

The same situation is playing out in District 31, where Democratic state Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed is facing off against former state Rep. Perry Thurston. The Broward County seat, currently held by state Sen. Chris Smith, is probably his for the taking. He sits at $31,950 in contributions through the end of May. Clarke-Reed filed for the seat in early June, so there are no fundraising numbers for her yet.

One seat in which the cash is already flowing is Senate District 23, where Republican state Reps. Matt Hudson and Kathleen Passidomo are running to replace Naples Republican Garrett Richter. The latest campaign finance reports put Hudson at $231,588 and Passidomo at $91,000 cash on hand. A third candidate, Gary Price, filed for the race in May and posted an impressive $64,250 in contributions his first month. Price may leverage the fact that he wasn’t involved in the early Sine Die to vault past Hudson and Passidomo, but it’s hard to predict how that strategy will play with voters this far out.

JOE GRUTERS TO REPORT HEAD-TURNING $87K FUNDRAISING HAUL Full story here

Joe Gruters will report raising more than $87,000 for his House District 73 campaign … That figure would rank Gruters, the Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, as the third-highest monthly fundraising total of any legislative candidate this cycle.

Gruters was already shaping up to be a shoo-in to replace incumbent Rep. Greg Steube – who is leaving the seat to pursue Sen. Nancy Detert‘s Senate seat – in HD 73, which takes in large inland portions of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

But the staggering fundraising effort Gruters has put together will only lead to further speculation of Gruters possible ascendance to leadership within his caucus.

That would be another coup for the House within the RPOF, who is chaired by another party official/lawmaker in Rep. Blaise Ingoglia. Ingoglia, who memorably bested … Scott‘s hand-picked candidate to assume leadership, handed off fundraising duties to Gruters and another member of the state party brass during 2015’s Legislative Sessions due to a prohibition against fundraising during the annual lawmaking period.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: Colonial Management Group, LP

Jon Conley: Department of Juvenile Justice

Jack Cory, Keyna Cory, Erin Daly Ballas, Public Affairs Consultants: The Chamours Company TT

Carole Green, Ashley Stacell, Capitol Strategies Consulting: Loveland Center, Inc.

PERSONNEL NOTE: JEAN VAN SMITH JOINS FLORIDA HOSPITAL’S GOV’T RELATIONS TEAM

Florida Hospital has added Jean Van Smith to its government-relations team. Van Smith previously served as chief legislative assistant to state Sen. David Simmons.

In her new role as senior manager, government relations, Van Smith will focus on representing Florida Hospital’s Central region with key local and state elected officials.  She will assist in the development of public policy strategy initiatives, represent Florida Hospital before local chambers of commerce and organizations critical to Central Florida.

“Jean brings a depth of knowledge of the legislative process that is unmatched, and she will be a tremendous advocate on behalf of Florida Hospital and our patients,” said David Christian, executive director of government relations. “Jean’s experience will assist Florida Hospital’s government relations department as we engage in significant public policy debates in Florida’s capital in the coming years. She will bring a unique perspective and knowledge of our region to her position, along with key relationships that will further our agenda of ensuring Floridians have access to care, ensuring affordability and improving health outcomes.”

PERSONNEL NOTE — JONATHAN BEATON LEAVING NEWS TO START ORLANDO BASED PR FIRM via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer

Former Orlando radio reporter and anchor Jonathan Beaton is leaving his position at the CBS television affiliate in West Palm Beach to start a public relations firm in Central Florida.
Inside Advantage PR will specialize in media relations, social media management and crisis communications.

“I couldn’t be happier to make the move back to Central Florida, I truly consider Orlando to be my adopted hometown,” said Beaton.

The UCF alumni spent more than three years working as a reporter and anchor for Cox Media Group owned 96.5 FM WDBO. During that time, Beaton also freelanced for ABC Radio and provided contributing work for CNN Headline News.

He’s spent the last year as a television reporter for CBS 12 in West Palm Beach.

REST IN PEACE — LONGTIME FLORIDA EDUCATIONAL POLICY STAFFER DEBORAH GALLAY DIES via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

One of the Florida Capitol’s most respected insiders, Deborah Gallay, died … She was 66.

Gallay’s extensive public service career included positions in the Executive Office of the Governor, the Department of Education and Board of Regents, which later became the Board of Governors and staff director of Senate Finance & Taxation. Never one for the spotlight, Gallay was well-known her impact as both a lobbyist and consultant on higher education issues.

Her most recent role was as private consultant and Associate Vice President of Florida International University, playing an important role in FIU’s growing reputation.

Throughout her career, she remained a strong advocate for education policy, even as she cherished her anonymity.

“You probably never heard of her and that is exactly the way Ms. Gallay liked it,” says Kathy Betancourt, a friend and fellow lobbyist. “She was one of the State Capitol’s highly respected, behind-the-scenes staffers. In later years she maintained her professionalism and strength of character as a lobbyist/consultant on higher education issues.”

“Gallay’s skills and high ethical standards are embodied in a wide array of initiatives,” she added.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: FLORIDA’S LONG SLIDE, THE N-WORD, DIVERSITY AND THE SALT SHAKER RETURNS

Today on Context Florida: Florida has taken a slow, sad slide under Gov. Rick Scott, says Marc Yacht. The effective selling that government is bad and can’t do anything right has been the mantra of conservative Republicans who have accomplished little more than devastate services and purge many talented state employees. That’s their legacy. It’s a given that every decent American was horrified by the act of a white racist shooting up the black church in Charleston. But Steven Kurlander says the president had a need to take it a step further, to allege, wrongfully, that racism continues to flow through our collective American veins of its citizens. Instead of continuing to focus on the horrific racial killings by a lone racist gunman in Charleston, and examining the growing hold of white supremacy as a mantra for disenfranchised and poor whites, it became all about the use of a very politically incorrect use of the word “n—-r.” Vanessa Lopez-Littleton wonders whether the need for workplace-diversity initiatives is an indicator of an underlying societal issue. If so, could a more comprehensive approach to diversity serve as a catalyst for social transformation? Steve Vancore and Peter Schorsch analyze the latest Gravis Marketing poll in the return of the Salt Shaker Test. On one hand, polling appears thorough and reasonably well-conceived. On the other, it has some very serious problems that all but make the poll useless and even misleading. How on earth does Alan Grayson go from being largely unknown and (in other polls) sitting in the high teens or low 20’s, to a shocking 63 percent of the vote? The verdict: Between half and a full shaker.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

THIS IS HOW TO SEE WHO UNFRIENDED YOU ON FACEBOOK via Rachel Zarrell of BuzzFeed News

It’s always alarming to search for an old friend on Facebook only to realize they have since unfriended you. Now, you can save yourself a little mental anguish with an app that shows you in real time who’s given you the Facebook boot.

Aptly named Who Deleted Me, the program is available as an app for iOS and Android or as a browser extension for Google Chrome.

Just like the Twitter app Who Unfollowed Me, the program tells you whether a friend has unfollowed you or just deactivated their account.

The apps launched a few weeks ago, but the extension has been around in some form since 2009.

Who Deleted Me only starts tallying your friend totals once you’ve downloaded it, so you can’t get a read on past friendships lost — only the platonic breakups that happened after signing up. And as an extra stalking bonus, you can also see the last time your friends logged on to the social network.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ken Cashin, PR maven April Salter, and our very own Bob Sparks.

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.