Sunburn for 10/22 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

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IT’S 15 DAYS TO ELECTION DAY!

FIRST IN SUNBURN: POLL SHOWS OBAMA, ROMNEY DEADLOCKED AMONG FLORIDIANS WHO HAVE ALREADY VOTED

In an exclusive poll, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are deadlocked among Floridians who have already voted, providing the latest indication that the race for the Sunshine State will indeed go down to the wire.

Among those Floridians who say they have already voted, Romney received 49.3% support while Obama received 48.5%. The choice of voting for a third-party candidates received 1.9%.

The automated poll was conducted Saturday, October 20.  The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.0%.

>>>Among these early voters, Bill Nelson leads Connie Mack 50% to 45%; Also, 57% say they voted to retain the three Florida Supreme Court justices up for merit retention.

NBC/WSJ NATIONAL POLL: OBAMA 47%, ROMNEY 47%

In the last national NBC/WSJ poll, which was conducted before debate season began, the president held a narrow, three-point lead over his GOP challenger, 49 percent to 46 percent.

But among the wider pool of all registered voters in this new survey, Obama is ahead of Romney by five points, 49 percent to 44 percent.

ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE?

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball outlines one scenario: The simplest way to explain this scenario is that Obama retains all the states John Kerry won in 2004, while adding New Mexico and Ohio. Under the 2004 map, that would make Obama president. But the 2010 reapportionment sent a handful of electoral votes from the Blue states to the Red states: just enough to make this scenario an exact 269-269 tie. But 269 would make Romney president, because in the event of a tie, the new House of Representatives would pick the president: each of the 50 delegations would get a single vote. Given that Republicans are almost assuredly going to control a solid majority of House delegations in the next Congress (see below), Romney would win.

HOW ABOUT A SPLIT DECISION?

The Wall Street Journal notes the odds of one presidential candidate winning the popular vote and the other winning the Electoral College are small, but “the makings of a split outcome are clearly there, due in part to a range of factors peculiar to this election.”

OBAMA PLANS SWING STATE TOUR

Obama will keep up a grueling pace on the campaign trail later this week, visiting six states in two days, all in an effort to boost enthusiasm in the final days heading into election day, Politico reports. Obama will make stops in Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Virginia, Illinois and Ohio, sleeping on Air Force One and spending time calling undecided voters and volunteers.

FIRST LADY CAMPAIGNS IN DAVIE

First Lady Michelle Obama appears at a campaign event in Broward County. Gates open at 12:30 p.m. at Broward College, Central Campus.

ROMNEY KEEPS DISTANCE FROM RICK SCOTT via POLITICO

At some rallies for Mitt Romney in this state, you could be forgiven for thinking that Jeb Bush is still governor. … Romney simply doesn’t mention Scott, and the last time they appeared together publicly was on Aug. 13 when Scott welcomed the GOP nominee’s bus tour to St. Augustine.

For Romney, the political calculus is clear: Embracing Scott is no help to him in a must-win state with 29 electoral votes, the most of any truly competitive state up for grabs on Election Day.

But the GOP nominee’s inability to rely on a beloved Republican figure — leading a well-oiled GOP machine in Florida — could prove consequential in a neck-and-neck race, if only on the margins. The latest Florida polls show a virtual tie in the state, so Romney can’t afford any hiccups.

RUBIO HITS SUNDAY SHOWS FOR ROMNEY

Rubio hit the Sunday news show as the presidential race focuses on Florida. On Face the Nation, he said President Obama has not laid out a vision for the next four years, criticized the administration’s handling of foreign affairs and praised Mitt Romney. Rubio even found a little wiggle room. He differs from Romney in labeling China a currency manipulator but said today, “We may have to do what Gov. Romney is saying.”

MUST-READ: NEW YORK TIMES FRANK BRUNI ON MARCO RUBIO

I was impressed first and foremost by the assurance with which he spoke, projecting a wisdom and an authority beyond his 41 years.

But I was even more struck by something else: the dispiriting, infuriating way in which he deployed that assurance and what that said about our sorry politics today.

PPP POLL OF FLORIDA: ROMNEY 48%, OBAMA 47%

SURVEY USA POLL OF FLORIDA: OBAMA 48%, ROMNEY 47%

SHOULD OBAMA CONCEDE FLORIDA?

Nate Silver: “Romney’s gains in Florida call into question how vigorously the campaigns should be contesting it over the final two weeks of the campaign. Romney might consider relaxing his efforts there, while Obama’s campaign might consider de-emphasizing the state.”

CELEBRITY TWEET OF THE DAY: @RichardDreyfus: I’m not a Democrat. I’m, like Norman Lear, a compassionate conservative. And the only compassionate conservative running is Obama

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

THREE NEW POLLS IN FLA. U.S. SENATE RACE

Rasmussen: Nelson 48%, Mack 43%

Scripps: Neslon 45%, Mack 41%%

Survey USA: Nelson 48%, Mack 40%

FLORIDA NEWSPAPERS NEAR-UNANIMOUS IN ENDORSING NELSON

On the heels of last weekend’s endorsement by the Tampa Bay Times, this weekend the Orlando Sentinel, Miami HeraldTampa Tribune and Palm Beach Post all issued strong endorsements of Senator Bill Nelson — marking a clean sweep of virtually every major Florida newspaper.

ADAM HASNER IS UP WITH A NEW SPOT IN CD 22: Watch here.

BLOG POST OF THE DAY: IS DAVID RIVERA ‘ONE AND DONE?by Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

Rivera, 48, considered the incumbent in the newly redrawn CD 26, is up against party-line Democrat Joe Garcia — a candidate he beat handily in 2010. But less than four weeks from the general election, Rivera — a former state representative — is losing his bid for re-election.

Republican insiders nevertheless say that Rivera — a tough campaigner who is one of the best on the Hill in constituent services — won’t be easy for Garcia to beat, no matter what the polls say. Nor has the National Republican Congressional Committee, which hasn’t reserved any more money for him, written Rivera off entirely.

Nat Sillin, an NRCC spokesman, told reporters this week, “We don’t base our decisions on one poll alone and we’re closely watching this race.”

ROD SMITH RULES OUT 2014 RUN by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

In a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, the former prosecutor and state senator from Alachua ruled out another bid for governor — he lost the 2006 primary to Jim Davis — because his priority is his 25-year-old son, Dillon, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

“That’s not happening,” said Smith, who previously had left the door open. “I can’t foresee a circumstance given the things going on in my life that you’re aware of with the illness of my son. That’s where my focus is, and that’s where my focus is going to remain for awhile.”

GROUP BACKING FLORIDA JUSTICES HAS SPENT $1.45 MILLION

A group that supports three targeted Florida Supreme Court justices has collected — and spent — $1.45 million, newly filed campaign finance reports show.

The group, Defend Justice from Politics, spent almost all of the money this month on advertising as it tries to help justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince win merit-retention elections Nov. 6.

EDUCATION FUND OPPOSED TO AMENDMENT 3 RECEIVES $750K FROM NATIONAL TEACHERS UNIONS

The Public Education Defense Fund, a group affiliated with the Florida Education Association, received $750,000 from national teachers’ union organizations between Sept. 29 and Oct. 12, newly filed records via the News Service of Florida show.

The fund has received a total of $2.25 million this year, with much of the money going to fight two proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot. The fund this month sent $250,000 to a group opposing Amendment 3, which would place new limits on state tax revenue.

Earlier, it provided $1 million to a campaign to defeat Amendment 8, which would repeal part of the state constitution that bans public aid to faith-based organizations — a change the FEA fears could help lead to taxpayer-funded vouchers to send children to religious schools.

BELLWEATHER COUNTY OR NOT, PASCO REMAINS VITAL TO ELECTION IN FLORIDA by Lee Logan of the Tampa Bay Times 

It used to be a swing county,” said state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. “It’s no longer considered, in my opinion, a bellwether or swing county.”

Returns from the past few elections support Fasano’s case. In 2008, Barack Obama carried Florida by a relatively hefty 3 percentage points. The margin was almost a mirror image in Pasco County. Two years ago, Rick Scott narrowly won the governor’s mansion by 1 point. His margin in Pasco: nearly 9 points.

Local Democrats say if they can hold down Mitt Romney’s Pasco margins on Nov. 6, that could point to a good day for Obama. “We may not win the county, but we’ll deliver Florida for the president,” said party chairman Lynn Lindeman.

Even if Pasco has a slightly more red tint compared to Florida as a whole, those who want an early read on the results can look to Pasco for clues. Observers just have to account for the slight partisan lean.

“We are known for getting our results in super, super early,” said Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley. “I don’t want to jinx us, but we’ve been the first for the last eight years.”

***Only two finance reports for legislative candidates remain until the general election. The G3 totals due tonight include everything raised/spent from September 29 – October 12, 2012. If you’re not getting On 3 Public Relations’ comprehensive finance reports for your clients and contacts, turn in your politico card at the door on the way out.  www.On3PR.com. ***

SD 8: JOHN THRASHER STILL RAISING BIG MONEY FOR RACE AGAINST DEMOCRATIC TOMATO CAN

Though he is not expected to face a competitive race this fall, State Senator John Thrasher collected $40,500 in contributions between Sept. 29 and Oct. 12 — giving him an overall total of $546,565, newly filed records via the News Service of Florida show.

Thrasher received money from major Tallahassee players, such as Florida Hospital Association, the Florida Insurance Council and U.S. Sugar Corp.

Thrasher’s opponent in District 6, St. Augustine Democrat Kathleen Trued, raised a total of $9,755 through Sept. 28, though her latest numbers had not been posted on the state Division of Elections website.

MACK BERNARD CONCEDES SD 27 RACE TO JEFF CLEMENS

One of the pieces of unfinished business from the primary season is at an end.

State Rep. Mack Bernard has conceded the Senate District 27 race to Democratic primary winner Jeff Clemens.

“I spoke to Sen. Jeff Clemens and congratulated him on a hard-fought race and I look forward to helping make sure we re-elect the president of the U.S. and make sure we get as many Democrats elected during this election,” Bernard said.

Bernard said he won’t appeal an appellate court decision upholding Clemens’s 17-vote margin in the August primary.

“It’s time for us to move forward and to move on to the November election,” he said.

SD 34: BOGDANOFF CMTE. RAISES $88K, MARIA SACHS ADDS $30K FOR HOME STRETCH

A political committee headed by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff collected $88,000 between Sept. 29 and Oct. 12, as the Fort Lauderdale Republican is locked in a tough election fight with Democrat Maria Sachs.

Bogdanoff is chairwoman of the committee, known as “Creating Possibilities,” according to information on the state Division of Elections website. It has raised $262,500 this year, with contributions during the most-recent period including $25,000 from The Geo Group, Inc., which backs privatizing state prisons and other facilities.

Sachs raised $30,830 during this same period and reported an overall total of $312,506. Sachs’ contributors during the most-recent period included labor organizations such as the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters.

IN HD 30, KAREN CASTOR DENTEL BRINGS IN $34K, BUT SCOTT PLAKON AGAIN OUTRAISES HER

Karen Castor Dentel collected $34,114 between Sept. 29 and Oct. 12 and reported an overall total of $158,409, according to campaign-finance filings Friday.

Dentel got a $5,000 check from the Florida Democratic Party during the two-week period, along with money from teachers unions and other labor groups.

As good as Dentel’s numbers are, Plakon still outraised her.  The incumbent Republican raised $52,375 during the period and reported an overall total of $366,301. Plakon “only” has about $36K cash-on-hand, but his campaign will, undoubtedly, be buoyed by additional money from the Florida GOP. Plakon’s campaign also pre-paid for almost $190,000 in advertising.

FLORIDA NURSES ENDORSE REPUBLICAN BOB BROOKS IN HD 47

HOUSE BUDGET CHIEF, SETH MCKEEL, SEES INFLUX OF CAMPAIGN CASH

Rep. Seth McKeel was named Oct. 9 as the next House budget chairman, one of the most-powerful positions in the Legislature. And by the time a fund-raising period for legislative candidates ended Oct. 12, McKeel had reeled in $47,545, according to newly filed reports.

McKeel, who is running against no-party candidate Lillian Lima in House District 40, had raised only $48,455 all year before the latest reporting period, which ran from Sept. 29 to Oct. 12. He received contributions during the period from companies and groups ranging from the Florida Police Benevolent Association to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Including contributions he received in 2011, McKeel has raised a total of $262,601 for the race. Lima collected $1,490 during the latest period and reported an overall total of $2,622.

DIRECT MAIL ROUND-UP: Jeff Brandes asserts himself here; Ed Hooper gets tough here; Dwight Dudley and Frank Farkas exchange body blows here.

CAMPAIGN PROFILES

The Florida Current on Senate District 8

***To learn the facts about Florida’s new university, Florida Polytechnic University, and the growing group of supporters that make up Poly Vision, visit www.floridapolyvision.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @FLPolyVision.***

FLORIDA HOME SALES CONTINUE REBOUND IN SEPT. via The News Service of Florida

Sales of existing homes in Florida rose 2 percent in September from a year ago and median prices continued to improve, according to figures released Friday by Florida Realtors. Sales completed but not closed were up even higher, posting a 40 percent increase from the same time last year. “Florida’s real estate market is no longer in recovery mode – stability and growth gain solid footing,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene. “Realtors across the state are reporting consistent increases in home sales and median prices, and multiple offers from buyers aren’t unusual.” Meanwhile, the median sales price increased 7.4 percent to $145,000. The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.2-months’ supply; according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that a 5.5-months’ supply symbolically represents a market balanced between buyers and sellers.

REMEMBERING STEVE MADDEN

“(As he receives the blessing of being with The Lord, those of us who knew Steve know that the gift and legacy he has left behind, from his humor to his beautiful children to his love of his friends, will stay with us always. We love you, Steve and Carrie, and every bit of our thoughts and prayers are with you this very difficult morning. May all the peace The Lord has be with you and to all our friends, I’m thinking of you, too.” — Alan Levine, who described Steve in an email as “one of the most loyal friends you could have. Integrity, passion, compassion, courage. All apply. And a loving dad on top of it all.”

***Are you tired of getting your ASSETS TAXED OFF? Amendment 4 can help. Join the movement at TaxYourAssetsOff.com or check us out on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.***

CAN’T WAIT TO READThe Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden. Bowden has an interesting piece in the Washington Post about the five myths surrounding the raid that ultimately got bin Laden.

FIVE CAMPAIGN ADS that have stood out from the pack this year in Elizabeth Wilner’s view.

OCTOBER SURPRISE FROM STEPHEN COLBERT: With less than three weeks to go until Election Day, campaign finance reports filed on Saturday show that Colbert’s super-PAC – Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow – is holding tightly to nearly $1 million, The Hill reports.

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.