Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — June 3

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

DAYS UNTIL… Sine Die: 19; MLB All-Star Game: 41; Debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens: 198; First day of 2016 Legislative Session: 223; Iowa Caucus 243; Super Bowl 50: 249; New Hampshire Primary: 251; Super Tuesday: 272; Florida’s presidential primary: 286; Close of federal candidate qualifying: 338; Florida’s primary elections: 454; 2016 Election Day: 524.


In the GOP race for the 2016 presidential nomination, new polling shows Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush leading the pack, although no one candidate has emerged as a clear frontrunner.

As it now stands, a new CNN/ORC 2016 poll has the race shaping up with some warnings for Democrat Hillary Clinton, as well as a few concerns for Bush, the Republican Party’s highest profile contender.

Rubio tops the field at 14 percent, with Bush closely behind at 13 percent. Huckabee and Walker have 10 percent each, trailed by Cruz (8 percent), Paul (8 percent) and Carson (7 percent) – each bordering on the double-digit support mark.

As for the candidate who would best represent the future of the Republican Party, three-quarters of voters say it is Rubio (77 percent) or Walker (75 percent), while almost 7-in-10 say the same for Paul (68 percent).

Both Bush (51 percent) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (51 percent) are seen by respondents as far less likely to be the candidate representing the future.

More than half of all survey respondents — 56 percent — say Jeb Bush’s connection to two former presidents would make them less likely support him for the presidency. Twenty-seven percent say his family connection makes them more likely to support the former Florida governor. With Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 42 percent are more likely to back Jeb Bush because of his family connections; 38 percent say family relations make it less liable to vote for him.


Bush and Rubio were the home-state stars at a GOP economic gathering that drew a half dozen White House hopefuls to a Disney World convention center – Rubio, tied up by Senate business, appeared by video.

They are so heavily favored in the March 15 primary next year that some rivals are considering bypassing Florida’s race. But they showed up Tuesday.

Rubio offered the audience an indirect but unmistakable barb at Bush, who spoke later.

“While our economy is transforming, our policies and our leaders are not,” Rubio said. “Our outdated leaders continue to cling to outdated ideas.”

The 44-year-old Republican did not name Bush or Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. But the implication was clear in a 2016 campaign that contrasts a group of younger political leaders and the two older figures whose families have dominated national politics for decades.

“It’s kind of hard to imagine that my good friend, Marco, would be critical of his good friend, Jeb,” a sarcastic Bush said with a smile after acknowledging to reporters there would be “elbows and knees” thrown in the race. “This isn’t Tiddlywinks we’re playing.”

He continued: “If I’m a candidate, I want to be the guy to beat.”


In a stump speech mixed with equal parts his normal economic development talking points and presidential politics, Scott … kicked-off his one day Orlando summit that will feature the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination.

“The likely next president is going to be speaking today,” Scott told an audience of business leaders invited to the event.

… The summit is a showcase for Scott, who sits in a powerful position as the sitting governor of the nation’s largest swing state headed into 2016. That’s not lost on the speakers.

“Anything I can do to suck up to him and his donors I’ll do,” Huckabee said during his speech.


RUBIO KICKS OFF SUMMIT VIA VIDEO — In a five-minute videotaped message from Washington, Rubio kicked off … with a quick summation of some of his ideas to turn around the American economy if he’s elected president next year. He began with his familiar tale of how his Cuban immigrant parents came to this country … he’s met many people who remind him of his mother and father … then threw in a lot of large numbers, saying that since 2008, federal regulations have cost the U.S. economy $740 billion. “We have more businesses dying than starting,” he bemoaned.

MIKE HUCKABEE IS ALL ABOUT THE FAIR TAX — The so-called “fair tax” is a concept that’s been around for about 15 years … replace all federal taxes with a simple consumption tax on all retail sales. Mike Huckabee spent most of his 34-minutes on the stage … spouting this concept, saying that it’s the single biggest factor that will allow the U.S. economy to thrive. A Florida resident himself (he now resides in Santa Rosa Beach in the Panhandle), he sounded a bit like Scott in boasting how successful Florida has been in recent years. “Eight hundred and three people a day move into the state of Florida,” he said proudly.

>>>Huckabee: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul should quit U.S. Senate” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

SCOTT WALKER DENIES HE’S NOT GOING TO CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA — It was big news in the Sunshine State political world last week when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told talk-show host Laura Ingraham … “I don’t think there’s a state out there where we couldn’t play in, other than maybe Florida …” But Walker said … that comment was misinterpreted, and that – if he becomes a candidate – he believes his message resonates everywhere, including Florida.

“Let me clear about that – the media suggested that I would do that, I never said that. What I said is … if I were to run, we could compete anywhere in the country, the only pause I give is in deference to two favorite sons here in Florida, that I thought that Governor Bush and Senator Rubio certainly would have a competitive advantage over anybody because of their presence as favorite sons … but if I didn’t think I could compete, I wouldn’t be here today.”

RICK PERRY CONTINUES HIS BROMANCE WITH RICK SCOTT — Everyone knows that Scott and former Texas Governor Rick Perry have had something of a bromance … much of it regarding their competition to see which state has added more jobs over the past four years. Perry praised Scott several times during his thirty-minute presentation … that Scott knew health care, and that he was doing the right thing in not wanting to expand Medicaid. Now on the eve of his expected announcement … he spoke about the power of federalism … touted executive experience at the state level … boasted that over the past 14 years, over a third of all the jobs created in the country were in Texas … about high school graduation rates …

CHRIS CHRISTIE TALKS ENTITLEMENT REFORM — Chris Christie’s road to the White House looks rough right now … the fact that he said … he’ll be giving a major speech on immigration reform later this month indicates that BridgeGate be dammed, it’s full speed ahead for 2016. … Banking that his frankness about reforming Social Security and Medicare is what will inspire Americans to respond to him in the primaries next year. … As a government “we’re making choices that our hurting our future.” … mentioned how funding for the National Institutes of Health is up by only .1 percent this year, while Medicaid spending is up over 16 percent. He said that all of the things that led to the tech and bio-tech boom in this country “we can’t even imagine right now,” because of the vast amounts devoted to entitlements.

BUSH SAYS GOP NOMINEE CAN’T AFFORD TO TRASH OPPONENTS TO WIN IN 2016 — Bush made it clear … that if he runs for president, his intention is to run on his record and his ideas to win the presidency, and to just be part of the conversation “There are motivations for every candidate. Mine would be to win, and I know the only way one wins in a two-person race, is to get to 50 percent, and I know in order to get to 50 percent you can’t tear down the 40 percent or 35 percent. It’s just that simple.” … Speaking before so many friends, it appeared to be sort of victory lap as he recounted all that he had accomplished in Florida as governor from 1999-2007. He added that the state had a “passion for reform,” as he recounted his work in education, and the economy, proudly boasting of his “Veto Corleone,” nickname for how he reduced the size of government. “Government didn’t grow faster than people’s incomes,” he reminisced.

— “Photos: Jeb Bush stars in governor’s summit at Disney” via Joe Burbank of the Orlando Sentinel

HOW THE SUMMIT PLAYEDMSNBCJeb Bush finds the magic at Disney – “… Bush found some magic at Disney … speaking comfortably and boldly … ‘My intention is to run on my record and my ideas … not to make a point, not to have my voice heard.’” Wall Street JournalBig 2016 Stars, Little Action … – “… a forum that offered few contrasts and no fireworks. … Lacked drama because … it could have been a showdown between two native sons … Rubio and … Bush.” New York TimesJeb Bush on His ‘Good Friend Marco.’ Rubio, That Is. – “Rubio railed against ‘outdated leaders’ in a recorded video … Bush said he did not think the remarks were directed at him. ‘It’s kind of hard to imagine that my good friend Marco would be critical of his good friend Jeb … ‘” Bloomberg Politics, Long-Shot Republican Presidential Hopefuls Flatter Rick Scott – “… some long-shot candidates used the event as an opportunity to ingratiate themselves to the invitation-only crowd of several hundred Republicans … With such a target-rich environment, some of the candidates didn’t even attempt to conceal their intentions.” CBS NewsJeb Bush jokes about GOP’s crowded 2016 field – “’We’ve got 75 people running I think, last time I checked?’ He asked. ‘I haven’t checked how many people announced today.’” ABC NewsRepublicans Flock to Florida – 5 Takeaways – “There’s a fight over Social Security … Scott wants everyone to campaign in Florida … Candidates push back on the notion that they won’t campaign here … GOPers seem to know they have to make up ground with minorities … Rand Paul vs. the GOP — it’s still a thing.” CNNScott Walker in Florida: “We could compete anywhere in the country, and we’d compete to win” – “… he wouldn’t leave the Florida GOP primary out of his calculation, after suggesting … he might cede the state to let Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio battle it out.” Washington PostJeb Bush sharpens attacks on potential 2016 rivals – “… slipping behind lesser-known rivals and losing claim to the front-runner status … Bush enjoyed rare home-field advantage …”

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN: “Huckabee: I wish I could have claimed to be transgender to ‘shower with the girls’ in high school” via Business Insider


NOT THE BUSH YOU THINK HE IS via Jennifer Senior of New York Magazine

Jeb Bush is more ruthless than he looks, more conservative than moderates like to believe, and possibly more appealing to Latinos than Marco Rubio. … A substantial gulf between the Jeb Bush who served two formidable terms as Florida governor and the man who’s recently earned himself gleeful comparisons to Dan Quayle.

The Jeb Bush of town halls and Hampton Inn meet-and-greets is confident, alert, quick-witted: At “Politics and Pie” in New Hampshire, when a voter nervously began to ask, “Governor, having been the former governor of Florida —” Bush cut him off: “You too?”

Instead of emerging as the inevitable candidate, the former governor finds himself in a Republican primary field of eight, and it could billow to as many as 15. … Jeb has underwhelmed the base — in Iowa, he polls in seventh place — and revealed himself to be far less polished on the hustings than his supporters had anticipated, particularly when answering questions that force him to navigate between family loyalty and a rational foreign policy.

George W. has poisoned the Bush-family name with a horrific war in Iraq, and the tea party has poisoned the GOP with its assault on rational discourse and nuanced policy. A charismatic bright young thing from the governor’s home state is nipping at his heels. Yet this may be Jeb’s only moment to jump into the fray. As blessed as he is, the ultimate political prize — lucky timing — seems to have eluded him in a way it never did his less talented older brother, even his father. But what can he do? It is what it is.

ALAN GRAYSON WANTS KIDS TO LIVE WITH HIM via Mike Schneider of the Associated Press

Grayson wants his four children ages 10 to 16 to live with him, claiming their mother’s behavior has been “bizarre, aggressive and inappropriate,” according to papers filed last week in a Florida divorce court.

Grayson said … he should be the sole decision-maker for the children’s education, medical issues and activities because Lolita Grayson is unwilling to communicate with him on those matters. He accused Lolita Grayson of being abusive to the children, using money designated for child support for her own use and inadequately taking care of the children. He also claimed Lolita Grayson has physically blocked his car and banged on the hood and had at times denied him contact with his children.

The couple have a 16-year-old, a 14-year-old and 10-year-old twins, as well as an adult child who is not subject to the custody dispute.

“Shared parental responsibility is not a viable outcome in this case,” Grayson said in the court filing.

The Graysons agreed to the annulment after Alan Grayson found proof that Lolita Grayson hadn’t yet divorced her first husband when they had a wedding in 1990.

For her part, Lolita Grayson asked for shared parental responsibility and child support, and that Alan Grayson pay her attorneys’ fees. She also asked a judge to stop Grayson from selling any assets, saying she needed time to figure out “the extent of the assets to which she has claims to.”

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Months of frustration over stalled health care talks came to a head … as a Florida Senate committee berated the governor’s Medicaid chief for playing politics, and then subjected him to withering criticism over his lack of “quantitative analysis” of their bill.

“You know where you’re supposed to be and it’s right here in this committee room,’’ boomed Sen. Tom Lee … chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to Justin Senior, the Medicaid director for the Agency for Health Care Administration who scrambled to the meeting after senators publicly complained about him being a no-show.

Lee accused him of being “derelict in his duty’’ … intentionally misrepresenting the economic impact of the Senate’s health insurance plan during testimony … as the Senate sought input about its plan to cover the uninsured, “neither your agency nor boss have been helpful in this process at all.’’

“I apologize,’’ Senior responded, but repeated his assessment that the Senate plan would not guarantee increased coverage. … The structure of the premiums would likely mean that only “a small sliver” of the 800,000 uninsured in Florida would be covered because there would not be enough participants who could afford to pay the premiums and meet the Senate’s required work requirements.

Senior’s comments contradict the testimony of the legislature’s chief economist, Amy Baker, whose analysis showed that the Senate plan would cover as many as 650,000 of the uninsured and save the state $1.1 billion over 10 years.

TWEET, TWEET: @SkylarZander: I don’t envy Justin Senior today, that guy does not get paid enough. After this though he will have great name ID.

TWEET, TWEET: @SusanGoldstein: Wow! Never, ever have I seen such a reaming! AHCA reps will be at EVERY Senate Health Committee meeting from here on in.


The new issue advocacy group called Florida Strong continued to target Florida House members … with the release of its web ad, “Disgraceful,” that strings together clips from television news reports after the House adjourned early and featuring Rep. Richard Corcoran and his memorable speech on the House floor pledging the House was “not dancing” with the Senate over proposals to expand health insurance.

… [T]he group is committed to “educate constituents and remind elected officials of the in-district cost of inaction … will continue to provide the public with the tools and information needed to hold their elected officials accountable.”


Tom Lee, the Senate’s chief budget writer, told reporters following a Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday afternoon that “frankly, Amendment 1 is a big deal and deserves more attention than it’s gotten.”

“One of the big unanswered questions is whether or not there’s going to be any bonding that’s done,” Lee said. Nearly $81 million was available for water and land projects because of bonding.

“If the Senate agrees to bonding, how is that money going to be allocated? Is it going to be allocated to land acquisition or water farming or whatever it is that’s being proposed…. We don’t have a water policy bill. I can tell you, it’s of some concern to us that we would pump a lot of Amendment 1 into a system for which there is no science to measure the process. That was a big component of the Senate water policy bill. But it’s early still in Week 1 of a three-week session.”

The Amendment 1 comments were made after Lee said that House and Senate were working through staff and were getting “a little closer” to agreeing to allocations. Lee said the chambers were working though staff and that, aside from health care funding, work remains to be done on  Public Education Capital Outlay funding–money spent on educational facilities–bonding and Amendment 1.


Floridians would get a small tax break on their cellphone bills under a new tax cut package proposed by House Republicans.

A House panel on Tuesday voted in favor of a nearly $300 million proposal. The House voted for a nearly $700 million package of tax cuts during the regular session earlier this year.

The tax cut bill approved by the House Finance and Tax Committee includes a three-day back to school sales tax holiday. It also includes a sales tax holiday for college textbooks.

The measure would save Floridians about $10 a year on their cellphone bills. Gov. Scott had proposed a $43 cut.

TOP OP-ED: “Floridians deserve better than Senate’s Medicaid expansion” via Scott Plakon for the Orlando Sentinel


Scott signed another 17 bills into law, including provisions to make abuse of elders by their guardians much rarer. … The guardianship bill (HB 5) … change how courts appoint guardians and ensure their wishes are protected.

HB 7 … provides certain exemptions from public records requirements for court records relating to the settlement of a claim on behalf of a minor. HB 27 … authorizes the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to accept a military personnel identification card as proof of a Social Security number when applying for a Florida driver’s license or identification card.

HB 213 … provides that a property appraiser’s budget shall be funded once the Department of Revenue makes its final budget recommendation. HB 239 … prohibits the use of certain medications on racing animals. HB 305 … provides a mechanism for the removal of an unwanted guest who has unlawfully remained in another person’s residence.

HB 329 … authorizes the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to issue new special use license plates for Combat Action Ribbon, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, World War II Veteran, Woman Veteran, and Navy Submariner. HB 641 … provides for the use of amusement games and machines, the award of points, coupons, prizes, and replays … limits the use of amusement games and machines to certain locations.

HB 715 … removes the prohibition of certain improvements to major structures from being eligible for Citizens Property Insurance coverage … revises provisions regarding coverage for major structures that have undergone specified changes after a date certain.

HB 779 … requires 30 days’ notice to a tenant before they may be evicted from a foreclosed home. HB 7019 … changes the name of Workforce Florida, Inc. (WFI) to CareerSource Florida, Inc. throughout Florida Statutes. SB 7061 … provides an exemption from public records requirements for information held by an agency investigating violations of the Florida RICO Act.


Gov. Scott is vetoing bills designed to beef up convenience store security and give additional protections to customers of Citizens Property Insurance.

The store security bill (HB 755) would have required family-owned convenience stores to follow certain security measures that are already in place for stores owned by large vendors. Scott said he vetoed the bill because it would a place a “significant new financial burden” on small business owners.

Scott also vetoed a property insurance bill (HB 1087). South Florida Republicans sponsored the bill in order to help out current and former customers of Citizens. The state-created Citizens is the largest property insurer in the state.

The governor argued the legislation undermined ongoing efforts to shrink the size of Citizens.


Negron‘s political committee is expected to post raising about $620,000 for the Treasure Coast Alliance (TCA) — an impressive haul in just two weeks’ time, signaling Negron’s Senate President bid is as strong as ever.

Insiders say his fundraising haul is a reflection of the hard work of Negron, his team and his pledges. Those advisers also tell me he and his team are focused on winning the five open Senate seats in 2016, to increase the Republican majority and defend all Republican incumbents.


Law and advocacy firm Jones Walker announced that it’s continuing its growth into Florida markets, adding a Monroe Street office in Tallahassee, around the corner from the Capitol.

“Jones Walker … office is located in the Tallahassee Central Business District and Marc Dunbar will continue to serve as the Office Head … committed to strategic growth in Florida, the new office downtown expands the firm’s footprint in Florida, giving us direct access to lawmakers and government agencies while allowing us to serve our clients in the Tallahassee region,” said Marc Dunbar, head of the firm’s Tallahassee office.

The Jones Walker team in Tallahassee includes: Marc Dunbar, a partner in the firm’s Business & Commercial Transactions Practice Group; Daniel Russell, special counsel in the firm’s Business & Commercial Transactions Practice Group; Christopher Moya, director of the firm’s Government Relations Practice Group; and Emily Duda Buckley, a member of the firm’s Government Relations Practice Group.


The Maverick Political Action Committee … named Florida Republicans Jason Fischer and Darrick McGhee to its annual “Future 40 Award.”

Maverick PAC is the Republican-affiliated political advocacy organization of more than 3,500 young legal, business and civic leaders with 20 chapters nationwide. The group’s goal is to promote candidates and advance conservative issues. Future 40, now in its third year, recognizes professionals as current and future leaders in both business and politics.

McGhee serves as a lobbyist for Johnson & Blanton, and has more than 13 years of experience in government, including as former director of legislative affairs in the Executive Office of Gov. Rick Scott. Fischer currently is a member of the Duval County School Board, and is campaigning to replace term-limited Republican state Rep. Charles McBurney in House District 16, which covers parts of downtown Jacksonville and Duval County.

Other Floridians named to the Future 40 are attorneys Alan Florez of Daytona Beach, Vennia Francois of Orlando and Harout Jack Samra from Miami.


Laura Boehmer, Southern Strategy Group: Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc.

Mark Flynn, Bridges of America: Pathfinder Communications

Deborah Keller: The Nature Conservancy

Shelli Solomon: Children of Inmates, Inc.


Drivers, start your engines and steer yourselves on down to the local DMV. The new NASCAR specialty license plate is waiting for you.

Sketched in shades of yellow and blue, the plate shows three race cars rounding a banked turn before a packed stadium. Florida, the birthplace of NASCAR, first offered a specialty plate for the sport in October 2007, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

All offices around the state should have the plates in stock by the end of the week. Sales revenue will go to the NASCAR Foundation, which funds statewide charities and Enterprise Florida, Inc.


It’s an age old tradition, and Bob Buckhorn and Rahm Emanuel are following suit … respective mayors of Tampa and Chicago are making a bet on the results of the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League championship which faces off tomorrow evening between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning from Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Buckhorn is putting a case of Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale as well as 122 (mini) Cuban sandwiches and the Original “1905” Salad from the Columbia Restaurant against Chicago’s 122 slices of Eli’s cheesecake, a case of craft beer from Slap Shot Brewing, a mustard fried catfish and peach cobbler from BJ’s Market and Giordano’s best deep-dish.

In addition to the food and drink, the two Democrats have agreed to also make a contribution to an organization of the winning mayor’s choice. Mayor Emanuel has chosen Becoming A Man — BAM — an organization for at risk young men in grades 7 through 12. Mayor Buckhorn as selected the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.


About 61 percent of millennials say they got their political news in the last week from the social media site, compared with 37 percent who said they got it from local television. Interestingly, those proportions were nearly exactly mirrored by baby boomers; 60 percent said they got their political news from local television, versus 39 percent who said they got it from Facebook.

For millennials, the next most common source of political news is CNN, (44 percent) followed by local television (37 percent), Google News (33 percent), ABC News (32 percent), Fox News (30 percent) NBC news (27 percent), Yahoo News (27 percent), MSNBC (22 percent) and CBS News (19 percent).

For Gen Xers (those born between 1965 and 1980), Facebook was the most common place for political news followed by local television (46 percent), CNN (45 percent), Fox News (36 percent), NBC News (35 percent), ABC News (32 percent), MSNBC and CBS News (27 percent), Yahoo News (35 percent) and NPR (21 percent).

For baby boomers, local television, NBC News and Fox News make the top three sources for political news (60 percent for local and 47 percent for each NBC and Fox). ABC, CNN, CBS News, Facebook, MSNBC, PBS and NPR round out the list.

Overall, Pew found that millennials were less aware of media outlets than the other generations except for two places: BuzzFeed and Google News out of a list of 18.  Despite being familiar with BuzzFeed, millennials expressed more distrust than trust in the site, placing it alongside Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Breitbart.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.