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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.9.18

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

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

— FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE FINAL REPUBLICAN DEBATE —

— Who won? Neither candidate scored a knockout punch. Adam Putnam tried to attack early but didn’t succeed in highlighting policy differences between him and poll-leader Ron DeSantis. They’re both Republican. They both support Donald Trump. They both love the Second Amendment. And DeSantis has a big lead in the polls with less than three weeks left before the Aug. 28 primary. So, you’d have to say DeSantis won by not losing.

— Set your GPS: Putnam tried hard to stress his Florida roots, noting, “I don’t need a GPS to get around the state.” It seemed like a glancing blow, though, that had basically no impact on the debate stage and likely will have the same at the ballot box.

The final bow: Adam Putnam and Ron Desantis duke it out in the last GOP gubernatorial debate before the Aug. 28 primary.

— The big man himself: Putnam clearly has been staggered by Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis, a point amplified last week at a rally in Tampa. DeSantis has run ads touting that endorsement, referring to Trump as “the big man himself.” Putnam was left to lament, “I wish he hadn’t put his thumb on the scale of a Florida campaign.”

— GOP health care plan: Don’t get sick: Pressed directly if they believed health care is a basic right, Putnam stuck his foot deeper into the abyss than DeSantis. Putnam after trying to tap-dance around the question, responded, “It is not a right for all.” DeSantis hemmed and hawed with a talking point quote that probably would make a less damaging sound bite in November, responding, “I think people should have the right to pursue the type of health care they want.”

— Was anyone paying attention anyway: In some markets, particularly Tampa Bay, you had to really want to watch this. It was not available on regular TV; you had to search it out online. With early ballots going out and opinion polls hardening, was this debate the political equivalent of a tree falling in the forest? Could be.

— THE TOP SEVEN INSULTS FROM THE DEBATE —

With a hat/tip to Kevin Donohoe:

“A career politician with A.D.D.”: DeSantis on Putnam: “Ron DeSantis has run for three offices in three years. That’s a career politician with A.D.D.”

“Seinfeld candidate”: Putnam on DeSantis: He’s a “Seinfeld candidate” running a campaign “about nothing.”

“Trump card”: Putnam on DeSantis: “The Trump card is the only card you have.”

“Errand boy”: DeSantis on Putnam: “Adam is the errand boy for U.S. Sugar, he’s going to stand for them.”

— “A face on a milk carton”: DeSantis on Putnam during the 2016 presidential race: “Never showed up to a single rally — you could have put his face on a milk carton. No one knew where he was.”

— “Casino owners and pornographers”: Putnam on DeSantis’ billionaire backers: “My opponent’s contributions have come from casino owners and pornographers on the West Coast.”

— “You can put everything he knows on a sticky note”:Putnam tweeted, “You can put everything @RonDeSantisFL knows about water on a sticky note and still have room for your grocery list.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win! I LOVE the people, & they certainly seem to like the job I’m doing. If I find the time, in between China, Iran, the Economy and much more, which I must, we will have a giant Red Wave!

—@SteveSchale#PinkWave rising in Florida 61% of absentees cast so far in Democratic primary are from women. 60% of those cast by people with no midterm primary history are from women.

@ScottforFlorida: .@SenBillNelson you are embarrassing yourself and our state. There is no justification for you attacking my wife. Ann is an incredible person. After 46 yrs in office, why can’t you say anything positive about yourself? Let’s keep this race about our records and plans for FL.

@Daniel_Sweeney: I’m so old, I remember when Rick Scott released an ad attacking Carole Crist for not releasing her taxes in 2014

—@AGGancarski: My post-debate thoughts: Putnam won. Some great lines. Not sure if this had the reach of the first debate. Ultimately they agree on most things except sugar industry. On Medicaid, charter schools, Guns, cannabis, et al: no real difference.

—@Fineout: Some of the words tossed around tonight in GOP debate from Florida – “pornographers” “errand boy,” “unicorns and rainbows” “he’s lying” “attacking me with fake news” “put it on your sticky note.” “They are playing hide the ball.” “It may sound good in a Harvard economics class.”

—@LMower3: The weirdest part of tonight’s debate was how @adamputnam thinks it’s a bad thing to be compared to the greatest sitcom of all time. #Seinfeldcandidate

—@SContorno: As much as Republican candidates use the “liberal media” as a punching bag, an astounding amount of the fodder in tonight’s debate came directly from stories published by the @TB_Times, @PolitiFact and other news outlets.

—@MarcACaputo: Sheldon Adelson spox hits back at Adam Putnam for attacking Ron DeSantis over taking “casino” $: “that was sort of a foolish remark to make. He’s probably just jealous… as desperately as his campaign tried to get money from the Adelsons I’m surprised he made an issue of it”

—@MoteMarineLab: Mote Stranding Investigations Program recovered four deceased dolphins. Two were recovered last night and two this morning. Mote staff will conduct necropsies on all four dolphins to investigate their cause of death. Thank you to all who helped report these animals!

—@SteveLemongello: By the way y’all, the @orlandosentinel has turned off comments on our stories. My condolences to the one guy who had a screaming Rick Scott as an avatar and posted MAGA! under every story

— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —

— DAYS UNTIL —

School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 1; Start of the U.S. Open — 18; Primary Election Day — 19; College Football opening weekend — 21; Labor Day — 25; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 28; NFL regular season starts — 28; First general election mail ballots go out — 44; Future of Florida Forum — 48; FSU vs. UM football game — 58; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 75; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 76; General Election Day — 89; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 103; Black Friday — 106; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 110; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 187; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 208; 2020 General Election — 817.

— TOP STORY —

First on #FlaPol —Group backing gambling amendment plans $30M ad buyvia Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The political committee behind a proposed constitutional amendment limiting gambling plans a $30 million ad buy to promote the measure’s passage. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public files document some of the purchase. John Sowinski, chairman of Voters In Charge, which is behind the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment, on Wednesday confirmed the total buy … The committee is sitting on nearly $10 million in cash-on-hand, according to campaign finance records listed on the Division of Elections website Wednesday. Sowinski said those numbers do not reflect contributions that came in the last 10 days, which he did not disclose.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Florida teachers’ union backs Bill Nelson — Pointing to his unwavering support of public schools and public education employees, the Florida Education Association along with the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers endorsed Nelson’s re-election bid. Nelson met with current and retired educators and support personnel at the Hillsborough Teachers Union Hall to discuss the importance of public education funding, teacher pay and supporting our students to invest in the future of Florida. With the new school year beginning, they talked about challenges and about funding for school safety, educating immigrant students, and other issues facing Florida educators and schools. “Nelson knows and appreciates the value of our public schools and public school educators,” said Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall. “We stand with Bill Nelson because he has been a steadfast supporter of our students, teachers, support staff and schools, and has fought for funding for programs to assist some of Florida’s most vulnerable students.”

In a Tampa news conference, Bill Nelson receives the endorsement of the Florida Education Association for his re-election bid.

Democratic PACs hitting Rick Scott on Medicaid, pre-existing conditions” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action PAC are launching a new $1.1 million digital ad campaign to blanket the internet with a new advertisement hitting Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Scott for refusing to expand Medicaid in Florida and charging that he opposes mandatory insurance coverage of people with pre-existing conditions. The 15-second ad, “Worry,” is running statewide in both English and Spanish versions. The ads will run across a broad range of platforms including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Pandora, as well as on online news platforms such as CNN, The New York Times, Univision and Telemundo.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres and state Reps. Amy Mercado and Carlos Guillermo Smith join K-12 education leaders for a news conference to discuss Gov. Scott’s “horrible record on education,” 11 a.m., outside of the Orange County Public Schools building, 445 W. Amelia St., Orlando.

— SHOPPING SPREE —

Gwen Graham’s affiliation, albeit somewhat remote, with the planned American Dream Miami megamall project evolved into a campaign issue seemingly overnight last week. 

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene released television ads attacking Graham for her “family ties” to the project, and she responded with ads attacking Greene for going after Bob Graham, writes Lawrence Mower for the Tampa Bay Times. 

Diving into Graham’s alleged connections with the project, Mower notes, ”the Graham Companies own part of the land where it would be built, and the company plans on building a mixed-use project on 300 acres south of the mall. Both the mall and the Grahams’ commercial project received zoning approval by Miami-Dade County commissioners in a 9-1 vote in May.” 

Graham’s stake: “The family company, founded decades ago, is Graham’s greatest source of wealth. She owns nearly $14 million in company stock, and she made $830,000 in income last year from the company, according to her most recent financial disclosure.” 

The problem: Environmental interests oppose the mall, including the Everglades Trust, which endorsed Graham earlier this week. 

But: It doesn’t appear that environmental organizations fear Graham having a future conflict of interest. The director of the Everglades Trust told Mower, “we now know Gwen Graham has nothing to do with the project.”

Greene says he sold his oil, energy investments as feud with Graham escalates” via David Smiley and Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Greene sold off the oil and energy investments that have become a flashpoint in his campaign to become Florida’s next Governor. Greene, who listed $3.3 billion in assets this summer, did not provide a list of what he said he has sold, or any documents detailing the transactions. But he said in a statement that he had unloaded his stock in companies that were the source of criticism aimed at him hours earlier by Democratic front-runner Graham, with whom he’s engaged in an increasingly contentious feud over the last week. Graham’s campaign blasted Greene over his investments in Exxon Mobil Corp., Hess Corp., Blackburn Partners, Tujunga Partners, KinderMorgan, California Resources Corp., Ness Energy, Occidental Petroleum Corp., and Quantum Energy Partners — all companies involved in energy and oil and listed by Greene as sources of secondary income.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Ron DeSantis poll shows him leading Adam Putnam by 20” via Adam Smith of Tampa Bay Times — Despite Republican gubernatorial candidate Putnam and his allies spending about $10 million on negative TV ads criticizing DeSantis, the northeast Florida Congressman has opened up a 20-point lead on the agriculture commissioner, the poll found. The Aug. 5-7 live call survey of 600 likely primary voters (MoE +/- 4%) by North Star Opinion Research showed DeSantis reaching the key 50 percent mark for supporters, with 50 percent backing him and 30 percent supporting Putnam. The poll was conducted after Trump’s widely publicized campaign rally for DeSantis in Tampa. “We are leading in every media market, including Adam Putnam’s home media market of Tampa,” said DeSantis campaign manager Brad Herold hours before the two candidates hold their second televised debate.

Heard on the radio: DeSantis discussing campaign for Governor — DeSantis joined Chris Ingram at News Talk Florida Tuesday to “discuss his campaign and what he stands for as he runs against Putnam.” The 14-minute-long conversation can be heard here.

Assignment editors — Putnam will join supporters at the Republican Party of Palm Beach County’s 17th Annual Lobster Fest, 6:30 p.m., The Polo Club of Boca Raton, 5400 Champion Blvd., Boca Raton.

Happening today — The five Democrats running for Governor will attend a town-hall forum, 8 p.m., Jacksonville University, Terry Concert Hall, 2800 University Blvd. North, Jacksonville.

Sit-in: Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum sits on the floor of the Governor’s Office waiting area after a ‘Stand Your Ground’ press conference.

Graham sees film biz woes as symptom of ideology malaise” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — After hearing out leaders of Florida’s struggling film industry, Graham pledged to help as governor and said she blames ideological thinking in Tallahassee for driving away much of Florida’s former movie business. “It’s a philosophical problem. That’s what it is. That’s what it is!” Graham said. “That’s what it is in all these areas when you talk about health care, the education system. These have become ideological tools for state government. And that’s not your job.” She continued: “Your job when you’re provided the opportunity to do what’s right, and to help the state, is to not be influenced by ideology. And it makes me so angry.”

Philip Levine goes on another round of attacks against Donald Trump” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — “Levine vs. Trump: Round 2” targets Trump over multiple past controversies, contrasting Levine’s actions against those of Trump. “Trump ridicules people with disabilities, locks up the children of immigrants and makes demeaning women his personal punching bag,” begins the ad’s narrator. “As mayor, Philip Levine pioneered breakthroughs for the disabled, earned a perfect score for human rights and took on the president by defending the DREAMers. Round 2: Levine, because he’ll never stop fighting intolerance.” As the name suggests, the ad is the second of its kind from Levine. The first version focused on Trump’s gun policies and his support of the NRA.

To view the ad, click on the image below:


— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Happening today:

Assignment editors Sean Shaw, the Tampa state Representative and Democratic candidate for Attorney General, plans a 10 a.m. Thursday news conference in the Capitol to “make a major policy announcement regarding gun violence in the state of Florida.” Members of the media interested in covering the news conference are asked to RSVP to Michael@seanshaw.com by the close of business on Wednesday.

NOW endorsing Darren Soto — The National Organization for Women Political Action Committee is endorsing Soto in his re-election campaign for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. The battle in the heavily Democratic district, which includes eastern Polk, southern Orange and all of Osceola counties has been between Soto and his predecessor, former Congressman Alan Grayson. NOW Political Director Linda Berg cited Soto’s, “dedication to feminist issues” for drawing the endorsement.

David Shapiro puts pop quiz to voters in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Get your pencils ready, class. Shapiro has dropped a new campaign ad as he continues his challenge to incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. In the ad, titled “Quiz,” Shapiro uses a multiple-choice quiz to help highlight his goals should he make it to the halls of Congress. “Washington politicians have failed the test when it comes to protecting Florida families,” says Shapiro to the camera, as an on-screen graphic gives Congress an F rating in their representation of Florida.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

National Home Builders back Greg Steube for Congress — The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is endorsing state Sen. Steube‘s campaign for Florida’s 17th Congressional District. NAHB represents more than 140,000 members involved in home building and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. Members include the Charlotte-DeSoto Building Industry Association and the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, who gathered to formally endorse Steube and jointly present him with a campaign contribution. “Greg Steube believes that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and that housing is critical to a strong and prosperous nation,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel. “We are proud to endorse Greg Steube for Congress because he knows that a robust housing industry is key to a thriving national economy.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —

Scoop –Poll: Bob Doyel slightly edges incumbent Kelli Stargel in Senate District 22” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — The poll shows a preference of 45 percent for Doyel to 40 percent for Stargel with 15 percent undecided if the election were held today. With a margin of error of 4.9 percent, however, the results are just barely out of a statistical tie. Asked if they wanted to re-elect Stargel or someone else, the poll said 33 percent of the voters want Stargel re-elected, 39 percent said they they’d vote for someone else and 28 percent said they didn’t know. The district breakdown is 42 percent Republican to 38 percent Democrats.

Internal poll shows Jason Pizzo up on Daphne Campbell in Senate District 38” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Two years after winning her northeast Dade state Senate seat in a six-way scrum with just 31 percent of the vote, Campbell was down double digits to her challenger in Florida’s 38th district as absentee ballots went out in the mail late last month. That’s according to an internal polling memo by Pizzo‘s campaign. Pizzo’s polling found that he was running with 36 percent support to Campbell’s 19 heading into August. Outside of the normal qualifiers we offer about internal polls, there’s a big caveat for Pizzo, and it’s not the 4 percent margin of error for the survey of 350 voters: Nearly half of voters queried remained undecided.

Happening today:

Orange Co. Republicans seeking replacement to run against Amy Mercado” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange REC Chair Charles Hart said he has circulated notices to county Republicans and REC members asking anyone interested in running to send in resumes and letters and prepare to meet with him and State Committeewoman Kathy Gibson. “We’re keeping an open mind; we don’t have a front-runner,” Hart said. Scotland Calhoun withdrew after party officials concluded she wasn’t eligible since Calhoun would not turn 21 until the spring.

Sketchy stroll: State House candidate filmed nabbing opponent’s flyers” via Florida Politics — A supporter of Madeira Beach attorney Ray Blacklidge was canvassing when he and other volunteers noticed something fishy going on — the flyers they were leaving at front doors were going missing, only to be replaced by materials backing the campaign of Blacklidge’s primary opponent, St. Petersburg attorney Jeremy Bailie. The canvassers had noticed Bailie was on the same route, and after finishing his knock list, he decided to do some recon by doubling back and ducking in some bushes, smartphone in hand. His espionage bore fruit — Bailie himself was pulling a door-to-door switcheroo … a video of the dirty deed has been posted to Facebook and YouTube, where it has since garnered more than 3,300 views. In a comment on that Facebook post, the man who captured the video said this wasn’t the first time Blacklidge’s campaign materials had gone missing.

Judicial candidate filed campaign paperwork too late, appeals court says via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — An appeals court has blocked Clay County judicial candidate Lucy Ann Hoover from appearing on the ballot because she filed her paperwork too late. “We recognize that the public policy of Florida generally favors letting the people decide the ultimate qualifications of candidates,” the 1st District Court of Appeal concluded Wednesday … “However, absent special circumstances, public policy considerations cannot override the clear and unambiguous statutory requirement that all of the candidate’s qualifying paperwork must be received by the filing officer by the end of the qualifying period.” The court upheld a trial judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit, who heard the case because it originated with a motion filed by incumbent Clay County Judge Kristina Mobley. Gov. Scott placed her on the bench in 2015.

Fort Myers attorney says he was told to get out of State Attorney race or face charges” via Michael Braun of News-Press.com — Candidate Chris Crowley said he was told by a representative of the 10th Judicial Circuit that campaign violation charges against him would be dropped if he quit the 20th Judicial Circuit’s state attorney race. A day after spending a few hours in jail when he was arrested in what he now claims is a case of “dirty politics at its worst,” Crowley said his own attorney, Ron Smith, was witness to the request that he quit the race or be charged. “He accompanied me the whole time, when Jerry (Hill) sat there, along with the state attorney for the 10th circuit,” Crowley said in a media briefing on the steps of the Lee County Courthouse. “But it was Mr. Jerry Hill who said ‘you must get out of this race or we’re going to indict you with a grand jury.’” Hill is an assistant state attorney with the 10th circuit.

Happening today — The Republican Party of Palm Beach County holds its annual “Lobster Fest.” Speakers include U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, 6:30 p.m., The Polo Club of Boca Raton, 5400 Champions Blvd., Boca Raton.

— EDITORIAL BOARD ENDORSEMENT ROUND-UP —

TCPalm is backing Teri Pinney in the Republican primary for state House District 84, noting her willingness to compromise and “reach across the aisle.” Pinney faces Mark Gotz. In the Democratic primary for House District 84, the newspaper recommends voters pick Delores Hogan Johnson “for her expertise in education and her decades of local activism.” Hogan Johnson faces three other Democratic hopefuls on Aug. 28. In the Republican primary for House District 83, TCPalm is supporting Toby Overdorf, acknowledging the depth at which he responded to environmental concerns.

The Palm Beach Post is backing incumbent Congressman Brian Mast in the Republican primary for Congressional District 18, saying he “makes no apologies for his support of a ban [of assault weapons], nor should he.” In the Democratic primary for CD 18, the Post recommends Lauren Baer, she “is careful to tie any national issue — such as health care — directly to the residents living there,” writes the Post’s editorial team.

In the Democratic primary for state House District 81, the Post is backing Tina Polsky, saying she is “more likely to succeed” in a Republican-controlled Legislature. In the competitive primary for state Senate District 25, the Post recommends Belinda Keiser, writing, “For GOP loyalists, Keiser checks off the boxes that should earn their primary vote: pro-business; law-and-order; A-rating from the National Rifle Association.” In the Democratic primary for Senate District 30, the Post is backing incumbent Sen. Bobby Powell, noting that “his experience and relationships established while in the state House helped the first-term senator snag the vice chairmanship of the influential Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.”

— STATEWIDE —

Spotted: Pam Bondi on “The Ingraham Angle” Bondi appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show to “criticize the Left’s culture of resistance,” a news release said. “Bondi highlighted the economic boom Florida has experienced because of President Trump. She specifically noted record-low Hispanic unemployment at 4.5 percent.” Quote: “I don’t understand why (the Left) would not root for the success of America because when you do it’s rooting for the success of all of us.”

To view Bondi’s appearance, click on the image below:

Florida inmates spent $11.3 million on MP3s. Now prisons are taking the players.” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — In April last year, the Florida Department of Corrections struck a deal with JPay. The private company, spearheading a push to sell profit-driven multimedia tablets to incarcerated people across the country, would be allowed to bring the technology to every facility in the nation’s third-largest prison system. But there was a catch. Inmates had already been purchasing electronic entertainment for the last seven years — an MP3 player program run by a different company: Access Corrections. For around $100, Access sold various models of MP3 players that inmates could then use to download songs for $1.70 each, and keep them in their dorms. More than 30,299 players were sold, and 6.7 million songs were downloaded over the life of the Access contract, according to the Department of Corrections. That’s about $11.3 million worth of music. Because of the tablets, inmates will have to return the players, and they can’t transfer the music they already purchased onto their new devices.

Tweet, tweet:

New ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing rejected in shooting case” via the News Service of Florida — Adding to divisions about the effect of a 2017 legislative change, a South Florida appeals court rejected arguments that a man convicted of manslaughter should receive a new hearing under the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law. The 2017 legislation shifted a key burden of proof in “stand your ground” cases from defendants to prosecutors. But a ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal and rulings by at least two other appellate courts have split on whether the change should apply retroactively to defendants whose cases were pending at the time the legislation took effect. The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up the retroactivity issue in a Miami-Dade County case from the 3rd District Court of Appeal, though justices have not scheduled arguments. The ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeal in a Palm Beach County case agreed with the conclusion from the 3rd District Court of Appeal that the 2017 change should not apply retroactively. The 2nd District Court of Appeal, however, took the opposite stance in a Hillsborough County case.

Father blames ‘stand your ground’ in son’s parking-lot death” via Errin Haines Whack of The Associated Press — Michael McGlockton is convinced that two things killed his son in a Florida parking lot last month: The man who pulled the trigger and the state’s polarizing “stand your ground” self-defense law. Markeis McGlockton, 28, died a few yards from his children and girlfriend at a store in Clearwater after a confrontation over a parking spot that reignited the debate over the law. The local sheriff said that under “stand your ground,” Michael Drejka was justified in the killing. Michael McGlockton said that if the law didn’t exist, his son might have gone home the night of July 19, or Drejka might have been arrested. Instead, McGlockton said, he buried his firstborn while the killer walked free. “No law should be able to protect somebody to the point that they kill somebody on the street and they can lay in the bed the same night,” McGlockton said. “To me and my family, that’s a slap in the face. (Drejka) would’ve thought twice before he pulled the trigger. With the law, he knew that he could hide behind that.”

Michael McGlockton holds a photo of his son, Markeis McGlockton.

Records show road rage, gun threats in stand your ground shooter’s past” via Kathryn Varn and Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Since 2012, according to records and interviews, 47-year-oldDrejka has been the accused aggressor in four incidents. Investigators documented three cases in police reports. The other was not shared with authorities at the time but involved the same handicap-reserved parking spot outside the Circle A Food Store near Clearwater and another shooting threat. Two involved allegations of Drejka showing a gun. In another, a trooper accused him of aggressive driving and cited him after a crash when Drejka braked hard in front of a woman driving with two children. Drejka has not spoken publicly in the weeks since he shot and killed McGlockton. No one has spoken much about him, either. Not family. Not neighbors. Not lawyers. Drejka remains, in many ways, an enigma to the public.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a two-day meeting, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Four dolphins found dead off Venice, is red tide to blame?” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — According to Mote Marine Laboratory, two dead bottlenose dolphins were recovered on a beach in Venice. A third dead dolphin was recovered from the Intracoastal Waterway near Snake Island and the fourth was recovered from Caspersen Beach. Two of the dolphins are male, one is female and the fourth’s sex is unknown. Mote staff will conduct necropsies on the four marine mammals to find out the cause of death. All four were moderate to severely decomposed, which complicates the efforts, Mote says. These may be the first dead dolphins reported in Sarasota-Manatee since the start of the red tide bloom. More than 80 manatees have died this year from red tide.

Are oysters the key to battling red tide in Florida?” via Mark Young of the Bradenton Herald — One oyster filters between nine and 50 gallons of water a day, according to Sandy Gilbert, CEO of START, which launched the Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling & Renewal program a little more than a year ago. The organization was started in 1995 during another massive red tide bloom in Manatee County and has been working to restore the county’s shellfish population. “Clams and oysters are an important part of our ecosystem,” Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, told the county commission. “They are little creatures that are part of a bigger plan, and we believe, part of the solution to help with red tide.” About 280 volunteers have been working this past year bagging oysters and placing them along the Manatee River and in strategic locations in Sarasota Bay and Robinson Preserve.

What Richard Corcoran is reading —Tallahassee Classical goes before charter appeal commission” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee Classical School, whose charter application was denied by the Leon County School District this spring, takes its case to a higher authority … The seven-person Charter School Appeal Commission will hear the appeal beginning 9:30 a.m. at the Florida Department of Education, 325 W. Gaines St. Both the school district and charter school are expected to present their cases. The commission will then make a recommendation whether to deny or grant the appeal. After the recommendation, the appeal will go to the State Board of Education, which makes the final decision. “The state board must consider the commission’s recommendation in making its decision but is not bound by the recommendation,” according to Florida Statute 1002.33.

— D.C. MATTERS —

The shadow rulers of the VA” via Isaac Arnsdorf of ProPublica — Three Mar-a-Lago members — Ike Perlmutter, the chairman of Marvel Entertainment; Bruce Moskowitz, a Palm Beach doctor; and a lawyer named Marc Sherman — together make up an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the Department of Veterans Affairs. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government. Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd.” Documents reveal a previously unknown triumvirate that hovered over public servants without any transparency, accountability or oversight. The Mar-a-Lago Crowd spoke with VA officials daily, the documents show, reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions. They prodded the VA to start new programs, and officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views. “Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring,” a former administration official said.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire, and the CEO of Marvel, right, before signing an Executive Order on “Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection” at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

White House head of communications for Hispanic media, Helen Ferre, makes quiet exit” via David Adams of Univision – Aguirre Ferré, 60, who is the daughter of Nicaraguan parents, has not spoken publicly about her departure, which was confirmed to Univision by Mercedes Schlapp, the White House director of Strategic Communications. Her unannounced exit from the White House comes in the midst of the immigration crisis over Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, but Aguirre Ferré has not publicly expressed any reservations about its impact on immigrant families. In fact, she defended the policy and never gave any sign of her loyalty wavering. At a Latina Leaders Summit in June she said; “I support the President’s efforts in securing the border and I support the President’s efforts in ensuring that the laws are enacted properly.”

— OPINIONS —

Booting Infowars’ Alex Jones from social media wasn’t wrong, but it could be dangerous” via Cathy Young for the Tallahassee Democrat — To state the obvious: There are no constitutional issues involved, since the First Amendment protects speech only from intervention by the government. Some, including Rep. Steve King, have argued that since today’s big tech companies wield virtual monopoly power in the marketplace, they should be treated as public utilities when it comes to speech — an ironic stance that puts conservatives in the position of calling for more government regulation. Meanwhile, free speech champions such as attorney and blogger Ken White warn that any attempt to treat social media platforms as “public forums” where First Amendment principles should govern will lead to pernicious government intrusion. But what if Jones was subjected to a more radical deplatforming — and what if it was the start of a slippery slope? At least one politician, Rep. Chris Murphy, seemed to advocate exactly that, tweeting that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies” and that sites like Facebook and YouTube “must do more than take down one website.” When calls for internet companies to restrict objectionable speech turn into political pressure, it should be worrying even to those who shed no tears for Jones. What happens if the Jones purge is followed by a more far-reaching ideological crackdown — targeting, for example, sites like Breitbart or The Federalist? The likely result will not be to silence the right, but to fracture the internet.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appeals court keeps Clay judicial hopeful off ballot” via the News Service of Florida — A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by Lucy Ann Hoover, who sought to run against Clay County Judge Kristina Mobley. Hoover scurried May 4 to meet a noon qualifying deadline for the race, according to the ruling. But a required financial-disclosure document was not notarized at the county elections supervisor’s office until 12:12 p.m. — 12 minutes late. The elections supervisor initially qualified Hoover as a candidate on the basis that she was in the supervisor’s office before the qualifying deadline, according to the appeals court. But Mobley challenged the qualification, and a circuit judge ruled Hoover should not be on the ballot.

Financial regulator pick pushed back” via the News Service of Florida — Kristin OlsonScott’s Cabinet aide, said the governor’s office continues to review applicants for the job of commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and another position as inspector general of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. “Our office needed more time to review those candidates, so they’ll be on the next Cabinet agenda,” Olson said. The Cabinet meets only two more times this year after next Tuesday’s meeting: Sept. 11 and Dec. 4. Scott and the Cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — in June agreed to name Pam Epting as acting commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and to reopen the application process after interviewing five applicants. An additional 20 applications were submitted following the June meeting. Epting was the deputy commissioner of the office and is not among the applicants to replace former Commissioner Drew Breakspear, who resigned under pressure from Patronis.

— ALOE —

’Every minute matters’: Disney die-hards race to hit 49 rides in one day” via Nancy Coleman of The Wall Street Journal — For an elite group of Disney superfans, doing it all in one day requires months of planning. Challengers dart from the Mad Tea Party to Space Mountain while braving the Florida heat, swarms of tourists and the occasional broken toe. Runners map out detailed routes in hopes of joining the few dozen who have ever completed the grueling race. To endure the 20-plus-mile day, some train by hitting the treadmill, Rollerblading or running in quarter-mile sprints to imitate racing between rides. There is no grand prize, only celebrity status among other admiring fans. Runners compare the challenge to a giant jigsaw puzzle with constantly moving pieces: Depending on the day, parks officially open as early as 7 a.m. and close as late as 1 a.m. Some ride times are around 20 minutes long, others are just two minutes. Waiting times vary widely, some rides have a notoriously slim operating window, and hopping between parks could take around a half-hour. The resort covers nearly 40 square miles.

Brothers Reagan (foreground) and Ryan Wagoner on the Astro Orbiter during a ride race at Disney World. (Image via Reagan Wagoner/WSJ)

Magic leap launches its first product” via Haley Britzky of Axios — Priced at $2,295, the Magic Leap One Creator Edition is an augmented reality headset that “brings digital content to life here in the real world with us,” per the company’s news release, by superimposing computer-generated effects over the user’s surroundings. Magic Leap has spent years raising billions of dollars from investors without a product to show for it. Now, the company will face its first real test as reactions roll in. CNBC reporter Todd Haselton, who was invited to test out the headset, writes the “experience with the goggles … was like a computer-generated 3D world with real depth.”

Happy birthday to one of the best in The Process, the FHCA’s Emmett Reed, who is at home walking the halls of power AND fun locales vacationing with his family. He’s also a two-time member of the INFLUENCE 100. Also celebrating today is House candidate Rebekah Bydlak and Hillsborough Co. Commissioner Sandy Murman.

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 Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also 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

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