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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – November 12

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.


Florida will become ground zero for the GOP presidential campaign this weekend in Orlando, when the Republican Party of Florida kicks off it’s three-day Sunshine Summit with a speech by former Vice President Dick Cheney, followed by two days of speeches from 13 of the 15 candidates running for the nomination.

On Monday night, however, the RPOF interrupted the plans of many reporters intending on covering Cheney’s speech, saying that there isn’t enough room at the Walt Disney Resort Hotel to accommodate the nearly 200 journalists requesting credentials to hear the former VP. Instead, there will be a pool report, with reporters from the AP, Washington Post and Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times becoming the eyes and ears for everyone else.

All eyes will certainly be on the two Florida homeboys, former Governor Jeb Bush and current U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, both about equal in the polls but considered to be going in opposite directions when it comes to the trajectory in the race.

For Bush, it’s another chance to regroup before his home state followers, following his full day stop of Florida locations last week on his “Jeb can fix it” tour. Although Jeb backers insist it’s way too early in the cycle to start panicking, the fact is that the campaign is not where they thought they’d be some 13 months ago when Bush became the first major candidate to say that he would explore the presidency.

Although Rubio is doing slightly better than Bush in most polls, he’s still relegated in third place at best in all of them, with a double-digit deficit to Donald Trump and Ben Carson. But it’s exactly because it’s Trump and Carson who lead Rubio that give many pundits the standing to say that they think that Rubio is ascendant. While he received rapturous reviews following the Boulder debate last month, there wasn’t much movement in the polls — but there was with the conventional wisdom crowd.

Trump has led in all Florida polls since early August, and in a recent one, he was leading Carson by 20 percentage points. Can the occasional Florida resident really beat out Bush and Rubio in their home state when Florida registered Republicans vote in the primary next March? It’d be a coup for Trump to score high marks in the Sunshine State this week.

Carson is coming off the most scrutinized week of his presidential candidacy, as he’s blasted the media for concocting lies when it comes to reviewing his comments about being accepted into West Point and whether or not he really was a violent kid growing up (or saved whites on the night that MLK was assassinated and revolution was in the air). The West Palm Beach resident is scheduled to close out the list of GOP speakers on Friday.

Rubio, Bush and Trump will join Carson on Fridays’ agenda, along with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

On Saturday, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Carly Fiorina of California will speak.

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TWEET, TWEET: @RupertMurdoch: Great debate. All did well, Carson, Bush, others did well, perhaps Rubio best of all. With all doing well Trump did not stand out like past … Second thoughts! Kasich, Cruz talked nonsense on banking, Trump likewise on immigration. Fiorina best prepared. Maybe great at State Dept.

DEBATE AFTERMATH: CAMPAIGNING, QUESTIONS FOR GOP CANDIDATES via Sergio Bustos of the Associated Press – Trump defended his plan Wednesday to deport millions living here illegally, saying it could be done “humanely.” Rubio batted back a question over his relationship with Bush.

Trump repeated his call for mass deportations of people here illegally. He touted President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s efforts in the 1950s as proof such a mass deportation can be done. When pressed on how he could carry out the deportation of millions, Trump said “you’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely.”

Rubio said the government must deal with those here illegally “responsibly but realistically.” He said those applying to remain legally would have to pass a criminal background check, pay a fine and learn English, among other requirements. He said they would then get a “work permit” valid for at least 10 years.

In a statement, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Christina Freundlich said Rubio “is offering no solutions to provide relief for our country’s immigrants.”

“Instead, he is trying to win over Trump supporters while turning his back on families that have a similar story to his own,” she said.

Trump, Rubio and most of the other GOP presidential candidates were campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, all states with early contests.

Carson was in Virginia, where he told a crowd of 12,000 at Liberty University that the campaign is fraught with “propaganda.” He has criticized the news media following reports that questioned details of the personal narrative.

“So many in the media want to bring me down, because I represent something that they can’t stand,” Carson said, later asking students to pray for him and his family.

In Iowa, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he was happy with his performance in the undercard debate and that he is not going anywhere.

An upbeat Bush, also in Iowa, said he was pleased with his debate appearance as he made his way through a crowded corner of a Hy Vee grocery store in Johnston, pouring coffee at the store’s annual Veterans Day breakfast.

Supporters among the more than 100 who came out to see him generally agreed Bush rebounded Tuesday in Milwaukee from a poor debate performance last month in Colorado.

REPUBLICAN DEBATE DRAWS 13 MILLION VIEWERS AS RATINGS SLIP via Emily Steel of The New York Times – Viewership was the most ever in the history of the [Fox] business news network, but less than previous debates in the 2016 presidential race …  Received generally positive reviews … The event was a big moment for Fox Business Network. Started eight years ago, the network is available in about 82 million homes, less than the 97 million homes where CNBC, CNN and Fox News are available.

DONALD TRUMP LEADS IN POST-DEBATE ONLINE POLLS via Jesse Byrnes of The Hill – Trump took 38 percent of the vote in the Drudge Report poll as of 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, followed by … Cruz at 22 percent … Paul at 16 percent and … Rubio at 12 percent. Other candidates took 5 percent or less in the poll. Trump also led in Time magazine’s online poll, taking 43 percent, followed by Paul at 19 percent, Rubio at 15 percent, Cruz at 7 percent … Kasich at 5 percent and … Fiorina and … Carson at 4 percent each … another online poll from Fox News heading into the debate found 50 percent of respondents saying they thought Paul would win … followed by Trump at 23 percent, Cruz at 13 percent, Rubio at 6 percent and Carson at 4 percent.

TRUMP: IT’S ‘BEAUTIFUL’ TO WATCH GOP RIVALS DROP OUT via Kathleen Ronayne of The Associated Press – Trump is just fine with eight candidates on the debate stage, and he wouldn’t mind if a few more disappear before the next one. “We started off with 17, and one by one by one they’re disappearing … It’s a beautiful thing to watch as they go out — I love it.”

MARCO RUBIO SAYS HE AND JEB BUSH ARE ‘FINE,’ DESPITE APPARENT DEBATE REBUFF via Corrine Cathcart of ABC News – Rubio said … he and … Bush were “fine,” despite footage from Tuesday night’s GOP debate appearing to show Bush rebuffing Rubio’s attempt to speak to him during a commercial break. “It looked that way, but that’s not what happened. We were fine.” As the lights dimmed during a commercial break … Rubio approached the former governor as Bush appeared to shake his head at him. Rubio instead turned and spoke to front-runner Trump.

TWEET, TWEET: @DToddHarris: Major donor we’ve been chasing for 6 weeks just sent a two-word email to the campaign: “I’m in.”

SUPER PAC AIMS TO FIX JEB BUSH via Dave Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity – Pro-Bush Right to Rise USA aired more than 1,400 ads on TV networks and national cable from Nov. 3 through Nov. 9 … For the week, that represents nearly one in three presidential-focused TV ads aired by any candidate or political committee, Republican or Democratic — and roughly one of every two spots in the GOP presidential primary. [The] boost comes at a critical time for Bush, who faces … a “make-or-break moment” while tonight sharing a Republican presidential debate stage with seven other GOP hopefuls … It allows Bush’s own campaign … to conserve resources … Right to Rise USA has sponsored nearly 10,000 TV ad spots for the election cycle through Monday. Bush’s own campaign? About 400 … where might Bush be without them? In New Hampshire … numbers are marginally better than his standing in national polls. Same in Iowa. Recent super PAC ads have focused on Bush’s record on jobs, financial matters and budgetary issues.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Thank God. He stopped the bleeding… This can be the start of a turnaround if he builds on this solid performance.” — Ana Navarro, a Bush friend and adviser.

BUSH PLANS MAJOR D.C. FUNDRAISER via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO – Those involved with the planning of the event … on the evening of Dec. 3 at the home of former Ambassador Boyden Gray, said it would be one of Bush’s largest Washington fundraisers since he formally launched his candidacy last summer … host committee … includes over two dozen current members of Congress and over 60 lobbyists, fundraisers and financial players … Sens. Susan Collins and Orrin Hatch and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions … Bush family loyalists such as former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, former Transportation Secretary Maria Cino, and former George W. Bush chiefs of staff Andy Card and Josh Bolten. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is also listed.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush will begin the day with a private finance luncheon in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At 7:35 p.m. Eastern, the former governor will appear at an event in the home of Beverly Bruce, 300 Mountain Road, Center Tuftonboro in New Hampshire.

MEANWHILE … CHARLES KOCH HAS NO PLANS TO BACK A CANDIDATE IN REPUBLICAN PRIMARY via Fredreka Schouten of USA TODAY  Koch said … he’s unlikely to back a candidate in the crowded Republican presidential primary … seems less than enthusiastic about his choices … “I have no plans to support anybody in the primary now” … Asked what he wants to hear from Republican contenders vying for his support, Koch said: “It’s not only what they say … If they start saying things we think are beneficial overall and will change the trajectory of the country, then that would be good, but we have to believe also they’ll follow through on it, and by and large, candidates don’t do that.”

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2018 WATCH/SPOTTED: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in Vanity Fair Magazine, featured in a story about the city’s rising tides and anti-flooding pump program, titled “Can Miami Beach Survive Global Warming?” Several times in the article, Levine is compared favorably to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as the piece discusses sea-level rise, and how Miami is addressing the problem.

CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA ANNOUNCES NINE STATE LAWMAKERS’ ENDORSEMENTS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The Orlando-area endorsements are: Reps. Jason Brodeur … Bob Cortes … Tom Goodson … Mike LaRosa … Marlene O’Toole … Scott Plakon … Rene Plasencia … David Santiago … and Ritch Workman.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Congressman Patrick Murphy will hold a press teleconference call at 2:30 p.m. to announce a major union endorsement in his campaign for U.S. Senate. Call-in number and code can be obtained through

UTILITY-BACKED SOLAR AMENDMENT RAKES IN CAMPAIGN CASH via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics  – Consumers for Smart Solar has raised nearly $3.8 million, including $2.3 million in October alone … a combined $1.1 million was chipped in by Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power Co. and Florida Power & Light … Another $350,000 came from the 60 Plus Association, a conservative alternative to AARP. The group actually spent more than it took in that month, reporting expenditures of close to $2.6 million. Overall, Consumers for Smart Solar has roughly $191,000 cash on hand.

— “October fundraising shows Katherine Van Zant the candidate to beat in HD 19 race” via Florida Politics

— “Democrat Rena Upshaw-Frazier surpasses incumbent Ross Spano in Oct. HD 59 fundraising” via Florida Politics

SAVE THE DATE: On Monday, Nov. 16, House Majority 2016 is hosting a joint fundraiser for state Reps. Colleen BurtonDoug BroxsonBrad DrakeJulio Gonzalez and Tom Goodson at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, 136 Bronough Street in Tallahassee. Event begins 5:30 p.m.

CORRECTION: In yesterday’s edition of Sunburn, we labeled Bev Kilmer a Republican turned Democrat. There has been no such switch. Kilmer is a Republican running in HD 5.

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SERVICE FOR RHEA CHILES, WIDOW OF GOVERNOR, SET FOR TALLAHASSEE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – A celebration of her life will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee. In lieu of flowers, her four children have asked that donations be sent to the Children’s Home Society ( or the Lawton Chiles Foundation.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING — FLORIDA ADDS 15,400 PRIVATE-SECTOR JOBS IN OCT., ADP REPORTS via Florida Politics – Florida gained 15,400 private sector jobs last month … put the Sunshine State in third-place among the 50 states … California, which added 23,000 jobs, and Texas, which saw a 17,200-job gain, added more … new jobs mainly came to the service industry, with just 500 positions heading to goods producing industries … Florida lost 300 manufacturing jobs … offset by a gain of 800 jobs in the natural resources, mining and construction industries. In the service sector, professional and business services companies added 2,600 jobs and trade, transportation and utility companies added 2,800 jobs.

WITH BUDGET FIGHT LOOMING, RICK SCOTT HEALTH COMMISSION SHOWS LITTLE PROGRESS via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – The onetime hospital executive, who was forced out of his own company in the wake of a federal investigation, could soon lose some of his tactical advantage. When Carlos Beruff, chairman of the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, moved … to adjourn the November meeting without discussing a final report, commissioner Chip Diehl spoke up, asking whether they would be given time to discuss or workshop a final report. “We enjoy the workshops … Are we going to see any before Christmas? You know, where we actually talk like we did before, interact, engage?” Two weeks ago, the commission’s website was updated to include proposed price transparency legislation that the committee never discussed. The bill is considered a top priority for Scott, but so far no legislator has stepped forward to sponsor it.

SECOND MAYOR SIGNS ON TO RICK SCOTT’S ECONOMIC-INCENTIVE FORM LETTER via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Scott’s public form-letter approach to building support for more economic incentive money … The letter’s language was mostly filled in, with the exception of blanks for the mayor’s name and the city they lead. Scott is asking lawmakers to pass a series of reforms to Enterprise Florida, the Scott-chaired public-private economic development organization. The biggest portion of that push is the “Florida Enterprise Fund,” a proposed $250 million pot of funds … to lure companies to Florida. The first two … are Apalachicola Mayor Van W. Johnson, Sr. … and Fort Myers Randall P. Henderson, Jr.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make 8 a.m. education announcement at the Association of Florida Colleges Trustee Commission, Buena Vista Palace, 1900 Buena Vista Dr. in Orlando. Then, at 10:45 a.m. (Central), the governor makes the last stop on his “$1 Billion Tax Cut Tour” with a visit to Merrick Industries, 10 Arthur Dr. in Lynn Haven.

FLORIDA’S ORANGE CROP FORECAST CONTINUES TO PLUMMET via WPTV – Florida’s orange harvest forecast for the 2015-2016 growing season was adjusted down about 7.5 percent … from the initial prediction made a month ago by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “This reduced forecast underscores the magnitude of the challenge facing the Florida citrus industry,” Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said … the state’s orange production, heavily impacted by citrus greening disease, will be enough to fill 74 million 90-pound boxes, with a grapefruit production also showing a slight decrease from initial projections. “If realized, this forecast will be 24 percent less than last season’s production and the least since the 1963-64 season of 58.3 million boxes,” the federal department wrote.

PINELLAS LAWSUIT ALLEGES DRAFTKINGS, FANDUEL ARE ILLEGAL GAMBLING SITES via William Levesque of the Tampa Bay Times – The lawsuit by Nelson C. Steiner was filed in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court … against DraftKings and FanDuel … Steiner … has never gambled on the sites … said the two websites engage in “seductive” and widespread advertising that entice participants with the potential of rich winnings. But … are violating Florida gambling law … “illegal gambling deprives the State of legitimate tax revenues which would be received if the illegal wagering were done under proper state laws.”


Travis BlantonJon Johnson, Johnson & Blanton: Bay Medical Center

Karen Bowling, Foley & Lardner: Anderson Columbia

Michael DanielsAndre Howard: Florida Alliance for Assistive Services & Technology

Larry OvertonJoel OvertonSteve Bahmer, Larry J. Overton & Associates: LeadingAge Florida; Concordia Behavioral Health

Kirk Pepper, Capitol Insight: City of Winter Park

David Ramba, Ramba Consulting Group: FLGR Development

Scott Ross, Capital City Consulting: Thinking Media

SAVE THE DATE: College Republicans of Florida State University is holding their 2015 Fall Fundraiser/meet-and-greet Tuesday, Nov. 17, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Versailles Lounge, 1215 West College Ave. in Tallahassee. The fundraiser will help fund a visit to the Conservative Political Action conference in March, the Annual Gala in April and promoting a conservative voice on the FSU campus. Students can RSVP at Eventbrite; legislators can RSVP at

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Troy Kinsey’s co-pilot, Taylor Biehl, my paisan Nick DiCiglie, and one of St. Petersburg’s leading lights, Anne Drake.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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