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 U.S. space program finally got off the ground on this date in 1961 when astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, Shepard’s 15-minute, 300-mile suborbital flight paved the way for greater glory in the decade ahead. Shepard didn’t return to space for another 10 years … but when he did, he did it big. As commander of Apollo 14, he was the oldest person to walk on the moon – and the only one to drive a golf ball on the lunar surface.
HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!
DAYS UNTIL Mother’s Day: 5; Jacksonville’s Mayoral Election: 14; Debut of Mad Max: Fury Road: 9; Special Session (Maybe) 26; Major League Baseball All-Star game: 69; Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts: 233; First Day of 2016 Legislative Schedule: 252; Florida’s Presidential Primary: 314; Florida’s 2016 Primary Election: 483; Florida’s 2016 General Election: 554.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of Tallahassee’s finest, Jim Magill. Also celebrating today is the future Mrs. David Jolly, Laura Donahoe and two of Florida’s top Democrats, Paul Flemming and Susannah Randolph.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Steve Schale: “First Monday after session and made it to Home Depot, Walmart & Grocery Store. Almost hit for the domestic cycle.”
THE FLORIDA GOP’S NEW COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AND PRESS SECRETARY ARE…
The RPOF will name today Wadi Gaitan as Communications Director and Mallory Deason as Press Secretary.
Deason comes on board by way of Enterprise Florida – Gov. Rick Scott‘s brainchild within-a-brainchild housed within the relatively new Department of Economic Opportunity – while Gaitan comes over from Majority Office of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
Gaitan, whose bilingual skills should serve the RPOF well, was also formerly a spokesman for now-U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo‘s campaign last year, when Curbelo narrowly defeated incumbent Joe Garcia to take an emerging battleground seat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District in November of 2014.
DEMOCRATIC ESTABLISHMENT GOES ALL-IN FOR PATRICK MURPHY SENATE BID via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Hoping to short-circuit a contentious primary, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has endorsed U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy‘s 2016 Senate bid.
In an endorsement message … Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the DSCC chairman, calls Jupiter Democrat Murphy “one of our party’s most promising rising stars” and “the strongest candidate to win the Florida Senate race.”
Liberal firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson … has said he’ll “probably” enter the race. Grayson’s left-leaning record could appeal to liberal Democratic primary voters, but might be a tough sell in a general election campaign.
The endorsement isn’t a complete shocker. Tester and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid both steered PAC money to Murphy’s campaign.
ALAN GRAYSON NOT DETERRED
“Florida Democratic voters choose our party nominee, not out-of-touch party bosses sipping cognac in a smoke-filled room in Washington, DC.,” Grayson told the Tampa Bay Times in an email. “As I said before, I am probably going to run for the Senate.”
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS NOT IMPRESSED WITH DSCC ENDORSEMENT OF MURPHY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
Grayson‘s entry into the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate for 2016 can’t come soon enough for the Florida Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus.
Just a few hours after the DSCC endorsed Murphy in his bid for Senate next year, the Progressive Caucus weighed in, and it wasn’t to congratulate Murphy.
“The idea that a senator from Montana and Wall Street Democrats know better than rank-and-file Florida Democrats is both patronizing and unsurprising,” says Susan Smith, Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida President in a statement. She was referring to Montana Senator and DSCC chairman Jon Tester‘s comment from this morning that Murphy “is one of our party’s most promising rising stars, and his track record of fighting for Florida’s working families, seniors, and the environment make him the strongest candidate to win the Florida Senate race and flip this seat.”
“Then again, no one knows better than Jon Tester that DSCC support doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Smith says, alluding to the fact that the DSCC endorsed Tester’s opponent back in 2006, hoping to close ranks behind the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate in that race, state Auditor John Morrison. Instead Tester entered the race and defeated Morrison, before going on and defeating the GOP candidate that November. He was subsequently reelected in 2012.
“Florida Democrats are looking to support a progressive candidate who will lead on big, bold economic populist ideas, not another politician who will do Wall Street’s bidding in Washington,” Smith says.
REPUBLICANS SAY DSCC ENDORSEMENT OF PATRICK MURPHY WILL ‘BACKFIRE’ via Phil Ammann at Florida Politics
Establishment Democrats endorsing Murphy in his Senate bid – including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – will surely backfire in 2016, predicts the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The NRSC’s email blasting the endorsement comes with the header that calls Murphy “privileged Patrick.”
“Congressman Murphy might believe that having Harry Reid’s endorsement will score him points with his Washington friends,” said NRSC spokesperson Matt Connelly, “but it will backfire with Florida’s families who want an independent leader who will help grow our economy, protect our country and get our fiscal house in order.”
“Regardless of what Democrat wins the primary,” Connelly added, “their record will be far out of step with Floridians looking to strengthen the middle class and protect Medicare.”
MY TAKE: THE COURTSHIP OF GWEN GRAHAM
As one name after another lines up behind Murphy, one Democratic star still, longingly, remains silent.
And we are going to take a guess why.
Graham is exactly the kind of Democrat that should be holding hands with Mr. “Not-of-the-Very-Far-Left” Murphy. After all, she has already taken some decidedly centrist (or at least not bowing down to the left wing of the left wing) votes; most notably against making Nancy Pelosi House Democratic Leader and in favor of the Keystone Pipeline.
Murphy is, as the say on the Hill, her kind of Democrat. He votes like she does, bucks the party from time to time, knows how to raise money and, oh yeah, he knows how to win tough races.
Graham, by all appearances, understands the sentiments of her own rural Democrats and also quite adroitly recognizes that her reelection comes down to their continued support. She, too, is proving to be a strong independent D who also knows how to win the tough one.
The two are like peas in a congressional pod.
So why hasn’t she joined that parade of fellow Democrats in tipping her NRA-adourned ball cap to Murphy. Could she be holding out for Mr. MSNBC himself?
Because, as the storyline of this rumor goes, there is a chance the courts could throw out the congressional maps and create an east-west seat. This district would essentially squeeze Graham out of her little slice of North Florida Way paradise.
If, and I am fully aware that this is a big “if,” they do indeed throw out the current maps and redraw Graham into oblivion, then, the logic goes, why shouldn’t she take a shot at the U.S. Senate seat herself?
It kind of makes sense. She has good national contacts, there is likely to be another woman at the top of the ticket, she knows how to campaign and if Grayson gets in, well, the math of 2 boys and 1 girl sure don’t hurt her chances any.
Or is she just playing coy?
WSJ/NBC POLL: JEB BUSH LEADS 2016 FIELD, BUT MARCO RUBIO IS CATCHING UP, HAS BRODER SUPPORT via Patrick O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal
Rubio had a very good month.
The Florida Republican enjoyed a notable bounce in support since formally entering the 2016 White House race on April 13, with three-out-of-four GOP primary voters now saying they could vote for the first-term senator, up from 56% in March … Only 15% say they could not see themselves supporting Rubio, the lowest among the 10 Republicans included in the survey.
The results suggest Rubio is the most widely acceptable Republican presidential contender among likely GOP primary voters, outpacing Jeb Bush, at 70%, and Scott Walker, at 61%. Rubio also claimed that distinction in the last Journal survey conducted in early March, more than a month before he announced his intention to run for president.
In the new poll, the 43-year-old Florida senator trailed Bush on the question of which Republican contender those same GOP voters would support, if the balloting began today, 18% to 23%, but he is the top choice when people were asked to name their top two picks. Some 41% of likely Republican primary voters said Rubio would be their first or second choice, ahead of Bush at 37% and Mr. Walker at 27%.
BUSH’S NEW HAMPSHIRE CALCULUS via Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal
The intensive and personal nature of his outreach underscores the high stakes for (Jeb) Bush in this first-in-the-nation primary state. With Iowa conservatives wary, his strength still unknown in South Carolina, and his home state of Florida no longer an early backstop (having bumped itself from fifth in the nominating line to the middle of the pack), New Hampshire has emerged as an almost must-win state for Bush in 2016.
Should Bush run (and, yes, his team is hyper-committed to casting this as a hypothetical), his advisers say his campaign will be a small-event-centric operation in the state: visiting VFW halls, diners, and supporters’ homes. For now, there is no talk of big rallies that might reek of presumption, which some GOP state operatives still believe helped sink his brother here in 2000. “I don’t see any coronation coming my way, trust me,” Bush said on his recent trip.
On the stump, Bush clearly prefers the give and take of questions with voters rather than speeches, in which he can come across as stiff. Indeed, at one of his appearances at a snowshoe club here, Bush’s staff only began showing his appearance on Twitter’s new live-streaming app, Periscope, after his prepared remarks were done.
But Bush is also keenly aware of who will be broadcasting his seemingly intimate appearances to the rest of the state. By the end of his second trip to New Hampshire this year, Bush has already made a point of meeting with the leading state-based media outlets. In March, he granted an exclusive sit-down with Josh McElveen, the political reporter for WMUR, the biggest statewide TV network, and he visited the offices of the New Hampshire Union Leader, the statewide paper published by Joe McQuaid. The two spoke for about a half-hour. “Our conversation was off the record, and the thing that impressed me most about him is, Christ, is he tall,” McQuaid says.
BUSH CAMPAIGN MAKES FIRST NEVADA HIRES via Jon Ralston of Ralston Reports
The former Florida governor’s Right to Rise PAC has tapped seasoned, successful GOP operative Ryan Erwin as a senior adviser and Erwin’s Red Rock Strategies staffer, Scott Scheid, as the state director. This is a very smart move by Team Jeb. Erwin is a proven winner and is well liked and well respected by Republicans and Democrats. He is Rep. Joe Heck’s top adviser and helped steer him to those last two crushing re-election victories. Erwin also helped Mitt Romney twice win the Nevada caucuses.
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN ON NEWSMAX TV: I ENDORSE JEB BUSH via Greg Richter of NewsMax
Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director, endorsed Bush, telling “Newsmax Prime” anchor and former Congressman J.D. Hayworth that the former Florida governor represents “the right position.”
The retired Air Force general says Bush is the best candidate to deal with the Islamic State (ISIS) and other national security threats.
“I’ve signed on as an adviser to Gov. Bush because he asked me and because he represents what I feel is the right position, which is the Republican internationalist position,” Hayden said. “If you’re looking for one sentence as to what a new president should do with regard to foreign policy: Get involved, and stay involved.”
JEB BUSH VS. HILLARY CLINTON RACE WOULD BE UNIQUE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
Although some fear a Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton presidential contest in 2016 is inevitable, it would be very unique in one respect.
According to research conducted by an official with the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, a Clinton/Bush matchup would be the first time in 120 years that neither major party has nominated a sitting elected or appointed political officeholder to be its nominee.
Bush has not held political office since his second term as governor in Florida expired in January 2007. Clinton’s last day as Secretary of State in the Obama administration was Feb. 1, 2013.
Writing in the Smart Politics blog, Eric J. Ostermeier writes that since the 1896 election between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryant, “at least one major party has chosen a sitting elected or appointed political official to be their nominee in 29 consecutive cycles, as well as 39 of the last 40 elections dating back to 1860. Even putting aside cycles with incumbent presidents, it has been quite unusual for at least one party not to nominate a sitting political officeholder in cycles without a president on the ballot — doing so in 19 of 24 such cycles since 1796.”
Of course, sitting presidents have been re-nominated by their party in 20 of these 29 cycles since the turn of the 20th century: in 1900, 1904, 1912, 1916, 1924, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1956, 1964, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1992, 1996, 2004 and 2012. But Ostermeier also notes that it’s been extremely unusual for at least one party not to back a sitting political officeholder in cycles without a president on the ballot — doing so in 19 of 24 cycles since 1796.
The only other cycles when no major party nominated a sitting appointed or elected official all occurred in the mid-19th century: 1844, 1852, 1856 and 1868.
FUTURE OF NEWS: CAMPAIGN COVERAGE VIA SNAPCHAT COULD SHAKE UP THE 2016 ELECTIONS via Jonathan Mahler of the New York Times
Will 2016 be the Snapchat election?
A company known for enabling teenagers in various states of undress to send disappearing selfies to each other is getting into politics. And with well over 100 million users, a huge swath of whom are in the United States and between the ages of 18 and 31, its potential to shake up the next election is considerable.
Snapchat is going a step further: It is creating its own content. This is something social platforms have generally been reluctant to do for the simple reason that it’s difficult. And expensive. The latter won’t be a problem for Snapchat, which was recently valued at a staggering $15 billion by investors. It has the resources to hire a lot more editors and reporters, even if they won’t gather and deliver news in the traditional way.
HOW GOOGLE COULD GIVE 2016 HOPEFULS AN EDGE via Patrick O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal
Iowans can expect to see a lot more of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker popping up in their Google browsers, if he decides to run for president later this year … the Walker team advertised aggressively on the popular search engine during his 2014 re-election and will likely do so again … the campaign was so aggressive in 2014 that Google highlighted its efforts in a just-released case study about the midterm campaigns.
Among the findings: Walker’s re-election team raised more money from ads pegged to Google searches than it spent to buy space above those search results, an unusually high return-on-investment for political campaigns … emphasis on web advertising and social media could give the most organized candidates a slight edge heading into the 2016 White House race because voters are tougher than ever to target through the use of traditional television ads.
The shift means political candidates will have to employ a more sophisticated media mix to reach the highest-value voters – like loyal Republicans in a GOP primary or the ever-dwindling sliver of truly undecided swing voters in the general election. The most nimble campaigns will use these new technologies to their advantage by adjusting their message — and the delivery mechanism for that message — throughout the race.
… [M]ore than 3,000 people who clicked on Walker’s Google search ads donated money to his campaign. That’s a small number, relative to the total contributions made to the governor, but people who donate money based on search advertising tend to give at a much higher level than, say, the people who reply to email solicitations.
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RICK SCOTT’S LAWSUIT AGAINST OBAMA FINDS SUPPORT FROM TEXAS, KANSAS via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times
Kansas and Texas are joining in Gov. Scott’s lawsuit against the federal government over health care funding. … The legal challenge alleges that federal health officials are trying to coerce Florida into expanding Medicaid by threatening to end the $2.2 billion Low Income Pool program, which reimburses hospitals for uncompensated care.
His lawsuit will now have the support of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, both of whom are Republicans.
“I am glad Kansas and Texas are joining our fight against the Obama Administration for attempting to coerce Florida into Obamacare expansion by ending an existing federal healthcare program and telling us to expand Medicaid instead,” Scott said … “The U.S. Supreme Court has already called this sort of coercion tactic illegal. Making sure all of our families have access to affordable, high quality health care is incredibly important and we will continue to fight to protect the health care of all of our families.”
Kansas and Texas are in a similar situation when it comes to healthcare funding.
SCOTT REAPPOINTS AGENCY HEADS SNUBBED BY SENATE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
After a slew of his appointees failed to win Florida Senate approval, Gov. Scott reappointed 14 of his agency heads for the year ahead.
Among the reappointments was Department of Health secretary and state Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong, who was grilled by a Senate committee during his confirmation hearing, and the state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who opposed the Legislature’s overwhelmingly approved online voter registration legislation.
Approving the governor’s appointments are usually expected to be a routine move for the Florida Senate. And senators did approve a couple dozen Scott appointees to college boards and other panels.
But Senate President Andy Gardiner … repeatedly said that the Senate’s icing of appointments had nothing to do with the standoff between the Senate and the alliance between the governor and House in opposition to expanding health insurance. Results, though, suggest the agency heads may have been pawns on the political chessboard.
Scott is required to reappoint those agency chiefs he wants to keep within 45 days of the end of session. Among those not on the list were Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson and Florida Department of Law Enforcement head Rick Swearingen, whose appointment also must draw support from the Florida Cabinet.
SAVE THE DATE: Maggie’s List, the conservative women’s Political Action Committee, is hosting a Tampa event that features a “special announcement” by Attorney General Pam Bondi. The event is set for Tuesday, May 19 at the Columbia Restaurant Museum, 2117 East 7th Avenue in Ybor City. A private reception is 5 – 5:30 p.m., with a general reception at 5:30 – 7 p.m. RSVP by Monday, May 18 to Brianna Jordan at Brianna@frontstreetflorida.com or (203) 313 – 4695; or to Christina Johnson – email@example.com or (850) 339 – 5773.
STATE MOVES TO DISMISS CHARLOTTE’S WEB CHALLENGE via James Call of Florida Politics
The Florida Department of Health is requesting a hearing for dismissal of a lawsuit holding up the state’s medical marijuana law. Baywood Nurseries of Apopka challenged a proposed rule. During a two-day hearing in April it argued the proposed regulations favor deep-pocket investors and would exclude smaller family-owned nurseries from a medical marijuana industry.
DOH says because Baywood lacked standing when it filed its petition that the Division of Administration hearing shouldn’t even have accepted the challenge.
DOH is relying on a 30-year-old ruling in a Florida abortion Medicaid case. The challenger was known as Alice P. and wanted to block a rule prohibiting Medicaid payments for an abortion. The court ruled she lacked standing; was not affected by the rule because she was not pregnant.
Baywood tackled DOH’s argument head on.
“In making the argument the Department disregards the parts of the Alice P. court’s rational that Alice P.’s chance or intention in becoming pregnant again were speculative.”
COST OF GRIDLOCK: SPECIAL SESSION LIKELY TO COST TAXPAYERS SIX FIGURES via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel
Florida taxpayers are likely to shell out an additional $156,000 this year as a result of the gridlock between the House and the Senate, at least if recent history is a good measure.
For the last 14 years, special sessions have cost an average of $156,411, according to numbers released by the Office of Legislative Services, which weren’t adjusted for inflation. Those figures do not include two special sessions in 2003, for which records were not available, and a special session in November 2010, when lawmakers were already in Tallahassee for an organizational session and opted to override some of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s vetoes.
The costs come mainly from travel and per diem food and lodging reimbursements for 160 lawmakers. Lawmakers receive a per diem allowance of $80 for food for the duration of the session, or can opt to have a $36 meal allowance per day and have their lodging reimbursed during their stay in the capital. Travel by road is reimbursed at a rate of $0.445 per mile, or by the lowest economy fare for air travel.
The precise cost of the session won’t be known until after it ends, but the length of the special session adds to the cost and since the session will address the budget and likely be two weeks at least, it could cost more than the average in recent years.
MIKE FASANO RAISES DOOMSDAY SCENARIO OF NO STATE BUDGET BY JULY 1 via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
Fasano … raised the possibility of a fiscal doomsday — the start of a new fiscal year on July 1 with no budget in place. Legislative leaders have said they won’t let that happen, but the House and Senate are locked in a bitter stalemate and it appears at the moment that a budget would not be completed until June.
In a letter to state highway safety chief Terry Rhodes, whose agency works with tax collectors in handling auto tag registrations, Fasano, a former state legislator, wrote:
“I have been following the irresponsible actions of our legislators which lead to the budget breakdown in Tallahassee. Until the budget is written and sent to the governor, the one constitutionally mandated duty of the Florida Legislature, I have great concerns for both the operation of my office and the customers we serve. While there is still time for the 2015-16 state budget to be agreed upon, the very real possibility exists that the current fiscal year may end without a new budget in place. If so, I have questions I need to pose to you.
“I fully intend to open our office doors on July 1, budget or no budget. However, if July 1st dawns and there is no state budget in place, how will this fact impact tax collector offices, such as Pasco County, that provide drivers license, tag and title services? Even though we will be open and prepared to serve our customers on July 1st, will there be any services in Tallahassee to connect to?”
LEGISLATIVE STALEMATE PUTS FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN A BUDGETING BIND via Jeffrey Solochek and Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald
The early end to this year’s legislative session, without an approved budget, has put Florida school district leaders on edge.
Even in normal circumstances, school boards often struggle to craft spending plans largely dictated by state funding formulas. This year, they face the task without any hard numbers as a starting point. That means they regularly operate each fall on tentative plans, using money carried over from the previous year.
The difference now is that lawmakers have not settled issues such as how much money schools will get per student and whether districts will share tax money dedicated to construction and renovation costs with charter schools.
Usually, school boards spend May and June writing their line-by-line spending plans, using legislative budgets as a guide. State law requires them to get the heavy lifting done in time to publish their proposed tax rates within 29 days of receiving a taxable value certification from property appraisers, which comes no later than July 1.
Yet, the Legislature appears unlikely to convene a budget special session until June. The disrupted timetable is less of a concern for county and municipal governments, which start their new fiscal years Oct. 1.
But, for school districts, the issue is more pressing. And the disconnect between the information they need and what they have is frustrating superintendents.
JOHN LEGG OBJECTS TO RESOLUTION HONORING OUTGOING FEA PRESIDENT ANDY FORD via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times
Legg … released a letter in which he asked the Senate secretary to officially record his opposition to a resolution honoring outgoing Florida Education Association president Andy Ford and his contributions to public education.
Legg took particular umbrage to the statement that Ford “focused his efforts on high-quality public schools for every student, dignity and justice for all workers, equal opportunities regardless of race or gender, and furthering of education as a means for individuals to achieve the great American dream.”
“The bottom line is they’re suing a program that is helping kids,” Legg said, referring to the FEA’s participation in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s tax credit scholarship program. “I have nothing against Andy personally.”
Legg also rejected an award from the Florida School Boards Association in 2014, citing the FSBA’s part in the voucher lawsuit.
He said he would have voted against the Ford resolution, presented by Tampa Democrat Sen. Arthenia Joyner on the last day of session. However, he noted, such resolutions are automatically adopted by publication.
“There is no way to formally object,” Legg said. “There’s no way to vote no.”
JOHN LEGG MUST BE IN A MOOD: “Legg skipping Reagan Day Dinner because GOP club shut down“ via Political Fix
FORMER NAPLES COUNCILMAN PRICE TO RUN FOR STATE SENATE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of the Naples Daily News
Add Gary Price to the list of candidates vying to replace state Sen. Garrett Richter in 2016.
Price, a former Naples city councilman … plans to run for state Senate in District 23, which covers parts of Collier and Lee counties. In a statement, Price said he is “deeply concerned with the way Florida children, the elderly and the disabled are being treated by our various state agencies.”
Price’s announcement comes just days after the 2015 legislative session officially came to an end, and just shy of a week after the Florida House of Representatives adjourned early … Price took swipes at the House, saying members did a “disservice to their constituents last week by walking away from the Constitutionally-required duties and leaving unresolved legislative issues on the table.”
“Floridians don’t get to walk away from their work, from their bills or from their obligations when they are frustrated, and we can’t allow our elected officials to shirk their obligations either,” he said. “The people of Collier and Lee counties deserve better.”
Price, a financial planner, spent about a decade on Naples City Council. In 2014, he mulled a congressional run to replace former Rep. Trey Radel … but ultimately decided against it saying he wanted to put his family first.
SAVE THE DATE: Senate District 13 hopeful Rick Roach will hold a fundraiser for Sunday, May 31from 3-6 p.m. It will be very casual and will take place at Rick’s Sunset Bar and Stephie’s Lounge (the names of Roach’s back yard gathering places) and his 2,000 sq. ft. Key West Deck. Additional details are forthcoming.
SAVE THE DATE: State Rep. Doug Holder will hold an evening reception Thursday, May 7 in support of his bid for Senate District 28. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at The Francis, 1289 North Palm Avenue in Sarasota, Florida. Questions and RSVPs are through Meredith O’Rourke at Meredith@TheOrourkeGrp.com.
ORLANDO APPROVES MOVING CITY ELECTIONS TO NOVEMBER via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel
Orlando residents, mark your calendars: The city’s municipal elections — set to decide Mayor Buddy Dyer’s re-election, as well as three City Council seats — will be held Nov. 3, five months earlier than had been expected.
Commissioners voted to approve moving the city’s polling day five months forward, in order to avoid a presidential primary likely to include two Florida heavyweights, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Orlando had been set to vote in city races April 5, 2016, three weeks after the primary, but Orange County’s elections supervisor urged the city to reschedule, warning the proximity of the two votes would confuse voters.
Though critics said moving the election date to this fall could discourage potential challengers, commissioners and Orlando’s city attorney said avoiding the primary season would protect the city’s vote from partisan influence.
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CONTEXT FLORIDA: TALLAHASSEE TWERPS, CRISAFULLI RANTS, FAMILY INTRUSIONS AND STORMWATER
On Context Florida: Florence Snyder says that Rep. Matt Gaetz isn’t the only Tallahassee twerp to publicly disrespect his elders and betters, but he’s the first in memory to be called to account in the court of public opinion. Gaetz is better known as a master of the Twitterverse, where he spends a lot of time burnishing his credentials as the Eric Cartman of the lower chamber. Speaker Steve Crisafulli criticized a recent Supreme Court finding that the House adjourning three days early had “clearly violated the Constitution.” Crisafulli is off the mark on several points, says Jac Wilder VerSteeg. One fact is that it doesn’t matter what he thinks about the legality of his actions. Marc Yacht believes that microwaves, dishwashers, other contraptions are so many intrusions that have undermined contented family life. Stormwater – at least for now – is no longer a dirty word in Escambia County. Shannon Nickinson asks how long that will last.
FLORIDA COUPLE CONVICTED OF HAVING SEX ON BEACH via the Associated Press
A Florida couple accused of having sex on a public beach in front of families has been found guilty by a jury.
It took the Manatee County jury about 15 minutes Monday to find 20-year-old Elissa Alvarez and 40-year-old Jose Caballero guilty of lewd and lascivious exhibition.
Video played in the courtroom showed Alvarez moving on top of Caballero in a sexual manner in broad daylight. Witnesses testified that a 3-year-old girl saw them.
Both Caballero and Alvarez will now have to register as sex offenders.
The convictions carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years … a sentencing date was not announced, but Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca said they will pursue a harsher sentence for Caballero than Alvarez, because Alvarez has no prior record and Caballero has been to prison for almost eight years for a cocaine trafficking conviction.
The state will ask for prison time for both defendants.
JIMMY BUFFETT TO GIVE COMMENCEMENT SPPECH AT UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett is scheduled to give the commencement address for University of Miami.
The university says Buffett will speak Friday when during the combined graduation for six of the university’s schools, including the school of music.
The singer of “Margaritaville” fame and other hits is also a best-selling author, philanthropist and businessman.
Buffett is active with environmental causes, such as the Save the Manatees Club, which he co-founded in 1981. Last month, he performed at the Florida Capitol, to rally the cause of buying Everglades land from a sugar company to ensure its preservation.