Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
We hope you had a relaxing, reflective Memorial Day Weekend. As hard as we tried, we just could not not produce today’s edition of Sunburn. There’s just too much water flowing from the never-ending fire hose that is Florida politics.
With summer unofficially here and less than a month to go before candidate qualifying closes, the jockeying and maneuvering by candidates, announced and potential, has to be tracked by the hour.
That’s why in today’s burn, we have new, exclusive poll numbers in the Democratic primary for Governor, insights on a potential new candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, and several other notes from the trail. We also have the scoop on a major personnel move taking place within the lobby corps.
Let’s get to it …
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@MarcoRubio: Mistake to view # or any other issue that touches on # in a vacuum. They are executing on a comprehensive plan to achieve world domination. Use trade, commerce, debt, military, immigration, technology, science & propaganda as tools. We need to wake up!
—@Carl_Hiassen: With Alberto looming, Gov. Scott declares a state of emergency for all of Florida. This is hilarious. A “state of emergency” in all 67 counties for a glorified squall that’s going to nick the Panhandle. Somebody in charge must be running for the Senate.
—@NWSTallahassee: # makes landfall near Laguna Beach in Bay County Florida.
—@MarcACaputo: My 9 y/o walked in as I was watching CNN report on the Indiana school shooter. I paused it because it pains me she has to grow up w/this reality. She looked at the TV, read the chyron and said “anther one? There was just one in Texas.” Then she walked out as if nothing happened
—@JohnMorganEsq: When I start something I finish it. Truth prevails!! The voters will be done!! #BELIEVE #ForThePeople #NoSmokeIsAJoke
—@RepMoraitis: Please join me as we mourn the unexpected loss of Plantation Councilman Jerry Fadgen — a great family man, patriot and leader in our community. Our prayers go out to Kathy and his entire family.
—@LaVendrickSmith: This man has been to eight straight finals. A full presidential term of finals appearances. I was a sophomore in high school the last time LeBron wasn’t in the finals. This is wild.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 11; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 13; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 14; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 16; Father’s Day — 19; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 24; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 30; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 40; MLB All-Star Game — 49; Deadline for filing claim bills — 64; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 64; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 65; Start of the U.S. Open — 90; Primary Election Day — 91; College Football opening weekend — 93; NFL season starts — 100; Future of Florida Forum — 120; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 147; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 148; General Election Day — 161; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 261; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 280.
— TOP STORY —
“Alberto strikes Gulf Coast with dangerous surf, heavy rains” via Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press — Subtropical Storm Alberto lumbered ashore Monday on the U.S. Gulf Coast, pelting white sand beaches with blustery winds and stinging rain that kept the usual Memorial Day crowds away. … Rough conditions were whipping up big waves off the eastern and northern Gulf Coast, and authorities warned swimmers to stay out of the surf because of life-threatening swells and rip currents. Between four and eight inches (10-25 centimeters) of rain could pummel Florida Panhandle, eastern and central Alabama, and western Georgia before the storm moves on. Isolated deluges of 12 inches (30 centimeters) also were possible as the storm heads inland, threatening heavy rains around the Southeast in the coming hours and days.
“How does an inexperienced 30-year-old become hurricane chief? Win Rick Scott’s trust” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — If you judge Wes Maul by his online résumé, his tenure at the state Division of Emergency Management has seen the full spectrum of natural and human disasters: hurricanes, mass shootings, public health emergencies. … Maul, who recently turned 30, has officially been the division’s permanent director only since Dec. 13, 2017. After catapulting from a job fresh out of law school as the governor’s travel aide, Maul spent a year and a half as the emergency division’s chief of staff before being appointed the interim director, then permanent director, after Hurricane Irma. But as storm season approaches — with early forecasts suggesting a near-normal or above-normal storm season — the state’s disaster preparedness lies in the hands of a political newcomer whose first official job experience with emergency management began two years ago.
“A forecast bust: What happened to Alberto?” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Forecasters worried that as Subtropical Storm Alberto spun north through the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, it would fling moisture from the south toward Tampa Bay, assaulting the area with an endless barrage of rain that could lead to dangerous river flooding. … Instead, the low-pressure vacuum driving Alberto sucked up some dry air, choking its rain engine. Most of the bay area saw only spurts of heavy rain, with overcast and at times even sunny skies. Rivers have stayed in their banks, and any flooding has remained localized.
Assignment editors — Gov. Rick Scott will visit the Walton County Emergency Operations Center to thank workers for their support during Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto, 9:30 a.m. Central time, 75 S. Davis Ln., Defuniak Springs
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
Bill Nelson releases first digital ad in 2018 race – “Stars,” narrated by Nelson, focuses on his fight for Florida values in the U.S. Senate. “Bill Nelson has worked his entire career to put the people of Florida first,” Nelson campaign manager Marley Wilkes said in a statement. “He stands up for the values that make Florida great, and in the U.S. Senate he puts politics aside and focuses on doing what’s right for the people of our state because that is who he cares about. That’s why Floridians know Bill has their back and that he’ll keep fighting every single day to help create a future that works for every family and every child.” The 47-second ad will reach Florida voters through several digital platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. To watch the full ad, click the image below:
“Nelson says he intends on holding back from spending on TV until the fall” via Mitch Perry of WMNF — It’s early. Most people are going to make up their minds as we get much closer to the election,” Nelson told this reporter on Sunday morning in Tampa, shortly before participating in a Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony that took place at Veterans Memorial Park. While not commenting on the sheer quantity of ads ran against him, he did play the critic on their quality. “People tell me that Rick Scott’s ads are not very effective,” he said. … Those ads have gone relatively unchallenged until now, with Nelson getting some much-needed air support via a $2.2 million buy from the Senate Majority PAC that was in heavy rotation over the weekend, including an airing on Fox News Sunday that was being broadcast inside the Veterans Resource Center just as Nelson entered the building. … “I’m grateful that somebody has come up on an ad to my defense,” he said, adding that he likely won’t be airing any of his own TV ads until the fall.
— “Nelson says he’s not fazed by Scott’s campaign. Some Democrats say he should be” via Ledyard King of the USA Today
Assignment editors — Nelson hosts a roundtable discussion with Orange County community health leaders about the importance of expanding access to health care, 10:30 a.m., Pan-American Behavioral Health Services of Florida, 6000 S. Rio Grande Ave., Suite 102, Orlando. Later, Nelson will meet with local community and business leaders, 12:30 p.m., Northwest Volusia County Democratic Club, 855 W. New York Ave., DeLand.
“As Scott hammers Venezuela, his campaign takes contribution from biggest buyer of its oil” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — As Scott hits the campaign trail trashing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, he is accepting contributions from Valero Energy Corporation, a Texas oil refiner that is the biggest buyer of the country’s oil. Scott’s campaign took $5,000 last month from the company, which in recent months has purchased 200,000 barrels-a-day from Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the country’s state-run oil company. The company boosted its purchases from Venezuela ahead of U.S. sanctions that were imposed earlier this week after Maduro was reelected, according to Reuters. The donations have not been previously reported. Valero is the biggest buyer of Venezuelan oil, but Scott’s team says that any company giving to his campaign supports his platform, which includes ousting the Venezuelan president. A Valero representative didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Actual news release sent from the Florida Democratic Party at 9:30 p.m. on the Sunday before Memorial Day — “Self-Serving Scott’s Week in Review: Cronies Still …” — forget it, we’re not reading a news release sent on the Sunday evening of a holiday weekend.
— LATEST POLL OF DEM. PRIMARY —
Philip Levine has surged to a double-digit lead statewide, a new poll shows.
The Public Policy Polling survey, conducted May 21-22, gives Levine 30 percent to Graham’s 20 percent, with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum taking 12 percent and Orlando businessman Chris King with 6 percent.
— Among key demographics surveyed, Levine holds a 20-point lead among Hispanics, 8-point lead among African-Americans, and 13-point lead among women.
— Levine is also best known among Florida Democrats, having 55-percent Name ID across the state — a 12-point advantage over Graham and 30-points across the field.
— Levine also leads in favorability (42 percent for women; 40 percent for men), although slightly more are unsure (47 percent women, 43 percent men). Graham is 25 percent favorable with women, 35 percent with men, but a majority says they are unsure (63 percent of women, 50 percent of men).
— More than half of respondents (52 percent) say they have seen Levine’s television ads.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
This is a national story; is it accurate about Florida? — “Democrats are running a smart, populist campaign“ via David Leonhardt of The New York Times — Democratic candidates aren’t obsessed with President Donald Trump, and they aren’t giving up on the white working class as irredeemably racist. They are running pocketbook campaigns that blast Republicans for trying to take health insurance from the middle class while bestowing tax cuts on the rich. … Americans really are divided on abortion, guns, race and other cultural issues, but they’re remarkably progressive on economics. When Democrats talk about health care, education and jobs, they can focus the white working class on the working-class part of its identity rather than the white part. And Democrats can fire up their base at the same time.
— Gary Fineout (@fineout) May 26, 2018
“Why nobody is winning the John Morgan primary?” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — The four Democrats running for Florida governor all favor some degree of legalizing or decriminalizing recreational marijuana use. But Morgan is not impressed. Morgan … says Democratic front-runners Graham and Levine are too timid on the issue of full legalization. And he’s dismissive of the legalize/regulate/tax stances of Gillum and King.
“Greyhound-racing ban supporters plan grassroots meetings across the state” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Supporters of the proposed constitutional ban on greyhound racing say they will hold 13 “grassroots meetings” across the state to officially launch the “Protect Dogs-Yes on 13” campaign. The meetings, which start June 4, will be held in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Naples, Gainesville, Merritt Island, Vero Beach, Largo, Lakeland, and Palm Coast. Details will be forthcoming. “This will be a true grassroots campaign,” said Joyce Carta, the campaign’s co-chair, in a statement.
“New polling shows Mike Miller advantage in CD 7” via the Orlando Political Observer — Recent polling of the Republican race to challenge Stephanie Murphy shows state Representative Miller leads Scott Sturgill among Republican primary voters. Two recent polls by Gravis Marketing and McLaughlin & Associates both mirrored a Miller edge among Seminole County voters and among those who identify as conservative. In the McLaughlin and Associates poll, Miller leads Sturgill 27-16 percent overall with most voters still undecided. … The polling data also showed geographic advantages for Mike Miller, whose vote share rose to 48 percent within the boundaries of his Orange County state house district and whose lead in Seminole County was 21-17 percent in the McLaughlin poll.
Ross Spano leads CD 15 GOP primary, one-third undecided — State Rep. Spano leads the pack in the Republican primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. A new St. Pete Polls survey conducted May 25-27 gives the Dover Republican a 6-point lead over fellow state Rep. Neil Combee, 29-23 percent. Also in the single digits are Sean Harper (4 percent), Danny Kushmer (4 percent), Curt Rogers (2 percent) and Ed Shoemaker (4 percent). The poll had a sample size of 494 with a 4.4 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level. Nearly 34 percent are undecided.
Big get (at least in terms of lending credibility) — Pam Bondi endorses Javier Manjarres for Congress — “I have known Javier for many years and can attest to his indisputable commitment to preserving our American way of life. He is one of the strongest conservatives on the political playing field today, and I am confident that when elected to the U.S. Congress, his unique approach of addressing issues facing our nation will serve his constituents — and all Americans well.”
“Tampa Democrats say they’re unified to win key state Senate race” via Mitch Perry of WMNF — If the Florida Democratic Party is ever going to end up being competitive when it comes to gaining parity with Republicans in the state Legislature, there are certain races that they have to win, such as the state Senate District 18 seat in Hillsborough County this fall. … Democrats felt that (Bob) Buesing could have won the contest without Joe Redner siphoning away votes from him the last time around, and were happy when Redner bowed out of a 2018 run and endorsed Buesing. … Buesing … eschewed offering platitudes about his decision to drop out of the race after (Janet) Cruz opted in. Buesing also acknowledged previous bitter and divisive Democratic races at the presidential level, and said a replay on a more local level could similarly result in (Dana) Young’s re-election.
— NIKKI FRIED’S PLANS —
Fried has kept the Florida political class guessing for months about a possible statewide run for office.
Florida Politics first reported back in February that the attorney, lobbyist and medical marijuana advocate was considering a late entry into the gubernatorial race. More recently, rumors circulated about Fried mounting a bid for Attorney General — a rumor that has caused heartburn for a Democratic establishment that has all but coalesced around state Rep. Sean Shaw’s candidacy.
Now a newly formed state political committee may put to rest questions about Fried’s future.
Sources close to Fried have confirmed that the Broward County-based political committee, Florida Consumers First, could likely to be the first step toward a bid for Agriculture Commissioner.
If she ultimately runs, Fried would face a nominal Democratic primary with two declared, but poorly funded candidates already running. Insiders expect Fried to be a tenacious fundraiser, drawing on relationships in the medical marijuana industry, the lobby corp, the Broward County business and political establishment, and the Florida Bar, where Fried is a longtime leader of the Young Lawyers Division.
“Nikki doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘no’,” said one Tallahassee insider. “She’s going to be a monster fundraiser.”
If Fried files to run before the June 22 state qualifying deadline, it would mark the first time in two decades that Democrats have managed to field credible candidates for all three cabinet seats, with Shaw running for Attorney General, and former state Sen. Jeremy Ring for CFO.
— STATEWIDE —
Mary Ellen Klas believes this may be Scott’s legacy — “Florida’s slashed drug programs will result in hundreds of layoffs” — Scott and leaders of the Florida House rejected appeals to save $28 million in prison programs Friday, choosing instead to allow hundreds of layoffs at inmate transition and treatment programs throughout the state when the programs close at the end of June. The cuts offered up by the Florida Department of Corrections will reduce access to dozens of privately run programs that had a proven track record of preventing offenders from returning to crime and drugs. They will also achieve what FDC Secretary Julie Jones has tried and failed to do since 2016: sever the state’s dependence on nonprofit community providers, allowing the state to develop its own yet-to-be-created programs at what Jones believes will be less cost behind the prison gates.
“ ‘It’s a disgrace:’ Parkland parent condemn video game that simulates school shooting” via Martin Vassalo of the Miami Herald — An upcoming computer video game that would allow players to re-create school shootings by stalking school hallways and racking up kills has been condemned as insensitive and inappropriate by the parents of students who were shot to death during the school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. The game — titled “Active Shooter” and slated for a June 6 release via the digital video game marketplace Steam — is branded as a “SWAT simulator” that lets players choose between being an active shooter terrorizing a school or the SWAT team responding to the shooting. It was developed by Revived Games and published by the company Acid, which has said it plans on selling the game for $5 to $10 on Steam and releasing an alternate “civilian” mode.
“Daphne Campbell had lobbied to help official who gave her purse full of cash” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Campbell worked for years to push legislation sought by an organization whose president handed her a purse stuffed with cash during a 2017 birthday party that doubled as a political fundraiser, according to public records and interviews with those familiar with the bill. The Miami Democrat had been lobbying for years to pass the bill to make it easier for foreign doctors to get licensed in the United States. But she never told legislative colleagues what organizations were behind the effort. Lawmakers contacted by POLITICO were “shocked” when they discovered the bill was for a man seen in a 2017 video handing Campbell a purse stuffed with cash. The video, which was taken at a birthday held for Campbell, was first reported last month by the Miami Herald. “She has been pushing that bill for years but members had no idea it was for the cash purse guy,” said one Republican consultant familiar with the bill, which never got to the floor of either chamber for a vote. The bill is the brainchild of Solidaridad Sin Fronteras, a Hialeah-based group that helps health care professionals trained in other countries get licensed to work in the U.S. health care system. During the May 24 party celebrating Campbell’s birthday, which was held at the Miami Shores Country Club, group president Julio Alfonso gave Campbell a Kate Spade purse, shoving a visible wad of cash in it after she opened it, according to the video.
“Court rejects new hospice in ‘certificate of need’ fight” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Though describing it as a “close call,” an appeals court Friday upheld a decision by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to turn down approval of new hospice provider in Sarasota County. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal pointed to discretion the agency has in deciding whether to approve a “certificate of need” for the provider. The case involved an application by Compassionate Care Hospice of the Gulf Coast, Inc., to establish a hospice program. The ruling said Sarasota County’s hospice market is now “monopolized” by Tidewell Hospice, Inc. The Agency for Health Care Administration denied the proposal “based on its determination that CCH (Compassionate Care Hospice) failed to overcome a presumption that no need existed for a new hospice program,” the appeals court ruling said. The court, however, said its decision to back the agency decision was a “close call,” in part because of Tidewell’s monopoly and that Compassionate Care Hospice is economically viable and would create competition.
“Koger Center landlord files lawsuit over state’s ‘she’ deal, plan to vacate building” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Nearly a half-dozen state agencies and more than 2,000 employees are planning to vacate the Koger Center along Apalachee Parkway when leases expire next year. Most of the workers will be reassigned to buildings under construction in an office park going up at Blairstone Road and Capitol Circle SW. Eight agencies’ leases expire in October 2019 and so far, only one, the Department of Juvenile Justice, has said it will stay at Koger. Two have yet to decide. The Koger owner has filed suit in Leon County Circuit Court to reopen lease negotiations. Todd Hakimi said the Department of Management Services was wrong when it waived a requirement for the agencies to negotiate with its current landlord before seeking new space. Hakimi said DMS violated the open meeting law and allowed negotiations to take place in the “shade.” In court documents his attorneys call into questions leases the Fish and Wildlife Commission and Department of Health awarded to two other companies.
“Potential Gulf Power sale may affect contract negotiation” via Maddie Rowley of the Northwest Florida Daily News — The City of Destin recently voted to extend its current contract with Gulf Power until Sept. 21 in order to continue negotiations with the utility company. The contract, which took effect 30 years ago, was set to expire this month. Destin confirmed that the city is still in a contract extension with Gulf Power despite the change in parent companies from Southern Company to NextEra Energy. “It’s really just a changing of the guard,” said Destin. “Representatives from Gulf Power called me and said nothing will change when it comes to the negotiations.” Destin reiterated that his main goal is to provide the best utility deal possible for Destin residents, and said that the acquisition could possibly open up doors to lower utility rates.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“What happens if Republicans keep control of the House and the Senate” via Perry Bacon of FiveThirtyEight.com — Imagine this scenario: In November’s elections for the U.S. House, Democrats win the national House vote by a few percentage points and gain nearly 20 additional House seats, by both winning open seats and defeating some longtime GOP incumbents. In the Senate, Democrats pick up Nevada; win races in states Trump carried in 2016, including in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and West Virginia; and only narrowly lose in the GOP strongholds of Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee. That sounds like a pretty good night for Democrats. But it wouldn’t be. That scenario would leave Republicans with a majority of, say, 222-213 in the House and a 51-49 advantage in the Senate. … That potential outcome didn’t get enough coverage in the run-up to the 2016 election. So let’s avoid repeating that mistake in 2018. How would the political world react if Republicans maintained control of Congress in November?
“Marco Rubio, in challenge to Trump, suggests Congress will act against ZTE” via Haroun Demirjian of The Washington Post — Trump had announced last week that he would allow the telecom giant to ”reopen,” in a stunning reversal after the United States had imposed crippling penalties on the company for sanctions violations. In an appearance on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Rubio said there is “a growing commitment in Congress to do something about what China is trying to do to the United States” and that “one of the things that Congress will do is … not even allow Chinese telecom companies to operate in the United States.” “None of these companies should be operating in this country,” he said, also naming the Chinese telecom firm Huawei. “None of them.” … The senator did not go into specifics about what kind of legislative measure Congress might pursue to block the president. The annual defense authorization bills being considered in Congress already contain a prohibition on the federal government using Huawei and ZTE products. Rubio has also proposed legislation that would do the same, as well as ban sales of intellectual property and “national security sensitive technology” to China.
Assignment editors: U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney is expected to speak to the Cape Coral Republican Club. Personal Touch Banquet & Catering, 1530 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral. 7 p.m.
This is so incredibly shortsighted — “Homeland Security has formally proposed to rescind the so-called startup visa” by Sara Ashley O’Brien 0f CNNMoney — “The rule aimed to help keep foreign entrepreneurs in the US by giving them a workaround to existing visas. … The government [now] believes the program is “inadvisable, impracticable, and an unwarranted use of limited agency resources.”
— WISH WE COULD ATTEND —
Presidential historian and author Jon Meacham will speak to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches noon today. Meacham’s latest book is “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.” Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Cohen Pavilion, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.
— OPINION —
“Searching for the real Adam Putnam” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — What happened to the Putnam who talks to anybody, knows public policy cold and still seems like the earnest young man next door even in his early 40s? It’s understandable Putnam feels pulled to the far right, given that Ron DeSantis has benefited from a favorable nod from Trump and the U.S. House member is a regular on Fox News. But there will be a general election in November. Being a proud NRA sellout, dismissing the value of higher education, dividing Floridians and schmoozing with a dog shooter is not the road to the Governor’s Mansion. So keep an eye out for the real Adam Putnam. He better show up fast, perhaps in the produce aisle at Publix.
“Joe Henderson: is all this noise really America? Actually, it is” via Florida Politics – A lot of people wonder how in the hell did we get so mean and distrustful. Maybe it’s a clash of values, styles, religions, or maybe it’s just good old-fashioned fear. Maybe it’s always been there, and the 2016 election just popped the cork. I hoped that wouldn’t carry over to Florida elections this year, but it has. We get a president who used Twitter on Memorial Day, where we especially honor those who paid the highest cost, to pat himself on the back, noting, “Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today.” Ridiculous, but expected. Is that what we stand to honor and pledge allegiance? Or don’t stand and don’t pledge? And what so many fought to protect? Yeah. Actually, it is.
— MAJOR PERSONNEL MOVE —
Big news in the influence industry: After almost 10 years leading fertilizer giant Mosaic’s lobbying efforts in Tallahassee and Washington, Eileen Stuart is moving on to a new role.
She’s joining the Tallahassee law firm of Hopping Green & Sams (HGS) in June to helm its government affairs practice.
Stuart will be a shareholder of the firm, though her practice will center largely on state and federal government and regulatory affairs.
“Her expertise in environmental, energy, permitting and tax issues will complement HGS’ deep roster of professionals,” a news release said.
The firm “is a powerful combination of the state’s top environmental and land development lawyers, along with a robust and loyal client base,” Stuart said in a statement.
“HGS’ widely recognized expertise and reputation provide an unparalleled platform, and I am excited to work alongside the exceptional team there to help our clients achieve their objectives.”
Added HGS shareholder Gary Hunter: “We are thrilled to welcome Eileen to the firm. Having worked closely with her over the last decade, we appreciate firsthand Eileen’s substantial talents.”
Read more about Stuart’s big move here.
— ALOE —
“Cheers! SeaWorld visitors enjoy free beer, a return of a longtime tradition” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The giveaway is a nod to SeaWorld’s history, back when the company was owned by Anheuser-Busch, makers of Budweiser. At one point, the Orlando park also operated a hitching barn that was home to the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales that paraded through the theme park twice a day. … Last call came in January 2009 when SeaWorld Orlando and the other parks stopped serving free beer, a move that angered annual passholders and thirsty visitors. … Now known as SeaWorld Entertainment, the company has faced challenges with declining attendance, although it’s still ranked the ninth biggest theme park operator in the world … The start of 2018 has brought an uptick in revenue, attendance and people spending more at the park — which is something SeaWorld executives likely hope the free beer can help continue to grow. But if you want the free beer, you’ll have to visit SeaWorld Orlando by Sept. 2. The company does not have plans to make the two-per-customer 7-ounce pours permanent, a spokeswoman said.
“Defending champ Gators top seed in NCAA baseball tournament” via Eric Olson of The Associated Press — Losses in six of its last seven games didn’t diminish defending national champion Florida’s overall body of work when it came to seeding the NCAA baseball tournament. The Gators (42-17) are No. 1, and there never was much doubt, NCAA Division I Baseball Committee chairman Ray Tanner said Monday after the 64-team field was unveiled. Kevin O’Sullivan’s program is the first to earn the No. 1 overall seed three times since the tournament went to its current structure in 1999. The Gators also were top seeds in 2012 and 2016.
—”Florida State earns No. 7 national seed” via Wayne McGhee of the Tallahassee Democrat
—”As Hurricanes miss NCAA Tournament, coach Jim Morris’ career at Miami ends” via Christy Chorinos of the Miami Herald
Happy birthday from the extended weekend to state Reps. Julio Rodriguez and Mel Ponder, Richard DeNapoli, Stafford Jones, Tammy Perdue, Southern Strategy Group’s Clark Smith, Sydnie Tiseo, Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters, and Christian Ziegler. Celebrating today are Bascom Communications’ Sarah Proctor Demont, Arron Gober, USF St. Pete’s Helen Levine, and Alex Setzer.
And on a final note, happy belated birthday to my friend of nearly two decades, Scott Ross. He’s one of the best dads and husbands I know (and a pretty decent lobbyist).