Peter Schorsch – Florida Politics

Peter Schorsch

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, Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of the quarterly INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, SaintPetersBlog 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.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.19.18

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

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

As a matter of policy, America is now splitting families seeking asylum in the U.S. by illegally crossing the border.

For many (in both parties), it is difficult to reconcile this reality.

Every day, dozens of parents are separated from their children – as the federal government labels them “unaccompanied minors” to be remanded to government custody or foster care, while the parents are considered criminals and sent to jail.

For opponents of the Donald Trump administration, this policy of family separation is indefensible, particularly after new audio emerged showing children crying, and wondering where their parents are.

More than 2,700 children have been separated from their parents between Oct. 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018, with nearly 2,000 of them from April 18 to May 31 – the final six weeks of the period.

Currently, an average of 45 children every day is taken from their parents.

Vox is reporting that one Honduran refugee committed suicide in a detention cell after his child was taken away.

While this policy is not new, it has increased at a rapid pace under Trump, resulting in an increasing sense of outrage throughout the country – from both Republican and Democrats – which could play a role in the upcoming 2018 midterms.

The separation of families who cross from Mexico illegally is now official U.S. government policy. (Image via John Moore/Getty)

—“Listen to children who’ve just been separated from their parents at the border” via Ginger Thompson of ProPublica

’I do not favor separating families’ says Rick Scott in slight break with Trump” via Marc Caputo of Florida Politics — Scott, however, stopped short of calling for an immediate end to the policy — which has resulted in the parentless detention of thousands of children — and downplayed the administration’s role in enforcing it. “What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bipartisan inaction and failure from our federal government. They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos,” Scott said in a written statement. “Let me be clear — I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border. Anyone seeking to enter our country illegally needs to be sent back, with the exception of those who are truly seeking asylum from an oppressive regime.” The policy is the latest in a string of administration controversies that have weighed on Scott as a U.S. Senate candidate in Florida, which has a significant foreign-born population sensitive to immigration issues.

Q poll: Republicans support separating immigrant children; no other group does” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The poll states that Republican voters, by 55-35 percent, support the policy of Trump of prosecuting parents immediately even if it means separating them from their children in detention and perhaps beyond that. But Democrats, independent voters, and cross sections of whites, blacks, Hispanics, men, women, young voters, early-middle age voters, late-middle-age voters, and older voters; and, among white voters, those with or without college educations, all oppose the policy. Overall, 66 percent of those polled oppose the policy and 27 percent support it. The Republican support carried the support and was overwhelmed by 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independent voters oppose it. Opposition is particularly strong among black voters [88 percent;] Hispanic voters [80 percent]; voters under age 35 [80 percent;] and women [70 percent]. Among all white voters, 60 percent oppose the policy, and among all men, 61 percent oppose. Even the cross-section of white men shows 55 percent opposition.

Marco Rubio campaign manager: The GOP no longer has an ‘ideological compass’” via Jon Ward of Yahoo! News — GOP operative Terry Sullivan, who ran Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign … leveled his critique at both Republicans and Democrats, but said as a Republican he was more authorized to speak about that party’s drift. He blamed the deeper problem on a shift away from ideas-based campaigns. “The campaigns are much more about personality than they are about issues,” Sullivan said. “Issues are only seen as a vehicle to determine somebody’s personality. … We see that with the current president.”

Feds holding 1,000 migrant children at Miami-area compound, lawmaker says” via Jerry Iannelli and Tarpley Hitt of the Miami New Times — Roughly 1,000 migrant children are being held inside a secured compound in Homestead, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. It’s unclear whether the children crossed the border on their own or whether they were taken from their parents under Trump’s new policy. The beige prisonlike facility outside Miami, called the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, is the former Job Corps site at 960 Bougainville Boulevard. The facility opened under the Obama administration and was previously used to house unaccompanied migrant children. There’s little information about where exactly the children inside came from. In 2016, the Herald reported that the kids arrived unaccompanied across the border and had been flown in from around the country; they were either sent back home or placed with sponsors and spent an average of about a month in Homestead. At the time, the federal government said the facility was equipped to hold only 800 kids.

Rallies in Tampa Bay protest separating families at the border” via Sean Streicher of WTSP — The group, Indivisible Safety Harbor, held “Rally to End Family Separation” on the corner of FL-580 and McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater. The Women’s March — Florida Chapter also held a rally at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg. According to the USA Today, family separations on the U.S.-Mexico border have drawn global attention since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in April. Sessions has described the policy as a deterrent to families attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.

—“Microsoft ‘dismayed’ by separation of families at the border” via Ina Fried of Axios

—“How states are fighting Trump’s child separation policy” via Marisa Fernandez of Axios

—“What they’re saying: Top GOPers speak out against child separation” via Michael Sykes of Axios


—@RealDonaldTrump: Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.

@MarcoRubio: Currently govt must either release parents & continue incentive for illegal entry with children or separate families by detaining parents. Neither is good. Let’s change the law to allow families to be held together at family facilities & shorten detention with expedited hearings

@JebBush: Children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool. @realDonaldTrump should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

@ScottforFlorida: My position in regards to health care reform has not changed. Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much. We must find a way to reform it. But I do not agree with efforts to remove protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

@SenBillNelson: The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want. Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.

@AndrewGillum: Tonight I called on @FLGovScott to issue an executive order banning the use of any state resources that would assist in the separation of children from their parents. And I also called on @SecNielsen to resign — her Department has lost its moral standing. This is a disgrace.

@MarioDB: It is totally unacceptable, for any reason, to purposely separate minor children from their parents. Any and every other option should be implemented in order to not separate minors from their parents, which I believe is unconscionable.

@RepHastingsFL: Separating children from their families and holding them in cages is government-sanctioned child abuse. I don’t care where you come from; no family deserves to be treated this way. Shame on Donald Trump for permitting such an immoral, indefensible policy.

@David4Florida: Today, images of children in cages cover our television screens. Why? President Trump is using these children as hostages to be exchanged for wall funding and immigration cutbacks. Now more than ever, we need a Congress that will stand up to Trump and protect our values.

@fineout: Amid dust-ups over debris contracts, pre-existing conditions & Trump border policy, @FLGovScott headed off to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to offer “guidance” & “assistance” on hurricane recovery

@GbennettPost: As #Florida governor candidate filings trickle in, Dem @MayorLevine reports net worth of $133 million; Dem @GwenGraham reports $14.4 million.

@DanmericaCNN: Hillary Clinton, speaking in NYC, endorses Donna Shalala, former Clinton admin official and candidate for Congress in Florida’s 27th district: “I know she will be an excellent Congresswoman from Florida.” Shalala, who also ran the Clinton Foundation, introduced Clinton today.

@JohnMorganESQ: I’ve been saying this loudly for the last 5yrs. It’s a no-brainer. Small minded people & politicians on the take from drug companies are all that separates us from compassionate care. @FLGovScott drop your appeal & let compassion win. Only you can do that


Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 3; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 9; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 19; MLB All-Star Game — 28; Deadline for filing claim bills — 43; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 43; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 44; Start of the U.S. Open — 69; Primary Election Day — 70; College Football opening weekend — 72; NFL season starts — 80; Future of Florida Forum — 99; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 126; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 127; General Election Day — 140; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 240; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 259.


Jake Raburn won’t seek re-election in 2018” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Raburn announced he is not running for a fourth term in the Florida House this fall, citing the need to spend more time with family. “The past six years have been the most surreal, humbling, overwhelming, exciting, challenging and gratifying on my journey thus far,” said Raburn, a Lithia Republican, in an email from his campaign. “What started as a glimmer of a dream in my heart many years ago came to fruition in 2012 when you elected me to serve you by representing our community in the Florida House of Representatives,” the 33-year-old added. … “After much thought and many hours of prayer with my wife, Melissa, and our family, I’ve decided to not seek re-election this fall. While serving in the Florida House has been a tremendous honor and pleasure, my No. 1 responsibility is to my family, and I’m confident my place right now is at home with them and in our family business.” … Raburn’s exit leaves Democrats Layla Hartz and Debbie Katt alone in the contest. If the GOP is to retain control of the southwestern Hillsborough seat, another Republican will need to file and qualify before the candidate qualifying period ends Friday at noon.

Four is enough: Jake Raburn is not seeking re-election in 2018, to spend more time with his family.

Speaking of which: Veteran, conservative businessman files to succeed Raburn — Sean McCoy, a West Point graduate, Iraqi veteran and community leader, filed paperwork to succeed Raburn in House District 57. “Our community enjoyed six years of strong representation in Tallahassee under the leadership of Representative Raburn. We need a leader to succeed Representative Raburn who will continue the same strong commitment to our conservative values and local priorities,” McCoy said in a statement. “Our state needs servant leaders who will not back down but instead will work night and day to keep Florida on the right track. The Army taught me how to meet challenges head-on and work together as a team to win. I’ve done that in the battlefields of Iraq and the boardrooms of America, and I’ll do it in Tallahassee for those I seek to represent in District 57.” McCoy, a resident of Fishhawk, founded Fishhawk Military & Veterans to promote patriotism in the Hillsborough County community and support members and their families.


As Bill Nelson fights for political life against Scott, concerns grow among Democrats” via Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats in Washington and Florida are increasingly nervous as Scott and Republican allies have unleashed a flood of money into TV and online ads — roughly $20 million so far, more than Nelson‘s 2012 opponent spent on the entire campaign — and maintain a superior organization that spares no opportunity. Scott is employing the same scorched earth strategy he used to win office twice before: Blanket TV, define the opponent in starkly negative terms, campaign nonstop and never go off script. If things get tight, spend millions more … the narrow path for Democrats to reclaim the Senate runs is challenged by states that Trump won, including Florida. Nelson is suddenly one of the party’s five most vulnerable members in the country, and the nation’s third-largest state is by far the most expensive state of those five. A victory for Nelson will be extremely costly and could drain resources from Democrats elsewhere.

Democrats press Scott on pre-existing conditions” the Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats continued to attack the state of Florida’s decision to join an anti-Obamacare lawsuit that could take away guaranteed coverage for millions of people with pre-existing conditions. Sen. Nelson highlighted the issue during an event in Orlando, saying 7.8 million Floridians could be hurt if the lawsuit is successful. In Tampa, Rep. Kathy Castor and former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner joined activists for an afternoon event and criticized Gov. Scott for not withdrawing the state from the suit, filed in Texas. It has received new attention after the Trump administration said it would not defend provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate and protections for pre-existing conditions. No longer on the defensive over Obamacare, Democrats are working to make health care a focus of the midterm elections and polls show it’s a top issue for voters.

New Scott attack ad bashes ‘negative’ Nelson” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — It’s the fourth consecutive attack ad the Scott campaign has released criticizing Nelson. This time the ad accuses Nelson of going negative in his campaign — only it doesn’t address Nelson’s campaign exactly since Nelson’s campaign hasn’t actually released any negative commercials. So, the commercial goes after the Democratic organizations that have been running negative ads on Nelson’s behalf and blames Nelson for them. The new Scott 30-second ad, “Negative Nelson,” makes the leap quickly from around a long time to negative campaigning. “When Bill Nelson was first elected, Richard Nixon was President. Yep. Nixon. A professional politician for 46 years, Nelson has learned some tricks. Cheap tricks, like attack your opponent regardless of the facts.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott accepts trio of fall debates” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Among the network hosts: CNN, Telemundo 51 in Miami, and Jacksonville’s WJXT Channel 4 (co-hosted by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute). Dates and times of the debates are not yet available, though the Scott campaign said they’d take place in the fall — presumably well after the Aug. 28 primary. Neither candidate faces formidable opposition from within their parties.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will travel to Puerto Rico at the invitation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello, to continue to offer “guidance, advice and assistance regarding ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.” The Governor will participate in the Puerto Rico P3 Summit.


Veterans group breaks policy by endorsing Ron DeSantis for Governor — In a break from its policy of only endorsing congressional candidates, Combat Veterans for Congress PAC is endorsing DeSantis for Florida governor. “Ron DeSantis is a fiscal and constitutional conservative who will work to rein in the out-of-control spending and protect and support our Second Amendment rights in the State of Florida,” the group said in a statement. “As Governor, he will stimulate the private sector to grow and create new jobs while bringing integrity and Judeo-Christian traditional family values to Florida’s government.” For nine years, the Combat Veterans for Congress PAC never endorsed a candidate for state office. However, since 2012 After endorsing and supporting DeSantis in his bid for Congress, the group “observed how he has superbly represented the voters of Florida,” which caused them to change their endorsement policy, in this one case. “We approve of his commitment to honorable principles, strong leadership, and his dedicated service to his country.”

A veteran’s group breaks protocol to support Ron DeSantis for Florida Governor.

Ryan Tyson poll – Philip Levine, Gwen Graham close via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – This latest poll, taken June 6-9, shows Levine … with 24 percent of likely Democratic voters; Graham with 21 percent; … Gillum with 11 percent; and King with 4 percent. Greene, who filed to run June 1, received 3 percent. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats were undecided. In a cover memo, Tyson noted that while Levine has a much wider lead in other polls, a comparison of internals, demographic samples, convince him that “this race is as close as the top lines suggest.” In particular, the Let’s Preserve poll heavily sampled women voters — 58 percent of the survey group — taking in account the high female turnouts of the past two Democratic primary elections.

Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum campaigns to seek taxpayer funding in Democratic gubernatorial primary” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Florida’s public financing program allows candidates for governor or any of the three Florida Cabinet posts to receive taxpayer dollars in return for agreeing to certain restrictions. In order to be eligible, a gubernatorial campaign must raise at least $150,000, a point Graham and other top-tier candidates have easily surpassed. Under the program, contributions of up to $250 will be matched by the state, while contributions of over $250 will be matched up to $250. The required paperwork to seek public matching funds must be filed when a candidate formally qualifies. Graham filed hers last week, and Gillum will do the same this week, which is the qualifying deadline for state candidates. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Winter Park housing developer Chris King are not eligible for taxpayer funding for their campaigns because each has loaned themselves money. The same is expected for Jeff Greene, the latest entry into the race. If he qualifies, he’s expected to tap into his personal fortune to fuel his campaign.

Assignment editors — Adam Putnam will hold an announcement with Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Mike Harrison and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White, 2:30 p.m. Central time, Roberts Hall, 831 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven.

Poll: Sean Shaw leads Ashley Moody, Frank White in Attorney General race” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A new poll of the Attorney General race shows Tampa Democratic Rep. Shaw leading his top Republican rivals in a head-to-head matchup. According to an online poll commissioned by the campaign and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, Shaw currently leads former circuit court judge Moody by five points, 41-36, and Pensacola Rep. White by 4 points, 40-36. In both cases, 21 percent of voters said they were undecided. … The polling memo shows Shaw with a double-digit lead among independent voters in both head-to-heads, and his lead was nearly the same among women — plus-10 if Moody is his opponent and plus-9 if he faces White. Hispanic and Latino voters preferred Shaw by 33 points in the Moody matchup and by 25 points in the White matchup. The ALG survey included another positive tidbit for Democrats: Trump is still underwater in the Sunshine State. … 43 percent of Floridians had a favorable view of the president, while 54 percent find him unfavorable. Among that group, 44 percent said they had a “very unfavorable” view of the president.

Jared Moskowitz endorses David Richardson in CD 27” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — State Rep. Jared Moskowitz is throwing his support behind David Richardson in the packed Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Richardson is one of five Democrats running for the nomination along with Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Donna Shalala. Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, says Richardson is the right candidate to take over the seat from departing Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In an emphatic statement backing Richardson, Moskowitz said: “During our six years together in the Florida Legislature, nobody was more feared by the Republicans than Representative Richardson. David was a watchdog as opposed to the lap dogs we see in Congress today.” “If the voters of Florida’s 27th Congressional District elect him,” he continued, “they will have one of the most productive Representatives in Congress. Period, full stop. I endorse him!”

Ed Hooper hits the airwaves in SD 16” via Florida Politics — Depending on where in the Pinellas- and Pasco-based district viewers live, they’ll see a different version of the ad. The ad airing in North Pinellas on Spectrum features an introduction from Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. West Pasco residents will see an ad with the same script but featuring an intro from Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. Both Gualtieri and Nocco were early backers of Hooper’s Senate campaign. Both spots then cut to Hooper, who says he will “fight for issues that are important to our community, like growing a strong economy, protecting our seniors and making sure insurance is affordable.” He also says that by working with leaders like Gualtieri and Nocco, “we can get a lot accomplished.”

Hooper’s ads are viewable on his campaign website.

Florida Retail Federation endorses Kathleen Passidomo for SD 28 — “Senator Passidomo has been a true champion for retail by helping ensure Floridians are prepared in the event of a disaster, working toward tort reform, providing more than $150 million in tax relief for Florida families and having the best interests of the state’s businesses at heart,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We’re eager to continue working with Senator Passidomo on identifying ways to support retailers, families and our industry going forward.” In announcing its endorsement, the FRF noted that Passidomo sponsored a Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday which provided Floridians with tax relief when purchasing hurricane supplies and has worked on issues important to Florida retailers like tort reform and regulating commerce activities. This past Session, Passidomo worked to continue broad-based tax relief to families and businesses across the state, resulting in $168.6 million in tax relief.

Happening tonight: 

Whoa –Rene Plasencia alleges espionage by opponent’s treasurer, seeks criminal charge” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — State Rep. Plasencia is alleging that a volunteer who moved from his re-election campaign to the campaign of his Republican primary opponent George Collins illegally downloaded Plasencia’s campaign data and took it with him to Collins’ campaign. Plasencia and his campaign met with an Orange County Sheriff’s Office detective and said they intend to pursue criminal charges, perhaps theft of intellectual property, a third-degree felony. Plasencia is alleging the man now serving as Collins’ campaign treasurer, Zane C. Matter, used access to Plasencia’s webElect political data account to download data after-hours onto a home computer. Matter then left Plasencia’s campaign and joined Collins’ campaign.

George Gainer, Mel Ponder, Cord Byrd face foes as qualifying starts” via the News Service of Florida — Fort Walton Beach Democrat Mary Jeanne “Gigi” Gibson opened a campaign account to run against Gainer in Senate District 2, which is made up of Bay, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington and part of Okaloosa counties, according to the state Division of Elections website. Gainer, who qualified for the race, had raised $176,100 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Also in the Panhandle, Valparaiso Democrat Rebecca Koelzer opened an account to challenge Ponder in Okaloosa County’s House District 4 … Ponder, had raised $100,375 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Meanwhile, in Northeast Florida, Fernandina Beach Republican Joseph Francis Zimmerman opened an account to challenge Byrd in House District 11, which includes Nassau County and part of Duval County. Byrd had raised $70,960 for his campaign account as of May 31. Also in the race is Yulee Democrat Nathcelly Leroy Rohrbaugh.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will speak to the Fort Myers Republican Women’s Club Luncheon, 11:15 a.m., The Helm Club in The Landings Yacht, Golf and Tennis Club, 4425 S. Landings Drive, Fort Myers.

The Key West mayoral candidate with the most cash is no longer in the race” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — … citing a back injury. Danny Hughes, a full-time Key West resident for five years who hails from New Orleans, said ending his campaign, in which he has so far raised $48,685 and spent all but about $5,000, was a surprise even to himself. “We already have our signs, we have everything,” Hughes said. “We were all teed up and ready to go.” His departure leaves 10 candidates who have announced a run to succeed Mayor Craig Cates, who is term-limited after being first elected in 2009. Key West elections are nonpartisan. Hughes said the back issue started June 1 and hasn’t gotten any better after two weeks of rest. After three days of testing at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Hughes made the decision to end his campaign.


In a recent POLITICO Magazine feature, Michael Grunwald takes a deep dive into The Villages, offering readers a glimpse into what he describes as “Florida’s political Tomorrowland.”

Per Grunwald, Villagers are politically incorrect at times and they’ve come to love Trump and be critical of those against him. The story also points out that The Villages is whitewashed and reliably red, and home to a growing population that routinely turns up at the ballot.

Villagers join in golf cart parade in support of Donald Trump. (Image via Villages

“For all the hype about Puerto Ricans moving to the Sunshine State after Hurricane Maria, or high school students like the Parkland gun control activists turning 18 and registering to vote any Democratic surge could be offset by the migration of Republican-leaning seniors who like Florida’s balmy weather and lack of income tax,” writes Grunwald.

Nostalgia: U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, whose district encompasses The Villages, told Grunwald, “They want an America that’s a little more like it was when they were growing up, and that’s what Trump is offering.”

Dissenters: Grunwald describes the uniformity of The Villages before diving into its politics, in which — just like the area’s architecture — one style rules. Conservative beliefs are dominating and prevalent, but there are a few Democrats among the masses. One, Oren Miller, is even running for state Representative.

Old against young: For the needle to move left in Florida, younger Democratic voters have to show up at the polls. But the amount of Villagers, and older voters in general, is increasing. Concludes Grunwald, “Future results will depend a lot on whether white, older, exurban enclaves like The Villages keep growing faster than the multiracial, younger, urban enclaves of the left.”


Appellate court puts hold on smokable medical marijuana” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An appellate court has shot down a trial judge’s order to make immediate her ruling that medical marijuana can be smoked in Florida. The 1st District Court of Appeal, in a one-page order dated Monday, quashed Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ order allowing patients to smoke. The state’s appeal of the decision placed an automatic ‘stay,’ or hold, on the ruling pending review. Gievers’ order lifted that stay. “The stay provided for by (the) Florida Rule(s) of Appellate Procedure … shall remain in effect pending final disposition of the merits of this appeal,” the appellate court’s Monday order said. “An opinion setting forth this Court’s reasoning will issue at a later date.”

Judge could face reprimand for reference letter” via the News Service of Florida — A Miami-Dade County judge could face a public reprimand at the Florida Supreme Court because she wrote a letter of reference for a man charged in a federal health care fraud case, according to documents filed on the Supreme Court website. County Judge Deborah White-Labora wrote the letter in January 2018 on behalf of Sam Konell, who was later sentenced by a federal judge to five years in prison. White-Labora reached a stipulation agreement with an investigative panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission and acknowledged that such reference letters violate the state’s judicial conduct code. The Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended a public reprimand, though the Supreme Court has the ultimate authority to decide punishments for judges.

Judge Deborah White-Labora of the Miami-Dade Court.

What Lenny Curry is reading —Court upholds Jacksonville pension surtax” via the News Service of Florida — A state appeals court rejected a challenge to a 2016 ballot measure aimed at addressing an underfunded pension system in Jacksonville. The city’s voters approved the measure, which called for a half-cent sales-tax surcharge to help deal with the pension problems. But a group of citizens filed a legal challenge to the measure, including arguing that the ballot title and summary misled voters and that the referendum should be voided, according to a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal. A Duval County circuit judge upheld the ballot measure, and a three-judge panel of the appeals court agreed.

Questions linger as ‘Hurricane Formula One’ bears down on Miami” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hurricane Irma hit Florida last year as a Category Four hurricane and caused billions of dollars worth of damage in South Florida. But the Miami City Commission last month voted to bring “Hurricane Formula One” to the streets of Miami every year for the next 10 years. Miami’s city manager is now negotiating with Formula One on terms to bring the race to Miami. But there are lingering questions of who is paying for this storm of sound and expense that’s bearing down on the city. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has spearheaded efforts to secure the race. In comments to Florida Politics, Mayor Suarez said “Miami is a world-class, global city and Formula One is a world-renowned, global event. Naturally, joining forces is something that would be highly exciting for both our city and the racing world.” Suarez sees the event as a revenue magnet. “Formula One has the potential of making an enormous impact on our economy and elevate our standing on the world stage of sports and entertainment. This event would attract tourists, race enthusiasts, visitors, and media outlets from all over the world to Miami, creating incredible excitement and opportunity.” But not everyone is as optimistic.

Florida has more to lose with sea rise than anywhere else in the U.S., new study says” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — By 2045, nearly 64,000 homes in Florida face flooding every other day. Half of those are in South Florida. If you buy a house now, before your new mortgage is paid you might have to regularly do the rolled-up-pants, shoes-in-hand commute that has become an enduring image of sea rise. These numbers, released in a report compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, used housing information from Zillow and a flood model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that predicts 6 1/2 feet of sea rise by the end of the century. By the end of the century, Florida’s number of at-risk homes jump from 64,000 to a million. In 2100, the report said, about 1 in 10 homes in Florida will face flooding every other day. That puts the Sunshine State at the top of the list nationwide for homes at risk.


Supreme Court sides with Florida man in free speech case” via Jessica Gresko of The Associated Press — The Court sided with Fane Lozman in a lawsuit that began with his 2006 arrest at a City of Riviera Beach city council meeting. Lozman, who also won a case against the city at the Supreme Court in 2013, was arrested while talking about corruption in the county during a public comment portion of the meeting. Lozman argued he was arrested in retaliation for being a critic of the city and sued. But a lower court said Lozman was barred from bringing a lawsuit for retaliation because a jury found a police officer had probable cause to arrest him for disturbing a lawful assembly. The Supreme Court disagreed, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing in an 8-1 decision that Lozman’s lawsuit isn’t barred. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. “What happened to me was wrong. It happens all the time to public speakers. This is going to tell municipalities that you’re not immunized from legal actions. There is a price to pay,” Lozman said.

Fane Lozman, a winner (again) in a Supreme Court First Amendment case against Riviera Beach.

Donald Trump announces plans for Pentagon to create ‘space force’” via Marcia Dunn of The Associated Press — Vowing to reclaim U.S. leadership in space, Trump is directing the Pentagon to create a new “Space Force” as an independent service branch aimed at ensuring American supremacy in space. Trump envisioned a bright future for the U.S. space program, pledging to revive the country’s flagging efforts, return to the moon and eventually send a manned mission that would reach Mars. The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want “China and Russia and other countries leading us.” … “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest spacefaring nation,” Trump said in the East Room, joined by members of his space council. “The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.”


Sean Shaw: A legal strategy to combat gun violence” via Florida Politics — As is often the case in Florida, Republican leadership rolled common-sense reforms like raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21, banning bump stocks, and more money for school safety, into a bill that would also arm our teachers. Unfortunately, the tragic reality is it took three of the most horrific mass shootings ever, all occurring in our state in the past two years, and the fierce advocacy and leadership of our state’s children to force a real conversation about gun violence among our elected leaders. As Attorney General, I will use the independence of the office to hold state government accountable, fully investigate these horrific shootings and other acts of violence, prosecute those breaking the laws we already have in place, and challenge unjust federal laws that provide near-total immunity for gun manufacturers who should be held accountable for their role in gun violence. Stopping gun violence requires our next Attorney General to embrace the independence of the office fully. Florida’s Attorney General is not appointed by the Governor but elected by the people.

John Thomas: Duke Energy should keep its promise to Polk County” via Florida Politics — Duke Energy partnered with U.S. EcoGen in 2011 to build a $400 million plant to produce biomass renewable energy … Relying on this agreement, U.S. EcoGen has already spent more than $40 million developing the project and bought more than 1,300 acres in Polk County for the new facility. The project was delayed by everything from the discovery of gopher tortoises to the new federal tax reform law — things beyond the control of the smaller company. U.S. EcoGen asked Duke Energy for a one-year extension, meaning it would start delivering power in 2020, but the megacorporation said no. This refusal is both baffling and harmful to consumers, since the state Public Service Commission has said the project would save ratepayers almost $60 million. Baffling, that is, unless you consider that it looks like Duke Energy has taken an interest in operating its own renewable energy business. In a PSC document from last year, Duke Energy asked permission to enter the renewable energy field, which would make it a direct competitor with U.S. EcoGen — not a partner. Unless, of course, it found a way to stop U.S. EcoGen’s plant from ever opening. Duke Energy has a real chance to do something good for its ratepayers, good for this community, and good for the public.

Paul Bradshaw: It’s time for Tallahassee to grow up” for the Tallahassee Democrat — Imagine an alternative history for Tallahassee, one where a modern skyline of a dozen or more 20-story buildings boldly defines the urban core in the historic city center; a skyline that projects the power, optimism and sophistication of being the capital of the nation’s third most populous state. Unfortunately, that idealized Tallahassee doesn’t exist. To fully understand, you have to go back decades to the Martinez administration and the origins of Southwood. St. Joe Company — which had previously been a sleepy landowner holding vast tracts of timber and grazing land — decided it wanted to take a more aggressive role as a developer, including on its land near Capital Circle SE. But it had one problem. With Tallahassee’s government-dominated city center more than five miles away, there was little incentive for state workers to live in that area. St. Joe had an inspired (if self-serving) idea: Instead of asking workers to travel to the Capitol complex every day, essentially move the Capitol complex to St. Joe’s cow pastures. St. Joe got its anchor tenant and Tallahassee lost the full potential of revitalizing its downtown. It was quite possibly the worst planning decision in the history of Tallahassee. If Tallahassee is serious about revitalizing its downtown and creating a vibrant mix of land uses that provides opportunities for working, shopping and living within a walkable area, the city needs to partner with the state and recommit to growing up instead of growing out.


First on #FlaPolJennifer Wilson, formerly of Adams & Reese and Sen. Tom Lee’s office, is joining Shumaker Advisors. We’ll have a full story later today. Till then, here’s a quote from firm President and CEO Ron Christaldi: “We are very excited to have Jennifer join our team. Her experience and leadership as a key staffer to multiple members of the Florida Legislature help bolster our presence in Tallahassee and throughout Florida.”

Jennifer Wilson is joining Shumaker Advisors.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Makayla Anne Stilianou Buchanan, Kevin Andrew Doyle, Wexford Strategies: Florida Title Group

Michael Corcoran, Jeffrey Johnston, Anita Berry, Matt Blair, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: 831 Federal Acquisition dba The Big Easy Casino

Rachel Cone, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Paul Lowell, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Gomez Barker Associates

Jonathan Paul Steverson, Foley & Lardner: Lazlo326

— ALOE —

Michael Jackson’s elephant escapes enclosure at Florida zoo” via the Associated Press — An elephant that once lived at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch briefly escaped its enclosure at a Florida zoo. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens posted on Facebook that Ali the bull elephant wandered through a gate that was accidentally left open Sunday and wound up in a courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant barn. The zoo said guests weren’t endangered and safety protocols were quickly put into place. Zoo staff used food to entice the elephant back into the enclosure. Ali was loose for about 20 minutes.

This 2017 photo provided by the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden shows Ali, a bull elephant that once lived at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg” via Hannah Denham of the Tampa Bay Times — The Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild will operate through the software development community, Suncoast Developers Guild, Inc. … It was recently licensed by the state, said Suncoast President Toni Warren. The school will welcome 15 to 30 students in the initial class; each of them will go through an online application, interview process and be charged $14,900 in tuition. Warren called it Florida’s first 501(c)(3) not-for-profit computer coding school. “(St. Petersburg) is really where the creatives live,” Warren said. “People come to our school because they want to express their creativity and they want to be in an industry with continuous learning.”

Happy birthday to our favorite BCC team member, Lyndsey Brzozowski, as well as our man in Jacksonville, A.G. Gancarski.

Last Call for 6.18.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Lawyers had until this afternoon to file recommendations as to how an administrative law judge should rule in a bid protest over the statewide law enforcement radio system.

Attorneys for Harris Corp., Motorola Solutions and the Department of Management Services (DMS) argued the case last month before Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper in Tallahassee.

Culpepper’s request for recommended orders likely signals he’s close to a decision. His recommended order goes to DMS Secretary Erin Rock, who can adopt it, modify it, or reject it entirely. Any further challenge would go to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Melbourne-based Harris had challenged the award to Motorola this March to take over the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System, or SLERS, which Harris had since September 2000 and lost.

As we previously reported, “The awarding of the new contract concluded almost three years of bureaucratic and legislative infighting, with some lawmakers — often benefiting from political contributions — backing one side over the other.”

The deal is potentially worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Harris’ attorney raised the issue of radio towers and how their quantity and quality of service is paramount to officer and public safety. But Motorola’s legal counsel said his client’s superiority in communications technology essentially means the company can do more with less.

The filings due today had not added to the docket as of late afternoon.

Evening Reads

‘I do not favor separating families,’ says Rick Scott in slight break with Donald Trump” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

As Bill Nelson fights for political life against Rick Scott, concerns grow among Democrats” via Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio campaign manager: The GOP no longer has an ‘ideological compass’” via Jon Ward of Yahoo News

New Rick Scott attack ad bashes ‘negative’ Bill Nelson” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Most of Gwen Graham’s $14.4M net worth comes from stock in family company” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Lois Frankel, heading for Mexico border, calls Donald Trump immigration policies ‘racist’” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Jared Moskowitz endorses David Richardson in CD 27” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Appellate court puts hold on smokable medical marijuana” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

Attorney: Daytona roller coaster riders will have lifelong injuries” via CBS Miami

South Florida activist is 2-0 at the Supreme Court after First Amendment victory” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

Quote of the Day

“Children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool. @realDonaldTrump should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, tweeting Monday.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights


Wake Up Early?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will open a two-day meeting with discussions about issues such as new rules for airboat operators who have commercial passengers. That’s at 8:30 a.m. Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota.

Committees of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will hold a series of meetings in advance of a full board meeting Wednesday. Meetings start at 11 a.m., Sheraton Orlando North, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr., Maitland.

Javier Enriquez, a candidate in Miami-Dade County’s House District 114, and Annie Martinez, a candidate in House District 119, are slated to speak to the Old Cutler Republican Women’s Club. That’s at noon, Brio Tuscan Grille, 8888 S.W. 136th St., Miami.

The Florida Public Service Commission will consider a draft report about utilities’ hurricane preparedness and restoration activities. That’s at 1:30 p.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will hold an announcement with Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Mike Harrison and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White. That’s at 2:30 p.m. Central time, Roberts Hall, 831 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven.

First Lady Ann Scott will be honored during a reception hosted by the Women’s Republican Club of Naples Federated, the Republican Women of Southwest Florida Federated and the Southwest Florida Young Republicans. That’s at 3 p.m., The Continental, 1205 Third St., Naples.

The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a customer meeting about proposed increases in water and wastewater rates for Orchid Springs Development Corp. in Polk County. That’s at 6 p.m., Chain O’ Lakes Complex, 210 Cypress Gardens Blvd. West, Winter Haven.

Former Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will speak at the monthly meeting of the Democrats of South Dade Club. That’s at 7:45 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami, 7701 SW 76th Ave., Miami.

Here is the 2018 edition of The INFLUENCE 100: The most influential people in Florida politics

“You’ve guaranteed there will be an INFLUENCE Magazine for another two years.”

That’s what one of the members of the INFLUENCE 100 told me after the first listing of the most influential people in Florida politics was published two years ago. This person’s point to me was that by creating a ‘Fortune 500 of Florida politics,’ I had instantly made our fledgling magazine relevant.

(A link to the digital copy of INFLUENCE Magazine is here.)

(Click here to subscribe to INFLUENCE Magazine.)

I didn’t know if I believed that. Not until another member of the list — a prominent lobbyist — told me about executives of a major corporation who were considering changing their roster of contract lobbyists.

The in-house lobbyist who managed the team pushed back against the executive’s meddling by taking out the INFLUENCE 100 edition of the magazine, showing it to the executives and asking them to show him where the lobbyists who the execs wanted to hire. On those pages were some of the members of his existing team.

That, my friends, is influence. And that is what the magazine — and especially this edition (our tenth!) — is all about.

But influence is a commodity that’s hard to define. The adage that you’ll know it when you see it doesn’t apply to influence because, in many ways, those who wield influence don’t often want to be seen at work.

That’s what’s special about the INFLUENCE 100.

There are no elected officials or agency heads on the list. That’s for two reasons: the first being that, of course, the Governor of Florida is the most influential person in the state; the second is that the power of most officeholders is with their position and that (mostly) they don’t take it with them once they leave.

Instead, the INFLUENCE 100 includes all the other masters of the universe: The Players, The Thought Leaders, The Lobbyists, The Titans, The Counselors, The Media, The Industry Leaders, The Advocates, and The Legends.

The original inspiration for the INFLUENCE 100 is Time magazine’s annual list of the most influential people in the world, which, rather than ranking them, also breaks down its list into sectors.

The INFLUENCE 100’s two favorite aspects for me — beyond the parlor games it will inspire — are the superb photographs that accompany many of the profiles, and that the blurbs were written by the subjects’ peers, competitors, and admirers.

After all, who knows the 100 better?

Since this is the second edition of the INFLUENCE 100, it’s almost as interesting to consider who is no longer on the list as who is making a repeat appearance. About 60 percent of the latest list was on it in 2016, but still, a lot of room opened up on the rankings.

And, as it was with the first edition, this is MY list. I’m responsible for the facepalming, out-of-left-field choices, as well as the glaring sins of omission. I’m the one who initially decided not to rank the list. I’m the one who moved so-and-so from the “100” section to the honorable mentions.

Beyond the INFLUENCE 100, this is a really, really good edition of the magazine. Probably our best yet (and that’s saying something, considering INFLUENCE Magazine finished second in the state for the Florida Magazine Associations’ best single edition award). There’s just a slew of news and notes and insights and features about what we think is the most politically active and interesting state in the country.

(A link to the digital copy of INFLUENCE Magazine is here.)

(Click here to subscribe to INFLUENCE Magazine.)

Hopefully, with this second edition of the INFLUENCE 100, we’ve done more than guarantee another two years for our little publication.

For the record, this year’s list includes:

Jon Adrabi

Adam Babington

Pat Bainter

Brian Ballard

Bill Barker

Sarah Bascom

Lewis Bear

Brewster Bevis

Travis Blanton

Ron Book

Paul Bradshaw

Norman Braman

Dean Cannon

Gaston Cantens

Reggie Cardozo

Tony Carvajal

Kevin Cate

Kelly Cohen

Gus Corbella

Michael Corcoran

Robert Corker

Ana Cruz

Husein Cumber

Nelson Diaz

Matt Dixon

Carol Dover

Chris Dudley

Bill Edwards

Tony Fabrizio

Tom Feeney

Gary Fineout

Julio Fuentes

Mike Griffin

Marion Hammer

David Hart

Alex Heckler

Rich Heffley

Brecht Heuchan

Mori Hosseini

Brian Hughes and Rachel Perrin Rogers

Nick Iarossi

Alia Faraj-Johnson

David and Christina Johnson

Eric Johnson

Jon Johnson

Marian Johnson

Fred Karlinsky

Shad Khan

John Kirtley

Patricia Levesque

Carol Marbin Miller

Andy Marlette

Scott Maxwell

Brian May

Tracy Mayernick

Collier Merrill

John Morgan

Ana Navarro

Rosemary O’Hara

Meredith O’Rourke

Edie Ousley

Anthony Pedicini

Tom Petway

Sean Pittman

Ben Pollara

Noah Pransky

Emmett Reed

Joy-Ann Reid

Jim Rimes

Kim Rivers

John Rood

Harris Rosen

Bill Rubin

Chris Ruddy

Monica Russo

Ron Sachs

Justin Sayfie

Chris Searcy

Eric Silagy

John Sowinski

Tim Stapleton

Melissa Stone

Ryan Tyson

Christian Ulvert

Steve Vancore

Jeff Vinik

Ashley Walker

Frank Walker

Nancy Watkins

Susie Wiles

Marley Wilkes

Mark Wilson

Rick Wilson

Jeff Wright

Joe York

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.18.18

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

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

The last time we ran the INFLUENCE 100, we said, “Influence is difficult to quantify but you know it when you see it.”

Well, if it’s worth saying, it’s worth repeating.

Click here to read who’s on the INFLUENCE 100.

You’ll “know it” when you peruse this latest edition of the 100, a review of the most influential people in Florida policy and politics.

Once again, the list covers campaign consultants and the people they get to open their wallets. The people who decide who becomes a candidate and who stays home.

Then there are the ardent advocates. The media elite. The people who make “The Process” in Tallahassee work. You know, the ones who decide which bills get filed — and which never see the light of a Capitol copy machine.

As before, don’t expect to see anybody in elected office, running a state or other government agency, or running for office.

We’ll say this again, too: “Influence may be hard to define, but who’s influential is easy to see.”

Click here to subscribe to INFLUENCE Magazine.


@marcorubio: Negotiations with Cuba & #NorthKorea are very different. Deal with Cuba was about rewarding dictatorship with diplomatic recognition in return for nothing. Negotiation with North Korea about avoiding nuclear war & millions dead. Kind of a big difference

@NelsonForSenate: On this day six years ago, the DACA program was enacted offering protection to millions of children brought this country, the only country they know. We must pass a permanent legislative solution to protect #Dreamers — we can’t keep kicking the can down the road.

@AndrewGillum: On #FathersDay I am standing with the families being inhumanely torn apart on our southern border. I demand that @ScottforFlorida — who is now asking for our vote to be our next Senator — stand up to the Trump Administration & support S. 3036, the Keeping Families Together Act.

@JamesGrantFL: We cannot ignore the fact that people living under oppressive and brutal regimes will continue to pursue freedom. The need for economically sustainable, operational, and secure immigration policy cannot be overstated. Enacting it consistent with our principles is a must.

@AGGancarski: If America’s English language national media covered realities of lives in Mexico & places south, there may be a better understanding of why people move here. It’s remarkable how much of our narrative is shaped on rendering cultures as “other” and depersonalizing ppl from them.

@TheRickWilson: The cheering section in the “conservative” media that has been screeching with joy over Trump‘s executive orders, his unlimited pardon power, steamrolling the rule of law, etc. ad nauseam is STRANGELY silent on why he doesn’t just change the family separation policy by diktat.

@DeFede: .@FLGovScott also said Monroe County asked the state to come in. But we went back to the September 27 Monroe County Commission meeting and found none of that was true. (See attached transcript) Monroe officials said the company they hired was on the job.

@DavidJollyFL: Had a long talk with a 6th grader tonight who told me about his classroom active shooter drills. They practice hiding in closets. Once a month. I guess many parents are living this, but I can’t believe Members of Congress are. Laws would change. Laws should change.

@Conarck: Receiving complaints from those with loved ones in Florida prisons who have spoken out publicly against visitation process. They say their partners are being placed in confinement. Will be working to verify over the next couple of weeks. Please send similar stories my way.

@fred_guttenberg: Father’s Day is a day for us dads to remember our main purpose, and that is our commitment to the safety of our families. Trust me, the fun times stop when you lose one of your children. Do not let your family become the next to suffer like this.

@TheHideaway10: $1 off coffee drinks for members of the free press. All day, every day.


Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 4; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 10; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 20; MLB All-Star Game — 29; Deadline for filing claim bills — 44; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 44; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 45; Start of the U.S. Open — 70; Primary Election Day — 71; College Football opening weekend — 73; NFL season starts — 81; Future of Florida Forum — 100; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 127; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 128; General Election Day — 141; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 241; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 260.


In some ways, qualifying for the November elections is only a formality.

Candidates have been raising money for months, appearing at campaign events and eyeing their opponents. But with the qualifying period starting Monday in hundreds of state and local races, some candidates could be in the express lane toward election.

As of Friday morning, three incumbent state senators — Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and Sens. Lauren Book and Gary Farmer — had not drawn opponents as of Friday morning.

Lauren Book is among those unopposed candidates (so far) seeking re-election.

Meanwhile, 21 House candidates, including two newcomers, also could be headed toward election without opposition. They are state Reps. Jayer WilliamsonMel PonderBrad Drake of Eucheeanna; Halsey Beshears of Monticello; Ramon Alexander of Tallahassee; Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee; Kimberly Daniels of Jacksonville; Stan McClain of Ocala; John Cortes of Kissimmee; Kamia Brown of Ocoee; Bruce Antone of Orlando; Al Jacquet of Lantana; Emily Slosberg of Boca Raton; Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale; Evan Jenne of Dania Beach; Joe Geller of Aventura; Shevrin Jones of West Park; Barbara Watson of Miami Gardens; and Kionne McGhee of Miami.

The newcomers are Alex Andrade of Gulf Breeze; and Joe Casello of Boynton Beach.

That all could change, of course, before qualifying ends at noon Friday. Some of those legislative candidates could draw opponents at the last-minute. Meanwhile, other candidates could cruise into office — if opponents do not qualify.

But it’s safe to assume that candidates across the state will be regularly checking the state elections website to find out who qualifies — and who doesn’t.


Democratic front-runner Philip Levine’s campaign is built largely on talking points of his tenure as Mayor of Miami Beach, but a closer examination suggests his blunders at the city’s throne could undermine his accomplishments.

The Miami Herald — which has had its fair share of bouts with Levine — recently published a story on the former Mayor’s watch over Miami Beach. It’s a testament to Levine’s character; details are equal parts progressive ambition and suspicious wheeling and dealing.

A deeper dive into Philip Levine’s time as Miami Beach Mayor reveals some blunders that could undermine his accomplishments.

A reader will see that the Mayor’s politics are cutthroat — a bit of prose is even dedicated to artistically rendered severed heads of Levine’s political rivals — and will notice a pattern of Levine benefiting personally from major governing decisions.

Greener pastures: Per a former political strategist, who now is a Republican operative, “Levine openly talked during his 2013 campaign about treating his time on the third floor of City Hall as a springboard to better things, like becoming governor or president. Two other sources familiar with Levine’s aspirations confirmed this.”

Ouch: The Herald’s David Smiley and Joey Flechas note, “Two years after campaigning against cronyism and special interests, Levine would spend spring afternoons on his 70-foot boat … and at Fisher Island making phone calls to developers and city contractors for campaign cash … into a political committee called Relentless for Progress, whose RFP acronym was conspicuously the same as the acronym the city used for competitive contract solicitations.”

Good, bad or ugly?: Ultimately, voters’ interpretation of the Mayor will determine if he makes it to November. “Levine … will sink or swim come the Aug. 28 primary at least in part because of what Levine the mayor did over the last few years.”


Ron DeSantis setting up $12M TV buy through primary day” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The St. Johns County Republican is funding the ad campaign through both his campaign and political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis. The first ads for his campaign will start running in late June and continue through the Aug. 28 primary. When, exactly, DeSantis would go on air has been one of the pressing questions of the GOP primary. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s camp and his allies, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a dark money group tied to the state’s sugar industry, have flooded the airwaves with $11 million worth of primary ads, prompting questions about whether DeSantis’ campaign was waiting too long to get on the air. DeSantis’ first ads will start airing on broadcast TV starting June 26. His campaign and affiliated political committee currently have about $9.7 million cash on hand, but the ad buy represents future airtime reservations, which means the money to fund them can be paid later.

Adam Putnam shared his Florida First vision to a room packed full of energized grassroots supporters Friday evening in St. Augustine.

Gwen Graham returns to her Leon roots” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — It was a homecoming for Graham as she addressed the Capital Tiger Bay Club. The Democratic candidate for governor recalled coming to Tallahassee as “kind of a geeky 15-year-old” in 1978, when her father, Bob Graham, was inaugurated as Florida’s new governor. She had to make the transition from a Miami high school to a new school in the smaller, more Southern environs of the state capital, she said. “The people at Leon High School and the people of North Florida embraced our family … and that’s where it started for me,” Graham said.

First on #FlaPol —Jeff Greene preparing to launch Governor’s race ad blitz, with education on his mind” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Greene is getting ready to reintroduce himself to Floridians with his first round of TV commercials starting next week. And while he’s remaining coy on the content, the Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor is making it clear that public education reform is at the top of his list of issues. “It’s all well and good to say I have good ideas. You have to be able to get things done. The way I look at this election, for me, this is like an eighteen-wheeler moving down the highway, you know, pretty high-speed. It’s basically the Republican governors and the Republican-controlled Legislature that has sat in Tallahassee for a long, long, time,” Greene said in a lengthy interview with Florida Politics … “What that truck has done, is it has dismantled a lot of things I’m talking about. It has not been focused on upward mobility for people who are kind of behind the eight ball. It has not been focused on improving education or taking care of people who need help from Tallahassee,” he continued. “So, you need someone who can, No. 1, jam the brakes on that truck, turn it around and start going the other way quickly.” … “Do I want to stack up my resume alongside the resumes of Gwen Graham, Andrew GillumChris King and Philip Levine?” he said. “All day long.”

Quote from a 20-year-old King has him apologizing today” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Democratic gubernatorial candidate King is grappling with a single quote that could be read with anti-Semitic overtones, attributed to him back when he had been a 20-year-old Harvard University sophomore, bitter over losing a close and contentious 1998 campus election for Undergraduate Student Council president. “I was nailed to the cross,” King was quoted in a Newhouse News Service story published Feb. 28, 1999, in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. “And most of the editorial staff that was so hard on me, the vast majority were Jewish.” Today, King does not specifically recall making the statement quoted by the Newhouse News Service story, but he is not disputing it. He apologized for it and disavowed any anti-Semitic overtones as not of his beliefs. The comment attributed to him about the editorial staff had been a reference to the staff of the campus newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, which had editorialized against King’s candidacy, in part because he was well-known as an evangelical Christian. “This quote from when I was 20 years old is completely at odds with my beliefs. It was a hurtful and stupid comment and I apologize,” King said in a written response.

All apologies: Chris King expresses regret for comments made as a 20-year-old Harvard student.

Levine significantly expands regional staff — On the heels of recent polling giving the former Miami Beach Mayor the lead, the Levine for Governor campaign announced the expansion of its team, as well as the launch of a significant statewide field program. The new roles include Deputy Regional Area Directors Brian Bees, Palm Beach; and Miles Davis, North Florida. Campaign Coordinators include Matthew Byrd, Tampa; Madeline Streilein, Tampa; Jonathan Santiago, Central Florida; Emily Frost, West Palm Beach; Darren Steptoe, West Palm Beach; Chris Hill, Broward; Wes Crew, Broward; Carol Solano, Miami; and Chelsea Leger, Miami.

Richard Corcoran’s political committee continues spending spree in May” via Florida Politics — House Speaker Corcoran won’t be on the ballot this year, but that hasn’t stopped his political committee from spending beaucoup bucks. Topping the expenditure list was more than $50,000 in payments to public opinion research firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, which has worked with many Republican politicians including Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Watchdog PAC paid the firm $44,750 for a survey, $7,500 for research consulting and another $2,000 for research services. Tallahassee shop Rapid Loop Consulting received $46,275 for travel expenses, web design, office supplies and meeting expenses; Jacksonville-based Political Capital received $40,000 for fundraising and political consulting; and $25,000 apiece to Capital City Friends of NRA and political committee Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy. Watchdog PAC spent $341,361 in all last month, leaving it with $1.63 million banked heading into June.

Nikki Fried campaign video features marijuana grow-op, call for gun control” via Florida Politics – According to newly filed Agriculture Commissioner candidate Fried, the state is lax on gun control and too overbearing on medical marijuana. In a new campaign video, the Democrat makes her introduction to voters by setting up a dichotomy between pot and assault rifles. “One helps sick and dying Floridians and is overregulated,” Fried says of marijuana. “And the other one is used to terrorize our schools and our communities and is barely regulated at all.” Her advocacy for pot bridged into her campaign, where it will likely be a defining element. In the video, which features pan shots of a Southwest Florida marijuana grow operation, she asks, “Honestly, what type of Agriculture Commissioner could be against a plant and the farmers who grow it?” The video will air on Fried’s social media. To watch the video, click on the image below:

Ashley Moody rolls out more endorsements in Attorney General’s race — Republican Moody announced a new wave of elected officials who believe the former Hillsborough County judge is the most qualified to succeed AG Pam Bondi: State Sens. Rob Bradley of Orange Park, Kathleen Passidomo of Naples and Keith Perry of Gainesville; Speaker Pro Tempore, state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez of Miami and Rep. Lawrence McClure of Plant City; Commissioners Mike Cella of Clay County; Todd Dantzler, Polk County chair; Mike Moore and Kathryn Starkey of Pasco County; Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Ken Burke; Tax Collector Larry Hart of Lee County; Palm Shores Mayor Carol McCormack; Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters; Coral Gables Vice Mayor Frank Quesada; Ocala Councilman Justin Grabelle; and Pasco County School Board Member Allen Altman.

Happening today — Tampa Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw, a candidate for Attorney General, will speak to the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee meeting, 6 p.m., IBEW union hall, 966 Liberty St., Jacksonville.

Felons’ rights backers top $400,000 in May” via the News Service of Florida — The committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which helped lead efforts to get the initiative on the November ballot, raised $409,220 in cash last month and had nearly $453,000 in cash on hand as of May 31. Nearly half of the money in May came in a $200,000 contribution from the Washington, D.C.-based Sixteen Thirty Fund, which backs social and environmental issues. The proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by 60 percent of voters in November, would automatically restore voting rights for all nonviolent felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation and paid restitution. Felons convicted of murder and sexual offenses would not be eligible.

Personnel note: Major B. Harding joins greyhound group’s legal teamvia Florida Politics — Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Harding has joined the Florida Greyhound Association legal team. The addition of Harding, a high court appointee of the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, was announced Wednesday by association general counsel Jeff Kottkamp. Harding served on the Florida Supreme Court 1991-2002; Kottkamp was Florida’s lieutenant governor from 2007-11 under Gov. Charlie Crist. The association, which represents owners and breeders, is now fighting against Amendment 13, a proposed state constitutional change put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission. The measure aims at ending dog racing in the state. It needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. A lawsuit against the amendment was filed in Leon County.

Former Supreme Court Justice Major Harding is joining the greyhound racing legal team.

Group ramps up to elect Democrats up and down Florida ballot” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — For Our Future Florida, part of a $70 million national battleground state effort funded by a coalition of labor groups, never actually stopped working in Florida after Donald Trump won the state in 2016. Alongside other progressive groups including Indivisible, Women’s March, Mi Familia Vota, Florida Voices for Health, and Progress Florida, it has been helped put together women’s marches, phone banks, and empty chair town hall meetings spotlighting Republicans avoiding public events. “We’ve helped organize over 500 rallies, trainings and town halls and knocked on 302,714 doors since the 2016 election,” said Field Director Jenn Whitcomb. They are not doing this in a vacuum. Conservative groups such as the Libre Institute targeting Puerto Ricans have been engaging with voters for months, and the Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, have had dozens of field organizers working across Florida for months.

Democrats asked to investigate whether Alan Grayson paid protesters” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — two prominent Democratic Party women from Central Florida are asking the national party to investigate what they contend were Grayson-paid protesters at Darren Soto rallies, including one carrying a sign that called U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel “senile.” In a letter to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin and former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder said they were “astonished and horrified” to see protesters with offensive signs at a Soto rally in Orlando that featured Frankel. “The worst was directed at Rep. Frankel: ‘Lois Frankel, Still Senile’,” the women wrote. “When asked why they were there, one of the sign holders replied that they had been paid by Alan Grayson,” Chapin and Schroeder wrote.

Florida retailers back Kelli Stargel in SD 22 —— The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC is endorsing incumbent Republican Stargel in Senate District 22, which encompasses most of Polk County and south Lake County. “In her role as Senate Finance & Tax Chair this past year, Senator Stargel showed continued leadership in her support of Florida’s retailers by including in the tax package a reduction in the business rent tax and multiple sales tax holidays,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. Stargel works as the investment property manager for her family-owned small business in Lakeland. She is Chair of the Finance & Tax Committee, Vice Chair of Health and Human Services Appropriation Committee and has served as Chair of the Higher Education Committee, the Regulated Industries Committee and is the Deputy Majority Leader.

Florida retailers give the nod to Kelli Stargel’s re-election bid.

Belinda Keiser antes up another $500K out of pocket for SD 25 campaign” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — With more than $600,000 added to candidates’ coffers in May, the race for Senate District 25 just got a whole lot richer. However, a whopping $500,000 of that was in the form of a self-loan from Keiser to her campaign. That’s on top of nearly $55,000 in donations earned by Keiser in her first month as a candidate for SD 25. Keiser, who serves as vice-chancellor of Keiser University, announced her bid back in early May. For some, the move raised eyebrows, as Keiser is based in Broward County. SD 25 covers Martin and St. Lucie counties as well as a piece of Palm Beach County. Keiser has also taken heat for numerous past donations to Democrats despite her decision to run as a Republican. The influx of money into her campaign could help Keiser fight back if her opponents try to target her on those issues.

FMA blasts Kaiser in SD 25 with mailers, video — The Florida Medical Association PC ‘Better Florida Fund Corp’ announced in independent expenditure in the Senate District 25 race against Keiser. The ad seeks to paint Kaiser as a Broward County Democrat moving from Parkland to run in SD 25; gave thousands to Democrats ($141,667) and nothing to Trump. According to the ads, she also ran for office as a Democrat (Broward County state House seat in 2000). The FMA also points out that Keiser used her Keiser University address in Port St. Lucie on her filing papers as opposed to her home address in Parkland. Ad ends with “Vote No on ‘Blue Wave’ Keiser.” Keiser will likely face state Rep. Gayle Harrell in the Republican primary in SD 25, which includes Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach counties.

Hillsborough elections supervisor played favorites with Susan Valdes” via Florida Politics — Valdes is eyeing a run for the Florida House, for the seat being vacated by Janet Cruz. In preparation for a bid for House District 62, Valdes resigned her seat on the Hillsborough County School Board just before the deadline. The supervisor’s office told Tampa Bay Times reporter William March that Valdes had not resigned by the deadline. Tom Alte, a consultant working with the Michael Alvarez campaign, got the same answer at first — with the added detail that the resignation letter was rejected — before he found out supervisor’s office was taking the “unprecedented” step of reconsidering that decision. “This is something that wouldn’t be done for any other candidate,” Alte said. “It very clearly violates the statute.”

Terry Power owes alimony, records show; he says no” via Florida Politics — Power, a Republican candidate for House District 64, owes nearly $88,000 in alimony, according to court records reviewed this week. A document in the case from Pinellas County shows a “payoff amount” of $87,904. It also lists a “balance due” of only $4,668. In a statement to Florida Politics, however, Power says he doesn’t legally owe any of that money: “I am 100 percent current on all of my court-ordered alimony obligations.” Power, an Oldsmar retirement plan consultant, is challenging incumbent state Rep. Jamie Grant in the Republican primary for the seat, which covers northwest Hillsborough County and a slice of eastern Pinellas County. The area leans heavily Republican.

Chip LaMarca releases first digital ad in HD 93 race — The Lighthouse Point Republican is releasing his first digital video, “Working for You,” a 90-second spot highlighting LaMarca’s roots in House District 93 and his commitment to improving economic opportunities in Broward County. LaMarca is seeking the seat of term-limited state rep. George Moraitis, which covers eastern Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Lighthouse Point and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

To view the ad, click the image below:

‘There was no abuse’: Michael Caruso counters allegations in interview” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — House District 89 Republican candidate Caruso denied allegations of abuse and financial delinquency in a new interview exclusive to Florida Politics. Caruso sat down to share his side of the story after a piece published yesterday detailing those allegations. Many of the accusations stem from a messy divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Beverly, Caruso says. Indeed, despite the bitter back-and-forth between him and his ex-wife, Caruso says the couple eventually agreed to split custody of the kids. “If I was the bad guy that I supposedly am, do you think she’d give me custody of the kids? If I was the child abuser, or I was the violent one, or the one who was mentally disturbed?” He adds: “Would a judge allow it?”

More notes from the trail:

—“Roger Stone gets behind Scott Sturgill in CD 7 race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

—“Rebekah Bydlak has over $100K on hand for HD 1 bid” via Florida Politics

—“Lee Mangold gets AFL-CIO endorsement in HD 28 race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

—“David Simmons backs David Smith in HD 28 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Matt Matin withdraws from HD 44 race, endorses Melanie Gold” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

—“HD 114 challenger Javier Enriquez raises more than $20,000 in May” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics


Scott fires back in lawsuit over early voting on campus” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott’s administration fired back in federal court, seeking to undercut a League of Women Voters lawsuit over early voting on college campuses. The League last month sued Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, whose office in 2014 interpreted state law to exclude state university buildings from a list of sites available for early voting. Scott’s lawyers asked the federal court to step aside and let the case be decided by a state judge. “A state court, interpreting state law, can decide the case on narrow, statutory interpretation grounds and, perhaps, avoid any constitutional issues,” the state’s brief said. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee, an appointee of former President Obama, who has ruled decisively against Scott in two previous voting rights cases. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are nine students at UF and Florida State.

Ken Detzner gets sued.

State judge rules in favor of environmental groups on conservation spending” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — State Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled in favor of environmental groups in a case involving a 2014 ballot measure that set aside money for water and land conservation. During a hearing, Joseph W. Little, attorney for Florida Defenders of the Environment, told Dodson the amendment only allows for land acquisition and restoration, and for other activities only on land purchased after 2015. Dodson agreed, calling Little’s argument the “core issue” in the case. Dodson said: “When I read it in its entirety — I come to the conclusion that it clearly refers to conservation lands purchased after the effective date of the amendment.” Dodson canceled a trial in the case scheduled to start July 23. He asked attorneys for the environmental groups to prepare an order for him and said he expects it to be reviewed by the 1st District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court.

State budget glitch may doom homeless money” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The state budget set to take effect July 1 includes $4.1 million in grants for homeless organizations helping needy families. But lawmakers this year left something out of the budget — language directing the state to actually spend the money. As a result, 27 homeless agencies from the Keys to the Panhandle seem likely to be out cash, some losing as much as $350,000. It’s a large portion of what many say already is a meager amount spent on helping struggling Floridians. “This is such a small amount of money in the state budget, it’s practically a rounding error,” said Dawn Gilman, chief executive officer of Changing Homelessness, Inc., which this year received $258,500 from the state to serve Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. “But the homeless don’t get much attention from the Legislature. So, for our organizations, losing this is big, and it really hurts,” she added.

State tops 100,000 marijuana patients — but no more providers” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Florida now has topped 100,000 “active” and “qualified” patients in its medical marijuana use registry, the Department of Health announced in an email Friday. But again, according to a department official, that doesn’t mean the department will issue another four licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana, as provided under state law. The state had exceeded 100,000 overall almost two months ago — coincidentally on April 20, or 4/20 — in its medical marijuana use registry. Friday’s mark of 100,372 refers specifically to those that have an approved patient identification card application. “That figure does not completely reflect an actual threshold that would trigger the new licenses,” spokesman Devin Galleta said in a phone interview Friday.

Scoop —State investigating ‘possible’ criminal breach of driver’s license info” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Agents are “investigating possible improper use of personal identifying information” of the state’s licensed drivers put online by a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) vendor, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman confirmed … FDLE agents in Tallahassee — including the agency’s Cyber Crime Squad — were working the case, which she said falls under the “active” criminal investigation exemption to the state’s public record law. The same vendor now at issue, Unisoft Communications of Miami, had previously been flagged in 2016 — about a year before the DHSMV agreed to a new contract — for posting the personal information from two individuals’ driving records, records show.

—“State probes possible misuse of confidential driver’s license info” via Steve Bousquet and Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

They knew she was a suicide risk. Girl, 15, was still able to hang herself in the lockup.” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Florida juvenile justice administrators knew that Alleny Carbone was at risk of taking her own life: During at least a dozen stays in state custody, she had been placed on suicide alert. Yet on the night when the 15-year-old fashioned her own sports bra into a makeshift noose at the Bradenton lockup, no one was watching. Alleny’s dad, Victor Carbone, said he was told his daughter was under suicide watch at the state’s juvenile lockup. Department of Juvenile Justice administrators said that Alleny “was not currently under suicide precautions.” Either way, it appears Alleny, who was in foster care, succumbed to her demons — the culmination of a years-long battle with depression. By the time authorities discovered her body, in a sitting position, she was unresponsive. Alleny, who is from Bartow in Polk County, becomes the 13th youth to die in DJJ custody under questionable circumstances since 2000.

Hospitals worry about ‘confusing picture’ on health website” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Consumers won’t be able to find price information on 71 hospitals for a variety of health care services if the state Agency for Health Care Administration sticks with a plan to make facility-specific information available to consumers before industry giant Florida Blue and other insurance carriers begin submitting paid claims data to the state. That’s troublesome to Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben, who worries that an early release of the facility-specific information on the FloridaHealthPriceFinder website will confuse, not enlighten, consumers. The 71 hospitals are in 48 counties scattered across the state, including heavily populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and rural counties across the Panhandle, according to the hospital association. For example, Leon County has two hospitals — Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Capital Regional Medical Center — but without the claims data from Florida Blue and other carriers, people can’t compare prices for services at the facilities.

Cooling towers imploded at Florida power plant” via The Associated Press — The identical, 462-foot towers were imploded at St. Johns River Power Park in Jacksonville … Jacksonville Electric Authority and Florida Power & Light contracted Total Wrecking & Environmental to handle the implosion of the cooling towers and demolition of the power park for $14.5 million. The project is expected to be completed in April 2020. They were the second tallest cooling towers to be imploded in the world, Total Wrecking & Environmental said. Preparation took about 10 weeks for the implosion. It was over in just more than 10 seconds. More than 1,500 pounds of dynamite and 12,000 linear feet of detonation were used.

Adam Corey gave Edison discount to Mayor’s Office, too; city attorney says it benefited public” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Corey, who’s mixed up in the FBI’s public corruption investigation, instructed colleagues at The Edison restaurant to give a catering discount to Mayor Gillum’s Family First Week programs in 2016. But there was nothing improper about the discount, the Mayor’s Office said, noting that it benefited the public rather than the mayor himself. And while the Mayor’s Office spent nearly $7,000 on the catering, it was later fully reimbursed by Whole Child Leon, which acted as fiscal agent for the initiative. Corey discussed the discount in a text message May 20, 2016, to John Minas, then chef of the restaurant, and Sam McKay, then general manager. The text also mentions Eddie Kring, who served as The Edison’s catering director. “What is the actual cost for the upcoming breakfast events we are doing for the Mayor’s summit for children?” Corey asked. “I need to give them a discount. Let me know ASAP. Sam and Minas, work with Eddie on this and let me know. Thanks.”


Irma produced a litigation wave at Citizens Insurance, committee told” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Hurricane Irma-related lawsuits surged at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. early this year, representing a nearly 50 percent increase in the company’s litigation load compared to the same period in 2017. More than 90 percent of those lawsuits originated in South Florida. The state’s insurer of last resort fielded 4,287 legal claims in January through April, the vast majority involving residential policies. Irma claims represented 60 percent of that litigation, according to a report delivered to Citizens’ claims committee during a telephone conference call Wednesday. In nearly half of the lawsuits, policyholders hadn’t disputed Citizens’ adjustment decisions before filing, even though the company encourages them to update claims based on emerging information about the scope of their damage. “These insured are just giving over the option and opportunity to further adjust the claim with us and just going straight to sue,” Elaina Paskalakis, Citizens’ vice president for claim litigation, told the committee.

Citrus growers end worst season in decades” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The latest forecast numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show no change in the past month for orange production, which is off 34.7 percent from the earlier growing season. Meanwhile, grapefruit production has fallen another 1.8 percent from a May forecast, coming in at half of what was picked in the prior growing season and at its lowest level in nearly a century. “This brings a very difficult citrus season to a close,” Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to a quiet, resilient season in the fall.”

Florida’s spiny lobster harvest stunted by the 2017 hurricane season” via Dayna Harpster of National Fishermen — Immediately after Hurricane Irma blew through south Florida in early September 2017, about 154,000 of the 350,000 lobster traps deployed annually in the waters around the Florida Keys were severely displaced or lost. About 60,000 were recovered by early May. Landings data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows nearly 3.3 million pounds harvested between the season’s start Aug. 6, 2017, and its conclusion March 31, 2018. The previous year’s total was about 5.4 million pounds, and it was thought to be a fairly slow year, as well. This year, the average price per pound was $9.30, with August averaging the lowest price at $6.72 and February the highest at $11.66. “Dock prices started out on the slow side,” Islamorada lobsterman Gary Nichols agreed, but then rallied. February’s high reflects so many being exported to China for the Chinese New Year, he said.


Trump’s move to redefine water rule threatens wetlands banks” via Jason Dearen of The Associated Press — A private firm is making big money selling promises about some gator-infested Florida swampland. The Panther Island Mitigation Bank is part of a federal system designed to restore wetlands across the United States. Banks like this sell “wetlands mitigation credits” to developers for up to $300,000 apiece, offsetting the destruction of marshes by construction projects elsewhere. It’s a billion-dollar industry that has slowed the loss of U.S. wetlands, half of which are already gone. This uniquely American mix of conservation and capitalism has been supported by every president since George H.W. Bush pledged a goal of “no net loss” of wetlands, growing a market for mitigation credits from about 40 banks in the early 1990s to nearly 1,500 today. Now the market is at risk. Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency has completed a proposal for implementing Trump’s executive order to replace the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS, with a much more limited definition of what constitutes a protected federal waterway. “It would destroy wetland mitigation banking at the federal level,” said Royal Gardner, a professor at Florida’s Stetson University College of Law.

Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign” via Manuel Roig-Franzia and Ros Helderman of The Washington Post — One day in late May 2016, Stone met a man with a man who called himself Henry Greenberg, who offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton … Greenberg wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said. “You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer. “He doesn’t pay for anything.” Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who’d arranged the meeting … “How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo wrote according to a text message. Noting that Greenberg wanted ‘big’ money, Stone replied: “waste of time.” Two years later, the brief sit-down in Florida has resurfaced as part of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s sprawling investigation … Stone and Caputo now say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump. They cite records showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant. … Greenberg denied that he had acted on the FBI’s behalf when he met with Stone.

Roger Stone met with a Russian who wanted $2M for Hillary Clinton dirt.

Assignment editors — Tampa Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Former State Sen. Arthenia JoynerOlivia Babis, and local activist Karen Clay hold a news conference to call out Gov. Scott’s poor record on health care issues and his refusal to stand up to the Trump administration’s attacks on pre-existing conditions, 1 p.m., 344 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa.

Ballard Partners signs Sentry data systems and ARTOC auto” via Florida Politics — Sentry Data Systems bills itself as a “pioneer in automated pharmacy procurement, utilization management and 340B compliance.” … the company develops data analytics software for the health care industry that helps providers order prescription drugs and comply with medication pricing rules. Founded in 2003, the South Florida-based company has built a client base of more than 11,000 hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. Ballard’s other new client, ARTOC, was for a time Egypt’s sole importer of cars manufactured by Czech Republic-based Škoda Auto. While most Americans would struggle to pick the 121-year-old automaker’s badge out of a lineup, they’re likely familiar with its parent company, Volkswagen Group.


Fathers deserve more than stuff for Father’s Day. They deserve respect” via Marco Rubio for The Federalist — Like so many other things in our culture today, the commercialization of this holiday obscures its true meaning. Father’s Day is about so much more than store sales and cheesy coffee mugs. It is, to borrow the words a resolution President Calvin Coolidge once signed on its celebration, a day “to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations,” and remind ourselves of the importance of fatherhood to our country. It is something that, unfortunately in today’s culture, needs to be repeated often and with clarity: fathers matter. Their responsibilities in families and society are all essential to the strength of our country. Fathers and mothers serve equally important, but distinct, functions in raising children. Fathers play the indispensable role in protecting their families from harm, encouraging children to overcome challenges, disciplining children with authority, and teaching boys how to become responsible men by modeling responsibility themselves. This should not be controversial. In fact, it is an area of bipartisan agreement.


Appointed — Gary Cooney to the Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court; Matthew Caldwell to the Broward College District Board of Trustees.

Dream realized: Jonathan Kilman opens his own influence firm” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Veteran lobbyist Kilman has finally realized a “long-term dream of starting (his) own firm” with the creation of Converge Government Affairs, with offices in Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee. Kilman, formerly with the Foley & Lardner law firm, announced the new concern last week in a LinkedIn post … Kilman is keeping his inaugural client list close to the vest, but a look at his past lobbying disclosures shows companies such as video game maker Electronic Arts, ride-hailing platform Lyft, and autonomous-truck developer Starsky Robotics. “I think it’s fair to say that you’ll see many of the clients that we represented in the past will continue to be our clients in the new firm,” he said.

Jonathan Kilman steps out with his own firm.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Travis Blanton, Jon JohnsonDarrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Consortium of Florida Education Foundations

Kevin Marino Cabrera, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Marisa Carrozzo, Amber Crooks, Nicole Johnson: The Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Agustin Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: JP Communications

Nicole Graganella, Trevor Mask, Peter Murray, Katherine Webb, Colodny Fass: FedNat Insurance Company

Brian Jogerst, BH & Associates: Health Diagnostic Management

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: IMCS Group

Adam McGill Ross, 6th Judicial Circuit State Attorney

— ALOE —

Universal’s new ‘Cinematic Celebration’ nighttime show to debut this summer” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — “Universal’s Cinematic Celebration” — ditching the “Epic Cinema Under the Stars” tag — and will include heavy use of water fountains and effects being constructed on a large platform in the park’s lagoon. “The show combines an all-new storyline with full panoramic water screens accented by additional multilayered water screens, pyrotechnics and — for the first time — more than 120 dancing fountains and projection mapping to transform the entire waterfront and surrounding buildings into a vivid celebration of epic movie moments and beloved characters,” Universal said in a news release. Projection mapping, which has become a mainstay of nighttime shows in other Orlando parks, hadn’t been mentioned in the earlier post. It would set the show apart from other shows based around water screens like Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure. The latter has several elements in common with Universal’s new show, though Disney has boasted it has nearly 1,200 fountains, 10 times what Universal is promising.

Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration is coming this summer.

Avenue Eat & Drink joins growing list of shuttered Tallahassee restaurants” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Elected officials aren’t the only ones subject to brief stints in the capital city. Avenue Eat & Drink, a popular downtown eatery on East Park Avenue just blocks from the Capitol, has indefinitely shut down, according to owner and operator Chris Clark. Clark said the location “hopefully” could be up and running again soon — perhaps under the same name — but financial woes forced Clark to file bankruptcy on what’s evolved into one of a few staple eateries for anyone looking to grab a bite downtown. Avenue and Clark in late May were sued for defaulting on a cash advance, according to court records. That resulted in Clark, a veteran of the service industry and longtime Tallahassee restaurateur, bankrupting the business, although he told Florida Politics he has faith in its redemption.

The Southern is dead. Long live Pizza Deck!” via Florida Politics — Friday night The Southern Pub and Fat Noodle closed in downtown Tallahassee … like all great things that manifest in a majestic unending cycle of death and rebirth, the owners of a new restaurant will be sweeping out the last of the Southern dust bunnies and rapidly gear up to roll out the Pizza Deck … a collaboration between the owners of Metro Deli, a popular Monroe Street restaurant that seems to have learned how to survive in the Darwinian food scene of the capital, and the wildly popular Pizza Bruno from Orlando. To bring the culinary magic Pizza Bruno relies on a special gas-fired, wood-burning oven custom-made from a shop next to the Ferrari factory in Italy. This bit of Old World kit will be shipped to New York, with fabricators trained in the ancient art of pizza oven assembly actually bringing it to Tallahassee for installation in the former Southern space. Hopefully, Pizza Deck can become a place for some fun Italian comfort food and cold craft brews by the time committee weeks start in the fall.

What we talk about when we talk about Anthony Bourdain” via Mark Hinson of the Tallahassee Democrat — The real reason food writer and TV personality Bourdain came to Florida State University in February 2011 was that he was invited by the Creative Writing Program. Poet Erin Berliu drafted the letter. Opening Nights then-director Steve MacQueen sent it. Bourdain jumped at the chance. That easy. He spent the morning talking to members of the Dedman School of Hospitality. That night he lectured a sold-out house at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, even though he ragged on Southern matriarch Paula Deen most of the time. After that was over, he signed every book and posed for every photo during a reception at the College of Music. “We are really working you hard,” MacQueen said to Bourdain at one point. “You tell me when you don’t want to do something.” “Man, I’m not on my feet for 12 hours in a hot kitchen,” Bourdain said. “This is a piece of cake. This is a pleasure.” And he meant it. His fave novel was Walter V. Higgins’ taut, crime drama “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” what does a novel about a middle-aged, low-level gunrunner in a cruddy part of Boston have to do with writing about food? Everything. “From the opening paragraph, it tells you everything about the book ahead,” Bourdain said, and I paraphrase. “Nothing is wasted. I used it as my template when I sat down to write. I threw away everything that was not necessary.”

Happy birthday

Celebrating during our extended absence was state Sen. David Simmons (Wednesday).

The Southern is dead. Long live Pizza Deck!

Last night, The Southern Pub and Fat Noodle closed in downtown Tallahassee, a couple of conjoined eateries falling victim to, well … you can read their Yelp reviews.

(Note to restaurateurs: If you have food listed on the menu, it pays to actually keep that food in inventory.)

But, like all great things that manifest in a majestic unending cycle of death and rebirth, the owners of a new restaurant will be sweeping out the last of the Southern dust bunnies today and rapidly gearing up to roll out (drum roll, please) the Pizza Deck — just in time for the FSU football season.

The Pizza Deck is a collaboration between the owners of Metro Deli, a popular Monroe Street restaurant that seems to have learned how to survive in the Darwinian food scene of the capital, and the wildly popular Pizza Bruno from Orlando.

Pizza Bruno, located in a nondescript strip center 15 miles from the Orlando airport, has nevertheless found a cult following because, as one avid reviewer says: “Amazing garlic knots, amazing octopus, amazing pizza, amazing cannoli, and amazing service; I recommend them all.”

To bring the culinary magic Pizza Bruno relies on a special gas-fired, wood-burning oven custom made from a shop next to the Ferrari factory in Italy.

This bit of Old World kit will be shipped to New York, with fabricators trained in the ancient art of pizza oven assembly actually bringing it to Tallahassee for installation in the former Southern space.

Hopefully, Pizza Deck can become a place for some fun Italian comfort food and cold craft brews by the time committee weeks start in the fall.

Margaret Good, Michael Greico, Tom Leek top House money chase in May

Top fundraisers in May for state House campaigns were a combination of newcomers and incumbent lawmakers, according to newly filed finance reports.

Democrat Michael Grieco, who is seeking to replace outgoing Rep. David Richardson, in Miami-Dade County’s House District 113, raised $67,805 for his campaign account after getting into the race in early May.

Rep. Tom Leek had the next-highest haul as he seeks re-election in Volusia County’s House District 25. Leek collected $62,325 for his campaign account in May, bringing the overall total to $149,464, the reports show.

Similarly, Rep. Margaret Good raised $54,977 for her re-election bid in Sarasota County’s House District 72, bringing the overall total to $137,688.

In South Florida, Miami Republican Jose Ramon Fernandez raised $50,300 for his campaign for an open seat in Miami-Dade County’s House District 115. That brought Fernandez’s overall contribution total to $105,900.

In another race for an open seat, North Fort Myers Republican Spencer Roach raised $41,762, bringing the overall total to $115,302 for his campaign in Lee County’s House District 79.

Also topping $40,000 last month was Rep. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican running in Pasco County’s House District 38. Burgess raised $41,560, bringing his overall total to $160,751, the reports show. The totals only reflect amounts raised for campaign accounts and do not include money raised for political committees or money loaned to campaigns.

Last Call for 6.14.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

A Tallahassee judge will preside over a two-hour pretrial conference tomorrow in a three-year-old lawsuit over how the state funds environmental conservation.

Among other things, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson will hear a motion for “partial summary judgment,” court dockets show. Summary judgments allow parties to win a case without a trial. Partial summary judgments resolve one or more issues, but not the whole case.

The motion was filed by David Guest, attorney for the Sierra Club, Florida Wildlife Federation and other plaintiffs fighting over 2014’s Water and Land Legacy Amendment, also known as Amendment 1.

Passed by nearly 75 percent of voters, it mandates state spending for land and water conservation.

But environmental advocacy groups filed suit in Leon County in 2015. The plaintiffs say lawmakers wrongly appropriated money for, among other things, “salaries and ordinary expenses of state agencies” tasked with executing the amendment’s mandate.

For example, Guest’s motion says “the primary function of the (Florida Forest Service) is to fight and prevent fires on private lands and to promote forestry and prescribed burning on private lands.

The Legislature, however, appropriated $57.6 million of funds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the FFS for salaries, expenses and operating costs,” three times as much as what it reported in expenditures.

Dodson previously set a weeklong bench trial in Tallahassee for July 23-27, records show.

Evening Reads

Two Miami Republicans play key role in immigration compromise” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

Donald Trump voters in this Florida bellwether say don’t bet on ‘blue wave’” via Adam C. Smith and Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times

‘Who is Bill Nelson?’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Rick Scott cuts the first World Cup-themed political ad of 2018” via David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner

What is Rick Scott and Cabinet’s approach to questions at Department of Revenue? Not my problem” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

As Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis both seek grassroots image, DeSantis finds support out of state” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

Quote from a 20-year-old Chris King has him apologizing today” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

‘I don’t believe in polls,’ says Gwen Graham” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Democrats asked to investigate whether Alan Grayson paid protesters” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

Roger Stone gets behind Scott Sturgill in CD 7 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“I believe that if you have a pre-existing condition, you need to still be able to get health care. So it’s very important to me. I believe everybody ought to be able to get health care insurance.” — Gov. Rick Scott — a former health care executive and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate — on a legal challenge against the Affordable Care Act by 20 Republican-led states, including Florida.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation Board of Directors will meet at 8:30 a.m., Tallahassee City Hall, 300 South Adams St., Tallahassee.

CareerSource Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, homebuilders and Uber will combine to hold job fairs throughout the state for careers in the manufacturing and construction industries: 9 a.m., CareerSource North Florida office, 705 East Base St., Madison; 10 a.m., CareerSource Flagler Volusia, Market Plaza, 846 Saxon Blvd., Orange City; 10 a.m., CareerSource Central Florida, 1392 East Vine St., Kissimmee.

West Palm Beach attorney Michelle Suskauer will be sworn in as president of The Florida Bar during the Bar convention in Orlando. Vero Beach attorney John Stewart will be sworn in as president-elect. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is scheduled to release May unemployment figures at 10 a.m.

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether the state has properly carried out a 2014 constitutional amendment that required setting aside money for land and water conservation. That’s at 11 a.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is slated to speak to the Capital Tiger Bay Club. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.

The First Coast Tiger Bay Club will hold a forum for Democratic candidates for governor. That’s at 11:30 a.m., The River Club, 1 Independent Dr., Jacksonville.

Candidates in Congressional District 15 are expected to take part in a Tampa Tiger Bay Club luncheon. The seat became open when U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross decided against running for another term. That’s at 11:45 a.m., Chester Ferguson Law Center, 1610 North Tampa St., Tampa.

Looking Ahead

Gov. Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for governor, are expected to take part in the Clay County Republican Party’s Flag Day Dinner. That’s Saturday, 6 p.m., Clay County Fairgrounds, 2497 State Road 16 West, Green Cove Springs.

Terry Power owes alimony, records show; he says no

Terry Power, a Republican candidate for House District 64, owes nearly $88,000 in alimony, according to court records reviewed this week.

A document in the case from Pinellas County shows a “payoff amount” of $87,904. It also lists a “balance due” of only $4,668.

In a statement to Florida Politics, however, Power says he doesn’t legally owe any of that money: “I am 100 percent current on all of my court-ordered alimony obligations.”

Power, an Oldsmar retirement plan consultant, is challenging incumbent state Rep. Jamie Grant in the Republican primary for the seat, which covers northwest Hillsborough County and a slice of eastern Pinellas County. The area leans heavily Republican.

Further, Power says his ex-wife reopened their 10-year-old divorce case: “I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that I’m a candidate for the Florida House.”

But campaign records also show he put $79,000 of his own money into his campaign, leading his critics to privately question whether he is trying to “manipulate the system.”

Power denies that as well: “I am in full compliance with all State of Florida election laws. Any representation to the contrary is libelous and will be dealt with in the proper venue.”

He went on: “There was an alimony arrearage calculated by the court in my final divorce order (from 2012). I am not under any sort of obligation or court order to pay any of that outstanding amount at this time.”

Power also sent Florida Politics a copy of a 2013 court order “denying my ex-wife from forcing me to pay anything other than the $1,500 a month that I’ve paid since 2013.”

“I do not have an obligation to pay the ‘arrearage’ in my divorce,” he said. “If she wants to file a motion to revisit that, it’s certainly her prerogative,” which explains “writs of garnishment” against him filed this month.

“The Court denied her request in 2013,” he said. “But I’m 100 percent current in what the court has ordered me to pay.

“… The Tallahassee Swamp must be getting desperate,” Power also said. “Is this really all they’ve got?”

The primary is Aug. 28; the general election is Nov. 6.

Sixth annual list of Tampa Bay’s 25 Most Powerful Politicians

There certainly has been a great deal of change since we published last year’s annual list of the Most Powerful Politicians in Tampa Bay.

First of all, the website we published it to — — is shuttered after the decision was made to focus all of our reporting energies into

Second, and more important as it relates to this list, last year’s #1, former state Sen. Jack Latvala, is nowhere to be found on this list after he resigned in scandal in late 2017.

With the top spot being vacated that obviously means there will be a new #1, but it also likely means there is additional volatility up and down on the list. Who stepped up to fill the vacuum created by Latvala’s exit?

In compiling the 2018 list, Florida Politics queried several of the region’s leading political consultants, activists, bloggers, operatives and local lobbyists to name who they consider the 25 most powerful pols in the area. No suggested names were provided.

For this exercise, the Tampa Bay region is defined as Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco, but can also include Hernando, Polk or Sarasota, particularly if politicians from those counties impact either Pinellas or Hillsborough.

Among those on the 2017 panel: Democratic consultant Tom Alte and Meagan Salisbury of Blue Ticket Consulting, Laura Boehmer of Southern Strategy Group — Tampa Bay, Tucker/Hall president Bill Carlson, Ana Cruz of Ballard Partners, investigative journalist Mike Deeson, political consultant Barry EdwardsMatt Florell of St. Pete Polls, former Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mike Griffin, Tampa Bay politico Carrie Henriquez, columnist Joe Henderson, Democratic activist Shannon Love, political strategist Jennifer Lux, Momentum Strategy Group president Brock Mikosky, former state Rep. Edwin Narain, former state Rep. Seth McKeel of Southern Strategy Group — Tampa Bay, Dr. Darryl Paulson, professor emeritus at USF, Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo of Strategic Image Management, Tom Scherberger of the Hillsborough County Clerk’s Office, Chris Spencer of GrayRobinson, Alan Suskey of Suskey Consulting, J.D. White of Mercury Public Affairs, and public affairs consultant Michelle Schorsch.

Being listed first on a panelist’s list earned 25 points, second earned 24 points and so on. Listing as 25th received one point. Points were then added up and — voilà — the list was created.

In the top four or five slots might be who you’d expect. But once you pass that, the list starts to get truly fascinating.

And a few names not included could indeed be a surprise.

With that introduction, we ask you to please stay tuned to Florida Politics throughout the week as we count down the 25 most influential political figures in Tampa Bay. Follow the list on Twitter with #Top25InTB.

P.S. Thank you to Kate Bradshaw, formerly of the Tampa Tribune and Creative Loafing, for writing the profiles about each politician on the list. And a special thanks to Southern Strategy Group — Tampa Bay, which sponsored this year’s rankings. With their deep involvement in the Tampa Bay community, no wonder it’s signing high-profile clients like the remade ZooTampa.

#1 — Chris Sprowls

#2 — Bob Buckhorn

#3 — Bill Galvano 

#4 — Rick Kriseman

#5 — Wilton Simpson 

#6 — Kathy Castor

#7 — Richard Corcoran

#8 — Jeff Brandes

#9 — Ken Hagan

#10 — Darryl Rouson

#11 — Ken Welch

#12 — Janet Cruz

#13 — Sandra Murman

#14 — Tom Lee

#15 — Gus Bilirakis

#16 — Charlie Crist

#17 — Dana Young

#18 — Bob Gualtieri 



#19 — Janet Long

#20 — Vern Buchanan 

#21 — Andrew Warren

#22 — Darden Rice

#23 — Chad Chronister

#24 — Chris Latvala 

#25 — Les Miller (tie)

#25 — Ben Diamond (tie)

Last Call for 6.13.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

First, a program note: SUNBURN will take another day off tomorrow while Peter Schorsch is on vacation. The state’s premier political morning newsletter will return soon.

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga will give the annual “State of the Judiciary” address tomorrow during The Florida Bar convention in Orlando.

That’s slated for 12:15 p.m., at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane in Orlando.

What Labarga will say is, as always, a closely held secret.

He’s set to depart the chief’s role July 1 when Justice Charles Canady takes over the reins. Canady was previously chief justice 2010-12. The two-year position rotates, although Labarga served two consecutive terms.

“He is still working on his remarks,” spokesman Craig Waters said earlier this week, who added that Labarga usually rewrites his speeches up to the last minute.

Waters did say Labarga’s remarks “will be brief and mainly will highlight the work of the three retiring Justices.”

Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy A. Quince all face mandatory retirement on the same day — Jan. 8, 2019. Altogether, they’ve served roughly 64 years on the state’s highest court.

We’re willing to bet, however, Labarga won’t be mentioning the legal controversy over replacing those three justices.

The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause sued last year, saying term-limited Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t have authority to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term, which coincides with their retirement date.

Scott can’t replace the outgoing justices — perceived as the court’s liberal-leaning trio — because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day all three retire, and their terms last till midnight, the organizations argued.

In December, the court itself dismissed the challenge, saying the issue wasn’t ready for judicial review.

Evening Reads

Marco Rubio: Donald Trump ‘is optimistic and needs to be’ but rest of us should be skeptical of North Korea” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

New Rick Scott ad compares Bill Nelson to Ford Pinto” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Rick Scott talks pot, Donald Trump” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Jeff Greene says he’ll play kingmaker if he wins Democratic nomination for governor” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

Ron DeSantis setting up $12M TV buy through primary day” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Adam Putnam declares opposition to fracking in Florida” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Adam Putnam sidesteps timing question about background check investigation” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

Ethics investigation touches on elected officials’ connections to lobbyist Adam Corey” via the Tallahassee Democrat

Citizens rolls out new lobbying disclosure requirements” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Florida medical marijuana judge has history of being in spotlight” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Quote of the Day

“It was the dumbest thing in the world. It was a thing that happens to anybody with a computer: She emailed I.T. and said, ‘my password isn’t working.’ They emailed her back with instructions on how to fix the problem. By her own admission, she dropped the ball.” — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, answering a reporter’s question on why an ex-employee failed to perform background checks on hundreds of concealed carry permits.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

Cris Dosev, a Republican candidate in Northwest Florida’s Congressional District 1, will gather with veterans to mark Flag Day. That’s at 8 a.m., Crackings, 979 Highway 98 East, Destin.

The state Department of Environmental Protection will host a forum in Northwest Florida about the redevelopment of brownfields. That’s at 9 a.m. Central time, Jackson County Agriculture Conference Center, 2741 Pennsylvania Ave., Marianna.

CareerSource Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, homebuilders and Uber will combine to hold job fairs throughout the state for careers in the manufacturing and construction industries:

—9 a.m., CareerSource Pasco Hernando, 4440 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey.

—9 a.m., CareerSource Southwest Florida, Fort Myers Center, 4150 Ford St. Extension, Fort Myers.

—9 a.m., CareerSource Research Coast Career Center, 2102 Avenue Q, Fort Pierce.

—9 a.m., CareerSource Research Coast Career Center, 710 S.E. Central Parkway, Stuart.

—10 a.m., St. Petersburg College, EpiCenter Campus, 13805 58th St. North, Clearwater.

—10 a.m., Florida State College at Jacksonville, Deerwood Center, 9911 Old Baymeadows Road, Jacksonville.

—4:30 p.m., College of Central Florida, 3001 S.W. College Road, Ocala.

The Consumer Services Committee of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will hold a conference call. That’s at 10 a.m. Call-in number: 1-888-361-7525. Code: 6487811621.

The Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association will meet in Escambia County. That’s at 10 a.m. Central time, Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport, 161 Airport Lane, Pensacola.

The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.

Republican candidates in Congressional District 6 are expected to take part in a Tiger Bay Club of Volusia County event. The seat became open when U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis decided to run for governor. That’s at noon, LPGA Clubhouse, 1000 Champions Dr., Daytona Beach.

Conservative columnist and author Jonah Goldberg will speak to the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club. That’s at noon, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

The Florida Department of Children and Families will help host a regional meeting in Northwest Florida that is part of an effort to better coordinate behavioral-health services. The meeting is an outgrowth of an executive order signed by Gov. Rick Scott that called for better collaboration with law-enforcement agencies. That’s at 1 p.m., Brent Center Conference Room, 33 Brent Lane, Pensacola.

Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is slated to speak during a meeting of the Republican Party of Sarasota County Executive Committee. That’s at 7 p.m., Carlisle Inn, 3727 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota.

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