Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Robert “Bobby O” Olszewski emerged Tuesday evening from what has been a rough-and-tumble primary to be the Republicans’ likeliest nominee for the Oct. 10 special election to fill the open seat in Florida’s House District 44.
Early voting and mail-in voting, but no election day returns from the district’s 38 precincts, show Olszewski with a significant lead over three rivals, John Newstreet, Bruno Portigliatti, and Dr.Usha Jain.
While final returns may not be in for hours, the early-voting and mail-in voting totals of 4,079 votes, about 10 percent of the GOP electorate, stands to make up a sizable portion of the final vote tally, and it gave Olszewski a seven-point lead heading toward the finish.
So if, according to the AP, the “number of tourists visiting Florida continues to grow,” does that make Rick Scott’s case for VISIT FLORIDA?
The Governor on Tuesday said almost 61 million tourists came to Florida the first six months of this year—a respectable 4 percent jump over numbers for the first half of the previous year.
Let’s not forget earlier this year, when Scott was playing the state’s “MC” for tourism marketing spending, with VISIT FLORIDA chief Ken Lawson acting as hype man.
At one Capitol rally, Scott told a crowd, “We need to remain the tourist capital of the world,” with Lawson hollering in the background, “That’s right!” and “Yessir!”
House Speaker Richard Corcoran aimed to deep-six the public-private tourism marketing agency, then proposed reducing its budget to $25 million for 2017-18. Scott wanted $100 million; a deal was brokered and it got $76 million in funding.
Since then, Lawson has been going around the state to mend relations with partners and has rolled out new marketing partnership opportunities.
As to the latest numbers, did VF’s marketing help? Would the Sunshine State’s tourism have prospered without it? Perhaps time will tell…
“The help Trump promised hasn’t come. So this ‘dying city’ is determined to save itself” via Robert Samuels of The Washington Post
“Federally qualified clinics call for changes to new Medicaid waiver” via POLITICO
“Lack of command stymied response to airport shooting” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press
“Cost to protect Rick Scott now up to nearly $3 million” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics
“Rick Scott: state will help UF prepare for white supremacist’s visit” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants special legislative session to remove Confederate statue” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
“State budget aided by new gambling deal with Seminoles” via The Associated Press
“Joe Negron shakes up power structure for 2018” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
Quote of the Day
“We’re giving additional opportunities for senators to work in areas where they’ve shown competence and expertise.” —Senate President Joe Negron on Tuesday, explaining his shuffle of committee chairmanships. That included stripping David Simmons of his leadership of an education budget panel after it was reported Simmons worked behind the scenes to “endanger legislation that contained … Negron’s education priorities.”
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Even though we learned the answer last week, all eyes will be on Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala as he formally announces his bid for governor. The Pinellas Republican’s three-city tour stops at Fire Station #7 in Hialeah at 9 a.m., Clearwater Marine Aquarium at 1 p.m. and Sun Harbor Marina in Panama City at 5 p.m. central time.
The only other lawmaker who will be easy to wrangle Wednesday is Sen. Wilton Simpson. He’ll be at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee for an 11:30 a.m. speech to the Tiger Bay Club. Plenty of state agency and board meetings are bookending the talk for the Tallahassee crowd.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet will meet at 9 a.m. to go over budget requests – an important step in setting the Governor’s recommendations – for Veterans Affairs, FDLE, DHSMV, and OIR. The Agency for Health Care Administration will talk Low Income Pool, or LIP, at their headquarters at 2:30 p.m.
Those interested in seeing what a real backlog looks like should plan to hit up the Betty Easley Center at 9 a.m to see the Commission on Offender Review discuss parole cases for crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s.
Over on the First Coast, AIF will unveil the “Manufacturers Marketplace,” a web-based service to connect buyers with American manufacturers. The kick off starts at 3 p.m. at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Jax, and those taking U.S. 301 to the Bold City event might even be able to squeeze in some financial safety education on the way.
Starke, about 45 minutes southwest of Jax, will play host to one of the Department of Financial Services’ “Be Scam Smart” workshops, which aim to help seniors avoid ripoffs and fraudsters. It starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Bradford County Senior Center.