Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – May 19

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

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

Today’s SachsFact is brought to you by the public affairs, integrated marketing and reputation management experts at Sachs Media Group: The nation’s attention turned to Jacksonville on this date in 1988, when a Florida jury convicted notorious cocaine kingpin Carlos Lehder of smuggling more than three tons of cocaine into the United States. Lehder, co-founder of Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel, revolutionized cocaine smuggling by taking over Norman’s Cay in the Bahamas and running his operations through the island. Though an agreement to testify against Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega reduced Lehder’s life sentence, he remains in federal custody today.

DAYS UNTIL Special Session 12; Gov. Scott’s Economic Growth Summit: 13; Sine Die: 32; Major League Baseball All-Star game: 55; First GOP presidential debate: 78; Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts: 213; First Day of 2016 Legislative Session: 238; Iowa Caucuses: 258: Florida’s Presidential Primary: 300; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 469; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 539.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: This Thursday, I will be speaking (along with Kevin Cate) at the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida. If you are in downtown Orlando and would like to grab coffee that day, email me at SaintPeter4@gmail.com.

IT’S ELECTION DAY IN JACKSONVILLE!

The hot topic among political insiders in Jacksonville in recent days has been whether or not the mayoral race or the Sheriff’s race (or both) will be forced into a recount. The races are that close. The polling is inconclusive and The mood among the campaign insiders ranges from “cautiously optimistic” to CYA. It’s going to be a hot one to follow, all day and, perhaps, all night.

Election results can be found at the Duval Elections website starting at 7:00 p.m. Every ten minutes until the close of polls, the same site updates raw vote totals. The Democratic margin hovered around +5,500 before the polls open on Tuesday morning. The expected attrition of that margin throughout Election Day is going to lead to the hardcore junkies refreshing the page six times an hour.

FINAL ST. PETE POLLS SURVEY: Lenny Curry 47.6%, Alvin Brown 46.6%.

Here is some suggested reading for Election Day…

JOHN DELANEY DEFENDS HIS RECORD AS MAYOR in the Florida Times-Union

When I campaigned for office, I had three rules for whenever I mentioned my opponent in a negative light: It had to be completely true, on an issue and not personal.

Alvin Brown supporter Wayne Hogan in a letter to the Times-Union violated all three.

Ironically, Hogan did not attack the candidate I endorsed, Lenny Curry, but rather attacked me for supporting Curry.

What he wrote about my tenure as mayor was not true, not on issues relevant to the campaign and was personal.

THE BRAWL TO SETTLE IT ALL via A.G. Gancarski of Folio Weekly

This piece looks at the inside baseball of races from the top of the ticket to the District-level donnybrooks.

“Alvin Brown ran a solid-enough campaign in 2011, but everyone knows the Hogan operation beat itself when it made too overt a play for the Cracker Right. Curry, a much more moderate person despite the party apparatchik machinations in the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) era, has not made that mistake. Indeed, he has been careful about splitting the difference between the relative liberalism of the Jax Chamber and the hard-right rhetoric of the church crowd. Despite this, there’s a reason that the Brown team felt comfortable airing a “Curry will turn back the clock” ad on black radio. They’re playing to their base’s fears.

Will the Get Out the Vote operation, both the local volunteers and the paid imported canvassers, make the difference? Looking at financial reports, the Brown camp seems to have a lot more overhead than the Curry crew. And the Curry fundraising looks stronger. With that overhead, is there real accountability on the Brown side? The quotes from operatives for the loser will be particularly interesting, especially if Curry confounds his haters and pulls this thing out.

JACKSONVILLE CANDIDATES MAKE FINAL PUSH FOR VOTES by Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union

If there’s any solace in the deluge of last-minute activity voters will see from the campaigns for Jacksonville mayor, sheriff and City Council in the coming days, it’s this: It’s almost over.

Voters head to the polls Tuesday in a final act closing out the most costly election in city history. It has drawn outside interest, operatives and money, in part because the contenders for the top office, Mayor Alvin Brown and Republican Lenny Curry, have ties to 2016 presidential aspirants and other national political figures.

40% TURNOUT EXPECTED IN JACKSONVILLE ELECTION via Jim Piggott of WJXT

After two weeks of early voting, another 110,000 voters are expected to cast ballots Tuesday before Jacksonville will learn who will be mayor, sheriff and fill seven City Council seats for the next four years.

Sunday night, when the 18 early voting places closed, more that 60,000 people had voted early and 46,500 more had mailed in absentee ballots with verified signatures.Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland is still calling for 40- to 42-percent turnout when the polls close at 7 p.m. — more than the primary in March and more than the city election four years ago.

PUBLIC SAFETY REMAINS A DIVISIVE TALKING POINT IN JAX MAYOR RACE by Melissa Ross of WJCT

“I wanted to correct the numbers of police officers the mayor has laid out. I’ll correct the mayor and the T-U, they’ve both gotten it wrong. There were 30 vacancies that I carried that this administration cut their first year in office, and that number creates 147 positions that have been cut since this mayor took office. He could have filled those positions, given me the money to fill those positions, and he did not,” Rutherford said.

“He didn’t fund my budget to hire 80 officers and in a consolidated government the sheriff does not control his budget, the mayor’s office does. There’s about $800 million in operations that I control, the other $400 million is committed through things like the pension, Workmans Comp, those things the mayor’s office controls not the sheriff,” he said.

PARTY OF ONE by A.G. Gancarski of Folio Weekly

Now, the policy side folks will tell you they keep the campaign and the policy sides separate. A functional construct, though better than no construct at all. But you could probably count on your fingers the number of joint campaign appearances Alvin has made with Tommy or Ken, even if you’d had a grenade accident or two. A good question is “Why?”

Perhaps Brown doesn’t want to sully himself by association with the man who finished first in the First Election by 15 points, a man who has gotten endorsements from two Republicans he defeated. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal with having to answer for something Tommy Hazouri said or did a quarter-century ago. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. You never hear Jefferson or Hazouri mention the mayor in speeches. Ever wonder why?

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry-leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services  today’s large organizations demand, while our Business  Solutions team works with small- to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more at brighthouse.com/business.***

FLORIDA AGENCIES GIVE DIRE WARNINGS IF GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Florida state agencies are warning a state government shutdown could have far-reaching effects across the state.

Agencies reported Monday that everything from child support payments, teacher salaries and child abuse investigations could be halted if the Florida Legislature fails to pass a budget by June 30.

Gov. Rick Scott last week ordered agencies to give him a list of the state’s critical needs.

State legislators ended their session abruptly last month without passing a new state budget. Legislators plan to return June 1 for a 20-day special session. The House and Senate have been at odds over the budget and health care spending. House Republicans oppose a Senate proposal to extend health care coverage to 800,000 Floridians.

A spokeswoman for Scott said the governor “remains cautiously optimistic” that a budget will passed before the deadline.

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: Here’s 1 thing not sure Floridians will miss due to gov. shutdown. DOT warns it would have to stop collecting tolls

RICK SCOTT MAKES SECRET VISIT TO FREEDOM ELEMENTARY IN MANATEE via Kate Irby of the Bradenton Herald

Gov. Scott made a surprise visit to Freedom Elementary … to tell fourth grade students about what it’s like to be governor.

“The goal was to tell all these children that anything is possible,” Scott said outside the school. “They can be governor, they can be president, they can build a business, they can be a great teacher and they can be a principal.”

Jim Mennes, principal of Freedom Elementary, said the fourth graders had sent letters to Scott in November asking him to visit the school. Scott’s office originally said he couldn’t make it but told school administrators last week that he would come if it was kept a secret.

“He said if this showed up on Facebook or in the papers that he wasn’t coming,” Mennes said. “We were sworn to secrecy.”

HOSPITALS HESITANT TO GIVE COMMISSION DATA via Carol Gentry of Health News Florida

Gov. Scott, who last week asked the state’s hospitals to provide a large amount of financial data by Monday, will not get all that he asked for that quickly. He may not get some of it at all.

Hospital executives and lawyers say they want to cooperate with Scott and his newly appointed Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, which seeks data on services, profits, costs and patient outcomes.

But hospital executives say some of Scott’s questions are hard to answer because they’re ambiguous or confusing. In those cases, they’ll ask for clarification.

Still others are impossible to answer, they say. In some cases, hospitals don’t have the information at all, as in the request for survey data from 2006-2013 that wasn’t available to hospitals until this year.

And providing answers to some of the questions might make public some payment information from private insurers, which is covered by confidentiality clauses in hospitals’ contracts.

The commission lacks authority to compel hospitals to release the data, he said, and even the governor could not do so without getting the attorney general’s office involved.

Florida law takes note of the trade-secret nature of managed-care contracts and exempts them from the kinds of Sunshine laws that publicly owned hospitals would otherwise be expected to obey. And Scott’s letter is worded as a request, not a demand.  Many hospitals scrambled to comply, even if it meant resending information they already sent to a state agency.

HOSPITAL GROUP REJECTS GOV. SCOTT’S CALL FOR INCREASED TAX via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

The Florida Hospital Association is telling Gov. Scott “no more taxes.”

In a letter … the group said the answer to the state’s health care funding crisis isn’t to raise the tax that hospitals pay on any surpluses they make in a given year. Scott suggested that as a way to make up money in the Low Income Pool, or LIP, a federal-state funding source that reimburses hospitals for the charity care they provide.

“Such an arrangement is not a solution to the challenge we face,” said the letter, signed by executives of 22 of the state’s hospital systems. The association has backed a Senate plan to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which is opposed by the Florida House of Representatives and Scott.

SCOTT DEFENDS HIS CALL FOR FLORIDA HOSPITALS TO SHARE THE WEALTH via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Scott‘s call for Florida hospitals to share their profits if the federal government refuses to authorize $2.2 billion in health-care spending has been greeted as a form of socialism by critics, including some from his own party.

“That’s government price controls,” Niceville based GOP state Senator Don Gaetz said in a recent radio interview. “That really brought the Soviet Union into a ‘Going Out of Business’ sale.”

Appearing in Tampa … Scott was asked by this reporter about Gaetz’ comments.

“I put together a commission to make sure the right thing happens in health care. What do we all want care about in health care? We want to be able to afford it, we want people to get great care, and treated with respect, and we’re spending your dollars, so I want to make sure that your dollars are spent well. Our hospitals had record profits, so it’s one of the many things that are going to be looked up by this commission. I think they have their first meeting on Wednesday of this week.”

When asked about the upcoming budget showdown in the session, Scott repeatedly said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the House and Senate will come together to pass a budget when they meet in two weeks for a special session. If they don’t come up with a solution by June 30, the state government would shut down. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that we don’t have a state that shuts down our state government,” he said, adding that he’s asked all state agencies to review their staffing levels in terms of who is most essential as a way to prepare for a potential shutdown.

The governor remained eternally sunny when discussing the budget situation, emphasizing as per usual the issue of jobs are being created in Florida, in this case stating that over 841,000 of them have been added since he was elected in 2010.  “I’m hopeful that this session will be successful so that we can focus on how we can get more jobs,” he said more than once, adding that he will continue to search to find a way to cut taxes, fund education, and fund cancer research (since that was the subject of the hour).

SHAWN HARRISON A RARE GOP MEMBER “OPEN” TO SENATE MEDICAID EXPANSION PLAN via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

… In the Tampa Tribune’s editorial section, Tampa House District 63 Republican Shawn Harrison writes that he is “open to a plan for private health coverage that draws down federal dollars with reasonable review, opt-out and sunset provisions included. Perhaps that can be some trial version of the Senate plan. “

But he adds in the very next paragraph that “all of us view the Senate plan in its current format with trepidation, and rightly so.”

Harrison then goes on to recite the familiar critical talking points from House Republicans in Tallahassee when discussing the Medicaid expansion issue, writing that a $50 billion free money ‘handout’ “is not free.” He then goes on to criticize Medicaid coverage, and writes that there are “case studies in other states where Medicaid patients still use emergency rooms for primary care.”

It shouldn’t surprise too many that Harrison is the rare House Republican showing some rare nuance on the issue. When campaigning for the seat against incumbent Democrat Mark Danish last year, he indicated similar feelings. Writing for Creative Loafing last fall, this reporter wrote, “The former Tampa City Councilmember says he’s the rare Republican who can see the virtue in expanding Medicaid to get people health care.”

It also should be noted that House District 63, which encompasses North Tampa, Carrollwood, Lake Magdalene, Lutz, and the USF area, is a rare swing-district in Hillsborough County. Democrat Mike Reedy has already announced his candidacy and has begun holding fundraisers to try to oust Harrison in 2016.

— “Between sessions, a peek inside Florida lawmakers’ Medicaid mailbag” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Infograph shows Obamacare enrollment, tax credits, in 17 republican congressional districts” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

WHAT RICHARD CORCORAN IS READING:Skyrocketing Medicaid signups stir Obamacare fights” via POLITICO

FIXING FLORIDA’S WATER SUPPLY WAS ONCE STATE HOUSE SPEAKER STEVE CRISAFULLI’S TOP PRIORITY; NOW IT WILL WAIT via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

Last year saw a rare alignment of political forces in Florida … Scott, several powerful state senators, a coalition of environmental groups and a consortium of business and industry groups all said the Legislature needed to do something about fixing Florida’s water.

They all agreed that the pollution is too pervasive, the flow too endangered, and the perils too great to the state’s future to ignore it any longer.

But last month the 2015 regular session ended in chaos as Crisafulli adjourned the House three days early without passing a budget, the only duty the Legislature is required to carry out. A special session has been scheduled for June 1 to get the budget done.

Will Crisafulli’s top priority be part of that 20-day marathon? Late Friday the answer arrived: No, it will not. The budget, taxes and Medicaid will be the topics of conversation — not water.

However, the sponsor of the water policy bill that the House passed this spring was not surprised there will be no further action on the issue before next year.

“No need to add more pressure to an already complicated budget session,” said Rep. Matt Caldwell.

The business community would liked to have seen it brought back up, said Brewster Bevis of the Associated Industries of Florida, “but passing a budget is obviously the number one priority of the Legislature right now.”

CIRCUIT JUDGE DISMISSES FLORIDA SCHOOL VOUCHERS CHALLENGE via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

Circuit Judge George S. Reynolds III … dismissed with prejudice the case that the Florida Education Association and others had brought against the state’s tax credit scholarship program.

The plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the case, Reynolds stated in his order.

“In this case, Plaintiffs object to tax credits extended to third parties,” he wrote. “Because Plaintiffs do not challenge a program funded by legislative appropriations, Plaintiffs do not have taxpayer standing to bring this action.”

The FEA issued a statement expressing disappointment with the decision.

“We’re disappointed that the judge ruled not to hear the case in court,” said vice president Joanne McCall, lead plaintiff in the case. “We believe that if the facts are allowed to be heard that the courts would find that this tax-credit voucher program is unconstitutional, just like the courts found the original Opportunity Scholarship voucher program unconstitutional in 2006.”

“It’s time to settle the issue of the constitutionality of vouchers once and for all,” McCall added. “We think this issue is of vital importance and the citizens of Florida deserve for this question to be decided.”

The FEA has not decided whether to appeal.

REAX

Florida Education Association’s Joanne McCall — “We’re disappointed that the judge ruled not to hear the case in court. We believe that if the facts are allowed to be heard that the courts would find that this tax-credit voucher program is unconstitutional, just like the courts found the original Opportunity Scholarship voucher program unconstitutional in 2006. … It’s time to settle the issue of the constitutionality of vouchers once and for all.”

Foundation for Florida’s Future’s Patricia Levesque: “This dismissal confirms the unions’ attack on school choice is unfair and misguided. In Florida, we’re way beyond sitting back and letting the status quo roll over students’ opportunities and lives. The unions do not speak for the tens of thousands of parents and teachers embracing choices that make success possible for more and more students every year. And thank goodness for that.”

TWEET, TWEET: @JebBush: Big win for kids over teachers’ union who failed in lawsuit to stop 1st-of-its-kind school choice program we spearheaded in Florida

EDUCATION OFFICIALS BLAME ANOTHER GLITCH ON CYBERATTACK via the Associated Press

Florida education officials are blaming a cyberattack for another round of problems with online testing.

A Department of Education official acknowledged on Monday that end-of-course exams given by the state were delayed because of a denial of service attack against the testing vendor … the attack disrupted exams given in U.S. history, biology and civics.

This is the second time this year that state officials have blamed a cyberattack for glitches in Florida’s administration of online tests. Both incidents are now under investigation.

The state has been switching over from paper tests to online tests. But testing has been marred by delays and problems. Some critics have urged the state to not rely on this year’s round of standardized testing.

NEW RED LIGHT CAMERA FINDINGS via Noah Pransky of WTSP-TV

More cities and counties are deciding to end their red light camera programs after longer yellow lights, prompted by a 10 Investigates series, slashed their abilities to profit off the technology.

While many of the politicians behind the decisions hope the contract terminations end the controversial red light camera (RLC) debates, in many cases, it’s simply adding fuel to the fire over whether the cameras are for profits or safety.

Because the first $83 of every $158 violation goes to the State of Florida, cities and counties are left with $75 per ticket to pay their red light camera contracts, which typically cost upwards of $50,000 per camera per year. When shorter yellow lights helped cities rack up millions in dollars in fines, there was plenty of profit to go around. But tumbling ticket numbers now have most municipalities struggling to pay for the camera programs entirely out of violation revenue.

Florida’s leading red light camera provider, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), has aggressively tried to renegotiate with cities that are considering pulling the plug on their programs, but no company has been as aggressive about its contract in Tampa Bay as Sensys, which is going to court with the City of Brooksville over city council’s plan to terminate its unpopular camera program.

St. Petersburg was able to come to an agreement with ATS over the removal of its cameras last fall after the program started costing the city money. And in the six-plus months since the cameras were turned off, crash rates at the city’s previously-monitored intersections did not rise.

Using the state’s FIRES portal, 10 Investigates checked collision and injury stats for every St. Petersburg intersection that had been monitored by red light cameras. Comparing incidents approaching – or in – the nine intersections, there was no increase in accidents after the city terminated its RLC program on September 30, 2014.

SAY WHAT? VALENCIA COLLEGE SUED OVER FORCED VAGINAL EXAMS via AnneClaire Stapleton and Pat St. Claire of CNN

Two college students say they were forced to submit to transvaginal probes as part of their classroom training to learn how to perform the medical procedure.

The details are outlined in a federal lawsuit … against Valencia College and three instructors. It alleges that medical diagnostic students at Valencia College were forced to submit to the examination of their sexual organs under threat of having their grades reduced or of being blacklisted by future employers. The three defendants named in the lawsuit, Maureen Bugnacki, Linda Shaheen and Barbara Ball, have not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

Peer physical examination is an accepted practice in the medical field, but several recent reports cited by the U.S. National Library of Medicine mention a growing need for clear policies regarding peer physical examination at medical schools.

The lawsuit claims during orientation, the college “had a second-year student, Jennifer Astor (nicknamed the ‘TransVag Queen’) explain the medical diagnostic sonography program’s faculty believed that students should undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedures in order to become better sonography technicians.”

“Valencia positioned these transvaginal probes as voluntary, but its actual policy and practice was that they were not,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit also describes weekly probes for students in the program, saying they, “endured these invasive probes without a modicum of privacy. Plaintiffs would disrobe in a restroom, drape themselves in towels, and traverse the sonography classroom in full view of instructors and other students.”

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL…

TOP CLICK — CONNECTING THE DOTS BEHIND THE 2016 CANDIDATES via Gregor Aisch And Karen Yourish of the New York Times

Presidential candidates change, but the people who run the campaigns often remain the same. Here is how the teams behind some likely and announced candidates are connected to previous campaigns, administrations and organizations close to the possible nominees.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Clinton is relying on a mix of Clinton loyalists, seasoned Obama operatives and other key strategists to modernize and force discipline on her campaign (in other words, to avoid many of the mistakes of her 2008 primary race). At the top are John D. Podesta,  a Clintonite with strong ties to President Obama; Robby Mook,  known for his no-drama approach to managing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign; and Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s longtime aide. Campaign veterans loyal to Obama and Clinton are running Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Mrs. Clinton, which operates outside the official campaign.

Jeb Bush: … building a sizable political operation in anticipation of a likely campaign announcement. His team includes longtime advisers, key operatives from Mitt Romney’s presidential races, and a few veterans of George W. Bush’s campaigns. Sally Bradshaw and Mike Murphy form the core of Jeb Bush’s inner circle. Bradshaw and David Kochel are expected to head the campaign, and Murphy will oversee Right to Rise, the pro-Bush super PAC.

Marco Rubio: … inner circle includes several strategists with strong ties to early primary states and the Bush family. Terry Sullivan headed Mitt Romney’s 2008 primary in South Carolina, and Heath Thompson and J. Warren Tompkins helped George W. Bush win the state’s 2000 primary. Jim Merrill directed both of Romney’s New Hampshire primaries. And Todd Harris, who was the chief spokesman for the 2002 re-election campaign of Jeb Bush, is familiar with Iowa after serving as a news media consultant for Joni Ernst, the state’s newly elected senator.

Scott Walker: … supported by people who helped him win three statewide elections, as well as a crew of national strategists. His campaign-in-waiting is housed in Our American Revival, a 527 group that can accept unlimited donations. Rick Wiley, the executive director of the group, is expected to be Walker’s campaign manager. Two advisers who have been with the governor since his first gubernatorial bid are running Unintimidated, the super PAC supporting Walker.

STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN — “The three ways Marco Rubio proved he’s a corrupt loser idiot this week” via Gawker

HAPPENING TODAY: FLORIDA FAMILY ACTION HOSTS GOP PRESIDENTIAL STRAW POLL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

The conservative group Florida Family Action will host a panel discussion and straw poll In Maitland to gauge support in the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Among the panelists will be Umatilla Republican state Sen. Alan Hays and former state Rep. Kurt Kelly from Ocala. Event begins 7 p.m.at the Venue on the Lake, Maitland Civic Center, 641 South Maitland Ave.

CONSERVATIVE PUSH FOR SOLAR IS BACKED BY USUAL GREEN ADVOCATES via Nichola Groom and Richard Valdmanis of Reuters

When Debbie Dooley, a Tea Party firebrand from Woodstock Georgia, makes the case for solar power, she doesn’t rely on the usual environmental talking points. She speaks of property rights, national security and free market competition.

Former Republican Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr. casts his support for solar energy as a conservative stance against monopoly power utilities that “want to limit energy choice.”

Dooley and Goldwater, along with the right-leaning pro-solar groups they founded, have been widely hailed in media reports as proof that conservatives are beginning to embrace renewable energy. But public records and interviews show the groups’ support among conservative donors is thin, and the money behind them comes almost entirely from liberal-leaning environmental groups and the solar industry itself.

Floridians for Solar Choice, a group Dooley helped found to qualify a rooftop solar initiative for the 2016 Florida ballot, has received about 95 percent of its funding – more than $360,000 – from the Southern Alliance For Clean Energy (SACE) and its political arm the SACE Action Fund, traditional environmental groups with long records of climate change activism.

The large donations have helped the renewable energy technology gain a foothold in parts of the country traditionally hostile to environmental activism. But they have come despite some significant philosophical gaps between funders and recipients.

ALL ABOARD OPPONENT K.C. INGRAM TRAYLOR MAY RUN FOR PATRICK MURPHY’S SEAT via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

All Aboard Florida opponent K.C. Ingram Traylor was one of the Republicans who appeared in a 2014 TV ad for Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Now that Murphy has launched a 2016 Senate campaign, Traylor is considering entering the 2016 Republican primary for Murphy’s Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat.

Palm City resident Traylor has been active in two issues — the Indian River Lagoon cleanup and the opposition to All Aboard Florida’s planned Miami-to-Orlando passenger rail service — that cut across party lines in the Treasure Coast.

All Aboard Florida emerged as a huge issue in the six-candidate District 18 GOP primary last year, with most of the candidates trying to outdo each other in their opposition to the train. After Carl Domino won the Republican nomination, he and Murphy argued throughout the general election campaign over who was a more genuine foe of All Aboard Florida.

Traylor, founder of the group Florida Not All Aboard, said she’s a lifelong Republican with “conservative values” who was impressed with Democrat Murphy’s efforts to block the train. Murphy, running in a district with a slight Republican edge, ran a TV spot in which Traylor said: “Patrick Murphy’s independent, like me.”

IF JEFF MILLER RUNS FOR SENATE, NORTH FLORIDA DOMINOES WILL BEGIN TO FALL Full story here

If Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller runs in 2016 for Marco Rubio‘s seat in the U.S. Senate, the political dominoes that are likely to fall will stretch from Florida’s border with Alabama to the Suwanee River.

Not everyone is thrilled by a Miller run for Senate … big money in the Panhandle wants Miller to stay put. They are already worried about being called on for big campaign contributions for Jeb Bush and Rubio. If Miller makes the move for the Senate, then they will be expected to write checks for him and his successor.

If Miller should decide to run, the first question is who will take his place on Capitol Hill … senior Republican state Sens. Greg Evers and Don Gaetz, Republican state Rep. Mike Hill from Pensacola Beach, Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford, and Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward.

With the entry of either Gaetz or Evers, that will leave an opening in the Florida Senate. Gaetz’s son, Matt, is far-away front-runner to win his father’s seat. Lining up to run for Evers’ seat are Republican state Reps. Doug Broxson and Clay Ingram, Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson, and University of West Florida Assistant Vice President Janice Gilley … Hill is also in the mix.

With Bronson, Gaetz, and Ingram’s state House seats opening up, a slew of North Florida politicos are contemplating a run … Pensacola-area lawyers Doug Bates and Frank White, Pensacola City Councilmember Charles Bare, business executive Rusty Branch, former state Rep. Dave Murzin and Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jayer Williamson. Gilley, Hayward, and Robinson are also possibilities for a House run.

— “Wilton Simpson, future Senate President, files for 2018 re-election” via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

— “Democrat Edward James ‘seriously considering’ a challenge to Ray Pilon in HD 72” via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

MAGGIE’S LIST FUNDER WITH PAM BONDI ‘SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT’

Maggie’s List, the conservative women’s Political Action Committee, is hosting a Tampa fundraiser that features a “special announcement” by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The event begins with a private reception at 5 – 5:30 p.m., with a general reception at 5:30 – 7 p.m., at the Columbia Restaurant Museum, 2117 East 7th Avenue in Ybor City.

FIRMS COLLECT MORE THAN $35 MILLION DURING Q1 OF 2015 TO LOBBY LEGISLATURE Full story here

Southern Strategy Group led all firms in lobbying compensation during the first quarter of 2015, hauling in $2.25 million, according to recently-released lobbying compensation figures.More broadly, registered lobbying firms, representing virtually every industry sector in Florida, reported earning slightly more than $35 million from January to March of this year.

Southern stood alone in crossing the $2 million mark, but three other big-time firms collected $1 million or more in fees: Ballard Partners ($1,985,000), Ronald Book PA ($1,855,000),and Capital City Consulting ($1,270,000).

Six firms earned more than $500,000, but less than $1 million: GrayRobinson PA ($875,000); Corcoran & Johnston ($805,000); The Rubin Group ($770,000); Johnson & Blanton ($745,000); Metz Husband & Daughton PA ($725,000); Greenberg Traurig PA ($705,000);  and Floridian Partners LLC ($680,000).

Another 13 lobbying firms booking between $300,000 and $499,999: Colodny Fass, P.A. ($495,000) Capitol Insight LLC ($445,000); The Mayernick Group LLC ($495,000); Spearman Management Inc. ($360,000); Becker & Poliakoff PA ($340,000); Anfield Consulting ($385,000); Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC ($320,000); PooleMcKinley ($305,000); Smith Bryan & Myers Inc. ($495,000); The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners LLC ($430,000); Advantage Consulting Team ($360,000); Heffley & Associates ($345,000); The Fiorentino Group ($325,000).

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Don DeLoach, One Eighty Consulting: Avepoint

Fred Karlinsky, Claude Mueller, Colodny Fass: Associa; Youth Services International; WellCare Health Plans, Inc.

Don Mathis, The Mathis Group: Central Boulevard Concerned Citizens

Danielle McBeth, Alcalde & Fay: Cruise Lines International Association

Michael Mondo: HIMCO-Hartford Investment Management

Foyt Ralston, Bryant Miller Olive: Applications Software Technology Corporation

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at www.capcityconsult.com.***

EPILOGUE — FORMER LEGISLATOR HELEN GORDON DAVIS, WHO FOUGHT FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES, DIES via Andrew Meacham of the Tampa Bay Times

Helen Gordon Davis knew how to take her space on the stage, inhabit a role and mesmerize a room.

For her leading roles in community theater in Tampa and St. Petersburg, the former Hillsborough High school drama teacher won multiple best actress awards through 1960s. Davis went on to give passionate speeches on the floor of the state Legislature, where she was equally alone and equally effective. As the first woman from Hillsborough County elected to the Florida House of Representatives, she opened doors for women and minorities, confronting inequalities with poise and determination.

Davis, a fearless legislator revered by the many women from the Tampa Bay area who succeeded her in politics, died Monday, of congestive heart failure. She was 88.

In retrospect, it is hard to imagine anyone else breaking down those same barriers because few carried her particular combination of courage and composure. When she moved to Tampa from her native Brooklyn, N.Y., she found that both her gender and Jewish heritage put her on the periphery of the city’s inner circles.

BEST STORY YOU’LL READ — TALLAHASSEE NATIVE AND CANCER SURVIVOR EARNS DEGREE FROM SMU via CBS Dallas

When an SMU senior and walked across the stage this past weekend she was more than just a graduate. Tallahassee native and Maclay School alumna Katie Ballard is a cancer survivor.

Nearly two years ago Ballard started having trouble going to the bathroom and was gaining weight. She went to the doctor and two days later she was in surgery and diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer.

At age 20, earning her diploma was suddenly the furthest thing from her mind.

“It was crazy,” says Ballard. “One of those things I never expected to be cancer.”

Surgeons removed a four-pound tumor. Ballard says it looked like a Thanksgiving turkey.

“I was so fortunate that they were able to take out the tumor intact and that I didn’t have to do chemo,” says Ballard.

Doctors say the average age a woman’s diagnosed with ovarian cancer is 60. But Ballard didn’t let the diagnosis or her surgery get her down long. After receiving her degree in journalism, Ballard is going to stay at SMU and work on her masters in advertising.

WEIRDEST STORY YOU’LL READ — BATTLE OVER FLORIDA BOY’S CIRCUMCISION ENTERS FEDERAL COURT via Matt Sedensky of the Associated Press

A judge expressed skepticism … that a long-running court battle over a Florida boy’s circumcision amounted to a constitutional issue worthy of being argued in federal court after being exhaustively litigated in state courts.

In the first hearing on the issue in federal court, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra questioned the attorney for the boy’s mother, Heather Hironimus, over the legality of proceeding with the case when a state judge had already ruled.

“Aren’t you really asking me to revisit and second-guess?” Marra said near the start of the 80-minute hearing in West Palm Beach.

Already a legal oddity for its subject matter, the long-running case between the boy’s estranged parents over the fate of his genitals got an extra dose of drama when Hironimus fled with the child nearly three months ago, going into hiding at a domestic violence shelter while a state judge warned she risked imprisonment for defying orders and refusing to appear in court. She was arrested Thursday and remains jailed.

Though Marra made no ruling in the case, he was often incredulous as Hironimus’ attorney, Thomas Hunker, contended the case could continue in federal court because it was filed on behalf of the boy, whereas the state case was simply between the parents. Hunker said the child’s interests were not fully and fairly represented in state court and that the boy had the right to make his own wishes known.

“So if the mother wants to have the child’s tonsils removed, you have to ask the child?” an obviously dubious Marra asked.

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.