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A view of the Capitol and Dept. of Education buildings Wednesday morning, Oct. 11, 2017 in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 7.12.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Just in from the field is a new St. Pete Polls survey commissioned by Florida Politics that is sure to reset the current narrative in the GOP primary for Attorney General.

After being up on TV for more than a month — and with state Rep. Jay Fant out of the race — Pensacola lawmaker Frank White now has an outside-the-margin-of-error lead on former Circuit Judge Ashley Moody.

White is at 26 percent, while Moody is at 19 percent.

That’s a marked difference from St. Pete Polls previous temperature-taking of the A.G. race; in June (and with Fant still in the game), Moody was at 15 percent and White was a point behind her.

Also of note in this poll: check out White’s favorable/unfavorable numbers. He’s at 32/7, although Moody’s not too bad herself at 23/6.

With numbers like this, the question now becomes: When can Moody get up on TV? Because if she doesn’t soon, she may not be able to regain the lead.


@SenBillNelson: Good news in the fight against these algae blooms: The Army Corps just approved the EAA reservoir project that will help clean more water from Lake O and send it south, instead of east and west. Now with Corps’ okay, we can work to get this project approved by Congress this year.

–@marcorubio: I urge all Floridians to vote for @mattcaldwell_fl for Commissioner of Agriculture this August and November.

–@RepValDemings: .@KenDetzner should immediately request the full suite of election security services to ensure the integrity of our voting process. Russia attacked our 2016 election, and they’ll be back. Regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, ZIP code, or income, every vote must be counted

–@RepDeSantis: For 22 years, the families of Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Peña, Carlos Costa, and Pablo Morales have sought justice. Failing to hold Raúl Castro accountable for his role in the murder of these men only serves as a message to our enemies that their crimes will go unchallenged.

@Shawnfor63: Please keep my friend and former competitor Rep. Mark Danish in your prayers as he recovers from a stroke.   He’s a good man notwithstanding his politics 🙂 Speedy recovery Rep!

@MaryEllenKlas: @SenBillNelson suggests naming the southern reservoir project, which received Army Corps support today, after environmentalist Nat Reed.

@JeffBurlew: #Tallahassee lawyer Steve Andrews walked into the federal courthouse today but wouldn’t say whether his client, ousted City Manager Rick Fernandez, was appearing before a grand jury sorting through evidence in long-running public corruption probe.

@ChrisHongTU: The hate mail in response to the Times-Union’s new online paywall perfectly illustrates how badly newspapers screwed up by giving away their work online for so long. Readers are genuinely offended they must pay to read our work. Not sure how we put that cat back in the bag.

@rpetty: There are 17 families that can imagine the loss and pain. We wish that no one ever feel this pain or suffer as we still do. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we are the last.


Vern Buchanan bought yacht after voting for House version of GOP tax bill” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – A recently filed financial disclosure shows U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan celebrated passing the House version of the Republican tax bill in quite the lavish way. According to the disclosure, Buchanan spent between $1 million and $5 million purchasing an Ocean Alexander yacht on Nov. 16, 2017, the same day he joined 226 other Republicans and no Democrats in voting for the first draft of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The final tax bill passed Congress on Dec. 20 and was signed into law by President Trump two days later.


Rick Scott’s blind trust: Here’s what we know and what we don’t” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald -The reason Gov. cott’s net income rose 55 percent in 2017 has to do with electric cars, China partnerships, a company turnaround, and a single transaction that resulted in a revenue boost of as much as $550 million to the governor and his family. Continental Structural Plastics, a Michigan-based company that supplies lightweight plastic components to the automotive industry, sold for $825 million on Jan. 3, 2017, to a Japanese conglomerate. The company, bought by Scott in 2005 for an undisclosed price, was one of the largest assets in the millionaire governor’s portfolio. Documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Japanese Financial Services Agency, and the Florida Commission on Ethics — and reviewed by the Times/Herald — show that Scott and his family controlled 66.7 percent of CSP at the time it was sold, a transaction that Scott did not have to report on his annual financial disclosure form filed June 29.”

New Senate Majority PAC ad targets Rick Scott’s health care recordvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – A new ad by Senate Majority PAC (SMP) is hammering Gov. Rick Scott‘s record on health care, while claiming incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is the right choice in the 2018 race for U.S. Senate. SMP is a partisan group that aims to elect Democrats to the Senate. Its 30-second ad features Dr.David Woolsey, identified in the ad as a Florida ER doctor. Online records show he’s an internist affiliated with Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. “We’ve got an opioid crisis, a doctor shortage, seniors struggling to pay for care,” Woolsey says. “But even with all that, Rick Scott vetoed millions in healthcare funds and refused federal funds that would’ve covered 750,000 Floridians.”

On Wednesday, Rick Scott held a “Let’s Get to Work” rally at the Hamilton County Veterans Memorial VFW Post 8095.

Scott slightly ahead of Nelson among South Florida Hispanics, new poll finds” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Scott’s 42 percent to 39 percent lead over Nelson among likely South Florida Hispanic voters is buoyed by strong support for the Republican governor by Cuban-American voters and relatively weak backing for the Democratic incumbent by non-Cuban Hispanic voters, according to the Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey conducted for Telemundo 51 in Miami. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. … Among Cuban-Americans, Scott leads Nelson 58 percent to 30 percent, with 12 percent undecided. Among non-Cuban American Hispanic voters, Nelson leads Scott 50 percent to 22 percent, with 28 percent undecided.

Assignment editors: Scott will host a “Let’s Get to Work” rally as part of his Senate campaign. Lake Butler Community Center, 155 NW 3rd St., Lake Butler. 10:00 a.m.


Gwen Graham accepts NARAL endorsement” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – “As with every election year, all eyes are on Florida.” That was the message regarding a potential future fight for abortion rights at Wednesday’s Gwen Graham event in Miami. Graham gathered with supporters to accept the endorsement of NARAL, one of the nation’s largest pro-choice political action committees. NARAL National Political Director Nicole Brener-Schmitz spoke at the event, emphasizing the group’s focus on Florida. She called the gubernatorial race “one of the most important elections in the 2018 cycle.”

Graham’s family is now her biggest financial backer” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – Graham‘s father is her biggest political asset, a popular former governor and senator with deep ties to power brokers in the state. But last month he became her biggest financial asset, too, giving another $250,000 to her campaign and becoming her top donor. He’s not the only Graham to give. Her campaign for governor is very much a family affair, with her Washington Post-linked relatives pitching in hundreds of thousands of dollars as well. Together, they make up the Graham campaign’s largest financial support network, about 7.5 percent of the $9.3 million she’s raised so far. (Her campaign notes that it’s not just her family – she has more donors overall than all of her Democratic opponents combined.)

First in Sunburn – Chris King up with new TV ad – In the ad, King lays out his ambitious proposals earning attention and praise across the state, from taxing bullets to reduce gun violence, to free community college and trade school, to criminal justice reform that legalizes marijuana and ends the death penalty. The 30-second spot will air in the Jacksonville, Orlando, Panama City, Tampa-St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce television markets.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

How Philip Levine made the money that’s financing his bid for governor” via David Smiley, Joey Flechas and Danny Rivero for the Miami Herald – A Miami Herald review of hundreds of pages of court and corporate filings and interviews with current and former Levine business partners reveal a complicated portrait of a businessman who through impeccable execution and timing built several successful companies from scratch. He also received steady support from a well-heeled family, had acrimonious splits with former partners and dealt with a controversy in Alaska involving allegations of strong-arm tactics by cruise-line shopping guides. The cruising industry remains one of Levine’s best sources of campaign cash. It’s also his biggest source of personal income, bringing him more than $3.6 million last year, according to his financial disclosures.

Marco Rubio endorses Matt Caldwell – Caldwell, a Republican running for Agriculture Commissioner, has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Rubio, his campaign said Wednesday. “As the most conservative candidate in the race, Matt Caldwell has been an unwavering supporter of the Second Amendment, consistently voted to cut taxes and reduce the size of government, and is a staunch supporter of the right-to-life,” Rubio said. “There is no harder working or more qualified candidate.” Rubio’s support adds to a growing list of endorsements for the current North Fort Myers state representative, including most recently the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA), and Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida.

Ross Spano backs former opponent for Attorney General” via Florida Politics – Former Attorney General candidate Ross Spano says he’s throwing his support behind Moody as she continues to pursue the Republican nomination in that race. Spano exited the contest back in April to run for Congress in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. He currently represents House District 59. Now, he says he’s backing Moody over White. “Ashley Moody is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and will always stand up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners and against the liberal gun control agenda,” Spano said.

Charter schools back amendment fight” via The News Service of Florida – Companies with ties to charter schools and a controversial federal visa program are providing the bulk of contributions to an effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would impose an eight-year term limit on school board members. Through June, the political committee has raised $54,532 in support of Amendment 8, state election records show. The amendment, which was approved by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, would impose term limits on school board members but would also provide more authority to the Legislature to create alternative public education initiatives, like charter schools. The amendment also would require civics literacy instruction in the public schools. Nearly three-quarters of the money raised by the 8isGreat group has come from companies involved with charter schools.

Stephanie Murphy passes $2 million mark in fundraising” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The amount raised from April through the end of June is her largest-ever quarterly take over her two election cycles, the campaign said. Murphy now has more than $1.6 million cash on hand after having raised a total of $2.2 million. “Our campaign is humbled by the outpouring of enthusiasm and support for Stephanie Murphy from people who know they are investing in a tireless advocate for central Florida families,” Murphy campaign manager Christie Stephenson said in a statement. Murphy … is running for re-election two years after defeating longtime Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in 2016. Second quarter fundraising amounts for her Democratic primary opponent, former ACLU board member Chardo Richardson, and Republicans U.S. Rep. Mike Miller, businessman Scott Sturgill and former Senate adviser Vennia Francois were not announced or reported Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission.

Assignment editors: Murphy will be among the speakers at an event hosted by the group New Democracy. The event, which also will include other Democratic members of Congress from across the country, is titled, “Building New Democratic Majorities.” Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 8:30 a.m.

Carlos Curbelo rakes in $785,000 in latest fundraising quarter” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Curbelo has ramped up his fundraising as he tries to keep his Miami-to-Key West seat in GOP hands come November. The two-term congressman raised approximately $785,000 in the latest fundraising quarter from April 1 to June 30, and has $2.6 million on hand to spend about four months out from Election Day. Curbelo’s campaign said the quarterly haul is a record amount and he has about $500,000 more to spend than he did at this point in the 2016 election cycle, when he eventually defeated former Rep. Joe Garcia

Jeff Brandes piles on cash as Florida Democrats scramble to replace Carrie Pilon” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Brandes doesn’t know who he’ll be up against come Election Day, but that hasn’t stopped donors from pouring beaucoup bucks into his political committee. A newly filed campaign finance report for Liberty Florida shows the Senate District 24 incumbent reeled in a six-figure haul from a crop of well-known donors in the last week of June. Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a candidate for Senate President in 2022, chipped in $15,000 via her Working Together For Florida political committee and Miami-based air cargo company Florida Cargo Fresh matched her while U.S. Sugar and AIF-affiliated Floridians for a Stronger Democracy each showed up at the $10,000 level. The committee cash came a week before one-time challenger Pilon’s announcement that she would abdicate her spot on the ballot due to serious and unexpected health problems of a close family member.

Florida Retail Federation PAC endorses Rebekah Bydlak – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Bydlak, a Republican running for House District 1, which covers part of Escambia County. “Rebekah is a successful and energetic candidate who has had the best interests of Floridians and business owners in mind during her professional career,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Living on the Florida border, she knows firsthand how unnecessary taxes like the business rent tax have hurt Florida businesses and forced others to start somewhere else. Her fresh ideas and desire to make Florida the best place to live and work will be a big benefit to retailers when she’s a member of the Florida House.”

Study: Florida’s policies are keeping hundreds of thousands from voting” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida is not making it easy enough for you to vote, according to a new report from the liberal Center for American Progress. The new study, ‘Increasing Voter Participation in America: Policies to Drive Participation and Make Voting More Convenient,’ which was released Wednesday morning, details a number of policies states could enact to maximize voter turnout.”


Is it really “that time” again?

…Yes, it’s budget time.

Planning for the 2019-20 state budget officially begins July 15, when instructions are due to agencies for their LBRs, or legislative budget requests, under state law.

But the Governor’s Office beat that deadline, issuing instructions this Wednesday.

That’s followed by an Aug. 1 deadline for filing claim bills (in the Senate), and then the Joint Legislative Budget Commission issues the Long Range Financial Outlook by Sept. 15.

State agencies have to submit their Legislative Budget Requests by Oct. 15, and so on.

Isn’t The Process grand? And we don’t even have Organization Session details yet!


Mike Grissom in Kenya? –Enterprise Florida plans trade mission to Africa” via News Service of Florida – Enterprise Florida is planning a fall export sales mission to Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Manny Mencia, senior vice president of international trade and development for EFI, said the mission is intended to bolster relations between Florida and two of the largest economies in East Africa. “Growth in the region is tremendous and companies there are very interested in forming partnerships with U.S. businesses,” Mencia said Wednesday in a press release. The public-private business recruitment agency has opened registration for the Nov. 2-9 trip that will target fields including agricultural machinery, aircraft parts, construction, medical equipment, energy, and waste-water management.

Lawmakers want judge tossed off environmental funding suit” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Saying he violated their constitutional rights “in multiple ways, and over repeated objections,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asked a Tallahassee judge to remove himself from future proceedings in an environmental funding case. The legislative leaders filed their disqualification request with Circuit Judge Charles Dodson earlier this week. On June 28, Dodson had granted a “final (summary) judgment for (the) plaintiffs” in a lawsuit over how lawmakers fund environmental conservation. Summary judgments allow parties to win a case without a trial. A notice of appeal has not yet been filed, according to court dockets. But attorneys sometimes move for disqualification as a pre-emptive strike, to avoid having the same judge if a suit on appeal gets kicked back down to the lower-court judge for further action.

Court sides with FPL, Duke on nuclear costs” via News Service of Florida – A federal appeals court Wednesday backed Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy Florida in a class-action lawsuit that sought to recover money paid by utility customers under a controversial 2006 nuclear-power law. The law … has been highly controversial, as it allowed utilities to collect money for nuclear projects that might never be built. The lawsuit alleged that the law was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and that it is “preempted” under a federal law known as the Atomic Energy Act. The plaintiffs contended that, under the Atomic Energy Act, Congress did not intend for states to have a role in financing and promoting nuclear projects.“This is far from the case here,” the ruling said. … “Plaintiffs’ interests are well beyond the zone the (dormant Commerce Clause) is meant to protect.”


White House backs Everglades reservoir” via News Service of Florida – The White House has backed Florida’s effort to secure federal funding for a reservoir intended to move water away from Lake Okeechobee and reduce discharges that residents blame for repeated toxic algae outbreaks spreading on both coasts. The request by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to include funding for the roughly $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, approved by the state Legislature last year, now heads to the U.S. Senate. The plan is expected to be included as part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The reservoir was a priority for Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican leaving office in November.

Matt Gaetz: People with ‘loose affiliation with the Deep State’ are ‘out to get’ Jim Jordan” via Josh Feldman of Mediate – Jim Jordan is a man of integrity and these attacks against him are a direct consequence of the outstanding oversight work that Jim Jordan is doing,” Gaetz said. “If Jim Jordan was not after the Department of Justice and the FBI, he would not be dealing with these allegations. They are totally false, I am confident in that to my core. And look, Lou, how is Jim Jordan supposed to prove that he didn’t know something 30 years ago when he was a 21-year-old assistant coach? It is an impossible position to be in and it’s outrageous and we have to confront it for what it is.


Joe Henderson: Ken Hagan’s likely pitch for Rays stadium? It’s an investment” via Florida Politics – Perhaps no politician in Hillsborough County has been more identified with the effort to build a stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays than Ken Hagan. The veteran County Commissioner was key in trying to convince the Rays that Ybor City was the right place to put a stadium. What he does behind the scenes could decide whether the proposed $892 million ballpark is ever built. His absence at Tuesday’s pep rally/stadium unveiling at the Italian Club in Ybor was conspicuous. There certainly were many other public figures on hand … I called Hagan’s office Wednesday just to double-check that he wasn’t there – it was a crowded room – and it was confirmed. The aide said he had no idea why Hagan missed the party.

— ALOE —

Journalism award nominations sought by Florida Bar” via Florida Politics – The call for entries is out for The Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida and the Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award, The Florida Bar announced Wednesday. For the Thomson awards, work submitted for consideration (should) deal with law and lawyers, courts, law enforcement, the delivery of legal services, the effectiveness of the justice system, the work of the organized Bar or related matters … The Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award honors a retired or working journalist who has written or reported extensively in an outstanding fashion to educate citizens on the system of law and justice as it affects the people of Florida … The Parker Thomson and Susan Spencer-Wendel media awards will be presented at the Reporters’ Workshop dinner on Sept. 24 in Tallahassee. Winners will be notified in advance. For the nomination forms, click here.

What John Morgan is reading:Oklahoma Board of Health bans sales of smokeable marijuana” via The Oklahoman – Raymond Jennings credits smoking medical marijuana with helping him keep up the strength to survive his cancer battle. And he worries that other Oklahomans won’t have the same opportunity, after the state Board of Health this week voted to ban sales of marijuana flowers and leaves, the forms that patients can smoke. Jennings said he underwent three rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments to kill stage four squamous cell skin cancer. He said he’d never smoked and didn’t like the idea of using marijuana, but was so weak from being unable to eat that he agreed to try it. He received the marijuana in Colorado, where it already was legal. “I can tell you, without smoking marijuana, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Happy birthday to INFLUENCE 100’er Jon Adrabi, former Senator John Grant, former AG Bill McCollum, and congressional candidate Bob Rackleff.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was 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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Michael Moline, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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