The week that was in Florida politics – in just one read

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We march toward another fiscal showdown. If left unchanged, federal debt held by the public will rise from 73 to 100% of GDP by 2013.

CNN’s Jim Acosta coined the term “Gridlock-nado” to describe the budget mess, and Karl Rove’s PAC released a web video called “Obamacare-nado“.  

So I guess this means  -nado becoming the –gate of political flaps?

Via William March of the Tampa Tribune, with a reputation as the land of opportunity, the U.S. by some measures is actually one of the least economically “mobile” societies among prosperous Western nations…

The economic output in Florida’s three largest metro areas grew by more than 3% last year. The Bureau of Economic Analysis said this week that the GDP grew by 3.5% in South Florida, 3.1% in Tampa and 3% in Orlando. 

Florida’s Department of Transportation started the week with some great PR, being named among the nation’s best for bridge care.  But as the week progressed, DOTs news got more heated. Allegations of Sunshine Law violations surfaced regarding he hushed ousting of Max Crumit, executive director of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. With a web of agency heads, lawmakers, developers, lobbyists, board members, state attorneys and bond writers to boot, more may unfold in this emerging story.

The Foundation for Florida’s Future held a media roundtable to discuss Common Core State Standards in which its merits were touted; followed by indications that Gov. Scott, Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz might push to develop Florida’s own plan for testing these standards, rather than using the PARCC.

If there had been any doubt he likes life in the fast lane, Sen. Jeff Clemens deflected attention from beleaguered red-light traffic cameras to a different policy he feels would be better to revamp: speed limits on highways.

And, in case you missed this really good news, massive aquifers were discovered in northern Kenya, giving hope to “improve the lives of generations and halt long-running conflicts over natural resources.”


Charlie Crist basically called Rick Scott a bully in a quote via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press, regarding Scott’s goal to raise $100 million for his reelection. “Talk about a bullying tactic,” Crist said. “Well, some of us are not afraid.”

The FDP released a web video telling Florida voters the “real story about Rick Scott’s tax tour” –watch here.

But Scott’s rebuttal doesn’t need to say much more than the continued plummet of the state’s unemployment. At 7.0%, Florida boasts its 6th consecutive month below the national average.


A Democratic poll showed a slight advantage for Amanda Murphy over Bill Gunter in the race to replace Mike Fasano in HD 36.

CNN has a new poll showing Hillary Clinton as the clear 2016 favorite among Democrats, while likely Republican voters are divided among many: 17%  percent say they are likely to support Chris Christie, with 16% backing Rep. Paul Ryan. Sen. Rand Paul is at 13%; Jeb Bush at 10%; Marco Rubio at 9%; Ted Cruz at 7%, and Rick Santorum at 5%.

Saint Petersblog publisher Peter Schorsch offered his latest thoughts on when Crist will announce, presenting a logical sequence leading to the conclusion: later not sooner.

Carol Platt entered the race to challenge Rep. Alan Grayson

Via Ben Candea and Bob Norman with Local 10, House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston admitted to “occasionally” living outside of his district:, saying, “I live there when I want to.”

Alex Sink embarks on a nine-day United Way mission to China following her announcement that she will not run for governor in 2014. To the RPOF, “anything other than full-throated support for Senator Rich” from Sink is an “implicit endorsement” of Crist.

Campaigns & Elections magazine published its list of the nation’s top consulting blogs to bookmark, and among the eight that were chosen was Florida’s Steve Schale.


Both Speaker Weatherford and Pres. Gaetz have stated support for auditing compensation reports submitted by state lobbyists. Earlier this week, Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Gaetz asked the Senate’s general counsel to determine how to kick-start the audits.

Via Bill Cotterell of the Florida Current, in HD 36, Bill Gunter raised more campaign cash than all three of the other contestants running … Besides at least $29,500 from the House Republican Campaign fund, Gunter’s contribution list is a virtual roll call of major capital lobbyists and professional organizations that wrote $500 checks.

When it comes to political fundraising, Congress doesn’t travel very far; 76% of all political fundraisers in D.C. take place within 3 city blocks of the U.S. Capitol, a new study by the Sunlight Foundation shows.

Darryl Rouson opened and closed a slush fund that would have operated separately from the Democratic establishment; and Schorsch suggested in light of related Party dysfunction that “it’s time for Rouson to pull a Letterman and step down as incoming House Democratic Leader.”

To Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Florida Squeeze, Rouson is badly damaged and his supporters many of which are dissidents within the party would be wise to let go of him next week.

Matt Dixon of the Jacksonville Times Union offered a thorough, data-rich take on the blurred lines between politics and policy when it comes to state employee campaign work.  One among many stats he shared: “Roughly $1.6 million of that money was paid to current, low-level legislative aides – state employees who often work on their members’ re-election campaigns.”


A USA TODAY/Pew poll found Obamacare in its worst spot yet in American public opinion. 53% disapprove of the health care law, the highest level since it was signed, and 53% disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care policy, an historic high. And Democrats have lost their traditional advantage on the issue. For the first time in polling that stretches back more than two decades, Americans narrowly prefer Republicans in dealing with health care policy, 40%-39%.

How did USA TODAY present these findings? Like a page out of the DNC’s playbook: “Republican lawmakers have failed in dozens of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a new … poll shows just how difficult they have made it for President Obama’s signature legislative achievement to succeed.” Notice how the word ‘failure’ appears first, and only, in reference to Republicans … not to the administration’s design of the law, its implementation, or ineffectiveness in generating support. 

There were innumerable press releases thrown about this week condemning Gov. Scott’s decision to block Obamacare navigators from County Health Departments, and a few defending the measure, citing state and federal concerns over privacy breaches and describing the illogic using CHDs to recruit enrollee. 

The Department of Health was named Loser of the Week by Adam Smith for the policy.

US HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came to Florida to help make an enrollment push.

The Obama administration created a toll-free number to report suspected fraud or identity theft, as part of a response to reassure Americans of ACA privacy.

Forty-three members of the House Republican conference have signed on to sponsor an alternate continuing resolution, led by Rep. Tom Graves. Jeb Bush doesn’t support the measure, which would defund Obamacare and delay its implementation for one year even at the risk of a government shutdown, calling it unrealistic and “politically dicey.”

The DCCC is calling Floridians and urging them to tell Rep. Southerland to “stop the nonsense” and fund Obamacare. Read the phone script here.


A new study suggests that young millionaires give substantially more of their incomes to charity compared to Baby Boomer millionaires. The younger cohort gives on average $54,000 per year, compared to $12,000 among the older group. Also, 82% of Gen X and Y millionaires volunteer with a charity compared to 49% of Boomers.

Another study used functional MRIs to demonstrate the differences in youth and adult brains when it comes to accurately interpreting and remembering risk, suggesting parents may need to take different approaches to “be safe”-type rules.

University of Florida Health researchers and their colleagues will receive up to $7.7 million in funding over five years from the National Institutes of Health to use large data sets in humans and animals to speed up the process of finding therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

Another study confirmed the platitude that people with messy desks are more creative; and in disappointing news, analysis from the rover Curiosity suggests that Mars is probably not home to life.


The Florida Democratic Party has released the official schedule for the 2013 State Conference, to be held October 25 – 27 at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort. 

Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: Frank Brogan

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Former Senator Paula Dockery, Patrick Manteiga, the Tampa Bay Times‘ Steve Bousquet, and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune‘s Jeremy Wallace.

Political Connections on Orlando’s 13 News: Former Sen. Mel Martinez & former Orange Co. Commissioner John Martinez 

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: John Morgan

The Usual Suspects on Tallahassee’s WCTV: Mayor Kristin Jacobs and Mary Ellen Klas


John Rollins, former member on the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board, was hired Friday as the state-backed insurer’s chief risk officer.

Jennifer Montero will become the full-time replacement for former Citizens’s CFO Sharon Binnun.

The Florida Medical Association has enlisted the PR services of Christina Johnson, a Republican, and Democrats Steve Vancore and Screven Watson of VancoreJones.


Alex Franco: Mead Johnson & Company, LLC

Ana Cruz, Floridian Partners: Ambassador Limousine

Bo Bohannon, Marty Fiorentino, Joe Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: Teach for America, Inc.

Daniel Allen: Los Angeles Capital Management and Equity Research, Inc.

David Roberts, Akerman Senterfitt: Ford Motor Company

George Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Florida A&M University

Joel Overton, Larry Overton: Larry J. Overton & Associates: Mental Health Care, Inc. dba GracepointWellness

Marco Paredes: Department of Health

Richard Fidei, Fred Karlinsky: Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate & Webb PA: Partner Re America Insurance Company

Robert Fingar: Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association

Ron Book, Rana Brown, Kelly Mallette, Ron Book PA: City of Marathon

Shawn Foster, Southern Strategy Group: Bail World

Todd Bonlarron: Palm Beach County

Vicki Lopez Lukis, Sylvester Lukis & Associates: Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, Inc.


@ToddJosko @adamputnam says at @VoiceofFLBiz Water Forum that 2014 will be the year of water (policy) in Florida.

Brought to you by Karen Cyphers, PhD. Karen is president of The Cyphers Group, LLC. She directs data analysis, political consulting, and public policy research.