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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – September 22

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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.

SCOTT WALKER EXITS ’16 RACE WITH HARSH WORDS FOR DONALD TRUMP

Warning that the Republican presidential race has become too nasty, Scott Walker exited the 2016 campaign on Monday and urged others to quit, too, and “clear the field” so someone can emerge to take down front-runner Donald Trump.

The announcement marked a dramatic fall for Walker, who was struggling to generate money and enthusiasm after surging into the race’s top tier earlier in the year. He will return to his job as governor of Wisconsin, where his term runs through 2018.

“Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top,” Walker said in a news conference. “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner.”

Walker said that is “fundamentally important to the future of the party and more importantly to the future of our country.”

One of the last Republicans to enter the race, Walker joined former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as one of the first to leave it. He found himself unable to adjust to Trump’s popularity or break out in either of the first two GOP debates. Both candidates warned of the billionaire businessman’s influence on the GOP as they stepped aside, although neither called him out by name.

“Sadly, the debate taking place in the Republican party today is not focused on that optimistic view of America,” Walker said. “Instead, it has drifted into personal attacks.” Walker’s sons, Matt and Alex, attended his speech. They each had taken a semester off from college to campaign with him.

HOW SCOTT WALKER BECAME AN ASTERISK via Glenn Thrush of POLITICO

Before there was Trump or Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina, there was Walker … After a promising start last winter, the two-term Wisconsin governor turned out to be a tentative and mistake-prone candidate who badly fumbled core Republican issues … “The impression I had,” said one veteran GOP operative, “was that Scott was making it up as he went along.”

But his sudden exit from the race … said just as much about the toxicity of the environment as the flaws of the man. Walker’s charisma-free Midwest pique simply couldn’t compete with Trump’s bellowing, telegenic challenge to the party establishment — during a primal-rage 2016 primary season when any candidate with a connection to government starts at a disadvantage … His stunning fall, from top tier hopeful to a so-called “asterisk candidate” who couldn’t break 1 percent in the latest CNN poll, also illustrated the limits of fundraising in a 2016 that was supposed to be dominated by unregulated campaign spending … had far less success raising hard money for his campaign and struggled to bankroll staffers in the states and travel.

— “7 gaffes that helped doom Scott Walker via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO

— FLORIDA TWEETS —

— @AdamSmithTimes: Lesson here I think is that threatening to skip Fla primary can destroy a campaign

— @JebBush: Scott Walker is a good man who has a proven record of fighting for conservative reforms. I know he’ll continue to do that as Governor.

— @WillWeatherford: @ScottWalker is a good man and a great Governor! I hope his supporters will now help another great Governor in @JebBush #AllinforJeb

JEB BUSH, HECKLED IN HOUSTON, CALLS FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM AND TAKES ON DONALD TRUMP via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Protesters wasted no time attacking Jeb Bush as he began a speech before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Houston. “Today I would like to honor three women, recognize them for the work they do,” Bush said as chants in the crowd began. He paused as it grew louder. “No hope without our vote,” the protesters shouted.

“I believe we need immigration reform,” Bush said. “I’ve been clear about this. I believe that Dream Act kids should have a path to citizenship.”

The outburst relented and Bush began a speech touching on his record as governor and plans for the future … alluded to Trump several times, pushing back on Trump’s comments about Bush speaking Spanish and having a Mexican-American wife … “We need to respect the rule of law,” he said. “But we don’t need to build a wall. We don’t need to deport every person …”

THE BEST THING I’VE READ THIS CAMPAIGN SEASON: “How Catholic faith changed my life” via Jeb Bush

— Bush gains support of Richard Graber, longtime Wisconsin GOP leader” via Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

ASSIGNMENT EDITORSBush heads to Cedar Falls for a meet and greet event at 8 a.m. CT. For more details visit iowameetandgreetwithjeb.eventbrite.com. Later, Bush heads to Gladbrook, Iowa for a Regulatory Reform roundtable at John Putney’s Farm. The farm is located at 1365 170th St, Gladbrook, IA, the event begins at 10 a.m. ET.  At 12 p.m. CT Bush will attend the Linn Eagles Lunch event at the Cedar Rapids Country Club. The event is open to the press, for more details, contact LinnEagles@gmail.com.

WALKER DROPPING OUT IS GOOD NEWS FOR MARCO RUBIO via Dylan Matthews of VOX

Walker (has) exited the Republican presidential race, so who gains? The only other solid conservative with a serious claim to electability: Marco Rubio.

Carson and Fiorina don’t have the actual record Walker supporters like. Trump’s views on entitlements don’t jibe well with Walker’s true-believing conservative donors. There’s an outside chance Ted Cruz could pick up some of the remnants, but Walker fans also touted his electability, something the junior senator from Texas can’t really boast. Only Rubio really fits the bill.

Rubio also tweeted condolences of sorts to Walker in a fairly transparent outreach attempt at his supporters. But he was also gaining before this all happened; Rubio is the only establishment contender to have gained in the polls since the last debate, as the rise of Carly Fiorina continues and Trump holds his lead.

It’s too early to declare that Rubio has sewn up the Republican establishment. Bush is still kicking, and Christie has a very low but ultimately nonzero chance of catching on. But at the moment, Rubio is the dark horse — and if insiders unite behind him, he may have a shot at beating Trump.

RUBIO CAMPAIGN MANAGER ON WALKER’S EXIT: IT’S ABOUT MONEY via Alex Gangitane of Roll Call

… Rubio’s campaign manager Terry Sullivan explained their differences between Walker’s campaign and Rubio’s.

“People drop out of campaigns because they run out of money,” Sullivan says at a forum for GOP campaign managers hosted by Google and National Review. “That’s why we run such a lean campaign.”

Sullivan said the Rubio campaign rarely gives out bumper stickers or yard signs, they suggest supporters go to their website and purchase them.

“It creates a culture and a mindset that’s very different; Marco flies commercial 95 percent of the time, always coach,” Sullivan said. “It’s all about how much money they’ve got into the direct voter impact.”

RUBIO MAKING ‘FULL COMMITMENT TO IOWA,’ AIDE SAYS via Jennifer Jacobs and Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register

Rubio has been slow to pick up the pace in Iowa, but … he’s “making a full commitment” to the state that leads off voting in the presidential race. “We’ve doubled the number of staff in the state in recent weeks, and plan to increase the amount of time Marco spends in the state,” Alex Conant, a spokesman for the GOP presidential candidate … they’ve been biding their time, knowing that victory in the caucuses traditionally goes to the candidate who gets hot at the end. Rubio enjoys a high favorability rating in Iowa even if his ballot share has been low … Rubio was one of the last candidates in the 2016 race to hire a paid Iowa director … still has only a handful of paid Iowa staffers, and he didn’t open an Iowa headquarters … until Aug. 28 … when he has campaigned here, he hasn’t often strayed from central Iowa. Meanwhile, Rubio has lagged in the bottom tier, never capturing more than 6 percent support. But 67 percent of likely GOP caucusgoers have positive feelings about Rubio.

— “Rubio gets presidential endorsement from Rep. Austin Scott” via Florida Politics

BOOK DEALS REWROTE RUBIO’S STORY OF FINANCIAL WOE via Marc Caputo and Manu Raju of POLITICO

After years of bad press about his poor money management, Rubio this summer quietly cleaned up his personal finances … refinanced the mortgage … paid off a high-interest home-equity line of credit that had saddled him with negative headlines. The changes — along with the sale of a Tallahassee rental money pit that had been dubbed Rubio’s “House of Horrors” — allowed him to run for the presidency with fewer distractions. They also gave his campaign a surprise boost.

Rubio’s personal financial picture has come a long way … but he still has a negative net worth … an average net worth of negative $175,592. Shedding the home-equity loan now brings it to a negative $55,000.

“I still recognize that despite all that, I make more money than most Americans do just by the amount senators are paid. … I don’t know if that’s eight times or 10 times the average pay, so I’m by no means poor,” Rubio told POLITICO. “I’m not as wealthy as most of the people I serve with. But I usually only discuss it in the context of something that is a policy issue — like student loans.”

HAPPENING TODAYRubio brings his vision … to Texas today with a high-profile fundraiser reception in the exclusive Dallas suburb of Highland Park … $2,000-per-couple event … Host reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; general reception is at 7 p.m. … includes former Republican U.S. Senator Phil Graham, Dallas-based investors George Bayoud and George Seay – a former top moneyman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential run — and lobbyist Nick Iarossi. South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, the outspoken conservative who serves on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, is the special guest.

SAVE THE DATERubio’s “New American Century” fundraising tour stops at Indian Harbour Beach in Brevard County on November 6 at 6 p.m. in the home of attorneys Geoff and Susan Smith. A spot on the chair committee is $5,000, with co-chairs raising $2,500. RSVP to Jason Steele at JasonSteele@ME.com or (321) 258-8993.

CARLY FIORINA’S TOP-TIER BAPTISM via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO

Moving to take advantage of her breakout debate performance and attendant surge in the polls, Fiorina and her top aides are aggressively reaching out to top GOP donors, operatives and elected officials in a frantic effort to build out her skeletal campaign infrastructure … it’s a bracing introduction to life as a top-tier candidate. Until recently … She was such an afterthought that she practically had to beg CNN to allow her into last week’s prime-time debate … maintained a staff of only around a dozen paid staffers … only a few aides on the ground in early states … she raised less than $5 million, a fraction of what most of her top rivals banked.

To maintain her momentum and fend off the attacks that rivals say are headed her way, she’ll require more than just endorsements: She must establish a far more robust political organization, one with high-profile surrogates, well-staffed offices in early primary states and seasoned strategists.

FIORINA SHOWS OFF A LIGHTER SIDE ON THE TONIGHT SHOW via Jill Colvin of the Associated Press

Fiorina impressed many with her strong performance in the second presidential debate, as she railed passionately against Planned Parenthood and outlined her hardline views on foreign policy.

But she showed off a lighter side during a taping of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” airing Monday night.

Fiorina … ends her appearance on the show by sharing a song she’d made up about her lazy dog, Snickers, who would prefer to sleep than take walks.

“My name’s Snick and you’re going to have to carry me,” she sang to the tune of “Rock Around the Clock,” earning loud applause.

She also took several jabs at … Trump, including comparing him to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The two of them have a lot in common, actually,” she said of Trump, drawing laughs from the crowd.

NEW TRUMP VIDEO SUGGESTS BUSH STILL INDULGING IN POT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

It was one of the lighter moments of last week’s 3-hour long GOP presidential debate from the Reagan Library.

We’re referring to when Bush confessed that he indulged in smoking cannabis. “Forty years ago I smoked marijuana, and I admit it,” Bush told the audience, responding to Rand Paul’s criticism that Republicans want to criminalize recreational marijuana use though some of them have used the drug themselves.

“I’m sure that other people might have done it and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom’s not happy that I just did.”

Now Donald Trump is busting the former Florida Governor for the remark. In a video posted to his Instagram account, the Donald has released an ad that suggests that some of Bush’s comments on the campaign trail are the result of Bush still indulging in pot.

POLL: HILLARY CLINTON’S LEAD OVER BERNIE SANDERS GROWS via Eric Bradner of CNN

Hillary Clinton‘s lead in the Democratic presidential primary race has grown — and if Vice President Joe Biden decides to stay out of the race, her numbers would rise even higher, a new CNN/ORC poll shows. Clinton is backed by 42% of Democratic primary voters nationally, compared to 24% for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 22% for Biden and 1% for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley … a marked improvement over an early September CNN/ORC poll that found Clinton leading Sanders, 37% to 27%, with Biden at 20% … Biden’s support comes almost entirely from Clinton’s camp. Without the vice president in the race, Clinton’s numbers climb by 15 percentage points, while Sanders’ increase by only 4 points — giving Clinton a nearly 2-to-1 lead at 57% to 28%, with O’Malley moving up to 2%.

— “Hillary Clinton to propose new prescription drug proposal this week” via the Associated Press

MEANWHILE … “Make Halloween great again? ‘Sexy’ Donald Trump Halloween costume released” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News

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REPUBLICAN LIBERTY CAUCUS SLAMS RPOF PROPOSAL THAT WOULD EXCLUDE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FROM MARCH BALLOT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Republican Party of Florida’s executive committee … is already getting bad reviews from at least one faction within the state GOP … one of the issues that will be discussed include excluding some of the biggest names running for president on next year’s primary ballot in March. Party leaders are unhappy that the RVSP’s haven’t been flying in for the Sunshine State Summit, a three day confab to be held in mid-November at the Rosen Shingle Creek … at this time, only Bush and Rubio have confirmed their attendance.

(As) a way to leverage other candidates to show up for the event, a proposal that will be discussed … would remove from next March’s Florida Presidential primary ballot any and all candidates who don’t attend the November event … it’s not going over very well with the rank and file.

“This is yet another glaring example of a heavy handed top down leadership style that ignores the wishes of the grass roots base of the party in favor of financial interests of party leadership in Tallahassee,” says a disgusted Bob White, Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida.

DWS APPOINTS S. FLORIDA REAL ESTATE MOGUL TO SUPERCHARGE DNC FUNDRAISING via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News

Debbie Wasserman Schultz … added another finance co-chairman, a Florida acquaintance … real estate developer Stephen H. Bittel, who recently hosted Vice President Joe Biden Jr. at a dinner to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Bittel’s appointment as co-chairman of the national finance committee means the sitting chair, Texas entrepreneur Henry Munoz, will have support, but perhaps more important, fall under Bittel’s watchful eye. Munoz has come under fire for favoritism, many in the party complaining he’s too close to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and is raising money for it instead of staying neutral.

Wasserman Schultz also moved six others to leadership positions to help raise money for the 2016 presidential race … put new controls on the finance committee, and a reflection of the need to raise large sums quickly … Texan Naomi Aberly, who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for President Obama; Ken Solomon, chief executive of the Tennis Channel; Michele Taylor, a party donor; Dale LeFebvre, an entrepreneur; Patrick Guarasci, owner of G. Strategies; and Lena Kennedy, an Obama donor from California.

ALAN GRAYSON SAYS HE MAY CALL FOR FEDERAL INVESTIGATION ON INCIDENT AT FLORIDA STATE FAIR via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

On February 7, 2014, 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III was killed as he tried to cross Interstate 4 in Tampa just west of U.S. Highway 301 – after being kicked out of the Florida State Fair for alleged disorderly conduct. The teen was one of more than 100 young people ejected that night after deputies said a stampede of teenagers had rushed through the Midway. His father, Andrew Joseph II, has spoken out about the incident over the past year and a half, saying that the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office and the fair authority were responsible for his son, who he says was wrongfully arrested and ejected from the fair.

Joseph, who lives in Riverview, has been a constant presence at press events over the past few months as media attention has focused on local law enforcement and the black community, fueled by a Tampa Bay Times report about how the Tampa Police Department had disproportionately arrested blacks for bicycle infractions. Joseph says he he’s grown weary of failing to gain the attention of those who might hold the Sheriffs Department accountable. But he may have finally found a champion for his cause in Alan Grayson.

The Orlando Democratic Congressman and Senate candidate Alan Grayson said on Monday afternoon that he now may call for a Justice Department investigation to uncover what happened in Joseph’s death.

“There’s a racial element to this that needs to be thoroughly investigated, since the children who were arrested were black, and the officers who arrested them were white,” said Grayson, who met with Joseph and other local activists (including members of the Black Lives Matter movement) at the Bricks, a funky bar/restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City, before later speaking before the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee.

FOR HEDGE FUNDS, DON’T SAY ‘GRAYSON,’ SAY ‘SYBILLINE’ via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Grayson … is removing his name from two hedge funds that sparked ethics complaints, but his Senate campaign says the changes are not an admission he did anything wrong … ethics law and House rules also prohibit a member from using his or her name on an entity that involves a fiduciary relationship.

Grayson filed papers with the Florida Department of State to change the name of The Grayson Fund Management Company, LLC to The Sybilline Fund Management Company, LLC. A separate filing would change the name of The Grayson Fund General Partner, LLC to The Sybilline Fund General Partner, LLC.

Grayson campaign spokesperson Kevin Franck … “There’s nothing wrong with the investor partnership using ‘Grayson’ in their name, but at this point, it’s simply easier to change the name than to argue about it.” In Greek mythology, the sybils were female prophets.

GWEN GRAHAM SAYS VOTES BASED ON ‘FACTS, NOT POLITICS’ via Ledyard King of the Tallahassee Democrat

Gwen Graham … was one of 25 Democrats who voted against the Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama has been championing … one of only two Democrats to support a GOP companion bill to prevent Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran.

That didn’t sit well with attendees at the “Blues and Boots” fundraiser in Marianna. “There were some very upset people,” Graham recalled. “I do not shy away from talking with folks, and I went right up, and they expressed their extreme dismay with my vote.” It’s not the first time Graham’s centrist course has aggravated the Democratic base in Florida’s 2nd District. “It was almost too much for me,” said Ray Bellamy, an orthopedic surgeon who volunteered on Graham’s campaign last year and donated $4,800. “We’re worried.”

BILL NELSON PITCHES IN FOR GWEN GRAHAM via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Nelson … went to bat for … Gwen Graham … sending out a fundraising email for her over the weekend. Graham is expected to be greatly impacted by redistricting … “I’ve been in politics for a while, so believe me when I say this — I’ve seen a lot,” Nelson wrote. “But today Washington’s more dysfunctional than ever. Too many politicians are solely interested in promoting their own agendas at the expense of the people they represent. That’s why Gwen stands out — she is one of the few people I know in Washington who always puts her constituents first.”

ATTACKS CONTINUE TO FLY IN S. FLORIDA EVEN BEFORE CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING FINALIZED via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

(The) contest is heading up between U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo … and former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo … The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) showcased a report from SaintPetersBlog on Taddeo’s finances … slammed Taddeo’s claim to be “middle class” despite her wealth … Taddeo’s team fired back … ripping Curbelo for voting to defund Planned Parenthood, calling his vote “unacceptable” and planning to “hold him accountable” for the vote.

RICK SCOTT HEADED TO KENTUCKY FOR JOBS IN THE SUNSHINE STATE; PLANS TO ANNOUNCE KENTUCKY COMPANY via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News

Scott’s trip to Kentucky in search of jobs here in the Sunshine State starts … where he will make an announcement about a Bluegrass State company expanding in Florida … After the announcement in Lexington, Scott will take part in economic development meetings … Scott was not ready to reveal the Kentucky company with plans of expanding here. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and members of the state’s chamber of commerce labeled Scott’s statements incorrect and politically driven.

SCOTT BUDGET WILL INCLUDE $19 MILLION FOR MENTAL HEALTH via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott … will ask for more than $19 million in his state budget proposal to address mental health and substance abuse in the state … The money is intended to fund proposals to expand mental health care services across the state, which Scott laid out in an executive order in June that said “state funding for mental healthcare is too fragmented.”

Scott’s budget will include: $12.8 million for Community Behavioral Health Services that aim to help people with mental health needs … $3.7 million to create five Community Action Treatment teams to treat youth with unmet mental health needs … $2.8 million to expand Family Intensive Treatment teams in counties where abuse and neglect is rampant and closely tied to substance abuse.

LEGISLATURE TELLS JUDGE THAT MAP KEEPING TED DEUTCH, LOIS FRANKEL VERTICAL FALLS FLAT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

(The) House and Senate have filed documents trashing an effort that mostly maintains the current configuration of Palm Beach County Democratic U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch … Six maps filed … stack them horizontally rather than having them course vertically, side-by-side from Broward into Palm Beach County … turn Frankel’s District 22 into a Broward-based district. Deutch’s District 21 would be completely contained in Palm Beach County.

But a group of voters dubbed the Romo plaintiffs have filed a seventh map with Lewis that leaves untouched Frankel’s current district, while adding a few more voters from Deutch’s home Palm Beach County to his seat. The House and Senate are urging Lewis to reject the plan.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION BILL MAKES STRANGE POLITICAL BEDFELLOWS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

A seemingly unlikely coalition of progressive groups, conservative organizations and businesses now have coalesced to support an anti-discrimination bill that historically hasn’t found traction in the Legislature … the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act,” aims to prohibit employment, retail and other discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, amending the state’s Civil Rights Act … Key Largo Republican Holly Raschein is sponsoring the bill in the House; Joe Abruzzo, a Boynton Beach Democrat, is carrying it in the Senate. A version … has been filed for the better part of the past decade, to no avail.

Some conservatives still bitterly oppose such legislation … such measures impede the religious rights of employers who choose not to knowingly hire gays, for example.

MAJOR PERSONNEL NOTE: Look for Stephanie Smith, who has had a cracker jack run with AT&T, to take over Uber’s external operations in Florida.

PERSONNEL NOTE: KIRK FORDHAM HEADS TO PETRIZZO GROUP via Anna Palmer of POLITICO

Kirk Fordham, executive director Gill Action Fund, is joining the Petrizzo Group as a senior vice president. The addition comes on the heels of Charles McCray and Jason Hunke joining the firm over the summer. The former long-time chief of staff to ex-Florida U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, he has also done stints as finance director for Mel Martinez for U.S. Senate and as chief of staff to New York Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds.

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SAVE THE DATE: State Rep. Jim Boyd is hosting a fundraising reception on Wednesday September 23 to support his re-election to House District 71. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 7051 Wireless Court in Sarasota. RSVP to Kelly Dowd at Kelly@KDLogisticsInc.com or (941) 312-1817.

CONTEXT FLORIDA: REPUBLICAN DEBATES, DEATH PENALTY AND FALLING TEEN PREGNANCY RATES

On Context Florida: Martin Dyckman says the Republican debates might say a lot about who shouldn’t be president, but almost nothing about which of the 16 might deserve to be. It’s hard to disagree with Marco Rubio’s take on the event: “We had a three-hour debate, no discussion about the national debt, very little about the economy, It was a constant he-said-she-said, what do you say because so-and-so called you this name or that name.” Julie Delegal’s opposition to the death penalty has nothing to do with fighting for the lives of convicted murderers. She opposes the death penalty because chasing vengeance drains the very life out of us. It debases us; it distorts our focus and diverts our attention toward those who deserve it least: the murderers. And it burns scores of millions of dollars in the process. According to Dr. Marc Yacht, teen pregnancy rates for girls 15 to 19 years old have fallen in the United States in direct relation to extensive preventive efforts. It would be tragic indeed to see family planning services fall victim to ideologies resulting in the reversal of teen pregnancy prevention and the increase in all unwanted pregnancies, he says.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

INTERESTING READ — HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL INC. via Jeré Longman of the New York Times

Increasingly, prep football talent is being consolidated on powerful public, private, parochial, charter and magnet school teams … recruiting to those schools is widespread in one guise or another. IMG is at the forefront … trying to enhance its academy brand with football … applying a business model to the gridiron that has long been profitable for tennis and has expanded to golf, soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field … recruits football players from around the country … offers high-performance training, college preparatory courses, coaches with N.F.L. playing experience, facilities that resemble a small college more than a high school, and a chance to play a national schedule and on ESPN against some of the highest-rated teams.

IMG officials are upfront about their profit motive … backed financially by state lawmakers … Although it is private, IMG Academy has received more than $7 million from the Florida state budget over the past two years … An additional $2 million was pledged by lawmakers in June but was then vetoed by … Rick Scott. (Officials) express fear that football might follow the path of high school basketball, which many feel has been corrupted by so-called diploma mills and the heavy influence of club teams and recruiting middlemen.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to William Stander, shhhhh!

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.

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