Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – May 27

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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 transformation of farmland into the planet’s greatest tourist attraction began 46 years ago today. On May 27, 1969, construction started on Walt Disney World, the once hush-hush project that remade Orlando and the State of Florida. Throughout the previous decade, parcels of land had been purchased without anyone knowing why, or by whom. Once construction began, it took little more than two years to create the Magic Kingdom – and Florida’s landscape, tourism industry and overall economy would never be the same again.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: A top of the ‘burn belated happy birthday to one of the absolute best people in Florida politics. Actually, let me fix that: Best people period. And that’s my dear friend Brecht Heuchan.

DAYS UNTIL Special Session 5; Gov. Scott’s Economic Growth Summit: 6; Sine Die: 28; Gina Herron & Chris Spencer’s wedding: 30; Independence Day: 37; Major League Baseball All-Star game: 48; First GOP presidential debate: 71; Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts: 199; First Day of 2016 Legislative Session: 233; Iowa Caucuses: 253: Florida’s Presidential Primary: 275; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 464; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 534.

THANK YOU FOR READING SUNBURN … HERE’S A QUICK GUIDE TO SOME OF THE EMAILS I READ EACH MORNING

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— Ground/Game Inside the Presidential Primaries. Produced by the Boston Globe. Sign up here

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— New York Times‘ First Draft. Sign up here.

— POLITICO’s … Playbook, sign up here; Huddle, sign up here; Morning Defense, sign up hereMorning Tech, sign up here; Morning Score, sign up here; Morning Transportation, sign up here;

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WHAT I’M READING TODAY — Rand Paul’s “Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America.” H/t to POLITICO’s Mike Allen. Check out Chapter 16, titled “Tree Hugger”“The New GOP has a place for those who want to … provide for a cleaner, brighter future for our planet. In the New GOP, it will be okay to watch Jon Stewart … In the New GOP, it will be just as admirable to defend the Fourth Amendment [searches and seizures] as the Second Amendment. In the New GOP it is cool to compost, shop at the farmers market … That’s the GOP I hope to lead.”

HAPPENING TODAY AND TOMORROW: President Barack Obama will attend two Democratic fundraisers in Miami Wednesday on his way to a public appearance at the National Hurricane Center at Florida International University on Thursday.

MARCO RUBIO: LGBT RIGHTS ‘A REAL AND PRESENT DANGER’ TO CHRISTIANITY via Steve Rothaus of the Miami Herald

Taking his 2016 Republican presidential campaign to the Christian Broadcasting Network, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said … same-sex marriage and the furthering of LGBT rights presents “a real and present danger” to Christianity.

“If you think about it, we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech,” Rubio told CBN News chief political correspondent David Brody. “Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.”

Rubio, who is Catholic, told Brody: “After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger.”

Right Wing Watch, a project of the liberal organization People For the American Way, immediately distributed video of Rubio’s remarks.

“Marco Rubio was the subject of a fawning profile on today’s edition of The 700 Club, in which host Pat Robertson hailed the GOP presidential candidate as “the Democrats’ worst nightmare …”

RUBIO WOWS THE WINDY CITY via Eli Stools of POLITICO

Rubio lived up to the hype during a fundraising luncheon at Chicago’s Union League Club that drew about 60 donors. ‘He’s absolute rock star,’ one attendee said. ‘When he talks about our country, he really talks about what’s special about it. He leaves you motivated and excited.’ Another donor observed that the Florida senator, who met privately with a smaller group of larger donors before the luncheon, drew a crowd that included a number of newer, younger faces – similar to the crowd that Scott Walker attracted last Thursday at another Chicago event, a backyard BBQ at the Wilmette home of Todd Ricketts that drew around 100 people. ‘These guys, they’re bringing out a new crowd,’ said the donor. ‘These aren’t the usual suspects who show up at everything. There are a lot of new faces in the room for Rubio and Walker.’

RUBIO IN SOUTH CAROLINA: HIS STATE TO LOSE via Tim Alberta of the National Journal

Photos of South Carolina’s most celebrated Republicans crowd every available inch of First Tuesday Strategies’ suite — framed on desks, stacked on countertops, pinned to corkboards along the wall … But there’s one man featured more prominently than anyone else: Marco Rubio.

In the six years since launching his Florida Senate campaign, Rubio has become an adopted prince of South Carolina’s political royalty. And not by chance. Rubio, whose national ambitions became apparent even before he was sworn into the Senate, quickly identified South Carolina as the home base for his eventual presidential effort, seeing this early-primary state as a more natural fit — culturally, ideologically, geographically — than either Iowa or New Hampshire … acted accordingly in the years since — snatching up the state’s top talent for his political operation, cultivating personal relationships with influential people on the ground … repeated trips to keep tabs on his burgeoning circuit of supporters in the state.

As a result, Rubio has quietly achieved something in South Carolina that no Republican candidate can claim in Iowa or New Hampshire: an organizational lock on one of the most important states en route to the GOP nomination.

The senator’s inner circle is stacked with South Carolina veterans. His super PAC is headquartered in Columbia and run by the capital’s most experienced strategist. And Rubio has secured the support of major players in the state’s business community. In fact, according to multiple Republicans not affiliated with any candidate, several of the state’s most prominent and politically active businessmen have made it known they will support Rubio.

WILL EVANGELICALS PROPEL ANOTHER BUSH TO VICTORY IN SOUTH CAROLINA? via Jim Geraghty of the National Review

As part of an effort to win over South Carolina’s evangelical leaders, Jeb Bush held a private breakfast meeting on May 2 with a group of about 40 pastors in Greenville. “Governor Bush did himself a lot of good that week,” says a veteran of South Carolina politics, currently not backing any of the 2016 contenders, who was in the room. “He talked about his faith and Jesus Christ, and it was compelling to the pastors there. They weren’t all rushing up to sign on with him, but he came across as a serious guy who had really thought through issues of faith.”

Bush’s past support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — which many conservatives view as tantamount to supporting amnesty — is a serious liability in some Republican circles, but may help him with some Christian leaders. … Bush’s views generally line up with the Evangelical community’s views on immigration reform.

A week after the meeting with pastors, Bush gave the commencement address at Liberty University … further elaborated on his views about religious liberty and the role of the state: There are consequences when you don’t genuflect to the latest secular dogmas. And those dogmas can be hard to keep up with.

So we find officials in a major city demanding that pastors turn over copies of their sermons. Or federal judges mistaking themselves for elected legislators, and imposing restrictions and rights that do not exist in the Constitution. Or an agency dictating to a Catholic charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, what has to go in their health plan — and never mind objections of conscience.

Somebody here is being small-minded and intolerant, and it sure isn’t the nuns, ministers, and laymen and -women who ask only to live and practice their faith. Federal authorities are demanding obedience, in complete disregard of religious conscience — and in a free society, the answer is no.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising that Jeb Bush sees this demographic as a potential strength in a Republican primary. After all, both evangelical Christians and South Carolinians have been good to the Bush family in past presidential campaigns.

ACTUAL HEADLINE FROM POLITICO:WALKER TO FLORIDA: DROP DEAD” based on this Tampa Bay Times story

Walker suggested in a radio interview with Laura Ingraham today that he could sit out Florida’s March 15, 2016, Republican presidential primary. ‘I don’t think there’s a state out there we wouldn’t play in – other than maybe Florida, where Bush and Rubio are in some of the polls essentially tied and they are going to eat up a good amount of that financial advantage that Gov. Bush is going to have. Remember, Rick Scott spent something like $100 million running for governor there last year.

TWEET, TWEET: @LearyReports: Spox on Fla primary: “Gov. Walker is not a candidate. Should he decide to move forward, that decision will be made at the appropriate time.”

2016 READS

How Bernie Sanders qualifies for the Fla prez ballot” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Koch Brothers plan to fund ‘several’ GOP 2016 Presidential hopefuls” via David Knowles of Bloomberg Politics

The First Cuban-American President: It could be Jeb Bush” via Michael Mishak of the National Journal

What Scott Walker and Marco Rubio are doing right” via Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post

JOHN MORGAN WANTS HILLARY TO LOOSEN UP ON POT via Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast

When Hillary Clinton heads to Florida this week, she can expect to talk pot. And she can expect a bit of profanity … she’s stopping by the home of John Morgan … one of the state’s most influential Democratic donors.

Morgan’s sizable bank account and extraordinary candor have made him one of the Sunshine State’s most powerful politicos—and one of its most formidable. Democratic candidates line up to kiss his ring, and Democratic presidents swing by his house when they’re in town … unlike gaffe-shy political candidates, Morgan seems to have zero qualms when it comes to speaking his mind.

So Clinton might get an earful.

Hillary is incredibly wishy-washy on one of Morgan’s biggest issues: medical marijuana legalization. For Morgan, it’s personal.

Clinton’s stance on medical marijuana is about as obtuse as Morgan’s is clear. The former secretary of state has indicated that she’s comfortable with the Obama administration’s hands-off stance to Washington and Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, but she’s also telegraphed some Reaganesque views on the drug war.

Morgan … hopes to push Clinton on her stance when she comes by his house.

Morgan’s wife, a Republican, is also a big Jeb fan … she’s been talking with Bush World about setting up a fundraiser for the candidate. If that fundraiser goes through, then Morgan might be the only person to welcome both the Democratic and the Republican 2016 frontrunners into his home. Two Republicans who will decidedly not be welcome: Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina.

CLUB FOR GROWTH PRAISES ALAN GRAYSON IN NEW AD via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

The Club for Growth is out with an unusual TV ad praising Alan Grayson and criticizing Patrick Murphy over the Ex-Im Bank.

“The ad will begin airing tomorrow statewide on MSNBC and other outlets in Florida, and it represents the third phase in an overall $1 million campaign, including digital advertising,” the group said in a news release.

Grayson, who could challenge Murphy for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, opposes the Export-Import Bank. But what’s really going on here? The Club is backing Ron DeSantis, the Republican congressman who is running for Senate.

… MURPHY PUSHES BACK via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

Josh Wolf, Murphy’s campaign manager, insisted the Club for Growth and other conservatives are scared of his candidate and are already looking to derail him.

“The fact that an ultra-right-wing Super PAC that aims to privatize Social Security is attacking Patrick is the clearest sign that he’s the strongest candidate in this race,” Wolf said. “Patrick entered public office to fight back against tea party obstructionists like the Club for Growth who are intent on outsourcing Florida jobs overseas and privatizing Social Security and Medicare.”

In an email to supporters sent out on Tuesday night, Wolf once again slammed the “ultra-right-wing Super PAC Club for Growth” and asked, “Why are they attacking him? Because they know that he’s the only Democrat who can win. The Club for Growth is targeting strong Democrats across the country — they’ve even attacked Elizabeth Warren on the same issue.”

ANOTHER LEGAL BATTLE BREWING OVER TAXPAYER-HELPED CAMPAIGNS via Gary Fineout of the Fine Print

Former State Rep. Perry Thurston lost his bid last year to become the state’s top legal affairs officer … is embarking on a legal challenge that could affect future statewide campaigns.

The unsuccessful Democratic candidate for attorney general … asserting that the Department of State improperly denied his request last summer for matching funds.

Matching funds are taxpayer money that is made available to statewide candidates based on certain eligibility criteria. Those who meet the criteria receive an initial two-for-one match for contributions from Florida residents followed by additional distributions at a one for one match.

The Legislature tried to repeal the program but voters turned down a proposed amendment to get rid of the money. Thurston asserts he cleared the thresholds needed to get the matching funds including raising at least $100,000.

But … Florida Elections Commission attorneys who work for Secretary of State Ken Detzner maintain that the documentation submitted by Thurston in August 2014 put him at slightly more than $99,000 – or below the threshold. They contend that the Thurston campaign did not question the omission of other documentation until after he has lost the Democratic primary to George Sheldon and by then it was too late because he was no longer a candidate.

Thurston appealed the finding to the commission but the panel last week voted against him.

BLAISE INGOGLIA SAYS LENNY CURRY VICTORY A “PROXY” FOR RPOF STRATEGY TO WIN IN 2016 via Mitch Perry of the Florida Politics

Blaise Ingoglia has been a man on a mission since he upset the GOP establishment by becoming the surprise new head of the Republican Party of Florida in January.

At the party’s spring quarterly meeting in Orlando this month, the native New Yorker and state House member introduced what he said will be a key to the party putting the state into the ‘R’ column in November of 2016. It’s a program called Project 29, which the representative of Spring Hill and other parts of Hernando County says is a plan to fully engage in all communities, including some the RPOF has only given lip service to: black and Hispanic voters.

Ingoglia is laser-focused on delivering Florida’s 29 electoral votes next year to whoever the Republicans nominate for president … Republicans have to win Florida and those 29 electoral votes to win the election.

Ingoglia said Lenny Curry‘s victor over Alvin Brown in last week’s mayoral election in Jacksonville is a “proxy” on how the party plans to turn out voters in next November’s presidential contest.

“In terms of having the best data available in order to turn out the vote and how we turn out the vote, the grassroots, the ground game and the digital part, the RPOF invested heavily in that, and the RPOF and the RNC (Republican National Committee) were both involved in that race, and the Florida Dems and the national Dems were also involved in that race, and we came out on top, so that’s what bodes well for 2016,” he said.

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SENATE LEADER FLOATS ‘COMPROMISE’ TO MEDICAID EXPANSION PLAN via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

Senate President Andy Gardiner … proposed significant changes … to legislation expanding Medicaid eligibility in the state, with an eye toward a compromise with the House to help solve the budget impasse between the two chambers.

Instead of moving the 800,000 Floridians who would be newly eligible for Medicaid into Florida’s Medicaid managed care program on July 1, recipients would be able to shop for plans offered on a federal exchange starting Jan. 1. New recipients would not be required to enroll in Medicaid and Medicaid managed care plans with HMOs would not be offered on the exchange.

The changes also include requiring new recipients to sign up with the state’s Career Source programs to help place the unemployed into new jobs. Gardiner’s original Medicaid expansion plan included requirements that recipients be employed or looking for work. There are also new provisions that assert state authority to review changes made by the federal government to the program.

Senators are couching the changes as a “compromise” with the House, which has balked at Senate attempts to expand Medicaid. House leaders have said Medicaid is a broken program with poor health outcomes, and expansion would rely too much on the federal government, including about $50 billion in federal money over 10 years.

REAX

A Healthy Florida Works: “Demonstrating a continued commitment to finding a solution to Florida’s health care crisis, the Florida Senate today offered a new version of its Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX) plan that preserves conservative guardrails and strengthens personal responsibility measures while extending health care coverage to more than 800,000 low-income, working Floridians. … With more consumer choice, stronger work requirements and greater state control, this is a Florida solution – and compromise – that we trust the Florida House of Representatives and Governor Rick Scott will consider. … A Healthy Florida Works fully supports the Senate’s FHIX compromise. A fiscally-responsible approach that covers more people is the right thing to do for Florida businesses and families.”

Americans for Prosperity – Florida’s Chris Hudson: “Senator Gardiner keeps insisting on putting lipstick on a pig in order to call his FHIX plan something other than Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. But the senate’s latest attempt to expand Medicaid is just that, more government-run health care. This isn’t a compromise. They are just dressing up a failed model from other states and hoping it sticks.”

HOW THE SENATE’S COMPROMISE OFFER IS PLAYING

Tampa TribuneFlorida Senate offers health care coverage compromise – “ … Gardiner announced what he called a ‘compromise’ on health care coverage … jettison an initial proposal to expand Medicaid this summer … still call for drawing down federal money …” Gainesville SunFla. Senate tweaks Medicaid in new compromise offer – “’… new version of FHIX still requires a waiver from the inflexible federal government and adds new elements to that waiver request, a request we know will never be approved,’ Crisafulli said …” Miami HeraldGardiner: Budget and health care debates operate on ‘parallel tracks’ – “’You could have a scenario where no health care bills get done and you do a budget and you go home,” Gardiner told reporters … ‘But I have confidence in the Senate that we’ll be able to address all these issues and we’ll figure it out.’” Naples Daily NewsFlorida Senate develops new plan to use Medicaid money for health care expansion – “Under the new plan, patients would go straight to the state-run exchanges … state would receive a waiver from the federal government allowing use of Medicaid money …” Associated PressFlorida Senate offers health care coverage compromise ahead of June special session – “Scott said the proposal would cost the state $5 billion over 10 years.”

CHECK OUT THIS QUICK VID FROM AFP FLORIDA (here) warning that “more accountability mail (is) on the way.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor joins a coalition including state Reps. Janet Cruz and Dwight Dudley, local leaders, union employees and health care representatives to call for Medicaid expansion action during June’s special session of the Florida Legislature. The press conference begins 11 a.m. at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, 100 Second Ave. N. in St. Petersburg.

RIFT WIDENS BETWEEN GOV AND SENATE — THEY NOW DISAGREE ABOUT BUDGET HOLE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Tensions continued to mount Tuesday between Gov. Scott and the Senate as … the governor’s Agency for Health Care administration issued a letter to the federal government suggesting that the state would not lose the $1 billion in federal money to reimburse hospitals…

Agency for Health Care Administration deputy director Justin Senior sent a letter to the federal Department of Health and Human Services suggesting that “there is no need to infuse additional state general revenue to maintain current Medicaid hospital funding levels” in the 2015-16 budget year because local governments could draw down matching funds to offset the $1 billion not coming to the state.

He quotes the May 21 letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which suggests that the state will get $1 billion and notes that “this level of funding for the LIP coupled with the options the state may elect at its discretion described in this letter would enable Florida to retain Medicaid investment in the state at or above the current $2.16 billion level of LIP funding.”

Senior concludes: “Based on this communication and our subsequent clarifying conversations, we understand that the renewed LIP will provide us with enough money to maintain current Medicaid program funding levels.”

He then attached a funding proposal that assumes local governments will draw down another $906 million and therefore eliminate the need for legislators to fill the funding gap for hospitals with general revenue funds.

Senate President Gardiner’s response: not so fast.

He called the approach “shortsighted and only kicks the can down the road” because it fails to address the reforms the federal government wants the state to adopt in order to provide insurance to the uninsured.

— “Tampa Bay business leaders push Gov. Rick Scott to support expanding Medicaid” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

SCOTT’S HEALTHCARE COMMISSION NARROWS ITS FOCUS TO MEDICAID, HOSPITALS ONLY via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

What started out as a review of “taxpayer-funded” healthcare commission has been, so far, limited to Medicaid only. … And apparently, hospitals only, even though the executive order creating the blue ribbon panel mentions insurance companies, managed care plans and healthcare providers.

The Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding held its second meeting in Orlando … continued to focus only on hospitals and has not discussed the role that insurance companies or managed care plans – some of which also received Medicaid dollars – play in the state’s health care delivery system.

Though Medicare, veterans’ health, and state group health insurance are taxpayer-funded programs that provide health care benefits Department of Health Secretary and state Surgeon General John Armstrong said focus would be on Medicaid, Low Income Pool and graduate medical education.

Armstrong told commission members the purview of the committee is limited to those areas because those are the ones the state can control, though that’s not completely accurate given Medicaid is under the auspices of the federal government and the state government.

Overall, the state group health insurance is estimated to cost $2.2 billion in 2014-15, of which $1.67 billion in paid for by the “employer” or the state of Florida.

In his executive order creating the commission … Scott noted it was “necessary to review Florida hospital, insurance and healthcare providers and how any taxpayer money and government policies contribute to the quality, profits, (including executive compensation packages) and losses of these institutional, and their impact on the affordability, access and quality of healthcare services for Florida families …”

Commission chairman Carlos Beruff told Florida Politics last week that he thought the commission’s focus would narrow to hospitals solely.

— “Haven’t we already read the story about Florida state senators working for hospitals, Florida Times-Union?” via Peter Schorsch Florida Politics

THE SLOW FADING LIGHT OF A SCOTT INITIATIVE via Gary Fineout of the Fine Print

Three years ago this May Gov. Scott unveiled an initiative that he said would help citizens hold their government accountable. Project Sunburst … was described as a way to increase access to public records held by the Scott administration – while at the same time helping cut down on the number of record requests constantly flowing in for emails from both the governor and his staff.

And when asked about other records, such as correspondence and letters written by Scott, then-Chief of Staff Steve MacNamara promised that would be added as well.

Let’s flash forward and see what’s there now … Letters? That never really got going. All that is on is the site are 11 letters written in June 2012.

Ok, so what about emails? … Well, there are more folders associated with former employees than people working there now.

There are four deputy chiefs of staff reporting to Melissa Sellers, Scott’s chief of staff and campaign manager for his re-election. None of them have their emails included in Sunburst. Nor does Scott’s current cabinet affairs director – an area that has been the source of consternation in recent months since the forced dismissal of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

Emails going into an account for Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera appear to have stopped going into Sunburst this past January.

WHAT RICK SCOTT’S OFFICE IS READING: “Why Florida, other free-market-friendly states are booming” via Ed Dean of the Sunshine State News

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth at Mission Foods in Lakeland. Press conference begins 12:45 p.m. at 2125 Interstate Drive.

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA CEO BILL JOHNSON SEEKS NEW STATE BUSINESS BRAND via Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay Times

Just three months into his role as Florida Secretary of Commerce and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Bill Johnson comes across as a veritable pitbull of salesmanship – a state official on a job recruiting mission with jaws firmly clamped on the prize.

In forceful remarks … to Tampa business leaders, Johnson said Enterprise Florida – the state’s job recruiting arm – has some 300 deals in the works involving potential job expansions across Florida. But Tampa and Hillsborough County are leaders of the pack, recently unveiling job deals for Ashley Furniture’s e-commerce operation in Ybor City and for startup Inspirata that has tapped cancer technology from Moffitt Cancer Center.

A potentially formidable expansion in Tampa by Johnson & Johnson … to open a 700-job shared services operation was mentioned twice. … But that deal remains competitive with locations in other states, officials say.

“This area is hitting home runs,” Johnson told a receptive Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. luncheon. They were some of his first public comments to the area business community.

One goal seems high on Johnson’s wish list: Creating a marketing campaign for Florida as a business destination.

To Johnson’s credit, he panned Florida’s first attempt to create a business brand. The early 2013 campaign, backed at the time by Gov. Scott and Swoope, featured a bright orange necktie replacing the letter “i” in “Florida” with the accompanying phrase “The Perfect Climate for Business.” Quickly panned as sexist, the brand evaporated.

FLORIDA GAMING REVENUE ALREADY PAST 2013-14 via Casino Doctors of GamingToday.com

With 10 months in the books Net Slot Revenue and state tax revenues already exceed the 2013-2014 fiscal year totals. Florida will show records for both when the final numbers are posted – even without shuttered Dania Jai Alai and Casino and repositioned Calder Race Course.

April was solid: up 6.5% with over $46 million in NSR – a $2.8 million increase over 2014. Six of the seven operating racinos enjoyed increases; four double digit increases. The usual leader, Isle at Pompano was up $1.4 million, 12.4%, however, the percentage leader went to Casino Miami Jai Alai, up 13.4% in the hotly contested Miami-Dade market.

Hialeah was slightly ahead of Magic City (Flagler) 10.2%. Both locations are clearly enjoying a second wind after the disappointing tourist season. … Hialeah, Jai Alai and Magic City are all inner city operations that have historically competed with one another as pari-mutuels. Gulfstream Park’s casino also produced a healthy gain, up 5%, and Mardi Gras (Hollywood) got into the black, up 1%.

Calder’s casino was the only venue showing a decline for the month and it was substantial, over 13%, which was expected. The facility which straddles the county line is owned by Churchill Downs, which jettisoned all but several weeks of live racing/simulcasting last year in favor of concentrating on operating their casino … the real results will be in next year’s productivity.

Broward’s venues were all up while Miami-Dade reported three up and one down. The strength of business in Broward vs. an additional three large, highly competitive and successful Seminole resort/casino properties is proof positive of the swelling gaming demographic and the draw of players from adjacent Palm Beach County.

Therein lies the elephant in the room. Quite clearly certain areas of the Sunshine State enjoy casino gaming and the ever increasing monthly results strongly suggest there’s plenty of room for more.

Apparently, Florida’s politics remain unwilling to effect a clear cut, predictable income stream from gambling to improve state coffers without spending a penny of tax payer dollars. Gambling has not been included as part of the upcoming special session June 1-20.

HAPPENING TODAY via LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ — State economists in the legislative Revenue Estimating Impact Conference discuss the upcoming special session 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in room 117 of the Knott Building.

WHAT TIM STAPLETON IS READING: “Medical graduates in short supply in Florida via Jerome Stockfisch” of the Tampa Tribune

— “WellCare selected to continue participating in the Florida Healthy Kids program” via Florida Politics

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

David Bishop, Solaris Consulting: PP+K

FACEBOOK RANT COSTS HILLSBOROUGH REPUBLICAN A PROMIENT APPOOINTMENT via Mike Salinero of the Tampa Tribune

Valrico businessman and Republican kingmaker Sam Rashid has never been known to pull his punches.

But the outspoken Rashid managed to go a rant too far in a Facebook posting last week, referring to three unnamed Hillsborough County Circuit Judges as “dumbasses.”

Though he later edited the statement – replacing the word with “dumb mothers” – the posting cost Rashid a U.S. senatorial appointment to the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission nominates candidates for federal judgeships, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.

The posting also could prove an embarrassment to the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a longtime friend of Rashid who appointed him to the commission.

After accepting Rubio’s appointment on Friday, Rashid had to formally decline it a day later. In a Saturday letter to the senator’s general counsel, Gregg T. Nunziata, Rashid said he was clearly not the appropriate person to fill the commission post.

“I appreciate the Senator’s confidence,” Rashid wrote, “but I actually pre-judged some un-named Circuit Judges in Hillsborough County.”

Rashid credited Chris Ingram, a Republican consultant and columnist for The Tampa Tribune’s editorial page, for calling him out on the potential bias in his comments about the judges. Those same judges Rashid disparaged could someday come before him to seek an appointment to the federal bench, Ingram said.

“What Chris said made a lot of sense to me,” Rashid said. “I sent an e-mail to the senators saying, ‘You know what guys, I am biased. When it comes to these judges in Hillsborough County, I have a really strong bias.’”

Rashid would not name the judges but said they had presided in litigation involving him or his company, Holtec, which manufactures machinery used in the lumber industry.

FLORIDA CHAMBER NAMES GRAYROBINSON FOUNDER TO CHAIR INNOVATION REPORT via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

The Florida Chamber of Commerce named a prominent legal expert to head its upcoming report on the effect of innovation on the state’s economy.

The Florida Chamber Foundation announced J. Charles “Charlie” Gray, founder and Chair of the GrayRobinson corporate law firm, as co-chair of the “Blueprint for Florida’s Innovation Economy.”

The report, a collaboration between the Foundation and the Florida Research Consortium, will assess innovation and its impact on Florida’s economy. The final data will be used to develop a roadmap for state-level policy and investments.

Gray’s role will be to provide counsel and guidance on research activities. He will also take the lead in rolling out of the report, which will publish October 2015.

PERSONNEL NOTE: LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS FLORIDA NAMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Penny Walker Bos is the new executive director of the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Bos, a 32-year veteran of Florida politics, will handle all activities and advocacy of the state’s largest civic engagement organization. She will work with the LWVF State Board on significant public policy issues.

Bos’ political career began in 1983 as a legislative aide, later serving as a lobbyist, public information officer for the Senate Reapportionment Committee, and senior policy analyst for the Joint Legislative Committee on Juvenile Justice. During her tenure, she has advocated a broad range of issues: welfare reform, Everglades’ restoration, food insecurity, health care, developmental disabilities, food stamp fraud, higher education, and vocational rehabilitation.

“The League has always been a leader in starting the conversation,” Bos said in a statement, “whether that is through voter registration tables at community events across Florida or on the steps of the Capitol during the legislative session.”

PERSONNEL NOTE: PUBLIC RELATIONS PRO JUDI SPANN MOVES TO JEA via Phil Ammann of Florida Politics

Veteran public relations expert Judi Spann (APR, CPRC) has joined JEA, Jacksonville’s community-owned utility, to manage corporate communications.

JEA is the leading Northeast Florida municipal utility, providing electricity, water, and wastewater services to the region.

Spann’s career includes stints in Tallahassee as a former communications director for three Florida state agencies – the Departments of Children and Families, State, and Health – in the administration of then-Gov. Charlie Crist. She also served as a senior public relations counselor for Salter Mitchell, the Tallahassee-based full-service public relations, issue advocacy, and marketing firm.

Most recently, Spann was senior director of communications for an association management organization representing the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, among others.

GOOD READ — ONE MAN’S MILLIONS TURN A COMMUNITY IN FLORIDA AROUND via Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times

Two decades ago, Harris Rosen, who grew up poor on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and became wealthy in the Florida hotel business, decided to shepherd part of his fortune into a troubled community with the melodious sounding name of Tangelo Park.

Twenty-one years later, with an infusion of $11 million of Rosen’s money so far, Tangelo Park is a striking success story. Nearly all its seniors graduate from high school, and most go on to college on full scholarships Rosen has financed.

Young children head for kindergarten primed for learning, or already reading, because of the free day care centers and a prekindergarten program Mr. Rosen provides. Property values have climbed. Houses and lawns, with few exceptions, are welcoming. Crime has plummeted.

Still, Tangelo Park’s progress raises as many questions as it answers. While heartwarming, can it be replicated? Or is it the singular story of a singular figure willing to donate not only his money but also his time?

Some elements of Tangelo Park’s success, like its focus on both early childhood education and college, are being used in other programs. And other individuals have played prominent roles in changing students’ lives elsewhere. But Tangelo Park is perhaps hard to mimic in other ways.

The community is small — with only 3,000 people — and filled with homeowners, making it unusual for an urban area. Tangelo has determined leaders who were fighting the drug trade even before Rosen’s arrival. And it has had Rosen’s focus and financing over 21 years.

“It’s not inexpensive,” Mr. Rosen said. “You stay until the neighborhood no longer needs you.”

But, he added, there are a lot of wealthy people with the resources to do the same thing if they choose.

CAROLE CRIST, FLORIDA’S FORMER FIRST LADY, OPENS BOUTIQUE NEAR BEACH DRIVE IN ST. PETE via Katherine Snow Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida’s former first lady, Carole Crist, has just opened a women’s clothing boutique on Third Avenue NE off of Beach Drive. Goddessey Boutique carries brightly colored resort wear, from cover ups to elegant flowing gowns, priced from $29 to more than $350.

The store is bright and airy with a white floor, white walls and a white leather sofa. It’s in the same space that housed Charlie Crist’s campaign headquarters when he ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010. The address is 300 Beach Drive, though it faces Third Avenue, a few doors west of Parkshore Grill.

Carole Crist … is a veteran businesswoman who helped run her family’s New York costume business for years and incorporated her own wholesale costume business, Goddessey LLC, in St. Petersburg in 2010.

A sign in the store window says Godessey Boutique will have limited hours through May. A tag line describes the shop’s offerings as “beautiful beach and resort wear for the chic & fabulous ladies of Tampa Bay.”

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.