Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – June 5

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

DAYS UNTIL… Sine Die: ???; MLB All-Star Game: 40; Debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens: 197; First day of 2016 Legislative Session: 222; Iowa Caucus 242; Super Bowl 50: 248; New Hampshire Primary: 250; Super Tuesday: 271; Florida’s presidential primary: 285; Close of federal candidate qualifying: 337; Florida’s primary elections: 453; 2016 Election Day: 523.


[S]ome of the findings from the latest Fox News poll on the 2016 presidential election … no true frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination – and not all the candidates in the poll have declared yet. … Three Republicans receiving double-digit backing from GOP primary voters: Jeb Bush and Scott Walker each receive 12 percent and Ben Carson gets 11 percent.

They are followed by Rand Paul at 9 percent, Ted Cruz at 8 percent, Marco Rubio at 7 percent, fMike Huckabee at 6 percent and Chris Christie at 5 percent. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Donald Trump get 4 percent each.

Carly Fiorina and John Kasich also each garner 2 percent.

Bush alone has the distinction of being in the top five of both the “definitely” and the “never” vote for lists.

The priorities of Republican primary voters have changed significantly since last time around.  Forty-six percent say economic issues will be most important in deciding their vote for the GOP nomination.  That’s down 30 percentage points from the 76 percent who said the same in 2011.  And 36 percent now say national security will be their deciding issue — more than four times the 8 percent that said so four years ago. For 12 percent, social issues will be most important, up from six percent.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton remains the clear frontrunner for the nomination with 57 percent support among self-identified Democratic primary voters. Still, that’s down from 63 percent last month, and marks only the second time in more than a year that support for Clinton is below 60 percent.  Her highest support was 69 percent in April 2014. At the same time, support for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders nearly doubled, from six percent last month to 11 percent now.  He was at 4 percent in April.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @JebBush: Coming soon…

JEB BUSH TO ANNOUNCE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN PLANS JUNE 15 via Ali Elkin and Michael Bender of Bloomberg

Bush will announce his presidential campaign plans on June 15 at Miami Dade College, and has said he will probably decide to seek the same job his brother and father held.

It would be Bush’s first campaign since he won re-election in 2002 in Florida. The 62-year-old native Texan has spent the last decade tending to his education foundation, serving on multiple corporate boards, and occasionally appearing on the campaign trail with fellow Republicans.

That hiatus is what Bush’s allies point to in trying to explain his refusal to announce a campaign earlier, and instead spend the past six months building a national political network and helping his super-PAC collect donations in unlimited amounts.

Once Bush is an candidate, he’ll be subject to a $2,700 limit on contributions and be prohibited from coordinating with the PAC. The PAC, which is expected to be run by his long-time adviser Mike Murphy, had aimed to collect $100 million in the first three months of the year. Its first finance report is due in July.

Bush’s announcement, at the college’s campus in Kendall, a Miami suburb, will come two days after he returns from a three-country, five-day tour of Europe. Bush will spend the week after the Monday announcement on the road in states with the earliest presidential nominating contests, returning to Florida on June 19 for the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner in Tampa.

In an interview on Tuesday on Fox News, Bush was asked what might dissuade him from entering the race. “Not much,” he answered. “I’m pretty excited about the prospect, but I just wanted to go through this in an orderly fashion.”

“Governor Bush is thankful for the support and encouragement he’s received from so many Americans, and is excited to announce his decision,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said Thursday.


Now that the cat is (almost) out of the bag, Bush wants to celebrate his big announcement with some of the people who helped him get there. And if by “there,” he possibly means the increasingly crowded 2016 GOP presidential race, nearly six months after he “actively” began exploring a White House run.

In an email invite … alumni of the former Florida governor’s political career are invited to a pre-announcement reception on June 15. The event is from 2-2:45 p.m. at the Kendall Campus of Miami Dade College; the announcement is scheduled for 3 p.m.

AFTER MAKING IT OFFICIAL, BUSH TO HIT THE ROAD via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Bush will begin a tour of early primary states on June 16 … He’ll go first to Derry, N.H, then visit Pella, Iowa, on June 17; then Charleston, S.C., on June 18; and Henderson, Nev., on June 26, his campaign said. His son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, will be in Las Vegas on June 17.

JEB’S BIG CHALLENGE IN 3 CHARTS here via The Wall Street Journal


Rubio was … on a New Hampshire radio program and was asked about Bush’s announcement news and whether he could beat the former governor in the state’s first-in-the-nation primary.

“Look, there’s multiple people running that I think are going to be credible candidates and obviously, Jeb is one of them. But there will be others that are going to raise money and have a good message,” Rubio said on AM 610 WGIR. The host barely engaged Rubio, however, and Rubio said he would stick to his own game plan and talk about an “optimistic” but “realistic” future. “I’m going to go out and do the best I can and I believe if we do that, we have an excellent chance to be both the nominee and the next president.”

Rubio told the host he is in New York (for fundraising) and then criticized Rand Paul over the NSA issue, saying the Kentucky rival was “wrong” about the civil liberty argument. “I had no problem with the existing program,” Rubio said.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Bush will attend an awards dinner for his wife Columba’s educational organization in Miami. Rubio will address the Idaho Republican Party summer meeting in Idaho Falls.


Alan Grayson has done it again, and this time it’s more than just foul language. He could be facing a violation of Congressional ethics rules, which prohibit the use of official House phone numbers for fundraising.

The Florida Congressman and outspoken liberal once more irritated senior House Democrats; now it is over a fundraising email that slams members of his own party who support a controversial trade bill.

Grayson’s misguided money pitch urges supporters to “petition your government to redress your grievances” for a pending vote giving President Barack Obama “Fast Track” powers to move the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress. The vote is currently within the House Democratic Caucus.

Grayson’s message continues: “According to public reports, the 18 Democratic Members of Congress listed below are leaning in favor of voting for ‘Fast Track,’ legislation that would prevent Congress from debating or amending whatever the Executive Branch calls a ‘trade bill.’ As a public service, we provide you their office phone numbers,” followed by a list of names and numbers.

The email, signed “Courage, Alan Grayson,” suggests readers visit ActBlue, a liberal-leaning fundraising website, where they are then asked to give any amount from $10 to $2,700. As noted in the 2008 House Ethics Manual, any political communication, primarily written solicitations for contributions, “should not include any House office addresses” or telephone numbers.

In an interview … Grayson, who is considering a challenge to Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democratic establishment favorite in the Florida U.S. Senate race, defended the email. He insisted that it was not “disrespectful” and accused the media of dramatizing the TPP debate.

FUN READ — THE RISE OF THE SINGLE-LETTER POLITICAL LOGO via Hunter Schwarz of the Washington Post

When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announces his presidential candidacy in three weeks in New Orleans, he might well be looking out into a crowd of supporters with campaign signs with only a “J.”

Jindal’s “J,” which has been used as the logo for his exploratory committee, would be the latest example of campaigns bucking the traditional spell-out-the-whole-name logo for something more minimalist. When it comes to campaign design, using just a letter or two is in.

The most memorable letter-as-logo is Barack Obama’s “O,” but before him, Hubert H. Humphrey used a triple “H” in 1968, and one iteration of George W. Bush’s 2004 logo used just the “W.” In 2012, Mitt Romney used an “R,” and this year, Hillary Clinton is going with an “H,” former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley sometimes uses an “O’M” instead of spelling his name out, and Rick Perry has a “P.”

Single letters are optimized for our smartphones, whether that’s for a button on our home screen or an avatar on social media. We see that with O’Malley, who spells out his last name for his logo on campaign signs, but uses the “O’M” for his Twitter profile. Both, by the way, are set inside what resembles an iMessage text bubble.

Single letters also work well in a crowded market. Just as strong corporate logos help products and their associated brand attributes stand out in our mind and on store shelves, strong campaign logos can quickly help voters recall candidates’ message and brand. Clinton’s “H” brings to mind moving forward (and/or to the right, not the left, as people have pointed out online), O’Malley’s “O’M” is a conversation, Perry’s “P” is a “The More You Know” star, and Jindal’s “J” … well, it kind of looks like a remixed Obama “O,” cut up, stretched, and reworked in Photoshop.

In a presidential campaign that now has a dozen officially declared candidates and counting, politicians must set themselves and their brand apart from their competition. The logo is one way they do that, and increasingly with as few letters as possible.

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The White House Council of Economic Advisors released an analysis that shows expansion would reduce the state’s uncompensated care costs by $790 million in 2016.

The report also shows that expanding coverage would result in an estimated 100,000 additional Floridians reporting being in good health and 69,000 fewer residents would suffer depression.

The findings in the report — dubbed Missed Opportunities: The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid — show that the projected number of Floridians receiving preventive care would increase if Medicaid were expanded and that in 2016:

•109,300 more people would have preventive cholesterol screenings;

•31,200 women would have mammograms, and;

•46,100 women would receive papanicolaou smear test.

The estimates are based on a traditional Medicaid expansion as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act, which is different than  the Florida Senate’s proposed FHIX plan that  would place work requirements on newly eligible enrollees as well as require co-payments for care.

The report does not identify the state’s uncompensated care costs, just the projected savings under expansion. To help offset the high costs of uncompensated care Florida has been able to have a supplemental amount of Medicaid funding called Low Income Pool. LIP funding was one of the main reasons the Florida Legislature could not resolve draft a budget for the 2015-16  year during the regular Legislative Session.

Other findings in the report: Medicaid expansion would mean an additional 2 million plus physician visits each year and  another 100,000 Floridians would be relieved from financial stress by no longer having to borrow money to pay medical bills or to skip payments on other bills in order to pay medical expenses.

The study also suggests that 750,000 people would have access to health care who don’t have it today.


The Florida House … began its consideration of the state Senate’s Medicaid expansion proposal, but the plan’s fate soon bubbled up like a Magic 8-ball answer: “Don’t count on it.”

House sponsor Mia Jones, a Jacksonville Democrat, was cross-examined for nearly three hours by successive members of the Republican majority, who mostly teased out the plan’s perceived flaws.

Speaker pro tem Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican, pointed out that Medicaid already consumes nearly a third of the state’s $77 billion budget and questioned how much more it would cost under expansion.

Jones, the House Democrats’ second-in-command, said it would increase the budget but couldn’t immediately say by how much.

Still other Republicans decided not to bother: At one point, the entire front row of the chamber’s top GOP members was empty. Several remaining Republican legislators appeared to be checking their mobile phones or taking photos of each other, among other things.

Senate Republicans are pushing the proposal; House Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott are opposed, virtually dooming the plan, which would draw down nearly $50 billion in Affordable Care Act money over eight years. They say the feds can’t be trusted to follow through on their funding promises.

Even House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach said, “There is little doubt about the outcome.”

— “The top 67 questions about the Senate health insurance expansion plan” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times

TWEET, TWEET: @AaronPBean: Thank you @RepMiaJones for your hard work preparing and your awesome presentation of #FHIXforFL.


The impasse in Florida’s health care coverage rages on … the League of Women Voters had a “fact checking” conference call designed to clear up the “drama, diversion, and misconception of facts” regarding the health care debate. The call featured national health care policy expert Joan Alker of the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

Alker contended that “important pieces of the puzzle” related to the health care debate were “misunderstood” which get in the way of achieving health care outcomes that are in the public interest. She contended that if the Supreme Court rules in the favor of the plaintiff in King V. Burwell, a decision expected late this month after the projected end of the Special Session in Tallahassee, there would be a commensurate loss of coverage for a lot of Floridians.

Florida, Alker said, has “1.3 million people in the exchange,” the “largest number in the country.” The worst case scenario could leave almost 2 million Floridians without health insurance.

She also brought up the issue of people in the Medically Needy program, who she described as “very sick people,” many of whom have “bankrupted themselves.”

Alker contended that “considerable savings” could be achieved if Medicaid money is accepted in conjunction with the federal exchange.


The House is expected … to kill a bill that would provide access to health care for uninsured Floridians. However, that isn’t stopping a group calling itself Florida Strong from trying to ferret out what it calls misleading information bring spread about the proposal. It points the finger at what Rep. Richard Corcoran, the House budget writer and next in line to lead the lower chamber, has said on the House floor and in committee.

“Rep. Richard Corcoran falsely claims in his political propaganda that Florida cannot afford to close the healthcare gap. However, his assertion does not pass the smell test. States that have adopted similar plans are not only seeing the benefit of more insured citizens, but are also reporting net fiscal gains,” the email reads.

“The business community, members of both parties, and editorial boards across the state agree: It is beyond time for the Florida House of Representatives to break the gridlock and support the Senate’s pragmatic, bipartisan proposal. The Senate’s fiscally responsible plan will spur economic activity, increase state and local revenue, and create jobs.”

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN: “Where in the world is Dana Young?” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times


The Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding met in the bowels of the Capitol in Tallahassee … before a small audience. Meanwhile, while those with an interest in health care debate watched the House of Representatives take up a bill to bring more Medicaid funding into the state to fund health care access.

Assembled in the Cabinet room in the Capitol’s basement, the commission heard presentations from Agency for Health Care Administration staff on hospital profits. Members also were told details about the new Low Income Pool proposal that Deputy Secretary for Medicaid Justin Senior sent to the federal government just days before the Legislature’s Special Session on budget and health care.

Stacey Lampkin, an AHCA actuary, told the commission that the agency has not yet received approval on the new, alternative formula that Senior had floated for the $1 billion funding in 2015-16. However, she said it hopes to have approval from the federal government soon. Discussions on 2016-17 funding with the federal government have focused on the $600,000 LIP limit and not how the state will direct the money, though Lamkin did acknowledge that the agency is looking at a similar funding formula for the $600,000 LIP pool.

The health care panel will meet in Tampa on June 17 where, commission members and agency Secretary Liz Dudek said, the panel hopes to hear from two to four area hospital executives discuss how their hospitals run. The idea is for the group to hear from hospitals that appear to be efficiently run and others that aren’t as efficiently operated.

Tampa is the first stop on the so-called “Transparency Tour.” Other cities include Jacksonville and Miami. Scott announced the tour as his commission — created to examine how taxpayers’ money is spent in health care — grapples to get information from hospitals that the governor requested they submit to the commission, including salaries and compensation packages for chief executive officers.

Many hospitals still have not provided the information and Dudek said … that the governor’s staff is pulling the information from federal tax filings.


The Scott-created commission setup to look at taxpayer dollars in the health care industry unveiled its first “key finding” … with promises of additional input coming in the future.

Though Scott created the commission to look at taxpayer dollars in the entire health care industry, which also includes elements like health insurers, so far much of the debate has been dominated by hospitals, a dynamic reflected in the first findings, which include: In calendar year 2013 nearly 70 percent of all inpatient hospital stays were covered from a government-funded source like Medicare or Medicaid. The largest chunk of that – 45 percent – comes from Medicare.

Hospitals with a profit of at least 4 percent provided “significantly less” charity care than hospitals that have negative profit margins. Hospitals that had at least a 1 percent operating loss provided more charity care, bad debt, and Medicaid utilization.

The higher a hospital’s occupancy rate, the more profitable it becomes.

With the exception of six facilities, funding from the Low Income Pool, a pot of federal-local hospital money used to provide indigent care, does not impact whether or not a hospital turns a profit. Hospitals that make a profit without LIP will continue to be profitable without it, and those who do don’t make a profit would continue to be in the red.

Non-government run hospitals have seen profits increase over the past decade. The average operating margin was 7.3 percent in 2013, up from 3.8 percent in 2004.


The tiny town of Altha (pop. 536) wants Florida taxpayers to buy it a brand new $100,000 garbage truck … Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority wants $1 million for a regional mass transit study. Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa is expecting $500,000 for a manatee hospital. The Miami International Boat Show is counting on a $500,000 state grant to move to a new location.

Those projects and dozens more are in the budgets passed by the Senate and House in April during the regular session. But leaders are warning that some projects will be on the chopping block because of the need for the state to shore up the low income pool that pays hospitals for charity care next year. The Obama administration has said the state can expect less federal money.

“There’s going to be a pruning,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee … “It’s very simple math. We have to scale back our expectations, and I think the members are aware of that.”

Three other budget imperatives come with substantial dollar signs: the political will among Republicans to cut taxes, the first-year funding of water and land protections under Amendment 1 and more money for schools next year.

Senate President Andy Gardiner … said the need to patch the budget with state tax money will have a “ripple effect” that will become obvious when budget negotiations begin in earnest this weekend. The amount has not been specified, but it could be up to $600 million. Budget allocations are expected to be released today.


As the Legislature takes another stab with a 20-day special session, Kevin Cate is once again taking bets on when the 2015-2016 state spending plan will be approved. This time, it’s #CateBudget, where the owner of public relations firm CATECOMM has a “little overtime fun” by calling for a best guess when the “last chamber” passes a budget estimated at nearly $80 billion.

Cate asked for a time and date posted on Twitter, with the hashtag #CateBudget. The grand prize winner will get a “major shout out or feature” on Trimmel Gomes’ Rotunda Podcast.

Cate is no stranger to amateur political bookmaking. In April, he promoted the #CateSineDie tag, where Twitter followers attempted to predict when lawmakers would adjourn the 2015 Legislative Session.

No word on which person guessed “three days early” on that one.

TALLAHASSEE CLAIMS BILL ON GOV’S DESK via Sean Rossman of the Tallahassee Democrat

With the stroke of Scott’s pen, the city of Tallahassee will need to pay the remaining $700,000 it owes a Tallahassee cyclist who was severely injured when a garbage truck hit him in 2009.

The relief legislation for Mark and Sharon Sawicki was presented to Scott … along with more than a dozen claims bill. He has until June 16 to act on it.

The city took responsibility for the accident and agreed to pay $900,000 to Sawicki, an engineer, triathlete and marathoner, and his wife. The city paid the $200,000 it’s able to pay by law; the remaining $700,000 needed legislative approval.

Sawicki, 57, was cycling west on Call Street, heading to work on Oct. 2, 2009. He stopped at a red light next to the garbage truck at the intersection with North Monroe Street. The truck took a right on red and its hydraulic arm, used to hoist garbage cans, hit Sawicki in the head and dragged him under the truck’s rear wheels.

Sawicki suffered a crushed pelvis, a broken right leg and other internal injuries. He was hospitalized for 32 days and required to undergo extensive physical therapy.


Legislators … are being targeted in attack ads for not doing enough to fund restoration of the Everglades.

Negative mail is aimed at Democratic State Reps. Katie Edwards of Plantation and Kristin Jacobs of Pompano Beach. It began hitting in their districts this week.

The pieces slam the two legislators for not supporting Everglades restoration while accepting contributions from “Big Sugar.” Sugar growers located on the south side of Lake Okeechobee have historically been blamed for polluting the Everglades.

The pieces are the work of The Everglades Trust, a non-profit that advocates for environmental preservation. The group’s campaign comes amid a legislative special session that has ignored the Everglades as members wrestled to hammer out a budget.

Everglades Trust President Mary Barley is quoted, “The Everglades and our drinking water are at risk while Florida legislators refuse to act. As toxic algae and pollution threaten our waterways, we draw attention to the hypocrisy of politicians who claim to care about our environment, but instead protect the corporate interests, like Big Sugar, that contribute tens of thousands of dollars to their campaigns.”

Ironically, Jacobs is one of Tallahassee’s most outspoken environmentalists and a long-time advocate for projects to preserve Florida’s water supply.

OYSTERMEN HUSTLING TO KEEP UP WITH NEW REGULATIONS via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat

Eager oystermen and women hurriedly fling burlap sacks brimming with the shellfish onto pallets as forklifts speed back and forth to empty the morning’s catch into the frigid refrigeration coolers.

They’re working under the gun of a revised Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulation that went into effect … mandating that all whole-shell oysters have to be under refrigeration by 11 a.m. — three hours earlier than in previous years — and be cooled to 55 degrees by 1 p.m.

That puts pressure on shell house owners like David Barber and reduces the time oyster fishermen can spend on the water scooping their livelihood from the bay floor.

And the last thing seafood workers need is more strain, Barber said … as boats began to pile up at his dock waiting to unload their catch.

The summer oyster bars are loaded, Barber said, and on an average day between 150 to 500 bags of oysters are being unloaded. On a really good day, that could be as many as 800 bags.

“A lot of people are going to want to go oystering and they’re going to look to me to sell them and we’re going to be running around like mad people trying to get them all weighed in,” Barber said.

With the rush, he risks accepting oysters under the 3-inch legal limit and often turns people away for bringing in sub-par products.


U.S. Reps. Gwen Graham and David Jolly introduced bipartisan legislation in Congress on Thursday to extend the prohibition on oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico through 2027.

HR 2630, which seeks to amend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, extends the drilling ban — 125 miles off much of Florida’s Gulf Coast and as far as 235 miles in some areas – that is now set to expire in 2022.

Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, represents Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers the eastern part of the Florida Panhandle and much of the Big Bend region along the Emerald Coast. Jolly, a Republican from Madeira Beach, represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which covers several Pinellas County beaches.

“The Panhandle knows all too well the devastating effects an oil spill can have on our state,” Graham said in a statement. “Keeping our Gulf waters and beaches free from drilling is vital to protecting our environment, our economy and the military in Northwest Florida.”

An oil spill off the Pinellas County coast would be disastrous to quality of life and the local economy, Jolly added.

“It is paramount that we take steps to continue protecting our pristine beaches, our fisheries, our marine sanctuaries, and coastal communities from the impact of increased drilling in the eastern Gulf and devastating events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010,” he said.


A Florida appeals court’s ruling to allow slot machines at a tiny barrel-racing track in rural Gadsden County could send huge shockwaves through Florida’s gambling landscape.

The biggest question: Will it blow up the Seminole Tribe’s revenue-sharing agreement with the state?

According to the terms of the 2010 deal, the tribe’s payments stop if slots operate anywhere outside Broward or Miami-Dade counties. And the tribe would still be able to offer slots at its casinos, and perhaps blackjack and other table games, if the agreement is voided.

… Instead of sweating out a new agreement, the Seminoles might get to keep their gambling empire without paying a dime. They would lose exclusivity outside of South Florida, but would gain a huge competitive edge with an extra quarter-billion dollars a year for marketing, promotions and new amenities at its Hollywood and Coconut Creek casinos.

Barrel-racing in the Panhandle could turn out to be the tribe’s new best friend.

The Seminoles might have to send a big thank-you note to Gretna’s biggest investor: The Poarch Creek Tribe of Alabama.

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Adams Street is also buzzing with talk that state Rep. Matt Gaetz is about to draw a serious contender in the race for State Senate District 1. Former Bay County Commissioner George Gainer, a Republican, is expected to file to run in the Panhandle seat presently held by Gaetz’s father, Don.

Gaetz versus Gainer would shape up as a proxy fight between state Sens. Joe Negron and Jack Latvala in their death-match to become president of the Florida Senate in 2016. Gaetz has already pledged his support to Negron, while Gainer would almost certainly benefit from the support of Latvala and his political committees.

As late as February, Gaetz appeared to be a lock to succeed his father into the Senate. Through April 30, the third-term lawmaker has raised more than $564,000 for his campaign. While Gaetz would still be the frontrunner against almost any opponent, his fortunes seemed to have turned after he made a controversial statement on Twitter that drew rebukes from not only his political opponents, but also from House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and fellow House colleague Mike Hill.

Remarking that the a lawsuit filed by Florida Senate Democrats in the Florida Supreme Court “rea(d) like it was “researched and drafted by Sen. Joyner and spell checked by Sen. Bullard.”

Even before that incident, Gaetz, a brilliant orator respected by even his opponents for his ability to rally supporters to his causes, has forged a mercurial career in Florida politics. For every legislative success like his effort to make Charlotte’s Web available to sick children, there has been a controversial statement or tactic.

Gainer is exactly the kind of contrasting candidate Gaetz probably doesn’t want to face. He’s experienced, he can self-fund and he’s from the Bay County part of District 1 where Gaetz is not as strong.


Republican Donnie Horner III filed campaign paperwork Wednesday to run for House District 11 to succeed term-limited Rep. Janet Adkins, according to Florida Division of Elections records.

Horner is a Jacksonville resident who works as a national sales representative for Beaver Street Fisheries, according to the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. He is also the son of former Jacksonville municipal education commissioner Dr. Donnie Horner Jr.

A political science graduate of the U.S Naval Academy, Horner earned an master’s degree in business administration from Jacksonville University in 2011.

Horner joins a clutch of five other candidates pursuing the northeastern Florida seat. So far all of them — Cord Byrd, Jack Daniels, Barry V. Holloway, Tom C. Taylor and Sheri Treadwell — are Republicans, making for a loaded primary battle in the heavily GOP-skewing district.

So far Treadwell, a Duval County elections staffer, leads the way in early fundraising, garnering $19,100 since her entry into the race on March 9.


Recent developments in two House seats are helping to define the field of 2016’s slate of competitive legislative races.

In the race to succeed term-limited Republican Speaker pro tempore Matt Hudson, a new candidate — the third to file so far — has emerged: Republican attorney Joseph Asher Davidrow opened a campaign account in the Hendry and Collier-based House District 80.

Davidrow will face fellow GOP-er Byron Donalds, his former opponent in the 2012 race, in an August 2016 primary. Donalds has so far amassed $40,210 in campaign contributions.

The winner of that contest will face off against Democrat John Lundlin of Clewiston, a tiny inland town and home to U.S. Sugar Corp. Both Donalds and Davidrow hail from Naples. Lundlin has so far reported raising no money for his 2016 bid since filing in February.

Meanwhile, in Orlando-based District 49, Carlos Smith has fleshed out the basis of his campaign … The Orange County Democratic Party chair and former legislative aide to state Rep. Joe Saunders — who was abruptly unseated by state Rep. Rene Plasencia in a 2014 low-turnout wave election that favored Republicans — told Dan Sweeney he plans to run on a platform of increasing education funds flowing to Florida’s Bright Futures program.

“My personal issue is Bright Futures,” Smith said. “The only reason I was able to go to school and put myself through college at UCF was qualifying for the Bright Futures scholarship. And since 2009, the Legislature has slashed the fund in half. … We spent something like $440 million in 2009 and last year, we spent $240 million. It’s sad.”

Smith is currently running unopposed, as Plasencia plans to switch districts ahead of 2016 after Republican state Rep. Tom Goodson cleared the way for “Coach P” to run in a safer district.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce named First Commerce Credit Union President John Medina as Regional Board chair for the Tallahassee area. Medina, who leads the First Commerce Investments and Insurance Division, will serve a one-year term as one of 12 individuals in the Regional Chair Program.

“Tallahassee is the center of all legislative decisions that keep Florida moving in the right direction,” Medina said in a statement. “First Commerce Credit Union is proud to support the Florida Chamber in their efforts to keep moving Florida forward.”

“John Medina is a prime example of how small businesses are the source of two out of three jobs in Florida, and why fighting for free enterprise is so important,” said Chamber CEO Mark Wilson. “In his role as a Florida Chamber Regional Board chair, John will champion the Florida Chamber’s mission to secure Florida’s future.”


Ron Book, Rana Brown, Kelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: AJT Media; Dezer Development; Florida High School Athletic Association; National Marine Manufacturers Association

Ron Pierce, Edward Briggs, Natalie King, RSA Consulting Group: Helios Education Foundation; SRG Technology

Douglas Darling, DDarling Consulting: Accenture LLP

Jim DeBeaugrine, RFJ Governmental Consultants: Florida Partners in Crisis, Inc.

Peter Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Dean Mead: Manatee County Board Of County Commissioners

Glenn Kirkland, Strategos Public Affairs: SHI

Richard Koon, Floridian Partners: Monarch National Insurance Company:

Andrew Liles: Seaside Institute

Paul Mitchell, Nelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: MotionPoint Corporation; Motorola Solutions; Aon Benfield

William Rubin, Christopher Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: Odebrecht Construction; Solix, Inc.

Ann Shortelle: St. Johns River Water Management District

Brian Shuford: Outfront Media

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

Derek Whitis, Whitis Consulting: S&C Cattle and Land Services


The age of political newsletters has a new South Florida entrant, aimed at readers who don’t speak español¿Qué pasa LSNC? intends to compile a digest of the previous day’s news — as delivered on prolific Spanish-language radio and television stations, whose current-affairs programming is far greater than most English-language stations.

The daily morning email, which has been going out in test form for a few weeks, is not compiled by a news organization … the brainchild of Democrat Ben Pollara and Republican Jesse Manzano-Plaza at Miami Beach-based LSN Communications, a division of local government-affairs lobbying firm LSN Partners. Manzano-Plaza, a veteran of several campaigns, speaks Spanish. Pollara does not.

It’s unclear how ¿Qué pasa? will handle thorny matters raised on the shows that might deal with the firm’s clients, though the creators said they will “report what they see or listen.”

LSN Communications has assigned staffers to monitor the shows on weekdays and summarize (and translate) the key topics and interviews. It’s still a challenge is alerting readers to which politicians have scheduled upcoming interviews — in part because the shows themselves don’t book always book guests very far in advance.


Trimmel Gomes’ newest episode of The Rotunda features Rep. Mia Jones who received praise for leading Medicaid expansion talks on the House floor, though she tells Gomes it will take miracle to see passage of the Senate’s Health Insurance Affordability Exchange or FHIX plan. Gomes also chats with E.W. Scripps Tallahassee bureau chief Matt Dixon about his coverage of Governor Rick Scott’s Economic Growth Summit and his big transition to head up POLITICO’s growing team of political and policy writers at the Capitol. Gomes also chats with environmental advocates as they attempt to convince lawmakers to increase funding for Amendment 1 during budget negotiations.

Have a horror story about flying to the Capitol? Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has heard them all and says the city is working on reforms, which includes convincing the Legislature to ease restrictive rules around air travel for state workers.


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James  on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Newly-appointed Superintendent of Manatee County Schools Dr. Diane Green.


Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: Pete Dunbar breaks down the ongoing Special Session, and Bill Wargo discusses Florida affairs outside the Legislature.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, GOP consultant Adam Goodman, USF political scientist Dr. Susan MacManus, Times columnist Daniel Ruth.

On Point with Shannon Ogden, on WFCN in Jacksonville: Reporter Garin Flowers and Tessa Duval of the Florida Times-Union. Nease High School valedictorian Adam Domingoes. Tentatively scheduled: District 8 Councilwoman-elect Katrina Brown.

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Reporter Troy Kinsey hosts a Special Session update.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A review of comments made by GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker made at Gov. Rick Scott’s Orlando summit this week. Politifact examines a recent claim by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio about the Iraq War.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon, Dara Kam of News Service of Florida and Bob McClure of the The James Madison Institute.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Franco Ripple: I’m excited to share that starting tonight, I’m joining One America News Network as a regular weekly on-air contributor, every Wednesday at 10 PM. I’ll be bringing some common sense liberalism to the conservative network. …

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Reps. Amanda Murphy and Ricardo Rangel and former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel. Also celebrating today is Kevin Cleary. Belated wishes to good peeps Brad Burleson, Julie Fess, Matthew Hunter and Heidi Otway.

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.