Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, 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.
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.
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 — SaintPetersBlog.com — is shuttered after the decision was made to focus all of our reporting energies into FloridaPolitics.com.
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 Edwards, Matt 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.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
First, a program note: SUNBURN will take another day off tomorrow while PeterSchorsch is on vacation. The state’s premier political morning newsletter will return soon.
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice JorgeLabarga 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 CharlesCanady 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 CraigWaters 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.”
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 issuewasn’t readyfor judicial review.
“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 AdamPutnam, answering a reporter’s question on why an ex-employee failed to perform background checks on hundreds of concealed carry permits.
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CrisDosev, 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. RonDeSantis decided to run for governor. That’s at noon, LPGA Clubhouse, 1000 Champions Dr., Daytona Beach.
Conservative columnist and author JonahGoldberg 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. RickScott 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. VernBuchanan 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.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
At least three lawmakers from Florida have confirmed their attendance at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States’ (NCLGS) summer meeting next month in Cleveland.
Sen. PerryThurston Jr., a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, and Reps. JoeGeller, an Aventura Democrat, and HalseyBeshears, a Monticello Republican, have said they will be there, organizers said.
Thurston currently sits on the Regulated Industries Committee, which handles gambling issues. Geller is Democratic Ranking Member of the House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee. That’s under the chamber’s Commerce Committee, of which Beshears is a member.
So far not attending is incoming Senate President BillGalvano, a Bradenton Republican, immediate past president of the NCLGS, and the Legislature’s point man on gaming.
In an email this week, the NCLGS said “nearly three dozen legislators from a record 20 states are confirmed to attend” the conference, July 13-15 at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown.
The meeting agenda includes six legislative sessions on “Casinos, Emerging Forms of Gaming, Lotteries, Pari-Mutuels, Responsible Gaming, and State-Federal Relations;” two “master classes” presented by the International Masters of Gaming Law, and a special general session panel “examining the economic impacts of gaming.”
The NCLGS (pronounced “nickel jeez” by those in the know) is organized by Spectrum Gaming Group, the New Jersey-based consulting firm hired by the Florida Legislature in 2013 to review and analyze the state’s gambling landscape.
“It’s such a beautiful thing to know that your loved ones will never be forgotten, not here in Orlando, not in Florida, not in the United States, not just in Puerto Rico, everywhere, all over the world.” — Robin Maynard-Harris of the onePulse Foundation, in remembrance of the 49 people murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando two years ago.
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The Florida Bar will kickoff a three-day convention in which West Palm Beach attorney MichelleSuskauer will be sworn in as the group’s president and Vero Beach attorney JohnStewart will become the president-elect. That’s at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando.
The Florida Chamber Foundation will continue its annual “Learners to Earners Workforce Summit.” That’s at 8:30 a.m., Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa.
Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet will meet and discuss numerous issues, including a proposal by Chief Financial Officer JimmyPatronis for lobbyist-disclosure requirements at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Also, Florida public power lineworkers will be recognized for their service and performance in state and national competitions that showcase their skills and craft. A resolution honoring them will be presented by Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.
The Florida Commission on Offender Review will consider a series of parole cases from across the state. That’s at 9 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
The Board of Directors of the Florida Citrus Research and Development Foundation will meet following a meeting of its Box Tax Advisory Committee to discuss the assessment rate for the 2018-2019 growing season. That’s at 9:30 a.m. Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort, 5001 Coconut Road, Bonita Springs.
The Claims Committee of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will hold a conference call. It will receive updates on litigated claims and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. That’s at 10 a.m. Call-in number: 1-866-361-7525. Code: 5219676193.
RyanTorrens, a Hillsborough County Democrat running for Attorney General, is slated to speak to the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club. That’s at 11:30 a.m., City Fish Market, 7940 Glades Road, Boca Raton.
Sen. DorothyHukill, a Port Orange Republican, is expected to discuss the 2018 legislative session during a meeting of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce. That’s at noon, La Cita Golf & Country Club, 777 Country Club Dr., Titusville.
Conservative columnist and author JonahGoldberg will speak to the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida. That’s at noon, Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Dr., Orlando.
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, and Rep. CordByrd, a Neptune Beach Republican, will present a $2 million state check to the Nassau County Ocean Highway and Port Authority for improvements to the Port of Fernandina Beach. That’s at 6 p.m., Nassau County Commission chamber, 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will hold a meeting to take public comments about draft permits for the city of Clearwater to construct injection wells. That’s at 6 p.m., Clearwater Main Library, 100 North Osceola Ave., Clearwater.
MikeMcCalister, a Republican candidate for state agriculture commissioner, is slated to speak to the St. Petersburg Republican Club. That’s at 7 p.m., St. Petersburg Community Church, 4501 30th Ave. North, St. Petersburg.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Today and tomorrow, the Florida Chamber Foundation holds its annual “Learners to Earners Workforce Summit.”
The event asks the question: “Is Florida’s workforce ready?
“Talent is Florida’s best economic development tool,” an event description reads. “But how can businesses ensure Florida’s workforce is ready to meet a future need?”
“Join business leaders, industry experts, elected officials and community leaders for the 2018 Learners to Earners Workforce Summit, where you’ll be able to hear from and network with industry leaders looking for talent and those tasked with ensuring Florida’s students are ready for the future of work.”
It’s not surprising that one speaker expected during the two-day event is Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.
Others include Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam, Florida College System Chancellor MadelinePumariega and university system Chancellor Marshall Criser.
TonyCarvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation, also will share results from the “Florida 2030 Research Initiative: What We Found, What It Means, and What’s We Must Do Now.”
It all begins at 9 a.m. at Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa.
2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 2; Father’s Day — 5; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 10; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 16; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 26; MLB All-Star Game — 35; Deadline for filing claim bills — 50; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 50; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 51; Start of the U.S. Open — 76; Primary Election Day — 77; College Football opening weekend — 79; NFL season starts — 87; Future of Florida Forum — 106; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 133; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 134; General Election Day — 147; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 247; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 266.
— TOP STORY —
“’Disturbing’ state didn’t review concealed carry background checks, Rick Scott says” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott said it was “disturbing” and “concerning” that the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued concealed weapons permits to hundreds of ineligible people. “I expect everybody to be held accountable,” Scott said. … Scott said he still had not seen the results of that investigation. “People need to do their job. It’s as simple as that,” Scott said. “This is public safety.”
“Senate Democrats call for investigation into state concealed weapons permit program” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — State Senators Linda Stewart of Orlando and Kevin Rader of Delray Beach said they also want to know why Putnam did not notify the public when he first learned about it a year ago. “The recent acknowledgment by the Department of Agriculture that it had wrongly issued hundreds of concealed weapons permits to non-eligible individuals over a period of approximately one year, and subsequently failed to promptly disclose that failure for at least one year after, has deeply shaken our trust in the agency’s ability to safeguard the people of Florida,” Stewart and Rader wrote in a letter to Senate President Joe Negron. “As more details have emerged since news broke of the scandal late Friday, questions have mounted as to the degree of knowledge within the agency, namely who knew what, and when?” Stewart and Rader also raised questions about whether the security breach in agriculture department was at all related to a push by Putnam to automatically approve any concealed weapons permit if no disqualifying information on the candidate was received in 90 days.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“55 sheriffs from across Florida endorse Rick Scott for U.S. Senate” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri kicked off the endorsement at Federal Eastern International, a law enforcement supply store. Gualtieri pointed to what he said was a swift and effective response to the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as an example of Scott’s leadership. “He leads from the front … and that’s what we need in our next United States senator,” said Gualtieri, whom Scott appointed to lead a public safety commission tasked with reviewing all aspects of the shooting. “(We need) somebody that’s going to go to Washington, that’s going to break the mold, that’s not going to maintain the status quo.” About a half dozen other sheriffs joined the event, including Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis. Scott put the total endorsement at 55 sheriffs across the state. Locally, the endorsement will likely come as unwelcome news to at least some Democrats who are supporting Chronister in his race for Hillsborough sheriff.
“Democratic super PAC reserves airtime for Bill Nelson” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Nelson will get a “seven-figure” advertising boost from Senate Majority PAC, which announced it had reserved $80 million in airtime in Florida and eight other states. “Our record fundraising this cycle has allowed us to both be on-air in several states now and increase our strategic investments,” said J.B. Poersch, president of Senate Majority PAC. “We are implementing an aggressive media strategy to combat the Republicans’ baseless, partisan attacks and promote our candidates that are fighting for higher wages and lower health care premiums.” … The super PAC in May spent $2.2 million for a bio ad about Nelson, and that was followed by a $600,000 digital campaign in partnership with Priorities USA Action.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Poll: Adam Putnam beating Ron DeSantis in Governor’s race” via Florida Politics — Republican primary election polling conducted at the end of a tough week of media reports shows Putnam leading DeSantis, according to the latest Florida Chamber of Commerce statewide poll. Putnam bested DeSantis 32 to 15 in the poll, which interviewed 501 likely Republican voters by phone. It was conducted June 7-9, and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.3 percent. Key findings show Putnam winning all major media markets except the Miami media market; winning among all age groups statewide, and winning among men (17 percent) and women (18 percent) who have decided on the candidate for whom they’ll vote.
“DeSantis overplays link between the opioid crisis and southern border” via Allison Graves of the Tampa Bay Times — The statement: “The bulk of the problem with the opioid epidemic is the fentanyl and all the synthetic drugs coming across the southern border.” The ruling: This claim downplays the fact that synthetic drugs are smuggled into the country from locations outside of the southern border, especially from China. However, exact numbers to sort out how much comes from where were unavailable. Trump’s own commission seemed more concerned with China than Mexico when it comes to synthetic drugs. We rate the statement Half True.
New Putnam immigration ad features Grady Judd — Florida Grown PC, the committee supporting Putnam’s bid for Governor, released a new 30-second TV spot featuring Polk County Sheriff Judd, highlighting illegal immigration and his commitment to enforcing the law. “I’ve dedicated my entire adult life to keeping Florida families safe, and I know Adam Putnam has our back. Adam believes we have a responsibility to keep our borders, cities, and neighborhoods safe and secure,” Judd says in the spot, which will appear on cable and broadcast statewide. To view the ad, click on the image below:
“Florida Democratic Governor candidates debate guns, minimum wage, sea level rise” via Teresa Frontado and Alejandra Martinez of WLRN — Democratic candidates for Florida Governor may have differences on some issues, but in Miramar, they all agreed that the state should increase salaries for teachers, take more action on sea-level rise, support Puerto Ricans moving to the state and push for the immediate resignation of Agricultural Commissioner Putnam for his office’s failure to complete background checks for concealed gun permits. The so-called Florida Freedom Forum debate was co-moderated by WLRN’s All Things Considered and Sundial host Luis Hernandez and PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor. You can watch the full debate here.
“Graham raises more than $1M in May” via Florida Politics — The Graham team said it added more than $300,000 in contributions for the campaign and tacked on another $730,000-plus via Gwen Graham for Florida, an affiliated political committee. The seven-figure haul, her second in a row, brings the North Florida Democrat’s total fundraising to nearly $8.5 million. The campaign said it started June with more than $5.5 million of that cash in the bank. “This announcement is the icing on the cake of an extraordinary week for our campaign. We are on the air sharing our positive, progressive message, we gained national attention in Glamour magazine, we earned endorsements from Congressman Patrick Murphy and the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest union — and now we’re announcing another $1 million raised,” campaign manager Julia Woodward said.
Assignment editors — Graham will kick off a statewide public education tour beginning with a roundtable of public school advocates, educators and students, 2 p.m., United Way Tampa office, 5210 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 600, Tampa.
“Jimmy Patronis continues piling up cash” via the News Service of Florida — Chief Financial Officer Patronis raised nearly $500,000 last month for his campaign and political committee, as he continued building a fundraising lead over Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring. Patronis’ monthly haul was bolstered by $76,000 from the health care industry and $20,000 from two of the state’s major energy providers, TECO Energy and Florida Power & Light … The incoming cash also included $25,000 from the Coral Gables-based political action committee Diversity … the Key to the American Dream, which was established by Mike Fernandez, a major Republican donor and founder of MBF Healthcare Partners. Patronis also received $10,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund, an arm of Associated Industries of Florida that has given Patronis a total of $115,000, and $15,000 from the Florida Jobs PAC, a political wing of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has put $105,000 into the campaign. Patronis’ $463,251 in May contributions were broken into $217,601 raised for his campaign account and $245,650 for his political committee Treasure Florida.
“Poll: Attorney General GOP primary anyone’s race at this time” via Florida Politics — One thing is clear at this point in the race for Florida’s next Attorney General: While former Circuit Judge Ashley Moody is enjoying a slight lead — within the margin of error — the GOP primary is anyone’s race. In a new St. Pete Polls survey, just ahead of when candidate qualifying begins, voters remain overwhelmingly unsure in this race. When asked which candidate they would vote for, 61.1 percent are undecided, 14.9 percent would vote for Moody, 13.7 percent for state Rep. Frank White and 10.2 percent for state Rep. Jay Fant. And concerning polling with a margin of error of 3 percent, this means that before candidates begin spending money on paid advertising, Moody and White are tied, and Fant lurks just below them. White currently has a large cash advantage over Moody, but that is boosted by $2.75 million of his own money, beginning with a million-dollar television ad buy last week. He says it will continue through Election Day. Moody has establishment support as well as an enviable list of endorsements (including AG Pam Bondi‘s), but she needs just a little more traction with primary voters, at least according to polling. As for Fant, his less-than-stellar showing in the poll coupled with significantly fewer resources than either White or Moody may only serve to stoke the ever-present rumors that he may not even make it to qualifying and could pursue a graceful exit.
Moody wins latest round with $450K month — In the latest monthly campaign finance report, Moody brought in $449,073 between her official campaign and the Friends of Ashley Moody political committee. In comparison, Fant raised $1,640 in May ($1,640 from the campaign and nothing from his political committee), while White (raised $97,074.77, not counting the $1.25 million personal contributions May 29 — $66,074.77 from the campaign and $31,000 from his political committee).
Moody ‘special announcement’ with Polk County Sheriff — Moody will hold a news conference for a “special announcement” with Polk County Sheriff Judd starting 8:30 a.m., Polk County History Center/1926 Courtroom, 100 E. Main St., Bartow.
“Water policy key for next Agriculture Commissioner” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Maintaining Florida’s water supply, while balancing the growing needs of residents, farmers, tourists and businesses, is a priority for the candidates seeking to replace Florida Agriculture CommissionerPutnam. The issue involves helping preserve diverse ecosystems, such as the Everglades and natural springs, without scuttling the economy. Republican candidate Matt Caldwell pointed to a need for a partnership between water management districts and local governments “to construct and operate regional water supply facilities, including reservoirs, desalination and reuse facilities.” Another GOP candidate, state Sen. Denise Grimsley of Sebring, echoes many other Florida Republicans in favoring the state, rather than the federal government, determining water-resource allocations. Republican candidate Baxter Troutman, a former state House member from Winter Haven, talked of a need to balance water usage and conservation, from “incorporating water usage when planning for future development” to using “reclaimed water for residential irrigation.” Mike McCalister expressed a need to get government agencies involved with water policy linked in the same system. Both he and fellow Democratic candidate David Walker, a biological scientist from Fort Lauderdale, talked of a need for more conservation, with the emphasis on educating Floridians.
Happening today — McCalister is slated to speak during an event held by Trump Team 2020 Florida, 5:30 p.m., Abacoa Golf Club, 105 Barbados Dr., Jupiter.
“Alan Grayson launches new TV ad in CD 9 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new 30-second spot starts with a quick visit to Grayson’s roots, as he talks about “growing up in the tenements in the Bronx, surrounded by people who are different from me, and each other.” … “I’m proud to be one of the leading champions for equality of all kinds: social, political, economic and personal. This ad explains why,” Grayson said in a statement released by his campaign. The ad is Grayson’s second TV commercial, following “Progressive Warrior,” which kicked off his campaign last month. To view the ad, click the image below:
Former Polk County Sheriff endorses Neil Combee in CD 15 — Former Polk County Sheriff Lawrence Crow announced his endorsement of Combee of Florida’s 15th Congressional District. “I’ve known and worked with the Combee family for decades having served with Neil’s father in the Lakeland Police force. I can say without a doubt, Neil Combee has the honesty and integrity to represent the values of the hardworking people of this Congressional district. As a former Sheriff, I trust Neil Combee to uphold the Constitution, respect our sworn law enforcement officers and keep the United States a place where the rule of law matters.”
“Progressive PAC to spend $350,000 to take on Carlos Curbelo” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Progressive Turnout Project (PTP), a liberal political action committee, is announcing it will spend $350,000 on voter turnout to oust U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo from his congressional seat in November. “When voter turnout is high, Democrats win elections,” said the group’s executive director, Alex Morgan. “Our team will be pounding the pavement every day between now and November 6 to replace Carlos Curbelo.” Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which Curbelo represents, is seen as a pickup opportunity for Democrats in 2018. Curbelo won re-election in 2016 by a comfortable margin of nearly 12 percentage points. But with polling showing the national atmosphere tilting toward Democrats, the Cook Political Report has rated Curbelo’s seat as a toss-up. That has motivated groups such as PTP to flood the race in an effort to turn the seat blue.
“Jeff Brandes adds $187K for re-election, Carrie Pilon sputters” via Florida Politics — Brandes recorded another six-figure haul in his Senate District 24 re-election bid, while Democratic challenger Pilon saw a massive drop-off in fundraising in only her second month on the trail. The Brandes campaign celebrated raising nearly $187,000 in May, the third month in a row recording a six-figure haul. The Pilon campaign stayed quiet about their comparatively meager haul, a stark change from a month ago when the first-time candidate and her team were loud and proud about their slim April fundraising win. The trial lawyer indeed outraised Brandes by a few thousand dollars in her inaugurals, but her May reports measure in at a quarter the size of her April ones — $26,680 for her campaign and zilch for her committee, Moving Pinellas Forward. That brings Pilon to about $131,000 raised and $124,000 on hand 60 days into her campaign.
“Belinda Kaiser puts $500,000 into Senate campaign” via the News Service of Florida — Trying to capture a Treasure Coast legislative seat being vacated by Senate President Joe Negron, college executive Keiser loaned $500,000 to her campaign last month … Keiser, a Republican who is vice chancellor of Keiser University, entered the Senate District 25 race in early May after Negron announced he would vacate the seat in November when he leaves the presidency. Negron could have served in the Senate until 2020. In addition to loaning $500,000 to her campaign, Keiser also raised $54,390 from May 7 to May 31 … Keiser is expected to face Rep. Gayle Harrell in an August primary in the Senate District, which includes Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach counties.
“May biggest fundraising month yet for Gary Farmer” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democrat Gary Farmer just had his best fundraising month yet, earning more than $34,000 in contributions during May. That’s according to the latest information filed with the Florida Division of Elections. Those impressive totals leave Farmer with more than $65,000 cash on hand. The incumbent senator representing Senate District 34 is running unopposed in his re-election bid. The majority of donations to Farmer came from various law firms and attorneys throughout the state. Farmer, a longtime attorney himself, recently took a position at heavyweight law firm Morgan & Morgan.
“Jason Pizzo now with more than $100,000 cash on hand in SD 38 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jason Pizzo continues to power his primary challenge to state Sen. Daphne Campbell, as he now sits on more than $103,000 cash on hand. That’s according to new fundraising information filed with Florida’s Division of Elections. Pizzo, a former prosecutor, added more than $40,000 in May alone, though $25,000 of that came from a loan by Pizzo to his campaign. As highlighted last week by Florida Politics, Campbell is working hard to fight off Pizzo’s primary challenge. Campbell spent more money than she raised in May, taking in less than $13,000 while spending just over $15,000. That leaves her with under $30,000 available.
“Ryan Petty pulling in big money in bid for Broward County School Board” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — It was a given that Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter in February’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, would earn emotional support from the community after declaring his intention to run for Broward County School Board. Now, it appears Petty is earning financial support as well. Documents filed with the Broward Supervisor of Elections show Petty has raised more than $44,000 in May. And those donations have come in just about half a month, as Petty only declared his candidacy for the At-Large Seat 8 on May 15. Those are huge numbers for a school board race. To put them in perspective, no other school board candidate raised more than $35,000 all cycle. Petty’s opponents, incumbent school board member Donna Korn and challenger Elijah Manley, have raised around $10,000 and $15,000, respectively.
Spotted: Florida mayors in Quorum Analytics’ report, “Most Vocal Mayors on Issues Facing Cities in 2018” — The report “analyzes mentions of key issues facing cities by mayors on social media between the 2017 and 2018 US Conference of Mayors Annual Meetings (6/26/17-6/7/18). The analysis includes mayors for cities and counties of greater than 10,000 residents — a total of 3,395 mayors.” Tallahassee Mayor (and Democratic candidate for governor) AndrewGillum was the fifth most vocal mayor on climate issues, with 54 mentions. Gillum was No. 1 on guns, with 176 public statements. He was third on guns, at 61 statements. Seminole Mayor LeslieWaters was No. 1 on “number of statements mentioning @realDonaldTrump or @POTUS,” with 416 comments. Palm Beach County Mayor MelissaMcKinlay was ninth in that category, at 21. Gillum was 10th most vocal mayor on the opioid epidemic, with 17 statements, second on health care with 194 statements, and third on education with 109 public comments. On Congress, Waters and Gillum were No. 3 and No. 4 respectively, with 39 and 38 statements each.
“Flags at half-staff for Pulse shooting victims” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott proclaimed Tuesday as “Pulse Remembrance Day” in recognition of the 49 people killed in the 2016 gay nightclub shooting. Scott “is asking all Florida residents to pause for a moment of silence at 9 a.m. and is directing all state flags in Florida to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset,” the Governor’s Office said in a news release. “I remain committed to making sure our state never forgets these brave 49 individuals, that we continue to express our profound sympathy to the families who lost loved ones during this tragic event, and always remember that Florida is resilient and will endure during times of great tragedy,” Scott said in a statement.
“Florida cracks down on potential voter fraud” via Jillian Idle of WPTV — If you’re a registered voter in Florida your information will soon be entered in a national, universal system to make sure you are not double voting or registered in multiple states. The new statewide change doesn’t take effect until January 2019 but comes at a time other states like Ohio are wanting to purge its inactive voter lists. Florida is one of 24 states who have joined Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) in an effort to reduce the potential for voter fraud. The program will also have an impact on inactive voting lists in Florida … it cost the state $25,000 to enroll in ERIC. The state will have to continue paying annual dues based on numerous factors including our population … the initial price is far less than what it currently costs our state to send notifications by mail.
“Julie Brown, Gary Clark seek another term on PSC” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Brown and Clark were among 11 people who had submitted applications for the $132,036-a-year positions on the five-member commission, which regulates utilities such as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Gulf Power and Tampa Electric Co. The nominating council, chaired by Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland, is expected to come up with a list of “most qualified” applicants on June 26 in Orlando. Brown and Clark currently hold the seats, but their terms expire Jan. 1. Scott will make appointments to four-year terms. Brown, an attorney from Tampa, has served on the Public Service Commission since January 2011. Scott reappointed her in 2014. Clark was appointed to his seat in September to complete the term of Jimmy Patronis, who was named by Scott to serve as Florida chief financial officer. Clark, previously a deputy secretary at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in his application called the Public Service Commission appointment “the pinnacle of my career.”
“Growth pushes Florida Retirement System above $163 billion in assets” via Michael Moline, Florida Politics — The State Retirement System earned a clean bill of health during its regular checkup Monday by overseers on the Florida Investment Advisory Council. Assets have grown by 10.5 percent since the start of the fiscal year, reaching a balance of $163.3 billion — $9.8 billion ahead of last year. The state distributes benefits worth between $600 million and $800 million per month, said Ash Williams, executive director and chief investment officer for the State Board of Administration. That panel, comprising the governor, attorney general, and chief financial officer, oversees the council. Furthermore, the council is managing as much as 44 percent of its assets in-house, the result of a decade’s efforts to contain management costs, Williams said. “The pension plan in the state of Florida is in pretty good shape, being well managed,” said Gary Wendt, the former chief executive of G.E. Capital, who formally became the council’s chairman during the meeting in Tallahassee.
“Judge in hotel stays case to get another look” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court has rejected proposed penalties for a Miami-Dade County judge who faces discipline after an investigation into free hotel stays in Miami Beach, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. The Supreme Court, which in recent years has taken an increasingly tough stance on judicial misconduct, sent the case of Judge Maria Ortiz back to the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, which oversees investigations. The Supreme Court unanimously ordered the commission to hold a full hearing and to “fully develop the facts regarding any misconduct that occurred, so that the (Supreme) Court, in determining the appropriate discipline, will be apprised of all the facts and circumstances bearing on the alleged violations.” The commission recommended last month that Ortiz pay a $5,000 fine and receive a public reprimand from the Supreme Court for failing to properly disclose the 2015 and 2016 hotel stays. That recommendation, which the Supreme Court rejected in its order, came after Ortiz admitted she had not properly reported the information on financial-disclosure forms.
“Leon legislative delegation gets A, B and Cs from business lobbying group” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — A pro-business lobbying group is out with its annual ranking of Florida lawmakers’ performance during the 2018 legislative session. When combined with an earlier rating by a teachers union, Leon’s statehouse delegation is somewhere in the middle — they’re mostly open to proposals from both business and labor. Sen. Bill Montford, a former high school principal, appears to have balanced the competing sides, with a B from Associated Industries of Florida to follow his C+ from a teacher’s union. “My votes reflect what I think my constituents want and what is best for my constituents and if that puts me right down the middle, then that’s where I should be,” said Montford. AIF, which bills itself as the “voice of Florida Business,” gave Rep. Halsey Beshears of Monticello, an A, the highest score among the four who represent Tallahassee at the statehouse.
Happening today — State Sen. Aaron Bean will attend the JAXUSA Partnership luncheon, noon, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, 225 East Coastline Dr., Jacksonville.
Happening today — CareerSource Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, homebuilders and Uber will hold joint job fairs throughout the state for careers in the manufacturing and construction industries, 10 a.m., CareerSource Palm Beach County, 3400 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach; 10 a.m., Rockledge Career Center, 295 Barnes Blvd., Rockledge; 10 a.m., Manatee Technical College, 6305 State Road 70 East, Bradenton; 11 a.m., Crestview Public Library, 1445 Commerce Dr., Crestview.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un shake hands to open momentous summit” via Zeke Miller, Catherine Lucey, Josh Lederman and Foster Klug of The Associated Press — Before a row of alternating U.S. and North Korean flags, the leaders shook hands warmly at a Singapore island resort, creating an indelible image of two unorthodox leaders as they opened a conversation that could determine historic peace or raise the specter of a growing nuclear threat. Trump and Kim planned to meet one on one for most of an hour — joined only by interpreters. Then aides to each were to join for more discussions and a working lunch. But even before they met, Trump announced plans to leave early, raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back. Up early in Singapore, Trump tweeted with cautious optimism: “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly … but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!”
Vern Buchanan ranked among most effective, bipartisan — The Center for Effective Lawmaking, run by the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, reviewed the record of 443 congressmen from both parties, ranking BuchananNo. 53 in effectiveness based on his legislative accomplishments in the 114th Congress. That puts Buchanan in the top 12 percent. Some accomplishments cited include Buchanan’s legislation creating a national ID card for veterans, his bill providing tax relief to Florida’s citrus farmers and his bill saving Medicare Advantage plans for seniors. The Lugar Center, run by the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University and former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, reported that Buchanan was the No. 67 most bipartisan member of the House in 2017, putting him in the top 15 percent. “Nothing is impossible when you work together,” Buchanan said. “People are tired of partisan gridlock — they want action and solutions to the challenges facing our country.”
“Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter purge. Here’s how Florida does it.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s aggressive system of removing voters from the rolls if they do not vote in two consecutive presidential elections and in that time fail to respond to a written notice. All states are required to periodically comb the voter rolls for people who may have moved to another state — a process known as list maintenance. That work cannot be done less than 90 days before a federal election. Florida tried that in 2012 and a federal court struck down the purge as illegal. In Florida, voters are moved from active to inactive status if they do not vote in two consecutive general elections and if they don’t return a postage prepaid confirmation notice. Once inactive, a voter can still vote, simply by showing up on Election Day or requesting a mail ballot. After a Florida voter is placed on inactive status, he or she can be removed, or moved to ineligible status, after not updating their record, asking for a mail ballot or not voting in two general elections after being declared inactive.
— OPINIONS —
“Joe Henderson: Being front-runner now just makes Philip Levine top target” via Florida Politics — Democrat Levine, who is leading polls mostly (I believe) because he has been the only candidate from his party to put a lot of ads on TV, might want to go easy on the whole “I’m the front-runner” idea. Ask Adam Putnam how much it means to be ahead before most people have even begun to pay serious attention to the elections. Get real. Levine has reliably progressive ideas and the money to get his message out. And it’s not like his opponents don’t have their own obstacles to overcome. But even though this is his first statewide campaign, Levine surely must know that leading the polls — and he does, by a wide margin — only means his rivals will come at him with more pointed attacks. It doesn’t get easier from now through the August primary, and after that it gets ferocious. Get used to it.
“Steve Schale: Florida — persuasion or turnout … or both?” — In the never-ending quest to simplify Florida, one of the ongoing debates about winning the state is whether Florida is a state won by winning persuadable voters, or whether it is all about turning out one’s base. I remember when I started with [Barack] Obama, I got a ton of advice — most of it unsolicited (much was helpful) … Here is the secret — all of it matters. Florida is neither a persuasion state or a turnout state. It is, in my honest opinion, both. It doesn’t matter if it is a presidential cycle or a midterm year, Florida is a state about managing margins, everywhere. Winning Democratic candidates typically do a few other things: win Pinellas, win St. Lucie, win a few North Florida counties like Jefferson, maintain reasonable margins counties like in Duval, Sarasota, Volusia, and Seminole. For Republicans, their math is a little different — they win a lot more counties, but by relatively smaller counties.
“Putnam aside, agriculture department no place for concealed weapons licenses” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — There are issues specific to this incident that deserve more attention than they’ve received so far. Did anyone check to see whether any of those 291 people whose licenses were denied own guns they may not legally possess — for example, a felon whose rights haven’t been restored? Or someone with a disqualifying history of mental health commitment or criminal alcohol offenses? So far, the answer to that question appears to be no. “We have no oversight of whether a person has a gun or not, nor do we have a role in the purchase of firearms,” says Jennifer Meale, communications director at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The FDLE should ask the agriculture department for those 291 names, if it hasn’t already. Better yet, for the sake of public safety, Putnam should proactively send the names to FDLE to ensure people who shouldn’t own guns, don’t own guns.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Former GOP aide Nicole Wallace lighting it up for MSNBC” via David Bauder of The Associated Press — Wallace took over a time slot that averaged a million viewers a day and lifted it to more than 1.3 million this spring, the Nielsen company said. MSNBC used to run neck-and-neck with CNN’s Jake Tapper but has opened a lead that now approached a half-million viewers. Wallace’s show even beat Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto in March, the first time an MSNBC show had done that in the time slot since 2000. With Wallace and some other disaffected Republicans frequently on her show — commentators like Steve Schmidt, Charlie Sykes and David Frum — some conservatives refer to her show as the “traitor hour,” said Tim Graham of the conservative watchdog Media Research Center. “We joke that she put paycheck ahead of party,” he said. The 4 p.m. hour for MSNBC is a key transition from daytime news programs to more opinionated nighttime fare, a time when many big stories break. Key to Wallace’s success is that her show is more about reporting than punditry, Griffin said. From her days in the White House, she knows many of the people who work there and tries to speak to someone who’s had contact with the president each day. She’s more apt to have active reporters as panelists.
Appointed — Luz Weinberg and Leonard Boord to the Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority.
“Nelson Mullins and Broad and Cassel to combine into super-regional law firm” via Florida Trend — Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and Broad and Cassel have approved an agreement to combine effective August 1, 2018, to be known in Florida as Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel. Both firms’ partnerships voted overwhelmingly to approve the combination, which will create a firm with over 725 attorneys and professionals operating in 25 offices across 11 states and the District of Columbia. The combined firm will have over 620 attorneys and professionals in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, with Atlanta continuing as the firm’s largest office with over 150 attorneys and professionals. The revenues of the combined firm are projected to result in a jump in the Am Law ranking to approximately 66 based on the most recent ranking.
— ALOE —
“Airbnb grows, creates challenges for taxes, safety regulations” via John Henderson of the Panama City News-Herald — Airbnb hosts in Bay County cleared $12 million in revenues last year … For something that started in an environment as unstructured as an air mattress on the floor — and that can still be a simple as a spare bed or a tent in the backyard — taxes can be a confusing concept. “Some people honestly don’t know they have to pay them,” said Jennifer Vigil, the president and CEO of Destination Panama City. But in Panama City and Panama City Beach, Airbnb rentals are not excluded from the bed tax. Collections, however, have proved difficult … the county and Airbnb have yet to reach an agreement on how to go about paying the tax. Airbnb wants to collect the tax through their platform and then pay it to the county in a lump sum, as they do in 40 of Florida’s 63 counties, according to Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit. This is how they tell hosts to collect the tax on their help page. In most places, it works. Airbnb Florida said a recent news release that its vacation rental platform collected and remitted over $45.7 million in tax revenue to Florida state and local governments on behalf of its hosts in 2017, up from $20 million in 2016. But, Breit said, Bay County was among the 23 counties to reject the company’s offer to remit the bed taxes for Airbnb customers here.
“Universal adding new ‘Jurassic World’ experiences” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The first addition announced will give the Raptor Encounter photo-op at Universal Orlando’s Jurassic Park a more recognizable velociraptor: Blue, the raptor trained by Chris Pratt’s character, Owen Grady, and seen in “Jurassic World” and its upcoming sequel, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” The meet-and-greet had originally debuted in May 2015, just ahead of the release for the first “Jurassic World,” which went on to become the highest-grossing film in Universal’s history by taking in more than $1.67 billion worldwide … Blue has been designed “employing the exact computer-generated model and images used to create her for the big screen.” Just like the previous raptors, Blue will be snapping and snarling at guests while her “handler” calms her down long enough for a photo to be taken. Outside the parks, Universal guests can now bring parts of “Jurassic World into their hotel stay. The Loews Royal Pacific Resort is now offering “Jurassic World”-themed kids’ suites. These 2-bedroom suites let kids sleep in their own dinosaur-themed room, with two twin beds modeled after the gyrospheres seen in the 2015 film.
Happy birthday to one of our favorite people, Sally Bradshaw. Also celebrating today is former Rep. Neil Combee, Matt Lettelleir of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Margie Menzel, Rick Minor, and our dear friend, St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice.
Correction: In an item in Monday’s edition of SUNBURN, we misspelled the name of the Miami Herald’s Jenny Staletovich. Our apologies.
Republican primary election polling conducted at the end of a tough week of media reports shows Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam leading Congressman Ron DeSantis, according to the latest statewide poll sponsored by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Putnam bests DeSantis 32 to 15 in the poll, which interviewed 501 Republican likely voters by phone. It was conducted June 7-9, and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.3 percent.
Key findings show Putnam:
— Winning all major media markets except the Miami media market.
— Winning among all age groups statewide: 18-49-year-olds, 42 percent to 7 percent; 50-64-year-olds, 34 percent to 5 percent; 65 and over, 27 percent to 17 percent.
— Winning among men (17 percent) and women (18 percent) who have decided on the candidate they’ll vote for.
“Voters believe Florida is on the right track and that Adam Putnam can keep Florida moving in the right direction,” said MarkWilson, president and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Added MarianJohnson, senior vice president of the Florida Chamber Political Operation: “In our fight to secure Florida’s future, our team is constantly checking the pulse of voter attitudes toward candidates and issues, analyzing data for trends, and researching how to help ensure the right things happen in Florida.”
The poll was conducted by Cherry Communications using live telephone interviews. The sample was consistently drawn from likely Republican voters, meaning those voters who have the propensity for voting in Republican primary elections, rather than simply including registered voters. Voters were again screened for likelihood of voting.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
A hearing on a Broward County nursing home’s contempt motion against the Agency for Health Care Administration over alleged public records violations is back on for Tuesday.
Circuit Judge TerryLewis is slated to start the hearing at 2 p.m. in the Leon County Courthouse.
As previously reported, attorneys for the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills simply didn’t show up for a hearing scheduled last month.
Geoffrey Smith, of the Smith & Associates law firm in Tallahassee, called that a “misunderstanding related to the scheduling of hearings in several ongoing related matters.”
“We continue to look forward to the production of the public record information on the deaths that occurred in Florida during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma,” he said.
No harm: Lewis had said the parties likely would have needed more than the hour allotted anyway because they needed to present evidence: “It seems like there’s really a factual dispute.”
The nursing home was the site of resident deaths as Hurricane Irma knocked out its power supply, and with it, the air conditioning. Twelve eventually died, and the state later went after the facility’s license.
In the subsequent court fight, the facility filed a public records request for death certificates filed with the state between Sept. 9 and Sept. 16, during Irma and shortly afterward. In part, the facility objects to the state’s demand for nearly $6,000 before it produces the records.
“The headlines and stories that say that there were no background checks for a year are flat wrong, misleading and must be corrected. Today I set the record straight.” — Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam on Twitter, referring to reports his office failed to perform background checks on concealed weapon license applicants.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Republican candidate for Attorney General AshleyMoody will join Polk County Sheriff GradyJudd for a “special announcement.” That’s at 8:30 a.m., Polk County History Center, 1926 Courtroom, 100 East Main St., Bartow.
The Florida Chamber Foundation will start its annual “Learners to Earners Workforce Summit.” Speakers during the two-day event are expected to include Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam, Education Commissioner PamStewart, Florida College System Chancellor MadelinePumariega and university system Chancellor MarshallCriser. That’s at 9 a.m., Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa.
Florida International University, the World Bank and Miami-Dade County will host Latin American and Caribbean leaders for a conference titled, “Building Better Communities: From Economic Development to Sustainability.” That’s at 9 a.m., Hilton Downtown, 1601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
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.
— 10 a.m., CareerSource Palm Beach County, 3400 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.
— 10 a.m., Rockledge Career Center, 295 Barnes Blvd., Rockledge.
— 11 a.m., Crestview Public Library, 1445 Commerce Dr., Crestview.
A presentation on the “multicounty benefits” of large economic-development projects will be presented to the Triumph Gulf Coast board by Becca Hardin, president of the Bay Economic Development Alliance. That’s at 10:30 a.m. Central time, Escambia County Commission chamber, Ernie Lee Magaha Building, 221 Palafox Place, Pensacola.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide its latest forecast for the citrus harvest. That’s at noon. The forecast will be posted at nass.usda.gov/fl.
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, is expected to attend a JAXUSA Partnership luncheon. That’s at noon, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, 225 East Coastline Dr., Jacksonville.
The Forensic Interview Protocol Task Force, which works on issues related to forensic interviews of children suspected of having suffered abuse, will hold a conference call. That’s at noon, (888) 670-3525, participant code: 7021700355.
The Florida Board of Pharmacy will meet in Lake County. That’s at 1:30 p.m., Mission Inn Resort & Club, 10400 County Road 48, Howey-in-the-Hills.
Circuit Judge TerryLewis will hold a hearing on arguments by attorneys for an embattled Broward County nursing home that the Florida Department of Health should be held in contempt in a public-records dispute. That’s at 2 p.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.
Candidates for two seats on the Florida Public Service Commission face a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline for submitting applications to the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council.
Republican RayPilon, who is running in Sarasota County’s House District 72, will hold a campaign event. Pilon, a former House member, is seeking to unseat Rep. Margaret Good, a Sarasota Democrat. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Gecko’s, 5585 Palmer Crossing Circle, Sarasota.
Republican Mike McCalister, who is running for agriculture commissioner, is slated to speak during an event held by Trump Team 2020 Florida. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Abacoa Golf Club, 105 Barbados Dr., Jupiter.
FLORIDA TODAY executive editor Bob Gabordi has been a study in contrasts since first coming to the Sunshine State in 2005.
That’s when he took over the editing reins of the Tallahassee Democrat after Gannett bought the paper from the now-defunct Knight Ridder.
There, the now four-time winner of the Gannett President’s Ring Award, for example, “helped create Move.Tallahassee.com to better engage readers around health & fitness issues.”
(Or as Adam Weinstein, a former Democrat employee and now one of his fiercest critics, once wrote for Context Florida: Gabordi enjoyed “live-blogging his walking-laps around Lake Ella with the town’s ‘movers and shakers.’ ”)
In any case, OK, great idea. We all need more exercise.
But he also raised eyebrows inside his own shop when he ordered the renovation of the newsroom’s restrooms to include shower stalls.
As the late, great Democrat columnist Gerald Ensley wrote in 2015 after Gabordi departed, the editor “wanted a place to shower after taking his lunchtime walks.”
From a PR perspective, that’s one step forward, one step back.
So it is with Gabordi at FLORIDA TODAY.
One step forward: The end of publishing mugshots.
One (stupid) step back: The end of political endorsements in local races.
Earlier this month, Gabordi wrote that FT will no longer publish a gallery of photographs of people arrested.
Acknowledging that abandoning so-called mugshot journalism will likely cost FT clicks and web traffic, Gabordi said the “decision to drop the mugshot galleries is meant to add more fairness to the process.”
“We want the FLORIDA TODAY brand to stand for something more than the parading across your digital screens photographs of human beings at their lowest life moments,” states Gabordi.
Kudos to Gabordi for taking a strong, albeit overdue, stand on this issue.
That’s the step forward for Gabordi, now for the step back.
Last month, Gabordi declared that the newspaper will no longer make political endorsements.
“We don’t want to contribute to the political polarization, and it is clear endorsements can do that,” Gabordi contends.
Gabordi writes about how “many people insisted” FT was biased in favor of Barack Obama, even though the editorial page endorsed Mitt Romney. That’s a straw (newspaper)man comparison because what those people were mostly likely referring to was the newspaper’s OVERALL coverage, not its editorial stances.
Even if that’s not the case, Gabordi may have a point that there really is no upside in a local newspaper endorsing a presidential candidate.
As a political consultant for more than 20 years, I can’t remember one instance of a voter making their decision about who should be president based on what the local newspaper opined. As our JimRosica wrote back in his Scripps/Tribune days: “The more attention a race gets, the more minds are made up and the less important endorsements are.”
Nor do presidential candidates really care if they are endorsed by a newspaper that does not include the words “New York” in its masthead.
But as relatively meaningless as they are in a presidential campaign, newspaper endorsements can be a critical factor in a down-ballot race.
In local elections, such as for judge or school board, a recommendation from the editorial board can be the turning-point in a campaign. And, for the most part, those races are non-partisan and therefore an endorsement in them would not lead to an exacerbation of the partisan divide, as Gabordi fears.
A newspaper’s endorsement is one of the leading methods for the Fourth Estate to hold politicians directly accountable. Solid reporting comes first, but the real impact may not be felt until an editorial puts it all in context.
Now, at least in Brevard, local candidates have less reason to, um, fear the FLORIDA TODAY.
They don’t have to prep for their sit downs with the editorial board — the kind of meetings which nearly every candidate I’ve ever worked with takes more seriously than almost any other moment on the campaign trail.
Politicians don’t have to worry, if they do something particularly bone-headed, being called out by Gabordi and Co. Incumbents don’t have to worry, if they lose touch with their constituents, about a challenger receiving a coveted endorsement that tells voters it’s time for a change.
Even if you accept Gabordi’s rationale for dropping endorsements, it’s inexplicable why he as a publisher is unilaterally disarming.
So kudos, Mr. Gabordi, for doing away with the mugshots on the FLORIDA TODAY’s website, but it’s a mistake to de-fang your newspaper by eliminating candidate endorsements.
Richard Corcoran must be kicking himself right now.
If the House Speaker knew a month ago what the rest of the state does now — that a former employee of Adam Putnam’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services failed for more than a year to conduct national background checks on applications for concealed weapons licenses — would he have scrubbed his gubernatorial bid and endorsed the Bartow Republican?
Probably not. And with Putnam’s campaign imploding and calls for his outright resignation from Democrats reaching a fever pitch, a nervous Florida GOP establishment may have turned its desperate eyes to the Pasco lawmaker.
It’s not clear how much damage this scandal will do to Putnam. Will it drive him from the race? Will it keep him from winning the primary? If he wins the primary, does it hobble him in a general election? We probably need another 72 to 96 hours to see where Putnam stands. But one thing is certain. He is no longer the front-runner for the GOP nomination. He probably hasn’t been for a few weeks.
As Putnam stumbles, it’s increasingly probable that twenty years of Republican control of the Governor’s Mansion will come to an end this November.
Yes, Ron DeSantis can win the general election. The people who say he can’t just because he’s backed by Donald Trump are many of the same geniuses who had Hillary Clinton winning the Sunshine State on her way to The White House.
DeSantis can win, I just don’t think he will. I think the PredictIt Market that pegs it at about a three-to-two possibility that a Democrat will win in November feels right. Conversely, the Republicans — either DeSantis or Putnam — being given about a 40 percent chance also seems about right.
If Putnam does lose to DeSantis, the Florida GOP establishment will embrace the “outsider” DeSantis even quicker than it did Rick Scott after he defeated Bill McCollum in 2010.
DeSantis’ campaign manager is Brad Herold, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Florida. DeSantis’ finance director’s last job was for Senate President Joe Negron. DeSantis’ big donors are major donors to Trump, the party, etc. In other words, there are many more overlaps between DeSantis World and the Florida GOP than there were between Scott and the then-establishment.
Don’t for a second believe that The Establishment wants to see DeSantis beat Putnam. The heaviest of heavyweights — The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Disney, Florida Power & Light, the sugar industry, the mega-networked lobbying firms — have been investing in Putnam for more than a decade. For there to be zero return on this investment will be difficult to stomach.
The Establishment also hasn’t really liked the last eight years under Scott, at least not the way they liked it under Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. Those were the salad days. Under Scott, the governing strategy has been to stay off his administration’s radar, stay out of the news, and cut $50,000 checks to his political committee whenever one of his fundraisers made an ask.
The Establishment hoped to strike back under Putnam. However, for the third time in eight years — McCollum losing in 2010, Bush flailing in 2016, and Putnam faltering now — its plans are being thwarted.
It can’t be overstated just how shocked many establishment figures and lobbyists were during DeSantis’ recent tour of Tallahassee, where he met with dozens of top lobbyists. It wasn’t just that these insiders were alarmed by the Ponte Vedra Republican’s lack of knowledge about issues facing the state, it was the indifference and disdain he displayed while meeting with them. Almost every one of the lobbyists I spoke with who met with DeSantis mentioned how often he checked his phone, as if they were on a bad first date. He asked few, if any, questions about what concerns or suggestions they had. Instead it was just Trump, Trump, and more Trump.
The Establishment has been licking its Scott-inflicted wounds for nearly eight years and in DeSantis it sees another four years of living under an absentee landlord who, if we’re honest about it, would rather be in D.C. than Tallahassee.
So the Florida GOP, which has held hegemonic control over the state since 1998, faces limited choices.
— It can grin and bear DeSantis. That’s what most will do. There are top-tier lobbying firms already positioned to thrive under a DeSantis administration.
— It can back-door its support for Gwen Graham or Philip Levine. This is what some — not many but some — will do. And they’ll keep their Republican bona fides by doubling-down on their donations to incoming legislative leaders Bill Galvano and Jose Oliva.
OR … and with thirteen days until candidate qualifying closes, this is crazy … The Establishment could Draft Pam Bondi.
The Attorney General chose not to run for higher office this cycle. And she didn’t get/take a position in the Trump White House, despite her ties to the president. She’s coy about what her plans are for when she leaves office, although many expect her to pursue a track in television, specifically with Fox News.
She’s also never expressed any real interest in being Governor.
But … if she wanted it … it’s there.
There hasn’t been recent polling, at least none that I’ve seen, but a survey last year from Associated Industries of Florida showed Republican voters giving Bondi high marks. Fifty-four percent approve of the job she was doing, while just 12 percent had an unfavorable view and 17 percent said they had no opinion. She stood heads-and-shoulders above any Republican not named Scott, including Putnam.
Bondi would have some issues in the general election, especially because of a scandal linking a donation from Trump to a decision not to pursue a legal case against his “university,” but she also has a strong record she can run on, including her fight against pill mills.
Could she beat DeSantis in the primary? She probably has a better chance of doing so than Putnam does at this point. It would be a tall order to raise the kind of money she would need to win, but at least she wouldn’t be out-Trumped by DeSantis the way Putnam has been.
Meanwhile, the GOP Establishment would quickly transfer its support from Putnam to her because the devil you know (Bondi) is always better than the devil you don’t (DeSantis).
I don’t even know what a general election match-up would look like between Bondi and Graham or Levine, but Bondi probably has a better shot at keeping the moderate Republican women voters turned off by Trump in this so-called “Year of the Woman.”
Bondi is both incredibly telegenic and personable on a retail level, so she would give the Republicans their best chance at holding on to power. If she is the nominee, those PredictIt odds instantly move from three-to-two against to better than even money.
Only there’s just two weeks to convince Bondi that she’s the best candidate to help the party maintain control of the Governor’s Mansion through the next presidential election and redistricting process. She’d have to put on hold whatever those apolitical ambitions are that so many believe she has. She’d have to raise money 24 hours a day for the next four months. She’d have to convince Donald Trump not to weigh in too heavily in the Republican primary. And that only gets her to the general election, where a blue wave is supposedly building.
Gwen Graham’s gubernatorial campaign said over the weekend that new campaign finance reports will show another banner month for the former congresswoman’s fundraising efforts.
The Graham team said it added more than $300,000 in contributions for the campaign and tacked on another $730,000-plus via Gwen Graham for Florida, an affiliated political committee.
The seven-figure haul, her second in a row, brings the North Florida Democrat’s total fundraising to nearly $8.5 million. The campaign said it started June with more than $5.5 million of that cash in the bank.
“This announcement is the icing on the cake of an extraordinary week for our campaign. We are on the air sharing our positive, progressive message, we gained national attention in Glamour magazine, we earned endorsements from Congressman Patrick Murphy and the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest union — and now we’re announcing another $1 million raised,” campaign manager Julia Woodward said.
“While another $1 million is huge, the number we’re most proud of is the 20,000 individual supporters who have given to our campaign. Gwen is building a real grassroots movement to end 20 years of one-party Republican rule and set our state straight.”
The campaign said those 20,000 individual donors, including 1,500 added last month, are the most of among the five major candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to replace Gov. Rick Scott in the fall.
Graham was the final Democratic candidate to announce May fundraising numbers.
Earlier this week, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said he brought in $1.3 million via contributions and added another $1.3 million of his own money for a combined haul of $2.6 million. He’s brought in $15 million to date.
Winter Park businessman Chris Kingsaid Thursday that his reports will show $78,661 raised and $400,000 in self-funding for a to-date total of $5.1 million, while Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced $361,750 in May receipts. He’s raised $3.4 million so far.
Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene joined the Democratic primary on June 1 but has kept quiet so far. His first finance report is due June 29.