Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 307

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including 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.

A warning for Democrats eyeing Jeff Brandes’ SD 24 seat in 2018

A word of warning for Florida Democrats in 2018; be cautious about eyeing Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes’ District 24 seat.

After the somewhat surprising success of Rick Kriseman, who edged out former mayor Rick Baker, Florida Democrats are starting to think a “blue wave” will give them a legitimate shot at Brandes, the incumbent Republican in SD 24.

They may have to rethink that strategy.

But first, a few facts.

One of the most visible distinctions between Brandes’ SD 24 and the City of St. Petersburg is voter registration.

Republicans make up 38 percent of SD 24, and hold a five-point advantage over Democrats (33 percent), while ‘Other’ and no-party-affiliated voters make up the rest (29 percent).

In contrast, St. Pete is 46 percent Democratic — an 18 percent registration advantage over Republicans (28 percent) while ‘Other’ party affiliation voters make up 26 percent of the electorate.

One of the main reasons Baker found success as a Republican in the mostly Democrat-leaning city of St. Pete was his popularity in the African-American community, where he spent a good amount of time.

Sixty-nine percent St. Pete voters are white, 20 percent are African-American, a significant (and influential) portion of the electorate.

In the primary, Baker bested Kriseman 51 to 38 percent in precincts with over 80 percent African-American registration. This came despite Kriseman’s support and endorsement from former President Barack Obama and tying Baker to Trump as much as possible.

And while Trump proved a winning strategy in St. Pete’s general election, it only resulted in a three-point victory for Kriseman, 51.62 to 48.38 percent.

In comparison, SD 24 is 85 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic. Only 4 percent of voters are African-American.

Republicans hold a five percent registration advantage over Democrats in SD 24 but outperform them by much higher numbers. In the 2014 Governor’s race, Republicans turned out +9 over Democrats, giving Brandes a victory by nearly 14 percent.

In 2016, SD 24 Republicans performed +6 over Democrats, where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 7 percent and Marco Rubio beat Patrick Murphy by 8 percent.

Those two elections played out very differently in St. Pete. Democrats outperformed +18 over Republicans in 2014, where longtime St. Petersburg resident (and Republican-turned-Democrat) Charlie Crist beat Rick Scott by 33 percent.

Similarly, Democrats outpaced Republicans +18 in 2016, when Clinton beat Trump by 23 percent and Murphy beat Rubio by 19 percent.

Turnout in presidential cycles historically tends to favor Democrats, and SD 24 had a Republican advantage of 7.5 percent at the top of the ticket.

In a midterm gubernatorial race in 2018, where Republican performance historically is even better (+9 percent for 2014), Democrats would face a very steep uphill climb. This means Democrats would need to boost turnout by double of that in the St. Pete mayoral race — as well as siphon off some of the broad support for Brandes among both Republicans and independent voters.

As a family man with four young children (including a newly adopted daughter), an Iraq War Veteran, businessman and Republican who leans libertarian, Brandes appeals to a Republican base as a fiscal conservative. He is a staunch believer in limited government and Second Amendment rights.

But even more importantly, especially to a broader electorate: Brandes isn’t afraid to shake things up in Tallahassee.

As a Republican in a GOP-majority Legislature, Brandes has been a longtime advocate for some traditionally un-Republican issues, such as the legalization of medical marijuana for those who need it. He also led the charge for prison and criminal justice reform, questioning the effectiveness of mandatory minimum sentences.

Brandes is also a staunch supporter of cutting-edge technologies in Florida, both in the classroom, on roads, and in the everyday lives of citizens. He sponsored legislation for increased autonomous vehicle technology in the state and to develop digital driver’s licenses. Brandes also spearheaded the expansion of ride-sharing services statewide and pushed for the repeal of red light cameras.

From his first House victory in 2010, unseating incumbent Democrat Bill Heller by 999 votes, Brandes has won solid victories (or ran unopposed), with arguably one of the most organized campaigns structures in Pinellas County history.

Employing a robust ground game, strong fundraising and willingness to commit personal resources, Brandes defeated fellow House member Jim Frishe in the Senate race by more 14 percent. In 2014, he beat Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan by 13.9 percent in the general election and went unchallenged in 2016.

With a mix of demographics, organization and support, any Brandes challenger in SD 24 will find themselves facing a rough road — Democratic “blue wave” or not.

Be forewarned.

Sunburn for 11.28.17 — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

In case you thought the biggest clash in Florida this past Thanksgiving break played out on the college football field, think again.

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Associated Industries of Florida announced a star-studded legal team to take on Proposal 23, which has been proposed in the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC).

The legal team includes a host of Gunster attorneys well-versed in Florida’s environmental laws, and former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ken Bell.

Along with AIF, the Florida Chamber also recently sent a letter to CRC commissioners highlighting the threat Proposal 23 would pose against Florida businesses. The letter warns that the proposal could impose “opaque demands on Florida’s sustainable growth” and strongly urges the commissioners to oppose it.

In a process where these business groups sometimes draw a line in the sand and oppose each other in the scapital, it’s notable that both business groups are united behind ensuring the proposal’s demise. It’s a whole lot of muscle to defeat a proposal that would certainly have an unwelcome impact on Florida’s business climate.

The groups cite the proposal’s vague language establishing a citizen’s right to a “clean and healthful” environment. If adopted, anyone, including non-Floridians, would be able to “enforce this right against any party, public or private, subject to reasonable limitations, as provided by law.”

Both the Chamber and AIF predict the amendment, if adopted, would lead to millions of dollars in litigation costs for Florida businesses. Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson warned, “The creation of legal liability contained in this proposal is far too expansive, which could lead to out-of-state billionaires with agendas bringing damaging lawsuits against community consensus projects.”

AIF also argues Florida law already has existing avenues for protecting clean air and water. In a statement, AIF President Tom Feeney said, “This amendment circumvents existing avenues to address concerns over air and water quality and instead encourages frivolous lawsuits, which would inevitably drive up business costs and threaten future economic development and expansion in Florida.”

Florida’s business community is no stranger to environmental fights. In 2010, the Florida Chamber joined other business groups in defeating the Amendment 4 “hometown democracy” amendment. The measure was rejected by a whopping 67 percent of Florida voters. The Florida Chamber, builders, and Realtors spent nearly $6 million to defeat the amendment.

Florida’s business community is hoping Proposal 23 will never make onto the ballot. Judging by the force with which they are opposing it, that is shaping up to be a safe bet.

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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Morning must-read – “Florida lawmaker’s former company used Manafort to pitch Russian-developed technology to U.S. governmentvia Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – House freshman Don Hahnfeldt ran a company in the early 2000s that hired Manafort — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief who was recently indicted — to try to sell Russian-developed nuclear containment foam to the U.S. Energy Department. At one point, a Manafort-directed company bought more than 2 million shares of company stock. The story of the now-defunct, Virginia-based EuroTech Ltd. doesn’t just involve Russia — it’s also ingrained with other obscure plot elements worthy of the silver screen, including officials with known ties to the mafia and an untraceable cash flow from Cayman Island investors, according to thousands of pages of regulatory filings.

Tax exemption proposed for nursing home generators” via the News Service of Florida — The proposal (HB 803), filed last week by Rep. Rick Roth of Loxahatchee, came as Gov. Scott‘s administration moves forward with generator requirements for nursing homes and assisted living facilities after the deaths of residents of a Broward County nursing home that lost its air conditioning system in Hurricane Irma. The exemption would be limited to a maximum of $30,000 for each facility. The bill also would provide an exemption for generators used by farms.

Lawmakers seek tax credit for baby-changing tables” via the News Service of Florida — The proposal (HB 809), filed last week by Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran of Miami, is similar to a bill (SB 236), filed in September by Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat from Plantation. Under the proposal, a restaurant that purchases and installs a baby-changing table could receive a tax credit equal to the cost of the table or $300, whichever is less.

— STATEWIDE —

DACA’s economic hit to Florida looms large, proponents say” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics –Proponents of the Obama-era program say its demise could mean a $1.5 billion blow to Florida’s economy. If Congress does not pass a replacement for DACA by March — a top priority for Democrats before the year’s end — the Trump administration will begin to wither away protections that shield some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from immediate deportation, including an estimated 372,000 in Florida. According to the left-leaning Center for American Progress, 87 percent of DACA recipients in the state are in the workforce. If the program goes away, so would their legal work permits and the tax dollars they contribute to government coffers.

Florida paid millions settling harassment cases” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Taxpayers have paid more than $11 million in the past 30 years to settle more than 300 cases that alleged that state workers were sexually harassed, or forced to work in a hostile work environment. Amounts ranged in size from a $5,500 payment to a Florida State University student who alleged harassment from a supervisor to a $1.3 million payment to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by nurses who worked at state prisons. The report detailed only one payment made to settle an allegation made by a legislative employee, back in the 90s. But the report does not include a $47,000 secret payment made to a legislative analyst in 1988 to keep her from filing a lawsuit against a powerful state legislator. That case never went to court, but became public after a grand jury released details, which ultimately resulted in a reprimand against the legislator. Since 1987 the state has paid more than $74 million to settle nearly 2,100 employment related claims including the more than 300 sexual harassment claims.

Rick Scott visits Tampa to push his education plan” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott made a brief stop at Tampa’s Mitchell Elementary School, seeking to generate additional support for his “record” education funding plan in advance of the looming 2018 legislative session … Scott talked about his effort to increase per-student spending by $200, as part of a plan to bring Florida’s public education budget to its highest dollar amount ever. He encouraged the small audience of school district and other area education leaders, as well as those watching news reports, to do their part if they back his ideas. “We’ve got to make sure we’re all focused,” Scott said. “Talk to your House and Senate members. I can advocate for this budget, but they actually pass the budget.”

Gov. Rick Scott received a few smiles on Monday as he highlighted the more than $21.4 billion in K-12 funding in his proposed budget at Mitchell Elementary School in Tampa.

Tweet, tweet:

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will visit Kissimmee to highlight money for K-12 education investments in his proposed budget. News conference begins 2 p.m. at Kissimmee Elementary School, 3700 W. Donegan Ave. in Kissimmee.

Textbook challenges grow in Florida under new law” via Terry Spencer of the Associated Press – Under a bill passed by the Legislature this year, any district resident — regardless of whether they have a child in school — can now challenge material as pornographic, biased, inaccurate or a violation of state law and get a hearing before an outside mediator. The mediator advises the local school board, whose decision is final. Previously, challenges could only be made by parents to the school or district. There was also no mediator and fewer mandates. Districts must now also post online a list of all new books and material by grade level to make monitoring easier. The Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group, pushed for the change, arguing that many districts ignored challenges or heard them with stacked committees, and didn’t consider residents who don’t have children in the schools. Members say boards rejected complaints over sexually explicit novels like Toni Morrison‘s “The Bluest Eyes” being issued to middle school students. They also don’t believe evolution and global warming should be taught without students hearing counterarguments.

Constitution revision would allow retroactive criminal law changes” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Constitution Revision Commission Proposal 20 would repeal Article X, section 9 of the Florida Constitution, which dates back to 1885. Called the “Savings Clause,” the law prohibits the Florida Legislature from applying reduced sentencing requirements and other criminal law changes to people who committed crimes before the new laws went into effect. An example is CS/HB 135, which eliminated the requirement for minimum prison sentences for people convicted of aggravated assault under various circumstances, including with firearms. With the Savings Clause, anyone who committed such assaults before CS/HB 135 went into effect still faced the old minimum sentences, even if they were charged and tried long after the bill was enacted. A repeal of the cause, as proposed by CRC Proposal 20, could allow those defendants to face sentences under the lighter guidelines of the new law.

Medical malpractice records battle brews” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – Voters more than decade ago overwhelmingly agreed that what are known as “adverse medical-incident reports” should be made available to patients, but now there’s a move underway in Tallahassee to limit access to them. Tim Cerio, a member of the state Constitution Revision Commission and former general counsel to Gov. Scott, has filed a proposal that would amend the state Constitution to place limits on what types of records could be used in lawsuits filed against doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. The proposal would make it clear that access to adverse medical-incident reports does not “abrogate attorney-client communications or work product privileges for patients, health care providers, or health care facilities.” Moreover, the amendment would exclude from adverse incident reports documents that are “protected by federal laws or regulations relating to patient safety quality improvement.” Cerio said he doesn’t want to thwart the public’s access to the records, which play a key role in medical malpractice cases, and said he is considering altering his proposal to narrow it.

Happening today — The Florida Chamber Foundation holds its inaugural Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity Summit, where Florida’s business community will lead discussions around understanding poverty in Florida and how businesses can help create economic prosperity for all Floridians … Event begins 10:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel, N. Ashley Dr. in Tampa. The summit will also be live streamed at FloridaChamber.com/ProsperitySummitLive.

Rest in peace – “Jefferson County Sheriff David Hobbs passes away” via Sascha Cordner of WFSU – In addition to his role as sheriff, Hobbs has served in various law enforcement roles, including the Florida Highway Patrol for 11 years. He’s been Jefferson County Sheriff since 2004 and has been re-elected since. Attorney General Bondi released a statement, following Hobbs’ death. She says she remembers the former U.S. Marine Corps vet as a devoted lawman and a friend.

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— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Bill Nelson for governor? Nah” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — In announcing he would not run for governor as a Democrat, John Morgan said Sen. Nelson should. But that’s not going to happen. “Nelson is running for re-election,” a spokesman flatly says. Morgan suggested Nelson would be “happier” as governor and is the Democrats’ best chance. “In the Senate he accomplishes nothing,” he told POLITICO. “As governor, he could have a legacy.” Currently, Nelson is the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee and second on Armed Services.

Bill Nelson for Florida Governor? Nope, he says.

Florida GOP to appeal $110,000 fine tied to campaign finances” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — The head of the Republican Party of Florida, Blaise Ingoglia, is appealing $110,000 in fines the party accrued for not filing state campaign finance reports on time. The reports are tied to the House District 116 Special Election, which state Rep. Daniel Perez won with the help of $30,950 in contributions from the party. The party is appealing the hefty fine because it claims it did not receive any notification from the Division of Elections that it had not yet filed its report when it was due Sept. 22. A hearing on this matter will be at the Capitol on Nov. 28.

Union County Sheriff endorses Ashley Moody for AG — Union County Sheriff Brad Whitehead is backing Moody for Attorney General. “Like me, Ashley Moody follows a long family tradition in service to the rule of law,” Whitehead said. “Her background as a prosecutor and judge and her passion for justice set her apart. Florida needs the continued leadership of a strong conservative experienced Attorney General and I am honored to support Ashley Moody.”

With or without Ron DeSantis, race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District will heat up” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – What does 2018 hold? Even with the seat not open at this point, jockeying — and pushback — have begun for candidates. The field of potential candidates in the post-DeSantis era includes a number of compelling names on both sides of the aisle. One potential GOP hopeful, former Special Forces Lt. Mike Waltz, already is taking heat from a St. Augustine Republican activist named Bob Smith. Waltz … has an impressive resume with data points that took him far beyond Northeast Florida, including stints as Vice President Dick Cheney’s senior adviser for South Asia and Counterterrorism and director for Afghanistan policy within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. An email Smith sent this weekend eschews those details, instead spotlighting a video that Waltz made during the 2016 presidential primaries for the American Future Fund. Waltz excoriated President Donald Trump, who did not serve in the military, for “never having served this country a day in his life.” “All Donald Trump has served is himself,” Waltz said. “Don’t let Donald Trump fool you. Look into his record, and stop Trump now.”

In FEC lawsuit, David Rivera blames straw candidate for not disclosing him as donor” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Rivera says that he did nothing wrong as part of a 2012 campaign finance scheme, blaming lies by the straw candidate federal prosecutors say he helped prop up. The protracted legal saga that has led to jail time for two people is now the subject of an FEC lawsuit that says Rivera illegally paid vendors to help Democratic congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad in his failed primary run against Joe Garcia. The scheme involved recruiting Sternad as a straw candidate used to weaken Garcia, a longtime political rival of Rivera. Garcia went on to win the race. The FEC filed its lawsuit after federal prosecutors declined to file charges against Rivera. His two co-conspirators — Sternad and GOP operative Ana Alliegro — both served jail time as part of the scheme. In its lawsuit, the FEC identified nearly $70,000 that Rivera secretly gave to Sternad’s campaign.

David Rivera says it’s not his fault his name was not mentioned in financial disclosure forms.

Nancy Ann Texeira to lead Senate GOP fundraising team” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Senate President-designate Bill Galvano announced Monday that Texeira would oversee next year’s fundraising efforts for the main committee supporting GOP state Senate campaigns. Texeira had done consulting work in the past for the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee including during the last quarter when it raised more than $3.2 million. “Nancy has consulted on both sides of the aisle, which gives her unique perspective and experience that I believe will help us meet and exceed our fundraising goals,” Galvano said.

Terry Power will challenge Jamie Grant in HD 64 primary” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Power, a 59-year-old Oldsmar-based certified financial planner, is launching a 2018 primary challenge against House District 64 incumbent Grant. “I’m running for the Florida House because I am the best candidate in the race to serve the residents of our District,” the Republican said in a statement released Sunday. “I’ll let the voters decide how corrupt, unethical, and ineffective my primary opponent is, as a legislator, and whether he needs to find another line of work outside of Tallahassee.” Grant was cleared in 2014 of ethics violations regarding his involvement in a project to bring high-tech jobs to a rural Florida county.

Happening Wednesday — The Sarasota County Medical Society hosts a fundraiser for state Rep. Julio Gonzalez from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Sarasota County Medical Society headquarters, 4153 Clark Road in Sarasota.

— A WARNING FOR DEMS EYEING SD 24 —

After the somewhat surprising success of Rick Kriseman, who edged out former Mayor Rick Baker, Florida Democrats are starting to think a “blue wave” will give them a legitimate shot at Jeff Brandes, the incumbent Republican in SD 24.

They may have to rethink that strategy … first, a few facts.

For Democrats looking to unseat Jeff Brandes in SD 24, be warned.

— Republicans make up 38 percent of SD 24, and hold a five-point advantage over Democrats (33 percent), while ‘Other’ and no-party-affiliated voters make up the rest (29 percent). Republicans make up 38 percent of SD 24, and hold a five-point advantage over Democrats (33 percent), while ‘Other’ and no-party-affiliated voters make up the rest (29 percent).

— Republicans hold a 5 percent registration advantage over Democrats in SD 24 but outperform them by much higher numbers. In the 2014 Governor’s race, Republicans turned out +9 over Democrats, giving Brandes a victory by nearly 14 percent.

— As a family man with four young children (including a newly adopted daughter), an Iraq War Veteran, businessman and Republican who leans libertarian, Brandes appeals to a Republican base as a fiscal conservative. He is a staunch believer in limited government and Second Amendment rights.

— But even more importantly, especially to a broader electorate: Brandes isn’t afraid to shake things up in Tallahassee.

— OPINIONS —

Michelle Dennard: Growing apprenticeships will strengthen economy” via Florida Politics — Yet we know we still have construction companies in need of skilled workers, hospitals in need of health care technicians and manufacturers in need of production technicians. The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® data series found more than 46,000 health care openings in Florida in September. In the same month, we had more than 64,000 construction jobs open, 42,000 information technology positions available, and more than 9,000 manufacturing jobs open. Apprenticeships are a great way to get tomorrow’s talent ready for the demand we know is here, and constantly growing. We believe this renewed focus and the fresh insights of industry, education and workforce experts will further strengthen and diversify Florida’s already robust economy. The collaboration and commitment to build and grow strong apprenticeship programs throughout our state is a testament to Florida’s leadership on a critical national issue.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley leaving agencyWiley announced Monday he was taking a new position as Chief Conservation Officer of Ducks Unlimited, a national organization “with a mission to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl as well as other wildlife and people.” He’ll start in January. Wiley’s departure follows that of Brian Yablonski, FWC Chairman, who is also starting a new job in January as Executive Director of the Property and Environment Research Center, a national conservation research institute in Bozeman, Montana. Wiley, a Certified Wildlife Biologist, began his service in 1987 to the then-named Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. “A big part of my heart will always be in Florida with my FWC family,” he said in a statement. “I know this agency will continue to do great things for fish and wildlife conservation and the people of Florida.”

Nick Wiley is leaving the FWC to become Chief Conservation Officer of Ducks Unlimited.

Appointed Patrick Kilbane and Giselle Carson to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority; Sheldon Suga and Stephanie Scuderi to the Florida Keys Community College District board of trustees.

Appointed – Judge Michael Scott Williams to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court; Cynthia Sullivan Oster to the Hillsborough County Court.

— ALOE —

Florida State student who died after frat party remembered” via The Associated Press – Some 500 people attended a memorial service for a Florida State University fraternity pledge whose death after a party led to the indefinite interim suspension of all Greek life on campus. Family, friends and former classmates attended the service at Pompano Beach High School to honor 20-year-old Andrew Coffey. Coffee attended a Nov. 3 off-campus party and was found unresponsive hours later. Authorities still haven’t determined his cause of death but believe alcohol may have been involved. After his death, FSU president John Thrashersuspended Greek activity, saying time is needed to “review and reflect on the loss of a young life and to implement serious changes.”

Florida gas prices dip slightly over Thanksgiving” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — According to a report from AAA released, gas prices across the Sunshine State averaged $2.46 per gallon. The national average stood at $2.51 per gallon. At the start of last week, the average price stood at $2.49 per gallon. Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA and the Auto Club Group, said he expected gas prices to increase slightly in Florida over the next week as OPEC countries and other oil producing nations meet to discuss reducing their output by 1.8 million barrels a day. The West Palm Beach-Boca Raton market has the most expensive gas in Florida with motorists paying an average of $2.58 per gallon followed by Miami, where the average stood at $2.56 per gallon, and Homosassa Springs which had an average of $2.54 per gallon. Pensacola had the least expensive gas at $2.37 per gallon followed by Jacksonville where the average was $2.40 per gallon.

Adam Putnam reminds Floridians to visit Check-A-Charity before #GivingTuesday.

Check-A-Charity before donating this Giving Tuesday, Adam Putnam says — The state’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering tips to help Floridians make the most of their charitable contributions in advance of Giving Tuesday, nationally celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. That includes using the department’s Check-A-Charity tool at FloridaConsumerHelp.com to view a charity’s financial information, how contributions are being spent and current registration status. Residents also can call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). Putnam’s department is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. “All charities soliciting within Florida, excluding religious, educational, political and governmental agencies, are required to register and file financial information with the department,” according to a Monday news release. “If a professional solicitor is requesting a donation on behalf of a charity, the solicitor also must be registered with the department and should be able to provide their registration number.”

Happy birthday to Rebecaa De La Rosa and Joel Searby.

Last Call for 11.27.17 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

A requirement to use a contentious employment verification system, one that critics say is riddled with inaccuracies, will be considered to become part of the state constitution.

On Tuesday, the General Provisions Committee of the Constitution Revision Commission will consider a proposed constitutional amendment to require the use of that system, called E-Verify.

The proposal was filed by Commissioner Rich Newsome, appointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who opposes sanctuary city policies in the state.

E-Verify was launched more than a decade ago to give an idea of how a national checking system might function under comprehensive immigration reform.

Six years ago, Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order mandating employers across the state use a federal electronic verification system to identify undocumented workers.

The American Civil Liberties Union, however, says inaccuracies in the system could present “enormous privacy and security risks” for immigrants currently cleared to work.

Under current rules, if E-Verify flags someone as unauthorized, that person has eight days to appeal the decision. Otherwise, an employer would be required to fire that employee.

Those who support the proposal say it would restore “the American Dream for the working poor of Florida” by not allowing illegal workers to take their jobs.

Tuesday’s CRC hearing is 1:30 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

Evening Reads

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to open-carry ban” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

The most expensive U.S. hurricane season ever: By the numbers” via Brian Sullivan of Bloomberg

The next threat for coastal cities is flood insurance reform” via Will Doig of Next City

Rick Scott visits Tampa to push his education plan” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

As sexual harassment rocks Washington, Ron DeSantis joins calls to bar settlements with taxpayer dollars” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida GOP to appeal $110,000 fine tied to campaign finances” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics

Battle over public notices heating up again” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Miami family sues city over toxic soil in yard after mom dies of cancer” via Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times

Paige Carter-Smith on Nopetro’s payroll during CNG deal with city” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Florida State student who died after frat party remembered” via Associated Press

Quote of the Day

“These men put their lives on the line to defend our families and our freedom. As a Navy veteran myself, I honor their sacrifice and I am praying for their loved ones as they mourn.” — Gov. Rick Scott on the deaths of sailors who perished after a transport plane crashed in the Philippine Sea last week.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, is scheduled to speak to the Downtown Business Professional Group. That’s at 7 a.m., The River Club, 1 Independent Dr., Jacksonville.

The Florida Elections Commission is scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The State Board of Education will take up a number of issues, including “turnaround option plans” for schools in Bradford, Duval and Escambia counties. That’s at 9 a.m., Lake-Sumter State College, Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center, Magnolia Room, 9501 U.S. 441, Leesburg.

The Executive Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will take up a proposal to revamp the duties of the state chief financial officer. That’s at 9 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The state Task Force on Transportation Disadvantaged is scheduled to meet. Participants will include Barbara Palmer, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

The Florida Chamber Foundation will hold the “Less Poverty Through More Prosperity Summit,” with speakers expected to include Sen. Jeff Brandes, former House Speaker Will Weatherford and Michelle Dennard, president and CEO of CareerSource Florida. That’s at 10 a.m., Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel, 200 North Ashley Dr., Tampa.

Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican, is scheduled to speak to the Tiger Bay Club of Polk County. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Bartow Civic Center, 2250 South Floral Ave., Bartow.

The Judicial Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will take up proposals, including one to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges to 75, up from the current 70, and another to expand the filing of environmental lawsuits. That’s at 1 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The General Provisions Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will consider a series of proposals, including a measure to require Florida businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to prevent the hiring of undocumented immigrants. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

Jason Montgomery, a candidate in Polk County’s House District 40, is expected to speak to the Rainbow Ridge LGBTA Democratic Caucus of Polk County. That’s at 6:30 p.m., West Caribbean Cuban Restaurant, 2215 South Combee Road, Lakeland.

 

Battle over public notices heating up again

Foxes and hen houses and public notices, oh my.

The Gannett newspaper chain’s Florida properties, or “USA Today Network-Florida” as they like to be called, are raising the alarm once again over public notices, this time with a full-color, half-page ad.

Florida law ensures Old Media a monopoly by requiring meeting notices and other legal notices, for example, to be advertised in print.

Under state statute, such ads must run in a newspaper published at least once a week and considered a county’s publication of record.

New Media has been giving newspapers a run for the money since 2012, when state lawmakers turned back a Republican-backed measure to move legal notices of foreclosures from print to the internet, thereby breaking the decades-long exclusivity.

This ‘food fight’ has bubbled up in some form every year since, and Gannett seemingly is taking a preemptive strike for the 2018 Legislative Session.

“Some officials want to move notices from newspapers to government-run websites, where they may not be easily found,” says the ad, which ran over the Thanksgiving weekend in the Tallahassee Democrat.

“This is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.” (I expect Gannett fancies itself the defending rooster in the ad, staring down the wily fox.)

As I said earlier this year, “For print media, publishing legal notices is one of the last remaining cash cows, something the GOP-led Legislature knows well. But lawmakers are not ready—or willing—to deregulate the newspaper industry and modernize the legal/public notices system.

“… But simply moving public notices from published newspapers to government-sponsored sites is not the answer,” I wrote. “The right move is to break the monopoly (newspapers) have on legal notices, expanding the ability to post legal notices to any recognized news outlet, either print or online-only.”

Gannett has taken its shot across the bow. Now let’s see who returns fire.

Will the opponents of Brett Doster’s clients weaponize his connection to Roy Moore?

Over the last decade, there have been few Florida GOP political consultants as successful as Brett Doster.

Official campaign finance reports link him and his firm, Front Line Strategies, to more than a dozen winning statewide or legislative campaigns, including that of Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Even if state records did not show which candidates are clients of Doster and FLS, the biannual press release the firm sends congratulating itself on its clients’ victories would still offer at least a glance of the roster.

Beyond those campaigns, there is the extensive work Doster and his firm does for/or directs on behalf of corporate clients and political committees. Those ties are more difficult to peg, but they are extensive.

With his family-first attitude and soft Southern drawl, Doster is a well-liked and respected member of Florida’s elite political consulting class. In fact, Florida Politics has previously recognized Doster as “one of the brightest minds in Florida politics.

However, Doster’s work for Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore has many of his colleagues (and competitors) wondering if his affiliation with Moore will be weaponized against his Florida clients.

With multiple accusers emerging from decades ago to depict Moore as aggressively pursuing underaged women, to such a degree that he was banned from an Alabama mall, Moore is in deep political trouble.

Doster has dismissed the allegations against his client as false: “Interesting how the GOP establishment is lining up with Libs to attack before weighing evidence. Almost like they were colluding – as usual. They’ll be proven wrong, and will win in 4 weeks,” Doster tweeted earlier this month.

Florida Politics has previously reported about how rival consultants of Doster’s are surprised that he continues to work for Moore, who has not only become persona non grata in the GOP, but who also has failed to offer convincing responses to the very detailed narratives put forth by Moore’s accusers.

But now, as Moore’ situation becomes a Sophie’s Choice for Republicans — either see him lose to a Democrat or serve as an anchor on the Republican brand — some of the consultants who were once simply surprised at Doster’s fealty to Moore now see an opportunity to hang Doster’s connection to Moore around the necks of Doster’s opponents.

Until recently it was an unspoken rule among those in the political consulting class that they did not attack each other through their clients’ campaigns. But, as we saw in the special election in House District 58 special election, making an issue of a campaign’s consultants is now fair game.

If a consultant can become the subject of a negative mailer because he is at the center of several political committees, how can Doster not expect his work for Moore to be used against his roster of Florida clients?

“Brett has wildly hurt his business here,” said one Republican consultant based in Tallahassee who has worked with him in the past.

While Doster still has an expansive list of Florida clients — Sens. Dennis Baxley and Doug Broxson, Reps. Manny Diaz, MaryLynn Magar, Charlie Stone, and Marlene O’Toole among them — it is interesting to note that FLS is no longer the consultant of record for Jay Fants bid for Attorney General or Matt Spritz’ campaign for House District 89

Florida Politics is told that those de-listings were not connected to Doster’s work for Moore and had more to do with Frank Terraferma‘s relocation to Idaho, however it’s never a good thing to be losing home-state clients while working for an out-of-state candidate.

With President Donald Trump all but endorsing Moore over the holiday weekend, it is still very much possible for Moore to pull out a victory in two weeks when Alabama voters head to the polls. But even if he wins, it may end up costing traditional Republicans like Doster a great deal.

America needs an opioid czar, and Pam Bondi would be perfect

In the fight to stem the nation’s opioid epidemic, President Donald Trump‘s drug commission – with Attorney General Pam Bondi as a member – came up with more than 50 ideas, involving a dozen federal agencies.

Nevertheless, Sam Baker of Axios notes, without a national “drug czar,” there is no one directing the effort – and no accountability for its progress (or lack thereof).

Although a policy-based “czar” can be a “bit of a gimmick” at times, Baker says success will be achieved only when one person has the broad authority to lead a far-reaching national opioid strategy.

And Bondi would be the perfect person for the job.

Yale public health professor David Fiellin tells Axios: “It seems it would be worthwhile to have a separate individual that’s focused exclusively on the tasks that are required to fight the current epidemic.” Fiellin led the task force to develop Connecticut’s strategy for the opioid epidemic.

Among the highlights of Bondi’s seven-year career as Attorney General was a widespread no-nonsense crackdown of pill mills and addiction across the state. During that time, Florida shuttered clinics where doctors illegally prescribed oxycodone and other opioids. It was in the shadow of those successes that helped ensure her re-election in 2014.

Who better than Bondi, a longtime Trump supporter, to be drug czar?

While the Office of National Drug Control Policy has a lot on its plate, no director has yet been put up for Senate confirmation. Time is running out; with no one in charge, the problem is only getting worse.

The country needs a drug czar right now. And this point, Bondi – with her extensive knowledge and experience on the issue – would be an excellent fit.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.27.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

The leftovers still cram your refrigerator, the gifts you bought on Black Friday are stashed away, and your credit card is ready for more use on Cyber Monday. But the high jinks in Florida politics don’t take a timeout for the mall. Here are ten state political stories you may have missed:

In no particular order, here are the top state political stories you may have missed:

John Morgan: I’m leaving Democratic Party, Bill Nelson should run for governorvia Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Morgan tossed a bomb Friday into the 2018 political landscape, saying in a post-Thanksgiving message he is leaving the Democratic Party, and that Democratic Sen. Nelson should not run for re-election, but rather seek the governor’s mansion so he can leave a ‘legacy.’ … Morgan did not close the door on the idea of running for governor himself — a notion supported by many in his party — but said in his message, if he did, he would do so as an independent. … In follow-up text messages … Morgan confirmed he was not saying he would not run for governor, ‘just not as a Dem,’ he said. … ‘I believe [Nelson] should run for governor. He is the Dem’s best chance and he would be happier there,’ Morgan wrote.

John Morgan will not be seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida Governor, but he hasn’t closed the door (completely) on a run as an independent.

Doubts linger after Rick Scott pitches biggest budget” via Reuters — After deep cuts in spending for Florida schools and other public programs following the Great Recession, outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott this month proposed an $87.4 billion budget he says boosts spending on some depleted services to record levels. Despite Scott’s meaty 2018-2019 budget recommendation, which is about $2.4 billion above current spending, advocates for Florida public education, environment and affordable housing remained skeptical the new plan would go far enough. “It doesn’t move Florida (schools) out from the bottom when compared to other states,” said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association, the state’s teachers union.

Scott files motion to disqualify Justice Barbara Pariente from ruling in case” via Capitol News Service — Scott wants a Supreme Court Justice removed from a case which will decide whether the governor has the authority to appoint three new justices before he leaves office. The case, which is a constitutional battle between the governor and the League of Women Voters, has been argued before the state’s highest court. Scott filed a motion to have Justice Barbara Pariente disqualified from the case, claiming comments made by the Justice caught on a live microphone suggest bias.

Richard Corcoran says he backs bulk of Joe Negron’s higher ed agenda, new board for college system” via POLITICO Florida — Despite grumblings from his House higher ed chair and budget officers, Florida House Speaker Corcoran expressed broad support for the bulk of the higher education agenda laid out this year by his Senate counterpart … In a recent interview with POLITICO, Corcoran said he thought the broader higher ed bill that (Joe) Negron was pushing last year “was an excellent bill.” And this year, he said Negron is “going down a good path again, it’s an excellent bill,” adding that “we share the same educational philosophy from pre-K to Ph.D.”

With its top leaders gone, Florida Democratic Party’s focus turns to chair election” via Florida Politics — In one day, the Florida Democratic Party lost its two top leaders. Chair Stephen Bittel and Sally Boynton Brown, the state party’s president, submitted their resignation letters on Monday and the party accepted. “We are looking forward to getting back to the important work of turning Florida blue,” Johanna Cervone, the party’s spokesperson, said in a statement. Boynton Brown announced she would step down a day after she defended Bittel following reports that he created a hostile environment for women in the workplace.

Stephen Bittel and Sally Boynton Brown.

Miami nursery sues to demand Florida allow more medical pot farms” via Miami New Times After voters overwhelmingly legalized medical marijuana a year ago, Florida was supposed to issue ten new pot-growing licenses to nurseries by October 3. But the state has dragged its feet in implementing nearly every aspect of the law, from issuing cards to patients to passing basic regulations on who can smoke cannabis and when they can smoke it. Now it’s farmers’ turn to be upset with Tallahassee. The state blew its deadline to issue those new weed-growing licenses, and today a Miami-Dade-based grower, Bill’s Nursery, sued the state in federal court to demand the Department of Health (DOH) follow its own rules.

12 nursing home deaths in Hollywood ruled as homicides” via Tonya Alanez and Erika Pesantes of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — “Who gets charged is part of the continuing investigation,” said Miranda Grossman, a spokeswoman for the Hollywood Police Department. “We don’t have a timeline of when there would be charges at this point.” The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills was evacuated Sept. 13 when eight elderly residents died in quick succession after the home lost power to its central air conditioning and overheated. Another six died in subsequent weeks. Erika Navarro, the granddaughter of Cecilia Franco, 90, and Miguel Antonio Franco, 92, said the medical examiner’s ruling confirms what she already knew — that they were meant to live longer. And on the eve of Thanksgiving, she learned through a reporter that her grandparents did, in fact, die from heat exposure.

End of federal protection threatens thousands of SWFL Haitians with deportation” via Naples Daily News — The Rev. Jean Renaud Paul hadn’t heard the news before his cellphone buzzed with a text message late Monday night. “Trump ended TPS,” the message read, referring to temporary protected status. President Donald Trump and his administration nixed a federal program that allowed roughly 59,000 Haitians to settle in the U.S. after an earthquake devastated their country in 2010. The decision demands that thousands of Haitians living in Southwest Florida with temporary protected status, including members of Paul’s Naples New Haitian Church of the Nazarene, return to Haiti by July 2019 or face deportation.

Pastor Jean Paul and his wife, Marie Jolene Paul. (Photo via Naples Daily News.)

Florida crime rate drops despite increase in rapes” via The Associated Press — Florida’s crime rate is dropping, but the number of rapes is growing. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Tuesday released a report that analyzed reported crimes in the first six months of the year. The good news in the report showed that Florida’s crime volume dropped two percent compared to the same time period in 2016. But the bad news is that the number of rapes jumped up 8.1 percent from 3,769 to 4,073.

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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Member projects top $1 billion” via the News Service of Florida — Riding high atop the wish list is Rep. Bobby Payne, who offered 17 proposals totaling more than $105 million. Last week, House members proposed 310 separate projects, worth more than a half-million dollars, while in Tallahassee for a pre-session committee week. Being away from the Capitol for the Thanksgiving holiday didn’t slow down the requests, even though most of the proposals won’t make it very far. On Monday and Tuesday, 159 projects, collectively worth $267 million, were filed. As of Wednesday morning, House members had created a 673-strong project list for the session. But the proposals will have to compete with diminishing revenue, rising health care and education costs, and the need to cover Hurricane Irma repairs and an influx of Puerto Rican evacuees from Hurricane Maria. House Speaker Corcoran has made clear that the priority will be on relief related to Irma, which caused billions of dollars in damage to the state.

Rob Bradley is not closing the door on a fracking ban in 2018.

Rob Bradley offers glimmer of hope for fracking ban via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Bradley, recently was named chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also leads the chamber’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. That’s the first committee of reference for Sen. Dana Young’s bill (SB 462) to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial drilling technique that involves shooting water and chemicals deep underground. This is the second year Young has run a fracking ban … And this upcoming Session’s Senate measure has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. When asked whether he would hear the bill, Bradley offered a terse text-message response: “No final decisions have been made on future agendas.” But that was enough to steel Young as to her bill’s chances. “My good friend Sen. Bradley has just moved into a major role as Appropriations Chair, and I want to give him all the time and flexibility he needs to consider the bills on his environmental policy agenda,” she told Florida Politics.

Proposal would make it harder to change constitution” via the News Service of Florida — The proposal (SJR 978), filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, would increase the threshold for voter approval of constitutional amendments. Currently, 60 percent of voters need to approve amendments. Baxley’s proposal would increase that required number to two-thirds. Baxley’s proposal itself would require a change to the Constitution. If approved during the upcoming legislative session, it would go on the November 2018 ballot. Rep. Rick Roth has filed an identical proposal (HJR 65) in the House.

Drinking, advertising — and ‘extortion’? Beer bill back for 2018” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Legislation that critics said would allow theme parks to “extort” advertising dollars from beer companies has been refiled for the 2018 Legislative Session. The bills (HB 775, SB 822), filed by Republicans Rep. Mike La Rosa of St. Cloud and Sen. Travis Hutson of Elkton, generally would allow “cooperative” advertising in theme parks. Hutson, chair of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, sponsored the language in the previous Session … Last year’s measures grew contentious, however, when beer industry representatives started privately complaining of fears they’d be “extorted by the theme parks.”

A new bill filed for 2018 would allow ‘cooperative’ beer advertising in Florida theme parks.

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— LATEST ON FLA. DEM. CHAIR RACE —

Florida Democratic Party chair race has an all-female cast Three women are vying for the chairmanship of the state’s Democratic Party, now that Stephen Bittel has been officially ousted from office. Palm Beach County Democratic Chair Terrie Rizzo, Hillsborough County State Committeewoman Alma Gonzalez and Monica Russo, the current president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Florida have all entered the race to replace Bittel. Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Stacey Patel is mulling a run as well. The election will be Dec. 9 and so far, Rizzo holds an early lead with 22 endorsements. Russo, a prominent Democrat who under party rules would not be allowed to run because she is not a local elected official, wants those rules expanded. “Currently, the procedure to elect our next chair is closed and exclusive. We need an open process that reflects who we are as Democrats — inclusive and welcoming to all Floridian,” Russo said.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Philip Levine PAC launches new bilingual TV ad — All About Florida, announced its first bilingual television ad, “Siempre.” The ad will air for five weeks in select markets around Florida. The bilingual ad highlights the former Mayor’s relief trip to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, where he was one of the first to deliver thousands of necessary supplies and coordinated delivery with the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz: “Washington politicians pointed fingers at each other; I pointed a cargo plane filled with lifesaving supplies to San Juan. I said we will never turn our back on the people of Puerto Rico — I meant it and I always will. We will always be with Puerto Rico.”

— “Can a Jew from liberal Miami Beach be Florida’s next governor? Philip Levine is betting yes” via Amy Sherman for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jay Fant says he’ll create new position to handle harassment” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Fant, a Jacksonville Republican running for Attorney General in 2018, says he will create a “Confidential Investigator and Ethics Officer” to deal with sexual harassment complaints if elected. The new position would meet “confidentially” with those who claim harassment by a “public official.” Any information developed would be referred to law enforcement or the Florida Commission on Ethics, he said.

Happening Thursday:

Republican field to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thins as Raquel Regalado bows out” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Regalado announced her decision to bow out of the race in a letter … saying she was disenchanted with the “ineffective and circuslike” atmosphere around the highly polarized federal government. She said she will “continue to fight for our community, especially for the most vulnerable among us. But for now, I will do so as a private citizen” … “I refuse to compromise my values and beliefs; I refuse to accept disrespect, intolerance and vulgarity as our new norm and I refuse to be part of this two-party pantomime,” Regalado wrote. “I am and will remain a moderate voice.”

First in Sunburn – Lori Berman collects over 25 Democratic endorsements for SD 31 special election – State Rep. Berman of Palm Beach County received endorsements from Congressmen Ted Deutch, Patrick Murphy and Robert Wexler, both Democratic Palm Beach County Sens. Kevin Rader and Bobby Powell, Sens. Linda Stewart, Annette Taddeo, and Victor Torres as well as Representatives including House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, House Democratic Policy Chairs Evan Jenne and Cynthia Stafford, Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Bobby DuBose, Representative Matt Willhite and Reps. Robert Asencio, Loranne Ausley, Kamia Brown, John Cortes, Tracie Davis, Ben Diamond, Joseph Geller, Patrick Henry, Shevrin Jones, Amy Mercado, Barrington Russell, Sean Shaw, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Richard Stark and Barbara Watson.

Anna Eskamani gets the nod from Ruth’s List Florida.

Ruth’s List Florida backs Anna Eskamani in HD 47 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “Anna is a lifelong advocate for reproductive health and women’s rights. She is a dynamic leader who has already proven herself to be a passionate and effective advocate,” Ruth’s List Florida Executive Director Marley Wilkes stated in a news release … “The Ruth’s List community — now tens of thousands of members strong – is excited to support her candidacy.” The endorsement is a natural fit. Ruth’s List promotes Democratic women for office. Eskamani, of Orlando, faces Republican Stockton Reeves in a quest to replace Republican state Rep. Mike Miller, who is running for Congress rather than re-election.

Ross Spano endorses Joe Wicker as successor for HD 59 — Rep. Spano is endorsing Republican businessmen and veteran Wicker to succeed him in the Florida House. “I can think of no better candidate … Joe is a common-sense conservative and patriot to our nation. As a small-business owner, Joe knows exactly how we can grow Florida’s economy and provide prosperity for all. As a combat veteran, Joe will continue the work of previous legislators in making Florida the most veteran-friendly state in the country,” Spano said. Wicker currently owns Home Helpers Home Health, an agency servicing the needs of seniors so they can stay independent in their home. He has served as a committee chairman in the Harbor Bay Development District and as a member of the Hillsborough County Citizens Advisory Committee-appointed by Commissioner Al Higginbotham.

Republican Mike Caruso files for open HD 89 seat” via Florida Politics — Caruso, an accountant, opened his campaign account Nov. 16 and announced his bid with a news release. “I am excited to give back to the community that has, so often, given much to me and my family,” Caruso said. “Real, experienced, community-based leadership is needed in Tallahassee more now than ever.” Caruso is currently serving on the Delray Beach Police Advisory Board and the West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition Board, were he additionally co-chairs the WARC Economic Committee. He is also the president of the Villas of Ocean Crest Homeowners Association and Atlantic Grove Condominium Association.

Fourth Republican files to replace termed-out HD 119 Jeanette Nuñez” via Florida Politics — Analeen “Annie” Martinez opened her campaign account Wednesday, joining Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, Enrique Lopez and Bibiana “Bibi” Potestad in what is now a four-way GOP primary for Miami-Dade County seat. Martinez is a committeewoman in the Miami-Dade GOP and currently works as an office coordinator for Florida International University. Lopez, who filed in March, is the current fundraising leader with about $21,000 on hand through the end of October, including $4,000 in loans. However, Potestad has nearly matched his total in half the time.

— STATEWIDE —

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will visit Mitchell Elementary School in Tampa to highlight his proposed investment in K-12 education for the upcoming state budget. News conference begins 9 a.m. at 205 S. Bungalow Park Ave. in Tampa.

Industry to fight proposed constitutional amendment for ‘clean, healthful environment’ ” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, an environmentalist and former mayor of Sewall’s Point who is on the Constitution Revision Commission, says she has submitted a proposal establishing a right to a “clean and healthful environment” in the state Constitution because people are “irked” about politics in Tallahassee. … But Associated Industries of Florida on Tuesday announced it is assembling a legal team to stop the proposal, which the group said said is “dangerously vague” and poses a threat to Florida businesses. The Constitution Revision Commission’s Judicial Committee has scheduled presentations Tuesday on “environmental rights” including the proposal.

State keeps fighting for suspended law requiring 24-hour abortion waiting periods via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Its latest argument included the comparison that if there are waiting periods for cremations and divorces, abortions should have them too. As it stands now, women do not have to follow the 2015 state law, which was signed by Gov. Scott, because the state Supreme Court indefinitely suspended it. But a lawsuit brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union remains pending in Leon County. The ACLU of Florida wants Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to strike down the law completely and deem it unconstitutional, arguing the state’s “paternalistic argument” that women are not capable of making a decision for themselves when they seek the procedure is offensive and should not stand.

Cory Hagwell and Destinee Merrell, accused of killing 3-year-old Adelynn Merrell.

Worst story you’ll read today: “Reports: DCF investigated suspect in 3-year-old’s killing twice since 2009” via Annie Blanks of the NWFDailyNews.com — Florida Department of Children and Family documents show Cory Hagwell, who was charged in the death of 3-year-old Adelynn Merrell Nov. 12, had been flagged by the agency once before in 2009  … Hagwell and another woman were reported to the agency regarding their then-newborn child. The nature of the allegations against the couple were redacted, but an investigator found that neither judicial action nor placement outside the home was required, though intervention services were. According to the report, Hagwell and the unnamed woman were living in Pensacola and were “young” parents, but the investigator noted, “it is not believed that their age affects their ability to care for the child at this time.” Hagwell would have been 21 at the time. The investigator also noted it was their first child, and the child did not have any reported injuries. Neither Hagwell nor the mother had any prior incidents with DCF, and both parents agreed to accept in-home parenting classes. The overall risk to the child was rated as “low” by the investigator, who reported “the parents both spoke highly of the child” and “the parents both work to provide for the needs of the child.” The case was closed Nov. 25, 2009.

It wasn’t my job to disclose secret campaign cash, ex-Miami congressman says” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Facing allegations that he illegally spent nearly $70,000 funding a ringer candidate’s campaign against a Democratic opponent, former Miami Congressman David Rivera asked a judge to toss a federal elections lawsuit, saying that if anybody broke the law it was the guy who took the money. Rivera, in a motion to dismiss, told Judge Robert Scola that even if he did secretly spend $69,426.20 backing the campaign of a political neophyte in a scheme to siphon votes away from a more threatening opponent, that wouldn’t have broken any federal election laws. Rather, Rivera — who denies the allegations — argued it would have been Justin Lamar Sternad, the 2012 primary opponent for Joe Garcia, who violated elections laws by failing to report the money as an “in-kind” contribution. “The candidate was allegedly informed that the ‘in-kind’ contributions were being made by Rivera, but it was the candidate who chose not to disclose Mr. Rivera as the source of the in-kind contribution,” wrote Rivera’s attorney, Roy Kahn. “The failure to properly disclose the true facts on his campaign disclosure forms falls on the shoulders of the candidate, not the donor.”

Political committee spending keeps many details of Lenny Curry’s trips in dark” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union – The Wild West-world of Florida campaign finance law allows Curry to use his political committee to pay for his official travel, as long as he includes at least a small amount of political activity on the trip, like a fundraiser or a strategy session. This allows Curry to keep secret most of the details of trips paid for by the committee. Curry’s political committee, to which donors can contribute in unlimited amounts, is required to disclose only basic contribution and expense transactions, meaning it has nearly total control over what it chooses to disclose about the trips. “It’s a big loophole,” said Ben Wilcox, research director of Integrity Florida, a statewide government-watchdog group. “It’s the opposite in terms of transparency.” Local law also requires public officials to choose the most economical means of travel and lodging available, in theory cutting down on the cost to taxpayers and limiting the comforts of elected office.

Near airport, ride-sharing and co-existing” via Kevin Spears of the Orlando Sentinel – At the edge of Orlando’s airport is a crossroads of Latino culture ready to deliver people from around the world to their vacation dreams. It’s where hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers gather and wait for a ride request. Some call it the “FIFO” lot, for first in, first out. It opened this summer after the airport relented to growing pressure to let ride-share drivers pick up arriving passengers. Previously, they were allowed only to drop off passengers for departing flights. Drivers there may not earn more than others, but they aren’t driving around aimlessly, wasting gas, wearing out their cars. The fare of one airport ride can equal that of several quicker trips in town. On a recent weekday, there was a laid-off exec, a mobile preacher, a college student, job applicants, mothers with kids in school, a retiree with intolerable free time and a construction worker. Full-timers do at least 12 hours a day and part-timers’ half that. They share empanadas, drink cold Wawa coffee from paper cups and glance at the master of their ride-share universe — the app on their phones that displays a number.

Uber fought the law in Miami — and only has to pay half of its $4 million in fines” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Uber ran a thriving, renegade business for two years in Miami-Dade, treating $4 million in county fines as a startup expense as its growing ridership helped pressure lawmakers to change the taxi laws to accommodate the popular ride-hailing option … county commissioners approved a deal letting Uber pay half of the fines levied against its drivers, a settlement that some bashed as unfortunate given the county’s financial straits and the company’s deep pockets. “This is a $50 billion company, worldwide,” said Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. “A $2 million additional allocation is basically a rounding error in their budget. … I really believe they should step up to the plate and pay the full amount.” Uber reached a similar deal with Washington, D.C. last spring.

Trulieve wrestles with the state over vaping medical marijuana.

Vape ‘em if you got ‘em, Trulieve says” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Trulieve this month filed a petition for declaratory statement with the department, which regulates medicinal cannabis through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use. In May, the department told Trulieve to stop selling wire-mesh vape cups filled with whole flower marijuana because they could be too easily opened to get the product inside. Regulators were concerned the marijuana would then be smoked, not vaped … State law allows medical marijuana edibles and vaping, but not smoking. In its latest filing, Trulieve said it asked regulators this July for approval to sell ceramic vaporizer cups filled with ground marijuana flower. The department “did not act on the application within the time allowed … thus (it is) approved by default,” its petition says. A second application to approve a different vaporizer device is similarly being sat on, and the Health Department “informally declined to recognize” the default OK of the first application under state law, according to the petition. The department “has no basis to further delay or deny” its official approval of the vaping equipment, Trulieve says.

UCF kicks off search for new president” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel – The University of Central Florida is embarking on a national search to find its next president, with trustees saying they are looking for a candidate with academic experience who can ‘stand on the shoulders of a giant.’ A 15-member search committee will narrow the applicants to three to five candidates during the next several months and present an unranked list to the university’s Board of Trustees, who are expected to make the final decision by June 30, President John Hitt’s last day. Hitt said last month he plans to retire after more than 25 years at the school. Search committee members, who met for the first time Monday, did not discuss what types of qualifications or background they are seeking from candidates.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Florida leads way as Obamacare enrollment outpaces prior years” via Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — Nationally, more than 2.2 million Americans have signed up for coverage on healthcare.gov through Nov. 18, including nearly 500,000 Floridians, more than any of the 39 states using the federal exchange, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported … Three weeks into the enrollment period, sign-ups for 2018 Affordable Care Act plans are outpacing the prior year despite uncertainty over the law, and even with the ongoing debate in Congress over the repeal of the individual mandate requiring eligible Americans to sign up for coverage or pay a fine. Enrollment ends Dec. 15.

A Miami Republican makes enemies in Washington” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Carlos Curbelo is picking fights. He attacked the NRA for opposing his bill to ban a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatics. He attacked the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, currently made up of all Democrats, for denying his membership application. And he is attacking the Trump administration and fellow Republicans who oppose efforts to combat climate change. These spats give the second-term Republican congressman from Miami ground to criticize both sides of the political spectrum for unyielding partisanship, and they allow Curbelo to deliver a message to his constituents and voters that the right and the left are both responsible for Washington’s dysfunction.

— MOVEMENTS

Doug Holder agrees to settle ethics case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Holder will pay $6,500 in civil penalties to resolve an ethics complaint that he filed “inaccurate” financial disclosures in 2010-14. The Sarasota County Republican agreed to the settlement, which was disclosed by the Florida Commission on Ethics … The deal still must be approved by commissioners at their Dec. 8 meeting. Holder, 50, served in the House 2006-14 and ran unsuccessfully in 2016 to succeed GOP state Sen. Nancy Detert, losing to fellow Republican Greg Steube. Holder is now a lobbyist.

Doug Holder has agreed to pay $6,500 to resolve an ongoing ethics case.

Personnel note: Alexis Lambert lawyers up for #FLCRC” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — “I’ve been hired as the Senior Attorney at the CRC. I’ll be the staff director for the General Provisions committee,” Lambert said … Lambert “got an offer from the Constitution Revision Commission” and just started last week, she said. Her salary is $85,000 a year. “It happened really fast,” Lambert added. Lambert’s most recent position was with the Office of Public Accountability in Jacksonville, a five-year stint in which her acerbic wit was appreciated by media requesting public records through that shop.

Out of office with only $9K to his name, Miami’s former mayor has ‘no regrets’” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — On what would be his last afternoon to enjoy the spacious expanses of the office afforded Miami’s mayor, Tomás Regalado was feeling a bit uncomfortable. After eight years as the resident in chief of the second floor at Dinner Key, the signs were all pointing to the same thing: Time to go. For the first time in more than 21 years, there isn’t a Regalado in elected office in Miami. “It’s like Nixon said,” Regalado quipped when he appeared in the receptionist’s office to greet a reporter. “You won’t have me to kick around anymore.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

David Griffin, David Griffin Consulting: Florida Association of Broadcasters, St. John and Partners

Lila JaberSimone Marseilles, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Associated Industries of Florida

Corinne Mixon, Rutledge Ecenia: Florida Public Advocacy

— ALOE —

Disney has a loyal following in an unexpected place — The Villages” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel – “I think they’re stereotyping us sitting in The Villages in our rocking chairs, waiting to croak,” said Debbie Winters, who started a fan club called Mickey’s Fanatics in 2011. “Disney means a lot to everybody. There is no age limit.” Winters’ club grew to 850 members with a 200-person-long waiting list because there was not enough space in the clubhouse. It has become so popular a second group, the Goofy Villagers, formed last year and has 366 members with a waitlist of nearly 100. The Villages residents laughed about being free of strollers and children throwing tantrums. They moved at their own pace, stopping to eat at a restaurant or admire the details of this fantasy world. “We’ve all been to the park many, many, many times. We don’t have to rush for anything,” said Rich Leopold, 63, who kicked off a meeting this summer at his Goofy Villagers group with the “Pledge of Allegiance” and then “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

Florida teacher gets outpouring of book donations after Irma” via The Associated Press — Eighth-grade language arts teacher Danielle Forbes was upset when she walked into her school after the hurricane and found the 200 books on her shelves missing. Nearly 200 books that had filled her two connected classrooms at Brookside Middle School in Sarasota were simply gone, the shelves practically empty. Staff members who were present during Irma told Forbes that two families had stayed in her classrooms, one of which had just moved to Florida the week of the hurricane. They were so frightened by the impending storm that they took all the books off the shelves for fear that they could fly around the room during the height of the hurricane. Somehow, in all the confusion, Forbes concluded, the books went missing. Forbes did what most anyone would do these days, and posted her experience on Facebook. She shared various photos of her classroom, bookshelves bare, with an anxious message. “Hundreds of novels were taken from my classroom, along with half of my potted plants. I can move the furniture all back into place. But it will take me YEARS to be able to afford to replace those books … This was their space to just feel like they belong for a little bit.” Shortly after she posted the status, two of Forbes’ friends from her middle school years reached out and asked if they could republish the post. Within days, their respective statuses, which did ask for donations, had more than 300 shares on Facebook collectively. At that point, boxes of books started pouring in.

Sarasota teacher gets an outpouring of book donations after Irma.

The old-fashioned mail-order catalog is making a comeback” via Ronald White of the Los Angeles Times — In an era of explosive growth for online buying, retailers and shoppers are showing renewed interest in a humble purchasing device that uses paper instead of pixels. Toys R Us Inc. isn’t alone in putting extra effort into showcasing its snail-mail catalog. For the first time since 2011, Sears Holdings sent out the Sears Wish Book, a holiday tradition for generations of children. Although this year’s catalog has the heft of a magazine rather than the phone-book-size that the department store produced back when it was a retail juggernaut, the offerings are more extensive and searchable online. Consumers are getting fewer catalogs in the mail these days, 9.8 billion in 2016 compared to the 2007 peak at 19.6 billion, but they’re paying more attention to them than ever, according to research by the Data & Marketing Assn. and the U.S. Postal Service. “The ability to stand out in that physical mailbox is easier than it was 10 years ago,” said Neil O’Keefe, senior vice president of content and marketing for the DMA. “Marketers are taking advantage of that and they are beginning to see a positive response.”

Spotted: Boca Raton High School’s “We Dine Together” student club highlighted (again) with an update on CBS Sunday Morning. Florida Politics columnist Florence Snyder also wrote about it earlier this year. From the website: “Last March, we were introduced to Denis Estimon, a high school student in Boca Raton, Florida, who knew all too well the isolation kids face during lunch period when they find themselves eating alone. So he started a club called We Dine Together, dedicated to making sure no student is starved for company. Steve Hartman catches up with Estimon and his mission.”

Happy birthday to two great men in The Process: Ben Pollara of LSN Partners and Mark Zubaly of Southern Campaign Resources. Also celebrating today is veteran journalist and secret friend of the ‘burn John Kennedy and Orlando City Councilman Robert Stuart.

Fourth Republican files to replace termed-out HD 119 Rep. Jeanette Nuñez

A fourth Republican has filed for the House District 119 seat currently held by Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, who faces term limits in 2018.

Analeen “Annie” Martinez opened her campaign account Wednesday, joining Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, Enrique Lopez and BibianaBibiPotestad in what is now a four-way GOP primary for Miami-Dade County seat.

Martinez is a committeewoman in the Miami-Dade GOP and currently works as an office coordinator for Florida International University.

Lopez, who filed in March, is the current fundraising leader with about $21,000 on hand through the end of October, including $4,000 in loans, however Potestad has nearly matched his total in half the time.

Since filing in July the Cuban-born attorney has raised about $19,100, including $3,000 in loans, and has $16,753 on hand.

Fernandez-Barquin, a real estate attorney, filed earlier this month and has not yet had to file a campaign finance report. His and Martinez’ first campaign finance reports, covering November, are due by Dec. 11.

Also running for the seat in 2018 is no-party candidate Daniel Sotelo, who filed earlier this month.

HD 119 covers part of inland Dade, including Kendall, and has a heavy Republican lean.

About 34 percent of the electorate are registered Republicans, compared to a 30 percent share for Democrats, while nearly 35 percent of voters have no party affiliation.

Nuñez has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012, when her only general election competition came from a write-in candidate. In 2014 she bested Democrat Milagro Ruiz with 61 percent of the vote, and last year she took 57 percent of the vote against Democrat Jeniffer Pinell.

Thanksgiving messages from Florida’s elected officials and politicians

A compilation of Thanksgiving message from Florida’s elected officials and politicians:

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, via Twitter:

“Grace and I wish everyone a wonderful #Thanksgiving. And special thanks to all the brave men and women serving in our military – both here and overseas – who sacrifice so much to keep the rest of us safe. We are ALL thankful for your service!”

Gov. Rick Scott:

“As another great year comes to a close, I am so thankful for my family, my wife, Ann, our wonderful daughters, Allison and Jordan and six beautiful grandchildren. I am also so honored and thankful to have the incredible opportunity each and every day to work for Florida families and fight to make our state the best place in the nation to get a great job, receive a top-notch education and live in a safe community. I wish every Florida family a safe and happy Thanksgiving.”

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis:

“Gathering around my family’s table each year, I’m reminded of the many reasons to be grateful. I’m reminded of our firefighter community, and the men and women who protect our country. Both sacrifice time with their families to keep us safe while we spend time with ours.

“This year, I’m incredibly thankful to serve this great state as your CFO and State Fire Marshal. Thanksgiving marks the start of the season of giving. My hope is that this spirit will remain in our hearts all year long.”

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum:

There are so many things I’m grateful for in my life. In May, my wife and I welcomed our third child, Davis, and our twins Caroline and Jackson continue to make us proud as they grow and learn their place in the world. I’m truly blessed with a house of love. … I’m grateful for the grace of the people of Tallahassee, and people all across Florida. On this journey, we’ve had a chance to meet thousands of people who have shared their stories of triumph, their big dreams, and their hopes for their children. They’ve given us strength and hope that our state’s best days are still ahead of us. … And I’m grateful for the richness of our experience, especially during trying times. Our collective strength far outweighs the difficulties we might face, and I’ve never been more convinced of that than I am today.

Gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham:

“While there will always be more work to accomplish and more challenges to meet, this Thanksgiving I am reflecting on how fortunate we are to live in America and how thankful I am for the people of this great state. Florida is blessed with amazing beaches and springs, live oaks and palm trees, wild turkeys and orange groves — but our greatest blessing is each other, our fellow Floridians.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, on what he’s faithful for:

“Melissa and the kids. My faith. The resilience of this state. We’ve faced so many challenges this year, and there are many more ahead in our future. But the people of Florida prove time and time again that they can withstand anything that comes our way.”

Sen. Thad Altman, via Twitter:

“Thankful every day for God, my Family, our Veterans, our Active Military men and women, and First Responders who serve and protect this great nation including on Thanksgiving Day.”

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto:

“During this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of all we have to be grateful for. First and foremost, as a mother, I am thankful to have the ability to spend this holiday with my son Austin and daughter Gabriella. Also, I am thankful that you have placed your trust in me to serve on your behalf in the Florida Senate. It is truly an honor to serve beautiful Southwest Florida. … In the United States of America we have a great number of things to be thankful for, but paramount among them are the service members who sacrifice greatly to protect our freedom. Let us remember and thank our servicemen and women during this season. … Lastly, this Thanksgiving I hope we can all take time to reflect on the blessings in our lives and be sure to keep in mind the less fortunate in our community. Let us continue to look to the future with hope and gratitude in our hearts, and a love for all humankind.”

Wishbone, one of two turkeys pardoned by Donald Trump, is previewed in the press briefing room.

Sen. Jim Boyd:

“The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 and was a three day long feast celebrating the pilgrims coming to the New World in search of liberty. Today, we give thanks that we’ve been able to maintain liberty on this continent since the pilgrims landed here 396 years ago.”

Sen. Jeff Brandes:

“This year has given me so much to be thankful for.

“First and foremost, I am incredibly grateful for my wife and children. Natalie and I added a fourth child to our family this year, and eight-year-old Lizzie is already proving she can hold her own amongst her new siblings. We are relishing this time as we get to know her and have learned that she loves swimming, chicken nuggets, and playing Candy Crush (no English required). I am blessed to now say we now make dinner reservations as the Brandes party of six.

“I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to serve the hardworking taxpayers of District 24. I recognize the special trust placed in me to represent our district in the Florida Senate and truly appreciate their thoughts and advocacy as we work together to build a stronger community.

“Finally, I want to say I am especially thankful to my colleagues in the Florida House. Last year, on the sixtieth day of Session, I found myself needing a miracle to pass SB 590, a bill to help unmarried, non-custodial parents establish a path to see their children. The bill had stalled in the House, and the rules needed to be waived in order to hear it (a situation that usually kills the legislation). Leader [Janet] Cruz (D) and Rep. [Lori] Berman (D) graciously agreed to not object and allow the bill to be both read and voted on that final day of Session. This is a gesture that I will not forget as it allowed a day sixty legislative miracle to happen.

“In this all too often partisan world, I am thankful for the relationships that allow us to look beyond party and to extend kindness and trust that so together we can make Florida a better place to live.”

Sen. Denise Grimsley:

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving full of family, friends, and food! … Without the hard work of our farmers and ranchers, Thanksgiving meals wouldn’t be possible. While we’re all thankful for so much this year, I am especially thankful for our Florida Agricultural community. … God bless you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sen. Jack Latvala:

“As we gather with family and friends during this Thanksgiving holiday, I have a lot to be thankful for. I am grateful for my family. They have been my rock, especially during these past few weeks. I’m also thankful for my friends whose support has lifted me up.

“We are fortunate to live in a free country and an incredibly dynamic state. I’m thankful for the men and women who protect our freedom and keep us safe. To our military men and women, I say thank you. To law enforcement, firefighters, and other first responders — I am grateful not only for your support, but the sacrifice you make on a daily basis.

“As you spend time with loved ones over these next few days, remember the things that make this country the greatest of all countries. The spirit of the original European settlers who made great sacrifice to come here still exists today. This Thanksgiving is a great time to remember that America is still a beacon of hope for many around the world.

“Have a great time with friends and family. I will. We all have many reasons to be thankful.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran:

Rep. Lori Berman:

Rep. Danny Burgess:

“I’m thankful for the men and women in uniform who are away from their families this holiday season to ensure I can be with mine.”

Rep. Bob Cortes:

“I am thankful for a new day for another chance at doing right to others. To family, friends and everyone else that makes our lives complete. I am also thankful that even though it has been a rough year full of natural disasters, it has brought us all together with renewed compassion. Thankful for the opportunity to serve and being able to help my fellow Puerto Ricans in their time of need.

“Finally, thankful to live in a free country and enjoy what many in other parts of the world many people are denied.”

Rep. Janet Cruz:

“I’m thankful that my 83-year-old mother, who’s still working, taught me the value of a solid work ethic. I’m proud of my reputation … known as a workhorse, not a show horse. Thanks, Mom! … I’m thankful for a family that fully supports my fascinating yet frustrating service as a Legislator. Nothing better than feeling loved by my husband Steve (the good doctor and smartest all-around man in the WORLD) daughter Ana Cruz (the brilliantly successful redhead at Ballard Partners) and son Nick Cruz (eat at Big Ray’s which will someday contribute to my nursing home fund) … I’m thankful for every American soldier. These brave men and women risk their lives for my freedom … they have never met me, yet they are willing to die for my freedom. Could never thank them enough. … I’m thankful for our teachers in Florida. They are underpaid and often underappreciated, yet they continue to educate and are sometimes the only positive influence in a child’s life. Blessed are the teachers! … I’m thankful for Maddie, Peter, Tess, Patrick, Maizy, and Julian who are my delightful grandchildren. They are living proof that things will be alright once I’m gone. … I’m thankful for a supportive staff in Tampa and Tallahassee make me look good. The taxpayers certainly get their money’s worth here!”

Rep. Dane Eagle:

“My staff and I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful start to the holiday season. As we enjoy this time with our loved ones, let’s remember those who cannot be with their own families as they protect us and defend our freedom. We have many reasons to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!”

Rep. Randy Fine:

“My wife, Wendy, for being a great partner and friend, and for giving us our two young sons, Jacob and David. Every moment I get to spend with them is a blessing. I’m particularly grateful to Wendy this year for the all solo duties she has had to handle when I’ve been in Tallahassee.”

Rep. Jason Fischer:

“Thanksgiving is upon us again, and it offers us all a chance to reflect and show our gratitude for life’s many blessings. And blessed we all are! The Fischer family invites you all to join us as pray a special blessing for our armed service personnel and their families as they work to keep us safe at home and abroad.”

Rep. Bill Hager:

“As you prepare to sit down with your family and friends for a festive holiday meal, I want to take a moment to thank you. Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the Florida House of Representatives. I am privileged to represent District 89 in Tallahassee, and it is only possible because of the honor you have bestowed upon me. Happy Thanksgiving!”

Rep. Blaise Ingoglia:

Rep. Wengay “Newt” Newton:

Rep. Chris Sprowls:

“I’m thankful that I get to experience childhood again through the eyes of our two little boys. Every day brings another gift.”

Rep. Frank White:

“This week we celebrate and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives and as a nation. I’m giving thanks for my family, friends, faith and community. I am blessed every day by my lovely wife, Stephanie, and my three boys Henry, Clayton, and Wesley. In fact, these overwhelming blessings in my life were my primary motivation for entering public service. My faith teaches that to whom much has been given, much is expected. Giving back to my community in public service with your support has been the honor of a lifetime. … I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry:

“I’m thankful for my wife Molly, my kids Boyd, Brooke & Bridget, and for the opportunity to serve the city I love.”

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman:

“I am thankful for quite a bit this year, including my family, friends, and good health. The opportunity to serve the city and people I love for another four years is also at the top of my list. Thank you for believing in me and for giving me a chance to earn your support if I didn’t have it in this past election. Have a happy Thanksgiving and please take a moment to take stock of your blessings. Please also keep St. Pete’s first responders and personnel in your thoughts, for many of them are not able to enjoy Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Thank you, St. Pete.”

Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano:

“As a public servant, I am blessed and thankful to have the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Pasco County and work with individuals at our Tax Collectors office who are truly second to none. Thankful and blessed to have been given the means allowing me to help those less fortunate than us and so I may give back to our community in some small way. God bless!”

Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore:

 

Chief Financial Officer candidate Jeremy Ring:

Pinellas County Republican Party Chair and House District 66 candidate Nick DiCeglie:

“Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re enjoying a tasty home cooked meal this week in the company of family and friends.

“On this Thanksgiving, and every day, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon me, especially my loving and talented wife Erica, and my kids Livia and Carlo. I’m also thankful for my family business, Solar Sanitation, which for 37 years has provided the essential service of trash collection to the residents and businesses of Pinellas County.

“This year I am also thankful for the opportunity to run as a candidate for Florida House, District 66. For more than 20 years, Indian Rocks Beach has been where Erica and I have decided to raise our children and enjoy the breathtaking sunsets in the best place to live, work and play.

“Happy Thanksgiving from the DiCeglie family to yours.”

Lobbying firm The Fiorentino Group:

A Thanksgiving poem dedicated to Florida’s legislative process

A Thanksgiving poem dedicated to Florida’s legislative politics.

Authored by Anonymous. 

I am thankful for my wife, my family, my health, and my friends,

Of course, in today’s political process to name them may bring about their ends.

But, no matter, it’s OK, for right this second they know who they are,

They help me to stay on time, be it to the Knott, the CAP or to the bar.

During Session and the Committee weeks I can count on them to make the save,

But I am most thankful because I can count on them to take secrets to the grave.

____

I am thankful for the President, the Speaker, Senators and the House members,

I am thankful for staff, interns, bill drafting and those who survived the Novembers.

I am thankful to work in a process where we strive to treat one another with respect,

And let’s all be thankful for the Senate and House Sergeants Office’s who keep everything looking perfect.

____

I’m thankful for those who I have shared an office with — some even have achieved fame,

I’ve been blessed to work with and know some of the smartest people in the game.

____

I’m thankful for the bills we pass and kill — even when no one has a clue.

I’m thankful for the Old Capitol, the tower, the rotunda and the carpet which is blue.

I’m thankful for mariachi Monday, track and taco Tuesday, pink Wednesday, unguarded chocolate candy bowls and Cuban coffee (well, Diet Dr Pepper) in the tower,

I am thankful for j2j, the Clerk’s Office, and Sharkey’s, Eatz, and Goodies keeping us fed when the time is seemingly dour.

I am thankful for the newspapers, the blogs and the handbills which I read,

But really I am thankful for my ol’ Twitter feed.

____

I am thankful to all those (hey boss!) who gave me the opportunities to serve the people of our great state,

I am thankful for those who I trade political rumors with via pin, dm, text or email- even when the time is late.

I’m thankful for those who make their way to the Capitol and wait in long lines just to get in,

I’m thankful for the festivities on “red square” between the Capitol buildings, although they were more fun “way back when.”

I am thankful to be reminded of SFM and by CD to look around and exalt in what I do each day,

Life is indeed too short to have it any other way.

____

I am thankful for those who make me think even when we disagree,

I am thankful for those who serve to keep us safe and free.

I am thankful for “wave close,” and those who just “stand in opposition/favor of this good bill,”

I am thankful for the many awesome historic photos on the walls taken with such skill.

But most of all I am thankful to be a part of a process which allows the freedom to say,

I’m proud to serve the people of Florida and the good ol’ U S of A.

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